Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Longer look from the Shrine of Rememberance on the King's Domain
Melbourne Museum - home to thousands of bugs and artifacts and the Ashes Exhibition. Juxtapositioned adjacent to the Exhibition Hall it seems a fitting place for one of the best museums I've ever visited.
Friday, December 29, 2006
JT taking in the boats at the new docklands area
View of the CBD and the other stadium in Melbourne, sponsored by a rival telecom firm we don't speak about!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
By about Tuesday this week I started to seize up and brain function was slowing to almost no existent pace. As the kiwis say - "I was over it !".
This sloth like behaviour has not been isolated to me. Most of my colleagues and friends were feeling the strain too. The general consensus is that it has been a busy year but people are more tired because the weather has been so lousy that the usual Spring like behaviours have been missing and its just been one long winter.
There is no doubt that the last three months have proved to me that I am truly over being a senior executive and my instincts have been right all along. I'll be ready after the rest to plough on with what I've been employed to do but with house and home plans shaping I can feel my focus shifting to a place I'd rather be. At home working as much as possible.
Still, not got to think about work for the next 2 (well actually 2 weeks and 2 days) so I shall set the Ministry to the back of my mind and concentrate on having fun!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The festive break won't come soon enough - I'm tired and need a rest. This executive-domestic is all worn out. Perhaps I am taking my lead from the English cricket team!
The most exciting thing that happened all week was being woken up at 5am by some person from Telecom who wanted to tell MT that the overnight changes to the mobile billing system didn't work. To say I wasn't best pleased would probably be an understatement - and after the cuffufel all that was needed was them to press the big red reset button to reboot the system. Shame that they couldn't do that working on their own initiative but needed to escalate such a decision to the lofty heights of MT and disturb my beauty sleep in the process.
There are lots of things to look forward to so its my goal to see through the next five days in a more optimistic way and benefit from the sun which is starting to put it's hat on most days and light up Wellington.
Still, another week has passed to reaching my goal - blog readers you would have been proud of me to have avoided the pressure this week to extend my contract where I am working. No fear I said I've got a domestic-executive appointment to keep!
Here's a pic of a certain young lady clearly on a similarly important mission!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
At first I thought it must just be an age thing and adjusting to the southern hemisphere seasons but talking to a few people today made me realise that it's just because my batteries are flat. It's been over 4 months since MT and I had a proper holiday and that is falling behind our usual pattern of not going more than three months for a break. In thinking about all this it's made us realise how big a year we've had!
The fact we've sold our home, brought our chattels to the other side of the world, left behind family and friends, had to start new jobs and put up with months of anguish about land buying and house building has simply been absorbed and I think we are both now starting to feel the pain a little.
Still, no time to dwell on such matters - still got the Christmas shopping to finish, find a landscape architect and complete another 10 days in the office before we can finally relent. With 2.5 weeks of work over Christmas it will be plenty of time to recharge the batteries and then we'll return to being at peace with the world again. Well we might do if England do better at the Cricket!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
This week really has been party time and I'm not sure that I can be the party girl now, at least not for several nights in the row. It's been full on at work with event after event culminating in the staff Christmas party where over 500 people boogied away to the staff band.
It was a fabulous occasion with a good atmosphere which made the earlier escapade this week a dim memory. On Wednesday we only had sold 150 tickets out of a potential of 2500 people on national office campus. I had to get my folks to down tools and don santa hats, reindeer antlers and other Christmas paraphenalia and walk the floors twisting every arm to buy tickets.
Fortuantly the sales drive worked in the end although I was still pretty pessimistic part way through the day when my guys were returning to the office having only sold one or two each. Word must have got round or we just started to hit the party animal floors because all of a sudden sellers were returning (after being missing for hours) with sales of 50, 70 and finally 90.
All in all it was a fantastic team effort and the communications team came to the rescue. It was touch and go with the boss who was threatening to cancel if we didn't get numbers above 400. All's well that ends well. And, at least I won't have this worry next year!
