Wednesday, 31 October 2012

end of day

Auckland has the best sunsets.  I saw some lovely pastel sunsets in Europe, some hazy sunslides towards the sea in Asia, but I’ve always thought that an Auckland sunset was the most dramatic there is.  You don’t have to be on a mountain top or even beside the water to get a fiery glow in the sky.  Colours seem more vivid here, I think.  The picture above is one of the more muted sunsets we have had, but I love the palm silhouette. 

Nothing says 'you're home' like seeing a nikau palm outside a weatherboard villa. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

things of the weekend

After the faux-drama of the fiery prawns, I've not had much to say, have I?

In the spirit of useless theatre reviews, I went to see Death of a Salesman on Friday night.  It closed on Saturday, sorry!  So this really is a useless review, unless you count maundering on the themes valuable entertainment.*

P took me and poor old P, he hadn't realised that it was a dark sort of a play.  We found it massively relevant, hence incredibly depressing.  For me it was the theme of self-delusion that echoed as we walked home afterwards; in a pinterest/bloggy type world where many of us work hard at giving the impression of a life of value and substance, do we really achieve it?  Or are we merely full of hot air, deluding ourselves that we've built something fabulous and worthwhile, missing the real value of what's before us?  Actually that's pretty awful.  I'd rather not think on it too hard.

George Henare was beyond.  Actually, the entire ensemble were pretty amazing and I thought the whole production wonderful.  Now, isn't that insightful commentary? 


In other news, I ate brunch here.  Do it, if you're in Auckland.  Dutch pancakes are the business (I've written about them before...)

*This constant need to excuse and justify my writing is getting old.  So WHY can't I stop it?  I can't work out exactly what I'm trying to achieve by it (probably comes across as false criticism).  Eugh.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

weekend crisis or a prawn disaster

Saturday night really ramped up to unforeseen levels of excitement when we got a call saying the Fire Service had broken down our front door.

P and I were at the pub (where else?), enjoying the company of an old friend who we had not seen for some time.  We were sampling the beer-y offerings (tasty Hallertau, in case you care) of a very cool bar in Ponsonby (Golden Dawn - honestly, I found the bar much more appealing than I find it's website, so don't be too judgy), reminiscing about good times in NYC and generally enjoying ourselves.  You know, as you do on a Saturday evening when there's been a bit of sunshine and the rest of a long weekend stretches in front of you (hooray for Labour day!).*

And then our phones rang simultaneously.  P's mother was calling him; his sister calling me.  For whatever reason, our building manager had P's sister's landline number as the contact point for us and had called her in desperation - FIRE MEN ARE HERE.  THERE ARE ALARMS SOUNDING.  SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE.  My MIL is currently in residence at my SIL's place, as she is just this week back in NZ from Quite Far Away.  So they both hopped on their phones to impart this important news.

P threw the bar tab at our poor friend yelling "tell me later how much we owe" and completely forgetting it was his credit card behind the bar.  We raced out to a waiting taxi and I tried to do a "my house is on fire, step on it" bit which caused P to give me an absolutely withering look.  To be fair, we were less than 5 minutes' drive away and it sounded like, given the Fire Service were there, things were under control.

And so they were, sort of.  We dashed up to the apartment to find the Fire Service gone (no firemen for me, booooo!) and our front door mangled.  Somehow the lock was still intact, but the jamb was gone, as was the lock casing and a sizeable chunk of the plaster on the wall around the lock.  The door was seriously dented and there were wood and paint chips all over the entryway.  THANK THE BABY JEEBERS they had not damaged my new hallway table, put together with at least THIRTY WHOLE MINUTES of my blood, sweat and tears as part of what we like to call the 'Flatpack Furniture Debacle of 2012'.

BUT BUT BUT there was a ghastly smell oozing from the apartment.  As I ventured in, I found the source, which was also the source of the fire.  P, in his usually laudable chef-y mode, had decided to use the shells of the tasty prawns we'd had in a salad for lunch for making stock.  He'd put them in a pot, covered them with water and proceeded to forget entirely he'd put them on a slow simmer before we left for the pub.  I hadn't noticed, but nor had I actively looked - I'd assumed they were waiting for us to get home.  Those bad boys had simmered away and at one stage must have reduced to a tasty broth...which then boiled dry and burned, burned, burned.

