Saturday, January 31, 2015

Eating in Queenstown

Hi there

I went to Rata for a meal in Queenstown.  Rata is owned by Josh Emmett who is a judge on Masterchef New Zealand.  The room was very dark.   The food was very arty-looking.
Below:  salmon entree

Below:  cheesecake 

I also went to nearby Arrowtown and had a roast pork meal at New Orleans pub.  Whenever I'm on holiday, I get a wild craving for a roast meal.  Doesn't matter if the weather is boiling hot, I have to locate a homely roast meal.   I sat on the outside deck in the sun, and truly enjoyed my lunch.  Great value for money and such a change from some restaurants in Queenstown that gave me what looked like a little squirt of food on a massive plate - if it was put on a smaller plate, the food would look sufficient and I wouldn't feel as if I was being had.  Below, New Orleans scrumptious meal, with crackling.

In Arrowtown, went for a bush walk beside the Arrow River.  A wonderful safe hour long loop walk.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

7 swims at 7 beaches in 7 hours, Wellington, New Zealand.

hi there

Here's our 7 swims in 7 hours

Below:  Freyberg Beach... with the jellyfish -

 Below:  Balaena Bay, lovely.

Below:  Hataitai Beach, home turf

 Below:  Worser Bay.  That's us, in the distance.

Below: Scorching Bay

Below:  Princess Bay.  I slipped on some baggy shorts for this swim, thinking the water would be cold.  It wasn't.

Below:  Island Bay, reputedly the coldest waters in Wellington.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Seven swimming beaches in seven hours! - done!

Hi there

Today (Monday NZ time), J and I fulfilled our Quest.  We got to swim at seven beaches in the Wellington area in seven hours.  We actually completed our Quest in 6 hours.  There was no hurry, we wanted to admire views, and partake of sandwiches, and warm our tootsies between swims

Believe it or not, the temp today was 28c!!!!  Did we pick a day or what?  Our main rule was no less than 12 minutes swimming at any beach.

We started out at 10 a.m. at Freyberg Beach, practically in the city.  Freyberg Beach is just a hop and a skip (forget the 'jump) from Oriental Bay.  But in the water were - wait for it, can you guess? -  jellyfish!  Petrified, I trod water in one place.  J swam bravely for a bit until she hit a pod (her description) of  jellies.   I wanted to abort the Quest after my first jellyfish hit but I gritted my teeth and held out for the twelve required minutes.

The waters of Balaena Bay were deliciously lovely and calm. 

Gorgeous Hataitai Beach is, of course, home for us.  So 'nuff said.  We had our lunch there.

Scorching Bay and Worser Bay had warm waters.  J actually forgot she wasn't wearing her swimming booties and marched into the sea in her going-out shoes.  The sand was very hot.

Neither of us had been to Princess Bay and it was quite enjoyable.    We were a bit wary because we didnt know where any submerged rocks might be.  Loads of people there.

Island Bay: everyone told us Island Bay waters were freeeeeeezing.  We found the sea nice and crisp.

We laughed, giggled, chortled practically the whole day.  Lots of thngs didnt go to plan, the main problem being finding parking that was close to the respective beaches. At first I was embarrassed having to walk a long way along the footpath in just my bathing suit and my big thighs, but by the time we hit Island Bay, I didn't give a tinker's darn about how I looked. We would take  several pairs of sandals if we did the whole thing again because driving in wet, soggy, sandy sandals is not pleasant.

We took three bathing suits each with us, but stayed in the one costume throughout, driving the car in my bathing suit and sitting on a towel.  I went through 7 towels.

Okay, then, here's the challenge:  how about if you go for the 7 swims in 7 hours? -  Freyberg, Balaena, Hataitai, Scorching, Worser, Princess, and Island Bay.  12 minutes minimum swim.  No rush....

Thumbs-up photo when you're done please.

Go for it.

..... photos by J's personal papparazzo will appear later in the week

50 swims!

Hi there

With all the excitement of my Queenstown holiday, I forgot to tell you about my swimming.  I made it to 50 swims!!  The fifty day number fell on the day I arrived in Queenstown.  I was so scared that the weather would be bad and the lake would be awash with mile-high stormy waves.  Well, the skies were dull, there were choppy waves and I was the only one in the water, but I made my fifty days of swimming, and I was ecstatic.  How awful if, because of weather I hadn't been able to complete my goal at the last hurdle.  I decided to call it quits at number fifty otherwise I would have been totally stressed for, maybe, the rest of my life, trying to up the number of straight swimming days.  The day after my fiftieth I took a break - good thing, too, 'cause it poured with rain, but I did swim for the next five days..

