- Dear friends
This is not, SADLY, to arrange a hike. I may well get my knuckles rapped for using the sathikers website as a communication channel, but it's a great way to keep in touch with a lot of folks at once! I'm sorry this mail has taken me so loooong to write. I think of you every day, so my silence has nothing to do with out-of-sight-out-of-mind.
I hope all's going well for you there in HK. I miss you all and everything about HK except Good Hope School, and have been reading the hiking details with interest and a huge dollop of longing!
I've been here almost a month and can hardly believe it - so I woke up this morning determined to make up for my silence. Winter is turning rapidly to spring and gardens here in Auckland look great - magnolia and camellias everywhere, and trees hung thick with blossom. Almost every home has a garden so walking around is always a joy. I walk every day but haven't set foot on a hiking trail yet! I just walk around the streets near my brother's home, and walk from faraway shopping centres when I've been to the bank. I walk to the supermarket and carry heavy loads home in my effort to keep fit and healthy. There are hiking groups here, of course, but I always feel I could be on the verge of going off down south so I haven't joined one yet. I want to visit friends i Lower Hut (near Wellington) and Gristchurch, because I lived in both of those cities for more than 10 years.
I'm living with my eldest brother Brian and sister-in-law Carolyn and they are kind and friendly people. I enjoy their company very much and their two young cats keep us highly entertained. The All Blacks are involved in a number of end-of-rugby-season competitions so there's often an excting match to watch, and plenty of tension, esp. when they're playing the Wallabies or the Springboks ! Brian and Carolyn are very keen readers who own hundreds of books, so it's like living in a library and the only taxing decision is choosing which of the dozens of possibilities to read next!
I've been catching up on friends: travelled an hour north by coach (to Warkworth, a very pleasant rural town) to spend a day with Jenny McKay and her family, which was delightful, and hired a car for 5 days to visit a friend even further north in Whangarei. I've taken a ferry to Beachlands, a very distant beach suburb of Auckland, too far really to be a suburb, and spent a couple of days with a friend who now only teaches Wed-Fri.
A friend who's still teaching said she would talk to her principal about my doing some relieving teaching at her school, and that scared me! Teaching NZ teenagers again might be fine, but I'm not in a rush to find out!
I've been checking up on my investments, too, because a number of small investment companies here are going belly-up and people who had invested all their savings there have lost the lot - at least temporarily and perhaps permanently. How depressing that would be! I want my savings to work for me now, since I'm not working. I'll have to get a whole lot smarter about smart investing, though, so I'm tracking down a book written by a NZ woman on the subject of money management for the lay-person.
I spent many hours filling in the very detailed 12-page application for VSA (Voluntary Service Abroad) and have already received a reply, and an offer of a "job" teaching English in Bougainville Look it up; it's in the N. Pacific and appears to be part of Papua New Guinea. My cousin tells me that B'ville has been seeking independence from PNG for years so I trust I won't be involved in a civil war! I'm really not sure at all - it could be terribly hot and full of mosquitoes but it would certainly be an experience! It is truly, truly out-of-the-way. According to the atlas I've been poring over, on which it appears very very small, it does appear to have a mountain and some hills, so there's a probability of exercise...I'll let you know what I decide to do, of course!
Please mail me when you have a minute and I'll gladly reply. I'm not exactly rushed off my feet these days! Any piece of news you send me will be of interest to me, no piece of news too small.
I miss you all very much and wish you a happy and adventuresome hiking season and, if you're a teacher, an enjoyable first term. God bless you!
Lots of love