How about a house with a garden big enough for a hot tub and bbq?

Kevin Bridges was in town last week, ticket prices were $80 (£45) so pretty much the same as the UK. We didn’t go as we saw him in Dundee previously. Everyone here is getting excited about Mrs Brown’s Boys coming here in February. We also have the Military Tattoo up in Wellington in February which is the same one performed in Edinburgh in August so we will try and go to that.

It’s the Race and Cup Week and A&P Show in November which seems to be like having the Royal Highland Show on at the same time as the Grand National so Christchurch should be busy. It’s a local holiday on the Friday of that week so everyone should get a chance to go. They have a section for Clydesdale horses at the A&P Show so I’m looking forward to that.

http://www.theshow.co.nz/

http://www.nzcupandshow.co.nz/

Our housemate Rhonda took me to the veggies by the roadside places on the outskirts of town, the first one was very high spec in a large purpose built, air conditioned building whereas the others were less sophisticated and less pricey. All had an amazing range of fruit and veg, fresh honey and one sold ice cream. Our fridge is packed like a game of Tetris!

We went looking at houses last weekend to get an idea of what we could afford and see how they differ from Scottish homes. In NZ they auction most houses and have open houses for half an hour usually at the weekend. Anyone can show up and you don’t need to book in advance. The house in this main blog picture was lovely but had two problems – the first was it wasn’t clean ie dirty bathrooms, light switches covered in lots of black marks etc, the second was it was close to a main road so you heard all the traffic go by but the layout was great, lots of natural light and a good sized garden and plenty bedrooms for our visitors. If you fancy being nosey like we were here’s the link https://www.nz.open2view.com/properties/404604

The house we are staying in and the one next door are for sale. The houses are only 9 months old but the owner wants the equity to build more houses. They expect a foreign investor, probably from South Korea, will buy it but it shouldn’t change much for us as it will still be let in the same way. They came and took pictures today including our room and I got a bar of chocolate for letting them take pictures – result!

received_10155659898220050.jpeg

I went to the hospital this week to do more work for Chris’s boss, I think he is enjoying having someone who can do advanced Excel to improve how they do some things in the department. I’ve been asked to go back next week for some more problem solving.

Since we’ve had the computer for a week now I thought it was time I started my Project Management course (PRINCE2 Practitioner level), I did the entry level back in April and hoping to sit the exam for this at the end of October. I have also ordered a book on Google Analytics from the library, I may as well get my skills up before I start job hunting.

The elections finished last Saturday and it still isn’t clear. National got 58 seats (46%), Labour got 45 seat (36%), the NZ First party got 9 seats (7.5%) and the Green Party got 7 seats (5.9%). They need 60 seats so currently Winston Peters, leader of the NZ First Party has the power as he decides which party to enter into coalition with so country is in limbo for a few weeks.

Well that’s it for another week, It’s now over two months since we left Scotland but feels like longer. Everyone in Scotland talks about bad weather, putting heating on etc while we have longer days, it gets slightly warmer each week and watching all the trees turning green. I better start planning Christmas in the sun.

Advertisements

Some goodies from Scotland

We went to the farmer’s market last week at Riccarton House and Bush. It was very well organised, most of the food was to eat there and then rather than to take home but there was a great selection of high quality food. Chris opted for a foot long Danish and I have fresh barbecued salmon. I also bought fresh asparagus and free range eggs but could have easily been persuaded to buy homemade fudge, cakes, nut butter and fresh waffles. I would say it was better than any farmer’s market I had been to before and the relaxed but busy atmosphere meant nobody noticed Chris and I gawping at everything as it all looked so good.

Daylight Savings Time starts on Sunday so we will be twelve hours ahead of the UK until the end of October when UK clocks go back making it thirteen hours ahead. Confusing I know!

The National election in New Zealand will finally be over on Saturday. People here have been voting for two weeks but Saturday is the final day. The last poll showed the National party at 43% and Labour at 36% where it was much closer a few weeks ago.

The Ring of Fire has been rumbling this week with earthquakes around the line including Mexico, Japan and New Zealand. There were quakes at the top and the bottom of the south island but here in the middle of the two we weren’t aware of anything until we saw it on the news. Christchurch Council are testing their tsunami warning sirens at 11.00 a.m. on Sunday morning but it’s extremely unlikely that we will here them as we are too far from the coast and well outwith the tsunami risk zone. https://ccc.govt.nz/news-and-events/newsline/show/2017

