Monday, October 20, 2008

Nice t' see ya...

Hello...
It's been a strange wee while and I don't think I'm out of it yet.
We have had a few adventures which is nice, makes us think we haven't completely lost control of our lives. We took a little jaunt on the chunnel as it used to be called and had a lovely few chocolate filled days in Bruges with all the in laws (all being three of them, it wasn't a vast outing remember!). We've also managed to have a few days out from here, one amazingly beautiful walk on a warm Autumn Sunday afternoon, one slightly soggy, very muddy beautiful in places bike ride. (As well as fighting with mud quite spectacularly (at one point I was stopping every 60-70m to clean out my brakes because my wheels would not turn anymore...) we also changed route a couple of times to steer clear of the phesant hunters. We did not want our squeals of alarm at the mud to be mistaken for bird cries... Ooh, I also had quite an impressively complicated tumble at one point (really not sure what happened) and so now have impressively scraped and bruised knees so that I feel like a child.)
Other than that...well, I'm still not wildly happy about the direction life is going (or rather not going at the moment). Husbink's job is fab and I'm very happy for him. One of my jobs is fab. The other...is not turning out quite as I'd hoped. It may still be ok. I'm giving it time...
We were going to get a dog; we aren't now. We are looking for and utterly failing to find a church. We are looking for and utterly failing to find friends. We are making a mad dash tomorrow night to visit someone in hospital that we very, very much hope is not going to be in as serious a position post-hospital as they could be. I have another blood test a week today. I'm not looking forward to that as they bashed my arm up so much last time (yes, I know everyone can have a bad day so I'm not blaming them but it did hurt. For days.).
What a whinge.
Sorry.
I will, I'm sure, snap out of it soon. It's just taking longer to snap than I'd like!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I need a list

It's a really long time since I've done any serious list writing and I feel that my mood requires one of me now...so, in a fairly arbitrary way, here's a list of my favourite things to bake...

1. Chocolate Fudge Cake (the family recipe, which, to the uninitiated is not the kind of chocolate fudge cake you get in restaurants but more a kind of brownie. Gooey in the middle, crisp on top...Armadillos!)
2. Flapjack (to my own recipe)
3. Ginger crunch (so easy, so sickly, so good)
4. Apple cookies (or apple cake or apple anything cos Husbink loves them and I feel like a good wifeling)
5.Black and White Muffins (a little bit of effort goes a long, long way. With all that melted chocolate goodness, how could you fail?)
6. Albert Square (we have no idea where the name comes from but that is what the book calls it...basically a currant and lemon cake with a little bit of icing...another of Husbink's favourites)
7. Chocolate Cookies (the easiest thing in the world to bake yet they turn out amazingly. The first time I gave them to a group of friends they would not believe they weren't bought.)
8. Bread (I'm just getting into this - I've got a bread machine that turns out good loaves of a sandwich-shaped nature but I'm beginning to experiment with hand made rolls and other goodies. Mostly what I love is the whole section where you think it is going to go horribly wrong while waiting for the yeast to do its thing...and then miraculously it does and you come out with light, risen, yummy goodness.)
9. Spinach and Feta Muffins (they're savoury! They must be healthy!)
10. Anything (well, almost...) new...

Recipes on request :)

Slightly Disappointing

I had a wonderful day on Sunday. Well, a wonderful afternoon and evening. The morning was sadly a bit of a let down but I'll not go into that now (another post is brewing I'm sure). So we toddled across to Leeds on Sunday afternoon and while Husbink went to the rugby with Mr SD and a few other friends, Mrs SD and I pootled into Headingly (much faster than I expected from her "I can only go slow now" protestations!) for a coffee and a big old chat. It was marvellous. I love Mrs SD. Then we met up with the rugby goers back at the house of two of them and had a good chatter there too. And then we went to a rather famous (amongst us, anyway) curry house and met up with four more of the old group (and missed those that were missing) and had a lovely, lovely time. I was really in need of people and I got them! It was great to talk and laugh and be silly and talk and eat and... A really lovely evening. We all then went our separate ways (Husbink and I getting home in time to watch Bring Back Star Wars...it was very silly but much, much fun...) So what was the disappointment? Well, it was the morning after. I've eaten at that curry house a huge number of times. We've pined for it while at a distance. This curry house is so well loved to us and our friends that when my mum rang during the meal and I told her where we were she said "oooh, say hello from me!" not to the people but to the building! Right... Anyway, I've never felt ill effect from a meal there (other than self inflicted overstuffedness) until Monday morning. Don't worry, I was not ill, it was in no respect food poisoning or anything severe like that, I just wasn't right. Like you get sometimes after partaking in lesser curry meals. Husbink and I have a twenty-four hour rule that we apply to curries to class whether they were good or not. (Note that this is very different to my twenty-four hour rule for the purchase of shoes, bags, coats...where the accessory rule requires that I am still thinking about the possible purchase twenty-four hours after leaving the shop and thus clearly require the item and must return for it, in the case of a curry, the twenty-four hours should be marked by the meal not in the least playing on my mind!) For the first time ever, this curry house failed the twenty-four hour rule. Which is probably just a reminder that you should never look back.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Growing Up

Over the last few months with one wedding and another and various large social events, I've run into quite a few people that I haven't seen for years and years. And it has been lovely.
I realised the other day that I kept dreading bumping into people from school or whenever because of one ex-friend (and I don't know why they are an ex-friend. Really. No idea. They just stopped talking to me. I did something. I don't know what...very, very weird!). Whenever I run into him it is deeply uncomfortable. He just doesn't seem to be letting go (of this mystery unknown thing. And there is a thing because other people know what it is and won't tell me. Anyway.)
So I'd been dreading running into various people. The kind of people who were friends of friends at school. Sometimes we got on. Sometimes we didn't so much. It was always fine-ish though. You know?
I'd tarred them all with this same brush, I assumed that they all harboured some secret grudge against me that I was never to know of but was to spend every wedding and big reunion regretting despite my lack of knowledge as Husbink and I sat in the corner ignored by all and sundry. Me? Paranoid?!
Not so. It turns out that most of us have grown up! That it was lovely to run into people, find out what they'd been doing, what they are doing, what twists life has taken for them...
It was just reassuring to discover that fundamentally, most people are rather nice when it comes down to it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Harrowed

The past two evenings, we have watched two films, one at home one at the cinema.
At home on Monday night we got round to watching The Last King of Scotland. Excellently done, very engrossing and very distressing (though perhaps not really as distressing as Hotel Rwanda because it was much more focussed on the effect on one man, not on the country as a whole). I didn't watch about ten minutes of it - I looked away briefly and Husbink decided to hide my eyes for a long time which was pretty alarming. I don't tend to look away from gruesome things in films (perhaps just not look too closely) but I do trust Husbink if he concludes I'd much rather not see.
Anyway, at the end of the film it took us a good forty minutes or so to calm down enough to go to bed and well, it wasn't the best sleep I've ever had.
Then last night we went to see The Dark Knight. I must confess I was not in the mood - for a film or the cinema at all and certainly not for this film. I vaguely suggested we went to see the third Mummy film instead but knew Husbink had been waiting for ages to see this film so...
It was good - in the sense that it was a well made, well done, good film. Heath Ledger was very impressive (though mainly I have to say when you compare various of his roles - this is the same person who played the near silent cowboy of Brokeback Mountain and the same person who played such an "easy" character in A Knight's Tale...that is what makes this such a good performance for me). Christian Bale was good. Michal Caine was good. Morgan Freeman was good. They were all good. But I found it disturbing and disgusting. Not disturbing and disgusting in that what I saw disturbed and disgusted me but I wonder why someone thought they'd make that film? It is dark, dark, dark.
Various people I know read a lot of Iain M Banks and Iain Banks books. I enjoy several of his lighter hearted books but some are just too dark. One in particular I remember finishing and thinking "why did he do that? why did he have to turn out all the lights?" because you are left with absolutely no hope. I said to my brother "why didn't he just let this one thing be different?" and he responded, "because then you could have hope".
The Dark Knight didn't wipe out hope, in fact Batman seems to really believe in hope like I do. The overall message of this film is not the dark despair that a lack of hope brings, that is not the problem here. I simply found it overwhelming that someone thought that this was ok as entertainment - the implied grossness being the least of the problems in many ways.
I dunno. As I say, I didn't want to go. I wasn't in a good mood. I'd already been hounded by The Last King of Scotland the night before. It is a good film. Husbink enjoyed it. Chances are, I'll watch it again sometime. I certainly wouldn't advise you against seeing it. But why would you make it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Dangers of the Telly...

