Tuesday, June 12, 2007

new home

We're settling into our new (physical) home - plenty of boxes still around, and a growing list of DIY and renovation projects, but we'll get there eventually. The house is great with bags of potential, as they say in real estate land. Actually, they probably don't say "bags" - that's a kateism I think.

We have a baby now too. He arrived 5 weeks early, ahead of the house move and taking everyone by surprise. His name is Calum, and he's got his own webpage already! He hasn't quite got the hang of html yet, so in the meantime you can keep up-to-date (sort of) with our exploits at Communikate.info - my new home online. A built the site (isn't he clever?), but I'm still getting my head around its capabilities. There are some cute pics in the gallery, though.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A little piece of Auckland

It's been a while, and not without incident. Andrew's been back a week and a half. We now don't have any claim to eh10 at all - the mortgage's been discharged, our stuff's being shipped - it really is about time for a new blog. But bear with me here just a little bit longer...

So, in the last wee while...
  • The Auckland summer has just kept on giving - yesterday we saw the first sign of rain in 10 days or more. Logically, we should have been soaking up the sun on Waiheke, but too many things going on cityside...
  • The small matter of transport was resolved last week at Turners' Car Auctions. A few test drives to rule out other possibilities, and we were ready to bid for one of NZ's most popular cars - the Toyota Corolla. They've even put it on a stamp. White (do they come in any other colour?) and with one government owner, it seems - so far - like a good buy.
  • We bought a house! A 4-bed, slightly rumpty (which I think is Akl real-estate-speak for in need of a bit of work!) bungalow in Balmoral (or Mt Eden, the biggest suburb in the world, if you're a real estate agent ). Here she is (1/5/07 - sorry, doesn't work any more). Cabbage tree at the front, a flat sunny backyard with veges and even some fruit trees, Zap2, Videon and buses to town at the end of the street, 4 bedrooms, what more could you want? We move in in a month, before the baby arrives (just). It's a big relief not to be househunting any more, and to be able to make more definite plans.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Good things

We've been busy in the kitchen (mum & I). This sticky looking mess is fig jam, made from the last of the season's figs. There might have been more, if it hadn't been for the crazy rain last week.

Thunderstorms are threatening today, although may not eventuate. Our neighbour sent us on a wild tsunami chase last week - it turned out that, despite coastguard alerts suggesting otherwise, the Solomons' tsunami didn't make it all the way to Waiheke. I'm not sure what we would have done if it had!

In other news, my baby's had a growth spurt, meaning my belly's bigger than ever. Glad I'm not contemplating that long flight now. Haven't found the perfect house yet, but there are some possibilities out there...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My strange new life, almost a week on

I'm not in eh10 any more, but have yet to find my new home. So I'll hang around here a bit longer.

A week ago today I was busily packing and preparing for the big trip. And now I’m here, living a different kind of life on Waiheke Island in Aotearoa.

It’s a strange sort of feeling, to be homeless (although living somewhere very nice), jobless (sort of) and temporarily far from A and not in the city. At times it's slightly disorientating, but also full of small, holiday-like pleasures – walking on the beach or down to the village, picking fruit from the tree. These have become much more pleasurable since my big toe recovered from a stumble down the steps on my first morning here – although it’s still a fetching shade of purple.

The Ostend market is a nice way to spend Saturday morning – supping on freshly squeezed tangelo juice, munching on pastries or Hungarian fried bread, learning about merino & muslin nappies and other designer baby gears, rifling through boxes of secondhand books, marvelling at the size of the lettuces and basil plants, and wincing at the impromptu busking of a pair of schoolgirls who quickly changed from red patent platforms to flat sneakers before dad arrived to pick them up. There seem to be lots of pregnant women around, and lots of enterprises geared to us and our babies. The population of the island is 8000, yet there are 2 antenatal yoga classes (I’ve sampled one already, conveniently a short walk from mum and dad’s).

