Friday, April 21, 2017

seeing things that aren't there?

Hi there

I was driving out of the city last week and I read a roadside sign -  "Emergency Shopping Area".


Oh, wait!  It doesn't say "Emergency Shopping Area".  It's "Emergency Stopping Area".  Blame my stupid eyesight -

But, hey, wouldn't it be great to have a real emergency shopping area in a lay-by off the motorway?  I could be on my way to, say, a job interview and I suddenly wish I wasn't wearing my grey trousers (the ones with the huge pink polka dots on them).

But I'm approaching the "Emergency Shopping" sign.  With a squeal of brakes, I turn in to buy some lovely black trousers.  Phew, saved.....   

Friday, April 14, 2017

Forgetting words as you get older

Hi there

Sigh, with age comes forgetfulness.  My friends and I "lose" words.  In mid-conversation, words suddenly  disappear from our heads. However, about 2 am, maybe a good half-a-dozen hours after such a conversation,  I will wake up with a start and triumphantly shout "Crumpet"!   It's so good to know the word has not gone forever.

I have just watched veteran actor Ian McKellen talking to tv chat-show host, Graham Norton.  McKellen hesitated twice while he searched for words and I thought of a phone-call I'd had this morning with my swimming friend, J.  I was trying to get her to identify an object with a name to it that, all at once, I couldn't remember -

"It's big.  It moves around a warehouse.  A guy sits on it," I said.

She didn't have a clue.

"It carries cartons.  It's got prongs."

"Prongs?  Prongs..."  my friend ruminated for a time.  Then she screamed, "A FORKLIFT!"

"Oh, yes!"

What are friends for if not to help you out in a word-forgetting crisis?  I swear I will repay her.  Just wait until she has such a memory block - I will be there in a trice with my Pocket Oxford, if not my memory...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hataitai Beach ... thing?

Hi there

I went for a swim today.  The sea is getting colder.  There was a big storm last weekend and seaweed, twigs and branches have been coming in with the tide.  A few days ago the sea was a terrible chocolate colour.

There was this weird thing in the shallow water.  Was it a starfish?  Seaweed?  A rock with a starfish and seaweed on it? 

There were yellow baubles on the top of the thing.  Were these ... sting-ray eggs? 

I gave up wondering  ...

PS, one day later ....  when I went swimming today there were hundreds and hundreds of lovely little starfish in the water.  It was hard trying not to step on them.  It looked like the night sky upside down.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Hi there

In my last blog i was writing about lamp-posts. But what about signposts?  A few years ago I was walking along the footpath at the back of Wellington Airport, at the Cook Strait end, next to the sea ...

The gale force winds were howling right at me.  I pushed into the wind, head down, eyes to the pavement, inwardly cursing the fact that I lived in Windy Wellington. Thank goodness I was wearing a cap to protect my eyes from the grit and sand swirling everywher-


I had crashed into a signpost.

Rubbing my sore head, and furious with myself for being such a klutz, I read the sign:

               Watch For Low-Flying Aircraft

It should have read 'Watch for Low-Lying Signs'...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

lamp posts!

Hi there

As my four readers know by now, I go power-walking in Miramar a lot, usually up Park Road, past Park Road Post Production, and also past Weta Workshop.  A lot of times I end up over the hill at Worser Bay or Scorching Bay.

For quite some time now, I have been annoyed by a lamp post slap-bang-dead in the middle of the footpath in Park Road.  It has a "Temporary Pole" notice on it. 

When I'm walking, I often have my head down, contemplating the ground, making sure that my feet aren't in the way of tree roots, or ruptures in the pavement, or cats that I have to pat, or puppies that I am required to coo over...

The first time I encountered this lamp post, I banged into it.  Now, I'm ultra-wary.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wink-wink-nudge-nudge - at the beach!

Hi there

Today, I decided to go shopping instead of going to Hataitai beach.  But, oh dear, I missed an ... interesting happening.

A well-dressed man and a woman - both aged about forty - got out of a car.  She trotted into the Ladies' changing shed, the man went into the Men's.  But a minute or so later the gentleman skedaddled into the Ladies'.

