Saturday, 5 March 2016

Flying the flag

Good Morning. It’s just before 8am and I’ve just been chased around the house by an alligator; prior to that I completed a complicated underwater jigsaw, with a running commentary on what could kill you and what was friendly; put a play tent up... put it down... and put it up again; made a camp from 12 pillows and a blanket and designed and build a railway track to accommodate `Thomas`, `Gordon` and his pals. No wonder I have been taken afternoon naps.

I say I, but I really mean we. I may be Entertainment Secretary in this arrangement, but Pat is Laundry Operative and chief Chalet Maid. I mainly do the cooking for the family’s evening meal. Pat does nappies, wash-and-brush ups and mediates during temper tantrums.

So what else is new? Well March sees New Zealand voting for a new flag. Now if Scotland had voted for independence and David Cameron decided tomorrow that the UK flag no longer reflected the current make up of the United Kingdom and wanted  to change the Union flag to something more in tune with the 21st century, I suspect much of the nation would be up in arms.

Well, for the last three years New Zealand has been wringing its hands over whether they should ditch their current flag and go for something more.. more... Kiwi.

This is what has been appearing in the daily papers. I really like the new proposed design with the silver fern.

It is argued, and I think it’s right, that the New Zealand flag can easily be mistaken for the Aussie one, and I leant very quickly on my first visit here, that Kiwis don’t like to be mistaken for Australians. (Apologies to our Aussie family and friends.)

They have already whittled down the designs in previous votes and its now down to two, the original flag with the union jack in the corner and the four red stars, or the new blue/black flag with the silver fern. What is quite interesting is how little interest this seems to have generated. I have asked numerous New Zealanders what their opinion on the new proposed flag is, and most shrug their shoulders and show a general degree of indifference.  Some say their fathers and grandfathers fought, and died, for the NZ flag, so it should not be interfered with so it will be interesting to see the result at the end of the month. I think the new design is rather good. The age of colonialism is long gone. I’d vote for it. The NZ Prime Minister is also hoping it will be the more popular of the two. He is staking his reputation on a yes vote for the new flag, so watch this space.

`Pops` starts painting the tree house
Politics aside, things rumble along here. I have almost finished the garden treehouse. The steps are in and I have replaced several rotting floorboards and constructed new railings. It looks quite smart in its new coat of `Mission Brown`, and it will need another coat before autumn kicks in.  Not sure what will happen to the inside. That will be up to the grandkids, but it’s now safe for them to use. It’s also got a trapdoor under it, that I only discovered last week and a hidden ladder up to it. Pretty cool eh!

Almost done now. Just the back to paint.
We had a carpenter round last week to look at partitioning our large room into two. Looks like it will be a `pocket` wall, but we await the quote.

We finally `bit the bullet` on Saturday and bought ourselves a car. It will be the first one we have owned for nearly five years. A colleague at Erica’s school was selling a large Hyundai. I liked it, but it had high mileage and Pat wasn’t that keen. Then we saw a Ford Fiesta advertised privately. It was priced for a quick sale as the owner was off to Australia. We agreed a price and shook hands. The following morning I got a text to say that overnight a bus had hit it! Were we still interested? I think you know what my answer was.

So after visiting dozens of dealers’ web sites in and around the city, we travelled around the coast to the Hutt Valley and have purchased a Honda Jazz Sport. It’s a few years old, but nice and clean. Erica says it’s an old man’s car. Well, that should suit us perfectly then. We pick it up on Wednesday. That is if a meteor hasn’t hit it by then!
Our new runaround while in NZ
And the spending doesn’t stop there. Or no. Pat wanted a set of wicker outdoor furniture and one now stands on our patio. Hopefully I will be able to post a picture of her imbibing a large G & T, before dinner.
Pat enjoys her new patio furniture
We have also heard that our application for NZ residency has passed its first hurdle and been approved. That is the difficult bit over with. But with us it seems nothing is straightforward. NZ Immigration sent the papers to Erica’s old address two weeks ago. The new tenant there signed for them, then realised they weren’t for her and has sent them back. NZ Immigration have no record of them being returned, only signed for. The woman must be a couple of slices short of a full loaf, I reckon. Apparently we have four months now to get all the relevant paperwork and medicals in place. We anticipated this might happen while we were here, and have everything we need with us. Having residency will give us the ability of coming and going when convenient. So, bring on the stethoscopes, I say. The Filler’s are ready.

At the balloon festival at Otaki. That our grandson Ben, getting into the picture
It is now officially autumn here, and the mornings and evenings are getting a lot cooler, but we are still getting very hot afternoons. We popped up the coast on Sunday morning to a big kite festival at Otaki, an hour up the Kapiti coast. Our pals from Napier, John and Diana, are keen kite enthusiasts and it was quite a spectacle, though the grandchildren were more interested in the carousel than the huge structures hanging in the sky.
Well that’s all for now folks, so toodaloo

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