November 24, 2006

15 Minutes Walk

To pay tribute to my 5 minutes walk to work in Leijonakaupunki, I think it is appropriate to document my 15 minutes walk to work in New Zealand.

No kidding, it really looks like that. The path to work goes along the beautiful Oakly Creek. It looks extremely rural, but it is quite in the middle of town, not far from one of the main traffic arteries in Auckland. I'm just so extremely lucky to be able to walk to work in the forest, instead of sitting in a car or swallowing exhaust fumes walking by the main road.

Nicoletta, my colleague grew up in the area and she said her friends would come swimming in the waterfall (they'd even jump down the waterfall!) And you could catch eels in this creek and actually eat them! There are still huge eels in the water, but this creek is just in the middle of Auckland, - I would be very doubtful about eating anything that breeds in this water.. How much of poluted water they must have swallowed!?!?

Otherwise, we're completely settled in our house in Avondale. The misery of living in the dark cold tiny house in Titirangi is all forgotten (its only been a week and a half!!!) Actually this starts feeling like living, not like settling down anymore! We still have to get a bigger fridge and some stuff for the house, but our worries are reduced by some 90%. It feels like its time to get some hobbies, start some projects and actually live, instead of sorting things out.

Going to parties is a part of "living" as opposed to "sorting things out" too. I was grabbed along to this one by Nicoletta, my colleague. It was fun! We don't know many people here yet, but it is Xmas season here (all sorts of pikkujoulut here are twice as joyous, as it is summer here.) BBQs abound, just walk down any street on Friday or Saturday night and you'll definitely smell some burnt (sorry, BBQed) meat, hear popping of wine bottles being opened (except that probably you won't hear popping, as most of wine bottles here have screwcaps! Supposed to be so much better than corks! That was a bit of a shock for us when we were travelling here in April, but now we're very used to that! More convenient and the wine doesn't get spoiled by bacteria and oxygen!!!), happy chattering of people on every terrace.

Depending on your social circle, you may be invited to parties (or have parties at your home) all the time through December. We have just 3-5 lined up at the moment, but imagine if you were local?!?! Parties every night!?! Thats what I call "living" :) !!!

And Kaj, obviously, manages to squeeze in at least one surf session for each weekend! Last weekend we went North to Te Arau Point. This is East Coast and there's usually no swell, unless there's a storm in Pacific Ocean. Once you get waves there, they're very beautiful and clean, not like the messy West Coast.

The sand is clean and white, not black, as on the West Coast. Pretty amazing beach. Kaj is most likely going there again this weekend. I may give it a miss, as there are no surfboard rentals around and I don't have a surfboard, so its pretty boring to paddle on a boogie board. And the water on the East Coast is extremely cold. I wonder, if its because of icebergs that are passing by 100km from the shore at South Island?!?!

Posted by gkligyte at 09:31 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2006

Indoor Outdoor Flow

Ok, get ready now for the new house picture overload.. :) Kaj received a replacement camera from the insurance company. They don't produce Powershot Pro1 anymore, so we had to put up with Canon Powershot S3. Its not quite as nice as our old camera, it makes slightly too realistic pictures for my taste. Somehow the old one used to bring out a dreamy character in the most mundane situations.

It has been raining today most of the day, so we couldn't have breakfast outdoors. The sunny deck is something we really appreciate after our dark and tiny Titirangi home. The type of home we have, could be called as having "indoor outdoor flow". This may require explanation - everyone is property obsessed here and to function in this society you have to learn heaps of property specific lingo, such as "lifestyle section", "cul-de-sac", etc. Owning lots of property seems to be the only way to get rich here. There's no capital income tax, no matter how many houses you own, so a lot of people invest in property (also saving for their pension that way!) There are feeble voices saying that its wrong, as it only inflates the price of housing, but doesn't generate any money (as opposed to investing in companies that actually do something, which is good for the economy, because companies then pay tax and employ people!) Anyway, you'd be surprised to see how many houses are going on sale and being bought all around the country. Real estate agents and all sorts of side businesses related to real estate seem to seriously flourish. Living here you get to read a lot of "coffee table" property magazines. And in many cases you'd see "indoor outdoor flow" in the description of the house. Depending on your imagination, you either visualise something like this, or something like what we have - life revolving both inside and outside.

A place where you can open all the french doors as soon as you enter the house, listen to the birds singing and a happy cuttlery clatter in the neighbour's house as they prepare for dinner, say "hi" to a passer by cat and where its so easy to step out for an ad hoc gardening session, that you don't even give it a second thought... I have high hopes for our tiny tomatoe, salad and herb garden... Just you wait, we'll be self sufficient soon!

It seems that after all, we'll have broadband at home (just have to rewire the house!!!) I spent some 3 hours on the phone yesterday trying to reach our Internet provider (recently bought by Vodafone, I wonder if the first thing they did was to chop the call centre people heads?!?) So meanwhile we have to put up with dial-up again... No more video chats, guys, (except that our broadband wasn't actually broad enough for a proper video chat) at least for a while.

In this house we have plenty of space (Kaj measured today that it must be about 90 square meters!) and one completely unused bedroom. So if you were planning to come by, we'd have a proper room ready for you! Just start coming now! Summer is almost here!!!

