Posted on Friday 16 July 2010 at 07:17 - 3 Comments - Link
As T's pregnancy carries on towards it's inevitable conclusion, we were keen to get away from it all for a few days on a little babymoon. They're the new in thing for pregnant couples, didn't you know? Well neither did I till Ton started talking about Fiji or Rarotonga. I had a swift look at the finances and said that Greymouth would be more like it (google it!). It's cheap there as it's the arse of NZ (although my in-laws, twisted people that they are, seem to love it there. They even went on a summer holiday camping trip to the West Coast last year. To put this in perspective, the West Coast gets over 2m of rain a year. Yes - 2 metres! They always have been a bit touched though) however that was swiftly vetoed by the missus. A bit of pondering and we settled on a place we both love - good old Kaikoura. So I squared a few days off with work, and last Friday we headed up there for a long weekend. It was great - 4 days of rest, relaxation, hot spas, reading, playing games, walks on the beach and through the town, a spot of shopping, and a bit of one-with-nature-ness. It was just the ticket, and even the sun shone like crazy. Lovely. Oh, and I didn't cut my finger off this time either - result!
View from the room:
We stopped off at a little coffee place, and got chatting to the barrista, who asked if we'd been to see the baby seals. Well we've seen seals all over the place, but apparently these were *the* baby seals, in a freshwater pool at the bottom of a waterfall. Feeling that an expedition was just the ticket we got directions and headed off. Man was it worth it! A 5 minute walk up a track revealed a whole creche of 40 odd fur seal pups, all playing around in this pool under a waterfall. It was seriously bizarre! When we arrived it was just us, and the wee pups were happy to come right up and sniff us. Amazing stuff. We got some video and pics, so here's some to share:
I tell ya, you want seals? NZ has seals!
I could bore you with 100's of additional pics, but that'll do for now. It goes without saying that we had a great time.
The sofa saga
A while ago, we decided that it had been long enough that we'd been living on $100 trade me (think ebay for non-NZers) sofa sets. In saying that, the current one was free, but those who've seen it will know that it ain't all that. In fact, it was NEVER all that, but hey - free's free right?! So, with the house refurb, and the 2 incomes, and the joyful loveliness of my wife whispering in my ear for 3 years that a new sofa is needed, we finally bit the bullet and ordered one. And not just ANY sofa! Oh no! This would be bespoke, made to our oddly shaped lounge. It would be the right size and shape, be comfy, big and above all, it would fit. We ordered, 12 weeks passed, it arrived, it was delievered, it didn't fit. And I don't mean in the room. Not at all, this bad boy didn't even fit through the front door! When we ordered it, we figured the clever types that make them would think that a 3.8 metre, 4 seater unit would be a little too much for any house, and that they'd add the extra seat onto the adjoining corner section. It appears not.
Anyway, after some angst, anger, and a bit of negotiation, our supplier has agreed to re-make it in a format that will actually fit into our house. Admittedly, they have been pretty good about this, and so another 12 week wait is do-able so long as we finally get something that fits in the door. What a drama though. Gotta love life!
Otherwise, there's plenty to look forward to, The house overall is coming on a treat with the new curtains looking ace, and the new fire earning its keep every single time we use it. Toni's mum arrives on Sunday and that will be a great day, as we've missed her and it'll be great to have her Frenchness around for the next few weeks. Oh, and the days are getting longer, with Spring not too far around the corner. Have I mentioned that I love Spring?
Yumyumbubbleblegum, as a friend of mine is wont to say.
Finally, thanks to those who express appreciation for the blog. It may not be much to you, but means a lot to us. You know who you are, you freaky cyberspace people you :)
A lovely Winters day
Posted on Sunday 4 July 2010 at 07:23 - 0 Comments - Link
Today has been a stunning display of Winter in Christchurch. Minus 3 overnight, heavy frost this morning, and all round crisp and cold and wintery. I was walking with my nephews to the swimming pool and we were all rugged up with jumpers and jackets and hats etc. We come out of the pool, the sun comes up and within 5 minutes the coats and jumpers are off, the frost has melted in the sunlight and we have a beautiful clear day. Love it! The mountains have had a real decent lump of snow over the last couple of weeks and on a day like today were shown off to their best. It was perfect skiing conditions to so I imagine some of my workmates will've had a great time up there as they're real snow-bunnies.
