Back in the UK during the winter, if you drive about for a day without water in your wiper jets your windscreen gets coated in a thick layer of grime.
Over here I don’t even need to think about topping up because I can pretty much always see through the glass.
I’ve realised this is because I’m rarely stuck behind some horrible 18-wheeler truck spraying dirt on a grim four-lane congested motorway – there are in fact no real motorways at all here and hardly any traffic.
Queenstown is, for the most part, a heavenly bubble.
Let’s face it, there’s hardly any real crime – okay so there are drunks, a bit of shoplifting, and some drugs, but not real horrific crime, not rape and hammer murders, gang shootings and stabbings.
There’s no real poverty, certainly not any homeless people on the streets.
And then there’s the place itself – beautiful obviously, with sharp snow-capped mountains and lakes, clean streets and even, for summers, a beach.
It’s safe, there are a billion outdoor adventure activities to do, there’s always an excitable buzz around town, and it’s a great place to live and raise kids. You get the feeling if there was ever a zombie apocalypse we’d be, you know, ok.
Thing is – I’ve just returned from a whirlwind month in the UK, getting married, and now, like many of Queenstown’s expat residents, face the difficult decision of whether to start a family here and stay for good or head home. I was, of course, assured kids were not on the immediate agenda before the marriage, but then my wife, as I was signing the register, said: “Our kids will probably be left-handed” (the ink was actually not dry).
England was good fun this time around. I went back for three months last year, landed as the riots were kicking off and London was burning, and couldn’t wait to get back here.
But this time, it was great.
Obviously getting married we saw all our family and friends, who were forced to be ultra-nice to us because it was our big day. “When are you coming home?” was the main question of the day.
It’s made us both realise what a big, supportive and warm family and friendship network we have. People are getting older and also better with age. I went for a run and saw this guy coming the other way running and pushing a pushchair at the same time. I thought ‘he’s committed’ before realising it was one of my mates. A borderline alcoholic in university, he’s now doing triathlons and has a second child on the way.
My two best men I’ve known since I was five years old and in Chester, where I’m from, we’ve about 15 friends all with young families. Then there are, of course, our families themselves who are keen for us to come home.
England itself even seemed a bit more united. The Olympics yes, the Jubilee as well (even Marmite has changed its name over there to Ma’amite), but also united because there’s a God awful Tory government to hate and the England football team are now officially shit, which everyone secretly enjoys.
So that’s the decision – live in one of the most amazing places in the world, surrounded by friendly positive Kiwis, and start and end every annual holiday with a 36-hour flight back to the UK.
Or head home for good, to friends and family, but also the droning 90mph bumper-to-bumper two-hour motorway commute, to dirty windscreens, back to recession, crime, social exclusion, binge drinking, riots, paedophile hysteria, tosser Tories, bankers, stress, wet summers …
I think we’ll stay at least one more year, just one more. I’ve not even been jetboating yet.