Friday, 25 July 2014

Dry July - The Guts

Things that will most certainly happen while you play at being a non-drinker for the month of Dry-July.
  • You will still wake up with headaches. I can only put this down to dehydration. Ever since I caught my pesky cat lapping from the glass of water I always have beside my bed; I’m afraid to. I know caring is sharing but there is Toxoplasmosis to consider. I mean if you think YOUR cat is too posh to lick its bum you’re mistaken. (1)

  • If you are not a morning person, you will still not be a morning person. (2)

  • Your brain will not suddenly become full of amazingly unique and stunningly creative ideas wandering along yet unused synapses and culminating in you giving a futuristic TED talk resulting in a multimillion dollar book deal. Although it may be a little clearer. (3)

  • Friends will be more put out than you that you are not drinking and will offer helpful advice like, - ‘you could have ONE’. Or, ‘it’s nearly the end of July’. (4)

  • The first four days are the hardest. Stay strong. (I REALLY wanted to suggest to The H on the first night that we ought to swill the already opened half full bottle of Pinot Noir. Only because it would have gone so nicely with the pasta Puttanesca with lashings of parmesan I was making - of course. But who wants to look like the weak one? Instead, I saved myself and the vino by putting it in the next nights venison casserole – alcohol evaporates during cooking. No worries.) (5)

  • You will not lose weight. In order to make up for the calories you are suddenly lacking (a 100ml glass of white wine = 400 calories), you will eat truckloads of high calorie puddings because you deserve them. 5 nights in I made a 9 egg, 400gram dark chocolate mousse. Last night I made a 6 egg lemon cake with lemon syrup drizzle, guided down my gullet with coconut yoghurt and runny cream. (6)

  • After one week you will be in the habit of having a lime and soda, instead of an alcoholic beverage of an evening. They’re both sugary after all.(7)

  •  If you’re lucky your hair may have growth spurt. I’m talking the hair on your head, not your eyebrows, mo or beard. You have to envisage enjoying kale and chia seed smoothies for this to happen mind. (8)

  • Don’t expect to be lauded for you excellent role modeling because the teenage members of the household whom you think you are setting a-fine-example-for will not notice you are stone cold SOBER. Yep two weeks in, my three sprogs were none the wiser. (9)

  • You will NOT have to consider your evenings drinking regime, when taxi-ing teenagers to and from parties. This part is very liberating and you might wonder why you drink and drive within the limits of the law on these nights at all. (10)

  • You will not feel relaxed in the evenings. So you may want to take up meditation or go to evening sessions of pilates. Tick. Better still, take up a foreign language, embroider a quilt for your new great grandnephew or take up sheepskin moccasin making classes at your community college. Because you will be wide awake 2 hours passed your normal had-a-wine-I’m-quite-sleepy bedtime. (11)

  • Despite going to bed a lot later you will wake early. Smack on five o clock for the first week. Use your time productively. Checking in the mirror to note that the whites of your eyes are definitely whiter. Or that the longer breed of eyelashes you’re farming by way of Lash Amplifier is working, is not productive. (12)
  • Three weeks in you will be as bored with your partner as he/she is with you. You will probably at this point also count how many Fridays you have left where you won't be able to wind down with wine time and remain awake through the whole Friday night DVD session. (13)
  •  You will probably plan what you are going to drink on Friday 1st August, well before Friday 1st August. I fancy a sip of bubbly. Thanks. Although, I know part of me after five weeks, will feel like I did when I was pregnant and want to remain sober for eternity in order to protect my hard working organs and internal bits. (14)
NB: Dry July is in its 7th year and was started to raise money for adults living with cancer. The writer, a moderate drinker, did not knock on her neighbours’ doors and ask for sponsors for her period of sobriety. That would have made being alcohol free for five weeks like an excruciatingly long Forty Hour Famine. A 936 hour famine to be precise (she started on 23/6). The boredom from being in a state sameness is pressure enough.

She did however donate some doe-rae-mee to - The Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand - in celebration of her friend Michelle being five years clear. YAY.

 If you want to get involved press the pink button 

And if any Dry July-ers  want to add to this list feel free to do so in the comments section.

Brilliant blog posts on

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Animals Have It


We do our best to keep the vermin/rodent population down on our property by way of traps mostly. Because The H has his gun license but he hasn’t winged a possum or nicked a rabbit since, like well forever. He’s blind at night. Blinded by the lights. Or his gun has a kink in it. (He also never reads this so I can say whatever I want). Like he’s got five nipples, IluvJane4eva tattooed around his belly button, makes a mean chili prawns, is my bessie mate etc. Take your pick.

