Monday, November 21, 2011

How long has this been going on?

Lashings of apologies Hayleigh for the delay in updating! So day 181 - I made taxi John's lemon poppy seed cake - bloody lush! Day 182 - I rode my bike the 14.3km home for the 1st time ever. I love my bike, but I don't think it loves me that much. Day 183 - Attempted to use up remaining lemons by messing with an Andy classic - Risotto. I attempted a lemon, pea and pumpkin risotto. It was OK...but only OK. Day 184 - Cycled to Savemart on my lunch :) Day 185 - Bought my first piece of nice luggage! All my cases over the year have been stolen from my parents or Andy's. After losing our nice cabin case in the Feb earthquake it felt like a good opportunity to get into that buying a nice luggage set by starting the collection off with a purple cabin case. Andy is currently refusing to use on his own.... Day 186 - Made lemon curd (we had a lot of lemons). It tasted gorgeous, but sadly I didn't keep it on the heat long enough to set properly, so it was more like lemon soup! Day 187 - Watched my first ever Crusaders match. I fell asleep halfway through. Day 188 - Ate at the Watershed in Ferrymead. It was ok and in the Entertainment guide which is how I choose 90% of my eateries! Day 189 - My first Simo's experience. Certainly not my last. Great (and Christchurch famous) Moroccan cafe that, thanks to numerous earthquakes, has moved to Addington. The most amazing wraps, but also salads too! Day 190 - My first book group meeting in Christchurch :) Day 191 - My first visit to Penny Lane Records. Not as good as Real Groovy, but a fair substitute. Day 192 - Ate at the Redcliffs Chinese restaurant. Lovely and hot food and huge portions! I had the Ma Po Tofu - nice. Day 193 - Had my first driving lesson in Christchurch with Russell who looks a bit like Nunkey. Day 194 - SAW HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2....Cried alot. Felt like a huge end of era sadness.AND YET SO GOOD!! Day 195 - Did a 40km cycle ride along some of the Little River Cycle Trail - from Motukarara to Caton Bay then back. Day 196 - I made a ginger fish curry apparently. I don't remember this! Day 197 - I went to yoga! It was hot. This was probably the first time with Hamish - he is hardcore. Day 198 - Viewed the Cashmere Castle! A property for sale that looked really good on Trademe - not so good in real life. A big sprawling mess in fact. Still for sale incidentally! Day 199 - I listened only to female artists all day on my ipod. Feist, Ladyhawke, Florence and many more.... Day 200 - We went to Flames Restaurant in Mount Pleasant - really lovely food, but sadly dry July meant we couldn't indulge in lovely wine too. Still, cheap meal! Right, time for Game of Thrones so more updating to be done later in the week :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Days 166 - infinity......

Continued.... Day 166 - Andy & I took off to Hanmer Springs. Absolutely beautiful place, and relaxing to boot. I had booked accommodation pre EQ for Andy's birthday - this was exceptional timing for getting out of Christchurch. We hot pooled, got massaged, drank, ate lemon meringue pie and fantasied about living here. Happy birthday Andy! Day 167 - still in Sumner I ate Kedgeree for breakfast and then we walked up to Conical Hill Lookout. Simply breathtaking views. Day 168 and back in shaky Christchurch and my first Riccarton Mall shopping experience. I should explain, I hate malls. They're so identikit with high street shops and they offer nothing unique; they are inhabited by groups of teenagers and harassed families all moving along at a zombie pace. ARGH! Just thinking about them makes me irate. Unfortunately with the loss of Christchurch's main shopping area everything is spread far apart. Needless to say it wasn't a joyful experience, more a trip to the dentist than a trip to New York. Looking forward to when I control the car and can drive from the vintage shops of Woolston to the top quality op shops of Merivale! Day 169 - I discovered and devoured the new Cadbury's chocolate Mousse. Day 170 - My i-player habit is Steve Lamaqc. I never listen to anything else! Today I made myself - so I listened to the lovely Lauren Lavere and the super Welsh Cerys Matthews. I would listen to both again actually, though Cerys had very eclectic taste but it's always good to be introduced to new music. Day 171 - I put the xmas tree up for our first Smithmas in Christchurch! Day 172- went to End of Month drinks and challenged myself to talk to 5 people I'd never had a conversation with before. Big tick! Day 173 was our first Smithmas in Christchurch with the friends that could make it down - Nathan & C and Steve & Michelle (damn you Jetstar with your ash cloud related laziness!). It was excellent and fun evening. I made special Smithmas pies for my meal - roots veggies in a tomato-ey sauce and yummy puff pastry. Excellent! No show from any of the celebs we invited but it didn't matter. A good time was had by all. Day 174 was really quiet unsurprisingly but I rode my bike for the first time to the shops! Day 175- I made turnip curry!!!! Who knew it actually exists as an Indian dish? Not I, until wondering what to do with all the turnip we had left over.....I added it to our Chinese curry sauce and it was good, but not a repeat dish I think. Or so I did think until... Day 176 - still lots of turnip left and rooting in the cupboard I found a korma sauce so I threw in some peas and kumara and had another evening of turnip inspired curry.....probably never again though. Day 177 - I discovered a new bar in Sumner "Clink" - think it had only just reopened after the earthquake. Andy & I popped down for a pre pay day drink and it was very lovely. A fire, comfortable sofas and lovely staff. Could have stayed here all night....I smell a new local coming on.... Day 178 - My first Power yoga class - hot! As in it was 38 degrees.....very good though; lots of sun salutations - you know, downward dog, low plank, warrior 1........I want so much to be flexible, graceful and have good abs so I have to persevere but my bones are so creaky and muscles so tight these days. Maybe after the 2013 NYC 1/2 marathon I'll give up running and become a yoga queen instead. Day 179 - I had my first proper yum char experience! I realise now even more than ever, the Chinese do not do vegetarian. Even radish cakes and spring rolls contained meat! Still, it was lovely hanging out with work colleagues and the pumpkin cakes were to die for. (as this was the 1st July, it was also the start of Dry July....) Day 180 I picked us out a walk in Kaituna Valley - to the Packhorse hut and back. Absolutely stunning setting (though unsure of stream crossings!) - we'll definitely come back here as part of a longer walk as the hut was so gorgeous and with good facilities for an overnight stay. Right, we are into July now so I'll take a break!
MUSIC UPDATE.....// Since my first fortnightly music purchase update - I had a freak out in Auckland's Real Groovy trying to decide what vinyl to buy and ended up only with Cold Roses (which apparently I've owned before but Al sold.....). Shopping impotence at its worst. I have discovered Audiobooks - in particular Richard Armitage's delicious reading of Georgette Heyer's novels and I am hopeful he will do more because I don't want to buy Robin Hood audiobooks just to get my fix.... I have bought from i-tunes both albums by Lawrence Arabia and Drab Do Riffs - both of whom I saw at Christchurch Arts Festival and they blew my mind. This week I bought a dress instead.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh my word....

Can't believe it's been 3 months since I last updated - that is proper rubbish of me!

This could be a looooooong post.....

So last time I was at Yoga on day 152.....

