Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Upside of the Downside.

The only real downside of moving to New Zealand has been the fact that we are so far from family and friends. Sometimes you forget just how far away we are from everyone, especially when you can chat face to face over breakfast to everybody via Skype. However nothing compares to seeing people in person and being able to give someone a hug. So we have been absolutely thrilled that my Mum and Dad have made it over to us in time for Christmas.

We have been in New Zealand almost 9 months so its been a long time since we last saw them. Waiting at the airport brought it home just how far they have to come. For the previous day I was bombarded with questions about where Nan and Grandad are now, as if I could give them exact grid co-ordinates describing where the plane was at that particular point in time. In the queue at Pack N save "Wheres Nan and Grandad now?", "Er somewhere over North America". "Wheres that then Mum?"....and so it went on for 26 hours!

Waiting at the airport gate it was clear that the plane was loaded with Grandparents as there were other children waving banners with slogans like "Welcome Gran and Pops". Its clear that New Zealand is full of everyones grandchildren. I felt a bit remiss at not making a welcome banner myself but the girls gave Mum and Dad a great welcome and I thankfully managed to hold back the tears. We have been so busy over the last 9 months that I haven't had time to remember just how much I miss everyone.

The one good thing about living so far away is that when people come to visit you they have to come for a decent length of time. It costs so much and the distance is so great that you can't exactly just pop in for the weekend. This means that the time that my parents get to spend with their grandchildren is fantastic quality time and far more than they would likely to get if we lived around the corner from them. J has introduced Nan and Grandad to all her teachers and school mates. She will be taking them in for Show and Tell next! Of course it also means that my parents can come over for the summer weather and get to see New Zealand at the same time.

I must admit that I love having the extra help around the house and live in babysitters which has meant that P and I have had our first night out in over three years! The only thing that I am not looking forward to now is having to say goodbye to my parents - that is not going to be easy. However we are already planning our trip back to the UK next September so at least we know when we will see everybody again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nan & Grandad Arrive in New Zealand

After nine months of talking to the grandchildren on Skype the day finally arrived when we would see how the two girls were surviving in their new home, New Zealand. As we circled Wellington the pilot advised there would be some turbulence as we approached the airport, having seen the various horror videos on U Tube we braced ourselves and checked the seat belts.

Unfortunately we had arrived on one of the many days that Wellington experiences gales and after the first drift to the right and then the left everyone fell silent and white knuckles were the order of the day. I can only say the videos on U Tube do not do the landing justice, it is much more terrifying!

Even when the plane came to a stop the wind rocked it gently back and forth. It was really interesting to watch two burly porters trying to hold onto an elderly lady in a wheelchair as she appeared to kite surf off across the tarmac.

All I can say is, it was well worth it to see the family and the old hearts need a bit of kick start now and again.

First impressions are good and we like being asked if we have good day, the Kiwis have a way of making it sound genuine, must be the rising inflection at the end of the sentence. Not too sure of some of the favourite sayings, such as ‘too right mate’ or ‘no worries’, but my favourite so far is the one used by Kiwis women during most conversations ‘ I was gutted’. Somehow they manage to slide this one in regardless of the subject under discussion.

It is great being referred to as a ‘guy’ in restaurants and shops and you soon feel relaxed and at ease, nearly as laid back as the average Kiwis.

The access to the countryside is amazing and you cannot help but be blown away by the landscape which is every bit as beautiful as the tourist guides indicate. It was not long before we were off on our first hike into the forest following the adventurous route across rope bridges and paddling in freezing cold streams. We watched as our daughter and son in law show the children what fun it is too paddle in the river, the resulting sand flea bites which consumed several tubes of antihistamine cream over the next week were an unexpected hazard.
Oh it’s great to be old and wise!

If you visit any country park it soon becomes apparent that public enemy number one is the poor old Possum, an Australian the Kiwis would evidently prefer had stayed at home.

Warning signs abound advising all visitors that poison has been laid to kill the Possum. Something called 1080 appears to be the poison of choice but I notice not all Kiwis agree with the use of this chemical and there is rising concern over possible unknown side effects of such wide use.

Visited Wellington for the second time this week and cannot help but be bowled over by what is a really interesting city, clean air, great facilities and a great variety of people. It is a real mix of cultures that integrate in a way you rarely see in other cities in the world. The city has obviously had to adapt to the change and develop facilities for new business and commerce, but to and independent observer it has done this sympathetically without losing its character or heritage. The waterfront development is a good example of the changes implemented whilst retaining the heritage too which Wellington owes so much.

Had lunch on the waterfront yesterday, never seen so many joggers of various sizes and shapes using there lunch hour to repair the damage of late nights and good food. Could not quite understand why two elderly joggers were wearing life jackets, but perhaps they had fallen in the harbour on previous outings.

We are hear for the next three months so we hope to see more of New Zealand and if I am lucky M may let me use her Blog again to report on how we view life in the new world.