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.

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?).