In Which We Play Hobbit

Last week was the first we rented a car and did some proper driving on the left side of the road. For the first day, we headed over the hills, to the Picton area. Daniel did a fabulous job maneuvering the hairpin curves, steep bends and slopes of the road, all while sitting where I normally sit when we go on car rides. ;) The only continual mishap is the mistake of turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals.

I was rather unprepared for the amount of pine trees along the drive. There are plenty covering the hills (these aren’t mountains, according to locals) and logging can make some hilltops looks like a man’s shaved head. Wherever they stop logging, the pine trees suddenly spring up and look like a mohawk.

The first stop of the day was at Pelorus River, right at the bridge where the recent Hobbit movie filmed the “dwarves in barrels” scene.

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There were no barrels handy to amuse ourselves with, so we skipped rocks instead. Since I’m the manager of this blog, I get to select which pictures make the cut for each post, and the ones of me skipping rocks did not make it. Daniel by far, won the best-skipping-rocks-award for the day. And Natasha, the best plunk-a-rock-and-make-it-splash award. I came somewhere in the middle.

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We Have Transportation

 Daniel found a bike for himself first…

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Then we added a trailer for the wee one in our family who was completely worn out with walking.

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Finally, a proper bike was procured for myself. (I’m so pleased there’s a sign here dedicated to keeping Aunties safe.) I, in particular, need all the help I can get. See next picture for the reason why.

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This has become my mantra. As I wrote home, if you think round-abouts are tricky in the States, try it on a bike. In a country where everyone is going the opposite direction. Those left-hand turns in the states where a green arrow is so nice, are the opposite here; it’s the RIGHT hand turns to fret over. I’m still working on getting it in my mind that you’re to look right first when walking, keep to the left when walking on the sidewalk, and of course drive on the left. So I appreciate little reminders like this, directly in front of my front bicycle tire. Oh, excuse me, tyre.

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There is a nice bike bath on the edge of town with this view on one side, and the bay of the Pacific ocean on the other.

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One nice thing about not only New Zealand, but Germany as well, is the lack of stop signs. You just give way, give way, give way and it’s really handy. Especially in neighborhoods where a complete stop is kind of silly at every intersection. I tell you, the USA goes a little overboard with their stop signs.

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 On this particular outing, we had just been to the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in town. We have gone every Saturday so far, and the best buy we’ve found are the apples for $3.50 per 2 kilos.

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Helmets are required for all cyclists down here, even those who ride in a little trailer. Of course, this little passenger had to have a pink one. Fortunately the second-hand store had one her size, with flowers. Bonus!

 

First Saturday in Nelson

:: Breakfast in the sunshine ::

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:: Trial class at the Gym for Preschoolers ::
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:: Almond-Date Tart at the Farmer’s Market downtown ::
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:: Poppies on our walk home ::
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:: Did I mention that it can be really long walk at times? ::

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:: Spying our house from a distance ::
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:: Our street ::
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:: Home ::

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:: The moon coming up over the mountain behind the house ::

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In Which We Arrive and Settle In

Things started out well in Sydney, waiting to get to New Zealand. We had one flight to Auckland, then one final short one to Nelson. We waited happily, and then, continued to wait as our flight got delayed 3 times. That was about 2 times too many, but we were hopeful that we would still make the flight to Nelson.

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Oh my, was this girlie tired. Not with jet lag, but simply lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of…being in a house? She was beginning to reach the breaking point of traveling. Nothing was going right and to make matters worse, her ears began bothering her at every landing.

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So we arrived in Auckland, but not soon enough. We rushed through customs and hurried as fast as we could all the way across parking lots following the green line to the domestic terminal, but alas. We missed our flight. But my ever persevering husband did not give up and burst into tears like Natasha was doing, or like his wife felt like doing. He determined taking a bus or renting a car was still not not as sensible as buying new tickets, so after doing just that, he rallied his troops with some takeaway (not “to-go” as we say) and off we went.

I think we had the last 3 seats available on this flight, and it placed Daniel with Natasha in the very back against the wall, and me a couple rows in front. While I was able to spend the 2ish hours getting to know more about New Zealand from my row companion (a gentleman who told me he works out of Auckland and has a boring job: An international pilot), Daniel struggled almost the entire flight with an very unruly and sleep-deprived, screaming and kicking 4 year old.

But we finally arrived in Nelson, New Zealand, our new home for the next three months. It was just like the movies, stepping off the plane and down the open stairs on the tarmac and meeting Nelson in the windy, dark night. I’m sure we looked a little ragged, but the pilot who I sat beside on the plane was all too kind and still offered us a ride to our new home.

(By the way, neither he, nor our landlady who greeted us, could believe what we carried was all our luggage. Can you tell I’m still a wee bit pleased about not over-packing?)

The next morning, things were looking much, much brighter.

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We spent the day doing absolutely nothing but finding food for our fridge (huge matter of importance), e-mailing home, trying out the trampoline, watching the goats watch us, and enjoying the view from our deck.

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The house is ideal, with little amenities that I am thrilled to have. Like, Natasha can reach the bathroom sink to wash her hands without a stool. The kitchen is well stocked, even with a muffin tin and a french press. It’s a bright sunny house, with windows everywhere, so it’s not dark at all. We have our very own washing machine and clothesline, which is *really* wonderful. (Those of you who know the story of me washing cloth diapers in Panama will understand my genuine happiness about that.) Natasha has her own room, and our landlord was kind enough to add some children’s books and stuffed animals for her to play with. There’s a “BBQ” on the deck for us to use, and of course, the previously seen trampoline. And, there’s even a full length mirror. That might seem very trivial, but it’s nice to know what you look like before dashing out the door.

I think we’re going to like it here. :)