Term 4 Week 9

As was expected the majority of this week was devoted to cleaning and packing, getting ready to leave on Thursday. We didn’t have an individual timetable this week. We all used the time instead to work on whatever it was that we needed to.


After group meeting on Monday morning I asked to work with Kathi to finalise my C.V. and finish getting together everything I need to send to Monash with the form that I have been working on throughout the term. I had made some small changes to my C.V. over the weekend so Kathi checked those for me and helped me fix up the formatting slightly. Then we put everything together, addressed an envelop and I took it up to reception to post. It was a huge relief to have that finished and sent away. After that I spent the rest of the day cleaning. As I had planned, I devoted all of Sunday to cleaning too. In that time I managed to get a large majority of my room finished and a fair bit of my chore too. On Monday I continued working on it. This term I have the chore of lounge, dining room and wheelchair access bathroom for spring cleaning. I don’t mind this chore as it’s not too bad, especially not when compared to the kitchen that I had last term. On Monday I cleaned out the student fridge, cleaned the windows in both my chore and my room, did some touch ups in my room and spring cleaned the entire bathroom as I hadn’t started on it at all until then.


When choosing a restaurant for our Christmas lunch we came up with two options. The first was Wildfire. The second, the one I suggested, was to go back to the Riverhead Tavern. This is where we had gone in March for my 21st lunch. Jude asked each student to vote for the restaurant they would prefer. Half of the group voted for each restaurant  . So Jude put the vote to the staff. But again, the vote was split half and half. Jude then decided that we would do both. She used the second lunch on Tuesday as an incentive to encourage us to have our chores and rooms mostly spring cleaned by Tuesday. Most years students are given the opportunity to choose an outing from earlier in the year that they enjoyed and would like to revisit. This term we had too many things planned already so we weren’t able to revisit an outing. Going back to Riverhead sort of served this purpose though. Thankfully most of the group were well on their way to being ready to leave on Thursday so we were all able to head up to the Riverhead. For my birthday we took a boat cruise up to the tavern. This time though we were just driving. I had thoroughly enjoyed the meal I had last time there and had been craving the pork ribs ever since. We started lunch with garlic pizza, which we shared between pairs. Then I had the ribs. In my honest opinion I didn’t think they were nearly as good as last time but they were still delicious. For Christmas lunches students are given special dispensation to have a drink with their meal. I chose to have a toblerone cocktail as my dessert. It was also delicious. Then we headed back to Kickstart. It was nice to have a relaxing day on Tuesday after I was so busy cleaning on Sunday and Monday.


Wednesday was another day mostly devoted to cleaning. We were also a part of the Homai end of year concert. This year the theme for the concert was music and books. As we were performing for the students up at the school we decided to perform the Three Bears Rap. We went up for our rehearsal in the morning. Other than that I spent the rest of the day cleaning and packing. After lunch it was time for the concert to begin. We watched the other groups perform. They were all fun and I enjoyed supporting the performers. The audience seemed to enjoy our item too. By the time I went to bed on Wednesday just about everything was sorted ready to leave the next morning.


To begin with on Thursday I took Smooch to the cattery. I was very sad to say goodbye to her as I really love that cat and I know I will miss her heaps. Then I returned to Kickstart to finish off the last-minute things such as vacuuming my floor and cleaning the sink in my room. Then we left for the airport. As expected it was sad to say goodbye to everyone but we promised to keep in touch. It felt quite surreal to be leaving. I can’t believe that my time at Kickstart is over now.


I would like to thank each and every person who has taken the time to read my blog over the past two years. I have enjoyed documenting my time here at Kickstart and I hope that anyone who reads the entries have enjoyed hearing about it. I especially want to thank the people who have read every single entry that I post. The dedication means a lot to me. This will be the last entry that I post. I can’t see any reason to post more after this. I am going to decide some time in the near future if I will keep this blog online or if I will take it down. Either way though, I am going to post my email address here again in case anyone wants to get in touch with me privately. My email is: cassie.embling@gmail.com


Spending two years in the Kickstart programme has truly changed my life. I am a completely different person now when compared to the girl I was when starting as a student here. I know that I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a member of the team. I can say without doubt that 2013-14 have been the best two years of my life. Many laughs were had over the time and some memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life were created. I will miss the staff and students who I have shared some amazing times with and hope to keep in touch with them for years to come. 

I have been fortunate enough to experience a huge array of activities around New Zealand through our Friday outings. Some of the most memorable for me have been climbing the Auckland Harbour Bridge, seeing Stomp perform, meeting Burma the elephant at Auckland Zoo, jet boating, high tea, Hobbiton, seeing a movie in the La Premiere cinema and celebrating my 21st birthday with a river cruise and beautiful lunch among many others. I hope that my contributions to the group, such as getting the tactile tiles installed in the Countdown car park, introducing Swish to Kickstart, modernising the menu planners and others are enjoyed and appreciated for years to come. It seems a fitting way to end this blog by mentioning a short list of things that I can do or have experienced that I never thought I would before coming to Kickstart. Successfully applying mascara, cooking roast meals, mowing the lawn, cooking on a BBQ, serving a 3 course meal, making sushi, polishing my shoes and lighting candles are just a small number of things I can do now. I will leave Kickstart and start the next chapter of my life confidently, competently and happily and for that I say thank you.




Term 4 Week 8

This week is my last full week in the programme and it has been another incredibly busy one. We have started to wind everything up now. I have been doing a lot of things for the last time, including filming, seeing the students from the hostel and more. I have started saying all of my goodbyes, which I never find easy, especially after spending such an amazing two years here. The end of the year is always busy with different events and paperwork. Added to this is the fact that I have been trying to fit in as much as I can before I leave. After this week though our main focus will be cleaning and packing up.


Mondays for me here at Kickstart always seem to be very busy. I don’t really understand why. The day began with the usual group meeting. After that I had an hour to feed the worms. I checked both fridges to find any old vegetables. I cut up some celery and broccoli for the worms and then put all the other vegetables that I found into the compost. Then I soaked the worm buckets. After morning tea I was a part of a course for RTV’s. I had been invited to talk about my experiences with O&M and to explain why I think good O&M is essential. Shiree had invited me to speak at this course as she feels I am a confident independent traveller. I only talked for about twenty minutes or so. In that time I explained how I first hated using my cane. I compared that to these days when it is normal and I feel strange going out without it. I answered their questions too. They seemed to enjoy my talk and I hope that it helped them to gain a better understanding of O&M and its importance. After that I had some spare time. I used the time to wash out the worm buckets, wash my clothes and started working on the minutes from that morning. After lunch I went shopping. This week we are all cooking individual dinners. We won’t be cooking for our kitchens anymore. The rest of the group went to Countdown earlier that morning but as one other student and I had been busy at that time we had been given the afternoon instead. During the weekend I had planned out the meals I was going to make. Some other students prefer to simply buy bits and pieces at the supermarket and then throw meals together from that. I prefer to plan mine out carefully so that I know exactly what I am going to get. Suzannah helped us to find what we needed so we were finished nice and quickly. When we returned to Kickstart I put all my groceries away and then finished working on the minutes and dried the worm buckets. We all needed to bake something for the morning tea that we were putting on on Tuesday. But as most of us didn’t have time in our timetables for it we had to bake after hours. I had decided to make my chocolate caramel slice. Two other students and I were baking at the same time. Two of the other students had been baking earlier too, which definitely made it a challenge. There weren’t many clean dishes around such as the mixing bowls, measuring cups and chopping boards, but we managed. I worked on the dining room table while the other two were in a kitchen each. We all rushed back and forward between the kitchens looking for things from time to time. Other than that though my slice went well. I made the base easily and it turned out nicely once it had been in the oven. While it was cooling I made the filling, which also went well. I was much more prepared this time. I had learnt from last time to make sure that I had everything I needed out and ready before I started. It was especially important when making the filling as I had to keep it moving so that it wouldn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pot. I made sure to have the base ready for the filling to go on top before I put the caramel on the stove. I also had the scraper nearby so that I could get all of the caramel out of the pot. Once the caramel was ready I poured it onto the base and spread it with the scraper. I always struggle to make sure it is even. It is so sticky that it is just about impossible to feel if it is even because it sticks all over my fingers. I was happy enough with it fairly soon after pouring it onto the base so I put it in the fridge and washed my dishes. The downfall to this slice is that it takes so long to set before you can put the topping on. After waiting for the kitchen to be free and struggling to find everything that I needed I hadn’t put the slice in the fridge to start setting until about 7:00. After it was in the fridge I began to cook my dinner. I had originally planned to make a mince pie with vegetables but in the end I decided that would take too long. I cooked up 500g of mince. Then I put half of it in a bowl to keep for the pie another day and used the rest in tortillas. Other than the mince I had lettuce and tomato in the tortillas. They were quite nice and by the time I got around to eating them I was quite hungry. I had planned this meal so that I could use the mince for two different nights and save me from cooking every single night. After that I cleaned my dishes from dinner, did my chore, recorded some of my lines for this term’s film, had a shower and relaxed while I waited for my slice to set. At 10:30 I set to work on the topping. The caramel had worked out quite well. It was mostly even except for one side which seemed to rise up a little. It wasn’t too bad though. The caramel hadn’t stuck up the sides of the tray this time either which I was happy to see. I melted the cremelta and chocolate and poured it over the slice before returning it to the fridge, washing my dishes and heading to bed after a very hectic day.


