Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas!
Claire, Scott, and I are catching a flight up to Auckland tomorrow morning and are hoping to hit Warkworth just after lunch - providing the traffic isn't too horrendous.
Mum and Dad are looking forward to having all of us home for Christmas this year, along with 1 & 1/2 grandchildren.
It will be great.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Surprise For Rox!

Imagine a gloomy day at work - the weather is a little chilly for Spring, you have vision problems caused by a migraine starting, and you've just had a run in with the twat down in despatch THEN something amazing happens. Think of the best thing you can think of and then times it by 1,000,000. This was my day on Tuesday.
So there I was, working hard in the office. Head down. And suddenly I saw a couple of familiar faces walk past the window. I possibly screamed, got up out of my chair, and RAN down to reception, almost bowling over Julian on the way, to greet the surprise visitors - Averil, Eru, and Eru's twin brother Karati. Oh happy days!

What a fantastic surprise. It was so surreal! The two little monkeys had planned all along to come home earlier than they had told everyone to surprise us. And what a surprise!

After being the 'surprisee' at work, I was got to become part of the 'surpriser' team at Roxburgh Street. Apes, Eds, and Kuds headed straight there after seeing me and by the time I got there Claire hadn't yet arrived home. Hmmm.... I rang her to see where she was and said I had popped in for a cup of tea. She was at the Warehouse printing off photos and would be home in half an hour. Perfect. Renee, on the other hand, was a little more difficult. I had sent her a text to see if she wanted to go for a walk after work - she's always up for a walk. She was keen and suggested we meet at our usual spot at Hagley Park... hmm problem.. I said we should meet at Roxburgh Street so we could pick up Claire and all go together. She said maybe I could pick up Claire and we both meet her at Hagley Park.. Hmmm not quite as easy as I first thought. I gave it one last attempt by saying we should just meet at Claire's. She was tired after night shift and even though she thought it was odd, said she'd be there. Phew! My work here was done.

Renee was the first to arrive and when she saw Averil and Eru she screamed, dropped her cardi, and cried. Good result.

Then, finally, Claire arrived home. She saw Karati and had to look twice before realising it wasn't Eru and proceeded to launch into a story about her dream from the previous night where Averil and Eru were home ........ and then they walked around the corner. Claire cried. Another good result.

So of course there was lots of chatter and questions and more hugs before Eru and Karati took off for a boys night of twin bonding.

Claire, Renee, Averil, and I went out to see Paula and Kazio. I had called Paula earlier to say I would pop out for a cup of tea. I was starting to love being a tricky trickster.
I walked in first, followed by Claire, Renee and lastly Averil. Paula practically threw her dinner on the table as she jumped up to hug Averil. Yet another good result. This was fun!
Alex also came home while we were there so it was good to see him.

Paula has a new kitten, Roz, who I immediately fell in love with. She is just a wee dot of fur and was plum tuckered out after a day of Christmas tree climbing, and Alex scratching. She is just gorgeous and I was VERY close to putting her in my bag and bringing her home. Even Averil, who doesn't particularly like kittens, had to admit that she was a little bit cute.

I think all of us had a permanent smile on all day on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tis The Season To Eat Lollies!

First up I can't believe it's December already! That means next month is January which is the start of a brand new year (in case you couldn't work that out for yourself). I wonder what 2011 holds...
This year has whipped by. A little too fast actually, for my liking.

I was looking through a Property Press the other day (I like to keep up with house prices) and came across a house that looked very familiar. 2 Bath Street, in Hanmer Springs is up for sale for a whopping $455,000. It was listed as having been a holiday home and I wonder if the new owners will keep it that way. Otherwise we may have to look for other suitable accommodation on our stints up in Hanmer Springs.

My bestie, Kristine, from Warkworth came down to Christchurch last weekend which was fabulous. I happened to be house sitting in Halswell for the week which worked out beautifully. We had a nice balance of relaxation and doing stuff. On Friday night we met Claire, Scott, and Renee at the Dux De Lux for a yummy dinner and a couple of wines before heading to the Court Theatre for Scared Scriptless. For those who don't know, Scared Scriptless is an impromptu comedy show. There is a lot of audience participation and heckling and it was hilarious. I've been 3 times over the past few years and it is always a very good night out with lots of laughs.

On Saturday Kristine and I went out to Ruapuna Speedway to see her husband Derek who was down in Chch for the weekend with a group of friends who are all part of a racing car team. Simon Sceats (who is originally from Warkworth) drives the car and has been the winner for the past two years but this year they have a new Audi and it doesn't seem to be doing so well for them. On their race Simon's car clapped out and he left the track after the race had finished in the car on the back of a tow truck, not looking very pleased.

It was a beautiful day out there and we stayed for the following race of V8 utes as well before heading back home. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Maybe I have hidden motorhead tendencies??

