Archive for September, 2009


Following a quake off the coast of Samoa this morning measuring 8.3, NZ was given a tsunami warning.  The trouble with these things is it’s impossible to predict if a quake actually did cause a big wave or not.  Sadly in this case Samoa was hit and a number of people were killed.  The alert for NZ was cancelled when it became apparent that the wave had dissipated long before reaching us.  There was a minor increase in wave activity reported but if you didn’t know the cause you’d never have guessed.

Still – a reminder of things to be aware of if we’re near the coast.   Our house is inland and quite high above sea level so we’re not in a risk area.

The warning meant we had to keep off the beaches so we ended up meeting our friend and her 4 kids at our favourite play cafe. One of her children loves babies and took Lucy for a play whilst I had a grown-up chat over cake and hot chocolates. Very nice to have a break and even better to have a hoot and a cackle. In fact we were laughing so much that her elder kids were highly embarrassed and requested that we pipe down!

After lunch we went our own separate ways and I went on a swimming pool crawl. After much chatting with different swim schools I think I have decided which one I’d like to take the girls to.  Although we have the pool at the house I still want to get Lucy into lessons, mainly to fill our week a bit. I need to spend a bit of cash and time trying to find some new friends for the two of us.

Then we went to get the necessary info and forms from the doctor’s surgery. Wow, paying for your doctor’s is going to take some getting used to but it means the service is pretty hot and surroundings rather palatial. I wonder if you notice how lovely the waiting area is when you are ill…..

Now all this was going on with the most freaky weather. You can see the squally showers coming for miles but they utterly hoof it along.  The old adage “four seasons in one day” is spot on. In fact it is more like four seasons in an hour and lots of waiting for showers to pass before getting out of the car.

Anyway, got home and discovered Lucy had been hoarding a huge number of crumbs in her nappy. It was utterly hilarious but resulted in an early shower for her and a quick hoover round for me. Looked like Hansel and Gretel had been in the living room.

I failed miserably in my run today coming home seven minutes early. After beating myself with birch I went and got pizza for Steve and I, followed by choccy biccies. I need to load my carbs. I’ll have to do 45 mins tomorrow to make up for being lazy.

Bed time for us now. We’re really tired.

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We’re slowly building up a list of things we’ve “lost” during the move.  My puffer brush for cleaning the camera is the latest.  Did I leave it with a box of other stuff in the UK?  Is it in the house ‘somewhere’?  Who knows!

Anyway, I had a good day at work.  Made my first employment offer, had lunch paid for and didn’t have to use the lowest gearset on my crank to get up the nasty hill on the way home!

Over to wifey.

Busy mummy today with the morning spent cleaning toys at the Beach Volleyball Club where we go to playgroup with Lucy. See, I am doing my best to try and meet people! Wasn’t too bad, the girls are a nice bunch and the kids had a good play.

Then we came home for lunch and I cleaned the car. A friend of ours bought a cheap car recently and it was infested with cockroaches. Ours had so many bits of rice cake in it that I was worried it might be the restaurant of choice for the aforementioned little blighters. Anyway, she’s all clean now.

Our friend Gavin called me earlier and asked if we fancied meeting up so we went into Auckland to visit the museum this afternoon. Emily has declared that Gavin is one of her favourite people because he is always so funny. She has a point, he is a great one for mad schemes and very much reminds my of my uncles when they were younger and only ever referred to each other as Laddies. Anyway, I digress, Gav’s girls were on top form and all the kids had great fun charging round. Lucy was let out of her pram several times for walkling practise and has now reached the arched back stage of stropdom when trying to get her back into it. And it was great to briefly catch up with Gavin’s wife in the car park after work before she nips off to Sydney for the weekend. It is only a 3 1/2 hr flight so I guess it is the equivalent of Brits popping over to Paris….

So, tired girls all round. I managed another pretty slick 5.5km run tonight and Mr Futzhugh has just departed to go for a swim (note – I just got back having done 40 lengths in under 40 minutes). Mind you, he could have done it in the street as there is a rather exciting thunderstorm cracking off overhead.

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Another day, another beach

Stevie overslept this morning. I cannot possibly let you know the language that woke me up at 7:47 when he realised. Still, he got to work on time although didn’t dare admit his shortcomings to the boss.

