Summer’s a great time to be in New Zealand — the weather tends to be pretty good, and there are all sorts of events happening: pre-Christmas drinks, small parties, and general goodwill. Not to mention Christmas itself!

Monday 16/12: Our first event of the week wasn’t particularly full of goodwill: a friend of ours was “made redundant” after a long, drawn-out process, and we joined him for a couple of commiseration drinks at our friend Julie’s house. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for long, since we’d invited my dad over for a birthday dinner; we had a lovely evening with him; my brother, Simon; and Simon’s girlfriend, Katie.

Tuesday 17/12: Since we’d completely failed to get much of Monday’s work done the day before, we spent Tuesday recording the podcast and getting it published. In the evening Craig went to an outdoor taekwondo class with his sister Stephanie, during which they somehow ended up in the sea and soaking wet.

They dried off pretty quickly over a delicious meal cooked by Craig’s mum, after which the four of us walked around to Mission Bay to watch the second Hunger Games movie.

Wednesday 18/12: Since arriving back in the country, I’ve been looking for a job teaching English, but without much success. Student numbers are down at my old job and advertised positions are receiving high numbers of applications. However, I did get an interview for one job, and although it was more of a “casual chat” than anything else, it seemed to go well. Later on, we spent the evening playing board games with Ange.

We have cats! Temporarily, anyway.
We’re housesitting at the moment — and we have cats! Temporarily, anyway.

Thursday 19/12: For the first time in weeks, I had an evening alone by myself, as Craig had gone to the last TKD class of the year. It seemed a strange luxury!

Friday 20/12: Every year, a group of Craig’s old friends from high school celebrate the season by watching the South Park Christmas special. Although I despise South Park, I like our friends, so we joined them for a pleasant barbecue at Jonty and Maz’s new house. In the end, we spent a lot more time catching up with the others than watching TV — and the show was only 22 minutes long, after all. So not too bad, really.

Saturday 21/12: Craig woke up feeling wretched, so he stayed in bed while I headed out with Ange for a Pilates class and then into town to meet Bea for a language exchange. Back at home, Craig kept to his bed until finally emerging for a fun-filled Saturday night of TV-watching.

Sunday 22/12: Craig was still a bit unsteady, so we spent the day chilling out at home, half-watching the cricket until Janine came over in the evening to play a few board games.

That traditional Christmas pastime...
That traditional Christmas pastime…
Monday 23/12: I’d thought that Craig’s illness of the previous Saturday had been food poisoning, but when I woke up on Monday feeling violently ill, I realised it couldn’t have been. Apparently a nasty bug had been going around, and I’d caught it — which meant that the first day of Christmas Week was, for me, decidedly unpleasant. It also meant that I didn’t do any work at all, the podcast didn’t get recorded and the travel diary wasn’t even written. Craig at least for a reasonable amount of work done, but I wallowed in bed, ill-advisedly reading Brave New World for the first time. (It’s depressing.)

Tuesday 24/12: We’d planned to have a Christmas Eve barbecue, but as almost everyone we invited was out of town or recovering from other events, it kind of fizzled into nothing. Instead, we hired Despicable Me 2 from iTunes and spent the evening curled up on the couch.

Wednesday 25/12: A New Zealand Christmas is supposed to be bright and sunny, the kind of day you spend at the beach or playing backyard cricket. Unfortunately this year the day dawned not just grey but positively wet, and we got drenched just getting to the car from our back door, and again as we made our way from the road into Craig’s mum’s house for breakfast.

Once inside, all was warm and pleasant, and we had a lovely meal with Craig’s mum and stepdad, as well as Stephanie and two friends she’d invited. As always, Mary had outdone herself foodwise, with eggs, mushrooms, croissants, a great pile of bacon, and a delicious platter of fresh fruit. We all ate far too much, before diving into present opening and finally settling down to playing a couple of board games.

Since we’d had my family Christmas ten days ago, we weren’t doing anything formal, but we stopped into see my dad for a chat, then had Christmas tarts with my mum before diving back into events. Craig’s uncle Damian was hosting the Dallow family event again this year, and we spent the afternoon and evening catching up with that side of the family and eating even more.


Thursday 26/12: Ah, Boxing Day. We made sure to spend it the traditional way, i.e. lounging around doing not very much at all and eating lots of sugary food.

Friday 27/12: The last two times we’ve been in New Zealand, we stayed with our friends Chris and Sarah, but during our most recent absence they moved to a farm in the far south of the city. On Friday they invited us over for a barbecue and to show us around their new place; they’ve done some pretty heavy renovations and it looks great! We had a pleasant evening with them, Geoff and Tila, and Sarah’s cousin and his girlfriend.

Saturday 28/12: The internet speeds at our housesitting house have slowed down to snail’s pace, so we spent the day working over at Craig’s mum’s house — Craig had managed to upgrade her data plan within days of our return, and now we’re making the most of it!

Sunday 29/12: We planned our Sunday around a stop at the shopping centre so I could visit the gym. Unfortunately the data on the free wifi available only lasted Craig seven minutes, so he went for a wander and ended up buying a rather expensive jacket.

Since neither of us could be bothered cooking, we drove around our adopted suburb of Otahuhu looking for a takeaway resturant, and discovered a Vietnamese place — so we had pho for dinner!

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