Friday, December 18, 2009

the noughties

Two households, both alike in dignity (if not cleanliness),
In fair Newcastle, where we lay our scene...

Well there endeth any similarities between Shakespear's epic and life between our Croydon Rd flat and the "Halibuts' House", although it did bear a distinct likeness to a soap opera at times. With Vonn and I going out with two of their inhabitants we spent a lot of our time picking our way across their pizza infused carpet...

The joys of facebook has seen a reuniting of these two households and various others associated with them both, on a virtual level at least and occassionally in real life too. For the lads most of the long hair has gone and they
have obviously learned to feed themselves a bit better too (or found others willing to cook/can afford a better class of takeaway!), but you know what - us girls, we seem to look much the same ;) (Halibuts 0, Croydon Rd 4!)

The "Halibuts" were so named because of a 'band' they had called 'For Halibut Fans Only' and to be honest you really had to be a fan of the people in it to listen... you could describe it as 'tongue in cheek' but really one had to question how many and which cheeks at times.... they were the Spinal Tap/Monster Raving Loony Party entry in the annual Students Union Busking Competitions and took great pride in being booed off stage with glasses (plastic of course...) being hurled at them. Despite this, hidden (deeply) away amongst them, was some real musical talent.

In many ways it really doesn't feel like all those years have slipped by at all, especially reliving moments through photos shared online and the banter that goes on via facebook chat, but a recent song of Andy's made me realise just how much life has changed in the last decade, let alone since we graduated in the early 90's. He hasn't lost his cleverness with lyrics, and although it's called 'I got kicked in the noughties' I can assure you it is (unlike various FHFO tracks) suitable for family viewing =)

(for some reason I can't get it to embed the link in the text or whatever it's called so you might have to copy n paste!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

counting down....

Well for many people I know currently it is the season to be counting down the days by chocolate until Dec 25th (or 24th depending on your calendar!). For me I'm counting down to many things, but oddly enough Christmas doesn't really figure that much on the list, sure it'll happen around here but not due to me!

First count down... to the end of the week and the summer break starting!
Then to the various arrivals expected here over the next week including Audra from Edinburgh
To Boxing Day cricket at the farm along with good food/drink/company...
To the annual Quaker Summer Gathering
To my 40th (yes, fortieth...) birthday
Hopefully to Jane & Paddy coming to see me whilst they're over from the UK! (let me know won't you!)
To William & Elizabeth coming back from China
Hey ho, and to the start of term
And more excitedly to the start of my new job at my 'old' (as in 2008) kindergarten!

In between I'm also hoping to see a few other people on my/their travels but with no dates as yet confirmed....

And it doesn't stop there!!!! Usually being able to 'plan' a month in advance seems excessively organised but due to Annette and Douglas both heading this way from the UK I've even got holiday plans in my diary for February and April. What's more with switching to kindergarten come the new school year I'll have those wonderful inventions called school holidays - even more dates in my diary... well they would be if I'd got round to writing them in. Then there's our MM Regional Gathering at Aroha Island in March and I know I can got to Yearly Meeting in Dunedin without having to fly the whole way. I'll have plenty of time this year (July school hols) so there beckons a road/rail trip and of course a stop over in Wellington is a must really then isn't it?!

Now I just have to hope for enough relieving hours at work to help pay for it all...

On the not so exciting count down list are the end of year MM accounts, charities commision (or whatever it's called here!!! Must check....) report and tax return receipts to do. Oh the joys of being a treasurer.

Ah yes, and that ol' guilt tripper of a teacher registration portfolio needs put into some sort of order over the summer too. Hmmmmm... I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth!

One thing is for sure, I'm not going to be short of things to do.

Note to self - remember that going part time was (amongst other reasons) to help improve health/energy levels, do NOT over do things!!!

Monday, November 02, 2009


Apparently, according to Lucy, it is National blog posting month... I'm assuming this is in the UK. I, however, am not in the UK so have every excuse not to post daily for the duration of this month ;) November also happens to be Movember... sigh, roll on December!

November also happens to start with my Granny Dunford's birthday. As my cousin Robin reminded us via facebook she would've been 100 this year. It seems a little hard to get my head around the fact that various uncles and aunts are now as old as my earliest memories of Granny, in fact if I sat down and did my sums properly I'd probably figure out that Dad is too... but for his sake as well as mine I won't dwell on that thought too long!

I still miss my Granny even though it is over 18yrs since she died. Each time I sew anything I think of her. Each time I bake anything without a recipe I think of her. (Admittedly though it is usually muffins or drop scones/scotch pancakes/pikelets/whatever you call them rather than a Victoria Sponge cake which probably requires far less skill!). And on the rare occassions when I smell bacon being cooked in the morning I am instantly transported back to waking up at The Pitching with the brook tinkling away outside the bedroom window, the church bells ringing and Kath coming round calling out 'coooeee' as she reached the door...

