Posts Tagged With: Tauranga

Please look after this bear.

If anyone knows of a good place for bodies, I’m looking to trade-up. My one’s broken.

From six weeks of influenza to excruciating back pain and all the meibomian cysts and nasty cramps in between, I’ve come to realise my body is probably trying to tell me something. I’m guessing it’s something along the lines of “I need more love. Please look after me.”

I signed up for the six week challenge at my gym. It starts today. My aim is to improve my flexibility and stamina. There are many other goals to work towards, but let’s keep things simple.

Now that the emotional pain of it is wearing off, I’m ready to announce to the world that I have withdrawn from my teaching course. I do intend to finish it one day, maybe even next year, but for now it’s just not what I’m meant to be doing. For now I need to look after me. Not finishing my course this year does not make me a failure. Acknowledging my need for help does not make me weak. I recently discovered Boggle the owl, who is a wonderful friend to have. You should check him out. In addition, I’ve decided I should perhaps get a luggage tag like Paddington’s made.

Please look after this bear. Thank you.

Guess What It Is?

Time for a new Guess What It Is? (see here for details)



Last Week’s Guess What It Is:

Cutie Cutie Baby Otter


Finally, in other news, Saturday was the UN Day of Peace (check out Peace One Day in my “I support” list to the right), and coming up on the 2nd of October is the International Day of Non-Violence (Gandhi’s birthday). If you happen to be in or near Hiroshima, japan, do go down to the Peace Memorial. I don’t know if they do it every year, but when I was there in 2008 there was a beautiful gathering of people celebrating with music and cake. Between these two dates, young leaders of GirlGuiding all over New Zealand are organising Take Back the Night marches, rallies and gatherings. The Bay of Plenty gathering is this Friday.


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Tauranga week 3 (or Never Flat With Ross J Riley)

Last Saturday the flatmate from the new house I’d met the week before, AF, arrived from his hometown of Waihi with his girlfriend, E. I was so glad to not be alone in the house anymore! One of the other rooms is spoken for, by returning flattie LZ, who should arrive in mid-Feb, and the other room – the one I looked at first and wasn’t impressed with – is still waiting for a tenant.

It was so nice to have someone to talk to, and although E warned me that AF has moved from his parents’ place to his brother’s place and so is effectively a first-time flatter, I have been relieved to realise that he has plenty of common sense, knows how to cook his own meals and clean up after himself, and is easy to talk to. We don’t have a great deal in common, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get on, and at least there are a few tv programmes we can agree on.

He’s been working during the days, and E left on Monday, so I’ve been alone again during the days, but that’s been okay, too. Since he spends most of his time at home in front of the tv though, I’ve picked up the habit, even when he’s not around, and have subsequently ended up watching a lot of rubbishy day-time reality shows. A lot. Of rubbish!

But I haven’t been a complete couch potato. I collected Clara from the bike shop, working like new, and have been for a few rides. I went to the third session of boot camp, but missed the fourth, because I was busy at the campus library trying to apply for more jobs. I joined the campus gym, which has a heated outdoor swimming pool, too. It’s lovely! I drove to Katikati and walked the Haiku Pathway. There was only one haiku that I really liked, but just the fact that it’s poetry in public makes me happy! I went to the cousins’ place for dinner again, shopped at SaveMart (yay, new vests!), and today I cycled around the Waikareao (“sparkling waters of the new day”) path – a 9km loop around estuarine wetland. At one point I saw a cheeky white face in the mangrove, then, as I cycled along the boardwalk, a dozen white-faced herons took off, flying gracefully over the low mangrove forest and taking my breath away.

And of course, the last instalment of the Maitland Street adventure: I went back on Friday to use the internet and collect the few bits and pieces I’d left there. As I drove in, I was pleased to see that Ross’ car wasn’t there. Again, a key had been left in the lock on the inside of the door, but a bit of a wiggle with my own key dislodged it and I was in. As I walked in, I was hit with a sinking feeling – what if he had locked my bedroom door? I no longer had a key and wouldn’t be able to get in. I approached the door and breathed a sigh of relief as it opened.

He’d been in there, even after I asked him not to. There was no sign of any of my things. Even the bed had been stripped. I felt a mix of panic and anger. I pulled open the closet and thank goodness my washing basket was in there with my pillow and the few other bits and pieces I’d left behind. But no sheets. And no blanket. My Brownie blanket was gone! I checked the washing machine, the linen cupboard, Ross’s room (as weird as that felt), the empty room that used to be Bruce’s. My sheets and blanket were gone! I admit I raged around the house for about 30 seconds looking for something to destroy. Then, outside, I found my sheets and blanket in a box. I can’t think of any reason for that. Ross is such a weirdo! I didn’t stick around, just gathered my things and left. So glad to be out of there! Goodbye Maitland Street. Word to the wise: if you’re ever looking for a place to live, and it turns out Ross J Riley lives there, run!

