This weekend has turned into a little bit of a social whirl. On Saturday, after market shopping in the sunshine for once (we actually had four whole days of summer this week - a nice treat for the kids before they go back to school - the summer holidays end tomorrow), I made up some cheese scones (I *love* having my food mixer back!), and we then headed out in the evening for a Phoenix Sci-Fi social. This is a "Bring a Plate" social (and the interpretation of it is that you bring something *on* the plate, rather than just an empty one!) Unfortunately, as we are a bit out of touch (despite reading the local paper, and therefore knowing all about the 94 year old who has just hit his first hole in one in golf, a year after suffering a stroke...), we hadn't twigged that, in addition to the very important Sci-fi event, there were also two other events in the area.
The Trentham Races (The Wellington Cup), which is the equivalent of the Cheltenham Races, in Upper Hutt, which is at one end of our train track, and an AC/DC gig, which was held at the Wellington Stadium, right by Wellington Station. (some unsung genius designed it so that the far end of the platform (at the opposite end to the station) actually leads up into the Stadium itself. On major event days (particularly rugby and football), the fans can just pour out of the stadium and onto a waiting train (obviously getting the right train for their destination!) - when the train is full, then it leaves, and the next one pulls in.
The combined events meant that, rather than the two-carriage train being half empty, as it has been every other time we have used it, there were eight carriages, and we still stood all the way to Wellington. However (despite the heat and the fact that the AC/DC fans next to us needed a little bit of education in the use of deodorant), it wasn't an unpleasant journey - the fans standing by us were from Hastings, and didn't often come down to "the big city"!
The bonus was that as the guard couldn't get down the train through the crush, we didn't have to pay for our journey! (I had my wallet out ready to pay - we weren't fare dodging!)
The Sci-Fi meeting, which was on the hills overlooking the Stadium, was good fun. It was a lot busier than the other meetings that we'd been to, and a lot of new faces. It was a little bit intimidating at times - having thought that I'd got to know most of the Phoenix members, I suddenly realised that there were a lot more than I'd already met, and I was going to have to remember a lot more names (I'm not good at names at the best of times!). But it was still good fun, and we got to have some very interesting discussions. We had to leave a little earlier than we would have liked, but had been warned that we would want to get the train *before* the gig finished for obvious reasons!
Then yesterday (Monday), we had our first orchestra rehearsal. Having been to their Christmas concert, and then had to wait all summer whilst they were on holiday, I've been really missing playing in a group. I will admit that I was a little bit nervous when we arrived at the school where the orchestra rehearses. Already knowing that they had two oboes, I was a bit worried about being a "spare wheel", but I needn't have been concerned. Everyone was incredibly friendly - the two oboes insisting that I sit between them so that I could look at both of their music and choose which one I wanted to play (I did opt for second all the way through - I didn't want to get landed with an unexpected solo, particularly given that I've not really played for three months!). We were all sight-reading, which was very nice, if a bit brain aching - it is a lot harder to come into something when everyone else knows what they are doing! The pieces weren't too difficult, but were taxing enough that I'm looking forward to having my own copy so that I can do some practice. Afterwards we stayed behind to have a bit of a chat, and ended up nearly being the last to leave (no change there, then!) The lady who is in charge of the sheet music also plays the accordion, and is going to get me the contact details of her teacher so that, when I've been paid (oh, this pay is going to be stretched out a bit!), I can actually have some lessons before I pick up too many bad habits.
I've started doing some background reading ready for work next week - I'm happy to see that, on the surface, the procurement rules in NZ are very similar to those in the UK, so it won't be quite the feeling of being thrown in the deep end. Maybe just up to my chin...
Another lovely thing is that Kerry, the chap who interviewed me, emailed me to say that he is the president of the Upper Hutt hockey club. He'd noticed that I'd put hockey down as an interest on my CV, and has asked me if I would like to join! So the weekend after next (the one after I start work), I'm heading up to the astro-turf for registration and a couple of warm up games. I'm rather hoping that they will need a goalie - I think I may be a little bit unfit for running around on the pitch!
So, when I start up TKD after pay day (probably mid-March now), I will be back to a full after work schedule!