On Saturday night I invited Claire, Scott, and Renee around for dinner with us. Just a simple steak and salad dinner but it was nice with good company and a few wines. After dinner I brought out the raspberry slice and chocolate mint slice biscuits (a common accompaniment when Krissy and I are together!) and with one piece of raspberry slice left we decided whoever had the best story for the nicest thing they have ever done for someone else would win said slice.

Kristine won with her story from while she was in England her train was delayed and then they had to change trains. As she was disembarking she noticed a blind man come off the same train so went over to ask if he needed help finding the next train which he graciously accepted. It turns out that he is married to a Kiwi girl and has published some books, one of which Kristine has read. Now for the really weird part. Back in little old Warkworth Kristine was in town one day and saw him accross the road - in Warkworth!! So went over and introduced herself again. Small world. Anyway, she won the raspberry slice and we all watched enviously as she enjoyed her winnings. I know I had a smile on my face but my mind was frantically scheming on how I could do something to better that for the next time such a competition arose.
Anyway, from that competition we decided to issue a challenge for the next 4 weeks to try and do one selfless act each week. I haven't achieved my first one yet so have a lot of work to do!
On Sunday we went for a walk through Hagley Park - which is so beautiful at any time of year - to the Art Gallery to see the Ron Mueck exhibition. Ron Mueck is a sculptor and his work is amazing. He makes scuptures of people which are either really big or really small but are so life like. It was well worth having a look at.

After a cup of tea at Roxburgh Street we headed to the airport for Kristine to catch her flight back to Auckland.

This week at work has been really busy but, being as competant and efficient as I am (ha ha) I have managed to handle the pressure. We had our work department dinner on Friday night so 5 of us went and played pool for a couple of hours being heading to the Belgium Beer Cafe for dinner. It was a good night out but I woke up yesterday feeling very old. Not hungover, just sore. I had walked into one of the pool tables on Friday night and hit my hip, I got knocked in the other hip on Thursday night at netball by my evil partner, and I still have a very tender foot from where some drunk punk stood on it a couple of weeks ago while I was out in town. Yes, poor old bruised and battered me.

Today is Sunday and it's a nice day outside. I have plans to ride Averil's bike (which I borrowed and have only ridden 3 times) back to Roxburgh Street. And then walk back home. It's safe to say I'm not a fan of bike riding. Maybe I'll see an old person on the way that I can help across the road as my 'pay it forward' deed for last week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fluffing Aboot

I can't believe it's been a month since my last blog entry. There's not TOO much to report. I've just been fluffing around enjoying the warmer weather.
Let's see if I can think of any recent tales of interest... Hmmmm..

My Scottish friend Jenni Pryde came down to Christchurch last weekend. We had a public holiday on the Friday for Show Day (Canterbury's regional annual holiday) and the weather was superb. Jenni has been living in Ngaruawahia (where?) since arriving in NZ in August so was amping to hit the mall. It was nice and cool in the mall too so we had a good old look around and Jenni crossed some things off her foot-long 'Things to do when I hit civilization' list. Then we went to Denny's for a late lunch/early dinner.... Mmmmm .... Denny's.

Friday night was a quiet one in. We shared a bottle of wine. Had cups of tea and little Weight Watchers cookies (had to balance out the Denny's chocolate shake, you see) and watched Friday night tv. It was nice to catch up again.

On Saturday morning, after moving in to Roxy Inn to house sit while Claire and Scott were up in Warkworth for the weekend (more about that later!) we put on our pretty dresses and off we went to the Riccarton Gallops. Even the bus ride there was exciting as I don't often catch the bus... which was kind of obvious when the lovely bus driver told us where we should get off and then we had to walk for about 20 minutes, in heels, in the heat, to the races. Oh well, we got there ok (with a few blisters) and met up with my friend Richard from work, his wife, and some friends of his. Feeling very thirsty after our marathon to get there, we proceeded to line up for 30 mins to get a drink! Crafty us decided it would be a good idea to get a bottle of wine rather than just a glass. Always thinking, me.

We placed a couple of 'combo' bets - it was like ordering McDonalds! I'm not a gambler really, I get the odd lotto ticket but that's about it, so needed all the help I could get. None of our bets won anything but it was very exciting watching the race and rooting for our numbers! Fun times.

We got back to Roxburgh Street around 6pm and my flatmate Belinda, and friend Renee came and joined us before heading into town. It was extremely busy due to the races and there were a lot of very young, very drunk people. Jenni and I (the nanas that we are) were home by midnight after our long, exhausting day.
The following morning we had about 50 cups of tea before heading to Denny's (again!) for lunch. Then it was out to the airport by 3pm for Jenni's flight back to Hamilton. It was over so quickly but she is hoping to get some cheap flights to come back at the end of January. Yay!

So, as mentioned, Scott went up to Warkworth last weekend for the 'Big Reveal'. Claire had been up there since the Wednesday as she had bridesmaid duties to do for her friend, Jess who is getting married in Raratonga next year. We had briefed Scott on key topics of importance -ie, appreciating Dad's garden, no swears in front of Mum, that sort of thing, and it seems he passed with flying colours. Phew! Not that we really doubted he would. It will make Christmas time that much more comfortable for him having already met most of the family. Perhaps a little less overwhelming.

