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Published: March 26th 2010
Annalise drops in for a week and of course we end up in a pub
Before I start let me clarify, we live in Pt Chevalier not Ponsonby but for some reason our little suburb about 5km from the CBD does not feature as an option, however it is the closest of the options avaliable. I needed to explain that because Ponsonby is a very desirable place to live, Pt Chev's not bad but I don't want to pretentious.
Two years ago today (1 March) Anita and I flew out of Auckland on our big adventure. We had spent a lot of time organising and planning but some things just don't go to plan, then again some things go like clockwork. Our trip was like that predictably unpredictable. You know one of the delights of traveling is the people you meet along the way. The friendships you form and the stories that are constructed along the way. We headed to London knowing only that my friend David would pick us up at Heathrow, well hoping rather than knowing. Luckily he did not let me down and believe me, if you knew Dave there is always a possibilty of being let down. So to honour the people who helped make the trip memorable I thought I
Toilet cafe Sarajevo
Steve, Emma, Laura and I share a coffee at cafe famous for its loos
would start by mentioning them.
Dave Loye: I met Dave in 1995 on my big OE, Dave has a heart of gold and he loves being a Londoner but his life is full of dramas and can be very cluttered. I'd lost touch with Dave in about 2000 so it was amazing when he located me in late 2007, a few months before we were due to leave, its like it was meant to be. Anyway Dave had taken to speculating in the housing market, buying, doing up and selling trying to make a tidy litte profit. "Tony you and da missus must stay with me I have plenty of room, I insist." How could I say no. Well like I said Daves life can chaotic and unpredictable and so we ended up sleeping firstly on the floor in a council flat for 3 nights and then in the living room of house that was being completly renovated. Sharing the kitchen and bathroom with illegal immigrants who Dave had hired to renovate his house on the cheap. This lasted for 3 months, Anita had had enough, the roof was already off and we were losing the water supply......time to
The Annex at Arnos
Clara's 1st Bday on the front lawn in our favourite London home
move. Hopefully one day Dave will come and visit us in NZ. I would really love to see my frien with his heart of gold and tortured soul and give him some real kiwi hospitality.
Richard and Marion: Kiwis who we had never met. They were friend's of a friend and had been in London for about 6 months. Richard, a psychologist had moved to London on a 5 year contact, his wife Marion an ex Probation Officer from Wellington. They invited us around for dinner in the first month and it became a fairly regular thing, meeting at Southbank or St Martins or a nice little restuarant for a Kiwi catch up and have a little moan about the weather or the little things that drove us nuts like the shitty coffee. At times I felt like a moaning pom but it was nice to have someone to share our frustrations with, friends that understood and shared our home sickness . We really miss you guys you were an important part of us feeling settled a long way from home.
Chris and Katrina (and Zac): I met Chris in the early 90's when he worked at an
Anita and our tour leader Sanja share lunch with other members of the group near the river in Mostar
alcohol rehab house in Nelson and I as a Probation Officer in Blenhiem. Chris is a straight talker and I had like him the first time I met him. Anita and I were visiting in 2006 and he and Katrina were talking about returning to London after a previous successful two year stint were they worked hard and made good money. And right then the seed was sown. We originally intended to return with them in late 2007 but I still had study and Anita did not want to go straight into an English winter. Anyway they had been in London 6 months before we arrived. The difficulty with these guys was that they lived in Teddington (southside) and us in Arnos Grove (north), it took about 3 hours and 3 changes of train to get there. Now in your first month in London that is a mission. Chris and Katrina had a nice, modern warm 2 bedroom flat. It was luxury to us and we really treasured staying the night or if they went away on a trip staying the weekend. Chris had Sky TV and internet, we were in heaven. Our friendship continued to develop and with another
John and Chris and I having a beer in Little Venice
Kiwi couple, John and Jude we had some great times walking along the Thames, looking for deer in Richmond Park, bike rides, watching Zac play cricket,hunting for bargins in the Charity Shops, admiring the Azaleas in Isobels Gate. Of course the two biggies were spending 9 days together on a cruise in Greece and Turkey and a weekend in Cardiff cheering on the Kiwis (beating Australia in the World Cup) and the All Blacks play at the Millinium. Chris and Katrina are still living there and I think it will be sometime before we see them back.
