Saturday 20 December 2014

Early Xmas wishes

I'm about to go off blog for a bit.

Have a magical Christmas and see you on the other side...

(Pic credit: 

Thursday 18 December 2014

Interior Magazine

A couple of months ago, you may recall, I spent several hours chatting to a lovely architect who was responsible for waving the renovation wand over what has since become my new best friend, Loretta, a cafe at the top of Cuba Street (it's now my favourite spot for doing interviews).

The story has just been published in Interior Magazine's December issue (click here to read).

(Pic credit: Paul McCredie) 

Wednesday 17 December 2014


Today was:

30% research for two 1500 word pieces that have to be written over the break

20% excitement at landing two new commissions with two new publications - go me!

10% further excitement at organising my first media trip of the year - this one is only to the South Island but has the makings of a great weekend (and, hopefully, a good wee yarn)

10% shunting of words around the screen

10% drafting of questions for two upcoming interviews

5% walking and coffeeing around the Bay with my mate Rachel and her woofer Peggy

5%  wondering what the hell to have for dinner and if our visitor from San Francisco, who flies back in today, will notice that I haven't cleaned the house (epic fail in the house-keeping stakes this week)

5% refusing to go to Wednesday running group because the sky is furiously leaking

5% happy to be self employed so on days like this, when big fat raindrops snake down the windows, I'm cosy and dry at home .

On our way to meet Rachel and Peggy, a horrid Siamese type cat had a swipe at Bristol, which goes some way to explaining today's visual.

(Pic credit: Gemma Correll)

Tuesday 16 December 2014

My Paddy Gower profile is in North & South Magazine

It took two interviews, a morning trailing around Parliament's inner sanctum and a race to deadline before I flew to Europe in November.

But my profile of Paddy Gower, TV3's Political Editor, is published in the January 2015 issue of North & South Magazine. And, just quietly, think it turned out okay (Paddy emailed yesterday to say he liked it too, so a huge exhale).

Click here to read.


Friday 12 December 2014

A good Friday

I am almost at the standard December tipping point where excitement at wrapping another year fades into dread at things that still have to be completed/have been pushed under the carpet of avoidance.

But today I managed to brush the tediousness to one side with a road trip to Whanganui for a national magazine with a photographer mate I haven't seen for years. In fact, aside from one small gig I commissioned him to do when I worked for some dreary government department ages ago, we calculated we last worked together 15 or so years ago! For,in fact, the same magazine that commissioned us today! Catching up was all kinds of lovely and we filled the five and a half hour round trip with much laughter, gossip and interesting conversation.

And the chap we interviewed, a man who overcame incredible hardships to stand in front of the UN and argue for the rights of disabled people, was one of the most interesting men I've ever met. He was also humble and kind and generous. It's not overstating the fact to say he glued another piece of my battered faith in human kind back into place.

The cherry atop the icing of this superb day was running into a well-known comedian in Bulls, of all places, where we stopped for lunch. She was there to MC a function and the photographer and I had a whale of a time catching up with her. Happy days...

Today's visual is, what else, but the river city, Whanganui (sorry, inspiration has left the building for its Christmas break).


Thursday 11 December 2014

Two years

ago to the day, we lost our wee angel, Molly.

She had gone to live with friends in San Francisco when we moved to the UK and two years ago today her vet discovered a tumour on her spleen and sent her quickly and quietly to doggie heaven with her American parents by her side (click here to read). 

Not a day goes by when I don't think of Miss Molly and hope that she's having a lovely time in doggy heaven. Go well, sweet one.


Wednesday 10 December 2014

We bought a bach!

The next key on my key-ring will be for this 70s slice of retro heaven at Waiterere Beach!

Regular readers will know a large chunk of this year has been swallowed by searching for a classic Kiwi bach and after much rolling of eyes and saying of bad words, we finally found it. We're hoping to settle as soon as the lawyers finish doing whatever it is lawyers do.

And yes, it does commit many, many abuses of the style/colour/taste bible, but it's nothing buckets of white paint and a bit of interiors caressing won't solve. The key, of course, is to wave the renovation wand in a way that liberates it from its 70s prison, but still retains the essence of a bach, where you can walk sand through the house and feel relaxed about it.