When we moved into our house, we couldn't get much reception on our telly. Not with the roof aerial, not with the little set top aerial. We couldn't get anything on the digi box.
And this was fine. Not a problem. We could watch DVDs, we could play with the Wii, it really wasn't a problem.
Then at the weekend, my parents came to stay. My dad fiddled and fiddled and tweeked and now we have all five channels. Which means we have the Olympics. And that we had the Olympics in time for the British "gold rush" over the weekend.
So now what happens? We come down in the morning, we switch the TV on and it stays on. All day. Pretty much. We do other things (Husbink goes to work sometimes!) but the TV just stays clicking away, telling us all kinds of things that we really need to know. Really.
I know that the all-day element will stop with the end of the Olympics but, well, hmm, what a time waster!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Miss You

One of the least fun things about all this moving is all the people you have to keep leaving.
One of the very best things about this move is that we are now in fairly easy reach of lots of lovely people - doctor/woman, snoo, associated husbands (hmm, I think Husbink should start a sports team or a quiz team or a support group or anything really called "associated husbands") and several more besides. But they are still a drive away or a train away or something other than a very quick pop.
It has helped spectacularly with the settling in to see doctor/woman and mr me on Saturday (they got to watch me do some un-flat-packing, lucky them) and to have an evening with Snoo and the Hub on Monday (despite the failure of the Wii to provide entertainment!). Not to mention that the ever wonderful Mr and Mrs SD came to help us move in (and brought us a spare fridge, as you do). But I want to see them more! I want to share car journeys to and from work with Mrs SD like we used to. I want to bump into the Hub on the crescent as we go to work in the mornings or come home in the evenings. I want to know that d/w is just down the road (even if, actually, I've probably spoken to her more in the past few months than we ever used to manage then!). No one lives where they used to anymore (if that makes any sense), that era has finished but...
I don't mean to be a big whinger. I've already been round to someone's house in this new city, a very kind and friendly older couple who took care of me on Sunday when I explored a strange new church (it was very different for me, I'm unlikely to settle there but it was a very refreshing change) and I know that I will find more people here. I know I'll meet them and they will be fabulous...I just don't want to have to leave any more people!
All the people in the Hutt that we've left behind, the people we've now left in Carlisle (admittedly with a couple of them it is just the case that we got in first, another few months and they'd've left us), all the people scattered across the UK...would you all like to come and live down the round from me again please? Thank you very much
xxx

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Entirely Impossible...

...but we did it!
We found out on Friday that we could move into our new house on Tuesday. We had to be out of our old house on Saturday morning so had a brief spell back at the in-laws (which included MiL's birthday, good timing! And good time). Then Tuesday morning we set off with a full van, a fairly full car and here we are in another new city. In a house full of boxes (thank goodness there is a sofa to sit on...there isn't anything else to sit on!) Husbink had to start work this morning (at 7.15am...which isn't too rude in the grand scheme of things but seems very rude for a first day). I'm not sure it is going well which is a little concerning but I think it is only not going well in an induction-days-are-soul-destroyers kind of way.
I have shifted boxes as much as possible. Washed up a lot of newsprint covered items. Pondered how we are going to fit all our kitchen stuff (and food) into the kitchen. It is a very good kitchen for surface space but not so much for cupboards...hmm.
Then I went to Asda. Turns out that Asda here is in a HUGE shopping complex which was really scary and confusing when the whole place is still scary and confusing. And then of course I had the whole "there's nothing to make you homesick like a supermarket" moment though I don't really know where I'm homesick for. Still, I managed to not actually cry...
And just now, I'm taking a little break and so in the sunshine. The most incredible rain is falling. I've actually had to check a couple of times to make sure it isn't properly flooding the yard, cos it is almost a pond already...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Challenge Anneka...

I spend a lot of my life trying to get things done. Whether they be little, regular tasks like cleaning and food shopping or more major tasks like moving house (oh yes, it is that time again in the Adventuring household), I have more than a slight tendency to sing a little song to myself. A little song that goes like this.
I have a feeling I've even blogged about this theme song before, probably about a year ago when I was noticing all the little cultural references we made that no one in NZ understood and all the little references they made that left us completely lost. However, as I'm back at one of those slightly manic times of moving house Challenge Anneka rarely leaves me.
For those who don't know the glories of this 80s/90s UK TV treat, I'll sum up very briefly...
Each week Anneka had a challenge (no kidding) and had to rush about trying to...build a bridge, a new playground, a stage for a school play, a village hall... She spent a lot of time on the phone twisting suppliers arms to give her things for free as the budget was always too small. There was always a time limit...and Anneka "never" missed it! The quality of the projects was sometimes called into question but that's not the point is it?
We (being me, the lovely Ruth, her sis and...a few others???) used to rush about whenever we had something to do in a short time frame singing the theme song and giggling. The habit hasn't left me.
At the moment, I should probably be rushing about the house, singing that tune, trying to get my life packed up again for moving out of the house next Friday. Fortunately, we (almost certainly) have somewhere to move to in the next city of choice which is a big relief. I haven't even started working out how the stuff gets from here to there but I know we can survive off a car load for the first week at least.
So I should be rushing about but here I am writing a blog post for the first time in about three weeks...
You see, Husbink has gone jetting off to far flung places with Le Tart (he who is marrying Le Welsh in a few weeks) for the stag do. I did have a couple of plans for today but they have all come to naught. So today was never assigned as a packing day and thus any packing that is done is a bonus, thus I can fully justify a few hours of not packing, which is such a relief!
I have also just joined an online knitting community...I must resist spending ALL DAY looking at it...I must finish my tester socks before starting any new projects...I must not photograph all my projects to date and put pictures of them on the site...I must save myself something to do when I'm unemployed and friendless in a new city! (Oh, yeah, the best thing about our new house? There's a wool and sewing shop at the end of the street...Husbink is very, very scared. There is also a bakery opposite. Husbink is less scared!)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Blogging Without Agenda

