Saturday, December 27, 2014

And what's the question that gets your goat?

Hi there

I went down to Ticketek to book for a show -

"Singin' in the Rain", I announced happily to the sales attendant.  I had been waiting a long time for this musical to hit Wellington.  "Any session where I can get the closest to the stage please."   But obviously not in the front three rows;  I didn't want to get soaked during the rain scene.

The attendant started off on an obviously well-rehearsed talk about prices and seat situations; she tapped a chart to show me different areas, talking all the time-

"Oh - "  I had a sudden thought.  "Are there senior citizen prices?"

"If you would just let me finish-?"

Ah, and there it was.  The Question.

Or perhaps it's The Statement;  I'm never too sure.

There are variations, of course:  "Please let me finish?" ...  "If you'll let me finish?" ... "Please allow me to finish?"..

I hate every version.    The speaker is chastising me, and I detest that person instantly.  Sure, I've forgotten to hate the person five minutes later, but at the time I want to eviscerate him/her.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas stress????

Hi there



Monday, December 22, 2014

longest day swim

Hi there

About seven pm tonight my friend J and I suddenly realised it was the longest day today.  We had swam on the shortest day in June so it seemed fitting that we should swim, too, on the longest day.

So we shot off to Hataitai Beach.  We've never been swimming in the evening before, and we loved it.  There was no wind, flat sea, warm weather.

J' s Loved One thought we were 'totally mad' to be swimming so late in the day, but we revelled in it.  There were two other swimmers there.

There was also a nubile young women using the shower.  She was from a camper van.  I made sure that I undressed way over the other side of the shed from her.  There was no way I wanted to be compared to this blonde Swedish goddess.  Darn it, my fat thighs always immediately rule me out of serious competition.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Whakatane and Ohope Beach holiday

Hi there

I've just got back from holiday at  Ohope Beach (just over the hill from Whakatane). I left Wellington in winter clothes and by the time I hit Taupo I was peeling off layers.  Whilst I was away the temps were between 22c and 26c, and on the day I left Ohope, the temp was ... wait for it ... 29c!  Wow.

I swam every day I was away.  Mostly I'd class the 'swim' as more of a 'frolic'. Sometimes the waves were so fierce at Ohope, I couldn't even attempt to swim properly.  Maybe if I had gone out some distance, it might have been okay, but I stayed in a depth where people could see me from the shore.  To me, it was a strange beach because  I  didn't know about rips, or rocks, or low tide distances, or anything about those darn biting crabs that wanted to eat my toes. And all this stressed me a bit.

But I do love Ohope Beach.  It has just been voted New Zealanders' Favourite Beach.

Here are the volunteer guys from Ohope Surf Rescue raising the flag to show that they are on duty.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

tsunamis in Wellington?

Hi there
I was out gallivanting around Miramar recently and I came upon a tsunami escape route sign.  Leading up a hill naturally.  It's a wee bit frightening to think about.

When a civil defence woman knocked on my door some time back and asked if I had an escape route, I said "Sure, get in my car and shoot on up the hill behind my house."

"Do you have an electric garage door?" She asked.

"Yes."  I could see where this was going.  If an earthquake preceded a tidal wave, I might not be able to get my car out of the garage.  I would have to grab a bag that I could carry, instead of emptying practically the entire contents of my house into my car.

Oh dear.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

cafe sitting

"Here's your flag," said the lady in the coffee shop.  She handed over a stick with a number on it's flag.  "I'm afraid there will be a bit of a wait."

"Do you have wifi?"" I asked.  I was dying to try out my Kindle at a distance from home.

"No, sorry."

  "Well, " I ruminated, "I'll just sit down ... and stare into space."

This is the trouble when you dine alone.  If you take a book, everyone thinks you're embarrassed to be seen by yourself and are hiding behind the pages of a bodice ripper, getting your excitement there.  If you're on a tablet, you look a nerd, and on your phone, you come across as a poser.

Maybe I could take some knitting along with me next time?  Of course, I'll have to first learn how to knit. Needlepoint sounds more refined than knitting and if only I knew what needlepoint was, then I'd take it up tomorrow (surely, it can't just mean pointing a needle - if it is, I won't even need lessons; I can do that with my eyes shut.  Perhaps).

No, sigh.  I think I will just have to continue to stare into space when I take a solo trip to a cafe and have to go through that looooong wait for my food.  Either that, or go to McDonald's.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

gandalf and me - we're sooo close!

Hi there

Well, I missed the NZ premier of The Hobbit 3 movie.  Drat, why couldn't the makers of the movie have consulted me before they went ahead and scheduled The Roxy date and time.

Oh, I did take a selfie of me outside The Roxy Theatre but Gandalf did manage to hog his way into the picture.  Celebrities, huh?

