Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sore + theatre + visitor from the US

Blame it on an over-full schedule, constantly being in catch-up mode or sheer stupidity. Or a combination of all three. But somehow I ended up at boot camp on Friday lunchtime, rather than the usual run. Of course, I couldn't pull out.

My hamstrings now feel as though they've been stretched to breaking point and I can barely reach around to do up my bra. Note to self: next time pay attention to which bleeding exercise sess you're signing up for.

In other news, last night we went to see my mate Neil's take on the classic Irish play, Playboy of the Western World, at the Irish Society.  Done pub theatre style, it was all kinds of lovely. If you're in Welli, and want a side order of  history with your Guinness, get yourself down there this week.

Today is filled with more work, a phone interview and a frenzied cleaning of the house before our friend Sheryl from San Francisco arrives to stay for a few nights.

Here's Neil and his gaggle of girlies from the play.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Dickens' A Christmas Carol

My interview with the lovely Daniel de Andrade, who crossed the world to direct A Christmas Carol for the Royal NZ Ballet, runs in today's NZ Herald (click here to read).


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Warning: prepare for leaking eyes

It's been a bit of a week, what with losing the bach and the general overflowing of my bull-shit cup.

I was in desperate need of something to restore my faith. And then a friend sent me this video of Arthur, a stray dog who latched onto some Swedish athletes in Ecuador. These guys deserve Sweden's highest medal...  

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Baking and the corporate food chain

My piece for Boardroom Magazine is published in the current issue (click here to read).

In other news, we missed out on the Waiterere Beach place we put an offer in for. Cue much eye-rolling and saying of bad words. I was hoping we'd be able to secure a wee bolt-hole before summer so we could avoid having to listen to the neighbours' rubbish music and attitude. But, sadly, tis not to be.

Am sure we will find something eventually but, just at the minute, the silver lining is proving a little elusive...


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Like wrestling a rowdy octopus

I have spent large chunks of the day grappling with a sentence that doesn't want to work. I have arranged and rearranged the words in various combinations but to no avail. I am now at the stage where I want to slap it into submission.

But here's one I prepared earlier, from this month's North & South Magazine, featuring the lovely Sam Heeney who runs a company called Love to Cook (click here to read).

Monday, 24 November 2014

Say cheese

Between the current round of property negotiations and increasingly stupid copy deadlines, there is precious little time for anything. A colleague and I did manage to get out for a run at lunchtime today, and it was glorious.

Certainly there is no time to blog, but instead you shall have these pics of the Animator and I fooling around at the Amsterdam Cheese Museum a couple of weeks ago. The young cashier told us he often had his wicked way with the dress up box when he was bored and encouraged us to play silly buggars with the props. When in Amsterdam....

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Roses - The Sequel

Am fighting with deadlines today so there is no time for words.

Instead, you shall have these pink beauties from our back garden. They are currently filling the upstairs bathroom with the most divine summery smells. In case you're interested, the vintage marmalade pot was all of about three quid from a car boot sale at Cheddar Gorge. I truly heart it.

And so endeth the Martha Stewart portion of our show.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Could we finally have found a bach?

Or a weekender/holiday home, for my overseas readers.

After driving up the coast to Waiterere Beach several times this year, and not being able to agree on any baches, today we finally saw one that, as they like to say in the interiors magazines I write for, ticks all the boxes.

We now have to learn the tricky steps to the property negotiation dance - wish us luck.

I had planned to post pictures of Bristol on the beach today but the wind was blowing like buggery and all we got was a thorough exfoliation. So instead you shall have images of the first white roses of the season from my garden. This is, without a doubt, my favourite time of the year.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

More books to review

Another courier arrived today, with some of the sweetest words known to womankind: "I have a parcel for you".

And with that, these little beauties entered my life. So that's my calendar booked for the next wee while...


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

It's been a while between drinks

At least 15 years, by my count.

But when I was on a media trip to Melbourne back in August, the Woman's Weekly editor travelling with me persuaded me to start scribbling for them again.

These two pieces ran while I was in Europe - the first is a travel piece on Vienna (click here to read), the second a story on two child singers in the Royal NZ Ballet's production of A Christmas Carol (click here to read).

I have a few more travel pieces in the works for them, so it's good to be back.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Have you met my butlers?

