Thursday, 31 May 2012

Two years

Two years ago today I started this blog. I was living on the other side of the planet, trying to navigate the choppy waters of a hostile economy and make peace with the ugliest apartment in Christendom.

Today I'm holidaying in San Francisco and loving my life in Welly. Regular readers will know that the road to this point has been long and filled with potholes you could fish in. There have been good times and fucking miserable times; there have been tears, anger, joy and laughs, so many laughs. My life has changed in all sorts of ways and it has been a pleasure to share that journey with y'all.

Whether you're from the UK or US, NZ or Oz or places I can't even pronounce (Google Analytics makes for interesting reading), thanks for tagging along for the ride. I love reading your comments and emails, so keep them coming; they are what keep bloggers like me going.  

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A golden day

It's one of the world's most iconic structures. Babies have been born on it, lives lost on it and more than 110,000 vehicles cross it every day. On Sunday, it turned 75 and today we did a walking tour of the Golden Gate Bridge for a travel piece I've been commissioned to write.

I first met the Bridge about six years ago when the Animator and I rode bikes over it for another story. We've since been back a few times but, by golly, it never fails to take my breath away.


Later, we drove to Haight Ashbury for a spot of lunch in the sun and some very welcome vintage/second hand store browsing. Note to Anita: I was so happy to be back in CS heaven, I almost prostrated myself and kissed the pavement.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

How they roll in SF

Last night we enjoyed a pretty spectacular fireworks display staged especially for our arrival. And to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge (another reason I'm here, to do a coupla travel pieces on the iconic hunk of reddish steel). Even me, who usually enjoy fireworks about as much as I would a trip to Mothercare, thought it was worthy of mucho praise.

Today is Memorial Day, a public holiday in the US, so we took things easy. We ventured down to the local shops, received and returned a few "happy Memorial Day" salutations, found a very cool second hand bookstore (not quite as cheap as my old haunt in the UK but it was a close run thing) and ate my bodyweight in these coconut banana pancakes which I've been dreaming about since my last visit in March 2011.  These things are incredible and incredibly huge - the nice waitperson who mistook me for an Australian (damn her!) sent me home with most of the stack; I am sure they will reappear at dinner time.

In case you're wondering (and even if you're not) here's a pic of the savory crepe that was ordered and selfishly devoured by the Animator.

On the walk home, we were, somewhat hilariously, dive-bombed by maternal blackbirds. Both of us. Along with several people behind and in front of us.

And, of course, there is the canine love. Lots and lots of it. Bristol aside, Molly is the most beautiful dog in the world. I am not biased at all.


Monday, 28 May 2012

The unadulterated beauty that is Ms Molly

An ever so gentle massage of the truth landed us decent seats on the flight to San Francisco and roughly 12 and a bit circuits of the clock later, we arrived in one of our favourite cities.

A friend of our friends collected us at the airport and dropped us at their place where we enjoyed a reunion almost as riotously joyful as the one in December 2010.    

I say almost because our glossy black girl with the white tennis socks is an old lady now. On the wrong side of 15, her muzzle is more grey than black, her eyes are a little glassier and there's a distinct shuffle when she walks. Yet her enthusiastic welcome, the fact that she hasn't for one damn minute forgotten us, fills me with awe and wonder.

She's currently dozing on the sofa in all her elderly glory, reminding me of the extraordinary gifts that a four-legged creature can give to a human being.

Right now I have tired eyes and a full heart. Everything today was perfect – it will be the happy place I go to months from now.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Shoes - and grooming

This morning I foreswore my usual Saturday appointment with the duvet to pack some of my shoes into a suitcase and head across town to the Dominion newspaper's studio where a lovely photographer made me sit amongst them while he snapped away. It's to illustrate a piece I've done for the Sunday Magazine about  the miserable week I was unable to wear heels. I made the photographer promise he'd only shoot me from the knees down.

Was lots of fun and it's always amusing to hear war stories from old school type operators; reminds me of my days as a baby journo when I would listen, wide-eyed, to the hard-scrabble hacks.

In other news, the Hound has just returned from a sess at the divine Otis & Louie. He smells of coconut and arrived home wearing this jaunty bandana; he is so handsome I could gobble him up. He is, however, exhausted because being pampered is such a tiring business.

