Monday, April 30, 2012

Autumn Amendment

In an earlier post I commented that there was no more glorious autumn offering than feijoas. I have had a week or two to reflect on this, while still enjoying those delicious wee delights. I would like to amend and broaden the list of tasty treats that one re-visits in this autumn season - it's a tied finish.
Buttercup pumpkin - dry and flavousome. No other pumpkin is worth the bother.

Persimmons - allowed to truly ripen until they are a mushy goo in consistency.

Feijoas - why are we the only country that seems to appreciate these?

Taylors Gold - the king of pears.

Fresh walnuts - long enough off the tree to be dry, but no longer.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Supermarket Pondering

The one thing I didn't like when I moved to Petone was the local supermarket. It is the same chain as I used in the Hutt, but the layout was different and it just didn't feel right. I have stuck with it because shopping local makes sense, but have always felt a little cheated and that life would be much simpler if every supermarket was required to have identical layouts and product placements. Today I visited a friend and as I needed to get a few bits and pieces on the way home I ceased upon the opportunity to shop in the old place. It was ghastly. The once familiar was foreign. I will not venture there again. My conversion to the Petone lifestyle is complete.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Getting the fire surround for the dining room, while very pleasing, made the lack of one in the living room all the more noticeable. The previous owner had used the chimney breast there as a temple to electronics - shelves for various players, multiboxes to power them, channels for every conceivable cabling configurement and then for good measure slapped on a wall mounting for the television to be attached to. This was the focus of the room, but no more. With the help of great friends, the latest TradeMe purchase was collected last night - this was no mean feat as the hearth was exceeedingly heavy. I am very happy with the new look. The television has been banished to a corner and no longer dominates the room. The room is looking very cosy as the rimu glows in the afternoon light. Another deeply satisfying project.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ANZAC Day, 2012

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
Lest we forget,
We will remember them

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Winter Look - It's a Fine Line

The weather is staying delightfully fine and mild, but when the inevitable turn to chilly days arrives I am ready.
Last year's boots have been re-heeled (new ones drooled over but not in the budget) and tights purchased. But then comes the trick of co-ordinating the rest of the look.  I see a lot of people in the malls who imagine they look like this ...

... but actually remind me more of this ...

... or this.

Such is the great melting pot that is a Westfield mall.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Well Said, Dorothy

Nothing better illustrates the truth in the statement that magically took Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz than calling in to a few open homes.
After a pleasant lunch in the sun at Go Bang and a stroll around Jackson Street, a series of open homes presented themselves on the homeward journey. As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm seriously into things retro and kitsch. But there is retro-cool and retro-ohmygod. At one house, the combination of brown, wall to wall shag-pile carpet and the pervasive smell of damp mould was head spinning. I can almost understand living with renovation nightmares from the 70s and 80s (although when these are crimes against old villas the perpetrators should be shot) but how do people live in a musty atmosphere on a daily basis? One sniff and my head starts aching. Getting home was literally a breath of fresh air - be it ever so humble, there really is no place like home.

On another note, the short-lived Cupcakery has been replaced by a french-style crepe place. Looked and smelled good in passing. Like the name!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Product Perfection

I have long wanted one of these apple peeler/corer/slicer machines and earlier in the week I hit 'Buy Now' and eagerly tracked the progress on-line as my purchase moved through the courier system from Christchurch. This has to be the most brilliant invention ever. It looks great and it works way better than I had hoped. I have a penchant for pork (free-range 'Freedom Farms') but find the accompanying stewed apple tedious to prepare. This brilliant machine has it all done in under 30 seconds. Look at the tidy core, the spiral of peel and the perfection of the slicing - this is more than a kitchen gadget, it is a work of art.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What a Difference ..

 ... a day makes to one's finances. I had a lovely day in town yesterday - from Capital Gateway to Courtenay Place a comprehensive survey of shopping possibilities plus lunch at Kirks.

 Iko Iko and other delights in Cuba Mall.
 Thank goodness there still exist real book shops like Parsons in Lambton Quay, or Unity books above - it's almost obligatory to make a purchase to ensure they prosper.
Another happy shopper spotted enjoying the day - possibly another incarnation of Spot?

