Monday, 30 November 2009


Whoops! I hadn't realised that it was nearly a week since I last posted - sorry! I had been waiting for some good news to post...

Things moved very quickly last week after I last posted...

The GIS interview went really well. I had a bit of a trek out (the offices are two train rides away, and the office manager was very kind to give me a lift to and from the station, otherwise I would have had a bus journey, too!), to a glorious office in the middle of a suburb (my impressions might have been coloured by the fact that it was a beautiful day!). I got on brilliantly with the directors (they are a husband and wife partnership, and the wife is also a TKD teacher...), and it ended up with them saying that although they didn't have a role for me at the moment (and they had made that clear from the start, so I wasn't going there under false impressions), they were looking at a positive restructure (i.e. they had just won two major contracts, and the company was going to have to change radically to cope with them), and a role similar to the one that I had been doing with Innogistic was needed. However, because they hadn't worked out the exact details of the restructure as yet, they couldn't offer me anything. So I had to give them a call before I accepted any other offer... This did therefore leave me in a bit of a dilemma, as both companies had pros and cons, and if I ended up with job offers from them both, I would be having a couple of sleepless nights trying to work out what would be the best course of action to take!

I then had on Thursday my fourth interview with Heat 'n' Click, this time with Steven, the new sales manager (so new, that he hadn't actually started at the at point!). It was more of a chat than an interview - we are going to be working closely together, so it was vital that we weren't going to annoy each other. We got on brilliantly - totally on the same wavelength (a good chat about what processes were needed, and then a discussion as to why Gandalf didn't just get the eagles to take Frodo to Mount Doom and short cut all that mucking about on the ground... ;-) )

They then left me hanging for the whole weekend, which got a bit nerve wracking - by this afternoon, I was wondering whether they were just trying to work out how to tell me to stuff off! But James called just at the end of office hours to say that they would like to offer me the job - yays!

Rather sadly, when I called up today (post offer from James) to speak to the managing director of the GIS company, he said that they hadn't had the restructure meeting yet, and therefore wouldn't be in a position to offer me a formal interview until after Christmas. A bit of a shame, but it does mean that if the Heat 'n' Click does fall over, or if I realise that I really can't work with them, I do have a fall back company to go to! And he has said that he will keep my details on file and get in touch with me (though he would understand if I said that I wasn't interested any more). So I didn't have two companies fighting over me, but it would have been nice ;-)

The role that I am going to be doing is essentially a general administrative one; the company is new and doesn't have any processes or procedures in place, so initially, I am going to be working on setting those up (getting a stock management system in place, for example, including building an Excel based one for short term use, though I hope that they will be buying in a sturdier one for long term usage!), and looking after accounts management (sorting out their GST (equivalent to VAT) returns etc). When the Christmas period is over, I'll also be helping out with the website and doing some back office sales (i.e. taking calls in etc). There will also be some marketing work (helping design their pop-ups and literature for trade shows, actually arranging the trade show stands etc) (I'm also going to be doing a bit of short term work on their "Calendar Club" stand until that contract is finished in January)

The exact nature of the role beyond that is actually a bit nebulous - a lot of it will depend on how the Christmas sales go, and how much interest they pick up on the Green Biz side of things (they've had a couple of trade shows where they hoped to get some good leads; I expect that some of my early role will possibly be processing those leads, though that hasn't been talked about yet!)

I've got to wait for him to talk to my references before I get the job offer in writing, but as I know they will be good, all I need to find out now is where I'm going to be working from (they don't actually have an office as such, so I might possibly be working from home for a while, either that, or in the shopping mall waiting for my shift on the CC stand!), and when they want me to start...

