Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Christmas Day

Hi there

Well, my friend and I went to Christmas Day buffet at a hotel.  The buffet was nice but never in a million years would I rate it as a hundred and thirty nine dollars' worth!  It was the sort of buffet  that under normal circumstances, I would rate at, say, the forty dollar mark.  I suppose we have to pay for the staff getting triple pay working on Christmas day..  It's a good thing we don't tip in NZ.

Still, it was nice not to do our own cooking.  And I went for a swim afterwards.  I hadn't eaten all that much so I didn't sink.  Many of my friends were at the beach and I had a lovely time chatting, laughing, swimming. 



Amora Hotel

Saturday, December 24, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Hi there

As I type this, it's about 8 am on Christmas morning, in New Zealand...hopefully, the weather will be fine (and its about time; I'm sick of this unseasonably cold spurt Wellington has had over the last couple of days).  I want to swim this afternoon, after lunch.

Of course, I may not be able to swim after lunch,- I may just sink to the bottom of the waters at Hataitai Beach because I will be so heavy with Christmas fare.

My friend and I are going to a posh hotel for Christmas lunch.  It's a posh hotel buffet at a very expensive price.

"We have to get our money's worth," says my friend.  But he's as thin as a rake.  And I'm .. curvaceous!  I don't know if I can eat my money's worth and still waddle to the beach afterwards.

Have a wonderful day, today ...




Saturday, December 17, 2016

Birds

Hi there

I love it when I'm out walking and I come across dogs.  I always make a big fuss of them.  I love any sort of pet really.  

Here's a mother swan and her babies that I came across last week.  She'd got them to shore because the waters of  Lake Taupo were particularly vicious.  With just one day's notification I got a chance to stay at a holiday home in Taupo last week and I took the offer and ran with it.  I didn't run far though because it was cold and wet and I stayed inside mostly.  However, I did manage to swim three times in the (brrrhh, cold) river.  But my dream of sunbathing on the banks of the lake and swimming in it every day amounted to nothing.



Also, last week, in the grounds of the Flat Hill Cafe, just out of Taihape, I saw these ducks sheltering under the last unoccupied picnic table,  away from the sun.  Rather than disturb them, I sat on the grass to eat my lunch.




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Maps

Hi there

What is it about reading maps that I can't grasp?  And I believe it's not just me, that women everywhere are in the same boat - or car, or on their bikes, or walking.  Men, apparently won't use maps at all.  They refuse to ask for directions, too.  Perhaps this is why GPS thingees are doing such a roaring trade.

After I've taken forever finding where I am on a map, I then have trouble deciding which way up  - or down - to hold the map in relation to where I'm standing.  Maps on the wall as I enter a shopping mall have the same effect on me; I can never follow them.  Sigh.

###

"Wow, yeah, Pilates? ... oh, wait, I thought you said 'pie and lattes'..."


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Free Range Eggs?

Hi there

I was standing in line at the supermarket.  A friend stood behind me.

"CAGED EGGS!"  She looked down, horrified, into my trolley.

I shuffled my feet, embarrassed.  "Well, er, I was in a hurry, I just grabbed the nearest carton..."

"Really?"  My friend tsk-tsked.

No, not really.  I'd gone for cheap eggs.

My friend said that I should definitely be buying free-range eggs.  "To produce good eggs, the hens need room to flap.  They need to socialise.  Exercise."

I nodded.  "Mm, Mm, yes. - pilates in the evening?  Squats after breakfast?  Book discussion groups every second Wednesday, perhaps?  Oh, how about a spot of ballroom dancing?"

Then, I was accused of belittling hens.  And eggs.  The people behind me in the queue were solid in line behind my friend.  Oh dear, I guess I'll have to change my egg-buying ways.  Or make sure I'm alone at check-out.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Silly weather

Hi there

"I hate this weather," I say.  "It's too warm."

My friend sighs.  "Last month you complained that it was too cold.  At the beach, the other day, it was too windy.  You curse to Thor, the god of thunder, when it rains"

""I'm contrary," I say.  "So?"

"So, live with it.  Embrace the weather."

I'm trying.  I really am.  But it's far too hot today to do any embracing.  Maybe tomorrow, but only if I'm in full embracing mood.  Tomorrow, I will probably end up moaning; it all depends on the weather.






Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hudson and Halls, new show in Wellington

above: the real tv chefs, Hudson and Halls


Hi there

A week ago I went to the Hannah Playhouse/Downstage to see "Hudson and Halls Live".  It wasn't truly Hudson and Halls live because sadly the two New Zealand tv chefs passed away several decades ago.  Still, the play was a recreation of the production of one of their light-hearted  cooking shows, complete with stage manager, lights for 'applause',  breaks for commercials when all sorts of shennanigans happened, and the 'filming' where things just kept going wrong.  There was loads of merriment, some angst and, of course, liquor.  We attendees were meant to be the tv show audience.
This show was so hilarious, especially when their 'guest for the evening - opera singer, Kiri Te Kanawa - apparently got in a huff at a power cut and left the building.  Her singing slot was taken over by the initially reluctant floor manager.

At the end of the show, members of our audience were invited to take pictures with the actors, just like Hudson and Halls did in real life.  I took a photo from my seat in the stalls but because of the fully bright disco ball above the actors' heads, the photos are not very good.  It was funny when five young ladies from up North who had come especially down the line to see the show, and wearing hard hats because of Wellington earthquakes, had their picture taken (by the singing floor manager) with the stars of the show!



Sunday, November 27, 2016

7 Swims!

Hi there

Well, I made my seven swims for November!  I got through earthquakes, and holiday, and storms, and jellyfish .... but I only just made it through the jellyfish.  Today we saw some menacing ones near to me in the water.  J's personal paparazzo, along with J (she'd already done her swimming quota for the month), watched me from shore as I dog-paddled in knee-high water around and around in a couple of little circles in front of the steps, with one of the lion's mane jelly-fish drifting closer and closer.

Still ... done!

Thong Man and Bob took the plunge, with J and her personal paparazzo semaphoring directions to them:  "Go right!  Go left!"  How brave can two guys get?




Friday, November 25, 2016

more jellyfish

Hi there

My friend J, and I, went to the beach today, between the rain bouts.  J's personal paparazzo stood high on the fence surrounding the deck whilst we were swimming close in to the shore.  His eyes were alert for the enemy, with orders from us to shout "Jellyfish!" at the top of his lungs if he saw any.

Suddenly, "Jellyfish!" was shouted.  "Lorraine, it's beside you!  Beside you!"

Forget about swimming.  I ploughed out for the shore, almost at a run, and hoping I was going in the right direction away from the jelly.  My friend J rushed to the steps that led up from the water.

We got out real fast.  Within minutes, J's personal paparazzo counted four huge lion's mane jellyfish approaching the deck steps.

I have one more swim to get in before the end of the month.  But I'm not going in the water for a day or two...

Largelionsmanejellyfish.jpg

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Jellyfish at Hataitai Beach, Nov 2016

Hi there.

What a month this has been.  Holiday.  Rain.  Earthquakes.  And now ... jellyfish at Hataitai Beach.  Two big jellyfish, with tendrils.

