F*** Off i’m Grounded again or maybe Friends Of Generosity? Fog, fog and fog

FOG, FOG and more FOG. The bloody stuff has scuppered my movements all week. Fog in Christchurch, fog in Auckland. Fog that’s spoiled travel plans, sunrises, visits to friends… Still, it can’t be helped. As sure as the sun comes up and down, we will get fog.

Summing up this week’s fog-related travel disasters would amount to a novel so here’s a very potted summary:

Monday

  • Unable to land in Christchurch due to fog
  • Circle Nelson for ages
  • Land in Wellington
  • Hang round on plane
  • Eventually end up in Auckland
  • Car can’t be be located
  • Offered and declined the offer of a red ute instead

Tuesday

  • Normal day at work – if there is such a thing

Wednesday

  • Fly to Sydney to attend half of a 2-day meeting on Thursday
  • Haven’t done the prep work for the meeting

Thursday

  • Got up early to do prep work for meeting
  • Meeting surprisingly good (isn’t it amazing how working to a deadline really focuses the mind?)
  • Flight home delayed
  • Text saying the following morning’s flight at 6.30am is “highly likely to be cancelled”
  • Move flight to 8.20am
  • Arrive at airport hotel at 1am
  • Bathroom light keeps flashing
  • Lose the will to live so rig up a temporary structure in the bathroom to block it out

Friday

  • Flagged breakfast to get an extra 1/2 hour in bed
  • Walk to domestic terminal
  • New flight cancelled
  • 2nd new flight cancelled
  • 3rd new flight cancelled
  • Offered the option to fly at 7pm or, maybe a 6 hour bus trip?
  • Decide to rebook for Saturday
  • Have another debacle getting car out of valet parking
  • Happened to notice that my original flight had departed on time at 6.30 am
  • Realise I could have gone to the Variety fundraiser ball this evening after all

Saturday

  • Get up early for a disastrous foggy sunrise en route to the airport
  • Flight cancelled x 2 again
  • Offered a flight in the evening again but no point going now
  • Came home via a cafe & a better view of at least a bit of sun
  • Spot a photo online taken of the wonderful Auckland sunrise this morning
Foggy sunrise
The most beautiful sunrise photo taken this morning by Jana Luo
  • Get another text – been rebooked on a flight at 11am! Great! Back to car to get to airport
  • Notice the app has me going to Christchurch…
  • Decide I’m never flying again
  • Come home
  • Lie down
  • Soak in bath
  • Open wine
  • Make a video

AND IT’S BEEN THE MOST FANTASTIC SPRING DAY EVER SINCE… See? It’s not just me is it? I really do live in a parallel universe sometimes.

In better news, the wonderful Laura sent me the most amazing crocheted delights for my tree art and my mate Amy took me out to finish the cheese. That’s right, cheese – done. 50 cheeses consumed. I feel a spreadsheet coming on…

Crochet
A beautiful parcel

There is no travel next week.

ENJOY YOUR WEEKENDS EVERYONE xx

 

 

Gems, eccentrics and a common household item which could kill you…

Every so often you have one of those days where you think to yourself “did my life really come to this?”

And so it was that I came to be on the phone for a very long time in the middle of a busy work day discussing the fact that my heated towel rails were not hot. My colleague was looking on, entertained by this interaction while I willed the caller to hurry a little in his explanations as my just heated lunch was rapidly going as cold as said towel rails. But, the more this went on, the funnier it became and the word “blog-worthy” crept into my mind.

Now, excuse me for sounding a little dim but I assumed that the use of the word heated in the name of said bathroom accessories implied that they would be hotter than just slightly warm. But no, they are meant to be like this. I could launch into an explanation here and now as to why this might be, but I won’t because I explain all in the videos which, even I think, are amusing.

Every so often you meet people who are gems and eccentrics. But while I might appear somewhat bemused by the explanations of David, the heated (or not so much) towel rail expert, I love people like him who really brighten my days with their being so passionate about what they do. In fact, I’ll confess to secretly wanting to be a gem and an eccentric. Maybe I already am one. And that would be absolutely fine.

