Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Goodbye to one of the dearest objects I own

I've been very fortunate to have travelled to a good many countries in my life (around 42 at last count).

For the last 10 years, this little blue number has been with me every step of the way. Together we've crossed borders and schlepped through airports; we've taken planes, trains, boats, tuk-tuks and cable cars. It's allowed its pages to be stamped by immigration officers in Japan, Paris, Dubai, Fiji and every point inbetween. Some stamps, like the gaudy Chinese one, almost swallow a whole page. Others are barely legible. There's my UK work visa (one page and 800 quid's worth), and the mysterious one I think may be Macau (but could just as easily be New Caledonia).

Sadly, though, our journeys together are now over because it expires in May, smack bang in the middle of our jaunt to San Francisco. So two weeks ago, I filled out endless paperwork, posed for possibly the ugliest passport photo in the history of womankind and took out a mortgage to pay for my new passport.

Since the courier missed me twice (yes, CourierPost, some of us do have jobs that necessitate being outside the home between 8.00am and 5.30pm), today I whizzed out of work to pick up this flash black electronic document. This one only has a five year shelf life which is probably a good thing, given I will want to burn my photo way before then.

Now I have to slap on a bright red 'cancelled' sticker and cut off one corner of my old passport. Goodbye old friend, after a hard but fulfilling life, you can finally be laid to rest...

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Tonight, I did the unheard of and hosted THREE rugrats (that is not a typo) who are hoping to get a dog of a similar breed to Bristol so wanted to make his acquaintance.

Despite my misgivings, it went swimmingly well and Bristol, of course, adored the fawning attention.

I do, however, have three questions:

1) Why do kids do that high pitch squealy thing? And with such regularity? Bristol and I are now both functionally deaf, as is my neighbour four doors down.

2)Why do kids ask so many questions? I have no idea how the jellyfish got into the glass dome on my coffee table and nor do I care. Please ask someone else.

3) Is it strictly necessary to touch every item in my house? We have a LOT of breakables, most of which have been carefully shipped 12,000 miles. I will, therefore, be extremely cross if they are broken by some butter-fingered eight-year-old. Believe me, you wouldn’t like me when I am cross.

Thankfully, there was minimal damage to dog and house (perforated ear-drums aside) and friends assure me I will go to heaven for this. And, before you clog my in-box with hate mail, a simple reminder: it is 2012 not 1953. Contraception has been invented, women are allowed careers, not wanting to breed is a valid option and everyone is entitled to choose how they wish to live. You might dislike brussel sprouts, whereas I love them; you might wish to spend every spare minute sailing but I get seasick. You know where I'm going with this, right: you worship at the altar of children, me, notsomuch.

Now please excuse me while I go lie down in a darkened room and await for this ringing in my ears to subside.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Monday, 27 February 2012

And the Oscar goes to...

This time last year, I was here. I even saw Eva Longoria at LA Airport.

A year on, and I've had to be content with critiquing the Oscar frocks from my work computer. So much can change in a year but - and it's not everyday I get to type these words - I can safely say I am 100% happier today than I was this time last year. And that's got to be a good thing, no?

Sunday, 26 February 2012


I have just had a major sense of humour fail.

As the rain radar above shows, it is going to pee down on Thursday, when my friend Gina arrives from the UK.

Oh well...we can gossip, drink and catch up on the last seven months indoors just as easily as we can in blazing sunshine. Hoping, though, the Sun Gods get over their bad mood in time for the wedding next Sunday.

(Pic credit: Met Service)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

How cool is this presidente?

As a Kiwi, I am pretty much unqualified to comment on his political skills but seriously, can you imagine John Key or David Cameron doing this?

You have to admit, he does kinda rock....

Friday, 24 February 2012


Twenty PR chicks at the same table makes for a loud, fun lunch.
It also represents networking to the power of 11.

Made some good contacts and gossiped until my tongue hurt. Also ate haloumi and oodles of cherry tomatoes at this stunningly good Welly cafe.

Tonight my gorgy friend Michael is coming over to eat fish and chips, drink wine and watch Glee. My perfect Friday night.

