Well what a week! It’s been a beautiful week in Auckland with endless glorious weather and yet I was working. I can see the harbour from my office window and have had my desk turned round on purpose so that it is not too distracting but it just looked so fantastic and it did make it difficult to fully concentrate on the task in hand. I didn’t really mind working between Christmas and New Year given that I’d worked Christmas anyway and have time off in January and February. It can be quite productive working when there aren’t many other people there as you can get a lot done. It was my big aim to get my admin work done and my desk cleared in a mission to finally go paperless for 2018. That much I did achieve. As usual though, achieving anything was hampered by misfortune and ridiculous happenings.
My office is on a floor which we rent in a private office block across the road from the main building so I often spend all day walking back and for. These last few days I’ve mainly been cooped up in the office, decamping mainly to get coffee and lunch. On Wednesday, I managed to get locked out of the office by simply going to the toilet, which is in the stairwell, without my swipe card. I also didn’t have my phone so attracting attention was impossible and no amount of banging on the door would alert anyone and the staff simply weren’t there. I ended up having to go down the stairs, exiting the building and walking barefoot to the main building to use a computer to look up people’s phone numbers to get help. It took me more than 2 hours to get all this sorted out and made me feel even more of a saddo that I was in work but everyone else was at home enjoying themselves.
It’s not the first time I’ve been locked out of course. There was the recent incident when I couldn’t open the door between my garage and house so I slept in the car briefly before realising I had a spare key secreted away in the back of my handbag from the last time I’d been locked out and rescued it from the neighbours. Then there was the time I slept in the garden after losing my handbag in an Uber. We all know that that ended badly… Then there was an occasion at work when I got locked out in the very same toilet after hours while changing to go to a black tie event. That time I had my phone with me so called a colleague who lives close by. Little did I know he would arrive so quickly while I was still in my bra and pants!
Yesterday was my mate Big Li’s birthday. Big Li is my UK bestie. She’s not big but she occupies a big space in my life, hence her nickname. She called me Aitchie, as in HE for my initials. That’s just how it is. I miss her. It as an odd thing being so far away from family and friends and yet when you do meet up, it’s like you’ve never been separated. We’ve been friends since University days. It is strange to think our friendship rose out of the twist of fate of being randomly allocated to the same tutor group and so we were sent on attachments together. Big Li had a car and lived close by so would give me a lift. This was almost a ritualistic event in that I would wait at the end of the my street and she would stop only very briefly, fling the door open and I’d jump in hastily, all to ensure the car didn’t stall, especially on cold wintry mornings. The car was a Fiat Panda, very lovingly referred to as the egg box. There was always an assortment of cassette tapes strewn all over the floor and at least 3 locks that would be applied when we pulled up. There’d be the one between the gear stick and the hand brake. Then there two between the pedals and the steering wheel. This always seemed like a rigmarole to me, especially as I couldn’t imagine the egg box ever being stolen. Even thieves have standards… It was ages before I found out that these locks were all for show as Big L had lost the keys some years before. In recent years, Big Li and I have had some great trips with a mutual friend where have met up only briefly, usually when I have been somewhere closer to them for a conference. We have had just the best time. There were various escapades in Taipei when Big Li and I ended up eating (not very much) deer penis. Then there was Berlin where the three of us accidentally, yes accidentally, ended up at the poshest Michelin starred restaurant where we had the most fantastic degustation meal while Big L was dressed in jeans, C was wearing flip-flops and I hadn’t dried my hair. Most recently we had a driving holiday in Spain where Big Li and myself segwayed around Barcelona then drove to meet C further north. This involved Big Li taking sedatives to counteract her car sickness while I struggled with the left hand drive car, gears, motorways, the annoying Australian satnav man, all while she snored away in the passengers seat. One night we stayed in an uber-modern newly-opened hotel in Pamplona. While we sat sipping the obligatory cava proffered as a welcome drink, the receptionist started taking our fingerprints. It seemed somewhat unusual until she explained that they have no keys and this is how you get in to your room. What a marvellous idea. No more pitching up at reception as you’ve left your key in the room and slammed the door behind you. So, if a small hotel in Pamplona can employ such technology, why don’t we have that at home, at work and in the car? Surely it will come but I feel like I need it now! If I get locked out of anywhere else ever again, I think I may just never leave the house again. I’m certainly never going to the toilet at work again. I’ll buy a commode instead. Actually, I won’t as we have glass walls and no blinds but otherwise it would be very appealing.
On the cycling front, it’s been a mainly successful week. I’ve cycled the furthest I’ve ever been in one ride at 31 kms and it felt fine. Much of it was fun and I really did enjoy it. That’s about half of the average day’s cycling in Sri Lanka so I feel hopeful I can at least complete the trek. Hills are still a problem however. I asked a friend who does a lot of cycling for advice. At first, everything he said made sense: anticipate the hills, change down through the gears gradually, try to keep momentum up. Then he used the word cadence and the rest of the conversation was white noise. He may as well have been speaking in Swedish. Actually, maybe he was speaking in Swedish?
I pimped my ride yesterday with a bell, phone carrier so I can pick up GPS and a mirror. I even bought a lock so that I can tie up my bike while I go in a shop or cafe. Presumably next week I will be telling you that I forgot the combination and had to abandon my bike… The bell and the mirror have become absolute necessities because there are some really stupid people out there. I have been cycling on this shared cycle pavement with very clear marking as to which lane is for cyclists and which is for pedestrians but it seems that this is too difficult for the average pedestrian to understand. I feel I’ve cycled enough to now understand the biggest hazards:
- Tourists – these are also usually the quickest to jump out of the way when you shout at them
- Beautiful people who stroll – these people never move. They would rather be run over than step aside. They are entitled to the whole pavement
- Couples walking hand in hand – also very unlikely to move and usually the male gives you the evils
- Dog walkers – why is it the poor dog that has to walk in the cycle lane while the owner has the pedestrian lane? Usually they are quickly pulled out of the way and there is often a smile as well
- Mercedes – obviously if you own one of these you can park it where you like. Even on the pavement. Even on the cycle pavement
- Rolling skating adults – I just don’t get adults on roller-skates. They never move out of your way as they are usually uncoordinated, totally out of control and only milliseconds away from falling over
- Prams – I hesitated to write babies but it’s not their fault that their parents seem so incapable of driving their carriages in a straight line in the correct lane. Why expose your baby to the risk of the cycle lane? I’ve lost count of the number of babies in prams I’ve encountered who have been parked in the cycle lane while their harassed parents stress over and tend to an unruly toddler. Please don’t do it. Keep your babies safe
Do enjoy my video where I explain more details of the lock out. It is New Year’s Eve tonight. I hope you all have a fabulous evening. I plan an afternoon cycle and then a party with friends. Take care everyone, take your keys with and keep them on you at all times… xx
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