Sunday, 30 September 2012


The Old Girl and I have a plan to backpack around Europe in the near future while we can still walk in a reasonably straight line.

It will have to be fairly soon as I've already reached 60, although as she is still earning well she would rather wait a couple of years.

The initial plan was to sell  our house and apartment, buy a larger apartment or a smaller house in an area that we will be happy to retire to, bank the remainder and use this to live on while travelling around for 5 years or more.

We have had some negative responses from people we have mentioned this to.

The older ones can't understand it and come up with all sorts of reasons not to:

The younger ones can't believe that decrepit oldies like us could get on a plane unaided let alone backpack around foreign countries:

"You want to do what! Stay there and I'll get your medication"

I've done the sums and checked out the options and am pleased to say that it all seems feasible.

If we were to go the whole hog and sell up though we would need to live on rental income from the apartment, interest on savings and the pension.

Now I'm an old bugger but not that old so I have another 5 years to wait for the pension (double that if some arsehole politicians had their way) so this pushes the plan out a bit.

The Old Girl and I have lived in blissful harmony for 24 years. We have a great relationship built on sharing, trust, mutual interests, love and the very essential component of each doing their own thing when they want or need to. Space in other words. If we were cooped up together for years living out of suitcases (backpacks) we might murder each other.

We discussed this on a walk today around the bay and came up with a three stage plan.

Stage One

Look to do some extended holidays in far away places.
We have travelled a lot but, because we have always been employed have been limited to short (2 or 3 or 4 week holidays).
We have been looking at 'house swapping' where we pair up with people on the other side of the world and swap houses for a month or two. The beauty of this is that no money changes hands (normally the most expensive element of travel is accommodation) and you have a solid base to operate from.
Normal daily expenses are no different than if you are at home (food, insurances, mortgage etc).
If we choose wisely and find a place that is a hub we will be able to EuroPass our way around cheaply.
We have decided that if we swap our two residences (a place in the country and a city apartment 2 hours away) this will enable us to get something pretty reasonable in France, Italy or Spain.

Stage Two

This is the first big step.
This involves renting (not selling) or house and to take the plunge and travel for a year.
If it doesn't work out we can come back and resume life as normal.
If it does work out then we can consider ....

Stage Three

The 'full monty'

Selling up (but keeping a nice bolt-hole or retirement place) to come back to and taking off into the wild blue yonder (more likely grey, polluted other) for 5 or more years.

It won't be without risks, hassles and potential disasters even but hey, you only live once.

If we were doing either Stage Two or Stage Three we would want to travel as cheaply as possible.

While it would be nice to stay here:

We will probably end up staying here:

We'll have to get over the privilege we have experienced in the past with corporate travel largely picking up the costs and cut our cloth accordingly.
We have visited and loved the big cities of Europe but now its time to go to the out-of-the-way (and cheaper) places.

As long as we ensure that rental income or savings interest covers the monthly basics (mortgage, insurances, health insurance etc) then this could work.

International air travel is so affordable nowadays that it is hardly part of the equation. As long as we find cheap (or free) accommodation and spend sensibly then we should easily be able to do the one year plan and maybe the five year one.

We are experienced travellers but there are risks.

Crime/ theft/ robbery:

oops, sorry, wrong image

I meant this sort of crime
We have always been sensible travellers and for the last 30 years I have never kept a wallet in my back pocket but pick-pockets are very sophisticated. we just need to be aware and carry not too many valuables with us.

This sort of crime is more of a worry:

If we are short of cash The Old Girl might need to supplement our income like this young lady is doing 

There are ways around this happening though and this one appeals to me most:

Friday, 28 September 2012


Who's over the kim dotcom debacle?

I am sick of hearing about it.
Why the hell do we have to get 10 minutes out of every half hour news programme devoted to it?


Sure, there are a couple of legal and constitutional issues that have been uncovered but these are small and certainly not worth all the attention. They can and should be investigated and remedied out of the public domain.