Mercifully, the fire alarm had gone off before the flames could catch anything but the pot itself.  It was blackened, together with the splashback and surrounding elements.  But the whole apartment absolutely reeked of burnt prawn shell, which is a distinctive smell that I have never before had the opportunity to recognise.  It will be a long time before I'm able to sear the stench out of my nostrils.  We slept with doors and windows opened, boiled lemons on the stovetop and STILL I'm waking up in the night paranoid about a fiery exoskeletal invasion.

P was furious that our back window was fairly open, through which the Fire Service could have gained access.  Our building manager says she tried to stop them busting the door and use the window instead, but they were concerned that someone could be passed out inside, given the level of smoke.  Which, you know, fair enough!  I am grateful for them and their rapid response to an emergency - we could have been facing a total fire loss situation, not to mention the possibility of burning down other units in our apartment block.

Anyway, P's been in touch with the insurance company and, despite our cover, there's probably still a fairly hefty bill coming our way.  Just to get all Pollyanna on you, I've found a bright side but it's a horrible one.  It's simply that IT WASN'T ME who caused this.  P's been pretty hang dog (and also kind of offensively defensive towards me - granted, I demanded an apology...not my finest, most empathetic hour).  Poor old chook. 

No moral to this story, I guess, aside perhaps from 'Don't be Dumb Like Us and Leave Your Gas Hob on When Leaving the House for an Extended Beer Session, Or Any Reason, I Suppose'.  Now there's a slogan for fire safety. 

*What a horrendous sentence/paragraph/thing.  Sorry.

Friday, 19 October 2012

in which i post an earnest link to a discussion of happiness and try to avoid sarcasm


"Happiness should be serendipitous, a by-product of a life well lived, and pursuing it in a vacuum doesn’t really work." - Ruth Whippman in the NYT

Thursday, 18 October 2012

odd discoveries

Three odd discoveries from the Big Awesome Trip (as I like to call it, in a very Smug, Extremely Imaginative way):

Thing the First:

Is this not the nicest possible way of telling people not to touch the wall frescoes/paintings/heritage items ever?  Possibly also the most ineffective; while I definitely wanted to sustain some heritage and enjoy feeling glorious, many wonderful palaces in India are marred by thoughtless tourist fingers. I think the marketing may be a little too obtuse...

Thing the Second:


This discovery was made at approximately midnight.  What lead to it was a series of events much like this:

1pm: Arrive in small Irish town for lunch.  Drink large pint of Guinness.  Finish off P’s pint for him as he’s the driver for the day and it’s SELFLESS of you to help him out. 
5pm: Arrive in Sligo.  Text long-lost, never-met cousin about potential for a night out. 
5.05pm: Go to hotel bar to wait for response.  Order another Guinness.  Repeat.  And again. Etc.  P mixes it up with some straight up Jamesons. 
9pm: Get message from long-lost, never-met cousin that she’s working and can’t join us.  Realise we need dinner.
9.01pm: Realise hotel just stopped serving dinner.
9.02pm: Realise Guinness counts as a meal anyway.
10pm: Arrive in heart of Sligo at old-fashioned pub internet told P was good.  Join other 5 customers in a Guinness, while we all watch Crocodile Hunters on Discovery.
11pm: Get rejected from curry house that’s closing as we try to enter.
11.05pm: Discover excellent pub with live music, packed with people.  Order more Guinness and a wee packet of nuts to ‘tide us over’.
11.30pmish: A wee dram of Jameson’s for a night cap. 
Afterthatish: Visit pub bathroom, discover exactly how drunk I am by looking in a mirror.
Midnight-2amish?: Get back to hotel, discover vending machine.  P purchases Cadbury Dairy Milk choc bar, I purchase Taytos.
Immediately after purchase: OMG I am in LOVE.  THESE CHIPS/CRISPS/WHATEVERNAME FOR FRIED POTATO GOODS ARE THE BEST. THINGS. EVER.  SO GOOD.  Take picture of packet so you can remember how good.  Laugh at memory of P’s long-lost family calling spuds ‘taytos’ the night before.  Lick fingers.
9am: Wake to find Tayto packet in bed with you. 

