A Travellerspoint blog

Back to Reality

One month on.....

sunny 20 °C

Today we have been home one month exactly!

We caught up with lots of our friends on our first Saturday night back and spent the first week or so unpacking all our boxes and doing boring stuff like contacting utility companies and attending vet and dentist appointments.

Pepper sulked for the first 2 days we were back and did everything she could to avoid us and when she was ready decided to follow us everywhere we went and not leave us alone – we have now been forgiven!

I am now back to school and feeling exhausted after just 8 days!!! I am just not used to this full time malarkey!!! Lots of changes have taken place over the year I have been away and I am frantically trying to keep up with it all as well as settle my new class of thirty 4 year olds.

Gerald has landed himself a job and will be starting in just over a week’s time – he will be working for the husband of a friend of mine, the role will involve being a ‘solution architect’ so will take him in a new direction than previous jobs and he is really looking forward to it.

As Gerald and I were both off work for the first 3 weeks we managed to catch up with a few more friends – including a trip down to the seaside to catch up with friends that had twins while we were away.

Last weekend we had a great time at Secret Cinema – basically you pay for a ticket for a film but have no idea what or where it will be! A week or so before you get a dress code and venue but don’t find out what the film is until it starts. This time our dress code was ‘Bedouin’. So we scoured the shops to find something suitable and headed off into London with around 5000 other people also dressed in Bedouin attire to Alexandra Palace. We were greeted by real camels, donkeys, goats and sheep – and a man tried to buy me off Gerald for 3 camels!!!! Really is that all I’m worth!? The entire venue was decked out - with an exotic market , a room painted like an oasis with sand all over the floor, belly dancers, indian head massagers and much more. We had a great time and can’t wait for the next one. Oh and the film was Lawrence of Arabia.

We have been booking lots of things to give us something to look forward to now our travels are over and winter is approaching – so we have a trip to the Duke of York theatre to see Ghost Stories, tickets to see Paul Weller and Leftfield, an evening watching some stand up comedy TV filming at the Riverside studios, a short trip to Spain to stay with friends of mine and a weekend in Edinburgh to watch All Blacks v Scotland ( yes I know it’s risky taking Gerald the Jinx!!!!).

Our tans are fast fading and it feels almost like we didn’t spend all that time away now we are back home and in familiar surroundings so now we must start planning our next trip away….Watch this space.

Posted by bumblebum 14:08 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Greetings from Fiji

Perfect Paradise

sunny 29 °C

Bula from Nacula Island in the Yasawas, Fiji! Today is 29th July 2010….

First I will back track a couple of days before telling you how AMAZING this place is!

Our last few days in Auckland were mostly involved in packing and saying goodbye! We had our leaving drinks in Ponsonby on the Saturday night, a goodbye brunch with some of Gs family in Parnell on the Sunday before spending the rest if the day cleaning and moving out. We had an amazing day on Monday at the zoo thanks to Kirsten. While we waited for her to have her break we fed some rainbow lorikeets in the Aussie Encounter area, they were so cute, sitting on our hands eating some kind of liquid that the keepers gave us to hold. While we were doing this Kirsten was arranging for us to have an animal encounter. We ended up feeding the hippos – a bit like playing netball! We each had half a cabbage and had to aim it into the wide-open hippo’s mouth! They then proceeded to chomp it up noisily (sounded like a washing machine swooshing around) and show us inside their mouths as if to say ‘More!’ Next we got to feed the rhinos and give their tough, rough skin and good pat. Amazingly they do have little soft areas on them too which feel so squidgey after feeling the rest if them.
Our favourite encounter though was feeding the lemurs banana. They are so cute! They were running up and putting their little paws on our hands to take the banana gently out of our fingers and once all the banana had gone they licked our fingers to get every last bit! A great day so THANK YOU Kirsten!
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We left New Zealand on Tuesday, waved off by G’s mum and dad at the airport. We arrived in Nadi and were met by the driver who was taking us to Blue Water Lodge our accommodation for the night. Nadi is nothing special (as we had heard) we went for a wander along the beach and watched the sun set before heading back to the lodge. We were pleased that it totally lived up to the great reviews it had had on Tripadvisor, the food was especially good and the staff were lovely.