I got a letter back from Broadcasting School about a month ago to say that unfortunately I wasn't accepted. There was a number to call at the bottom of the letter to discuss my application if I felt inclined. I decided to call just to see what I could have done better and what I could do in the future should I wish to apply again - for that, or any course.
So, I rang and talked to the course co-ordinator and he explained that because I've had no experience in the field that would have counted against me. Now, throughout the whole application form it clearly stated in BOLD that they were NOT looking for ready made broadcasters. If I were applying for a job I would agree that having no experience would be a major downfall BUT I was applying for a course to learn all that. I just found it odd. Nevermind, I wasn't angry or upset that I didn't get in, just confused by his explaination.

So then I moved on to Plan B. I found the MOST beautiful little cottage for sale in St Albans and decided to see what (if any) my chances were to purchase it. I went to an open home just the week before the auction and totally and completely fell in love with it. Even the letterbox was cute with 'Love Letters Only' above the slot. Ooohhh sweetums!
So I had to move fast with only 5 days until it would definately sell.
I rang my bank and had a good old chat with one of the lenders and everything was looking particularly good UNTIL I gave her my last 3 months wages. Because I had gone on holiday for 5 weeks in July and had only been paid for 3 of those weeks with holiday pay, the rest was leave without pay it made a considerable difference to that months wage. Because they had to take the lowest amount for the calculation I didn't meet the criteria. I explained that it was a one off and she was so lovely about it but there was nothing she could do. She said if I tried back next month after that payment would have slipped off to be replaced by the next months wage it would have been no problem. But the auction was that week so it was no use to me. It was very frustrating but there was nothing either of us could do so I had to say a tearful goodbye to Plan B. I did, however, go along to the auction mainly to be nosey. As I was walking in I found $10 on the footpath - a good omen? The house did end up selling for $341,000 which was $61,000 over my budget AND it went to a young family which I was very pleased about.

Any other plans are currently on hold until after the festive season. I'm having a plan siesta.

I know you're probably sick of hearing about the earthquake but we are still getting aftershocks. Most of them I don't feel but apparently there has been over 3000 now. Amazing. A lot of older buildings in and around the CBD have now been pulled down. And there is still fencing and cordans around a lot of buildings, especially through Sydenham township. It is very sad. The Earthquake Commission have had 108,243 claims as at 2 Nov and I have heard that in the 3 months since the quake they have settled 5000 of these. Obviously they are trying to sort out the worst affected first, but it is a long wait for those unsure of whether their houses are staying or are to be pulled down. With every aftershock comes a new worry that the damage is worsening.
Apparently Claire's neighbours, (the not-so-nice ones) have problems with their pilings which may result in the house having to be pulled down. Result! Ooh that isn't nice, but the house is an eyesore. I wonder if they have tried to claim peeling paint, rusty roof, and rotting wood as an effect of the earthquake??

Unfortunately our favourite pub Sullivans, in Manchester Street in the city is closed and possibly won't be reopening which is sad. We've had many a good night in there.

I had another mini break up North at the beginning of the month. I flew up to Auckland on the Friday night (at a reasonable time this time) and Mum and Dad were at the airport to pick me up. Bless them. In their new car which is pretty flash! I stayed in Warkworth for the night and then my friend Krissy and I borrowed Mum's 'spare' car and drove up to Whangarei for a dress fitting and to stay with Swayze and see Rachael (the bride). Rachael has her wedding dress and put it on so we could see it - she looked beautiful! She's going to make such a beautiful bride. I can't wait!! We went shoe shopping but didn't buy anything yet. And then went back to Swayze's for wine and belly laughing. It was a great evening.
Krissy and I left Whangarei around 9.30am Sunday morning to head back to WW.
Cousin Heather came down to Mum and Dad's for a cup of tea at 11am and a catch up which was really nice. Unfortunately A Mary was out on the yacht that day so couldn't make it which was a shame but a nice day for her I am sure.
After lunch we headed back to Auckland and stopped in for afternoon tea with Kathryn and Moos which was lovely before heading to the airport. It was over all too quickly.... again.
I'm looking forward to being up there for 2 weeks over Christmas. It might give me a little more time to relax and catch up with some others I haven't seen for a while.

