Thursday, 29 January 2015


Tomorrow I am off to Akaroa, the pretty town tucked into the thumb-print of Banks Peninsula that thinks it's French (because, back in 1840, it almost was).

There will be a walk with the penguins, a day spent learning how to whip up goodies at the Akaroa Cooking School  and more food and wine that should be allowed by state law.

Sunday night I will roll back onto the plane and write 1,500 words about it for a national publication.

Have a good weekend lovelies and see you on the other side...

  (Pic credit: Trip Advisor) 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A busy day - and the Tranz Alpine

There's no easy way to segue from the first to the second topic so let's just go with it.

A frantic day - no less than three interviews done with, variously, a professor, photographer and artist. My brain is now ready to seep out of my ears.

Instead of words you shall have my story from this month's Aussie publication, Get Up & Go, on the South Island's magnificent Tranz Alpine, truly one of the world's great train journeys (click here to read).

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

How hot is it?

On the other side of the globe, 60 million people in the US are shivering under a wind-whipped blizzard they're calling the worst since records began in the 1800s.

Here in NZ, we are melting. I'm turning my memory inside out trying to remember such a hot summer. The other day the mercury read 31 degrees and as I type this, it's 9.20pm and the internet tells me it's still 25 degrees.

Today my boss took us down to the waterfront to scoff our faces full of gelato; it was so hot, we huddled under the shade of an overpass, eager to eat our ice cream before it turned into a milkshake. Everyone is having trouble sleeping and the news is reporting the highest number of sun stroke/sunburn patients on record.

It took a while, but global warming finally made it to NZ. I'm not going to whine about the heat, because in a few weeks extraordinary amounts of water will no doubt be falling from the sky. Thank you summer, for gracing us with your presence.

Today's visual is of Briz at the beach (not, of course, taken today, but last week).

Monday, 26 January 2015

How freaking cool is this chick?

I first met the astounding Nicole Doriguzzi a couple of years ago when we were both walking our pooches in the Town Belt.

Over the years we've run into each other numerous times and I've gotten to understand this crazy, tattooed chick with a heart bigger than Wellington Harbour. Bit by bit, she also shared stories of the illness, cystic fibrosis, that has made her life so difficult.

Tonight after work Bristol and I ran into her and her two woofers and she told me she had given up her job and sold to van so she could head off to Santiago, Chile for two months to work with stray dogs. The Dom did a story on her last week (click here to read) and I'm planning to do one on her when she gets back.

Tired and jaded old bitch that I am, there isn't much in this world that raises my 'amazing' barometer; but Nicole did that today. She's all kinds of fantastic, this young woman, but also badly needs dosh so she can help feed and care for Santiago's quarter of a million strays. I've just donated to her Give a Little page, so why don't you too? Click here to donate. 

 (Pic credit: Stuff)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

What we always knew....

The BBC, my eternally wise former employer, has just named Welli as one of the hottest cities to visit in 2015 (click here to read).

Quietly chuffed that my wee city, the southern most capital in the world, was recognised.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The amazing Inge Woolf

My story on the matriach of the Woolf photography family and founder of the NZ Holocaust Centre, is published in this month's North & South Magazine (click here to read). 

If I have even half of this woman's get-up-and-go when I'm her age, I'll be overjoyed.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015


I have spent the last hour emailing and texting 25+ very disappointed people to tell them they were unable to move into our rental property.

Our current tenant, a quiet British lawyer, has been in the property for 18 months and, sadly, is being transferred to Christchurch with her job. I briefly considered locking the door and refusing to let her leave but that, I'm told, is inappropriate, stalkerish behaviour.  

Instead, I spent an hour Friday night and again today at lunchtime repeating myself about the down-town property we've owned for around 10 years and where I once lived for four months. In the past, the rental agreement has always expired around August, a quiet time when we're lucky to get about 10 people through. This time, however, the advert has had about 1,000 views on Trade Me and the phone is still ringing off the hook. Note to landlords: advertise your properties in January/Feb and you'll be inundated with interested parties.

I now want to go and lie down in a darkened room because while it's all well and good to get the best tenants possible, I also met some lovely folk in the last few days and it's hard having to tell them they can't have the house they really, really want (the one exception was the princess who looked aghast when I told her I wouldn't be making a decision for a few days; apparently her current lease ran out this week and she NEEDED to know there and then if she could have the place).

What I need is something beautiful to rest my weary retinas on, so here are some beauties from Tumblr.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Painting, gardening and spending our weekends enslaved to the beach house

Another weekend of trying to knock the 50 shades of peach bach into the kind of cool beach houses I write about for a raft of interior magazines. Fortunately, the god of long weekends smiled upon us, giving us another day in which to do so (thank you Welli Anniversary Day).

There was also an assault on the jungle (sorry, garden) that hasn't been touched for three years (my compost pile groweth) and I also found time to write two stories due in this week (go me).

A lovely long weekend and, I swear, it gets harder to leave the bach each time. Currently trying to hatch a plan to spend more time up there...

Today's visuals are of the Animator hard at work painting; apologies for the lack of pics but we are so busy working our butts off we usually forget to capture the moment.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A study in unhelpfulness - and the coolest dog ever

I have spent large,very frustrating chunks of today trying to glean the simplest information/stats for a story from a large, unfriendly organisation which is, unfortunately, the gatekeeper of said info.

I have, subsequently, dealt with more idiots today than anyone should ever have to. It feels as though a Fools Convention is in progress and I have landed in the midst of it.

