Saturday 31 December 2011

Deconstructing 2011

Regular readers will know that Shazzy got a bit bashed about by life in 2011. There was the second redundancy, the 'where should we live?' debate, the having to move 12,000 miles in two weeks. But it all came right at the end – a lovely new house, great contract and adorable doggy. Here's hoping 2012 is even kinder....


Discovered the joy of car boot sales; packed up my life in two weeks; renovated a house; had a mammogram (won't be rushing back for another - ouch!) and finally felt comfortable about my place in the world, both physically and mentally.


The UK, Malta, US, Dubai, Ireland, Hong Kong.


Travel adventures, a lovely home and dog, to be back in a healthy economy.


A tardis to drop in on my Bristol mates whenever I want; to make it to the Cotswolds for Anita and Gary's Wedding of the Year; a Kitchen Aid.


The aforementioned tardis: seriously sciencey-type blokes, get a move on already. A Kitchen Aid (Animator, are you listening?)


The date in July when the Animator was head-hunted back to Welly – and realising we had two weeks to cut our ties to the UK; having to say goodbye to our lovely friends.


Saying goodbye never gets any easier; the old chestnut about 'not sweating the small stuff' is actually true; I got better about defining my boundaries and walking away from people and situations that no longer suited me. In your eye, horrible people!

On a practical note, that stripping wallpaper is the work of the devil. Oh and that false eyelashes and I will never be close.


Carbooting with my gorgeous mate Anita – wish we'd discovered our mutal interest earlier; the thrill of winning an eBay auction; seeing Ms Molly in January and March (thank you horrid contract for the work trip!); getting the keys to the new house; all our stuff arriving from the UK in one piece and regular clothing parcels from Anita, my sartorial guardian angel.


Saying goodbye to friends; not getting the gig in Singapore; being made redundant for the second time in six months.


Yoga; spending time with the people I love and respect; reading.


Wasting time with inappropriate people; drinking red wine in dodgy pubs; living in a shit-hole in Bristol; certain work contracts.


Touching every piece of wood I can find, but thankfully no.


Easy, the new house which I am in love with; plane tickets to exotic places; oodles of carboot/charity shop/eBay bargains.


Sorry to be so predictable, but the list is pretty much a repeat of last year: breeders with screamy, uncontrollable brats; bastards who do unthinkable things to animals; the rubbish UK economy. Certain bosses also deserved a bluddy good slap.


Four Lions (okay so I might have seen this at the end of 2010 but a year later, I'm still raving about it); Crazy, Stupid Love; Blue Valentine; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; Toast and, of course, I'm morally obliged to say Tin Tin.


Downton Abbey; Californication; Raising Hope; Modern Family; Glee and X Factor USA.


See question 13


Yes, I was after more certainty in my life in terms of where and how I was going to live and we achieved that, so well done us.

On the list for 2012 is more exercise, learning Spanish and organising a kick arse trip for the Animator's milestone birthday.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Faces of the year

The Twittersphere is currently ablaze about the BBC's choices for its 2011 Faces of the Year list.

More specifically, at Aunty Beeb's December 'Woman' - Sweetie the Giant Panda who was recently welcomed to Edinburgh Zoo with bagpipes and cheers (full list here). I love, love, love that they're calling it 'Pandagate'.

A fitting end to a crazy-ass year....

(Pic credit: Telegraph UK)

Bath time

The heat, which has been sitting atop Wellington like a hot water bottle for more than a week, shows signs of losing interest.

Before the rain arrived, we decided to give Baby Bristol a bath. As with most things, he gave in without complaint, letting us lather him up and dry him off.

Out in the back garden, drying off.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

The Animator rocks!

Yesterday we interrupted our adulation of the sun to join the Animator's family at the movies.

I know it opened in Europe about a zillion months ago but even though the special effects were done in little old Welly, Tin Tin only opened in NZ yesterday. This is the reason we had two weeks to leave the UK and return home, because the Animator was head-hunted back to help finish it.

