Wednesday, 3 February 2010

New Zealand

Now in Keri Keri. Took 5 hours to get here by bus, I was expecting to be blasting along on motorways but was A roads all the way. I wasn't sure about it here when I arrived, Louisa was there to meet me off the bus stop in Keri Keri, then we went straight to a supermarket to do some shopping. Got back to hers and the house was full of kids running riot. She introduced me to Grant, her partner, who came across as a bit of a dingbat. The house is big and sprawling, with lovely gardens and a fantastic water hole where you can go swimming. A water hole is a bit of a misnomer as its quite a big lake, thats filled with constant running water from a stream. I was swimming with the kids within an hour of arriving although the weather was pretty grey and miserable. Louisa has 3 kids from 2 fathers, Tiger the oldest boy, Finn second youngest from her divorced husband who now lives in Thailand and the youngest a girl called Charlie Rose from a different ex-boyfriend. Grants 2 sons were here also, he is going through a divorce with his wife of 21 years, he and Louisa have known each other for the last 10 years. They are a bit Hippy Dippy, the kids rule the roost, but essentially they are nice people. In the garden, Louisa lets out a paddock to a lady who keeps llamas, so there's a dozen of them as well as a dog 'Zina' a peacock and peahen and chickens and ducks and 2 cats. Grant brings his dog Spike here when he visits and they have just let Spike and Zina mate. Grant lives 90 minutes away in Whangarei, the next biggest town going south. Keri Keri is right at the top end of the north island. The kids had there first day back at school today, so it was nice and quiet. Louisa is a grower of a sedge that's used in landscaping to stop soil erosion, she has a couple of polytunnels and I've been working in there for the last few days, digging up the mother plants in the nursery beds, splitting them, into small plants that will be potted on and maintaining a larger plant that is the mother plant which will be replanted and harvested again at a later stage. It's quite boring and hard work as they have a very extensive fibrous root system, but the worst thing is that they are quite sharp and my arms and legs are now covered in bright red scratches. This is just a side line of hers, on top of the yoga centre she runs here. She has a beautiful wooden building up on the hill, that is 150 years old which was originally a church hall, she had it moved here 6 years ago. She is a highly qualified teacher and has constant reassessments and has to return to India every 4 years, to maintain her high status. She is trying to convince me to attend one of her Thursday evening classes as she think she can help me with my elbow problem, which is now very sore and stiff after working so hard. Today was the first nice day since I arrived, it did try to rain a couple of times this morning but when I finished work at 12, the sun was out and lovely and warm with a fresh wind blowing. As usual I was filthy dirty so decided instead of having a shower I'd go for a swim in the waterhole instead. It was glorious, lovely and peaceful apart from the buzz of the cicadas, it's quite tropical this far north. It was so nice I decided to make myself a sandwhich and return with a towel, book and ipod for a couple of hours sunbathing. Everyone is lovely and tanned, I'm still horrible and white and feel very conspicuous. One other bad thing here is that this is a no-shoes house, and my feet being the horrible things they are, I'm constantly trying to hide them. I managed to rip my heels to shreds whilst walking around in Auckland in a brand new pair of pumps, so that makes them even worse.
The major negative here is the fact it's quite isolated and there's nothing nearby to walk to, there is no public transport to speak of and there hasn't been the offer of using the car. As nice as the house and garden are, this isn't what I travelled all the way to New Zealand to see. Although having said that Auckland was completeley uninspiring and the 2 days I spent there was 1 day too many. I reckon I won't stay any longer than 10 days here, I get the impression Louisa thought I'd intended to stay for a month at least, but there'd be no point. She was telling me today she laid awake all night last night worrying about her financial situation as the yoga business isn't making any money, nor the plant growing and both of the fathers of her children don't pay maintenance for their kids. Apparently it's frowned upon by Kiwi blokes as a sign of weakness!
She wants Grant to move in, but there is the issue of the mother of the boys who wants them full time. I asked Grant what he did for a living and he told me he was a cattle farmer, but yesterday when chatting he told me he designed and built houses, I'm a little confused! He also admitted he is $10,000 overdrawn on his credit card and is paying the minimum payment every month as he has no income at the moment. We drove to the local dump yesterday to get rid of some rubbish from Louisas garden, she had given him $30 to pay, but when we'd tipped everything in the skips the bloke in charge wanted $50, I thought it was all a wind up at the time, but it got quite nasty, with the bloke taking Grants number plate and saying if he didn't return the following day he would report him to the authorities and they'd take him to court for the extra $20. I suppose it didn't help when I told him we don't have to pay anything to dump rubbish in London unless we are a commercial tradesman. Apparently the opinion that the rest of the world has about New Zealand being so green is bullshit, according to Grant. There is nowhere in the whole of Northland used for landfill and all rubbish from here in here in the far North is trucked down to landfill in Auckland 5 hours away, not particularly environmentally friendly. Kids are now home from school and playing with the pellet firing guns that Finn bought yesterday with money his dad gave him whilst they were in Thailand visiting him, he handed over $180 for 4 guns, I was gobsmacked as Grant and I were outside the shop chatting at the time, I was really surprised the shop would have taken that much money from a boy of 10 without an adult present. Haven't taken any photos yet, but will post as and when. TTFN.
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