Thursday, 29 November 2012


My dress flew up on the street this morning and exposed a good deal of my cheeks and knickers.  I tried really hard to be cool about it but went bright pink and scurried along Victoria Street trying to escape what I imagined were all the sniggers/stares. 

I really, really hope all the people at the bus stop outside Sky City casino enjoyed themselves at my expense.

Monday, 26 November 2012


I found myself ironing that dress last night thinking “WHO AM I?  I DON’T EVEN KNOW ME ANYMORE!”  Once upon a time I would have bought synthetic, non-crumply fabrics (mostly because they were affordable (+ sparkly) but crucially because they didn’t require ironing) and laundry be DAMNED.  Consider this an exponential curve on the Hopeless A: Grown-Up vs Time graph.

Hoo-boy, I am back on the coffee bandwagon.  I am drinking macchiatos like I’m Tom Hanks on a desert island but instead of water and a volleyball, all I have to cling to is my black gold and possibly a slice of ginger crunch.  Found a lovely cafĂ© near work that makes an excellent brew, but I’m not sure they appreciate the foam-y part of a short macchiato – I say “Macchiato to go, please” and they (consistently!) say, “OK, long black”.  I think it’s going to become a battle of the wills but I will keep returning, if only for the tiny piece of dark choc santĂ© bar that comes with each cup.  I need to buy a reusable cup to keep up my hippy/hipster cred.  Must save the world, one plastic lid at a time (having a much harder time coming around to the idea of switching out my lovely halogen lights for reusable bulbs…I look SO. MUCH. BETTER. under soft lighting conditions.  Is vanity part of the hippy ethos?  I think not, sadly).

Keep your happy, shining faces scrunched up with your eyes closed and fingers crossed for me.  It’s not me exactly, but send out some wonderful *good treatment* vibes my way for a relation. 

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I think you should know that my husband is hard at work acquiring a side part.
Mum’s moo-babies are mostly better.  The mostly part being those that didn’t make it, including one of her orphans, sadly.  Still, there’s one orphan left who is now 8 weeks and out of danger.  The rest of the mob are happily munching grass and emitting gassy fumes. 

We were reminiscing about childhood bad behaviour last night.  Which is worse – painting a giant black Newfoundland dog white, or stringing up a length of Hubba Bubba across the hallway to clothesline unsuspecting family members?  Foot through the wall or stegosaurus?  (I have so many of these it gets embarrassing; no seriously). 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

flaking skin is a good sign?

My lips are burnt because……dun dun duuuuuuuuun….. I saw some sun this weekend!  Miracles never cease, we may have a summer yet here in NZ! 

P and I packed our (10kg or less and within the applicable dimensions) bag on Saturday morning and Jetstarred off to Queenstown for the weekend.  All the NZ-resident Kiwis we’ve talked to have bitched and moaned about Jetstar, but apart from the dire lack of leg room, we didn’t have any incidents.  Unless you count the squalling ginger toddler on the way back, that is.  Hardly Jetstar’s fault, nor the baby’s for that matter; either the squalling on descent or the gingerness. 

This was a flying visit for an old friend’s 30th.  He had arranged a time-share situation with a fab deck overlooking Lake Wakatipu so we had a few bevvies on the deck and enjoyed the sunshine massively.  My face is a bit pink, despite the liberal application of sunscreen.  I had forgotten exactly how violent the sun is in NZ – once or even twice a day applications of sun protection is not enough on a bright day.  We rode the gondola and saw some fantastic views, celebrated excessively when we discovered the DSLR has recovered from India (the display is now working again…we took two weeks’ worth of photos in India with no VDU following some splashy times at the Agra Fort, but now it’s magically sorted itself out – YUSSSS – because the warranty is British and they weren’t going to honour it here, the assholes), ate merino lamb and smacked our (burnt) lips, all v nice.  I had a bit of a mozzer on Saturday night when the tiredness of the week caught up with me and I basically bailed just after 11 when the others were just warming up for a good time, so I looked like a prize party pooper. 

