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

Cheese, wine and tumble dryer fluff

So #50Before50 has kicked off. I’ll be honest and say I am already totally obsessed with the challenge but, so what? Why not? There are far worse things to spend time doing and the focus is good for me. Just over a week since conceiving my idea, I have already ticked off 2.6% of the list. Yes, that’s right, I have spreadsheets, note books, notes on my phone and photos – all to document this adventure because, of course, not only am I getting older and forgetful but I also have the comedy show to do at the end so I need to gather material. There may even be a book in it. You never know… I’ve been posting my photos to Instagram and tagging wineries, cafes, cheese companies and so on, in the vain hope that at some point over the next couple of years I’ll be noticed. There will need to be some sponsorship for the children’s party and, perhaps people will become interested in what I’m up to and help out.

15 of the 51 items on my list have more than one element. For example, there are 50 cheeses, 50 sunsets, 100 wines, 50 places and things to do in New Zealand and one of those is to visit all 26 Monopoly board places. Therefore, altogether there are 861 individual things to do. I realise I already know 2 people called Helen Evans to whom to send birthday cards in 2020 and I can already say Happy Birthday in 3 languages. This week I’ve seen two sunrises, eaten one cheese and drunk 11 different wines. I’ve collected one handful of tumble dryer fluff for the cushion I am going to make. It all adds up.

Tumble dryer fluff
The first handful of tumble dryer fluff has been collected!

Next I will work on a timeline. Some of the things can be worked on right away; others need to be left until my 50th year or close to my birthday. Some of them need to be done in a particular order. I’d definitely much rather do the nude modelling after I’ve reached 50-something kg! Ditto for walking down the street after having my body painted. And there’s no point having the bra made until I’ve had the breast reduction. But yoga I can do now while the water-based activities will need to wait until the weather is warmer. As for the sunrises, a friend’s father pointed out that I can see one every day when I do the Lapland trip as the sun doesn’t get up until 11.30am. That was music to my ears!

The amazing thing about the challenge is that people are following my example and it’s catching on. My sister is now doing 40 things before her 40th birthday and she only has 10 months to go and one of her friends is also joining in! A friend and previous colleague is also doing his own #50Before50. I’m really chuffed. Of course my own challenge started after hearing about my friend Sonja doing her 30 things before 30. When I add the hashtag #50Before50 on social media, I see other people around the world doing wonderful things like climbing mountains and one even had a photo shoot with Annie Liebovitz. I don’t think I will be scaling those heights, but you never know… People have been really open to joining in and helping out. I wanted to photograph every bottle of wine which is easy at home or friends’ houses and even some bars, but it isn’t common to see the bottle at a cafe or restaurant. I’ve been asking waiters if they’ll bring me the bottle and everyone has obliged so far – one was working his first day and thought it was brilliant; one poured the wine with great aplomb and arranged the bottle with the candles and flowers from the table and another asked to follow me on Instagram. Mardi at The Nail Studio, who has been doing my nails for ages, was totally fine with choosing me a random colour for my manicure. She reassured me there are at least 50 colours available without me resorting to fluoro yellow and she’s even going to come to some dinners with me. I’ve found volunteers to come to my first Auckland restaurant from the Metro list, people have been nominating their favourite charities so I can add them to the charity list and friends have set about recommending places to do the yoga, surfing, flying a chopper or plane and so on. It’s almost infectious!

This week I was working in Hawke’s Bay and staying with my really good friend Jenny. She is one of the biggest hearted people I know. She took me under her wing very early on in my time in NZ and she has been one of my biggest supporters over the years. Jenny will definitely be reading this and she won’t mind me saying that she is perhaps not quite so adventurous. But, she’s been egging me on over the past few days with ticking some things off the list. She even stood in the middle of the road to get a photo of me under the Marine Parade sign in Napier as this is one of the Monopoly streets. We’ve been to some of our favourite restaurant haunts – Pipi’s in Havelock North and Mister D in Napier, along with Hunger Monger in Napier which was a new one for us. At every one people have been unfailingly kind and accommodating. As I go to the Bay several times a year for work and pleasure, I hope to do more of my adventures with Jenny and other local friends and I also hope to persuade her further afield. I’m sure she’s always wanted to walk the Inca trail…

Lest We Forget
Lest We Forget – the flower pot in Napier filled with poppies for ANZAC Day

Wines consumed (8 whites; 3 reds):

  • Cable Bay 2012 Viognier
  • Mission Estate 2016 Syrah
  • Gibbston Valley 2010 Pinot noir – I’ve been cellaring this one for years so it was great to open it at last and a relief to find it was totally sublime
  • Loveblock 2017 Sauvignon blanc – thanks to the lovely people at my local cafe Deco
  • Clearview 2014 Viognier
  • Vidal 2017 Sauvignon blanc
  • Julicher 2017 Riesling – thanks to the staff at Hunger Monger
  • Amisfield Lakes Hayes 2017 Pinot gris – drunk at my favourite Hawkes Bay restaurant Pipi’s where the waiter was super helpful
  • Mud House 2017 Sauvignon blanc
  • Peregrine 2017 Pinot gris – thanks to Rosie at Mister D in Napier who was fabulous
  • Te Mata 2017 Syrah – also at Mister D and consumed with my first cheese…

Not included on the list of wines is the Montana pinot gris I drank at a friend’s house. Turns out that despite this vineyard being one of New Zealand’s oldest and one which put NZ sauvignon blanc (and hence wine in general) on the international map, they have decided to import grapes from Australia! I guess this explains why they have reverted to using their Montana label which disappeared when they re-branded a few years ago as Brancott Estate. Each to their own but Australian wines are not included in the challenge so off the list they go!

Montana Pinot Gris
Montana Pinot Gris. Not a New Zealand wine, so excluded from the challenge!

Cheese eaten (1 so far):

  • Origin Earth Washed Rind – beautifully presented and accompanied by the most lovely homemade crackers and quince jam at Mister D
Cheese # 1
Cheese number 1 – Origin Earth Washed Rind, eaten at Mister D’s Dining in Napier

Nail polish colours (1 so far):

  • Denim Patch

Monopoly NZ places visited (1 so far):

People called Helen Evans to whom to send birthday cards in 2020 (2 so far):

  • My sister-in-law
  • The lady in the student office at the University to gets my mail by mistake

Happy Birthday languages (4 so far):

  • English
  • Welsh
  • French
  • Te Reo Māori

Sunrises seen: 2 so far

Not a bad start, even if I do say so myself. Do enjoy the video. I recorded it on Marine Parade but the wind from the sea caused havoc. The first bit is fine then it totally falls apart but that gives it the usual rustic charm…

Until next time xx