Published: July 31st 2012July 9th 2012
As our weeks turn into months in ChCh and the job hunting continues we start to settle and get into a normal routine. Life in NZ follows a similar pattern to that of the UK. We like rugby so we go and see as many games as we can. The Irish are heading to NZ for a three test tour and we knew that we could try and see a few matches. We live about a hundred metres from the ChCh stadium so this was the obvious place to go and watch. We knew that a win was going to be difficult but I felt that they may have a chance.
I was so convinced that the Irish may get a win that I bet Pete the Kiwi $10. If we haven't gone to see the match live we go to the local pub 'The Bedrock' to watch the game. This is a rather interesting bar where we have watched a few matches quite happily with our jug of beer. The locals are fine, friendly, some know their rugby and others have no clue! We've played some pool there and won a few against the locals. There are generally are
a few fights but we stay clear of that. The bar manager is a larger than life lady who knows how to handle the place.
During the first Irish game we got some free drinks as we were the only ones in green. It was rather a tense 25 mins as the Irish were doing really well. Two bad passes and the Kiwi's got some tries. The Kiwi's can now relax and claim that they knew all along that they would win.
Match two was now in our home ground, we tried all week to go and see the Irish train, we even e mailed Irish Rugby to find out where they were but alas no luck. We did manage to go and see the All Blacks in a local school and took Kate's son Marcus to go and see Richie McCaw.
The big night for the match was ahead. The weather in ChCh was cold. The Kiwis had already had a fright as there was a minor tremor from the earth quake that the North Islanders were frightened of. The night was going to be a cold one and there had been a lot of rain
in recent days. We had our various layers of cloths on and water proofs in our bag, which was handy as when we got to the match the seats were really wet.
The match was fantastic we played like a supermen, every player played out of their skin. There was plenty of drama and the points were stacking up. The All Blacks were finding things difficult to deal with, their moves from last week no longer worked. The stars were in emerald green not all black. At the game the crowd were really worried with the way the ABs were playing. The ChCh crowd does know their rugby and I think if they were honest they know who should have won... The reality was that Ireland were winning with 74 mins to go and then DC (Dan Carter) dropped a goal after missing one. The game was won and the world champions had won. As with the other games the Kiwi's felt that it was never in doubt.
The Bedrock pub after was pumping. There are hundreds of Irish living in ChCh due to earthquake building work and they were out to P - A -R- T- Y.
It was a great night and the party did continue. We all watched the Wales match in Oz with a similar result which was a tad disappointing but at least we could all hold our heads up high. Apparently there was a third test but Elaine is claiming amnesia on that one as there is nought to say about that(!). She was now turning her attention as is quite natural for this time of the year to her birthday and the big 4-0.....
This meant that any outing could count as being part of the birthday countdown including ice-skating (or gingerly ice walking as was more the case!) and of course supporting the local CBD economy at the aptly named Beers & Burgers....where you could get real local ale and burgers called cow, sheep, deer or chicken....nicely down to earth. As the days ticked on Elaine was getting more excited especially as post from home started to arrive due to Anna's sneaky email ways which was very nice an much appreciated. Of course, everything was kept until the big day itself to be opened.
As always there was time to fit in more rugby, time a double header
which meant heading southwards in Scrappy to Dunedin to watch Highlanders v Chiefs and see the new stadium where we would have seen Ireland play Italy in during the World Cup had life been a tad simpler! It was a great night and it was lovely to be back on the road with Scrappy Doo especially the run to and from Dunedin as it is a great road trip. So Friday night was the game and Saturday was the trip back via the Moeraki Boulders which is a stunning sight though slightly commercialised by the visitor centre there which requests a $2 donation to access the beach even though you can get on it free further up!! Absolutely gorgeous frosty day for it though and a fantastic way to break up the journey. Of complete necessity was the final stop at Cookie Time just outside ChCh for fabulously fresh cookies which had to be hidden from Anna so she wouldn't eat them all at once! It was then home for a quick change of rugby jersey and off to the second match of Crusaders v Hurricanes which was a great game though we were concerned the rules had suddenly changed
without us knowing as crossing seemed to be fine when you score a try as Conrad Smith scored two that way! The 'canes won much to the consternation of the Crusader fans and the mood in the Bedrock was a bit feisty that night!! We then enjoyed a mid-winter feast with Kate, Pete and the kids complete with toasted marshmallows and mulled wine which topped off the perfect weekend.
