Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 11 – 27/28 February 2017

(Look! The elusive consecutive day update thing! Yay!)

So, guess where we went today? No. Nope. Wrong again. We visited Hobbiton! AND IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME!

It was a bit of a drive and we had a stop or two along the way. It mostly involved a certain someone getting stuck in a certain modern toilet. Luckily, as we neared our destination, one of the busses from the nearby (unpronounceable) town turned into the road in-front of us, so we could just follow it.  We arrived slightly in the nick of time, but that was fine in the end. We got our tickets and off we went on in a bus. It was just Migaél and I going on the tour, as the entrance fee is pretty steep. We stopped at the entrance of The Shire – which really is just a little fence with a gate in it – and off we went for a guided tour.

We saw the many Hobbit Holes™ (it’s trademarked apparently) and had a good drink at The Green Dragon Inn. We walked around Frog Pond and stopped to admire the massive pumpkins the maintenance crew are currently growing. Interestingly, all the vegetation on the film set is real, except the tree above Bag End, which is made of steel, silicone and about two hundred thousand plastic leaves. But the veggie farm is real and the produce gets distributed to the staff and crew.

All in all, it was a good experience. The gift shop was nice, but overpriced (although the Mumzi thought it is the most boring shop ever), the service was excellent and the bus driver was a comedian. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what his name was. The only thing I was a little disappointed in, was the fact that there was no random Hobbit walking around or a random Gandalf appearing on a cart to take us on an adventure. But oh well, maybe that will come.

 

P.S. If you are reading this and you work at or are the manager of said Hobbiton, give the bus driver of the 13:00 tour (28 Feb 2017) a raise. And sommer the guide too. Becca is her name, I believe. Just tell her not to leave the free zucchini in her car for two weeks…

P.P.S.S.OR.WHATEVER. New Zealand is a very pretty country. Whilst we drove to Hobbiton, we saw beautiful landscapes that ranged from the Cape area to near the Sabie area, all in a matter of minutes. It is really a beautiful country. Almost gives SA a run for it’s money…

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Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 10 – 26/27 February 2017

(“Oops I skipped a day” isn’t going to work anymore, right? Sigh…)

OK, so today we went to a beach again. It was a very pretty beach that was very wide. It had a great big rock in it, which naturally Migaél and I climbed (I had an unholy number of uneven steps), and gazed upon the beauty that is New Zealand’s North Island’s West Coast. From today, I believe that New Zealand is just as pretty as South Africa and that it can indeed be a film maker’s paradise. Well done to you Peter Jackson & Co.

Also, today I saw a bunch of nice cars. From a 1970s Chevy Camaro to a Pontiac GTO Convertible from the same era. There was also a 1960s Chevy Bel-Air hot rod and a Vista Cruiser hot rod from the same era. I walked past a Lancer Evolution IV and VIII. The Evo VIII was modified with custom bumpers, side-skirts and a carbon hood. It was also lowered to a silly height, or should I say ‘lowt’.

We are past halfway through our trip here to Slightly Skew to Down Under. The Branckies keep telling us to change our flight to later, but yeah… Oh, plus I realised that I have a two-hour test to do the day after we get back. Qatar Airways, I hope you have good internet…

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 6 – 21/22 February 2017

Yes I skipped another day. Boo hoo.

 

So I have been busy studying for the past few days whilst the young Branckens are doing school. I quite enjoy it. Luckily with doing home-schooling for eight years of my schooling career, I learned to work in various places. Heck, now I even blog anywhere. I once blogged whilst walking when my mother was shopping in IKEA. (Think it was Little Aston + Big Heart = Lots of Fun)

It has been quite a few days since I said anything about cars, so here goes…

New Zealand has cool cars. In the five-odd days since we’ve been here, I have seen some really cool cars. On one day, I saw three different Nissan R33 GT-Rs and a relatively stock Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII. Along with that, all the Chevrolets in this country – and I imagine Australia as well – are Holdens. Plus, I bought a magazine called NZV8 that is like our Speed & Sound, but all the custom cars in it has V8s. In this NZV8, there is a brand new Holden Commodore HSV GTS-R. It has 435KW and 740NM from a Chevrolet 6.2L Supercharged LSA engine that you find in the Camaro ZL1. The example in the magazine is orange with matt-black accents and it looks positively menacing. There is also a more track-focused version called the Holden Commodore HSV GTS-R W1 that has various changes made to it in order for it to accommodate the LS9 engine from the Corvette ZR1. This one produces 470KW, but just like all American V8 motors, it can easily be upgraded.

The price for this is quite a bit high. The W1 version is NZ$190k (R1.8m) and the ‘normal’ GTS-R is NZ$130k (R1.25m). But both come with manual transmissions in cars as and more powerful as than many supercars. But unlike most supercars, you get to scare the s*** out of three people at once.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 4 – 19/20 February 2017

I skipped a day, shhh.

So today, we went driving about. We drove to the north of the north island to go see a small patch of land that our friends bought. On our way there, we stopped at a place called Sheepworld. Sheepworld had exactly five sheep, all of whom were pink – and a broken tractor. This place also had flags about it with ‘sheep’ on them, but that actually looks like clouds with legs. My parents and I had some expensive lasagne and some of the best ginger beer we’ve ever tasted.

