Saturday 31 December 2016

Good riddance to 2016

The one thing no-one could accuse 2016 of is being boring. There were global political rumbles, actual seismic rumbles and a Grim Reaper busier than Trump's propaganda team.

On a personal level, it was a real snakes and ladders year - one step forward, one slide back. Thankfully nothing too major, just a bunch of annoyances strung together like baubles on a necklace that made me roll my eyes more than I probably ever have.

BUT, everything comes to an end and, thank Christ, 2016 is almost done. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Here's my once-over-lightly post-mortem of 2016:         

Things I loved:
  • Media trips to Italy, Vietnam, Canada, the US, Australia and Dubai
  • A new rental property
  • A milestone birthday (and the freedom it gave me to decide the life I want and go about creating it, as well as not giving any f*cks anymore about what anyone thinks. Getting older is way cooler than it's given credit for). 
  • Finally chucking in govt contracting (it only took 10 years!!)
  • A fabulous part-time PR/copywriting gig (NOT govt!)
  • Lots of interesting commissions to write the shizzle out of
  • A couple of new magazines to write for
  • Monday night SPCA puppy waking volunteering - the highlight of my week 
  • The Welly Childfree Chicks group - so nice to have like-minded women to talk to. I only wish I had made it to more events but I will definitely be a starter in 2017.  
  • Red wine
  • Running; it may be a bit optimistic to put this in the 'love' category but it keeps me sane and helps with the lard-arse management   
  • New friends, old friends and my two favourite boys.

Things I didn't love so much:
  • The world's shocking slide into the toilet (Brexit and Trump, I'm looking at you)  
  • Earthquakes - enough already
  • A contract that made me want to chop my head off
  • Work that didn't make my soul sing
  • Bitchy, arsey editors who treat freelancers like something stuck to the bottom of their shoe (I'm convinced there is a special place in hell for these women)
  • The dickhead bogan who moved a house onto the section next to us at the beach, prompting us to sell our beach-house (actually, it worked out okay in the end because we made some dosh and it's actually quite a relief to have one less house to worry about, so maybe this should be in the above category).   
Movies I laughed and cried at:
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  • Spotlight
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • The Light Between Oceans
  • Captain Fantastic
  • The Girl on the Train
  • Sing Street
  • The BFG
  • A Bigger Splash
  • Loving
  • Zootopia.
Books I adored (of the 25 review books I read this year):
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Ballroom by Anna Hope
  • The Long Room by Francesca Kay
  • Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
  • The Mother by Yvette Edwards
  • Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard
  • The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
  • Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg.  
Unmissable tee-vee (to be fair, the list of films above is so light because telly really is the new cinema, in our house, anyway):
  • Transparent
  • The Affair
  • Stranger Things
  • American Crime
  • The Crown
  • Girls
  • America Divided
  • Orange is the New Black 
  • Homeland
  • Happy-ish
  • Suits
  • Divorce
  • Empire
  • United Shades of America.

The soundtrack to my year:
  • Prince/Bowie/Cohen and now George Michael - all gone too soon
  • Sia
  • Beyonce
  • The jazz and classical music stations on Pandora, the only music I can work to. 

Happy New Year, y'all. Hope 2017 is everything you want it to be. 

(Pic credit:

Friday 30 December 2016

How freaking cool is this?

While everyone is out frolicking in the sun I, alas, am lashed to my computer wading through a never ending list of stories.

But while researching a travel piece, I came across this, a time-lapse miniature Wellington by local film-maker Jared Gray.

It's a pretty spectacular look at the coolest wee capital in the world (click here to view).


Thursday 29 December 2016


It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: two Kiwis, two Germans, an Italian and a Dutch woman walk into a bar....

That's what happened today when some of the Animator's colleagues from his Aardman (Bristol) days were passing through Welly. We had a fabulous afternoon playing catch-up; so much so that even the 5.5 magnitude jolt at 3.30pm couldn't put us off our stride.

And then we came home and sat in the garden and drank cold white wine until it was time for the German travellers to head for the Ferry for the South Island leg of their trip.

Every Thursday should be this good.


Wednesday 28 December 2016

No rest for the wicked

As my mother likes to say.

Today I was back into work mode, wandering around this stunning Welly home for a story for a national magazine.

As it transpires, the owners once lived in our Mt Vic house (yes, there really are only two degrees of separation in New Zealand!)

(Photos: supplied)

Tuesday 27 December 2016


It's an odd thing to cry for a stranger. To feel sad and shed tears for a celebrity, for someone I've never met, on an ordinary summer's day at the bottom of the world, is a very strange thing indeed.

