Thursday 31 March 2011

A travesty

Me to colleague: “Have you heard they’re filming Miss Marple but are going to rewrite it with a hot, 30-year-old lead character played by Jennifer Garner? And it’s going to be relocated from a charming British village to some rubbish American location.”

Colleague: “You are joking? That’d be f*ckin Disney for you.”

You heard it right, the venerable old English detective is being sexed up by a bunch of Yanks who have about as much interest in honouring the classics as they have in locating any major European city on a map.

Whoever cast Garner, whose career highlights include ‘Dude Where’s My Car?’ and ‘Elektra’, as the tweed-loving, spinsterish Marple, needs a good slap.

What’s next, Disney? Justin Bieber as Inspector Morse? Charlie Sheen as Sherlock Holmes? The very essence of Miss Marple’s character is her experience and age. Hollywood's airbrushing of elderly folk in their scramble for the ‘youth’ dollar is, as the UK press is calling it, a travesty.

Either this is an ill-timed April’s Fools Day hoax or these people are seriously taking the piss.

Big fat boycott, I say….

Far too early

It's kind of like seeing Xmas decorations in September or Valentine's cards in December: strawberries in March are just wrong.

But my greedy belly got the better of me when I spotted these beauties in Sainsbury's yesterday.

Did I care that they have more airmiles than me? No, I did not. Was I bothered that they're so ginormous they surely have more than a passing acquaintance with genetic modification? Nada.

So I smothered them in yoghurt, nuts and seeds and gobbled them down. And they were like eating wet tissue paper.

A good reminder of why God invented seasonal and local eating.

Tuesday 29 March 2011


This weekend we went to London, always a source of joy, drunkenness and financial ruin.
We got great value from our Oyster cards, screamed ourselves hoarse at the rugby and resisted the urge to cram the contents of every shop in Central London into the Mini.
We also caught up with my beloved friend Kurt when we lunched at one of celebrity chef Yottam Ottolenghi's chichi restaurants in Islington (Susan, are you jealous?) And it was beyond DIVINE. Here's the Animator's lunch of char-grilled salmon with celeriac, capers and tarragon remoulade, with a salad of roasted aubergine with tahini, yoghurt sauce, chilli, basil and almonds, and another of mixed green beans, quinoa, pomegranate seeds, tarragon red basil and chard. Oh and mounds of roasted potato with smoked paprika, chilli, rosemary and garlic. I would have photographed my plate but by the time I remembered I needed a snap, it had already been severely dealt to.

Kurt, who I worked with at the Beeb about eight million years ago, is just as wonderful as I remember and our long, liquid afternoon is how every Saturday should be.

On the way back, we got caught up in the mother of all marches. Figures suggest around 250,000 trudged through the streets of Central London to protest against the government's programme of cuts to public services, universities, schools and charities (don't they have anything better to do on a sunny Saturday?) But v. exciting to see riot police tackle the violent core, to be in the trenches, as it were. I felt very Christiane Amanpour for about as long as it took to realise that having my features rearranged with a baton probably wasn't a good idea.

Saturday night we dined in Queen's Park with Grant, Martin's cousin who always generously lends us a bed whenever we are in town. I'm not going to lie - copious amounts of red wine literally FELL down my throat in celebration of being back in the big smoke.
After an earlier start on Sunday than we planned (thanks to the beginning of daylight savings) we headed to that glorious temple of overindulgence and posh Chelsea matrons, Fortnum & Mason, where we stocked up on enough coffee to open our own cafe - and a ludriciously overpriced hamper (that I LOVE). This gorgeous tree was in a hidden courtyard just off the tourist nightmare that is Picadilly.
And then there was the rugby at Twickers, a ground so hallowed we almost bent down in genuflection. For some wonderfully bizzare reason, when the Christchurch earthquake devastated the Crusaders' home ground, the rugby kaumauta decided to move their Super 15 game from Canterbury to London. Random, yes, but we were the winners on the day. Our first trip to the revamped Twickenham was made even sweeter by a 42-28 Kiwi win...

Lovely, lovely London..I love your dirt and chaos, your sparkle and your grunge. I have to say though, I love Bristol a tiny bit more and it was good to finally get 'home' about 9.00pm last night.

PS. One complaint: on the drive back the only radio station we could get was sodding BBC Radio One. Please, please make the men talking bollocks about music stop. Here's an idea: maybe play some music instead.

