Monday, July 30, 2012

Worrying Hataitai Beach Swims Coming Up

Tomorrow is August, getting very worried about our three Hataitai Beach swims in August, which is the coldest winter month.  Will we be able to do them?  I'm getting butterflies in my tummy just thinking about our required three swims a month.  Thinking back to June, it was cold or rained for three weeks, and J and I worried through most of the month that we were going to be cut down before we'd scarcely got into winter.
I remember proudly rabbiting on to a stranger late in June about how we "swim every month in the winter". The stranger politely enquired,  "And how many swims have you done so far this month?"  I had to sheepishly reply " Well ....  none."  Talk about cringe factor.  Thankfully not only did we manage to squeeze in our 3 swims for June but added some more.
We also worry over people in the newspapers who declare that they "swim every day".  How can this be true in a Wellington winter when there's gale-force winds, hail, pelting continous rain, ship-sinking waves, storm debris, etc.   We have declared these "swim every day" proclamations to be pure exaggeration (we hope).

Fingers crossed for The-Great-New-Zealand-Hataitai-Beach-three-swims-a-month (not quite Olympian) August dips to be a success.  Watch this space .....

Above is a nice view taken from the coastal walk that goes around the Miramar Peninsula (near to Peter Jackson's 'compound'.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Wellington Blown Away" sign

the "Wellington Blown Away" sign was erected this afternoon at the entrance to the Miramar Peninsula.  I stood watching for 3 hours and, boy, was it freezing cold.  My knees were like a couple of ice blocks.  But it was a bit ironic, the name of the sign, because there was no wind whatsoever to day in 'Windy Wellington'.  
I did disappear for 15 minutes at one stage.  I rushed home, had a cup of soup, donned a woolly hat, and rushed back.

W and E and L and another L and I and N were erected on high as single letters.  Then G and T and O and N were attached to a background lattice work, then the 'blown away' stipey-thingees were added.  Then after several rehearsals and three or four attempts when the letters were raised a bit, then lowered to the ground again, the whole thing was raised and the abseilers at the top of the framework were able to do their thing, i.e. attach the letters to the scaffolding.
The land is owned by Wellington Airport and they commissioned Weta Workshop to carry out the making of the sign.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Bad - plus meal at Valentines Restaurant

Okay, hands up all those people who spotted my mistake re my two extra 'August' swims in a recent post.   I meant to say "July" .  July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-July-    There, I've done it 100 times to reinforce the point  (What ?  You wanted a hundred lines?  Dream on ...).
I went to Valentines buffet in Petone for mid-winter lunch today.  Mmmmmmmmmm.  Plum pudding/ice cream/custard, turkey...  Their choices have truly improved.  The potatoes, broccoli, fish, cauli, potatoes are so much bigger than they used to be.  I  had an endless Zero Coke .  Now, don't titter:   huge fattening meal, accompanied by a no-calorie fizzy drink, I know it doesn't equate, right?  But  I only filled the glass once-and-a-half because I'm collecting the souvenir glasses and you get to keep them.
I'd been reading up on buffet ettiquette (for my forthcoming trip to Vegas) and I was surprised to discover that elbows are allowed on the table if you're leaning forward to listen intently or talking to someone across from you.  So my friend, C, and I 'rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarbed', along with our elbows on the table, delighting in the fact that our table ettiquette was now of the utmost perfection.  We only hoped the other diners were up to the play too, and that they didn't look on us as a very rude couple.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

fourth and fifth swim

Well, J and I had already done our three official swims (congrats-to-us!-congrats-to-us!) for August, but just because we could and we felt like it, we added two more.  As we came out of the water at Hataitai Beach after the fifth swim, we slapped out a hi-five in triumph.  We were thinking of  trying for a a sixth swim this month (goodness, we are such professionals)  but then we decided it would be too difficult afterwards to do a hi-six; I mean, four fingers, two thumbs, and we wouldn't look at all elegant.

Red Rocks Seal Colony, Wellington

Yesterday (Sunday) I went for a walk over to the seal colony at Red Rocks.  The actual coastal track is about a nice hour's amble each way, stopping to look at scenery, pat dogs, and talk to people.  It's completely flat except for a minute or two up a bit of an incline (see photo).  There is a wide-ish stream to cross when you get within a few minutes of the seal colony.  You used to have to spend ages hunting for a place to tippy-toe or jump across but now there is a plank of wood there to act as a bridge - it's at the hill end of the stream.