Friday, December 08, 2006
It's fantastic news and another small step towards reaching the dream. The next step is for the final paperwork to be lodged and LINZ to issue land title which will then allow the sale to be settled (same as completion) and we will get the keys to the gate!
At last.....it such a relief!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I don't think it will surprise you much to know that the furniture specially commissioned for EJ's green room back stage is now up for sale on trade me (kiwi = of ebay). Will be interesting to see who's mad enough to cough up for it.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Icebergs have been floating off New Zealand for the first time since 1930. They arrived about 3 weeks ago (middle of November) having travelled from Antarctica for the last five years. But, when they reached New Zealand's warmer waters they started to dissolve more rapidly. They'd been moving about two kilometres a day.
The icebergs were visible from the hills of Dunedin on the south of the South Island but as you might expect for some people that wasn't enough. One of the local television stations sent a reporter and cameraman to view the berg; they descended onto the berg and sent the footage and reported from the berg itself.
After that little escapade the berg broke into two pieces and got smaller by the day. The larger of the two icebergs was about 300 metres long and 100 metres high. Tourist flights were plentiful as people clammered to see this unusal sight.
Friday, December 01, 2006
There was no single big event that made me reaffirm my plans but simply the build up of lots of little niggly things that overall just serve to remind that even if you change the job, organisation or the country, corporate life if pretty much the same everywhere.
Now I am settling into my desk and people know I am in post the in-tray is piling up and email box is overflowing (no Murray here to lift the lid on the ICT limits!). The difference is now I don't take it home to do on an evening or weekend, what doesn't get done in the office quite simply doesn't get done.
This change of attitude and behaviour is very empowering and somehow the big stuff still gets done and so far noones complained. Not spending time at home on work frees up bags more time for other things - we're back on proper cooking on an evening, I'm keeping up with my emails (mostly) and most of all there is time to spend with whomever I chose.
Next week it's a social whirl with the party season starting to get into swing so just as well my new work policy is in place as I've got too much partying to be done!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The daylight and climate is just not very christmasy. I was wandering around the supermarket this evening and heard a carol and was temporarily glued to the floor as I tried to reconcile the seasonal music to the circumstances. Sure, traditionally christmasy foods are starting to appear in the shops - there are crackers and gift packs - but it just doesn't feel right.
Earlier today I was horrified to find my EA has a christmas tree on her desk, complete with lights and red bows. I'm not sure whether it was the fact that it had appeared in November or more of the same sensory confusion that bows and christmas trees just don't feel or look right when the sun was shining outside (don't be fooled folks, the southerly promptly blew in tonight).
Still, in my usual style I will do my MT Christmas shopping this weekend, after getting my christmas hairdo in readiness for the christmas parties next week. Need to work on finding a christmas outfit and get on top of my christmas cards which will never reach the UK if I don't send them next week!
Talk in the office is as to whether people prefer the traditional christmas dinner or whether a BBQ is the way to go. Need to have a family board meeting I think to decide what we will do.
The fact that Christmas here is a potentially very long holiday here - most people take at least 3 weeks off - makes the seasonal break something that has more to it than the lunch, pressies, TV and stroll about the village. We'll be off work for 2.5 weeks and then still having a week in February to look forward to.
There is a chance that there will be too much of a good thing at one time since when the winter comes around it's a long haul from Queen's Birthday (June) to Labour Day (October) when in the UK you're enjoying the summer breaks.
It's all a new experience, different but still good. Now, If I'm ever going to get ready for the traditional greetings I'd better find those Christmas cards I put away safely and now can't find!
Saturday, November 25, 2006
It's strange to be contemplating the round of Christmas parties this year in light nights and hopefully some more of the sun. They start in the coming week when we're off to the Zoo for a do. MT's very excited there are guided tours and opportunities to get close up and personal with the zoo's inhabitants. The week after we're off to see Elton John in concert at the caketin stadium, corporate do so the tickets will probably be good. I've got at least four work do's lined up so it's all good on the social networking side.