On Friday night I went out (shock horror! Friday nights are usually my stay-in-watch-tv nights!) and met up with some cool ex Cherry Tree-ers - Brianna and Julia. I invited Renee along too thinking we would go out, have a few drinks, and be home in time for 'School Reunion' which started last week and is total crap but totally watchable. I was wrong.
After drinking a couple of very yummy, very expensive Cosmopolitans at Minx bar in His Lordships Lane we ventured to Yellow Cross. We were up dancing - by ourselves, having a great old time with what seemed like a semi circle of people around us watching us dance like frogs in a blender. It was reminiscent of a Form 2 social! I haven't laughed so much in ages! It was a fun and funny night. Julia and Brianna left about.... actually, I don't even know what time they left, but Renee and I stayed out and didn't get home until 8.30am!! I know! If Nana Bartlett were still here she would call me a dirty stopout! We met 3 Australian guys and after the bar closed at 3am we went back to the hostel they were staying at for drinks (because we hadn't had enough already) and then ended up staying in their room in bunks. All above board, can I just say... honestly Mum. They were nice guys and we had a lot of laughs. They were catching the bus to Queenstown yesterday morning. I told them to look out for the most beautiful girl in the world and if they saw her, that was my niece. They said they'd keep their eyes peeled but didn't think she would be hanging out in bars, which is more than likely where they would be.
So suffice to say, I slept most of yesterday morning away, which was fine because it was raining anyway. I feel like a young 20-something year old!!

So today is Sunday and the sun seems to be trying to shine through the clouds. The rain has stopped. I am meeting up with Gail who I worked with at CherryTree this afternoon for a coffee (cup of tea for me) and her gorgeous 3 year old grandson James. I've only met James about 3 times now and he LOVES me. He always tries to sit as close as possible to me. Bless. He is a cutie. So this young'un had better go and get up and atom seeing as yesterday was such a write off.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lines In The Sand

It's been nearly 6 weeks since the Canterbury earthquake and we are STILL experiencing aftershocks. Some are under the radar and aren't even noticeable. Others are bigger and remind us just who is still in charge. There have been more than 1500 aftershocks now.

I had taken a break from my daily routine and blamed everything on the earthquake - not exercising, not going out, not living life. So I decided last week it was high time to draw a line in the sand and move on.

This week has been BUSY! I went to speed dating last Monday which was actually a lot more fun and a lot less embarassing than I thought it would be.

I went with a friend of my flatmate which was nice to have some support. There were 12 guys and 11 girls there (one girl had pulled out at the last minute so on every round 1 guy had to sit it out). The rounds lasted for 4 minutes and 19 seconds before the bell rang to move on.

All the guys were nice enough. The co-ordinator, Jane, gave a spiel at the beginning explaining what to do and told us to tick the people we think we would like to go out for coffee with - not to sit there imagining what our wedding days would be like or how our kids would look. It was more like a networking evening to meet new people and hopefully make some new friends.
Of the 12 guys, I ticked 5. 4 of the 5 ticked me which gave me access to their phone number. Jane sent this information in an email the following day and also said that out of the 12 guys, 10 of them were keen to meet me again. Whoopah!! A bit of a boost for my ego!

So, this week has been a dating frenzy. Lucky I have the night off dating tonight for netball otherwise I don't know when I find the time to update the blog!
Monday night was actually a date with a guy I met at the Yaldhurst Tavern when I was there for a night out a few weeks ago with Claire and Scott. It was nice and he seems like a nice guy.
On Tuesday night I met up with Scott who is Taiwanese and has lived in NZ for 14 years studying and now working as a physio therapist. He was nice and when he told me his favourite movie is The Notebook, I knew I had a friend for life.
Wednesday night's date was Neill (yes, with 2 L's) who is a counsellor. He is nice and very easy to chat to. We are meeting up again next week also.
Possibly meeting up with Marten, the horse dentist (laugh out loud if you like, I did) for a coffee after work tomorrow but that has yet to be confirmed.
So as you can see I have been VERY busy and important.

Last Tuesday our cousin Patrice, her husband Vawn, and their kids Dylan and Krystle were in Christchurch for one night only and invited me out for dinner. I enjoy meeting up with them when they are up from Balclutha. We went out for dinner and I played Hang Man with the kids.... and lost..... again. I told them I was going to think up some really good words and win next time. Vawn said I say that every time. Unfortunately Claire couldn't make it this time as she already had plans. It was a really nice evening catching up. They were in Christchurch to pick up a year old Bassett Hound puppy and take back home as a new pet.

On Saturday I flew to Queenstown for the night. The flight was very turbulant and I wasn't sure if we were actually going to land. The plane was lowering to the runway and then we started climbing again. It seemed like ages before we again started our descent and finally landed in Qtown. It was nice to be there and to see the Southern Barts and their new house.

Annabelle is just delicious! She seems to have her own little language with some Japanese and Italian thrown in for good measure - Catkin is 'Mama-san', peas are 'Peas-a', and cheese is 'Cheese-a'. I am amazed at her perserverance and patience which possibly she gets from Gavin. And her ability to entertain herself. She is just so precious. And funny (which she obviously gets from me).

It was a lovely mini-break and I was looked after and fed very well. Catkin is now 5 months pregnant and looks the picture of health. I can't wait until February to have another little one to cluck over.

Tonight is our final netball game at Howzat in Wise Street, Addington. They are moving all the teams over to Matipo Street in Riccarton due to an increase in rent and a decline in teams. We are playing the Zero's tonight and the blonde tart from a few weeks ago will no doubt be playing. Hopefully she won't be so gobby and I won't have to tell her off again.

