The story of the Van

Well I thought I better tell the whole story of the van.
In the beginning before heading over to New Zealand, in those hazy days of planning and discussing matters, one such matter was what to do with the VW van - storage, selling or shipping!

Rachel persuaded us that picking up a van over here in NZ would be impossible and travelling around in one would be great, so why do we import our van.

To start with this seems like a great idea, you can import it tax free, and Adam found a helpful and reasonably priced company that would do the work for us, they liaised with a company in NZ who then deal with the paperwork at this end.

So Adam cleaned and washed, tided and fixed. He drove it to London where he said goodbye and it was loaded into a container (after another super wash).

It arrived in NZ shortly after Adam did, back in July and we made contact with the company here, who explained the paperwork and procedures. We made lists of the contents and waited for the MAF clearance. MAF make sure no awful creatures, pests or stuff like that get into the beautiful NZ. MAF stand for Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. They gave it (and the tent we brought across) a big thumbs up, and were impressed with the cleanliness.

It kind of all went downhill from then.
We were keen to see it, but when we arrived, it had been unpacked and taken to the garage for compliance. Compliance is kind of checking it's OK mechanically to get into the country, after this is needs a WOF - warrant of fitness, similar to the MOT.

We finally tracked down the garage and went o see the van, we were then told there was a long wait until the van would be done and they would phone us - never believe a kiwi who says this. We had to phone back several times and eventually went to see the damage. When the told Adam the van was rotten I thought there may be a break down (of Adam that is). Apparently the underneath was rotten and needed lots of work doing. Then it got really silly. All the parts need to be specifically named - ie a Halfords break shoe won't do. There was a list of recognised suppliers and most of the vans parts needed changing. All very annoying. Oh and then fuss over glass and windows and they couldn't find a Vin number, very irritating and stupid.

So off it went to be 'fixed'. What seems like many months later and several phone calls to check and disaster phone calls saying loads of work needs doing underneath the van and it's going to cost thousands of dollars.

Well after mental tears of frustration we collected the van, curiously having now had all the owrk done and things changed and tests completed, the breaks were crap and it would hardly stop, rather scary. Then we get back home and find a panel missing underneath the front cab and plus items stolen out of the cupboards, including poslih brought over for Adams brother and new light put up at the back of the van. Thankfully we had taken a few things out before it went of the the lifesaving work, or it could have been a lot worse. The front cab was a bit of a mess with scuff marks over the lovely new cream panels. However on a positive note, the sandblasting and under sealing are well done and Adam is very happy with that bit of the work.
So when then had to recontact them about the lack of breaks - so back to the dodgy garage, They denied all knowledge about the lost items - claiming it must be the panel beaters who did the work underneath the van (and lost the panel). The company who sent it to the garage also didn't care, they just wanted their bill paying, denying any responsibility (oh and the bill was silly but lets not get into that).

They then decide it needs a new master break cylinder (like I know what that means), what was annoying was the smug way they would say "was it OK back in England", "did you have problems with the van back in the UK", very very irritating. So again after a painfully long wait and several phone calls, with me getting quite stroppy with them at times they say it's ready. And no, no-one phoned us to say it was, on one of our random calls, they say - oh yes, it's been sitting waiting for you to collect.........mad or what
Well we go and have a good look, the panel to replace the lost one is a terrible replacement and the inside cab is such a mess I really lost it at them. No-one said sorry, no-one really cared. Then because they have had it for so long the battery is flat. But we leave (oh we do get a discount because of the missing items and the mess).

We drive away, still angry but driving. Then it stalls at some traffic lights!! So there I am, in skirt and flip lops (I do have a top on) trying to push a VW van over the traffic lights, getting the finger from some helpful kiwi drivers as we cause a hold up - curiously. Some kind sole (they do exist here then) stops and helps me push it over the junction.

Well we can't jump start it and it's all getting a bit much. So I drive back to the garage and they come and push it for us, down a hill so it can start, Adam them drives home hurrah.

Well the battery id pretty knackered and after a new battery/battery charge debate we get the charger and wait... and wait....and wait, we then try and have an alarm nightmare (our neighbours loved us that afternoon). so we charge the battery some more..and some more.....and some more......

Adam also notices that the spare bit of carpet is now missing and the wheel nuts have not all been replaced.

Well life is there in the battery, but no response from the van. Some stress and irritation showing now over this whole saga.

