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Settling into Wellington

Monday, 25th April 2011 |  by  |  New Zealand  |  3 Comments  |  Share

[flickr style=”float:left;margin:0 5px 5px 0″]photo:5652907654[/flickr] We’ve been in Wellington for a month now so thought it was time for a little update. Wellington is the Capital of New Zealand with a population of 380,000, that’s 200,000 less than Bristol. It is fantastic to walk around, even Becky (who has no sense of direction) has been able to navigate around.

We live in Oriental Bay on the side of Mount Victoria, it’s an awesome place, our apartment sits between the town belt park and the waterfront next to the sea, it’s a 20 minute walk into the city along the beaches and past the marina. It is a lovely walk, but nearly impossible to get anywhere quickly because there are coffee stops, beaches and ice cream shops demanding your time and dollars all the way into town.

As for jobs, I work for a printing company but more excitingly Bex works in Wellington Zoo with the Education Team! Becky has been helping out with the holiday clubs before starting in the office next week. Even these clubs are New Zealand crazy – ‘be a keeper for the day’ cleaning out cages, making enrichment tools and feeding. One group even made mouse and blood ice lollies for the tigers! It is a bit of a sharp learning curve, the indigenous species all have odd sounding names and pronouniation which Becky needs to get her tongue around! And that isn’t even including all the native trees and plants. One big prononciation problem is that anything with ‘wh’ is said ‘f’, ‘e’ as in Becky is said ‘i’ as in Biccie (which is how Becky is pronounced!) ‘r’ is rolling and ‘i’ is said as ‘u’ as in ‘fush and chups’. It is all very confusing, especially when many letters are missed out altogether!

We have been investigating lovely new places to eat, shop and places to visit every day. Our current favourite eatery is the Catfish sushi bar with a revolving middle table just like they have in movies! Nom nom nom! It is difficult not to eat everything with soy sauce and chopsticks. Yesterday we went to the Te Papa bush walk which is included in a waterfront walk, along the harbour and ticked off a native plant rockery, a giant face sculpture, galleries and museums and the fantastic City to Sea bridge which Bob the ray lives underneath and can be spotted lazing in the shallows on a warm day. the bridge is also next to a delicious cafe which sells gorgeous (and enormous) slices of cake.

We are enjoying soaking up the views from our apartment, day or night, the landscape is stunning. The port is directly opposite us, seeing cargo ships and the inter-islander docking a few times a day. The Beehive (the parliment building) is on the left hand side, surrounded by tall skyscrapers and restaurants. With rowers, swimmers, sail boats and jet boat racing happening on the water, we are never short of activity outside our window. In fact, Andy feels guilty if he doesn’t run home from work as no one walks, but roller skates, cycles or power walks in and out of town.  In the evening, the brightly twinkling lights reflect in the water which looks even more impressive up on Mount Victoria.

One thing that is a bit of a culture shock is that every bus is on time. Every time! On Becky’s first day at the zoo, she arrived an hour early just in case the buses didn’t arrive. And they all have WiFi on which is very useful. We have adopted a snapper each(a travel card like the London Oyster card) but you can buy loads of stuff on it, from coffee to newspapers. Very useful indeed.  Becky could walk to work as it’s only a few kilometres from home but unfortunately Mount Victoria and Mount Albert are in the way, I finished work early Thursday for easter so walked over the hills to meet Becky from the Zoo, that was an effort but has to be one of the best ‘walks to work’ ever with amazing views.

One big Wellington experience is the Sunday Market. Next to Te Papa, on the waterfront is a sprawling feast of fresh food, eggs, mobile bakeries, pizza and hotdog stalls, sausage and burgers. But the most impressive thing is the vast quantities of fresh fruit and veges. They are emptied from huge arctic containers and dirt cheap. We bought a huge bag of chillies for $3 which about £1.20, peppers (or capsicum) for 50p each, delicious avocados for a dollar and kiwi fruit for only a few more. We generally go for the atmosphere, the smell and colour but also you can stock up for the week on everything for about $12! (less than £6) It is always heaving, but that is no surprise!