Week three in Tauranga over, and I definitely love it! Just the fact that I’m sitting outside at 8 in the evening, and the concrete steps are warm from the sun, and the air is warm, and the sun is glowing gold behind the trees across the road, and 5 year-old Kanye from next door is showing off his scooter skills, and he clearly hasn’t worn shoes in months, because the weather’s just so nice, makes me happy.


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Tauranga week 2

I had two weeks to find a new place to live. That was the deal: two weeks’ notice. I wished I’d only paid Ross the rent in advance, rather than the rent and utilities combined. I had an appointment to see a place on Saturday morning, but first I was off to meet a distant relative I’d never even heard of before.

I’d spoken to my dad on the phone, and worked out that my great grandmother and this relative’s grandmother had been sisters. I had no idea what that made us. I decided I would be calling her my cousin. Much easier. I met her at the farmer’s market, where she was selling organic bread for the business she and her partner started one or two years ago. The sun was shining, the market was busy, the bread was popular and I felt like I loved Tauranga, despite the weird guy I happened to have moved in with (he’s actually an Aucklander, so it’s not a Tauranga thing). My cousin was lovely. We chatted easily and she gave me a croissant to munch on as she sold loaves and buns and greeted regular and new customers alike. When I left to go and look at the flat I’d arranged to see, she gave me two loaves of sourdough to take with me. Turned out the flat was just around the corner from her place, so we arranged to meet again afterwards.

I drove to the flat and wasn’t really impressed from the outside. Or with the bedroom. But the living room, the kitchen and dining room, and the back garden were lovely. Nowhere near the tastefully appointed rooms at Ross’ place, but spacious and comfortable and light. Then the landlady showed me the other room. They prefer to have couples there, as it’s so big, but they rent it to one person at a reduced rate if necessary. I love it. We chatted, and she and her husband, a friendly couple from New Plymouth, were surprised to hear I’ve only been in Tauranga a week, yet already have a flat that I want to move out of. They asked and I answered honestly, explaining briefly why I wanted to leave Maitland St. They encouraged me to ‘pot’ the landlord, and I left, feeling disappointed because the rent is more than I really wanted to pay, and I’ll probably have to keep looking.

At my cousin’s place, I met the whanau and felt embarrassed when 3 month old baby Ida cried when I said hello. I got a text from the landlady. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I said yes, as long as I could meet a flatmate first. So I met AF, a 19 year old electrician’s apprentice, and my new flatmate. He’s refreshingly laid back. I moved in that very afternoon, leaving a note for Ross at Maitland St that I was going away with some friends for a week and I’d be back on Thursday or Friday (I had paid for utilities, after all, and knew I would want to use the phone and internet again).

It was a lonely, but lovely week. I set up my room (again). I went to dinner at my cousin’s place. I met a friend of a friend, another contact to have in Tauranga. I went to the library and applied for jobs. I met the neighbour kids, Harmony and Kanye (really, Kanye!). I sunbathed, I went to the beach, I explored the campus where I’ll be studying. I joined a boot camp exercise group and attended the first two sessions. The cousin lent me her bike, Clara (a sister for Lulu!) and I took it to the bike shop to be serviced. I baked and iced cookies in the shape of dinosaurs, but added too much baking powder and they tasted more like scones than biscuits. I weeded the strawberry patch, picked strawberries, made plum crumble and lemon sorbet.

I went back to Maitland Street. Ross had left the key in the lock on the inside of the door so I couldn’t use my own key to unlock it. So I climbed in the kitchen window, feeling angry, knowing he must have done that on purpose. My room was unlocked (I’d left it locked, although I’d taken everything out of it). He’d made the bed and moved things so it looked as though I’d never been there. The house was a mess.

I put on some washing, used the phone and internet, made myself some dinner. Ross came home and asked me what I was doing there.

I asked him if he’d gotten my note (apparently not, though I don’t know how he missed it), explained that I’d ‘been away’ and was still looking for a new place. He said “Oh.” While I was hanging my washing on the line, he went into my room, stripped the bed of its sheets and pillows and also switched off the modem in the kitchen, implying I shouldn’t be using the wi-fi.

I switched it straight back on again, not feeling the need to explain myself, as he hadn’t explained taking everything (including the duvet, which he’d been happy to let me use the previous week) off my bed.

