Hobbit Holes (N. Zealand)

New Zealand ~ Matamata– 2016 / Middle Earth ~ Hobbiton – 2016

If you are a person who is deserving of friends and life in general then you probably love The Lord of the Rings. If you don’t then you are likely the person at parties who people try to avoid; and/or you enjoy boring said people to death by talking about different types of cling-film and the different uses it can provide.. It appears obvious to suggest this but please seek professional help – you are a certified creepozoid.

Thankfully I am not one of these people. In fact I am entirely enchanted by the world of LOTR...it certainly seems a lot better than the real world, a place jam-packed with subway maps, timetables, and mortgage payment plans. I mean why would a person want to live in an apartment building when they could live in a Hobbit hole? Why would you fly with Easy Jet when you could ride on a Great Eagle? Why would…well the list goes on; and every question is as necessary as it is ridiculous. Call it market research or perhaps just fan-boy admiration but I had to go and look at Tolkien’s world for myself.

And so I headed to New Zealand to live out this little dream: AND WHEN I SAY LITTLE DREAM, I MEAN HUGE.

Once I’d arrived in Auckland I noticed straight away how polite and friendly people were; they would say things with a smile, would engage in humorous conversation with total strangers, and give help without any expectation of anything in return. Lovely. They were not however Hobbits…they weren’t even elves for that matter, and this was most disappointing. They were just plain old men, who I had learned from the trifecta of books, films, and Top-Trumps cards, are the most susceptible to the ring’s powers and not to be trusted. They make great burgers though, so that’s one pretty decent bonus.

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I decided to look further afield – and booked a day tour to Hobbiton; the land of Bilbo Baggins, The Green Dragon Pub, and the pitter-patter of countless hairy feet (hopefully).

The landscape during the journey was breathtaking. Despite the stranger next to me not sharing the arm rest, and the faint wiff of egg constantly stinging my nostrils I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a ride in a bus as much. There were rolling green hills as far as my eyes could see, deep blue skies strewn with powerful clouds, and flashes of wildlife which I had never seen before (no, not dragons). It actually reminded me of home, of England…aside from the palm trees of course.

Once I got there I was overcome with excitement, and so were the other members of the group – half of which confessed they had never seen or read The Lord of the Rings…this surprised me but I worked out rather quickly they must be under the hold of some sort of enchantment. Perhaps born from magic, but more likely the effect of the wonderful luscious hills of New Zealand they had witnessed on the way over here. But that wasn’t to be the end of the day’s spectacles…

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We spent the day winding through the pathways of Hobbiton, hearing amusing and surprising little factoids from the lovely tour guide:

“…the party scene took two days and they used a low percent alcohol ale so the cast wouldn’t get as drunk…”

“…many of the supporting cast in Hobbiton were just the cast member’s children, who were staying here anyway during the filming…”

“…there are actually no Hobbits. They are not real. John please, stop asking…wait…stop crying…please!”

Wasn’t a huge fan of that last one. But after the extensive tour, and many many photos to document the once in a lifetime experience…

…we retired to the Green Dragon Pub; the famous haunt of Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry.  This was fortunate timing as the heavens had just begun to open, and soon the muddy pathways would become sludge – so off we scurried as fast as we could, all the way to the inviting warmth of the pub’s wood fire. Here we were told that due to it being “Good Friday” they were not allowed to sell us the lovely amber ale and dark stout…what exactly was good about that totally escapes me, but it was with a sigh of relief that I then heard we would be given one for free. Technically they are not selling it, so perhaps that is okay. She didn’t sound sure, but I couldn’t have cared less and grabbed it before she changed her mind!

On the way back to the city I popped in my tunes (The Lord of the Rings’ soundtrack as planned) and took pleasure in the beautiful scenery once more, which was now a fiery orange sky as the impending night battled with what was left of the day. It had been everything I had wanted*, and more…and there was a joy to finally doing something which I had dreamed about for so long.

Actually I say everything, but I would have certainly loved to see some Hobbits. So it’s more like “everything I had wanted, but less.” Despite this it was absolutely spectacular, and if you ever get the chance, GO!

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The Power of Film

Film is important: 

And there are many reasons for this as it is such a vivid combination of so many arts; cinematography, music, sound design, editing, storytelling, acting…they all play a part in this unparalleled form of expression. It also possesses the sufficient wizardry required to transport us to faraway places and times – both physically and mentally…we can also experience a character’s life and gain an insight into their point of view, however wacky and odd their personality may be. This can serve to make us more accepting, and less prejudice people…or more unaccepting and discriminatory people – with great films comes great power, and (often) well…irresponsibility.

