Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holiday Weekend coming up

Today is the last day of the working week - tomorrow is Christchurch Show Day. Traditionally its a screaming hot nor'west day but its come a day early so we've got that today. Apparently the forecast is for thunderstorms over the weekend. Fabulous. Hard to believe that on Monday I was wearing a jacket, scarf and jersey and the last 2 days have been true summer weather.

Normally in a shorter week I'd be in a big panic trying to fit 5 days work into 4 but for some reason I haven't been in panic mode this week. Not really sure why. Maybe its the after effects of the 3 week holiday last month. I've been trying to remember when the last time was that I took more than 1 week's holiday and I can't remember. Even though I try to get a couple of weeks off over Christmas and New Year, some of that time is spent at home and inevitably I end up doing some work over that period. The joys of self employment. It must be true that holidays are good for you if I still feel relaxed about life. More likely is that I've overlooked something and just before I leave tonight I'll find it and then have to come back to work over the weekend.

That sounded very pessimistic and that's not what I meant at all. I enjoy what I do - I just have to work out how to do it more efficiently and earn a better income.

The photo is taken L.A. and is of an unknown but fabulous tree - I think Dr. Seuss must have been American because these are the trees in his books!

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Trip Report: Getting to the UK

Venice Beach, L.A. - 10am(ish)

I've decided that I really need to do a trip report because they're such fun - for me anyway. This first part will cover the getting to the UK because it was a bit of an adventure, mostly because it took 48 hours instead of the expected (and usual) 24.

We flew from Christchurch to Auckland to catch the international flight without any problems and sat in the Koru Lounge (thank goodness for mothers that are members) snacking on free food and reading interesting magazines whilst waiting to be called for our flight, which never happened! First of all there were technical delays and then at about 11.30pm, there was an announcement that they were going to change the engine(!!!) on the plane and we were going to have to overnight in Auckland. Personally, I'm all for changing the engine if there's any issues.

So we were loaded onto buses and shipped out to a hotel for the night, what was left of it considering we had to be back downstairs for the bus at 5.30am. That was a definite challenge. My mother and I decided that we'd have separate rooms because we could and both had an excellent, although short, night's sleep.

Once we were back at the airport (and ensconced in the lounge again) we were told we could spend the day in Auckland and catch that evening's flight or take the flight to L.A. and overnight there. We decided to do that because neither of us had spent any time in L.A. and it would give us half a day there. Loaded up and flew off without any issues.

For some reason our luggage was REALLY slow coming out in L.A. so we were on the last shuttle to the hotel and by the time our bus got there, there was no room left at the inn. Loaded back onto the bus and to another (better) hotel where I eventually staggered into bed at 2.30am local time. Up and meeting mother for breakfast by 8.30am which is really good going for me.

My mother had met another passenger on the flight at breakfast who had found out about a bus tour that left in half an hour so there was a bit of a rush on my part to a. eat and b. pack out of the room before going! Made it though. We were the only 3 from our flight doing the tour - most of the others had opted to sleep in and try going for a walk later.

The tour was called a Hollywood tour and it was excellent. I came away from the tour wanting to come back to L.A. and having a good explore. The first part was hilarious as we went to the tour company's depot where we paid for our tour and were sorted onto the appropriate buses. Included in our fee was free popcorn! Not at that time of the a.m. for me I'm afraid but people did take advantage of it - it smelt a bit revolting on the bus later.

I couldn't get over the brightness of the light. I wasn't expecting it as NZ is considered to be bright but I'd have to say that I found L.A. brighter. I had my glasses on so hadn't brought my sunglasses with me and thoroughly regretted it. I spent most of the morning with my eyes all squinted up and watering. Mind you, I'm not sure that I would have been able to get my lenses in anyway. Venice Beach, which was our first stop, was completely blinding - the photo really does not show the glare.

The only other problem we had was that we had no US money as we weren't expecting to be there at all. There was a mid-morning break to allow shopping and my mother and I had to run around and try to find somewhere to change money so we could buy water. Ridiculous really.

So thoroughly enjoyed our tour. When we got back to the hotel the others told us that they'd tried to go out walking but there was nowhere to go. I'd heard before that L.A. is a car city and that people don't walk anywhere but had forgotten that so was glad we'd done the tour thing.

The flight from L.A. to the UK was absolutely horrendous as the airline had put 2 flights together and the plane was completely full. Not a spare seat anywhere. So it was noisy, hot, crowded, queues for the toilets and we had terrible seats in the middle and not together! Do not want that experience again. Didn't sleep on that leg at all.

Once we got to Heathrow we had to wait for at least 30 minutes on the tarmac while our slot was cleared. That was a real pain but we seemed to go through customs fairly quickly. Because we'd now arrived on a Sat instead of a Fri E & T had come out to meet us which was fabulous. So great to see them and they escorted us to their flat.

To be continued.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Giant boulders

Castle Hill on Saturday

Its been ages since I've been on here but I've been having lots of adventures - the main one being a holiday in the UK to visit my sister and her husband. Lots of fun but I did catch her cold and its particularly revolting - thank goodness for the day/night drugs that dry you up so you can at least function and don't end up with a sore & red nose.

Last Saturday (first weekend back) I went up to Castle Hill with the Ellesmere Camera Club for a day shooting artistic photos. I must confess to not feeling particularly artistic but did get a couple of shots I'm happy with. I don't have a fancy camera and lens so am a bit limited with what I can do but it was fun and nice to get out and about in some lovely weather.

The rocks are fabulous. When we first got there, there were only a couple of people mooching around but by the time we left there were quite a few rock climbers scrambling around having fun. Definitely a young person's game - they were all very fit and enthusiastic.