my corner of the world
We're settling into our new (physical) home - plenty of boxes still around, and a growing list of DIY and renovation projects, but we'll get there eventually. The house is great with bags of potential, as they say in real estate land. Actually, they probably don't say "bags" - that's a kateism I think.
We have a baby now too. He arrived 5 weeks early, ahead of the house move and taking everyone by surprise. His name is Calum, and he's got his own webpage
already! He hasn't quite got the hang of html yet, so in the meantime you can keep up-to-date (sort of) with our exploits at Communikate.info
- my new home online. A built the site (isn't he clever?), but I'm still getting my head around its capabilities. There are some cute pics in the gallery
A little piece of Auckland
It's been a while, and not without incident. Andrew's been back a week and a half. We now don't have any claim to eh10 at all - the mortgage's been discharged, our stuff's being shipped - it really is about time for a new blog. But bear with me here just a little bit longer...
So, in the last wee while...
- The Auckland summer has just kept on giving - yesterday we saw the first sign of rain in 10 days or more. Logically, we should have been soaking up the sun on Waiheke, but too many things going on cityside...
- The small matter of transport was resolved last week at Turners' Car Auctions. A few test drives to rule out other possibilities, and we were ready to bid for one of NZ's most popular cars - the Toyota Corolla. They've even put it on a stamp. White (do they come in any other colour?) and with one government owner, it seems - so far - like a good buy.
- We bought a house! A 4-bed, slightly rumpty (which I think is Akl real-estate-speak for in need of a bit of work!) bungalow in Balmoral (or Mt Eden, the biggest suburb in the world, if you're a real estate agent ). Here she is (1/5/07 - sorry, doesn't work any more). Cabbage tree at the front, a flat sunny backyard with veges and even some fruit trees, Zap2, Videon and buses to town at the end of the street, 4 bedrooms, what more could you want? We move in in a month, before the baby arrives (just). It's a big relief not to be househunting any more, and to be able to make more definite plans.
We've been busy in the kitchen (mum & I). This sticky looking mess is fig jam, made from the last of the season's figs. There might have been more, if it hadn't been for the crazy rain last week. (image)
Thunderstorms are threatening today, although may not eventuate. Our neighbour sent us on a wild tsunami chase last week - it turned out that, despite coastguard alerts suggesting otherwise, the Solomons' tsunami
didn't make it all the way to Waiheke. I'm not sure what we would have done if it had!
In other news, my baby's had a growth spurt, meaning my belly's bigger than ever. Glad I'm not contemplating that long flight now. Haven't found the perfect house yet, but there are some possibilities out there...
My strange new life, almost a week on
I'm not in eh10 any more, but have yet to find my new home. So I'll hang around here a bit longer.
A week ago today I was busily packing and preparing for the big trip. And now I’m here, living a different kind of life on Waiheke Island in Aotearoa
It’s a strange sort of feeling, to be homeless (although living somewhere very nice), jobless (sort of) and temporarily far from A and not in the city. At times it's slightly disorientating, but also full of small, holiday-like pleasures – walking on the beach or down to the village, picking fruit from the tree. (image)
These have become much more pleasurable since my big toe recovered from a stumble down the steps on my first morning here – although it’s still a fetching shade of purple.
The Ostend market
is a nice way to spend Saturday morning – supping on freshly squeezed tangelo juice, munching on pastries or Hungarian fried bread, learning about merino & muslin nappies and other designer baby gears, rifling through boxes of secondhand books, marvelling at the size of the lettuces and basil plants, and wincing at the impromptu busking of a pair of schoolgirls who quickly changed from red patent platforms to flat sneakers before dad arrived to pick them up. There seem to be lots of pregnant women around, and lots of enterprises geared to us and our babies. The population of the island is 8000, yet there are 2 antenatal yoga classes (I’ve sampled one already, conveniently a short walk from mum and dad’s).
I’m off to the big city tomorrow, for a morning swim at the Teps, a few bits of shopping and my first househunting foray. It’s all a bit daunting – the Herald Homes section of yesterday’s paper had 95 pages!!! Where to start? Top of my shopping list is a street atlas, so I can reacquaint myself with the city. I’ve found a seemingly helpful agent to drive me around a few places, so we’ll see how that goes.
