Saturday, October 12, 2013

Moody Weather

We have actually been on holiday during the last two weeks. Well three of us have. Unfortunately the other half was unable to get more than a long weekend off with us. I also question whether I was exactly on holiday. Quite often being at home with the girls can be harder work than going to my official paid work!

We made the most of the opportunities we had together and tried to get out to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. The very unpredictable spring weather had other plans, and attempted to strongly encourage us to stay indoors for most of the holiday.

Us Brunts are a hardy lot though and we still managed to get out and attempt to wear the dog out as much as possible.

This is Korokoro Dam. It is a beautiful walk but my photos do not do this area justice. The colours are too muted and dull.

We took a day trip to Wanganui (or Whangnui no one seems to be able to decide how it should be spelt!). Having driven from Wellington for two hours hoping to find some sun we discovered that Wanganui was actually going to be the wettest part of New Zealand on that particular day.

I still love this town even in the pouring rain. We found a very odd hidden bamboo forest by the river with lots of mysterious paths leading to secret fishing spots. It was an oddly eerie place mainly due to the huge looming fallen trees partially hidden by the bamboo shoots which must have been brought down in the recent stormy weather.

The girls were very disappointed it was just too wet to have a go at this rather unique play area.

The threatening sky made Victoria Park look spookily pensive and dark.

On the last Sunday of the holiday the sun came out and we truly took advantage of living by the sea.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Almost there!

It has been a couple of weeks of feeling like we are constantly "almost there". Life is once again full on and the weeks have wizzed past in a blur of school runs, busy days at work and bouts of annoying illness. 

We are now, thankfully only a few days away from a much needed end of term holiday. Spring is beginning to arrive and we have seen glimpses of the summer sun and spent the odd sunny few hours in just t-shirts and sunglasses. We have all had the flu and it is still stubbenly refusing to leave us completely meaning that he girls are still slightly snuffly and pale looking when I pick them up from school.

However we have had one very good piece of news this term. We have finally had an offer on our house in the UK. Like many expats when we moved to NZ over four years ago we rented out our UK house. And like many people who bought when we did, our rent failed to cover our mortgage. So over the past few years we have had to send money back to the UK to cover the shortfall on our mortgage. As well as paying rent over here!

So six months ago when be brought our house in NZ, we very bravely decided to kick out our UK tennants and put the house on the market. We have then had months of worry whilst paying two mortgages. Well finally we have had an offer and accepted it! Yippee! Lets hope it all goes smoothly from now on.

I have spoken to many expats who have been in similar positions to us. I do not know what the best solution is. Some have been renting out their property for years and an unlucky few have had theirs on the market for years. With the recent change in mortgage rules over here it is very handy to be able to sell your UK property and come over with a decent deposit otherwise you will have trouble (as some of our friends have) even getting on the property ladder here at all.

I am just grateful that we secured our home when we did. It is so great to be in a house we own and can alter to our own somewhat individual taste. Hence the latest addition to our household. This is Bob the elephant.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reaching the Pinnacles

It has been a gorgeous spring weekend and we made the most of the sunny weather by visiting the Wairarapa region. Its a great drive from Wellington, over the windy and towering Rimutaka mountains and down into the lush green carpeted farmlands of the Wairarapa.

One of the great things about living here is the ability to spend your weekends out in the great outdoors exploring new walks and landscapes. We found a particularly exciting place to visit this week and ended up exploring the Putangirua Pinnacles. These strange rock formations formed the back drop in Lord of the Rings when Aragon goes to find the army of the dead. 

Despite the bright sunshine the area does have an eerie feeling, and along with the many warning signs for possible falling rocks it doesn't make you want to hang around and eat your picnic near the towering rocky outcrops.

However, the hour long walk to reach the Pinnacles does have plenty of great sunny spots for picnics.

I believe the rock formations are made as the whole area is a raised estuary and the rock is constructed of clay and the rocks and loose stones from a river bed. The clay erodes quickly leaving the larger stones supporting the material above and forming the weird tower formations. We were lucky enough to find several semi fossilised shells.

The walk is also made all the more exciting by the couple of stream crossings you have to make. It is deeper than it looks!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sleeping with Hedgehogs

As any expat will tell you, the secret to making a new country home is to put yourself out there and meet people.Well we have been extremely lucky and managed to meet some great people, some of whom we now regard like family.

