Newsletter – New Zealand Chapter – 2004

March 2004

Hi All

It’s been a while since our last newsletter and quite a lot has happened since then although when I think back, it is quite difficult to remember everything that has happened. They call it old age, I think.

Well, to start with, we had a very good summer, nice and warm and lots of sunshine (apart from the floods in February). We had Irene’s brother Anthony and his partner Ingrid here for Christmas, it was great to see them and we all had a wonderful time together, just too short – we would have preferred a much longer stay. (Take note, you two).

We were also blessed with a lovely visit from my sister Margie in January. She spent just over three weeks with us. It was a pleasure having you here Margs, we had such fun. We still laugh at all the things we got up to while you were here. We miss you stacks. We are sorry that Matt and Joe didn’t come too. (Take note, you two). Another nice surprise was a visit, albeit short, from our good friend from Stanger, Graham Shuttleworth, it was really good to see you again, Graham.

I’m still teaching at the same Korean owned English language school. I’ve also increased my private students from three to seven so I’m kept very busy. Irene has changed jobs and now is administration manager for a carpet importer and supplier. She will tell you more about it later in the newsletter.

I mentioned in our last newsletter that Evan had done well in the Cambridge music exams last year. Well we didn’t realize how well until the final results came through from Cambridge in February. He achieved the highest mark and was placed first in New Zealand for O level Music. He was awarded a lovely certificate and a monetary prize of $100. He has now started his new school (Westlake Boys High School) and seems to be enjoying it very much. The school is one of the top government schools in NZ and has great music and foreign language departments, so he is in his element. He was immediately accepted into the concert band which is just one of four bands which the school has in conjunction with their sister school (Westlake Girls High School).

All four of the Bands will be doing a tour of Sydney, Australia in July so there is much practice and excitement in the Wood home at the moment.

On the 16th February, Evan and I became fully fledged Kiwis. We had to swear allegiance to Queen Liz the 2nd, the Queen of New Zealand. (Funny, I thought she was Queen of England)  Anyway, we are now eligible for NZ passports for which we have already applied. However, it will take a lot more than a Kiwi passport to get Africa out of my blood, I still shout for the Boks and the Proteas.

Our grandson, Ethan, turns one year old on the 20th March. How time flies. We miss them so much, but we do get to see him on occasions via our web cam.

Darren is doing very well and has a good job. He also does a lot of private work and is kept quite busy. He is sharing a house with a great Canadian couple and seems contented and happy, he often pops in for a meal and we sometimes meet at the pub for a drink or go out for dinner. We are in the process of organizing permanent residence for him but the Immigration department are forever moving the goalposts. Anyway I think we are almost there.

There are more and more South Africans coming into NZ every day and where we stay on the North Shore has become known as little SA. One cannot go anywhere without hearing either Afrikaans or a strong SA accent. Well at least it helps with the homesickness.

My news has all but run out so I’m going to hand over to Irene for some of her usual Kiwi humour.

Bye for now and to those who never write, pull your thumbs out of you know where and drop us a line with some news.

Lots of love

Alf

Irene says:

It’s been far too long since our last letter. Much has happened. Evan has changed schools, Irene has changed jobs and Darren has been very busy developing a web site and ultimately a career, it seems. For those of you who are web-aware, do go and have a look: http://www.webdeveloper.co.nz/ .

And of course, there have been a few negatives too. The old villa has sprung a leak. However, I always look on the bright side – it is quite harmonic, the dripping – into a bucket, right beside the once cutting edge hi fi – in the lounge.

So, last weekend brought Alf perched on a hired ladder (we don’t have one long enough), peering over the gutter at the roof. Not allowed to actually leave the ladder (Irene’s rules). I was holding the ladder, standing in the lounge; strapping tied around one of the rungs, then around my ample middle, leaning back. Let me tell you, I aint a little thing, that ladder was not going anywhere.

Okay, looks like we need new flashing and one of those backpack jet-engine things, the roof is about fifteen metres from the ground and the ground is a really slippery slope.. So we need a roofing-type-kiwi-fellah; *sigh*

We shall have to haul out the chequebook and call superman. Anyway, it only rains about once a day here, so it could be worse.

Another negative:

Auckland’s winter is banging at the door. I sit here at 6:30am and consider donning a cardigan. The days have been glorious but the evenings and nights are distinctly cool.

