Friday, 12 June 2009

Practically Locals

I reckon Ben and I are well on our way to being Kiwis. Last weekend we went scuba diving, stacked our first fire wood delivery, went to a bbq and frolicked on the beach at the Mount with Maree - a genuine Kiwi (there hard to come by 'round these parts!). Surely that combination of activities makes us more or less locals!!

The scuba diving was predictably FREEZING! We spent ages bobbing about on the surface trying to get all our gear sorted out and swallowing what felt like litres of salt water, but did eventually gain enough control to explore the underwater world. Swimming through the kelp jungle on the sea-bed and was quite an experience and there were loads ofcolourful fish. But even the hefty wetsuits we were wearing weren't much match for the ten degrees centigrade water! You'll all be pleased to hear that I mastered the whole mask-clearing thing in the end - phew and Ben's got some contacts so he can actually see too :0) We were supposed to be going diving again this weekend but I have to say I'm pretty relieved that it's been cancelled because of bad weather as we've both been sneezing and snivelling ever since. I'm sat next to a mountain of snotty tissues with a rug over my lap like an old lady!

The fire wood delivery caused us quite a lot of amusement as we had absolutely no idea how much we had ordered. Apparently $160 buys a giant pile's worth as a truck pulled up outside and emptied it's entire contents on our drive! It was quite a mission to get it all stacked up in the garage. But we're pretty happy now that we're toasty warm :0)

We've got fairly hectic social lives now, which seem to involve a lot of wine and food - so that's all good :0) There's also a seemingly never ending supply of reasons in work of why we have to have cake. There's all theusual, you know birthdays and special occasions and stuff, but who the hell ever heard of a "it's a week until I go on holidays cake"? Oh well, Ben's pretty happy with the situation as I always sneak him home a piece too :0)

Ben's photography stuff is still going well and he's started to do a bit of computing stuff for the photography folk and has been asked totutor a course too, but really he should be the one telling you about that, so I'll write it on his list of jobs and maybe he'll get round to it sometime!!

It's only a couple of weeks until we go on holiday, which seems kind of ridiculous, but I'm not complaining because I don't think we'll be going anywhere else for a long time. When we arrived in NZ I needed an onward flight as I didn't have a work visa when we first got here. So months and months ago we booked flights to the Cook Islands and when I started work they agreed to let me have the time off because the tickets were already booked. So very soon we'll be heading off for ten days on a tropical island in the sun (hopefully). I'm really excited because I went there when I was travelling ten years ago and I've always wanted to go back. We're hopeful we'll be able to do some scuba diving when we're there and I'm really looking forward to seeing the sun again :0)

I've been mucking about with the camera so don't blame Ben for the poor quality of the photos, but at least you might actually see some pics of the local area! Here are some more.

Monday, 1 June 2009

God Save the Queen!

I've never been a royalist but over here we get a day off for the Queen's birthday - so from now on I'm her number one fan! We've made the most of the long weekend and been exploring up the coast. It's cold but beautifully clear and sunny so it's been lovely messing about on the beach and stuff. We had our first night in Marge since we moved into the house and we realised that we've missed her a little bit. It felt like we were home :0) She's pretty cosy too with our little heater. We've discovered that living in a wooden house isn't quite so toasty! Fortunately we have a wood burning fire to cuddle up in front of but first thing in a morning we can see our breath! The weather forcast has come on the TV as I write this and it's all about the snow. TROPICAL they told us. The big fat liars! OK it hasn't actually snowed here but there has been a few hail storms!

We're on the scrounge for furniture because the stuff in the house at the moment (in the video) is due to go in the next week or two. We've had a few offers of freebies so who knows what kind of tatty second-hand stuff we'll end up with. Ben thinks we're going to spend the money we have got on a huge flat-screen LCD television - I don't think so!!!

The scuba diving torture sessions, I'm sorry, I meant lessons (?!) are well under way. I've done a bit before and I really don't remember it being so bloody difficult. Even just in a pool wrapped up in all the clobber I just cannot make my body do what I want it to! We have to do this horrible thing where you take your mask off under water and then put it back on and blow all the water out by blowing hard out through your nose. I just cannot get it right. They actually sent me home with a mask to practise with IN THE BATH! And... the worst thing is, when I had a go I still just ended up coughing and spluttering everywhere. How the hell am I going to do it in the sea? We're due to go on our first proper out at sea dive on the weekend and I'm actually really scared. It's bloody freezing. It wasn't like this when I did it on a Florida beach!

I am feeling a little bit smug too though as I did that a 10km run around the Mount yesterday and I didn't even find it hard :0) I may be eating like a horse and not losing anymore weight but at least I'm fit. Which reminds me I had a health check at work. I had to have blood tests and stuff and to jog up and down a step for a few minutes, have my blood pressure taken, answer lots of questions blah blah. With all the results they calculated my body's physical age as apposed to my actual age and.... I'm 29 apparently which is a bit of a bonus seeing as I am 33 :0)

Our social lives are definitely improving. We were even invited to an eighteenth birthday party and I have to say I wasn't entirely happy being on the "adults" table. They were the best behaved teenagers I have ever encountered and they "don't drink alcohol". The teenage years without alcohol? Can you imagine it? No thank you!! We were wondering if all Kiwi teenagers are the same and then discovered that they most definitely are not when we went to a gig (Katchafire, they're a Kiwi Reggie band and are surprisingly good so look out for them) and everyone was completely bolloxed!

We had Michelle and Phil, a couple of Brummies who moved here a few months ago, over for curry and lots of wine. We've got plenty in common as Phil's into photography too so Michelle and I can compare stories as to the lengths our other halves are prepared to go to to get the perfect shot. Ben has recently had me hanging about in the cold and dark dressed in hoodie impersonating a graffiti artist whilst Michelle has been forced to pursue old folk in mobility buggies. I keep nagging Ben for photos of the local area so you can actually see what it's like here but apparently it's more important that he takes photos of his guitar or a hammer on my dressing gown (?!) Ben and Phil are both doing photography courses and it's "homework" apparently!

The whole hoodie thing was another experience that highlights the differences in the way people treat each other over here as compared to the UK. Instead of calling the police, as you might expect the law-abiding owners of the shop Ben and I were suspiciously hanging about behind pretending to be vandals, they came out to see what we were up to and offered to hold the flash! Kiwis, you gotta love 'em :0)

There are more photos here. Most are homework from my course. The photos named "one spot" were some of ten totally different photos that were all taken from one spot. The guitar photos are from a series of ten different photos of my new guitar.