Thanks Robin for sharing some photos I'd not seen before (or at least don't remember!) and triggering off a whole heap more memories. It's also nice to be reminded again just how special she was to my cousins too, I must do my bit and scan in the few photos I have of her to upload too. It's a lovely way to share our memories of her as well as the pictures.

Happy hundreth Granny.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


well at long last I have recieved confirmation that my application for residency has been approved! This doesn't mean I've actually got it yet, I'm still waiting for the letter, to send my passport off (along with yet more dosh) and get it back with the appropriate bit of paper stuck in it.

Now all I have to do is wait another 5 yrs and I can apply for Citizenship! What's the difference between being a permanent resident and a citizen? Well according to NZ Insider it is this...

Legal Permanent Residents of New Zealand (with valid Permanent Resident Visas/Permits) have the same rights and privileges as NZ citizens with the following notable exceptions:

a) They can not travel on a NZ passport (citizenship is required for a NZ passport).
b) They can not run for Parliament.
c) They can not represent NZ in international sports events (such as the Olympics).

As I've always intended to leave standing for Parliament to the likes of Mark and Alex, and Miss Stass long ago relagated me to the ranks of the no hoper 'jongos' when it came to P.E. that leaves the lure of a passport. Far from essential I admit but who knows what life will bring and why it might prove useful.

But in the meantime I can now look forward to being able to qualify for KiwiSaver (national pension scheme), being able to get a credit card with Kiwi Bank (as psis who I bank with here don't do one and I have had no desire to prop up the Australian banking community who control just about all the rest of the banks here), having a vote for the first time in 4yrs and hopefully an end to the suggestions of marrying a Kiwi to be able to stay here beyond my current visa! Oh and being able to officially be charged local rates at the Drs surgery rather than that being dependant upon the kindness of my GPs heart and his ability to sweet talk the practice manager...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

does anyone recognise this song?

Back around Easter 1989 I was given a compilation tape (remember those?). The sound quality was a bit dodgy but having seen the state of the ghetto blaster it was recorded on it wasn't that bad really! And what's more the track listing was (and still is!) fantastic and led to me spending years collecting the various tracks on cd so I could recreate the well worn and much loved compilation in a more durable format.

However I remained completely stuck on one track. Partly because Gavin didn't know what it was called or who recorded it! He told me at the time he'd got it on a compliation from Jack Kelly and he called it 'The Leaving Song' which was apparently about as much info as Jack had provided.

Over the years I've played to to various people but to no avail. The vocal sound is a bit Nick Drake-ish, with acoustic guitar and a saxaphone solo. Google hasn't come up with anything when I've put the lyrics in (shame on you Pete!).

So, 20yrs on I'm back to picking people's memories and hoping someone recognises the lyrics - I'm afraid my limited grasp of technology doesn't enable me to somehow copy the crackly tape into a digital format to play on here...

‘The Leaving Song’

You pull (put?) a face as the train pulls away.
My heart’s running on
But my feet seem to stay.
Night’s closing in
I don’t want to sleep.
My heart’s running on
And my love’s running deep.

And there’s nothing to see
And I’m turning away.
But the train’s still in view
So I’m turning to stay.
Forcing a smile in that lonely place
I’m guessing because I left my cigarettes in your case.

Blood’s running thick
My blood’s running free
But no-one gives a damn because
There’s no-one to see.
I’m hurting inside
And I’m hurting the world.
My temper’s quick
I feel so sick
Because I’ve lost the pearl
My fingers curled around

It’s stupid because
I know my anger’s wrong.
It’s stupid because
I know you won’t be long.
But still I miss you
More than everything else.
I suppose more than anything
I am angry with myself.

(sax solo then repeat last two ‘verses’)

Monday, August 10, 2009


yes I know, it's been a while... again! Well what with being sick (again/still) and away, having too much to write about and not enough time and then plenty of time and not enough energy, somehow blogging took second place to snappy little facebook status updates which are much more manageable! Because so many people are on facebook these days I forget that there are those who don't get to see those updates and that I have to fill them in by other means, sorry Mum & Dad....

Anyways where was I away to? Well Wellington for (Quaker) Yearly Meeting and some catching up with F/friends for a few days. How did it go? Well nothing like as momentous as Britain YM which managed to hit the headlines a short while later that is for sure, in fact reflecting on our YM in the light of BYM I felt that we had a long way to go.... the big issue of the day for us wasn't same sex marriages but climate change. In one of the reports from Britain YM someone referred to the recent decision being the culmination of 22 years of work, discussion and seeking spiritual guidance. Quaker decision making has never been noted for it's speed (it took 100 years to make their minds up about abolishing slavery!) but as some people are getting increasingly frantic about explaining, we simply don't have 100 years to sort this one out, and probably not even twenty two. Now I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination and I know that there is also talk about the amount of sunspot activity that is affecting climate change in a big way, but regardless of that, we can't ignore that as a species we aren't looking after Papatuanuku, Mother Earth and it is all going to get a lot worse, for whatever reason.

