Tuesday, 31 January 2017


Tonight, after a lovely late-Summer day I sat on the deck enjoying a glass or two of wine and listening to some great music.

Now this isn't an unusual occurrence for me but, in recent weeks I haven't felt like drinking so, as I get back to health this was special. It was after 8pm and the sun had set.
Looking West to the hills the sky above was glowing with peach/apricot colours which gradually merged into varying blue tints ranging from pale to deeper blues.

I'm glad that the cellphone image doesn't capture how beautiful the sight was as it is much better to experience it in real time.

The otherwise clear sky was broken by unmoving grey cloud to the North-West that had the effect of framing the glowing sky to the West.

A crescent moon was showing to the West (in the poor image of the photograph it is to the left of the cabbage tree) and Venus was proudly displaying above. Magic.

The vegetation to the left of the deck (both ours and the neighbour's across the fence) were in silhouette. The water in the bay right out to the greater harbour was as still as a millpond. It was full tide and there wasn't a breath of wind. The boats at moorage were as still as sentinels.

The only sounds to be heard were cicadas and other night creatures. The holiday makers had all left for home. As the glowing Western light diminished other white house lights could be seen twinkling around the bay and in the distance the orange lights of the Whangarei suburb of Onerahi became evident.

As the Western light further dimmed the crescent moon strengthened and Venus began to shine out like a spotlight. The incandescent blue colour of the sea began to blend with the already dark hills beyond allowing the twinkling lights of the settlements around the harbour and surrounding bays to be seen.

As night closed in, the clear skies, now dark, allowed the myriad of stars to reveal themselves.

It made me glad to be alive.

This post brought to you by:

Deutz Rose Sparkling



See link below:

Saturday, 28 January 2017


Well Summer has certainly hit us up north. So much in fact that people are complaining about there having been no rain recently and that we are headed for a drought. We've been having hot, sunny and windless days that making living by the sea wonderful.

I bought The Old Girl a kayak the other day and she was thrilled with having taken it out for a spin this morning.
Afterwards she went in for a swim. Our friends Rod and Denise were already in the water. They like Lynn are good swimmers and swim far out and then up and down the bay.

My swimming style is described by The Old Girl  as 'wallowing' as I'm not a good swimmer and just float about a bit with the odd (and I do mean odd) stroke just to show anyone on the beach that I'm still alive.
 Sometimes I take a boogie board with me which does look a bit odd as this isn't a surf beach and the water is normally quite flat and calm.

Not like this

I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to getting in the water and I find that launching myself out on the board sort of delays the shock of a warm body meeting cooler water.

As I often don't stay in the water as long as The Old Girl and others I normally stand around waiting for them to finish.

Looking cool.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017


There's a bit of debate going on about rich Americans bolting down to Godzone to escape the Trump presidency and or the ensuing apocalypse.

On the one hand you can see why some New Zillinders are a bit miffed at this particularly when billionaires like Peter Thiel are able to bypass the usual regulations and are granted citizenship at a time in history when millions of displaced people in the Middle East and Europe are seeking the same but are denied such luxury.

On the other hand we, as a country at the far-flung edge of the world, need wealth, investment, entrepreneurial ideas and the means of creating wealth (which leads to employment, infrastructure and social services).

I can see both sides but must park my socialist leanings here and ask what's best for the country and the average New Zillander. My belief is that isolationism isn't in our interest given that we have an export driven economy and that we need to encourage people to come here with drive, energy, ideas, connections and especially money. If all they bring is money then well and good. At least they will have to spend some of it.

 I would have thought a bit differently 30 or more years ago when we were a more egalitarian society but today, I don't care if the 'toff' dining in fancy Auckland restaurants, buying up prime New Zealand real estate or holidaying in fancy-schmancy resorts is a rich American or one of those thieving robber-baron so-called true blue Kiwi.

Come on down I say.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017


'Alternative facts' isn't exactly a new concept as, being a marketer I've used these all my working life when writing business plans, creating marketing and advertising campaigns and writing the blurb for the back labels on wine bottles. And of course writing posts for this blog.

The concept though reached a high point yesterday when Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump's 'Counsellor to the President'  used the term 'Alternative Fact' to explain away the blatant and outrageous lies that Trump's media spokesman had just told on his first outing.

The concern here is manifold.