What?  The gang on the deck, sitting, and watching, were puzzled ...

 The Young One, never known to not put her best foot forward, casually sauntered into the changing shed.  She reported back to her breathlessly waiting gang, agog in anticipation, that the couple in question were in the lone toilet cubicle.

 Maybe the woman needed help with her trouser zip?   Perhaps there was no toilet paper in the Mens'?

In the 1960's there was that saying, "Save water, shower with a friend";  very ecological, and all that.  "Save water, flush with a friend" could well be an updated version that had yet to come to the attention of the Hataitai Beach regulars? -

This pair certainly were flushed when they emerged from the Ladies' changing shed about fifteen minutes later to the raucous cheers, waves, and winks from the gang on the deck.

I rather think it had been a tryst ...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Second childhood?

Hi there

My swimming friend J, her personal paparazzo, and myself went for a little walk over the Wellington City to Sea Walkway.

We passed a children's playground.  The swings looked inviting -

"Wheeeee!"   J and I were on the swings in a heartbeat.

Then we spied the see-saw.  And yes, the see-saw was strong enough to hold both of us!

It was a good thing that J's personal paparazzo had  forgotten his camera; I would have been so open to blackmail over any would-be pictures.  Let's hope there were no security cameras either.  Retirees should not be frolicking in a children's playground.

But we would so like a playground of our own.  Look into it, Wellington City Council.  Please!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Zealand ATM Machine

Hi there

I've got over my head cold and I went swimming yesterday.  Goodness, it had only been a week without swimming and yet I missed it terribly.  I love the feeling of that cool crisp water gliding over my entire body as I sink down into the sea.

The ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) banks in Willis Street and Lambton Quay tend to 'do' up their ATM machines when there are special occasions going on in the city.  A few weeks ago the ATM machines were all decked out for Chinese New Year, looking all glittery and red, and festooned with baubles and happiness.

Last week to celebrate the Gay Pride weekend that was on in the capital, the ATM machines were done up again.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Surviving a Cold

Hi there

"I've got a cold," I croaked to a friend, via the telephone.

"Oh, keep away from me, then," was my friend's instant reaction.

I felt I should have been wearing a bell around my neck and chanting, "Unclean, unclean..."

It was so annoying that here I was with just a foot into Autumn, barking like a seal, nose dripping like a tap, and a throat so hoarse that when I answered the phone my friend thought she'd dialled the wrong number and got some croaking old man

And nobody is totally sympathetic over a cold.  A cold is in the same paddock as a stubbed toe or a sprained thumb.  If I had called my cold a virus perhaps, or a "condition", or the flu, I might have got some sympathy

So, I'll just settle down in bed with my Throaties, and my lemon barley water, and my nostrils stuffed with tissues, and my headache, and no lamp-light cause I cant stand the glare, and my aching body, and my hacking cough ... and try to get through the next few days.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Toilets in Geraldine

There's a little bitty area in the South Island called Geraldine.  It's on Highway No 1 on the route to and from Christchurch.  Aside from a flag-bedecked cafe where I had the best muffin in my entire life, I called in to Visitor Information.  This is the place where you'll see the biggest hand-knitted jumper ever, as listed in a Guiness Book of World Records.

At Visitor Information I was also fascinated by a notice on the inner side of my toilet cubicle door -

Below:  another pic from the top of Mt John in the Tekapo area" - the hiking up side, not the driving up side.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mt John, Tekapo

Hi there

Harking back to My Big South Island Road Trip ...  I drove from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo, stopping off for a few hours at Mt Cook Village.  Looking back, I think I would have liked to stay for a few nights at Mt Cook.  There were some nice walking tracks and also a couple of good tours.

At Tekapo, I had an en suite unit at the  Holiday Park.  I stayed there because it was right on the edge of the lake where I could swim. For anyone's information, the Park was also about a couple of 100 metres from the hot pools.