What can we do corporately as Friends? Well a rather tame letter was sent to our PM pointing out the carbon footprint of war and preparing for war (military exercises) and the need to engage fully in the Copenhagen talks. Some headway was made about the right use of money and the fact that true socially responsible investment may mean low/zero returns for us rather than supporting unethical practices and that this goes beyond boycotting the usual suspects of tobacco and the arms trades and looking hard at the environmental impact of Fonterra and the like. Some Friends have expressed a wish to set targets for reducing power consumption within the MM by 15% but that is aimed at those MMs with property, others have suggested cutting travel and the need for it - combining Summer Gathering and YM (more likley to work consecutively than combined methinks) or holding YM every 2 years or through regional video links rather than entirely face to to face.

But what can I do? Well the biggest part of my life that is unsustainable is my work environment, sure we have recycling but the waste of water, paints and other resources is fairly horrific most days. But have I the energy to take it on board on top of everything else that needs addressed? Probably not, but I don't think I've got much choice really do I?

Monday, June 22, 2009

sick and tired

Well I seem to spend more time feeling sick than not at the moment, what with a virus in my eustachian tubes (in my ears for the less anatomically minded!), a lengthy dose of bronchitis and now seasonal flu the last few months have felt like something of an uphill battle. "Why do you think you keep getting sick?" asked my boss when I rang in today to say that I wasn't sure going in tomorrow was a great idea.

Why indeed? I've not been this sick this often since I worked in residential care... and before that in day care... hmmm, maybe I spy a pattern here? Lots of people in a relatively small space all day, many of whom have health issues and/or are more vulnerable to whatever is going around. I spend a hefty chunk of my day wiping noses (and bottoms if it comes to that), cuddling snotty nosed kids and sitting in a warm confined space with them whilst they fall asleep. We teach them that it is good to share, but some things are best kept to yourself!

But what annoys me is the pressure that there is to go back to work as soon as you are vertical again. Especially when I read the Ministry of Health guidelines that state no matter what type of influenza you have, H1N1 or seasonal, you should be off for 7 days and/or until you have 24hrs free of symptoms. It would have made far more sense to take the week off and get properly better in the first place than struggle back to work after a couple of days and then end up off sick again by the end of the week. But I only get 5 days paid sick leave a year, which got used up when I had the virus, so now I'm eating into my not exactly extensive annual leave and am being made to feel guilty for being off sick. I now appreciate, in a way that I never really did when I had it, just how good the sick pay conditions are in the UK!!!

It felt decidedly wrong to be sitting in a staff meeting on Friday where we discussed extensive cleaning regimes to keep down the risk of infection and excluding children for x number of days who had been overseas when there I was coughing and sneezing! I was probably the biggest infection risk we had. Admittedly I would have already gone home had a lift been available sooner, but I had to ask if I could go I didn't get sent home!

Anyways, time I went and made another hot honey & lemon drink. At least the universe provides lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges in season when I need them most and I live where they grow in the garden =)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

exercise in disbelief

I'm housesitting, well actually dog-sitting, tonight for F/friends in Ahipara. They've gone down to Auckland to meet F/friends off a plane from the States, the first installment of another Quaker family coming to live in the area. Northwest YM will soon account for about half our Meeting here in the Far North!

When I told some of my colleagues where I was staying tonight I was met with horrified looks...
'But how are you going to get there?'
'Walk' I replied, somewhat bemused.
'Do you want a lift? I can take you?' (offering to drive in completely the opposite direction from home up a dead end road)
'No it's alright thanks, I'll be fine. I'm used to walking'
'Have you ever walked up Tasman Heights before?' (sounding totally disbelieving that I'd even consider it)
'No, but I've been up it, I know what it's like. My parents lived at the top of a hill like that for 20 years, I'll be fine!'
'Are you sure? You're crazy!'

Well, I accept it is a slightly longer road than Cooper Lane but I'm pretty sure it's no steeper and in any case it has flat bits part way. What's more I got a stunning view of the sun setting over the ocean on the way up!

It never ceases to amaze me why walking or cycling anywhere is considered to be such a strange idea by so many of my colleagues, most of whom head straight for the gym after work to spend an hour on an exercise bike doing 'spin' workouts etc. Personally I think they are the crazy ones...

ups and downs

oh dear, so much for more regular updates eh? Hmmm, now do I write blog posts like buses (nothing for ages then three come at once) or one long one? Well let's just see what happens...

