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Well, last day in work today, well the Administration job at any rate.. pretty interesting one as they go – conducting reference checks and stuff..

The interesting stuff though was that head office (Auckland) is migrating all the system over to Exchange 2003 so mail has been totally messed up, coupled to that they want to set up a VPN, so looks like there is a fairly good chance I will get some contract work out of it (at contract rates too I hope ;)

Start work tomorrow in a government call center.. should be a whole lot less pressured.. there’s no targets, no deadlines, just do as much as you can in the time given, and will get 15 min breaks too I guess (thank God for bureaucracies I guess!) So quite looking forward to that.

Kite surfing lessons this weekend – Billy Connolly is in town too, was fairly tempted to get tickets again! but they were re-sold out (he put on an extra show).

Got killed at squash by Thor! dunno what happened :)

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So.. Friday was Waitangi day – which celebrates? Commemorates? When the English gained control of the NZ by offering the Maori citizenship in return for relinquishing their sovereignty.. (on 5th Feb 1840).

But of course, what’s really important is that we get a Bank Holiday :) So off to Nelson to visit Kirsten (who is the 1st cousin of my 1st cousins husband – and the 1st cousin of Jonathan Carr who we went canyoning with..) easy right?

So off to Nelson, lovely drive up.. well I was asleep for most of it after being out at karaoke with Rachel and Nate the night before! Got up and into our hostel – the Green Monkey.. and then headed into the town to get our bearings and meet up with Kirsten – which we duly did at 6pm in the pub, though were only drinking refreshing lime and bitters..

Off to an *excellent* (dingy looking) Thai place – forget the name.. has tables for 6 people! but does take out too. Great food though – was recommended by one of the people in the hostel.

Nice long walk along golden beaches (have got to get back up and do the Abel Tasman walk…) and then an early night.

Sat – checked out the market – bought my PolyPros.. basically thermal underwear that all kiwis wear when hiking… it looks odd, but seems to work. Always very bright stripy colours, pics to follow eventually!

Off to the trailhead then, the AA sign at the start said ‘1 in 5 grade, experienced drivers only’. I was more worried whether the car would make it up..

Here’s a pic

But it did, though I didn’t find that ‘Cars coming down the hill should give way’ was in operation much..

The hike to the hut that we were staying in was through more beautiful beach forest

Seeing as I had my backcountry pass ($65) the hut was free for the night – it’s a really excellent card that one – you can use any hut in the country for free (except for ones on the Milford Track and the other great walks..) Met a guy called Bob there – (Bob Negryn) – a photographer, infact if anyone is in Dublin and feels like dropping in, a couple of his pics are on display in The Royal Hibernian Gallery – 2 Ely place.. might be worth a look!

A pretty cool evening, polished off the wine, which was great, and then a moonrise

Oh, met a bloke wot works for DOC (Dept. of Conservation) pretty interesting guy. I was asking him were the stoat traps…

…making any difference. Not much was the answer. They want to spray these pellets – called 1080, but they kill off all the nasties (Stoats, Possums) and deer.. and there’s a pretty strong hunting lobby. But apparently a huge amount of wildlife and fauna is slowly being taken over by imported animals..

Off early the next morning, and a long drive (via more excellent fresh tomatoes and stuff) home. Had a horrible scare driving home.. I will have to chalk it up to experience.. back luck to even get into the situation, but flying home, came to a “FORD!” sign.. so a ford.. should have guessed it would have water in it (place is so dry at the moment) but it looked more like a humpback bridge was the real danger, anyway, as luck? would have it, at exactly the moment I went through it, a huge articulated lorry did too, completely covered the windscreen in mud.. couldn’t’ see a damn thing with a huge amount of oncoming traffic. I’m not at all proud of getting into the situation in the first place, but am glad to have got through it unscathed… but if anyone is passing through Fords again.. I would recommend putting on your windscreen wipers preemptively ….

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Yay! A much better day – in fact, an excellent day. So off to work – Wynnis – the company director was down for the day, a very lively lady altogether!.. But the best thing was that Julie (who has now attained super-hero status) found me a job in a sorta customer service government call center. Ok ok it’s not perfect… but it’s NOT SALES which is great. And no KPIs (Key Performance Indicators – see I know all the lingo now)

The great thing is that it’s for two months, which will bring me to Mid April.. which is when our lease here runs out.. And I am thinking of heading to Queenstown probably (I’m also maybe going to angle for contract work in Oz with my old company.. but I kinda doubt I will be able to pull that one off.. never know though) But yeah – so if all goes according to plan – get two or three (or four if no contract work happens) months in the cruisey call center job, then three months for the ski season… then maybe go WWOOF ing for a month or two.. and then start travelling… very loose plans, very much subject to change at any time.. but still, you have no idea what a relief it is to have work again..