Amidst all the pre birthday excitement there were still jobs to find and the birthday week seem to bring much good fortune as Elaine finally got two interviews; one in ChCh and one in Paeroa – these would take place one day after another the following week so that brought much relief and even more joy for the day itself.
Given it was her first winter birthday the day itself dawned a bit gloomy but there were plenty of smiles and whoops of joy as the cards were opened and surprise presents were given. Dressed in her $6 outfit courtesy of Toffs it off out for a favourite brekkie of eggs benedict and shopping for the birthday feast at Kate's later. The kids (inc. Elaine!) were very excited about
celebrating the milestone too so there were plenty of balloons and hugs to be had before the lovely dinner of salmon and roast veggies with home-made chocolate cake and a few birthday candles that were successfully blown out! It was a lovely day and even better as the biggest surprise of all was revealed that we would be taking a hot air balloon ride in Methven on Sunday! Before that we went along to Addington Raceway, also on our doorstep, to see harness racing and we had a lovely night including winning $20 on Here Comes Pat which we backed due to knowing our friend Pat back in Brighton (so cheers for that!!).
Anna had organised the perfect day and good fortune was still with us as we ended up being the only ones going up that day without having to pay for that privilege ($3000!) and we also got to be proper aeronauts by helping to put up and take down the canopy. We went down to Methven on the Saturday night and camped up near to our meeting place. Martyn our pilot is an ex-NZRAF pilot and president of the NZ ballooning organisation so we were in
perfectly safe hands. Anna was particularly brave as heights and flying things are not normally her thing but this was an experience like no other....
The day dawned frosty but beautiful and we went a few kms down the road to a local farm (complete with Moa statues!) to transport the basket and canopy and start the process of unpacking it from the back of the van for the transportation to a complete balloon which is about 150ft high when inflated and takes only about half hour to happen. Paul the driver (and later butler) also helped us contribute to the effort and soon the basket was hovering about a ¼ of an inch from the ground so it was time to hop in and take off.
You can hardly feel yourself rise and before long we were nearly a 1,000 feet up and enjoying breathtaking views of Mount Hutt, ChCh and all the way up the coast towards Kaikoura. Words cannot describe the feelings, views and sounds you experience up there but it is incredibly inspiring. Martyn brought us nearly a mile high and Anna loved every minute of it which was great. We were of great
interest to the horses and dogs below as we began to descend and navigated the electricity wires. Saying “calm down dobbin” seemed to work a treat at calming them down!! The hour we were up there felt like 10 seconds but it was awesome...Martyn gave us all the history about how the French invented it at the time of Louis & Marie Antoinette and how the peasants would be appeased by a bottle of champagne when the balloons would land in their fields. This tradition is upheld today as Martyn and Paul give the farmers champagne also and the newbie aeronauts (us!) round off their trip with a champagne breakfast and the aeronauts' baptism of the champagne cork on your head whilst saying the prayer below:
“The winds have welcomed you with their softness. The sun has blessed you with his warm hands. You have flown so high and so well, that God has joined you in laughter, and sat you gently down, in the loving arms of mother earth.”
That Irish blessing seems to say it all....don't you think........We then headed home on a complete high and with plenty of lovely views to keep us company on
the way back. It was the most incredible experience and a very good start to the roaring forties for Elaine!
There are plenty of other anecdotes and trips to fill you in on since then but the biggest news to share is that Elaine did get one of the jobs and we are currently awaiting our visa application to be processed. Hopefully we will be heading up to Paeroa in the North Island very soon and starting our new life properly (and even earning money to boot!). Until then we are sharing the excitement of the Olympics and wishing you all and ace summer holiday back in the UK and Ireland.
There are more photos below