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 ‘‘. 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!