NZ, part five

The rest of my visit to NZ was spent at my bro’s place. I had missed him the most, missed driving to his place for a weekend of peace and tranquility.

I had breakfast with H before she went to work, and said goodbye. I would miss her and kitty. I left just before 9 am heading over the Pahiatua track (more memories). It was cloudy when I left but sunny once I got past the Mt Bruce hill.

It was fantastic driving the usual route. Unfortunately, I had no music as the rental car didn’t have a USB port for my music. I didn’t bother with radio as reception is not great in the hills. It was great to see K and G again. We played several obligatory games of Siedler.

The next day we drove the back road to Gladstone. G had mentioned a reserve to go walking but it was just a carpark by the river. We had lunch at a local pub.




Returned for more Siedler (visits to K were always about food, Siedler and trips to walk the dogs) and watched more of Hellfjord.


Next morning, K and I visited a beach between Riversdale and Castlepoint. I’m glad K had an SUV – it was quite a narrow, windy, hilly gravel road but spectacular views.


Castle Rock, looking north towards Castlepoint

It was a lovely day, if a little windy.


We returned to more Siedler (yes we are addicted).

I had given K scanned copies of the old family slides, so we went through those, reminiscing, then K showed me video from his snorkelling near Cairns, and his visit to Goulburn, our father’s birth place. We had a glorious dinner of free range pig with roast veges. We watched a bit of the winter olympics.

Another storm was expected over Wellington, but thankfully the day after my flight home.

K left for work the next morning at 7.45 and I left half an hour later. I chose a different route to the usual one but got held up by sheep!


I stopped on the hill for one last look at the region.


And a pic of the rental.


I had enjoyed driving it. I had thought that if I bought a car I wanted something like it, but it was a bit basic inside for the price and I couldn’t open the boot while the engine was running (pretty stupid).

I had confused the time that I was supposed to be at the airport with the actual departure time so I was very early. I had had time to visit H and C’s cousin who lives near the airport. It was great to see her. She offered me something to eat but I figured I should get to the airport after dropping off the car.

The car rental people didn’t even look at the car and so the new aerial wasn’t noticed. I heard nothing from them after that so either they didn’t notice or didn’t mind the replacement. Relief.

I won’t talk much of my usual negative experience of Wellington airport. I did not have a beer (at $10 a glass) but did get something small to eat. The queue to go through customs was so long it wound past the eating places in the main lounge. (The airport is too small!) Once on the plane we taxied to the runway, stopped and returned to let off someone who had behaved inappropriately (apparently – I saw and heard nothing). The already late flight was another half hour late. The video screens didn’t work properly for the first third of the flight. The “Thai beef curry” was more like a stew. The “dessert” (an icecream) was too sweet.

The plane reached Melbourne at 7.40 pm a lot later than it was supposed to. The bag took ages to come through which was unusual for Melbourne. However, after getting the bag it was straight through to catch the Skybus (unlike ****ing Wellington).

End of. I’m still planning to travel to Sydney this year but have yet to organise things. I want to visit two cousins and two others, if poss. We will see.




NZ, part four

So far, this has been one day per entry, but I’ll combine two days in this one.

I headed back to Supercheap Autos and they managed to find an aerial that fitted. It didn’t look the same but it was a shorter, more robust one that wouldn’t fucking break with overhanging branches (not that I intended to back down any more overgrown driveways). I hoped the rental car company would overlook it or accept the replacement.

I drove past G’s place to see if she was home. She didn’t know I was in the country, so it was a total surprise to her as I sneaked up and said hello as she was doing something outside. She was delighted and invited me in for a cuppa and chat. It was like I’d never left, as I listened to her gossip.

I left before lunch and bought a yummy pie at a local bakery, then drove to the Esplanade, another old haunt, to eat it.


Had a wander round the paths with more memories. I spotted fantail, tui and kereru (wood pigeon). Unfortunately, the autofocus on my camera focuses on the branches not the bird.


I then headed out to my old workplace. Parking had gone up 50c. It was strange walking towards the building. I had a faint sense of dread. I looked in on former workmates downstairs first before heading upstairs. It was good to see them all. Nothing had changed. Upstairs, the boss and my replacement were away, thankfully – ironically at a conference in Melbourne. Some others were not there either but the important people – ones I wanted to see, were. I even went to arvo tea with them and took part in the daily quiz. Again, it was like I’d never left.

