Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snow, pressies and food. . .

Ok, so, not much to say really - but about three different things to have photos of :)
First up the other day we had dinner with Mel and Mike and stopped to take photos of the pretty Christmas tree that was in the church yard opposite the inn where we ate :)

The reason that I'm looking down in the last photo is cause it was actually the first photo Mike took, he didn't give us warning that he was about to take it and I was too busy looking at the pretty, pretty snow. . .
We then went in and had really really yummy food and made a toast to Shelley's mummy cause it had been her birthday the other week:

We received a packet from NZ that included a friend for our centipede (the one that lives above our bed, see previous post - "And We're Back" posted February 09), so we have named him Thomas the Turtle (I decided he just has a 'he' vibe, in spite of the fact he is pink/purple and sparkly) so now he too is above our bed, see if you can spot him:

We've also been all energetic and bakey as part of the "Xmas Spirit" (that's in quotation marks cause we don't really DO the Xmas spirit) and, as Shelley always says, I love to play with my food, so here's some photographic proof of this:

And FINALLY, last but, nost definitely not least. . .One of my workmates was going away for Christmas and needed someone to look after her hamster - being the animal lover I am, I put up my hand and said "yes please, I'll have him!!" He is an adorable little guy called Stripes (he has a stripe running down his back) who comes running to the side of his cage when he hears our voices. . .He also came with a ball and when we let him out to 'roll' around, he is always bumping into the walls and things. . .(or us if we are on the floor) so here he is, the cute little guy:

Isn't he a cutie-pie????
Anyway, that's all for me - I'm off to ice cookies with my darling wife. . .
Big Loves, hugs and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. . .(or at least, the three of you who we know definitely read it)

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm dreaming....

So, it appears that we might, just might get our wish for a white Christmas after all, without having to leave the U.K. It started snowing last night and pretty much hasn't really stopped.

I finished work at 10:00 last night and walked home in the snow. It was kinda nice (but really cold) it also kinda reminded me why we are living here. To experience new things and have adventures. We have been so wrapped up in work and the daily grind I forgot that. Walking home last night with snow falling on my eyelashes and in my hair I rememebered why Amber and I are doing this and I was happy. (and cold).

Anyway peeps (read: Mum & Dad & Poppa Lidds) we took some photos from the windows of our appartment.
Behold the Whiteness:

And on another note of adventures. Last month we went to see the Decemberists play at the Coronet in London and this month we went to see Modest Mouse play at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. We took these photos just before we left to catch our train.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Nuns on the run

Hello all.
One thing that we have discovered living over here is that people really like to celebrate Halloween. So this year we decided that we would dress up as nuns for Halloween. The four of us. Mel, Mike, Amber and myself. I'm still not sure how Mel convinced Mike to agree to go as a nun but somehow she did and so last night found us all in our living room getting into our costumes and laughing our heads off. Proof to follow:

We all walked to the party from our apartment which was just down the road but we managed to get quite a bit of attention from the cars on the way, also some other Halloween'ers (is that even a word?) asked us if we were real nuns! I am thinking that they didn't notice that Sister Mary Peculiar was really Sister Mary Mike or they wouldn't have asked!

Amber was Sister Mary Catnip and I was Sister Mary Apathetic. Mel was Sister Mary Discombobulated. (Sister Mary Disco for short).
Sister Mary Catnip took her inspiration from this photo:Sister Mary Disco and Sister Mary Apathetic looking slightly sinful while Sister Mary Peculiar looks on in shock....

Our hosts were Morticia and Gomez Addams.

Also attending were Amy Winehouse and Dexter.

As the evening wore on Amber became slightly less nunish.....

So there you have it. Another Halloween in the U.K Another fun evening survived without too much of hangover the following morning.

Ooh and before I go, We finally got a skin for our new laptop. See....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mmmm Cake....

'Lo all, thought that as we haven't been anywhere or done anything much of late I would post some photos of Mels Birthday cake and other stuff (mostly my wife being her normal insane self)
On with the show....

After we had Mels birthday dinner we all played some games, the following photo is a little fuzzy due to the fact that I had partaken of the delicious elderflower wine from the fantastic cider shed at Middle Farm. One of the great things about living over here is the farm shops that are around. Middle Farm also has a cider shed full of barrels and barrels of cider and fruit wines and is run by a very nice man who makes all the cider and is very knowledgeable about ciders and such. Oh and also encourages lots of taste testing....

