Monthly Archives: April 2015

Our Morning Walk

After eating breakfast, Morgan likes to take a walk outside.  So we put on our shoes, head out the door and then up towards the field.  On the left you can see Taidi’s big barn and on the right behind behind the pile of fence posts you’ll see the chicken coop.

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If there are no chickens around, Morgan hangs a left into the barn to inspect the Land Rover, concentrating mostly on the dirtiest elements.

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We then carry on towards Nana and Taidi’s backyard on the little stone path.  At this juncture, Morgy bends down and gathers as many small stones as he can.  You will find out why in a moment but first we must terrorise some chickens.

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Right.  With that job done, we carry on to the furthest corner of the garden where we will begin our daily set of complicated scientific experiments.  First we are testing Newton’s law of universal gravitation in this large glass jar.  Tick.

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In this ceramic jar over here, we contemplate the early theories on matter.  Morgy is currently formulating his thoughts on Plato’s Theory of Forms one stone at a time.  Specifically he is grappling with “how can one thing in general be many things in particular?”.  Good thing there are at least a million small pebbles in this garden!

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This jar also conveniently has water in the bottom of it so we can test Archimedes’ Principle.  Morgy is especially interested in Archimedes’ application of the Method of Exhaustion and was mulling it over at 4AM this morning in his cot at the top of his lungs.

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Just in case that ceramic jar was spoiling the results, we tested displacement again in this metal watering can.

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Ever the skeptic, Morgy decided to test another interesting hypothesis: Does the taste of the stone impact the size of the splash?

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Eureka!  Tastier stones make a bigger splash.  Moving on to some place new all together…

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At the top we have discovered a very interesting hole in one of the planks, which will again aid in our gravitational experiments.  But wait!  I think I can hear a broom broom!

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Quick Mom!  Enough of these silly experiments.  I want to go with Daddy and Taidi in the Land Rover to see the other field.

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And off he went!

 

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North Pembrokeshire Favourites

Although I miss New Zealand for a whole bunch of reasons, I can’t complain about the lack of natural beauty in my immediate surroundings.  As it turns out, my husband was raised within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and, well, it’s bloody gorgeous out here!  I always knew I had married a landscape snob but it’s only recently that I’ve truly come to understand why he has such a strong attachment to this part of Wales.

Let me share a few of my favourite places with you, if only to encourage visitors ASAP!!  We’ll start with Cwm-yr-Eglwys (pardon the Welsh!), a nice little beach about a mile’s walk from our house.  You can see Morgan and me by the only bit of the church remaining after a storm washed away the rest in the early 1850s.

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Something we really missed when we were in New Zealand were old buildings.  I don’t know why we love weathered stone so much but we do.  So we’re visiting plenty of castles and other historical buildings.  This one is called Cilgerran Castle which was inhabited in the 13th century or thereabouts.  We loved wandering around the grounds which are just tucked away in a tiny village outside of Cardigan.

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If you’re not into castles, there’s an Iron Age fort down the road called Castell Henllys (don’t be fooled by this apparently innocuous spelling — the double ‘ll’ in Welsh is actually a “chlah” type noise made by curving the tongue up towards the roof of the mouth while simultaneously breathing and spitting in the back of your throat… yummy!).  Check out these round houses…  one can’t help but wonder how on earth humanity survived through the cold winters in these sorts of dwellings.  I definitely would have frozen to death.

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We had a great day out in December in St. Davids, where you can see one of my favourite cathedrals of all time.  Why?  Because it feels like a mini-cathedral to me.  It’s got all the stained glass windows and the high ceilings of your normal gigantic cathedrals but it still retains a cozy, intimate feel inside somehow.  Not too big and not too small if you catch my drift.

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Now onto the natural beauty … to the Coast Path everyone!

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The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is about 186 miles long and offers spectacular coastal views.  Plenty of rugged cliffs and pristine water.  If you’re lucky you can spot some seals or maybe even some dolphins, and there’s plenty of bird life as well.  We’re yet to visit some of the offshore islands, most of which are nature reserves like the ones in New Zealand.  Aled took us to the Lifeboat (RNLI) Station at St. Justinians which is also where you can catch a boat to Ramsey Island.

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I haven’t yet been to a stretch of the Coast Path that I didn’t like, but there are some extra special views, such as here at Aber Mawr…

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…which also happens to be Aled’s favourite surf beach of all time.  Yes, my husband was surfing in March.  Don’t worry, thanks to the Gulf Stream the water was still a balmy 10C!!

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You may be wondering how on earth we’ve taken all these pictures with such blue skies in the background.  We are supposedly in one of the rainiest countries ever (right before Scotland).  Don’t get me wrong, there have been rainy and cloudy days here in Wales… but there have also been plenty of sunny ones so we’ve just done our best to get out on the nice ones.  For us a big difference compared with Wellington is the lack of consistent, strong wind here.  Look how still it was on Easter day…

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That’s me and Morgy on the Dinas Head walk.  It was so pleasantly calm.  And warm.  This is what Dinas Head (or Dinas Island as it’s also known… even though it’s not an island… but never mind!) looks like from on top of Dinas Mountain:

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Again this blogging is exhausting me and there are so many beautiful spots in North Pembs that I just can’t fit them all in this post.  I will end with a warm and fuzzy photo from the springtime in Wales.

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Aren’t they just delicious!??!  Whoops I meant gorgeous!

