No News is Good News

No News is good News… Well I can tell you that it isn’t. What it is my friends is bloody annoying. No news often means a prolonged agonising wait to find out that you have failed or that maybe theres yet another sift to go through.

I’m sorry! Pardon! You’re lost? Oh… Right, I see… Maybe I should start from the beginning. Twenty Five days from today I would have been back on these shores for a year, a whole year since I came back from New Zealand – I should point out I was forced to return as my visa had expired and I didn’t want to risk deportation and ruin any chances of returning to that magical place I called home for a while. Never the less I landed in England with two objectives. The first was to get back to New Zealand and the way to do this was through a Bunac Visa, the second was to find a new career and get the god damn hell out of theatre.

Well the Bunac ship sailed and I wasn’t on it, the getting out of theatre is still very much work in progress but I think I may be there. I started applying for signalman roles with Network Rail and anyone in the railway will tell you recruitment like the trains take a long time, and the responses again like the trains are heavy delayed. After a year I have final landed a role (fingers crossed) This process for the role began 5 months ago (Along with other tests and assessments I’ve been invited to over 7 months)  and I still have not yet got the confirmation letter  although I was told by the line manager I was successful and he was sending relevant paper work to HR.

So as the saying goes, No News etc well, I can tell you handing in an application to have no news for two months and then an email to say its been moved on to the first test and then nothing for a moon cycle to be told you were successful but wait there’s another assessment and so it goes on starts to get you down. My good friend Kat has been there with the struggle and the process and when I got the call to say you’re in I think she may have been more relieved than I, partly as she won’t be receiving anymore ‘Whats happening’ ‘Why they not get in touch’ ‘My job profile status has changed, what you think it means’ messages, but also she understands what this means for me. However now I am back to waiting on HR… this time I know I have the job but need to receive the ‘Job Offer letter and pack’ and until I have that in my hand I am once again in limbo.

I’m like an animal, I can smell the blood of the kill I know it is close but it’s just out of reach. The exit from theatre is right in front of me yet I do not have the key to unlock it.  Believe me when I say posts on forums tell tales of people applying to putting on uniform taking over a year. So the wait is no way near over, the finish line is in sight… Just… it just happens to be obscured by several more obstacles, but as I look behind and see the ones I’ve already conquered the ones to come seem easy in comparison.

So now I move from checking my emails every day and job profile on the career site to waiting for the postman to bring that news, that Network Rail letter that contains my job offer and when it comes I’ll hold it high resembling Charlie and the Golden Ticket, for it will be my ticket out of a career I’ve fallen out of love with and onto something new and exciting with real career prospects.

So while No News is certainly not bad news, it is not good in any respect, just painful.

A Bag of Nerves To…

This time last year I was trying to see and spend as much time with family, friends and Manchester. My thoughts were ‘what happens if I hate it, I’ve sold everything to fund this trip and I’ll look a fool if I’m back in two weeks’ as nervous as I felt even with the reassurance from my mate in the back of my mind something was telling me that I’d be home sick and would not enjoy the year.

I had plans, everyone has plans. Those plans however have not turned out. The biggest plan has failed, I know this as in a week I’m returning from NZ to the UK, but unlike a year ago my mind isn’t nervous or scared it’s just, just unenthusiastic about the prospect. Sure I get to
see people but I’m back in the UK.

The truth is while I didn’t work for DOC or live in the hills partly as I allowed Wellington to trap me in its ‘Coolest little capital hub’. The truth is this is home, this is my city, and I think I was also suppose to stay here. Before I left it was on the list of possible place I’d lay down my bag and sleep. I feel that when I return to Manchester I will feel like a stranger, as I walk round my home country I will feel like a traveller.

Someone one said that you change once you travel, and only travellers know this, you have a different look on life, and to be honest the kiwi one rules. I always said, even thou nervous about the adventure that I’d like to live and stay in NZ and as I browse the shops for those gifts and pack my bag I know that I was right.

It’s not that I’m scared of my return, sure I’m worried or refusing to think about my job prospects, living arrangements and money its more the fact I don’t want to go back so I’m not allowing myself to think about it. Don’t get me wrong I’m excited about having that English pint next to a fire in a wood panelled pub in the heart of an English village with my best mate, seeing my nephew and my mum, but I’m not looking forward to reverting back to the British lifestyle, nipping to the corner shop rather than the dairy, ordering a pint rather than a handle, replacing pound for dollar and having to do the conversion the other way, going to a supermarket to buy everything instead of the liquor store for my drink and having to drive to the coast or mountains rather than taking a walk down the road. Wellies not gumboots, flip flops not jandles, mate not bro the list of culture change goes on.

Yes a year ago to day I was nervous as I was going into the unknown, now I’m scared and upset.

If someone at five thirty came on that plane to tell me I could stay then in all honesty I think I’d get off.

It’s funny how a year changes your view.

