Sunday, 12 February 2017

I worked in an icecream van for a week

Sitting on my bed feeling sorry for myself as I have a huge stye on my eye and I can't see out of it and I had to leave my friend's engagement party early last night because I was just winking at everyone accidentally because my eye was so sore. Anyway it's a good excuse to write a blogpost though aye!

PS I am tired and can't see properly and can't be bothered to check this post for mistakes etc....good luck reading it.

Lots to catch up on....

A few weekends ago:

Saturday was spent doing a nice wee walk in the Waitaks followed by lunch at a cafe.  Randomly bumped into my friend from work on the walk - you bump into people in the oddest places out here.  On Sunday Camilla and I took a ferry across to Motutapu island and did some volunteering in the nursery for the Motutapu Restoration Trust.  I cycled down to the ferry and inadvertendly tied my bike up next to someone who had a really whizzy lock - basically every time you even breathed on their bike a bloody alarm would go off which was embarrassing to say the least as it looked like i was trying to steal their bike when actually I was just locking mine next to it.  Added protection measure for mine though after I managed to lock it up and set off their alarm 5 times.

Anyway we got the ferry across and hopped in a ute who took us up to the nursery, where we joined a bunch of very silent and serious people who were repotting trees from small plastic containers into bigger plastic bags.  We were a bit worried that we'd be working in silence all day and no one seemed very friendly but eventually we managed to get everyone talking (apart from this one very serious woman who I didn't see smile all day).   Camilla is very good at getting people to open up!  The lady I was working next to was pretty phenomenal - she's in her 70s and 3 years a widow but lives in a farm with horses and her children.  She had lived a bloody good life and was still very active - I want to be like her when I am older!!

After a bit of a hairy start we ended up having a really nice day and chatting to lots of people.  As an added bonus we got a free sausage sizzle and slice of cake at the end - tops!  And on the ferry home I very briefly saw a Little Blue Penguin :)

The following week had 2 bank holidays in a row and I wanted to do something to make the most of them.  Originally I looked at going to Samoa but I wanted to wwoof so that I didn't spend any money, but no one replied to my requests.  Eventually I found a place in NZ that had space for woofers for that week - and so began my week away in Whangamata working in an ice cream van :)

The moment I arrived I felt very welcome and at home - Doug and Inger and their daughter Nadia are very friendly and laid back, and Inger is from the UK so was happy to have a fellow Brit with her.  I was also working with 3 other woofers - 2 french girls called Alice and Laura, and another Brit called Chewy who were all really lovely and we had a great week together.

Working in an icecream van is definitely not my ideal job, and there was no till so I had to ADD UP IN MY HEAD which meant I was making terrible mistakes like giving a guy $10 too much change. Luckily he was honest about it! But we only did it for a max 5 hours a day before heading off to the beach most evenings for sea swims, wharf jumping and bodyboarding.  It was such a treat being able to go swimming in the sea every day.  In the middle of the week we were all given 2 days off as the town wasn't busy enough for the ice cream van to be out and Doug had other stuff to do, so one of the days we drove to Onemana and found a deserted beach to relax on for the morning.  We spent the afternoon trying to surf.  It was a bit of a disaster - the tide was out and the waves gnarly and big, and none of the surfboards were nice big beginner ones so I don't think any of us managed to do anything that even resembled surfing.  I took a particularly bad tumble and managed to snap one of the fins off the board, oops!  Real fruit ice cream is awesome - does it exist in the UK? I feel like it doesn't - but basically it's frozen berries squished and mushed through the machine below and mixed with vanilla ice cream. Comes out in a nice little swirl like a Mr Whippy.

Oops broke a fin

Octopus Bay - our own private beach

Some cows I tried to make friends with near the house

That night we experienced our first meditative chant - the family are quite spiritual and regularly have a bunch of people from town come round theirs with musical instruments, then they jam and sing mantras.  It was quite cool - I felt very uncomfortable at first but joined in aftr a while.  Still didn't feel very relaxed though haha.  It was interesting to experience though - they all got such happiness from it which I can understand as I feel happy when I sing so I think it's a similar thing, expect they believe the mantras they sing have more meaning than just words and get power and strength from them.

