The Kiwi ‘OE’ Explained

Great Expectaions

Young New Zealanders jetting off on their OE are burdened with boxes to tick and careers to advance. Visiting Brit Anna Hart thinks they’re missing out on something

This time last year, I decided to chuck in my job at a fashion magazine in London and spend a year in New Zealand. I wanted a break from the London Underground, I wanted an adventure and I wanted some sunshine. I chose New Zealand simply because every friend who had ever visited raved about the place. I was hopeful that I’d find freelance writing work over here, but if I didn’t, well, I could still remember how to froth a cappuccino. Yes, it crossed my mind that nobody would employ me, everyone would hate me and that I’d end up coming home early. But I wasn’t too worried – all I demanded from this year was a tan and some smug Facebook profile pics taken on deserted beaches. It’s only now, one year on, that I appreciate what a privilege it is to have such a relaxed attitude to what I’ve learned to call my “OE”. I’d assumed that Kiwis flying in the opposite direction would feel the same way about a year in London; that they wanted a change of scene, the experience of living somewhere different, a break. Now I understand that the Great Kiwi OE is an emotionally charged, high-pressure audit of personal and professional worth.

The first thing that struck me about the Kiwi OE was how seriously this timeout is taken. Bex Gilchrist, director of IEP (a non-profit organisation facilitating work, travel and volunteering opportunities for young people overseas) says, “New Zealand is the only country in the world to give a name to the experience of working abroad – that’s how deeply ingrained it is in our national psyche.” While Wikipedia sits on the fence in the great “Pavlova: Kiwi or Australian?” debate, it describes the “OE” as “a New Zealand term for extended working holidays”.

My next OE revelation came courtesy of a wine-fueled chat with a friend. I was joking about what a bum deal Kiwis get, given that the UK’s damp, chilly climate is hardly a fair swap for the New Zealand sunshine. (I hadn’t yet experienced the monsoons and shoe mould of an Auckland July.) I remarked that I didn’t understand why Kiwis didn’t flock to the South of France or Brazil instead.

“You mean you don’t know?” she asked, incredulously, before patiently explaining that visiting the UK – or Scandinavia or Eastern Europe, depending on your family history – is so much more than a change of scene. As you know, and I didn’t, the Kiwi OE isn’t about visiting the nicest country in the world. It’s about visiting the country of your ancestry, making sense of family traditions, folk songs, art that references the past. “Visiting England wasn’t just a holiday,” my friend says of her own sojourn. “It was the missing bit of the jigsaw in my life.” Christmas dinner finally made sense, after experiencing the sort of brutal weather in which a stodgy meal is a treat rather than a chore. She visited the Shropshire farm that her family had vacated four generations ago. She hung out in the Camden bars that her favourite bands sing about. She saw her time in the UK as a means of manually plugging herself into the culture to which she strongly related, but had never experienced first-hand.

This totally understandable desire to experience British/Scandinavian/wherever culture direct from the source, as opposed to the export variety, is one pillar of the Kiwi OE. The other came as more of a surprise. I began observing that descriptions of time spent in London, Tokyo or New York all shared a common vocabulary. “London was tough, but I needed it to be tough,” came one answer. “Challenging, but I’m really proud that I made it over there,” was another. “Scary, but I’m glad I did it, otherwise I’d have felt like a loser all my life,” said a friend.

Without exception, the New Zealanders I spoke to saw their OE as some sort of aptitude test, a challenge, a necessary rite of passage. Meanwhile, Brits coming in this direction can just relax and have a beer in the sunshine. The classification of the OE as a badge of honour on this side of the Tasman is something noted by Australian demographer and author Bernard Salt. “New Zealand has institutionalised the idea that you’re not a complete Kiwi unless at some stage in your 20s you go and live abroad,” he tells Sunday. To Salt’s mind, the compulsory nature of the OE is “the 21st century version of cultural cringe”, a hangover of the standard-issue colonial inferiority complex. “At Remuera dinner parties, there’s no greater boast for a middle-class parent than the words, ‘Mark? Yes, he’s in New York right now. Of course, he’d love to come home, but there’s simply nothing for him here.’ This is code for ‘Check me out: I’m such a fabulous parent that I’ve catapulted my gifted son out of this global backwater.’ Perversely, Kiwi parents have come to believe that the only successful child is an absent child.”

