Monday, November 1, 2010

Is it just me?

I'm scared of the air bag inside my steering wheel.

I've heard people say that if you have your thumbs on the bit of plastic that is the air bag cover in the centre of the wheel, and the bag is activated, it can seriously break your thumbs. It really worries me that I'm going to get more hurt by the bag activating than I might be from the actual crash.

Is it just me?

Friday, October 29, 2010

I wanna be a billionaire freakin' bad

I don't really aspire to billionaire status but as I start to look for some cute summer sandals, I just wish that the bottom end of the market wasn't my only viable option.

Plenty more fabulous stuff where these came from on the wonderfully comprehensive fashion site

Check out some of these beauties.
Christian Louboutin


Dolce and Gabbana

Jimmy Choo

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We have a situation...

The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking

Check out this video above. It's an important message and we can all make a difference. The particular organisation I support is about empowering adolescent girls who live in Kibera.

Click here to go to my September 2009 post about the Kibera slum.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday flowers

Check out this fantastic bonsai azalea by Phillippe Massard.

The beautiful pink and white blooms and their sheer profusion makes me sigh with wonder. There's another pretty rhododendron and lots of incredible bonsai trees at this great site if you're interested.

I've been dabbling in a small way with bonsai for years (with very mixed results) but I'd love to get in to it properly. There's something about miniature things that just rocks my boat - perhaps it reminds me of running my doll house with military precision as a girl or maybe it's the empowerment that comes with feeling like a giant.

Whatever it is, bonsai fascinates me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is it just me?

I absolutely love driving for the first time on a brand new road. Actually I continue to really enjoy driving on them until they lose their 'newness'.

Is it just me?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nudist fundamentalism

At Cap d'Agde on the Languedoc coast of France, there's a war brewing.

The Village Naturiste was established in the small town 40 years ago and now the 'ordinary' nudists have had enough and they want the hedonist bunch run out of town. They've been complaining for years that Cap d'Agde's once-sedate nudist quarter has been disfigured by the influx of 'libertine' partner-swapping clubs and raunchy hotels.

A flurry of arson attacks on sex clubs two years ago was blamed on low-level terrorism by nudist fundamentalists.

At this week's Cap d'Agde council meeting, the protests took a more peaceful form. Old-fashioned naturists complained that they, and their children, were being confronted with "voyeurist" and "exhibitionist" behaviour, including sexual acts in public. Worse, they suggested, the "deviant" newcomers sometimes walked about in their clothes and mocked the "real" nudists.

The town mayor said "I refuse to make value judgments on the sexual habits of other people. I can't put a policeman behind all 40,000 nudists." He also pointed out that by-laws had been passed recently to ban minors from the raunchier establishments.

Full story here.

I don't think I've ever heard the legislative process to ban minors from sex establishments sound like going above and beyond the call of duty.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marvellous mosiac

Spotted this letter box when I was out and about. 
I love it so just had to stop and snap a couple of pics to share. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is it just me?

As I drive everyday I try and memorise details about cars I see, things like make, model, colour, registration, just in case the cops need help to solve a crime and I can help them crack the case with my superhuman observation skills. I do the same with conspicuous people.

Is it just me?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The land of the setting sun

Government records show that Japan is one of the world's fastest-ageing societies. One in five Japanese (28 million people) is aged 65 or more. According to local body registers more than 270,000 Japanese are aged 100 years and over. Of these 77,000 are over 120 years old and a grand total of 884 are at least 150 years old.

Amazing. I wonder if there really is something to eating whale meat.

The Ministry of Justice has recently completed a survey and has been unable to locate the whereabouts of 230,000 of these most senior citizens. The figures have fuelled fears that families might be deliberately hiding the deaths of elderly relatives in order to claim their pensions.

In August the police discovered the mummified corpse of Sogen Kato, who at 111 was listed as Tokyo's oldest man, in his family home 32 years after his death. This finding prompted the nationwide survey to check the validity of local records and the survey revealed that antiquated methods of record-keeping are still in use in smaller towns and villages across the country.