(Pic credit: Nikau Cafe)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

When Irish eyes are smiling

Another magazine uses one of my travel pieces, this one on Belfast.

There's obviously some kind of Irish theme going on, because today I was commissioned to write two pieces - one for an Auckland, one for a Welly publication - about the Emerald Isle to coincide with Paddy's Day. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend?

Took the parentals to the airport at 4.00am today. It was good to see them but seriously, what kind of stupid airline flies at that time? Tiredness has clamped its jaws around me and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with mindless TV and a cup of chamomile tea. But I still have to do my Espanol homework and clean up as a friend is coming for dinner tomorrow night.

No-one will be happier than me when the small hand reaches the 10...

Monday, 20 February 2012

The house

I may be about to wade into the murky waters of overshare, but several of you have emailed to ask about the status of the house renovations. We have almost finished...just a few walls to paint and the laundry to complete.

And I'm thrilled with the result. It's light and lovely and luminous and all manner of 'L' words. Excuse the number of photos here (see what I mean about overshare?) but the Animator has done such a good job, and in such an insanely short period of time, that it's nice to be able to showcase his handiwork. Left out pics of my lovely kitchen as I've already bored you with those(here).

No blog for the next few days; the parentals are in town and hosting them, along with the day job, freelance work and Spanish homework, is going to make for a busy week. Hurry up Friday and get your arse over here...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

In the neighbourhood...

Yes, you've seen this red velvet-inspired cake before. But any cake containing 3/4 cup red wine is my kinda cake.

Hopefully it also meets favour with the folks a few doors down: we've been invited to their annual neighbourhood barbie. Apparently we share an accountant, which is how they were able to personalise the invite that slipped into our letterbox a couple of weeks ago.

Am looking forward to an evening away from the laptop and discovering how this neighbourhood rolls...

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Like musical catnip

The other day, a friend clued me into these musical siblings from London and now I am mildly obsessed.

Sadly, my timing sucks as apparently they played Welly last month. Oh well, I'll have to be content with listening to this song until my ears fall off.

Me gusta Kitty, Daisy & Lewis mucho...

Friday, 17 February 2012

Not your usual Friday night

Tonight after work instead of heading for the pub, I interviewed the writer/director and lead actress of NZ's first spaghetti western (cutely nicknamed the 'Pavlova Western') for a national magazine.

They were warm, witty and had the enviable glow of those courageous enough to follow their dreams, forgoing a house and wedding to self-fund NZ's first western. I love that my freelancing gives me a ring-side seat to such passion and drive and pray that the power of osmosis has helped me to absorb some of it.

Below are some of the screen grabs of the feature film which show how lush the Central Otago countryside is and how wonderfully it works as a stand-in for the Wild West. I have a hotly anticipated date with a press copy of the film tonight (after I finish my Espanol homework, of course). Could Friday nights get any better?

(Pic credit: Good for Nothing)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A blast from the past

Summer isn't, thankfully, done with us yet. But the sun isn't exactly ripping off its drawers first thing in the morning.

So for today's walk to work, I reached for a cotton jacket I haven't worn for the longest time. Halfway down Pirie Street I put my hands in the pocket and what did I find? This shopping list from the UK. I know it's from my Bristol Sainsbury days, because those divine Belvita fig breakfast biscuits I was dangerously addicted to have yet to make it here.

Yes, it's only a scrunched up old post-it note but my God, it stopped me in my tracks. I've said it before, moving countries is not as simple as collecting airmiles and padding the bank account of shipping companies.

I've slotted back into NZ more easily than I thought. But then something like this happens and I'm reminded that this time last year my life looked and felt very, very different.

Made me feel a bit odd all day.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Underwater dogs

This working two jobs is tough; am tired, grumpy and more than slightly over it today.

But the blog has to be fed; so am going to let the mighty Guardian say it for me.

Here's a link to the delightful work of photographer Seth Casteel who spent hours underwater in LA snapping woofers chasing balls. It's a tough call but I think the diving dachshund (below) is my favourite. Just what my fevered brain needs today.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

How do you know you are loved?