Doing well in Auckland, Wellington or Waipu isn’t good enough – you need to have made it in New York or London to be a bona fide success. A marketing consultant tells me that she’s currently banging her head on the “glass ceiling” and failing to get promoted at work – not because of her gender, but because she hasn’t done an OE. A lawyer friend reports that a respectable tenure in London is virtually a prerequisite to being made partner at her firm.

To this, Bridgette White, an Auckland-born lawyer working in London, argues, “I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a prerequisite. I think it’s more that everyone does it, so people expect it. It’s common, in law at least, for the firms to set up their recruitment and structure their teams in order to cater for the mass exodus “Kiwi parents have come to believe that the only successful child is an absent child”

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Airline food science

A recent interesting article.

The Science of In-Flight Meals

One of the world’s busiest airports, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, lies a mere 1,026 feet above sea level. Which, it turns out, is perfect for your taste buds. At low elevations, the 10,000 or so taste buds in the human mouth work pretty much as nature intended.

 

 

With an assist from the nose — the sense of smell plays a big role in taste — the familiar quartet of sweet, bitter, sour and salty registers as usual.

Tomato juice tastes like tomato juice, turkey Florentine like turkey Florentine.

But step aboard a modern airliner, and the sense of taste loses its bearings. This isn’t simply because much airline food is unappetizing, although that doesn’t help. No, the bigger issue is science — science that airlines now want to turn to their advantage as they vie for lucrative business- and first-class travelers.

Even before a plane takes off, the atmosphere inside the cabin dries out the nose. As the plane ascends, the change in air pressure numbs about a third of the taste buds. And as the plane reaches a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, cabin humidity levels are kept low by design, to reduce the risk of fuselage corrosion. Soon, the nose no longer knows. Taste buds are M.I.A. Cotton mouth sets in.

All of which helps explain why, for instance, a lot of tomato juice is consumed on airliners: it tastes far less acidic up in the air than it does down on the ground. It also helps explain why airlines tend to salt and spice food heavily and serve wines that are full-bodied fruit bombs. Without all that extra kick, the food would taste bland. Above the Atlantic, even a decent light Chablis would taste like lemon juice.

“Subtlety is not well served at altitude,” says Andrea Robinson, a sommelier who has selected wines for Delta Air Lines since 2008.

The science of airline food, which Delta, Lufthansa and other airlines have studied assiduously for years, has opened a new front in the battle for passengers in the upper-class cabins. Until recently, airline food seemed in terminal decline — another victim of widespread cost cuts in this long-troubled industry. Industry experts trace the problem back to 1987, when American Airlines removed a single olive from its salads to save a little money.

Anyone who has flown coach in recent years knows what happened next. Catering budgets were cut drastically. Free meals disappeared from cattle class. It might seem hard to believe, but flight attendants once whisked racks of lamb down the aisles on silver trays. Today, they hawk chips and soda.

But after years of belt-tightening, airline executives are investing again to attract business passengers willing to pay a premium for tickets, and food is a big part of that effort. This includes devising new menus and even hiring celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, of “Hell’s Kitchen” fame, to consult. The motivation is obvious: business and first class account for about a third of all airline seats but generate a majority of the revenue. Keeping high-end customers is crucial to the bottom line.

The industry can’t afford missteps. Airlines suffered mightily as travelers pulled back after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. In the decade that followed, domestic carriers lost a combined $60 billion as competition intensified and fuel prices rose. For many carriers, bankruptcy was the only option. American Airlines was the most recent major airline to do so, last November.

After so much turbulence, airlines are trying to chart a more profitable course through mergers and a renewed focus on business and first class. Many have installed flat-bed seats on some domestic flights, fancier entertainment systems and Wi-Fi.

But in the kitchen, science is still working against airlines. To crack the taste code, Lufthansa, the German airline, went as far as enlisting the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, a research institute near Munich. Among other things, the airline wanted to know why passengers ordered as much tomato juice as beer — about 423,000 gallons of each annually. The answer was that for many passengers, tomato juice apparently has a different taste in different atmospheric conditions.

“We put a lot of effort in designing perfect meals for our clients, but when we tried them ourselves in the air, the meals would taste like airline food,” says Ingo Buelow, who is in charge of food and beverages at Lufthansa. “We were puzzled.”

So are many other people.

“Ice cream is about the only thing I can think of that tastes good on a plane,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “Airlines have a problem with food on board. The packaging, freezing, drying and storage are hard on flavor at any altitude, let alone 30,000 feet.”

