Sunday, 30 December 2007

Good riddance 2007

I just realised, as I looked out over the sink into the Rectory's garden (patch of grass, rusting BBQ and budweiser cans) that my love for uneven numbers has been completely unfounded.

I have always liked unevens, despite the fact that my birthday is made up of almost entirely (apart from the 1 and the 9) even numbers. They are angular, odd and kind of quirky.

But, as I realised in my dishwashing epiphany, odds have never done anything good for me. Looking back over the years, odd years have generally been pants. All the good ones have been evens. 2006 - ruled. 2005 - lame. 2004 - very pleasing indeed. 2003 - average. Along with this - 2007 was, in one word, arse. In two words, mainly arse. In a sentence, mainly arse with a few good bits thrown in, apart from the last bit which was cool.

Now you don't have to be Stephen Hawking to figure out that according to this pattern 2008 is going to be absolutely blistering.

Happy 2008 everyone. Look at all those evens in there. Lovin' it.

The nomad goes religious at The Rectory, Clapham

I am currently resting on my laurels in Clapham, South London.

Walk straight past Dame Vivienne Westwood's house, and wave to the firefighters as you cross the road to Rectory Gardens.

Head down the little lane to the white house at the very end.

Although it is devoid of central heating, the taps drip, and the neighbours get a suspicious number of visitors, Le Chateau (as we like to call it) is a cosy, friendly little place. And when you are dependent on the hospitality of others, you have absolutely nothing to moan about and everything to be thankful for.

Friday, 28 December 2007

My Nemesis

It is amazing the way that sneaky little being self-doubt pops up when and where you least expect him.

Just when you thought all was good in the world, he steps out of the shadows. As you walk along, he whispers nasty nothings in your ear. You turn and glare at him, relegating him to sliding along the walls of the scummy stores you pass on your way home, the shadows skidding across his empty eyes. But before you have time to banish him completely, with a quickened step he catches you and continues his depressive tirade of doubtful thoughts.

Sometimes I stop suddenly, turning to shout at him to leave me alone. He skulks off to hang out with his low life mates Pity and Jealousy, at the local Starbucks, or wherever similarly bad feelings get together to drink bitter coffee.

But before you know it, like a mouse that you swear you just saw across the other side of the room, he is right there in front of you again.

Today I had my first thought of 'am I going to spend the rest of my life in fear of one day being found slowly decomposing into the sofa only because the power company finally realise I haven't paid the bill for over a year?'

The neighbours will be quoted as saying 'we only really saw her when she occasionally put her piles of newspaper bundled in twine, out for recycling, as well as let the 45 cats out for a quick wee'.

You will be pleased to know, however, after two laaaarge glasses of wine, I kicked self-doubt's arse in a 'crouching tiger, hidden dragon' style kung-ku fight. Entirely in slow motion, of course.

Nomadic Emma lives to see another day as the 'super singleton'.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

These boots are made for....

My workmates officially think I am a freak. I let slip at the work xmas party, that I walk to the office every morning. I am now viewed with a slight sideways look of suspicion.

I think everyone remembers their first 'person under the train' incident. My first day of work was mine. A sad, sad thing. But after a while (maybe by the third body) you become somewhat heartless. Now it is not a shock; just pure inconvenience. The same frustrating morning I spent standing on the tube platform trying to get to work only to be, 45 minutes later, one further station back than where I started, my housemate found herself stuck in a tunnel for 25 minutes. Someone had wandered in, they said. The driver told the passengers that it took them half an hour to locate the body.

But I digress. I now walk my 8 stops along the Northern Line. It takes me just over an hour if I power it. Which lately I have been doing, simply to keep the frostbite from my toes.

It is amazing just how empty the streets are between the tube stations. And amazing just how close the tube stations actually are, in 'real life'.

I love my morning walks. Much nicer than spending a train trip with your head in someone's armpit.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Chrimbo in London-town

I have realised that a quick scan of my last couple of blogs would give you the impression that London and I are not getting along. This is far from the truth.

In fact, we are having a full-blown, passionate, love affair. I have fallen for this great city. If I was a cartoon character I would be flat on my face, features messed into the cobble stones. That is how hard I have fallen for her.

This city has a thousand sides to her personality. Any spare hour I have, I spend it walking her streets, soaking up each and every side of her.

We have had fudge and a flat white at the Borough Markets; walked amongst the fire-like xmas lights in a foggy Hyde Park; drunk endless pots of Earl Grey next to Clapham Common; whiled away an afternoon with Picasso, Monet and Pollock at the Tate Modern; and every day that we are at work, in the afternoon winter light, across the Thames, we can see Tower Bridge bathed in pink.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Queue Rage

Well-known for their high standards in queuing here, I have to wonder if this came about from hundreds of years of banks and post offices only having two tellers open when the line is seemingly going from Clapham to Camden and back.

I have to say that I am rather a patient queuer. This did not get me anywhere in India where queues are completely non-existent and instead are a screaming, heaving mass of arms and legs gathered around one window. Eventually I learnt not to stand back - 'No, I insist - you go first. All 345 of you. I'll just wait here for you guys to finish up.' And rather to get in there like a fifty year old woman with razor blade elbows on Kirks' sale day.