In other news, we have also found ourselves an orchestra! The Hutt Valley Orchestra rehearses about 20 minutes walk away from us, and we went to their final concert of the year (they are now having a break until Feb). Their repertoire is very similar to that of Longwell Green, and the sense of humour is the same. I've just got to get myself some sheet music from the library so that I can keep my eye in until I'm next playing properly (unfortunately, news from the shipping company is that our belongings have only just left, and we can't expect them to reach NZ before the first week in Jan. Total pain!)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Lord of the Rings Locations

Our leaving present from the orchestra was a Movies-Trip, a guided tour of some of the film locations around Wellington, mainly, of course, Lord of the Rings, but we did get a bit of Kong as well...

It was a really fun trip; most of the location spotting was done up in Mount Victoria, and included Dunharrow and Weathertop:

(just imagine Aragorn surveying his army, or the Nazgul slinking through the mists towards the hobbits)

the tree where Frodo and Sam cooked the first night:

with maybe a couple of hobbits?

There was also the shortcut to the mushrooms, which was the first scene filmed of anything (just over 10 years ago...), and where one of the stunt men dislocated his shoulder falling down the hill (good job they weren't letting the stars do their own stunts at this point! They only did the last tumble down the bank)

This was also half of the "Get off the Road" location (the other half was another point in the woods)

Unfortunately, the tree they hid under was actually a fake one (as they needed the flat road for the horse to be able to walk on), but the hollow was still there:

We also went to the hill that the Nazgul looked down on before the race to the Ferry:

Looks more like a donkey to me!

A couple that weren't actually Hobbiton woods, but are still nice shots of the woods (and did feel vaguely familiar - possible setting up shots?)

We then headed over to the Mirimar area of Wellington (also known as Wellywood due to the number of studios there) to have a drive round the various factory sheds that are hidden studios (due to the secrecy around a lot of the projects, they don't advertise that they are filming studios etc to avoid having too many people trying to nose in!). We did pass the ship that was used in King Kong, but didn't stop for a picture (it was starting to rain at that point); we will have to try to get out there at some point. Once the ship had been used for filming, it was no longer sea-worthy, and so the studios sold it to a businessman for $1. He had planned to sink it outside of Wellington harbour to make an artificial reef, but has been held up with various issues (Ted didn't say what they were...), and so he is stuck with a non-seaworthy boat on his hands in the meanwhile!

We then went to the Weta cave, parking round the corner from the studios

We saw Peter Lyon's car; the chief swordsmith for Weta drives a baby blue tiny Nissan with Swordz as his numberplate - some of the swords that he makes would not fit in that car!

All in all, a good fun afternoon - well worth doing!

In other updates, I'm now not going to hear about the Heat 'n' Click job until Thursday, as they now want me to meet the new sales manager (which I see as positive as if they were going to reject me, they wouldn't go to all that trouble). I've also got an 'informal meeting' tomorrow (Weds) with the directors of a GIS company; I sent them my CV on spec, and, whilst they don't have any vacancies now, they would still like to meet me. Not bad for a bit of networking, but I'm not going to bank anything on it. It's also a bit of a yomp out - I've got to get two trains. Fortunately, the office manager is going to pick me up from the station, otherwise it would be a bus ride as well!

I've started work in the greenhouse; cleared out the top layer of the soil (which was covered in a leafy-mossy plant) and dug up a load of mini-bulbs (a plant with clover-like leaves, but grown from bulbs - unchecked, they have spread throughout the soil in the greenhouse!). I've also planted some seedlings in starter-pots (not put them in the soil yet; I'll wait for them to sprout first as I want them to have a bit of size before putting them up against whatever weeds are left in the greenhouse soil!), so, fingers crossed, I'll have chillis, capsicum peppers, broccoli, spinach and basil over the coming months.

I also had a long walk this afternoon (felt I needed some air), and went back down to the river (trying to find my way into one of two reserves which are marked on the map, but I am beginning to suspect that they are only reserves because there is no way a house could be built on the steep sides of the hills!). There I discovered that the duck mafia has produced the next generation, and spent about ten minutes watching the ducklings.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


Well, no sooner had I moaned about not being able to get photos up, and killed the netbook battery than I remembered that the photos are stored on an SDE card, and that the netbook actually has two ports to take SDE cards as memory expansion. So, once we'd done our shopping for today (lots of stuff from the farmer's market, including, finally, finding some chilli peppers - then going to get some pots so that I can grow more from seed), I had a go, and we have successfully got photos off of the camera - huzzah!


