Friday, August 31, 2007

Things that happen when you try to go to sleep

I went to bed last night. Rivetting information, I realise. But just wait....

15 minutes after I fell asleep, David woke me to tell me the power was off, and nothing he did made it come on again. It kept tripping. So I got up. Got glasses. No. Nothing I did made it come on again either. I had visions of defrosting food and all the rest. Not to mention expensive electricians. If I believed in ghosts, I would believe Geoff was trying to tell me something. Electricity was his department.


In a HIGHLY intelligent fashion, I started going through the switchboard and tried to isolate where the problem was. See? I am bright. And finally isolated the kitchen switches. I unplugged everything I could reach. No luck. Then I decided it must be the fridge. Hmmmm. Got dressed. After 1am is not a good time to start moving refrigerators. In a gown. This necessitated moving the table and 8 chairs first, of course. David and I managed eventually to shift the wretched thing out, and I switched off the plug. No. Not that. Repeat the same procedure with the dishwasher.... (do you KNOW how disgusting the floor is under large appliances??) No. Not that either. Desperation was starting to set in, not to mention shortness of temper, and irritation levels were slightly, just slightly, elevated.

And then I remembered the ONLY other plug in the room, which was for the outside cable to the shed and water fountain. In the back of my cupboard. Plastic whatsits were flying everywhere, and voila!!!!!! The power came back on as soon as I switched it off.

I have no idea what caused it to blow. I retreated to bed, and lay there till about 3am thinking I could hear enormous rodents the size of lions eating their way through the power cable. I have always had a good imagination. I hope they were electrocuted in a grisly fashion. Then I heard an owl and it did. not. stop. hooting. My imagination was on a roll. It sounded like mournful wailing. Then there was a crashing sort of noise, so I was out of bed and down the stairs like an Olympic sprinter. All the outside lights went on. Nothing. Back to bed. The moonlight seemed very bright. Then the wind got up, and the door started creaking. You get the picture.

This is all conducive to a good night's sleep of course. I am rested and full of energy this morning. Hah. And I do NOT want to go and empty that shed and see what caused the blackout. Being an ostrich is just fine. I think I am going to go our for tea with a friend instead.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Potato Harvest

Now please remember that I have never grown vegetables before. I am allowed to become unreasonably excited. JUST LOOK AT WHAT I DUG UP! And washed. Then cooked and ate for supper. POTATOES!!! Edible food!
This is about one third of what David and I dug out of the allotment ground this afternoon. I gave the rest away. It was really quite amusing. Well, for my son. He said to me with a faint suggestion of exasperation, ..... "Are you going to squeak OOh look! Potatoes! EVERY time I turn over the soil?" Of couse I was. And so I did. And we have many many more rows of the things to dig up. Harvest. What on earth possessed me to plant so many?
And this is what happens to courgettes when you go away and are not there to pick them when they are small and courgette sized. (Zucchini). They grow into marrows. Yes, Isabelle, you were right. My friend picked 2 enormous carrier bags full of them last week, and is now known as the marrow lady as she dished them out to half the village. Apparently they are very good in savoury muffins.

It doesn't take much to excite me these days.

Mind like a washing machine

There are stages in all our lives, aren't there.... different stages, and they go in phases which are diametrically opposite in a way. Summer has been like that for me. The stress of work and deciding to resign, the relief of the summer holidays starting, the wonderful opportunity to forget everything and go and visit Diana, and now the return home.

The worry about how David will have done in his exams, the relief of finding out yesterday that he had passed, and even though there is room for improvement, the delight in knowing that his last year at school is here. Now I have this wall in front of me, and I cannot avoid it. I need to find another job of some kind as soon as possible, and I have the inquest on the 10th October to look forward to, and the lawsuit pending after that, with lawyers to brief and decisions to make. As we go into longer nights and colder greyer days. Timing could be better.

Do not think that I am descending into the depths here, I am not... but it is roller-coaster time in my life. Up one day and down the next. Normal life is resumed, after 3 weeks of riding on the highest crest. It takes some adjusting. On our last day in NZ, Diana and I watched surfers riding huge waves. Wearing crash helmets, because they were really close to rocks. I think I might need a crash helmet too. We have visits to different universities to fit in, and David will be making decisions about his future as well. A year from now, my life will be totally different yet again.

I don't mind change. I don't mind trying new things. I like to meet challenges. I am changing so quickly, and the dreams are still intact. Thank God. It is the speed of it all that is sometimes a little hard to cope with.

