Thursday, December 27, 2012

Jellyfish at Hataitai Beach

This afternoon, I peered intently at the water at Hataitai Beach, Wellington.   Yesterday and the day before there'd been jellyfish there.  The water looked clear today and it was so beautiful to look at.  Absolutely flat, I felt I could almost walk on it.  So, I shook off all my jellyfish fears and jumped in.  Well, I waded actually, it was sort of low tide. 

"Oooh, yes, this is lovely."  I swam lazily, aiming for the fourth tree across the bay.  The fourth tree is my turning point.  I kicked a jellyfish.  Yiick.  Oh, well, it was just one.  I turned back again, not a sign of any more jellies.   I got back to the starting point at the bottom of the stairs.  I was back in happy mode again.  I could do umpteen more widths.  But then - yeeeechhh! - I actually grasped a saucer sized transparent jellyfish.

That was it.  With a girlie shriek, I fled the water.   Fast!   

Let's hope The Invasion of the Jelly Monsters will be over in a day or two.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Matamata Hobbiton

There's a scene at the end of "Return of the King" where the hobbits are coming home.  They go through a narrow cut-out path in a grassy bank.  There's a view of a hill in the background with Frodo's house and the 'party tree', as well as the tree above Frodo's burrow (this is the only fake tree in 'Hobbiton').  It's a real iconic scene and is used again in the trailer and film of "The Hobbit".  The 'path' was cut through the grass bank for LOTR, paved, rock-sided, filmed, then filled up again when the land was left pristine for the farmer after the trilogy was completed. The path was opened up again for "The Hobbit".  

It was such a treat for me to be at 'Hobbiton'.  I'm so glad now that it's now being kept intact for the public.  NZ sure needs the tourist dollar, and as tourist dollars go, it's quite cheap to go to 'Hobbiton' in Matamata.   Look what happened in Tunisia (was it?) where they filmed 'Star Wars'.  Tourists have been going there for many. many, many years.  Some cynical reporters say that surely nobody is interested anymore in LOTR scenes and we should stop flogging a dead horse.  What rot.

Christmas Day 2012

Hi there.   My goodness, wasn't Christmas Day in Wellington hot?  (and I do mean the weather).   29c.  It was the second to hottest Wellington Christmas day ever.  The hottest Christmas day had been in 1934 apparently.  I went for a swim at 9 a.m.  Then I went for another swim at 5 pm and Hataitai Beach was positively crowded.  People were trying out their new bikes, kayaks, paddle boards.  I drove to the beach via Oriental Bay and I could hardly see a gap in the sand, there were so many people.

On Boxing Day it was 27c, and  I did the same thing -   I went for a swim in the morning and another one later in the afternoon.  I figured that  by 3 pm, I probably wouldn't get a park at Hataitai Beach - I wished my foot was better and that I could have walked there - so instead I drove over the hill behind my place, to Worser Bay.  For years I used to swim at Worser Bay until they fashioned in the flax-covered dunes.  Because of those stupid dunes, picnic-goers who want a sea view are now scrunched into one little end of the beach, quite a way from the changing sheds.  The water is colder at Worser Bay than at Hataitai Beach because it' s more outer harbour.  But I relished in the colder water yesterday.  Oh yes, jellyfish at Hataitai Beach (one slithered over my leg) and also, too, Oriental Bay.  The saucer-sized transparent ones.   Apparently they were about on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year, too.  Hope they're gone soon.

So much for all the pundits and forecasters saying for days that Christmas Day was going to to be storm-ridden, eh?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fifth Swim!

We've made it!  J and I have now done our "minimum of 5 swims per month for the year 2012"  Yippeee.  Including the winter, and in just bathing suits, not wet suits.  Easy peasy over summer months, a bit difficult over winter months trying to get those swims in - what with bad weather, holidays intruding, etc.  Today and yesterday the water at Hataitai Beach was truly nice.  And for the last couple of days we've seen a host of our summer friends.  What does annoy me however are the kayaks and paddle boards aplenty!  When I'm swimming I don't see them until they're almost on top of me.  Today, there was a four person kayak, three of the four on board were uncoordinated children.  I only got out of the way in time.