Wikipedia records Japanese women as having the longest life expectancy of anyone on earth, an incredible 86.1 years and an overall life expectancy for all Japanese of an impressive 82.6 years. Now perhaps we know why.

The full story can be found here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hey peeps

Thought I'd pop in to say quick gidday to anyone who bothers to stop by here and to have a quick lurk around some of my favourite blogs. 


News in brief: Yours truly turned 45 a couple of weeks ago, took it hard I must confess. Much consumption of strong drink and funny smelling cigarettes was required that day/week (well it's ongoing actually). Speaking of ageing, life is cruel you know, I used to ingest chemicals to blur the lines of reality, now, all I have to do is take off my glasses. 

On the topic of cigarettes (a while back I acknowledge, stay with me people), I passed my 2 year smokefree milestone - yayyy for me!

On a more serious note I nearly lost another sister a  couple of months back but thankfully she survived the ravages of a terrifying affliction called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Thank the gods that medical treatment is top-knotch (and free) here. 

Currently getting my head around the fact that I will soon no longer have school age offspring; the boy finishes high school in a couple of months then on to university next year - this is good and bad; great that he's miraculously not a drop out (statistically speaking 'they' tell me he should be a dole-bludging crackhead having been raised in the evil environs of south Auckland by a cash strapped single parent), not so great that I'm inching ever more quickly towards decrepitude (please forgive the age related whinyness; the birthday is still raw). 

I did almost manage to get away for a couple of weeks to South Pacific island (Fiji to be specific), the plan was to up the vitamin D quota over the long, dreary, wet NZ winter but finances just wouldn't allow it. Booked it all but had to cancel when a big unexpected bill arrived. I just know there'll be swim up bars and margaritas in heaven ahhhh. Not actually sure why I included that 'non news' in my news update - obviously not a lot of real news to share. Sad. 

That's about it for now folks, oh yeah nearly forgot, big fucking earthquake down country in the early hours of this morning, mucho property damage I hear though thankfully no loss of life. 

Spring has sprung here in the land of the kiwi (and various other flightless birds) and there are smiles to be seen about town again - onwards and upwards. Love Lou. 

PS Sorry about the surfeit of parentheses (an indicator of poor education so I'm told), I just can't fight it. Ohhh that reminds me yet again - I got my diploma (remember the one that I bitched on about for a year?), big double yayyy for me. Not a real flash diploma you understand - but an accomplishment by my standards. 


EDIT: PPS Not a good day for tourists in NZ, I hear that a small sightseeing plane has crashed and burned with none of the 9 passengers and crew surviving. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Great movie montages

I re-watched Rocky 2 the other night for about the tenth time and was wholeheartedly enjoying the training montage as always. I know it’s silly but I love the way it builds in intensity. If I remember rightly the one in Rocky 4 is pretty great too – that’s the one in the snow in Russia.

A great movie montage is an invigorating thing, especially in a sports movie, and it got me thinking about other great movie montages.

Here’s another classic.

…and here’s a heart warming one from the wonderful Slumdog Millionaire. These kids are so adorable. I loved this movie.

What are your favourites?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday flowers

I went to a wedding ceremony in a local park last weekend and thought of my blog when I saw the autumn colours on this tree. Unfortunately my basic little camera didn’t do the vibrant yellow justice but I trust you get the idea.

Autumn here is quite wet usually so this bride and groom were very brave counting on a dry day – I’m very pleased to report they got it and the sun even made its way out for most of the ceremony too.

I know it’s not exactly flowers Punch but I hope this works for you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bone chilling

This is one of the scariest pictures I’ve ever seen.

Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova and her late husband Umalat MagomedovTeenage Chechen Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova and her late husband Umalat Magomedov.

See the story at

Monday, February 15, 2010

Off the boil

I’m going through an extended quiet spell – would you believe I have nothing to say? No energy to say it more like.

After 10 or 11 hours at work everyday and another hour or 2 of study after dinner, my concentration lasts only long enough to check Facebook before I collapse into my bed.

