Friday, January 29, 2016

Here, there and everywhere

I am now, finally, back home again after a great week in Wellington - learnt lots (honestly) and I always enjoy spending time in Wellington. I was able to translate both figuratively ("what is L&P? why would anyone put it in rum?") and literally  ...  Maori is an official language in New Zealand and although I didn't have a hope of understanding the formal speeches of welcome that were all in Maori, New Zealanders tend to sprinkle their speeches with Maori words that don't really have an equivalent meaning in English, and not even know they're doing it. Especially in the sessions about indigenous representation in Parliament and land settlement legislation which sound a bit dry but were actually fascinating. And I could explain to confused Australians the difference between a hui and a hapu :)

The weather was a bit crap though - this picture is typical of the sky. And it was super windy of course. A few of the Canberrans were startled by the wind and I'm all like "this is NOTHING! this is a northerly! wait until you get a southerly, that comes STRAIGHT from Antarctica ... hahaha". No wonder I went for so many walks by myself. Getting back was another disaster - storms in Sydney on Friday morning delayed everything, so we missed our connecting flight back to Canberra and had to overnight in Sydney. At least Qantas was organised this time - someone was waiting when we got off the flight with hotel and taxi vouchers and we got a credit at the hotel for meals this time, unlike Auckland. It shouldn't matter because work would pay, but it makes me feel better to charge my excellent buffet breakfast to the airline. So I saw I lot of this over the course of the week.

Saturday morning I got home, fed the cat, unpacked, re-packed and headed off down the coast to finally catch up with my family. The boys had just spend ten days in New Zealand themselves (a completely different bit and I didn't get to see them) staying with my Dad and sisters and families. They were completely spoilt and taken on all sorts of outings and shared around like biscuits - a  few days here and there - and had the most wonderful time. Fishing with Granddad, beaches and mines and hot pools and bush walks and bowling and being looked after by completely grown up cousins ... my niece took them back to the airport and dropped them off and I was all "there's paperwork! she'll have to stay until they leave! it's complicated!!!!" and my family is "you know she's a primary school teacher? she wrangles children all day and gets paid for it???" which is kind of reassuring but mostly makes me feel terribly old.

So it was lovely to see the boys again after nearly three weeks - my husband and I did a handover/takeover so he could go back to work on Monday but the beach holiday was a bit of a washout. The weather was crappy (photo above taken on Australia Day - you usually can't move on that beach on Australia Day it's so crowded) and number one son had had his toe-nail chopped into so wasn't allowed to swim for a week and was a bit bored and cranky. So we came home on Wednesday and have been chilling ever since. There has been baking. You have to eat the one in the middle first - apparently the gingerbread men are dancing around their sacrificial victim. And when you've eaten that one, another one gets placed in the middle (with the flag through its vital organs) to be the next for consumption. Back to school next week!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wonderful Wellington

I have been in Wellington, New Zealand, this week at a conference and it has been as fantastically awesome as ever! I went to uni here, and just love it, it is such a cool place with heaps going on. And of course my nostalgic moments for when I was a young and foolish student with nothing much to worry about and all the time in the world to go to bars, or read books, or whatever it was I did for six years.

The conference has kept us fairly busy but I caught up with a couple of old friends tonight, which was lovely, and I've been for some good long walks over old stomping grounds in the evenings. It doesn't get dark until nearly 9 which helps. The conference is the first professional association meeting I've been to with my new job and it has been lovely - a lot of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. Parliamentary workers are definitely a breed apart but it is great that they all love their jobs ....

I nearly didn't make it at all - I took a photo out of the plane window coming in to Wellington because it all looked so lovely in the sunshine. I can't seem to put it on the blog, I don't know why. I am using my ipad and I don't fully understand it. Anyway, in this photo you can't see there is a finger of sea fog - sitting right over the runway. Like a thick blanket. We got within 100 ft of landing and pulled up again, banked, and headed off for Auckland about five hundred miles away. Auckland was in absolute chaos because Wellington was closed, and after a complete shambles of organisation (Qantas was HOPELESS) I ended up overnighting in Auckland. They said to be back at the airport at 4 am so our plane could leave at six - and when I got there the plane wasn't leaving until at least midday, possibly later (the fog was still there) so me and two other guys in the queue decided to hire a car and drive. We managed to get the last rental car in the airport, at vast expense, and took off for the eight hour drive down through the middle of New Zealand.