We had an early start the next morning to catch the Yasawa Flyer (a big yellow catamaran) to the Yasawa Islands. It was a 4 ½ hour journey through calm, turquoise waters, stopping at most of the little islands along the way to drop people off at their various resorts. As the journey continued the islands seemed to get prettier and the waters even more turquoise. When we finally arrived at the top of the islands we were met by a little boat from our resort (Blue Lagoon) to take us to shore and as we got off were greeted by a group of Fijians singing us a welcome song and handing out drinks of fruit cocktail.
We were shown to our room which can only be described as PERFECT! We can see the sea from our garden veranda (which also has a double hammock to lounge around in!), the sea breeze comes in through the shutters keeping the room lovely and cool in the 30 degree heat and the bathroom is gorgeous with our private outdoor shower. There were flowers on the bed and it seemed as though every little detail had been carefully thought out. The food is delicious and plentiful with lots of choice and neither of us can think of a single negative thing to say about the place, it is just stunning.
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As this area was the setting for the film The Blue Lagoon and that was the film they chose to screen in the outdoor ‘cinema’ as we sat under the stars.

A few days later – August 2nd 2010….

Our time here so far has been fantastic, easily the best location we have ever been to, we cannot find fault in anything!

On our second night here we took part in a team quiz and winning the first round were presented with a bottle of champagne, the scores were close between our team and another throughout but in the last round our team managed to secure the win by just 5 points and our prize was a delicious breakfast feast all set up on a table on the beach. There was a huge amount of food ranging from bacon and eggs to pancakes and fruit and of course more champagne!
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The weather has been beautiful everyday, hot and sunny but always with a lovely sea breeze so you never get too hot. We have hired ourselves snorkelling gear for the duration of our stay as the resort is in front of a huge coral reef that goes on and on. Every time we go out we see something different….So far we have seen fish in every colour imaginable and varying in size from tadpole sized to over a metre in length (with teeth to match – quite scary!), a moray eel, a ray, lots of huge blue starfish, barracuda, box fish, a banded snake eel and 10 squid swimming in a perfect line! The best experience so far was a sizeable octopus who scared the life out of me when it wrapped it’s tentacles around my ankle, I quickly yanked my leg away which terrified the octopus and made him squirt me with ink!!! He produced loads of black, viscousy liquid which stayed in the water long after he had sped off!

Along with movie nights and team quizzes we have also had a bonfire night, been entertained by the local choir and had a Meke night with traditional food cooked under the ground and a visit from the locals to teach us some dances and sing – something which they are very good at. Tonight is International Crab Racing!

Gerald’s turn

It’s now day 9 I think, and its my turn to write. We’re relaxing in our Bure after a tiring day full of lounging on our sun loungers, wallowing in the sea, reading books and eating. Newton Faulkner is on the ipod’s speakers and the setting sun is streaming through the semi closed window shutters. It’s a hard life.