Enjoy and please don’t forget that as you lie in your beds every night, I might have actively saved you from dying due to the perils of the heated towel rail… You can thank me later x

I haven’t done my dash with cycling yet

Last week saw the culmination of my fundraising efforts earlier in the year as I presented three lots of bikes to disadvantaged primary school children across Auckland. Never had I imagined that I would end up having so many bikes to donate that I would have to split them across schools and that it would take me one and a half days. I also never imagined I would end up meeting celebrities and being interviewed for Maori TV. 

http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/regional/new-bikes-kids-cycling-doctor

I can still remember clearly the moment I acquiesced to Tonya’s bribery, some might say demands, to sign up for the Sri Lanka cycle trek. It was a Saturday afternoon and we were in a cafe just along the road from her house as she was finally able to get out and about a little following her surgery. Three days prior I had escorted her to an oncology appointment where she was told she was dying. At some point I will write more about that day and the whirlwind of emotions that whipped up into a frenzy the moment Those Words fell from the doctor’s lips and which, to a large degree, still surround me. Needless to say, the impact of Those Words will be with me forever. 

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On the day in the cafe, the look on Tonya’s face when she asked me to do the cycle trek was the familiar one she adopted for serious requests – head on the side, a wry smile on her lips and a subtle wink which I now remember usually resulted in her closing both eyes. But behind those eyes, there was a much more compelling appeal which silently said “you must do this because I need you to do it”. I think I said “oh go on then” as I reached for my phone and pressed the link to sign up right there and then while Tonya ordered a gin fizz. She had not had an alcoholic drink in two months and I was momentarily more scared about carrying her home than cycling 460 kms in the Sri Lankan heat with a bunch of strangers and a celebrity. When I got home I was filled with instant regret and dread in equal measure. But, hey, compared to chemotherapy, it would be easy, right? 

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It wasn’t easy. Initially I couldn’t even wheel my rusty and dusty bike out of the garage as years of neglect meant the tyres were like pancakes. Even once my kindly neighbour had assisted by inflating them, I couldn’t remember how to get the wheel off to get it in the car to take it for servicing. The lovely Spanish man in the bike shop told me the only thing wrong with it was years of neglect, as he stared at the gizmo on the handlebars which told him I’d only ever ridden it for 29 kms. Later I would struggle to get the wheel on and off, fail to understand the gears and when to change them, worry about downhill cycling and braking and how to cycle in the rain. My paranoia kicked in and I fretted about my Sri Lankan cycling buddies. I persuaded myself I would be the oldest, youngest, fattest, slowest, least fit, most inexperienced, the only one to ride in the support vehicle and literally everything else in between. Yet, I really and truly enjoyed it, almost like nothing I’ve ever enjoyed before. Most people who know me will also know that I have struggled all my life to find a sport I enjoy. I quite like badminton but you need a partner. I love skiing but you can’t do that often. I loved kayaking for a while at University but the thought of doing an eskimo roll and the fear of drowning got the better of me. I really enjoyed training for the walk I did for ChildFund in Vietnam a few years ago but plantar fasciitis and hills got the better of me. But cycling was something else, a whole new level of sporting enjoyment which was so unexpected it literally punched me between the yes. The feeling of excitement as I learned to master the teeny tiny hill; the wonder of the first time I went along the Auckland waterfront with the beautiful blue waters hugging my side; even the thrill of my phone ringing while I was on call one Sunday afternoon and saying to the junior doctor “I’m just out on my bike” as though this sort of caper was now normal for me. 

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And Tonya loved it. She truly, completely and utterly loved it. Every day there would be texts enquiring about my progress, demands for photos of the bike, on the bike and with the bike and she would excitedly tell anyone who would listen of how she had so masterfully talked me into heading saddleward. There were detractors – lots of them in fact. Your bottom will never be the same again, they said. They told me that 460 kms was a long way, as though I had not figured this out for myself. Ditto for how hard it would be, so hard in fact that I probably wouldn’t finish. Possibly my favourite of all was the doom-mongerer who announced that if the distance, exhaustion, heat and humidity didn’t get me that I would likely succumb to diarrhoea. But in Tonya’s mind, failure was never a possibility. It wasn’t even slightly on the cards. If I expressed any doubt that I would manage it or even the merest disappointment with my progress, I was met with her infamous put-down of “idiot”. She was right of course. There was no way I would not do my utmost to finish it for her. I knew that she knew this and she knew that I knew that she knew. 