Tuesday morning was entirely dedicated to the thank you morning tea. Each year Kickstart puts on this morning tea and invites anyone from the school, admin or outside of BLENNZ who have helped us in any way throughout the year. Originally I had wanted to have my slice cut up ready first thing in the morning but by the time the topping had set I was fast asleep. Instead, I cut it Tuesday morning. I used the same techniques as last time including heating the blade up in some water before cutting. It went quite well. Some of my cuts were a little crooked again but I didn’t think they were as bad as last time. I put the slice on two plates and put them on the table ready. Then I washed the dishes I had used and set to work helping out with setting up the morning tea. I put the mini pies on trays ready to go in the oven and then helped to put together the club sandwiches. One other student and I worked with Barbara on this. When I joined them they had already buttered the bread so I helped by spreading egg on them, then putting cheese and lettuce on top. Finally, we put a piece of bread, a slice of ham and a final slice of bread on top. Barbara cut the crusts off the sandwiches and cut them into triangles while the other student and I arranged them on the plates. Before long the guests arrived. It was lovely to see so many people at Kickstart enjoying each other’s company and of course enjoying the food. I had a lovely chat with various staff members. When everyone had left I helped clean up and then relaxed for a while. After lunch I had been given the whole afternoon to start preparing for the Swish tournament. Suzannah, another girl and I went to Manukau City. We bought some keyrings from the $2 shop to give to each player and then we went to Countdown. I had written a list of the things that I wanted. We bought some savouries, sweets, drinks and bits and pieces such as plastic plates and cups as well as boxes of chocolates for the winners. After baking so much food for the thank you morning tea we had decided to simply buy the snacks for the Swish tournament. Then we returned to Kickstart where we put everything away and then I had a massage. For dinner on Tuesday I made chicken schnitzels with roast potatoes, kumara and carrots and some broad beans. I had never tried broad beans before so Jude had given me some and told me how to cook them so that I could try them. The dinner was easy to make, delicious and very filling. Thankfully it didn’t make too many dishes either which was a relief. After dinner on Tuesday I was pretty tired. I had an early night to prepare me for another busy day on Wednesday.


I began Wednesday with an hour to do spring cleaning. I hadn’t started on spring cleaning neither my chore nor my room yet so I was glad to make a start. I have decided that I am going to try and clear as much stuff as I can off my shelves and out of my drawers first before I start cleaning. I plan to keep most of my stuff in my suitcase and live out of it for the last week. That way I won’t need to clean around them. I had a few things in my room that I had borrowed off staff that I returned, including Kathi’s bamboo sushi mats and the list of extensions for the staff on campus that I used when working at reception. I also gave a few of my things to Kickstart including the wrapping paper I bought, my sleeping bag and a blanket that I had as it was easier to give them away rather than take them home. After that I spent an hour with Barbara. The only part of a house that I can think of that I haven’t learnt to clean is carpets. I wanted to spend time with Barbara discussing how to do this. We began by discussing the importance of regularly vacuuming carpet. She explained that this not only gets dirt and other mess out of the carpet but it also disturbs fleas and their eggs if you have pets. Regularly vacuuming carpet also helps to keep the pile up. She told me that most carpets these days are nylon or synthetic. She recommended finding out what sort of carpet I have in my house when I am in my own place and then researching what product to use on it. She told me how to spot clean carpets. Barbara strongly recommended using something to absorb any liquid that is spilt on my carpet first before using the chosen cleaning product on it. Barbara also suggested getting my carpets professionally cleaned around every eighteen months or so. She also told me that the people who clean carpets can also clean the upholstery on couches etc. After this session I spent time with Suzannah making sushi. Making sushi was another thing that I had wanted to attempt while at Kickstart. When shopping on Monday we bought a packet of nori, sushi rice, chicken and avocado. Neither Suzannah or I had made it before so it was certainly a fun experiment. We began by reading the instructions on the sushi rice which told us to soak the rice for thirty minutes and then boil it for twenty. We didn’t have enough time for that so decided to try cooking it for less time instead. We soaked it for five minutes or so before boiling it for about ten. By that time the rice had absorbed all the water. The rice was incredibly sticky. We tipped it out onto a plate to let it cool slightly. In the meantime I used a pastry brush to slightly wet the nori. Kathi had lent me two bamboo mats to use which I was very grateful for. Once the rice was cool enough I wet my hands and began to spread the rice over the nori. A friend had suggested making sure that your hands are wet when dealing with the rice, which was a grate suggestion and definitely helped to stop the rice from sticking to your hands. Once the rice was spread I lined the chicken down the centre of the rice and put a line of avocado next to it. Then I began rolling the mat up. The roll was quite fat in the end and was only just holding together. As we progressed we improved. By the third and forth rolls that I made I was doing a good job. They were smaller, tighter and were holding together much better. I had put less rice in them which helped. I also put the chicken and avocado closer to the edge of the rice rather than down the centre. The other change that we made after the first attempt was placing the nori on the edge of the bamboo mat and rolling it whereas I had originally put the nori in the centre of the mat. Having it on the edge made it much easier to roll and much easier to keep it tight. I used a serrated knife to very carefully slice the sushi. Some pieces looked a little dodgy but towards the end they were looking great and I was really proud of them. I offered sushi around to those people who eat it and then had some for lunch myself. I thought it was really nice although next time I would hope to have more time so that I could cook the rice for a little longer. Some of it had a hard centre. Other than that I was very happy with them. I hadn’t wet the nori too much which I had also been warned about. After lunch I washed all the dishes and then had a session with Kathi. In the session we went over a couple of answers that I had written for questions in the forms that I am completing for the courses at Monash. Then Kathi had a look over my C.V. which I had updated. She made a few slight changes to it and suggested a couple of things for me to add, which I did. Once the C.V. is ready I will be able to print it and include it with the form for Monash. When that is done I will be able to send the form away. After that I had some more time with Barbara. This time we were ironing my shirt again. I did it completely myself this time although Barbara was watching to make sure I was okay. I told her what I was doing as I went. It went well. I found it quite easy and managed to have it all ironed fairly quickly. I was safe and managed to get all the creases out of the shirt. When that was ready I had an hour to organise bits and pieces for the Swish tournament later that night. I was very grateful to the others who also had time in their timetables to help with the preparation. I had written a list of things that needed to be done for myself but I was able to allocate the jobs to the others. With five of us working on the jobs they were done in next to no time. They would have taken me quite a while to do if I had been doing them myself. I was able to organise the score sheet and other bits and pieces while the others set up the room for me and prepared the snacks. It was particularly useful because the computer that I had planned to use for keeping score and following the fixture was freezing. I had to rely on my new laptop instead. I had been worried about that at first because I am not hugely confident with NVDA and the laptop can be slow at times. I put together the score sheet and got a copy of the fixture on there though and it seemed to be working perfectly. After hours I cooked my dinner for that night. As I didn’t have a lot of time the meal worked well. I made a mince pie using some of the mince that I had left over from my tortillas on Monday. I put some pastry on the bottom and around the sides of a small ovenproof dish. Then I filled it up with mince and put a layer of pastry on top. I wasn’t sure how long to cook the pie for so I checked it fairly regularly until the top was crispy. It was very delicious and I was happy with how it turned out. I had just enough time to clean my dishes and get together the last-minute things before it was 6:00 and the tournament was starting. When everyone had arrived and was seated in the meting room I welcomed them all. I briefly went over how the night was going to work and then we got into playing games. I was genuinely very impressed at how everyone played. There were some great games and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I was the umpire for all ten games and I had a staff member watching closely to make sure there were no faults that I missed. I wrote the scores down in my copy of the fixture as well as putting them into an Excel spreadsheet I had put together. I wrote the scores down twice just to be sure. My laptop was holding up perfectly and I was very impressed with it. After the first five games we had a break. We had some savouries to eat and some drinks. Then we finished off the last five games. When all the games were over I added up everyone’s points before joining them for supper. I had chosen to keep score in an Excel spreadsheet so I could quickly use a formulae to calculate each team’s scores. That worked perfectly too. After everyone had had something to eat and a drink I made some more speeches. I made sure to thank everyone for coming, for helping out and for playing. Then I announced the scores. I gave each player one of the keyrings as a token of my appreciation and then I gave the two winners a box of chocolates each. After the guests had left everyone helped with the clean up. It had been a really successful night. I was so glad that it had all worked out so well. My fixture worked perfectly and the timing was just about spot on, which surprised me. Having such a fun and successful night made all the organising and planning worthwhile. Last year we had some sort of social night each term with the students from the hostel. They were usually quiz nights. I had always wanted to help organise one. This year we haven’t had any social things with them. I think organising a Swish tournament was great for me and I preferred doing that rather than a quiz night. Of course, it also helped me to get Swish out there more and to raise awareness of it in the hopes that the Auckland Swish club will be started soon. It was a nice way to end the year and to say goodbye to these students.


Thursday began with some more time to do spring cleaning. Again, I spent most of the time cleaning things out of my room. I have decided to dedicate the majority of Sunday and Monday to cleaning my room and chore thoroughly as I have been too busy lately to make a decent start at it. Then we headed to Nathan Homestead for our last session of filming. I was needed a fair bit this session. As mentioned in a previous entry I am the narrator for this term’s film. I had organised with Hank to record my lines on my phone and email them to him so that he could add them to the final film. The recording came out too quiet though. So on Thursday he recorded all of my lines on his iPod so that it was clearer. I also had a small part to play on camera, so we also filmed that. I enjoyed the session. I have been told by students who have been going to filming longer than I have that often films don’t come together until the last minute. Last term’s film, the talent show, was a clear idea from the start of the term and, for the most part, we knew where we were headed. This film has been completely different though. It was a very vague idea for the first few weeks. Since then it has grown each week. This week it seemed to come together quite well. There are a few scenes that Hank will film next week but us students from Kickstart aren’t able to be there as it is our travel day. That is why we worked fairly solidly this week to film what we needed to before we left. Once again, I look forward to seeing the final product. After lunch I spent time with Jude. She had requested some time with me specifically to work on the Kickstart iPad. Jude wanted to learn how to enter recipes into the calendar as we have been doing this term for our menu planner so that she would be able to teach any students who needed to learn next year. I walked her through doing that and she took notes, although she was pretty confident with it in the end. Then we had a group session. After hours I spent a little bit more time with Jude showing her how to use the iGrill bluetooth thermometer and its app again so she could teach students in the future. We were both relieved to have had this time together before I finish in the programme. For dinner that night I had ginger chicken kebabs, rice, carrots and broccoli. I had cut up the chicken and left it in the fridge to marinade at lunchtime. That meant that all I had to do after hours was thread the chicken onto the skewers, put it in the oven and make the rice and vegetables. It was easy. Unfortunately I had a mishap with the rice. For some reason it didn’t cook properly so in the end another student ended up giving me one of the pita breads so I ate that with the chicken instead.