I have been reading some blogs, and some very interesting subjects have been discussed. Morning Glory's Woman to Woman discussion this week is on the topic of learning to say no. I could (and probably should) have written an epic post all about my experiences there. I am a self-confessed "don't know how to say no" expert. I have been getting better at saying no, but I think that a great deal of who I am.... MY idea of my identity... has come from being the one who does not say no, and who tries to fix things.

For years and years, if someone called me with a crisis, it has never mattered about what I had planned to be doing, I have dropped everything and gone to help. I have cancelled a great many things when I have been needed. Now I know this sounds very noble and self righteous, but there are times when I think back, and wonder if I made the right decisions then. Whether my help simply enabled someone else to avoid confronting the demons they needed to confront. Whether it was more important for me to be the one who was helping than for the recipient to be helped. I don't know, and I probably never will.

When I had to start working full time, people stopped asking me to do a lot of the things I had spent all my adult life doing, and I missed that. It was like losing part of me. The biggest part, in fact, apart from being the mother of my children. And you know what? It added such diversity to my life too. It made it interesting. I am a people person. I like people. (And you will NOT believe this.... Someone has just this minute called me and asked me to do something, and what did I say? Of course. I will be there at 10. Give me strength.)

Where was I? I am going to need to edit this later. People. I like people. They seem to like me. But I have run out of time to do all the things I really love doing, like being creative. I need to do an complete course in time management. I am a textile artist at heart. I love making mixed media textile things. I bought some beautiful pieces of NZ fabric while I was there.... very small pieces, admittedly, but I have to make a memory quilt of the special time we all had together. Heaven knows when or if there will ever be another time quite like that. And scrapbooking too. I want to finally get round to doing all the pages I have in mind. That could take about, oh let me see, 30 years or so. I want to read, and I want to just be still for a while.

This post makes little sense, but it is a window on my mind right now. Mixed up and churning like a washing machine. Bits flying off here and there. Randomness at its best. I want to be walking in the mountains of Switzerland. I want to be planning Christmas somewhere. I want to be doing some woodwork. I need to be making or planning to make my Christmas presents too. I need to sort some kind of computer solution out for this house. We have one computer at the moment, and it is not new. It is refusing to write to any kind of CD disc, and I need it to write things, like my photos so I can send them to my sister (all 3000 of them) , or get them printed (no, definitely NOT all 3000!). Snarl.

Real life? I am back. The frustrations and irritations and yes, also the delights and wonders too. My life is still a good life. I realise just how blessed I am, and I never take that for granted. The sun is shining at the moment. All is ok. There are potatoes to go and dig up at the allotment, and things to do.

Reading this, there is a lot of I want and I need there. Not good. But in a sense, I think that is what it is all about. I put off what I want or need to do and then justify it by saying I was busy "helping" or "doing something" for someone else. Hmmmmm. I think I need someone to actually tell me that it is ok to put yourself first now and then, and do something for yourself, without feeling guilty about it. So many years of conditioning are hard to break. As mothers, we are used to coming last in the chain. I clearly need to work on this.

And now I am off to go and help that someone who called. I am a lost cause. But I will start planning that NZ quilt this afternoon. Or tonight. After I have dug the potatoes, visited a friend, made some calls re work, fixed things.......

I promise.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Taming the jungle

My garden closely resembled a scene from Jungle Book this morning. I am happy to report that it is now on the way to being tamed. I have had a close encounter with stinging nettle too. Not very clever at all, and my garden bin is now full. How on earth is it possible for everything to grow so fast? Like weeds? And the jasmine went beserk and tried to throttle 4 rose bushes. The lavatera completely obscured my garden seat, and the clematis decided that it would meander through my beds, instead of climbing the shed. Sigh. And did I mention the fushcia which thinks it is a tree? And the apples which are falling off the branches? The branches which are so heavy that they point down to the ground, thereby forming a barrier to the raised patio?

The squirrels have unearthed every bulb I had, and I ended up with my dustpan and brush on hands and knees trying to clean the patio. And I have not dared to go and look at the allotment yet. Apparently the courgettes are now marrows. My hanging baskets have passed the point of no return, and I think every snail in the area had a lovely summer holiday in my garden. Remind me this autumn that I really MUST dig up everything and replant and rip out and hack back......... I have been saying the same thing for 4 years. I have to reorganise it all. This is the year. I have decided.

So that was my exercise for the day. Brambles and thorny bits and lemon grass, and weeds growing through the gaps in the paving. And today was the day my sister decided to send me photos of her beautiful garden. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

This is her balcony. I can assure you that my garden looks nothing like this. Polar opposite. Ah well.... there is always next year!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back home again.