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I’d like to think that my capers on the bike during the last few months of Tonya’s life brought her some distraction from the awfulness of cancer and everything that entailed. When I was asked if I would fundraise as part of the venture, it was almost too much to think about along with training, working, studying, Christmas, helping Tonya in whatever way I could and all the other things going on in my life. But she was insistent. If I could raise $1000, that would be enough for 5 bikes for Variety’s Bike for Kids programme and she would be able to come with me to present them at a local school. She kicked me off with enough for a whole bike and then worked hard to promote me, telling all her friends about me, advertising my fundraising page on social media at every opportunity and even asking people to contribute in a memo to work colleagues with an update on her progress. Money started rolling in. People I didn’t even know contributed, and many of the messages that came via the donations page were intended for her rather than me. I knew that she’d be so excited while I was in Sri Lanka, eager for updates, regaling her fan club with tales of my inevitable mishaps. She started to order things to make pamper packs, just as she had for Vietnam and I secretly started to dread what little surprises she might have up her sleeve. I would go around to visit and she’d shoo me away after a few hours with a perfunctory “you’d best go out on the bike”. She bought me a cycling top for Christmas, replaced my favourite sunglasses when they got broken on a ride and put me in touch with a friend of hers who could help me understand the gears. I’m incredibly grateful for the latter as I read and re-read the advice and eventually the penny dropped and things clicked in to place.

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When Tonya died much sooner than she or any of us had anticipated, it goes without saying that I was devastated. I was gutted that such a vibrant and fruitful life had been cut short at such a young age. I was sad that she had so much more to achieve in her career and that she never got to do the research that she was planning. I was sad for her family, especially her sister Leila who lives so far away and had to travel here in a hurry and then home again with Tonya’s ashes. The days and weeks afterwards were a confusing riot of things to be organised and tasks to be done. In some ways I am grateful as it kept my mind from the inevitable adjustment to loss. 

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But not only had I lost my friend, I had this cycling trek still to do. It become bigger than Ben Hur. I wanted to do it and I needed to do it – for me and for Tonya. But I felt prostrate. I just didn’t know where the physical and mental energy would appear from nor how I could do it without her willing me on. But our lives are not one dimensional and people are incredible. I have many other friends and a wonderful family to nurture me. I asked for help and it miraculously appeared by the bucket load. My family and other friends rallied round. Tonya’s family and friends did the same. I felt engulfed by a massive fluffy comfort blanket of support. And I felt stronger. I would go to Sri Lanka with a renewed mental toughness and determination that I could and would finish the trek. 

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In the end, it was both harder and easier than I imagined. There were times when the hills were killers. I cried on the second day when I didn’t think I would make it to the end but I kept on keeping on for Tonya. Then when it all got too much and I felt almost physically exhausted by the heat, humidity and exertion, I suddenly heard her little voice allowing me to say yes to the offer of that tuk-tuk for the final 3 kms. “You’ve done enough for today and you’ll get to the pool and the drinks more quickly.” For the most part I was willed on by knowing how thrilled she would have been to see me progressing and finishing day after day with more cycling skills than I’d owned at the outset. I knew she’d have been both amused and bemused and so was I.

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So, excuse me for feeling emotional and bringing you on this self-indulgent trip down memory lane with me. Seeing the 69 children’s faces last week when they received their bikes was just heart warming. I work with children, as did Tonya and to do something so positive that promotes children’s health and wellbeing outside of work has been so rewarding. Both of us have witnessed the effects of social disadvantage, poverty and inequality in our work and anything we can do to lessen the impact of those to children in our area is well worth the effort. 

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I was going to take some of Tonya’s friends with me to the presentations. In the end, it wasn’t possible but it felt right that I was there completely surrounded by the children, their parents and teachers, the staff from Variety and the MCs at the events but feeling Tonya’s presence very much at centre stage. The interviewer from Maori TV asked me if she would have been proud. Yes, she would have been. She most definitely would have been. And so am I. When I think of all the things I have done in my life, especially in my career, I am more proud of the cycling than anything else. It still seems incredible to me that I was able to do it at a time in my life when I could just have caved in to sadness. To have been able to rise above that and put Tonya’s death in a more positive light makes me enormously proud. 