Verdict? Loved it. And no-one clapped louder than I when we spotted the Animator's name in the credits.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Last December 25 we were in San Francisco with the beloved Molly and our friends Doug and Suzi. It wasn't snowing, but it was definitely sweater and open fire time.

This year, we've celebrated the day in our new home with glorious sunshine, no wind and Baby Bristol. Oh and these wickedly delicious 'Flirtini' cocktails.

Sending love and sunshine to all the readers but especially to my friends on the other side of the world who are just beginning their Christmas Day.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Downunder

Dear New Zealand Advertising Person,

I hate to be a Christmas grinch but I wondered if you'd noticed that, here in the Southern Hemisphere, it's actually summer?

Look around and you'll note the distinct absence of snow, reindeer or chestnuts roasting on an open fire. So why, year after year, do you insist on using these concepts in your advertising?

I've worked for two advertising agencies in my time, I know it's hard to walk away from the tried and true; a winter Xmas is the go-to concept when you can't be arsed to think.

But surely the good people Down Under deserve better. Please don't ask me to buy a gingerbread cappuccino, spicy mulled wine or toasty mittens, and don't illustrate your ads with fake snow and rosy cheeked, scarf-wearing folk. What I need you to sell me is an ice cold beer, a sun hat and a barbie.

There is a point in most lives where it has to be acknowledged that the old model no longer works, that it's time for a change. Let's make 2012 that year...

Yours etc

Disgruntled of Mt Vic

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Friday 23 December 2011

Closing doors

The slam of the office door as work finishes and Christmas holidays begin is one of the finest sounds on the planet.

For two whole weeks, I am not required to show up, speak up or earn my keep. There will be no meetings, no drafting of PR strategies or media releases, no raising of profiles, or persuading of superiors to stay 'on message'.

I do have a couple of freelance pieces to write and one interview to do, but they will be in my own time and on my own terms. For the next two weeks, I plan to get familiar with a good book, sunshine and the back garden. There will be time to socialise with friends, work on the house and while away the hours with Baby Bristol. It's been a tough old year and I need this holiday more than I've possibly ever needed a break. I CANNOT wait.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Two more sleeps....

I am still trying to locate my Christmas spirit - I fear it may have fallen down the back of the couch.

Today there is a work Christmas lunch (thankfully in the sun at a restaurant on the waterfront) and tonight is the Animator's work Xmas function (the word 'karoke' has been flung about with abandon). Given I can barely keep my eyes open at the moment, I am guessing it won't be a huge one for this litle girl.

Two more sleeps and I can get off this hamster wheel...

(Pic credit: Real Simple)

Wednesday 21 December 2011

God bless Amazon

Thanks to Amazon UK's current policy of waiving their delivery fee, these three beauties plopped onto my desk today (a mere four days after ordering them).

My cookbook fetish is now getting out of hand; an intervention may need to be staged...

Tuesday 20 December 2011

If Santa is listening....

Today Santa arrived early with this gift from a colleague.

I'd previously bemoaned the fact that my new drinks 'trolley' (aka the Fortnum & Mason hamper we dragged across London) was looking a little bare; he offered a couple of bottles of vodka that were surplus to requirements, including this red sequined number. I almost fell over laughing when I saw it.

And here's how it looks on the now not-so-empty drinks 'trolley'.

But I also wouldn't mind if Santa discovered the following had my name on it:

This GORGEOUS raspberry top from Topshop - I am dribbling at how truly delectable it is.

This sequined clutch from Zara - apparently it sold out in the UK in record time

A scented candle from Jo Malone, London. Esp the pomegranate one.
This red Kitchen Aid mixer (well, any colour actually). American readers would not believe how expensive they are here.
Failing that lot, Santa, I'd be ridic happy if you left a bunch of my favourite flowers, Christmas lillies. Animator, are you listening?

