Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If this is communication I disconnect ….

In a world where everyone is electronically connected pretty well 24/7 we fail miserably to connect with ourselves and the world around us. All this electronic communication via Facebook, Twitter, LInkedin , Texting etc, is great because we can gain knowledge quickly at our fingertips with computers and our smart phones. But, there needs to be a balance, electronic communication in a way isolates us to what may be right in front of us or under our feet. Often I’ve seen people engaged in talking with someone on their cell phone or texting while they are sitting with someone in front of them, a real person. There is no substitute for direct personal contact with those we care about and choose to spend our time with, that’s why when travelling with family or if you are getting away from it all maybe it is a good idea to leave the smart phone and laptop at home.

In order to get the full impact of travel we need to engage with those we are travelling with, the local people and the environment. Being present while travelling allows us to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures and philosophies, more understanding than we could ever gain by googling the subject. We also get to slow down and ponder our own existence and our place in the world. The world would be a better place if we just took off our shoes and socks and felt the earth under our feet, sat quietly with our thoughts, looked the person we are with directly in the eyes and listened with our hearts.

So when travelling the next time disconnect electronically and connect spiritually!

If you are interested in where I got the title from check out the song Communication by the Cardigans, the lyrics always get me thinking.


Denise Gushue – CTC


Friday, June 17, 2011

Navigating summer holidays and maybe an Irish roundabout?

Summer is fast approaching us and soon before we know it will be September so if you have not already considered what you want to do for vacation while the kids are out of school it’s not too late.

Often families rule out travelling overseas due to the cost and logistics of travelling with kids. This is not always the case there are some options that are family friendly that may not break the bank. One that comes to mind is a driving holiday in Ireland. Ireland is family friendly, rich in history and beautiful landscapes abound.

A driving holiday offers good value for money and flexibility to go at you own pace. I would suggest using a go as you please type package which includes your car and vouchers for either B&B or farm stay type accommodations. You could even stay at a castle; I know most kids would jump at the chance to do that especially if they love any books like the Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter!

Although driving in Ireland may take a little getting used to especially since you have to drive on the opposite side of the road and learn how to navigate the roundabouts, the comfort of being able to stop when and where you want is a blessing when kids need to stretch their legs or have a bathroom break. Here are some basic rules to navigating the roundabout:

1. Traffic in the roundabout has the right of way so you must signal in the direction of traffic in order to merge into it.

2. Once in you can stay in there until you figure out where you want to turn then signal to exit.

Another piece of advice I can offer is the Irish mile is never a mile so if you are getting directions from a local especially if it is an old guy on a lonely road chances are they won’t be accurate! A mile is never a mile but remember sometimes a few wrong turns can end up being serendipitous. You may find ancient church ruins or Dolmens (ancient tombs) or a pub full of local history, great music and delicious Guinness stew!


Personally I love hearing “will you be having an Irish breakfast this morning”? There is huge value in having such a breakfast as it can keep you going for a good part of the day! Who can say they are hungry after having Irish bacon and sausages, beans, fried tomato, black pudding and eggs. In Ireland breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day and maybe the largest!

When using B&B vouchers I recommend pre-booking your first night and last nights’ accommodation before you depart home with maybe the exception of July when it is quite busy. This leaves flexibility in your itinerary allowing your adventure to unfold while you are there. Often the B&B owners will make suggestions on what you can do next.

So round up the kids, fly across the pond to the Emerald Isle and return with stories of fun and adventure! Maybe you’ll even find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow with a little Irish luck!  

Denise Gushue - CTC

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Stunning Cook Strait -Guest Blog by Laurence Norah - Finding the Universe

I am by no means an expert on ferry crossings. Most of my experience in this area comes from childhood trips to France or Spain from the UK, and memories in this area are fairly vague, usually involving my olfactory sense.

The smell of fuel, the smell of old sick, the smell of the sea. Ferries have not, for a long time, been a mode of transport that I have seen through a romantic viewpoint, being about the destination, and not about the journey.

Recently however, my thoughts on ferry crossings have been radically overhauled, as a result of the journey I took between New Zealand's North and South islands, across the Cook Strait, from Wellington to Picton, a trip that clocks in at a little over three hours.

I should point out that circumstances were clearly conspiring to force me to enjoy the trip. Presumably the ferry gods of old were looking down on me and deciding to bless me with an unusually pleasant voyage.

So the weather, which is pretty much the make or break for a ferry trip, was incredibly good. There is a saying about mill ponds. I have never sailed on a mill pond, so I can't really know if the saying is accurate, but if a mill pond is a glass like environment where the thought of a wave is about as far from your mind as you can imagine – then this was the state of the sea on the day of our crossing. Nary a breath of wind was pushing through the air, and even the clouds had taken the day off, replaced by blue skies from horizon to horizon.

Our sailing was in the afternoon, onboard the Bluebridge ferry, which I have to say was also a rather convivial experience. A large passenger deck, equipped with incredibly comfortable reclining chairs, and even flat screen TV's showing a range of films. Not a bad option for passing a trip if the weather was poor – although in our case, the weather was so good that we spent much of the trip on the open air viewing deck on the top of the ship.

The Cook Strait itself is not that wide – the distance from North to South island is a mere 20km at it's narrowest point – so much of the time is spent winding through the incredibly picturesque Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte sound.

Here the ferry seems to pass impossibly close to the land as it meanders its way up the sound to the final destination of Picton. Houses dot the shoreline, mollusc farms are passed, and fishing boats ramble on past the hulking might of the ferry.

The Sound itself takes up at least 40% of the journey time, and is the sort of trip I would happily pay to go on as a scenic voyage, so having it included as part of my transport was rather handy.

If you don't have a vehicle, there are other ways to get from New Zealand's North island to it's South island. But if the weather is good, and you aren't in a hurry, then I can very much recommend the ferry option. It's not particularly expensive, and the experience is very much worth it. Two companies operate this route, Interislander and Bluebridge, and it's worth shopping around as prices fluctuate based on season and your requirements.

Laurence Norah - Guest Blog from Finding the Universe