Sunday, July 30, 2006

He ain't heavy - he's my brother

In NZ we are over half way through July 30th 2006.

Now I tried to wait for you till I started, but the day was going cold so I'm afraid I just had to tuck in.

Hence I have greedily consumed half of my brother's birthday before his has even arrived.

Such terribly bad manners - but really the time difference makes it all so difficult to maintain etiquette.

(Speaking of etiquette I once saw a programme on it which taught you how to eat a banana with a knife and fork. Very strange.)

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAMES! It's a bit of a gloomy day here - but I feel confident that the UK heatwave will ensue you have a much warmer starter to yours. (Perhaps a warm stilton salad with walnuts?)

My brother, for those of you who have failed singularly to make his acquaintance - CUH and TSK - is 2 years younger than me. Darker. Taller. Infintesimally better at computer games. And also a better cook. (He taught me how to cook rice - for which I and my pan bottoms are indebted to him).

Now unless I am having some strange memory lapse....my version of events of our childhood is that we always got on. Hence I've never really understood the whole 'hating your brother' and 'fighting with your brother' thang.

I mean there was the occasion he threw a garden fork at me and it stuck in the back of my leg. And then that time when he and his friends tried to stone me in the garden. But apart from those 2 small incidents we got on famously.

Plus I always ate my portion of sweets much quicker than him and then he would kindly share his with me too. How can you fight with someone who keeps you sugared up like that?

I took a trip down memory lane in Queenstown when Dave and I went into an Olde Englishe Sweetie Shoppe. It was like being transported back in time 20 years. My goodness the amount of sweets we consumed together - bags of sherbert pips, cola cubes, pineapple cubes, cough candy, dolly mixture, jelly babies. It's amazing we have any teeth left. And skin on the roof of our mouths. Good times.

Of course when he was very young, James was the focus of some of my imaginative pranks. I had him fully believing that I had a fairy train under my bed. And that every night I would go off on this train to Fairyland - only to return in the morning.

Mind you my attempts to appear to him as a fairy in the middle of the night (dressed up in floaty gear and with a wand) - failed singularly. Firstly cos I was giggling so much with deceptive glee and secondly, because even he knew I was way too large to be a fairy. Dang it.

A seminal moment in my life was a brief conversation we had on the stairs once at 14 Locksley Drive. I remember it distinctly. I was standing hanging over the bannister and he was coming up the stairs. I made some comment about Top of the Pops. James looked at me - with awe, awe, I tell you - and said "You know so much about pop music!"

I was being admired by my bro -for being knowledgeable and hip. It was a wonderful moment.

And for sure the only time anyone has ever said that to me about Pop Music. As I actually know almost nothing. Except for an awful lot of Stock, Aitken and Waterman lyrics.

I, in turn, admired and admire my brother for many, many things.

When we were growing up he showed a lot of brains in his academic policy. While I was slogging it out with homework every waking hour and tying myself into mental knots to eek out a score a few percentage points higher - James pretty much relied on his native intelligence, chilled out and still got excellent results.

He could also spend 8 hours a day playing a computer game until he had mastered all the levels, found all the 'cheats' and short cuts and bonuses. Whereas I had trouble operating a joystick to make the little dog with the big nose walk forward. And I never actually understood what I was supposed to be doing. He has always had a rapport with computers - from those early Amstrad days. And that tennis game on the TV where you could alter the size of your bat and the speed of the ball. Ahhh them was technological miracles at the time.

Somehow my bro managed to do a History & Politics degree and yet get a fantastic first job as a computer programmer - an ability which he just managed to pick up by osmosis - a bit of charm - and again that native intelligence. Now he is a polyglot - speaking about 6 different computer languages. Each of which he seems to pick up in a matter of days. Oh and he built a computer from scratch. Dang, he's one clever bloke. And did I mention he can cook?

Yes this is the point where I have to remind you single ladies that he is in fact already married - to the delightful and charming Christa - a sign of his impeccable good taste.

He is also a totally inspired gift giver. Clearly the way to my heart - as the sweeties incidents showed early on. Some of my very favourite things have been given to me by my bro. Including a set of coffee mugs from Harvey Nichols which have travelled the world with me, still in their original box.

But I haven't mentioned to you yet that he is funny. Very, very funny. A very dry sense of humour - stolen from my Dad - and much enjoyed by me.

