change of address

for years we kept hearing about this real estate boom and decided it was time to get in on the action – hope it’s not too late?

after 2 1/2 years of looking and countless open houses (probably close to 100 for the jboss) we finally have a signed contract on a house. it will be great to have a place of our own. makes it all seem less temporary.

if you ask the realtor she will say the house is in island bay, when actually it is in southgate – a tiny neighborhood on the ridge overlooking island bay. but we think of it as an extension of island bay – just like the bronx is an extension of manhattan.

we are going to create the story of how southgate broke away from island bay – stay tuned for that.

the details:

  • 14A Buckley Road
    Southgate, 6023
    New Zealand
  • settlement date: 14-JAN
  • moving date: 15-JAN
  • phone (unchanged) 04 971 6426

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nice view from the deck

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mini deck off the main room for coffee in the morning.

one large main room with kitchen, dining room and lounge (living room) combined.
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main room with views out over island bay and the cook straight.

open modern kitchen.

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the long way home

another in our series of long city walks, today we did the “go the distance” walk along the wellington harbour, and then extended it by walking the rest of the way home via the southern coast. 16.93 km (10.52 miles) from start to finish.

there is common phrase said throughout nz that “you can’t beat wellington on a fine day” (partly a dig by the aucklanders given we are prone to frequent southerlies) and today was definitely one of those fine days.

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the tramp started at queens wharf where one of the local hardware stores was sponsoring a fishing-off-the-pier day for kids. a common fixture at events like this is the sausage sizzle where you’ll get a sausage from the grilled wrapped in piece of white bread. usually free or $1 – today was free courtesy of carters. you can see the jboss standing at the zero marker with her pre-tramp sausage

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the city council and several organizations have rescued the hikitia – the world’s oldest working crane ship from the scrap yard. built in scotland in 1924 it has been in near continuous use since and is currently going through a detailed restoration. the air new zealand employees volunteers are striping an old window using dental tools…

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we had to make a quick stop at the “santa line” so jackie could add a few things to her list. telecom sets up a giant tree in one of the parks along the harbour and has 3 santa line phone boxes for the youngsters (and the jboss) to pass along their wish lists.

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row of boat houses along oriental bay. all along the oriental parade is a string of tiny parks. just one of the little things that makes a great livable city.

the panorama is from the bench in the shade under the overhang.

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oriental bay

view of wellington harbour from balaena bay. the council has recently rehabs the park at evans bay adding these wooden loungers. the jboss stops for a snooze.
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great old build at the bus terminal. surfers, swimmers and walkers along lyall bay.

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lyall bay is one of the all times dog friendly beaches. during summer gromit is not allowed on our island bay beach between 9am and 7pm. dad and a wee one scrambling on the rocks with the rimutakas in the background.
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wedding ceremony out on rocks near waitaha cove. the surfers waiting for a wave at houghton bay. i’m always amazed at how close to the rocks they are.
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big city, small town

with a population of almost 400,000 i have found wellington to have almost all the big city things i would want – arts, entertainment, sports, restaurants, shops, etc.

but what i’m really happy about is the small town feel. most weeks i’ll have some small town experience that will make my day.

some examples:

  • i’m at a family run shop in the cbd buying some preszzies (presents) for the jboss’ birthday. i take 3 items to the counter. the owner rings them up and says “oh my – that’s too much!” she has rung up the correct prices, but she then rings them up again but this time totaling $30 less. “that’s better!”
  • there is a popular coffee shop right outside my office that i stop at a few times a week. within a week of me starting to get my coffee there victor the owner knew my name and what i always get – large flat white, blue milk (2%) and no sugar. note that there are hundreds of people who get their coffee from victor every day and victor knows them all and what they order.
  • [note: i officially condemn the following unless it benefits me] i usually chat with victor the coffee guy while he’s making my coffee. i’ve noticed that if i show up and there are several orders ahead of me somehow victor gets confused and my coffee comes out first… bad victor, bad.
  • one day i’m scooting along on my vespa and it just conks out. i call aa (the nz equivalent of the aaa in the states) and soon the aa truck pulls up and the aa guy starts trying to figure out what’s gone wrong. the service guy is a big dude with giant hands, and the engine compartment on the vespa is tiny, but he’s hard at it and within 10 minutes has me on the road again. he explains what he has done and suggests i take to the vespa shop soon to have then check over his fix. it’s been a long time since i had my vehicle actually repaired roadside. next day i take it to mr. skoot for a full checkup. when i pick up up he explains that my spark plug was cracked and that he replaced it and the connecting wire. he asks if $20 is ok? $20 for service including parts.
  • maybe once a month i have lunch at a small family run malaysian cafe. none of the plates match. the paint on the tables is faded. mom & dad in the kitchen. daughter #1 at the register. they know what i usually get and when i walk in just gesture for me sit down and soon bring over my lunch.
  • during our summer holiday last year i lost a small (but critical) part for my 10 year old mountain bike. i stopped in one of the bike shops near work and explained what i wanted. they guy pulls me back into the repair shop and starts digging through a big box of used parts similar to what i need. soon enough he finds one that will work. back to the register and he asks “is $2 ok?”
  • i get my coffee beans at one of the 5 coffee roasters within 2 blocks of my office. the price is per 100g (3.5 oz) so i usually get 500g to last the week. i’m buying them directly from the coffee roaster dude who always fills the 500g bag so that not another bean could fit. he always puts it on the scale just to be sure it’s at least 500g, but i’ve never see it weigh in at under 600g despite him only charging me for 500. my experience in boston would be them putting the bag on the scale, it saying 510g and them then removing beans to bring it back down to 500.
  • the bus driver waving to me as i step off the bus.

city to sea – aea ot ytic

today we completed the longest and most challenging of the wellington city walks – the city to sea.