Normally when I sit down to blog, I have a plan or something similar...
Today, no plan. I do have another lake to tell you about but the camera is downstairs and my legs are very tired so I'm not going to do that now.
I do have very things on my mind but at this point none of them are bloggable. So I shall ramble and you shall feel like you've just survived a small flood. You have been warned.
I failed last week to blog about our anniversary and about how wonderful Husbink is. Truly. He is. The traditional fourth anniversary gift is fruit or flowers. Not the easiest thing (ok, so flowers is pretty easy, what I'm meaning is, not the easiest thing to spoil a Husbink with. I managed a bottle of wine and a bottle of posh fizzy fruit juice (so we could drink it before work you see) and a card with a bottle of wine on it...a theme?) Husbink laid white roses around the house, leading to a big bouquet of flowers. Then he presented me with wine (so we think quite similarly) and (perhaps best of all) a chocolate orange - cos it's fruit, right?
In the evening we went out for a lovely meal. Which was lovely.
The next day Husbink started nights which was not so lovely. However, the next day, the Saturday was an event I'd been looking forward to for months and months and months. Woolfest. It was amazing. If a little overwhelming. So. Much. Wool. And associated gubbins.
I spent quite a lot of money (but not as much as I had budgeted so that is ok surely?) and now have many exciting projects from bags to slippers to cushions to socks...awaiting me. Hurrah! I have also learnt (yes, the hard way) some lessons about different types of yarn this being my first real foray (sp?!) away from "whatever I can get from the market" (which is normally acrylic or nylon or easy knit wool). The only upsetting bit of this learning (snapping my new needles the day I bought them) has been solved by the every marvellous Husbink and so I need not cry.
The rest of the week has been...odd. There have been some lovely times of course (meals with friends, the big walk to be posted soon, some decent weather...) but everything is just a little...odd. The unsettling nature of our lives at the moment it taking its toll. I can tell because I'm going slightly mad. Things that should not bother me are bothering me. My tummy is also telling me it is a problem because I keep looking about 7 months pregnant. Which I'm not. Clearly. I keep reminding myself it is a challenge. I am yet to really believe myself or to find it much of a comfort.
Still, just now, my tummy is telling me it is lunch time and today lunch time means one of my absolute all time comfort meals - the three Ps...pesto, pasta and peas. I am a lucky girl!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Bleugh Monster

Yesterday and today, the Bleugh Monster has struck. The Bleugh Monster has been known by a number of names in the past, including Jeremy (I can't remember why anymore, and I must send sincere apologies to anyone called Jeremy...it isn't really fair.) Anyway, Bleugh Monster is at least a little more descriptive than Jeremy.
Yesterday, the Bleugh Monster turned up about half an hour after I got up. I knew he was on his way but he didn't seem to be causing too much issue. All of a sudden, wham, he was right there and I was lying on the floor, at Husbink's request narrowly avoiding a proper faint. I was so pale I'd turned a little green. I had no pulse at my wrists and when Husbink did finally find one it didn't make him very happy.
After a while on the floor I managed to make it back to bed, after a while in bed I managed to make it upright for long enough to be taken to the inlaws for the day so that someone could keep an eye on me the Bleugh Monster. I spent all day on the sofa, much of it asleep. I had to call in sick because of the Bleugh Monster. That is not something I find acceptable.
This morning...I felt ok. Fortunately it was a day off anyway. I got up with Husbink, saw him off to work and chilled out for a few hours, the Bleugh Monster hovering about but not making much impact. Until I tried to do a few too many things at once and there I was having to lie on the floor and stick my feet in the air again.
I've been upright for all of half an hour now and guess what? I need a lie down. It is a year tomorrow since I had surgery. I'd hoped the Bleugh Monster would be held down to only a bleugh monster for a little bit longer but apparently not. Now when we move to Yorkshire I'm going to have to look for jobs that don't mind that there are 2-3 days a month when I simply cannot work. On top of all my other ideal elements to a job, I think I'm going to be more than lucky to find something.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A potted history of the Lake District

Since I last managed a post on the subject, we have ticked off three more lakes. Sadly, I fear we aren't going to complete our aim as we are very much running out of time for this summer - but seeing as the inlaws are so very close by, I'm sure we'll manage it over the next few years if nothing else.


We have been to: Coniston (with Mr & Mrs SD for a walk through the woods above the lake, a lovely cafe lunch (there was CAKE) and a poddle next to the lake (with the obligatory man-throwing-stones session); Wast Water was a slight cheat - we went for a bike ride near by and then drove to Wast, had our picnic, a little bit of a stroll, an ice cream...and then left - you can walk all the way round Wast but frankly we think you'd be mad to try (we did see a few people doing it) - one side is entirely scree (the the scree goes on for 900ft under the water too - so the chance of a sudden, cold death is...well, it is very much there, if not huge!); Buttermere for a gentle stroll and a BIG picnic with friends, a very pleasant day.








We've also, in a non-lakes way, had a day out in Dumfrieshire - who knew how beautiful it would be? We stopped at an RSPB place in the morning (though they've had no rain for the past however long so very few birds, but we did see roe deer...and deer were my very first very favouritest animal so I always get a little overexcited...). In the afternoon we went to Wigtown, Scotland's book town which was fun. Lots of books. I think we came home with eight. One for Husbink's dad for father's day. One comfort read/recipe book by Maya Angelou for me. A Sharpe novel that Husbink has been looking for for...years... and some "research" books for my project. Oh and some others...!









On the way home we stopped at a chambered cairn site which, as well as being quite cool in itself, gave beautiful views across Solway Firth. From this side, you would generally think there was no such thing as beautiful views across the firth so it was rather impressive!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Liiiiiiiight!

Hello there...
So I'm awfully behind on actually writing all the posts that are in my head, particularly the three lakes we've ticked off since the last time I did a lakes post...ho hum.
But the post that wins for today is this...
In New Zealand, you don't get those really, really, really dark winter days that you get here. Even right down south it isn't as dark as most of the UK and certainly not as dark as Leeds was in the run up to Christmas.
The flip side of course is that you don't get those light, light, light evenings that you do here. And since I'm living the furthest north that I ever have it is quite an adjustment.
We haven't had the most amazing weather in the evenings here of late and yet it simply doesn't get dark. It is a little dingy this evening but I know that if I succumb and crawl into bed around 10.30 tonight without waiting for Husbink to get back from cricket, I'll switch the light off and...well, not a whole heap will happen. It'll be shady but the twinkle stars a previous occupant of the room kindly left on the ceiling will be struggling to be more visible than they are during the day.
It is brilliant. I love the long evenings and I'm getting used to the light mornings (it does seem like we only get about three hours of proper dark here at the mo but I'm sure it is a little longer than that...) and not waking up at 4.30am but as yet I don't feel like I'm making the most of it. At this time of year, I always feel the rush of June 21st upon me. I desperately want to make the best use of all this lovely light that we have so that I've got it stored up for December. I always think this will be the year that I decide to see ALL of the longest day, sunrise to sunset...but somehow it always falls on a day when I can't just set the alarm for crazy-o-clock. Next year... :)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Achievement

Today, I have achieved something that I have been aiming towards for a long time...specifically for one year and and thirteen days, vaguely since I was about eight.
I'm sure this kind of achievement deserves celebration and Husbink ought to be taking me out on the town tonight. Unfortunately, he's going to play cricket and then go and do a night shift so I shall be all on my lonesome.
The other "unfortunately" is that the achievement is really just a gateway to another year of hard work. Then probably another.
Still, I thought I should mark the day somehow. :)
And remind myself that I am, one way or another, a useful human being.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Overdue Rant

