Friday, December 10, 2010

Last (official) monthly swim for 2010!!!

Done it! Yippeee! Whoopee!! - etc, etc, etc!!!!! Can now say (boast?) that I've been swimming at Hataitai Beach in Wellington, New Zealand (surely Wellington is the cold sea-water capital of the North Island) every month, repeat, EVERY month this year, 2010!!!!!! Not in a wet suit, either.

My swimming friend and I are absolutely stoked! When others were freezing by their heaters in the Wellington winter months, we were swimming (add your own exclamation marks here, I'm tired of typing them).

As we were drying off from our 1st December swim, my swimming friend handed me a certificate (another exclamation mark). It reads" 'This is to certify that Lorraine Williams has completed the 'At Least Once-A-Month' Swim Challenge 2010'." It truly made me chuckle non-stop.

Why oh why is my friend now saying we should do it all over again next year. And did I hear her mutter the ominous phrase, "Maybe twice a month next year?"?
Have just had a few days in Auckland, swimming Waiheke, Takapuna and Mission Bay. The water was like being in the bath at home. Those softie Aucklanders, standing around muttering about the cold as I was cavorting about like a little (make that 'overweight') porpoise.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part I review

Well, saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 this morning. It was the first showing (not counting last night's (almost) midnight showing). As it finished there was a discernable sigh and a few muttered curses from the audience. Why, oh, why did the makers split up the last book? Don't answer that: money, of course.

All the way through the movie I was on tenterhooks because I knew it would end before the finish of the book, and I was stressed out over this.

And .... the same problem as the last film (Half Blood Prince). It was too dark in colour! When I got the DVD of Half Blood Prince, I could hardly see what was going on on my tv screen. Judging by the colour pallette of this latest film, it will be the same. I don't feel like I even want to buy the DVD this time.l

There were a few script changes from the book and this surprised me. Most of everything was needed though. All the main plot points seemed to happen so fast that there was really no tension or 'soft' emotion as in the book.

It was terribly obvious that a lot of it was originally made with 3D in mind. A lot of repetitive swishing and swirling. I hope the makers of the final movie remember how subtle the 'Avatar' people handled 3D.

All in all, an okay movie, I'll see it again.

Oh, and my swimming...? Ho-hum, it's 'normal' now. Still cold, though.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November swims .. and author reverence

Yep, you got it right. The heading says 'swims'. Already 10 November and my friend and I have been swimming in the sea twice this month. The first time was on the 2nd and we were in the water at Hataitai Beach for 23 minutes. But it was a veritable traffic jam. There were five, repeat five, of us in the sea! How awful, we were no longer the top winter swimming dogs! From now on, I guess, the water will be a-wash with souls. Sigh, it's difficult to once again turn in to one (or two) of many. The water isnt so bad when we're in, but we're still at the shivering/cold toes stage for about fifteen minutes afterwards. But .... yippeeeee, summer's all but here, all's right with the world.

I've just finished reading the second book by the author of Julie/Julia (or Julie and Julia .... or Julia & Julie - God, it's awful when you read so many books, you can't remember titles and authors). In the first book, Julie was determined to cook, in one year, every recipe from the Julie Childs French gourmet recipe book. A hilarious book, taken from Julie's blog. It was turned into a film where the producers cheated a bit and added Meryl Streep as Julia Childs. Anyway, I've just read Julie's book two, "Cleaving" where our intrepid writer is learning to be a butcher. I'm in a state of shock to discover that during all the Julie/Julia stuff our so-called heroine was having an affair with a married man whom she still utterly, absolutely adores. Heavens, all that time she was stuffing live lobsters into steaming pots and working through Julia Childs' cookbook, and ostensibly a happy marriage ... she was 'carrying on' behind the readers' backs! Tut-tut, I'm shocked and disappointed, my trust has been betrayed. I will never believe anyone writing an autobiography ever again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We-Love-Peter-Jackson Rally - The Hobbit

Up until Wednesday night, along with, I guess, millions of ordinary New Zealanders, I was full of anguish, worry, and hurt for Peter Jackson, for The Hobbit movie, for all the movie workers in Miramar, Wellington, for everyone with jobs on the periphery of the movie industry ... Overseas, there might be six degrees of separation between people, but here in NZ it's said to be two degrees. If The Hobbit movie had been pulled from this country, practically everyone would suffer in some way.

I went to the rally on Labour Day Monday at Civic Square in Wellington. I estimated about 4,000 people there. No professional placards or obvious unionists present. Just ordinary folk (and Weta and studio workers). Folk with balloons and children, and everyone rooting for Peter Jackson. A lovefest, to keep The Hobbit' in New Zealand and not be taken overseas as Warner Bros seem to want to do. Every age group was present, including kiddies in hobbit cloaks, and lots of oldies. Everybody was in a happy mood; it's great to have like-minded people all together.

