Travel

The long drive, Hobbiton, and NaNoWriMo

Hola amigos!

Yes, once again it’s been a while since a blog post. This time, I lay the blame on NaNoWriMo – or, as it’s known to n00bs, Nation Novel Writing Month. I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, since last time, we decided to drive from Auckland to Christchurch for some reason – about fifteen hours.

On our way, we accidentally stumbled into Middle Earth somehow. We took two hours and explored Hobbiton, then got a drink at the Green Dragon Pub. Here are a few photos:

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(Check out the full album here.)

After that we continued our long drive (long, but nothing compared to my Yellowknife or Bust adventure), stopping in Wellington for the night. We took a ferry the next morning – it was pretty big.

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Apparently it holds about ten thousand people, which is a lot of people.

The rest of the drive was pretty boring, except for the cool scenery and one time where we almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert. I saved us, though, by continuing to drive until I found a gas station.

So we’ve been settled in our new flat for a while now. I’m back at the pallet factory and Kylie is done school finally. We’re going to both work until her graduation on December 19, and then explore all that New Zealand has to offer.

In the meantime, though, I am hard at work writing.

November is National Novel Writing Month – a challenge where tons of people across the world attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. I tried this last year and only got about 13,000 words, but this year is different.

I was already well into my attempt at a novel, and I’m using NaNoWriMo as a push to finish it. Currently, I’ve written 96,547 words for my manuscript – my goal is 100k, but it looks like it will finish off closer to 115k – and 26,975 of that has come in the month of November. By the end of today, to stay on the pace of 1,667 words per day, I should be at 26,672 – thanks to a fevered writing session last night where I wrote two day’s-worth, I was able to take the time out to write this blog.

Soon, I’ll be posting stuff about the novel, like asking people to edit it, or how I should go about trying to get it published, etc. In the meantime, you can check out the synopsis and prologue at the following link:

TWIN KILLERS on Tablo

Any feedback is more than welcome! I have another 25 chapters already written if the prologue piques your interest.

Thanks for reading all y’all, follow me on my social media things!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Holiday, New Zealand, Novel, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gold Coast livin’ part two

Kia ora all! Sorry for the delay between parts one and two of my Australian adventure – I’m in full book mode and have been devoting the time I have to writing that. Nonetheless, here is part two.

So Kylie’s birthday was on the Wednesday – October 1 – and as a present to herself she got her hair did. We managed to score a free bus ride both ways by acting all touristy (asking how much it was, which coins had what value) until the bus drivers gave up in frustration and just said “it’s fine.”

That night, Mikayla took us out for a steak dinner at a nearby restaurant – one that happened to have deals on all mains on Wednesdays. I had a giant steak, but I didn’t take a picture of it because that’s silly.

Okay, it’s two weeks later now and I can’t remember what we did on each specific day. However, I believe it was the Friday where we went to see the coveted glow worm caves – again, no pictures, this time because it was pitch black.

We drove for like three hours to get to this place where we walked for another hour, down a steep hill, in the pitch black, with scary forest on all sides. Somehow, we avoided the drop bears and killer spiders and arrived at the glow worm caves, where we were greeted by a blue-greenish glow, which turned out was the worms’ butts. Some lady was yelling at people for even using a flashlight to avoid falling into the turbulent river a few feet away, so I’ll approximate a drawing of what the scene looked like.

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As you can tell, it was very exciting.

Saturday during the day we went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which was a total blast. It’s where we got to see basically every cliché you’d attribute to Australia.

We went with Mikayla and her brother, Noah, who showed us around.  Luckily, we arrived just in time for the feeding of a MASSIVE CROCODILE (possibly alligator?)!!!!!

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Afterwards, the croc wardens said we could HOLD THE ALLIGATOR (crocodile?) and I was like SHIT YEAH! They overplayed it a bit.

