Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We're holidaying in Hobart... spring one day, snow the next.  It's a fickle place weather wise but that's part of its charm and the only place I know where the sun can shine while snow flakes drift down. I was watching it do that this morning.
Summer almost came on Saturday, we had a simply amazing day at one of my favourite little spots near Port Arthur. This is what I think of when I dream of my home state. How nice then to have my boys revel in it too..
We had a night away at a friend's shack. That's not a shanty, it's what Tasmanians call their holiday homes - like a bach in New Zealand. 

I have been coming here for more than fifteen years... and what fun we've had.

Now when there are ten adults there are ten kids too and sometimes more. Kids on the beach, on bikes, kicking footballs, fighting and playing and the adults chatting, cooking, reading, snoozing and relaxing. How I wish we could come more often.
Of course my friends spent much of their time asking my five year old closed questions that would elicit one answer - Yes.

That's because he now says 'Yiss.' He's becoming a Kiwi and Kiwis say 'fush' when we would say 'fish' and 'chups' when we would say 'chips'. They also say 'sex' when we would say 'six' and Australians will never ever tire of teasing. Ah well, at least he won't say Austraya.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Villa doors...

I took a shortcut home the other day and found this...
I can't decide whether it's simply fabulous or not fabulous at all but I have certainly never seen anything quite like it on the lovely Auckland villas I showed you here and here.

Sadly, my first thought is that it looks a nightmare to clean. When did I turn into a 1950s housewife and if I have why does my own house look a lot less clean than I'd like?

I will leave you to ponder just how much copper is enough while I take my boys back across the ditch to Australia for a spring break. Friends, family, a christening, my school reunion, free and willing babysitters and hopefully a little sun.

I may blog sporadically and I will probably visit you and your blogs. I will definitely finish the darn Martin Amis book that has been putting me to sleep most nights.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wet, Wet, Wet.

It's wet here in Auckland, terribly, terribly wet. And it's not just the lily-livered Australian complaining about it - even though it seems to rain all spring, every spring, every year, the Aucklanders are over it too. 

To top it off there's a storm the size of Australia heading our way. Heavy rain, severe gales and a load of snow down south.

How will this shrink wrapped house fare?  This is not a Christo... it's one of Auckland's famous leaky homes.
 It does look a little Christo-esque. Remember this?
Berlin's Reichstag building in 1995. It's a similar look but the Auckland home I came across in a very smart suburb is not art, just the reality of leaky home ownership.

During the nineties a lot of houses in New Zealand were built using methods that just don't stand up to the rain and there is a LOT of rain and it comes with force from all directions. A combination of poor design, bad installation and the wrong materials has meant that some people are stuck with a house that leaks - damp, mouldy and rotting with water running down the walls. Some simply can't be fixed. What a nightmare.

There's been an inquiry, compensation battles, long running court cases....  a lot of people looking for someone to sue. Although I suppose there's now a booming new sideline in shrink wrap.
We didn't buy a leaky home.  Ours is just damp - incredibly damp, this is just an incredibly damp city. And yes I am over it this month.

Meet Derek. Derek is our dehumidifier.
He hums away night and day while the rain pours down and shifts around the house to dry each room. He's handy too for drying a load of washing. If we stay longer in this house we'll look at installing a proper roof ventilation system. For now it's up to Derek.

Auckland sparkles in the sun. Bring on summer and another drought. Please...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Face time...

It's September... time surely to think about next year's resolutions. I didn't get around to making this year's until February so I'd better start a little earlier. A friend emailed last month to say she'd been giving 2011's some thought. Second on her list is more maintenance... do the the nails, facials etc. It should be top of mine.

I had 'Be Better Groomed'  on my list two years ago and failed miserably - along with embracing early mornings... that one ended on January 1st when my then nine month old woke at 5am.

Blogging helps with resolutions. It's like standing on a virtual rooftop and yelling a pledge to the world - or at least the handful who read your blog. 

It also helps when wonderful fellow bloggers give you things. I was the very lucky and rather overwhelmed winner of a giveaway over at A Lasting First Impression.
Emily's parcel arrived yesterday with a lovely note and some fabulous things.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Emily sells Sensaria products and gives lots of little tips with her Facial Mondays. We'll see what lovely things they do to my face.

What a way to kickstart the 2011 resolutions. I may start small with wash, tone and moisturise twice daily? Is that achievable? Those laughing just don't know me at all...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our weekend...

