It seems like yesterday that we left; yet it feels like we have been here forever.
It has been busy.
Started at Marina and Mike’s lovely cottage, where we spent the first three months navigating our way into the Mangawhai community.
Made our way to our 1920’s old leaky, spiderweb filled, drafty old villa with the beautiful view, where we spent nine months loving the view and hating the house at the same time. So many issues. Stove not working properly. More broken lamps than working ones. Broken heat pump in the middle of winter, a landlord that took about 6 weeks to get that fixed. Winter was nearly over by then. Broken water pump due to lack of maintenance by the landlord. Leak in the pipes from the water tank to the house, which costs us a full tank of water. Then the new water pump broke too, due to a filthy water filter that should have been replaced ages ago. Water getting contaminated and turning green. Bookcases that went moldy from standing at the outside walls. Broken washing machine. The list goes on. Not the healthiest place to live.
Then the landlord decided to increase the rent with $50 per week. And he turned a bit nasty on us. Time to move!
What a difference when we got the key to our new place in the Heads. The landlord (turns out we knew her already) shows up with a bottle of wine to welcome us into our new home! How sweet is that!
A modern house with windows that close properly! Windows so clean and big that Bart and Skyler have both managed to bump into them several times!
A house with a pool! A lot of work but so much fun for Skyler.
A house with a studio for me so big I get lost in there.
A house with a proper office for Bart.
From Mike and Marina's lovely cottage......
.... to the horrible house on the hill...
...to the village home with swimming pool!
And we are allowed to have pets again! So off we went to Julie’s Animal Rescue in Warkworth, were we found 3 legged Turbo. Turbo turned into Trigger for a few days before finally becoming Frankie. A very sweet and relaxed cat that we have embraced (or has he embraced us?). Then Skyler and Bart went back to get Lewis, a black and white kitten. They are getting along just fine and Skyler is carrying Lewis around like it is his baby.
New additions to the family!
So we are settled into our new temporary home and had a housewarming/Bart’s 50th/1 year Kiwi BBQ to celebrate with friends. This home feels like we are on a permanent vacation. More about houses later.
One year in New Zealand. Somehow with Facebook Holland just does not seem far away. You never have to wonder how X or Y is doing. Skyler can still see what his mates in Holland are up to and Skype every once in a while. Keeping in touch is so easy now. In our winter we see photos of summer scenes from friends and family in Europe, in our summer we see them skating and cuddling up to the fireplace. Everything is upside down. Christmas in the summer is something we might not ever get used to, but other than that we have no complaints!
The transition into Kiwi life has been really easy. The Mangawhai community is laid back, easy going and friendly. Meeting people is easy, we are fully involved in many activities. We are fortunate enough to have made some good friends already.
Bart is combining working-from-home with one or two visits to Auckland per week, leaving lots of time for golf, which now is extra convenient as we live across the street from the beautiful golf course and hhis golf buddy lives next door! Tennis, seasonal soccer and his involvement in the Save Te Arai committee complete his week. He turned 50 just last week and now is the proud owner of a six burner BBQ. He is now officially a Kiwi. Always in shorts and jandals.
Bart becoming a true Kiwi bloke
Skyler is getting to be more and more of an outdoor kid. (Have I mentioned that we have hardly watched TV for over a year now?)
He is in the pool almost daily. He is involved in surfing, and although standing up on the board is difficult and is not always on the cards, he is thoroughly enjoying being in the ocean and on the beach. He got an award for never giving up and always trying his best! And he will get there! He is also doing Kempo, by lack of Judo in the whole wide area. Having the Forest School within reach (well… one hour drive) one day a week is really exciting for him. After trying out athletics for a while he is now into playing golf with Bart. He is learning guitar and piano, keeping busy!
He is very excited about school and did not really want to have a summer break at all! He started at his new school and is loving it. He found Tomarata School (150 kids) too small and wanted to make more friends. Mangawhai Beach School(450 kids) is a bigger school with more opportunities for him, in different areas, so we supported his decision and enrolled him in MBS. Never afraid of a challenge! So off to the new school he goes, in uniform. He does not mind having to wear the uniform. School bus stops in front of our house with the friendly driver Neville. After a few weeks we can say that his teacher seems to be awesome so far (we have high hopes about her too, she is very much “on the ball” with him) and Skyler loves her. He is settling in well. Kids seem to be friendly and helpful so far. He is very proud to be in the senior syndicate and feels like he has to show more responsibility and be more independent, which is a good thing!
Skyler is always his happy and cheerful self and feels very much at home here. Always in shorts and jandals like a proper Kiwi. Of course he has his little issues but overall he is doing very well.
Mangawhai Beach School student
I myself have been exhibiting and selling work in the local gallery! I have had a couple of exhibition possibilities which were good. I have discovered eco printing and am trying to specialize in it, alongside with bookmaking, printmaking, fibre arts, mixed media and hopefully incorporating photography at some point.
Once a week I go to Warkworth to my book art “grannies”. After my initial wondering of "what did I get myself into now?" I have become very fond of all of them and feel very much at home in the group. I have also become part of the printmaking group and the mixed media. I am keeping busy and am learning a lot exploring art in different forms.
Setting up my exhibition
Eco printed silk scarf
Scarves as a wallhanging at the exhibition
I threw myself into Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi and tennis, which proved to be way too challenging for my health all at once, with everything else going on in the first year. Especially the Tai Chi was too challenging and not relaxing as I thought it would be and I am still looking for the perfect yoga for my body. I switched to a natural medication for my Hashimoto’s and that has gone very well. Still finetuning and trying to find a way to loose some pounds as I have gained too much (without over eating, it is all part of the Hashimoto thing). That is quite frustrating. But I will get there.
We will hopefully be building our house soon. Our plans are in council for approval as we speak and if all goes well the building will start as soon as approval is in and be finished within 16 weeks of that. Give or take a month, or two, or three, depending on the weather and the efficiency of the building company, which so far has left a lot to be desired.
We are very much looking forward to living there. When we go up there to check it is always so nice and quiet, with only the birds that make noise. The view out to the Estuary and ocean is great (can’t quite capture it in pictures). Can’t wait to start our own veggie garden and orchard and make the place our home.
Once the house is finished we will have a self-contained sleep out for friends and family to come and stay in, so start booking your tickets now! (Not all at once though please!)
Skyler "in" his future bedroom!
Hi, Bart, Chris & Skyler here. We moved from the Netherlands to New Zealand recently to live a more relaxed life.