Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's coming up to Oscar time

The powers-that-be will be announcing the Oscar nominations this month. I've had a look at the 'maybe' list. All nice, righteous films and folk. I see Judi Dench may get a nod again. I well remember when she won last time for Best Supporting Actor in a Female Role and she was absolutely astounded because, as she said, she was only on screen for a few minutes and only said, like, one line.

Of course, in my mind, Julie Walters, should get this current BSAinaFR. She was positively brilliant in the last Harry Potter Movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II) - but marvellous as Julie is spitting out the famous 'Bitch" line that everyone is waiting for, she can't do it better than Stephen Fry on the audio book! He was totally magnificent.

I wonder if Fry's audio books of Harry Potter were required listening by the entire Potter film cast because it's so weird that many of the film cast share the same speech intonations and rhythms that Fry does in his readings (released before the movies). Especially noted is the bit where Dumbledore and Harry are on the railway platform in 'Deathly Hallows'. Dumbledore's speech patterns are exactly the same as Fry reading the same words.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Day 2011

Talk about a hot day ... and I mean the weather. I wished all day I could have been at the beach. Instgead I had to go to lunch at the Angus Inn in Lower Hutt with a friend (not J....., my wonderful swimming friend). It cost $100, repeat $100!!!! What a waste, especially when there wasnt really that much food to choose from. As my friend said, the table decorations looked more like they were for a children's party, not Christmas. Not a sign of anything Christmassy. Cardboard hats, streamers weaving in and out of plates and cutlery, hooter horns blown non-stop by the few children there, and crackers. By the time we made it to dessert, they werent replenishing the course and there was virtually no trifle left. My friend couldn't eat his steak medallion because it was so raw (and this after snobbily looking at my steak when I pointed the redness out to him and he said that the steak was meant to look like that).
On the way home, I couldnt stop off at beach because I was so full with food, I thought I would probably sink if I went for a swim. I had to go home for an hour and then hit the berach about 4.30 pm. It was quite crowded.
Again, what a waste of a hundred dollars.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


What is it about Christmas that makes so many people hate it? I love Christmas, plus the days in November and December that lead up to it.
Last week I was trawling around a store lapping the Christmas Fever up, with Beyonce happily Christmas singing in the background. I went into another store and there she was again with the same song. A couple of stores later, Beyonce again. Same song.
I sing along with that kid rabbiting on about all he wants for Christmas is his two front teeth. "Snoopy's Christmas" is my fave Christmas song. Grandma getting run over by a reindeer has me in two minds. I feel real guilty trilling along to it. I mean, the old woman dies, yes? Suffice to say, I watch the skies on Christmas Eve. We senior citizens just arent too nimble when it comes to being around reindeer. The beasts are so much more sharper than us on their feet (hooves?)
I play Christmas CDs in the car, I wear a red and green Merry Christmas t-shirt, jingle bells dangle from my ears. My to-die-for Gucci bangle that rarely ever leaves my wrist is replaced by a $2 Shop snowman bracelet. I'm like some sort of Christmas vampire who just sucks it all up. Funny when you think about it, because I have no loved ones to buy presents for and I don't get any presents. My friends are under strict instructions not to buy me gifts and I have been known to, not once but twice, leave the city over Christmas to get away from well-meaning but misguided neighbours who try to ply me with Christmas survival packs because they figure I'm alone and sad.
When will couples in a relationship realise that single people are not lonely depressed misfits? Sometimes, well quite often really - gasp! - we singles look upon couples as the sad depressed ones. But - ssshhh! - don't let on about this. We let couples happily live with the idea that singles are the ones missing out on life ... instead of it truly being the other way around!
My goodness, have I gone off on a tangent. Sorry about that. So, back to Christmas: MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE AND A HAPPY 2012!!!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our last swim for year

We made it! Well, no, we never actually 'made' anything physically, like doing woodwork or baking a a chocolate cake. But we did complete our last double swim for the year 2011. For readers who've come in late (that third follower of mine, are you out there?), we decided this year to swim at least twice a month at Hataitai Beach. No mean feat if Hataitai Beach had been miraculously transferred to, say, Northland. The winter sea is very (very) cold in a Wellington winter.
At the beach yesterday, my friend's Loved One presented us each with a certificate and I received a gold(ish) cup, too, in definitely deserved recognition of my swimming position as 'Leader'. Oh, J-----, thank you so much for orchestrating the whole thing; noone could ask for a better "co-leader". Because I am such a magnanimous guy toward the lesser person, I will share the cup with you, month and month about. Kudos to both of us. And isnt your Loved One fantastic? He sits there patiently on the changing rooms' deck throughout our every swim , guarding our clothes, timing us in the water and never complaining, even when the day is freezing. I can see he is so proud of you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Swim - whoopeee!