The journey from recipe book to industrial kitchen to a plane in midflight is fraught with peril. It’s not just a culinary feat — it’s also a logistical nightmare. The $13-billion-a-year airline catering industry serves millions of meals daily worldwide. It must maintain supply chains, standards and quality under a variety of local conditions.

“The cooking is the easy part,” says Corey Roberts, a chef based in New York with LSG Sky Chefs, the biggest catering company. “What we have to worry about is the logistics of getting the correct meal on the correct flight, on the right trays, into the right galley, at the right time. It’s a logistical puzzle of juggling all these meals, every day, for hundreds of flights.”

Catering facilities are part restaurants, part industrial production halls where thousands of workers grill, fry, bake, simmer, boil, poach, beat and braise. Food safety standards require all meals to be cooked first on the ground. After that, they are blast-chilled and refrigerated until they can be stacked on carts and loaded on planes.

In 2010, LSG Sky Chefs produced 460 million meals for 300 airlines in 200 flight kitchens in 50 countries. GateGourmet, the No. 2 caterer, served 9,700 daily flights in 28 countries.

Once all the food is aboard, airlines face another hurdle: planes don’t have full kitchens. For safety, open-flame grills and ovens aren’t allowed on commercial aircraft. Flight attendants can’t touch food the way a restaurant chef might in order to prepare a dish. Galley space is cramped, and there’s little time to get creative with presentation.

So attendants must contend with convection ovens that blow hot, dry air over the food. Newer planes have steam ovens, which are better because they help keep food moist. Either way, meals can only be reheated, not cooked, on board.

“Getting any food to taste good on a plane is an elusive goal,” says Steve Gundrum, who runs a company that develops new products for the food industry.

STILL, there was a time not so long ago when airline food could seem very special. Mr. Gundrum recalls, for example, that he had his best airline meal aboard a British Airways Concorde 25 years ago. It was grouse cooked in a wine reduction, accompanied by little roasted potatoes.

Today, airlines want to recreate some of those glory days in their upper-class cabins, with American carriers — trying to bounce back from years of financial cutbacks — aiming to catch up with foreign rivals’ international service.

And some of those foreign carriers have been raising the stakes. The menu at Air France, for instance, includes Basque shrimp and turmeric-scented pasta with lemon grass. The dishes were created by the chef Joël Robuchon, who has collected a total of 27 Michelin stars in his career. The airline’s roster of chefs also includes Guy Martin, the chef at le Grand Véfour, and Jacques Le Divellec, who runs a restaurant that bears his name in Paris.

Air France isn’t alone in reaching out to celebrity chefs. Lufthansa teams with chefs from the luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental to prepare meals for its flights between the United States and Germany. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, has published a book of in-flight recipes from 10 chefs, including Mr. Ramsay. Its business- and first-class passengers can pick their meals from an online menu 24 hours before takeoff. The airline offers a braised soy-flavored duck with yam rice — a specialty from Singapore — or a seafood thermidor with buttered asparagus, slow-roasted vine-ripened tomatoes and saffron rice.

Korean Air owns a farm where it raises beef and organic grains and vegetables for its in-flight meals, including bibimbap, a Korean classic of rice, sautéed vegetables and chili paste that the airline serves in coach. The farm has more than 1,600 head of cattle and more than 5,000 chickens destined for meals in first class.

And the catering business of Emirates Airlines, in Dubai, handles 90,000 meals a day and bakes its own bread, crumble cake and pecan pie. It also prepares nearly 130 different kinds of menus daily. It offers Japanese and Italian dishes, for instance, and has 12 regional Indian cuisines. Eighteen workers spend their days just making elaborate flower designs out of fruit.

American carriers, while elevating their international food service, have generally shunned such refinements on domestic flights. But Peter Wilander, managing director of onboard services at Delta, wants to bring some glamour back.

Last year, Delta hired Michael Chiarello, a celebrity chef from Napa Valley, to come up with new menus for business-class passengers flying on transcontinental routes — New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. It was not the first time that Delta had worked with a renowned chef. The airline has served meals created by Michelle Bernstein, a Miami chef, since 2006 in its international business class.

“Our chefs are like portrait painters,” Mr. Wilander says. “They can get pretty creative. But we need to translate that into painting by numbers.” That process began last May, when Mr. Chiarello met with executives and catering chefs from Delta at a boxy industrial kitchen on the edge of the San Francisco airport to demonstrate some of his recipes. Among the dozens of dishes he tried were an artichoke and white-bean spread, short ribs with polenta, and a small lasagna of eggplant and goat cheese.

