So much to tell

Well where do I start …….

House: We are buying a house! We have been looking at houses for ages and chose one that ticked more of the boxes than any other. We then found out that there was already another offer in on it. The situation here is a different to the UK as chalk is to the board that it squeeks on. Our offer went in the ‘pot’ with very few conditions to the contract. The other people had to sell their house to become un-conditional. In the present ecconomic climate, that was going to be difficult. So we had to wait 8 working days for a clause to come into operation and then we had the phone call saying that it will be ours on the 30th May …… that’s this year …… start to finish in 3 weeks! Ths is quite normal here so why can’t it be the same in the UK? We had to hand in our notice on the rental house before we knew if we had the other one. This was far from ideal but it seems to have worked out ok.

Anyway it’s a 5 bedroom house (detatched as most are here), with a double garage. There are a total of 3 toilets which will make for an easier life with the little boys, an en-suite, walk in wardrobe and a stunning kitchen (not sure how long the images will be here for)
kitchen
There are 2 lounges so we hope for an almost toy free upper lounge. There are decks front and back, the down side is a smaller than ideal garden (terraced into 2 lawns as it’s on a hill (almost all of Auckland is on a hill …. for hill read inactive volcanic field)). Oh it also has a spa pool …. HA.
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Aidan: Aidan went to Starship Hospital (he’s been there a couple of times before for the same minor problem) on Monday and was in on Wednesday for a minor operation at Waitakere Hospital. Nothing to worry about but in a very sore area!?!? He is doing very well and has been a hero with everything from the general anesthetic to the bandage changes.

Lisa: Lisa is finishing her work at the dentist. It was always only covering maternity leave but it was convenient and with buying a house a necessity. Still she has a part-time position with one of the dentists at a different surgery. Her boss will miss the sarcastic comments.

Bike: With Lisa needing a car for work, this allowed my excuse for a motorbike to get to work (more on that in a bit). I have looked for ages at all sorts of bikes. There is some absolute crap out there selling at proper money prices. In the end I bought from a dealer … the remit was ….. it had to be capable of the ride to work with not too much effort and Lisa needed to fit it too (that was the FJ1200 out of the windo …. just a tad too heavy) and of course it had to be fun. So I bought one of these:
Bike
Mine has black wheels though and a full race system with some sort of carb kit. It made the other one I rode seem like a Vespa! For those looking confused it’s a Honda VFR400R made in 1993 and voted as one of the best handling (cornering stopping etc.) bikes produced. It’s …. er ….. fun and ….. er …. sounds good too! Insurance (UK bikers wait …..) £110 fully comp with 2 riders and breakdown cover, that’s with no no claims discount as I have not had a bike for a couple of years.

Work: I have a permanent roster position at Helensville.
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This is a rural area as you can see from the map. It’s a single crewed station, so just me then and covers one of the largest areas of a station in NZ. Today was day one for me. One job ….. three and a half hours for a mountain biker in the Woodhill Forrest. Things are going to be different for me with the need to think ‘out of the box’. It will give me time to study for further qualifications and become part of the community. Role on the next 12 months (minimum roster time allowed) or more.

Welcome home Dad! Bye Agnes ….. Hi Natsumi.

After almost 4 months in hospital my Dad finally went home (yesterday) to his lovely house in Colyton, Devon (also known as the Wet country instead of the West country). He had had a Stoke but is doing amazingly well. I was so pleased to chat to him on the phone yesterday morning. Mum has been very busy (understatement I’m sure) and has been amazing in keeping as calm as she has. The work-load has been immense for everyone and I’m just sorry that I was unable to help from the other side of the world. Roll on the next possitive step in a gradually improving story. This is one of the things that needs to be considered when moving such a long way …. what if someone is sick?

Well it has been a very changable time for as all. On Monday (10th March) we said a very sad goodbye to Agnes, our Au Pair and friend. She had simply ‘run out’ of visa time. The kids have grown up knowing her and loving her. She was sad to leave not only us but New Zealand which had become her home (in her heart). She had a safe but very long flight back to the UK. Please keep in touch via Skype or whatever.

On Wednesday (12th March) I picked up Natsumi from the airport. She has come to us from Japan and has very good English (even if she says that it is not), and has bonded with the kids. Her big test will be next week when she has a ‘full on’ week. We had a good drive around (from Mairangi Bay – our closest beach to Devonport and then dropping Aidan at kindy) which was a good 45 minutes. Natsumi was dredding this but in reality all was good.

Mairangi Bay
Mairangi Bay
Devonport
Devonport

So we have an oportunity to sample some Japanese cuisine after some great Hungarian meals.