The three of us - The Young One, J, and myself - were swimming along today, chatting away, not a care in the world, enjoying the lovely sunny weather when The Young One raised her arms and I saw what looked like fishing lines hanging down from her arms

"Oh, no, you'll have to take the line to the shore, to a bin" I said.  Whenever we see plastic bags and such in the water, we always take them to shore.  We don't want a dolphin caught up in debris, and dying.

The Young One kept pulling more and more dangling 'lines' from her arms.  Then she shrieked.  "It's a jelllyfish!"  And not just a little see-through harmless one, but this one had a big red centre.  The Young One was caught up in the tendrils.

Yuck!!!

We got out of the water, and spotted a second replica jellyfish.  I declared that there was no way I was going back into that sea until at least the weekend.

And because it's been such a traumatic month, I've only managed to get in four swims at Hstaitai Beach (according to our 'rules' I am not allowed to count my four swims on Waiheke Island).  I have to get in three more swims in before December to make up our minimum quota of seven per month.  If I don't, the whole year's swimming, including those horrific winter swimming  months, have all been for nought....





Friday, November 18, 2016

Earthquake After-shocks

Hi there

Sat. NZ time

When Christchurch kept getting earthquake after-shocks for years following the big one in the South Island,  and the city residents got all stoic and casual about it all, I was gob-smacked.  How could people carry on normal living whilst being faced daily with after-shock followed by after-shock.  I'd never be able to do it.

But you know what?  I am doing it.  As i write this, there have been over 2000 after-shocks since last Monday.  Lots I haven't felt, lots I have.

I haven't sheltered under the table in several days.  Last night I was sprawled out on the sofa playing a word game on my Kindle when I felt a tremor.   I was almost at a winning score, so I played on.

There was a second tremor.  But I was nearly game-triumphant.  I kept going to the end.

On Thursday I went to the movies.  Only a couple of tremors disturbed my immersion in J K Rowling 's wizarding world.

I don't think I've suddenly developed a bravado I never knew I had;  it's  just the way my life has become.  But I must not get too casual.  I must school myself to think that the next tremor could continue on to be The Big One.  My emergency bag is by the front door, I sleep with a torch beside me ...


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chocolate! Chocolate! Gimme Chocolate!

Hi there

Wednesday morn NZ  time

While I was still cowering (no, no, sheltering-sheltering) under the table after the big quake on Monday morning I got a wild instant craving for chocolate.  I had been dieting for weeks without one piece of chocolate entering my temple of a body, but now chocolate was chorus-dancing in my head, row upon row of the stuff.  It was all I could think about.

I stood on a kitchen chair and rooted around on the top shelf of the larder;  this is my hard-to-get-to place for stashing left-over chocolate when I'm overcome with remorse but don't have enough remorse to throw the stuff away.

Nope, not a scrap of chocolate in the entire house.

I held off for eleven hours.  Then fought my way out through the perfect storm to the Miramar Petrol Station.

"I need chocolate," I whimpered.

"Don't blame you," said the lady behind the counter.  "Its the stress".

Magnificent!  I had permission.  For the rest of the day I lived at Chocolate Central...

###
Many shops, malls, were still closed yesterday, Tuesday.  My supermarket was open, but the shelves were severely depleted; lots of stuff must have broken during earthquake.  Also, our Prime Minister has told us to shop and store, because so many roads are impassable for lorries and trains bringing food supplies to all round the country.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

12 hours later

Hi there

The main after-shocks and quakes went on for two and a half more hours after the big quake. And little trembles are still going on. As I'm typing this I've felt two tremors. The country got a tsunami warning as well.

I could hear the tsunami sirens blaring right across Wellington Harbour warning people living near water to get to higher land.  In the end, the tsunami was about 3 metres high.

The centre of the biggest quake was just after midnight and centred around Kaikoura in the South Island.  I've never known quakes to be all over New Zealand.  Usually it's just one region.  Geonet New Zealand (our earthquake people) have listed hundreds of little quakes and after-shocks since midnight.   Lots of highways through both islands are blocked off.  Some towns are impossible to get into.  Landslides, road slips.  Wellington CBD all but closed today while buildings are being checked for damage.  No trains, no buses, no schools open. First day of graduate exams cancelled. The inter-island ferries could not get into their respective wharves (Wellington, Picton) because of damage, and the boats are sitting in their respective harbours.
No damage at my place, thank heavens.  Lots of things falling.
Www.stuff.co.nz
Www.newstalkzb.co.nz


Earthquake

OMG

It's now about 1.30 a.m. Mon morn in New Zealand.  Just after midnight, I was woken by a severe earthquake.  I stumbled to the dining room and cowered under the table, praying!  The quake went on ... and on ... and on ...  Cupboard doors and drawers flew open.  I heard glass breaking somewhere.  Things flew off shelves. I could hear things falling off shelves in the garage too.   I was so scared.  Aftershocks still going on....

I have put on the radio, and there appears to be lots of damage in Wellington city.  Over the past hour there have been quakes all up and down the country, both islands.  Main quake was 7.5.  Callers on radio are asking if it might be related to King Moon and King tides due around the country this week.  Check through www.stuff.co.nz.  Or www.newstalkzb.co.nz.

Now, I hear there is a tsunami alert for the the country.  I live by the sea.  We've been told to stay away from beaches. As I type this, three metre high waves have hit the South Island. They say maybe higher ones to come.

I wish it wasnt dark.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Big South Island Road Trip?

Hi there

The trip is on!  I've been cleared to drive for the next three months!  Whoop-de-do!!

My Big South Island Road Trip isn't until the end of January so my return from holiday in February will just fit in with when I have to go to the eye doctor again.  They will then make another decision about my driving.  But for now, phewww, the relief.

My friend in Auckland is beside herself with happiness too, because she will be house-sitting for me in the middle of summer instead of the middle of winter, like she usually does.  My garage guy is also tap-dancing gleefully - he can now fit a new $800 cambelt to my car.  I'd been holding off getting this done until I got my eye results.
###
Billy Elliot the musical was so good.  We have such talent in New Zealand.  Here is an overseas clip.  It's a sort of dream sequence.  I was in the third row at the show in Auckland and - cough-cough - got  engulfed in the smoke.
The young Billy is dancing, and an older Billy is mirror-ing everything.  I liked our version a tad better -




I've returned from holiday

Hi there

Well, I've been to Auckland to see the two stage musicals, "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" and "Billy Elliot".  I was a fraction disapponted in "Priscilla".  This was a production from England, and the version I saw about ten years ago at the same theatre was the Aussie version before it had been workshopped for the West End, and Broadway.  I figure last week's production was a bit jaded, extra songs had been added or deleted (I have the Aussie version soundtrack), and the so-called Aussie accents sounded too British.

"Billy Elliot" was great.  What great dancing (more about this in a future blog).

Then I went to Waiheke Island (45 mins from Auckland by fast ferry) for five nights.  I was staying at a holiday home practically on Oneroa Beach.  I swam every day  .I didn't take my camera and had to make do with my cheapy mobile phone, please excuse quality of photos.

Oh, and I got covered in sandfly bites.  Then I got bitten on the arm by something.  Still ... somehow I managed to enjoy myself!

Oh, and I bought two dresses.

 above:  I was staying about fourth house from this end.   Below: three views from house balcony.



 Below: holiday house, taken by me standing in the shallows.  It's the house behind the  tidy hedge.