As I think I mentioned, the other week we spent the weekend with Mad Medea and Husband. It was great. We had a lovely time and it was wonderful to see them after so long. Except. (What follows is a rant fully sanctioned by all those involved.)
On the Saturday, MM made a wonderful picnic and we chose a pretty little Cotswold village to eat it in. A pretty village by the name of Bibury. Bibury boasts the "prettiest row of cottages" in the Cotswolds (or something like that, I can't remember the exact phrasing) according to William Morris in 18-blah-de-blah.
Said cottages are now National Trust land although they do seem to be lived in as well. Bibury also has a river running through it and, according to the map, lots of green space. A wonderful setting for an afternoon of picnicking and perhaps a little strolling to look at all the beautiful places like the Saxon church, St Mary's.
On arrival, we discovered Bibury to be rather...full. This wasn't a huge surprise as it was a very sunny Saturday in the Cotswolds. We were not expecting a place to ourselves. We managed to squeeze the car into a space and set off to find a picnic spot.
It turned out that the large green area was ALL taken over by a trout farm. There was no where to sit without paying £3.50 for the privilege. Given the amount of water and the number of midges that seemed to be about the place, it didn't seem much of a privilege. We walked a little in the hopes of finding some countryside. We failed. We thought we'd just plonk down on any old patch of green but there was only one - and it suffered from the midges. Any bits of land not owned by the trout farm were private property of the big swanky hotel.
We thought in the end that we would go and sit outside the row of beautiful cottages. There was only a small strip of green and there were a lot of people but it was pretty - and much less midgy.
But oh no. Mr I Own Everything appeared and said no! No picnics here! It was National Trust land. There was no sign about the lack of picnicking opportunities. But we were not in the mood for an argument (shortly afterwards, I think we were but we let him away with it!).
There was no where left in Bibury, not a single place to sit - except on a stone wall on the edge of a busy foot path. We decided to move on.
Before doing so though, Bibury added one final nail to its coffin. I went to use the loo. I had to pay. I could only pay with a 20p piece. There was no change machine. I don't mind paying for the loo if it is a nice loo, if I can see why I'm paying for it because it is well maintained etc etc. It wasn't pleasant. It was dark and metallic and ugly and had one of those automated hand washer things. Hands here for soap, here for water, here for air. 1-2-3. I hate them.
So just as a recommendation, when you think you might go to Bibury, don't. Find a nice field with a pretty view instead.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Such a Disappointment

One of the things we (ok, I) really missed while in NZ was the wonderful annual ritual of glitz, glam, sequins, silliness and suspense that is the Eurovision Song Contest.
The year before we went was possibly one of the best ever with Lordi's Hard Rock Hallelujah winning (though our favourite was Lithuania's We Are the Winners for extreme silliness). Even the UK entry that year was pretty comical with Daz Simpson's Teenage Life...
Last night, we watched in great anticipation having heard marvellous things of the Azerbijan rock opera entry and generally expecting the usual level of special entries and fun.
Like pulling teeth. It was so boring. Just pop song after pop song. Thank goodness for Latvia's sense of humour and Spain's...weirdness to brighten the evening.
Anyway, the biggest problem was this whole tactical voting thing. The UK song was actually pretty good this time round. Not being biased. Normally, the UK entrant can't sing, is bland, blah blah blah. Not so yesterday. But did the poor guy get any votes?! Well, one or two, but he came last. Joint last, with Poland.
And it just wasn't funny any more. Yes, we know the Balkans and the Baltics will all vote for each other but it has just become too ridiculous. Knowing exactly who everyone is going to vote for takes any fun out of the competition.
To top it all off, El Tel was firing definite warning shots (as Husbink puts it). If there is no Terry Wogan commentry next year, Eurovision will definitely not be getting my vote.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hijacked by hormones

So today and tomorrow are *my* days. Free days to get jobs done about the house but also do all those other things that I like to do and so on. Can I achieve one single thing? Can I 'eckers like!
My hormones have well and truly put paid to any idea of being a useful human being. Not because I'm in uncontrolable pain and need to just lounge about the house. No, I just can't summon up the emotional wherewithall to do anything but eat chocolate and mope. Oh, yippee.
Diagnosis Murder, tea and blankie here I come.

Rebranding

One of the strange little things I noticed about moving countries (and more about moving this way, coming back to the "familiar"), is the slow persistent seep of rebranding your life.
Gone are the Pam's paracetamol and the Razene anti-histamines, replaced with Tesco and Boots own. We had almost reached the point of being entirely UK-ed on this front and then our shipping arrived. Everything wrapped up neatly in the Hutt News. How we miss the comedy letters pages!
We also have many things in our house that we are only used to seeing in their places in Tyndall Street and they jar each time we look at them.
I know we are starting to be incredibly boring. We talked before we left NZ and agreed that the last thing we wanted to do was become the people who spend all their time saying "In New Zealand...blah blah blah". We agreed that if that was the case after a while, it would be a good indication that our hearts really lay elsewhere.
For the first few months, it was acceptable. We hadn't done much here while waiting for jobs and all the rest of it and so to be able to join in conversations, most of our experience did come from NZ. Now we are both working and generally part of "life" a little more, we have other stories to call on. And yet...
Since everything has come together so well over the last month or so, it has sadly only served to highlight that we'd rather be somewhere else. That isn't to say we aren't enjoying life at the moment. We are having some really good times and it is great to be able to meet up with Mr & Mrs SD "just like that" or visit Mad Medea and Husband for the weekend or...these are all such good and important things. Everything is good here but we'd rather be somewhere else.
I know it is only four and a bit months since we left. I know we have to give it longer (and with Husbink's new job, we are going to be forced to give it longer). I know that this could all change and that in a year or two, NZ will be fond memories but not such a drag on our hearts. Right now though, I just want to get on that plane. I don't want to be church hunting when the church I want to go to is Knox. I don't want to be househunting in Yorkshire when I want to live in Waiwhetu. I don't want to go to Tesco when I'd rather be going to Countdown.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The answer is...

Big News from Summer Holiday...

And I so much am going to spend birthday money on the DVD now!

It's My Birthday And I'll Blog If I Want To

Indeed it is and indeed I do!
I'm having a lovely day (and had a lovely early birthday with Husbink's family yesterday). I feel like a spoilt child.
Today, having woken up very early (which actually doesn't have much to do with being my birthday and a lot to do with having woken up early all week because of the light), Husbink eventually gave in and brought me my presents. There was a selection of books (that I wouldn't have chosen myself, to challenge and expand my reading habits!), a selection of DVDs (thanks to Mad Medea for the suggestion of a particularly silly one...) and a box of my (probably) favourite chocolates - Thorntons Summer Collection. Yum! Thus far I've eaten the one I thought I'd like least and it was melt in the mouth gorgeous.
Despite my continual whinging for the past however long (months and months I think), I had not twigged that Husbink would buy me Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Duh-duh-diddle-de-duh-duh!Double disc version. Original Theatrical Version. (As well as silly additional scenes twentieth anniversary version...) The reason the original is SO important? The Ewok Music at the end of Jedi. None of this crazy pan-pipe, doesn't fit with the action at all silliness. Ahhhhh...
Husbink also got me tickets to see Paul Merton and his Impro Chums in a few weeks. Those of you who know about the bunny slippers/dambusters sketch will be able to imagine just how excited I am. If you don't know about it...well, next time I see you, ask for a re-enactment. Or if I won't be seeing you look on YouTube, maybe it is there. Or maybe you don't care. But it's my birthday. ;)
Husbink's family took me out for dinner last night which was extremely yummy. We stopped at their house on the way back for presents. SiL gave me some lovely bamboo needles and a good knitting reference book. The PiL gave me a sewing machine (that came with many additions - a carry case, a bag of fifty different threads, lots of scissors, gadgety bits...), a mountain biking in the Lakes map and (possibly my favourite present) a packet of spring onion seeds. Favourite present because it showed how attentive they'd been to a few passing comments of mine and that is really special.
My mum is buying part of my present in a few weeks time when they go to Brugges as there is a handbag she wants to buy me (also really special for long winded reasons) but I did receive a really cool present from them today too...a Red Letter Day...at a Falconry centre where I get to handle and fly hawks and falcons and see lots of owls and so on too! A little bit scary but cool too!
My bro rang. Now that we are back here, that doesn't happen so much so was really really cool. They were playing with their new Wii while chatting which was very entertaining.
And then I've just had lots of lovely cards and messages and generally feel loved. Ahhhhhh.
And I've had time to bake and start learning how to use my sewing machine.
All of which has led to a great day but not much of an interesting blog post! Like I said though, it's my birthday....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Big news, big news!

