We’ve been here a month

We visited the two closest coastal areas last weekend. New Brighton was a bit like Blackpool minus the pleasure beach though it did have a long, clean beach with a pier and the library is built right on the beach with big comfy chairs facing the large windows facing the beach. Easy to imagine sittjng there on a stormy day with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate.

Sumner was very like St. Andrews, a bit posh, easy to walk around and loads of expensive houses. The people at Chris’s work say it’s like little England due to the amount of ex-pats there. I have to say I was looking at all the estate agent windows click this link: House in Sumner

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There is a general election in NZ in three weeks. The National party (conservatives) have been in power for 9 years and Labour have a new leader (a woman called Jacinda) they are flashing about like a new Tony Blair. It’s currently 43% Labour, 41% nationals so all to play for. Thd economy is pretty healthy here though the campaigns all sound familiar.

Teachers are in the news this week as surprise surprise NZ has a shortage. In Auckland 80% of schools say they have difficulties filling their vacancies for the new session starting in February. There are plenty PE teachers and not enough STEM (Science, Technology and Maths) teachers, sound familiar? The different political parties are considering financial incentives to fill posts as well as increasing the salary which they feel is too low $48K – $72K (£27k – £41k) for unpromoted posts. One in five NZ teachers are over the age of 60 and the number of teaching students is dropping each year.

Teacher Shortage Article

Here’s a few things we have learned since we got here:

* they charge you $3 for every transaction done in the bank with a teller ie deposit or withdrawal but no charges for doing the same at the ATM in the branch.

* you can’t buy spirits in a supermarket, only wine, beer and cider. Hence there are loads of liquor stores everywhere, and some have a drive through!

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* cars are expensive here since they all have to be shipped in. Therefore there are a lot more cars 20 years old or more. The MoT is called a WOF here and if your car is registered before 01/01/2000 you have to get one every six months. There are a lot more 4X4s and Utes (pick-ups) here compared to the UK. Christchurch has every car dealership you can think of including Maseratti.

* Christchurch City Libraries Reading to Dogs programme is provides a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere which encourages children to practice their reading skills and develop a love of reading.

Since it is the first day of Spring here it is pouring of rain. It’s been almost 3 weeks since we last had a wet day so Friday, Saturday and Sunday have to be very wet. It’s like they save all the rain up and give you it one go. Though clearly nothing as bad as the US just now it does make you rethink any plans to step out the front door.

City Market – we have a new supermarket that opened in town this week, it’s a bit like Waitrose with a posh deli though as a Fifer there are bargains to be found and I bought my black pudding there for Sunday breakfast – happy days!

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