Goodbye tens, hello twenties

It’s the end of a decade today, depending on how you count. Ben tells me the twenties don’t officially begin until 2021 but he’s a mathematician and mathematicians start counting from one. Whereas my background is computer science and in computer science, we begin counting from zero, so I’m going with the twenties beginning tomorrow.

This decade started with a huge bang for us, literally. Elizabeth was born on New Year’s Eve 2009 at about 7pm. Then nine months later, on the 4th of September 2010, the Christchurch earthquake sequence began and changed our lives forever.

Elizabeth’s birth was a textbook perfect birth except for the part where she was two weeks overdue and had to be induced. During the day on New Year’s Eve 2009, I was induced at the hospital in Christchurch. Contractions started fairly soon afterwards and she was born within about 3 hours. It was a completely pain-free birth because I’d done the natural birth with Daniel and decided the next one was going to be with an epidural. So determined was I to have the epidural that I signed all the relevant paperwork months and months in advance. Thankfully, I got my epidural which I later discovered didn’t contain any drugs and was a block only. Elizabeth arrived very quickly without much effort and not even any tearing. It was just Ben and the midwife present, and that’s it. As soon as I could walk again, which was a few hours later, we drove home.

Everything went smoothly at home with Elizabeth and life was pretty good. Then September came and with it the earthquakes. Thus began one of the most challenging periods of my life. I blame my wrinkles and grey hair on the fear and anxiety that the earthquakes generously dolloped upon us. It wasn’t just one earthquake but thousands and thousands and when you have little people you are responsible for and feel you cannot ensure their safety, it increases stress and trauma. The anticipation that at any moment another earthquake could strike, more devastating than what we had already experienced, kept me on edge 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There was no break, no respite, no much-needed restful night of sleep because earthquakes do not sleep. I was barely coping when we moved to Auckland in mid-2011.

After 6 months of living in Auckland, my heart eventually stopped racing with every bus or truck that passed our home and I felt normal again. But we didn’t like Auckland as a place to live and our search for a home continued for several more years until finally, towards the end of 2014, we made our home in Scotland.

The past five years living in Scotland have been the best years of my life. I love this country and the people, the culture, the landscapes, the climate, the education system, and the boring geology. The kids are thriving here as are Ben and I.

We have a family tradition for Hogmanay and Elizabeth’s birthday which is to go to the pantomime at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen. Alan McHugh writes and performs in Aberdeen’s pantomime every year, at least since we’ve been going starting in 2014. They’re such funny and entertaining shows, thanks in large part to his wit, costumes,  and comic performances. I can’t imagine the pantomime without him. This year was Cinderella and one of the best I’ve seen.

We’re not allowed to photograph or film any part of the show so as not to give any secrets away but I took some photos in the theatre beforehand. The theatre itself has its own entertainment value. Apparently, Billy Connelly once described it as “like playing a gig inside a wedding cake”.




After the pantomime, we went ice-skating at the Christmas village.






I’ve been starving myself for the past few days in the hope of being able to zip up one of my dresses again and today I managed it which made me happy. However, it’s still very tight, much tighter than it used to be, and I very nearly zipped my skin into the zip.


I’ve been doing the 16/8 diet (eating from 12pm-8pm) and also running again, although I didn’t run today. As soon as I’m back to my usual weight I’m going to go back to eating breakfast again but perhaps just snack a bit less during the day. I have got into the habit of eating pretty much all day long and indeed hunger pains had become something foreign for me. I think it’s probably good for healthy adults to feel hungry from time to time.

What’s in store for the new year and decade? I really have no idea and it’s probably better that way. As long as there’s no earthquake in nine months I’ll be fine.

Happy New Year everyone and may the 20s bring peace and happiness to you all.


