Hope this finds you well and happy. Again a year of change for me - Kris and I both fell in love with another guy, Andy Maloney - a caver from the UK. He turned up to stay last January - in advance of the rest of his caving group. Before he returned to the UK in March we agreed to all live together as a 'triple', and that he would sell his house in Lincolnshire and move permanently to NZ. Kris and I were already planning on visiting UK/Denmark in September to meet our respective relatives in September, so Andy organised to move to NZ in early October. We all had three weeks together in the UK meeting our respective parents, Andy's friends, and for me, at the BCRA Conference in Sheffield - caving friends from some 20 years ago.
All is working out really well. Andy is a vet, and wanted to get back into locuum work here in Wellington, so accepted a contract to staff the After Hours Vet Clinic for a year - all night work, weekends and public holidays - but every weekday free to go parapenting, climbing, diving, biking etc. Seems he's also met up with a bunch of others around town who are also able to get away for a day when the weather is right.
Kris and I still work for the Dept. of Conservation, Kris - the national coordinator of $12 million of possum and goat killing operations and me - still with about four jobs, including managing a group of 12 other scientists; being a marine researcher/SCUBA diver; advising on the survey/monitoring of NZ's marine reserves; and managing about $1 million of fisheries bycatch work - and an annual statutory consultation process to collect the money to pay for it all! The $$'s come from a levy on the NZ commercial fishing industry which pays for us to monitor, mitigate, and research impacts etc. of marine mammal (sea lions, seals, dolphins) and seabird (albatrosses etc.) bycatch resulting from fishing operations i.e. trawling, longlinning etc.
Tama has just finished the sixth form and is working his holidays and after school setting up Internet pages for the Dept. of Internal Affairs. He's really into computers, and overall doing really well at school - besides computing he's also doing maths, science and graphic design. He's very happy and sociable, has some really neat friends (about 10 of them are all away together in a remote part of the Marlborough Sounds this week), and I think Pam and I are incredibly lucky in having such a easy, well adjusted, and fun to be with teenager. He's bigger/taller than me now - and still into team sports like cricket, tennis and hockey. Pams got a new job working at the Correspondence School - teaching via mail/TV etc, for kids in remote rural areas. She's enjoying working away from the classroom - in an adult work environment - living at 5 Hungerford Road, Lyall Bay, Wellington if you want to keep in touch. We see each other socially every so often and seem to get on well still.
On the house front - renovations are proceeding to assist in the three of us moving down to the lowest level of the house, which has an en suite bathroom - I ripped up the old bathroom, refitted with two showers and a "wet floor" to save space of shower "boxes" etc. Plasterer starts tomorrow - part 43 of a multistage, now two month old process!! Luckily we still have another functioning bathroom upstairs.
Still keeping caving - planning on a trip to the Berger next October - after the International Speleo Conference in Switzerland. Hope we can get to do both. Also planning on a recce trip to Irian Jaya, maybe next year - to the plateau to the north of the Carstenez Pyramid (Mt. Irian). I borrowed a slide of a "Hull Pot" like feature from Doug Scott after seeing it in his recent slide show tour of NZ in June. Also we have a friend who's just got a job at the big copper mine over the hill to the south - they are very touchy about access via their mine, but it may be helpful to have some inside running on what's possible............
Andy's keen to visit friends and family in the UK - probably once every two years - so I may also be back in the UK more often, especially if we can combine with visits to exotic places like Scotland - never yet visited by me! Do feel free to drop by Wellington if you are passing this way - although Tama lives with us about half of the time and we have two flatmates Sonia and Jules........ there is still a spare room and lots of floorspace, and a flat patch of lawn for tents (on an otherwise ultrasteep hillside). Love to see you again......... lots of things to do in NZ if you are looking for new holiday ideas etc.......... Byeee for now............. lots of hugs............ have a good new year ahead............. and...... keep in touch.