“I am known for making good food, and airlines generally are not,” says Mr. Chiarello, who is also the author of a half-dozen cookbooks, the host for a show on the Food Network, and a former contestant on “Top Chef Masters” and “The Next Iron Chef.” “I probably have a lot more to lose than to gain doing this.”

Huddled around him, white-toqued chefs from Delta and its catering partners weighed each ingredient on a small electronic scale, took scrupulous notes and pictures and tried to calculate how much it would cost to recreate each dish a thousand times a day.

It took Mr. Chiarello six months to come up with the menu. He tested recipes, picked seasonal ingredients, considered textures and colors and looked at ways to present his meals on a small airline tray. Then Delta’s corporate chefs had to learn his way of cooking and serving. Bean counters — the financial kind — priced each item. Executives and frequent fliers were drafted to taste his creations.

There were a lot of questions. How should cherry tomatoes be sliced? (The answer: Leave them whole.) What side should a chicken fillet be grilled on? (Skin first.) How many slices of prosciutto can be used as appetizers? (Two large ones, rather than three, struck the balance between taste and price.)

For airlines like Delta, these are not trivial matters. A decision a few years ago to shave one ounce from its steaks, for example, saved the airline $250,000 a year. And every step of kitchen labor increases costs when so many meals are prepared daily. An entrée accounts for about 60 percent of a meal’s cost, according to Delta, while appetizers account for 17 percent, salads 10 percent and desserts 7 percent.

Delta also calculated that by removing a single strawberry from salads served in first class on domestic routes, it would save $210,000 a year. The company hands out 61 million bags of peanuts every year, and about the same number of pretzels. A one-cent increase in peanut prices increases Delta’s costs by $610,000 a year.

Others are catching on. United Airlines said in February that it would upgrade its service to first- and business-class passengers and would change the way it prepares meals “to improve the quality and taste.” It also said it would start offering a new ice cream sundae option with a choice of six toppings on international flights. On domestic flights, premium passengers will get new snacks, including warm cookies.

At Bottega, his high-end restaurant in Yountville, Calif., Mr. Chiarello specializes in modern Italian flavors, with a focus on fresh ingredients and an obsessive attention to detail in the kitchen and in the dining room. His staff is meticulously trained and has an intimate understanding of the dishes and wines served. And Mr. Chiarello is the undisputed boss of his kitchen.

Translating that in an airline setting is arduous. Delta sent some of its flight attendants based in New York to Mr. Chiarello’s Napa restaurant, and organized Webcasts so others could hear him talk about his food. It also introduced new silverware and trays in time for his new three-course meals.

Delta hopes that passengers will come back if they have a good meal. But for chefs like Mr. Chiarello, airline cooking will always pose challenges.

“If I put a sauce on a plate at my restaurant, I bark at the waiters to hold the plate straight so it doesn’t spill,” he says. “But you can’t bark at the pilot to fly the plane straight, right?”

Source: New York Times

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Time as we know it ??

So, I thought this would be a good platform to put down into some sort of outpouring of thoughts and perspectives.
My last post was of new beginnings and since the gap between then and now is huge, the new beginnings haven’t begun. How weak is that ?
I love he thought of people taking control of their own direction and here I am wallowing in misdirection.
All good intent seems to have dissipated along with the energy in which I felt at the time.

I can think of any number of excuses in which to allow my guilt to hide behind, but that’s all they are excuses and not a real reason. I need to once again think of new beginnings and keep this blog alive as a way of feeding and fuelling my direction.

I have been trying to dig deep and take some additional qualifications that are work related. But I have stumbled and stagnated after ny initial enthusiasms at the beginning. Why ? Honestly, I really don’t know.

Will the fact that I am writing this energise me enough to restart the studying ? I’m would like to think so but obviously, the mere fact that I am trying to analyse the topic hopefully means that I do want to restart along that path again. Why do I though ? It’s not for a career enhancement, not wholly anyways.  I think it’s the thought that I’ve started something and not seen it through. This  isn’t something I like, in myself or seeing it in others for that matter.

I wonder why others do this and here I am doing the same, why ? Laziness is my one overriding thought. The other is, do I want it enough ? I do want to do it as there are other things I want to do but feel I must finish one thing before embarking on another. Either that or accept that I really don’t want to see it through, but I feel I do, so the dilemma remains. One way of removing this situation is to get on and get it done, which is what I must do.