It's two streets away from the beach and we couldn't be more excited. There is much repetition of the happy dance in our household at the moment.


Tuesday 9 December 2014

Good news

This morning I lay on hospital sheets and had my left breast fondled by a ridiculously young and gorgeous female surgeon. As she grappled with a misbehaving ultrasound machine, we talked of hand-bags and travel and where I got my top which she so admired (10 Euro in Amsterdam, if you want to know).

And then she fiddled a bit more and gave me the good news - the pesky lump has shrunk and, at this stage, there is no need to slice me open and whip it out. Thank goodness.    

There is, it appears, more good news to come. But that shall have to wait for tomorrow. In the meantime, how bleeding sweet is this advert for Airbnb? Note that it was a clever NZ company that did the painstaking work of putting it together (a company that the Animator did some work for in a previous life).

I should be writing a dreary story for an even drearier corporate client at the moment; instead I've been watching this on high rotation. It really is like cute crack....

Monday 8 December 2014

The first strawberries of the season

Usually have the consistency of cardboard that's been left out in the rain too long.

But these beauties, bought from a roadside stall near Levin, were bursting with flavour. We had them with cream, chasing the  fish and chips from Waiterere Beach's only takeout on Saturday night where we stayed at a friend's bach.

We also spent the weekend poking around three properties and have put an offer in on one. Crossing everything on my person that this will work out. Wish us luck...

Sunday 7 December 2014

Beauty and Kindness in Budapest

Today's Sunday Star Times' runs my story on Budapest (click here to read).

Thursday 4 December 2014

Not a bad way to spend an hour

After putting our US visitor on the plane to the deep south, I did an interview with the astonishingly talented photographer Birgit Krippner for a national magazine.

What with one thing and another, my view of humankind has been tarnished lately; the lovely Birgit restored it in an hour.

Now I just have to write the piece (along with the four other stories I have to complete by Monday).

Today's visuals are c/o of Brigit.


Sunday 30 November 2014

Sore + theatre + visitor from the US

Blame it on an over-full schedule, constantly being in catch-up mode or sheer stupidity. Or a combination of all three. But somehow I ended up at boot camp on Friday lunchtime, rather than the usual run. Of course, I couldn't pull out.

My hamstrings now feel as though they've been stretched to breaking point and I can barely reach around to do up my bra. Note to self: next time pay attention to which bleeding exercise sess you're signing up for.

In other news, last night we went to see my mate Neil's take on the classic Irish play, Playboy of the Western World, at the Irish Society.  Done pub theatre style, it was all kinds of lovely. If you're in Welli, and want a side order of  history with your Guinness, get yourself down there this week.

Today is filled with more work, a phone interview and a frenzied cleaning of the house before our friend Sheryl from San Francisco arrives to stay for a few nights.

Here's Neil and his gaggle of girlies from the play.


Saturday 29 November 2014

Dickens' A Christmas Carol

My interview with the lovely Daniel de Andrade, who crossed the world to direct A Christmas Carol for the Royal NZ Ballet, runs in today's NZ Herald (click here to read).


Thursday 27 November 2014

Warning: prepare for leaking eyes

It's been a bit of a week, what with losing the bach and the general overflowing of my bull-shit cup.

I was in desperate need of something to restore my faith. And then a friend sent me this video of Arthur, a stray dog who latched onto some Swedish athletes in Ecuador. These guys deserve Sweden's highest medal...  

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Baking and the corporate food chain

My piece for Boardroom Magazine is published in the current issue (click here to read).

In other news, we missed out on the Waiterere Beach place we put an offer in for. Cue much eye-rolling and saying of bad words. I was hoping we'd be able to secure a wee bolt-hole before summer so we could avoid having to listen to the neighbours' rubbish music and attitude. But, sadly, tis not to be.

Am sure we will find something eventually but, just at the minute, the silver lining is proving a little elusive...