Kind. Generous. Laid-back. Easy-going. My bro also knows how to enjoy life - and whisks Christa away for a surprise visit to a tennis tournament or to Rome...on regular occassions.

Yep, so he may be tall, dark and handsome. Remarkably clever, witty and likeable - but he definitely isn't heavy.

And he is my brother.

I'm proud of you bro. Happy Birthday!

xxx

Friday, July 28, 2006

Did you miss me?

Gosh I can't believe how long it is since I last posted....and also how many things I have to blog about.

That's the thing about not blogging. You actually go out there and DO stuff. Hence giving you more to blog about...and yet less time.

OHHH the irony. It could turn into a good Alanis Morrisette lyric.

So what's been happening...umm well we had our first 2 antenatal classes. Oh the raucousness! Oh the hideous biology of it all! Oh the shocking things I was singled out to do IN FRONT of everyone else! (But refused...cos even I have my limits...and I do not wish to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jackson or Madonna with some scary grabbing.)

And that's all I'm going to say about that. Because it's all way too biological....and there's way too much mention of pulsating placentas. There I said it.

So yes there has been that.

And also many more incidences of Fairy Like behaviour or Pregnancy Brain. AKA Adele being so totally uncoordinated it is in question whether the spatial awareness part of her brain is actually...lost in space.

Which has a nice symmetry to it.

Unlike all my moves at Aqua Natal.

Yeah, I guess you had to be there...but in the last 2 classes of Aqua Natal (preggers women blobbing about in water)...I have been reduced to hysteria and tears of laughter at my own inability to do the simplest things.

Week 1. Got half way down the pool on a lap and realised that I'd forgotten to use my legs. They were just trailing in the water after me as I doggy paddled like mad. How can you forget to kick? I don't know but I managed it.

It's too hard to describe the other simple exercises that reduced me to hysterical jelly. But they involved coordination. And me discovering I couldn't make one arm go forwards while the other went backwards, for love nor money.

Week 2. I couldn't work out how to hold the hand paddles. Even though they are in the shape of a hand. I still couldn't get them the right way round for each hand. The teacher had to do it for me, while everyone else looked on amazed.

Hmmmm.

ANYWAY, aside from all that and the fact that James and Denise returned from their last 8 week tour this morning! WOOOHOO! I guess the main news is that Dave and I went away for a long weekend to Queenstown.

Queenstown in on the South Island and hence is colder than here. (Yes, go South to get colder weather, go North for warmer....freaky eh?). It nestles amongst The Remarkables. An aptly named range of mountains if ever there was one.

I wonder if they have followed it up elsewhere with The Astoundings...or The Breathtakings...or perhaps The Good Griefs.
Hmmm wish someone would give me the job of naming mountain ranges. I think I have quite a flair for it. Who should I enquire of for an application form? Slartibartfast got to make the fjords after all, so it's only fair that I should name a few things.

(that was a reference to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, for those who missed it)

Yes so Queenstown. It was snowing! There was snow in town which apparently only happens twice in a year. And we were there on one of those days. Just born lucky I guess. Also there was lots of snow on the mountains and hence everyone in town was there to ski. Apart from us. We were there to slob.

And hence everyone in town was under 30 years old and quite possibly of European extraction. It was quite thrilling. I'd forgotten what it was like to be surrounded by hordes of young people. Well, just people, in general. And so I was like one of those beaming old ladies who smiles beneficently on young people for no apparent reason. One of those old ladies in the supermarket who stop you and ask where the beans are - even though they know very well where the beans are because they've been shopping here for the past 37 years - just so they get an excuse to talk to someone. (Have you noticed old people do that? It makes me so sad, I nearly fall down and weep in the Legumes section.)

Anyway, that was me. A highlight in this vein was our trip to practically the trendiest place I've ever been. It could in fact BE the trendiest place I have ever been. Which doesn't say much for me. But does say a lot for FERGBURGER.

Yes, the baby wanted burger. (Funny how the baby's wants and desires coincide so much with mine, and yet seem more virtuous coming from a tiny human being tucked up inside me....than, say, greedy guts me wanting to submerge my face into the largest burger known to mankind).

Now we happened to turn up in Fergburger at the exact apres ski moment that about 30 youth in snowboarding gear also did. Which meant that the place was packed full of trendy yoof...and the wait was 30 minutes for a burger.