Back home, the renovations of last year have really done the trick as our house is now - thankfully - nice and warm so it seems that all that hard work, effort and of course $$$'s has not been a waste of time. Phew! The fire I was bitching about earlier has finally been installed, and all being well we should have the council sign it off tomorrow and we'll all be nice and legal. On reading their building consent we're not meant to have used it but with the 2 week wait to get the inspection and regular frosts we've said 'sod that' and have just got on with it. If they don't like it, they can quite frankly lump it. The house is still a work in progress. The main stuff is done but the woodwork is an ongoing project of one room a month or so. I am swiftly becoming sick of the sight of a paintbrush but will just have suck it up and keep on keeping on cos it ain't going to do itself. It does seem that for every job we complete another 2 crop up but ain't that the way?
Ton's coming on well with the baby - growing nicely and all seems good on that front. She's not gone mental on any cravings, apart from a bit more of the usual and a particular fondness for Twix's. Or is that Twixii? Or Twixes? Anyway, nothing to worry about and lots to look forward to. Ace.
..and there's more...
Posted on Saturday 19 June 2010 at 01:37 - 3 Comments - Link
You thought I'd just forgotten all about blogging didn't you? Well today I have decided to be a little more active in sharing than I have over the past 12 months. So here goes for the latest Great Gallumphings installment.
So the big news first. Rapidly on the back of getting her job, T is pregnant. I kid you not - I am going to be a dad, and T is going to be a mum. Excited? You had better be!!! In a far too much information kind of way, I was looking forward to a good 6 months of 'practice' before the amazing event occurred, however it seemed that destiny had other plans and the first attempt yealded immediate results! Of course, I am overwhelmed with happiness.
But another 3 months would have been even better yeah?!
So, big news a-side, the UK trip was predicably brilliant. Saw family, friends, drank lots, ate lots, and it was all-over a fantastic way to spend 4 weeks. Apart from one thing...
...that bloody Icelandic Volcano!!!!
Why they cannot keep it on a leash I don't know, but that bugger cost us 1 week's wages each plus an additional week in blighty. 'Fun and games for you - no more work for a week!!' you might think. Well, yes - of course you would - but then you full-timers will know that unpaid leave is an expensive mistress and we had to pay the price for our extended stay. In addition, we landed ourselves on some quite marvellously tolerant friends who would not say they detested us if their lives depended on it. So overall, we survived - a little poorer but emotionally much richer for the experience.
Back to Christchurch and it appears that we had missed 4 weeks of quite marvellous late autumn weather. NZ showed this to us by shitting it down for the subsequent 2 weeks, resulting in a miserable Wiz'n'Ton due to a leaking lounge roof.
Still, every cloud right? We decided that our silver lining would be to order a brand new lounge suite on which the leaky roof could drip - carpet really not being de rigeur for a leaky roof in our neck of the woods. Nice woolen lining and a sponge filler is much more 'up with the joneses'. Only it will be another few weeks yet till it arrives. Guess the carpet will just have to do till then.
To add to the fun, Environment Canterbury (the nice folks that decide who pollutes - oh, I mean *uses* our water - and who like to regulate various other environmental things) insisted that this year would be the year of the 'rip off local folks who happen to heat their home with an old wood burner' and decided they would change the rules on aforementioned woodburners. Anything 16yrs old or more had to go, and only brand new 'ECan approved' fires could replace them.
Well, I could bore you shitless with the palava we have gone through to completely avoid any help - financial or otherwise - supposedly offered by Ecan to get our previously adequate fire replaced by a seemingly identical one only it is 'approved', but believe me - $4000 can equate to an awfully long diatribe so let's just summarise with 'I'm not chuffed'. It'll probably allow this blog to get past your office/ computer/ network's sweary filters too ;)
Apart from the future baby, I have made some achievements of my own. Amazing,I know! On returning from our trip to the UK, I had gained 5kgs in weight and decided that a great way to shift it would be to run the marathon in Christchurch in only 7 weeks time.