Things will settle down soon, either that or a nervous breakdown will come first. Hope everyone is well. I’ll check back in when I can.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Desperate times?

A 19-year-old Kiwi university student is offering up her virginity by tender to the highest bidder on a newly started NZ auction website.

Under the heading "Relationship For Sale" in the personal section, "Unigirl" is putting herself on the block and offering up her innocence on the I Need website which is run by two Waikato men.

See the ad in a new window here.

Unigirl says she is attractive and desperate for money to pay ongoing university fees. She says she is fit, healthy, with a trim physique and has "no medical conditions of any nature". sale

Who knows whether the ad is genuine or whether it’s some kind of stunt by the website owners but if it’s real I hope she’s factored in that as prostitution is legal here in NZ the IRD would no doubt expect their tax cut out of anything she makes.


Sad? Just plain dumb? Either way, surely an interest free student loan would be far simpler?


Thursday, January 28, 2010


I’ve had a load of stuff going on and have been incredibly slack about posting here and about visiting my regular haunts. Work is chaos, I’m doing 12 hour days plus I’ve had a log jam of assignments to plough through - I’m a terrible student and I had let myself fall behind. Rory starts his final year of high school tomorrow so we’ve had to get ourselves organised for that as well.

Don’t worry too much though ma peeps, we’ve got a lovely long weekend coming up so that’ll give me some breathing space. Soon I’ll be back posting inanities again for your reading torture pleasure.

*EDIT* Just noticed by counter widget in my sidebar; I’m new again!





Sunday, January 24, 2010

No sense nonsense

My hateful vacuum cleaner decided to stop working for me this morning. The ‘bag full’ light is staying on which indicates to me that there is some kind of blockage somewhere. The bag is most definitely NOT full, the filter is clean and there’s no visible clump of debris anywhere screwing up the works.

It wasn’t sucking though. And my carpet was decidedly unclean. And I have friends coming for lunch. Sigh.

I took a deep breath to stave off the desire to throw the horrible thing across the room and instead I performed some rudimentary diagnostics. I ascertained that it is the hose causing the problem; there’s suction into the machine with the hose off and therefore logic tells me the problem is the hose. I ran another hose (the garden one actually) through the vacuum hose to dislodge whatever offending material was stuck in there but…nothing; there is no blockage.


By now I was feeling increasingly frustrated and though I should have been preparing lunch, I loaded the contraption into the wagon and headed to the local vacuum cleaner ‘experts’ who have confirmed my diagnosis. The problem is the hose. We hooked up my vacuum with their hose and it sucks like (insert whichever grubby euphemism works for you) so they checked my hose for a blockage using their industrial sized sucker/blower machine but…Hoover-Hygienenothing.


They’ve ordered me a new hose and were kind enough to give me a loaner until the new hose arrives at the end of the week, but I’m still completely mystified – a hose is surely a piece of corrugated plastic wrapped around air; what the f**k can actually go wrong with that? Is there something technical about hoses that I don’t know?


I have now vacuumed the house with the little loaner machine and it did a pretty good job I must say. I have made the salads for lunch and put a pitcher of margarita in the refrigerator to chill. I’m about to start skewering the marinated chicken and vegetable kebabs for the barbecue and am hoping that the rest of the day will go to plan. I still need to squeeze in a shower before my guests arrive in an hour so I better get moving.

What have you got planned for Sunday in your house?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Knocked down at half time

The young Australian sailor Jessica Watson is 100 days and 11,000 nautical miles into her attempt to be the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe non-stop, solo and unassisted.

In the last 24 hours she has experienced her first severe weather of the journey in the southern Atlantic. During the night Jessica and her yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady, weathered four knockdowns during an eight hour storm after being hit by a series of rogue waves up to ten metres high whipped up by hurricane force winds. A knockdown is where the mast goes below horizontal and into the sea.

