Monday, February 27, 2006

P & M

Anna, Malu, Me, Pam, Merita

Pam, Me & Mullet Boy

Well...sometimes it works!

The Munchkin Twins

Pam, Anna, Me & Merita

Looking pretty on Pam's deck

Girl's Night out on the Waterfront (January)

Places to go, things to see

Julie at work was kind enough to give me a list of her favourite pubs from when she lived in Kent and Dad's thrown in another one or two as well. Since I'll only lose small pink bits of paper (the current post-it notes in front of me), I thought it wise to post them up here where I can reference them. Please also feel free to add more suggestions through the comments field :)

Rochester, Kent
- Dickens Museum
- Fantastic second-hand bookstore

Hook & Hatchet Pub, Hucking, Kent

Inn on the Green, Bearsted, Kent

St Aubun's Hotel, Jersey, Chatham Isles
- 1 hr flight from London; taxi from St Hellier to St Aubun
- Amazing, cheap, fresh seafood.

White Horse (?), Dad's local, Hollingbourne, Kent

Sky City Starlight Symphony

It always surpises me each year that the turnout for Symphony isn't nearly as big as Christmas in the Park. I suppose the latter is considered more suitable or amusing for the kids. Me, I love lying ont he bank and listening to the opera and everything else. Surprisingly, one of the best pieces of the night was Hedgewig's Theme from Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone which sounds incredible when played by a full orchestra. The laser show, the 1812 Overture cannons and the fireworks are also highlights of the evening :P

Friday, February 24, 2006

For Nick

Put me to bed turn out the light
I'm fading fast and I've had a few
Just one last kiss and I'll say goodnight
Nos da cariad, I'll dream of you

I can't deny that I've been drinking
A little whisky and beer
I've got a little sentimental
Had a laugh and shed a tear
But now the night is nearly over
It's closing time
I feel a little unsteady
Put your hand in mine


I can't deny that it affects me
Singing the old songs
I think back to where I came from
And wonder where I belong
But wherever I may stagger
Near or far
They say home is where the heart is
It's where ever you are

I know whenever I've been drinking
And I start to unwind
I feel my tounge getting looser
I say whatever's on my mind
So don't believe me in the morning
If I say it was the drink
When tonight I say "I love you"
That's what I really think


(c) Goodnight Cariad 2000 Mike Brooks

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Going to Europe some of you may know I'm off to England soon. Really soon in in a little over a week soon. It's weird; I mean I've been planning this trip for months now but it just hasn't seemed real. Now it's finally starting to hit me that I'm really going and that I'm really going to not see any of you lot for the next four months. Mind least I'll have a pile of new stories for when I get back :P Another week at work; the going away party on Friday; the hangover on Saturday; final day working at Church on Sunday; then three days to pack and dig through boxes trying to find things that went into storage by accident.

Oh yeah, the flat broke up unexpectedly so I ended up moving back to my parents on the Shore. What a commute! I used to walk out my door and be at work in ten minutes, now I'm having to get up at 6.46 - ack! So I've been living something of a transient lifestyle lately, living out of bags from here or Grey Lynn. Didn't help that my cellphone went swimming in coke (at $100 repair that's the most expensive bottle of coke ever!) so I was rather incommunicado for a while. I have it back now and after borrowing my parent's old Savvy for a while I have fallen in love with my Nokia all over again.

So...itinerary and what not. Well next Wednesday, I guess I pack and then head off for my Shadowrun game (which I'll miss like hell - I expect regular plot updates boys!). I may deign to wish Anna Happy Birthday then rather than as I board the plane (her 22nd's the next day); I have the feeling that a 1am wake up call won't go down too well! So I have a long flight to Singapore and pray that I can sleep on the plane as I get in around 7am local time! I've got a nice hotel all lined up but I'll get there far too early so that means heading for the pool or shopping instead. I'm planning on buying myself a digital camera and gear over there and can't wait to start taking pictures!

My hotel package gives me access to a whole bunch of stuff but I'm only there two days and I don't know how wasted I'll be. There's a night safari and stuff that I wouldn't mind going on and I might hit the clubs on the second night just so that I can try and sleep on the plane as I've got an early morning depature.