Monday, December 1, 2014

boogie-ing at the beach


Yesterday I went to a different beach. I took my boogie board along with me.  The beach had lots of wild waves.  Real wild.  And such ferocious wind.
  My board, tethered to my wrist, often took to the air, like a kite. The wind turned the waves into a mad mass.
  One wave shot me underneath it, turning me topsy turvey.  I cracked my tummy against the ridge side of my board and I could feel the board breaking underneath me.  When I got thrown to the shore it was to discover the board was completely broken in two.

Superman and me?  We both have abs of steel.  I break boogie boards with my abs.  Beat that, everyone - now you can tell your pals that you know a real super hero.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Chocolate Fish Cafe, Wellington, New Zealand

Hi there

Today, about a dozen of us girls (girls?  Who am I kidding?) from the gym went to The Chocolate Fish cafe at Shelly Bay (on the Miramar Peninsula) for an end-of-year lunch.  The food was lovely, yum.   I nearly died though ecstasy when I saw this glorious cake covered in what looked like snow peaks, and chocolate shards, and cherries, but I managed - only just - to restrain myself and not have any.

Shelly Bay is where the old Air Force Base used to be several years' back.  It is now a sort of artsts' colony.  Lovely sea, harbour and hill views.  When people say they're "going for a drive around the bays", the peninsular is rated a 'must-see'..

There's all sorts of debate going on as to what should happen to the land.  Peter Jackson tried to buy it for a movie museum but that publicly fell through when suddenly the price sky-rocketed. Still, there could well be negotiations with Jackson still going on in the backgrounnd..

A campervan/caravan park has been suggested.  Also the Maori tribe who originally came from the area may be interested in some sort of project there.

The cafe was crowded today.  Cars were jammed in everywhere.  The notice, in the below photo, asks motorists not to park on the grass. 

Click for a clearer photo..

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Roxy Theatre Hobbit 3 premier

Hi there

What?  The Roxy Theatre in Miramar is going to have a New Zealand premier for "The Hobbit:  Battle of the Five Armies", at exactly the same time as the premier in London?  And I won't be able to trot along and catch all the hoopla, and glitz, and film stars, because I am obliged to be doing something else at that same time?

Here I am, living in Miramar, down the road from Stone Street Studios, Weta Workshop,  Weta Digital, the Portsmouth offices, Park Road Post, and the Roxy.  And all the excitement next week will go on without me and my camera?  Hey,  guys - change the date.  You,'re all gods to me, so I know you can do it.  Perhaps bring in Gandalf;  one air-twirl of that old man's magic staff and the Roxy premier can be moved to a much more convenient day, I'm sure of it.

Anyway, good luck, guys....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Hi there

There's a Bush/plant/flower that is officially a weed.  In ordinary talk it's called 'Kiss Me Quick' which in my opinion is a great name.  However, many, many people think it's a proper garden plant.  A guide leading a hike that I was on was laughing that it was now being sold in plant shops.  It can be pink or white and grows rapidly, spread by seed.
It is all over Miramar.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dinosaur Exhibition, Te Papa

Hi there

Yesterday I went to Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, in Wellington, to see the T-Rex dinosaur exhibit.  Goodness, those dinosaur fossils were huge!  And small.  There were tiny ones that came up to my waist.  I only came up to the ankles of the biggest dinosaur.

There was a host of school kids present, dozens upon dozens of them.  And the weird thing was that not many of these kids actually looked at the fossils that were millions of years old.  With hardly an exception they raced to the inter-active displays in front of the skeletons and starting tapping the screens.

Weird?  Anyone can do this on a home computer, surely ("Don't call me Shirley." ... no prizes for anyone guessing where that popular quote came from!).    Me?  I just wanted to peer at the real life (real dead?) dinosaurs for a long, long time.  It was almost irrelevant that the inter-active sceens were in front of me.

There is a new head honcho at Te Papa.  He says he wants to concentrate on bringing inter-active activities to the museum.  How sad.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cleaning the house

Hi there

Last Saturday, I had a group of visitors come to my house.  For five and a half days prior, I was cleaning, dusting, washing, and tidying.  I answered the phone to a friend and she wondered why I was so long picking up.  "I had my head in the toilet," I said.  "I really must get a longer toilet brush." And no, I wasn't cleaning the toilet with my silken tresses..

An hour or so before The Group arrived, I spoke to my swimming friend, J.  "That's it!  I'm done!  I am totally exhausted through all this cleaning".  I explained to her that the one place that neither my short arms nor the vacuum cleaner could easily reach was the small square of carpet under the television.

"I stretched as far as I could beneath the coffee table," I said.  "But come on, who's going to look under there?   It's all cords and connectors, and whatnot."  I figured this dusty area was safe from prying eyes. 

The Group arrived on time.  John brought along a laptop.  He crawled under the tv to plug in the cord of his laptop.

Aw, no ... 

Is "dust bunnies!" a swear word?   It definitely should be.


PS:    My friend, J, says I should have handed John a duster whilst he was under the tv.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to tell that you're old!

Hi there

Yesterday, I was in a tizz, rushing to make my dinner and then go out.  I put the lettuce bowl in the hot oven and reached out to put my peeled potatoes into the fridge.