Daylight saving ended today – hope that doesn’t mean the end of summer, as I haven’t seen too much sign of it yet, and still haven’t managed a swim in the sea. Kevin’s much more hardy – he’s been every day, even in the storm.
Last weekend in EH10
Because tomorrow I fly...
Given the size of my belly
, it may not be too much fun
I'm only allowed to take 20kg with me, so some of this stuff will have to stay behind. Especially since I just found out that the rate for excess baggage is £38 per kilo. Ouch!
I think my blog will definitely need a new name, too. Watch this space...
A happy day on many counts yesterday. There was cake. A cake day is always a good day. Especially when it's chocolate! Then the reason for the cake - A's birthday. As you can see he enjoyed himself immensely. Much fun was had playing with new gadget, the Squeezebox
. Our music has been freed.
And then, there was the exciting news that the (rather good) offer on our flat went unconditional - taking us one step closer to being sold up. We accepted the offer 10 days or so ago, but like most offers in Scotland it was subject to survey. Took a while to get a surveyor in, who thought things were fine but wanted a structural engineer to take a look just in case. Apparently (although we didn't know this at the time, and spent last weekend angsting that we'd never sell our flat and that our building might be falling down) this is increasingly common, as a few surveyors have been sued by people buying a place with a clear survey report, only to find problems later. Next twist in the tale - our buyer's solicitor was off sick, and the junior who took on the work couldn't cope. Another couple of day's delay. Then we discovered that the buyer's solicitor had made a keying error with the offer, and accidentally switched a couple of digits around. So the offer wasn't quite as high as we thought (lucky those digits weren't 9 and 1!!!). But all has been worked out now, we're just waiting on the paperwork, with an entry date to suit A's schedule nicely, inthe middle of April. Big sighs of relief all round.
Junior's developed quite a kick in the last few days - and enjoys exercising it just as I'm settling down for the night (or waking up in the morning, or in a meeting). So at 7.30 on Saturday morning, I find myself wide awake and writing my blog, instead of tucked up fast asleep in bed. The 6am birds have started too - must be time for the clocks to change soon.
A week tomorrow it's the big trip. Not really looking forward to the flying bit, but hoping for some sunshine and swims at the other end.
Kirsty Gunn on being a mum
Since being pregnant I've taken much more of an interest in the "Family" section of the weekend paper. All sorts of gems are contained within. Best baby slings or nightlights. Oh how my life is changing. There was a great piece this weekend by Kirsty Gunn
(a kiwi living in Scotland, coincidentally), about the entanglements and possibilities of domestic life
. Worth a read - especially the poem at the end.
What's wrong with ebay?
Well, for a start, everyone keeps outbidding me. Very inconsiderate, and at times bordering on the ridiculous. In the last week I have twice seen a secondhand skirt sell for just less than the new retail price (which adds up to be more, when you count the postage). Crazy! A. discovered yesterday that the search term "maternity" is most popular in London (closely followed by several other English cities, and Dublin). Maybe there's a baby boom going on. No wonder there's all that competition for an Isabella Oliver skirt
Consequently, I decided to splash out and buy some new preggy gears - an important step, as otherwise I'd be wearing pyjamas to work. People seem compelled this week to make comments like "gosh you've suddenly got HUGE!" and "when I was 5 1/2 months I was hardly showing at all". I'm not taking it personally, nor am I particularly comforted by the thought that big babies run in my family.
In other news, our flat "closes" today at noon. In the Scottish real estate system - quite good for sellers, really crappy for buyers as you may remember
if you're a long time reader - this means that all prospective buyers have to make their offers to our solicitors by that time. It's a sort of "sealed bid" auction - you just have to guess how much over the asking price the flat is worth, do some kind of impossible calculation about what the (11) other prospective buyers might be willing to bid, and then if you can sell your granny's jewellery to raise a bit extra and hopefully outbid the rest, do that! Fingers crossed for some diamonds.
Edinburgh's pulling out all the stops...
...to charm us and woo us with her beauty before we head back to NZ. And I have to say, she's doing a pretty good job!