The track used to be a nice place to walk, but the actual walking is not enjoyable anymore so I don't know if I really want to do it again .  Over the years parts of the track have dropped and the holes and crevices have been filled with pebbles and stones.  Most of the track is now pebbles and stones and it's very hard on the feet.  I've finally worked out the difference between hiking and walking.  When you hike, you're continually looking down at your feet in case you trip over a root or a rock.

The seals come in to the colony from roughly about June to end of August.  They always seem to be snoozing.
When a seal coughs, they sound just like a human, and first I thought it was a guy who was standing beside me.  The cough is really eerie.
Best to do the walk on a Sunday when no cars are allowed there, and there are always loads of people.  Even without seeing the seals, it's a lovely populated Sunday walk. 
On other days four wheel drives or the seal colony bus tour are your best bets.
If you don't have a car, I  think there's a bus that takes you to Owhiro Bay, then you could walk to the entrance of the track which would maybe take about 20 minutes.  Or take a bus to Island Bay terminus and walk along the coast (pop in to the cafe that's half-way to Owhiro Bay - it's the 'in' place for Sunday brunch).  This walk will be, maybe 40 minutes to the entrance from Island Bay bus terminus.  You could always ring for a taxi at a any geographical point.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Weta Cave and Stone Street Studios, Miramar

I like living on the Miramar Peninsula in Wellington.  So many overseas people wander around Miramar nowadays, both tourists and film workers, and I love the buzz of it all.
As well as Weta Workshop, Weta Digital, Park Road Post (Production), and the Stone Street Studios (see bottom photo), we now have the Weta Cave.  This is an add-on to the Weta Workshop and sells everything Weta-orientated.  There's also a mini-museum of film props, and they show a wonderful (free) film about the growth of Weta.   If anyone is interested in going to the Weta Cave, just take a no 2 bus from town and get off one stop before the end, and even if you 'over-run', it's only a short walk back to Camperdown Road. 
There is a 'sculpture' of a Komodo Dragon outside the Weta Cave (peer closely at second photo). 
Ah-ha, it's not really a sculpture.  It's a mould of a Komodo Dragon that died at the San Diego Zoo.  Weta made one for themselves and one is now at the zoo.
After the Cave, walk a minute or so (towards the direction of the zig-zag path, but don't go up it, unless you want to do 'the short loop')  along Camperdown Road to Park Road.  On Park Road, you'll pass (see top photo) Park Road Post.  My fave game is trying to work out which window would belong to Peter Jackson.  Many buildings along the first half of this road belong to the movie industry, so keep an eye open for 'things happening' inside the old warehouses.
Keep walking for about ten minutes to the Miramar shops.  You'll find the Roxy Theatre.  Ask if you can go upstairs to look at the decor and any exhibition that might be happening.  Look at the ceiling art.
From the Roxy, turn right around the corner at the Indian restaurant, and walk a minute or so down Miramar Avenue  to New World Supermarket.  You're at Stone Street, home of director Peter Jackson's Stone Street Studios. 
Then trot back to the Miramar shops to catch a no 2 bus back to town.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bieber fever in NZ

Justin Bieber is in NZ today, and screaming girls are everywhere:  at his hotel, at the airport, running amok around the streets of Auckland.  How awful/terrible/atrocious/stupid can all this get?   Hey, ops, I've just remembered, I used to do exactly the same thing when I was a teen!  
I waited 8 hours at Wellington Airport to see The Beatles, climbed 5 floors up the Hotel St George's outside fire escape for Cliff and The Shadows (missing an important typing exam in the process), skipped work for Bobby Rydell, won Herman and his Hermits in a contest,  rushed up to the stage for Billy J Kramer (surely that wasn't why the concert was cancelled a quarter-way through?), chased after NZ's 'King of Rock'n'roll, Johnny Devlin - and got a piece of his (what I found out later was a special rip-apart) shirt, and at the behest of The Beach Boys' father/uncle, I started up a correspondence with him relating to the NZ music charts.  All in all, I met dozens and dozens of pop stars. 
To show that NZ wasn't a 'soft' place, I later proved my mettle in London when I managed to penetrate the ranks of thousands of fans and security guys outside and later inside the Royal Gardens Hotel, gaining access to the actual floor where The Monkees were partying (saw them, couldn't speak to them 'cause I was pretending I was a hotel guest and I'd wandered by mistake into their area).
So, how can I pooh-pooh the young people racing around after Justin Bieber?  Good luck to them.  These kids will  always remember Justin and the times with fondness.  In fifty years they, too, will be looking up "whatever happened to...." sites and reading about their lost idols.  I'm so glad I have had such fun teen memories to look back on.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Swimming in Ashes, Hataitai Beach

