We have finally managed to get some sort of internet connection so here come the beginning of the tale of the Jensen-Allens adventures in New Zealand.
After what turned out to be a stressful morning and drive from Nottingham to Heathrow (including a queue on the M25, yes that was fun) in an overloaded Astra, we arrived at the check-in in Heathrow. We managed to wangle (courtesy of LanzaTech) Premium check in.... what a difference a couple of minutes make. Everything got checked in (all 110 kg of check in luggage), we got our seats moved so Freya could have a bassinet. Through security and just time for a snack and a gin and tonic before we made our way to the gate.
On board we had loads of space on the floor in front of us so Freya could sit and play until we started taxing to the runway, and pre-take off drinks were served. When we were in the air a three course meal was served with a lovely Pinot Noir (Soho or something like that). Oh yes and cheese and port. A bit into the flight Freya fell asleep and slept pretty much until afternoon tea was served (approx 2 h before landing). As Freya also wanted a little snack we asked if there were any bananas left, which it turned out there was... the co-pilots... Hope he didn't go hungry.
LAX...... what is there to say? Immigration control took 2 hours (where Freya managed to do the impossible task of making an American Immigration Officer smile), the people we had booked to come and store some of our luggage took quite a bit longer than they said but finally 4 hours after disembarking the plane (11 pm local time) we were checked in to our lovely hotel room and we all got some well deserved sleep in real beds. Unfortunately Freya decided that 3am was a good time to wake up and play. So we did:
Fortunately she was sleepy again after an hour of play and a spot of food.
The next day we just spent in the hotel (mainly the room) sleeping and relaxing. and then it was time for the next leg of our journey. We decided to check in nice and early again to try to get a bassinet for Freya, which we succeeded in again. But after security, where Freya yet again managed to pull off the impossible by making a TSA agent smile this time, LAX reared it's ugly head again. The terminal was pretty much two bars, a tax free, a coffee shop and one or two more shops and some seats. So 3 and a half hour here was hmmm not exactly inspiring. Any airport that make Heathrow seem luxurious should be torn down and rebuild.
The flight again was a nice experience, Freya slept most of the way and we had a lovely meal with wine, watched a movie and again managed a bit of sleep.
Finally we landed in Auckland where both Immigration and Customs were no problem but they had some difficulties getting the luggage off the aeroplane which took awhile. Stephen from Auckland Homefinders was on hand to pick us up and after driving us to our new home in St Heliers he made sure we had the necessities and later took us shopping for plates, pots, pans etc in a very cheap shop, and the quality is there after but it will do us till our own stuff arrives. After a day of feeling very jet lagged and trying to just get the basics sorted (like getting the house to a temperature that is bearable and renting a car so we can get around and do some more serious shopping) we went down to St Heliers beach for a little walk and accidentally caught the sunset.
The rest of the week has been spent sorting things out and generally spending a scary amount of money. Setting up household is not cheap, but luckily TradeMe (ebay for kiwies) has come to the rescue with (what we hope is) some great second hand deals. Washing machine is in the garage (plugged in) my bike arrives tomorrow and the fridge freezer will be delivered Monday or Tuesday. So now we "just" need to sort out phone, internet and TV (including buying a TV).
Yesterday afternoon at 4pm I went into LanzaTech to have Friday drinks with my new colleagues, which apparently is a reoccurring event every Friday at 4. The company is located in the basement of an art college and is a very different set up from what I am used to. Looking forward to starting on Monday.
Since we had spent all week doing serious things we decided we needed a day out. So today (Saturday) we went to Piha one of the West Coast beaches through the Waitakere Ranges, which is a small mountain range covered in rainforest. Here we stopped at the Arataki Visitors Centre, which is a lovely Centre with platforms in the tree top canopy and stunning views over Manukau Harbour and the Tasman sea
AND the Pacific Ocean and Auckland. Here we also went on a small walk in the forest mainly consisting of Tea Trees, Tree ferns (Silver and Black) and several tree types which seems to have only Maori names I can't remember.
From here we went on west to Pahi with it's black volcanic sand and great surf making it very popular with surfers. We made do with dipping our toes in the Tasman Sea and letting Freya have her first barefooted walk on sand. She also fell in love with a rock (sand) pool and was not happy when evil mummy and daddy wouldn't let walk in to the deep middle or sit down in the water.
After a LOVELY day out we are now enjoying a nice glass of Pinot in front of our wood burner while Freya is fast asleep in bed. Until next time....