Sunday, May 29, 2005
Why are you here?
I am here so that my kids can enjoy growing up and I can enjoy watching them growing up. I grew up in the sunny climate of east Africa and remember vividly my school days of sport, holidays to the beach and Fanta. My wife grew up in Nelson and had a similar life but substitute Fanta for L&P, I guess.
When you compare the two, Africa has many animals and insects that would like to eat you, alive or dead. The most dangerous thing in Nelson is, I believe, a rather dodgy pub near The Warehouse. Bringing our kids up in Africa might stress me too much. " Where are the kids?" "They're in the garden." "Holy smoke, get them inside they could get eaten/bitten/shot/mauled/stung/poisoned/kidnapped/toasted/roasted..."
Bringing our kids up in the UK would be similar although I would be too busy working to ever see them. We're in New Zealand for the time that the Kiwi lifestyle gives back to us. The best place to make the most of that extra time is in Wellington as you can live within minutes of the city and yet so far away.
What do you like about the town?
I like the harbour and the water. I particularly like the view down from the hills where you can watch planes land, boats sail, yachts race, and the cars on the motorway. There is always something happening in Welly and if you blink, you might just miss it. But never fear, 'cause there is so much going on you just have to cross the road and join something else. The thing I love most though is that if you stand on any street corner for a few moments, you'll usually see someone you know and you can say "hi", have a great coffee in a cafe that will be near and take a little breather whilst you take it all in.
What don't you like about the town?
Man, everyone says the wind but I don't mind it. Haven't you ever wondered why the streets are so clean? It is a well hidden fact that the stadium is actually a giant dustbin and all of the rubbish ends up there; all the council have to do is clean the pitch every Friday night. Just check out the place after any match - about 6,000 white plastic bags can be seen flying around yet nobody arrived with any bags....now you know.
If it isn't the wind, what's my beef? It's gotta be the thin roads. These tiny little skinny roads to houses on the hills, with cars parked on both sides. If you meet an oncoming car, you have to reverse 600 metres through wiggley, windy, u-bend type corners to get back to where you started. I’m' all for living in the hills, but Lord, give us big fat roads with footpaths and lighting.
First time experience?
It was 1995 and lasted all of 3 hours. My memory is somewhat faded but I swear everything was closed. I landed. I came into town. I went up a hill. I left. The flight was magnificent and the view was breathtaking. "Closed or not, gimme some of that", is what I thought.
The best of times, the worst of times?
Finally settling into this house and being a real family with our own front door, garden and plants. Owning my own patch with lots of Pohutukawa trees feels just great.
The worst of times was getting to this stage with a nightmare of epic proportions, best forgotten now.
What does the city mean to you?
It is the place I choose to live and the place I choose to die. Scatter my ashes over the harbour for I am never leaving. I hope one day my children will travel the world and see great sights and magical wonders only to return to Wellington to stand in the hills and say "damn, what a view, it's good to be home."
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Until I do that, a couple of comments.
I spent yesterday in Auckland and whilst it is a pleasant enough place, particularly down by the water, it just doesn't do it for me. As I flew back in last night, the moon was very bright, the sky was clear and seeing Wellington harbour with the lights and the lunar reflection, was a great welcome home. I guess that sight is only surpassed by sitting by the beach in Oriental Parade looking back towards Te Papa, the city and the hills beyond (with a good coffee in hand).
The legendary Tana Umaga was in the seat across from me and I swear he whispered "those Lions, they gonna get eaten, man". I was going to debate the issue but, shit, he's big in the flesh and he's probably right.
Monday, May 23, 2005
She is honest and understands our concerns. She is also practical and knowledgeable and went into great detail about the issues.
As a result, we will be joining the queues to jab our kids. We are still worried - it seems you always are when you are parents (and I hear that never goes away) - but we cannot take the risk and we will always do what we can to protect our children (even if it means getting into print!).
If you have doubts, do what we did and go see your doctor. Don't just ignore the issue, the risks are too great.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
I checked my keyword analysis today (statcounter is so neat) and there are a lot of people looking up Paul Hewitt, David Monro, Lombard Finance and LJ Hooker. I guess they are after some background to help them make up their own minds on this story. I have an obligation to maintain the posts for as long as I can, subject to a court order or something! Mrs R and I talked about it and we are both prepared to stick up for our rights as individuals to shout out loud about fair play.
To those people that came and found some blank pages, my apologies.
My Archives are now back on-line.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Any similarities to real persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental and are in no way related to Paul Hewitt, David Monro, Lombard Finance or LJ Hooker, who are all honourable and honest and in no way bent, stupid, crooked or unethical. I made this one up in my head and if you think it is real and you want to sue me, you'd better see a doctor or other health professional first. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real events or occurrences is entirely unintentional and exists only in the mind of the reader.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess called Bumbag. She was indeed pretty and wise and had traveled far and wide in her quest for love. One fine day, in Tonies Land, she met an idiot savant called Pom, a sweet natured but rather idealistic fellow.