On one day at Tekapo, I decided I would drive up to the top of Mt John.  There is an observatory there and on a cloudless night it is one of the clearest views of the night sky in the world.

I figured the daytime ascent would be a piece of cake.  But, oh my goodness, the drive was horrendous, hugging the side of the mountain, winding around and around, for what seemed like hours, but in reality was probably only about fifteen minutes.  I was so scared.  As I got higher and higher, the land at the foot of the mountain became so far away, so tiny, so Lilliputian, and the road was ultra-narrow.  None of the photos I took truly depict how far it is to the bottom of the mountain.

I had contemplated walking up the mountain (the hiking track was on the opposite side of the mountain to where the driving road was) and I wish now that I had done this instead.

At the top, there is a cafe, and I had quite a nice panini and a smoothie.  But, oh dear, there was a moth in my smoothie.  The cafe is open at night for the tourists to the observatory and I guess this moth had stayed behind.  I felt so silly going up to the counter with the (almost) classic line, "There's a moth in my smoothie.."  I fully expected the assistant to say something like, "So, do you want us to teach it the back-stroke?"  Do folk still tell the "there's a fly in my soup" jokes?

The staff got into a huddle and suspicious looks were cast over their shoulders at me.  I think that they may have thought I had smuggled in the moth inside my handbag.  Sigh, no way would a moth fly out of my handbag -  I open my handbag far too frequently for moths to breed in there!  I did get a refund.

below:  "Lord of the Rings" (ish) scenery at Mt Cook (this is the area where many scenes were filmed for the movie).

below:  "There's a moth in my smoothie!"

below:  pre-moth

below:  view from the top of Mt John, Tekapo

Friday, February 24, 2017

South Island trip, New Zealand

Hi there

Right, I'm back online, so let's get with some of the photos of My Big South Island Road Trip.

I took my Kindle Fire and my phone with me, neither of which took very good photos.  I forgot my camera.

I hired a car in Queenstown and I told the company that I didn't want an upgrade to a bigger car, so I ended up with their smallest car which coincidentally happened to be the same brand as my own car.  I drove the car from Queenstown to Mt Cook Village, to Lake Tekapo, to Christchurch.

On the day I was driving the route from Queenstown to Mt Cook, was the day Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon arrived in that area for filming "A Wrinkle in Time".   Our paths didn't coincide!

Here's a pic of Queenstown from the top of the gondola.

Below.  The foot of the Southern Alps.  Taken from Mt Cook Village.  I went an hour long walk.

Below: the famous church at the edge of Lake Tekapo

Such beautiful blue water in Lake Tekapo.  This picture still doesnt do the colour justice.
Below:  Guess who?  Okay, it's me!  The statue is a famous sheepdog that represents the hardworking sheepdogs in McKenzie Country (Canterbury)

Below:  Mt Cook, tallest mountain in New Zealand.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Swimming in the South Island

Hi there
My computer is still not allowing me to get into the web so, again, I am one-fingering this entry on my Kindle Fire.  I'll have to call in a guy.  When I rang my service provider, I couldn't understand a word the help desk guy was saying -he was speaking computer-eese.

I got fine weather every day on My Big South Island Road Trip.  It only rained at night.  And talking about wetness (notice my clever segue there...?),  wherever I went swimming on my holiday the water was really really cold!

I swam in the sea at the Abel Tasman National Park (cold, but not too cold), Cleopatra's Pool (colder) Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown (so very cold), Lake Tekapo (freezing, it's a glacier-fed lake).

At all places, I obeyed the 2-minute swimming rule which decrees that after you  jump in, don't scream at the cold followed instantly by running  out of the water.  University boffins have decreed that it takes two minutes for your body to acclimatise.  So, in the really cold lakes, I managed about ten minutes. And, I'm telling you, my four readers, it was ... hell!!!

By contrast, when I got back to Hataitai Beach, it was like swimming in a warm bath.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Home Again!

Hi there

I got back home yesterday afternoon.  What a tiring time.  Driving my hire car through so many lonely twisty gorges  and passes...  From Queenstown to Lake Tekapo I hardly saw another car.  I had been so scared that I would meet up with a tired international tourist driving on the wrong side of the road.