Here is the house from the front

We have net curtains, which allows us to be nosey neighbours...

This is the back garden - see the greenhouse! Plus all the gorgeous flower beds, which our landlady tends to :-)

The duck mafia are everywhere! We thought they were just by the campsite, but when we went for a walk down to the river, they were there too, and followed us along the banks...

The river is pretty, though

The gorgeous area round Pauatahanui, an inlet from the sea (though I thought that it was just a large lake...

Take a look at the curving of the road, then at the very solid crash barrier between the road and the water... And there were still people going past us at stupid kph!

Wellington Harbour from the park near the caravan park - taken on our first day here.

And there will be plenty more photos to come - we have booked the Lord of the Rings tour that Longwell Green Orchestra very kindly gave us as our leaving present - keep your fingers crossed for a lovely day on Monday!

No photos for now...

Hmmm - well, I had hoped to get some pictures up to be able to show everyone our house and surrounding area. Unfortunately, Kodak have decided that it is not worth supporting the Linux system at all (not just for our camera, but for any across their range), so the camera won't connect to the computer. I can't even take it to the library and get pics off there, as all the library computers are also Linux.

Fortunately, we have enough big memory cards that we can carry on taking photos without worrying about running out of space!

If I get the admin job on Weds, then I will be getting a Windows laptop to work on (eventually), but if not, then it may be a while until either one of us gets a job where they don't mind us using the PC for personal use, or until we can afford to buy either a PC or a Mac...


Friday, 20 November 2009

Home Wireless...

Yup - we has it! We've signed our life away for a two year contract with Telecom, and they gave us a wireless modem for free (Telstra, the other home network company, had no contract length, but also wanted $200 for the modem...). As I can easily see us staying here for two years (I am falling more and more in love with the house and the area every day), I think it isn't a great hardship! It is brilliant being able to get online and to access everything on the computer at the same time, rather than having to remember (or anticipate) the documents that I need and then get them onto a memory stick ready to take up to the library.

This week has been good - fairly light on blogging because all of our internet time has been at the library, which has been at times evilly slow (spending ages waiting for a white page to turn into something interesting is not my favourite way of spending time or money!).

However, I have had a third interview with the Heat 'n' Click company - this time with the other of the two directors. Sean is going to have responsibility for the back office things; i.e. whilst James sells, he makes sure that everything else runs! At the moment, he is juggling a lot of things (the interview was actually done on the move, including me helping him bank the previous day's takings, and getting some coloured paper for him to print signs on...), and needs someone who can take a lot of the administrative paperwork off of his hands (particularly as he said that he is useless with a computer; I rather enjoyed being able to say "I can do that" to pretty much everything he was talking about - the only thing I'd need to do a bit of learning about is building their website - whilst I know html and can use it, I'd need to learn a bit more about making it look good before I could be confident of actually getting something working!) This role was a lot more exciting than the sales role that we had originally discussed, and I think that it would suit me a lot better. The pay isn't brilliant (right at the bottom end of what I'd like to be earning, although there would be a performance related bonus which would bring it to the top end of what I think I could get), but there is so much of a chance to make the role my own, and to step in right at the start of what could possibly be a huge company in a few years' time (at the moment, they have 8 people, with one more starting the week after next...). However, I can't get too excited about it, as I still might not get the job (they have someone else that they are also interviewing).

