Where did that week go?
Time has just flown by, and I can't believe that we are at the end of yet another weekend!
Things have been incredibly busy at work, in both good and bad ways. It is good in that I am being given more projects to do, and people are learning that it is my job to help them, but bad in that I am not having a chance to sit and look back over things and consolidate them; I'm always moving on to the next bit and hoping that I'm not making too much of a mess of things! Next week I've got a number of training courses, and I hope that they will help put things in context and give me a better idea of where I need to be coming from. I had a very interesting meeting with my equivalent in a different agency; the agency had run a similar procurement project a few years ago, and he had a number of lessons learned that he wanted to share. I've since learned that I need to take his opinion with a little pinch of salt (his reputation isn't that great across the sector), but it was definitely useful information.
We've also had a little bit of turmoil as a press release from the Minister regarding efficiency savings was interpreted by the media as massive redundancies - fortunately, we have a very good CIO who took the time to have meetings with the IT group and explain what was really meant and to allay any fears (she did point out that, with the savings that had already been found by the finance team, if they did have to have redundancies, then at most it would be six people, and she had already had (by show of hands) far more than that from people looking for early retirement!)
The social side of the week has also been very busy; we had the general Sci-fi meeting on Wednesday, which was, as always, good fun. Then Thursday, I was out with hockey - we didn't get a great practice in as it got dark, and it turns out that the pre-season pitch only has two floodlights on them, both at one end. So we had to finish early, which is a bit frustrating when you've paid a train fare to get there! Fortunately, someone was able to give me a lift home (which was even more appreciated when I realised how far out of their way they had gone!), which was a good thing, as I'd just watched the last train for an hour go past when they announced that they were cancelling the rest of the practice. This week's practice will be at a closer, and better, pitch.
Friday was interesting - we had a spectacular storm which blew in from the South Island - it really was a case of the sky suddenly going black - we were able to watch it rolling across the city. Thunder, lightening, hail and tornadoes (though I didn't actually get to *see* the tornadoes as they just over the hill and hidden by the low lying clouds - the damage they did was incredible, though, including lifting roofs off of buildings "like paper" according to one news report - fortunately in that case, a school, the kids had been let out for the day about half an hour earlier, and there was pretty much no-one about, meaning that no-one was hurt. In fact, across the whole of the two islands, there was very little injury given the scale of the storm). I was working late anyway, and quite thankful of allowing the worst of the rain to blow over. However, the storm had done its damage, and when I got to the station, it was bursting at the seams with people. I ended up standing next to a perfect stranger, and asked him what was going on - it turned out that a tree had come down across the lines. This had taken the power out further up the tracks, and the train company were trying to work out what to do. We got chatting, and, after a while, I (very cheekily) asked whether I could borrow his mobile (and pay him for the text) to let John know that I was going to be late - knowing KiwiRail, we could easily have been there for a couple of hours, but I didn't want to risk leaving the platform to look for a public call box, just in case they put something on while I was gone. The announcement then came through that the company could get us to Petone, which was only about half the way to my stop. They were then going to try to sort out replacement buses (but given that it was Friday rush hour, it might take some time) Ashley then said that as his car was parked at Petone station, did I fancy a lift home? Now all the rules of common sense said that I should have declined (particularly as he knew that I didn't have a phone), but common sense wasn't soaking wet and absolutely shattered from a long week at work (and didn't have a husband at home waiting for his birthday pizza!) And, to be honest, he was a very nice bloke, and we had a great chat all the way home. So, no worries :-) And another indication of how nice the Kiwis are as a race!
The birthday pizza that I mentioned came from a fantastic company called Hell Pizza - www.hell.co.nz - their pizza names include the seven deadly sins, the seven circles of hell as well as various other amusing names. For me, however, the big intrigue was that they do dessert pizza. This turned out (once I'd scraped all the toppings back on - the delivery guy had held it on its side!) to be a sweeter pizza dough with chocolate and vanilla custard and various cooked berries. It doesn't sound like it should work, but it definitely does!
Whilst we were eating our pizza and enjoying "Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra" (much worth watching - I definitely recommend, even if Mr BB had a few tuning problems with his singing...), there was a thunderous knocking on the door, and it turned out to be our neighbour's son. He had a plate of nibbles, meat and dips in his hand and passed it over saying "Mum said to give this to you, I don't know why." Very bemused, I thanked him, and (as we were very full from pizza) we put the food in the fridge for another day!
On Saturday, we were invited out by one of our Sci-fi friends to go and watch another of his friends flying model helicopters with his aviation group. Whilst this had the definite potential to be a "boys and their toys" day, it was really great fun. The skill of some of the fliers had to be seen to be believed (and I do actually have some videos of these on the camera. Unfortunately, none of the films are very good on their own - they need a bit of editing. Which means that I need to find a decent Linux video editor, or wait until we get a *ptooie* Windows PC. So, you will get to see them, it just won't be straight away!) - they were throwing the model helicopters (worth scary amounts of money!) through the sky (and very close to the ground), both right way up and upside down, and, aside from one which didn't get into the air due to a bust giro (in itself costing over $1,000...), nothing crashed or got broken. And we also got a free lunch out of it (the club is sponsored by one of the local supermarkets, who provided a veritable feast, including burgers, buns, crisps, fruit and drinks...) Alex then took us round the Porirua shops again, which was even better now that we had a bit of disposable income to spend! I've picked up some lovely fluffy wool and have just started my next knitting project (having not quite finished my last one...)
Sunday was another early start - I'd been called on Friday by the coach for the 2nd hockey team asking whether I wanted to play in a friendly match - a mixture of both the 1st and 2nd teams. I definitely wasn't going to say no, so was at the pitch just after 9.00. The match itself was great fun, but very difficult, with the ball spending a lot of time down our end. It was very interesting to start to get a feel for the different ways of playing, and realised how much I'd got used to the Bristol Ladies' defence tactics (here, there is pretty much no marking until the players are in the D, which makes me feel a lot less secure, as the team seems to often be on the back foot once the ball does get closer to goal!) But I saved more than I let in (and was only cross with myself with one of the goals), and think that I didn't do too badly given that, aside from a couple of practices, I've not played since September. And, on that part, the 1st team coach didn't think I'd done too badly, either, as she asked afterwards whether I'd mind subbing for the 1st goalie if she couldn't make matches. Like I'd say "no" to that!
Sunday afternoon, after we did our supermarket run, I spent making cheese scones to put on the now empty and washed up nibbles plate from our neighbours. We then spent a very nice half hour or so round at their place chatting - they are a lovely family (even if she says she is having a couple of problems with her teenage son - we certainly don't hear them arguing!), and I think that we are very lucky to have such nice people on either side of us.
And that was last week. It's now Tuesday (I have been writing this post for a couple of days - I hadn't realised that it had got quite so long!), so we've had another orchestra rehearsal. We've only got a couple of weeks to go before the concert, but it does all seem to be coming together now (and I'm now hearing the music whenever things go quiet, which means that it has sunk into my brain!) And my pepper plant has bloomed - when I popped into the greenhouse to get basil and spinach for supper, I spotted that there are a number of open flowers hiding under the leaves. I'll try to get some photos tomorrow :-)