30 January 2016

Finally! Update on last three months

Now, before you complain (again), I really think it's reasonable enough to have stopped writing when in the last three months I was down south three times. What more do you think there is for me to say? Especially considering I'm pretty sure I just have the one reader (if there are more out there maybe let me know?). But here we go, and I will write once a month again, I have just been really busy. So what has been happening that has been keeping me so busy?

Well in November I had my birthday. Unfortunately I had a terrible cold! Nathan gave it to me. My third week at my new job and I had an event to plan, I didn't want to take any days off. I may have made some other people sick - but then, there were lots of people with bad colds and infections, so maybe it wasn't me. My birthday was a Thursday and the plan was to go out for dinner - by this stage my cold was quite bad and I was so out of it, I just wanted to go to bed. Nathan convinced me to go out, and I agreed but wanted to go casual, and dress warm in jeans and a jumper. But I was talked out of it. And despite not being able to taste my meal fully we had a really nice dinner. The great thing about going out to dinner with the restaurant manager is that you get special treatment. We got a surprise extra course of oysters - and I think it might have been my first proper try of oysters, as I've always assumed they would be icky. They were really good though. But I should try them again as I couldn't taste properly that night.

My Aussie/Irish mate came to visit for three weeks. Unfortunately because he'd changed his plans so often, I already had a lot of plans plus my new job so I couldn't spend as much time with him as I would have liked. But we managed to do some stuff, took the dog on some nice walks, things like that. On one big hike we got stuck in gorse and then I slipped on a rocky slope and broke my phone. But overall we survived. It was nice to introduce him to my friends and have a dog sitter in the house. But he's gone back to Ireland now, won't see any of my friends from there for ages now I reckon.

In November we also went to the Fleetwood Mac concert. It was amazing, best concert I've ever been to. But the trip up was torture. The deal was that I would organise the trips to Invers and this one was on him. I kept asking if he'd booked flights and he finally looked into it a month before the concert - they were so expensive! So we had to drive. We left after work on Friday and the weather was awful. We tried to leave early but it seems to beat traffic you'd have to leave at lunchtime. We were in crawling traffic for about two hours, with torrential rain for about half that time. We finally got clear of it and were making a bit of progress, we were more than halfway to Taupo, our stop for the night. Then the car starting handling poorly and making a lot of noise - we look out the back window and see smoke. We pull over as fast as we can and find that one of the tyres is completely destroyed! It must have gone flat slowly, and then driving on it flat tore the rubber to pieces. Luckily we weren't quite down to the rim. And it had stopped raining. We managed to change it, but it took ages, the nuts were so tight that it took the two of us hauling on the tyre iron to get them loose. It was awful. Plus the spare is a space saver so for the final 200 km we were stuck at 80 km/h. We didn't arrive till 11 and we had planned to arrive at 9. We were exhausted and it was dark. But the next day was sunny and it all seemed to be OK, only 3 hours to Auckland, a discount tyre place around the corner and a free hot pool to wallow in while we waited. We got on the road at 10, everything went smoothly for an hour, and then we hit traffic again. It didn't stop till Auckland, a 3 hour drive took over 5 hours. It was rainy and muggy in Auckland, I was exhausted and hungry. But it was finally over. Did you know there is Velvet Burger in Auckland? I had forgotten how good it is, I wolfed mine down so fast I got a tummy ache. And then it was time for the concert. Like I said, it was amazing. There was a bit of a thunderstorm but even when it was raining, people were packed closely so only the tops of our heads got wet. They played for so long, and did 4 encores! By the end of it all we were completely exhausted, it was time for bed, but it took about an hour or more to get there. Then the next morning we had to drive home again. What an intense weekend! At least the drive home went smooth, sunny and no traffic, stopped at the Taupo hot pools again, home in time for dinner.

December was all about Christmas. I worked right to Christmas eve, except for my short trip down south. But then I had 10 days off which was nice. Or at least it was meant to be. But Nan died - we knew it was coming but it was pretty sucky timing. Luckily Air NZ offer compassionate fares so I could afford to fly down (only just). Christmas wasn't ruined though, because it's not like it had been unexpected. And New Years wasn't ruined. Just the in between was not very fun. So we had a Christmas tree, stolen as usual. This time we took it from down the road, it was growing wild along the bank, pretty much out of the middle of another tree so I thought I would do a favour to the other tree and take the pine tree off of it. Of course, it was right outside of some houses, across the road from the bus stop and underneath a streetlight, but that didn't deter us. All in all it was pretty funny. I also made my first gingerbread house, which worked out pretty well. Didn't dress Cher up Christmassy this year, but she got in the spirit of her own accord and kept napping under the tree. Christmas day was hot, we had a big late lunch and then went down to the beach, and played in the waves. Cher likes to get in the water but whenever we do she stays on the beach and just waits for us - strange dog. So it was a pretty good Christmas day.

