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Weeknotes #5

Weeknotes for April 2nd 2019

Published by Vincent Pickering

Only 2 weeks late. Considering I now live in the future, that’s quite an achievement.

Week 1: Packing

The week began, frantically trying to work out how much we could take in the air and how much would need to go via Sea freight. We worked out Singapore Airlines grant you additional luggage space for migrants, we could also lug my son’s Car seat and a lap top bag for free. This made for an almost comical amount of luggage we would have to juggle, we even had to pay for an extra bag because we couldn’t fit electronics in, that we certainly didn’t want to put in hold or sea freight and arrive a pile of broken bits. 4 Hold bags, 3 cabin bags, a car seat, a laptop bag and the wife’s handbag.

Because we are planners, we also deduced we should pack smart. We planned a layover in Singapore to help with jet lag and because its an awesome place to visit. We also planned a short layover in Auckland before getting to Wellington, due to the international flights all going to Auckland first. Singapore Airlines are also great in that you can check-in your luggage 48 hours before departure. This meant we could depart our first flight to Singapore and immediately check-in our bags to the New Zealand flight before we left the airport, this only left our hand luggage to take to the hotel.

There was one wrinkle. The final leg of our flight was Air New Zealand, which had a stricter weight limit for hold bags, this lead to us unfortunately having to restrict our hold bags to Air New Zealand limits and repack everything once we realised. This was not a fun day.

During all the packing “fun”, we had arranged for the RSPCA to come and pick up all our unwanted furniture, so I dismantled a bed and helped carry a ton of old furniture in to the back of a van, honestly I couldn’t believe how much we had accumulated over the years, especially as we had changed our study in to a nursery then a kids room. It adds up.

Also approximately 12,03123 trips to the tip. (that might be a slight exaggeration, but it certainly felt like it).

Week 1: The Star Inn

That evening my wife went out with her friends for a last goodbye and my mother in-law arrived to help us pack and spend one last weekend with her grandson.

The following day my son got his quality time with his Granny while the wife and I treated ourselves to an early anniversary treat.

We got married at the incredible Pheasant Hotel in Harome. Before we left the country we wanted to go back one last time and eat in the restaurant (food is insanely good). Unfortunately it was closed for a refit, luckily this gave us an excuse to try out the related Michelin Starred Star Inn which is less than 1 minutes walk away.

On arrival we were greeted with a very familiar face. The man who managed our wedding (and caught our croquembouche wedding cake when it melted, HERO). He had a new job and been promoted to maitre d’ hotel. He recognised us instantly and it was a lovely unexpected memory of our wedding to happen. He looked after us just as well the second time 😃

We ate 3 courses each and a great bottle of pinot noir. I would highly recommend it. The game dishes are particularly excellent. Prices are fair too, with a variety to suit casual and formal dining.

Week 2: Removal day

Up until this point it was stressful, but nothing had “gone wrong”. Through all the Visa shenanigans, getting a job, getting our house sold. All complicated things, but we had worked through them.

We had been told the freight packers would arrive on the Monday morning. Diligently my wife began marking things up that should go in sea freight and what should be left, while I took my son to school for his last day.

Sebastian’s last school day was really special, his teacher and the kids had decided together that they were going to miss him a lot so they were having a “Seb day”. They spent the day baking cakes together, learning about New Zealand and then they were all allowed to say goodbye to him in their own way, some gave hugs, some handshakes and a few of his best mates came up with a special fist bump, he loved it. His school was really special, going against the trend of grades over experience. Hopefully we can find a school in New Zealand that matches it.

When I arrived back at home the packers still hadn’t arrived, so we called to find out when they were due in. They gave us some half-baked story on the phone about being stuck in traffic, but when they finally arrived at 1pm, the packers told us they had been taken off another job. They had forgotten about us. To make matters worse we were a “3-4 person job” and they had us down as a “1-2 person”. Luckily for them, we had planned 1 days contingency before we got on the flight to clean the house or if anything went wrong.

My wife disappeared to sell the car and pick up our rental, a massive estate she referred to as “A boat”. We needed it for all our luggage, and we also had to squeeze a king sized mattress in it and take it to the tip. Fun times.

We stayed down the road at a hotel for the night (no beds in ours!) and the packers returned in the morning.

The next day while the packers finished the job they should have done yesterday, we set about cleaning the house around them and doing yet more runs to the tip, aided by our wonderful neighbours.

When the packers had finished they asked us to “confirm we have EVERYTHING”. We checked it looked good so we signed the forms and they left. About an hour later the cleaning was nearly done when I turned to my wife and asked why the giant expensive mirror was still on the wall and not in the freight truck. Shit.

Because we had signed the forms, they would not pick up the mirror. They did say however if we delivered the mirror by 4pm to their yard they would put it in the container at no charge. A furious google search later it turned out it was a minor detour on the way to the airport.