At first she wasn't interested and Pom was distraught, himself being smitten. In desperation, he sought the advice of Raj, the local wizard. Raj suggested a powerful love potion, one that was only prepared by the great magician at the Temple of Bengal. This magician used herbs and spices from far away lands and had trained with the powerful Brummy Lords of The North.
One cold winter night, Pom enticed the frosty Bumbag to the Temple of Bengal where he introduced her to the fine recipes of the magician and the erotic brew of the FisherKing. Before long the Princess was intoxicated with the fine cuisine and became quite a fan of the magician.
Before long, she fell in love with Pom and they wed in a fine ceremony in the Land of the Long White Cloud. They lived for many years in Tonies Land where Pom worked hard shovelling manure for the Yankie Barons and the Princess for the Germanic Overlords.
After some years they were blessed with a child, the adorable Pomwi. Tonies Land was no place for children and Pom swore to take Bumbag back to her native land.
When the arrived they needed dwellings and soon met the smelly serf, Jerome, who worked for Lord Jeremiah Hook. Smelly Jerome was a cunning fellow and gifted in the darks arts of double dealing and untruths. He promised Pom and Bumbag the castle of their dreams and introduced them to the flatulent town planner, Tall Brewitt.
Now Tall was well known to Lord Hook who had protected him from angry locals before in exchange for gold coins. Smelly Jerome neglected to inform the hapless Pom and suspicious Bumbag of this history and painted a picture of perfect happiness for them. Soon, the devious Tall had them under his spell and, due to their trusting and honest nature, believed Talls' stories of fine palaces and ivory towers. They dreamed wonderful dreams and parted company with a good deal of their hard earned Spondolics (the currency of Tonies Land) in exchange for a vision of spleandour to be constructed in the mighty suburb of Kandul, a place of great beauty.
to be continued....
Thursday, May 19, 2005
I hope you enjoyed the 46 minutes and 59 seconds you spent at Whispering Inferno today.
I hope my recollection of the disagreement we had is the same as yours.
Feel free to add your comments. I would be only to happy to change anything if you disagree with it. As I have said throughout this site there are always two sides. If you feel that I have misunderstood or misrepresented you, let me know.
Just so you don't get done over by your lawyers, they only spent 4 minutes and 51 seconds here (22.214.171.124 smtp.gibsonsheat.co.nz). Suggest you check their bill when it arrives......
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
They read our story this week and wanted to meet us.
They were a bit peeved to say the least. The view was that LJ Hooker should have offered to at least pay back the commission that they received in our sorry deal and that people like Mr Hewitt bring down the whole industry. We believe them. They were that genuine that they gave us a cheque to help us with our losses. They didn't have to do anything but did something so generous that we are still sitting here, late at night, wondering if it actually happened.
We actually feel guilty. We had a hellish 3 years where we argued, cried, and cursed our stupidity but we still have each other, two healthy girls and a house that we love. Others have lost far more and recovered far less. Mrs R didn't want the money and said so. The heros of this short tale wouldn't hear of it. So here we sit, glad that it is all over and hoping that we have done our part to protect others from making the same mistakes.
We asked Ms R what she would like to buy with the money and she simply wants to buy Lexi a present. Lexi is the little girl who headed up this years Child Cancer Foundation appeal and I am so proud that my little R can still think of others and want so much to make them happy. After what she has endured, I think we can buy two presents this time.
Our heros? Tommy Heptinstall and David Platt of Tommys Real Estate. I don't know about you but if I ever sell a house (and God knows we have no intention of ever moving again) I would gladly hand over the keys to them and trust in their judgment and integrity.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
It has been a day for strange phone calls for Mrs R.
First up was a fellow who got ripped off by Paul Hewitt 5 years ago here in Welly. That is a good two years before we met the delightful developer. What makes us angry is that this poor guy was one of the builders who never got paid on a previous job, which happens to be one of the houses that LJ Hookers showed to us to demonstrate what an excellent chap Hewitt was. It appears that those houses had their share of disasters and the problems were known to Hookers back then....
The second call was one of those odd affairs and it went something like this.
"Is that Mrs R from the newspaper story today?"
"My name is Tommy, and I'm calling from Tommys"...
Now, call me sharp, but when your name is the same as the company, you are usually at the top of the food chain. Mrs R was a bit cautious (as is her nature).
The call carried on:
"I am outraged by your story and want to restore your faith in honest business practice..." and so on.
The upshot is we are going to meet the Tommy tomorrow.
We are a bit amazed as our story has nothing at all to do with Tommys and it was a Tommys realtor who helped us buy the beautiful home where we are now so content - we already like them but whatever they do for us, it will be all the more great because they don't have to do anything......
Monday, May 16, 2005
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Is it safe?
What are the side effects?
What are the risks of not vaccinating?
Nonetheless, both Ms R and Little Ms R are covered for lots of nasties. Ms R, being born in the UK, is already vaccinated against Meningococcal C, the strain that was most prevalent over there, and there was a similar series of concerns over its safety. Little Ms R, being born in NZ, is not covered.