I have never waited so long so happily for food. I beamed at the yoof. I revelled in their ski-hattedness...in their rosy-cheekedness...in their can-only-afford-a-burger-for-dinner-edness. I stood there in my tatty woollen coat, bringing the average age up by a decade...and wished I could ask someone in which aisle the beans were.

Anyway, here is a photo of Dave blending in at Fergburger. (I was off chatting to some perfectly charming teen.)


Aside from beaming at young people. We went to Starbucks. (And, I confess, beamed some more at young people).

We changed hotel rooms 3 times until Dave managed to get us a free upgrade to a suite with a view of The Gobsmackings (aka The Remarkables, come on, keep up) with his usual mix of charm and sharky negotiating skills.

And we went on a long day trip to Doubtful Sound (they should definitely get me to re-name this one). This involved a 2 hour drive to a lake. A 1 hour lake crossing to one of the most remote roads in NZ. And that is saying something. A 1 hour trek across this dirt track to the Doubtful Sound and then a 3 hour cruise on the sound. During which we saw dolphins, a zillion rainbows and lots of blubbery seals.

Did you know that apart from 10 days a year, a female seal is permanently pregnant? But apparently this is a 'socially powerful' position.

Just thought I'd mention that.

Doubtful Sound is just soooo beautiful and of course there is NO ONE there (apart from us and 5 Japanese tourists eating a lot of noodles). My favourite part was when they turned the engines off and everyone had to be dead still. They called it 'The Sound of Silence'. And OH MY GIDDY AUNT. It was just so divine. The silence was tangible. It was thick. It was velvety. You could almost feel yourself inhaling it in great big clouds into your lungs. It was even better than Fergburger.

My favourite sound, at any rate...but in the middle of such spectacular remoteness.....well it was Remarkable, Astounding and Beautiful. Slartibartfast sure did a good job with those fjords.

Here are about a million photos. The first 3 are Queenstown with The Jaw Droppings in the background. You'll notice my arms flung wide as I proclaimed (a la Dalley) BEEEAAAUUUTTTYYYYY! Then there are some shots of Doubtful Sound. Please note Dave's magnificent hat hair in the last shot.

Yes, it is a beautiful place. (And they do remarkable burgers)







Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Star is Born....

The beloved addition to the Allan family has arrived - 2 weeks early! As they say, mother and baby are doing well.

She is very pretty (no surprise there) and has very long fingered, feminine hands. Ready for her first manicure so she can follow in her glamorous mummy's footsteps.

Not sure if her name has been officially released to the press yet but a close personal friend of the couple is reported as saying "It's a really lovely name".

After extensive negotiating I have procured a few photos of the wee babe. 'Hello Magazine' tried to outbid me by several million dollars, but after my excellent work with features on Baby Shiloh and Baby Suri, Stuart & Lynley decided to entrust my blog with the following.

(Actually I haven't asked them if I can post these...so, er,...guess that makes me more like the paparazzi that hang out in bushes around the hospital.)

My favourite pic: the one with Stuart's hand in.....she could almost fit in his palm! How cute!

So congratulations and WELL FLIPPING DONE to Lynley and Stuart....we are so proud of you and know you are going to be awesome parents! We love you little xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx Allan!


Monday, July 17, 2006

An Unfortunate Series of Events involving Harley and The World Famous Buzzy Bee

Dear friends, I feel so loved. Never has one woman received so much good advice concerning pillows, sleep and the curse of the Jimmy Leg.

The general concensus seems to be - ignore the advice to sleep only on your righthand side...and just sleep, dang it - anyway you can. My mother even suggested hanging upside down from the ceiling if it helped. (I think she was joking).

So I am now swaddled in pillows and sleeping much better than before. The pillow under the legs trick seems to work for me. Despite our already King-size bed, Dave is now relegated to the margins and has to cling on to the edge of the mattress like a limpet. He is taking this on the chin. (Sometimes literally if I roll and thrash too enthusiastically.)

So thank you and mwah and thank you again for all your input.

The more alert of you may have noticed my absence in the last few days from the Blogosphere and the Email Kingdom....I even missed a delightful phone call from a raucous bunch of party-goers - aka Lynley, Stu, Sarah, the Dalleys & the Joneses. Dang it. Still I had a good reason.

My friend Karen with whom I used to work at a PR firm once upon a lifetime ago (where we mostly served Pimms to Journalists on Yachts to cajole them into writing about our client's new widget)....and to whose daughter I am a lacksadaisical godmother....and who now lives in Auckland....(breathe) came to visit for the weekend. With husband Steff and aforementioned god-daughter Rhionna.