Diana on the beach while hunting for paua shells

I am home. You can see that. After 30+ hours of travelling. Can I just say that coming back via Hong Kong was the best thing I could have done. After the horror of being a transit passenger through LA , and I would write screeds about that if I never had any intention of visiting the States at some stage, it was a delight. Shower facilities, shopping malls, smiling faces, and wonderful views of the city too. All I will say re the LA experience, which every transit passenger echoes, by the way, is that if ever any American citizen had to go through what we go through, there would be uproar. It is a disgrace. Enough.

The beach near where we stayed in Wellington.

I am home. The washing is all done. The sun is shining, and my friends inform me that yesterday was the first hot sunny day since I left. Some declared it the first day of summer. I am inclined to believe that I brought the sun with me. And the next few days look good too. I have coffee and toast and the house to myself till I go and get David later this morning, so I thought I would say hello.

Wellington city night lights.

Saying goodbye is always dreadful, and leaving my daughter was dire. I am so glad that I had that extra week with her, and the time to get to know her friends and the people and places which matter in her everyday life. She worked so hard to make it a memorable time for us all, and she could not have done a better job. It was a glorious holiday.
The little cable car which takes you up to the Botanical Gardens in Wellington

The Botanical Gardens.

I have just had a look at my garden. Hmmm. Hacking back is a vital necessity. It appears to have turned into a jungle and I can't see the plants I should be able to see. And the seats need cleaning again, and the patio needs to be weeded. Heaven knows what the allotment looks like. We will tackle that tomorrow I think.

I am going to have to do some serious reading to catch up with everyone. It is amazing how much has happened in the 3 and a half weeks. While we had the laptop with us, there was no internet access in the places we stayed. I know that my freinds here and my Mum and sister were getting increasingly frustrated by not being able to see what we were doing..... I hope the photos have made up for the silences! (And there are more to come too. )

Breaker Beach on the last morning

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Coromandel.....

Ok, this is going to be the last post until I am back home. It is yet another stunning day in Wellington, and I leave tomorrow night. Sigh. BIGGER SIGH. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, I suppose. I have had such a lovely time in NZ. And so much fun just being with my daughter. (She is working on jungle stuff as I speak, across the room.... planning play scheme activities)

So here are some photos. More photos. The kids and I all went to Linds's home in Pauanui and were there together for a night before they went on to Auckland and Waitomo, where they stayed in a Hobbit hotel, and went to see the glow-worm caves.

David just loves all this LOTR, and Hobbiton was on the way. Well, Matamata was really.

We arrived at Pauanui rather early, and so we went down to the beach for a while, and looked around. I had another 2 days in Pauanui with Linds after the kids left, and we explored the Coromandel. It is absolutely beautiful, as you can see. Just look at the amazing scenery!

You can also see my family clowning about too!

Linds's husband went back to Auckland on the Monday, so we had time alone, and it was perfect. So many conversations, and so much to see and do. And chocolate to eat. Of course. I wanted to see her life in 3D, just like I wanted to see Diana's, and I have done just that. Time is always too short though, isn't it.

On the first day of the great exploration, we walked to Cathedral Cove. There
is no access except on foot or by boat, and it is about 45 mins walk. Down the cliffs. We did it is about 25 and were exceedingly smug. Hah. You should have seen us heading back up. We looked like 2 old crones, and were beyond speech. Just plodding up those steps was enough! And Linds's husband called her mid-plod, and we were trying not to laugh at the same time as trying not to sound as though we were approaching death. Just strolling along, we were!

There were very few people there, and when the tide is high, you cannot get through the cave. We sat on the beach, and I even put my feet in the Pacific! That was a first. The water was crystal clear. Magic.

I wrote "Linds x 2" in the sand there, and here we are.... Linds x 2.

I just cannot tell you how beautiful it all is.

Then we explored the coves and villages along the coast, and came to Hot water Beach. This is an amazing place. You walk to the headland, clutching a spade, and there you dig into the sand at low tide, and the hole fills up with hot water. In places, the beach sand bubbles. The steam rises around you, and you lie there. (Well, we watched. I mean, who would consider packing a bathing costume in the middle of winter? Or appearing in public in it?) And, being a logical mother type person, I was thinking....exactly HOW thin is the Earth's crust here? What if you fall into the centre of the earth etc etc. Hilarious. When you get too hot, and believe me, I was doing some fancy Irish dancing steps in places, you run into the freezing sea to cool down. As I said, this is a fascinating place!

The sunset on the way home was spectacular.

And on the last morning in Pauanui, we walked around the coastal path to a place called Flat Rock. Just look at what I could see. Isn't it amazing? So beautiful. You really do need to come and see for yourselves. I am becoming a one woman NZ tourist board here. They need to supply me with free tickets.