Saturday 26 March 2011


It's already Saturday in Wellington.

In a few hours, while I am locked in a passionate embrace with sleep, one of my BFFs, Vet Nurse Sarah, will walk down the aisle.

To say I'm sad I won't see the lovely Sarah marry her sweetheart Glenn is to wallow in understatement. We had planned to be back for the big event but life being what it is, this weekend we are instead heading to London to catch up with friends, watch the Canterbury Crusaders crush the Saffers at Twickenham and avoid what they reckon is going to be the biggest protest march for like ever.

I wish I had a tardis that could whip me to Wellington and back in time for work on Monday. Instead, dear Sarah, know that 12,000 miles away, we'll be toasting your special day.

Ngā mihi rā mō ngā rā kei mua i te aroaro, my beautif'ul friends...

(Pic: Andrew English)

Thursday 24 March 2011


Hate to get all political on yo' asses. That's not why you come here....

BUT it's a slightly surreal feeling knowing the country I live in is at war.

The always credible Independent tells me the cost to Britain of air action in Libya is running at around £3 million a day. The pointy heads over at the MOD reckon the Libyan campaign could reach £100 million within four to six weeks.

This at a time when government and council budgets are being mercilessly slashed, when jobs are falling off the radar and essential services such as public libraries are closing their doors. As my learned colleague put it today, “This country is already on its knees. We can't afford this bullshit”.

Quite. It's certainly not the worthiest repository of my tax dollars I can think of.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

A cute time waster

This is what I happens, I imagine, when animators with too much time on their hands mess with mind altering substances...

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Today was an exceedingly good day

One day I will get my head out of my arse.

Today, however, is not that day, because I am going to Dubai for work (insert happy dance).

With the US stamps in my passport barely dry, I have been asked to attend another of my company's summits (their word, not mine) in the Middle East. We fly the second week of April and sadly, this time there will be no Molly prize at the end of it.

What there will be, however, is a shit load of work: around 13 journos and camera crew are attending and I am to be their babysitter, go-to girl and all round media wrangler. In addition to filing my own media releases. But hell, I'll be doing it in Dubai, so what's a bit of hard graft, eh?

The Animator is at great pains to point out that civil unrest is seeping through the Middle East faster than red wine on a cream shirt. And it's not like I've enjoyed stress-free travel lately (stuck in Paris because of an enthusiastic volcano, London because of the sodding snow and LA because of a missing plane). But surely a journey without a few toe-curling moments is no journey at all..

Monday 21 March 2011

A sunny Sunday in the country

Unless you've experienced a filthy English winter, you might yet believe it was possible to have a soft spot for the weather gods.

I have - and I don't.

But this weekend the sun FINALLY took up the baton for the new season. Wanting to make the most of it, we drove 45 minutes to the charming, semi-rural village of Brent Knoll, home of a former colleague. Lunch was at a 250 year old pub where we sat in t-shirts and sunglasses, giddy with vitamin D.

Fortunately our hosts Cat and George know the owners, so they wangled the keys to the pub's old skool skittles alley. Let's just say skittles is going straight into my 'sports I'll never excel at' file - but we had lots and lots of laughs. And the Animator won!

Today we truly maxed out our fun points.

Sunday 20 March 2011

The one where inspiration fails to show up

Today I am meant to be finishing a travel piece for a NZ magazine and crafting elegant, directional copy for a friend's website.

Instead, I find myself in a procrastination loop so intense, I have cleaned the loo, de-fluffed four sweaters and plucked my eyebrows into near oblivion. And drunk 30 pints of green tea. And spent large chunks of time looking out the window and thinking about Mindless Stuff, such as do I need to buy another bottle of flax-seed oil and do I really want to schelp downtown to watch the mortal enemy (England) win the grand slam?

This is not what I'm meant to be doing: I should be writing like my fingers are on fire, dammit. My hope is that if I sit very still and clear my jumbled thoughts, the Muse might return from wherever the bejesus she has gone to. And that my editor, and my friend, will be wearing their cloaks of forgiveness come Monday...

Thursday 17 March 2011

Wonder how many of these were produced?

Loving this commemorative royal wedding cup - shame they got the picture so totally and utterly wrong

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Good things that happened today

  1. On my lunchtime run, I met quite the biggest dog I have ever seen. He made Molly look like a field mouse. But both the mastiff and his owner were gentle wee souls and he let me cuddle him (the dog, that is, not the owner) without getting a skerrick of giant-dog drool on me.