We have also done a lot of exploring of the library - it is a good 20 minute yomp away, but is very well stocked (and, now that we have an address and have library cards, we can order in books from all over NZ if we want to!), and we have already tallied up a number of issues and returns over the last week. We do also have an amazing little second hand bookshop in the local area - books at a sane price (and I managed to pick up an early, coverless Giles for less than I'd have paid for it in the UK, so I'm incredibly happy about that!), and the owner has a fantastic sense of humour. I'm sure that we will become regular faces in there!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Moving In

Well, we have had our last day in the caravan park! Thursday was a day of spending - $1240 on our bond and first week's rent (rent here is paid weekly, which is good in a way in that it is a steady, small amount coming out of the bank, but bad in that it would have been nice to have had the money in the account for a little longer before it started disappearing!), and $1372 on a new fridge/freezer and a washing machine (plus a kettle and surge protectors – this was something we hadn't realised – apparently Wellington is very bad for power surges, and these can fry electrical equipment; having just spent a heck of a lot on white goods, we decided to buy the “insurance” - $115 for two double sockets and a single (the doubles also therefore act as a comm-block – very handy!)) Money is going a little faster than I had anticipated, but it should get a bit cheaper now that we aren't paying by the day for accommodation, and we can also buy in bulk on the food. Plus it isn't as though we don't have money sat in the UK – I'd just rather wait a bit for the exchange rate to get better before I transfer some more(at the moment, with the cut that HiFX take, we'd be looking at less than $2 for the £, which is a bit scary! The news also talks about the exchange rate – it isn't just us that it is affecting, but the exporters here as well, which isn't good news for the economy).

Angela, the lady that I met on the forums (and who put me forward for the Defence Services job, but who has now left her recruitment job), very kindly gave up pretty much a whole day on Friday to help us move from the caravan park to our new house, and has lent us a mattress, bed linen, cutlery, crockery and pots and pans – everything (aside from the mattress) that is coming over on the boat, but won't be here for a while yet! She also drove us over to a big shopping complex in one of the towns to the north of Wellington, so that we could pick up other things that we needed. She also took us on a hike round most of the second hand furniture shops in the area, so that we could start furnishing our place (the previous tenants left us two garden chairs, but we needed something a bit more comfortable to sit on, and to eat off (whilst we do have a small table coming on the boat, we didn't really want to eat off our knees for the next month or so). We did find a glorious dining room table (the type which has a middle leaf that you can fold out to make it larger), but when we came back (after going round a number of other shops), there was a “back in five minutes” sign on the door. That stayed there for the next half hour, and indeed until after we gave up and left...

We also got an excellent demonstration of the changing mood of the weather round us. The morning was gloriously sunny, and we were able to take a trip our to a beautiful inlet, and have our lunch in the sunshine. As we moved back towards Petone (the district where we were doing the furniture shopping), we could see the black clouds building up over Wellington, and the wind started to pick up quite strongly. Then we were actually able to see the storm rolling in across the bay, and we got into a coffee shop just before it absolutely hammered it down! I think, from our first week here, the forecast for Wellington is always going to be “Changeable”!

The interview on Wednesday went ok. The job is for a company which was initially set up to sell environmental consultancy (behind the green image of NZ are some incredibly poor business practices, and there was a news item Friday morning where a journalist from the Guardian has pointed out how poor NZ is as a country on the environment, and showing how this will hurt tourism in the future), but in order to raise some revenue, they are also selling those gel pads which have a metal disk in them, which you click to heat up (not just the pocket warmers, but also ones for the neck and back, and also bottle warmers for babies), and also are a franchise (on a separate stand) of the Calendar Club. James (the MD) took me out to one of their stands, (and I was right, it was a stand in a shopping mall), so that I could see how they operated. We then had a long chat (well over an hour), some of it about the company, and the rest about general stuff. He's a good salesman, and he genuinely believes in what he is doing. I also know that I could sell his products, but I don't want to be on commission only for the next couple of months until an office based job became available. Our situation is a little too precarious for us to gamble on a non-standard amount of money coming in each week. He said that he needed to talk to his business partner, as he wasn't sure, either, and he'd let me know at the end of the week. So I think that I probably haven't got the job anyway. But I still have more irons in the fire, so I'm not too despondent. It would have just been quite nice for it to all fall into my lap, really! However, on a positive note, he did call up and asked me to babysit his “Calendar Club” stall as his aunt was visiting on Saturday, and he wanted to be able to spend the day with her. As it was $100 cash in hand, I wasn't going to say no! So I spent Saturday in a shopping mall getting a teensy bit bored and occasionally selling a calendar. I did have a brilliant conversation with a Deaf lady, which showed me that BSL and Auslang are not that far removed (and was probably the longest conversation I'd had with someone who was Deaf in a very long while – far longer than the chatting that I did at the FCDC!)

