Friday, 10 March 2017

A really random weekend

So that random weekend I just had (2 weekends ago now).

On Thursday evening Camilla and I went to an open air poetry slam in Aotea Square (Auckland's version of Trafalgar Sq - except about a 10th in size). It was quite good but not amazing.

On Friday evening Camilla was celebrating her birthday a wee bit early and had the most awesome idea for it ever.  We had a pot luck under the stars!  We drove down to Whatipu - the most beautiful beach area an hour out of Auckland, and made it just as the sun was setting.  My gosh the drive was just beautiful - you drive through Huia and it's like a miniature version of Marlborough Sounds, it is stunning. I can't wait to take my kayak out there and explore more.  The sun caught a layer of mist hovering on top of the water which was turning pink in the light - I wish I could have taken photos.

We arrived and rushed down to the beach to meet everyone else sat on a huge tarp.  I went straight to the waterfront and took some photos and stood in the warm water just thinking about how incredibly content I felt and how lucky I was to be able to do this - to leave work on a Friday and hop in the car and drive a little while to the most beautiful spot and watch the sun set on a remote beach with friends.  I almost didn't know what to do with my emotions.  The photos below didn't do it justice.

When the sun set I went back and joined the group and we ate the food everyone had brought and talked and pointed out star constellations.  It was awesome.  At one point me, Adam and a few others went off to find some caves in the dark - I forgot my torch so relied on everyone else's.  We didn't find the cave and it got a bit rocky and I kept hurting my toes so I headed back but they carried on and disappeared for ages.  Just as we were about to leave for the campsite they came back very excitable and turns out they'd found phosphorescents so went for a naked glow in the dark swim. I was SO jealous but no one would go back with me so I have to go back there again and camp sometime soon!!!

Back at the campsite we pitched our tents in the dark and I decided as it was such a warm night not to put the fly on - something I have always wanted to do!  It was brilliant - I got the nicest sleep ever right under the stars but knowing I wasn't going to get bitten my mozzies, and with a gentle warm breeze across my face.  It was a little bit damp in the morning with condensation but apart from that it was such a cool experience and I'd recommend. Assuming you don't need privacy.

We went for a quick swim, then drove back in the morning and I had a few dull chores to run including picking up a mattress and baking some cookies before heading off to my work friend Adeola's babyshower.  This was random - we played twister with balloon babybumps, pin the sperm on the egg and other babyshower party games (I never knew such things existed).  I left and met Ben, Sam and Adnaan at my house and we headed out to the Auckland Pride festival which was pretty cool, nice to see people putting such an effort into something they want to show off and celebrate.  Afterwards Shanyn was having a BBQ at home and he kindly cooked us dinner and Adam served us and we didn't need to lift a finger, it was fab! We ran out of light so had lots of fun pouring glowsticks into a bottle of water (video on my instagram) - it's sooo cool as it's like glow in the dark bubbles. Do it if you're bored.

The following morning was the randomest of them all - I had agreed to be a Princess for my friend at work's daughter's birthday.....I had to dress up in a princess dress and then sit and paint kids faces for an hour. I was half scared half excited - and I actually quite enjoyed it.  Though i thikn I overestimated my face painting skills...I reckon I am pretty good on my own face, but not so great on a small child's face covered in cake and snot that's constantly moving....I ended up doing a bunch of butterflies and rainbows and a unicorn horn for one little girl (when you read unicorn horn, think white triangle with a bit of pink and gold haha).  A boy came up and asked for a dragon, so I told him I could compromise and do a snake instead - he was ever so polite and thanked me profusely which was adorable.  The kids were all really cute actually, and thought I was Cinderella  so I played along and made up stories like I found my shoe that morning which is why I had 2 and not are very observant!!

