Category Archives: Letters home

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 3

3 July 1999

Dear Genevieve

We got all enthusiastic and raced off to London on Saturday. Bad move. Talk about expensive. I’ll tell you what, I won’t do it again before I’m working and earning pounds.

But anyway, we went to Madame Tusauds. There’s a 50min queue. Yes, it’s about 150m long. Once you get in, the whole set is in three sections – modern (with the royal wedding, lots of prime ministers and movie starsand that sort of thing) The idea is that you pose with these statues and get your picture taken – photography is allowed – so it looks like you’ve met the real person. The statues are very lifelike. Then there’s the Chamber of Horrors with vistas of the French Revolution and the guillotine chopping people up, as well as medieval torture chambers and Newgate Prison.

I’ll tell you what – if you ever wanted to see man’s inhumanity to man, esp in the name of religion, you won’t be able to go past this. Why treat people like that? Why not just kill them, if you have to, but they went to so much trouble to torture them! Why bother? Then there’s London Story where you jump into replica of a London Taxi and get raced through little scenarios of the history of London in about 10 minutes. The time taken is about two and a half hours. We arrived at 11:00 and, after queuing for nearly an hour, left at about 2:30pm. With very sore feet.

Hey, you see the damnedest things in the most peculiar places. I found some Jane Austin writing paper there. I’m sending it to you. It is absolutely beautiful. You’ll be very reluctant actually to write on it. Mum found you two neat little tops. When summer arrives, you’ll be THE cool one.

After this we caught the underground and went to Westminster Bridge. Elaine had her photo taken on Westminster bridge because her mum says one of her ancestors commissioned its building. She doesn’t know which one – ancestor, I mean. The whole day’s train fare from St Albans to London return and anywhere around the underground is 8 pounds each and it goes until the last train leaves at about 1:00am. From Westminster Bridge we took a City Sightseeing boat cruise.

It can’t be much of a city because the boat only went from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge – about 3 miles! You see what City Cruises means now? Yeah, The City. Not London city, which one would think at first. Well, the trip cost 4.50 pounds each and then, when we got to Tower bridge, the crew passed around the Captain’s Hat so we could pay for the commentary! The crew did the commentary because the owners didn’t want to make the fares more expensive by hiring a professional guide. Yeah, right.

We took the return trip, which of course was nearly double the single trip, and they passed the Captain’s Hat around again when they got back to Westminster Bridge. Needless to say, we didn’t put money in either way. We thought the trip would go a lot further and hoped to see the millennium dome and a few other interesting sights. Most of London’s most interesting sights are hidden from the river behind ghastly modern glass structures you can see any day in Auckland and even in Hamilton. You wouldn’t want to pay to see those.

We took the underground back to Leicester Square, had a nice but cheap meal upstairs in a pub where we saw the day’s cricket test highlights on channel 4 (the Kiwis lost) then we had a wander around Leister Square itself. There was an Australian singer and a Gypsy band we listened to for a while each, then had an ice cream in the Sanyo centre, took a quick trip through Planet Hollywood, where Mum bought a T-shirt and went back via underground and train to St Albans. £100. Please. No more trips to London until I’m earning. There’s lots of other things to do, like Whipsnade Zoo, Woburn Abbey and even lots of the free local attractions and sights before we have to bust a gut going sightseeing in London again.

That reminds me – I’m off to London on Tuesday afternoon. One of the IT agencies (ITA) contacted me and has asked me to sit a test in London at 2:00pm on Tuesday. I said yes, of course, because if I do well at it then that will be a qualification all by itself. They are only offering a permanent position, but we’ll see how much they are willing to pay before I say definitely that I won’t take the job.. I suppose how much I’m paid may depend on this test. Wish me luck.

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 23

23 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

Mum will reply to this tomorrow but at the moment …

1. Don’t confuse Mum’s 90 quid a day with real money, because it’s not. It’s no different from $90 per day, and that’s a fair bit less than you’re earning. It’s only $3 to the pound when it’s sent to NZ. In England, because of the high cost of everything 1 pound is about or even less than $1 in NZ.