The big thing that's happened for me since I last wrote I was my graduation! Unlike my degree in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where the graduation ceremony was only a few weeks after my last exam the graduation ceremonies here are months after completion. So whilst I finished my course at the end of November last year I only graduated on 6th May.

I'd been having a bit of a rough time at work for a few weeks and was beginning to question just how much I did know about what I was doing and how to reconcile what I was fairly sure I'd been taught with what I was expected to practice. I'm not good at debating things and as the new kid on the block and least experienced team member if things didn't feel right for some reason I wanted to go away and reflect on why it didn't and if possible talk it through with someone first before trying to go back and put my point across. I was also getting a bit fed up of being made to feel like I should've thought of something myself when I didn't even know it needed done or that I was expected to do it.

Just walking through the campus again and remembering what last year was like helped enormously - it reminded me that actually I did know a reasonable amount thank you very much. Whilst there was plenty that left me decidedly flummoxed at times the one subject I'd been really good at was personal pedagogy (style of teaching... well sort of) and so really I ought to quit worrying about the fact that my teaching style differed from most of my colleagues and believe in my A+ assignment instead!

Whilst I was away my team leader must have had a word with a few people and pointed out that I'd only done a 1yr very theoretical course not a 3yr centre based one like they had/were doing, plus it was my first job with toddlers and my first job in a day care (rather than kindergarten) setting, as I came back to some sincere apologies and a lot more support! I no longer seem to be expected to know how to deal with some of the more practical stuff without guidance which is a relief (those ear thermometers are just plain weird, toilet training techniques are still a steep learning curve for me and if we agree to do something in a team meeting we do it, right? Apparently not always....).

However graduation itself presented one of those moments when I was expected to know something I'd never even heard of... Gaudeamus? They don't teach that at Holmfirth High School and it certainly wasn't sung in Castle Leazes either! And then if that wasn't enough they had slightly different words to the Maori verse of the National Anthem which completely threw me as I thought I knew that one at least.... I got so stuck on the fact that one of the lines ended with 'Ao' when I was expecting 'ra' that I lost where we were up to 'cos I was so busy trying to work out if the rest of the words were the same as I expected. It was in a crap key anyway...

It was great to see some of my classmates and all the other friends I managed to catch up with whilst I was in Auckland (more about that another time methinks) but by the end of a week down there I was glad to get away from the big city and back to the clean air and quiet roads of home.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

recent happenings

Well after needing extra blankets during the night before and really not wanting to get out of bed into the cold of the morning Ryan and I decided we needed to light a fire yesterday evening. Having discovered we'd actully manged to use up all the boxes of cryptomaria (great firelighter material!) from last winter a quick scoot around the lawn filled up a new box of dead twigs that had fallen, that and some crumbling puriri soon got up enough heat for the logs to catch - the first proper fire of autumn.

It was so nice and cosy, us either side of the woodstove, each under a quilt (me because I was quilting one, him because he only had shorts with him not to mention it being part of his ritual of being here) watching Bagpuss and drinking hot chocolate. It felt like something from my own childhood, except the luxury of having the entire series on video was then well beyond my comprehension and '70s technology!

Ryan had come with William and I the day we went to the farm to get the firewood a few weeks ago. Ruth was still feeling pretty shaken from her ordeal with the ram so was trying to take it easy, Stephan was off helping Dan and Christina get in firewood - Rebecca and Roman were there as well so it was quite a family get together! Ryan hadn't been overly keen on going there at first having wanted to come to our place to play on the computer, but it didn't take long for Stephan's pond and the river to provide enough entertainment for him to be wishing he could live there and play there every day! No matter how good computer games get I don't think they'll ever beat the appeal to a small boy of throwing stones into a deep pool with a satisfying splosh =)

As part of my training and practice as an early childhood teacher I've often had to reflect on what kind of environment we want for children to grow up and learn in and it has to be said I struggle to come up with anything essential that wasn't around 30yrs ago or more. So much recent stuff leaves very little scope for the imagination (I'm now on book 6!) which, I'm as sure as Anne was, can't possibly be a good thing.

As Ruth has been catching up on her website updates not quite as much imagination is needed now to picture what happened to Stephan when bringing in another load of firewood a few days later. I must admit to being rather relieved that our trip out there was way less dramatic! So what with their brushes with death and the fire we've been living in interesting times around here... hopefully life will now quieten down and the biggest dramas will just be of the cat vs dog variety - although even they seem to be reaching an accomodation of each other.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

tales and tails

Well here I am yet again trying to catch up - it feels like so much has happened lately...