A day or so over the three months since it left Scotland our belongings arrived at the house on Tuesday. It would be fair to say I was a little excited. It was just like Christmas, not sure what to open first. Having more shoes to pick from than a pair of trainers and a pair of walking boots is wonderful as well as the goodies shown in this week’s photo. Chris’s vodka is safely stashed away in the freezer away from our other housemates. Chris has waited about ten years to get this vodka from Norway so I can’t imagine he will want to share it. I however offered Rhonda one of the prized caramel wafers, it was no surprise that she loved it. We have most of the boxes unpacked, the computer and hard drives are fully functioning and we’ve replaced the basic tv in our room with our lovely high spec LG. Yay for having high-quality technology again. One surprise is that our Amazon Echo works here in NZ, as Amazon isn’t set up here I wasn’t confident but Alexa is back in our lives with her awful jokes, useless facts, Star Trek sayings and music library. Chris’s mum is currently organising a box to send out to us with a few things we’ve realised we need including gallons of factor 50 sun cream (it’s about four times the price here) oh and a bar of Galaxy to go with the cups of M&S tea – bliss!

We moved on to our next pub quiz this week, this time at The Bog. It’s an Irish themed pub that used to be in Cashel Street in the middle of town but had to move after the quake and is reasonably close to the house. It looked a bit dark from the outside with workies always sat outside smoking so had never drawn us in but we had a great time on Thursday and will definitely be back though we need to get some of our housemates or people from Chris’s work along as our lack of Australian general knowledge and Kiwi sport is pulling us back though we were second last this week which is an improvement. Chris has ear-marked Monday night steak offer for a future visit.

The weather has been a bit rubbish here this week and September generally, it makes no sense but it was warmer in winter. It’s meant that the magnolia and cherry blossom have all but gone though the trees are slowly beginning to turn green. There’s apparently a shortage of veggies in NZ just now because of the winter weather. Given they want $9 a kilo (£5 per kilo) for courgettes or shallots I am currently thinking about growing my own in pots in the garden. However, Australia is having a heatwave at the moment and they are sending some of it our way so it should be early twenties by Monday – hurrah! I’m planing a trip to the beach while Chris is at work.

Given the poor weather there has been no time to video this week but hopefully I’ll make up for it this week. Here’s some short videos from the farmer’s market last weekend.

Enjoying sunshine in Hagley Park

The big news this week is that last weekend the Anglo Catholic Church made a decision to reinstate the Cathedral on the original site. The cost to restore it is $100m with $25m coming from tax payers. Everyone seems happy with the decision as Cathedral Square is the heart of the city and feels a bit lost at the moment. They are going to get started within the next 3 months but it will take about 6 or 7 years to complete. Here is what it currently looks like.

received_1471990522837802

The new Justice and Emergency Precinct opened this week. It’s a large complex which houses the emergency services, including the police, the lawyers and the courts. A one-stop shop for your average criminal! They have opened the doors to the public on Sunday so anyone can wander around.

Spring is here, it was 18 degrees at 6am yesterday morning. Chris has been working at the hospital in the city centre so we have been in Hagley Park next door quite a bit. I have taken a couple of videos of the park which are here for you to view:

We went to our first rugby match here this week. Canterbury versus Counties Manakau. The smain tadium was damaged in the earthquakes of 2011 so the government spent $30m building a temporary seated stadium at the Rugby League pitches in Addington. This was only meant to be for four years so it has already past that and they are still in talks about plans gor the new stadium. For not being a major match it was well organised. We got our pictures taken with a picture of the squad on a backdrop behind us for free. There were lots of catering including corn dogs, chips, freshly made doughnuts, just as well we ate before we left the house. One fan won $2,000 at half time and six local schools competed in a relay race for the prize of $500 of rugby kit. Our next match we plan to go to is a Crusaders match which are the local team that won the Super Rugby League in South Africa last month. Go Crusaders!

It’s going to feel like Christmas next Tuesday as our boxes from Scotland get delivered. I’m very excited, it is just as well I took photos of the contents of each box or I would have forgotten what is coming out. 240 M&S tea bags and 24 Tunnocks Caramel Wafers will soon be stocked in our cupboards as well as having some extra clothes, shoes and handbags (mine not Chris’s in case you wondered). Most of all I’m looking forward to our pc coming out so I can stop going to the library to use theirs to do things that I can’t on my tablet.

On the homesick front I was really pleased to be able to watch the new episodes of  This Farming Life on YouTube last weekend. I have also been able to watch F1 races on YouTube so all is well. We have the equivalent of Freeview in the house which has about 6 channels some showing UK tv shows and others like US Jeopardy and The Wheel of Fortune. Thankfully we have some blu-rays and our blu-ray player arriving on Tuesday.

Plans for this week include another pub quiz this time in an Irish pub, a visit to Christchurch Farmers Market and a trip to the cinema. Happy weekend folks!

Hokey Pokey!

So I thought I would start this post with something sweet, so here is a list of kiwi sweets that sit alongside Mars, KitKat and other UK favourites.

