Thursday, 29 September 2011

Old timer experience

Finding a second hand car for not too much money turns into quite an experience. Yesterday was spent on testing the quality of a 2001 South Australian Holden and a 2003 Peugeot 206, today it was all about the BMWs.
What's interesting about mentioning BMW is the amount of responses with well meant advise we got! But stubborn as we are, we always have to try it out for ourselves...

Early afternoon we drove a 1994 BMW 3-series. Yes, quite a bit older than the Holden and Peugeot, but only slightly cheaper.
While Evelyn always promptly hands in her driver's license as security for the owner, I take the steering wheel. Evelyn then has the additional task of finding a test route on the iPhone with GPS. Since this dealer was situated next to the motorway, we thought we should make use of that and include it in our test (we're getting the hang of it - could almost join the Top Gear crew).
So, we take off and I notice my window is fully opened so I start pressing all buttons but none works. Turns out that there is no button for raising the window: you just have to turn the handle... Luckily Evelyn points it all out, and starts navigating us through our test round.
I have to say, never driven a car before that's so direct in it's steering. Great experience till Evelyn realizes that the route we've taken doesn't actually enter the motorway but goes underneath it... At the same time the fuel indicator starts lighting up, so turning back seems the best option. (In a previous episode we stranded on the motorway near Wellington whilst testing a VW Golf without any petrol).
So, whilst initiating the three point turn we both realize that before we started our test ride we were unable to determine how one actually puts the gearbox into reverse. Oh oh...! And so we end up parked at a 30 degree angle against the curb. And no way to get that gear box into reverse! We both know how to do it in a VW: you press it down before putting in reverse. We've also had a car with an O-ring that you had to lift. But how is it done in a BMW? There's no O-ring, so perhaps you have to lift it by the knob? So I lift the gear handle by its knob but the next second I'm left with the knob in my hand separated from its gearbox... I've just put it back on; as you do.
And what do you do if you're basically blocking the road and can't reverse? You just drive straight ahead: so up the curb across the grass and... accelerate!
Once back at the dealer we thought we should ask how to put it in reverse. Turns out it's done just like a VW; but this one needs a bit of 'wiggling'. Doesn't sound good, does it?

Tonight the BMW experience got even better. A 7-series for sale in 'excellent condition'. All Internet sites will tell you that these cars are hard to fail: they keep going and that's exactly what the owner tells us as well. So we make our way to an address in North Adelaide and find ourselves looking at a... tank. Big and heavy, and that's what it feels like. I don't know what happened to the power steering, but taking a roundabout was like a workout in the gym. And that wasn't the only thing not working. Because it's a European car I keep hitting the screen wipers rather than the indicator and that told us immediately that the engine driving the wipers was still functioning, but the wipers clearly weren't attached.
Being quite an exclusive model, the dashboard was full of indicator lights but also warning lights, and messages: 'coolant low', 'check owner's manual', and many more interesting literature. Because of the handling difficulties I described before, and all the worrying noises the car makes, I probably missed a number of other alarming messages.
We both soon agreed that this wasn't going to be our bargain of the night.

Nevertheless, we've had the experience of a life time - all in one day.
The search continues.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Aaarghh, cars are difficult!

Finding a car is really hard! There are soooo many and it's soooo easy to keep looking for more features, bells and whistles.

My idea was to buy a crappy car for under $5000. That's not easy as there is a lot of very boring crap. And we don't want boring. So suddenly we found ourselves looking and test-driving $7500-$9000 cars.

We drove a VW Golf cabrio: nice, but not handy. And actually quite hot when you're waiting for a red light in 30 degrees.

We drove a VW Golf from the same age as the one above, to compare driving characteristics. After meeting the dealer and driving the car we both felt the huge urgency to sanitise our hands and take a shower.

Then the third car: a Holden Commodore. Boring!!! But value for money and made in Oz.

Tomorrow we're going to try a Peugeot.

My eyes are constantly drawn to old Beetles, in those sunny bright colours! So nice! There are a lot of oldtimers around, I guess Adelaide probably has the right climate to conserve cars.

We just saw a BMW 5-something for under $2000. Sounds interesting too. To be continued...

- Evelyn

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

We found a little house for the next 8 months

We have been rather productive today and yesterday. We applied for a unit in Norwood (which is very close to the CBD), but didn't get it, because we didn't want to sign up for a lease of 12 months. And that's not what the owner had in mind.

Any spare minute we have is spent browsing the internet, looking for furnished accommodation, also unfurnished because there is so little available for a reasonable price, for cars, and other information. We had one other property on our sleeve that we liked, a bit further from town, in Coromandel Valley. It had an open inspection on Wednesday, but we didn't want to wait that long and managed to arrange an appointment today through the real estate agent. Good for us the owner was at the house and she liked us :-)

It was a very nice and suitable place for us, furnished too, and well priced. We closed the deal more or less on the spot there and then and after the agent checked us out with our references we got it! Good news, and one major thing that we can remove from our list.