2. Try NOT to drive into things, Dear …. It’s cheaper that way.

3. Parkinson’s Law: “Expenditure rises to exceed income.”

4. We’re going to LB on Friday to see the bank and then Thelma.

5. Jenny Pugh rang tonight and we’re off to see her on Saturday in Luton. She doesn’t sound all that well, either. Her voice is really very shakey. It will be nice to see her because she is such a lovely lady.

6. I’m still running – about 30-40 min 3 to 4 times a week. Since I did 6 miles / 10km on last Sunday, I’m not going to do 4 runs this week, just the three. This morning I thought my legs were going to fall off, they were so tired after about 20 min, but don’t worry, I still did 40 min – about 5 miles – and I’m not injured, because I’m not going very fast, yet.

7. Another 11 job apps tonight. Makes more than 60 all told. I’ve got a list of 46 names from 45 agencies I’ve applied to. SOMETHING is going to fall over and give me a job – just you wait!!!

Lots of Love

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 24

24 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

There’s 100 pounds per WEEK for car hire, then there’s tax to come out, then it’s 80 pounds, anyway – they only paid the 90 pounds once because of Mum having to hire the car especially for them for that one day.

Then there’s 60 pounds per month for med insurance – and it won’t cover existing conditions, which are the only reasons Mum goes to the doctor …

And we’re not paying rent, yet, which will be between 350 and 700 pounds per month for some cheap flat somewhere.

But, yes, teaching certainly is the best paid job around. And from Select, that’s only 10 pounds per hour, don’t forget. It seems more of the others pay around 100 pounds per day. We have found out the schools are paying around 120 pounds per day. Don’t worry, we are talking to other agencies.
As Steve says, “All agents are LIARS.” Specially GM’d, you know, for the task – born to it. Bred for it.

I was not up late – it was about 11:30pm when I fired off the last note to you. I am not getting tired or sick – that’ll come in winter, you know, just as you have it. I am very fit and very healthy. Mum’s got lots of coughing, but there’s plenty of rubbish in the air to cause that.

I have remembered where the Waicomp CaskLink (my accounting program) files are; they are on the hard drive I carefully sent wrapped up in one of the Red Boxes. It’s here, but I need to put it into a PC and copy the files onto one of these Zip 100 disks. Maybe John might help me when we go to LB tomorrow. All I need is a spare PC for a few hours.

I sent off another 10 or 11 job apps last night, so I’ll follow them up today and see if I can rustle up a job.

I’ve sent 32 job apps since the weekend! More than 60, all told, and today is only thu morning. I’ve just had a ring from Elaine Harding who is going to put me forward for a job in Frimley – near Farnborough. I sent that job app out last night. Come on, someone ……….

Be cool

Lots of love

Dad

PS I’ve applied for a job with the All Blacks because I can do 3km in under 15 min. I’ve applied for Jonah’s job, because he can’t and because the money’s all right.

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 25

25 June 1999

Steve

Yeah, it’s a bit of a worry, all right.

I have over 60 job apps out now and have about 6 “firm” promises that at least they’ve sent off my CV. I am ringing them – the ones I’m hoping for most, but about 7 or eight of them per day – every second day. I hope the shear pressure of numbers will cause the wall to fall and a couple of interviews will come my way.

I know I haven’t been here very long and none of these people have had a chance to get to know me, but, a job would be nice …..

Today was the end of week 3 and the beginning of week 4.

Worry, worry.

Ewart

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 29

29 June 1999 (to Dave Hearn, Te Kuiti)

Dave

It’s wet – if you’re trying to watch Wimbledon, you’ll see how wet. Temperatures are mild, though. I have applied for more than 60 jobs and 8 are still in the system. Plenty of hope. Elaine has had lots of teaching, so she’s keeping us going in the meantime. There’s no suggestion she’ll keep teaching for very long after I get a job.

