April 25, 2007

Numbers are good

Some days it is easy to forget that we're speedily moving towards a long damp dark winter. It was the ANZAC day today (the day of commemorating AU and NZ army in the II World War... and a day off from work). We spent the afternoon at Karekare and Piha beaches.

End of April in NZ should be about the same as end of October in Europe. Still, I can't remember myself falling asleep in the sun on the beach (in my spaghetti top) at the end of October anywhere in Europe!!! Not bad, eh?

Besides sleeping on the beach, this week I started calculating how much buying a house would cost here. I think, I mentioned before that everyone is really property crazy in here. The mortgage interest rates are very high (8.6%-9.8%), but Auckland houses seem to be selling like strawberries. Just this week 3 new "for sale" signs appeared in our street. Want it or not, you start feeling "outside" of all this craze and possibly "loosing out", if you're still renting.

It felt good to put the figures together and make it all rational, instead of the panicky emotional fuzzy general idea of a house. So I figured that our house value should appreciate more than 6% a year for us not to make loss (not even talking about making profit!!!). If it ever comes to us buying a house or not, it is so much easier to make the decision about numbers. Such a relief to take the emotion out of the equation! No nonsense of "missing our chance", "hopping on the bandwagon", etc... Numbers are good.

Posted by gkligyte at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2007


We are witnessing heated debates about child rearing in the local media. The Beehive (NZ Government) is about to pass the bill (amendment to the existing law) making smacking a child illegal. Until now the law said something in the line "a parent can use reasonable force to correct child's behaviour or protect him/her from danger".

The reason for that is the horrific NZ children wellbeing (or lack of wellbeing reported by Unicef. Apparently NZ ranks 25th out of 25 developed countries in the number of our children who die from accident and injury). Several cases of violent parents haggling over "reasonable force" in courts caused the Green party to propose the bill (and be suported by majority Labour party) that instead of defining "reasonable force" outlaws any use of physical force against children.

Newspaper pages are full of letters arguing that "we've been smacked and we turned all right" and protesting against Government interfering with the daily family lives, foreseeing police swamped with false reports of children abuse, etc. While supporters of the bill push the idea that children should be disciplined by dialog and that parents should explain why they shouldn't be doing certain things instead of smacking them. They also say that if violence against any adult person (your partner, colleagues, fellow citizens on the street) is outlawed, how is it possible that we can still use violence against the weakest human beings amongst us.

I wholeheartedly support the anti-smackers, but I also don't have children. So I really don't know, if it is possible to bring up a child without ever hitting him/her. What do you think? Should children be smacked or not?

Posted by gkligyte at 12:42 AM | Comments (11)

April 15, 2007

Holiday and Deceit

We're back from Gisborne and just had a short week at work after Easter. Weekends should come every 3 working days, if you ask me! Our trip had the usual ups and downs and it definitely was starting to feel like real holiday just about the time it ended...

Visiting Mahia peninsula was definitely one of the highlights! It wasn't really planned, the idea to go there occured just as an afterthought, a small detour on our trip to Morere hot springs.

So it was just by accident that it appeared to be the most magnificent place and that we visited it just before the sunset!

I guess, most of the happy experiences happen when you least expect them... And after this we still had a steaming soak in Morere hot springs (although we had to stay downstairs and couldn't fit in the small pools up in the rain forest - my mother will know what I am talking about...)

I remembered Gisborne as the place where I got the most and the longest rides on my surfboard. So our expectations were high.

And there was surf and it cleared up after the first day of rain and on shore winds.

But something was wrong, as we couldn't catch many waves at all! It was definitely too big for me, so I resigned to paddling in the whitewater, but Kaj, spending hours and hours in the water (in low tide, high tide, morning, afternoon and evening), couldn't get on the board that much either! Somehow the waves were so steep - as you were about to take them, they would just flip your board over, pound on top of you and wipe you out completely. Some surfers were doing a bit better (not catching super long impressive rides though...)