I was surprised the weather was so gorgeous this morning when there was supposed to be rain.  I could hardly wait to get to the beach with my sandwiches!  After my swim, the sun was out for about a half an hour and I was deep in a book.  When I looked up, I saw that there was a heap of mist that had rolled in through the airport and was crossing the water, heading toward Petone,  at a fast rate.  In the bottom picture, youi can see a sort of gap in the background hills.  This gap is called The Cutting and it leads in to the suburb of Miramar where I live in Wellington.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gandalf hat from "The Hobbit" premiere

At the world premiere of "The Hobbit" part 1" in Wellington last November, they threw out into the crowds, Gandalf hats.  They had the premiere name, date, etc on them.  I expect the other premieres around the world will have the hat thrown out, too, but with different dates and venues on them.  They are made from felt and they made beaut sunhats on the day.

I had my 4th swim for December at Hataitai Beach today.  I need five swims this month to make it a minimum of five swims a month all through this year.  Even if there's a hurricane, a typhoon, a tsunami, the worst, coldest storm in history every day until the end of December, I still have to get in one more swim, otherwise every swim this year, including all those terribly cold winter swims, will have been for naught.   Darn it, J has already done her five swims for this month.  We decided that this month only (being December when we didn't know if we could coincide with each other) we would be allowed to swim singly (rule book rule).

a) Wizard's Guide b) Jackson Christmas Tree

Hi there.  

a)  My friend, AJ (A. J. Ponder) has just had a children's book published.  It's called "The Wizard's Guide to Wellington".  The official launch isnt until February but there are several independent book shops around Wellington that already have the book, eg, Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie, and Rona Gallery/Bookshop over in Eastbourne.   Details can be seen at (though AJ has admitted that she's a little late getting details about the book onto the site.  She's had a crisis on the homefront and apologises).  Also on AJ's website are photos she took at the Red Carpet premiere for "The Hobbit.".   Her book is about two cousins who go gallivanting around Wellington on a magical quest.  Suitable for, say, 10 year olds (though I'm not a very good judge on children's ages, sorry).

b)  There's a big fir tree in the grounds of Peter Jackson's Miramar Peninsula house (I like to call it a  'compound', a la the Osmond and Jackson' brothers).  The tree's  loaded with light bulbs.  Every Christmas it's lit up and it's absolutely beautiful, all different cololurs.  I think you'd probably even be able to see it from the inter-island ferry.   As usual, I took the wrong camera out with me tonight, and it was all a little bit too dark;  I should have gone sooner.  But here's my best attempt. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Swimming today at Hataitai Beach

What a nice day.  26c, which is terrific for Wellington in December.  I went out to Westfield Mall in Lower Hutt, had a lovely time trying on loads of summer clothes.  A great Christmas atmosphere everywhere, however, very hard to find a parking place, even though I got to the Mall at 9.30 a.m.

Then I stopped off at Hataitai Beach and had a  leisurely swim.  Three of the summer regulars were there.  It's great to see my beach friends for the first time this summer.

It's my third swim at Hataitai for the month.  Even though I swam dozens of times when I was on holiday fhe first two weeks in December , J and I have agreed to only count Hataitai Beach and all points south of Wellington  in our "head count".  Northern beaches are warmer and if they were counted, it would be an unfair advantage to me, (darn!).  So, two more swims and we're both home and hosed - we will have done a minimum of 5 swims every month this year.  This obviously doesn't mean much in the summer but, oh boy - brrrhhhh - in the winter, I figure it's  sure something to be proud of.

Here's a couple of pix I took today at Hataitai Beach.  Schools knocked off today for the long summer holidays.


Seen "The Hobbit"

Last Friday, when I was staying at Ohope Beach, I rang my doctor in Wellington and made an appointment for Monday because the pain in my foot was getting worse.   On Monday the doctor told me to take a break from the gym for a time.  I was so upset that I stomped out of the surgery - well, actually, I didn't stomp, much as I would have liked to, instead I limped rather badly.   I went straight to the Roxy Theatre (owned by Weta people) and I saw "The Hobbit".  Comfort viewing.

What's all this talk about taking an hour to get used to seeing 40-something frames per something-or-other format?   (Am I great with technical language or what?),.  I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary re the film.  As a matter of fact, I truly enjoyed the first hour.  The only slight grating was our first long-distance view of the elfin city .  I thought "Oh, heavens, the Weta folk havent been very good with this background painting."  I even felt a touch embarrassed for them.  My friend later pointed out that it was nothing to do with Weta Workshop.  It was the 40-frame-thing-a-me-bob that was responsible for the 'painted background' look.  Who knows? ....