I hadn't run in close to a year. Marathon training websites will tell you that you need 3 months minimum to train for a marathon. Well I showed them that 7 weeks of Bloody Minded me is enough to get you through 42 and a bit kilometres of pain in under 4 hours, Chuffed? Me? You betcha!
My sister said to me after this feat 'Andy, look what you can achieve if you put your mind to it!'. Maybe I should start doing that. You know, stop floating and start putting my mind to things. Who knows what I can achieve...
Foundations to build on
Posted on Friday 12 March 2010 at 09:10 - 0 Comments - Link
Blimey it's been a while. And I always write that when I begin an entry. Probably as posts have gone fron 1 a week to 2 a year! Still, what can I say? NZ life has left me less time sitting at a PC, and more time out there living it!
So, what brings me back to the good old blog? Well, the primary reason is entirely self servicing, and that's to share the news with all and sundry that after 3 years and close to 2 months of living in NZ, my stunning wife has just been offered - and has accepted - a permanent teaching job!
So HOOOO-FREAKIN'-RAH! My goodness she's earnt it, as I don't think I've seen anyone recover from so many let downs and knock backs to keep on battling and finally have someone recognise her for what she is, and that's a bloody good teacher.
In between my last post and her getting a job, we've toured NZ for a Christmas holiday, I've got into spearfishing in such a big way that Ton is getting a little worried, however friends and neighbours are loving the fish and lobster that comes their way! My job had been up and down, but seems to be back on the upswing with some recent successes, and - best of all - we soon head off to the UK for nice long holiday to go and catch up with the Whanau and missed but not forgotten friends. Over 3 years since I was last there. Sometimes it seems longer, but most of the time I can't believe that 3 years could ever pass so quickly.
One thing emigration teaches you, and that is discovering the inner strength that you always knew was there inside you, bit was never actually called on. Emigration pulls that right to the surface, and I know that between Toni and I, drawing on that has both made us stronger as individuals and as a couple. We have both achieved things we'd never have previously thought possible, and despite the ups and downs - right now is one of those rare moments that I can say I wouldn't change a thing. That might have something to do with the 2 glasses of Sav in me right now, but least said about that the better, eh?
I love Wilber Smith books. Have since I was about 15 or so and first read 'When a Lion Feeds'. There's a great line in one of Wilbers books that talks about life as a river, with wild-ride rapids followed by periods of lowland calm. In the same way I really feel that for us, this could well be the moment when a final set of rapids has been conquered, and a long period of calm is ahead. Sure, there'll be floods and the like in the future, but right now a period of settled weather is just what is required for the next few years.
Wow - the future really does await! 2 solid incomes means good bye to credit card debt, good bye to no savings, good bye to living on the edgeof solvency every month! Hello peace of mind! Hello forward planning! Hello the future!
I'd like you now to lift your glasses and raise a toast to say 'Congratulations Toni - my wonderful, beautiful, and deserving wife'.
Visitors, work, house and stuff
Posted on Sunday 8 November 2009 at 05:07 - 0 Comments - Link
It is so wierd having fireworks night when it is 15 degres outside. The first year we went to Brighton Beach where they launch a great public show from the pier. That year it was just like the UK - a stiff breeze, about 3 degrees (or so it felt) and driving rain! This year was a completely different story - a lovely sunny day was followed by a still evening which meant the warmth was held around the city. We headed up to a friends house on the hills, let some fireworks off there, and watched the Brighton show which was as impressive as ever. The only diff is that here in NZ air rockets are banned, so there are no 30 quid missiles to fire into your neighbours back yard. Which is a shame ;)
Since I ran the 1/2 marathon I've been lax - no training and lots of eating (all in spite of Toni's amazing weight loss efforts - I have severely failed in the role of supportive husband!) has meant that my fitness has nosedived. In spite of this, my mate Brent decided midweek last week that he and I should do the 'BlokesTri' series (www.blokestri.co.nz) which I did last year. So with no running behind me I dug out the runners on Thursday and went for a jog. Well it nearly bloody killed me, and so I tried again on Friday. That went slightly better, but I was still gasping when I finished that one. The Tri itself was this morning, and I was a little dubious on how I would do. Still, come the race I put in a good effort and completed the 200m swim, 15km cycle and 4km run in a smidge under 1hr and 4 minutes. A good 20 minutes (!!!!!) behind the winner, but I didn't die or cough up a lung so my fitness is still there lurking which is good news. The next is mid December and so rest assured I'll be doing a few training k's between now and then.