After that I rushed off to meet Sam, Adnaan, Lachie and Gokul at Woodhill to go mountain biking.  I thought it'd be funny to turn up in the princess dress but it was too hot to wear so I bailed on the idea. This was a beginner MTB challenge set by my friend's company Waywiser (I think I have mentioned this before, but to recap it's like meetup but specifically for outdoor sports, and they have started setting challenges for the site members so every Monday we have been doing the trail run challenges and I won the last one (not because I was fast or anything ut because I encourage everyone to come running with me, haha)).  Anyway turns out we turned up too late to get the whole challenge done so we just did a bit and ended up on intermediate trails and no word of a lie I nearly pooed myself as one part we had to go down a really steep hill and it was a bit scary.   It was fun but exhausting and I felt like I was holding the others back a bit so I left them to do one more trail whilst I headed home via a stop at the icecream shop.

And I think that was all of that weekend - a busy one!

The weekend just gone wasn't quite as action packed but it was good nonetheless.  On Saturday me, Amy and Colin took our kayaks out for a wee trip to Mahurangi Bay.  It's sooooo much fun having your own kayak - you can do whatever you want with it!  We spent a good amount of time floating about in the sea beside our kayaks rather than in them because that's equally as fun, and kayaked across to Mahurangi West where we climbed a tree and kayaked back again. I just mapped it and it was 6ks so not too shabby for an afternoon's work!

I think we're doing it wrong

Wet suit tan lines

On Sunday evening me, Franzi, Shanyn and Ben went to the Stardome Observatory and watched a presentation on the night sky. It was SO COOL and I want to go back and watch the rest of their presentations.  The seats are comfortable reclining ones and you lie back and look above you and they project the night sky onto the ceiling and teach you all about the constellations you can see.  Because we're in the Southern hemisphere we can see a different set of stars to back home so it was really interesting. I love space I do!


It's absolutely pissing it down outside, I just got drenched on the walk home from work, I had a slightly drunk one to one with my colleague in which I bitched about my boss and my previous colleague conquest, and this week had been insanely busy (in a good way) with a bitter sweetness attached to it.

I feel very temporary.  It's been really interesting experiencing Auckland life, a fine balance between planting some shallow roots so I feel at home, but not deep enough ones that I never want to leave.

I am coming up to the time when I need to make some decisions.  It seems some of it has been made for me.  My contract at the bank ends at the end of April.  I was bitching about my boss because I approached him in November last year about putting me onto a fixed term with the bank rather than through my temping agency - that way it's easier for them to offer me a permanent job (less paperwork) and gives me staff benefits like certain bank products.  Plus, probably psychologically I would feel more part of the team. And I wouldn't need to fill in time sheets each week. But really I just wanted them to offer me a permanent job off the back off it.  He said "great idea, I'll look into it".

The following week he said that there was a stipulation in my contract that I had to work for the temping agency for 6 months, which would take me to 20th December.  He would never remember to get the ball rolling on my contract at that time, so he would start looking at the process in January.

January comes and goes, and at the end of it he says that he has spoken with HR, they were giving me a $5ph pay rise and that I can go on a contract until the work period on my visa is up (I can only work for 12 months out of the 23 I am allowed here for).

It takes HR so long to confirm how long I have left allowed to work (even though I provided them with all the details in January) that it goes a bit quiet, and at the end of February my boss, by email, lets me know that I can only work until April 28th.  I ask him what this means, and he says "ah well there's no point putting you on a contract now as there's only a few months left".  I ask if I will get the payrise still and he says "ah forgot about that part. Nah". I express my disappointment and he says "yeah, not much we could do differently though".  I clench my teeth and refrain from saying "yeah you dick, you could have done all the background research back in November when I first asked so you'd be ready to get the ball rolling at the beginning of January, not like my future in this country is at stake now is it!" In typical British fashion, I smile, nod and turn to my PC and carry on working. Urgh.