Friday was our last Friday outing, which was kind of sad. The day began with swimming. Suzannah gave us the choice of what we wanted to do so we voted for what we had been doing previously. We were given the choice of doing only lengths or doing less lengths but other exercises in between. Once again I chose to do the lengths with exercises in between. After I did about fifteen or so lengths we did a couple of fun team activities and then we had a few minutes of free time in the pool. Then we had some time to get ready. We were going out for lunch which is usually what we do on the last outing of the year. We were going to Wildfire which is on the waterfront. It is a buffet restaurant that works slightly differently. It is hugely based around meat. The servers come to your table with all sorts of meat and offer it to you. Each table has a sign on it. When the green side of the sign is showing the servers will continue to come around and offer you food. If the red side is showing they won’t bother you. The food was absolutely delicious. It was cooked on a rotisserie and was marinated in some delicious flavours. I piled my plate with potatoes, salad and of course meat before we turned our sign to red to give us time to eat. At that stage my plate was so full that I was glad to have some time to empty it before I was offered more. Altogether I tried the New Zealand lamb, chicken, beef, pork sausage, a calamari ring, spicy pork and sirloin. I managed to try everything that I wanted although I was so full at the end. Although this restaurant was still all you can eat I found it much easier than a buffet because they brought the food to you and you didn’t need to go up to serve yourself all the time. Most of the meat was brought to the table on a skewer. If you wanted some you would grab some meat with your pair of tongs and then the server would carve it for you. Some of the meat was already carved and was simply put on your plate though. All of the staff at Wildfire were lovely and very accommodating. They helped us to use our tongs to grab some meat when needed. I also managed to squeeze in a hot chocolate at the end as two of the other students were saying that it was the best hot chocolate they had ever had. It was a really lovely Christmas lunch and a really nice way to spend our last Friday together. After that we all returned to Kickstart with completely full stomachs.


Until next time.



Term 4 Week 7

This week was full of challenges for me. I had been anxious leading up to the week and was very glad once the weekend had arrived.


On Monday I wasn’t at Kickstart as I was flying back from Melbourne.


I began Tuesday by talking to one of the RTV’s who is based at Homai about Swish and my involvement with sport in general. She is putting together a presentation about children with vision impairments and barriers to sport. I talked to her for a short while and she filmed me as I’m not able to be a part of her presentation on the day. After morning tea I practiced ironing some more with Barbara. I had brought a different shirt from home specifically to practice on. We checked the tag on the shirt to see how to iron it. Then we set everything up. I needed to use a warm iron so Barbara explained to me that that meant the steam function wouldn’t work. That made sense. Once everything was ready we got to work. I laid the shirt out on the ironing board and started with the collar. That was easy. Then I moved onto the back. The shirt that I had chosen had lines in the fabric so I found it slightly hard to feel when there were creases. The creases came out easily though. Then Barbara showed me how to iron the sleeves. I made sure they were flat and straight before turning the shirt over and ironing the other side of the sleeve. I decided to iron a crease into the sleeve simply so that I would know how to do it. I had to be extra careful then to make sure it was perfectly straight and that I wouldn’t accidentally iron a crease into the shirt that I didn’t want. Barbara explained to me that the crease needed to be sharp so that it looked smart. I ironed along the crease with a finger in front of the iron to make sure I was keeping the material flat. Then I did the same to the other sleeve. Once the second sleeve was done I ironed the front of the shirt. Each time I moved the shirt around I needed to let it hang down and be careful not to crumple it. Again I pushed the material around with my other hand before ironing to make sure it was flat. I was also careful of the buttons. Overall I found it easy although Barbara and I planned to have one more session ironing the same shirt. After lunch I had a session with Jude. We talked about a couple of things regarding the Swish tournament, particularly prizes and food, which I have organised to go and buy next week.


The entire of Wednesday was devoted to helping at a junior disability sports day run by the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation. I was invited to showcase Swish. This had been another thing that I was nervous about this week. Halberg picked up our Swish table on Tuesday afternoon and had it there ready for us. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Jude and Suzannah came with three other Kickstart students and I. Two of the other girls helped out with Goalball and blind cricket while the other student from Kickstart helped me with Swish. The day was broken up into brackets. Different sports were showcased in each bracket. Swish was in the second one. When we got there we set up the table and the four of us had a game. That got the attention of others who were passing by so we managed to get some of the students to play. Then it was time for the second bracket. The table was moved into the hall. It had been organised so that a group of sixteen students would come and play Swish in that second bracket but in the end that’s not how it worked. There were other sports in the same area so in the end a whole bunch of students circulated around the different sports. It was impossible to teach them the rules when there were so many students and they were always changing so instead they simply hit the ball back and forward on the table. At first I found it extremely difficult to know who was at the table, when they were changing players and if there was anyone waiting for a game. I was quite flustered about this, especially when a lady asked for someone to start directing Swish so that it was a bit more organised. Then Jude stood nearby and helped me to keep track of everyone which made me feel much better. I had a lot of positive feedback about Swish and all of the students seemed to enjoy themselves. Some parents even commented that they might try and modify a table tennis table so that their child can play at home, which was lovely to hear. To finish off we had a sausage for lunch before returning to Kickstart for the rest of the afternoon. Even though I hadn’t done anything other than stand around most of the morning I found it quite tiring. I enjoyed having the opportunity to get Swish out there a bit more and enjoyed seeing all the students having such a great time. I spent the rest of the afternoon getting bits and pieces done. Our Swish training for that afternoon was postponed as the table wasn’t back from the disability sports day yet.


Thursday brought the biggest challenge for the week for me and the one that I had been most nervous about. It was my O&M drop off. Shiree and her husband picked me up from Kickstart at 7:30. They drove me to an undisclosed location and dropped me off. Then Shiree and her husband disappeared leaving me to find my way back to Kickstart. I was incredibly thankful for GPS. I used it to firstly find out where I was. I discovered that I was in New Lynn, which is in west Auckland. One reason I had been so nervous about this challenge was because I don’t know Auckland all that well. I was worried that I would be dropped off in a place that I had never heard of so that I would have no bearings whatsoever. Luckily for me, I knew where New Lynn was, roughly. I had never been there before but I did know that it had a train station. So I used Google Maps to get directions to the station. It showed me a route to get there using public transport and directions to walk. I checked the walking directions first and decided that it seemed easy to follow. I don’t usually like buses too much, it wasn’t far to walk and walking wouldn’t take much longer than catching a bus would anyway. I wondered if catching a bus would be better because, in theory, it would drop me right at the station whereas walking can be a little confusing at times. I made sure that I wouldn’t need to cross a motorway or anything terrible before making my decision. I needed to make several uncontrolled crossings to get to the station as well as controlled ones. I used two apps for the challenge which I had discovered worked well in conjunction with each other. In the background I had Blind Square which regularly updated me with my location as well as pointing out points of interest along the way. I found that particularly useful as it told me when there were shops and cafes around me in case I needed to find someone to ask for help. I didn’t need any help though until I was close to the station. The directions that the GPS told me were quite confusing. I asked a lady who walked passed to give me directions to the station and she ended up guiding me right to the platform that I needed. Then I was easily able to board a train to Britomart and find a southern train from there to bring me back to Homai. I got back to Kickstart at 10:30 which meant it only took me three hours in total, which included being driven to the unknown location. I had been given six hours to complete the challenge so I was proud of that. When I got back to Homai Shiree and I talked over it. She said that I had done well. I told her that I had been expecting it to be much harder than it was. I had thought that she would take me somewhere much further away from a station. She said that it could have been a lot harder than it was if I didn’t have my GPS. I agreed. I would have had to use other clues and  ask for a lot more help from people who walked passed me. I was very grateful that I had my GPS but I am sure that I still could have found my way without it. When I told Shiree that I found it too easy she offered to take me to another place further from a station for more of a challenge. She also offered to let me take on another similar challenge without using my GPS as it is not always guaranteed to work. I refused her offer even though I was tempted to challenge myself further. Shiree agreed with me as she had already seen that I had the skills that I would need should I ever be in that sort of situation. I was incredibly happy and grateful that I had completed that challenge. It also meant that I had finished another one of my goals for this semester. Shiree and I saw completing this goal as my graduation from O&M. I was excited about that and definitely feel that I am prepared for my next O&M challenge, that being getting a guide dog. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on this entry and doing other bits and pieces. To finish off the day we had a group session. After hours we had our Swish training session for this week. Three out of the five teams for the tournament were there so they played some games together to practice. I thought it went well and was happy to see the teams communicating and helping each other out where they could.


Friday was a nice day. We drove out to Pokeno where we were going on a river cruise down the Waikato River. We needed to be split into two groups. I was in the first group. Before we left on our cruise though they supplied us with morning tea which was lovely. Then myself, two other students and two staff members climbed onto the boat. The cruise took an hour in total. As we went the skipper told us some information about where we were, its history and what sorts of things were around us on the banks. It was a lovely and relaxing hour. When we got back the second group left for their cruise. While they were cruising we waited onboard the other boat that the company owns. It is a much larger luxury boat that can be hired out for day trips, functions or overnight trips. We sat in the lounge which was very comfortable. When the other group arrived back we all drove up to the redoubt nearby where we ate lunch. On the way back to Kickstart we stopped to have an ice cream at the famous ice cream shop in Pokeno. They are cheap, give you big scoops and have a huge selection of flavours to choose from. I always love having an ice cream from Pokeno so it was a lovely way to end a nice day out.