I was thinking about the various adventures I've had at Hataitai Beach.  About five or so years' ago, I drove past the beach on a not-so-spectacular summer's day.  I was in a hurry, but decideed to cram in a swim.  I leapt out of the car and shot to the changing sheds.  But, horrors!, there was a whole group of smartly-dressed people hovering on the platform beside the sheds where the steps lead down to the water.  These people were all a-giggle, eating canapes, and swigging from wine glasses.  This truly incensed me.  These .... These interlopers, these once-in-a-hundred-year party-goers were crowding my beach!  Once changed into my bathing gear, I pushed through the crowd, scowling at everyone, shot down the stairs, and into the water.
There were lots of white-ish blob-ish spotty things in the water by the steps but I thought nothing of it.  I was used to duck pooh, seaweed and assorted debris in the water.  I  swam fast,  looking at my watch frequently;  I truly was in a hurry.   I swam forward across the bay.   Backward across the bay.  Forward ...  Backward ...  10 laps.  5 times through the white/grey blobs in the water.
As I hurriedly clambered up the steps after my swim, still furious with all the party-goers, one of them, a cocktail-dressed woman, approached me.
"You're probably wondering what we're doing here?"
Well.  Duh.
"Our uncle died.  He loved this beach, and we're just scattering his ashes."
We both peered over the railing at the white blobs on the water.  The white blobs that I had swam through not once, not twice, not three or even four times, but five times!   And that's not even counting my 'seal rolls' that I like to do just before exiting the water. 
I threw myself into the changing rooms and didn't exit that shower for 20 minutes.  I went through practically a whole bottle of shampoo (I didn't have soap) attempting to clean myself. 

Here's a pic of  a Hataitai Bay boat-shed, that's only a few metres away from the changing rooms.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

my three worries about going to America

I'm off to Las Vegas soon, for two weeks.  I have three worries:
1  tipping
2  using a knife and fork
3  my accent
I get so flustered and embarrassed over tipping, haven't a clue how to do it or when to do it.  In NZ, one only ever tips at high class restaurants.  I used to tip in taxis, now I don't even do that because the drivers seem to get highly upset by the gesture.
Here's a photo of two Las Vegas 'showgirls' who were standing in the Fremont Street Mall.  I thought they were there to entice folk into a nearby casino and I took their photo.  They bore down on me and demanded a tip.  I paid them.  One of the showgirls was an Australian.

I also get embarrassed over using a knife and fork because I eat the 'European' way, ie mashing everything onto the fork by aid of the knife, unlike the Americans who always look 'dainty' as they fork up their food, knife sitting on the edge of the plate.  I feel everyone in an American restaurant is looking at me and thinking I'm uncouth.  Mind you, I read that the reason food-choking is so high up the American scale for death is because they don't cut their food pieces small enough.

My last embarrassment?  I hate talking in shops, restaurants, to others when I'm in the States because my accent makes me stand out.  I always think I'm going to be 'ripped off' because of it.  Wish I could act out an American accent.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Miramar All Blacks Sign

Well, after me posting a photo of the "All Blacks" sign a a few days ago, today it appears that, within the week, the sign is coming down.  "Wellington Blown Away" (official name) is to take its place.  This means it will just be the word "Wellington" but the last few letters will look as if they are blowing away with the wind.  Wellington is, of course, known as "Windy Wellington". 
Originally, the sign was going to be "Wellywood" - such bad taste.  The signs are made by Weta Workshop (multiple academy award winners).  The new sign should be up within the week.
Here's a pic of part of the Miramar Peninsula.  It's very unusual to see horses on the peninsula.  I can only think that they're kept in a field at the top of the hill (where up until a few days ago Peter Jackson was filming village scenes for "The Hobbit", part 2 - incidentally, A's daughter has been an extra on the set for something like 28 days).