If we win tonight we get into the semi finals on Sunday. Half our team won't be available to play on Sunday so it won't be the end of the world if we don't win.

This just in: We won our game tonight which means we play in the finals on Sunday. Yipee! Blonde tart did not show.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Three Weeks On....

Well it's been a little over 3 weeks since the earthquake and Christchurch is still getting the shakes. There have been over 700 aftershocks since the original quake - there were 108 on the first day! Just when we are starting to relax another aftershock hits... just to let us know that Mother Earth is still in charge. Many people are unable to return to their homes. It's very sad.
We have, however, been blessed with beautiful sunny days and warmer weather for the past few weeks while the rest of the country has had to contend with pouring rain, flooding, and snow.

I managed to get away for the weekend and flew up to Auckland on Friday night for a shake free weekend. Kathryn picked me up from the airport and very kindly took me up to Warkworth. We didn't get up there until after 11pm but Mum and Dad were still up so we had a cup of tea and a catch up before getting some much needed sleep. Kathryn and I shared a bed in the pink room and, because she is a bit of a wriggler, I woke up a few times thinking I was feeling another aftershock. Ha!

On Saturday morning my friend Kristine and I headed up to Whangarei to spend the night with Rachael (aka Muriel) and Swayze for bridesmaid duties. We got our measurements taken for the dresses, got the material (which is a beautiful gun metal grey satin), and made invitations so it was a very productive afternoon/evening. Oh, and drank quite a bit of wine. It was good to see the girls again and have big belly laughs. Rachael's 7 year old daughter Alexis helped as well, sticking the address labels on the envelopes and drawing pictures for Swayze to put on her fridge.

Before heading back to Warkworth on Sunday we went down to the waterfront in Whangarei for brunch which kept me full all day!

Mum and Dad had Sheena (Catkin's Aunty) staying so it was nice to meet her. She is a lovely lady. Sheena, Mum, and I went for a drive over to Matakana to see Uncle Bryan and Aunty Bev and have a nosy at the new house that Dad has built for them. It is VERY large and VERY nice. I gave it my seal of approval. The kitchen is MASSIVE with a little Butler's Kitchen to the side. Very impressive. It already has Uncle Bryan's chair in it and the tv so he can wander over and watch rugby when it's on. They aren't sure when they will fully move in but said there is no hurry.
Just inside the front door are two lead light doors opening to the formal lounge with pictures of roses in them. Uncle Bryan told me that these are in memory of Aunty Bev's Mum who passed away and loved roses. A very nice touch I thought.

And a big welcome to Rachael Easterbrook - my friend in Auckland and my 11th follower! The Roxy Review is becoming quite world famous now!

The best news I've had lately is that Averil and Eru are heading home in December. For good. I am so excited!! Not sure on a date yet as last time I heard from Averil they were looking at flights. I know Mum is VERY happy that all her babies and grandbabies are going to be in the same country again. Looking SO forward to seeing you guys again, Apes & Eds. Hopefully they will be able to join us in Warkworth for Christmas this year.

Our good friend Renee McInnes also came home recently after 3 years away in the UK and Canada. I am off to see her tonight for the first time since she arrived on Saturday so am looking forward to squidgy hugs and maybe a glass of wine. That's how we roll.

And I have completed phase 1 of Operation SOUL (sort out ur life) by filling out and sending in an application for Broadcasting School. If I get in it will be full time study for 2 1/2 years. That will be completely different but I'm excited about trying something new. Fingers crossed.....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shake, Rattle, And Roll

As you may or may not have heard we have had a bit of an exciting time recently in Christchurch. At 4.30am on Saturday morning we experienced a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Yes, we are all ok and are very thankful for all the emails, phone calls, and texts that have come through to check on us. We were lucky. Some others were not so lucky. Thankfully there have been no fatalities though which is a blessing. Had the earthquake hit a few hours earlier or later then the outcome may have been much worse. The centre of the city was badly hit and a lot of the older buildings did not make it.

I was house/cat sitting for Claire at Roxburgh Street on Friday night while she was away for a surprise birthday night in Hanmer Springs with Scott. I was shaken awake and it took a few moments to realise what was going on. I got up and made it to the doorway, in the pitch black, while I could hear things falling throughout the house. It's all a bit of a blur now but it seemed to go on for ages. I do remember seeing the cats scamper past me and under the bed to safety. I briefly wondered if I should join them under there incase walls and ceilings started falling. And then the shaking stopped.... for a while.

Luckily, because I have lived Roxy Inn, I knew where everything was so mananged to find Claire's torch WITH inbuilt radio. I lay in bed for the next 3 hours listening to talk back and texting people to make sure they were all ok.

Up in Hanmer Springs, 135km away, Claire and Scott were woken up by the room swaying. I text Claire to let her know that everything was alright as I didn't want her to turn on the television and see the news reports and worry. It didn't really work - she worried anyway. So at about 8am they left Hanmer Springs and headed home not really knowing what they were going to find, and foregoing the cooked breakfast that Claire had promised Scott and he was looking so forward to.