I’m off to the big city tomorrow, for a morning swim at the Teps, a few bits of shopping and my first househunting foray. It’s all a bit daunting – the Herald Homes section of yesterday’s paper had 95 pages!!! Where to start? Top of my shopping list is a street atlas, so I can reacquaint myself with the city. I’ve found a seemingly helpful agent to drive me around a few places, so we’ll see how that goes.

Daylight saving ended today – hope that doesn’t mean the end of summer, as I haven’t seen too much sign of it yet, and still haven’t managed a swim in the sea. Kevin’s much more hardy – he’s been every day, even in the storm.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Last weekend in EH10

Because tomorrow I fly...

Given the size of my belly, it may not be too much fun

I'm only allowed to take 20kg with me, so some of this stuff will have to stay behind. Especially since I just found out that the rate for excess baggage is £38 per kilo. Ouch!

I think my blog will definitely need a new name, too. Watch this space...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Birthday boy

A happy day on many counts yesterday. There was cake. A cake day is always a good day. Especially when it's chocolate! Then the reason for the cake - A's birthday. As you can see he enjoyed himself immensely. Much fun was had playing with new gadget, the Squeezebox. Our music has been freed.

And then, there was the exciting news that the (rather good) offer on our flat went unconditional - taking us one step closer to being sold up. We accepted the offer 10 days or so ago, but like most offers in Scotland it was subject to survey. Took a while to get a surveyor in, who thought things were fine but wanted a structural engineer to take a look just in case. Apparently (although we didn't know this at the time, and spent last weekend angsting that we'd never sell our flat and that our building might be falling down) this is increasingly common, as a few surveyors have been sued by people buying a place with a clear survey report, only to find problems later. Next twist in the tale - our buyer's solicitor was off sick, and the junior who took on the work couldn't cope. Another couple of day's delay. Then we discovered that the buyer's solicitor had made a keying error with the offer, and accidentally switched a couple of digits around. So the offer wasn't quite as high as we thought (lucky those digits weren't 9 and 1!!!). But all has been worked out now, we're just waiting on the paperwork, with an entry date to suit A's schedule nicely, inthe middle of April. Big sighs of relief all round.

Junior's developed quite a kick in the last few days - and enjoys exercising it just as I'm settling down for the night (or waking up in the morning, or in a meeting). So at 7.30 on Saturday morning, I find myself wide awake and writing my blog, instead of tucked up fast asleep in bed. The 6am birds have started too - must be time for the clocks to change soon.

A week tomorrow it's the big trip. Not really looking forward to the flying bit, but hoping for some sunshine and swims at the other end.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kirsty Gunn on being a mum

Since being pregnant I've taken much more of an interest in the "Family" section of the weekend paper. All sorts of gems are contained within. Best baby slings or nightlights. Oh how my life is changing. There was a great piece this weekend by Kirsty Gunn (a kiwi living in Scotland, coincidentally), about the entanglements and possibilities of domestic life. Worth a read - especially the poem at the end.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What's wrong with ebay?

Well, for a start, everyone keeps outbidding me. Very inconsiderate, and at times bordering on the ridiculous. In the last week I have twice seen a secondhand skirt sell for just less than the new retail price (which adds up to be more, when you count the postage). Crazy! A. discovered yesterday that the search term "maternity" is most popular in London (closely followed by several other English cities, and Dublin). Maybe there's a baby boom going on. No wonder there's all that competition for an Isabella Oliver skirt.

Consequently, I decided to splash out and buy some new preggy gears - an important step, as otherwise I'd be wearing pyjamas to work. People seem compelled this week to make comments like "gosh you've suddenly got HUGE!" and "when I was 5 1/2 months I was hardly showing at all". I'm not taking it personally, nor am I particularly comforted by the thought that big babies run in my family.