The next photos are from my anniversary present to Amber.....

So to explain a little, the red ribbon that she is tangled in in the last photo is what was tied around her present. I led the ribbon from the present on the table to the front door to the apartment complex about 20 meters in all. The idea being to follow the ribbon to her surprise. After she unwrapped her present and we had a big munch on all the food she decided that she wanted to play with the ribbon a bit. I found this image a couple of days later on the Internet.... anybody notice any similarities?

So.... moving right along. This last photo is of Dan's baby Houdini (Dini for short) He is about 7 months old now ( I think) and he is soooo cute!

So, I guess that is all for now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hello all. . .I decided it was time you heard from me in a nice long babbling blog post! Why babbling you ask? Well, I plan on writing this much as I think it and therefore, as if I was talking to you all and as we all know, I babble (Interjection from Shelley - no Amber, you babble? Never!) Now that I've said that of course my mind has gone blank and I feel under pressure to get something written. . .Isn't it amazing the pressure we put on ourselves to perform to somebodies standard? Who is this person whose standard we feel we must perform to? And where to we get the idea that it is important we must perform to it?
ANYWAY - I have two pieces of, pretty major, information for you. . .One which won't really interest you, but affects me hugely and therefore I'm going to tell you all about and the other which, those of whom have been following our trials and tribulations over here, will be very interested to hear!! And having said that, and because I'm just mean, I'm now going to tell you the one which you probably won't be very interested in. . .On Saturday I received a phone call from one of my colleagues at the school telling me that the Maths Teacher passed away on Friday night. He went home from school after a staff meeting and sufferred from a Brain Aneurism. Which is basically a blood clot that suddenly bursts (at least, that's how it was explained to me). He was extremely healthy and only in his mid-thirties so it was a HUGE shock for us all. He also has two children, one of whom is only four months old, so that's another gut-wrenching aspect of the whole thing. It's been very tough for us all at school, especially yesterday when we told the kids. Some of them have never experienced Death before and as this was such a sudden death, it's even worse. His wife is waiting on a postmortem before taking his body back to Romania where he will be buried in their home village (even more heartbreaking is the thought of the poor woman who is not even at home!). But we will be holding a Memorial Service for him at school on Thursday afternoon so that the boys can all say goodbye to him. It's proving to be a very very tough week for us all.
Now, what else was I going to talk about in this e-mail. . .I'm sure there was something. . .dum de dum. . .nah, just kidding! For those of you who have been following the Visa saga, please skip this bit. . .For those of you who don't know the whole story, keep reading. . .Before we left NZ we applied for a visa for Shelley based on the fact she would be travelling with me, a member of the European Union. The visa was called an EEA (European Economic Alliance) Family visa. It basically means that if a person from a member country of the EEA has a family member who is NOT a member of the EEA they would like to travel with, they can. We received the visa and a letter that stated once she arrived in the UK she had to apply for a Residence Card before working. We thought that would be a simple matter of ringing someone up and getting it sent out - boy were we WRONG. The "visa" we had applied for in NZ was apparently only an Entry Permit and Shelley had to reapply for another visa. But, before she could do that, I (as a member of an EEA country) had to prove I could support her and that we weren't just bludging off the Government. Which meant I had to get a job. One month later in November of last year, I scored my full time job at the school and the huge application was filled in and sent off, including all of our passports and our wedding certificate. At the end of December we received a letter from the Home Office stating that they had received our application and that it would take approximately 6 months to process and that we would hear from them within that time. However, in July, we still hadn't heard from them and thus, attempted to contact them. In case you don't know, when phoning ANYONE in England, it is VERY hard to talk to an ACTUAL person. There's a lot of: If you are calling about this then press one, etc etc. The first number Shelley had got her a person who said, Oh, you're calling about THAT - you need this number. . .and rattled off a number. Shelley then phoned that number, pressed all the right buttons and after about five minutes the automated voice said "Thank you for your call" and hung up. So she tried again. Same thing. And again. So, she went on the website and e-mailed them her query. An automated response was received saying that if we were e-mailing about a visa application then, due to security reasons, they couldn't tell us anything via e-mail however if it was an EEA Family visa, there was a backlog and they were hoping to be up to "normal operation procedures" by DECEMBER 2009!!! (We were not amused!) I would like to remind you that this means we had been without our passports for seven months. . .another two months goes by. . .Nine (almost ten) months without passports. . .Then, on Friday a week ago we received another letter from the Home Office. This one saying that they needed some recent evidence that the "Member of the EEA" (ie, me) is practising the rights of the EEA treaty. (ie, working). Now, when we first applied, we sent my contract as proof, but, as they had taken so long to get to the application that the contract was almost a year old. Which we personally thought was their damn fault! HOWEVER, we gathered together every payslip from both of the two jobs I've been working from the past 11 months, wrote a note explaining why they were from two different places and sent it off. . . .

