The (Bag)End – A Last Highlight

If you happen to follow me on tumblr, you may already have seen that I got the last highlight in yesterday. It was a long way coming. 33 days in fact, and 5000km. The latter in NZ alone. It didn’t disappoint. I am talking about Hobbiton.

We arrived in Matamata at 10 am yesterday, and I got myself on the next tour to the movie set. No journalist discount, but I had acquired a discount card for a particular chain of holiday parks along the way, so I got the tour for 68 NZD instead of 75. Off we set in our tour bus.IMG_3328

At The Shire’s Rest we changed bus drivers and took our guide on board, and off we went.

That’s part of the drive up to the movie set and you will see that the location is idyllic – rolling hills, dotted with sheep, the occasional tree, and a mountain range in the distance. You can also hear the driver babbling away 😉

And then we arrived. The set was instantly recognizable and looks the way we saw it in the films: an idyllic little village of Hobbit holes, built into the softly rolling hills. I had picked a gorgeous day for the visit – the sun was splitting the stones, and the whole place could not have looked any better. The gardens were full of butterflies, the flowers were in bloom.

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Bag End right at the top of the image

It was lucky I was on an early-ish tour because the interval between my group and the previous one was not too short. That changed soon after us, and you could hardly get a shot in that didn’t have people in it.

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Miraculously – here is a shot without people “spoiling” it

IMG_3275There were 44 individual hobbit holes and they came in different sizes – built to scale, for the different shots they took of them with the various actors/stand-ins. All of the hobbit holes were beautifully decorated. The attention to detail was staggering – flower gardens decorated every hole, there were little props such as wheel barrows, chairs, sometimes tools. A bakery had a stall outside, you could see shelves full of cheeses in the cheesemonger’s hole, and Samwise’s house had a washing line where a few garments were merrily fluttering in the breeze. Chinese lanterns hung beside the party tree, and the gardens were full of pumpkins, courgettes, rhubarb and all manner of edible, real “vege”.

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Our tour took us past plenty of hobbit holes, and we were allowed to step into one of them and pose. It wasn’t Bag End, but here I am, with Pop Thorin, after I had guided him along so that he didn’t get lost…

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For once, Guylty leaves anonymity behind… Stupid pose, though.

Pop Thorin drew quite a few laughs and looks when I brought him out.

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That friggin’ look’n’dip gets me *every* time…

I couldn’t wait, of course, to bring Thorin back to Bag End. To the door, where he knocked – and where *he* knocked us out. Yeah, I think it’s time to insert *that* gif again. Apologies to the creator – I’d love to credit you, but can’t remember who you are. Splendid work.

Curt, the nice tour guide, was quite taken with him and snuck into a picture of Thorin in front of his good pal Bilbo’s house.photo(2)

*hmph* Thorin doesn’t really look impressed, does he? Here’s a view of Bag End across Hobbiton:

IMG_3305After the tour past the holes we went across the bridge, past the mill, to the Green Dragon Inn where we were offered a free drink. There was a choice between four different beverages, among them Amber Ale. I opted for a refreshing tankard of Cider, however.

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Inside the Green Dragon

Thanks to Pop Thorin I made the acquaintance of a lovely French girl who recognized him and we got chatting. She knew the films – and even Richard Armitage. No, she was not a fellow well-wisher, but she congratulated me on my good taste *ggg*. We spent the remainder of the tour together, so – yet again – I may thank Mr A for facilitating acquaintances/chats/friendships/contacts/whatever you want to call it.

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The party tree from up near Bag End

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Is that a milk moustache on the über-sexy dwarf???

After two hours in Hobbiton we set down Curt at The Shire’s Rest and had 15 minutes in the gift shop where I bought a few souvenirs before we were ferried back to Matamata. I said bye-bye to Hobbiton with a celebratory last photo of the porn dwarf… Oh, how I will miss nipping into post offices and eye-sores i-sites to get my daily fix…

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The Green Dragon from the party tree

IMG_3293To conclude my post – here’s a review of the tour as a tourist experience: Admission prices in NZ seem quite steep. 75 NZD translate into 50 Euro after all. But you get transport to and from the movie set and a tour that includes a free drink. The tour guide was knowledgable and really friendly, the tour itself fun. The site itself is extremely well-maintained. Gardeners were busy cutting the grass and planting/pruning flowers. There were detailed decorations everywhere, lovingly arranged to make the place look lived in – as if the hobbits had only just left to go to the fair. I can’t find any fault with it at all. If anything, then the only drawback is that there are so many tours going through the site that you will always have someone walking into the picture. The tour is a definite must for all Hobbit fans – it is magic to be in the place where they filmed, and when you are there you almost feel as if you are in the film itself. You’ll invariably think “this is where Frodo meets Gandalf on the cart/the children run through the garden/Bilbo sits outside his home/Frodo nails the sign on the garden gate”, and that just feels great. And if you happen to have someone on your party who hasn’t seen the films – it’s still worth seeing, just because it’s cute and simply a beautiful spot. Five stars from me.

