Monday, April 29, 2013

Mexican Restaurant in Miramar

Hi there

A couple of years' back, a Mexican cafe opened in Miramar, Wellington, where I live.   It's called La Boca Loca and is a casual dining place.  It is extremely popular with workers from the Peter Jackson empire - Weta, Post-Production, Workshop, Admin,  studio, etc.  There are a lot of American workers at Weta and they have probably been starved for good Mexican food.  Up until about 5 years' ago there weren't any Mexican places to eat in Wellington.  Now, there are a few.

I believe a guy who worked at Weta convinced a Mexican chef/friend to come over from America and, together, they started La Boca Loca. 

La Boca Loca is a hop, skip, and jump away from the Roxy Theatre owned by Oscar winners Tania Roger and Jamie Selkirk.   Lots of folk go to La Boca Loca for a meal before the movies.

Here's a little secret:  I've never tasted Mexican food. How embarrassing. 

Even when Mexican food weighed down the buffet tables in Las Vegas, I bypassed it.  Old stick-in-the-mud me stayed with the same old tried and true stuff that I was used to.  I am so silly.  I promise I will try out La Boca Loca ..... one day.   Oh, and I'm off to Las Vegas again at the end of the year.  I promise-promise-promise to try Mexican food.

P.S.:  J and I have now done 11 swims for April.  About 25-minute swims all through the month.  We notice in the newspaper that there is a picture of people swimming at Oriental Bay in Wellington, and we're quite miffed over this.  Darn this almost-summer weather, J and I wanted to stand out as The Brave Ones.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eighth Swim for April at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

J and I did our usual debating about whether we should go for a swim.

"It's extremely low tide," said J.  None of we Hataitai Beach regulars care for low tide.  We seem to walk forever before the sea even gets up to our waists.

"But it's not raining," I said.

"We've already done 7 swims for April, said J.

"Wouldn't it be neat to do 8?" I said.

J"s eyes lit up.  If there was the slightest hint of a challenge, she would be onto it.  I only hoped J wasn't thinking of  another nice round number like ... 10!  

We stood outside the gym and peered up at the sky.  "Let's go and look at the water," said J finally.

That did it, of course.  "Looking at the water" usually means we're going for that swim.  As we left the gym, we banged into 'Galveston'.  He's a guy we've chummed up with at the beach over the last month or so.  He got his nickname because J and I were sitting on the deck trying to work our way through the alphabet with place name songs.  We were stuck on 'G'.  Out of the blue, this guy sunbathing beside us came up with 'Galveston''.

'Galvesten' said he'd go for his swim later in the afternoon.  It's great to meet new people at the beach.  They become real friends after a time, but it is so sad when winter comes and we don't see them again until the following summer.  In some cases we never see them again.

J and I leaned over the deck railing at Hataitai Beach today to look at the water.  It was clear and clean.  And the sea was flat, glass-like.

We had a beautiful swim.  Our eighth for April.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ANZAC DAY - New Zealand

Hi there

Today, New Zealand-time, it's 25 April, ANZAC Day.  ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.  In 1915, Kiwi and Aussie troops stormed the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey (then known as the Ottoman Empire).  They were severely outnumbered, and many, many were killed. -   They dug themselves down into trenches for months, dying of war wounds, dysentery, lack of nutrients and food.  Many disastrous decisions were made by the officers of the time.

ANZAC Day was originally to remember those brave men who died at Gallipoli but now the day is to honour all our (and Australia's) war dead, including those from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iran-Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Today marks the day our Afghanistan soldiers return home.  Of course, ANZAC Day also honours all 'returning' servicer folk and, as well, our peace and reconstruction teams stationed around the Pacific basin and further afield.

Our most famous warrior since WWII is Willie Apiata who received the Victoria Cross, the first time the honour has been given to any kiwi since WWII.  Apiata received the award for bravery under fire in the Afghanistan conflict when he carried a wounded comrade through enemy fire. SEE PICTURE BELOW.,

In a recent survey, ANZAC Day was picked as the day that means the most to New Zealanders (even coming in front of our national day, Waitangi Day).  The day is commemorated with a holiday and there are ANZAC dawn services throughout the country.  I do not believe in war but I do believe in remembering the war dead.

Lest we forget.

Seven.... I'm in heaven...

Hi there

Seven swims for April.  Done.  Hataitai Beach, you rock!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rack Up 6 Swims! - Hataitai Beach

Tuesday 4.45 pm New Zealand time.

