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What do you do if your spouse becomes addicted to the Lord of the Rings movies and swoons every time Orlando Bloom appears? Thud! Quick, fetch the smelling salts...
What should you do if your spouse becomes addicted to the Lord of the Rings movies and swoons at the very mention of Orlando Bloom's name? (Thud. Quick, fetch the smelling salts.) How about taking the advice of a strange apparition that reveals itself in a dream? An apparition that looks remarkably like the director of the movies, Peter Jackson, but not quite remarkably enough to prompt legal action. An apparition that recommends touring New Zealand in an effort to prove that its sheep pastures aren't really filled by frolicking Hobbits. Just sheep and the occasional zorbing local.
This is the hilarious tale of such a tour, featuring snow capped mountains and turquoise lakes, flightless birds and flying cattle, bungy jumping grannies and the carrot mafia, strange yellow eyes peering up from a road map and hotel receptionists always desperate to know win you are living.
Hoops But No Rings
There are five main things to consider when selecting an airline for long haul travel on a budget.
(1) Do they fly to the place you want to go?
(2) Do their aircraft fall out of the sky often? (The answer no, they only ever fall out of the sky once is not acceptable.)
(3) Is there much leg room in economy?
(4) Is there much leg room in economy?
(5) Is there much leg room in economy?
Of those airlines which scored a yes then a no on the first two questions, Air New Zealand seemed to score best on three, four and five so we flew with them to Auckland from London, via Sydney. (The diversion to Sydney was for an educational exhibition of Lord of the Rings costumes and props. It certainly taught us a thing a two, like don’t go to Sydney in early December for an exhibition that starts on Boxing Day).
We made the choice of Air New Zealand despite dire warnings on the internet about the standard of their in-flight entertainment. Before you question that decision, ask yourself this. How many people do you know who would say, “Sure I have acquired a deep vein thrombosis that might kill me, but it was really worth it to be able to watch Halle Berry in Catwoman several times in quick succession on a six inch LCD screen?” Actually if you do know anyone who would say that, get them professional help.
I saw Halle Berry on a rather larger screen appearing now and again from behind the head of the man in the seat in front of me and in my humble opinion this improved Catwoman a lot. But not as much as the fact that my headset wasn’t working so I couldn’t hear any of the dialogue.
Air New Zealand, managed to remain airborne and convey THB and myself over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans without forcing us to sit with our knees tucked under our chins, leaving us a few hours to enjoy the departure lounge at Sydney airport before the final leg of the journey to Auckland.
Having toured all the souvenir shops in a vain attempt to swap my remaining Australian dollars for an Indiana Jones style leather hat (my dollars were too few and would only run to a Village People style leather hat adorned by chains) I had to admit defeat and exchange them for their Kiwi cousins instead. Then I settled down with THB for a game of Spot the Banker, a diversion which centres around trying to guess the occupations of fellow passengers.
I pointed to a harassed looking woman waggling her finger at three bored looking children as she lectured then on the finer points of how to eat an ice cream without necessitating a change of clothes. Teacher! THB pointed to an oily haired man in a sharp suit trying to charm an upgrade (or maybe more) out of an unimpressed stewardess. Salesman! I pointed to a furtive looking guy in jeans and a tomato ketchup (or was it) stained tee shirt. Axe-murderer! And so on.
Then THB pointed to a very tall man dressed in a red and black track suit loping across the concourse with the ease of a professional athlete. His clothes featured a drawing of a bearded man with an eye patch peering out from an inverted triangle. Ophthalmologist? No! Basketball player!
He joined a group of similarly dressed and similarly lofty colleagues. Basketball team!
A short, middle-aged man in thick glasses then sidled up to them and began dispensing advice. “If you manage to put the ball through that hoopy thing more often and let the other team do it less often, I think you will win more games.” Basketball fan!
Maybe his comments were a little more incisive than that, I’m no basketball expert, but I don’t think the tall guys were impressed. If looks could kill there would have been one set of luggage to remove from the hold before our plane could take off. Luckily before blood could be spilled the giants were marshalled away like naughty kids by an older, shorter, greyer and more stressed looking teacher substitute. Basketball coach!
To my surprise, when we boarded the plane, the basketball giants were scattered about economy, hunched in their seats like adults having to make do with infants chairs at a school parents’ evening, rather than lounging in first as I assumed sports stars would. Suddenly the room available to a titch like me seemed lavish. And unlike some, I wasn’t bothered by autograph hunters on their way back from the toilet for much of the flight. Maybe that was the last time though. You never know how well this book will do.
