Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sheds and Schools

I have decided that I our house is essentially not that different from the tree house that my Dad built myself and my brother and sister. It moves in the wind and the rain thunders on the roof. You can also feel the gusts through the windows just like in the tree house which had no glass. Double glazing seems to be unheard of over here.

We have been having some very windy and wet weather over the last few days. The gusts have been between 100-140km/hr and the rain has been falling in sheets. I was lying in bed last night and I could feel the whole house rattle and shake. It was like sleeping in a rather rickety old shed. I now realise why all the curtains in the house are so well lined, its obviously to keep out the drafts, a kind of linen double glazing. This morning there had been another landslide across the rail tracks causing delays into Wellington again and the sea was a murky brown colour as opposed to the glittering blue/green it is most days.

I have not been able to post over the weekend like I normally do as we have all been getting ready for my daughters first trial day at school. She gets to go to school for an hour today, Tuesday and Wednesday, to meet her teacher, class mates and get used to the routine. This happens for two weeks until she actually starts school on her 5th birthday. I think I have said before on my blog that I really like the NZ way of starting school on your birthday as it makes it all very individual. Well after the next month I will be able to confirm whether it works as well as I think it will!

This morning we picked up J (my oldest daughter) from Kindy just before 11am and took her across to the school next door. We were taken from the school office to her classroom. It was break time so there were kids milling around everywhere. Her teacher Ms Griffin introduced herself and showed J were to put her coat. J then met all her class mates (there are only 13 in her class) who came up to say hello. Most of them she already knew as they had been to her Kindy. J was led away by a nice girl called Holly and taken to do some drawing at a desk. From this point on it was clear I was no longer needed. So I tried very hard not to show that this was somewhat upsetting and took my remaining baby to have a hot chocolate and a fluffy in the local cafe.

When we returned an hour later the first thing J said was "can I not stay the whole day Mummy!". I am now obviously completely redundant!

This afternoon we went shopping to get a new school bag and lunch box.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Royal Beach and Barbecue

The sun came out this weekend and so we headed off to the beach at Queen Elizabeth Park.

"Kids in paradise" is how the man we met on our walk described this photo - I tend to agree.

Rolling down hills is always great fun!

I have decided that I am slowly turning into my parents as we have started to tour DIY stores on a Sunday. This weekend we came back with a barbecue. Despite the fact that spring has barely started it appears that we are not the only lunatics buying barbecues at this time of year. There were loads of other people loading them into the back of their cars.

My husband got lots of help and guidance putting it all together.

Unfortunately having taken a few hours to put the thing together, the sun had gone behind the clouds by the time it came to cook. However the sausages tasted great even though we ate them indoors. Hopefully this was just the first of many barbecues this year!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Six months in and what do you think?

It has been almost exactly 6 months since we first set foot on New Zealand soil. My husband stood on the deck and asked me if I could remember why we had first made the decision to move 12000 miles . I replied that I think it we had agreed for him to apply for the job and then if he got it we would see what happened. Well, 8 months later here we are standing watching the clouds catch on the mountain tops in the distance.

I think its safe to say now that we made the right decision. Life is good over here. The girls are the happiest I have seen them in a long time and although my better half is working hard at the moment he is slowly settling into the NZ work culture.

For myself I have finally discovered that Kiwis are actually just as reserved as the British and it takes a while to form friendships but I have now developed such a busy social life that I am barely at home during the week. We have playgroups, coffee mornings, kindy gym, music groups, dance lessons and play dates to arrange. Its a social whirl!

Okay, I realise that this is actually my daughters social life that I am tagging along on, but I have actually made a few good friends among the other Mums and they are able to remind me that I am still capable of adult conversations every now and then.

I have also finally put in my qualifications to be assessed so that I can teach over here. It took quite a while to get all my certificates and Academic Transcripts in order. It involved lots of late night conversations with a very nice but quite elderly welsh lady at my old University while I attempted to explain the urgency of the situation and could she please do the copies before going on her holiday to Spain!

There are still many things that I miss and I still have dreams of driving along familiar roads in Sussex and Wiltshire (and rather oddly the stretch of the M4 around Bristol). My family are the one thing that I really wish we could bring over with us. I am not sure that will ever get any easier but thanks to Skype I am able to talk to them every day. The girls demand to talk to Nanny and Grandad over breakfast most days and I would allow them to do this if it wasn't such a rush to get to Kindy on time.