Last Saturday William and I were all set (Elizabeth having headed south for a staff hui and visiting family) to head into town on Saturday morning, go to the market, pick up Marie-Claire who was staying the night and head out to my colleague's to collect a kitten...

However an early phonecall from Mat turned our day topsy-turvy somewhat, there had been a fire in Phyllis' (William's mother) garage during the night. Well we all mucked in trying to make sense of what was damaged, much of which had been in the roof of the garage probably about 25yrs... As is the way of such things family mementos, assorted medals, photographs, an extensive kauri gum collection and several paintings were damaged or destroyed by fire and or water whereas the suitcases full of '70's recycled wrapping paper, Scout posters and bundles of old newspapers survived unscathed... the family sense of humour has been suitably rising to the occasion. The same garage copped it a couple of years ago during the big floods, rather drastic ways to ensure a clear out!

Marie-Claire was totally unfazed and joined in the sifting and even managed to make it on to the front page of The Northland Age with Phyllis and Dylan (who'd successfully avoided being in any photos I'd taken that day!). Well it made a change from WWOOFing I guess! She'd just been helping someone else move house that week and it reminded me of my own travels back in 2004, especially my week in Sydney which included attending a funeral and helping with a house move. There's something incredibly grounding amid all the transience about slotting into family life and just getting on with what needs to be done, I know I really appreciated mucking in with gardening, cooking and housework at various places as well as the more eventful occassions - it kept me in touch with 'normal life'.

Several times during the day I reflected on how grateful I was not only that the fire was in the garage not the house and Phyllis was ok, but that my parents had cleared out their attic, cupboards and outhouses of accumulated cumber when they moved up to Scotland... sorting that lot out at some point was not a task to be relished, I'm so glad they've done the worst of it already. I think several resolutions were made that day about timely clearouts of various homes, sheds and garages.

Well with still blackened fingers we eventually headed off to find my kitten. How to choose? The black ones all looked so alike it was really hard to know who you'd already had a go at getting to know, so it was back to the old faithful... take a deep breath and let the universe decide. I picked up the nearest kitten, it didn't struggle and snuggled up - done! I wanted a friendly cuddley moggy and that is what I got =) Well friendly to humans anway; dog and kitten are still trying to work out of they are friend or foe...

Monday, March 30, 2009


Well this weekend saw Elizabeth, Eleanor and I heading back to Kerikeri on Sunday for another of our Testimonies study days and to discuss various Quaker business matters arising at a MM (regional) and YM (national) level.

This time the testimony we looked at was simplicity - one I've thought about much over the years and this became apparent when doing one of the exercises. We had to write down on small pieces of paper 10 objects that were important to us, 8 tasks/responisbilities or activities we did and 6 roles we held. Well if that wasn't a challenge enough for us we then had to imagine we'd been given a wonderful opportunity to dramatically change our lives (examples given included a dream job overseas, retirement to a Quaker community, a new relationship etc)... having decided what that was we then had to get rid of half our pieces of paper!

Well, reading on in the handbook it became apparent that they really expected you to be able to get rid of the objects more easily than the tasks/roles etc. They obviously didn't expect someone who had already taken up that dream job overseas to attempt it! My list of objects I wasn't about to give up were the things that I knew already I couldn't give up - my taonga (pendant) from the FWCC Triennial in Auckland 2004, my Granny's wedding ring, my passport and work permit (which I ammended to say 'visa to stay here' having given up my job amidst the cull!) and then photos (and a camera). The rest of my objects were all family 'heirlooms' and childhood memorabilia - I know from the last few years I can live without them but I'd rather they stayed in the family.

Life has proved to me more than once that providence will provide - sure it's handy to have your own this that and the next thing but when push comes to shove it's amazing what you can live without, beg, borrow or recycle without too much ado. I've learned to live without much of the cumber I had accumulated over the years and usually without regret - altho' it was frustrating this morning to discover that the black pair of jeans I though were still in the bottom of the drawer had gone some time back! Oh well, I got away with wearing blue ones for work (it's too cold in the mornings for shorts now).

I was quite happy at the idea of giving up work in the exercise (I've been keen on retirement since before I even started work! It always struck me as akin to the description of being a widow I recently came across in one of the Anne of Green Gables book - you get your freedom without the stigma/public pressure - in that case of being an old maid and to marry, in this of being unemployed and to get a job!) but I realised that I couldn't give up my Quaker involvement (on committees etc) - I've tried that before and whilst it was nice to have a break at first I didn't feel like 'me'...

Simplifying my life is something that I've done both drastically and in small steps over the years. One of the things we read on Sunday stated it's more about living life 'appropriately' than having a spartan existance and I like that definition. With a change in life style this year (having a more conventional working week) and gradually rejoining the world of those with disposable income Sundays session was a timely reminder for me to reassess what is appropriate to where I am in life right now in terms of how I allocate my time, energy and money.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

history lesson

Oh dear, I'm lagging behind a bit....