The next challenge for J and myself is to swim at seven different  beaches over a seven hour period.  .  We intend to do this leisurely.  And we hope to do it today.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Queenstown holiday

Hi there
I've just got back from a week in Queenstown, so-called Adventure Capital of New Zealand (I think Americans would write it as 'Capitol').  I was surprised and happy to discover that about 95% of people trooping around Queenstown wore bacpacks of all sizes, shapes, and colours.  I fitted right in.

I only took 7kg of cabin baggage, and in this bag I crammed in two sheets, a pillowcase, three towels, my clothes, my swimming gear, and all my needed extras.    The holiday house I rented was up a very, very, very high hill that I climbed two to three times a day.  I'm telling you, my five readers, that I cursed and growled and panted and puffed all the way up that hill every time.  There was a playground three-quarters of the way up, and sometimes I sat there for a rest.  But if anyone from Dublin Street is reading this, the rather wholesome pensioner with a heavy backpack that you might have seen cavorting merrily on that kiddie swing was not me, and I repeat, not me.

I had a lovely meal at the restaurant named Rata, which I hadn't realised beforehand was so upmarket, nor that it was run by Masterchef  New Zealand judge Josh Emmett who had been Gordon Ramsay's right-hand guy in New York.  I arrived in a plastic raincoat, my hard-worn trainers, and wet weather pants.  The staff treated me wonderfully, they even elegantly hung up my plastic mac!

I still can't get photos into my blog.  I will have to call in a professional someone later this week to fix all my computer problems. Sigh.  Please don't leave me just because there's no visual wonders ...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hataitai Beach yet again

Hi there

As of today (Friday NZ time),  I have done 49 days of swimming.  Yesterday and today were annoying because the jellyfish were back.  Oh, I am such a wimp.  The second I feel them sithering all slimy-ish against my body, I scream.   People on the shore must think I have been attacked by a shark, at least.

Oh, and yes, I do hear the music from "Jaws" resounding loudly in my head as I am stressfully swimming, and peering intently into the water ... and  waiting for the attack of the dozens, no hundreds, wait - thousands of those darn transparent saucer-sized jellies!

If the jellies continue I won't be going swimming for a while.... and I am so close to a goal of 50 swimming days (earlier I miscalculated when I told you it was 42 swims;  it was really 43!).


Something's gone wrong with how I insert photos, so no photos for a while, I am afraid.


I will be missing in action from my compter for a few days...... 

Monday, January 12, 2015

All clear- no jellyfish!!

Hi there

I went swimming yesterday at Worser  Bay.  I was so stressed about the jellyfish at Hataitai Beach, I kept away from there .  There were so many kids learning yachting at Worser Bay and with  two motorboats herding these bumbling amateur yachties (the motorboats rather resembled sheepdogs),  I  rather wished I had stuck with the jellies.   Last night, word of mouth reached me that the jellies had gone, so J and I went back to home ground today. Ahhhhh, it was lovely.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jellyfish at Hataitai Beach Yesterday

Hi there

Yesterday -Sunday, New Zealand time - there were (harmless) jellyfish in the sea at Hataitai Beach.   They were  transparent and saucer size.  I hate them.  I was in the water about two minutes and had banged into four of them, all slippery and jellyish to the feel, and I couldn't get out of the sea fast enough.  I am such a wimp.  My friend, J, lasted about five minutes.  We were both so disappointed over not being more heroic.    One of our beach friends took off at a fast over-arm stroke, was soon out-of-sight, and stayed in the water her usual length of time.  How J and I envied this woman's bravery.

Worser Bay today?

Friday, January 9, 2015

42 swims!

Hi there

On my way back from holiday last month I  suddenly realised I had been swimming every day for 21 days.  I wondered if I could double that number... and do you know what?   As of today, it's been 42 days.  A lake, a river, the sea, and one day I was in a dreaded pool. -   swimming in the pouring rain, but anything to get my swimming number higher.

Pat me on the back, huh?