My new job is marvellous. I now realise how I have been vegetating, working from home. Joe Naude, don’t dare laugh, but I am the computer guru in the office. They think I am so clever! I can actually fix a watermark in Microsoft Word! They are changing their accounting software from MYOB (my old buddy) to Exonet; some new-fangled thing that they reckon makes bookkeeping really simple! You’ll soon know about that when I email you from the loony-bin. (‘Cept, of course I would never be able to do that, because Helen Elizabeth Clark, our esteemed prime minister, closed all those when she took office. Would you believe that all mentally ill are out-patients…). I’ll tell you about our new neighbour in the next newsletter. *chuckle*.

Evan now speaks Mandarin moderately well. Well, well enough to sing Chinese opera ad nauseam. I won’t say more. He reads Korean too. Loudly!

Last night proudly announced that he has three credits for PhysEd! An all-time first in this neck of the woods!

Shall have to move along with a nudge to ask you guys to write back, please…

Kisses,

Irene


26 June 2004

Hello from a cold but sunny Auckland.

Easter has come and gone, and so has the summer, but we can’t complain. We have had a good summer and up to now the winter has been good too, cold but sunny.

Irene mentioned in our last newsletter that we had sprung a leak in our roof above the lounge. Well, we just couldn’t find anyone to come out and fix it. (Irene had forbidden me to get up on the roof, and I must confess, I didn’t protest too loudly). Anyway, one afternoon while going through the post, I came across a pamphlet of a business, which claimed to specialise in roof repairs and coatings. The contact names on the pamphlet were “Faan” and “Jan”, so I called and after a long chat in my ever fading, but best Afrikaans, I had secured the services of a very able roof repairer. Not only did he fix the leak, we got him to remove an old redundant chimney from the roof that was quite an eyesore from the front of the house. “Faan en sy hele famielie, vier seuns en die vrou” (Faan and his whole family, four sons and the wife) immigrated to NZ four years ago and started up their own roofing business and are doing well. They want to work so I say good luck to them.

Evan is getting very excited about his trip to Australia (Sydney). They leave on Saturday 26th June (today) and return next Sunday (4th July). It is going to be a wonderful but busy week for him; they will be doing quite a few concerts as well as the usual sightseeing. They will also be seeing “The Lion King” the musical and other musical concerts. Naturally, they will also be visiting the famous Sydney Opera house. We wish we were going with him, the lucky boy.

The weekend of the 5th, 6th, and 7th June was a long weekend in NZ (Queen’s Birthday Weekend) and we decided to go up north to a place called the Kauri Coast. The Kauri Coast is about 200km north of Auckland on the west coast and has some of the most beautiful indigenous forests in NZ. The weather was not too marvellous but we had a great relaxing weekend. We went on a guided night walk in the forest, hoping to see a real live Kiwi in the wild. I am now convinced that Kiwis do not exist and are only figments of New Zealanders’ imaginations. We spent two hours on the walk and did manage to see three of the NZ big five. Kauri snails, Eels and Wetas (large cricket cum cockroach type insects found in the forest). The other two, which we didn’t see, are the Kiwi (which is endangered) and the possum (which has been declared a pest and which the government is trying to eradicate).

A few weeks ago we decided to have a cultural Sunday lunch and invited my students around to experience a NZSA traditional meal. We dubbed it the “Asian Invasion”. We went all out on the food and served them “Tomatie Bredie with yellow rice”, “Biltong” (as a pre meal snack), “Boere wors” and two different kinds of “Mielie Pap” (Phutu), “Morogo”, and “Vet Koek”. We also served them the traditional “Kiwi” dessert, “Pavlova” complements of Amanda, Darren’s girlfriend.

The guest list resembled a United Nations membership list. We had four Japanese, one Chinese, one Korean, one Russian, one Israeli and of course four South Africans and one Kiwi. Anyway all had a good time.

Talking about students, I am still teaching at the same Korean school in the mornings but now I have a job teaching IELTS speaking and listening in the afternoons from 1pm to 3pm at another school. I also still have a few private students who I teach in the evenings. Teaching is very rewarding but also very tiring, by the time Fridays comes around I am exhausted and just want to sleep all weekend.

Irene is also teaching in her spare time, she has got a job with a training company and is teaching MYOB (Mind your own business, a computer software package which we used back in SA). She teaches 2 to 4 hours a week and is enjoying it immensely.

Remember that this is a general newsletter, if you would like a more personal letter; PLEASE write to us, we hunger for news from your neck of the woods.

Lots of love to all.

Alf, Irene and Evan