Newsletter – New Zealand Chapter – 2001 – 2

March 2001

Hi All

This is a quick update of happenings in NZ. By now you will probably know that Irene has found a job in the IT industry and so far she is enjoying it immensely. I, however, am still looking.

The other reason for this e-mail is that I have just learnt how to do a mail merge with e-mail and am testing it out. With a mail merge you can each get the newsletters addressed to your selves personally. Nice hey?

The weather over here is starting to make subtle changes and the air is getting a little cooler, although it is still very pleasant. On Sunday 18th we go into wintertime and have to set the clocks back by one hour. It’s this time saving thing, which they have here.

We hope you enjoyed the last newsletter and thanks to all those who responded.

Until our next letter, stay well and keep in touch.

Love from

Alf, Irene and Evan Wood

Auckland New Zealand

31 March 2001

Well, we are now firmly ensconced in New Zealand. I have found a job, starting on Monday 2nd April. The position is of Production Planner for a small subsidiary of a large Kiwi group of companies. They manufacture, wait for it all you computer geeks… Modem racks. Cool hey? The Salary is good as is the hours (40 hour per week). Between Irene and me, we can save at least ¾ of one of our salaries for the occasional trip overseas or some such luxury.

Irene is enjoying her job immensely and will tell you all about it a little later in the newsletter.

Today is Sunday the 1st April and SANZ (South Africa New Zealand Charitable Trust) are holding a big “Braai” at our local beach (Long Bay). The weather is not so great today so we took a quick ride down to check it out. There was quite a large crowd there despite the weather; every one seemed to be having a great time. As we strolled through the crowd we could smell Boerewors being braaied, it made us think of the days when we used to go down to Bluff beach of a Sunday. Even the accents were the same.

As I will be working on the other side of Auckland and will be staring at 07h30 and Irene and Evan start work and School at 09h00, we realised that we needed an extra vehicle, so we bought ourselves another car. A 1989 Citroen 1400 in immaculate condition (2nd hand cars are very cheap in NZ) for a mere $3500. I will use the Citroen as it is more economical and Irene will use the Van. Both cars have electric windows, radios, heated rear windows etc. Nice.

Last weekend we decided, as we live on the East Coast and have never seen the West coast, that we would take a trip across the country to a place called Piha on the West Coast. Well 45 minutes later we arrived at this most beautiful, unspoilt beach and lovely quaint town of Piha. What really amazed us is that it took only 45 minutes to travel from the Pacific Ocean on the East coast, across country to the Tasman Sea on the West coast. This is just THE most wonderful country. Piha seems to be where the surfer-dudes hang out. The waves were impressive to say the least.

Evan is still making great strides at school and has settled in well, even with a trace of an accent developing. Cute. On Wednesday night 4th April he will be playing in his first major concert for the year. (The school puts on 4 per year) We had to buy him black formal trousers, white shirt and bow tie for the occasion. He will be playing a solo as well as in the orchestra. We are so proud of him.

We have booked to go away for the Easter weekend with friends. We are going up to a place called Kerkeri, which is about three hours north of Auckland, almost at the most northerly tip of NZ. We believe that the climate up there is sub tropical and lovely and warm this time of year, so we hope to have a great weekend of sun and surf. There are also many interesting and beautiful sites to see.

I must tell you all about the “Afrikaanse Klub”. There is a “helle klomp” of these people living here on the North Shore. Anyway, about three weeks ago, I saw advertised in the local newspaper that the “Afrikaanse Klub” was having a meeting for all interested parties to discuss the Afrikaners roll in NZ and where they stood in the community. So being inquisitive, I decided to attend and hear what went on and also the fact that the meeting was across the road from our house made it dead easy to get there. Well, firstly the meeting was held only in Afrikaans and they made it quite clear that I had no place being there and that I would be far more comfortable if I joined SANZ which was for the English speaking SA’cans. Of course I refused to leave and they accepted me reluctantly. The topic of discussion was “How do the Afrikaners see themselves in NZ and should they be classified as an ethnic group”. It was unanimously decided that they would like to be an ethnic group known as the “Afrikaner Kiwis”. (The NZ government gives financial grants to recognised ethnic groups.) They also resolved to try and preserve their heritage, language and Calvinistic religion for as long as they could. They have even started Afrikaans lessons on a Saturday morning for their children and those who don’t want to loose the language. ($5.00 per oggend!) I, of course, opened my mouth and told them that no matter how hard they tried, their children were being educated at Kiwi schools and in English and that the kids would inevitably end up as Kiwis. They certainly were not too impressed with my comments. These people never cease to amaze me, with their small minds.