Well, my "it-isn't-a-cold-it's-just-through-spraying-the-garden sore throat has now turned into a full blown head cold.  Feeling sorry for myself and eating so much ice cream and honey that A, my health-food conscious friend is horrified by what I'm putting into my mouth.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day, the tide was right, and J was obviously all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, aching to get in another swim, but I had to back off because of my cold.  I feel awful about this.  J, you can go in by yourself, if you want.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Third swim for July 2012 DONE!

Today we did our third swim for July at Hataitai Beach, and the date is only the 11th!  Ostensibly, we can rest back happily now, until August.  We've done our chosen quota.
But - wait! - J is getting all bright-eyed and wondering if, maybe ... perhaps .... we could go for four official  swims.   That's 4.  fourrrrrrrrr?????????****#!!  We've done at least four every month so far this year, so why stop at three, she reckons?   I'll tell you why, J.  Because it's now flippin' cold!  And July and August (and not forgetting that terrible September of two years ago) are TRULY cold.   We could come down with pneumonia, or hyperthermia, or have heart attacks.  Or .... Or ....  Oh ..... okay, count me in.  Darnit ......

second swim for July 2012

Well, after our gym session yesterday, the weather was right, the tide was right, we were right, our astrological star signs were right, so we .... went for a swim.  Our second for July.  Only one more to do and we've beaten the beast for this month.
J has this 'thing' about we have to swim up to alongside the third seat on the shore before turning around and doing the reverse swim.  But neither of us have good eyesight and in winter the shadows from the hill and the trees block our vision a lot.  So when we reach  the end of the bay, we sort of tread water and dither, and giggle, and yell out variations of "Are we there yet?" to each other.  Often we go well past the seat.  We probably add an extra minute to our time.  An extra minute can be hell in the middle of winter when the air and water temperatures are really cold.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

zig-zag walkways

About ten years' ago I went on a Wellington City Council guided walk entitled "Zig-zags of the Miramar Peninsula'.  I've been on many strenuous bush-hikes in my life (the worst one being the 'straight-up the hill' hike behind Akaroa in the South Island, with a 28c temp), but this "zig-zag path" walk totally scrubbed out all  my get-up-and-go.  I mean, it was pure hell.  By the end of about our tenth zig-zag, we were all crying for mercy. Up and down ... Up and down ... Up and down ...
Since this time, I have become quite acclimatised to Miramar zig-zags and force myself when I'm out walking, to include several at a time (but never as many as I did on that infamous day with the WCC guide).
My zig-zag nemisis is the Houghton Tce zig-zag to the west of Lyall Bay Beach (you can see it from the beach road).  I used to have to stop every now and then as I forced myself to traverse it, cursing all the time.  Now, proudly, I can climb up without stopping, the supreme test on any zig-zagger.
Here's my challenge: -  retirees, just do it!   Younger fitter folk, you can do and 'up', and a 'down', and an 'up' again... without stopping.
In the photos of the Lyall Bay Houghton Tce zig-zag below, I've missed out several of the zigs and the zags.  Adjacent to the steps at the beginning of the climb, you can see a private 'cable car' put in by the owners who live beside the steps.  The last photo is at the top of the zig-zag.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

1st swim for July - darn cold afterwards!

We did our first swim for July today.  It was cold and to make matters worse I had a sore throat and a bit of a cough;  I didn't feel I could go to 'gym' because of it and so I stayed home.  However ......     Yeah, yeah, I shouldn't have hopped out of bed to go for the swim but J and I had to get it out of our systems and once we say those fatal words, "let's go and look at the water", the deal is all but set in stone.
And talking about 'stone', I think I've broken a tooth on a jelly baby - they should be called concrete babies!  Dentist on the agenda.
I was warm after a half an hour or so of getting home from my swim, but after eating about a full litre of ice cream (sore throat, remember?), I suddenly became so cold I took to bed in socks, tights, nightie, sweater and the heater on full blast.
Changing subjects:  I truly love the Miramar Peninsular (I've noticed that shops around the 'peninsula' spell the word in different ways).  I adore walking around it,  The peninsula starts at Miramar Wharf opposite the 'All Blacks' sign put up on the hill by Weta Workshop,  passes Scorching Bay, cuts across Seatoun village to the Pass of Branda,  goes through Breaker Bay, and finishes at Lyall Bay.   There are also lots of tracks and zig-zags, but more about them in a future blog.