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The wildlife sanctuary was pretty sweet. It had a bunch of different habitats, so instead of me rambling, I’ll show you pictures and give the names of the animals, if I can remember them.

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This owl, who looked high as.

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This wombat, who is actually the size of a dog.

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Some koalas, socializing over some leaves from that tree I can’t spell the name of.

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A god-damn Tasmanian Devil (like from Bugs Bunny, sort of).

We arrived at a theatre of sorts, just in time for a birds of prey show. One of them got pretty close to me.

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There was also a giant pelican.

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Of COURSE there were others, but I was a bit busy watching them catch bits of dead rabbit out of the air to take pictures, okay?

Next, I fulfilled my lifelong dream of going in a giant enclosure filled with starving kangaroos, and paying four dollars to feed them. Kylie came too.

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Unfortunately, that was the end of my day pretty much, as shortly after I stumbled into a giant spider’s web and was swiftly mauled to death.

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Just kidding! Who did you think was writing this? Anyways, to cap off our day (actually, this time), we had to do the cliché tourist take-a-photo-with-a-koala.

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My head is lost in a halo of light – as it frequently is – but you can see Kylie and the little bear pretty well.

After that heartwarming moment, we tried to feed some birds but they didn’t show up, so Kylie held a giant snake instead.

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I took a photo from the side because we weren’t supposed to take photos but there was no way in hell I was paying 20 bucks for that picture.

The fun wasn’t over for the day, though. That night, Kylie, Mikayla, her friend Andrew, and I all went to a club and danced the night away. We got in with no cover and were allowed five-dollar drinks all night, and Kylie got free drinks to her heart’s content. We dragged her unconscious body out of the club around 10 p.m.

I’m pretty sure it was Sunday where we went shopping at a giant outdoor mall. Mikayla had some sort of appointment and Kylie tried on all the clothes in one store, so I wandered around looking uncouth with a two-litre jug of chocolate milk. I probably looked like a bogan. That night (possibly) we went to an opera in the park, which was pretty neat, if that’s your thing (it isn’t mine) – the food was good though.

Monday was an exciting day, as we tried stand-up paddle boarding. Basically, you get this thing that looks like a surfboard, and then you stand on it and paddle in some water. It was extremely difficult to find my balance on it, and being tall didn’t help, as the wind was trying to knock me into the water. Luckily the water was warm, because I spent a lot of time in it. OBVIOUSLY I didn’t bring my camera because that would have been stupid, but trust me, it was sweet as.

And finally, on Tuesday, Kylie and I took a train to Brisbane and spent the majority of the day at a lovely market/mall. Around dinner time, we met up with an old friend of mine – Franny – and she was nice enough to treat us to a delicious meal.

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And of course, Kylie and I got the glamour shot in front of the bridge.

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Sadly, after that it was time to catch the train back to Gold Coast – which we did, barely. It was an early night, as we had to be up at the crack of dawn to make our plane – which we did, barely. We landed in Auckland about four hours later, and our journey to Australia was complete.

Stay tuned! Posts coming up include our drive from Auckland to Christchurch (1,079km), our visit to the Shire, and a few questions for the creative ones among you reading this.

Thanks for reading, and give me a follow, won’t ya?

Twitter: @CamMParkes 
Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Australia, Blog, Early Saturday, Gold Coast, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Livin’ it up at Gold Coast

Well, that was quite an adventure. We’re now safely back in New Zealand after a whirlwind trip to Gold Coast, and a long-ass drive back to Christchurch. The days have been so jam-packed that it was impossible to keep up with posting, so I’ll try to remember everything as well as I can for your entertainment.

I’ll deal with the next half of our trip to the land down unda’ in this post – we just did SOOOO much that it wouldn’t fit into one post, you know?

So Monday was our first full day in Gold Coast. Luckily for us, our guide and host Mikayla managed to get out of school relatively early so she could chaperone us around. Of course, we headed straight for the beach, because what else is there to do in Australia?

