Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Swim for 2014

Hi there.  As I type this, it is 6.15 pm, on the night of New Year's Day 2014

I went for a swim this morning - 1 January -  at 8 a.m at Worser Bay Beach (I'd promised J that I would not do an early morning swim at Hataitai Beach without her).  I had intended to swim earlier, like 7.am., but I didn't wake up until 7.30 a.m. 

There was hardly a soul about as I drove over the hill from Miramar to Worser Bay.  The few people that I did see were done up in heavy windbreakers, and were walking their dogs.

Not to be outdone on New Year's Day, J shot down to Hataitai beach, with her long-suffering driver,  later in the morning.  We do so hate to out-do each other.  Then it rained.

Yesterday, was glorious at Hataitai Beach.  A lot of our friends were there and we all had a lovely time.  J passed the 2013 "at-least-4-swims-a-month" swimming cup on to me for 6 months, until it's her turn to have it again.  Goodness.... we are so silly.... 

It's hard to believe that the northern hemisphere is in winter, with terrible weather, floods, storms, snow...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thoughts on a journey from Mt Maunganui

Hi there

I returned from holiday a week ago.  I nearly didn't make it back.  I couldn't find my way out of Mt Maunganui.  I figure it might have been a time-vortex-thingee.  Or an alien dome above the town?    Perhaps it was like in "The Village of the Damned" (book: "The Midwich Cuckoos") and all the female inhabitants would wake up tomorrow pregnant with blonde-haired alien babies in their tummies?

I'd been sitting in the driveway of my rented Mt Maunganui holiday home, all set to leave The Mount for my home in Wellington.  I'd plugged my satellite navigation system into the car's cigarette lighter and.... phhhhhtttt!.  The radio/clock/cassette player and, worse, the satnav, all gave up the ghost.  Okay, yes, yes, I know -  I should have thrown out my cassette player decades ago, but I have every audio book in the Harry Potter series, most of the  'Torchwood' audio books, and loads of others on cassette.  My car is now the only place I can play them.

I digress...  I finally penetrated a pesky Mt Maunganui force field, and to keep my brain alert and aware, and no radio to keep me awake ...  I sang.  For an hour or so I raked up songs with place names in them.  For the following couple of hours it was songs with girls' names in the title.  Then, it was Christmas carols.  My self-imposed  requirement being that I had to sing at least two lines of any song, otherwise it didn't count.

All the way from Waikanae to my home in Miramar (over an hour), I endeavoured to come up with every word from "Away in a Manager", a seemingly impossible task, seeing that the last time I'd sung it, I had been in Sunday School.  I'm now a senior citizen.

Still, a good job well done.  I survived the trip.   And my garage-man fixed the blown fuse.  He said he was too busy to invoice me and just to give him beer money.  I don't nowadays drink (not because I'm a prude;  I just don't like the taste of alcohol, I always want a lollie afterwards).   I had no idea how much cash to give him.  I hoped $10 was okay.  How terrible if beer is now something like $100 a glass.  Or it could be $1 a glass.   Did I hit a happy medium (as the boxer said about the cheerful spiritualist)?

Oh, here's another picture of Hataitai Beach on Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We wish you a merry Christmas, fa-la-la-la - 4th swim done!

Hi there

Christmas Day as I type this (4.30 pm NZ time).  My friend nd I went for a buffet Christmas lunch and it was pretty dire.  Still, I didn't have to cook it myself so that's a definite bonus.  The potatoes were so tough, I couldn't knife them apart, the crackling would have broken my teeth if I'd eaten it, there was more stuffing than turkey, there was a crack in the bottom of my drink glass, and I squirted the ice cream machine all over me when I used it.  I used to work in health, and I know that when snow freeze ice cream squirts out all drippy and milk-like you must not eat it because it is bacteria-ridden.

On the way back from the restaurant, I stopped off at Hataitai Beach.  I was filled to the brim with turkey, trifle, salads, lamb, ham, mince pies, pavlova, Christmas cake, etc, etc, etc...  I felt like one of those Russian dolls with the rounded bases - when you knock them over, they bounce back up again.  Or, worst case scenario, if I got knocked over I would stay on the ground, unable to get up.

I only hoped that when I was in the water I wouldn't plummet down under the waves with all the Christmas weight I was carrying.  But no, everything was okay.  The water was very warm and I got in my 4th swim for the month, so accreditation where accreditation is due.  J and I can now say we swam a minimum of 4 swims a month throughout the year at Hataitai Beach.  And, all of those swims in our bathing suits.  There was a woman swimming past me today, in a wet suit and she said "Isn't the water cold?"

"Whaaat?  I'm finding it warm, actually," I answered her.

I did 20 mins today because I was in a hurry.  The wet suited woman lasted 10 minutes.  So, the coldness of the water is obviously in the skin of the beholder, or something like that....

Here are some pics of Hataitai Beach that I took about half an hour ago.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Third swim down.....

Hi there

Today, at noon, I made third swim at Hataitai Beach for the month.  It was the start of the kayaks and canoes, and LiLos, and paddle boards, and boogie boards.  Come Boxing Day, I guess there will be double the amount of Christmas presents on the water...  Today,there was even a single-person outrigger.  A teen girl was attempting to paddle the outrigger away from the shore.  She got just past me in the water and yelled back over her shoulder to her older brother, "Oh, my goodness, how do I turn this thing....?"

And I was only a hop, skip and a few breast-strokes away from her!   I started to plot my escape plan.  Would I dive under the outrigger?  Would I  try to make it to the shore?  Would I tread water and panic?   Luckily, she'd given up paddling and was drifting.  Her brother shouted directions from the shore and swam out to get to her.  

The weather forecast for the next five days is for a lot of rain.  I only have till the end of December to get in that elusive fourth swim.  Cross fingers for me.

Oh, a Hataitai Beach regular reported  that occasionally, during her 3 pm swim, she struck the odd teeny-tiny jellyfish.   Whoops....   I hate swimming amongst these harmless jellyfish.  You feel them every minute or so and they're sort of squishy against your body.  J assures me these are only the newborn adventurous jellies and are sort of the advanced guard.  She says that thousands of mummy and daddy jelly-fish will be following over the next few days.   What a little ray of sunshine my friend J is...?

