After getting married in September 2010 we decided to do the opposite of settling down; so we packed up our life, stuffed it in our parent's attic and hit the road for what is essentially an extended honeymoon! We started our trip on 29th December 2010 spending 4 months travelling overland through Europe, Russia and Mongolia to China. After many a train and bus journey we caved-in and flew from Western China to Malaysia, and worked our way north to Thailand and Cambodia. The time came for us to replenish our bank accounts, so we headed to Western Australia for work in July 2011 and lived in Fremantle until February 2012. After a couple of months back home seeing our families and friends, we headed back down-under. This time we headed for New Zealand and we are currently living in Wellington. Our blog started as part of an elaborate wedding present from two of our very good friends. The idea was that on our trip we should blog from every country we visit, detailing the sights, sounds and smells and most importantly, the beer. We have certainly had fun writing it - but moreso, living it!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Wellington - October & November 2012

Looking back over October and November has been quite a feat so I shall endeavour not to bore you all rigid with long descriptions! First up, my birthday. A very indulgent weekend, beginning with an after work meal at La Boca Loca in Miramar. Due to Weta workshop being in Miramar there are some very good eateries around, and we had had our eye on this Mexican joint for a while. We were blown away by the fresh flavours and also enjoyed some proper Tequila, which completely changed our minds about it only being something you consume a the end of a very boozy night. The night after we went to see 'An Angel at My Table', part of the 'Festival of Madness on Film', a slightly dated but nonetheless classic Kiwi film based on the autobiography of Janet Frame. Janet Frame is a celebrated Kiwi author who won her first literary award the day before she had been due to have a lobotomy to deal with her ongoing mental health issues. Right up my street! My birthday present from Liam (who was working that day) was an afternoon spent at 'Craft Beer College' tasting beers on a 'course' entitled Pathway to Hoppiness. Needless to say it was a very merry afternoon tasting all kinds of hoppy beers from around the world. We rounded off the weekend with fish and chips from Martin Bosleys, a Wellington institution of beautiful food, toning itself down of a Sunday arvo so plebs like us can afford to eat there, watching the sunset over the harbour. Gorgeous.

I jumped at the chance of seeing the National Theatre Live at the cinema again, and this time it was Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  Having read the book I was intrigued as to whether they would be able to pull it off, but it was another mind-blowing production! We also watched Looper, The Angel's Share, and Argo, all of which I would recommend, particularly Argo for it's edge-of-your-seat depiction of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. At the theatre we watched Tigers of Wrath, a commentary on growing up and selling out which depicted a group of socialist students visiting communist China in the 70s. I attended a play reading of Mike and Virginia by Kathryn Burnnet and Nick Ward, a satirical romantic comedy, which was deservedly well attended. I also went along to Janet and John by Ken Duncum, based on the friendship on Janet Frame (the subject of the previously mentioned film 'An Angel at My Table') and John Money, a sexologist made famous by his royal stuffing up of the John/Joan case. The playwright gave a brief introduction and for some reason told us the ending, which seemed unnecessary, and I'm not entirely sure you would have 'got it' had you had no prior knowledge of who Janet and John were. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it. We were part of the studio audience at the filming of Fix TV (Episode 3), which was very entertaining. It was a fun experience to see the workings of a studio television show, and it is hosted by our favourite local muso Adam Page.

Onto the most important bit, the beer! We managed to get to a few beery events; The ones to write home about were the Pacific Beer Expo (lots of yummy beers from Australia, NZ and America) and the Emersons Annual Beer Options (basically a fun pub quiz, where beer was the subject as well as the beverage in your hand). Eventually Liam will hopefully write about these events on his other blog. We also a couple of events at one of our favourite bars in town, the Malthouse for the Old World IPA Challenge and Epic tap takeover. The Old World IPA challenge showcased English style IPAs rather than the hop-tastic modern American style favoured in New Zealand. Honestly, it seemed a little hit and miss to us, some a bit too sweet (as is the Kiwi way with a lot of things) and some chilled and carbonated to an inch of their lives, which doesn't always work with subtler beers.