Whilst I was out earning us a bit of money, John spent the Saturday spending it... We are now the proud owners of the dining table that we spotted on Friday, plus some fantastic dining chairs (which, though from a different shop, look like they could have come from the same set), and also a couple of wicker lounge chairs (probably the only furniture we'll have in the lounge for a while!). We have also had our fridge/freezer delivered, and our washing machine, so the house is looking more like it is being lived in now (even if it is a teensy bit bare, and will be until our furniture gets here), and definitely is starting to feel like home. It will be even better when I can pick up some plants and get working in the greenhouse! Plus possibly a bird feeder – we have a number of birds which already come into the garden, and it would be nice to start enticing more of them in...

Next plan is also to see if we can get the internet sorted out for the house so that we don't have to keep going to the library! (fortunately, it is open on a Sunday...)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


Well, it is now Tuesday evening, and the very exciting news of the moment is that we have got ourselves somewhere to live! We have gone for the place in Lower Hutt that we looked round yesterday; we weren't sure whether we would get it as the landlady was actually interviewing for candidates, but we didn't realise this until after we'd had a look round (and not taken our shoes off when we walked in – only realised that this might have been a boo-boo when we realised that she was barefooted...) - it turned out that we were her first choice, so when we called this evening to say that we'd like it, she gave it to us straight away!)

We did look round two flats today – one being right in the Karori area where we would love to live, and it was a very close tie between the two, until we got to the bus stop and realised that the local buses there stopped at 6 in the evening, and didn't run at all at the weekends, which would completely stump us for travel outside of work hours (the house was a long way up a very steep hill - I couldn't see us going up there with heavy bags of shopping, and there were no local shops at all), and the on-street parking was not great either, so we would have difficulties even if we got a car. The other place was very central, and probably about the floor size of the cabin that we are in at the moment (well, maybe a double bed-size bigger...) - just not worth being cramped for $10 less a week!

I also had a very useful chat with a recruitment agent (who is going to see if she can get me in at the Land Information NZ, the equivalent of the Ordnance Survey), and also met up with the lady who has put me forward for the civilian role in the Defence Services (as an administrator); she is also an immigrant to NZ, and it was more of a general meet up chat – she is being absolutely lovely and lending us some things until our furniture arrives from the High Seas.

So, we move in to our new place on Friday, and we just have to hunt for white goods now (they don't come as standard over here, unfortunately). It's a little frustrating to have to spend out on them this early, but as we would have to buy them when we bought our own place anyway, I think that we can live with it.

I've also got my second interview tomorrow for a sales role. I'm not so sure about this one – the more I think about it, the more I think that it is going to be on a stand in a shopping mall trying to get passers by to buy the products, and I'm not sure whether that is something I actually want to be doing. But I don't have to make a decision straight away, even if he offers me the job tomorrow. I can wait to see how the DSNZ job application goes (and whether the LINZ one goes anywhere) – we do have the money for me to wait for another week or so, and I'd rather get this right, as it could shape the next few years in NZ, if not my future career... (not being too melodramatic, am I?)

