Saturday, 30 April 2016


"Get the trumpet out Richard. We'll never become property tycoons through you playing that bloody  double bass"

Thursday, 28 April 2016





I'm going to be looking for Mars tonight through my telescope.
Apaprently the conditions at present are perfect for seeing Mars as close as you are ever likely to see it.


I bought a really good telescope when in Toronto and it has just arrived back in NZ with the Old Girl's furniture.
Living on the 16th floor apartment of a condominium meant that a telescope was esential.



In Toronto there was a really good diner just arround the corner.

I'm looking forward to setting the telescope up on the deck at midnight. Hope the weather stays good.


"OK, OK, enough already. I'll make you a bloody coffee"

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


Yesterday I went to the 2pm Remembrance Service at the local club.
This is a neat little members club servicing the local community here.
Richard (of RBB) should note that it allows women into the club and even lets them be members so he doesn't have to go on a crusade should he ever come up here to live.

The club has stunning outlooks - back up to the looming Mount Manaia and out over the bay. (neither of these photographs from the club's website do the view justice - the reality is better.

View over carpark to Mt. Manaia

View from deck over McLeod Bay

"The Service of remembrance 101 Years On" was pretty well executed for a small community club.
The whole thing was conducted in about 40 minutes and featured hymns, prayers, reflections, laying of wreaths, ANZAC dedication, The Last Post, The Reveille, NZ National anthem etc. all to a packed venue.

We even had a piper who played during the laying of the wreaths.

It made me feel proud to be a New Zealander and part of this community.

At the end the club management put a 40oz bottle of Captain Morgan rum on the bar for whoever wanted to have a traditional shot.
I had one as I remember doing this with my dad from an early age at Wellington's railway station (in coffee) back in a non PC age.


Sunday, 24 April 2016


Well it's ANZAC Day tomorrow and for one of the very few times in the last half a century I won't be going to the Dawn Parade.

I'm not in Auckland this weekend and up here where I live there isn't a dawn ceremony.

Richard (of RBB) said that he's playing bugle (well trumpet really) at three events tomorrow playing the Last Post and Reveille. It's nice that he does this.

In Auckland my sister will be at the Dawn Parade as part of a Scottish Pipe Band. She's a drummer.
Good on her. I'm sorry that I'll miss seeing her playing.

It's a great thing in this country that people remember those who died in these appalling conflicts and people like Richard and my sister Kathy help make the events memorable.

The local club up here will have some kind of service in the mid-afternoon which I'll go to. I like to remember my father and my great-uncles when I attend these. My great-uncles were killed in the First World War - one at Gallipoli and the other in France. My father served in the Second World War and was wounded in Italy.

I've written posts about them.

See below:



Monday, 18 April 2016


Answer: A DRONGO.

And so it starts.

As soon as these drones started to be produced and sold it was inevitable that they'd get into the hands of idiots. There have been lots of near misses with commercial planes around the world the latest serious one in London a couple of days ago.

"An illegally operated drone came within metres of colliding with a passenger jet landing at Heathrow.
The close shave, which investigators placed in the most serious risk category, was the latest in a spate of near misses involving the popular remote controlled flying devices.
The Airbus A319 was flying at 500ft on its final approach to the airport on September 30 when the pilot spotted the drone, which he estimated passed just six metres above and 23 metres to the left of the plane.
He told the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), which investigates near misses, that it was not possible to take evasive action.
Officials said the drone was operated against Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations, as permission had not been granted for it to fly above 400ft within the Heathrow CTR control zone."
  Air travel is dangerous enough  exacerbated by the business of major airports, potential for terrorism and the reduction in maintenance driven by the reduction in air travel prices.

I guess, like local transport issues nothing will be done (like outlawing the devices) until there is a major catastrophe at which time everyone will say "Shit, we should have done something"

No wonder Richard (of RBB doesn't fly.

Saturday, 16 April 2016


On Thursday The Old Girl received a call from Crown Removals that our furniture had arrived from the UK and could be delivered today (Saturday).
That was good, albeit short notice given that it was sent from UK mid January so she began to finalise the delivery arrangements.
Out of 60 odd packages of varying sizes three were to come up north to our house and the rest to go to the city apartment.

The Old Girl's work is paying for the shipment (as they did from Canada to UK) and we are to pay for the variation - the three items to go up north. These items are a bed settee, a telescope and a small box containing a fold-up 'wardrobe').
All good but Crown told the Old Girl that the extra to deliver up north would cost $638.
That's right - $638 for 3 items. Admittedly the bed settee is a 3 seater and fairly large but really!

I said that I'd check out getting a hire van and travel down to Auckland to collect 3 said items.
Given the short notice this was a bit difficult as up here cargo vans need to be booked in well in advance and are in great demand on weekends.
The listed cost was minimum $120 per day before insurance and all of those hidden extras that always seem to be added to the bill on hire contracts. To make it worse, as I needed to leave Whangarei at 6.30 to get to Auckland at 9AM at the latest as the moving company promised said indicated that they would be at the apartment between 8 and 8.30, I would have had to pick up the van on Friday afternoon before 5PM which of course they would consider an extra day's rental. All this IF a van were to be available.

