Monthly Archives: December 2009

A long drop

Classic New Zealand long drop

All New Zealanders will instantly recognise this classic example of kiwiana architecture as the iconic ‘long drop’.

These sheds are most commonly located at beaches (if you’re lucky), on lake fronts, golf courses, on the outskirts of bush and sometimes deep within the bush.

The long drop serves a practical purpose. Let’s call it the ‘small room away from home’, or in simpler terms, the outdoor dunnie.

Most long drops are built of corrugated iron (as pictured) and have one hinged door of sorts. The door might not necessarily reach the ground – or the roof. Some close with the help of a sliding bolt, or a hook latch – others swing freely.

There are no windows.

There is no lighting.

Once the door is closed, you’re in the dark, guided only by smell. Take one step forward and you’ll reach a bench upon which sits a familiar (if you can see it) toilet seat. Some might have covers – others do not. Beneath is a long dark hole.

There is no plumbing in a long drop – hence the name. After positioning yourself over the seat (I’m a girl!), and once action has been initiated, it’s a long drop. I don’t know if there’s a standard length of drop or what happens when there’s no drop. Neither of these are questions I’ve ever thought to ask.

When you’re desperate, you really don’t care. (There’s another way of phrasing that, but I’ll resist indulging in toilet humour.) As a child, and even as an adult the aim of the exercise is to get in and out of there in the shortest time possible. You don’t linger in a long drop.

Some things never change – but I do think the smart green coat of paint and the flowering vine at the Lions Walk long drop are nice touches.

The ‘S’ curve

Swans really are the most elegant of creatures aren’t they?

Their necks, not shown to best advantage here, form the beautiful ‘S’ curve so revered in art.  Tchaikovsky composed arguably the most well-loved  ballet showcasing their grace and movement.

For the past few, and the next few days I’m greeted by a flock of them at every gaze from our window. They are so peaceful.

Taupo has caught up

Finally - decent coffee and yummy food!

Taupo has in the past, been one of those places you forgive for it’s lack of big city sophistication. After all, it has the most gorgeous lake (a photo tomorrow perhaps), the stunning backdrop of Mts Ruapehu and Tongariro, and an abundance of hot pools and beautiful walks.

Imagine our delight this morning when we discovered a deli – Salute Delicatessen, Horomatangi Street – that would make most city-dwellers drool! The smell of food and coffee beckoned us in. The cabinet food looked totally delicious but because we’d just had late breakfast in another cafe, we weren’t up for further indulgence. A separate cheese room was situated at the far end, and the shelves were generously stocked with a wide variety of dried, tinned, bottled and baked goodies. As I was ordering our coffees – sheltering from the rain you understand – the woman in front of me suggested we try the macadamia toffee cookies, and told me that we were in THE BEST cafe in Taupo. (I bought a couple for later.)

She had a massive quarter round of hard cheese in front of her – I commented that she must in for some heavy-duty entertaining! She assured me that she wasn’t intending to take the whole portion – just a big chunk of it, but yes, she was catering for quite a few.

When the coffees came, I needed no further convincing about the quality of the cafe! I’m looking forward to spending more time there.

Then there’s Kaffee Eis of course – another import from Wellington. Things are looking up in Taupo.

On the road

Interesting way to advertise?

It’s a while since we’ve been on the road for a long trip – made even longer by traffic delays. And there were a lot of new things to see. New sections of road, new types of campervans (as above) and new advertising language.

To name a few:

Dial ‘0800 SEAWEED’ (for agri-products)

Dial ‘0800 HEIFFER’ (for vet care)

Dial ‘0800 4 FLOATS’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a total wally when it comes to converting letters to numbers. I just can’t work it out and would much prefer being given a number – forget the clever acronyms or whatever these are now called.

And while driving through Bulls (questionnable name don’t you think?) a sign on one of the local community halls said:
‘BULLS  Be-friend-a-bul’

Also in the Rangtikei district it was suggested we buy ‘Peach Teats’ – this is not a new one but it’s always caught my eye as it sounds so risque.

What do you think you would buy in a shop named ‘Wee crafty pea’? Open to suggestion there….