Hi there

This morning J and I notched up our 6th swim for April at Hataitai Beach.  That's two above our monthly-four quota that we set for ourselves for the cold months.  When we get out of the water in the colder months, we both get such a buzz of triumph over a job well done. 

J insists that we not put a light t-shirt on top of our bathing suits until, at least, May.  We're not wimps, she insists.  At least, she insists that she isn't a wimp.  I'm not too sure about me.

When J and I swim, especially in the winter when we sort of just lazy breast-stroke swim side-by-side across the bay and back again (and again, and again), we conduct what we call 'committee meetings'.  In other words, we talk.  About all sorts of things.  J has a collection of hilarious stories and happenings that have happened to her.  I try to rival her odd and weird anecdotes, but I just can't compete.  I spend most of the swim in hysterics, chortling so loud at her stories that I can surely be heard across to the footpath.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kiwi fruit

Hi there
When I was in Las Vegas last year, I went on a day bus tour.  We'd done the round robin introduction bit of all the passengers on the bus - something I detest because other passengers always sound much more interesting than I do.

Over the microphone the lady guide shouted out to me, "Do you know what we Americans call you New Zealanders?"

I couldn't imagine.  Hobbits?  Freeloaders?  Anzacs?  Magnificent examples of homo sapiens?

"Kiwis!" she boomed out.  And the entire busload of Americans burst into hysterical laughter.

I smiled politely but I couldn't understand why the word "kiwis' had caused such merriment.  On international markets, our money is called the kiwi.  Goodness, our national bird is the kiwi, and we are named after it.   We are kiwis.

It wasn't until I got back home to New Zealand - Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud -  that I suddenly thought, "Oh, maybe, the driver was thinking of-   Nah, she couldn't be.  It would be too silly if she was thinking of-  "


We call it kiwifruit (or kiwi fruit).  Americans just call it, "kiwi".    When we're talking about it, we  never ever ever ever refer to it without 'fruit' tacked onto the end.

Were all those Americans laughing fit to kill themselves over the fact that they equated us New Zealanders to our little fuzzy food ball?  Here's a picture.

Here's a pendant of mine depicting a kiwi bird (it's actually an old New Zealand two shilling piece  (pre-1967) that's been hollowed out.

Here's an actual baby kiwi.  They are endangered birds.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

5 swims down for April!

Hi there
J and I have now completed 5 swims for April at Hataitai Beach, Wellington, New Zealand.  It's obvious that there's to be no more sitting in the sun on the deck outside the changing sheds and chatting for a half an hour or so after our swims.  Brrrr...  It's getting colder (and wetter - the farmers will be doing happy cartwheels).

Hataitai Beach is right next to the Sea Scouts training facility.  Here's a pic I took from across the road.  You can just make out, in the foreground, a batch of kids in their Sea Scouts boat.

I went and saw the movie "Olympus has Fallen" today, about an attaack on The White House and the American President.    I don't know how knowledge of this picture had previously escaped me. Over the past month, on America's show "Entertainment Tonight" we've been seeing all about "White House Down" which is to be released soon, but nothing about "Olympus Has Fallen".  I'm telling you, by the end of this movie I was a completely worn out exhausted limp rag.  I'd been up on the screen battling away with Gerard Butler for two whole hours.  It's the best action film I've seen since "Air Force One" which, okay, let's admit it, has practically the same basic plot. 
The movie was a bit close to the bone about the Korean baddies, however it was noted that they belonged to a stand-alone baddie organisation and weren't really pledging allegience to either North or South, but to Korea (and the world) as a whole.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The terrible, terrible time at the Boston Marathon

Tuesday, New Zealand-time, 12.30 p.m.

Oh, Americans, I am so very sorry for you.  I slipped my hand out of the bedclothes this morning at 6.30 a.m. to turn on the radio and it was just normal morning stuff.  I turned on the t.v at 7 a.m. to find the horrendous state of affairs at the Boston Marathon.  Every other type of scheduled tv programming has been dropped so as to concentrate on the happenings in Boston.  

How can there be some people in this world who can be so horrible to each other?

There were 45 kiwis taking part in the Boston Marathon.  I hope they are safe.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The joys of polystyrene.

