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well, finally made it to the age of cheaper insurance! Twas a fun day – a pic of my excellent chocolate cake courtesy of Madison will go up later! – but twas yum. Thanks to everyone who sent cards etc… really lovely out here.

Out to comedy and dinner with Glynn and Maeve. The comedy was pretty good really – well the comperes were – the Blackstreet Boyz. Yeah, pretty funny blokes – beware anyone who stood up in the middle of their act. There was a pretty funny juggler guy, he did some excellent hat routines – rolling them down his arms – across his shoulders – all that sort of thing.

Mind you, I wasn’t impressed with his Diabolo skills… well.. not the ones he displayed anyway – he did the easiest (yet most? impressive trick) – flick it way up into the air and catch it again. Easy. Honestly – it’s about the first trick you learn. I’ve been trying to teach myself contact juggling again (watch Labyrinth) – and that’s just damn hard. Still – he had a good routine.

The second act was pretty bad – depended far too much on the audience participation – and they weren’t participating… – it was a sorta Siamese twin act. Original though I suppose :)

Then out to the long stone I think it was – a sorta meat-fest establishment, where we ate a lot of food, had a few beers.. few cocktails, and finally home.

Yeah, all in all it was an excellent birthday – really great to have friends as good as Glynn and Maeve over here, though it was odd to be quite so far from a Dublin pub for my birthday.

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Not that I’m competitive mind, but i have at last beaten Thor – my squash partner – 4:3. Ok, so admittedly his squash racquet had a broken frame and he has to replace it.. but that doesn’t take from it at all.

Not at all.

Off to to Whale watching and dolphin watching at the weekend maybe… my manager has a holiday house up the coast – so she has invited the office to head up.. should be an excuse to chill out and have a nice bar-b-q etc. Not that you really need an excuse I guess.

Work is getting a *lot* busier… I seem to have confirmed my place as a techno-wiz by managing to make a signature in Outlook that can take images. It was phenomenally difficult ;) Still – the rest of the company is going to start using them. Personally I still send everything in txt – complete waste of bandwidth really..

Oh – and Jorg – our German biker friend from Waitomo mailed today wondering if the offer of accommodation still stood, which of course it does – so more visitors, ’tis lovely.

Rachel and Nate have done yet another clever thing! They’ve gone WWOOF’ing up in the North of the South Island.. in a particularly lovely beachy part of the island (I believe) Nate had found out that you can take a hire car from Christchurch and return it to Picton – for the hire company – and all you pay is the petrol – so works out quite cheaply… smart bloke that one!

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Well Friday night was fun as we all headed out to a live music gig – which is part of the Buskers Festival that they have at the moment. It was pretty fun heading out on my lunch-break as I saw this guy just doing headstands etc. on his bicycle (as you do). Though I think the coolest thing he did was when he started cycling backwards and gave his front wheel a huge flick and set it spinning. And then he was moving backwards with his front wheel rotating pretty damn quickly. Very impressive, I was sorta surprised he could still make neat circles.

So yeah – out to that gig, will get to some of the comedy club things (all free) that they have going next week (hopefully)


Sat morning The Group (being Rachel, Nate, Me, Anton, Sue, Mike, Jenny – and Mikes sister Christina) headed off to Arthur’s pass for the weekend. Maeve had decided to have a chilled weekend on the beech (summer here… ;)

So off to Arthur’s Pass – which is past Castle Hill – really must get a map going sometime. There are loads of ski-fields up that way in the winter.

Here’s a pic looking on down the pass (I think)

We headed up this pretty steep hill – roughly an 800m hike in 2 hours – will get the OS map and put it up, very steep! And hot… generally cooled off by dipping in the really cold streams.

Off up to the Hut – the DOC – Department of Conservation has a network of huts all over the country – all in scenic places. You can get an annual pass (I bought one on Friday!) for $65, and then you can stay in Any of the huts for free. Which is kinda nice. Ok that’s not strictly true – some of the special walks – the Milford Track etc.. are not covered, but almost everything is. It’s great.

Basic hut – just 4 walls, a counter top, a table and some basic mattresses (should have taken a picture). The ‘Toilet’ had no door.. but an awesome view!

Ok, now you decide for yourself, but it really struck me when I walked round the corner that this (will need to be blown up though)

looked really like a Mexican in a poncho just hunched over with a hat on his head…

However.. it’s not (not completely unsurprisingly I guess, I’ve not heard of many Mexicans heading up remote valleys in NZ with their ponchos and then sitting down)

Well I thought it was funny anyway.

Here’s a nice pic of Rachel and Nathan.

They are great for eachother, but I think the best thing about them – is that they have their own pretty secret – language.. swahili .. from the year they spent in Tanzania. That is pretty cool, and quite unnerving when they start talking!

Finally, we came across a Weta

Which is a pretty impressive looking insect. According to some websites the Giant Weta is the biggest in the world… though who knows.

Chilled out evening, then this morning we headed out early as the weather was due to change. And it did change, bucketed down on us all the way down to the cars. What can you do…

Did see an accident on the way back – a lady was on a motorbike heading down the pass, (was raining hard) and just slid off…. so we stopped and brought her down to the DOC office, she was fine, bit shaken but fine. Bike wasn’t so happy though.

And back to Christchurch, fun weekend – I’m *still* limping from squash back last Tuesday, which is annoying, though it’s almost fine again. Really thought I’d done all the right stretches

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And then last night – just a couple of pics.. there was a big party ish (well big for Christchurch anyway)

My cousin Rachel – who I have so far met up with in Ireland, France, England, the US and Canada (Dublin, Cassis, London, Seattle, Connecticut and Vancouver) and now New Zealand, and her fiancee Nathan – who have just arrived after spending a year doing aid work in Tanzania, and have just come back through India and Thailand…

So there was Rachel and Nathan and Sam and Maeve and I for dinner.. and then Anton and Sue (Anton friend of my cousin Thomas – for those of you who have met him!) And then Mike and Jenny – friends of Antons that we are going camping with in Arthurs pass this weekend. So a good dinner, followed by a few bottles of wine – some real Costa Rican coffee – sent from Costa Rica by Sue’s mother (who is from… yes – you guessed it) Which was yum.. and Jameson and Baileys (not mixed) a fun evening.,,

Here a pic of Maeve and Sam getting on very well! :)

And a picture of the table – minus Maeve and Sam who were washing up very kindly (for once I did the cooking ;)

Left to Right – Nathan&Rachel;, Mike&Jenny;, Anton

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Woolshed Creek – Canyoning

So, a few pics to put up at last – most of these were taken by Sam, and one of them (the close up waterfall rushing water one) was taken by Dave Hume our leader for the canyoning trip.

So this first one is just a shot of some of the group – and the amount of gear and stuff that is brought.

These next two are of the drop into the canyon.

me absailing in.

and this one of another time of the same waterfall, but with more water in it.

and this one of the canyon in general!

and this one of Maeve… it really did get cold!! we all felt like this picture! (for a bit)

and finally one of Sam jumping in, the drop was about 3ish meters, it doesn’t look it from this picture.

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