Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 4 of bringing civilization to the kiwis

Day four began with the breakfast of champions, coffee and a pork pie:

Thing2 thoughtfully sent us a text to let us know that the clocks had gone forward. Which was handy, otherwise he'd have been waiting an hour for us to turn up for Yum Cha at Big Thumb on Allen Street.

Tasty treats were had by all, apart from Owen who seemed a bit scared by the squid tentacles and rubbery looking dumplings. We bade our friends goodbye, and headed for Te Papa again.

Outside the museum the Wellington Porsche owners club had decided to congregate. We had a quick look, then nipped inside, where a band was playing:

Which was nice. We wandered, pondered, examined, until we'd all had enough and went for some pudding at Strawberry Fare (a place that specialises in desserts):

Feeling stuffed and slightly sick, we waddled home.

Tomorrow we get up early and catch the ferry to Picton. There may not be any internet on the South Island, so you might not get to find out what happens next for a while.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

NZ will be mine: day 3

We arranged to meet up with the confusingly named Gareth (henceforth Thing2) this morning. Last night's attempt to get hold of him having been thwarted by his having an actual life and going out of an evening. Weirdo.

We drove through Wellington's hilly streets, only getting lost once. Not bad considering we were running on cached maps on my iPhone (it's a work phone, so no international roaming for me). Thing2 and his lovely lady friend Dorrit took us around the corner to the beach:

Lunch was had at the Bach cafe: greasy fry-up for me, eggs on toast for the missus, pancakes and noodles for the kids, along with several litres of milkshake. Then we spent some time throwing stones around the rockpools, while Owen built up a collection of rocks:

We drove along the coast, a kind of mini Great Ocean Road - only without the busloads of tourists, then scaled a small hill with the Ataturk Gallipoli memorial on top. More driving, until we got to the top of Mount Victoria, for a view of the city:

We let Thing2 and Dorrit escape back to their carefree, child-free, fun existence and headed home.

Everyone was too tired to bother doing anything else today, so an early night will be had ready for tomorrow's second assault on Te Papa museum, followed by Yum Cha.

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Day two of our NZ campaign

We started with a walk along the sea front:

We found a play park, a restaurant that used to be a boat, and a swimming pool. We wandered further into the city.

Lunchtime, so we selected a cafe based solely on what was on all the tables:

Turned out to be yummy.

We accidentally found the cable car and so took a ride to the top:

Great views, botanical gardens, bit of a stroll, cup of tea, job done. Back down, bit more of a wander. Found the civic centre where Wendy squeezed some giant kiwi balls:

We wandered around the museum for a bit, but by then everyone was knackered so we headed home. Up the cable car:

Had a cup of tea while Wendy slipped into a coma and the kids watched Cartoon Network. Then a trip back to town for a curry at Massala on Allen St (very tasty), where they also serve this:

Very light, refreshing, almost a sweet taste.

Returned home, failed miserably at getting in touch with a friend, although we did find out that text messages sent from Australian phones can take a couple of hours to get anywhere here.

Plan for today: meet friend.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Day one of NZ subjugation

We got up at 4am, a time which is in fact illegal, and rightly so. Sleepy kids, suitcases and sleepy parents were crammed into the car and off we went to the airport.

The flight was on time, mostly uneventful, apart from the landing which turned the rest of the family grey. I am made of sterner stuff, and have selfishly not passed on those genes to my kids.

We flew with Air New Zealand, so we got to watch some telly. I watched Slumdog Millionaire, which turned out to be awesome, and two episodes of Big Bang Theory, which also turned out to be awesome. My lovely wife could be seen singing along to High School Musical 3, indulging her pervy Zac Efron fetish.

We picked up the hire car from Apex, the only hire firm which will let you take a car on the interisland ferry - the others all make you swap cars and heft your luggage onto the ferry. The guys there were quite friendly, and operated out of a little house just next to the airport - it felt a little like we were borrowing somebody's brother's second car. In a good way.

Ten minutes of driving on the mean streets of Wellington, through the pouring rain, got us to our house. It's up on a hill overlooking Wellington, and has its own cable car for access. A great place to stay, and the kids love the cable car, but this is my favourite part:

Lego Batman fridge magnets! FT, and indeed, W!

This is the view from the living room, now that the rain has stopped:

We didn't do much after settling in. Bought some food, ate, had a spa bath (no water restrictions!), drank some wine, went to bed.

Today's plan is to explore Wellington, maybe visit the museum. We'll also buy some more jumpers, this place is freezing.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let me bore you about my headphones

Previously on my meaningless meanderings: my headphones broke.