The roads – and the traffic – are diabolical. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, the roads are crowded. It’s like driving in rushour Auckland traffic all day; and no matter where you are, or what you are trying to do, there’s always a car right up your exhaust pipe. We went to Goffs Oak to take Elaine to the school this morning, for instance, about 20 min from here, and between 8:00 when we went up the road and 9:00 when I tried to come down it, there was a 2-mile long (20 min in the queue) traffic jam.

The roads are too small and they allow cars to park on both sides of the road, so that parts of it are one-car only. There’s also only one road out of this town, and that road has two roundabouts, a set of lights and a stop sign at the top. The town has about 2000 population and they all work in London. Incredible. The roading system here is almost at a standstill. Trouble is, there’s only a very poor public transport system that no-one wants to use because it’s slow, expensive and cumbersome. And when there is rain, you get hell of a wet using it.

Otherwise, it’s beautiful here. Absolutely gorgeous little villages and towns; richly textured landscapes and large fields of commercial crops like wheat, oats, barley and brilliant yellow swathes of oilseed rape. Everywhere there are huge trees, the landscape is glorious with them. The fields are all ringed with trees and the roadsides, both in the country and in the cities are heavily lined with these massive oaks, sycamores and walnuts. Takes your breath away. England is far more wooded than NZ. There’re way more trees.

I’m glad to see your email is working. Nice to hear from you.


Ewart

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, June 30

30 June 1999

Dad

Did you hear that the Welsh beat the South Africans in the Rugby for the first time ever. I assume that since you haven’t mentioned it that you haven’t but I would have thought that it would have made the BBC news at least!! Still – I suppose there are other world events going on and rugby isn’t everything over there like it is here. Ian Jones is off to play for Gloucester after the World Cup. Was announced on the news last night as a prominent item. Funny the perspective NZers have on news – still I guess the ABs are our Spice Girls!!

Genevieve


Come back Graham Henry, all is forgiven!

The Welsh victory wasn’t exactly scintillating, but it did have more tries than the Springbox, so it was well deserved. After the very poor run of results, caused by their very poor playing, it’s good to see the Welsh coming back. It’s also good to see a fine NZ coach working his magic. It also shows just how important good coaching is.

The All Blacks beat a very poor French side soething like 54-7, but then the French were beaten by the Tongans, too. And the Aus beat England. Didn’t see any of the matches locally. Sky has them all locked up.. Good news, though, rugby is not renewing its Sky contract. All the GB teams – I guess except the French – will be shown on BBC. Now that’s cool, except that it’s two years away.

Just a note; as soon as you let politics enter sport, your team starts losing. There’s only one way to run a sport and that’s on results. Look at the Windies. Killed by politics. Look at the Welsh – once GH got the politics out of the sport, they start winning. You don’t need a huge population base to select your team from, and you don’t need brilliant individuals, tho you do need very good ones. You need results-focussed people from the very top all the way down.

Our news is full of Manchester United pulling out of the FA cup so they can play in a World Clubs Cup (as apposed to nations.) It’s in Brazil thisyear and if Man U don’t go, it’s likely that England won’t get World Cup 2006. Fifa is behind the Clubs Cup and if Man U don’t go, Verda Bremen will, and they are next most likely to get the World Cup after England.
Anyway, the FA Cup is worth a few bob to Man U, but the World Club Cup will be worth millions. That’ll make the stockholders happy. It’s just that the locals will miss out on their team playing in front of them. Who cares? It isn’t the locals who pay Man U’s wages! It’s a funny old world, all right.

