Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Second Breakfasts and Round Entry Doors

I went to what may eventually turn out to be my heaven. A few weeks ago my friend, Lisa, and I took a day trip out to the site where Peter Jackson filmed part of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies, Hobbiton. What an exciting experience!

On arriving, we examined the gift shop and tried on the Invisibility Cloak (I think it has to be given to you from the Elves, because we could still be seen in it). And how can you visit Hobbiton and not have Second Breakfast? So up we went to the cafe where we enjoyed a delicious meal of bacon, banana, and pancakes with warm maple syrup. As we were sitting there talking and waiting for our meals the owner of the farm came over and asked where we were from. It was nice to hear the story of how the films came to be shot on his land from the man who green lighted it.

After examining the surrounding yard and landscape, a scene that cannot fully be appreciated through a photo, we were called to the coach bus that would take us to the location. On our way the guide pointed out the vegetable patch, catering area, and where the makeup trailers were located. He also asked us some questions about the movies, the prize to be a leaf from the tree above Bilbo’s house. I won, which surprised me, as I thought others on the tour would know as much as I did. I was wrong and continually proved my geekish obsession with the LOTR movies by correctly answering all the trivia our guide shot at us, though much quieter so as not to come off as a know-it-all.

Hobbiton was much larger than I was expecting. My thought was there would be a few Hobbit holes placed here and there, which maybe I would be able to recognize. 

Nope! The place a huge with Hobbit holes tucked here and just visible over there. 

Our guide directed our group through the neighborhoods, giving us time to check out and take as many pictures we could of the detail given to each property. 

We were lucky to have visited on a day when it was not raining, but there was still mud all around, making the trek up and down the Hobbit hills a little difficult at times. But we had an enthusiastic group eager to see all that we could and were able to do just that.

Each house had their personal accessories scaled to a certain measurement, one set just for that house and none other. This was done so each filming shoot would look correct to the eye and pieces wouldn't look too big or too small. The attention to these small details was very impressive.

At the very top of the hill was where we found Bags End, the family residence of Bilbo Baggins. Here we could see just a smidge of the entry way into the house, the only one where more care was taken to finish the interior. This was the closest we were allowed to get to the door, the gate was closed and we weren't there on party business.

We learned the tree above Bilbo's house was not a living one, but a tree made just for the movies so the leaves would constantly be green like in summer. 

Just after visiting Bags End we were able to step into the next Hobbit house. I have to say, it wasn't what I was expecting, but fun all the same. I knew it was just a shell, an exterior designed just for shooting scenes, but the inside was nothing but dirt and strategically placed items that could be seen from the window. It was a great place to have a photo opportunity though.

Since we were on a working sheep farm, our tour ended with the chance to feed some lambs. They were lopping and playing in the paddock next to the gift shop when we arrived back from the site location, looking very cute and ready to eat. A bottle was handed to me and over ran a lamb. They were so funny and had everyone laughing at their antics. 

It was one of the best activities I have done here in New Zealand, I could hardly contain my excitement before or after my trip and took over a hundred pictures to remember the fun I had that day. Hobbiton is definitely one place I would recommend visiting.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Olympic Fever

I can’t tell you when I started to really enjoy watching the Olympic Games, it could have been when the Summer Games were held in Atlanta in ’96; I don’t remember watching before then. The flame was carried through my hometown that year, but I was on my first overseas trip and missed the event. The pictures made it seem like it was a great time though.

As I've mentioned before, I’m not one to watch a lot of sport; I’d rather be playing or at a live game, otherwise I have a hard time getting into it. I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. Whenever the Olympics come around though, summer or winter games, it is the only thing I watch. And, even though I am not in my home country, this year proves no different.

The 2012 London Opening Ceremonies were a treat to watch, I loved the flow of the story being told and the history behind each scene. Starting with the green fields which transferred to the factories of the industrial age before moving onto the rich history England has in children’s literature, I was glued to the screen not wanting to miss a minute of the show. I loved how they used the hill to display the participating countries’ flags and was pleasantly awed when the petals were lit and rose to form the flame.

It is an interesting experience to be in another country during the games. There are differences, obviously, in how the events are broadcasted. The events I have normally followed have been harder to keep track of, and sports I rarely have an interest in seeing have been all over the TV. It has given me a better appreciation for these sports, but I want to follow my team and know what they are doing. Thankfully they have an app for that and I have been able to catch up on what medals we won.

Me with my homemade American flag!

I have to hand it to Team GB, not only have they been bringing home medals, but you can just take a quick glance at their kit and know they are part of the home team. I think it was a great idea to have such consistency in design throughout the various sports and wish Team USA would have had the same notion; it would be so much easier to follow my countrymen and women instead of constantly scanning for my flag or another symbol to indicate what country they are representing.

As the Games come to a close I can’t help but become a bit melancholy. For the past two weeks the world has come together, putting their personal feelings aside for pure enjoyment of sport. This hasn’t always been the case, but I’m glad we have been able to come together and celebrate the truly spectacular athletes and cheer our countries on to glory.