Monday, December 22, 2008

Way down south...

Sunday Jayne came to stay. She was a friend of a friend of my cousins and as I'm staying at my uncle and aunts this is where she came to stay! We talked about her travelling south on the kiwi bus (she had a ticket on it already) and she asked if I was keen to go south. I decided it would be a great way to spend the week and see some of NZ that I love so much and see some great friends in Queenstown and see some new things as well! So Tuesday after having a filling put in at the dentist we headed south. It was raining as we got to the West Coast and Punakaiki was really not worth stopping at but we did anyway and got soaked in the process!! We drove on down to Franz Josef where we stayed in a backpa17122008766ckers, went to the new hot pools for a soak and then had dinner. Wednesday we went on a full day glacier hike up Franz Josef glacier. Our guide Tommy was awesome, we were in the fastest group so went more place and new places. Was cloudy and as we got further up the glacier we got right into the clouds and had heavy rain mist falling on us but the ice was awesome. A long but good day! Thursday morning Jayne got up very early and did a sky dive over Fox Glacier getting awesome views of Mt Cook and the glacier. We then walked to Lake Matheson but the famous reflections were not working that day and Cook had cloud over it too. Drove on down through the World Heritage Area that is South Westland and then across the Haast Pass to Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. Stopped at Wanaka and visited Puzzleworld. Next was the short trip up the Cardrona Valley and over the Crown Range and down into Arrowtown where we just happened upon carols being sung on the village green. We bought fish and chips and L&P and sat on the grass in the sun enjoying Christmas carols. After we walked through the village and then drove on down to QueenstownKJET812190134675 where we stayed at Lakeland Park--the camp I was manager of 3 years ago. Friday we got a free jet boat ride thanks  to Kawarau Jet a company started by the same people who started Lakeland Park. I had been offered a ride 3 years ago and never took it so it was now time to cash in! 60 minutes of fun in the big boat! Famous for its 360 degree spins the jet boat is very powerful and goes up to 86kmh across the lake and then up the river. We did plenty of spins and if sitting on the edge you can get fairly wet too! I was on the side for the first half but then managed to make Jayne sit on the side and the driver got her wet on the way back. Friday nite we met up with Jan and Vicki and their girls Holly and Alice. They were great friends to m e when I lived there and was great to see them again. Holly was singing Silent Night on the town green for xmas celebrations so we listened to that--she has an amazing voice. Enjoyed a Thai dinner together and then a great evening at Jan and Vicki's house talking with them--even had a fir20122008824e going!! Saturday we got up early hoping to fly into Milford Sound but due to cloud the plane was not flying. So we drove the 4 hours to Milford Sound-the scenery in there was awesome! Huge rock mo20122008845untains with waterfalls all over them and we wind in between them on the road before  descending through the 1km Homer tunnel and down to Milford Sound. It was even snowing on the tops! Took the 90 minute boat cruise past Mitre Peak and out to the Tasman Sea and back. When we got back to Queenstown around 7:30pm there was snow on the Remarkables (now known as the Incredibles) and Coronet Peak. After dinner we met some of Jaynes friends in town for some drinks and dancing. A late nite making us rather tired Sunday as we packed up and moved out. Went to the church I attended 3 years ago and caught up with lots of people. After lunch Jayne checked into a backpackers and I drove 9.5 hours back to Nelson. Was a brilliant 6 days, laughed loads, had new experiences, saw new places and made a great new friend. New Zealand sure is the most beautiful diverse country on this planet!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Barefoot in NZ!!

Summer is starting up here and I'm loving being barefoot again! Had 2 pretty full days in Auckland with my parents, my sister Priscilla and her 3 kids, Johanna, Jacob, and Daniella (and husband Sjoerd) and catching up with Jenny. Went to Priscilla's new property where they have just built a small house which they will live in while building a bigger house. The property is 25 acres with a lot of NZ native bush up on a hill near the Hunua Ranges south of Auckland. Thursday I drove south--so nice driving the WRX again! It was a stunning day in the middle of the North Island and Lake Taupo looked awesome with snow clad Mt Ruapehu in the background. Just south of the lake I picked up a hitchhiker and got out to help load her bag in. The road was so hot it was melting and now I have black tar all over the soles of my feet!! 7.5 hours driving and I was in Wellington for dinner and then crashed over at crazee Caths! Its now Friday morning and I'm on the Interislander ferry--the Kaitaki. I haven't seen this ferry before here in NZ but its disgusting. All the seats are old and dirty--they have gone seriously backwards! Previous ferries have been modern and clean and nice but this is a dump. And internet access is only available in a premium lounge which you pay $40 just to get into!!

Sure enough as we crossed to the South Island the sun broke through and in Nelson it was a hot sunny day! I went straight to the beach and played some beach volleyball--even got a bit sunburnt! Then I had dinner with my sister Joanna and husband Frank and Nikki, Melanie and Benji. Was so good to see them all again after 3 1/2 years! I'm now staying at my uncle and aunties in Redwoods Valley.

Mosaic coincidence in LA?

After a very hectic week living in W1, London and getting everything sorted at work for my 2 month absence I caught the express to Heathrow and boarded flight NZ1 to LAX. 11 hours on a smooth new 777 and I'm in LA and finding a hotel. Sunday I decided to rent a car for the day (alternative option to be bored at the hotel all day) and drive to Mosaic Church. 30 mins drive up the 405 and into Santa Monica and I'm at Beverley Hills High School which Mosaic use for one of their church gatherings. I had heard about Mosaic in 2004 while staying LA so always wanted to attend at some time. I'm about 35 mins early and people are still setting up-being in a school they have to keep everything in a truck and set it all up every week. A friendly girl starts talking to me and then introducing me to some of the guys that run it. They are all very welcoming and interested to find out where I'm from and why I'm there etc. I didn't tell them I was a spy just checking out how they do things! So then I'm standing in the lobby as its still well before service time when a guy walks towards me and says, "You look familiar, where do I know you from?" I'm thinking he's got me well mistaken as how would anyone here know me? So I say I'm from New Zealand. He asks have I been in the USA before? I say yes, in Missouri, Ohio, ... he interrupts with "Kanakuk Kamp". I say yes and he tells me his name is Chris Houghy. WOW-Crazy!! I hadn't recognized him but I remembered Chris from when we worked together in 1999!! I had also worked with his sister Rachel and their great uncle (Will Russell) attends my church in Nelson, NZ (we had found that out back in 1999 when we first met!). I had prayed on the way there for some cool people to meet and then hang out with after church and God had sure answered! Chris has been attending Mosaic for quite a few years and helps with some of there missions work. They are very focused on being missional in practical ways and organise and fundraise for a lot of projects around the world. The service was simple and modern with a Christmas flavour. The 2 girls singing had amazing voices! After church I met Angela who plays beach vball on the AVP and so she knows a bunch of the same people I know. Then Chris took me for some mexican with his girlfriend, before going back to his place to watch American football. I'm writing this as I wait to board my flight in LA for Auckland, this is the first time I ever remember flying home specifically for Christmas! It feels good and I can't wait to see so many people, family and friends over the next 4 weeks.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Arrogant Australians