10 thoughts on “Goodbye tens, hello twenties”

  1. I think most of us wanted to run away from Christchurch during those two ‘earthquake years’. I had elderly parents here at the time, and my sister and her family were having to live in a munted house, so had enough on their hands already without adding to it. If I could have run away to Auckland, I might have. I’d been living there for several years, and still had a property there, but was taking some time away and was back in Christchurch in Feb11. Nek minnit – boom! Everything changed. After I knew I was staying in Christchurch for the foreseeable future, I was at a job interview where trucks were driving past, and shaking the building as they did. I remember jumping every time – lol! I still got the job, though 🙂 We still have the possibility of the Alpine Fault going off looming over us, which it is apparently due sometime between 2017 and the following 50 years, so I can understand the allure of living somewhere safe. When you talk about “boring geology” there, what do you mean by that?

    1. Hi Katrina, by boring geology I mean there are no earthquakes or volcanoes here. To a geologist, it must be boring when compared to New Zealand which has so much going on geologically.

      The risk of the alpine fault as pretty much a dead cert during my lifetime was a big factor in our decision to leave. If I could have been assured that the Christchurch quakes would be the last of it then I might have struggled through it but I couldn’t entertain the thought of experiencing it all again. That said, the alpine fault will be further away and so hopefully less devastating for Christchurch.

      1. Haha – yes, from that point of view, Scotland is boring – lol! Of course, most of us would like NZ to be a little more boring in that regard, too. We have our fingers crossed that the alpine fault will knock us about a little less than Feb11, due to what you say, even though the magnitude of the earthquake will be bigger. In Feb11, Julia Gillard, then then Prime Minister of Australia, threw resources at us like crazy to help us out (other countries helped enormously, too). If the alpine fault went off tomorrow – and touch wood it won’t – we couldn’t expect much help from Oz this time, while they’re struggling to deal with their own widespread bushfire catastrophe.

  2. Happy New Year, Rachel! You look quite svelte to me! I came back from New York with six extra pounds: the food is so good there, but I doubt if I could fit in any of my dresses now, except for the big tent-like one I wear to the pool in the summer. :/

    Ten years doesn’t seem very long, but it’s remarkable how much has happened this past decade, for ill or good. I became a grandmother and thought I would hate it: now I can’t imagine not having my two grandchildren. I also went from caregiver to my parents to a retiree; I am glad not to have to take care of anyone anymore, but I am still grappling with this new phase of life. I expect many changes next year, hopefully good ones!

    1. Being a grandparent and retiree gives you licence to pack on some extra pounds I think. I know it will happen for me too but not at 44 hopefully and not when I still want to wear my lovely dresses. I only want to lose 2 kg so it’s not much but it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever dieted.

  3. I too wondered whether I should conclude the last decade yesterday, or on the New Year eve of 2020 and settled for the former.

    I lifted one of your paragraphs and modified as following to fit for my life situation 😀

    The past ten years living in Auckland have been the best years of my life. I love this country and (most of) the people, the culture, the landscapes, the climate, the education system, and the boring geology. I am glad to have raised my son here I can say my wife and I are thriving here.

    I feel so lucky to be living my dream of first-world living for a decade and counting in this tiny corner of the world. I truly don’t want to live anywhere else.

    1. You remind me that I should always be grateful for where I live and although Auckland never felt like home for us it was still a great place to live and raise a family. You are right to feel fortunate about living there. Everything you say about it is true except for the boring geology part. Auckland is built on an active volcanic field and is anything but boring!

  4. Happy New Year!!

    Be careful with the diet. I still wonder whether overweight people are less healthy due to the weight or because they diet trying to lose or not gain weight. For me intermittent fasting or a limited eating window works well, when I am hungry doing it it almost feels good. It feel different from being hungry from continually eating less than you body would like. And when I am not fasting I am much less hungry than I used to be before I discovered this.

    1. Happy New Year, Victor! When do you do the fasting? I can’t help thinking it’s probably better to eat a big breakfast and lunch then skip dinner but our society doesn’t work that way with people at work all day. Dinner ends up being the largest meal. I think the fasting diet works because you do end up eating less even though you’re not required to. Your body gets used to being hungry and when you’re allowed to eat you’re suddenly not so interested. I only want to do it for a couple of weeks though – if it works that quickly which it may not.

      1. Sometimes I simply do not eat anything after diner. Sometimes I skip breakfast or diner.

        In summer I often skip a full day, it is what I like most, but then I get cold ears and hands, so that is uncomfortable when it is cold.

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