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Archive for July, 2010

Now we are 2

Got woken up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday by mum, dad and Emily screeching Happy Birthday at me – I mean, can’t a girl get any sleep round here. Still, I smiled and clapped just to make them feel better.

Then they dragged me into their room and kept passing me all these big parcels called pheasants or something. They couldn’t even be bothered to unwrap them for me, expecting me to do it all by myself. For goodness sake chaps, I’ve only got little hands!

Anyway, all these pheasants were pretty exciting. There were loads of my favourite friends in them – Peppa Pig, Igglepiggle, Mory – and some other jolly useful things like books, clothes, poozulls and toys. Oh and I got a shopping trolley of my own full of food, hoorahhh, trouble was it was plastic. I was gutted and got my own back by shoving plastic carrots in their faces demanding that they pretend to eat them!

Thankfully they then dragged me to the table and presented me with some proper food – a toasted English Muffin with chocolate spread on it, and a couple of candles (yes, I had to endure more singing). I’m not really clear why I’ve had to endure porridge and weetabix for the first 2 years of my life when there were clearly much better options for breakfast but there you go.

Then life got back to normal. Daddy ran out the door talking about always being late and mummy started clapping her hands and shouting chop chop, pointing at the clock a lot and trying to brush porridge out of Emily’s hair. But normality didn’t last long…..

Mummy showed me how to use my new fishing game, read a new book to me and then I was frog-marched to the car. She let me out at the play cafe and bought me my very own fluffy (non-NZ babies need to know that fluffy’s are frothy milk in a tiny cup) and mini-muffin because it was my birthday. Well to be honest I wasn’t that impressed by this fluffy thing despite mummy being all overexcited about it, but the muffin was tasty and just the right size to eat in one go.

When we got home, mummy let me watch an episode of Balamory from one of my new DVD’s before giving me my lunch and packing me off for a snooze telling me I had to get some rest because we had a busy afternoon ahead.

I woke up just in time to snaffle a biccie from mum and be driven up to school to pick up Emily. Then, instead of being driven home mummy started flapping with excitement about going to see daddy. Well that was nice, I thought, I’ll see him before night-time and get to spot some buses at the bus station too.

Finally he arrived and yes, you’ve guessed it, more of that dreadful singing. Eventually, after about 5 rounds of Happy Birthday, we got out at this strange blue building. Inside there were slides and toys and ball pools and moing moings (I think daddy calls them bouncy castles or something). It was sooooo exciting! Emily, daddy, mummy and I chased around and slid down the big slides and moing moinged until we were really tired. I even went in an aeroplane that went round and round when Emily drove a tractor – mummy called it a telly-go-round I think.

Back at home I watched some more of my new dvd with Emily as mummy and daddy made special birthday pizzas. Then, after a little cake and some yoghurt I was put into my pyjamas, told all about Peppa Pig’s trip swimming and tucked up for the night.

Birthdays are great – especially the chocolate spread on the muffin. Shame about all the singing though!

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Maritime Museum

We decided the other week that we need to try to get out of Auckland at weekends every now and then.  So this morning we decided to head over to the west coast and spend an hour or two at Piha.  Maybe do a bit of digging and then go for a walk along the beach and over the rockpools.

As we were driving that direction we were very sceptical of the lashing rain hitting our windscreen and the invisible horizon, hidden in a blur of bad weather.  So in a spur of the moment decision we hung a hard left and headed back into town because the Maritime Museum is free to Auckland residents at the moment.  Getting out of town will have to wait another couple of weeks.

The museum is an interesting mix.  Obviously being an island the sea is extremely important in the history of the people here.   The original tribes that are now collectively known as the Maori arrived here in big canoes from all over the Pacific.  Then there were a whole bunch of European explorers who dropped in to say Hi.  Later, the trade ships and passenger vessels would take 4 to 6 weeks to sail from London to Auckland.  Huge tall ships with 29 sails (Emily counted them) still in use up to 1957!  Then steam liners overlapped with that period and extended on into the future, and then of course came Air Travel.  This wasn’t part of the museum, but just for context, the first international flights to NZ were across the pacific on water planes!  Imagine the red line on a map part of Indiana Jones movies.  The earliest reference I can find to a London-Auckland route is 1963.  I think the first modern-flight (as we’d recognise it) on the same route was in the eighties!  So it just goes to show how recently the ocean routes were relied upon.

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Rotoiti Weekend

Finally got around to processing all the photos from the weekend down at Lake Rotoiti.  The details are on the the previous post my lovely wifey wrote.  Pictures below!

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I was a bit peckish the other day and had a rifle through the snack drawer. There is an open bag of Pascall’s Pineapple Lumps which our lovely friend Jo bought for us in celebration of our 1 yr anniversary in NZ. They are an NZ institution.

Anyway, Pineapple Lumps are chewy sweets (sort of Refresher consistency for UK buddies) covered in chocolate. They’re quite tasty but not really something I could buy every week.