This I will have to do whilst juggling other projects but feel I am putting off these other things due to the unfinished feeling in my mind. I must admit, it is cathartic see this in writing and maybe the catalyst I require, maybe 🙂

The other feeling that have bought this to the fore is the season, spring is the time of newness and fresh re-growth. The longer days have that effect and need to be acted upon. Book a date for the exam is the next stage to give direction and aim.

Floundering is an option but one I don’t like. Take control as I always seem to advise others, do it and do it now.

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New beginnings

With the changing weather, brings about change. Our transportation dilemma has now taken the direction of a sideways step.
My Mitsubishi transmission decided, for whatever reason, that it wasn’t going to work any more. To fix or not to fix? A Garage fix would cost almost the same, or more than the sale price. That gives all sorts of variations as to as solution.
Is it a classic car that deserves to carry on, despite the repair costs? Well, it is a unique model, not too available elsewhere in the world, but does that make it a classic? Basically, no not really.
But, I liked it being different, enough to want to buy it & I still like today.
So, it sits there broken, but repairable at a cost. We will fix it but at our leisure and when the funds and time become available. In the meantime, I have a Subaru Forester, of the same year as the Mitsubishi, but of a different genre to the Mitsubishi wagon.
We now have 4wd and could, if we want to, go off-road and see some of the sights, sounds & smells of our locality off of the beaten track.
Will we though? Who knows, but we could, is that the point? Travelling as we did in the early part of the year, we found enjoyable so, we’ll see if & where the want takes us, if it takes us anywhere !
Good to be mobile again though. 🙂

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Chop chop busy busy work work bang bang !

Well, finally got our car back from the garage, all I have to do now is change the Torque converter ! 🙂 Should keep me busy.

Spent the day doing chores and managed to get a few jobs done, which is always good. Sometimes it’s too tempting to sit here at the pc and work but with nothing to show for it as an end result, no visual progress, as they say.  A few garden jobs done which were long overdue, trimming up some small tress and shrubs which had the look of neglect about them.

I’ve been looking at the neighbour’s garden though, this has sort of inspired me to get the garden in a less wild look this winter which, I’ll be treating as a challenge.

Tomorrow, I’m planning on cycling into the city to the main library and maybe take some photo’s in preparation for the idea of a calendar for this year, will post some of the results here.

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Time to get on with it.

Well, 2010 is here, well and truly. We’ve had a summer full of events which, have made for a memorable time. Not all good, but mostly.
We’ve had a house with visitors for 4 months and now all the travellers have made it back to their home, we’re left to now get back into our old routine.
It’s like wearing and old baggy jumper, so comfortable, you don’t really care what it looks like because you’re at one with it, bliss.
We’ve felt the same goes with having long-term visitors.
They declared they were on holiday, which is lovely as they’re retired, but our world had to revolve around them along with running the house, cleaning and also going to work.
It’s great seeing them as living as so far away from them as we do, it’s obvious we can’t see them at will as we did before we moved away.

Short term visitors mean we can go all out to make their visit memorable, which we had the opportunity to do twice this summer which was great. But long-term visitations, you have spread out experience and can make you long for when your time is your own again.

So, what do we have in store now we’re clear of obligations? We loved the travelling we did over the summer and would love to do some more of that. We’ll be keeping it local, South Island only, for a while.

In the immediate space, I’ve got so many outstanding Jobs that I’m looking forward to getting on with them and feeling as if there’s an achievement along the way.

I’m hoping to keep this up and use this journal as a way of keeping on track with the jobs,r stating today.

Todays jobs: Drop off Linda’s sewing machine for repair – cook tea, Chicken breasts – get a workshop manual for changing the transmission on my car – pick up the car from the garage – cut the grass along with a few garden tidy jobs – get some dvd’s for recording.

That should do for today as I’ve now got 4 days before returning to work on Friday, early shift.

I’m hoping to keep this blog alive to see where it goes and if it grows and what I can get from it.

Hope to see you along the way.

