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 The Whangarei falls backpackers is old and outdated.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.

Lisa and computer update …..

Lisa is back and well and back earning some cash already. Her flight was on time and was just as bad as the trip out. Still nothing on the house! Anyone want to buy it …. look Here?
Well that computer that I bought for the kids has been great. The seller came round and gave me the money back for the computer but didn’t want it back. She was only going to dump it anyway and decided to see if she could get something for it on trademe. So the boys have got a computer costing nothing. It is so slow! The only expense has been traveling to Army Bay and back and I am buying a set of speakers and a subwoofer for it (as it has none) from trademe for just over $10 new! Trademe …. love it! Try a little game ….. what is the most ‘Kiwi’ thing (or the most strange) that you can find? THIS is my best effort so far

Heat, Hair, Big Cock (pea), Mint Sauce and Computers

Just a few silly little things.
It is sometimes quite hot in winter (mostly cold though) but some days are extreme as this sign from Northcote says!
Hot!
Liams hair with thanks to Dyson.
Dude
Peacock at Shakespear Regional Park, Agnes got some fully fanned out shots.
Peacock
Lovely little mint sauce catchers at Shakespear Regional Park.
Mint Sauce Catchers

We went today to pick up a computer for the kids. It was on Trademe (a Kiwi version of Ebay). It was an absolute bargain …. whole package for 56 bucks (£25 give or take). specs as follows:
CPU Speed: 2 GHz
Memory: 512 MB
Hard drive: 1 GB
CD / DVD: CD reader
Monitor: CRT monitor
Computer for sale, includes hard drive, monitor, keyboard & mouse. Old system but does have windows xp. Will be excellent for beginners.

Pretty good except the Hard Drive we thought. The kids were SO excited. I was fed up of them smashing my computer and colouring in on the LCD screen! I got it set up immediately so the kids would settle …… reality strikes!

It was old but the contents of the box were too old.
CPU Speed: 200Mhz!
Memory: 64 MB
Hard drive: 3 GB
CD / DVD: CD reader
Monitor: CRT monitor
Running Windows ME but with Office XP …. it is slow and not as described ….. waiting for a return phone call …. kids gutted!
It wasn’t all bad. We bought it from a place that is almost at the end of the Whangparaoa (Fung-ar-par-rower) peninsula. Right at the end is Shakespear Regional Park which is lovely. We all walked along the beach collecting shells. Distant views of the city but as far from it as you can imagine in attitude (can a place have an attitude?).

Weather and stuff

Well a few days have passed and the weather has changed from stormy and cold to very warm still and dry (I hope it stays). The temperature has gone up to about 18C during the day …. Hmmmm lovely. I think that it will be a cold night as the sky is so clear.Yesterday after Connors kindy we went for a walk along the sea wall from Mairangi Bay
Mairangi Bay
to Murrays Bay.
Murrays Bay
There was a little storm damage at the Murrays Bay end. I decided to take the pram with us in case Liam needed it. He didn’t and I ended up dragging it all the way whilst holding Liams hand and the others too when things got a little difficult. The walk is easy for adults and for Connor and Aidan it too was easy but Liam did very well. As always the views were lovely.

Just a couple of typical / classic Kiwi tee shirts:
Tee 1
Tee 2

CBD

Well yesterday was busy, we all went to the CBD (Central Business District) or what makes more sense … the City. We set off from home not so bright (Liam had been awake quite a few times) and not so early for the town of Devonport. Devonport has 2 great things (many nice things too); it’s the home of the NZRN (Navy) and the ferry (pronounced fairy) to the city. We dashed to the boat without a ticket jumped aboard and we were relieved to find out that the chilled out kiwis allow you to buy a ticket once you have got off. We headed off past what I can only imagine is most of the NZRN fleet (see picture) and into the city.
Navy
Our main aim was to go up the We alighted (do you like that …. using posh words) the ferry and got on the free bus that tours the city every 10 mins. It takes a detour past the University but that’s no hardship, then stops outside the Skytower.
We were just in time to see some Muppet jump from the top. Don’t worry it’s an organised thing, not a suicide attempt.
Skyjump
Then up we went in the glass floored lift, quite freeky for some. The views are amazing on a clear day like ours. The boys and I watched a clown show as Agnes explored (it’s half term so there are lots of kiddie events going on). Then up to the Skydeck (next stop and $3 lighter ……. less crowded and higher by about 9 floors). Soon we quickly descended (but not as fast as the freek who jumped) and off for lunch.
The choice of food in Auckland is amazing. We often have some Asian food (like today) but there is a huge choice. The kids love it. Last time it was Korean (no not dog ….. or cat) and this time Cantonese. 5 of us eating our fill for $18 (just under £7 or just over US$14) and that is on Queen Street (the main drag through the city). It’s about as busy as Canterbury High Street on a weekday during school term (so not very busy …. until evening, then Sky City is busy, the boy racers come out but the rest is quiet).
After getting told off for eating popcorn (thanks Skytower for the freebie) in a souvenir shop we hopped back on the ferry and back home. In a week or so of really crap weather, this was the start of hopefully some great days. Shame Connor starts Kindy full-time on Monday.