Here’s the story on her website and here’s her blog if you’re interested in learning more about Jessica and her amazing adventure. Whether or not you agree that a 16 year old should be undertaking such a dangerous voyage, it certainly does make for a fascinating tale. Jessica is a young woman of extraordinary competence and mettle. She writes well and her blog updates are enjoyable and informative. Cool photos too.

Rory and I wish her the very, very best of luck for the second half of her journey. We hope the winds are fair from now on and the sun is warm and that her little boat stays safe and sound. 

Click to view and enlarge Jessica’s GPS tracking in a new window.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday flowers

Jacaranda trees are in full bloom right now and on every street the beautiful lavender flower can be seen. Jacaranda

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lost in translation

from-whom-it-smokes no-pissing-on-security-camera no-wall-rubbing sams-crap-houseCheck out heaps more at the hilarious Click each to open and enlarge in a new window.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two for Tuesday

I) Did you know

…that if you are buried in Singapore it’s a temporary situation only? The law states that after 15 years your remains must be disinterred and either cremated or re-buried in a smaller individual plot.

So much for resting in peace.


II) Cottage envy

Doagh IslandDoagh Island, Donegal, Ireland overlooking Trawbreaga Bay

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chatting over the fence

I was just sitting outside in the sun on a lounger and ‘chatting’ with a friend from England on MSN when I saw my new neighbour over the fence. I yelled out a friendly ‘hi’ and was surprised to see him scuttle away without replying.

Now there’s a chance he thought I was a cougar on the hunt who’d spied prey separated from the herd but more likely I think it’s about a new social situation; one in which we so easily communicate electronically with people on other continents but not so easily with someone who lives next door.  Have you heard the one about not being able to get in touch with your grandmother because she’s not on Facebook? It makes me wonder what we might be missing out on, surely it must affect our sense of community – or does it? I know I feel a sense of belonging with the volunteer organisation I work with – does that count? Have our communities just moved away from suburbia? Is the workplace perhaps our new community?

OK the neighbour is outside again – looks like he’s planning to do some gardening. I will post this now and at the risk of freaking him out completely, I am going to go and stand at the fence and introduce myself. Horrors.


“A hacker is being blamed for the display of a two-minute pornographic video on an electronic billboard in downtown Moscow that usually screens advertising clips.”

“Drivers in downtown Moscow squinted in disbelief as an electronic highway billboard blazed a two-minute pornographic video instead of its regular advertising features.”

Associated Press, Jan 15.

It would be enough to make anyone's drive home from work a bit more interesting. Don’t worry about checking YouTube, I already have (as a public service of course) and I can confirm that all videos of the billboard malfunction have already been removed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Making a difference

Here’s my contribution towards Lori’s latest writer’s challenge. The subject matter this time around is;

Teachers Who’ve Made a Difference

I imagine that when a person decides to become a school teacher it’s a conscious choice, a vocation even, certainly not a career decision made lightly. We all know the difference that a good or bad teacher can make to an impressionable mind and I like to think that even the worst teacher started out with the best of intentions.

Saying that, my very first teacher in New Zealand was a shocker. I get that my five and a half year old brain might not be the most reliable source of information but the memories have stuck with me now for nearly 40 years and that must attest to some veracity.  Her name was Sister I* and she was 70 if she was a day. She got her kicks having the whole class make fun of my Irish accent. I recall being made to stand up on my desk and say the alphabet over and over and getting a whack with a ruler whenever a hint of accent crept in to my pronunciation. I didn’t tell my parents until many years later why my accent disappeared so quickly when we came back to NZ.

I was a good student as a child. I worked hard, desperate for the validation that good grades brought. I was lucky too I guess that I was an all rounder as a kid; I was athletic – good at almost any sport I tried – and I found school work unproblematic on the whole. That combination ensured primary and intermediate school was a relatively easy ride – lots of friends and mostly indulgent teachers. I had lots of male teachers in those formative years and I still believe that generally speaking men make the best teachers – less structured, more going with the flow. No offence intended to any female teachers who might be reading.