Tuesday 25 November 2014

Like wrestling a rowdy octopus

I have spent large chunks of the day grappling with a sentence that doesn't want to work. I have arranged and rearranged the words in various combinations but to no avail. I am now at the stage where I want to slap it into submission.

But here's one I prepared earlier, from this month's North & South Magazine, featuring the lovely Sam Heeney who runs a company called Love to Cook (click here to read).

Monday 24 November 2014

Say cheese

Between the current round of property negotiations and increasingly stupid copy deadlines, there is precious little time for anything. A colleague and I did manage to get out for a run at lunchtime today, and it was glorious.

Certainly there is no time to blog, but instead you shall have these pics of the Animator and I fooling around at the Amsterdam Cheese Museum a couple of weeks ago. The young cashier told us he often had his wicked way with the dress up box when he was bored and encouraged us to play silly buggars with the props. When in Amsterdam....

Sunday 23 November 2014

Roses - The Sequel

Am fighting with deadlines today so there is no time for words.

Instead, you shall have these pink beauties from our back garden. They are currently filling the upstairs bathroom with the most divine summery smells. In case you're interested, the vintage marmalade pot was all of about three quid from a car boot sale at Cheddar Gorge. I truly heart it.

And so endeth the Martha Stewart portion of our show.


Saturday 22 November 2014

Could we finally have found a bach?

Or a weekender/holiday home, for my overseas readers.

After driving up the coast to Waiterere Beach several times this year, and not being able to agree on any baches, today we finally saw one that, as they like to say in the interiors magazines I write for, ticks all the boxes.

We now have to learn the tricky steps to the property negotiation dance - wish us luck.

I had planned to post pictures of Bristol on the beach today but the wind was blowing like buggery and all we got was a thorough exfoliation. So instead you shall have images of the first white roses of the season from my garden. This is, without a doubt, my favourite time of the year.


Thursday 20 November 2014

More books to review

Another courier arrived today, with some of the sweetest words known to womankind: "I have a parcel for you".

And with that, these little beauties entered my life. So that's my calendar booked for the next wee while...


Tuesday 18 November 2014

It's been a while between drinks

At least 15 years, by my count.

But when I was on a media trip to Melbourne back in August, the Woman's Weekly editor travelling with me persuaded me to start scribbling for them again.

These two pieces ran while I was in Europe - the first is a travel piece on Vienna (click here to read), the second a story on two child singers in the Royal NZ Ballet's production of A Christmas Carol (click here to read).

I have a few more travel pieces in the works for them, so it's good to be back.


Monday 17 November 2014

Have you met my butlers?

For the seven days and seven nights we spent floating down the Rhine, we had the services of these two incredible butlers, Valentina and Emil.

For two poor kids from the Hutt, it was a slightly surreal experience having a butler, letalone two. Even weirder was getting back to our stateroom at night and finding the cheap and nasty t-shirt I sleep in delicately draped across my pillow by a woman wearing white gloves. And having our laundry done (again, much angsting about getting Valentina to press a chain store dress for the Captain's Dinner - would she notice the label?!)

But we adjusted with indecent haste and, if I'm honest, every time I have to do something like unload the dishwasher or make a cuppa, I long for Valentina or Emil to appear and make these turgid domestic tasks disappear as though by magic.

Oh that my surname was Branson or Zuckerberg....


Sunday 16 November 2014

This is the life

The Animator has started the long and tedious process of sorting the 1100 pics he took in Amsterdam, during the Uniworld Castles of the Rhine cruise and in London to accompany the five stories I now have to write from this latest media famil.

These photos especially made me smile - they're of ourselves and the other Kiwi journo, Nicky, and her hubbie Carne, on our last day of the cruise as we made our way to Switzerland through about a million locks. It was getting cooler, hence the warm blankies, but being waited on as you watch beautiful villages slip silently by, isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon.


Saturday 15 November 2014

Home - after a mad dash through Hong Kong Airport

If you were in the vicinity of Hong Kong Airport's Terminal 1 on Thursday night, that woman tearing up the concourse like a deranged person was me.

