The New Zealand Chapter

We have commenced our next Great Adventure, landing in Auckland on Thursday afternoon.  Happily, and strangely (for us), we actually had someone to collect us from the airport on our arrival in Strange New Land.  Ang and I were mates at college and caught up last year when we had our whirlwind tour of NZ.  Matilda calls her Angelina Ballerina and this may have affected her childish memories of Ang as she whispered to me straight away “Is that the same Angelina?” and later that night was still confused about whether we were with the right person.  The main difference being that last time Angelina had “yellow hair and a white face”.  Strange.  She still looks the same to me!

Air NZ flight this time, another exciting aspect for us as usually it’s Jetstar all the way.  After the Tasmania Bag Episode I was keen to fly with anyone else and happily Air NZ were having a 4 day special that was well cheaper than any other airline right on the dates we wanted to fly.  So, lots of ceiling height, our own tellies and free food, not to mention customer service FAR exceeding that of the budget airlines (allocating us 3 seats to ourselves, offering us extra drinks, asking if we require assistance, providing a speedy departure card so we go to the front of lines etc).  I am a big fan and interestingly a lot of people I’ve mentioned this to also admit that their best flying experiences have been with the Kiwi airline, so yay for Air NZ and I hope I haven’t jinxed myself now!

We are staying at a Bible College, believe it or not.  Ang works here and lives on campus and it turns out the guest room was available and about $40 where the cheapest hotel was around $64 (All Seasons, was Formula 1 in the CBD, where we stayed last time).  Not bad considering we are here for a few days.

Anyway: I hid my Kiwi SIM so well after the last trip I couldn’t find it so our first task was to get a new one.  Considering it only cost $NZ20 (about $AU15) it’s not a bad idea if you’re going to be in NZ for anything longer than a stopover.  I went with 2 Degrees, like last time, as it was remarkably cheap.  And once again, after surfing the net, sending a dozen texts to Australia and a few more to Ang in NZ I still had a little over $18 left.  That would’ve sucked my prepaid credit dry with miserly old Telstra.

On that note, Telstra have been total barstools regarding the modem.  2 hours on the phone being transferred around India only to be told it would cost me MORE THAN THE PRICE OF THE MODEM to have the damn thing unlocked from the Telstra network.  Apparently it decreases to $27.50 after you’ve owned the modem for 6 months (oh wow, how generous giant ripoff telco).  Point being: I already OWN the bloody thing you wankers!!  And it’s not even as though I am wanting to use it with another Aussie carrier (although I have a strong desire to do that NOW) – I want it to go overseas!!  Anyway, bought one yesterday in NZ.  Cost me $NZ99 ($AU80) and for the ironic icing on the cake: it comes already UNLOCKED.  And the reception has already proved a lot faster/more reliable than crummy Telstra.

Definitely taking this one back to Oz to use with an alternative carrier.

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The low road…

While I’m procrastinating…might as well continue.  So, the UK have altered their immigration rules YET AGAIN (not sure if I’ve already updated that…) primarily they have raised the level of earnings that you need to qualify for the visa so high I can’t imagine EVER earnings that much. 

Plan B was to use the funds from selling the house to go back as a student, but for whatever reason…maybe my impending 30th…I have started to rethink it all, and perhaps trying to get back to Scotland is not what I should be doing with my life.

It breaks my heart – honestly, my emotional reaction often surprises me…but I can’t go on living like a gypsy.  I want to have a home.  I want my daughter to have a home.  It’s not so much the stuff that I want, heaven knows it was so liberating to sell everything last year and I certainly don’t want to leap into that process of accumulating crap again, but a place and having a life certainly appeal.  All up it’s I’ve spent 10 years trying to make Scotland my home, and my efforts seems to be doing more damage than good.

We have been back in Australia 5 years, 2 months, 14 days and about 6 hours, and every day I have woken up thinking that this could be the day we go back to Scotland.  So I have not applied or accepted great jobs.  I have not bought a (proper) car.  I have held back from people who might have become good friends.  I have spent countless hours scrolling through immigration websites when I could have been spending time with my daughter.