The movie went fast.  I even took my lunch in with me, but forgot to eat it and, believe me, cheese and chutney sandwiches are not easily forgotten.  About 10 minutes or so after the movie started, a guy a couple of rows in front of me appeared to stand up to go to the toilet.  I thought "Why couldn't he have gone earlier? He's blocking my view."  Turned out, the guy was coming out from the 3D screen!  Now that's cause for embarrassment ...

Much as I did enjoy the film, it seemed to lack the emotion that was in the LOTR trilogy.  Perhaps because it didn't have young, cheeky vibrant actors.  Also, it must be so very very hard to give personality to everyone when there's so many dwarves all striving to get camera time.  I wish we'd seen more of the deliciously handsome Aidan Turner (from the tv series "Being Human") and also James Nesbitt who, to me, is a true star.

"Gollum" was brilliant in this movie, 

When I went to Matamata about 18 months ago and saw the Hobbiton set, I took a pic of   a) the notice as we entered Hobbiton and  b) the map we were handed to find our way around.  We could go wherever we liked..

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My holiday at Ohope Beach

I've just returned from two weeks at Ohope Beach, a half a dozen or so kms from the township of Whakatane (where the infamous "Skyfall" movie viewing took place).  The weather was gorgeous.  Over the first week the temps were between 24c and 29c!  Great, for December.

I seemed to spend most of my time at Ohope a) eating strawberry sundaes with strawberries fresh from Julian's Berry Farm, b) eating oysters from Ohiwa oyster farm, and c) boogie-boarding. Oh, I also spent a lot of time hobbling around with my hiking stick. As I hobbled along the beach, I tried to pretend I was out for a jaunty hike, but I think passersby quickly caught onto the fact that I was using my stick like a drowning person would cling desperately to a life-raft. I'm used to walking a loooong way along Ohope Beach but this time I could only go at the most about 400 metres. It was so sad. One day, my heel was so bad that I took a chance and parked in a disabled parking spot outside the shopping complex - then I sat in my car and cried ... If I'd parked in the normal parking area it would have been about 20 extra paces; too much to walk.

Here's a pic taken at Mt Maunganui.  I took it from Main Beach, and you can see through to Pilot Bay at the end of the road.


I went over to Tauranga and Mt Maunganui for a day (about an hour and a quarter drive from Whakatane).  I swam at Pilot Bay, Mt Maunganui, which I like far better than the Main Beach.  Pilot Bay is a more 'swim-friendly' beach whereas Main Beach is all about surf, bikinis and preening.  However I did enjoy sitting outside a nice posh cafe at The Mount and watching  all the beautiful people go by.

(I havent seen "The Hobbit" yet.  It was on in Whakatane but I didnt know if the theatre there had the right equipment to watch the movie in all it's glory so I will go this coming week in Wellington  Besides I didn't want to be covered in popcorn or have to tell randy teenage boys off for various unnamed theatre antics!).

These top two photos are of Main Beach, Mt Maunganui.

The above pic is of the view of part of MaraeTotara park from the deck of my Manchester Unity holiday home at Ohope Beach.  A children's playground in foreground.  The rental home is up for sale.  Hope it's not sold.

 A view from the Ohiwa Oyster Farm, just out of Ohope.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

sales assistants

What is it with sales assistants nowadays?  They used to come up to you and politely enquire "Can I help you?".  And you always answered, "I'm just looking, thank you."  Me, I always varied it a little to be different ... "I'm just looking FOR THE MOMENT, thank you."  I adored look of incomprehension that flitted across the sales assistant's face as he or she had to translate in their mind for a minute what I'd said because my answer was different from the norm.

Then a few years' ago everything changed.  Now we get asked, "How has your day been?" or "What have you been doing today?" or "Have you had a good day?"

I couldn't stand it any longer, this forced niceness.  I was in New Plymouth last year, fingering a red blouse on a rack, and the sales assistant said, "Have you had a nice day?"  

"No," I answered.  "I've just hiked 21 kilometres and I'm tired and grumpy."

"We have that red blouse in other colours, " she said. 

Goodness, she hadn't heard a word I'd said, so programmed was she.

I went into another shop.  "How has your day been?" asked the shop assistant.

