28 July 2015

The carrot cake mum made us as a celebration

 

This past week we've been in Auckland, in part so that both Atlas and I could study and undergo our class 2 driver license assessments.  We reasoned that if we are to stay on in Europe and travel around a little, after our initial 3 months in Germany, it makes sense to do so in a motorhome as it gives us transport and accommodation in one and greater flexibility.  As with here in NZ, the motorhomes that are large enough for us in Germany require more than a class one (light vehicle) license.  

Here's a summary (pdf download) of who may drive what in Germany if you are normally resident outside the European Union.

 

It was a bit of a splurge seeing as perhaps we could get away with only one of us able to drive a heavy vehicle, but we were heeding the sage advice of families who have gone before us who said it's best both adults qualify in case one or other is not well, tired or otherwise.  The drive up was a case and point - Atlas was only able to drive a couple of hours before he had back pain so I took over for the other 5.

 

Our instructor was more interested in making sure we had reached a high level of competency practically than the other companies we canvassed.  Unfortunately there was no discount for having already passed the 2L but that was more than made up for in the time he spent on the practical driving skills which were included in the course fee; and the one component that I really wanted to know I had fully mastered.

 

I wasn't looking forward to driving in Auckland at all, in fact I have only driven a car there once and had to navigate the southern motorway where a rice truck had met its fate, stalling traffic and increasing the natural disposition locals have for road rage.  Still I went in with an open mind and it turned out to be the least of my concerns.

Nothing could have prepared me for an old-model stick-shift Hino truck.  NOTHING!

After my first 1-hour lesson the stress was so much I shed a tear while swapping the drivers seat for the passenger's - so Atlas could take his turn in the hot seat.

There was no way in heaven or hell that I could see myself passing the final assessment.  I felt like a dunce.

I HATED IT!

How could people sitting other courses having done absolutely no practical truck driving and go straight to sitting their practical assessment?  That totally floors me.

 

Dad tried to remind me that getting your 2F is really an 'invitation to learn', just like when you get your full class 1 vehicle license you don't know all that you need to at that point either.  He even took me for a ride in his Iveco but it was so different it just didn't compare or instill me with a confidence boost for the next day.

 

For the second session at least the cab was familiar but boy was I pushed.  Instead of just crawling around narrow suburban streets full of parked cars I was hurled onto one of Auckland's busy streets - Dominion Road, and then onto the Southern motorway.  Thankfully we had missed the morning rush-hour traffic.  After that we drove all around the back of Mangere and Papatoetoe through road works, reversing, rain, industrial zones, more roundabouts, traffic lights and rural zones, taking the truck up to 6th gear and down again repeatedly and rapidly.  I liked the motorway and reversing best.

 

In some ways our instructor was a hard task master barking orders, raising his voice, and freely meeting out chastisement but on the other hand I began to appreciate that if I listened and did what he said I would be okay and rise to the challenge.   

Who would have thought that in one day I would progress from snail's pace in suburbia to moving on the motorway?  That's something I though was going to take me weeks. 

 

Getting my class 2 license was like a tug of war.  On the one hand I wanted the freedom that being able to drive a HT vehicle gave our family (and I didn't want to be the one that held us back from our dreams) but on the other I didn't really want to push myself that far outside of my comfort zone.  Having passed, I am under no illusion that I can get in any cab and drive but at least now I am more willing to the opportunity.  I could if I needed to.  I do want to practise more so that I gain confidence and skills in handling a variety of different vehicles, and am not quite sure how that might happen before we leave as there is still so much to be done otherwise and we don't know anyone specifically who has a class 2 vehicle.

Actually driving overseas will be another matter again though.  I am thinking we need to plan quite a few short trips in the first couple of weeks, off the beaten track so Atlas and I get used to: any vehicle we may beg, borrow or buy; and driving on the right hand side of the road too.

 

For those looking at preparing for their Class 2 license here are a few tips that I hope will help you:

  • drive as many other vehicles than your own in the weeks leading up to the training: both automatic and manual
  • drive a vehicle or two that sit higher on the road so you get used to the different panorama
  • really look at your own vehicle and it's condition - familiarise yourself with all the areas that require maintenance and take care of them: tyres, water, oil, windscreen wipers, etc.  
  • read the NZTA guides to Fatigue / Logbooks and general Heavy Transport driving.  These are a good overview to the basics which are covered in the Unit Standards albeit more pedantically. 
  • if you have the opportunity to ride-along with a friend or colleague take it or if passing a parked truck peek in the window at the layout of the cab.  Both will help you feel more comfortable sitting in the driver's seat.
  • it might even be a good discipline to start a log book with date, odometer start and finish readings, & reason for trip; and then add a start and finish location too to get you in the frame of mind of recording everything for your logbook component.
  • get at least your medical check before you start your course.  Trying to have this done at a GP that might be able to take you on day 1 of your course will most likely mean paying a lot extra.
  • although ultimately have your learner's license prior.  There is just so much detailed information that you need to process over the 2 - 4 days of your course that it's best not to have to cram for the theory test too.
Auckland
26 February 2015

 

Art Deco weekend is overwhelming in it's sights and sounds.  Whereas you can wander around the streets any other day and your brain is trained to block out the normal (attire) during Art Deco it simply can't.  Everything is an assault on your senses.  Working with that we find it helps to choose just one or two events to focus on.  This year it was the Born to Move dance encore (for the girls) and the Automobilia parade.