The day after the Kerikeri trip I was back on the road to the Bay of Islands, but this time with a bus full of school kids! Pukepoto Primary is next door to us and I've been doing volunteer one-to-one reading there with the kids pretty much since I moved here. I only get in once a week now I'm working but I really enjoy my contact with them and they're always glad of an extra pair of hands come excursion time.

The main highlight of the day out was of course watching the dolphins play around the boat we were on - jumping out of the water, swiming along side and underneath us and generally being their usual awe inspiring selves. But apart from that and the boat actually going through the 'Hole in the Rock' the purpose of our day was to get a hands on history lesson.

Now I grew up going to places like Beamish and the Colne Valley Museum etc so Pompallier in Russell as a concept wasn't quite such the novelty for me as it was for the kids and probably most of the adults who went. Being able to wander through a place set up as it would've been in the 1840's, see, and take part in yourself, the processes involved in book making was just mind blowing though for some of the kids. For me it was just great not to see roped off areas and it being a real 'hands on' experience. Whilst the tannery and printing side of things held few surprises for me there were several 'Ahhh! That's how they did it!' moments for me when it came to the bookbinding. It all fitted in rather nicely with the books I've just been reading - Ann Turnbull's No Shame, No Fear and Forged in the Fire set in the days of early Friends against a printing backdrop.

Pompallier is a name I've been familiar with for a while (one of the local schools being named for him) but I'd never really taken in much about Bishop Pompallier. I was impressed to find a Catholic Bishop ensuring that the little known fourth Article of the Treaty of Waitangi got signed which gave equal status to the various religions already present in the islands, of both Maori and Pakeha origin. It's a pity the various Protestant missionaries weren't as open minded to that of 'God already present'.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a weekends wanderings

Well it was nice to have a weekend at home at last, even Meeting was at ours so the only place I had to go was to bike into town to do some shopping, finally catch up with Phyllis again for the first time since Boxing Day and, as it turned out, have a cuppa with Marie-Claire too and the guy she's WWOOFing for.

A welcome contrast to the previous weekend, much as that too was very enjoyable. On Saturday evening we'd gone out to Honeymoon Valley for Peter's birthday get-together (he works at the kindy where I did some relieving etc last year). It's an amazing place although my stomach wasn't overly excited about the Peria Road - or maybe it was a bit too excited and wanted to go back and see the bit we'd just past? In any case I managed to hang on to my insides and we found their place hidden away in the bush. They've cut a clearing for a caravan which now sits under a very impressive roof - the support beams made out of the felled gum trees, gradually they are creating a home and garden there out in the wilds. Definitely simple living out there but you'd be stuffed without your own transport.

With a campfire (the rain having lifted the fire ban!), live music, a good spread of food and convivial company it was a very pleasant evening - and the mozzies stayed away!!! However we didn't stay all that late as Elizabeth and I had to head for Kerikeri in the morning.

Kaitaia and Kerikeri Worship Groups (Quakers) have started working through the BYM Testimonies Toolkit and this was our second meeting, with the focus this time on 'truth and integrity'. In the way that things sometimes take on a life of their own we found ourselves considering our position in the Monthly Meeting which theoretically covers everything north of the Waitemata Harbour (Auckland) but from which we have felt somewhat separate from geographically and spiritually in recent times. From time to time the two Worship Group have sent Minutes to our Friends further south who hold the regular business meeting but there hasn't been any sense of real connection with the affairs of the Monthly or Yearly Meeting. Well Dad doesn't call Quakers a DIY religion for nothing, chances are if you want something done you need to do it! So there and then we had our own 'Northern Friends' business meeting and decided to do so regularly in conjunction with our study days.

Well we've possibly rocked a few boats and stood on some toes already but it feels like a really positive step for us as individual and joint worshipping communities up here. We'll see where it all goes from here.

Along with the Quakery aspect of the day I also managed to squeeze in seeing Natalie (one of my classmates from last year) and her 2yr old Matthew at lunchtime and collect Marie-Claire who a mutual friend had put in touch with me as she was coming over to NZ for a few months. So the day involved a fair bit of mental gymnastics with catching up on completely different aspects of my life! I don't like pigeon-holing people and quite like it when my various worlds meet. I had nothing like long enough with either Natalie or Marie-Claire so it was good to realise I'd see them both again before long.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Auckland and back... again

Well the last couple of weekends have seen me heading up and down SH1 to Auckland and back, I don't go there for months on end and then totally over do it! I'm shattered but it has been great to catch up with folk, and to retrieve my stuff out of storage!