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Bag End from the party field

PS: I am not too sure, btw, whether Mr A ever filmed in Hobbiton. His scene at the beginning of AUJ was probably done in studio, not on location. But I hazard the guess that he took the opportunity to see the place, too. After all, he needed the back story to Thorin losing his way *twice* – I wonder what he came up with…

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Poor Pop Thorin got dirty… look at the scratch under his eye…

And a last PPS: As ever I am indebted to Richard and his army. You see, I am writing this from Auckland. Day 37 and we have completed the circle. We arrived back in Auckland this afternoon. And ever since we have arrived, my heart has been feeling heavy. This is the end of the journey now, and I am sad to the point of being distraught at having to leave. But I have just spent all evening here in my hostel, going through my images, editing them, uploading them, writing my blog post – and effectively ignoring and forgetting that I am at the journey’s end. My thanks to you – for reading, for commenting, for entertaining my usual irrelevant b’shit. And my thanks to Mr A – for providing many a focal point for me while travelling in NZ. I can well understand that he felt at home here – but maybe I’ll get into that in a later post. For now – good-bye from Auckland.

I promise, this is the last PPPS: There is one more NZ post scheduled for tomorrow – written many days ago.

74 thoughts on “The (Bag)End – A Last Highlight

  1. Wie immer ein sehr gelungener Post, da ist für jeden Geschmack etwas dabei.
    Du solltest mal darüber nachdenken, das Ganze in Buchform zu veröffentlichen, nicht gelackt sondern genau so in Original-Guylty-Style. Genug Abnehmerinnen werden sich da sicher finden.
    Und endlich hast du deine “Anonymität“ gelüftet, die für deine treuen Blog-addicts doch schon lange keine mehr ist😀
    Danke, dass du uns an dieser wunderbaren Reise hast teilnehmen lassen.
    Für die Rückreise wünsche ich dir schon mal jetzt alles Gute.

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    • Vielen Dank fürs Mitlesen, Ute, und für die freundliche Rückmeldung. Das macht so ein Blog erst richtig schön.
      Was die Reise angeht, ist angedacht, die ganzen Erlebnisse tatsächlich in Form einer Reisebeschreibung herauszubringen. Bin noch nicht sicher, in welcher Sprache. Ich würde natürlich am liebsten ein Fotobuch herausbringen. Für mich selbst werde ich die besten Shots sowieso als Buch drucken lassen. Wenn das passiert ist, stelle ich mal den Link rein, dann könnt ihr das Buch zumindestens digital angucken (oder sogar kaufen *ggg*).
      Und ja, die Anonymität hat stark gelitten. Du kennst mich ja sowieso “in echt”. Aber am Hobbit-Hole wollte ich das Bild nicht mit einem schwarzen Augenbalken versauen (zudem “Curt” mich ausnahmsweise annehmbar getroffen hatte *ggg*).
      Rückreise ist heute abend, 20.45 Uhr. Es ist jetzt 10.20 Uhr und ich werde den Morgen damit verbringen, noch im Internet ein bisschen aufzuräumen… Zu Besichtigungen habe ich nun keine Ruhe mehr 😀

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  2. Oh ja, da schwingt Trauer mit. Ich kann verstehen, dass du problemlos noch verlängern könntest. Auch das Begleiten war sehr schön. Unfassbar, daß fast 37 Tage rum sind.
    Bag End war ja nochmal ein krönender Abschluss. Und dann wagst du dich auch noch höchstselbst ans Licht der Öffentlichkeit. Beweisfoto?

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      • Oh ja – das ist der Soundtrack zum Abschied. *schnief* Ja, ich könnte problemlos verlängern. Auf immer. Ein herrliches Land, freundliche Menschen, fantastische Landschaften. Und dazu für uns ausschließlich gutes Wetter. 33 Sonnentage (bei insgesamt 36 Tagen).
        Ich bin fest gewillt, nächstes Jahr zurückzukehren. Dann aber mit Familie.

