Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

I’ve been watching Wimbledon the last week. An 11-hour time difference means that I suffer severe “jet-lag” for about a week. It didn’t help that there have been the semis and final of the World Cup Cricket, also being played in the UK. (I only watch cricket when NZ is playing, and against the odds, we got into the final). So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to reset my body clock again this week.

Apart from our first few days back, winter hasn’t been very wintry, and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I like to wrap up in coats and scarves. It has been several years since I’ve needed to wear a hat and gloves during our winter, and I don’t even know if I could find them now. Maybe I need to move further south?

I found my reading mojo again somewhere in Japan, after losing it some years ago. That has continued since I came home. After being well behind my Goodreads target this year (which was dramatically reduced to only 20 books after failing badly last year), I’m now several books ahead of schedule. I’m loving it; I have no idea why it has been so difficult these last few years.

Our oak tree that is just outside our dining room window is, of course, now bare of leaves for the next few months. So we have been able to see the tui flitting around in its branches or settling in for a long and loud choral session. It feels like they’re singing “welcome home.”





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Sightseeing in some cities (Tokyo) involves taking subways, which are usually convenient, cheap and easy to take. In other cities, it involves the adventure of local bus services, especially adventurous in places with different languages and scripts, though locals are generally friendly and helpful, telling us when to get off (Busan, Korea) because they can guess where we want to go! In many cities though, it involves walking, a lot of walking, and we certainly got our step counts up in many of the cities we visited in the last couple of months. In some countries, we can supplement the walking with taxis and cyclos/rickshaws etc if we wish. Walking in the heat and humidity is another issue. Coming home, though, we realised how easy it would be to lapse into a habit of only occasional exercise. So, on days when it hasn’t been raining, we have ventured out to pound the streets.

This morning, it was an absolute joy to put on my walking shoes, my cap, sunglasses and a lightweight walking jacket and head out. It was a perfect winter’s day – still, clear, cold but not too cold (about 11C probably). The greens of all our evergreen native trees were very green, the blue of the sky was blue, and the tui were going mad in the macrocarpa tree just down the street. The harbour was calm and blue, with container ships and ferries gliding across it. A few trees and shrubs were in flower – I don’t know if that’s by design, or because this winter has been unusually (or perhaps the new norm) warm.

School holidays started this week, so the park at the bottom of our street was full of boys at a football camp, whilst their parents were at work. A new home-owner was out digging up her garden, doing some serious restructuring with a pick-axe at this time of year. Another woman further on was pruning some trees, taking off major chunks. New parents ventured out of their driveway with their twins all wrapped up against the cold in the double pram.

I love walking in new places, to see new things. But it’s nice walking here at home too.

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Where life takes us

Tonight I had dinner with my niece and her husband. They’re on their honeymoon and are having a whale of a time, relishing new experiences full of energy and zest for life together. In contrast, my husband and I are more sedate, enjoying revisiting our destination after an absence of over 20 years, and taking things slightly easier, wilting a little in the steaminess of a Vietnam summer heatwave.

It seems strange to meet up so far from home, in such an exotic destination. The fact we are in the same town on the same day was entirely unplanned, but very welcome. They’ve both individually experienced tragedy and loss. We’re celebrating a major birthday, but might have been doing it another way if things had worked out differently. We never know where life will take us.

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I am thankful for:

  1. Being able to afford a new car when the old one was brought to a quicker death than anticipated.
  2. Being born in New Zealand.
  3. Air travel that allows me to visit the rest of the world.
  4. Tomatoes. Without them, the world would be a sadder, blander, less healthy place.
  5. Intellect that allows me to connect, to learn languages, to write.
  6. My husband.
  7. A good book.
  8. The fact that a good book is always with me when I have my phone.
  9. Technology that connects me with friends all over the world.
  10. Friends.


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… so far …

  1. Ice-cream is an accepted major food group
  2. The women all wear hats or, even better, carry umbrellas in the sun
  3. There is no shortage of restrooms
  4. Speaking of which, heated seats and privacy music
  5. Pine trees are decorative
  6. Shinkansen (bullet trains) whisking us across the country
  7. Public transport systems that work for millions
  8. Vending machines everywhere for drinks and of course, ice cream
  9. Bento boxes
  10. Japanese bathrooms in our hotel rooms – a true wet room, with separate basins/dressing areas
  11. Seven Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson’s – where you can buy just about anything, including breakfast, lunch and dinner
  12. The way a bow of the head means so much – “go ahead” or “thank you” or I’m sorry” or “never mind.”

Things I don’t like, so far:

  1. Crowds, crowds, crowds, foreigners and Japanese
  2. Plastic packaging in the extreme.
  3. Walk or ride escalators on the left or right, I don’t care – just pick a side and stick to it!

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Right Now

Reading: After months of reading very little in terms of books, I just finished Normal People by Sally Rooney, which I raced through in just a couple of days. Next, inspired by Lori’s review, and thanks to my library which bought an e-book copy only a week after I searched for it, I have started The Seed: Infertility is a Feminist Issue, by Alexandra Kimball. I’m looking forward to that.

Watching: Game of Thrones. Though I’m upset I will miss the last couple of episodes when we are away. I blame my husband for having an inconveniently placed birthday, though it is not really his fault! But also other favourites that have all been on again recently, like Killing Eve, Billions, Tin Star, Counterpart (the one where the worlds split in two).

Listening: To my Duolingo language app.

Following: The photos and tales from my sister-in-law and her family who have been visiting Japan.

Drinking: Tea. Lots of tea. Earl Grey when I’m cold, green tea for lunch, chamomile before bed, and every few days, other herbal and fruit teas to vary my liquid intake, when I’m sick of water.

Eating: Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs, and this weekend, for my father-in-law’s 90th birthday, slow roast lamb and a rich chocolate cake. So starting tomorrow, we’ll be able to get back to normal healthy eating.

Anticipating: Our trip next month, to two countries that are new to me, and one I haven’t visited since 1996. I’ll be excited once I get everything done here I need to do before I go!

Contemplating: What to do with relatively newfound freedom once we get back from our trip.

Loving: Autumn. More on that anon.

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months.

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I’ll probably never do it, but every time a movie or TV show ends, I’m fascinated by the company names and always start imagining what I would call something. Wine labels too now have some wonderful names, for example.

In South Australia we visited the Bird in Hand winery, and enjoyed the Two in the Bush shiraz. I have some Arrogant Frog wines in our cupboard in the room next to me, and there are countless other wine labels with fun and fascinating names, none of which I can recall right now. I always thought if I became an interior designer, I could use the mali flower, and call it Jasmine Designs. I’d like to call something after the horrible name our road was given when I was at school. Swamp Road Film Productions, perhaps?  Or Suzy the Sheep Enterprises, after a memorable pet, Two-Room School after my primary school, or perhaps Tadpole Island Wines, after a little island in a stream behind our house where my sister and I used to play. 

Do you have any secret names for great productions tucked away, at the ready, for when opportunity knocks?

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