Posts Tagged With: nz

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

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

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

North Island and things

Hey all!

Well, it’s official: Kylie got her placement confirmed at a school in Auckland, and we’ve booked our flights (plural needed due to a large excess of baggage…between the two of us…).

I’m excited, as not only do I get to see a new place, I get to start the countdown for leaving the pallet-making company. Surprisingly, the job isn’t bad at all. It goes quickly, builds strength, and isn’t very difficult to comprehend. That being said, I don’t want to do it for like seven years or anything.

I made a comprehensive to-do list of things I want to, well, do, while I’m on North Island:

  1. Check out the Lord of the Rings sites
  2. Other things too, probably

Other than that, things are pretty much the same. We’ve kind of settled into a routine: I get up at 6:30, go to work to pay the bills, then collapse in bed around 10:30 and pass out. It’s been winter here for almost three weeks, and I bought my first new “coat” since starting university back in ’08. It looks kind of like a peacoat, but is nowhere near as warm. However, it’s still too warm for the “winter” here.

To pass the time between finishing work and going into my nightly coma, I’ve been playing the guitar a bit. I’ve been posting 15 second covers on Instagram – they’re perfect because I can sound good for 15 seconds. That being said, I did create a soundcloud for longer covers, and just posted the first one – you can check that out here if you so desire.

Exciting things are on the horizon. Follow along so you don’t miss out!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

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

Saturday Antarctic excursion

Today, I wanted to surprise Kylie, so I took her on an impromptu date to the Antarctic.

Well, as close to the Antarctic as I’m likely to get – for the foreseeable future, anyways. Christchurch is actually only about 1,800km from one of the main Antarctic base camps – not all that far, really. We visited the International Antarctic Centre which, aside from providing tours and a range of activities, is actually the gateway for people venturing to the coldest, windiest, and driest continent in the world.

Kylie was quite a good sport about it; I sprung the fact that we were going on a date on her late Friday night, while we were waiting for a bus to take us to see Maleficent– which was very good, by the way – and that she wouldn’t be able to sleep in on her Saturday. Although I refused to tell her where we were going, she agreed, and we left for the bus stop around 10:10 Saturday morning.

She didn’t know where were going until we got off the bus and saw this:

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We checked in at the main counter, and one of my fears was relieved; I had thought I’d have to plan out our order of activities, but that wasn’t the case. A nice lady at the counter gave us a little map and wrote times beside when we should go to specific activities. First up: a ride in a Hagglund.

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The Hagglund is an amphibious Antarctic vehicle – and these were authentic ones. We boarded for the ride – but first we took a selfie.

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The ride consisted of a trip around a unique course designed to recreate conditions of traversing the Antarctic tundra. Contrary to what you might believe, the ride wouldn’t be smooth; blowing winds spread dirt, gravel, and ice chunks over the surface, making it a bumpy ride, which we experienced. We also went up some steep inclines and plummeted down – the jostling had us gripping our handholds for dear life – and finally went through a small pond that was three metres deep. The Hagglund handled it with ease.

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After our ride, we entered the Explorers’ Legacy room. It had lots of props, like a cabin, flags, penguins, and more, and also had changing lights and weather conditions, including a sunrise and “snow” (bubbles).

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Showin' em who's boss

Showin’ em who’s boss

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Next up, we went into the “snow and ice experience” – a room kept at -8 degrees Celsius, with snow and an ice slide and some cool props like an igloo and snowmobile. We put on authentic Antarctic coats, even though -8 is a warm spring day in Canada.

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Every half hour, an “Antarctic storm” would sweep through the room, gusting up to a terrifying 35kph and dropping the room’s temperature to -18.4 degrees Celsius with wind chill. This was a neat experience, as the lights went out and a voice crackled over a radio warning of an incoming storm. It reminded me of the day in April when I left home, except not quite as cold.

After we escaped from the Antarctic storm, we went to see a cool 4D movie about journeying to the Antarctic. The seats moved, we felt the cold spray of the ocean – and some seagull poop that hit us in the face – and saw some stunning cinematography.

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After that neat little experience, we went to a gallery of Antarctic memorabilia, including rocks and fossils, equipment, food samples, and much more. There was a station where you could dress up in authentic gear again – we didn’t bother with the pants, gloves, boots, hats etc., but I tried on a jacket that looked a lot like a Western University official Canada Goose jacket.

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Finally, we wandered into the Little Blue Penguin exhibit. These guys are the smallest species of penguin, and, as you’d expect, are adorable.

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It’s actually quite a touching story – each of the penguins (there are about 12 I think) were rescued. They all have some sort of disability which would have made it highly unlikely that they survived in the wild, and were brought to the IAC to live their lives. One, named Marty, was born with her left leg paralyzed, and so swims in a peculiar fashion; she also has her own spot near the corner of their enclosure.

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Another one is missing a leg, a few are blind in one eye, and one, named Toto, is 23 years old and has cataracts and Alzheimer’s. Only two per cent of penguins live to age 20 – most last six or seven years – so she’s truly remarkable. We stayed around for feeding time, and then visited the gift shop to pick up some swag. Kylie got some shirts and kindly purchased me a coffee travel mug.