Back to the story. So, out jumps a Pineapple Lump and it landed squarely in my mouth. And then there was a crack, and then a crunch, and then I was scrabbling around in my mouth trying to identify the crunch bits. Alas it was a selection of tiny fragments of tooth 😦

So my first reaction was “no more money, there’s none left, I’m too expensive, Steve will need to get a cheaper wife.” In fact I even cried on his shoulder when he got home.

The next morning, after leaping through the ceiling in pain when I tried brushing my remaining half a tooth, I decided I had to sort it, even if it is going to cost $1000. After a tip-off from our friends down the road, I booked into their dentist. Unfortunately I had to wait 1 3/4 hrs for an appointment…….! Roanna and Zoe looked after Lucy and off I went.

It was in a small shopping courtyard, not in a converted house like in the UK. There was no one waiting and the receptionist was charming. I filled out my form which asked if I was nervous (hell yes was my answer to that one) and out popped my dentist, Jenny, to take me to her torture chamber.

She had a prod round, told me I was brushing my teeth too hard (eh!) and showed me exactly what she was going to do. Just a filling but it needed a bit of drilling first. She was lovely. Very good at telling me what was going on and very good at giving me lots of injections to cope with my sensitive teeth. I can’t say it was enjoyable but it gave me a bit more faith in dentistry. The charge….$200. I was relieved. It is a lot of cash but it could have been worse.

She said I should come back for a longer inspection despite having a pretty good poke about she wanted to give them a thorough check. So I asked at reception how soon they could fit me in……oh we can usually get you in within two days!!!!!

So, in conclusion, dentistry is a bit different over here. They have great bedside manner; remove the mystery of teeth so you know what is going on; and you don’t have to book three months in advance. Amazing.

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Photo Catch-Up

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Back Log

Well Emily is back at school now after two weeks off. Life is returning to normal. But we are very behind on blogging, for which I apologise profusely. We are particularly behind on piccies.

Last week was mega-busy. I had a jam-packed time with the girls – we went to see a children’s theatre company production of The Little Mermaid; Em went to an art class where she did a fab picture of a Kiwi; and we hit the beach playgrounds hard once Em had got over her sickness bug.

But more important was our trip to Lake Rotoiti with our lovely friends Jo, Jake, Ella and Nathan. Originally planned as a mid-Winter Christmas, we ended up just having a super weekend away. We drove down on Friday morning after managing to leave dead-on-time. Of course it was only 50km into our journey when we realised we’d forgotten pillows and a few other bits. Never mind, at least we left on time 😉

We got down to the Bach (on loan from Jo’s sisters’ in-laws) at about 3pm, threw the gear inside and went off to look at the lake and play on the local playground. The kids were ecstatic to see each other – Nathan and Em went to Kindy together and Lucy and Ella are only 3 months apart in age so they all get on swimmingly. In fact that was truly lovely, Ella and Lucy were actually playing together on occasions. Lucy has a proper friend 🙂

On Saturday the kids helped us out of bed at stupid o’clock and we were out and about shortly after 9am. We went off to see Paradise Park in Rotorua where they had lovely walkways and enclosures for everything from lions to wallabys to trout. We were very brave and made Lucy walk all the way rather than taking the pushchair – another sign of her having grown up. It was lovely there, particularly the stream running through it with loads of trout doing that clever staying in one place whilst swimming thing that they do. We liked it a lot 🙂

Then we tried to get onto the Gondola for a luge ride but it was broken. Even after a quick trip round the supermarket to grab stuff for dinner, and a walk round the bubbly mud and sulphurous pools of Rotorua, they still hadn’t fixed it so Em and Nathan had to make do with a blast round a playground on Lake Rotorua.

On Sunday we packed up and left at 10am to have brunch at the infamous Fat Dog in Rotorua. Oh my word. I was a very fat mummy after my french toast and fruit stack! We then all waddled back to the cars to see if the Gondolas were working. Thankfully they were and Emily did two luge runs with Steve, and one with me. Fascinating how relaxed kids are about speed and heights…… Nathan and Emily loved the luge. So lovely to see such happy faces.

We left Rotorua at about 2pm and drove home reflecting on a lovely weekend. Highlights include: Lucy learning how to say dude (Jo calls Nathan Dude and Lucy has got the intonation Jo uses down to a tee); Nathan trying to persuade Em and Jake that playing Lego at 430 am was a good thing to do; Ella and Lucy having matey fun; Jo’s face when her blueberry waffles arrived at the Fat Dog; but most importantly, being able to spend two evenings in the wonderful company of Jo and Jake without any kids interrupting. It was smashing and we feel very much refreshed 🙂

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why bother?

So there I was on our 365th day in New Zealand getting up at 6am, eating wholemeal pikelets with banana, raisins and maple syrup, drinking Powerade and getting myself mentally prepared to run 21km. Yep Sunday was my first half marathon. What a way to celebrate a year in NZ.