I was actually there in a support capacity for a friend who was after new winter boots. She tried on many pairs in many shops, but it was me who bought some and a few other items here and there. No worries, it was pay day - what could go wrong?
As of 9:30 this morning the car has a new warrant and, not wanting to feel left out of the shopping, is sporting two new tyres. All shopping (and possibly eating) will now cease for a fortnight!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Keeping Up Appearances

Snapped this letterbox while strolling around Eastbourne on Sunday. Even though it was an ordinary block of flats, with particularly distressed letterboxes, at least one resident was setting the standard suitable for the suburb. It must be comforting to know that one possesses the very highest standard of junk mail. No tatty flyers that might be distributed to the riff-raff in Petone or Wainuiomata. I'm sure they sleep better at night.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the Provinces

Autumn turned on some spectacular weather today for my visit to family in Woodville. Normally I go up the coast and turn off at Levin, skirting Palmerston North and through the Manawatu Gorge. For quite a few months, and well into the foreseeable future, the gorge has been blocked by this ...

... so for this trip, not wanting to use the Saddle Road or Pahiatua Track diversions, I went the alternate way. It was a very relaxing drive over the Rimutakas and through the Wairarapa. The autumn colour was spectacular and each town from Featherston through to Pahiatua seemed bustling and prosperous.  There are so many beautiful, historic homes and buildings to admire. Life looks good in the provinces. Just wish I'd had room in the car for some of the gorgeous oak furniture in the Woodville shops - amazing prices! I will definitely do the next visit via this route again.

For a real appreciation of just how massive the work is to restore the gorge, take a look at this video. The earth moving equipment is tiny by comparison. Transit have an interesting blog detailing progress as they create shelves from the top down.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I See Dead People

Well, actually, dead dogs - well, one dead dog. I definitely saw Spot, the Telecom dog as I was walking through Alicetown.  I'm not a doggy person (they are all into power and control, not like we gentle cat folk - but that's a post topic for some other day) but I always enjoyed the antics of wee Spot. Which set me pondering about ads and how much I miss Goldstein.

The Goldstein series of ads were absolute crackers. ASB decided the run should come to an end and have a new television campaign - I have no idea what this might be because it clearly hasn't been memorable in any way.
Other attempts have been made at these on-going storyline approaches but I'm afraid the Countdown family and Wilson the Lotto dog do not reach the levels of engagement that Spot and Goldstein acheived.

But for those nostalgia buffs you cant't beat Hugo - and so many of us mature folk can still sing it with gusto when required!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Week With Marilyn

An enjoyable movie, particularly so as it's a true story and an interesting one. I must check out 'The Prince and the Showgirl' to see the scenes in the original movie, the filming of which was the backdrop for this story. Go see it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Meaning of Life

Holidays are a great time to slow the pace and reflect on life. It's a minor miracle that mine is so satisfactory, because holidays also allow one to peek into an alternate universe where people just like you and me lurk. There in daytime television land there are possessions which apparently are essential to own. Heavens knows how, but against all the odds I've managed to reach tricky spots, clean my floors, get a good night's sleep and feel fully supported without any of the following items.

And then there's the exercise equipment - my abs, butt and thighs would just not cut it in this brave new world. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tick, Tick, Tick

No, not a bomb. Just me working through my list of holiday goals. Having had lots of busy fun as I potter. The car is registered, the hair is cut, two very productive days spent at school, quality dressing gown mornings spent mooching, gardens tidied, freesia bulbs snug in the ground,

a trip into town this afternoon to submit the passport forms (Why take a car when it's so hassle free to 'snapper' there and back  from Petone),

SweetPea high tea for a birthday celebration today - wonderful as always.
Dinner out tonight, a morning catch-up and an evening movie tomorrow. People still to see and a wee road trip planned for next week. I often hear people say they would be bored if they didn't have a job. What sorry, strange and imagine-less souls they are. They are the same dullards that think $26million is just too much money to contemplate as a Lotto win. I'm happy in my work and am unlikely to be retiring before the age of 93 given the sad state of my savings - but should the big win come, neither time nor money will be a burden.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Just Not Natural to Be Happy

In an earlier post I discussed the merits of a holiday at home. Nevertheless, having an expired passport is a situation that makes one feel unnecessarily trapped. Next holiday break it would be nice to think that Collins Street, Petone ranks at the top against both domestic and international possibilities. Tomorrow is the day designated for completing the form and dispatching all the necessary paperwork to Internal Affairs. I have started the process, including ascertaining my height to the nearest centimetre and deciding on an eye colour. Now that a camera and computer are going to judge whether I seem likely to be the person on the 'smart' passport I will carry, these need to be spot on. Any old photo is not good enough either. I have had to make sure I'm not wearing heavy framed or reflective glasses,  that my burqa is not covering too much of my face and I am posed in front of a suitably light background. The #1 instruction for photos though is to have a 'natural expression'. On the instructions they show a picture of a happy chappy with a big red X - a smile is not a natural expression. Actually, it would be nice to think the powers that be hoped happy faces would be the default setting for the population, but in the interests of a smooth application process I have had one taken looking suitably glum and dazed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jesus Christ Superstar

