Meet Leonard - our new campervan. We have not had a car since we moved here and have managed OK. I walk to work most days, or get the bus if the weather's not great or I've got too much to carry. Going to the supermarket on the bus can be a pain, but you just have to make sure that you don't buy too much.
However, one of my ambitions before we came here was to buy a campervan, so when our next door neighbour decided to sell hers it was meant to be! Leonard is a Toyota Liteace from 1992. He spent his first eight years as Leonard San in Japan, before moving to New Zealand. Since then he has had his seats removed and a sleeping platform put in. He's large enough for a queen sized mattress.
Alex, who we bought him from, was very organised. He has all you could need - stove, plates, cutlery, curtains, tent, a kite...
We're looking forward to seeing some of the more remote parts of New Zealand in Leonard's company.
I took a trip to Auckland this week for work. It's a funny place.
When we were making plans to move to NZ we pretty much ruled out Auckland straight away. The rationale was simple: if you're going to live in a big city you want it to be London or New York, Paris or Hong Kong, not Auckland.
Not that there's anything in particular wrong with Auckland per se, it has shops, venues, restaurants, but they are all a bit 'so what' (as my EngD supervisor used to say). The people rush around in a big city fashion, but behind the bustle there seems to be little real spirit.
Wellington, on the other hand, is a small city. Rather like Edinburgh is in comparison with London. Despite its size, Wellington has a distinct vibe about it - it has cafes, restaurants, theatres, boutique shops. In short, every time I come back here I know that we made the right choice. I'm happy to leave Auckland to those who want to play at living the big city life.
It's the time of year in New Zealand when people's thoughts turn to wood. The nights are closing in and the first Southerlies remind us of what awaits in winter. I could blog for pages about the Kiwi unwillingness to heat homes, but I'll spare you, for now.
We are relatively lucky. We have a system that recover heat from the roof space and recirculates it through the house, it also removes moisture, which is good for Anthony's asthma. To complement that we also have a wood burner in the living room. To quote my colleague Nathan, we 'live like kings'.
Wood is generally the fuel of choice for those who bother to heat their homes at all. This is the time of year when you start to see piles of it appearing at the end of driveways and the tops of stairs. We were very organised this year and got our winter wood delivered in December. One reason, it's cheaper then, the other that we would have the whole summer to move it down the 100 steps to our house. Good plan? Turned out that the supplier's promise to deliver it to the top of our section translated into dumping it in the middle of the road. Two days and the help of some good friend later and it was stacked outside the house.
There is a downside to having the wood delivered in ready to burn chunks - no wielding of the axe this year. Chopping wood was something that I'd never done, but I don't suppose that I'll miss it on those wet winter evenings.
We're ready for you winter, whatever you decide to throw at us!
In the 9 months that I have lived here, I can concur with the general view that Wellington is a windy city. Calm days are rare here, especially in winter, so it's ironic that on my recent visit to the new West Wind windfarm there was no wind!
West Wind is still under construction, but it is already part-operational and is an impressive sight. You wouldn't believe that you are only over the hill from a capital city - it's so wild and lonely.
Our new home overlooks Evan's Bay in Wellington. Until I moved here I didn't know how much goes on in the bay. Every evening and weekend there are lots of people sailing, swimming and kayaking. This weekend you can add offshore powerboating to the mix. The NZ powerboat series has come to Wellington harbour and there are currently lots of boats speeding up and down the bay. The poor captain of the harbour ferry is having to weave in and out and hope for the best. I hope that no one is silly enough to be swimming out there today!
Sorry, I've been terribly remiss in my blogging of late.
This past week has been a bit mad. Last weekend our letting agent told us that there was someone coming round to view the property. Why? It turns out that our landlord has been a naughty boy in the property market and the flat has been repossessed. The agent couldn't tell us whether or not we would be able to continue living here after our lease is up in mid April. Not good.
So we thought that we'd better start looking round for something else. Trade me ahoy. Trade me is the Kiwi version Ebay, it's where everyone looks for rental property too. We saw a lovely looking house for rent up the hill from us in Roseneath. Next challenge - the open home. Open homes here are the main way that people show property for sale or rent. You have to get in quick or you've no chance. We got there first (yeah!), but there were a couple of girls there too. When we were being shown round we were sizing each other up - it was like sharks circling. They broke first and asked to put their names down, but they had a third person to consult. We zoomed in and put our cards on the table - we want to take it and we don't have anyone to consult with. Thankfully the owners, Kate and Holger, really wanted a couple to rent to and were more than happy to take us on as tenants. We've got a lot in common and it's really nice to meet some new people. They are only moving out because they can't manage the steps with their small baby at the moment.
Problem solved? Well yes, in a way, but we were still looking at paying double for a month and a half until our rental contract here ran out. Then a notice went up in the lift - someone looking for a property in this block to rent for a short term. We made contact and they are taking over our lease.