Here's a pic of Pilot Bay, where I went swimming most of the time I stayed at Mt Maunganui.  That's Mt Maunganui in the background.  It's a lovely easy and scenic 45 minute walk around the base of the mount.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hataitai Beach: Swim 2 for December completed

Hi there
Yesterday, Friday, I got in my second swim at Hataitai beach since my return from holiday up north  (well, I actually got in two swims, but only one counts in the overall tally for the year, darn it!).  According to our 'committee' rules I have to get in a minimum of 4 swims a month for this year.  Even though I swam 28 times in the first two weeks of  December, none of those swims count.  The swims for official recognition have to be at Hataitai Beach or anywhere south... the seas north are warmer, and the seas south are colder.  Oh, who made these stupid rules?  Wait, I remember, it was ... us!   Oh, J and I can be so cruel to each other.

Whilst I was away, J got in her four swims, so she's in line for official year-end recognition and is she letting me know about it.? Yes, yes, J - I appreciate that you've completed your minimum quota for this month, and I haven't.  You don't have to go on ... and on .... about it.

Okay, so I have to cram in 2 more swims before 30 December or I will forfeit every swim I've done this year, including all those frighteningly cold winter swims.  I will be so jolly cross if I don't make it.   Let there be no never-ending storms, or too-full-Christmas-tummies, or illnesses, or Christmas shopping, or anything else liable to get in the way of these two upcoming elusive swims at Hataitai Beach.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Hobbit 2 movie, 2013

Hi there

I didnt go and see Hobbit 2 whilst I was away because I thought I'd wait and catch it in the state of the art theatre in my suburb, Miramar - the Roxy Theatre that's owned by the Weta guys.   On opening night they had a Roxy Desolation Party for Red Carpet Tours, the tour group that takes tourists around NZ looking at places LOTR-ish.  Just look up facebook for photos from the evening.

The Weta people put some absolutely-immense-giant eagles up high by the ceiling at Wellington Airport to commemorate Hobbit 2.  The Gollum character is still up there from last year.  I trotted down to the airport this morning and had a nosey.

It's an awful pic of me but it's the only one I have to show you how big the birds are and how high up they are.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm singing in the rain, lah-de-de-dah

Hi there

Years ago, I was on a Wellington City Council walk and it started to rain.  One walker pulled out an umbrella and we others all sniggered at how city-fied this was and we were made of sterner stuff.  An umbrella?  Phfft...  We were Hikers-with-a-capital-H.  No sissy umbrellas for us.  The upshot being that we got wet  and the umbrella-carrying lady walked out of the bush almost as dry as she'd walked into it.

Well, I persuaded a friend to tag along with me for the week at Ohope Beach this month.  We decided to hike an hour's hill track behind Ohope.  

After much panting and puffing and stopping to pretend to look at the view when really we were catching our breaths but wouldn't let on to each other about how knackered we were.... we reached the top of the hill.   I felt a droplet of water.  And another.

Then more.

And more.

My friend hadn't brought any wet weather or warm gear with her. 

I burrowed in my backpack and passed her my  (urban) raincoat.  I well-remembered the WCC walk and kept the little folding umbrella for myself.  Gosh, I'm a mean person....

My friend didn't say much out loud but I'm sure in her mind she was cursing.  My raincoat was just a nylon job and the rain got through it in minutes.  It trickled into the sleeves and down inside the collar.  And the puddles under our feet changed into boggy swamps.  We slithered and slipped and took turns clinging to my hiking stick going down the steep slithery bits.

My friend plonked her soaking wet self into the car afterwards.  A true drowned rat. 

 I hardly had a spot of rain on me.  So here's the hint.  Regardless of what your macho friends might say .... when you go out hiking always please, for my sake,  carry an umbrella....  Oh, and here's another hiking hint: never plaster moisturiser on your face prior to going out. I spent most of my Ohope hill hike, wiping my face with the hem of my t-shirt.   Moisturiser and sweat just do not mix. 

Below is a picture of a woman walking her cat through the water at Ohope Beach (I took the photo a couple of years ago).  The cat loved its daily paddle.  The woman told me that she would sometimes tie the cat to a bucket  while she was hunting for shellfish.  One day the woman looked up froim her foraging to see a big dog belting along the sands, followed by her charging cat tugging a bucketfull of shellfish in its wake.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas in Whakatane and Te Puke

Hi there
Whilst I was away I chanced upon the annual Christmas Parade in Whakatane.  What a change from the big budget Auckland or Wellington Christmas Parades where money seems to be no object. 

The small town Whakatane Christmas Parade was composed mainly of little children bundled onto utility trailers that were being towed by tractors or 4 wheel drives. There was a lot of tinsel and balloons.. 


I stopped at small town Te Puke.  Their postie certainly delivers the mail in Christmas style.

I do love Whakatane and Ohope Beach.  I stayed right next to the beach at Ohope and chugged over the hill (about 5 minutes) to shop at bigger Whakatane.

Here's a pic of me just before starting off, with a friend on a hill hike in Ohope.  I loved the idea of being a wandering kiwi.  And yes, - YES! - my heel is 99.9% better.  Whoopeee......

No, I am still alive .... and kicking!

Hi there

Oh dear, I hope you missed me.   I went to Whakatane/Ohope Beach and Mt Maunganui for a two week (and a bit) holiday.  I left, fully confident that I could breeze into the Whakatane Library and write my blog, being the seasoned professional blog-writer that I am.  But, goodness, heavens to Betsy, OMG, I discovered that Yahoo had been compromised and was down for practically the whole week I was in Whakatane.  When it came back on line, it wouldn't let me through to write my blog because I needed to change my password and I hadnt a clue how to do it.   So.... I gave in... and just enjoyed my holdiay.  I did suffer occasional sharp pangs of anguish that my readers might have thought I'd died.

More about my holiday tomorrow.  I've only returned home about ten minutes ago and you - my four readers - were the first people I thought about contacting.

Forgive me......

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Weta Workshop, Richard Taylor

Hi there

Here's a story I have told before but there is now a little add-on to it.