 A friend recommended Bang & Olufsen's A8 headphones, saying they were a bit pricey, but really good quality. I'm always happy to have other people make decisions for me, and clutching my end-of-year bonus letter in hand (if not the actual money, then surely the next best thing), I toddled off to the posh end of Collins Street.

 The B&O shop was everything I had imagined whenever I'd walked past one in the past. Well, hurried past, just in case I got charged for looking at their high-end displays. Inside there were large televisions, hooked up to to matt black boxes with only a single LED and one switch (labelled "mmmmm"). Speakers dotted the landscape, shaped like the robots that should have been bringing me my martini after a hard day's work, if only those 1950s scientists had worked harder.

 The sales lady was explaining the function of what looked like a silvery wall tile to another customer. I padded softly across the deep carpet to the small headphones section, trying not to think about the twinges of pain in my wallet. "We'll be with you in a minute, sir", said the sales lady, turning back to her customer to reassure her that when the silvery tile analyses your brainwaves to determine the kind of music you'd want to hear, it would only tickle slightly.

 A tall man appeared at my elbow, seemingly extruded from one of the matt black boxes behind me, and helped me try the headphones out. I betrayed my humble origins by being so rude as to bring up the subject of price early in the conversation. $220. Or $350 if you want the iPhone ones with a microphone and button thing on the cord. I had to ask him to make me a cup of tea, just so I could take a mouthful and sputter it out all over him in shock.

 I stuck with the non-microphone version. It's not as if anyone evr phones me anyway. We filled in the warranty details together. He gave me a matt black, subtle, understated, little bag marked only with a feint B&O logo and the words "More money than sense" and I went on my way, feeling much lighter having been relieved of that burdensome money.

 This was the end of my brief, but enjoyable, relationship with Blake, the sales person. Or so I assumed. Yesterday, the handwritten card below arrived in the post.

Blake had written me a card, congratulating me on my sensible purchase of such a wonderful piece of technology, and bidding me good fortune in any future technology purchasing endeavours. If any of those purchases could be fulfilled by a B&O product, he would be overjoyed to help.
 
So moved was I by his beautiful penmanship and sentiments, that I was tempted to write back. I imagined a lengthy correspondance, spanning many years, initially on the subject of audio equipment but branching out into illuminating discussions on art, philosophy, the scientific theories of the day. Eventually, perhaps upon my death, these wonderful conversations would be collected into sumptuous, leather- bound, volumes and become bestsellers, pored over by academics for the insights contained therein. Some would devoutly follow the Blakeian school, others the Jonesian, and fierce debates would rage. Schoolboys would memorise the witty banter and erudite exchanges, collapsing in giggles whenever a line was quoted.
 
Sadly, it was not to be. My wife took a pin to the bubble of my imagined future and gently translated the message for me: "please give us more of your money". Heatbroken by Blake's deceitful marketing tactic, I cast the sumptuous, yet subtle, card into the recycling.
 
What's that? Are the headphones any good? Yes, they're fucking awesome. I recommend them to anyone that has a shitload of money.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Let me bore you with news of ribs, headphones and blisters

This morning was the first time I'd been brave enough to go running since breaking my rib at karate. It's still sore, but I can move around and breathe normally now, unlike the first few days of last week. Sneezing and coughing still hold the prospect of an accidental sucking chest wound.

 This was also the first time I've used the headphones that came with my iPhone. My trusty apple in-ear ones finally gave up after over three years of being stuffed in my waxy canals and have been given a decent burial in the bin. Rather than shell out for a new set (they seem to have doubled in price since I bought mine), I gave the free ones a try. I was a little wary; the headphones that came with my iPod nano were useless and uncomfortable, and prompted the in-ear purchase.

 Apple seems to have improved their headphones since then. These are no longer uncomfortable, and stayed in for the whole of my run. The sound is ok, but doesn't cope very well when there's a lot of background noise (on the bus, the train, all the places I listen to music) which is where the in-ear ones really shone. They'll do until I can afford something a bit fancier, and I do quite like the little microphone button thing for switching tracks.

 Running is slowly getting rid of my muffin top, and my post-exercise old man cough is a thing of the past, but I didn't expect to lose weight off my feet. For the last few runs I've ended up with a blister on the instep of my right foot, and today I got one to match on my left. I'm hoping I just need to adjust the lacing, rather than have to buy a new pair of trainers. Unless I really did have fat feet when I bought them.

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