Well this is my summary of our findings after 6 months living in New Zealand - Lets see what the next 6 months brings!
The girls about to go to their first ever disco. There were an awful lot of Fairies, Princesses, Batmans, Spidermans and even Buzz Lightyears at this disco!

For the first time ever we have made our own lemonade from our own lemon tree.

Licking the bowl clean is still as popular as ever.

My daughters manners have not improved over the last six months.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Signs of Spring

We have had a glorious weather for almost two weeks now. Its been fab. We have been out on loads of walks and to numerous parks and beaches. All the sunshine makes you feel so much better after the cold wet and rainy time we had before.

People have given me varied views on whether this means spring has sprung. One rather depressing view was that this was just a brief pause and colder wetter weather would soon return. Another person (who's opinion I prefer) says this weather is the start of better things to come. I certainly hope she is right!
I thought I would post some of the photos I have taken over the last two weeks which I think definitely indicate that Spring is on its way.

All this fresh air can be very tiring on little legs.

There is a great play area in the Botanic Gardens which was extremely popular when we went.

Coffee in the sun in the Rose Garden.

Lambs - very springy!

Snow capped mountains in the distance from sunny Wellington.

There is a lot of blossom around, which I am convinced is a sure sign of Spring.

Blossom at the Botanic Garden.

I am writing this having listened to the rain pounding on the roof this morning so it seems this weekend is not going to be quite as sunny as the last one. However my mini weather station does seem to think its 18C outside so perhaps things may still improve!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Horsing Around (Angels on horseback)

Inspired by reading another Wellington blog ( we decided to try the girls horse riding this weekend. We went to the Country Club Riding Academy ( in Oharui Valley about a twenty minute drive from us.
The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and as it was their first time on horse back where surprisingly unfazed by the size of the pony or the speed when trotting. Our pony was called Duchess and she was very calm (bordering on half asleep) and seemed to want to spend most of the time in the corner of the arena where the sun was shining. She kept walking around with us and as we entered the sunny corner, would become unstoppable and head straight onwards towards the fence and halt with her rear end facing into the sun. Having said that she really was the perfect horse for the girls to have their first ride on. She was very gentle with them when they tried to give her very passionate cuddles at the end of the ride.

The riding centre looked fantastic and caters for all types of riders. So next weekend I may well be going on a trek myself.

Very little people on a large stubborn pony.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Views of Wellington City

I have, for quite a few years, been intensely jealous of my brother and sister who live in Brighton. For anyone who doesn't know this city its lively, trendy and quite beautiful in places and located on the south coast of England. Its surrounded by the stunning Sussex countryside but still has all the culture and facilities that you would expect from a big city whilst only being moderately sized. Needless to say we have never been able to find jobs that would allow us to live in the area so I have had to put up with being envious from afar.

However having moved to the other side of the world I think I have finally found an area that has that magic combination of good access to the countryside and open spaces, but still contains all the best things that urban areas have to offer. Wellington is the kind of city that I think you can fall in love with. The approach to the city along the highway from the north is stunning on a sunny day with amazing views across the bay. The city itself, although not very big (Wellingtons population is only approximately 179'000 which makes it about the same size as Bournemouth in the UK) has all the facilities that you need and all are fairly easy to reach.

We took a walk around the centre of Wellington City this weekend and explored Cuba Street. This area has a very trendy, bohemian feel to it and is full of very interesting looking book shops, trendy clothing boutiques, coffee shops and odd stores filled with objet d'art. We would love to have spent a few hours investigating some of these stores but having two young children with us meant this was simply not a wise idea and we had to do a speedy review of the area instead.

Cuba street reminded me of a cross between the 1960's city centres of Swansea, Eastbourne and parts of Slough in the UK. I must admit the $2 shop doesn't have a very bohemian feel to it and this area in the photo below could be a street in Bracknell! I don't think my photos really do this area justice and I was unable to really take appropriate photos in this area as I was accompanied by two very tired and apparently starving individuals who moaned almost continually.

Traffic in the city is fairly bad particularly at peak hours - but that's the same in any country.

A Floating Orb!

Looking towards the harbour.

Climbing around on the waterfront.

Towards the container port.

The view from the waterfront.

Not another photo Mummy!