Also *sigh* - we’re in the middle of sorting out what’s happening at Christmas.  Does anyone else find this quite stressful?  P and I have spent the last three Xmases with his mum and various others (both family and friends), given that the three of us were living in the same hemisphere, far away from the rest of the whanau.  This year, we’re torn between three sets of family and it seems to me that we’re building up for what will likely be a long day.  Basically, I figure I’ll survive by just having another drink.  I started laying in supplies of bubbly stuff at the supermarket yesterday, having predicted the need.  Spoke to my mother yesterday and confirmed we would likely see her Boxing Day; she took it very gracefully so now I owe her a pretty decent prez.  Ideas for mothers who like farms and tennis and gardens, anyone?  Maybe some more paeony plants? 

Well, that’s my newsy little update for you all.  Bit like a Christmas letter really; the writer enjoys putting it together and the recipients could probably care less.  Very tempted to post a family picture featuring seasonal sweaters and an update that reads something like:

“Dear Family and Friends,

“Well it was a wonderful year in the A & P household!  A few highlights of the year:

-       January: We started the year with a disappointing return to work and never saw the light of day in London because of the rubbish winter sunlight hours.  Seasonal Affective Disorder FTW!

-       February: We got MARRIED!  Here are 50 bazillion photos of the Big Day for you to peruse. 

-       March: Went back to work and sulked; decided to quit and return to NZ on flimsy basis of “it means we can have a nice holiday on the way back”

-       April – May: planned said holiday on work time, in between fits of sulking about rubbish Spring weather in London.  Got really boozed in Bordeaux, ate stuff in Amsterdam etc, etc.

-       June: Started our Big Trip!  Here are 50 bazillion photos from the first part.

-       July-August: More Big Trip!  Look at some more photos you suckers!  Mostly unedited and seriously repetitive because one photo of the Blue Mosque is simply not enough!

-       September: We arrived back in NZ and promptly remembered about this Nation’s serious lack of proper insulation!  Got chilblains immediately, bitched about losing our tans and attempted to recover from bowels of death!  Started work in our new jobs.

-       October/November: Whinged at one another regarding how HARD full time employment is.  Continued oversharing about our bowel problems.

-       December: Began resenting our beloved families who we moved back to NZ to be closer to because they care about us and would like to spend Xmas with us.  Aren’t we just peachy?

“Isn’t that lovely?  In summary: we travelled, we drank, we wed and, most of all, we poohed.

“All our love, A & P”

A bit early for that sort of palaver; I must be getting my Xmas spirit(s) on. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

a sunday drive in spain

[Scene: rental car, B road, somewhere on the Costa Brava.]

A: Did you see that lady waiting for a bus?  Kinda weird to have a bus stop all the way out here.
P: And very organised to have a plastic chair to wait on. 
A: Yeah. 

…[drive further few kilometres]

A: The bus must not be far behind us, there’s another lady waiting.  Weird there’s no actual bus shelter or anything. 
P: A, have you noticed how the ladies are dressed?
A: No.  Why?
P: Keep your eyes open.

…[few more ks]

A: Lots of truck traffic on this road.  Why don’t they just take the A roads?  They’re way faster. 
P: I imagine they’re saving on tolls.  And…
A: What?
P: Nothing.

…[couple more ks]

A: Wow, she’s really going to town with the leg warmers.  And those are some short shorts.
P: And some extremely serious stilettos.
A: Do you think they’re waiting for the bus?  What do you think they’re waiting for?
P: Are you stupid?  Or just oblivious?
A: What?  WHAT?
P: They’re hookers.  Ladies of the night.  Ladies of the daytime.  Highwaywomen. 
A: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. 

[Ladies on the roadside start appearing thick and fast, each one with her own turn-off staked out].

A: Where’d’ya think they do it?
P: Jesus A, I don’t know. 
A: They don’t have tents.  Must have to be in the cabs with the truckers, aye?  OOOOOOh look, is that a pimp parked in the bushes behind her?
P: [Shakes head].
[End scene]. 

Fascinating stuff, I tell you.  Barcelona and the Costa Brava were lovely as well as interesting.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

my body is a traitor


Just after publishing that last post, I scrolled my eye down the screen and landed on the post about fighting with my husband....exactly a week ago....and I have just posted all about TAMPONS.


