A Travellerspoint blog

World Cup Win, sunshine and cats!

sunny 18 °C

Thought it was time for another update.....

I had a lovely birthday....when I woke up the post box was stuffed full of cards so thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! A friend of mine that I met when I was teaching out here last time came over for lunch and a gossip and then Gerald took me out for a delicious dinner in CAC restaurant in Mount Eden- a great place for tapas and cocktails.

The school holidays seemed to whizz by and before we knew it the weekend of the Rugby World Cup final was upon us! We spent the Sunday morning volunteering at Cats in Need, a rescue home with around 100 cats and kittens - some with very sad stories of how they ended up there. We were both needing a cat fix and so gave them a hand cleaning out all the litter trays and cages before we got to play! Within seconds of sitting down I had a cat laying across my shoulders, one on my knee and about 10 wrapping themselves around my legs and Gerald was similarly covered in cats! We plan to help out once a month to get our fix until we get our own house when we will give a couple of the cats a 'Forever Home' as they call it there. I am already in love with at least 10 of them so I don't know how we will ever choose!
Our next stop was Paeroa, in the northern Waikato region. Our friends Alwin and Daisy own a dairy farm out there and as Daisy is due to give birth in the next week or so we thought we would fit a visit in before things get a bit crazy for them. Daisy is an amazing cook and I'm sure we left there a stone heavier after all the goodies she baked! Dinner was early so we could all be plonked on the sofa ready for 'The Big Game'. I don't think any of us were doing much sitting though as it was such an 'edge of your seat' event! There was no celebrating until that final whistle and despite only being a one point win - it was a win and now ALL of New Zealand is happy! Sky TV had a visit from The Cup yesterday so Gerald was able to get his photo taken with it.

I now have my own little class in my own classroom and it is so lovely having just 11 children! This week the whole school has had a daily trip to the local swimming centre for lessons. We all pile on the school bus after lunch and I get to watch them while someone else does the teaching for a change! NZ schools are so different from the UK. In the UK we would never dream of leaving the school premises without spare uniform, a first aid kit, a list left with the office of who exactly is on the bus etc and the bus would have to have a seatbelt for every child otherwise we would be going nowhere! Here we walk the kids down the road, barefoot, to where the bus waits, they pile in 3 to a seat if necessary - not a seatbelt in sight and off we go!

The weather is slowly improving, we had a great weekend out and about which resulted in me getting some interesting strap marks having forgotten to put suncream on before we went out - oops! We went on a lovely walk around the Orakei Basin near Auckland city doing a little bit of geocaching on the way - we are getting closer to our 100th find now! Then in the afternoon we were well fed again as our neighbours had a BBQ and a lazy evening was spent eating, drinking and chatting to them and their friends.

Last night we met up with Gerald's eldest sister Alison as she was visiting from Wellington for work. We had a good chat over dinner at Gina's Italian restaurant- another fave of ours that is pretty well known in Auckland. Their speciality is barechested, singing waiters presenting a cake to any female who happens to be celebrating their birthday. No singing waiters yesterday though!

That just about covers the latest turn of events....

Posted by bumblebum 21:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand life

We recommend it!

semi-overcast 18 °C

Kia ora to all!

A little update from the Land of the Long White Cloud....

I am currently on my school holidays which seems like great planning on my part seeing as I had 6 weeks off in the UK before leaving, worked for 5 weeks (3 of which were part time) and now I have another 2 weeks off!!! Next term is a short one for NZ, just 8 weeks long and then we break up for the 6 week Summer hols over the Christmas period! Gerald has now been at his job for just over a week and is really enjoying it, unfortunately he started just a couple of days before I broke up from school - c'est la vie! The best bit about NZ life is how much extra time we seem to have in our day as Gerald's commute has gone from around 1 1/2 hours each way to just 15 minutes each way! He now gets home not long after 5 rather than almost 7pm. My commute takes just over 5 minutes which is great but the biggest difference for me is that I am no longer senior leadership and therefore not responsible for anything - I just teach my class of 11 children, attend staff meetings, do my planning and I'm done so my stress levels are hugely reduced which can only be good.

