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.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Me, (nearly) in the presence of a celebrity in Las Vegas - GRUMPY CAT!

Hi there

There's one young celebrity who has had a cannonball rise to stardom.  Grumpy Cat!

Grumpy Cat is a cat.  She looks eternally...grumpy!  She is a world-wide hit on the 'net.  She has fans.  Loads of them.  She's making lots of money for her owners.  There are books about her.  She is shortly to have her own movie.


I was in Las Vegas at the beginning of this month when Grumpy Cat made an appearance at Kitsons Store.   I wandered over to have a look.  The line to see Grumpy Cat was going out the door of the shop and, by my estimation, weaved about 200 metres up the outside pathway that leads to The High Roller ferris wheel. Everyone wanted their picture taken with Grumpy Cat.  People were dying to buy her books and her souvenir products.

I did try to look through a window and I thought I saw a flash of a fluffy tail but who knows?  I could have been mistaken and it could have been her stunt double.  Or her look-alike Grumpy Cat fluffy toy ... 
Image result for how much is a grumpy cat fluffy toy

... or one of her fans kowtowing in front of the icon.

Grumpy Cat even went on The High Roller ferris wheel (top picture),  The High Roller did not appear to improve her grumpy mood.

You can see a succession of  pictures of Grumpy Cat on The High Roller, Las Vegas by hitting this link (don't forget to hit the arrows either side of Grumpy Cat's picture):

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Three swims down for Hataitai Beach August 2014

Hi there

My friend J, and I, have managed to get in a swim a day for the past three days.  Can we get in a minimum of one more, or possibly 2 more before end of the month?  If we can't fit that number in this month, our whole swimming output for the year will be null and void.  I can't bear to think about that cold June and July swimming going to waste, so cross your fingers for us please.   Oh dear, August is definitely the coldest month of the year.  For the last couple of days we were a bit wary stepping down into the water, and we actually .... dithered!

Oh,, that reminds me.  when I was in Las Vegas, I was intrigued to see that not one person in the Flamingo Hotel swimming pool was actually swimming.  They were just standing there, with the water up to about their waists.  J and I have noticed this around New Zealand, too.  Nobody swims any longer, they just stand in the sea and talk.

When I commented on this standing-in-the-water thing to someone in Las Vegas, he said, ".. but they're standing in the water holding their drinks."

And do you know what?  When I looked closer, they were.

9 a.m. Flamingo pool:

Below is Flamingo pool, photo taken from High Roller Wheel. Noon.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

eating with Gordon Ramsay in Las Vegas

Hi there

No, I didn't actually eat sitting beside chef Gordon Ramsay.  I ate at one of his places on the Las Vegas Strip.   The Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill that was inside Caesar's Palace Casino

Anyway, Gordon's fish-and-chips-and-mushy-peas came out elegantly sitting on a sheet of newspaper.  What?  In NZ, it's been long outlawed to eat fish and chips out of newspaper, because of hygiene reasons and, maybe, even newsprint poisoning.

The fish and chips were nice but I felt terribly guilty having such a meal in America, so I ordered a Knickerbocker Glory as a follow-up.  Now, that was American.... and worth every penny (or cent).

The chairs at the "pub" had the picture of a corgi dog on them.  This could be carrying the English theme a little too far.  I think the queen would be most displeased to see her canine pets so publicised. 

The High Roller, Las Vegas

Hi there

No, I'm not saying that I was the High Roller in Las Vegas.  Because I actually forgot to even try out the slot machines, there was so much else to do and see.

The High Roller is the name of Vegas's giant ferris wheel.  Giant ferris wheels seem to be all the rage in cities nowadays, but Vegas boasts the biggest one.  Of course.

Each 'pod' carries about 40 people but there were only a couple of others in the pod with me.  When our pod reached the very top, it was hard to comprehend that the little buildings below us were mostly all about 25 stories high.

 In Las Vegas, I went to see the musical "Million Dollar Quartet" which was about the day Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash all met together at Sun Studios.  

I also saw Olivia Newton John's Show at The Flamingo where I was staying.  She was so natural and had a wonderful rapport with the audience.  I would have loved to own the black glitter trouser suit that she came out in for her first song.  Even though Celine Dion's show that I saw last year had all the bells, whistles, orchestra, digital stuff, spotlights, sound,  and pure Vegas-ism about it, I much preferred Olivia's seemingly genuine happiness.  At the show, however, I didn't particularly like having to share a booth with four strangers, though we did have an interesting conversation about American gated retirement village.  The village this couple lived in covered km upon km and included golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, gyms, mall, lake, town hall, village shops, theatres, walking tracks, bushland, you-name-it....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ziplines in Las Vegas

Hi there

One of the highlights of my trip to Las Vegas was travelling down a zipline under the Fremont Street canopy from one end of the pedestrian mall to the other end, way above the heads of the people below.

I'm regaling friends and complete strangers in the bus or in the queue at the supermarket of how brave I was.


I was petrified!  I clung on to the cord that dangled down from the overhead cable like it was a lifeline.....  Well, it was!    The ride only took a minute or so, but it felt like an hour.  Four of us stepped off a high platform into air at the same time, travelled down the cable at various speeds and landed on another platform at roughly the same time.

I'm second from right in the photos. Left click for a better view.

The dessert buffet at The Bellagio Casino was more to my liking:

Monday, August 11, 2014

I am back from Las Vegas, 2014

Hi there

Did you miss me?  Did you?  Did you?

I only took cabin baggage with me for my visit.  Full, my bag was not allowed to be more than 7 kg or aeroplane officials would do dire things to me.   I was staying at the Flamingo in Las Vegas and on my last day I rushed down to their equivalent of our PostShop and weighed my bag. 7 kg exactly.   However, when I reached Los Angeles Airport, the bag was weighed again.

"It's 11 kg," said the lady from Virgin Australia.

"No, no, it can't be!  It weighed 7 kg this morning-"  Me, yelling hysterically.

"Perhaps you should take your foot off the scale," said the lady.

Phew.  But I never figured a foot could weigh 4kg.  I truly must go on a diet.

I had a wonderful view from my room at The Flamingo.  25th floor and I could see all of The Bellagio Hotel's famous dancing water feature.  The first time I went to Vegas, I had to cram myself third row back behind a fence to get a glimpse of just a part of the feature.  Now, from my hotel room it was all so routine - daytime and nighttime I had a bird's eye view of everything.


My Flamingo 'selfie'.

I love the tv in the bathroom mirror.

More to come about Vegas......