I guess this means I owe P a proper apology...

always stuff your handbags full of toiletries

Wearing a white dress to a charity ball was always going to be a stupid idea.  You know, it wasn’t floor length or anything so it’s not like I picked up a whole lot of grime from the floor (I looked like I should be at the races 'cos I was wearing a knee length white dress, but stuff ‘em, I didn’t have a ball gown and shopping for that crap when you have hams for arms is not conducive to good mental health).  I managed to avoid major stains but I spent all night sweating the effing dress but yet still choosing to drink red wine, eat dishes with red jus etc.  There was a HUGE other potential stain issue – my body has been fairly reliable about Wednesday midday once every 28 days for a long time.  So I didn’t think to prepare myself on Tuesday night, when selecting the limited number of items to go in my clutch (cellphone, keys, lippy, blah blah).  That wee danger had me running to the lavs to spin around in front of the full length mirror about once every half hour and, you know, *improvise* with the resources to hand.  I came home unblemished but it was a very stressful evening, I must say.  I am now in favour of installing emergency tampons next to every emergency fire alarm just in case.  It’s a situation in which no woman should ever have to find herself. 
So, yes, charity ball.  I’ve never been part of a silent auction before; though I think it was actually more of a whisper-y auction as the top bids on each item were being projected onto a screen for all to read, which made me properly competitive.  I was all “who, ME?” and fluttery when I realised I’d won the wine glasses and that the money was going to the children (somebody has to think of the children, you know).  I will no doubt feel smug every time I slurp out of one of my winning glasses. 
Despite all the thinking of the children which was good, I did find the whole set-up a little unsettling.  Having recently budgeted a wedding, I started calculating the cost of the ball itself and comparing that with the money raised on the night, fairly unfavourably.  Even adding in the price of the table to the charity profit calculation, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like the ball involved an unnecessary amount of expenditure.  I could be totally wrong; the venue might have donated its services, or possibly the caterers etc – in fact, I really hope that’s the case.  I just found it a little distasteful that in order to get me to open my wallet, it was necessary to wine and dine me in such splendour.  Obviously, there is an incredibly layered discussion to be had here and I am basically only skimming the surface with some half-baked thinking, but there it is.  And you’re right, I attended and ate and drank and donated, which I might not have otherwise done (being honest about it). 
In other slightly related news, this round of Christmas palaver is getting obscene.  I am out attending some event every night this week which is not a brag, it’s a hate situation.  I am getting pretty sick of small talk and I’m hopeless at working a room.  Other people are just so…intimidating, I think.  To be fair, some of the events this week are personal and not schmoozy but my friends will likely not be experiencing the best of my sparkling wit and natural vivacity , as I’m fresh out of interesting anecdotes and natural smiles.  What, you’ve noticed?!

Thursday, 15 November 2012


That last post was awfulness incarnate, no?  In today’s upbeat and hippy-sparkly-good-times post, let’s be smug about public transport!


That, my friends, is a freaking miracle.  Oh don’t worry, by no means have we been car-free:

  • We have had minor lapses involving a rental car for a week (apartment hunting);
  • We had a courtesy car for a week while we moved (we thought we bought a car but it was a total puppy, had the courtesy car while the dealer *tried* to fix it); and
  • We borrowed a car for a wedding and a visit to the burbs.
But generally the only spanner in the works has been my sister K living out in buttfuck nowhere (i.e. the south eastern suburbs) and my extended whanau living even further south.  We are still actively avoiding the car hunt at present, trying on Auckland’s public transport for size.

Now, you might say: “But A, many many people live in urban centres and rely exclusively on public transport.  In fact, that’s how you got around for the last three and a half years”.  Why yes, dear reader, that is in fact the case.  But if you have a passing acquaintance with Auckland, you will be familiar with the following list of unresearched, unreferenced ‘facts’:

  1. Auckland’s public transport network sucks.
  2. Because of our home-ownership fetish, Auckland has a fairly low population density over a broad area.  It is also geographically odd, being an isthmus of land between two harbours and hence is difficult to get around.
  3. Kiwis are notoriously tight and massively resent expenditure on infrastructure.
  4. We think that we’re all clean and green and what not anyway so what does a few k’s on the odometer matter?*
All of the above generally = need for a car.  Total chicken and egg sitch, I realise that.  If we had fewer cars and used public transport more, there would be a greater govt spend on public transport.  So P and I are currently doing our part.  This consists of taking the bus when we go to see his family and didn’t want to drink drive anyway.  I KNOW.  We’re so SELFLESS. 