Hey! Thinking of sport. I’ve been running miles because you can’t run km’s here. The car only records miles. So I’ve measured a 4ml run. It’s round the block, so I go uphill all the way out and downhill all the way back. Going uphill slows down the total trip in comparison to the whole trip being on flat ground, because you use more energy going uphill than you make up then you come downhill. Anyway, at the moment it’s 4 miles and on Monday I ran it in 31:27. Today it was 30:22. I checked my maths and that’s 6km in 28:28, so I looked up my diary, and my previous best 6km was 27:24. So I’m improving since arriving here, but still a bit to go. My aim is the whole 4ml in 28 minutes; that’s 7 min per mile. It sounds slow, doesn’t it, but it’s 4 min 23 sec per km, for 6.4km, half of it a very bitter uphill drag.

I’ve just had a look at that target and it’s pretty well on the limit, all right. It would mean I’d have to do 4:23 km’s which means a 3km time of 13:08 ….. ooh (twice).

I told one of my agency people who rang me just as I got in – that I’d just been for a 4ml run, not what the time was – and she said, “It’s time you got a job.” Well, I’ve got eleven agencies I ring every morning, something’s got to give. Please let it be soon.

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 1

1 July 1999

Greetings from the UK.

All is well and Ewart and I are happy in this English summer. It is hot and everything around here is really pretty.

We have been asked whether we get news about NZ on TV and in the papers here. No, one would think NZ didn’t exist at all. The only news we are getting from home is what we are receiving from friends and family and of course the world cup cricket games. When our sports teams aren’t over here NZ doesn’t exist at all for the English. They do like NZ lamb and anchor butter though, and of course the zesprey is available in all the local markets, along with Cox Orange apples grown in NZ.

All NZ produce over here is a lot smaller than we are used to getting back home. Apparently the English are used to only eating small portions for things like fruit. None of the really nice crisp apple varieties grown at home such as Pacific Rose are available here. At present we are eating rock melons, bananas, cherries (yummy, large & very cheap), strawberries, nectarines & raspberries (grown here on site). It is fun going to the markets on Saturday mornings to buy our supplies.

I am being kept pretty busy teaching now. I start at a new school on Monday (tomorrow). It is Goff’s Oak JMI School. I will have 8 & 9 year olds. Their teacher fell off a desk when putting up displays. A little boy moved a chair thinking he was helping her, unfortunately it was just as she went to stand on the chair so she fell breaking ribs and rupturing a lung. She got out of hospital on Friday but the word is that she is still far from well. I will be teaching her class until the end of term (28 July I think).

On Friday morning I drove up there to look at the school taking Ewart with me. We had a hang of a job finding it, found ourselves in Potter’ s Bar three times!!! Of course we weren’t meant to go to that town at all!! When we finally found the village we found that we had been very close early on in the trip. We have now written down the name of the road so I should be Ok on Monday. I’ll leave early in the morning just in case. The school is at Goff’s Oak which is just beyond Hatfield about 20 mins from St Albans, when you go the right way that is. It took us an hour the way we went!!!

We spent a lovely morning there meeting the staff and students and had our first taste of school dinners when they gave us lunch. A two course lunch costs 1.25 pounds per day. (sorry, can’t use a pounds sign, this software doesn’t have the symbols font installed). I also got to spend time with the current South African supply teacher. He goes off touring in Scotland with his wife for the next two weeks before returning to South Africa after having been here for six months.

After lunch, being my first day off for a few days, Ewart and I travelled up to Leighton Buzzard for the afternoon. We visited the bank, Sheila and George and spent a couple of hours with Thelma at Wing. We also spent a couple of hours with John Wallace (the chap in on the screen saver on our home computer). It was a hot sunny day and everyone was pleased to see us. The countryside is really beautiful through Bedfordshire and we enjoy travelling through it although it plays havoc with my asthma at this time of year, lots of fields in full pollen at the moment. The rape fields are bright yellow and stand out vividly for miles.

We haven’t seen any movies over here yet. Adult tickets cost 10 pounds ($30 NZ) so we watch movies on TV. Prices will seem very expensive to us until we start earning AND spending British pounds.

