Sunday, 17 June 2012

Week 5 – 4 a.m. football matches, General work rules in NZ, & Chinese beatings!

Hello everybody! I’m guessing you’re all as impressed with England’s comeback against Sweden, as the 150 people in the pub at 06:45 on Saturday morning here were. Believe me, if you were feeling frustrated at the English teams defending in that first 15 mins of the second half, imagine how we all felt having gone to the pub for a 06:45 kick off! Still, as we all know the English team are pretty good at raising hopes before eventually snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. We’ll see on Tues/Weds or whenever the final group game is.

Wind & Rain shelters on many a street corner!
 04:00 FOOTBALL:
This leads me to share a little event on Monday morning, where having contemplated if getting up for England’s first game of the tournament was a good idea or not, I decided that I would get up and set my alarm for Monday morning at 03:30 – time to wake up, put some clothes on and get to the pub. I not only managed to wake up at 03:30, but dressed myself in some half-decent clothes and arrived at the pub at 03:55 to be greeted by a strange sight…
The sight was that of 10 people sat in front of a big screen, it took a moment to realise why one of the guys was wearing a Barcelona shirt – The Spanish team appeared from the tunnel, followed by the Italians… IT WAS THE WRONG DAY! England were playing on Monday evening, = Tuesday morning here!  I had no choice but to stay and watch the game, then returned to bed for 90 mins before work. I arrived the next morning at 0400 knowing I had the right day as I could hear the English national anthem blasting from the pub as I approached. The pub had about 200 people (see video below) 

I have learned a about some quite different work practices here over the last couple of weeks which may seem a little strict or odd to some of you. For example:
1)   You only get a total of 14 weeks maternity pay here, you can have the 12 month period off, but you better have saved up for it! Don’t worry folks, it’s not something that’s going to affect me for a long time yet!
2)   Whilst I have heard from people that arranging some unpaid leave is not so difficult here, you are ONLY ALLOWED 10 SICK DAYS EACH YEAR, after that, its unpaid leave! Quite a few of my ex colleagues would not be so quick to have the odd sick day off under these rules! 
3)   You have to pay to see a doctor here – it seems to range between $30-$60 per consultation – that’s 15-30 pounds! You also have to pay for your prescriptions (normal for most places), including if you need the medications to be put in a blister pack – though I have been told there is a yearly limit that once you reach (depending on your income) then allows you reduced rates.
4)   Annual leave – I have a set number of days of leave, though instead of starting the year with that time and then using the days up - I have to earn the time before having the holiday (again I have been told you can take a little more time than you have earned depending on circumstances). 
I wonder what other rules are here that I am yet to find out!
Love the name of this shop!

Modern shops eh! 

Now throughout my travels and time overseas, I have experienced all kind of strange massage practices, and have experienced paying good money to experience pain in many forms (massage related).  Just this Saturday, and also two weeks ago, I went a Chinese massage place on Cuba Street (see picture below).
The  Massage place on Cuba Street!
The first visit I paid $40 for a back, neck, shoulders & foot massage. A small Chinese woman then appeared and took me into a partitioned ‘room’. I was asked to take off my shirt, and then place my feet in into a steaming hot bowl filled with water and flowers. All seemed well, until I suddenly felt a sharp knee in my back. I thought hey hey, must have been a mistake, then ow! Another knee to the back, and soon enough I was having my head twisted whilst my shoulders were pinned! Clearly liking such treatment I went back for more yesterday… I went for the full body massage this time $60 for 60 mins, and found myself in a proper room this time. When I looked up, the ceiling was quite high, and there was were metal bars above the massage table – what could they be for? I quickly thought it’s best not to know, and lay back for 60 mins of mild-moderate pain… feels great now! And just incase you were wondering about the metal bars… they were so the masseur had something to hold onto whilst walking on your back above the massage table!

See - the strange use of the word 'Manchester'
On a final note, I just wanted to say I met so many nice new people this week, especially a Steph’s birthday at the Shed 5 restaurant! So thanks for the invite, and also if anyone was thinking of going to watch the movie ‘Prometheus’ – don’t do it! It’s so ridiculous it’s almost a comedy! A brilliant line at the end whilst the female heroine is talking to the decapitated head of a robot:
Robot – “ I don’t understand that feeling”
Female character – “that’s because you are a robot and I am a human being” –classic!

Regards from New Zealand