Cross fingers for me for tomorow please.  I'm going to the eye doctor and the decision will be made as to whether I can continue driving....


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Shopping

Hi there

I'll just have a quick look in this dress shop, I thought.  Just an in and an out. Fast-like, I don't really want to buy anything.   I'm not.  Truly.

"Oh, that's a nice dress," I said to the lady behind the counter..  It was the right length too.  Usually dresses trail behind me like the train on a wedding dress.  Or they only just cover my bottom.

"Try it on," said the lady.

I did. It was sort of perfect.  But I'd made up my mind not to buy any clothes.  I was saving up for My Big South Island Road Trip (providing I would be given permission by the eye doctors to drive).

"Here's another dress, same style, different colour".  The lady whisked another dress into the changing room.

Oh.  This dress was just as good as the first one.

I caved in.  I bought one.

"Come back if you want the other dress," said the lady.

But I am determined.  It's bad enough that I've bought one, I don't  need two.

No way.

Maybe ....

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Swinging a rat

Hi there

I was e-mailing my swimming friend J, and telling her that the hotel room I was in wasn't even big enough to swing a rat.

She sent me the below photo.  I think I could've managed it.




PS:  I rather suspect it's not really a rat?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

My Favourite Bus Shelter

Hi there

There is a lot of legal artwork going on around public areas in Wellington.  On walls.  Wellington City Council electricity boxes.  Fences. Bus shelters...


Above is my favourite Wellington bus shelter.  I so love bright colours.  This shelter is on the Miramar No 2 bus route, at the corner of Elizabeth and Brougham Streets.  I so wish I could paint, or draw, or even doodle.  I don't have one art bone in my body but, of course, I have been practising drawing cubes in case I get asked to produce one by those doctors who might one day be assessing me for Shady Pines (see earlier blog). 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Swimming, Hataitai Beach

Hi there

My friend J, and I were swimming. There was a lovely high tide, the sea was glass-like and flat, the sun was out, and it was warm.  We'd completed our widths across the bay, and were now having a happy frolic in the ocean.  A cavort, if you will. The fun reward at the end of a hard slog!

I thought I felt some raindrops.  Not that it mattered because we were enjoying ourselves so much.  But as my four readers may remember my friend J becomes a copycat Irish Rover at the first sign of a splish or a splash.

She burst into song -

"... through the driving rain, those unicorns were hiding.
They were playing' silly games
Kickin' and a-splashin'
While the rain was a-pouring-"

.. and both J and I burst out at the top of our lungs, "OH THOSE SILLY UNICORNS!!!"

Guess who were the two most embarrassed swimmers as we got out of the water.  Did I truly hear clapping and a shout of "Encore!"?  We have to remember that with summer now just around the corner, we might no longer have an isolated beach ...




Friday, October 21, 2016

Putting on weight

Hi there

I was talking with a friend.  We were discussing putting on weight.

"How come, " pondered my friend, "that I stand on the scales, clothed, clutching a packet of chocolate biscuits to my bosom and I will be a certain weight, right?  Then I scoff down that whole packet of biscuits, stand on the scales again - same clothes, same scales - and I'm suddenly as heavy as an elephant?"

I pointed out the obvious.  "Because you've just eaten a whole packet of biscuits?"

"But the biscuits should weigh exactly the same inside me as they do outside of me.  If the biscuit packet weighed 200 grams, I should have put on 200 grams. Not a whole 1 kg!"

Ah, the great mysteries of the universe ....  but more to the point, did my friend actually conduct such an experiment?  We senior citizens really should get out more?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Whitebait Fritters

Hi there

I was in New Plymouth, leaning over a bridge, and looking down into the river. There was a guy standing in the river, holding a scoop net.  An American lady asked me what he was doing

"He's collecting whitebait," I said.

"Oh, I know about whitebait," she said.  "Tiny transparent tadpole-like fish."

"You fillet their eyes out," I said.

...and she believed me!  For all of about one minute until I burst into laughter.

Filleting fish eyes from whitebait is one of the oldest kiwi jokes.  One eats every part of the whitebait.  Whitebait is a delicacy.  And very expensive.  In my Mum's day, whitebait weren't expensive at all.  They were, well, cheap as chips.  There is a strict season, very short, when you can harvest them.

Anyway, I went to the Sunday food and vegetable market this last Sunday (the market is alongside Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand) and, wow, there were whitebait fritters there.   $12.  I can take whitebait or leave them, but my Mum loved whitebait.  So in recognition of her love of whitebait fritters, I always try to eat a fritter at the start of each season.



Above: the fritters being fried at the Sunday market.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I like "The Chase"

Hi there

I like watching a good quiz show on television, especially the British show, "The Chase". 

I sit in front of the tv waiting for the question.  The question is "Name the Yeti who lives on the second highest peak of Mt Everest?" -

And the three choices come up:  A.  Fred.   B.  Sam.   C.  Joe.

I'm jumping up and down, out of  my seat screaming, "Fred!  Fred!  It's A.  Fred!"

The contestant chooses "B.  Sam".

"You idiot!  Idiot!"  I'm in hysterics over the thickness of this contestant.   "Stupid-Stupid person!  It's A. Fred.  Fred-Fred-Fred!!!"

Bradley, the host, tells us that the answer is ... "C.  Joe."

Myself and the contestant, we both hang our heads in shame ...




And I see there is now an extra 'Chaser' added to the British team:



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Appointments with the medical professions

Hi there

Oh dear, it has just hit home to me that older people are rarely ever not at the dentist, the eye people, or the ear place. We spend a fortune on them.  Tsk, tsk.

I have just been told that if the new eye drops I have been given (last ditch attempt to fix the problem) do not work before my next appointment on 11 November then I will have to immediately give up driving. For the rest of my life!

Grrrrhh.  My booked summer South Island road trip is in complete jeopardy.   All my future-years' summer road trips are in jeopardy.  Just driving to the nearby suburb of Kilbirnie is in jeopardy.

If  I'm told I won't be able to drive, well, that's it then;  I'll put on a brave face.

However, I'm admitting to you, my four beloved readers, that I'm a wee bit frightened.




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shady Pines, here I come?

Hi there

Recently, I wrote about how if we older people aren't too  careful with our actions we could be carted off to Shady Pines (reference "Golden Girls).  I rambled on about putting bowling balls in the fridge, and how it might only take one spur-of-the-moment absent-minded mistake like this and the guys in the white coats might truly register us for Shady Pines.

Yesterday, I mislaid my wallet again.  A brand-new five-day old wallet that wasn't, as yet, a familiar artefact to me.

I searched for it all around the house .....

With trepidation, I searched in the fridge, knowing that if I found my wallet in there I truly would be in line for Shady Pines.  Phewww, thank goodness, my wallet wasn't there. I  searched in even more outlandish places.  Goodness, I'd only handled the wallet forty-five minutes before, so why was I searching in the top of my wardrobe.  Alzheimer's became an even closer worry with every place I looked.  Had I had an amnesiac period?

My little cottage is about the size of most people's lounges.  I went round and around hunting in those rooms over and over, getting more and more agitated by the minute.

I thought about the last time I had opened my wallet.  What had I done after that?

Got it!  I had scooped up a big bundle of stuff from the kitchen counter and, arms laden, had carried it all outside to the recycling bin!