Well at this point i have to say MY DAD IS FANTASTIC

The wonders of skype calling, we are discussing this problem and my dad suggests a whole heap of ideas to help us decide what the problem is and how to resolve it, including mentioning the magic words, starter motor.

So a bang on the starter motor and we have life - yahoo.

Well then, to insurance. To get this under a classic/vintage insurance policy we needed a valuation. So we pick a bloke from the yellow pages who spends less than 2 minutes looking at the van. The next day we get his valuation, and slightly perturbed Adam phones him and is told that it doesn't matter how much work you do to it, it's only then van that matters. All the argument about classic car, replacement value - wasted. So not happy, we then tracked down the Auckland VW club, who recommend a specialist guy to do the valuation. He doesn't visit but wants photos emailed to him. He gets back to us really quickly, double the value of man number one! This guy goes to auctions and keeps an eye on the selling/buying of vans so could give us a proper replacement value. His written valuation comes through really quickly and we then get insurance (actually the insurance company are very helpful and lovely on the phone - we have car and contents insurance already and they're great).

So on the 17th December, well over 6 months after the van arrived (and a hell of a lot more money that originally planned), we go out for the day, yahoo, hurrah and joy. It's lovely to be driving it, and now we have a little list of jobs to do, but will be planning lots of trips very soon.

The Marvelous World of Post

We blimey me and blow me down with a feather or words to that effect. After my Christmas rush and panic to get everything in the post by the 29th November - last posting day to the UK and my slight hyperventilation attack when I hear how much it cost to send (you are all worth it so heh). The wonderful world of postage means they have already arrived - in 4 days - so Happy Christmas to you all!!!

Another Month Gone

Blimey, it's the end of November, well I've got the Christmas stuff in the post - after slight panic when I realised last week that the last posting date to the UK is the 29th November! Spent more on the postage than the gifts - crazy or cheap - you decide.

However I have now done my first New Zealand Great Walk and am pretty hooked on this tramping lark. I know I've always enjoyed the outdoors, camping etc but this walk was spectacular, even when I felt like this........

So it was the Abel Tasman Coastal Path, one of 9 Great Walks in New Zealand - though really there are hundreds. Follow the link to the Department of Conversation site (DOC) for more info- quite a good site actually. Plus I've put a small (not) selection of photos on flickr, do take a look.

So we're busy planning our second multi day tramp, but have Christmas to contend with. It's all wrong really, hot, sunny, summer, strawberries and yet - snow scenes and Santa! They tell me it takes a while to get used to - we'll see!

Work still going fine, though the big topic is the Christmas decoration competition. Last year CCU was robbed and I reliably told should have one. So the pressure is on to produce a spectacular display - I will keep you posted!

We finally have the van with us - minus a few pieces and looking slightly worse for wear but we'll move on. We've found a club in Auckland and hopefully (new battery permitting) be off on our first meet next weekend.

Birthday Times

Well yet again it's been a while!

We escaped Auckland to the magic of the Coromandel Peninsula for my birthday. It was truely a world away from the city, though didn't take us long to drive there.

Stayed for two days in Coromandel Town in a great backpackers - the best yet. Very hippy and laid back, went to possibly the best coffee place, that I really didn't want to leave (though I think my cookies are better). Had a trip on a railway up a mountain! Brought pottery. Spent time in a tiny fascinating museum learning lots about mining for gold. We also visited the Waui Waterworks - very bizarre, but great fun.

We then drove over to Hahei to stay in a campsite on the beach. The drive was lovely and despite not being able to find New Chums Beach (a mission set us) it was great stopping at little places picking up local honey and gorgeous organic lemons.

The campsite was quite large and I imagine can be a nightmare in the summer, we however were the only tent, so got a great spot.

I woke on my birthday to blue skies and walked along a deserted sandy beach, paddling in the refreshing clear blue sea, I had a tear or two thinking about Nan, home, friends and family. All however was good, as we went on a kayaking trip to Cathedral Cove (think beginning of Prince Caspian). We had walked there the night before and it was just a stunning as I imagined it would be. The kayak trip was great, going into little cave and learning about the area. We had a great coffee made for us on the beach by our guide (they do this a lot in NZ) and had time to rest and explore the beach more - including the most photographed rock in NZ. The a little ocean crossing we explored more islands, caves and waves.

When the trip was over I couldn't resit any longer and swam in the sea, the fish were all around and it was freezing - well very cold - but it felt great.

