I’ve been in Wellington for a couple of months now so I thought a little catch up blog post is in order. I’ve got so many draft posts lined up from my adventures with Tor, they will have to come in due course I guess.
It was a bit of a whirlwind when I arrived into Wellington I can tell you! I arrived into Wellington at the beginning of August and one of the first things I did was join the library, obvs! I’m enjoying borrowing their ebooks at the moment but when I first got here I was there all the time. I also went to a meet the author talk there, with Karin Slaughter. She seems like a cool lady and I got her latest book signed for my sis, she is a big fan. Hurray for libraries!!
I spent the first week or so at the YHA, the one here is fantastic. The staff so friendly and helpful, but they have a maximum stay policy of 10 nights, which is good in one way, but it was not good for me when I was looking for a job etc. I stayed there for 12 nights in the end and then the couple I met on the boat in the Bay of Islands; Ian and Ruth, invited me to stay with them in Karori, which is a suburb of Wellington. It was sooooo kind of them and it was so nice to have my own room :-) They are such lovely people. I stayed with them for two weeks, one of those weeks was my first week at work :-) They made me feel so welcome and looked after me which made my first few weeks here really easy, which double good as I had some medical adventures when I first got here, which resulted in an ear syringing and a suspicious mole removal, but my insurance people were so efficient and sorted things out in good time. Flips! I’ve also had to go to the dentist and do need a couple of fillings
:-( Expenny but necessary!
Once I started work it was time to find a place to live. I feel like I looked round a lot of places, but in real life it was probably only about 10… I saw some real shitholes. Also, it seems like no houses in Welly have heating or insulation! I’m sure the newer builds do, but not the places I was looking round! Anyway, I’m in somewhere now and have been here for a month or so. So far, so good. I feel really lucky as my flatties are such lovely people; kind hearts and generous spirits. The flat is in an area called Mount Vic, which is a bit quirky and has a big hill, surprisingly called Mount Vic. It’s got amazing vistas from up top on a clear day. I really love having a mooch about up there; plenty of walks and stuff. It is most definitely my Welly version of my Brighton up and over :-) Next to Mount Vic is Mount Alfred. I still find it strange sometimes how far and wide the British empire spread.
Welly itself is a tiny capital city, which I like :-) in that sense it reminds me of Brighton. It’s sort of not massively developed either which I also like and their rush hour is not so rushy!
The waterfront is nice too. I especially like Sunday market :-) All the fruit and veg for not a lot of dollars and sometimes the SPCA are there so I get to chat to dogs as well as getting my weekly shop!
Another favourite spot is the Botanic Gardens. So beautiful up there and I love the smelly garden section :-) I’m also enjoying the bird life here and feel like I could be turning into a twitcher! Our garden is host to some very lively little birds, lots of starlings. My favourite bird call is from the tui. I like to say hello to them when I see them. Such beautiful glistening feathers too.
I was also very lucky to have a visitor for a few days, the lovely Caroline Wallis :-) came by as part of her NZ tour before heading to Aussie. It was so very nice to hang out with her and do some touristy things, like Te Papa museum, full of all sorts of treasures!
I’ve done a good bit of volunteering since I got here. The first was the DCM Bookfair. This was the main fundraiser for a homeless charity in Welly. I met some really nice people there. I also helped out with them at the Tennyson Street Fair today. Both raise funds for them and their work is so worthwhile so I’m pleased I could give them a hand.
Then there was Beervana. That was not charitable! It was fun though and I enjoyed working behind a bar again. I also got to drink some delicious beers. Good preparation for when Joe comes over. I didn’t make any new friends there, although everyone I worked with was nice.
I also did a couple of shifts with the LUX night light festival. That was super cool. It was a lot of standing about, but I spoke to people, told them what I knew about the art and that. The second shift I did with them I was stewarding one installation and the artist was really nice and interesting. He was in London exhibiting the same piece a few months ago and is going to New York to do something similar soon. He likes sound and light and that was essentially the work he was showing! It was located in a back alley, opposite a brothel, behind a seedy bar, near a bin! Nice. It was fun times.
More recently I’ve started regular volunteering with the SPCA which I love. I’m based in the dog house with the grown up dogs and surprise, surprise I want to take them all home with me! It’s essentially lots of cleaning up poo, mopping up wee, giving them breakfast and rotating the dogs in the yards and then walking. We also have to make sure we’re washing bedding where necessary. I got to do some hand feeding with a couple of the younger dogs to help them pace themselves with eating. It’s busy, but all good. The other volunteers on my shift seem like good people and it’ll be the same 4 of us each time so we will get into a little routine soon enough I reckon.