HiHo – HiHo it’s off to work I go. 🙂

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ACI Corneal Inlay

I’ve just been for an assessment for undertaking the trials of having a Corneal Inlay to correct the use of needing glasses to read. This is the old age condition known as Presbyopia. It happens to most people as they age.
The new treatment hasn’t been sanction by the US FDA but has a European approval. In NZ it’s in the trial stage and I just fall outside the criteria for taking part.
I’m disappointed but it seems that when the treatment gets the go ahead, I’ll be able to benefit from having a corneal inlay .Corneal Inlays Explaned

Life would and will be so much better that having to dig out the specs and looks like this will improve the life of so many, as laser treatment has. Not too sure of the cost though although it only takes 15 minutes, apparently. Good luck.

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A bit of fishing

fushing with Phil out near Stewarts Gully, Brookland.

fushing with Phil out near Stewarts Gully, Brookland.

Had a few hours out fishing with Phil. He’s into fishing in a bigger way than I am. And from this, I welcomed (and needed ) his tuition and we even managed to land a few in the hour there. We managed to get a few Herrings which Phil’ll use  for bait on a later fishing trip. So, even though it was a pleasant day out it wasn’t wasted. Good effort and enjoyed it.

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A world away

Only an hour and halfs drive from home and we’d stepped into a world away. Our 3 days in Decanter Bay saw us relaxing and not seeing anyone else for the whole of the 3 days, bliss. There wasn’t a tv, as no signal. No radio, as no signal and no phones as no land line and no signal for a cell phone. Perfect peace with just the sound of the waves on the shore. Oh yeah and the odd bleating of the sheep.

We just used the days to relax and just take in the surroundings. We read books listened to some music and downloads and just generally unwound.

Some fishing was undertaken but really ended up as casting practice but enjoyable. The sheep were free roaming and if you were to comeback as one of them, this would be an ideal place to spend your time.

The back looks out into Decanter Bay

The back looks out into Decanter Bay

The weather was mixed and, for the time of year, just perfect. The wood burner fired up with driftwood, we felt cosyed holed up in the bach and looking out just gave us a warm glow that we felt from just being there.

Certainly not an action packed break and the reading was unhurried and absorbing in ways that it’s hard to replicate at home. Any more relaxed and you’d be comotose, well I was on quite a few occasions 🙂 .

Bach surroundings with rural furniture.

Bach surroundings with rural furniture.

The bach, ( pronounced as in batch but not saying the t, not bach as in the composer ). Bach’s tend to be basic inside and have a character of a mish mash of furniture that give them just a unique ambience that, if you set out to achieve this, you’d be hard pressed to replicate. It just works and adds to the whole experience, for us anyways as being imports.

We loved the 3 days and feel lucky to be here and something as migrants, must to more of to live the life we’ve moved to. We plan on doing more of this and we’re looking into ways of making this happen. Back to work now and getting ready for an exam in a few weeks. so, you can escape the norm but it’s there in the background waiting to draw you in but in a good way. Back to the studying trying not to think of our 3 days in a time warp.

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Few days break in Decanter Bay

School holidays this week and we’ve given ourselves a 3 day break in a bach (rustic Kiwi holiday home) on Banks Penninsula Christchurch.
The Bach is in Decanter Bay & is only about an hour and a half drive from home but a world away. No tv, no phones and no internet. http://www.decanterbay.com
So, reading books at the ready, some music, food and wine along with walks fishing and fresh air, it looks like 3 days of unwinding. I’ve got some studying for an exam so maybe the perfect spot. Looking forward to it. Ben has the house to himself and wil no doubt enjoy the peace and freedom as much as we will haha.

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Mother Nature turns it on as day breaks (The Press, 15 Jul 2009, Page A1)


Mother Nature turns it on as day breaks
Paul Gorman Science reporter
The Press
15 Jul 2009

Christchurch’s coldest morning this winter was lit up by a sunrise of competing layers of haze, smoke and steam yesterday. As surface temperatures fell to below minus 4 degrees Celsius in many parts of the city, the cold air played tricks even on the…read more…

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Back in NZ

Well, the trip is all but over now. I’m back home & getting back into the normal routines again.

It was a great trip but I missed Linda as did everyone. It was good to be able to be there for Dads 80th along with Ian Roy & Paul. As we’re spread far and wide it was one of those things that may never have happened again, not by chance anyways. But we did it and it was good.

All gathered for Dads 80th.

All gathered for Dads 80th.

But, it is a long way to come and a tiring flight but not that bad that it would stop me from doing it all again.

I t was also good to catch up with everyone else in the 2 weeks I was there and as I promised, we’ll be back in 2011, the line has been drawn and the saving will begin.

Thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome and making it a special trip. I’m already looking forward to being there with Linda next time.