These are a couple of shots I took yesterday on the way to work, our first real snow of the winter. No new snow today, but a good hard frost to keep everything in the realm of fairytale.
We had a hectic first viewing of our flat
last night - 10 separate people/groups. Most people seemed to like it. And in baby news, I seem to be growing quite a kicker in here.
Morningside op shops rock
Here's the latest treasure they've yielded - more kitsch Kiwiana than you can shake a stick at, in the form of this lovely tablecloth. And only £1.50 - what a bargain! The central plateau may not quite be in the right place, and "Mt Ngaurauhoe" has an extra letter, but other than that it's an excellent geographical resource and dining accessory.
eating and drinking in Edinburgh and Fife
Who needs the Canary Islands when the east of Scotland can turn on a stunning day like this? We made the most of the winter sunshine with an East Neuk tiki tour, checking out the harbour and wynds in Pittenweem, gorging ourselves on fabulous famous fish'n'chips
in Anstruther and pretending to be statues and students while dodging golfballs in St Andrew's. Good company (Kevin & Emma), good fun and lots of sun.
Today was a bit greyer, but not dreary enough to deter us from a brisk climb up Arthur's Seat - after all, it may be our last in a while. Wind and views to take your breath away. Ravenous after all that exertion, we stopped in at the new Khushi's
for a 4pm curry feast. Why not? The restaurant is a lot more glam than its predecessor, but the food just as good as at Potterow. And being off-peak, we didn't have to wait...
Sticking with the food theme, Friday night we went to Blonde
- a bit disappointing - and then down Leith Walk to the homely Boda for drinks (elderflower cordial in my case). Last night's watering hole (after a fab chilli miso salmon concoction chez nous, and ice cream at Luca's) was Bennet's
, and tonight we left Kevin and Emma at the Bow bar
. That's a whole lot of consumption in establishments mainly beginning with B.
The week I almost met Bill Gates
Pity about that "almost". But I was in the same room, within touching distance at times! That sounds a bit sad...
Gates was in Edinburgh to get an honorary degree from the University
, meet some government officials, and to hear about some research - especially in stem cells & regenerative medicine. After all, he does describe biology as a hobby
. This is the connection to me - I helped a couple of the scientists who did actually get to meet him and talk about their work to prepare for their presentations.
So what of the man himself? Very natural, very friendly and personable, and very, very smart. After just a minute or two of intro, he had some very sharp questions to ask that got right to the heart of the research and its implications. I was impressed - even if I'm not a big fan of the software.
In other news this week, we've been busily preparing to sell our flat - cutting out clutter and making things look nice. I'll post our schedule when it's ready next week so you can give your verdict...
And today the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and Kevin & Emma arrive for a weekend in Scotland. All is well.
It's been a while...
But in my defence, there has been a lot going on. Christmas, an unscheduled trip to NZ, my expanding belly and all the gubbins that goes along with relocating - selling our beautiful flat:-( , organising travel, thinking about where we might live back in Auckland (that one in particular is giving me a headache), sorting stuff with work...
So if you're still with me, great. If you're not remotely interested in babies or moving stories, the next few months could be kinda dull.
Today is an exciting landmark (for me if no-one else) - 20 weeks' pregnant, officially half way through. I'm getting a bit worried about just how big I'm going to be by the time June rolls around.
What's wrong with Auckland?
Car dependency - the main disincentive for a return to the city of sails (aka city of motorways and traffic jams). Here in Edinburgh everything's in walking distance - work, a morning newspaper & croissants, the cinema, friends, the city centre, parks. Hop on the bus if you're feeling lazy, or your bike if in a rush. Back in Auckland, it seems like we would need a car (or two) just to exist.
Watch this series on YouTube
and hear about the whole sorry saga of Auckland's great motorways and crappy public transport. A. thinks it's a stroke of genius to showAustralians telling Aucklanders their train service is embarrassing. Hope it has some effect!
O Christmas tree
We got our Christmas tree yesterday. Rather pretty it is, too, with its pink and white lights, glass and silver baubles, silver fern nymph, paua Christmas tree, African tin angel, santa, jack-in-the-box and even a furry elephant. Minimalism has no place in this Christmas household!