Ok so we just won the Rugby League World Cup final as underdogs beating Australia convincingly in the last 20 mins of the game. Then at the awards ceremony following they have the arrogance to award the man of the match award to Darren Lockyer--what a joke!! If winning the world cup final is the big deal it should be and your team are major underdogs and in the last 20 mins you blow the more favoured team off the park then one of your team has to win man of the match!! How can he possibly be man of the match when his team lost the biggest game in 5 years?!!! Man of the match should go to everyone in our whole team--they all outplayed Lockyer and took the biggest prize in Rugby League away from him!! Good stuff kiwis!!

Giant sundials and royal silliness

Monday my friend Carla flew in from NZ for a quick trip through this land and into Europe. So I took Tuesday and Wednesday off work and here's what we got up to! Tuesday we rented a car and drove south west to Stonehenge on the Salisbury plains. This was my first time to visit the famous landmark and although impressive when you read the history of it its not that impressive just to look at! It's not helped by a £6.50 entry to walk around it from a rather far away distance. It was also bitterly cold with a strong wind whipping across the plains. Then we drove off towards Bath stopping at a nice country pub for a baguette lunch. Then on to Bath where we wandered around the city centre which is very quaint and old--more like a European city than an English one. And with the Avon river running right through the middle it is a beautiful sight. We were going to drive over the Severn Bridge so Carla could say she had been to Wales but it was getting dark so she would have seen nothing so we drove back to London. After a late dinner we met Carla's friend Jen at Euston station and I drove them on a tour of London by night, past all the main locations. London is a whole lot more beautiful at night than during the day! Wednesday we were up early to get the rental car back on time. We then walked up to Buckingham Palace and down Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square and New Zealand house. Then back to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. What a waste of money!! In my opinion it brings more shame on the royal family and England as a country. I don't know how much a year they waste in paying those people to march around and ride horses looking all historical etc all for a few tourists to be shouted at by English policemen in high vis yellow jackets looking all modern and silly. The people are half climbing the fence to take pics of a ceremony that none of us understand or can hear or really know what is going on. England and the royal family would do much better to feed some hungry orphans or tackle some much bigger issues. Another example of British reluctance to let go of the past and move on. We then took a black cab to Harrods which has everything at crazy prices but also has a Krispey Kreme store! Next up we went to Camden Markets for lunch and browsing. Then home so the girls could have naps while I cooked them dinner and then we went back into London to see the Lion King. A brilliant show!! We had great seats--up quite high but central and all clear views. The music and costumes were amazing and was a great night out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

summer down under!

So its 4 weeks till I land in Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud for a much needed summer holiday. Here's my planned itinerary so far. Would be great to see as many people as possible so love to hear from you to meet up when I'm in your area.

Dec 6 flight from London with 1 night stopover in L.A.

Dec 9 land in Auckland

Dec 11 or 12 drive south to Nelson with possible stop in New Plymouth for beach vball tournament on Dec 13-14. If not then cross on ferry to south island on Dec 12. Can't wait to see everyone in sunny Nelson and enjoy the beach etc.

Dec 23 cross on ferry to Wellington for family reunion at Waitoke.

Dec 29 cross back to south island --back to Nelson

New Years --???

Jan 2 - 4  National Pro Beach Tour begins in Christchurch

Jan 6-7 Nelson Grand Slam Tournament

Jan 10-11 Wellington

Jan 14-15 Ohope

Jan 17-18 Mt Maunganui

Jan 23-25 Auckland

More details of the tour and results, blogs etc can be found on

Jan 27 flight back to cold wintry London!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a normal week...?

Well Monday was fairly normal although I had had a slight headache since our 6-2 win in soccer on Saturday. (2 assists for me from the right wing). Tuesday my throat was rather sore but I went into work anyway. Worked into the evening as it was Sofia's (one of the interns) first time on that event and needed to do some extra set up for the school concert coming in the next day. That meant I could sleep longer Wednesday morning to try and rest the throat which was getting worse and another intern- Maggy was looking after the group. I went in at midday in time for the actual concert to look official and help with security. Still worked more than a full day as finished about 9pm. Thursday I again slept with no alarm set and felt slightly better. Again went in at lunch time to start prep for the Saturday wedding. Thursday nite we hosted a DVD launch party with a preview screening (study series called Discipleship Explored) so I helped with that making another late finish. Friday was up early and in at work at 9am as we were hosting a press conference for an American bishop. After I sorted them out it was onto the wedding preparations as Lucy (the bride) and her mum and aunty and others arrived to start decorating. Spent most of the day working on the wedding prep as I was basically the wedding planner and was overseeing all the event management personally for this one. Lucy (the bosses daughter) and her husband Tom are a great couple and good friends so I was more than happy to go the extra mile for them. Sa18102008673turday was a beautiful sunny warm sunny day. Started at 11:30 with 2 interns and finished the final setup. The church looked great for the ceremony which was very nice. Then there was a drinks reception downstairs in the hall which was also decorated. After photos in nearby Regents Park the couple made an entrance and cut the cake and 2 speeches. We also had a slideshow of photos on the big screen along with music. Meanwhile upstairs in the church myself and 3 others were working furiously to transform the church into a reception venue. All the remaining chairs were stacked to one side (we had stacked 250 the day before only leave 200 for the ceremony) and then we placed out 10 large round tables and 100 gold chairs and set and decorated the tables for a 3 course dinner reception party. We had exactly 3 hours to do the complete changeover. We also hung 4 large silk banners across the room from gallery to gallery along with fairy lights making a false ceiling. Next all the guests were given sparklers and everyone went out onto the steps again for more photos with the sparklers all going together. Tom and Lucy then departed by cab for a trip around the block. Doors w18102008676ere reopened for the evening guests to walk back into the church in its transformed state with live jazz music playing and a team of waiters and waitresses to serve a top class 3 course meal prepared by our own resident chef, Jack. Quiches for starter, lamb with a potato mash and gravy and green beans and peas for main followed by a mouse custard cream type dessert. 100 dinners all of a standard you would expect from a top restaurant. More speeches (meaning more great humour from father of the bride!) and then the "first dance". I got to sit down as a guest for the evening which was a welcome change from running around sorting things out! Everything had gone like clockwork all day however and we saw the couple off in a black cab while we all cheered on the steps of the church, (and I had to intervene and stop people throwing 18102008680confetti inside the church, knowing what a mess I would have to clean up otherwise!!) The guests left and then began the cleanup and put the church back to right for Sunday morning. Lucy's family all stayed behind to help and 2 hours later (1am) you could hardly tell what had been there! By that time I had missed the last train so went with the groomsmen to the house for drink and food and then at 2am headed home. 90 mins later I crawled into bed and slept slept slept! 61.5 hours of work for the week so no, thankfully, not quite a normal week for me here in London!! But a great wedding well worth all the effort and God bless you Tom and Lucy in your  lives together!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

