Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I caved in ...

I know it's only 3 weeks since I wrote that I don't do Facebook. I caved in today. The persuading factor was to view photos of my niece Helen shopping in snowy London in a bikini. It's true and she has photos to prove it.

I've also made contact with an old school friend who was responsible for me wearing a sari to a school dance in 1978 (ish) and who now lives in Malaysia.

I can see how it is a sticky site. I will try not to neglect this blog.

I've had two very conciliatory phone calls from the insurance co. I think they may be going to cave in too - and pay me the $2000 extra for my car that I threatened to take them to the Ombudsman over. They say there will be a decision by the end of the week. Watch this space.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A bib can halt the carnage

Last night Micky caught a bird and was very pleased with himself. We found it upsetting. He rewarded himself by sleeping all day on the bed once more. The boys are not quite 6 months, yet with Noodle the killing went on until about 2 yrs. Any suggestions how we can curtail the carnage?

I found this Cat Bib that is supposed to stop cats killing wildlife. But is it cruel to make them wear such a thing?

Went to the gym this morning and stopped on the way back for an impromptu (but overdue) haircut. The head massage was sublime and went on for 10 minutes. I was almost asleep in the recliner. The afternoon was spent doing film scanning. There has been a flurry of orders in the last week - this time a wedding by the sea.

I got Tamsin to divulge her "from scratch" pizza recipe and will give it a bash (literally) tonight

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cats stole our sleep!

This weekend we decided was time we set them completely free. Nearly 6 months old. Kittens no more.

No more locking up at night. No more litter tray in the spare room or being fed separately from Noodle.

A spring clean ensued. Cat litter gives off a fine dust, which when combined with a fan in hot weather, disperses around a room hugging every possible surface. The spare room (my study) was spring cleaned on Saturday and declared "no longer your room" to Basil & Micky.

Last night the two boys seemed to spend the whole night racing up and down the hallway, interspersed with chasing rattling cicadas into our bedroom. Several times I shooed them out of the bedroom only to witness them go through the house, out the catflap and back in the bedroom via the upper deck. It is still quite hot and we cannot sleep with bedroom doors & windows shut. Needlesss to say, we didn't get a lot of sleep.

And to rub salt in, when I got home from work today I heard that both the cats had been fast asleep until after 4pm - on our bed!

Other highlights of the weekend just gone:
  • Playing canasta with the neighbours, and having a melon dacquiri there (as a foretaste of our upcoming street cocktail party)
  • Taking my new car for a drive up to Matakana, walking around the riverside and having lunch at the Leigh Sawmill Cafe. Having delicious grilled bluenose (the fish not me). We bought tickets to see Hollie Smith there next Saturday
  • Learning that Jaz & Mark are putting an offer to buy a house. Good luck guys.
  • Reading a review of this album and finding it available on

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bobbing on a Friday

I didn't realise it was morning when I woke, it was so dark and rainy.

No work today but a bit of film scanning to do. Curry nite at a friend's house later on.

This video was put together by a Youtuber and is excellent for a bit of Friday bobbing.

Someday Baby

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Bob and Weird Bob

Fantastic news!

A new Dylan album to be released in April. It is being strongly rumoured in the music press as well as Dylan newsgroups. He's been a busy boy between touring.

And the weird bit: a song by Weird Al Yankovich in the style of Bob and done completely in palindromes ...

My favourite lines are "A Toyota's A Toyota", "Do Geese See God" and "Naomi I Moan"

And another from Weird Al - a song about Ebay

Also 'White and nerdy' is quite funny too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

David Byrne rocks!

On Valentines Day we went to David Byrne in concert. The show was officially titled 'David Byrne performs Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno' which is a bit of a mouthful.

What a great show it was. JK declared it one of the best concerts he's been to in New Zealand. Not only was David in great voice, but the show was very lively, with crazy dancers whirling and wheeling around the stage.

Half way through Neil Finn came on for a duet on 'Heaven'. DB introduced him so "In Japan they have a thing called a Living National Treasure, here in NZ they have the 'bloke down the road', and here he is...".
Each song had a new aspect. One was performed with David and all the dancers sitting on office chairs wheeling themselves around the stage, another was sung with him and all the band running on the spot, a bit like one of the old Talking Heads videos.