We picked a little apartment in a good location rather than something bigger in town, this has had the added bonus of not needing to buy too much furniture to fill it. We had brilliant fun searching the reclamation and antique shops (lots of bartering) for our sofas and bed. The flat next door to ours is up for sale for a cool half a million dollars so we feel very lucky to live here. It has a very modern and spacious bathroom with a heated floor (very nice!) and a little very organised kitchen, the view is definately the highlight.  Our care package arrived from the UK last week so we now have a bit of wedding crockery, some photos and home comforts.

Becky loves that music in New Zealand shops is about 20 years behind the UK. In the supermarket I’ve heard Roxette (it must’ve been love) to Fresh Prince of Bel Air in a clothes shop this morning. It is very funny. Cutting edge music is Boyzone and Sting. Hmmm.

Looking forward to someone coming to visit! We’re only a 20 minute bus trip from Wellington ‘international’ Airport :)

Welcome to New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand

Sunday, 6th March 2011 |  by  |  New Zealand  |  No Comments  |  Share

We’ve almost been here a week now and it’s flown, we were sad to leave Rarotonga behind but equally excited to get to New Zealand! Our flight out of RAR was as simple as we remembered, arriving just 45 minutes before our flight left, how many international airports allow you to do that?

Our final days were filled with doing more of the same: diving, sitting on the beach, walking to find some food, sitting on the beach with our food, walking back to our house, swimming, maybe sitting on the beach watching the stars, Bed. (and repeat)

Sad to have left our spacious A frame house behind as we’re staying in a little double room in Auckland, the bathroom is a couple minutes walk down the hallway and the swimming is 4k away… Still, we’re in the center of the city and have a good view of the shoppers on Queen Street.

We’ve both done a little bit of work, and what we’ve been calling ‘research’, this entails going to all the galleries, zoos and other tourist attractions just in case we find work there :) Our surprising little gem being the Museum of Transport and Technology (www.motat.co.nz), absolutely brilliant and not just for the geeky.

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The next part of out trip includes a train journey to Wellington on the Overlander (http://www.seat61.com/Overlander.htm), very exciting :) Bit of an explore there, then who knows! At least until April…

Other interesting and exciting news includes two girls in a lift in Auckland wanted a photo with me as they were ex students and recognised me from the other side of the world, crazy!

Thanks Stevie P for my Spork! (http://goo.gl/q1mhq) I’m taking it everywhere, it’s amazing :) Thanks other Huish guys for my very generous leaving present, my tripod has gotten a lot of use already (http://goo.gl/FqNrG)

Rarotonga in our A-frame

Rarotonga in our A-frame

Friday, 18th February 2011 |  by  |  Rarotonga  |  1 Comment  |  Share

Lets start off with: we’re here, we’re safe, we’re warm (Its 29oC today). The island is quite quiet as we’ve hit a bit of a tourist low season, I’m surprised there is such a thing as the weather is still great and the beaches are lovely.

Our little house is a traditional A-frame on the beach, with the kitchen, bathroom and living area downstairs and large bedroom overlooking the sea upstairs. We do have a TV, it’s got one channel provided by the church, I watched 5 minutes of ‘Jesus, where is he now?’ over breakfast.

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I’ve booked some SCUBA diving, tomorrow I’m going back to the site of my first ever dive and have a two tanker on Sunday, beats diving for shopping trolleys in Plymouth.

We’ve hired a scooter, to get about on. I love the backwards-ness here, let me tell you the process I went through to get it:

1. Hire a scooter
2. Drive scooter on road to police station
3. Apply and complete driving license to be able to drive scooter on road.

We took it for a spin around the island, this took about an hour after riding through a storm, getting absolutely drenched and still having time to dry off before arriving back home.

Well that’s all for now! In summary, we haven’t actually done much.

All of which is good.

I'm here! Time to go home...

I’m here! Time to go home…

Sunday, 19th September 2010 |  by  |  England  |  No Comments  |  Share

Time for a new adventure, this time a solo adventure, just me and my bike.

I’m in YHA Central in London, it’s so good to be back in a Hostel meeting new people, sometimes this feels more like home than home. Of course home is wherever Becky is and sadly that isn’t with me tonight.

