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Archive for July, 2009

End of Week 3

So what characterises the end of week 3.  Well, we’ve become softer.  I made a sort of joke that we might have ice cream at lunch, then we decided we needed to get moving and Emily burst into tears because she was going to miss out on her ice cream.  We crumbled and bought her one.

Choco-tache on a happy girl

Choco-tache on a happy girl

Also we’ve reached a peaceful place about rental houses.  We now understand that if a place is still empty after a while on the market, then there’s probably a good reason for that.  We need to be on the ball with the helpful agencies to make sure we hear about new places as soon (or earlier)  as they are listed.  As it happens we’ve got a very promising viewing tomorrow.  Maybe we’ll have an exciting update tomorrow!  We’d like to get out of the apartment.  It’s ok but the girls are climbing the walls.  Emily has now reached the age where she can’t use an item of furniture as designed:

Sofa balancing

Sofa balancing

On top of that Lucy has started rooting through the bins.  The other day she found an old squashed kit-kat in the lounge waste paper basket and went very quiet as she stuffed her face with it.  We found that and put a stop to it… leading to big fat tears.  I caught her here having just had her hand in the bin

Caught bin diving

Caught bin diving

The job situation is shaping up as well.  I’m being put forward for one role and have had my first interview!  Hurrah!  It went well and I should be getting a follow-up interview next week.

Finally I spotted this tree!

Weird Tree

Weird Tree

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Better today

I’m pleased to announce that we’re feeling a bit more chipper today.  Saw one more place inside which was ok.  Stuck right in the bush (phnarr) but still close to the sea and civilisation.  Not in our preferred area, but we’re looking a bit wider due to the low number of 3 and 4 bed properties coming on at the moment.  We’ve arranged to see another two places tomorrow, which look nice from the photos.

The place we’re staying at is ok – a few people have asked about it so here are a couple of  links to have a look if you would like to.

Having spent another day in our lovely new car we have invented a new word.

Nagivating

prn: nag-i-vay-ting

defn: to direct one’s husband to drive the car in a specific direction whilst simultaneously nagging him for not doing it properly.

I hasten to add that we just invented it for no specific reason – Josie is in no way doing this at all.  She is a very good navigator.

Just to ensure you don’t all feel a bit cross about our sunshine we had lots of rain today as well.  In what we are coming to understand is true Auckland style we had changeable with a capital ‘ch’.  One minute it was binning it down and utterly overcast then suddenly it would stop and the sky would be blue.  You go for a walk and 30 minutes later, boosh, cloud falls on you.  And repeat until all rain has gone.

Due to this we fell back on the good old english tradition of eating our sandwiches IN the car whilst still IN the car park looking at the beach.  All we needed was a slightly rusty, tartan Thermos to complete the picture.

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I miss my house :-(

We had a very unfruitful afternoon house hunting in our chosen area. Looked at yet more rubbish houses – too damp, too small, too tatty, too everything really. We missed out on one house by minutes and on another (which was on our dream road) that had just been pulled from rental because they’re going to sell it. We are, in short, mourning for our little house in York………….

The trouble is that, having bought a dump and made it into a home, we are now having to “make do” with other people’s DIY (or lack of it). We don’t want to sit and look at a wall that needs painting or tiles that need replacing. We are finding it very tough indeed.

Meanwhile the kids are bored of sitting in the car, which is now knee deep in crumbs because we have been throwing food at them to keep them quiet.

Our parental desire to provide a stable and comfortable environment for our children is over-powering and guilt is growing by the hour.

But we saw a lovely rainbow today as we came over the bridge. We’re hoping tomorrow is a bit more cheery. Going to see a house which is right in the bush. Looks really odd from the outside but the internal pictures look amazing. It might be a bit too close to wildlife for me having driven down there today – but we’ll see tomorrow. Onwards and upwards and all that.

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This morning we sang Happy Birthday to Lucy and gave here a couple of presents we’d bought.  bought Lucy a Buzzy Bee toy which is a classic NZ pull-a-long toy.  It seemed to be a big hit as she immediately stuffed the antenna in her mouth.  She also got a bouncy ball with with a bell inside.   Thank you to anyone who was forward thinking enough to give us a present for Lucy’s birthday!