SWATCH FIVB Junior World Championships

060920086370309200862907092008646  End of August and the end of the Beach Volleyball Season. (you can read all about my travels on the English tour by clicking here.) The English tours final event was held in Brighton and due to my partners injured leg we pulled out after our first game (which we still won!) But the very next day began the hard slog of preparing the Yellowave Beach Centre and the nearby street for the Junior World Champs. (under 21s) My initial voluntary position was that of court manager. In addition to centre court which was in the Yellowave Centre with 2000 seats of grandstand around it, there were 3 further competition courts and 2 practice courts built out on the street. In between my court manager training on Monday I was helping Mark with setting things up and building the post systems etc. Mid afternoon Mark came to me and said I should move from court managing to the operations team to assist Baz, an australian guy who flew in especially for the event. Tristan (wearing his lovely blue pyjamas) was then moved into our team and between the 3 of us we formed the backbone of the operations team for the next 6 days. Posts, Nets and lines were all perfected, centre court was built, scoreboards put together, safety fences put up, banners and flags, huge blow up SWATCH things, and many things fixed or made safe. Had many trips to B&Q to buy bits and pieces and come up with ways to fix or build things. Tuesday I even had to act as safety manager as the real safety manager was apparently having a day off! Along with Amy I spent about an hour keeping people away from a digger while it cleaned up a major thoroughfare on the site--there were some very rude coaches who couldnt see why they had to go around and not walk under the digger as it worked!!  By this stage most of the teams were in town and crawling all over the site having training sessions on all the courts.

Wednesday the qualification tournament took place and yet we were still setting things up! Many challenges had to be overcome and Mark had to act as tournament promoter effectively as the real promoter didnt really have a clue. This put more strain on all of us and so as the tournament started for real on Thursday morning we were just starting to get things together. For me it felt like halfway through Thursday that we were on top of things and ready to start!! Unfortunately the weather packed in and was pretty bad most days. New Zealand had 2 teams in the qualification tournament--the O'Dea brothers won their first game but lost the 2nd in a cruel single elimination format. Kate Sheriff and Simone Head also won 1 and lost 1 in their pool play meaning they also just missed out on main draw. We then had Julia Tilley and Hannah Croad in the main draw but after pool play (3 games) they had lost all 3. I had a sore throat most of the week and Thursday nite awoke with high temp and feverish. Dr Wear (Lara) was our resident doctor for the week so I was able to get medication but had to keep working each day in the cold and rain--quite miserable when you feel sick. We also had a great osteopath there who worked on my back a few times using me as a guinea pig to teach the physio guy how to do backs!! Felt great!

Most days I was up around 7:15 to shower, put my uniform on, pack my bag, and grab some croissants and yoghurt at the restaurant on the way out of the hotel. (with a very sore throat eating was difficult!) To the courts in the Chrysler voyager, often taking players or coaches with me-I drove the Kiwis and the Canadians quite often). Open the storage shed and get out equipment needed for the day. Make sure all courts are good to play and then see what needs fixing or adjusting. Watch the kiwis play or try to watch a few other games here and there. Make sure trash bins have been emptied and the portaloo company has been to clean the toilets! Make sure the whole site is safe and keep cars out of the close up parking areas so tv and radio and VIP cars can have parking. Eat lunch and dinner whenever can get a chance to get in the warm food tent. Its a long busy day and don't seem to really get a chance to sit still. Someone or something is always needing your attention or help! Still its enjoyable (except for the weather and my health) and working with Baz, Tristan and Mark was great. Saturday nite we have a BBQ for all the players etc and then go to a Bar in Brighton. Its pretty much players only and has a dance floor and great music. The kiwi players were the centre of it with heaps of energy and craziness! Something about kiwis!! Was a good nite overall and then Sunday was the semis and finals. The rain stayed away but it was still overcast. There were some people in the grandstands and some good volleyball was played! Both finals were fairly 1 sided however meaning not very close or exciting. Italy won for the boys and the Netherlands for the girls.

After a big awards presentation it was all over and the players were soon all gone, leaving us to pack things down. Unfortunately we had to move all our equipment into a storage unit further away than the one we had used all week meaning loading the van and repacking everything into the other 1. I felt horrible and the evening dragged on as we sorted the stuff out. Finally about 9pm it was all done and I loaded my stuff out of the Chrysler and into the Dodge and drove back to London and bed. A huge week--about 80 hours worked following 40 hours on the 3 days before it and 37 days straight working between my normal job and volleyball every weekend.