PLUS we cannot agree on the right fucking car to buy.  I am tight (see point 3 above) so the budget is not all P dreamed it would be.  Also, I refuse to drive anything that makes me look like a moron and P look like a douchebag.  (I hate that insult but in this context it just seems so…right).  I consider anything with dumb-ass spoilers over 30 centimetres high to be douchebaggy so I don’t think I’ve been too demanding but P has a veritable blindspot when it comes to boy-racer vehicles.  But honestly, when have you ever seen a 30 year old white woman in a 2 door car with a spoiler and a growly engine and thought “SHE’S SO COOL” or even just not thought “SHE’S A DICKWAD”?  Riddle me this, readers.
Apparently it is also lame that I’ve cut out convertibles (MY HAIR people, MY HAIR).  And that I don’t want anything vintage (it’s all very well for hipsters but I’m not driving anything that might fall apart on me.  I still can’t change a tyre ffs, not for want of teaching by my parents either.  NOT a feminist issue let me be clear, more of a hopeless issue).  So we'll remain vehicle-less for a while longer, I predict. 

*I totally cannot be smug about carbon footprints this year though (*ahem* 30 something flights in 2012….). 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

guest post by debbie downer, my alter ego

I have definitely moved to the wrong climate; at the hairdressers’ last night, my stylist basically told me there’s no hope of having less-than-enormous hair that isn’t coated in frizz in Auckland.  I am sentenced to a lifetime of bad hair living here.  It’s JUST NOT FAIR.  (First world problems blah blah stick it in your cakehole I want good hair and I want to moan and that’s all there is to it).  So I went home, f’d up dinner (vile carbonara that was eggy disgusting) and fought with my husband.  

OK, so I had a moody bad day yesterday and it was not the hair that really set me off.  We’ve had bad news about a family friend that made me horribly sad and I’d had a mentally taxing day at work (not horrendously busy or anything, just working on a piece that required serious thought, research and composition).  So it’s a bit WOE WOE WOE here at the moment.  Usually I can write my way out of a slump, sniggering at my own misfortunes (lack thereof, really) but today when I woke up (thanks early-rising-to-pee-and-flush-neighbour!) P and I still weren’t really speaking.  Which is not good.    

When I say weren’t really speaking, I mean we were being ridiculously passive aggressive.  First out of bed, I made the standard morning cup of tea and practically thumped it down on his bedside table (classic martyr behaviour).  He thanked me as curtly as it is possible to thank a person.  I was leaving early, so the bathroom routine was out of whack and we ended up in there at the same time.  I had blow dried the mirror to get rid of steam on my side only; he smeared his towel all over his side (I hope to the baby jeebus that he didn’t do that on purpose; I HATE IT because it leaves smeary marks all over the mirror, ffs, and you KNOW who the mirror cleaner in this house is).  I excuse me’d my way past him to get into the makeup drawer and thanked him for moving in a way that put his earlier thank you to shame (so sharp he may as well have shaved with it).  I said bye as I walked in his general direction hoping for a hug, but he was walking the other way, so I turned and walked out.  I caught the edge of his turn back to give me a LOOK.  You know the kind, by turns sad/mad/disappointed in your behaviour.  BUT mother of god I was not buying into that bullshit and having an all-out barney before I started my day.  Just a war of demeanour and actions. 

I was unnecessarily sharp last night when he exhaled like my request was the end of the world.  He was grumpy because of work and other things.  We were generally being dicks BUT THIS IS SHIT and we are just not settling into our new life here, it feels like.  Also, I didn’t feel like apologising which is a fucking stupid thing to feel like but there we have it.  I love my husband and I hate fighting with him and, generally, we very rarely fight.  If you’re reading this and you know P and I, (a) don’t worry.  The wheels aren’t coming off, I’m just pissed, (b) say any of this to P and I’ll kill you, and (c) write this off on the basis of my hormones and I’ll kill you DEAD.  Just an adjustment phase, I guess.