19.8km (12.3 miles) along the western ridge line from parliament to the southern coast.

except we did in reverse starting at our house, heading down to the island bay coast and then heading into the city.

5 1/2 hours after we started we arrived at parliament and caught a bus back to island bay – quite exhausted.

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from the elevation map you can see that there was quite a climb.

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starting our climb to the hills overlooking island bay. looking out at cook straight with taputeranga island in the foreground.

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wildflowers lining the track. the jboss at the top of the ridge. many miles to go…

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the jboss takes in the view of the island bay and the southern coast. in the unexpected category, a buddhist monastery in the hills overlooking island bay.

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cricket and a kite

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looking back to the southern coast – and then north towards the city and inner harbour.

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the ultimate volvo with it’s own garden.

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southern walkway

today was the first of our big city tramps – the southern walkway. 12km (75 miles) from island bay to oriental bay along the eastern ridge.

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out starting point is shortland park, in island bay next to the coast. the old public toilets have been taken over by the dunes.

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looking back on island bay and the cook straight from mount albert.

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one of the many “workingmen’s bowling clubs.” this one quite secluded in the town belt.

the council has just complete a mountain bike skills area. i’ll say that we’ll be back to give it a try, but i should know better.

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once in a lifetime

tonight we went to an amazing david byrne concert. the show was fantastic – the music and the visuals were stunning, david’s voice was even better then his early days with the talking heads, the venue was great and our seats were dead centre less than 10 metres from the stage.

the show was at the michael fowler centre – the small venue next to town hall and the home of the nz symphony. a great space for a concert.

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as we were waiting for the show to start we noticed this was not your typical concert crowd. almost no one between the ages of 20 and 30. mostly folks who were in uni during the 80s. and some of them brought along their kids. but there was one real standout. mid show much of the crowd left their seats to go right up to the edge of the stage. these seats were quickly filled as folks from the back moved up into the now empty seats. all of the audience is now up on their feet really enjoying the show and i notice the guy now in front of me. he is standing motionless, with homeless guy hair and a baseball cap with an image of the madonna draped in the us and italian flags. i kept waiting for him to ask “hey man…when does the zz top show start?”

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we almost didn’t go to the show – and a techno-house band would have been to blame. way back in the early 90’s my friend heavy d (aka david) bought tickets to see “the klf” perform. “the klf” is actually two pale british lads who create the music on computers in their basement. so how were they going to do a live performance of music that was made without any musicians? the answer was bringing out a boom box on the stage and hitting the play button. no live musicians. no actual members of “the klf”. as you might expect the crowd was more than a bit peeved. with that in mind the jboss dismissed the posters all around town that pitched “songs of david byrne and brian eno”. the night before the show i was able to convince her that the actual live breathing david byrne was coming and we started looking for tickets. nothing but impaired view seats available from the theatre, but at the last minute we were able to grab our most fantastic seats from a seller on trademe (the nz copy of ebay).

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the band were all in white and many of the songs featured 3 dancers in workout clothes & ipods. it sounds hokey, but having seen it i now couldn’t imaging the show without them.

as we were leaving the show we both commented on how much it seemed like david and the rest of the band & dancers were having a blast. when my work colleagues and i gather round the water cooler each night before heading home our smiles are not quite as wide…

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sevens

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the flash gordons (there were 50 of them) were amazed at the real life superman policeman (almost 7 feet tall). i like the photo of the flash gordons getting some first aid and withdrawing some cash from the atm. i just didn’t expect flash to pull out a wallet to pay for his lunch…

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the photo below on the left is great on so many levels. a bunch of corporate stooges in a luxury box, not in costumes, with their backs to the pitch, watching the action on tv monitors.

i think the guys in the netball uniforms (a women’s basketball-like sport very popular in oceania) were my favourite.

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<click on the images below for mini movies>

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christmas in welly

christmas morning from our back deck.

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one of the simple pleasures of the holiday season is the blooming of the pohutokawa trees. some of the big old trees are quite spectacular. the jboss is standing in front of one on the grounds of the the local island bay school.

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with the schools out for the summer holidays youngsters become a frequent sight buskering for some pocket money. the girls with the violins were quite impressive. unfortunately i didn’t get a photo of the barbershop quartet or the 2 scottish lads in full regalia performing with bagpipe and drum.

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with the massive cafe culture in wellington there are almost always several coffee cafes within sight. starbucks has a few locations, but has thankfully never really taken off and relies on the exotic frozen drinks (carmel mocha frappachino with chocolate syrup swirl and organic whipped cream topping). i will give them credit for trying to introduce iced coffee (one of my favourites) to the local market by having an employee roam the city streets with a ice coffee backpack giving out free drinks.

midland park is my favourite lunch spot and home of the town christmas tree

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kirkcaldie and stains is

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