Saturday, March 25, 2006

Twisted and bitter

My bike was twisted and I am bitter - hence the following rant - bear with me, it will be short.
  • Removers crushed my bicycle when we moved to NZ.
  • The movers shrugged their shoulders and pointed to the insurers.
  • The insurers spent three months trying all avenues to avoid paying.
  • Stream of notated photos, techincal reference material from self eventually prompts cheque for two/thirds replacement value.
  • Took bike to posh bike shop on posh street for quote; they said they'd ring me with one.
  • Ten days later, called them for an update and was told 'The bike's ready'.
  • Arrived at shop to be ignored in favour of those spending $4k on shiny new road bikes.
  • When asked why job was done when I had asked for a quote first, no answer given.
  • Rashly paid without checking work as shop was busy and I was pissed off & wanted out.
  • Checked bike at home to find incomplete and ill-advised slap-dash repairs.
  • Turned air blue and cursed self for not listening to abdominal warning signs when first visiting posh bike shop on posh street.
  • Took bike to local mountain bike shop where nice couple treated me with respect, talked about what I used bike for, spoke confidently and honestly about sourcing spares and the time needed, discussed alternative bike scene and offered heaps of friendly advice.
  • Kicked myself black and blue for:
    • not going to local mountain bike shop in the first place as I had planned to do in December.
    • not insisting on fork replacement (as-new repairs are impossible and are potentially dangerous if stressed metal fails).
    • not kicking up a stink in the shop and embarrassing the smarmy buggers.
  • Resolved to purge poisonous feelings and shame my own stupidity/lack of balls by blogging the whole sorry episode.
Moral of the story: When it comes to bike shops, listen to your gut.

I'm off to a barbeque to chill out, have a beer and hopefully meet up with our UK-based Kiwi friends, currently back in NZ to visit family.

And relax.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One acronym begets another

In the last five weeks, our previously mentioned EOI (Expression of Interest) has undergone a metamorphosis. Today, what left this house as bits and bytes - and a large credit card payment - returned in the form of a large courier package containing a large bundle of papers, forms and supporting material which makes up the New Zealand Immigration Service's ITA (Invitation To Apply) - along with a request for another, much larger credit card payment.

If we thought that we'd broken the back of the bureaucracy involved in securing residency, a quick review of the covering letter and checklist put us straight. As well as having to provide panel medical reports, X-rays and police check documentation within the next ten days (before their six month lifespan expires - we had them for a while), we now have to provide all the 'proof' documentation to support our claims in the EOI. This might sound fairly straightforward but I have discovered that one of the companies I worked for in the '90s has been swallowed up by another and getting proof of employment might be difficult.

To be honest, my heart sank upon realising that we're in for another extended bout of paperchasing and cajoling folks into providing evidenciary documents. Being in the middle of two very heavy weeks at work, I am finding it hard to work up the enthusiasm right now, even thought the ultimate goal is what we've spent over two years working towards. Recognising this, I have decided to stop beating myself up, stuff it all back into the courier pouch, grab a beer and take a night off, as has SWMBO. What that really means is that she's surfing real estate web sites for houses and I'm catching up on email and paperwork. I suspect I'll last all of 30 minutes before I give up and wander off to watch House, followed by the superb James Spader/William Shatner double act in Boston Legal.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

From spring to autumn

It was only when I was on my second St Patrick's Day Guinness that I realised why the date of the Paddy's Day posters looked familiar - March 17th was the expiry date on the original visitor's visa in my passport meant that we have been in New Zealand for exactly six months. I thought I'd ask the rest of the family to say what they have liked the most and least about the last six months and here's what they said.

  • MOST: Seeing the children exhilarated by outdoor activities; driving to school through rolling countryside rather than city streets.
  • LEAST: Not having old friends on hand to share great experiences; missing Radio 4 - and our old milkman.
No. 2
  • MOST: Lots more opportunities at school and home like softball, sailing, cheerleading; swimming with dolphins; lots of new friends.
  • LEAST: Being away from friends; the mosquitoes.
  • MOST: Swimming with dolphins; the great weather; the views; athletics and swimming
  • LEAST: Seeing lots of roadkill; the dangerous roads and drivers.
  • MOST: Watching sunsets; feeding roosters and cows; going to Kindy and friend's houses.
  • LEAST: "Nothing's bad about New Zealand".
  • MOST: Seeing the kids reveling in their new surroundings; more time doing fun family stuff outdoors; laid back attitudes; beautiful countryside.
  • LEAST: Lack of cycling buddies, old friends and trusted colleagues; no old stone buildings; favourite pubs and The Lahore restaurant.
However, the fact that No.1 is in her room, hates me and is generally exhibiting all the teenager symptoms of parent-itis proves that, regardless of what country we are in, some things don't change. That said, the last six months have seen our family grow and change in ways that means that we look forward to the next six with hope, excitement and expectation - and just the occasional look over our shoulders.

A midweek teatime picnic - one of our new family activities

There is another noteworthy event this weekend - SWMBO is launching her own blog. Whilst she is certainly not a Luddite, SWMBO is not an early adopter of most technology and has a pathological aversion to reading instruction manuals of any kind. This combination means that it has took the insertion of 12,000 miles between SWMBO and her friends to prompt her to embrace email as quick and effective way of closing that gap. A few weeks back, to support her first business venture, she put up a branded web presence and added a separate email address. This week, she has decided to put up a blog. Like me, she tried to keep friends and relatives up to date with family news and adventures with emails but has, I think, found it difficult to ensure that she gets the same news to everyone who wants to know and remember who has read what. I have just managed to sneak a quick preview and I can see that I am going to have to raise my game. So, if you have always wondered what SWMBO has to say for herself or why on Earth she puts up with me, head on over to A Word From Wendy to find out - and now you know what her name is!