Seriously, they are so good.  I ate them sober later just to check; they are just tasty, tasty, Irish chip-crack. 
Thing the Third:

I miss cut-price, discount, budget, piece-of-shit airlines.  In the above picture, Wizz Air had run out of beer and gin and vodka and tonic and OJ and pretty much anything anyone wanted to drink (it was a Friday night).  So they improvised a 2-for-1 deal so that you could at least get shitfaced drinking white rum.  Now that's going the extra mile.  It was completely vile, BTW.  But it was my 30th bday for cyring out loud...I was seriously into altering my body chemistry to feel good that day!  Boozaholic?*

*I promise my life is more than booze and chips...really I do!!  I found these odd pics on my phone and it set of a little reminisce-o'clock-session and I can't really mix these in with the serious things...they're coming, I kid you not!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


I'm cross again: see this article about Romney/Ryan and Roe v. Wade. Compare: Ryan and Biden.  Vaguely old and sadly unsurprising news but it bears repeating because I believe we have to THINK. THINK HARD. about all the issues.

And the debate continues in the UK.

And in NZ too.

One day I'll try to write coherently about all of this, but in the interim, I'm stewing on it.   

Monday, 15 October 2012

i digress, and then some

I ate my toast this morning watching a repeat of the Amazing Race.  That show is one of my all-time favourites, though I haven’t watched it in an age.  The stupid fights, the wonderful locations, the excellent/piss-takey descriptions of the competitors: these are all ingredients for a fab 45 minutes of television.  It had me wolfing down Vegemite on Vogel’s bread without even the usual glum recollection that the Marmite factory is STILL out of commission due to earthquake damage (Marmite FOR LIFE -  Vegemite is a poor imitation of the real black gold).  Anyway, the relevant point is that the contestants were scrambling from Morocco to Barcelona and I squealed loudly – we were just there three months ago!

Argh - and this is the spot  where I digress badly from Barcelona to Surgery because I'm horrendously distracted by real life.  K has just had two hours of reconstructive surgery on her knee and is feeling so sorry for herself that she actually (virtually) laughed at an incredibly lame joke I made via text message while she drowsed in recovery.  I thought she was probably still high off the anaesthetic, but she responded that she was more low than high - poor chook. 

I'll have some flowers either delivered to her or I'll take them myself - what else makes you feel better when you're miserable and laid up in bed?  I should load up my kindle and drop it to her as well, I suppose.  Some stew for her freezer perhaps?

There are a number of health crises in the family just at present - between K and P's family, we're on a bit of a hiding to nothing just now.  Which is why I gave them leave to laugh at my own miserable health predicament yesterday.  I went to the doctor for a standard visit and left half an hour later $75 lighter in the wallet having been given a SURPRISE smear test.  "Oh wait, aren't you due for one? Can you do it today?  Well, whip your pants off then" (to be fair, whip your pants off was my interpretation of a more polite sentence; amounted to the same thing really so I take leave to bastardize my doctor's words).  I KNOW, I KNOW cervical cancer is certainly not a joke and it's very important to be tested, but it's never FUN.  Especially when the doctor is heard to mutter "where is your cervix then?" after what seems an AGE already...I figured it was a rhetorical question and deigned not to answer.  I may have been a bit huffy about the whole thing.

A bit of an abortive attempt at a post today - stream of consciousness has interrupted and then somehow dammed itself completely (damned my writing, at the very least).  Well, you know more about my cervix now - I'm sharing more and more intimately with you on a daily basis...(please no! you say.  Fair enough, cervix will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Friday, 12 October 2012

grateful for my health, my family and my boobs

(Subtitle: Concerned About Prevailing Opinion on the Oxford Comma)

I collected for the New Zealand Breast Cancer foundation today.  Just for half an hour, but it's a cause that's close to my heart (and not just because my left ta-ta sits over it).  I, like many others, have known women with breast cancer.  It's tough.

Kia kaha, ladies.  You know who you are.


In other news, I am moving furniture tomorrow.  EUGH.  I have had about enough moving for the foreseeable future, thank you very much.  It's destroying my marriage and my sanity.

P and I are shuffling beds around, storing one at K's flat.  We have also purchased some flat pack furniture in another insane move, which needs to be picked up basically from the Waikato...well, East Tamaki anyway (sorry international types - FYI, Aucklanders poke fun at people from Hamilton in the Waikato as the centre of all provincialness.  To be fair, everyone outside Auckland hates Aucklanders, so what goes around etc.  OH THE SHAME to be sitting on the dividing line having had a *gulp* formative period of primary education on the fringes of admission not made lightly! I digress).