I digress, my minds like that. I’d be a lot more proficient writer if I could keep on point – which is not a ballet move. And if ‘cut and paste’ had never been invented.

On Tuesday night our large black male cat, Burnt Toast, was snuggled up on my feet atop the lovingly crafted duvet cover I made for the H on our 17th wedding anniversary. A creative masterpiece involving two cal king white sheets sewn together then overlaid with linen doylies, that belonged to my grandmothers and great grandmother, in a random yet symmetrical pattern. Centre stage is a hand embroided ‘J & E’ in duck egg blue. Ohhhh.

I’m just telling you this because Toast jumped out the loo window, as he does around 2 am, only to reemerge half an hour later with a gift-to-moi. A carefully thought out gift, serenaded in with a mournful yowl. The kind of yowl only achievable with something large stuffed in ze cat gob. Next the little sweetheart leapt on the bed and plopped his offering on my feet.

‘OMG it’s a rat,’ I yelled, hoping it was actually a thrush, as I vaulted towards the headboard clutching my knees

The H peered at the small lump, softly illuminated by the waning moon, nestled on vintage white linen. Then he reached over, picked the very dead thankfully RAT up by the tail and proceeded to evacuated it out the loo window.

‘Bloody disgusting cat,’ I said, to the bloody disgusting cat now under the bed having a jolly good cat-wash. Then I crawled back under the duvet, kicked my feet a couple of times to get rid of any rat juice and went back to sleep.

The next day after I fed the horses hay and chickens old salmon skins, I took some cut granny smith apples up to my native bird feeding area in the orchard. I noticed the dish of sugar water was frozen solid. We have been having minus 5 degree frosts so hardly surprising. I nipped inside to get some hot water to melt it. On my return I spied a fat tui, green feathers shimmering in the morning sun, sat on the edge of the white china soup plate, pecking away at the sugar ice happy as Terry. 

There I was, stood mid aisle like an Air NZ trolley dolly about to ask – cookie or cassava chups? Kettle poised. Mrs tui nonchalantly hopped over to an apple and swallowed a couple of beak-fulls. Then she saw me about to interfere with winter and flew onto the nearby peach tree (a sorry specimen which has produced the grand total of ONE peach its whole life). And poof she was gone.

Not deterred, I went ahead and melted the iced sugar disk turning it into a slushie. But obviously I didn’t really need to. The tui was happy, its beak an efficient ice pick. Us humans are dumb. A lot.

I took my chastened self down to our small whitebaiters caravan. A humble guest wing perched on a cliff, with the best view on our place, down over the Shotover river delta and up to Coronet Peak ski field. But before I could sit down on the viewing bench my eye caught something huge and black. Splayed on the ground. L o n g tail. Dead still. 

It was the hairiest most enormous possum I’ve ever seen - caught in the possum trap. (note possums are a huge pest in NZ, the euthanizing of them is encouraged). It seemed tragic to waste its long lush fur. Usually our old dog eats them. Sorry, she does. Straight out of the trap. Bum first. 

However, the specimen before me was perfect taxidermy material for the stuffed animal inclined. It would easily have made, a Russian hat, a stole, a coat for a toddler even.
Crikey, I could pluck it and card it together with some raw wool and knit The H some undies. I’ve just knitted him a phone cover which looks more like something that rhymes with sock. Warmer. I guess I would have if I was an early settler in a rough wool dress, cotton bloomers and my only pair of leather boots. Thank god I’m not. I got my I-phone out of my puffa jacket and took several pics of the possum that would make-a-really-nice-rug. Slippers even. Then I pix’d them to yours truly. Words and pictures by moi – bloody big poss.   

Slightly left of centre and off point again. I went and had my haircut last week. My hairdresser was staggered by the amount of new hair I had sprouting up through the old grey bits.

‘Have you changed your diet?’ she queried. “Added some new nutrients. That’s what it normally is. There’s heaps here. Are you SURE you haven’t done anything.’

I wracked my brain, but didn’t like to mention the first thing that came to mind. I have not consumed alcohol for three weeks. (I’m doing Dry July like all the radio hosts in NZ, actually I started in the last week of June). So I said, NO. Not really. I can’t think of anything. Different. At all. 

Yet she was insistent. Kept asking. I have been thinking a lot about leafy greens lately, does that count? I almost said.

When I got home I didn’t google – alcohol hair growth suppressant. Instead, I poured the H and I a guilt free Ribena and soda, looked him deep in the eyes and said, ‘cheers mate.’

Friday, 11 July 2014

I Tested The Best Infinity Pools of South East Asia, so you don't have to

I love a fly-n-flop holiday mid winter like the next person. This year I got one with secrets and bells on. Yee ha. Sifting by the pool enjoying warm-time is divine. And like any travel writer worth their carbon footprint, I'm passing on some tips to add to your Must-do-Venue-Menu. Here goes.