Until next time.



Term 4 Week 6

This week has been quite productive. I am starting to work towards finishing my time in the programme so I am trying to fit as much as possible into the last four weeks while I can.


After group meeting on Monday morning I went to the Blind Foundation. They wanted to see if there was anything that they could help me with for next year. As I have everything sorted for myself though the meeting was very short. When I got back to Kickstart I went down to Countdown with Suzannah. No one had been available Monday morning to go shopping so they had asked me to shop online. It was the first time I had done it this term. I placed the order on Sunday so therefore did the entire thing independently. It went well and I found it easy, as expected. I had tried to get it delivered first thing Monday morning this time rather than on Tuesday like I used to. But by the time I placed the order the first delivery window had closed and I could only get it delivered between 1:00 and 4:00. As two of the students were cooking after lunch I needed to go to Countdown to pick up the ingredients that they needed for that day in case the delivery didn’t arrive until it was too late. Thankfully I had realised this issue before placing the order on Sunday. After talking it over with Jude we decided that I would have time to go to Countdown in the morning. That meant that I had to delete some of the things in the trolley last-minute and change the quantities of some items. I was slightly paranoid that I had made a mistake while doing this. There was only one thing that I ended up forgetting and it wasn’t anything major. We picked up the few things and then returned to Kickstart to work on the meeting minutes from that morning. After lunch I worked on my end of year evaluation and then I had a session with Jude. It was a productive session. We talked about how to apply for a flat, table etiquette, the Swish tournament I am organising and a few other bits and pieces. To finish off the day I went to the gym. I started at the gym by walking for twenty-five minutes. Then I decided to run to see how I went this time. I was able to run for five minutes without my knee hurting at all, which I was very happy about. After the five minutes I stopped though but I looked forward to trying to run for a longer time again on Tuesday. After hours the shopping arrived. Nearly everything was delivered that I ordered. They had rung me up earlier in the day to tell me about two products they didn’t have in stock. One of which was cat food which they simply replaced with a different flavour. The other was sausage meat which we couldn’t think of a substitute for so they simply left it out. Once I had unpacked and put away all of the shopping I realised that they had forgotten the icing sugar, which wasn’t a major.


Tuesday was a particularly productive day. I spent two hours in the morning working solidly on my end of year evaluation. I made great progress in the time which was a relief. Then I had time to cook another BBQ for everyone for lunch. Last time I had cooked a BBQ we ate it for lunch but still had a meal for dinner as well. This time we had decided to have the BBQ as our main meal for the day and then we would simply organise our own thing for dinner that night. As a result the girl who cooks on Tuesdays for the blue kitchen agreed to help me out. While I prepared the bread and cooked the sausages and onion on the BBQ she made two salads and mixed some cordial to drink. I remembered from last time to stab the sausages to begin with to allow the fat to come out. I set up the BBQ myself this time with Suzannah’s guidance including removing its cover, putting up the sides and connecting the gas bottle. I remembered how to light it too. Once the BBQ was hot enough I cooked the first eight sausages. While they were cooking I buttered some bread ready for lunch. Suzannah told me when they were ready and I transferred them over to the grill on the other side to keep them warm. Then I cooked the next eight. I felt really comfortable with the BBQ this time and feel that I would be able to cook on one in the future myself. Once the final four sausages were cooking I put the onion onto the plate as well. I had never cooked onion like this before. I had sliced them into rings. I pushed the centre of the onion to separate the rings when putting them on to cook. I found the onions quite hard to cook as I couldn’t feel them with the tongs. That meant that I couldn’t really tell where they were. Once they were ready I put the onions into a bowl. The only way I could tell when I had taken them all off was when the sizzling stopped. I was also, at times, able to see pieces of onion on the plate but I couldn’t rely on that vision. I then put the sausages and onion on the picnic table outside. By this stage others from the group had brought down plates and glasses to use. The salad appeared soon after with the drinks. We all sat outside and enjoyed a lovely lunch together. I loved the experience and certainly appreciated everyone’s input to make it run smoothly. Not only did everyone help to carry things downstairs but also to take them upstairs again once we had finished. I put most of the dishes in the dishwasher with the help of another student and then before we knew it everything was done. Then I went downstairs to clean and put away the BBQ. I remembered how to clean it from last time. I hadn’t put it away last time though so Kathi showed me how to put the sides back down, how to disconnect the gas bottle and then helped me to put the cover over it again. Kathi also helped me to roll it back into the shed. Then I spent an hour with Barbara discussing financial things including mortgages, hire purchase and more. I learnt a fair bit in the session including what easy finance is, what to look out for when getting something on hire purchase and some of the rights that you have when hiring something. It was a useful session and will help me to be more aware of things to look out for in the future. To finish off the day I went to the gym. This time I managed to run for ten minutes before I was tired. My knee didn’t hurt at all again so that made me extremely happy. I am a little disappointed although not surprised to realise how far backwards I have gone with my running since the end of last term. As Suzannah said though, it shouldn’t take me too long to get back to that stage. I am going to try my best to improve again in the time that I still have here at Kickstart.


Wednesday was another productive day for me. I began with more time to work on my end of year evaluation. I managed to finish it in that time. After that Suzannah and I were going into town. As I will be in New Zealand for the upcoming Victorian state election I needed to find a way that I could vote. After doing some research I discovered that I needed to go to the Australian Consulate-General’s office. When we got there we needed to go through a security check. Then the lady gave me my ballot papers. I filled in my preferences with Suzannah’s help and then we headed back to Kickstart. This was only the second election I have voted in. I found it an interesting experience voting overseas. In the federal election last year I was able to vote over the phone but they didn’t have that option for this one. Hopefully in the future they will always have phone voting available. It was a very posh building and Suzannah and I had fun trying to find our way around it. When I got back to Kickstart I ate a quick lunch. We had been timetabled in for a group O&M session in the afternoon but it had been cancelled. That left us with time to work on any bits and pieces that we needed to. After that I went to the gym. I only managed to run for five minutes this time but I felt good doing it. I wanted to get back to Kickstart to set up for our Swish training. It went quite well. We began by allocating teams for the tournament. I had Brailled the names of the five Kickstart students on pieces of paper that I put in a hat. Then each of the hostel students pulled a name out. I felt that that was the fairest way of choosing the teams. After that some of the teams were able to play together to practice. I am going to ask all of the Kickstart students to join us for our last session next week so that every team will hopefully be able to practice together. I also showed some of the students how to receive a serve as I had noticed they were often holding their bats on angles that meant they would most often miss the ball. Overall, I think it was a good session and I was feeling quite positive after it. Everyone played well and they all seemed to be improving since our first few sessions.


Thursday morning began with some more time to work on my evaluation. Seeing as I had finished it already I used the time instead to write this entry. Then we went to filming. This week I worked with the other Kickstart students to do some more of the writing. I volunteered to be the narrator for the film this term. As no one else volunteered for that role I got the job. As I am only going to be at one more session though I organised with Hank to record my lines at home and email them to him. I am glad that I am still able to be a part of the film after missing a few sessions this term. This week Hank also handed out a DVD of last term’s film. I watched it when I got back to Kickstart. I thought it was great and I was impressed. The video has also been uploaded to Youtube so I will include the link later in this entry. After lunch I had some time to mow the lawns again. I had been looking forward to this. Last time we spent the majority of the session talking about the mower itself so I only got the chance to mow a small patch of the lawn. I remembered most of what I was taught last time including how to make the mower either lower or higher and how to start it. I mowed most of the backyard and only missed a couple of patches here and there. At first I mowed without anything to guide me but then we trialed having stakes in the ground with some string going between them. I was able to follow the string with one hand while pushing the mower with the other. It helped keep me straight. As I went Jude moved the stakes for me so that I could cover the whole backyard. I emptied the mower three or four times as I went. I was surprised to see how quickly it filled up. Following the string worked quite well. I was proud of my effort. Then the other student who usually mows the lawns took over to finish off for me. In the future I will probably still ask someone to mow my lawns for me but at least I have had a good go at it for myself now. I really do appreciate that Kickstart gives us the opportunity to try things like this. To finish off the day we had a group session. I am going to Melbourne for the weekend leaving Friday night and returning Monday night. As a result I have had to be very organised this week and think ahead. I needed to make sure my menus were in the iPad so the shoppers for next week can write the list, make sure my end of year evaluation was handed in before I left as the due date is Monday and I won’t be here and so on. This has meant that I have been fairly busy throughout the week, especially after hours, but the weekend at home will definitely be worth it. One part of being organised was that I needed to cook the meal for my kitchen on Saturday in advance. I didn’t have any timetabled time for this as I usually cook on weekends so I cooked it after hours on Thursday and put it in the fridge for them. I will be able to leave on Friday knowing that all the jobs I needed to do are done for the weekend.


Friday’s outing was made up of two parts. First of all we were going jet boating. We had tried to go jet boating earlier in the year but the boat had some mechanical issues so the outing was postponed. I had been jet boating myself once before and really enjoyed it so I had been looking forward to this. It was definitely not a let down. After we all got dressed up in our wet weather jackets and life jackets we climbed on the boat. I was sitting in the front on the very right outside edge. I got quite wet which I loved. We did several 360 degree spins which made huge splashes of water come into the boat. I also loved going up and down over the waves while we were moving fast. It was exhilarating and a lot of fun. As usual, we laughed screamed and yahooed the whole time. While we were out in the harbour the skipper told us a lot of interesting facts. A couple that I found particularly memorable is that luxury boats and ships average out to cost about one million dollars per metre. I also learnt that the population of Auckland is 1.5 million people, approximately 47% of these people own a boat of some sort. After jet boating we drove to St Luke’s mall where we had lunch. Then we went to self defence. We had the first of two sessions of self defence last term but a miscommunication meant that our second one also had to be postponed. We covered some of what he had learnt in our last session which refreshed our memories before moving onto some new things. I was very relieved that we didn’t do too many violent things this time like we had last time, including gripping and squeezing the windpipe. We covered a lot in the session which became a little jumbled in my head because of the huge amount of new information he was giving us. After self defence we headed back to Kickstart and I began getting ready to leave for the airport.