At root is the fact that journalism in New Zealand, particularly television journalism is at an all time low. It has slipped into tabloid journalism  because (to misquote) Ross Dagan the head of TVNZ News and Current affairs wants to jazz up the offerings. Soon to be gone will be Close Up which, even though it has been bullied into being a kind ofBbreakfast TV/Fair Go/Target hybrid, has still been a reasonable watch which occasionally uncovers an important issue. "Not exciting enough" says this jerk.

Ross Dagan (Image: Ten Network)
"Viewers want"something fresh and quite different in early evening current affairs"

Well, what do you expect when you give our news  management to an Australian?
Have you ever seen Aussi news programmes?

Sport, jingoism, hi-jinks, fashion, people on beaches, sport, sport, drunken hooligans, mining billionaires, sport.

No doubt we'll get more cooking shows, 'reality' documentaries and ' fun' stuff as requested by (some) people surveyed. Did they actually survey the middle-aged and older people who most likely want a serious and quality investigative programme at 7PM? I doubt it.

Anyway, back to dotcom. This guy, to me, seems despicable but I have to admire his 'chutzpah'.
He and his lawyers have cleverly manipulated a disturbingly  pedestrian government and various enforcement agencies along with a greedy and gullible news media into concentrating on process detail while he and his alleged illegal activities are pushed into the background.

He has been able to build up an image of himself of at once being both a jolly victim and a people's rights champion.

Clever yes, worrying even more so.

Monday, 24 September 2012


I did the full Reotahi walk today followed by up and over Mount Aubrey.

This is easy if you are fit

Not so easy if you are fat

I've been a bit lazy recently so I'm more in the fat camp than the fit camp. As a result it was a bit of a slog going uphill but the views as usual made it worthwhile.

Easier going down this side

At the top of Aubrey, as I was a bit stuffed, I spent a bit more time than usual investigating the strange rock formations, especially the spot where one fell off last year. A 1000 tonne boulder that had previously been one of the upright 'sentinels' fell off, slid down (fortnately didn't roll) and came to rest 40m above a house.

The joker on the right inadvisedly leaning on the boulder shows the scale of the thing

Mount Aubrey, like may of the hills and mountains around the Heads has strange, sentinel like rock formations on them.

The most striking one is Mount Manaia but Aubrey has quite a few as well.
I checked out the spot where the big boulder came from and realised that it didn't just come loose from its setting but, like a rotton tooth breaking, the top actually sheared off leaving the bottom and back bits still embedded in the earth. I climbed down to the spot which was a bit scary as bits kept coming away and loose rocks tumbled down, but I found that I could pull chunks of rotten rock away from the remains of the base. Water over the years must have gotten in through fissures and weakened it.

Looking up I saw the remaining sentinels towering above me and decided to get out of there, particularly as it was starting to rain.

Sometime in the future it is a given that these and other rock formations will tumble down. I only hope it is a long way in the future because our house could be in the firing line if one were to bulldoze its way to the sea.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


The other day we went to see Moonrise Kingdom, the new Wes Anderson film.
For anyone who hasn't yet seen this delightful and whimsical creation I implore you to do so. It is special.

Although set in USA in a fictionalised New England setting the film rings bells for me.

One of the main characters, Sam is a boy scout and in his running away he employs the skills he has learnt as a scout and lives out his fantasies, carrying his air rifle like Davy Crocket and negotiating his way across an island prior to a big storm.

I wasn't a boy scout as I never liked to belong to clubs but I used to love camping in the bush and around the Wellington coastline. I had an air rifle and fantasised being a cowboy or a soldier taking out the bad guys.

Sam wore a Davy Crocket hat. I had a Davy Crocket hat.

The serendipitous thing for me was that the film was set in the American summer of 1965. Sam was 12 years old. In (New Zealand winter of) 1965 I was 12 going on 13 (as was Richard (of RBB)).

This helped in the magic for me.


One morning we will wake up to sights like this in our harbours.

USS George Washington nuclear carrier

OK, it won't happen overnight. Even the current government wouldn't be that stupid as it would engender scenes like this.

1976 protest agains nuclear warships

No, it will happen over a period of time with incremental changes being disguised by discussions of economic improvements in our relationship with USA and 'partnership' programmes that are 'beneficial' to both countries .....blah, blah, blah.