I’ll now hand over to Irene who will amuse you with some funny and interesting anecdotes.

Irene says

Yeah, yeah!

I will try not to bore you with too much news about my job. The company is called Optecs (optecs.com) and, as well as a few other things, they provide a service, which enables one to have a voice (and camera) meeting with one or several contacts. This is done from a web page – your own page if you like. If you wanted to chat to me I would just give you web address and hey presto! We are chatting. It is almost real-time and too wonderful to see (hear). They have daily meetings with directors in the US and I am usually working at my pc whilst the meeting is in progress in the same office. What is unique about the company is that if a user is experiencing a problem with Optecs software (or good ole Microsoft, which is usually the case) our people actually take control of the pc, wherever in the world the pc may be, from the NZ offices. The other day one of our technical people was trying to sort out a browser problem on a client’s pc (in Italy) and the techie discovered a virus, which she promptly cleared – on the spot. That kind of free service makes Optecs unique. Anyway they are paying me very well and I am loving it because of the challenge, because of the continual learning that I am undergoing and also because of the fact that I am working in the industry that I am comfortable with. If I ever leave them, for whatever reason, I think it will be a lot easier for me to get another position because I will have had “Kiwi Experience”. At the moment we are operating from the CEO’s cosy little mansion. And yes, we are all barefoot most of the time.

Just by the way, those of you who have been watching the calendar will know that I have only worked there for two and a half weeks of March. They gave me a full month’s pay! I LIKE ‘EM

We don’t hear many jokes but Alf and I decided to share one or two with you in our brand new: –

Corny Corner

What do you call a worm on Viagra?

A nail!

And one from Bradley;

A little girl goes to the barbershop with her father.

She stands next to the barber chair, eating a cake while her dad gets his haircut.

The barber smiles at her and says, “Sweetheart, you’re gonna get hair on your muffin.”

“I know,” she replies. “I’m gonna get tits too.”

And one from Matt.

This guy and this kid are walking through the woods.

“I’m frightened,” says the kid.

“I don’t know why YOU are afraid,” says the older guy, “I have to walk back alone.”

And just for grins, a little Kiwi-nglish

Farewell has been extended to: Mr So-and so was farewelled today at his retirement ceremony.

Regularly is pronounced reg-u-lee

Particularly is pronounced pit-ick-u-lee

And this is one that makes my toes curl…. Fran, Don, Brad, Jill:

The word trousers or pants is “pant”

This can be used for a woman’s knickers or a pair of long trousers… pant!

If one is happy with the state of something it is simply “Sweet as.”

Yes is yup.

Oh yes! is yup, yup, yup!

And in a shop one is never approached by a salesperson with the words “May I help you?” Oh, heavens no! It is too suggestive to say that. They say “How yah doin’?” And, of course, being well-mannered South Africans we say, “Very well, thank you and you?”

This usually causes a heavenward glance. We are not supposed to do that. We are supposed to say, “Good, do you have a nice pink pant in a size 38?”

I actually love the Kiwi. He is a hardworking, hard driving, honest fellow. The ones I work with are truly lovely people. The young propeller-heads (wiz kid computer geeks) seem to think I need looking after and are always very polite and courteous to me. Whisper I have not used a single four-letter word yet and I have been there for two weeks.

I just had to tell you about this. The other day a couple of nice young men knocked on the door. They wanted access to the manhole cover along the side of our house. I let them in after the one told me that they would only be about half an hour. They only needed to insert a camera down the hole to check that there were no roots or other matter down there, which may cause a blockage. Now those of you in the States and UK may be shrugging, bored, but my mouth still falls open when I think of it! A camera! Cheeeeez!

In SA it is; send the okes down and wait till someone shouts, “Baas!!!”