My favourite teacher from that period was the wonderful Mr A. By the time I knew him he was an old man and a widower. He was a fabulous teacher; he was unhurried; patient and kind and for the first time I truly understood that I was entitled to my own opinion. He made us laugh every single day but taught us to challenge what we read and heard; it was my first exposure to critical thinking.

Then I went to high school and everything changed.

To be fair, it wasn’t the fault of my teachers that things started to go wrong. In fact Mr B tried very hard to keep me engaged in the learning process but by the time I hit 15, I was failing his class (maths) and barely passing anything else. I then started skipping class until I was missing most lessons every day.

Somehow though I continued to scrape through with barely acceptable grades until my senior year at school when I was unexpectedly captivated by climatology and the hydrological cycle as shared by Ms M in geography class. She inspired me and suddenly I was attending all my classes again and actually rediscovering the joy of learning. She was an older woman who appreciated that at our age we had a choice about whether we went to school each day or not. She infused every class with visual aids to help communicate the subject. She’d travelled widely and had collected a vast library of photographs to help illustrate her point and she was all for laughter and fun and games in her classroom. Above all others, Ms M was the teacher who re-energised me with the wonder of learning. I’m eternally grateful as to this day I have never lost that joy.

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Back again

Home again after another few days away. I’ve got sunburned yesterday (again) so I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself – I was being so careful with sun block but being in and out of the sea all day means it washes off so quick.

I’ll only inflict a couple of photos on you this time…

Whitianga_Trip 004 This was the view from my room, about 20 steps to the sand.

Whitianga_Trip 009 I took this yesterday mid afternoon. Gorgeous day, deserted beach.

Whitianga_Trip 035 Me hiding behind a big tree.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our place

Our national museum Te Papa (translates as ‘Our place’) is a fantastic place to hang out if you’re ever in Wellington. Rory and I spent another day there just before Christmas as we were keen on seeing the latest Pompeii exhibition. It was a great day as usual, we’re inevitably inspired and excited by what we see there.

Click on logo to open website in new window

I see today in the news that a new boss of Te Papa has been appointed to replace Dr Seddon Bennington who died a few months ago of hypothermia while hiking in the Tararua ranges. The new chap is a Welshman, Michael Houlihan who is currently the head of Amgueddfa Cymru, a seven-museum group in Wales. He’s due here around mid year to take up the job. I hope he’s not a hiker. 

An ever popular fixture at Te Papa is the colossal squid which was inadvertently caught in a trawlers net in the Ross Sea in 2008. The fishermen had the foresight to freeze the dead squid so they could bring it back in one piece. Apparently a  colossal squid is way bigger than a giant squid – this one weighs 495 kilograms (1100 lbs). Colossel SquidThis photo shows the squid being defrosted for the first time a year ago. The marine biologist and squid expert on the right is a guy I went to school with, Steve O’Shea.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two for Tuesday

I) This day in history

- 12 January 1908 the first long distance radio transmission is sent from the Eiffel tower in Paris

- 12 January 1915 the US House of Representatives again rejects women’s suffrage (remedied in 1920)

- 12 January 1917 the Indian spiritualist Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is born  (died 2008)

MaharishiMaheshYogi Information and photo from Wikipedia.


II) The Joy of Summer

I was just talking to my girlfriend who lives in the Australian bush, north west of Melbourne in the state of Victoria.  Yesterday the temperature at her place was a breathtaking 44oC (or 112oF to you ‘merican readers).  They’re on extreme bushfire watch again already this year but thankfully Cath has decided that she’s not going to hang around if the local fire risk gets too high – she’s evacuating. See my photo below of her place in the bush taken in winter 2008.

In Auckland we consider it a scorcher of a day if the temperature hits 30oC though it can get much hotter on the east coast of the central North Island and the central South Island. 30oC is plenty hot enough for me as I very much favour a mild temperate climate.  The average Auckland summer day is a high of about 25oC but it was recently reported that the years 2000 – 2009 have been the warmest on average since record keeping began here. Vic8I’m off again tomorrow for another couple of nights away on the Coromandel peninsula; this is getting to be a habit. A friend invited me to stay with her at her holiday place right on the beach in Whitianga (pronounced ‘fit e ung a’) so I’m taking off early tomorrow morning for the 2 hour drive and will be back Friday or Saturday. We’re planning some fishing and some sailing and no doubt some more lying on the beach and swimming. I’m in the middle of another good book too which I hope to finish.

