Wednesday 31 October 2012

The Summer of YES

In the book I'm reading at the moment (Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, since you asked), the main characters embark upon the Summer of Yes, in which they agree to attend every invitation or opportunity that comes their way.

And although it's slightly exhausting, no-one dies and nothing bad happens. In fact, a few Very Good Things happen.

Apropos of nothing, I have decided to do a bit of literary shoplifting and adopt the concept. I will say Yes every time someone asks me to do something, attend something or show up. And I will enjoy it. Now that I've written it down, I have to go through with it.

It started well enough: yesterday I said Yes to a event manager friend's high tea on Sunday (it's an annual thing she does which pivots around judging table directions). It's not really my cup of green tea but in the spirit of the Summer of Yes (SoY?) I have embraced my inner Martha Stewart.

I have also just RSVPed to a neighbour's invitation to attend their birthday party, which will be on a boat-cum-restaurant they own. I am on a roll.        

If nothing else, the SoY may be one way to crest the rising tide of crazy that I increasingly find myself paddling in...

(Pic Credit: Google Images)

Monday 29 October 2012

Bare legs

It's true I get most of my exercise by jumping to conclusions, but would whoever stole Spring please put it back?

My barometer for the breadth and severity of winter is how long I've been wearing tights. This year, it feels as though I've spent more time with thick black hose than with family and friends.

But today it looked as though the tide was turning so I thought I'd leave the buggars at home; bad move. Yes the sun was out, but by knock off time, an absurdly cold wind was blowing. Tomorrow, I'll be rocking tights once again.

I cannot tell you on how many levels this displeases me.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Go the Giants!

A lovely Sunday.

There was cleaning, baking, 538 words of an article were written and bubbly and cake were shared with Rob, my pod buddy from the last contract, and his delightful partner Wendi.

Later, Bristol agreed to be wrapped in his Mummy's San Francisco Giants top to support his half-sister Molly and her humans Doug and Suzi, whose baseball team is one win away from another World Series.

Not really sure orange is working for him but he'll do anything for the Giants.

Saturday 27 October 2012

UK Dance Gazette Magazine

Apart from a few lessons when I was about 13, what I don't know about ballet would fill entire libraries. But that didn't stop the above magazine from commissioning me to write this piece in the current issue (link here). Or asking me to cover the Royal Academy of Dance's Genee competition which is taking place in Welly in December.

I may know slightly more by the end of it.

Friday 26 October 2012

Kind words

What I like to call a snakes-and-ladders kind of week - a few moves forward, only to slither back down.

But today at my (hopefully) last visit to the physio to fix my dodgy shoulder/neck, a chink of light filtered in.

My lovely physiotherapist, an English import who followed a man to NZ, said to me,"You have such a positive energy. It's why you've chosen such an interesting path. Don't ever stop being you".

As well as being better than a bucket of red wine or a fistful of chemicals, this woman is amazing at what she does. Not only is my shoulder sorted, I also have a smile on my face for one of the first times this week.

The following made me beam from ear to ear for another reason. Let's be clear, I don't approve of armed conflict in any shape or form, or of using innocent animals as cannon fodder, but even I couldn't fail to swell with pride at British army dog Theo who was today awarded the UK's highest award for animal bravery. The poor poppet died a few hours after his handler was killed, apparently from stress and a broken heart. Proves once again that canines are superior to us in every possible way.

Click here to read the story


Wednesday 24 October 2012

Waiheke travel article

The Dompost used my Waiheke travel piece today.

Which of course makes me want to go back there. The wanderlust seems to have crawled back out of its box; it must be restrained and returned to said place before I do something stupid like throw cash at a one-way ticket.

Click here to read the story:

(Pic Credit: DominionPost)

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Halloween for dogs

The Animator has always said he wouldn't allow any of his canines to be dressed up and "made to feel stupid". And while I agree with him, I can't help but smile at these crazy New Yorkers who visited all sorts of indignities on their furry friends at the largest Halloween parade in the US.

Click here for the Guardian pics          

Can't make up my mind: is the chihuahua impersonating a Thanksgiving turkey or the Yorkie who came as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs the most ridiculous?


Monday 22 October 2012

Swimming with dolphins

While we were celebrating Labour Day with, what else but more labour, across the Pacific Ocean, Ms Molly was hanging with a pod of dolphins at a San Francisco beach. Thanks to Doug for this video.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Roller derby

There were fierce women on quad skates, a stadium soaked in attitude and little ol' me trying to work out how to get those pesky wheels to do what I wanted them to do.

Am glad I was only permitted to do the warm-ups and not compete in the actual bouts; seriously, one jarring  fall was enough for my heart to hide behind my spinal column and refuse to come out until I agreed to stop. But I have run out of adjectives for how amazing roller derby is. Now I just have to write the bluddy feature....

(loving this sign on the wall which no-one paid the slightest bit of attention to)  


Friday 19 October 2012

The medical profession

Spoke too soon about having four days unfettered by grief.

Instead, I spent large chunks of today criss-crossing the city, taking off my top and opening my wallet. It's not what you think, though (and shame on you for letting your imagination roam) but after days of impersonating an ostrich, today an injury caught up with me.

