21 Oct 12
Yes, I’m angry too
The Witcher and The Witcher 2 get high praise from PC video gamers as being complex, immersive, adult-oriented RPGs. By the way, I always find it amusing when these games are called ‘RPGs’—roleplaying this is not, and despite the occasional moral decision or choice of endings, they hardly come within an orc’s roar of the possibilities of real roleplaying games. Anyway, I digress. My message here is to Mac video gamers.
I first attempted to play The Witcher via Valve’s game distribution system Steam, and the game did nothing but crash my computer. I tried all kinds of technical mucking about to get the thing to work, doing the usual trawl through forums and websites and following arcane instructions, but no luck. I also discovered that the game wasn’t even a proper port, but simply stuck in some middle-man emulation wrapper. Though they happily take my money, Steam take no responsibility for anything they sell actually working; but after complaining enough I eventually convinced them to credit my purchase (it was only $10) and bought Faster Than Light instead (a fun little game by the way).
I know, I should have learned my lesson, but the release of The Witcher 2 for Mac the other day tempted me to try once more. This time—since I’ve vowed never again to use Steam—I bought and downloaded it from GOG.com for a bit over $20. Lucky it was cheap, because despite the fact it actually does work and play this time, I’m not happy with its performance. On my brand new 2.6Ghz quad-core Intel Core i7 MacBook Pro with retina display, 16Gb RAM and 1024Mb NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, I can’t get anywhere near a decent frame rate with high quality graphic settings; a particularly annoying quality when you’re trying to make quick clicks with a stuttering mouse cursor during combat. It’s certainly playable, and can still be graphically impressive, but I have to set the screen size and quality settings to ‘low spec’.
Low spec? That’s just ridiculous. While PC gamers scoff at Mac graphic cards, it’s not because the Mac isn’t capable of handling games like this. I played Call of Duty 4 on this machine, full screen at 2560 x 1440 and 16:9, with every setting completely maxxed out, and it looked incredible and played smoothly, even in the most complex battle scenes. Why can’t The Witcher 2 work as well?
Another annoyance is that you have to completely quit the game and start again if you want to tweak the graphic settings—making the process of optimising your game far more time-consuming and difficulty than it should be.
So if you’re a Mac user and you’re tempted by either of these games, take my advice—forget the first one, and take a long hard look at your Mac specs before buying the second. Anything less than a top-of-the-line Mac and I think you’ll be greatly disappointed, and even then the really good graphic settings seem out of reach. I predict we’re about to see a lot of complaints about the practical playability of this new port. Personally, I’m fed up with publishers taking advantage of Mac gamers by releasing sub-standard Mac versions—no doubt relying on enough quick sales to justify the effort before word gets around.
19 Oct 12
As part of the Nelson Arts Festival, last night at Nelson’s Theatre Royale we saw a live treatment (complete with band, actors and foley artist) of the 1962 B-movie horror classic, Carnival of Souls. It was remarkably good.
I saw the original film quite a few years ago and was struck by how well made it is; despite the slow pace and the predictable plot (especially for modern audiences), the direction and cinematography have given the film cult classic status, influencing directors such as Lynch and Romero. Made on a shoestring budget in three weeks and ignored at the time of release, it’s a great shame the director Herk Harvey never made another feature.
This presentation took the film to whole new heights, with a clever new score by Leon Radojkovic performed live by an excellent band, and four accomplished actors playing all the roles. Chelsie Preston Crayford, who voiced Mary (the stunning Candance Hilligoss) was particularly excellent. Gareth Van Niekerk pulled off foley (sound effects) duties from his solitary booth at the side of the stage, covering everything from footsteps to jangling keys to gurgling water.
I was particularly impressed by the way the original script wasn’t changed and the actors didn’t ham it up too much, beyond a few extra “hmmmms” and some exaggerated accents. It struck a good balance between being entertaining, sometimes funny, and yet largely preserving the original integrity of the film—even increasing the mild scares of some scenes with some well-timed musical stabs and creepy organ themes.
