You don’t need that much money to travel

Before we started on the trip I really wanted someone to give me a straight answer about how much money you need to save before travelling. And I researched as much as I could without leaving my bedroom. It is a really tough one to answer but we haven’t earned any money in the last 5 months and I’d say we have spent about *searched for a pound sign…damn I’m in New Zealand!* 5000GBP between the two of us. We worked out today that we are currently spending on average $55 a day for two when working for accommodation and about $75 per day between two when staying in campsites in the van.

Obviously we laid out a whole heap of cash for a van. And the flights. But as long as you don’t drink a lot in the wrong places and are willing to cook your own (basic ingredients) food, then you’ll be right. If you book on tours/ for activities these will take chunks out of your budget, so choose wisely. And decide, do you want to live somewhere for a while or tick off your list? That will affect the money you need and what you spend it on.

Tips for cheap travel:

  1. GO VEGETARIAN! Seriously, get good at making lentils appetizing. Eggs also are your friend.
  2. Invest in a few herbs and spices (helps with achieving point #1)
  3. Flour. Milk. Oil. = flat bread pizzas, crepes, pancakes, white sauce… Staples are your friend.
  4. Use DOC campsites (the one in Port Jackson was my favourite so far) for $10pp (and sometimes cheaper!) accommodation
  5. Many places in New Zealand have communal BBQs so make the most of outdoor dining
  6. Use happy hour wisely
  7. If you want to buy a meal, you get more for your money at lunchtime
  8. Work exchange programmes e.g., Workaway, WWOOF (if you’re into organic farming), HelpEx (we haven’t tried this but similar principle to workaway), ask if the local hostel offer work for accommodation
  9. Go outside, take a walk, draw what you see, talk to people. All free. And knowing Kiwis, you’ll probably end up having dinner at someone’s house or being invited to stay! Bonus.


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Why, why why, Waiheke?

…because it is a beautiful island, packed with gorgeous beaches, reggae-loving ex-pats, artists and wineries. What’s not to love? (I’m aware that your social conscience might have an answer to my rhetorical question but just embrace it, ok?)

We arrived for a workaway with a catering company. The advert suggested the work would be tough, arduous and dirty; turns out they say this to put people off because it’s such as desirable place to be! I’ve never been so glad not to be afraid of some dirty work (I used to work in sales, don’t talk to me about “dirty” work). The sun was shining, the weather was sweet – was probably playing on the stereo as we arrived. Our 3 hours work a day consisted of food prep, cleaning the burger van and serving at weddings on the weekend. With some absolute legendary Kiwis and ex-pat Brits. Rounded off with a pint (or 3) of the boss’s homebrew, which Manshape insists is the finest he has ever sampled. I don’t want you to get the impression that he’s too into his alcohol but he does love an ale. So I trust his judgement on this one.

Not only was the work a fun relief from the 9-5 (more like 7-6 in London schools) but the lifestyle was perfect. Sea kayaking, (clothes optional) beach hopping, wine tasting, Saturday market: just *insert hyperbolic phrase of wonderment here.* I even managed to do some Irish dancing in the world’s quietest Irish bar (it livened up for Paddy’s day – apparently the only day it does!)

Manshape and myself realised we were onto a wonderful thing. So we stayed another 2 weeks for another workaway family. Different project (permaculture) and different vibe (no regular drinking on site vs homebrew served on site!) but just as rewarding.

Suddenly 5 weeks had passed, I no longer knew what the date was (and didn’t care, and didn’t have to care, as no one now asks me on an hourly basis what date it is and whether they should underline it – bliss). We realised that everyone around us had come to Waiheke from somewhere else (it is an island off the coast of Auckland, so I guess where else would they come from? I’m not sure of any original Maori settler history – it seemed like it wasn’t much populated by anyone other than hippies until about 20 years ago). And we were in very real danger of finding ourselves still there in 10 years time.

So we left. We just bought a van, named it Pegasus and sailed across the narrow sea to the mainland in our heroic steed (it’s a Nissan Serena people carrier with a mattress in the back).

To anyone visiting New Zealand, it’s definitely worth a trip. And if you want to avoid all those horrible tourists (*ahem*) make sure you get to the “bottom end” and visit Man O War Bay. Just sublime. Incidentally, they are the only (I think) winery to offer free tastings. Everywhere else charges about $2 per sample – but definitely worth doing. We especially enjoyed the tasting at Obsidian. They include cheese, olives and crackers and the woman was really enthusiastic about wine, happy to answer all our questions.

To anyone living on the Island. I’m sorry. I should have said it was tough and arduous to keep the tourists away.

It was terrible. Don’t go there.

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North Island so far

We began in Auckland. Two nights in Mount Eden which was a perfectly civilised start to our NZ adventure. We decided to celebrate our joint birthday with a restaurant crawl along the main street in Mount Eden.

Starters: DePost Manshape enjoyed 1/2kg of green lipped mussels (NZ standard, excellent apparently) in a Belgian bar. I ate the chips with mayo (Jack Spratt and his wife spring to mind…). We both enjoyed a Belgian beer in the beautiful February sunshine.

Mains: Off to a delightful cafe for salad. But the good kind of salad. Mine had butternut squash. His a Salmon carpaccio and parmesan crisp.

Wine course: Molten Putting our newly acquired wine tasting skills to practice, we went to the local winebar and sampled a pinot noir and viognier. Both enjoyable – although we haven’t been able to recreate the Viognier “barnyard” magic of the Auckland wine tasting experience.

Dessert: Circus Circus cafe. To be honest, a disappointing end to the restaurant crawl. But great company and ambiance overrode the bland cake (I can’t even remember what it was now)

So that was our first couple of days. I’ve got so much blog catching up to do!