Trump's presidential campaign was littered with lies, untruths, mis-directions and of course 'alternative facts'. The big bag of hot air got away with saying whatever he wanted believing that there was no accountability for it. Now that he is president it looks like this isn't going to change with he and his (under-talented) entourage feeling that they can say whatever they want, whenever they want.

The last few years has seen the rise of social media platforms that have created second tier news media. At first these were exactly that - second tier but, with the decline of mainstream print and TV media and the increased usage of electronic devices for accessing news and information, the second-tier channels are getting more attention than they deserve.

This became very evident last year with the reporting of world events, the Brexit vote and of course the USA presidential race.

The big problem with this is that a lot of the second-tier media have no respect for the truth, accurate reporting and in-depth investigation and all too often just make up things to suit their particular bias.
With the White House and all its supposed authority and power giving credence to the concept of 'Alternative Fact' then look-out, we're headed for a shitstorm.


To ease you into the new truths here are some alternative facts to get you going:

  • Double Bass players are the hottest performers in bands and attract the most groupies and followers.
  • Second Fiddles's blog is a must-read every day and a guide for correct spelling and grammar.
  • Evolution theory has successfully been proved wrong by the Catholic Church.
  • Immaculate conception is real
  • Teachers do not get enough holidays each year.
  • There is real quality to be had in $7 and less bottles of wine in supermarkets.
  • Home brew beer is good for you.

Saturday, 21 January 2017


I've been reading some Cormac McCarthy books over the New Year period.
McCarthy wrote No Country For Old Men from which the Cohen brothers made the excellent film of the same name.

He also wrote The Road which was made into a film that I haven't seen and which, given the quality of McCormack's writing I might do so. Hopefully The road will keep as true to the book as the film version of No Country For Old Men did.

I recently re-watched No Country For Old Men on You Tube and decided to read the book straight afterwards. It was impressive.
Driven by this I then downloaded (on Overdrive) The Border Trilogy and Blood Meridian.

Wow! The writing is as good as in No Country For Old Men but the graphic violence in Blood Meridian is really difficult to take in.
McCormack writes in a free-flow style which exactly matches the timelessness of the settings (Mexico and USA border states) which range from the mid 1800s through to mid 1900s.

I preferred the 3 books in The Border Trilogy as there was less violence involved and more characterisation. The books featured 'cowboys' or horsemen who lived day to day finding work on ranges whether cows were involved or not. There is a lot of discussion and explanation of horses north and south of the border hence the title of this post 'PINTO'

Not this PINTO which was a disastrous American car that exploded in rear end collisions as the petrol tank was unsafe

Not these which can have similar explosive results as the Pinto car

And certainly not this guy!
Not this guy and he's not my friend

Not this which was the 1980's 'real juice' that purported to be NZ but was imported overseas concentrate

This is he one I was looking for. The PINTO horse so named because of its patches of brown or black colour on a background of white.

So where are we going with this post?

We've had some solid deck furniture now for 12 or more years. It is made from macrocarpa and I bought it second hand off Trade Me. Once upon a time it had a rich golden colour and we had it on the covered deck of our Point Chevalier house. I used to dress the wood twice a year with the oil that the previous owner gave to me.
Since we moved to McLeod Bay the furniture has been on the uncovered deck and exposed to more sun, wind and sea influences. The wood has dried out. I still used to dress it but ran out of the 'good oil' and then went overseas. As a consequence the good old macrocarpa set has become a bit faded.

Last week I decided to do something about it and went to Mitre 10 to get some furniture oil. I bought a big tin thinking that I'd spread a little on now and keep topping up twice a year. Boy was I surprised. The wood just sucked up the oil as it was so thirsty. I barely made it to the end of covering the table, two seats and two benches before I ran out.

This is the oil I used.

Note the care I took in mixing and applying.

Here's a pic of how the furniture looked before I oiled it. It was quite grey looking.

Now here's how it looks after my oil application.

Look I know that you're impressed at my home handyman skills but I must here bust that bubble.

In liberally applying oil to the furniture I also managed to liberally apply it to myself. This was on Thursday (two days ago) and I still have big brown splotches on me legs and arms that make me look like this.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


See here:

Ok. That was a bit silly but I'm surrounded by Harolds up here (and in the Auckland apartment).

The 'Harold' in question is New Zealand artist (and famous eye surgeon) Harold Coop.