The week's really do fly by so guess I must be having a bit of fun at work. People are certainly very good fun to be with although I have so many contractors that after Christmas I'll be bereft of staff as they all take their long summer breaks (usually whole of January and some of February). As a domestic-executive it will be one long vacation so have at least got that to look forward to although with the growing mountain of work to do in the next 43 weeks I'm not sure there'll be much time for R&R before then.
Hmm, moment of madness me thinks. We've got 2.5 weeks at Christmas, a week in February and then Easter will be around the corner. Oh, let's hope the sun keeps shining and the countdown will go even quicker.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
MT has another new boy's toy which allows him to attach his iPod to a radio and when combined with some special software he is able to down load all sorts of programmes from the Beeb and other broadcasting institutions. Podcasting is really bringing home to NZ as we listen to the weekly news casts and I can listen to my beloved Archers (shocking about Ruth, David and Sam!).
Email has poured in from my note to friends and family to say hello. Blog readership has sky rocketed and once again I've felt connected with folks back home in the UK. It's good to know you're out there reading about our exploits in NZ and continuing your encouragement of our endevours to live the NZ dream.
I'm off to Christchurch today which is another new adventure - pity I'm going to spend it all in boring offices talking to colleauges!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
In short, we're had to change our plans. The land we were suposed to buy is taking an age to be finalised and the behaviour of the developer who is subdividing the land suggests that it might never happen and ultimately we'll end up very disappointed and plans for a house but no land to put it on.
The situation is that the land we want to buy is in the second phase of a subdivision which requires another bridge to complete the third phase. Having put in the bridge across the Pakatuhari river it seems that this is having an adverse effect on the river flow and causing erosion as an unintended consequence. Whilst he still has resource consent (planning permission) to continue with the arrangements on phase 2 his opportunity for phase three is ebbing away because putting another bridge over the river may cause further erosion that the regional council are not prepared to accept. Therefore, the land in phase 3 becomes worthless for housing.
According to the neighbours who have seen the revised plans, he intends to change phase 2 plans and instead of having 4 lots of 4 hectares will have 8 lots of 1.2 hectares and not sell lot 7 (ours) but keep that as the building plot he can sell the remaining phase 3 land with. His ability to realise the value of the land is his primary concern and he's waiting approval from the council to get a new subdivision plan.
This dasterdly deal is being done without our official knowledge but we smelt a rat and decided to look for new opportunities. Fortunately we've found a new piece of land and if all the legalese sorts itself out this week we should be the proud owners of 6 acres in Kaitoke at another location before Christmas. Our architect has done a plan for the existing design of house and cottage to fit and subject to approval by the local council we hope to start building if February.
To say it's been a roller coaster of emotion of "losing" our dream plot is an understatement but being the pragmatists we are we knew it was time to detach ourselves from a dream that was rapidly turning into a nightmare. The vendor is legally bound to sell us the land and we could hang in there and try to insist he fulfils his side of the bargain but all the advice from the lawyers is to walk away and minimise our costs.
Ironically, the new plot of land is within the original budget we set ourselves for land, is closer to town and still has beautiful views across regional parkland. I'll do some photoblogging so you can see the new place. Fingers crossed it all comes through and we can start to live the dream of our house in the country in New Zealand.
close up to Lot 3
The closest neighbour - lot 4. Lot 3 is to the right and down the hill
Not a bad view to come home to at the end of the day!
I know it's a strange thing to photograph but this is our power and telecommunications supply!
I'm now officially over my honeymoon period as a newby at work. After the letter incident I'm now seen as a force to be reckoned with. Little do they know that underneath I'm as soft as putty. Not wishing to ruin my growing personal brand I'm continuing to give people a hard time about how any muppet cannot do marketing and communications and you need skilled and experience professionals.
There are some people who still tell me that things have been seen and signed off by policy and legal as if I am suposed to get out my rubber stamp. It's like red rag to this taurean but I'm being as polite as I can in response.