I have decided to ask the supply company I work for to send me to primary school  assignments only at least until the end of term. Although a lot of the college kids are really nice and none swear at you, they are REALLY noisy and only stop for teachers who shout at them. I thought it was just my differences to start with but then I started to watch the English women teachers with their classes. They all shout for attention!! B——r that!. By lunchtime you have hardly any voice left, apart from the fact you get sick of the sound of your own voice!! I had some lovely classes but the noisy ones drive me nuts. I’m also getting rather sick of being asked if I am Australian every lesson and hearing the song “Skippy the Bush Kangaroo” when I come into a room. At least when we lost the cricket to Pakistan they wanted to talk about cricket. I can live with that. England lost worse than we did.

I don’t regret having tried it though because I have met some really nice kids and it has been interesting getting to view England through their eyes.

Yesterday Ewart & I drove up to Luton to visit Jennie Pugh and her sister in law Elsie. We travelled in the little red Ford Fiesta I have hired to get to work. It is lovely to drive. Ewart’s cousin Dennis Tearle designed the suspension system. We found out when we travelled in it up to Bedford to see him! Small world!

Jennie is 83 and very active, still does her own gardens, lawns etc and is a beautiful little lady. She was really excited about our visit and rang to tell us this morning. We spent until 4.15pm talking family and history. Her home is filled with beautiful family historical artefacts. She likes talking to us about them because she knows we have a genuine interest. We then took Elsie into town to go to the chemist then headed on to Wing where we had dinner with Thelma and her mother Millicent. Once again we had a lovely time talking family history. Ewart then comes home and writes it up onto the computer so we will have record when we get home.

Thelma is the president of the Wing Historical Society (among other things) and in a place with such deep history gets to learn marvellous stories to tell us. Recently she has been fighting with others to retain the old Wing school which had been built for the village by the Rothschilds – really beautiful stone building. Many of the Tearle family went to this school and they fought ard to keep it. But, the council sold it to a property developer who has pulled it down to build houses.

As is usual around here, by law the site then has to be checked by archaelogists before buidling can commence. Sixty graves were found. On further excavation one grave was found to contain an Anglo Saxon coin dating back to 937. This brought in the BBC who interviewed Thelma and others in the village this week. The BBC are now paying to have DNA testing done on some of the bodies in the graves and also test some of the locals to see how long some of the present families have been in the area. Don’t we miss exciting things living in a country with such a short history.

The countryside, including here in town, is lovely. There are lots and lots of beautiful big trees. They are valued here and once they reach a certain height become protected even if they are on private property. This week has been sunny and really hot. Not at all what we expected. Much hotter than our last visit. Today it is grey and drizzling but still quite warm. The coolness brought by the rain is very welcome. Everyone’s gardens are beginning to fill with flowers and most people go off to the garden centres at weekends to fill in any gaps in the garden that appear now that flowering has begun. On talking with the staff at schools I find that most people change almost all the plants in their gardens every year. Sounds an expensive exercise. No wonder many of the English tend to have quite small back gardens compared with ours.

We rang Joalene and Deirdre Mark and Neil (ex Otorohanga) this morning but they weren’t home. We suspect they may have gone to France for the weekend. Thousands of people have gone over this weekend to get cheap duty free goods. The govt has cancelled duty free shopping with the continent, effective on Monday. I think they must have seen Ewart and I coming! We have let a message on their phone with the hope of going down to see them in Neasdon sometime in the next few days. I will write to Jimmy and Dos again once we have seen them. It will be new territory for us to travel in and will take us very close to Central London.

Ewart has applied for over 60 jobs now and is waiting to hear back. We have at least six which we know are definitely live. Like some parts of NZ employment decision making processes are very slow here. He is applying for jobs every day and regularly ringing the agencies so they keep him at the top of the list. He is being very good about it.

Well, love to you all. It’s time for me to go to prepare some school work for the little darlings tomorrow. Hope you are all having a happy and successful year. We look forward to getting some email from you.

