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Archive for May, 2010

Race-tronic!

Well I am in charge of the blog tonight and Steve is ironing. I didn’t do a good enough job on his shirts last time so have been relieved of my duties. Shame!

So, what a weekend of speedy action we have had! It all started on Friday night when Stevie took part in a team event at work – it was based on the tv programme The Amazing Race. For about half an hour the Central Business District of Auckland was terrorised by teams running about and dodging traffic. Steve was nominated “champion” for his team which meant he got to dress up in a wig, and carry a balloon on a stick as well as an inflatable hammer. At the half way stage he was also given a cup of dyed water (his was blue) to carry – surely he hasn’t got that many arms I hear you cry…… Luckily quick thinking Stevie shoved the balloon onto the cup and carried on ordering his team mates to run faster as they all rampaged the city to find the next clue. I gather he ended up being rather competitive and bopped a few members of the public with his hammer once it became clear they had a fighting chance of winning. In the end they achieved a highly respectable third place. He was home by 745 looking a bit sweaty and sporting suspiciously blue fingers. He assures me no Smurfs were involved.

Saturday morning I waltzed off to have some highlights done – I am rather bored of my tragic “Dickie Davis” stripes of grey so they got the boot. We didn’t do much else on Saturday really, a spot of shopping, trip to the library, that sort of thing. Steve did get to the gym though – he hasn’t been for so long they had removed his card. I gather the vamp that is Chantalle, the over-attentive personal trainer, was overjoyed to see him back ūüėČ

On Sunday it was my turn to race. I had decided it was time to push myself a bit on the running and left home at half seven in the morning to enter a Run Auckland race in Milford. Run Auckland is a series of 6 runs, each in a different part of Auckland. The idea is that you can run in new, exciting locations and get to know the city. We used to live quite near to Milford so I knew where I was heading and I knew that it would be a hilly one -now  my favourite terrain. Unfortunately it was as chilly as a freshly shaven penguin standing at the north pole without his underpants on. It had been a very clear night and had fallen to 2 degrees so, whilst a beautiful sunny morning, it was a bit parky in lycra as I was hanging about waiting for the hooter. Soon warmed up to 16 degrees though.

I had decided to do the 5km, as per my marathon training schedule, rather than the 10km race. Because it was on pavements, alongside a twisting cliff-side road, it was pretty busy dashing past slower runners and walkers. But I still managed to achieve my goal of a sub-25minute 5km run, admittedly only by 3 seconds but I am pretty proud of myself nonetheless, especially as it was a hilly course.

When I got back the family were undertaking craft activities – Em on her loom making a purse and Lucy drawing and sticking. Steve was about to make crumpets when I declared that we should hit the beach. So we ended up jumping in the car to go to Piha on the West Coast, via the bakery to grab some pies for lunch (top tip: if you are daft enough to give your children meat pies for lunch in the car, always have a car hoover handy – we did, our car has been saved!). The only problem was that 40km from home we realised we had actually driven to Muruwai instead of Piha – doh!

Rather then go onto the beach we headed off for a long walk up the cliffs to see the gannet colony – such a shame that they had all gone to Oz for their holidays! Still, Lucy did an amazing job of walking and the kids had a great time playing at the new playground next to the beach before we treated Em to an icecream and Lucy to an apple whilst chuckling to ourselves watching the AA man trying to fix someone’s Ferrari which had broken down outside the cafe.

We headed home via Murrays Bay where Steve gazed at the sailing boats coming home; I rested my tired running legs; and the girls dig some sandcastling/hermit crab spotting. All in all a rather lovely, gloriously sunny, late Autumn day with the family but Winter starts on Tuesday…..what will that be like I wonder?

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Lost

For those of you who don’t know what Lost is, it’s a TV show. ¬†And if you don’t know what it is I’m going to assume that you’ve been living on the moon for the last few years. ¬†Just in case you are in fact a lunar resident and wondering what I’m going on about I’ll explain…

Lost is a long running TV series about a group of people who crash on an island and experience much weirdness from day one. ¬†It’s all about the characters and the story line. ¬†The characters are built through the use of ‘flashbacks’ to the protaganists pre-island lives. ¬†And so it went on for six series of 24 one hour episodes. ¬†We have stuck with it all the way through and still find it gripping and entertaining. ¬†The last ever episodes have now been screened in the US and the UK and we got one last night and the very last one will be on Saturday.