The following day we took a drive out to Karangahake Gorge and did 2 walks out that way, stopping in Waihi on the way for some lunch.  One of the walks involved walking through the longest tunnel I have ever walked through which was pretty cool! We then drove back to Whangamata and it was low tide so Chewy and I walked across to Clark Island, one of 3 islands off the coast.  The island is accessible via a sand bar at low tide which makes for a ice little adventure.

A couple of days Chewy and I did gardening instead of ice cream van work - we strung up some sad looking tomato plants in the greenhouse, weeded another greenhouse and weeded the hill.  I found it strangely satisfying!

I usually had some time before work - one day we did an outdoor yoga session which was a great way to start the day.  Another time I took a walk out to a waterfall, and another day I went to Whiritoa beach which is a very tiny town with a gorgeous beach.

Waking up early to watch the sunrise

Whiritoa beach

On my last day we went to the RSA (Kiwi version of a working men's club type thing except not because it's meant to be for retired army people) for a Beatles tribute band concert which was very random but a lot of fun.  Everyone there was over 50 pretty much and really enjoying themselves, it was great!!

I had a really lovely time and it was hard to say bye to Doug, Inger and Nadia - they felt like family after the week I spent with them.  I can't thank them enough for being such awesome people.

Mohana the cat

The bus I lived on for a week

Discovered I can do long panoramas

I came back on Waitangi day, another bank holiday so I spent most of it in the garden working on my tan and sweating my tits off.  Actually that just reminded me, I got an eye full of sweat and sunlotion in the same eye I now have a stye, so maybe that caused it.  Hmm.

On Tuesday I went to "Nerd Nite Auckland" which is a really cool concept, apparently it's global so if you like learning you should try find one where you live!  Someone basically finds a venue and arranges speakers and people go and watch and it's totally free - this one I went to my friend Renee was speaking about climbing at it, and another guy was a lecturer at a uni and he was discussing the tsunami that occurred after the Kaikoura earthquake last year.  It was really interesting and reignited my love of learning and geography.  Sam has a new friend called Adnaan and he came along too so we hung out in the carpark afterwards feeling proper cool and teenage like.

I have started to learn spanish again -there was a cheap deal for lessons in Auckland so I have signed up for an 8 week course on Wednesday evenings, with the first one last week.  I was a bit nervous as I signed up for the intermediate, but it turns out it was the right level (well so far, one lesson in!).  Loads of people on the course too so hopefully I'll make more friends on the course.

On Thursday Ben, Sam, Adnaan, Camilla, Amy and I went to see a really weird theatre show called Onstage Dating - basically it's this lady who goes round on tinder trying to get people to go on a live date with her on stage.  3 guys who were meant to show didn't so she ended up going on a date with this old guy at the back of the audience - it was all very weird and we couldn't work out if it was real or if he was an actor.  She proceeded to ask him random questions from this list, play Twister, then stripped to her underwear on stage in a bed and encouraged him to do the same, which he awkwardly did.  Then she planted herself onto him whilst dressed in a bee costume then faked her death and exited the stage. WHAT.  We were a bit flabbergasted and sat on a bench for an hour outside trying to work out what we'd just watched. WEIRD.

Also on Thursday I had the most fun day at work ever.  Well sort of.  We had an annual team meeting with all the bosses and our teams and that was a bit dull.  I closed my eyes at one point as my contacts were drying my eyes but the presenter spotted me and called me out which was embarrassing. Later on, as someone was presenting, my phone's OK Google feature decided to pipe up with "I'm sorry, I couldn't make out what you were saying.  Please repeat it" super loudly.  Embarrassment times two.