Having said that, not all is perfect in paradise! We had some rain a couple of days ago, making the temperature a bit cooler and making us retreat inside for the afternoon. That was the same day we climbed up the almost tallest peak on the island. It wasn’t a hard or complex climb, and the views were stunning, over the island, the sea and the surrounding islands.
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And there is another problem with this paradisical place on the planet… we were planning on doing some diving while we were here, but that has not happened yet. Mainly because I’ve managed to get an ear infection! Really very annoying. On Monday night I went night snorkelling with a few other guests and a guide. It was an interesting snorkel, just around the edge of the same reef that we had been snorkelling along every day, but being night time there are always different things to be seen. A few green and pink crayfish came out to be seen (we’d found the empty shell of one a few days earlier!) as well as some rather large puffer or box fish (don’t ask me, I’m pretty useless at knowing what fish I am looking at, other than parrot fish, banner fish, angel fish and nemo fish – also called clown fish - and now I know what a unicorn fish looks like, although we had named it a dickhead fish) and lots of sleeping fish, until you shine your light on them! There were two major highlights though!
The first: I was off by myself when I noticed the other 5 were all pointing their torches at the same point on the reef, about 10 meters away from me. On my way to go see what they were looking at, a turtle swam underneath me and out of sight! I was gobsmacked! Such graceful creatures!
The second highlight was on the way back in. Steve and I had hung back a bit from the group, looking at different bits of the coral when I noticed he was shining his torch at me while shaking it about – the signal that he had found something to look at. So I turned towards him and watched as a four foot long black tip reef shark swam towards him, under him (he was over the reef in about 1.5 meters of water, so not-very-deep, especially when there is a shark there), turned around and swam under him a couple of more times and then swam off into the distance! If I thought I was gobsmacked by seeing the turtle, then I don’t know what state I was in seeing the shark! (I know what state Steve was in, as he was videoing the shark, and on the video you can hear him screaming through his snorkel, just like a little girl ha ha!). The only thoughts I remember having were “Stop shining your torch on the shark” and “Don’t swim after the shark” but since Steve was videoing it, I guess he needed the light or the video would have been of nothing but darkness. Now, reef sharks are generally not something you have to worry about, but when you are in the dark and thus you don’t know what is around you, they are very impressive. And they have the genuine shark shape, sleek and menacing! Such awe inspiring creatures!

But the upshot of that snorkelling was I woke up the next day with an ear infection. We were set to go for a dive on Wednesday but that didn’t happen. Boo. I’ve got some antibiotics off the owners of the resort as well as some pain killers – they stock a few different things for occasions like this. The nearest doctor or chemist is a few hours boat trip away! So my ear is almost better now, still some pain and discomfort and it is pretty much blocked all the time. We had postponed our dive until Saturday, but it looks as though I won’t be 100% by then (tomorrow morning) so I will have to pass, I’m not able to equalise the pressure in that ear. Anita is going to do it though, as it is a shark feeding dive! You simply drop down to about 20 meters and hold onto a rope. Then the drop in a wheelie bin (yes a rubbish collection from the side of the road wheelie bin) of fish off-cuts and other things into the sea and the sharks eat! Above you! I am gutted that I will be missing it, and it is a good example of how you should do things when you can, as we decided against it last Saturday because we had our champagne breakfast from winning the quiz. Silly us. Or silly me.

It’s been interesting staying here for 12 days, as most people are only here for three or four days, at most a week or 10 days at a long stretch. So we’ve made lots of friends and then waved them all goodbye as they leave! It’s the people arriving about now that are the ones that will be on our boat back to Nadi on Monday. Which means that we do not have long to go on our year long trip out of England! This must be week 51 (Anita will have to consult her diary and let me know for certain!) as we are out of the country for a little under a year. Left on the 15th and will arrive back on the 11th. And today is the 6th. Five days and then it’s unpacking the house, spoiling Pepper and seeing friends and family for the first time in a year.

It’s going to be fun!

8th August
Today has not been the best day ever. The tide was really low so G and I decided to go for a snorkel along the reef, unfortunately there was a big wave which pushed me over some coral and as the water was so shallow I got attacked by the coral on my legs and chest. As I was bleeding we thought it best not to stay in the water as we know sharks like these waters! I have spent the day applying iodine to make sure it doesn’t get infected etc. Gerald’s ear is now much better but instead he felt a bit nauseous in the afternoon and then to top it all I got stung on the foot by some horrid creature!