The next days we'll be busy with:
  1. Finding a car. That's not easy, as we still have a car in NZ, so we don't want to spend too much. Rather as little as possible. But there is just too much choice: a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle old model? A VW Golf cabriolet? A Landrover? An Audi? A horrible Mercedes? Or an MG?
  2. Opening a bank account
  3. Finding accommodation for the coming week.
  4. Arranging flights and hotel in Melbourne, as Age's first job in his new job takes place in Melbourne.
  5. Enjoying Adelaide :-)
We are actually really enjoying ourselves, driving around in our car, criss-cross through Adelaide, today in 31 degrees! Very nice. Our new rental place is quite close to Belair National Park, which we visited today for a quick walk around a small lake. We saw lots of different duck species, lorikeets, parakeets, cockatoos, and turtles! So nice! And we ate our lunch in Blackwood's botanical gardens, where we saw lots of birds too - a shame all those colourful birds fly so fast and so high in the canopy.

We also regularly walk along the beach here in Glenelg, and go for a stroll in the neighbourhood. It's amazing how many people live in a mansion (a huge characterful house), how do they do that?? Not only here, but everywhere, there are so many very nice houses; we'd like to know how to get one too!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

House hunting has begun

After a nice breakfast in Glenelg we headed out in our rental car to drive by a few possible furnished rentals we had shortlisted.

First we went quite far North to Mawson Lakes and found the two properties we were looking for. We didn't like it very much, it's a major development area and looked pretty much the same as those cramped new developments in The Netherlands (like Stadshagen in Zwolle). It didn't feel like Adelaide at all and the commute to the CBD wouldn't be very nice either.

Good knowledge to have, we can delete that area from our list.

Next was a property far South. It took us an hour to get there, and this property on our list happened to have an open inspection time today. But we also found it too far from the city - the commute would be an hour one way according to the real estate agent.

We drove back via a scenic road to a third property that was on paper our favourite. This one was more in the foothills. Very nice, and it looked like a nice place too. But still about 30mins by car to the city over quite windy roads.

We're now looking for more rentals (unfurnished) much closer to town, so that cycling can be an option too.

For the first time in five years: delicious crusty dark bread. We can't stop eating!!!


Saturday, 24 September 2011

In Adelaide!!

We have made it - we're in Adelaide, in a rental place that resembles a run-down apartment in Amsterdam :-)

Adrian picked us up this morning, while we were still hoovering and mopping the floors. Our house has to be open home ready at all times... He dropped us off at the airport and we flew to Chch. Of course they just had had another quake there this morning!

As Age is a Quantas club member we got to use those fancy lounges! Excellent, there's no other word. So convenient! Especially when your next plane to Sydney departs 1.5hrs later than planned!

The delay was caused by a mechanical fault in one of the engines (sometimes you get too much information), and they had to start one engine first, then tow us backwards into the right position and then start the other engine?!

All went okay and we arrived in a very wet Sydney, too late to catch our connection flight to Adelaide. We went onto the next flight, barely had time to enjoy the Qantas lounge in Sydney.

Another 2.5hr flight and now finally we're here where we need to be.

- Evelyn

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Getting ready for take-off

[Me and my mum shortly after her arrival a couple of weeks ago, basking in the sun on our verandah. Those huge thick black pressure socks she's wearing came off almost immediately (but not in time for this photo :-))]

Yesterday we had our goodbye-do. We invited people we got to know here in the last 1.5 years, and it was a great success! People could pop in any time they liked from 5pm onwards, we would serve fingerfood, and they'd bring their own drinks. After contemplating what to serve, we chose a hearty meal with dessert, for those who would be here around dinner time.

That worked really well; I made Osso Bucco - a slow-cooking stew - and it was terrific, also thanks to Age's meat finding abilities! My new nickname: domestic goddess :-) Not sure if I'm happy about that!

Somehow we ended up with way more wine than we started; we figured because of our 'do' being mid-week and people holding back? We served loads of coffee and tea, chocolate and home-baked cake :-)

Today I spent some time in the garden weeding. Imagine how it will look like in three weeks time! A wilderness I think! Age worked on de-installing someone's computer today, and getting his motorbike ready for pick-up. He has sold it!

Tonight we'll be playing tennis, with some more drinks afterwards and some more goodbyes. Tomorrow I'll be playing golf in some sort of team challenge, and Age will mow the lawns and start packing his bag(s). Hmm, me too I assume. And do some washing.

Did I tell you already that we've found accommodation for our first week in Adelaide? It's a basic sort of cottage in Glenelg, near the beach. That will give us some time to sort something out that's more permanent and probably furnished. 'First week in Adelaide', sounds like it's months away, but we're flying out this Saturday :-)


We have people looking after our house, and I'll be back in about three weeks time to see how things are going. Also to work actually - instructional design work.

By the way, now that I'm typing it's funny to see that my right hand is a lot more tanned than my left hand. That's because of golf and wearing a glove!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Less than a week to go...