Hi there

A standard lamp gave out on me the other day.  The 'pop'  took out most of my lights and electrical equipment.  Like a good little wanna-be electrician, I went to the electrical box attached to the side of the house, armed with a screwdriver and a stool (I hate being short.  Why wasn't I born tall and ever-so-statuesque?).  I pressed down a couple of switches and the house was back to normal. 

Except my standard lamp which now had a sort of burnt-appearance up its whatsit.

I had to buy a new lamp.  Instantly.  Otherwise I couldn't read.  And reading is pretty much up there as one of the main passions of my life...  awfully boring, hmm? 

"Does the lamp come ready-assembled?" I asked the guy in Lighting Direct.

We both peered at the tall box.  "Seems like it," he said.

It didn't.  When I got home and opened the box, all I could see was a large sheet of polystyrene, jammed in tight against the outside packaging.  I gave the polystyrene a tug. Uh oh.  I had a fistfull of it.  

Another tug.  Another fistfull of the stuff.  I angrily clawed at it, like a demented gorilla.
 Curse you, standard lamp, and curse you polystyrene manufacturers.   White 'snowflakes' flew around me, clinging to my clothes, and just-vacuumed carpet.   As I tend to vacuum my carpet on rare occasions that are so prized and, yes, gloated over, I was devastasted that I might - no, I would have to vaccuum again.   I'd cleaned up most of the stuff before I thought to take the above photo.

It took almost as long to get the polystyrene out of the box - so wedged in tight was it -  than it did to assemble the  darn lamp.  And the lamp-assembly seemed to take forever.  The instructions were hopeless. 

But, finally, job done.  Not very well - the lamp is a bit wobbly and leans a fraction to the side, but I can live with that.  I guess ...

Oh, on another note, J and I have completed four swims for April.  It's our minimum monthly goal for winter.  Yaaaayyy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wahine Disaster (Happy Wahine day, Lorraine)

Hi there

Yesterday, 10 April, was my birthday (happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me).  Every year I wake up on my birthday, bleary-eyed, turn on my radio and immediately hear the announcers going on about "today is one of the saddest, most tragic days in New Zealand's history".  A bit of a let-down for a birthday girl.

All through the day on radio and television there is talk again of what a tragic day it is.  Listeners ring up Talkback, television has retrospective looks, memories are dug out, newspapers print special pages....  It's all too depressing, really.

It's the anniversary when the New Zealand inter-island passenger ferry, Wahine, sank in Wellington Harbour - 10 April 1968.  With loss of lives.

The terrible thing about the whole episode was that the ship was so close to shore.   Wellingtonians could only watch and not do anything.  It was the worst storm Wellington has ever had, two big storms clashing together over the city.    Hundreds of roofs were blown off, trees blown down, roads blocked.  The ship was so close to berthing and it still couldnt combat the fierce waves, wind, rain, and the rocks of Barrett's reef.  I can remember my father telling me about so-called "Wanganella weather".  In 1947, the inter-island ferry, Wanganella got stuck on Barrett's Reef as it entered Wellington Harbour.  Passengers were rescued but salvagers needed at least 18 fine days - without any sort of bad weather - to get the ship off the rocks.   And they got those fine days, henceforth any good period of weather became known as 'Wanganella Weather'.

I was a junior typist at the time of the Wahine disaster, working in Government Buildings, (the largest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere), at the bottom of Lambton Quay.  From my third floor front window, I could see the devastation all around.  Anything that wasnt tied tightly down was blowing madly down the streets in the gale-force winds.  There is a big wide tree beside Parliament Buildings gates.  I can remember a woman with her chest tight to the tree, arms out-stretched clinging tightly to the tree-trunk, lest she be blown away.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Solo swimming at Hataitai Beach

Hi there
On the way to the gym this morning the big sign on the main road that leads from the airport - Cobham Drive, otherwise known as Highway No 1 - read something like 'Water Restriction lifted'.  Hitherto, it had read something like 'Water Ban in Force'.

So, after the gym, I high-tailed it to Hataitai Beach to take a photo of the shower in the women's changing room ... without it's showerhead.  This shower head will probably never be removed again in my lifetime.  I guess the 'once in my lifetime Wellington drought' has now broken, and the shower head will be returned in all it's glory very soon.  So, a photo is a must.  For my descendents.

It's a cold water shower, but if I race into the shower ahead of my friend J, I will get a couple of seconds of warm-ish water because the sun has heated up the water pipes.  J will get truly cold water.  oh dear.