Back in Christchurch we had no power and my cellphone battery had run out but the land line was still working. I was talking to Dad around 8am when a rather large aftershock shook the house. It only lasted a few seconds though this time. Phew, but it still made my heart rate go up.

It was a relief to see Claire and Scott when they got home around 10am. Much nicer to have others around to share the doorways with.
Toby stayed under the bed until midday whereas Min was outside patrolling the perimeter and scooting under the deck with every aftershock.

The power came back on mid morning for us which was great. I was able to cook Claire's birthday dinner of beef olives, garlic bread, green beans, and mini roasties with gravy. I had made a chocolate cheesecake for dessert on Friday night - it was the first thing I checked on Saturday morning once it was light. It was still safely sitting on the top shelf in the fridge unscathed. The only breakages we had were one of Claire's beside lamps, a plate, and the spoon from the salt pig. Very, very lucky.

I had also made a birthday cake on Friday night which turned out to be absolutely disgusting! I blame the earthquake. Scott seemed to like it though and took some for morning tea at work on Monday. He can stay.

There were rumbles all throughout the weekend and everyone has been on edge since. No one seems to have slept much since Friday night as there are still a lot of aftershocks continuing - especially at night time. There was a quake just before 8am this morning measuring 5.4 and only 6km deep from over in Lyttleton - quite some distance from the original epicentre. It's scary. Everyone is over it and sleep deprived with shot nerves. I took today off work as a 'sick day' to try and catch up with myself. I can't concentrate on much at work and feel so, so tired. All schools and daycare centres in the Christchurch area are closed until Monday although Claire is going back to work tomorrow to catch up with the other teachers and make sure her nursery is ready for when the children come back. I think it helps to talk to others and discuss emotions. It has really affected the region.

Other, equally dramatic (on a different level) news is that I quit my second job at Cherry Tree a few weeks ago. I had a run in with the call centre supervisor after pulling her up on some lies that I had heard she had said which she denied. After a heated discussion I sat back at my desk, text Claire to tell her I was coming by after work, and then thought 'Actually, I don't need this' so got up and left in a blaze of glory. I got to Claire's and rang my manager to tell her I had just walked out and would not be back. I have never ever walked out of a job before and it felt very liberating to take control and not put up with their crap. The following day my boss rang me and asked me to reconsider as she didn't want to lose me. Which loosely translates to 'I have no staff because they keep leaving because I'm a bully, please come back to keep the calling numbers up and make me look good.' I said no. She asked me to think about it and give her a call on Monday. I still said no. It is SO nice having my evenings back. You would THINK that I would have had more time to do important things like update the Roxy Review, wouldn't you? I don't really know what I have been doing but my nights are full. Must try to prioritise.

We celebrated Alex's 20th birthday on Monday by going to Paula and Kazio's for dinner. It was nice. Alex's girlfriend Sam was there as was his friend Jesse. Scott came too and it was a lovely dinner and a very pleasant evening. Alex had told Paula he didn't want us to sing Happy Birthday to him which of course meant 'please sing Happy Birthday as loud as you possibly can to me'. He was suitably embarrassed. My work there was done.

Toby has had a very stressful week. After being part of a massive catfight in the driveway on Friday night he came running inside with his tail the size of a racoon's. Then of course there was the trauma of the earthquake. He jumped everytime there was an aftershock and was not his usual staunch self. Everytime we went outside on Saturday he would come out and run to the garden to wee but nothing was happening. Claire and Scott took him to the emergency vet on Sunday morning and they put in a catheter to drain his bladder. They kept him in overnight and then on Monday Claire had to pick him up before 8am and take him to his usual vet so they could carry on his treatment. He stayed with them for two more nights while they monitored his peeing pattern. We went in today to pick him up and he was very relaxed and looking a lot happier. The nurse told Claire that this morning she heard him meowing loudly so went down to see that he was alright and then the earth shook. Like he was yelling at her to come down to where it was safe. He's home now and is to be kept in for a few days. He is currently lying, stretched out in front of the heater. Hopefully he is all fine now and will eat and wee regularly. Poor little man.

And we have another new follower to the elite club - welcome Kathryn!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back To Reality

The good thing about being awake at 3am with jet lag is the amount of things I get done. I have uploaded all photos onto the blog now (hint hint), have cleaned out my handbag, and am having breakfast - all before 6am which is normally the time my alarm goes off for me to get up for work. I am, however, dreading the 2pm tiredness which is sure to come. And the fact that I have to go to my second job after work AND then have a late game of netball tonight makes me feel tired even now, but not sleepy. Oh well, who needs sleep anyway?!

I made it home safely and in one piece with no major dramas. I thought for a split second that they weren't going to let me in to Shanghai for the night as I didn't have a visa. I had been told I didn't need one if I was staying less than 24 hours and as it turned out I was only there for 23 hours but it took the Chinese Immigration officers a good half hour to work this out. While I was waiting I was scoping out the most comfortable and quiet corner in case I had to stay there the night.