It is school hols this week and next so I’m struggling a bit with what to do in a strange country with no mates. Em insisted on watching the picture CD of all her friends at St Paul’s Nursery in York this morning. She thought it was great meanwhile I blubbed behind her back, mourning the absence of Alex, Ben and Miri-pom.

After lunch we went off to Takapuna. The theatre there is running Jack and the Beanstalk this week and they are happy to have babies in there so I am taking the girls on Friday morning. We’ll all be luvvies and darlings afterwards I am sure.

Also got the car licence done. One of the strange things about moving to another country is that you just have no idea how to do basic stuff. We’ve been really stumped by setting up direct debits, figuring out which postbox to use, choosing the correct colour bin bag and today it was the turn of the vehicle licence form. Anyway, a bit of pleading ignorance / insanity and the locals generally come to your aid.

The girls and I found a new beach today – Castor Bay. It is a very small cove with a play area and a boat ramp, plus a few picnic tables and lovely old trees. We had the place to ourselves for about 45 mins. Lucy is now into her second day of baby bootcamp – beach module. Dumped on the sand and watched like a hawk for any attempt to eat it, she loved getting in a right old mess. In fact Em and her made some marvellous sand and water “soup” on the bottom of the slides.

We also took her for a paddle which she adored. In fact she just wanted to race in deeper which meant trousers were removed and mummy got very wet shoes. Why I didn’t take my shoes off as well I have no idea… Interestingly Em was spurred on by Lucy’s enthusiasm and did not moan at all about the temperature. I have no idea if it was chilly, it just seemed damp shoes and socks warm to me.

Back home Em and I swept the deck or should I say “dick” as Lucy tried to speed crawl off the end of it. That said I am pretty sure that today Lucy walked about as much as she crawled which is very exciting. I nipped out for a run when Steve got home and we put the girls to bed in a very light bedroom courtesy of the clock change yesterday. They went down surprisingly easily but given the raucous laughter whilst paddling I suspect they are both shattered.

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Stevie went for a swim again this morning which was very successful.  Another 1km in blocks of 200m this time When he came back we decided to go and investigate another beach and we plumped for Muriwai (which is so close to sounding like Miramar that it gave me an excuse to prattle on in Top Gun lingo for hours).

Muriwai (pronounced Mur-i-why) is a beach and National Park on the West coast. Because it is on the West Coast, the sand is black, and it is a mecca for surf dudes. It is also home to a load of gannets (not just hungry Emily’s and Lucy’s but proper feathered types) and lots of para-gliders.

So we packed a scrummy picnic including Stevie’s homemade breadsticks and my homemade brownies, and jumped in the car for an exhausting 45 min drive! We are still ridiculously excited about being able to get to places so quickly here.

There were quite a few people at Muriwai today, by New Zealand standards. Not only are kids on 2 weeks holiday at the moment but the sun had his hat on and the surf was up “dude .” We had our picnic on the grass before throwing our shoes in the boot and strolling along the beach barefoot. Muriwai is a pretty dangerous beach. Swimming is not recommended as there are some significant rip tides apparently. You could see by the way the waves were coming in that it was a bit feisty and the sound of the crashing was immense, particularly under the cliffs where the blowhole was. There was also a load of green gunk floating around which we guessed was some kind of algae, but it didn’t seem to bother the surf dudes. I can comfortably say that we will not be kayaking in the sea for a few more weeks (certainly not without wetsuits) as the paddle-o-meter was reading “ooo it’s a bit nippy”. Anyway, we watched the surfers for a while, and the para-gliders, paddled, made running courses for Em on the sand etc and managed to find a new thing for her to get hung up on. This time it was the holes on the beach, probably from the evil sandflies. Anyway, she got obsessed by them and we heard about little else for 20 mins.

After running about on the beach dodging sandfly holes we put our shoes back on and made our way up the cliffs to the gannet colony. There were more birds than you could shake a stick at: all looking perfect and airbrushed, except for one which Em decided must have “not been paying attention and flown into a rock” because he had blood on him and was looking all grumpy with his beak tucked under his wing.

When the kids were equally grumpy we walked back down to the beach and took Lucy for a walk on the sand. She appears to like the feeling of sand beneath her toes and managed to avoid eating any. It was deeply moving with Steve and I holding a hand each helping our youngest navigate her way along the beach. It felt like she had come of age. Bit strange really as Emily did all this walking malarkey at the local shopping centre in York….. They are already having very different childhoods.

