Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Vancouver

After what seemed days and days I have arrived in Vancouver before I left!

I had trouble sleeping on the flight to LA mainly because there were too many neat films to watch. I saw the Topp Twins, then The Reader, tried to sleep and then two episodes of Go Girls (I should have been watching that at home).

Terry, I had a pizza in the same place at LA airport!

The flight to Vancouver was OK as I had 2 seats to myself. I dozed most of the way but enjoyed a great view coming in towards Vancouver. We touched down at about 9.00pm (still light) and got to hotel at about 10.00pm.

I can't get my phone to work, though it worked in USA and my EEEPC laptop is playing up and the cursor/button combo doesn't work and everything has to be done with tab and arrows. Did this once before and I can't remember how I fixed it!?

Slept till 11.00am and have just finished a walk along the sea front and a bagel and fruit lunch with a surprisingly nice coffee. It's very summery, about 22 degrees, with a cool wind.

I'm going to try to solve the phone and laptop problems by visiting their websites and then go for a jog along sea front and through Stanley Park.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Off To Vancouver

Well, this Friday this country boy jumps on the plane and goes to Vancouver to run a workshop at the International Restorative Practices Conference in Vancouver. He's a little nervous and a lot excited.

I'm a bit nervous about taking off by myself without either my mate, Terry, or my wife, Leigh. I'm also a bit nervous about making sure the workshop is one of quality as I know I am one of the first to complain if a workshop or presentation is poor!

I am excited because I think it is a huge honour for our wee school to get this recognition. It's another reminder that the work we are doing in managing student conflict in such a positive manner is world-leading stuff - and we need to remind ourselves of that from time-to-time!

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Adventure Race Success!

What a great sense of satisfaction and achievement! This was a very challenging event but our team, Opotiki Opossums, comprising myself, Lea, Barry and Trevor just stuck at it and completed the event in just over 27 hours.

It was exciting setting up camp the night before. We even managed to pick up the course notes at 5.00 and had the course plotted by 7.00. Barry, Lea and I headed into New World Kawerau where we made use of Dave's computer and printer to print maps and calculate distances. We were in bed by 10.30. 3 hours ahead of last year's schedule.

The raw stats are: 24 teams entered, 6 pulled out (25% attrition!), we crossed the line 18th out of 18, but our bonuses for finding checkpoints moved us to 14th! Our goal, established by Captain Possum, Barry, was to finish 15th or better! Goal achieved!

We started with a kayak on Lake Tarawera where we headed along the north side to a mark and then across the lake heading towards the track to Rotomahana. One check point was abandoned by the organisers because they were concerned the conditions would deteriorate. The paddle across the lake worried me but the conditions in hindsight were very good. I can't wait to get more confident in my boat! Lea paddled strongly to lead us across the lake. We then trekked over to Rotomahana to pick up a checkpoint and then back to our kayaks. We decided then to miss the next two checkpoints and head back to the transition at the camp where we started, picking up 2 check points on the way.

It was great to see Marg, Joc, Kate and Lyn joining our support crew of Leigh and Ted at the transition. George provided great support as well.

Thankfully we missed the rogaine and headed off on the first trek in about 3rd place! We trekked along the shore towards Okataina picking up all checkpoints before we took a bearing and headed straight up the bluff! Apart from one small error when we shouldhave listened to Trevor we navigated very well and picked up the next checkpoint. This was followed by a clamber down a dry canyon to the Tarawera River and a tramp along the river bank to the falls carpark. On the way I elected to do the swim across the river, scramble up the rocks to collect a checkpoint and return. It was only when I dived in the river on return that I remembered I still had my glasses on.

We had a bit of a boost after our 6 hour trek to see our supporters now joined by Lucy, Kurt and Hine as we transitioned onto MTBs just as the sun was setting. We were about 30 minutes behind the A Team of Destry, Karl, Hedley and Teleri. They looked to be going really well.

The MTB leg was a low point for most of our team though Lea seemed to cope OK with it. She did have some almost falling asleep moments. I thought this leg might take 3 hours as it was only 60ks!

It took us almost 7 hours. It was dark. It rained some of the time. The fog came in. There was lots of climbing. The roads were made of sandy pumice. Our lights were useless. I forgot my gells. I was sick of bars. It was relentless!

We decided to miss the first checkpoint but when it looked like we might decide to miss the next one I suggested it was the compulsory one, so we headed off-road and Barry and I eventually found it. We seemed to be back on track again as we turned north and headed largely downhill towards Kawerau from near Rerewakaiatu.