The weather here is typically spring like with sunshine and showers. We have been getting up to temperatures of about 20 but you need to carry an umbrella around at all times as you never know when the next shower will be! Last weekend was mostly sunny and Gerald and I went out and about in the local area doing a little bit of our latest hobby - Geocaching. Through one of the caches we found a really beautiful lookout point just down the road from us which we will definately visit again.
Not only is geocaching a great way to explore an area and see some beautiful sights it can also serve as a great tool to aid a proposal so it seems - we heard the news that our friend Rod proposed to the lovely Toyah through a series of caches each with clues leading up to the magical moment! So congratulations to Rod and Toyah!

The agency that I got my job through informed me that I am eligible for a relocation grant having come from overseas. After I have been working full time for 6 weeks I will be given $2000 tax free and, if the school decide to make my job permanant, after 20 weeks I will get a further $2000. This was music to my ears after working out how much the move here has actually cost me with visa fees, medicals, police checks, flights, shipping the house contents and of course the car.

Talking of the car, it arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning after it's epic journey through 4 continents, making it almost as travelled as I am! After having all it's inspections by MAF and customs it was finally released and then had to go through a very rigorous compliance test and get it's Warrant of Fitness before being released to me so that I could get it registered and get my NZ plates - none of this came cheap of course and thank goodness I was not working and had time to sort it all out. Despite all the charges I am probably still slightly better off having shipped it than trying to sell it and buy the same car out here. So now the move is 100% complete - yay!

This weekend we are having our neighbours over to watch the rugby.....it's a huge weekend for the All Blacks. Everybody is praying that they win the cup on their home turf and that means they have to win against Oz this weekend to secure their place in the final.

Anyway this is where I will sign off

Posted by bumblebum 18:52 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Home Sweet Home....

...It's in St Heliers

sunny 17 °C

Time for an update......
2 weeks ago we moved into our rental place and spent the last 10 days living in an empty shell! Here are a few photos including the beach at the end of our road....
As our ship was not due until September 15th we were making do with a blow up mattress and a beanbag. Gerald's parents lent us a duvet and pillows along with a couple of plates, bowls, knives and forks to tide us over until our things arrived. We had been tracking our ship's journey everyday online and luckily it stayed on course and arrived on time. We had been informed that customs would take between 2 and 4 weeks to give our container the all clear so you can imagine our excitement when we got a phonecall on Monday to say they wanted to deliver the next morning!
Luckily I have had Tuesdays off work whilst I have been part time so we spent about 14 hours unpacking boxes and putting things where we thought they should go. MAF came to the house to do the inspection of the items that could be classed as a biohazard - luckily we 'passed the test' and got the all clear. Everything arrived in one piece which is quite amazing when you think everything we owned spent 7 weeks passing through several continents on the high seas! The house is now totally sorted and we are ready for visitors - we even have a spare room!

Gerald had a phone interview with Sky TV on the Monday and they really liked him so invited him for a second interview on the Tuesday meaning that he disappeared for a couple of hours during all the chaos! However it was worth it as he was offered the job AND we get free Sky TV!!!!

The day we moved in co-incided with the start of the Rugby World Cup, we were planning on heading into the city. I was working all day and by 3pm we were hearing that it was pretty hard getting into the city due the amount of people heading that way so we decided as we had no TV we would head to our local bar down by the beach to watch the game instead. We had just finished dinner when the fireworks started so pretty much the entire bar emptied out as we all crossed the road to watch them from the beach. It was quite spectacular seeing fireworks exploding over the city skyline.