For Burning Down The House (one of the several encores) everyone came back on wearing white tutus. This clip conveys the huge amount of energy and fun that was had by all the performers.

And the view from my pozzie..

Auctions and other fun and games

The insurance company paid up so Friday was spent looking at cars. I took a Nissan Primera for a test run. It was very good to drive but it was being sold on TradeMe and not closing for a few more days. Having looked at a few others I decided to narrow down the search to this model in an estate/wagon, in silver or gold. We found one at Auction and due to go under the hammer Saturday morning. So, after due diligence - ruling out a gold one due to yucky looking and smoky smelling interior - we bid up to our ceiling price where the opposing bidder also stalled and we got the car for just $100 more. Only have to wait to Tuesday to colect it, so they can have it registered and put the plates on (it's a used one fresh off the boat from Japan).

In the afternoon we played some board games and Tamsin made fresh bread for us which guaranteed her a place to stay for the next few days.

Sunday, after the excitement of car auctions and David Byrne we had a lazy day. Took Tamsin to Takapuna market for a wander around the stalls. She nearly bought a pan for gold panning but turned out it was a large flattish wok. We bought some yummy pastries and coffee for breakfast, which we ate in the adjoining park, feeding scraps to a loud gang of pigeons, seagulls and sparrows. Also bought a pile of cheap veggies. Then to JB HiFi to look for an FM iPod transmitter for my car. They had the whole back catalog of Neil Young CDs for $9 each so I got a few I was missing.

Back home Tam & I played board games. JK was exempted from game duty - I am keeping my birthday "play a game with me" voucher for an emergency. We had several rounds of Settlers of Catan, SET, and Moose in The House (a very silly card game) which kept us amused until past midnight when we suddenly remembered it was Monday and scurried to bed.

Monday was a working day and quite a busy stressful one. I hitched a ride in with T in the rattling truck and in the evening she treated us to a Thai meal before departing for her abode in Papatoetoe that her tenant had vacated.


I am going to collect my new car this morning. Later I will update on the last few days including an excellent concert by David Byrne where I managed to take some video clips on my camera. Will try posting a couple here, or on you tube and linking them in.

"Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king".
"Whats a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this"
from 1983 Infidels album.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cooler and a bit choppy

The humidity abated by this morning. We can breathe again.

I had to take the hire car back and hand over my car keys to the insurance company so they can pay my car settlement. I am now in the market to buy a car and there's too much choice. I'm narrowing the possibilities to a Japanese station wagon/Estate ideally with a sunroof. JK went to Turners auction yesterday and watched some go through at reasonable prices (about $2000 below estimated value). There is another auction tomorrow.

After dropping the hire car I came home on the ferry from downtown to Birkenhead. The short walk along from the rental place to downtown took only 15 minutes but I was stopped three times by people asking for directions I thought this was strange, then one couple said they were "just off the boat" which explained things. The cruise liner Oriana was in port and I took some pictures of it towering above the ferry boats. I sat outside on the ferry. The ride was a little choppy but the cool breeze was welcome after the hot sticky calm of the last few days.

Micky enjoying an ayurevedic massage from Tamsin.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rooftop rescue and thirsty koalas

The humidity got to 100% last night. Apparently 23C at 100% humidity feels like 35C. It sure felt sticky.

Still no news of my car.

Both kittens managed to get onto the roof of the office yesterday. They were probably trying to find a breeze. We watched for a while as they picked their way around, losing their footing due to the steep pitch of the slope. Eventually JK had to get the long ladder out to haul them out of the gutter.
A friend in Australia sent these pictures of 2 separate incidents where koala bears approached humans for water to help them cool down. Poor little bears.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

91% humidity

The temperature is only in the mid 20's but the humidity is 91% so it feels like a sauna.
All windows are wide open to try to catch a breeze.

Cicadas are screaming their heads off.

Cats are strewn lifeless on the floor. All is well.

Talking of windows, 'Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window' has always been one of my favourite Dylan songs.