And so, there you are. I have taken nearly 3000 photos. I may post a couple more now and then. It is now Friday morning, and I leave tonight. My case is packed and waiting in the car, and Diana is doing her music group with 40 pre-schoolers in the hall next door. They are singing loudly. It will soon be time to say goodbye, and I really hate doing that.

This morning, she fetched me and we went to Breakers Beach and watched some intrepid surfers riding, or attempting to ride the huge waves. It was and is another beautiful day. Wellington has been wonderful. The scenery is so lovely, and so are all the people I have met. Can you believe that the mother of one of Diana's flat mates, was in the same class as me back at University in Cape Town all those years ago??? How incredible is that?? We know and remember the same people. And if anyone had said to us 34 years ago, that one day our daughters would be sharing a flat in Wellington, we would never have believed them. This is a very small world.

Right then. I am off. Over and out until I am back at home in hopefully, sunny England.

Road Trip Part 2

I am back. The sun is shining after a grey start, and I have been walking. I walked up to the ridge above the Miramar peninsula, and then down to Worser Bay, and back up and over, under landing planes, along another bay, to Hataitai. The wind blew, so I arrived looking like something from another planet. I have had the daily exercise, so I was very happy to go and have paninis for lunch with Diana and Sarah. Carbo-loading, you know. For the next walk.

Anyway..... here are the next photos. We are starting with the Huka jet, which goes racing up to the Huka Falls and screeches about doing the equivalent of "wheelies" and spins. There in the front row, you can see my boys. They did the brotherly bonding thing, while the women watched. Or, as Diana, said, kept an eye on them in case they landed in the river. And took photos, of course. They loved every minute of it. And here is another view of Lake Rotorua. And the black swans. David managed to get them to come up right to him, so he took loads of photos. We went up the Skyline luge thingy, and my family can racing down the tracks in their sled type things. There are 3 tracks, and Diana is the pro here. She and her older brother were intensely competetive, might I add.
But she did have the edge of knowing the track! The others were a little more cautious. Great fun was had by all, though. They also have a sort of slingshot thing where you are pulled up in the air, and then have to pull a release cable and go flying into what seems like space. Diana has been on this with Kate, I gather. Hmmm. I think it is rather like bungy jumping. If any of my kids do it, I only want to hear AFTER the event, thank you very much.
Look! Bubbling mud! I wish I could put the smell on here too! Real bubbling mud! I was very excited. This was in Rotorua.
And then there was more fun in the kayaks, and on the lake. With 4 of the 5 of us aged between 18 and 30, it was inevitable that there would be many activities! The one of us, aged considerably more than 30, did do some of the activities, but observed a lot too.
So that was the central part of NZ. Next time I will show you the Coromandel, which was stunning to. I do believe my daughter will be arriving back in the office any minute, so I will stop for now and carry on tomorrow. It is beautiful here. Just so beautiful.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Roadtrip Part 1

Well, it is Sunday, and I have control of the laptop for a little while, so will post some photos for you. The boys and Ann are home, after what sounds like a horrendous flight. Not a great end to their holiday. The days seem to be flying by at a gathering speed at the moment, and I can't believe that I will be home this time next week. I have had a couple of messages from friends asking if I AM going home! Hmmm. I can see why people visiting NZ want to stay. It is spectacular.

I walked over to the church this morning, (where I am now, in Diana's office) and so many people were out running or cycling, or walking round the bay. There is a different kind of energy here, and it is hard to explain. Good, though.

So here we go with some photos.......

Napier was beautiful. We were staying right on the beach front and the sand was black. The sunrises were breath-taking. I was up very early each morning to see it, and as the weather was glorious, so were the sunrises. One can never have too many photos of sea and sun!

Silhouette of a tree at dawn. Just the sound of the waves breaking on the shore.

The family just before the mini golf challenge! Open warfare is normal! In our family they play to win. Diana perfected her chipping from the bushes. But, Andrew was way ahead of us all. Me? Do not ask. I am missing the golfing gene.

The national aquarium is in Napier, and we had to go and visit, and were there in time to watch the sharks (and other fish) being fed. We were in one of those underwather tunnels watching the diver feed them. I must admit that they were not exactly massive man-eating size, much to my sons' disappointment. Jaws is more their style.

After a wonderful day exploring the town, and taking many photos, we set off for the next stage of our tour in the white beast. (The family nickname for the car.) Travelling through the mountains was wonderful, and we had to stop to take photos. My only complaint re the NZ motorways (or State Highways... they are single lane in each direction, by the way!) is that there are too few places to stop to take photos. And when there is place to stop, there is no view. So we took to leaning out of the window as we sped along snapping what we could. It was interesting. Heaven knows what following cars must have thought!