Love Elaine

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 01

01 July 1999

Dad

Looks like I might be going down to Hamilton this weekend so it will be good to catch up with Grandma and Grandad Pond. Also looks like I will be going to Hahei with Angela at the end of the month so will definitely drop in on the Tearle Grandparents and let you know how they are all keeping. Taking this keeping in touch of the family thing on your behalf as well as mine seriously. Don’t want contact to be lost just because you guys aren’t here to keep it going.

Genevieve


I am impressed.

Firstly by your visiting both grandparents. That’s a lovely thing to do. I’m very pleased you’re taking this seriously. Mum will talk cricket and rugby and love you for it. Talk to Dad about his letters to and from England. Thelma and Clarice love his letters. There may be others.

Not a good idea to do exercise outside in freezeng conditions. You get very cold air down inside hot lungs. I’m not sure what I’m going to do once winter arrives here. They eat a lot of fatty stuff here, so that makes it hard to keep one’s weight down without lots of exercise. I was a growing boy there until I got back on the road again! The waistline is only now down to a reasonable size, although I’ve no idea how much I weigh. The belt tells the story. Now, tho, lots of muscles are beginning to show and there’s a good amount of hardness in my arms and, of course, my legs. It just feels better.

I’m going up to 6 miles. That’s nearly 10km . Wish me luck. Wish I could find a race or two; it would give all this exercise a bit an edge.

PS: Lunchtime score

Edgebaston Test
NZ 19 for 2

Ye Gods! Please don’t make it worse.

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 4

4 July 1999

Genevieve

Still haven’t got a job – this is driving me NUTS. My reserves are under pressure, but I’m still expected to front up. I’ve got about 8 CVs being evaluated, and 3 are quite hot, but none of them is a job, you know, with real cash. It is very frustrating and I feel under such pressure.

Never mind, today I ran 6 miles. That’s 10km. My book (Bruce Tulloch, a aery good English middle distance racer from my high school days) says that training at 8min per mile is about right, so my 6 miles at 47:06 is fine – I don’t want to be going any faster. I realised this morning that 8min/ml is about 5min/km, which is the time I’ve always used as a benchmark. What Bruce says, tho, is not to go much faster than this in training.

Ok. What counts is total miles in a week, and the length of the longest run. So I shall do 6ml one day, 10ml another and 4ml another. That’s a total of 20 miles. It’s not really long enough. It should be 30ml. Well, not yet. I’ll have to do a couple of weeks at 6/6/4 before I go to 6/8/4 and then a couple of weeks at that before 6/10/4. I’m loath to do 4 days of running, but I’ll put in an extra day if I feel good – you know, no muscles under pressure or any pains.

Now, he’s also got a thing I haven’t heard of called fartleck. Awful name. It refers to running 50m more or less at a sprint, followed by a 150m trot. Then you do the 50m again and the trot. 4-5 times in the length of one of the training runs. I’m going to do it on my 4ml night. I’ve done one turn so far, and it leaves you a bit the worse for wear, but not injured. That’s why I’ve left a 4ml night in the training sched.

So that’s how it stands at present. Pretty boring, eh? As Caroline said, “You should get a job.”

Puleese

Dad

17Mar/15

Letters home, 1999, July 5

5 July 1999

Dear Joni

I have an interview with a Kevin Fordhan at Tech-Aid, 11am on Wed 14 July. His company is Tech-Aid and they recruit fro only the top 500 companies worldwide. His address is 14-16 Lower Regent St, London City. Yeah, in the City.

I go to Picadilly Station and walk 200m from there.

You got goosebumps yet?

The company he’s recruiting for is Compaq.

You got goosebumps now?

The job will be based in Reading and pays about 32k pounds, plus benefits etc. I don’t know what the bens and etc are, but I’ll let you know.

The company I went to see yesterday said I should be applying for IT Managers jobs. This will get me in the door of one of the biggest players in the world, and an IT Manager’s job shouldn’t be too far away. Go directly to 50k, pick up your bonus on the way.

Now ….. don’t get too excited, I’m certainly not …. but it’s so nice to see something happening at last.

And don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it after the interview.

Dad