Now we wait to see if we will get to host a World Tour event in London next July and on up to the 2012 Olympics.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Aberystwyth, Wales

This weekend was my first trip to Wales! Andrew and Joel picked me up at 8am and we drove up past Birmingham and across Wales to Aberystwyth. It was hot and sunny all the way until we got thru the hills to Aber where it started to rain! The hills in Wales were similar to NZ in places and of course there were loads of sheep everywhere25072008553 although the sheep all had their tails! We found our campsite and set up camp and then explored the town. Its a quaint seaside town of about 10 000 with a  large beach and waterfront area. We climbed up Constitution Hill on the north end of the town to check out the view. Back down for dinner in a pub opposite the train station called Top Nosh. Don't ever eat there as they cooked my steak well done when I asked for medium, and when I pointed this out the barman took it to the chef told him I had asked for a full refund (I hadn't even mentioned money!) and then they did nothing! I asked for the manager who informed me they had thrown my meal out as they thought I didn't want it! Unbelievable! They gave me a small sandwich steak instead which was so tough I couldn't eat most of it. Appalling service!! We met up with Reuben and his mates and cousins for some drinks at Rummers by the river and managed to scare Reuben by picking him up and threatening to throw him in the river. He was panicking a lot! Then we met some lovely locals so went for a dance with them at Pier Pressure which is a bit of a dive of a place on the Pier!

Saturday was Reuben and Hannah's wedding day. Brilliant weather, hot and sunny. The church is right in the town and right on the waters ed26072008561ge! Amazing setting! A Castle ruins on one side and a beautiful old building which is Wales oldest university on the other side. They had a great ceremony and Hannah of course looked stunning! Then it was off to the reception venue (after some photos) which was at a country hotel with a semi permanent marquee setup on the lawn overlooking the valley with sheep not far away ! A lovely meal and some great speeches. Reuben's was particularly humorous as he shared some stories of his attempts at being romantic going horribly wrong!! After the cake was cut, it was time for the first dance which Reuben and Hannah had practiced for. We thought it was going to be a nice slow dance together but instead as the music started they went into th26072008575is routine they had choreographed themselves which was hilarious and very good! Reuben stole the moment tho when it was his turn in the middle of the routine to dance around Hannah while she stood still in the middle. As he did this he pulled 2 white handkerchiefs out of his pockets and swung them round in the air as he skipped his way around Hannah. It was a priceless moment! Then we all danced together before watching the happy couple drive away in a suitably decorated car!! After the wedding we went to the beach and paddled in the surf. Water was cold! 


Sunday we went to St Mikes church service which is where Hannah works and Reuben will be working as student workers. Then a drive home, this time south through Wales to near Cardiff and across the new Severn Bridge back into England. A great weekend: enjoyed Wales, thoroughly loved the wedding, met some lovely people and would love to go back sometime!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Juliette's Wedding


A very cool weekend! The French sure know how to do a wedding!! Saturday morning I took the Eurostar to Lille (90 mins) where Juliette's cousins Berenice and Cyprien met me, took me home for lunch and to get ready for the wedding. Off to the old old church which was packed and overflowing and as we were a little late we didn't get seats but managed to perch fairly near the front. Of course the ceremony was all in French so I didn't understand any of it anyway! There was a lot of singing interspersed throughout the service with the old organ playing--a very traditional type service I think. After the ceremony all the guests leave the church first and crowd around the church steps to await the bride and groom emerging from the church. We had bubbles to blow at them too as they walked out to loud cheering and whistling!  We then drove to the reception venue which was a very nice restaurant venue in the country with a large garden surrounding it. There was champagne and nibbles in the garden until the main reception started at 8pm. At one point a girl said to me, "Are you Dave?" It was Helene, a girl who had worked in Blenheim on the same program as Juliette in 2004 and she had stayed with me and gone down the sounds with us. So it was cool to see her again! Juliette has a very big family with many cousins. A lot of them speak some English so we had much fun talking and interpreting each other! Then at 8pm we went into the seated reception. I was at a table with some of Juliette's cousins and others who spoke good English. When Juliette and Alexandre entered they played loud music and everyone stood up and waved their serviettes around over their heads!! Lots of whistling and cheering as the couple ran a lap around the room in and out of the tables waving their serviettes! Speeches were made by the groom, brides father, and the grooms father and all were followed by serviette waving and cheering! Juliette's Dad mentioned me in his speech although I was unaware he was talking about me coming from New Zealand until her cousin sitting beside me grabbed my hand and waved it around so people knew who I was! (He was saying how people had come from far away and how good that was) Then we ate the first course which was a beautiful fresh fish with a scallop on top and a very nice sauce-reminded me of NZ fresh cod! Then Juliette's brothers and sister did a tribute with pictures of Juliette's growing up and talked about her--again not much for me to understand but there were pictures of her time in NZ and music from Lord of the Rings in the background! Dinner followed which was chicken and asparagus and potato and beans wrapped in bacon. More family member then made more tributes and comments--it is normal for the dinner part to go till about 11pm. We had dessert around 11:30 I think! Part of the dessert was a mountain of cream puffs which they stick together with toffee in a giant pyramid. They then paraded it through the room to the main table and then back to the kitchen with giant sparklers stuck in it burning and loud music and cheering and more serviette waving!! More guests arrived for the dance which began just before midnight. Rock and roll dance is the main dance and everyone seemed to know how to do it very well. Of course I don't so that along with not speaking much French were my two hindrances of the weekend! Thankfully they also played some non rock and roll music for some more normal dancing later on. However my ride left at 3am when the dancing was still going strong (they finished around 5am which is normal for a French wedding!) And the bride and groom stay all nite dancing with everyone too! Much more fun than the NZ/English wedding where everyone is in bed by midnite! So to my hosts house for the night (one of Juliette's uncles and aunts). One of her cousins lives in London and they offered to give me a ride back to London as they were driving Sunday nite so that meant i could miss my early Sunday train and sleep in and then go to a very nice lunch back at the reception venue for all the close family and those that had travelled. Again it was a very nice time--all the family were so nice and friendly. 6pm we headed off to Calais (I slept in the car), drove onto a train to go thru the Chunnel and then drove back to London and was home 5 hours later. An  amazing weekend and quite possibly the best wedding I have been too!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Margate hosts the Student Beach Cup