So I have been trying to do a good impression of someone who can cook.....and show them the highlights of Taupo. Fortunately it was sunny all weekend - the lake and the mountains looking their shiny 'superimposed on a postcard' selves...and they were quite taken with the place.

I even dazzled them with my latest food fetish - roast parsnips. Mmmmmm...parsnips.

Anyway Karen was determined to bring me a gift for the baby. The same gift that was famously presented to Princess Diana and Baby William on a trip to NZ. (Well not literally THE SAME ONE. Although that would have been very cool. And I could have flogged it on TradeMe.co.nz....alongside my 'Face of the Madonna on a piece of Cheesy Toast'.)

(And if you never read the news story about the mysterious appearance of the likeness of Mary appearing on a piece of toast that was then auctioned on EBay for thousands of dollars (breathe) that last comment will make no sense.)

(I think you're used to that by now).

Oh so the gift was a Buzzy Bee. Which is a wooden toy that you pull by a string and it makes a clacking type sound which to the fertile imagination sounds vaguely like a bee. Apparently (Stu & Lynley - please confirm) this Buzzy Bee is a NZ icon. Sooo Karen proudly presented me with the buzzy bee which she had scoured the town to find. BUT we discovered on closer inspection that this was a DUD Buzzy Bee whose wheels did not turn. Hence no clacking. Hence no bee-ing.

SO as part of one of our outings we had to go back to the Buzzy Bee shop and test them all to find the ONLY ONE in the shop with the proper amount of clacking. Part 1 of the Unfortunate Series of Events.

Meanwhile...a fun time was had by all...lots of tromping around the lake ensued...Rhionna and Steff even went paddling in the boiling (literally) hot thermal waters at the edge of the lake. There were a gaggle of ducks (hang on....what do ducks go out in again? Brotherhoods, triads, sororities, militias?) floating perilously close to the hot waters, I thought. Although - mmm lightly steamed duck might go very well with parsnips...

Back home and I decided as a prank to LOOSELY wrap the end of the Buzzy Bee (with clacking) to Harley's collar so that when Harley moved he dragged the bee with him. Hmmm....little did I know that Rhionna was paying close attention to my antics.
Part 2 of the series of unfortunate events.

Monday morning. The culmination of the series of unfortunate events.....dah dah daaaaaah

I was lying (smothered in pillows) in a bleary eyes state of hibernation (hanging upside down from the ceiling - thanks mum)....when I heard Rhionna's sweet little chatty voice from the kitchen. Parents were clearly downstairs. Shortly afterwards the most almighty crash broke out, followed by a series of bangs, smacks, wallops and smashes.

Strangely I knew exactly what had happened.

Rhionna, emulating her misled godmother, had tied the solid-as-a-rock Buzzy Bee to Harley's collar. Unfortunately whereas I simply threaded the string around Harley's collar a few times so he could easily get away....Rhionna had tied it with some fiendish yachting knot. (Her parents confirmed that she knows a lot of proper knots)

Harley had got spooked. Leapt up and run all the way across the tile floor in the kitchen...and down the tile stairs and out of the cat door - all the while dragging the heavy wooden Buzzy Bee behind him.

It sounded a little like Armageddon.

So now Harley was AT LARGE with a heavv wooden NZ icon attached to his neck.

The pessimistic amongst us immediately had visions of him found hanging from a tree, strangled by the Buzzy Bee cord. Karen started to anticipate me going into early labour from the shock. I pretended to be calm. As we set out on a search party.

Steff & Rhionna set off in one direction and had a very interesting conversation with some workmen as they tried to explain they were looking for a ginger cat with a Buzzy Bee tied round his neck.

Karen and I set off in the other direction and PRAISE BE within a few moments Harley responded to my call....with a plaintive miaow. He then appeared at the top of a garden wall - sans collar and sans Buzzy Bee. But with his precious furry neck in one piece.

Considering the iconic nature of the Buzzy Bee (note - the only properly clacking one in the whole of Taupo)...I then nosed over the neighbour's wall to see if I could see the BB anywhere. The neighbour was in the garden and so ensued the following conversation:

Me: Excuse me, sorry to bother you...but we've had a bit of an incident this morning with our cat and a buzzy bee.
Neighbour: Sorry?
Me: Er, yes. Our cat had a buzzy bee tied to his neck...and I think he may be in your garden.
Neighbour: Sorry?
Me: Um. Can I look for my buzzy bee in your garden. (Really hoping she knows what a Buzzy Bee is)
Neighbour: Oh. Are you our new neighbours?
Me: (sheepishly) Yes.