Rotorua

Well we decided in Lisa’s absence to use my holiday for a bit of exploring for the kids and Agnes. We went to Rotorua for some culture. I had booked us all into a backpackers in the city called Treks. It was excellent, clean, tidy and it had everything that you needed. It was a new experience for everyone except me. The boys were VERY excited and had their little penguin ‘suitcases’ packed and ready. After checking in we headed off to Te Puia a haven for Maori tradition. It is very commercial but very good all the same. It is located in amongst a geothermal park so, it is amazing to be in the steam, sights and sounds of the park and incredibly smelly. The city smells of eggs! Anyone who has been will know this. Anyone who hasn’t can’t imagine the smell for what it is. It’s a mix of various chemicals but the main one is sulphur. The photos will come soon but smellynet is still in the making. There was lots to see (and smell), the geysers, the mud pools, the waka (war canoe), the carving, the weaving when Connor, Aidan and Liam got little gifts of flax bowls and the performance.
It all started with the welcome and laying of a fern leaf for our ‘chief’ to accept and then on to the ladies welcoming us with song into the Marae (Maori meeting house). Songs and dancing were …. er sung and danced. and it was a good fun experience. Little video clips (from my camera … poor quality) are juddery as Aidan was on my lap.
Back at the Backpackers the boys soon caused some havoc. They went to bed all well and with the baby monitors that I took, I could hear them as I cooked Agnes and myself some dinner. Then Connor arrived in the kitchen (different building), back he went and then he did it again, this time Aidan was out too but in the completely wrong direction. Nothing for it ….. 7pm I was in bed so that there were no more escapes.
The next morning after an interesting breakfast we went to Wai O Tapu We watched the big geyser go off, it was big but to be honest not as impressive as those of yesterday. We drove back to the start of the tracks (of which there are 3 linked together) and headed off on the first and easiest (red) which took us past some really stinky, steamy holes in the ground. Through some lakes (literally) and to a point meeting the next track (orange). We decided to go on with that with Liam now in the pram and found quite a few steps but we were rewarded by some great views and more smell. The colours of these lakes and pools are fair to WOW! We met the join of the third walk and even though the sign was off putting, the ticket lady said that with a bit of lifting we should be fine, and we were. The end of the track is a little steamy waterfall and a huge very green lake. We ate lunch and returned via different tracks. The guide map says that the three tracks should take 75 minutes, with 2 little walkers and a buggy we did well (not times but a good 2 hours). I was impressed that Connor and Aidan managed it all without a fuss but with an occasional …. “Errrr Goooey”.
As the weather forecast said that things were going to turn colder and rainy in the land of the smelly egg (pronounced smully iig) we decided to come home. The boys constantly asking if Mummy was going to be at home and if they could go back to the backpackers. It was a hit, hard work but a hit. Roll on the next big adventure