A couple of years' ago, I was walking around Miramar, Wellington, and approaching Weta Workshop,  From a distance I saw someone hard at work cleaning the gutter, complete with spade and wheelibin.

"Poor guy," I thought, "The Wellington City Council have got him working on a Sunday."

I got closer and I saw that there was a 'Weta' sticker on the bin.

"Poor guy," I thought.  "Weta have got him working on a Sunday."

I got closer and saw that ... it was Richard Taylor!  The Richard Taylor.  Yep, nice guy Richard Taylor, everyone-adores-him Richard Taylor.  Boss of Weta Workshop Richard Tayor, the bloke who along with Peter Jackson, Jamie Selkirk, and Tania Rodger, had the guiding hands behind the"Lord of the Rings" movies.

And he was cleaning the gutter?

He told me that Sundays was the only day he could get at the gutter because cars were parked there all the other times.

The add-on bit I was telling you about is ...  My friend, AJ, is a teacher.  In class one day a teen boy had dropped some litter on the ground and didn't bother to pick it up.  AJ trotted out my Richard Taylor/wheelie bin story ending up with, "...so even Richard Taylor isn't above picking up rubbish."

The suitably-chastised kid picked up his litter.

I took this photo on the day Prince Charles visited Weta Workshop.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A day at Hataitai Beach

Hi there
It was a sunny, warm, blue-skies time at Hataitai Beach last weekend.  Many of my beach friends had turned up and half-a-dozen of us were sitting on the deck silently contemplating the newly-painted wall of the changing shed.  The graffiti had been nicely covered up with what appeared to be a blacker paint than before.

Another of our number dripped out from the sea.    She looked at us looking at the wall.  "Watching paint dry?" she asked interestedly.

Our dripping friend is an actress and stage director.  She's pretty well up with one-liners.

When J and I are lazily swimming, having what we call our 'committee meetings', our subjects can be deeply serious, or very light-hearted.

On this day, we got to talking about national dances.  J originally came from England and she was moaning over the fact that, at school, the class were forced to dance around the may pole, holding dangling ribbons, with boys going one way, and girls the other.  I commiserated with her.  At my school we'd only been in to skipping rope.

Our minds wandered across to Irish dancing.  J tried to demonstrate the-arms-at-the-side-while-you-dance thing that is a big part of Irish dancing, but this proved difficult whilst treading water.

"Morris dancing is bad enough," she said.  Oh, the subject was back to England.   I agreed with J that Morris dancing wasn't overly-macho. 

"All that hankie waving and bells-on-toes ..."   She ruminated, "I wonder who Morris was ....?"

And we were off again.  Suggestions rampant


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Beach friends meet-up.. Plus... Hobbit 2

Hi there
Yesterday (Saturday NZ time) was a truly lovely warm cloudless day in Wellington.  Many of my summer friends turned up at Hataitai Beach and we chatted nineteen-to-the-dozen about the winter months.  It is so great to see folk that you havent seen since last summer.   Everybody agreed the water was warm-ish and those whose first time it was swimming this season got in with barely a whimper.  We've given up counting swims for this month, J and I have had so many of them.  Today, I'm a fraction sunburnt.

.The Wellington City Council have already painted over yesterday's graffiti that was on the changing shed's wall  There was a 'wet paint' notice but, as everyone knows, of course, when such a notice is on display nobody, repeat nobody, can resist some finger touching.

I see that Red Carpert Tours, the tour group that takes tourists around NZ searching out everything related to the "Lord of the Rings" movie will be having an exclusive dress-up night at the Roxy Theatre in Miramar next month, immediately prior to the midnight screening of Hobbit 2  (I still can't pronounce or spell 'Desolation" or "Smaug" - I had to look up the spelling just now).  What's the betting that some high-ups from the movie will be guests that night?

That reminds me, when I drove past Mt Ruapehu a couple of months ago, the mountain just looked so beautiful.  All snowy, pristine, wintery.  Mt Ruapehu stood in for Mt Doom in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hataitai Beach Changing sheds...graffitied!

Hi there

It's so sad that there are folk who don't mind ruining other peoples' enjoyment of things.  The changing sheds at Hataitai Beach have been graffiti-fied.  And they were only freshly painted for the summer.  J's loved one was sitting against the shed wall whilst we were swimming this morning (Friday NZ time), and J and I kept making jokes about how he was responsible for it all, and where had he hid his spraycan?   The Wellington City Council tell me they are on to it ....

Luscious ladies wearing stripes

Hi there
I was in an upmarket shop some time back and I spotted a sign attached to a rack of dresses: "For Luscious Ladies", the sign read.  So much nicer than many signs that announce "For the Fuller Figure".

Up until last November when I hurt my foot I was borderline 'luscious'.  Then I couldn't walk much for a year - all I could do was eat and sulk - and now I am most definitely 'luscious'.   And isn't it a delightful word?  Doesn't 'luscious' conjure up visions of Marilyn Monroe, and Jane Russell, and, Ava Gardner and, Betty Grable and,well, I guess all those fuller-figured lovelies from the fifties?

I was watching a tv programme last month and the news guy announced that for years the fashion boffins had been wrong and it had now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that wearing  horizontal stripes did not - repeat, not -  make a person look fat.  Quite the reverse, in fact.

What?  Stripes will make me look .... thinner???  

I rushed out and bought two stripey tops.  And do you know what?  I think they're working.  I suddenly feel all svelte and slinky. 

Makes sense, too, because now that I think about it, I can't recall ever having seen an overly-rotund zebra..

Picture of zebras gathered at the edge of a river in Tanzania
national geographic picture

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

new Air New Zealand television commercial

Hi there

I've just seen the new Air New Zealand Middle Earth television commercial.  It's centred around the second Hobbit movie and coincides with the film opening next month.


I'm probably wrong but it appears to have been filmed at Queenstown Airport.

Oh, J and I have well completed our minimum number of swims for Hataitai Beach in November.  Today our old friend, Dressing-Gown Man, was at Hataitai Beach.  It's nice to meet our beach buddies again every summer.  Today was very warm and I loved it at the beach.

