Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The dirty reality

Sometimes looking in on the lives of others, the world can seem pretty rosy. All those people that have things that you don't have, with their shiny, happy lives.

But more and more I'm starting to realise that if you scratch the surface, there are a lot of people who, despite having all those things that you think you want, are missing so much other stuff.

There is way too much heartbreak, disappointment, and sadness in this world. And every day I go without it touching my life, I should be pleased for. Rather than wishing for something that perhaps doesn't really exist.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Ten things I hate about you

I think most Londoners would say they have a love / hate relationship with this city. She's like a slightly irritating friend who can sometimes be lots of fun; you just can't spend every waking moment together.

The other day in the shower (well-known as life's best thinking location) I started making a list of the ten things I love, and the ten things I hate, about London.

Ten things I love about London:

1. There is ALWAYS something to do here

Whether it's bunking off work to go to Wimbledon for the afternoon, or getting free tickets last minute to see 80s legends Duran Duran, London never, ever leaves you bored.

2. I could go out with my pants on my head and no one would give me a second glance

Here's me off to Sainsbury's in my jim-jams. Note completely dis-interested woman to the right

3. Beautifully crisp, bright, sunny winter days which wake you up the instant you step outside

4. The vast green spaces which go on for miles. Richmond Park is so big that entire families of deer very happily run wild there

5. A few days a year London gets covered in snow and goes all quiet and magical

6. On a sunny day in London, life moves outdoors. Public spaces are filled with picnickers, BBQs, frisbee and rounders. The supermarkets run out of charcoal, sausages and beer, as we all lie around and soak up the much needed vitamin D

7. You can hear tens of languages just on a quick trip to the supermarket

If I can be bothered to jump on a bus for five minutes away from the yummy mummies and head to Brixton Market, I can buy everything from plantain to pigs heads. London is like the world shrunken into a 600 square mile area.

8. Living the past, present and future

Whether it's having a pint in a pub that's been around since before the English even thought of New Zealand; being part of a Royal wedding, seeing riots in action; or walking past a billboard which is so high tech it can actually recognise whether you're female or male, London lets us live the past, present and the future every day.

9. The 'wildlife'

I love that my neighbourhood is alive with seemingly dozens of sneaky foxes who are remarkably nonchalant about sharing their homes with a bunch of lumbering humans.

10. 'Living in a material world, and I'm a material girl'

London is filled with beautiful stuff, and lots of it. Vintage clothes, pretty crockery, antique bags, gorgeous prints, duck-egg blue velvet chairs like this one..... I love to look at it all, touch it, and occasionally buy some of it.

Ten things I hate about London:

1. 18 hour city - Public transport pretty much stops around midnight aside from night buses which can be so infrequent it's virtually daytime before one comes along

2. Pollution - There's something disconcerting about how black your legs go in summer after time walking in London, and just how black the snowman leftovers go as they slowly melt into the grass

3. Tourists - you walk slowly, stand on the left of the escalator, stop in the middle of the footpath of Oxford Street to look at your map/phone/bawling child... Please stay out of my way when I'm trying to get somewhere

4. There's ALWAYS something to do here, but the good things ALWAYS sell out instantly

Blink and you'll miss those tickets to the ballet/De Vinci exhibition/Olympics/Olympics warm-up series etc.

5. Filth
- Although I'm told that London is a lot cleaner than it used to be, I still struggle to suppress the rage that bubbles up inside of me as I watch people blatantly discard their crisp packets wherever they please

6. A distinct lack of sea
- And no, the Thames doesn't count. The other three places I've lived as an adult (Wellington, Sydney, fishing village in Japan) were all smeared along a coastline. The ocean gives me energy and soothes my soul. My walks to work along the waterfront when I lived in Wellington, and the apartment in Sydney which looked out over a marina, are two major highlights of my life.

7. Celebrity-ness
- There are a lot of people famous for doing not a lot in this country. That annoys me. I'd like to put the paparazzi in this category too. Don't get me started there.

8. Rudeness
- This comes with the caveat that there are both wonderful and horrible people everyone, but when it comes to situations like getting on and off the tube quite a few people in London are most definitely rude. I currently have a bruise on my left foot when some woman planted her hoof on me as we were stepping onto the Northern Line. Even a loud 'ouch' didn't initiate a response from her.