Given my general dislike of Valentine’s Day (and last year’s anti-VDay effort), I thought this time around I should adopt a different approach.

So, about a week ago, I had a conversation with the Animator that went something like this:

Me: “Are we doing anything for Valentine’s?”

Him: “I think there’s a new telly programme starting on Tuesday. Can’t miss that.”

He sure knows how to show a girl a good time, that one.

BUT I can forgive a man anything if he builds me a wardrobe to house my indecently large collection of coats. And this past weekend, the Animator put in a MASSIVE effort to get the job done.

Building this wardrobe is, for me, the romantic equivalent of winning Lotto. I am, in case you hadn't noticed, a woman who expends far too much money, energy and time amassing garments (some people collect stamps, I prefer clothes), and it’s a huge relief to be able to finally liberate my coats from their overcrowded space.

And although we agreed not to, the naughty boy also bought me some flowers (Christmas lillies, my favourite) and chocolates. Then there was my best Valentine's present EVER:

Monday, 13 February 2012

An open letter to my suburb

Dear Mt Victoria,

You used to be my least favourite Wellington suburb.

Overpriced, over-rated and a bit up your own arse, I always thought. And, let's be honest, you can sometimes be a bit of a douche, boasting about your all-day sun, promixity to town and your 'hipness'. Not to mention your, um, over abundance of wankers.

The Animator was always a fan but I was more a Thorndon/Kelburn girl. Fortunately, he wore me down. Well, that and the rather lovely 1890s two-storey villa in the Avenue of Love, which finally melted my displeasure at one of the Capital's oldest suburbs.

And now, Mt Vic, I heart you. Totally. I've never lived somewhere where the washing dries so quickly, where you can eat dinner outside in the blazing sun at 8.00pm, where the killer Wellington southerly can have no impact, whatsoever. And how do I even begin to express the joy of being able to walk to work in 15 minutes, to the movies, dinner or the library? And, here's the kicker, to run home, take Bristol for a walk, run back to work and shower – all in a lunch-hour.

You're also one of the friendliest places I've ever laid my hat – tonight, for example, I took Bristol for his usual trot into the Town Belt, a jaunt that should take 20 minutes, tops. But by the time I had run into my friend Jo with her dog and child, my friend Pamela with her canine, an American chap and his puppy, our dog groomer and her two woofers and a couple of other randoms who wanted to pet Bristol, the better part of an hour had been swallowed.

Thank you, Mt Victoria, for being part of our story. I can't promise you that these itchy feet won't carry me to other parts near or far at some stage, but for now, I'm overjoyed to be able to nestle into your inner-city bosom.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Houston, we have a problem...

It's kind of embarrassing to admit it, but this song and film formed the backdrop to much of my youth. Even more excruciatingly, it's what made me declare undying love to Kevin Costner! Yeah, I know.

Such sad, tragic news today of Houston's passing. And at only 48. RIP Whitney, we will always love you...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Me llamo Shazzy

This morning we dragged our tired arses out of bed at a hour on a Saturday that should be illegal.

But it was worth it, because the first of our eight week Spanish class was esto fue tan divertido. Most of the 15 attendees were there to prep for travels to Central and Latin America, although one woman admitted she needed it for her work with Colombian refugees (who knew there were so many in Wellington?)

We started with basic pronunciation, tyring to encode in our mental hard-drives the various vowel/consonant rules, before moving onto grammar and that tricky little beast, possession. Then it was time to pair up (I, of course, got stuck with the Animator) to wrap our tongues around saludos (greetings) and quiz each other on such burning issues as, De que colour es tu chaqueta? Black, since you ask.

I've had a linguistic crush on Espanol ever since I set foot in Madrid a few decades ago and it's about time I finally learnt how to string more than a sentence or two together. I'm off now to do my homework; feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Because I'm worth it...

After four months of intense renovations (as yet unfinished), I'm not exactly tap dancing on my bank account.

However I've been working pretty hard lately so decided it was time to take, for a change. While on the way home, I popped into a small consignment clothing store where the lovely owner is selling some items on my behalf. I was heartened by news that she had indeed sold some pieces when the purple number below caught my eye. A brand new Stella McCartney (with the tags still attached). I think the angels were singing for me today.