There were, maybe, half a dozen people in the water, but practically all of them were standing thigh-high in the sea and chatting away.  I've noticed this phenomenon over the last few years at various beaches around the country.  Hardly anyone actually swims anymore.  A lot of folk like to run like mad into the sea, do a fast dive into the water, swim overarm for half a dozen strokes, then... that's it.  They stand and talk doing the thigh-high-in-the-water thing, or hare back to the shore.

Here's a recent pic of my little Wednesday dog, Coco.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oriental Bay, Wellington, New Zealand (plus NZ's Got Talent)

Hi there

Wellington is famous for not only the wind, but its hills, too.  Tourists often wonder about how houses are built in such precarious positions.  I think we resemble San Francisco a great deal.   I believe people in San Francisco call their beautiful old houses Painted Ladies.  We have lots of Painted Ladies around Wellington.  My favourite ones are in Oriental Bay.

A friend's husband is on New Zealand's Got Talent semi-finals tonight (Sunday NZ time) and can be voted for up until Monday night - details on TVNZ's NZGT websiite or KurtX.com.  He is KurtX and plays a re-adjusted harmonica.  He will also be performing tomorrow Monday 18 Nov 12.30-1.30 pm outside Telecom, 50 Willis street.

Oriental Bay.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Walking to the Sunday Markets

Hi there

Now that my heel only hurts about 10% of the time, I'm back to gentle walking.  I've had my plantar fasciitis one year exactly.  Unhappy anniversary to me.

There was a bit of a glitch last weekend.  I decided to walk over Mt Victoria to the Sunday food markets that are right next to Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand.   I used to do this walk at least once a week prior to my bad heel.  Takes about an hour.

This time, however, I didn't know how well my heel would hold up, so I decided to drive my car as far as Evans Bay (3 kms from Miramar where I live) , and walk from there.  I would bus back to my car from the markets.

I was as happy as a kid in muck on both the walk and the exploration of the markets.

I caught the bus home and didn't think to look in my garage till the following morning when - horrors! - who had stolen my car?

Yes, alright, you've figured it out.......  I'd forgotten I had left my car at Evans Bay!  The sitcom queen struck again. 

Alzheimers, anyone?

Sunday market:  Te Papa Museum in background

Chaffers Apartments posh-nosh markets (in the old Herd Street Post Office building) about100 metres from the vegetable market 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why are t-shirts made soooooo looooooong?

Hi there

Here's one of life's most important questions?  Why do manufacturers of t-shirts make them so long?  Souvenir T-shirts, especially?

The first time I went to America on an extended trip, I desperately wanted to buy souvenir t-shirts.  In the end, I left the States without buying even one   I'd tried on dozens.   It wasn't because the shirts weren't cute/pretty/colourful/or symbolic, it was because all the t-shirts were far too long for me.  They were either modelled for giraffe-like super-models.  Or men.

I am, in old language, 5ft 1in.  I used to be 5ft 2in - I guess you grow shorter as you grow older...

On my last trip to America, I was determined to buy a Las Vegas shirt.  I settled on one from the upmarket souvenir shop at the MGM Grand.  A blue shirt with a glittery multi-coloured lion's head on it.  I had sneakily tried this particular shirt on the year before and abandoned it because of length.  It came down to just below my knees.  This time, I determined to make it shorter.  I would cut off about six inches, then re-hem it approximately another two.

But I am so tired of chopping off bottoms of  t-shirts and having to re-hem them (sloppily) by hand.   Over the past couple of years, there have probably been about 7 shirts in total.   To add insult to injury, I can't sew.  I sort of do an uneven back-stitch tacking sort of thing and I get completely lost whenever I reach a seam.  At school, my mother did my Clothing homework for me, and she got 2 out of 20 from the teacher for the attempt at  pyjamas!

Oh, and it's dresses, as well.  In the shop, the hem often flounces around me on the carpet  and it looks like I'm standing in a puddle.  If I chopped off the ankles of trousers, I would lose all sorts of added prettiness, like buttons, ribbing, cuffs, bands, designwork..

Well, no more.  You hear me, you manufacturers' of  t-shirts?   New Zealand, America, Hong Kong - I don't care where you come from or where I purchase your t-shirts.   Short ladies (and surely there's more of us than sky-high models of 6ft tall) are on the verge of revolting.

I can be very revolting when pushed..

Here's the MGM shirt that I have chopped the bottom off, quite jaggedly I admit with rather blunt scissors, then hemmed up not-too-well.   I'm too ashamed to let you see the stitching.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Those bleepin' security bleeps in shop doorways....yet again!

Hi there

Yesterday was Thursday.  Thursdays are when the Farmers Department Store usually have their sales. 

As I entered the store, there was a bleeeep...   Three of us were simultaneously crossing the threshhold which meant we all walked between the security poles.

 Of course, the Farmers' security lady swooped on me.  I'd actually made it into the lingerie department before, puffing like a steam engine, she caught up with me.  Oh goodie, my physicality must be improving.  Power walking, now that my plantar fasciitis was getting better, was truly paying off.

Frustrated, I threw my bag into the security lady's  hands.  "Take it!"

"I'll just see about deactivating this," the security lady said.  And disappeared.  Off to South America, who knew?  If so, she wouldn't get far with what was in my bag... an umbrella,and  a wallet that contained three bank cards inaccessible to anyone without a pin, and approximately $20 from my money-box;  good luck, girl with that.  The weight of all those 10 cent and 20 cent pieces in my shoulderbag had already given me backache getting from Miramar to Kilbirnie.

I fingered through some camisoles as I waited for her return. Oh,  I'm a sucker for camisoles.  I reckon that camisoles are often prettier than normal shoe-string strap summer tops -

She was back within three minutes.  "Here you are.  Everything's good."

Not with me, it wasn't.  I stomped out of the store.  Curse you, Farmers, for being one of my favourite clothes shops.  I'd love to say I'm never going to darken your bleepin' door again, but, sigh, I just can't see that happening ...  however, I will be jolly cross.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exhibition of Weta artists at Rona Gallery, Eastbourne

Last night I mixed with the Weta artistic elite at the opening of an exhibition at the Rona Gallery in Eastbourne.  The exhibition is on for the next couple of weeks and the artworks/sculptures are for sale.   (See more detailed information on earlier blog).