I had booked a hotel closer to the city and my room was pretty flash. I ventured out to get some milk for a cup of tea and that was the extent of my exploration of Shanghai. What I did discover was that all drivers toot their horns constantly and with good reason - the driving is SHOCKING but they all seem to cope. Crazy. Walking on the footpath and crossing only when there was a 'green man' made me feel like I was a dare devil taking my life in my own hands!

Dear sweet Kathryn was at the Auckland airport to meet me early early on Sunday morning. Bless her. I had originally been flying back to Chch that morning but had changed it so that I could spend the day in Auckland and surprise Mum for her birthday. Kathryn and I (mostly Kathryn) worked on a cunning plan to get Mum to Auckland for the day - not so hard really as she was looking forward to lunch with Dad, Kathryn, and Moos (Alan) in Auckland. And I gatecrashed it!
It was so good to see them all and Mum had no idea. I love it when a plan comes together!

We had a lovely lunch at the restaurant at the base of One Tree Hill (aka None Tree Hill/No Tree Hill/What Tree Hill - as there is no longer a tree there) which was superb.

The day was over too quickly (not quickly enough for Moos though as he kept looking at his pretend watch and asking what time my flight was) and I was back on the plane again bound for Christchurch. I was asleep before we even took off.

Claire was at the Christchurch airport to pick me up and it was a jolly sight cooler in Chch than it had been in Auckland. Claire hugged me to hard she squeezed a little tear out of my eye!
It was nice to be home.

Back to work on Monday and everyone greeted me with hugs - which I loved. Hugs are one of my top favourite things. I didn't really do too much and struggled through the day. The rest of the week has been much the same.

Last night was my first night back at Cherrytree. And as expected, it sux. I might wait it out a few more weeks and then chuck it. Will see. It would be nice to have my evenings back again.
Looking forward to a marathon of Outrageous Fortune on Saturday. My work mate's lovely wife has recorded them for me as the new season started while I was away. For those who don't know, Outrageous Fortune is THE best NZ television show EVER. Full of swearing and sex. Quality viewing. So I am looking forward to that.

And now I'm back it's time to decide what to do with my life. I had decided to get the trip out of the way before looking at what I want to do when I grow up. I can't put it off any longer. Watch this space......

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When In Rome....

Luckily I got a heads up from Bob and Sue Bowley after the last blog entry about the madness that is Ryanair. It is total chaos! No seat allocations again but luckily Jenni and I boarded early enough to get a seat together. Phew. When the plane landed everyone clapped. What the..? And because we were on time they sounded the trumpet. Like at the races. Apparently they do that on every flight that is on time. Random. Anyway, we live to tell the tale.

We had organised for the hostel shuttle to pick us up from the airport and just as well as it was a fair drive. I don't even know what it would have cost in a taxi. The hostel (which was more like a camping ground with little bungalows and cabins as well as space for tents and campervans) was only 7km from another airport, Marco Polo. It felt more like 7 meters though and we briefly wondered if we were actually ON the runway. It didn't take long to get used to it. The camp was really well set up with swimming pool, supermarket, restaurant, bar, laundry, internet, and wifi. Perfect for our three nights there.

The following morning we caught the camp shuttle bus into Venice which took about 25 minutes. The weather was hot. Venice was beautiful and there were LOTS of tourists. We spent most of the day walking around the city.

We found the Bridge Of Sighs where prisoners would get their last look over the city while walking from the palace to the jail. The bridge parallel to the Bridge of Sighs was jam packed. It took us 15 minutes to walk over it on the way back. Luckily when we had crossed it the first time there weren't so many people and we were able to get some good photos.

After a lunch of pizza we went on a gondola ride. It was perfecto! It was expensive but we had decided what we would pay up to beforehand and, well, it's just something you HAVE to do in Venice. The Gondolier gave us a little bit of history during the ride including showing us where Mozart had lived for a time, and also where Napoleon had lived. It was interesting and really surreal.

We did manage to get lost while trying to get back to the bus stop. It seemed we were walking in circles for close to an hour, crossing the same bridge again and again. But we finally asked some directions and got back to the bus stop in time to catch the bus back to the camp and rest our weary feet.

The following day we went back into Venice to organise train tickets to Florence. We happened to be there at a good time - no queues! Hurrah!! And managed to book tickets to Florence and then on to Rome so that was a good result.
We had another wee look about Venice before heading back to the camp and relaxing by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. Bliss.

On Thursday we headed for Florence. There were massive thunder storms with heavy rain which cooled the air down considerably. Still t-shirt weather though. I made good use of the rain jacket Paula had lent me. Brilliant!
By the time we made it to Florence the rain seemed to have stopped... for a while anyway. We had to ask directions to the hostel and were told in Italian the way.. which seemed to work. Lucky Italians speak a lot with hand gestures. We made it there just as the heavens opened and it poured again and continued through the night. We had booked in to a girls room with 4 beds and received a welcome pack with shower gel, cotton buds, nail file, soap and moisteriser AND the use of a white fluffy towel while staying. And Jenni and I had the room to ourselves too.