Another North Shore Kiwi activity that Alf and I have taken to with gusto is the Evening Picnic. After work these okes pack a basket and head for the beach. Just sit there with a glass of wine and a meal and watch the waves, kids, and dogs, whatever – just enjoying the evening sunlight. Remember that the beaches are clean, have nice grassy verges and have picnic tables and chairs in situ.

Oooooh please let me tell you about the Kiwi dog owner. Alf and I noticed that there are metal boxes atop poles at the beach. These boxes are crammed with checkers packets (or Foodtown bags, more like). We always wondered what they were for. The other day we learned. A little old lady arrived with her leashed doggie in tow. She went along to the box and took a bag. She then tottered down the beach path with her dog, which promptly deposited on the path. She used the bag like a glove and picked up the doggie doo and carried it all the way on the walk. Took it home with her. Nice eh? No dog shit on the beach.

And another story, about beer this time. There are a lot of small breweries in NZ. The one I will tell you about is called DB. DB has a plant in Greymouth, where they brew Monteith Lager. Management decided to move the operation to Auckland because they were expanding and felt that it would be more cost effective to centralise. This meant that about eighteen people would be retrenched (they do not have big production sites here – eighteen is about as big as they get). Anyway, the locals at Greymouth were not happy about this decision. The TV news showed the locals sitting around at the pub, boycotting DB products and sporting Tee-shirts proclaiming that DB stood for Dumb Bastards. A week later, after the strike took its toll, Management decided not to move the operation and to keep the staff on. The TV news then showed the same pub. The locals were all there, drinking DB beer and wearing shirts carrying the slogan DB = Decent Blokes…. Don’t yah just gotta love the Kiwi?

Just for interest sake, wild life here is ducks and spiders.

Ok okes, now for the not such fun stuff. I have huge pile of ironing, I have been begging Alf for the last hour to wash the bus and Evan wants me to shorten his new pant.

Love to all of you.

Irene

Ok guys, I’ll end off with some words of wisdom from Andy Rooney thank to Graham Shuts.

I’ve learned….

That just one person saying to me, “You’ve made my day!” makes my day.

I’ve learned….

That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I’ve learned….

That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

Love to all

Alf

April 2001

Hello All,

This is Irene typing,

Yesterday at lunchtime we attended the weekly school concert at Evan’s school. This is done, among other things, to assimilate the children in aspects of public performance, audience response and primarily to record the events for the child’s portfolio. The auditorium where the concert is held has a cutting edge recording studio attached.

On Tuesday, one of the pupils in Evan’s school cut himself and was booked off for five days. Guess who was asked to do the hurt child’s piece on Friday? Yeah right! Evan. Evan, who had a piece of his own to play already. So there were five children doing a piece at the concert and the E was the only one to have to do two pieces. Also, on Monday the school is having it’s official opening day ceremony. Attending will be anyone of any standing who can be there, including an honourable MP.

It is Saturday morning and the school just phoned and asked Evan to do a piece for the ceremony. We can only assume that they listened to the recordings of yesterday and decided that our lil’ angel should perform.

The piece E will play has the Principal accompanying him on the piano. It is a nice, racy piece with quite intricate finger work. Alf and I think Evan “is te wonderlik!” We had a short chat with the Principal, who is a strong pianist in NZ. (He gets to perform at any major gig needing an ace pianist and is a current, sought-after performer). Anyway the principal reckons that E is exceptionally talented. He says it is difficult to believe that E has only been playing the piano for a few weeks and that he manages to do two pieces a week. Confused? Well Evan has to study a second instrument at the school, and that is piano, by school edict. They reckon for rhythm, fluency, harmony etc in the music field one needs to play the piano. By the way Darren, your dad and I want to know if you will be doing guitar at the Studio 10 School. (Studio 10 is the adult music school affiliated to Corelli, Evan’s school, by the way.)

Evan has bliss at home. We bought him a nice PC desk with a slide-out shelf for the PC keyboard. We bought him an electronic keyboard, which fits on this sliding shelf, and the PC keyboard fits above it. So he has this command centre where he can work on the computer or on the piano. He does a lot of music stuff through the computer, too. We had to buy the piano keyboard in order for him to practice his piano stuff at home. Er, for those of you health conscious people, yes he does get a little exercise. The Music school is completely inside a building. The one side has diamond mesh walls and astro-turf floors. There they play badminton and volleyball.

