Sunday, 30 November 2008

How do they do that?

They are advertising this 'Massive shoe liquidation' at a venue on my route to work. I'm really curious to see how they are going to liquidate a massive shoe - acid? I'm not sure how massive the shoe is, but it's bound to be impressive.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Oh I do like to live beside the seaside

I know that I am risking it all by saying this, but it seems as though summer has finally reached Wellington. Yes, there are still days when you have to walk at a 45 degree angle, but at least the howling gale has a touch of warmth to it.

Where we live is the prime Wellington beachfront area. At least it is now that the mayor has paid for a couple of million tons of sand to be stolen from someone else's beach and dumped in front of the sea wall here. Wellingtonians make the most of this strip of sand and there is always someone playing beach volleyball/walking their dog/jumping into the sea straight out of the sauna. This morning there was a 'surf carnival' where teams of lifeguards raced each other in boats. Really I'm beginning to think that my new life involves being an extra in Home and Away.

Exciting things come in on the sea too. On Friday I was cycling to work when I saw a pod of dolphins in the harbour. They were right in close to the shore, about 8 of them. They had just come to look around, perhaps killing time before Te Papa opened. Lots of people stopped to watch them and I have to admit it made a welcome change from tube mice.

Yesterday we went on a cycle ride round some of Wellington's bays. You don't need to go far to fell as though you are out of the city. On the Miramar peninsula we stopped at Scorching Bay to watch a diving school. It was fun to watch their trail of bubbles and they made their underwater journey around a reef. I'm not sure that I want to take up diving just yet, but a friend at work goes snorkeling regularly and I might be up for that. In the meantime, I'm happy sitting in the sun having a coffee watching Anthony getting to grips with sailing.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Sandwich horror

One question that we get a lot is: "what food do you miss from the UK?". Really we haven't been here long enough to miss anything. However, if you pushed me I would say an M&S tuna and sweetcorn sandwich. Actually, any M&S sandwich would be good. You see, for those of us who don't like egg, tomato or random beetroot in our sandwiches then New Zealand is not the best place to look for bread-based lunchtime solutions.

Saturday, 15 November 2008


I had a really interesting week in Taupo at the geothermal conference. One of the highlights was a trip to the brand new (the official opening is next week) Kawerau geothermal power station. The station generates around 100MW of electricity, as well as providing power to the neighbouring pulp and paper meal and heating greenhouses growing vegetables. Here are some short video clips and some pictures.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I'm off to a conference about geothermal power this week. A significant proportion of New Zealand's power is generated from geothermal resources. The conference is in Taupo, which is in the volcanic region of the North Island.

There are a couple of field trips to geothermal power stations which should be interesting. I'll try to post some pictures when I get back.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Observing the Kiwis

I imagine that this will be a theme that I return to, but the New Zealanders do have their own ways of doing things. On sunny days, like today, they can be found sprawled anywhere, regardless of whether they should be there or not. There is one spot on Oriental Parade where the promenade passes a row of boat houses. You regularly see people sitting on the roofs of these boathouses having a beer and soaking up the sun. In the UK this would be frowned upon, but here it is the norm. What I find less acceptable is the people who ride their bikes on these raked roofs, using them as some form of obstacle course.

A disregard for authority is de rigour here. On Guy Fawkes night there is a huge firework display in the harbour and on the way home from work I came across a group of people unloading two sofas, two armchairs, a coffee table and a couple of crates of beer from the back of a pickup. They then proceeded to set up their outdoor living room in the middle of the pavement at the harbourside.

We went to the local pool to use the steam room last night. However, we didn't join many of the locals who spend their evening going to the sauna, and then running down to the harbour to throw themselves in and then return to start the process again. 

Clearly we have some way to go before could be considered to have adopted the Kiwi lifestyle!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Kiwi coffee nomenclature and the national scone obsession

Cafe culture is big in NZ - BIG. People seem to go out for coffee with alarming frequency, and at the weekend brunch is de rigeour. Apparently this has only been the case for the last 10 years or so. Before that the Kiwis drank tea and stayed at home for the most part.

I have to say that I've yet to have a bad cup of coffee at a cafe here. They do the usual cappuccinos, espressos, lattes etc., but most people go for one of the Kiwi coffees. A 'short black' is an espresso and a 'long black' is a normal black coffee (like an americano). My favourite is a 'flat white', it's kind of a cross between a cappuccino and a latte.

Along with the coffee most Kiwis will consume some type of cake. Most cafes have a choice of savoury or sweet muffins (American style) and savoury or sweet scones. Whether you pronounce scone to rhyme with Joan or gone, you'll get your fill here. Date seems to be the favoured sweet flavour, and cheese the favourite savoury. I've yet to experience a range of scones, but my first impressions are that we make them lighter at home! Mind you, at home we don't microwave them to heat them up and melt the copious amounts of butter that we've spread on them. Am yet to find a proper cream tea, that will be a happy day!