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For a quick example I watched the new James Bond film recently (Spectre), and I found myself nodding along like…“yeah…yeah…I AM in essence 007!” I mean I like clothes, travel, and alcohol – also I’m not a huge fan of overpowering authority figures – the only mark against is that I don’t shoot people for money: but that’s only a minor part of the whole movie franchise, so there we go! I am Bond, James Bond: and I don’t want to hear any arguments about it…

In other news my kindergarten kids have just got into Star Wars…I suppose they’ve been playing it on the TV recently, what with the new one coming out next month – and we’ve been delighting in having non-stop lightsaber battles throughout the duration of the day. I’ve also realised that I am more than likely closer to the dark side than most would say is normal…case in point I have been delighting in killing my six year old Jedi students with my force lightning ability. I mean someone has to be the Sith bad guy – and the red swords are a lot better looking…and yeah, yeah, I know I will eventually lose – but at least I get to look cool while doing it…

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« So you see there is this sense of escape, fantasy…or perhaps even unattainable galactic dreams – and it’s not a thing which can be easily shaken. Or stirred… (urgh, see what I mean?!) »

It’s always been this way though: perhaps I’m easily influenced, but there’s never been a time I can remember where films and their characters haven’t played a pivotal role in either how I want my life to be, or who I wish to be as a person. And naturally I haven’t adopted these roles entirely like some mad life-long method actor – but rather I have just absorbed certain elements which I then begin to endorse…case in point with The Lord of the Rings I became aware through Gimli that running for long distances wasn’t fun – and with Merry and Pippin, that second breakfasts were not something to be embarrassed about. And in Dumbo I learned that if you drink too much bloodthirsty pink elephants will appear in a frenetic dream sequence intent on killing you. All of these things are totally necessary, and I’m thankful for the world of film for enlightening me in so many ways… 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this ramble…would love to hear of some characters and movies which you have enjoyed – especially ones I haven’t heard of! Always on the hunt for a new favourite!

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Aussie Adventures

I have noticed recently that I have been having a lot of readers from Australia! Usually I have a majority readership in the States, and the UK – but recently the Aussie folk have been checking the site out – which is great! 

I haven’t been to Australia (yet), that is certainly one for the future – I do have a dream of visiting New Zealand sometime soon…I want to put on a cape, wander in the hills, and have someone carry around a boombox playing The Lord of the RIngs soundtrack…you know, so I feel like Aragorn

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Maybe when that happens I will drop by Australia to see you guys! So in preparation, I had a little think, and did a little research – and I’ve came up with a list of reasons your wonderful country is a place I soon want to be writing about first hand.

Warning: the following is probably/definitely grossly inaccurate, so please correct me where necessary…but I gave it by best shot (kinda), so here we are…in first place:

The weather:

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It’s like always sunny there, right? Which is nice, I can picture myself lying there sunning myself on a beach, or whatever – slapping on some dark oil, and ending up with a beautifully golden glow…people would walk by, and be all; “hey, nice tan!” and I would be all…“yeah, thanks for stating the obvious!” I would show people my tan lines, and they would be amazed at the tremendous force of the sun, which I have managed to harness in order to look ten times better than they possibly ever could.

I mean…yeah, I can picture this, in the most positive realm of my imagination…but this is definitely not what would happen…you would hear instant sizzling, and then I would be mistook for a huge slab of red meat, and promptly thrown on the barbie for the other tanned people to enjoy…ah, the circle of life!

That brings me rather neatly on to my next point:

The BBQs: 

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Who doesn’t like BBQs?! Well…vegans, and vegetarians, I would imagine...but anyway, as a registered carnivore they are certainly a treat I like once in a while! Obviously I would never be as childish, and downright rude as Zac Efron –  I mean look at this guy…who would even dare? With the hair…and the muscles…and the “I don’t care if you wanted to eat this sausage John, I am using it for a hilarious prank to amuse my friends” look. Pfft.

I actually don’t have too much experience with BBQs…in England we occasionally have them in summer, but then it rains…and everyone runs inside, and eats disgusting burnt meat, that is somehow raw in the middle – slapped inside a now soggy bun. I imagine Australians have it down to an art, so yeah, I am expecting good things…

And what is a BBQ without:

The beer…

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Who doesn’t like beer?! Well people who don’t drink…and those who don’t like beer…and people who want to blab about yeast all the time…but I find myself in none of those groups, so wooo! Let’s get this party started! Althooooughhhh…I have only ever had one Australian beer, which is unsurprisingly, Fosters. This beer, for want of a better phrase…tastes like stewed horse-piss, (that’s why Buffy is all “PLEASE NO MORE!”)

What do Australians actually drink? That’s what I want to know – so I can join in with the merriment!

Anyway, this is the last draw for me:

The animals… 

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Who doesn’t like sharks?! Well people who have been in shark attacks I imagine. But still, you have to admit they are cool creatures. True warriors of the deep, even though they do get bad press. I would probably befriend one, and all the other sharks would think he was a weirdo…but then at the end, he would jump over me  – and they would make a movie about the whole experience, called “Free Finny” – and they would get Zac Efron to play my character.

There are a bunch of other weird, and wonderful creatures there – a large majority, it seems – which can kill you. For the longest time I thought Koala Bears were little cuties…so you know, at least it wasn’t all bad…but yesterday on National Geographic I saw them attacking each other like maniacs, the vicious bastards! Will I even survive if I go there?! Or will the police find me strangled to death by a Eucalyptus plant?!

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So basically guys, I’ll come clean – I have no clue what to expect – my knowledge (if you can call it that), is based on second-hand information, shoddy internet research, and an overactive imagination…so please, do let me know what the REAL Australia is about…hopefully I will be there shortly with you guys! 

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