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  3. WOW für den größten Teil des Posts. Einfach nur WOW. Danke fürs Zeigen, Schreiben, Uns-Mitnehmen!

    Und *schniiiief* für den letzten Absatz.
    Wie schnell das alles vorbei ist … 😦

    Gute Heimreise!

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    • Bitte gerne – das Euch-Mitnehmen hat die Sache für mich auch verschönert. Es hat wahnsinnig Spaß gemacht, Hobbiton, Wellington, verschiedene Locations aus der Perspektive des RA-Fans zu betrachten – unnd dann auch für meine Fellow-Fans aufzubereiten. Mein NZ-Erlebnis wurde dadurch auf jeden Fall bereichert.
      Und ja – es ist unfassbar, dass und wie schnell das alles vorbei ist. Hoffentlich komme ich wieder zurück nach NZ.

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  4. Beautiful photos Guylty, thank you so much for sharing, they brought back happy memories. I don’t think I managed to catch much at all without people in the frame, especially not inside The Green Dragon, it was full. What gorgeous weather you had, so nice to see it on a bright day. Even after the rain we had the day of our visit the surrounding hills are still dry and brown, such a contrast to the lush green of Bag End. I took my Little Thorin but between juggling a brolly and a camera, I had my hands full, so he ended up staying in my bag. 😦
    Yes, the attention to detail is amazing. Did the guide tell you that the maintenance workers there can help themselves to the produce grown in the gardens?
    I confess to being a bit surprised by the cost, but probably parking at The Shire’s Rest and starting the tour there instead of from Matamata would cut it down a bit.
    Thank you for sharing your New Zealand experience – it’s been fun to follow your posts, and to know that we were in the same country for a little while! You will have wonderful memories to treasure for a long time to come. 🙂

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    • Thanks Mezz. Since you were there just before me, I know that you looked at the pics with insider’s eyes 😉 I was fortunate that the place wasn’t over-run yet, but even in my photos there tend to be people on the paths or somewhere on the outer fringe. But well, it’s a popular destination, so I *knew* that was going to happen.
      Ad wow, how lucky then, that I got the good weather. I can imagine that it would have been quite difficult with a brolli (and never mind that my mood always suffers when it rains – I get annoyed, and then I just don’t have the mojo for photographing.) I can well understand that Pop Thorin wanted to stay in the dry…
      As for the produce – yep, I remember the guide saying that all the produce was real and was eaten by the people who work there. I kept thinking how cool it must be to work there – and to be able to see the site in the early morning or the evening when all the tourists are gone…
      It’s been great fun writing up NZ from the perspective of a RA fan. I kept it sort of topical for this blog, i.e. tried to have a RA/Hobbit slant, but of course there were so many more memorable sights and things. I’ll probably write it all up for the other blog – and for magazine articles etc. I am planning to make a photo book, too, which will probably be visible online. So for those who are interested, I will post the link when the time comes.
      I am feeling slightly guilty that I didn’t meet you, Mezz. We were so close – well, in the same country. But on different islands… Who knows, maybe another time. BTW – I’ll be touching down on your continent tonight – stop over in Brisbane. I know, I know – it’s thousands of miles away from you, but well 😀

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      • Gosh, no need to feel even slightly guilty that we didn’t meet up! We were always going to leave it to serendipity. Once I realised you had started your holiday at least a couple of weeks ahead of me, I knew it probably wasn’t meant to be, but we did come within 24 hours of meeting each other in Wellington!
        Safe travels home Guylty. 🙂

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    • It was a definite highlight for me, and even though I know that all of you have seen the photos before, it was nice for me to go through Hobbiton with my fellow fans and well-wishers at the back of my mind. There were many places in NZ – (vaguely) connected with RA – where I sort of felt the presence of you all. And that made it really nice for me. I often thought “oh, I want to show this to my RA friends”, and that kind of excitement and giddiness enhanced the trip for me. Thank you for reading 🙂

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    • :-D. Hehe, and you may regret that you are coming to stay with me, if I pull out the collected souvenirs and photo books and make you sit through them, Helen 😉

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  5. wow, zum Schluss nochmal die letzten Knallerfotos, superscharf, man hat das Gefühl den kleinen Thorin anfassen zu können und so ein klasse Wetter! Und Du willst sicher wieder nach Hause kommen?