For the seven days and seven nights we spent floating down the Rhine, we had the services of these two incredible butlers, Valentina and Emil.

For two poor kids from the Hutt, it was a slightly surreal experience having a butler, letalone two. Even weirder was getting back to our stateroom at night and finding the cheap and nasty t-shirt I sleep in delicately draped across my pillow by a woman wearing white gloves. And having our laundry done (again, much angsting about getting Valentina to press a chain store dress for the Captain's Dinner - would she notice the label?!)

But we adjusted with indecent haste and, if I'm honest, every time I have to do something like unload the dishwasher or make a cuppa, I long for Valentina or Emil to appear and make these turgid domestic tasks disappear as though by magic.

Oh that my surname was Branson or Zuckerberg....


Sunday, 16 November 2014

This is the life

The Animator has started the long and tedious process of sorting the 1100 pics he took in Amsterdam, during the Uniworld Castles of the Rhine cruise and in London to accompany the five stories I now have to write from this latest media famil.

These photos especially made me smile - they're of ourselves and the other Kiwi journo, Nicky, and her hubbie Carne, on our last day of the cruise as we made our way to Switzerland through about a million locks. It was getting cooler, hence the warm blankies, but being waited on as you watch beautiful villages slip silently by, isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Home - after a mad dash through Hong Kong Airport

If you were in the vicinity of Hong Kong Airport's Terminal 1 on Thursday night, that woman tearing up the concourse like a deranged person was me.

My flight from Paris got in late and subsequently chewed through the allocated time for my connecting flight to Auckland. There was no time for a shower, but I was damned if I was going to go without my duty free (someone once told me that HK Airport's duty free is amongst the cheapest in the world and I have blindly believed it ever since). Of course, the gate for my Cathay Pacific flight was the furtherest from the Kiehl's counter as it was possible to get. A woman in one duty free store warned me it was "too far away - at least 20 minutes walk". Did I have time to get there - stock up on I'd-sell-a-kidney-for their Ultra Facial Cream - and make it back to my gate in time? Did I heck. As me and my trolley ducked and dived (is there anything more annoying in an airport - nay, anywhere - than aimless dawdling? Seriously people, get out of my way), I made it in 10 minutes, detoured by the Clinique counter for their divine 40+ City Block and still had time to wander a few more shops near my gate. And all to save about $30.

Apologies to those whose toes I may have met in my haste.

The Animator, who had to pay for his own flights, travelled through the US and arrived home about five hours before me. So he was at Welli Airport to collect me, and had already put on the first load of washing. Bless him.

We are both shattered - and subsequently were wide awake at 2.00am. It feels like a massive hangover - but without the preceding fun time. The horrid cabin pressure has also played havoc with my skin and I am now sporting a pimple on my nose that is so big, NASA may wish to identify it as a new planet.

But it is good to be home and to see the beautiful furry one, who was ably looked after by our lovely dog/house-sitter, George. Thanks G, we owe you one. Today's image is of the two of them.



Thursday, 13 November 2014

One flight down, three to go

I am now in Terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle Airport, awaiting the next leg of the tortorous journey home.

I have also just eaten possibly the worst mozzarella baguette in the history of the world (honte, France!) but on the plus side, the WiFi here is whizz-bangingly fast, the same of which cannot be said for my least favourite airport in the world, Heathrow.

I now have to entertain myself for two and a bit hours until the flight to Honkers. Thankfully, I have a book that I'm supposed to be reviewing for North & South Magazine I brought with me and have barely cracked the spine. Time to get on the speed reading train.

Sad, I know, but all I can rustle up for your viewing pleasure today is this pic of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Au revoir kids, see you on the other side.

(Pic credit: Google Images) 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Lovely London

It has been a whirlwind two days.

Sunday night I was fortunate to get  lift from Heathrow into London with a friend of the other Kiwi journo on the media trip. An Aussie lawyer who has lived in London for 30 years, my transport angel had a lovely new Merc and it was so much more civilised than crowding onto the Tube with almost every other human being in this city.

Our luck got even better when the hotel the accommodation the PR put us into, the Egerton House Hotel, upgraded us to one of their two suites. It featured two bathrooms and two sitting rooms, each of which was bigger than the average London flat. Did I mention it was five star? The Animator was beside himself with joy.

