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...