Gah, I’m blowing this out of proportion.  You can’t accuse me of presenting a rosy picture of the awesomeness of my life.  Like I said, I’d normally find a way to blow this off as a funny (aren’t we stupid!?!) but I can’t get in the zone.    Vented, now I can go be a reasonable person and make it up.
When do I get grown up enough to start behaving like an adult? 

UPDATE: Apologised...via email....with a lolcat - does that even count as an apology??? Lucky my, ahem, magnanimous gesture was accepted as the olive branch.  So there's your moral.  If you can't say it, let a badly captioned kitteh say it for you. Um.  Well.  Yes.  And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, 12 November 2012

home ownership seems like a rort

Most weekends, I’ve been picking up the Property Press and pawing over pages of real estate in desirable neighbourhoods.  It’s the most hopeless “research” ever:

  1. I don't have a decent deposit together yet (see: Big Trip of 2012).
  2. Nothing in the Press is priced anyway.
  3. Everything in the Press is likely over a million dollars.
  4. See (1) again.
The Property Press is more like far-fetched real estate porn.  I could NEVER afford that sort of tool-based reno carry-on!  Oh LOOK baby, it’s got wooden JOINERY, ooo la la!  Don’t you just want to run your fingers gently over the 100% wool carpeting?  The his’n’hers bathroom sinks get me all STEAMED (except they don’t!  I’ve never understood the ‘one bathroom, two sinks’ phenomenon.  Just one more sink to wipe crusty toothpaste off and get remnants of either whiskers or foundation all over).  I could get so Fifty Shades of Linoleum all up in here.  I think I’m a frustrated BDSM and power tools writer, or somesuch. 

It’s actually pretty frustrating.  I mean, there’s absolutely no assistance to price a bedsit in Manurewa, work out the RRP of a mostly derelict villa in Westmere or drop your jaw at the cost of a Remuera mansion.  CV is a joke here – if it’s even mentioned in the ad, which is rare, you’re looking at a large increase on that in the sale value. 

But, being me, I am always looking for the Next Big Thing.*  Previously, it was the Big Trip and move back to the Mothership, Aotearoa.  Prior to that, the wedding.  Prior to that, it was the move to London.  New York.  Career.  Etc.  It’s not that I’m in a hurry to work my way through “the steps”, it’s more that I like to have a project to look forward to but am horrendously impatient (sometimes I meet people who I swear are on a treadmill of “because that’s what’s next” and I worry that’s me, too).  We had vaguely decided that we should be working our way towards home ownership once we arrived back in NZ, amongst other things because I multitask like a mofo, of course.  So you can imagine my extreme disappointment when we hadn’t bought and renovated the exact house I want in the exact location I’d like within three weeks.  REASONABLE, no?  But with some gentle cajoling from P (“what the f is wrong with you?”), I have backed away from my turgid dreams of Having It All Right Here, Right Now.  I am learning to accept that it makes sense for us to scrape at least 20% together and look for something in a more expensive bracket (thereby requiring more time and saving). 

A friend of mine has recently purchased a home of her own and she’s scared the bejeebers out of me too, what with the scary-auction stories, people bidding well over CV and using dirty open home tactics to discourage other buyers.   Mind you, I can kind of see myself being awful and aggressive awfulness at an auction.  Side eye, huffy sniffs, waving of the auction baton thingo.  Yep, could totally buy into that behaviour, sadly. 

But it doesn’t stop my home ownership dreams totally.  At 5am when my lovely neighbour flushes the loo and runs the shower that I can hear as clear as day from my bed I’m still thinking that home ownership is the holy grail. 
*I would love love love a dog or a cat too as a Next Big Thing.  There’s nothing officially stopping me now, I guess (apart from the Body Corp rules), but I’ve made a promise that until I can give a pet the lifestyle they deserve, I can’t commit.  Lifestyle includes a decent backyard if P and I continue working long hours.  So I guess home ownership/pet motherhood go hand-in-hand-ish.  Would you look at that, somehow I'm more serious about getting a pet than I am about keeping a husband properly.  PRIORITIES. 

it shouldn't wobble for that long after you push it

I am a domestic goddess and don’t you ever let my mother tell you otherwise.