Houses

Well I’m safe after the venture into the bush ….. Wow what a house, what a location. Ok here’s how it was …… the house in the bush is a definite no for many reasons. The lounge was the size of a bedroom, the bedrooms were smaller than the lounge and they were on 3 different levels. The only grassed outside are was about the size of the lounge and belonged to a neighbour?!? We could have considered it to be great for fitness levels as the hill that it is on is steep, even by Auckland standards. If it was wet, Torvill and Dean would have nothing on us. If you were driving down, then the splash at the bottom would be impressive but expensive.

The other house I looked at was very good. There was a good pool, a garden of good size, 3 living areas, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and fruiting vines. There was no garage (clutter hiding place …. oh and car parking space), the kitchen was old as was one of the bathrooms. These in them selves are not big problems but add to the overall cost as they needed replacing. There is an HRV system (ventilation system, quite common here and a big benefit as it reduces humidity and cools or warms depending on settings) that the rental house would greatly benefit from as there is damp here.

Today I bought the necessary stuff to give the cars a much needed oil change. The blue car (as it has been named) had one (allegedly) when I bought it over a year ago so it’s desperate. The red car has a fuller than full service history and can wait until next payday. Here’s to getting dirty (maybe tonight), now where is the fuel filter found on a Toyota Estima?

Well it’s been ages.

It has been far too long really since I took the time and effort to write something new on the blog, so here goes.

I have been on leave, not because I really wanted to, it’s the system here. You have to have 3 blocks off (a block is usually 2 day shift then 2 night shifts) together and at a time when they allocate them. I think it stinks but I seem to be in a minority of 1. I was asked by a colleague to change leave blocks (that’s allowed) and I agreed (thanks Geoff). It gave me time off when the schools are on holiday (summer hols here).

We have all been doing lots of ‘stuff’. We have been swimming in the sea and Steve’s pool (thanks mate). Connor is slightly too confident, Aidan has gained lots of confidence this summer and gets knocked over by waves, gets up and laughs (all well within his depth). Liam has had a few duckings too; he is not so happy but gets back into the thick of it soon enough. Yesterday and today we have had some bush walks that were far closer to home than we had realised.

We have started the serious look for a house. There are several reasons for this. There is the stability for all the family, the thought that paying rent is just paying someone elses mortgage for them (and it’s just gone up) and the ability to do something to the house (like hang a calender on the wall where we want it).

Houses here are far more expensive than when I first came over. The increase has been amazing. Now we are facing several problems. The money from the sale of our UK house is STILL en-route here, the exchange rate is not in our favour and we are looking just a little further north than where we are at the moment (20 mins up the road ish). We live on the North Shore of Auckland which is probably one of the most expensive areas. Just up at Whangaparaoa it meets our budget a little better. The lifestyle there is even more relaxed (we have been told). Houses are a little different too. Unlike the UK where it’s odd not to have a brick and tile house, here there are maybe 20% of those, the rest are various building materials (no mud huts yet). At the weekend we saw this house, liked it and also decided that it wasn’t for us.
House 1
Today I’m off to see this one (together with a couple of others), it will be amazing or terrible and without actually walking through the door it’s a tough call.
Amazing views

Right in the bush and about 8 mins from town

I must go …. got an appointment with a real estate agent in the bush …… if I’m not back in a while ….. HELP!

Loads of stuff

Well lots has happened since I last wrote. The all Blacks out of the Rugby World Cup followed by the Poms. Connor started school and loves it and Aidan starting kindy and enjoying it (he is shy though). So at home there are lots of changes to our days …… Connor is doing usual school day hours whilst Aidan is at kindy on 3 afternoons a week. Liam is enjoying his time alone at home too. It is a small chance not to be beaten up by his big brothers and to do what he wants and not what the others are doing. Liam is talking quite a lot in single words but mainly without the first syllable. It confusing and funny at the same time. Oots are boots, ooes are shoes but when they were getting some immunisations he was continuously saying doctor, very clearly.
We had a trip out to Muriwai with its black sand beaches and vicious tides. Great for surfing and very good fishing (so I’m told). We walked up to the Gannet colony and around a short track through some bush. The kids enjoyed playing on the climbing frame / swings / slides etc.
We went up to Mahurangi the following weekend which was good. There is a beautiful place called Sullivan’s bay which is next to Mita bay. Clear calm water, small (and large) islands and a great beach. We had an emotional time scattering the ashes of Lisa’s Mum and Dad. The boys were very good and Connor understood lots more than we had first thought as he asked lots of questions later. Connor went for a splash around in the sea as it was just warm enough, Aidan needed some encouragement and Liam jumped waves with me.
Connor at Sullivans Bay
We drove out towards the Waitakere ranges on Saturday in pursuit of a good walk (thanks Scotty for the loan of the book). We walked a track called the Auckland City Walk which, has nothing to do with a walk in the city! The track got it’s name because the city council saved the area from logging way back. The track crosses a small river twice and meanders along it’s banks through rian forrest. It was an hour of gentle ambling with the kids either hand in hand with me or Lisa. Liam took to the buggy for most of it but only really as he didn’t want to hold hands and there was a potential for impromptu swimming!?!
Lisa had a great day yesterday. She had a long lunch in which she sat her driver licence test. Just the theory like I did. She passed both the car and bike test with no problems so she is all nice and legal. That’s one more thing to tick off the list of hings to do.