Off then to Hot Water Beach, all a bit odd if you ask me but for 2 hours either side of low tide you can dig a hole and create your own hot pool! Hot it was boiling - I'm talking burnt toes! Well that's when you find the hot water, not as easy as its made to sound in the guidebooks.

All is not lost though, a course being NZ there is a great cafe and we had a rather tasty 'Waves Platter' for lunch. Then after a bit more browsing in art galleries and buying watercolours by local artists, we collapsed by the tent and I cooked up a rather tasty pasta supper.

We had by now had a fair bit of the sun and had found it quite warm, beginning to burn I took to the shade with the locals telling me "it's only spring - it gets much hotter than this"

The next day brought some shade but we headed off to Whitianga, via the ferry at the oddly named 'Ferry Landing'!! Here we tried our hand at bone carving, quite impressed by our efforts, more impressed by the patience and understanding of the two owners who guide you through each step and let you loose with rather dangerous looking equipment. Well we have our necklaces now and very proud we are too.

So there you go, highlights of an exceptional trip...a wonderful birthday. I was spoiled with great parcels, messages and cards arriving like a torrent before and after my trip - no I didn't wait till my birthday - everything was ripped into with joy and passion as it arrived. I have loads of thank yous to send....and of course the next trip to prepare for (The Abel Tasman Track in November).

Oh Blimey

Yes I know, it's been ages since I added anything. Well Adam and I have had fairly matching off duty so when not working we're out and about and tend to leave computer stuff to a minimum. I've had really good intentions of updating and letting you all know about what we've been up too. So many places. Loads of trips. Plus the weather is improving here, Spring is here and summer round the corner so they'll be lots more.....

Just a few things I've been meaning to write about

Camping in the Bay of Islands
Auckland Museum
Skiing at Rhuapehu
The Chateau Hotel
Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka

Well, I put loads of photos onto Flickr so follow the link.

I've also arranged the links on the side - vouchers are available for some of the NZ stuff, so if you fancy treating me........

5 Months In

Blimey, 5 months ago today I landed in a sunny New Zealand, within a week I had found somewhere to live and had started work. That first week is still so clear and yet here I am 5 months in and don't know where to start!
Honeymoon period definitely over though and a routine is forming, not feeling bad about that in anyway. However the weather has been awful and quite depressing, not helped my the leaks, damp and mould in the flat.

Adam arrived on the 11th July, after cancellations and delays. It is WONDERFUL to have him here. He's not been impressed by the relentless rain, plus with problems with getting the camper van cleared, mobile phone not working and laptop breaking, it does not seem to be going well. He's not impressed so far!!

We've managed a little break away (in the rain) to Roturua, which was much more impressive than I had expected! Lots more planned (depending on off duty) so will try to keep this slightly more up to date.


Well I had to expand on the photos on flickr and spread my love of SheepWorld. I've managed to visit twice even though I've only been in the country 4 months and really should be exploring more. Having been limited by transport (or rather the lack of it) I took a touristy trip back in April, in rather a lot of rain. I went again when Jason, Yvonne, James and Sophie took a trip (I'm not going to turn down a day out with transport). Better weather the second time and a picnic.
SheepWorld describes itself as a Farm and Nature Park and is located just north of Warkworth, which is about an hours drive north of Auckland. There is a most fabulous sheep and dog show, I learnt a lot about both sheep and sheep dogs. There is a hands on sheep sorting moment, a display of the talents of sheepdogs and a shearing demonstration. Then a wonderful moment to feed some lambs.
The farm has a small selection of animals but is in a wonderful setting. There is also an eco trail, play and picnic area. On my second visit I learnt rather too much about eels and managed to feed one with Sophie - yes too scared on my own - needed a five year old to help!

The shop is full of great sheepskin products and I brought a fabulous pair of slippers that are keeping my feet quite toasty now the weather is a bit chilly. I will be going back when Adam arrives, but probably in the spring and will savour more of the goodies from the cafe.

3 months in.....

Well there you go, I've been here 3 months. All is going well and I feel settled and getting on. However, did have a strong need to get out of Auckland and see some of the stunning country I've moved to. So in a spell of 5 days off I booked a last minute trip to the South Island. As well as being very excited, I was very impressed by how easy everything was. It helps being on the bus route to the airport (2o minutes away) but still thought the whole outing was stress free and easy to do.