I have put my real life on hold while waiting for my imaginary life to begin.  OMG I have become that cliche.  The frustrating part is, if someone had told me 5 years ago that it would take this long, then I could have taken a job back then and had 5 years experience by now, instead of the patchworked work history I have pieced together all the while keeping one eye on the door…

It can’t continue.  As frustrated as I am with it all, as gut wrenching as it is whenever there’s a reference to the UK in the paper, or something on the TV about Scottish islands or haggis, I feel surprisingly calm about it all.  Perhaps deep down I am so relieved to be able to hang up the pick I’ve been using to chip away at the mountain of UK immigration…

I haven’t given up.  Not by any means.  I am pressing a 5 year pause button though.  I hope it won’t take that long, but I want to prepare myself better this time.  With no hope of the Tier 1 visa, and being disinclined to throw all my savings at study (which seems a waste of time after my Masters and anyway offers no guarantee of work or PR), my best option is to find work and start gaining experience so in a couple of years I can start applying for jobs in the UK and get sponsored to go back.

Life is what happens to you / while you’re busy making other plans

Elite travel – caravan parks!

Yikes!  Our attempt at just roaming along til we find somewhere we like and pulling in will have to come to an end.  Had booked hostel in Bridport but reached there at lunch time (nice, albeit strange, beach; great pies but not much happening) so figured we’d push on.

Just out of Launceston

As the day drew on we stopped to look up a few places on the web and found most booking up.  Finally got a cabin at a caravan park in Beauty Point but paid about 3x what we were going to pay in the hostel – $119!!!

Interesting old house in NE Tas

It was awesome to be in a cabin – with kitchen, bathroom and separate bedroom.  We could live in a cabin.

Still nothing on the job front…alternatively stressful and depressing.  Must be something to do with getting older but I am so ready to be starting to build my home.  Not ‘settling’ ie: stopping any old place, but finally getting back to Scotland, finding our place somewhere and just the simple concept of being able to purchase furniture we need without having to worry about how I’m going to sell it or ship it overseas…

Plus, M is getting older.  She will start school next year and we still haven’t lived anywhere that I can actually give her her own room…

Frustrating, but working in China has kick started the visa process and so long as I can find a job here soon we should be on our way next year.

Can’t wait!

Tas MANIA

I don’t know why but that’s the way Tasmania sounds in my head.  So, we are here now – the butt of Oz, the underbelly of the great south land.  Actually it’s quite nice.  The weather is making me deliriously happy after the dirty, grey frozen-ness of Ningbo and the muggy fog of Queensland.  It’s perfect Autumn weather – the kind I didn’t think existed in Australia.  You know – the sun is shiny and warm without trying to burn the hairs off your skin.

We are in Launceston.  My great-aunt was born here, I think.  Her sister (my grandmother) was not so sometime around 1910 my family were here and then away.  Speaking with a random old guy in the lounge tonight who is from Melbourne but over here to go to Launceston hospital.  Perhaps that is what my great grandmother decided for the birth of my great aunt Frances?  Who knows…I’d like to find out but somehow having Matilda in tow always seems to spoil my travel daydreams.

For example: booked in to use the public library internet.  Barely 10 mins passed and only just scratching the surface of car hire companies to find the bargains when she starts shouting “Pee Pee, Pee Pee” like a demented budgie.  Hissed and glowered threateningly at her but when the screaming in my head started to make me dizzy we had to leave.

Dragged her across town to Maccas figuring free wifi with chips might work better, but she got stuck right up the top of their playground and started howling and while dozens around me were happily checking email or facebook, MY computer refused to connect.  Dejected walk home.  Stumbled across Officeworks and bought a Telstra prepaid wireless dongle thingy.  Hate to give those greedy bastards any more of my money but can’t trust the coverage of anyone else, especially when we don’t actually know where we live.  Salesman was slightly nuts – kept going on about bedsheets then started asking me where Matilda’s dad was and how soon he’d be joining us in Tas…

More about the backpackers later…

On the road again…

Well, almost!

Amanda is moving into her mansion on the hill in a few short weeks…and needs to rent this place out to afford her new lifestyle (insert chuckle)…

Rather than being an inconvenience, I can only see it as an opportunity, or an excuse, or whatever you’d like to label it – it’s a chance for us to be free!  After more than 4 years of dreaming, scheming and having hopes dashed, we will finally be on our way far away from here…

Although I have had grandios plans in the past, I have tried to apply the KISS principle to this move.  We will sell up what we can at a garage sale, store things ready to be shipped to us when we finally ‘settle down’, and head to NZ (just next door).

I have been applying for jobs, but so far no joy (more on that later), so we may have to plan as though we are heading over there for a 3 week trip, and see where it takes up (which, between you and me, is definitely my preferred mode of travel, but it is apparently not an acceptable philosophy for a mother!)

So excited!

Kaikoura ranges, NZ

Kaikoura ranges…>sigh<…brilliant.

Why are we not there already???