Sunday, 23 May 2010

A New 'Good Life'...

Wow, it's been a long time since I last wrote in here... much has changed!

I have been putting my energies in to two big projects:

The most important being my beautiful son Solomon, who turned two at the end of April.

And the creation of a new career/life purpose -

Which is not to say that 'The NZ Good Life' is over... far from it. We now own our very first home, and are busy creating a 'Good Life' here. We moved in in December and now have a thriving vege garden, two chooks (more to come!) and a couple of thousand worms in a very productive worm farm...

I hope to find the time to write in this blog more often now.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Technorati code

Here is my code for technorati ZD5J4Y6KVWCE hello

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Farewell to the Telstar

When Leif and I first arrived home the reality that NZ is certainly not set up for car-less people was very obvious. We got by for a couple of weeks borrowing/stealing cars from family but soon realised we needed to buy our own one pretty quickly. Particularly when living in a small town 90 minutes from anywhere!

Never ones to shy away from a bargain we saw a car on the side of the road for sale for $400. $400! And it was even drivable! So stoked were we we handed over the cash and forgot to bargain (despite honing those skills throughout Asia the previous months!).

The car was a silver (and grey spraypaint) Ford Telstar with a lush red velvety interior. An automatic transmission with a electronic dashboard. Only problem was that the electronics took about 5km to warm up enough to function. I am sure in 1984 it would have been flash-as.

Alas we were sucked in by false economy. As soon as we bought it things started going wrong and it wasn't too long until we abandoned it on the road in front of our house. Pretty soon it had a flat tyre and was leaking oil. After four months of this we thought we had better dispose of it before the neighbours complained...

Spring has sprung...

Emerging out of the winter suddenly we are surrounded by daffodils and the sound of newborn lambs calling for their mothers. Sounds rather cheesy but I am not sure I have ever been so relieved to see spring alive. Living in a rural area the seasons seem to jump out at me so much more than when living in the city... there have even been a few days when our fire has not been lit.

Further evidence of spring is that we once again have vases of flowers appearing on our doorstep. Our very sweet neighbour is a keen gardener and kept us well supplied in flowers last summer also!

We have spent the last couple of weekends weeding, mowing lawns and planting seeds for the summer garden. We are currently eating broccoli, leeks and silverbeet from the winter garden and the cabbages and cauliflowers are not too far away.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Winter has arrived...

I can honestly say that a UK winter is nothing compared to a winter in Taihape with no insulation or central heating! In fact, we reminisce fondly of London winters and that trusty central heating. With the southerly blast hitting us straight off those melting Antarctic icebergs, we have gone into hibernation mode.

The key is never letting the fire die out. After being away for the weekend, we got home last Sunday and it was miserable: it was warmer outside than in. Our days centre round the chilling trips outside to replenish the wood stack, the morning stoking of the fire, the occasional rush home at lunch time to put another block of wood on and the satisfying glow as we get it roaring every night.

For some weeks, every evening we have left the snug cocoon of our wood-fire heated lounge with icepicks to make it down the hallway to our bedroom. We would have our oil heater cranking but this didn't make much difference to the chilly temperatures down there. Realising that we were stuck on being 'normal', when 'normal' didn't make sense, we had the genius idea of moving our bed in to the lounge. Some people spend thousands creating an extra bedroom - we now have 3 spare bedrooms and sleep snuggly every night to the warm glow of the fire. It does feel a little Charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory, but hey - we're warm!

Now all that remains is for a heavy snowfall to close school. They had four days last year when school was closed due to snow, so we are hoping to beat that this winter!

Monday, 28 May 2007

New Zealand's Finest Country Cinema

State Highway One runs through the centre of Taihape, so most New Zealanders know where Taihape is. But very few have ever ventured off the main road. I hadn't - until the indicator went on when we arrived with our first car load of possessions to move here. That first trip up the side road Leif and I both noticed a big sign on a beautiful old building - "The Majestic - New Zealand's Finest Country Cinema". Having never been inside a 'country cinema' before, let alone 'New Zealand's Finest' - we were intrigued.

We had heard rumours that there was a group working to save the theatre and kept meaning to do some investigating. Then a couple of weeks ago the Taihape Times had an article about this group asking if there was anyone in the community who was interested in helping out...

One phone call, a pot of tea and some delicious orange cake later I find myself as the secretary of the 'Taihape Heritage Trust'. Leif is the 'technical advisor'. We had our first meeting a last week. A cold night and five of us huddled round a heater in the 'Nibble Nook' - a room off the side of the theatre that used to be the theatre tuck shop.

The theatre itself is wonderful. It is really like stepping back in time. Old leather seats. Native wood interior. A huge amount of work has gone into it already since it was saved from demolition in 1998. We are currently looking to open it within the next year for regular film screenings.

Meanwhile, I have some meeting minutes to write up...

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Inspirational Kids

In the last post I wrote about the challenging issues I face in my job.

I need to write a bit about how fantastic all of the kids I meet are - and I need to ask a favour.

Taihape is a small place and my goal is to give these students dreams beyond this small valley. I tell my students that they should definitely come back one day, but that it has to be a conscious choice: not one made because they had no other option.

I love Fridays. But not for the reason that I used to love Fridays when I was stuck in an office. I love Fridays because I get to teach a great bunch of Year 10 kids all day. During this class
I hope to go a little way in opening their horizons by empowering them to connect with the world and instilling in them a sense that their voice is important.

The issue this class has decided to focus on is cleaning up the Hautapu River.
The Hautapu flows around the town and is polluted by local industry and farming. The students have all set up their own blogs and are recording their progress. They are all first time bloggers and their enthusiasm is infectious. Through the internet, I want the students to learn how to find information, lobby and communicate with people around New Zealand and the world.

Yesterday I told the class that they needed to get their blogs 'out there' in the cyber world and they needed to email their link to as many overseas people that they knew. I was met with a sea of blank faces: Miss, we don't know anyone overseas!!
- One student was a mini-celeb for a second because she knew one person who lived in England and two people who lived in America.

So I taught them how to search for groups who had done a similar thing that they were trying to do. There was such a buzz in the room as they started finding out that they weren't the first group in the world to try and clean up a local river. One student managed to email a group in the USA.

Sweet Story:
I observed one student getting so excited because she was finding blogs written by people in exotic countries such as Denmark and China. I had said earlier that was a great idea to add links to sites that were relevant to their project. She called me back later on to show me that she had added a number of links to her site. She was so excited showing me. "Look Miss - this one is from AMERICA!... this one is from CHINA!" I was a little confused, as they didn't appear to have any relevance to our project... Then I realised: this student was so amazed that she could see something written by someone in another country. For her this was huge enough.

Here's where I ask the favour: Please visit our class website...
On the right-hand side, you will see links to the students' blogs. Please visit at least one of them and leave a comment - and say where you live. We are going to have a big map on the wall and we will mark where in the world (including NZ!) each email or comment has come from.

One student got a comment back yesterday from a teacher in the USA. There was yelling and screaming with excitement ...thanks so much in advance!