Friday I left work at 7pm, home on the train to do washing, eat, check emails, shower and pac31052008417k up. 9:30pm and I'm off to the train and into London again where Mark met me and took me to his place. We loaded some stuff in the van, helped Mark and Gabby put a wardrobe together and then got just under 4 hours sleep! 5am we were up and soon on the road. Picked up some pop up tents and then headed south east for Margate. 2 hours later we were on the beach and setting up the courts. Margate is a quaint English seaside town--has a great waterfront with beach but everything is very old looking. There are a few gaudy buildings tho with lights all on them and inside arcade games and slot machines etc--Marvegas!! Saturday was a hot sunny day just perfect for beach vball. The students soon arrived coming from all over England representing their universities. Play kicked off at 9am, Mark and I were kept very busy all day doing the admin for the draw, tracking results, and then seeding the teams for the main draw. There were 45 men's teams and 25 women's so pretty good numbers and it was great to meet some really nice people! I also acted at DJ with my ipod but with little warning so I had no play lists prepared making it more difficult! They played till 8pm and then we went to our B&B and showered before attending the official party. Time to socialise and meet many more of the players. The free food was all gone so I went and found a kebab with Louise and Marina and from Bath. Some of us stayed out to dance and finally got to sleep for a few hours. Up early Sunday for a cooked breakfast and back to the beach to start Day 2. Overcast and dull but no rain all day and very little wind making for great beach conditions. Having so many teams meant we got behind on time and so it was another long day! I ended up doing commentary on all the semis and finals which was interesting! Thanks to my years on the NZ pro tour listening to Cowboys commentary I was able to use some of that knowledge to commentate here. And I got good feedback so must have done ok!! Men's final finished at 8pm (2 hours late) and then we packed up the van, leaving at 9:30 and arriving home at midnite! Rather tired this morning but what a great weekend. Next weekend is Skegness where I will be playing--its the first stop on the English tour. I will be blogging on for the duration of the tour. Check out how I get on!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another random bank holiday!!

Another Monday off today with no apparent reason for it! Unlike the last one however the weather today is grey and misty and windy and chilly. But it hasnt been like this all weekend-Saturday was a great day! Up early and off to the station where I met Tanya and Monica and travelled down to Brighton beach. A bit windy but very sunny and warm. I coached 4 sessions of beach volleyball at the Nivea Beach Centre. (Tanya and Monica participated in 1 of them). It was great to get back into coaching and was a challenge as had beginners and more experienced players plus had 16 in most sessions! They have a great cafe there so I got a brilliant lunch and then tested the water but it was freezing so didnt go in! We hung on the beach for a while and then walked up the waterfront getting an icecream and then checked out some weird festival stuff in the town centre. Lots of gypsie types peddling their wares or entertaining etc! Then with sore legs and slightly burnt shoulders and neck, back on the train for the journey home.

Sunday the weather wasnt so good but after watching New Zealand collapse miserably in the cricket I headed out with a friend to a festival in Victoria Park. There were many strange and weird things and people there which made for a very interesting but fun evening! There was a large section of old steam driven fair rides and attractions--all very nicely restored and working! There was a dance tent which had a variety of music in it and a dance floor, lots of food stalls from all over the world and a main stage with live music. Then we discovered a circus act called Sensiozone (i think!). The 8pm performance was free as it was getting cold so we went along and this circus is one where you can interact and participate. The performers were a very weird group and they seemed to have made an act up that wasnt really anything--something out of nothing! After that we took shelter in the dance tent and even saw a midget doing tap dance!Then we got more hot chocolates and saw a mechanical life size horse that breathes fire and makes horse sounds etc! Finished the night off at the main stage with a band named Ska Cubano. Ska music from Cuba and Jamaica--they were really good and we danced away the cold. A fun nite!!

mechanical horse

Monday, May 05, 2008

All Souls team!!

Posted by Picasa

Bank Holiday??

So yep in this funny ole country they call the public holidays bank holidays and this one has no particular reason for existing!! Not that I'll complain esp with weather like Nelson weather and a London Churches soccer tournament to be won! So it meant getting up at 7:30am--the 2nd earliest start for me this year!! (the only earlier start was the day I went to Italy and had to get to the airport) It was already feeling like about 17 degrees and after breaky i set off to Regents Park. Met the All Souls team and set up camp on Pitch 5 where we were to play 5 pool games. Each game being 12 minutes there were a lot of 0-0 draws. (7 aside soccer on half size pitches and half size goals) Our first game was a draw but then we started scoring and we finished top of our pool fairly easily. We then went into knockout playoffs. Final 16 which we won on penalties (I made mine!) 1/4 finals meant a change of pitch and again went to penalties (again I made mine). In the semi we went up 1-0 but they came back and it was 1-1. Then I was fouled in the box so was given a penalty. I stepped up but put it just over the bar--not happy with myself as this would have won us the game. So penalties again--again I went first and the keeper saved it. Not happy with missing 2 now. Its best of 3, they scored 1 and we scored 1 , then misses and saves so it kept on going. Our keeper Garth was phenomenal and pulled out save after save! Finally Benjamin put one in the back of the net and we were through to the final!! The team in the finals was probably not as tough as the team we played in the semi but the pressure was on and legs were getting tired. We had few chances and as they attacked on the break I tracked back into our goal box. The keeper was beaten by the shot and it was coming at me as I ran towards the goal. I got my body in the way and it deflected off my chest but to my horror went into the goal. The game ended 1-0 so I had scored the winning goal but in the wrong end. Gutted. We still got presented medals and enjoyed a very well organized day. It was a long journey home as my legs were sore and my bag heavy. But it seems May has brought summer here to London!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

View out my window!

Posted by Picasa

Snow in the Royal Box!

