Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blithering Idiot

There is one lesson that it seems I am too stubborn to learn.

On the whole (and this is a bit of an air-brushing kind of comment that glosses over various rough edges and so on and so on but if those edges weren't smoothed off, this would very quickly become an awfully long post before I even got to the point I was really intending to make...) I am quite content to be me.

The mistake I keep making though is imagining I will become someone entirely not like myself in some magical turn of events...

When I was a wee lass (up to about the age of 24 and one month), I thought I was going to turn into this different person when I got married. I had this image of this incredibly serene and poised lady who wafted down the aisle, took everything in her stride, had time to say something kind/witty/lovely to every guest, did not fluster, did not get over-excited by life...

Needless to say, that didn't happen. In actual fact, I continued to be me, much to Husbink's relief (I think!). But this is the mistake I keep making, recently in terms of giving talks and writing blogs. I keep attempting to do these things as another, fictional, person (with varying qualities). And of course, it doesn't work, does it?

When it comes to the giving talks side of things, I normally work it out before doing the talk and sort it out, but when it comes to the blogs... Because I can just make up another blog and another blog and do what I want, I don't tend to pause and think and thus it has taken me a while to realise that I have (at times) been trying to write someone else's blog.

Now that I've worked this out...I very much doubt you'll notice any difference in what you read here! But I might.

(In other news...THE headline story on the 6 o'clock news this evening? David Beckham has arrived in Wellington...)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We have a Date. Again.

On Monday we went to the travel agent. I cried on the way there and then had to keep walking out of the office to not embarrass myself too hugely with my blubbing while there. We fortunately had a very understanding travel agent.

We leave here on Feb 5th (sorry Ruthing) and, after a few days in Sydney and Singapore, arrive home in the very wee small hours of Feb 10th. And then? Who knows!

Now that we actually have the flights, I'm a lot less emotional. For a little while anyway. I suspect the next few months are going to be rather punctuated with teary moments!

What is very good is that before we had managed to book our flights, some friends here had booked their flights for a three month jaunt round Europe next Aug-Oct, so at least it isn't saying goodbye to everyone all at once...

I guess what is harder about leaving here is that we don't know that we will come back. Most likely, we will come back for visits at least but we don't know. Leaving England, although it was sad to say goodbye to people, we knew (horrific accidents and so on aside) that we would go back and we would see them again. This time, I guess that is a little more unknown.

But I'm chatting with my parents and despite the horribly early start they will have to make, they will be meeting us at the airport. That will be good. :)

(In other news...only a few days of Movember left! Hurrah! I managed to declare a few days ago that Husbink's mo was long as it wasn't beneath his nose...)

Friday, November 23, 2007

New Experiences

This last not-yet-quite-eighteen-months has contained many new experiences for me. Some entirely new some "variations on a theme" kind of new.
This week has contained a few new experiences all its own.
On Tuesday night, Husbink and I went to HangDog, our local indoor climbing wall place with some friends. Husbink decided a while back that, since we are both of a competitive nature and don't tend to take kindly to the other one offering advice on how best to do things, it would be good to do something together that we were both really bad at and could thus be all chilled out about. He decided that climbing was that thing. A number of our friends go climbing quite often and had been asking us for a while to go. I had been resisting, which is odd as I always wanted to climb when I was a child, but finally decided I should stop being a big girl's blouse and get on with it. The first time up the "easy" wall I completely froze about half way up. I looked down to find out if it was the height which was bothering me. It wasn't. I don't actually know what was so freaky but I couldn't go any further and came down defeated. The next time I made it a little higher but still not to the top. Finally on my third attempt, I beat that wall! I then went on to climb another (actually easier) wall and back to the first one to finish. After the initial terror, I loved it and will be going again soon.
My second new experience was an entirely unpleasant one. I am supervising exams again this year and have done six sessions this week. This afternoon, for the first time, someone cheated in one of my exams. I strongly suspect it wasn't intentional (having prohibited items at the desk) but I still had to file a report and get the person in question to sign it at the end. I don't think it would be overly professional to go into more detail than that (I'm not sure why, probably from having a doctor for a husband and having worked in various confidential roles in the past, I think I'm very sensitive to that sort of thing now) but it was just all a bit weird and yuck and hmm and things.
What new thing have you done this week?
I also desparately wanted to correct another candidate's spelling but clearly had to resist.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Top Ten Songs I Like But Feel I Shouldn't...