"White Cloud Worlds"  - the books that feature much of the incredible artwork on display - can also be bought.  Author Paul Tobin is a well-known film concept designer.

I particularly like the art of Sacha Lees who is just about New Zealand's foremost fantasy artist.  On her website (www.sachalees.com), you must look at  "Triple Self Portrait with Family (in the style of Norman Rockwell)"; it's in her "Biography" section.    For those who are too young or can't remember, Rockwell's family-at-home-and-at-play paintings graced the covers of the American magazine the Saturday Evening Post for many years mid-20th century - his pictures were very much loved by people around the world.

At the exhibition, I was also impressed by the work of Gino Acevedo, senior  prosthetics supervisor and visual creative effects art director for Weta.

Below: On left: well-known NZ artist Richard Ponder.  Right: Gino Acevedo

below:  author Paul Tobin

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More about those penguins

Hi there

You wouldn't believe it......   I was at the chemist's this morning, regaling the  assistant with the intrepid tale of "How I Swim at Hataitai Beach all Through the Winter..."   And without any prompting from me, the woman started reminiscing about the time she saw some penguins there! 

What?  Penguins?  How embarrassing is that?  And one day after I rubbished the "watch out for penguins crossing" sign at Hataitai Beach?

This woman said that one night, half a dozen years' ago,  a penguin scurried across in front of her to its nest under an upside down rowboat on the sands.  Another penguin went to its nest in the rocks. 

It looks like I could be soon joining those binocular-carrying penguin watchers crouched in waiting behind the flax bushes,

In the photo above, Hataitai Beach is on the right.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hataitai Beach - penguins?

Hi there

J and I got in our 1st swim for November at Hataitai Beach today.  The water was the warmest so far this winter/spring.
There is a sign on a lamppost at Hataitai Beach that warns motorists to be careful of penguins crossing.  What?  Penguins crossing?  I have been swimming at Hataitai now for about 30 years, passing it in my car for the same length of time, and daytime or nighttime I have never seen one penguin.

Perhaps a Penguins Crossing has superceded a Zebra Crossing.  I mean .... penguins... zebras ... they're both black and white, yes?    But the notice is facing away from the crossing.   So, I'm still perplexed.

There's another penguin sign further along the road at Balaena Bay, maybe a km away from Hataitai Beach, and another one, I think, at Breaker Bay.  Is this a ploy by Wellington City Council to bring in tourists?  Do sightseers sit on the grass verge opposite Hataiati Beach, hidden behind the flax bushes, binoculars at the ready, waiting of an evening for hordes of little penguins to waddle across the road?  How sad.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

no halloween house this year for Miramar

Hi there

The Miramar house that is usually thoroughly decorated for Halloween and usually has Brussels Street bursting at the seams with children and their parents is not decorated in any way this year.  Maybe because of the bad weather.  Maybe it's all got too big for the householders.  Maybe the house was sold.....

As I type this, it is 7 pm NZ time on Halloween Night, pouring with rain,  and no kids have come to my door yet.  Halloween is not all that popular in NZ . I havent had any callers for the last three Halloweens.  I think mostly kids visit relatives.

J and I did 10 swims at Hataitai Beach during October.  We high-10'd (?) each other triumphantly.  Mind you, after our ninth swim we were cold and shivering for hours.  We got carried away talking nineteen-to-the-dozen while we were in the water and forgot the time.  It was after we got dressed that the cold hit us.  So with our tenth swim we made sure to look at our watches.

TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10
TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10 TEN ten 10

But as J said when she sent me the above,...  who's counting?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More about Coco, my Wednesday Dog

Hi there

Coco, the little shih tzu dog,  really can't do much of anything except, perhaps, look cute.  She doesn't point out shot ducks, or rescue prepubescent boys from burning buildings and deep wells.  She'd be terrible as a service dog because she can't concentrate on anything for longer than a minute before she's racing off to do damage on someone's sofa, or piddle and poo on someone's bra and library-book.

When Coco took me out yesterday for a walk, we passed a young mum and her toddler. The boy was happily jumping over and over again off a seat that was probably about one hand-span high off the ground.  Coco and I stood by and watched.  Coco got more dejected every second, her ears and tail flopped downward, and her eyes lost their usual sparkly gleam.  There's no way Coco could have jumped from that seat;  my little Wednesday dog insists on being lifted down from anything taller than finger-height.

I had to say something, give Coco back some pride.    "Ah, but can your little one sit on command?" I asked the young mum.  Coco perked up her ears.

The young mum  shook her head.  "No..."

"Neither can Coco," I rmuttered under my breath as  my little Wednesday dog and I bounced happily away.    Thank heavens we could rejoice in small mercies.  If that three year old toddler had truly been able to sit on command, Coco and I would have been been thoroughly humiliated.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Walking the (Wednesday) Dog

Hi there

Today is Wednesday. Wednesday means that I look after Coco, my friend Lorraine's little shih tsu  dog   Yes, yes, my friend's name is Lorraine,too, and we have the most hilarious public conversations by continually addressing each other by name.  Leaving messages for Lorraine is often difficult because recipients always think I'm stuttering or have Alzheimers.

Today, I took Coco to an enclosed dog-playing plot of grassy land which is diagonally opposite Hataitai Beach   I never let Coco off her leash under normal circumstances so I expected her to leap in the air, this time, with the doggie bark equivalent of "Freeeeeee!!!"

She looked up at me, big brown eyes querying what she should do.

"Run," I said to her.  "Explore... dance...  sing....   It's up to you, sweetie.  The whole plot of land is yours..."

She slowly plodded along the fenceline.

I flapped my arms to encompass the whole doggie playground, just to show Coco that she could move to the middle of it.,  "Fly, my pretty," I shouted.  She either couldn't understand English or wasn't a fan of flying monkeys and nasty witches from Oz

Coco crept moodily right around the ultimate edge of the enclosure,  regardless of my leaping, shouting, calling, clapping, and pleading for her to come into the centre.  

"Come on, baby!  Come on!  Run with me - "  I was puffing as I zig-zagged madly around the field..   Did I embarrass Coco?  Who knows?  She was carefully not meeting my eyes.