Lucy is excited by birthdays!

In honour of Lucy’s birthday we spent the afternoon at Auckland Zoo with Gill and her two girls Chloe and Gemma.  It was a lovely afternoon – Auckland Zoo is great!  It’s really nicely laid out with lots of lovely animals.  We managed to spot all of the animals requested and took photos of them.  Now then:

  • Mum wanted a hippo – got one yawning
  • Dad wanted a Hipporhinocercow – well apart from the cow section we got two thirds of it…
  • Nicky wanted a giant tortoise – and boy were these chaps big!  They were huge!  Like reallly big… small tortoises.
  • Guy wanted a tiger – Well I got two, looking like tiger twins.

Take a look at the photos in the new photo page. Zoo Photos

In other news, we’ve booked a load of house viewings this week to try and find some where to live so we can put all our stuff in it because our container boat is now moored in the big lake in the middle of the Suez canal!

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This is our boat.  Somewhere on it is a metal box containing all our gear. It is a grey one with Maersk written on it.

Big chuffing boatWe’ve just been tracking where it is using http://www.marinetraffic.com
Our boat

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Sweet as!

Whilst looking for Lucy’s birthday present today we went back to Sylvia Park, just off the southern motorway.  This completely confused Emily.

“I want to play on the swings please”

“It’s not a park it’s just called a park”

“Are there swings there?”

“No”

“Can we go to the goat park?”

“No, we’re going shopping at Sylvia Park”

“Are there swings there?”  ad infinitum…

In Sylvia Park (it’s the biggest indoor shopping mall in Auckland in case you haven’t been paying attention!) there is a sweet shop.  Last time we went all was quiet, but this time they were making sweets!  Right there on the counter they were making water melon rock.  To do this they had mixed up lots of sweet mixture (you know sugar and stuff…) and coloured it.  There was black and pink for the insides, then white and a stripey green.  It all got wrapped up in a big cylinder about 75cm long and 30 cm diameter.  They then proceeded to draw it out by hand into a diameter of about 1 cm and break it up into sticks. It was fab!

This afternoon we joined the library.  Josie got some books out about PR and we got a book for Emily as well.  It’s a story about a bear with a magic pencil.  Whatever he draws is real, so he escapes from hunters using a variety of cunning self-drawn solutions.

That’s about it for today.  Quiet day.  Tomorrow however is LUCY’S BIRTHDAY!  Hooray!  Daddy’s taking them  to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow etc…

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Sundays Kiwi-Style

Josie the runnist

Josie the runnist

After our trip along Tamaki Drive (which runs right along the water’s edge in Auckland) yesterday, and seeing all those fit young things running by the sea, I was up for a bit of that this morning. So I donned my running kit and arranged to meet Steve and the girls at a playground opposite a beach near the famous Kelly Tarlton Aquarium. They’d go by car so I could have a lift home and there was no need to sit on a bus sweating.

As I pounded the pavement, I made a quick discovery. All the runners looked very cool in shades whilst I ran past pulling a strange combination of facial expressions mainly involving gurning and other scrunchy-up grimaces. So the sunglasses are coming too next time provided they don’t bounce off my nose with every step. The other thing I learned was that I should check the map more carefully. The playground was actually about 3 bays on from where I thought it was. It was lovely to get a long run in but it wasn’t particularly intentional. But I made it and felt great for doing so.

The girls had had great fun playing in the park and we’d also walked across the road to sit on the beach and take in the view of ‘our city’ (as Emily now calls Auckland). There were lots of people running, cycling and playing by this time – Auckland had woken up and was enjoying the gloriously sunny day.

Feeling up for some more challenges I offered to drive us all back to the apartment and tackle the scary car park entrance.   This thing is on a steep slope and a tight turn.  We’ve seen several rear wheel drive cars get stuck going out.  It turned out to not be quite as scary as you’d think – the fear is now broken!

