Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Spring Snow

Well, we've been here over a week now! We've had the most glorious spring weather, really warm and sunny, been to the beach and nice things like that and then today it snowed! We don't really mind because the conditions should be great for a ski trip planned for Thursday! Natalie hasn't been skiing for years and Neil has never been so it could be interesting. And now we've worked out how to post photos to our blog you may get to view some funny moments!
Met loads of new people who have all been very friendly and welcoming. We were involved in our first church service last Sunday morning and we woke the congregation up with some balloon races and Neil talked about what we were looking to do with the youth and children.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Our home in Rangiora

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

New Home

Andrew (our new vicar) picked us up from the airport and took us to our new house. We were so amazed when we walked in; it has 2 bedrooms, bathroom, garage with a study area and a kitchen/dining/living area and it was completely furnished! The cupboards were stocked with food, people had made cakes and brought flowers and we felt so welcome.
When we'd unpacked our stuff it began to feel like 'home' very quickly.

We've spent the last few days since arriving settling in. We've met lots of people (not sure how many names we'll remember) and have done practical things like get a bank account and buy a map!

The weather has been glorious - crisp mornings but the sun is really warm. We went to the beach yesterday (Neil was excited about the prospect of surfing, Natalie collected interesting shells & driftwood!)and to the cinema. Next week looks like a trip to a nearby ski field is planned...

We have got photos from all the places we've been but as yet have not mastered the technology - watch this space!

New Zealand Bound!

Flights from Charleston to Christchurch varied. We nearly ended up in Dallas beacsue nobody wanted to check our tickets at Charleston airport, even when we told the stewardess there were people sitting in the same seats as printed on our boarding passes!

There were five people on the flight to JFK, 8 hours watching CNN loops in New York, bizarre placed seats on flight to LA between business class & economy (so we got forgotten for dinner but then remembered for the very posh ice-cream), an amazing terminal in LA (where we wished we could have spent 8 hours!), fantastic flight to Auckland and then, before we knew it, flying over the South Island mountains and plains into Christchurch.

Charleston with the Calladines

We arrived in Charleston at midnight and Mal met us at the airport. Neil had an interesting time getting used to driving our automatic hire car on the other side of the road! During our journey to 'Calladine Castle' in Mount Pleasant there was much evidence of the damage caused by the recent tropical storm Gaston - there had been lots of flooding and one house had a fallen tree right through the middle! The other annoying aspect of hurricane season is the warm & wet weather which is mosquito heaven - 14 million females in one acre! Our legs are still recovering!

Monday was a great day! We sat around the kitchen table and ate breakfast, chatted, the Kelly's arrived so we ate lunch and chatted some more. Then we went swimming and surfing in some incredibly rough yet warm waves just off the Isle of Palms beaches, then we went home, ate some more and sat and watched videos!

The next week was just as chilled and relaxing! We did a few tourist things which included a carriage tour of downtown Charleston (found out lots of interesting facts about rich people and their houses, including internal stained glass windows from Tiffany's worth millions of pounds), a boat trip to Fort Sumter, where the American Civil War began, and a trip to the South Carolina Aquarium. We ate dinner at a Moe's, a Joe's and a Poe's and had one of the best milkshakes ever from a coffee shop in the centre of Charleston. We also visited a few shopping malls but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your opinion) our luggage from England was already over the weight allowance so purchases were severly limited.

The best part of our holiday in South Carolina was simply spending time with the Calladine Family. We had such fun catching up with them, meeting their friends (and their new cat!), reading Captain Underpants with Jaedan, going to the cinema with the girls, trying to understand the rules of American football (Neil got it, Natalie really didn't!) and eating ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

But all too soon it was time to leave (at some rather ridiculous hour of the morning)on the final leg of our journey...

The BIG Apple!

We arrived in New York City at lunch time on Friday 3rd. September and got a yellow taxi from JFK airport to our hotel, the Millenium Broadway, which was on West 44th. Street, just off Time Square. Our room was on the 37th floor so had an interesting view - we could see the people working in their offices in the TV Channel 4 building directly opposite!
We decided we'd go for a walk to get a feel for the place - BIG is really the only words we had to describe it! We couldn't get over how tall the buildings were (though by the next day it did seem quite normal) and just how generally large everything is.
The first shop we went into was Toys R Us, pretty similar to England but this one had a big wheel in the middle of the store! And we also recognised a man discussing a bike with his son, did a double take and realsied we knew who he was because he was Boris Becker! Very bizarre!
We spent the rest of the day walking around the Rockefeller Centre and Fifth Avenue and tried to stay awake as late as possible! One thing that helped was spotting the 'big apples' that were dotted around, decorated in all sorts of designs - my favourite was the one that looked like a strawberry dipped in chocolate!

On Saturday we walked down Broadway through Greenwich Village and Soho to the World Trade Centre site. On our way we visited the Union Square farmer's market and went for a very nice lunch in the Union Square cafe - the number one place to eat according to our Top Ten guide book to New York! We ate at the bar, which is apparently a popular thing to do and it allows a fantastic opportunity to 'people watch'! A very friendly lady, called Claire, chatted to us and was delighted by Natalie's accent - she wondered if we were in the US to pursue careers in broadcasting!

Having visited the World Trade Centre site (just can't imagine what it was like when the towers were still standing)we walked to the Hudson River and, from a distance, saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We then began the long walk back up Manhattan as we wanted to ascend the Empire State Building at just the right time so we could see it in the daylight, as the sun went down and as night fell. A bit of a tricky thing to plan because we had no idea how long the queue would be nor were we entirely sure of what time the sun set! We did intend to catch a bus but the traffic was stationary and it was a one-way street which confused us further!
Anyway, we reached the Empire State building at 5:15, queued until 6.30 and the sun set at about 7pm so it all worked splendidly! The views were just amazing, impossible to describe but we might try and get a picture up. We had an audio tour which pointed out sites and told little stories about New York and it's people from different positions of the viewing platform. It was our fifth wedding anniversary and it was rumoured to be a very romantic venue but to be honest it was so crowded that, amazing as it was, romantic is not a word we would use to describe it! There were a couple up there having their wedding photos taken and I'm sure they thought it was lovely!

We spent most of Sunday in Central Park - people were having picnics, sailing mini motorised boats on the lake, jogging round the reservoir, rowing boats, fishing, cycling, having wedding photos taken - all the usual stuff! More opportunites to watch the world go by!
Then we had to make our way to the airport for our flight to Charleston. We were slightly concerned because the streets were completely jammed due to it being Labour Day weekend, theatre goers and the Brazil Day street festival which had completely closed a large section of road with stalls and a stage! Our driver told us they have different festivals for different countries on most Sundays. Anyway, we got to JFK in plenty of time, ready for the next part of our holiday!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Welcome to Neil and Natalie's blog! We are going to try and keep you up to date with all our news through this. We will try to keep it regularly posted, but not promising anything! Photos may appear now and then, miracles do happen!