  1. The latest issue of NEXT magazine, a glossy publication I used to write for in NZ, plopped onto my doormat. Even though I haven't written for them in a while, my freebie copy still religiously follows me across the globe. Nice to read about amazing Kiwi women achieving great things and looking great in a country that is closest to my heart.

  1. We filmed a 'Happy Birthday' video for the Animator's oldest sister's upcoming milestone.

  1. Spent all day rocking out to 'Gaydar', the UK's hilariously named largest gay radio station. Those boys and girls sure like their high octane dance tunes.

  1. Got some very, very good news (hint: it concerns planes and exotic locations – and no money changing hands). Can't say anything yet, though. Hark at me, being all mysterious and coy....

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Come on in Spring

Back in October, I banged on about the delights of winter: of thick tights, yummy soup and drinking velvety red wine in front of a roaring fire. But having endured more shit weather than one should have to, that statement now strikes me as a load of gentleman's genitalia.

Instead, I have just remembered my absolute favourite part of winter – that it ends.

While I spent yesterday afternoon in a joyous haze of couch, Jamie Oliver cooking shows and a freelance article, the Animator roamed the nearby Downs documenting the fact that, when we weren't looking, spring snuck in (if only someone would inform Mr Temperature of this).

Funny how a bit of sunshine and a few daffs can make life more pleasant.

* Pics c/o the supremely talented Animator

Sunday 13 March 2011

An expensive distraction

I have long subscribed to the adage that one should try and face the ups and downs of life with humour, grace or, when all else fails, retail therapy.

Context: a torrent of devastation and death has been splaying forth from the corner of my living room all morning. First there was the Christchurch earthquake, and now the poor people of Japan have been felled; it's hard to shake the feeling that someone, somewhere must have displeased the gods. In the end, it was all too much and I had to switch the telly off.

In a near-catatonic state, I agreed to head to South Bristol (as a card-carrying suburb snob, I don't 'do' south of the river) to check out the work of an artist who was recently interviewed by a colleague.

And while I felt compelled to still the terrible images coming out of Japan by cramming the Mini with every item in the gallery, instead we settled on a print of the Ultra Bristol Dinosaur (below) which artist Andy Council originally did on cardboard boxes. Cleverly, the whole beast is comprised of notable buildings from the city that's been my home for the past 10 months (eg check out the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge at the top of the dinosaur's neck).

Tonight we're having dinner with a very dear friend and her hilarious gay mates who are up from London; in some ways, it feels wrong to be having a good time when so many innocent folk have had their worlds torn asunder. But I fear I may have reached a point where my tear ducts are about to go on strike; they, and I, can't take any more pain.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Busting our best MJ moves

Today we held our inaugural dance-off at work for charity.

You haven't lived until you've faced your Wii fears and shaken your extremities to Michael Jackson's 'Black or White' at 10 on a Friday morning. In front of your colleagues.

That's kinda how we roll in BS1...

Friday 11 March 2011

This dog does more stuff than my husband!

To swap: one Animator for Jesse the Wonderdog...

Wednesday 9 March 2011

A dog-shaped hole in my life

Two plane rides, a four hour delay at LAX, one two-hour bus trip and a taxi ride up the inappropriately named Whiteladies Road and I am back in the Slum. As you can imagine, today I am done with the theatre of the absurd that is modern travel.

LAX was its usual rubbish self, Heathrow even more so. Bridging the two was an okay plane ride (thank you Air NZ) that was made slightly amusing by my seat companion, a chap from East London who played fast and loose with the Queen's English (how many times, do you think, is it possible to insert the word 'innit' into a sentence? This dude was, I feel, out to obliterate the world record). Also aboard were 50 or so British search and rescue guys on their way home from Christchurch. Some of their stories would make your blood run cold and no one clapped louder than me when they embarked.

I am not even going to riff on how much I am missing the Mollster right now, because I shall only cry and that will lead to swollen eyes and runny mascara, and I don't want the Animator's first glimpse of me in eight days to be deeply unattractive.

Instead I shall gaze upon the pics below and hope Molls knows how loved she is. And how, if I could subvert long plane rides, her age, stupid quarantine regulations, had a garden and was going to remain in the UK for the next few years, I would whisk her back to us in a heartbeat.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Saturday morning in Noe Valley

Walk to brunch in sunshine so bright it's almost indecent. Meet the locals at the farmers market and eat your bodyweight in omelette, potatoes and this outrageous stack of coconut and banana pancakes (obviously limbering up for Shrove Tuesday next week). I hasten to add this food fed three of us.