I’ll keep this weblog going as an update to things we will be doing here in NZ as a way of bridging the gap between here, us and everyone wherever they may be.

Having a ham sandwich on arriving at Mum & Dads

Having a ham sandwich on arriving at Mum & Dads

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Weekend in Dorset.

I set out for Dorset on a nice sunny Friday morning. The sun lasted most of the way down but disappeared as the day went on. Although not cold cold, the weather has been fairly mild so far.

I stopped off in Castle Cary on the drive down to pickup some Pork Scratchings from the local butcher. I’d hankered for them since our last visit and had been looking forward to sampling them again. No chance though, “No Sir, I’m afraid we don’t do them anymore” !! Oh no. So I saw a home made Pork Pie for sale, “Oh ok, could I have four of them then please” as I thought I couldn’t turn up with just the one, “Sorry Sir, that’s the only one we have as we’ve sold the rest” !! Wasn’t going too well was it? Oh ok, “I’ll have some sliced Ham then please”, “certainly Sir, how much would you like” and this was sliced by hand not a machine so the young butcher had redeemed himself by what seemed a bit like keeping to tradition and not machine.

So, I had some local ham and bought a fresh baked bloomer to Mum & Dad’s for lunch. When I arrived, everyone was there except Paul, who was following on later. So, the ham and loaf were shared around along with a lovely cuppa.

Kelsey older and wiser.

Kelsey older and wiser.

It was good to see everyone again and the dogs.

The meal for Dad’s birthday was about 15 minutes away and turned out to be in a lovely old Pub. It was a good night and a rare event to have the four of us boys together as no one could remember when that last happened.

It was a lovely evening and ended up with Dad saying a few words as did Roy who on behalf of us four summed up the evening, which was all good.

The evening ended with Dad cutting a birthday cake Mum had made. All in all an experience that, although a long way to travel, turned out to be well worth it.

80 years young and with cake the doesn't have 80 candles.

80 years young and with cake the doesn't have 80 candles.

Paul stayed overnight at Mums and left early afternoon for the drive home. He was there for the afternoon buffet though, in which everyone came for. I went for a walk around the village with Janet & Ray in a what was not cold but slightly fresh. We walked up to Cadbury Church,which was closed but nice to have look around.
We also had a look at Dads bikes and Mums mobility scooter.
The day ended up with a trip to the Catash Inn for a pub meal and have a go in the skittles alley, which was good fun. We finished off the day with a game of cards at the cottage where Ian & Rhonda are staying.
Sunday saw Janet & Ray head off to Reading to go to Church and then Rebeccas. Carrie, Justin & Austyn fly back to day and are all back to work and school on Monday. Poor things. They seem to have had a good time and Justins 1st trip seems to have left an impression. I’m not too sure what he made of his first taste of English Ale ! He said it wasn’t too bad but I think he’ll stick to his American beer on his return 🙂
Ray & Jan at Cadbury Church

Ray & Jan at Cadbury Church

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A quiet Addington day

As I’m off to Dorset tomorrow, I decided it would be a good idea to do me washing and then iron my shirts. So, that’s all done and clothes all now clean and yep, I ironed the shirts meself !

We’ve decided to have a bbq on the Friday I return to addington, so checked the gas and decided to get a new full bottle as it felt a bit low. The only or nearest place to get one is in Addiscombe ! I don’t know, why there isn’t a place nearer and I had to get it from a tool hire shop, shows how good we have it in NZ, thanks goodness.

So, pops into Addiscombe and decided to see if  Maureen was in as she lives just around the coner and she teaches 3 days a week, was in marking papers. So, had a lovely chat and a cuppa with her.maureen-marking-em1

Maureen marking school work !
So, that was nice to catch up. I must admit it has been nice seeing faces that don’t know you’re here and when they realise it is who they think it is, it’s a picture.
I was driving out of the garages today and happened to see Beverly. I pulled out and drew up along side her as she was walking on the pavement and called out her name, she looked and I got out of the car and said “hello” to which she looked blank and replied “do I know you” without an ounce of recognition there. I said “I’m married to your friend Linda” and then the penny dropped. So she sends her love and best wishes as does Maureen.
Also, at smoko this morning, after I’d done some photo uploading, I went over the bakery and got some of my favourite ‘Cheesecake’ slices which we can’t get in NZ. They were every bit as loveley as I’d imagined and thought we should be able to make these so that will have to be a try when I get back.
Cheesecake slice