Now THAT's the way to introduce yourself to the neighbourhood at 8.45am on a Monday.

Anyway Harley saved the day as he then appeared in the garden and led us directly to the buzzy bee...still attached to his collar...hidden in a bush.

The neighbour was incredibly impressed with Harley's intelligence - that he led us straight to the BB. Although he then did get spooked again. Leap in the air with a bushy tail, run round teh garden three times like he was being pursued by the hounds of hell and run up a tree. All the while she watched in amazement.

Yes, I think we have made quite an impression there.

So all's well that end's well. Harley is not strangled. I am not in labour. The Buzzy Bee still clacks.

Although he does look rather chipped after being dragged down 2 flights of stone steps, out a catflap, through a courtyard and into the bushes.

Now if only I had that on video.....

Here is Harley, reconciled with the Buzzy Bee.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Jimmy Leg

As Hamlet put it; "To sleep, perchance to dream."

The chance would be a fine thing. Yes it's that archetypal pregnant woman lament "I can't sleep! I can't get comfortable!"

And I'm not even trying to sleep on my stomach with my arms and legs all in the air kicking around - like the reverse of an upside down beetle. Although I definitely think that is a fun image. Almost worth trying in fact. You've seen those photos of Alyn on the exercise ball, right?

Anyway, my insomniac adventures all started with the Jimmy Leg.

You know the Jimmy Leg right?

Just before you go to sleep, just as you drop off into the land of Lethe, as you climb into the boat of Nod and drift away on the currents of the subconscious. You get the Jimmy Leg. The involuntary but violent jerk of the leg. Aah come on admit it, we all know it well.

Dave is the King of the Jimmy Leg. One thrash of the lower limb and he is as asleep as anyone was ever asleep in their whole sleepy lives.

Well now I have Pregnancy Jimmy Leg...which is kind of an on-going traditional Jimmy Leg situation.

There is just something plain wrong with my legs. They just won't settle down. It's like they've got a life of their own. They are like 2 kids squirming on the pew at a church service. I've tried bribing them with fruit pastilles, but it just doesn't work.

They twitch. They thrash. They're too hot. They're too cold. They're too straight. They're too bendy. They lie this way. They lie that way. But will they go to sleep? Only if you mean literally. The right leg likes to cramp up at about 7 in the morning. Bless its cotton & polyester bedsocks.

But the legs are the least of the problem.

You see when you are pregnant they make up all these strange rules and then to enforce them - they tell you that you will be harming the baby if you don't. Cuh, they are cunning these Baby Nazis I tell you.

So you're not supposed to lie on your back cos it cuts off circulation and will impede your child from being good at algebra in the future. Also they will never be able to hold their knives properly when they eat.

Clearly you can't lie on your front.

And really you shouldn't lie on your right side.

So in fact all you can do is lie on your left side. This enables baby to get maximum nutrition and encourages baby to snuggle in the correct birthing position so it doesn't have to spin like a top in order to get out.

Ok, but what about shoulders?

Where do shoulders fit into this plan?

I have shoulders people. Big, broad, man-like shoulders (without the hair).

And I've never practised sleeping on my side. I'm a belly/back girl. But I don't want to harm my child so that its eyelashes never curl and other devastating effects of sleeping on your back.

But where does my left shoulder go? I mean OUCH. It is all scrunched up so my back is all scrunched up so my legs are all scrunched up. Yikes. It hurts.

And then I just have to SIGH. Thrash the Jimmy Legs. Kick the duvet. Fuss with my pillows. Roll onto my back.

But then I am in a VERBOTEN position. So I start to fear for my child's safety and ability to remember the difference between desert and dessert....

So I roll onto my right. So my right shoulder is all scrunched up and my back is all scrunched up and my legs are all scrunched up. And anyway I am in a semi-VERBOTEN position...depriving my child of maximum nutritional input and birthing positionality.

So I have to SIGH LOUDER, THRASH the Jimmy legs HARDER, kick the duvet more violently. Fuss with my pillows more dramatically....and roll back onto my left side.

But oh my shoulders! My back! My legs!

Just about the only thing that doesn't hurt is my big belly.