("Shouldn't" for any number of reasons - bad song, not what I like, revile the band etc...)
1) Deeply Dippy by Right Said Fred - so I didn't say this was a modern list! It has some great a few places!
2) Teenagers by My Chemical Romance - I'm too old. Really. But that doesn't stop me wailing along whenever it comes on the radio
3) Back For Good by Take That - I hated Take That. I couldn't stand them. And yet...both the original and Robbie William's "special" version...(you have to go about three minutes through before you get to it...)
4) Thunderstruck by ACDC - It pretty much has to be the live version that Husbink owns, the album version is just a little disappointing. Thunder! (Although this is a live version it isn't as good as the one I know and love.)
5) Walkie Talkie Man by Steriogram - Well, they are Kiwis so I guess that makes it less surprising, but otherwise, I wouldn't expect to like this at all.
6) Jump Around by House of Pain - So yes, it holds many memories of teenage life but really...!
7) They by Jem - So part of the reason I like this is because I call it the "Bob Ballard song"...Bob Ballard being a sports news person on Radio 2...either this means something to you, or it doesn't...anywho, that's just an excuse for liking it really...
8) Anything by Bryan Adams - I just feel I really shouldn't like Bryan Adams. I don't like entirely everything by him but more than I feel I should. And worst of all, it is entirely "Everything I Do"'s that is the link
9) You Can't Touch This by MC Hammer - So I think most people (around my age anyway) like this because it is just so silly and so memory-filled but we shouldn't, should we?
10) I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder - Ok, so Stevie Wonder is a genius and has many fantastic songs. When you consider that this was probably pretty innovative at the time it makes it a little better to like it. What makes it worse is that I first came across this song on The Cosby Show, Mr Wonder was a guest star...
(And just to make this post a little more embarrassing...While I was finding all the YouTube clips, the ONE track that I couldn't bring myself to click away from before it was finished? Everything I Do. I know no shame...)

Thursday, November 15, 2007


So I think I've done amazingly well to get over half way through Movember without ranting about it...but that show of amazing restraint and will power is now over.
Yes, it is for a good cause. Yes, it is a bonding experience for men all over the country (and I'm sure they could bond with the men in Australia too). But it is an awful, awful thing for a marriage!
The problem is, as I suspect I said around this time last year, is that a mo makes Husbink look like a dirty old man or a sleezy European car sales man or...many other not so flattering things...
And it is also rather painful. Little unsuspecting me who has momentarily forgotten that the monstrosity is there accepts a little peck from Husbink only to recoil in horror: "Ow! Ow! Ow! How did you manage to stab my nose with it?!"
As well as those issues that only relate to Husbink for me, it is just a little nauseating walking round town, the gym, the supermarket, anywhere at the moment. There are VERY few people in the world that suit a moustache and yet here are all these men with squirrels/rats/slugs/whatever attached to their faces. Many of the younger men can't actually grow much of a mo anyway and so you are left with this confusion as you talk to them. "Something isn't right, this person doesn't look like they normally do...oh, I see it, that little line of fuzz on their lip, affecting their entire look..."
Still, I'm sure they all enjoy it...!?!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

World Famous in New Zealand Since Ages Ago

One of the things I'm finding most odd about preparing to go home is knowing that Husbink and I now have 18 months of shared culture that no one at home is going to understand or know about.
No one (or basically no one) will know who Dave Dobbyn or Supergroove are
No one will have seen the Trumpet togs/undies ad
No one will know all the words to Why Does Love Do This To Me by The Exponents (compulsory listening for granting of a visa into NZ...)
No one will call their flip-flops jandals or their swimming costumes togs...
And so on...

Of course the flip side to this is that people will understand when I mention Terry, Eurovision, Radio 2, Strictly Come Dancing... People will (hopefully...) understand when I start to sing the Challenge Anneka theme tune whenever required to do something in a limited time frame (though I suspect there might just be one or two people who understand that! And bizarrely it is the thing that comes up most often here that I want to make a reference to and know no one will understand).

Of course, there is also much shared culture. Most films, a lot of music, TV and so on is shared between New Zealand and England (and Australia and the US and...) but even then there is a different take on it all.