As our aerial is broken we are watching TV via TVNZ OnDemand service. ¬†Nearly 1h30 minutes ago, we sat down to watch the penultimate episode of Lost and Josie announced that she might need a five minute nap to be able to watch it. ¬†She’s still asleep. ¬†It’s nearly 10pm so I’m not going to get to see it tonight. ¬†Tomorrow I’m out with work so it’s another 48 hours to wait before we get closer to understanding all the weirdness…

Talking of TV and movies, I bought a new video camera at the weekend. ¬†It was a bargain, but I haven’t decided whether to keep it or take it back yet. ¬†It records in high definition, but the playback is not good on this computer. ¬†I’m not sure if that is the recording or the computer not being able to play it. ¬†If the latter I’ll just record in low def until I get a new computer. ¬†If the actual recording is jerky there’s no point in keeping it as it fails in it’s basic function of recording video. ¬†Hopefully it’ll be good – so we can use it to capture more lovely bits of video of our cherubs.

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It is a bit moist here today. Famed for its random weather patterns, NZ is living up to its reputation big time.

But it isn’t just rain, sun, wind, bit more rain……..we get the very exciting¬†phenomenon¬†of Squally Showers. By definition these are showers accompanied by brief but sudden strong and gale force winds. Basically it is throw your umbrella in the bin weather and hope the kids don’t get washed down the hill.

In fact, the weather is set to remain stormy for much of the week. It does rather make you want to snuggle down with a book and a cup of cocoa and listen to a shipping forecast. Of course it wouldn’t be the same as all the names aren’t right. We have coastal water forecasts with areas relating to regions like Coromandel, Raglan, Kaipara etc. We also have High Seas forecasts when they have the Forties (basically that is the South Island) and the Sub Tropics which is the North Island. When you hear the term Forties, you realise why the weather can be shocking down here – not called the Roaring Forties for nothing I guess!

So today I am feeling all on edge about whether my washing will dry. You cannot imagine how tricky life is without radiators. I may even have to succumb to the lure of a tumble dryer if things don’t settle down a bit. On that note, and in lieu of my rather sad, slightly middle-aged mutterings, I spy a gap in the clouds so I am off to get the shopping in from the car before I get hosed down again in a Squally Shower.

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Weather Schmether

WEATHER BOMB! Screamed the papers…

PREPARE YOUR EMERGENCY KITS! Urged the Civil Defence email sent to us…

TIE DOWN YOUR GRANNY! Suggested the radio….

In the end it rained a bit. ¬†Not sure where all the weather went. ¬†It must have missed us or something. ¬†Still at least we now have batteries for our torch and radio and about 9 litres of bottled water, which is not far off the recommended 3 per person for three days we’re supposed to have in for emergencies. ¬†Just for the record, the house will never be flooded by the creek. ¬†It’s too far down easily. ¬†The difference in height must be at least five meters. ¬†The area of land that would need to flood before it reached our house is vassssst.

Still – if there had been a problem I would have transformed from a mild mannered gutter cleaning dad into…

DUN DUN DUNNNNN

Captain Birthday!

Captain Birthday!

Yes Saturday was my super hero party and having ummed and ah’d all week I decided to reveal my alter ego Captain Birthday to the world. ¬†It may look to you like a man in a wetsuit with a tablecloth wrapped around his shoulders, but let me tell you, I couldn’t stop striking the super hero pose all day. ¬†There’s something about costume which is reinforcing. ¬†You dress like a super hero so you feel like a super hero, so you dress like one etc…

Everyone made such a ¬†fantastic effort and we had some fantastic costumes. ¬†I’m gutted that in all the excitement of the party we didn’t get full posed shots of all our heroes. ¬†Never mind.

Because we’ve got Emily and Lucy and the majority of our friends also have kids, any adult party is also a kids party. ¬†We had super games including Make a Super Hero Muscley – where a child dons anXXXL t-shirt then his peers all try and stuff his t-shirt with baloons to make him look huge! ¬†Then we had a ¬†green kryptonite hunt around the outside of the house, hunting green balls from the ‘ball pool’ set. ¬† There was a bit of musical super hero pose statues and lots more.

I was so chuffed with my two little Incredible girls. ¬†Their costumes rocked! ¬†And as for my saucy Batgirl, I’m hoping that costume comes out again…

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Oh my word what a week. Emily did a great job in her cross country – I just love the way they get so distracted. She ran half the field sideways when she saw me with the camera. The older the kids got, the more competitive they were. Truly fascinating. And ¬†no, I didn’t run. There’s a time to run and a time to let your daughter take centre stage.

Thursday and Friday were pretty hideous. The guys came to fit the heat pump and HRV and Lucy was not well. There was dust, drilling, live wires, tools all over the place, ladders etc etc. It was not a “Lucy friendly” environment, particularly not for a grumpy, clingy and unsettled Lucy. Anyway, after a slight mis-order with the heat pump they finally finished at 545pm on Friday night. Although it is early days, the condensation has dropped almost totally, the bedrooms are warmer, the washing is drying, and the rather delightful whiff of damp nappies that accumulates in Lucy’s room over night has disappeared. It is all a lot fresher and rather toastily splendid but we are still reeling from the cost of it all!!