I rushed to the oven....  "No-no-no!!!" 

The lettuce in its plastic bowl had only been in the oven about 5 seconds, but I was horrified.

Why is it that if someone in oh, let's say their twenties,  put a lettuce into the oven by mistake, everyone would think it hilarious, but if I do it as a senior citizen, I could be rushed into a rest home?

We have to be very careful over momentary lapses.  A friend worked at the hospital.  She told me a memory mistake reported to a doctor could well see us oldies taken into care.

Oh dear, I hope my doctor is not reading this blog.  Doc, I'm sure that my lettuce mishap was truly a oncer (fingers crossed).

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thunderbirds at the Roxy Theatre, Miramar

Hi there

At the moment, the Roxy Theatre in Miramar - partly owned by Jamie Selkirk and Tania Roger who are both from Weta - is having a Thunderbirds exhibition in the upstairs foyer.  Just ask staff if you can go up and take a look.

There is a a cabinet full of Thunderbird collectables.  Also exact replica models made by Weta worker and Thunderbirds fan, David Tremont.

 The above model of Thunderbird 2 was truly big...  four feet long???   Waaay over a metre...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Smaug at Wellington Airport

Hi there

Yesterday Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop unveiled - at Wellington Airport -  the giant sculpture of Smaug, the bad dragon from The Hobbit movies.  I trotted down to the airport this morning to have a nosy.  Unfortunately, I happened to get there at exactly the same time as the 200 winners from around the world who had won a trip to New Zealand travelling around Hobbit and LOTR locations.  They spent yesterday in Wellngton, including seeing the upcoming Hobbit 3 movie:  Rise of the Five Armies.  In advance of the preview next month.  Wow.... Jealous, anyone?

Anyway, these fans were congregated around Smaug at the airport so I couldn't really devote the time needed to take a good photo.  The organisers were being interviewed by tv and I heard them say that they were bound by contract not to reveal anything about the upcoming movie.

There was also a bunch of school children present.  They were totally overawed.  The dragon slowly opened and closed its evil eye.  Any faster, and it would have been a wink.  My beating heart would surely have told me if Benedict Cumberbatch was hiding inside Smaug..

Hataitai Beach showers

Hi there

The other day J and I were getting into our bathing suits in the changing sheds at Hataitai Beach when a young woman came bounding in, shampoo, soap, and towel in hand, and chattered away to us.   We think, by her accent, she was probably American.  American women do tend to bounce and chatter, and isn't it lovely?  I'm sure I was meant to be born American because I'm a chatterer/ as well.  When my friends and I were very young teens, to flumox our elders, we grandly used American words like "movies" instead of  "pictures" , and once we were actually inside the movie thee-ate-her, we proclaimed that we were watching  "trailers", not "shorts".  Hard to believe now how unusual all that was then, eh?

Anyway, J and I were about to step down into the water when we heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the shower in the changing sheds..  I rushed towards the shed, calling out frantically "Are you all right?" to the woman we'd left there only a minute or so before.  Maybe she'd slipped in the shower?   Blood might be everywhere, I'd have to call an ambulance, and was my mobile in the car or had I left it, as per usual, at home?  Oh dear.

Back came the agonised shout, "The water is sooooo cold!!".

"Oh, okay, then..."

As J and I got into the sea, there were many more anguished cries coming from that shower-box.

Poor woman.  Hataitai Beach regulars are trained to accept the cold water.  In fact, there is always a mad un-genteel rush to be first into the shower after a swim because the first ten or so seconds of gushing-out water has often been warmed in the pipes by the sun.

Now that the next door Evans Bay Marina parking area has been designated for campervans, I expect we will get many more travellers using the men/women showers. 

Take note, tourists, all shower water in changing sheds around Wellington is cold.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

my friend, Lorraine Soto

3 November (NZ time)

R.I.P   Lorraine Soto

hairstylist supreme  .... 
wonderful friend (Lorraine No. 1) .....
and human mother to Coco, my little Wednesday dog.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rugby in the United Sates

Hi  there

My American readers (all two of them?) may be interested in today's blog.  I am writing this on 1st November, New Zealand time.  This weekend, the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks (since 1902 or thereabouts the team have been wearing 'all black') will be in Chicago playing the American Eagles, the United States rugby team.  The stadium is apparently sold out.   It is a big thing for us.  Not so much, perhaps, for America.  We hope that this weekend's game will be a giant springboard for the growth of rugby in the USA.

When the Eagles were in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup a few years' back, they showed great promise.  At the time, I was sure that given a few more years they would become a team to be reckoned with.   I was a World Cup volunteer and met the Eagles.  Such nice guys....

9 swims in October.  One swim today, first for November.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

heaps of clothes

Hi there

The other day I was standing in the midst of a heap of clothes that almost reached as high as my knees.  What should I throw out and what should I keep?  Prime Ministers and Presidents have surely not had deeper problems to deal with.

Every now and then I feel guilty about the amount of clothes I keep that I don't often put on.  But, come on ... that luminous multi-coloured speckled glitter top?  I might wear it one day because my life is such a giddy round of disco evenings, yes?