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For lunch, we went to a sushi restaurant that had a sushi train. I’d seen these in movies and whatnot, but never actually experienced one.

The food comes to you!

The food comes to you!

It’s a brilliant strategy. Basically different colour plates cost different amounts, and they send through a lot more pricey ones than cheap ones. So you’re sitting there waiting for a cheap plate of your favourite sushi to come by, getting hungrier and hungrier, until eventually you cave and grab the next plate. Cool!

When we returned, we saw to our – mostly Kylie’s – delight that the trees out front of Mikayla’s place were the favourite hangout for some lorikeets.

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We chillaxed for the rest of the day, and then spent three hours watching a movie – 1h45 for Who Framed Roger Rabbit after 1h15 of Kylie and Mikayla insisting they were strong independent women and didn’t need no man’s help to set up the DVD player.

Two strong, independent, DVD-less women.

Two strong, independent, DVD-less women.

Spoiler: they did.

On Tuesday Kylie and I wanted to check out the Niagara Falls of Queensland – Surfers’ Paradise. Although we were warned by literally two people that the walk was a long one, we decided to undertake it anyways.

I learned a lesson on Tuesday. When people say they “love long walks on the beach,” they are full of shit. Long walks on the beach are not pleasant. They hurt your legs and your butt, and make you really hungry and thirsty. We almost didn’t make it. But, after an hour and a half of Bear Grills-esque survival, we arrived in the tourist centre of Australia.

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And lo and behold, we had only been there five minutes or so when a long-lost friend found us!

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Karley. It's Karley.

Karley. It’s Karley.

We three hung out and explored Surfers’ for a while, checking out the shops, getting lunch, and playing at Timezone – one of those super-fun arcade places where you win tickets and can get little prizes. I won an Australian keychain, thinking that it would be the perfect gift for my loving landlord back in Auckland.

After that, Karley’s flatmates gave us a lift back to Mikayla’s. We had to hurry inside because it was time for the daily bat hunt.

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Bats come out during the day here. Yup.

After the bloodthirsty winged-mammals had disappeared (until that night) Kylie, Mikayla, her mom and I went to Q1, which is some sort of tower thing. We had a meal on the observation deck, which is the highest point in Gold Coast – about 72 floors up, I think.

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After dinner, we took a nice walk along the beach you can see on the right there, through a giant market. I didn’t buy anything.

The next post will detail our trip to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Kylie’s birthday celebrations, and the hardest sport you can do on water (not surfing). Follow me so you don’t miss out!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Australia, Blog, Gold Coast, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The land down unda’

G’day, mate!

It’s finally happened. After more than a decade of wanting to visit the land down under, I am finally in Australia.

And it is fantastic.

Let’s start from the beginning though.

Our flight was at seven o’clock Sunday morning. Since we had to drop off our rental car with enough time to be shuttled to the airport, that meant getting up at 4:30. We drove to the place, got shuttled over, and found our check-in line by 5:30 – and then the waiting began. Jetstar, which has been great and incredibly fast on our last couple flights with them, had two people working the desks – one of whom was clearly a new employee.

Our baggage area apparently closed at 6:15am, and we definitely would have been done before that, except we added some baggage we didn’t expect.

As we were waiting in line, a frantic mother and her child approached us, asking if we were going to Gold Coast. Apparently, the airline wouldn’t let her child fly unaccompanied, even though he was older than 15 and had a passport, because he didn’t have his school ID. She practically begged us to chaperone Kurtis onto the flight, and we, being great people, obliged. It took a bit longer to check us in because they had to move our seats so the three of us could sit together.

We eventually got checked in and through security, right as the last call for our flight was being broadcast. We took a little bus out to the plane and boarded, and were on our way by 7:15am.


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Thanks to the flight duration and time zone change, we landed at 7:15am in Australia. We saw Kurtis reunited with his father, who thanked us profusely. After they departed, I decided to withdraw some Aussie currency.

