Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!!!

Hi there

It's New Year's Day here in New Zealand as I type this.  26c in Wellington.  Hataitai Beach was really popular today.

above:  Today, NY's Day 2016, Hataitai Beach

above:  Worser Bay, two days ago

today's blog brought to you via my new laptop,  with a lot of in-depth concentration, stress, and cursing.

New Computer

Hi there

I got up early and was at the computer shop by 8 15 am, all set for battle in the famous Boxing Day sales.  The shop had opened at eight and was crowded already.  The assistants were all on a high and flitting from customer to customer like adrenalin-fuelled bumble bees.

I bought a  little laptop that I have yet to master without being petrified that each thing I do on it is going to be responsible for Terrible Things Happening.  Yesterday i got a computer guy in to set it up.  I swear he was speaking to me in an alien tongue;  is computer-speak registered as a foreign language?  It should be.

So, instead of writing today's blog on my spanking-new laptop, I am one-finger typing this on my Kindle tablet. Talk about a coward's way out  ....?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas TV Viewing

Hi there

On Christmas Day I was going to a restaurant for lunch, so was all dressed up, makeup as perfect as I could get it,  hair shiny bright, and i was filling in time before I left the house.  I switched on the tv to see what film was on.

It was the Winona Ryder version of "Little Women".  Now, I'd loved the book as a young girl so I knew the plot well.  I tuned in exactly at the most sad part of the whole story.  The tears poured down my cheeks.

Darn.  I hared off to the bathroom to wash my face and re-apply my make-up.  I returned to the movie.

And more tears.

Back to the bathroom, back to my make-up bag and, then, back to the movie.

I was sure that it would be safe now to finish watching.  No more traumatic happenings that I could recall.

But that last scene had me blubbering, and sniffing, and wailing, and all but hiccuping.  Kudos to the scriptwriters, and a big thank you to the ghost of Louisa May Allcott for the book.  

And I sure made Max Factor's day..

Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTMAS DAY 2015 - in New Zealand

Hi there

I have just returned home from a lovely Christmas Day afternoon at the beach.  Lots of people came and went during the time I was there.  The water was warm.

For lunch I went to a restaurant for a special Christmas Day buffet.   I was scared that I might sink, going swimming directly afterwards because I had eaten a rather large meal.  But I have read that it's an old wives' tale about not swimming for an hour after you've eaten.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beach towel envy

Hi there

Fame is a funny thing.  I am not envious of film stars,  or millionaires, or people who can set up computers with their eyes shut  (well, yes, maybe i am a tad jealous of people who can set up computers with their eyes shut).

But I do get - and I hate to admit it - riddled with beach towel envy.  I am always searching for the perfect beach towel.  The fluffiest beach towel ... the thickest ... the beach towel with the brightest colours ... the one that tells a story in a picture.   I want to locate the world's most perfect beach towel, the beach towel to bring me fame throughout Hataitai Beach, if not the world.

Sadly, such fame has been denied me.

My bestie beach friend who goes by the initial J has upped me.  And, to make it even more sad, by a fluke.

Her towel is an exact replica of the beach towel used by the hero in the Australian/New Zealand comedy/drama tv series "800 Words".

"The same pattern, size, colours, border-!"  J is jubilant.  Who knew that an  Aussie journalist who moved his rebelling family to a hicksville beach in  New Zealand (and yes, that's the plot of "800 Words") would shop at the same place as my friend, J.

This guy looks after it as carefully as if the towel were a treasured family  heirloom, only dropping it as he's about to enter the water.  Full exposure for the towel, if not the hero.

J, of course, is smugly happy.  Her beach towel is all but a television star!

Me?  I've thrown in the towel.  You win, J.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Hi there

A few kilometres from Ohope (I stayed at Ohope a couple of weeks ago) is the town of Whakatane.  For a Koha (donation), I hired a bicycle from the I-Site Visitor Information Office and rode along the  shared walkway that meandered beside the water .  One half of the walkway was in a more rural area.  I saw folk walking dogs, there was a bunny rabbit, a Japanese garden, and beautiful horses.  In the other direction, there were fishing boats, sculptures, and a cave.

Below:  a sculpture beside the estuary.  It's a kiwi bird in a sailor outfit.  Kids love it.

below:  a strawberry sundae at Julian's Berry Farm, Whakatane.  Yum-m-m-m...   Here's info on Whakatane.

MERRY CHRISTMAS - we get Christmas a whole day ahead of everywhere else in the world - na-na-na-na-na!   As those in the Northern Hemisphere are waking up on Christmas morning, here in New Zealand we'll be fat, happy, and already had our complete fill of the day.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas parking rage

Hi there

I am not inclined to road rage.  Parking rage, I'll admit to but, then, you already know this because of earlier blogs.  If a driver does dare to cross me (both literally and figuratively) in a public parking spot, my rage knows no bounds.   I ... fume silently. 