The first trip was timed so I could see Alice, another (Quaker) Summer Schooler to make it out to visit here. She's marrying a Kiwi (sensible girl) so came over for a few weeks to meet the prospective inlaws and fell in love (as one does) with the country too, so hopefully she'll be back for a few years at some point =) There is something about the Summer School/NYFSG connection that squidges up time between meetings in that it never really feels like all that long since I last saw whoever I see from there regardless of whether it has been a couple of weeks, months or years (I haven't quite had to put decades to the test yet but that'll no doubt happen when Rachel from Holiday School moves out here!). Maybe it's because so many of us are used to seeing each other just once a year anyway that anything less is considered a bonus.

I stayed with Margaret & Robert and children that trip, first time I'd seen them in over 6 mths so there was much catching up and exchanging of news and gossip to be had (although the juiciest bit I knew I was then still sworn to secrecy about, most frustrating...). Much to my delight Benjamin remembered me still and Lucy only took a couple of hours to get used to me instead of a couple of days. As Margaret is a 'playcentre mum' we spent time talking shop too - learning stories and other forms of documentation of early years learning.

A colleague gave me a lift down and back and as he has a truck (translation: 4x4 thing, not a ute or a lorry!) we managed to squeeze almost all my stuff from storage into the back - the remaining cabinet went off to be restored and collected the following weekend. The cabinet was my grandparents American wireless cabinet and had suffered from being used by the infamous 'landlord's father' at Croydon Rd to sit a bucket of plaster on. Okay so it's taken me over 15yrs to get it fixed but now it is back to it's former glory (and probably in better nick than when I inherited it). The next step is to shift it north from Sarah & Karl's shed...

We couldn't bring it back with us this weekend as it wouldn't fit with 4 of us in the car - Ryan joined us to go down for Kerehoma's 1st birthday party (well actually it was at least his 2nd birthday party having had one the weekend before in Invercargill, but still to celebrate his first birthday!). It was removals in the opposite direction this time as we had a car-load of Mim's stuff following her down for the new uni year. Thankfully it was cool enough on the way down for Ryan and I to be quite glad we were snuggled up all squidged together, somewhat different from the much hotter (and far less cramped) journey back. Having been sick at Christmas when they were up home it was great to spend time with them all whilst feeling up to being sociable!

There were so many other people I'd hoped to see in these trips down but other than popping in to see Faith & Margaret, the current Auckland Resident Friends soon to be heading back to Sheffield, it just didn't happen. Probably just as well though, I'm worn out enough as it is! Hopefully it'll be a quiet week at work - yeah right....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

under the weather

Well whilst some of my friends are willing the temperature to rise above 30'F I'm willing it to drop below 30'C... we have had some ridiculously hot weather the last few weeks - especially last weekend. This week the drought was finally broken and our water tanks went from holding 5 days worth of water (filched from the creek, the rainwater supplies having been used up a while ago) to over a months worth in one day! However the temperatures still keep creeping up albeit not quite as high but the resulting humidity is just as stifling.

As you can imagine this is leaving us with a lot of hot, tired and bothered children and some very tired staff at work. It's getting to brain-malfunction point and those who are pregnant have resorted to borrowing the cold pack we keep in the freezer for bumps and bruises to mop their weary brows!

However it must be said the most fun we've had there in ages was a couple of days ago during the tropical downpour. At first teachers were bringing the kids inside which to me seemed a bit crazy given that we'd been hosing them down the week before, why miss out on a giant sprinkler system? But then a few of us decided pretty much simultaneously that we were happy to get wet and the next thing we knew we had half the kids out there running around with the biggest grins on their faces, shrieking with laughter as they ran under the water pouring off the shade sails and overflowing from the spouting. It took a few bumps to persuade them to keep off the wet decking as it turned into an ice rink with all the surface water and in the interests of safety (and our sanity) we had to keep them off the slide which had turned into a water shute, but without a pool to land in.

The mud that was created and enormous puddles on the grass meant the stopping of the rain did not signal the end of the days entertainment. You know those photos of Glastonbury on a wet year? Well lets just say our new shower tub got a lot of use that day!

Pigs and ducks couldn't have been happier =)

The weather forecast is for another downpour tonight and tomorrow. I think I'll pack a change of clothes for work in the morning....

Monday, February 02, 2009

to do lists

Okay, bloods are done, medical is done, x-ray is next Monday... I'm getting there slowly. Actually I got there this morning a lot quicker than I expected to, not having been on the bike for about 6 weeks. I do believe (gasp, horror, surely not?) I might even be somewhere in the vague vicinity of being fit! Now there's a turn up for the books it must be said.