If God gave you teeth you should use them. A lot.

And while I shovel carbs down my gob, on the other side of the world three mates are preparing to run the Paris Half Marathon. Good luck guys - and Lucy, think of how great it will be to be able to drink again.

A random to finish: apparently it's World Book Day. I would have re-read one of my all-time favourites 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in honour of the day, had I known.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Outrageous beauty alert

I promised pics and here they are.

You'll be pleased to know that the festival of inconvenience and general bollockness that is US airports was greatly enlivened yesterday by random chats with:

a) an Australian sewage engineer who I immediately nicknamed Kenny after the Aussie movie. We scoured our departure lounge for something, anything healthy to eat (tip: bring your own food or risk the chance of scurvy and/or obesity) and laughed at our fellow passengers as he showed me insanely beautiful photos of where he and his family live (the Blue Mountains) and I whinged about the English weather.

b) an American architect who spoke so passionately about her sustainable practice that I felt almost inclined to commission her to design my dream home. But then I realised that would mean vacating the Slum, and then what would I have left to hate?

The payoff for time spent in LAX was getting to San Francisco and seeing Doug and Suzi and, of course, the Divine Ms M who, after her initial frenzy of welcome, ran downstairs to look for the Animator! And, I might add, sat staring at the garage door for some time after, not quite understanding that her favourite human wasn't part of the deal this time. If I wasn't so besotted with her, I might feel offended.

But today the sun is shining and after some initial difficulty identifying the unfamiliar golden orb in the sky, I have breakfasted alfresco on a bowl of blueberries and granola (the Americans do the best granola ever), walked the dogs, attended two estate sales with Suzi and bought a cute wooden cigar box for the princely sum of $3.

And it's only lunchtime...

Friday 4 March 2011

How do you make time run faster??

Last day at the conference in LA - trying to focus my Jedi powers on making the hands of the clock spin faster so I can get on the plane and get to San Francisco.

Has been a great experience, oodles of fun and oh my, Pasadena is all kinds of beautiful. But nothing will compare to the moment I set eyes on Ms Molly again.

Stand by for pics of Her Highness in the next thrilling instalment...

Thursday 3 March 2011

So this is what sunshine feels like...

I'd like to introduce you to the sun, as I have been gazing at it an awful lot lately. To my peeps in the UK, please don't hate me BUT it is so gloriously sunny and warm in Southern Cali that I have almost lost my mind (the pic above is the OTT hotel we are staying in).

Yesterday I had lunch with a colleague from our New York office - outside! But even more astounding was that I dined whilst wearing (drum-roll please) a sleeveless top! Only a rare flash of commonsense stopped me from whipping out my bathing suit and jumping in the outdoor pool (well that and the fact that a) I didn't bring my togs, and b) I didn't want to scare the locals).

Oh sunshine, you have been gone from my life for far too long. I wish you would pull up a chair and stay awhile but I know that's about as likely as Victoria Beckham eating a steak and kidney pie.

The Animator tells me that he played football in Bristol last night in sub zero temperatures. I, however, am choosing not to dwell on that fact, lest it seriously dents the silver lining kick I am currently on.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Welcome to La La land

Yes it's churlish of me to whinge, particularly at this early juncture in my US junket, but yesterday I discovered what 4.15am looks like when I had to rise to catch the bus to Heathrow. For the love of God, why is anyone even awake at that time of day?

And then there was the flight: I endured 12 hours sitting next to a chap who had marinated in a whole can of Lynx. I was very tempted to divorce the Animator and marry this man on the spot, but my nasal hairs were so singed I was rendered quite incapable.

And let's not forget the brat who insisted on kicking the back of our seats at every opportunity – and of running up and down the aisles squealing as if his arse was on fire. Par for the course, his parents ignored the hateful stares of every passenger. A textbook case of those who need to be forcibly castrated at the onset of puberty.

The high point was LAX (it's not often you get to say that). Being the day after the Oscars, my overly-fragrant travelling companion warned me to expect possible celebrity sightings. In the scrum to locate my bags and my driver, the only person of note I spotted was Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria. Well, I think it was her. Someone mentioned her name, so we all swung around to see a swish of dark hair, ginormous sunglasses and three burly black security guards.

But that's good enough for me...


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