My wallet was there!   In the bin, amongst the egg trays, envelopes, council electioneering pamphlets and, sadly, empty Pepsi Max bottles (I swear I am trying to wean myself off Pepsi, promise).

I am so glad that no representative from Shady Pines was nearby to catch my latest "senior moment"...



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Reading - which way is best?

Hi there

A few years ago, I used to go to the library two or three times a week.  I couldn't stand to pass the library without going into the building and getting books out.  When I've ever moved house, I've had four locality requirements.  I would have to be near a supermarket, a bus stop, a Post Shop, and a library.

Then I bought a Kindle Reader.  Now I probably visit the library only once or twice a month because I am soooooo hooked on my Kindle. It's addictive.  And expensive.

"But I love the tactile feeling of a book!"  A friend throws her hands up in horror.  She is stunned that I could abandon print and paper so easily.  "I love feeling the crisp pages," she says.

Yes, I am definitely looked on as some sort of traitor against a cause.

And today I was chatting to a stranger, sort of in passing, and I mentioned my Kindle addiction.

He said, in all seriousness, "Who reads anymore?"  Apparently, television, streaming, On Demand, Netflix were all more important to this guy.

So, I'm old-fashioned nowadays for reading my Kindle?  Oh dear, how sad ..

(This piece of writing brought to you by one-fingered typing on my Kindle Fire)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More Melbourne

Hi there

Aside from getting lost every hour I was in Melbourne, I seemed to be doing a lot of walking ... and walking.  My Skeechers shoes were fairly new but by the time I got home, the soles were pretty worn down.  I was worn down, too.

I saw 'Matilda - the musical'.  To my mind, it wasn't as good as 'Sister Act', though still entertaining.  But I must be getting some kind of selected hearing in my old age because all the little girls' singing voices sounded like unintelligible chipmunk chittering;  I could hardly make out a word.

Above: an overseas clip

###

I went to the Arts Centre and there was a collection of stage clothes worn over the years by Aussie singer Kylie Minogue. 




Okay, all right, yes, I did get up-close to kangaroos.  I mean, come on, I was in Australia ...


No-one who lives in this little town at the foot of the Grampians mountain range own lawn mowers.  At dusk the kangaroos come out from the bush and hop through town munching on people's lawns.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Been to Melbourne!

Hi there

I've just returned from five nights in Melbourne, Australia.  I lost my wallet at one point, backtracked for several hours through half a dozen shops looking for it until I reached a 7/11 convenience store.  I joined the end of the store queue just in time to hear the shop assistant say to another shop assistant, "If a lady comes back looking for her wallet, I'll put it over here..."  I jumped up and down, waving, in my excitement.  "Me!  Me!  It's my wallet!"  Everything was safe inside, money, credit card (which I'd already cancelled), and my bank card which couldn't be accessed without a PIN.  Whoopee!  I still had to pay my hotel bill and luckily I had a second credit card kept in a different place from the first.

I went on an hour long up-hill guided walk in the Grampian Mountain Range, at a place that is called The Grand Canyon.  I cannot understand why the Go West tour guide didn't cancel the walk when as we got to the foot of the hill it started to rain  The track was comprised completely of rocks.  Rocks that got slippery and slide-y as we progressed, and the rain got heavy.

Remember last year when I got all traumatised riding a horse?  Well, it was the same on this trek; I was so tense and stressed out  I was scared I might slip on a wet rock and end up wih another bad knee; bang would have gone my hiking trip this summer down the Abel Tasman National Park.




More photos from Melbourne later ..

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sister Act - The Musical. In Wellington

Hi there

I saw "Sister Act - the musical".  I loved every minute of it.  Such a happy show and with such wonderful rhyming lyrics.  It's a very Broadway musical.  The songs are all reminiscent of the disco era.

There was one song "When I find My Baby" that was hilarious.  It's sung by the Mr Big baddie and starts off sounding sweet and ends up with him and his henchmen dancing and singing like The Temptations.  The song morphs into how when he catches Deloris who saw him commit murder, he's going to shoot her, stab her, disembowel her, kill her (!!), and all done as if he was Lionel Ritchie singing a love song.

I do love musicals. And I thought the Wellington singers performed fabulously.  Dare I say it, better than in the below overseas clip?




Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why do "they" keep changing things?

Hi there

As I grow older I  try to accept change, but every now and then I find myself thinking, or even shouting, "I hate change!"

Earlier this year, I was trying to learn how to use my new mobile phone, my new laptop , my new house phone (I gave up on that and kept my old phone), and my new Kindle.  All in a one month period. I stamped my foot many times in a real temper tantrum because I couldn't learn fast enough.  I guess I should have asked a five year old to help me.

The style of my circuit class at the gym was changed,  I changed dentists after forty years at the one dentistry, and then I had to get a new hairdresser (no, no, stylist, stylist)

When did the sandals that I used to call 'scuffs', suddenly become 'slides'?  My favourite restaurants always rebrand after a few years.  As a kid, all the guys played  'footie' or 'football', until 'football' became a much used word and our national game became officially  'rugby' .

I used to stand up in picture theatres for the National Anthem of 'God Save the Queen' and glare at people who never rose from their seats.  When TV1 came on air of a morning at mid-day, way back in the sixties, the start-up shot was of a group of kids standing on a hill singing something called "God Defend New Zealand".

What?  I'd never heard of the song before and, suddenly, it was our National Anthem? 

This past year the nation was asked to vote for, and choose a new flag.  Just think what I could have voted for given the choice of National Anthem.  "Ten Guitars", anyone?"


Above:  international singing star, New Zealander Hayley Westenra, singing "God Defend New Zealand".  Rugby themed.  She sings it first in Maori, and then English.






Monday, September 12, 2016

Shortland Street tv Series - Ukraine

Hi there

Well ...  The New Zealand TV2 series "Shortland Street" has been around for a couple of hundred years.  Oh, wait, no - it just feels like that.  I remember years back when it first started, I thought the acting was so amateur-ish.  Nowadays the show has reached iconic status.

Anyway, the Ukraine has bought the bones of the series.  I think this means the basic plots, sets, characters.  There will be Ukranian actors in the show.

It is so interesting to know that a kiwi plotline was considered good enough for tv in another country.

Of course the Ukraine will put their own stamp on the series, and good for them.  I expect that, if the series lasts, the storylines will veer a long way away from our series.

Thank you, Ukraine.  Hope you enjoy the series.



PS:  Hey, Ukraine, I  was in the supermarket and noticed fruit biscuits from your country on the shelf.  An open market for fruit biscuits in exchange for a  tv series -  Yummy!  A great swap!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shady Pines Rest Home?

Hi there

A friend and I often joke about the time when we will end up at Shady Pines.

We are well aware that the slightest slip, any small sign of forgetfulness - like a bowling ball put into the fridge by mistake, a kettle left on the boil too long, a small house-fire, - and it will be Shady Pines, here we come.  A 20 year old putting a bowling ball in the fridge would have her friends grinning indulgently over the mistake but, hey, we older folk would be raced into a care facility faster than one can say "Alzheimers".

There are questions asked by the medical profession to see if an older person is ripe for induction:  "Name the Prime Minister?"  "What's the date?"  "Count backwards from a hundred in sevens".  "Draw a cube".  "Draw a clock face that reads ten-fifteen".