The worst thing is that 90% of my clothes are beach-casual.  I have, maybe, three things that are suitable to wear when I go to town or have afternoon tea with my posh friends (my non-posh friends and I share tomato sandwiches at the beach, and we're in our bathing suits.  A sarong is about as classy as we get).

I love to haunt the charity shops.  I am always bringing home A Find.  The trouble is A Find that looks glorious in the mirror of the fitting room does rather tend to show off my big bottom or my sticking out tummy in my own mirror at home.  So most times, A Find goes straight-away into a charity bag.   Ah, the circle of  lifestyle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Hobbit 3 movie: Air New Zealand Safety Video


The Hobbit:  the Battle of the five Armies

Here's Air New Zealand's latest safety video, all very Hobbit-y.  Richard Taylor and Peter Jackson are in it.  So is Wellington Airport.  Oh, there appears to be more real New Zealand scenery in this video than in any of The Hobbit movies!

(goodness, I wish I knew how to put the actual video on my blog.  Here's the link...)

My friend J is triumphant in her quest to bring The Good Life to hataitai Beach

Hi there

By now, my five readers realise that my friend, J, can get hot under her collar over several things.  The colour of the sea,  as a for instance.  Of course, she's completely wrong over that topic, but a few months ago she  started mumbling about the fading signage over the entrance to the ladies' changing shed at Hataitai Beach.

For quite some time the opposite sex, looking for a toilet,  have been wandering in to our shed by mistake, usually when J and I are hopping around trying to shove wet legs into damp trousers.  A couple of months ago,  J could stand it no longer, and sent a very nice email off to Wellington City Council, explaining the dilemma.

Her email was obviously too nice because nothing happened for a time.  Then 'voila!', or should that word be viola!'?  Maybe it's even 'violet!'?  - our reader who dances in France could no doubt tell me in a flash.  This week we noticed that not one, but two new signs have miraculously appeared.  The men's changing shed signage has had a brush-up, too. 

Of course J is beaming. It's not often WCC bows to a ratepayer's wishes.  Preen hard while you can, J, and bask in the glory.  The day will surely come when the rubbish truck misses out your street, or the road in front of your house springs forth a geyser,  or the guy next door blares out AC/DC at 2 am in the morning.   The response may not be as quick as a couple of months next time.

Oh, and the sea was so beautifully blue yesterday....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weta talk by Richard Taylor at Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Hi there

Today was the last talk at Te Papa by Weta staff.  Richard Taylor, head of Weta Workshop produced a  light-hearted session.  He started off by showing pictures from babyhood upwards.  When he was just a kid he found mud in the stream at the bottom of his garden and started sculpting.   Now, he prefers to use Nelson White clay to create models.  The clay comes in immense blocks.  Most people would just see a lump of clay but Richard says he sees a monster, a creature, a castle....  And he can't wait to get his hands in the clay.

Richard said that though Weta dealt wth hardware, they preferred to call it 'heartware' because every image that was made up had to come from the heart of the person doing the creating.  He said that if young people wanted to work for Weta it was no use sending in just the typical portfolio that encompassed only things they had been trained to do in classes.  At the end of each portfolio book, he wanted to see the indvidualism, the heart, the imaginaton of the artist.

He showed shots from the New Thunderbirds series and also spoke of a projected animation tale about a bi-polar polar bear.

What a lovely man.  And still with a great love that shines through for his work.  I have hardly drawn a picture in my life and certainly never sculpted anything.  But listening to an ethusiastic Richard, I suddenly wanted to run out of Te Papa and start working on my very own lump of clay.


There is a dinosaur exhibition at Te Papa at the moment, with a transportation container in the forecourt.  Notices on the container say something like 'danger, live dinsosaur inside'.  And there are loud roars coming from within.  The kids love it.

attention: my laptop is playing up.  I can't seem to type properly on it.  It may break down completely soon.  If I havent downloaded a blog entry for, say, over a week, I hope you will understand...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hataitai Beach

Hi there-

..."it isn't."

"It is."



Honestly, my swimming friend, J, and I were bickering like a couple of five year olds.  We were standing on the footpath in front of Hataitai Beach, and contemplating the sea.

One of my favourite readers had left a comment about a photo I had recently taken of the beach.  She mentioned that the water was a lovely blue.

J disputed this.  She gazed across to the sea.  "It's not blue. It's never blue."

"Come on, it is."


"What colour is it, then?" I demanded.

"It's .... green/grey."

"It's blue.  Soft blue."


"Tisn't."  I was barely an inch away from a tantrum.

It seemed, so was J. "Tis...," she said determinedly.

And we were off again.  Goodness ... friends have split up over lesser subjects.


Here's a picture I took today, after our 6th swim for the month.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Hi there

Yesterday, I went to the latest talk at Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand/) by Weta personnel.  I learnt a great deal about digital work.  Again, I was surprised how often digital doubles are used in The Hobbit movies, especially for close-ish shots.