USA Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is visiting New Zealand at present at the invitation of John Key's government. Significant? Yes, very much so. We haven't had such a visit for 30 years so why now?

The recent Pacific Island's Forum saw Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turn up. Significant? Yes, very much so. The USA had kind of shelved the Pacific for many years but now that China is 'snooping around' the USA is making 'friendly' visits, just to keep in touch you know.

Well I'm all for building a better future for New Zealand and our Pacific Island partners but don't see a good one that is brokered by this guy.


Here are some more examples of objectionable clothing I didn't include in the previous Post.

These outlive fashion and represent outdated, arrogant and dangerous ideologies as much as the KKK, Nazi and gang stuff and are possibly even worse than the hoodies.

See here:

And here:

And here:

And here:

And by the way, you can buy this shit on E-bay if you are interested.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Well if this Post was about fashion then stubbies would surely be the second most most objectionable form of clothing in living memory but I have another agenda.

There certainly have been unusual things worn through the ages which fortunately disappear after a short term - one of the (few) benefits of the fashion industry.

There are other forms of clothing and bodily adornment that have less to do with fashion and more to do with power, political orientation or religion.


is about 'ownership' of women and is extremely objectionable.
(Note that I could have used an image of an actual chastity belt from the middle ages but this one is more attractive and, taking a leaf out of RBB's book, it may help ratings)

And this:

is similar in its gender/political/power origins although our super-sensitive Muslim brothers will not recognise that.


is the downside of extreme Christianity and an inculcated belief that man is a sinner and needs to be punished for basic humanity. Odious? Yes and unfortunately most religions still push this crap into the brains of innocents.

Intolerance knows many forms and has over the ages dressed itself in many uniforms.

Remember this?

And this?

And now we have this:

These uniforms are intended to: be badges of honour; intimidate others; show belonging to a band, club or belief. They are ugly in the extreme and thankfully two of them have been outlawed and almost eradicated.

I said in the beginning that this Post was not about fashion but to me, the most objectionable item of clothing, uniform, badge of honour or belief is ......................

The hoodie

This ugly piece of fashion pushed stubbies into second place!

Now I'm not a fashion conscious person (look through my previous posts and you will see what I wear) and I don't take much notice of what other people wear. The hoodie though is very much noticed by me and not only because it is so prevalent.

The hoodie is breaking the rules. It has been around now for much longer than fashion dictates. It has ceased to be an item of fashionable clothing and is becoming a badge, and identification of a way of life.

It pisses me off!

Nothing raises my ire more than seeing a bunch of teenagers slouching around in their hoodies.

Sure, I know they would still be slouching around without their hoodies on but to me, somehow, the hoodie encapsulates everything that is wrong with modern society, disaffected youth, lazy bastards, people who have no respect for culture, society, laws and decency. Lack of ethics in short.

Phew! Got that off my chest. I know that not only teenagers wear hoodies and I am also getting pissed off at seeing older people wearing them and parents buying the bloody things for their children.

What's next? Hoodies for pets?

Sunday, 16 September 2012


After writing a post about womens handbags I asked cajoled whinged whined and eventually The Old Girl allowed me to make an inventory of the contents of her 'handbag'.

"C'mon, just a peek"

I emptied it out and began to lay the items out on the desk dining table floor and this is what I discovered:

1. Wallet (weiging about 2 kilos)
2. Tissues
3. Wet wipes
3. Moisturiser
4. Another moisturiser
5. Knife
6. Knife - yes really, a Swiss army knife
7. Gun
8. Torch that looked like a gun
9. Spanner!
10. Box of nails, screws and tacks
11. Notebook
12. Diary
13. Various medicines
14. Vanity set
15. Nail file
16. Pair of scissors
17. Cellphone
18. Blackberry
19. Spectacles
20. Sunglasses
21. Lipstick
22. Another lipstick.
23. Make up kit
24. Keys
25. Pens
26. Chewing gum
27. Something unidentifiable
28. Old theatre tickets
29. New theatre tickets
30. etc. A lot of stuff I couldn't be bothered sorting.

I offered to put everything back in the bag but The Old Girl said no as she had a system.

A system?