Josie Stole the Camera

Josie Stole the Camera

After a bit of a rest we headed north to see yet more new friends.  The contact this time came through an old neighbour of ours in York.  Once again we were welcomed whole heartedly and looked after very well.  We even took the opportunity to visit an ‘Open Home’ just a few doors up.  If you aren’t familiar with the concept of an Open Home it’s basically what it says on the tin.  For a set time each week (usually 30 minutes to an hour max) an estate agent is in the sellers house, allowing people to just pitch up and wander round.   It’s a great idea.

Our smashing new friends told us all about a load of things to help us settle in to life out here. They’ve been here for 5 yrs now.  Also they are able to keep an eye out for more jobs for Stevie.

Emily was a fantastic girl today – she was so polite this afternoon and sat and played beautifully.  We really are very proud of her.

One last thing – remember the other day we mentioned that I’d spoken to a journalist?  I’ve been quoted!  It is in print here: NZ Herald Article

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It Wasn’t Us

Pah.  Lotto Schmotto.  No dream home for us yet!

We did have  lovely day though!  The first beach of the day was over East Auckland.  To get there we drove around Mission Bay which is fantastic.  Long sandy beach just on the edge of the city, lots of people running lots of families cycling.  And what a day… the sky was completely blue.  Not a single cloud anywhere.

We carried on East to have a look at the area and although it was nice enough it didn’t really float our boat.  The views over the water are stunning, especially with the sun low, shining across the bay, twinkly and sparkly.

Picnic by the beach

Picnic by the beach

Whilst sitting eating lunch we got our first look at the native New Zealand Hoon.  A cousin to the UK Kev, this breed feels a compulsion to take shitty cars and try and make them look good.  The thing they don’t realise is that their chosen vehicles just look increasingly ridiculous the more they do to them.  The basic adornments seem to be alloy wheels, giant exhausts that look like a catering size tin of beans and that silly bit of the engine that goes ‘hiss’ when you change gear.  The vehicles they choose over here are a bit bigger than the UK Kev no Citroen Saxos with blue lights underneath.  We even saw a female Hoon (Hoonetta?) and despite the claim on her number plate that she was ‘Ms Sexy’ she was in fact not.  She was a munting pig and no mistake.  Still – apart from accelerating up to 30kph between speed humps and making silly hissing noises they weren’t any bother (I’m guessing it’s a different story at night).

After having lunch we headed off to Te Atatu Peninsula to keep an afternoon beach date with new friends Carl and Nick.  They had offered to take us to Piha beach right on the west of the city – a top class surfing beach and quite stunning by all accounts.  Well they certainly weren’t wrong.

Piha beach from lookout

Piha beach from lookout

Once we got down to sea level we set off for a walk up the beach.  Despite the fantastic sky (there were about 10 clouds by now.  Only little ones.) the temperature was still fresh (12 oC) although the strong sun made it feel warmer.  So no sitting down, we had a lovely walk up and down the beach, quizzing Carl and Nic about all things NZ and immigration related.

The rock formation on the west end of the beach has a lot of rock pools in it and in one of them we spotted this little fella.

Starfish

Starfish

The sand on the beach is black and has a high iron content.  Apparently it gets everywhere – we’ll find it in our crevices for weeks to come apparently.

Black Sand

Black Sand

We stayed until sunset and then headed home to get our lovely girls to bed.  I think we’ll be back to Piha beach again someday.  The rest of the photos are here : Piha Photos

Sunset

Sunset

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Yes we’ve entered the NZ lotto.  It’s startlingly similar to the UK lotto.  I mean really similar.  If Camelot don’t run the NZ version then I kind of think that someone has been copying someone elses homework.

Anyway – we were in Foodtown (it’s actually a supermarket, not an entire town made of food) and Josie felt the lure of the balls.

Today was a good day on the work hunting front.  Had a meeting with a very helpful couple of guys from a nice big company following a referral from a colleague in the UK.  Had a good discussion about where my skills fit in the NZ market.  My CV has now gone off to a few more companies as well which is fantastically generous and helpful.   People are so remarkably helpful and nice.  It seems that no small part of that is the fact that the IT market is small so you run into the same people over and over.  What goes around comes around apparently.