I've tried to blog in the last few weeks, truly I have, but I've lacked vocabulary to achieve it. Still, here I am as I thought an update really was necessary with all the changes that have occurred in the Adventuring household of late.
The first being that we are indeed a household again having moved into our onw place on Saturday. It was all just a touch crazy as Husbink decided to have flu Friday-Monday so mostly I did the moving but there we are with our own roof (and more to the point own kitchen, I have missed cooking!) and everything. It is a short term let as the landlords want to get it back into the student pattern and that suited us fine.
The next bit of news is that I have a job, three days a week in a lovely outdoors shop in town. I had been interviewed about four weeks ago but turned down as the other candidate actually had relevant experience! However, the other candidate then changed their mind. One thing and another meant that I wasn't told this until last Wednesday. I had a wee chat with them on Thursday and I started on Tuesday. Wednesday was an utterly crazy day as I was also offered another job (working for a PCT with a 40 minute commute each way...there were several problems with this job!!). I'd just concluded that I would not get short term work in Carlisle and then two jobs come along, crazy!
The final piece of news is that Husbink has one of these magical mystical training jobs that we'd all but given up on. What's more, it is in Yorkshire (we can't be more specific yet) and so that puts us back nice and near doctor/woman & mr me, Snoo & the Hub and all kinds of other lovely people - as well as just generally being closer to most of the world than we are in Carlisle. Though I will be sad to leave Carlisle and the Lakes so soon. It took me a little bit of getting used to but I'm in the zone now...another fresh start looms!

PS a special prize to anyone who knows what song I'm singing having written that title...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Around Derwent Water...Plus a bit!

(Ellie - I'm really sorry if this makes you home/holidaysick...I'll try to not do too many more Derwent Water posts!)

On Tuesday, Husbink had a day off (they'd made a rota boooooob and he was on many, many days in a row) so we decided to go adventuring.

After some qualms over the weather, we ended up driving to Keswick and making our final decision on which walk once we arrived. It turned out to be a gorgeous day in Keswick (though when we were driving home in the evening we heard that just a few miles up the road from where we live there had been severe snow and hail storms, lots of road chaos and accidents! Mad!) so we felt we could risk a bit of "up" on the walk rather than just walking round Derwent Water.

The walk ended up rather longer than we'd intended (around ten miles) as we did the "up" and the "round".

We went up on the east side of Derwent Water (i.e. not the Cat Bells side for those that know it) but we took a wrong turn and didn't quite make it to the heights we'd intended, we were aiming for High Seat but suddenly realised that we were descending again. The walk up was very steep on a section of path that was made of big higgledy-piggledy stone steps. We were overtaken at the top by a couple at least thirty years older than us and their little dog. They were not even "glowing", we could barely breathe.


The steps passed up the side of a stream with lots of beautiful bits of waterfall. To our right was good sturdy English wood.

At the top we were above the trees, on open fell land with scrubby grasses and the beginnings of streams. We had an amazing view of Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake - all the way to the wind farm in the distance (which my MiL hates...I'm pondering doing a series of photos of how beautiful wind farms can be...). As we stood admiring all this, a HUGE plane appeared beneath us - they often do fighter pilot training round the lakes but this appeared to be a supply plane or similar, it was quite incredible as it appeared out of no where.

The next section of the walk took us a little out of our way and further from the lake than we'd really intended though it did have its rewards - the woods we were walking through were gorgeous - mossy tree trunks, rocky outcrops - and we stumbled upon our second set of falls for the day, all the better for being a little more removed from the beaten track. We also met a mountain lion...well, a fluffy white cat that seemed utterly out of place but extremely friendly!


We eventually made it back to the edge of Derwent Water and decided that seeing as we were already at the southern tip, we might as well make it all the way. The last section was a little bit of a slog as we were getting just a little tired but well worth the sense of achievement to finish the walk.


We caught the ferry back to Keswick from Nichol End (you can't quite get round the top end without going a long way from the lake) and arrived back to the car utterly wiped out but very happy.
I'm not sure if I've said in a previous post, but our aim is to visit every lake in the district this summer. We've been umming and ahhing over what the rules are and what counts as a visit but we are now decided: 1) We have to "do" something substantial there - a driveby or a ten minute stroll does not count 2) we must touch the water - little fingers acceptable!
So Derwent is done. We thought Ullswater was done but having added the "must touch" rule, a return trip is required!

Friday, April 04, 2008

These are a few of my favourite things...

(Because, frankly, I've been in quite a big sulk the last few days. I'm sick to the back teeth of all this stupid unknown crap and ridiculous NHS-controling-our-lives thing. So I thought I'd do some active "happy thoughts"...)

1. My shiny (well, actually, very mat) new walking shoes. They aren't proper boots, just posh trainers. They were reduced from £70 to £20. Best of all? While they are respectable and sensible and navy blue and grey on the outside...on the inside, they're bright red!

2. Elderflower cordial/elderflower presse. Just yum. Makes up for missing lemon, lime & bitters, except it isn't quite as easily available.

3. Knitting. All the time. Husbink's sis is a big knitter now too and is encouraging me to more adventurous things!

4. Home & Away. It makes me happy. I love a bit of melodrama.

5. Baking. As has been the case for quite some time. I do love baking.

6. My new tops. I got home to discover that, on the whole, the clothes I left behind 18 months previously had been left behind for good reason. I don't exactly have cash to throw about the place at the moment but have managed a few new tops of late. They all make me happy.

7. My random voluntary job in the fair trade shop in town. I walked in...and didn't walk out! It keeps me occupied and hopefully if I find some paid employment, I can then do some interesting work for them as they have a resource centre thingy too.

8. My FiL's Micra. I am now insured on this as well as mine & Husbink's car. It is a banger. Literally. There are weird noises... But somehow, I'm really rather taken with it

9. Swingball. Husbink and I played swingball for an hour or so last Sunday. Things went from REALLY BAD to quite ok actually.

10. That Dr Who is back on Saturday night. Admittedly, having just seen the Christmas episode for the first time, I'm a little concerned...it was very silly...but I have faith!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lanty's Tarn & Keldas

I've had a busy, busy week seeing lots of lovely people. Husbink has had a busy, busy week being at work! (Which is going well, he has joined the cricket team :) )



Today, we decided to start on our plan for the next few months and visit every lake in the Lake District. We haven't made any particular rules about this except that driving past in the car doesn't count, we have to do something...


We had been planning a proper big(ish) walk to try out various new bits and pieces but the weather forecast didn't look too promising so we didn't leap out of bed at the crack of dawn to get underway. Instead, we ambled out around 10.30 (when it was still not raining) and drove to Glenridding on the edge of Ullswater (tick number one!).


The walk itself was a good 'un, not too long or too hard but interesting enough and we certainly are feeling the effects of the fresh air (even if we did away all the good effects of the walk with the HUGE hot choc we had when we got down again, it had been raining...)


There were beautiful views of Ullswater and Helvellyn - still with snow above about 500m. We saw a red squirrel just as we were approaching Keldas and on Lanty's tarn there were three goosander (brilliant for the name if nothing else!) and a comedy heron (perching in a pine tree). (Aside: I went with Mrs SD to the RSPB place at Leighton Moss on Thursday (great day, the place but of course more seeing Mrs SD) and saw a spoonbill, lots of shovellers and a crested grebe. You'll all be very relieved to know I didn't have the camera then!)


There were two beautiful becks on the walk, clear bubbling water bouncing its way down to the lake. The deep greens of the mosses along the walk was glorious too, especially against the dull mist of the day.


We did get a little soggy on the second half of the walk as the clouds finally gave way and the weatherman got what he'd predicted but it wasn't so unpleasant as to be a problem - and justified the aforementioned hot choc!




Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I can't think of many things worse...

The best thing about being on a plane? Especially a long haul flight? All that time in which you can just be - watch films, read a book, listen to music, comedy, do puzzles...whatever! The time is yours and yours alone (okay, alone with lots of other people...but they can't steal the time!)
And now? Mobile phone use has been approved by for use on planes in Europe. Yeah, it is a still a long way off and it will take airlines a wee while to get sorted and blah blah blah blah blah and of course I can (and will) continue to switch my phone off on the plane but that isn't going to stop all the other eejits is it?
Why couldn't they just lie (like large sections of hospitals) and say it was all too dangerous and don't do it?!

