Saturday, October 24, 2009


I've done something I never thought I would get into today; got my gardening thing on.

I share a flat with four other girls. We're all students, and it's hard enough getting everyone to do their chores about the house let alone weed the garden every now and then (which, apparently, IS our responsibility as tenants of the house). So in the course of the last ten months, the garden has got exceptionally overgrown, apart from the lawns, which we actually do mow weekly or fortnightly. As we're coming up to the end of the year and all that entails (flat inspection etc.), and as today was a really lovely day, I decided to get outside and start attacking those weeds.

And it was surprisingly addictive. Imagine, if you will: A huge, waist-high green thing, a foreigner among the shrubs. Grabbing it with both hands. RIPPING it out of the ground intact, like some alien creature, and shaking the dirt off its roots triumphantly. I've only got a small portion done, but the bug has bitten me (thankfully, not literally) and I want to see that garden looking tidy!

It also happens to be the case that a few days ago we bought some seedlings - lettuce plants, and some herbs to grow in pots. So part of the day was spent happily transplanting cute little plants which will hopefully be extremely useful in a month or two.

The amount of weeds we stuffed into our organics disposal bin! It was VERY SATISFYING. I think next time I'll take before and after shots.
Our cute little lettuce plants.
Our herbs, lined up on the windowsill: pizza thyme, basil and Italian parsley. Mm-mm.
So, who knows what I'll be doing next weekend?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ee-ee-ee-ee-ee eet eet eet

The latest Regina Spektor album, Far, came out here just after I left for the UK, so I didn't buy it until I got back to New Zealand - a wait of two months which was HARD.

But now I have it, and have basically made up for two months missed music by listening to it constantly. By launching into vocal aerobics of made-up words when my flatmates least expect it (much less skilfully than the singer, too).

There are several things I love about Regina Spektor's music. One is the lack of pretension in her voice. She doesn't pull out the silly little tricks less creative artists use; she's just plain good at singing. Another is her playfulness, with tunefulness. She uses her voice like a musical instrument.

Personally, I enjoy this album just as much as 'Begin to Hope', at least. At this point I think I like it more. It's a little less radio-friendly; it seems a little more creative. However, I have been known to change my mind about CDs that I listen to over and over again. For now, however, I'm loving it.

My favourites: Human of the Year, Eet, Genius Next Door, Wallet, Machine, Laughing With and Dance Anthem of the 80s. (But actually I like them all and find it very hard to choose.)

Has anyone else opinions to share? I have been completely unable to discuss it with anyone because no one else I know has listened to it yet.

Friday, October 16, 2009

is it possible to be TOO much influenced by books?

One of my English purchases :)

Diary entries while in Europe:

London, 15 August
... I can see why Bean in Fantastic Mr Fox existed on cider alone. ...

Brighton, 30 August
... I went for a little walk through a field up a hill, and calmed right down. It was exactly how England's supposed to be. I felt like Elizabeth Bennet wandering round Hertfordshire.
Then I saw cows in the next paddock over, and started imagining farmers with dogs and/or guns, a la Farmer Maggot of the Shire, so I quickly made my way back to campus. ...

Brighton, 31 August
... There is something very likeable about Brighton. Taste is an unknown word, but it's very vibrant, and everywhere you look something is going on. I felt like I shouldn't like it, but I did.
I can see why this is the place Lydia Bennet eloped with Wickham. It's exactly the sort of place where you do stupid things.

Brighton, 2 September [in the Royal Pavilion]
... I kept wondering, trying to remember, as I wandered through the rooms, "Was this the room where the heroine of Regency Buck fainted when the Prince Regent tried to kiss her?"

Prague - Krakow, 15-16 September
... We were on the 21.09 to Krakow Glowny, in a ladies' sleeper shared by three. ... We were told we MUST lock our doors or we would be robbed by gypsies, and it felt like a cross between
Murder on the Orient Express and “The Elves and the Shoemaker”.

London, 26 September
... I started off by catching a bus to Manor House Station, and then hopping on the Piccadilly and Centre lines to Notting Hill. I knew I would not forgive myself if I didn't go to Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning. So I went. ... I bought one antique print, a woodcut, which I am very pleased with for £15. ACTUALLY considered buying an 1899 illustrated Pride and Prejudice for £180. Even after calculating exchange rates and figuring out exactly how much that would cost me, I considered it. Ended up ruefully deciding I couldn't justify it. ...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a little piece of me is in London

It's over two weeks ago now, but here am I: displayed proudly in a glass case in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. I'm the big one in the middle; you may JUST be able to see a sketch of a vase. As the public walked into this particular room, we were given a card and a pencil and asked to draw our favourite ceramic from home; minutes later, we were part of an exhibition. Little pieces of people.

And now I'm home. There are wonderful things about being home:
- seeing people: family, flatmates, friends.
- living in a country where cigarettes are unpopular and where smokers are subject to etiquette.
- a silly and unpredictable climate which makes me feel quite a fondness for little old New Zealand, buffeted on all sides by the weather.
- ducklings, daffodils... etc.
- getting involved in the History department again.

Less wonderful are:
- the constant questions of "how was Europe?" What else can I say but "er, really good. Do you want more detail?"
- catching up on two months of missed Russian language classes. MY HEAD HURTS.
- a feeling of boredom as I go from extreme activeness to moments of free time.
- most of all, feeling like there is a little piece of me missing.

Here is what I wrote in my diary, sitting in Heathrow Airport on 29 September, waiting to leave London:

"I cannot believe it's only two months since I came through Heathrow for the first time, but at the same time it feels like yesterday. Up until writing, I've felt very matter-of-fact about it all--oh yes, I'll be in Christchurch on Thursday--but suddenly, a wave of unease hits me, and I just know I don't want to go. New Zealand is still my favourite place in the entire world--make that GALAXY--but I feel torn. I absolutely love this place; I've no idea when I will come back, if ever; it has been, possibly, the time of my life. And I'm supposed to just go back home and settle into life again? to consider my future in an unbiased manner when everything is whispering "England! England!"? I'm one of those people I hate, Miss Travelling-CHANGED-Me - no, I'm not. At least, I hope not. But I won't be able to explain it to anyone without hurting their feelings or elevating the NZ inferiority complex, which is not my intent or purpose at all. Being away has heightened my appreciation of what we have at home to a huge extent. But I want to be in two places at once, which we all know is impossible."

So here I am now. Loving being home; missing London. Struggling to find my niche.