Outside The Warehouse, I drove into a marked park - uh, no, not quite right - and I backed out slightly and then drove forward again.  Nope, not in the middle of the white lines yet...  I backed  out again.  And in again, turning the steering wheel and concentrating like a Le Mans rally driver..

Ah.... perfect park!

I did my shopping, weaving in and out of shelves of Star Wars light sabers  and robots, and folk frantically buying rolls of wrapping paper on a two-for-one special, and bored husbands lolling against packed trolleys.

Back to my car, laden down with Christmas goodies -

"Oh, noooo-"

My car was hemmed in.  I couldn't open the driver's door.  I had to slide into my car from the passenger's side, heft my not so light-weight thighs across the gear stick, and wiggle under the steering wheel.

Oh, I was so mad.  I fantasised all the way home of dropping the bad parker into a vat of boiling oil.

Sorry, Santa, you have to take this guy off the nice list and transfer him over to the naughty one (if he ever was on the nice list in the first place) -

above: this is as far as I could get my door open and, no, I wasn't responsible for that mark on the other car's door.  I am the light blue car.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ordering my Coke fix!

Hi there

When buyers went into a dairy (convenience store) in the nineteen-fifties to buy a soft drink, the conversation always went something like this:

"I'd like a Coca-Cola please."

"Big or small?"


"Off the ice?"

"Yes, please."

"Are you going to drink it here?"


"Do you want it open?"


When I was about twelve, I rocked a dairy owner's world by sauntering into the shop at Worser Bay and proclaiming in one long determined breath, "A small bottle of Coca Cola off the ice opened to take away please."

I will never forget this man's happiness that I had cut so quickly to the chase. The bottle opener was in his hands in a flash.

And what's brought this memory back to me?  Well, rumour has it that once again we might be getting a few cents' refund on returned soft drink bottles.  This means that it should be cheaper for a consumer to drink a soft drink in a cafe or on a dairy owner's premises?  Can I really see that working nowadays?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Talking about Grannies...

Hi there

My friend was reminiscing to her grand-children on verses and poems she'd learnt years ago in Britain.  Here's one of them:

O ye canna shove yer Granny aff a bus,
O ye canna shove yer Granny aff a bus,
O ye canna shove yer Granny
'Cos she's yer Mammy's Mammy
O ye canna shove yer Granny aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer ither Granny aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer ither Granny aff a bus.
Ye can shove yer ither Granny
Cos she's yer Daddy's Mammy
Ye can shove yer ither Granny aff a bus.

Now, can you guess what my friends' grandkids did immediately after they got home?  Of course, you can.  They recited the poem to both their mother and their "'ither Granny".  They didn't forget to mention who'd told  it to them.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bright is Right?

Hi there

I love wearing bright colours.  I do so hate walking into a clothing shop in winter and seeing racks of blacks, browns, and navy.  I am immediately depressed.

Today, I wore an orange jacket with a red shoulder bag.  Older folk might still consider this colour combination an abomination, but I felt so happy bouncing down the street.  Summer was here,  I could break out in a rainbow of colours!

When I started work at sixteen, I wore a green dress with huge blue poppies all over the skirt.  Everybody commented on my daring to wear blue and green together.  The saying went "Blue and green, never seen".

Any hint of silver or gold could not be worn until evening, and as my mother was prone to quote  "If you wear green, you'll wear black" - meaning that you would soon hear of a death.  In hind-sight, I wonder if this saying has something to do with the troubles in Northern Ireland?; how sad if, by the nineteen-sixties, it had turned into a fashion statement?.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A load of Bulls

Hi there

I suddenly zipped off to Ohope for two weeks, and returned last night.  Ohope has been voted New Zealanders' Most Loved Beach.  It doesn't have golden sands, or trendy cafes that face the sea, or water that's truly accessible for proper swimming - the breakers are scary, but it's so nice to just wander along this long, long beach and meeting dogs and their owners, and seeing anglers, and nodding 'hello' to folk, and watching kids boogie boarding, and admiring Whale Island....

On my way back home yesterday, I passed through the little country town of Bulls.  As my five readers know by now, Bulls is one of my favourite places because they smirk at themselves over the name 'Bulls'

Bulls is on Highway No 1 in the North Island.   They've gone all Christmassy, with real Christmas trees tied to lampposts.  Sadly, I wondered how long those trees would stay there before being stolen.   They also have seats that folk can sit on and move around to follow the shade.

above: Ohope Beach

below: Bulls

PS:  talk about topical ... I've just seen an article on Stuff about the street decorations in Bulls!  Apparently the decs have been donated because Bulls didn't think they would be able to afford to decorate their street this year.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Paws up for cats!

