MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Well, where do I start - it's been an amazing year and lots of change for me. Fell in love, quit my job with the Department of Conservation in Hokitika, moved to Wellington, went to university part-time, got a part-time job with DoC in Head Office, and we are presently finalising all the financial deals over house buying - ended up with a rather different house from the "larger turn of the century villa" we were looking for back in June! Discovered it was for sale quite by coincidence - we were looking at the sunny ridge which we could see from our present flat, and we decided to see if a friend's house was still on the market. Her next door neighbour had bought it, but he told us that he thought 11 Koromiko, was for sale. It was - and even better, we bought it as a private sale, avoiding all the hassles and expense of real estate agents. So we move in on Dec 18th, and hope to get at least two flatmates at some stage.
It's really a "furniture and possessions free" house - which suits us. The house is built onto a steep hillside on four levels, with 36 steps between the lower entrance/main bedroom and the upper kitchen/living area. It's designed by a local Wellington architect Roger Walker, and built in 1969. Roger Walker houses are always rather different - this one is no exception. Circular concrete pipes for windows, lots of glass "walls", huge wide doors, and a mixture of almost every type of building material. It's recently been painted in purple, dark green, beige, terra cotta, black and white.
Its only 25 mins walk from the centre of town, close to the University and city offices , and great to be able to just walk into the city in the evenings. The only problem is that living in a "normal" house after we leave this one might be hard!
Work continues with Dept. of Conservation - I'm working in the Estate Protection Policy Division with the Possum Management Project Team. The Department has a budget of $6 million per year to control possums - and we're trying to co-ordinate and monitor the conservancies - a fairly large task. Chris also works for the Department as a marine ecologist and has been involved with quite a lot of marine biology field work during the last year - mainly two week long diving trips to Fiordland living on board the DOC vessel "Renown", a 20m long steel hulled ex-fishing vessel, nearly 25yrs old and nearing the end of it's days! It was fitted out for working the otherwise inaccessible Fiordland and Subantarctic Islands areas about 20yrs ago, and accommodates up to 9 people - although they usually work with groups of 5 to 7 - including at least 4 divers. They've been working on the ecological impacts of removing sea urchins (kina) in commercial quantities (for the Japanese markets) on the subtidal seaweeds and selected invertebrates. They've also done a baseline survey for a newly created marine reserve in Milford Sound. As Unit Leader for the "Aquatic Biota" group Chris spends most of his time in Wellington doing people/ research/ financial management with the ten other scientists in the group.
We've both just come back from two weeks away in the South Island - caving for a week on Mt. Arthur with the Wellington Caving Group - mainly the University - Victoria Cavers. We were trying to re-discover caves found about 12 years ago - above the end of Nettlebed Cave. This is now a very significant "missing link" area between the main Nettlebed tributary caves of the Ellis Basin, and the Pearse Resurgence. We had great weather, eventually found and positively identified some of these known caves - including one that had been "lost" since 1969. However didn't really do any actual caving - except into the large accommodation cave for cooking tea each evening. Twelve or so people built sleeping platforms - it however had the atmosphere of a fridge - cold, damp and dark!! We choose to battle the wind outside in our tent. Then went on down to Mt. Cook with some friends to cross over to the West Coast over the Copland Pass - got up to the foot of the pass but the famous West Coast clouds were sweeping over the top with high winds, no visibility and almost blizzard conditions. We retreated to Mt Cook! After Christmas we intend heading to Mt Owen (just north of Murchison) to go caving in the Bulmer system for ten days. The area really has some stunning scenery - amazing shaped rocks and mountain tops of water worn marble. The campsite is next to a small lake - and in summer the "onion weed" is in full bloom - large swatches of yellow cover the valley sides. Makes it very difficult to put on cold, wet caving overalls!!
It's been a year of amazing change for both of us - Chris and I have been together now for over a year now - we are still very much in love and have no doubt that we will be for many years to come. It's been a very affirming year for both of us - we have both come out to family, friends and work colleagues (at least those we mix with socially), and have not had any adverse reaction from anyone. Chris and I will never regret being open about our love for one another, and the support we've had has been really encouraging. Tama (Chris's son) and his friends have been particularly unphased - Tama stays with here every Wednesday and every other weekend. It's been interesting to observe the complete lack of surprise from everyone involved in house buying, that we were buying the house as a couple.
Well - that's all the news.....
Merry Christmas and lots of happiness for the New Year.