Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

  1. Winners for postcards from 4 of the 7 new countries I’ll be visiting over the next couple of months are:
    – Jess, for Iceland
    – IndigoBunting, for Russia
    – Turia, for Denmark
    – Nicole, for Norway
  2. a guessed a Baltic Sea Cruise, as did a friend of mine on Facebook (where I linked this post), and because technically they’re correct, I’m giving them both the option of guessing again for specific ports, but you can also guess too, on my original post or via email malinzblog(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)nz. (a, I hope you’re reading this!)
  3. Over the very quiet four-day Easter weekend (hence Monday blog on a Tuesday), apart from taking a walk every day, I amused myself with some sewing. I was amazed at how easily certain things came to me (eg the muscle memory of loading the bobbin and inserting it into the machine that I bought way back when I was a Master’s student at university and earned some money as an assistant teacher), considering that I haven’t sewn regularly since the 1980s, and first learned most of these techniques in the 1970s.
  4. I’m enjoying my sister’s (and BIL’s too I guess) avocados at the moment, lovely and big and creamy, and so much cheaper (ie free) than the supermarket.
  5. We’re also feeling furious every time we drive past a petrol station at the moment, because we were about seven hours north a week or two ago, and noticed that the price of petrol was thirty cents cheaper there than it is in our city. We pay $2.05 per litre (an online calculator tells me that this is about US$5.54 per gallon), but if we lived where my sister lives, we’d be paying $1.74, and that’s NOT fair!
  6. There is a distinct autumnal feeling in the air here in New Zealand, the sun is going down so much earlier now, the leaves on our oak tree are definitely turning, and I’m thinking it’s time to put those (hardly-worn) summer clothes away for six months or so.

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As many of you know, I love compiling my photos after a trip, then completing a photo book. Over three years ago, when we came home after our five month trip to the Middle East and Europe, I set to work, relishing seeing all our photos again, and producing three books – one for the Middle East, one for our three months spent in Italy, and one for our Poland, Slovenia and Switzerland explorations.

I had also kept a blog during the trip and thought it would be nice to have a hard copy, so I sought out blog-to-book software, settling on Blurb’s Booksmart. Initially, I thought that maybe I could incorporate my blog into a wider book, filling in the bits I never got to write about when I was away, but life intervened, and the project languished for months at a time. Finally, a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to finish it off; my forthcoming trip and the fact that the company was offering a 40% discount for a limited time were added incentives!

After proof-reading over 100 pages, I finally sent it off for printing, receiving it back last week. It was just what I needed to cheer me up:



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After the gym this morning, I stopped around the bays at one of my favourite cafes for a welcome coffee, after abstaining over the weekend. The good weather of the past week of so had vanished, and we were encased in misty rain and low clouds, limiting visibility and sucking the colour from everything except the bright yellow and orange lifeguard stand in the middle of Oriental Bay, pointless and forlorn, useful for only a few short days this summer-in-name-only.

Unlike the sunny days we basked in last week when locals and visitors had filled its tables inside and out, today the cafe was not crowded. I had avoided it for the summer months when school holidays and cruise ships had contributed to crowded waterside cafes, and today it was just how I like it. Cosy inside, with its deliberately kitsch 70s decor, there were a variety of customers; a man on his laptop between meetings, the three elderly women catching up over coffee and cake, a few young couples, including the couple grabbing a coffee in the under cover outside tables so one of them could smoke, later replaced by a man who was simultaneously indulging his caffeine, nicotine and crossword addictions, and of course, there was me, reading, watching, and writing.

Outside and also under cover, a sleepy bulldog was curled up in the dog bed, looking ever so slightly grumpy and unappreciative when one of the staff woke him to give him a pat. He was then regularly disturbed by deliveries and customers coming and going, wearily opening one eye to check on proceedings as they walked by. He’s trying to sleep again now, his eyes closed, weighed down by his wrinkles, plump and perfect, unlike my own.

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  1. When do people ever have the time to listen to podcasts?
  2. How can someone have a workout and then not shower afterwards?
  3. Why would you bother buying a Maserati four-door sedan?
  4. Why did the plural “there are” disappear (particularly in speech), and when did “impact” become a verb (with a nod to my friend who once titled his blog, “Impact is not a verb”)?
  5. What is the attraction of selfies?
  6. By deliberately not revealing our 2017 holiday destinations yet, have I made it an inevitable anti-climax when I finally do, and will I know when it is the right time to do the big reveal?
  7. Will I ever get around to tidying my office?
  8. Is it obvious that five of these questions had been recorded for this post for a while, and three of them were made up on the spot to get to eight sentences?