Yesterday, in a fit of gym-avoidance, I tackled some outstanding chores.  This is fascinating stuff but I am still basking in the afterglow of martyrdom so you’re going to have to excuse me.  Most of the bathroom was cleaned (shower grouting be damned!  Hate hate HATE), visible bits of the floor were vacuumed, bedding, towels and clothes were washed, the gas hobs were scrubbed, shirts were ironed, surfaces were dusted and pictures were hung.*  I cooked the best damn roast I think I’ve ever produced, thankyouverymuch.  All while P was out playing golf (also yesterday?  I worked out how to bend the space time continuum so that we regressed to the 1950s, apparently).  I felt terribly smug about it all (can you tell?) and I’m now crowing about it to anyone who will listen.  You’d think I’d be embarrassed to admit that I don’t do this every week, wouldn’t you?  I treated myself to a wee rose wine as a reward for being so wonderful and that turned into three so I felt SPECIALLY good by the time we did the dishes. 

Also on the agenda for last weekend: a meal out on Friday night and a wedding Saturday.  Dinner was disappointing, sadly.  Fabulous company (thanks P), but too expensive and it appears I’m well over this degustation business.  I inevitably end up feeling sick and it takes far, far too long.  There was an outstanding dessert involved in the meal I must say, but generally, while the food was nice, it wasn’t as outstanding as we thought it would/should be. I won’t link to the restaurant because I like to celebrate success, rather than bash local business.  I mean, tell your friends if you enjoyed something, right? 

The wedding was lovely - aren’t they always?  I thought the groom was going to keel over as his bride walked down the aisle which was massively entertaining/heart warming.  I try to act all cynical and what-not but I love attending celebrations (except perhaps for children’s bday parties, because I ALWAYS come away feeling ill yet hyperactive and wishing I’d ingested a little less food colouring.  Yes, it still has the same effect on me as it does on a three year old.  You should see me after coffee). 

Net weekend result: housewifery, parties and dinners do not give a girl the skinnies.  I’m trying busy to get skinny again today after a weekend of abject skinny-failure but it’s so damn hard when there is leftover roast beef sitting in your fridge.  I WILL head to the gym this evening to assuage the guilt.  I would dearly, dearly love to be properly skinny but I am having to come to the conclusion that I enjoy consuming tasty treats too much to ever get there properly.  Last night Notting Hill was the Sunday Night Feature that played in the background for a while before I went to bed.  (Side note: one of the Greatest Rom-Coms of Our Time, right up there with You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle).  I tuned into the scene where Hugh Grant has taken Julia Roberts to a dinner at his friends’ house (Bernie = Lord Grantham!) and they compete for the last brownie with the biggest sob-story.  Part of Julia’s pity party is that she’s been on a diet since she was 19, which basically means she’s been hungry for a decade.  I sighed: is that really what it takes?  If so, I know which side of squidgy I’m going to keep landing on.  You shouldn’t need to be hungry, but then, I do eat at times when I’m not hungry for the sheer pleasure of it so I’m really my own worst enemy.

This is not to say that I’m particularly overweight – for what it’s worth, I’m within the “healthy range” (albeit towards the upper end).  But I’d like to look better in something heinously skintight that a Kardashian would wear, you know?  I want them judging me for a whole OTHER set of reasons.    Lesson to be taken I guess: eat/drink less, get off chuff more often.  GENIUS, aren’t I?!

Oh, and also, please send some sparkly-hippy-good-karma-vibes to my mother, who is managing a viral crisis amongst the newborn calves on the farm.  She’s wearing herself out trying to make sure that the babies who can’t drink from their mummies are being tube fed and that they’re not infecting too many others.  It has still managed to pass between mobs of cattle and despite her tender loving care there have been a few deaths, which she takes very personally.  That’s much more important stuff than my waistline whinges – do I really believe in the power of positive thoughts from others?  Yeah, I think I do.  So it would be good, ta. 

*Opinions on the Oxford comma?

Friday, 9 November 2012


Ten days of the Big Trip of 2012 were spent in Greece.  I really dig Greece and I could have stayed much, much longer.  We hit the fairly standard track – Athens, followed by the Cyclades – next time I would really like to see the Peloponnese and perhaps some of the more northerly islands.

