Monday, 28 December 2009

Fun...mucho fun

It seems to become a tradition; once in a while I will do a big update instead of tiny ones here and there. Life has been eventful, too much fun playing outside and no rest for the wicked. Or at least no time for computers. Obviously...

The last 3 weeks I have been spending my evenings on a circus course...which was totally exciting. I have to refer you to Patrick's blog for some fun movies...

Christmas has been spend with Patrick's family in Palmerston North. His aunt Mary has taken us in her house and we spend the last 5 days meeting the family, eating nice food, drinking delicious wine, having good chats, playing lots of games and doing some sight seeing. And we laughed a lot: Mary has a great sense of humour (and she doesn't mind some crazy people like us!)

It was also about time to put some effort in my lovely lonely blog: some Maaike stories and kiwi pictures! I think there are about 10...'Lekker leesvoer'... And after today I will be on a proper long holiday with my mother: travelling around the North Island, showing her why I love NZ that much!!

And finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy, happy and an amazing 2010. I hope to see you in April/May (if not before...!)

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Work is challenging and joyful good, but just amazingly busy...I suppose to finish my contract mid 2010. I wonder. I mean, I will have it done, but there might be more… Or not: all fun and games (true kiwi expression!) In the meantime, since I was asked, I wrote an article about embedding literacy and numeracy into Adult Community Education (ACE) programmes. Literacy and numeracy is my thing, I don’t really know much about ACE. If you would like to read it, click here. Good thing is that I already got one teaching contract out of it. Not that I have time, but hey... U vraagt, wij draaien...

Thursday, 10 December 2009


One new and exciting thing I picked up since my last post, is Maori class. I know I’m a true language nerd, however, doing a class 6-9 on a Thursday evening made me feel a bit hesitant. Being the only non-kiwi made me aware that I would probably have the least prior knowledge to the language. How wrong could I be. On all levels!
The classes are in Maori style, so we start off with Karakia (prayers), Waiata (songs) and some meditation. Then the 3 hours are basically full of interactive learning with practising in pairs, doing songs, learning vocabulary while doing ‘haka’ like movements, doing hand/foot coordination and clapping rhythms while learning word combinations. We do games, we push each other, moreover we have fun. Lots of fun, it is totally cool. We are a very supportive team, I think!

Our group is interesting and you can sort off divide us in 3 categories. First category are people from Ngai Tahu descent (South Island tribe) who never learned Maori and now they want to learn it. Some youngsters and some wiser older people. Secondly, there is a big bunch of primary school teachers: Maori language and culture is part of the curriculum nowadays, so they feel the need to improve their language skills. And lastly, there is this group of random people who are just keen on learning Maori. I’m one of the random ones...

On an educational level it is very interesting to see how Hoani, my teacher, teaches. He is good at what he does. And honestly, the diversity is massive!! Some people have a huge bank of vocabulary and excellent pronunciation (mostly the Maori participants) and then you have me: nil knowledge nor pronunciation skills. You have people without any education and people who are highly educated. You have linguistic freaks like me and you have the rest of the group who are monolingual all their lives (Kiwi’s are basically shocking at learning languages) and barely understand the concept of how languages are constructed. The fact that I don’t know kiwi songs, is an immense shock for some.

But we have found our merry ways in it. If we start a song the entire class has their eyes (and ears) on me and starts laughing because I sing whatever I think the tune is...I attack my fellow learners with a zillion questions ‘ what does x mean, what does y mean’ and they are not surprised about even the most simple question: they know I have no basics. Then again, sometimes the English speakers find the pronunciation very hard, I find it easypeasy because I have that thing for languages. If sentence structures are completely not like English, the class struggles, I’m comfortable with it. Since I have always learned languages by the use of grammar and textbooks, Hoani sometimes gives me some grammar to please me. If Hoani doesn’t get the English grammar, I explain how it works. Or like Hoani says: I teach you Maori and you can teach me English. And he says that with the biggest grin on his face: he thinks I’m hilarious...little language nerd...