Day 153 - I ran the Christchurch half marathon. Only it wasn't in Christchurch proper, but Lincoln which is a student suburb outside that has a nice pie shop - but my god it is dull to run around! Bear in mind also that it was windy, cold and sometimes wet it wasn't my greatest half marathon experience. That said, despite not enjoying it so much I ran a pb of 2hrs 7mins. Then I went home and slept.

Day 154 - thankfully it was a public holiday so no work for my aching muscles. Instead I got to work making a baby cosmetics bag for my friend Pat who has now had a baby, but hadn't at the time.

Day 155 - hmmmm.....lame. I took a different bus home......

Day 156 - I made Terriyaki Tofu (though I have written in brackets "sort of"!)

Day 157 - I ran around Hagley Park on my lunch with a work colleague. She's now left, but since this day a hardy group of 4 of us have started to run every Tuesday and Thursday lunch (mostly). Excellent way to chat and exercise and get fresh air!

Day 158 - Tried Indian Blues restuarant in Sumner. Knew we shouldn't - Indian Sumner is soooooo good! But thought we ought to really. Alarms bells started ringing when they asked if Andy wanted his jalfrezi Kiwi hot, and how spicy did I wanted my korma. Oh dear. Not great food. Not bad, just not anything to write home about.

Day 159 - I made rhurbarb crumble!!! I love rhurbarb crumble, mum always made the best puddings ever, and this was right up there. It overstewed the rhurbarb and didn't crumble the crumble enough - but hey it was a good first effort.

Day 160 - I made Veg Cornish pasties. Very yummy filling, but put a bit too much sugar in the pastry....

Day 161 - Had a facon & salad wrap. As someone who has been a vegequarian for a long time I've never eaten a BLT - I know, I'm a freak - so this was my veggie attempt. Very nice it was too! Ha, have just re-read my diary entry for this day, turns out this was June 13th - 6 mg EQ day!! Must have been when we finally got electricity back on in the evening!

Day 162 - I watched The Road. Shit the bed, that is one depressing film.

Day 163 - was due to be my first book club in Christchurch, but there were no buses, how about I ate Thorntons Chocolate eggs instead?

Day 164 - I put my new bike together! It arrived with the front wheel separate and other complicated things to put back together. I don't know how many angry hours I worked on it, but I'm happy to say I got there in the end with immense satisfaction.

Day 165 - I went to the Ballantynes Sale. BIG department store in Christchurch, store munted in Feb EQ - selling off all it non damaged stock before re-stocking for re-opening before Xmas. Fun!

Think that will do for now...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I have started to give myself $40 to spend on music every pay day since I now have to work for money again. This gets me one full price CD (though only for collectible artists now!) a vinyl LP or 2 downloaded from I tunes.

My first pay day treats are as follows:

Sleigh Bells – Treats
Just like a Bubblegum shouty version of The Kills. It got me like the first time I heard Pendulum - like a full on attack of the senses. I wanted to run from it, but was unable to because it is so awesome!

Jenny & Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now.
I love Jenny Lewis. Her voice, look, style….I even love that she’s got a cool rocker boyfriend and they recorded an album together. My issue is that I get a bit bored by her. I listened to Rabbit Fur Coat and loved it, then loved it a bit less and now I skip tracks or don't really listen to it. I have a real de ja vu sensation about this album for the same reason – On first listen I was already bored towards the latter songs, only getting my jollies back for the final track “Commited”. But keep trying Jenny you minxsy pixie you.

I want to buy the Kills proper (i.e. on CD) next week though locating a CD store in Christchurch ain't all that easy.

Update. Updated.

It has been so long since I have updated. And I will – though I have made nothing of immense excitement happen to me of late. I have stopped trying - it’s winter, I live in a shaky city and I work 40 hours a week. Excuses done - I will keep going I promise!

The spirit of Christchurch has of late taken on a whiff of resignation. There are those who feign indifference to the always constant threat of aftershocks, those who laugh in the face of natural disaster and those who have left the city they called home for a relatively safer place. Most however are living in a state somewhere between over it and under it (the table that is.)

It’s hard not to be anxious when the room you are in starts swaying suddenly or you woken up at 3am by the sound of the earth roaring, then rushing through the foundations of your home causing it all to shake uncontrollably. I can now tell a 3.5 from a 4.7 and I usually hear an aftershock seconds before it hits.

I think the hardest thing for the people of Christchurch is like so many experiences, it’s hard for outsiders to express genuine empathy when they have no experience of the occurrence. People assume the one earthquake is all you get, they don’t know that aftershocks happen regularly and can be more terrifying and cause more damage than the original quake. They don’t see how thoroughly depressing it is to walk through your home suburb and instead of green fields, and lovely surfaces there are cracks or liquefaction; or in my case in Sumner, giant containers lined all along what used to be one of the most picturesque roads. People have lost their homes, people are still using chemical toilets and boiling water and there is no CBD anymore. Can you even imagine how weird that is? But in this world it’s a case of same old shit, different country. There have been over 7000 aftershocks since Sept and we are all so tired of it.

Reading that make it sounds like I’m complaining and that’s not at all what I’m trying to get across. Maybe I just needed to hoc it up, spit in out on to digital paper to get it off my chest.

We are zombies here now. Half awake, half asleep in a post quake world wondering when, if it will stop. Will more damage be done or can we start living our lives again?

Monday, June 6, 2011

day 136 - 152....


It gets a bit dull from here on in (in life, as well as blog!). On day 136 I started my new 40 hour a week helps with the motivation to get my book published I guess, and the money is nice and necessary.....

Day 137 I had my first MWH Mainzeal month end drinks. Very nice way to meet fellow colleagues whilst drinking free beer.

On day 138 Andy & I bought a Land Rover! Bit different to the Mazda Mx5 - I'm looking forward to testing its shopping and camping capacity!

On day 139, after a messy night chez Hopkins, the running-a-trois club went off for a 9km around Avonhead. First time I've ran around here, and good to run blind, so to speak.

On day 140 I watched Sherlock! It is an amazing TV series. I will forgive Martin Freeman for missing Smithmas as he's doing series 2 of this. And how exciting Benedict Cumberbatch is coming to NZ to be in the Hobbit. Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as being a brilliant actor, has THE best name in the world!

On day 141 I ran my first solo 14m run. I ran home from work (didn't beat the bus, but also didn't have to wait 30 mins in the cold for it to turn up either)- not the most visually stunning run, but good training.

On day 142 I gave free counselling another go. In a futile attempt to cure my fear of flying I went to a work approved counselling session. Unfortunately it was completely useless. The counsellor was quite rubbish; though as a positive I took away that in the last 5 years I've actually controlled my fear quite well - I know all the spin, I know how to make it less scary and I know why I shouldn't be scared. I guess I just want to be fixed really, and maybe that will never happen.

On 143 I bought the Christchurch (/South Island!) Entertainment book. Obviously not much in the way of Christchurch city pubs/restaurants in it - as there aren't many of those about any more...but a few for Sumner, and other places such as Nelson, Blenheim etc.

This one is so lame, so I apologise in advance. On day 144 I ate a Subway 6" tuna roll. I have never eaten a Subway in NZ before. Lame, I know.