Hi there

Googling 'cats' is apparently a top past-time.   One memorable episode of The Big Bang Theory shows the gang transfixed in front of a computer watching cats playing ping-pong.  Hey, who wouldn't want to see that?

Through Google you can see cute cats, funny cats, cats not wanting to be bathed, cats leaping toward things (and missing), cats wailing 'Hello', cats in silly outfits ...

Oh, I do so like cats.  And movies.  And food.  And Pepsi.   Talk about a great  picture:  this one has every element that I love.

Monday, November 30, 2015

My Garden

Hi there

I have decided to pretend that my so-called garden is really a Wild Plant Sanctuary.  As a Wild Plant Sanctuary, it is obviously under the auspices of The World Plant Protection League, or whatever.

I feel so much better, knowing that in all honesty i can let my back yard stay in it's back-to-nature state.  The weeds can grow to shoulder-height and naturalist David Attenborough can only wish he had such a repository of weeds-sorry I mean 'plants' growing on his property.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

One's Street Address

A friend and I were out for a walk.  We ventured into Countess Close.  Posh houses with columns loomed over us.  Tara, take a back seat(almost).

"In terms of poshness," I wondered, "is a Close higher than, oh, a Crescent?  Or a Place?"

My friend pondered.  She thought an Avenue would be rather high up the posh list of where to live.

I remembered that Margot in "The Good Life" had always gone on, and on, about the grandeur of living on an Avenue.  Yes, I admitted that Avenue was well up there.

Street and Road were way down, we decided.    Lane, however, had a nice country-cottage ring to it.

Neither of us wanted to live in an Alley.  An Alley was akin to, perhaps, living under a bridge.

Who knew we could be such snobs?  It's just not fair that we both have such ordinary-sounding addresses.  We're thinking of moving ...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Swimming without pants!

Hi there

Bet I got you wondering over the title of this blog?

Last week, I was in a mad panic leaving home for a swim and I hurriedly threw the two parts of my bathing suit into my bag and rushed out of the house.

In the changing shed at the beach, I rummaged amongst my things.  Yes, here was my swimming top.  And here were my shorts -

"Oh, noooo..."

"What?"  My friend, J, probably thought i was having a heart attack.

"I've forgotten my shorts."  In my hand was a black swimming t-shirt.  In my hurry to leave the house I had mistaken the shirt for my shorts.  I usually keep a spare swimming bag in the car but this day i had been to the garage for a WOF and had cleared everything out of the boot.

What to do?

Easy-peasy decision.  The sitcom queen can certainly think on her feet.  I stepped into the t-shirt, putting my legs through the armholes and tidily tucking in the surplus.  Luckily my proper swimming top came down to my hips covering most of the upside down t-shirt.

I sashayed out to the deck, the queen of my domain.  Confidence was the key.  It wasn't till we got to the steps that took us down to the water that i started to giggle, then i roared with laughter, bending over and clutching the hand-rail in hysterics.  I was laughing so hard, the others on the deck probably figured i was having some sort of fit.

I had a great swim.

Above:  the t-shirt I wore in place of my swim shorts

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dead Jelly

Hi there

Thursday, New Zealand time.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday when J and I were swimming at Hataitai Beach, we banged into what we thought was an unusual jellyfish, one that was floating in roughly the same spot on both days.  Day 1, J had almost swam on top of it, and Day 2, I tried to escape but it seemed intent on following me. There were no other jellyfish around.

  We  debated/discussed/argued later on over the colour, size, and whether or not it had prickles or tendrils.  I guess it's like when a thief escapes from a bank robbery.  The witnesses often give completely different descriptions. 

Anyway, today, Thong Man was getting out of the water as we arrived.  He said he'd banged into a jellyfish -

"-but it was one of the clear harmless ones," he said.  It hadn't bothered him a bit.

Yikes!  J and I hate all type of jellies.

As we were leaving the beach for home, we glanced down onto the sand, and there was a dead jellyfish.

We debated/discussed/argued whether or not it was 'Arthur' - the name we had previously given to 'our' jelly -

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Above:  Wellington's Michael Fowler  Centre

We care...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beware of Shopping

Hi there

I'd just been to see the latest James Bond, and was now wandering through a department store, ruminating to myself about how everything in "Spectre" - script, music, acting, colour - appeared to be from the nineteen-sixties.

I reached up to a rack of about twenty pretty t-shirts.  I swear all I did was lightly finger the material of one particular shirt.


The entire rack fell to the floor.  I was standing in a puddle of clothes hangers, cloth, and a long heavy-looking metal rod.

