It is nice to see that New Zealand has the same tradition of public holidays as the UK - it's a long weekend here, and it has rained pretty much steadily for Sunday and Monday (so much for my plans to head back out to the reserve to see what has changed since I was last there four months ago!) We have managed to celebrate the Queen's Birthday, though - we had some of our sci-fi friends over on Saturday evening for an impromptu board gaming and socialising session, and yesterday I cooked my first roast dinner in ages (the kitchen still smells faintly of roasted chicken).
It has been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote properly - only having a couple of nights in a week does help the time pass quickly at the very least!
As briefly mentioned, I went out to a Ceilidh the Saturday before last with some of our orchestra friends. Sadly, John wasn't able to go, as he'd fallen in the rain and taken the skin off his knee - not too badly, but enough that he wouldn't have been able to dance on it, and he decided that he'd rather go to the PIG SIG that was happening at the same time, where he wouldn't just be sat on the sidelines watching everyone else have fun. The Ceilidh itself was great fun - unlike most ones we'd been to (at birthdays or weddings), where the dancing was secondary to the celebration (and therefore the eating and the drinking), this one had the chairs laid out in a 'no nonsense' ring around the outside of the dance hall, and very few people actually sat out any of the dances. There were a good proportion of the dancers in kilts, reflecting the number of people who have Scottish ancestry. The dances themselves were a mixture of ones which I already knew, others with familiar moves, and some which were completely new. Everyone was incredibly friendly, particularly given that I'd come without a partner, and only knew a few faces around the dance floor. It did help that the first few dances were of the type where you swap partners on a very regular basis, so I got to know the faces, if not the names, of a good number of people there. It was a very enjoyable evening, and I'm already looking forward to next year!
Hockey has been interesting these last couple of weeks - we've had a very poor turnout at practice, last week because it was throwing it down with rain, and this week because we didn't have a game yesterday, and so a lot of people decided to take the night off. Whilst this is very frustrating for me in terms of teamwork (if we don't practice as a team, it makes it a lot harder to gel together in matches, it is very good when one of the people who doesn't turn up is the first team's goalkeeper - I've had two weeks of very intensive workout!
John and I went up to the Upper Hutt Sci-fi meeting on Tuesday - a new set of people to meet and get to know (although one of them is the husband of one of the flautists, and another is one of the violinists at orchestra (who very kindly gave us a lift there and back), so we didn't feel like we were stepping completely into the unknown! It was a good fun evening, if a little bit cold (the temperature on the heater didn't get above 16 all evening), and I'm looking forward to the next one.
Work has been very busy, too - I definitely feel that I've earned this day off. It's still "good" busy, but it would be nice to stop having quite so much piling up!
We've had a couple more encounters with NZ wildlife - a small hedgehog nosed its way round our lawn last week, and this week, on our way back from the shops, we spotted a praying mantis crossing our path. I'm sure that drivers going past must have thought we were very odd as we crouched down to look at the tiny insect!