On day 145 Andy & I went to the Riccarton Farmers market AND the Craft Collective market. Very expensive but fun day!

On day 146 I got as ill as I've ever been in my adult life. Before the vomitting started however, I made Rum N Raisin Ice cream. Then got too sick to eat it.

Day 147...I've actually written "Dry bagel" in my diary! Well as stated above I was sicker than I've ever been in my adult life, so I think I'll cut myself some slack for that.

On day 148, recovering, and in desperate need for food (all left my body and none allowed to re-enter for many many hours) I made kedgaree. It was my first time as Andy is the Kedgaree king, and it was nice. (though not as nice as Andy's!).

On 149, still recovering, I went into work, got my laptop, announced I had a stomach bug and then went home to work. Working from home (my first official time!)is both awesome and crap - lunch, getting home (easy!) and listening to music all pluses, motivating oneself is a BIG negative.

On day 150 I got to wear my hot pink retro River Island skirt! Bought for $4 a couple of months ago, I finally got to wear it.

On day 151 we ate at Tony's Tepan Restaurant - a nice, if not overpriced Japanese place in Ferrymead.

This one is exciting! (For me anyway). My first ever yoga class! I went with Michelle on a Saturday morning and it was so relaxing, yet stretching...if you know what I mean! Definitely a weekly occurrence.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 126 to 135....

Day 126 was my first day temping in Christchurch. Working again is oddly tiring, even though all I did all day was click, enter, click, click, enter......

Day 127....hmm... 2nd day at work left me little time to do new things. I browsed on my lunch in Henry's liquor store. Definitely the first time in this store, and possibly (hopefully) the first time I've been window shopping in a liquor store on my lunch!

Day 128 was the night I did my first run home from work. I've always shied away from doing this previously, though in hindsight a run home down Tamaki Drive would have amazing; mainly due to misplaced embarrassment. It was only 8km and I carried my work clothes in my camel pack, and actually really enjoyed it! And, I got home before the bus would have got me there. Double bonus.

On day 129 I had the genius idea of making a dish, which when I thought of it had me excited all day. Sweetcorn Fritter on a base of spinach and garlic mushrooms with fake bacon tofu on top, and wedges on the side. I've never made an actual dish before, and it was probably too carby, but tasted amazing!

Day 130 was the day I heard AA Gill speak. I thought he had a deep voice? Anyway, AA Gill was appearing at the Auckland Readers Writers Festival so I booked us tickets and plane tickets up for the weekend! I'd always admired AA Gill since his review of the theatre production of "The Sound of Music" which included "I wanted to stand up and shout to the Nazi youth - they're in the graveyard! If you run you'll catch them!" He is a very witty and observant man, and although he wasn't as impressive as I hoped he was still pretty brilliant.

On day 131 I ate Sushi for breakfast. First time ever, hopefully not the last. Yummers Sushi!

Day 132 I went home from Auckland alone, so had a comforting morning with Andy & friends then a quiet night really. The new thing was catching the airport bus home.....dull I know!

On day 133 I watched the Glastonbury documentary - can you believe I've never seen it before? It was so good, a great reminder of how much fun rolling around in the mud to great music used to be!

On day 134 I made my first blackboard. I'll explain the background; when Natalie & I spent hours in a craft store in Christchurch Natalie discovered this blackboard paint which we got quite excited about. I bought it, and a couple of already cut out wooden shapes (guitar, ducks) but when I got home I felt unsure how to progress. I've seen the Queen's head and New Zealand islands blackboards...what could I do similar to that but more suited to me and Candyretro? Two days ago as I clicked and entered my way through 7 hours of work it came to me in a flash....but I'm not going to share it just yet as I don't want anyone to steal my ideas! But, in case anyone is thinking another of Janine's ideas that will never materialize....I am already setting the wheels in motion. Anyway, so I experimented with the guitar anyway and it is now no longer just MDF guitar cut out, but a guitar shaped blackboard!

Day 135, today I fixed my fricking tyre! Ive ignored it so long, not knowing how has made me less inclined to try but this week I've been so aware I could have cycled to work instead of relying on buses that do not show in a timely I took off the wheel, took off the tyre, pulled the inner tube, found the puncture and fixed it - then put it all back together again. If the fucking thing punctures again I'm getting a new bike.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

117,118, 126!

Soooo, day 117 Natalie & John came to visit so Natalie & I walked a very long way to get to a craft store. I'd been meaning to go as I had a voucher (a lovely leaving present from my lovely book club friends. We had a great hour or so browsing whilst there, thinking of great ideas of things we could make. It was also the day of the royal wedding, so we had a royal wedding party - in which I made Anne's famous Chicken pie (or veg) and gingerbread Kate & Wills, all laid out on Jane's excellent Union Flag plates!

Day 118 was a hungover morning, followed by hair of the dog at Waipara Vineyards! I played Pentanque (badly) at Pegasus Bay in the lovely Autumn sun with friends. Bliss.

Day 119 I made Linda McCartney Bean burgers. SOOOO GOOD! Can't believe I've never tried them before.

Day 120 I made sweetcorn fritters from the Southern Men Cookbook - not new, but the addition of chilli was!

Day 121 I cooked with Soy Protein. It's basically what Quorn mince is made of, and when I saw a packet of it dried in Pak N Save, I knew I had to get some of that! It was brill, I made Shepherd's pie just like I used to in England!

On day 122 I went into Flock, a lovely little crafty store in Sumner.

Day 123 was yet another cooking new thing - I made Tofu bacon. I crap you not. From the Grit Dinner cookbook, it was just like the facon you get in shops, but cheaper and well, tastier really!

On day 124 - you'll like this - I invited Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Bradley Cooper and Helena Bonham Carter to Smithmas on the 25th June. I do hope they'll come!

Day 125.....I made fake Chicken Wings - again from Vegan Dad (love him!), a great recipe for good meat-a-like chicken in breadcrumbs and eaten with hot sauce.

Phew, we've caught up! Day 126, today, I ran my first 12km in Christchurch. I also got a personal best on Monkey Bash - 1215, which Andy then beat by 200 points....grrrr.


On day 109 I roasted some garlic bulbs, as I'd seen in a resturant once. It was good, but I struggled to take all the skin off the bulbs which wasnt great....

Day 110 was my first ever skype chat with my mate Natalie, who lives in Auckland.

Hmm, these are a tad lame aren't they?!

Day 111....was the first time I'd ever been to Omarau! We went there for Easter with the Hopkins. Good Chinese shop.

Day 112 after lunch at Uncle Monty's we drove back via the Moeraki Boulders. I was very keen to see these freaky alien style rocks and was not disappointed!

Day 113 is a very sad was the first time I've eaten at KFC in NZ... in my defence, the Hopkins stopped here and although I could have refused to eat I was very hungry and my options were chips at KFC or chips at McDonalds so I went for what was easier. It was gross. The only other time I've eaten at KFC was in Australia oddly (never in the UK) and I'm pretty sure I regretted it there too!

Day 114 back in Christchurch I made a draft Excluder! Got to keep that heat in....

Day 115 was the night I made Risotto for the first time ever. Andy is so good at this I've never bothered befroe, but out of work and feeling the urge to be a good housewife, and with a load of mushrooms, I attempted it to great success!