Needless to say, even Dave - master of the Jimmy Leg - cannot sleep through all of this thrashing about.

So we are both tired.

Please - you side-sleeping experts - tell me what I am doing wrong. Or is it some immutable law of the universe that only nimble, small-shouldered individuals are designed to sleep comfortably on their sides???

Because the books say I should be trying to get lots of sleep now in preparation for the baby coming.

Ha!

Clearly they don't know about the curse of the Jimmy Leg...

And the Jimmy Shoulders.

(which coincidentally is the name of the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean Film).

Friday, July 07, 2006

Acts of Piracy are forbidden

FORBIDDEN. Or as I hear in my head in a loud German voice: VERBOTEN.

Somehow VERBOTEN seems like it should be the universal word for forbidden - it just has that sinister ring about it.

Try it, you'll like it.

Is this where I discover VERBOTEN actual means something completely different. Like 'cherry cheescake'....or 'frilly girl's underwear'?

Of course that would work too.

Acts of Piracy are CHERRY CHEESECAKE.

Hmmm.

On a sidenote...

(ha! as if this whole thing has not been a sidetrack so far, which it has, in case you lost the plot. Because there is none.)

I've just made the world's worst cup of coffee. No. They are actually flying me an award over right now "The World's Worst Cup of Coffee". I am rehearsing my thank you speech. "I'd like to thank Britain for teaching me that it is ok to use instant instead of proper coffee. And also that milk is an acceptable substitute for cream...."

Er anyway back to the coffee. Actually drinking coffee makes me feel sick afterwards (I think the baby has inherited the British attitude to coffee. Which is, "Why? When you can have tea?") but for some reason I just fancied a coffee this morning. So to trick the baby and my stomach into accepting it I put very little decaf coffee in, with lots of milk and water.

(I would even have used proper ground up beans coffee...but Dave has taken the lid of the coffee bean grinder to work with him. The Lid. Just the lid. He's a man of mystery, I'm telling you).

So my first sip of the aforementioned coffee-esque nectar? Ewwwww. You know when you've eaten an entire packet of Liquorice Allsorts and are therefore very 'over' the liquorice appeal, but that last bit of over chewed liquorice has got stuck behind one of your teeth. When you manage to prise it off your molar in all its juicy, over-chewed liquoricey-ness. That's what this coffee tastes like.

I'm not having a second mouthful.

Because in the heady social whirl that my life has become (in the comparative context of the social vacuum in which I had been living)...I have more to report!

Not content with Danish taxidermists and the mini-golfing Dutch - Dave and I arranged an outing to see "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" last night.

We went with Yfke & Rod....and Maya and Jeremy (a couple we know from church...she is up the duff too and about to pop 4 weeks before me). The two couples didn't know each other previously - hark at us being the social hosts. But it being Taupo, they did of course have people in common. Yfke's boss at Replete (the cafe) is in the same antenatal class as Maya & Jeremy. Small world.

ANYWAY. Enough of explaining the social dynamics of people you don't know.

PIRATES.

(Which reminds me of a great joke my brother told me at Christmas....but which is all about the sound effects...so I can't tell you here. Ring me and I'll tell you. It'll be well worth it. Just ask dave.)

Pirates of the Caribbean - one of the few films that Dave & I can watch together without Dave tugging my sleeve in misery throughout saying "Why? Why are you making me watch this European Art Film with subtitles and incongruous songs and dances in a science fiction context? Why?"

(Except Dave wouldn't use the word 'context'. Dunno why. It's just not a very Dave word, is it?)

Yes, so back to the cinema. Which was HEAVING, it being school holidays in NZ - which means everyone - EVERY ONE - leaves Auckland and arrives in Taupo.

And by heaving I mean about 40 people in the cinema. Ahuh. Our previous top attendance was about 12.

I spotted at least 2 signs on the way in to watch "Pirates" which said that "Acts of Piracy are forbidden" VERBOTEN. The irony of which amused me very much. Less so everyone else.

Anyhoo and to the film. Now bear in mind the film started at 8.45pm which is the hour I normally crawl into bed and try to read a few pages of a book before I realise I have been reading the same page for 20 minutes. With my eyes closed.

So I was struggling to stay awake. This was helped by the fact that Baby R went completely ballistic and was doing the tango throughout the entire film. It's a little bit distracting when your insides are doing a mexican wave. I think it was the sound - she can now hear loud noises. So in her life thus far she has heard this film...and the Bruce Springsteen album I keep playing at full volume. Hmmmm....insights please.