We finally got a phoneline and internet on Friday which was great! Until that point we had been doing daily strolls to the library down the road to use their free wifi. Gerald was spending huge amounts of time there each day as I was at work and being in an empty house by yourself is not much fun! Unfortunately it also brought me the sad news that my Grandma had died. I obviously felt that I should go home for the funeral but Dad told me nobody, including Grandma, would expect me to, having only arrived here about 2 weeks ago and having just started a new job. Kirsten has decided to go home so she will represent me at the funeral which will be in Monday.

Life here is just about sorted, work is going well and I start full time from tomorrow. The only thing we are waiting on now is my car. It has just passed through the Panama Canal and is due here on October 7th, so fingers crossed it will all go as smoothly as everything else has.
So that just about covers the latest news.....

Posted by bumblebum 18:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 8 in the land of the long white cloud

sunny 16 °C

We landed in NZ a week ago today and life has been full speed ahead since we did!

In one week quite a lot has been achieved. After arriving, Monday afternoon was spent catching up with family. Tuesday was spent looking for a place to live but having no luck at all and then celebrating my sister Kirsten's birthday. I also got an email to say the agency had arranged 2 interviews for me on Wednesday morning. The schools could not have been more different....one was in a very socially deprived area, multicultural, with a high percentage of illiterate parents. The other was a catholic school in an affluent area, very white middle class, with parents who are heavily involved in school life. The first school interviewed me quite intensely and at the end offered me the job. The second school had a very informal chat with me as I was given a tour of the school and also offered me the job! So Wednesday afternoon was spent deciding which one to go for. I know most people would be thinking 'What's there to think about?' but I actually was tempted by both for totally different reasons.....anyway in the end I went for the 2nd one as it is very close to the area Gerald and I would like to live eventually whereas the other school would have been quite a commute each day down the motorway. I started today, part time for the first 3 weeks, which is quite nice and then I will be full time until the end of the school year in December. It is quite likely the job will become permanent after that which would be handy. I will be teaching the overspill class of New Entrant children (5 year olds for you non-kiwi folk!) so my class will be quite small and grow as the year continues.

Gerald has had a few agency interviews since arriving and so we are now waiting to see what they turn up for him. One of the agencies is trying to set up an interview for tomorrow so fingers crossed that all goes ahead...

We persevered with the rental market and have now found ourselves a lovely 2 bedroom unit in St Heliers, just a stones throw from the beach, for the next 6 months - perfect for the arrival of spring and summer! We move in on Friday and will be able to leave Kirsten and her housemates in peace again. Our new place is unfurnished as we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of all our belongings from the UK. The ship is due in next Thursday but then it has to be cleared by customs and MAF so who knows when we will actually get it all!!! My car will hopefully arrive not long after and in the meantime we have the use of Kirsten's car which is a lifesaver with all the zooming around that we have been doing.

This weekend we drove to Whitianga to visit Gerald's parents and unburden them of all the items they had been storing for us since we left last year! We also caught up with two of Gerald's aunts and an uncle while we were there, joining them for a delicious dinner and some live music in Cooks Beach. After leaving there we headed to Hamilton to stay with Gerald's brother David and his family. Alisa and Hugh, his niece and nephew were pretty pleased to see us and this morning we were woken by two little bodies joining us in bed before they had to get ready for school!

So there you have a week in life of Anita and Gerald!

Posted by bumblebum 01:39 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Best day of our lives!!!!

Upper class living

semi-overcast 30 °C

Picking up where we left off we had a fantastic last couple of weeks in the UK.

Our Big Cat Photoshoot at the Wildlife Heritage Centre in Headcorn, Kent was a fantastic day, we had 6 hours of getting up close and personal to photograph a huge variety of cats; lions, tigers, snow leopards, amur leopards, palace cats, servals, pumas and many more.
After leaving there we headed straight to Devon for a weekend in Dartmoor. We spent the next day with my grandparents and had intended on doing some walking on Dartmoor but the weather was awful and not having the appropriate clothing to deal with rain decided to head back towards home - doing a little bit of geocaching once we found some sunshine again.