A fantastic night out in Nelson, enhanced by the stress-free pleasure of easy parking close to the venue, something we Sydney escapees still find a joy. You can get a taste of the performance here.
15 Oct 12
If you, like me, spent a good chunk of your formative years pitting your friends against horrific monsters, sending them into dank dungeons, inflicting damage, disease and insanity upon them, and generally acting like God on (Middle-) Earth, then I hope you too were playing Dungeons & Dragons and aren’t instead a rank psychopath now paying for your terrible crimes. A lot of people born in the sixties and seventies were doing the same, or the subjects of similar imaginative abuse as adventuring characters in a fantasy, sci-fi or historical world. D&D, and the many roleplaying games it spawned, were a big fad of the late 70s and 80s; but a fad with a far bigger impact on people’s lives than twirling a hula–hoop or spinning a yo-yo. There’s been nothing quite like role-playing games, before or since, and anyone who spent any serious time playing them will understand what I mean.
Now I’m really, really late to the party (this whole thing kicked off about four years ago), but something called the OSR (‘Old School Renaissance’) is in full swing. Actually, in a way I was a bit of a pioneer personally and professionally in this respect, because I had a D&D nostalgia trip about ten years ago, when I re-bought the old books and adventure modules on Ebay that I’d so foolishly sold in my late 20s, thinking “I’d never play that stuff again.” And if I may present my other credential, I created the website The World of Tékumel back in 1997 to celebrate the first roleplaying game I ever played: Professor M.A.R. Barker’s The Empire of the Petal Throne. That’s about as old school as you can get.
Like most things that are an integral part of one’s formative years, D&D has a magic about it that never really goes away. My friends and I very, very occasionally get together to play Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, a similar role-playing game set in the Empire of the Warhammer universe, but the original versions of D&D are a differently thing entirely, with a special atmosphere that the proponents of the OSR love to celebrate.
We’re not talking about anything published ‘officially’ during the last couple of decades of increasing commercialisation and steadily encroaching blandness, of bad movies and cartoons and licenced toys, or of versions 2, 3, 3.5 (argh!), 4, and what is currently called D&D Next (triple argh!). We’re talking about three very early systems—the original ‘white box’ rules (just before my time), the old Basic Dungeons & Dragons sets (the original by J. Eric Holmes is where I came in—you can see the rulebook cover on the right), and the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons hardcovers (‘AD&D’—the system I played the most). We’re talking everything up to about 1984, when the Dragonlance adventure modules came out and the original pulp science-fantasy origins of D&D began to be replaced by a kind of bland ‘American Tolkien’ fantasy melieu of buffed heroes, chainmail bikinis and Big Bad Guys. No, we’re talking getting a fighter, magic-user, cleric and thief together and descending into some monster-infested dungeon in search of gold pieces and magic items.
A lot of other people remember these good old days before Hasbro bought everything in sight, and hence the OSR was born on scores of blogs across the internet. And small (one-personal small) publishers responded. There are now myriad cheap PDF rules sets and adventure modules taking you back to the days when fun was more important than plots, players—instead of their skill scores—decided what their character did, miniatures were pretty much non-essential but graph paper was, and characters died a lot (and were resurrected). Some of the best-known are Labyrinth Lord, a Basic D&D ‘retro-clone’ with a some companion rules to bring it up to an AD&D style; Swords & Wizardry, which keeps things nice and simple and is modelled after OD&D (‘Original D&D’); and OSRIC, an AD&D retro-clone. Other game systems of the period are getting their time in the sun too: Mutant Future (similar to the old post-apocalyptic RPG Gamma World), Stars Without Number and Thousand Suns (Traveller)—the list goes on and on.