I was obviously in learning mode and attended classes in Maori, ukelele, cheese-making, and zombie biology(!).  The Maori class was quite interesting but not particularly to my learning style (think 'bloke with a guitar', but I'm definitely more of a visual learner), and the ukelele class made me realise I'm terrible at strumming. I learned to make ricotta, paneer, cream cheese and feta at a lovely community class. I've already showed off my ricotta and cream cheese making skills at home and Santa even got me some little bits and pieces of equipment needed for the others, so hopefully we'll be off to a very cheesy new year! The zombie biology class was quirky and interesting, with the basic premise being that zombies do exist (and they had exhibits on hand tied up who were at times pretty scary!). They examined what might cause zombification, such as disease, genetic mutations, poison etc, and showed real life examples of others species which act like zombies when afflicted by parasites. Cool stuff!

We spent a night away in Martinborough, a wine region north of Wellington celebrated for it's peppery Pinot Noirs. We hired a car for a couple of days and enjoyed the hair-raising drive over the Rimutaka Mountain range, which makes Snake Pass between Manchester and Sheffield look like child's play.  Martinborough itself is very small and relaxed but has some nice delis and cafes and a nice atmosphere about the place. After enjoying coffee and cake in a cute cafe featuring some comedy letters from their chicken suppliers on the wall (endorsing their commitment to serving hygienically prepared fried chicken), we took in a few of the wineries. We had intended on walking but the changeable weather had put us off. We were glad it had as it appeared most of the wineries were actually shut, so it would have been a frustrating walk! We had tasters from Schubert Wines and Te Kairanga Wines, which were both very nice and we were served by very knowedgable and friendly hosts. The former was tiny but very pricey, so it was interesting to try the kind of wines we wouldn't normally buy. Afterwards we had a proper sit-down drink at Margrain Vineyard, overlooking the vines and the twee dutch-style houses in the distance. We stayed in a teeny cabin on a campsite and greatly enjoyed the feeling of 'getting away' that we've found difficult to do from Wellington thus far (on account of not having a car and there not actually being all that much anywhere near Wellington that you can get to on public transport).

Halloween saw us getting frocked up as a Geisha and Jesus (I'll let you guess who was what) for our friend Sarah's party, where we drank 'til the small hours before walking home and getting odd looks from workmen (it took a while for us to realise I still had my geisha makeup on!). Guy Fawkes night saw an impressive firework display on the water front, which we watched while eating homemade treacle toffee and marvelling at the spectacular fireworks, all the while watching the planes come in to land as normal just around the bay, must have been an amazing view from up there!

November, of course, was the premiere of The Hobbit. Finishing work early to head down to the two block long red carpet down Courtenay Place was very exciting, and we managed to catch a glimpse of Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and a whole host of other people we didn't recognise make their entrance. We had managed to bag spots out of the front of previously mentioned bar The Malthouse, and stood sipping pints of Yeastie Boys 'Golden Perch', a specially brewed golden ale (the beers namesake is apparently what the dwarves drink in the books), perfect for the spectacularly sunny afternoon. We are looking forward to watching the film itself, despite hearing from a colleague who was at premiere that the new high frame 3D version was extremely visually overwhelming and nausea inducing!

I also went to see a friend's work at the Massey University Exposure Exhibition. She has just finished a Textile Design degree and was displaying her final pieces. She had produced 3 dance outfits, all designed to make different sounds as the wearer moved their body. Very cool stuff indeed, check out her website here. The rest of the time was spent doing the usual; meeting up with friends, Liam getting out and about on his bike, book club, yoga and choir. We hiked to the south coast through the town belt (only a couple of hours from where we live) and were rewarded with some pretty sweet views over the city and out to sea, and finally paid a visit to the pretty seaside suburb of Island Bay.

In other news, we have moved into a new house. It's a teeny studio in the downstairs of a hillside house, overlooking the woodland of the town belt and, if you crane your neck and squint through the trees, the south coast. We are chuffed to bits with it and have settled in nicely, and even befriended the cat that lives upstairs.

Work-wise, I have transferred to a night position at a different house (same company) which I am thrilled about as it means I have way more free-time in the day, and no more early starts! I have also (finally!) applied for the Clinical Psychology PHD course I am hoping to do next year, so that's a weight of my mind. And Christmas, of course, was fabulous, but you'll have to wait for the next installment to read about it ;-)

Well, check us out, publishing not too long after the event!  Hope you have enjoyed getting (almost) bang up-to-date with our goings on!

Love to you all, we misssss yoooooooou xx

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