So what did i do. Well, a morning flight to Christ Church (with bubbly you'll be glad to know - it was a celebration after all) which takes just over an hour. I had a slightly depressing grey wet and cold afternoon in the city. I did however see my first kiwi which was very exciting, I now hooked. The weather then got worse and the snow came.....however this was good news. I spent the night in a fab backpackers (but very full of young people who made me fell old) and got the early morning free shuttle to the train station to catch the Tranzalpine Railway.

Using the Lonely Planet guidebook I'll bore you with details of this trip. Billed as one of the great rail journeys of the the world is travels from Christ Church across the southern alps to Greymouth on the west coast. It starts by speeding across the Canterbury plains - we did not speed however as the snow of the day and night before meant the points were frozen, so we plodded through the stunning snow scenes.

It then climbs a labyrinth of gorges and hills known as the Staircase, made possible by a system of viaducts and tunnels. In emerges in to the Waimakariri and Bealey Valleys (stunning says the Loney Planet - they are right). It then reaches the snow covered peaks of Arthurs Pass National Park.

I spent the night at Arthurs Pass township (very Northern Exposure like - but smaller and with less people). Again stayed in a fantastic backpackers (Emma your book you gave me is being put to good use). Did some walking in a snow filled wonderland, it was cold but thanks to clothes lent to me by Rachel and my flat mate Katrina I was warm and cosy as I climbed up to waterfalls, over bridges and through the trees.

The next day after another short walk (I stopped climbing Avalanche Peak as it was icy and I didn't think it was a sensible thing to do alone!) I re boarded the train to continue the journey to Greymouth and the west coast.

After leaving Arthurs Pass station you enter the longest of the tunnels, the 'Otira' as 8.5km it was built between 1908 and 1923 and has a 1:30 gradient. There is a dramatic change in the scenery as you emerge on the other side. Now on the the west coast (traditionally will have the opposite kind of weather to the east coast), there are forests and lakes (it was misty and rainy but still dramatic).

We stop for a hour in Greymouth and then return to Christ Church, this time with the sun setting over the mountains. The train has an outside viewing carriage so you can really feel part of the passing scenery. This is very cold, windy and shaky but a must and a very entertaining of mixing with your fellow passengers.

I then had another night in Christ Church, the following morning was clear and bright so I enjoyed a walk round the city centre. Strolling along the river Avon, climbing the 134 step to reach the top of the Cathedral and had a look round the rather lovely art gallery (and spent to much at the gift shop). A flight back to Auckland with a stunning view of Mount Taranaki peaking through the clouds, completed the little and first of many jaunts around the county.

Lots of photos on flickr site.


Maungakiekie, Cornwall Park or One Tree Hill. Either way it is only a ten minute walk to one of the entrances from my flat, so I frequently pop for a walk. I also walk home through the park after a night shift - I catch the free shuttle bus to the 'other' hospital which sits on the side of the park.

Cornwall Park was presented to the people of Auckland in 1901 by the city's 'founding father', Sir John Logan Campbell. Sheep and cattle graze, there are several broad avenues of various trees, the volcanic slopes rise to the summit of One Tree Hill, the site of Logan Campbell's grave and one of Auckland's most prominent natural landmarks.

The park has great walkways, marvelous kite flying spots, picnic areas and a lovely little visitors centre - Huia Lodge - that often has local artists work on display and for sale. There is also Acacia Cottage, a small building that has been moved to Cornwall Park and was a cottage that John Campbell lived in.

Most importantly there is an wide selection of ice cream at the coffee place (actually quite posh and very lovely looking - must go in sometime) by the visitors centre, so after my walk to the summit to sustain me round the park, I am - in the name of research only - trying all the flavours. Always with a waffle cone - I know how to live!!

Maungakiekie means 'Mountain of the Kieke Tree'. It is now topped by a single obelisk. There was a sacred totara tree that stood until 1976, this was replaced by a pine tree. The pine tree was attacked as a protest over felling the original tree. Despite trying to protect the tree with steel cables, the tree was removed in 2000 (after a chainsaw attack in 1999).

The park also contains the Stardome Observatory which I'm still to visit, but they do various 'shows' each night.


I wrote about my trip to Devonport on the 3rd April post (I think that's the one), here are a few pics. Sorry didn't get one of the group I joined or the birthday cake I ate. It was a lovely walk on a really warm day, walking on the beach was great. The shops were a real treat and reminded me of Battle a bit, but also quite like St Ives. Great second hand bookshops and lots of art places. Will be going back soon.

