Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Silly twit!

Sometimes I surprise myself with my mechanical knowledge. Sometimes it costs me money and at others, it just makes me laugh.
After a short day at work yesterday, I arrived at home to a panting, desperate and wound-up dog. Perdy has had my attention for most of the holidays and now that I am back at work--- well--- it’s like letting her wind up her doggie-springs and then she has to let loose.
Off we went down to her favourite bay--- the Onehunga lagoon, by the motorway. She squeals and implores me to drive faster and if part of me is attainable through the gap between the front seats, she will even attempt to nip me, just to say who is in charge.
By the time I pull into the carpark she is well on her way. She stretches at the lead, making it difficult to release her, then she’s off, tail flying horizontally behind her. She stops suddenly to see if I have got myself organized. It’s always the same. She expects me to get the thrower and have the ball in the air, arching its way towards the water (if the tide is in).
For the next ten minutes we play the crazy throw chase and return game; sometimes she gets mislead in other directions and then loses the ball, but generally she is pretty good.
The next stage for her is when one of her many ‘friends’ appears. In this case it was her mate, Patch, a Boxer, come God-knows what. They really like one another. I am sure that anyone watching who isn’t familiar with the two dogs would think that all hell had broken loose. Patch up-ends Perdy and roughs her up. She never hurts Perdy, but for the next twenty minutes, as we make our way around the park, Perdy gets Patch back. She nips Patche’s hind legs, attaches herself to Patche’s ears and generally attacks from underneath. I have rarely seen either of them cause any pain. They just love one another’s company.
Of course the water is an attraction. They get so hot, that they really need to jump in and cool down. I throw the ball and off they go. It does get annoying when they get side-tracked by someone else throwing a ball, forgetting their own. I have lost an expensive one, when it went out under the motorway, out to sea on the outgoing tide. Thankfully, neither dog followed it.
Before I realize, the time has gone--- we have been there over an hour. I can catch Perdy much more easily now. She actually comes and lets me put the leash on--- mostly.
On the way home, I noticed a beating sound coming from the rear wheel. ‘Damn---a bloody puncture.’
Now I know what I did was crazy. I thought----‘stuff this--- there is a garage just along Hillsborough Road and the car seems to be driving OK--- It’s not wandering like I would expect with a flatty.’
So I continued up the hill and along to the garage. I jumped out, ---- but hey---- no flatty. What the hell was going on? Was it something more sinister---? ----from the wallet’s point of view. Then I noticed the back window.
Perdy in her exuberance to get some fresh air has learnt how to open the back window. Don’t worry--- she’s tied in. I remembered she had done that before and my car is particularly bad when the back window is down and the car is travelling over 80 KPH. The beating sound was the result of that pressure thingy that results from the downed windows.
Thank God I didn’t ask the guys at the garage. I am sure they would have laughed. I too can laugh at myself.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