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    • Ich könnte für immer hier bleiben, Suzy! Ich würde mich hier in einer ollen Hütte irgendwo in der Wildnis einmieten und als Fotografin aktiv werden. Oh, und meine Familie würde ich natürlich auch hier einfliegen… Mit dem Wetter haben wir ein Schweineglück gehabt. Naja, ich sags dann mal mit Crowded House: “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you”. 36 Tage insgesamt in NZ, davon 33 Sonnentage. In der Hostel trafen wir Leute, die mehr oder weniger zur selben Zeit hier angekommen waren und auch 6 Wochen hatten – aber ständig in einem Regenloch saßen. Ich dagegen bin sonnengebräunt. Gestern meinte ein Neuseeländer zu mir “You have the tan of a Kiwi”. Ich nehme das mal als Kompliment 😉

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      • Ja das war dann bestimmt auch als Kompliment gemeint! tan of a kiwi lol, ich gehe davon aus, dass er nicht die Frucht meinte 😉 Und als Fotografin hättest Du da wenigstens ein Job, die Motive gehen Dir bestimmt nicht aus 😉

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        • hehe, das mit der Kiwi-Bräune hatte ich jetzt weniger auf die Frucht oder den Vogel als auf die Neuseeländer bezogen *kicher*. Aber ja, die Kiwi-Frucht ist ja auch außen braun…
          Jou, genau deswegen wäre das Fotografieren hier auch mein bevorzugter Job 🙂

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  6. Absolutely charming! I love that the flowers and the vegetables are real, that you can have a drink in the tavern! How cool! Loved the pics from this and all your NZ posts. Thanks so much for sharing. Love living vicariously =)

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    • Charming is the word. Or twee. It’s such a cute place, and they have maintained it beautifully. I loved it all.
      Thanks for reading and commenting along, J – sharing the parts of the journey that had a (tentative) RA connection made it all the more special for me.

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  7. i love this so much!! have spend the last 20 min ooohing, ahhhhing and cooing over this post! watched videos 2x and looked longingly at the photos. It is soooo pretty! I know it is a bit silly to say it but it is just as pretty as it was on the movies 🙂 And finally a place where Pop Thorin got recognised!
    And such a beautiful day!
    I’m really really happy you finally got a picture souvenir for yourself too, if there was a place you want hard evidence you were there this is IT! 🙂
    It is amazing, i keep looking at the pictures and thinking, it is real! it exists! 🙂

    What an amazing adventure!! it’s always sad to leave such wonderful place but you have been sosososos lucky to be able to go and spend time exploring the country! 🙂
    (and i am sure Ireland will remind you soon enough of its unique beauty too ;-))
    Hugsss and a million thanks for taking us on the journey with you!
    Have a safe flight and cherish all these images, smells and feeling that will always be with you!

    PS Is that a Hobbit -Thorin mousepad??? loovee that, it is totally hot!!!! ‘rrrrrrrrr’ off on a search for one 🙂

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    • You are right – it is just as pretty as in the movie. That tells us that they didn’t need to enhance it with CGI at all. And it is just great that they have kept it up as a tourist attraction, and they are still maintaining it in all its glory.
      Pop Thorin getting recognized was really fun. As was being in a place where you could tell most of the people were appreciators of Tolkien/LotR/Hobbit/PJ. I kind of felt at home.
      And yes, I am counting my blessings. I feel very lucky indeed to have been able to come here, to see all these amazing places, to share with you guys, and to live and re-live it over and over again. The trip has confirmed that Ireland is a Mini-NZ, on a tiny scale, of course, but I think I will often think of NZ once I am back in Ireland.
      Re. Thorin photo: I initially thought it was a mouse-pad, too, but no. It’s another stamp kit.

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      • Lol I thought it was a mouse pad too and had my purse out in a flash to buy it! Still bought the stamp pack though as I hadn’t got around to acquiring one.

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      • oh i am counting on you remembering NZ often and hopefully sharing your memories with us too 🙂
        I hope they’ll keep Hobbiton going for a long long while! I hope many generations of kids but also adults with continue to love the fantasy and the films and especially for kids it must be amazing to be able to go and see the actual place and see it looking like they have seen it con screen 🙂
        oh wow on the stamp kits!!! But maybe they have more lasting value in time than ordinary mouse pads 😉

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    • Bitte gerne – und vielen Dank fürs Mitlesen. Das hat die Reise für mich auf jeden Fall schöner gemacht. Es war einfach ein schöner Gedanke, dass ihr zu Hause seid und irgendwie an meiner Reise teilhabt.

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    • Six weeks ago I set off and I thought a small eternity was in front of me. And then time flies. I am sad to leave, but at least I have the photos and memories and blog posts to remind me. Thanks for reading along 🙂

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  8. There and back again to Auckland. Thank you so much for taking us along. It was a beautiful and fun journey. And I think the Hobbit hole looks good on you. Perhaps you can make one when you get home. You can hang out there whenever you miss NZ. And you do have your heroic dwarf to keep you company and blow smoke rings together.

