30 June 2009

Explore Wellington City Orientation Tour: Winter theme

You are invited to our Explore Wellington City: Orientation Tour for newcomers on Saturday 18 July 2009 from 9.30am-3pm. It will be a great opportunity to learn about the city, using public transport and walks around the city. Our seats are strictly limited, please register with us. First come first serves. For more information, please contact Jirayu at 803 8330 or settlementsupport@ wcc.govt. nz.

Please feel free to pass it on to your friends, families and network.

Have a great day!

Jirayu Chotimongkol
Settlement Coordinator
Settlement Support New Zealand

Wellington City Council
PO Box 2199,
101 Wakefield Street,
New Zealand

Direct Dial: (64) 4 803 8706
Website: www.wellington. govt.nz/move

26 June 2009

Gone too soon

I was shocked, just as I'm sure a lot of people the world over are, over this news of Michael Jackson's death today. It was just so unexpected. Having watched on TV when I was a kid and bought this bubble gum on foil with picture cards of him inside, I consider Michael Jackson as part
of my generation, and just knowing people of my generation passing away just makes me accutely aware of my own mortality.

Michael Jackson was part of many Christmases. We owned this long playing record of The Jackson 5 Christmas album which, when played by my father for the first time in any given year, signals the start of the Christmas season in our home and we would excitedly bring out the Christmas tree to put up and decorate.

But as I identify him with many childhood memories, he was, essentially a person whose childhood was robbed by his popularity. He was a curiosity to many people. But his passing away brought up the fact that he is, after all, just like all of us. A man who has no more control over life than any of us. But one thing's for sure: he did extraordinary things.

You will be missed.

24 June 2009

Coping with winter the comfy way

We are nearing the end of the first month of winter. Some people I have talked to say the worst is yet to come, with August being the month to watch for. Others say we're pretty much experiencing what will happen for the next couple of months, with the temperature dipping every now and then when the wind picks up. I've also had a friend mention that winter is getting colder indeed; it does not go to 1 degree Centigrade in the past few years!

What that tells me is that the weather can be unpredictable. And it has not disappointed me so far. One early morning you get strong winds and rain, then a couple of hours later the sun is out shining, making you wonder where you will cram your extra jacket and rainwear later on.

Back at home, I decided to move the internet connection and TV into our room since we simply chat, watch TV, talk over the phone, surf the web, or play with Jo-Lo after dinner. All these we can do in the room, and then we do not have to turn on the heater at the living and dining area. So we have done just that. Overall, it's been grand. My wife quipped on the first night, "it's just like being in a hotel room!"

That, it is. Now the only thing lacking is room service.

20 June 2009

Jo-Lo's extended birthday celebration

A simple dinner made special by friends.

Everybody brought something to the table, but more importantly they brought laughter and merriment to this special day.

Happy, happy birthday, Jo-Lo!

18 June 2009

Jo-Lo is 4 years old today!

Happy, happy birthday Jo-Lo!

We celebrated this special day with a simple dinner with Joel's family. We had a grand time, with the kids rendering American Idol songs toward the latter part of the evening.

08 June 2009

Old Coach Road Heritage Trail

Yesterday, the sun shone bright all through the morning and into the early afternoon that Jo-Lo and I decided to take a little walk. I learned from a resident in the area who was at the bus stop with me one time that there was a nature trail very near us, and so I thought about taking a visit one of these days. And yesterday was just the perfect day for it.

So at 2PM, Jo-Lo and I set off to find 'Bag End' :-).

The track is indeed very near us, about only 5 minutes' walk from our house! The signage below is taken from one of the many other entries to the path that you will find along the way. The one below has some brochures attached to the signpost. Really convenient.

From the Explore Wellington brochure, I learned that the Old Coach Heritage Trail is part of the Skyline Track, which spans 12kms and up to 5 hours to traverse, and is challenging in areas, requiring reasonable fitness to complete the traverse.

And here is a bit of information about Old Coach Road:
Old Coach Road was the first formed road that connected Johnsonville with Ohariu Valley. Built between 1856 and 1858, its popular name is flawed as no coaches ever used the road.

Nevertheless, it is recognised as one of the finest horse-era roads in New Zealand and has a Category 1 Historic Places Act registration. The road was altered by earthworks at the Johnsonville end but is otherwise well-preserved. The purchase of land either side of Old Coach Road has allowed Wellington City Council to protect and manage this area.

The start of the track is a well-trodden path, which I believe was created more by bikes than by footsteps. The right side affords a beautiful view of the town.
Bushes with bright yellow flowers grow abundantly on both sides. They look nice, but they have a rather nasty side as they have sharp thorns covering their stems. I got scratched actually as I accidentally brushed by. Curiously enough, some tips have this spider-web-like things wrapped about it. I would like a closer look but it eerily looks like something alien might come out of it so I didn't dare poke it around (yep, been watching too many movies).
Here's some more shots of the town and the nearby areas:

We finally got to the hilly areas. We thought it will be a rough climb but after only ten minutes or so, we were already at the top!
The trail is marked by these yellow directional signs.

This is the view of the town from the top:

And what's at the opposide side of the hills? Rolling hills as far as the eyes can see! It was amazing.
The top was exposed to the elements, and the cold wind was something to contend with, and so after munching on our snacks, we decided to go back, but not after a little detour into one of the many trails that branch off.

We saw this bench with a plaque mounted to the rock nearby.
We got back home at around 4:30. That was a nice walk! We hope to be back again, weather permitting.

04 June 2009

My first snowfall that never was

Last Sunday was an exceptionally extraordinary day. My son and I were left at home while my wife went off to the CBD for her part-time work. It was a gloomy, overcast sky, and the wind occasionally howled through the fence, warning us to just stay in the house. And that we did.

By mid-morning it had started to rain. But there was a different noise to it altogether. It was like small stones were being thrown on the roof. I knew what it was and a peek through the curtain confirmed that: we were having hailstones. The pebble-like ice were jumping about the grass and on the pavement. That was fun! A few minutes later, it suddenly stopped and the sun began to shine. Yes! Finally some heat! I opened the curtains to let the light in. But only about 10 minutes had passed by when the sun decided to hide and there came another onslaught of hail! So I drew the curtains again to keep away the cold. After an hour or so, the sun started peeking out again and I opened the curtains once more. But soon afterwards, it started raining again, and then more hail! Is this weather unpredictable or what?

We soon got tired of anticipating the weather changes and looked to the TV, internet, and games to keep us occupied.

My wife arrived soon after and then she asked? "Were you able to see it?" "See what?", I asked. "The snow", she replied.

Whaaaattt. It snowed? "At around 2PM, something like thinly-shaved ice were gliding and wafting about in the air", she said. "When the wind would blow, these things would get blown about and swirl with the wind. It was beautiful. Some landed on my jacket and I saw my first snow!" I can only stare.

The following day, we visited friends (it was the Queen's birthday and was a holiday across New Zealand) and they talked once again about the snow of yesterday, which lasted for 10-15 minutes. Was I bummed out that I was not able to experience it!

It was the first ever snowfall that I never had.

01 June 2009

What a game!

As we say in the Philippines, "it's a cardiac game!" Ongoing Scrabble with Mia R. on Facebook.
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