I'm pretty sure I would remember the name of the PM (phew!), I'd be somewhat hazy over the date,  I can't count in sevens forwards let alone backwards, and as for drawing a cube? - well, I have no eye for perspective.

When a relative was asked to draw the clock face, he drew a digital watch with the numbers "10:15" on it.  Five stars for being creative?

From now on, I'll have to watch my P's and Q's.  And my boiling kettles.  And my bowling balls.  This very morning I'm going to start in on drawing cubes ...


Monday, September 5, 2016

Yogi-ing?

Hi there

About ten years ago, I was staying at an isolated lodge in the Marlborough Sounds area (just off the Queen Charlotte track) at the top of the South Island.  It was a bring-in-your-own food place and I was there to go hiking, swimming, kayaking.  I had calculated in advance exactly what food I needed for my visit, right on down to the last slice of bread for my last day.  I would be starving a fraction but if i was careful, I knew I could manage.

My first night there, I had made myself a meal of salad, potato and mussels.  I sat at a shared table.

"Oh, your food looks good."  A young lady backpacker sat down next to me.

"Yes, doesn't it?"   On my plate, I had six mussels,  one potato, and a measured-out salad.

This young lady continued to compliment me on my food, exclaiming over and over of the wonder of it.  To her, it was obviously the most fantastic-looking meal ever.  Gordon Ramsay, take a back seat.

She  looked beseechingly  at me with soulful puppy-dog eyes.

I would have liked to give her something to eat, but I knew I couldn't.  Most of these overseas backpackers were at the lodge for a night or two.  I was there for a week.

For years, I felt awful about being such a mean person.  But today I was reading a book about hiking the Appalachian Trail in the United States.

The book told me that non-stop exclaiming over the wonders of another person's food, coupled with the puppy dog eyes, is actually called ... Yogi-ing.  It's named after Yogi Bear who had this style of begging down to a fine art.  Hikers use the technique a lot.  The rule is that they are not allowed to actually ask for the food

Maybe I'll try it.  I'm hiking the Abel Tasman National Park this coming summer.  Shall I play the little old hungry lady card?



Saturday, September 3, 2016

Three little(!) Polar Bears Are We

Hi there

You know that my swimming friend J, myself, and The Young One call ourselves polar bears, yes?

...



We've decided that I'm the laidback bear, J is The Guardian, and The Young One is texting. The patiently-waiting bear in the background is J's personal paparazzo (minus his camera).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Trying times

Hi there

Yes, trying times this week for anyone wanting to swim from Wellington beaches.

First, there was a lot of Spring pollen in the sea.  On another day, there was a leak of sewage into the harbour.   The next day a water main broke and swimmers were told not to go in the water.  Now, today Friday, we have a tsunami warning emanating from this morning's 7.1 earthquake off the East Coast.

I live about 300 metres from the sea.

I think (hope) it's only going to be a mini tsunami, the water will only be a little higher than normal...

But I don't think I'll swim today.  Or paddle. And walking along a beach is most definitely out..

###
Later:  the tides only rose 30cm higher than usual.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

Swimming at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

So far, I'm 12 swims down for this month at Hataitai Beach.  And today my swimming friend J, The Young One, Thong Man, and myself were all in swimming.

When we three ladies got out from the water we plastered ourselves against the outside changing shed wall to get the heat from the boards!  Then - wait for it - we popped in the water for a second little swim, this time without our lightweight t-shirts that we wear on really cold days.
###

Recently J and her personal paparazzo were staying in a motel.  J's personal paparazzo told the motel manager that J swam in the winter.  "In the sea," he added.

"They call them polar bears," said the motel manager.

"They call them a few other things as well," J's personal paparazzo said dryly.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Spring, Spring, Spring (nearly)

Hi there

Today it's Tuesday in New Zealand, one week before it's officially Spring on 1 September.  Yippeee!!  Another winter down, or almost down.  Fingers crossed that it will be good weather from now on.

It's been a lovely day today.  In fact, it's been lovely the whole winter.  Still cold in the sea at Hataitai Beach, but the air temperature today was 14c which for August is extremely good.  J and I swam more of a distance out to sea this afternoon, spending a few minutes longer in the water than we normally would in August. When there's no-one else swimming we try to stick closer to the shoreline where passersby can see us.

My garden's first Spring daffodil bloomed today -





 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Unwrapping Packaging

Hi there

Surely I can't be the only person in the country who has trouble pulling a spanking new toothbrush out of it's plastic and cardboard packaging?   I wrench, pull, cut, push, and after annoying minutes that I'll never get back again, finally get the toothbrush out through a small hole that squashes the bristles, and makes the toothbrush look like it's been dragged through a bush backwards.

I had a book delivered yesterday.  In a cardboard box.  Attacking with my fingernails, I first went for the top seam of the box, and I broke a fingernail.   Then I went for a side seam.

I got out the scissors.  I jabbed, tore, plunged those scissors at random all around the box.  By this time I was puffing like a tea kettle.  This was a workout in itself.

By manually ripping, and tearing, and crushing, and bashing, I finally got the box open enough to wrangle out the book.

At which stage, I read the small label on the outside of the box telling me that it had "certified frustration-free packaging".  And there was a line of arrows to pull to enable me to be less frustrated.

I was ever-so frustrated ...






Friday, August 19, 2016

Cleaning the toilet

Hi there

I was bending down to clean the toilet when the phone rang.

"I'm glad you didn't ring one minute later," I said to my friend J who had phoned in for the usual long discussion about would we/wouldn't we go swimming.  "I almost had my head down the toilet."

"Good thing you're not the queen then" said J.  "You might have lost your tiara."

Friday, August 12, 2016

I love musicals

Hi there



I have always loved stage musicals.  And over the next few months I will be awash with them!   Usually I manage to locate only one or two a year and that's definitely not enough for a fan like me.

For years, my fave stage musical was "42nd Street".  I saw about six different productions of it.  Surprisingly, the Palmerston North version had more vim and verve to it than the New York version that starred Shirley Jones.

But then in Auckland,  some years ago, I saw "Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the musical", and I lost my heart. Such a fun show.

I booked to see the brand new production of it in Las Vegas but the musical got taken off after only three weeks and I got a refund.  Huh?  Taken off in Vegas?  The sin capital of America?  Vegas, that purportedly loves ostrich feathers and glitter, of which "Priscilla has an abundance?  Sigh, Cirque De Soleil has such a hold there.

Anyway, soon I will be seeing "Priscilla", again in Auckland.  Followed the very next day with "Billy Elliot - the musical",  and next month in Wellington there will be "Sister Act - the musical".  Oh, and I'm flying to Melbourne for  "Matilda"!

My cup runneth over.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Two Minute swimming!

Hi there

A few years' ago, a New Zealand university did a study about swimming.  I guess that a grant was involved.  Obviously there would be a lot of writing down of equations, testing of volunteers, and a myriad of budding scientists wearing spectacles and lab coats. The study, naturally, would take several months, if not longer, to complete.  There would be a thesis or two at the end, and a good grade from the teacher.

The discovered outcome?  ...  it takes two minutes for swimmers to overcome the initial coldness of the water after they've first jumped in.

Two minutes to get used to the cold water?  Goodness, my swimming friend, J, and I could have told that to the university boffins years ago.

