10th November 2017

So today’s blog comes from the lounge in our hotel sat on a big comfy sofa next to a log fire. I have a big bar of Lindt chocolate and a glass of fizz to see me through.

We have a 4X4 for a week (thanks to the lovely Megan) and Chris has some time off so we are exploring. We are at Hanmer Springs for a few days, It’s an alpine village famous for their thermal spas. The village is also good for jet boat rides, bungy jumps, fishing, skiing, nature walks and mountain biking.

Our hotel room has a jacuzzi bath and since I’ve only had access to a shower since we got here I celebrated the occasion by going to Lush and buying a big pink bath bomb before we left Christchurch. I’ve also put my name down for a bottle of Snow Fairy shower gel, the pink glitter and smell of bubble gum always get me in the mood for Christmas (and lasted until March last time). Chris however hates how slippy the shower floor gets with it though says nothing about all the glitter!

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We visited a few hot pools on our tour of NZ last year and Hanmer Springs is the biggest we’ve been too (so far). There were 12 adult pools including 3 hydro therapy, 3 sulphur, 3 rock and 3 standard as well as a family section including a lazy river, fun pool, aqua park, water slides and swimming lanes. I managed to get discount vouchers meaning our full day of huddling in hot, bubbly water only cost $12 each.  https://hanmersprings.co.nz

On the way to HS we stopped off at a couple of towns north of Christchurch that are popular with people who commute to the city – Kaiapoi and Rangiora. We also visited a new build development called Silverstream which was on the edge of Kaiapoi and about a 30 minute commute to the centre of Christchurch (a new faster route opens in December). We had a wander around the town centre of each area, checking out local shops, banks, takeaways, cafes, restaurants etc. There was much more in Rangiora though it was much bigger.  http://www.silverstreamestate.co.nz

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We also visited a town called Halswell only five minutes south of the city. It’s small but had all the necessary shops, bakers etc and a pretty impressive community centre complete with outdoor swimming pool (only open in the summer). We especially liked The Old Vicarage bar/cafe/restaurant that was perfect for sitting outside enjoying sunshine and cocktails.

For those not liking the frosty starts back in Scotland we reached a new high of 27 degrees last week. It was a fantastic week of sunshine and mid-twenties temperatures, unfortunately this week it’s dipped back and there was rain, wind and snow in some places on Wednesday though it was back to early twenties yesterday. Chris and I still can’t believe Summer hasn’t even began yet. As Scots we’re convinced we’ve had enough sunshine to keep us going for a good year or two already. Our faces are now well tanned though we always have the factor 50 sunscreen handy. A burnt Scot is not a happy one.

We’ve been out to a few pubs and restaurants over the past couple of weeks. Chris’s new favourite is the Irish pub called The Bog which does a steak and a pint for $20 on a Monday. We’ve also tried a Brazilian BBQ where the chef brings 12 courses of meats to your table and you tell him how much you want. We’ve been to the cinema a few times, there is no Cineworld card equivalent here but it’s only $11 (£5.50) for any film so finally something is cheaper than the UK. It was the Melbourne Cup this week which Kiwis treat like the Grand National with pubs showing coverage from 3pm, sweep stakes and betting all advertised. Tomorrow starts Cup and Show week with horse races every day for a week with the city shops, hotels etc all promoting special deals to help celebrate. Friday 17th is a local holiday so everyone gets a long weekend. Many pubs and restaurants are offering a Cup breakfast and then transport to the racecourse.

Since we got here I have travelled everywhere either on foot or by bus (I’ve worn out my trainers I brought here new in August). The bus service here is excellent, the drivers are nice, polite and mostly cheery. They often change drivers along the route and the leaving driver will say farewell and the new driver will acknowledge everyone and say hello as they get on. They wait until everyone is sat down before moving and wait at the stop if they see someone running for the bus. It’s about £1.25 per journey and the maximum you will pay in any week is ten trips after that every trip is free. The bus exchange in the centre of the city is more like an airport with a control tower and display screens telling each bus which stance to go to. All the buses are GPS tracked so you can check Google or their website to see if your bus is on time. I can’t say enough about how good the buses are here.

My gran is finally moved into the farm so I can now see her through video chat though I think she will need time to get used to this. Last week she was trying to give me a bit of her Crunchie she was munching.

I completed my Project Management PRINCE2 Practitioner level last week. I had a 2 1/2 hour exam I sat in the house with the examiner watching me on a webcam. All was going well until 40 minutes before the end the really noisy housemate came home unexpectedly thumping up the the stairs, shouting, banging doors. Thankfully it was a flying visit and he was gone 3 minutes later otherwise it would have been difficult to concentrate to get it finished. Thankfully I got 75% and now have my certificate to add to my CV.

Chris has created a gif for me of the fire to let you see

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Until next time when I’ll tell you about Cup and Show week and the A&P Show as well as tours in our borrowed car, good night.

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