 Luke, who appeared in lots of the movies in all different guises was made-up and dressed as an Orc whilst a video presentation on make-up was shown, and a talk given.  The audence had been told last week not to take photos, so this week I left my camera and my phone at home.  Naturally, this time we were told we could take photos!  I did think of photo-bombing all the photos being taken and then asking for copies to be sent me but I thought this would be taking my sitcom queen reputation a little too far. 

Today (Sunday, NZ time) my swimming friend J and I trotted down to Hataitai Beach and had a positively wonderful swim.  The water was calm and clear, the sky was blue, the weather warm, and we got carried away discussing world affairs.

 I explained that years and years ago, I went to a hand-writing expert.

I said to J:  "The woman asked me 'How do you doodle-?"

J broke in on my tale, sporting a big grin.    "I'm fine, thank you.   How do you do-odle?"

Don't give up your day job, J.....   Oh, wait, you're retired.  Maybe they will accept you for a stint at the Comedy Club after all.

Here's a pic of Hataitai Beach taken today.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Scott Bakula and Kate Mulgrew

Hi there

You know that I like Las Vegas, right?   I love television and movies, too.   Las Vegas and show biz go  together.  Celebrities gravitate to LV.  I mean, Celine Dion ... Rod Stewart ... Jerry Seinfeld ... Olivia Newton-John.... Penn & Teller ... One Direction ... Faith Hill .... Tim McGraw ...Grumpy Cat ...

I missed out on Grumpy Cat last August but, my goodness, I caught up with a few others who were appearing there on publicity jaunts.

Here's a happy me between Kate Mulgrew (she plays 'Red' in the series "Orange is the New Black"), and Scott Bakula who is the star of the new "NCIS: New Orleans", which is starting up on our Prime channel tv screens this coming Friday.  They were both lovely people, and so natural.

Kate said to me that she wished someone would invite her to New Zealand.  Any offers?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weta at Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand)

Hi there
Today, I trotted along to Te Papa to listen to talks by Weta Digital worker, Matt Aitkin and Weta Workshoppers Dan Falconer, Paul Tobin, and Ben Hawker.   Many videos were used showing Weta projects.  We saw, for instance, how a dragon was made:-  first an un-detailed flying and flapping image, then skeleton, followed up by muscles, skin folds and wrinkles, etc.  Fascinating.

 In answer to a question from the audience Matt admitted that 'making miniatures are a part of history now'.  It is so much easier to go straight to the computer, he said. This statement was in direct contrast to that of Dan, Paul and Ben who later said they were still sculpting miniatures.  Disagreements, lads?

Dan said that they were re-booting 'Thunderbirds".  Using miniatures.  They have to whip up props in a matter of days.  They've gratefully rescued toner tubes, bits of Lego, and broken hairdryers to build vehicles. 

It was acknowledged that LOTR was filmed with a great deal of real scenery, but 'The Hobbit' has hardly any; it's practically all digitally done.  Judging by the examples we saw, I was surprised how many times digital doubles were used in The Hobbit movies.

Honestly, it appears to me that give it - what? -  20 years, and there will be no actors.  Everything will be digitally controlled.  That's sad.  I loved LOTR because the movies showcased NZ.  'The Hobbit' showcases ... where?

The Te Papa theatre was booked in advance and sold out.  An off-shoot room was, I believe, used for live streaming.  But about 50 people didnt turn up at the main theatre so I suggest that if you can't register for these free sessions and want to attend over the next two Saturday afternoons, roll up at Te Papa, and hang around the theatre doors after the main wave of people have gone through - you may be allowed in .

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

hailstorms and swims

HI there

J and I managed 10 swims during September.  We trotted down to the beach on the 1st of October to find the sands all but inundated with people (well, there were a couple of families).  It was the Spring school holidays.  Half a dozen wet-suited swimmers were in the water and some toddlers were playing in the shallows.

J and I swam in our bathing suits, revealing bare shoulders and legs.  We tried to look sniffily down our noses at the wet suited ones but actually they went further out than we usually do, and swam with really powerful strokes and, so, I'll give those guys a point or two for professionalism.  The trouble with us is that we get carried away talking to each other during our swimming sessions and sometimes we stop swimming to expound on a theory, gesticulating wildly to prove a point.  Oh dear. 

Bright spot, however:  we did stay in longer than the wet-suited ones.

Oh, a couple of weeks ago, Wellington had hail.  I was surprised when I looked at the photo that I took from out of a relative's front doorway.  There appear to be fairy bubbles floating around.  Or did my cheap ratty camera actually capture the hailstones mid-flight?

I see that Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) here in Wellington are celebrating 20 years of Weta.  Everty Saturday this month there will be talks by Weta personnel about the making of Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, and The Hobbit.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

handbag snatching

Hi there

Isn't it sad about the good samaritan mum of six kids, the one that went to the aid of an elderly woman who was having her handbag snatched outside an Auckland supermarket this week?  The good samaritan mum was punched to the ground, hit her head on the pavement and was rushed to hospital with brain damage and a fractured skull.  The offender, a youth of 17 years, has been caught, thanks to video surveillance and reports from the public.

