|Me and my xedap (bicycle in Vietnamese) safely arrived in Wellington airport to be met by Dad!!|
The time has come and the time is now...! A very long-awaited time, the terribly precious time of home-coming! We had looked forward to it for so long, to tell the truth we'd looked forward to it even before we left home! We'd definitely looked forward to it as we took off from NZ soil last April, so nervous about our reception in China and really about all that would come to pass before we returned to this soil again. And we looked forward to it dreamily as we lay too weak to ride but too nauseus to eat in our stony campsites along the remote Panj Valley in Tadjikistan, feeling so very far from all home comforts and people.
|A beaut Pukerua Bay day with Anna's family, Andy, Dad, Anna and Mum. What a brilliant bright land and sea we have!|
And then we actually got there! We woke one morning in our Ho Chi Minh city hostel, and 21 hours later we taxied along the tarmac to the Wellington Airport terminal, and to everything that is homely and familiar, to all our people and all our places (and some changes since we left too of course!).
|A fun Wellington day with bro Andy|
|Ryan cooked us a good kiwi meal of roast lamb and vegies mmm mmm!|
We had a wonderful five days in Pukerua Bay and Wellington, spending lots of time with my (Anna's) folks and brother Andy, just catching up, walking around the beautiful coast and roads, eating great food, sharing stories and pictures, resting, and enjoying being together! We also caught up with a good friend Ryan for a scrummy welcome home dinner!
Yes it was a bit of a head spin. Just in the way that everything seems quite normal on one level, while on another it simultaneously feels totally unreal and impossible to fathom, and even more so because it kind of feels normal...
It was a wonderful time, and we slowly settled in, our heads, hearts and bodies all gradually getting insync again. We noticed things: the brightness of the colours in the vegetation and the sky; the clean orderliness of our city streets; the casual dress code of kiwis; the return of our asthma and hayfever; the richness of our food; the speed at which we drive; the great clear feeling air.
|Lunch stop on the road again, this time on Queen Charlotte Drive|
We rode our bikes again for one last stage of our great tour, from Picton around Queen Charlotte to Pelorus Bridge campground and then on to Nelson. On the outskirts of Nelson my sister Katie met us on her bike, and we rode the final kilometres together to her place. We rolled over the 16000km mark with Ollie's front tyre worn to the point of showing an awful lot of its blue inner layer, my front hub needing regular and delicate finger tightening to keep it rolling but not too wobbly, our hearts so very very full with all the wonders of what this last year has been, our bodies suprisingly well, and altogether brimming with a huge thankfulness to now be safely and happily back riding in our own beloved homeland and amongst our favourite people!
|The last kms with Katie!|
|The after-shot, in front of Katie's place in Nelson. Looking quite good really, with gear and bikes all cleaned up for Customs!|
|Here's something we've been hanging out for all year, fish and chips by the beach! With Katie, Jude, Alana and Angus.|
It felt like we arrived in Nelson just in time to experience the last of the kiwi summer, with beaut sunny weather for walks, runs, trips to the park and the beach, having a great time with Katie, Jude, Alana and Angus.
|Hanging out with a much-grown nephew Angus, who's showing off his best "happy face" for the photo!|
|A cosy evening with much loved family in Christchurch - Em, Lan, Ols, Mon, Anna and Dave. Special to be together!|
Slowly making our way south down the island we got to Christchurch. We were super stoked to be able to cross over with Mon and Dave before they head away on their next great cycle journey through South America! So we had a fun few days with Em, Lan, Mon and Dave, as well as lots of time with Ollie's Grandpa Yeoman and some of the wider Yeoman clan!
|A wee picnic by St Kilda Beach, some special time remembering our parents and grandparents and other much-loved people who are no longer with us, and lovely time just being together.|
Then down to Dunedin, to Ollie's parents, my Grandad and Aunty Beth, many friends and most homely places.
|On the bikes again, this time an Otago Harbour ride with Nat and Sel. We even found this great stone couch to have our Easter eggs on!|
|A wee running adventure up Mt Cargill in some good bracing Southern Ocean conditions!! With Miri and Andy! A wonderful return to a favourite hill!|
|A dinner for kings and queens! Much dreamed of food while we were away, it was wonderful to be back enjoying such treats!|
|Biking again! This time with Ollie's sister Hannah and her and Nige's four kids on the Queenstown bike trails.|
Some super impressive biking demonstrated by the next generation! Go you guys!
It was a good time to come back. We felt very ready for it. A year is a very long time and it has packed a huge lot of experiences. "Our cups runneth over" so to speak. We felt like we couldn't fit very much more in in terms of wonderful new experiences, new places and people, and we were more than ready to return to life back here, to some stability, some routine, more chance to contribute meaningfully and be connected. And be home. We still dream a lot and love recalling the memories of our year. We sometimes read Ollie's diary entry from the day's date last year, setting us laughing and sighing over amazing memories.
Thank you so much to all of you who've been interested in reading our stories on the blog. Having the blog has been a wonderful part of the journey for us too, and knowing it has a wee audience has encouraged us to put some thought into processing and retelling aspects of our travels which in turn has ended up being very meaningful for us. Thanks for your curiosity, your love, your prayers. Those at home, thanks for such a lovely welcome home! We are truly blessed to have such people in our lives! And for those who've read this after meeting us along the road, thanks for the part you played in the journey.
And here is our wee home for now, our caravan and awning on a walnut farm near Bannockburn, Central Otago! I've got a full-time early childhood teaching job in Cromwell, and Ollie's relief teaching and looking for a teaching job.