Just like Old Zealand, only newer...

I am now, officially, on the other side of the world. And you know what? It’s sodding pretty out here. Pretty and with more sushi bars than you can shake a fishy sick at. How much more could you want?

How about simulated suicide?

You see, I now know the answer to that age old question: if you jump off a building, are your eyes open or closed when you hit the ground? Now I have to confess that I’ve never jumped off a building before. The highest thing I’ve ever jumped off was the roof of our childhood home. And that was a bungalow, so it doesn’t really count. But yesterday, tired of all this international jet-setting I did leap from the Sky Tower in Auckland, on the North Island of New Zealand. 630 foot of vertical drop.

Normally I wouldn’t go near that kind of thing with a hairy monkey, but for some God-forsaken reason I kinda talked myself into it, and a testicle garotting safety harness. Of course, being Scottish I couldn’t do it on a nice sunny day, could I? No, I had to do it when the drizzle was at its drizzliest.

Well, when I say ‘drizzliest’ what I mean is that it was kinda overcast and drizzly right up to five minutes before I jumped, and it was overcast and drizzly again five minutes after I jumped, but when it came time for the actual jump, it was hammering down monsoon-stylie. Like taking a sodding bath in the sky.

They gave me a DVD of my jump and there’s so much water on screen I keep expecting Jack Cousteau to narrate the bloody thing. But I did it. And then I went for a beer. And then I squelched back to the hotel, with everyone in Auckland looking at me and wondering why I’d obviously gone swimming with all my clothes on.

But this airborne soggy lunacy is all in the past... Now I can be all sensible. Or as close to it as I actually get.

Soon as I was dried out from my Spiderman-esque adventure* I was whisked from the hotel to the airport by New Zealand’s very own Fantasy Novel Writing Powerhouse, Russell Kirkpatrick. You see, Mr Kirkpatrick** has kindly agreed to act as my guide for a wee tour around the south Island***. How cool is that? So this morning, after a cramped flight down to Christchurch, he commenced his guidely duties by sodding off for a game of golf with his brother, and lumbering his sister in-law Angela with entertaining the bearded Scottish bloke for the morning.

So the lovely Ange**** took me all around a mist-shrouded Christchurch, out to a mist-shrouded beach (with optional mist-shrouded pier), and then on to another beach that had forgotten to order it’s morning ration of mist., so was all sparkly and lovely. This is a stunningly beautiful part of the world. After just one morning I can really see why people emigrate. We had chips by the sea (lovely), lime milk shakes (lovely if you’re keen on washing up liquid as a flavour), and a stop over in Lyttleton, where I spent ages taking photographs of the amazing scenery and a couple of graveyards too*****.

This afternoon we’re off to see the penguins, the wonderful penguins of ... well, not OZ, obviously. But somewhere I can’t pronounce, let alone spell, where apparently I won’t be allowed to eat any of the penguins. *sigh*

Ah well, can’t have everything, I suppose...

* Is it just me, or is Spiderman a bit of Jessie? I mean all that, ‘Action is his reward’ bollocks. If I’m saving a bank from a semi-mechanical octopus man, I want my reward to be in the form of sodding huge piles of cash. And some scantly-clad dancing girls, thank you very much.
** He likes me to call him that, because I’m taller, younger, and considerably sexier than him.
*** Russell’s also a professional cartographer, so if we get lost on the trip, we’ve only got him to blame.
**** I should point out, that Ange has three kids, so was all skilled up to cope with being dumped with a random crime write-ist. Plus she’s a seriously nice lady with a slightly odd sense of humour. Which made the trip all the better.
*** They shot The Frightners in Lyttleton, one of my top 10 favourite films.

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