The secret of swimming enjoyment, whether in pool or sea, is to grit your teeth and not flail out for shore within seconds of getting into the water.

However, it's now official.  Wait out that two minutes ...



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Those songs that play with your head!

Hi there

And what about those songs that you just cannot get out of your head?  You might hear a tune over breakfast radio and for the rest of the day that piece of music is with you.  Annoyingly with you.  Rolling around in your head.  Sometimes for several days.  Maybe for years.

When I first started work as a teen, a friend in the typing pool would always sing or hum "Stupid Cupid" when she was stressed or annoyed (V, I think you'll be reading this?). We others in the room always knew to steer clear of her at these times, otherwise we would be indoctrinated, too.

Another friend often has in her head a Russian tune that she learnt years ago.   After a couple of minutes in the sea, my swimming mate, J, tends to frequently break out into "... the nearest thing to heaven".

Me?  I only have to hear a snippet of the chorus of "We're All In This Together" from the movie and stage show "High School Musical", and I can't get rid of it from my mind for hours.  And hours.  And hours -


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Swimming today

Hi there

31 July NZ time

Four of us went swimming at Hataitai Beach today - myself, J, The Young One, and Thong Man.  The water was extremely cold.  The Young One let out more than a few sudden yelps as she struck the water.  But kudos to her for swimming with bare feet.  Feet and hands get so cold.

It took me hours afterwards to get warm.

Today has been cold throughout the country.  Snow, rain, everyone bundled up in thick layers.  And we went swimming?  In the sea?  No, don't call us  'mad'.  Heroic, perhaps?''  Or brave?  Yes, I like the word 'brave'.  'Brave' will do just fine ...  stop laughing...

Swims at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

Well, I managed to get in 14 swims for the month of July.   I could probably have fitted in a couple more but I developed a bit of a sore throat and decided it was better to be safe than sorry.  I stayed inside.  Besides, there were a couple of storms, and I probably couldn't have been swimming, anyway.

The last time I swam, I had been wearing my emergency swimming gear that I keep in the car, and it is very lightweight.  I was so freeeeezing in the sea.  The cold seemed to go right through my very flesh.  And when I got home, my body was icy for hours.

Am I getting too long in the tooth for winter swimming?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wellington Airport

Hi there

whilst I was holidaying in Nelson a few weeks ago, tidings of great joy were delivered to the letterboxes on the opposite side of my narrow street.

Wellington Airport will soon be extending its runway and because of anticipated noise the kind and generous folk associated with this operation wanted to lavish my neighbours with untold treasure.  In the form of complete house insulation.  For free.

What a magnificent gesture!  But I guess not for the residents on my side of the street.  With just a few metres separating us, there were, apparently, shouts from my lot  of "Why not us?" and "Not fair!"  Some kind of civil war, neighbour against neighbour, was imminent.

And,  truly, we're not really that close to Wellington Airport.

Turns out it was all a mistake.  Letters were sent to the wrong street!  Oh, the workings of large organisational bodies  -   gotta hate  'em

Friday, July 22, 2016

Those Toilet Signs

Hi there

A friend of mine was standing outside the entrance to a public toilet and having an intent discussion with her small son.

"That door leads to the ladies' toilets," she explained.  See - there's a picture of  lady in a skirt.  I go in there-

"No!"  The child was distressed.  He pointed to the second sign of a stick gentleman.  "You go in that door." 

"Why?"  Mum was puzzled.

My friend wasn't wearing a skirt.  She was in trousers.  Her toddler, it appeared, wanted her to go through the door marked by the stick figure in trousers.

Oh dear. Is this a conversation all mums go through? 

Apparently there wasn't a woman within coo-eee of my friend who was wearing a skirt. So, should toilet signs all around the world be changed?   And, if so,  to what...?






Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wandering Wellington's Eastern Suburbs

Hi there

I love walking Wellington.  Winter, summer, any season.  So, surely my four readers will have no trouble visualising the anguish I went through for six months this year whilst my knee was healing from that stupid fall when I tripped over a tree-root as I hiked the Eastbourne hills.  It took me five hours to complete the hike and finally reach home.  So much for icing the leg immediately, and elevating the leg immediately, and resting the leg immediately ...

I like walking the Miramar hills.  When I reach the top of that high walkway that takes you down the slope to Scorching Bay, I always stand there and ooh and aah over the view. My heart lifts when I see lovely scenery.

And when I've taken my fill of Scorching Bay from atop the hill, I merrily trip down to cavort on the beach or stop for a break at Scorch-A-Rama, the cafe.  Under the name The Chocolate Fish, this cafe was frequented by many of The Lord of the Rings' stars when they were filming the trilogy here in Wellington. 




above:  Scorch-A-Rama has tables across the road from the cafe.  Waiters wear hi-vis vests and dodge the traffic to feed the customers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Best invention ever?

Hi there

I asked a friend what was his favourite invention?    I expected him to say the car, or a washing machine.  Or television.

He said, the paper towel.

Uh?

He said he could wipe down benches with a paper towel, then toss it away.  He could blow his nose on a paper towel.  Use it as a serviette?  A plate?  To cover things.  Wrap up his lunch in.  Clean his car's windscreen.  Dry himself, if no fluffy towel was handy.

And my friend went on and on listing dozens of joys of using a paper towel.

Well, I used to think the umbrella was the best invention ever - my own little personal roof whether in sun or rain -  but now I'm having second thoughts about the paper towel...

 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Seven Swims!

Hi there

We made it!  Seven sea swims so far this month.  Our minimum number of seven for every 2016 month has so far been reached.  The air temperatures have not been that bad for winter.

 The winter Wellington Harbour sea temp at the moment is about 13.3c.   I was at the Aquatic Centre a couple of years ago and a notice read, "Our pool temp  is usually about  28c.  Sorry, but today it's only 23c.  Brrrrhhh..."

Brrrrhhh???

Friday, July 8, 2016

Traumatic Raumati swimming

Hi there

I was visiting the little coastal village of Raumati last week and I decided to go for a swim.

I stepped into a pair of Crocs.  I don't usually wear Crocs in the water but, hey,  I'm a fast learner when it comes to walking through the waters at Raumati - no way did I want my feet torn to bits on broken shells.  Been there before and done that.

Before I'd even reached ankle-depth in the murky water I'd crunched down on a full-sized paua shell (abalone shell, for my one American reader).  Shells and thousands of twigs carpeted the sea bottom.  Similar sea debris swirled around me.  I trudged for ages before the water got up to my waist.

Oh, and did I mention that it was cold? The air temp that morning in Raumati, just a few hours previous to my swim,  had been 1c.   1c!   I was the only person in the sea and nobody was walking the shore.  I was a long way out and, honestly, had I got into difficulty, who would know?  So I didn't spend too long in the water.

That's six sea swims for the month so far.  This year, seven swims minimum per month is the goal.




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Background Music

Hi there

I never really used to pay attention to music that played in the background of movies and television.   It was just there, you know?

Little lambs gambolling in a paddock to happy accompanying music?  Who cared?  The murderer tippy-toeing up the back stairs to the heroine's bedroom, with creepy music making its way up there with him?  I didn't give a fig.  A menacing shark bearing down on a boat?  Well, okay, the music for "Jaws" is iconic;  it works.