Ok not quite but I awake today to find it snowing--first time in London for me! Last night I went to the Royal Albert Hall, another first for me, and enjoyed Prom Praise. This is an annual event put on by the music department that does the music at All Souls Church. I was seated in a box in the Grand Tier just a few along from the royal box. However some friends were seated in the royal box so after the smoozing drinks reception with the high rollers and guest artists I watched the first song from the Royal Box! No royalty in attendance tho. Main guest artists were Keith and Kristin Getty who have written many modern hymns including In Christ Alone. I also experienced first hand an English phenomon known as promenading. The people in the Arena (cheap seats--actually no seats at all, sit on the floor or stand) were often referred to as Promenaders. I understand from the many concerts held there known as Proms. At one point some of them began a curious bobbing similar to the sudden jerk caused when someone unsuspectingly taps you forcefully in the back of the knee. Many of them were managing to "bob" in time and in quick succession-up an down, up and down. I guess for the English reserve in such a poncy place as the RAH this would be as much movement of ones body as one could show. One Englishman in asking me what I thought of the place and the concert, commented that this type of building reeks of the British Empire days. I guess it does in some ways but the fact that normal people were sitting in the Royal Box made it less royal somehow. It still is a pity tho that in a democratic society with an elected government there is still a "royal" family. They are no different to anyone else and should be treated no different to anyone else. It was interesting when Harry was pulled from Afghanistan he said he wanted to be treated like anyone else. He then became a terror target. The best thing England could have done is left him out there and said to the world "If Harry dies in combat then thats the same loss as the next man dying, we dont care any more or less" If England cared less about his safety, he wouldnt be a terror target cause he wouldnt mean anything special to this country.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Stu Smith testimonial concert Saturday nite at the Indigo2 was incredible. 90 mins of Delirious? at their best with a mix of classics and new tracks in the intimate 3000 seat state of the art theatre that is the Indigo2. But after 90 minutes instead of coming back out for an encore the stage hands moved the drum set (it was on a wheeled platform) right to the front of the stage where Stu came out and began to play again. The rest of the band joined him and they played some more. Then to finish they played History Maker (of course!!) then they got Stu to say some words and presented him with a gift--a blue scooter! They left the stage and we thought it was all over and started to leave when they came out again and played Investigate. A brilliant 2 hours of music, worship and inspiration. Thanks Stu and I hope the new drummer can keep the energy up!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Chateau Chombard
this spiral staircase was amazing--2 separate staircases spiralling around the same column and never meeting!!
and the view over my kingdom

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter in Toury

Wow! What a great weekend! After my king for a day blog I realized it was going to be more like a king for 3 days!! Monday was a similar procedure but after lunch Laure, Melanie and I went to a town named Chartres which has perhaps the most famous cathedral in all of France and it is listed as a World Heritage Site. As it was Easter weekend there happened to be a Easter Festival on in the town consisting of a market and various stages set up around the town with performers and bands etc playing. It was cold and a litte drizzly but I got a cup of mulled wine from the market and we entered the huge Cathedral which seems to dwarf the rest of the town. Once inside it was a pleasant surprise to find it buzzing with people--obviously the festival had brought people out. So often when a tourist goes into these huge churches they seem empty and dead and feel very unused and I think how much a part of the communities life the Christian faith must have been when they built these buildings. It was soo cool to see a group of young people on the stage- a couple of girls singing into mics, and a guy lightly strumming a guitar and another playing the bongo drums. The girls voices filled the whole cathedral thru the PA system and with the natural acoustics it sounded awesome!! mostly the words were French but I could see that this wasnt a normal part of the Catholic cathedrals services!! A special for the Easter Festival but so brilliant that it was opeend to them to do that. And then the last song they sang was Here I Am To Worship in French--awesome!! I had this crazy idea of how cool it would be to see all the old cathedrals of Europe and indeed all over the world, taken over by young people with guitars and drums and voices praising their God and drawing dead and dying congregations and communities back into life!! Back out in the market we saw a new dance craze called Tectonik which is for white boys that cant play football or dance normally. It seems girls dont do this dance and most of the time it involves some very weird coordinations of ones hands and arms waving around very quickly in the air. Feet and legs do some moves too!! Got a crepe and it was off for tea and cake in a little French village at Laure's grandmothers. Today we checked out one of the many giant wind harvesters that are all over the landscape near Toury. Then it was time for the train journey home. A great relaxing weekend--thanks Toury and thanks the Fauconnier family!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

King for a day!

So today I decided to be king for a day!! I was king David as a guest of a French family. My day went something like this: woke very late, had to wash myself as the servants were all busy. Went downstairs and ate French bread (brioche) with quince jelly and drank orange juice. Watched some French football highlights, drank some champagne and ate nibbles and then it was lunch time. Or I should say dinner! First we ate a salad with foie gras (duck pate) and walnuts, 2nd course was rosbeef and gratin dauphinois (scalloped potatoes). 3rd was cheese platter with bread, 4th was gateau à la bechamel (very yummy desert) and then I was presented with a box of locally made chocolate in the shape of very detailed rooster, hollow with chocolates inside it!! Of course there was fine French wines accompanying it all. After we had eaten although I was feeling sleepy I got into a French car (citroen) and we drove south about 80 mins to the Chateau of Chambord (my new continental residence). This is a huge and very impressive castle where many French kings have lived in past centuries. (construction began in 1519 by King Francis I) We walked right thru the castle visiting many of the rooms, I was most impressed with the double level spiral staircase (which I plan to replicate in my main castle one day). Then back to Toury (where I am a guest of the city) where dinner was awaiting! Soup and bread followed by Tourte (beef mince and vegetables in a pie crust) followed by cheeses and yoghurt and accompanied by red wine. Now I relax and digest-however being king for a day has reminded me of another King who died for His people (thats what Easter is really about) and today is the day we celebrate Him coming alive again-He is no longer dead! Only the Creator of the Universe could possibly have the power to do such a thing-I believe it all-do you? HE sure gives my life meaning when the holidays and chocolates and fun times are over.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Church setup for banquet
Posted by Picasa

Thursday in 3D-craziest day ever? or just a normal day in my job!!

Ok so its 12:42 am Friday morning but I have to write about Thursday before I try to sleep some! I arrived at work normal time--9:32. Queens College are rehearsing as I expect but find the PA isnt working. Troubleshoot that over the phone with PA guy and sort the problem. Put up church closed signs as the school will soon be doing a service and ask a guy to leave who is sitting in the church. As he starts to swear at me, I realise he is drunk and not wanting to do what I ask. I pull my phone out and threaten to call the police-he gets up and moves out of the main church but I still have to coerce him to leave completely. Go to my desk to check emails and messages. A guy arrives to sort some keys for us and make the office door shut properly so talk to him about that and then call Canon to get an engineer out to fix the photocopier which is jamming 3 days after being serviced!! Go back to check on the school and oversee their guests arriving. Am told of a leak in the toilets so arrange the caretaker to sort that out. Plumber has to be called. partway thru school service colleague comes out from office to tell me the key guy needs to see me. Right then church clown guy (name suppressed here!!) walks in the main doors. Colleague sees him at same time as me and says she'll ask the key guy to wait with a knowing laugh that I need to intercept the clown guy and send him on his way. He is in full dressup so I intercept and ask him to leave-I am successful but it takes about 15 mins as I make a phonecall on his behalf and listen to him preach to me. Finally get back to my office to see the key guy. Work at desk for a bit. 11:30 and back into main church where the service is all over. Begin to stack chairs, and move some up from downstairs. We have to move all 430 chairs downstairs and then 190 different chairs back up plus some tables. But we cant move them down until after 2pm as there is an event on downstairs!! by 2pm all chairs are stacked and most of the church is vacuumed. Volunteers arrive but then the lift stops working!! Call the buildings manager who calls the engineer out. So we move all the chairs via the stairs-takes about 4o minutes. Spend all afternoon overseeing volunteers setting various things up and moving things about. The photocopier gets fixed, then the lift gets fixed too--have no idea if the plumber came and fixed the leak!! Finally the guests arrive--the church looks amazing by this stage- very cool lighting and candles everywhere! A live band and the long tables so well laid out. I try to enjoy the night but am very tired. The lift stops working again but manage to jiggle it and get it working. Clean up a large spill of berry coulis on the church carpet!! Sit and drink wine and just watch whats going on, then its all over and have to organise people and things again as we pack up. Have to be stroppy and tell Dimity and Grace they can't vacuum tonite and must go home. Most people leave and then I get a ride home with Rico who is taking Lucy and Kendra (event organisers) home. We are all so amped up we go clubbing on the way home (nah not really but we could have!!). Now its time for sleep as tomorrow we do it all again-well not quite but it will be another long fun day!!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Posted by Picasa

IKEA virgin

My weekend hadn't been dull and yet Sunday morning came and with it a decision to really lift the weekend to new heights-a trip to IKEA! (Friday night was a great evening spent with 2nd cousins Rob and Lizzie Greenberg and Robs girlfriend Claire. We went to a Thai restuarant and then had great conversation till the early hours back at Rob and Claires flat. Saturday was touch rugby, watching Six Nations rugby and then to an African worship concert to raise money for 1 million Bibles for Ghanas youth. It was an interesting evening as there were only a handful of white people and so the singing and dancing was intense and invigorating!! Most importantly tho we learnt that less than half of the worlds languages have the written Bible. We must make Bible poverty history!!) So Dave Sinclair and I took the train to Stonebridge Park, then an IKEA shuttle bus to IKEA! I had heard much about IKEA and yes it was a large store! We followed the myriads of sheep thru the lines for the IKEA lunch (2.50 GBP) and then commandeered a trolley and proceeded around the well marked out line around the store. It is designed to make you go thru every part of the store in order to get out which sucked for us because we didnt realise there was a 2nd level which was mostly the stuff we wanted so we spent forever looking for stuff on the first level and were dissappointed not to find what we wanted and then found the 2nd level and by then had only 30 mins before we had to leave. We did leave on time to catch the shuttle just and all I had managed to buy was a 99p scented candle!! I'm sure I'll be back sometime but I still miss Wallmart and the Warehouse for those great bargains!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wings Nite!!

Tonight was wings nite. That meant meeting at the Maple Leaf Pub in Camden Garden with some other wings lovers and eating wings and chatting. Its a Canadian place that specialises in wings, and does hot wings named suicidals. They weren't that hot really tho but still good. An interesting point in the evening came after we had been given food we hadn't ordered but ate anyway and the manager came over and asked us to pay for the food. We argued a little saying the waitress had said it was for our table but he kept insisting he was being nice and we needed to pay for it. Helen (whom had stayed quiet througout) then spoke up and told the man it was his problem as they had made a mistake and he couldn't ask us to pay for it. He said "so are you telling me you are not going to pay for the food you just ate?" Helen replied "Absolutely!!" and at that he said fine and left us alone!! I was quite shocked that this seemingly normal English lass got so feisty, but then she informed me shes not really a normal English lass!! Was quite cool to see some spunk in an English girl!! Well done Helen!!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Beach Volleyball in Brighton!

Today I journeyed to my father's birthplace to find my favourite sport Beach Volleyball. The Yellowave Centre had its 1st birthday and I plan to come back here often to coach and play. Was pretty windy and cold today tho--kinda like Wellington is on the NZ pro tour!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Looks like Spring in Wandsworth common!!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My weekend in Italy


Up at 5:45am and off at 6:05am to catch the train! Still dark and rather cold! Around 8am arrive at Stansted Airport and check in. 10:35 and the RyanAir 737 takes off--destination Parma, Italy. 2 hours later we land in Parma and are rushed through customs which consists of one man glancing at our passports--no machine reading them! Juliette met me with one of her colleagues who had a car so could take me into town. Juliette had to go back to work so I explored Parma! I was amazed at the small cobbled streets with high and very old buildings so close together. And there were so many bicycles--these bicycles were like Mums bicycle when I was 8 years old. No gears and very old school style! Even the new bicycles were still this style. So I figured someone must hire them out so I got a map at the information centre and set off. Walked thru a big green area and found some giant teapots!! I approached to photograph them and had a guy come up and begin to speak a lot of Italian to me. He then found someone else to translate for me and I found out he was asking me if I wanted to buy weed!! The teapots must be the location for that!! A bit further on by the river I managed to find the bicycles and for 70 cents had one for an hour. I biked thru a large park and then negotiated some crazy busy streets to find the football stadium. I had asked the rental lady if there were any rules I should know and she said "No, the bikes can go anywhere!" And yes they did go everywhere--sometimes coming at you on the wrong side of the road but often on the footpaths dodging the pedestrians. After an hours exploring I walked back to Juliette's apartment and fell asleep on the couch. After Juliette came home we went out for some wine-here they bring you many snacks for free to eat with your wine! Then home to make lunch for the next day and get some sleep.