France, I am so sad for you

Je Suis Charlie


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Lake Taupo plane crash

Hi thre

A small plane crashed into Lake Taupo yesterday.  It was crammed full of tandem skydivers, eg, about half a dozen instructors with their pupils plus, of course, the pilot.  All twelve people managed to skydive out before the plane crashed into the lake.

Some years' ago, I tandem skydived over Taupo.  I read the pamphlet at 11.30 am and by midday I'd done the jump, so I didn't really have time to get worried about the jump itself.

However, once I got into the small ramshackle plane I worried like mad.  I would almost swear the interior looked as if it was held together with string and sticky tape.  I would liken it to an old car that kids had found on a dump and were trying to restore.  The inside of the plane had been taken out and everything appeared dirty and rusty.  Both the pilot and my tandem master were wearing parachutes as we took off and gained height for the jump.,  I did not have a parachute.

All I could think of was: "Dear God, let me parachute out of this plane before it gives up the ghost.  Please-please-please..."  I was scared this ancient old jalopy of a plane would crash before I'd got attached to a parachute.  It wasn't until the plane was over the drop space that the tandem master gestured for me to crawl over to him at the door, and be joined up.  I was so grateful/happy/thrilled to jump out of that darn plane!  Who would have thought that?

A couple of years' ago, I went para-sailing over Lake Taupo, which was fanastic.  I was really high up in the air under a large parachute and being pulled by a speed boat.  Every now and then, I was swooped down low and my toes hit the water.  What enjoyment.

I had a few days in Taupo last month.  It's a totally beautiful place. Sorry about photo quality, I was peering into the sun.  I love swimming at the below (main) beach.

below: Mt Ruapehu in background

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Niles, the butler, from 'The Nanny'

Hi there

I notice that 'The Nanny' is showing on Chanel 4.  Niles the butler was always a favourite of mine in that show.

Now, I've mentioned before that stars are there for the tripping over in Las Vegas.  Whilst I was there last year, I met Daniel Davis who plays Niles.

Daniel is such a nice man.  He said that his favourite scene in 'The Nanny' was when he did the Tom Cruise 'Risky Business' imitation in shirt, underpants, socks, but with a feather duster, and pretending he was singing.

Click below to watch the scene:

Here I am with Daniel Davis:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Akaroa - New Zealand's French village

Hi there
I absolutely positively adore Ohope Beach, but Akaroa down the South Island is, in my opinion, the prettiest place in New Zealand. 

Way back in the 1800's,  a French explorer landed there, thought the area was magnificent, sailed home to France, collected a whole swag of settlers, and sailed right on back to New Zealand.

Uh oh.  In the meantime, the British had claimed Akaroa.  Goodness, they had planted their flag!  And this always reminds me of British comedian Eddie Izzard's routine on "Dress to Kill" (TV, CD, and DVD).   He imitates an early explorer landing in a foreign country, and says petulently something like, "but I've planted a flag!"  A flag, of course, gives one immediate ownership over any country and its people.

The French settlers stayed in the area.  Many bays and coves have French names.  The street names offically start with the word "Rue".  Yearly, the French heritage is celebrated. 

When I was in Akaroa I went on the mail run with the postie (in his van).  I don't know if the mail run still exists but every corner we turned, there was the most spectacular view.  If you go to Akaroa, you must really go up high to appreciate the scenery.

At the information office, I picked up lots of walking maps.  One walk was the toughest I think I have ever done.  I swear that I climbed straight up this monstrous hill!  It wasn't until I reached the top I realised there was actually a winding road I could have walked or driven on.  However, walkers up the road may not have got such good views.  Every inch of every walk I went on was bursting with sheer beauty.

On my fourth evening in Akaroa, I stepped in a penguin burrow and hurt my ankle so bad I could only hobble around for my last three days.  As a friend pointed out later, I always seem to come home from a holiday with some injury or other!

image by Trey Ratcliff (taken from internet).  Click for closer look.

There are day trips to Akaroa from Christchurch and there are still, I think, guided group walks from Christchurch to Akaroa that take 3 or 4 days.
PS:  a dozen hours after I wrote  the above...  Helen, our reader in Europe, read about my visit to Akaroa and mentioned that poet Pam Ayres wrote and performed a poem called "Akaroa Cannon".  It's on You Tube.