Coco patiently waited for me at the entrance gate.  I attached the leash to her collar and she took off down the footpath at a hundred kms an hour, woofing madly, happily.  I guess my little Wednesday dog is truly an urban pup.

Oh, today J and I got in our eighth swim at Hataitai Beach for October.  Coco sulked in my car.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hands up if you have trouble sleeping?

Hi there
Last evening, I was on the sofa, in my lounge, under my ravaged ceiling, trying to watch television.  I truly was trying to do it but my eyes just wanted to close.  Heck, it was only 8.pm;  I couldn't go to bed at 8 pm!  Only kittens, puppies, babies and other oldies (never me!) go to sleep at 8 pm.

At 8.30, I awoke with a start.  Still on the sofa.  I fumbled to turn off the tv, and staggered into the bedroom. 

"I'll be asleep in mere minutes," I told myself.

Suddenly, I was as wide-eyed as a lemur. 

I picked up my Kindle.  I read a chapter.  Then another chapter.  I finished the book.  10 pm.

I reached down under my bed for a crossword puzzle book, couldn't find it so had to get out from between my snuggly sheets and burrow underneath the bed.  This put me more wide-awake than ever.

I finished a mini crossword, plus one that took up a whole two-page-spread.  It was midnight.  I turned on NewstalkZB.

I read another book on my Kindle.  2 a.m. 

On the radio, they were talking about how terrible Rod Stewart was in concert.  So, of course, I had to ring up and skite that I had seen him "in August, that's this very last August, two months ago, at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas - and he was marvellous!"  This call wasted  three whole minutes of valuable sleeping time..

I read Debbie Reynolds' autobiography "Unsinkable".  My goodness, what trauma she's been through.  The book (a real honest-to-goodness paper-paged hard-covered book  - from the library) was so rivetting, I was on the edge of my bed, living every second of Debbie's life along with her.  The time was 4 a.m.

I drifted off to sleep at 4.30 a.m.  Woke up at 8 30 a.m. 

I guess we all have nights like this....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weta workers Exhibition - plus the hole in the deck has been fixed!

The artistic Weta people  are taking part in an exhibition showcasing their stunning science fiction and fantasy artwork.  These are leading New Zealand artists.   Some of the paintings from Paul Tobin's two White Cloud Worlds' volumes will be on sale.

The exhibition will be on show from Nov 7th to Nov 25th.  Please see the special days listed above. 

The address is:  Rona Gallery, 151 Muritai Road, Eastbourne.

Sorry I'm such a klutz with the above excerpts.  I didn't know how to move the pamphlet over to my computer.  So in the end, I tried photographing them.


Oh, J and I got in our 7th swim this morning for October.  But, my goodness, Hataitai Beach was crowded.  There was a bunch (maybe 20) of swimmers in wet suits, a couple of paddle-boarders, a family picnicking on the sands and two gumbooted foragers searching for shellfish.  THE  HOLE  IN THE DECK THAT I FELL THROUGH (and had J in hysterical laughter, darn her!) HAS NOW BEEN PROPERLY REPAIRED!  Took them long enough..

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A couple of days in Auckland

Hi there
I went up to Auckland on Tuesday morning and flew back Wednesday night (free flights from Jetstar).  I went to Skycity Fortuna Restaurant for a nice buffet lunch, Hectors in the Heritage Hotel for a great buffet breakfast, Firewood at Mission Bay for a good burger meal, Sylvia Park Mall for a wander (mostly same brand-shops that are in Wellington), walked half the length of scenic harbour-side Tamaki Drive (glad I hadnt brought my bathing suit because the water was murky), and took the ferry to Devonport for an explore.  And I think I  have finally worked out the correct trainers to wear with the correct inner-soles because I did a lot of walking in Auckland and my heel was only on low-level hurt.

Oh, and The sitcom queen struck again:

The waiter at 'Firewood' said to me, "Did you enjoy your burger?"

I felt that I had to explain to him why I'd left some of it.  "I don't like to eat bottoms," I said.

"Who does?" he said, straight-faced.

"I really hate soggy bottoms," I added, completely oblivious, for the moment, to any other meaning.

"Me, too," he said.

What?  Straight out of "Are you being Served?" or perhaps a Carry-On movie .... ?

     Oh, J and I got in a fifth swim today (Thurs) for  October.  We're staying in the water much longer nowadays.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another storm, more ceiling-leaking....

Hi there

How many storms over the period of a couple of months is Wellington going to be forced to endure?  I've given up counting.  The guy came the other day to fix my leaking skylight, whoopeee!, and now all I had to do was call the plasterer and painter to re-do my ceiling, and all would be set.

"Better wait till it rains, just to be sure," the window fixing guy said, sort of as a throw-away line as he was departing.

So, I waited for a week.  It poured last Friday and my ceiling leaked as hard, as fast, as furiously as the Victoria Falls.  Okay, okay, I exaggerate....    But I did get a half-a-bucket full of rainwater.

This morning, I had to drive to Kilbirnie.  In another storm.  Through the Miramar Cutting - surely the windiest place in Wellington.  I went through ever so slow, but still I felt the car try to swerve across lanes with the wind.   We're not called Windy Wellington for nothing!  You know, I can never understand why tourists want to come to NZ in winter or spring.  December (possibly November) up till March (possibly April) is the best.

Below is a pic I got (from the net) of The Cutting.

Oh, sometime between last Friday and Sunday (it's Monday 2 20 pm, NZ-time, as I type this), the hole in the deck on Hataitai Beach has been (temporarily, I think) repaired.  Did that electioneering would-be councillor, Sarah Free, who I complained to last week come through for me by stirring up the council?   I see she was elected in the weekend.   Mmmmmm, I'm going to keep an eye on this young lady ....

......or maybe it was all those phonc calls and the email that I sent the WCC that finally got their AintoG?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Petrol Stations and the service they give

Hi there

For years, the guys at my local service station have pumped my petrol for me, and all they have gotten out of it from me has been a smile and intense words of gratitude.   It started about 30 years ago when a woman in front of me at the pumps drenched herself, by accident, in petrol.  An ambulance was called because the petrol had got into her eyes, ears, and mouth.  Then a year later, the same thing happened with a guy a couple of petrol pumps away.