Auckland airport created a good first impression. It wasn’t the usual soulless cavern of steel girders and surly staff that has become the norm nowadays. It was more like someone’s living room, expanded to accommodate a handful of shops and the odd extra seat in case a few hundred visitors happened to drop by. And people there were smiling. No really they were. Maybe we’d just turned up at the end of their shift.
The absence of gun-toting police roaming about on the look out for itinerant terrorists was refreshing too. But what if there was an incident? Say the New Zealand ovine rights movement smuggled a flock of sheep into the terminal to protest at the lack of international travel opportunities for our woolly friends, at least when alive. I admit that this sort of behaviour is normally restricted to French farmers, but you never know. Maybe a group of Maori warriors would spring out from hiding (in cupboards, behind doughnut stands, wherever) and whack a few heads with their taiaha (fighting staff). Then the price of lamb in the airport restaurants would fall for a few days.
“Wut mid you wunt to kim to New Zilland?” enquired the cheerful Kiwi on the immigration desk charged with deciding whether we would be allowed into her country.
I should point out here that we had not encountered a small talking bird. Not a feathered one anyway. The word Kiwi is used here as an adjective to indicate a person from New Zealand.
Apparently the Kiwis prefer that to New Zealander or New Zildish or whatever. I’ve often thought it would be interesting to extend this idea for use within a country. People from coastal areas could be called gulls, people from cities could be called pigeons, men could be called cocks, women could be called tits... Maybe not.
While I was mulling over the question of avian nomenclature, THB had answered the immigration officer’s question, using the magic four words guaranteed, it seems, to get any Kiwi excited. (A clue. They begin with L, O, T and R).
Entertaining & Informative!
As a U.S. of A. person, I needed the humor in John Gisby's title explained to me before I could fully appreciate his hilarious new book. People who go from door to door explaining their religious beliefs, and trying to make converts, are known as "God botherers" in Mr. Gisby's native England.
Therefore, when one's wife begins talking incessantly about the Lord of the Rings characters and the actors who portrayed them in the recent film trilogy, why wouldn't it make sense to start referring to her as a "hobbit botherer"?
You'll either love or hate the author's sense of humor. Since I found myself of the former persuasion, I had to read this book far more slowly than usual. I was seriously afraid of missing out on a nuance. A page that didn't contain at least one snort-producing barb proved rare indeed, as I joined the Gisbys on their 25-day odyssey through New Zealand. They fashioned their tour to include as many as possible of the sites where Lord of the Rings was filmed, because the trip's supposed purpose was to cure Annette (author of Silent Screams, Shadows of the Rose, and Drowning Rapunzel) of her hobbit bothering mania by showing her first-hand that New Zealand really isn't another name for Middle Earth.
You'll have to read the book yourself to discover how well those good intentions turned out. :-) You'll also learn a lot about a colorful land and its rich history, because in between nuggets of humor John Gisby provides plenty of solid facts about New Zealand. He's not only an entertaining writer, but an informative one, too.
--Nina M. Osier, author of Rough Rider (2005 EPPIE finalist, now available from Lulu at http://www.lulu.com/content/167403)
Are you a Hobbit Botherer?
Are you a Hobbit Botherer? Have you seen all three Lord of the Rings movies multiple times? Do you involuntarily scream "He's so hot!" when Orlando Bloom appears on the television set? Have you had fantasies about visiting Hobbiton, fighting a fierce band of Uruk-hai, or receiving a magical ring? Do you have a growing collection of DVDs starring Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Astin, and Elijah Wood? If so, you might be a Hobbit Botherer.
New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer is the tale of the author as he tries to have a normal vacation in New Zealand with his Hobbit Botherer wife. As the couple enjoys the beautiful sights and rich culture of New Zealand, the author finds himself being dragged to old set locations, places where Elijah stood, and a variety of commercial venues using the Lord of the Rings related themes. The result is hilarious.
New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer was a complete breath of fresh air. I laughed so hard, I could hardly breathe. Moreover, though I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, now I yearn to do so.
I have just one more thing to say to the author. We Hobbit Botherers know you are laughing at us about our infatuation but we really don't care. We are far too busy daydreaming about the track that the crew followed on their journey. Moreover, the sooner you realize that Hobbiton truly exists (you did find remnants didn't you?), the happier your life will be:).
Dr. Tami Brady, tcm Reviews: http://tcm-ca.com/
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