Sure, Athens is grubby, polluted and parts of it have people with all-too-obvious needle tracks.  However, it’s also full of interesting, character-filled and often charming people.  P and I stayed a budget hotel in Plaka which had some fab graffiti outside about the position of PM being open – you just need to pass an interview with Angela Merkel first and accept a zero sum salary.  Plaka and the flea markets were full of tat but that was key for me in the end, as my jandals had died.  I had been relying on a pair of sandals post-flip-flop-funeral that had absolutely no grip whatsoever and on Athens’ marble footpaths I was screwed.  The stand-out factor though was the location, right near the base of the Acropolis.  Mind you, if you asked P, it was the fact they sold big botts of beer for a euro at reception. 

My reading diet from about age 8 to 16 included a significant amount of classical mythology and history, in one form or another.  I originally intended to complete a second major in classical studies and took a variety of classics papers in my first year at university (this was before I fell down the rabbit hole of studying law – a story involving not knowing where to go to get course confirmation, meeting an awesome girl who did know and happened to be signing up for law and being embarrassed to say to a room full of potential doctors, dentists and lawyers that I was *just* studying for a BA.  Yeah, good reasons hey?).  I’m not ashamed to admit I also saw ‘300’.  Also, I studied in New Orleans for three weeks with a Greek guy who was a complete crack-up and who loved to drink and tell dirty jokes.  I figured that I’d get on fine in modern Greek culture too, if he was anything to go by.  Anyway, whatever the source, I had really high expectations for Greece and experiencing the ruins of classical Greek culture. 

So yeah, arriving at the Acropolis was a dream for me.  Despite the heat, the hordes of tourists, the cameras and “photo-ops”, I transported myself a few thousand years with absolute ease.  It was outstandingly beautiful.  The Acropolis museum was also amazing, enough detail without overkill and a collection of treasures that made my heart happy.  Fantastic.

My NOLA-Greek mate wasn’t in town, but he’d sent us a list of places to visit and I must heartily thank him for his recc of the rooftop bar at the A for Athens Hotel.  Sure, the drink prices were eyewateringly expensive, but it had an uninterrupted view of the sunset beside the Acropolis.  The Parthenon reflected the most beautiful colours as the sun sank. 
The Cyclades were full of sub-25 year old Australians looking to get shitfaced.  Who’d’ve thunk it?  The weather was amazing, the water warm, the scenery beautiful and the prices generally right: absolutely asking for an invasion of morons on their OE (including this girl, obv).  We avoided most of the really heinous sinkholes advertising “treats” like jam doughnut shots or cheesecake cocktails and enjoyed our time immensely.  Paros was fabulous – Dina’s Hotel was a steal on a mid-range budget and oh so beautiful in a white-washed, blue-appointed way.  Santorini was dramatic but completely over-touristed.  It was overt that a building boom had ceased some time ago – much like Ireland, empty, half completed dwellings were everywhere.  I’m truly grateful we didn’t bother with Mykonos or Ios – I know people say that they’re beautiful and I’m sure they are, but the fact of the matter is that people go there to get blind drunk and take pills and hook up.  F that.    


The Olympics were on when we were in Greece.  P and I spent several evenings watching the coverage in Greek on the big screen outside some beer-serving chip shop with big fans and a bunch of old dudes in Athens.  The old guys worked out we were Kiwis and got raucously supportive of our athletes when they made it on screen, clapping us on the back.  On one notable day, we watched several Kiwi rowers win gold while sweating in our underwear, the refrains of God Defend New Zealand in Maori drifting out our hotel window onto the street.  In Santorini I cried for Valerie Adams as she looked heartbroken in an interview after taking silver in the shotput – she said she’d felt like she’d let the nation down.  She could never do that, as long as she tried her best.  (Need I add subsequently the gold medallist was disqualified for drug use – but even had her win been legit, how could a silver possibly let anyone down?).  While we weren’t in Olympia, we visited the original Olympic stadium in Athens and had a blast pretending to throw discus.  We splashed in the ocean working on our synchronised swimming moves for way, way too long.  We were disappointed not to be in London using our tickets to see the rowers and equestrian team do NZ proud, but I think it was an excellent second best.