(Note: It *may* be the case that actually something else really pissed me off before I read the article on this. It *may* be the case that venting over mobile phones on planes is easier than on what has actually bothered me.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Easter


Once again I find myself having written plenty of blogs in my head but none actually on the compooper. Ah well, I fear such is life.

It has been a lovely snowy Easter up here in the wild northern reaches of the UK (and I gather probably a lot more snowy in many other areas). We've woken to a beautifully icing-sugared lawn two out of the last three mornings and the hills (for no longer do any of the peaks in the lake district count as mountains - cue Hugh Grant film...) are lovely and white - some are WHITE others are patchy white, lovely and mottled.

My parents visited over the weekend which was good but tiring.

Today we went out with the ever delightful Snoo and Hub, sampling the delights of Cockermouth, a marvellous tea room (cake, cake, CAKE) and a very bank holiday Keswick. I'd never been to Cockermouth before (though it had always appealed). It is a very pretty little town, in quite a rural, working sort of way. We wandered the main street for a while (enjoying a very good toy shop...I always want lego...and playmobil...stunted childhood?!) before heading out of town to a tea room at a working farm. Fantastic. I was very giddy to be seeing Snoo and Hub and then to see so much cake too...I was a little silly...

We headed to Keswick to achieve a few things but also to go down to the lake and enjoy the snow-topped hills and the sparkling water. Sadly it turns out I wasn't getting on so well with the camera so the pictures really don't do it justice.

Tomorrow, Husbink starts work. Maybe I will hear from the agency too. How much do I not want to!? But doing something would be good...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Supreme Silliness

My dad alerted me to the joys of this particular site and its silliness...enjoy!





There's plenty more where that came from if you click here

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Husbink has a job! No, not one of those big proper jobs with the training and everything that we came back to the UK for but a fourth month, see us through kind of job. A job that is perhaps rather further up the ladder than he'd expected (he applied for one job, got interviewed for a different one, all a bit crazy) so he's chuffed, scared and confused in probably equal measures.
It does not solve many of our current concerns in one sense but it is very good to feel like something is happening and we may not be trapped in the vortex forever.
I may also have a job. I've seen a recruitment agency, they were very positive, but because I don't want to start work until after Easter they currently don't have anything. They expect though that next week they will have something for me to start when I want. Which is all rather good. I think. Much as I may not want to work in an office ever, ever again, doing something will definitely be good for me. Oooh, and I had an hour and a half in an empty house today. It was so good!
So now we can enjoy our weekend in Leeds and our few days in Cambridge without needing to feel any great guilt at being so slack and all. Hurrah!
(Oh and the title? Well, a little unseasonal but so is my FIL's tendency to go around whistling Good King Wenceslas at the moment...)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's all about me!

One of the things which was marvellous about our time in New Zealand (amongst a long list of things) was the amount of time I got to myself on a routine basis.

I am an introvert in the sense that my energy comes from time on my own. I like to be with people. I love meeting new people, sitting down with old friends for big chin wags, the occasional big party... I am very happy standing up in front of large numbers of people and speaking, leading, whatever... But if I don't get time on my own I break.
Husbink's work pattern in NZ meant that I had a lot of time to myself. I knitted. I baked. I read. I prayed. I cleaned. I thought. I wrote. I walked. I pottered. I cycled. I achieved.

I'm now at about the two month mark since we moved out of our house, started that last adventure and found ourselves back in the UK. In those two months, I've snatched an hour here, an hour there...but the cracks are more than beginning to show. Combine the lack of alone time with all the unknowns about the future and the like and I'm beginning to look like one hell of a crazy lady.

I don't like that this is the case. I don't mean I don't like that I'm going slightly mad, that should be obvious enough. What I mean is, I don't like that I have to be this "demanding". Husbink often makes jokes about me being high maintenance. The jokes relate to the whole preening aspect (my last hair cut was 9 months ago...I haven't bought shoes in about a year...my skincare routine is slapdash...) but in this respect, the alone time, the introversion, it is a very true statement. I really, really need it and if I don't get it, all kinds of hysterics ensue.

A few nights ago, we returned to Husbink's parent's after a few days in Scotland for Husbink's interview (we will not hear anything until March 26th at the earliest but it could be mid-end April). I thought the few days away would have boosted my coping ability a bit - I even had an hour and a half to myself while Husbink was at his interview. Instead it seems that that little taster of what I need was too much and I really shut down on return to a house with five people in it...the panic attack was barely below the surface and I really wasn't sure that my body could actually handle it. All I wanted to do, on a cold, wet, windy night, was sit in the garden by myself for hours and hours and hours. I've come out of it a little over the past few days and can hold conversations again. Just.

I feel desperately self-centred for being like this and it feels feeble to realise that one of the reasons I was so happy (and more to the point increasingly healthy (though clearly there were other things at play their too)) in NZ was all this time for me. How selfish can you get?!

I have managed to veer away from the impulse to run home to my mum (who I could then in no uncertain terms tell to leave me alone and only speak to me once a day) but it does feel like a very thin line I'm walking just now.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Keeping On With Whatever

I've tried to blog a few times in the last week. I have one half written post that I hope I'll finish one day but I know that now is really not the time so...here I am, attempting to fill you in, keep you amused, something like that.

Life is a big long waiting game at the moment and I am not good at doing nothing. However, once I start doing nothing the lethargy sets in very fast and I find it hard to do anything...

There have been some good times in the past week or so. Husbink's birthday was good (except that going out by ourselves did allow me to vent more than I can around here and so there was a half hour interlude of floods of tears in a pub...). We saw "Be Kind, Rewind" which was no where near as funny as all reviews had led us to believe but still a pleasant way to pass some time. We also ate a good meal in vaguely comedy circumstances - we moved table three times in the restaurant for one reason and another...

We have seen friends. Two friends from Leeds who are now in Carlisle allowed us to watch the rugby with them (despite them not liking rugby at all, bless them). They also took us to their church the next morning which was good - very interesting use of building (used to be a shop).

We have seen Husbink's best man (in the pub, where else would we see him?). It was very good to chatter with him and Husbink assures me I only cramped their style a little bit. Hopefully he is taking us climbing on Friday which will be very good. As long as we don't disappoint him with our badness. He does caving and the like all over Europe so is a bit good...

Yesterday we spent the day with le welsh and le tart in Manchester (we had to go to Manchester to visit the GMC...they wouldn't believe that Husbink was who he said he was without a visit...but at least it means he can work again). We had a very lovely day wandering and eating and mooching and drinking.

Today we are back to the waiting game. Husbink has an interview on Monday for all of Scotland. That is the only interview so all chance of a job rides on this. We swing from optimism to pessimism to who-gives-an-ism with regular abandon.

Ah well, what can you do?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Home is Where?

When I last returned from an overseas expedition in November 2003, I struggled for some months to establish where home was. Not that I pined for any of the countries specifically that I had spent time in as they had been such brief visits, but having no particular home (and Husbink at that time staying in hospital accom wherever he was based) left me feeling baseless. It was too long since I had lived at my parents for Cambridge to feel like home. Husbink was technically not yet Husbink (in that it was still 7 months until our wedding) so his parents home was definitely not yet a home. Leeds had friends in it but neither of us had an abode there.

After about two weeks, I had a brief time when I suddenly left at home - sitting on the sofa of Mr & Mrs Scouse Dangermouse drinking tea. The next few months were drifty but with an upcoming wedding and the like, it was pretty easy to put roots down and get settled back into the Leeds life.