Posted by gkligyte at 08:31 PM | Comments (4)

November 17, 2006

Moved and Happy

G these pictures seem to be familiar, don't they? Boxes and the mess... Yes, we shifted house once again! I counted that in the last 10 years I moved house 12 times. I'm counting only the times, when I moved with the intention to stay in the new place for long term, none of my temporary accommodation places are included!!! It is actually quite horrible, all this moving from place to place with all the boxes all the time. No place that you could call your own, and never really having all your favorite stuff with you.

We hoped to make this move as stress-free as possible, so we hired a moving company to carry our stuff. Stress-free! FAT HOPE! Reading this blog you may already have the idea that nothing in NZ works out from the first time. The move didn't go without a major mess-up NZ style either. When booking the movers, I pointed out several times that our driveway is very narrow, winding, sloping and has overhanging tree branches + cables, so a big truck would not fit. As I was sitting pretty with everything neatly packed up on Monday morning 10am, waiting for the movers to come, I had a nagging feeling that something must go wrong. And sure enough, at 10:05am I see a guy walking up smiling - the movers sent us a large truck and the driver came to tell me that it wouldn't go through. The smaller truck apparently broke down and could be available on Wednesday. And, of course, nobody bothered to inquire with us about that, no, they just sent a big truck hoping that it will somehow fit. That's very kiwi way of doing things... You know that things are not quite the way they're supposed to be, but you still try - maybe the truck has shrunk or maybe the trees have grown since last time we spoke on the phone?!?

Anyhow, they managed to find another slightly smaller truck and send it down by 2pm. The first 2 guys refused to come down after seeing our super steep path leading up to the house. But they were gracious enough to let the company know that we didn't have much stuff. So the 2nd time they sent just one guy. Luckily he grabbed two women from his family with him to hang around. Thank goodness he did! It was a mad sweaty business carrying, and I did a fair share of dragging stuff, as Kaj was at work (weren't the movers hired so that we wouldn't have had to carry stuff?!?!). It was hell getting any of the larger stuff out - the sofa, fridge, laundry machine around the many corners and through extremely narrow doors of the Titirangi house!!...

But now its all over and done, we're in the new house and have been unpacking like crazy the whole week. Its a really amazing house - we're loving every minute we spend here! It is large and beautiful and quiet and our stuff fits inside!!! Its also warm and light! We haven't used our heater and dehumidifier once since moving! Towards the end of the day I just can't wait to get home, its the kind of home where you can laze around in the afternoons with a book, see the plants grow on our sunny deck, pure bliss!!...

And besides all this, the house within 15min of walking to my workplace along a pretty winding creek with dreamy overhanging trees and quacking families of ducks. There will be more pictures soon!

However, after spending some 2 hours on the phone trying to reach our broadband provider, I learned that we can't get Internet in this house!!! What are we going to do?!!?

Posted by gkligyte at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2006

Finally the Summer is Here!!

Ok, summer finally arrived!!! We were about to loose hope that it will ever come. Since April we experienced a lovely autumn, had a glimpse at winter (they say it was the harshest and longest winter in 35 years!), grunted through extremely wet spring, and... This weekend basically opened the summer season for us!!!

Having Helloween and All Saints day in summer feels quite odd. No children came down to our house to beg for "lollies" (This is how kiwis call candy. Tomatoes are toms, avocados are avos, chicken are chuk, what else?), but we saw lots of "witches" on the roads and quite a few Santa Clauses!!! Well, thats a cool dress for Helloween?!? Talking about Santa Clauses here, I was stunned by the unexplainably funky look they all have (yes, the shops are Xmas decorated already!) It took me a while to realise that most of the times they're sporting sunglasses!!!

Yesterday we had yet another festival (fireworks and all sorts of firecrackers were going off at nights for a few weeks already). Guy Fawkes Night is a big deal here, because its the only time in a year that they sell fireworks at shops. And everyone goes crazy about them, shooting fireworks at all times, all directions, etc. Apparently it causes huge damage (houses on fire, hands and eyes ripped off, etc) every year and there are talks of stopping fireworks sales next year (one of the ministers said "ok guys, I warn you for the last time, if you don't behave this year, no more firecrackers next year" Ha ha, I'd say...) We haven't read Sunday papers, but judging on the sounds of fireworks last night in our quiet neighbourhood and judging on what we've seen of people's attitudes otherwisehere, there will be no more fireworks next year! Good.

We also visited my colleague Helen at her house in the country at Helensville (how appropriate for Helen to live there!!). She's a film critic and she's been supplying us with a steady flow of NZ films DVDs for a couple of weeks already. Its very interesting! I guess local films is one of the better ways to get to know the country! I've seen Helen dragging heaps of plants from the plant shop at Unitec (students grown!) and now I know where it all ends up! Her house and garden were lovely! (Not sure if I'd be able to spend almost 2 hours every day to go to work and drive home though...)

So yeah, ever since the weather got better, we're in much better moods (although our car mirror was smashed last Friday while it was parked by the side of the road. Someone drove too close to our car?!?!... I'm so happy we didn't get a better car, its already dented and scratched, so now it doesn't hurt too much... just that we have to pay for the damage by all these reckless people around us... as long as we're both healthy and alive...) and 2 days of surfing at Muriwai helps a lot! :) Compare this with the pictures from just 2 weeks back! Quite a change, isn't it?!?!

Posted by gkligyte at 05:31 PM | Comments (2)