We’ve had our first taste of infamous Auckland rain this week. On Thursday and Friday it seemed to rain just about all day. With the rain came exciting surprises like a blocked and over-flowing gutter, a badly leaking window, the front door becoming a tight squeeze having swollen with all the rain, and a puddle on the stairs courtesy of the leak in the roof. Marvellous. As I type this we await a further 48 hours of storms but this time they are big ones and there have been official weather warnings from the Civil Defence Info Service. So when we got the email, Steve got up the ladder and cleaned out the gutters, and also applied sealant to the leaking window. I stowed the patio table and chairs and we secured the kayak, “Mr Rangi” our garden gnome and the roof box. We also went shopping for bottled water and batteries for our torches and radio in our emergency kit as the email forecasts rapidly rising rivers, flooding, power cuts, fallen trees etc etc. Being fresh off the boat and by the book types, we have got all our ducks in a row and are prepared for the wild weather they are forecasting. In fact the rain has just started but it isn’t stormy yet, that should kick in at about 3am apparently. I suspect that, being urban, we should miss most of it but that our creek will be pretty impressive tomorrow morning.

Next post will be the party catch-up,  with pictures and everything!

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Emily is doing her first cross country race tomorrow. ¬†She is really excited and can’t wait. ¬†Just like her old dad when he was at school. ¬† Goodness me, you couldn’t hold me back when there as a cross country event in sight. ¬†I’d be head down and raring to go… at least I think that’s what happened – memory is such a funny thing…

Josie is going to go down and watch and cheer our super little whiperaffe (cross between a whippet and a giraffe) along. ¬†Then after the kids have had their glory is the real reason the parents come along. ¬†Stand aside – it’s the parents race! ¬†Josie is umming and ahhing whether she should enter. ¬†The last time she did a short parents sprint she as actually elbowed out of the way. ¬†This is highly competitive stuff!

As for other sporty activities I’m trying to get back into my regular swimming slots after my cold-enforced absence. ¬†Did 2km this evening. ¬†The dreaded cramp came on early (about 1km) but I decided that rather than get out and get cold and miserable on the side I was just going to keep swimming. ¬†Seemed to work with no adverse effects. ¬†I didn’t sink. ¬†My foot hasn’t fallen off so all’s good!

Right – off to bed. ¬†Got a silly day tomorrow. ¬†Just part of a silly week. ¬†I’m flat out all week and we’re having the ventilation and heating done Thursday/Fri and then party on Saturday… ¬†I’ll need Sunday to recover without a doubt.

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I should know by now that I get really concerned in the lead up to a fancy dress party that my costume is adequate. ¬†So choosing a ‘Super Hero’ theme for next weeks ‘Happy Birthday Me’ party is of course resulting in the usual extensive trawls through dollar shops and the nearly famous ‘Ikes Emporium’ to find the components of a fabulous costume. ¬†Of course I could just hire one couldn’t I? ¬†Well no. ¬†For some reason I completely understand when other people hire stuff, but I find it very tricky. ¬†It feels a bit like… well… cheating. ¬†And it costs money – usually quite a lot.

So I’m destined to always try and create something that I can never quite attain without the use of a hollywood props department and a team of several professional costume makers.

Whilst out trawling Brown’s Bay we stopped into the veg shop and discovered a box of apples for just a dollar! ¬†One dollar. ¬†It contained about 34 apples! ¬†Some were huge… like footballs. ¬†Ok, not as big as footballs, but big ok?

To escape the thought of having to make our costumes Josie went for a really long run today. ¬†She clocked up 18.16 (she made me include the .16) kilometers. ¬†Then came home, ate the food I’d cooked and fell asleep on the sofa. ¬†I’m very proud that she ran so far. ¬†It means that she could easily do a half marathon which is great!

Whilst she was trotting around the North Shore I took the girls down to the beach for a bit of a play to let off steam before bathtime.  Thanks to a crisp clear day and a low sun I managed to get some lovely shots of our lovelies.

I also need to give an honourable mention to a particularly devout insect that we found resting on our dustbin the other night. ¬†It was a big green Praying Mantis. ¬†By big I mean it was about 10cm long (4 inches for anyone reading in black and white) which is bigger than any that we’ve seen so far.

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Some Photos

Just thought I’d upload a few photos.

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Doom and gloom

Well it looks as thought the UK is in for interesting political times – what can I say…..except to offer our spare bedrooms for when the going gets tough and you need to emigrate.