This is the window that I was watching Kaj from (lying in bed tucked and warm under my blanket!), when he was dashing out into the waves at 7am every morning!!! Our accommodation booking didn't go without a major mess-up kiwi style. We booked months ahead, because we tried, but couldn't find any rooms in Gisborne on Christmas. The description of the room had just one picture of a sunny deck facing the ocean, and said something in the line of "step off the front of the lawn onto the beach.. blah blah". However, when we arrived, we were showed to a tiny dark depressing room tucked under the owners' house (they were enjoying the view from their sunny deck!) and facing the road. We just refused to take the room (it felt like traveling in SE Asia, actually: "Does the room have the view of the ocean?", "Yes madam, you can see the ocean from the hotel", "But this room that we're booking, can you see the ocean from there", "Yes madam, if you climb the stairs to the restaurant, you can see the ocean", "But when you sit in the room, can you see the ocean?", "You can almost see the ocean".. and so it goes...). So there we were, 550km away from home with major holiday coming our way and no place to stay... We did find another place with the view to the sea from the bedroom (as you can see), but out of 5 nights, one of the nights was booked, so we had to go somewhere else...

If you're looking for a place in Gisborne, don't stay at Beachstay B&B, but stay at 99 On Wainui Beach. I can't believe that the descriptions are that similar, the places differ like day and night!!!

We went up the coast on the East Cape North of Gisborne for the one night that we didn't have a place to stay. Tolaga Bay is one of the more famous stops there, because of its pier (the longest pier in... NZ? ...the World? As far as I can remember, it is some 600m long!!! Besides that, it is just a few kilometers from the village and the beach where they filmed the "Whale Rider" movie.

It was interesting, yes, and quite beautiful, but the whole day felt wasted, because it was a bit cold and a bit cloudy. The worst was yet to come, as we were heading to spend a night at a "Willowflat" farmstay. It appeared that our room was an extension of the owners' living room (the owners were an elderly couple). It was all full of antique crockery and we didn't have that much of privacy (what with sharing the shower and setting out to a labyrinth of rooms searching for a toilet...). We also had lengthy conversations with the owners (they definitely had a colourful history, so it was interesting, but at times it felt like visiting your grandparents. You shouldn't be paying for that!...)

On the very last day in Gisborne we managed to get to Millton Vineyard and Bushmere Estate (these two places I spotted during my last visit). We always thought that we were into red wines more than white. But once you taste a really really good white wine, you can't really say anymore that you like red wines more than whites. However, our approaching winter and long dark nights make the choice easier... What could warm you up better than a bite of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine after a long day at work (and an oil column heater, of course. And electric blanket...)?

This is Tolaga pier, btw.. The weather has turned quite nasty again. You can't even say that it is all nasty, it rains 15 minutes, then the sun shines for the next 15 minutes. It doesn't help, if you're trying to dry the laundry outdoors on a day like that...

Posted by gkligyte at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2007

Long Dark Easter Evenings...

Autumn is approaching fast. Last weekend we went to Te Arai point for an afternoon surf and we finished at 6pm, almost in darkness... Nights are becoming really cold (Monday morning we woke up with every (!) window in our house steamed up!!!), during the days the sun is still hot and we wear t-shirts... Aaaand... early evenings make beautiful pictures!..

I was dyeing Easter eggs yesterday and it all felt like preparing for Christmas: dark inside, candle for heating up wax, the smell of burnt matches... What a strange Easter! Long winter months ahead and nothing around us to suggest rebirth or renewal... I also couldn't find white eggs anywhere. Apparently NZ hens lay only brown eggs. But even brown eggs took colour well and I managed to impress my colleagues with a pretty collection of orangy-yellowy-blue-marbly eggs (dyed with onion peels).

For the long Easter weekend (6 days alltogether!) we are going to Gisborne (550km away from Auckland!). It is going to be a long drive tomorrow and I hope it'll be worth it. We spent the whole spring eyeing Gisborne and envying its sunny, dry and warm weather. While the whole country was soggy and grey shivering in its 17C degrees, Gisborne was basking in sun enjoying 25C degrees. However... This weekend they promise the first below 20C temperatures for Gisborne! So we're leaving 21C degree Auckland and going for 18C degrees in Gisborne... Who could have guessed... :( Weather forecasts is something we live by and pray for these days... :(

Hopefully we'll still get some good surf in Gisborne, it doesn't really matter rain or shine when you're in the water. But how about those sunny afternoons in Hawkes Bay wineries?!?! Fingers crossed, maybe we'll get some decent weather on Sunday/Monday?!?! Please....

And I'll tell it all when we get back. See you later!

Posted by gkligyte at 10:27 PM | Comments (142)