Other Stuff

I have taken a temporary, part-time job. Now if any of you fuckers laugh!!!!! Pat, my friend has asked me to come in and help with the kids on Monday’s and Tuesdays…. Margaret, STOP LAUGHING!!!

I will let you okes know what happens there. Alf keeps looking at me, smiling and muttering things like, “Poor lil kids!” and “My wife, the Nanny!”

I hand this over to Alf to finish. Love yah!

Irene

This is Alf.

Well, not too much news from my side, except that I went for another interview on Friday afternoon for a Production Planner position and will probably have to go in on Tuesday for another interview, so hold thumbs for me. Irene will be doing our friend, Pat’s hair this afternoon so I’ll be pottering around the garage doing a little furniture restoration.

Have a nice weekend.

Lots of love

Alf

7 May 2001

Hi All,

How time flies when you’re having fun. We have been in NZ six months already and are enjoying every minute of it.

I trust that you all had a good Easter. Ours was great and you will all have to indulge me while I tell you all about it.

Isn’t it funny that when something starts off badly it always seems to end well? Our Easter weekend had a pretty gloomy start.

On Thursday prior to Good Friday the weatherman forecast shocking weather for most of the North Island as there was a cyclone heading straight for Northland and the Bay of Islands, where we had booked for the weekend. Thursday saw heavy rain in and around Auckland, so bad that it took me well over an hour to get home from work. Well, you can imagine how disappointed we felt, we had been looking forward to this long weekend for some time.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the next day, Good Friday, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

We left Auckland at about 11am and headed North for Kerikeri, which is normally a three-hour drive. Needless to say, everyone else was also heading north and it took us one and a half hours to get to Orewa, which is only 18 km from where we live. Traffic like I have never seen before. We finally arrived in Kerikeri at 5pm that evening. From then on everything went well.

On booking into the holiday park, we were invited by the manager to a communal BBQ and that we need only bring our meat and drinks and they would supply salads and arrange the fires. So off we went with “vleis en drank” in our “Chilly Bin” to the BBQ. The BBQ was held in a huge “boma” type area with two massive log fires, one for the cooking and one for warmth and atmosphere. The salads that they supplied were, a noodle, rice and French salad, as well as jacket potatoes. There was music and chatter and everyone had a good time. We were very tired from the trip so went off to bed at about 10pm.

We had booked what they call a tourist cabin, which is one large room with a double bed and set of double bunks (sleeps four). Also a small dining table with four chairs and fully equipped with crockery and cutlery, kettle and pots and pans. The kitchen and bathrooms are shared, but they are spotlessly clean and not a far walk from the cabins. All in all, very comfortable and inexpensive accommodation.

On the Saturday morning while waiting for our friends from Auckland to join us (They are Catholics and wanted to attend mass on Good Friday in Auckland) we explored the little town of Kerikeri and did our weekend food shopping. Kerikeri is a lovely resort town on the Bay of Islands. It is quite tropical and a big citrus growing area of NZ. It is very warm and quite beautiful.

When our friends arrived at about lunchtime, we all took a boat tour around the Bay of Islands in amongst its 144 islands and eventually culminating at an island called “Hole in the Rock” which exactly describes what it is. At one stage of the cruise we came across a large school of Dolphins, who swam and frolicked alongside the boat for about fifteen minutes, it was amazing.

When we boarded the boat, we were given a traditional Maori welcome, with the nose rubbing and all. The weather was perfect and we had a really wonderful day, ending it back at the Park with quite a few glasses of wine. Suffice to say we slept like logs.

We had to be up early on Sunday morning as we had booked a coach tour up to Cape Reinga, the most northerly accessible point in NZ, and the bus was picking us up at the park at 8am.

Our first stop was at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom, which is a furniture factory specialising in the manufacture of furniture made from 10 to 50 thousand year old Kauri timber. The timber is found buried under many layers of peat and moss and is preserved by the peat. Before any of the timber is cut for furniture it is carbon tested for age. Most of this ancient Kauri has been used up and because of it’s rarity has become very expensive. The furniture produced is quite exquisite.