We eventually ended up at the shooting range where I hit 5 from 5!!! Barry missed one and blamed my minder for bumping him. The others got 5 from 5 too! A Highlight! This lifted my spirits a bit and we headed off through farmland, took a wrong turn and rode through the streets of Kawerau at 11.00pm to finally reach transition at Tui Glen where we were fed and looked after by Ted and Leigh.

Our spirits started to lift as we made the midnight deadline. We were saddened to see the A team come in and Hedley, who had had a big cold all week and Teleri who was a bit knackered after 17 hours had to pull out. It was good to have destry and Karl join us for the final trek.

So at midnight, after ODing on Coke the 6 of us headed off aiming for the Rotoma highway which had a deadline of 3.00am. Once again, our navigation through difficult country was spot ona nd we arrived at the checkpoint at 2.30am where they tried to convince us to pull out as most teams were taking 8 hours from there to the finish. After a great feed of soup, biscuits and coffee I asked each of the other 5 if they wished to continue. They all wanted to go on so off we went. Not too far down the track Destry and Karl pulled the pin and headed back, The country on the map looked difficult.

The four of us pressed on and we made very good progress and navigated really well picking up all of the checkpoints. A bit of hallucinating was going on, but I insisted on regular food stops and we made the last manned checkpoint at 7.30am. Unfortunately we still had 2 hours of walking to the Falls carpark and then back along the Tarawera Falls track to the finish.

The falls are outstanding and were worth another look! I found the last hour and half the most difficult and began to flag abit. It was awesome to be met by Aaron and George on the track 500m from the finish and then to see Leigh and Ted on the bridge as we finished after 27 hours.

It was a challenging and brutal event. There were moments when we all struggled and we all had low points, but our team morale was strong. Barry did a great job making sure everyone was going OK and even during his low moment on the MTB kept the navigating going. Lea kept the positive vibe going throughout the full race and the silly things she said kept the humour level high. Trevor was simply outstanding in the bush. He can sniff his way and end up in the right place.

We all won a spot prize! Leigh and Ted were great support crew and we dined on great stew and soup!

Best one I've ever done! Never felt the broken rib either! Told you that wouldn't stop me!

Check the other photos.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bringing It All Up at Toi's

What a horrible day's training. I felt as if I had a bit of a chill coming on - possibly from Thursday evening's MTB ride without a jacket and a cold day at work on Friday. Wasn't feeling right on Fri afternoon so I am positive the 5-6 whiskeys at Kurt's watching the rugby wasn't to blame.

Barry, Lea, George, Aaron and I went over and walked the first part of the Toi's track from Hillcrest over to Otarawairere and back up through the village and along the top to the trig and back into Hillcrest. I found it bloody hard - sore legs on the uphill, a bit breathless and nauseous. I really dragged the chain.

We managed to find somewhere to eat in Whakas and gobbled a baked spud and coffee before we headed off to the rogaine where we met up with the A Team. Bugger! A quick look at the course and we were headed back into Toi's again. We could have done the clues on the flat but decided to make it a training opportunity. Otarawairere at high tide was tricky. I really struggled on the hills again and as were were heading up from Otarawairere I got the keys off Barry and told them to go on and get as many clues as they could while I headed straight back. I was not feeling good.

Unfortunately they stopped just out of Otarawairere to put on 6heir jackets so they had a great view of me chundering my guts out. I managed to keep my spotlight focused so they got a great view. At that point they decided to stay with me. What great mates. Would've been scary ggoing back by myself, especially with Barry talking about sex offenders lurking in the bush!

I was stuffed.

We ended up at the Ohope Club watching the rugby where I sank a couple of cokes while they dined on beer and chips. All day I had eaten one bowl of porridge and one baked spud and hardly drunk anything. Something's not right. Plan to take it easy all week because the race is on next weekend.

It's Mothers Day and poor Leigh has taken Lucy and Opes to Taupo to play soccer. I'm trying to do housework as my mothers day present but I'm not very good at it and I don't think she'll notice. Perhaps I'd better point it out!

Even though I have lost my appetite I'll have a nice chicken and chick peas mel ready for when they get home.

Time to vacuum!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mangapumarumaru Epic

After Saturday's scary paddle we thought we'd try something gentler. So considering it was Lea's birthday we decided on a later start. After coffee at Lea's Lea, Barry, george and myself set out on our MTBs up the Gorge and battled a very stiff southerly to the Owhiritoa Bridge where we stashed our bikes and headed off up the road to the Mangapumarumaru Stream. We bounded up the stream and then completed the massive climb to 600m and then along the ridge. I was certain we were on the correct track as it matched our compass and George kept finding markers. Even when the markers disappeared the compass said we were going the right way. As it was we ended up in a creek which Barry remembered the last time he was in the area. After clambering down the creek we were faced with a 5m???? leap over a waterfall. It was most probably only 3m but we want to make it sound scarier. The pool at the bottom came up to Barry's mid riff so you can imagine how deep it was for poor old George! We decided to head on to Brill's for lunch which was a bit of a mistake as it took longer than expected. We didn't have lunch until about 2.40pm so we were feeling a bit empty.

