I'll try to get a bit better at blogging - a month is really too long between posts...
Last night marked two years since taking off from the UK, tomorrow morning marks two years since we landed in New Zealand. Tomorrow, I take my lunch hour to go to the Wellington branch of Immigration New Zealand to apply for our full blown Permanent Residency visas which will allow us to enter and leave New Zealand whenever we like. (confusingly, they've changed the process since we landed; under the terms that we got our visas, we have Permanent Residency, but needed to apply for our Indefinite Returning Residents visas; now, under the new rules, we are only Residents, and need to apply for our Permanent Residency visas...)
I still have days when I have to pinch myself to convince myself that we are really here. It just seems so surreal that we are walking around half a planet away from where we were born and raised. And I still have days when I walk round with a great big grin on my face, usually those when the sun is shining and the the wind is blowing enough to stream out the various New Zealand flags around the capital city.
The last two years have gone by so quickly, and I really feel that we have settled in completely. We have a fantastic group of friends, particularly within the sci-fi community, and I believe that our very active social life is one of the reasons that Wellington truly feels like home, and this has been mirrored in conversations with other migrants; those who have settled and don't spend half their time looking back 'home' are those who get out and about, meeting people and making friends.
I have been incredibly lucky to land a job that I enjoy (well, about 80% of the time, which is far more than most!), and the likelihood that this will turn into an ongoing career (helped a lot by a very supportive manager and overall head of department, both of whom are as ambitious for me as I am for myself!). Given the number of jobs that I applied for, and the near miss with the job that collapsed just after we arrived, I believe that I have really fallen on my feet.
We are currently house hunting, so will shortly be setting down further roots when we in-debt ourselves to a bank. The area that we are looking in is further away from Wellington, but the longer commute is offset by better property prices and some lovely houses.
Of course, I miss the UK, but for me, it is always going to be friends and family that I miss, not anything material. The internet has been a brilliant way of making sure that the friendships that we have can continue, despite the distances between us. Skype is a great modern invention - free video calls anywhere in the world? Even the concept was only a Sci-Fi idea twenty years ago (a quick look on Wikipedia states that the first webcam was developed in 1991...), yet the weekly call home to both sets of families is now an integral part of our life - I would hate to think what it would cost if we actually had to pay over and above our monthly internet charges!
The last month has been busy, not only with the usual social activities (plus a few dinner and play dates with people from the board-gaming group), but with house hunting. New Zealand has a great tradition of Open Homes, where people who are selling houses have public viewings for a short, advertised, period of the day (usually about an hour). This means that, with a bit of careful planning, you can get round five or six houses in an area in a long and slightly exhausting afternoon. You do get to know all the estate agents, too - there's quite a few that we are on first name terms with now! The process of buying houses is slightly different to the UK, but that is a whole new post, and will wait until we have reached the end of the journey (I don't want to jeopardise anything - superstitious much?).