He sits in your room, his tomb, with a fist full of tacks
Preoccupied with his vengeance
Cursing the dead that can't answer him back
I'm sure that he has no intentions
Of looking your way, unless it's to say
That he needs you to test his inventions.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Carless like a slumdog

Actually I was only carless for a day and a bit. The insurance co organised me a hire car. Went to collect it and there was a queue of tourists 10 deep so it took quite a while. Its a slightly odd sensation being a car hirer in your home town where all the trips are normal work-shop-home type journeys. Seeing all the cars being loaded up with suitcases and rucksacks made me want to take off somewhere on holiday.

Friday was a public holiday here: Waitangi Day. The PM got jostled and nearly had his jacket torn off by a protestor. Again the hot weather stifled any frantic activity, so a lazy day was had. Some friends came over for a BBQ in the evening and quite a lot of food and wine was put away.

Saturday the heat drove us to the local beach where the water felt like a warm bath. It must have been the combination of late in the afternoon of a hot day and an incoming tide. It felt beautiful to wallow in the water (and swim a bit too) yet not feel the slightest bit cold. A wedding was happening on the foreshore and the photos taken pointed in our direction. So if anyone has their wedding photos back and sees two strange ladies waving in the sea - it was Tamsin & me! We also saw some fish jumping quite close while we were swimming. Activity perked up in the cool of the evening. We walked around the coast to the local cinema to see Slumdog Millionaire. We all enjoyed the film, and the music.

Sunday morning we decided to go for a look at the Car Fair where I bought my last 3 cars. Not much worth investigating though. Porbably all teh good cars were snapped up before we got there at 11am. We bumped into an ex-work colleague Alex. who was selling a van. Not giving up on a chance to look at more vehicles than humanly necessary, John then took me on a sightseeing tour of the Great South Rd car yards. Again nothing inspired me. I want my car back! I did go for a test drive in a Prius, and I was impressed how quiet and smooth the engine switches from motor to battery power.

In the evening Tamsin made pizza from scratch which was yummy. Then we played some board games while John googled information about car thefts in Auckland. Apparently over 70% are found and returned.

The 'Weeds' Prius ad...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My car has been stolen

I can hardly believe it!

My car went missing this afternoon from the work car park. The latter part of my birthday was spent filling in police forms and hanging on the phone to make an insurance claim. The insurance co. are letting me have a hire car for a week.

The day redeemed itself a little with a raclette supper.

48 things you may not know about me...

1. Today is my (48th) birthday

2. People tell me I don’t look more than 35 - (ish) (on a good day)

3. Blueberries are my favourite fruit. I hate celery

4. I can wiggle my nostrils like a rabbit (thanks to early training and encouragement from my sister)

5. My surname is/was Oatley

6. I quite like Bob Dylan (you may have guessed this one already)

7. Keith Moon of The Who came to our house for tea as a boy. He was in the scouts with my brother. (This is a cheat as I wasn’t born at the time but my Mum told me he was very nice and polite).

8. I can’t dance

9. I lived in London 18 yrs, Wales 5 years, London again for 8 years and in Auckland for the last 16 years

10. Middle name is Evelyn

11. I was a transport planner for London Underground before I moved to New Zealand

12. I was married to a Kiwi chef and as a result I know how to make a roux

13. I’ve been up the outside of the Canary Wharf Tower in a builders lift

14. My eldest brother died under a tube train when I was sixteen

15. Favourite films: American Beauty, Annie Hall, No Direction Home

16. I love chocolate but cannot bear to eat it before lunchtime. I often have an early lunch

17. I once tried smoking crumbled up prawn cocktail crisps. Don’t ask.

18. I played Deng Xiaoping in a ‘International politics’ role playing weekend retreat in 1980

19. I can’t stand hypocrites

20. I don’t do Facebook but am on Skype

21. My alter ego is a Meerkat

22. I would like to write a book and make a film

23. My eyesight is quite bad but I chickened out of Lasik the day before the scheduled operation

24. I hum whilst shopping, but I’m not aware of it until people tell me I am humming

25. My Mum was in the WAF and my dad was an Air Raid Warden in WWII

26. I stopped smoking (tobacco) nearly 20 years ago

27. I love to cook as long as I don’t have to cook something in particular

28. As Chair of Mensa I represented NZ at International meetings in Hawaii, Hamburg and Rio De Janeiro

29. The only time I’ve sung karaoke was in Rio De Janeiro while drunk. It was a duet with a Norwegian of the Doors ‘Light My Fire’. Very embarrassing.