Driving

Well after a year on a UK licence you become illegal and not a very nice person for breaking the rules so ….. I decided that 10 and a bit months in I should pass the NZ driving test. I bought the book, left the tee shirt on the shelf and borrowed another book (thanks mate). The first was the Road Code …. self explanitory; the second the Road Code for motorcycles. It’s as interesting as reading the Highway Code. Some things are ….. er ….. basic. Should I kick the dog that runs out in front of my motorbike? Maybe not as the owner is likely to be an Islander and 4 times my size. Do I honk the horn behind a horse? If I do I’m likely to get free manure, just not on my roses (note to self to plant roses). At the sign that says STOP do I really need more instruction?
The test has two parts a practical (if you have a pommie licence you don’t have to do this unless your licence is less than 2 years old) and a written part; that was my quest. Not to be trusted with a sharp implement like a pen, they have made it a scratch test (a bit like a gigantic instant lotto ticket that costs $87.50) with old cut up licences as the scratchers. I asked to do both the car and bike test. The nice lady told me that this was highly risky as if I failed one of them, I would get neither but, if I did one and then sat the other it was safer because if (if, HA) I passed one at least I would have one. There was a cost implication …. $87.50 twice or $123 if both taken together. $123 has a certain ring to it so I took a deep breath and elected to sit both. “I can’t give you both papers at once.” (?) “Sit there and I’ll take your photo”, “sign in the box”, look into the eyesight tester nd read” …… etc …..etc …..etc. In a separate booth to the spotty 15 year old (yep a restricted licence at 15!!!!!!) I started to scratch the answers to the questions. Then the ‘specialist’ questions (car or bike). I turn the page for the rest and the back hadn’t been printed ………… because that was it!!!!!! I handed it in like a school kid expecting a detention and took the bike test. Similar paper but with different specialist questions. Again I handed it in to be told that I was far too quick. There was 30 minutes allowed for each paper. I had taken 20 minutes for both papers. Without the need to sit and wait, I left to return by 1230. A bottle of water and a lunch pack of sushi later i returned to sign another bit of paper which is my temporary licence and await a green credit card sized licence. Job done. Your turn next Lisa.
Ugly with a licence

Tawharanui

Well we went off up to Tawharanui for a look around ….. definately somewhere to go back to when it’s not so wet and windy. It is a lovely place about 80 mins north of home. There were sheep (surprise, surprise) and cows and lots of Pukekos
pukeko
The beach at the end was deserted except for the mad surfers. Views around there are stunning with windswept hills and bays. Our day there was windy, chilly and a few spots of rain. It was still a great time having races on the beach, looking at all the shells and seeing a nice day trip for the future. It’s all part of a marine reserve so no fishing or taking anything from the beach or shoreline. In the summer people go and feed the fish by hand around goat island.
fish
family
Our day was short (picnic lunch in the car and leaving for home by 3pm) but a sunny day and we’ll be off for a full on area tour. So out of the way yet close to home.

