Nearly a year ago I booked myself a place on the Milford Track, a renowned hike across high ground in New Zealand's South Island that takes five days and four nights. Such is the popularity of this trek, you have to book a year in advance. I was born and raised in New Zealand, but never got round to walking the Milford Track while I still lived in the country. As if often the way, you're more likely to visit local sites of tourist interest when you have visitors to stay then you ever are of your own volition.
I emigrated to the UK in January 1990 to avoid the Commonwealth Games, so I've now lived in Britain for 18 years. There are still traces of my Kiwi accent left [get any New Zealander to say 'fish and chips', you'll soon have proof of their origins] and I still only have a New Zealand passport, but going home now feels like visiting a foreign country. I consider myself a Kiwi, supporting NZ in any sporting event, but my knowledge of life in my native land is out of date and rusty.
I haven't been back since 2003, so this will be my first visit for five years. I haven't seen any blood relative in that time, so it'll be a chance to catch up and see how everyone has changed. Travelling halfway round the world [and back again] is an expensive and tiring business, so I average a jaunt home once every day years. Indeed, in the 18 years since I left I've only been back four time. I've plans to retire to NZ, but don't expect that to arise for a few decades yet.
In the meantime, I'm trying to get fitter for the Milford track, marching around the town with a well-stuffed rucksack on my back. My new hiking boots are slowly getting broken in, my collection of fleeces and thermals is expanding, and I'm doing my best to develop a few well-placed callouses round my feet for the forthcoming march. Most significant of all, the suitcase came out from under the spare bed in preparation for packing. Suddenly the trip seems real and close, meaning I have to prioritise my work between now and departure day [March 12, thanks for asking].
So I can't guarantee a lot of blog entries between now and then, with little prospect of any while I away. So bear with me if radio silence descends on Vicious Imagery. I'll endeavour to keep you apprised of progress on my writing goals, and any other incidents and accidents that the next three weeks and two days will bring. In the meantime, I heartily recommend a spot of spring cleaning. I found all manner of strangeness lurking in my drawers yesterday. Insert joke here.