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Quick update before I return to regular programming…

So, my NZMM turned into a bit of a fail this year… let me share the reasons…

So, my family took a “holiday” at the end of April. We decided to drive from Dunedin to Hastings (New Zealand), because it was half the price of flying and it’s a great way to show the child the country (and see it ourselves!)

First up, we didn’t leave as early as planned due to there having been a crash on the highway we needed to take, and no detours available…

We eventually left and still got held up for an hour. Turned out to be an incredibly tragic murder-suicide… Yep. Even in NZ…

So, about four and a half hours into the journey (and about half an hour from our accommodation for the night… in the heavy, heavy rain and dark) the exhaust (with it’s newly-fitted bullet-muffler) began swinging between the car body and the drive shaft (4WD car, so it has a drive shaft)… Of course, we did not know this at the time. All we knew was that the car had begun making a horrendous noise. The car is 1996, so all sorts of things can start falling off in 2014, right? Yeah…well, considering our history with the car (for instance the engine mounting bolt that fell off just as we pulled up in Nelson – 9 hours north of Dunedin – that one time…) we were freaking out. (I was picturing the drive shaft falling free and firing the car – and all of us – from the road…)

We made it to the camp ground and our cabin in the pouring rain (surface flooding) and… managed. Got some sleep.

Spent the following morning trying to figure out what the problem was… well aware that time was ticking as far as getting to our ferry crossing on time. It was very, very wet.

Then we called Roadside Assistance, drove (carefully) to the guy on duty and got the car up on a hoist to figure out the problem. Problem identified, but not exactly fixable (just manageable), we carried on. 

Now, through enquiries when taking a toilet stop at a McDonalds (as you do), we learned that the “down to one-lane, possible delays due to slips” up the Eastern Highway were actually “Road closed… you will have to turn back (and NOT make the ferry in time)” alerts. So, we took another road which added about an hour or so to our journey, but would still get us to the ferry terminal just on time. (OK, with 15mins to spare… if we didn’t make any stops… with a 3.5 year old in the car… Well, this is why we bought nappies for the journey…).

Had the dog, too…

The GPS tried to encourage us to take a road that would have come out potentially before the slips that had closed the other road, so we had to wrangle with that… all the while: rain. Not normal rain for NZ, either… I mean rain.

Any way, on the journey, received a text from the Ferry company — boats delayed four hours! Check in no longer 6pm, but 10pm… So glad we had the forethought to book a room with beds on the boat.

Phoned ferry company to confirm… yes, indeed, still running, just delayed (the other company wasn’t running, so we kept being told by worried mothers/in-law that the ferry was cancelled)…

Saw lots of rain and very high rivers.

Arrived in Picton. Let the dog out. Stretched the legs. Chose a place to have dinner.

It was a cool bar, really, with toys for the kids and a whole area that wasn’t really used where tired travellers could rest their weary heads. Had a nice pub meal and managed to keep the child entertained until the 10pm check-in…

Check in. Then wait in car for an hour or more. Luckily, the Picton side of the crossing is quite nice. You can get out of your car and the terminal has great facilities.

Eventually, pull into ferry, park up, leave dog (better that she has familiar surroundings – and travels for free!), and go up the stairs… Find out that someone else has managed to take the room we booked… sigh. But, there was a room for the less-than-fully-able available, so we got that with all it’s fancy call-buttons and what-not. Not as pretty as the other room looked in photos, but enough beds for our little family and our own toilet, etc…

To bed.

Boat finally departed at midnight.

Rough ride… Very, very rough. Enough to wake the adults a few times. Enough to nearly throw you out of bed.

Child slept through.

Honestly. We felt the boat climbing the waves… climb, climb, climb… and… see-saw down the other side… Quite freakish. But, you put your faith in the boat and its captain and crew and carry on…

Get wake up call. Get up, dressed, get back down to car.

Arrive in Wellington… I can’t even remember what time I was so tired. Guessing it was around 4am, maybe 3.30.

Drive off boat. Find petrol station (yay GPS), and head out on the road…

… and drive…

… and drive…

Get speeding ticket at 7.30am (a big one, too… oops… from the hubby’s cousin’s boyfriend, as it turns out, too…).

Arrive in Hastings at 8am.

Greet family as enthusiastically as tired self can manage.

Let husband sleep (child slept in car, wide awake now). Finally sleep in the afternoon.

Have a busy week of trying to relax (at least getting some sleep-ins alternately with hubby) and catch up with friends and family in what time we have…

… and write at every opportunity as it presented itself….

Then… return journey.

Leave fairly early. Arrive in Wellington a little before dinner. Get invited to dinner with family (my brother and his family).

Notice difficult gear changes… (yep, my lovely, lovely car I’ve had for 10 years is a stick-shift).


Meet family we’re staying with (hubby’s cousin, her husband and their 5 week old daughter).

Get petrol. Try to figure out what’s wrong with car. Not sure… carry on… Just have to deal with difficult gear changes.

Go to my brother’s house for dinner where child can play with his cousin. While dinner finishes cooking, hubby spends time trying to figure out the car’s issue… Finally dinner, theory on car but no way to fix in the time we have, chat, drive back to where we’re sleeping… (tricky, because Wellington has a lot of narrow, twisty, uphill roads…)

Up before 5am to get to ferry terminal for 6am check-in… only, they don’t take us until 7am… thanks.

Then it’s a looong wait in the car lines… No nice terminal this time. Just a port-a-loo.

Finally on boat and away around 9 (I think… I forget)…

Better sailing, but no beds for day trips. Luckily child befriends a little girl who keeps him well entertained. Still feels like hard work keeping an eye on them, as she is often unsupervised…). Hubby catches some zzz’s, though.

