Sunday, April 12, 2015

Return from the Land of the Long White Cloud!

The best way to see New Zealand without a doubt!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you have all endured the wet weather last week - I heard it was quite the tropical monsoon climate!

I will be back on pool deck tomorrow (Monday 13th April) for the 7am and 9.30am sessions. We're now less than 3 weeks away from the Busselton Half Ironman which I know many of you are doing in some capacity or other! Following this we will look to instigate a bit of a winter program to keep your mojo high during the colder months, aiming to start Monday 18th May. I welcome any feedback / ideas that you might have for this one.

Following my UK work trip and the New Zealand Easter holiday, I am really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and seeing how everyone is getting on!

Just a quick reminder, from next Monday 20th April for a period of 2 weeks we shall have six international visiting coaches with me on pool deck: Emma Brunning (whom many of you already know and love) will be back to help mentor the five new coaches (Emma and Lucy from the UK, Russell from New Zealand, Enrique from Spain and Fenella from Hong Kong) who we'll be putting through their paces on pool deck at all the sessions. I'm hoping you'll all benefit greatly from having a greater coach:athlete ratio during this period and look forward to seeing you all down there showing them what you can do! No pressure! ;-)

I thought I'd take the liberty of sharing with you a few of our snaps from our 10 day trip to the north island of New Zealand. We were primarily over there for one of my best friend's wedding (he'd asked me to be his official photographer for the day which I was chuffed to bits about!), but took the opportunity to travel around the island for the remainder of the week in a motor-home. This was very reminiscent of mine and Michelle's 6-month trek around Europe in a similar vehicle (called "Sid the Swim Smooth Bus") exactly 10 years ago…but this time with two stow-a-ways in the form of Jackson (6) and Isla Rose (3). It made for a great holiday and I have to say I totally fell in love with the country - well worth a trip if you've never been!

This greeted us on the first morning - Hot Water Beach, the Coromandel - arguably one of the nicest beaches I've ever seen - the water was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I put Jackson straight to work, digging a hole in the beach to create our very own hot water spa bath! Neat!

It was then down to Rotorua for the wedding and a boy's fishing trip to start the day - ai, ai, Captain Jackson!

My tutor Kirstie from the University of Bath had her little boy Lucas 36 hours before Jackson was born - she's the sister of my best mate Dan who was getting married - JJ and Lucas got on like a house on fire having never met before!

Having it large on the dance-floor - reminiscent of many a party gone by with Dan…in fact without this man (my Australian back-packing buddy) I'd never have visited Perth in the first place 13 years ago! Funny how things work out - he and Carma now live in Melbourne.

The four of us together in my makeshift photo booth which proved very popular with all the guests!

My new favourite swimming location - Lake Okataina - the water was so clean, fresh and pure that you could drink it!

Even Jackson fancied a little dabble - imagine my surprise when I turned around and he'd swum all the way out to me, about 100m off the shore!

De Brett's Spa Resort in Taupo - an amazing place for a family camping trip, complete with natural mineral spas and water slides all on site!

Jackson definitely gets his adventurous streak from Michelle…this is minutes before he took to a 15m high ropes course!

Isla looking on as her big brother shows her that heights aren't anything to be afraid of (maybe I need to observe more closely as I'm petrified of heights!)

Isla was too little for the ropes but decided to practice her Haka - unprompted!

Unfortunately we got rained out on the day we were going to walk the mighty mountain pass at Ruapehu! Good fun in the puddles was had though!

Loving our special necklaces from the famous Waitamo Glow Worm Caves!

A real highlight was a trip to Hobbiton - the movie set for the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - simply awesome!

The tree above Bilbo Baggins' house "Bag End" is not real - it cost designers $250,000 (one of the single most expensive props in movie history) to create the prop from steel and silicon but is amazingly life-like!

These two little hobbits were just about the right size for Hobbiton!

Isla's New Zealand lamb (she is fascinated by lambs and sheep!)

I even managed an 'impromptu' mini Swim Smooth Clinic for 7 swimmers in Auckland on our final day whilst Mish and the kids hit the butterfly and dinosaur park!

Life in Sid Mark II

Amazing sunset for our last evening - here at Clark's Beach near Auckland.

…and here we are right now, at 38,000ft flying back to Perth - everyone tuckered out but dreaming of our next adventure!

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