The Minister of Finance (aka the Animator) may not be best pleased about this latest addition to my already bulging wardrobe(s), but leave him to me...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Laugh? I almost spat my merlot across the room

Last night our flight from Auckland to Welly was delayed so we ended up knocking back a few wines in the Koru Lounge (Air NZ corporate lounge).

While the three boys I was with felt the need to talk work stuff, I was distracted by the conversation of a couple of 50-something chaps at the table next to us, which revolved around their broken relationships and mutual reluctance to get married again:

A: God no, I'd rather shave my (bleep) than walk down the aisle a third time.

B: Mind you, check out that slapper over there (gesturing to a bimbo who, admittedly, had forgotten to put on most of her outfit). I wouldn't say no to her (yeah dude, like she'd ever look at you).

A: No, I'm keeping away from them all. They're evil. Someone asked me the other day what I do for a living and I said I buy houses for women who take me to the cleaners. All I am to women is a breathing ATM.

Allah be praised our flight was called about then, because I wouldn't have been able to hold the giggles for much longer.

(Pic credit: Air NZ)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Thank you, universe

Despite the trauma of dragging myself into work after three glorious days off, the universe rewarded me today with these wee gems:
  • Two travel and two lifestyle magazine commissions fetched up in my inbox. Including a profile of my lovely mate Mary, a photographer/poet/PR chick whose stunning new book of photos on NZ is published later this year (commissioned by this national magazine)

  • The discovery of cheap flights to San Francisco, just about the time we're planning to fly
  • The further discovery of a Spanish course near us that runs Saturday morning classes
  • The news that a mate from London is back in town (or will be shortly), and
  • The even more welcome news that our flight to Auckland tomorrow for yet another roadshow has been put back, meaning this little girly gets to have the tiniest of sleep-ins.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Waitangi Day

Happy Birthday, New Zealand (and ta very much for the day off!)

Here's how I commemorated the signing of Aotearoa's founding document:

With 10,000 cups of green tea (yes Anna, that BBC cup I bought when we both worked there is still operable)

Some freelance writing work (yawn)

A good book and the sun

A run
An unannounced visit from the Animator's aunts and uncles (no photos as too busy trying to ensure the house didn't resemble a tip)

And this furry chap.

All in all, a splendid day.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

How to spend Sunday morning at the beach

Get up indecently early. Ensure there is an over-supply of water and doggy poo bags.

Do not let the Animator stop for coffee; there will be time enough later on.

Let the fur baby run amok and play silly buggars with the incoming tide; watch as he sniffs oodles of canine butt and attempts to break the World Record for Peeing by leaving his scent on every pebble, blade of grass, piece of seaweed.

Be disappointed there are no courtship rituals to be surreptitiously observed at Wellington's only gay nudist beach. Realise that's because it's sodding 9.00am on a Sunday.

Get home, eat pancakes, watch the omnibus of Home and Away. Gird loins for another day of renovations.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Thank God for bank holidays

Is there any better feeling in the world than waking up on a Saturday and knowing you have three full days before you have to return to the work gulag?

Slight headache from too much red wine last night and, despite looking down the back of the sofa, I still can't locate my energy. The huge work week seems to have forgotten to return it.

On the plus side, I have just had the best news in ages – we are going to swap houses with our friends in San Francisco for two weeks in June-ish! Which means we get to see the divine Ms Molly again. I miss that wee doggy so much my teeth ache and, given that she is 15 soon, it may well be the last time we see her. Of course, I also get to spend time in one of my favourite cities on the planet and, just quietly, shop here and here.

I cannot describe to you the ways in which today's news has made my spirits soar...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Candle burned at one end

It has been all work, work, work and definitely no play this week.

Tomorrow I catch the red-eye to Christchurch for the first of a series of roadshows I've been charged with organising. I haven't seen 5.00am for the longest time; I'm not sure I'll even recognise it.

Blogging will be sporadic over the next few days: work will no doubt be sucking the life out of me and, as much as I wish, the words won't arrange themselves on the page.

Normal service shall resume at the weekend.


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