Here is the link to the video on Youtube that we put together last term at filming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqQp8H25ayM


Until next time.



Term 4 Week 5

This week was quite busy and at times stressful, but it was finished off beautifully on Friday.


Monday was an easy day for me. After group meeting we went shopping. As we had arrived back from our end of year trip late on Friday we hadn’t been given our timetables over the weekend. Consequently, none of us knew who would be going shopping on Monday. I had decided to write the green kitchen’s shopping list on Sunday regardless. My reasoning was that even if I wasn’t shopping for green I could email it to the person who was. As it turned out, I was shopping for the others instead. I emailed my list for green kitchen to the shopper and then wrote the others list after group meeting. I was grateful that we had been given extra time to shop this week. That meant I had time in the morning to write the others list and didn’t have to rush. Thankfully, the others list didn’t take me long though as then I needed to help the third shopper with his list as he isn’t comfortable using the iPad yet. When all three lists were ready we left. Suzannah offered to shop with me but I said that I would go with a CSR in order to be independent. Plus, last time I went shopping I shopped with Suzannah. The CSR was busy at the time though and was taking some time to become available. So in the end I asked Suzannah to work with me anyway. We had quite a few items to buy this week but I managed to stay just below budget. After unpacking the shopping back at Kickstart I began writing my end of year evaluation. I can’t believe it is already time to write them again. They are due in two weeks, but I am going to be away in Melbourne the weekend before they are due. In the past when I have had end of term evaluations due I don’t start working on them early enough. That means that I end up cramming them in and rushing to have them finished on time. I am determined not to do that this term. My goal was to try and write about two goals each day this week, and then my key competencies and favourite outings during the weekend. That means that I will have the entire week next week to finish it off. Then, I can submit it early before I fly home to Melbourne. After lunch I had been given the afternoon to help one of the other girls. She had asked for my help to prepare a roast pork for her kitchen. I was excited about the challenge but confident seeing as I had mastered it independently for my goal. Like me, she was comfortable to make the roast vegetables and gravy herself and only needed my help with the meat. I told her how to prepare it so that it crackled and then taught her how to use the thermometer. I was able to catch up on a couple of things while it was cooking, which I was grateful for. Once the pork was ready to be served I taught her how to remove the crackling. I had suggested that she use the electric knife as I had found it so much easier. I wasn’t comfortable however in teaching her to use it without a staff member around. Thankfully Barbara was available and stood by to watch. I taught her how to set up the knife and the basics of how to use it safely, including making sure the chord was out of the way. Barbara helped her to cut nice thin slices. It was a successful afternoon and I enjoyed working with her.


Tuesday began with some more time to write my end of year evaluation. Then I had an hour to update the recipe collection. I had requested this time in my weekly goals as I had hoped to be able to work with Suzannah. I wanted to get as many of Kickstart’s recipes that aren’t electronic yet typed up before I leave. When Barbara was writing the timetable for this week though we didn’t know that Suzannah was going to be a staff member with us until the rest of the year. So instead, I used the time by finding any of the Kickstart recipes that I had collected that weren’t electronic yet. I used an app on my iPhone called KNFB reader which I have recently bought. The KNFB reader is an OCR app which has been designed for blind users. It has built in features that help make sure a clear photo of the text is taken. These features include tilt guidance which makes your phone vibrate if you are not holding it straight. Another feature that I love gives you a field of view report. The app takes a photo of the text and lets you know if the text is on an angle and if it can see all four edges of the page. These features together help blind people to take great photos to optimise the results that the app achieves. If you take a good photo the text recognition is amazing. The app is quite expensive but I did some thorough research into it before I decided to spend over $100 on it. I decided that it was worth the money though and am definitely not regretting it. After I had sorted through my recipe folder Barbara took the recipes and promised to have them typed up for me as soon as she could. After morning tea I was lucky enough to be invited to a local primary school to be a part of their junior school assembly. One other student and I were invited to talk about being blind, in particular Braille. We had borrowed several Braille books from the Homai library which also had great tactile pictures in them. We began by talking about our canes and then I read them the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After that we showed the students how we write Braille and she finished off the visit with a song. I loved being a part of it and seeing all the children. They all seemed interested and I certainly found it fun reading to them. We left each class with one of the tactile books so that the students could have a closer look at the pictures and Braille. There were roughly 150 students there but I found it quite easy to talk to them all. Before we left they presented us with a gift to say thank you, which I thought was truly lovely. When we returned to Kickstart I had a quick lunch before starting to prepare my kitchen’s meal. I was making chicken schnitzels with potato salad, corn and carrots. I used chicken breasts. I put them on the board and covered them with glad wrap to make sure they didn’t make a mess. Then I flattened them slightly with a rolling pin. In three separate bowls I put flour, egg and breadcrumbs. I also put some lemon pepper with the breadcrumbs to give them some flavour. I dipped the chicken into each bowl before putting them on a tray. Originally I had thought that I would fry them but had changed my mind because I thought baking them in the oven would be much easier. When I put them into the oven I tried to use the thermometer but I couldn’t get it to work this time for some reason. I had been hoping to try it with different things other than a roast. While they were cooking I worked on the potato salad. Rather than using a dressing from a bottle I was going to try and follow a friend’s recipe to make my own. I cut up some potatoes and boiled them. In the meantime I mixed together some garlic and mayonnaise. I cheated a little bit here. I was supposed to add some fresh mint to the mixture but I was running out of time. I had also been told to put the mayonnaise, garlic, mint, salt and pepper into a blender but I ended up mixing it together with a spoon. When the potatoes were ready I drained them and then added them to the bowl, tossing it all to cover the potatoes. Finally, I cooked up some bacon which I cut into small pieces and mixed through the salad. I thought it tasted nice but it wasn’t the same as my friend’s potato salad. At the time I put the schnitzels and potato salad in the fridge and went to the gym. That night I cooked the corn and carrots. I mixed a little bit of honey in with the carrots for a change, but I couldn’t taste it in the end. Everything was nice and I thought it turned out well, much better than I had been expecting. The schnitzels were nice although next time I think I would like to try and make them thinner. I got some nice feedback from my kitchen which is always a relief.


Wednesday morning began with time to choose my menus for next week, but again I did them the day before so that I wouldn’t waste time waiting for the iPad. Instead, I began working on my chocolate caramel slice. I was making it independently this time, which I was looking forward to although I was a little nervous too. I was making it for the Blundell morning tea on Friday, which was another reason I was nervous about making it. I made the base easily. Last time I had pressed it into the tray using only my fingers. This time I used the base of a glass to make it flat, which seemed to work well. Once the base was out of the oven I set to work on the filling while it cooled. I put the butter in the pot and then measured the cremelta. Finally, I tipped the can of sweetened condensed milk into the pot. It was then that I realised my mistake. Without thinking, I had put the cremelta in with the filling when it was supposed to be with the chocolate for the top. Thankfully, I hadn’t started melting it yet and the pieces of cremelta were quite big. I was able to get them out of the pot and salvage most of the condensed milk that was stuck to it. I couldn’t believe my silly mistake. I then measured the golden syrup into the pot and set to work melting it. I used a whisk to combine it. Once it was ready I poured it onto the base. I had hoped that keeping it on the heat for a little longer than I did last time would make it runnier and easier to manipulate, but that didn’t work. I used a scraper to get all of the caramel out of the pot and then to flatten it out. I found this challenging, particularly as the caramel was so thick and sticky. When I was finally happy with it I wiped the edge of the tray with a paper towel, as some of the caramel had stuck to it and I didn’t want it to burn or stick once it had been in the oven. Then I put it in the oven and set to work cleaning my dishes. When it was ready I took it out of the oven and let it cool on the bench while I finished my dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Then I put the slice in the fridge to set for four hours. I used the rest of the morning to work on my end of year evaluation. When I checked my slice in the fridge I was a little disappointed to see that it wasn’t very flat. One corner in particular was sunken down further than the others. I hoped that this wouldn’t affect the chocolate on top too much and that you wouldn’t be able to see the mistake once it was all cut up. After lunch we had a quick group meeting and then I had some time to prepare the chocolate for the top of the slice. I measured out the cremelta and cooking chocolate and put them into a metal bowl. I sat the bowl inside a pot of water which I put on the stove. They melted easily and I was able to feel with my spoon once all the lumps had disappeared. Then I poured it over the slice. Like last time, the chocolate was nice and runny so it spread itself easily. I used a scraper to push the chocolate to the sides and the corners in the hope that it would all be covered nicely, even with the slight dips in it here and there. Then I put it back in the fridge to set and washed my dishes before I went to the gym. I was able to run for about three minutes before my knee started hurting, which is still far from ideal but better than the last time I tried. After hours the hostel students came to Kickstart to practice Swish. It seemed to go quite well this week. We talked briefly about a day to hold the tournament so my goal for this coming week is to start organising it in terms of the times, choosing teams and the food and drinks that we will provide. After hours I cut up my slice, completely independently. The chocolate had completely covered the top of the slice this time, which I was definitely relieved about. It was even better than the last one I had made. I think I did quite well overall when cutting it although some of my cuts were crooked again. I used the smaller sharp knife to begin with like we discovered was easiest last time. Then I changed to a butter knife to go around the edges and to make sure the cuts had completely gone through the base. I was sure to put both knives into the warm water before cutting too as I found that made a big difference last time. I managed to get sixteen relatively even squares out of it. None of them crumbled when I took them out of the tray which was a relief. Overall I was happy with the squares and felt proud to offer them at the Blundell morning tea.