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Monday 19 December 2011

Martha would be so ashamed

So this is where your mind goes to when you're exhausted and trying to juggle two jobs, organise house renovations and co-ordinate Christmas functions: to making your own gift wrapping.

In the magazine, it looked cool and quirky; in reality, my 'snowflake made from drinking straws' decoration looks like something that emerged from Bristol's tiny arse.

Seeing as I am shortly due for dinner at my former colleague Jo's place (who, conveniently, lives about a minute from my house), I have no time left to faff around with the munted snowflake. I console myself with the thought that it's Secret Santa, so no-one at work will know who was responsible for this abomination.

(Have just uploaded the pic and realised the full horror of my creative endeavours; good news is the snowflake is history. Will bung a bit of fresh holly from the garden on there and be done with it).

Sunday 18 December 2011

Challenging times

The computer Armageddon continues - thankfully the Animator has managed to see off the 789 viruses that were jonesing to live in our laptop. But one consequence is I've lost all my bookmarks (she hangs her head and sobs).

I had to spend a good hour this morning re-establishing my favourites. Some I fear I will never get back. Frustrating? Doesn't even come close.

To ensure the day wasn't a total waste of makeup, there were some stunning orange flowers from the waterfront farmer's market and then later this Yottam Ottolenghi recipe for mango and coconut rice salad which was kind of like a New Year's Eve party in the mouth.

Regular readers will know that the Animator and I dined at one of Ottolenghi's London restaurants earlier this year with our dear friend Kurt (link to that post here) when I do believe I may have discovered God. What this chap does with food is unbelievable; I am giddy with anticipation at what future delights his divine cookbook Plenty may hold.

Saturday 17 December 2011


Another Saturday, another Home & Garden Magazine interview - this is, it appears, an affair I can't seem to end.

Today was this stunning home at the beachside suburb of Peka Peka, about an hour north of Wellington. Lovely couple, GORGEOUS Schnauzer named Klaus (German breed, German name, geddit?) and a pleasant way to spend two hours.

While I got busy with the shorthand, the Animator took Bristol to the beach where, he reports, they had a magnificent time. Photos later this week when we can locate the camera cord thingy. When they came to pick me up, Bristol had the utter joy of meeting Klaus - they ran, they sniffed out rabbits on his owners' five acre property and generally had a glorious time.

On the way home, we popped in to see the in-laws who kindly let their grand-doggy water their flowerbeds. If Bristol had any energy left he would most certainly give a canine high five to today.

Friday 16 December 2011

Christmas Party

I have ZERO idea what trussing oneself up in a harness and swinging from trees has to do with Christmas, but that's what we are doing for our work party today.

What happened to simply consuming excessive amounts of alcohol? And, as a friend said, don't they get that my usual attire doesn't exactly scream 'I want to be one with the great outdoors'?

I am consoled by the thought of drinks afterwards...

(Pic credit: Adrenaline Forest)

Thursday 15 December 2011

Few words today

The laptop is having a meltdown (of course the Animator is blaming me), so a short post today. Found this on the Guardian's website - the year in Lego. Something strangely compelling about it.

Hopefully normal service will resume shortly...

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Turning Japanese

A couple of years ago, I was offered an Air NZ media junket to Tokyo and Kyoto.

Given as I ADORE Japanese food, and the quirky Japanese sense of style, it took me less time to agree than it does to say 'konichiwa'.

And yes, it was everything I thought it would be; here's the link to one of my travel pieces from that trip.

I was reminded of my week in Japan (far too short, would love to go back and take the Animator who's never been) today when I had to find a secret santa gift for work, a task that usually has me grinding my teeth and wishing I worked from home. But then I chanced upon this crazy ass Japanese emporium of amazingly weird but fun stuff - the kind of things you never knew you needed, but wondered how you ever did without.