Easter always seems the right time to view the DVDs of this great show. I see in YouTube there are discussions about the relative merirts of the original 1973 movie and 2000 DVD remake. Personally, I like both. Carl Anderson (RIP) was an amazing Judas but I love Jerome Pradon, too. I like the raw setting of the later version, but the spectacular natural scenery from 1973 was fitting. I've seen the show on stage at least three times - every interpretation, set and choreography has been wonderful. It's a just a great show. Anyway, here is one of my favourite songs in each movie for comparison - you choose!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Autumn Ponderings on Fruit and Vegetables

When I was a child I often accompanied my mother on trips to the green grocer. His name was Hop (possibly Hop Ngan Kee, but I need to consult on that) and he always greeted her as a friend. and I think she viewed him the same way. He had a shop in Guyton Street, just off the avenue - the photo below shows Victoria Avenue in the mid-fifties, and very much as I recall the shops in Wanganui looking well into the sixties. Mum never chose her fruits and vegetables herself. She told Hop her needs and he carefully selected for her from boxes labelled as 'choice eating' or 'best fresh' and similar phrases. She totally trusted that the quality would be unfailingly excellent. Hop would later deliver the week's shop to the house.

I think one of the charms of living in Petone is that it often sparks memories of times gone. The quirky old houses, the Jackson Street shops - all reminders of it's proud, working-class history, which in turn take me back to my own childhood. I remember once asking my mother if we could buy some walnuts from a shop in the avenue and it was explained to me that only Hop would do, and failing that only the Chinese could be trusted to really know and retail quality in fruit and vegetables. Today I called into just such a shop in Petone. Near the Bolton Street corner is an old fashioned chinese green grocer. The quality is superb and the prices reasonable. He can be relied upon to have a small box of avocados just at the peak of perfection for immediate use - not a veritable mountain of rock hard ones or stack of near molten ones such as the supermarkets specialise in. But the best buy today was a big bag of feijoas for $3. Is there a more glorious autumn fruit? I think not!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Are You Doing For the Holidays?

This is a question I have been asked a lot in the last couple of weeks - and now the holidays are here. The fact is I'm not doing anything vastly different from what I do much of the time. I have a life that feels like a holiday just about every day. I live in a nice wee house in a vibrant suburb by the sea. It's been a busy term, but I work with fun people doing a job I enjoy. The holidays will be a welcome break from the alarm clock and give me more time to walk, read, catch a movie, garden and catch up with friends. I don't have any need to go away - I love being where I am, doing exactly what I do. So I reply to the question, "I'll just potter around home." Life is good.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On the Buses

I have never been a great fan of New Zealand television, mainly because it never seems real. Even serious drama uses the most ludicrous, exaggerated accents that have always seemed more caricature than character in nature. Many speak like Billy T James did in the early 80s, which at the time I always considered a comedy voice peculiar to just him. Clearly, I now realise, I have led an extremely sheltered life. Now that I travel on the buses, I hear a more and more pronounced kiwi vernacular used by ordinary looking people participating in everyday conversations. They are not trying to sound like amusing yokels, this is their genuine accent. Today there was an animated discussion by two middle-aged women. One was apparently in possession of new Ahh Bras, which she now regretted as she hadn't 'aksed' how the sizing worked. How does this simple word get so butchered? People seem able to say 'mask' and 'task' with no bother - how does 'ask' become 'aks'? The modern child can hear no difference between 'here' and 'hair'. The subtleties of pronunciation are disappearing fast. Apparently language is a living thing which must change over time - I wish it would stop, and go a liitle retro!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Prime Rocks

I watch increasingly less of the TVNZ channels. Prime and 4 have some great stuff, as do UKTV and the wonderful Living Channel. Monday nights on Prime see some excellent rock docos. Last week and this it's been The Who. I love this group. They have made so much amazing, ground-breaking music.

''Behind Blue Eyes is a brilliantly beautiful composition.

I love 'Who Are You', and watching them in the studio in this video their talent, energy and craft simply shine. Keith Moon just goes wild - so sad that his fire didn't burn anywhere long enough.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

That Falling Feeling

It's well before 7 o'clock in the evening and already dark. For the first time this year the curtains are pulled. They weren't pulled last night at 8, but tonight it just feels different. It's sad to bid summer farewell, but I look forward to waking in the morning. On Friday I set off walking in the dark. Tomorrow it's back to the light. Another stunning day after morning cloud. May our benign autumn continue to send it's glorious days. Oh, and just four working days until the holidays begin ... tee hee hee.