I’m heading off in the morning out of the Capital to the south towards Brighton, I’ll then follow the coast west until catching the ferry on to the Isle of White, I’ll cycle round the bottom and ferry back to the mainland, heading west again until Weymouth where I’ll head back north towards home.

So, off I go, panniers packed ready for the morning!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 5th January 2010 |  by  |  Wedding  |  1 Comment  |  Share

We’d left Wellington to head to New Plymouth for new year to spend it with friends.  We stayed with Andy and Midla in their lovely new home, very jealous of Andys kitchen and pop up extractor fan!  We headed to Butlers to see Supergroove and bring in the new year, in shorts and flip flops, quite a change from the UK.  Thanks to Midla for the late night snacks and hospitality!  Sorry you weren’t with us Jo but glad you had fun with the Milking :)

So what else have we done since then? Well we headed out of New Plymouth after lunch with Jo in her lovely house (they all have lovely houses) and on to Waitomo for an over night stop and swim in a lovely little campsite before continuing to National Park.  We went for a walk through the hills, mountains and volcanic scenery (photos to follow) to see a waterfall flowing over a cooled lava flow, very cool.

We spent a couple days in Taupo, watching the bungie jumping and swimming in the lake.

But most importantly, we’ve come back to Auckland ready for 8:30 this morning to queue up on the 6th floor of the AA building to collect our marriage licence! Thats right, as well as Cars, Transport, Insurance, they also seem to do Births, Deaths and Marriages.

We’re staying in the SkyCity hotel which is joined to the Auckland Sky Tower, the pool on the roof looks right up at it, and while up the tower this evening you can see the tiny people swimming.

Tomorrow we’re heading off into the Coromandel to explore a part of New Zealand we’ve never been to and of course, get married.

So we’re all ready for Friday, clothes ironed, documents collated, accommodation booked and weather is looking good!

We arrived on four wheels

Wednesday, 30th December 2009 |  by  |  Wedding  |  No Comments  |  Share

We pulled up to the traffic lights as we entered Wellington, “oh look a girl on a unicycle is crossing the road”.

Earlier that day we’d left Taupo and our spot in happy valley (between huka corner and lusty flats), with a little stop off to walk up to Huka water falls and the hot water stream (which was like bath water!). The journey had been spectacular coming through National Park and ‘Mount Doom’ which was covered in snow.

We entered the City of Wellington looking for our hotel, thats right, a hotel! With king bed and breakfast included, sometimes I spoil Becky.  It was a very quiet evening being the first sunday after christmas, I’d left Becky in the hotel to have a bath and went in search for  an open shop.  Sadly I came back empty handed so we had a little snack and went out to find a restaurant, what we did find was a couple more unicyclists, obviously a popular sport in Wellington.

Our first nights sleep in a nice hotel and fell asleep watching some christmas movies. Lovely.

I had woken early to move our car, picked up Becky for our breakfast buffet before leaving to explore Wellington.  We did a bit of shopping before walking down to the water front for some lunch and to see the Len Lye Water Whirler, the sister to the Len Lye Wind Wand.  But then came more unicyclists headed down towards the TSB arena, intrigued we followed but before we got to the arena a precession of 640 more came around the corner and along the harbour.  We soon realised this was the unicycling world championships, we waited for the British contingent to pass and followed them into the civic quarter to watch their acrobatics and opening ceremony with traditional Maori welcome.

Obviously that was the highlight but we did also visit the Te Papa museum.  When we were here in Feb 07 the big news was that Te Papa was about take possession of a colossus squid so obviously we had to go visit the half tonne creature that is now on display.

Other highlights since then have been Waiohine Gorge where Becky proudly walked across the 100 metre long, 100 metre high rope bridge(!) and the ridiculous road through the mountains out of Wellington, sadly no photos as Becky refused to let go of the dashboard.

Off to New Plymouth now to spend new year with Midla and Jo on the beach!

In Transit to Auckland

Thursday, 24th December 2009 |  by  |  Wedding  |  3 Comments  |  Share

The 22nd of December was a long day for us, worrying about the weather, whether heathrow would be closing, entertaining our families and waiting, lots of waiting for our 2200 hours flight from Heathrow.