I had my shoulder bag snatched about ten years ago.  I was wandering through Miramar happily thinking about the joys of the lovely weather, the strap of my bag dangling casually from one shoulder.  Suddenly my bag was snatched by a youth who had come up behind me.  He raced away.

Thank goodness I was in trainers, with no plantar fasciitis and visited the gym practically every day.   I raced after him, shouting "Stop thief".  As I was running, I did think shouting "Stop, thief" was a bit naff because no thief, surely, would stop just because I was asking him to.  So, I changed the shouts to "Stop the thief!".

He raced around the corner and I did, too.  We must have run about 400 metres.  Then a car pulled up alongside the thief and he hurtled into it.

I stopped running, exhausted.  Oh, no, my credit cards and bank details were in my bag-

But then a car came zooming down the road chasing the thief's vehicle, with horn honking frantically.  The car was driven by a young woman, with a child in the back.  She had heard my cries.

The two cars turned a corner, but within minutes the woman drove back ... waving my shoulder bag out of her open window.  The thief had chucked it out of his car.

"I gestured to the driver that I had their licence number," the woman told me.  "So they threw out the bag to make me stop and pick it up.  They sped away."

A woman who lived in the street had called the police.  Long story short, there was enough evidence to leisurely arrest the thief.  He got community service.   I went along to the court date and did a lot of glaring at the offender.  And, today I always wear the strap of my bag across my chest.

I now know for a fact that good samaritans can pop up anywhere ....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prisons heritage centre, Wellington

Hi there

This morning I trotted along to the Corrections Department's heritage centre, a ground floor room in Mayfair House, behind 44 The Terrace, here in the middle of Wellington city, and open to everyone, for free.  There are prison officer uniforms through the years, historical information, early execution details, photos, electronic ankle cuffs, the smallest prison cell in  the country, log books, and prison artifacts.

It was very interesting, especially when I remembered that my pioneer ancestors were the first Europeans to be robbed by bushrangers in the South Island. 

below:  note the ball and chain


Below:  so hard to take a 'selfie' when holding a baton or handcuffs!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Passing through Security at Brisbane Airport

Hi there

As I was passing through Brisbane Airport, Australia, on the way to the United States last month, the lady on the Security counter pulled me over:

"Take your bangle off please."


"I want to see your bangle."

It was a Gucci silver bangle that I'd picked up at a second hand shop for a song.(No, the song was not "Baubles, Bangles, & Beads").  I peeled it off my wrist, handed it over.

After a quick glance at the inside of the bangle, the woman relaxed.  "You can go," she said, with a dismissive wave.

I was intrigued.  I asked why my bangle had been singled out for examination.

"If it had been gold colour on the inside instead of silver,  you would have been in trouble..."

I have been intrigued ever since.  Why would it matter if the inside of my silver bangle had been a gold colour?. Did a 'gold' coating have something to do with drugs? 

Only recently, I watched one of those border security tv programmes (a lot of countries seem to have such a programme).  A woman had silver plated her pure gold jewellery before she entered Australia so as she wouldnt have to pay some sort of duty on the gold which would have been thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Was this why my bangle had been singled out?  Had the Brisbane security folk thought I'd been a gold smuggler?  How exciting.   I maybe missed being on 'Border Secruity Australia' by ..... this much!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hataitai Beach - Seven swims for September


Today J and I got in our seventh swim at Hataitai Beach for September.  It was quite nice in the sea.  We had stood looking at the water for quite a few minutes deciding whether or not to go in.  The wind was positively howling around  us and the waves were rearing up like in a gale.

Yesterday when we were swimming we were laughingly trying to come up with alphabetical happenings in alphabetical countries (if between us we can remember what we came up with we'll let you read it).  The trouble was that we were having such a hysterically hilarious time thinking up way-out things that we forgot to take note of how long we were in the water.  We were twenty minutes!  In the colder months, twenty minutes is too long.

Twenty minutes felt great at the time but when we were out we were shaking and shivering so much.  I couldn't do up my shoelaces, my fingertips were so numb.

Oh, Thong Man was in the water. He  wears a bathing cap.  For warmth?  He has nothing across his bottom.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Coincidence. Or what?

Hi there

Remember how, a couple of years ago, I referred to myself as The Sitcom Queen because situation comedy things kept happening to me?  Well, here's a recent example of it all starting up again....

As I type this, it is about  9 45 am, Sunday morning New Zealand time.  On Thursday morning, I was out in my car when I suddenly got it into my head to  carry straight on to Lake Taupo for a couple of nights (a five and three-quarter hour journey away from home).  I only had with me what was in the car.

The following morning (Friday), I was at the AC Pools in Taupo, having had a swim - naturally, my swimming gear was in the car - and doing up the shoelaces of my trainers in the changing room.

Oh, no ... I was wearing odd shoes!!

