Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Weekend adventures

As per usual this is a very delayed post with loads to cover...I'll try start in chronological order! ALSO my main distraction at the moment is the new season of Orange is the New Black  - oh my gosh it's so good, can someone leave a comment about what they think of it? This season is so dark but also so funny and a bit over the top...

- One Sunday afternoon I took myself for a drive down to Manukau Heads - it looked interesting on the map so I headed down and was very happy I did - once I got out of central Auckland the countryside was gorgeous.  I stopped on the way up to have a pee in a field and met some super friendly cows who let me stroke and feed them grass, then headed on upwards to the lighthouse.  It's one of the only lighthouses open to the public, it's only tiny inside but you get nice views (as you should!) from the top.

- One of Amy's friends, Julia, organised a girls night out which was a lot of fun. It was a nice chance to get dressed up and go out dancing - we started with a dinner in a restaurant then headed to Family Bar on K Road, which was my first gay bar experience. Me and Clemence ended up being the backing dancers for the karaoke (my first karaoke in NZ!) and had a lot of fun.

- Had a work night out with my new team - they throw socials every quarter, we went to an Escape room which was fun but very hard - the people who ran it actually stopped the clock a few times for us!! I think once you get going it gets easier but it's hard to know where to start. We also played pool for 3 hours but I was rubbish - considering I had played a few days before on a date where I beat the guy....i guess you can't win them all.

- I went camping with a guy I met off Tinder (the one I beat at pool) - a bit risky and could have been a total disaster but I told him beforehand I was only interested in friendship and I figured it wasn't that weird to go camping with total strangers as that's what I did when I was travelling anyway.  The weekend was really good fun - he owns a 4x4 which I got to drive on the beach and through a river, and there was a wolf dog, and sausages and burgers and beer. I plucked up the courage to boogyboard down the steepest sand dune I ever saw and loved it so much I went again - but on my second time I accidentally let go of the boogy board and it blew all the way to the bottom which was annoying.

- The week just passed is Matariki, which marks the start of the Maori new year.  Lots of light festivals were being held in its honour around Auckland and i managed to get to 2 of them - basically a food market with cool light installations.  A few of us headed onto the North Shore and went to one, we ended up sitting underneath one installation on bean bags until it gave me a headache, then headed to the pub - it was a really nice chilled out evening with a bunch of people who didn't know each other very well but everyone hit it off :-)

- Florian came to stay with me on his way to Australia - I worked with him in Kinloch so it was super nice to catch up with him again.  We went on a hike in Piha with Justine which was beautiful, and on Justine's last night in New Zealand (she's left to continue on her cycling journey - she's currently cycling solo in Malaysia the brave little beast) we went to her house where she cooked us pizzas and we had a lot of fun on snapchat.

- We had an awesome impromptu BBQ on the new BBQ I acquired from freecycle - we managed to get quite a few people come round at last minute and had a really nice evening.

- Went to an Auckland night market for the first time - they're awesome! Held in covered carparks, they have tons of food trucks and a few stalls selling jewellery. I felt like I was in Thailand again!

I think that's pretty much it...job's going well, feeling more settled in it, I just need to work on my mission of finding a Kiwi guy to marry so I can stay here forever......

Saturday, 9 July 2016

6 Months in New Zealand

Last Tuesday was my six month anniversary of being away from home and in New Zealand.  I wanted to do a post about it but never got round to it, so here it is.  It's a lot of disorganised verbal diarrhoea that when I was planning the post in my head, sounded really good, but re-reading it, it's just babble.

When I think back to Dec 28th 2015 it makes me laugh.  Once I got on the plane my tears mostly dried up and I sat there sniffling and trying to get the redness off my face, I felt quite calm and collected.  Not quite excited, but calm and in control.  I landed 36 hours later and Amy picked me up and we went for a walk up One Tree Hill with her friend Stef and the sun was shining and I felt like I was on holiday.  After we went for a burger and brought it back to her house and as I sat eating it, I suddenly felt really homesick and sad and 'what the fuck have I done' and I nearly almost couldn't eat the burger but it smelt so good I shoved it all down anyway.   I think that's the only time I felt a bit wobbly about my decision to come out here - and I can count on one hand the amount of times I have had a bad day since being here (and they mostly all involve boys, so that'd happen anywhere!)

I've got to say I am very proud of myself.  I never thought travelling was for me - when I did the 6 week stint in Asia a couple of years ago I was ready to come home after 4 weeks and annoyed at living out of a backpack.  I have very much surprised myself.  But my style has adapted and I know what I do and don't like.

I didn't have much of a plan when I first came out here but in my head I was going to buy bus passes and travel from town to town and stay in hostels for maybe a few weeks then get a job in Auckland. The moment I bought my car in Picton everything changed - so many possibilities opened up and I felt much more independent and free.  Meeting the Dutch guys changed things further, they introduced me to NZ camping which I have now fallen in love with, and I would now rather sleep in a tent than a dorm room.  We often wouldn't know where we were pitching our tents until 4pm that day, normally I'd freak out about not having a plan but it's perfectly do-able over here.  I was quite happy with my routine back home - maybe happy isn't the word, comfortable maybe.  Out here I have slept in over 30 different beds, owned 2 cars, had 4 different jobs and called 3 different places home in the space of 6 months. I have learnt I am very adaptable to change.

