Not more seafood...!!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

My first weekend back in Nelson was a relaxed affair, as I needed to recuperate after the previous few weeks' travelling! I palled up with Stuart from London and we went to my old haunt at The Shark Club for a pool marathon. Pool is free between 5-7pm, and they have a backpacker deal that gets you 4 pints and a shot for a measly $13. Obviously, we took advantage and were fairly intoxicated by 9pm!

We walked 4km to the beach the next day as the weather was beautiful...again! We were accompanied by Kim, a fun loving girl who liked a drink or three, perhaps best illustrated by the fact that she only got back to the hostel at 8.30am that morning! She looked rough and a bit of sea air did her good, as we just lazed on the beach and chatted...what a life!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and when Monday came around, it was time to start thinking about the dreaded 4-letter word...W-O-R-K! I spoke to Bruce McGregor, the guy at Sealord's who helped me last time, and he arranged an interview and medical for me the next day. He offered me a job working days at the Vickerman Street factory, but I declined as I wanted to work nights at the Tahunanui site. I'd seen enough Hoki to last a lifetime, so even though it meant less pay and a long walk back home, I opted to work at the shellfish factory instead.

My medical was at Vickerman Street the next day at 1.45pm, but it was very quick and easy as I'd had a thorough examination before my last stint there. The interview was similarly brief, although I'll remember that more for the 3 hour return walk rather than any taxing questions asked. I'd underestimated how far it was to Tahunanui, about 6kms, but it was a nice walk alongside the sea so I wasn't too concerned. It's only for 2 weeks afterall...

I started work on the Wednesday, deciding to walk again rather than taking a bus. It's good for the fitness, as I'm planning to do the 2-3 day Banks Peninsula Track before my mum and Stu arrive, and I want to be in good shape for it.

My first job involved standing infront of a conveyor belt with 2 other people, one of whom I knew from Vickerman Street, and putting the mussels into bags until they weighed a certain weight. Sounds easy, but the mussels soon stack up as you are messing about trying to reach your target weight! It was fun though, and the time flew by which is the most important thing. Everyone seemed very welcoming and friendly, and it was nice to be working in a small group as it meant it was easier to get talking to eachother at smokos.

My legs were aching the next day, a result of standing on the same spot for so long...and the walk there and back of course. So I went to the library in the morning and read for a couple of hours, my latest book being a biography of Australian nutcase Mark Brandon Read who amongst other things, cut his ears off for no apparent reason! Very entertaining.

I relaxed at Shortbread Cottage in the early afternoon, talking to Kim for an hour or so in the kitchen. It came as a surprise when my old friend Jacco appeared at the back door, sporting longer hair and a fair bit of stubble. He'd been living in his van for 5 days to save money, and was in Nelson to look for work. I knew he was coming up here at some stage as we keep in touch via text messages, but this was yet another coincidence that is the norm whilst travelling in New Zealand. Unfortunately Shortbread Cottage, being a small hostel, was booked up for the following few days so Jacco had to go elsewhere, but it was nice catching up with him and we'll no doubt meet for a beer sooner rather than later...

In contrast to my first day at work, my second day was soooo long and boring, although it was incredibly easy. For 8 hours, I stood at the end of a different conveyor belt, grading the mussels as they passed by. This just meant that I had to take any lingering pieces of seaweed off the mussels, but as I was at the end, the other people had already successfully done this by the time they reached me. So for hours, I just stared at this sea of flowing mussels, often looking up to see an illusion that the room was moving! The fact that there was a huge clock directly infront of me made the time go even slower. However, I saw it as a test of my mental strength, and I forced myself to think about positive things, the most immediate one being that I had a 3 day weekend to look forward to as a result of Labour Day on Monday. I was especially pleased to discover that I'd be paid for this day off, so it was a timely boost to say the least!

The final day of my admittedly very short working week was great, although it was very hectic as I was on the packing line again. It was reminiscent of my kiwifruit days, as sometimes the speed of the mussel flow would surpass the speed of the box makers, creating more comical scenes where the mussels built up and built up before spilling over the sides!

At first smoko, the supervisors laid on a bit of a feast as a thankyou to the workers - I really had timed this to perfection! There was no alcohol, but I filled up on sausage rolls, chocolate biscuits, coconut buns and orange juice. I may be wrong, but I think this was a result of the previous day's Union meeting, when a couple of the workers made it clear that they were unhappy with the pay they were receiving. It was quite a debate, and I enjoyed sitting there and taking it all in, as it's interesting to get in with the locals and find out what life is like over here. You don't get that if you don't work in these kinds of jobs, so it is definitely a big part of the New Zealand experience in my opinion.

My final surprise came just before 9.30pm, when it emerged that we were finishing for the night. Initially disappointed as I need to earn money, my mood brightened when I was told that we'd still be paid as if we worked until midnight! What a result, and it was nice to get back to the hostel at the reasonable time of 11pm...3 hours earlier than usual.

I got talking to Donna soon after arriving back, a very nice English girl who I would spend a lot of time with the following day. It was all set up to be a great weekend, as Nelson prepared to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar...
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