I go back through the time zones so I hit Heathrow respectably in the afternoon. I'll be going from around 32'C to 5'C and anticipate the need to change on the plane. Silly cold countries...I hate being cold especially when I lack my favourite warm snuggly blankets :P

Plan A is that my recruitment agency comes through - The Original London Pub Company - they claim they have a 100% success rate and they suply about 200 pubs in London. Of course...someone has to leave before an offer can be made. The idea is that I have a room lined up to kip in for a few days on premise and then start work pulling pints. Meet lots of people, free accom, some free meals, cheap drinks, the hope of tips, plus sterling silver for spending money. Plenty of time to walk around and explore London. I already have a huge list of museums, art galleries, churches, collections at the National Library etc... that I want to look at. I finally get to see the originals of medieval paintings that we've studied and touch the stones of buildings that I've read about. Very, very geekily excited!

Plan A continues that I spend three months living, working & exploring in London and hopefully even saving a little sterling. I then go straight to Contiki and spend ten days on a whirlwind tour of Europe. I'm hoping that I can hop across for two or three day trips while I'm working. After that, I have something like three weeks to travel around the UK and meet my Dad's family + have a Guiness in Dublin :P

I'm definitely making day trips from London to Bath (thanks to Jane Austen), going on pilgrimmage to Canterbury (go Chaucer!), to Glastonbury to say the three prayers in Latin within the sanctuary of the oldest abbey in England (the Pater Noster, Creed and Ave Maria). It's also the site where the English kings perpetuated and reworked the myth of King Arthur in an effort to subjugate the unruly Welsh.

Oh, and many thanks to Anna's mate [Lindsay?] in Edinburgh - I owe you a drink girl! - who is posting me over the paperwork I need to set up my English bank account. It's through a group called 1st Contact who so far have proved to be awesome. They charge slightly less than Hong Kong Savings Bank and such like to help you set up the account and unlike most schemes you don't have to transfer $4-5,000 NZ into the account - in fact you don't have to transfer anything and it still only takes 72hrs to open! You also get a bunch of bonuses from them like a UK Vodafone sim card and some other stuff. However, you do have to provide a bunch more paperwork which requires contact with someone already living properly in the UK. Again, thank you Lindsay! [and apologies if I'm spelling your name wrong!].

Plan B is that I don't get the job in which case the recruitment agency has to refund all my money and that's enough to live off for two weeks. I won a free tour round Scotlabd through 1st Contact so Plan B means that I hit London and the next day catch the train to Edinburgh to do this trip. Mmm the Scottish Highlands in winter [I mean, the first week of bonny freeze your tits off Spring]. There's a couple of backpackers advertising for staff, the T'n'T mag and a few of my recruitment agencies have international offices in London if I want to go for office work. I'm sure I can find something and the office work would pay much better. But, accommodation is really expensive in London which is why I'll probably look at pub work first [plus there's the free or cheap booze and the meeting people...].

The other bonus is that I'm going to be over there for the World Cup [think soccer not rugby people]. I don't have tickets but you can bet I'm going to fnd a pub with a big tv for each game! Course I'll be thinking about someone back home who'll also be up watching them...

I fly out of Heathrow on Friday July 7th [thank God for tailwinds!] and fly back to Singapore for another three days of shopping and exploring. Different hotel, right on the markets :P Then back to Auckland to the loving arms of my family and someone special. Conveniently by the time I've recovered from my jet lag it will be July 14th - Bastille Day & my birthday!! So, huge welcome back party and my 25th~!! [I feel so old!]


I've always loved the idea of Haunted Houses as an attraction/theme park type thing and now we finally have one in Auckland. The actors and the makeup are great; although some of them are more enthusiastic in their role. The house is cool - the sort of thing that you'd do once. It's quite short, about 20-25mins. I got 'volunteered' in one room and ended up with 'baby brains' on my finger; so gross! I think I managed to wipe most of it off on the dentist though which was a bonus.

We didn't do the Freaky Forest but Luzette says its fantastic. We did do Corn Evil though - half of it anyway before it got too late. I think we were in there for most of an hour and were still only half-way through! So worth going to and much bigger than when it was down towards Hamilton way.