I had been wearing them, obliviously, since I left home.  I would have to wear them all day - being totally aware of my feet all the time - as I shopped around Taupo.  I would have to wear them the next day when I drove home.

But then, coincidence, karma, call it what-you-will ....    After listening to my cries of woe, a fellow swimmer calmly said, "Isn't today 'Wear Odd Shoes to Work Day'?"


"It's a charity thing to help awareness of kids with cancer.  There will be collectors on the street."


"You're safe," said the woman.

OMG.....  Could you believe it?  I strode out through the Taupo area, head high, shoes ill-matching.  I even got a wink from the street collector after I dropped a sizable donation into his box.

It's not every day coincidence rears up to rescue you....

Below:  Two Mile Bay, Lake Taupo.  My fave Taupo walk (Lions Walk)

Below:  On way to Taupo, approaching Mt Ruapehu (Mt Doom in "Lord of the Rings" movies").  Click to get a better picture.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The McCarthys - new tv show

Hi there

In Las Vegas, I trotted along to the MGM Grand to review a couple of work-in-progress  tv shows.   I see that one of them - The McCarthys - has been bought by Prime TV, here in NZ, and will show,perhaps, over the coming season (spring).

When I was rating the show for the tv people, there was no music or credits.  It was in a rough state.  I was asked at the end to review every character in the programme, the plot, the show itself.  It's difficult to think that what I typed down on the form might sway a giant studio as to how they finish  off on a show, the casting, etc.

I enjoyed The McCarthys, gave the show and its cast a high rating.  It was a situation comedy about a close-knit family, including a gay son.  T'he family are continually trying to partner him off.  They want him to stay at home, instead of zipping off to another city to live.  So much so, that they give him a job as assistant coach to the father's basketball team, even though the son doesnt know a thing about basketball.

 I wonder if the basketball aspect will find favour with overseas watchers?

It will be shown this Northern Hemisphere autumn in the States.  Here's the trailer.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wonderful little memories...

Hi there

After I had grizzled about the cold last week, a reader of this blog sent a comment about a nice experience she'd had that day.  She was sitting in front of a bandstand in a leafy square in Paris  (jealous, anyone?), listening to some music, when a Frenchman asked her to dance.  There was nobody else dancing but, still, she happily took up this guy's offer.  A magic moment?   I bet this reader will remember that spontaneous dance with a stranger for a long time...

Our friend, J, told me that she  had a similar few magic moments.  When she was younger, a boyfriend took her for a ride on his motorbike.  They stopped off at a fish and chip shop.  Sitting on the curb, eating those fish and chips, bike and boyfriend beside her, sun beating down,  J was radiantly happy.  Suddenly, she  felt sorry for the Queen who would never get to experience anything as simple as sitting on a curb eating fish and chips out of newspaper.

Sometimes a five, ten, or fifteen minute period in our life has been so wonderful or fulfilling or so humorous that we rate such an experience as high, or higher  than any of our overseas trips, posh cars, or designer clothes.   Isn't that nice?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seal watching in Wellington.

Last Sunday, I decided that enough was enough...  No more literally pussy-footing around.  My plantar fasciitis of the heel, after 22 months, was unofficially Cured!  I was determined to walk along the Red Rocks track to see the seals.

What a marathon.  I'd forgotten that a good half of the track would be seeing me trudge knee-deep (I do exaggerate) in stones, rocks, pebbles.   The other half was sucky sand.  Because of this, the trek was kind of exhausting.  When I returned home, I could hardly drag myself through my front door, I was so tired.  Really, I should never have made My First Big Outing over such rough ground.

I did see some seals.  Afterwards, I was telling my friend, J,  that the sign at the colony said the seals were only there from May to August.

"So, they'll be gone tomorrow," I said.  The next day being the 1st of September.

"How do the seals know to leave by the 1st of September?", asked J.

"They read the sign,"

"Oh, of course," J said.

If you look real closely, you can see seals dotted here and there in the above photo.

In the below picture, you can see, in the distance, the South Island of New Zealand.

Oh, I see I have a few readers from Turkey who have popped in for a look-see.  Now, let's hope I get this right, or my Turkish friend will never forgive me ...  Merhaba Nasilsiniz .....

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wellington Blown Away Sign - WOWington???

Hi there
As my five readers know, I took a photo of the "Wellington Blown Away" sign when Weta first put it up on the hill leading to Miramar:

Then just recently the 'W' was replaced by a 'V' to advertise "What We Do In The Shadows", a vampire movie created by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, and set in Wellington:

Yesterday, the sign was changed to "Wowington"


PS:  one hour later:  I now think it's to publicise The World of Wearable Arts (WOW) which is on next month.  Several Weta workers, in the past,  have had costume entries in WOW and won prizes in their respective classes (see a blog from last year).  It's worth looking up past winners of WOW; you will be over-awed.  I promise.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I've had a breakdown!

Hi there
No, no, I havent been stressed out.  Oh, wait, maybe I have.  Hey, here's the story....