Also, the Holdens in this country are awesome! Yes, most of them have V6s, but the odd one has a mighty ‘Murican V8. I decided that I will buy one one day and ship it to SA. It shouldn’t be a problem as it has its steering-wheel on the correct side and everything.

 

Later…

I am currently writing this from a bench at a petrol station somewhere on the North Island. The reason for this is that our car, the trusty Toyota TownAce NOAH, has decided it needs to charge its batteries with something other than it’s own alternator. I find this all hilarious. Here’s how it went…

We drove up a hill and the car started to shake a bit and lose power. It kept losing power until it had had enough. The revs went down and down and down and I was amazed that it could idle at 200rpm. Anyway, we stopped under a tree and waited a bit. Oom Abe called for help and everyone decided to go find coffee. Me, my mother, tannie Leoni and the kids walked a kilometre to the nearest hotel-ish looking building, but upon closer inspection decided to walk a bit further to the petrol station across the road. The hotel looked a bit dodgy. We waited about an hour before finally deciding to buy a new battery and risk driving back to Auckland, which the mechanic said we might not make. The 120km drive that would have taken us about an hour and a half, took about 3 with all the stopping without us even reaching our destination. Instead we half-drove half-freed our way back to civilisation.

So, in the end, rather than reaching our destination, we have another hilarious story to tell with the Branckies.

P.S. It is currently five in the morning (4pm crazy time). I am laughing inside.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 2 – 17/18 February 2017

Well, it is currently 00:00 at night normal time, but eleven in the morning crazy time. Had a good night’s rest and I believe that jet lag won’t be a thing. Hopefully. Was slightly dizzy when I woke up, but that is probably just from being upside-down the entire time. (Hehe.:))

The internet here is a lot better than anything in Cairo, but that was to be expected as this is a first-world country and not a bit of dusty buildings stuck in a never-ending pit of warm sand. Hmm, that’s not depressing at all.

Later…

Ok so, in the time before the visit to New Zealand, I was preoccupied with the long flight. However, I didn’t really anticipate the weather this side. The weather being hot. Hot and humid. We came from a relatively cool Cairo to an unbearably hot Auckland. Quite a shock.

Our Trip to the Land Next to the Land Down Under (or OTttLNttLDU if you will…)

Day 1 – 16/17 February 2017

So. New Zealand. It’s an island in the Pacific. Well, islands. With a nice bridge in-between. It is currently 10:30 in the morning, New Zealand time, which is actually 23:30 in normal speaking (GMT +2). The flight here took forever and we are literally the diameter of the planet away from either home. It’s weird. I have never been out of GMT or GMT+2. Now the days and nights have been swapped around. Luckily I slept on the 15-and-a-bit hour flight. I am now just waiting or the jet lag to hit me. Many people say that it only comes the day after, but I wouldn’t know as I’ve never had it.

Car Names: Magnificent and Boring

I’ve been thinking a lot about names recently, specifically car names. Most car manufacturers use names to distinguish between the various models of cars they produce. However, some carmakers are so exclusive that they just assume that you know their cars. Manufacturers such as Bentley and Rolls Royce. These two carmakers do no tell you what model their cars are, so if you are a non-car-freak, then you wouldn’t have a clue if it’s a Bentayga, Ghost or Silver Shadow. I love this.

Then you get carmakers who give their cars silly names, for instance, the Opel/Vauxhall Adam. Seriously? Adam? Where’s Eve? There are also those companies in China that blatantly copy popular carmaker’s models like the Range Rover Evoque. In China, there is a car called the ‘Land Wind’ which looks exactly like an Evoque. And there is an X5 which isn’t an X5, but which is an X5. BMW even sued the company over their non-X5 X5 and lost, because the court said that the ‘CEO’ (non-X5 X5) doesn’t look at all like an X5. (It does.)

But back to the topic at hand. Names are important. It will have to stand the test of time, and many have. Toyota and Nissan have accomplished this with the Supra and GT-R badges and Ford has done even better with their Mustang. Dodge has their Charger, Chevy has its Corvette and Lada has its Niva. (The last one is just for sh*ts and giggles.)

Some of the most unimaginative names are probably from the Germans. Yes it is all in the name of efficiency and such, but it’s really boring. 1-Series, 2-Series, 3-Series, A-Class, B-Class, C-Class, A1, A2, A3. It’s so boring. And in their sport models they just add M, AMG and RS respectively. It the same with Jaguar and Volvo with the XF, XJ, E-Type, XC90, V60 and S90.

Now, I have to say that my favourite car name is probably the Atom from Ariel. It is awesome! Imagine sitting in a British pub and you and your mates are talking about the cars you drive. “Yeah, I drive a Vauxhall Maloo GTS” and “I drive an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde” (another awesome name) and then you come along and say, “I drive an Atom”. A freaking Atom! How cool would that be?!

Now, if I ever had a car company of my own and I was in charge of naming the models, I would go the same way as the Germans. Regardless of what the company’s name is, the models will be correspondent to amount of cylinders the engine ha, i.e. 4, 6, 8, etc. Then, depending on aspiration, it would receive a T/TT (turbo/twin-turbo) or an S (supercharged).

The normal, everyday model would probably be the (company name) 4T or 4TD and the big supercar being the 12TT.

So yes, even though I went on about how boring some car manufacturers’ models are, I would also go that way.

(Yes, I am boring. My favourite colour I grey, for Pete’s sake!)