Sounds a bit of a nightmare but it was actually great. There was me, an airconditioning engineer from Wellington who had just spent a few weeks in Europe with his daugher (who is studying art curation in Florence) and a stay-at-home father of three from Adelaide who was on a week's leave pass to go to his mate's wedding in Martinborough and we chatted our way through lovely scenery with stops for coffee to Wellington. Not exactly as planned, but sometimes those are still good days....

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Furniture, at last

You know when we started painting the cupboards in the middle of the year, and how I said I would post pictures of the family room at Christmas when it was finished? That proved to be a bit optimistic, but it's finally done. I kind of enjoyed having just a completely empty space off the kitchen, but it wasn't very practical. It's not an easy room to use because it's not big, and you walk right through the middle to get out the door, so you can't put any furniture in the middle. So we've kind of divided it in two, and I think it's OK. On one side is cushions and books. We're tossing up whether to get a small rug at the end.

On the other side we have two armchairs, a rug, and a tv bench. Not much furniture, but it took a bit of choosing. And it is all Ikea, so it took a bit of putting together! I actually quite like putting together Ikea furniture. I have put together a lot of flat pack in my life, including a fair bit from the crap dollar shop, and it is horrible. Ikea is much better - at least you know the bits are probably right and will line up in the right way. I find it quite satisfying to do (as long as I'm not in a rush, or a bad mood....) And it is just so cheap.

We bought the little cushions and I made the floor ones with fabric from Ikea as well - they have quite a nice selection there, but all decorator weight, so I couldn't use it for quilts. Nice for cushions though.

I'm not sure if cream was such a sensible choice, but the boys are older now, and the armchair covers are washable and replaceable if they get too bad. The next project is painting the hallway! It's quite disgraceful and I think a fresh paint job will make a huge difference. Let's see how that goes..

Thursday, January 14, 2016

My snails are done

I have finally finished quilting my blue and green snail trails - now called "Four Metre Swell" because it reminds me of sea and waves. Mind you everything reminds of the sea at the moment ... I have spent the week at work and it is all very boring and not nearly as much fun as splashing around in the ocean and being on holiday. Sigh. I have also been back on the useful public servant superannuation estimator, where you plug your figures in and it tells you what your pension will be. Not that I qualify for another ten years, and I should of course stay at work much longer if I want to be properly solvent, but I still go on and daydream about a small income stream. I could grow my own vegetables? be more frugal?

I had to hang it indoors (using Michelle's excellent skirt hanger trick! Awesome!) because it is finally raining and cool here in Canberra after a nasty week of over 35 temps. Not that it affected me much because I spent it in air-conditioning at work, but the short bursts in between were horribly hot. We went back to IKEA last night and actually spent a large sum of money on flat-pack furniture for the family room. I would show a photo but it's still in the flat stage ... we'll see how long it takes to put it together.

Here's a distance shot, showing the tinsel (we haven't taken the Christmas decorations down yet, slackers), the photo of the boys and the nude lady pastel. We bought it ages ago from a local art show and really liked it until a friend came round, did a double take and said "is she having a wank??" and we have never been able to feel quite the same about it again. But still it hangs there.

This is a shot of the quilting. Big fat feathers - I've done them before and I'm sure I'll do them again because it comes up so nicely.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy 2016!

Happy New Year everyone - welcome to 2016. We've been down the beach since Christmas, enjoying our own little slice of paradise. I know everyone thinks their own place is the best, but it's hard to see how our getaway place could be improved on. Decent waves but still safe swimming, beautiful weather but not too hot, plenty of things without being crowded, birds but not insects.... all wonderful. But I am perhaps not entirely objective.

We had a great week and a bit of swimming and generally hanging out. The weather came through just as we left - 140 mm in one day! That is a lot of rain and a fair bit of flooding along the east coast (the west coast is burning down with bush fires. Yay for Australia). Number one and I explored a bit further on our bikes. There is a bush track that goes behind the dunes all the way down to the airport through  nature reserve (there were signs about endangered grasslands and some sort of potaroo) and we had a great little explore.

He's getting much more confident on his bike now (maybe too confident!) so we'll have to get number two son up and riding. He had a friend down the coast who would just hop on her bike and pop over so I think that's the sell - expand your social circle! see your friends more! Different incentives for different kids - number one was more attracted to the idea that he could go roaming on his own.