Toni's high value is still being recognised at her current teaching placement. She was originally offered a 2.5 days a week contract with the school thru till Christmas, however this has now been made a full 5 day week which is great for both Toni's involvement with the school (she is now teaching choir, in addition to the usual day to day) and our income. Woo hoo! There are murmers of permanent roles being made vailable for next year, and T has firmly got her eyes on one of those prizes, however we've been here before so will take it as it comes all the while keeping out fingers crossed.
My work is improving as things take a turn up economy-wise, plus we always get busier towards Christmas. As the world stops turning in NZ over the festive season, everyone wants to get their orders filled and wok done before knocking off on December 24th, many not to return untill the 19th of Jan. Nice! Shame it's not like that in the UK for you lot eh? ;)
We have just kicked out old buddies Andy & Christie out after they came up from Dunedin to stay with us for the weekend. We've had a great - and very relaxing - time. Went to the beach on Saturday, followed with some Christmas shopping in town to get a head start on gifts to send to family in the UK. The afternoon was great - relaxing in the garden, sun bathing, and then having a great feed of lasagne before heading out to a couple of parties to watch more fireworks and eat / drink far too much. It's been great seeing them both - this house is made for visitors and we look forward to maybe seeing them again over Christmas.
Bless little Oscar. He is the sweetest cat, and this must come across when he is fronting up to other cats in the area. A few weeks ago he got his arse well and trul kicked, and has been healing from a number of nasty bites and scratches. Just as he is starting to come right from them, he now seems to have some other sickness which has put him off his food and drinking way more than he used to. We're going to give him some anti-biotics, and if he's still not right come Tuesday then it's off to get
Get well soon Oscs!
Thechooks are going great guns, with us having between 2 and 3 fresh eggs (or should that be iggs? ;) every day. They do seem to be getting a little bored in their enclosure though so if anyone has any chicken enrichment ideas then I am all ears.
Whilst we are on the subject of self-sustinence, the veg patch has been relaunched this spring. It has beans, peas, beetroot, radish, cabbage and tomatoes in there so far, with room for some corgettes and possibly chillis still to go. I continue to follow in my old man's footsteps in this - I find growing and eating my own veggies almost as satisfying and catching and eating my own fish. The cauliflowers planted over Winter have just been harvested and they taste brilliant. We have put so many tomato plants in that if even 1/2 bear fruit then we will have them coming out of our ears. A great opportunity to knock up our own sauces etc - and I am looking forward to it!
I don't know if this is something that's covered in the UK, but Movember is proving to be a winner each year here in NZ & Aussie. Each November, blokes raise money and awareness for The Cancer Society and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. The idea is that you start the month clean shaven, and then throughout Movember, you cultivate your mo(ustache) into a truly awesome sight for all to behold.
My slight issue is that I have never had to shave more than about once a week, and there is a large question mark over whether my upper lip can support anything more than an embarrasment! To keep a track on progress, and donate to this cause (PLEASE - I am currently on a feeble $0!), visit my Mo page: www.nz.movember.com/mospace/380246/
Otherwise, that's about it from us really. I got up to Kaikoura for a spear fish a few weeks ago and got a decent haul. We've just eaten some fish, a cray, and a paua for lunch today and it was very tasty.