30. I had a cat called Brrrrr. (ie the sound of a raspberry blown with a Welsh twang in a raising tone)

31. I like to play board games like Articulate, Balderdash

32. My Chinese sign is a Rat

33. Did I say I really like Bob Dylan, and Jakob.

34. I want to visit Cuba

35. I will be going to Melbourne in April to catch up with my brother

36. My degree was a BSC(Econ) in Geography & Politics (Swansea University)

37. My ex husbands mother still emails me with news of the family

38. Worrying is a waste of time I’ve learnt

39. Also that life is too short to listen to average music so I rate tracks then delete the low rated ones from my iPod

40. I still have 17,000 tracks on my iPod

41. I’ve always been a bookworm

42. I am a landlord

43. My Dad loved to joke and fool people. He never seemed to lose his humour. He died in 1987.

44. I go to the gym but it’s a struggle. I’d really rather be reading a book or listening to music.

45. My work title is ‘Data Services Manager’

46. A year ago I didn’t know what a blog was

47. Getting old doesn’t bother me

48. I love my friends and family and wish so many weren’t scattered far around the world

OK. Whose birthday is next. Your turn

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A fond farewell

Waved goodbye to my cousin today. They are spending the next three weeks touring through NZ. It was a nice few days getting to know them a little after years (well, decades) of not really having any contact. We will definitely visit them in France when we get the chance.

The heat lingers on here in contrast to the pictures of freezing London on the news.

My sister's dogs enjoying their snowy garden in Dorking.

One of the race boats being put to bed for the night at Auckland Viaduct Harbour.

Forever Young (The Dylan/ pepsi commercial)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tourism at home and an early birthday

Back to the 21st century. I am still reading Pepys diary but alternating with the Tibetan book of Living and Dying, which is an interesting mixture.

My cousin Richard and his wife Rita are spending a few days with us before heading off on their Kiwi adventure. We've been acting as tour guides which is great fun. I always like having guests to go places with and see Auckland through fresh eyes again.

The first day we just pootled around the North Shore, for some walks and orientation. Cooked some NZ lamb for dinner and drank quite a lot of wine while catching up with my cousin who has been living in southern France for the last couple of years, near Foix where I had an unpleasant experience while hitch hiking back in 1983.

On Friday we kayaked down the Puhoi River to Wenderholm, walked on the beach, and ate lunch at the Art of Cheese cafe. My gym going must be paying off because I didn't have any aches and pains after the kayaking like I normally do. On the way home we stopped to buy fresh snapper and prawns for dinner.

Saturday we had brunch at the Takapuna Beach Cafe then sorted the visitors out with mobile phone and car hire info. In the afternoon we went to the zoo. Not up for cooking we ordered pizzas from Blitza for supper.

Today Jaz had organised an early birthday celebration for me. It was all kept secret so I didn't know what was going to happen. We met them at North Head which was quite a mission as there was a traffic jam and the parking area was closed off due it being a designated viewing area for the Luis Vuitton Pacific Series yacht racing that's ongoing. When we got to Cheltenham beach we walked up North Head and around to a small beach facing the ocean where we could see the big yachts sailing There Jaz & Mark had set up a table and chairs on the grassy reserve, and as we arrived familiar heads popped out of one of the concrete bunkers: Paul, Kylie, Judy, Mo & Rina were all there for a surprise picnic. It was a perfect setting. The clouds vanished and we had a shady tree to lie under. Music playing, wine and beer and lovely food. After a couple of hours we packed up and walked to the warmer side of the hill for a swim. Then back to ours where Jaz had arranged a treasure hunt around the house. I had to answer multi choice questions about NZ to discover the clues that led to a pile of birthday presents. When I didn't get the answer I had to do a penalty such as spin around 20 times or run around the perimeter of the garden. It was all done to a 15 minute timer. I got there just as the buzzer went off which won me a bonus prize: a certificate valid for one board game of my choice with JK.

A lovely day. Great fun. And not even my birthday yet.