Monday, 30 December 2013

A Quiet Christmas

A somewhat belated message for the dwindling festive season, but understandably due to the time restraints created by the consumption of excessive amounts of cheese, mulled cider, mock turkey and pickled onions.....and the accompanying sense of shame that comes with over-indulging right up until New Year. To put it plainly - I haven't written over the Christmas period because I have rarely been sober or without food in my hand. That's what it's all about right?? It's all good as long as I detox in Jan ;-)

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful time full of merriment and (most importantly) booze! My festivities began by sending a bunch of presents home to rellies and loved ones and picked up in the last week of November when I decided to make some stocking advent bunting. 

Next came a tacky silver Christmas tree and some cheap decorations and that was pretty much it for the rest of December. It's hard to get in the spirit when it's 25 degrees outside and the thought of mulling anything makes you break into a sweat. 

The last Friday before the big day, we had our Christmas Party at work. Creating things being the name of the game every day at The Make Cafe, we celebrated by learning to make teacup candles and bezel jewellery whilst scoffing amazing homemade deserts, supping champagne and opening Secret Santa presents.

And then came Christmas Eve and the real homesickness hit. The morning was spent sobbing into the arms of my work family - thanks ladies, you're the best - and trying to work out the best way to let the world know that Christmas was cancelled. In the evening, my friend and co-worker Jade invited myself and Martin 'Ebenezer' Carr to Carols by Candlelight in Latimer Square.

A round of 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' and 'Jingle Bells' later, I started to feel a bit more in the mood for doing anything other than sleeping through Christmas Day.

After a morning of gift wrap ripping, joyful whooping and present testing, Martin and I took a drive to Cass Bay near Lyttelton for some quiet reflection before heading over to join friends for a BBQ.

Overall, we had a lovely day with some gorgeous people but it is always hard to be so far from home at this time of year. We have made a pact that from 2014 onwards, wherever we are in the world each Christmas, we will always make it back home to see our family and much missed friends. Promise!

 To see all our pics of Christmas merriment, have a look at our Flickr album.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013


It's been two months since I last wrote. A lot can happen in short spaces of time, and this short space of time is no exception.

A month ago, we said goodbye to Martin's parents at Christchurch airport after an amazing three weeks of travelling, introducing them to our friends and eating LOTS of good food. A year on from the same experience with my brother, I am left on the wrong side of the departure gate feeling a very familiar set of unwelcome emotions. 

Should I be going home too? Did we make the most of the short time we had together? Did they enjoy themselves? WILL THEY COME BACK???

The hardest part about having visitors after nearly two years of getting used to being by ourselves is coming back to an empty house. The quiet was unbearable. I suddenly realised how our parents and family members must have felt upon returning home after saying goodbye to us at Manchester airport all that time ago. On the other side of the departure gate towards New Zealand, I too was inconsolable, but it is definitely harder being the one left behind.

So you try and fill that hole with being busy, not stopping to reflect or dwell and generally carrying on with your life as if nothing has changed. After two weeks of this, however, it becomes impossible to ignore how you are feeling and you decide to face your doubts.

This Saturday, Martin and I made ourselves slow down. We took a walk through our old neighbourhood - which has become a haven for (legal) street art - had brunch somewhere we've never been before and made peace with ourselves. 

We are presently standing at a fork in the road. In January, we will have lived in New Zealand for two years and will therefore be eligible for residency. However, we don't know how much longer we want to be here. Do we: a) not apply and wait until our work visas expire in June and be faced with the prospect of returning to a country in a not too dissimilar economic state than it was when we left, or b) apply for residency on the basis we know we want to be here until at least this time next year and just see what happens? 

When we made the decision to move to the other side of the world, we did so on the proviso that we didn't want to regret the things we didn't do in life. We gave it a go and, thankfully, it worked. In my head, I know NZ is the right choice: a more healthy pace of life, better job prospects, more comfortable living arrangements...the list goes on. But (and this is a big 'but'), my heart essentially is wherever my Ma & Pa are. Corny, but that's what it boils down to!

Currently, we are very excitedly planning a trip home in April/May next year, hopefully via Canada, Italy, Germany and Thailand. We hope this will satisfy our wandering hearts a little and be a great opportunity to make the most of spending time with much missed friends and family. When it gets tough here, I cherish the thought of how happy I will be to see my cat again (and try not to think about the angry face of the kiwi customs officer when they discover him in my hand luggage). 

Meanwhile, when we want to feel close to home, there is a park down the road called Mona Vale in which you can find a very English looking lily-pond, fountain and an accompanying sense of tranquillity. At least until the birds start mistaking your ukulele playing for a call to arms, anyway.

To see all our photos from Sharon and Tony's trip, click here.