John and Jude: I had never met Jude, but John was another Probation colleague from the 90s. Chris had told me John was in London but we did not have plans to connect, I hadn't seen John in years. To cut a long story short John and Jude lived in St Albans (Hertfordshire) well for all us to get together was difficult but we had a lot a fun when we did. John was working as a Probation Officer in St Albans and hating it. I was having trouble getting a job. John put in a word for me and within a
While the girls watch on with adoring eyes
week I was also working at St Albans Probation Office. It was great for me to find work, although getting there was a mission. John had some kiwi company and started to enjoy work more and we brought abit of class to the place hahhahaha. We became very close friends and really treasure some of the fun times. It was cool for us because J & J had a car. that meant trips out of London. We went to the Isle of Wight, the Cotswolds and of course Greece and Wales. There were also the boozy nights in St Albans, the lively Saturday morning markets (a real touch of England). John is Maori and that provided me with the shot of wairua that comes with connecting to the tangata whenua. Jude was their treavel organisor, she was so organised and inspiring. Some nights we would sit there comparing notes and talking about where to next. Like us J & J had come to London to travel and travel they did in fact I think they drove around a lot of Europe in their trusty BMW. To all our Kiwi mates thanks guys it was awesome.
Zoey, Tony, Teya Carla
Hmmm Tonys I wonder if I can get a freebie
and Neve: The two most important things to get up and running in London is to have accommodation and get a job asap, because that place is very expensive and your savings soon disappear if your not working. Anita had decided she might like to change to nannying and this family provided her the opportunty less than a week after we had arrived. The old girl was pretty convincing at the interview and as there was no one else suitable and available they offered her the princely sum of £7 an hour and Anita working life in London commenced. Zoey and Anita became friends and the family part of our social network. They were kind and generous and would allow us to use their car or help us everytime we had to move into a new place. Kindness means so much when you are so far away from home!!
Ragani and Glen: Have been living in London 5 years or is it 8. My niece and her man were another important part of our social network and introduced to many of the fine, reasonably priced restuarants in the Islington area. Although kiwis through and through they enjoy the lifestyle
Anita and I share a beautiful day overlooking the Mediterrarean on Gozo Island Malta
of London. A day at the races, a weekend in New York or Dublin and of course watching the All Blacks, when ever they get the chance. They also allowed us to crash for the week prior to our departure at home. It was nice to have someone from family close by.
Chris and Sham: We met these guys on a GAP tour in Rio in 2005. They subsequently stayed with us in Feb 2006 and we have maintained contact since. Our first weekend out of London was to their home in Leeds and they took us on a wonderfu day trip (and our first English fish and chips) to Whitby, home of Dracula. They chose this destination because it was where Capt Cook departed from when he sailed to NZ. Later in the year we also spent a weekend discovering the delights of Liverpool. Laugh if you must but every since I fell in love with the Beatles and decided to adopt the "Red Devils" as my English soccer team I have wanted to visit the City. So another little one of my dreams had actualised. I expect we will see these guys in the future.
Tower of London
our friends Emma, Steve and Jo join us on a bleak day at the ToL. It started snowing that day which lasted a week.