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We had a quick airport breakfast, and then Kylie’s friend Mikayla picked us up. Thankfully, she offered us the spare room in her house, saving us probably THOUSANDS (???) of dollars in possible rent.

Her home is absolutely beautiful. The whole concept of it is based on a constant barrage of nice weather – open rooms, light sea-breeze blowing through – and is perfect for the part of town it’s in.

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The best part is, it’s only a two-minute walk to the beach. We basically got here, dropped our bags and changed, and headed out to check out the beach. We didn’t stay long this first time.

It happened to be Celebrate Gold Coast Day, so we took off to a big event with lots of different tents and activities and whatnot. After exploring that for a bit, we returned home and went to the beach for real. But not before stopping at the store to get some Aussie swag.

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We built sandcastles and swam in the ocean and enjoyed the sun before heading back to shower and hit up the town – and by that, I mean buy some beer. Which we enjoyed while watching Brave which is actually a pretty good movie okay?

I didn’t have too much opportunity to take pictures (clearly) as my camera was stowed and my phone was running out of juice. Plenty more to come over the next nine days, though!

Follow along on Twitter and Instagram!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Australia, Blog, Gold Coast, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trip to Waiheke Island

On Saturday, Kylie and I finally got the opportunity to get out and see some of Auckland other than the bus depot and grocery store. The day dawned bright and warm, so we decided to go visit Waiheke Island.

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Of course, as the name implies, the place is an island. This meant we had to take the ferry. While waiting in line, we saw some lady with a lamb for a pet.

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Like any amateur with a camera, I took a billion shots of the water at different angles and stuff while we crossed. Here are a few okay ones.

 

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Nope, not Toronto: Auckland!

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Still Auckland!

 

It was approximately a 40 minute ride to get to Waiheke. Once there, we realized the island was a bit bigger than we had anticipated.

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We decided to hoof it to the nearest village, which was a pleasant walk in the sun.

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There was a music museum so naturally we checked it out. Some of the instruments are from the 1800s, which was pretty cool.

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Kylie playing a flute older than her!…and actually, older than Canada as well.

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After that we were all like, oh a beach? Let’s go to that! So we did.

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And even thought it was pretty cold, I stood in the Pacific long enough to take this glamour shot.

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You’re welcome for all the pictures.

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Holiday, Music, New Zealand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First impressions of Auckland

Hey all!

So I’ve been in Auckland for just over a week now, and I have to say: my original impression that it was similar to Toronto was pretty off base.

The first Saturday we were here, Kylie and I went out to experience the night life – only, there was none. Everything closes at around five o’clock, even on weekends. Luckily exceptions include grocery stores and McDonald’s, but I was pretty disappointed. There aren’t very many bars, either! I’m looking closer into that, though.

So far, despite the tame nightlife, Auckland is so much better than Christchurch. It’s much warmer – in fact, most mornings I eat my breakfast outside on our patio in a t-shirt. Considering it’s the dead of winter here, this is amazing.

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The scenery is beautiful and lush. It makes you feel like you’re on a tropic island somewhere – which technically we are I suppose. Our house is at the bottom of a huge hill, so my leg muscles have been getting quite a workout as well.

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The bus system took a little longer to figure out, and is a bit more expensive, but after using the buses and trains for the last week we’ve pretty much got it sorted.

I went into Background Talent and signed up for that again, so hopefully I’ll be getting some more work with them, so I can see my face for ~1 second on a television. They were super friendly and took a bunch of photos of me, so that’s cool too.

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I’ve pretty much realized that around the beginning of September, I’m going to have to rent a car. I’m psyching myself up to drive on the wrong side of the road, especially since, after our trip to Australia, we’re going to drive from Auckland back to Christchurch for Kylie’s last term. It’s about 15 hours so it’ll definitely be a test.