I am now off to tackle our list of stuff to do before we leave which has, worryingly, very few ticks next to it. We fly tomorrow so the next post will be from San Francisco. I will miss this little fullah so much but my heart swells at the thought of seeing Ms Molly again.            

Friday, 25 May 2012

The gift that keeps on giving

I manage to wring yet another travel piece from my week in Malta - this time for a corporate mag.

I have the manic coat snugly wrapped around me: the next day or so is going to be nuts trying to get everything done before we go, including a photo shoot of my shoes! Details to follow...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Maybe I have got something to say?

Yes it's true I love the sound of my own voice (who doesn't? Be honest...) but today about 60 others were polite enough to put up with it too.

I was asked to be on a media panel - me, a male TV journo who looked about 12 but was a sweetie and the editor of a glossy Welly mag, also a nice chap - for the Wellington on a Plate participants.

Basically, our role was to help them gain publicity for their cafes/bars/food and beverage products and events by guiding them through the mire of issues such as: what makes a good story? How do journos prefer to be pitched to? Will I get more cut-through if I pitch to a freelancer or an editor (answer, the former), etc.

Lacking anything resembling a self-filter, there was no holding me back. I adore spending time with creative and engaging entrepreneurs and always secretly hope a bit of their energy and fearlessness will rub off, osmosis-style, onto me.

I ran into a former colleague I haven't seen for years who is now running her own restaurant and a couple of chaps cornered me afterwards and asked if I'd do some PR for them (one runs a cooking school so that would be fun). I also made a  heap of contacts, which is great when you're climbing back onto the freelancing horse after some time out. Nor was the goody bag to be sniffed at, either...


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Not so great news

You might recall that back in October I endured the pain of my first mammogram.

It was all fine but then in January, a little lump appeared in my left breast. I did my best ostrich impression and hoped it would go away.

Today I went to the doctor to get some sleeping tablets for the flight (I have long-hauls down to a fine art: one meal, one movie, one sleeping tab and I'm out for nine hours. Repeat after transit if flying to the UK). Seeing as I was there, I thought I'd get my lovely doctor, Mary (who just happens to be the wife of NZ's Minister of Finance - yes, Welly truly is that small!) to check out the lump. She confirmed its presence and has organised a diagnostic mammogram and a scan. BUT, kicking away the dark clouds and going for the silver lining, Mary said the lump wasn't 'messy' (whatever the hell that means) and it wasn't so urgent that it can't wait until I get back from San Francisco. Which gives me some hope that it is indeed benign.

Oddly, I'm pretty calm about the whole thing; guess you get to a stage where you go, whatever is meant to be will be...

Only visual I can offer on this slightly strange day is of us on the Segways in Auckland a couple of weeks back - the Auckland Tourism PR who organised the trip emailed them to me today.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Blast from the past

Today while walking to work, I put my hands in the pocket of the lovely cream coat I bought in Hong Kong but haven't worn since we got back.

In the pocket I found this tissue from Greggs, a not very salubrious but hugely delicious UK cake shop. While I ran lunchtime errands, I often popped in on the way back to work for a colleague who was addicted to their iced buns. Weird and, if I'm honest, a little disconcerting finding yet another reminder of a life that feels so very long ago and far away.

Now I am off to the pub for belated birthday drinks with the Mt Vic Vixens. I may be some time....  


Monday, 21 May 2012


I have just been commissioned to write two more features for a glossy national magazine so busy, busy, busy trying to work out how/when the hell I am going to fit it all in.

Instead of whinging about how hard it is to multi-task to the power of 10, you shall instead have pictures of the two trays of baking I carried into work today (lemon slice and chocolate coconut slice) for my belated birthday morning tea. Had promised them a cake but when you walk to work, it isn't that easy carrying a whole cake; hence the easily transportable slices.

Now I am just rambling to cover the fact that once again, I have bathed in the waters of over-commitment.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A very good day

The sun came out, I spent a couple of hours drinking green tea and interviewing an amazing artist who is designing jewellery for Lady Gaga and dusted off the pinny to bake for a belated birthday morning tea for colleagues tomorrow.

And the Herald on Sunday used one of my travel pieces, promoting the Handmade 2012 Festival that takes place in Welly over Queens Birthday Weekend.

Not a bad day at all...