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    • Thanks for reading along, Kathy – as someone who has seen it all, too, I hope I have represented it truthfully.
      As for the Hobbit hole – maybe I should build one in my garden? At least a mini one… There’s an idea and a project to keep me distracted from moping 😉

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    • Thanks, Tree. I really loved bringing you all on this trip, it made it all the more special for me to look at (parts of) NZ from a RA-well wisher’s perspective. Knowing that you read and might be interested in what I had to say, enhanced the experience for me, too.

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  9. It’s been great following you around NZ. And seeing Hobbiton brought back memories. I remember it felt so surreal actually being there and seeing the party tree, the hobbit holes, Gandalf’s cut, the gardens, the gate with the party sign.
    You’ll take some wonderful memories home of a truly wonderful trip.
    Thank you for taking us along with your posts and photos.

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    • Thank you Emma!!! It*s been such fun for me to write it up for you. And the audience can be difficult because there are a good few readers who have been to NZ, too, like yourself. I hope I have given it its dues. And yes, as sad as I am at leaving, I have my souvenirs, my photos and my memories. I will live off them for a good long time 🙂
      Thanks for reading!

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    • Thank you sparkhouse. It has been fun to bring you all along – and it made the journey better for me, too. I hope I haven’t overdone it, or gloated too much. But NZ is just so beautiful, it really deserves all the praise it can get 🙂

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  10. I had so much fun reading all your posts and seeing New Zealand through your lens. This was the perfect ending! Hobbiton looks amazing. … oh, to be at the Green Dragon and hopping into a Hobbit hole! What an amazing experience. ..so thrilled you realized this dream. Safe journey home, full of your memories and memorabilia!
    Don’t ask me why, but I always imagined you as a brunette. ..it’s nice to put a face with the name!

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    • Thank you, too, chazak, for reading and commenting. As I said before – it is wonderful going on a journey and believing that someone else is interested in my experience, or at least in seeing what I am seeing. Knowing you were reading made it all extra special for me.
      Hehe, and yes, I am a (dumb) blonde – unenhanced, natural, but slightly lighter shade of blonde than usual thanks to 33 days of beating sun 😉

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    • Thank you, autoz. Time flies, eh? I can’t believe it’s over, too, and I *really* don’t look forward to leaving. Mind you, I *do* look forward to seeing my family again. Six weeks is a long time…
      BTW – touching down in Brisbane tonight for a stop over. I’ll be on your continent 😉 and I’ll think of you!

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  11. You look nice near the door with Pop Thorin. These place is so beautiful, seems not real. Strange to think that our lovely man has knocked on THIS door… Time to go back to your country but I think your memory will have some problems to store all these souvenirs you made in New Zealand.

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    • That moment in the Hobbit hole was over far too quickly 😉 But yes, it was a beautiful spot, and I wish I could have had half an hour on my own there, just sitting, enjoying the view over Hobbiton and thinking of Thorin… Thanks for reading and coming along, Katia.

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  12. Thank you SO much for sharing your journey with us!!!
    I loved to read all your posts and see the beautiful pics and I hope you had a relaxed and safe trip home!

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  13. Thank you so much for all the amazing pictures. I want to tour NZ so badly and especially go to Hobbit sites. I’m such a dork. Look forward to more updates.

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    • Hello Jo – and thanks for your lovely message. Really not tired of my gloating NZ posts? 😉 I am today beginning to transfer my 3500 photos onto my PC for editing and post-production. And there are a couple of anecdotes and things still to be said, so there may be more. But for the moment I think Armitageworld is busy with the Crucible downloads. It’s just great to see the renewed enthusiasm on Twitter and blogs. Makes me smile (and forget my sadness at having just left paradise…) xx

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  14. Playing hooky from work for a few minutes to enjoy your fun Hobbiton post Guylty. It is sort of a bummer that so many people are in your way, but on the other hand, if there were not so many fans interested in this Tolkien world, we might not have it available to enjoy either. I like your photo with Pop Thorin in the doorway and the guides photo too. Thorin’s face scratch looks appropriate too because he is an adventurous dwarf and bound to get a few scrapes along the way. 😀

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  15. Wow–I don’t think I’d want to leave. I guess they didn’t have to add much digital enhancement to the Hobbiton location scene. New Zealand is on my next travel list for sure!

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