New Years was also quite a lot of fun, though it didn't go according to plan. After going through Taupo on our Auckland trip we decided we should go again, properly, on a camping trip. We couldn't leave until New Year's day, and we were unfortunately a bit hung-over and tired (New Year's eve was a lot of fun though). The 1st of January was stinking hot up here and my poor old car doesn't have good air conditioning (it doesn't really have any actually). We got about an hour out of Wellington and started to wonder if this was such a good idea, especially considering that we were winging it and had no campsite booked. I said keep driving, in half an hour we'll find a beach to stop at. We kept going and maybe an hour and a half out of Wellington we couldn't take it any more, it was just too hot, we were all miserable and I was grumpy. We got to Levin and stopped for lunch, as there is a lake there. However, it turns out that it is not the stony, clear, go for a swim kind of lake. It's the marshy, full of birds, stinky, can't go in the water sort of lake. Cher didn't like it either, the birds were too big for her to feel confident chasing. So we got back in the hot car and kept driving till we got to the beach. It seemed far away but it was only really about 5 minutes. We immediately went for a swim, and that was good. Then it was time to eat, and we were too tired and hungry to think to reapply sunscreen. So you can guess what happened. This little beach was called Hokio and there was a tent pitched right near it. We decided we definitely couldn't drive another 4 hours to Taupo and maybe we should just stop. But we kept going just to see what the next couple of beaches were like. I thought maybe Foxton would be good. Should probably have just stayed there and relaxed because we couldn't find any other suitable spots - I think most places are not open to people just pitching tents, but in Hokio someone already had so we felt a bit more comfortable just going for it. We BBQ'd and walked on the beach, and went to bed when it got dark. Of course, the next morning it was raining... We went into Levin for breakfast, went back to the beach and packed up the tent. Then I insisted on a last swim. We drove right onto the beach, but it's more suitable to 4-wheel drives, not like Oreti beach. Nathan hasn't really driven on beaches before and next thing you know, we're stuck in the sand. So there's nothing else for it but to start digging, and lay driftwood under the tires to get some traction. Luckily, as we were making slow progress a kind stranger came along and towed us out of the sand, and we were more careful after that! We definitely deserved a good swim then, and despite it being a bit rainy earlier it was warm enough. We were super-careful on our way off of the beach, and drove home, because sometimes it's just nicer to be at home.

Now, if you're not tired of this novel yet, I'll tell you about January. It's been full on, we have both been working a lot, the weather has been hot, and every weekend has been packed. It was Nathan's birthday, there was the wedding down South, last weekend we went to the circus and this weekend it is Rugby 7's so I am home alone this Saturday night while Nathan works extra shifts. I managed to crash the car again, I mis-judged how much space I had pulling into a parallel park and scraped the side of the car against a pole, smashing the indicator and making a big dent. And just a few days before the warrant was due! Absolutely sucked. We were going to try fix it ourselves but the only car with the right parts at Pick-a-part had already had those lights removed! So I gave in and took it to the panel beater, and probably would have had to anyway because of the dent making the indicator not fit right. But parts would have been way cheaper if we could have found the right thing. Anyway, when I took it back to the mechanic it still didn't pass - turns out the other headlight was broken too, and his handwriting is so scribbly that I couldn't tell from the warrant sheet, and if he told me I must have forgotten. So yesterday I was feeling pretty crap because I'd have to fork out more money. I decided once again to have a go at it myself. Went back to Pick-a-part, and nearly gave up again but on our way out we saw the right car (in fact, the same car from last time) and what would you know but the only light left on it was the one I needed! It was the exact right model, and we managed to remove it easily because all the stuff around it was gone. However, getting it into my car was a mission, because the old girl is so rusty! The broken light came out but not all of the connection came with it, and we couldn't unscrew the bolts because they were so rusty and the plastic bits they were bolted into just twisted under the pressure. In the end, we reverted to a hacksaw and hammer, and just bashed them out. Bent the metal back into place with some pliers, put the new light in, put newer, un-rusty nuts on and she's all fixed! Very proud of myself, though my poor scratched up hands aren't thanking me.

All of our free time has been filled with house research - we have found a section that we really love, we're pretty convinced that pre-fab, transportable homes are the way to go, we're going to talk to the city council on Monday to make sure there are no surprises with the section and then we need to choose a building company. Oh, and make an offer of course. There is a competing bid on it, we're hoping that that falls through. The real estate agent doesn't seem to have much confidence in it, so we've got our fingers crossed but it's been an anxiety filled couple of weeks. I won't put up any pictures until we know what's happening, but it looks like this is going to be a pretty big year.

So that's all for now, hope this epic post has put any complaints about my absence here to rest. I will leave you with a view of my garden, I've had lilies blooming constantly since before Christmas and I can't wait to have a proper garden for them.

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