Off the ferry around lunch time. We ate on the boat, so while other travellers stop in Picton for lunch, we drive on… once we’re cruising, the clutch isn’t a problem… much.

Drive on and on…

Stop for a meal eventually… decide we’re close enough to Dunedin to carry on…

Arrive at home at 9.20pm.


Then it was: deal with clutch for a week while we arrange a replacement. Decided to get done through a friend (with car mechanic experience) rather than pay full price. Means car is off road for at least a week while he does it around work and other commitments…


The Sunday night when I had no car (and my computer had partially died that weekend, too), and I knew I had to get a child to kindy, get across town to work, wanted to (but accepted it wasn’t necessary) to have coffee with some people, and with a book to get home to finish… I was very nearly in tears.

As someone used to full independence… argh!!!!

Never mind.

Hubby dropped child to kindy and me to work.

Was picked up by a coffee buddy to go to coffee meet-up (for #gigatowndunedin… see what I did there? No… don’t think that earns a point… dammit).

Just missed bus… with 40mins till the next one. Started walking.

Saw my old bosses who I really don’t want to talk to far too many times on that walk (ick ick ick), but then saw my old-old boss (actually younger than the others, and 3 days younger than me… so not old at all… but from the previous job) which was really nice!

Then dashed to catch bus… got to a bus stop only to discover that my bus didn’t stop there (it had several years ago when I used to catch buses more regularly…!) … nor the next one… freak out. Has the bus changed route so much??

Text hubby… can I get a ride? Maybe…

But… but… wait… next bus stop… Phew! It does stop at this one… and it’s nearly here!!!!

I say again…. phew!

Bus home.

On the floor, just inside from the cat door… the key to the neighbour’s spare car… JOY!!!!!

And brain buzzing… Knuckle down to work on book (even though can’t turn on computer because battery pack died over weekend and computer ran out of power just as I printed out manuscript… but, at least I have printed manuscript!!).

Quick sit down to write…

Then collect child from kindy…

Neighbour’s car is for sale… maybe a little tempted, but haven’t driven it much.

Got a power pack for computer… carrying on… and brain functioning pretty well.

Following day: drop child to kindy and drive across town to work… not so impressed by neighbour’s car (sorry!)

Work….. and…. start hunt for new car.

I know, I know… A manual car is going to wear out a clutch. But, it’s not just the clutch. In October, it failed a warrant on various issues. I borrowed a car for nearly 2 months (fine… it was work’s spare car, and I almost liked it enough to buy it, except that I drove my own – still broken – car somewhere and enjoyed the experience too much to want to keep the sluggish – but much newer and really quite pretty – automatic beast I was borrowing). And then there was the hole in the muffler… and then there was the clutch…

So… yeah…

And then I spotted this:

2006 Yellow Lancer

… and, barring a test drive, I was in love (sort of… I still love my old car).

Following day (yes, when I should have been writing/editing) I drove it and liked it.. a lot. Even hubby was impressed (and neither of us dig autos… even tiptronics… but.. but…)

Anyway… by the end of the week (after some hassles sorting things at the bank when there really was no issue) it was mine!!!!!

Old car finally got its new clutch… whole car smells like clutch fluid, but so be it. We just have to air it out! The old car has been put back to nearly stock standard (I bought it ten years ago when modding a car was cool, man… less cool when you are transporting your child)…

Computer issues finally sorted today (phew!) after trying cheap power packs (message: DON’T). Now I just need to clear the hard drive so it works faster…

And then we need to sell the old car… (it’s really not that bad… esp. now we’ve just done all this work to it). I want it sold because my heart aches a little bit when I drive past it in my new (YELLOW!) car. I know it’s just a lump of metals, but… but… 10 years is a lot of history. It’s done Dunedin to Hastings twice now, and Dunedin to Nelson at least once… and we used to be part of a Toyota car club (with my Toyota Caldina TZ-G, 3rd generation 3SGE engine, manual, 4WD….)… The thing I miss the most is the sound. It sounds lovely. Passengers used to feel the need to add a “pshh” when we changed gears because it sounded like it should have had a turbo… They didn’t do turbo Caldinas (Corona wagons) before 1997 (and mine’s 1996). And, once, when we’d just got the new (2nd-hand) 17″ alloy wheels a guy from the car club said “That car is sex”… which made me happy… And, when we entered it in some drag races, which, sure, it didn’t win (we knew it wouldn’t), the first comment I overheard as my husband lined up to race was “Urgh, who brought nana’s car?”… People went a bit quieter after its first run… Thing about 4WD is that it could put its power to the road, which some of the other cars had trouble doing. I really love my car that doesn’t look all that special but goes like the clappers and sounds BEAUTIFUL (if you like that kind of thing). But… that beautiful sound was beginning to get a bit loud for me as I get older… and transport my child… so, I’ve known I needed to move on for a while now…


I almost forgot…

If you’ve made it this far…

WARRIOR’S TOUCH is now with my Beta Readers.

Yeah. I reached an end… depending on what people say. I hope to be sending it on to my publishers in early June (if not — miracle of miracles — earlier…). Hopefully it won’t be in need of too much more editing…

Real progress has been made.

I’m taking a brief “break” to catch up on things around the house and with real people (andget rid of this cold!) and then I will be embarking on book 3… aka MAGICIAN’S TOUCH.


Are you as breathless as I am?

5 thoughts on “Phew!”

  1. Wow… Phew is right! I felt exhausted just reading through it! As in I felt your exhaustion. How could they give your *booked* berth away? That’s wholly uncalled for.

  2. Woooooow. I mean, just wow. How did you survive all of that with your sanity?
    Also, I would never go on a ferry. I don’t like being stranded in the middle of a non solid object. 0.o

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