My flight from Paris got in late and subsequently chewed through the allocated time for my connecting flight to Auckland. There was no time for a shower, but I was damned if I was going to go without my duty free (someone once told me that HK Airport's duty free is amongst the cheapest in the world and I have blindly believed it ever since). Of course, the gate for my Cathay Pacific flight was the furtherest from the Kiehl's counter as it was possible to get. A woman in one duty free store warned me it was "too far away - at least 20 minutes walk". Did I have time to get there - stock up on I'd-sell-a-kidney-for their Ultra Facial Cream - and make it back to my gate in time? Did I heck. As me and my trolley ducked and dived (is there anything more annoying in an airport - nay, anywhere - than aimless dawdling? Seriously people, get out of my way), I made it in 10 minutes, detoured by the Clinique counter for their divine 40+ City Block and still had time to wander a few more shops near my gate. And all to save about $30.

Apologies to those whose toes I may have met in my haste.

The Animator, who had to pay for his own flights, travelled through the US and arrived home about five hours before me. So he was at Welli Airport to collect me, and had already put on the first load of washing. Bless him.

We are both shattered - and subsequently were wide awake at 2.00am. It feels like a massive hangover - but without the preceding fun time. The horrid cabin pressure has also played havoc with my skin and I am now sporting a pimple on my nose that is so big, NASA may wish to identify it as a new planet.

But it is good to be home and to see the beautiful furry one, who was ably looked after by our lovely dog/house-sitter, George. Thanks G, we owe you one. Today's image is of the two of them.



Thursday 13 November 2014

One flight down, three to go

I am now in Terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle Airport, awaiting the next leg of the tortorous journey home.

I have also just eaten possibly the worst mozzarella baguette in the history of the world (honte, France!) but on the plus side, the WiFi here is whizz-bangingly fast, the same of which cannot be said for my least favourite airport in the world, Heathrow.

I now have to entertain myself for two and a bit hours until the flight to Honkers. Thankfully, I have a book that I'm supposed to be reviewing for North & South Magazine I brought with me and have barely cracked the spine. Time to get on the speed reading train.

Sad, I know, but all I can rustle up for your viewing pleasure today is this pic of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Au revoir kids, see you on the other side.

(Pic credit: Google Images) 

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Lovely London

It has been a whirlwind two days.

Sunday night I was fortunate to get  lift from Heathrow into London with a friend of the other Kiwi journo on the media trip. An Aussie lawyer who has lived in London for 30 years, my transport angel had a lovely new Merc and it was so much more civilised than crowding onto the Tube with almost every other human being in this city.

Our luck got even better when the hotel the accommodation the PR put us into, the Egerton House Hotel, upgraded us to one of their two suites. It featured two bathrooms and two sitting rooms, each of which was bigger than the average London flat. Did I mention it was five star? The Animator was beside himself with joy.

The rest of the time has been filled with shopping, eating and drinking, including a calorific afternoon tea at the Egerton which was followed by its famous martini masterclass for a story. I now know the difference between shaken, stirred and dirty martinis (and have the hangover to prove it). The Animator took some amazing snaps which I shall share once he converts them from raw files.

The hotel also threw us a couple of tix to the ever wonderful V&A - I last crossed the threshold to this venerable old museum  years ago for a swanky black-tie function. Today, I didn't spend nearly enough time checking out the wedding dress exhibition, which featured frothy confections from 1775 to the current day, while the Animator revelled in the Constable exhibition.

A highlight of our fleeting stay has been catching up with a couple of the Animator's previous colleagues and my lovely, lovely mate Kurt who I worked with at the BBC about the same time the unicorns were refusing to get on the ark. I missed Kurt when I was here in June, so it was all manner of lovely to catch up.

This morning there was an interview with an amazing Kiwi chef, one half of a leading celebrity foodie couple, and an interesting encounter with a drugged-out wide-boy in an alleyway near her Shoreditch restaurant (which I must incorporate in the story).

Tomorrow we schlep out to Heathrow and hours and hours of flying. Goodbye London, as always, it's been fun...

Apologies for the lack of photos; there has been a slight incident with a leaking water bottle and my handbag; suffice to say I am more than ready for a new iPhone.



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