All change

Well we have had an odd time of it lately, some good some (in my opinion) bad and maybe good. I had a swollen tonsil and then ended up losing my voice, now returning slowly and with the occasional Michael Jackson moment.
We have our friend Agnes (not an ancient scottish spinster but a Hungarian) over to stay for a while, hopefully for a while as she is great with the kids. I picked Agnes up from the airport a few days ago and she seems to really like it here. It has rained lots since she arrived but it hasn’t put her off saying how beautiful this land is.
Yesterday, bright and early (well early) I dropped Lisa off at the airport for her big trip back to the UK. I don’t like the idea but I can’t stop her and it will be good for her to see the little family that she has and her friends. She has 3 brothers, 2 are very supportive and the other goes AWOL from time to time (Andy give us a call, text, email or leave a comment on here if you see it please). Lisa has never been on a flight alone so she’ll need hugs on landing. She had the kids her last time coming over here which in her words ‘took my mind off things’. She was nervous, maybe even ‘brown’ nervous. To make things a little cheaper and give better availability she went from Auckland to Brisbane before going to Dubai and then on to London. It takes longer but this way she will actually get longer in England as they (Royal Brunei) had the days that Lisa wanted to fly.
Yesterday was a great morning and when I got home, to take my mind off things we all went west to the Waitakere ranges.
Waitakere Ranges
It was a comedy of errors. I packed us all up with a picnic, drove to Cornwallis to sit and eat it there but, The picnic was in the kitchen at home still! The nearest place to Cornwallis for food is Huia and that is a tiny village shop (the only shop). It does serve fast food but as it had started to rain (New Zealand style …. heavy) it was heaving. Imagine a Vicar of Dibley village without the church and half of the houses and that would be bigger than Huia. But it is beautiful. Well we went off back to Titirangi and bought buns and chips and sausage rolls (Cornish pasty style?!?!) and gingerbread men. The weather cleared up and we headed off up the scenic drive. The sun was shining and everything was getting better when ….. it got worse again, much worse. The inside of the visitor centre at Arataki was looking very welcoming. Warm dry and after the usual 5 wee stops we were off again, back home for a picnic on the lounge floor.
This morning we all went shopping which is always a bundle of fun. Agnes is amazed and curious about some of the new and unusual fruit and veg. She had a late Feijoa when she arrived past it’s best but a good encounter.
Feijoa
Today I bought some Tamarillos which could be interesting.
tamarillo
These were new and very unusual to me, so passing on the experience is making me feel almost a Kiwi (no not the Kiwifruit or the Kiwi bird) but a New Zealander. Any surgestions for further fruit to try are welcome.
Hurry Home Lisa x.

Winter weather / Accent

Well the weather here is chilly. It is officially winter (June to August …. all ass about here), the temperature is good during the day and chilly in the evenings. Some of the chilliness (is that a word?) is due to the housing. With no double glazing or central heating it is a big, no BIG step backwards. There is condensation on the windows in the morning after going to bed to stay warm. So with the weather much warmer than the UK winter it feels colder at times (evening and morning).

Bizarrely I can still expect the washing to dry on the line if it doesn’t rain. The rain is generally a shower but sometimes a heavy one. It lasts for minutes or hours not days. I’ve been told that spring is the wet season here and winter is quite dry …… our first year here is a huge learning curve with simple things like weather and ‘the system’ (how the country runs).

Lisa is settling more at work and getting more familiar with the people and procedures at work. It’s all good experience. One of the problems that she has found is the language barrier (accent)! Not only is she getting used to familiar works sounding different but her peers are usually talking from behind a face mask (she’s a dental nurse if you missed it).

There are words like minute that sound like munut, chips are chups, they go with foush. A big grizzly is a beer and yet you still you drink a beer. I have some shifts not out West but Wist, chickens lay an ig or two which you can wusk for an omlette, you write with a pin probably seated on a cheer. Try this for a Maori accent, great old sketch:

It’s not quite as agressive as this though …. note the last action! I just had to add these even though it doesn’t come under winter weather or accents!
But don’t let them play against the neighbours, they can do it too!

Dolphins

Well it’s definately getting colder. It sounds obvious but the seasons being the other way around from the top half of the world means as you guys are warming, we are cooling. It is roughly the equivalent of December here (?!?!?!) if that makes sense. The days are warm ish, tee shirt, sometimes a jumper and showery. If the nights are cloudy (like now) it’s about 10C but if they are clear it’s very chilly 2-3C!

I had a day shift a couple of days ago and it was a chilly start. We went up to Point Wells, see it HERE where we treated in house and then went north east (not directly) to Leigh. It is a long way (by UK standards to a P1 (999 call). En-route the views were amazing. Tree tops and mountains (low ones) poking out from a low mist, even a small island just in the sea surrounded by a different kind of moisture. At Point Wells the estury was so calm it was just like a mirror reflecting the tree lined hills, not a sound. leigh is at the end of the road and tranquil. The round trip is about 3 hours from Silverdale to Leigh, to takapuna (the hospital) and back to Silverdale. This is not Thanet at the end of a shift with a drunk!

Later the same day we were clear on a job in Orewa (just down the road from the station) and traveling back along the long beachfront when I spotted something in the water. At first I thought that it was a kitesurfer down in the water but there was no wind at all. We stopped and saw that it was a pod of dolphins in the bay. They were having a feed rouning the fish up and then diving up and down through the ball of fish. Amazing how they can jump clear of the water with no real effort. It was an amazing sight.

I have some photos (not of the dolphins) that I must upload so that you can see them but as yet I have not had time to re-size them for the net. Have to go … got a shout.