Well, my friend and I have done our November swims at Wellington's Hataitai Beach and - wait for it! - we've done four swims this month. Four. Repeat, four. Not one, not even two. Certainly not three. Four-four-four-lah-de-dah-dah ... FOUR!
What this all means is that we're out of the woods (or water). Winter is behind us, summer is just a few days away. Because we swam once a month last year and twice a month this year, I'm secretly scared my friend will want to do three times a month next year.
I see that something like 700 people have been rescued while swimming at New Zealand beaches over the last month or so. Obviously this is Northland, Auckland or thereabouts. People who live in these areas can'possibly contemplate how difficult it is to swim at Wellington beaches through our winter months. Even September/October were cold. Heck, even this month (November) hasn't been at all warm.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Me as a Rugy World Cup Volunteer

Yes, can you believe it: silly, make-mistakes-all-the-time-terrible-memory-me was a rugby world cup volunteer. I made loads of mistakes to begin with but gradually the whole thing came together. I was stationed at Wellington Airport. Had to find hotels, rental cars, give directions, etc. We didnt really have any tourism training at all for the work. I think it was expected we would just direct folk to 'gates' or the airport bus, and that would be it.
I was jealous to begin with of all the activity in town, but after a while I began to think we, at the airport, had the best deal. It was more interesting. I did go to town one day, and it was so boring. All I did was walk up and down a 500 metre spot for five hours.
My fave day was when this lovely little old lady (goodness, arent I an old lady too?; I never twig to that!) told me she couldnt locate her pilot son. He'd flown down from Tauranga that morning and she wanted to surprise him, but he hadnt appeared. She'd asked around but nobody could help her. I took her to a couple of Air New Zealand people and they couldnt think of anything. Then I suddenly thought, "There's a Koru Lounge, and a Corporate Lounge - wonder if there's a Pilot's Lounge?". There was, and the lady and I bustled there. I passed on a message, and a pilot came out to tell my little old lady that her son had called in sick that morning and the plane had been flown down from Tauranga by someone else! Moral of story: never surprise people at airports.

swimming Ocrober

We've done our two swims a month for October, at Hataitai Beach. The first one was so heavenly, we went backwards and forwards across the bay twice! Summer's coming, and it's driving me mad waiting for it. From now on we reckon our two swims a month are going to be a piece of cake - whoops, am I tempting fate? Fingers crossed ....

Friday, September 23, 2011

rugby world cup 2011 hits Wellington

I'm a volunteer for the rugby world cup. Here I am getting autographs from the United States team in Wellington. Unfortunately, they lost. But what lovely guys they were! My friends and I reckon that come another 20 years and they could be real contenders. They seem to be getting better every world cup.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Second September Swim

Well, we had our second September swim at Hataitai Beach just a few days after our first September swim. It didn't seem too bad actually. September was a bit of an ogre above our heads because of last year when we left our September swim until late in the month, then it rained, and the tides were wrong and the weather cold and we were horrified that we wouldn't get our swim in at all (it was one swim per month last year and, of course, two a month this year).
My swimming friend says that if we add an extra swim per year, then in another thirty years we'll be swimming every day of the month and that will be a bit of a shock.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Orlando Bloom at Wellington Airport

I was at Wellington Airport last Saturday night and the terminal was practically empty when bounding first of a plane from Auckland - along with his entourage of look-alikes - came .... Orlando Bloom! I'd always figured he was overly tall, but he was just average-tall or did it look like this because the guys bustling close around him were of the same height? Bloom had extremely short (curly) dark hair.
It was 7.50 pm and apparently he was trying to make it to the Sth Africa v Wales world cup rugby game by 8.30 p.m. I think, though not too sure about this, that he was trying to make it home to Seatoun first to pick up someone before the game (his wife?), then onward to the game where he had a complimentary ticket.
I figured he would never make it on time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Las Vegas scams. And tipping