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I want to say two things. Firstly, thank you. To everyone who supported me by telling me I could do it when I really needed to hear it, thank you. To those who sponsored me, thank you. To those who provided practical support, thank you. To Anne for making sure that my bottom has in fact been saved the indignity of “never being the same again”, thank you. To Jean for outdoing Tonya on the pamper packs, thank you. To Jon for taking me to the airport when I was literally pooping myself inside, thank you. To Variety for giving me this opportunity, thank you. To Maori TV for showcasing me last week, thank you. To Sutton Park School, St Pius X School and Park Estate School for having me and hosting the presentations, thank you. To Simon Dallow and Antonia Prebble for MCing the events, thank you. To the children who received bikes, for being so adorable, ectastic and enthusiastic in your gratitude, thank you. To the Sri Lanka Seven, I never could have done it without you all. We have become friends for life. Every day in Sri Lanka was a total blast and I finished each day with more cycling skills and confidence than I could ever have imagined, all thanks to your advice, love and patience. Thank you all. And, of course, to Tonya, for making me do something I didn’t want to do, thank you. I signed up to it to help you but we could never have known then that it would help me so much too. I can’t get on my bike without thinking of you and your memory lives on in every two-wheeled journey I take. That is a fabulous thing. I mourn your passing and shed tears but I also smile and celebrate what you gave me. It is about more than the cycling of course. It is about remembering old friends, welcoming the new and it is about renewed energy in tackling the rest of life’s stuff without you.

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Lastly, this is not the end of my cycling venture. It is winter but I have carried on cycling. The Sri Lanka Seven rose again a few weeks ago with a fabulous day cycling around Auckland, out to Villa Maria for lunch and back again. This was topped out with a riotous party with Sri Lankan food, wine aplenty and presents. I now have my shiny e-bike sat charging in the garage and not far away is my recently acquired road bike which my mate Chris helped me buy. It is sat on a wind trainer so I can do some virtual cycling on Zwift when it is too wet or late to go out. When I finished the Sri Lanka trek, I felt a bit empty, as I did last week after presenting the bikes. My 50 Before 50 challenge was conceived to give me renewed focus. I have been entertaining myself consuming cheese and wine, visiting Monopoly streets, eyeing up my trees wondering how I will ever attach the knitted jackets my friends have been helping me create and, on a less self-indulgent note I have been enjoying handing out random acts of kindness. But, last week I realised I haven’t done my dash with cycling nor with fundraising. I think the Variety Bikes for Kids programme is a fantastic venture as it gives children who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity, the luxury of a bike to become more physically active and independent. Cycling wasn’t really recognised on my list of challenges and so I have swapped a few things round. 

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I plan to cycle the equivalent of 50 rides of 50 kms each, a total of 2500 kms. In doing this, I really hope to raise $10,000 to fund another 50 bikes. This has the added bonus of helping me achieve one of my other goals of getting to 50-something kgs which in turn enables me to walk down the street wearing only body paint. 

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All ideas for fundraising are welcome. Offers to cycle with me will be gratefully accepted. I hope that those of you who have been with me on this venture so far will stay close by my side. I know that Tonya will be there too.

With love and thanks to you all again.

xx

Sunrises, double cauliflower and being in trouble with friends

Sometimes I surprise even myself. If anyone had told me I would get to enjoy the sunrises, I would have thought them literally deluded. But, I am actually really loving them. Why? Well, there is surely nothing more beautiful than a bright orange sunrise on a clear day. Not all of my sunrises have been on clear days and you can’t plan them of course. Even if the weather forecast promises a lack of rain and full sun during the day, there is always a chance that Aotearoa New Zealand will live up to its nickname and the long white cloud will be on display along the horizon. But, there is always a colour change in the sky, even if the gorgeous ball of the rising sun can’t be seen in its full orange roundness.

But the beauty of the sunrise is about far more than its appearance. There is this amazing calm and sense of serenity that is not apparent at any other time of the day. Even driving or cycling to my chosen viewpoint is lovely as the roads are quiet. Then, for me, there is also a wonderment that our world is just so incredible. It doesn’t matter whatever else is going on in the world, the sun always rises and sets. Just as the world rotates and the tides ebb and flow, the sun is guaranteed to repeat this pattern every single day for eternity. But, unlike the world turning and the tide coming and going, you don’t necessarily always appreciate the sun rising and falling. Rain and clouds hide it. Sleep and activities mean you may not notice it. And so it has been for me for most of my life. A sleep-in and my love of the snooze button has always won over any inkling of getting up early. But now, I travel out for these sunrises and I feel almost evangelical about them. Standing on a deserted beach or a windy coastal lookout, I have at times felt absolutely freezing cold as though my fingers will drop off or be left behind in my gloves, but I have inevitably felt at my happiest for that day.