Looks like I will also get some extra work when they (madison – the company I’m working with at the mo) move office.. setting up their VPN (Virtual Private Network ;) It was kinda funny – Wynnis asked me today if I knew what VPN stood for.. when I did she then said that maybe I could help set it up.. will have to angle for more money for that skilled work :D

Hehee, so that was great – and then also Nathan and Rachel – my two cousins – were back for their final night after a year and a half abroad – before heading back to the US/Canada.. and they took me out for dinner (bday present) and then we went to my auld favorite dingy dive (though full of character and cheap drinks) the Chancery.. were we karaokied the night away .. Rachel ending with the very apt ‘Leaving on a Jet plane’ If anyone comes to ChCh it’s a must see honestly ;)

And off to Nelson tomorrow (bank holiday here on the friday!)

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So I was right on Thursday when I said I thought I’d just felt an Earthquake.. I had. Just a wee one, had a bigger one when I was in San Francisco which was 4. something. I think.

Life this week has been.. jinxed I think. Bike decided to die on tuesday cycling into work .. The bloke wot works in the bike shoppe said it might need replacing ($120) I said not to bother if that was the case!! – in the end it was $25.. does all add up though.

And today there’s the new potential consultant working in the office.. which is, frankly – good for them and bad for me.. I’m still trying to sort out new computer / any old work, but it is taking time, hopefully I still have my current job for another week or two, that would see me right for a month or so! Why the Kiwis don’t want to give me a well paid easy job I can’t understand (they have a fairly (un) healthy work ethic over here….

Squash is going well.. had another league match, and won again, so that was nice!

Oh, just incase anyone is interested, there are some pretty cool videos from moveon.org here

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After getting back from work – Glynn and I headed off to the West Coast.. to Greymouth – the weather was supposed to be pretty nasty for the weekend, but still wanted to head out of town.

The drive up through Arthurs pass was pretty spectacular – the bit that freaked us out (besides Glynns’ first Road Kill – Possum we reckon) was the Train-Bridge..

We crossed this at about 11pm – pretty dark, and it was just a little worrying.. as the trains are kinda big (but I guess they move pretty slowly) – just had visions of being 1/2 way across and having to get speedily into reverse :)

The hostel we were staying in I would be glad to recommend – twas the ‘Global Village BBH’ … the place was covered in souvenirs from different trips the owner had taken – mostly through Africa and Asia. Really nicely done though.

Pretty funny coincidence – was sitting down playing scrabble with Glynn (by the way Qi is a bloody useful little word.. meaning ‘An Individuals life force’ ) – but heard a laugh I recognised.. it was Jorg – who we had met in Waitomo just after Christmas.. his Bike needed repairs (a new chain) so he was working in the hostel.

How he came to be working in the hostel is an even better story.. Jorg has been motorbiking all around the world – well some of it anyway. Well Australia at least ;) and while he was there chilling out by a beach or something, the owner of the hostel was passing – saw the bike – thought ‘here’s a pretty interesting traveller’ – and left his hostel/business card on the bike – saying ‘do drop in’. A year? later – Jorg arrives in the hostel. Pretty cool. (esp. when you need to get your bike fixed up and to earn a little cash when you don’t have the working visa….)

So yeah – next day it was off to the pancake rocks .. they were pretty cool, the only thing was that it wasn’t high tide and stormy, so the blow holes that are here weren’t visible.

After that it was off to ‘The Longest Swing Bridge in New Zealand’

There’s actually someone taking an Arial Runway back across – $25.. for 30 secs.

This was the complete and utter non-highlight of the weekend. I would not suggest going, it was set at the site of the 19somethingorother earthquake.. and there was supposed to be a walk around pointing out various sites.. but it was very badly laid out. Most unimpressed.

We saw this sign:

So decided to head and see it. We think we did.. there certainly was a big tree (or two) but again, it wasn’t obvious.. Ahh well, the drive to and from the gorge was excellent – very scenic altogether – te be sure te be sure.

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Then today – Sunday – headed home early ish as it was raining kinda hard….

Not really looking forward to this week (in work) have Dire Forebodings about looming unemployment.. the Director is coming down on Friday – and she would only do that to interview the new consultant. And new consultant != Patrick :) hehee, ahh well… am 1/2 thinking of heading off hitching to Queenstown or something, esp if no other work comes through.. could be an adventure.

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