Anyway, tomorrow we have to do things that are likely to make us want to stab each other.  I plan on laying down a decent stock of beer first because god knows that will work as an effective distraction technique for the moment P first contemplates wife-icide (surely there's a word for that? like fratricide but only for wives? Too lazy for google today). 

And that is about it for my exciting weekend.  Oh wait, I need to clean the house for my MIL's arrival on Sunday.  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay for ME! I don't think she's too picky actually but 18 years of training in "what will people think?" at the hands of my mother still spins me into frantic "oh fuck we're having a visitor" motion. 

What a terribly boring catalogue of moans!  Gratuitous kitty photo instead:


And here are some gratuitous holiday snaps:
Speaking of being unbearably ancient, I failed my eye test at the drivers' licencing authority yesterday.  P thinks it's only fair cos, you know, I wear glasses and probably should while driving, but I found it HORRENDOUSLY depressing and think they ought to have a counsellor on site for such moments. Hymph.  This picture suits the marginally-blind-because-of-advanced-age mood:

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

me, again

Hello!  I’m back!

Well, when reading ‘back’, you should probably add ‘on the internet from the other side of the world’.  London is now a hazy dream – P and I are ensconced in a new flat in Auckland, beginning to be ensnared in the trappings of reality again.


The trip was fabulous.  Three months, 11 countries and all the food and drink you can shake a stick at.  I acquired a fabulous tan swanning around the Mediterranean; lost a fabulous tan dripping in cover-up cotton in monsoon rains in India.  I regained a happy, happy little paunch from the ingestion of tasty treats.  Honestly, the FOOD.  Thanks to Elizabeth David, an omelette and a glass of wine became the theme for Provence.  Well, more like an omelette followed by several glasses then a wee snooze or a walk…

I’ll return to the trip and its absolute gloriousness later.  Right now, I’m gazing out a new office window.  I no longer look at the Aldgate Roundabout with red buses swinging and tootling merrily away; I now have a large slice of sky and glorious, glorious Auckland Harbour peeking at me from between buildings.  Yes, I haz a job.  One that I think I will not whinge about in the same painful way that I did in London (ha! I hear you say.  Never say never – I’m a good wee whinger!).
I miss London something fierce, even though I don’t miss my former job.  I caught a snatch of Eastenders on television the other day and my tummy crumbled on hearing the accents.  I’m particularly homesick for Bermondsey and our lovely, lovely flat.  The wonderful restaurants and bars up the road, the farmers’ markets (plural.  PLURAL), the pubs (oh dear god I miss the pubs.  What I wouldn’t do for a delicious swill of local, autumnal ale in a dank corner right now).  I miss our friends.  I miss the buzz of the big city, the outstanding public transport (this, from the biggest bus-moaner of all time!), the sheer number of PEOPLE everywhere.

One of our first weekends back inTamaki Makaurau we went to a friend’s to watch the All Blacks play the Springboks (rugby – ubiquitous, 6-nights-a-week, all-too-kiwi rugby) and found ourselves in a cab rapidly flying through the city at about 10.30pm.  I felt nervous and edgy until P pointed out it was the feeling you get in a deserted space in a big city – ripe for a mugging, in other words.  But here, that’s normal.  1.5 million people who live spread out, generally in single family dwellings, do not mass on the street on a Saturday night.

However homesick I’ve been, I’m pretty happy here too.  I have many old friends back which is such a blessing, considering what a poor correspondent I was.  I have already been to visit my family (who live elsewhere in NZ) twice, which has been a pleasure, full of gumboots and horse and moving the cows and walking in the countryside.  My sister K lives in the city within half an hour’s drive.  Many of P’s family are here too – our nephews have been a delight.  The coffee.  THE COFFEE.  Brunch, the best meal of the day, is unbelievably good here.  I ache in a good way from rejoining my old gym and attempting to beat my body into submission.  My commute does not involve walking over Tower Bridge and revelling in history or the distinct seasonality of the Northern Hemisphere, but it does involve a whole lot more sky and trees, which is wonderful.  At 6pm, rush hour is over and you can dawdle home without being mistaken for a gawpy tourist. 

It’s bittersweet being back; I’m just so glad summer is rolling around here again.  You, there in London.  Drink a cosy pint for me and watch some leaves.  I’ll be thinking of you.