So far I have seen only eight of these wonders, each in a different place but only two accompanied by other people. I’d like to think I can continue to find different places to see them, which was never the intention but is now becoming a challenge in itself as time goes on. Of course they are now getting earlier due to the days getting longer again, a sure sign that the seasons rotate and time moves on but at least maybe an indication that I don’t need to almost sacrifice my fingers to the elements to continue my enjoyment of the day’s beginning.

Will I continue with the sunrises after the #50Before50 challenge ends? I’m never likely to fall out of love with a lie-in but certainly a well-timed sunrise on a weekend work day may very well become a habit I find hard to kick.

In other news, I have spent a day in Christchurch where, to my shame I have not been for a few years. It is always quite dividing for me. I feel a sadness that a city which was so beautiful and vibrant was so destroyed and with such loss of life by the cruel earthquakes. I feel even sadder that large parts of the city and some notable buildings remain ruined or derelict. Yet, I feel so uplifted and inspired by the resilience of the people of Christchurch. Some of the new buildings which have risen from the ashes of the former city are just wonderful – funky, modern, eye-catching. My friend Carol showed me around and so much has changed since I was last there. There is street art everywhere. The trams are back in action. The cathedral may still be in ruins but it is now going to be rebuilt. I saw the Transitional (aka cardboard) Cathedral which is probably the newest church I have ever stepped foot inside. Its simplicity is perhaps what defines its beauty but it is light, airy, welcoming and with a true sense of community which I have never witnessed before in a western place of worship. This is a truly modern church. I even made a donation by credit card as I had no cash! Elsewhere in the city, the dining scene is especially buzzing and we had some truly memorable food. The hip and trendy Hello Sunday; the crowded fantastic 2018 version of a food court that is Little High and many more which await my next visit. Now, I know people think I’m bonkers most of the time but believe me when I say that the double cauliflower I ate for breakfast (yes, breakfast) at Ilex, a great new cafe in the botanical gardens was one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a very long time.

In the video, I mention some other things which I’ve been up to, including a great review of Coco’s Cantina, a favourite #50Before50 Metro restaurant and also I share my hopefully misplaced fears about an upcoming girls’ weekend where I may just have set us all up for a disaster…

Do enjoy!

XX

Yoga, funerals, Madrid and head injuries

Hola!

Things have been quiet on the blog front. I’ve been so busy and I just haven’t been able to give it the attention it needed to sit down and type something constructive. But, I have been having fun.

Since my last update, I have been on a confroliday – part conference, part holiday. I set out for the UK, spent a few days with my lovely family and then moved on to Madrid. I am a bit of a sucker for Spain and all things Spanish. I met up with my besties for our annual catch up and my sister came for part of it too. After that, I went to a conference which was also in Madrid and was fortunate enough to have a good mate from the UK come to that too. In Madrid, I stayed at the craziest hotel, booked unintentionally but which turned out to be just the best choice.

In all, I had the most fantastic break and came back feeling really refreshed for the first time in ages. My #50Before50 challenges are going really well and I am making steady progress. In an effort to move ahead, I am going to post all the videos I’ve recorded over the last month here, and then start afresh with the blog from my next post. I have some thoughts saved up about sunrises, death, family and happiness. I really want to do them justice by taking the time to think about them and write some things about which I can be proud.

Although I say so myself, the videos are fun. The one featuring my friends and FAMILY is especially good, so if you only have time for one, that would be where to put your money.

Enjoy and adios! x

Yoga. I just don’t get it!