I still like to get out and meet people and I will admit, I have an ingrained need to feel useful. So I have a weakness for volunteering and agreeing to do things even though I don't always have the time to fit everything in.

This compulsion to be needed has led to a very enjoyable but very busy few weeks. I volunteered to look after me daughters indoor soccer team and to become a Scout Leader for my other daughter. My extremely limited knowledge of soccer makes looking after my daughters team a bit challenging, but watching them win a game and encouraging them to keep battling on is great fun.

Becoming a Scout Leader is also hugely rewarding and has already led to an opportunity to do something very few people get to do. Last week we got to spend a night at Wellington Zoo and take a look behind the scenes. Myself and the other Leaders, and twenty odd very excitable 6 and 7 year old's, got to sleep at the Zoo and feed a few of the animals as well!


Wellington Zoo has a special room equipped with live Hedgehogs, Blue Tongued Lizards, Rats and a stuffed Lion for you to sleep in. When we walked into these fantastical sleeping quarters I have to admit that I was just as excited as the kids. 

We were given a guided tour of the zoo by two very knowledgeable guides and although six year olds have the attention span of guinea pigs on cappuccinos, I found it all fascinating even if we did have to move quickly to avoid loosing the wondering kids in the dark.

I may never visit South Africa in reality, but at least I can now say I have been woken by the sound of Lions roaring in the distance. So despite the fact that I have been totally exhausted for the past week, my house looks like a war zone and the kids are moaning that there is no food in the house, we have still had a fab week :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rocking and rolling again!

Another weird and surreal few days in Wellington. 

On Friday afternoon I was with my Year 13 Geography class in the computer room. It was the last lesson of the day and I think, as normal on a Friday afternoon, mentally most of their brains had already left the building. They were planning what they were going to get up to during the weekend and only about ten percent of their concentration was going into the task I had set them.

At 2.31pm the tiled floor of the room began to shake. I think I probably stood still for a few seconds to check I wasn't imagining it and when I looked up all eyes in the room were on me! I told them to get under the desks and dived under the nearest one myself. The ten students turned to me and a few dived under as well, but a few predictably stood there and laughed until the big jolt came and then they all ended up crowded together under the desks as the monitors rattled overhead. 

I huddled under the desk as the shaking got bigger and thought to myself "you're not bloody laughing now" as the pile of books I had placed on the desk moments before toppled over.

I think it really only lasted about a minute at the most and slowly we all emerged rather shaken. The kids had lost their bravado and were all looking at me for answers about what would happen now. I didnt want to tell them I wasn't sure as the earthquake drill was planned for next week. So I headed to the doorway in the hope of seeing a member of senior management. 

Thankfully one appeared and told us to keep the kids calm and in the classroom. Easier said than done!

Most of the kids got on their cellphones to try and get hold of family. Initally the networks were too overwhelmed but finally most were able to check everyone was okay. It was at this point that the kids asked me if there was going to be a bigger quake and if the "big one" was going to hit Wellington. I am a Geography teacher but not a siesmologist! I was honest with them and said I really didn't know. 

You know something is scary when an 18 year old boy looks to you for reassurance.

Like most people in this region I wanted to get hold of my own kids and check the other half was okay in Wellington. Thankfully he works in a building with Quake Breakers so is relatively safe. As it turns out Wellington came away from this quake, again relatively unscathed. It was rather surreal watching the mass exodous from the city. Most city workers were told to head home after the quake as they were many large aftershocks. As the trains were haulted this meant that many people were left stranded and ended up hitch hiking. The state highway became packed with cars full of strangers swapping survival stories.

My kids were well looked after at their school and friends offered to pick them up if I could not get to them. Its very reassuring that despite the fact we have no family over here we have made lots of good friends that have become like family.

Events like this bring people together and I have swapped stories with nieghbours and people I met at the takeaway last night. The description of the hot fat in the vats swaying back and foward onto the floor was very memorable. 

Do these recent events make us regret moving to New Zealand? No. Earthquakes are scary but, like all extreme events, make you more aware of whats important in life. The life we have over here is not something I think we could achieve anywhere else. I sincerely hope that the faults beneath us will settle again and go back to sleep, but if they don't, we will just take all the precautions we can and carry on with life!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thoughts of immortality

The photo above is of my Great Grandparents grave in England. My parents visited it last week for the first time in about forty years. I have heard a lot about my Great Grandparents and feel I know them even though they died years before I was born.