Last week, while doing yoga, I felt my shoulder 'ping' and during the past few days it's gotten progressively worse. So today I spent 20 minutes with my lovely female doctor who said my mangled shoulder was 'pulsating', a description that sounded both pornographic and repulsive. She then sent me across town to a physio who did horridly invasive things to my upper body and, later, to a pharmacist who plied me with pain killers.

Ironically, tomorrow I am supposed to strap on skates and be body slammed by large women for a story  but, given today's developments, my participation may now be marginal.

Thankfully I did manage to make a slight dent in this weekend's ridiculous workload but could have done without losing so much time. On the upside, hopefully tonight I will have a decent sleep for the first time in a week.

Pic of the day is this furry wee fellow who makes me feel better just by being in the same room as him.


Thursday 18 October 2012

Four whole days

Turn the excitement dial up to 11...

Because I don't work Fridays and there's a public holiday on Monday, I get four days away from the gulag. No tedious meetings or grim tasks or trying conversations for four whole days.

My head may explode with the excitement.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Almost ruined my day...

I hate to get all political on yo' asses, because that's not why you come here.

BUT, I almost spat my green tea across the room this morning when I read about US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's flip flop on the abortion debate.

Yes, I am late to this and no I am not American and therefore ineligible to vote but this buffon intends to  outlaw a woman's right to choose, something that affects all of us with ovaries (and functioning brain cells).

This link charts his change of heart and his outrageous promise to withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood, a non-proft family planning entity. And, even more insidious, his pledge to overturn Roe V Wade, the 1973 ground-breaking US Supreme Court judgement that guarantees abortion rights.

Because that's all the world needs, right? More unwanted and unloved children (when it can barely feed, clothe and shelter those here now) and more screwed up lives.  

Here's hoping the American public do what's right come November 6.

Idiot politicians aside, my working from home day was taken up with a travel piece, research, a run along Ori Bay, a drive to the beach and a yummy omelette.

And this wee chap who manages to find pockets of sunshine in which to bask as effectively as a drone strike locates it target.


Tuesday 16 October 2012


The words are dancing today - they're just all doing different steps.

So instead of me you shall have cute doggie pictures. As shattered as I am, these pics from Tumblr still make the corners of my mouth turn up.


Monday 15 October 2012

Shopping in Shenzhen

Yesterday the Herald on Sunday ran my shopping in Shenzhen piece which they've had for ages.

Click here to read.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Death and other stuff

This dying thing strikes me as a bit of a design flaw. One minute you're laughing and loving and contributing, the next 200 people are crammed into a university auditorium picking over your life.

Today I went to the memorial service of the man for whom I was asked to write an obituary, a task that caused me no end of angst not only because I hadn't written an obit since journo school but also because he was such a major figure in the NZ film industry. As we were milling around, admiring Euan's animation sketches and pencil drawings, a man I'd never met came up to me and told me how much he'd enjoyed the obit. The fact that he was a fellow writer made my confidence rise up in delight that I'd done credit to Euan's memory.

Today was, as one of the Animator's former colleagues said, like a giant reunion; there was the liberal dispensing of hugs and kisses, of shrieks of delight at those who had travelled from the US and Australia, from all over NZ, at those whose lives had taken them on different trajectories. And laughter. Lots of laughter at the photos that looped on the giant screen, of Euan and a young Animator, of TV series and television adverts they'd  worked on, of careers in the ascendant.

And so we laughed and wept as the war stories and tributes came from brothers, cousins, former business partners and colleagues. We shared tissues and wiped away the mascara that streaked across our faces. The adjectives 'kind', 'inspiring' and 'generous' were shoved up against Euan's name time and again, not in a superficial that's-what-you're-supposed-to-say-at-memorials kind of way, but by people whose lives were profoundly changed by proximity to Euan's orbit. One bloke in a smart suit who'd jetted in from somewhere exotic spoke of being a young design graduate who couldn't catch a break from anyone. Euan, however, hired him and spent years nurturing and moulding his talent, to the point where he went on to become an award-winning producer.

The last to speak was Euan's widow, Viv, an amazingly courageous woman who recounted her 33-year journey with her husband, from their meeting at Camden Tube Station on their travels in the 70s, their two children and his showreel-dripping career to the cancer that clutched at him two years ago. By the time she mentioned Euan's generosity to the end - of the 72-year-old woman and 30-year-old man who are now benefitting from his donated corneas - we were all sniffling into tissues.

Later, as we stood around tables groaning with Euan's favourite vegetarian food (including his infamous wheatgrass shots) and drank glasses of velvety red wine, we shared our favourite anecedotes of the man whose memory we had braved the rain to celebrate. I told two of the speakers how well they'd spoken, how their words touched me and made my eyes leak.

As I type this, the gathering has moved onto a downtown bar; the Animator has joined them but tonight I feel an overwhelming need to be alone with my dog, a glass of wine and my Uggs. Death, they say, is the train that eventually pulls into everyone's station, but tonight I feel as though I've been run over by it.