It’s been a busy few weeks and there doesn’t seem to be much let-up on the horizon but I wouldn’t want you to think I haven’t been getting on with #50Before50. In fact, I’ve made great progress. I know because my spreadsheet and graph say so. Yes, I am that sad. I love a great spreadsheet. Nothing makes me happier than creating new columns and making sure they’re all properly aligned and that the headers are all in the same font. Again, I really am that sad. I’ve calculated the rate at which I should tick things off if I did them at a constant rate and them compared this to the rate at which I’ve already achieved things and I’m well ahead of where I need to be! This is great as a) I need to be ahead so that when there are quieter times such as holidays or busy work periods that I do not fall behind and b) I imagine things will slow down. It’s relatively easy to drink wine and eat cheese but much more difficult to get to Antarctica and walk down the street wearing only body paint. Some of those things are going to need a lot of planning…

So, a little summary of where I’m up to:

  • White wines – 36 out of 50 drunk
  • Red wines – 16 out of 50 drunk
    • It’s definitely getting harder and not helped by having to exclude a few that I’d already counted because they looked like they were from a unique vineyard but actually there were just from a range with a different name from the same vineyard as another wine… It can be so complex that my head hurts! I won’t give anything away but the video explains a bit more about one of the wines…

      Wine
      I just love this photo of one of my wines – the barman was so happy to oblige. Taken at the Grand Mercure Hotel in Wellington
  • Metro restaurants – 5 out of 50 visited
    • This is not as easy as it seems either because the French Cafe is closing! Argh. My supper club is going there but on a day I can’t go. Who wants a cost meal for 2 with me there before it closes its doors? Top eatery so far was Ortolana – absolutely tip-top. Both Ponsonby Road Bistro and Amano scored highly but sadly they were let down by slow service.
  • Sunrises – 3 out of 50 seen
    • So it’s winter which means they’re later, but unfortunately that means there aren’t so many due to rain or clouds. A few weeks ago I got up for a faint pink hue over Rangitoto from Kohimarama Beach but last weekend was a real coup – a stunning orange ball over the Waitemata Harbour observed from Te Wero bridge at the Auckland Waterfront.
      lAt Kohimarama Beach for sunrise
      At Kohimarama Beach for sunrise
      Sunrise
      Sunrise over Rangitoto from Kohimarama Beach

      Waitemata Harbour
      Sunrise over the Waitemata Harbour
  • Random acts of kindness – 7 out of 50 completed
    • I’ve decided with these that I am not going to say much about them as the purpose is not to say “look how great I am, aren’t I just the most generous person in the world?” But they are progressing nicely, the recipients of the acts have been happy and I have been giving a little card with each one so that people can see what it’s all about. The cards seem to have caused as much excitement as the deeds themselves!
  • Nail colours – 4 out of 50 done
    • Mardi continues to choose my colours for me. I’m currently on Midnight Swim which is dark blue and glittery. I like it but my mate Jon says it makes me look like a vamp. I don’t think he meant it as a compliment.
  • Recipes – 1 out of 50 cooked
    • Well this was just stunning. I’ve long been a fan of Ottolenghi and generally his recipes are delicious and not too complicated to cook. I think of all recipes, I’m most happy making desserts so I purchased a copy of his book Sweet, co-authored with Helen Goh and I made the Beetroot and Ginger cake to take to a workshop I was attending which happened to fall on my birthday. Never before have I added vitamin C tablets to a cake but it kept the beetroot red and the cake was absolutely amazing. It was a definite 10 out of 10 from everyone who had a piece and was totally demolished in about 5 minutes.
  • Cheeses – 12 out of 50 eaten
    • Having decided that “eating cheese” shouldn’t just be a taste at a farmers’ market, I plumped for qualification being enough cheese to cover 2 crackers. Last weekend I was invited to friends’ for dinner. “I will bring the cheese” I declared. Four cheeses (three particularly delicious morsels from Over The Moon), 8 crackers, homemade quince paste and a delicious spread from Maggie Beer later and I felt like I would be ill. Never mind, one of the crackers sported a piece of camembert that looked like a penguin. Yes, I said a penguin.
  • Happy Birthdays – 14 out of 50 learnt
    • So I’ve done the obvious European ones. The last few I’ve added have been Asian languages. Man, it’s hard to get the pronunciation right. Have a listen here for the one in Mandarin and see what you reckon! As soon as I move on to a new one, I forget the last one. I think I’ll be going back to primary school and making flash cards.