Not that I was unfamiliar with the situation.  My five readers may remember the same thing happened to me last July-ish with half a dozen wheelie suitcases at another department store?

I was obviously going to be in this shop's camera system, too.  Sigh.  I rather expect my stunned expression to pop up, in a few years' time, on AFV (The International Edition).

I shot up my hand with alacrity to let the staff quickly hone in on me, and they were full of apologies.  I'd figured I'd be chastised.

But I do believe that things come in threes, right?  I have no doubt whatsoever that when I walk into my next department store, the theme from "Jaws" will be playing in my head;  I'd better not touch anything.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I wish I were a gardener

Hi there

It would be so great if I had the gardening gene.  I would be out there, in good or bad weather, positively revelling in planting pansies and pulling weeds.  I would spend lots of time in my shed which by now would have become a potting shed instead of hiding under the guise of an anything receptacle.

My neighbour sings merrily along to a portable radio when she's in her garden.  She appears to live there.  I expect her bed is in her potting shed.

If only I could look out the window first thing in the morning and exclaim, "What a beautiful day for a spot of gardening!"  But instead I think of the beach, or shopping, or hiking, or staying in bed a little longer to finish reading the latest Sophie Kinsella.   It gives me some solace in burrowing obstinately under the duvet with my Kindle in lieu of having to think about weeds that have reached hip-height just mere metres from my front door.

I live in hope that watching my neighbour planting her spring bulbs counts as gardening by proxy ....

Friday, November 6, 2015

the end of the rainbow

Hi there

When I was a kid I used to be intrigued by stories of leprechaun gold at the end of a rainbow.  I wanted desperately to find that gold.  The leprechaun would have to grant me a wish, and I spent ages agonising over which wish I would make.  In the end, I hit on that childish one of  "I wish all the wishes I wish would come true."   Such a wish, plus a swag of gold, as well as meeting a real honest-to-goodness leprechaun?  Goodness, was it any wonder that every time I saw a rainbow, I wanted to rush madly to the end of it and dig frantically?.

Several times I did try to reach a rainbow's end, but the funny thing about rainbows is that they get further and further away the more you rush towards them.

But not so a few months ago.   I was driving on The Desert Road.  I crested a hill, and there it was .... the end of the rainbow!

I drove along beside it for a time.  Would I get out, run joyfully to it - darn, I wished I'd packed a spade in my car boot for just such an occasion! - and scrabble around in the hard dirt searching for a pot of gold?  Was the leprechaun near?  Would he grant me my wish for finding that gold.....?

Sadly, I'm not young anymore.  Childhood imaginings nowadays take second place to reality.  I drove on past that rainbow ...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Visit to the Dentist. - Again

Hi there

-have you ever had a bad experience at the dentist?-

I checked the 'Yes' box.

-are you scared coming to the dentist today?-

I checked the 'Yes' box again.

After 40 years at my old dentistry I was signing on with a new dentist.   Dentist-shy Lorraine was in da house!

"I want to warn you," I said apologetically as I was led to the dental chair.  "I cry, I whimper, I drum my feet on the foot rest, I howl like a banshee. And I wriggle extensively."

Put it all down to traumatic days at the Dental Clinic on Willis Street when I was eight years old.  The Part 2 came a year or two ago with a newbie dentist at my old practice - see earlier blog.

Yesterday, as my tooth was being filled, I sat as stiff as a board, unmoving, petrified.   A tear did roll down my cheek, more from the fear of anticipation than, I guess, anything else.  My Skechers-clad toes curled forward tightly.  My fingers gripped the arm-rests so hard that if there'd been an emergency evacuation from the building I'd never have been able to unwrench them in a hurry.  I squeezed my eyes shut with no wish to see anything.

"How did it go?", asked a friend afterwards.

"I survived," I said.

But only just.  I felt it had been touch and go.

Roll on that next appointment.  I can hardly wait for it ....   Yeah, right.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I like Walking

Hi there

1 November NZ time

Yes, I do like walking around the eastern suburbs of Wellington.  I power walk like anything, with the consequence that I arrive home worn out.  Yesterday I trotted over the hill to Worser Bay.  What a lovely view from the top of the hill looking down to Worser Bay and Seatoun.

I'm thinking of doing the City to Sea walkway this summer.  I used to do it at least once a year when I was many years' younger.  Cross fingers I am still up to it.   I may have to break it up into several days though - the walk map can be obtained from Wellington City Council i-site office.

J and I swam today at Hataitai Beach, our first for November.  Once we hit a dozen swims for October we stopped counting for that month and, besides, we'd run out of fingers for when we did Hi-5-6-7-8-9-10-??

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Nick Names

Hi there

I've often wondered about nick names and how they came into  being, especially when the nick name doesn't seem to have much to do with the actual name.

