How many days left of summer?

Can you believe it? Summer apparently is almost over. I am loving the sunny days here in Taupo, even if I am working most of them during the week.

Sparkling water, sun shining, heat pounding down, loving it! I actually even noticed the other day that I no longer look sickly pale. Sure the legs still glow white but it’s a catch 22 situation. Show my legs to the sunlight and get laughed out of town or keep them under wraps? Yes, I know there are tanning products available but seriously I’m not that fussed. I think a benefit of getting older is the care factor of other peoples opinions starts to decrease. However, I am still vain enough to not want to be pointed and laughed at too much 🙂

The other day we went to Taupo DeBretts for a hot mineral spa. Yes, I realise the absurdity of this given my above comments regarding the great hot weather and then going for a hot spa. There are some days when you just gotta relax and doing the hot spa is the way to go.

I hadn’t been to Taupo DeBretts before given that the pricing is slightly more than the Taupo AC Baths. However DeBretts is literally up the road from us and their mineral pools are rather good looking. Their price also includes entry to the other pools on site as well. The mineral pools are private so you can have one all to yourself or as in the one we took it would appear that you could easily fit at least 10 people in the pool. With a little shower to cool off with it was a lovely and relaxing alternative to the AC Baths which are really just spas filled with hot mineral water. At DeBretts the mineral pools have a lovely entry into the water with pebble tiling and different level of height seating. Looking up the ceiling is open to the air which is lovely on a clear summer night or I could imagine in winter it would be nice and toasty with a great little chill coming in from above. At $16 per person for as long as you like (if you dare brave more than the recommended 45 minutes) it was well worth the extra bit of money splashed out for an evening of relaxation. The private pools are placed away from the main pools in a tranquil bush setting and hopefully if you’re lucky enough the occupants of the other spas will not be noisy children! 🙂

A Kiwi Summer

As I type this my keyboard is incredibly hot and I am thinking whether I should continue in the evening when it is cooler? I guess that’s what laptop fans are for? Oh well, let’s test it out.

Apparently it is 28 degrees at the moment. I must say I am loving this although after 3 years in the cool of the UK I am a bit out of practice. The key to warm weather? Hydration (and air conditioning). Key items we discovered from 10 years in Australia. Hydration – check, air conditioning – hard to come by unless you can visit any large malls (none here in Taupo for which I am thankful for. Glad to say I don’t miss the “urge” to fill my day with meaningless window shopping, instead it is filled with walks, climbing, swimming, hooray!). Thankfully the lake is only 100 metres away and I have already had my swim today.

This morning before it got too hot we took off to Kinloch for a bouldering session. It was so wonderfully cool under the forest canopy. Just bliss. We probably should have stayed there until evening but the mosquitoes were starting to get annoying. So after a bite to eat on the ol’ camping stove it was a swim and then home. I’m stoked I managed to get another section under my belt. The next thing I have to do is get some climbing shoes that fit. I have Steve’s old ones which are about 2 sizes too large so I get no purchase on the rock for the smaller spots. Silly yes, but it allows me to climb until I have found some of my own that I like.

This year is the first in many that we have had a tan for Christmas. Mind you I am not trying for one! Again if Australia taught us anything vanity is NOT worth dying for. I’m quite happy with fluorescent white legs if it means I get more out of my time here on Earth.

After 4 days off work it is back to it tomorrow for another 3. Pooh. I’m liking this “no work” scenario although it could get a bit tiresome when it comes to paying the bills. Always a freaking catch.

Some of my highlights these holidays, stunning weather, awesome sunsets, watching some guys go over Huka Falls in their kayaks, receiving some pictures of my gorgeous nephews (thanks Gemma and Garrison), a visit from my parents for Christmas Day, getting the jungle of a lawn under control (sad I know), creating some excellent pizzas on my new pizza stone I got from mum and dad for Christmas. It would have been nice to spend more of my days off with Steve but alas he had to work. This retail work scenario in Taupo is rather a bore but what can you do at this point? Keep an eye on the goal – lifestyle! Your job is NOT your whole world but is does allow you to do the things you love so a healthy balance must be created.

New Zealand update

Well so far it is now into my 8th week in the new job. Slightly (and I mean slightly) feeling a bit more confident but then this goes out the window when an obscure flight routing walks in the door. Needless to say I can quite confidently say that this is the HARDEST JOB I have EVER had! Purely down to time management, learning new systems, trying to manage on a pay cut of significant value and settle in to a new place of abode.

So how has it been moving back to NZ after 13+ years away? Freaking hard! Love being nearer to my family and friends but then we moved to Taupo so this has made it a bit more difficult to catch up with everyone.

The lifestyle in Taupo is what we expected, outdoor orientated. People who live in Taupo want to be here either because they were born and raised here or because they moved here specifically for the lifestyle. There seems to be a good mix of work and lifestyle although I have yet to fully accomplish this balance. NZ in general is incredibly fortunate to have access to amazing landscapes and to be so uncrowded. We can be on a beach and run into very few people in a day.

Not so hot on this scale. Your biggest corporate work points are Auckland or Wellington and choosing these locations would defeat the purpose of us returning to NZ. So you scale down to a smaller town which means less jobs to choose or those jobs on offer are not really what you are after. In short, you take what you can get and hope it pays enough to cover your monthly expenses.