Attached is a photo of New York/New York Hotel and Casino (on the left of photo) and MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (on the right of photo). Note the MGM lion, apparently the largest sculpture in America.
I was very scared about tipping when I was in Las Vegas. How to do it? When to do it? Do I give it to a person, leave it on the table just sitting there all by its lonesome? Will someone steal the tip? Will the wrong service person take it? How much should I leave? It was all a giant mystery. Luckily on my first night I watched the young women at the table next to me to see how they left the tip, and I followed suit. I estimate that I tipped over a hundred American dollars during the two weeks I was in Vegas. And I didnt tip a lot of times, especially the times when I felt it was absolutely positively stupid to do so.
When I moved to the convention hotel (The Rio All-Suites -' everybody has a suite' . See attached photo of view from my hotel room), the hotel was one road back from The Strip, and there was an advertised free shuttle bus to get you to a couple of sister hotels that were on The Strip. All the Americans tipped the driver! Just imagine you tip when you got off then when you caught it back to the Rio, you tipped again. Well, I didn't, neither did a lot of foreigners.
Going on my Colorado river rafting trip, people tipped the bus driver who collected us from our hotels, then the driver who took us to a meeting spot, then the driver who took us to the raft, then the raft driver (I tipped this guy), then they tipped all the earlier guys again in reverse order on the way back to our hotels.
Because the 'free' shuttle didn't start until 10 a.m. we were virtually prisoners in our hotel. Well, this annoyed me so I decided to take a taxi to Paris (Hotel) for breakfast. I had to go to a valet standing on the footpath, hand him a dollar, and he signalled a row of cabs that were lined up about 10 paces away (I could have done this myself!). The valet stuck his head in the taxi window and shouted 'Paris' to the driver. I slid in the taxi and repeated 'Paris'. The driver raved and rattled on practically the entire journey to me about how I was only going a short trip and he'd been waiting in line for ages and now he'd lost his place in the line for my tiddly little fare. Then he said "We'll be at the Palms in a few minutes".
I said, "I'm going to Paris"
He slapped his forehead and intimated what a silly billy he was, but that sorry I would still have to be the additional fare as it was automated on his meter. And I tipped him! Everyone has since told me how I was taken.
When I booked an afternoon tour to Red Rock Canyon, I told the concierge not once, not twice, but three times that I wanted to be picked up at the MGM Grand, not the Rio where I was staying because I would be at that end of The Strip at the given time. She handed me my ticket and said "pick-up at the Rio at 1.15." I politely pointed out "This will be the fourth time I've asked to be picked up at the MGM Grand." She altered my ticket.
Guess where I wasn't picked up? The MGM Grand. After waiting till 2 p.m. I buttonholed another driver and he found out that they'd been hunting for me all over the Rio. Well, they sent an emergency guy to pick me up. When I got back to the hotel, I kicked up merry hell. I got my money back the following morning. I refused to leave Reception until I got satisfied.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Las Vegas holiday

The Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas was great. But first I spent four nights at the MGM Grand before the con. From here I went on a sightseeing raft trip (leisurely, not white water - the raft was more of a pontoon and took, about 40 people). We were given wet towels for around our necks and and endless supply of water. We joined the raft at the foot of the Hoover Dam and rafted down the Colorado River. A lovely lunch w/ chilly bag was provided. We saw lots of wild rams/sheep who came down to river edge to drink. We stopped on shore for lunch and I swam with my clothes on, was dry inside 20 minutes. The water temp was 11c (the same as Wgton's winter water temp), but the air temp was 42c!!
It was hard walking in LV because of the heat. Mostly I walked but I did take the bus and the monorail. I went on a sort of flying fox over the heads of pedestrians down Fremont Street (the main street Downtown). Started at about a 5th floor level and zoomed down, suspended by a harness from an overhead wire to about a 3rd floor level). Only cost $15.
I had real fun at the convention, lots of stars, got my photo taken with Brent Spiner who plays Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation (see photo). Had the best rack of lamb ever at the special convention buffet that was thrown in with my entrance fee - and I guess it was American lamb.
I hurt my back on the plane coming home (NB: on a long haul flight always stuff a screwed up blanket or jumper against the small of your back). I had to go to the doctor as I could hardly move from the pain, for a week.