Take Harry.  If we're talking about the prince, yes, I'd definitely take him.  But his real name is Henry. Both names have the same number  of letters, so how on earth did Harry become a nick name for Henry?

If we think right back to King Henry the Eighth, he was also nick-named Harry,  So Henry/Harry has been around a long time.

The nick name for John is Jack.  Margaret is Peggy,  Dorothy is Dolly, and  Richard, Dick.  I think they, too, are probably Olde English.

Growing up, I had a cousin who, like me, was named Lorraine.  To differentiate between us, she was known as Lorrie.   I was Truck.

Monday, October 26, 2015

No Miramar Halloween House 2015

Hi there

FYI:  There has been no "Miramar Halloween House" for several years now.  Apparently, there got to be such a crowd outside the house that the street got blocked. Cars couldnt get through.  It was suggested that if the Halloween house occupants wanted to continue decorating their house and yard, they would have to get a permit to close off the street.  Sadly, the house owners decided to call quits on their Miramar Halloween hi-jinks.  They shifted house a while back

PS:  Happy Halloween Day/Birthday Peter Jackson.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nothing to say

Hi there

Last week, I said to a friend, "I have nothing to say..."  I then wondered why she burst into such a laughing fit that tears were rolling down her cheeks.

"What?" I said.

I was informed by my friend, that I always had something to say.  If there was a contest for The Most Talkative Person On The Planet, I would be a winner.  Bookies would not allow bettors to partake because I would be such A Sure Thing.

"Yeah, yeah, okay, you're hilariously funny," I told my friend.  "But I can't think of anything to write about on my Blog."  It was the First Time Ever - I was mortified.  As I saw it, writing was completely different from talking.

Talking got me in trouble throughout my primary school life.  Not one day went by when I did not get The Strap, for talking.  Hey, I wonder if I could, nowadays, sue the Education Ministry? 

I could go even further back.  My mum used to repeatedly get her knuckles rapped with a ruler by her teacher for talking.   Gosh, I wonder if over-talking is somehow genetic?

Anyway, back to my blog block.  I sat in front of the computer, fingers hovering over the keys, with a completely blank mind.  Oh goodness, was this the first step towards Alzheimers? 

The hours seemingly ticked by.  I looked at my watch.  What, I'd only been sitting there for five minutes.

So, I went for a swim instead.

Then ... back to my laptop, looking at my watch again.

Eureka!-   I'd write about my watch. 

And I did write about it.  Last week.

The only trouble is, what the heck do I write about next week? 

Question?:  how long do writing blocks last?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back to the Future Day

Hi there

21 October, NZ time

Today is, apparently, Back to the Future Day to commemorate the movie.  My local picture theatre - the Roxy - in Miramar, Wellington is having a Back to the Future night.  Upstairs, there are a few bits and bobs to do with the movie.  This evening there was a DeLorean car outside the building:

Watch Out!

Hi there

"Could you tell me the time, please?"

I sigh.  Here I go again.  I flick my wrist over, glance at my watch. "It's ten past eleven," I say.

"Thanks."  And the young guy is off, skate-boarding down Cuba Mall.

Now, I know this guy has a phone because I've seen him using it earlier when he was laughing with his mates, and texting happily away at the same time.  He could have pulled the thing out of his back pocket and looked at the time for himself..

And only this morning, i was watching a gadget guy on television telling me that my conventional  wrist watch was as dead as the dodo.  So, if this is the case why has my watch miraculously turned into a  flashing beacon enticing asking-the-time people to me like moths around a flame?  Surely it doesn't take that long to pull a mobile phone out of a back pocket, or a handbag, to check the time for one's self?

I can perhaps understand this situation when I'm at the beach because not many folk have watches they can wear in the water, like i have.  Mobile phones are not that swimproof.

I never thought it was that difficult to look at the time on a mobile phone.  I must be wrong.

My swimming watch.  It's a Maxum brand.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chloride, Ghost Town, USA

Hi there

Well, no, I don't mean that the little western town of Chloride in Arizona has ghosts, though wouldn't that be neat?

Chloride is a ghost town in regards to it being virtually empty, the boom of it's gold-mining days are long gone, no-one really cares about it anymore.

Half a dozen of us were on a daytrip from Vegas and we called in on Chloride.   In wild west times, there was no highway nor highway signs to direct weary travellers to the nearest town.  So, the first letter of the name of the town was painted or hacked onto the rocky terrain high above a town, to let riders know there was a town nearby.   Chloride has a big letter "C" above it.

The weird thing is, I kept thinking I was in New Zealand.  Definitely Arrowtown.   It was the verandahs above the walkways that did it.  And the wooden-built structures.