For various reasons my Mum was raised by them and lived with them until the age of fourteen. I have listened to my Mum's tales of climbing mountains and the gentleness and kindness shown to her during her childhood. Which I think explains why my childhood was so idyllic.

When my parents visited the grave last week they were shocked to see that my Great Grandmothers name was not on the stone. It appears she was buried there but no one had got the name engraved. 

This, obviously was very upsetting and no one has any idea why this was not done. So my parents are going to get the stone cleaned up and my Great Grandmothers name added.

You are probably wondering why I am writing about this in an expat blog. Well, it prompted me to start think about mortality and how we would all like to be remembered and the fact that I am unable to visit the graves of people I love as we live so far away now. Does this matter? How should we remember people?

I have given this a lot of thought over the past few years. Unfortunately my Grandmother passed away last year and obviously I was unable to attend her funeral. The cost and practicalities of travelling back to the other side of the world were just too prohibitive. This was a very difficult time. My Nan meant a lot to me and played a huge part in my life. My daughter is named after her. 

I have come to terms with her passing by reminding myself of the ways in which she is still with us. I can see her in the face of my children when they are stubborn and refuse to give in when faced with something frightening or challenging. Her hand made quilt is on my bed and the kids still take the pink teddy and dog she gave them to bed each night. The advice she gave me when I rang her in tears when my eldest cried continually for six hours, will be treasured and passed onto my own kids. I think this is the way loved ones should be remembered. 

So although I am unable to visit my Nans grave, I have not forgotten her and she is still with us in so many ways. I still carry the guilt of not being able to attend her funeral but I believe that Nan understood. After all she was the one who told us to move to New Zealand. 

So getting back to my Great Grandmothers grave. Although her name is not yet on the gravestone and has not been for over forty years, she has by no means been forgotten. Her actions in life created currents and repercussions that are still being felt two generations on. Because she gave my Mum a loving and secure childhood, my Mum was able to give that to me and my siblings. And the values and beliefs she passed on are still being passed on to my children today. 

I think that is the way people should be remembered, by their actions and the people they loved, not by what is written on a gravestone.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Earthquakes and the underside of tables.

Moving to NZ has really highlighted the importance of having sturdy dining room tables. Twice yesterday we had to dive for cover under ours and I have become incredibly grateful that when choosing our table two years ago we decided upon one of the largest and sturdiest in the shop.

Wellington has had two of the largest quakes the city has seen in many years. The first occurred on Sunday at just past 7am whilst we sat eating breakfast around the dining room table. It started with a large jolt, at which point we all stared at each other for a few seconds and then when the walls started to shake and the floor began to rumble we dived under the table, along with the dog.

We huddled together clinging to the table legs for a good 30 seconds whilst the dog merrily wiggled between us. I think he was probably wondering what on earth we were all doing getting down to his eye level for once.

The morning quake, although a bit worrying did not feel that scary. It was the one that occurred after five that evening which really shook me up. Quite literally. I was not at home when it occurred and was sitting around a dining room table chatting to four other adults, in an unfamiliar house. When the ground began to shake beneath us we all looked at one another and someone shouted "get in a doorway". So we all ran to the same doorway and tried to squeeze in together. It was a new build, open plan house, which didn't appear to have many doorways!

When the shaking subsided twenty seconds later I think all our nerves were a little unsettled. We all immediately tried to ring our respective houses and had trouble getting through as everyone in the Wellington region desperately tried to check loved ones were okay. 

My other half and the kids had once again all dived under the dining room table but they all seemed unfazed when I finally got through to them. They were more upset that there movie had been rudely interrupted.

The Wellington region has luckily been largely undamaged by the earthquake which had a larger magnitude than the deadly Christchurch event. Wellington city is eerily quiet today and many people who work in the CBD are working from home like my other half. Buildings in the CBD have been damaged and the fallen masonry and cracked roads pictured in all the news bulletins does bring it home just what powerful forces we are dealing with.

I think the emotional toll of this event is going to have more impact than any of the physical damage caused. Wellingtonians are a resilient bunch but people I have met today are still pretty shaken up. Everyone who lives in this region is fully aware we live with an active earthquake risk, but this event has forced people to face exactly how big and how likely that risk is. 