Saturday, 19 May 2012


As I type this, George Clooney is in a corner of my living room, struggling his way through the miserable film The Descendants.  

I had expected better things from Gorgeous George but this is making my brain feel like cold scrambled eggs; if you have any shred of sense, stay well away. The Animator got some movies from the boys at work so I envisioned this as wallpaper while I tapped away at an article. It is - but the horrible, anaglypta sort that should never have been permitted this side of 1970.

However, Bristol and I have just walked home along the waterfront after dropping off stuff at our tenants' place and I need something to take my mind off the fact that various body parts are now frozen. It is bitter out there and I am thinking about setting myself on fire, just to keep warm.  

Am hanging out for California in seven days' time...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

He is officially a star

So guess who made it into the Wellington City Council's Canine News?   

It won't be long before he'll be demanding lightly seared cat served on a bed of green M&Ms and refusing to get out of bed for less than $10,000.

We have created a monster...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Birthday drinks

Tonight after work my dear friend Mary and I set up camp in this lovely tapas bar where we chased away the weather demons with glasses of Rioja, plates of salted almonds and lots and lots of gossip. Mary's birthday is in a few days so it seemed a good way of sharing the birthday love.

Mary also gifted me an invite for her book launch in late June when, thankfully, I'll be back from the US. I've recently profiled Mary and her gorgeous book for North & South Magazine so am pleased that in some small way I was able to contribute to promoting this wonderful publication (cover below).

Just the thing for a cold Wednesday evening...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Lack of inspiration

I may as well be holding up a sign with the words "I have nothing to say" today. Am still shattered from the weekend and deadlines and crazy busy day job; subsequently, my cellebrum seems to have turned itself off.

The best I can come up with is this pic of the gorgy Oasis dress my UK personal shopper sent me a few weeks back. I wore it for the first time today at our final work roadshow and it was love from the off. Anita, it is sooo far up my alley it's a little bit obscene.


Monday, 14 May 2012


We started the weekend with my bestie Lil, her gorgy fashion designer friend Fi and the best Japanese food in Auckland

On Saturday there was a food walking tour with author, restaurateur and Auckland foodie Connie Clarkson. We walked miles, ducked in and out of cafes and restaurants and ate our bodyweight in the most delicious kai.

Saturday night there was this musical at the Civic

Sunday there was a ferry ride and a gobsmackingly fun segway trip around Devonport

Check out the view from the top of Mt Victoria (I laughed like a maniac going downhill on this puppy!)

That was hard to top but we managed with a leisurely lunch on the waterfront with the Animator's sister Brenda, her partner Tom and free bubbles for Mother's Day (yes, I'm the mother of a four-legged bubs!)

Now I just have to write the story to justify the free weekend...

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunday magazine

Stupidly wonderful weekend in Auckland; followed the PR's itinerary to the letter, my birthday on Saturday was suitably celebratory and spent time in the company of some of the planet's nicest folk. Pics to come.

In the meantime, this rubbish photo of my first Sunday Magazine story for a few years will have to suffice. Oh the delicious irony of running it in today's Mother's Day issue: "What I'd teach my children if I had any..."


Thursday, 10 May 2012

The weekend

I'm up in Auckland tomorrow for another roadshow (for the day gig) but, in true Shazzy style, have managed to blag a media junket. Cue flashy hotel, tickets to shows, an art exhibition, a food walking tour, lunches, dinners etc in return for nice story. Seems a fair exchange and an exceedingly pleasant way to spend my birthday.

The only downside is that the Auckland tourism PR wants me to do a Harley trip around the city; apparently the company who runs the tours is moving into Welly later this year and it would be great advance publicity, yada, yada. Except I abhor and fear motorbikes, following a particularly bad experience with an ex boyfriend and a ride from hell through central London. Having such a 'thing' about bikes means I am unable to go anywhere near one. Which, of course, hasn't endeared me to the PR folk but oh well, broken eggs, omelets,etc.

Instead, we've gone for a more sedate segway trip around Devonport which, if the rain Gods play nice, should be fun.

We've also scheduled a catchup with my gorgeous friend Lil and the Animator's siblings, as well as a spot of shopping.