I decided never to pump my own petrol again.  Okay, I guess, petrol pumps have changed somewhat over the years and they're probably as safe as houses now, but somehow it's all turned into a phobia and I couldn't change my ways, even if I was offered a thousand dollars (maybe a million??),

It was okay being petrol-pumped at my Miramar Shell Service Station where they knew me, but when I went on holiday, it was torture.  I came up with all sorts of stories for a petrol shop assistant as to why they should pump my petrol:  "I'm just getting over a broken arm..." ending up as the favourite.  Gosh, I am so ashamed...

But a few years back Shell was commandeered by "Z" (pronounced Zed, not Zee - for the benefit of my one American reader), a New Zealand company, and suddenly "service" was in.  There is now a concierge in the forecourt literally running to pump my petrol, and wash my windscreen, and check the height of my car's water and oil.  10 am to 5 pm daily.  And no tipping involved.  I love it.  Thanks, Z.

I stopped at Turangi "Z" station recently.  And wonders of wonders, there were four (count 'em, four) cars spaced out across four petrol pumps all with the car owners laughing away to each other and happily awaiting their turn with the forecourt concierge

Oh, and Z, I do like your new Coca-Cola-and-McDonald's-like television commercial.  All those gorgeous energetic youthful colourful types give me happy-want-to-visit-Z-just-for-the-fun-of-it feelings. 

Here's the commercial:


And here's my local "Z" station in Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fourth swim down!

Hi there
Well, yesterday, we got in our fourth swim at Hataitai Beach for October so we've reached our minimum already.  What's more, yesterday, we swam in the rain!  Well, okay, it was only light sprinkles....  And we swam for quite a while.  We just didnt want to get out of the water.   I did feel cold afterwards however this was probably because directly after the swim, I spent a good five minutes wandering around the freezer section at Countdown Supermarket and it didn't help the warmth factor one bit.

The sealant window guy came and (finally) fixed the leak in my skylight-type window yesterday so I can now remove the bucket and towel from the lounge, good talking point though it proved to be.  Now, I have to get the painters and plasterers in to fix the ceiling.  Sigh, money, money, money.....

My little Wednesday dog, Coco, is coming today.  I so look forward to her visits.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Third Swim for October!

Hi there

J and I have just completed our third swim for October.  It was such a lovely day today at Hataitai Beach and we spent a long time in the water, then we had a lovely picnic lunch sitting on the deck after our swim.  Oh boy, summer is on its way.

While we were chomping away happily, a woman (Sarah Free)came to us on the deck and started electioneering.  Can't make up my mind to vote for her in the coming Wellington  City Council elections because she had the gumption to approach us, or be upset that she disturbed me as I was savouring J's scrumptious marshmallow cake.  A guy wandered onto the deck but neither he, nor J and her beloved chauffeur, were actually in Sara Free's electorate.  I was in it, so she concentrated on me.

After a dramatic showing of the bruise on my leg and an equally dramatic rendering of "The day I stepped into the hole on the deck", Sara Free promised to report the hole to somebody or other.  We'll have to wait and see.  As I type this, it's now been 10 days, three phone calls, and one email since I reported My Spectacular Accident to the Wellington City Council.

Oh yes, sigh, J still goes into her giggling hysterically routine if she so much as even thinks about my-falling-down-the-hole-in-the-deck episode.  I believe she's told everyone she comes in contact with, but freely admits the tale takes a long time in the telling because she's laughing so much.

Honestly, some people.....

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Breaker Bay Market Day, plus Hataitai Beach swim, plus Americas Cup-groan

Hi there

I had a stall at the Breaker Bay Hall yesterday (as I type this it is Sunday 3 pm NZ time).  My goodness, there were so many knick-knacks on the stalls.  It seemed like every stall-holder had decided to de-clutter.

What is it about hoarding?  As every month goes by, I get more and more  ashamed of all the Stuff that I have accumulated.  What on earth are my loved ones going to do with all of the clutter when I pop my clogs?    But do I stop buying silly little knick-knacks?  Not one bit of it.  All the determination in the world goes for nothing.  Yesterday, I went into the hall determined not to buy anything... and came out less $20.   The other stall holders were all seniors and all my friends.  I guess we just accumulate more and more stuff as we grow older, and never get around to getting rid of anything.  Maybe because of nostalgia.

A would-be-buyer picked up a 1920's plate that was labelled $30. One like it had sold on www.trademe.co.nz the week before for $52.

"I'll give you $10," he said.

"$20," I said.

"Nah, don't want it."  He walked away.  This sort of thing happened repeatedly,.

J and I completed our second swim for October this afternoon at Hataitai Beach.  There were four guys out there, too, all done up in so much wet gear that they looked like aliens from outer space.  Water wuzzes!  - J and I  felt infinitely superior in just our bathing costumes.  (Oh, the hole in the deck that I fell through 9 days ago has still not been repaired despite three phone calls and an email to Wellington City Council).

Okay, I better talk about the Americas Cup.... sigh.  We lost.  There was a big welcome and sail past for the team in Auckland on Friday.  I well remember, donkeys' years back, the very first time NZ participated.  We lost that time, yet we threw the guys a parade - and a foreign girl in my office was utterly perplexed.  She said to me: , "Let me get this right.  They lost...  And you're giving them a parade?"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

bits and pieces

Hi there

My leg is still hurting like mad, with a bruise the size of a saucer, after my silly fall through the hole in the deck at Hataitai Beach last Friday.  The Wellington City Council still haven't repaired the hole.

The WCC are also dismantling a block of flats on the corner of Tahi Street and Park Road in Miramar.  Dozens of owl-eyed little boys plus Dads were watching.

The Roxy Cinema in Miramar (around the corner from Tahi Street) has an exhibition on at the moment.  Some World of Wearable Art exhibits by designer Fifi Colston. 

The amazing outfit on display in the foyer is a WOW winner.  Ask at the counter if you can also go upstairs and look at the display up there. 

