Thursday, May 29, 2014

We managed it! - 6 swims at Hataitai Beach for May 2014

Hi there

Well, the title says it all:  J and I have got in 6 swims for this month but, oh-my-goodness, there were so many obstacles for us to hurdle.  Everything seemed to band together to stop us getting in our very, very, very minimum of four swims for the month (as I write this it is 30th May NZ time)


I was just thinking about NZ actors.  Years ago, I remember growling to my friends that whilst Aussie and English actors got to Hollywood, kiwis never seemed to make it.  But now, there are a few I can mention.  Russell Crowe is New Zealand-born, but was an Aussie growing up.  The same goes for Manu Bennett who is now an actor on the series "Arrow".

Anna Paquin from "True Blood" was the other way around.  I believe she was born Canadian but, of course, she grew up as a Kiwi.

Lucy Lawless (Xena, Warrior Princiess;  Battlestar Galatica, Spartacus) is a true New Zealander and still lives here most of the time.  Melanie Lynskey who plays Rose in "Two and a Half Men" was a Peter Jackson discovery from way back.  Sam Neill pops up in lots of films - he has a vineyard and winery (Two Paddocks) out of tourist spot Queenstown and is often seen striding around that area.  And not to forget The Flight of the Conchords who both come from Wellington (Brett wrote the oscar-winning song from the Muppet movie, a couple of years back).

Karl Urban plays Dr McCoy (Bones) in the new rebooted "Star Trek" movies, and Phil Keogh is the host of "The Amazing Race.

Martin Henderson (ex "Shortland Street") plays in a Sundance series that hasn't reached NZ yet, but it's called "The Red Road", and Antony Starr from our popular-popular-popular NZ series "Outrageous Fortune" (he played twins Jethro and Van) is starring in the American tv series "Banshee", another programme I have yet to see.   Here's Starr.....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

GUEST WRITER: J..... J-Jay-J-J-J-J!!!!!!


We have, so far, managed 5 swims for this month, all of them last week  And, whoopee, my swimming friend J is my guest writer for today:  The below happened to her last week.  In her own words:

I think I have definitely reached old age.

I stood waiting to cross the road behind Countdown Supermarket feeling something like this:

-still on a high from our swim, and I felt fit and energetic, and on top of the world.

Then as I crossed to the middle of the road a young woman beside me held her arm out in front of me and said "Not yet".  Then she ordered, "Cross now -  come across with me", and I toddled across.   She left me safely on the other side of the road, feeling more like this:

pictures: google images

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

American Marines in Paekakariki, New Zealand

Hi there

Affer writing my blogs of last week, I was thinking about the WW2 years. Even though I wasn't born, my mother told me a lot about them. Thousands upon thousands of young New Zealanders went to war overseas, my two uncles among them (one uncle was wounded very badly, the other enlisted under-age).

During WW2, American marines came to NZ for R&R and to recover from illnesses and wounds (the recuperation hospital, and base, were in the Silverstream/Paekakariki area, about a half hour away from Wellington city). My grandmother's family was one of the Wellington families that 'adopted' American servicemen. The young men would come to her place for home-cooked meals.

Many young New Zealand women dated the American servicemen.

This year some WW2 American veterans returned to the area to visit.
Below is the link for the story

There is a commemorative plaque at Queen Elizabeth Park, Paekakariki, and also another plaque on a wall down on the Wellington waterfront which commemorates the arrival of the troop ships carrying the American forces.

Bermuda Triangle off-shoot in Miramar?

Hi there

Okay, I don't have actual proof that a branch of The Bermuda Triangle is here in Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand, but there is so much circumstancial evidence that I'd say it was a pretty clear case.  Either The Bermuda Triangle or a temporary rift in the time and space continuum.

There are two things that I lose all the time:  pens and combs.  Oh, yes, naturally I lose socks, but socks are so high up the what-the-whole-world-loses chart that I just take the losing of them as natural phenomena.  Yesterday, I was determined to keep control of my socks prior to putting them in the washing machine.

I took two identical pair of socks from the laundry basket.  Black with thin white stripes, and only a month old.  I counted them:  4-four- four socks in total. 

When I went to hang my socks on the clothes line to dry I could only find:   1-one-one sock!   How did that happen?    I wrote a play once for the New Zealand School Journal entitled "Gremlin in the Computer".  I reckon when Fisher & Paykel sell us their washing machines they instal their very own sock-eating gremlin.  It's the only explanation.

Anyway, back to pens and combs.  Over the years I must have bought hundreds, thousands of pens and combs.  I lose them around the house all the time and have to run out and buy more.  Every six months or so when I give the house a good clean (make that a barely passable clean), I locate a dozen or so of each.  But within a few more weeks, all the pens and combs are gone and the cycle starts again.


