Monday, 20 July 2009

Making use of Windy Wellington

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.

Friday, 20 March 2009

They've got the power

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!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Keep on movin'

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.

Thanks to whoever was looking out for us!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Cat walking - the new craze?

Today I've seen two separate instances of people taking their cat for a walk. This seems just plain wrong.

Incident #1 took place right outside our flat where a group of people drove up and parked and then took their cat out of the car and played with it on the grass. The cat seemed reasonably content until it was required to return to the car.

Incident #2 saw an elderly lady walking her cat in a harness along Oriental Parade. The cat looked most put out (understandably) at being treated like a dog and was refusing to walk at all.

What will be the next trend here in Wellington? Stick-insect surfing? Guinea-pig triathlon? I'll let you know.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Welcome to the food temple

Moore Wilson's is a Wellington institution. It started out as a wholesaler to the restaurant trade, but is now open to all. The deli fresh section has recently been refurbished as is now somewhat like a conventional supermarket in appearance. There you can get lots of great fruit and veg, meat, breads, dairy products and coffee. This is also the section where they have one member of staff devoted to tending the orange squeezing machine. You can smell orange zest from along the street!

The fresh section of the store is great, but it's when you cross over to the grocery section that the magic really begins. First there is the real cash & carry section which is a full-on warehouse. You can by in bulk here - there's enough rice to restock a paddy field. Anthony only just managed to stop me heading off with a kilo of dried chillies today.

Next to the cash and carry is the alcohol. Now I've blogged about Gerry's on Old Compton Street on London before (, but Moore Wilson's is Gerry's on a grand scale. You name it, they're likely to have it. Upstairs from the booze is the non-food section. Need glasses, plates, knives, a mop, a heater, cookery books, bedding? You'll find them all here. This may sound like an advert for the shop, but for anyone who's into food there's nothing to beat it.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Rush Hour

Wellington Harbour is the commonly-used name for Port Nicholson. I took this picture the other day with a container ship coming in. A cruise ship is already in and the Interislander ferry from the South Island is also approaching. The only thing missing is a small ferry that goes across the harbour to Days Bay.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Baking bonanza

I like to bake, always have done. My Mum is a good baker and she taught me well. When we moved there was a whole box of baking equipment - one thing that Anthony didn't complain about me bringing.

I've noticed that in the UK a lot of people don't bake. There are of course many that do, but there are many more that don't. Baking supplies in UK shops vary, but are normally limited to a small section of shelf space (usually next to the jam).

New Zealand, on the other hand, is a nation of bakers. Buying baking supplies here is like shopping in the 1950s, 21st Century style. Baking supplies are not corralled in a small section in close proximity to the preserves here, they have a glorious aisle to themselves.

Let's start with the basics. Baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar are all there, not in little pots, but in full sized packets. They are there for people who will use them and come back for more, not leave them at the back of a cupboard following some half-arsed attempt to make cupcakes 3 years ago because they saw an article in Cosmo about how cupcakes are trendy.

Muffin cases are another example. In the UK many places don't have them, and those that do usually just have them in white. Here they have lots of designs and sizes, you can even get ones specifically for savoury muffins (my latest are a fetching red chili design).

Whatever else New Zealand may be, for me it's turning out to be baking heaven.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Resolutely no resolutions, almost

At this time of year I have been known to indulge in making a few resolutions for the year ahead. You know the kind of thing - eat less, move more. This year I'm not making any.

Well, I'm kind of making one. We've made it all the way over the New Zealand, the least we can do is to make the most of it.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Belated review of 2008

At this time of year reflection is inevitable, and 2008 has been a bit of an odd year, so I'm taking the opportunity to look back at what went on.

Obviously moving to New Zealand was a big event from the last 12 months, but it wasn't everything. It's been in our minds for a few years now, but to make it happen has given me a huge feeling of empowerment. I don't know how things will go here, but no is not the time to dwell on that. It'll be what it'll be, all we have to do is to do our best and have fun.

So, back to 2008. On the job front we both had changes. I discovered that I could survive pretty uncomfortable work conditions, but I couldn't do it for long, or without the support of some very good friends. Anthony discovered that quitting your job on your second day can actually work out in the end!

I made my first trip to Asia in January, not knowing that I'd be returning within the year. There were also a couple of great trips to Lyon, somewhere that I will miss and hope to return to.

My Grandad's 100th birthday was the high spot of the year for me. I always knew that he would make it, but it was great to see him on such good form, surrounded by family.

Who knows what lies in store in 2009, but I wish you all the best for the next 12 months.