Wanderings Day 22

Aloha, ohana!

Its Earth Day today. The 50th anniversary of celebrating this day in fact.

Today’s wandering will take us to a pretty special place on earth. The island of Oahu, Hawaii.

I have had the immense privilege of travelling to Hawaii on five different occasions with some quite wonderful human beings. It never gets old or tiresome.

The nature, the culture, the people, the spirit of the Hawaiian Islands are unique and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

After five trips there were quite a lot of pics to wade through on this one. Settled on these 20 in the end.

Mahalo for taking this virtual wander with me!

Wanderings Day 21

The start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing from the Mangatepopo Valley side
Mt Ngāuruhoe

Today we are staying in the Tongariro National Park. This time to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – a 19km ish hike through an old glacial valley and up the side of a volcano, along the craters at the top and down the other side.

Mt Taranaki in the distant cloud
Nearly at the top of Mt Tongariro

I have completed the Crossing a number of times since I’ve been in New Zealand. Each time the mood of the mountain is different but each time magical in its own way.

The edge of Red Crater looking towards the Kaimanawa Ranges in the distance
Ngāuruhoe hiding Ruapehu behind him

These are pics from a particularly spectacular trip on a clear May day after some early snows.

Fumes from Red Crater
Looking south from the end of North Crater – along Red Crater to Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu in the distance

More magic and another pure space to be so grateful for!

Fumes from Te Maari Crater seen on the descent towards Ketetahi Carpark and the end of Crossing
Early morning light on Ruapehu from Piper’s Ski Lodge, National Park

Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.

Florence Williams

Wanderings Day 20

“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest… I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.”

J R R Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

Today’s wandering takes us to some very special mountains. The volcanoes of the central plateau in New Zealand’s North Island. I have visited this area many times over the years and experience a different mood each time.

Again, quite a bit of filming around here for Lord of the Rings movies…. it definitely has a Middle Earth magic.

These pics are from a visit to the Chateau Tongariro for family Christmas.

Wanderings Day 19

Another wandering day in search of Middle Earth…. and another “travels with mom” adventure.

This time we visit Hobbiton in the Shire.

I highly recommend the evening banquet tour. You enjoy a wander through Hobbiton at sun down including a visit to Bag End, Bagshot Row and the Party Tree. Then arrive at the Green Dragon for a fabulous feast fit for Hobbits and finish with a lantern tour back through Hobbiton.

Professor Tolkien’s descriptions of Hobbiton and surrounds leap off the page and you are magically transported to the Shire for a little while.

Wanderings Day 18

For today’s wandering we are back in beautiful Aotearoa/New Zealand remembering another “travels with mom” adventure in search of Middle Earth.

New Zealand’s North Island. State Highway 3 takes you through the King Country west of the Waikato River. The landscape here is mystical and intriguing – limestone and sandstone bluffs surrounded by ancient Podocarp forest.

Take State Highway 3 and wind your way through the Awakino gorge till you hit the west coast and its black sand beaches.

Stay at Struan Farm if you like a green country garden setting with the sheep wandering by.

And then definitely adventure into the hills near Piopio to find the Hairy Feet tour – a perfect Middle Earth location. On this farm they filmed part of the first Hobbit movie – An Unexpected Journey.

The day mom and I were there it was pouring rain. It was just us and the guide…. and it was magical. Not just because I am such a Middle Earth fan but also the karst landscape. I am a bit of a geology geek too!

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you may be swept off to.” J R R Tolkien

Wanderings Day 17

Before we leave the UK and head back to New Zealand, we have to stop briefly at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London!

I have visited this incredible experience twice and I have hundreds of photos. It was so difficult to choose a few to share for this virtual wander. I settled on some from my winter wander. It was Christmas at Hogwarts. Pure magic!

I love how this little person is eyeing which pressie to vault the rope and grab…. and yes, I definitely enjoyed a coffee on arrival… and then a butter beer once on tour!
Dumbledore’s office
Potions class with Professor Snape
Umbridge’s office
The Weasleys’ kitchen
The Knight Bus

The magic is in all the little details you discover. The pics will never do this justice. Even if you are not a big fan of the movies, this experience is still worth a visit.

Signing off this post with a couple of great J K Rowling quotes:

It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.

Wanderings Day 16

Today I am all about my Celtic roots.

Edinburgh skyline from Calton Hill
Abbey at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

I remember my first visit to Scotland so vividly. It was a “travels with mom” adventure circa 2003. We drove up from London to Glasgow. Overnight in Glasgow and then on the train up to Mallaig, overnight in Fort William and the next morning more train to Edinburgh. Then a couple of days taking in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh. It was April but it was freezing!! A deep fried Mars bar was an experience, as was trying to understand a Glaswegian accent! Ben Nevis was jaw dropping to behold. But most overwhelming for me was how at home I felt, instantly on arrival. Me and Scotland – love at first sight.

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

I have been back a couple of times now – solo traveller. Still love it. Could live there if the opportunity presented.

Dream of going north to John o’ Groats and the Hebrides.

Today’s virtual wanderings take in a winter wander – Edinburgh and the Highlands including Loch Ness. And then another set of pics of a summer stay – Edinburgh, Stirling and Loch Lomond.

Wanderings Day 15

London town! I was in the city for a Mindfulness in Education Conference a while back. Remembering a grey January day and a winter wander all over London.

Wanderings Day 14

It should be said that I am not normally a city girl. But just like Bath from yesterday’s post, Oxford is another English city which I really enjoy wandering the streets of.

Just like wild spaces have a spirit to them, I believe some urban spaces do too. Perhaps something of the history and culture of a place seeps from the pavements up into your feet?

I suppose the extra pull of Oxford for me is how much time Professor Tolkien spent here.

I love the architecture. I have had the privilege of visiting Oxford in the summer and in the winter. There is something magical in the way light changes, reflecting off the buildings, intriguing the senses the way it does in natural places.

And then, of course, there are the happy memories of visiting Oxford with precious family that make the wandering all the more special.

These pics are of a January day enjoying a wander through the quiet, chilly streets of the “City of Dreaming Spires”.