Most of the information I’ve soaked up about the OSR I’ve got from the the Grognardia blog by James Maliszewski, an extremely prolific commentator on the subject who seems to be one of the fathers of this particular renaissance. For people who grew up with the same stuff as me, it’s a wonderful trip down memory lane as he examines old role-playing game books, advertisements in Dragon magazine, the sad and messy history of TSR (the company that published D&D), and some obscure pulp science-fiction and fantasy literature as well. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I recognise almost every old advertisement and every old illustration. Another great blog is Fighting Fantasist, whose particular obsession is old school English fantasy from the same period, especially early Games Workshop, way back before the shareholders and the lawyers called the shots and you could still buy a miniature figure for a couple of bucks.
The defining visuals of the OSR are the original illustrators, many of whom are enjoying their own personal resurgence in popularity. Old school artists like Jim Roslof and David C. Sutherland (both, sadly, recently passed away), Russ Nicholson, David Trampier (a personal favourite—that’s his wonderfully graphic work on the left), Erol Otus, Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway and others are finding their somewhat naive but hugely evocative styles once more in vogue. OSR gamers are sick of the lifeless, ‘realistic’ perfection that passes for game art these days, and enjoy this old style of art that is so full of personal style and character. The new Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game, in particular, features an impressive roll-call of these classic artists, who quite literally defined the imaginative worlds of a generation of gamers. Even back then as a kid, I knew who these guys were and recognised each of their styles—who could say the same about most of the generic art pumped out by big game companies these days?
But there’s no future in wallowing in nostalgia, and those enamoured of the OSR, while understandably enjoying revisiting the vivid fantasies of childhood, are also looking to the future. New games are coming out that marry old approaches to gaming to simpler mechanics—for example the aforementioned DCC RPG. The idea is to tear roleplaying back out of the grasp of corporations and companies that want gamers to stay within the boundaries of the worlds they market and sell. Not to mention making roleplaying games playable again for those of us with families, mortgages and a frightening dearth of the endless spare time we had as teenagers. Roleplaying used to be about freedom to imagine anything. Care for a bit of science-fiction mixed in with your fantasy? Go for it. Don’t like the game worlds the companies have invented? Invent your own. Things in your imagination are inconsistent and ‘unrealistic’? Who cares! The important thing is to not worry about the rules so much: make it up as you go along, make a ruling on the spot, roll a dice on a table of random results. For someone like me, who has long been obsessed with preparing games long past the point of necessary effort, it’s a liberating return to the original goals of getting a few people together and making up stories in your collective imagination.
So if you’re getting a bit sick of the rules and restrictions, give the OSR a try. As I write, we’re gathering a party of adventurers, mixing old school rules and sensibility with the convenience of modern internet video conferencing technology, and descending into the Barrowmaze. How many will come out again—well, that remains to be seen …
Roleplaying Games D&D, Tekumel
19 Sep 12
My role-playing game of choice for many years, on those rare occasions when a group of us old friends can engineer a break from our busy lives and organise a session (particularly rare now that I’m in another country) is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.
You’ll find the entertaining diary of our adventures from 1987 to the present here, should you wish to read it. I bought the first version of WFRP way back in 1986 and have forked out for every product in the line since, up to and including the new, and drastically different, version three (though, unfortunately, it seems it’s languishing somewhat these days in its new Fantasy Flight Games stable).
The one constant through the various versions of WFRP, however, has been the grim and perilous setting of The Empire, a roughly medieval Germanic fantasy land covered in dark, dangerous forests haunted by beastmen and torn apart from within by corrupt cultists and chaos-tainted mutants. The second edition of the game featured some beautiful maps by one Andrew Law, a talented cartographer whose atmospheric work really should be better known—and whose skills certainly should have been used for the new third edition.
