Hi there, this is Lachlan speaking. I’ve been doing lots of sport. First of all I did a swimming sports day at the Victoria Street Municipal Pools. It was the school inter-house competition where I had great fun and I came 5th in my race in Breastroke! I also competed in the school sports Day on Monday at Porritt Stadium. I came 2nd in my 80m hurdles race and 2nd in my 2000m steeplechase. I had a good time because I like doing sport, I was with all my mates and it was a great atmosphere and there was a water jump in the steeplechase. I also entered the javelin, long jump & 100m sprint, I was going to enter the 300m hurdles but the bus didn’t get there in time so I missed it. This week and last week I went to Hamilton Hawks Athletic club which is at Porritt Stadium. I have learnt how to use starting blocks and today I did a 2,000m run in 9 minutes.
Spent another Saturday searching for a car. Not our favourite activity at all 😦
Anne had gone round some yards during the week and had found one with a reasonable selection of stuff and a guy running it who seemed OK (well for a car salesman anyway!)
The problem when there is a wide choice is it makes it harder to choose – bit of a paradox really! We had gone with the intention of driving some Mazda MPVs and Honda Odysseys and had done a fair bit of online research as to what years etc to go for. After climbing through various ones, sitting in seats, working how the back seats rearranged themselves, we ended up taking out a Toyota Estima! Fortunately we had also researched this, just hadn’t come across any on our previous weeks foray round the yards. The Estima seemed to have more room all round and a reasonable seating arrangement.
Like lots of the car yards, this one had two other sites within 2 or 3 miles (there are lots of car yards in Hamilton) so we went for a drive over to one of them to see what else might be available. We weren’t too happy with the Estima as it seemed to pull to the side a bit and was a bit ‘used’ inside. At the second yard, however, was another Estima, slightly different model, slightly older but $2000 cheaper. Decided to take that for a spin to compare with the one that we had just driven. This second one was much better, no pulling, tidy inside, even has electric curtains!!
Had a good drive about in this and by the end were happy to sign the dotted line. Most second hand cars go in for an AA service before purchase so ours was booked in for Monday. Main note from the examiner was that the air conditioner fan was a bit noisy! This was at the end of Monday when the guy from the yard phoned up. He arranged to come and pick Anne up on Tuesday morning (today), took her to the bank to get a cheque and then to pick the car up. It’s now sitting in the drive so Hooray! we can drive off somewhere this weekend.
Well, we have been here nearly a month now and life is starting to settle into a sort of routine. Lachlan has got involved at school – he has gone to represent his house at swimming today at the Municipal pool in Hamilton. Went on the bus on his own this morning and he’ll roll up home whenever! Paperwork seems to be just about non-existent here as far as school trips are concerned – he came home the other day saying he needed $3 for the bus to go to the swimming pool, no forms to fill in, medical details etc, he then forgot to take the money with him so couldn’t go on the school bus so just went on the service bus (which was cheaper anyway!)
Aonghas is still a bit wobbly but has made a friend called Hong who is coming to play tomorrow evening after school, so he is feeling a bit more confident. He is going to play cricket in the school cricket league on Friday and yours truly volunteered to be the team manager as there was nobody else! Well. it’s a good way to get to know people and I was assured that I really wouldn’t have to do much! Both boys went to athletics training at Hamilton Hawks last Thursday, Lachlan is going to go to the senior session next Wednesday as the junior one was a bit tame for him but they had some fun anyway. We ended up walking home as there was a 20 minute wait for the bus into town and then we would have had to wait another half an hour for the bus out again to our house. I looked at the map and persuaded the boys that we could walk the 5km quicker! We did – just! The bus went past our house as we walked in the door!
Walking gave us a chance to get our bearings a bit and one section took us through Hamilton Gardens which are beautiful. We had a day out there last Sunday as it is within walking distance of the house and there are no buses on Sundays. The grounds are beautifully laid out with different styles of garden going off from a central courtyard.
Each garden leads round labyrinth-wise back to the courtyard and then you can go into the next. Each has its own particular atmosphere and despite there being a lot of folk around there was a sense of serenity and calm in the Japanese and Chinese gardens.
The Indian Char Bagh garden reminded me of the Alhambra in Granada – the colours were just amazing and a host of butterflies flitted their way through the flowers, there were little corners to sit and just drink in the fragrances and you could almost believe you were in another world.
Walking through to the Italian Renaissance garden with its fountains and columns the brilliant blue of the sky contrasted with the white and terracotta of the walls and the smell of the herbs in the carefully laid out flowerbeds was lovely.