It’s also been a good day on the new friend front.  We finally met up with new friends Carl and Nick.  Had a nice afternoon chatting whilst the kids played in the playground until it rained then we decamped to a coffee shop.  Really nice to finally meet people who have been so helpful so far.  They have done this whole emigration thing as well so it’s fantastic to get advice and understand how other people have dealt with it. Nick told us about his amazing parents as they are in their eighties and have flown over to visit Carl and Nick several times since they arrived five years ago.  But that’s not the most amazing bit!  Across their various trips they have also taken the opportunity to visit China, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil and Argentina.  I couldn’t do that and I’m in my thirties.  Maybe we’ll be brave enough to do that sort of thing when we reach our eighties.

We’re off to Piha beach with them tomorrow afternoon to look at the surf waves!  There’s black sand too and it’s magnetic!  Tooo exciting….

The girls are doing really well at the moment.  Lucy is eating her own body weight in food.  You should have seen the meal she packed away this evening… big tears when the bowl was empty.

Emily tends to be the best in the morning and then gets a little unraveled in the evening.  Probably because she is tired due to the amazing amounts of walking she’s managing.  Must be upto 5 kms some days.

Family girls

Family girls

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Contacts Work

What an exciting day.  After the unexpected early start (see Who Burnt The Toast) we set about preparing for a day of exciting touring around the city.  We’re on foot today – the car is going nowhere.

Before we get to that stage suddenly all of my contacts start to bear fruit.  I’ve got a face to face meeting on Friday with a contact in a  consultancy and a telephone meeting set-up with a software company.  Good News!  Coupled with the fact that I’m also now waiting for my IRD number to arrive I’ll be in the mood for working…  Back to the days antics.

Following our decision to focus our house hunting on the Birkenhead area we decided to check out the transport links to get there.  As Birkenhead is over the harbour bridge (although only just over) it will suffer from the inevitable poor traffic bottleneck at rush hour.   We’ve been in this now and it is slow although it does move.

No, no, no – traffic and cars are not for this commute,  I’m going to catch the ferry!

The Birkenhead Ferry

The Birkenhead Ferry

We get to the terminal and have about three minutes to spare.  NZ$9 each for me and Josie, kids are free,eftpos, ticket, ramp, pier, run, on.  Phew – didn’t want to have to wait another hour.

The ferry speeds off across the bay and we enjoy the brisk sea breeze.

We're sitting on the deck of a ferry - in winter...

We're sitting on the deck of a ferry - in winter...

Barely six minutes later we approach the landing wharf that we recognise from a visit here in the car the other day.  We’d figured out then that this was a ferry terminal – now here we are using it.

People come up from below and out from the cosy wimpy indoor section and we all disembark.  “How quick was that?”  I ask, “I thought it took much longer…”  Josies face now looks at some poster on the wall and sinks slightly.  We’ve got off at the wrong point.  In our excitement of using the ferry and lack of signs and anouncements we just got off when the other passengers did.  Unfortunatley this is Northcote Point not Birkenhead.  Wallys.

We know roughly where we are and would like to look at the area and it’s a nice day and there’s a great playground on the way so we decide to walk.

IMG_0139IMG_0145Lordy mumma the hills are steep.  What seems like an age later we make it up the other side of the valley bit just to drop back down to sea level again.  Some susstenance in the form of biscuits and Mocha.

We catch the ferry back from the correct point and it really is a fantastic way to travel.

No-one is bungying from the bridge as we go under.

Harbour Bridge

Harbour Bridge

Back through town and taking it easy on the way home we get asked to comment on some ‘funny’ t-shirt slogans for an articel being written by a journalist and photographer.  It will appear in the Sunday edition so we’ll keep a close eye on it and let you all know.

After they’ve gone we head back up the hill again to home.  It’s incredible – I’m tired and Hosie is too but Emilys has walked the whole day. Must have been nearly 5 km.  Astounding legs.

Other information of importance today:

We heard from Pickfords.  The container arrives in Auckland on 16th Aug.  Ahhhh! better find a place to live.

We’re now thinking that if I can secure a job offer we can borrow and buy straight away instead of renting.  The area is well within budget so watch this space.

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