We’ve had a couple of tough days with Em at home ill. Half her class have had it too – a high temperature and some have got a nasty cough but Em seems to have escaped that part. She has been sleeping for England – 4hr nap in the afternoon yesterday! But in the words of Top Gun “get him back up flying, soon” so I packed her off to school today – although I did drive her rather than marching her up hill. No phone call yet so I think we’re back on track.

If I am honest, I am relieved to be back to normal. Em and Lucy we’re winding up each other splendidly. Em wanted peaceful play; Lucy was like an energetic puppy who couldn’t understand why the older doggy didn’t want to play chase. It all went Pete Tong! Especially as I was trying to entertain the rat man (deep joy, but at least there wasn’t a nest, or any under the house), the builder and the architect as the house was being destroyed around me.

The architect was very lovely, just like the builder. And they are promising to transform our house (and probably our bank account too). But we won’t be doing everything in one go. I suspect the roof will be first though as that is “toast”. They did though question the proposed sighting of our heat pump. So, despite giving the green light for our heat pump and HRV system on Monday, we are now back in negotiations. The result: a gloomy couple of Brits, struggling to make decisions in a world we don’t understand. We just haven’t been here long enough to understand how the house is in the cold, and how bad the weather gets here. It is troubling that part of us which loves researching and problem solving. But I have delegated to Steve – he is going to call the heat pump man today and have a chat through the options.

Talking of weather, it looks like summer is over. We are experiencing side-ways rain today. It is lashing down and very windy, and my trees are looking jolly bald as a result. In fact the wind started last night, when we realised just how draughty our windows are as doors were being blown shut and Stevie was being¬†buffeted¬†whilst washing up! Suddenly the builders’ suggestion to replace our lovely wooden frames with new powder coated aluminium ones during the re-clad seemed worthy of further consideration!! Worse still I have taken off my shorts and am typing this in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt. But the north island has been suffering from drought so all this rain is much needed. But what will become of my washing I wonder………..!

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Bodgit and Scarper

We started the day with pressies as it is NZ mothers day today. ¬†Emily had a chance to buy something from a special stall at school and chose a nice notebook. ¬†I’m genuinely impressed at the fact she got Josie something that was in character. ¬†There were loads of things at the sale some nice, some tat. ¬†Well done Em! ¬†In addition Emily and Lucy jointly ‘bought’ Josie a new rash vest. ¬†It’s pink and very flattering. ¬†She just needs a bikini now and her beach attire is sorted. ¬†I’m nowhere near brave enough to buy a bikini – it’s all very well knowing the right size, ¬†but I know Josie is particularly fussy with such things and to try and guess whether the cut would be right would be almost impossible… ¬†As she looked so good in the rash vest I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have waffles and bacon from breakfast! ¬†Very yums.

A knock on effect of choosing the heating and ventilation solution that Josie wrote about in the previous post, is that I spent half the afternoon with by head stuck in the loft hatch making it bigger.  The builders of the house had conveniently placed it in a cupboard and made it the size of a postage stamp.  We were advised that it would need to meet some minimum dimensions for successful system installation.

So having been out at a great birthday party in the morning I set about making the hole bigger. ¬†It was probably the first proper bit of house bashing I’ve done since we moved in. ¬†All the hole-drilling is easy stuff. ¬†Making a loft hatch bigger means altering noggins and/or joists depending on how big you want it. ¬†Thankfully it didn’t need to be as big as the one I stuck in our bedroom in the UK. ¬†That was huge.

After a fairly short time in which I had hammered, smashed, wrenched, drilled, screwed, cut and nailed we had a very slightly bigger loft hatch, now big enough to get the crucial gubbins up into. ¬†No joist surgery required thankfully…

Doing this work has made me very pleased that we choose a system which ventilates with external air, not roof space air, because the roof is full of what look suspiciously like rat droppings. ¬†I have no idea how old or new they are, so we’ll be getting the pest man round pronto-tonto. ¬†He kills pests, he’s not a pest himself… ¬†it’s like the blind man joke. ¬†There’s a nun in the bath and she hears a knock at the door. ¬†“Who is it?” she asks, “The blind man” comes the reply. ¬†The nun thinks there is no harm admitting a blind man to the room whilst she is naked so tells him to come in. ¬†The man opens the door and says “Nice boobs! – now, where do you want the blinds?”

The new hatch is most definitely at the ‘functional’ end of the spectrum when it comes to the amount of effort I put in to make it look nice. ¬†Still – it’s in a cupboard… what does it matter? ¬†I’ll probably chuck a bit of filler in the gaps and slap some paint on it eventually.

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