I emigrated to New Zealand

A few years ago, after a holiday in New Zealand, I fell in love with the country and really wanted to move there. I researched the options for emigrating as a qualified teacher and decided to go for it. It was a slow and expensive process. I had to get all my home qualifications certified in New Zealand, get letters from every school I had ever worked in to confirm my employment and get an expensive medical examination. I went through an agency. They offered some different schools and I decided on one in Auckland. It seemed like a decent school. I had a Skype interview for the job.

Time passed and I must have spent in the region of £2000 on visa fees and other fees. Finally my visa came through. I was quite anxious about starting in a new country even though I have worked overseas a lot in the past. There was also the added worry that my stepfather was elderly and had dementia. I had really wanted my son (who was 20 at the time) to join me but he did not seem interested. He was on a working holiday visa in New Zealand at the time and had decided to do the same in Australia. So I was on my own.

My new school in Auckland. I started in July 2018.
On the way south in 2017

Furthermore I had not taught in schools for some years. I had instead been private tutoring and I was not prepared for the behaviour I would encounter.

I decided to have a bit of a holiday in NZ before starting work. I arrived in country about 5 weeks before the start of the new term. I met the staff as it was the end of term and they were still in school. I met one of the teachers whose year 9 class I would be taking over as she was going on maternity leave. She proceeded to tell me how I would not be able to cope with the kids in her class and went through a list of all their problems. It was all very off-putting.

I had a lovely holiday and drove all the way down to Wanaka on the South Island, stopping at Fox Glacier to see friends..

I was renting an Airbnb in Auckland while I began to seek out a place to live. I was depressed by the cost of some of the accommodation and what I could afford was very pokey indeed. The school was in Henderson, a deprived area of Auckland. In fact all I read in the local newspaper was about the high levels of crime and gang violence.

I had been taking antidepressants for many years. But I had decided to make a clean break and stop taking them. I had not realised how difficult this would be. I had also not declared this to the school (that I was on antidepressants). So sue me.

The new term was approaching and I was about to start my new job. I felt strangely detached and yet at the same time quite anxious. The staff in my department (science) were lovely and very supportive. But as I took on each of my new classes, I was concerned at the low standards and very poor behaviour. Sone kids in my year 9 class constantly tapped on the metal legs of their desks and that was when they weren’t shouting unprintable obscenities at each other. I felt that I was losing control and by the second week this was happening in two of my classes. I had to ask for help from the year 9 pastoral head. By the end of Tuesday of the second week I ended the day so depressed that I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. I was mostly concerned at the reaction of other teachers as I could only see things getting worse with these classes. I was on my own in the country so I had no-one outside of the school to talk to.

I went home that day feeling empty and just knew that I couldn’t cope at this school. That evening I stayed up late thinking about the predicament I was in. I booked myself onto a flight at 8am the following morning and went half way round the world to get home again. At the airport, I had to dump a lot of my possessions as I was over my weight allowance. In the bin went my tent, sleeping bag and a load of my clothes.

I had even shipped all my worldly possessions out to New Zealand at great expense.

Once I was about to board my flight I emailed the school to tell them the truth. I was so ashamed.

The whole experience cost me the best part of £10 000. I decided to leave so abruptly because I thought that they would try to persuade me to stay otherwise.

A beach view
View from a still lake towards Mount Cook.
My son Paddy in 2017

I had to return later that year to collect my possessions which had followed me to New Zealand. I could not afford to ship everything back so when I returned, I sold most of my possessions (bookcases, books, a bed, mattresses, a whole load of kitchen appliances, furniture, lamps, my TV, a full-sized desk, you name it.) I gave away my entire CD collection and more to charity shops. I even threw away my entire collection of exercise books from my school days. I shipped a fraction of what I had sent back home. Then much of what I shipped home got pilfered by the shipping company.

It took me two years to get up the courage to write to my former head of department to apologise. She said that they had been worried about me.

It was a learning experience for me and a very tough one. Not only was it a big financial hit for me, but I had failed. I was very embarrassed about the whole thing. No more teaching in schools for me.

On my return, I stayed in a friend’s static caravan in Folkestone while I got my private tuition business up and running again.

My instagram is a splendid mix of imagery

Below are some of the images I have posted on Instagram. I have travelled widely and lived in eight different countries.

Or click here: https://instagram.com/maths_physics_tutor

Some photos from across the years

I thought that I’d post some photos that I have taken with a few comments made on each picture. I will use each photo as a discussion point as people often say to me that I have done so much travelling and worked in so many different places that I should write about it. Only, I find it hard sometimes to know where to start. So using my photos as a talking point seems to be a good solution.