Now...

My natural instinct is to refer to Hutt as home. Cambridge remains not home, Carlisle (where we currently are) remains not home. And there are no other homes. Again, a visit to the home of Mr & Mrs SD last week and a day with them on Saturday aided the feeling of homeliness, they're good like that. If home is where the heart is, then home is very fragmented indeed. If home is where the Husbink is then I'm doing ok. If home is having a roof over your head, then I know I am blessed to have this, provided by friends and family even if I cannot currently provide my own.

I think though that home is less tangible than any of these things (even being where the heart is, when the heart is so torn) and it will be some time before I find it a comfortable word to use.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Texting

It is strange what is hard when moving countries and the like...

While we were in NZ we had a cell phone. We used it to text our friends and to call people. There is nothing very unusual in this I realise. However, we didn't use it anywhere near as much as I, at least, used to use my mobile in the UK. In NZ, we'd go for days without using the phone and sometimes I'd forget where it was or leave it on silent for days on end an fail to notice messages. In the UK, that would not have happened. And so, in a very strange way, texting people with my new number has been one of the hardest things I've had to do since returning to the UK. Somehow that act of sending out my new number has been the thing that has made this move feel most final.
As neither of us have jobs or any certainty about the future, it is very easy to pretend that we are currently on holiday, seeing our family, catching up with friends, enjoying the novelty of very frosty mornings in the beautiful Lake District. There are few things that ground us in reality. Even buying a car, being something rather alien to us as we have previously done quite well at inheriting, has been rather unreal and certainly ungrounding. Yet the act of texting, of having a number, makes it somehow much more solid, much more like this is really what is happening.
So I've found myself picking up my phone and putting it down again numerous times before managing to text anyone. I've still only made it perhaps a third of the way through my phone book. If that. Weird, huh?
So, yeah, still in denial about leaving New Zealand. Ho hum.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Photo Journalism

At long last, here is the holiday post. My brain is still somewhere else (mostly through having a cold rather than jetlag now but...hmm....yuck...) so this will be a LOT of photos and a few words. Hope you enjoy. :)



Our first campsite was not too many hours from home but just far enough to know we were on holiday. And it came with a swing and a lake view. Good-o.


The journey the next day took us past Mt Ruapehu. Always good to see.


We made our way to Waitomo where we saw caves, gloworms and giant angora bunnies. Good times.


Raglan is a chilled out surfing town with artsy fartsy bits on the side. And beautiful sunsets.


We made our way to Northland and set up camp in Paihia for five nights. We had beautiful weather for a few days in which we swanned about and didn't manage much. Then just as we felt like really exploring, the weather turned against us. We made it out to Urupukapuka island for a day trip and walked pretty much the coastline of the island. sandy beaches one side, big cliffs t'other. Oyster catchers too. We also managed to visit Treaty House at Waitangi, the site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - the starting point for modern New Zealand and Maori/Pakeha relations. The butterfly kept me entertained while Husbink spent double the time in the museum as I did. This is normal.








We moved on from Paihia and went further north staying in Kaitaia for a few days so that we could do a tour of the far north, taking in Cape Reinga with its lighthouse, the meeting of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, sand dune tobogganing, and Ninety Mile Beach (really it is more like 90km but who is complaining? It's a beach that is also a state highway, what more do you want?)

We made our way down the west coast of Northland. It was beautiful. Hokianga Harbour and around was gorgeous. We also saw the giant Kauri trees. Not as tall as Californian redwoods but they go straight up, no tapering so they are just this huge, huge mass. You can just see me at the bottom of the picture to give perspective.

Heading down the country again, we stopped at Parachute festival for a day to meet up with lots of friends and see our friend Kez perform. He was great.


We made our way further south and visited the site of Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings. We didn't do the tours, just stopped for a coffee and a few photos. Driving round the whole area looked so much like The Shire. Which led to a lot of "ssssssshhhhhiiiiiiire" and "bagginsssssssssssss" mutterings from both of us.


And that was that. Our final jaunt done and dusted. It was a good one. More relaxed than sometimes. As beautiful as ever.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Back

That's about as far as my brain can get at the moment. I have many things I'd like to post about (not least the holiday photos that haven't made it up yet) but they will have to wait one more day at least...
Journeys were all as good as they could be really and I did get some sleep on the last flight but having brought home a cold from Singapore to add to the jetlag I feel rather rotten. But ok too. It was rather a shock to arrive. With all that was going on leaving a country and getting everything home and all the rest of it I had rather failed to understand that we were actually going to arrive. I realise this makes little sense, not many of the things I have thought or felt over the last week or so have really made sense but I have reached the point of just accepting all that I feel and not attempting to analyse or process - at least not yet. I suspect (being me) that analysis will flow very readily once the time comes...
(A quick aside for those who might be tempted to make contact now we are back - both our mobiles are deceased having not been topped up for over a year. I'm sure we'll come up with a solution but it won't be for a while.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just a quick 'un

There is a huge amount to say, not least all the holidaying and subsequent photo parade but also all the emotions and thoughts and...
However, that will all have to wait as I have neither the time nor the brain to really do any of it justice right now. Once back in England, cold and unemployed, I should get a few more posts out there!
For now, it will have to suffice to say that we had a marvellous holiday (only slightly blighted by cyclone Funa) and it is good to be back in the Hutt. We've managed to get most jobs sorted now and will hopefully be able to enjoy our last few days.
I'm utterly exhausted at the moment and probably need about three weeks sleep but that isn't going to happen quite yet!
This afternoon we are embarking on a final Wellington adventure - going to the Rugby 7s. Very excited, or I would be if I were a little more awake, though not sure our costumes (morris dancers) are quite up to scratch...
Hope all is well with all of you. More soon ;)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Relaxing?

So, here we are, 48 hours (and a bit) since leaving our house and the Hutt for our final NZ adventure.
We haven't quite worked out being relaxed yet. Husbink has (until about twenty minutes ago) been having to sort out the whole applications nightmare. This involved several hours at church (using their printer, scanner, internet...) before leaving home, more phone calls to Husbink's parents in the last week than in the previous six months, various times of being on the internet when we should be enjoying the country and a general sense of not having quite managed to chill out yet.
Anyway. It is done now. Five applications. Five deaneries. Five possible jobs. We shall see. And now, we can start thinking about this holiday of ours.
We spent a chilly night in Wanganui (we picked a picturesque but stooopid place to pitch our tent - lovely lake views...wind tunnel!) on Thursday which got us a few hours from home. Friday we made our way to Waitomo which is where we are now. You are meant to do all kinds of crazy activities in Waitomo, based around the various caves and the like. You are meant to abseil and climb and cave and black water raft and and and. We have not and are not going to. Which is kind of a shame - Husbink couldn't do it because of the injured foot (not sure if I've mentioned that at all) but even if he had been able to, I'm not sure I had the oooooooomph for it.
Instead, we are taking the easy route. This morning we went to a cave and looked at stalactites and stalagmites and say oooh a lot, as you are meant to. We also did a wee bush walk that was also very "ooh".
This afternoon, we go to discover the glowworms in their cave and then, after that, we shall try to see some in the bush tonight once it has gotten dark enough. All good stuff.
Hopefully, we shall also find some calm in the next few hours. And start to realise that we are on holiday. And that life is indeed good.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And so it happens

We have entered the time of farewells, of final things, of frantic activity.

Yesterday afternoon we went to Husbink's work as they had organised a farewell tea for him. It was lovely to hear some of the things his colleagues had to say about him and to see how highly they valued him and how much they will miss him. He would never, ever, ever blow his own trumpet so I thought I should do a little bit for him.

In the evening, various friends came over for some "legal looting" and took away lots of our food and little bits and pieces. Which was fun. :) Husbink was a great auctioneer - considering that everything was going away free!