It was in Chloride where I experienced bigotry and racism from an elderly pakeha male resident.  I was all by myself, noone anywhere around.  This guy shambled up to me and immediately proceeded to rant about how America was going downhill and all because of certain people getting certain things they shouldn't be getting.  These people were getting too big for their boots, he told me, in terrible descriptive language.  He said that he could hardly wait for another President to be elected.

I was absolutely stunned, and shaken.  I all but ran away from him back to the tour van.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spring has definitely Sprung

Hi there

I do so love colours and nature.  Today (Sunday, NZ time), I walked up Park Road in my suburb of Miramar.  On the corner of Byron Street was the most wonderful pink blossom display.  Then further along the same road, was a native Kowhai tree, positively bursting out in yellow.  The birds were singing, the sun was out, I'd got in 7 swims for October....

below:  kowhai tree outside "r.d." building (next to Park Road Post)

below:  Park Road Post Production.  The hub of Wellington's movie empire.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Call to Arms???

Hi there

I had pulled up at the traffic lights the other day and in front of me was a work truck.  I idly read the sticker slogan on the back of the truck.  It said something about slaves.  There was also a Ban-the-Bomb symbol.

I peered closer.  It wasn't a ban-the-bomb symbol; it was a sniper sight.  Oh, and hang on, I finally managed to untangle that bit about slaves:

.     "The possession of arms is the distinction of a free man from a slave.."

.     "I heart explosives".

.     "This is my peace symbol" - it was alongside the sniper sight.

!!!!!!!!   I have never ever read anything before like this public display.  I truly was shocked.

I expect the truck belonged to a deer or pig shooter but, oh dear, surely not wise to flaunt the lifestyle in such a way?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pohutakawa tree. And tui birds

Hi there

Yesterday, I was walking in front of the Miramar Christian School  (across the road from Weta Cave) when I heard a bird warble that sounded like a tui, one of our native birds.  I looked up into the branches of a pohutakawa tree (our national tree) and, sure enough, there was a beautiful tui bird.  They are a dark shiny blue/black colour with a white tuft at the throat.  At a quick glance, they could be mistaken for a common and garden blackbird.  You don't often see or hear them in the city.

 My cup runneth over because not only was I looking up at a tui but the pohutakawa tree was in bloom. 

In bloom?  At the beginning of October?

Legend has it that if the tree flowers before Christmas then New Zealand is going to have a great summer.  In Wellington, we sort of do cartwheels if the pohutakawa tree flowers in early December.  And here it was flowering already!  I was thrilled.

Sorry, the sun was shining through the tree, it didn't make for a very good picture.  I went back today to look at the tree, and two tuis were there.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

9 Swims, Hataitai Beach - made it!

 Hi there

1 October, New Zealand time.

Well - big breath out, whooosh! - we made it...    My swimming friend, J, and I completed our minimum 6 swims for September.  In the end, I managed to get in 9.

It was a race though to do them, what with the weather being as bad as it has been.

One time, the tide was so low at Hataitai Beach that it took a full minute to plod out into the sea where the water was still only up to my knees.  It's cold, too.  But, sigh, needs must - we had to get those swims in.  When there are a lot of fine days we can pick and choose our tide times, but last month we didn't have the luxury of time, nor good weather.

Higher tides bring the sea almost up to the deck height and we can plunge straight from the steps down into the water:

Below : nearby boathouse

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September Showers

Hi there

My swimming friend, J, and I have had the most terrible time trying to get our minimum six beach swims in for September.  And it's so silly because in the coldest month, August, we got in ten swims and i was away for half that month.

But the September spring weather has not been cooperating. Rain, rain, and more rain.  Oh, and lots of wind.  I'm mindful of that old song about the spring season, "April Showers".  Reverse the seasons for the southern hemisphere - September - and the song could totally be about the whole of New Zealand this month.

Cross fingers we can get the allotted swims in, or else all this year's winter swims have been for nothing.  Hey, J, why did we start this year-round sea-swimming, anyway?

(for late-comers, here is the back-story:  we decided to be absolutely daring six years ago by sea swimming at least once a month.  The next year it rose to twice a month, then three times, followed by four and five times a month.  This year, our sixth - it is a minimum of six times a month.  I guess by the time we reach the age of about 100 we will be reporting to Hataitai Beach several times a day!)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Waste Water in Miramar

Hi there

I was walking over the Awa Street hill to Worser Bay the other day, and I found an interesting drain.

An interesting drain??   I really do need to (in the immortal words of William Shatner/Captain Kirk) ... get a life.

Now, the drain is in the road halfway up the hill.  So ... does the waste water snake up the hill, then down the hill, and into Worser Bay?   Or does it, indeed, gurgle down the hill, across the Miramar flatland straight into the sea at Miramar Wharf ... and  cross the waters to Hatiatai Beach where I swim?

