Friday, 23 June 2006

Just wanted to say...


Sunday, 18 June 2006

Midwinter blues

The half-finished piece I mentioned in my last post was really tedious, so I've started again from scratch.

For the last couple of weeks the weather has been thoroughly miserable, and I have to admit we’ve hibernated a bit. The house is cold, and it’s been too wet to go outside, so we’re we spending all our time in the front room, huddled around the woodburner. So June has been a bit of a washout, really.

We’ve got a few events lined up for next month, though. We’re going to see Stomp in Wellington on July 1st, and the following week is Iain’s recess, so, snow conditions permitting, that’s when we’re planning on hitting the ski slopes. In fact, Iain’s done some research into snow sports injury statistics, (geek alert!) and has concluded that snowboarding will be less risky for my dodgy knees – so we’re probably going to do that instead of skiing.

Iain brought home a snowboarding magazine the other day, and I’ve been doing my own research of sorts, into the lingua franca of the snowboarding world.

So far, I’ve managed to compile this handy phrase book:

Hey, cuz, mad skills! You are rather good, my friend.
stoked to eat pow thrilled to be boarding on powder snow
Yo, bro’, it’s dumpin’! Goodness me, old chap, it would appear to be snowing!
keep it tight work hard at it
run it ghetto don’t work too hard at it
Dope as! Excellent!
shredding heaps doing a lot of tricks

I shall have to try out some of these on our forthcoming trips to Mount Ruapehu. ;-)


Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Hang on in there... readers! We've not forgotten about you.

I've had a half-written post on my computer for the last week, but I've been too busy to finish it. I won't make any promises I can't keep, but I'll do my best to make a proper post before the end of the weekend.


Monday, 5 June 2006

Some thoughts...

...on the changing seasons

Winter has now officially arrived in New Zealand. It’s the equivalent of the beginning of December here, and temperatures have got about as cold as they’re going to get, which means mild days (averaging around 14 degrees) and fairly cold nights (down to about 3 degrees).

Even though the weather’s mild compared to a UK winter, we are having a problem keeping warm indoors. Not only do we have no double-glazing or central heating, but our house doesn’t have any insulation either. Apparently, an uninsulated timber frame house gets even colder than an uninsulated brick house. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, bricks are better insulators, so they trap heat inside the house more effectively, and secondly, they also act a little bit like storage heaters, storing up heat during the day, and releasing it at night. Wooden weatherboard and plasterboard don’t have similar insulating and heat storing properties, which means it’s always cold in the house over the winter. During the day the temperature indoors averages around ten degrees - several degrees colder than outside, and at night it drops to close to the outdoor temperature. On the coldest nights I’ve been wearing a woolly hat in bed!

This peculiar feature of NZ houses explains a phenomenon we noticed when we were doing our tour of North Island around this time last year – the propensity of Kiwis to sit out on their front porch in the middle of winter. It makes sense to us now. They do this because it’s much warmer sitting outside than inside the house!

Having such a cold house has really made us appreciate our lovely wood burner. It kicks out loads of heat, and we can get the sitting room warm and cosy very quickly. Lighting the fire is also one household chore I never have to nag Iain about. He loves getting a fire going. Anything involving setting light to things seems to bring out the caveman in him!

...on the slippery descent into middle-age

I think my other half has finally made it over the hill. Iain had the choice last week of spending money either on a pool table or on a pressure washer. Scarily, he opted for the DIY option. I know he hit forty almost a year ago, but I think this event rather than any landmark birthday has officially signalled the start of middle age for him. It’s only a matter of time before he has his mid-life crisis, so I’m watching out for subtle signals he may be going into emotional meltdown.

This weekend is the NZ equivalent of a bank holiday weekend. It’s called Queen’s Birthday weekend. I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining why. Instead of going away, like any young, jet-setting couple would do, we took the middle aged option and decided we really ought to try to make a bit more progress in our bid to get the garden straight. We’ve tackled two of the largest beds round the front of the house. We’ve not taken any photos this time. I’m sick of taking before and after shots of flowerbeds, and anyway, knowing how apathetic you lot are at the best of times, we didn’t want to risk boring you into a coma. ;-)

...on reading habits

On average books cost 50% more in New Zealand than they do in the UK. Because of this we’ve bought very few books since we’ve been here. We had a pretty large book collection in the UK but we gave the whole lot away when we emigrated, so we’ve been making the most of the public libraries here. Lately I’ve got into the habit of only getting books from the non-fiction section. Here’s what I’ve got out at the moment:

The Little Book of Yoga Breathing: pranayama made easy – I’ve read this all the way through but I’ve not actually tried any of the breathing exercises yet. They don’t sound that easy to me.

Is Your Cat Crazy? – the adventures of a cat therapist in Georgia. Not quite as daft as you might think, but the author’s no James Herriot, although he’s trying very hard to be.

The Bloodaxe Book of Twentieth Century Poetry – Best dipped into during tea breaks. A bit too bleak for bedtime reading. The editor obviously likes being depressed.

The Runner’s World Complete Book of Running – I’ve read most of this one. After a running session a couple of weeks ago I developed cartilage pain in both knees, so I’m reluctantly giving the running a rest for a while. I really don’t want to tear my cartilage again and have to have another op. Consequently, I can’t bear to finish reading it now.

Earlier this week I got an invitation to join a reading circle. I’d never been a member of one before, but I thought it might be fun to give it a go, so I went along and had a great time. Being in a reading circle should hopefully mean I’ll end up reading more fiction, and from a wider range of genres, than if I were left to my own devices. So far I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, which I can thoroughly recommend, and next on my list is The Palace of Tears by Alev Lytle Croutier. This one will be a bit of a departure from the sort of fiction I normally choose. Washington Post’s Book World describes it as ‘A tale of dreams, magic, forbidden passion and enchantment in 1860s Istanbul…with language as rich and evocative as frankincense. Each chapter glows like a precious pearl.’ Hmm… sounds like the sort of thing I’ll either loathe or love. At least it has the merit of being short! I’m hosting next month’s meeting, and I’ve got the delightful task of spending this month’s subs ($50) on some new books.

...on cat behaviour

Our little tabby cat, Mo, loves getting inside confined spaces, so we weren’t all that surprised when we discovered what she’d done when she found Iain’s lumberjack shirt lying on the bed yesterday. She got underneath it and made her way down the sleeve until her head couldn't go any further, then stayed there, purring.