I took the chance to download the latest episode of Glee, which I had missed while travelling, watched his DVDs (he’d offered the week before) and made a bunch of phone calls. None of this cost him anything, but he was clearly upset. In the morning, I told him I was going camping, would be back on Friday, and was moving out on Saturday. I left my bed made with my own sheets and pillow and blanket, a pair of pyjamas on the bed, some dirty washing in my washing basket, and left. He asked me for the key to the bedroom back. I gave it to him and asked him not to go in my room while I was gone unless it was an emergency.

I took everything else and left. Back at my new place, I felt lonely, but glad that I was nowhere near Ross, and that he had no idea where I was.

Week 2 in Tauranga was over.


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Tauranga week 1

I drove into Tauranga on the 29th of December with a hitchhiker in the passenger seat. We cruised along The Strand, which was packed with cars and people revelling in the stunning weather. After dropping off the hitchhiker at a backpackers in the centre of town, I drove to Maitland Street to see if I could spy my new home for the year.

I had sent a message and tried to call the guy who advertised it on TradeMe, but had had no reply, so I didn’t know which number it was. I drove down the quiet cul-de-sac street, trying to spy anything I recognised from the pictures on the flatmates wanted listing. I guessed it was number 12, with the wooden fence enclosing the front garden.

I waited and waited, but still no response from the owner/landlord/flatmate, so checked my map to find a camping ground. The only one I could find was packed full of teenagers steadily drinking. It was after 8pm, but felt much earlier because of the gorgeous summer weather, so driving away from there, I felt confident I’d find somewhere else. No such luck.

About 9.30, after driving around aimlessly and watching the fuel indicator on my car sinking lower and lower, I pulled into a Countdown carpark and tried to settle in for the evening. I’d been driving all day in the heat, and all I wanted was to take off my clothes and have a shower, but ever since Outward Bound, I’ve been sharply aware that discomfort is fleeting (as much as comfort is, though discomfort tends to be more rewarding). Sleeping in my car wouldn’t do me any harm. I wriggled my bra out from under my top so I could sleep more comfortably, wound my windows down, let back the driver’s seat, curled up and closed my eyes. I got about 50 minutes sleep, then after tossing and turning, decided to drive and see if I couldn’t find somewhere more comfortable.

It was a Saturday night, and town was full of drunken youths being intimidating. I tried to go into the backpackers, but even though there was a guy sitting at reception, he wouldn’t open the door for me, just sat there looking at me. I stopped a police officer, who was patrolling the streets, to ask if there were any other backpackers nearby. He sent me to the other side of town, but that one was locked up for the night, too. Fair enough: it was after midnight.

By 2am I was grumpy and decided I’d spend all my money on a motel or even a hotel if I could find one open, but all over town the “No Vacancy” signs were up. Eventually I drove back to Maitland Street to wait it out, reasoning that at least it would be quiet there. It was. So quiet I felt comfortable peeing on the side of the road (I’d tried all the public toilets I could find in town, but they were locked). As the sky started to lighten, I felt suddenly weird about camping out in my car on the street that was home to my future neighbours, so I drove around the corner and discovered a swimming pool and park within easy walking distance of my new home. This made me pretty happy, and I parked by the park, dozing and watching the neighbourhood cats stalking the morning birds as the sun came up.

I had received a text from the other flatmate the night before. The owner, Ross, had given him my number, as he was out of town (he tells me this late on Saturday night, after I had told him on Friday that I was driving up to arrive on Saturday afternoon). Bruce said I was free to go to the flat and have a look. He was at work, but his partner was there looking after his two girls, who were up visiting for Christmas and New Year. Ross hadn’t told me anything about this partner or the girls, so I was a little confused as to who I would actually be living with, but I called Kim, the partner, and she said to come on over. I gladly did.

The place was gorgeous. The room I was looking at was large and bright, with cheery yellow wallpaper. The front garden, enclosed, was lovely and peaceful, with hammocks, a nice deck and plenty of palms and broad leaved plants. The living areas were beautiful, the kitchen large and light. Kim said only good things about Ross and said I’d get on well with Bruce. Bruce’s girls, 8 and 9 years old, were incredibly well-behaved and cute to boot. I decided I wanted to live there, even though I hadn’t actually met Ross or Bruce, the two men in their 40s I’d actually be living with.

I called Ross and said “Yes.” He seemed pretty happy, and I went for a swim at the local pool so I could get a shower and brush my teeth and feel normal before going back to move in.

I was so happy those first few days.

I loved the house, I loved the weather, I loved Bruce’s girls and I really liked Bruce, except for one moment when he told me I was getting old and needed to start having kids now if I wanted to have kids at all. Whenever I asked him about Ross, he said nothing negative, just saying he liked to have things about the house a certain way. That didn’t sound too bad; it was his house after all.