I had arranged to meet several ex-workmates and friends at the usual pub. It was lovely to see so many turn up. Four of us then had dinner together at the Thai restaurant next door. Fantastic to see them.

The next day I covered all the shops I hadn’t previously. I returned to the Plaza as well and spotted an old friend’s mother. I stopped to say hello and she talked for some time.

I had leftover pizza at H’s before meeting her at the new Brew Union bar – very hipsterish. She had a wheat beer and I had a Kolsch. I had wanted a malty beer but it tasted hoppy like all the rest. H’s beer had a weird lemony taste. H returned to work and I decided to drive out to another old haunt – Foxton beach.



It was a refreshing walk and I could see Kapiti Island and the coast towards Wellington clearly. I hate that the beach is designated a “road”. It’s therefore not a pleasant beach to relax with children or pets, always on the lookout for some dickhead in a vehicle.

I headed to the estuary to do some bird-spotting.

The camera I had with me does not focus well when zoomed in sometimes. So, despite the fact I finally saw spoonbills, I didn’t get a good photo as they were some distance away. I also saw godwit, pied oyster catcher and white-faced heron. The wind didn’t help with focusing.



I returned to H’s place. Played with kitty and later played a game of Settlers of Catan. I won.





NZ, part 3

Discovered, that after one day, some arsehole had banged the rental car door and left a red mark. Headed to Super Cheap Auto and the guy there got the red mark off but said he couldn’t remove other marks left behind. A guy parked next to me suggested using toothpaste (which I used later with success).

Went shopping at all the usual places including the Plaza and bought myself some jeans which didn’t need taking up – 2 pairs for $60. I bought a size each in 10 and 11 for slim and fatter feeling days. It’s the first time, apart from a dress I bought last year, that I’ve fitted a size 10. Wow.

Also shopped for a new bag, parking at Harvey Norman and wandering down Broadway. Nothing there. Had a pain au chocolat at the French cafe and headed to Ezibuy. Again, nothing I liked. I liked the pattern on one top but it was long and overpriced.

Then headed to supermarket and bought some beer I had missed (Aussie beer is so expensive and not a great range of international brands). Also bought Red Seal tea, hair ties, etc.

I returned to kitty and played with her and read a book. There was a text from M that she was home so I headed off to visit her. A was home too and invited me over for dinner. M talked a lot and it seemed not everything was rosy in her life.

As I backed out of the shared overgrown drive, I heard a crack. The overly long, stupidly angled aerial on the top of the car had broken. Bloody hell! There was no time to return to the car place, so I stowed the broken bit and headed to Ashhurst. I went to the domain and walked around, reliving so many memories and feeling very sad. I missed my dog so much.  The river had carved out a huge chunk from the bank and it looked very different. Where once I had walked with friends and family Рgone.


View from domain


Memories of walking Zara

Then drove to A’s place out towards Pohangina. Her friend, S, was there but didn’t really greet me, which I thought rather rude, considering he was all chummy on previous occasions. He was on his way out in any case.

Chatted with A over a G & T and I met her 5 cats who had adopted her. Had a lovely meal and sat in one of her two lounge rooms for more talking. We had missed each other.


Stitch, the friendliest of A’s 5 cats

I then returned to H’s place and had a wine before heading to bed.

I had not driven past my old house. The new owner had removed all the garden and trees and I did not want to see it ugly and bare.

NZ, part two

H had work the next morning just for a couple of hours. I spent a leisurely morning showering, etc and exploring the place – nice, spacious house with a sunny breakfast area overlooking the private backyard.

Once H returned we had a cooked breakfast. She text her friend, E, in Sanson that we would visit. E is H’s oldest friend and the nicest. She was the personification of an earth mother – so generous, creative and motherly to all. She had had a baby since I left. I drove in the rental car since H needed a warrant of fitness for hers. It was a sunny but humid day.

I’m not normally into babies but F was cute – a placid, happy baby, as expected with a mother such as E.


