Saturday, 2 October 2010

A long overdue update!

So after months of silence on the old blog front, I though I would finally get into gear and post an update (OK OK it's actually just because people have been on at me to do it!).

So, I don't think I posted at all over our winter period so this blog will be an update on what happened over the past few months or so.

Well, big things first - as I'm sure you're all aware, Niall got a job working for ASB (one of the 'big 4' banks here).  So yes Niall really is a banker now!  It sounds like he's really fallen on his feet in this job - the only down side is that he has a massive commute each day - all of 30 mins (tops)!!!  It's quite funny telling people here that he has to commute for 30 mins - it's so so so far.  Yet in London it was the norm to be commuting an hour plus.
Within the first couple of months, Niall had a business trip to Auckland - airfare, hotel, expenses all paid for.....shame he actually had to work really hard and couldn't really get to see any of Auckland itself : - (

Other big news - we finally completed on our flat in London.  So we're no longer homeowners!!  This was such a relief the way the housing market is going in the UK.  It also meant that we had spare cash - TO BUY A CAR!!!!  This was the big thing for us - freedom to go out and about at weekends, oh yeah and it cut Niall's commute down from an hour to half an hour, but that doesn't affect me so I don't care about that part!!  (jk, jk - I do care - it makes Niall less grumpy coz he's not having to get up as early!).
So, as it's Niall's baby, I'll give a bit more detail about the car - it's an Alfa Romeo something or other (sorry Niall I still don't know what it is), and it's black!!  When he bought it it had such amazingly low mileage, and was in such good condition - basically he got a real deal on it!
I think the only photo we've got of it so far is this one:

So that's really all the big news, so what else have we been up to?!?

Well, we survived our year long winter!  As we left the UK at the end of winter, we arrived at the beginning of winter here - what good timing!  And I have to say, I didn't really think that much of it during the NZ winter - it's only now that Spring is here that I've realised how much I've missed the sun.  We've both found ourselves just walking along smiling in the sun, or getting a little excited when it's warm!  And it really is glorious!

But back to the I'm sure a lot of you are aware, the housing quality in NZ is very very different to the UK.  Central heating and double glazing really don't exist at all.  Insulation of any decent amount is quite uncommon too.  So when I say we survived the winter, I really mean it.  Talking to other Expats, quite a few come here and love it and then when winter comes just can't bear it and decide to quit.
I have to say, though, I think we were quite lucky with the house we ended up in.  It's not too too draughty (compared to some), we have a log burner in the lounge and there's no real damp or condensation.  I've spoken to others and they're needing to have dehumidifiers on all the time to prevent condensation, and some houses don't come with any heating at all.  Others, you'll actually see the curtains blowing in the breeze (ours do but only in strong winds!).
So considering this was only the second property we looked at, I think we did well.  Plus the area is amazing, and the views.....well, see the title photo of our blog - that's from our deck!
And in terms of winter itself - yes it has been cold, but I don't think it was ever as cold as winters we had in the UK.  It was very wet though.  Very wet!  And the Wellington winds, do they exist - yes!!!  But it's not every day like I'd been led to believe.  When the wind does get up though, boy does it get up!!  And because of our house being located on the side of a hill, you can really here the wind up here....we've had a few nights where it's been so loud it's woken us up and we've not slept.

We've started making friends here, and because we're conscious we have to make the effort, we've probably been going out more than when we were in the UK!!
Niall had a friend of a friend that we met up with when we got here - and luckily we got on well with him and his wife!  So Niall's been out with him a few times, and we've had them round for dinner.
I had 'met' a couple of people of a vegan website and we have met up with them in real life!  And again, we got on really well!  One lives in Wellington, so we've met up with her quite a lot - out for drinks (lots of them!), dinner at each others houses and such like.  One of the other people I met on the vegan website lives in Auckland, so I didn't expect to meet her for ages - but we've met up with her 3 times already!!  It helps that her brother lives in Wellington, so she's been down to visit him, and managed to catch up with us too!  The last time they came to visit they even stayed with us - and it was great!!  Again, we got on really well with her and her least I thought we did - Amy if you're reading this I hope you're thinking the same! ; - ) 
Our next door neighbours are also really cool and friendly.  They've had us round for dinner and drinks a couple of times, and they've been over to ours too.  It's also really handy that Rich is really good in the garden, so when Niall finally decided to mow our lawn and didn't know how to work the lawnmower, Rich came over (without asking) and basically showed Niall how to do it and fixed the lawnmower (before totally breaking it for us!).
There's also work colleagues that we've been out with and a group from a British Expat forum that we've met up like I say, we're getting out and about and meeting lots of new people.

So other stuff we've been up be honest, just because the weather was so poor, we haven't been out and about that much - we've obviously explored Wellington city itself, and round and about our neck of the woods, but we've not had the chance to do much else (also, not having a car for a while didn't help).
So here's a couple of photos from round and about our area - all literally within a half hour walk of our house:
Looking out over Island Bay to the South Island
Looking down from Melrose Park to our house - ours is the blue and white one with the big deck!

We have been to Wellington zoo, which was much better than we expected.  We had been told not to expect too much, but it was really good.  The animal enclosures were all nice and big, and most of the animals are rescue animals - it was much nicer than what I remember London zoo being like.  So if you're interested in seeing some cute animals >>>>>HERE'S THE LINKY<<<<<

The only other thing we have done recently is gone camping in a forest - but that's a subject for the next blog.........