Our five year old is taking charge. I know he's been running our lives since he was born... this was more formal. He put pen to paper and set down the plan for Saturday.
Mmmm, wave pool with bab (dad) and a go on the water slide. Then sushi.  Then home. Kids today hey? We'd never heard of sushi when I was five.

Unfortunately it didn't quite unfold like that. A motorbike dinged the car (okay the car might have dinged the motorbike). The trip was delayed a day and after the wave pool we went home BEFORE we bought the sushi.  There were wails of disappointment from the master planner - 'we can't do that, that's not what I wrote!'

He'll learn that you can write a list or make a plan but it might not quite come off as you'd hoped.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A quiet green land...

I have been reading and reading and reading this week - not books but about the earthquake. Auckland is a long way from Christchurch and I am a long way from my comfort zone. It's a little hard to process that this quiet, green land also rumbles and roars.

I guess it's a little like bushfires in southern Australia. If you live in or near the bush you've probably been caught up in one or at least know what you should do. Or we thought we knew until Black Saturday.

Perhaps that's how the people of Christchurch are feeling. Also feeling lucky but a little taken by surprise. It wasn't supposed to be them but more likely Wellington or Hawkes Bay. They sound a little over it now but there's no let up. I guess they're finding out now why the aftershocks are called just that.

I have just read this from Christchurch blogger Mike Dickison, the thirteen things he's learned about earthquakes. He's also in today's paper, here. I like his approach. Very Kiwi.

And fellow blogger Rachel from The Far Side of the World has written about what's she's learned too.  Interesting, have a look here.

I have been grilling everyone I meet (subtly though so they don't think I am a nancy-girl Australian) and trying to find out whether I need to be prepared for anything in Auckland. Oh just the ring of fire I am told. All those sweet, green volcanoes we climb with the kids.

The Civil Defence website offers little comfort.... "due to the wide range and severity of potential hazards, volcanoes can cause the biggest loss of life." Lava flows, ballistics and tephra (the stuff that's thrown out the top) and pyroclastic flows, hot clouds of material thrown quickly across land. Mmmm. I am not one to panic or even listen to warnings. I'm a journalist. We give them out, not act on them. We're stupid like that.
Here's my youngest are sitting on Mt Victoria looking across to Rangitoto, the big daddy of our volcanoes. It's not extinct, just dormant, in fact none of them are done really. This greatly excites my five year old but I am buying some batteries for the torch.

One thing perhaps we've all learned is how very lucky we are to live in the first world, not the third. The Christchurch volcano was on a par with Haiti. Life or loss of it, is just not fair.

(First picture from NZ Herald)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Seven things about me...

Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post. I did wonder before I published it whether I was telling you just too much... but it's good to navel-gaze and great to find a book that invites you to.

So while we're talking about me... here's a little more.

I am a bad blogger, the sort that gets blog awards from lovely people and never does anything about them.  Janette of My Sweet Prints who makes very sweet prints gave me an award months ago. Now Jane, an old friend and new blogger with Life on Planet Baby has included me in another blogger award here.

So seven things you probably don't know about me, unless you're family.
  1. I don't like things under the sea. I like being in the sea and on top of it, sailing, swimming anything. But I freak out a little (okay, a lot) when I put on a mask and snorkel and see fish and things under my feet. I really hated the only dive I ever did. Nearly swallowed the whole reg in fright.
  2. I don't drink coffee because I don't like coffee. Can't stand the taste. And if it sneaks into a chocolate I get cross. The not liking coffee thing can get a little awkward at a hip and happening coffee shop. The people you're 'having coffee' with just think you're a weird health nut, until you order a hot chocolate. Then the barista looks down their nose at you.
  3. I am not into sport. I like sporty things but I don't like watching it. Unfortunately I am married to a sport nut who has a love of all and any sport. I have drawn the line at netball (nothing duller, sorry ladies) and darts. I mean honestly, darts?
  4. I don't much like cats. Actually I really don't like them at all and unfortunately married a cat lover and have a boy of five who seems to want a ginger cat. I wonder where he got that idea from?
  5. I don't like a TV in the bedroom.  Mine or my children's. Otherwise I love it. And almost any trash on it. Go on judge me.
  6. I don't like snakes. What sane person does? I love New Zealand and walking in its long grass and letting my boys go anywhere in bare feet. It is so darn safe I may never leave.
  7. I don't like putting butter on cold toast. I have been known to leap across the kitchen, knife in hand, to get to the toaster as it pops. Not a second later. My father, who loves to tease, once lined up all the cereal boxes on the kitchen floor as an obstacle course. I came flying around the corner to get to the toaster and saw them all and him collapsed on the floor laughing himself silly. I made more toast.
I really, really don't like the thought that you now think I am seriously neurotic. I am a little bit but in a hopefully likeable way.

