Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Team planning days - the same the world over

We had our team planning day at work yesterday. I was interested to see how this would differ from ones that I've had in the UK. The short answer is: not much.

Venue: a hotel just far enough from work not to be at work, but not so far that you can't go back to the office afterwards. Check.

Catering - horrible coffee with so much caffeine that you are on edge for the whole day. Sweets on the table that you have no will to resist and end up eating all day long. Odd combination of foods at only just above average buffet lunch (in this case Hawaiian pizza and weird chilled risotto). Check.

Work planning - all day spent talking about what we're doing now, not what we need to do (which is assigned a hurried 5 minutes at the end). Check.

Personalities - old school staff who think that everyone should have an in depth knowledge of the highly dull vs. new staff who are keen to develop a range of skills. Check.

Follow up - feeling that although you've spent the whole of the next day writing up the notes they'll forever be consigned to the round file on the floor. Check.

It was in fact a useful day for me to get a good overview of what everyone does and how I'll fit in. I also went for a walk in the bush (as in forest, not giant shrub) with one of my colleagues at lunchtime and we got lost and nearly missed the afternoon session.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Long weekend

It's a bank holiday weekend here, today being Labour Day. Looks as though today is shaping up to be the best day weather-wise, already nice and sunny.

Yesterday we went to visit some friends who live on the other side of Wellington harbour. The ferry ride across was a little bumpy to say the least. It's a little boat and when it was turning against the waves there was a lot of pitching an tossing - someone upstairs was screaming! The captain and steward looked calm though so that's enough for me.

We went to the early settlers museum in Petone. This tells of the first settler community in the area. It was really interesting to see the elements of the old country that they brought with them, and what they had to put up with to establish a community. We discovered that where we live, Oriental Bay, is named after one of the first ships to bring settlers, the Oriental. There were lots of familiar names from around Wellington that came from these ships and the early settlers. Looking through the archives it was interesting to see that the Scots (Humes) generally went to the South Island, whilst the Welsh (Bowens) settled in the north.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Getting poetic

Today is my last day of holiday before starting work full time tomorrow. I've enjoyed my week and a half wandering around Wellington. Each day has brought something different, and the weather is not the same from one hour to the next.

With some time on my hands I sometimes play around with poetry. Here are a couple of poems inspired by the different weather conditions here (apologies to all poets).

Wellington Haiku #1
Wellington at sea
Mounts Victoria and Cook
Rise to circle it

Low cloud
There's something primeval here,
Lurking in the hills
The fog shrouds it, but I know it's there
Will the breeze let me catch a glimpse?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Get through it!

One thing that strikes you when you move to New Zealand is the emphasis on disaster planning. There are TV adverts where a very shouty Kiwi man exhorts you to have enough canned goods and water to survive in your house for 3 days. "When it happens, get through it!" is his none too catchy and rather alarming tagline. What 'it' is exactly is yet to be fully explained. You see, here there are new dangers from the London life. So, no one is going to push you into the path of an oncoming tube/bus/rickshaw, but there could be a volcanic eruption, earthquake, tsunami etc.

Disaster management in the home is one thing (I should at this point admit that I had canned goods and bottled water at home in the UK in case of emergency and Anthony used to laugh at me about them). At work it take on a whole different dimension. I had my induction at work yesterday and there was a whole disaster management section to it. On each floor they have enough canned goods and water to survive 3 days. That's right, 3 days trapped with your work colleagues! There are also orange emergency rucksacks under each desk that you are supposed to equip with trainers, water etc. Apparently the command will be: "take you rucksacks and run!". Very reassuring!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Wellington on the cheap

We're in a bit of a limited cash flow situation until our first pay packets arrive (thankfully in NZ you get paid every fortnight) so I've been enjoying the freebies that the city has to offer. Most days that means buying a coffee at a cafe that is well stocked with magazines. Yesterday I went to a free lunchtime concert featuring clarinet and saxophone players from the NZ School of Music.

Today I made my almost daily pilgrimage to Te Papa where I can get a free copy of the daily paper. As I was leaving I was stopped by a lady doing a survey. I've got loads of free time at the moment so I stopped to speak to her. The result of completing the survey was a voucher for a free coffee - something to look forward to tomorrow!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Where many Scots have gone before

I'm really enjoying my free time in Wellington and am beginning to have a real soft spot for the city. The waterfront is like a magnate, especially in the sunny weather that we've been having. There are lots of spots for sitting out, and at lunchtime it is busy with people having their lunch or going for a run. When we move to our apartment I'll be able to walk to work along it.

One of the jewels of the waterfront is Te Papa (Our Place) the museum of NZ. It is a really modern museum that covers all aspects of New Zealand, from the first Maori to the potential effects of climate change. I popped in today for a little while and spent some time in the section about the Scottish settlers to NZ. It really reminded me of the legacy of the Scots here and what I owe to these pioneers who paved the way for me to come here. Their legacy remains strong today, which is a good thing for me as it allows me to get my porridge for breakfast and a wee dram for the evening!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Finding our feet

We finally arrived in Wellington on Thursday evening and have been getting our bearings. It is fair to say that moods have been up and down. I think that they will continue to be for a while yet.

The weather has been fantastic since we arrived, and everyone that we meet stresses that it won't continue like this!

We've already found somewhere to live and have bought the basics for moving in. Although our stuff doesn't arrive for a few weeks yet we're hoping to make do with the minimum. The apartment has a great view over Wellington Harbour.

Anthony started work today and I met my new work team, although I don't start there until next week. I was due to start on 27th, but that is a national holiday so I'm going to go in at the end of next week - ease myself in.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

More eating and drinking

Went out for a great Korean meal last night. Probably should have foregone the whisky and cigar at the end of the evening as I had a shocking hangover this morning.

Still, we struggled out to the Intercontinental in Kowloon for their buffet lunch - well worthwhile. Nothing like having total control over what you eat when you have a hangover. 

I had a plate of fresh fruit, then put the sushi chef to work making me a variety of nigiri and maki. What I really want now is my own sushi chef, but Raff pointed out that it might be a bit J Lo!

We finished the meal with lots of different puds, including mini icecream cones.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Chillin' in HK

This is our second day in Hong Kong. We took the ferry from Sai Wan Ho over to Lei Yue Mun where there are lots of seafood restaurants. They have tanks full of live fish and seafood and you pick what you want and then go to one of the restaurants to have them cooked. Apparently during the last typhoon there was so much water that much of the stock escaped! You can read about our meal, eaten sitting out over the water, at:

Here are some shots from around about.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

On the way

So we have left the UK. I'll post more about the leaving when I have more time.

We are in Hong Kong staying with friends. It's pretty cool, we're watching the dragonboat racing from their balcony.

The flight was OK, but I didn't get any sleep. Anthony had an air rage incident with the git sitting in front of us!

Looking forward to a few days holiday before the whole new life thing kicks in.