9. High Street and mall madness
- Walk from one end of Oxford Street to the other and you feel a bit like you're on a loop. Once the same ten stores have finished, they come around again. Westfield has taken over this city and is trying to not so slowly suck the life out of all the lovely independent shops.

10. The Daily Mail and such like
- Coming from a country where a newspaper is what you read if you want some relatively impartial views on what's going on in the world (well, just in New Zealand really) to arrive in this city and be bombarded with 'newspapers' like the The Sun, The Daily Mail and News of the World (God rest its soul) has been a real eye-opener. It's the media, but not as we know it. For those unaware of delights of the Daily Mail, check out this headline generator. What's horrifying is not the supply, but that there's a demand for this filth.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

2011 debrief

Better late than never, here's my annual debrief:

(and here's last year's, and the year before in case you're interested)

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Had a hysterical breakdown in the Board room with snot and tears flying everywhere; went skiing; rode a bike in London; watched (half of) the Superbowl; campaigned for a political party; went to proper European Christmas markets (not the phony British variety).

2. What countries did you visit?

New Zealand (for pleasure), Austria (for cake and Christmas markets), France (for a marathon), Spain (to learn Spanish) and Germany (for work and sausages).

3. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A masters, a life.

4. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Being one of thousands of people squashed into Westminster Cathedral to remember those in Christchurch. Then being one of thousands of people squashed into Hyde Park a couple of months later to watch Kate and Will tie the knot.

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving a hellish year at work with (most of) my mental health and self-respect still intact. That was definitely tougher than running 42kms in the blazing Paris sunshine.

6. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Once again, illness-free. Aside from the week I lost my voice and had to squeak my way through days of interviewing.

7. What was the best thing you bought?

Flights with Korean Airlines all the way to New Zealand.

8. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My housemates, as per usual, for being voices of reason, the bearer of calm and soothing words, and making cups of tea when necessary. My wonderful auntie for both helping me through a terrible research methods assignment and making the New Years Honours List, all in one year. And all those in my life who suffered heartache and trauma but just kept on going.

9. Where did most of your money go?

Once again, ever-more expensive university fees; paying off considerable portions of my student loan; too many books from Amazon; and a long trip to New Zealand.

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

Surprising my parents on Christmas Eve and being in New Zealand for Christmas. Sometimes I thought I might pop a kidney I was so excited.

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

My masters research; actually finishing my book club reading (rather than consistently skimming the last 50 pages as I'm on my way there); going to the dentist; writing letters.

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

Working, stressing, moaning to my housemates.

13. What did you want and get?

Another marathon medal; a new job; a royal wedding; and visits from my family.

14. What did you want and not get?

A masters (curse you employer); any good at Spanish.

15. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and did you make any for 2012?

2011's resolutions were: even more studying (done, although not enough), learn Spanish (see above), write more letters (big fail), improve my tennis serve (again, big fail), pay off more student loan (success), and save some (well....some). Oh, and be with my family for Christmas (this I did do. And I even surprised a couple of them too).

2012's resolutions are: do an Olympic distance triathlon (gulp); finish my masters (finally); pay off my student loan; work less, live more.

NZ for Christmas

This Christmas just been I was in New Zealand. For the first time in five years I managed a summery festive season. It was great.

I got to hang out with the nieces....

And the nephew...

We drank excellent New Zealand beer in the sunshine on Christmas Eve. And Christmas Day. And Boxing Day.

On Christmas morning we shelled beans (cue Deliverance banjo)

And drank champagne.

The adults took a civilised dip in the pool...

And then rode their bikes.

We all watched Queenie...

And then shot stuff (cue Deliverance again).

Back in Wellington, we had supreme fush and chups and drank more beer.

And on another day, somewhere north of Wellington, I saw a defective (but quite cute) kiwi.

Thanks New Zealand. It was fun.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


A squirrel came to visit this morning. Even a hysterical squirrel fan with her nose pressed against the window didn't put him off doing his business in one of Kath's flower pots.

Then he was off again.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Coming soon...

A blog post. I promise.