Friday was a beautiful day and we booked on a Taste Of Tuscany tour through the hostel which was brilliant and cemented my love for Italy. Our first stop was at a small family owned cafe to sample their wine, cheese, meat, and jam (pickles). We sat with an Australian couple and two American girls who were all really nice.

After brunch our next stop was a vineyard for a tour and then wine and oil tasting. It was interesting tasting the different types of olive oil. And of course it goes without saying that the wine tasting was great.
Next we were taken to the medieval town of Monterry Giannini that is still home to 42 people. It still has a wall completely surrounding it and was beautiful.

By the time we arrived back to the hostel we had two room mates. American girl who stayed out late and slept in, and Japanese girl who slept all the time and got up at 6am. We would be up around 8am so would try to be quiet while getting ready but you know when you try to be quiet you tend to make more noise. Poor American girl.

Saturday was our day of sightseeing. We went on the open topped bus tour of Florence hopping off at the Accadamia Galleria where the Statue of David is housed. There were massive queues again (what a surprise) all wanting a glimpse of David's *insert whistle here*. But, after an hour and a half trying to stay in the shaded spots, we made it inside. I was surprised how big the statue actually is. I thought he would be life size but he is massive. I felt like a hobbit.

After sightseeing we caught the afternoon train to Pisa for a look at the Leaning Tower. It was a nice little town and the tower was really nice. Reminded me of a wedding cake. And was so white! We didn't go inside because - everybody now 'there were massive queues'.

On Sunday we caught the train to Rome which took under 2 hours. Italy seems small and easy to get around in. Jenni had booked us into the Martini Hotel which was nice and central on Via Nationale and a quaint little boutique hotel. The room we shared looked like something we would expect to see in 1920's Paris. And the best thing is that it had AIR CONDITIONING!
After dinner we stayed in and watched Laguna Blu (the Blue Lagoon) in Italian on the telly.
Total formaggio (cheese) fest.

On Monday we hopped on another sightseeing bus and saw the sites of the beautiful city of Roma. It's amazing just how old parts of Rome are. Coming from such a young country it is almost unbelieveable. We stopped off at the Spanish Steps and walked around to the Trevi Fountain. And then stopped off quickly (another hour of queueing) at the Vatican so I could find out the mass times for Wednesday. The lovely nun who I spoke to said there was something happening on Wednesday morning at the Vatican but it sounded unfamiliar to this heathen. But she also said that the Vatican would be closed until 1pm.

On the way home we got a little lost again.... but asked some nice policemen who pointed us in the right direction. The street signs in Rome seem to be few and far between which made it hard to pin point where exactly we were. Jenni's quote of the day while trying to work out where we were by the buildings that looked familiar was 'Isn't our street near that big old brown thing?' referring to one of the beautiful old domed buildings. Hilarious.

Tuesday was Jenni's last day as there were no flights out of Rome on Thursday, so we decided to have a day at the beach. We caught the train - buying the tickets from a machine all by ourselves! - out to Fondi which was a beautiful but very busy beach.
It was a beautiful day and the water was so warm. I have never been swimming in sea water as warm as that.
On the return train trip the conductor gave us a 10 minute lecture, intirely in Italian, for not validating our train tickets. He pointed to a sign which stated a 50 Euro fine for failing to validate and throughout his lecture every sentence had 'slep slep' in it which, from his gestures, I gathered was his rendition of the noise the machine makes when validating the ticket. LUCKILY he took pity on us and never fined us. Phew. Not quite as travel savvy as we thought then.

My day by myself in Rome was good. I went shopping in the morning. Then I went along to the Vatican City in the afternoon (with about 10 thousand other people). I went up to the Cuppola and saw some awesome views of the city. I even posted a postcard off to Mum from there. It truly was amazing. I never got to see the Sistene Chapel though. Oh well, I'll just have to come back.

It is safe to say I have fallen in love with gelato (Italian Ice cream). Their chocolate flavour is SO chocolatey. I also tried the Pistachio and it was yummy.
I am totally over pizza - for a while at least. Although it is very yummy and not ladened with all those toppings we would get at home it is very tasty but I have eaten my quota for a year at least.
I find the Italian people very abrupt and not always the friendliest. Like when Jenni and I stopped for some lunch the other day the waitress told us to 'Sit down please' very abruptly we did what she asked and quickly.
Jenni has learnt that Tuscany is NOT in France but in fact in Italy.
I have learnt that Tuscany is not a town but a region. Apparently the staff at the hostel in Florence get asked all the time how to get to Tuscany when Florence is actually in Tuscany.
We obviously pass as Italian as Jenni was asked twice for directions and I was stopped 5 times! I thought it may have been my trendy fashion sense but Jenni said it's more likely to be my glasses. Apparently they make me look Italian.
My advice to others wishing to visit Italy is DO IT but don't travel in July or August due to the heat and the school holidays.

Ciao Ciao!