I clearly remember now why we left NZ in the first place in order to get ahead in life. A living wage is not really on offer for many roles and then coupled with costly power and phone bills we have been a bit shocked. For the internet and phone alone we are looking at $110 per month. Considering I paid 40 pound a month for all you could get internet and mobile phone the NZ pricing has been a huge bummer. This $110 also only gets you 20gig a month as well. No wonder a lot of New Zealanders don’t see the internet as an essential. I find this very disappointing. However if you have a choice between paying your rent or getting connected then of course the choice is obvious for a family. A lot of it comes down to competition (lack of), infrastructure costs being high for organisations and a limited population to divide the cost amongst.

I clearly remember NZ coffee as being rather disappointing when we first left. I am very pleased to say that this is no longer the case. A fine cup of brew is nearly always available. Fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful and generally of lovely quality. I adore the fresh eggs, they taste and look magnificent. There is great quality food to be found if you look. The only thing I am missing is my French range of cheeses but even now the NZ Govt has lifted the ban on unpasteurized cheese and we should see more coming into the country. Hooray!

I can’t deny it has been hard work coming back and it still continues to be hard work at the moment settling. The important thing is to stay focused and keep an eye on the big picture. We are here to be nearer family and to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle on offer here. These are so much more important at the end of the day than a soul eating career or more stuff that I just don’t need. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having to get rid of everything to move country is scary but also very freeing. Clear out the clutter and start with nothing and you realise what is important. Having said that though, a proper bed would be good at some point 🙂

Happy 80th

Recently my grandfather celebrated his 80th birthday. We had a gathering of people at a house that we hired for the weekend. This way people could come and go as they pleased throughout the day. This also gave granddad a chance to have a rest and chat to differing people as they passed through.
There are many things that I can attribute to my granddad as having inspired and influenced me during my life. To me he is one of the most influential male mentors in my life and I see him as a strong man with an incredible work ethic, intelligence, humor, generosity and wisdom.
Here are some pictures from the day.

Observation 4: False economy

I’ll be darned if I can find it but quite a while back I wrote about my thoughts regarding the economy here. It was along the lines of believing that there is a definite false economy at work in this country. People living off credit cards to meet their monthly bills, while still using them heavily to buy a whole heap of junk they don’t need, in turn racking up more debt.

This morning I was watching an AM show that was talking just about this. Basically with the economic slow down happening here they are starting to look further past the housing prices (which just weren’t realistic). They seem to realise now that the average Brit has been struggling for a long time to keep their head above water. Doh, seriously where do these economists have their heads? I can tell you it is somewhere between their knees and their belly.

Another thought – I was listening to Star FM and they are doing a “greatest hits from the Thatcher years” day. Occasionally they put in memorable Thatcher quotes. Now I can’t say a lot about this lady’s politics but she had it going on when she said “It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake.”

Observation 3: Autumn

As this is the first “real” Autumn we have had (i.e. with visible changes) I thought I might write a few observations in regards to this.

1. Cold, cold and more cold. Will we survive Winter? I’m just praying that we have constant heat throughout Winter as I don’t fancy our chances without our radiator. Thankfully there has been little rain.

2. Oops spoke too soon – rain, rain and more rain. To be fair this is the 3rd day in about a month that it has rained. Not bad at this stage.

3. Stunning colours – burnt orange (thankfully not on a formica table), crisp reds, dozens of shades of brown (who knew there were “shades” of brown that are actually pretty!)

4. Darkness – dark by 4.30pm, too freaky

Observation 2: Smelly people

In all the places that we have been to which includes Dubai at a cracking 43 degree heat, we have never come across so many smelly people in our lives. We are talking serious reflex gag action BO! The kind that “impregnates the material in the bus seat so years after the person has left the smell still lingers” kind of nastiness. It afflicts English men in particular but has been noted as applicable to some of the ladies as well. Why?
After long observation, discussions and hypothesis we have narrowed it down to the following: 1. lack of personal hygiene and of course deodorant (the obvious one) 2. slow drying clothes. As it is particularly damp, often the clothes from the washing machine can’t be hung outside therefore they dry quite slowly inside while drapped over chairs or airing racks while the heaters are on. This slow drying seems to encourage a particular bacteria that gets a bit woofy when the cloth heats due to contact with the skin. 3. Beer. The BO has a distinct yeasty smell which can only be surmised as coming from the excessive amount of grog they drink here. When the guys sweat they seem to emit this distinctive smell. Phewwwwww.
Anyway, that’s the gross out for this week. Yuck, yuck and again I say yuck. Obviously not a lot happening at the moment due to the rain! 🙂

Observation 1: Queues

OK. So what’s with the queuing in the UK?
Waiting for my bus the other day of which there is a queue of people. OK, so I’ll go with the flow and queue as well so no one goes all “postal” on me for jumping in front. Bus turns up, queue appears to be moving. Bus LEAVES!!! If you are not queuing for that number bus, get out of the line right? Seems simple. Anyway, have learnt, don’t stand in the queue but hang back and observe, bus approaches, go straight for doors using All Black tackling technique. Not really, but you get the idea!