Friday, January 23, 2009


It has been a busy and slightly crazy week in our family

Dad said goodbye to his giant gall stone and festering gall bladder

We are travelling to Hamilton on Monday to say good bye to my dad's beloved brother David - that is if he can fly by then

I am saying goodbye to you for a week because we are going camping for a week in stunning Totaranui. With a very complicated trip to Hamilton in the middle.

Such is life and death.

Have a good one and chat again soon

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just finished reading #7

The Sauciers Apprentice - Bob Spitz

Literally I have just stumbled out of bed at 10.13 on a Sunday morning after doggedly remaining horizontal to finish this book. I really enjoyed it ...thankfully I don't get paid for book reviews because 'really enjoyed it' isn't that useful.

The odd thing about this book is all the things that I ended up thinking about while reading it...

1. I don't normally pick up a book with such small type and so many pages. For several reasons, firstly I am a slow reader and secondly people who use lots of words to describe something can be a little boring. Not so in this case. Bob is a great writer and obviously had a good editor. Descriptions of food, chefs, fellow cooking school students and travel were all measured out to great effect. Just as you got a bit bored with a description and was about to move on, he did. Excellent

2. Let's just stop talking about whether we need public libraries or not. It is such a boring and over worked discussion. Just accept that we do and move on!! I would never have found this book on Amazon as it has never been reviewed here, and I might not ever come across it in a book chain store in NZ (not to say it wouldn't be tucked away somewhere). No one I know would ever buy this book and lend it to me. However, I found it on the 'new books' shelf at the Sumner library (a tiny library in a seaside suburb) one day as I was desperately searching for something to read. The Internet doesn't have everything and book shops are commercial enterprises that have little or no interest in improving peoples knowledge and expanding their minds. Don't get me wrong I am a fan of the Internet and book shops but the bottom line is we need variety in this as we do with everything in, food, weather, friends...get my drift?

3. I love food a lot and it is a primary driver in me getting out of bed in the morning. I start thinking about food pretty much from 'eyes open' to 'eyes closed'. The food described in the book was mainly French. I know it is the back bone of Western culinary tradition but here in the South Pacific I think we are more influenced by the rustic fare of Italy. The pedantry of French cooking is fantastic and delivers taste to blow your mind but you can get layers of delicious from Italian food too. I am in no position at all to have an opinion on this other than my devotion to cookbooks and magazines and my observations and the food I have eaten.

So, if you like food and travel and people as much as I do, you would really enjoy this book.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I loved this film. It was very 'Woody' which makes it a little irritating and mildly unpredictable which are all good things in a film. I loved the setting of course which was shot in a sympathetic but not overly romantic way. The costuming and makeup etc were refreshingly spare and just how I love films. Of course all the main characters are gorgeous so don't need much enhancement.

Basically Vicky and Cristina are in Barcelona for the summer. Although they are best friends they are very different. One focused and on course for the life she has always wanted. Cristina is a bit more free spirited and doesn't know what she wants but knows what she doesn't want. They meet up with a gorgeous artist and all kinds of interesting things happen. All this with the back drop of Gaudi architecture and Spanish gorgeousness. Penelope Cruz is the mad but mesmerising ex-wife of the artist Juan so it is all very steamy and sexy.

As much as I loved this film, I am also very unsettled by it and felt fidgety all day yesterday which made it hard for me to focus on my work. Go and enjoy this film, especially if want to be transported for a few hours.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