I left the family tucked up in bed – they were getting the bus down for about 10am – and drove down to Takapuna for 715am and sat shivering in the car for a bit. We have had a number of beautiful, sunny, bright blue days this week but they also mean clear nights and drop in temperature. To be honest this is pretty hideous in your house with your duvet over you, but even worse when you are wearing shorts and a tshirt as the sun is crawling out of bed. I’m not sure how cold it was on Sunday morning but I still had cold hands after running 21km!

The start was scheduled for 8am but it was delayed by 15 mins (you should have heard the groan from the chilly crowd when they told us). Eventually we were off and pounding the streets of the North Shore. There were about 2000 of us, some doing the 21km, some doing 10km and some doing 6km, and I had started about three quarters of the way back in the pack so I had lots of people to pass. For these races everyone wears a timing chip which you lace onto your shoe. This provides the Net time – the time from the start gate to the finish gate. You also get the Gun time which is the time from the starting gun to passing through the finish line. So it doesn’t matter where you start if you’re not an elite runner because the time everyone is most interested in is the Net time.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it! It was a clear, sunny day and not too hot. The views across the harbour to central Auckland were fantastic and the sea was sparkling as we ran up and round North Head in Devonport . It was just fab. I’d spent a lot of time thinking about my diet and my hydration and it really paid off. Even with two loo stops and a Samaritan stop to help a poor woman who had fallen over and cut her face really badly, I ran it in 2hrs 3 mins and 10 secs, coming 49th in my age group and 142nd out of 180 women. The kids and Steve were there to welcome me home as I ran off the beach and through the finishing chute. I’m so chuffed about it. It all means I am well on track for a good marathon – 15 and a half weeks to go now so official training starts now.

I know I talk a lot about my running but it really is about me finding time to be me; discovering what Josie can do when she isn’t a mum or a wife. It gives me time to think and something to work towards. And in many ways I am running for the life I maybe wish I had attempted to live. I was a very good runner as  child but I never had the confidence to do anything about it.

And that is the fantastic thing about running – it isn’t something only for the young and you can still be fast in your 40’s and 50’s. On Sunday I ran alongside kids; mums like me; dedicated sportsmen and women; pensioners; friends running for a cause; couples running in love; those chronically overweight struggling to walk; those still overweight but running, despite the obvious discomfort; a man without full use of his legs; a young woman without arms; and even a blind woman running alongside her guide.  Every one of those 2000 people had their own reason for taking part. It is truly inspirational being part of something.

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One Year Ago…

…today we were sitting in the coffee shop of New World Supermarket, down by the wafterfront in Auckland CBD, jet lagged to hell, waiting for our apartment to be made ready.  We were sitting next to another family from the same flight we’d disembarked from just a couple of hours earlier… was this the only coffee shop open?

It’s been an incredible year and seems like a lot longer.  It’s all been documented here of course, so I’m not going to do a hugely long summary of a year type post.  We did do one of these yesterday for an emigration forum that we used a lot when preparing to come out – hopefully it will be of some use to others in their personal journeys.

The major take-away we were aiming for from that six page tome, was that we got here through determination, planning and a lot of very hard work.  We’ve had a couple of lucky breaks, but we’ve had a couple of unlucky setbacks as well.  Seizing the opportunity of the breaks and brushing off the setbacks has been critical.  There have been many comments against that post some which mention the word ‘inspirational’.  This is a huge compliment and very exciting for us.  I know of at least one and probably more people who have made big life changing decisions because they were at least partially inspired by our journey.  This was a completely unexpected but incredibly rewarding side-effect of our adventure.

The other major factor in us making this a success is knowing how much utterly fantastic support we’ve got from the people who are most important to us.  We are very thankful for that support.

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I’m rather pleased to be $30 richer after entering and couple of photo’s into a competition at work.  There were two categories, one was simply an open category and the other was work related.

I won first place in the open category out of about 30 or so entries.  My winning photo?  One you’ve seen before if you’ve been following us for a while.  Last year we visited a gannet colony next to Muriwai beach and I got some really clear shots of the birds swooping around our heads.

The winning shot was this one!

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Kia Ora!

Language is a funny thing.

I was driving in the car this week when it suddenly occurred to me that both my children were talking at me. Now obviously I found this pretty alarming – no peace for another 15 years or so. But on the bright side, it is delightful to hear Lucy happily declaring “I do do mummy” (I love you mummy) and shouting at all the fruit and veg she recognises in the veggie shop. And I mean SHOUTING!

Language for Emily is similarly dynamic. She has developed a bizarre, semi-incomprehensible drawl where all the words seem to get wrapped round her tongue. I am not sure whether it is the beginning of the end of her beautiful English accent, or just a “stage” – who knows. She already comes out with lovely Kiwi-isms like “for real” and “awesome” although I am hoping the “eh” which appears on the end of sentences here doesn’t attach itself to Em.

Meanwhile I have decided that I need to be tested on my spelling here. Because the vowels are sounded differently, I struggle when people spell out the words for me. Examples  include “eggs” becomes “iggs” and “emily” becomes “Imuly” and “fish” becomes “fush.”

And then of course there are the Maori words and place names which I will save for another email. Toodle pip for now as they say in Blighty.

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