We had arranged to stay at the Raddison that night at Manchester Airport and meet family that night for goodbye drinks and food, thankfully this was late at night so we had a lot of activities to squash in to a short time:

  • Hand deliver the Virgin box back. They are useless and despite me telling them multiple times I would not be in the house they insisted on sending the return box after we were leaving the country.
  • Sell the TV. UK TV’s don’t work in New Zealand correctly, usually you get no sound, owing to being on a different PAL setting.
  • Deliver the mirror. Nothing like a sprint down the M26 at rush hour against the clock to get the blood pumping.
  • Arrive at the hotel, we arrived and Seb promptly fell over and cut himself badly. So we fumbled in to the posh hotel with a bleeding, crying child and a megaton of luggage we couldn’t handle, fun times!

Thankfully we made it all with minutes to spare and got to the pub on time to say our goodbyes.

Week 2: Manchester to Singapore

The flight was scheduled for 11am, and we left on time. Unfortunately no one in our cabin seemed to be skilled at travelling long haul and they all watched their entertainment systems for 10 hours straight, which meant sleeping was a pain 😦

Week 2: Singapore

Once we touched down in Singapore we went for a coffee and checked in our bags. It was early morning so we took our time and boarded the Metro. I love the Singapore metro, its a super cheap way to get around and always punctual. We took the metro to our hotel, the Park Royal it’s on Pickering Road so we had to treat ourselves. This place is incredible, the thing I love about Singapore is all the greenery in such a built up area, but the Park Royal really is playing in a different league. While we waited for our room to be ready we chilled in the infinity pool and cooled down from the 38C heat.

As soon as the room was ready we all crashed for a few hours to catch up on the jetlag, no one slept well on that flight.

A few hours later and refreshed we made a beeline for the Hawker stalls. The food in Singapore is unreal, but you will pay a high price if you visit restaurants, the hawker stalls and Clarke Quay are a better option.

We ended up after Seb protested at a Malaysian grill in Clarke Quay, it hit the spot. Unfortunately people were too tired for the fireworks show at Gardens by the bay, so we went to bed.

The next day we awoke and went to visit the Merlion, unfortunately when we got there we discovered it was under maintenance and we had to trudge back. This round trip reminded me of the one thing I wasn’t thrilled about last time we visited. My son is only 4 years old and has blonde hair and blue eyes, this results in him regularly being photo bombed by random Asian holiday makers. They often don’t ask, they just grab him, take a picture and dash off. He is utterly bemused by the whole thing and sometimes it upsets him. I’ve gone to a great effort since he was born not to post pictures of him online. I’ve always believed that it should be his right to control what pictures of him are on the internet forever. That was my choice so I don’t see why he shouldn’t have the same right. Carelessly uploading pictures of him online seems irresponsible, so I refrain. Despite my efforts there are probably tons of photos on him looking befuddled on Chinese Facebook or it’s equivalent. I guess you really can’t prevent every picture slipping through.

Back at the hotel, we grabbed our bags and checked out. The flight wasn’t until the late evening, so we went back to visit Singapore Zoo, easily one of the best zoos in the world. Unfortunately this time we didn’t have time to go to the night safari, if you get a chance go. It’s incredible, and definitely visit the show before hand!

After a day at the zoo we hopped on the shuttle bus and got to the metro, recharged our tickets and jumped on the metro back to the airport. We arrived early at the airport so we took our time and went to Paradise Dynasty a Chinese dumpling restaurant yum!

Singapore airport is quite something to behold you could easily waste days there and not notice. We finished our meal and went through passport check to the main shopping area, after some browsing in the shops and a cheeky doughnut we suddenly noticed our plane was on final check-in call. Time had evaporated!!

This resulted in a giant sprint (sans luggage) through customs and just made the plane, last ones on, phew! Thankfully Singapore security are super efficient and helpful so we got on.

Week 2: Singapore to Auckland

The second flight was more pleasant than the last, it was less busy and quieter. Of course we literally got the only two people who decided to do an 8 hour video marathon in-front of us, so sleeping was hard again. But we all managed to get a reasonably better nights sleep than the first flight.

Eventually we touched down in Auckland, and after an hour of mucking around in the airport trying to work out where left luggage was. We finally grabbed the Skybus to our Air BNB in Auckland.

Week 2: Auckland

We had planned 2 days in Auckland, before flying to Wellington, and it was mid 20’s nice and warm for New Zealand’s autumn time. We took this time to lazily enjoy the incredible Gelato and Coffee and made the obligatory stop at Giapo. If you haven’t heard of Giapo it’s basically the best ice cream you will eat, presented in the most insane way. I’ve been twice now, and it’s always been amazing. We managed to fit in a visit to the fish market too, seafood super fresh, cheap and really tasty alongside craft ales. Double win and a great way to end the week before jumping on the plane to Wellington to start our new life.



Chris Burnell Chris Burnell

Really enjoyed reading this—looking forward to more!