Valentine's Day

I love being a girl :P I had a red rose & red bull waiting on Luz's desk for when she started work this morning & she had a little namednteddy bear waiting on my desk when I got back from work. And we snuck out the day before to get Lucy this damn cute card and chocolate for her birthday. Guys just miss out having sweaty, smelly rugby fracas for bonding instead of shopping!

I realize that Valentine's Day is of course an overly commercialized Hallmark holiday but it's also a fantastic day to either 'bah humbug' if single or to look forward to if you're with someone. The cliches of flowers, chocolates, small cuddly animals etc... often get ignored simply because they are cliches but I for one know that I like them irregardless! I love flowers & have often unsuccessfully tried to explain that flowers should be given more frequently than Valentines Day & birthdays. Flowers don't need to be bought from stores, they can be picked from the garden or the side of the road. What's really important is that a) flowers are pretty, happy, cheery things and b) that your significant other stopped for a moment in their day, thought of you fondly & wanted to make you smile. I got a beautiful rose for Valentine's Day, that admittedly started dropping petals as we walked, that was gorgeous because he'd managed to get off work early so that he could drive all the way to his parents and hand pick a flower for me. And it was beautiful.

It' funny really, we learnt through experience that it's wise to book ahead on Valentine's Day as unsurprisingly the restaurants get rather full. I'm kind of glad though that the evening did get into a muddle as it meant that we got to just wander around hand in hand in the sun and talk and be together (yes I know, aw and it sounds like mushy crap but it's true). We ended up in a park drinking champagne and having to skull it as the taxi pulled up & refused to let us take the open bottle on board. This was bloody funny as you don't often see people standing at a bus stop skulling bubbly from their wine glasses. Sitting in the park sipping bubbly and talking was magic.

Dinner was at a Thai restaurant that I love and we didn't even realize that everyone had left until the final table (apart from us) got up to leave came over to gently tease us on their way out.

Valentine's Day isn't really the kind of day that you go into in great detail on a public blog but it was wonderful and the happiest Valentine's Day that I've ever had. [and if you're reading this, I can see that grin]

Des'ree 'You Gotta Be'

Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers, they may cause you tears
Go ahead release your fears
Stand up and be counted
Don't be ashamed to cry

You gotta be
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

Herald what your mother said
Read the books your father read
Try to solve the puzzles in your own sweet time
Some may have more cash than you
Others take a different view
My oh my, heh, hey

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

Don't ask no questions, it goes on without you
Leaving you behind if you can't stand the pace
The world keeps on spinning
You can't stop it, if you try to
This time it's danger staring you in the face

Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers, they may cause you tears
Go ahead release your fears
My oh my heh, hey, hey

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day
My oh my heh, hey...

Being British

One of the British national daily newspapers is asking readers "what it means to be British?". Some of the emails are hilarious but this is one from a chap in Switzerland...

"Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all?Suspicion of anything foreign ".

Friday, February 03, 2006

Julia's Hen's Night

Lovely Julia at work is getting married soon so we felt that we should meet the demands of tradition and get her as drunk as possible before the in-laws fly in. She was judged before a jury of her peers (half the execs in our division I think) and found lacking in appropriate feminine ideals. Nalini, our judge, read through a list of requirements for 1950s housewifes and, sadly, Julia disagreed with almost all of them. She was of course duly reprimanded and was dressed for the rest of the evening with an apron, a baby's pacifier, a willy shaped whistle, a bride's veil, a feather duster and the most fantastic pair of bloomers to wear over her pants that read 'Getting Married'.

She even got to portray her new threads out on the red carpet as Charlize Theron came to her movie premiere while we were eating dinner at the Playhouse. Thanks to some kind security staff we got to parade Julia after Charlize had moved on :)

Cocktails were downed at Boogey Wonderland and we danced up a storm. We were even kind enough to dust the DJ's booth for him!

Me and Luzette stayed on in town after the others had left and some of my mates came to join us. I ended up dancing [proper partner dancing rather than our usual girls night skank] with one of them up in the square outside later, being dipped and everything - toe curling! It was a good night :)

Hen's Night

All the gang!

Beautiful Julia on Charlize Theron's Red Carpet

Getting Married

Julia being judged

Boogey Wonderland!

Aren't they cute!

Me and Luzette

We loved Nalini's glasses

Nalini & Claire

Nalini as Judge