Monday, 14 September 2009

A year on...

In a couple of weeks time it'll be a year since we left the UK, which feels kind of weird. It's been such an action packed year. I've just had a little read over some of the old blog entries and we've done so much. It's a great way to reminisce and I hope one day we'll be able to show it to our kids. In some ways the time seems to have flown by but then in other ways thinking back to living in Cardiff seems like another life, which of course it was.

It seems a bit different keeping the blog updated now that we've been settled in Tauranga for a while. I don't suppose it's all that interesting to hear that it's Monday night, which is squash night for Ben, that my bum aches after my circuits class or that I've only got a week left of my veggie cookery course. Knowing that we've spent a few evenings at the recent film festival, bought my first piece of art and hung out in the local hot-pools (a favourite Kiwi past time) a few times doesn't make for the most exciting read. You may be amused to know however that I went to "Heather Fest" an event attended by fifty-one Heathers. Freaky! But it is still a good way to let you all know what's going on with us and I like to think that you can picture us pottering on in our new lives so you don't forget about us :0)

Spring has officially sprung here now and for the first week it was absolutely gorgeous. I was wearing flip-flops to work and it seemed like Summer was well on it's way. However not liking to be taken for granted the New Zealand weather had other plans and then chucked a load of rain at us. Having said that, on the whole, it's pretty sunny now and the clocks change soon so it'll be lighter in the evenings which will make a big difference. The sunshine has inspired us to get some more weekends away in Marge, whilst we still can, because we think we're going to sell her :0( It just doesn't make much sense to have a camper-van as our only means of transport and we just don't use her enough to make it worth while. I think she needs some new owners who will take her off adventuring again. It's like Puff the Magic Dragon (that was a toy in a song who was really sad because he didn't get played with any more - for those of you that have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about) I think sitting on our driveway instead of being out there doing what she was made for may be making her sad. So it looks as if we'll be back to good old fashioned camping again soon.

In a huge step towards becoming a fully fledged Kiwi woman - no I haven't been given residency - apparently they need nine months to make that decision. Nine months! What the hell do they do for nine months?! Sorry I digress... so my significant step towards becoming a Kiwi woman is... I baked! They're all at it here. Not just the posh middle-aged ones like at home (?!) ALL of them. I've been fighting it for a while but then I just thought "why not?". So I tried to do something relatively healthy and made some flapjack cereal bar type things and some cranberry scones. Now there was a point in the middle where disaster seemed inevitable. The cereal bars didn't look like they were going to stick so I thought I was just going to end up with cereal! And the scone mix was just a gigantic pile of glue, which was all over me!! But some how I sort of pulled it all together at the end. Well I did need to cut the burnt bits off the bottom of the scones, but they still tasted good. Ben was particularly delighted even though he got left with all the burnt bits to eat whilst the best ones went to work with me! It's only a matter of time until I'm making jams and chutneys :0)

The other significant change to have occurred recently is the entry of Erin into our lives. She's an American social worker that I work with and she too likes to get drunk and go to music gigs. Hallelujah!! We're so happy that we've found someone to play with :0) We do love the Kiwis but every now and again you don't want to go to bed at 9pm (have I told you they all go to be ridiculously early?!). The three of us have had a couple of good old fashioned nights out, with all the usual terrible dancing and late night revelry, followed by hideous hangovers. She's great, we love her lots even having her turn up on our doorstep unexpectantly one evening and demand a load of cash as she'd just filled up her car with petrol only to realise she'd lost her wallet wasn't enough to put us off. Fortunately having me mercilessly rip the piss out of her and her nation of origin hasn't totally scared her away either. So it's all good.

We had a weekend away to Taupo recently. We weren't in Marge, the hospital (that I work for) owns batches (holiday homes) around New Zealand which we can rent really cheaply. So we headed off with Phil and Michelle (previously featured Brummies) to one of the houses. Phil, another photographer, is now officially Ben's business partner (I'll get to that in a minute) so Michelle and I were pretty happy they had each other to play with as they got up stupidly early to take sunrise photos and stuff whilst we got to stay in bed :0) Taupo is on a huge lake with the mountains, where the skiing antics of a few weeks ago occurred, as a dramatic backdrop. Lovely.

So yeah... Ben has a business partner. I was hoping that he would write something about what he's been up to but he hasn't, so here goes!... He and Phil are in the process of setting up a business selling posters and postcards to tourists. We've got some of his posters framed on our walls and they look fantastic. You can take a look at them if you like at - Benjamin Albert Smith Photography

Both Ben and Phil have also been doing some tutoring at the local photography school. Ben is hopefully going to have an exhibition in the centre of town during the peak holiday season, which also coincides with when his folks are visiting, so that's amazing news. He's doing some web design work for other photographers too. So it's all starting to come together and hopefully all his hard work will pay off. He's not making much money yet, which he finds a bit frustrating, but we can manage for a while so it's OK.

My work is still going well. I'm moving teams again, I won't bore you with the details but the important thing to know is that the Mount (aka the beach) will be my patch again, just in time for Summer :0) I really like the people that I work with and am still enjoying what I'm doing. I'm hoping that my residency will be sorted out by the end of the year because there is a years postgraduate course (in CBT for those in the know) that I'd love to do next year. If my residency is finalised my employers will fund the whole thing and give me the study leave etc I need, so fingers crossed. By the time that's over hopefully Ben will have residency too and be making a decent living so maybe, I said MAYBE, then we can think about having babies!!!!! (I just hope our old bodies will be up to the job!)

We're very, very excited about the Summer now. It looks as if it's going to be one in on out at our place as we've got a continuous stream of friends and family visiting from November through to May! Can't wait. We're officially licensed scuba divers now too, so we'll be doing some more of that and I'm definitely up for some sailing. Other weird and wonderful things we have planned include an eight week course in Polynesian Hula dancing that I've somehow managed to persuade six of the girls in work to do with me! The hospital ball which I will be attending clad in the biggest pants in the world so that I can fit into my dress, whilst Ben will be one of the official photographers. A jewellery making workshop, New Zealand theatre, loads of walking and camping, tonnes of gigs, numerous BBQs and much wine drinking :0) Bring it on!!!

Facebook photos here.
Bens photos here.
Also check out the following websites that Ben has been involved in
Capture-it NZ - Tauranga School of Photography
GATE Photography