By the way, the photograph is Wineglass Bay on Tasmania's glorious east coast, a place I really do like.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why I am Australian...

I read this book in two hours... with a two week break in between. When I first picked it up I had tears welling up by page four. I had to put it down at page 80. It was as though she'd taken something sharp and cut a little hole somewhere in me and I couldn't quite handle the flood of emotion.
Nikki Gemmell is an Australian writer  - the name behind the The Bride Stripped Bare. We are terribly similar. (ah yes apart from the award winning author bit)

She moved to London 12 years ago when I did, also looking for a life outside the ordinary and stayed. I lasted seven years, she's still there. Her husband is Australian too. They even did the same sort of work I did. She has two boys a little older than mine and a little girl.  Now she wants them to know Australia. This book is written for them.

It nearly broke me but I loved it. I finished it last night and read it all in such a rush I felt as though I hadn't quite taken a breath for an hour.

Nikki (we're on first name terms, now of course) who lives in Notting Hill writes so vividly about London that I can almost smell it and taste it again.  Those were the first tears.

Then I welled up a little more at her rich descriptions of Australia, its openness, it's roughness, its sunshine. She's sunshine obsessed and I remember that feeling after the suffocating, grim, grey, endless English winter. She wants her children to know Australia and to be Australian. She feels as though she's raising little English boys, pale and polite.

I laughed at her memories of her own childhood and her joy in coming home each year... the way I also used to revel in coming back and eating buckets of mint slices, the joy I had when we left London for Australia and saw our toddler in turn revel in the wide open spaces and warm weather, knowing we'd made the right choice.

I come from a family of migrants. My great grandparents were all migrants to South Africa - one set gave up and went back to Scotland. Snakes or snow I suppose. In turn, my parents are migrants to Australia.

I feel embarrassed by this reaction, this flood of emotion. I am not a migrant who's moved cultures, left Russia or China and come to a totally foreign culture. I haven't fled a despot or war or persecution. 
I don't see myself as a migrant but I know what it is to not quite know one's place in the world.

I have spent just long enough in another country to start to feel as though it's more home than the old home. I felt such a wrench leaving London that I felt I was making a huge mistake leaving. It took a year to like Australia again and get used to it.  I now live in a place that is so close to Australia that people often think it should be. They're wrong, New Zealand is  different. Similar but not the same.

Now I guess I'm raising little Kiwis. My five year old cried in frustration when I mimicked his changing accent the other day. I remember my parents doing the same to me. I'll try not to do it anymore.

I know I am Australian. Not born but bred. As my new mate Nikki agrees, it's not perfect (just watch breakfast television and you'll want to leave again).

We'll get back one day and before we lose our children to the land of earthquakes and All Blacks... for my husband I don't know which is more dangerous.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why I like this caper....

Nice isn't it?

I saw this today on Linda's lovely Oeke Design Blog.  Linda is an Australian graphic designer with great taste and I read all her posts. She found it at  Happenstance Home a place on the web I had never visited until today. Thank you Linda for the introduction.

In turn, Michigan based Lynda (with a Y) spotted the pictures on Emily Henderson's The Brass Petal. Now what I didn't know until today is that Emily Henderson is the hot new chic design chick in the States.

Minutes later... Ally of From The Right Bank, who lives in Atlanta, posted about Emily too and told me more about her new show which will probably come to New Zealand one day.

I feel hip and happening and in the know. Thank you ladies. These little journeys across countries to new places can happen in minutes and they happen most days and THAT, among other things, is why I rather like this blog caper.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And the mother of the year award goes to....

Yes, there is a trundle bed there that usually prevents this from happening.  Yes, I forgot to pull it out. Yes, he did stay sleeping like this long enough to get a little patch of carpet pattern indented on his cheek. Yes, the first thing I did when I found him was to get the camera. Yes, he does look very comfortable.


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