However in the avo we had a really fun team building activity whereby we were put into 4 teams.  As an overall group we had to make a famous landmark out of cans, but each group of 4 was tasked with building a quarter of it.  We also had tasks to do like sudokus, karaoke, logic puzzles to gain extra building materials such as paper, pens, scissors etc.

We chose to make the Colosseum and I think we did a pretty bloody good job if I do say so myself!  At the end we had to give a little presentation on what we built and I was chosen from my team to do a schpiel about ours - I made up a little story which got some laughs.  Somehow our team won (we sadly didn't win the building aspect) but we managed to get points for being tidy and completing lots of tasks, so we were stoked about that.

On Friday I had a really random evening - our friends Renee and Yann got engaged!  We all knew it was coming as we all received an invite to an event on facebook called 'a night to remember' and so everyone was like 'ah they're announcing their engagement' but when asked, Renee was none the wiser about it and said it was just a pre valentines party.  Anyway it turns out that Yann had been planning on asking her to marry him for a while and planned to live stream it over facebook to a private group of friends and family, so for the last 2 months he'd been desensitizing Renee to facebook livestream by doing it at every opportunity much to her and everyone on his facebook feed's bemusement.

Anyway Sam and Dan found out about his plan, managed to get an invite to the private group and invited me round on Fri eve to watch it - we set up a projector in the lounge and watched him pop the question. Very cute but slightly awkward!

On Saturday morning I drove up to Ti Point and after a slight adventure of boulder jumping as I went the wrong way, joined Ben, Dan, Adnaan and a bunch of randomers doing some outdoor climbing.  It's a really awesome crag - right on the shoreline so you're essentially climbing sea cliffs.  I've been meaning to do an outdoor climb for a while so this was the perfect opportunity.  I only did one climb and I found it terrifying - my legs were shaking each time I made a move and when I got to the top I was in genuine danger of vomitting on Dan's head.  But it was good and I am glad I forced myself to experience it - it's much more different to indoor climbing.  Every hole is a goal - there's no set route and you have to feel your way round the rock for hand and footholds rather than a set route like in indoor climbing.

I climbed the one with the rope on the right

this is my 'I'm trying not to look scared' face

On the walk back we jumped into the sea for a cooling dip (I love that you can do that over here - I didn't have my bikini so jumped in my underwear, then drove back in a towel, making an icecream stop on the way - perfectly acceptable behaviour!) then had a rush to get ready for Renee and Yann's night to remember/engagement party.  It was really nice to see everyone in the same room again - we haven't done anything as a group since before christmas so was good to catch up.  However I was squinting at everyone and in pain so left at 10.30 leaving everyone to boogyondown without me. Sad!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A visitor

My friend Ben (he’s been featured previously here, when he met me for a quick South roadtrip) lives in Sydney and we have been trying to arrange a Sydney meet up for a while now.  Each date we’ve suggested hasn’t worked out, to the point that it’s become predictable! So imagine my surprise when last week he says ‘sorry, my parents are out then so I have to entertain them. But how about I come to Auckland this weekend?’.  This weekend being 4 days away!

I had no other plans so said yes and started planning what we could do for 3 days.

Ben’s the kind of person who’s really good to have as a friend – not only is he very easy going and hilarious, he is up for anything!  So I texted him a variety of activities we could do on the weekend, and he said yes to them all – woohoo!

So first off, we got up and headed to Tawharanui to hire some surfboards and shred some waves. That makes me sound so cool – if only you could see me try and surf and you’d realise very soon I’m not very cool at all.  Unfortunately the waves were mostly non existent, so my attempt at practicing what I’d learnt in my lesson a few weeks previously wasn’t great.  However, we had just as much fun by trying to do yoga positions on the boards!!! This was very fun and very hard and we spent more time in the water than on the board, but we both managed to do a high plank to low plank to cobra to downward facing dog before falling in.  Proud!