Our next port of call was the “90 Mile Beach”, which runs up the West coast of Northland. It is in fact not 90 miles long but only 67 km and is an official highway with speed traps and all. Travelling at 100 kpm on beach sand with seawater breaking over the bus, for about an hour, was certainly an awesome experience.

After leaving the beach through a creek called “Quick Sand Creek” we stopped at a series of huge sand dunes, where we were all given boogie boards to go “Dune surfing”. Great fun was had by all, young and old. The difficulty for me (at 35 years of age) was climbing up the bloody sand dune. (Irene comments: Alf broke the record for “distance slid” that day!)

Tired out and full of sand, we boarded the bus and headed off for Cape Reinga, the most Northerly accessible point in NZ. It is at this point that the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. A truly magnificent sight. Cape Reinga is the most spiritual and holy sight for the Maori people. They believe that it is from this point that their spirits leave the Earth plain and joins with the spirits of their ancestors.

After a great picnic lunch, which we brought with us, and a few glasses of wine, we once again boarded the bus and started our journey back to Kerikeri. The trip back was very quiet with only a stop at one of the many forest reserves and another stop off at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom. Most of us had a nice afternoon nap on the bus. We arrived back at Kerikeri at about 6pm. All had a wonderful day. By the way, if I didn’t mention it before, the weather was just great.

Easter Monday. After checking out of our cabins at 10am we had a huge breakfast, which the girls had prepared. We then packed the van and car and decided to take a slow drive back to Auckland via the West coast (Pacific Ocean). The west coast from the southern tip of 90 Mile Beach to Auckland is very rugged and tropical. There are many lovely little fishing villages and resorts all the way down. We stopped at one of the many Kauri forests where we went in to see the biggest living Kauri tree in NZ. Kauri trees are protected in NZ and may NOT be cut down with out government approval. They are gigantic, growing to heights of 50 odd meters. The Maoris believe that if one hugs a Kauri tree, one is given healing for whatever ails you. It is supposed to give one a new lease on life. Not only did I hug the tree, I kissed it as well.

The trip was relaxing and enjoyable and we arrived home at about 6pm feeling great after one of the nicest Easter weekends we had had for a long time.

Irene will now entertain you all with some anecdotes and humour, so I’ll say cheers to you all.

H E R E’ S I R E N E!!!!!!

Corny corner is empty this time. No one has told us any jokes so we’ve been making faces in the mirror for a laugh.

We have really settled into suburban bliss. We have mail just like we had in SA. Letters from political parties telling us how marvellous they are; letters from the tax man, car licence forms, school news letters, and now we are seriously considering buying a house. How one rushes into the trappings eh? Why can’t we lead the simple life?

Courier brought a letter from immigration. Alf has been accepted as a permanent resident. This entitles him to whatever is going here. Free medical, “Going on The Benefit”, not too sure what else. No doubt we will learn soon enough. After paying a work permit processing fee of $80 (approx R280) and an immigration application fee for $500 (approx R1750) they now only require some money which will be used to teach non English speaking immigrants English – $250 (approx R875) and that wonderful hold-all called a “levy” of $90 (this one you can work out yourself – the conversion is 3.5 at the moment).

The chequebook was hauled out immediately, cheque written (he even filled out the counterfoil) and posted… Huge smiles from Alf. All he needs now to be a regular Kiwi is a passion for Pavlova (yuk!), a boat and a funny accent!

Pavlova is something they love here. It looks marvellous. It is a giant, slightly floppy meringue, which they have with some other stuff, heaven forbid, fruit I think, and guzzle down enthusiastically. We bought one, had a few spoonfuls, looked enquiringly at each other and once again used the food munching garbage disposal thingy in the sink.

Weather is cooling down. Do you know that when the wind blows our house rocks? Think about that a bit. We live in the box on top of the house. The other night we had gale force winds accompanied by cats and dogs. Alf and I had visions of the two of us holding frantically onto the duvet whilst we watched our bedroom blow away and into a vortex of some sort.

And from the language department, a few kiwi words for you.