 

The former gave a top notch hour-long dance performance, and the later boasted over 250 cars this year.  

 

The parade was definitely too long to really captivate and hold one's attention and unfortunately inconsiderate public stood right in front of where our family had been waiting in the blazing sun for 45 minutes for it to begin.  Disappointing.  

 

The dance encore however combined story, music, theatre and dance - one of my favourite being the Gershwin's 'Blah, blah, blah" below.  The infatuation between the couple was palpable and had me wishing I was their age falling in love again.

 

[These images were taken from about 50m away from the stage unfortunately so not as crisp as I would have wanted but good enough without a telephoto lense.]

Bringing Gershwin's 'Blah Blah Blah' to life

 

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH"
Originally written for East is West
Used in Delicious (film) (1931)
Resurrected for Nice work if you can get it on Broadway in 2012
 
LYRICS BY IRA GERSHWIN
(Music by George Gershwin)
 
I’ve written you a song,  
A beautiful routine.   
(I hope you like it.)   
My technique can’t be wrong:   
I learned it from the screen.   
(I hope you like it.)   
I studied all the lines that all the lovers sing;   
Then just for you I wrote this little thing:  
 
Blah, blah, blah, blah, moon.  
Blah, blah, blah, above;   
Blah, blah, blah, blah, croon,   
Blah, blah, blah, blah, love.   
Tra la la la, tra la la la la merry month of May; 
Tra la la la, tra la la la la ‘neath the clouds of gray 
Blah, blah, blah, your hair,   
Blah, blah, blah, your eyes;    
Blah, blah, blah, blah, care.   
Blah, blah, blah, blah, skies.   
Tra la la la, tra la la la la la, cottage for two--   
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah darling, with you!   

 

 

Madison Bowey, http://www.starnow.co.nz/MadisonBowey

 

 

Sailor's proposing to their captain that they need women on the ship!

 

 

A couple of the multitude of Art Deco buildings that can be seen any day in Napier if you only look up; and a couple of fly-over shots.

 

Emmerson St, Napier

 

Public Trust building, Napier

 

Fly-over up Emmerson Street, Napier

 

Aerobatics at the top of Upper Emmerson St, Napier

Hawke's Bay
19 February 2015

 

Due to hosting exchange students in our earlier family life, and home educating our children, we are always on the look out for how to discover our local community, events and activities.

Initially there was and still is the free local community newspaper (most areas have these) delivered to our letterbox; but now there is also a nationwide website Eventfinder to help find out what's on.  It seems that an increasing number of new individuals & organisations are using this medium making it more of a comprehensive go-to guide. 

The useful option with Eventfinder is that you can subscribe to their RSS feed and get alerts straight to your inbox, and this is what we do for any free events.  Occasionally you get the surreptitious marketing of a free-but-you-really-pay event and the gig-in-the-pub-which-actually-is-an-invitation-to-drink event but on the whole for our area there are at least a couple of family-friendly activities that we can choose from each week.

The trick, especially leading up to the coming Art Deco weekend is limiting the number of 'things' you do or see.

 

It's probably preaching to the converted if you do have young children but my advice is only one per day preferably in the morning when children are more rested.  Well at least that's what we find and particularly if not all of the family are on board with the chosen experience - you can't please everyone all of the time. 

 

Here are some of the things we do to get the seven of us on the road and try to stay sane:

  • Let the children know where we are going and what exactly we are doing.
  • Tell them how to dress for the outing; and if they should bring a back-up activity like a book.
  • Set a leaving time and if possible let them know when we are likely to return.
  • Take our going out basket with plenty of water and food; and sun-block if summer.
  • Plan for toilet / playground stops / breaks.
  • Catch the children being 'good' and reinforce good attitudes (we're still working on this)

 

In our house sometimes 'what's there to do?' actually involves consciously choosing 'nothing' and staying home to relax and just be -  usually at the parents insistence as younger children always appear to have the energy of the Everyready bunny (if it's for something they like!).  We might get a dvd out to watch, work together on a(n art) project, bake or cook together, or play board/table games - those that want to that is.  

There is always someone who would rather not participate which as the CO-parent (Chief Operating parent) I find frustrating.  I am learning that a child's 'do I have to?' is really just their way of saying 'I want to feel as if I have a choice too please' and am trying to work with this.  Sometimes this means giving them the choice of not participating if this is an option; of acknowledging their feelings and apologising that for this time they don't have a choice; or finding out what they would rather do and trading it off against what is planned.

 

Hawke's Bay

How do you manage balancing your family's needs and wants?

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