We landed in Kuala Lumpar after 12 hours of turbulence with Becky a little green, the 3 hour break before our connection to Auckland was very welcome. We visited the same shops as we had 3 years ago with everything being very familiar, not least the ‘multi-cultrual toilet experience’.  A new addition is the ‘mini’ forrest penned off in the middle of the airport, we went for a ‘mini’ walk through in the 30 degree rain.

The second 10 hour flight was no more enjoyable with more turbulence and the same meal we had previously eaten 3 times already. Five hours in and realising we weren’t even half way (the time slowed greatly when Becky broke her little telly and could only watch Hannah Montana: The Movie), I started to have doubts about how good an idea this was, of course those doubts disappeared quickly as we prepared to land in Auckland.

Stepping off the plane into the 22 degree heat with the blue skies reflecting off the sea it was of course worth it.  We sat in arrivals and listened to the carol singers while our tent was off being fumigated.

It’s good to be back.

Merry Christmas from New Zealand.

You can subscribe to receive emails when we write sometime new (and more exciting) here

You can see our photos as they appear on flickr.com/andybateman

Fort Clonque on Alderney

Friday, 30th October 2009 |  by  |  England  |  No Comments  |  Share

Another trip off to a Landmark Trust property, this time Fort Clonque.

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It’s a fort built sometime around 1850 to protect England, now just protecting tourists like us from the elements. It has been modernised since being bought by the Trust, with Electricity, heating in the form of storage heaters (although the open fire in the main room is still usable), running water and a lovely shower room. The bedrooms accommodate 13 people in single beds, but with just eight of us we had plenty of space.

We all arrived at the airport at different times, collected in one of the few pubs on the Island and headed for the Fort via ‘Zig Zag Path’.

Many days were spent exploring the island of Alderney walking all the way around, photos will follow of the rest of the island.

In the mean time, here are some photos of Fort Clonque

How we got engaged in Snowdonia

Friday, 2nd January 2009 |  by  |  Wales, Wedding  |  2 Comments  |  Share

We arrived at the lay by sometime after 7pm, it was dark and very cold, we were still some distance from Ty Capel. Being in our new car for its first outing we were hesitant to leave it so far from where we were staying, but we collected our bags regardless and headed up the path into the darkness of the woods. After half an hour or so of walking (stumbling) in the dark we finally found it, in the dark, all on its own.

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Ty Capel is an old chapel in Snowdonia, Wales. As well as a Chapel it was also used as a school and but now owned and run by the Landmark Trust as a little holiday home for anyone willing to try and find it. I’d booked it as a surprise for Becky, for the new year of 2009.

We found the key, let ourselves in, lit the fire and started to explore. Ty Capel is a little building with one large room acting as the lounge and dining room with the beds up on a mezzanine floor, under the ‘bed room’ are the kitchen and a lovely little bathroom.

The weekend was spent wrapping up warm and venturing outside for little walks, but soon returning to the house to sit in front of the fire and defrost.

On the Saturday night we had cooked the dinner we’d bought in Betws-y-Coed earlier that day, stacked the fire with wood and sat down to play some games. We hadn’t brought many with us so the game soon turned to hangman.

I’d gone for something tricky with a sentence made up of 4 letters, then 3, then 5 and finally 2 more, I filled in the final question mark to make it a little easier. While getting desperately close to loosing, and me nervous as anything, Becky finally hit upon what it was, with ‘Will you marry me?’.

After some excitable screeching Becky happily agreed as I popped the engagement ring I’d been carrying around for months onto her finger.

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You can see some more photos on flickr.

Home Again

Monday, 16th April 2007 |  by  |  News  |  No Comments  |  Share

We should have done this earlier, but with the unpacking, washing and backpacker blues, time has slipped away from us, we’ve been back for a week or so now, started settling back into work and catch up with friends.