I also applied to be a volunteer visitor with Age Concern but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere because they can’t match me with someone in the city at the weekends. They prefer to have people go round during the day in the week but that’s not a goer for me what with work and all. It’s a shame really. I need to investigate other options, as it’d be good to do some people centred volunteering as well as animal centred. That’s one of the really good things about the volunteering I did with The Cinnamon Trust back in the UK. It was a combo of people and animals :-)
As well as the volunteering I’m working full time, that’s a 40 hour week over here and I tell you what, it makes a big difference that extra 2 1/2 hours a week! Really, really. It’s a busy role and there’s always plenty to keep me busy, which I like. I’m also learning Māori at work. We have a 1 1/2 hour session each week with a guy that teaches at the university. It’s very interesting indeed. We’re working towards being able to do our mihimihi for the end of the course which is where you introduce yourself. In Māori culture your Whakapapa is really important. People are interested in your family and where you’ve come from, your iwi (tribe) and whanau (home). I’m learning a lot about how the Māori formed. This wasn’t until the pakeha (Europeans) turned up. Before then Māori didn’t really exist as the iwis considered themselves to be separate and unique rather than a big group. They used to fight between iwi and marry strategically to strengthen the iwi. There were different dialects spoken depending on the iwi. Then the pakeha arrived and so the tribes pulled together.
I’m really enjoying learning not only the language but the cultural and historical stuff too as that has implications for the language. When I have my mihimihi ready I’ll post it on here :-)
Oh and I got a bicycle for my daily work commute :-) She is called Aveline Alive Dunlop. We’re still bonding, but we’re getting there. She can be a little temperamental gears wise, but on whole, she’s good. I’ve had a couple of cycling adventures, but there are plenty more to be had for sure. Welly is not a particularly cycle friendly city, but I’m getting used to riding with the traffic. The drivers don’t like that, but you know… I’ve got the be seen.
Activities wise, I’ve been doing a dance class with Full Swing. It’s a lindy hop class and that is fun times for sure. I’m learning that I need to relax more when I’m dancing and that I’m not good at being led!! I’m getting there though, there are some really good leaders in the group and we rotate partners so we get to dance with everyone. I’m also realising just how much other people touching me makes me feel uncomfortable! What a sausage! I worry about germs on people’s hands and the first thing I do when I finish class is wash my hands!! I’m so ridiculous! Still, I think it’s a good challenge for me and an positive effort for me to feel more comfortable and confident around people in social situations. There are some really nice people there and it’s funny that with some, in terms of dancing partners, there is a definite connection in terms of movement and rhythm. It’s supercool. Some people come with their partners and it’s really sweet watching them learning to dance together. Then there are people like me that just turn up solo. Sometimes I have to dance on my own, but in a way that’s good because it means I really have to concentrate on getting the routine right without having a partner lead me. So. In a nutshell I’m enjoying dancing.
I’ve also started a Pilates class which while good is not a patch on Emily’s!!! Still, it’ll keep me going until I get home.
The only other thing I’m missing is bootycrabsticks, otherwise known as bootcamp. I don’t think I’m going to find one that I fancy here. They all seem really serious! Still, I keep my eyeballs out…
I’m looking forward to Joe coming over for Christmas and New Year. We’re pretty much organised for the itinerary which is super and now I need to turn my planning attention to the South America adventures. Helen is getting us organised :-) and we’re booked on our Inca trail already! Yeah!!!! Jo and I have decided on travelling from LA to NYC by train. All the exciting things!
I’m enjoying a relaxing Sunday evening after a busy weekend, writing this blog post, listening to The Archers Omnibus from last weekend. Blimey, it’s all go! Our new flattie is making a roast, I can smell that being cooked and I’m bringing mini pavlovas to the table for pud :-) Yumo.
What else? Oh I’ve eaten a lot of cake since I got here… Morning tea is a thing and if it’s a special occasion then it’s cake time a go, go! Sausage rolls are also a thing… This was the best fancy cake treat I’ve had, at Martha’s Pantry, yum, yum, yum…
Life is good. I’ve a lot to be thankful for and while I miss Brighton and people, I know I’ll be heading back there soon enough and I’ve got so many more adventures to look forward to. Hurray for adventures!