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Yesterday I kicked myself as I drove again to the gym, around the bays, where the harbour was a flat, reflective, surface, the boats and boathouses sitting perfectly in the morning light, just waiting for me to photograph them with the camera that, you guessed it, I’d left back at the house.

Still, I worked out at the gym where the glass doors were flung open onto the balcony, enjoying the feelings of a summer come at last, and realised I didn’t need a camera to appreciate the sights, or to take them for my blog readers.


Then, I drove further east, through movieland – occasionally called Wellywood, the base of Peter Jackson and Weta’s extensive movie-making businesses, the birthplace of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, where work on Avatar and many other movies is ongoing – through to the seaside suburb with the movie-industry-induced high residential prices, and always the feeling as if you’re on holiday at the beach, where I was meeting a friend who had escaped the Polish winter for a week or two, and had been welcomed home with a perfect day.

We sat beachside to catch up, appropriately donning hats and sunscreen, over coffee and avocado-smash toast, enjoying the sight of the interisland ferries passing out in the channel, plotting some last adventures offshore before her years in Europe end and before old age (and, in my case, lack of funds) gets us.


Then I drove home around different bays, enjoying the spectacular views and making note of old piers for future photography assignments, noting truly that you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, even though this year they have truly been few and far between.


The afternoon was spent working at my in-laws, taking advantage of the lack of wind to chop down/prune some trees, to collect bags of lemons which my in-laws hate to go to waste but forget to give away, the by then inevitable visit to the tip (which is much less frenzied on a Monday), and a few minutes to play with my camera, enjoying the different angles of their raised flowerbeds, and the copulating butterflies who were also taking advantage of this stunning day.

The day ended with drinks on our deck, shaded by one of our trees, taking therapy not only from the alcohol and fine weather, but from watching the tui and fantails and many other nondescript and therefore nameless birds in our trees, the quantity of which (as I had learned earlier in the day from national radio) apparently decidedly reduces our stress levels (as I am sure my bird-watching friend are well aware). It’s good to have another reason to relax outside with a camera, a drink, and each other – not that I needed one after the pleasure of spending time with friends and the satisfaction of a job well done.


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Nineteen days into February, when in previous (almost as disappointing) years autumn was preparing to knock on the door, summer has decided to turn up for a visit. After a bit of gloom yesterday morning, and some overnight rain, we’re now basking in the second consecutive day of sun and warmth. I’m wearing a sunfrock for only the second time this year, and this morning I had breakfast out on the deck, enjoying the fact that I was not locked into an air-conditioned office like the rest of my friends.

I’d already resigned myself to the fact that summer this year was a bust and so, after many weeks of disappointment and disbelief and shock, I decided to relax and see the funny side.

I’m doing that elsewhere in my life too, where I’ve experienced similar emotions (and I suspect I’m not the only one). Frustration and anger are exhausting and can be upsetting, and the resultant swearing – although research says that it can be therapeutic – might be briefly satisfying but isn’t sustainable long term. So right now, I find I feel better instead when I can laugh and say, “Good grief!” and so I’m saying it multiple times a day this summer.

But not today – today I’m going to enjoy the moment, the sound of the cicadas outside, the blue sky, and the balmy temperatures.



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I’m enjoying the photography challenge that I do in between Microblog Mondays posts, but I think I’ve realised that one of the things I like best about it is that I get to explore things that are important to me, and to then write about them here (however briefly), taking as much or more pleasure in that than I do the photography.

I found my old camera!

The grilled chicken sandwich I made for lunch, with leftover chicken from dinner last night (marinated in coriander – cilantro for you North Americans – and mint and lime juice and red curry paste) and the spicy banana chutney that goes with it.

Remembering that friends and relatives are so important to our well-being, and should be celebrated. The last few days have been especially good – I got to see two friends on Friday, a niece and her partner on Saturday (and it was fine enough to have drinks on the deck), and other friends for dinner last night, a friend who spends half her life in France will be visiting in a few weeks, and I’m anticipating the arrival home of another friend after four years in Europe.

That we manage to balance our interests by happily driving an old, increasingly beat-up car (we bought it new 19 years ago), not owning diamonds or fancy clothes or expensive shoes etc, so that we can travel.

After waking up (at 5 am) to a gale that was shaking the house and rattling the roof, with mists that shrouded the house at the same time, followed by heavy rain, now it is bright and sunny (though still reasonably windy). Three seasons in one day, but there’s still time for a fourth, so here’s a Crowded House treat for you:

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