A week passed. . . .

As we lay in bed on Saturday enjoying our sleep-in, there came a knock on our apartment door. As we have a buzzer to get into the building, we thought nothing of it and went back to our sleep-in. When I checked the mail I saw a "While you were out" card addressed to Shelley saying that they had a large letter that required a signature for her to pick up. It had a time that they called and an instruction to wait 4 hours from that time before picking up the item. Being a Saturday, that time meant the post office collection building would be closed, and not open again until Monday. . . .

Right. . .so, YAY! Visa!! And Passports!!
Also, the above photo was taken with our new fandangled computer, which has a built in camera (So, Ma and Pa Watson, if you would like to do a web cam chat thing - you need to figure it out from your end and let us know when and we will be online!!) YAY for new fandangled things!!!
Ok, so I think you've heard enough babbling from me. . .here's some photos from Wales:

this is Caenarfon Castle in Wales, which is where Charles was crowned Prince of Wales. . .

This is me (obviously) sitting at a point in this place called Newborough, it was a really pretty summer day and it made us think of NZ!
This is Caenarfon Castle again

Grey Seal near Puffin Island
Shelley (well duh) at Newborough

Swallow Falls (or maybe Conwy Falls. . .no, definitely Swallow. . .)
Lighthouse near Puffin Island, and finally:

Gannets taking off from the beach near Penmon Priory. . .

Right, ok, I think that that concludes my ramble. . .
Hope you have enjoyed it and that you haven't been too bored by me. . .
miss you all!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


So this morning as we were sleeping there was a knock on our door which we ignored. Now for those of you who don't know this we live in an apartment building and you need to be buzzed in if you don't have a key. For this reason we did not answer the door. When Amba got up to check the mail she found a card from Royal Post saying that there is a large letter waiting for me that requires my signature. The only thing that I can think it could be is THAT THING WHICH WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR. The really annoying part is that I have to wait four hours before I can mosey down to the P.O to pick it up in person and being a Saturday they close at 2pm. So I can't pick it up until Monday. Argh the torture.... We finally got the internets sorted out so I think there is now a God of the Post Office taking up the God of Technology's place in making our life difficult.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Strange Little Girls

My obsession with Tori Amos started shortly before she was due to come to N.Z as part of a tour for her Under the Pink album. She came and played on December 13 1994. I was already all geared up and rearing to go to see R.E.M play, they came to N.Z on January 28 1995. The tickets were excessively expensive but I think I pleaded and groveled and probably did 10 hours worth of ironing and Mum said I could go (and I think paid for most if not all of the ticket). Anyway there was no chance I was going to be able to go to both so I had to miss seeing Tori. This would have been okay if she came back to N.Z ever again.... alas, she did not. I was so determined to see Tori play I would have gone to Australia if she made it that far (she didn't). I was so very upset to hear that my dearest friend (living in England) got to go and see her play without me that I nearly cried, and I never cry.

All of this bitter disappointment ended last night however because the four of us went to London and went to the Apollo at Hammersmith and got to see her play as part of her Abnormally Attracted to Sin tour. Sitting there grinning like an idiot the entire time, screaming like a mad women and clapping so hard my hands hurt, I can honestly say that last night one of my major life goals was completed. Seeing Tori Amos live was right up there on my list along with visiting the Louvre or riding in a gondola in Venice at sunset. The whole experience was so great that I felt finally, like some of the things I came on this adventure to achieve are being, well, achieved. If were were rich I might have attempted to follow her round on her tour in Europe and become one of those crazy stalker people just so I could hear her play again. It was such a good concert that last night I told Mike that if he crashed the car on the way home from London and we all died that, I would die happy...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We interupt your scheduled programming to bring you this special news bulletin.