My lovely husband Jonty took it upon himself to purchase a little old boat the day before Christmas. He has lovingly scrubbed it and nurtured it back into a usable vessel and this morning we ventured out in the still morning (7am) to have our first family outing in it. We went to Lyttelton Harbour and confidently prepared the boat and ourselves for the launch. I suggested to Jonty that he 'drove' the boat off the trailer which he was unsure of, being more measured and less 'rip shit and bust' than me. However, he did drive the boat off into the harbour without incident and I drove off to park the car. I jumped aboard off the jetty and away we went.
Nic was nervous and kept us under strict speed controls, or so he thought. I received a lesson on how to lower the motor, start the engine, reverse and flat out motoring. I loved it although my neck just can't handle it that well. ITtwas good to have a practice run before we head off on holiday. At least I know that pain killers will be a must for all journeys.Upon arrival back at the slipway I suggested that I back the trailer down the ramp and Jonty drove the boat onto the trailer. A challenge for both of us. I did get down the ramp in one hit and then we winched her on. We were proud as punch of our total team effort in such a smooth inaugural journey. We have both had plenty of experience with different boats but a new toy and slightly different roles could have proved tricky but I knew it wouldn't. We are a complementary team.

Two highlights for me was the landing on Quail Island, a place I am ashamed to say I have never been and having dolphins joining us as we tootled around the inner harbour being dwarfed by large ships.
I was talking to my friend Alex over a glass of bubbly the other night and saying how 'samey' the years seemed around this time as we go to our bach then camping at Totaranui every year. There are the usual visits to the market, picnics on the peninsula, making jam from the plums in the garden and other's strawberries and it all feels a bit like 'ground hog day'. She very wisely pointed out that the things that will punctuate the year and make a difference are likely to be our parents illnesses and aging as is happening to our friends. This made me think that the sameness was actually ok. And how this links to this post? Well, learning to drive a power boat and having dolphins visit for a chat and a few puffs are new and different things. Thus, sameness is ok and the differences are going to be small but lovely, and that is ok.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Just finished reading #6

For one more day - Mitch Albom

I flashed through this little gem in two days. I loved 'The five people you meet in heaven' for its sincerity and the gentle beauty of the story. Mitch seems to have a knack fro writing heart achingly sad stories in a really gorgeous way. He has a knack for writing fallible characters for whom you can feel great empathy. I can't really find the right words to explain how much I enjoyed this book. Essentially it is the story of a man in his 60's who finds himself in a situation where he gets to spend one more day with his dead mother and discovers the truths about his life that have influenced decisions and paths he has taken in his life and what brings him to the brink on this day. Sound heavy? Well it isn't and that is the key to the writing of Mr Albom. I highly recommend this as a quick and engaging read. Click on the link above and you will find a much better description than mine.

p.s. just taking a break from my frantic pantry cleaning and washing spree. I am still in my pyjamas at 2.15 but haven't had time to shower yet. Been picking plums and raking the rotten ones as well as sorting through all of Nic's clothes and getting them ready to pass on to various people and charities. I think I might collapse on the sofa soon and do nothing for a few minutes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Back in town

Phew! Back home after our 4 and half day holiday that turned into a much longer one. Thanks to the stunning weather we decided to just stay and stay at the bach until the sun let us go and the ocean bid us adieu. The last four days have been superb with baking hot sun and surf to die for. Taylors Mistake is a challenging beach this year with two sand bars making conditions on the incoming tide very interesting. It has been fantastic and I miss it already. The gods were smiling on us.

The sunset last night at about 9.30

Georgie came too and LOVED it!

Jonty had to go back to work on Monday but was working half days so could get back to us by 2.30 and enjoy the long afternoons. The wind was pretty busy whipping umbrellas and boogie boards all over the place but I think we might have dried up if it weren't for the breeze. Julian and Lesley joined us for some part of most days which was great.
Having gone to Taylors my whole life, I especially enjoyed the reunion of several of my contemporaries as we watched our children in the waves ankle deep in foam and boogie board leg ropes. There was a real friendly and fun thing going on.

Now I am ankle deep in washing, food and cleaning after spending 4 hours cleaning the bach this morning, now I am doing the same here. Same shit...different house. I am over that I must say. It is still hot and there is not enough wind to keep the sweat from my brow but there you go. I don't live in Gaza so a bit of heat ain't nothin' to worry about.

Nic found his boogie board groove and did this for hours and hours every day. I wonder what next summer will have in store.