Thursday was a nice and relaxing day for me. Two other students and I went into town to the Town Hall to see the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) rehearse. Blind people from Auckland had been invited to sit in on this rehearsal and to get to speak to some of the musicians and touch some of the instruments during their break. When we first got there we were given the opportunity to ask the CEO of the APO any questions that we had. She told us that for the Nutcraker Suite, which was what they were rehearsing for a concert that night, they had around eighty musicians in the orchestra including approximately twenty-eight violins. I found that fascinating. Then I talked to a violinist, French horn player and a double base player. I was also able to touch the violin and French horn and see a double base case. I was particularly interested in touching the French horn as I had never seen one before. Then we went in to see the orchestra rehearsing for half an hour or so. We were sitting in the centre at the front, right behind the conductor. I had never seen such a large orchestra live before and the sound was just amazing. After the rehearsal we left. The three of us had been challenged to find our way from Kickstart to the Town Hall ourselves. Luckily, I knew roughly where it was. I also had my GPS up and running to give me confirmation of when we were close. We found our way there well. We bumped into a couple of the other people who were attending the rehearsal and together we looked for the right door. Then a couple of friendly sighted people found us all and took us to the right place. On the way back we stopped for lunch. At times when we were walking the others said that they were disorientated and not sure where they were. I told them to trust me as I am confident in that area. I was always sure to communicate with them too. I told them what streets we were coming up to, if we were going to cross them or turn the corner and what side of the road we would be walking on. I hoped that that helped reassure them if they were nervous. As we were walking I always made sure the other two were still with me, especially when it was quite busy. I made sure I could hear their canes at all times and when I couldn’t I looked around to check where they were.


Friday was a busy and exciting day. It was the Blundell award ceremony. When the staff arrived at 8:00 I helped out with the setup. I cut some cheese and set up some platters as well as helping to set the table. At 9:00 I had a meeting but I made sure that I had done all I could to help out before I left. After my meeting I had some time to get changed. I managed to do my make up perfectly and independently the first time, without a single mistake which I was very happy about, particularly the mascara and lipstick. When I was ready I went up to reception to meet Sally and Richard. I had been asked to do this as I had won the award last year. When Sally and Richard arrived I presented Sally with a posy of flowers and Richard with a buttonhole. Then I lead the group down to Kickstart. It was a lovely ceremony and I congratulate the two recipients of the award, in my opinion it was well deserved on both parts. Afterwards, we briefly showed Sally, Richard and the chair of the Board of Trustees the game of Swish before heading upstairs for morning tea. I helped out by making cups of coffee and making sure the guests had something to eat before chatting to the other guests. It was a really lovely morning and I enjoyed mingling with everyone. My chocolate caramel slice was on the table and it seemed to disappear quite fast, which I was very happy about. I managed to grab myself a piece and I was definitely happy with it. A lot of the guests gave me good feedback about the slice too. After the guests had left I helped to tidy up the house before relaxing for an hour or so. We were going out that afternoon to celebrate in style. We were indulging in high tea. I had been looking forward to experiencing high tea since the start of the year when the idea first came up. It was the outing that I had written the risk management for much earlier in the year. I also liked the idea that we were going out while we were all still dressed up and to celebrate the recipients of the Blundell award. We drove into town to the Langham Hotel, which is very fancy. The high tea was lovely. I began with a dark hot chocolate as I was unsure about any of the teas. It was delicious and I was glad I chose it. Then they brought out an array of savouries, sandwiches and sweets on a lovely tiered stand. There was one stand between each pair on the table, you shared with the person sitting opposite you. I was a little nervous about trying some of the food at first. In the end though I ate everything that I was given, including the salmon which I don’t usually like. I was glad that I had tried everything even though I was worried about some of it at first, because I enjoyed most of it. It was delicious and presented so beautifully. I loved the shape of some of the food, in particular the sandwiches that were shaped like a handbag and a t-shirt. When we had finished the food on our stands they brought out scones for us with butter and a couple of different jams. By this stage I was very full and could only eat half of one scone. Another student shared his ice tea with me and then some of his mango tea too. I was very grateful for that as I had wanted to try both an ice tea and one of the herbal teas, but had been too sceptical as mentioned. I enjoyed them both. The staff at the Langham were all so lovely. I loved being able to experience such a classy afternoon tea, our BLENNZ van was even valet parked!


Until next time.



Term 4 Week 4

We spent the entire of week 4 away on our end of year trip in Wellington and Christchurch. It was a great week full of fun, new experiences and challenges. I had been looking forward to this trip for quite some time so I was definitely excited that the time had finally arrived.


Monday morning we all finished doing the last-minute things before we could leave, such as freezing any milk or bananas that were left over, making sure power points were switched off, emptying the rubbish bins and getting rid of any food that was in the fridges. I had booked a taxi van to take us to the airport at 8:30. Everyone was ready and waiting for the taxi on time, which was a relief. Checking in at the airport and boarding the plane all went very smoothly, as did the flight. In next to no time we were touching down in Wellington. I had never been to this city before and was definitely looking forward to exploring. After we had collected our bags we were driven to our accommodation in a shuttle. We had a little bit of time to put our things in our rooms before we set out again. WE walked along the Wellington waterfront to Parliament House, stopping to eat lunch on the way. We had a tour around Parliament, which is commonly known as the Beehive because of the shape of the building. Until then, I knew very little about the New Zealand parliamentary system. I found it interesting to compare it to the Australian one. One large difference between the two that I learnt is that New Zealand only has one house of parliament whereas Australia has two. One standout highlight for me was that our group had been granted special permission from the speaker of the house to touch the seats and benches where the members of parliament sit. Normally, guests are strictly forbidden from this. AS we were leaving Parliament John Key (the current New Zealand Prime Minister) walked past us, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to see or hear him. This tour was a great way to start off the trip. We walked back along the waterfront and stopped at Te Papa for a short time. In the museum we found some interactive and tactile exhibits. We were able to feel a replica of a whale’s heart, a globe that showed us tactually where the tectonic plates are, a taxidermied kiwi and a house that shook to give you the feeling of an earthquake. After Te Papa we went to the supermarket. We were broken up into three groups, each group was given a list of groceries to purchase for our dinner that night and lunch and breakfast for the next two days. It was an efficient way of getting all of the shopping that we needed, although a bit of a challenge in a new supermarket. After returning to our accommodation with our groceries we ate a delicious dinner of chicken, rolls and salad. Our accommodation was nice. Us four girls were sharing a room and we had our own bathroom which I was relieved about. The staff there were all very lovely. It was a great location too, being opposite the supermarket and nearby to transport, the information centre and in walking distance of a number of restaurants and tourist attractions. It had been a busy first day and we were all grateful to collapse into bed that night.


The first activity that we did on Tuesday was to take a trip on the Wellington cable car. On our way there though, we discovered a Braille wall. There were a few walls, each having large Braille dots on them. We spent some time trying to decipher the message, but it was quite confusing. Most of us could pick out words here and there but we weren’t able to decipher the message. I thought it was a cool piece of art to have in central Wellington. Then we continued on to the cable car. It was a short trip to the top of the hill. Once up the top we explored the museum briefly and then set out on our walk back down to the bottom. Originally, we had planned to walk through the gardens but we ended up walking along the streets instead as it was the quicker route. We stopped and ate lunch along the way. Once at the bottom we caught a bus to the Weta Workshop. Unfortunately our bus was running late so our tour was cut short. We were still able to see a lot of interesting things in the time we had. Once again, we were given special permission to feel the props and costumes from the films. I especially enjoyed learning about how the gun from District 9 was designed and constructed. The designer of the gun needed to draw over 500 different designs before the producer was happy with one. Then we were told about the process that it went through to make the gun from the 2d drawing to the 3d prop that was used in the film. We were also able to touch other props and costumes including a rabbit costume, a sword, chainmail and a wig. We were also taught how they make different effects, for example how they make new leather look old and worn. Unfortunately I hadn’t seen any of the films that were talked about in the workshop but I still thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Then we went back to our accommodation for a short break before the next adventure. We were going on a seal safari which was an activity I had discovered when researching what we could do in Wellington. At first I had been worried that it wouldn’t be a suitable activity for us because it was quite expensive and went for three hours. In the description of the activity it sounded like the main focus was looking out for seals along the coast, but I suggested it anyway. I was very glad I had as it ended up being a definite highlight of the trip. In two four-wheel drives, we were taken along the rugged coastline. We went up mountains, down steep hills, along the beach, over rocks and through streams. We were shaken, bumped, rattled and rocked for three fun and hilarious hours. We all loved it. Halfway through the trip we stopped and got out of the vehicles to have a hot drink and a muffin. There were about fifteen seals on the rocks around us. I definitely wasn’t able to see them and I could not hear them either but I could smell them. Thankfully though, looking out for seals seemed to be the secondary part of the trip, the four-wheel driving the main. When we got back to our accommodation we ordered Thai for dinner as it had been another long and busy day.


