Index The Leaving Do Living in Wellington Cricket Excursions Other 2 Weeks in A Leaky Van Australia Indoor Blogs Interviews Updates Guestbook

Its hard to believe that another year is drawing to a close for us in New Zealand. We arrived back from our trip to England over Christmas and New Year 2007 on the 11th January this year and immediately went to watch the test match at the Basin Reserve being played between NZ and Bangladesh. So, straight back into the swing of things.

Plenty of events have marked this year in New Zealand. In the early summer, the New Zealand General Election was held, in which we were eligible to vote. Politics in New Zealand is fairly similar to the UK; both of the main political parties, Labour and National, are broadly similar to their British comparatives - Labour and the Conservatives. As such, both are placed on the right of centre on the political spectrum. The main difference in the politics of New Zealand is that they employ a method of Proportional Representation in order to make up the parliament. It works out to be a fair bit more complicated than the British system. In the vote, you vote for both a local candidate and a party. If your local candidate wins the local vote, he/she gets a seat in parliament. However, if your candidate loses the local vote, they can still get into parliament via the "party list". The party list is a list in ranked order of the most important or senior members of a political party. If the party gets over 5% of the vote, the four highest ranked candidates in the party list (who did not win their local seat) get selected into parliament. The number of people selected from the list grows as your percentage of the party vote increases. Anyway, we placed our vote at the local primary school and then watched the election coverage (no swingometer, sadly) and the incumbent Labour coalition government was voted out and replaced by a National coalition government.

During the year, Andy's knee had improved markedly from the operation he'd had the previous July and thus was able to play a bit more sport. This meant not only continuing to play indoor cricket and soccer and outdoor cricket, but also led to a few games of Australian Rules Football in the late spring and early summer.

For Jenny, in April she gained a promotion at work which meant she'd entered the realm of management and had a small team of graduates to look after. With the extra responsibility came an increase in the workload which occasionally meant a few extra hours work. Also, Jenny continued to play netball for the SMOG team she'd joined the year before. A fairly successful season was enjoyed by her team and so Jenny also started to play indoor mixed netball for her office team. The indoor netball team successfully won their league in their first season and came a very close runner up in their second.

Jenny's office has provided a regular sources of entertainment, regularly putting on evenings to enjoy a drink or two and also putting on a black tie ball in mid winter. One of the other events that was arranged by some of the graduate team at her office was a ski trip to Mount Ruapehu. We both went along and stayed up in Ohakune hoping to get on the slopes and try a little skiing. For Andy, this would have been the first time he'd skied. However, the weather was not with us and so it proved too windy at the top of the mountain to really have a go. A couple of snowballs later, we headed back down the mountain and drove around Ruapehu to go white water rafting in Turangi instead. Whilst the weather was far from pleasant for rafting, it did provide a vastly different experience from the usual rafting. Six of us hardy souls crammed into a raft and raced down river with rain lashing in our faces and the river washing up round our necks. Still bloody good fun though.

After enjoying the event in 2007, we decided to go along to Toast Martinborough again; once again thanks to Jenny's work who'd laid on transport for the occasion. The weather forecast wasn't looking too great, but once again Martinborough came up trumps with a lovely sunny day and a pleasant breeze. A few nice wines were imbibed and some great food consumed all whilst sitting in the sun and watching some entertaining live music. Great fun, you should attend if you ever get the chance.

One other big change that happened during the year was that we found a partner for our little parrot, Lara. After a fair bit of searching on-line to find her a viable partner we eventually tracked down a breeder in Levin whose conures had just laid a few eggs and were ready to hatch. After waiting a couple of months for the youngster to be weened onto solid foods, we made the drive up the Kapiti Coast to collect him. The breeder had a lovely setup with aviaries packed with Galahs and large Eclectus parrots as well as the little conures. We brought our new family member home and introduced him to Lara. We called the new addition Ambrose. Yes, it was a name we'd already used for our abortive pair of Lovebirds, but we thought it was suitable. Sadly, as yet the two parrots don't see the attraction in each other and are more likely to attack each other than snuggle up close. It does mean that Lara has some company when we're out of the house, so hopefully it improves their wellbeing somewhat.

We've been up to plenty of other stuff as well, most of which you can find documented on this website in one spot or another. This includes details of Andy's cricket tour to Brisbane, our adventures kayaking down the Whanganui River and a week long holiday in Vanuatu.
Looking for an amusing caption? Look elsewhere. Messam? He's my boy!
Top Left: From the ski trip to Mount Ruapehu / Ohakune. This is the view at the top of the mountain. The weather had set in somewhat with a pretty nasty cold wind. Given our inexperience, we decided that discretion is the better part of valour and went off to do something else. The really strange thing is that only a couple of weeks later, there was a swimwear ski festival up here where people were taking to the slopes in bikinis and speedos. Crazy!
Top Right: Another view from the top of Ruapehu with Jenny looking pleased to be up above the snow line.
Right: Lara (lower branch) and Ambrose (sitting on the top) sitting on their play gym. Interestingly, the two of them will only sit nicely on the play gym if they're both on it. Ambrose will fly off immediately if he's alone on the playgym. More annoyingly, they refuse to share the same branch and will attack each other with wings outstretched and beaks open if placed too close to each other.
Bottom Left: Ambrose giving a close up. So far, he has learned how to say "Hello" and when he scratches his head it looks like he's having a chat on his mobile phone.
Bottom Right: The rafting crew before setting out on the river at Turangi. From left to right, Ben, Greg, Ryan, Andy and Jenny. Nicole is in the front row. 
I prefer Callum Bruce