Contrast that with the modernity of the American contemporary garden with a welcome paddling pool for the children and the clean cut shapes of the sculptures and a huge mural depicting Marilyn Monroe. Deckchairs to recline on and we spent a good half hour there as the children cooled off in the pool.
A celebration of garden styles wouldn’t be complete without an English country garden and sure enough there it was, lawns immaculate with sight lines through to a fountain and the summerhouse. Holly hocks and roses filled the borders and shady bowers to shelter from the sun. We used to love going to the Botanics in Edinburgh, there is plenty more to see at the Hamilton Gardens and I am sure we will go back soon.
This weekend saw us trailing round car showrooms looking for some wheels, we test drove a couple but just like in GB buying a car is fraught with complications and worries. It is one of our least favourite things to do but we really do need a car! Which dealer to go to? What sort of car? A small one to tide us over until we have a bit more money but which may not big enough to get the camping stuff in or a bigger, more expensive one that we may not be able to afford to run?! We then spent the rest of the weekend on the internet checking out the makes of car we had seen to compare performance, cost etc. We still don’t know! Perhaps we should just go for the first one we see at the right price and a nice colour!
To make us feel better and as a treat for the boys as they had (quite) patiently put up with trailing round car places, we found a lovely little Italian restaurant in a tucked away alley and ate Italian. It turned out to be a real gem and we will definitely go back there sometime! It was rather an indulgence as Nigel still hasn’t been paid (some cock up in the finance department) and the bank have given us a short term overdraft to see us through this week!
Well the weather has changed a bit – still quite warm but there has been a bit of welcome rain and the wind has picked up which means the pool keeps filling with leaves – more work for me! What a shame! The boys continue to enjoy jumping in the pool and having great fun though Lachlan has taken to putting his wetsuit on now as he gets cold easily! (Aw, Bless!) The Uni pool is really good – 50 metres so it feels like an age to get from one end to the other! It is unheated so it is a bit of a shock diving in but once you get going it is fine. It’s the pool that Lachlan goes to with school for lessons – he came home after his first lesson to say that they had to run up there in bare feet (about a mile) with their togs under their PE kit, they then had a swimming lesson and ran back to school. No towel, no shoes, no forms to fill in, simple! Just about to head up there now as I plan to try to get fit! It will only be open until the end of March so need to put my time in now. There is a swim in the river called the 5 Bridges swim which I fancy doing – it is about 5km long but downstream – we’ll see what happens!
No more news for now, keep you posted!
PS. Lachlan won his heat in the Breaststroke and then came 5th in the final, he thinks his relay team came 2nd but isn’t sure! He is quite amazed by the fact that he is still in the “Green” team – he started in St Mary’s in Green, then into QES and now in NZ! His house is called Kikoriki.
PPS. Started my training regime with a run up to the pool and then 1000 metre swim. Think I might ache tonight!
Yesterday the boys and I went to see the ODI between England and the Black Caps (Nigel stayed at home as he is a Scotsman and good Scotsmen don’t do cricket!!). We set off on the bus after the boys finished school hoping to get the second half of the match but it had rained properly for the first time we got here, and as we approached the ground people were leaving in their droves! Typical! We come all the way to NZ to see a cricket international and it gets rained off!
But in true Brit style we sat there and watched the groundstaff working on the rain sodden pitch and the sun started to shine. The PA system boomed out all the weather related music it could find – “It’s raining men…”, “Mr Blue sky”, “4 seasons in one day”, “Here comes the sun”, and so on – you can imagine the rest! Play reccommenced at 6pm with England on 85-2 so things looked promising but in true English style 3 wickets fell in very quick succession and England were on the back foot, the Black Caps were merciless and England were soon all out for 158.
Aonghas by this time had bought a Black Caps flag and was waving it as each wicket fell! Lachlan bumped into two of his new found school friends – another Lachlan and Abraham. Abraham was sporting a daft England hat as his Dad is English but he soon changed allegiance to the winning side too!
At the interval there was a display of cricket from the Kiwi Kids cricket schools – loads of Primary aged kids playing which was great to see. Aonghas has signed up to play at school now so we’ll see how he gets on. When play resumed we were treated to a magnificent display of batting from the Black Caps and the banter in the crowd increased between the English and NZ supporters, all good natured but by now quite drunken! More opportunities for flag waving for Aonghas. He was amazed by the vociferous group of young men sporting a variety of fancy dress who heckled every English supporter who went past them! He was particularly worried about the young man who, sporting a rather fetching dress and wig of long flowing locks, made a frighteningly good go at being a woman!!
The inevitable happened at around 9pm – a bit earlier than scheduled – when the Black Caps made the run target of 164 with the loss of no wickets in 19 overs! I haven’t been to many cricket grounds but Hamilton seems a very pleasant place – mostly grass banking so everyone sits down with picnics etc and with the sun shining it made a great evening’s entertainment.