 There were terrible bush fires in Christchurch and I had to pass near them.  So sad for the people living in the vicinity.

 For four days, i was so scared about being in a strange car and having to be alert every second.  But the car seats were so gorgeously comfortable, I wanted to buy a new car, same model, the minute I got home.
At home, I discovered that I can't access the net on my main computer, I cant fill my blog with witty anecdotes or fantastic photos (not that I know how to tell witty anecdotes and most of the photos I take are hopeless).

So, here I am, one-fingering on my Kindle Fire. Sorry.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Hi there

Well, I've reached Lake Tekapo in My Great South Island Road Trip.  See above.

Yesterday, I spent time at Mt Cook/Aorangi.  I had been intending to go on a nice long Sound of Music sort of wander among the mountains but when I got up close to them, when I was actually standing with my feet planted solidly on the bottom of the Southern Alps mountain range, and looked upward, I decided against it.  Those mountains were just so darn big, tall, ferocious, scary!  So easy to get lost.

So, I went on a nice little hour's walk on a well-used track next to the Hermitage Hotel instead.  Wuss!

I had a nice buffet lunch at the hotel with the most magnificent view of snow-capped Mt Cook/Aorangi (N Z's highest mountain).  The drive off the main highway to get to Mt Cook Village is supposed to take about 40 minutes but with everybody (including me) stopping every 500 or so metres to take photos, it takes longer.  The best view, of course,  is close-up at Mt Cook Village.

I had a lovely swim in Lake Tekapo yesterday.  I cant get over the gorgeous blue colour of the water.

Above: the first From-a-distance shot of Mt Cook/Aorangi.  I couldn't see my Kindle Fire screen because of sun so I could only point and hope!  I wish I hadn't forgotten my camera...

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Hi there

I've reached Queenstown on My Great South Island Road Trip.  I am sitting in a (Mc)Cafe and I have just finished two (two!!) Large caramel sundaes.  I am so tired and hot that I just wanted to jump into the sundaes.  I have walked along the Queenstown-Frankton track in 26c heat.  It was terrible walking the last ten minutes up a hill road - I was at the end of my tether, thirsty, grumpy, hot, worn out.

Talking about cafes, do my four readers remember when we used to get great ice cream sundaes?  Like a peach Melba or a Banana Split?  They seemed to have disappeared.  Take up too much time to make, I guess. In Las Vegas, at Gordon Ramsay's pub I had a knickerbocker glory.   I've never ever seen one in New Zealand.

View from my Queenstown rented holiday home:

Above: taken on the Queenstown-Frankton track.  That's the Hilton Hotel far right.  It's hard to take pictures with my Kindle Fire when, because of the sun, I cant see the screen.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Abel Tasman National Park

Hi there

I've just been a week down the Abel Tasman National Park, at the top of the South Island.  I swam and hiked every day.

About an hour out of Torrent Bay, where I had rented a holiday house, and hiking through beautiful bushland, one comes across Cleopatra's Pool.  It's a pool at the bottom of a little waterfall and there is a natural slide down through the waterfall and into the pool.  However, for a couple of minutes, there are loads of boulders to scramble over to get to the pool.  I managed getting to the pool okay but leaving it, I slipped and smashed my hand  against a boulder.  I sprained my thumb.  Within seconds my thumb and the pillow underneath it were ultra-swollen.  And oh-so painful.  Still, no sprained thumb was going to get me down.

Within one hour of my leaving to hike back to Torrent Bay where I was staying, a helicopter had winched up an injured hiker who hadnt been successful clambering over the rocks.  Apparently there are several injuries every few weeks.   I realise now that I should have plodded through the puddles and streams, and little rock pools, rather than trying to emulate a mountain goat, leaping over the boulders.

I love Anchorage Bay and Bark Bay.  I hiked every day to various places.  There are loads of tourists walking the track.  Some catch a boat from Kaiteriteri and just walk for a day, or just a few hours.  Others hike for a week.

