Friday, March 6, 2009

March, late summer

OK we are upside down. Have been for a couple of months, in fact. Neglected the blog, as usual. Time for an update though......
we left Heathrow on 8th Jan ( I think), had a couple of beers in the airport with a guy who was just moving home from Thailand to Teesside. Now that's culture shock for you.
Landed in LA after discovering that Air New Zealand serve the best wine & food of any airline I've tried so far, then spent an hour trying to find a rental car desk that didn't exist. Eventually found out we had to catch a bus to it, hired a funky white Chrysler and drove out into the California night.....straight into three lanes of oncoming traffic. Well it's not my fault they drive on the wrong side of the road. Luckily there was time to correct my mistake, and we survived the drive to our downtown Hollywood hotel, well ok it was a fairly downbeat motel, but clean and well run.
So we had a great time with our friends Debbie & Drew, the warm weather doing us both a power of good. Three days later we took off for NZ and a big leap into the unknown.
I have to say we warmed to the place as soon as we arrived, even though it was 5am. The airport staff, customs & immigration were all very friendly & efficient, we bussed into Auckland and discovered the delights of the NZ 'long black' - a tachycardia inducing double espresso that kept us going until we were able to access our hotel room and sleep a bit (I've since become a bit of a 'long black' addict). We met up with friends from the UK, Andy W and Sarah M, thanks guys, you made us welcome and kept us awake when we needed it most!
After a couple of nights in Auckland we flew on to Wellington, met at the airport by my 'new' work colleagues Andy & Alan (I used to work with these two in Gloucester), plus more of the management team from Wellington Free, whom I now work closely with as well: Pete, Rob & Sarah. And the job's good.
Since then we spent two weeks in a downtown serviced apartment, found a place we wanted to rent, the rental agency messed up the dates so we then lived for three weeks on top of Lower Hutt Ambulance Station (we have a work owned apartment there), then eventually we moved into our new place for a six month rental right opposite the Wellington Botanic Gardens. Which incidentally are absolutely gorgeous. Although I did find out today that the major fault line on which Wellington is built runs right down the middle of the street between us & the gardens. So if we disappear into it, it's been great knowing you.
Now before we left home, I had no end of doubts about whether we were doing the right thing. But since we arrived, I've had no regrets at all. Some serious bouts of missing home & family, sure, but they pass over and on we go with life, work and the challenges they bring.
Judi has been brilliant, while I've been working she has got on with making new friends, kitting out the flat, learning her way around and generally looking after me. Today is her birthday and we are celebrating with a weekend at Martinborough, a very chilled out winery town about an hour from Wellington. On Monday she starts work.
So it's March, it's very warm & humid tonight, but it's only wierd if you stop to think about it. And from pneumonia on Christmas Day back home, I have not seen Judi so healthy as she is now for a long long time.
If you are reading this because you are friends or family and want to know what we've been up to, there's lots more - swimming, hiking, buying a Subaru Impreza, getting used to beer that is always served at sub zero temperatures, discovering what a cool, green city Wellington is (most of the time).......
If on the other hand you expect a blog to contain profound or incisive comment on life.....not tonight, sorry. I'm just too chilled.


The Jules said...

Lol - nicely written Gaz. Do more!
At least you survived driving in LA and it does sound rather civilised down there.
Go careful in your new Scooby.

Take care mate


Gary Strong said...

Thanks for your support Jules.
Next time I'll rave about how good the wine is...