Yesterday was a much different story though….I went ahead and did the shark feeding even though Gerald wasn’t able to. The boat ride out to the site was very choppy and my dive buddy was feeling quite sea sick, I had taken sea sickness tablets as at breakfast I had noticed it looked a bit rough far out and didn’t want to risk feeling ill. We went down a drop line to about 12m and then watched as the dive instructor emptied the wheelie bin of fish off-cuts onto the sea bed. There was a frenzy of fish feeding, fish of all colours and sizes including a couple of enormous grouper. We also had the company of a HUGE moray eel with a head the same size as mine! He grabbed a massive fish and took it back into his hiding hole. Suddenly 2 white tip reef sharks appeared. After some time they were joined by 2 black tip reef sharks that were a little bigger than the white tips. People’s air started to get low and 2 of our group had to surface and just as they got out the sharks we had been waiting for appeared. Two 3m long lemon sharks arrived and completely took over the feeding area. They were much bigger than the reef sharks and circled around the whole area passing just metres away from us. They were very impressive looking creatures. A great experience.
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So now the travels are over, tomorrow we get our plane back home – wow a year has gone quickly!

Posted by bumblebum 02:33 Comments (1)

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.....

We are leaving NZ

semi-overcast 16 °C

Our six months in NZ are pretty much over. We have just a few days left before heading to Fiji.

In the last week or so we have been saying our goodbyes. This weekend we went to Hamilton and on the Saturday we spent time with our friends Daisy and Alwin and their very cute little, girl Maddy. Alwin owns a big herd of dairy cows so G donned a pair of overalls and gum boots (wellies) to help out. Definition of 'help out': stand around watching whilst drinking a bottle of beer!!!!
Sunday was a visit to see Myrtle (G's nan) in her nursing home, then off to his brother Alan to give him a tutorial on Facebook and finally a delicious pub lunch where we were joined by all the Hamilton family members - 14 of us in total (just a tiny selection of G's family!).

After 3 sessions and about 9 hours of work with Dan @ Ballastic Tattoo in Auckland, Gerald's tattoo is finally finished and is looking great. Now it is driving him crazy as it heals, itching non stop!!!
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Gerald has just 2 days left of work and is looking forward to finishing. I have been doing all the boring admin stuff to keep myself busy - sorting out shipping back to the UK, filing tax returns (very impressed with the IRD - money was in my account within about 3 days of filing the return!!!), contacting the utility companies - you get the idea!

Tonight we have to pack as our box is being collected tomorrow to go on it's 11 week journey back to the UK. Saturday night we are having our leaving drinks in the city and Sunday we are moving out of the apartment so we can give it a good clean on the Monday before handing the keys back to the landlord. We will miss our cute apartment and city living, it has been a great base for our 6 months here.

We are getting excited about Fiji - country number 9 for this trip and a new country for both us. We arrive there on Tuesday afternoon and the weather forecast is saying it will be around 80 degrees so we are happy about that! Auckland winters are far milder than those in the UK, many days are blue -skied and sunny and the days are much longer than in the UK which makes a difference. Saying that we are really looking forward to wearing beach gear again and swimming in warm waters. Our resort looks great , http://www.bluelagoonbeachresort.com.fj/gallery - it came highly recommended to us by friends so I am sure it will be as good as it looks.

Not sure if we will have much internet access from Fiji so this could be the last blog for some time......

Posted by bumblebum 16:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

A lighthouse, party and hundreds of seals

and a tattoo or 2!!!!