There's an outfit upstairs that represents the famous Mt Tarawera (Rotorua) disaster in the late 1800's.

When I was in Rotorua some years back I went on a 4-wheel drive tour over to Mt Tarawera.  You can actually go inside the crater and slide/stumble down to the bottom.

The famous pink and white terraces were destroyed in the volcanic disaster, hence the lava-looking appearance of the below costume.  This WOW outfit represents a Maori guide of the time.

Breaker Bay Hall Stalls:

Oh, the Breaker Bay folk have stalls in the Breaker Bay Hall in Breaker Bay Rd this Saturday,  5 October, starting at 10 a.m.  Lots of knick-knacky things, I believe..


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fifth swim for September

Hi there

Well, in between all the bad weather and me falling down holes (just call me 'Alice') we havent managed to swim much this month.  Yesterday however, J and I got in our fifth swim for September at Hataitai Beach.  It was truly lovely in the water, and high tide to boot.  In fact, we hit the water at the exact minute of the heralded highest tide for the day.

As I type this, it is 10.50 a.m. on Sunday morning, NZ time, and the hole in the deck at Hataitai Beach has not been repaired yet.  I fell down the hole at noon on Friday, rang up Wellington City Council about an hour later to complain about it.  .I will give them till Mon afternoon to repair the hole ... then I will ring my councillor

Oh, for the benefit of my one overseas reader - we cannot sue in New Zealand after an accident.  We have something called Accident Compensation.  It pays for lost wages, and doctors' bills.  Every worker pays into it.  Everybody gets the benefit of it.   Just think, if I was in the States, I could sue for millions!

Oh, whilst I was on a movie locations tour around Los Angeles I saw the house used in the tv series "American Horror Story".  Here's my photo, followed by how the house looks in the series.

American-Horror-Story-TV show house

Thursday, September 26, 2013

High Drama at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

Goodness, where to start ...?   J and I trotted down to Hatiatai Beach today to 'look at the water' to see if it was okay for swimming after the storm.  As we looked over the railing, I stepped sideways and my foot went right down through a hole that was already in the decking!

(Pause ...  for sharp in-drawn breaths from my four readers)

And it wasn't just my foot that went through a hole in the deck, but most of my leg went in too, right up past the knee.  I guess I was like some hilarious character in an old Keystone Cops comedy, with my leg dangling down above the water.  Ah, the sitcom queen strikes again.

I angrily yanked myself up from out of the hole, with the jagged end of the broken floorboard painfully scraping my knee.     Sigh, I should have kept up with my diet and I might've ended up with skinnier legs.

I'd determined to pull my leg out quickly regardless of pain because in the instant of it happening I'd got mind-pictures of  little kids with their heads caught in railings and the firemen being called to get them out ofr it, and photographers everywhere ... and I saw me surrounded by fire engines and cameramen, and amateur photogs and umpteen pictures of me going viral on youtube, and my never living the experience down, etc, etc..

Consequence:  1.  I rang Wellington City Council and gave them an earful.  2  I went to the doctor.  I have an extremely badly bruised knee and a big red graze going down the side of my leg that bled for a time.  The doc reckons the knee bruise will end up getting much bigger. He says by tomorrow, I'll hardly be able to move, I'll be so stiff and sore.

My friend J was laughing so hysterically that I figured she was going to wet her knickers if she wasn't careful.  And I'll admit, yes, I laughed, too.  J told me that one second I was the same height as her but then - voom! - she lost me!

It wasn't until I got home and the pain started to truly kick in that I didn't feel like laughing.

Oh, we never went for a swim..  Maybe tomorrow......



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

April Showers, lah-de-dah-dah.

Hi there

Remember the old song "April Showers", symbolising that it always rains in Spring?   Well, of course, Spring for us here in New Zealand, in the Southern Hemisphere,  is September.  I expect I should be singing about 'September Showers' but that doesn't seem quite right.

We had some thunder and lightening about a week ago.  Unlike Auckland, Wellington doesn't often get thunder and lightening.  I can only remember two such storms over the last half dozen years.   But this last one was a real exhibition!

My ceiling sprung a leak.  Well, a mini waterfall, actually.  .Oh, and here's a hint for the beginner:  Never decide to poke a broom handle into the big 'blister' on the ceiling after a rain storm - you'll end up looking like a drowned rat!

My insurance excess is $1000, and it looks like the repairs of window frame, ceiling, plastering, painting, etc will come to just under $1000.    I hate insurance excesses.  I can remember when there were no excesses to leapfrog over.  In the 1960's the insurance company put a block on my friend always claiming for lost umbrellas because she was losing so many of them.  Can you imagine an insurance company today paying out on a lost umbrella?

J and I feel as if we havent been swimming in ages, even though it's probably just been a week or so.   Still, we have done our minimum four for September.

We went down to the beach yesterday to 'look at the water' which proved to be murkey and incredibly rough so we dejectedly trudged home.  This stupid rain......

Here's a pic of my lounge ceiling.

Oh, the Americas Cup?  I havent looked at the race or the news, or listened to any of the races on radio for about 2 days now.  I'm over it.  Once Oracle got their new captain, they improved no end.  Curse you, Russell Coutts, you are New Zealand's yachting nemisis - you're doing it again!

Friday, September 20, 2013

2 nights in Taupo

Hi there

On Wednesday, at 9.30 a.m., I suddenly took it into my head that I wanted a long drive and by 10.30 a.m.  I was out of the house and on my way to Lake Taupo.  I would have been out earlier  if I'd managed to contact three different holdiay home booking places.    I figure everybody in New Zealand was home watching the Americas Cup races (as was confirmed to me later by all three holiday home booking people).

In Taupo I went for a dip in the hot spring at Spa Park. See above photo. The spring is completely in its natural state and is on the edge of the Waikato River.  It's at the next turning after the bungee jump on the way out of town.  Below is a photo of the Waikato River that runs through Taupo.

I've been to Lake Taupo in Summer when it's crammed with tourists and I've been in winter when ski bunnies fill the place.  But in September (spring) it was virtually empty.  Like a ghost town, especially from about 3 pm onwards when folk who are passing through - and have had their lunch and a quick look around just disappear back again onto Highway No 1.