Porirua folk, up the line, have been ordered by their council not to wash their cars in their driveways.  It has to be on lawn so as waste water from the cleaning products gets absorbed by grass.

This all makes me wonder, what exactly is travelling down the Awa Street drain?

I was so scared that I would be run over by a car when I stepped into the street to quickly snap the photo, I didn't realise my shadow was overlapping the drain.  Whoops ...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jackie Collins' books - loved them!

Hi there

When I was much younger, I absolutely positively adored books by Jackie Collins.  They were full of empowered women, celebrities being extremely naughty, and family feuds.

Sadly, Jackie Collins passed away this week, age 77.  Part of my youth went with her.  Ah, nostalgia...

When I was in Las Vegas last month, Jackie's older sister, Joan Collins was on a promotional visit.  Up close, she was beautiful. Here's a photo I took of Joan-

above: Joan Collins, August 2015, Las Vegas

Friday, September 18, 2015

The 100 Day Kiwi Bach - repeat upon repeat

Hi there

You know how it's said that "you can't go back",  or "life is an endless loop", or "not another darn repeat on tv?"   Well, I had my back to the television as I was washing the dishes -

There was a commerical break on Choice TV, and I was sure I'd heard the same promo twice on the trot.  I sighed.  Did Choice truly think they could win hearts with this ploy?

Apparently, yes, because the same commercial came up a third time.  Now, how many times that particular ad was aired before I consciously recognised the repetitiveness of it, I have no idea.

I sat down on the sofa and started counting.  One .... two ...  three ..

It was a a station commercial, advertising an upcoming renovation programme called "The 100 Day Kiwi Bach".   A New Zealand holiday bach is usually, by tradition, a one-roomed home-made holiday hut, crammed with bunks, sleeping bags, kids and dogs, often with an outside loo.

Four times ... five times ...  six times ... seven times ... eight times ... nine times that same teaser trailer played out ...

The show was apparently to be about building a bach in Taupo over a certain number of weeks.  The host guy showed us a gorgeous green paddock, and then showed the paddock to us again after it had been  turned into a bulldozed muddy acreage that looked like a gaggle of badly disorganised Orcs had run rampage.  The host was devastated. 

I wasn't devastated in the least.  A bach?  Goodness, I don't have any bach-building skills, but give me an Orc ravaged field, some planks of wood, a couple of hundred nails, a flat lump of corrugated roofing iron, and I was sure I could handle the job in way under 100 hours, forget your 100 days!

Maybe the bach was going to have crystal chandeliers, a wet room (I've never quite worked out what a wet room actually is and I won't look it up because I love to visualise all sorts of things), a grand staircase straight out of "Gone With the Wind" and, maybe, an annex for a butler and maid?

Ten times ... eleven times ... Twelve times ...thirteen times ... would this trailer never stop looping.  Talk about Groundhog Day.  The starting time of  "The 100 Day Kiwi Bach" programme would probably be etched in my mind forever:  9pm Friday.

Fourteen times ... fifteen times ... SIXTEEN TIMES!

.... and Choice TV was back to it's home renovation programme.

.... and I was back to washing the dishes, so glad I didn't have to do that chore sixteen times.

above is info on "The 100 day kiwi bach".

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Victoria's Secret - WOW!

Hi there

I notice that, without fanfare, confetti, or heralding trumpets, the American lingerie chain "Victoria's Secret" has finally hit New Zealand, opening a shop in the duty-free area at Auckland International Airport. The chain is famous (notorious?) for having fashion parades of size zero angels wearing barely-there panties/bras and not-to-forget ... wings.

Okay, I admit it, I have wandered through the stores when I was in America, buying a black-sequin glitter (wait for it ...) ... backpack!

I was intrigued by their window display at a Las Vegas mall. 'Angel' outfits from a past fashion parade were on display.

The items were so over-the-top that they reminded me a lot of our very own famous WOW, World of Wearable Art shows that we have yearly, headquartered in Wellington.  WOW is open to all designers of the bizarre from around the world.  In and out of all the dancing and lights and spectacular-ness, it is a competition.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of volunteer models/actors.  The show is on every September and October and lasts about a fortnight, with repeats every night.  Tickets are snapped up.

Clothes designers and artists from overseas, please follow the links, and if you make it past the first round of design auditions, I hope to see you here next year - don't forget to walk on the left side of the footpath.

‘Rattle Your Dags’ Paula Coulthard & Ursula Dixon, Auckland

Below: information on WOW (World of Wearable Arts).

Below: window displays, Victoria's Secret, Las Vegas

Friday, September 11, 2015

the wrong side?

Hi there

And here's my tiny grumble for today....  why do tourists who visit NZ barrel along on the right side of the footpaths - epecially in Queen Street, Auckland - when we officially walk on the left side over here?