What is most strange about this is that it was also one of the hardest things about arriving here. Not knowing who any of the famous people were, not understanding in jokes and cultural comments and all that sort of thing. I'd say we still don't know all that much and there are plenty of times when we are left clueless. But there are times when we are not and it will be just the same when we get home. We've lost 18 months of British culture but we've gained 18 months of NZ culture - when we get confused, we'll just confuse everyone right back!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Husbink and I went camping for the first time together (not including our stay in the garden) this weekend. I was (and I think he was too) a little apprehensive as we have very different experiences of camping.

My first experiences of camping were in America at lovely campsites with great facilities. (The one I really remember also had a trout farm so you could go along, pay your few dollars, catch a trout, they did all the icky bits and then you could cook it on your bbq (that was part of your site) that night. That was the first time I actually like the taste of fish. Anyway, I digress.) I went camping with my family once in England but lots of our nice flash American stuff got nicked and we were rather put off. My only experience since then has been at festivals (or rather that should be "festival", being Greenbelt, a Christian festival and thus although still lacking in things like flushing toilets (even those it has now having moved site), it was still all rather nice.)

Husbink has done much more of the "proper" camping thing having grown up in the Lake District and done Duke of Edinburgh awards and that sort of thing. For him, campsites are fields that may have a tap if you are lucky. Husbink has also done the festival camping thing but his have been more of the sort where toilets get set on fire and so on...

We arrived at our site on Thursday evening and I got all confused because I'd just read too many almost-the-same descriptions of campsites during the previous few days and had forgotten what this one was actually supposed to be like. Once, I got over that though, all was well.

The weather was glorious all weekend (which didn't stop us getting ridiculously cold at night) and we chilled out very well. My only intention for the weekend was that we "went camping" and got everything in working order before our intended 2.5 week trip in January. Normally when we go away I have a stack of things I want to see or do and it was really nice to be able to chill a little more. We went to Taranaki again (we spent a weekend there back in June when it was cold and snowy) but instead of staying in a posh hotel halfway up the mountain, our campsite was right on the beach (protected by sand dunes, a hedge and the owners house). Not quite from our tent but within a minutes walk from it, we could watch the sunset over the beach and the mountain simultaneously.

We climbed a crazy rock/hill thing in New Plymouth on Friday. It started out as just a steep walk but became full on scrambling before the end - and going down was done pretty much on my bottom. As we were coming down, we met two people going up who do it every day as part of their training regime. One had a prosthetic leg. I was impressed. Near the bottom we also met some vaguely insane people on their way with no shoes on, the others with sandals...I don't think they made it far.

The rest of the time involved lying in parks, reading books, strolling, eating cake, lots of fish and chips, games of cards, Surfer's Highway with the black sands of Taranaki, the adventures of camping cooking and a good time all round.

We've discovered we can camp together though I think Husbink is still not entirely convinced that I enjoyed myself. I'm all set for our big holiday now - just one or two tasks to achieve before then...(more on the rising panic of moving countries again soon)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Right now, it's no fun

Actually, that isn't true, a lot of things are a lot of fun at the moment but there are some big loomers that are less fun.
I don't really want to leave New Zealand. I'm well up for going back to the UK for a holiday, seeing all the people I miss, having a proper pint, going to Tesco and Boots, seeing more people...
But I'm so much not ready to live there again. Or rather, to not live here. And this is even the time of year that I most find it odd here (both the Christmas without family and friends and the light warm Christmas too).
But, I know that we have to go and that we are going and thus I can't be so involved or interested in things here any more. There is quite a lot going on at our church at the moment and I don't feel I can express an opinion - and perhaps don't even feel an opinion because very soon it is going to be so irrelevant to us. And what about friends here? Should I cram in as much time as possible with them or should I start cutting ties so that leaving is less painful?
Generally, I just feel highly in limbo, not one place nor the other, not wanting one place or the other. And it isn't so much fun.
So, one thing led to another and I found myself hunting on YouTube for this...and now I feel a lot better.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Holiday Home

For the past week, Husbink and I have been on holiday at home. It has been fabulous.