First September Swim

Today, my friend and I had our first swim for this month, September. I was a bit worried because what with my holiday intervening and a sore back (more about this in another email) I felt nervous.
However, the swim was great. We just slipped into the water as if it was the most natural thing in the world. We had a little bit of an audience this time. Also a couple of cyclists yelled out "What's the water like?" We answered that it was quite warm (liar, liar, pants on fire)
Roll on September no 2 swim.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wellington on a Plate

Yesterday I went to the first day of 'Wellington on a Plate'. My friend and I thought really hard about where we would go. We immediately thought of Martin Bosley, then turned it down because we didnt like the look of the menu.

Then we decided on Logan Brown. We rang them, left a message on their answerphone with dates, times, request, but never got a reply. We rang back a week later to be told that they werent starting 'Wellington on a Plate' on the official first day (fri 5) but on Sat 6th. Huh?

We then decided to have our lunch at Foxglove, down on the wharf. We'd booked like a long, long way in advance (when the programme came out) and still were shown to a crumby dark corner table. I'd always thought it was 'singles' who got the crumby seating; seems I was wrong.

The meal....? Well, I'm not really used to posh restaurants and it was a bit of a shock to see such, well, small helpings. I'd been led to believe that you could pick two courses out of three (one being dessert), but there was no dessert listed on yesterday's menu. I would loved to have had the option of the famous "Wellington on a Plate' burger. Last year's burger from Plum was spectacular.

Put your thumb and foreginger together, and that was the size of Foxglove's 'starter'. The piece of fish for the main course was half the size of my palm. And that was it! Oh, except for a bread roll and two glasses of wine (my friend had this) that looked absolutely hilarious because the wine was in a huge brandy type glass and there just appeared to be a drop in the bottom (this reminds me of the old Carol Burnett line, as she looked down into a brandy glass - "Don't look now, but somebody's pinched your guppies!" )

Being a non-drinker I asked for anything else and got a glass full of what tasted like tropical juice but was so over-laden with ice cubes that when I lifted up the glass, it spilt all over the table cloth.

I enjoyed seeing how the other half lives but I don't know if I want to do anything like this again.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows, Pt 2

Well, I've seen the last Harry Potter movie. A little bit (just a fraction) let down because a number of the crucial iconic parts of the book weren't in the film. Especially the dialogue. I have three main grumbles:
1 Neville not publicly killing Voldemart's snake. (I'm not spoiling this for anyone - those who go to the movie will have read the book). I adored reading about it when the two sides (Voldemort's army and the 'goodies') were all facing each other and brave Neville is humiliated in front of everybody, then rises to the occasion. Where is this in director Yates' film?
2 Draco and his parents mildly walking off into the sunset. Huh? The whole point of the story was about Narcissa pretending to Voldemort that Harry was dead, so as she could get into the castle and hunt for Draco. In the book she, then, gets into Hogwarts she and Lucias ran around like wild things looking for him. At the end all three are shyly sitting in the great hall trying to blend in.
But in the film Draco walks over to join the parents before the main battle and all three just wander off. Whaat?
3 The kiss??!!@#** It was all done so spontaneously in the book. Hermione was just so excited about Ron's ideas that she threw her arms about him and it turned into a lovely little kiss. In the film, what was it with all the extended baselisk stuff and the never-forgiveable rising music as the kiss went on forever.
Still, all in all, the film was okay, I guess. Seen it twice, going again today.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

We're all going on a summer holiday-lah-de-dah-dah

Well, it wasn't a 'we' going on a summer holiday, just 'me', all by myself - and it wasn't just "a" summer holiday, but seven (repeat seven of them). Talk about greedy! And I loved every one.

First it was four days in Auckland. Good swimming, usual beaches - Waiheke, Takapuna, Mission Bay. Then I went for 5 nights to my beautiful Eketahuna holiday home (look up The Cottage Eketahuna on the web)

Then I went for a week to Queenstown. I stayed at a Manchester Unity holiday home (see picture above right) but - oh dear! it was up the top of a very (very) steep hill. Okay for people with a car but I had to walk it a couple of times a day. I could have taken a taxi home every day from the town but I resented having to pay the $12-$15 fare. But in compensation the view was out of this world (see picture above left) and I was staying in a very cheap place, for Queenstown. I swam in the lake almost every day. I was worried at first because everybody had said that nobody swam in the lake; it was glacial. What rot. It was wonderful. I had a 20 minute swim every day. I hired a kayak another day but kept to the edges of the lake because I was told that if I fell out in the centre of the lake hyperthermia sets in after 20 minutes. I loved walking around the edge of the lake to Frankton and did this most days, bus-ing back to Q'town. By flashing my gold card on the bus trip from the airport to town, I managed to get a 'free' bus card for my holdiay