Will admit, though, to a nagging worry about Mr Bristol: it's the first time we've left him in the six months we've had him, but we have friends staying and they adore him so hopefully he'll be fine. And it's a good test run for the San Francisco trip which is only a couple of weeks away...

No blog for a few days but will bore you with pix next week. Wherever in the world you are, hope your weekends are filled with fun and laughter.

(Pic Credit: Google Images)


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A conversation

Flew down to Christchurch for work today and in the Air NZ lounge on the way home, heard two women talking about someone who was going out with one of their exes.

They spoke of her in terms that would make a sailor blush but, by god, she did sound pretty toxic. Having exhausted their repertoire of swear words, one suggested the aggrieved one do what she'd read about in a magazine: think about the nasty person as a red hot glowing ball in the palm of her hand, then visualise them changing colour until they're black and white and then finally reduce them to a speck.

"Start to make them smaller until they're a tiny dot and then blow them away," she told her friend. "It's a great way to lessen the importance of people you need to remove from your life and your mind. Practise doing that and before you know it, that person will mean less than nothing to you..."

Hokey, yes, but after two pinots is seemed like a good idea and as there is a toxic cow or two I'd like to remove from my radar, I might just give it a whirl...

(Pic credit: Google Images) 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Red carpet time

Yes the film premiere was a couple of weeks ago but I only received the red carpet pix today...

Reckon we bling up okay...

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sunday evening

Hello, Marie Claire raspberry coconut cake. I believe we've met before, a couple of times at least, but today you made another appearance for some the Animator's colleagues who came over to see the house.

Thankfully, it wasn't all about work - the non-animation spouses saw to that - but it was a lovely assemblage of people and a loud, fun few hours, as well as a nice way to ease into what is going to be a hell week at work (two roadshows in different cities), next weekend in Auckland for a freelance gig and someone's birthday, and three more stupidly busy weeks until we fly to San Francisco.

Saturday, 5 May 2012



Last night I went to my friend Ange's book launch. It was great fun and I caught up with old friends and colleagues I haven't seen for a few years. However, I had to leave early because my monthly sorrows stalked me and had me shivering and crouching in the corner.

Today has been little better; it's been a Saturday filled with pain killers, whining and a desultory bit of housework/freelance work.

Seriously, can't I just go somewhere to hand over my womanly functions? I'm not going to have kids, so I have zero need for them, nor my childbearing hips.

Thank God for this shiny light, my little treasure Bristol, who makes everything seem better.


Thursday, 3 May 2012


Today I hired a couple of uni students for a major mail-out we're doing for all our customers.

One, in her fourth year of an early childhood degree, gave me a CV littered with spelling mistakes (don't laugh, this girl will probably end up teaching your kids). The other young woman thought it would be cool to stick a photo of herself partying at a sporting event on the cover of her resume. WTF???

They were nice enough, though, and started telling me about a similar envelope stuffing gig one of them had completed earlier this week. Apparently there was this "really creepy older guy who doesn't want to get a job and plans to be a student as long as he can".

"How old was this chap," I enquired.

"Really, really old," said drunken-photo-on-cover-of CV girl.

"What's that in years then," I asked.

"Ohhh, at least in his late 30s," she replied with a shudder.

I'd rather be old than stupid, honey....

(Pic credit: The Muppets)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

And I'd get the time, where?

Today a colleague gave me a recipe for what looks, and sounds, like scrummy pear dumplings. Similar to the ones pictured above, but with even more elaborate pastry leaves.

I DREAM of being the kind of woman who has time to faff around in the kitchen, delicately rolling out pastry I've lovingly made from scratch and cutting elaborate leaves with which to adorn my perfect pear dumplings.

Yet another recipe that will be shoved into my recipe folder, never to see the light of day. Sigh...

(Pic credit:

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


As April has inched over to May, the weather has turned more than a little schizophrenic.

This morning, it peed down for my walk to work; I was wearing sunglasses on my lunchtime run and tonight while walking Bristol, the wind and my hair were getting into a fight.

I resisted the urge to pull on gloves this morning because I've endured enough English winters to know that once you bust out the gloves, you'll end up spending more time with them than your loved ones.

Autumn, I adore the colour of your trees, that I'm able to wear my beautiful English coats and the fact that hot chocolate is no longer a naughty indulgence but a necessity.

Just please don't hang around too long...

(Pic credit: Google Images)


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