Anyway, the point being of this ramble is that Mr Law has recently decided to recreate the entire Empire using Games Workshop’s plastic Mighty Empires’ terrain tiles, an enormous and frankly pretty crazy endeavour, but a gloriously ambitious one nonetheless. His progress is documented on his blog Lawhammer! I recently donated a set of tiles to help him on his way (you can read about it here and his dapper rendition of me by way of thanks is reproduced in this post) and already others are donating and bringing him very close to his goal of the 480-odd tiles required. Of course, keep in mind that he has to match the tiles to the actual map of the Empire, so there’s quite a bit of additional modelling required—including drilling river channels—to make the map accurate, not to mention painting them all as well.
When he’s finished, it should be an incredible thing of great beauty and wonderfully limited practical application. Sigmar’s blessings upon you Mr Law, go for it!
Roleplaying Games Warhammer, WFRP
07 Sep 12
As a new arrival from the stressy city of Sydney to the relaxed lifestyle of Nelson, New Zealand, I’m often surprised at what the locals take for granted. Little things, like being able to get a parking spot right next to where you want to be in town, or freakin’ huge things, like being able to head out for a day of skiing and be back in time for dinner.
Last week we thought we’d take advantage of what promised to be a gorgeous day, and drove one-and-a-half hours south to Rainbow ski field, a community-run ski area near St Arnaud village, on the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park. Leaving the car at the lower car park, we climbed on board a mini bus for a slightly hairy 20 minute drive up to the skiing (the road is pretty rough). You can drive up yourself but you have to carry chains in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. But after seeing the native keas with their huge claws hop all over the parked cars (these large, intelligent native parrots apparently enjoy ripping the rubber seal from around your windshield too), I think I’ll continue to leave our car down in the lower carpark thanks.
I love skiing, but I very, very rarely get the opportunity to do it. In fact my last day on the slopes was about ten years ago in Colorado, USA, at Breckenridge. It seems every time I get to ski I just manage to get as good as I was the time before, then it’s a long, long break until the next opportunity. Well, with skiing like this only two hours away, I’m hoping I’ll finally get a chance to improve my skills.
That said, skiing is like riding the proverbial bike, and after a tentative start I was back on a decent slope. One semi-spectacular fall reminded me that you have to relax to ski properly, but surprisingly that was my only tumble all day, even later in the afternoon when I had a lesson that was, strictly speaking, above my current skill level, and skiied down from the top of the mountain twice. Going up on the T-bar, once you crest the first ridge, the ski field opens out into a spectacular vista of snow surrounded by a sharp line of mountain ridges and crowned by the bluest of skies. Beautiful.
To JoJo, it was all a completely new experience, but she bravely put up with my lame attempts at basic instruction and then had a one-on-one beginner’s class, and was snow ploughing down the beginner’s slope by the time the day was through. I was highly impressed; the first time on skiis can be a daunting challenge for anyone, something that’s hard to forget when you see three-year-olds swish past with utter confidence. Understandably, a lot of Kiwis from around here grow up on skis.
We left at closing time at 4pm, and were back at home by six. I’m hard-pressed to think of a better way to spend a day.
New Zealand skiiing
09 Jun 12
Last Friday I headed off to Wellington, a quick and hassle-free flight away across the Tasman strait. There I was picked up by a relatively new friend of mine and his son; he’s a boardgamer and designer I met online and who has dropped over to visit once in Sydney, and apart from us having those two interests in common, he left the city life in Melbourne to live in New Zealand some years ago and was a bit of an inspiration for our move.
I haven’t been to Wellington before and it seemed quite a happening city; we went for a wander down Cuba Street and went to an Indian restaurant for dinner, then along Courtenay Place by the waterfront, which was buzzing with people packing out the busy bars and restaurants. At the end of the street is the Embassy Cinema, which hosted the Australasian premieres of the first two Lord of the Rings films, and the world premiere of the third, The Return of the King. A strange tripod movie camera creature—from Weta Studios, naturally—towers over the square opposite.