Settling In

Well, we have kept ourselves busy! We have already looked round two flats, with two more to come. The first, which we saw on Sunday evening, was in a gorgeous location, high up on the hills, with bush all round. Right on the edge of Karori, which would be our ideal place to live. Unfortunately, it was also one of those places which was built right into the hill, with not a particularly fantastic access – on the lower side, it was a concrete slope at an angle of about 50 degrees, and on the upper side, it was a set of brick and slab steps, a number of which were broken or breaking (not the surest footing to inspire confidence). The flat itself was small and dark (and it didn't help that the boyfriend smoked – he was technically not breaking the “no smoking” conditions as the cigarette was outside the flat...), and given that the current tenants were the ones trying to find someone else, they hadn't cleaned up at all (knowing how long it took us to clean down our flat, and that they wanted to move out straight away, it didn't inspire me with confidence that we'd be moving into somewhere clean at all). Added to that, the roadway up there didn't have a pavement for a good 15 minutes of the walk, and the only local bus (which stopped when the pavement did) didn't run on a weekend, so we decided that it wasn't for us!

However, the flat that we looked round on Monday was amazing. It's out this side of town, in the Lower Hutt area (which means a 20 minute train journey into Wellington if we get jobs there), a beautiful semi-detached bungalow, with front and rear garden (including a greenhouse), huge rooms, and a brilliant location for local shops. (10 minutes walk in one direction to the main shopping mall, and 5 in the other to a number of takeaways, a butcher and greengrocer) We do have a couple more places to look round today, so we didn't jump on it straight away (also, the landlady is going to make a decision about who she wants to take it on Thursday – I hadn't realised that we were being interviewed as well!!) But if the two places today don't come to anything, then I really hope that we are able to get in there – it was lovely.

We also spent yesterday opening up our bank account – we didn't have to go all the way into Wellington itself after all, but just a short bus ride down to the Petone area. We then spent a good hour or so with the representative from Westpac, who was incredibly helpful. She explained a lot about NZ banking, including the places where it differs from the UK, and sorted out a bank account which actually won't give us any charges (unless we want to write a cheque, or get money from within a branch rather than an ATM or using our EFTPOS card (almost a debit card – it can't be used on-line, though). She's also set us up for electronic banking, which means that we can keep our interest-earning account (the migrant account that was set up for us in the UK), and just transfer money into our every day account as and when we need it. And if we can't get online, then we can actually transfer our money using the ATM – a fantastic innovation! We left there very impressed (and with our eftpos cards – they actually issue them then and there...!), and hope that our future service from the bank will be just as good.

We then had a good bimble round the Queensgate shopping mall in Lower Hutt – John needed a new pair of shoes that didn't bring his feet up in blisters, and I wanted a pair of slippers – we got those both at a very cheap department store, spending far less than we thought, so we treated ourselves to a very nice coffee / hot chocolate at a chocolate store (basically an upmarket Thorntons, which happens to do hot drinks as well – they gave away a free chocolate with every hot drink sold, and I was in heaven! I will have to do my best not to go past there every time we go to the mall, otherwise I think that the magnetism of the chocolate will drag me in...)

We are heading into Welly proper today – our diary is fully booked! I've got a meeting with a recruitment agent at 11, then we are going to look round a flat up in Karori at 12.30, then meeting up with another agent (who I met on the ENZ forums, and has already put me forward for one job) at 3, and then another flat at 6. Possibly finding some food at some point, and a bit of supermarket shopping (we have now used up all of our bread, fruit, veg and meat from our last shop, and I don't think we can exist on coffee and peanut butter for long!)