I don't have a trailer on my brave little car which I've used to transport a lot of things - a fridge, garden rubbish, wine etc - but a 3 seater settee would be too much and wouldn't fit.

I contacted good friend Rod who lives nearby. He's retired and needs money so we agreed that he would drive down to Auckland with me in his car and trailer and we'd pick up the items. Cost: $100 plus expenses. Expenses were the toll road fee each way ($4.60) and fuel (I filled up his car to a cost of $70). I also bought him lunch.

Everything went smoothly except, of course, Crown were late in arriving. The 'between 8am and 8.30 AM' turned out to be 10AM!
This caused a lot of stress as our apartment is in a busy and narrow street in central Auckland where parking is definitely at a premium. Fortunately The Old Girl had alerted our building manager of our plans and he arranged with the construction company who are knocking down a building next door and building another (yes, it's Auckland after all) for us to use the blocked off parking area that they have reserved. It was touch and go during the waiting period. The construction foreman was on the street waiting for big trucks with building materials to arrive. We were waiting for the Crown removals guys. The construction foreman helped us to move the traffic cones so we coud park the car and trailer and to extend the area somewhat to allow the Crown van to park if and when it arrived. It was very stressful and if I was Richard (of RBB) I'd have been alternately puffing on a cigarette and an asthma inhaler.
Luckily the construction vehicles were also late (this is Auckland remember) and, when the Crown truck eventually arrived we had time to unpack the truck and load our 3 items on to to trailer and get away.

The trip back to the 'Heads' was smooth and easy and, as I've said before, the feeling when cresting the Brynderwyn Hills and seeing Bream Head, the Hen and chicken Islands and the bay is wonderful. Stress leaves your body immediately (for Rod, stress left his body the moment we got over the harbour bridge).

Friday, 15 April 2016


My editor got all excited the other day about the new report for the world's leading country which highlighted the world's most beautiful toilets, the most beautiful women and the most handsome men.
She re-read my June 2010 Nuova Lazio travel guide report and asked requested ordered me to go back to Nuova Lazio to update the report.

See :


It's been nealy six years since my beloved and I made the trip there to confirm flattering reports made by someone named Richard (of RBB). The truth was somewhat of a shock which many visits to counsellors, therapists and EST sessions have almost remedied.

My beloved said to me:

"Not on your life Matey. I'd rather go up the bloody Amazon on a rubber tyre than do that trip again"

I took that as a no so I packed my bag and went alone making sure that I'd only take something that I wouldn't miss when Nuova Lazio Airlines lost my bag, and, if they didn't lose it then something I could easily carry whilst running.

Being an experienced traveller was of no assistance to my first trip to Nuova Lazio but this time I was prepared for the worst. I found my late father's war memorabilia and dug out his old tropical outfit which included mosquito nets, mercaptran tablets, elephant gun, reinforced underpants and haemorrhoid cream. I was ready.

The flight, arrival and transfer were not much better than the first time except that I avoided the offer of 'public' transport or indeed any form of transport (my memory of Rueben was still unsettling) and hiked my way over the gorse covered hills to the hidden valley beyond.

Time seemed to go backwards.

The editor said to look out for the Beautiful Toilets that may exist so, as I needed to go after the long trek that was my first port of call.

The first (and only) one I found was to be had in the centre of the (in)famous Nuova Lazio mall.

Not wanting to be too scathing I looked for favourable descriptions for my update.

"Fresh, open air ambiance"
"Automatic cleaning" - (it rains a lot in Nuova Lazio)
"Handicap friendly" (although the guy with the crutches seemed to be having some difficulty).

Doing my business quickly and getting away I thought to myself that the lack of walls and a roof did in fact make me feel safer than being inside in this town.

I proceeded to the other items on the check list that the editor gave me.

 Beautiful Women

I hadn't seen any in the 'beautiful toilets' if indeed any of the users were actually women so I decided to wander around the mall.
I noticed that the cleaner cum security person who had been on duty here on my first visit was no longer working. As a consequence the mall seemed tidier and a lot safer. "Thank that mythical place that Christians believe in for small mercies" I thought.

After looking for and at some members of the fairer sex and receiving some worrying 'come-ons'
I discovered these two.

To be honest they were the best examples and time was getting on so I photographed and logged the image.

Due to my earlier experience I'd been careful to make my plans not to stay over in Nuova Lazio or dine there so knew I had to hike out pretty soon to catch my exit flight.

I still had to find an example of the Handsome Man that the main report in the Guide had highlighted.
I had just about given up when fortunately I was struck on the back of the head and fell to the ground.

"giz us ya wallet" said a crazed and drunken neanderthal.

As I fumbled to toss some travellers cheques towards him I took the opportunity to take a snapshot of him with my phone while he wasn't looking too closely. His eyes were glazed over so I guess that's why he didn't realise I had a cell-phone but I stuck it down the front of my trosers just in case.

