Friday, 29 January 2010

Books to read before I'm 30 - Book five

'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams

It was a tough call to decide whether my favourite character was Marvin the Paranoid Android or Zem the mattress, who appeared in the third book of in the five-part trilogy.

'No one really knows what mattresses are meant to gain from life. They are large, friendly, pocket-sprung creatures that live quiet, private lives in the marshes of Squornshellous Zeta. Many of them get caught, slaughtered, dried out, shipped out and slept on. None of them seems to mind this and all of them are called Zem.'

Marvin met a mattress called Zem when he was left on the planet Squornshellous Zeta and eventually got his false leg stuck in a swamp and spent the next 1.5 million years walking around in a circle.

This series is outstanding hilarity. Douglas Adams is right up there with Terry Pratchett in the rankings of science fiction comic genius.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Out of my comfort zone - number 3

Get some therapy

Everyone is doing it these days. Therapy is all the rage. But for me, talking about myself to some stranger in a small room with banal decor made me want to be sick. So I did it.

And you know what? Talking about yourself to some stranger in what was a little yellow room actually got easier after a few weeks. And rather than making me feel crazy, she made me feel more normal. Guess she has seem some fruitcakes in her time though. I was probably quite dull for her.

Our relationship didn't last a long time though. Who needs to pay for therapy when I have such wonderful housemates who still listen to me for free.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Books to read before I'm 30 - Book 4

'Small Wonder' by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara stole my heart with her beautiful novel 'The Poisonwood Bible' so I had a good feeling about Book 4 when I stepped into Unity Books, Wellington to try and find it.

It was the third bookshop I'd entered, but Unity is a very special place and I had faith that if it was a quality book, then it would be on a shelf in there somewhere. Unity is the kind of bookshop which makes me feel like a dog that's just been let of a leash in a park. I want to run madly about the place, rolling in interesting things.

Anyway, back to Small Wonder. This is a collection of essays written by Barbara not long after the September 11th disaster. However, far from being nationalistic, she brings a wonderful balanced view on everything from terrorism to vegetable gardens and eating beef.

Just like my wonderful auntie Annette, being around Barbara makes me want to be her.

This is my new bible. Everyone should read this book. Whether you are pre-30 or not.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

2009 - the debrief

I'm stealing a bunch of questions from a very excellent blogger because I liked the idea of a 2009 executive summary. Then I'll fold the year up and pop it at the back of a drawer somewhere.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Watched the first Indiana Jones film; swam in the Atlantic Ocean; cooked a nine course dinner; read Lord of the Rings

2. What countries did you visit?

Netherlands, New Zealand, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Ireland

3. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

Job security

4. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The morning I woke up to discover I had a new niece. And promptly burst into tears.

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


6. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Just a gammy knee and a cold that gave me a jazz singer voice for a week.

7. What was the best thing you bought?

Probably Hazel, my new netbook. She's great.

8. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My sister Nicki, and friend Rachel who both had their baby count double, and both stayed standing; My housemate Elly, for being her super strong self; a bunch of people I work with for being amazingly resilient

9. Where did most of your money go?

See question two

10. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Moving from our slum into our beautiful, magical house; getting my new UK visa

11. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Nice stuff for other people; some random acts of kindness; patchwork and other crafting; preserving of food; writing

12. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Making people redundant

13. What did you want and get?

A new house and a new job; a Leatherman Wave

14. What did you want and not get?

My Coastal Skipper's; the usual end to world hunger and war

15. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and did you make any for 2010?

Yes, I think I was marginally nicer to that very annoying woman. Well done me.

2010 = more studying, more crafting, more cooking, more saving, less spending.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A time for celebration

One of the main reasons I'm here in New Zealand right now is to celebrate the very beautiful relationship of two of the most wonderful people in the world, Phoebe and Shane.

Phoebe and I have shared many things. Primary school, high school, a flat in Cuba Street, a flat in Tasman Street and a night or two in a hotel room in Mumbai once.

I was there the moment she met Shane, and we all shared a house and many cups of tea and glasses of wine, after that.
So when I stopped into see the two of them at their house in Te Marua, almost a year ago, and they told me they'd decided to get married, I decided to do my best to make it.

Fast forward a year, and we are at Soulscape, an eco resort just outside of Raglan, NZ. Family and friends have gathered for the weekend to eat, drink, sing and celebrate.

The morning after arriving, I opened my eyes to the inside of a teepee. I could hear the ever-vocal Tui calling out across the valley, and see a small square of sunshine through the exposed point of the construction. A fly quietly hummed his way about inside, trying to find the exit.

The next evening I would find myself going to sleep to the call of the Morepork, and I could so vividly imagine him proudly squatting on a branch somewhere, keeping a keen watch over the night time landscape.

On Saturday afternoon we prepared the forest for the wedding, hanging bunting and lanterns, making salads and setting tables. It is the first wedding I've been to where the bride, in a very relaxed manner, decided to delay the ceremony by an hour because the groom was late back from a morning surf.

Before the ceremony, the women walked together through the forest to meet the men, who were waiting in the teepee clearing.

And then all 35 of us sat inside of the biggest teepee, with paper cranes hanging from the 'roof', as the couple exchanged poems, thoughts, and rings. And I sat the entire time, with a tiny continual tear squeaking its way out of my right eye.

The North Island from behind the wheel

Yesterday Jennifer and I returned from our road trip safe and sound. We saw some nice things along the way. Along with some terrible passing manoeuvres.

We even came upon a couple of crazy cycle tourers outside of Taumaranui, one of whom I am related to.

We fed them each a yo-yo biscuit, as we happened to have 36 of them in the boot of the car, and the two of them were battling a nasty head wind.

On our way home we drove straight from Hamilton, only stopping at Taihape for a sandwich and the world's most expensive chocolate bar.

After six and a half hours of driving, we pulled into the Ranch with once numb butt (mine), and a sore throat from shouting above the stereo (Jennifer's) but also some nice memories of the wind turbines peppered along the hills of the Manawatu Gorge; Mount Ruapehu wearing her coat of snow and hiding her face in the clouds; and the old school ham and mustard sandwich I had from Laura's tearooms in Taihape.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

'Head out on the highway....'

I'm off on a road trip. Just me, Dad's car (thanks Dad!), my ipod, and Jennifer. She is the woman that lives inside the GPS and will help me find my way from place to place.
Today I'm driving from Masterton, an hour and a half north of Wellington (southern yellow city on the map) and home of the Bramwell Ranch to Raglan, two hours south of Auckland (northern yellow city on map).
On my first leg, I'm planning on seeing: a few active volcanoes, a lot of forest, and a giant carrot. I was disappointed to hear there are no other 'giant things' on my route. Jennifer and I will probably be on the road for about seven hours today. Hopefully she doesn't start to annoy me.
Tomorrow is the day of the wedding. I have to say, I'm very excited to be going to a wedding where footwear is optional. After the celebration, I'm going to see where the wind (and Jennifer) take me for a couple of days.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I got a teeny bit intimidated when my mum rolled out the quilt she has been working on.

Best get stitching I think....