Check my website www.alsphotosite.wordpress.com for more.


This is my son Paddy and was taken in 2017 on the west coast of North Island in New Zealand. I adopted my son in Swaziland in 2006 so he has now been part of my life for twelve years. We hired this van from a rather unscrupulous outfit as it turned out. It had clocked almost 200 000 km by the time I had the pleasure of driving it. It actually had cobwebs under the bonnet. I love New Zealand. I first visited the country in 2003 on a round the world trip. I wanted to show Paddy what it had to offer.


This was taken from the top of Roy’s Peak near Wanaka. This is in the middle of winter and there were not many people climbing this 1 km high mountain that day. The snow was pretty deep near the top. This view in my opinion is stunning.


In 1997, I was living in Zimbabwe and took a road trip that year through Namibia with a house mate and some people we met in Cape Town. It was my first time seeing Namibia and what struck me was how flat and arid much of the country was. In many cases, the roads continued in a straight unbroken line as far as the eye could see. At night, distances were deceptive. A light on the horizon would take a fifteen or twenty minutes to come into view even driving at 100 kph because it would be 30 km away.


You had to be particularly careful driving on the dirt roads. We had hired a VW Golf from Cape Town and had been warned about speeding on the dirt roads as cars frequently overturned killing those inside. One of those amongst us was a twenty-something English woman who, whenever she was taking turns driving, would drive at breakneck speed. This made me very nervous and no matter how many times I asked her to slow down, she would not do so.


This photo was taken in about 2001 in Matopos National Park, near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. It shows my friend Tim Cherry (behind the wheel), his son Andy (with the red cap) and my friend Nontando’s son Kelvin. I met Tim and Nontando whilst teaching in Zimbabwe in 1996 and 1997. When I began teaching there, 1 GBP was worth about 10 Zimbabwe Dollars. By 2002, the exchange rate was something like 60 000 000 000 dollars to a pound.


This photo was taken from aboard a ship that I took from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales in southern Chile. It took three days and wove its way through these fjords. I was in Chile as part of my round the world trip in 2003. I had got the idea of taking this voyage from reading the book by John McCarthy and Brian Keenan who, when held in captivity by an Islamic terror group, had discussed what they would do on their release. They talked about setting up a yak farm in Patagonia. So it was that five years after their release, they did in fact travel to Chile and covered this vast and diverse country by almost every mode of transport possible. They took this same ship that I did and it was this that gave me the idea to take the same journey through the Chilean fjords.


This rather retro-looking shot is of my campsite in the Chimanimani Mountains of the Eastern Highlands in Zimbabwe. I think this was in 1996, my first year in the country. I was hiking on my own and had rather a heavy rucksack. At one point, I stumbled and badly sprained my ankle. The pain was so bad that by the time I had descended, I decided to camp for the night as I could no longer walk. A couple of young German women hiked past where I was camping, in a place where you would definitely not choose to set up a tent, and I remember trying to impress on them that I was in trouble and needed help. They could not speak English nor I German so they just stared at me and walked off without attempting to understand me.

About six years later, I had reason to have my ankle x-rayed after another bad sprain and the doctor asked when I had broken my ankle. It turned out that I had fractured my fibula in my lower leg in 1996. No wonder it was so bloody painful.

In 2003 on my round the world trip, I decided to learn to fly in Port Elizabeth. I studied at Algoa Flying School. It took about five weeks and flying was done in Cessna 150s. The previous year, I had learned to skydive at Witbank Skydiving Club in Mpumulanga Province, South Africa. I continued to skydive there when I began working in Swaziland as it was only about a four hour drive. I haven’t flown myself since 2006 as it is so expensive. I stopped skydiving about the same time when I adopted my son as I didn’t have the time. I found the kind of people who skydived in South Africa very macho and there was a fair bit of racism at the club so I wasn’t sorry to stop going there.

Fluffy was a cat that I acquired when I was living in Hungary. I lived in Hungary for three years from 2008 whilst working as a maths and physics teacher in Bratislava. There were a number of feral cats that I used to feed in the village where I lived. One gave birth to a litter of kittens in my living room, and fluffy was the runt of the litter. She died in December 2018.


This photo was taken in about 1950, and shows my mother and her two aunts. This is probably taken in Slough where one of her aunts lived at the time. On the left is Edith and in the middle is Ada.