"This'll have to do" I thought and took off over the hills and away, never to return.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


I'm creating a household budget to see where our money is going to.

It sounds silly I know but for decades I've been creating and controlling budgets for the companies I've worked for involving income of hundreds of millions and expenditure of tens of millions.
When it comes to our own finances I'm like the classic tradesman who does great work on other people's homes but his own is falling down.

In the past it was just a simple case of 'whatever' as the income was guaranteed and more than enough. All expenditure was covered with extra to spare.
More recently the income hasn't been guaranteed and, being a lot less than what I've been accustomed to, doesn't automatically cover the outgoings. How unfair is that?

"Annual income twenty pounds and annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and sixpence - result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds and annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and sixpence - result misery"

Hence the household budget.

I've been reviewing the obvious big ticket items like mortgage, rates and wine with no great surprises but when I got to adding up the insurances I fell over.

I fell over from the shock of the total monthly outgoings although it would have been (financially) better if I'd keeled over from a heart attack or, for The Old Girl, if I'd actually karked it.

Our monthly outgoings for household insurance, contents insurance, car insurance, health insurance, life insurance and the old girl's income protection insurance is ..... wait for it .... $1200.

I'll need to get a second job just to cover this! And that will give me a heart attack.

Sunday, 10 April 2016


I bought the Old Girl a present the other day and gave it to her this weekend.

A tool-belt.

Now don't laugh. She liked it.

In our house the Old Girl does the DIY. It's not because I'm unwilling, it's just that I'm not allowed.

"You're just too slap-dash matey" she says while taking the hammer, saw, screwdriver or drill off me.

The high spec. electric drill we have is hers. I'm not allowed to touch it so I bought another, lesser spec'd one for me. This one invariably is out of battery and the bits and bobs are forever going missing so I have to sneak a use of hers when she's not around.

I equipped the tool-belt with the tools that she will find useful in the apartment - a hammer, some screwdrivers, a set of Allen keys and pliers.

She's a happy chappy.

I think I'll buy her a helmet for Christmas.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


I visited the Auckland museum yesterday to see the Air New Zealand 75 years exhibition.

This was pretty interesting and worth a visit if it comes to your home town soon.

I did feel though that there was a bit too much emphasis on the air hostesses (now known as aircrew) uniforms but I suppose this is what attracts the women to the show kind of like wearable Art.

There could have been a bit more on Erebus and a lot more technical stuff on the aircraft over the years but that's just me quibbling.

I really did like the virtual reality set up though. This was in a futuristic mock up of a cabin where passengers had VR goggles for viewing announcements and features. Smart.

With advancements in the technology of glass and plastics it would be great to have airline cabins made of see through (perhaps one-way out) skin so that passengers could get a great view of their travel. It could be dearkened for sleep time and when the sun was too bright. I'd be well up for that.

Monday, 4 April 2016


No, not this guy, he's already gone.


This guy known on-screen as 'Bubbles' was my old codger image on the HOME page.

I removed him today because he's been charged with wife-beating. Not convicted - charged but even so I don't want him on my blog anymore.

'Wife beating' - violence toward women and children is abhorrent and I hate it (I also hate violence towards me but as that's usually as a result of sticking up for good friend Tony it is unlikely to happen again as long as he stays in Auckland).

I think that men who beat their wives, girlfriends, partners, mothers, grandmothers and children are cowards. They compensate for feelings of inadequacy by wanting to hurt and domineer someone weaker than them. They are scum.

The Old Girl was married before she and I hooked up 28 years ago. Her husband was violent. At one stage she said he threw a chest of drawers at her! She left him (eventually) and has no respect for him at all. She sees him as a loser. So do I - he lost her the fool.

Saturday, 2 April 2016


The Old Girl carefully checks the sugar content printed on cereal boxes nowadays.
I don't, but know that I should as sugar is the new bad guy in food.
It's hard to get away from the bloody stuff and in New Zealand it is quietly getting worse.

We're not as bad off as in other countries like USA where the sugar lobby has government by the balls and seem to add sugar to everything.

Ever since the anti-fat lobby of a couple of decades ago were making in-roads into people's eating patterns the manufacturers cynically 'reduced' fats and claimed so in the packaging but in order to make their shit poison product palatable they simply added sugar.

Now that sugar has been outed the same cynical crooks bastards marketers are using 'healthy' sugar substitutes like aspartame, Argave syrup, sucralose and a whole lot of other dangerous things.
The problem with these is that it's hard to identify them in the list of ingredients on the packaging.

In Canada and USA and UK where we have recently been living it was noticeable to us that so many things tasted sweeter than we were used to. Milk, cheese, bread, bacon and other staple foods had sugar in one form or other added to make them more 'palatable'.

I had to laugh last night when we called in to a local pub to buy fish and chips to take away (the actual fish and chip shop across the road had just closed). The food was great but bloody expensive as takeaways. There was a long table set up in the dining area where a birthday party was underway. The birthday boy must have been a hunter as the cake that they put on the table was made in the form of a wild pig.



I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...