I admit it - I've been rubbish at keeping this up to date the last few months! My excuses are:
- Having no internet other than McDonald's wifi for a few weeks
- Moving house
- Getting a fulltime job rather suddenly and only just getting enough time to sit down and set my head straight!
So, I believe the last main update were the photos from New Zealand. I hope that the comments assigned to them have entertained you, but here are some more of my thoughts on the country:
The accent is hilarious; we checked in and I had to ask the poor girl to repeat herself 3 times before I understood she was trying to tell me the gym was on the 1st floor... an 'i' sound is pronounced 'u' over there, so she kept saying the 'jum' instead of gym. Similarly an 'e' sounds like an 'i', so bed is 'bid' and many other wierd vowel swaps occurred.
Besides the language, it was a gorgeous country with no where near the number of sheep I was expecting. Glen and I had a good drive around, and would definately go back one day. In fact, Glen's back there on my birthday as the football team he now works for is playing away in Wellington... I haven't decided whether I'll go too, or if I'll have two birthdays!
Wellington was amazing; felt very homely what with the wind and rain! Plus the wedding we were there for was an extravaganza! The bridal party arrived by helicopter! Amazing! Plus entertainment included clay-pidgeon shooting and golf. The New Zealand partliament, appropriately called the BeeHive, was interesting although we had the worst tour guide ever! When asked by a tourist "is that a painting of the Prime Minister that killed himself?" her reply was, "I don't know". You'd think that kind of information would be paramount wouldn't you?!
Napier was a little coastal town that was rebuilt in the Art Decco style after an earthquake in 1931. The sand was black which was a little odd, and they had a very old prison which had been converted into a youth hostel! The tour actually described how the residents used to organise nights out in town as it was so easy to escape; by various arrangements with the guards they used to disappear off for the evening, and the head prison officer was very confused why men were a little off colour the following morning!
We then made our way to the thermal regions, Rotorua and Taupo, with mineral spas, geisers, mud pools and steam vents everywhere. It was great to drive through although the smell took some getting used to. This is also the area for white water rafting and bungee jumping; we went on a giant swing that swung out over the edge of the mountain, and also down some tobogan tracks. One evening we went to a Maori themed evening, trying out their food and watching them do traditional dancing and ceremonies. Glen managed to get himself into the position of 'chief' of our visiting tribe, which was interesting... The following night we decided to have a quiet one at a local quiz evening; Glen once again managed to get himself involved and broke their laptop whilst trying to 'help' them get their videos to run... we snuck out home early!
Our other New Zealand destinations included New Plymouth (a long way away from everything and not great when the main attraction, the conical mountain, is under cloud), and Martinborough, a wine region. The Martinborough B&B was great, and we would definately recommend it to anyone travelling that way. We had a good evening meal in the little township, and then an early night as we had an early flight the following morning.
Other travels have included camping in the Gold Coast, where we drove the 12 hours North visiting the 'Big Banana' and the 'Giant Prawn' etc on the way up. Whilst up there we were rained on torrenrially (it was on the Australian news!) but dried out the last few days. Once the Blue Bottles (jellyfish that'll give you a nasty sting) had been washed away after the storm, Glen and I tried our hand at surfing which was great. We also visited a gloworm cave along with Seaworld and Dreamworld (the Gold Coast is awash with theme parks).
On a completely different note, we have a new home! Well, we moved in back in February and are now very settled. We have bought a bed, with the dining table and sofa still on the list! Our neighbours are great, and it's a real piece of suburbia. We've already had our first inspection and it appears we've passed. We have mowed the lawn and planted a few bulbs, although our weeding is something to be desired... I'm sure we'll get round to it! We already have a parsley patch which I had always heard was very difficult to grow. We plan on planting a veg patch in the spring. That'll be interesting!
Wildlife-wise, we have two wild kookaburras that hang around looking for scraps (lovingly called Charlie and Bridget), and also a dustbin/pond that houses tree frogs of luminous colours! I assume a previous tenant tried to convert the dustbin into a rainwater vat, but the frogs have taken over! Other than that we've seen lorikeets and cockatoos, and the mornings are loud with bird chorus. Our area is well known for funnel web spiders, and we have killed a few suspicious critters that make their way into the garage with a handy set of golf clubs. Funnel webs can't climb, however, so as our house is on stilts, we should be ok! Haven't seen any koalas or possums yet though... I did get excited once, but it turned out to be a vrer large rat!
We were very lucky in that the landlords have supplied a washing machine and dish washer! I am getting used to the dishwasher, although I reminisce sometimes by washing up myself. Plus there's always the odd bit in a dishwash that isn't cleaned properly and needs some proper human attention! Washing machines in Australia appear to be more commonly the upright variety, something I never saw in the UK. Whilst this means you can't have it in the kitchen as you can't put a kitchen surface on top, most Australian houses have a utility area. I love the fact you can put a load on and then still add that sock you find five minutes later, as the door opens upwards and never locks!
We also have our first evert puppy, Cauliflower. He's a small white thing (cross Maltese, poodle and spaniel) and is very well behaved. We're still learning the toilet training thing, but we can sit and shake hands no problem! We actually reserved him a little brother this weekend (who Glen has called Schnitzel!) who we will pick up in a few weeks. Cauli's teaching us lots and it's great to come home to a wagging tail everyday. It's our last venture to puppy school this week, and he's come out of his shell so much since the first time when he cowered under the chair the whole night. He's now made friends with Kinkles (a sausage dog with a 'kinky' tail), Rusty the English Staffy, and Bonnie the tiniest but yappiest little thing I've ever seen! Cauli's also made friends with Tiger and Lilly, our friends' dogs who come and house sit for us occasionally.
Besides all that, I have a permenant job that keeps me very busy... I went to Melbourne last month, and am off there again in July along with Adelaide. It's drawing on a lot of experience elsewhere and they're giving me a lot of responsibility so I'm happy. Glen's new job is with our local football team on the Central Coast - it's great for him as his 1hr30min commute is now 15min! It also means he's home first all the time so I get my dinner cooked for me!
As I said before, I apologise for the delay in 'blogging' and hope that this gets you up to date. My brother and his girlfriend Gemma are due out in a couple of weeks which should be interesting! We'll have to get a BBQ by then! Take care everyone...