Because Auckland is a tourist town, tourists sort of run rampant down the main street.  In work hours, of course, there are virtually no Aucklanders in Queen Street and, indeed, there are thousands upon thousands of tourists who are used to walking on the right.... and so they walk on the right!

I forced myself to walk on the right when I was overseas, and I get so annoyed that overseas tourists to Auckland don't treat my country with the same respect..

But then .... I'm thinking, "Wait! what say they honestly don't know they have to walk on the left in New Zealand?"  Just about everyone walking up and down Queen Street in daytime hours  is a tourist from a "let's walk on the right side" country, so they might think it's normal to do so in New Zealand?  The information may not be in guidebooks.

Okay, so for all you Asian, American, and European tourists and students  who go to Auckland, please take note, we walk on the left.  I am tired of crashing into people in Queen Street!

Oh, I feel so much better now.  Sometimes it's soooo good to get something off your chest ....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Elvis exhibit in Las Vegas

Hi there

There is a new exhibit in Vegas.  Elvis' estate, Graceland, has sent a whole lot of paraphenalia from their archives to  Las Vegas on permanent exhibition.  Elvis had sung at the International Hotel which turned into the Hilton, which turned into LVH, which is now Westgate, which is where the exhibit is.  This hotel is at the end of the monorail track

I was giddy with excitement;  there was so much Elvis-owned stuff.  From the age of, oh, eleven I  have liked Elvis.  I wrote to him while he was in the army.  I remember telling friends that "Oh, I don't expect a reply but someone will tell Elvis that he has 5,000 fan letters this week and it will perk him up.  He'll know that we haven't deserted him."   !!!

below: some of his stage costumes

below: some of Elvis' personal things

below:  Elvis' mother's shoes and her poodle purse

below:  Lisa Marie's baby clothes

Adjacent to the Elvis exhibit in Westgate is a wedding chapel.  Notice how the  entrance resembles the gates at Graceland.  The cake is a replica of Elvis' and Priscilla's real cake

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

MGM Grand Las Vegas

Hi there

One of my fave hotel/casinos in Las Vegas is the MGM Grand..

I went to the MGM buffet a couple of times to purr over the little key lime tarts - Mmmmmmmmmm......  I left my camera by mistake at this buffet, rushed back two hours later, and my camera had been handed in!  Honest people in Las Vegas.

Below:  here's a view of MGM Grand (behind the MGM signature lion on the right) .  New York New York (yes, it's said twice) hotel/casino is on the left, a replica of the skyscrapers in that city.

MGM Grand:
If you go to the television survey desk near the entrance to the pool, you can watch new programmes before they are aired.  Because of what you say, programmes can be tweaked or scrapped.  Stars can even be fired..

You cannot pick and choose programmes.  It's all secret squirrel, and you don't know what you're going to see until you're inside the viewing room.  As you watch the show, you have to continually twirl a dial as to your liking of the programme, on a scale of 1 to 100.  Afterwards, you have to fill out a survey as to the show and the actors, as well as your opinion of other shows currently on tv.

I got to rate two shows.  The best one was tentatively called "Angel from Hell".  It starred Jane Lynch ("Glee") who I absolutely love, so straight away my dial was twirled up to almost 100!

The light-hearted Angel from Hell" was about this young woman who suddenly acquired a mouthy annoying but compassionate woman (Lynch)  who popped up everywhere and knew everything about her.  Her guardian Angel?

The other was a reality show, tentatively called "Mr Congeniality" and was about this small-town lawyer who successfully coached women for beauty pagents.  My dial fluctuated from 15 to about 50.

Buffets:  I know that, before I left, I said I was going to do four buffets in a 24 hour period.  Well, when the time came, I just couldn't bear the thought of it!  On holiday, I am never hungry and with that and with all that heat added into the mix, I only needed one meal a day - usually a buffet.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Roxy Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand

Hi there

A slight change away from Las Vegas:

As my five readers know by now, my nearest picture theatre is the Roxy in Miramar.  It's owned by Weta bigwigs. 

Upstairs on the 1st floor (2nd floor, if you'are American - and more about this subject in a future blog), there are usually some display cabinets with personal collections by Weta staff.

At the moment, there is a wonderful Lego exhibit that depicts the Roxy Theatre, both inside and outside.  It was in a dark area so my photos aren't that good. But every room is so detailed:

Below: the upstairs theatre

Below:  if you look real close, you can see the decontamination guy in the downstairs toilet.

 An Aston Marton (however it's spelt) collection.

below: a Wot-wots prop toy from Weta Workshop.

7 swims for August.  It's been a rush since I got back to reach the minimum monthly number of 6.