We spent the afternoon faffing on the beach, bumped into Amy and Colin who were christening their brand new kayak (ewww not that sort of christening) before heading home for dinner and predrinking - readying ourselves for the thing I was most excited about ever – Fat Freddy’s Drop!!!! They are one of my favourite bands and it had been my intention to see them whilst I am in New Zealand (they’re a kiwi band so fitting to see them here).  Tickets had been on sale for ages but I wasn’t sure if I was going to go because a) they were expensive and b) no one would come with me because they were expensive.  So remember when I said Ben was up for anything….he agreed to come see Fat Freddy’s with me even though he hadn’t really heard of them. What a LEGEND.

Anyway so we predrunk some wine which got me pretty tipsy, and jumped into an Uber to take us to Villa Maria winery where the gig was held.  This is such a random spot – it’s a winery right next to the airport and surrounded by industrial estates.  But you walk through the gates and are surrounded by vineyards and lush green grass and bushes and you totally forget you’re next to an airport in a rubbish part of Auckland.

We arrived just before they got on stage and I was so ridiculously excited.  Ben was such a great person to go to the gig with – you know when you go to gigs with people and they’re not really sure or keen on the music and so are a bit self conscious so you feel like you can’t really enjoy it either – well Ben was the total opposite of that and we were bopping away all night.  I even got to sit on his shoulders which was sooooo good because you can see so much from up there!  

It was such an awesome gig - the vibe, the venue, the people, the band - I was on cloud 9 for the entire thing.  We both needed a wee but didn't want to stop dancing it was that good. 

I would have loved for the night to go on forever but sadly all good things have to come to an end, and we bumped into my friend from work at a very well timed place on our way out of the gates - he offered us a lift home and we all squeezed into his car.  They dropped us off at a chinese restaurant on Dominion road so we walked the rest of the way back, stopping in at the Scientology place on the way as it was still open at 1am and we were drunk and curious.  Apparently too drunk for the free personality test they advertise, but the bloke in there was good natured and told us that the body is a vessel for your spirit and we're all capable of unlocking our super powers. I can see why people get sucked in.

The next day we had a cruisy tourist day.  Ben (other Ben, now called Benji for the sake of this blog post, the one who lives here) was doing a bungee jump off the Auckland harbour bridge and wanted some moral support, so we went and watched him.  We got hooked up on a harness and wore helmets for health and safety, and walked along underneath the bridge to a little pod where everyone jumps from.  It took ages as there was about 15 people jumping but we didn't mind as it's really interesting watching the emotions everyone goes through - some people just jump and don't hesitate and others freak out and need a lot of coaxing (I expect I would be the latter).  Benji was the former and was pretty hyped before and after and said it was the most fun thing he'd ever done! 

Afterwards we had some lunch at a random Thai place in town, then climbed some trees in Albert Park.  We walked up Queen Street to show Ben Auckland's version of Oxford St (it's not really any comparison) then popped into the Civic Theatre at Benji's suggestion as neither of us had been in - we were a bit naughty and kept walking as no one stopped us and ended up on stage as there was a sort of tour on that we snuck on the end of.  It was cool! 

Benji left to go home and me and Ben drove to Amy and Colin's place to play board games and dinner, before driving back home and collasping into bed as we were pretty tired from all of our shenanigans.

On Ben's last day we drove out to the Waitakeres and did a walk around Bethell's Lake - silly me forgot my shoes (who does that!) and had to do the walk barefoot which was mostly fine but some of the path was gravel which was a bit sore.  It's a cool walk to show people as the first 25 mins is walking through a stream to the lake, then you walk round the lake which is pretty then you can go either back over black sand dunes or through the lake again - we chose the lake as the sand dunes were boiling hot.

We stopped for a late lunch at an awesome cafe called Elevation - so called as it has a wicked view across the Waitaks across to Auckland CBD, then we drove to the airport where I promised to come to Sydney (assuming we can find working dates!)

It was a very last minute spontaneous trip and made for an awesome weekend!