Caught the train at 7:50am for the 2 hour trip to the coast. The trains are big and old--not like the English trains. We went thru farmland and then hills and along a nice river--through a gorge and then I fell asleep. We got off the train in Riomaggiore which is the first of 5 towns in the Cinque Terre. We then walked along the Via dell'Amore which is an amazing path high above the sea on the cliffs. This took us to Manarola which is a very cute little town with a lovely little harbour with lots of small boats. We walked on around the coast for another hour to the 3rd town Corniglia. Here we got on the train to carry on north. The trains run all the way up the coast mostly in tunnels but occasionally pop out right on the edge of the cliff. We took the train to the 5th town Monterosso. This one has a large beach which wasn't that clean but we found some large rocks to sit on and eat lunch right beside the sea. Then we walked back to the 4th town Veranozza. This 1 1/2 hour walk was up a lot of very steep steps and then along the cliff top and then a steep descent down into Veranozza. We walked thru a lot of terraces where grapes, olives, citrus trees and other things are grown. There were water pipes everywhere! Then we stumbled upon 2 fat cats sitting on the side of the track with a lot of cat food and a cat tent! there was a sign saying to please feed these homeless cats with the food provided. They didnt move--just sat there- I guess they were too fat to move. After that we began to notice fat cats in all the towns--lots of them! From Corniglia we took the train back to Manarola where we got Italian icecream and ate it by the harbour. This was probably the cutest of the little towns. It had very steep streets and pathways between teh buildings which we explored. We stayed here a long time taking photos and waiting for sunset. Just before sunset we walked back towards Riomaggiore where on the cliffpath there is a bar/cafe. Here we bought hot chocolates--they were so thick it was like drinking a pudding-sooo good!! watched the sunset and then walked back to Riomaggiore. Explored this town and decided on a restuarant (Pizzeria Da Ciro) for dinner. Juliette had pizza and I had Parma Calzone. Unfortunately it was a little burnt and the restuarant owner tried to tell me that was normal. After dinner we had to wait about 40 minutes for the train and the temp had dropped to 8 deg but it felt like about 2!! It had got up to 16 during the afternoon and in the sun we had got quite hot hiking. We jumped around trying to keep warm and then fell asleep on the 2 hour train journey back to Parma.

Today we slept in and then walked around Parma. Went inside the cathedral which is huge and has very high ceilings with paintings all over them. Very impressive old building. It was very cold and the sun was trying to shine through! Had lunch in a nice cafe--I had crepes with Parma chese and Parma ham! mmmm! Then all too soon had to go to the airport and fly back to London. Was a great weekend, soo nice to breathe the fresh sea air and smell the salt and the sea. Gratia Juliette!!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

English Football

Today I played my 2nd real game of English Football. Its not a very high division but its FA football all the same. Last week (we won 2-0) I played my preferred right wing position and in the 2nd half felt like I was starting to get into the game. My last competitive match was at the end of September 2006 on a near perfect pitch on a beautiful sunny day at Jubilee Park in Richmond, NZ. This week I played as a centre midfielder which is not a position I am that familiar with! I had a pretty high work rate for the whole game but again my 2nd half felt better and I got a lot more hungry in challenging for the ball. Everyone seemed real happy with my performance and all commented on my work rate and that I must be tired! We drew 2-2 but should have won but for some dubious refereeing. He struggled to control the game, made some bad decisions and then it spiralled downhill. Some of our players got frustrated and he just yellow carded anyone that talked back. He also pulled them up for swearing which they often get away with in this league. So i think 4 yellow cards were issued to our team and there was much heated shouting and arguing. It damaged the match really. This team doesn't train and I think next season I will want to find a team that does train and play in a higher league. I am soon to switch to beach volleyball on Saturdays I hope--can't wait!!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

100% PURE NZ

My daily commute takes me through Victoria Station. Down at the platform on the Victoria underground line I now see 2 large advertising screens playing video footage of New Zealand. For me its a little slice of home in a big dirty grey city. Ahhhhh!!! Click on the title above to see why Kiwis are sooo proud of our country and why I love it soo much!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Well the race is really hotting up! I am loving the contest and interest created by this years US election and it is seemingly getting more Americans interested in voting. To summarize some of my opinions I would say:
1. All the Republican candidates are what you would expect a Hollywood depiction of the American President to look like--not real but good actors and I would seriously hope none of them become the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.
2. The more Hillary Clinton speaks the less she convinces me she could rule the nation let alone deal with foreign affairs (not to mention the gender issues she would face trying to be taken seriously in places such as the Middle East where females are under complete subjugation)
3. The more Bill Clinton speaks the more he makes himself and his wife look desperate to be back in power. He also seems to make her look weak and unable to be the leader she needs to be.
4. The more Obama speaks the more you see something special. This might just be the time that come 2016 both American citizens and many others around the world could be saying we wish he could stay on for a 3rd term.
So if you are a US citizen then do the research and see why you shouldn't vote Obama!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Online at home again!

Yep today I finally got internet hooked up. Nothing is simple in this country! Business systems seem to be the cause of most of the problems. I tried to pay my phone bill online but no thats not possible, not only could I not pay it from my bank account online but I also couldn't pay it on the phone networks website even tho it said I could. Customer Services assured me it wouldnt work and she didnt know why it said online that I could! In fact paying for things seems to always be a hassle. So many places won't take card unless you spend over 5 GBP and some places just dont take card at all. They are still very reliant on cash and cheques are still widely in use it seems. On Friday our boiler quit working meaning no heat in the house and no hot water either! The earliest an engineer can get here to fix it is Tuesday!! You would think they have after hours call outs esp. in Winter but no. So we are all rugged up in our freezing cold house and will have to find somewhere for a shower before Tuesday! Went to a soccer game today with a local club. I could get a game with them next week. They don't train however so I may keep hunting for a club that trains. I would love to get involved with a semi-pro club as it seems that most others dont take training very seriously at this stage in the season. Have found a beach volleyball venue in Brighton and they want coaches so have asked me to come down and see them. They are even hosting the World Under 21 Champs in September. Meanwhile back in NZ, Anna improved again on the NZ Pro Tour with a 17th and 3 13th placings. Check her out here!