I loved the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, at first, in-a-size-can-matter kind of way. But we were the wrong guests. We’d turn up with only one key-card, after travelling several floors and towers only to find we needed TWO, one each, in order to get IN to the roof top pool, the roof top bar, the roof top restaurant. Pretty much anywhere really. There were special clubs too. Members only.

Making this 963 roomed hotel so massive has required the owners to open it to joe-public-day-trippers to make ends meet. It kind of detracts from the experience. However, the 200m infinity pool spanning the very edge of - Floor 57 will blow your mind. 24/7. 
The pool attendants wore black t-shirts and pantyhose in American tan. They served pretty alcoholic beverages with haste and a smile. Lime Dacquiri anyone?

Next stop was, The InterContinental, Jambaran Bay, Denpasar. No infinity pool but no matter, the Balinese sculptures watching over the huge selection of water ways were mystical.

Then there was this pool outside Pondok Santi Resort, Gili Trewangan, Lombok. Its crumbly reef bottom required winter feet to wear jandals but its briny 29 degrees made morning dippers buoyant. We sculled like seals, lying on our backs, toes out of the water like only middle aged swimmers can. Sucks to be young. And sink.

One sunny day we boated over to Tugu Resort, Sire Beach, Lombok. Its green tiled, almost infinity pool edged in purple shrubs, beckoned like an ancient tropical lagoon. We entered and bobbed like fat languid catfish. Sublime.

We ate sushi and drank lime juice in transit with old friends, alongside this suspended pond, Jimbaran Bay, Denpasar, Bali. It was a longish lunch and a man, with two wives in white bandeau bikinis drank cocktails semi-submerged for the duration.

Finally, our last hotel night of eight. Swisshotel, Singapore. We got to bed at 2.30am. The mini bar was empty. Bereft of a single morsel. I could have sucked on a sachet of Coffee-mate but that was about it. I’d thought - nightcap you know to help us nod off.

The next day, after our morning sightseeing, I put on my bikini for the last time and went to checkout the pool.

‘I’ll get in with you or I won’t get there at all.’ A conference looking attendee with a Canadian accent had said on our way to breakfast. ‘The lifts don’t work in this hotel.’

I got there eventually. There was no infinity. No ever after. The towels were beige. The sun - radiant. I lay with my head shaded by the beige umbrella. Beads of sweat formed all over me. A tropical sauna. I spied on the pool goers. Why not.

Two middle eastern men entered the pool. They could have been brothers. Or lovers. Both wearing black y-fronts and tight white singlets. Sheer. A wet t-shirt competition began. The Twins, I called them. A pool attendant marched round from the bamboo thatched bar and spoke to them. Perhaps she wasn't fooled by their swim suits du jour either.

An oven-baked women walked over to the lounger beside me. It wasn’t a come on. She was the arm of the sundial. Worshiping. The lasagna woman, I called her. Layers of deep deep colour etched into her skin. Her face aubergine. The triangle where her Adams apple would have been b├ęchamel cream. All highlighted by her beige and chocolate brown string bikini. Obviously she would never be brown enough. She wore no glasses. And looked impatient.

Yet we were tanners side by side. Only she was headed for the tannery. Tan-anorexic. 

On my other side, a man put down his things. Early sixties. Fat unlit Cuban cigar. Book. Striped Bermuda shorts. Handsome. Craggy. Slight paunch. No yacht. But I called him, The Captain.

His perfect match, a women in a red bikini with boobs that could have been half blown balloons at a kids party. Worn with a swagger to the water's edge. Miss Scarlet, I called her, dipped her toes in and arched her neck sky scraper-wards.

The H arrived, we drank our last virgin Mojito. Fresh lime, mint soda, brown sugar.  Lime me up. He departed. He hates pools. I took a dip. All eyes on me. Their turn. Kidney shaped, turquoise tiles. Tepid water up to my knees. Finite. Boring. No- one was taking selfies. Not even the swarthy lads in their wet undies.

A small boy and his mum swam. The lad took a humungous gulp of water. Half in his lungs and half in his stomach. His coughs resonated off the wall of concrete towers. So deep was his cough you could hear his stomach turning inside out. His mother led him from the pool.

Time to go. Walking past the pool-rules-board my eyes were drawn to his puke. Phlegmy. Yuk. I away and spied our first night hotel, The Marina Sands, with the submarine on top over the bay. 

They had a complimentary towel and robe bar there, you could help yourself to lime-y iced water. Their willing attendants would have noticed that puke. Noticed it and cleaned it up. That’s what you get with double key cards…..

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