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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Today I bought some Tamarillos which could be interesting.
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.
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!
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.
Well Lisa has a job. It’s just along the road (ish), 20 min walk. We all walked Lisa to work the other morning almost making her late. It was a very warm morning like a summer morning in the UK but the day turned showery once the washing was on the line. She is a dental nurse and although it’s not what she is used to it is bringing in some more money.
The next problem is that of child care again. With Lisa at work (full-time) we need someone to look after the rug rats. It’s as much a mine field here as the UK if not more so. We have had contact with someone who I’ll meet on Monday. It is a problem trying to find someone to fit in with the odd days that I do (4 on 4 off, meaning that the days required to childcare alter every week). Lisa’s hours are changeable to say the least. She checks what she is working for the next day, it can’t be right but having been there a week she can’t exactly tell them what to do ….. yet.
I went looking at schools with the kids. Albany primary has a very good ERO report (OFSTED) achieving the highest ranking and we are in their ‘patch’. Connor needs a different visa (student) and he is in on his 5th birthday. Next door is a kind but they are restricted to 45 maximum so we’ll have to wait. It sounds like Aidan will have to live with Connor going 1st and then he can fit in later. He will be completely devastated. Those two are far closer than they were in the UK (if that is possible). Connor won’t be in kindy long as he is 5 in October. Aidan might be able to take his position there, who knows. We are entitled to the low fees that locals pay (which is good as we couldn’t afford to pay more …. we are truly skint). Well that’s what the immigration person told me. Schools are not free but a donation; kindy is $3.00 a session (about £1.10).
When I’ve been here a year it will be well worth getting PR visa (permanent residency). As it stands we are entitled to nothing. I went to the GP this week (don’t worry nothing serious) and it cost $70 (£25). This when your skint is a lot of money. It has its benefits that the surgery isn’t full of coughs and colds but proper stuff. When we get PR then it will be about $46 (£16). It all sounds a bit silly when you convert it to pounds but when you’re earning Kiwi Dollars it’s tough, far tougher than we thought.
Still it’s warm and quite dry, during the day it probably averages 16C, sometimes getting to 20C but chilly at night. It’s about the equivalent of November so all is good there. The simple pleasures of having no coughs or colds and not having to dry clothes inside / dryer. What’s happening to me …… I’m getting old or stupid or both ….. or is it just sensible. I need a bike again!