A kokie (felt tipped pen) is a vivid.

Press stick is blue tack

Flip flops are jandals.

Let me just briefly tell you about Rangitoto. Rangitoto is an inactive/dormant volcano island just off the coast of Auckland. It is visible from Auckland and surrounds. The last time it erupted was ± 800 years ago. Well, some Kiwi’s decided to light a fire on the summit, some years back. This they did at dawn on April 1st.

Wish I’d been here to see the reaction.

Catcha later, all!

Irene.

We will end with these words of wisdom:

Great minds discuss ideas;

Average minds discuss events;

Small minds discuss people.

He who loses money, loses much;

He, who loses a friend, loses much more;

He, who loses faith, loses all.


June 2001

Hi All

It is Sunday afternoon 10th June and the rainy, chilly weather is certainly not conducive to any kind of outdoor activity, hence the writing of the newsletter. We trust that all are as well as we are and we are very well indeed.

Last weekend, being a long weekend, we decided to go down South to the North Island Ski fields at a place called Ohakune. Ohakune is a small Ski resort village at the foot of Mt. Ruapehu, the highest peak on the north island and a volcano that last erupted in 1999. Fortunately for the locals, when it erupts, it usually just spews mud and slush down the side of the mountain with only the Ski field suffering any major damage.

The village is very picturesque and apparently quite a rocking place to be in the ski season. Unfortunately the ski-ing season had not yet opened when we were there but we were still able to hire Toboggans and have a good time on the mountain.

Brad and Darren, you may remember we actually stopped in Ohakune on our way back to Auckland in November last year. Brad and I had a sandwich in a little café on one of the corners in the main street.

The weather was good the whole weekend although it was very cold at night, with temperatures dropping below zero. All in all we had a wonderful weekend.

Around the other side of the mountain (Above) is another ski resort called Whakapapa. (Wh. in Maori is pronounced F. So Whakapapa is pronounced Fak-a-Papa)  Whakapapa is supposed to be the biggest ski field in New Zealand and has about 6 or 7 ski lifts to various slopes on the mountain. (Irene Says: One can drive almost all the way to the top, in case you thought we walked.) The ski village has quite a few ski lodges and pubs and restaurants. It is really quite lovely.

Tuesday 12th June

Irene says that the last newsletter was too much like a travelogue so I have toned the travel thing down a bit. Both our jobs are going well and we are enjoying the way the Kiwis do things. There have been quite a few changes at the company where I work and there may be a promotion for me in the near future, I am holding thumbs.

Evan continues to thrive at Corelli and will be doing his 4th grade Royal Schools flute exam later this year as well as 2nd grade piano. He has also been approached to play in the orchestra for a local production of “The Boyfriend” (that evergreen musical written by Sandy Wilson). We are going to the rehearsal tonight so that he can pick up the score and start practicing.

22h00 12th June

We have just got back from Evan’s first “Boyfriend” rehearsal. What memories! All those Bluff Drama people, do you remember all the fun we had? It was so heart warming sitting and watching the rehearsal, listening to all the great songs and music again and remembering all the wonderful times we had together while staging “The Boyfriend” and all the other excellent stuff we did. Oh well, at least we do still have those lovely memories.

The weather here in Auckland has been very cold but with lots of sunshine, quite pleasant actually. Everyone here says it is the coldest winter that they can remember in Auckland. Well, if this is the coldest it ever gets then I certainly am pleasantly surprised. It’s not bad at all, nothing like our Christmas in the UK.

Thursday 14th June 18H40

Someone told us when we arrived here that if we did not like the Auckland weather, we should stick around for five minutes and it will change.  Well it certainly can change from day to day. Today felt like a warm spring day – lovely.

We are going to Evan’s second rehearsal of “The Boyfriend” tonight. He is quite excited about the whole thing, and we are enjoying watching the progress. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but Auckland has a HUGE traffic problem. It is the worst I have ever experienced, so much so that it is the topic of conversation with most NZ-Landers in general and Aucklanders in particular.

There is currently a campaign to make all the local councils and government aware of the unsatisfactory situation on the roads. Postcards are being distributed to all businesses and households asking that they be sent to the Mayor’s (pronounced MARES) of all the surrounding cities and towns and the Prime Minister.