Friday 12 October 2012

Today in bullets

lazy but effective....
  • Coffee with a lovely new client 
  • Snazzy new business cards
  • Finishing an annual report for another client
  • Lunch with the Animator
  • A long overdue facial with the guardian angel of skin, Marie.
And while I was having my tired old face caressed, the boy wonder was having his untidy locks shorn. The Animator aside, we are all looking very pretty in the Stephenson-Haughey household tonight.


After (check out his bitchin bandana):    

Thursday 11 October 2012

Last night

The sun was out, the cocktails were two for one and there was delicious fusion food.

Oh and these lovely shelias - and another who joined us after yoga - to chat, laugh and cry with.

I don't understand women who lose touch with their GFs after a bloke comes along; your cobbers were there before he showed up and they'll be there long after he rides into the sunset. I'm just glad that mine are so divine.


Wednesday 10 October 2012

A red letter day

Did I tell you that this week I finally got what I've been seeking for years - a three-day-a-week contract? Sorry, I must have been too busy hollering with joy to mention it.

But yes, as of this week, I will spend Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the PR gulag and Wednesdays and Fridays working on freelance gigs. Having spent years tucking freelance work into evenings and weekends, it will be a joy to finally have two whole days to dedicate to writing. Jeez, I might even be able to claw back some 'Me' time...

Today, my first day of freedom, I spent a hour editing a document for a client, two writing a Your Home & Garden article and another hour visiting a graphic designer for an annual report I've written. Later, I will pop into my favourite shop with more clothes for the lovely woman who sells them for me, and the printer to get my new business cards. Later still, there will be dinner with one of my BFFs, Lil, who is down from an Auckland for a few days and another friend I haven't seen for ages, so a loud, gossipy night is on the cards. I think I'm going to like this part-time working lark.

This was the sight that greeted us when Bristol and I went for a long, leisurely run along the waterfront this morning. Welcome sunshine, you've been gone far too long...

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Your Home & Garden's November issue

features a house I covered in the Wellington suburb of Hataitai, just though the tunnel from where I live. Click here to read.

I've been commissioned to write three more houses for them, and today collected commissions for a travel piece for a corporate publication, a feature about my 14 months in Bristol for another and a story for a glossy mag involving wheels, tattooed women and, most likely, much pain. My writing cup currently runneth over, which is no bad thing when you're a freelancer.

Monday 8 October 2012


Today's post is sponsored by champagne. As in the three glasses I downed while listening to the Prime Minister (who is actually quite short), and the even shorter French owner of Le Cordon Bleu, open NZ's first outpost of the French culinary giant.

I also caught up with folk I haven't seen for ages so there was much chat and laughter. Especially at the journo friend of mine who, while fighting her way across the room to say gidday, wound up man-handling  the PM (his back was to her, so she thought he was "just some bloke in a pin-striped suit". His security dudes apparently viewed the situation less favourably).

Sunday 7 October 2012

Yet another memorable quote

"It is my hair and it’s an amazing thing."  
Donald Trump

Of which the take home message is, no matter how bad things get, you can at least console yourself with the thought that you are not Donald Trump.

Saturday 6 October 2012


It's been a tough old week, workwise, and I realised I had to do something about the frustration and anxiety that were clinging to me.

In the end, I made the decision to give up a part-time contract I recently took on: it had become evident that it wasn't as part-time as I, or my agency, had envisaged. Subsequently, the week ended on a far better note than it began.

Today, there was time for a much-needed sleep-in before a Your Home & Garden Magazine interview with a delightful couple at their stunning Hataitai home (below). The rest of the weekend will be coloured in with more freelance work, time with my two favourite boys and generous servings of Pinot Noir.


Friday 5 October 2012

Quote of the day...

"Children are for people who can't have dogs"

said to me when I was making an appointment for Bristol's long overdue haircut.

Am LOVING the shit out of that quote.    

Thursday 4 October 2012

All hail the Animator

For the glorious redesign that is currently caressing your retinas.

Two and a half years ago, I sat in a slum-like flat in Bristol and tried to get my untechnical head around the intricacies of how to build a blog. Naturally, I picked the first template that looked reasonably uncomplicated and stuck with it.

But time for a change and, thankfully, I have an in-house designer to wave a creative wand over this wee enterprise. Hope you like it as much as I do.

 I should explain that the Animator isn't committing an act of gratituous vandalism above but this is the Peace Wall in Belfast where visitors are encouraged to add their signature    

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Free drinks and nibbles

And these nibbles should be good too, seeing as it's the launch of New Zealand's first Le Cordon Bleu school.

I interviewed the new director for the Sunday magazine a while back, so I get to go and watch the Prime Minister officially open the school. And eat myself stupid.

Shame they got my name wrong...

Monday 1 October 2012

Televisual excitement

As suspected, it was a stupidly busy day and although I really should be proofing copy for a client, tonight I am planning to superglue myself to the television for the new season premiere of two of the best shows on the  planet: the second series of the goose-bumpingly good drama Homeland (apparently President Obama's favourite show) and a series I have been in love with since the day it aired, and which never fails to send my eyebrows hurtling towards my hairline, Californication. 

My good jamas have been ironed in anticipation...


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