Day 116 was the day I discovered Vegan Dad. I lOVE Vegan dad. He has the best vegan recipes I've ever seen. So today I tried the Vegan sausages. I was sick of paying $10 for crappy sausages full of fat and salt so made my own and apart from the one that came out looking like a willy, they were fab!

Think we'll stop there for a while. I'm so far behind and I now have a job so this make take a bit longer to update, but I'm still committed to this NY resolution, trust me!

Day 101 - 108

So we are on the Central Otago rail trail...

Day 101 was cycling from Hyde to Ranfurly. Ranfurly is an interesting little town which celebrates its art deco past with a museum and buildings. It's very cute!

Day 102 was onto Oturehua - a cool little street with a great pub and cafe (Ida Valley Cafe). This was the start of splashing out after a couple of nights drinking and eating little, and we treated ourselves to a gorgeous bottle of pinot noir and some good meat - I had a fish and mussel pie, Possibly my first in fact!

Day 103 We cycled to Omakau. There were 2 very freaky tunnels to get there - my immagination coming into its own in the stiffling darkness! My learn? Take a better torch. Omakau if you're interested was neither mickling nor muckling.

Day 104 was the final leg - boo! Totally loved the rail trail and will definitely do it again, with Smith alterations! We ended up in Clyde at midday and after settling into our gorgeous hotel (Dunstan House) we explored, drank wine, ate and listened to Eva Cassidy in the library whilst reading. Bliss.

Day 105 we got dropped off in Queenstown - our first visit since moving to NZ. Shocking! So my thing was staying at the St Moritz - very swish...we had a suite -it was fricking huge, and it was paid for with our United airmiles, genuis!

Day 106, or 18th April 2011, was our 3rd anniversary. Big love.....definitely my first 3rd year anniversary!

On day 107 to combat the huge amount of pizza, beer and wine consumed over the last few days I used the Step up machine in the gym - oh wow - what a fab machine!

Day 108 is a tad dull I suppose but it was amazing at the time. I flew out of Queenstown for the first time ever and it was the most fantastic scenic view I've ever seen. Simply gorgeous.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 93 toooooooo day 100!

Still discovering our new locale, we headed to Salt Bar on Day 93 - this wasn't the new thing, as we'd had wine here before but we treated to ourselves to their yummy pizzas! Recommended, and won't be the last time I'm sure we treat ourselves in this way....

Day 94 was my first run in Christchurch - an 8km around Sumner's lovely quiet streets!

On day 95 suffering from cabin fever and with the bus not going across Ferry Road bridge I decided to walk from Sumner to Ferrymead. It's much further than it seems apparently and not that pleasant in the places where there's no pavement or rockfalls and cracked roads. My reward for this was to spend several hours in the $2 charity shop barn in Ferrymead - fun!

Day 96 is another lazy one - sorry! It's a goodie though, I watched all 6 episodes of series 7 of Peep Show in one hit!

On day 97 I ran up a hill - to Evans Pass Road with the hubby. "Just around the corner" he kept saying. Bollocks! Lots of ups but it was worth it for the view once there. And it being downhill on the way back.

On day 98 the hubby made his famous Sunday roast and I made gravy from a Bisto tube! Sent to us by our lovely friend Jane, it was brilliant!

On day 99 hubby & I flew to Dunedin. Although we'd been to Dunedin before, I'd never flown there. It was a lovely scenic flight and the day spent in Dunedin was just fantastic.

Day 100! Tuesday 12th April. The start of the Central Otago Rail Trail. We were driven to Middlemarch, sorted out with our bikes by the lovely gay Bob and then off we set! A great first day of cycling, and I'll let you into a little secret.....the next few days will be Otago rail trail based! Still, I booked it and experienced new places so think this is allowed

To be continued.....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

day 85 - 92...

For our last night in Auckland, we were so very exhausted, stressed and sad. Having spent the afternoon saying goodbye to our good friends, it was a case of using the hotel's swimming facilities and eating in whilst watching Kick Ass. Ok, so having room service is a bit lame, but considering all I wanted was chips, choosing the Moroccan bean stew was very much a new thing!

Day 86 was the start of the road trip. With the fish. Was the new thing keeping the fish alive? Or driving to Tongiriro National Park? No, it was staying at the Chateau! Gorgeous old hotel in one of the best surroundings immaginable.

Before we continued the road trip with fish on day 87, I thought we should do a run in the morning, on something called the ridge track. So at 8am, it was a fresh though sunny morning, and we set off up (yes, up - who knew?)the track. At the top, both struggling to catch our breath the view was stunning, but I much preferred the run downhill!

Also on day 87 we drove to Wellington, and explored the city (Cuba st, record stores, vintage stores, bars and Japanese restuarants!) but that's by the by really. However, it'll take us nicely to day 88 - which was not the ferry crossing (and what a fantastic day we had for it!) but staying overnight in Kaikoura. Since my first visit to NZ where I travelled down to Christchurch to meet Andy by bus which involved a lunch stop at Kaikoura, I've always wanted to go back there. It didn't disappoint 9 years later. Still is as beautiful and hippyish as I remembered and the drive in was epic. I also picked up a lovely yellow sundress and bracelet from a vintage store which helped the happy vibes even more!

The final leg of the journey. Another gorgeous drive, to Christchurch. The fish were now used to the bumps and corners though I think the earthquake ravaged roads into Sumner were a bit of a shock. Still they survived! Into the new house, and once Crown had given us our belongings back we headed out to see what Sumner had to offer in this time of uncertainty. Several coffee houses, a supermarket, 2 recycle boutiques, 1 hospice shop, 2 fish n chip shops and the best Indian resturant we've eaten from in New Zealand! Not once did they ask how hot we wanted our curries (a major annoyance - if you order korma, it is by nature mild. If you order jalfrezi, it is hot. Not kiwi hot, but hot!) I would go so far as to say it is authentic Indian, and I don't think it'll be the last time we eat here....

Day 89 I mostly unpacked, but found the time for a walk into Sumner and explored the hospice shop and recycle boutiques!

Day 90 was our first Saturday as Chch residents and the Hopkins came over to help us celebrate. The first beer was opened at 2pm, the last bottle of wine was consumed at 12am!

With the above in mind, day 91 was a lazy Sunday - a bit more unpacking and then I made a nice simple meal. It started with the question what do we have? Mushrooms, onions and rice. I goggled that and found a very simple recipe for just that really! Slow cooking the rice with the sauted mushrooms and onions - yummy.

Day 92 after a morning of yet more unpacking (are boxes like gremlins?) I needed to get out, so in true English style I waited for the rain to start than I walked along the Esplanade to Scarborough beach and back to Sumner village with my brolly and boots!

79 all the way to 84...

I was correct - Day 78 was a walk around the Waitakeres! It was a gorgeous day and the first time (since the KareKare / Piha freak out) that we'd made it there. We did a short but pleasant walk around the Huia Reservoir before heading to Titirangi for a lovely lunch.

I will apologise now - a lot of the next entries will be fairly small fry. In the middle of a move it's hard to get out and do stuff!