      HB to me
      Happy Birthday to me!
  • Monopoly streets – 3 out of 26 visited
    • I have trips planned to Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin so that will be a few more ticked off. Getting round all of them is going to be a big big challenge, especially the 4 stations which are all a bit remote!
  • New things to see or do in NZ – 2 out of 49 done
    • No new ones since the White Lady Van but my mates Chris and Sarah have promised to take me to Whatipu next time the weather is nice on a day I’m not working. They have an old car (don’t tell them I said so) that they don’t mind driving on the gravel access road. I’m not so keen in my Italian-branded vehicle.
  • Tree art project – in progress
    • Here the progress has been great. I’ve chosen my trees and I know it will take a while to knit enough to cover the trunks but I’ve acquired some needles and wool from friends and charity shops and have started to knit a long colourful rectangle that I will eventually use to wrap around one of the trunks. How I’ll sew it onto the tree I have no idea but I’ll think of something. Some kind friends have already sent me some squares of knitting or crochet which they have contributed which will make this a very special project when it’s finished. I’m also saving buttons, ribbons and so on to add embellishments. I am genuinely excited about seeing the finished articles in a few months’ time.
  • Yoga – in progress
    • The video says it all. I just don’t get it. I do like that it helps flexibility and I’d love to be able to touch my toes again. I like that it helps with balance and not falling over so frequently as one gets older will indeed be helpful. I like the stretching, the quietness and to some extent it’s helping me relax and unwind. But, I don’t get all the stuff the teacher says. There’s all this stuff about “feeling the breath” and “breathing the movement”. Then the names of all the positions and the various different types of yoga. What is all that about? So, at the moment, I don’t know what to think. I wouldn’t say I don’t like it. I wouldn’t say I look forward to it either. I sort of feel like I should like it more than I do and so I feel bad saying that I haven’t fallen in love with it. On the other hand, I think that if I had been destined to fall in love with it then I would have stumbled across it before now. But, I’m being open-minded and I’m reserving judgement until I’ve been a few more times.

So that’s where I’m at! The yoga video is taken just after the first class – it’s a winner. The sunrise one is just short and was recorded on the beach so the sound is not great but it does at least prove I was up that early!

Adios!

Helen xx

 

 

Owls, sunrises and yarn-bombing

It’s been a busy few weeks. I haven’t known whether I’ve been coming or going at times and I have often thought I’d just quite like to spend a few days doing nothing. Still, the busy-ness keeps me from languishing and procrastinating or thinking too much about the sad events of earlier on in the year.

In terms of the challenges for my #50Before50 quest, I am making good progress in some areas and less in others. The wine drinking is coming along a treat and I have made steady progress with eating cheese and dining at Metro restaurants. One challenge I have not really tackled so far has been watching 50 sunrises. I happened to see three while driving to the gym before work but I feel a bit of a fraud counting these as they were incidental. And so it was that I managed to persuade my friends Jenny and Cate to force ourselves out of bed last Saturday to see the sunset from Te Mata Peak in the Hawkes Bay. The weather was not promising so we chatted on the way about whether it would count if we didn’t see the sun itself. We all agreed it would be fine as we weren’t about to admit we’d got out of bed at the unearthly time of 6.40am ON A SATURDAY only for it to not be allowed. Personally I would have been heartbroken. We needn’t have worried because it was totally amazing – just the best sunrise ever. Let’s remember I don’t really have a comparison as I have seen very few in my life due to my tendencies to be a night owl.

Sunrise
Sunrise from Te Mata Peak

If they are all as beautiful as this then the other 49 will be worth it but I now realise I need to be doing more than one a fortnight in order to get them all in… Ideas of great viewpoints from where to see them in Auckland would be much appreciated.

In other challenge news, I’ve found a cluster of tree trunks in my garden that will be great for yarn-bombing and creating a piece of tree art. My mate Mary suggested I ask people to help me by knitting some squares which I can then sew together and then stitch around the trees. I will embellish the pieces with buttons, ribbons and pom-poms and another friend even suggested I use old pieces of jewellery, beads and earrings. I am really grateful for all these suggestions as I really do totally lack imagination. I can’t wait to see how this artwork will unfold and morph over time into something totally fabulous. Nic my wonderful neighbour has given me some wool and Cate some more wool and a selection of needles so I’m all set.

Do enjoy the video where I wax lyrical about the sunrises…

Until next time xx