Saturday, 30 January 2016

Welcome to Wellington

Pat and little Ben share a cuddle in the kitchen
I’m not that sure how the New Zealand economy has been of late, but the Kiwi Prime Minister John Key will be delighted to know, that over the last seven days Pat and I have done our level best to pump a significant sum into it. But I run away with myself. Let’s backtrack.
Our journey out here was a bit of a faff, with a fair degree of uncertainty along the way. The connections we had to make in Sydney and Auckland relied on our plane leaving Heathrow on time-ish. In reality it left nearly three hours late and even with his foot to the floor (or whatever they do to make these planes go quicker) we found ourselves at one stage, looking forward to a day in Sydney, while we waited for a suitable flight on to Auckland.
The flights themselves were fine and it proved to me, once again, how much more comfortable I am in one of the exit row seats. Definitely worth the £100 or so, especially on the 12-hour leg from Dubai to Sydney. The Airbus A380’s that Qantus use are great planes. Very quiet and very comfortable.
Granny and Livi get re-aquainted
I guess that most people know that `The Lord Of Rings` films were all shot in New Zealand. Arriving at Wellington Airport it’s hard to avoid the obvious references to the trilogy and beyond. The film’s director, Peter Jackson, lives about a mile from the airport, most of the post production was in the city and a huge model of Gollum hangs in the departure lounge patting a passing fish. And for good measure the facia on the terminal proudly displays that you have reached “the middle of Middle Earth”. It is said that if you travelled into Wellington when each of the Lord of The Rings films was being premiered, your passport would not have Wellington stamped in it but “Middle Earth”, which is pretty cool if you are into all things Tolkein, a bit stupid if you’re not.
Wellington Airport
For such a small city it has a lively sporting and cultural programme and there always seems to be something going on, This weekend is the international rugby sevens tournament, where fancy dress seems compulsory (for the spectators at least).
A pre-match drink for the "Duff Beer Men" and "Super Mario's" en-route for the rugby 7s tournament

Erica and James live in Karori, which is a leafy suburb to the north of the city, though it’s only a 12-minute drive to the CBD (Central Business District) of Wellington. They moved into their new home on 1 December, so this was the first time we had seen it, though what with Skype and Whatsapp, we were very familiar with it. The ground floor is our investment. It’s just a large room, which we will eventually divide into a bedroom and a living room. There is already a good bathroom down there and a laundry room, that we hope to convert into a small kitchen in time.
Our ground floor flat, which will be divided and filled with furniture over the next two weeks
French windows run down one side of the wall and lead into the sub-tropical back garden. I was anticipating that there would be a lot of gardening to do, and I was not wrong, but it’s not hard graft. It’s good soil and I am concentrating on the front garden first, and dodging the rain showers. The last couple of days have been wet and windy, which is a common combination in Wellington, though temperatures still hover around 20, though we have been promised 23 to 25C through much of next week, which is hot for around these parts.
Pat couldn't resist this leather reclining suite...

and I got my Bose sound system sorted as well
Pat arrives back at the house with more stuff
So we have been busy sourcing a three-piece suite and something to put all our clothes in. Then there’s been a telly, internet, a good music system, bedding, and along the way we have to think about a car. We were going to lease one, but now think we’ll bite the bullet and buy one, but then again we might not bother at all and hire one as and when we need one.
My sister Carol is also out here at present. Her daughter Lucy is currency living in Auckland with her family, and Carol and Rob have been here since early December. They go back to the UK next week, but flew down during the week to see us. It seemed bizarre to meet up, such a long way from home.

With my sister Carol and her husband Rob
So that’s about that. By the next blog we should be a bit more self-contained with furniture and somewhere to put all our clobber. It’s lining the floor at present.

Toodaloo chums

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

From Willington to Wellington

There may be only one letter in it, but our new home in New Zealand is a world away from our UK address in Derbyshire. And this week sees us swapping marina life for six months ‘down under’ in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, which the Lonely Planet rightly describes as ‘the coolest little capital in the world.’
But in the middle of the preparations and planning for this long absence, we also had the arrival of our waterside lodge that, with our narrowboat, will be our UK home on our return in July.

Another successful shopping raid at Ikea
Getting the lodge finished, delivered, sited and provisioned was always going to be close-run thing. We were expecting it on site the first week of January, then it was going to be last Wednesday and finally it arrived last Friday. Pat and I had been willing the BBC Midlands weather girl Shefali, to give us a good weather forecast for arrival date and she did not disappoint. We might have woken to minus temperatures last Friday morning, but by the time we were up and about, the two trucks carrying the lodge had arrived and the crane to lift it was not far behind. Pat and I were worried about the plunging temperatures and the chance of snow delaying it, but the assembly crew were more concerned with wind. The large crane will not lift anything if the wind is over 17 mph, which is quite common around here, so a still day was an added bonus.
Hazel Lodge arrives on two trucks

The first half gets craned into place

The other half is lifted off the truck...

...and the kitchen is exposed
....and swung into place
The site the following morning
It was a smooth operation and a bit bizarre watching the lodge effectively cut in half, on the back of two trailers. By 11am both halves had been swung into place and we left the crew to it, as they set about making the lodge water-tight.

Saturday saw John Lewis deliver beds and assorted furnishings and also the remainder of the furniture we had put into storage was delivered. “Easy Johnny”, yes, that is his name, arrived around twoish, with all our stuff, and with the help of my boating buddy Rik, and Penny and Bob, two of our oldest friends, who came up for the weekend, we got it unloaded in a couple of hours.

There were no workmen on site Sunday, and despite a couple of inches of snow, our first at the marina this winter, we were assembling wardrobes and chairs by 9.30pm and welcoming several of our pontoon pals later that afternoon. Unfortunately we had no electricity, but the gas worked and we had cold water, so at least we could make everybody a cup of tea.

Roger puts together the last of the dining room chairs
I must say we are both delighted with the lodge, its position and its aspect, and I am so glad Pat is happy with it. The poor girl has lived and breathed this project for the last few months, and her forward planning and attention to detail has resulted in us getting an excellent new home, which, I am sure, will look great, once we have got it all straight.

That’s all got to happen over the next four days though. We already have our first rental booked and a number of our boating pals are using it and snagging it for us over the next few weeks, to make sure everything works, prior to the first letting.

As for us, we leave the marina on Thursday lunchtime and head south. We hope to see our son Kev on Thursday evening, as well as my best mate John in St Albans, and we fly out of Heathrow with Qantus on Friday evening, getting to Wellington around 6pm their time on Sunday. We lose Saturday along the way. I think it’s a 28-hour flight. I’ve booked myself one of the seats near the emergency exit, so I can get to stretch my legs out. It cost a few bob, but I think it’s well worth it. Pat’s sitting behind me.

Keep in touch via E Mail, and looking forward to seeing some of our pals in NZ over the next few months. Otherwise we are back early July.

Toodaloo chums
Roger & Pat