Index The Leaving Do Living in Wellington Cricket Excursions Other 2 Weeks in A Leaky Van Australia Indoor Blogs Interviews Updates Guestbook
April - September 2009

It was a very busy Winter that we had in 2009.

Most of our spare time on the weekends was taken up house-hunting, being guided around open homes in the Lower Hutt area by insidious estate agents. I have to confess that the whole idea of spending your Sunday driving around looking at other people's homes; most of which you can't stand or can't afford is pretty annoying and exhausting. My "favourite" house hunting experience was a house that was up for mid-$400,000s, which it turned out that the vendor was unwilling to even consider an offer less than $470,000. Personally, I'd call that high-$400,000s. I was far from impressed with that particular agent, and refused to even visit any other open homes she had on offer as I couldn't trust the accuracy of her adverts. More on the house hunting later.

So, what did we get up to over the Winter?

As always, we've tried to maximise the amount of trips and journeys we've done around New Zealand. During these months, we've visited Arthur's Pass in the South Island high country, St. Arnaud in the South Island around the Nelson Lakes and taken a trip up beyond Auckland to the Far North. Also during this time, Andy has been on tour to Sydney with his work cricket team and been on a trip around the central North Island watching some games of provincial rugby at New Plymouth, Te Kuiti and Hamilton while Jen stayed a bit closer to home and went to the Beervana real ale festival in Wellington.

Andy managed to find a football team to play for over the winter. The subtlety of the team's name, the Upper Hutt Spackos is lost on most people, but thankfully not much publicity is made about how a team in Wellington Division Fifteen fares. The standard of football in Wellington Division Fifteen is best described as variable. Some weeks, the quality was extremely poor whilst on occasions it nearly got up to mediocre. The conditions played in could contrast significantly from week to week. On one occasion having to play in the face of a strong Southerly and torrential rain at our home ground of Awaikairangi Park whilst other weeks we weren't allowed to take to the field on brilliantly sunny days as rain on the Friday night had caused local councils to close the grounds. This was incredibly frustrating.

The season started very poorly for the Upper Hutt Spackos with a far from amusing number of 3 - 2 losses. Given the apparent number of personnel 
changes from the prior season, a lack of knowledge of each other - coupled with the complete absence of any training - was probably the key issue with our early season form. Once we got things together in the mid-season, we started to string together a decent run of results; including some good performances against a high-flying Western Suburbs team. An interesting game against the Karori Stevedores arrived around the same time, where Andy and his mate Andrew Swan lined up in opposition against Stuart Duggan. With all of three working together in the Racing Industry and having played cricket for the same team in the cricket season, a certain amount of spice was added to the mix in these encounters. Stu's team had the better of the first two encounters that the Spackos had with the Stevedores, but we would come back with a crucial victory over them towards the tail end of the season.

The strange format that Wellington club football takes meant that the League season was over by the time that the Cup kicks off. The Spackos finished 6th out of 8, narrowly avoiding relegation but had hit form in the last few games meaning confidence was high entering the Cup competition.

In the first match, a backs against the wall 1 - 0 win over the Stevedores was a very gratifying victory. This was followed by a victory away over Western Suburbs which guaranteed the Spackos a place in the Cup Final. This match was to be played away against Wainuiomata and to demonstrate how seriously this was being taken, there was a referee, corner flags and the opposition were properly warming up in advance of kick off. In the meantime, the Spackos were preparing with their usual routine of deep heat, vaseline and 10 minutes of hoofing the ball at the goal.

The game was tough with the Spackos goalie, Peter Hicks under constant pressure during which time he pulled off a string of saves; including a stunning dive at full length to tip a shot round the right hand post. At the attacking end, chances were rare but the livewire Spackos winger, Pete the Russia
n (his surname is something along the lines of Tchernagovsky) slotted one away with a cracking shot from a tight angle. The second half became increasingly physical with the Wainuiomata team giving away a number of free kicks with increasingly desperate sliding tackles. The Spackos scored a second goal on the counter-attack with only a few minutes left on the clock. So, a 2 - 0 win to the Spackos saw them walk home with the silverware.

Jenny played her third season of netball over the winter, this time making a step up to a higher grade (Prem Reserve 2 after playing in Senior 2 last year). Her team had a disappointing season and bar the pre-season tournament, did not win a game, ending the season in Prem Reserve 4. Jenny got a few opportunities to play in different positions, however. At various points in the season, and sometimes various points in the same game she took the court as Wing Defence, Goal Defence and Goal Keeper.