Sure, there were a few placards, but they were 'home-made' crayon or marker pen ones, with newspaper photos attached or hastily-drawn pictures. I saw this young man holding high a placard so I went round to the front to see what was on it: "My Arms Are Tired."

Richard Taylor (Weta owner) was the first (and last) speaker. He was brilliant. I could tell he cared so much. He is a truly lovely guy. He read a passionate letter from Peter Jackson. There were to be similar rallies all around the country and it was hoped that the representatives from Warner Bros would hear about them all and realise the enormity of taking the film out of the country.

And our Prime Minister came through ....!!!!! He negotiated a wonderful deal. The phones between my friends and myself rang hot after the announcement (just as the phones had run hot for about five non-stop hours between my friends and myself the previous afternoon, nothing but yak-yak-yak about the future of The Hobbit). We never thought for one moment that the PM would negotiate a deal whereas Warners would promote our country so magnificently. Thanks, John Key. Wonder when the tele-movie of the saga will come out?

- Oh, and swimming? We had our second October swim yesterday. 20 minutes. Repeat, 20 minutes!!!!!! We're home, baby..... (Could hardly move my freezing fingers for the next quarter of an hour, however.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October Hataitai Swim

Well, we've done our October swim - Yippeee!! Yippeee! Yippeee! And what's more we were in that early October water for over 12 minutes. A very respectable time. My friend and I loved the swim. Three lengths of the cove. Towards the end, we were lazily swimming, truly enjoying ourselves. My friend brought along her entire family as our cheerleading team.

So, that's two swims (Sept and Oct) within about a week - quadruple Yippeeee!!! By rights now, we don't have to go again until 30 November.

By about the end of this month, many people will be swimming. But surely we're still the only ones doing it every month throughout a year ... in Wellington? ... at Hataitai Beach,? Congrats to us.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sept Swim

Trying to go in the water every month for a full year can be harrowing, especially in winter. But we never thought we'd have trouble in September which, after all, is spring. But the weather was awful practically every day, and when it was sort of fine, then the tide was wrong and we wanted to go when it was high tide as it's easier then to plomp straight down into the water from the steps at Hataitai Beach.

So, we waited ... and waited ... Finally the last few days of September rolled around and we knew we had, like two days to do it in. We were very worried.

Finally, we did it! Yay! And what's more - wait for it! - we swam right across the bay and back again. No dilly-dallying to half way (like July) or quarter way (like August). We actually played around in the water, too and, dare I say it, didn't feel all that much like getting out. Wow.

October, here we come!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Las Vegas (Star Trek) Holiday

I went to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas at the start of August 2010. I should be in to knitting, and cooing over grand-children, and watching "Days of our Lives", right? Wrong. To heck with all that aforementioned stuff, I'm a "Star Trek" fan, in all its incarnations. I'm not a rabid fan, I just feel comfortable watching the shows.

So many stars. Seventy of them. From Shatner, right through to practically every woman Kirk had ever kissed on classic Trek (he was on stage in front of 15,000, the women were in the dealers' room hawking ancient photographs of their moment of glory). Attendees at the con ranged in age from about 10 years to, well ... me, and older (many of the stars would have topped me in age!)

What amazed me about Shatner on stage was how quick, witty, sharp he is. He ran rings around everybody. I thought his talk with Nimoy might have been scripted, but when he answered questions from the audience, he was just as quick and witty, running retorts out so fast that my head was reeling (we all have friends like Shatner, yes?: we love them to bits but within a half hour of greeting them, we just want to shout 'slow down, I've got a headache'; we couldnt possibly keep up with their sharp wit and intelligence on a longterm basis).

Present were Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Fraikes, Leonard Nimoy, etc.

I went to three "Beam Me Up Breakfasts" with about twelve stars, including James Darren (my childhood idol. He's still delicious). The breakfasts were like speed dating. The stars took turns sitting at every table (of about six) for five minutes. You had something like 15 seconds to take photographs at the beginning of the breakfasts. (In total, I took 169 photos, of which about nine came out, the rest were blurred because I zoomed in most of the time. Damn, my new Canon camera which I figure I hadnt learnt how to work properly!)

I went to a dinner at the top of the Stratosphere (equiv to our Skytower) where several of the Star Trek stars did some filking (putting different words to popular songs). Armin (Quark) and Max (Rom) were brilliant, especially dressing up in their Ferengi 'heads' and singing "Viva the Nagus" (the Nagus is the boss of the Ferengi race) instead of "Viva Las Vegas" (see photo).