Back to school this morning though and we had to wake two rather tired boys! It is Aonghas’ turn now to have a little crisis of confidence. He was so eager to start school and is enjoying the daily swimming lessons and playing in the brilliant play parks every interval (break) but has realised that he doesn’t have all his friends, and is finding it difficult when the others go off and play in their ready made friendship groups. However, the other boys all seem very kind and are good at asking him to play so I think it will be just a matter of time before he forges some new friendships.
We are now starting to get to grips with the money a bit more and learning to compare NZ prices with each other rather than converting to pounds all the time to compare prices between the UK and here. Looking now to buy a car so we can get further afield at the weekends since there are no buses on a Sunday! Still no news on our house sale so if you know anyone out there who wants a nice house in Ingleton…..!
I am still washing all our clothes by hand as our washing machine is still in a container somewhere on the ocean (hopefully still in a ship!) which gives me something to do during the day apart from writing this, dipping in the pool and reading! The library is a five minute walk up the road so that’s really handy. The sound of the cicadas outside is constant and puts me in mind of mediterranean holidays. There is an amazing array of insects too – loads of grasshoppers, some big black/brown beetle type things about 3 cm long, praying mantis, moths, little green bugs, little bright yellow bugs, spotted shiny bugs and lots of spiders with really long legs. We hear a shriek from Aonghas about once every 10 minutes “Mum, come and look at this….aaaagghh!” He is coming to terms with them but we have to do a bedcheck every night before he will go to sleep! I think I’ll have to get a book from the library to find out what they all are.
Today I cycled in the Weet-Bix Tryathlon with Jamie and Mitchell. Mitchell swam and Jamie did the run. We had to get up very early and cycle to the University where we met Jamie and Mitchell. At first it was a bit scary and I didn’t really know what I was doing! There were loads of bikes and I had to wait for Mitchell to tag me after his swim before I could set off. To start off with I couldn’t find my bike but I felt good once I got on my bike and started cycling but then the two people in front of me crashed into each other and I crashed into them! I fell on the grass but I got up and carried on.
There was a steep hill and I had to get off and push then I got on again and there was another hill – I cycled up it for a bit and when it got too steep I had to get off and push again! When I came into the finish area there was lots of noise and people were cheering the person in front of me but I went faster and overtook them.
We waited for Jamie to finish his run and then I ran with him to the finish line and had a team photo with Jamie and Mitchell.
It was good fun and I would like to do it again next year but hopefully it won’t rain next year! (It only rained a little bit and was still really warm – Mum!!) Breadhead and Harold the Giraffe were really funny and danced. My number in the Triathlon is 1126C and when they were giving away a bike as a spot prize they said 1127C – I nearly won!!
Monday 4th brought reality to Lachlan and Nigel when we had to start school and work. Lachlan went off a little nervously as he really had no idea what to expect unlike when he started QES which he had been familiar with since he was born! He came home smiling though so it can’t have been all bad. In typical uncommunicative teenage boy fashion getting any real information from him was like getting blood from a stone! Aonghas and I had a leisurely day at home – it was too hot to o anything else! We walked to the library to get signed on there and check or e-mails and then went to register with the doctor and dentist – all in one place with the chemist, physiotherapist, homeopath etc so really handy. Everyone is really helpful and very pleasant.
The University campus is pretty neat with tree ferns here and there and Maori carvings fronting some of the buildings. Starting a new job is always a bit of an anti-climax I’ve found as you have this great expectation but then can’t actually do any real work as you are too busy finding out about how the place runs, what the systems are, meeting people, finding out where to have lunch, where the loos are, etc, etc. The folks that I’m working with are really cool though and a week in, I think I’m starting to find my feet. Also found that there seems to be a delayed jet lag – by the middle of the afternoon I could happily fall asleep at my desk.
Our landlords – Colin and Judith – asked us round to their house for a barbecue on Friday evening. Not often that your landlord will loan you their car and invite you round for food! Kids were impressed as they could watch the telly! That’s a luxury that they are learning to do without at the moment.
On the Saturday we had a lazy day at the house then Liz – our relocation consultant – picked us up go for a bbq at her house. Liz has been excellent in everything that she has helped us with and has gone way beyond what her employer would expect her to do – thanks Liz!
Liz and Chas moved to NZ about 4 years ago from the UK so had lots of helpful hints about the transition. Liz has 2 boys, the eldest is Gus’s age. All 4 had a great time in their pool while we lazed about keeping refreshed on NZ white and Mac’s best bitter.