Fighting the good fight

Last night we went out for a really lovely meal at Cnapan, a nice restaurant down the road in Newport.  We were celebrating my most recent victory over the evil forces of bureaucracy, namely, passing my practical driving test.  I’ve been driving for seventeen years by now (oh god I’m getting old!) but the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) wouldn’t exchange my NZ license for a GB license because it was originally swapped for an American one.

So I bought the Highway Code and a DVD with a set of practice questions and passed the theory and hazard perception tests in Haverfordwest in late February.  Then I found an instructor in Cardigan who was willing to teach me all the silly maneuvers required to pass the practical.  Who will honestly ever reverse around a left corner in real life I know not!  But in an attempt to make myself feel better about the ridiculous amount of effort expended to get yet another piece of paper to add to my ever-growing folder of “important documents”, I have noticed some subtle improvements in my driving skills and a new-found pedantry with regards to the application of the road code.  Not to mention a superiority complex towards Easter holidaymakers on the narrow roads and lanes of Pembrokeshire who clearly have no concept of how wide (or narrow) their own vehicles are.  If the daffodils aren’t knocking your side mirror you haven’t pulled over far enough!  City folk!

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Daffodil for your reference

The driving license debacle is just one of the many hoops I’ve had to jump through to settle here in the UK but gosh the life admin seems like it will never end!  People sometimes ask us what we do all day with neither of us working — at times I too wonder where the days and weeks have gone — but when I look back on it, it appears that I’ve become almost fully occupied by managing our little family’s international existence.  Just to give you an idea of the really fun activities I’ve spent countless hours on so far (in addition to my standard motherly duties):

1. Opened UK bank accounts

2. Closed some NZ bank accounts

3. Confirmed NZ tax non-residency status with NZ Inland Revenue

4. Changed all NZ addresses

5. Applied for UK credit card

6. US tax return for 2014 year (approx 50 hours of work — and serious yoga breathing required)

7. Confirmed with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) that I don’t have to file a return this year (finally some common sense exhibited)

8. Attempted to get phone and internet connection in this house (it took British Telecom over 3 months to achieve this — worst customer experience ever in the history of the world)

9. Opened a bank account for Morgan

10. Oh yes I applied for a National Insurance Number here too

11. Registered Morgan and myself at the local doctor’s surgery

I’m not sure if I’ve forgotten how much work it was to get ourselves set up in NZ in 2007… or if it’s more complicated because I’m a mom now… or if THE WORLD HAS JUST GONE TOTALLY MENTAL!?!?  I think a lot of it’s down to those one or two losers who actually attempt identity fraud — but god they are wasting the rest of our’s time!  Even getting to talk to a person at our bank’s contact center requires at least six validations by now.

I think Morgan’s got the right idea — just throw some stones into a pot and call it a day!

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Oh yes, and we’ve had an offer on a house in Cardiff accepted.  We saw eight houses and offered on two.  Let us recall Aled and I viewed eighty-six houses in Wellington before buying ours in Houghton Bay in 2009/10 so this is indeed a massive improvement.  The conveyancing stuff takes forever in this country though so god knows when we’ll ever get the keys.  Honestly you’d think we were trying to buy Buckingham Palace rather than a three bedroom terraced house.

Anyways the good news is we are winning the war on admin.  Next up is my NZ IR3 and re-writing my CV.  God willing there is some paid employment in my future!

PS I can’t figure out how to “activate comments” in this blogging tool so sorry if that is frustrating!  I will try and fix it soon.

We’re Alive!

Hello and greetings from West Wales!  I know it’s been a while since I last wrote but hey, sometimes life takes over.  Instead of listing a bunch of really valid excuses, I’ll just offer the following piece of advice: Don’t move across the planet in your first year of motherhood.  It’s really not a good idea!

As I haven’t written for such a long time, I’m not really sure where to start… or what you want to know first.  I think I’ll start with a quick run down of our journey since leaving Wellington and see how I get on.

First stop was the Marlborough Sounds which were just gorgeous.  We stayed in an awesome bach in a tiny hamlet called Sandy Bay on Kenepuru Sound.  The weather was pretty nice for October so we got in a fair amount of kayaking and also hiked several bits of the Queen Charlotte Track.

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We then headed all the way up the North Island to see if we couldn’t get some surf for Aled and to see Gwyn and Nic and fam one last time. Although we had an awesome spot near Matai Bay, there was barely any surf for Aled. That was a big shame but we still made the most of the beaches.  Look!  Not one other pesky human on them.  Awesome.

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Gwyn got us to the airport in plenty of time for the worst thirty-eight hours of our lives.  There’s Morgy in his bassinet having a grand old time while his sleep deprived parents tried to figure out how to eat airplane food and control an increasingly mobile infant.  He did great on the first two legs but lost it a bit on the last flight from Dubai to Heathrow.  I don’t blame him.  A ninety year old Nanna kept pinching his cheeks in delight when all he wanted to do was fall asleep.

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We spent two jetlagged nights at William and Claire’s in Wokingham where Morgs met his first UK cousins. After sufficiently terrorising that household, we moved onto our final destination: Dinas Cross.

Nanna and Taidi welcomed us heartily and introduced Morgan to his new best friends:

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Shortly after arriving, Simon and Kate turned up too so it felt like we hadn’t left Wellington at all…

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And then it was Christmas…

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See!  He is related to me after all.

Right, this blogging is exhausting.  I will stop for now and carry on again another day.

I hope this post finds you all well, wherever you may be.  By now you are all really scattered about the globe and I find myself wishing frequently that I could win the lottery, build a small, eco-friendly, Cotswold-like village and encourage you all to become my neighbours so I could see you more often.

PS — please bear with me as I get used to using Word Press.