While I was put on hold for the umpteenth time, I amused myself with imagining the process that job interviews in this organisation must follow.

"How would you describe yourself?" "Stupid". "What's your feeling on customer service?" "Eh? What's customer service?" "Do you think it's your job to be helpful?" 'Helpful people should be put in front of a firing squad, then set alight". "Great, you're hired."

Also while on hold by a shining example of the above, who told me she'd only started yesterday and so "knew nothing" (presumably why she was hired), I found solace in this graphic which someone sent me. It's obvs intended to highlight all the things banned from the area but instead it makes the coolest dog ever. I want one NOW.



Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Trail blazers

Am well and truly back in the writing trenches so no time for the blog today.

Instead, you shall have my story on NZ's cycle trails which appears in this month's Cathay Pacific inflight magazine, Discovery (click here to read).

Monday, 12 January 2015

Wired to Travel

The February issue of North & South Magazine, out today, runs my story exploring the idea that some people are genetically wired to travel, and includes a pic of yours truly (click here to read).

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sunshine, pippies and a nephew

Another gloriously sunny weekend at the bach, this time with the Animator's nephew, Caleb, who flew down from Auckland on Friday night.

Early Saturday morning, the boys took Bristol to the beach and collected a bag of pippies, which found their way onto the barbie Saturday night.

In between visits to the beach and the scoffing of kaimoana, we also managed a considerable amount of work on the bach. While the Animator and Caleb sanded and prepped for painting, I was assigned the task of paying for someone's else's decorating mistakes, spending hours scraping horrid lino and backing off the bathroom floor. The heat gun is officially my new best friend.


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Catching up

It has been a week of reconnecting with mates: last year's work and travel frenzy left little time to see some of the glorious folk I'm privileged to call  my friends (frankly I'm surprised any of them are still talking to me).

Today it was the turn of Julia and her two woofers. I haven't seen lovely J for months and months so we strolled along O Parade and drank gallons of green tea at Beach Babylon and then walked back up to the Mt Vic Community Gardens. I don't think either of us paused for breath the entire two hours. And oh, oh, oh it was all kinds of lovely to do it full sunshine. A Very Good Day.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Babies - and fire extinguishers

Today my friend Sarah brought over her five month old bubs Theo for a visit. It turned out to be a surprise for all for us.

Regular readers will know that I'm as far away from the child-friendly end of the spectrum as it's possible to get, but I figured that five months was small enough to fall under the radar of bad behaviour. Theo didn't disappoint: he slept most of the time and stared quietly and intently at his new surroundings while awake.

Bristol, of course, was simultaneously fascinated by the alien sound of babies crying and jealous as hell when I carried Theo and made the appropriate gushing noises. But it was great to see Sarah and we drank tea and caught up on months and months of gossip and industry news (Sarah is also a freelance journo).

As we were chatting a courier arrived with this parcel which turned out to be a thank you gift from the estate agent we bought the bach from.

Naturally, I got super excited about it containing some form of pressed grapes (as the size and shape of the box would suggest).

Imagine my disappointment when I opened it to find this:

I'm not ungrateful and of course smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are vital, yada yada. But not nearly as much fun as a bottle of bubbles. Oh well, as least we're covered in the fire prevention stakes. And it gave Sarah and me a mighty laugh.

Tonight is the first running group of the year - apart from a few runs on the beach over the break, I haven't been for a trot for a while. Wish me luck...

Monday, 5 January 2015

Hawaiian Melting Pot

Taste Magazine runs my Hawaiian food story from the media trip we did to these glorious isles back in September (click here to read).

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Anne Frank's legacy

Still in catch-up mode, but my story on my visit to Amsterdam's Anne Frank house in November ran in the Sunday Star Times a couple of days before Xmas (click here to read).

The stunning pix are, of course, c/o the Animator.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Q: "Did you have a relaxing two-week Xmas break?"

A: "No, I have a bach (beach house)."

Apologies for the radio silence - we have spent the past two weeks at the new bach where there is no cell or internet service (I cannot begin to tell you how glorious it was to unplug for the duration).

We, of course, don't do idle: our days were shaped by the ripping up of carpet, stripping of wall-paper and knocking down of walls, interspersed with twice daily visits to the beach (including several glorious early morning runs where we had the whole sandy expanse to ourselves), work (I had two stories to write over the break) as well as copious amounts of G&T and cold white wine.

There were visits from friends for a night (and their dog), Christmas arvo at the beach with mates who have a bach two streets from ours (and four other dogs - Bristol was in canine heaven) and a fabulous New Year's Eve with other friends with a waterfront bach.  

Bristol has taken to the beach like a duck to orange sauce: he has overcome his fear of water and is obsessed with chasing sticks into the surf. Which, of course, means he leaves sandy deposits wherever he goes and his overgrown locks have taken on a distinct surfer-hippie-dread-locked look. He is badly in need of a hot date with a pair of grooming shears.

As for us, we are tired but happy; it was probably one of the best Xmas breaks I've ever had. I can't say I'm best pleased about returning to work on Monday but there is much to look forward to and some exciting stuff just around the corner.

Apologies too for failing miserably on the photographic front; despite the marvellous two weeks, I failed to take one single photo. I have also failed to compile the usual yearly round-up; expect that sometime later this week.

For now, there are three loads of washing to be done, lawns to be mowed and cupboards to be filled. I hope your break was suitably festive and here's to a fabulous 2015...

(Pic credit: Google Images) 


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