I met E’s ageing dachshund, too, who I will probably never see again. Great memories of him and Jasmine interacting. Had a great catchup, even seeing E’s partner and “brother-in-law”. I said hello to E’s chooks and guinea pigs too. Fond memories of my childhood when I had guinea pigs, and fed the chooks after school.

H had planned to get a kitten and had all the gear, so after visiting E, we went to the SPCA to check them out. A nice new setup in the building with cats having free range instead of being stuck in cages. Plenty of kittens but just not the one H wanted. She was set on a black and white female.

We then visited a shopping centre that I used to frequent for groceries, free range food, veges, and alcohol. We did pretty much all. The owner of the free-range place had put on a lot of weight. It was good to see him though and he even recognised me. H had found out that her local vet had one kitten so we went there on the way home. The humidity was unbearable. We were sweating profusely as we waited for the woman to bring the kitten out. Her answer to “What colour is she?” was “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Sure enough, her colouring was difficult to describe. She was outwardly black with some white but had subtle tabby stripes. She was affectionate – a little older than H had intended. Her story was that she was found lying on the chest of her elderly owner who had died. They estimate that she had been with him for two days. It was such a sad story I think H and I had tears. Of course she wanted to take her. The vet staff had called her Cersei. We didn’t think it a good name for such a sweet cat but couldn’t find a suitable one for a while.

So, I had a new grand-kitty (as I’m unlikely to be a proper grandmother).


I fell in love with her over the next couple of days. She was such a sweetie.

We celebrated the new member of the family with beer and frankfurters.

In the evening H and I went to the Warehouse and KMart. KMart bore no resemblance to the store I left in 2015. It was now identical to the Australian stores, and I didn’t like it. However, it was cheaper than Australian stores. The prices were the same but with the exchange rate NZD was cheaper than AUD.

I hadn’t intended to do one day per blog entry for this trip. It may not be for the rest of the week but this is all for now.


NZ, part one

A week later and I’m again heading off to work soon. I worked for 10 days straight and only had a day off yesterday. But I’ll start the account of my NZ trip and then perhaps, one day, I might get around to blogging about my Myanmar trip – nearly two years ago already. I cannot believe how time flies. I’ve been in Melbourne 2 1/2 years already.

I was asked by some why I took a trip to New Zealand as if it was an odd thing to do if not actually “holidaying” there. Naturally, I wanted to catch up with friends and family. Perhaps it’s weird to spend a week in a place you used to live in but if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s people more than places that matter.

So, I had a reasonably early flight, I thought, and was up before dawn to catch a tram (there being no trains at that hour) to Southern Cross station in order to catch a bus to the airport. Melbourne is still backward in having no train link to the airport – really stupid. I got to the airport in plenty of time to check in, only to be told that the flight had been delayed by four to five hours, thanks to fog in Wellington! Thanks, Wellington! Thanks for your lousy weather. I swear that city hates me. Ninety percent of the time I visited that city the weather was absolute shit – just for my benefit, it seemed.

Five or six hours is a very long time to spend in an airport where there’s not much to do, except eat overpriced shit food or drink overpriced alcohol, or shop for overpriced ‘things’ that I don’t need. Luckily, I had a book, but you can only read for so long before needing a break.


At the appointed ‘new’ hour of departure, the plane still wasn’t there. Wonderful, just wonderful. I had had to call the rental car company to tell them I would be there after hours which incurred an extra fee. I was delighted – not. Any plans for a civilised dinner with H had gone out the window. I was driven to drink.


Finally, finally! we were permitted to board the plane half an hour after it arrived.

I watched a movie (Three Billboards…) which was ok then half an episode of “Top of the Lake”. The meal was salty salmon which I did not enjoy and left mostly uneaten. The other choice was fried chicken or eggplant and rice, both of which sounded unappealing.

It was pouring with rain in Wellington but unusually warm. We waited forever at immigration then another 20 minutes for the baggage to come through – why, I have no idea as we were apparently the only flight to have arrived at the time. I despise Wellington airport. Every single time I pass through it I have a negative experience. It didn’t stop there. My bag, when it finally arrived, was absolutely saturated. I was not impressed to say the least. I had declared, so had to go through bag screening. On previous occasions I was just asked what I had (chocolate and/or tea) which is usually the case in Melbourne. Once through (about an hour after landing), I called the car rental company who was to pick me up. I waited outside in the rain but no sign until I got a phone call by the driver to say the van was parked nearby and was waiting. How the hell was I to know?