That week we also had a day in London and decided to do an open top bus tour around the city in true tourist style. We met up with Gerald's cousin Tony who treated us to lunch in a lovely tea room and then jumped back onto the bus tour but, being England, it had to rain of course!

The next day we headed off to Somerset to a little place called Frome. We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel called Archangel. Our room was gorgeous with everything you could want including a roll top bath! The food was also delicious and we made full use of the huge array of breakfast items available. We spent the days exploring the area and had a ride on an old steam train on the East Somerset railway, visted Glastonbury Abbey where I got to hold an owl and climbed up Glastonbury Tor & Cranmore Tower for the amazing views. On the way home we stopped for a scrumptious cream tea in Marlborough. Friends of ours lived close by so they came and joined us and we decided to go geocaching together - after a couple of hours the iphone died, we had no GPS and were in the middle of the countryside with only a vague idea of which way the car was!!! We did manage to find our way back but arrived home much later than aticipated!!!!
Another couple of weeks spent having lunch/dinner with different sets of friends each day in a final bid to say our farewells to all before we left meant we were almost ready to head off but there was one last spanner in the works......
I had been trying to sell my car but it seems the car market is pretty depressed right now and there were no takers. After a horrendous offer of just £4000 from a dealer and a bit of research (my car would cost well over NZ$20,000) I made the last minute decision to ship my car to NZ! So after a few phonecalls and texts I found out all I needed to know, booked my car onto the next ship and filled out the necessary paperwork. I should see my car sometime in October....

So all that leads us up to our last 24 hours - today we have experienced a life that we could very easily get used to! Mum and Dad dropped us off at Heathrow and after teary goodbyes we began our taste of the 'celebrity lifestyle'. We checked in at the Upper Class desk and got the lift up to the fast track departures/immigration and followed the signs to the Virgin Upper Class lounge where we were greeted warmly. Our bags were taken by the concierge and we were invited to dine in the complimentary restaurant. Afterwards we headed to the complimentary bar and then had a wander around the lounge to see what else was on offer.....well it turns out there was a pool table, old school computer games consoles, giant TV screens, a salon, a delicatessen and a table full of huge jars filled with sweets. We most definitely did not allow enough time to make full use of all that was on offer.....then it was time to board the plane to Hong Kong. We got to go down our own Upper Class gangway to our seats. The upper class area had it's own bar and a menu that we could order from any time we liked with plenty of choice of starters, mains and desserts (we had eaten in the restaurant before boarding so were still too full to make good use of it all). As it was a night flight it wasn't long before I turned my seat into my fully flat bed. I managed to spend almost the whole flight sleeping soundly in my complimentary sleep suit under my duvet whereas Gerald spent it watching movies and saying 'yes' everytime he was asked if he would like another drink! Once I woke Gerald and I were able to eat breakfast together as my footrest doubled as a guest seat so we could both sit at the table. Our table was set with a tablecloth and napkins, we had real cutlery & glassware and they even gave us mini salt and pepper pots in the shape of aeroplanes! As if all that wasn't enough, after our speedy exit off the plane and out of the airport we were greeted by our chauffeur to drive us to our 5* hotel, Upper House. We then got to say 'WOW' all over again! We were shown to our room by Adriene who will be 'looking after us while we stay here' she showed us around our suite which is HUGE! We thought our room in Frome had everything we wanted but clearly not! This place has a king size bed that gets 'turned down' each night which includes slippers being placed on each side of the bed, a view over Victoria harbour, an ipod touch to use for music and information, a complimentary minibar - well they call it a 'maxibar' as it also includes tea, coffee and a variety of snacks, a massive TV and an L-shaped sofa looking over the harbour. The bathroom has a huge bath, a monsoon shower, his and her sinks, enough toiletries to last a month and a TV and sound system! There is also a walk in wardrobe area, just when we thought that was it the doorbell went and we were presented with a card and gift to welcome us! How will we ever go back to normal holidays after this?!

Well that's it for now :-) More photos to follow soon.....

Posted by bumblebum 07:47 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

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