So yes, my Maori classes are really superb. Having exams every 5 weeks is quite full on, but they are very accommodating. You do them in pairs, lots is verbal and you never fail...just not yet achieved...!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Queen Charlotte track - late November

So. Last one with pictures. I still owe you my pictures from an amazing cool trip to Marlborough Sounds: biking the Queen Charlotte track with Amy, Michelle (aka Mighty Midgets) and Steve. It is a walking track but you can also bike it; we took a lazy-ish 3 days for it which meant about 3-4 hours of biking per day, then pitch up our tent, and give our legs and bums a well deserved rest. Biking was up and down....and up. Steep cliffs, amazing views and lots of learning. I improved my balancing act: going steep up is going much better now! Downhill was crazy and cool and I only fell off once at a switchback. No biggie. Then, nutters as we are, Amy, Michelle and I decided to bike back the last 25 km to the starting point. As you do.

I loved this trip so much more than I expected: the biking was awesome. I sound like a teenager. I know. But it was awesome! More pictures soon if I get them from the others...!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Wellington - Glynn and Jayne - in November

Finally I went to see the capital of New Zealand: Wellington. I heard lots about it, but unfortunately work has never taken me there. Auckland is more the hype for that...Anyway, one of Patrick’s best friends, Glynn, lives there with Jayne. So they had a spare bed for us and they showed me around. We visited some great musea (definitely a miss in Christchurch), went for walks and city-coffees!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Lake Chrisssstabel in late October

A three day weekend was spent around Lake Christabel and Robinson Valley. First big hike of the season... that backpack on your back is a familiar feeling, but still, it slows you down considerably! It was a great trip, lovely camping, nice chats with people and especially the second day over the tops in the snow was amazingly fantastic: really loved it!! Thanks to Patrick for the pictures...

And, finally, a lovely panorama which Patrick made!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Happy 29!

I don’t celebrate birthdays but since my 29th year turned out to be such a good one, I decide to celebrate it in style...A kiwi pot luck dinner with great friends...Special credits to Rachel who made the lovely truffle 30!
Go figure, 30 but still in need to ID myself to buy alcohol...!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Lake coleridge in early October

An easy weekend escape: 1,5 hours away from Christchurch is Lake Coleridge. Some undemanding hiking with stunning views. Fresh snow made the spring hike a bit tricky (I lost count after 5 falls...) but we enjoyed taking pictures...So close to home and it feels like a holiday!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Spring Challenge in September

The great Spring challenge: an all women’s adventure race (rafting, biking and walking/running) for teams of three...It all happened in September!! 'The Mighty Midgets' (aka Michelle, Amy and myself) had done some good Wednesday evening walks and biking and/or walking in the weekends. Steve, Hamish and Patrick kept on saying we weren’t doing enough, which is probably true, but we were going for no glory, but maximum fun!

Before we started we discussed that the main thing was that we should enjoy the race, so we classified ourselves as non-competitive. While looking at the map, the route and the day itself I suggested that we should aim for a race time of 8 hours and Michelle and Amy ‘mightly’ agreed.

We started with a hard 3 km tedious raft challenge across a lake: we paddled hard (we actually did...) and we were the 10th boat into the river (out of 40 boats so 80 teams). The river turned out to be an annoying bumpy 11 km run where 9 boats passed us...All that hard effort for nothing. Garumph...

Anyhow, Patrick and Steve were our heroes for the day: they made sure we had a smooth shift from wetsuits to bike gear, from empty bellies to filled muffin stomachs! Muscles were a bit cold, but Amy set the pace for the first 10 km mountainbiking! Next was hiking up the hill; the beautiful day had become a quite hot day and my body decided to go against that. I needed to go one gear lower, which was totally fine with Michelle who lead the way, but it frustrated me for a while....

After some excellent navigation (definitely our strong side compared to the other teams!) and a quick descent it was biking again. Still a happy trio, making fun along the way and not tempted to go crazy on the bike: some cool downhill bits made us pass several teams. This time I showed off the tricks, smoothly followed by the other 2. After a warm welcome at the transition spot, some more food in our body, it was off to do the last walking and navigation bit. And this is where the Mighty Midgets became more competitive than we thought we were. Steve reckoned we could not do it within an hour and although we promised each other that we would NOT run at all, we noticed that we were being overtaken by a few teams. Knowing we were good at the navigation we decided to run at strategic points. Amy up front, me happy following and Michelle struggling but damn serious! It resulted in taking back our position, keeping the last leg within the hour and we finished within less than 7 hours in total...We came 30th and they classify the first 40 as competitive teams... Great achievement!
However the real amazing thing about this event is, that there are competitive teams, but also teams who are in their sixties and who have never done this before. Someone took this picture below: it's a classic!