Now we find ourselves wondering about Meningococcal B, the strain that is apparently an "epidemic" in NZ. We spent several hours last night on Google reading up about the new vaccine MeNZB from Chiron and now we have serious concerns.
I was of the camp that we should vaccinate as the risks are too great and this is one mean little bacterium. Mrs R was nervous already, having heard some negative stuff.
Having trawled cyberspace, I am real worried. Now, I am not a big conspiracy theorist but this vaccine all seems a bit rushed and the positive stuff is all spookily the same, as if it was a big "cut and paste" from a Chiron PR brochure. The negative stuff contains so called "facts" that are at odds with the government "facts" and they are poles apart.
So, who do you believe?
What is clear is that this is a rush job and the words "experiment" appear a lot out there.
Who do you trust?
Having read the parliament transcript, it ain't Annette King as she doesn't seem to understand our concerns and appears to be reading straight from the "how to patronise parents and make them feel stupid" book.
We have to make a decision in the next three weeks and don't feel informed enough to go either way. We found this interesting update but, again, who do you trust?
Either way, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
Does anyone have any idea?
Has anyone already had the vaccine and were there any side effects?
Friday, May 13, 2005
My grinder is empty of Columbian Dark and I get to open the bag of Kenya Peaberry that I just bought. This is one of the best coffees in the world and is a fitting end to a real hard week. Having just watched the 'canes get beaten, I think I deserve a brew, even if it means I will be awake for the next 3 hours. The aroma reminds me of a time when I stood next to a coffee plantation near Kenya as a boy.....perhaps that is where my unhealthy obsession comes from. What's your excuse?
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I love my wife too. Regular visitors to this Blog will know that she is a cool person with a great chunk of common sense and the person that keeps me sane.
I also love Wellington. It has to be the greatest little city on the planet filled with neat people, great cafes and soooo much to do. Despite the hellish last 3 years since we got here, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Anyone who has read our terrible story and who is put off from living here, you have misunderstood. There is nowhere else I would rather live, and nowhere else I would want to bring up my kids.
Disasters are not the result of one-off events; they are simply a collection of unrelated little cock-ups that when taken in isolation are irrelevant. Whether it be a car accident or shutting a door on your foot, there are usually 3 or so factors that conspire to bring about the catastrophe, each one leading into the next. With us, it was being in a Real Estate Office at the wrong time, meeting two guys we wish we'd never met, and the rest, as they say, is history. We only lost money, and there is more to life than that. We still have a family and are more fortunate than others.
Wellington is a city mostly packed full of great people and I have been fortunate to bump into more good ones than bad ones. Honest. Some are just nice people and some have achieved incredible things. It never ceases to amaze me how such a small country produces such talent that competes with the world in so many ways (although the upcoming Lions Tour might challenge that a bit!).
Take, for example, the diminutive Melissa Moon. You often see her floating above the pavement as she flys along the waterfront or up some ridiculous hill about town. She is an amazing athlete and has achieved so much yet is so straightforward and content. Another is a guy called Duane Kale who is a normal bloke but an inspiration to so many. I doubt many of you will have heard of him but he has 6 Olympic medals from the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, four of them gold and he is about as matter-of-fact as you could imagine. I am in awe of such people that lead and inspire.
Ordinary people, extraordinary achievements.
Ordinary Wellingtonians, extraordinary Kiwis.
I am hopeful that my girls will one day look upon the view below and say, "Wow, what a city. I am proud to be a Kiwi and proud to be a Wellingtonian".
Meanwhile, I am content to be a new Kiwi and still grappling with my team selection for June. By the next World Cup, I will have made the transition I am sure. If not, there could be some serious trouble in this house and I am outnumbered 3 to 1; even the great Jonah would want to avoid that battle.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Everything on this Blog is true. Everything that happened is true. You couldn't make this stuff up. Nothing is defamatory as it all happened. Everything I have detailed is from the events as I saw them and from the information that I have.
As I have said a good few times now, nobody acted illegally in this tale (we don't think) but that only goes to show that the laws can't be right. All I am attempting to do with this Blog is protect others from making the same mistakes I made and to help them avoid the rogues in this business.
It doesn't feel right that anyone can buy a hammer and call themselves a developer, a car and you can be a realtor, and a big wad of cash, an angry lawyer, and no sense of fair play then you can be a finance company.....
In the words of Maximus, "At my signal, unleash hell".....
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
All the nice things and support that everyone has given Mrs R and I about our terrible start to life in this here fabulous piece of heaven stirred up some activity in us and shook us out of our depression. We kept writing and it felt good.
The best bit is this Blog might have actually achieved our goal of making other people aware of the dangers of property developers and the shakey position you are in when trusting others with your hard earned dosh.
We are on the edge of something wonderful - I don't want to tell you what it is yet should I burst the bubble but the Whispering Inferno might yet save a bigger audience from losing their shirts thanks to the help of a lovely lady who owns a pen and who isn't afraid to use it!
Buckle up, buttercup.....