With that in mind, day 79 was as simple as using the veggie mince in the freezer and adding it to a curry sauce. I've never thought to do this before, but it was actually really really yummy.

Day 80, I did actually leave the house, for book group - my current last ever, sob. At my request we went to Vivace, but it was a sad evening all in all, as we discovered our friend is very ill. One of the most inspiring people I've ever met, for her fun attitude and positive outlook on life - I keep my fingers constantly crossed for her.

Day 81 was one of those fantastic impromptu evenings that you just could never plan as well as it turns out! I had booked a meal for Prohibition, the fab 1920s themed restuarant in Ponsonby with Nat & John, and John's bro and friend, whom we hadn't met before. It was a great meal, so the thought process went - let''s go play pool. That led to - let's have some more beers in a bar somewhere on K road, and when they chucked us out of that place, the thought was - how about Family bar? This was the place Andy & Matt had so much fun on their dirty pub crawl, so it seemed fitting. There was tequilia, drag queens, karaoke, and a big tits contest. It at this point we left to get kebab and more wine before the best taxi ride home with Raa, who played cheesy singalong music all the way home!

Day 82 - given the description above it will come as no surprise to discover whilst a man came and packed up my belongings, I sat on the bed and did nothing but read the remaining 500 pages of The Sunne in Splendour - an excellent book!

On day 83, more men came to pack up my belongings so I wandered down to Mission Bay cinema and watched Never Let me Go - this was the first time I'd watched a film on my own in NZ, but I'm counting the new thing as following it up with an evening showing of Battle Los Angeles.....(Andy's choice) - the first time I've watched two films at the cinema in one day! Guess which film I preferred....!

As we were in the midst of moving, we were staying at the Skycity Grand Hotel over the weekend before setting off to Christchurch, so the new thing on day 84 was breakfast at Torcheon, the French cafe most famous for its Crepes. I had museli. It was delicious!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 75 - 78...

Back in a regular rhythm now.

It was a sunny day, day 75 so in honour of my friend Lucy I made a headscarf, like hers but with a pink headband and pink fabric. It's a tad peaky, but cuter than my caps and will keep the sun from my scalp.

Day 76, I ate at Tonys on Lorne Street with friends. Gorgeous meal, gorgeous people.

Day 77 Natalie & I wandered around the Craft Expo at the ASB showgrounds. Got ideas to make Japanese inspired quilts and then went to Cornwall Park for Devonshire tea.

Day 78 will be a walk in the Waitekeres.....around Huia Resevoir.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 61 onwards....

New things continued.....

Day 61 - So after our last football match, which was a shocker - I chose to drink the Cloudy Wheat beer as my new thing. It was very nice, but I still went back to the Amber ale straight after.

Day 62 - Before we headed back to Chch that Friday night Andy & I had a sushi feast, from a new sushi place (to us anyway) - Umyi. I tried lots of everything including a few I'd never had before - Tofu & spinach fried ball sushi anyone, or terriyaki tofu? YUMMY!!!

Day 63, back in Christchurch and giving my day to the Student Volunteers Army to help dig liquefaction from strangers' backyards. I can honestly say this is the first truly selfless thing I've ever done, and it was an amazing experience.

Day 64 - To celebrate our decision to move to Christchurch we headed out for the day to Wairapa Vineyards, the first but definitely not the last time, I've headed out this way!

Day 65 - Thanks go to Flo for her lovely xmas presents - one of which was an easy thai red curry pack, and this was what I made for tea this night. Absolutely amazing!

Day 66 - I ate Girl Guide Cookies for the first time ever.

Day 67 - I found an Indian food shop and shopped there! I also tried to make dosas (again), this time from a ready mixed packet that I bought there, but sadly it turned out as badly as the first time.....

Day 68 - After 3 years of eating Hells pizza (My usual, Creator - smoked cheddar, carmelised onions, pineapple, mushroom, garlic sauce and black pepper....)I went for something new (gasp!) a Limbo (but removing the blue cheese and replacing it with smoked cheddar) - very yummy and much quikcer to order!

Day 69 - For my Kathmandu 2nd interview I had to live phone interview someone. For an interview.....crazy shit, but actually kind of fun.

Day 70 - Fuck loads of good new things today! Went to Tyler Garage Bar and Britomart Country Club Bar, visited the live stage at the Arts Festival (for James Duncan and Sean Donnelly), ate a Korean pancake and then ate a Korean restaurant, Faro....very excellent night.

Day 71 - Spent a lovely day in Newmarket with Natalie, including a visit to an excellent fabric store....(I forgot the name, but it was amazing!)

Day 72 - I ran Round The Bays. In under one hour too!

Day 73 - I took my first ever driving lesson! And enjoyed it, even when the instructor said "You can drive home now" and it included a roundabout and Kepa Road at peak time!

Day 74 - Feeling lazy I made pizza as normal, but added crushed smoked garlic to the paste I use. Fricking awesome!

Day 75 - a lazy (skint) day today too so made a new type of stir - fry, soy, garlic and chilli sauce....I promise I'll try harder tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New things continued....

This may be a long post!

Day 52 was such a long time ago! Thankfully I am writing it in my diary too - So it was the Monday night that we got to Christchurch and we'd gone out for food. My usual favourite hangout is Dux De Lux, so for a change we went to Mum's, an Asian cafe where I ate potato noodles.

Day 53....well, although I did say I could only have my new things when it was something I'd made happen personally, but an earthquake isn't an everyday occurrence. Also, it's more the day itself - I did new things during that day, heading to view rentals on my own, getting the bus out to Mt plesant, (attempting to) eat a sushi lunch in Sumner...And even going to meet Andy - I saw first hand the destroyed City centre, because I chose to walk through it and capture images on my camera and that was definitely a new thing.

Day 54 - Well, new things were not at the forefront of my mind for the next couple of days as we tried to leave Christchurch to no avail and then readjust afterwards...on this day it was eating fish n chips Hopkins style. Diced roasted potatoes with smoked fish in peppery, tomatoey goodness served on top.

Day 55 - We were picked up from the outskirts of Chch and driven to Nelson to catch the plane to Auckland - so I got to experience the most beautiful 5 hour road journey imaginable, though the mountains and over to the West coast. Breathtaking.

Day 56 - trying to readjust to being somewhere without aftershocks, Andy & I made a trip to the DVD store to find something to spend the afternoon not doing. I picked out "Farewell" - a KGB downfall movie, set in Russia, France and USA, normally I would say a tad too high brow & political, but I was intigued, and it did the job. No thinking about earthquakes for an hour or so!

Day 57 - A trip up to Matakana usually begins with Andy stopping at the cafe opposite the market for eggs in some form. I persuaded him this morning to try the lovely looking Artisan Cafe which neither of us had been to before.

Day 58 - Was a lovely drunken afternoon at my first ever winery gig, Crowded House at Villa Maria. Winery gigs are big things over here, and I can see why! You can drink good wine, in the gorgeous sunshine, surrounded by greenery and vines whilst a great band sings to you. Like a grown up festival I suppose.

Day 59 - I cooked with Vermicelli pasta for the first time. I was hung over.

Day 60 - hot cross buns suck over here. They never taste fresh or light so I consulted Delia and made my own. Unfortunately, mine didn't taste fresh or light either. Bad Delia.