But it is with relief that I am now in a country that tends towards standing one behind the other. This usually works except when you are in the Clapham Post Office, as I was the other day, and there are about 25 people queuing with only two tellers open. The queue had about a 50/50 sane/insane split. I wont go into details but I will say that is the closest I have come to a queue riot since I got here.

The previous day I had been to the bank to pick up my new credit card, only to find the door wouldn't open because the queue was pushed up against it. Thinking I was very smart, I decided to come back the following morning, right on opening time. I did just that only to find the queue was this time situated outside the still-closed doors, and making its way across the street.

I do think maybe the people behind the glass windows have been abused just one too many times so are now seeking some sort of slow excruciating revenge on the general populous.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Tube Snot

Apparently travelling 40 minutes on the tube is the equivalent to smoking two cigarettes.

After two days in London, I already had 'tube hack'. You know the cough - a dry rasp when your lungs become coated with toxins making you think you are actually a coal miner living somewhere in the Midlands.

'Tube snot' quickly followed my newly aquired 'tube hack'. I'll spare you all the details on that one.

Despite its toxic dust, it is quite an amazing system, the tube. It opened in 1863, and by the end of the nineteenth century, had a fair bit going on. Considering New Zealand still doesn't have anything that constitutes an underground rail system, I find that quite advanced.

The Tube has also created a number of sideline industries. Such as the trashy free newspapers given out to people as they enter a station. An excellent way of finding out what happened on 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here' the previous evening. It is also a great place for religious fanatics and generally crazy people to congregate. If you want to busk, you will have to audition however.

A website has also come about, for all those that spot their prospective soulmate, whilst attempting to avoid all eye contact and stare vacantly at the Tube map. was created for those wanting to track down that cute 'metro reading, hacking, vacant looking' Tube rider.

Big news this week was the voice of the Tube being fired for putting joke recordings on her website, such as "a reminder to our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly".

As much as people complain, any system that leads you to moan if you have to wait more than 5 minutes for the next train, must be pretty good.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Thanksgiving in NY

What else does one do on the most celebrated of American holidays apart from stand on the border of Central Park and watch massive balloons float down the street. Thanks Macy's (the world's biggest department store) for sharing your parade with me. By the way- the building in the background of the photos is the Dakota Apartment building, where John Lennon was killed and Yoko Ono still lives.
It is rather odd being somewhere on a major holiday such as this. Masses of people heading every which way; to parents, families, friends. I could only imagine the goings on in the apartments as I walked down 5th Avenue in the evening. Turkey, laughter, egg nog, smiles.

I simply celebrated my first thanksgiving with a pretzel, the New York Times and a stroll through Central Park, occasionally giggling at the squirrels.

Friday, 23 November 2007


I spent four hours wandering the floors of the Museum of Modern Art. That must be some kind of record for an art retard like me.

By the time I left, my mind was so noisy from all of the messages banging around my otherwise quiet head.

As always, the simplest of things pleased me. A ladder to nowhere; an old fashioned airport departure board; art which, even I can seemingly knowledgably say 'oh well, that simply must be a Lichenstein'.

New York, New York

She is the kind of city that makes you want to throw back your head and laugh. You feel like flinging your arms out and spinning around on her wide pavements.

New York is not just another city; it is a whole 'nother planet. It runs at its own pace; by its own watch. I feel I have slipped into another dimension.

Here you can be anyone.

Anything can happen in this city. And you can bet that it probably does.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

And Back Again...

U.S. immigrations didn't prove to be quite as friendly as our Canadian friends. In fact the woman that boarded the carriage as we rolled back over the border from Canada appeared to be sort of cross between Stalin and a hostel matron. But at least she provided a little bit of entertainment to break up the 13 hour trip - although the Mexican woman she hauled off the train and interrogated, probably doesn't feel so kindly about her.

Toronto was a great city - it did its best to steal my heart with its food, sprinkling of snow, cutesy houses and crisp sunny days.

New foods were a running flavour throughout my time in Canada. Ohh the sweet maple-y taste of Maple Leaf cookies; the peanut butter that is so good I snuck it straight from the jar; smoked salmon cream cheese dip; and even sushi pizza (don't ask - it sounds gross when described). But there was one flavour that outdid them all. No - it was not the plastic orangeness of 'cheeze whizz'. It was Baskin Robbins' cookie dough ice cream. It was simply symphonic.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Riding the 'Maple Leaf Express'

I like trains. Anyone who knows me well knows this fact about me. So it was with a small bubble of excitment that I boarded a train at Penn Station, New York; bound for Toronto, Canada. A mere 12 hours away. Coffee, bagel and New York Times in hand, I was prepared.

The autumnal colours were beautiful as we followed the river north. Early morning cloud hung low over the water with picture perfect houses peeping through occasionally.

Tom -the Londoner kept me entertained with stories of being hit on by naked cowgirls in Times Square, and he bought us snacks with the $100 bill he found in the back of a taxi on his way to the station that morning. We celebrated crossing the border into Canada with high fives, hot dogs and Canadian beer.