sunny 10 °C

This week was the first week of the school holidays - I didn't do an awful lot.
The estate agent sent round a hoard of people to view the flat as we move out of here in 2 weeks, I had lunch with G a couple of times, went to the gym and on Tuesday I got a tattoo done as a little reminder of my time here. It is based on traditional Maori bone/greenstone carvings - an eternity twist (representing paths of life and love) with a koru inside it (representing peace, tranquility and spirituality) it is at the top of my thigh so fairly hidden. G then went on Thursday and had one of his existing tattoos enlarged, at the moment it is only partly done, he has another 2 sessions to do before it will be complete. CIMG3719.jpgCIMG3749.jpg
This weekend we headed to Wellington for Gerald's sister Alison's 50th birthday. We flew out Saturday morning and headed straight to Alison's where a lot of the family had already gathered, we had a lovely lunch together and then Gerald and I went to get Kirsten from the airport as she was spending the weekend here too. We drove up Mount Victoria for the views of Wellington as the sun was setting CIMG3751.jpg then we headed to our lighthouse accommodation which was so gorgeous! The lighthouse is in Island Bay and had 3 levels - downstairs was the kitchen and bathroom, then the bedroom and finally the top floor had a double futon and the most amazing views of the bay as it is totally glass all round.CIMG3831.jpgCIMG3842.jpg It was equipped with everything you might need and had a fully stocked fridge for breakfast with bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatos, orange, fruit, yoghurts, bread and pikelets! We ate just about everything between us and would recommend it to anyone as a great place to stay if you are in Wellington. The man who owns it also owns 'The Keep' which is like a mini castle so we are planning on checking that out on a future visit!
The venue for the party (The Pines) was lovely. All of G's siblings were there which doesn't happen very often CIMG3803.jpg as well as lots of other family members. Alison had arranged for a photo booth to be set up so everybody had to visit the booth and then the photos were put in an album and everybody left a message, a really good idea! We ate, drank and danced and had a great night.
On the Sunday we went for a walk along the coast to the Red Rocks, an area famous for it's male seal colony. The weather was fantastic - sunny and no wind at all, very unusual for Wellington! We found the seals - there were hundreds of them!!! Pretty much every rock had one basking in the sunshine!
CIMG3862.jpgCIMG3858.jpgCIMG3853.jpg The afternoon was spent in the city with a wander round the shops and a visit to Te Papa museum before heading back for dinner at Alison's and then the airport.
A lovely weekend :-)

Posted by bumblebum 17:25 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

AllBlacks, Bill Bailey and Roller Skate Cars!

An update from New Zealand

sunny 16 °C

So it was true...the insurance did pay us $5000 for a car we bought for $4500!!!! We are guessing that the car getting written off was a case of 'every cloud has a silver lining'. There is no way we would have got that much for it by selling it and we would have had all the hassle of trying to sell it before we leave but not too soon so we would be without a car. As I had quite a few jobs pre-booked I hired a little car (the Roller Skate as G calls it!!!) for just $19 a day so the excess money from insurance paid for that.

I'm pretty sure my working days are over for this trip, schools broke up for the holidays today for the next 2 weeks and I doubt there will be any calls the first couple of days back and then we are off to Fiji. So no work for me until September 1st when I return to my UK school. I am looking forward to having my own class again although I have had a little taster the last 2 weeks as I was covering a honeymoon and had the same class of year 2 and 3 children everyday. They were a lovely class and it was mostly event free, although I had a new child start on my first day and by the 3rd day he had been suspended!!! He had a big file accompanying him to the school and I had been pre warned that he was a 'troubled' child - he didn't disappoint! I had a nice send off today and was told to get in touch if and when we return to NZ as they would be happy to have me there if a job was going.

Hopefully the weather will be nice during the holidays, today was sunny, warm (16degrees) and blue skies. It is amazing to think it is the middle of winter, I was just in a T-shirt and jeans during play time.

Last weekend we had another trip to Hamilton as G had tickets for the All Blacks v Wales game. I stayed at David and Eriko's and helped to entertain the children with Mary while the other's were at the game. Gerald finally got to see a team he supports win a match!!!!!! Mind you it has been over 50 years since Wales won a game against the All Blacks, imagine the stick he would have got if they had lost!

Tuesday was 3 years since Gerald and I met so we celebrated by having a delicious meal at the sky tower and followed that by going to see Bill Bailey live in Auckland City. He was well worth going to see and definately made us laugh the whole way through.

Not much else to report at the moment.....hope everyone is well and happy.
xxx

Posted by bumblebum 21:37 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

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