One of the most stirring moments was at the dessert evening when four (male) fans who couldn't sing, bellowed out to karaoke "Faith of the Heart" (Enterprise theme). Everyone joined in, waving arms to music, swaying cigarette lighters, etc.

The entire convention was worth double the price and is on every year. Next year it will be at the Rio Suites instead of the Las Vegas Hilton because it just keeps growing and a bigger venue is needed. I believe NZ's Karl Urban will be there in 2011.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August Swim

Yep!! Done it again! Because I was away on holiday (more about this in a later blog) my friend and I couldn't do our August winter swim until the last half of the month. The weather was bad, we were getting a bit worried that what with the cold and low tide, and friends at the gym badgering us about had we done it yet .... So on Saturday, with a temperature high for that day of 13c, and a nice high tide at Hataitai Beach, we took the plunge. My goodness, it was cold! We went to about quarter way across the bay but then I worried that I might get caught out with hypothermia and not be able to make it back. So we returned triumphant. At least we never do quick plunges in and out like most of the so-called swimmers do for the mid-winter swim. We actually swim! We did it!-we did it!-we did it! It should be plain sailing (make that 'clear swimming') from now on in. The water should be warmer in September, surely? We are determined to say that we've swam (swum?) every month in a full year. We are the champions-we are the champions-lah-de-de-dah....

Monday, July 19, 2010

My every-month-a-year swims!

Hey, was I stupid, or what? Nope, don't answer that. Let me explain: my friend and I, not wanting to be out-swimmed by the other, both agreed to pop into the sea every month throughout 2010. All very well if you live somewhere up the line or in Auckland, but we're in Wellington (so 'nuff said, yeah?)

It was okay in January, February, March and April, of course. We always swim in these months. I tentatively slipped into the water in the first week of May. Mmmmm, not too bad, lovely in fact. It was balmy weather.

During the weekend before the shortest day in June, we looked snootily down our noses at the majority of the mid-winter swimmers (me, from in front of my tv, my friend before actually coming out of the water to be interviewed by a tv reporter). Most mid-winter swimmers hopped in and out of the sea with such alacrity, they could scarcely have got wet. We were determined to beat this.

We went into the water on the actual shortest day (21 June) - see photo. Swam to quarter way across the bay, and back. We decided on another swim on the 22nd. This time we were determined to get to halfway across the bay. Boy, it was cold both days. Still, we grinned at the shore, pretending the cold icy water wasn't worrying us, just in case folk - younger folk! - were watching from behind curtains. Outside temps for successive days, 13 and 14.

And, now, we've just done our July swim. Cold-cold-cold-cold-cold.... Brrrrrrhhh.... Outside temp 10. I got to quarter way across the bay and then remembered an aquaintance telling me about her uncle who'd had a heart attack during his own mid-winter swim. I swam quickly back to shore.

The water's going to be probably colder in August (we're-going-to-do-it-we're-going-to-do-it-we're-going-to-do-it- there's nothing like positive reinforcement!). So wish us luck, huh?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Getting that new passport photo

Hi. I have to get a new passport, and this means getting a new photo. I've never had a good photo taken of me. How come people like actor Hugh Grant can look cute in mug shots when they get arrested and I look terrible when I actually pose?
I picked the most well-known photography shop in town. No slap-dash chemist-shop-across-the-road for me, no siree. Nothing could be left to chance to obtain the photo that naturally would be bad but, hopefully, wouldn't be utterly terrible.
Well, the photo was absolutely positively utterly utterly utterly terrible!
Was it truly me in the photo? It couldn't be. I looked ancient. My hair was... grey! (oh, thank goodness that was just the light but what sort of photographer allows a subject to have grey hair?) I had crow's feet. I had wrinkles. There was a sort of a wart-like lump under my eye
I had practised non-smiling for, well, minutes before-hand. Practise didn't help.
To make matters worse the photographer had said "No glasses allowed. Take them off."
"What?" I'd rather have taken off my top. "But my glasses are me. I can't take them off."
"New rules," said the photographer. Glasses show a glint. No glints allowed."
I hadn't plucked my eyebrows. The photographer moved in close. Real close.
He was loathe to let me look at the finished product. After I'd all but wrestled the digital camera from his hands, I understood why. He obviously figured I would run from the shop without paying.
I was told to return in 20 minutes for the photo. I perked up. "You can photo-shop it, yes?" I beamed. "Make me beautiful. Make me like Jennifer Aniston please..."
"Sorry," the guy said. "That's not allowed."
There's one bright light on the horizon. I'm going to the chemist-shop-across-the-road next week for another go at a passport photo. And if that photo's terrible, I'll try another place. Then another ...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Torrent Bay Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