Very tired though extremely satisfied we, the Mighty Midgets, realised that we were a well balanced team: every time one of us felt extremely good and that person set the pace for the other 2. The training beforehand was never a boring moment and during the race there was no spark of frustration within the team (Amy didn’t need to use the ‘happy lollies’). We are definitely in for next year, this time as a better trained team with still maximum fun. And the best thing now is that we keep training together...

And finally, one of my favourite pictures: mighty Michelle and Amy...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Girls weekend in August

I know this bunch of outdoorsy girls and once in a while one of us gets an itch and organises a girls weekend with some proper challenges! Cheviot was the plan this time round but no outdoors stuff...So it turned out to be a real girls weekend...lots of lazying, zipping wine and eating food. And silly chats and silly moods.

Simone and I sneaked off at one point to a nearby beach and I did my best to copy Simone at taking photographs. I didn't do too bad, but in all fairness, Simone is a professional photographer...Check her blog for random and gorgeous pictures!

These pictures are mine though...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Winter: miss daredevil!!

Somewhere in August Patrick and I went away on a wee little trip into Mackenzie country: the beautiful area of Twizel. Some people say there is nothing in Twizel. Those 'some people' should definitely stay away so Twizel stays like Twizel!

The mountains are amazing: they look strong, powerful and invincible. There is solitude. Quietness. Real people live here. Patrick and I went there to relax, away from the mad place called work, but in reality we ‘slaved’ away on the snowfield of Ohau and mountainbiked around the lower mountain range. Good food, nice wine and early bed. Enjoy the pictures...

Some other weekends have been used for the close by snowboarding (meaning daytrips from Christchurch: superb!); this winter I've been enjoying some off piste trips. Conquering some really scary icy parts, but totally worth the fresh snow, the views and the adrenaline of going of the main route. I become miss daredevil as soon as powder snow kicks in. Bless the inventor of the helmet. Especially my helmet...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Some catching up to do...

Favourite past time: work
My work has been very busy. Good busy, but some days were a bit 'mad'. Working at a school means that I have to go along with term breaks. So when teachers teach, I teach as well and when they have holiday (term breaks) I can catch up on developing sessions, project administration and just breath. At the moment we have 4 groups of tutors doing the professional development and jeesz, I’m juggling my time.
Work has been good though; my teaching has really kicked in and I love it. It will always be challenging: tutors are known to be the worst students to have. And hey, I know, I am one of them. But, in all honesty: I do love it!
We also organised a big conference about adult community education; or better said I helped out. It was all in accordance with Maori culture; so my first powhiri (welcoming ceremony) with one woman from one tribe welcoming (singing/talking) the other tribe and in the meantime checking out whether you are friend or foe. When both tribes sat down, some stories were shared and finally it was time for the hongi (pressing the noses) to personally say hi to everyone. New to it all I had decided to be on the visiting tribe, although my tribe(our school) was hosting it. So when I did the hongi, I was jokingly told off by the Maori tutors I work with...I was of course suppose to be on their tribe...
Besides this amazing experience, the conference was a big hit. Lots of it was in Maori, very interesting workshops and my workshop was well visited (probably due to the news that the new government cut all funding for 'hobby' courses if it hasn't got literacy or numeracy in it....yes, literacy is the flavour of the month). I stayed over at the Marae (Maori community centre...sort of) and helped out there too: I have learned so much, I met so many interesting and warm people. Afterwards I really felt (again) that I really need to know more about Maori language and their culture. Don't get me wrong: I have already learned heaps in the last year. I cannot get around not knowing some language but also the philosophy around it, is very essential within education. Anyway, it has resulted in signing up for a certificate in Maori Language...

Another rogaine
My ankle has revived a bit since the last 24 hour rogaine. My physio has given me some exercises after she told me 1) I was getting older (meaning: you don't revive that quickly after a long event) and 2) I totally walk 'un straight'. So good that I am a 'good girl': I was already doing yoga, I got orthotics for in my shoes and I started my strengthening exercises. Result is that I'm constantly aware of how I walk and now my back is bloody sore...

Anyhow, another rogaine (6 hours) was still to be done. This time with Patrick, on a freezing cold winter day with the regular cloud/mist, frosty rain and slippery, very slippery slopes. I really enjoyed it, even more so that I could show Patrick that I can indeed navigate. For some reason he always thought I was hitching along with others (even though I told him otherwise)...I showed him right...lovely! (expect comments from him...)