Sky Tower

A few pictures from my trip to the top of Sky Tower. I went with Adams brother - Jason and his family. Oh - Dr Bob and Disco Diva came along as well.

Hopefully a few more photos

Coffee and lovely muffin in Mt Eden

View from top of Mt Eden towards Auckland City

First Photos

So I won't overload the system, we'll start with some photos taken on my first day in NZ. After landing at 0630 and having a shower and cup of tea at Rachel's we went off to the beach with Poppy. We also took along their dog Harry, and some friends dogs.

Library computer not coping well with this, will add more later........

The award goes to.....

To celebrate getting a landline and Internet connection very soon, I am proud to announce the KTandCoffee postal awards. Phoning people is great, emails are lovely and skype is good fun, but their is something very special about receiving post so the awards are......

Greatest Number of postcards........Lesley (thank you, loved them all)

Largest Parcel......Emma (so perfect, the bunting is spectacular)

Best snow picture........Lizzie (so proud that the egg race carried on - particularly in that weather)

Best Christmas outfit update.......Jan (You know I love forward planning)

Chocolate delivery............Emma and Sharon (always welcome)

Most Timely Easter Card........Jane (greatest timing always)

First new home card to arrive.........Mum (so cool)

Have also got photos sorted so have a look at flickr - though the library computer causing more problems today and haven't had chance to sort them out.

Driving again

Russ and Rachel have lent me thier little car while they spend a few days at the beach - Russ is in the Firemans Surf competition on Phia beach. So last night drove for the first time in over a month. The joy and freedom - must must get a car sorted out!! Will still walk to local shops and libray as enjoying the walking (and the stopping for coffee on the way back) but will be great to explore a bit further around. So for today off to Phia to watch the fireman surf!

One month on

So the weather is turning, we've had some rain, the leaves are turning brown, but it is still fairly warm. I had a lovely walk at Devonport, which I took the short ferry ride to from Auckland harbour. Great views and lovely beaches, was a very warm sunny day. I popped into a likely looking restaurant, had a great buffet lunch and as I was on my own was talking to all sorts of people who went past to collect their food. I either looked sad and lonely or friendly and worth talking to and was invited over to one group who were there celebrating a birthday - I had birthday cake and was even in their group photo. Lovely place with great views across water to Mount Rangitoto, will be going back there again (see link list).

Work still going well - I think they have worked out that I've done this before. All staff very welcoming, friendly and a bit mad so getting on fine!!

Planning a trip to the Bay of Islands in the next few weeks, promise will have photos after that. Thank you to all of you emailing and posting letters etc much much appreciated as feeling very removed and lonely at times, not helped by still no Internet or phone at home. I have however joined local library and there is free Internet, so that's a step in the right direction.

First week at work.....

Well then, time has moved on but I've been without Internet access so I'm a bit behind in updating you all.

I managed to get a place to live and moved in on Sunday, starting work on Monday - four 12hour shifts!

CCU at Auckland city hospital is a 22 bedded unit, but splits the staffing into 11 acute beds and 11 step down beds. A major difference that I'm still getting used to is that all the patients are in single rooms. The central monitoring area is in a room so the patients seem very far away.

It has been very easy settling and it is very similar to the CCU I'm used to. My second shift staff had to move to another ward that was short staffed, that day the charge nurse had to argue over the appropriateness of an admission. I've also noticed that infection control nurses are the same the world over. The unit is quite busy with several admissions and discharges in a day and a fair few procedures are done. There are 3 cath labs an an EP lab with lists morning and afternoon in all the labs.

The nursing team here is very multicultural but my second shift the English nurses outnumbered everyone else. I've been given lots of hints as to maximising days off and lots of invites to use beach houses that many staff here have. There is lots of talk of wine, many chocolates are consumed and I was delighted when on my third shift the nurse I was working with went off to do a coffee run (great lattes served here).

So far so good you could say, but I didn't really come here for the work! I'm off over Easter to enjoy the warm weather and more wine.

I'm still not on the Internet at home so will be a little while until my next post - hopefully by then I'll have some photos for you.

Well I never

Did you know that here in NZ you have to pay to try on wedding dresses!