In other news, our flat "closes" today at noon. In the Scottish real estate system - quite good for sellers, really crappy for buyers as you may remember if you're a long time reader - this means that all prospective buyers have to make their offers to our solicitors by that time. It's a sort of "sealed bid" auction - you just have to guess how much over the asking price the flat is worth, do some kind of impossible calculation about what the (11) other prospective buyers might be willing to bid, and then if you can sell your granny's jewellery to raise a bit extra and hopefully outbid the rest, do that! Fingers crossed for some diamonds.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How Auckland could be

Some interesting, visionary and even some downright wacky solutions to Auckland's perennial transportation nightmares. Scroll down the blog post till you get to the pics and you'll see what I mean. A 20 min ferry link from the airport to the city, via canal. How cool would that be?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Edinburgh's pulling out all the stops...

...to charm us and woo us with her beauty before we head back to NZ. And I have to say, she's doing a pretty good job!

These are a couple of shots I took yesterday on the way to work, our first real snow of the winter. No new snow today, but a good hard frost to keep everything in the realm of fairytale.

We had a hectic first viewing of our flat last night - 10 separate people/groups. Most people seemed to like it. And in baby news, I seem to be growing quite a kicker in here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

living in a fairytale

Here's the snowy scene that greeted us this morning. Isn't it pretty?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Morningside op shops rock

Here's the latest treasure they've yielded - more kitsch Kiwiana than you can shake a stick at, in the form of this lovely tablecloth. And only £1.50 - what a bargain! The central plateau may not quite be in the right place, and "Mt Ngaurauhoe" has an extra letter, but other than that it's an excellent geographical resource and dining accessory.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

eating and drinking in Edinburgh and Fife

Who needs the Canary Islands when the east of Scotland can turn on a stunning day like this? We made the most of the winter sunshine with an East Neuk tiki tour, checking out the harbour and wynds in Pittenweem, gorging ourselves on fabulous famous fish'n'chips in Anstruther and pretending to be statues and students while dodging golfballs in St Andrew's. Good company (Kevin & Emma), good fun and lots of sun.

Today was a bit greyer, but not dreary enough to deter us from a brisk climb up Arthur's Seat - after all, it may be our last in a while. Wind and views to take your breath away. Ravenous after all that exertion, we stopped in at the new Khushi's for a 4pm curry feast. Why not? The restaurant is a lot more glam than its predecessor, but the food just as good as at Potterow. And being off-peak, we didn't have to wait...

Sticking with the food theme, Friday night we went to Blonde - a bit disappointing - and then down Leith Walk to the homely Boda for drinks (elderflower cordial in my case). Last night's watering hole (after a fab chilli miso salmon concoction chez nous, and ice cream at Luca's) was Bennet's, and tonight we left Kevin and Emma at the Bow bar. That's a whole lot of consumption in establishments mainly beginning with B.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The week I almost met Bill Gates

Pity about that "almost". But I was in the same room, within touching distance at times! That sounds a bit sad...

Gates was in Edinburgh to get an honorary degree from the University, meet some government officials, and to hear about some research - especially in stem cells & regenerative medicine. After all, he does describe biology as a hobby. This is the connection to me - I helped a couple of the scientists who did actually get to meet him and talk about their work to prepare for their presentations.

So what of the man himself? Very natural, very friendly and personable, and very, very smart. After just a minute or two of intro, he had some very sharp questions to ask that got right to the heart of the research and its implications. I was impressed - even if I'm not a big fan of the software.

In other news this week, we've been busily preparing to sell our flat - cutting out clutter and making things look nice. I'll post our schedule when it's ready next week so you can give your verdict...

And today the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and Kevin & Emma arrive for a weekend in Scotland. All is well.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's been a while...

But in my defence, there has been a lot going on. Christmas, an unscheduled trip to NZ, my expanding belly and all the gubbins that goes along with relocating - selling our beautiful flat:-( , organising travel, thinking about where we might live back in Auckland (that one in particular is giving me a headache), sorting stuff with work...

So if you're still with me, great. If you're not remotely interested in babies or moving stories, the next few months could be kinda dull.

Today is an exciting landmark (for me if no-one else) - 20 weeks' pregnant, officially half way through. I'm getting a bit worried about just how big I'm going to be by the time June rolls around.