I have also learnt I actually quite like people, which was a bit of a shock to me!  Back home meeting new people was almost a chore - I guess I didn't feel hugely comfortable in my skin and for some reason when I met new people I assumed I didn't have much to give and they wouldn't be that bothered by me so I would automatically put up my guard and not be bothered by them either - I just wasn't very open to meeting new people.  Out here, I have HAD to meet new people otherwise I'd have been very lonely indeed - and I think I have made more friends in the last 6 months than I have in my entire life! I have humans I can call my friends in Austria, Holland, Germany, Norway, Spain, New Zealand , America and Australia. I've kept in contact with many of them and the best part is I keep bumping into people I know as NZ is so small - the other day I bumped into a girl I went clubbing in Dunedin with, in Waiheke! It's a small place.

Working in the cafe and shop in Glenorchy also made me realise I like working with people - I really enjoyed customer interaction every day.  New Zealand has also opened me up to a whole new culture - people are so nice and trusting out here and in return you slowly become that way too.  I will never forget the hospitality I have received from people like Wayne and Jayne (haha, that rhymes) - absolute strangers opening their homes up to other strangers to make their lives easier - I definitely want to repay the favour to other travellers when I am in a position to do so.

I am getting quite settled in Auckland, which I don't really want to do.  It's amazing how quickly you adjust to new situations and get comfortable - there's so many places I want to explore and travel to, which when I was travelling seemed do-able, but now I am settled I am thinking 'ahh but now I have a room, and furniture, and a car, and a job' which is what put me off travelling for so long in the UK - all the things that were tying me down (that actually weren't tying me down at all - it was just my attitude to it all).  I need to remember that I can just quit everything at any time and leave again - I've done it before and it was easy, so I can do it again! But it is so easy to find obstacles in your way when you have a roof over your head and good friends to root you in place.  I also need to remember it's so easy to make friends when you're travelling - because of the very nature of what you're doing, you come into contact with people who you automatically have travelling in common with, and these people all tend to be open minded like yourself, so you don't come across any idiot bigots, and everyone wants to make friends with you because they also don't know anyone.  It's great! If only it were that easy to make friends back home!!

Leaving the UK was the best decision I have ever made and I am slightly scared to go back - I know out here I have grown as a person and become so much more confident than I ever was back home, just little things like I rarely feel nervous about stuff anymore - starting a new job was a breeze - I just take things in my stride now and worry less.  I think I am way more chilled out and more of a 'yes' person.  I am concerned that when I go back home I'll just revert back to my old self, but hopefully I won't!

Anyways I know the blog and my facebook have made it look like New Zealand is the best place ever, so I thought it is only fair to be honest about a few things.  Here's a quick list I have made of things that aren't so great.  Be aware - it may change everything.

Things New Zealand isn't great for

  • Chocolate biscuits.  No one does a chocolate digestive like McVities.  The NZ versions just aren't the same,
  • Traffic lights.  They don't seem to be intelligent, and are just on timers. You can be waiting for bloody ages for them to change as they don't seem to take into account traffic flow. 
  • On that note - people going on green lights. Everyone is too chill here so the light'll go green and they'll sit there for a few seconds before taking off. HURRY UP I AM FROM LONDON AND ALWAYS IN A RUSH
  • Central heating.  THERE IS NONE! WHAT! This place gets cold for 6 months of the year. (Well the South Island does, and North island gets a little bit cold for a little bit).  A lot of the houses aren't even insulated properly and everyone has portable electric or gas heaters, Madness.
  • I never thought I'd say this, having suffered London transport for 6 years, but...I miss it!! Auckland and NZ in general has nothing of the same quality and breadth.  If you want to travel over the bridge to the North Shore (a mere 20k), you have to get about 5 billion busses and pay $10, get a taxi, or drive yourself.  Oh or a boat, but then you have to get to the boat station in the first place.  If you want to get from my house to south Auckland, you have to take 2 trains and it can take up to 2 hours depending on train times.
  • Historical architecture. Or just architecture.  Everything's new.  The only thing I do like is the old wooden villas, they're cute.  But I do miss European cities and old English villages with stone walls and straw roofs.
  • Squash (the drink).  Just doesn't exist over here unless you want to spend a fortune in the international aisle.  I want my Robinson's dammit! 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Going wild in Waiheke

To distract myself from the terrible, terrible decision the UK made last week, I am going to try and catch up with the ol' blog.

So, first things first, I have a new job! I got a call to say that my contract with the property company was coming to an end sooner than they thought as they found a permanent replacement, so I had a panicked Thursday afternoon spent job hunting (which I did at work, so was getting paid to job hunt, woot!) and by the end of the day secured an interview on Friday and 2 on Monday - sweet! By Friday lunchtime I was re-employed as a Business Support Officer for ANZ, which is one of the largest banks in NZ and I would be working at their HQ in the CBD - so I was pretty happy with that! It's a good experience and will look good on my CV, and it's for 3 months so gives me a bit more stability than temping for a few weeks at a time.