This morning, the Salvation Army came and took most of our furniture away. We are now waiting on the washing machine man. Tonight, some friends are coming and taking the last of our possessions. Tomorrow, we will leave a few boxes with friends and head off on our last kiwi adventure.

There have been tears already and I know there are heaps more to come. I'm looking forward to the adventure (of course) and know that it will help prepare me for the final departure in just under a month's time.

It is difficult to comprehend going home when we have no concrete plans to return to. Husbink has so far managed four applications for those big nasty jobs that don't start until August anyway... Our internet connection gets switched off this time tomorrow. The applications have to be in at the weekend so this is his last chance pretty much. Hopefully he'll get to six applications and then we simply have to wait and see. Wait and see.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Feeling Helpless - Again

I've been wanting to post this for a few days but the website in question was down and I didn't want to post until the link would work...

So, as you may recall, Husbink and I watched Hotel Rwanda a little while ago and were overwhelmed by the sense of helplessness and shame that it brought on. Most significantly, we both said "surely if this happened, and we knew, we'd do something..."

And so this week we found ourselves sitting down and saying "this is awfully close to happening again, what are we going to do?"

The story that grabbed our attention and made us think this and discuss this was of course Kenya. As the number of stories increased and the nature of those stories worsened from the initial "a few killed in protests" kind of stories to the "church burnt down as people took refuge, over half those dead were children" kind of stories, we felt we had to try to do something.

Following my fling with Burma (I try to keep up with developments - or the lack there of - but as predicted at the time, it is hard), I am on the mailing list for www.avaaz.org and they tend to be pretty good at telling me what I should be doing about any given conflict. I couldn't find anything on their website but the next day they sent out this link and offered advice on how to help.

At this point, that advice is to write to your foreign minister (the link makes this very easy for you, only a very few clicks of buttons) urging them to avoid recognising the newly "elected" government in Kenya until an independent review has been carried out. Premature recognition of the government would make it much harder for a new election to be held and the situation defused.

It doesn't feel like much at all but perhaps it is what is needed at this point?!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Keeping Going

Ugh.
I'm packing. I'm packing four different ways - what we are leaving behind/giving away; what we are shipping home; what we are taking on holiday; what we are taking home but not taking on holiday (basically read BIG JUMPERS there)...
We have six days left in the house (if you count today and the day we leave).
As well as the packing, sorting and cleaning required for leaving the house, Husbink has to apply for those pesky proper jobs that don't start until August within the next week. Hoo-bloody-rah.
I didn't sleep last night. This was mainly due to not being able to get comfy because of my tetanus injection the other day. Once I couldn't sleep though, of course my brain did not shut down. Not a jot of it. I wasn't particularly worried about anything or stressing, I simply couldn't stop thinking. Some of it was only about Harry Potter... The lack of sleep wasn't aided by the bit when I did get some decent sleep (between about 4am and 6am) being woken up by our crazy neighbours who do their washing at 4am and hang it out sometime between 5.30am and 6.30am. It was about 5.45am this morning. They are (it seems) both deaf and shout a lot. But that is ok. What is not ok is their clothes line. It is a whirlygig as I'd call it and it squeaks. A lot. And this morning they seemed to be playing some kind of game that involved spinning it. Oh what fun.
So anyway, by the time I got up, I was not in a great frame of mind. Husbink managed to soothe me for a while but then had to go to work at 10.30. The soothing lasted quite well but I now seem to have lost it again.
In some ways, the problem is that I can't quite finish anything - we still need most of our kitchen stuff, there are clothes still hanging on the line, we are still using our bed (and thus bedding)...So I have many half full boxes that I can't do anything with.
I'm stuck at home waiting for someone who has bought a heater off me on trademe to get in touch. I feel guilty that I'm not at our friends house helping them build a fence but kind of figure that I have enough jobs of my own on today. But have convinced myself they don't see it that way.
BLEUGH.
Going to eat muffins.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What a difference a year makes?

This year, I have been closer to actual resolutions than for a long time. For all of about ten minutes, there were a few well formed, snappy sentences in my head that could have been set down as resolutions rather than long-winded thoughts expressing a basic idea. They went (the well formed sentences) and don't seem to be interested in returning so, as you can already see, I'm back to my more usual evaluation of the year and vague ideas of things to change in the future.



I thought I'd read the post from a year ago before starting and frankly, with a few small changes, I could just re-post it. Before looking at it, I was even considering using what turned out to be the title of last year's post...



2007 was great. Up there as one of the best years of my life and certainly the best year of our life. There were some lower points (the stress of visas and the mad landlady and trying to find to this house and all that should not be swept aside as if everything was peachy all the time). It was not a perfect year (had it been, the only thing to do would be some kind of Thelma & Louise driving off "into the sunset" because if you've had the perfect year, where do you go next?). It was, however a very good year.



A few significant things of 2007...


  • Holidays with parents and with the Scouse Dangermice. Both times were excellent breaks, more enjoyment of this beautiful country and great time with special people.

  • The decision to stay on in NZ for this extra was a pretty big one, you might say! We ummed and ahhed and here we are. I would not change that decision for anything. I miss people of course but staying on has allowed a number of things to happen, not least the next point.

  • The surgery. For me, this has actually become a highlight of the year. Yes, it was not fun. The prep beforehand was horrid, the pain after was unpleasant (but not dreadful) and I have some slightly peculiar scars now. Overall though, the positive is by far the winner. I am still reaping the benefits of the surgery (I can eat all kinds of things again, my periods are heading towards "normal", I have a lot more energy). On top of that, the enforced time out was very, very good for me. I'm not keen to have that surgery again of course but it was a good thing.

  • Being able to spend some quality time with my brother both here and in Sydney - and we even have one more trip lined up to see him and his wife on the way home. Very good.

  • Speaking at the Women's Retreat for church. It was a new experience to do a couple of connected talks rather than just a stand alone talk. It was also a great time with people of that I knew or didn't know so well.

  • Finally for this bullet pointy section, the consolidation of our friendships here. We have gone from being a novelty (and thus invited to lots of things) through a slightly dry patch to being normal and having proper friendships. Some of our friends have been planning their OE (Overseas Experience as they call years out/travelling here) for a while now and it means we know that they will come to see us (wherever we are) in August or September.

So where does it all leave me for 2008? My aim for 2007 (as it also was for 2006, but in a slightly different way) was to "have more fun". As I said at the time, this did not mean being self-centred and uncaring but instead living in the moment, appreciating all the blessing that I have, being available for people, making the most of opportunities and above all, not worrying and stressing my life away.


I've made progress on this front. I have taken many experiences by the scruff of the neck and done the best with them that I can. I have become a calmer, less worried person. But there is still a lot of work to do! I went into meltdown on Saturday over the whole jobs when we get home thing. I need to reach a point where I don't do that. Yes, I can justify it, it is a pretty big thing on the horizon and all that but it is not the way to live. If I believe God has a plan for my (and our) life (lives), worrying and fretting and stressing is not the right way to behave. I do believe that, but I have to remind myself day in day out that it is out of my control but that is ok. I know when I have gone too far from being organised and getting things done and making it possible for God's plan to come into action to trying to control that plan and allow the stress in - I get sick. Within 24 hours, my body gives up a bit (in reasonably spectacular fashion sometimes) and I know the stress was the cause. It's a pretty clear (and not very fun) indicator of where my stress levels are. The fact that I can say when it has happened over the past while is a sign that it is not as rife as it was a year or two ago when it would have been far more frequent and harder to count. By this time next year, I'd like to not be able to remember when the last meltdown was.


There are other hopes that I have for the next year, hopes that I will remember everything I've learnt and worked out while I've been here. That I will hold firm to my faith. That good intentions started now will continue in changed circumstances.


It's been a good year; it could be an even better year.