Other than that, I have the house of eight flatmates to myself during weekdays, since I’m the only one here who is on holiday and not working. I pass the day by reading, writing, and doing 15 second covers of songs for Instagram.

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I’m happy to announce I’ve reached the 100-page mark in my attempt at a novel, and still have plenty more to go on! My soft deadline of the end of November to finish seems as if it may be in reach. If any of you consider yourself editors, let me know if you’d be down to peruse the draft!

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I’m finally getting around to sending postcards, about four months after getting here. Again, if you’d like one, let me know via some sort of social media before the end of the week.

Other than that, keep it real and follow along with the adventures! They’re going to get exciting, as there is plenty to do in Auckland on the weekend.

Twitter: @CamMParkes               

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, Music, New Zealand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auckland adventures

Well, I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in Auckland this week, and let me just say: I love it already.

The flight was the easiest thing ever. Kylie and I walked ten minutes to our bus stop, and it took us directly to the domestic terminal. Checking our luggage and passing through security literally took a combined time of less than ten minutes, and the flight itself was just over an hour.

Since we were new to the area we didn’t know the bus routes, so we had to take a cab to our new place from the airport – that set us back about eighty bucks, but we didn’t have much alternative. However, after exploring the city for a few days, we now know the buses well enough to get back at a much cheaper cost.

Speaking of cheaper costs, our new room is about fifty dollars cheaper per week than our current place – yet it’s about five times the size; it has its own lounge, and the last guy in there left his TV and PS3 behind. YES.

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Like I said, Kylie and I got out and explored the town. It’s exactly like Toronto, except about half the population, very little garbage in the streets, much less pollution and no homeless people. Okay so it’s the exact opposite of Toronto, whatever. It has its own CN Tower, of sorts!

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Kylie and I had a nice meal at a restaurant to celebrate our one year, and then went to the casino. I will sum up that adventure by saying I did not win five grand this time.

We purchased essentials such as sheets and a blanket and some food to get by, and on Saturday it was back to Christchurch, where we saw Guardians of the Galaxy – awesome movie by the way.

Now just one more week of work at the pallet factory, and we’re off to Auckland for seven or eight weeks.

ALSO I bought a new ukulele so make sure to check out my Instagram/Twitter (links below) for covers!

 

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Music, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heading down unda’

Good news, everyone!

 

 

So back in April, I was able to cross coming to New Zealand off my bucket list – something that’s been there since I first learned that the setting for the Lord of the Rings was here. While I haven’t seen the Shire yet, I’ll be doing so in the next little while as we’re moving to the North Island, where it’s situated (yeah, New Zealand is actually two islands. Who knew?).

Now, I’ll officially be able to cross visiting the land down under off that list, too. Kylie and I booked our flights yesterday – we’ll be in Australia from September 28 to October 8. Needless to say, I’m super psyched to get warm, visit some beaches, scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, surf on some waves, ride some kangaroos etc.

Back to the moving thing, I’ve given notice to my employer and landlady, so it’s really happening. On Thursday we head up for the weekend, then one more week of work and shitty 6:50 a.m. wakeups, and off to Auckland for eight weeks. Definitely pumped to be done with stacking wood.

In other news, I broke 60 pages into my attempt at a novel, hovering at about 19,000 words currently – I’m thinking I’m about 1/5th done, probably. So that’s cool – the goal is to be done by the end of November, currently.

The next update will be nice and long, as I’ll have a bunch of Auckland stuff to talk about!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Casino nights and creative stints

Oh man, it’s been about two weeks since my last update. WAIT, I CAN EXPLAIN!

Things have been quite busy around here the last little while. We’ve managed to successfully get a place in Auckland as of July 31, which is a huge relief since it means we won’t have to camp out in a park or something. We fly down the 31 to August 2 for our first trip, then again on the 9 for good. Or, well, for eight weeks at least.