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No need to dream…

So this blog has been “dreaming of Wellington” for about 18 months now. And we finally made it there! It turns out, Wellington really is one of the coolest (literally and figuratively) cities going. It’s got a bucket fountain, a night market, a university and the young people that go along with that. Which is super nice. We are currently staying Wanganui which has some equally lovely but older inhabitants.

Where Wellington is like Bristol, Wanganui is like Yeovil. So I’m excited by Wellington but feel strangely at home in the River City!

Job possibilities and promises abound. Now I just need someone to make me an offer I can’t refuse!

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Bronte – Beach not Charlotte

Bronte - Beach not Charlotte

Swapped English winter for Australian summer. And it is astoundingly beautiful (and hot!)

You’re My Teach First, My Teach Last, My Teach Everything

A lot of the things I would say about TF – but from a non-TF person so it has more weight! Being one of those who take time out after 3 years, I agree that the time scale of where you measure retention rate would be interesting. Whether I’ll return to the classroom depends on the policy context and whether the system makes it a profession I can work in without losing too much sleep over things outside of my control. Fingers crossed I’ll find an alternative that addresses the “mission” (yuk) because the kids are fantastic.

kevenbartle's Blog

Two confessions to begin this post. The first is that the title is a shameless decision, made purely so that I can crowbar in a Barry White choon.

The second confession is that I am not a Teach Firster. I know. I know. God please forgive me, but nearly 20 years ago I went to a university to take a PGCE in English with Drama. I’m not ashamed of the fact, and I don’t care who knows it. I don’t see myself as a dinosaur for following that route into the classroom (or, more pertinently at the time, for following that route into an extra year of student life complete with grant from the government). In truth it was the only way into teaching open to me at the time, given that I hadn’t opted to follow a B.Ed route at the start of my undergraduate career.

Happily for me…

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Wedding trends Summer 2013

After helping two sisters plan their weddings last year, I have much more interest in the whole wedding-thing than I ever thought I would. Especially as I now have an appreciation for just how much they cost! It really makes you value the little things. (I will always take my favours, eat the cake and compliment the flowers because they represent either a monetary or temporal investment).

As well as this personal experience, facebook seems to like grouping all the wedding photos together so that it’s like a flickr stream of weddings every weekend in August.

And like every other aspect of fashion, there are changeable trends alongside supposedly unchanging “classic” bits.

So what did I notice about the two weddings this summer, along with the facebook newsfeed?

– sunflowers

– bunting

– navy blue (although I’ve seen this two years in a row now so I imagine it’ll change next year)

– live bands

– marquees

– country-chic

So my predictions for next year? Red, 1950s, polka dot, daisies.

Thanks – happy to attend any weddings and trendspot. Will appreciate any complimentary drinks and handmade touches. (Although really people just want a cheap bar, emotional service and speeches and a decent playlist)

Summer Holidays

The only reason to become a teacher, as far as I can work out from those jealous-non-teacher-god-I-couldn’t-do-your-job types, is the massive number of holidays. Pretty much 52 weeks of the year.

I’m not sure that holidays justify it for me – it would be a miserable job if all you did was count down to the next half term (believe me, I’ve seen someone do it and it did not make them happy). I think I’m not the best at making the most of holiday, they creep up on me and I’m never prepared for them. However, they are clearly a lovely perk.

So I decided to take stock of what I’ve put them to use for so far. This is also because I’m unnerved by my increasing memory deficits. In an effort to stem the tide of early on-set Alzheimers (I’m hoping that’s just a joke), I’m going to list things I’ve been up to.

I’ve been to two weddings (sunflowers and bunting), seen family, spotted Gromits (Bristol), stayed in a caravan (Alan Partridge style) and worked on my Masters Dissertation. The final week of August will be spent firstly at a football-against-racism tournament with anarchist mental health practitioner friends and then on a farm in the Isle of Wight. Feeling glad I invested in stout walking boots from the Army surplus store.

Pretty good going for a money saving 6 weeks (not sure how much money has been saved actually…)

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Couch Surfing

In an attempt to try out different money-saving, experience-gaining things, we are giving couch surfing a go. The idea of staying with, or hosting, a complete stranger would normally fill me with sceptical dread. However, a few positive stories from trusted friends, coupled with a greater fear of running out of cash, has made me more open to new ways of travelling.

We thought that hosting a person first might be a good introduction to what it’s all about. So we are looking forward to meeting our first CSer in July. She (it turns out I feel much safer opening my house to a woman) will be with us for 2 nights. I’m looking forward to it more than I would have imagined.

Any experiences / tips you want to share would be gratefully received.

Fingers crossed this blog post doesn’t end up on a tragic story of “the horrors of couch surfing”…

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Bacon and Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

One for Manshape’s 30th birthday present in February

The Peckish Kiwi


If you’re able, you’ve got to try this flavour, even if it’s just to say you’ve tried it. You get delicious gelato, large moon rock chunks of hokey pokey (including a large piece of hokey pokey dipped in chocolate and perched on top) and thin strips of smoky bacon with white chocolate. The idea shouldn’t really be a revelation to anyone who has had some mixture of bacon and maple syrup with perhaps some banana with pancakes or waffles. Why not have some smoky bacon with the sweetness of your ice cream or gelato?

In the interests of full disclosure, don’t expect full boar flavour to smack you across your lips. Giapo are wisely easing punters into the flavour, the strips are thin and the flavour can be very subtle. Expect any more and you might find yourself staring off into the camera like a cross between Ron Burgundy and Porky Pig, questioning “Th-th-th-th-th-th-th…

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