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Well, we have made it! 27 hours of travelling and a lot of timezones after we left London, we are now in Wellington. The journey was nowhere near as bad as I had feared. It was a little more bumpy coming out of Hong Kong as we passed over the Pacific Islands, but I had picked myself up a “Wrist Angel”, which is an aromatherapy strap which contains a “scent tablet”. I was very sceptical about whether it would work, but every time the turbulence started, I took a sniff, and instantly the queasiness disappeared. It might have only been a placebo, but it helped, so I am not complaining! Our arrival in Auckland was far more straight forward than I thought it was going to be; the boarding card asked us to declare whether we had any goods worth more than $700; as I was carrying my oboe, I said “yes”. This caused the first customs officer to pause, and he referred us to a colleague downstairs (meaning we went down the “something to declare” aisle). He then explained that as we were coming in on a residency visa, we didn't need to worry about that (this time; all future visits, we would be restricted to the limit), and then took us through to the quarantine area (checking for food / seeds / mud). We got bumped to the front of the queue, and the quarantine inspector was not at all interested in the fact that we were carrying a stick of Brighton Rock (“That's a building material, isn't it?”), nor my seed necklace (well, it is varnished, and I have had it since I was about 8 years old), nor even my running shoes, once I explained that I had cleaned them with disinfectant (Alice, they are nearly white again in some parts!). So we cleared customs very quickly, and were in good time to check our baggage on to the domestic flight to Wellington (once more, slightly over (I didn't point out to the chap weighing the bags that the scales were showing -0.3 kg before we put the bags on), but he wasn't worried), and walk to the domestic terminal (it's about 15 mins walk from the international – not too bad except that 7kg on my back suddenly got very heavy!) to find a good coffee. And it was a good coffee – far better than the evil stuff served on the plane (I had a suspicion that the grounds might have already been used once on the flight, it was that weak), and even came in an offer with a cake, which helped sustain us after the airline food! (Actually, the airline food wasn't too evil, though I could cheerfully have strangled the person that thought that scrambled eggs or stir fry chilli noodles were a good choice for breakfast – I went for the noodles in the end, but my stomach wasn't too impressed!)

The trip down to Wellington was incredibly straightforward – about 45 minutes in the air. Most of it was over the sea, but we did pass over Mount Taranaki, who's snowcapped peaks rose up out of the clouds, and was an incredibly jaw dropping moment. We definitely need to go there on holiday when we get a chance! Even the landing was straighforward, unlike all of the YouTube videos we have seen of landing at Welly, we came down with a very smooth touch, no bouncing or wobbling at all! (most disappointing...) Once we landed and were reunited with our luggage again (no need for customs this time, just grabbing our bags and out), we got a shuttle-taxi to the holiday park. It might have been more expensive than getting two buses (it was $55 instead of approx $32), but it was direct, we didn't have to haul our heavy cases on and off buses, and we didn't have to wander around the centre of Wellington looking for our connection!

We are currently staying in the Top 10 Wellington campervan park, in a 2 room cabin. It's actually better laid out than I thought it would be – it has one room with a bed, and a kitchen/living area with a sink, 2 hob stove, microwave, fridge, a table and two chairs. What it doesn't have is any storage space, so things are going to be a bit cramped for a short while at least. But as this is only temporary, it really doesn't matter.

The park is in the middle of an industrial estate, so it isn't the most scenic (though it does have some lovely bush covered hills rising up in the background). It does, however, have the duck mafia (huzzah!) who came to welcome us and see if we had any bread. The whole park is alive with bird song; I woke up to the dawn chorus this morning, and it was stunning. The usual chirrups of sparrows, skylarks and starlings, mixed in with the tui, the silvereyes, and a whole host that I can't identify yet.

We had a very relaxed afternoon and evening after arriving at the park. A little bit of internetting (to let people know that we had arrived safely), and then we wandered down to the seafront. It wasn't quite as blue and as sunny as when we had arrived, but it was a lovely walk (once we got off the main road and the industrial bits!), and fantastic to gaze across at Wellington proper. Then we took a hike to Jackson Street. This is the main road in the Petone area and has a whole host of exciting shops and restaurants (John was pleased to see that there were a number of Indian restaurants – one of which had the range of strengths of the heat: mild, medium, hot, NZ hot, Indian hot, English hot! Does our reputation as a nation of stomach-bonfire builders precede us, I wonder?) It was then that we ran into a little problem of how to work out whether something was expensive or not when we didn't have any sort of measure to gauge it by! Our first thoughts were that $18 for a main course was expensive, but that actually seemed to be the standard, and we ended up at a pub/restaurant (the local Speights bar) where we had an incredibly enjoyable meal (mine was an interesting combination of chicken breast, stuffed with a cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, then covered in a wild cherry sauce, served on a bed of mashed potato with kumara (sweet potato) slivers on the top.

