I have a huge amount of respect to the New Zealand team who travel to Europe and fight through the jet lag. I have been here nearly a week and only just getting over it. Currently fighting off my third nap of the day on the blue bridge ferry to the North Island. A battle which I lost miserably perhaps because I had eaten two pieces of pie and a good portion of veggies. Bulk eating for little people like me is important, otherwise do not have enough energy reserves for fighting. That is my excuse!
Over the past week I have been living a modern hobbits dream. Two breakfasts and two dinners everyday and snacks galore. A balanced diet of vegan veggies, meat protein and carbs. This is what happens when you go travelling with a vegan, a vegetarian, a meat eater and have a ferocious appetite when you exercise.
We arrived on the North Island, greeted by the wonderful Wellington Warrior, Dayna! The two brief nights I spent with Dayna were amazing. This family are the definition of hospitable. They know how to make a guest feel at home. An epic Sunday roast, vegan chocolate cake, a constant stream of tea and, cuddles with a 10kg Norwegian forest cat made our arrival and departure to the North Island a highlight of the trip. A mother, wife and self-employed businesswoman, Dayna is a warrior woman in more than one way. Listing off the details of how she’s going to get to the World Championships in Italy, makes me appreciate being so close to Europe! 2-3 days of travel, thousands of dollars in outgoings and a logistical nightmare which means months of hard-work and planning. Finally, her dream of representing her country will come to fruition!
Check this link to find out more about Dayna’s journey to the World Championships:
This trip has made me realise more than ever that the HMB community are a worldwide family who will look after you as one of their own even if you’ve never met. I was given a quick crash course in Maori, (kai pai Dayna!) which was a nice lull in the road trip action while I focused on a university deadline (curse online submissions and real life).
Maori Warrior mural at Mount Maunganui on the way to Rotorua
Driving into Rotorua you are met with the smell of sulphur and hot air alive with dancing wreathes of steam. Being used to hours stuck in a van with sweaty gambesons and fellow fighters after tournaments, I adapted to the smell quite quickly. The thermal activity that causes an abundance of naturally heated hot pools are a welcome retreat here. A pleasant hot pool dip in the evening to soothe sore muscles and bring the jelly legs back to life. Over the next couple of days I had the privilege of a whole double bed to myself! Well, almost to myself, little miss Fugals, the household mistress honoured me with her presence on my last two nights. A gorgeous little white tortoiseshell she is an integral part of my wonderful Rotorua hosts’ home.
Me and Fugals
My host Nick is as dedicated as they come where HMB is concerned. First Nick gave me a tour of the pad, and then of course the weapons come out. A lovely collection, a beautifully balanced falchion stood out to me the most. For which I took measurements and will have words with my main man Jo Dawes. Always I have weapons on the brain. My love of pointy, stabby things seems to be seeping into my design work. I spent my time in Rotorua learning craft in a pounamu (greenstone) carving workshop. I fell in love again, this time enthralled by the soothing meditation that is the traditional jewellery techniques of the Maori.
This is one of my sharp inspired designs carved by my own hand
The Maori use greenstone for their weapons as well as their jewellery. Mere/war clubs are made of 1-2 kg of solid greenstone. Being a jeweller in training I have magpie tendencies. This love of shiny things got me particularly excitable on my second day here, when Nick brought out a box of medals and trophies for the next major tournament to be held in Rotorua, Sulphur City Clash. Whomever claims that size doesn’t matter has never seen the size and beauty of Nick’s trophies. He explained that there were also metal plaques being engraved for the profights. Not only does he have a collection of medals and trophies for the taking, but profight belts too!
Disco lights and epic battle music awaken in my mind remembering my last profight with the Duchess. Imagine the glory of winning and being presented with a shining belt for profight champions only. I lost my profight with The Duchess but that is beside the point, a girl can dream. Now down to business!
We focused on soft kit training because flying my armour to New Zealand was impossible. The Ukrainians only train in soft kit due to time restraints and the strain on your body armoured training causes. Based on this soft kit training only approach I’m doing my body a favour which is never a bad thing. Look after your body and it’ll look after you. A quick warm up and a few drills later with the boys and the good old controlled breathing techniques from the weird and wonderful Daniel Winters’ training comes into play. The greatest aspect to training with different people is it keeps your mind fresh, because you’re constantly coming up against new obstacles and learning. There’s nothing quite like the thrill and satisfaction of improving oneself. I end the session on a high nearly bringing down the talented David Briscoe with me in a grapple. He breaks it down into stages afterwards, showing me a little secret, he was taught by a Ukrainian. Another skill to add to the armoury and bring back for my girls.
An excellent day, ending with a visit to the local all-you-can-eat restaurant. Every fighters dream after a day of hard work! Time to begin the long journey homewards now. A dolphin pod spotting on the ferry, another steam and I’m just about ready for the trip back to England. We stopped off on the way home at Napier and it’s beautiful black beaches.
I must thank everyone who made this trip possible and have supported me along the way, especially Dayna, Nicholas and David from the New Zealand team. You made it a trip to remember! My beautiful sister for making me laugh, god I’m going to miss you. Four flights and two days of travelling back to England now to join the rest of my sisters for the last preparations for the world championships. Only 7 days go!
Until the next time.