I think I'll take a break there.....

Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights?

It's been an insane 3 weeks. I was caught up in the Christchurch earthquake, and the most annoying thing as a writer was that I couldn't find the right words to talk about it. People wanted to know how did feel, what happened - but for such a huge life event it's hard to know how long it will take before I can genuinely answer those questions. I can tell you where I was, I can tell you what I did and what I saw, but how did I feel? That's one for later.

My story would be so small in comparison to all the heartache and strength that exists in Christchurch right now. It's what's drawn Andy & I to go back there, and to commit to moving there. Because it feels like we are a part of it all now. So as of April Fools day I will be a South Islander dweller.

Given the events in Japan and the never ending waring somewhere or other, it's so much easier to withdrawn into films, books and music. Not to shut it all out, but to try and regain happy feelings. When I listen to the National's "Alligator" CD, or watch Casablanca I feel so convinced that the world we live in must be great, that we as ordinary folk produce things of beauty too. Then I turn on BBC news and nature is fucking with us left, right and centre and if that wasn't hard enough to deal with, men are fighting for power, money, fear....why can't we all just get along before the giant tsunami wipes us all out?

Monday, February 21, 2011

46 - 51....

I seem to be doing this in weekly chunks now...Imagine how behind I'll get at this when I get a proper job again!

Day 46 I was feeling a little sad - getting used to an empty house again, and missing the one who vacated it. So I spent most of the day researching Richard Armitage and making cufflinks and then my Q turned up - which reminded me I needed to enter the World of Q! So I did. Ahem. So my new thing was sending in a photo of me reading Q magazine on top of Mt Tongiriro!

I am abit crap when it comes to maintaining friendships, and letting potential new ones develop. I love seeing friends and doing stuff, but I'm not so good at making it happen, preferring to wait to see if they make the suggestion. Anyway, at the Mission Bay Craft Market last October a fab lady called Patricia went halves on a stall with me (wife of a colleague of Andy's). She makes beautiful jewellery using recycled glass and trade beads, and we had a lovely afternoon chatting away. We've kept in touch via emails but as she works in Auckland there is absolutely no reason why we couldn't just meet for a coffee or lunch! So I prompted a coffee date, and this was my new thing for day 47. This may seem lame, or even as Andy said - calculated, but in fact I don't want to be the kind of person that disappears from peoples lives,but I never want to impose either (which thinking about it now, it seems you can't do one without the other, but that's not a bad thing!)and so this was a good new thing for me. We had a lovely lunch catching up with each others' news.

This was another day for something personal to myself. I never like to refer to myself as lazy, because I'm not at all - but in my spare time I can easily be not bothered to do stuff if it seems too much hassle. For example in my whole time of living a 15 min walk from Mission Bay I have never once on my own walked down to the beach, thrown down a towel and read a book for an hour or 2. Why? Because I have to walk down there firstly, then walk back up, then find somewhere to sit.....(this is generally how my brain works most of the time, thinking everything through first before acting.It gets tiring ALOT.) Anyway on Day 48 I just did it. Walked to Mission Bay, laid on the beach and read a book! It was just lovely.

Day 49 was a fun Friday evening....I had spotted a free Choral Concert at the Auckland Town Hall and persuaded Andy we should go to it. This is the kind of thing that prompted my new things year, as normally I would see it, mark it in my diary and then just not go. But I've never been to a Choral Concert before, and it was free so off we went.
Hilariously it was very disorganised and there seemed to be some kind of hierarchal seating going on for members, which upset some non members (FREE CONCERT?!), there were a whole world of Nazi ushers (who told off a 13 year old for taking a photo but missed the Japanese guy who was takin photos with his camera ontop of the tripod...), bad ettique with seating (move up people!)and children. Many children under the age of 8.
Now, I like the idea of educating children in classical music and live concerts - but I struggled to sit still for an hour, how was that 2 year going to manage without wanting to have a little sing himself?
Anyway the concert itself started off brillantly with "O Fortunata" - love that! Then it went downhill really - a low being a Kiwi famous composer named David Hamilton conducting a piece he'd written about Tui birds, which I shit you not, ended with a chrous of Tui birds tweeting for a very long time....But it was free, and I was glad we'd gone, if only to know that I like the big choral famous choral pieces, and probably wouldn't pay to see something that didn't fit that description.

On day 50 Andy & I headed to Waiheke for our meal at Mudbrick lovingly paid for by his mum. Beforehand we stopped for a drink at Cable Bay - beautiful views of the Gulf and the Auckland city skyline. This constitutes as my new thing, as although we've eaten there before, I've never had a drink outside the bar on a gorgeous sunny day! And Mudbrick was amazing by the way!

So yesterday my new thing was making carmelised onions from scratch in order to put on my homemade pizza. It takes patience (and 40 minutes!), and luckily I stuck it out and topped the pizza with it - seriously yummy! Who knew I could make my pizza even better?!

Monday, February 14, 2011

39 - 45.....

On day 39 I changed my running route - instead of the usual St Heliers & back via direct route along Tamaki Drive, I detoured up Nihill Crescent (I am not being liberal with the use of the word "up" here) and then down the steep rape alley which adjourns Rukutai Street. It was good for the abs!

Day 40 after football (where my usual is Amber Ale - ah how I miss you!)I ordered a fejoia vodka and coke. It doesn't doesn't cut it as an after football drink, I have to be honest. The general consensus around the table was that it was disgusting but I disagree - though it did work much better with lemonade!

Day 41 Al & I went to Owera and I had a little Thursday afternoon swim, before we did a grand op shop tour! H&M little black winter jacket for $6? Yes thanks! Al picked himself up a like new Henry Arsenal shirt for $4 too, so we were both very happy.

Day 42 was Sushi Train. In honour of Al's last night in NZ (sob!) we hit that train action - not the cheapest way to eat sushi but certainly the most fun! Just watching the little plates coming towards you...should I wait? Should I just go for it? What if I eat this prawn one and a tempura veggie one comes round next? The lesson I learnt was that you just eat both! Yum. Will definitely do this again.

Day 43 we went out West to Henderson. Our friends the other Smiths had recommended an Indian out that way - those who know of our horror at Kiwi Indian resturants don't fear, it was very very good indeed. It even had proper naans! I ordered the dhal makhini which I never do as I always consider Dhal a side order, but was glad I did as it was very yummy indeed.

Day 44 I went with Natalie to the new improved St Heliers Craft market. Gone are the dog gifts, knitted jumpers and pie stand, now replaced by screenprinted tees, handmade dresses and gorgeous jewellery. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and we even had ice cream on the beach after!

Day 45 is today and it's Valentines day! So I have made Andy a 3 course meal to be eaten in the sun on the deck with oodles of wine. The new thing is the Fish pie - we haven't eaten it yet but it's a Jamie Oliver recipe and he hasn't let me down yet, so fingers crossed!

Hope you're all having lovely Feb 14th....I am excited for Pancake day tomorrow - I have a recipe for a pea pancake (so savoury) which I might do as my new thing tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

English Girls Approximately....