North

Well we headed up to a town called Whangarei last weekend. It’s a big town / city by NZ terms but think of the size of Ramsgate and it would be an exageration of it’s size. You get there on SH1 (State Highway) which is the main route from the far north of the north island (Cape Reinga) to the far south of the south island (East End / Bluff). As a main route it goes through several size variation from Motorway (about 80km of it!!!!) through to single lane bridges in the far north and far south. I don’t recall any metaled surface in my travels down it in the past but it wouldn’t surprise me at it’s extremes. Anyway back to Whangarei, it’s about 1 hr and 40 mins away from home and our travels took us through the infamous Dome Valley. It’s part of SH1 that’s the size and has the bendabillity (??????) of the Wingham bends but with a worse accident record.
I decided, before we left, that Lisa was going to be inducted into life at a backpackers (hostel). I chose one from the internet and I sold the idea to Lisa. All but 1 of my previous (numerous) encounters with backpackers have been great. This time the 1 previous bad encounter was joined by another. The Whangarei falls backpackers is old and outdated. The best words to describe words it are – functional – good location – has potential. The cabin we had was very basic. It had a few 60’s – 70’s throwbacks still in sound condition so why update!?! The spa was being updated (priorities?), the pool far too cold and the trampoline had metal surround protected by padding as thin as a thin thing on an especially thin day. It was right next to the waterfalls (nice) and a stones throw to various walks and close enough to the city.
We had a walk through various bit’s of bush along tracks of different condition but mostly well marked and non-slip bridgelets. We saw Kauri trees. They are the king of the bush, huge straight and only have branches at the top. They live for ages and have decorative wood too. Some are dragged from swamps after 50,000 years (yep it’s no typo) and made into stunning …. er …. stuff.
Kauri Bowl
Tane
The walks were great with native bush and rivers, bridges and the occasional Tui.
Tui
We ended up in the city on Saturday afternoon, almost (very, very nearly) everything was shut at about 3pm! Disappointed and disillusioned we bought fish (pronounced foush) and chips (chups) and retired to our luxury abode. In the evening the boys were showered (an adventure in a separate shower block) and in bed. It left us with nowhere to go but bed (in the same room) and read books by candlelight and my phone light but things looked up when we cracked open the Jim Beam that was on special offer at the local bottle shop.
More adventures in the bushlands (A H Reid memorial park) and then we started to head home.
The journey isn’t bad and gave us inspiration for other places to go in the near future. The kids were very good and were rewarded by the much asked for Mickey D’s home of the slime burger followed by the lovely ice cream of Orewa. A Kiddie cone (about the size and quality from Morrelis) costs just over 50p and an adult cone is almost a meal, which means that the twin cones are pudding as well?!?

Wet

We have all had an er …. interesting time?! Last Saturday night whilst we were all sleeping, a mysterious thing happened; we had a flood. Not of inspiration or from the nearby stream but from the inlet hose to the dishwasher. It must have started some time after I got home from a 10 – 10 shift (with a late finish from Western station). The dishwasher was on and going well, nothing unusual and I went to bed. In the morning we were woken by about 3 -4cm of water over the top of the carpet. For once there was more water in the house than outside! The kids splashed around and played as we franticly turned water off and started sweeping water into dustpans and into buckets. After my failed attempt to suck it up with a the carpet cleaner (there was too much water) many hours of many people helping and getting nowhere; we gave up.
I had left many messages with the rental agent and heard nothing back. We even went to the office but as it was now Sunday, there was no-one in the office.
A pleading phone call later and we had accommodation for a couple of nights with our NZ family Peter & Margaret (HUGE thanks). The rental guy was contacted first thing on Monday, he was …. er …. impressed. Within 90 mins there was the dishwasher man (don’t trust his judgement ….. he’s been out about 5 times to fix a dishwasher that is at least 6 years old …. probably older. It would have been cheaper to buy a new one but then he wouldn’t have his call-out fees but it’s all down to the rental agent), and the carpet guy.
Carpet was amazingly going to be cleaned and dried so surface water was sucked up, it was cut into room-sized pieces (previously all one piece!) and put in his van. The underlay is foam, for foam read sponge. This too was dried. It was funny seeing water pouring out of his van after the cabs foot-well had filled up. It’s all currently dry and in the garage waiting to be refitted (tomorrow).
We had to move out. There were 6 industrial fans. They were like upside down old fashioned hair dryers on steroids and several de-humidifiers.
powerblo
After 5 days and no doubt a huge power bill the fans went off, dehumidifiers off and silence was golden. That is until you walked on the bare chip-board floor. Still at least it was dry (almost) and most of the smell had gone … oh and they didn’t have to replace the walls!!!!
We stayed in a Motel in Albany whilst things were happening.
motel
It would have been great for a couple but with the kids it was awkward. There was a bedroom with a bathroom off it and a kitchenette / diner / lounge, with a pull out double bed and a single bed. The older two slept well in the pull out, Liam slept in our bedroom leaving the bathroom as the only place that you could light. We worked it all out and life was better when they were all asleep and Liam magically moved to be in his brothers room. It wasn’t a child friendly place; the boys could just open the front door, play with the oven (it goes “ping” when it’s finished) and climb on the glass topped tables. As soon as we could we returned home. Bliss is the safety of rooms with gripper rod around, staples sticking out of the floor and no carpet.
“Manicmedic перехода к Новой Зеландии . Я желаю вам великий день и я надеюсь, что вам понравится мой блог.” Just trying to get some hits from Russia as there’s a gap in the map.