I saw several signs picturing family adventures in rural New Zealand, with the the byline ‘www.movetothecountry.co.nz‘. Might be worth a peek.

Finally, ‘Tree Truck Gorge Road’. I’m glad I don’t live there – it sounds like the remnant of a storm.

Before we’d even finished our trip, which should have taken around 41/2 hours, I calculated that in the same time it was taking we could have flown to Brisbane, driven the 1 1/2 hours to Noosa, and could have already been lounging on the beach. Sigh….

I said to the driver at one point, “I’m glad you’re going so fast, because crashing at this speed is certain death.  I certainly wouldn’t want to survive the impact.” He pointed out the number of airbags…I’m not convinced.

Christmas aftermath

The last piece of cake - and no takers!

I’d love to know why Christmas is the one day in the year when sheer gluttony is encouraged – followed by the same on Boxing Day!

My efforts to reduce the quantity on offer this year were not successful. I thought I had it all worked out, and then extra unexpected delights turned up – crayfish and paua. One doesn’t want to appear ungrateful when such treats arrive, but the reality is that after  our guests had gorged on these delicacies plus those I’d planned, their appetites for salmon, turkey and ham were dulled.

The fridge is now left groaning with leftovers so that getting a tub of Olivio from it is a logistical nightmare. You have to shuffle the tubs and plates and bottles and jugs around, takes things out, replace them with bits from the lower shelves, meanwhile hoping that you don’t miss anything. It has been in my experience to find a leftover after more weeks than I care to mention.

I rely on the fridge munchers (the fressers – that’s yiddish) to get on with their business, meanwhile thinking of creative ways of using the remains. This year, more so than any others I feel as if I’m pushing food on to people in my efforts to clear the fridge! Waste is to be discouraged – I hate seeing food wasted, especially when so many millions of people are starving.

It’s been a wonderful two days, lots of family, friends and laughter. Lots of love and lots of hugs, lots of stories and lots of sharing…all the things that are so special about Christmas.

Shopping strategy

Intellectual vs commercial pursuits

“Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the town, every creature was shopping,
except for this clown….”

Absolute mayhem greeted me this morning as I strode purposefully down Lambton Quay. I hadn’t seen so many people on the streets all week…there was a massive cruise ship docked down near the stadium which  I suspect had disgorged a significant number of older shoppers carrying cameras and dressed in identical lime green sleeveless jackets.

Can you guess what the guy seated on the bench was doing as he sat amid the chaos? My guess is that he’d been told to wait while his family shopped, and he had gone to town prepared. Not content to spend time watching the passing parade of shoppers and sightseers off the massive cruise ship, he was instead working on the daily Sudoku puzzle from the Dom Post.

You can just hear him can’t you “Honey, just go and do what you have to do. I’m quite happy, take as long as you like. If I finish the Sudoku, there’s the crossword, the wordfind and I can always have a go at the five minute quiz…”

Well why not – better than being grumpy or grinchy!

On a contrasting note, earlier in the day while out with Toby, the spirit of Christmas was evident in every passerby. Without exception, each person I passed smiled and said hello. Relaxed, happy – on holiday.

Long live the Christmas spirit – minus the shopping it’d be perfect wouldn’t it.

The big picture

We are but a small part

In the ‘Lighter side of challenge’ (December 17), I briefly outlined a creative challenge we’d participated in recently at work.

Today a few of us had the task of hanging the 90 tiles to form the big picture. The ideas and their execution were amazing – so much creative genius. Most teams had really taken up the challenge and came up with some fabulous ideas. Perhaps the most impressive entry (aside from ours of course) is one in the form of a 3D drop-down book. It has a pull tab at the top left corner and as you slide the tab gently across the seven pages fall down – one by one – each with a pop-up feature on the page and text. It is bound with plastic coil. Perfectly done and so so clever!

As you can see, our contribution has impact. You might also note, that since my original photograph one of my colleagues has very carefully added red to the open mouths…it was bothering him, and he felt our figures needed the finishing touch. He’s right of course…

Throughout the course of this afternoon, as word got around, people took time out from their desks to go up and have a look at the montage. Everyone’s reactions were brilliant – it was such a good idea, and has resulted in a raised awareness of the size of the organisation and the commitment of staff.