The Shambles regret to inform you, the general public, we are unable to update our blog until such time as the very inept British Telecom sort out our phone line, and our Sky and we get a working Laptop. The God of technology is sitting on a cloud and looking down at us and laughing.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ma and Pa's Big Adventure in the U.K (part two)

So hello, first off I decided that we could do with a change around. So hope you all like the new layout. So last post we (being Mum, Amber and I) were about to go off to the Phantom of the Opera and leave Pa behind to collapse in a big mess of exhaustion from the days events!
So good fun was had by all and the Phantom was great and the three girls had an great time. It wasn't so much fun having to catch 3 tubes to get back to the hostel, especially when all we really wanted to do was lie down and go to sleep somewhere but somehow we managed to stay upright and until we got back to the hostel, then we had to climb the Stairway of Hell to get to our rooms so we could collapse into sleep ready to face the next days adventures.

The following day we found a lovely cafe for breakfast and good coffee so we all had a full cooked English breakfast before we set off for the day. The aim for the day was to meander our way down to Hyde Park and through to the other side to meet the tour bus that we had booked. This was a slightly longer walk than first expected as if you have ever been to Hyde Park you will know it is HUGE! Anyway it was a nice day (for a change) and we weren't in a rush so we just sort of went at our own pace looking out for the resident squirrels on the way.

When Amber and I first went to Hyde Park we came across many very tame squirrels that were rather pissy about the fact that we did not have any food to give them so I came up with a plan this time round. At breakfast I told everybody to save some toast so we could take it with us to feed the squirrels. So I am well prepared. I have my toast and am on the hunt for the little critters. You wouldn't believe it, I found ONE freakin squirrel! I couldn't even get near enough to him to offer him some of my toast.

I was rather disgruntled by the lack of squirrels as I really wanted Mum to be able to feed one. We had to give up on the idea though as it became apparent that the little buggers were not going to come out of hiding to meet us.

Anyway on we went to the tour which was a great experience and I would recommend to any one who wanted to know more about London. We learned lots of interesting facts and trivia about London, including my personal fave, The great fire of London was started by a baker!! (just goes to show you can't trust 'em!) We also took a cruise down the Thames to Greenwich which was great, Greenwich looks like a place Amber and I would enjoy going back to at some stage.

Anyway we finished the tour at the same place we started it, so we retraced our steps back through Hyde Park. It was just as well we did as there were squirrels squirrels everywhere. And they were more than happy to solicit themselves for food. I was so happy I got out my toast that I had been carrying around all day, despite the fact that at one point on the bus I was a bit peckish and considered eating it. Any way, I motion for Mum to watch my example and crouch down with the piece of toast in my hand. Faster than you can say 'fur collar' one of the little sod is at my hand pulling the proffered toast towards him, he pauses and gives it a sniff and then just as quickly as he came he runs away again. It turns out that they are picky eaters and toast is not one of their preferred foods. At least Mum got to see the fussy little buggers though, I suppose that is the main thing.

The following day (Monday) we packed up early and were sitting in Victoria Train Station by 10:30am having a pint. We all enjoyed London but part of the enjoyment of such a loud, dirty, crowded, smelly place is being able to leave it and go somewhere that is not London.

We did have quite a few other adventures but I will have to tell them on another session as the Wife has just returned which means I have to go and cook dinner before she beats me again.....
Oh and our computer has finally given up and died (for real this time) and hence there are no nice photos breaking up and improving an otherwise fairly boring blather. Lucky our friend has lent us a computer for the time being so we can still keep in touch with all our NZ peeps.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Orangutang Moments

So for the 2 of you who are reading this. My parents (Jenny and Alan for those of you that don't know) have just returned back to N.Z after 2 weeks visiting us in the U.K. They may have only been here for 2 weeks but we packed enough into them so that they got a months worth of sightseeing.
Unfortunately our passports are STILL with the home office so we were unable to take them out of the U.K to other parts of Europe but we are holding out on the idea that they may decide to come back and see us again and maybe we will get to show them Europe then!