"Well," I said.  "I woke up about 6 a.m., then couldn't decide between Kornies or Frosties.  Then, goodness, what outfit should I wear?  I debated for, oh, half an hour between a blue floral dress, and my denim jeans.  But the denim jeans had a tear in the hem, and ....."   I stopped and giggled.  The look of sheer horror on the assistant's face had been worth everything.    In the end we both laughed over it, but, heavens, I truly am tired of this "sales assistant niceness".

And while I'm at it, I hate the way sales assistants pick up on something you're wearing and go into raptures over it.

"Oh, I love your trousers ..... blouse ... shoes, bangle ...."  And this, perhaps, when nothing I'm wearing matches, I could have just painted my room and be paint-splattered and definitely  in my worst clothes.  In desperation, the sales assistant, when he/she can't find anything to clingo, they'll say something like , "Oh, your watch is so nice," when  I'm wearing my swimming watch - plain, old,  ,masculine, and black.  Don't the powers-that-be in the retailing sector realise the public are onto all this flannel?

When I was in Las Vegas last year, it all came to a head.  I was walking on one of the cross-over bridges.  There was a woman begger sitting there.  She shouted out to me as I passed, "What a lovely blouse!". 

Oh dear, apparently even the beggers now have retail sales motivation courses!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

at the pictures

When I was a kid living in Onehunga, we used to go to the pictures every Friday and Saturday. We called the movie theatre "The Bughouse", there was a weekly serial,  and often when we went to sit down there was no seat there!  People would take fish and chips into the theatre and, really, looking back now, it was a terrible place.  But we didnt know any beter

I thought I'd left those days way behind me.  But I went to the movies yesterday to see "Skyfall".  It was only about a 100 seater little theatre and it must have been a day off for kids finishing their school exams because there were about 20 youths sitting behind me.  All, I would guess, under the age of 16.    This theatre was not, repeat-not, my usual theatre, i.e. it was not the Roxy in Miramar.

By the end of the performance the three back row aisle steps were completely utterly positively covered in popcorn that had been thrown around; the carpet looked like snow.  One youth earlier had yelled out to his mates that he wanted to do a certain something to himself (actual wordage censored by me!).  Someone yelled out "Wait until the lights go down".

There was an adult and his wife sitting in front of me.  Half way through the man got up, crossed the aisle and told the lad opposite to stop doing something.  Previously the  lad had had both legs high up on the seat in front.   I can only imagine what he had been doing.

The boys didnt appreciate the story behind the film.  They only appeared to be there for the action sequences.  There is a glorious scene where Bond is tied up and the villain starts sensually fingering Bond's naked chest, neck, face.  The villain sexily says something like, "There's a first time for everything, Mr Bond.".  Bond answers something like, ""What makes you think it would be the first time."    Absolutely hilarious.  But the lads behind me had no understanding of what had just occurred.  It was up to me and the couple in front to snort in appreciation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Talent Quests

Well, I've just finished re-reading "ChartThrob" by Ben Elton, a book I truly like.  At the same time "New Zealand's Got Talent" has finished on TV One.  I switched in for the last five minutes of NZGT (I hadnt watched any of it before), just to see who had won.  And - surprise! - the three top people were all teens!  I guess that goes to show who does the voting.  Mind you, the song that the winner sang didn't seem too bad.  With the right publicity and marketing, I reckon it coulld possibly become an evergreen like "Yesterday".  Mind you, there doesn't seem to be that many verses.

The book "Chart throb" is about a show like NZGT, and it is truly hilarious in parts... and sad.    I don't think the main character is truly Simon Cowell, but I do think that Ben Elton has enlarged on a Simon Cowell-type  character.  I also don't truly believe that all the behind the scenes shennigans of "Chart Throb" are the same as NZGT, or any other talent show like "X Factor" or "American Idol" or whatever, but oh boy it is truly fascinating to find the lengths the Chart Throb show's producers will go to ensure an audience.

From the beginning, the Cowell character determines that Prince Charles will be an entrant.   And, my goodness, the public like HRH!  The second judge - dare I say a Sharon Osborne type person - is a male  rocker who has had a  sex change and  become a real mumsie type, ready to nurture any aspiring singer on the show.  The other judge is just there to do the bidding of his boss.  And what a host of entrants!

I read the library book several years ago, and a couple of weeks ago I saw it at a local thrift shop I dithered about getting it.  I went back an hour or so later and, darn it, the book was gone.  Still, I didn't give up hope and - kismit! - I found another copy at a thrift shop a few days ago.