And in this Aladdin's Cave of tat I found this banana holder (below), the perfect receptacle for transporting your, surprise, surprise, banana. Call me crazy - I'd be disappointed if you didn't - but I love it, especially given that a banana recently split in my bag and I spent the first 10 minutes of my workday wiping pulverised fruit off my wallet, sunglasses, etc.

I'm very, very tempted to hold onto this puppy, but can't bear the thought of braving the shops again, so this will have to form part of my secret santa gift. Lucky bastard who gets it....

Monday 12 December 2011

Car boot, Kiwi style

In July 2010 I started working for a megalomaniac boss at an enormous financial services company in Bristol; to say I loathed it, and her, would be to take a very large swig from the cup of understatement. But then I befriended Anita (and Frenchie and Yoma) and things no longer seemed so bleak. Every day at 8.00am, without fail, Anita and I would have the ‘talk me through your outfit’ conversation: where items had been bought, how much for and who had the better bargain. A life-long friendship, forged in the fashion trenches, was born.

What surprised me most about these conversations was that many of Anita’s items came from car boot sales; having sold antiques, she knew of every antique fair and car boot sale within cooee of Bristol, along with selling and bargaining tips, which she very generously shared with me. Sunday mornings would never be the same again.

Along with my darling friends, high street shopping and proximity to some of the greatest cities on earth, car boots are what I miss most about the UK. So imagine my excitement when I saw an advert in Saturday's paper for a local car boot sale; they’re not popular here and I think it would be fair to say my expectations were paddling around in the shallow end.

And okay, it wasn’t the best: Anita would have laughed at how small and ill equipped it was, how shabby some of the goods on offer. BUT, ever the magpie, I managed to find four paperbacks (one for 10 cents) and a set of cool vintage pool balls (to go with the set I snaffled at the Bath Car Boot). On the plus side, it starts at 9.00am so there’s no need to wake at sparrow’s fart as we used to in Bristol, or drive an hour to get there.

Had a yarn with the organiser, a Yorkshireman who misses UK car boots almost as much as I do; he’s hoping this will become a regular event till the end of summer. I hope so too...

* Let's be clear, the above pic is NOT from yesterday's Porirua car boot, but from the UK

Saturday 10 December 2011

Summery Saturday

Wellington, New Zealand

Saturday, December 10, 2011

22 degrees, a big fat sun and a few lazy clouds for effect.

We should have been painting, building, finishing the myriad of things that are still to be done. But it was too glorious a day to be inside, so we pottered in the garden, cut some of the gorgeous roses in our front yard (and the divine magnolia that is currently filling the kitchen with its heady scent), and Vitamin D loaded.

Baby Bristol leapt about as though he had won the lottery: both parents home and available to play. He insisted on running up and down the stairs; I told him to stop before his too-long nails ripped up the new carpet but he looked as me as if to say 'whatever, mama'.

Later there was Thai takeout and a buttery Martinborough chardonnay in the garden. I do love me a sunny Saturday.

*Check out the Animator's pic of the rose, complete with pollinating bee...

Friday 9 December 2011

In which a simple task turns into a joyful experience

While we were in the UK, we rented out the cute two-bedroom townhouse we've owned for about eight years. One of our tenants was a French brother and sister, who stayed four months and used it as a base for their NZ travels.

They also left a pile of French-language books (above) which our current tenants didn't want and, owing to our inability to string together a decent sentence in French, neither did we. So instead of binning the books, I called Wellington's Alliance Francaise who were definitely interested.

This afternoon I crossed the road from work to drop off the books. Not only was an unshaven-yet-hot Frenchman crooning into a microphone (Friday afternoon concert, anyone?), a similarly-attired group of French students and expats were milling around, sipping wine and enjoying the fact that they were whole time zones away from winter and the Euro crisis.

And then I got chatting to a most interesting woman, who told me how she'd been a doctor on the frontline in Iraq, had lived in a monastery in Tibet and who was travelling the world until she found somewhere she felt comfortable. It warmed my little Kiwi heart when she said she may have found what she was looking for here.