On Wednesday Ross came home while Bruce was taking his girls back to their mother’s place in a different city a few hours away. I was sitting in the refreshingly cool living room, eating strawberries and yoghurt, enjoying the pleasant quiet.

“What the f#@% has he done to my lawns?” I hear from outside after a car pulls up. I figure this is Ross, as he makes his way around the property, obviously having keys to get in. There is plenty of swearing and exclamations of wonder. I figure he’ll come in and introduce himself to me when he’s calmed down. It takes him about half an hour, but he eventually comes inside, and I go to introduce myself. He apologises for being in a bad mood, welcomes me and takes me around the house explaining the way he likes everything done. I’m a little shocked when he swears in the kitchen, “Why the f#@% would he put that there? Put things back where you f#@%ing found them!” and he moved a bowl from one shelf to another. That’s a little over the top, I think. It’s just a bowl. But as we go around the house, and he talks and talks (he’s a talker, I already knew that from speaking to him on the phone), I think, “Ok, he likes things just so, and he gets angry when things aren’t done right, but he’s actually listed everything, there will be no surprises, I can live with his preferences. They’re not unreasonable.”

Ross goes back outside to inspect the ‘mess’ Bruce has made of the lawns (he thought he was helping out by mowing them. Turns out Ross is nuts about his lawns – he’s one of those people who waters his lawn before his plants, and the mower has to be on the right setting, so as not to ‘shave’ the grass). There is more swearing. I take myself off for a walk as all the swearing is making me uncomfortable. I figure he’ll calm down soon enough.

Two days go by and Ross is calmer, but still very critical of everything Bruce and all past flatmates have ever said or done. I see how some people couldn’t stand to live with the guy. I am probably the most tolerant and patient person I know, so I convince myself I’m not bothered. I also think Ross likes me and respects me because he says he’s impressed with my attitude to recycling and common sense. We seem to be getting along. I’ve finally settled into my new room. Everything is unpacked, I’ve bought some kitset shelving units and set them up, I’m thinking about how I’m going to spend my days. I can’t wait for Monday and businesses to start opening again so I can start my job hunt seriously.

Late on Friday afternoon, I go for a drive, deciding it’s time to explore the Mount, now that I know my way around my neighbourhood, Greerton, and the city of Tauranga. I’ve been out about 20 minutes when I get a text.

Hi Bruce and Emma. Guys I don’t do locked doors in my house. If you dont want people in your rooms thats your call, yet just say. If you want to lock your doors find some other place to live. It’s a bit strange for me, considering you hav my stuff in the room yet also a safety issue. Cheers. Ross. (all lack of apostrophes his errors)

I am upset that he has tried to go into my room while I’m out. I understand I’m using his furniture, but that’s normal when you rent a furnished flat. I text him saying I need to lock my door for my insurance (a white lie, as I hadn’t set myself up with insurance yet, but it would be true as soon as I got a policy).

No. Thats not happening. Sorry. You may hav to find somewhere else. Ross.

I say:

I’d like to talk about this face to face. I’ll be home in about half an hour.

I’m confused. Why would he want me out? I’m about the best flatmate he’s ever had, if his stories are anything to go by. I’m willing to live with his eccentricities. I don’t mind being careful about putting bowls back where I found them. I thought he liked me. This sounds like a lame excuse to get me to move out.

He’d been going on and on about how his house was a home for us all. How he doesn’t want someone who’s just after a ‘room’ but someone to have a drink or meal with in the evenings, someone who will look after his house with him. He admitted he was very house-proud, but said he was open if we wanted to make changes or add our own little touches. Every little touch I tried to add – hanging a mirror in my room, not having a phone or tv in my room, putting a peel-off decal on my door – he was suspicious of and seemed annoyed, though never actually said anything. I loved my room, I loved the house, I got on really well with Bruce. I was willing to accommodate his oddities.

I got home and he wasn’t there. I started looking on TradeMe for a new place, thinking I won’t really have to leave, he’ll see sense. Bruce called me and said Ross was at the pub and he’d be pissed when he got home. He offered me the couch at Kim’s place around the corner if I feel uncomfortable. I said no thanks, I wanted to stand my ground.

Ross wasn’t pissed when he gets home hours later. We had a brief discussion in the kitchen. By discussion, I mean, I asked him “So what’s the deal with no locked doors?” I was genuinely curious, not accusing him of being psycho. He shut me down. I told him I was moving out. He said okay.

I went to look at a few places that very evening. Nothing is nice. One place has a sign on the shower door saying “Please do not use soap in the shower, to avoid soap scum forming on the tiles.” I shook my head in bemusement.

My first week in Tauranga was over.


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