The rest of the time has been filled with shopping, eating and drinking, including a calorific afternoon tea at the Egerton which was followed by its famous martini masterclass for a story. I now know the difference between shaken, stirred and dirty martinis (and have the hangover to prove it). The Animator took some amazing snaps which I shall share once he converts them from raw files.

The hotel also threw us a couple of tix to the ever wonderful V&A - I last crossed the threshold to this venerable old museum  years ago for a swanky black-tie function. Today, I didn't spend nearly enough time checking out the wedding dress exhibition, which featured frothy confections from 1775 to the current day, while the Animator revelled in the Constable exhibition.

A highlight of our fleeting stay has been catching up with a couple of the Animator's previous colleagues and my lovely, lovely mate Kurt who I worked with at the BBC about the same time the unicorns were refusing to get on the ark. I missed Kurt when I was here in June, so it was all manner of lovely to catch up.

This morning there was an interview with an amazing Kiwi chef, one half of a leading celebrity foodie couple, and an interesting encounter with a drugged-out wide-boy in an alleyway near her Shoreditch restaurant (which I must incorporate in the story).

Tomorrow we schlep out to Heathrow and hours and hours of flying. Goodbye London, as always, it's been fun...

Apologies for the lack of photos; there has been a slight incident with a leaking water bottle and my handbag; suffice to say I am more than ready for a new iPhone.


Monday, 10 November 2014

Enroute to London

We are currently camped out at Schipol Airport, waiting for our flight to the seven circles of hell that is Heathrow.

It was a wrench to leave the SS Antoinette in Basel, Switzerland this morning. I had wondered how long I could remain undetected if I hid in the shower.

I am now 33% food, 33% alcohol and 33% lard. Operation Get Rid of Fat Arse begins as soon as I get home.

Today's visuals are of yesterday's trip to the cutest wee French town, Colmar. I am missing Continental Europe already.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Vive la France

Another day, another country.

Today it was the turn of Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region in eastern France and the official seat of the European Parliament. It's also just across the border from Germany and has changed its stripes from German to French so many times, it's surprising it isn't a complete schizophrenic mess.

There was a canal ride along the waterways of this ancient city, a visit to the astounding Notre Dame Cathedral and a wander around cobbled streets that have played host to human beings for centuries and centuries.

Warning again for excess images; but the places we have visited on this media trip are just too, too beautiful to restrict myself to one or two photos. Also a couple of you have emailed to say that all the images aren't loading - I apologise and can only blame the less than ideal internet connection on the ship. But I promise to sort it once I get back onto dry land.


Friday, 7 November 2014


I can't seem to convince the laptop we are in Europe and therefore 12 hours behind NZ; so I am actually posting this on Thursday evening.

And, just to confuse matters further, I am posting yesterday's images, which are of the charming wine-making town of Rudesheim, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. The Rhine Valley well and truly has its winter coat on and we braved chilly temperatures to catch the gondola up the hill for breath-taking views across the valley.

Sadly, we were too early for the Christmas Markets, which were just being set up, but we did manage to scoff a special Rudesheim coffee (pics below), a frothy confection of sugar cubes and brandy, which are set alight, before strong coffee enters the equation. The whole calorific carnival is topped off with a hunk of cream and chocolate sprinkles.

Despite being a good little camper and visiting the ship's gym each day, the waistband on my jeans feels tight. I must remember to write a letter of complaint to the manufacturer when I get home.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cruising on the Rhine

I am a day behind. Slow internet on the river, plus too many things to see and do on this fabulous floating hotel, does not an up-to-date blog make.

Pictures of our first port, Cologne, will have to wait as they are still on the Animator's camera. In the meantime, here are visuals of yesterday's stops in the Middle Rhine, including Koblenz, a 2000-year-old city which squats at the meeting place of two of Germany's major rivers - the Moselle and the Rhine. Despite around 85 percent of the city being bombed in WWII, it was all manner of chocolate box pretty.

Later, we pulled into Boppard, another stupidly beautiful town where, despite a sky that was determined to spit on us, we walked ancient cobbled streets, checked out Roman ruins and wished our city was as beautiful as this.


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