And as for those documentaries where background music accompanies the likes of Griff Rhys-Jones as he hikes Britain, or Charley Boorman biking around the world?    Nope, nada,  I didn't even think about the themes, I was too busy watching the programmes.

There was one time....  A few years ago, I was driving from KeriKeri, at the top of the North Island to Waitangi.

I was listening to a cassette of television theme tunes.  I got to the theme for the British television drama series "Reilly, Ace of Spies".  It starred New Zealand's very own Sam Neill.



And suddenly I noticed that the music was matching the scenery that I was passing.   I drove up a hill and the music swelled higher ... and higher until it hit a crescendo as I reached the top.  I cruised down the hill, and the music lowered.  When I turned a corner, the music got excited.  On a straight road, the music levelled out.  A fresh vista suddenly appeared and the music amped up a notch.  Craggy rocks, rolling hills, a bird lazily flyng overhead ...   I'm telling you that tune, written by Shostakovich, seamlessly matched all the scenery I was passing.

I now try to make a point of registering the background music I hear on my television.  Those composers sure work hard.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Tahuna Beach, Nelson

Hi there

I've just returned from a week at Tahunanui (Tahuna) Beach in Nelson.  For the information of my overseas reader, Nelson is down the South Island of New Zealand. It's a half-hour flight from Wellington.

I only decided to go three days before my leaving date and I didn't really have time for my usual lots and lots of practise sessions as to what would and wouldn't fit in a cabin bag.  Still, I managed to fit in two sheets, pillow-case, three towels, underwear, umbrella, shoes, and two changes of outfits.  I did, however, resemble a womble as I rolled up  onto the plane; I was wearing quite a few layers of winter clothes.

I got in two swims at Tahuna Beach. I didn't take my bathing gear with me but I did have sea-worthy shorts which I teamed up with a bra, a cami, and a two-dollar lycra top from a charity shop.  The water was crisp, cool, and as flat as a pancake.  I overheard two yachties bemoaning the fact that they couldn't get out on the water because it was becalmed.








Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to stand out at lunch -

Hi There

Recently, I went to a group lunch with 10 other women.

I wore a DUX medallion on a chain around my neck; it had been my father's medal. I was also sporting some dangly glittery half-moon ear-rings.

Several people asked to see the medallion close up.  And with all eyes upon me. I reached to pull the chain up and over my face.

... and both sides of that chain caught on my ear-rings!

There was a bit of a titter from my audience as I  did the untangling: it took some time.  I attempted to lift the chain up from my neck again.  And again.  And yet again.  And each time that stupid chain got hooked up on my ear-rings. My audience was in hysterics.

Embarrassment much?  Yes.  It's so difficult for one to act with ladylike aplomb when sitting in a posh teashop with a chain dangling across one's face and a gold medallion seemingly permanently hooked over one's nose.







Monday, June 20, 2016

Mid-Winter Swim, Hataitai Beach, 2016

Hi there

It's 21 June here in New Zealand, and our little polar bear group went for our official mid-winter swim today.  We've actually done over a  dozen swims so far this month.  It didn't help that the sky was dull and grey, and I really felt the cold when we got out from the water.  One of our summer swimmers, a guy, rolled up just as we three - myself, J, and The Young One - were leaving the beach.  So we stood on the deck and cheered his entry into the water.  He ducked under the cold sea and came up with a holler of a naughty word that must have been heard kms away.


Above: photo taken by I'd personal paparazzo



Courtesy of my swimming friend, J, we all got certifcates to commemorate the occasion!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rambling On

Hi there

Oh dear, I do tend to ramble on, don't I?  No, don't answer that!  I know I do.  According to Several Friends Who Know Everything about Writing Blogs I should only write a short paragraph or two to get maximum readership.

I have been told in future to be succinct yet pithy, which all sounds very Noel Coward-ish and if I only knew what "succinct" and "pithy" meant I would be on it, like a flash.  I will go hunt up a dictionary.

So, my four beloved readers, expect to see a more restrained me from now on ...

Yeah, right - that is so not going to work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rainbow Flag for Florida

I was stunned when I heard the news about the killings in Florida.  I cried when I saw on televsion all the candle-lit vigils in different countries.

The Eiffel Tower went rainbow-coloured.  So, too, did Auckland's Skytower, and our very own Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.

Driving around the coast today, I approached the Greta Point Cafe.  Outside the cafe, and flying proudly, was a rainbow flag. 

The people of Florida will see the Eiffel Tower lit up and maybe read about our Skytower and Michael fowler Centre, and all those other big buildings around the world going multi-coloured in recognition of the sadness fallen upon the LGBT community.   And now here is a small cafe on the Wellington coast,  a little cafe that isn't even the tiniest of blips on the world stage, a cafe that's  many thousands of kms away from the United States, flying the rainbow flag in solidarity with Florida.

Sometimes it's the smaller actions that tug at the heartstrings....











  




  

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Balaena Bay, Wellington

Hi there

Well ... because of the pollution warning notices nailed to all the fences at Hataitai Beach (the notices that I never saw when I went swimming there last week) , we swimmers have had to do a tactical retreat to Balaena Bay, a few coves further along the coastline, and nearer to the city.

Last week when myself, my swimming friend J, J's personal paparazzo, and Thong Man were standing outside the changing sheds, a woman walked by.  She appeared sophisticated, well-dressed (well, she wasn't wearing a hoodie, like we were), hair done impeccably, nice grown-up shoes (not trainers, like us).  She didn't slouch, she walked at a steady pace, head held high.  To all intents, a posh lady.

However, clasped low down in a hand, and trailing behind her was the thickest longest, widest, many-branched length of seaweed that I had ever seen out of the water.  This woman was like those old pics of Queen Elizabeth in her loooooong coronation robe as she trudged down the runway-oops sorry-aisle at Westminster Abbey. 

The seaweed train took about a full minute to grandly trail past us.  Kudos to this woman who was acting as if she didn't even belong to the seaweed  - "Huh, how did that get there?  I guess it followed me home ... "


Here's Balaena Bay -





  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hataitai Beach Closure

Hi there


Hataitai Beach Closed

Hi there

What?   Haitatai Beach closed?  Not that I realised it at the time because today I was flying solo, and in too much of a hurry to notice much at all


I shot out of my car, ran into the changing shed, changed,  and shot out again, and into the water.  Mmmm, lovely and crispy cool.  

Back home again to find out from J that there were huge notices at Hataitai Beach saying no swimming because of unidentified pollution!  Neither she nor The Young One had ventured into the Hataitai Beach water.

Again... what?  I hadn't seen any huge notices.  There weren't any notices there yesterday.

It seems some kind of nearby sewage pipe in the road had broke and leaked into the sea.  The water will be test sampled for the next three days, and it could take up to two weeks for the beach to get clearance.

We winter swimmers - me, J, The Young One, and, to a lesser degree, Thong Man - are trying for, hopefully, a couple of swims a week this winter. We are fully aware that neither time nor weather will be on our side.

I really hope the Hataitai Beach water pollution hasn't affected me in some  terrible mutation sort of way.  I don't want a rash, or a deadly disease.  Or to turn into a zombie.




Monday, June 6, 2016

GOING TO THE SHOPS

Hi there

I was getting a meal ready and realised I didn't have any eggs, butter, or milk.

I am so grateful that I live just a short walk away from the Miramar supermarket.  I was there and back within fifteen minutes.

