Christmas in New Zealand and other exciting things

Hello once again my lovely travelers. I have more updates for you!

We’ve just left the holiday season behind and are now transitioning into New Year festivities. This was my first Christmas away from home, without all my friends and family. It was certainly different and a little sad, also there was no snow, which just doesn’t seem right. But I had a fantastic day just the same.

I spent Christmas Eve in Tauranga with a friend. We had a drink or two with a few of his mates before grabbing a bite to eat (vegan nachos, very tasty) and heading to the beach. It seems I have very bad luck going to the beach on a nice day. Like my first visit to Tauranga, it was rather rainy and overcast on Christmas Eve.

But this didn’t stop us. We sat in the car park for a while enjoying another drink and watching the waves flop over onto the beach. After a while we did get out and walk on the beach, but just for a minute as it was rather windy and cold. I picked up a couple of shells and saw lots of sad, beached jellies, and got properly soaked because that’s what you do when you go to the ocean.

Christmas Day started off with me treating myself to pancakes and having a nice long Skype session with my family. I opened my Christmas presents and we all sipped on sparkling cider while we all chatted. After that it was time to party!

The Head Guide at Hobbiton, Teresa, hosted an Orphan Christmas for all of us here without family. So I spent the day with a group of fellow Hobbiton peeps. We all spent the day drinking and eating and playing games until the sun went down and we were all sufficiently knackered.

Gatherings like this help you learn a lot about the people you work with. For instance, I work with a bunch of heartless murderers. While playing a game of Mafia, I was ruthlessly killed because everyone thought I was the Mafia (apparently I looked really suspicious) and was out to get them. To be fair, I kind of deserved it. I had instigated the murder of two innocent villagers in previous games. But still! Not cool, guys, not cool.

(That last one is Scotch in a plastic, because I’m classy like that.)

I also learned that AJ, Shaun and Beth are solid frisbee partners, Emily will always bring top notch Scotch to a party, and that Teresa and her family know how to throw a rockin’ party. (Also there was a house with lots of Christmas lights across the street.)

This all brings us to today, my travelers. Today was a good mail day for me. I got a very nice Christmas card from my mother as well as a shirt I ordered a few weeks ago. Check it!

 

I came over with a small collection of stickers and have recently acquired two more. Do you think people will know I’m from out of the country based on my car?

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I also thought I’d post a few photos of Hobbiton just so you all have definitive proof I work there. Plus it’s gorgeous.

The money is a tip one of my work mates got and we both thought it was so cool they had music on the note. So I took a couple pictures.

That’s all the big news to report for now dear travelers. Thanks for keeping up with me. There will be more updates to come.

~Ren

6 Signs That You Work At Hobbiton (and other goings on)

Hello hello hello, travelers! Sorry it’s been an age since I’ve written you a blog post! I’ve been kept rather busy with work and spending time with work mates. But with the Christmas holiday just around the corner I’m lucky enough to find myself with a few days off. So I am going to write you a lovely big blog post about a few things that have been happening in my life.

I talked a bit about work in my last blog but I want to talk about it a bit more, this time with pictures! Over the last few weeks of working, I’ve noticed there are a few things nearly all the Hobbiton guides have in common. So I thought I’d put together a little list, a ‘You know you work at Hobbiton when…’ sort of thing. So, here goes.

1. The Hobbiton V. This is a distinct tan line found just below the collar bone. Those guides who like to leave a button or two undone on their shirts will likely have this etched in their skin for some time.

2. Tan lines in all the wrong places. Here you can see me sporting a lovely ring and bracelet set as well as a pair of stockings.

3. Callouses. (Maybe this one is just me since I’m new.)IMG_44094. Even if you’re not a hat person, you wear a hat all the time and are very familiar with hat hair. IMG_44145. During your work week, you have two fashion styles: oilskin or no oilskin.

6. You have the only nametag you won’t mind wearing because it says Hobbiton on it and who doesn’t want to flaunt that? Also, thanks to me, you’re probably also sporting one of these kickass badges.

When I’m not working, I’m taking almost every chance I get to hang out with my work mates. There are lots of cool people that work at Hobbiton. Usually we are out having a drinking, chatting and laughing and having a good time. There are a few musicians at Hobbiton as well, so I went out and got my live music fix.

(I’ve noticed a popular trend here seems to be taking lots of selfies when someone leaves their phone unattended for a minute. Those top three are a sampling from 22 photos. A big sorry-not-sorry to Harry and Chris. And Mr. Mike McKinley on guitar there on the bottom right. )

I had a particularly good day last Friday. My fellow nerds will know the new Star Wars movie was recently released, so I went with a coworker and his flatmate to see it and got to watch in serious style.

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Never before had I gotten to enjoy a film while sitting in a big comfy recliner. I had a footrest, too! And got to sip on Jameson while I watched! It was a good time. And the movie, while it hurt my heart a bit, was also good.

However, before I saw the movie, I had gotten something even better.

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That’s right. The first care package! And what a good one it was.

My mother used her badass Tetris skills and packed up this box with a few treasures I couldn’t bring with me. I can now listen to music not played through my phone or laptop AND I can listen to music in my car. I can also watch DVDs on my laptop, drink my lovely Strawberry Sunrise Rooibis tea in my wicked TARDIS mug and color my awesome dragon coloring book. And I even have some presents to open on Christmas.

My flatmates and mother can vouch for just how jazzed I was to see this box in front of my door.

Also, I got veggies from the Hobbiton garden. Are you jelly? Of course you are.

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If any of you are wondering how I’m handling Christmas away from friends and family, I can tell you it will be quite alright. The Head Guide at Hobbiton is hosting an Orphan Christmas for all of us far from home. And I’ve got some plans to see mates during my days off. Of course it won’t be the same as seeing all my loved ones back home, and there is no snow here, but I’ll enjoy it all the same.

I hope all my friends and family back home have a lovely holiday, as well as all my other readers. Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!

~Ren

I’m not dead, I’m just working.

Travelers, about ten minutes ago, while I was sitting on the couch watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother, I was momentarily distracted by the large callus smack dab in the middle of the ball of my right foot. My left foot had one just the same, if not larger.

The start of December was also the start of my job at Hobbiton. Seven days. That’s how many days in a row I worked before my first day off, which was yesterday. Nothing I’m not used to. I was handling three jobs before I moved here. However the work is not quite like anything else I’ve done in the past.

A standard day at Hobbiton as a guide has you showing up sometime between 8:15 and 11:30 and taking three or four tours through the set over the course of the day. Each tour lasts two hours and, depending on how backed up things might be, breaks can be as short as 15 minutes.

The calluses on my feet, as well as the very odd tan lines I’ve accumulated, are badges of honor in my eyes. I’ve earned them and now I feel like I belong. Still, it’s only been one week and I’m working on adjusting to this new routine. That and I’m trying to strike a balance between spending time with my new coworkers and spending time on my own things.

I wanted to post this short blog to let you all know that things are still going fine down here on the other side of the globe. My feet are taking a beating and my back is a bit worn out, but there are lots of good things to come, I’m sure.

It’s only been a week, and I have enjoyed it, but I also find myself thinking about the future, wondering what I’ll be doing in five months when my time at Hobbiton is done. Will I try and stay longer? Will I move to the south island and look for another bookstore job? And where will I go after New Zealand? My life feels like the epitome of footloose right now. It’s a bit of a weird feeling for someone like me who always has a plan. Right now I don’t really, and I haven’t decided if I like it or not.

~Ren