Harold Coop with one of his paintings in Auckland Hospital

The Old Girl loves his paintings and has about 15 of them. She loves them so much in fact that she took three of her best favourites with her to Canada and UK as a reminder of New Zealand.
Coop has been painting for five decades now and has painted in watercolour, acrylic and oil amongst other media with different themes. The Old Girl's favourites are the Northland scenes and with pohutakawa especially.

I bought her some new ones off Trade Me for her birthday which I collected today.

The largest is a Northland scene (with pohutakawa) and is slightly impressionistic. It was painted in 1973 so is one of his earliest.

I'll wait until she comes up this weekend to hang it above the fireplace

The other is a triptych of a volcanic scene. These are dramatic and very imposing.

Again, I'll wait until she arrives before hanging them - probably in the snooker room

The paintings are all good in their own right but my personal favourite is this one of a bush scene in West Coast NZ. which is in our bedroom. The sunlight depicted as gold streaks coming down through native bush is magical.

Monday, 16 January 2017


Yes. all good things must pass.

I took 3 weeks off for Christmas and New Year (11 actual holiday days) and just lazed about.

As I've been under the weather we didn't do much other than sit around, read, go for swims etc. but now, with Monday being the first day back at work I've had to spend time in the study on the computer.

Sunday, 15 January 2017


The total energy of a system can be subdivided and classified in various ways. For example, classical mechanics distinguishes between kinetic energy, which is determined by an object's movement through space, and potential energy, which is a function of the position of an object within a field.

 - with thanks to Wikipedia although I did study Physics and Mechanics at university.

Below are links to two performances by Cream separated by 37 years.

Cream was hailed as a 'Super' group possibly being the first to be named such and certainly the best. The descriptive 'super' got very overused in later years when referring to bands, models and cars.




It is interesting watching these two clips (if you have time it's worth it) because it shows the transformation  of Cream from high energy, frenetic and compelling performances in the '60s to the classy, refined and almost subdued energy of the 2000s. Kinetic to Potential.

I enjoyed the interviews in the 1968 video with Jack Bruce explaining how Bach gave him inspiration as a bass player referring to Bach as 'The Governor of all time" Nice that.

I loved Cream music and remember listening to it on a small and tinny transistor radio when I was in the 4th and 5th form at secondary school (1967 and 1968). The experience was bettered later when I had a stereo system and bought the LPs which I still have somewhere. It would have been great to have been at the 1968 farewell concert and also to have gone to the 2005 one but time and space were against me.

Thursday, 12 January 2017



Water sports is topical at the moment with those possibly fake reports about Trump and golden showers. Whether true or not he'll certainly be remembered for them.

I'm starting to come right at long last after my Shingles and PHN problems and am out and about again. I've been swimming yesterday and today, taking advantage of the good weather that has finally arrived.

Of course my idea of swimming is at variance with The Old Girl's who calls my style 'wallowing'. Bloody cheek. I like to just lie in the water half in and half out like a crocodile watching things above and below the surface at the same time.


Tracey in her latest (and long overdue) post talks about her travels to the Evil Empire soon to be known as Trumpland. She didn't encounter any celebrities there other than the fake kind (do they have any other?) and it wasn't until she was back home in Petoneland that she met up with none other than Richard (of Richard's Bass Bag).

She says in her post that he wasn't drinking chardonnay at the time.

Lucky her!

If he had been downing a few this is what happens.

I thnk that she had a lucky escape.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


I've been thinking of ways to supplement my income this year.
Unfortunately most of the good ways are already taken and it's pretty competitive out there.

I decided to 'think outside the box so trawled through my memory for billion dollar making schemes that I've shelved in the past like the one suit suits all idea.
See below:


1. Blunted razor blades.

I've been saving up used razor blades for a while and it's time that I came up with an idea for using them ("I told you to get rid of those things Matey" said the Old Girl again).
So here's the idea. Deliberately blunted razor blades for those people who like the slightly unshaved look - designer stubble in other words.

These to be marketed as such not as 'used' blades. This way I can charge a premium, maybe 60% more than new ones, for the input into blunting them.

Women could use these as well.

2. Chocolate free chocolate almonds.

Chocolate covered almonds are pretty nice but there are people out there who don't like or cannot eat chocolate. My idea is to turn these:

Into these:

I'll suck all the chocolate off and then repackage them. The trick is in telling people that they aren't just ordinary almonds but ones that have been de-chocolated which of course incurs extra cost thus justifying the 60% extra price.