The Canadian immigration officer was so cute I tried to stuff him in my bag, which was unfortunately too full of clothing to fit him. I just wanted to keep him so everytime I opened my bag he would pop out and cry 'Welcome to Canada' in his perky blue-eyed way.

Friday, 16 November 2007

28 hours in Tahiti

What does one do for 28 hours in Tahiti? Not a lot I discovered. Tahiti is indeed couple paradise. Why would anyone in their right mind travel here by themselves? There is nothing to do except walk hand-in-hand along the beach or argue over whether to go sailing or shopping.

Papeete is the entry city to the islands of Tahiti. Admittedly the other islands looked stunning from the plane, but Papeete was deathly quiet, dull and a little unnerving.

So what did I do? Swim, read (an entire book) and get consumed by a tirade of bulimic mosquitoes.

The local beer (Hinano) proved to be quite nice, and the supermarket was cheap entertainment. A small baguette, a large chunk of edam and a papaya made for a good dinner.

My usual travelling paranoia was tripled when my airport pick-up was half an hour late. Simply because I feared I might have to spend another night in this paradise-hell. Fortunately my friendly driver arrived and I was joyfully whisked away to the airport.

See ya later Tahiti. Good beer and baguettes. But unnervingly quiet for a singleton city girl like me.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Leg one - Auckland-town

Where Wellington is the dysfunctional 20-something, Auckland is all grown up. It is a city coloured with terracotta, tea and biscotti, pushing 4WD pushchairs, drinking lattes from takeaway cups. It is white shirts and pinstripes, shiny cars and brunch in leafy suburbs on the weekend.

It is an inbetween city - Auckland. It is not small and quirky like Wellington, or massive and crazy-cool like Tokyo. It sits somewhere inbetween the two - its hand waving in the air, frantically fighting to be noticed. Too big for the kids table, not quite mature enough to sit with the grown ups.

But on a super sunny Saturday (dressed in shorts and t'shirts), I saw a different side of this biggest city of ours. From the top of Rangitoto island we were witness to the city's true beauty. From every angle, as far as we could see, it was islands and penninsulas, rimmed with lines of white sand beaches and aqua coloured ocean.

Thanks for the send off Auckland. You're a bit of alright really.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Lady Sleep

She can be a beautiful thing, that lady of sleep. She will sit next to your bed, brush the hair away from your face; tuck the covers around your chin. She will hum sweetly to you as you make your way through your dreams.

But when she is feeling temperamental she will stand in the corner, back against the wall, arms crossed. There she will stand, hiding in the shadows; peering at you out of the edge of her eye, drumming her fingers on her forearm.

We have had a rollercoaster relationship of late, Lady Sleep and I. It seems that, sometimes, there is simply nothing I can do to persuade her out of her foul mood. And so we each stare into the night time murkiness, listening to the thud of the alarm clock's second hand.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Snail Superwoman

The torrents of rain we have been suffering here in Wellington have had numerous side effects. My car smells like a wet sock. I have a collection of five pairs of wet trainers gathered at work, sitting by my heater. Daylight savings has allowed us to enjoy the long, light evenings. From inside.

Luckily there seem to be some enjoying the endless water. And noone loves the damp more than my favourite one footed friend, the snail. I have been spending an inordinate amount of time relocating these rather adventurous gastropoda from the most bizarre of locations. One almost met an ugly end on our work's automatic door. I guess it is only a matter of time until the slugs start rearing their heads. Somehow something is a whole lot uglier without a shell...

I vaguely remember it being sunny for an hour or so, yesterday morning. Thank god that passed. I was almost feeling somewhat uplifted for a while there. Phew. Back to a nationwide cloud of depression.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Last Friday for the Tasman Street Massive

It is a funny little Wellington I live in. This little biosphere of intelligent people making their way in the wind.

I heard an interesting statistic the other day. It may just be hearsay, but most of the interesting ones are anyway, aren't they?
Apparently there are seven single women in Wellington for every one single man. My first thought that came to mind was 'where is this one single man?'

I can easily identify the screaming hordes of single women, but the single man? Perhaps he is at the bottom of a pile somewhere. If you peel all the single women away, he will be cowering at the bottom. Or has been driven into hiding by the constant and incessant harassment from seven single women.

Today is our last Friday in 74a. It has been a great ride with my beautiful flatmates. Tomorrow we go our separate ways. Off for more wonderful adventures. I'll miss the red wines, the cups of tea, the condiments and our insanely good shower. I'll miss stealing your products in the bathroom, and I'll miss hearing the late night music drift through the walls.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Fifth to last Monday of work

I'm cursing daylight savings for at least the next hour or so, simply because it made me haul my arse out of bed at what was really 5.20am this morning. My two coffees had zero effect on me whatsoever. This troubles me, because I begin to wonder if I might have to up my intake to 3 coffees. And that is unchartered waters.

This day in six weeks time I will be (hopefully) still aloft in my Air Tahiti Nui plane, bound for NY. Bagels, museums and fat, intelligent newspapers await.