The next morning we embarked on two days chock-a-block with boardgaming, 10am to 10pm, at two rooms in Massey University—the 5th annual Wellycon boardgaming convention. Tens of tables over which hunched groups of figures, alternately sitting in intense silence or erupting into gales of laughter, frustration or elation. People standing around discussing esoteric points of boardgaming lore. Tables of games to buy or borrow.
I immediately went straight to the Seriously Board retail table and snagged myself a copy of Lords of Waterdeep, and within seconds I was at a table ripping off the shrinkwrap and settling down to an excellent game with some total strangers.
I got in games of Lords of Waterdeep three more times over the weekend, along with Jaipur, Mage Knight, The Resistance, Blood Bowl: Team Manager, and Santiago de Cuba, with only occasional breaks for lunches and dinners supplied by the organisers.
On the Saturday evening I joined an informal ‘industry panel’ made up several attendees involved in the creation and publishing of boardgames. I chatted about some of the processes behind creating graphic design for games, notably Tales of the Arabian Nights, and some questions were asked and answered about the frustrations and satisfactions of getting boardgames to market.
The main thing you take away from an event like this, however, is how people are brought together by a shared interest. To my surprise, I didn’t have to endure one crack about being an Aussie, and everyone I met was happy to hear how much I was enjoying living in their country. On Sunday night after the convention shut up shop, my friend and his son headed back home, and one of the organisers was hospitable enough to put me up for the evening at his house, where we relaxed with a few beers and covered a huge range of conversation topics until the small hours. The next morning he even drove me back into town to catch my flight home.
It was a great weekend and a nice chance to get away by myself and meet some new people in our new country. People from all walks of life enjoy the fun and challenges of boardgaming, and it’s a remarkably sociable activity. There’s no doubt that Wellycon is only going to get larger and large each year.
My fav for the weekend? Definitely Lords of Waterdeep. Award for the worst game ever? Mage Knight.
Board & Miniatures Games Wellycon
27 May 12
It’s been a busy few weeks in our new life.
Catching up with work, endless miscellaneous life administration tasks, continually discovering that you don’t have that useful thing that you’ve always had but you put it in storage so you have to buy a new one … it all takes up time. Hence the delay with recording my exploits on this blog. That and the understandable preference for sitting down at the wharf sipping an excellent local Gewürztraminer rather than sitting at a computer typing.
The cats arrived without incident, as expected, though one person in our relationship (hint: not me) almost spontaneously combusted with stress and worry about them. They were a little sad and sorry for themselves when we picked them up at the airport after their ten hour day travelling, but as soon as they were in their new home they were both pretty happy and running about. Drusilla loves the extra space and has taken to the house from day one; Ripley gets a little lost and confused occasionally but she’s beginning to see the advantages of big rooms with lots of sunny places to lie full length in.
We’re still dealing with the incredible contrast from tiny, claustrophobic, noisy inner city Sydney terrace to spacious, sunny, country house. We’re surrounded by huge double glazed windows with astounding views down the hill to the coastal village of Mapua and Rabbit Island beyond, Tasman Bay, Nelson, and the mountains beyond that; and at night there’s a 180º vista of glittering lights in the distance. In the mornings there are stunning sunrises and mist rising from the forests, and snow is beginning to crown the mountain peaks. The view continually surprises and delights.
As for Nelson, it really has become one of those places you don’t want to tell too many people about, because then they’ll all realise how good it is and come over and spoil it (whoops). There are groovy pubs (delicious local craft beers) and cafes (comfy mismatched couches and free trade coffee); people are really friendly, the food is excellent and there’s a thriving music scene in the area I’m looking forward to exploring. It’s just big enough to be buzzing and small enough to still have that small town feel, and you can always get a parking spot. Everywhere we’ve gone for food and drink has been really good. Frankly, there’s nothing I miss about living in Sydney (except for friends of course), and it confirms to us how complacent and mediocre Sydney has let itself become since the big high of the 2000 Olympics.