I won 7 nights at any holiday home or bach anywhere in New Zealand! Okay, I did tear the perforated entry form out of a baches-to-rent library book, but don't tell a soul!
I chose "Fernbank" at Torrent Bay, in the Abel Tasman National Park, top of the South Island. ($160 a night for folk who don't win compeititions). Torrent Bay has this teeny little village of holdiay homes because it was there before Abel Tasman was declared a national park ... so it stayed. Nearest (basic) shop, something like a five hour hard hike. Or a half-hour (expensive) boat-ride to Kaiteriteri. (departure point). I took my food in with me, all the way from Wellington, and carried out my rubbish . No phone reception but there is a free phone for the Motueka area on jetty. A resident told me she climbed to top of hill above Torrent Bay, at 4 pm every day to contact her family. But I think she could only use Telecom mobile, and maybe only texts???
There are only a couple of holiday homes to rent at Torrrent Bay (Torrent Bay, being roughly in the middle of the Abel Tasman Walking track.) My place was a unit, one of two. Upstairs and downstairs, and takes six or seven people, and no electricity as such (solar roof panels instead). There was a fridge with deep freeze, a proper gas stove (I'm scared of flames so I only used it to boil water for my instant mashed potato). Compost bin. Nice furniture, nice beds. A deck. Proper bathroom, with shower., barbecue, separate toilet. Two sit-on kayaks (I picked a choppy day to go out, capsized twice, and swam back to shore, towing kayak!). No television. No washing machine. Brought in my own radio (good reception), i-pod. A hop, skip from the sea. All water has to be boiled hard for several minutes.
I swam half a dozen times a day. Golden sands. Lots of great walks: Cleopatra's pool (with natural rock slide); Anchorage (beautiful bay. Half hour walk away at low tide, one and a half hours at high tide); Bark Bay (I miscalculated here. Booked a boat to return to Torrent Bay when I could have walked back as well as walking there - it wasn't very long to hike it and the boat fare was expensive).
Maybe fifteen other holiday homes. All having evolved from small family-built baches (a bach is a hastily slapped-together one-roomed holiday home, in kiwi-talk). Nowdays most of these baches, having been handed down the family line have turned into houses. One, even cost seven million!!! The time will come, I am positive, when ordinary people won't be able to afford to come here. So grab the chance while you can.
I didn't have a scrap of rain in the seven days I was at "Fernbank" in February. Temps: 26c-29c. I loved the fact that all these weary trampers trudged through, hot and bothered and I was just lazing on the beach all day (that's how I originally fell in love with Torrent Bay - I trotted through it hot and bothered, too!).
At low tide, you have to tramp out about a kilometre or so for the boat with your luggage. The last few metres, you are maybe, in ankle to knee deep water, so check that you arrive and leave at high tide - unless you want the fun of it! Look at my photo, see the big rock with the tree on it that is roughly in the middle? Well, that's where the lowest of low tides finishes up. You will have to walk to there with your luggage.
There's a wonderful 'swimming hole' at the end of Torrent Bay (the 'channel' where the boats go through to get to the lagoon) that is used at low tide when the normal sea-swimming is, like, a five minute slog away from the beach.
Food I took from Wellington for the week ( went solo): 3 Maggi 'Mash' Instant mashed potato packets (the mix-with-water type), tin of mixed vegies , 3 small tins tuna, 3 small tins chop-chop chicken, small tin deli ham, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, packet of sponge fingers (yum!), half-a-dozen little 'parfait' tub-thingees of sliced peach and/or cinammon apple (these come mixed with a cream sort of stuff that was lovely - but these parfaits are also quite hard to find in supermarkets), couple of big pats of both mango chutney and peanut butter, a block of 'bubble' chocolate (hehehe; I had a 'line' a night, straight from the fridge, wonderful!), 3 pkts of lemon cordial mixture , loaf of sliced bread, a packet of a dozen little bread rolls (the almost-ready type that you 'bake' for ten mins - and I did, before I left home), two hiking meals that I had to abandon they were so revolting, packet of cheese slices, cornflakes, and 3 little packets of long life milk. I don't drink hot drinks.
Do go to Torrent Bay because it's really lovely. Oh, there is a lodge there which looks nice and is owned by Wilsons. It's on the beach. Meals for guests only. I think it's expensive. You can erect a tent behind Torrent Bay but I think you get permission beforehand from DOC and can, maybe only stay overnight. There's a proper camping facility at Bark Bay which is definitely DOC booking.