Monday, 20 April 2009

Weekends 3!

Veronica's 30th....

Veronica is one of my friends with whom I go biking and climbing: I don't see her much at all, but she is really good company to be with. So, she turned 30 and instead of organising a party, she organised a weekend away. Excellent!

Veronica booked a bach and about 30 people came out to play. Since her boyfriend Charlie is a rediculous good mountainbiker (Veronica is not too bad either!) they took most of us out on some cool tracks. Loved it. Again. Also discovered that the 'oh so modest' Patrick is quite capable of biking too (he is better at it than me!). So he is busted and he will be dragged onto the mountains more often. Before you think he was modest in saying he wasn't good enough...No, he is just lazy and he fooled me by saying he couldn't do it. Oooh, does he probably wish he didn't show his skills...loser. My revenge will be sweet...

While driving to the bach I was complaining to Patrick that I love having so many outdoor friends in NZ but that I miss the dancing, clubbing and wicked friends from home sometimes (you can fill in the names yourself!). I only been dancing once here...

And as if everybody heard me say that: we had a superb party in the evening!! Everybody made some food, loads of drinks were drunk, happy chats were held and some excellent dancing was shown. My crazy dancing needs were fulfilled!

I love dancing. I can never have enough of it. Nice to see some kiwi's here love it too... ;-)

[all pictures taken by Patrick: they show the 'gezelligheid' don't they...Is there an English word for 'gezelligheid'...Don't know]

Weekends 2!

Easter weekend was in charge by Steve. Steve and his sister have bought a property of land up on the North Island, 3 hours north from Wellington, and as he calls it, it is 'in the wop-wops'. Meaning: in the middle of nothing. We drove over and took the ferry: lovely trip on it self!

He (and family and Michelle) have built their own little cabin. Absolutely amazing if you think of the fact that they had never done it before. It is really nice and cosy. No electricity, no running water. But an improvised fridge, hot shower (yes!) and toilets with excellent views. ;-)

This is our natural fridge!

Anyway, back to the property. Main purpose of the land is to have native trees and enjoy nature.

The area which is still a paddock at the moment is going to be converted into a forestry patch. Sort of their retirement fund...If the non-native goats won't eat it...

Plants will be planted shortly, but before that fencing needed to be done. Or better said: old fencing needed to be removed so new and hopefully better ones will be put in. Our job was to help out with the fencing. Pretty tough job, especially since some of the old posts just refused to come out. Nasty buggers...

We also came over to shoot goats: goats are a pest in NZ (they are non-native: bloody European brought them over...) and eat everything they can get their teeth into. Unfortunately we tried to find some, but we didn't. So we shot some pieces of wood... Night time was used to play games, eat and sleep. Which I did a lot. I had one of those weekends again: sleep as much as I can...lovely!

It was lovely to see Steve's place but it did make me realise that having a property like it, is not as romantic as it first seems. It's a lot of work (especially because they live so far away), you have to be quite knowledgeable and it costs a lot of money...Maybe I will stick to my dream of renovating a little country side get a wee little head start!

Speaking of sticking: loads of stick insects (wandelende tak!) live with Steve on the land...Pretty cool

[all pictures taken by Patrick, except the 2nd!]

Weekends 1!

It is not just NZ that is fantastic, it is also the way of living which is really appealing in NZ! An example. If you would have asked me back home to go on a girls weekend I would have said 'yes, sure' but I would have thought 'ugh, as long as it is not too much girly stuff like shopping and doing nails/make-up and the lot'

When somebody asks me here to go on a girls weekend, Im saying 'hell yeah, great!' because here it means biking, hiking, exercise and getting sweaty and dirty. Of course the giggles, nice food, wine and girls talk is part of it too...

So 3 weeks ago Berit organised a 'girls only' weekend: we did an amazingly fun mountainbike track up Craigieburn Valley. I heard some nasty stories about it (I even bought a new bike helmet because of it...), but it turned out to be quite alright. The one hour uphill was pretty tough, but going downhill (the part I mostly not enjoy that much: yes Im a chicken!) was nice. Very nice. Im getting better at leaning back (meaning: sitting above your back wheel) and my balance is improving. Sure, I got off at some tricky spots (Im not that mad!), but I truly loved it!
The next day we did some orienteering (running a certain route while being guided by your compass). I have done some rogaining (sort of same thing but then you can decide the route and collect as many points as possible), but Clare, Rachel and I decided to team up. We were planning on MaXiMuM fun and no competition: we had fun, I did most of the running, but 3 teachers in one group....not a good idea, we ALL knew better. Ah well, we came 14th. And we had fun. Most of the time...;-)

As soon as Berit sorts out the pictures I will put them on!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Baby boom...

Friends and babies. Babies’ friends. Friends’ babies. Friendly babies… Very confusing from a distance, I can tell you that!

The time that your friends are starting to have babies while you cannot seem to fit anyone else but yourself in your life, is a bit strange. It has been lovely strange, especially if you are very close to your friends when they make this life changing decision. Before I went travelling, my time with Petra and Lex when they had Roos and Toon has been very mindblowing (never learned so much about babies!), very loving and emotional. I saw Petra almost every day; I reckon those 9 months preparation are not just for the parents-to-be but also for people around them. Seeing Petra ‘grow and glow’ made me part of that. It has been very very special.

Last year when I was travelling my friends Inge Judith and Fried were pregnant (yes, another one of my theories: you are both pregnant. Last time I checked you need man and woman to get pregnant. So there). When I was home in May I saw Inge Judith’s belly (6 months). Bit new, bit different, but yes, it fitted fine; I got used to it. Now that Sjoerd is born, it is very hard to imagine that Inge Judith and Fried are parents. I have never met Sjoerd, nor have I met Inge Judith and Fried as parents. Pictures and stories are great, fantastic and a must (hint), but they don’t give you the full image.

So now I get to the stage that friends are having babies without me seeing any phase of that. I know, I choose to live here, and I love it, but still. It is hard to imagine your (best) friends having those tiny little creatures which are cute…and more importantly… theirs. And it all happened in this last month…I wonder what was going on in Europe, 9 months ago…

So congratulations to Emma and Anthony; Irish friends I met in Australia in 2001 and whom I obviously saw much in Drogheda and Cork when I was living in Ireland. No more late nights drinking Guinness/Bulmers and dancing to Anthony’s Ska band…Little Luke will make sure they will get sleep deprivation though!

Then my friend Miranda and her husband Harro. Little did I know 5 years ago that while Miranda and I loved nice dinners after work and a few glasses of excellent wine, that Miranda’s quitting cigarettes actually meant that she wanted to get married and buy a house. Happy days for their family now they have Dante, their 3rd child…

Then last, but definitely not least: my best friends Catherine and Floor. Catherine and I went to uni together. We loved dancing, and beer, our bike rides to the beach (that damned tram behind me…), the tattoos (does it hurt….euh yeah), city girl versus country side girl, the festivals (Lowlands: first introduction to…Floor) and off to Australia together. They both took great care of me when I got back from Australia and I absolutely didn’t want to be in the Netherlands. So I know they will be great parents for little Jip who is now part of that sublime match.

So wauw, babies. It is honestly hard to imagine that while I go biking, climbing, running and snowboarding that my friends are taking care of their children. I wish I could just hop over to see them. Im sure I would 'click'.
And sorry (dad): I’m still not convinced that I should go back to Europe nor that I want children. Yes mum, I know you can put children on your back while you go hiking. And yes everybody, I’m sure I would be a great mum, but I had my share over Christmas…I love kids, especially because I can give them back to their parents…

And I heard more friends are expecting…joyful news!