Have fun at work y’all.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Protesting yet again

I’m getting picked up any minute by a friend (actually he’s late) to go and add my voice to a protest today outside the office of the Consulate General of Japan.

Any guesses what the issue is?

No points for working out it’s whaling on the agenda yet again. It’s a protest against the illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary and the inaction of Japanese and New Zealand Governments to intervene and shut down the massacre.

A petition calling for a firm and diplomatic solution to whaling from both the New Zealand government and Japanese authorities will be presented to a representative of the Japanese Consul. At least the Australian government has been vocal about the recent carry on in Antarctica while my own government has been strangely quiet.

Japanese_Whaling Photo from

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fun times

I’m home after a few days away with friends. My clean bed and shower were calling me after a couple of nights of sleeping fairly rough. It’s been fun; we’ve been swimming every day and had lots of laughs. We’ve had more cocktails and more sun than is healthy but my new 2010 mantra commits me to living life to the full.

See my earlier post here for a map of the peninsula if interested.

I drew the short straw and we took my car. We drove to Tapu on Wednesday and then further up the west coast on Thursday to reach Coromandel township. On Friday we crossed the hills to get to the eastern side of the peninsula to visit Kennedy Bay and then to Whangapoua where we spent another two days exploring, swimming, sunbathing and creating sand sculptures.

We arrived back in Auckland earlier this evening and when I got home I took a 20 minute shower, made a decent coffee and put on a load of washing. Only then did I feel civilised enough to have a look at the photos I took over the last few days. My lack of photographic know how and my basic little camera do not do these interesting places proper justice but here are a few snaps anyway.

Tapu beach through Pohutukawa trees. Late afternoon.

Waikawau bay on a chilly and blustery morning.

Rural mailboxes with a church and tiny graveyard in the background.

Derelict house next to the Coromandel pub where we had lunch.

Papa-Aroha sunset.

Climbing up the gravel road towards the east and looking back west.

Half way up and looking east. At the top we were above the clouds.

The estuary at Kennedy Bay.

A corrugated iron kiwi palace.

Whangapoua beach where we got sunburned yesterday.

Chums beach. Almost completely deserted.

This piece of artwork was made by a Coromandel local and bought by me earlier today. They’re pokeko (a flightless NZ bird) and I knew it would look great hanging on my fence.

Can’t get rid of me

Just so you didn’t miss me too much while I was away for a few days, I programmed this to publish on Saturday. If you’re reading it then I guess it worked.

I have posted about my favourite poem here previously (a year ago I think) but here it is again for anyone else who might be a fan.  This poem instantly transports me to a fragrant summer’s afternoon; to a calm, more contented place, to simpler times. I guess you could say it’s my happy place. My blog is named after this poem.


The Quiet Life

Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest who can inconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night, study and ease
Together mixt, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

by Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744)

Haystacks by Claude Monet

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Road trip

Later today I’m off with three girlfriends on a road trip for a few days. We’re heading to the Coromandel peninsula to get some sun, swim from the beautiful beaches and party into the night.

We have a rough plan and a couple of tentative motel bookings but basically we’ll be playing it by ear. We’ll head up the west coast of the peninsula where the most beautiful and secluded beaches are.


Sunscreen  TickTowel/swimsuitTickToiletries and makeupTick

Sleeping bag and pillow (just in case) Tick

Cute dress and high heels for going out at night Tick

Phone and charger, iPod and charger, camera and charger Tick

Money Tick

Chilly bin loaded with ice and wine and water and fruit Tick

Manicure and pedicure booked Tickand oops look at the time, better go now before I miss my appointment.

Catch you all in a couple of days. Be good.