Ok, so I was tired and distracted. BUT. Nothing can distract from how totally fabulous Johnny Depp is as Captain Jack Sparrow - cue his mincing walk, rolling eyes and fake tribal language. Very, very funny. In fact the film is packed full of humour....and is a rollercoaster of a film with sizzling pirates....crazy tribespeople that escaped from King Kong....and some very slimy looking Davy Jones sea creature people. Yeuch. There are some really fun fight & escape sequences (watch out for the 'kebab')...and the action is non stop. I even didn't mind Orlando Bloom despite the fact he is a bit girly for me. In fact Keira Knightley is less girly than him now I come to think of it.

But it is long. I mean loooooong. It just goes on and on....and it's all fantastic and spectacular and creative and inventive and funny. But long.

Although that could be cos we started at 8.45pm and didn't finish till 11.30pm. Uh, yeah so that is my review of Pirates 2.

(By the way, is it just me? Everytime I sit down in a cinema seat, I reach for my seatbelt. I just have this instinctive urge to buckle up.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

You're stuffed with the Danes

After my last representation of the Norwegians as delighting in sticky games, I thought I'd move on to the Danish.

Strangely enough this is inspired by my first trip to Aqua Natal classes.

Yes I girded my loins (do women have loins? don't answer that)

and squeezed myself into my swimming costume (or swimsuit, for the Nth Americans amongst us who imagine a swimming costume to be a cross between a bikini and a pantomime horse)

and turned up somewhat late (surprise) for the 9.30am Aqua Natal Class. AKA bobbing about in water for big pregnant blobbers.

I was late after failing to understand the electronic locker system which I accidentally locked for an hour before I managed to get my trousers in there. So there I was standing by the edge of the pool in my swimming cossie with a pair of trousers in my hand. It was an awkward moment I can tell you.

Anyway turns out the class wasn't on - because it is the school holidays. But I espied a row of pregnant tums and approached them boldly (I'd managed to get my trousers back in the locker by this stage - although I could have wound them round my head as an inventive turban as another solution).

Turns out they were planning on doing the class anyway without the instructor. Who only has one leg. I mention this for no particular reason other than I want to sound interesting. But it is true. The Aqua Natal teacher really does only have one leg. And why not.

So we plunge into the pool and start cavorting about with floats and flippers and big bendy tube things and it is all a lot of fun although rather too much like exercise. Afterwards the girls (they all know each other cos they are in the same Ante Natal class...and they are all about 38weeks and about to pop. And they kept giving my stomach disparaging looks - it not being the full bloom size they have achieved. Hrumph - I am very proud of my bump)

er...where was I? Oh yes we went for coffee in the very echoey and loud cafe at the pool where they shared some quite biological information with each other. Fortunately I didn't always know exactly what they were referring to...so I just crossed my legs and drank my hot chocolate.

Anyway, there was a 'foreigner' amongst them...and after thinking for a few moments I managed to place her accent as Danish. They were all jolly impressed that I guessed her accent correctly (thanks to Brigitte and Maria and other Danish pals it was quite easy of course)....and anyway I got chatting with her. She said that she worked at home.

So quite naturally I asked her what she did for a living.

Her reply: "I'm a taxidermist"

And she wasn't even joking.

Although I have to admit I laughed.

Yes turns out her and her NZ partner are both taxidermists. She mostly does Stag heads and deer. She moved here from Denmark because taxidermy is a 'closed shop' there and very hard to get into.

Er, so there you go. I knew I liked her the moment I saw her.

My swimming pal - the Danish Taxidermist.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mini Golf Mayhem

Well chaps, thought I'd give you a quick update on our super-exciting weekend activities.

Ok that is a bit of an exaggeration, but seeing as I left the house 3 times, yes THREE times over the weekend ( that's 2 days, just TWO days) I thought you'd like to know all about it. Or as much as I can be bothered to tell.

Uh, let's see. Ok, so you remember it's winter here...well the weather over the weekend was that perfect kind of wintry weather. Sunny, warm, with snow on the mountains and sunbeams skipping the light fantastic over the waters of the lake. It was the kind of weather that calls to you as soon as you draw back the curtains, and says "Come out and play...".

