Tuesday, 6 December 2011

One month on

Bad news. My Dad’s been in hospital since Wednesday and Mum isn’t coping very well, and is desperate for him to come home. We don’t think it’s anything serious, probably just a severe case of constipation, but because of the dementia he’s very confused and doesn’t really understand why he’s there. Of course if I was still in Oxford I’d be going over there to give Mum a bit of support, and I’m now feeling pretty useless not being able to help, despite the regular half hour phone calls. He's out in 5 days, and Mum's relieved, but it's made me realise just how far away we are over here.

Scraping the Car
More bad news. I may have mentioned the nasty entrance to our backyard. You turn into a narrow lane off the main road and then do a 90 degree left turn, through a narrow gap in the wall, into our back yard. Well I’d done it a few times OK but the inevitable happened yesterday and I ended up literally wedged against this bloody stone buttress, having scraped the passenger door. I really was stuck, didn’t dare go backwards or forwards. Luckily I wasn’t blocking the lane too much but the 2 neighbours’ cars in the yard were blocked in. You can imagine the state I was in. Luckily Mike works quite close and came to the rescue. What I’d give to have my old mini back again, or at least a beat-up old car that could cope with a few more scrapes, instead of this smart company car. Rotten because I’m not the most confident driver anyway (always been happier on my bike) and this has really put me back a bit. Been forcing myself out so I don’t lose my nerve.

Hunua Falls, 20 November
This was our outing on Sunday. Driving southeast from the city to this local beauty spot with car park, toilets etc., but walk for 10 mins and you’re in dense jungle. We did a 3-4 hour circular walk way up high to a reservoir and then back down again. Mostly tree fern and palms again but we also came across a grove of enormous kaurie trees. They really are the most splendid, majestic trees, with massive, vertical trunks. The waterfall back by the car park was rather impressive too with a lovely pool below, some guys abseiling beside it and a family of welcome swallows feeding their young below.

Standing at the foot of the Hunua Falls

Rainy day
So today I feel completely house-bound. It’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale outside, and there’s a third car in the yard. I’ve taken a look and reckon it’s just too difficult a manoeuvre for me to get ours out, and daren’t risk another embarrassing scrape. Maybe I’ll get out on the bus. Then just as I’m setting off I hear the car going so I drive off after all; the sun comes out as too.

Waiheke Island, 27 November
We set off on the train to Britomart, Auckland’s transport hub, then get the ferry over to Waiheke Island which is quite a long way off and takes 45 mins on the ferry. We’re all packed up with lunch and cozzies (just  in case) as the weather’s pretty good. We hire a beat up old car for $50, and set off for the beach, though its a bit a bit early for swimming. Beautiful beach with a few people , palm trees etc. After a wander we decide to head for the tree and bird reserve which proves to be very well hidden. The island is about the same size as Jersey with about 5,000 people living on the western half and just farms and wineries on the eastern half, which just has a dirt road around the edge. Most visitors head for the beaches or the wineries  but we manage to find the reserve and set off on a circular track. Wonderful  jungle walk with palms, tree ferns, some pines and a few enormous kaurie trees. We eventually find an exit but it’s a different one so the car’s nowhere to be seen. Head back in and half an hour later we’re back where we started, and stop for lunch at an overgrown picnic spot under the pohutukawas. Then we decide to head for Stony Batter, some fortifications from WW2 which are on the uninhabited side so we’re driving on extremely undulating dirt roads, Mike that is, not me. We miss out on the Battery as it closes early but the Stony bit was very impressive. Enormous rocks thrown up by a volcano sitting in tumbled profusion on the landscape.  It was jungle for millions of years and the acid drippings from trees above has worn beautiful smooth grooves into some of the rocks. Funnelled rock erosion is the correct geological term I believe. Got back to the ferry and spotted a giant sting ray gliding under the pier head (about 5 foot wing span). A wonderful mini holiday, though we still haven’t managed our swim.

Big rocks at Stony Batter
Rock Hugging
Day out at Devonport
I catch the ferry over to Devonport which is on the North Side, and meet up with Cousin Rita. We wander around this rather quaint town doing bits of shopping then find a nice place for lunch of course. Rita’s very excited about her 2 sons coming over for 3 weeks at Christmas, and is busy buying stuff to make the house look festive. I’m finding it well nigh impossible to rustle up any kind of Christmas spirit: it’s early Summer over here remember!

Work on the horizon
I’ve been feeling a bit more at a loose end. Thought not working would be easy, but actually it leaves one with just too much time on one’s hands. So I’ve been busy searching out voluntary jobs and have applied for 3. One’s in the Museum across the park, one’s in the hospital (also very close by), and the third is, of course, in my favourite op shop. I’ve applied on-line and have just learnt that interviews won’t now take place till end of Jan, as everything is closing up for the long Christmas break (their Summer hols). I really don’t want to wait that long so have been on the war path to speed them up a bit. Also I was amazed to find my work visa has been approved already so I’ve started to look for part-time paid work too.

Keeping fit
I started a yoga class this week and it’s rather different to the classes I’ve been to before. We spent a lot of time working against the wall for a start which was kinda weird, and we also did stuff with little wooden blocks and bean bags! A male teacher too: all very kiwi but quite fun. I’m also swimming in the local pool a couple of times a week. It’s Olympic size (yes, 50m!) and each length seems to take forever. It has a sauna, steam room and a lovely spa pool included in the entry so makes for a good outing.

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