I popped to the supermarket this morning and almost all the bottled water had sold out. According to the chatty checkout lady they had sold thousands in emergency kit and water supplies in the few hours they had been open. This was mentioned as I placed my six litres of bottled water on the checkout.

Discussing yesterdays event with my girls I asked them were they happy still living in New Zealand even with the scary earthquakes. My eldest had no hesitation in saying that the earthquakes were not that scary anyway and she definitely still wanted to live here. My youngest looked at me and was obviously thinking deeply. "I want to live with Nan and Grandad" she announced. "What you don't like New Zealand anymore" I said rather worried that she had been shaken up by the days events. "No I just want to live with Nan and Grandad and all my family, they can live in my room with me". Phew, clearly six year olds aren't that bothered by major earth movements.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Grey and misty walks

We took Ted for a walk in Queen Elizabeth Park today. We have had bright sunny weather for the past two days and then as soon as the weekend arrived the cloud and mist descended.

It did lead to some rather cool colours in the sky today. Everything turned an ominous grey green colour and so I took my camera along and tried to capture the eerie atmosphere.

The tops of the hills remained shrouded in mist all morning. 

I love the colours and textures on these hills. They look almost furry in this photo.

Couldn't even see Kapiti Island this morning.

The girls and I decided that goblins and fairies inhabit this tree. It just has that magical look about it.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The many joys of dog walking.

I had forgotten how much fun dog walking is. Its strange that you can get so much joy from watching a small puppy run at break neck speed from one side of the inlet to the other. Or watching the puppy bury his nose into the sand and jump on all fours whenever we go on the beach just because he enjoys the sensation of sand between his paws and up his nose. He is also rather intimidated by the way the sea washes back and forwards and refuses to get his feet wet, but will happily jump in the deepest muddiest puddle he can find elsewhere.

The weather has improved since my last rather depressive last post, so we have been taking advantage of the winter sun and been taking our enthusiastic puppy on lots of walks.

I am trying to be the responsible dog owner and carry around the obligatory little plastic bags to pick up the numerous and seemingly very frequent deposits the dog makes. Can't say I enjoy that part of dog ownership! We also stick to the rules requiring you to have the dog "under control at all times", hence Ted is still on the extendible lead at the moment.

I thought I had trained him sufficiently to let him off the lead earlier in the week. This resulted in a panicked chase scene as he decided a passing jogger was more interesting than me and my bag of treats, and promptly decided to follow her home instead at great speed. Luckily my eldest daughter gave chase and the kindly jogger stopped and held onto the dog until we were able to catch up.

So until a lot of further training has occurred Ted will remain on the lead.

During our first few weeks of dog ownership in NZ we have discovered a few differences between here and the UK. You have a few more restrictions on where you can take your furry friends for walks. Due to the fragile generally feathered nature of the local wildlife most reserves and country parks require dogs to be on the lead at all times. Also any areas where there are likely to be livestock have similar restrictions. We haven't found that this is too restrictive so far and Ted has had plenty of opportunities to run free and hopefully get tired out.

The other unusual requirement is registering the dog with the local council. Earlier this week I had to pay our council one hundred and fifty five dollars for the priviledge of owning Ted. I recieved a small numbered disc for Ted to wear on his collar and the knowledge that if he gets lost or into trouble the council will know where to find me and be able to charge me for his misdemeaners. Apart from that I am not really sure what exactly I paid for. I assume its all to encourage responsible dog ownership. I shall look into this in more depth and report back!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Winter blues and holidays.

This has been one hell of a term, to put it mildly. At one point I was not entirely convinced we would all survive until the holiday. We have had bouts of flu, falling trees, power cuts, exams and assessments to mark, work trips and many many soccer matches. It just feels like we have all been clinging onto the treadmill in desperation to reach the end of this never ending term.

Okay, that's a touch dramatic. But I am rather tired. It is probably something to do with the weather. Wintry weather in Wellington never gets as cold as it does in southern England but we have had a lot of wet and windy days and maybe the fact that we missed out on the Kiwi summer (we visited a very snowy UK over Christmas) has meant that we are all missing the sun and a good dose of vitamin D.

It does feel like the depths of winter here at the moment. We are all tucked up at home again this Sunday as Wellington is experiencing another storm. I am rather nervously watching the trees in our back garden again and hoping that they all remain standing this time. The Aborist seemed fairly convinced that the large one (over 25ft tall) by our back door would not fall on our house. I am sitting here watching it move at the base and preparing to duck under the table if it decides to go!

