The People I've Met in Wellington So Far

Monday, 28 March 2016

After ten weeks of "making an island of myself" and enjoying solitude like a well-deserved holiday, I finally gave in to face to face socialization. What was a matter of choice suddenly became a necessity, as socialising is apparently healthy for me and my relationship with J no matter how happy I am in my own company- an advice I received from someone I barely know. So my plan of becoming "Billy No Mates" for longer was cut short as the universe once again has made its own way for me to meet other people and potentially make new friends. 

On Monday, a lady from my gym class approached me and said, "we should go for coffee". As she has been inviting me over to her house for a cup of tea in the last six weeks, I couldn't say no to this one as I really didn't have any excuse not to go. And so we went to a nearby cafe in our sweaty gym clothes. I like J because she says what she thinks and she is quite funny. We talked about my life before Wellington and a bit about her family too. We also discussed random topics such as the proposal to change the New Zealand flag which was quite interesting. It was indeed a good conversation, however J could not stay long as she had to take her dogs for a drive. She however invited me again for a cuppa at her house next week. I really would like to get to know her better because she is a nice lady. Besides, I can't probably go wrong with someone who plays the violin. :)

On Thursday, I went for my induction at a company where I am going to volunteer. There I met I, a lady I briefly met a week ago when I went for my interview. This time, I got the chance to meet her properly  and we hit it off straight away to say the least. I wasn't expecting to be still sitting in their conference room an hour after my induction talking about myself and err, my life. I has a strong personality but not intimidating unlike the ones I've met before. Talking to her was like having a heart to heart talk with an old friend. It was more like catching up on each other's lives rather than getting to know each other. It was a very mature and honest conversation. I think we bonded over our past, our strengths, our positive outlook in life and our common goal. I left the office that day feeling empowered. I hope that I could hang out with I outside work because I like her personality. And that hug that she gave me when I left? Priceless.

On the same day,  I received a text from H, a lady I met in February. Basically, I met H through an advertisement she posted in New World Supermarket. She was looking for a running buddy at that time so I "applied" for it and got the job! We have only been on one run since (haha) but we have been regularly texting each other - mostly debating if we should go for a run in this and that weather. So this Thursday, she asked me if I wanted to have coffee with her and meet her friend H. I was hesitant at first as I was coming from Miramar but I'm glad I went because I had so much fun. 

I like H (my running buddy) because since that first run, she has been making an effort to make sure that I am okay. She has also been giving me tips on job hunting. She is smart and very sociable. And she is funny too. 

H (her friend) on the other hand is the bubbliest person I've ever met. I can't even describe how funny she is. I've honestly not met anyone like her. 

So being in the middle of two Hs that day was really amazing. Not only that they made me laugh out loud but also gave me some important insights. The fact that they genuinely want to help me find a job and enjoy my stay in Wellington is one thing that I am grateful for. They both gave me the motivation and the confidence that I need to get through the painful journey of finding a job in Wellington. One of my favourite parts of the whole fun-filled conversation was when I was telling them about my ultimate career goal and bubbly H blurted out, "CEO!! I can see you as a CEO of a company of some sort".  I was in complete disbelief that someone would even think about me that way. I laughed out loud and then I  carried on talking without realising that she was already drafting a "career plan" for me. 

That was the funniest thing ever. And when I hit moments of insecurities, they both gave me the reassurance that it's better to patiently wait for the right job than rush into something that's not worthwhile in the end. Besides according to bubbly H, I'm only "39 and alive" so nothing can be better than that so I might as well just enjoy life for now until the right job comes along. And I think she's right.

Both Hs are very academic. They are actually both in university at the moment finishing some papers. Both are also in media and entertainment which makes everything more interesting. My running buddy H is currently producing a tv show while bubbly H is about to start a radio program soon. Bubbly H  is actually interested in finding out more about my upcoming volunteer job and mentioned about guesting on her radio show, so watch this space. Haha.

We spent 3 hours and a half at a cafe laughing out loud and drinking bottomless sparkling water. I didn't even realise that I didn't look at my phone the entire time. I will always treasure those three hours because these days, it's really very seldom to meet people who can actually make you forget about your phone. 

So, I guess giving in to the "call of human nature" to socialize was well worth it because I met some very nice and interesting people. I'm glad that the first people I met seem to be the "right" people and the people I probably  need in Wellington.

I am looking forward to more coffee bondings with these ladies. 

tintin x

A Green Day at Zealandia, Wellington

Thursday, 10 March 2016

When J told me that we were going to Zealandia, I was out of my mind. I thought we were going to some kind of a garden and I was going to take that opportunity to dress up because I have not dressed up in a while and I miss it. So I put on  my favourite orange skirt, a black top and my summer sandals and went out of the room with my handbag. When J saw me, he politely suggested that maybe I would be more comfortable if I wore my trainers and use another bag because we would be hiking. I looked at him in disappointment but I couldn't argue because he did all the research and although I was reluctant to change, I knew he was right. So I went back in the room and changed into a more comfortable and more Zealandia-appropriate outfit.

I was really glad that I followed J's advice because otherwise, I would have gone home with broken sandals, or worse a broken foot. This is because we're always up for a bit of adventure so we took the more challenging track instead of the  paved route. The trail was rough and steep in some areas and there was no way I could have done the trail in those sandals. 