Swimming at Hataitai Beach All Year Round:

My friend J and I got in our second swim for the month yesterday (our first was the day before).  Because of a set of circumstances over both our heads we haven't been able to get in our minimum four swims for the month of May at Hataitai Beach.  It isn't even true winter yet- it's late Autumn here in NZ -  and we are getting a bit biting-our-nails-worried.  Please, my five readers, cross your fingers and toes that we can get our allocated number of dips in the water for this month, otherwise the whole year's swimming allocation ahead could be ruined.  I figured, that the winter months of June, July, and August would be the challenge.  I just wish I hadn't caught The Black Death earlier in the month because it laid me up for a time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lost in the Museum

Hi there

I went to a book launch last night.  It was an anthology of fantasy short stories, entitled "Lost in the Museum" and was (sub)edited by my friend A.J. Ponder.  The editor is actually Tui Merriweather, who actually doesn't really exist but is one of the characters in this story! 

The action is set in Te Papa Tongarewa (Our Place), the Museum of New Zealand, here in Wellington.  It's quite a fun book.  Peter Jackson's Big Baby film prop (that is now at Te Papa) has a whole story to itself, courtesy of award-winning writer, Tim Jones. 

Phillip Mann who is an Arthur C Clarke award nominee for this year has a story in "Lost in the Museum", as, too, does Lyn McConchie, a novelist with over 30 books. 

The book will shortly be for sale at The Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie (it would range from Young Adult readers  to, I guess, 100 year olds).  The book was funded, in part, by a grant from Creative Communities, Wellington City Council.  It can also be reserved at Wellington Libraries.

Below are three of the writers whose stories are in the anthology.  Left to right:  Jenny Hammond, A.J. Ponder, Lilian Hetet.,

Below, signing session with writers and readers

Monday, May 12, 2014

Maori Battalion Marching Song World War II

Hi there

In my last blog I mentioned the Maori Battalion, the elite New Zealand/Aotearoa unit from WWII.  These guys were so brave and, yes, they were feared by the opposition because each man in the unit put their all into every battle.

There was a Maori Battalion marching song and it is famous here in NZ.  Just hit the below link and you will hear it.

When I was about thirteen years old, for about six weeks,  my friends and I went down to the Wellington Opera House on a Saturday afternoon to see the NZ-born hypnotist Franquin (Frank Quinn).  Shirley and I were the only ones who took to being hypnotised.

I well remember Shirley charging up to the Dress Circle bellowing out "Peanuts, popcorn, sixpence a bag!", and I marched around the theatre singing lustily the Maori Battalion song.  Oh dear.  If I'd known then what I know now, I would have died of shame.  I cringe to think how myself, and Franquin, were belittling the Battallion.   I am so sorry for this.

(There has been a suggestion that the song is a 'rip-off' of the The Washington and Lee Swing, out of America)


Oh, I feel so much for the people of the Ukraine.  They are going through so much sorrow and hardship.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

RNZAF Band in Concert ("Blue Smoke")

Hi there
I've just returned from a concert by the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, in aid of Alzheimers Inc.

One of the tunes they played, with accompanying blues singer Stephanie Paris, was the New Zealand song "Blue Smoke".

"Blue Smoke" was the very first record (78 rpm) ever produced in New Zealand.  It was sung by Pixie Williams and released on TANZA (To Assist New Zealand Artists) in 1949.  The song was written in 1940 by Ruru Karaitiana as he was on a troop ship just off the African coast, heading to war.  He was a member of the 28th NZ Maori Battalion.   The "Blue Smoke" refers to smoke from the funnels of the ship.

The song is iconic in NZ and every time I hear it, I cry.  Even though I wasn't even born in 1940, I still feel for this song.

Below is a link to hit to hear the record.

...and if you zip over to the right side of the above link page you can also watch the classical rendition of "Blue Smoke", in Maori, by Deborah Wai Kapohe.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Signs and colds

Hi there

Sometimes we come across funny signs.  I was passing the organic store in Kilbirnie the other day and there was a whiteboard outside the shop that read "cultured vegies". 

Before such vegies are released out onto the market are they given elocution and deportment lessons, perhaps?  Wheel-barrowed around museums and art galleries?  Maybe taught the right cutlery to use for the right dinner course, rather like Julia Roberts was taught table layouts in "Pretty Woman"?  though I guess even the most cultured vegetable would find it hard to nail a Richard Gere ... unless it was in the kitchen, then the vegie might stand a chance of being loved, cultured or not.

A long time ago I had a children's play in the New Zealand School Journal entitled "The Monster Sale".  I'd seen sales labelled as such for years and I'd always wondered what would happen if a shop was really selling monsters.

Some names of places are just sheer awful.  There's a restaurant in Kilbirnie called "Smell & Smile".   Why?


Oh, I've got a cold.  Actually, "a cold" doesn't sound dramatic enough for what I have.  The word 'virus' is incredibly popular; maybe I'll adopt that.  I remember snobby Margot in "The Good Life" or was it the same actress in "To the Manor Born" who became absolutely horrified when  told she had a "common" cold.   Like this lady I, too,  do not want to have a cold that is considered 'common'.

I've had my flu vaccination so it can't be the 'flu' that I have but, oh-my-goodness, I've hardly been able to talk for five days.  Bob-who-lives-up-the-road-and-around-the-corner has already told me that because of the silence from me, he can now hear overhead planes and birds.  What cheek!

I feel awful that J and I can't go swimming because of my catching The Plague.  I hope she'll forgive me.