Apologies for the video clip announcement in my previous post: it didn't work from outside New Zealand. I do have a 1 minute summary of the programme :-)

It's less than a week before we head off to Adelaide! How strange is that! The coming days will be filled with looking for accommodation for the first days, with saying goodbyes here and organising drinks, with me playing a golf match on Friday, with looking for a cattery for Ziva for a couple of weeks, with doing the garden (weeding!), and so forth.

I'm already busy selling lots of clothes through TradeMe. Age is selling his motorbike at the moment. And when the house is sold there is more stuff we're going to sell, as we still want to get rid of 7m3 of stuff.

Now off to James and Gill for dinner! See you later :-)
I played a 27-hole tournament today, so will probably nod off sometime during dinner. We had a beautiful day today, sunny and about 16 degrees. Adelaide hit 30 degrees today - as Matt (from Adelaide) was saying: spring is in the air!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sneak Peak of Adelaide Surrounds

Have a look at this episode of 'My kind of Place', about South Australia, and Adelaide's Barossa Valley and the Murray River in particular. There are a few ad breaks - even in TV on demand, grrr.

It could be that this video is only available for two more days, so no time to waste! Presented by one of McLeod's daughters - you know, those Australian cowgirls :-)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Two weeks to go...

No bites on our deadline sale, unfortunately. No panic though, we get the numbers through, so there must be a buyer somewhere.

The Rugby World Cup 2011 has just started! New Zealand is hosting this event, and it's total madness. The first match is the All Blacks vs Tonga. We're ready for it :-)

Tomorrow another open home.

We have had three different movers around for a quote, and they all say that we have about 7m3 too much stuff for a small container. So we have been busy with our inventory list to identify items, which we could give away or sell. Piano or no piano? Single bed? Table saw? Clothes dryer?

- Evelyn

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Feng Shui

Okaaaayyyy..... My mum discovered my Feng Shui book. On one of the pages it says:

"Feng Shui for a quick sale of your home".
"To speed up the sale of your home, do the following:
Fill a red envelope with:
  • A piece of metal from the kitchen
  • A piece of wood from a skirting board (plint)
  • A bit of dirt from the garden
and throw the envelope in a fast-streaming river."

Hahahaha, you'd think. But.... you never know. So I was certain I'd seen a red envelope somewhere, and I found one (with a stamp :-)) in Age's desk. Then we took a fork from the kitchen, I broke off a little piece of one of the skirting boards in the bedroom, and my mum dug up some dirt from the garden.

And then she took off to a fast streaming stream on the hills behind us. There is a path there, going uphill through the bush, and you really think you're the only one on earth when you walk there. So my mum was walking there, alone, and found a good spot to throw this envelope in the stream. After she'd thrown it in the water, it didn't sink immediately, so she pushed it down with a stick or something. When she looked up there was a girl standing behind her!! The girl said: "hey a red envelope!" And tried to fish it out of the water. "No No, hands off," my mum said, "this is Feng Shui".

Anyway, the girl walked away, and my mum too, a little bit behind. When she came around the corner, there was this girl, talking to a man! Anyway, my mum had to pass them, and actually nothing happened. We'll never know what they talked about, but the envelope probably has been fished out of the water already. And my mum might be happy not getting fined for trying to contaminate the stream with a red envelope :-)

Monday, 5 September 2011

3 weeks to go!

This weekend we had the last of our three open homes before the deadline sale on Thursday. We had 9 parties through this time, and it flushed out one prospective buyer. We accumulated 3.5 possible parties who might go and do something on Thursday. The .5 is a couple where the man had set his eyes on our house 18 months ago, and when he drives past it he always thinks 'when this one comes on the market I want it', but his wife isn't so keen as he is. And according to the real estate agent: 'the wife always wins'.

Today is Age's last trip to Wellington! I just dropped him off at the airport for the last time! Goodbye-drinks on Tuesday, and then Wednesday a slow day and coming home again. He initially planned to have two weeks off after that until we depart to Adelaide, but one of those weeks has already been filled with work in Canberra.

My mum is still here, and has unbelievably good weather. There hasn't been a cloud in the sky these two weeks she has been here. She is enjoying the garden, the house, the outdoor furniture, and the scenery, and we've been driving around a lot. We also played golf on a 9 hole golf course, on the Kina Cliffs. The name says it all, 'cliffs'. It's quite steep! But beautiful, with incredible vistas. On one of those steep slopes my golf cart decided to go the other way! It took off on it's own, downhill. We couldn't even see it anymore, and we laughed so hard that it hurt. It came to a standstill eventually, upside down, with clubs and stuff everywhere.

Yesterday, after we cleaned the house for the open home, we went to Mapua for lunch, and then to Abel Tasman National Park to sniff the seabreeze and walk the first 500m (!) of the famous track. It was getting late and cold, that's our excuse :-)
Age played tennis with James, who had just returned from a 4-week holiday to the UK, and who wanted to check whether he could still play tennis.

An eventful week this week, with Age's finish with The MetService, our deadline sale on Thursday, and my mum going home again, also on Thursday.