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zummerzet_lou

1 year later ...

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by , 02-09-2009 at 04:58 PM (17892 Views)
Well, Im feeling more than a little nostalgic as I have just dropped my Dad off at the airport for him to return to England after spending the last couple of weeks with us. Whilst we have had a wonderful time with him, the time has flown by far too quickly and has made us realise how much we miss having our family close to us. I know that Dad enjoyed his stay here, and Im already looking forward to catching up with him next year when I hope to travel back to the UK with James and Lauren.

Whilst Dad was staying, we also celebrated our years anniversary of arrival to New Zealand. On one hand it feels like we have not long arrived, and yet on the other hand, it feels as though we have lived here forever.

I still have vivid memories of those goodbyes that we made the day before left our rental cottage in Christchurch. All those tears and sad faces still haunt me, and will quite often bring a tear to my eye even now.

That said, we have had some wonderful experiences in just the short time that we have been here. James and Lauren have both settled fantastically into the local primary school and Kindergarten.

Work
I tried to secure a job offer prior to emigrating, but it just wasnt to be. Most employers wanted a firm date when I could start, and in addition, wanted to do a face-to-face interview. As we didnt have a job offer to head to, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and head to the place that had the most pull for us, Christchurch. Turns out, that this was just meant to be, as within 3 days of being in New Zealand I had an offer of a job and a start date of only a couple of weeks away! Alas, our plans of a leisurely explore of our new country had to be put aside, but it was such a huge relief to have a job.
Im still working for the same company, and celebrated being here for 1 year yesterday. It is a company unlike any others I have worked for. Its true to say they expect their pound of flesh, in return for my monthly pay check, but they do value their employees. I have a fantastic boss, and all my colleagues are friendly and cannot do enough to help. Whilst the atmosphere and even the work are good, I am working longer hours than when we were in the UK, for about the same money. We just need to decide now what are longer term goals are now we have no mortgage, so I dont actually need to work full-time but we may decide to buy a second property as an investment? Youll have to wait for the 2 year blog!

School
James has now nearly completed 2 terms at his Primary School. Its taken a little while, but hes now made a few friends and is enjoying school. Each night he comes home with a reading book, and once a week he has a few words that he has to learn to write, and a few additions to be added to the pile of flash cards. Schooling here seems to have a very different emphasis than in the UK. Children are given a lot more responsibility, and Im convinced that this makes Kiwi children a lot more self-assured. School itself is different English schools are sadly usually housed within a locked fence during school hours. James school is open no fences, and certainly no locked gates. Anybody can walk onto the school grounds at any time and are in fact, encouraged to do so. In a similar vein, the children could come and go as they pleased but they dont as they are told their boundaries, and surprisingly they all take heed. The school has an open school assembly each Wednesday morning, and anyone can join the pupils in the hall and see what goes on. Likewise, you can walk around the school and peer into the classrooms during lessons. Having always had secure schools it took Jon and myself several weeks to feel that James was safe at school and finally we have accepted that its OK for the school to be so open.

Leisure
During the winter months, leisure took a bit of a dip. In having said that, the NZ winters are not that comparable to those in England. Whilst it does get cold overnight, on clear days it still reaches warm temperatures, and we have had only a small amount of rainfall so on the weekends we have still been able to visit local attractions. We currently have 3 annual passes for tourist attractions: Willowbank, The Gondola and now Orana Zoo. It costs about twice the amount for a single visit, and are able to return anytime over 2 month period. Willowbank is Laurens favourite place to visit, whilst James loves going on the Gondola. Jon, since settling in Canterbury has finally taken up Archery. Since doing a beginners course, hes joined a local club and shoots every Saturday (which leaves the day free for me and the kids to do whatever takes our fancy!). Turns out hes rather good with a bow and arrow, and whereas in England he always wanted to nip out to the local pub, instead he now always wants to go to the Archery Club!
We are gradually exploring the local areas and are truly in love with the beaches, and the Port Hills area. As yet, we havent tried our hands at skiing, but are hopeful of getting to the ski slopes next winter. After a year, I am finally getting back into cycling. I have decided to enter a local duathlon which happens to be on my birthday, and hope to take part in more events over the coming months.

Was it what we expected?
It is quite hard to remember what are expectations were. We came out to New Zealand for a number of reasons the first was a better childhood for James and Lauren. It is true that children seem to stay children here for longer. They can maintain their naivety, there is no pressure to look or act a certain way, and there is definitely more opportunities for them outdoors.
The second reason housing. Some of you may remember our house in Christchurch. I loved it, but probably in the same way you love your first car because it was the first. In hindsight it was small, and the garden was teeny. Despite its stature it was accompanied by a sizable mortgage which meant I HAD to work full time, and felt like a large, heavy millstone. Even worse, had we stayed wed had needed a 3 bedroom house, which would have meant a greater mortgage.
So, we came to New Zealand and had planned on getting a reasonable house, on a huge plot, with possibly some outbuildings or potential for outbuildings for a yoga-come-flute studio. Turns out, that for a plot that size, would have meant another hefty mortgage and at the time we decided that was not for us. Instead we have a pretty 4 bed house, with a reasonably sized family garden. Compared to our old house it is enormous, but Im surprised at how quickly we have filled it.
The third reason crime. This wasnt really high on our agenda as reasons for the move, but it was certainly of some influence. I remember sitting at my desk, reading a copy of the Sun over my lunch break. Each and every page contained stories that almost brought tears to my eyes muggings, stabbings, murders. When you have that in your face on a daily occurrence it becomes the norm, and another report of a murder barely gets your attention. Whilst New Zealand still has crime, has a drug and alcohol problem it hardly compares to that in the UK at least, not to Joe public like myself. There have been murders here but the difference is that there are so few that each and everyone is reported. There are thefts, burglaries, car crimes. However, very few of those are aggravated. Also the police usually catch the criminals. So yes, whilst there is crime here, it is much less than home.

So, finally I have to say that we are happy with our lives in New Zealand. We are gradually making friends, but of course, dearly miss those friends and family that we left behind. In fact, that is the only regret with have that our dear friends and family are so far away.

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Comments

  1. MotherBear's Avatar
    Oh Lou, I missed this when you posted it and have only just found it. I usually check out the blog area in the hope someone has posted a new one but this didn't pop up until today.

    It's such a great blog that it's a pity you didn't put it on the main forum because it's a wonderful read for those both about to make the move and those already in NZ. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

    Glad to hear that things are going well for you and everyone has settled. With a bit of luck, there will be more visitors from the UK for you to look forward to.
  2. francis1962's Avatar
    Hi Lou, appreciate reading your reflections on a year in NZ
    As hoped for the ups appear to outweigh the downs
    Loved Christchurch when we were there

    Francis
  3. Welshgirl's Avatar
    Hey Lou, fab post I know what you mean about family and friends though Still, seems like, that aside, you are well and truly settled, like you say though, just a shame we don't live closer

    Here's to many more happy years in NZ for all the Clarks

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