Tomorrow it is officially unveiled during an end-of-year morning tea.

It was so much fun and welcome respite from the daily grind. But I somehow think that if you gave this same challenge to schoolchildren, our efforts would pale!

Majestic majestic

Majestic Centre in a majestic setting

Us New Zealanders are so very lucky aren’t we…just look at the colour of our sky – clear and vibrant azure blue. Not a cloud, not a breath of wind, true beauty.

I took this photo just after 9.00am today. I’d come from my swim and saw a couple of tourists on Perretts Corner with their camera angled high. So I stopped and looked, curious to see what they were focusing on.

How could I have missed it? I was so intent on getting on with my stupid self-imposed schedule that I hadn’t taken a second to glimpse the glorious sight above.

Note to self: stop and smell the roses!

Taken in!

Our night shelter - not!

I was looking at the photograph I took for ‘The joy of sunglasses’ post and wondering whether it was obvious that I’d taken a snap of a poster in one of the local shop windows. It reminded me of a story…

Now, I’m a fairly gullible person – very very trusting of most things people tell me, especially when coming from the mouths of those older and wiser.

Earlier on this year I went on a not very wild wilderness walk, (the Tora Walk), with a group of 12 other people. I only knew two of them at the outset. The weekend was  a step outside my comfort zone, but I embraced it and ended up having the most wonderful, laughter-filled weekend. The walk itself wasn’t that challenging so on that front I would’ve liked a bit more exersion – but my new friends were a bunch of delightful and entertaining people, who revelled in taking the mickey and were quick to recognise a target!

On the second day of the three-day walk, we had energy to spare and a couple of alternative walks in the area were recommended. One was along the coastline to the site of a old shipwreck. The round trip was around 16kms I think and a small group of us set off in high spirits chatting as went. We decided to turn back before reaching the wreck, being keen to have swim in Tora Bay before  the sun went down. We passed a few who’d set off after us and who were intending to walk the full distance. I expressed a little disappointment in not going the whole way to see the wreck and my reaction was noted.

Now let’s fast forward to the evening when we were having our meal and discussing events of the day. Wayne decided it was time to have a little fun. He drew me over to and asked me if I’d like to have a look at his photos of the wreck.

“Ros, it was just fantastic – so worth the walk. It’s such a shame you didn’t come with us.”

As he expected, I looked at his photos capturing the wreck high above the tideline in brilliant sunlight, and expressed the appropriate amount of photo-envy. (Photo envy is a bit like menu-envy – you know, when someone else has chosen a dish that you wish you’d chosen!).

My friends were clearly enjoying their victory…the hardy team that’d gone the distance and had struck gold!

Until I saw a tell-tale flash of light on the photograph – flash hitting plastic photo sleeve surface. They’d got me – hook, line and sinker! And boy, did they rub it in for the remainder of the trip.

The truth – there was nothing to see at the site of the wreck – total nada. They’d set me up – Wayne took a shot of the picture of the wreck from an information folder at the hut we were staying in. And then…along came little Miss Gullible just ripe for the picking.

Lighter side of challenge

Teamwork

At work we were challenged in a different way recently. The challenge was to show what our team contributes to the organisation using a 2ocm square piece of white card and whatever materials we liked. Around fifty identical cards were distributed to teams nationwide – with the same challenge. The intention is that when all cards are received they’ll be put together somehow to create a big picture of what we do.

After several discussions our team settled on a choral theme, with choristers keeping in time and hopefully in tune with each other under the baton of the conductor (of course). We didn’t know how on earth we were going to do it…but persevered with the idea. We didn’t have a lot of time but worked as a team in the truest sense on the word. For every problem of ‘how to’ we came up with a solution.

The task felt a bit like those faced by the contestants in the American version of The Apprentice – but please note we didn’t resort to bitching and back-stabbing, and the only reward offered us is personal satisfaction!

As you can see, we thought outside the square – we’ve made our representation 3D without breaching the size limitations.

We had an immense amount of fun with lots and lots of laughs, and are deservedly proud of our card. Not only does it exemplify what we do as a team at work, it also shows the depth of creative talent and camaraderie within the team.