and Els (Flavio & Clara): The stem cell scientists from New York. Michael is Swiss, Els Belgium. These guys lived 8 doors away from the building site we lived in when we first arrived. We met them 3 months later. Because we wanted to stay in the area Anita and I delivered 500 flyers " Mature Kiwi couple looking a room to rent..............etc etc. Our only response from from a woman that's son owned a boarding house, opposite Arnos Grove Tube Station. We didn't fancy sharing a kitchen and bathroom with others but hey, beggars can't be chosers, the location was great, it had a nice little back yard and so we paid a month up front. We checked our emails on the day we were moving and there was one from Els saying she was interested in talking with us. DAMN. So here is Anita and I carrying our belongings in black saks up Morton Way from 125 and we stop at 109 to introduce ourselves. Els is in her PJ's cleaning the Annex (sleepout), we introduce ourselves. Anita falls in love with the annex, i fall in love with Els (nah joke) but she is lovely. Els likes
Sham and Anita share an embrace at Albert Dock with the Liver building in the rear
us and says come back and meet Michael this afternoon. Anita gets down on her knees and starts begging liek a puppy dog and promising the world. I kick her (gently) and tell her to maintain some dignity. Anyway we finish moving, (about 4 trips) down Morton Way, through the park, up the hill, past the pub, across the busy Rd, the house with the yellow door and we call back at 109. Well over a couple of bottles of wine (I like these guys already) and some negotiation about the rent we agree to return in a month. Across the busy Rd, past the pub, down............. Anita is very very happy (so am I). The place is very nice and summer is just around the corner. We thought this is us for the rest of our trip BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE. First day Anita can't get the power going, she calls on friendly nieghbour, Calvin, for assistance, he fixes problem (nice guy) then complains to the council that we are residing there illegally. I should say at this stage M & E are renting the property and they have checked with the landlord before renting the Annex to
Our 1st home in London, our 3rd day in London. Anita and I with my friend Dave
us........its all kosher BUT the landlord when building the Annex did not get a permit for the bathroom and kitchen so it is illegal to live in. Also, Calvin, the prick, is avoiding us but making life miserable for M & E and 4 months later (thank god for the slowness of beaucracy) we are again looking for somwhere to live. The thing about this place is that for the first time since arriving in London we could invite friends to "our home" and provide a place for visiting friends to stay a night, we have fond memories of 109. But we also have of the New Yorkers from Europe who allowed us to be part of therefamily. The trip to Zurick with Michael to pick up furtniture, a night in Zurich with his mate Ziggy, a raining day in Seven Oaks looking at real estate and the many bottles of wine annd food we shared. Thanks guys, we really hope to seee you in Aotearoa one day.
Chris and Jenny: are relations of Anita's, on her mothers side and they were awesome to us. Three times we visited them in Cardiff and had a fanatistic stay on each
Isobels Gate, Richmond Park
Our Cherished Kiwi friends, John & Jude, Chris and Katrina
occasion. It is a very comfortable 3 hour train ride from London to Cardiff and if you book ahead not to expensive. C & J always picked us up from central and there hospitality was amazing. Fresh Welsh hot cakes, visits to places like St Fagans, the coal mines, the coast and the night life in Penarth. Chris is a drummer in a band called the Sunsets (claim to fame was the original band for Shakin Stevens). We dined and were entertained with the charismatic Bat Goddard. Jenny is 70+ and a real looker. Chris accompanied me and 2 other kiwi friends to Millinium to watch the AB's v Wales, we called him our token Welshman. On the final visit they took us to their caravan at St Clears, Carmarthenshire, South Wales and treated Anita to a special Welsh birthday. We can't wait to repay their hospitality.
Stephen/Emma/Jo: We meet these three delightful Poms on our trip to Croatia. The great thing about an organised trip and in particular GAP is you meet a lot of like minded travellers. Doing the budget thing, wanting to see as much as possible, but also having the freedom to do your own
Our Adopted English Daughter Suzy in the Piazza San Marco
thing. When our trip was over we decided to stay in touch and got together three times with the UK bunch before we departed for home. Steve lived in Stoke, Emma in Southhampton and Jo closer by in the small village of Lingfield South of London (by Gatewick). The first time we meet in London (Nov) Anita and I had just returned from our Greek cruise. We all spent the afternoon hanging around the Southbank area and dining at a fancy fast foods place called Giraffe. I remember it was bloody freezing. The second time we did the tourist thing at Tower of London, it snowed. In the historic sense, London is remarkable. You could spend every weekend of the year tracing some sort of history. Nothing to do, head to town, there is always somehing to see. The third time we stayed at Jo's and explored the lovely rural area of the Sussex/Kent area including a visit to Hever Castle, Anne Bolyen's old cottage. I sure we will see Steve down under within 12 months, what about you girls?