But that's what I did yesterday, when I heard that George Michael had gone. It's silly really, but his silky voice formed the sound-track to my youth: it was there for the break-ups, the growing-up and everything in-between. I danced with abandon to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go at Candyos, a dodgy Lower Hutt nightclub we used to sneak into as under-aged Sacred Heart students, I sighed over George's floppy blonde locks in the video to Last Christmas and the day I graduated from journalism school in Auckland, we busted out the gin and Faith and had a party that started at noon and reached far into the next day. A few years later, when I lived in Wood Green in North London, I saw George being ushered into a sleek black Range Rover outside a Greek cafe that someone told me belonged to his uncle; I wasn't too cool to stop and stare.

This morning, as I dragged my sorry butt around the Wellington waterfront, a world away and decades after my infatuation with Gorgeous George, I had this song on high rotation. It's my favourite George Michael song and I will never tire of listening to that incredible voice.

RIP George.

Monday 26 December 2016

Before and after

When life hands you a sunny Boxing Day, a couple of tins of black paint and a back garden desperately in need of being updated, what's a girl (and an Animator) to do?

Here for your viewing pleasure is what our two garden sheds looked like when we awoke this morning:

And what they looked like four and a bit hours later. Pretty spiffing, eh?

Saturday 24 December 2016

A not-so-merry Christmas

My story on one of the worst Christmases of my life is in today's NZ Herald Canvas Magazine (click here to read).

No matter where you are in the world, hoping you have a better one than I did all those years ago.

Thursday 22 December 2016

Trump's world view

This made me laugh today and believe me, I needed it.

You'd think that deadlines would ease off in the days before Xmas; not so. Everyone wants everything done NOW. Which is driving me slightly insane.

Hence the need for humour, no matter how depressing the reality of the situation below is.


(Apols for lack of credit, someone sent this to me and I can't  find the creator. But he/she did a bloody fine job). 

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Asian with a twist

A couple of weeks ago, you may recall, I was invited to the launch of the Dragonfly cookbook (Dragonfly, for those readers not from Wellington, is a fabulous restaurant owned by brother and sister Tania Salidi and Brent Wong).

My story about them and their cookbook is published in the January issue of North & South Magazine (click here to read).

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Dogs and wreaths

Last night we had our final SPCA puppy walk of the year. It was gloriously sunny (the season has finally remembered its name) and I had the pleasure of walking this wee sweetie - a four month old heading dog.

The Animator joined us after work with Bristol, as he is wont, and wee Brizz wasn't terribly happy his Mama was walking another dog. There was much puffing out of his chest and growling at the puppy, who only wanted to play. I couldn't be cross at the Hound for long though, the poor sweetie had been to the vet for his annual jab yesterday and was feeling a bit poorly.

But I've loved every minute of the SPCA volunteering this year (okay, maybe not the winter months when it was so cold I lost feeling in my toes) and I will definitely be back next year.

In other news, I finally got sick of our tacky tinsel/fake ivy wreath and attempted to make a fresh one using bits and bobs from the garden. God only knows how long it will last in this heat but it doesn't look too shabby, if I say so myself.


Monday 19 December 2016

Shanghai sensations

My first ever story in Dish magazine, a food/travel piece on Shanghai, is published in the December/January issue (click here to read).

Saturday 17 December 2016

Gorgeous Greytown

Yesterday the photographer and I wound our way over the Rimutakas into Greytown for a story about Food Forest Organics, the plant-based store/eatery set up director James Cameron a couple of years ago.

The sun shone, the vegan food was delicious and we had a lovely day. Now I just have to write the bloody story.




Thursday 15 December 2016

Summer gardening

I might not be the gardener of the family but that didn't stop me from writing a story about maintaining a summer garden. It's published in the latest Zones newsletter (click here to read).


Wednesday 14 December 2016

Today was filled with

An interview with one of Wellington's leading architects and a tour of one of his renovations for an article for a national interiors magazine (now I just have to stop faffing and write the bloody piece).

There was also a cuppa with one of my oldest mates, Frieda, who gave me my belated birthday present (we have been trying, and failing, to catch up for months), this stunning Ecoya candle.

There was supposed to be a visit to Bristol's least favourite place, the vet, for his annual check-up and jab but they called to reschedule so he has a few days' reprieve.

And I slaved over a hot KitchenAid to produce this mango mascarpone tart to take to dinner at friends tonight.

Best of all, the sun came out so we shall sit on our friends' gin lawn and eat, drink and gossip. What every Wednesday night should be like.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

A capital time

In July, you may recall, three Kiwi journos slipped over to Canberra for a few days to help publicise Singapore Airlines' direct flights from Welly to the Australian capital.