We woke up early on Wednesday as it was a full day of travel. I couldn’t believe two days in Wellington were over so fast. I loved the city and had really enjoyed spending time there. After having breakfast, getting ready and packing up our rooms we were picked up by a shuttle and taken to the ferry terminal. We were spoiled on the ferry. The staff took us into an area that was closed off to all the other passengers. We had an entire lounge to ourselves! We were right up the front of the ferry and all of us were able to sit in the front row of seats. It was very comfortable and I really enjoyed travelling across the Cook Straight this way. We couldn’t believe how lovely the staff had been to give us this area completely to ourselves. The trip was smooth, which was a relief to some of the group as I have heard that stretch of water can be rough. Once we reached Picton we had just over an hour to spare before our train left. We wandered around to stretch our legs as the majority of the day was going to be spent sitting down. Then we boarded the train ready for our departure. Again, the train was very comfortable. At different times throughout the journey as we passed points of interest you could plug in your headphones to hear a commentary and brief description. For me, this was a great aspect of the trip. It allowed me to learn a little about the landscape that we were travelling through. I also walked up to the front of the train where there was an outdoor observation deck. I stood out there for five minutes or so before returning inside where it was warm. The trip on the train took just under six hours but it didn’t feel like that long to me. When we arrived in Christchurch we collected our luggage and then walked from the station to our accommodation. We were staying in the jailhouse accommodation which had been a working prison until 1999. I had been really looking forward to this. After we found the jail and put our bags in our rooms we went for a walk to find dinner. We ate at an Irish pub which had live music playing. It was relaxing and enjoyable. It was quite nice to have an easy day on Wednesday after Monday and Tuesday were busy and Thursday and Friday were going to be busy too. Even so, I find travelling can be tiring and was, once again, grateful to climb into bed that night.


Thursday was another busy day. Before we left, we went on a tour around the jailhouse. We saw the solitary confinement cell and the area where the guards took their breaks. There is also a cell in the jailhouse that has been left in its original state, even with the bed that the prisoner slept on and the graffiti on the walls. After our tour we set out, going in a shuttle to the gondolas. They were just like the ones we went on in Rotorua and took us up the Port Hills. Once we were up the top we looked through the souvenir shop, had a coffee in the cafe and then went on a short ride. We sat in a buggy and were taken through a tunnel that taught us a brief history of the Canterbury region. After we took the gondola back down the hill we headed, in a shuttle again, into the city. We went punting down the Avon River. The entire group was able to fit in one punt. It was a lovely and relaxing way to travel down the river. My favourite part was when we were able to throw bread out for the ducks. We could hear them splashing and quacking all around us. After that we had some lunch and then were taken on a tour of the Botanic Gardens on the caterpillar. The caterpillar is a vehicle made up of a couple of buggies joined together. The lady took us around the gardens and explained the flora and fauna there. At times we were able to stop and feel and smell some of the plants and trees. We were even able to walk through the garden that had been designed especially for blind people as the flowers in there were very strongly perfumed. This was another relaxing tour. Then, we boarded the tram which took us through the city. It was a fairly short trip but along the way we went through Cathedral Square. I was even able to just make out the cathedral which had been hugely damaged in the earthquakes. Although I was not able to see most of the damage from the earthquakes myself a lot of it, in particular the buildings around us that we past, were described to me. I was able to experience some of the destruction myself though, in particular by the cracks and holes in the footpath that I was able to feel through my cane and feet. At some points we needed to walk around large holes in the path that were surrounded by fences. The city felt quite eerie to me. It reminded me quite a lot of the Black Saturday bush fires back home. Some time after the fires had destroyed Kinglake my family and I drove through the town. The damage was incredible. To me, Christchurch gave me the same feeling even four years or so after the first quake. Even though I had been to Christchurch before it seemed to hit me quite hard during this trip as I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the city before now. Until I had been to Christchurch for the first time last year it seemed like a faraway place that we only heard about on the news. All of a sudden, I was walking through the city and experiencing in my own way the damage that had been caused. Like the Black Saturday fires, even many years after the tragedy there is still so much repairing to do and still so many reminders of the disaster. Even though, as mentioned, I have been to Christchurch before I enjoyed doing some more of the tourist things there and learning more about the region and its history. Each time I had visited until now I stayed outside of the city and hadn’t experienced much of what it had to offer. I really enjoyed getting to explore the city further. After our trip on the tram we walked to a supermarket to pick up something for dinner and then went back to the jailhouse in taxis. After dinner we had the night to ourselves, which was a nice treat.


Friday morning was pretty relaxed. We packed up our bags, tidied our rooms, got ready, ate breakfast and made lunch for the day. Then we headed out, leaving our luggage at the jailhouse to pick up later. We walked into the city again, this time heading to the container mall. The mall has been constructed entirely out of shipping containers that have been nicely done up and decorated. I had been to the container mall once before but this was the only activity that we did on this Kickstart trip that I had done before. We looked through a couple of shops and ate lunch at the mall. I bought myself some different lollies from a shop that sold English and Americans sweets. Once we had finished their we rode in another shuttle back to the jailhouse to pick up our luggage before continuing on to the airport. We weren’t able to check in for our flight yet so we walked across to the Antarctic Centre. There, we watched the penguins being fed, experienced what it would be like in a blizzard in the Antarctic (-11 degrees and strong winds) and went on a ride called the Hagglund. The Hagglund is a vehicle that they travel around in in the Antarctic. It was my favourite part of the Antarctic Centre. We went up and down steep hills, drove across metre-wide holes and drove into the water. After our time there was over we walked back to the airport where we checked in, ate dinner and then boarded our flight. Once again, the flight went smoothly. When back in Auckland we rode in a taxi back to Kickstart.


I really enjoyed the whole trip. Everyone we met along the way was lovely, kind, generous and very accommodating. Something I particularly enjoyed was travelling on all of the different forms of transport that we took throughout the week. We travelled by plane, train, taxi, bus, shuttle and ferry not to mention gondola, tram, cable car, four-wheel drive, caterpillar and punt! Usually, we have at least one van with us when we go on Kickstart overnight trips. The only other overnight trip that I have been on with Kickstart where we didn’t have a van was Tiritiri. When we have a van we are able to take everything with us, including food. It also means that we can put our luggage in the van and don’t’ have to worry about it. This time was completely different. We weren’t able to take food with us and had to buy it once we were there. It also meant that we needed to be responsible for all of our own luggage. I made sure to pack a small light bag which I was easily able to manage when travelling. In my opinion, not having the van made it more realistic as, most likely, when I am travelling in the future I will be relying on public transport. When we are driving in the vans us students are able to relax and have some time out. The staff however cannot. We had to be concentrating all the time this trip as we were travelling either by some form of public transport or by foot. Travelling with a cane in an unfamiliar area can be quite tiring but I enjoyed it and certainly loved the challenge. Another reason that I particularly enjoyed this trip was that we were able to experience two New Zealand cities which are very unlike each other. Wellington is hilly, for example, and very windy. I enjoyed getting to experience “windy Wellington” as it is commonly known. Christchurch on the other hand was incredibly flat for the most part. It, of course, was also cooler than Wellington. I think being able to explore two completely different cities was a great choice for our end of year trip. We were also very spoiled in terms of the weather that we had during our trip. When we left Auckland on Monday it was raining. But we flew into a lovely sunny Wellington. Although Wellington was quite windy on Monday we were all grateful that it wasn’t raining. Tuesday was a lovely day. Just after we climbed aboard the ferry to leave Wellington it started raining. But again, we arrived in Christchurch to fine weather. The night before we arrived in Christchurch there was a bad storm, but we had missed that. The weather was lovely in Christchurch for the time that we were there too.


Until next time.



Term 4 Week 3

This week was an easy one. We were treated to a long weekend thanks to the Labour Day public holiday.


Tuesday morning I began with shopping after our group meeting. I shopped for the green kitchen again. This week I didn’t have much at all to buy. Originally, I had planned to shop with a Kickstart staff member so that I could finish quickly, meaning that I would have time to drive around to the butcher to pick up some more rolled pork to roast before the other shoppers would be finished. Suzannah and I shopped in record time. By that time however, Jude had taken another student to the butcher instead. As I had finished so quickly Jude picked me up from Countdown and drove me back to Kickstart before the others. I was able to unpack and label my shopping and begin working on the minutes for that morning before lunch. I had been timetabled in to spend time with Barbara discussing financial things including mortgages after shopping, but we ran out of time so postponed it for another week. After lunch I had been timetabled in to prepare my pork. Like last time though, I decided to begin during lunchtime so that I wouldn’t run out of time. This was my independent roast, the last one I needed to do for my goal. I was also going to try out our new Bluetooth thermometer for the first time, which I was very excited about. During lunch I preheated the oven and prepared the pork. Before I was able to put the pork in the oven though I spoke to Jude about using the thermometer. I knew that it needed to be able to test the temperature in the centre, but I wasn’t sure if I should put it in from the side or the top. As I was using a roll of pork we decided to put the probe in the top as there was a small hole in the side where it was rolled. I put the probe into the meat and then put the tray into the oven, letting the wire dangle out of the door. Then I plugged the wire into the thermometer and set up the iPad ready to monitor the temperature. The wire didn’t seem to affect the door closing at all. The iPad app has a section where you can select meats with their required internal temperature already set. Otherwise you can enter the temperature yourself. I chose the pork well done setting, which was 71 degrees. I also weighed the pork and used my iPhone app to calculate how long it should take to cook. It estimated that it would be one hour and forty-five minutes. I used this app as well as the thermometer partly so that I could time the things such as the potatoes but also to cross-check the thermometer. I was interested to see how long it would take to reach its internal temperature when compared to the time my app estimated. Then I prepared the potatoes, carrots and broccoli. I had plenty of time so I cut up the broccoli stalk and fed it to the worms and then emptied and washed our compost bucket. After the potatoes were in the oven I cleaned the dishes, got everything out that I needed for the gravy and to serve and then relaxed. I was surprised to discover that the pork had reached its temperature twenty-five minutes earlier than expected. I took it out and let it rest while the potatoes continued cooking. I asked Suzannah to check the pork for me, just to be doubly sure as it was the first time I was using the thermometer. The juices ran clear. I was impressed at how fast the meat came to temperature. The thermometer is a great way of making sure the meat is neither over cooked nor under cooked. Each time I opened the oven to take the tray out I needed to be mindful of the thermometer. If I had have simply carried the tray over to the bench as I normally would I would have dragged the thermometer off the bench, risking either dropping it on the floor or damaging the wire. At first, I put the thermometer in my pocket and then took the tray out of the oven. I quickly discovered though that I had to remember the thermometer was in my pocket each time I walked away from the tray on the bench. So in the end I decided to simply disconnect the thermometer from the wire, letting the wire dangle out of the tray. Once it went back in the oven I simply reconnected the wire and everything was perfect. Doing that didn’t affect the app or anything and seemed to be the easiest and safest way of going about it. When it was time I served the vegetables and then got the potatoes out of the oven. When I opened the door of the oven a cloud of smoke came out. This surprised me because the potatoes had been in there for only an hour altogether at 200 degrees, which is exactly how I normally cook them. The top of the pork was a lot darker than my last two too, which I was confused about. Barbara wondered if the rack in the oven was closer to the element to normal., which might have been the case. The potatoes were very crunchy and almost burnt. Suzannah scraped the little burnt bits out of the tray for me so that I could make the gravy. I did that and then tasted it to make sure it didn’t have a burnt flavour, which I didn’t think it did. Then, to finish up serving, I set to work carving the meat with Jude’s electric knife. This started off fairly well. The slices were straight and quite thin. For some reason though as I went they seemed to become thicker and not as even. I have always struggled to judge when something is straight. Some of the pieces I had to cut up into smaller chunks using a normal knife but overall I think I did quite well with the electric knife considering it was only the second time I had used it. I put the meals and gravy in the fridge, washed my dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. I was also sure to wipe the top of the oven down with a cloth while it was still warm in the hope that it would get rid of the grease and fat that made the oven smoke after my pork last time. That night when I ate my meal I wasn’t very happy with it. The meat itself was nice but the crackling hadn’t worked out nearly as well as it had the last two times. It had not crackled up very much at all and was quite chewy. I had done everything exactly the same as I usually do. The potatoes also tasted very slightly burnt to me and in the end I could also taste a burnt flavour to the gravy. The vegetables were nice though. Overall I wasn’t very happy with the meal but I was still proud as I had done it independently and therefore achieved my goal. I know that everyone who prepares roasts has dud ones like this from time to time so I was not disheartened at all. Overall I was very impressed with the thermometer too. It was very easy to use and I can definitely see that it will be a worthwhile thing for me to buy for my own flat.