Spring challenge
Amy, Michelle and I have entered the spring challenge which is in 2 months (team event which entails biking, running and rafting). We are going for maximum fun and no glory, but to maximise the fun, we have started some action. Sort of. Action in the sense that we went for one Wednesday eve walk and a long bike ride in the weekend....we are getting there...
On the bike front I have shocking news: my finally well equipped commuter bike got stolen....While I was in the supermarket for 5 minutes, even though it was connected to the bike stand. I felt like being home again. Bloody hell. So, I needed to buy a new racer. Which I did: a nice second hand hybrid bike (mountainbike frame and slick tyres) and I must say I have never biked that fast. It’s great, I’m very jealous.

The snow is back: and it is great! I had 2 attempts in the last month but the weather wasn't out to play. Weekdays of snowboarding seem to be the way to go though. So when friends ask ' is looking good...what do you think...wanna go...boarding?' I am happy to say yes with my arms wide open. Result: I had amazing days!! And due to the previous mentioned amount of work (meaning: overtime) it was easy to plan in without taking days off!!

This winter time I decided that I should get my own board and boots. A world of difference: Patrick's old board is 14 cm taller than what I should have. Ok ok, I could still have used his board, but going down a blue field takes some effort and skill and trust me: with my new board taking turns is smooth like butter!! And immediately I noticed that I have learned some bad habits last year due to the too tall board...ah well. Live and learn!!

And with a little bit of luck and hard work this week, I will be taking a week off next week to enjoy the snow even more. Yay!

Homeless...Not very surprisingly, but bad timing; Susan (my flatmate) has decided to move in with her boyfriend. She was basically living there already for the past 4 months (with every month a week in our house) and they have now decided to stop pretend they don’t live together. So, since this is Susan’s house and it is basically too expensive for individual tenants, she has come to the conclusion to rent it out. Don't get my sarcasm wrong: I totally understand her point of view and I've been asking about her plans for some weeks now, but it is just bad timing: my brains are just overflowing with work already...Anyhow, what are the solutions?! I can move with them to the sea side (bit far for me to bike to work every day), so I think I prefer to stay on this side of town, close to the hills. Thank God this is not the Netherlands: plenty of nice houses and rooms to find. It is just a matter of finding a nice, cosy one at the right place. To be continued...

Last weekend Val, Dom, Patrick and I went to Auckland. The main reason was to see Circus du Soleil, but –maybe, don’t tell Patrick- I enjoyed hanging out with Val, Dom and Patrick more. It was just an amazing weekend; we stayed at Dom’s mother and she is a very warm, smart and cheerful woman with a fantastic smile. Staying with a family, having nice wine (even in the hot tub!) and enjoying good food and engaging chats made me miss my family. In a good way. Happy way. And yes the circus was cool too, but maybe....maybe the best bit at the circus was having Patrick sitting next to me shouting out phrases like ‘no way’, ‘that’s amazing’, ‘wauw, look at that!’...Like a 5 year old. That definitely made me laugh!!

So, wee little catch up. I end by saying that I got residence as well, so yay I can stay in the country even if I lose my job (which I am not, but still...)...all good!!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Kirwans track

Last weekend Berit, Maria, Patrick and I headed up to the West Coast, Reefton, to avoid the shitty weather. Brilliant plan (thanks Berit!) and it turned out to be beautiful. On our way to there we jumped into some hotpools along side the road (to leave the final work stress behind!) and we stayed in this hostel from the early 50's where we played scrabble. Chocolate scrabble...

The track was lovely: from the start till the hut...slowly...going...up...hill...Needless to say I was knackered at the top.

It was frosty frosty cold higher up and Mr Winter makes the sunlight lovely. And ice stars on the huts windows!

All pictures are taken by above three; and as you can see I was using walking poles and I'm in a lot of pictures: I was an easy slow target. First time with poles. For the snow that wasn't really there. But thank God I had them...The first minute I put my walking shoes on I noticed there was something wrong with my foot.

Result: autjs during the entire hike.

Post-hiking result: a physio who tells me I'm getting old (WHAT?), who has given me some exercises to do which really help and who got me into doing Spring Challenge in September...

Needless to say she reckons I will be fine...!