Life in a New Zealand Backpackers

Settling into life here at the backpackers, in a great spot next to Mt Eden shops and coffee places. Walk up Mt Eden itself everymorning, managed it for sunrise yestaerday which was spectacular - and very quite - normally a hot spot for tourists. Had a good chat to some english people the other evening - felt like the old wise woman as they were young skinny travellers. Did upset some people this morning as I was on skype and disturbed them - quite concerned how I managed to do that given the location of the computers etc - but heh ho - he was also very young - not english though wouldn't want to guess at what nationality.

One of the great joys howver of backpacker life is trying the free food that is available - I'm currently sampling various makes of peanut butter.

However still slightly jet lagged and am waking at 4am most days - did make it till 5am this morning however so that's progress. The place dosen't really come to life till after 8am and keeps going till after midnight though not in a bad noisy way. I however am well asleep by then.

Will spend the week trying to find somewhere to live, will probably start work next week. I'm going to try and stay in this area as it has a good feel and lots of great shops, plus the walkk up Mt Eden is very good exercise!!

Sorry still no pictures you'll have to put up with wordy offerings

Greeting from New Zealand

Well here I am.

Fight was good, though very long. Service, food and wine selection all excellent with Air New Zealand. Had worried myself silly over weight of the bags, clearing customs with custard creams and walking boots, but all was fine fine fine. Rachel and Poppy were there at the airport to meet me so all was well.

Kept going most of that first day - out of airport at 0630 - had walk on beach, lunch out etc, crashed out at backpackers by 3 in the afternoon and did manage to sleep all night.

Had very productive day on my second day in NZ, got oc health clearance for work, opened bank account, new sim card for mobile, all rather exhausting considering I started the day early with a walk to the top of Mount Eden.

No pics for you as yet as I'm at the backpackers and can't upload anything, but just you wait.......

Living on Rescue Remedy

Well I had no idea how hard these last weeks would be.......apart from being in general denial, trying to destroy the computer and use up cooking ingredients I'm really loosing it. However things go on, so the farewells and last visits continue.

Emma and Hamish came to visit, lovely afternoon, had great fish and chips and did a bit of shopping in the old town, all rather great.

Had a break down after a bad hair cut and poor Adam got the hysterical phone call at work, but then was rather relieved when he saw me as it isn't that short and yes, I know, it will grow.

Lovely night out in Folkestone with Jane, despite the lack of strongbow, all too sad leaving her however and sobbed most of the way back to Hastings.

More sad goodbyes when I popped into work Tuesday, but did have a great lunch with Jayne, Lizzie, Sharon and Beckie. Morning out with Sharon on the Wednesday and then saw her again in the evening.

So, generally in denial regarding the packing having spent the rest of the time being with Adam, playing crazy golf, eating out and generally having a lovely time.

Spent the weekend up in Folkestone, great meal out with Dad, Shelia and Duncan on the Friday, good mooch round Folkestone, along the beach and warren on Saturday, enjoyed several afternoon pints with Dad (Strongbow now back on). Quite night in with mum, pasta and a DVD that night. Spent Mothers Day trying to get 7 people having lunch together, didn't quite manage it but had a great day anyway and more importantly so did mum. Saw some of the family and was able to say cheerio. Again, tough and sad, much much harder than you think when you start planning as this stuff!!

So here I am, flying on Tuesday and I'm failing at the packing, I've never been able to pack light so this is a real struggle. I'm worrying about the customs, paperwork, starting work....etc etc... as on rescue remedy.

Last Week at Work

Well the time had to come and my last week at work was upon me. I cannot thank the guys I worked with during that last week enough as my mind wasn't quite where it normally was. Myleen was a star as were Kiri and Lucy. The last week was very busy and very social.

Monday saw my last sisters meeting at Bills new flat - what lovely bookcases she has! It was a very relaxed night and very little work was done, surely not my fault.

On Tuesday I entered the fantastic world of children's parties. Tom and Molly are changing schools so had a leaving party. High School Musical at the Electric Palace with around 40 children - what an education. I was crying by the end!

Tuesday also saw a little group come over for dinner, again very relaxed and entertaining....can't wait for the royal wedding. Also managed to sell a pair of boots to Katherine.

Worked Wednesday and Thursday and did spend time saying goodbye to people which was draining in a kind of good way. Wednesdays shift ended with a temporary pacing so I was quite happy. Had a meal with my neighbours that night, eating so much food!

Thursday night was at the social club with a few guys from cardiology, again a great relaxed night spent chatting.