About 6 months ago Melina wrote on facebook about her 30 things to do before she turned 30 - these could be random little things or life changing events. Well obviously I missed the 30 by 30 boat by a long margin but figured that 40 by 40 was achieveable if I started then (ie with 18 mths to go rather than a year). On my list are big things like get residency here, the above visa process being a part of this plan, but also there are the small things too - like the long list of classic books and films that I really think I ought to have read/seen by now. I've made serious progress on the book front, need to be a bit more proactive with the films though somehow - joining the library today will hopefully help with both.

Also on my list though is confidently swimming in the sea when it's anything other than flat calm (calm being a rarity here!) - well more to the point getting to the point where I don't panic when I end up underwater (legacy of an unfortunate collision with a boogie board and some hefty surf a few years ago) and managing to 'catch a wave' and body surf in towards the shore. I'm getting there, slowly it has to be admitted, but after almost two years up here I finally waded out into water that was chest deep this weekend and tried to catch the waves rather than just jump up and hope not to get knocked over! I rather envy those who've grown up here and take to the sea like, well a duck to water (or maybe something a little more graceful!) - when your seaside experience as a child is a few days a year with the North or Irish Sea looking more grey than Mediteranean blue you become much better at building sandcastles rather than swimming in the surf!

However my sandcastle expertise does come in rather handy these days it must be said all the early childhood centres hereabouts have nice big sandpits - about as far removed conceptually from the trough of sand at my childhood playgroup as Ninety Mile Beach is from Whitley Bay!

Monday, January 26, 2009

busy being at home

Darn it, spoke too soon... I need to get a new medical and TB x-ray done for my visa. Ho hum, I was going to need them this year anyway to apply for residency, so I guess it's just a matter of getting a to it sooner than I'd planned - and budgeted for!

I've spent much of today uploading photos of Summer Gathering to Flickr - almost done now but not quite. I took a few near the beginning of the event, then almost nothing until the last couple of days then went crazy... I decided against uploading the 20 photos of the goldfish in the pond that Liam took, I figured that one would do, but don't tell him though eh?

Well, a long weekend has come and gone, and my to do list really doesn't look any shorter. However there are now about 14 more jars of plum jam in the cupboard, 5 ice cream containers of stewed plums and a shelf full of bags of frozen plums stoned and halved! I'm currently experimenting with making fruit leather with some of them (ta for the idea Jo!) - it tastes very nice and decidedly more-ish, so it can't possibly be good for you... I drafted in the troops to help harvest (and take them away, with compulsory courgettes thrown in for good measure!) - I reckon between us we've picked 60kg of plums this weekend, and there are still some on the tree ripening up to eat.

With all the home produce that's around here it was rather odd to hear on the radio this morning Alison Holst (sort of a Kiwi version of Delia Smith) saying that there's a whole generation of those 35 and under who won't buy potatoes because they need peeling!

Personally I find that rather hard to get my head around, especially given that you can buy them ready scrubbed and not needing peeled half the time anyway. She was recommending some frozen potato product that comes from Belgium on the grounds that it was better that people ate that than not eat potatoes at all... well I guess in terms of diet maybe, but the idea of an 'extruded' potato product from half way around the world (no offence Belgium!) instead of freshly dug spuds from the garden a few meters away or locally grown really does not compute. Considering the concern there is about the rising cost of foodstuffs and the weekly shop it seems even crazier.

Oh well, it looks like our next glut of garden produce will be beans or tomatoes - the race is on. I'm not complaining though, it will sure beat chosing between tinned tomatoes from China (hmmm.... maybe not) or Italy (ouch food miles...).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

another update

Hmmm, so much for more regular updates! Well it transpired that I either made an attempt to circulate my end of year epistle OR blogged... if you received neither my humble apologies, will aim to do better next year...

Well, where to start? Christmas arrived with a whoosh and several flushes - a nasty tummy bug did the rounds making it a memorable Christmas but probably not for the kind of reasons any of us affected want to dwell on; although a certain episode of projectile vomitting will probably go down in family folklore around here (it wasn't me!).

Thankfully Liam and I recovered in time to head off to Summer Gathering where I p(r)oxy parented him and the younger Bradley boys for the week - for the record they were absolute angels and not a pick of bother, yay! There are many things I thought of blogging about from that event and they may or may not surface over the coming weeks... we'll have to see how much energy I have left over after finally starting my first salaried job in over 3 years! I visited Wellington in between and found the walk between M&Q's and town just as thought productive as usual (and I even discovered a new, shorter, route through the Town Belt!) but somehow those posts never got written either. I have a serious amount of catching up to do!

Anyway my main task this evening has been completing (yet another) set of visa/work permit forms to be couriered off tomorrow. For once the passport photos I have are still new enough, my UK Police checks are within date and so is my medical certificate - woo hoo!

Right now though I think it is time for a cuppa and another early night....