The Final Countdown

It was around this time last year I wrote something similar, except the countdown was to my adventure and after almost a year what an adventure it’s been.

Now with just 27 days left (as I write this) I look back at my time in New Zealand and think back to how scared and nervous I was. Any regrets? Only that I hadn’t done it earlier in my life and applied for a two year visa with visas to other countries along the way.

It’s no secret that I’m happy here, my Kiwi mates and traveller friends all know this is where I belong and while I won’t go into those reasons you can rest assured that NZ like snowdonia is a spiritual home of mine, one in which I will return and one that people who know me know it’s where I belong.

After months of trying to find a way to stay or extend my visa it seems that fate is telling me to go home, and maybe with good reason. I’ll be able to sip a nice pint of warm ale with my bestie and see my family again but at the moment that is all that England has to offer.

If I was to describe the sensation or my feelings at the thought of leaving in 27 days it would be to compare it to a warm bed. Imagine the alarm going off on a cold wet dark winter Monday morning, with the thought of a hard depressing day stuck in your office cubical. How much nicer is it to just roll over and hit the snooze button and bury yourself beneath the warm sheets and have a sick day. Well the bed is NZ and the journey and work is going back to the UK.

Sure I miss elements of the UK, off course I do it’s my country, but I’ve gotten use to NZ, the shops, money, food, lifestyle, brands, shops, adverts you name it I’m living it. The thought of adjusting back into English life does not excite or thrill me. I’ve seen what the world has to offer, I’ve seen what other opportunities there are, I’ve experienced a new way if life, and you know what I rather like it.

The countdown however has begun and while the nerves tingle and the thoughts of not wanting to say goodbye along with the fear of forgetting the experience and returning to the life I had. I know that it is I and I alone who needs to hold on to this experience and forge a new life. I never wanted to leave Manchester or change my job for the fear of the unknown, but now after a year away living from a bag meeting new people living in several communities that fear I once held onto as an excuse for living the old life seems pretty lame.

Oh well we will see what happens UK.

The countdown has started.

The Road to The Land with the Long White Cloud

Maybe I should explain the title, or maybe not. Wigan is well known for it’s pies but lets be honest anyone who know’s anything about New Zealand and I’m not calling my self an expert but I am able after eight months to speak with some authority on the subject of this land that Wigan as nothing on the residents of these three Islands. (North/South/Stewart)

Yes my friends, after several months it’s time to write about the parallels and differences of my two favorite nations. I have once already jotted down some comparisons and given you the delighted reader an opportunity to see what is so wonderful about this nation but now I am about to do it all again and with an outlook of what I will miss but also look forward to on my return.

Pies, pies and more pies. New Zealand puts Britain to shame when it comes to these tasty treats. Breakfast, after pub snack, or just a meal you will find anyone and everyone grabbing a pie at some point during the day and why not… they do after all have a lot to choose from and most it will seem come with cheese. If you think the North has the taste for ‘Pie’ then you really have not seen what a true nation addicted to this warm parcel of meat, veg, cheese really is. Every shop or so it appears has a hot cabinet filled with pies, imagine W H Smiths, or your corner shop selling hot pies. Maybe you would like to buy a book or some shoes, well why not buy a pie as well. Yes my friends, NZ has the loving of pies tied up more than Wigan.

Off course the way of life is what you come for, the place is so relaxed and it seems that you can’t go throughout the day without talking to a random stranger. North of the Watford gap has the reputation of being friendly but really compared to some of the towns I’ve frequented then the North of England seems like the London Underground compared to Kiwi life. You need to pop out and buy some milk or bread you need to allow at least an hour as you will end up talking to everyone you meet and being that the places (Auckland excluded) are small the chances of bumping into some one isn’t even in the bookmakers interest to put odds on it.

Off course lets be honest there are downsides, the T.V is pretty shit and has not really improved over the years, most shows are imported and the several free stations stop broadcasting any watchable stuff by 2am, and then its over to infomercials until the afternoon when ‘Come Dine’ and ’30 Minute Make Over’ begin. It’s like they’ve just purchased ITV 3’s entire back catalogue. The brands you would have grown up with and love are not in the supermarkets, NZ seem to have their own brands. Heinz is replaced with Watties, that were brought out by the mega beans giant some years back but the market for NZ products and loyalty is so strong that they kept the branding. Imagine that in England when Europe changes our brands to tie in with the global market. Jif would never have become Cif and we would still be munching on Opal Fruits.

Everything in the supermarket is from New Zealand, all apples, oranges, pineapples are all grown here, fish is all caught from the coast and sold in the markets, off course the supermarkets do have monopolies like the UK and you can draw direct links with which supermarkets over here correspond with the the UK ones, and while food it costly, you can go to Sunday food markets and walk away with fruit and veg for the week all for under five bucks. There is no money to help farmers out, they are all businessmen here and survive on their own profit and not subsidies which explains why many have started to move into dairy farming from sheep which in itself is no cheap conversion.

