Power Rangers, legendary parties, elephants and an overdose of birds!

Well it has been a while since I last wrote eh! I think it is mainly because I’ve been trying to churn out the obligatory “summary of my travels” post so I can move on with my life, but t is quite an epic task so I think I will gloss over it for now..ho hum!

It is now technically autumn over here, which means that some days it is as sunny as it was in summer, and other days it rains really hard. And I mean REALLY hard! The difference to the UK is that it can literally come out of nowhere (as in, out of a nice sunny blue sky) and it can also vanish just as quickly. So just because it is a horrible grey drizzly morning doesn’t mean it won’t turn into a beautiful day later on. Either way, we have been trying to make the most of all the sunny days with lots of day trips and walks and the like.

One day, with a few friends, we headed to Tiritiri Matangi Island, a 75 minute catamaran ride from central Auckland. This tiny island is an “open sanctuary” for birds, managed by the Department of Conservation. So basically, the only wildlife is birds, and there are a lot of ’em! Including some endangered and awesome-looking ones, just plodding around like they own the place. There is one catamaran out each day (and one back) in order to limit the number of visitors. The sun had its hat on and we had a great time tramping round the island bird-spotting followed by a nice relaxed swim in the sea. Luckily we remembered not to take our Argentine ants with us (this will make more sense when you see the photo below…)

That evening we headed up Mount Eden (a five minute drive away) with some takeaway fish n’chips to watch the sun set over Auckland. This must be one of my favourite past times so it disappoints me that we don’t go more often – such a beautiful view over the city…

Other sunny days out included geocaching in Cornwall park (which has equally good views down on Auckland and reminds me faintly of Hampstead Heath in London) followed by ridiculously ginormous and delicious honey and cashew nut ice cream nom nom.

We also had a nice slightly hungover stroll around Western Springs Park, which had a very English feel to it. There were a few large, scenic lakes; LOADS of species of birds (bird birds everywhere but not a drop to… hmm not sure where I’m going with this). The best, and most unexpected thing though, was stumbling upon an elephant! It turns out the park backs onto Auckland zoo and the elephant enclosure is separated from the park by a thin metal fence.. amazing! Apparently once the elephants escaped into the park! I can only imagine how different my life would be right now if I had been the first to come across a huge elephant taking a roam around the lake…

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One night my house mates and I headed to the biggest party I have ever been to in my life (maybe… possibly… ).We had been excited about it for a while. Apparently the house – known as “The Big House” -started off as a Catholic girl’s boarding school in the early 1900s but later transformed into a 21-bed house-share in the 1970s, from which point they started throwing legendary parties  (there are some great photos on their facebook page). Everyone eats together (there are rotas where teams of tenants cook for everyone) and you should see the size of their cleaning rota!. Pretty crazy stuff. We got an invite to the party through one of my housemate’s friends, who lives there (in fact, what with this being New Zealand, we actually knew two different people in the house). The theme was “Under the Sea”; the dance room was bigger than a lot of clubs I’ve been in and was filled with amazing decorations; there was a line-up of bands and DJs; there were fire dancers in the garden; there was a guy wearing the best Spongebob Squarepants costume ever who I spent the night trying and failing to get close enough to take a photo with (it was like Where’s Wally – I’d spot him in a crowd from up on a balcony but by the time I’d descended to the garden he would have vanished). The night was filled with crazy dancing and we eventually left when the house was getting too packed to properly move in! I later found this blog post someone wrote about the effort that went into organising a previous party there, which I found quite interesting!

One weekend there was a community street party one road down from us which I went to check out with my housemates. It had been organised by the cafe on the road and everything was completely free! There were delicious milkshakes, candyfloss, popcorn, and amazingly, hot dogs filled with two bratwurst sausages and home made onion relish! A photographer had also set up a little photo booth which we took full advantage of! What a great idea – the whole local community came out and mingled together and it felt very quaint!

In other news, I’m quite pleased with how I’m progressing with my climbing! I think all my strengthening work at the gym is helping out as I’m no longer dropping off the wall as soon as there is a slight incline! I’ve progressed up about two or three levels since I first started so I’m quite chuffed with that; it’s not often (ever?) that I’ve stuck with a sport regularly to the point I’ve felt myself improving!

Rob and I have kinda formed this little posse with four of our friends (two Americans, one Canadian, and a Kiwi!) and we all take it in turns to cook for each other every week. And the standards are pretty high – one of the Americans is a chef! It’s always a good night and plenty of wine is normally consumed 🙂 We have also started a weekly dinner night with our housemates which is rather awesome and so far quite feijoa focused! (We have a feijoa tree in our garden which drops at least thirty feijoas onto the ground every day!).

Another house event (okay this may just be me, Lindsey and Robbie) is the weekly NZ Bachelor double-bill. This is probably the most hyped-up event of the week and for good reason – it is a highly entertaining show! And it seems everyone in NZ is obsessed with it, I’ve never seen anything like this level of obsession over a tv show! I don’t usually watch trash tv as I only find it entertaining when watching with other people (when it becomes more of an interactive experience) and Rob is awful at pretending to care about such things. It makes me feel nostalgic of my uni days when every night me and my four house-mates would squeeze onto our futon (plus two wooden dining chairs) to watch Hollyoaks and Big Brother. We are already planning what our next trash tv show will be when this finishes (god forbid!). Last night was a particularly great viewing as Rob made us all Mexican hot chocolate with marshmallows in 🙂

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I have also developed an addiction to carrot cake. But not just any carrot cake… THIS carrot cake, from Fridge, a nearby cafe:

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It normally takes me two days to finish it, with me taking a mouthful every time I wander into the kitchen. YUM indeed.

Oh I’m also obsessed with Burger Rings. I’m not sure if they are a NZ thing or not but I’ve only seen them here and I love them:

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So I have now been working in my OT job for five weeks and I absolutely love it. I didn’t think I’d find anywhere I enjoyed working more than my last job in London but I do! Our clients are mainly young men who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (normally due to a combination of drinking and some kind of ill-thought out sport) who are admitted to us a week or so after their accident and have so much potential for recovery. It is really fascinating watching them slowly emerge from their Post Traumatic Amnesia and gradually get their personality back. A great client group to work with!

Rob has spent the last three weeks working full time on the Power Rangers TV set! He is the safety guy, which means he works with the stunt team to help co-ordinate the stunts and make sure everything on set is running smoothly. It also means our car is always crammed full of scuba gear, gigantic first aid kits and climbing ropes and harnesses. He is really enjoying the work although it is long hours (up at 5am, back at 7pm each day). On his first two days there was an accident each day, which were apparently the first accidents of the whole season (which is now nearly over)… a great start for Rob! (I should note that he is very clear that the accidents would have happened regardless of who the safety guy was!). One job apparently involved hoisting two sword-fighting chickens into the air while they got blown up.. so your run-of-the-mill stuff then really.

Aaand I think that just about brings me up to date, what a great feeling!

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