3. Used toilet rolls

For years my sister has been making Christmas crackers from the left over tubes of toilet rolls so that use is covered. There are lots of other uses however and here is one of them.


I've noticed that parents spend a fortune on LEGO for their kids. These are just little bits of plastic that can be put together to make bigger things. as such they are dangerous.

My idea is to package up toilet roll tubes for parents to test their kids creativity.

4. Used engine oil.

Have you changed the oil in your car and wondered what to do with the old oil?
Yes, I know that if you live in Moera you just tip it down the drain but in other, more environmentally conscious areas of Godzone, we care.

At first I wondered if it could be consumed in some way but some experimentation didn't go well even though someone somewhere seems to be doing all right at it.

I decided that instead of paying good money for fancypants wood oils the used engine oil would be good for decks and ouside furniture. I haven't done the indoor furniture yet. I'm waiting for The Old Girl to go back to Auckland before I do that.

5. Toenail clippings

Have you ever had that annoying bit of food stuck in your teeth or that bit of tartar build-up at the back of the teeth that a straight toothpick can't get at?

The answer is in toenail clippings. The sharpness of them combined with the useful curve is perfect for dislodging and scraping.
Properly packaged in little zip-lock bags these could be sold via Trade Me.

6. Left over soap bits.

While we are on a tooth theme here's an idea to use up those soap scraps in the bathroom.
They can be collected and melted down into a kind of paste. It is important to add some alcohol to stop the paste setting hard again.
The paste can then be used as toothpaste.

Note: For aesthetic and hygiene reasons it is advised to remove these little bits of pubic hair first.

I think that I'm on to a winner here.
If you have any other bright ideas please send them to me.


Monday, 9 January 2017


I hope that we get better telephone and internet reception in 2017.

The service in 2016 has been crap.

I complained almost a year ago about the problems I had with Spark when I arrived back from the UK.


I eventually got things fixed but not really satisfactorily given the price we pay for phone and broadband.

I initially had my cellphone with Vodafone but this proved hopeless as I couldn't get decent reception here up North so I switched to Spark even though I'm not happy with their service. With Spark I get slightly better cellphone coverage but this still necessitates going out on to the front deck to have a conversation. It also means having to talk loudly and to repeat myself in order to get my messages through which is not good when trying to conduct  personal and private business while everyone down the road can hear.

Now I fully understand that the telecommunications companies have problems when it comes to providing full service to outlying regions but why do they still charge the top rate with no discount given for outages and poor reception. Imagine if supermarkets and large format retailers sold products through regional stores at the same price as in the cities but of much inferior quality. There would be an uproar but the telecommunications companies get away with it all the time. We pay about $120 a month for just the broadband and land-line and another $50 for cellphone.

Still, I suppose that when I'm up here the content of the phone calls isn't great wIth lots of unsolicited calls from various call centres.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


I mentioned 'A Blast from the Past' in yesterday's post. Well here's another.

I googled 'Banana Boat Song' as I was looking for the lyrics today and, blow me down, I found this:


I wrote this years ago whilst at Victoria University and, to fill in boring times in the law library would write letters to the editor and other things and send to Salient, the Victoria University student's magazine.

It seems that some of the content from Salient has been digitalised and stored so that it can be found on-line.

I wonder if Richard's mad and anarchic letters are to be found. I'll do a search.

Friday, 6 January 2017


I was tidying up the cupboards today and found this 'blast from the past'

It's a Lion Breweries monthly magazine that was produced in the early 1980s. This one is December 1981.

On page 26 there is this photograph.

I had just arrived in Auckland then and took a job as assistant manager at Howick Village Cellars. The two women in the photograph were Lion Breweries employees who were dong an in-store tasting of the re-released Rheineck beer. They were a couple of pissheads if I remember rightly. The Lion photographer appeared, snapped the photo and didn't ask for my name which I'm happy about as the beer was crap. I had a glass in my hand just to be polite. They describe me as a young beer connoisseur (they got the 'con' right) which should please Robert.

When I drank beer back in those days it was more likely to be the excellent Leopard Deluxe lager or Red Band Export lager if it was a New Zealand beer (Carlsberg, Heineken or Tuborg if an imported one). I didn't drink muck like Rheineck, Brew 22, Bass, Lion Red, DB Bitter or all of the other soapy crap that both breweries produced (except of course the two lagers I mentioned above).


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...