The big difference with this job than any other I've have a new sense of empowerment that you just can't have when you're a signed up full time employed member of staff. Having a slightly independent perspective doesn't lessen my commitment to the work but gives me a slightly detatched view that enables me to be bolder than I might otherwise be.
One of the key reasons for going back to work (apart from money) was to get a social network of people and on that front I'm doing quite well. I'm starting to meet a wide range of people and collecting their business cards with one eye on future client potential. Mercenary I know but hey when you're goal is to be a domestic executive you've got to be determined to get what you want!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I've been involved in a cross Government planning exercise for a major earthquake - code name Capital Quake. This was a desk exercise which meant we pretended what we'd do if there were an earthquake centred on Wellington. There were times when the situation reports of damage, death and distruction for the 7.8 richter quake centred in Lower Hutt (about 7km from the CBD) felt real enough. It was tiring play acting in the crisis management team for my organisation but lots of learnings which will help improve preparedness for the real thing.
The real thing happened twice yesterday - once during the morning when I was in a meeting and it was a continuous rolling feeling. The odd thing is that when I peered out of the door to see whether we were heading for the hills, my colleagues were head down not really noticing. It only freaked me slightly as this was the first time I've been in our cronky old 1960's building that only two days before in our exercise was rendered a pile of rubble.
Last night we had another which rattled the house and woke up both MT and I. Both these were 5.5 and not too far from Wellington which is pretty unnerving. People say it's best that there are lots of little ones to avoid the big one so I have to take it at face value.
For more information on our quake experiences http://www.geonet.org.nz/recent_quakes.html
Must get those radio batteries and extra stock of baked beans in!!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Let me explain.
Friends and family will be aware of my defective back. This has blighted me for the last twenty years has off. Anyway, a month ago it (the back) went again so off I went to the quacks to get more painkillers and a referral to the physio.
In kiwi land you can get remedial treatment covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation which you pay for as part of a wage levy (a bit like NI). So off I went to the physio who diagnosed strong tape to make my back straight and exercises to bend zee knees.
It's been absolutely rotten - I appear for the last 20 of so years to have compensated for bad back by not lifting, sitting or moving properly and now I've forgotten how to do it and my muscles have rebelled and don't work properly.
MT is loving it as he's always complaining I don't bend my knees, lift of bend properly. After four days of tape on my back up I've ripped it off (very painful I can tell you) but now the trick is to continue bending, stretching and generally getting back on balance.
Once I've mastered the basics I'm going to be packed off to pilates - not looking forward to the pain that I know that will generate with muscles I don't even know are there. Still, at least the back pain has eased which can only be a good thing.
Must say though - the trussed up turkey is not a good look and not much fun!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
We have the company of a Weka at the Black Rock day hut where we stopped for refueling on our tramp on the Queen Charlotte Track.
Long before the inter-island ferries plied its waters, Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui) was an important trade route for Maori, and provided good shelter and bountiful seafood for the many Maori who lived there. The early European explorer, Captain James Cook, also took advantage of the shelter and natural bounty of the Sounds, making Ship Cove (Meretoto) his New Zealand base. He spent more than 100 days there between 1770 and 1777.
Since that time, the area has been the scene of a diverse range of activities from gold and antinomy mining, whaling and fishing through to tourism and forestry. The Queen Charlotte Track passes through a variety of vegetation types, from grassy farmland to undisturbed native forests. At sea level, the forests are particularly lush. Ferns, tree ferns, nikau palms, climbing kiekie vines and perching plants make up a spectacular coastal forest. Several forest birds are common along the track, including the bellbird, tui, fantails (saw one of these) and the weka (shared lunch with one of these) . Along the shoreline shags (cormorants), gannets, terns and shearwaters can also be glimpsed.
Views to die for (that's if the tramping doesn't get you first!)
Well a girl needs a break for lunch!
More views to keep you going
Woodland kiwi style