We talked of travel and love, of careers and buildings (she'd also done most of an architecture degree), of fashion and our mutual desire not to breed, of what's happening in her country and mine. And then I realised the errand I thought would take five mins had morphed into 50 and that work would be sending out a search party soon.

I do hope the interesting and engaging French woman decides to make Wellington her home; we need more like her here.

Thursday 8 December 2011

The perfect night in

Call me cheap (and you wouldn't be wrong, because renovating this bloody house has left our savings crouching, shivering and naked in a corner) but when I popped into Wellington Library at lunchtime today, I noticed they had free magazine rentals for a week (that we're even charged at all, when our rates are so high they are almost radioactive, is a fact obviously lost on the Council).

Anyway, bearing in mind that I walk to and from work, I grabbed as many as I could carry. Tonight will be all about being tucked up in bed, British magazines and the X Factor. Oh, and this wee guy for company. Bliss.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Copenhagen story

NZ's NEXT Magazine gets around to using one of my travel pieces...and there's even a pic of yours truly sitting on Hans Christian Andersen's knee (not the real one, he's dead, obvs, but the dirty great statue of him that anchors a corner of the city's main square, Radhuspladsen).

Monday 5 December 2011

Monday and I'm already shattered

Another frantic day at work - and another blinder of a week coming up. Insomnia is once again sharing my post-code and I am so tired I almost stepped in front of a bus on my way home.

As I type this, a shaft of late evening sunlight is coming through the window and it's taking every ounce of strength to keep from curling up next to the desk and letting my eyelids drop.

But I have a freelance piece to do and a deadline to meet before I can physically unfollow this day. Lying next to me is this adorable bundle of fluff who, thankfully, somehow makes it all okay...

Sunday 4 December 2011

Pink gumboots

Not so long ago, the only good reason I could think of for wearing gumboots (or Wellies, for my British friends) would be...

Actually, there isn't one. I'm not five and I don't live on a farm.

But then I moved to the UK and discovered Hunters, who keep none other than the Queen's trotters dry. Over there, wellies have had somewhat of a fashion renaissance and it's not unusual to spot them outside their natural habitat of country/farm.

The only problem with Hunters is that you have to mortgage the family farm to be able to afford a pair. But one stupidly early Sunday morning at the Cheltenham Racecourse, Anita the Car Boot Queen spied these pink beauties and I latched onto them as though they were the last helicopter out of Saigon; they became mine for a mere seven quid (they usually retail in excess of 75 pounds).

This morning, a wedge of rain inserted itself into Wellington's summer and, hallelujah, I got to wear my pink Hunters for the first time. I'd wager I'm the only person in Welly, if not NZ, who has a pair of pink Hunter gumboots.

Saturday 3 December 2011


There are worse ways I could spend a few hours than interviewing home owners and snooping around their houses for the interiors magazine I freelance for. Even when someone's personal style is a million miles from mine, I still get an extremely large kick from seeing how people's creativity translates into their physical environment.

Today, however, the journalism Wheel of Fortune arrow came to rest on 'Amazing'. I was privileged to interview a woman with the most astonishing back story: two years ago, fire razed her home to the ground and she lost everything, including her beloved dog. She spent a month in a coma and four months in various burns units around NZ and now bears the highly visible scars of having had third degree burns to 56% of her body. But this courageous and classy woman picked herself up and rebuilt her life and her home which, I have to say, is pretty bloody cool. There are a couple of pics below, so judge for yourself.

An amazing Saturday morning, by anyone's standards...

Friday 2 December 2011

Today was

filled with sunshine, playing catchup at work after one of the most exhausting weeks on record and an extended lunch with my friend Jo who drove us back to my place (we work in the same building) so she could join the Bristol fan club.

Here's the boy wonder himself getting to grips with a present from Jo - a ginormous dog treat. This should keep the wee scamp preoccupied for quite some time...


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