The first draft is complete! Although I think I am supposed to leave it 3-6 months and come back to it, I just had to give it to some people for feedback....

I am now starting on my next novel, which will be very different. Less romance, more disaster suvival. I am very excited!

32 - 38.....ahem.

I am blaming our virus ridden computer for the delay in the updating. Thankfully it is now fixed - cheers Geeks on Wheels!

So, we are now in February, shortly my brother heads back in the direction of home and Andy & I may be moving ourselves, though only as far as the South Island. Is this closer or further away from the UK I wonder? Anyway, all that change can wait.

So on the 1st day of Feb more commonly known as day 32, I made Egg Fried Rice. I have honestly never done this before, Andy is such an eggspert there never seemed a reason to, before noe anyway! I slightly doused it in soy sauce whilst in the pan which I think was a faux pas but it tasted good and that's all that matters right?

Day 33 I drank something called Stolen Rum. It's a NZ rum company, and it's pretty damn good actually. Rum always makes me think of the Prohibition era or pirates. This was after subfootball too, where my normal drink of choice is the Amber Ale. However for Feb I am giving up beer and wine (though apparently not Shiraz....) so I needed a new after footy beverage. Will I get it again? Probably not, though only for the cost v quenching stand off....on a night out who knows?

On day 34 I walked a suprisingly long walk to the Auckland Fish Market. I've never been, which considering my new love of eating fish is pretty shocking. What can I say? It smelt like fish and I felt guilted by all the dead full fish and the live lobsters.

On day 35 I made Lemonade Scones. We had them at National Park at the weekend so I thought I'd give it a try. The lemonade in the mixture keeps the scones light and fluffy, however they don't stay fresh for as long.

The next 2 days involved my screenprinting course at the Art Station. Day 36, I printed using a screen onto fabric for the first time ever, and on Day 37 I printed using a photographic screen onto a t-shirt for the first time ever! This is really where I want Candyretro to go - making my own fabrics and printing my own images onto T-shirts so I loved this. It was so accessible, and after only 2 days I do have the basics of the concept already. I could literally go forth and create, if only I had a studio, paints,screens and a squeegee.....I guess I have the ideas though and that's a good start.

Day 38 involved making a meal of North East England classics - Pan Heggarty (or Panaculty as it was known in Middlesbrough) and Pease Pudding. The latter I was most impressed with, as panaculty really is just corned beef hash - or a variation on shepherds pie (I mean this as in it's not hard to make.) Pease Pudding was a bit more time consuming and involved a lot of trusting Delia Smith. Thankfully she knows her stuff! I remember my mum eating this a lot when I was a child, and I hated it, thankfully I don't hate it anymore. I would definitely make it again, though I'm unsure what to eat it with.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

days 29 - 31

So to the end of January 2011. Freaky!

Day 29 was indeed travelling on the Overlander Train through the North Island to National Park Village. We were seated in the observation carriage though the weather was pretty miserable.

Day 30 was a walk up Mt Doom and through Mordor itself! Unfortunately saw no dwarfs, just lots of other walkers. We were very lucky with the weather - it was a glorious day! My legs are so very tired now but glad to have done it.

Day 31 was another tran related new thing - I stood outside on a moving train! It's a proper carriage designed to let people stand outside and look at the views, so thoroughly safe but I've definitely never done that before!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Days 23 - 28

Ok, sorry I have no excuse except extreme laziness. I blame the humid weather.

Day 23 was the day I invented the curried kumara burger. Basically it's a kumara burger (homemade), covered with curry sauce and dhal and placed inside a folded up paratha bread. Blooming gorgeous!

Day 24 I professionally altered a Optimus Prime costume by inserting a wee hole (i.e a zip!) into it. I've always been nervous of alterations as I'm worried about ruining clothing, but when my friend asked I confidently said yes though I'd never done it before! Turns out it's not as hard as I feared and the following day I even added panelling to another costume.

On day 25 I stopped in at the Lonely Dog Gallery, a freaky gallery that contains solely dog and cat paintings and statues. I used to meet my friend outside it before our runs but had never been in. As it happens the painters are really very good but I still find the dog fascination scary so will not be purchasing or even popping in again.

Day 26 was a bit of a panic as I had not done anything new, except double dipping (- eating chips by scooping in the tomato sauce and then the aioli.) So when I got home from football I had a shower red wine. As in I took a glass of shiraz into the shower. Not as refreshing as shower beer, but not bad either. Reccommended if you're in a rush!

Day 27 I drank a honey pilsner. It was very yummy, and I quickly drank it! I don't think I've drank pilsner before, and as I don't like honey that much I would not have normally chosen this.

Day 28 was a fun one - I finally made it to the City Designer Market. Just off my favourite Auckland street, High Street, it's inside a little hall and just full of beautifully designed dresses and other gorgeous clothing. Unfortunately all come at designer prices too - though some of the sale stuff was reasonable and you are supporting up and coming designers. I've been thinking lots recently about doing a dressmaking / fashion degree and this just made me want to do it even more!

Tomorrow I am off to Tongariro National Park to do the crossing - so I'm saying -

Day 29 my new thing was taking the Overlander train!

Monday, January 24, 2011

20, 21, 22....

I am falling behind!

Ok, so on Day 20 I ate raw fish. It was not as bad as I'd imagined, but I probably wouldn't eat it again!

On day 21 I GHD curled my hair. As most modern women will tell you, GHD curled hair is amazing, it's one of the main reason I go to the hairdressers. But after my last visit my lovely hairdresser Andrea gave me lesson so on Friday I put it into practice! I think I did it quite well for a first attempt.

Day 22 I ordered Vegetarian Ramen having absolutely no idea what it consisted of. Thin noodle soup basically and it was very yum!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Days 17, 18 and 19

Day 17 - I watched Simon Schama - The power of Art. It was about Rembrandt. I've never watched him before, as he has quite an annoying voice and also I'm generally not a fan of art programmes. So in an attempt to educate myself I watched a full episode and actually it was fairly informative and well presented. I know this entry makes me sounds like a philistine and I'm sorry! But I don't really appreciate art, painted canvasses and watercolours - it always seems quite impenetrable as a form of entertainment. Can looking at Monet's Waterlillies make you as happy as listening to Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run"?

Day 18 - I was a mallrat! I went with my friend to Slyvia Park on the train - just for the purpose of wandering around and having a coffee, with no intent to buy things! I generally get fear in malls, they're all so samey and clustered with kids and slow walking people and no real interesting shops so I avoid them. Apparently kids do this all the time in places all over the World, just hang out in malls. Weird.

Day 19 - I made Toffee pudding cupcakes with chocolate topping - yum! Have never used this recipe before, and wanted to make something not throughly chocolatey...think I achieved this!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Days 14, 15 and 16

It's been a busy little weekend actually, spent with friends in the sun.

Day 14, as previously posted my new thing was finishing my first novel!

Day 15 was spent in Waiheke. As token unemployed / self employed person I picked out the lunch spot, and so this was my new thing - ate at Wild on Waiheke. And very yummy it was too! We also did a tasting at Saratoga, also a new thing. It is a beautiful Italian style building, a huge contrast from the humble shed of Wild on Waiheke, although both vineyards I would visit again.