On Monday, we went to Lindale Farm. A petting farm, walk, shops (like a candy shop, a honey shop, an olive shop...and antique-type shops and a cafe or two). We went with our very good friends and their two small children. Child Number One is two and a bit and the perfect age for such activities. Child Number Two is only just over a month old but did admirably considering! Husbink fed lots of the animals (Child Number One was a little scared, particularly of letting the animals eat from her hands, who can blame her?). We got a little too excited by the guinea pigs that they had in one section. I do miss my Loci(McChoki) and Sugar(ly-Boogaly). After we had lunch, I went back round the walking/feeding section with Child Number One. Mostly we fed the chickens and ducks. And a pig. But I was very over excited when a chap from the farm appeared and gave me a bottle so I could feed one of the lambs. So excited. Didn't stop talking about it for the rest of the week...Sadly there was no photographic evidence for this so here's Husbink with a goat...

Tuesday was a bit of a down day, for me anyway. (Mental hormones. More of that another time I expect but for now you are safe.) We had lunch with some of Husbink's colleagues which was ok, but I was not very sociable. We then went to one of my favourite shops to cheer me up (more on this later in the week...) before heading up the valley to the Rimutaka Rail Trail (that of the 63k bike ride some months back) for a gentle stroll (when not biking the whole thing, it is very gentle and pleasant). Sadly, we didn't have the camera with us as it was beautiful and we saw some rainbow lorikeets, not so common here as across the ditch (and by virtue of not being native, are considered pests) but still fun to see. We spent the evening with the same friends as Monday. I had therapy in the form of running around the garden for half an hour with Child Number One before bedtime followed by assisting with Child Number Two's bath. Child Number Two was very unimpressed with my cold hands... The day ended much better than it started.

Wednesday was *probably* the highlight of the week. We went to Rimutaka Forest Park (actually quite a long way from where we went on Tuesday) and did a fantastic walk. We went through so many different areas of habitat: bush bordering on rainforest in density and feel, high meadow, beech forest... The only downside was that it took about an hour longer than expected and we were very ready for our picnic by the time we got back to the car (we'd not taken it with us cos we thought the timing was in our favour). The other less good thing about the walk was that I had discovered a strange downside to living here: not having stairs. The last few times we have done a reasonably uphill kind of walk, I've developed a strange pain in my legs that I've never had before. Husbink suggested that I was getting old...but also said the pain could be caused by having to lift my legs higher than usual. I realised that evening that what has changed is the lack of stairs in my everyday life...crazy!

Wednesday evening was also one of the highlights of the week. We went into Wellington and saw Pluto (ho hum, music fine but no stage presence), Supergroove (oh goodness me, possibly the best live act I've ever seen, so much stage presence, so much fun, so good, so good, so good) and Crowded House (very good but I had two problems with it: first I had meant to get round to getting their new album and educating myself before the gig but I didn't, my bad. second, they did that "wall of sound" thing a little too much - where everyone seems to just be making as much noise as they can and all musicality has gone out of the window, their bad. However, it was still very good, despite the odd moment at the end when they let about eight greyhounds run across the stage. Strange.)

Thursday was rather more low key but did include the return to one of my favourite shops... You see, we went there on Tuesday because I knew there was nothing there that I would be able to justify buying, we didn't need anything from that kind of shop (outdoors) so it was just a cheery-uppy mooch. However. They had a massive sale on tents. And it seems we managed to justify buying a tent after all (our original plan of campervanning round the North Island in January was getting too expensive). Mmm, tent. The rest of Thursday was generally a chill out prior to feeding our home group in the evening.

Friday, we ventured out again and went over the hills (yes, that would be the third mention of the Rimutakas in one post) to the Wairarapa. Where the sun always shines and the wind drops (at least a little.) We stopped off in Carterton at Paua World and enjoyed some kitsch Christmas shopping before driving on to Castlepoint. Which was lovely. Beautiful. We had lunch in the solitary cafe before walking up to the lighthouse. We then walked around the various bits of beach, watching the hundreds and hundreds of birds, paddled, ate cake... It was a grand day out. And finished with a Burger Fuel when we got back to the Hutt before Husbink went to youth group and I watched ANTM...

Saturday was mostly a jobs kind of day until the evening...when we decided to try out our tent so camped in the back garden last night! I was exhausted so we went to bed about 9pm and didn't wake up until nearly 9am (except turning over when the birds started singing and that sort of thing...) So we are pretty chuffed with our tent, sleeping bags and carry mats :) especially since it was raining most of the night and not particularly warm. Hurrah!

Sunday has been absolute down my Grannie would say, it's so tiring enjoying yourself!