Anyhow, Zealandia is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary.  And even if we didn't see a lot of wildlife, the few birds that we saw are enough for me to say that Zealandia is worth a visit. I wish we could have stayed longer but we arrived quite late, about two hours before they closed so we didn't have much time. I also wish that I had a  superzoom camera because some of the birds were at a distance so I couldn't take good photos of them.

But regardless of our limited time in Zealandia and my 14-42mm camera lens (which I really love), I still enjoyed our trip because of the following reasons:

1. The Trees and Bushes
- There were a lot of greens that day and the trees and the bushes were massively beautiful. 

2. The Bridges
- I am not a fan of bridges really but in Zealandia, they have two - one suspension bridge and the other built on a dam. I was not very keen to cross either of them but since they were not swaying, I gave it a go and although I was a bit shaky, I quite enjoyed the experience. 

3. The Lake 

4. The Weta Cave
- When I first heard of Weta from J, I thought it was just the company that he was going to work for. And then one day he asked me if I knew that Weta is actually an insect. I had no clue. And so we went to the Weta Cave in Zealandia to see those little monsters. Imagine being in a cave with loads of Weta above your head? Cringe.  Even with a helmet on and a torch, I was still so scared that I kept telling J that we should go out. A guy heard me and said that there were actually bigger ones further ahead. Luckily J is also not so keen on adventures like this so we decided to go out, besides we already have seen enough Weta by that time. The Weta we saw in the cave were not that big really, but the ones on the trees were massive. 

5. The Birds
- We didn't even try hard enough, but we still saw some beautiful birds. Perhaps if you are patient and willing to stay at Zealandia longer, then you will see more birds. They also have a free guided tour. 

And indeed...

tintin x

The Pressure is on the Lemon Drizzle Cake

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Baking has always been one of my weaknesses. And for someone like me who absolutely loves cakes, I should be able to make one for myself. But I am not very keen on following recipes as I don't like measurements, so I deleted baking on my list of things to learn. Needless to say, I have tried baking banana bread once before but guess what? I failed miserably. This is the reason why I was convinced that I couldn't bake.

Until last week when J asked me if I could bake: 

Me: NO?!
J: C'mon, I'm sure you can. Every week, we have a meeting and everyone brings cake baked by their partners and wives. I'm the only one who hasn't brought anything yet and I said I would bring some next week. (then he hugged me)
Me: Can you just bring Vietnamese summer rolls? 
J: (he laughs) It should be a cake.
Me: Damn, really? I can't bake.
J: C'mon. Just try. 

And so I did, only because I was pressured. I couldn't think of anything to bake apart from my favourite, that is the banana cake. My friends who bake have always told me that banana cake is one of the easiest things to make. So I went on google and found this easy to follow recipe- or so I thought. Basically the measurements on the recipe were in g, but the kitchen scale I have is in kg and lb. I almost immediately gave up when I realised that I had to convert the measurements. I hate metric conversion as it reminds me of my failure as a student, but I am not even gonna go there. As much as I was hesitant to bake at this point, the ingredients were already out and the bananas were already very ripe, so I thought I'd do it anyway. Luckily, I found a conversion table that helped me get through this challenge. And in less than an hour later, I came up with my first proper banana cake ever.

I know it's not perfect, but at least it looked and tasted like a banana cake this time. Ah, the huge difference following a recipe can make. 

J said my banana cake was good but he is more keen on lemon drizzle cakes so he asked if I could make it instead. As I was still on high following the success of my banana cake, I accepted his challenge. So the other day, I was back at it again. J and I went to buy a new kitchen scale and some other baking utensils over the weekend so this time, baking was a bit more organised.

For the lemon drizzle cake, I followed BBC Goodfood's recipe for the only reason that it didn't require baking powder. 

First of all, I hate making a mess in the kitchen, so I carefully organised my ingredients like a proper OCD.

225g unsalted butter (but I used salted butter)
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
finely grated zest 1 lemon
225g self-raising flour

And then I mixed the butter and the caster sugar well (while pre-heating the oven to gas mark 160C).

Then added the eggs one at a time, mixing it well each time. 

I was losing confidence at this point as my batter looked like scrambled egg. Then I watched the video and was relieved when the Miriam said that it's actually okay if they separate at this point.

Because once the sifted flour is added, they will stick together again.

And then I added the lemon zest, however I forgot to take a photo of it.

When I knew that I have mixed it well, I put the mixture in a greased tin lined with baking paper. If you watch the recipe video, Miriam actually has a good tip on how to line the baking tin. Suggested baking time is 45-50 minutes but mine took just over an hour.

While the mixture is in the oven, I prepared the drizzle topping:

juice of 1 1/2 lemons
85g caster sugar

I didn't realise that we have a juicer, so I had to squeeze the lemon manually and then strained the juice afterwards and then mixed them together.

My favourite part is when I inserted a skewer in the middle of the cake to check if the cake was done.  Apparently if the skewer comes out clean, then the cake is cooked. 

Afterwards, I pricked the cake all over and poured the drizzle. 

But J has a different idea on how a lemon drizzle cake should look like, so he suggested that we add some more drizzle topping.

And the end result was quite good. J said that he could definitely bring my lemon drizzle cake to work. And for him to say that, I guess I must have done a good job.

And so the pressure is on to bake another lemon drizzle cake for ten people this Thursday. I hope and pray that this time it will be better. Thanks Miriam for the easy recipe.

tintin x

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