This picture was taken in our road. The tree was originally covering the whole road but the council cut it in two so that at least one car could get past.

This post is turning into one long moan. I clearly need a holiday. Well one great thing about being a teacher is that I do get good holidays that coincide with the kids. So I will post later in the week in a much more cheerful tone describing all the fun things we intend to do this week.

A bit of advice for surviving Kiwi winters
  • Get outside on the sunny days. Miserable weather rarely lasts for more than one day so get out and enjoy the sunny ones when they occur.
  • Wear layers of clothing and always something waterproof. Weather changes rapidly and is unpredictable.
  • Tie down anything that is likely to blow away in your back garden. It gets windy in Wellington!
  • Buy marshmallows. Hot chocolate and marshmallows is a must in wintry weather.
  • Pre-order plenty of dry wood for the stove (something we failed to do!). The lack of central heating and no or very little insulation means houses cool down quickly when the southerly hits.
  • Do not go on holiday to a northern hemisphere country and miss the Kiwi summer!

Just to prove that we do actually have plenty of sunny weather in winter, here are some pics taken this week during the sunny cold days.

We have had some great weather for windsurfers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Frozen Pitches and Freezing Toes

Sport in this country is taken very seriously. Being of an unsporty disposition this has come as a bit of a shock. I attempted several sports as a child but failed to find one that I was any good at apart from Horse Riding. I wasn't particularly good at that either but I was able to generally stay on unless attempting jumping when I normally ended up laying on the arena floor whilst the horse completed the rest of the jumps solo.

My girls have spent the majority of their childhood in New Zealand and so have been indoctrinated into the Kiwi love of sports. They are both already strong swimmers and have become keen soccer players as well.

Saturday and Sunday mornings in winter are no longer opportunities for long lazy lie ins. Parents all over the country appear to willingly wake up at the crack of dawn on the weekend to escort their offspring to a multitude of sports events. Local fields in this area become covered in swarms of enthusiastic kids playing soccer, touch rugby; hockey and netball. All the while watched by parents drinking mugs of hot coffee and stamping their feet on the crisp semi frozen early morning grass.

All these games are organised by volunteers. Normally dedicated parents willing to give up their free time at weekends to coach a bunch of snotty six year old's who could potentially grow up to be the next famous All Black or All White player. These people are amazing and their enthusiasm and effort is really appreciated by the boys and girls in these teams. And their parents.

My girls both play in soccer teams and thoroughly enjoy their weekend games. I can't say that I always enjoy getting up at silly o'clock on a weekend morning and having to stand in a freezing field (often in the pouring rain and gale force winds) for hours at a time. However the skills and experience that the girls get from playing as part of a team and the determination they demonstrate when playing against teams twice their size is worth all the hardship I have to go through.

The coffee van and sausage sizzle helps too!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wild Wellington Weather

It has been a very odd couple of days. Wellington really lived up to its windy reputation in spectacular fashion. Thursday afternoon when picking the kids up from school I thought it was windy when I had difficulty shutting the car door, but it was nothing compared to what was coming later.

Once we got home about five o'clock we noticed the wind picking up and the lights began to flicker. So I dug out our emergency kit and found all the torches, candles and matches. It was a good job I did as about half eight the lights went out and I found myself sitting in the lounge in pitch black whilst bits of twigs and leaves were thrown against the windows. It was a surreal and slightly scary experience.

I should point out that we live in the middle of a reserve surround by native forest. So there are a lot of trees around the house and a lot of things that could potentially fall on the house. I was also alone with my two girls as my other half was on the other side of the region at an evening meeting.

So when the lights went out I went and got my girls and we all retreated to my room climbing into bed to keep warm with the dog as well! 

The noise was astounding, and looking at the debris in the garden I now understand why. There must have been twigs and branches whipping around in every direction. My other half arrived home at eleven having had to find a route home avoiding fallen trees and flooded roads. He had to walk the last bit as several trees were down in our road.

We thankfully got electricity back the following morning and our house came through it undamaged. We have lost quite a few trees in the back garden and have had to call the council about one particular tree that is now leaning rather dramatically towards the house. 

The local council have been amazing at clearing roads and helping people. They were out in our road at about 1.30am clearing falling trees.