However, it was a great place to take Lea out to birthday lunch.

We then headed up the grass cliff face out of Brill's which I found a bit nerve-wracking as it was so steep and open. George did a great job leading us back up over 600m again. All his tipuna were at work guiding him through the bush to each marker. After a couple of rests we made the top and started the long steep downhill to the road. The highlight was George's tumble and roll over the edge and into the undergrowth.

At some point Barry mentioned he was supposed to be home by 3.00. At 3.00 we were still over an hour from our bikes and we still had the ride home. After hitting the road we had a 3k walk back down the highway to our bikes. Marty went past in his vehicle and stopped to ask what a pack of mad buggers were doing at the time of the late afternoon walking down the road so far from anywhere!

We found our bikes and set off at about 4.45pm. Luckily Lea had a headlight and three of us had tail lights. We sped down the gorge with the southerly behind us and got back to Lea's exhausted but on a bit of a high. Barry and I managed one quick beer to celebrate her birthday with her family before I dropped Barry at home and finally got home about 6.30pm.

What another great day. What a great day to spend your birthday, eh Lea?

I found it difficult to sleep that night despite crashing at 8.30 so was abit tired, sore and not grumpy, but measured, for the day.

Just finished a marathon 12 hours at work so need to head home to farewell Mum who heads to Greece tomorrow.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Drama on High Seas

Well, it felt like that anyway.

Lea, Barry, George, Aaron and I planned to paddle over Ohiwa Harbour to the Boatshed Restaurant to order beer and chips and return. As we set off the wind was howling and rain was falling and whitecaps were appearing in the distance. I felt very unstable but pushed on. Things weren't too bad until we cut across the channel to the Ohope side. From there to the wharf it was like a washing machine - surfing down waves, rudder out of water, and wind blowing quite strongly. The trickiest bit was getting around the wharf and landing. For most of the time I was terrified but Barry looked after me and kept shouting Abraham-like motivation things at me. I knew he was doing it and could see through him - but they worked.

We had a very average coffee (too cold for beers) from a very average host and talked about the dangers of getting back. I was tempted to hunker down and ring for a car! Thankfully the others were more determined and we headed off into the wind and punched our way back. It was easier paddling into the waves and wind and we finished with it being dead calm.

This paddle was a great confidence booster for me and as Barry said "If you can stay upright in this you can handle anything." That's bullshit, but it helped. I feel for the likes of Trev, Destry and Karl who missed the opportunity.

Finishing off with a couple of beers at Hunters allowed for a great debrief.

At our team meeting at Hunters last night we were joined by Nathan Faave who was good compaany and gave us some great advice.

Week in Auckland

I have had a great week in Auckland with my mates Terry and Peter at a principal's study tour. We went up on Sunday and booked into the Mercure which is a great location. On Monday we had a few key note speakers - most of which were great with one exception.

That night Terry, Peter, Jude and I caught the fery to Devonport and had a great Italian and back in the city we hit the Lenin Bar for the compulsory shots of vodka infusions including 2 with very hot chilli.

The next day I visited Massey High School and enjoyed their presentations on academic counselling, literacy and restorative practices. This is a school like ours but with 2500 students! I have thought about a couple of good ideas from there to fine tune our restorative practices and to improve teacher parent hui.

That night Terry and I wandered up to K Rd to dine at Sri Penang. We got there a bit early so popped into a bar for a couple of beers to realise we were in a gay bar. I sat close to Terry so that the others realised I was in a relationship! The restaurant was, once again, outstanding.

The next day I caught the ferry and visited Takapuna Grammar which is a visually impressive school. I was impressed with their facilities and also with the work they had done to establish a school-wide pedagogy which has given me some good ideas for our school as we prepare for the NZ Curriculum.

That night we dined at the Viaduct and Terry and I had a couple of beers at a bar playing choice music on the way home.

The next day was supposed to be a full day of bringing it together followed by the Conference Dinner. However, business was over at lunch. It would have been possible to drive home on Thursday afternoon but because we had paid for our room and the Conference Dinner we had no choice but to stay! Managed to squeeze in a visit to afew music stores and bought 6 more of the Top 500! I had a voucher for Marbecks as a thank you for being interviewed for 2 hours by Rose, a MA student, who was interviewing pakeha principals who work in schools with a high Maori roll.

Spent Friday travelling home.