Up until a few months ago there was a Cadbury factory in Dunedin which is south of Christchurch. The Jaffa is the local sweet there and they have the annual Jaffa run

https://www.cadbury.co.nz/event/cadbury-jaffa-race-worlds-steepest-street/

Chocolate fish are brilliant – pink mallow shaped like a fish and covered in chocolate. The perky nana is similar I think but banana-flavoured yellow mallow but I haven’t tried one. Pineapple lumps are similar too but pineapple flavoured – naturalĺy.

Whitaker’s chocolate is very good and comes in lots of flavours but the best has to be hokey pokey. Think cinder toffee or crunchie pieces. Hokey Pokey flavoured ice cream is excellent too. L&P is a kiwi soft drink which Chris likes a lot.

There have been a lot of developments in town this week. A new shopping area called The Crossing opened this week with the main store (H&M) opening on Saturday. There is now quite a good range of clothes shops here and this new area goes a long way to restoring the city centre after the earthquakes. There is also an area next to the river called The Terrace where the first three pubs opened today, there are another seventeen due to open by December 2017 so the nightlife definitely seems to be improving. The best bit is one of the pubs ‘Kong’ specialises in cocktails so naturally I will have to try them out.

I have had a go at doing a short video for you to see some of the developments:

We went to suburbs called Sydenham, Fendalton and Riccarton last weekend. The original settlers called the Dean family came from Riccarton in Edinburgh which is where it gets it’s name from, it’s also home to Canterbury University which seems to have a lot of Chinese students. We walked for four hours on Sunday but we were wandering around the streets oohing and aahing at some of the houses along the way so it didn’t seem that far though I clocked up 27,000 steps.

Chris and I went to a pub quiz at a pub called Strange & Co on Tuesday. Due to our lack of Australian knowledge (!!!!!!!) we came last but we had a good time and will be back to improve our score. It was very organised compared to UK pub quizzes and we even had printed answer booklets. The two guys wjo ran it were local DJs so there was plenty of banter. On Wednesday night it was one of our housemates birthday so we went to a Thai street food restaurant, the food was fantastic and another place we will return to.

Having now had four weeks of ‘me’ time I have started two courses (practitioner level PRINCE2 and a Harvard Uni Computer course), I’m doing a minimum of two hours exercise every day and trying to be healthy. It will probably be a few months before I have a work visa so trying to make the most of this free time as it will disappear all too quickly. I contacted the local hospital about volunteering but apparently they don’t need any more volunteers, ah well I will find plenty other things to do.

For those interested in weather it’s been dry since last Sunday but only about 12  – 14 degrees. Canterbury region seems to monitor the wind rather than the rain and a Nor’West brings hot high winds from inland. Spring is definitely here but it was warmer in August which makes no sense. There are lots of blossom and magnolia trees across the city just now and the trees are very slowly starting to turn green.

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

20170827_140010

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!

received_10155582324450050

* 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!

It’s almost Spring

It’s been a good week of weather here but we have not got used to it. I still get excited when I look out the window and see blue sky, sunshine and no clouds. It was minus 1 the other morning so clearly it’s still winter but by the afternoon it gets up to a comfortable 17 degrees which is a good Summers day in my books. Needless to say Chris is starting to burn on top and I still look out of place in my sleeveless tops while locals are still in their North Face jackets and jumpers. Needless to say we are both getting a nice healthy tan. We will acclimitise before the 32 degrees summer arrives.

DSC01470-2.jpg

Nothing too exciting to report this week. Two of our housemates, Danny and Rhonda, have gone to a wedding in Australia so the house has been very quiet. We’ve had movie nights with Andrew and Chris and had the chance to get to know them better. I have been playing episodes of Still Game since they both love Mrs Brown’s Boys though they don’t always understand all of it.

Video messenging is helping me not miss family as much. I did my first video chat last Friday for my Dad’s birthday enjoying using all the effects of bunny ears and flame throwing. My mum has worked out she can use her phone anywhere to video call so I got the chance to see my gran the other day while they were waiting in the doctors surgery. Poor gran didn’t really understand how it works and was putting to phone to her ear.

 

Chris seems to be settling into work fine. He has bought a new bike so he can cycle to work. We find it funny that for all we hear about Kiwis having a healthy outdoor lifestyle they recoil in horror at the thought of walking anywhere. There are plenty cycle lanes across the city and Chris has about 3.5 miles to get to work.

I found a butchers that sells chicken at $9 per kilo which is pretty much the same as back home. However silverside beef joints are only $7.50 per kilo. It still doesn’t make sense. I’m struggling to find sparkling water here which is a shame as I had almost given up my love of Pepsi Max for it. Almost all everyday shopping is more expensive here. However I have found that we can use eBay and Amazon Australia here so there are ways to beat the norm. I ordered trousers for Chris from Debenhams who deliver from England to NZ for free – yay!