The driver took me and two others to a shed on the other side of the airport and said keys were on the counter. Not exactly talkative. We wandered over towards the shed and saw someone behind the counter. The cars were parked opposite. Got into my white Mazda 2 (aka Demio) and began the journey towards Palmy. It was still raining heavily.

I had barely left the airport when I had to take a detour and was stuck in a traffic jam for 10 minutes. You can imagine my mood. This trip had been a nightmare.

Finally, I got on the motorway and headed north. I drove the new stretch of motorway with no idea where I was in the dark with pouring rain and wind. It was nice to get on familiar roads.

I actually drove past H’s place as I didn’t recognise the frontage. A garage and fence had been built in front. But she’d seen me and come out. It was great to see her but so late that it was time to go to bed almost immediately. The top layer of the inside of my bag was damp. Fuck you, Wellington.

The last time I updated, I had not yet been to NZ. I should, therefore, write something about that visit, but don’t currently have time, about to head to work. I’m working all weekend, dammit.

Speaking of work, I have picked up another part-time job, doing what I know best Рcataloguing. It came out of the blue. I casually enquired of the organisation, was invited to an informal interview, and the following day was offered a contract to start work immediately. I think I am still  in shock actually. The only downside is that they are based a long way away Рtime-consuming to get to by public transport. It took me two hours to reach home after leaving work.

I am, therefore, buying a car. I won’t enjoy the heavy traffic, it’s true, but if I can shave an hour off the commute, it will be worth it. And then I can explore more of Victoria to my heart’s content, instead of relying on my daughter to invite me on their infrequent forays.

Gotta go!

More later.

What do I mean getting. I’ve always been cynical (it runs in the family) and I am getting older (who isn’t?) but I do wonder if it’s getting worse.

Of four books I had out from the library recently, none of them were gripping enough that I had to get to the end. I didn’t finish two of them. One by Ben Elton (and I should’ve known because I haven’t enjoyed any of his books) “Dead Famous” I found totally boring. Another “Goodbye Vitamin”, an American book which I thought would be funny, didn’t capture my interest at all. It read like a collection of totally random diary entries. I gave up on that one. A third “Headlong” was interesting but had verbose in-depth analysis of Bruegel’s paintings that read like a thesis. And the fourth, a collection of short stories by Roddy Doyle, is enjoyable enough but only something to pick up because I had nothing else to read. Disappointing overall.

My cynicism continues with the TV series “Mars” a so-called documentary, recommended to me by a friend. I think it’s dreadful. It has two parts – the present (2016) and the future (2033-37) dramatisation about a base on Mars. Neither is well done for the following reasons:

1) 2016 Random ‘experts’ drone on about human exploration, past achievements, the difficulties, ad nauseum, but don’t actually talk about technical issues. I think it’s more of an advertisement (‘how great are we’) for Elon Musk and his SpaceX venture.

2) 2033-37 Professionals, such as captain and botanist do not behave professionally. On landing, the captain refuses a medical examination. What? The ‘botanist’ spends his time spraying water on his plants, fingering their leaves, whispering to them, and breaking down because some of them die. Not once does he use any technical equipment (computer, microscope, etc) – ie there is no research. He’s just an overemotional gardener.

3) They go from finding a cave to build their settlement, to suddenly being up and running without explaining the technical aspects – how they did it, where the materials came from, etc, etc.

4) An engineer uncouples his safety line in a dust storm and wanders off to find the machinery he’s supposed to fix (how he would without getting very fine dust in it, was not explained). Oh miracles, he finds it and all is well, and presumably finds his way back to the rover despite not being able to see anything. The power comes back on and all can continue as normal. (Never mind that the person responsible for rapid expansion argued that plants needed power when they barely had enough for essentials. Oh please.)

5) The “botanist” opens the door to the unprotected outside world because he’s hallucinating. Why would there be a door to the outside world from the plant lab? Come on!

It’s all utter bullshit. I got more information from five minutes of googling, and you’d learn more from watching the movie “Martian” than this piece of garbage melodramatic “documentary”.

I live alone, so have to rant sometimes.