Back in April Jenny was coerced into taking part in the Cure Kids Great Adventure Race in the Hunua Ranges, just south of Auckland.  Cure Kids is a fantastic New Zealand charity that is involved in medical research and support for children with wide variety of diseases and disabilities and their families.  One of Jenny's colleagues, Brendon had ridden the length of New Zealand earlier in the year to raise funds for the charity, and having raised so much was given a highly sought after place in the Adventure Race (teams usually need to raise a minimum of $8,000 to enter).  This place was only confirmed a few weeks out from the event itself, so a team was hurriedly cobbled together, the only rule being that at least one member of the 4 person team had to be of the opposite sex, so Jen was in.  The race itself was a mixture of running, trekking, mountain biking, orienteering and swimming and supposed to take between 5 and 8 hours.  Most of the teams taking part had been training together (and of course fundraising) for months and there had been training days organised up in the ranges to give competitors an idea of the terrain.  Being down in Wellington, the KPMG team hadn't been able to attend these training days or any of the pre-race briefings, and were frankly a little unprepared when they turned up at the start at 6am on the morning of the race.  

The team managed to borrow one of the organiser's son's and his mate to act as support crew and handed them a stash of bananas, honey & peanut butter sa
ndwiches and energy drinks as they set off for what Jen has since described as one of the toughest 9 hours of her life.  Some map reading errors (naming no names - but it wasn't the girl in the team who couldn't read a map!) resulted in the team covering a bit more ground than strictly necessary, but the team eventually made it through all of the required checkpoints without any blood, tears (ok, so I came quite close -  eternally grateful to Brendon & Tim for saving the day - J) or major arguments.  There were a lot of scratches, bruises and cramping though.  The results sheet shows that the KPMG team came in last place, however there were four teams disqualified for not completing all checkpoints.  Considering the lack of preparation and training, and the extra distance covered the team were just pleased to have made it to the end.

Another interesting event that we took part in was the Butterfly Creek Night-time run. This event starts at the coastal township of Eastbourne at the local school and takes you up into to the top of the hills that stand behind Eastbourne. You then follow the ridge line to Butterfly Creek where you turn and head back down the hills to the finish line, a total distance of 8km.  All entrants must be in pairs (so no-one gets los
t in the bush in the dark by themselves) and each pair can either enter as runners or walkers; we entered in the mixed pairs walking competition. So, we set off from the school wearing head torches and warm clothes and started a brisk walk. The track up the hills was narrow and we were constantly held up by much slower walkers. However, nothing was quite as annoying as the pair who barged past us jogging and then decided to slow down to a medium paced walk and would not move back over to let us past. Eventually, we elbowed them out of the way and continued on our way. We finished in 1 hour 43 minutes, 3rd pair overall, and 2nd mixed pair though in all honesty we finished about 15 minutes behind the winners. Still, we were very happy with the result given the hold ups and the complete lack of preparation we made for the event.

So, back to the house hunt and by the time we found somewhere that we were interested in buying at a price that the vendor was interested in selling, we'd been looking on and off for round about a year. The place is ideally situated near to the railway station in Petone (about five minutes walk). The decor is pretty atrocious though. One bedroom is painted a deep purple colour, with the cupboard doors being in a lime green. An
other bedroom is painted in sky blue, but with a rainbow painted garishly on one wall. The lounge is in a kind of grey colour, as is the hallway and the final bedroom is a very pale blue, but with purple wardrobe doors. So, we've got plenty of decorating ahead of us. Another unique feature of the house was the fact that the previous owners had never finished kitting out the laundry so the interior walls hadn't been fitted and none of the room had been plastered or painted. So, we've had a very busy start to home ownership. With a bit of luck, we might be ready to accept visitors sometime in November... Maybe.

Looking for an amusing caption? Look elsewhere. Messam? He's my boy!
Top Left: The rest of Jenny's team pause for a look at the map and a photo opportunity during the CureKids Adventure Race, in the wilds just South of Auckland.
Top Right: Jenny in action playing netball.
Right: The moon through a ring of clouds; the picture taken from the front lawn of our old house on Byron Street.
Bottom Left: Ambrose the Conure looking rather sheepish after having nipped through a blood-feather and having a collar put round his neck to stop him nicking any more blood-feathers. Who's a Silly Boy then?
Bottom Right: A photo taken from the top of a the tall rock on Piha Beach during our trip up to Northland.
I prefer Callum Bruce