Here's a bush track.
 Here's low tide, Torrent Bay
 Here's Kaiteriteri, the jumping off place for catching a sight-seeing boat around Abel Tasman National Park.
I only took my phone with me so the photos arent that great, sorry.

Now I'm offf to complete the rest of My Great South Island Road Trip.....

Monday, January 23, 2017

My big South Island Road Trip

Hi there

My friend and her husband have arrived from Auckland to house-sit whilst I am away on My Big South Island Road Trip.  She intends to be out gallivanting every day soaking up the cultural delights of Wellington.  He says he's going to blob out in front of the tv eating scorched almonds and napping!  And me?  I will be stressing out from Nelson through to the Abel Tasman National Park through to Queenstown, then Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo, and ending up in  Christchurch.

Tomorrow, I'm off on my jaunt, so you probably won't hear from me for about two and a half weeks though I may find a stray computer somewhere on which I can write my blog.  I'm not taking my tablet with me, I want to enjoy being "off the grid".

Wish me luck on those South Island roads...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weta Cave

Hi there

Weta Cave/Workshop in Miramar, Wellington has had a facelift.  Now, the visitor walks through a Hobbit hole entrance.   I often  power walk past the building and there seems to be more and more  visitors by the day.  Buses, cars, tourists....  Such a busy little empire.

I have read some reviews of the Weta Cave where the reviewer is totally upset.  I have a feeling some people expect Weta to be like a Universal Studios Theme Park.  The cave is a shop selling Weta film models and stuff, there's a little movie detailing Weta successes,  and a year ago a Workshop tour started up..

Bus No 2 from the city will drop a visitor off prettymuch near the workshop. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

JELLYFISH, sigh...

Hi there

The last few days there have been loads of jellyfish in the water at Hataitai Beach.  Big spotted jellyfish, many with long loose streamer tendrils and orange crab-like 'legs'.  The body so much bigger than a dinner plate.

I took a tiny little dip or two in the water  (it was sooooo hot), swimming amongst them, and keeping a wary eye out.  But as I  got to see more and more jellyfish swirling around me, I gave up and exited (fast) for the shore.

There was one persistent jellyfish that appeared to change direction and make a diagonal drift towards me. Huh?  How embarrassing to be 'chased' out of the water by a jellyfish!  I read today that the movement by a swimmer somehow notifies a jellyfish's senses and they can end up moving in the swimmer's direction.

I don't know if I will go to the beach for the next few days.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cashless Society

Hi there

Yesterday, in a shop, I  paid for a purchase with real honest-to-goodness money.  I handed over a $20 bill.   A guy, leaning on the counter and chatting to the assistant loudly announced, "I didn't think there was anybody left in the world who paid cash."

This wounded me, especially after reading an article just the day before that stated if one is saving up, that cash is the way to go.  I am, of course, saving up for My Big South Island Road Trip.

But aside from the saving-up angle, I felt this guy, this stranger, had no right to comment on my behaviour. I could have retaliated by saying he had a big nose (he didn't), or snootily declare that i could afford to pay cash. But I didn't say anything.  I walked out of the shop.

I suppose he upset me because maybe ... perhaps ... he was right, insinuating I was a dinosaur in this almost cashless society that we live in?   I'll have to give this subject a great deal of thinking ..

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy New Year!!

Hi there

There's that song that I saw once done brilliantly in the stage musical "Side by Side by Sondheim", the one with the title, " I'm Still Here" ..

So, 2016 is done and dusted.  And I did make it.  And I'm still here.  Lots of my heroes from the nineteen fifties, sixties and seventies didn't make it though.  It reminds me just what a minefield life is to negotiate.

My swiming friend J and I have a swimming rule (well, we have many swimming rules) that tells us that come what may, storms, snow, earthquakes, tsunamis (well, maybe not tsunamis) we have to swim on New Year's Day.

It was an awful weather morning.  Rain, cold, mist.  Still, The Young One, J, and myself, we did it!    Let's hope we can manage the rest of the year as easily.

New Year's Day, Hataitai Beach: