Friday, February 27, 2009

on the radio

Five songs that I am loving at the moment.

"Get on your boots", U2.
Obviously I was always going to be excited by a new U2 single but I am not at all disappointed by this one, if that means anything! They're not losing It as they get older, in my opinion, yet neither are they doing quite the same old thing. It'll be exciting to see what the album's like.

"The Fear", Lily Allen.
It's great to see that Lily Allen is bringing us more of her quirky, irreverent and honest music but also developing her sound. I love the first single off her album - it's either incredibly ironic or incredibly self-aware, or maybe a little of both. I love that she can say things that are so much more interesting than the average pop song but she says them in such a fun way.
"Single Ladies", Beyoncé
I'm not normally a fan of Beyoncé, nor a fan of dancey-type music (unless we're talking ABBA) - but for some strange reason I love this song. It took me a while. At first whenever I heard it I wondered why on earth Beyoncé would record such a strange song, but now I really enjoy it every time I hear it. The video is also very cool.
"American Boy", Estelle feat. Kanye West
I think this has been around for a while now but I'm still listening to it avidly. This is such a cool British sort of hip hop - funky, carefree, restrained... One of the few songs featuring Kanye West in which I can see what all the fuss is about.
"My Delirium", Ladyhawke
This is a music style called "indie-disco" by iTunes (I personally wouldn't have a clue what it is!) that I find really interesting and fun, and I love this, Ladyhawke's second single. Good driving music, I would guess. Also a great, creative video. I would love to get the whole album, actually.

Monday, February 23, 2009

another meme

Remember the "YOUR NAME needs" meme? Here it is again, extended! [Just to set the record straight - I did not create this meme but borrowed it from elsewhere.] I typed the following beginnings into Google and found some interesting endings...

1. Allie looks like:
- a flat faced chicken.
- she's gone ten rounds with an unfriendly and lost.
- a cute little girl but also projects a calmness.

2. Allie likes:
- the new bookshelf. (very true)
- High School Musical. (untrue)
- balloons. (well, who doesn't?)

3. Allie says:
- keep our ears clean.
- everybody wants a thrill.
- she's not worried about the criticism.

4. Allie wants:
- to be in the Olympics. What child doesn't?
- you to be happy with every item you purchase. (Money back guarantee)
- to stay healthy, instead of eating peanuts. (Because peanuts are The ultimate temptation?)

5. Allie does:
- South America!
- the weather in a Spanish school project.
- nothing but play forum games all day long.

6. Allie hates:
- the vacuum cleaner. (So true)
- some of you. (Lies! All lies!)
- posers.

7. Allie can:
- run. (Like the wind. A really slow wind.)
- cater to almost any need BUT HEALTH ISSUES. Please do not request a spell for anything medical.
- convince you it's 8am when it's only 2:30am. (A useful skill, that.)

8. Allie goes:
- blonde.
- to the zoo.
-on strike, feeling overworked and underappreciated.

9. Allie is:
- tiniest little worker for God.
- a white flag.
- fat, illiterate.

10. Allie loves:
- dirt.
- the Isle of Skye.
- you, baby doll.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pilgrims' Progress

I think I've blogged about this blog before, but once again I just have to share it with you all - Pilgrims' Progress is a blog written by a Kiwi family who are travelling the world on the cheap for a year. This may sound even more amazing when I mention the fact that they have eight children. Look up their blog for explanation on how it is being done, and how it is afforded, but their most recent post makes me want to drop everything and go to China. Check it out.

I am in the throes of a headcold at the moment. It makes me very depressed. Couple this with the fact that the university is mucking up my enrolment, yet again, and I may be living on my overdraft for the next month, and I am STRESSED. Pilgrims' Progress makes for a moment of glorious escapism - but it's all true.

(By the way, to see the text on this blog I have to scroll down quite a lot. It may be the same for you - don't give up! The blog IS there!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

a question for the habitually single girls and for the girls who used to be habitually single

Warning - this post is so sickly that I know I will regret it in the morning.

So! I'm not in a relationship now, I haven't been in a relationship for years, and the only relationship (singular) I have ever been in is just too embarrassing to think about.

It doesn't freak me out or anything, I'm not ashamed of it, etc., etc.

However, I've always assumed things would change eventually. Maybe one day, in the near or distant future (I'm not too worried which), I'll meet someone whom I will fall madly in love with.

But I'm starting to worry that I have a heart of stone, or that I'm more in love with the idea of being in love than with any actual human being - ALL of whom annoy me or repulse me too much before I've even considered the idea of dating them, unless I work myself up into a frenzy of "maybe-I-have-a-crush-on-them" whenever they're not around. (Of course, as soon as I get in a 5 metre radius of them it becomes very clear that I'm not interested.)

Please tell me - does anyone else feel this way? Or those of you who have fallen in love, did you ever feel this way?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

come together

I have done this kind of meme once before, but decided it was high time for another musical meme after seeing on facebook the meme of a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless but who knows who she is (gosh this is getting complex). And this one does have different questions!

What does your music library say about you?

Put Your iTunes, winamp, mp3 player or whatever on SHUFFLE.
For each question, press the next button to get your answer (no cheating).
You must write down song/artist even if it doesn't make sense.
Include any comments in parenthesis.

1. What do your friends say about you? "Rockstar", Nickelback. (A more unlikely answer I have yet to see.)

2. How would your coworkers describe you? "Here I Am to Worship", Tim Hughes

3.How would you describe yourself? "Afloat", Evermore

4. What do you like in a romantic partner? "You're the One that I Want", John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

5. How do you feel today? "Hurt", Johnny Cash

6. What is your life’s purpose? "Break it to Pieces", Freestyle

7.What is your motto? "I Will Follow Him", from Sister Act

8. What do you think about the most? "Yesterday", the Beatles (I love this, given that I am a history student)

9. What are you going to do on your next vacation? "Rumanian Folk Dances", Bartok (I wish)

10.What do you think of your first love/date? "For Unto Us a Child is Born", from Messiah (huh?)

11. What is your life story? "Still Alive", [my big brother] (Haha - that's a real testimony, isn't it?)

12. What did you do yesterday? "Love Me Like the World is Ending", Ben Lee

13. What do you think of when you see the person you like/love? "Sexual Revolution", Macy Gray (okaaaay)

14. What describes your wedding? "In memoriam", from Les Choristes (uh-oh...)

15. What will they play at your funeral? "Everloving", Moby

16. What is your obsession? "La Vie en Rose", Louis Armstrong

17. What is your biggest fear? "Weep You No More Sad Fountains", from Sense and Sensibility

18. What is your biggest secret? "Persuasion", Tim Finn

19. What is your biggest turn-on? "Ain't No Sunshine", Bill Withers (well, this was always going to be a weird answer, wasn't it?)

20. How do you describe your friends? "The Carnival of the Animals," Saint-Saens (I love this one)

21. What would you do with a million dollars? "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", U2

22. What is your opinion of sex? "La désillusion", from Les Choristes (another uh-oh)

23. What is your biggest regret? "Six Months in a Leaky Boat", Split Enz

24. What would you rather be doing right now? "I Love Paris", Ella Fitzgerald

25. What will you post this list as? "Come Together", Third Day

I tag anyone who wants to be tagged!

I find this funny

I was just looking at my statcounter page for this blog, because I am obsessed with myself (go on - admit it, you are too). And I discovered that I am quoted under "Latest commentary" on the Visit Hanmer Springs website, from back in July 2008 when I visited Hanmer and did a rather positive blog post about it.

I have never been called a "commentator" before. That makes me sound like a serious blogger or someone who writes one of those blogs that somehow people know about, and that is just too funny.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

all grown up

I have moved out of home - GASP!

I am now a resident of Number X, XXX Street, along with four other girls - should be an interesting year! Surprisingly, I am having a lot of fun. I thought I would take a lot of adjusting, having to share the one shower with four other people, being around so many people all the time, after it just being me and Dad for several years now. But it's fine. I suspect all that will come later - what joy is in store for me!

I'm already a bit on edge, though. I used to live in the sleepiest neighbourhood in which I am sure there is not even a whiff of crime; suddenly I am pitchforked into the big bad suburb of Ilam, where professional robbers target student flats because students are usually at uni during the daytime and because there are usually several things like multiple laptops for the taking. Yesterday, one of the girls was home alone and someone knocked on the door. As she came to answer it, she saw a man through the window, but when she opened it, he was heading out onto the street. Suspicious? Creepy? I THINK SO! So today I was paranoid about not leaving the house unless someone else was here to make sure we don't have any scary robbers breaking in, and very, very soon I am going to get myself contents insurance.

On a more positive note, it is a whole lot of fun arranging my new room. I have a really big room that used to be a lounge, and apart from its one drawback (no storage eg wardrobe), it's GREAT having room to move, for the first time in five years! I was thinking maybe a paddling pool in the big space of carpet in the middle of the room? or fill the middle of the room ankle-deep with plastic balls, like at those playgrounds? Any more space-using suggestions, anyone? After all, I wouldn't want to be wasteful.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

the final installment

We arrived for our final night of the road trip in Wanaka, a pleasant town on the side of a lake bearing the same name, which entertains skiiers in winter but right now is into all manner of water sports. Coming to Wanaka, it felt like we were definitely returning to civilisation - suddenly, we had electricity 24/7 if we wanted it, instead of the lights turning off at 10.30 when the generator stopped; we had boiling water on command, instead of having to boil it over a gas stove in a saucepan. I didn't really expect to enjoy Wanaka though. It felt like simply a stop on the road back to Christchurch, after a really great holiday. And after the spectacular scenery of Fiordland, the niceness of Wanaka seemed a bit tame.

However, after wandering round the shops for a while, I had to admit that civilisation was actually quite pleasant. And then after walking around the lake for an hour, yes, well, Wanaka is very pretty and actually quite scenic. Then, going for a bike ride on the cusp of the night - I like this place.
It's great biking around a lake at sunset. I should do it more often.
The next morning, it was packing up again and heading home. Should be depressing, but we were taking a pretty spectacular route. You may remember, in early November, that I took a trip with another friend into the Mackenzie Country - this time we were driving through there on our way back. But also, before we reached that area, we were driving through the Lindis Pass, which is incredibly fun to drive (easy but windy and doooowwwwn), and also amazing to look at. It looks nothing like the highway on either side but is a big clump of hills that look like someone has spread out a huge brown blanket over a few sleeping giants.
Then, onwards to Christchurch and home. I was not quite as depressed to be home as I thought I would be, as I was exhausted and I wanted to start eating food again that wasn't out of a can, but that was one heck of a holiday. Six tanks of petrol = $300, motor camp accomodation = $70, but Central Otago, Fiordland and Wanaka in five nights? Priceless.

Friday, February 06, 2009

of rivers, mountains and fiords

We find our heroines, Allie and Katie, leaving Central Otago and all its dryness for the wetness of the fiords of the south - well, so we heard, anyhow, for we managed to time our visit for two glorious days of fine weather, a rare phenomenon in Fiordland, even in summer. As we left Te Anau, the last town on our way, we took the road towards Milford Sound - a place which Rudyard Kipling once called the eighth wonder of the world. The road opened up before us and we couldn't help gasping.

We were on our way to Gunn's Camp, which is about forty minutes before Milford proper, down a long dirt road. The camp was possibly the coolest one I have ever stayed at. It looks like the huts have sat there unchanged for the past sixty, seventy years. In each hut is an old coal stove; the camp kitchen uses ancient old gas stoves; there are no microwaves, kettles or fridges; it's a primitive old camp that has a lot of character and also a lot of friendliness.

Once settled in, we continued down the road toward Milford Sound, through the Homer Tunnel which goes down through the mountain, and then pops out again high up, a strange feeling. Down, down on twisted roads, finally ending up at the sea, and at Milford Sound. Mitre Peak (in the picture below) is a famous image in New Zealand, but somehow seeing the photographs doesn't quite prepare you for the impressiveness of the real thing.

We booked tickets for a boat trip the next morning, and then made our way back to Gunn's, slowly, stopping at every little walk you can take through the rainforest to waterfalls, rivers and chasms. This is a place exploding with life.

The next morning, bright and early, we drove back to Milford to take our morning cruise at 8.55am. The boat we were on was the smallest of the options, and goes right out to the Tasman Sea to look back up the fiord. Free tea and coffee, mmMM. Waterfalls, seals sunning themselves on rocks, huge sheer mountains everywhere around you which somehow don't translate themselves onto film at all well - here is one of my best attempts:

The captain of the boat gives a bit of a commentary as we go; luckily, he has an incredibly dry wit and so it's all very interesting. He takes pleasure in taking the boat as close to the biggest waterfall as he possibly can, spraying, even soaking most of us who were brave enough to stay on the outside decks. Not recommended for winter, but a surprising thrill on this more sunny day. Finally we arrive back on shore. What to do now?

Well, climb a mountain, of course! The Routeburn Track, widely recognised as one of the Great Walks of New Zealand starts only ten minutes down the road from Gunn's. Although if you want to do the whole thing it takes several days and a bit of money for lodging in the huts, the first couple of hours take you up to Key Summit and to an amazing view. While the track was lovely, walking up throught the forest, once you get past the treeline it's just - WOW. And then once you reach the top, well, I could have sat there forever, gazing at everything around me. Definitely the highlight of the trip. I wouldn't say it was an easy walk for me, but all that just fell away once you reached the top, to views like these:

Eventually it was time to come down, and go back to Gunn's. The next morning, sadly, we had to go, but on the way out we were treated to Fiordland in cloud, a mysterious experience that we had so far missed.
Onwards to Wanaka...

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Went away, took far too many photos, can't bear to share too few - so, over the next few days, I will be sharing parts of my latest wonderful adventure away! Hopefully you can bear with it.

Basically, I have just had a wonderful holiday between the end of my summer job and the start of my Masters. Very much needed, very much appreciated, and it almost didn't happen due to money issues. Thank goodness and my father, it did happen! My friend Katie and I managed to cram a heck of a lot into five nights, and here are the first two: Central Otago. In the middle of the south of the South Island, this is the area that is generally the hottest place in New Zealand in summer and the coldest in winter. Luckily for us, it was cloudy most of the time we were there and didn't get the hellish heat they had a few days before, up to 40 degrees celsius (or about 105 fahrenheit).

My sister happens to own a section in Oturehua, a tiny little place in Central Otago with a pub, a store, and not much else, and on this section sits their caravan. We stayed in the caravan for two nights, and explored this part of NZ.

One of the cool things about Central is the history. This is where gold was discovered in the nineteenth century, and miners flocked from around the world to make their fortunes. So wherever you go, you can easily come across ruined huts like the one above, standing on the side of the road and looking very picturesque. We wanted to go to a place called Bendigo which is full of them, but didn't have the time, unfortunately.

This is sweet little St Bathans, which overlooks a striking Blue Lake with white cliffs that were created by miners sluicing it. The little town itself is full of old character buildings, and if it is a little gimmicky/touristy I can't say I minded.
On our second day in Central, we biked part of the Otago Central Rail Trail, from Auripo Station to Omakau. That was about 17km of a 150km bike track which is becoming more and more of a must-do for tourists and also Kiwis, and definitely my highlight of the area. My favourite part was around the Poolburn Viaduct, where you cross a scary, clattering, tall bridge, and then bike through a few old rail tunnels. As you can see in the photo above, it's striking, rocky scenery, and a lot of fun.
After getting to Omakau, we had lunch, and then Katie, who is basically an ironman, sped all the way back to Auripo, while I explored the pretty little cemetery nearby.

Later that afternoon, we drove up to see the Poolburn Reservoir. For some reason I've wanted to see this for a while - it's a Lord of the Rings location, if you remember the village of Rohan, which the Orcs attack in The Two Towers, and a mother sends her two kids away on a horse to escape to Edoras. The drive up there (below) along a gravel road was amazing - rock formations rising up everywhere; angry, atmospheric looking clouds.
Poolburn Reservoir was rather nice itself, although it was a murky day, with its cute little cottages nestled among the rocks (below), but we had a rather strange experience there. I have never felt more like a city girl. Or maybe like a cast member of Lord of the Flies.

We wandered out of the car and away down to the waterfront, where we vaguely noticed a dad playing with his two kids. However, when we got closer, we realised they were having a mudfight, and the dad actually started egging his kids on to throw mud at us! "They look too clean; go on, go throw mud at them." The kids ran over, little monsters, and with looks of evil glee on their faces shouted in sing-song voices "Let's get them!!" while their dad split his sides laughing in the background.

Of course, we ended up speechless, with great lumps of mud stuck to us. I think the dad told us to lighten up but I have to say I think we took it pretty lightly, just walking away instead of telling him what we thought of his parenting skills. We went for a desultory walk around some of the reservoir, muttering about inbred hicks, a term I never thought I would use on someone but which had become utterly appropriate. What a bizarre experience.

Luckily the beautiful drive back to the main road calmed us down, and we went into Ranfurly, a small town, paid to have showers at the local motor camp, and got ourselves dinner at the tavern. By now it has become one of those weird experiences it's sort of fun to talk about but I would love to see how those kids turn out one day.

The next morning it was time to leave Central Otago, and it was on a happy note that we left - Central is a legendary place for stone fruit and cherries, and on the way out, we stopped in Cromwell, and picked up bags of ripe, juicy apricots and nectarines, which truly must be the food of the gods. I only wish we had bought more, we must have consumed them in about three hours flat.

Onwards to Fiordland and Milford Sound - but that's for tomorrow's blog post.