Because I had to do security checks and stuff I had a week gap before I started work, so I treated it like a mini holiday.  On Monday I ditched one interview as it was for a recruiter, and went to the other one - a really awesome company called Sidekicker.  Essentially they're a recruitment agency but with a twist - it's a platform where employers advertise for workers, and the work is often events type stuff where they need people on an adhoc basis for an hour or two to set up an event, as well as more longer term positions.  You go to an interview with Sidekicker and they check you're kosher, take your photo and help you create a profile on their website which employers get access to.  It sounded like a lot of fun so I have signed up and already worked a shift where I assisted a photo booth at an event. It was really fun and a bit of extra pocket money.

The new job is OK - I started on Monday and getting access and set up on systems has been a bit of a pain so far, so I haven't had much work to do.  But the team are really friendly which is such a nice change from the last job - people have been coming up to me all week and introducing themselves which is lovely. And there's a fit boy too. And more fit boys on other floors. I need to find a fit boy to marry so I can stay here forever and not have to go back to the stupid UK.  The offices are nice and so far my job has entailed putting out biscuits every morning (I get to choose what biscuits everyone eats throughout the day - it makes me feel very powerful), and putting out beers and wine on Friday afternoon.  I am hoping that I will get a bit more responsibility and do something a bit more technical...

view from the office - though rare to see sun the last few weeks!

i love this pic. pretty proud of it, reflection of the sky tower on my way to work

another view from my office

and another view from my office - not quite as exciting

my building

Also I can't believe I didn't start the blog with this - I have my own room!!! An actual bedroom with a door and 2 windows and a bed and somewhere to put my clothes. IT IS SO EXCITING!  Amy's spare room finally became free so it's now mine, wooo!!!  I made some art work for it which I copied off a print I saw on Pinterest and then cut out bits of coloured card and stuck them together to create this:

I am really happy with it but I can't work out how to display it - I blutacked it to the wall and it fell off at night time and gave me a fright.

I am pleased with my bargain hunting - my bed is made of free pallets I got from the street, my mattress cost me $50 from Shanyn, my bedding is from Anja and op shops, I got a make up mirror from the dollar store, my bedside table is a tiny chair from a thift shop for $5 - I feel like I never need to spend a lot of money on anything ever again! (wait - this isn't a new thing)  NZ op shops are awesome, I have probably bought the majority of my wardrobe for under $50 from the op shops.   Pallets are the way forward - so useful! Shanyn recently made a coffee table from them and it looks awesome. I am hoping he'll make me a book shelf to go at the end of my bed...

Anyways back to the title of the post - a few weekends back we went to Waiheke! Waiheke is a little island 40 mins ferry ride from Auckland harbour, known for its wine and activities.  We went with the rest of the climbing crew and had a nice time - we hired a bach on the beach, drank lots, played strip table football, and then played sardines in the dark in our underwear (honestly Amy is such a pervert) did wine tasting, went for a nice walk.  We found the most amazing long grass and pretended we were tigers and climbed lots of trees.  It was a good weekend!

Other things I have been up to...hmmm.....went for a nice walk out at Bethells Beach again - it's a really pretty coast line.  My petrol ran out on the way there and so had a bit of a panic about whether we'd make it back to the nearest gas station but luckily we did.

I also did a nice little walk through the bush north of Auckland, I don't normally like bush walks but this one was really quite pretty, and I saw tons of Tui, a Morepork and Pukeko - I am all about the native NZ birds at the moment.

And finally last, last week I did tons of exercise, had a 3 day free gym pass so made the most of it!! Me and Justine went and did spin and pilates on Monday (pilates is my new favourite thing, harder than yoga), swimming and yoga on Tuesday and Muay Thai on Wednesday - which was so much fun and I'd like to do again! I think I have a bit of a violent streak in me.

 I have been climbing a few times again - it's been a bit up and down (pahahahahahahah that's the best pun I have made in ages).  I did really well on a Tuesday session and so went along on Thursday and had a weird freak out - I climbed the highest I had ever climbed but on the way down there's a ledge and I got stuck on it and refused to move for what felt like ages as I suddenly got terrified.  I eventually came down and then got stuck again on a kids climb of all climbs!!! I was just scared because it's a weird top rope with no belay, you just have to let go and the rope lets you down gently but I freaked out again.

stuck on a kids climb....

So that wasn't a great session but it did provide the others with a lot of laughs......Then this week when I went I smashed it!! I did the really high climb and didn't freak out, I did a really hard overhang one which I had tried a few times before and not managed, and then I tried a next level climb and managed (with a slight bit of cheating) and then tried a level above that but failed. But I feel like I am becoming a bit more confident and better and stronger :)

I am still a bit out of date and have the whole of last weekend and last week and this weekend to catch up on...but i'll save that for another day!