Of course I responded to the scintillating brilliance of the morn with the immortal word: "Ug". Cos I've just woken up and I cannot therefore speak. Or move (except for a foot-dragging shuffle). And I must eat before I actually turn into a sentient being.

Anyway, having watched about 83 football matches courtesy of El Coupo de Mondo...(World Cup) and even some Wimbledon (have you noticed the appalling outfits the players are wearing this year? Short shorts with tree trunk thighs a-thrusting out of them? And yes that was a woman player.) I finally managed to drag Dave outside into that old fashioned stuff - fresh air.

Thus ensued a short jaunt down to the lake. Down the very steep hill outside our house. (People with forethought - it may now occur to you that I will at some point have to ascend back up the very steep hill. This did occur to me too....but not in all its foot-dragging horror.)

So we wandered around the lake - and very purty it was too. Now bearing in mind I've done almost no exercise over the last 6 months and have the energy levels of a hibernating walrus...the 2 hour walk turned out to be a bit of a mammoth undertaking. And the final hill did nearly leave me weeping in a bush....but I made it. Couldn't speak or move for a few hours afterwards....but I did feel quite proud of myself. Cos of course when you live next to a stonking beautiful lake on a stonking beautiful day there is some kind of moral obligation to go and walk around a part of it.

Sunday morn Dave rose at the ungodly hour of 3am to watch England get knocked out of the World Cup....( ) that was the pause for you to mourn and weep and wail.

Then we went to church for one of the most bizarre services I've ever been to. Halfway through the pastor announced we were going to cut the sermon short (usually the cue for me to start a mexican wave...) in order for us to have a celebration party.

I of course think he means either - an extended worship celebration....or else lots of tea and cake. Either of which is just great with me.

But what he means is that we move all the seats back in order to play Norwegian party games.

Having played the Norwegian Party Games, I can only conclude that Norwegians are very interesting people indeed.

Picture the scene. Teams of 5. A bucket of ice water, ice and grapes.

Hopping across the church with one bare foot. Placing bare foot into bucket to extract a grape between your toes. (Cue lots of screaming from me). Hopping back again.

I played that one - although my hopping was decidedly lacking in hop...

Next game. (Bearing in mind we have the pastor on our team). A spoon. A long piece of string. A pot of golden honey.

Hmmm.

Tie string to spoon. Stick spoon in honey. First person licks honey off spoon. Then passes spoon through garments and onto the next person who has to pass the spoon through their own clothes...until the sticky spoon has passed through all outfits on the team and everyone is connected by the string. THROUGH THEIR CLOTHES. I'm talking up and down trouser legs here.

There are grannies playing. There are children playing. There are teens playing.

I am not playing.

Sorry I drew the line at that one.

Next game. (I am seriously wondering about the Norwegians by this stage)

Cotton wool puff. Nose. Pot of jam.

Stick jam on nose. Attach cotton puff. Run across church. Get to line. Blow cotton puff off your own nose and over the line.

Ok, I played that one.

Anyhoo that was church this week.

Sunday afternoon, I'd arranged meet up with Yfke and Rod for mini golf by the lake. Yfke is a Dutch (note, not Norwegian) girl who works at the coffee place in town that we go to most often...and Rod is her Kiwi Boyfriend. Yfke loves mini-golf and Rod used to play off a 5 (VERY GOOD at golf).

It was a gorgeous afternoon and fortunately for me we agreed that an 8 was the maximum score for holes. This saved me an embarrassing 32 score on several holes I'm sure. Still, I thought that the others showed a lack of creative flair on their approaches to some of the holes. They decided to follow the path of the green towards the hole. Whereas i was all about the chip shot. Not of course very easy to chip with a putter, off material.

Fortunately one time I hit the ball so hard it rebounded off the wall and into the rough (mulch). So I could get the putter nicely underneath the ball to 'chip' it back onto the green. Yeah. That and half a bucket of mulch. Oops.

The others suggested i might like to bring a Duster Buster with me the next time I played so I could clean up the greens afterwards. Heh heh.

It was a lot of fun and we went out to a pub afterwards to sit by a roaring fire and drink beer (them) and hot chocolate (me) with a side of Bombay Mix (all of us). (Bombay mix and Hot choc.....groooooo).

So that was pretty much the weekend...of course we had to round it off by watching Top Gear (UK TV programme about cars) which I am strangely addicted to at the moment.

Football? Tennis? Golf? Cars?

Clearly I am turning into Dave.