Five minutes down the hill from us is Mapua, where some excellent cafes and restaurants cluster around the wharf and a ferry takes you over to Rabbit Island (walking and bike trails). Jellyfish is already a favourite—great breakfasts, and you can stop in for a glass of wine and some delicious nibbles and watch the sun go down over the ocean (many cafes here are licenced, which is very civilised). Nearby is the Golden Bear Brewery—craft beer, LA Mexican food and live music—looking forward to that opening again next month.
To get our veges, we drive to a nearby farm known as Todd’s, where fresh food, grown about ten metres away, is displayed for your delectation; count up your total bill and leave the money in an honesty box. Inexpensive real food, straight from the farmer, that tastes ten times better than the garbage that Woolworths, self-proclaimed ‘fresh food people’ sell in the supermarket. Then we buy apples and pears from a stall on the side of the road on the way home.
Sure we don’t get to see the occasional big gallery show or exhibition, but it’s a very small price to pay. That said, on Sunday night we saw Sir Ian McKellan at the Nelson Theatre Royal, in his one man show to raise funds for the Isaac Theatre Royal theatre in Christchurch, damaged by the terrible earthquakes.
We had dinner beforehand at The Vic, an old pub in town which has been beautifully redone into a welcoming place with really high quality, cheap food, a big range of local beers and friendly service (everyone’s really friendly and cheerful here—we’re not used to it!)
A minute around the corner and we were at the theatre. McKellan started with the Balrog scene from The Lord of the Rings (from the book)—he had his sword Glamdring with him—and then most of the first half was a really casual Q&A session with the audience (no, I didn’t think of anything to ask on the spot!), broken up by singing an old song, and reciting poems by Wordsworth and Gerard Manley Hopkins, among other stories and anecdotes.
The second half he encouraged the audience to call out all the plays of Shakespeare while he ticked them off in a ledger, stopping to do the most astounding, magical scenes from Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Coriolanus, Hamlet etc. You could have heard a pin drop when he went into character. It was an amazing night, like being invited over to his house for a chat.
We both feel a peace and happiness that we haven’t experienced in years. If it’s been a busy day we can drive for five minutes from the house and be on the shore at Ruby Bay, hearing the waves pull back over the pebbles, looking out to the horizon and breathing lungfuls of fresh air. I’m also working more efficiently and creatively, no longer continually interrupted by slamming car doors and people spitting on the pavement as they walk by and jumbo jets flying ten feet overhead. Instead I’m getting into ‘the zone’ again when I work, spending solid time working on a job without distractions—something I haven’t done for quite a while.
Apart from the obvious, there are many little things that make life here better than in Sydney. You can always get a park in Nelson—the town cleverly has large carparks behind the shopfronts, and parking only costs a dollar an hour (free Saturday afternoons). You don’t feel like you’re continually battling hordes of people to carve out a bit of breathing room all the time. People smile and chat in the shops, and still say hello when you pass them on a walking path. This afternoon a kid rode up behind us on his scooter when were out walking, and when we got out of his way he said “thankyou!” as he passed. Hell, even booking a seat at the cinema is easier—no online registration rigmarole and we could select our seats. But it’s the space that gets me, after the cheek-by-jowl living of Sydney. There’s just more room per person.
Well, enough of my rave. Suffice it to say we don’t regret our move for a moment, and doubt we’ll ever be returning to city life. Next weekend I’m flying across the strait to Wellington and Wellycon, NZ’s biggest boardgame convention, for a weekend of gaming and meeting new people. I’m even part of a Q&A panel on Saturday night, in my role as occasional graphic designer of boardgames. Should be great fun; I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.
16 May 12
Best decision we ever made. More news soon after we settle in a bit.