DSC01455

Our plans for the weekend involve going to areas of the city called New Brighton and Sumner to see what they are like. Both are on the coast so I’ll post some photos next week.

Here’s a photo of the early daffodils at Cathedral Square. All the photos this week are from http://www.christchurchdailyphoto.com as they a much better job than me.

Christchurch: after the earthquake

Christchurch is definitely not your average city. It’s the largest city in the south island with a population of about 375,000. There were two earthquakes that significantly changed the city, a 7.1 in September 2010 south-west of Christchurch followed by a more damaging 6.3 that hit in February 2011 with the epicentre just 10km from the city centre. It caused the greatest ground acceleration ever recorded in New Zealand. 185 people died in the 2011 quake mostly from within two buildings and there were around 11,000 aftershocks. Over half of the buildings in the city centre were condemned and the infrastructure of the city ground to a halt. Six years on and they are on the road to a stronger city but they are by no means finished. The city centre is a mix of rubble covered patches of land used as temporary car parks, condemned buildings blocked up and covered in graffiti waiting to be demolished, temporary structures made of shipping containers, portacabins or similar allowing shops, cafes and bars to keep open, half built construction projects with promises of a better Christchurch and lots and lots of glossy new glass office blocks, shops and houses.

From what I’ve seen of the construction underway the key to building within the new construction requirements is several a-frame steel structures on the ground level. Local residents have been consulted throughout the rebuild but the logic in the order of construction is based on what funding is approved for what project first. A taxi driver told us the local council is broke because of all the investment required and the government is heavily involved in a lot of projects. The central library is underway and due to be finished next year, a convention centre is agreed but not started yet and they are currently consulting on cathedral square which is the key open space in the city. They have done a lot of work around the river Avon which looks really nice and when it’s finished they say it will be the safest city in the world in terms of earthquakes but it’s probably about 15 years off being finished.

Out with the city centre there were 2,500 homes destroyed, mostly through damage from silt. There are red zones around the city where the land is not geologically safe to build on. The street we live on is mostly new builds so I assume most of the houses here were lost but don’t worry there were lots of extensive geological surveys done across the region before any rebuild was allowed.

One of the focal points is the Cathedral which was damaged beyond repair in 2011. It has been suggested that a restore project could take up to 22 years and cost up to $225million. There’s been a lot of debate about what to do with it. The Catholic church deconsecrated the ground and relocated while a decision was made. Earlier this week they gifted the building to the government and people of NZ. I guess they gifted the bill for restoring or removing it too.

Wandering about the city you see signs of temporary parks and public places created in the suburbs while the city centre was a no-go zone. The problem now is that the city centre is still very quiet and there are very few tourists. Hopefully this will change over time as the city has a lot to offer.

So what’s happened this week…

We went to Lyttleton on Saturday. It’s about 6 miles away and is the harbour where all the ships come in. It is a lovely town with a great community spirit, they had a farmers market which was very busy, it was clear that most people knew each other and tourists weren’t around. We also made it to Glamour Cakes bakery which I found when we were in Scotland. The doughnuts are amazing, click on the link to see photos.

On Sunday I made my slow roast beef in Guinness for everyone in the house which went down well. Danny brought home a Scotsman from his afternoon of drinking. Despite being blootered Alan was interesting, totally loved the roast beef and most of all gave Chris and I some helpful information including a butcher that sells black pudding and haggis.

NZ news this week highlights there is a 100,000 increase in the population which is worrying them. They highlight an increase in UK and US numbers due to Brexit and Trump. However businesses in NZ are saying they need the increased numbers to fill jobs. The concern seems to be mostly around Auckland where Chris and I have no desire to head to.

Chris started his job, his first shift didn’t start until 9.30am but since we had a month’s worth of rain on Monday that was just as well as the buses were all running late. He seems to have had a good week and wasn’t too tired by end of Friday which surprised me as he hasn’t work Monday to Friday for three years since he left Ninewells. I’ve applied for Chris’s tax number through the post office.

I’ve been spending my time walking everywhere (too tight to pay for buses!) I clocked up 21,500 steps today though my legs are feeling it now. I’ve found all the good shopping centres and seem better at finding bargains than our housemates that are kiwis, clearly still a Fifer at heart!

The weather has been good for winter. It was 19 degrees yesterday and I sauntered into town with my sleeveless top and holiday trousers to be met by locals wearing three layers, nobody else was dressed like it was summer. It’s clearly going to take time to acclimitise myself to this better weather. To make you all feel better It’s to rain here over the weekend.