Sunday, October 31, 2004

Our new car/people carrier! We have already had 8 in it!

The beautiful botanical gardens in Christchurch.

Look at this one sideways and have a guess what it is! We will give you the answer soon.

The arrival of our boxes, hoorah!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I wrote a new entry for our blog on Saturday, went to post it to the site and then was told I had to reconnect. Needless to say, by the time I logged on again the post had been lost and I was so fed up I couldn't be bothered to write it all again.
Anyway, the major exciting event of last week was the arrival of our nine, slightly rounded boxes which have been on the road/ocean for ten weeks. They have faithfully protected our stuff all the way from the Sheffield and not a single item was damaged. We did wonder what the thought was behind packing some items which we seem to have little use for here but generally it's great to have our 'things'. Photos of family and friends cover nearly every available surface which is lovely and it makes you all seem slightly nearer!
Last weekend was Labour Weekend - a little like a Bank Holiday. Lots of people take the opportunity to go away for a few days but those who don't seem to spend their time doing the same as people in England - DIY and gardening! Rangiora has an annual A & P show (agricultural and pastoral!) and the carnival opens on the Friday evening. Lots of the youth were talking about going so we decided to go together. It wasn't very thrilling and they seemed disappointed though I'm not sure why as the standard comment was "It wasn't very good last year either!" We'll have to wait and see what their memory is like in 2005.

On Monday we went 'tramping', the NZ term for hiking. We tramped up Mount Richardson (1043m) with some people from church. Most of the walk is through 'bush' and it took us a couple of hours to reach the top. We had hoped the early morning cloud and mist would clear by lunchtime but it didn't so the view from the top was rather opaque as we actually couldn't see anything at all! Oh well, always another day! It was amazing to sense the different sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes. We tried 'honey dew' which is produced by an insect that lives in fungus on the bark of a tree. The honey drops out from little white strings that protrude from the fungus and it gives the most distinctive, sweet smell. It tastes lovely too! You're advised not to climb the mountain in the summer because the wasps are unbearable. The fungus is bizaare because it's black and appears like soot but when you touch it it's fluffy and it doesn't brush off the bark. If you do tear a section off it acts like a sponge - it doesn't feel wet at first but if you squeeze it has stored so much moisture you almost wring it out! Anyway, I was fascinated! We ate the leaves of a pepper plant to and I won't insult your intelligence by telling you what that tasted like! By the way, the people we went tramping with did know exactly what we were trying and they tried it too so we knew it was safe! There are definitely some interesting botanical photos from our expedition and they will be posted shortly - bet you can't wait!
The most unusual aspect of the day was the number of trampers we passed who were carrying large shot guns - slightly disconcerting. Apparently could have been shooting wild pigs but we didn't see any evidence...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Down to Work!

Although we've been employed since we arrived much of the 'work' of the first couple of weeks was finding out what was going on in the way of youth and children's work as well as meeting the people who were running it and lots of other members of the church. On October 3rd. we were officially commissioned as youth and children's licensed lay ministers within the Parish. A couple of the other churches in the parish had their service at St. John's that day so there were lots of people to welcome us, including lots of children who made us cards and signed a large balloon!
Since then we've began planning a 'Light Night' (a halloween alternative) which will involve making lanterns, food, games, songs etc. - a bit like the children's club we helped lead in Sheffield. We've put out a general plea for glass jars for the lanterns and it's great because there are lots of jam makers in the congregations who have, literally, cupboards full of jars - hallelujah!
We had breakfast with other youth workers in the area so got to find out some of the things other youth groups are doing as well as making connections with people in a similar boat! Our first youth gathering was last night and it was a positive experience! We'll continue to meet on Fridays and we'll be around in the week after school too. We're looking forward to getting to know them better and it will take some getting used to for them as they haven't had youth stuff for a while.
We also went to Christchurch prison. The lady who leads the work in the prisons is 93 years old and reminds us of Mother Theresa. She is absolutely amazing! She is so full of love that the men in the prison can't help but warm to her. She has been visiting the prisons for 25 years and she's seen God transform the hardest hearts and messiest lives - it was very humbling and inspiring and a real privilege to visit with her.
The parish secretary is on holiday for 2 weeks so Natalie has been covering in the office - mostly routine telephone enquires and emails though somebody did want to know whether there would be any room for her in her parent's burial plot so that took some interesting research!

As well as the hard work we did manage to squeeze in a rugby match at the Jade stadium in Christchurch; Canterbury (we even had to go in their colours of black and red!) beat Northland 68:17 so that was good though not a thrilling match as you can imagine with a score like that!
And summer looked like it had arrived earlier in the week so a trip to the beach was in order. It seems it was only teasing, however, as snow is forecast tomorrow...

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Settling In

We've been here three weeks now and everyday there seems to be something else that becomes more familiar and helps us feel more 'settled'. We've got used to the fact that a newsagents/corner shop is called a 'dairy', that street names are on poles on the opposite side of the road pointing to the street and that when turning left you have to give way to oncoming traffic wishing to turn right (we can use our UK driving license for a year but then we'll have to take a theory test to get an NZ license)! Stopped using the term 'switch' to pay for things using a debit card - it's EFTPOS here! Washing machines only take 20 minutes to do a cycle which is a bonus but founding out about international news is nearly impossible - BBC website seems to be the way forward.
Found a hairdresser, checked out the local gym & aerobics classes and we were even able to give directions to somebody the other day so we must be settling in! Still making loads of comparisons with the UK especially about central heating but don't get me started on that one - I'm just nesh!

Skiing at last!

After being postponed 3 times - for a funeral, snow fall (can you believe it?!) and gale force winds - we finally made it skiing last Saturday. We went with Andrew, Christine, Joshua and Simeon (the vicar's family) and Melissa, one of our 'youth'. When we got to the foot of Mount Hutt we discovered they had run out of snow chains for our sized tyres so we had to get a bus up to the ski fields. As we travelled up the mountain we were surrounded by tree branches weighed down so heavy with snow they looked like they were about to break. But behind us was the Canterbury Plain (no rolling foothills in between) with absolutely no snow at all and as we looked to the horizon it was such a clear day we could see the sea! It really was awesome!
We bought our ski passes and hired our boots, skis and poles and then set off for the nursery slope. We weren't really sure what to expect of ourselves. Natalie had been skiing as a teenager and Neil had been on a dry ski slope a few times but we didn't know how much we would remember! We moved up to the next slope quite quickly as we needed to pick up a bit more speed to figure out if we still knew how to turn!
Once we got going it was great! We had felt quite cold when we first arrived but the sun was warm and we soon found we had too many layers on - always the best way round! Neil stayed on the lower slope and got lots more confidence as the afternoon progressed - though it was difficult at times with faster, more experienced skiers flying down the bottom end of the course and unsettling those who were just trying to stay up! Natalie stayed on the lower slopes most of the time but then ventured up the chair lift to the intermediate slopes which were slightly steeper but much longer so you really had the opportunity to have a good downhill run.
We didn't fall over too many times considering we hadn't been for years and we didn't ache much the next day either - Natalie thinks this is a sign we should make it a regular outing, Neil is not so sure...but give him a canoe any day.
Photo to follow (hopefully).

Health Warning! Prolonged looking at this photo will result in a bad neck, sorry!

Friday, October 08, 2004

South Carolina - Us with Chriscelle and the Calladine kids in their favourite place to eat, Moe's!

First night in Time square, our hotel was just off to the left.

Fifth Wedding Anniversary at the top of the Empire State Building