We eventually peeled ourselves away and headed home. I went for another really satisfying run and we all had showers to get rid of that cheeky black sand. After dinner Em announced with a yawn that is was time to go and “pat the sack” which I’m still chuckling about three hours later. Anyway, I must also go and pat the sack as the clocks changed last night and we lost an hour. So we are now 12 hrs ahead of the UK.

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It’s late.  Friends for dinner.  Quick summary.

Josie ran.

I bought roof bars.

We picked up new toy (kayak – pics to come)

Baked Brownies.

Friends for tea.

Made Thai Red Curry.



Night Night.

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Emily had her first school trip today, to Butterfly Creek. She had a great time and I’m slightly jealous because I’d like to go! Josie was struck by the fact that this is the first time she’s been taken off somewhere without us since we arrived. When she’s in Kindy we know exactly where she is and roughly what she’ll be doing, but this is just such a big girl thing to do.

After picking up Emily Josie went off to the Ocean factory shop just north of Auckland. We’d been told about a big sale on with savings in the region of 25% off. This is even cheaper than we’ve managed to find on TradeMe (NZ Ebay). So after some umming and ahing , we have purchased our first family toy.
The Ocean Peekaboo is specifically designed for families with smaller children. It’s a really stable, sit-on kayak with a big window in the bottom! It’s designed for one adult paddler and one passenger, but you could actually get all four of us on there just based on the weight capability. It will basically be something to take to the beach to play with in the water. I’m sure it will also be useful for my ocean swim training in some way or other as well. In reality we’ll probably just gaze at it in the garage for a while until we’re brave enough to go to the beach!

My first (short) week ended well. We had the office drinks at 4pm and a quick quiz. All really good fun. I’m starting to get a really clear picture of what I need to achieve and will be getting stuck right into it on Monday.

My commute this morning was an amazing 27 mins door to desk! I’m so chuffed! The commute is great, although the cycling back up the hill in the evening is not the nice easy reintroduction to cycling I really could have down with.

We’ve got visitors this weekend – going to cook Thai,

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The Hard Work Continues

Following on from yesterdays blog entry here is a news article about the parade so you can judge for yourselves. Boobs on Bikes

My second day went even better than the first because I found out that not only do they provide stationery we get choccy bikkies and drinks in the office on a Friday afternoon!
Got stuck into a couple of meetings today and I can feel all the information shaking down into place. I love the comute – it’s so quick and best of all you can see all the slow moving traffic on the motorway right next to you and feel smug. I didn’t even feel sick today after cycling back up the hill between here and the bus stop!

Talking of exercise I would like to congratulate my lovely wifey on getting up again this morning to go out for a run. Tricky stuff to motivate yourself out of bed – especially when your favourite attire is Pjs and slippers.

I’m also maintaining my regime for now. First evening swim today and it started badly because there were only two lanes available with two going to ‘fun’ swimming and three to lessons. Well the ‘fun’ swimmers were just a load of floating women who could have easily fitted into half the space and one of the lesson lanes was empty. The two lanes were fast and slow. I was getting stuck behind th slows and torpedoed by the fasts. I had a strop after getting stuck behind a child stuck behind a chinese gentleman practising for the slowest length event and was about to lambast a manager about the allocation of lanes. He saw me coming and offered me one of the lesson lanes. I was placated.
Anyway – I did 40 lengths in total which I was pleased about.

Over to wiffle

After Kindy we caught up with our new neighbour who invited us over to play tomorrow which is kinda awesome (note native tongue already)! I then dragged the girls off for an afternoon of nosing about. First we went to Silverdale and the Ocean Kayak factory to check out their sale prices. The one we really want is hugely reduced and comes in yellow! Obviously not knowing a thing about kayaks, colour is the key issue in the purchasing decision for Emily and I. The model in question is the Ocean Kayak Peekaboo. Basically it has a window in the body of the kayak so you can see the fishies – perfect for family kayaking. Plus it is very wide and hence incredibly stable on the sea. Steve and I have discussed at length this evening and I’m not sure we’ve yet come to a decision. I suspect though that there will be a new toy in the garage by the end of the weekend.

