Monday, August 28, 2006

Hanmer Springs "girly weekend"

August 27, 2006
Just spent the weekend at Hanmer Springs with 8 other women from (a website I joined when I was planning my move to NZ). Although we didn't know each other at the start, we had a great time. We ranged in age from 30 to 50+ and came from the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, the US and Canada. We spent Saturday afternoon in the hot springs (36-41C) and then hung out at a rental house eating fish and chips, drinking and playing the NZ version of Trivial Pursuit - boy I wish I knew the name of more NZ cricket players and then maybe our team could have won! Three of the women went to a pub from 1-3am to watch NZ play South Africa in rugby. I'm interested in learning about rugby but not that interested!

Looks like I'm going to have to knuckle down and do some solid work next week to get caught up on things. So I may not have anything interesting to post for a few days.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Went out to look at houses - came back with a car!

August 25, 2006
Today was a glorious spring-like day, hardly a cloud in the sky so the whole house warmed up!! I went out to look at a couple of furnished places but one was already let by the time I showed up and the second was nice but too close to downtown. So then I headed off to Turners Auctions where they auction used cars. It's a huge place and quite intimidating - definitely not your friendly neighbourhood shop! I looked at a few cars and then left.

But while walking back to the bus depot, I passed about a hundred other car dealers and one of them just sucked me in. Maybe it was the name that did it - Lifestyle Autos. It was a small place and there was a woman salesperson who was very helpful. So before I knew it, I was driving home in my 1997 (3 years newer than my car in CA!) blue Subaru Impreza - freshly arrived from Japan with only 59,000 km on it.

I managed to drive the whole way home on the left side of the road and I only turned on my windshield wipers once when trying to signal a turn. Not bad, eh?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pyromania conquers all!

August 24, 2006
No need to bore you with my day's activities but I had a breakthrough this evening!

I conjured up all my male pyromaniac genes that have been suppressed for 54 years and built an awesome fire in the stove. I shovelled all the old ashes out of the stove, got a bunch of fresh firewood and made a towering inferno. You should have seen it! The kitchen was actually so warm at dinnertime that I ate without a coat or gloves on! I opened the vent into my bedroom and turned on the fan (that's supposed to divert some heat to the bedroom) and I think it's actually warmer in my bedroom now too.

This back to nature stuff can actually be fun once you get the hang of it.

Frozen solid

August 23, 2006
What a night! I must have woken up every hour because I was so cold. I forgot to mention it yesterday but it poured rain and hailed here and snowed in the port hills so they are very pretty all covered with snow.

I had a bunch of work to do today and I have internet access (finally got Lyneke's password!) so I spent the day sitting at the desk inside my down sleeping bag with a jacket and gloves on. I kept having to take off a glove because the mouse pad won't work without bare skin. Why is that anyway? Very inconvenient when it's 2C inside and out.

I tried to build a better fire tonight before dinner but the whole thing fell over and I spent hours blowing on it to no avail. But tonight I went to bed fully armed - 2 hot water bottles, down sleeping bag, comforter, fleece jacket - and I slept like a baby!

Winter returns!

August 22, 2002 (my birthday!)
I went to the local triathlon team swim practice this morning. The coach is Rolie and he was very welcoming. And I'm not too slow for the group so that was a relief.

I took the bus into town again and went to the immigratio office where they instantly gave me my permanent resident status!! So I'm officially legal here to work and to stay as long as I want to!

Oh my, that weekend weather was just a little trick to lull me into thinking it's not so bad to go from California August summer to Kiwi winter. First you have to know that this house has no furnace and probably no insulation. It does have a wood burning stove in the kitchen and a gas heater in the living room, neither of which are to be left going during the night.

It was 1C outside when I woke up this morning and probably about the same temperature in my bedroom - no wind chill though (that's the silver lining part I think). I managed to get out of bed and dressed without freezing solid and made some hot oatmeal - that was stone cold before I finished it. I turned on the gas heater and sat in front of it to try to get warm but it's pretty wimpy and quits if you try to put it on high.

I met this morning with Tony, the head of the CRO I'm going to be working for. Nice guy, married with 4 kids, 2 of whom are at a tennis tournament in LA right now. He's a mountain biker and races. While we were meeting at a coffee house, my parents and my brother Gavin called from Schade Island, Georgian Bay, Canada and they all sang happy birthday to me!

I built a little fire in the stove but it didn't seem to heat up the kitchen so I went to bed early. Forgot to open my birthday present from my sister! Well I can do that tomorrow, when it's my birthday in California!

Beautiful weekend but bigtime voltage trouble!

August 21, 2006
What an introduction to winter in NZ - sunny and up to about 16C this weekend. I had a great walk on the beach, watered the garden with the rain pails, drained the water off the wormbin (for those not fully informed about wormbins, you put food scraps in the top and drain "fertilizer water" off the bottom), biked around New Brighton and checked out the pool. You wouldn't believe this place - 50m indoor pool, diving pool with 1 and 3m boards and 5 and 10m platforms, wave pool with little "rivers" around the edges that kids were having a ball in.

But I have a little confession to make about my interactions with the 240V electricity here. I brought a wireless router/phone adaptor from Vonage plus a phone to plug into it all the way from home so I could talk for free to everyone in California. Well, I managed to fry the router and my phone by plugging them into the outlet with only a plug adaptor. Turns out you have to buy a $150 stepdown transformer to protect them from the 240V. So don't bother trying to phone me on my CA number for awhile! I'm waiting for my new router :o(

Arrival in New Zealand!!

August 18, 2006
After a somewhat sleepless night, I arrived in Auckland at 5:30 am. It took 2 hours to clear customs. After running the (half mile?) distance to the domestic terminal with all my bags on a cart and pulling my bike box behind me, my 7:50 flight to Christchurch had been cancelled because a bird was sucked into the engine. Well at least I got my morning workout!

I caught a flight 2 hours later and arrived in ChCh around 11. It was quite chilly - 5C. I am definitely not in the California summer anymore! I had a great taxi driver (in my experience all Kiwi taxi drivers are great) who took me to Bas and Lyneke's house (see photo), which is 100 yards from the ocean and 2 km from a 50m pool that was used for the Commonwealth Games once! Bas and Lyneke are biking in Australia until the end of September so I'm renting their house. Their friend Paul let me into the house and showed me how to turn on the gas heater (very important for survival!).

I had a second wind by then so I took the bus downtown (30 min ride) and opened my bank account, bought groceries etc. Then I came home, put my bike together, made dinner and went to bed.