The political system is like any other and being that it is based on ours this is one of the biggest comparisons, all be it there are several parties and its more of a democracy than the shambles that is currently crowded around the statute book situated in Westminster. Were talking about a country that moved its capital on the basis that it was not located centrally to everyone… UK could take a note of this.

Off course, the road is the king here, but with the equivalent of the greyhounds running a good service if not just for the tourists you can get to many locations even if they are remote by our standards, over here they would be buzzing important economic centers of commerce.  The train network seemed to arrive to late to make any kind of impact, but still remains to transport heavy goods and tourist on some of the most scenic railway journeys in the world, going where the road can not, as it cuts through the Southern Alps and volcanic wildness of this almost pre-historic landscape.

The same issues affect the young, with it taking an average Kiwi 7 years to save a deposit for a house and the lack of affordable housing is not getting any better. Employment opportunities are not equal across the country and like the UK the very North finds it self with high unemployment and little industry. For some their is a keen aspiration to leave and head to Oz, for many they prefer to stay paying some what high tax, but what seems to be slightly more equal than our own. While I can’t comment on benefits the opinion is they do exist, but like our own, there is not enough money going to those who really need it.

The banking is just amazing, as in just under three months on $600 I have earnt $2.46 interest on my savings and when I use my card, the money leaves my account straight away, off course if I wish to have postal statements or different accounts or a debit card I have bank fee’s to pay but if I go over drawn by $20 I’m not fined. Back in England I get free accounts but I would never have come close to being paid that kind of interest.  Eftpos is such a big thing over here, it’s like plastic cash that everyone uses it to pay for papers to cars, all you need to do is remember to select your account all be it Cheque, Savings or Credit and a night in the local bar can soon add up.

Sure there are poor people, but they seem to sit on the street with a sign asking for funds, rather than bothering you selling a shitty rag or asking for their bus fare.

When I first arrived I would never say I had a culture shock, or was surprised by many things, but spending time here and living as a Kiwi, I would say that looking back I have got use to the way of life and forgotten how life runs in the UK, I know that the way I’m living now is different and sometimes I will have a flash back to Britain thinking ‘I wouldn’t be able to do a big shop at 8pm on a Sunday in a supermarket’ or trying to work out what I had used my debit card for and thus what payments were waiting to show up on my account. The idea that the high street is like those we had, a place for electricals, clothes and so on. Sure NZ is slowly changing and is becoming more Europe with supermarkets selling more than just food. In fact the very idea of our ‘High Street’ is a notion I have had to explain to several people.

I know I’m going to miss this place, which is why I’m determined to remain, or at the very least make a promise to return. Like George Orwell, with The Road to Wigan Pier, I have been both shocked, amazed, in love and confused by my time in New Zealand, but unlike his essay I don’t think New Zealand needs to change anything about it’s self.

A Shaky Start to My Time in Wellington

Lets be honest earthquakes are two a penny as we say in England. They happen almost everyday and on more than one occasion as well. Earthquakes to New Zealand are what rain is to Manchester and self importance and an ideal that your superior to the rest of the country is to London. In fact by the the time you have read this post, than New Zealand would have been struck by 7 quakes.

I arrived in Wellington, the city I’m hoping will be home for the next however long, and as I sat on my bed I experienced a full on 5.1 earthquake. Once again it was on the small fault near Seddon. Now if I’ve learnt one thing while being upside down its that people don’t bother with small quakes. Why would you when you get them by the bucket load. However anything that is bigger than a 5 is mentioned, even estimated. People say ‘think that’s a 5.5’ or ‘that has to be at least a 6’.

Yes earthquakes are part of life here, and unless large go unnoticed. Felt, but ignored. Quakes are part of the daily routine like the metro to Bury being late or virgin trains not running on time. Very much like when virgin actually do run on time, the big quakes make the news.

This one I felt was 5.1 and it shock, it shock for 45 seconds and was said to be felt in Auckland but lets face it, that’s just them wanting a bit of the action. While it wasn’t scary, or loud, or even stressful it did bring home the fact that NZ is quake paradise. I’m not going to go into why, but the power of the earth to rattle buildings is quite extraordinary.

My dream was to live on the west coast of the South Island but today they have found new fault lines off the coast. That with the large alpine fault line, where the two plates meet could spell tsunami if the earth moved a bit, and I’m not a strong swimmer so I think i’ll stay in Wellington.

I’m oddly looking forward to more quakes, but hope that the ‘big one’ never strikes. While it shock and vibrated the room, all the occupants gave the knowing look of what was happening and for a short time people stopped going about their chosen activity.

While I’ve been here my love of the power of the earth has risen again. I’m keen to relearn about volcanos and quakes, thermal pools and the like. And while being in a really bad quake would be bad, NZ is use to it and have built their towns to stand up to the force. I’d much rather be in a quake zone than the volcanic region.