Today, J and I went for a swim at Hataitai Beach.  Water temperature was cold, and getting dressed afterwards in the sheds was hellishly cold.  We walked back to our cars, with J's Loved One in tow.  Everything as per usual-

"Bye," I shouted getting into my car.  "See you, maybe, tomorrow."  There'd probably be a couple of phone calls and maybe two or three texts before then.

J's car pulled away.  I turned the ignition key on my car.

Nothing.  No engine whine.  Not even a cough.  Uh-oh.

Panic pants.

I called the Automobile Association.  I also texted J.   J and her loved one arrived first.  It's nice to have friends with you when you're having a couple of breakdowns.

My car needed a new battery.  My nine year old battery was not going to meet it's tenth anniversary.

$150.  Oh dear.

photographer:  J's Loved One

Friday, August 29, 2014

Packing for the beach (in winter)

Hi there

It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff my friend, J, and I  take with us for just, say, a one hour Hataitai Beach visit in winter.  I take more with me to the beach than I took to Las Vegas for a fortnight. 

We approach the beach with almost-bursting backpacks on our shoulders and the overlap bundled up in our arms.  Hopeless.  Next week, I may take a suitcase.

We are longer getting changed out of our bathing suits than we are swimming in the water.  When we're dripping wet, freezing cold, with numb fingers and toes, and with umpteen warm clothes to put on, it takes forever.  Sweaters get caught up in a damp roll on your back, bras can't be clipped because of fingers that can't be felt, and knee-high woollen socks refuse to go over icy cold feet.  I won't even mention the trouble of putting on knickers and long pants.  Well, yes, I will mention that actually because it is soooo difficult hopping around the puddled floor trying to put soaking wet calves into the proper pants leg.

What about the ceiling-high slatted open window that draughts down on us?  Oh, and have I ever  mentioned the floor of the Hataitai Beach changing shed is comprised of wooden boards with gaps between them? - the wind roars up your nether regions like an antarctic gust. 

It is usually at this point that I swear never-never-never am I winter swimming ever-ever-ever again.

Below pic:  today's bag prior to leaving home... 

P.S:  below picture was taken after today's swim.  Seventh for the month.

What?  Cold?  Moi? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Me, freezing at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

J and I have now got 6 swims under our belts for the month of August. Yesterday was low tide at Hataitai Beach and we had to plod a fair way out into the water before the sea even got up to our ankles. My friend, J, got under the water first and then I suddenly felt in my guts a "No, I don't want to do this' moment. I just stood there like a (literally) frozen statue. At that moment, I swear I would rather have jumped out of a plane then throw myself down under that August winter water.

It hadn't helped that a few moments before as the water had crept up to my hips, I moaned, "My knees are freezing cold".  Of course, J went into hysterics because my hips, legs,and toes were also under icy water and, yet, I was only worried about my knees!

After waffling for about a minute that felt like an hour, I threw myself into the sea, and it was quite nice but oh dear is that sudden not-wanting-to-do-it feeling how adventure sports people feel before they eventually go for it (or not)?

Hataitai Beach.  Ah, summer memories....

Can't Sleep? Try J's solution

Hi there

No, you haven't hit an infomercial by mistake....  My friend, J, was having trouble sleeping so, being the classy senior that she is, she didn't choose to count common or garden, or even meadow sheep.  No, J decided to alphabetise a short verse.

She was a long time getting to sleep:


Alice Began Calypso Dancing Every Friday.
Gary Had Intended Joining Karate Lessons Monday Nights.
Olive Played Quoits Regularly.
Susan Tried Using Violin,
Wendy Xylophone,
Yvonne Zither.

                                                   Jay, Wellington, NZ

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

those wind wands

Hi there


I've noticed over the last few years that quite a few cities both here in New Zealand and, also, overseas, have wind wands, even though sometimes they've been called different names.  The one in New Plymouth is The Wind Wand, the one in Wellington is The Zephrometer.  They're classed as sculptures.  They are very high, point to the heavens, and they sway from side to side according to the powerfulness of the wind.  Once or twice I have actually seen our wand all but horizontal.  Wellington is notoriously known as 'Windy Wellington'.

Our wand is in Kilbirnie which is the suburb between me in Miramar and Hataitai beach where I swim with my friend J.

Lightening struck our wind wand a week or so ago.  The top few metres got hit directly, burnt and split.  See above picture.

I hope the wand gets ressurected.  The artist is overseas at the moment but he will reassess the situation next month.

I love the delicious feeling of bravery I get when I drive under the wind wand.  I have often thought it could crash down on top of me in a really terrific wind storm.  I never once visualised lightening.  It's sad to see it tied down horizontally nowadays (see below photo).

Hataitai Beach is about 400 metres behind the wind wand in the bottom photo.


J and I have now done our 5 minimum swims for August, at Hataitai Beach. - August is the coldest month of our winter and it has been tough to get in those five swims.  It has been especially cold the last three times.  My toes have been like blocks of ice for hours afterwards.