The results of a census recently taken in NZ puts the population of Auckland at 1.3 million and judging by the traffic, they all have cars in which they drive to and from work. I have to leave home at 06h10 to be able to get to work by 07h00. If I leave 10minutes later I will only get to the office at 07h45 – horrific! I actually have to start at 07h30. I leave the office at 15h50 so that I can get to Evan’s school to pick him up a 16h30. Great fun.

I am now going to hand the keyboard to Irene for her contribution.

Mild Friday Evening – 15/06/2001

Hi y’all.

I don’t really have much to add to Alf’s bits and pieces, so I’ll just tuck the tongue in my cheek and go for it.

SHOP NAMES:

Here are a few: Postie Plus, Hard Candy, Farmers and Gull.

Well Postie Plus sells ladies clothing, specializing in lingerie, Hard Candy sells cell phones, Farmers is a general store, (clothing, kitchenware, linen etc) and Gull sells petrol! Of course there are more but I can’t think of any just now.

Alf and I get all excited when we spot a NZ documentary or travel show on the TV. Love watching them. This country is fascinating – all volcanoes, funny Maori names, green hills, sheep, cows, gumboots and lots and lots of water.

In NZ one can get a driver’s license at 15 years of age – granted it is restricted, meaning that you can’t drive during peak traffic times and there is also some rule about passengers. But, problem is, like all new residents in NZ, one can drive for a year with a non-NZ license. Now, New Zealand has very many Asian (Chinese, Taiwanese etc) students here. They love to study here for some reason. But trouble is these kids arrive here with big bucks, buy fast cars, buy “home country” ricences and get behind the wheel. *shudder* If you hear a voice say “aaaaah… ah ruve aukrand!” RUN!!! SIX of these fourteen and fifteen-year-olds have caused accidents in aukrand – velly solly: Auckland, since Jan one!!! (This of course makes headline news.)

Talking of headline news. Wow Bob, but you’d die of boredom here! The other day the placards read, “ROOSTER SHOT” – headlines in several newspapers. The cops were called out by some older folk in some small town because the local rooster was making a nuisance of himself, crowing and stuff. So the fuzz shot the bugger. BUT, you see the thing is, this noisy fowl was the local pre-primary school’s pet, wasn’t he? So, out went the news crews, with packed lunches, spare film, and whatever paraphernalia they trundle along to GET THE STORY! They duly snapped sniveling kids, crossed sticks planted in the ground with a few wilted daisies taped to them.

*sigh* – such bliss, this country. Pity about the police brutality though! Snicker.

MOVING HOUSE.

I am sure they do this in the States but it is fascinating to those of us who have lived in places where “brick and tile” means bricks mortar and real tiles, not thin brick cladding that is glued and tacked onto the wooden walls of a house. Wow, but do I wander. They actually move houses here. You can become a House Mover, which means you move the house – you put the house onto a wagon and move it. I once saw a small house in transit and almost drove up a pole. But I wanna see one of those big mansion type houses being shifted from Auckland to Wanganui or some such place. They actually do it. One day I’ll snap it for you.

A “Vivid” is a felt-tipped pen. The other day I saw a national-type athletics event. They just sommer used a vivid to put the athlete’s number on his chest! When I think of all the sewing that goes on before the Comrades I smile quietly to myself.

Orthodontics here does not exist. I have yet to see a person wearing braces. The Prime Minister, Dear Old Helen Elizabeth Clark, can eat an apple through a tennis racquet. Most of the TV announcers have teeth like a picket fence after a tornado! I have the right to go on about this a bit because I am more or less the same age as Helen Elizabeth and my mom, who battled through rearing her five children, found the money to have my teeth straightened! Please, those of you with children whose teeth are a bit not so straight, have them fixed!

I’ll be back. Gotta go fetch the E from rehearsals.

Sunday 17th June

This is Alf again, just wanted to tell you about our day. We were invited by our friends Martin and Pat to join them in the celebration of their daughter, Nita’s 23rd Birthday. The celebration took the form of brunch at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland.

The weather today was lovely. The sun was shining and visibility very good. So all had a great day.