On the way home we stopped off at the Snow Planet indoor ski centre. Fantastic looking slope with people having a great time. Prices were so reasonable when compared to the UK – $54 for the whole day…….. Em is well-up for a go! Lucy was more excited about the little house in the kids play area. They have this a lot over here, play areas for kids. Even have them in DIY stores as well as clothes shops, cafes etc. Superb idea!

Then we went off to Browns Bay which is a couple of suburbs up along the coast from us. It is quite bustling with a very good play area on the sea front (are you spotting a trend in my days, slogging from play area to play area). I also found an ice cream shop which sells tiny cones for just a dollar – perfect for Emily slow eating Fitzhugh. More importantly I found a French Patisserie. I couldn’t resist their croissants although I had to split it three ways to feed my junior gannets. I am starting to think I am under-caloried because of all the exercise I’m doing (100mins running and one gym session so far this week) but the kids seem to be nicking half my food! Lucy can hear a wrapper rustling at 50 paces and Emily immediately pipes up that she is hungry as soon as she sees anything she likes the look of. For example, Emily eats two helpings of kedgeree and is falling asleep at the table, Stevie mentions ice cream in passing, Em exclaims “I like ice cream don’t I daddy, oooo I’m a bit hungry”. Don’t know where she puts it to be honest, must have hollow bones.

Anyway, quick trip to the library and veg shop, then we were back to cook dinner. Now off to bed – no run for me tomorrow. Hooray, I am starting to investigate sport drinks I am so tired!

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So my first day of employment in New Zealand is done. It went as you would expect for this type of job. Lots of info to read, loads of people to meet and tons of things to add to a nice simple to-do list. They seem like very nice people and there will be plenty to keep me busy, so I’m very pleased!

The jouney time is really short. Five minutes to Sunnynook Bus station. 20 mintues to CBD, 5 minute walk to office! Nearly half the time of my commute in UK. And all the time you can see out of the window of the bus all the traffic you are flying past! Haha!

Lunch time was unusual. There was a parade in town today called “Boobs on Bikes”. Apparently this is to promote an adult erotic festival things that’s about to start. The event involves people riding motorbikes up the main street whilst carrying a pillion passenger who is not entirely fully dressed on the upper half. Based on the showing today and the girls at the motorshow we’re trying to work out whether due to the size of the country the choice is severly limited or if there is some other reason for the ‘state’ of the women involved.

Over to wifey.

Hit the streets at 610am in the rain again for a run – not so good today, must have been the trip to the gym 10 hours earlier so I may have to calm down on gym trips until I have done the quarter marathon on 1 Nov. Had more info through today – it starts at 645am on a Sunday morning in the centre of Auckland!!!!!!!

Took Em to Kindy in the rain today. It has been jolly wet and windy here. Said hello to some more neighbours on the way who offered me an umbrella for the trip to Kindy. They have a girl Em has been playing with at Kindy and they invited us over for a play once their girls have recovered from nasty bugs. It is indeed like Ramsey Street. Can’t wait for those pool parties to kick in!

Came home and dusted, washed up and sorted out the house a bit. Picked up Em. Went and had lunch with a couple of new mates. Went to buy light bulbs at the DIY shop. Came home, popped the girls in the bath in the vane hope that Em might actually have white toe nails trather than black ones. She certainly smells better! I’m starting to think Persil have a gang of heavies hitting on Kindies making sure the teachers get the kids as mucky as possible everyday. Then the lovely Stevie appeared all wet and puffing from his cycle home.

So there you go. Life has officially returned to normal. Steve says it is up to me to do exciting things to keep the blog enticing. No pressure then. I’ll do my best but I do need to maintain my position as chief pant washer, cook and bottle washer of the household. OOOO I nearly forgot Lucy is saying something that very vaguely resembles “Emily” – all jolly exciting stuff!