01 May 12
I’m sitting on the floor of the living room and experiencing the rare delight of not packing boxes—which is something I’ve been doing pretty much continuously for several weeks now. Instead I get to sit here and watch the removalists do all the work. Oh frabjous day! Of course we’ve made it pretty easy for them as we’re obsessively organised. One hundred and twenty-eight boxes—that’s one hundred and twenty-eight boxes people—all carefully packed, spreadsheeted and stickered. Sixty of them are filled with books, about thirty with games, and the rest with useless stuff that we probably won’t need when we eventually repack them again one day. All going into long-term storage. To our new life we take only two suitcases each and five air shipment boxes.
Tomorrow the cleaners clean the empty house, and then all going to plan we have one free day to relax before we fly out on Friday.
I’ve been surprised by how hard it’s been to organise this BLC. Several friends said we were ‘brave’ to move to another country—the truth is it’s just bloody hard work and hassle. The packing just seemed to go on and on, and after one broken little toe, one bash of my head so hard I had to lie own for a while, and countless bumps, scraps, cuts and bruises, I’m waking up in the mornings feeling like a ninety-year old after a big night on the tiles. There were last minute house fixes and a room to replaster and paint, stuff to sell on Ebay, things to give away to the neighbours (we’ve made a huge contribution to the guys in the shared house across the lane), selling two cars and buying one in NZ, and an endless list of sundry administrative duties. It’s amazing how complicated life becomes and how much stuff you accumulate over the years, though we’ve taken the opportunity to purge a backyard-sized amount of junk.
And I had to decide which games to take with me in our small air shipment. In the end, oh fellow boardgamers, I decided on Dreadfleet (after all that painting it had to come with us), Wiz-War, Cosmic Encounter, Mansions of Madness and Blood Bowl Team Manager. And the main Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay box, as our group is determined to continue playing it via Skype. On my last visit I took Battles of Westeros, Rune Age, Lord of the Rings Card Game, Arcana, Jambo and Babel. A respectable little collection then!
Anyway, we had the last gathering of friends at the pub and said a temporary goodbye to everyone, and our first house guests are already confirmed for September. Everyone has been very supportive and positive about our move (or maybe they’re just happy to see me go?) and thinks it’s a great idea. In fact I’ve been surprised at a few people thinking of doing something similar themselves, or at least agreeing wholeheartedly with our current opinion of living in Sydney.
My next post will be from the wilds of Nelson, New Zealand—well, half an hour from town anyway. After weeks of tip-toeing through a tiny terrace filled with half-filled boxes, I can’t describe how much I’m looking forward to a spacious house, a great view, and most of all, NO PACKING!
19 Mar 12
There’s been a lot of changes brewing at the Universal Head headquarters. JoJo and I have decided we’re fed up with inner-city Sydney life and need a Big Life Change, so after much mucking about we’re renting our terrace and moving to Nelson, New Zealand at the start of May. Nelson is a lovely little city of about 60,000 at the top of the South Island, with three national parks on its doorstep, some of the best caving, climbing and hiking in the world and the best weather in NZ.
The photo above shows the view from the terrace of our new rental home. Sure beats the postage-stamp-sized backyard and the shared walls we have at the moment! The house is about four times larger than our terrace here, and on a big block of land; it’s an easy half hour out of Nelson and close to a lovely little bayside village with cafes and restaurants. There’s plenty of room for friends to stay, an office each and even a seven metre-tall climbing gym room where I can practice my climbing moves!
We’ve decided to make this change in our life because we’re sick and tired of gridlocked traffic, planes flying ten feet over our heads, hordes of psychotic barking dogs, millions of frantic people, polluted, humid air, and all the stress and madness of living in the biggest city in Australia. It just seems a crazy way to live and the time is long overdue to focus on the most important things—health and happiness.
So, I’ll occasionally be updating this blog with a little taste of what it’s like to move from a big city to a very small one, if you’re interested—the joys and the inevitable challenges. Whether we end up staying in NZ or moving on to somewhere else is yet to be decided, but it’s going to be a fun experiment trying on a completely different life for size.
New Zealand Nelson, New Zealand
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