Well, this concludes our June Newsletter. We hope you have enjoyed it and we apologize that it took so long to complete, but now that we are both working there is little time in the evenings to dedicate to letter writing.

Lots of love from

Alf, Irene and Evan

October 2, 2001

Hi All

Once again we apologize for not writing sooner, but we have been so busy house hunting and organizing Darren’s move to NZ that we have not had much timeout. The events of the last 3 weeks in the US have not made it any easier either.

The tragedy in NY and Washington must truly be the most catastrophic event of our time and has left everyone totally drained. The rumours and “urban legends’ are flying around NZ as, I’m sure, they are all over the world. To me the most bizarre of all is the one about the flight number of one of the planes, which hit one of the twin towers. The flight number was Q33NY. If you type this in MSWord in caps and increase the font to 26 and then change the font to “Wingdings” you will see something, which will blow your collective minds. Quite scary.

Well, I think that is enough of the gloom and doom, now for some good news. As already mentioned, Darren has now joined us in NZ and is already working. He was here exactly one day when he was offered a job at the company where Irene works; she had nothing to do with it and was as surprised as he was. Anyway he accepted the job and now we are very busy trying to organize him permanent residence. It goes without saying that we are absolutely over the moon with happiness that he is now home with us. We are starting to work on Brad now.

After months of house hunting we finally found and bought the house where we plan to spend the rest of our lives. It is not the perfect house but in our price range we think we got quite a bargain. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms with Spa bath, huge lounge and dining room. Lovely modern well-fitted kitchen and a beautiful deck with magnificent valley views. All this on the top floor. Under the big house is a fully self-contained one bedroom flat also with its own huge lounge/dining room, kitchen, double bedroom and valley view deck. AND. …enough ground to put on another two bed roomed cottage, which we will be doing early in the New Year. And just for a mere R990 000. Not bad hey? Now some of you may be asking why we would want such a big house at our age, with the kids almost all out the house? Well, we want to turn it into a B&B as our retirement income. Although we won’t be waiting for retirement, we plan to have the B&B in operation by the beginning of Feb next year, we are just waiting for after Darren’s 21st Birthday in January when he is expecting a huge crowd of friends from the UK so they are going to need a place to bed down. Once they have all gone back we will open the guesthouse. We take occupation on the 12th October so the packing has begun.

Evan continues to excel leaps and bounds in his music and obtained a cool 100% for his grade one theory in the Royal Schools exam. He also gained a distinction for grade three flute with the Royal Schools practical exam. He is now studying for grade three theory and grade five flute and grade one piano exams to be held in November. Needless to say he loves every minute of it and we are very proud parents.

As we told you in our last newsletter, Evan played in a local production of “The Boyfriend”. The show ran for one week and was a huge success in the area. Evan enjoyed it immensely, gaining a wealth of knowledge from the experience. The biggest surprise came a few weeks later when he received, in the mail, a cheque for $100 being his share of the proceeds.

The summer is coming on fast now and the trees are all blossoming. The 7th October sees the start of daylight saving when we move our clocks back by one hour. We love the summer here, long warm days, we very often take a picnic dinner down to the local beach and drink wine and just relax after a hard day’s work. The sun only sets after nine at night so it really is a wonderful experience.

We now have our own chat page on the World Wide Web, thanks to Irene and Darren’s company and Darren’s expertise. When I say chat, I really mean CHAT, with microphone and speakers. The sound quality is excellent and all it cost is your normal telephone rate to your ISP. We are on line most nights from between 8 pm to about 11 pm NZ time and off and on during the weekends. While surfing, please come in and have a chat. (You will be asked to download a small, harmless file, which may take a second or two. All you need is a microphone and speakers, but if you do not have a mike, we can use the text chat. You will hear voices and you can type back in response. Even a 28 800 modem is sufficient.)(No longer in use)

It is at this point that I normally hand the keyboard over to Irene for her usual interesting and humorous observations of NZ life, but unfortunately she has been and is still suffering from a severe case of ‘flu. She sends love and kisses to all and hopes you don’t all catch her ‘flu.

 

The New Zealand Woods

Alf, Irene, Darren & Evan