Kylie and I also went to the Christchurch casino for the first time, along with some friends; the casino has an all-you-can-eat burger night on Thursdays, so we partook in that before hitting the slots. After losing about ten dollars, a well-timed max bet netted me over five grand, so needless to say, the night was a success in the end. You’re not allowed to take pictures in the casino, so here is a representation of what happened.

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You can tell I used to draw comics for a living, can’t you? Anyways, that comic isn’t the only form of creativity I’ve been practicing these last weeks. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been frequenting a site called Sporcle – it’s a site with tons of quizzes and you should definitely check it out if you have the time (and let’s be real, if you’re reading this, you have the time)! When you do, you should start by checking out the quizzes I have created, spending hours and hours getting them just right. Links are here:

Monopoly quiz – think you know Monopoly?

Zelda: Majora’s Mask logic/knowledge quiz – Logic and knowledge required.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time A-Z – Name the items associated with the best game of all time.

 

I’ve also been trucking away at my “novel” – I’ve set myself a personal goal of the end of November to be finished. I’m forty-seven pages in so far (~15,600 words) so it’s going well. I’ve been pushing myself to add 500 words per day and have mostly kept it up for the past while.

On the other end of the artistic spectrum, Kylie and I have been creating some lovely music, so here are some more links for you to check out, share, like, subscribe to, whatever you do on YouTube.

Hey Ho – Lumineers cover

No Rain – Blind Melon cover (featuring flute)

And I have a few on SoundCloud too:

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I think that about covers the links I wanted to give you! I’d have way more content if I hadn’t finally decided to watch Breaking Bad. Holy shit, I just…wow.

Oh! I also lost my onesie virginity on Thursday.

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More updates soon: Auckland in less than two weeks!

Follow along for updates, pictures and 15-second covers:

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

(Ok there were two more links.)

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Early Saturday, Music, New Zealand, Place to see in Christchurch, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going-ons in Christchurch

Hi all – sorry for the longish absence. It’s been a busy last little while!

First off, happy belated Canada Day, and happy current Independence Day for all those ‘muricans that may read this.

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I’ve now been in Christchurch, New Zealand for three months, and things are changing up a bit. Kylie and I celebrated our eleven months the other day, and as well, we got a room together at one of my landlady’s other houses – it’s only for five weeks or so, until we go to Auckland, but in addition to getting to live together, it’s saving us both a lot on our rents, which is nice.

Recently, we’ve been taking advantage of a sweet deal at the movies (five tickets for 50 bucks) and seeing all the new films as they come out. We’ve seen Transformers 4, 22 Jump Street, Edge of Tomorrow, a delightful NZ film called What we do in the Shadows, X-Men: Days of Future Past, probably more that I’m missing, and last night we saw How to train your Dragon 2.

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In line for next week is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and shortly after that, Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s been fun! When we’re not doing that, we’ve been busy looking for rooms, flights, etc. We have a good lead on a room in Auckland that won’t break the bank, and we’re hoping to confirm getting it this week. We’ve also started planning our trip to Australia, which will be in the first week of October most likely, and even started looking at flights home (gotta book early!) for some time in the new year.

In other news, I’m just over 10,500 words into my attempt at a fantasy novel, and the ideas are still flowing, so that’s good; I’m also creating quizzes on Sporcle – only one so far, but I have ideas. It’s just over a month into winter here, and the lowest the temperature has dipped is -2 degrees C. On average it’s about 12 degrees, so that’s nice.

Kylie got a job at a jewellery kiosk in the mall, so that’s keeping her busy as well as bringing in more income. Yay! Also, we’ve started doing covers of songs! Check it out on my Instagram (link below) or my YouTube page. Our goal is one per week.

To celebrate three months in New Zealand, here are some words we say that they say differently:

Us vs. Them

Counter – Bench
Trunk (car) – Boot
Gas – Petrol
Pop – Fizzy
Five-thirty (time) – Half-five
Canada – Canadia

That’s all for now, keep following for more updates.

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Early Saturday, Holiday, List, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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