Lots of people have asked us our favourite places so here’s a few:

Romance and Worry Free Relaxing: Maya island in Fiji
Shopping and Culture: Singapore
Scuba Diving and Idyllic Beaches: Rarotonga in the Cook Islands
Cheap Living (and most probable place to get food poisoning): KL in Malaysia
Most expensive: Tahiti
Extreme Sports, Kayaking, Climbing, Fantastic Scenery, collecting injuries: Quite Obviously, New Zealand
Place we’d like to explore further: Sydney and Australia (and eat those Manly fish and chips!)

If I really had to pick one place from the whole trip to call my favourite? Abel Tasman National Park, sitting in my Kayak with Bex and Zoe singing ‘Tom Cruise Scares Me’ to the seals.

We hope to keep in touch with new friends and you’re welcome to come and visit!

Well back to the chilly uk weather that is summer.

Malaysia – We're the best and we don't mind telling you

Thursday, 29th March 2007 |  by  |  Malaysia, Singapore  |  3 Comments  |  Share

We’ve left Kuala Lumpur with the worlds tallest twin towers and the worlds highest communication tower, the highest flagpole, the world best Airport with the worlds highest control tower, next to the worlds longest unsupported aircraft hanger to head for Singapore, oddly flying into the the worlds best Airport. Malaysians love boasting but some of it maybe self proclaimed. Maybe, Worlds Best Airport (in Malaysia).

One thing we sadly missed in KL due to a lack of interest on Becky’s part was the International Telephone Museum, I’m told I can come back with Sim one day to take a trip around.

Link: Photos in Malaysia

Singapore is a lovely contrast to KL, three times the price (about 10 instead of 4 quid a day), but cleaner, easier and safer. We’re staying next to Sultan Mosque in a little hostel called Sleepy Sam’s. Fantastic showers and a surprisingly quiet dorm…

Link: Photos in Singapore

The city feels much like its been designed by an art gallery curator and is lovely to walk about, even in a thunderstorm. Since it is raining heavily. We’ve come inside out of the rain, in to the coolness of an internet cafe, to stick some photos up and listen to a bit of Apple AM, Musgrove Parks very own radio station. We’d also like to say hi to everyone in Fielding, thanks for showing an interest in our trip, while we’re thanking people, as there aren’t many more entries coming thanks everyone, just under 100 people subscribed to hear about our adventures and more visited the site, we hope we didn’t bore you and hopefully enjoyed it. We’ll find a few more things to write about.

President of Malaysia

Saturday, 24th March 2007 |  by  |  Malaysia  |  No Comments  |  Share

To rip off Doug Adams “Space,is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space”. Now if you just replace Space with Malaysian Shopping Malls you might get the idea of how big they are, they make Cribbs Causeway look like your local corner shop!

We went to a couple today to get out the rain and/or stifling heat, one was 12 floors high with the top few spanned by rollercoaster to keep the kids amused (and us). Malaysians certainly know how to shop till they drop! Unfortunately with no space in our bags and already a couple 2kgs over our limits we can only window shop at all the pretty things. We found one mall devoted to all things electronic!
We have been here a few days and each day we have been beaten by the weather! It is so sticky and hot that as soon as you walk 100m you are a sticky sweaty mess! Nice! We have attempted to do some sightseeing, the Petronas towers, the National Museum, the Merdeka Square. Tomorrow we are going to the Batu Caves (needs to be seen to be believed) and wander the markets of Chinatown.

Everywhere in Malaysia is so difficult to get to, KL hates pedrestrians (the pavements are next to 8 lane congested roads, broken or non existant- crossing the roads is like playing “Froggit” – you are very likely to get squashed. Malaysians don’t seem to believe in sign posting anything- it took us 3 attempts to find the Tourist office! Having said that, Pubic transport is aplenty, with 3 different monorails/undergrounds, a taxi at every turn but the buses have a secret timetable only they know, the bus station is…. well… could be anywhere.
At the end though, Malaysia has a charm of its own and we’ll be back (with more money that time and an empty bag!) people are friendly, food is cheap and healthy, there are some beautiful places in Malaysia that we’d like to go to – the Rainforest, the Islands and Georgetown. But it’s bloody hot! We’ll be planting more trees to offset the carbon footprint for our excessive use of air conditioning :)