Lots of presents underneath it too...
I've recently discovered Last.fm
, and finding it to be both useful and compelling. You can now see what I've been listening to lately, right here (in the sidebar).
Other new(ish) things:
- Chinese white tea
- Sweet Melinda's - A lovely wee neighbourhood eatery. A. took me there for our anniversary last month, and we've been back already (this time for their pay-what-you-think-it's worth Tuesday dinner - brave of them and entertaining for us come bill-time!)
- Burnt Sugar fudge
Meanwhile, I'm getting bored of winter, rain, gales, cold, darkness and associated seasonalities - although they do make for interesting pics like this one. Can you guess what it is?
Still, there are Edinburgh's gorgeous Christmas lights
and the prospect of getting a tree, some long lunches and plenty of good food to cheer things up.
Santas on Harleys
A cheery Christmas scene yesterday. I was leaving work, the evening pitch black and extremely windy. Then from nowhere, before my eyes, the road was lit up by a troupe of Santas on Harley Davidsons
, complete with jingle bells on their sound system and a some very impressive lighting kits.
Jim Anderton defends kiwifruit
After last week's Stern report
, and spurious subsequent comments
about NZ food miles, Jim Anderton's been writing letters to the editor
, and was all huff and puff on this morning's Today Programme
. And oh so kiwi. Quote of the interview:
If European producers want to make the argument [about food miles] based on solid scientific evidence, they're going to be on a hiding to nothing.
It's ages since I've heard that phrase, but it's a goody.
Since I'm talking about solid scientific evidence (instead of, say, our latest travels or what the neighbours are up to), the Dilbert blog
had a pretty exhaustive discussion about stem cells (very much on the agenda in the US because of the mid-terms). It's far too much to plough through, but a small sampling gives a flavour of the range of information and otherwise out there.
And if that's not enough stem cell action for you, take a look at this film I made
(you'll need Flash player).
The view from our window on Saturday morning. Everything rain-soaked after a drookit night, leaves on the turn, apple boughs bowing and the sun starting to do her thing. It looked amazing and like a day full of promise.
Chilly, but. There's a definite air of autumn about Edinburgh right now. Emergency gully clearing (all those leaves). Lots of rain - interspersed with blinding sunshine. Skidding over crabapples on the way to work.
So, on our day full of promise, we headed west. But Glasgow had other ideas. As is often the case on the 45 min trip, the skies got greyer and more ominous. Still, we made it to Kelvingrove
(via the clockwork orange
and a walk along the river) without getting wet. And there was plenty there to keep us occupied as showers passed by (with a tasty lunch stop across the road at Mother India's cafe
...butter chicken to die for, zingy lime and coriander baked trout). When we first came to Scotland, Kelvingrove was closing and we thought we wouldn't still be here when it reopened. Sorry mum! It's a great museum - fine art and natural history under one roof, Dali rubbing shoulders with the dinosaurs. I don't normally go in for old bones, but my favourite thing was the majestic, enormous skeleton of the giant Irish deer
We've been in Greece
Hence the dearth of posts.
We've been back a week and I'm slowly adjusting to normal autumn Edinburgh life after more than 2 weeks in the Greek sun. My tan is fading, summer clothes have been packed away, but we still have plenty of photos to wade through.
Pictured left is Oia, in postcard-pretty Santorini, one of three islands we visited. It's extremely photogenic, from the pastel-hued villages that cling improbably to caldera cliffs, to red beach
, a colourful result of the island's volcanic past.
One morning, we woke to a deafening boom echoing around the caldera. A, half-asleep, thought the volcano was erupting again. Fortunately not. Instead it was one of several dramatic thunderstorms
that punctuated our trip.
Even more hair-raising was riding on the back of a scooter
up (and more to the point, down) some seriously steep and winding hills. A few off-road adventures, too - especially on Naxos, which is a much bigger island and therefore easier to get lost in. But you're never far from a gorgeous beach and/or greek coffee
, so getting lost's no great hardship.
We liked Naxos a lot. It may lack Santorini's drama, but it also lacks many of the hoardes of tourists (especially in September), making it a much more relaxed proposition. More soon...