Day 16 was a morning for being hungover. In the afternoon we walked to Natalie & John's in Glendowie which I had never done before. It is a very pleasant walk, past all the gorgeous houses in Kohi and St Heliers with some lovely views down below.

I finished my book! Press play and party...

At 6.42pm on friday evening I finally finished the first draft of my book! 2 years after starting, of having that initial premise of lovers at Leeds train station, it is now a finished story. I am enormously proud of myself; except for Johnny Shankley and Fragments (neither of which are are over 15,000 words, and were pretty much written for my own amusement) I have never ever finished a novel before; finding a million excuses not to. But this one seemed more of a survivor - or was it turning 30, or accidentally finding myself unemployed that forced me to finish it? Whatever the reason, the first draft is done!

It currently runs at 52,000 words. General opinion is that a novel should be 60,000 words + for consideration so I intend to flesh it out a little bit more before letting it be read! After that, I'll ask friends to read it and give me construction criticism and whilst I'm waiting for the feedback, I can start on the next one!

Friday, January 14, 2011

il giorno 12 e giorno 13

So, day 12 was a very sporty day - swimming in the morning then 2 sub-football games in the afternoon. So it is fitting that my new thing was during a match to voluntarily head the ball. Usually I shy away fast mvoing objects coming towards my head, but this time I thought "this is mine" and it was! A perfect header, and I even passed to a member of my team!

Day 13 was going to see The National. They are one of those bands that throughout my time at HMV people said "You should listen to the National, you'd like them". But I'm embarrassed to say I never did. Anyway, last year when I rediscovered Steve Lamaqc, he played "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and I fell in love with it. So when they announced they were playing NZ I bought tickets even though I still had only ever heard that one song of theirs! They did not let me down,they were amazing - tight music, perfect vocals and some crazy man moves. In a way I think they're the kind of band you need to hear live to really appreciate them.

Thoughts for the day.

a) I don't know if this is like a minority group thing, but do any other left handers meet and become friends with people who they really like, think are super cool and upon finding out that they are also fellow left handers think "well, yes obviously?"

I do seem to have a large proportion of leftie friends, and also veggies friends (or vegaquarians).

b) I don't know how I can love sweetcorn so very much when I used to totally hate it. I feel like I missed out on some seriously good corn when we were travelling through the US. Same goes for olives. I get hating something as a child and re-discovering it as an adult, but I'm talking about 3 years ago I hated corn, and now I love love love it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

el día 10 y 11

Do you like my daily languages?!

Anyway day 10 involved eating a veg burger at Nandos (definitely not the new thing) but choosing to go for hot sauce instead of my usual mild.....

Day 11 I walked up Mt Victoria in Devonport. I've been to Devonport only a few times embarrassingly, and most of those were to sell at the craft market! So I made a special effort to not only go and spend a thoroughly lovely day in Devonport and walk up the big hill I see most days in the distance. It was a good climb, and an excellent view from the top of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland city. I rewarded myself with an ice cream!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jour neuf

was both pratical and fun! I made a bean bag cube following a pattern. This was the new thing; I've never before followed a sewing pattern. My bags / purses etc where made following instructions in a book and very straightforward. But as I'd like to go onwards and upwards with my sewing - even try making clothes, being able to read and follow patterns is quite important...

It was by no means a hard pattern to follow, but that it made it a good starting point as I do tend to freak out if something seems too hard! And I now know what selvage is!

It is a very cool bean bag actually, lovely brown faux suede material, and good for putting my feet up on. I will attempt to post photo later.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 7, and Day 8...

Day 7 - was meant to be going to the City Designers market, which is apparently on every Friday and Saturday, and I've never been before. However, it was closed! Kiwis and their extended Xmas hols.... Anyhoo, fate led me to Oporto. I had always believed Oporto was chicken burgers and nothing more, but there on the menu was a veg burger! I was very excited, ordered it and, my god it was great. Like a Hungry Jacks veg burger, for those who've been to Melbourne and eaten veggie burgers at fast food joints....So day 7, was ate at Oportos!

Day 8 - was feeling a bit lazy and could think of nothing to do in this stiffling heat. So did a home French manicure as my new thing! I've never had a French manicure, or even had my nails done professionally (hand anyway) as those who know me know I'm not so bothered about the colouring of the nails. However I had been gifted one at Xmas time and it seemed like a good time to do it. Needless to say I botched it up writing this blog entry. So it looks pants!

Review of Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - iii / iv

When Ryan is good, he is magnificent, a true force to be reckoned; when he is bad, well, he's just kind of lame.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Days 5 & 6....

Day 5 - Made omelette. Honestly, I have never made omelette before in my life! I always think of them as a bit too eggy, and I'm not really an eggy kind of gal. Still, my brother has suggested it for lunch so I stepped up to the challenge! Turns out it's not that hard, is quite tasty and very filling; although a 3 egg omelette will make your belly swell for the entire day....

Day 6 - My first pub entry! (I'm thinking there may be a few of these as there are so many bars in Auckland I've never been!)Went to Snapdragon, on the Viaduct. It has only recently opened, it used to be Cargo, where I spent many a lovely summer afternoons involved in drinking sessions. Still, that went, and has been replaced with a pretty stylish place. Several floor to ceiling white bookcases stacked with vinyls that separate bar from dining areas and a covered deck upstairs. I didn't even notice the music, it was so backgroundy! So, I had many amber ales there with Andy last night, very lovely it was.

Don't worry, if you're reading this thinking...will it get more exciting soon?! I have a few things lined up during the year and also when I've finished writing the book and get out and about more, I'll have more random new things to indulge myself in!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh yeah....

I haven't quite finished the novel yet - friends, Christmas and New Year happened scuppering my plans somewhat! However I am upto 47,000 words and I think I have about another 7,000 to write before the first draft is complete.

I've also been re-inspired to attempt short stories again after reading my siter's brilliant published short story "Trouble at t'Abbey" which can be found here -

All stories were inspired by Whitby Abbey. I adore Whitby, it has many happy memories for me. my favourite being a week spent with Suzy on a self imposed writing retreat.

Anyway, back to the writing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Days 3 & 4...

Day 3 - went to Narrow Neck Beach, had mid morning swim. Definitely the first time I've a)been to Narrow Neck and b) (obviously) swam there!

Day 4 - had my first drive in an automatic car! Ok, so it was around a car park and I totally rode the brake, but.....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year....365 days of newness....

So I made a resolution; a little more interesting than my usual "I will learn to drive" "I will exercise more" etc etc.

I will do something new every day of the year.

It doesn't have to be huge, like climbing mountains or swimming oceans, but it must be something I've never done before (on quiet days this might include watching films I've never seen before, or choosing something other than katsu curry in Wagamamas...but generally it will be more interesting than that!) The idea being that I will not do my usual trick of saying, hmmm maybe next time / year (delete as applicable)and it will be things that are within my sphere of control.

So, so far....

Day 1 - I experimented with my usual couscous meal and put mixed beans in it. (Ok, not the most exciting start to the year, but it was New Years day and I was very hungover!)

Day 2 - I swam in the Waitemata Harbour at Takapuna Beach. Just lovely!