Right on to London:
We spend 3 nights staying in a hostel in London. We arrived at Victoria train station at 6pm on a Friday night and proceeded to scare the crap out of my parents with the amount of people that were there at that time of the day. Amber and I left them in the station with all the bags and went to sort out travel cards for them on the underground. When we got back around 20 minutes later they looked like deers caught in headlights. We then decided to make it worse by going from there to the Victoria Underground. This was also very busy (x100) and we had 2 connections to get to where we needed to be. When we finally got back up into daylight we found ourselves in a cute little district (which is also the backpackers capital of London) we headed in the direction of where the hostel should have been only to discover that it wasn't there. (Google map fail) after walking around the block a few times, we left my parents once again with the luggage in a safe looking place and went scouting on ahead. Finally we find it and Amber goes on ahead to check us in and I go back to get Mum and Dad and then Amber comes running up the street to inform us that the beds in the rooms that we had booked had broken and they were sending us to their sister hostel to stay. Thankfully this was not too far away. We made to the hostel and got our rooms which we were told were on the third floor. the first two flights were not too bad but the third flight of stairs turned into a mountain climbing expedition. So we dropped off all our luggage and high-tailed it to the nearest watering facility for dehydrated Kiwis! After a few pints we were all feeling in a much better frame of mind and looking forward to the next adventure. I shall now pass along the computer to my lovely co-host to continue the tale.

The lovely co-host (me) felt it was time for a picture :) So, as you can see this is Shelley with her parents on the bank of the Thames with the clock tower that holds Big Ben (for those that don't know, the clock is NOT Big Ben, Big Ben is the name of the bell!) and the Houses of Parliament in the background. This was our first full day in London and we are standing on Waterloo Pier :)
The next BIG adventure was directly in front of us (and above us too). . .
Now, you might not recognise this; but here is Shelley's mummy standing in a capsule quite a few feet above the ground on a GIANT Ferris Wheel. . .In London. . .that's right; it's the London Eye!!! A "flight" (they call them Flights, and they act like it's a flight too, no scissors, nail files or sharp objects and they come on after you leave with mirrors on poles and check to make sure that nothing's been left behind!!!) takes half an hour and will take you 135metres up (and 424metres around) As I'm a "tad" afraid of heights, I was a leetle worried about how I might cope on it, but the capsules are so large and secure that you don't really feel the movement or the height at all! The only time I got a little nervous was when we went over the very top, and even then it was only when I looked at the actual machinations of the thing. The views were amazing cause the way it works means that you get a 360 degree view of everything!

So that was the morning of our first day. . .We then got on a tube or two and headed to Covent Garden

Shelley and her mum went around the square shopping and Alan and I found a street performer spot to park ourselves in front of while they did this.
We then took them to the yummiest french patisserie in all of London. Patisserie Valerie. . .
Where we ate good food and drunk good coffee!!!
On the way back to our hostel, we went to Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush. . .This is the Largest shopping centre in London, and quite possibly in all of the UK. . .Even Shelley and Jenny; who are avid shoppers, could only walk around it with their mouths hanging open. . .Enclosed within the centre is a section called "The Village". Now I know you'll all be thinking M. Night Shyamalan's "red is bad" boring little film. . .but, no. "The Village" in Westfield, London is the "designer" shops, think "Tiffany's", "Gucci" and "Versace". . .You know, those stores that don't have price tags cause if you have to ask, you can't afford it. . .which means of course, that we can't even afford to look at them!
So back to the hostel. . .after our mountain climbing expedition back to our room we had enough time to collapse:

Before us girls got ourselves all glammed up for a night on the town. . .well, ok, a trip to West End to see The Phantom of the Opera, but still, glammed up!!
So anyway; that was our first day in London. . .I shall pass you back to the other lovely co-host so she can continue to tell you about our time in The Big City. . .

Right so err I think we were about to start blathering on about Phantom. It was freakin awesome! I saw Phantom back in NZ in Auckland (it was a big production for the likes of NZ) but nothing compared to this. The sets and costumes alone were worth the cost of the ticket. (By the way, big thanks are to be had to Bank of Dad - A lending institution ever since I can remember for all the amazing adventures we had as he funded the whole trip). Anyway it was heaps of fun watching the show and trying to predict where the phantom was going to pop up next.... he was a very busy little ghostie as he did get round a lot!

Anyway I think I will leave it there for now and finish our London adventures in another post as I think we have been prattling on for long enough.