Cheesecake slice

So, Spag Bol tonight and hopefully catching up with Paul, Chantelle and her family later which I’m looking forward to. I’m hoping to take some pictures so check Flickr (CLICK HERE) as I’ll try and upload them before setting off for Dorset.
More tomorrow

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Day in London

Had a good day in London today. The day started with breakfast in the Regency Cafe in Westminster which turned out to be an enjoyable experience. The cafe was just superb, a time capsule to the good ol days and it sems long may it remain so. It also turned out to be in the area here Ken grew up. So we had a tour off the area with Ken poining out places and stories of things and events in his life around there going back to his childhood during the war, a good morning. That was after we found a parking space where we could park without using a cell phone, or mobile, as I’ve been told they’re called here !

Then I went across to the east end of London in search if addresses of family which we found in the research for family history.  found the ones  was looking for and even managed   in one building which may or may not have family links, not too sure at this stage.

I also went to see a Linda and Matthew as it was Matthews birthday, how surprised were they ! Even more surprised when they realised I was on my own. Anyway, gotta go, I’ll update tomorrow with some pictures. Having trouble as my cell ph and run out of credit and not too sure how to top it up. This didn’t help with the parking this morning as this is how you pay for parking in London and involves setting up an account which you have to do with the cell ph ! You can see the problem we had ay ??

until tomorrow.

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First day, a damp one in Croydon :-)

After a decent sleep, no signs of jetlag, in fact, I just felt like I’d finished a night shift. So, decided to take it easy today with a trip into Croydon just to see how much it has changed and take a few pictures. First atop was to see how our old house had changed. And no it hasn’t changed one bit. There are a few changes around about but basically it’s as it was when we left coming up on 10 years ago now.

I also wanted to take some pictures of Ian & Bens old school. So, there I was outside the school about to take some pictures when i thought, if anyone sees me, would they think I’m a bit suspect taking pictures outside a primary school, so i thought i’d better go and ask. So up to the main entrance i go and have to push the call bell to get in. When I’m in who should be on reception but Julie !! She looks at me and you could see her trying to work out if it really was me untill I says hello Julie and her face lights up, bless her.

Surprise

Surprise

So spent a couple of minutes chatting to her and she was so gobsmacked that it was delight. SO, went and took a few pictures whichI’ll put on to Flickr.

 

 

 

 

I also had cod n chips in a chip shop , nowhere as good as groper or Terakhi

Our place in west croydon

Our place in west croydon

 

Also popped in for a cuppa with Kit, and then just a drive around and stopping in traffic which is was more busier then Christchurch.

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First bit over with only 12 hours to go !

Well arrived in Hong Kong in what was a real long day. But, the visit to the AirNZ business class lounge made it bearable.

Here in HKG had a nice shower, change of clothes and breakfast in the hour and half transit. The flight was ok and managed to sleep for a few hours, I think. Not having a watch may be a blessing as I can’t keep looking at it to see how long is left of the flight.

Just the 12 hours to go and feel not too bad,just like finishing a night shift. I couldn’t txt you as the vodafone obviously doesn’t work here as I couldn’t get a signal. Can you send a txt toDenise as I told her the wrong flt no. I told her NZ38 whereas it is in fact nz39 Derrr.

I will call when I get there and leave a message on the answer phone and a txt that you’ll be able to read when you get up.

Untill then. Next stop Heathrow/Croydon Hope the sun shines !! 22’c here in Hong Kong at quarter past 7 in the morning.

HKG Like old times !HKG Terminal

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Filed under Travel

Out of town

We decided on a trip out of town would be nice the other day. So, we went to Oxford for a meal at Jo Seagars Cafe. We had a lovely afternoon, a lovely meal and just enjoyed driving though the lovely countryside.

Roadside Eggs 4 sale

Roadside Eggs 4 sale

Oxford is about an hours drive North eastish inland from Christchurch. Jo Seagar is a New Zealand TV cook similar to the likes of Delia Smith but more homely and real. The Cafe has a great selection of home cooked local meals. Well worth a visit as it’s a lovely drive there in the country.

We stopped off at Ashley Gorge which is also a lovely spot for an afternoon picnic by the river.

Staying dry at Ashley Gorge.

Staying dry at Ashley Gorge.

A lovely afternoon and nice to get out of the city for a change.

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First blog

This is the first blog here. this has been set up mainly so as my family can follow my travels when I go to England for my Dads 80th birthday.

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