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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tap'n'Go, Pay'n'Wave - all those credit/debit cards


Now that New Zealand is moving over to cards that can be just flicked in front of a little contraption on a counter in a shop,  and money is instantly taken from you, a lot of folk are worried.  Okay, it's an $80 maximum, but is it safe?  Perhaps it's an urban myth that you can just walk past the machine and your card can be recognised from inside a handbag or wallet.  And what about skimming?  Can a baddie with a hand-held 'skimmer' just brush past you in the mall and get your credit or debit card details?

The bank told me not to worry.  "It's only $80, at the most," the bank lady said.

"But what's stopping a thief who has my credit card going in and out of a hundred shops, working his way down Lambton Quay, and using my card a hundred x $80?"

She laughed.  "We'd be on them in a trice.  Our computers would recognise an irregular pattern.,"

I dug out an old card holder that I had.  It's some sort of metal.  I put my credit card inside it - fitted perfectly - and I took it down to the supermarket self-service check-out.  I bought a loaf of bread and zipped the bread  across the barcode thingee.  .I waved my little metal card holder frantically in front of the Pay'n'wave machine

Nothing.  No money was put on to my credit card..

I took the card out of the little metal card-holder and waved the card.  The machine put $2.99 onto my credit card..

Eureka!   These little metal card holders (they probably take two or three cards) can be bought at a lot of gift shops.  I think they were originally for business cards.  When I was in the States, I saw specially-produced holders which had several divisions for, maybe, half a dozen cards.  They cost roughly $10, and were advertised as stopping skimmers  

Below is my card holder.

25 September:  the same multi-pocketed holders that I saw in the States have hit New Zealand because I saw them in a gift shop in Bulls last week.   Here's a similar picture, but the ones I saw in Bulls and Vegas were patterned.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Warner Bros Studio, Los Angeles

As my four readers know by now, I truly loved visiting Warner Bros Studios in Los Angeles.  Here's a pic of me on the couch on the set of "Friends" - the Central Perk coffee shop.  Also, a pic of the 'space capsule' that the "Big Bang Theory" character, Wolowitz, went into space in - back and front views.

I visited the set for "Two and a Half Men" but wasn't allowed to take photos.

Whilst I was in America, it was "Big Bang Theory" episodes being shown over and over again.  When I returned home, it was "Big Bang Theory" episodes being shown over and over again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Las Vegas Ferris Wheel


I've just read that the new ferris wheel in Las Vegas is going to be the biggest ferris wheel in the world.  When I was in Vegas last month (August 2013), I saw it in the process of being built and I just thought "Ho-hum, another giant ferris wheel, you can't go anywhere around the world now without tripping over them...." 

But as I have just this moment (five minutes ago, actually) found out, well, I will repeat it, that this is the BIGGEST ferris wheel in the world.... and it opens for business this coming Monday.  Wow, I witnessed history in the making.  I even took some pics, from out of the monorail window.

(Oh, J and I got in our third swim at Hataitai Beach, for september, yesterday. It's easier to do a Hi-3 after a swim than it is to do a Hi-1.  Hi-5 is the ideal, of course, in most people's books.  However, a Hi-10 is our most satisfying.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

1st swim for September at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

Between bad weather and a round of head colds, there hasn't been any swimming for nearly two weeks.  Today (Saturday), however, we made it down to Hataitai Beach.   It was low tide, so we trooped out forever until the water got up to a reasonable height to allow us to low-dive in.  J and I felt so good.  It was extremely hard, however, to do a "Hi-1" to celebrate the first swim for September - we used index fingers!  We do prefer our Hi-whatevers to be in double digits.

The steps leading from the changing sheds down to the water are re-built.  Thank you, Wellington City Council.  We are breathlessly awaiting the arrival of the repair guy to water-proof and splinter-proof the steps, and to add rims.

The bottom step of the new steps doesn't quite meet up with the concrete step that's already in the water.  The consequence is that it's now one big leap for (wo)mankind.   We oldies don't look so elegant stepping(stumbling?  leaping?  jumping? crawling?  falling?) down into the sea.

Other People's Meals

Hi there

I'm in a restaurant or a cafe.  I'll be reading a menu and salivating over the obviously delicious choices of food open to me.  But then - groan - disappointment....

Whatever I order from a menu doesn't look as good as the food delivered to my friend sitting next to me.  No, hang on, let me change that:  my plate of food doesn't look as good as the plates of the half a dozen people sitting around my table-  Wait- no!  Make that my food sucks compared to everybody's food in the restaurant!

My friends are over-awed that whatever I order always comes across as the most uninteresting-looking dish ever.. 

"Oh, look, Lorraine's done it again.  Is that flat muddy-looking dollop on her plate supposed to be Fish a la Fantastico."

Yes, it is.  And it usually tastes like mud, too.

Truly, I have no idea how others do it, how they unerringly choose The Right Dish  A dish with fancy foodie flibbertigibbits, and meat that looks like it should be in the Museum of Modern Art instead of on a plate at my local cafe, and not to forget the intricate patterns drawn in sauce around the rim of the plate that would make Gordon Ramsay and, perhaps, Michaelangelo were he still alive, weep in ecstasy?

It tastes good, too.  Apparently.  So, my friends gushingly tell me.

Oprah told me once, from the tv, that she has the knack of always picking The Right Dish.  She was the envy of her friends.    I wish I knew her trick.   Or her friends.  It would be great to sit in with a bunch of others who also knew all about ordering The Wrong Dish.  I wouldn't feel so out of it.

At buffets, I sometimes excel.  But, then, buffets are like kindergartens for people like me, aren't they?  Diners are closeted, steered toward pretty entrees and yummy-looking desserts.  The food is laid out in front of you.  It's not hard to pick The Right Dish at a buffet.

Here's some more food from the buffets in Las Vegas.  Thank the heavens for buffets...



Monday, September 2, 2013

United States and Kiwi television commercials

Hi there

I couldn't get over the pharmaceutical tv commercials when I was in the States.  Across the top of about three-quarters of, say, a pill commercial,  a voice would drone out warning the possible purchaser of side effects..... "....wind, bloating, anaemia, diarrhea, coughing, flu, plantar fasciitis, glacoma, corns, earache, botulism, fever, the black plague, zombie-ism, bunions, tennis elbow, the ague, fatigue, angry mothers-in-law, obesity, anorexia, alcoholism, scurvy, toothache, hallucinations, seeing fairies at the bottom of the garden, old age, youth, square eyes, housemaid's knee.....

Well, you get the idea.  Because of the length of the droning, nothing of any consequence that required conversation could be done in the actual underlying commercial.  So, there was always a scene of a vibrant family, usually with a dog, and a ball, gambolling happily through fields of daisies.  Quite a change from NZ tv commercials where we usually just have a tiny-teeny hard-to-read line at the bottom of a screen advertising health products that, perhaps, reads: "Possible side effects.  Please see your pharmacist."

Incidentally, a friend's relative came over from England and couldn't get over the sheep drench adverts we show in prime time.

My favourite NZ tv commercial of all time is the Cadbury Crunchie Bar Great Train Robbery from the 1970's.  It features the old steam train, the Kingston Flyer out of Queenstown, which tourists can still ride, See below.


I went and saw Rod Stewart at Caesars Palace when I was in Las Vegas.  He was fantastic.  He kicked soccer balls right up into the top tier of the audience.  For an old guy, he can certainly cavort around that stage.  His voice is still great.  Below is a pic of the curtain in the theatre before the show started, and also a pic of the outside advertising.