In one way it's a good thing - mostly I am bored and don't have enough to do, but I also think some of this is because "I am just the temp" and that's how they see me, so they (until now!) haven't got me involved in anything big and gnarly.  In a strange twist, my boss has decided to get his money's worth (finally) and this week I have been stupidly busy.  I have somehow managed to find myself going on different training courses that all teach the same thing (Outlook and structured planning, if you're interested) and comparing them, feeding back to my team about the pros and cons of each and how they could be adapted to create something more specific for our business unit.

I am also involved in a really cool project where we are doing some customer research - I have the slightly boring task of arranging all of the customer interviews and the logistics of getting the consultants and our staff interviewees at the right place at the right time, but also I got to be part of the 'design-thinking' workshop where the consultants told us about the process and we came up with questions and practiced interviewing random people on the street.  I am really grateful to my other colleague for getting me involved in this - I had to do all of the logistic arranging last time but didn't really know what I was doing it for, but this time she's got me really involved and I am allowed to go the meetings and have a say which is really cool.  It's funny -I feel like I understand the bank much better in the last few months even though I have been there for nearly 8 months now.

So back to my decision making.  I am only at the bank for another month and a bit, then I either:

  • find another job that's temporary and spend the rest of my visa working in Auckland (or somewhere else) albeit slightly illegally
  • find another permanent job and get a work visa (hard but potentially do'able but still very hard)
  • find a remote job, one that I can do from anywhere - this is appealing as I could potentially just keep leaving NZ and coming back on a 6 month tourist visa and not have to worry about permanency.  But I don't know how viable a remote job is. Anyone got any experience of it? Or any contacts I can hit up?
  • leave Auckland and travel round NZ again, do some woofing.  Appealing but would be travelling during winter - not so appealing.
  • leave NZ.  Go to Taiwan, South Korea, Northern Vietnam, some Europe, home for Christmas and Lisa's wedding. Maybe stay home, or do a working holiday in Canada. Or go work in Europe. 

SO MANY OPTIONS and I don't know what to do.  One day I am all 'yeah I wanna travel, so much to see'.  Then the next I am like 'ahh goddamn NZ I love you and want your babies'. (or someone in NZ's babies so I can stay here. I joke. A little bit.)

Anyway this was a bit of a dull post but wanted to write a few things down as sometimes it helps to make sense of them when they're actual words on paper (Screen).  Anyone have any suggestions about what I should do?  It's such a first world problem and I feel guilty for even having it.

My next post which I might even write now if you're lucky will address the 'cliffhanger' (Jen's word) that I left my last post on - the cliffhanger being my weird and wonderful weekend last weekend.  Which is now actually 2 weekends ago - time goes so fast here!

Thursday, 2 March 2017


I have just had the most random weekend and it’s left me pretty pooped, but before I go into that weekend, let’s talk about the one before that – Antisplore!

So there’s a really cool festival called Splore that happens near Auckland every year. We were meant to go but we all left it too late to buy tickets so they were super expensive ($275 compared to $100 something if we’d done early bird) and we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay that much for something.  I suggested we have our own mini festival instead – Colin plays guitar, we can camp somewhere awesome, go near a beach and generally have a brilliant fun camping weekend away – and Antisplore was born!

We decided to return to Opoutere (which Amy had discovered a few months before when we went to Whangamata a few months back).  It has its own pretty remote beach for us to be loud and silly on, it’s surrounded by gorgeous country side, cheap and loads of space, and it’s close to Whangamata for shops and water based beach activities. 

We managed to get quite a large crew on board and I was so excited that I ripped off the Splore poster to create my own Antisplore one:

Some of us headed down on Friday night after work in an attempt to make more of the weekend.  Unfortunately it was raining the majority of the time but at least it stopped just in time for us to put up the tents before starting with avengence again.  We chilled for a bit then went to bed, waking up to a soggy campground and slightly leaky tents all round.  But not to be deterred, we had breakfast and arranged to meet the others in Whangamata, where the morning was spent kayaking in the pouring rain out to Donut Island.

hiding from the rain in the undercover kitchen

Some of us embraced the rain

Opoutere beach on Saturday morning with the rain front coming in

Opoutere beach

Donut island was AMAZING.  First of all, it was my first time in my own kayak (I have a kayak! It’s even more exciting than owning a car!). Second of all, even though it was pouring it down with rain, there was zero wind or swell which are the perfect conditions.  Third of all, I have been wanting to do this for ages so it was a bucket list tick. 