After our meal, we went to the local supermarket and picked up a few bits and pieces (trying not to overshop at the moment, because we don't want to have to transport too much to a rented flat), and caught the bus back to the campsite.

Then a very early night (we were asleep before 9) and a lie-in this morning (after getting up a couple of times, we didn't wake up properly till gone 9.30), and I think we have completely avoided jet lag – very pleasing!

We've had a leisurely morning, with a stroll to the local Dairy (newsagent), where we had a very long chat with the Fijian owner (well, chat – he talked and we nodded and murmured at the right points!), who was very keen to tell us how brilliant New Zealand was – just what we wanted to hear!

Tomorrow is going to be a bit more manic – we have to get into Wellington central (fortunately the bus runs directly from outside the campsite into the centre) to open up our bank accounts and to start hunting for places to live!

Friday, 6 November 2009

In Transit...

Well, the first half of our journey out to NZ has gone ok - we are currently in transit at HK airport waiting for our flight to be called. I managed to sleep through a good chunk of the flight (thank you HitchHikers' Guide to the Galaxy - I trained myself as a kid to fall asleep to it (listening late at night to the tapes over and over), and now all I need to do is hear the opening banjo chords and I start to feel my eyes closing...).

We had a reasonably straightforward trip to the airport - we got caught in the tail end of an accident queue, but as we had allowed an hour extra, there was no stress, and we were at the airport, after dropping off the car, with about 45 mins before check-in was due to open. However, we were allowed to check in straight away, and the lovely man even let through our slightly overweight bags without quibbling (John was only just over, I was a kg over) - now we just have to see if Auckland will be as nice for our transfer flight!

The transfer inside HK airport was interesting - I managed to get all of my stuff through without a problem, but John got stopped because of the external harddrive and his penny whistle - he was able to explain that it was a musical instrument (though fortunately he didn't have to play a medley of Madonna's 80's hits in order to prove it...)

Not long till we get to NZ now :-)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

This is it...

Well, the flat keys have been given back, the car has been sold, after a lot of pain - I foolishly put my mobile number on the online advert, and had people calling up from Birmingham wanting to buy it - one who wanted me to give him my bank details so that he could pay me for it without even looking at it, and the other who was going to travel down at 10pm in order to take it that evening. Both scared me a lot! And the next day, I was proven to be right not to trust them - my brother said that his colleague (who works near Birmingham) had sold his car to someone who wanted to take it without properly looking at it - the next day the police came round to tell him it had been involved in an incident! Fortunately for us, Jell wanted to buy it for his niece, so we were able to sell it on to someone we knew and trusted, and someone who trusted us. John and I are now officially unemployed after a week on holiday. (I could get used to this not getting up for work lark... ;-) )

The interviews went really well - one was more of a chat with a recruitment agent (who I already knew from one of the emigration forums), and the other was with the director of a very small company. Even though our Skype really wasn't working properly (the video dropped the call instantly), we had a really good voice chat, and I have a second interview lined up with him next Wednesday. It's a company that I really think that I could work for, but we have not yet discussed wages, so it might end up not being viable after all.

We've done the farewell tour of the country, spending a fantastic time with my family, and now we are staying with the in-laws for our last few hours in the country.

Yes, hours... In twelve hours time, we will have taken off (unless we are delayed, obviously!) The next time I post will be in New Zealand :-D It is finally feeling real, and I'm getting really excited!