January 4th, 2007

Wanaka tree

Babs in Amsterdam

Well, I'm back from The Netherlands and back at work. Where did it all go? The Christmas and New Year holiday just seemed to whizz by. Actually, that probably just means that I had a really good time. As someone who doesn't generally go for the traditional and the things that are expected, getting away for Christmas is a great option.

I always enjoy being with my Dutch friends and Christmas is usually a convenient time for everyone to get together. I feel very honoured that they are prepared to put up with me and it is always interesting, even when the weather isn't that great. For most of the time it was misty, damp and not particularly warm.

On the way home last Saturday we did something that was brilliant for me. Although my flight back to Bristol was late in the evening, we set off from Meeden at lunchtime and drove down to Amsterdam. I had made arrangements to do something that would cap my year off delightfully. I met up with Barbara.

I met Babs for the first time back in January 2005 in Wanaka in New Zealand. You may recall from an earlier entry that I met up with Mariella in Konstanz while I was staying in Switzerland in October. Barbara and Mariella spent six months travelling around New Zealand together. They both impressed me so much with their spirit, intelligence and determination, their sheer enjoyment of what they were doing and their incredible smiles. We hit it off straight away and stayed in close touch when our respective journey went in different directions.

It was so good to see Babs again. She was great company and the few hours we spent together in Amsterdam just flew by. She is studying physiotherapy in Amsterdam. We talked about so many things, not just New Zealand, shared plans we have for more journeys and the serious possibility of a visit to the UK this coming year. I hope that comes off, it will be a real pleasure and a great privilege to show either Barbara or Mariella, or ideally both together, around my part of Britain. Like her friend, Babs is a warm, thoughtful, caring and very aware person who adds sparkle and light to the world she inhabits. I am very proud to consider her my friend.

I went through Schiphol Airport and my flight back to Bristol with a warm glow in me as I thought about our brief reunion and the promises of more in the future. It pleases me so much when I think about the great friendships I made with people from all over the world while I was travelling in Aotearoa. To have got back together with several people on this side of the world, when we first met as travellers and backpackers so very far from home, has been ones of the greatest pleasures and most important things to have come out of my travels. There is no question, friends are good for you and good friends are wonderful; these friendships are something that is really worth treasuring.

Thanks Babs, for being able to meet again and for the great job you did of playing host in the city you have adopted as home, at least for the time being. As I say, the afternoon spent with you completed my year in the best possible way. 

Wanaka tree

New friends...well...

I have said this many times now, and it is just as true as I sit here writing this as it ever was - all my friends are important to me; my LJ friends are important and so are the people I have met and bonded with. It is rare for me to have a friend here on LJ who I knew before I set up my journal.


whakatane  is someone I have known for a couple of years, in fact I can pinpoint the exact time and place we first met; January 24th 2005 in the wonderful little New Zealand coastal town of Hokitika - more specifically, on the balcony of Mountain Jade Backpackers not long after her bus had got in from the drive up Highway 6 from Wanaka. We just grinned at each other and that was that - friends.  We met up again later in our travels and shared a few days enjoying the landscape we were in together. I am delighted by her choice of user-name as well. We had a great day, full of highs and lows, full of tough moments and moments of pure joy when we did a coastal walk near this small NZ town, way up in the Bay of Plenty. I know that the story behind this Maori placename is important to Rebekka too.


She is someone who has had a great impact on my life and it is very touching that we are happy to consider each other 'soul brother' and 'soul sister'.  Even though we have been friends for only a relatively short time, I now can't quite imagine life without knowing Rebekka. We all have important people in our lives, those few treasured people who influence us most, Rebekka is one of mine and, as a friend, I love her very much. Now she has an LJ, although she is yet to post anything. A new friend on LJ means a picture to dedicate, but a friend of the calibre of Rebekka merits a series of images, so, here and behind the cut are the ones for you.

Early in the morning, on a very cold and frosty November day, I went out with my camera and took the following sunrise images in the fields close to my home.

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Please click on the images to see larger versions.


whakatane, it is a real pleasure to know you, to have shared your company, to have spent a lot of time with you, to have met and befriended those who are important to you. I have learned a lot from you - one of those things being - in you I have a friend for life, and there is nothing more special than that.