Often, to use the shower,  I have had to queue up behind campervan tourists who seem to have brought their whole bathroom cabinet contents along with them to the changing sheds. 

One day, I rushed in for my shower, after my swim, to find four naked Scandanavian women flitting around the shower area - each one incredibly beautiful and probably in their early twenties.  All were tall, slim, with long blonde tresses, longer legs, pert breasts and giggling away happily in a seductive foreign language.  They were probably talking about having cheese sandwiches for supper, but to me every word sounded like the playing of  a musical lyre.  

My Goodness, here I was, short, stout, flat chested, with bird's nest hair, and big fat thighs.  When I talk, I miss out the 'g' at the end of all my 'ings'.  I have trouble pronouncing h's and I slur my words a lot because I can't be bothered to enunciate properly.  I also gabble at about 500 words a minute.  I probably sound more like an demented kookaburra than a musical lyre.  I slinked (slunk? slank?) out of the changing sheds until the four Norse goddesses had left the building. Who needed the comparison?

While I was photographing the shower this morning, I thought "Oh, well... while I'm here....."  So, I had a swim.  Swim No 3 for April!!  Check.  The water was nice but my fingers were so cold afterwards that I had trouble doing up my shoe laces.  (I'm one swim up on you, J, for April - na-na-na-na-nah.....

I must ring up Wellington City Council to remind them to put back the showerhead. 

Here's a nice cloud formation above Hataitai Beach.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Swimming at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

Right,  the winter(y) seasons are tapping at our heels.  For the three readers of this blog, you may remember how three years ago J and I decided we were going to try and get in at least one swim a month at Hataitai Beach, Wellington, New Zealand, during the full calendar year.  This would be the easiest feat in the world during summer(y) months when we swam practically every day, but winter-time?  Brrrhhh......   We made it, though there were times we worried about hyperthermia (or is that hypothermia, I can never tell the difference).

The following year we aimed for two swims a month.  Great.  Marvellous.  All went according to plan.  Still wearing bathing suits.  No wetsuits for us.  They breed us strong-willed, competitive, and determined in Wellington (small point of difference that J comes from Cricklewood in England, but I have  definitely bestowed honorable kiwi status upon her - arise, Dame J).

Last year we aimed for three swims a month.  And, guess what?  Huh? - you already know?  Of, of course, you've been following this blog for years, and you're totally aware that we did an unofficially recognised minimum of 5 swims a month last year.   In August (or it could have even been September - J is in charge of our committee minutes, you'll have to ask her to fill you in), we upped the score to 7, repeat 7!  whoopee.....

This year, we're going for four.  This is one swim a week.  Four a month.  Regardless of low tides, tsunamis, icy weather, or stingrays.  Actually, secretly, I wouldn't mind pulling out,  but I couldn't bear to see the triumphant smug smirk on J's face when she completed all the swims, and I didn't.   Besides that, she'd get to keep The Cup for the whole year.  At present we share The Cup, 6 months apiece.

We have already done two swims this month (April), both for about half an hour, and both of them absolutely beautiful.  Water was crisp and calm, and the weather was the same.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Taupo trip - with Mts Ruapehu and Tongariro

Hi there

When I drove back to Wellington from Taupo a week ago, I drove past the three mountains Ruapehu , Ngarahoe and Tongariro. 

It was on Mt Ruapehu where "The Lord of the Rings" movie was filmed.  The mountain stood in for "Mt Doom".  In the summer there is scarcely any snow on it, but it still looks eerily beautiful, especially when you go past it in the very early morning when the weather is a bit misty and cloudy. 

In the same area is the famous NZ day walk called "The Tongariro Crossing".  Because, for the last few months, Mt Tongariro has been threatening a hissy fit, the walk has been pruned back a wee bit but folk are still thoroughly enjoying it.

The mountains stand alongside The Desert Road which is the one road in the whole of the North Island that I hate driving on.  In the winter it is often snow-bound  and I refuse to set a wheel on it.   I hate the tight curves at one end and the draggy long-ness at the other end.  I used to think "desert" was a stupid name for the road because I was well used to seeing desert movies like "Beau Geste" etc where the desert was just, well ... sand.  However, when I travelled through the Arizona desert area I realised then that 'desert' can just mean long stretches of nothingness and this is what The Desert Road feels like to me.   - even though it's probably not even one hour's driving!

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Tongariro