This is more of a system

Saturday, 15 September 2012


.... wunderbar.

Richard and Robert, here is a film you may like to see.
Set in Ukraine in 1941 it is about 3 children caught up in the violence of the time and the anti-Jewish intolerance from the Germans, Russians and fellow Ukrainians.

Two of the children are prodigies (wunderkinders) and the third, the narrator wants to play music like the others.

The story is sad, the outcome inevitable but this is filmed ad acted superbly. The musicianship is virtuoso.


Friday, 14 September 2012


What a bloody misnomer.

Women are never without a 'handbag' but from what I see they look more like overnight bags

To be honest I have gone 'tramping' in the bush with provisions for a week with smaller packs than these. Maybe women should wear packs instead.

Which reminds me of Ivor Cutler's poem on Velvet Donkey which says "If your breasts are too big, you will fall over .... unless you wear a rucksack"

I picked up The Old Girl's handbag the other day and almost gave myself a hernia.
"What the hell's in this?" I yelled demanded asked.
"Stuff" she said giving me the look that told me not to pursue the issue.

I did notice that she has bought a new handbag that has a strap so she can wear it like a mail-bag.

Anyway, what I want to say is that today, when getting a coffee in a cafe, a woman came out of the toilets with  her oversized handbag and plonked it on the table next to me.
I know that this bag had just been on the floor in the toilets and imagined all the bacteria, urine and fecal matter that was being transferred to the table and hers and the next diners food.

The old superstition of it being bad luck to put shoes on a table and the Maori taboo on sitting on tables are grounded in the knowledge that shit + food = ill-health.

Saturday, 8 September 2012


OK, I don't believe in a (or any) deity but if there was one (or several) the bastard(s) needs to get his/her/their/its act together.

I just finished reading The Ice Man - the confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer an amazingly poorly written biography of Richard Kuklinski. Now this guy was an arsehole, a psychopathic killer with no saving graces. He murdered his way through life and, while he didn't die comfortably in his own bed he lived to the age of 71 and died of natural causes* in prison.

The other night I watched Police Ten 7, a local reality cop show and was amazed at the bastards, low-lifes, chancers, users and dregs of society that surround us. They contribute nothing except damage, harm, fear and loathing to their family, friends and neighbours. The law finds it very hard to control and educate them or censure or mitigate their behaviour.

There are so many instances of anti-social people maiming and hurting those around them who blithely go on in their lives not caring or giving a fuck. Many if not most are in rude good health and live to good ripe ages having stole, bludgeoned, raped, murdered or other their way through life.

Our friend is one of the good people. A caring, honest, generous contributor to society and she has just been dealt the joker. The Big C with a very shortened future.

I just hope no 'God Botherer' comes knocking on my door soon.



* The Ice Man may have been murdered in prison by either the Mafia or the Feds. Either way good riddance.


I'm sure that we have all deleted posts on our blog. Sometimes this is a good thing. At other times it is a very good thing (thanks Second Fiddle for your consideration). Often the deletions are done after a rush of blood to the head or a rising of bile spurs one on to vent the spleen (enough cliches already - ed). In afterthought, due to considerations of propriety, fairness, undue salaciousness or fear of libel action TSB Richard bloggers delete the offending post.

The other night The Old Girl rang from down South a little earlier than I was expecting. She was crying and I found it difficult to understand her. Fear gripped my heart and I quickly equated how long it would take me to get to the airport and jump on a plane. Eventually I got the story. She had just been in contact with a very good friend of ours who has just been diagnosed with a very invasive version of the big C. This is a lovely and very generous person who has always seemed to be fit and healthy. How could this be?
I picked The Old Girl up from the airport early the next day and we went to see our friend who is amazingly stoic, having more concern for the effect of her illness on her partner and friends rather than herself. She is an inspiration.

I wrote a post about her and and my feelings about her illness. It was a good post but on reviewing it I thought that it is not my right to invade her privacy in this way and I deleted it before publishing.

'S' we love you and are really hoping that treatment will hold the monster at bay.


The Music Curmudgeon stepped in with a new post that is really on behalf of all the curmudgeons of THE CURMUDGEONS INC.ⓒ as the post could e...