And then we arrived in Taupo.......The lake is huge, and very deep in parts. Mt Ruapehu is there in the distance, and it is an active volcano. There are lots of those around here. Ahem. In fact I think this whole place is a volcano. I do know that Wellington is directly on top of the place where two continental plates meet. And creak. Earthquakes are a normal part of life, but they tell me they are "overdue for a big one". Nice. Very reassuring for a mother about to leave her daughter on top of the bubbling inferno!

And here we are on top of the thin part of the inferno. We went to the Craters of the Moon, near Taupo, and watched the steam rising from the earth. The smell of sulphur was actually not as bad as I thought it would be, and we got used to it very quickly.

And so we went on to Rotorua......

And discovered that the "bach" we had rented was actually a luxury home, complete with hot tub on the deck, kayaks etc. And the lake was right there, at the end of the lawn. Sigh. I was born for luxury like this! Stunning. Sunrises, sunsets, and more glorious weather.

We stayed there for 3 nights, and the first day, we went to Wai-0-tapu, the huge thermal reserve, where we watched the geyser blow, and then went on the complete tour of the park. There were 3 routes, and we wanted to see it all. Absolutely amazing.

This boardwalk actually goes over the steaming plates.

This is the beautiful turquise pool in the park. I cannot describe all the colours.....
So there are just a few photos for you to see. More later!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Aoteroa is magical!

I am here.... over 1000 photos taken, and this is the first time I have seen a computer with internet access since I last posted. Believe me when I say you will be seeing photos. Lots and lots of photos. But that will come tomorrow, after the boys and Ann leave. They fly home tonight, and I will be here for another week.

We have been to Napier, Hawke's Bay, Taupo, Rotorua, the Coromandel...Pauanui, Cathedral Cove, Hot water beach, then Auckland. And all the bits in between too. And the weather has been spectacular all the way. Everyone is amazed how wonderful it has been for us. I am not. It was meant to be.

I have also had 5 wonderful days with Linds, and we have had such fun. I have been everywhere and seen everything that is important to her, and we have talked a mile a minute and eaten muffins, and sampled coffee and tea all over the place.

Along the way, I managed to LOSE MY CAMERA CHARGER. How stupid was that. I had no choice and had to buy another one, which cost almost as much as a new camera, but I needed to have the camera working, didn't I? Of course.

We have been to thermal parks, watched geysers spouting, seen bubbling mud, kayaked on Lake Rotorua, the boys have been on the Huka Falls jet boat, and survived. We have laughed so much, and had such fun. We have been up the Sky tower, and ..... and...... and...... I need to draw beath. So much to tell you and so much to show you too. Tomorrow.

This is the most beautiful country. The coast line is spectacular, but so is the inland part too. Magical. So many memories to treasure. And more to make too. (And I am not even going to tell you how many posts I need to catch up on too....... I need to know what you have all been doing!)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Kia ora!!

Hello from sunny Wellington! Can you see me waving from down there at the bottom of the map??? I am here! Did you hear that? I said SUNNY!!! And it is winter. Here I am in the sun.... in Diana's office. There is a church meeting on at the moment, so I am trying to upload some photos for you to see. Please note the artistic one above!

We arrived on Friday morning, after almost 24 hours in the air, and after surviving LA (more much later), nearly missing the connecting flight to Wellington, Andrew's case arriving after us, no sleep and much excitement, and Diana and her friend were there to meet us. I managed to stay awake till 8pm and then crashed, but by then, we had seen Diana's home, met some of her friends, been to collect the car, ventured to Scorching Bay to the Chocolate Fish and been up Mt Vic to see the views. Just wonderful, and hard to believe we are on the other side of the world.

Yesterday and today, I got up really early and went to the beach near by and watched the sun rise. It is so special to be sitting there on the rocks, watching the sun slowly cast its rays over the water, and to be listening to the waves. Today is just lovely...... a trifle windy, but lovely. Wellington is supposed to be windy after all!! Yesterday was somewhaty blighted by the fact that Ann sprained her foot, but happily, she is more mobile today. We did manage to go around Parliament, and she rode in style in a wheelchair. Then she and Andrew rested for a while and Diana, David and I did a little shopping, before going back to the flat for a super meal.

So there you have it. We are here. I have a new role...I am "Diana's Mum" and that is great fun! They all love her to bits, and tell me they have every intention of keeping her here..... and I am getting a real view of her life in NZ. I am loving every minute of it all!

We go off on our travels tomorrow, but I will be taking photos. 222 so far, and it is just Day 3!! I am doing my best here!