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Well the day started at 615am for Josie with a 35 min run in the rain. And she’s just come back from the gym. Seems to be doing a lot of moaning about being tired!
Straight after taking Em to school we finally sorted out the garage. All the empty boxes were flattened and put under the stairs in our secret hidey cupboard. Stuff was jiggled about and the floor was swept, then we moved the car in. Home at last!
Then I dropped Josie and Lucy off at the playgroup in the beach volleyball club (alas the women’s team weren’t practising) and went off for my swim. This time I did 30 lengths, in groups of 4 (2 front crawl followed by 2 breast stroke). This means I did 750metres which is the same as the Ocean Swim that I am going to enter for early 2010. This, together with the fact that I had pecs when I came out of the water, means we’re definitely heading in the right direction.
Josie met a few more people today at playgroup so another couple of phone numbers gathered. She has also made a friend at Kindy and spends a lot of time gossiping in the playground when collecting Em. Lucy hasn’t made any friends yet but is still at the “how mucky can I get my clothes for mummy whilst trying to find something dangerous to play with” stage.
After dragging Em away from Kindy, stripping Lucy of all filthy clothing and having lunch (why do salads make you hungrier than you were before you ate them…?) Josie made some muffins from her new book – Marvellous Muffins. These ones were banana, cinnamon and bran ones with a few raisins and choc chips thrown in. Scrummy and yet still good for you given the inclusion of bran!
Then we all poddled down to Mairangi Bay for a trot along the cliffs and an explore of the rock pools. The tide was about as far out as we’d seen it so there were more rock pools than you could shake a stick of rock at. Millions of Hermit crabs as usual, many doing a bit of sparring (although we did wonder about their mating habits). Most excitingly we saw a jellyfish. We think it was dead or exceedingly untasty to seagulls.
Back home for lamb tagine via the playground. Oh and we saw our neighbour again today. She was very chatty today and we are very much looking forward to more chats over the front wall. We also met her six yr old son who was a little shy but is in to Cars so Em has given him the thumbs up.
This evening I have mostly been trying to find my school bag (no luck yet), ironing shirts (well haven’t quite finished that yet), choosing which smart trousers to wear (will do eventually) and polishing shoes (done, tick). Sorted the bike out yesterday, know my route to the office and Josie has got some snacks in for my lunchbox so we’re nearly ready to get into normal life mode.

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Family Time Counting Down…

We’ve had such an exciting day afternoon – we were tourists in our own city.

Morning-wise, we took Em off to Kindy, running all the way with her singing ” we’re off to Kindy” – I think we can safely says she loves it there. We took Lucy off to see the roof rack man and visit a dive shop and when we returned we met our new neighbours. Not sure who has actually moved in but there was a woman and little girl and a man, plus she referred to a young son whilst clutching a fluffy Lightening McQueen. She seemed friendly, he just said hello but didn’t introduce himself.  We are wondering if he might not be moving in. We’ll see, but hopefully we’ll get to know them – proper Kiwis and everything, eh?

After lunch we decided that, although a cloudy day, the visibility was good and a trip to the Spikey Tower using daddy’s work bus was the order of the day. We all love that tower but Emily in particular is quite nutty about it. She was so near to bursting with excitement on the bus meanwhile Lucy was merrily greeting all the other passengers with a “hiya”.

The last time we went up the tower was 18 months ago on our recce.  That time we were super jet-lagged and struggling to stay awake.  This time we were operating on our time in our city.  The cashier asked me where I was from.  It took a second but I felt quite proud of being able to say “Well, we live here in Auckland!”.

We spent ages up the tower looking out over our city, trying to spot all the landmarks and streets we became so familiar with during the short while we were in the CBD (that’s central business district in case you didn’t know or had forgotten). Emily took great delight in telling people which one was my building.



There’s something very exciting about being high up.  I love it.  Josie doesn’t love it quite so much, but did very well today, not only standing on the glass floor but letting the girls stand/crawl on it as well!  And then to top it all she managed to do a full on lean on the glass.  I was very proud.

Fearless girls

Fearless girls

Fearless Mummy!

Fearless Mummy!

We decided to get our monies worth and stayed up there for hours.  In accordance with the demands of our tummies this included a stop at the cafe they have just below the main observation deck.  This is where we found one thing that surprises me still.  The prices were identical to any other coffee shop in Auckland.  They weren’t taking advantage of their captive market and hiking the prices up massively.  And they looked fab!


We stayed late and came home in the dark.  The tower is lit up blue at the moment to tie in with a prostate cancer awareness month.  Emily asked why it was blue.  I had literally just started to form the words in my head “Well, there’s this gland, right up your…” when Josie jumped in with “They change the colour sometimes”.  Very wise.

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