One disadvantage to my idea of writing our menu planners on the Kickstart iPad is that only one person can enter their recipes at a time. This is why lately I have been entering mine in the night before so that I can then use my time productively. As I had menus on my timetable first thing on Wednesday I used the time instead to type out a recipe from a braille book that I borrowed off of Natalie. Then I had an hour to work with Suzannah on separating my washing. All I needed though was for someone to check what I had done. Suzannah wasn’t in on Wednesday so I asked Barbara to check instead. She agreed with all of my choices, even the ones I wasn’t sure about, such as putting my pink t-shirt into my lights pile and my blue t-shirt into my darks. In the past I have always washed all of my clothes together without worrying about separating them. For my goal about caring for clothes and linen though I wanted to learn the skill. In the future I may still never worry about doing it but at least then I have practiced doing it. At times I struggle to work out which pile an item should belong to, but this is why I asked for a staff member to check. Barbara explained to me the advantages of separating my washing, namely that whites stay very bright and clear, rather than fading slightly when you wash them with other colours. She also told me how cheaper washing powder can also make your clothes fade. Then I put my washing on, one load at a time. I was glad that I had managed to separate them perfectly without needing to change any of the decisions I had made. After morning tea I spent an hour with Barbara discussing table etiquette. She had a few tips and tricks to share with me and was able to answer a couple of my questions. Then I finished hanging out my washing and ate lunch. After lunch we had another session of waiata and then I went to the gym.


I had been timetabled in to make a juice Thursday morning. However, I juggled my timetable very slightly. In the afternoon I had been given time to make my third dessert with staff supervision. However, the slice that I had chosen needed to set in the fridge for about four hours before the top layer could be put on. As a result, I decided that I would make the base and filling for the slice in the morning and then make the topping and the juice in the afternoon. That way, the slice would be able to set while I was out at filming. The slice was a chocolate caramel slice, a recipe that I found online. It is a very similar recipe to the caramel cups that I made last year. This one however, I assumed, would be easier to make and definitely not as fiddly, but still just as delicious. Only a few very slight things differed between the two and I felt that I would most likely feel much more confident in perfecting the slice rather than the cups, even though I did end up making the cups independently last year. I made the base by sifting some flour and mixing it together with brown sugar, coconut and butter. When it was ready, I pressed it into the tin which I had greased beforehand. I baked the base for fifteen minutes. While it was cooling I prepared the filling by mixing together some butter, golden sirup and sweetened condensed milk. I heated it over the stove, whisking it and making sure it didn’t stick. Once it was ready I poured it over the base and used a scraper to even it out. I had been hoping that the caramel would be runny enough that it would spread itself so I wouldn’t have to even it out, but that didn’t work. Last time I made the caramel for the cups I had a feeling it was thinner and runnier, so next time I might try and leave it on the stove for a little longer to see if that helps. Then I put the slice back in the oven for ten minutes or so. As soon as I took it out it needed to go into the fridge as I was about to leave for filming. I was concerned about carrying the hot tray on a board to the fridge without it slipping off, especially as it was too hot to hold. Suzannah had the idea of glad wrapping it to the board, which worked. That way, it would hold it still on the board but also left holes on either side of the glad wrap so that it wouldn’t cause condensation. Then we went to filming. This week, we were still working on the idea for this term’s film. We brainstormed a little as a whole group before we split up into two smaller ones. My group, which funnily enough was the four Kickstart students, were the script writers. We had to come up with ideas for characters, lines they could say and the general plot for the film. The film this term is based on Dr Seuss books, which I haven’t read, so I wasn’t much help in the session. Our characters rhyme to coincide with the theme of Dr Seuss so I was hoping to be able to help with that part, but we didn’t get to writing many lines at all. After film I checked my slice. It was setting very nicely so I left it in the fridge. During lunch I got together the ingredients for my juice. I used carrots, celery, beetroot, oranges and mint. After they were all prepared and ready to go in the juicer Suzannah joined me so I started working on the top layer of the slice. This layer was different to the top of the caramel cups. The cups only use melted chocolate on the top. This slice involved melting cremelta and cooking chocolate together. I did that in a bowl that was sitting inside a pot of simmering water. Once it was all melted and smooth I poured it over the slice. This time, however, the chocolate was quite runny and managed to mostly even itself out, although I did use a scraper to help it just a little. One corner was lacking chocolate but the rest of it looked good. I put it back in the fridge and then made my juice. The juice that I had chosen was a new one that I hadn’t tried last semester. It was really nice though. To finish off I washed my dishes and then had a group meeting. After hours Jude helped me to cut up my slice, which looked excellent. Last year whenever I baked I always asked a staff member to cut it up for me. This year, part of my goal was to actually learn how to do it for myself. I had never cut up a slice like this before which is why I asked for Jude’s help. We tried a couple of different knives for it to see which one worked best for me. To begin with, I used a large sharp knife. I found the centre up the top and then pushed the knife into the slice. Then I pulled it down slightly. Then I pulled the knife back out, moved closer towards me and repeated the process. Once I had reached the bottom edge of the slice I went back along the cut to make sure that I had cut all the way through. I had cut it slightly crooked, which did not surprise me. Then we changed knives. I tried a smaller sharp knife. I also put the blade into a cup of warm water and then dried it off before cutting. This way, the chocolate on the top melted slightly which was easier to cut. It also meant that the caramel wouldn’t stick to the knife as much. I found this much easier. I found the smaller knife easier to manage and also the heated blade made it easier to cut through. I finished cutting the slice with this knife, putting it back into the warm water regularly. I cut down the slice three times, leaving me with four long pieces, before turning the tray forty-five degrees and doing the same thing again. I ended up with sixteen, almost even, pieces of slice. Then, to make it easier to get out I used a butter knife, which I again heated first, to go all the way around the edges of the slice. Then, I went along all of my cuts again to make sure they were completely cut through. We thought that next time I might cut the whole thing with the butter knife, simply because it has a rounded end and seemed to cut the base better. Once I had made sure the slice would come out easily I used the butter knife to carefully lift out one of the corner pieces. Jude had warned me that the first piece of a slice usually ends up breaking or crumbling. I was amazed to see that my first piece was perfectly intact. It looked excellent. I was then easily able to lift out the other pieces. We all tried a piece and I was very impressed. Everyone agreed. It was delicious and had been much easier to make than the caramel cups as I had expected. I was also really proud that I had been able to cut it myself too. I am confident to make this slice independently next time, although I would like to come up with a method of guiding me so that I cut straight. I considered buying a ruler that would be especially for the kitchen for this purpose, but I will chat with other people and think about this more to see if I can come up with a better idea. After that I checked the oven in our kitchen to make sure I had cleaned out the mess from the roast pork enough. I still thought that the top of the oven was sticky and might cause it to smoke next time someone turns it on grill. So I lowered the element again and attacked it with gif and steel wool until I was happy.


Friday was a fairly easy day. We were collecting for Blind Week in two groups. I was in the second group which meant that I had the morning spare. I spent some time in the gym, worked on this evaluation and started packing for our trip next week in that time. When it was our time to collect we headed to the Warehouse in Manukau. We were there for three hours and collected many generous donations. In the time I chatted to a lot of lovely people. Collecting money like this is never easy but I am much better and more comfortable doing it now than I was when we first collected last year. Of course it is always nice to give back to the community in this way too. After we finished our stint of collecting at 3:00 we returned to Kickstart where we were able to finish slightly early.


Once again this week I have had trouble with my knee when I try to run. As we are away for the whole week next week I will be able to rest it further. If I still have trouble with it the following week however I may decide to see someone about it as it doesn’t seem to be improving.


Until next time.