All in all it was quite a fun day, with immersive experiences and a bit of education thrown in to boot. It almost makes me want to visit the Antarctic…although I’ll probably settle for just going home.

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

 

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

Handling wood like a pro

Happy hump day all y’all! I’ve worked for a week at my job handling wood now, and I’ve come up with a list of imperative dos and don’ts you need to follow, should you ever find yourself surrounded by wood.

Size matters.

 

When it comes to wood, size is everything – so much so, in fact, that if a piece of wood is off by more than three millimetres, it has to be recut. There’s an age-old adage that says something like “measure twice, cut once” – I didn’t bother looking up the exact words – but that’s actually an understatement if anything; you really need to measure five times, cut once, then measure the wood you cut to make sure it’s right. Also continue to measure periodically, as the blocks tend to shift slightly, and 1mm is all it will take to ruin you. My saw partner and I spent two hours yesterday unstacking a pallet of cut wood to shave off five millimetres from the ends, because the kids who cut it weren’t careful. New saying: measure all the times, and then cut.

Handling wood can be messy.

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I learned this extremely obvious one the hard way. On my first day on the job, I wore my other pair of jeans – for the record, I had two pairs: my black ones I wear every day, and some blue ones; I’ve since bought more – and they immediately went from nice jeans, to work jeans only. Little wood pellets, sawdust, dirt, and paint now adorn my formerly-classy jeans – and even a quick rinse in the washer won’t fix that now.

Wear the proper protection.

Well this is a classic one. When dealing with wood, it’s necessary to use protection for your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. The people in charge say that, when you’re cutting and stacking wood, you don’t need to wear safety glasses, just ear plugs. False. I can’t count the amount of times –okay it’s seven – where I’ve had to stop because a bit of dust leapt off the wood right into my eye. It doesn’t help that we have giant doors there, and the wind blows through them all day every day. I also went about ten minutes on my first day without gloves; that was dumb. So, so dumb.

Be gentle but firm with the wood.

If you’re getting the wood onto the belt in order to cut it, there’s a technique to it. You have to use physics and science and whatnot to swing it on. However, if you do this too violently, the long-ass wood will snap, which is really damn inconvenient. You have to roll the wood, coax the wood, but you can’t let it rule you. When stacking cut wood into piles, it’s okay to kick it into place, but not too hard. Your steel-toe boots can damage the poor thing.

Don’t try to handle too much wood by yourself.

 

The biggest wood I’ve had to handle thus far was planks of the stuff measuring 3.6 metres. That’s pretty long wood. Since the planks are relatively thin, handling one is no problem; however, if there are two or three stacked on each other, I need my partner’s help. It’s important not to try to take on more wood than you can handle, because it can cause things to get messy and slow down production. Remember: don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help handling large loads of wood.

Embrace the wood jokes.

As a worker in an all-male plant handling tons of wood, you have to be able to take the jokes that inevitably come despite you doing nothing at all to bring it upon yourself. Also, for some reason, the radio station on in the factory – side note, it’s called myFM…weird! – always plays Timber by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha (did I spell that right?), and when it comes on, it’s appropriate to do anything from smirking when she yells timber, to singing and dancing along with the song. As long as the boss isn’t around, anyways.

Follow along with my adventures with wood!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

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

Learning to handle wood

Hello lovely people! Also, non-lovely people; I don’t discriminate.

Let me start off by saying in the last two days, I’ve seen and handled more wood than I’ve ever had to before.

 

WAIT. LET ME EXPLAIN.

 

Last weekend, I grew weary of living the dream – that is, I got bored with not having anything to do all day, plus my bank account was a little lower than I liked – so I applied to a bunch of jobs. I got an interview for two; the first was a temp agency, the second a courier position. I didn’t get the courier job because I surprisingly failed a New Zealand geography test. Fortunately, the temp agency interview consisted of watching some videos and filling out paperwork. I went in at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and left at 11 a.m. with a job lined up for the following morning. I’ve been working there for the last two days, and the first day left me incapacitated and unable to write about it – it involves working at a pallet-building company from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. We’re not allowed phones on the floor, but here’s an approximate picture of what it looks like.

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It’s not hard work – it consists of cutting, stacking, nailing, or painting wood. It surprisingly doesn’t get all that boring, and the time goes pretty quickly. The only problem is that to get there I have to walk 15 minutes, take a bus, and then walk another half-hour. But for 115 bucks a day I’ll put up with it.

It’s also a pretty good job because it’s basically a free gym membership; while the wood doesn’t weight much, repeated lifting, twisting and placing will have me in shape in no time. Not to mention the hour of walking every day.

In the meantime, a few other things are on the go; I applied to a travel-writing thing which I should hear back from soon – if I win, I get to go on a 10-day excursion through Europe and write about it. I’m also applying for an internship (paid! Suck on THAT Canada) for a popular radio station here, so we’ll see how that goes.

Now, I must be off; I am going to see X-Men: Days of Future Past now. I’ll let you know how it is!

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Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

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

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