I was one of those writers and my second travel piece from that famil is published in the January 2017 issue of NEXT Magazine (click here to read).

Monday 12 December 2016


While sorting though my notes and thousand-odd photos from last month's media trip to Italy (in preparation for the many stories that have to be written), I came across this photo which was taken at the top of Mount Solaro on the Island of Capri (after we'd braved the dodgy chair lift to get there - health and safety, it seems, isn't quite the thing in Italy it is here!)

Anyway, this is Sam who was my tour director on the Trafalgar Tastes and Sounds of the US South media trip I did last October. He now works for Insight Vacations' LA office and he came up to me the first night in Rome and said, "Do you remember me?" Hilarious...I always knew I'd run into the Alabama-born chap with the gentle southern accent somewhere in the world.

As with last time, Sam was an absolute pleasure to travel with (note his questionable moustache was for Movember).

Sunday 11 December 2016


A few months back we stayed at the gorgeous Atahuri, courtesy of those nice folks at the Kapiti Coast District Council. My review is published in today's Sunday Star Times (click here for the online version).

Saturday 10 December 2016

Cherry bomb

My story about Radical Dog, the cutest wee dog biscuits that help arthritic pooches (made from cherries in Oamaru), is published in the December issue of North & South Magazine (click here to read).

Friday 9 December 2016

Bug Lab

I have been invited to today's media conference for the amazing Bug Lab at Te Papa which opens to the public tomorrow.

Those wizards at Weta Workshop have once more been involved (in fact, some of the Animator's colleagues worked on it) and it looks as amazeballs as the WWI exhibition they did that's still on at our national museum. If you haven't been to that yet, then what the hell are you waiting for?! And while you're there, check out the Bug Lab.

(Pic credit: Te Papa and Fairfax)

Thursday 8 December 2016

Homegrown happiness

My story on this gorgeous Welly home is published in the December issue of Capital Magazine (click here to read).


Wednesday 7 December 2016

Going green

My story on living walls is published in the December issue of Renovate Magazine (click here to read).


Tuesday 6 December 2016

Cook book launch

The lovely folk at Welly restaurant Dragonfly - temporarily closed because of that dastardly quake - are launching their new cookbook tonight.

I've done a story on them and the cookbook for a national magazine which should be out next week but in the meantime am excited to go along tonight to celebrate with them (and sample some of their delicious food).


Monday 5 December 2016

A good day

A day bookended with dogs, and studded with friends and courier pacels, couldn't fail to be positive.

This morning there was a walk along Ori Parade and coffee with my friend Julia and her two woofers, while tonight it was back to the usual Monday SPCA puppy walking.

My puppy was this adorable three-month old mixed breed - the first time she had ever been walked. There was much biting of her lead, walking backwards and refusing to go. I also had to carry her for large sections of the walk, given that the unfamiliar asphalt was tough on her tender wee paws. But oh my, she was a doll (apologies for the rubbish pics, it's hard to snap a puppy who won't sit still).

Today there was also this delivery of three new review books for North & South Magazine which I am looking forward to reading.

All of which qualifies as a good day in Shazzyland.    

Sunday 4 December 2016

Stroke of genius

My piece on Kent Lambert, the brains behind Lambert's Luscious Beard Oil, is published in this month's issue of North & South Magazine (click here to read).

Friday 2 December 2016

Signature style

Playing catch-up but my story on having a signature style was published in last Saturday's NZ Herald's Canvas Magazine (click here to read the online version).


Thursday 1 December 2016


Thirty something hours ago, I was being driven through rush-hour traffic in Rome (when is it not rush-hour there?) by a mad-man who drove as though  someone had spilled a pint of acid in his lap.

A tangle of flights, airline lounges (grazie mille, Emirates!) and more calories than I would eat in a week later, and I arrived in Wellington to a gloriously sunny day.

It was so good to see my two boys and (middle age alert) my gorgeous white roses which were tiny buds when I left two weeks ago.

As much as I adore Italy, it is lovely to be home.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Pompeii - and the end

The last day of our Insight Vacations media famil was spent driving from Sorrento to Pompeii and then onto Rome for our last night.

Tomorrow night, I fly from Rome to Dubai, spend five hours in the lovely Emirates lounge, and then do the 16 and a bit hour schlep to Auckland (it's an hour or so less going that way). And then two hours and another short hop to Welly.

Before that there will be a last few hours spent in the glorious city of Rome, soaking up the late autumn sun and attempting to off-load the last few Euro.

See you on the other side...


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