Suzy: Well what can I say about Suzy. We didn't so much as meet her but adopted her on
Anita's 49th Bday with Chris and Jenny at their holiday trailer home
our trip around Italy. Another GAP friend. It was Suzy's first trip abroad and she was so nervous she spent her only 36 hours in Rome, not moving more than a block from where she was staying. You could say she missed Rome. Suzy is very shy, except when it comes to talking about sex, her experience working at Ann Sommers gives her plenty of confidence and some expertise in this area. But ths young, shy girl is a delight and she got on with everyone, growing in confidence as the trip progressed. We haven't seen Suzy since May but thanks to Skype keep in touch with our adopted UK daughter.
St Albans and St John Probation Staff: The thing we discover about the Poms after working there for 12 months is that they invite you into their hearts before they invite you into their homes. Where as we would frequently have meals with our kiwi mates and only once did we get invited to have dinner, in London, with our pommie mates. That seemed really strange to us because we are always quick to have overseas guests to stay or to share a meal. I think they tend
Isle of Wight
John and Jude share a Romantic moment in a pretty village
to dine out with friends rather the entertain at home. But were we made to feel welcome at the office. St Albans 30 miles North of London in Hertfordshire, a lovely little village with a Probation staff of about 50 helped John and I celebrate ANZAC day and were willing to embrace or learn aspect of our culture. it was always a pleasant days work but a dreary 3 hour return journey. And good old St Johns in the heart of Angel. Grotty old building with a new building being constructed next door, noise from 7am to 7pm. Staff always willing to lend a hand if they weren't to busy. A real cosmopoliton mix of Africans, Indians, Muslims, Australians, Croatians, West Indians, Polish and of course the many English English with variety of accents, all with a great sense of humour. I always fall in love with the admin staff who do so much for so little, hats of to Tara and specially Sharmin.
Gods Eye Ophanage: Wow two months in Ghana, a journey into the unknown. Anita and I spent 60 days and met some amazing people during our time at Gods Eye. Volunteers from all over the
Anita saying goodbye to staff and orphans at Gods Eye
world although mainly the States. Young people some never having left their country previously in the middle of no where with only their faith and each other to keep their spirits high. Austin, Lea, Matthew, Karen, Mathew, Rachel and Jenny.....you were outstanding.
To all the people who visited and acquiantances that I have not mentioned thank you for contributing to our adventure. Annalise and , Riki and India, our flatmate Kate, Bart and Jenny. The friends from America, Canada, Australia and South Africa that shared our adventures in Europe and Croatia. Our tour guides especially Sanja, who we love dearly. Her passion for her country Croatia made thsi trip very special.
And finally to London: You are amazing, you gave us so much, so big, so grey, so cold, so warm, so much to do, so much to see, so much to talk about, so much to moan about and so much to download in our memory banks for future reference. The snow, the underground, the history, the shopping, the cost, the wages, the pubs (everywhere), the bread, the markets
A diary of our travels:
1 Mar 08 Leave home in
A final moment with some amazing young Americans, Mattnew, Lea and Austin.
Auckland for Thailand for (10 days) then on to London, Lion King
April 08: Leeds and Whitby, weekend, Hollie Smith
May 08: Wales (3 days), Weekend in the Cotswolds, Sound of Music
June 08: Malta for (8 days), Nelson Mandala's 90th Bday Hyde Park
July 08: Isle of Wight for weekend, Brussels and Bruge 3 days), George Benson at Royal Albert.
August 08: Croatia/Bosnia/Montenegro (14 days),
Sept 08: Zurich for the weekend
Oct 08: Paris for 4 days with the Dunnings
Nov 08: Greece and Turkey on 8 day cruise, Wales weekend (ABs)
Dec 08: Liverpool v Arsenal France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland
Jan 09: Holland cont 10 days, Scotland weekend for RB's Bday
Feb 09: Dirty Dancing, Tower of London
March 09: Leeds and Liverpool weekend, Ireland (4 days),Hever Castle
April/May 09 Portugal (6 days), Spain (8 days), Italy (13 days) Wales (3 days)
June/July Ghana Orphanage (60 days),
Aug 09: London, Oliver, Hong Kong (3 days), Australia (13 days) Sth Island (10 days}
28 Aug 09: Back home in Auckland
And we did work in between, believe it or not.
Wow I'm exhausted just writing about it, awesome, just do it.
Special thanks to my beautiful
Borough Market, London
A final farewell lunch with our dear friends Michael and Els
partner Anita who shared my dream.
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