Friday night saw my official leaving do, I was so so nervous about the whole thing. Was amazed at the number of people there and couldn't really eat due to excitement, sadness and terror, did drink though, thank you Lizzie for the bubbly. Had a great night managed to chat to everyone and didn't loose it completely! Sally gave me a perfect 'glad your going speech'. Gave a semi OK thank you speech in return but could feel the tears welling up so just shut up and sat down.

What marvelous presents - never thought I'd own a video camera, still working on using it! Thank you all loads and loads. The overwhelming feeling of appreciation, thanks and love was all a bit much and I'm not sure I'm worth it so found it all very hard to deal with.

So Sunday and my last day at the Conquest, very weird mixed emotions, had a great day though, Kiri kept me busy and productive through the morning and I think we then had a record amount of food at a leaving tea party. Great chocolate cake, muffins, coffee cake, scones with spanked cream and on and on it went.

I was seen off the ward with such style, I'll never forget it. Wonderful. A balloon decorated wheelchair was my chariot and I was showered with sprinkle, party poppers and (more) bubbly. A perfect ending, thank you all again.

Such busy times

Well since coming back from Rome it's been all go. An old friend who I've not seen for years popped down from Norwich which was lovely. She had a very stressful drive and was very tired but it was great to see her and catch up. Had an impromptu trip to London with Sharon which was different to day the least. Had fab dinner at a very busy Planet Hollywood and then went to an exhibition, which was very informative...I leave to your imagination. Monday saw a delightful ladies lunch. My closest friends came to visit, we had lunch in the garden and chatted away for hours, plus caused havoc in the parking department! Did not get a picture of us all together - cannot believe it!

All this time I've been carrying on with the packing of boxes and have now finally delivered them to the lovely Lizzie and her very large loft. Took a while and Adam's back still hasn't recovered! (and I still have more to pack!!)

Did have to do some work and had three lovely night shifts and was treated on my last night to a special 'tea'. Very sad times.

Off we Rome

Yes a last little mini break into Europe. This was to celebrate Adams 40th birthday. It was a real break. I switched off from all to do with New Zealand etc and had a great time. The weather was wonderful, we did have a thunderstorm on our first night but that forced us into a little bar with a great atmosphere and great pizza. We soaked up the culture of Rome (food and wine that is) walked loads but did brave the metro. Loved all the sights and had a very refreshing time.

Family Gathering

Had a family get together in Folkestone so I could see everyone before I leave. Also happened to coincide with my sisters birthday (a teenager at last!) and Adams 40th. Lovely afternoon/evening, very relaxed and had a great chance to have a good natter with everyone. Will be strange not being so close but hopefully they will master the joys of emails etc.

Combined this visit with a trip to Dover Castle, many a childhood memory form this place. Took my sister and two of her friends and had a freaky moment when I realised I was the responsible adult now!! Had a great day, sunny, crisp but a wee but windy!

Still packing

Well the boxes are clearly taking over, the flat is a tip and I'm getting very confused where everything is going. Bill came a took all my lovely bookcases today, so flat looking bare and a mess!! Managed to sell a few things last weekend but still have lots to get rid of. A silly amount of lever arch folders - yes I have learnt to throw away the thousands of articles, handouts and teaching things that I have hoarded over the last 15 years.

Also sold my fantastic brown boots, they have gone to a good home - Silin will love them as I have done!

Managing to spend time with friends which I'm loving but will make the leaving all the worse. Have a few more gatherings planned. Off to Folkestone today for a family party to say goodbye to me but also to celebrate my sister becoming a teenager and Adam hitting 40.
Between that and the collection of books on New Zealand I'm gathering I should be all ready for the off in March....
Booked a backpackers in Auckland to stay in when I first arrive.

More fun (and lots of tears!)

Had a leaving party with Beckie - senior sister form Baird ward - she is off to Canada. Our wards have always worked closely together as have all the sisters, so a joint leaving party seemed like a good idea. It was a wonderful night with a great atmosphere. Loads and loads of fantastic food (it's what we do well). There were however lots of tears and overwhelming sadness for the all the great friends I'm going to miss so much. I did however get told off for not loosing it completely but I look really bad when I cry!!

I was given a wonderful photo album with pictures and notes from all at work, even thinking about it brings a lump to my throat and I can only read a few comments at a time. Thank you Sharon for a perfect gift.



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