Donut island is named because it is shaped like a doughnut – i.e it has a hole in the middle of it, and can be accessed through a cave that you kayak through.  In low tide the hole in the middle has less water in it, creating a mini beach.  We were all meant to go out as one big group but due to us hiring kayaks from a different place to the others, we ended up splitting into 2 groups.  Me, Shanyn, Ben and Franzi ended up getting there first as we started from the beach access point closest to the island. 

As you enter through the cave you feel like you’re entering Jurassic Park – it’s really, really cool.  We parked up (is that the boating term?) in the lagoon and went for a wee swim and clambered on some rocks and drank a celebratory beer, waiting for the others to arrive.  15 minutes later and still no sign of them, so we gave up and hopped back in the kayaks.  Out in the distance, next to the other island we spotted the others, so we went over to them.  They were looking a bit confused as they’d done a circle of the larger island and hadn’t found any entrances, so we showed them the right island before heading off in the direction they’d come in for our own exploration. 

the lagoon in donut island. next time i go hopefully it'll be with Amy and her go-pro so can get better photos

swimming with Ben and his kayak in the rain.  The cave at the back is the one you enter through

We landed on Clark island and encountered a dead bird which I tried to put onto my paddle and bring in to bury but it kept falling off the paddle so I gave up eventually.

On the way back in we were playing in the waves and getting the boats very full of water, before heading back to the campsite stocked with booze and food for an afternoon of fun and games.  

We used kiwi (and a little british) ingenuity to tie up some tarpaulins to keep us dry - somehow magically Frank (my tent) ended up under the tarp which was pretty sweet for me, kept him nice and dry at night time!

my sturdy tent Frank to the left

tent city

Camilla did a yoga session which a few of us joined in on, then we went for a swim in the sea and a play on the beach, and had a slackline set up and a diablo. We cooked a big group meal of mexicany stuff. 

Someone had got married on the beach earlier on in the day and had made this cute little arch way

looks like Camilla is summoning the force and we're her superhero back up

take 2 - peeps on the right have got it all good, peeps on the left can't do normal poses

hugely enjoyable 3L bottle of champagne


i guess that's one way to use a slackline

Being a fake festival, we had to try make it as festivally as possible but on a budget, so we got out lots of glowsticks and Dan hosted a 'talent show' where Colin played his guitar and sang a few songs, there was a poetry reading and some other little things.  Ben spent ages lining us all up to take this photo below (and variations of it) which was fun until we got told off for making too much noise, so after that we went and sat on the beach for a few hours hoping for the clouds to move and the stars to show themselves - which they didn't. Still it was a fun evening and that night it didn't rain so no soggy tents for us!

first attempt

final (and probably 23rd attempt)

On Sunday morning we packed down our tent city and chilled on Whangamata beach for a few hours with lots of random conversation that started with Adnaan's vampire teeth and ended with dilated colons.  Sometimes I wonder how our brains work.

Lots of traffic on the drive home so didn't get back till mid afternoon, then I spen the afternoon doing life admin and cleaning and unpacking and reminiscing on our great weekend.

This is just a shout out to everyone that came - I am so lucky that I have managed to integrate myself into such an awesome group of people.  Though it was raining and miserable, not one person complained and everyone was keen to still go camping and hang out and pitch in with cooking and cleaning and preparation.  It helped it was warm and muggy rain and not icy cold rain - but it was still really awesome of everyone to still come and have a great attitude and join in with everything.  I love my little kiwi family out here :-)