I also think one of the greatest things about these extreme events is the way people pull together. Our lovely nieghbours popped round on the night of the storm just to check we were okay and came round the next day as well. Our nieghbour opposite has been clearing the road with her machete in hand and collecting wood for her fire.

It was not until the sun rose the next day that I realised how lucky we had been. Venturing into the back garden there were two very large branches (the size of small trees!) that had fallen very close to our house, how they didnt land on the roof is a miracle. So although the garden is a mess, compared to the poor people who have lost roofs or been flooded out, we are very lucky!

Friday, June 14, 2013


When we arrived in New Zealand over four years ago now, we had to leave behind our much loved Spaniel Pip. It was a very difficult thing to do, but a very easy decision. We felt we couldn't put her through the journey. Over 24 hours in a crate on her own in the cargo hold of a plane would have been a very dramatic experience. And one that I am not sure she would have ever recovered from. We could not do that to her.

There was also the cost of course. Thousands of pounds as opposed to hundreds. Not something we could have afforded. So Pip went to live on a farm in France. This sounds like something you tell the kids when a much loved dog has to be put down. In this case however it's true! My Mum and Dad lived in France at the time and re homed her for us.

So now four and a bit years later, as we have finally got our own home again, we have got a new member of the family. This is Ted, a Spoodle (cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Mini Poodle) who is only 3 months old and joined our family last Sunday. He was spotted in our local pet shop and was too cute to ignore.

He is just the right size for the girls.

Cold winter colours have returned to the Inlet.

A Saturday morning looks like late afternoon thanks to a low winter sun.

Wintry reflections.

I always think that dogs are great at making a house become a home. And not just because they have a tendancy to pee on the carpet :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cuba Street and Trips to Alternate Dimensions.

Weekends at the moment tend to start with a couple of hours standing in the cold on soccer fields cheering on one or other of the girls teams. So following a couple of wind swept hours this morning we headed into Wellington to explore one of our favourite spots for hunting out odd and unusual things to fill up our new home.

If you have not yet been to Cuba Street I thoroughly recommend a trip. Its full of weird and wonderful shops selling the useless items that you discover are vitally important when turning your house into a home. A nodding cat and bird coasters are examples of the must have items we came back with today.

The street reminds me of a cross between some of the shops found in The Lanes of Brighton and the charity shops in Oxford. A great mix of over priced vintage clothing, designer jewellery and imported Japanese goods.

It also has quite a number of really good second hand book shops. We always loose a couple of hours in these every time we visit. Books are oddly expensive over here and so second hand book shops are very popular with those of us that still like to have the real thing as opposed to electronic versions.

I can't remember which author it is that mentions second hand book shops being portals to other dimensions but I always think there is something unnerving about book shops. It all the thoughts and emotions contained within the pages and in such a confined space. You always seem to loose track of time in them and spend far longer there than you intended. Anyway, this photo taken in the shop today came out very strangely. Proof I think that there is something very odd about book shops!

After a good bit of retail therapy a bit of refueling was required and there is no place better than the Southern Cross. Great food, lovely atmosphere and entertainment for the kids. A good place to while away a few hours and people watch.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Handbags and Gladrags from Trade Me.

I have spent a large proportion of the last week obsessing over handbags.

Shoes and handbags are easy to get obsessive over. I use my handbag daily, it carries some of the most vital and important objects in my life. Plus it has many cool pockets and co-ordinates with my outfits!

However,  having just bought a house I have no money for frivolous things like handbags. So I have been looking on Trade Me all week to try and find a replacement for my current, rather knackered looking bag.

Trade Me is the New Zealand equivalent of Ebay. It might not have the vast choice and huge number of users that the UK Ebay does, but it is still pretty impressive for a nation of under 5 million. I believe that there is a NZ version of Ebay but I don't think many people use it as I have never heard anyone mention buying anything from there. Whereas the use of Trade Me is ubiquitous on these small Islands.

We have bought many things from Trade Me over the last four and a bit years. Our car was an early Trade Me buy, as was my sewing machine and a fair number of the kids toys.

Prompted by the fact we have moved within walking distance of a rather good charity shop (or Op Shop as they seem to be called over here) I have decided to see if I can get things second hand rather than buying new. This coupled with the fact that we have to watch the pennies at the moment (or should I say cents!) has led me to spend several hours scouring the listings on Trade Me for vintage, but gorgeous and cheap, handbags. I managed to win two auctions. Although these are not my "to die for" bag I still think I was pretty successful.