Next holiday was a long one, a month: Ohope Beach (boogie boarded all the time because water too wild for actual swimming), Mt Maunganui (stayed right across road from a good boogie-board beach, but got my daily afternoon swimming fix at more serene Pilot Bay), Whitianga (horrible for swimming, there'd been a big storm and for most of the time, there was a lot of debris in the water)., Lake Taupo (nice relaxing, swam every day).

At Whitianga I'd been out snorkelling off a boat and when I clambered back on board I was told about the big Christchurch earthquake. Couldn't believe it, told the woman who was showing me a text on her cellphone that she must have been reading about the September one. How sad, awful, I was shocked.
Planning next summer's holiday.....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

VIP Roxy Theatre Party (that I wasn't asked to attend)

A few weeks back was the opening of the brand spanking new Roxy picture theatre in Miramar, Wellington, owned in part by Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk (also partners in Weta which is a movie special effects company here in Miramar). Prior to the opening there was a special VIP evening.

I wasn't invited but because I live around the corner I trotted along, with my friends, to stand outside the theatre and see who would be turning up.

About 20 people at very, very most stood right outside the main doors, but about a hundred or so stayed in a herd for some reason across the road where they might have got a good panarama view but they werent close at all to invited guests. Maybe they stood there because the tv cameras were there. But TV cameras have zoom lenses

Very soon, I had to make the decision whether to go for autographs or photos, and I chose the autograph option. Maybe I made a mistake. Anyway, I managed to be the first one to recognise and pounce(!) on Ian McKellen, James Breslin, Martin Freeman, Brett McKenzie, Richard Taylor, Tania Roger, Jamie Selkirk, and a few actors from The Hobbit. I got to Martin Freeman (Bilbo) just as he got to the door. I called out, "Mr Freeman", and I heard someone beside Freeman say to him, "You almost made it."

I don't think the crowd were (professional) celebrity watchers. I think they were just Miramar-ites. Maybe this explains why nobody recognised the stars until I swooped in.

All invited guests had been asked to wear clothes from the art deco age to fit in with the theatre's decor.

A very late guest was a guy in a Rocketeer outfit. He jumped out of the passenger seat in his car and hurtled into the theatre. It turned out to be Oscar winner director Peter Jackson! I took a few hopeless photos of him through the frosted-patterned window

I did take a nice photo of Roxy co-owners Jamie Selkirk and his partner ,and Richard Taylor and partner Tania Roger. I spoke to Richard's father; what a lovely man and so justifiably proud of his son.

A side note: my friend, staying with me from Australia, and I went to the very first movie at the Roxy (King Kong). I suggested we sit in a certain row, in the middle, and ushered my friend in first. Jamie Selkirk came out and said there was a prize under one of the seats. It was under my friend's seat.! She got four King Kong signed artist prints, and limited edition signed by the artist King Kong bookends. I was so full of jealousy, I wanted to throw a tantrum! But I had to act all nice and thoughtful and congratulate my friend, and help carry the prizes home, and take photos of her parading around my kitchen with the prizes, and then email the photos to her loved ones in Australia. Sighhhhh.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The mangificent Richard Taylor, Weta

A couple of Sundays ago I was power walking(blame Oprah!) past the Weta Workshop in Miramar and I spotted a City Council worker spading up gunk from the road gutter. As I got closer I saw that the wheelibin he was using had the name 'Weta' written on it. I thought, "Oh, the guy's some unlucky minion from Weta." I got closer and saw that the shoveller of the gunk was multi-Oscar winner and co-owner of Weta ..... Richard Taylor!

I was so surprised, I could only blurt out "What are YOU doing?!!" He said that Sunday was the only day when there werent many cars in the street blocking the gutters. I told him that he'd always been high in my estimation and now he'd gone up something like 500 points. I like to think he'd been wandering along the footpath and the thought suddenly came into his head that the gutters were gunky, and he rushed inside to get a wheelibin. No pointing to a minion and ordering anyone else to do the job when he was just as capable!

A friend told me that if a New Zealand newspaper had photographed him, the heading would have been something like "Multiple Oscar winner shows he's one of the lads". If it had been the National Enquirer from America, the headline would probably have read "Mean millionaire takes job from the poor".

I so applaud Richard Taylor. He's such a lovely natural person. Good luck to him and Weta.

Monday, June 6, 2011

swimming Winter 7 June 2011 Hataitai Beach

Well, my swimming friend and I have decided to swim again throughout the Wellington (NZ) year. But this time twice a month (last year it was at least once a month) We've both managed lots of times in Jan, Feb, Mar, April, and May of course (but none of these months were really cold). We went 1 June this year ........ It was coldish. Today, after gym we laughed about it raining and intimated what a silly day to go swimming. Then it became a case of will we/won't we/I'll go if you'll go. As we plopped into the (quite) cold water it started to rain. But we did it in the rain, back and forth across the bay at Hataitai Beach. We were so proud of ourselves though my friend's husband who was timing us from the shore thought we were a little mad.

My swimming friend is an artist and she painted an absolutely beautiful painting of the view from Hataitai Beach and it is so lovely... and she gave it to me. It fills me with such wonderful memories when I see it. I'm going to try to remember to attach it to this blog. It is now hanging above my computer so I see it every day.

So many wonderful, unusual things have happened to me so far this year that I havent had time to note them down but I promise I'll backtrack in future blogs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Queenstown holiday

Just got back from a week in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. So much for bungy, skydiving, paragliding, parasailing, jetboating, etc,etc.... But do any of the participants dare to take a swim in the lake? Well, I did! I swam three times at 20 minutes a time, and three times at 10 minutes a time. And the ten minute swims were still nine minutes longer than anyone else. Most people who dared to even set a toe into the water, ran in, screamed, and ran out again. The lake is glacial and year around temp is, apparently, 11. I knew the second I stepped into the water that I could do it, and I'd worried for a long time that the water would be too cold. Naughty i-site office for telling me over a two year period that I wouldnt be able to swim in the lake because of the temp.

I also kayaked, hiked and biked. I get rather upset if I have to be tied into a kayak or handle one with pedals/rudder. So when I passed Pink Boat Charters on the Frankton/Queenstown track (opposite petrol station) and saw that they had little sit-on kayaks, I promptly chose a pink one to hire for a couple of hours. I was told if I fell out in the middle of the lake that hypothermia would set in in 20 minutes! Needless to say I stayed near the edge of the lake and I kept feeling for the bottom with my paddle.

My Manchester Unity holiday home had the most brilliant three-sided views. Only trouble was that the home was up steep Dublin Street. It was only about a four minute walk from the bus stop up the hill but, oh, what a hill!!!. I'm used to zig-zag paths, but this hill was straight up. I cursed every day. What is better, I wonder? - being on the flat with no view or on a hill with a tremendous outlook. I could've taken a taxi from town (about a fifteen minute walk away) at about $12 to get home at the end of each day, but that would have felt like cheating.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eketahuna holiday

What is it about Eketahuna that makes kiwis laugh when the name is mentioned? The place seems to be aligned with The Back of Beyond, Timbuktu, Beyond the black Stump, in the wop-wops .... I figure it's because Eketahuna is, surely, the representative kiwi small-town. Every tourist should see the area.

I love staying at The Cottage, Eketahuna, in the Wairarapa. It's tiny (one bedroom with a double bed, but there is a fold-out sofa in the lounge). There is a swimming hole in front of The Cottage, and I usually swim three or four times a day there. Wonderful!

The Cottage is by car 25 minutes from Masterton, 8 minutes to the Eketahuna shops, 4 minutes to a model railway, 1 or 2 kilometres to Highway No 2, and all but next door to Mt Bruce (wild life centre). The first time I went to The Cottage, I stood on the verandah, open-mouthed. Surely, the best micro-view in New Zealand.

From that verandah, all you can see are trees, river, hills, sheep and cows. All you can hear is the babbling river (it truly does babble), the occasional baa-ing and moo-ing of sheep, and the beautiful singing by birds. With permsision from the farmer owner of The Cottage you can hike the property, as long as you don't rustle sheep and please remember to close all gates. The views from behind The cottage are spectacular. I was out hiking and the farmer on quadbike with dogs, herded about a hundred thundering sheep toward me. I rushed through a gate just in time but the farmer called out "They would have run around you!"