It got me thinking about New Zealand's pioneer days, 150-plus years ago.  If I had lived then, I would have had to milk my cow, churn my butter, and wait for my hens to lay.  And not to forget washing my clothes in the copper, nursing the baby, keeping an eye on the other half-a-dozen kids, baking my daily bread, pumping out my water in the backyard, and finding time to lie back and think of England as I serviced my husband ...

###

It's so good to know that someone else has an issue with dentists.  Thanks, Joanna for your comment.









Thursday, June 2, 2016

Those Classic Books

Hi there

If we attempted to read a Charles Dickens book nowadays, in the way that it was originally printed, we would surely have trouble wading through it. The pages would be full of stuff like, " ...and what do you think happened next, dear reader?"  There has since been a lot of selective editing.

Victorians may have liked to get into an author's thoughts but we, in our era, don't want to be dragged out of a storyline when in our minds we are intensely fighting with the baddie, or dangling by our fingernails from a cliff, or falling just a tad in love with Mr Grey (hehehe).

My fave book when I was about eleven was the classic "What Katy Did" by Susan Coolidge, and published in 1872.  How I laughed over the Carr family's adorable antics, and cried when Katy fell off the swing.  I loved the beautiful verses that she came up with for her siblings on Valentine's Day, and who wouldn't want to have the  lovely and selfless Cousin Helen as their very own relative? 

I read the book again a couple of weeks ago.  Boy-oh-boy, was the author hovering over my shoulder as I progressed through the story.  There were many sentences such as this one:  " ... and the Katy who laid in bed, was a very different-looking Katy from the forlorn girl of the last chapter."    No, it's got nothing to do with sex. Our Katy was an invalid, but - bang! - there I was, immediately thrown out of the book.  Sadly, I can't see modern children touching the book with a ten foot pole.

Still, my recent reading of "What Katy Did" was a great nostalgic outing for me.

***
PS:  The Hataitai Beach sea in June is starting to leave me with a bit of a shiver and shake after a swim.  Brrrr....


Monday, May 30, 2016

Weta at the Zoo

Hi there

A week ago, there was a day of entrance-by-gold-coin-donation at Wellington Zoo.  I trotted along and was surprised how much the zoo has changed in the 10 years or so since I last visited.  It's rather like a mini-Melbourne Zoo (but without the elephants).  Quite green and lush.

I remember when I was a child there was the chimps' tea party at the zoo.  Of course, it's horrendous to think of forcing beautiful animals to do something like that today, just to amuse us.  I'm glad it's not like that now.  However, the chimps' tea party is part of history and, as part of history, the past should be recognised as happening, even if we are embarrassed by it. 

Wellington Zoo have openly recognised their past.  Alongside the present chimps' enclosure, there is a plaque, produced by Weta, that shows the nineteen-fifties chimps having a tea party with their keeper. 



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mary Potter Hospice Street Collection

Hi

Last Friday, I stood for quite a few hours outside Cafe L'Affare in Wellingon.  I was soliciting (oh, I never tire of saying that!). 

With my little collection bucket, I was looking for donations for the Mary Potter Hospice.  Cafe L'Affare have the most generous patrons.  But, oh dear, last Friday ...  it rained.

And not just your spitting, or drizzling, or on-and-off rain.  It poured throughout the whole last hour I was standing there.

And it was freezing cold.  And the wind was howling.  And my brand new umbrella blew inside out within the first five minutes.  And there was no verandah above Cafe L'Affare ...

At the end of my shift, I was absolutely positively soaking, and shivering.  My shoes were squelching, my hair hanging in wet rat-tails.  My fingers were so frozen, I couldn't move them.  I stumbled onto the Miramar Heights bus to return home.

As the bus trundled past Hataitai Beach, I thought I saw a movement in the sea.  I had to wipe the window to get a good view, and peer in between the high wild waves.

It was "The Young One" in the water, an apprentice winter swimmer who is dying to show old-hands, J and myself, that she can definitely make it through the next few months.

What stamina!  What guts!  What an attitude!  I was huddled in that bus, freezing cold, sitting there in my soaking wet woolly hat, mittens, and scarf,  The wind was howling, the rain was pelting down, and The Young One was proving her mettle swimming across the bay in completely wild weather.

Should we allow The Young One sacred polar bear status (we have a t-shirt we could present to her) before we've even hit the real winter months?  I'll have to think about that....




Friday, May 20, 2016

The Desert Song - the Red Shadow

Hi there

There are many super-heroes in movies nowadays.  Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, Superman, Antman ...  I could go on  ... and on ...

but -  when I was a kid I fell in love with Al Kabar The Red Shadow as portrayed  by singer Gordon Macrae in the movie of the operetta "The Desert Song".

Sigh.  Swoon.  The Red Shadow was everything my nine year old heart could pine over.  He was handsome and romantic, with a voice to entice the angels out from the clouds. My super-hero rescued maidens, trounced baddies, led a heroic bunch of rebels called The Riffs, and strode across the desert all moody, masked, and gorgeous.

When The Red Shadow dramatically swished his robes, and slipped on that shawl-type disguise thing over the bottom half of his face and his eyes were twinkling, I fell in love for the first time in my life.  I was so jealous of Macrae's romantic interest, Kathryn Grayson. .

I saw the movie seven times.  My love for it never waned, not even when my ballet teacher was an extra in the New Plymouth amateur presentation of "The Desert Song" and I wasn't,  and a donkey did a poo on the stage;  the dancers adroitly stepped around the mess.

Three years' later, I was in to rock'n'roll and operetta was out.  No more sighing over Gordon MacRae.

Kids are so fickle.










Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mt Ruapehu ... Mt Doom, Lord of the Rings



A couple of weeks ago, I drove along The Desert Road.  Once I drove this road in such a fog, I couldn't see my car's bonnet (hood, if you're American).  Another time, the rain was so bad, I again couldn't see the bonnet.  So scary when you're driving an awful road for about 40 minutes.  I won't travel The Desert Road in the winter.

But I love looking over to Mt Ruapehu which stood in for Mt Doom in the movie "The Lord of the Rings".

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Technology

Hi there

I'd like to talk about new technology ...  no, wait, I don't know a thing about new technology, so I better talk about not-so-new technology.

I can't even handle not-so-new technology....

I bought a couple of landline phones last month, unboxed them, plugged them in ... and couldn't get them going.  The instruction book is obviously aimed at 6 year olds;  I wish I could catch up to their learning capabilities.  I couldn't even programme (program?) in the date and time which was point A on page 1 of the instruction book. The phones are back to sitting in the box they came in.  What's next for me?  Shady Pines Rest Home?

I saw a commercial on tv for a new car.  It has a digital screen with all sorts of icons on it.  Have I missed out on the fact that nowadays a certificate from NASA is a necessary requirement when out driving, rather than a kiwi license?

Today I have sent for My Computer Guy.  My computer problem will, of course,  end up being fixed by just the press of a button, and My Computer Guy's bill will be extremely high.  Sigh.  If I won Lotto, I would definitely hire a live-in Windows 10 expert.

Or ... I guess I could go rob a bank for extra funds, but that's only if I could figure out how to circumvent  hidden cameras, trip alarms, invisible light beams , DNA samples,  eyeball scanners, and secret codes...