In the last week I have had the pleasure to visit two eateries, the BASQUE KITCHEN BAR and the VEVO foodstore.
I stumbled onto them both; neither was an ‘intended’ destination. I would like to make a few comments.
Firstly the BASQUE KITCHEN BAR. We visited this establishment last week around lunchtime. It can be found tucked away in Davis Street, Newmarket. Our plan had been to find one of the cafes, fronting the park in the main street.
Auckland’s summer was playing hide and seek, so with the drizzle doing its best to morph into rain, we gave up on the cafes nearer the main street when we noticed the old refurbished building housing the BASQUE KITCHEN BAR. 
We studied the menu out front and were immediately welcomed by the friendly bar-lady. It didn’t take much to draw us in, especially when we noticed that it was a ‘tapas’ bar. Both us were curious about this Spanish offering and we wanted a light lunch.
After been seated near the entrance, where we were well away from the driving drizzle, but still part of the ‘street scene,’ the bar-lady offered us the menus and the beverage list. Being Spanish, of course the wines and beers were predominantly the same, ordered a Spanish bubbly by the glass. Our host pointed out that they couldn’t call it Champaign. (We are all well versed in the reasons for that—aren’t we?) By the glass was fine for us.
I decided on some croquettes for a starter (Tapa) and fresh Spanish Sardines for the next course (this was slightly bigger than the Tapa, but smaller than a traditional main. My dining companion (my sister on this occasion) chose cauliflower, sautéed or deep fried I (not sure) with various spices, one of which was saffron, for her tapa. For the next delight she ordered little lamb chops, minus the sauce (the lady knew her stuff--- my sister can’t have anything with gluten).
While we waited for our food, we sampled the Cava bubbly. It is a little like some of the better-end Lindau range--- light, yet nicer and fruity.  It wasn’t long before the first of the little Tapas arrived.
My croquettes were exactly as the friendly lady had said---‘really delicious.’ I made the smart-assed comment that ‘the chef would have to kill me if he told me how he had cooked them.’  Oh no--- ‘he will be happy to tell you what’s in them if you want,’ our new friend replied.
My sister’s cauliflower dish was superb. I am going to try to replicate it myself. I managed to steal a piece off her plate while she was engaged in draining her glass of bubbly. (We only had one glass--- neither of us wanted that ‘wanna go to sleep feeling,’ after imbibing in alcohol at mid-day).
The lamb chops came along with my sardines. My sister wasn’t too keen to try my dish, and she wasn’t about to share her chops with me. No wonder--- they were just right—pink in the middle and beautifully cooked--- I’m sure the waiter/bar lady said something about cherry vinegar, amongst the ingredients. They were succulent and tasty.
My sardines lived up to my expectations. I had always imagined the grilled morsels, but had only ever tried the pilchard-type fish that had been passed off as ‘sardines’ at other establishments.  I had three of them on my plate. They were easy to eat--- just scrape the flesh off the tiny bones and enjoy.
The friendly, knowledgeable service and the ambiance of the place on a horrible day was just what we needed to shift our moods from the stolen summer. We weren’t stuffed to the point of feeling guilty and our wallets did not protest. I think $30 each, for two courses (small was just right) was fine. It is not a food hall, so we had expected to pay more. One thing’s for sure--- we will be back for an evening meal.
Now for the second place. You might be thinking we eat out more than most. Not really---it was the penultimate day for our holidays, so we wanted to enjoy it. Once again, we had no idea where we were goin g to have breakfast. We had left the naughty Jack Russell at home (although on reflection, she would have been fine).
We drove out west, knowing that along the way, we would come across many cafes.  Before we knew it, we were driving through the Titirangi Village, the ‘flash’ part of Westy town.  An empty car park almost jumped out at me, so the decision was made. Almost immediately, we noticed a café at the end of a parking area. It had the added advantage of being a ‘food store’ as well.
The VEVO foodstore was busy (always a good sign) and we were made welcome by the enthusiastic, smiling staff. We could choose from the usual ‘all day’ breakfast type food or order from the counter food. There was plenty of fresh-looking food on offer. I ordered our coffee. I had the ‘big breakfast, while my gluten-free sister had the bacon, eggs with gluten-free bread.
The coffee was good enough for me to ask what beans they used. The barista said he used –Supreme beans,’ but was considering another option that were as good or better. If they are better, then they will be really good, because the coffee was way better than many I have had--- and I love my coffee.
The food arrived, about ten minutes later. The wait was fine--- the result was great. They did not make a fuss of the eggs, by advertising ‘organic, free-range, but I suspect that they were both. My big breakfast wasn’t over –the-top. Honestly, some big breakfasts would have my doctor pointing out the ‘awaiting grave.’ There was one piece of well-cooked quality bacon, hash browns that were obviously not out of a packet, and delightfully herbed. The sausage was not one of those overly-salted varieties and the mushrooms were magical.
Both of us were happy to pay the price. I would rather pay slightly more, any day then have a cheaper less than satisfactory serving. We both agreed that the VEVO is good value and good quality. There was surprise at the end.
When I came out of the spotlessly clean toilets, I noticed a table at the back. Wow--- if I had seen that before I ordered, we would have sat there. It has a fabulous view over the Manukau Harbour, framed by lovely native trees that belie the fact that the VEVO is in the middle of the Titirangi Village.

Well done, both establishments.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Of course dogs smile, especialy when they are members of Greenpeace

I’m watching Perdy as she chomps through a meaty bone on the back lawn. It’s just about 3pm and she has one very full day.
Firstly, she woke me at 7am--- yes I slept in--- and I took her to Keith Hay Park down the road. It’s a great ‘wake-me-up’ morning walk and the three kilometres round walk is just right for me. Perdy jumped back in the car with that ‘what else we doping today Daddy?’ 
‘Well sweetie--- breakfast first—OK?’
Her tail wagged in anticipation--- yes she will do her best to steal whatever I have cooked. So home we went and on the way I told her about the planned visit to Omana Regional Park to visit the kids from school, who are camping there for the week.
I endured the usual barking that occurs as we glided down the long hill just after the Hillsborough Rd over bridge.
‘Shut up Perdy--- you’re gonna bloody deafen me at this rate, or should I say, make me deafer!’
Did it work---?  of course not. Once I had driven past the Onehunga Bay turn-off, she quietened down and observed the cars and busses we overtook. If we got too close to a truck, she shrank back into the back seat. She hates trucks---- good I say--- she will be safer that way. When I turned off at the Puhinui off-ramp, she really became curious. Her quizzical looks demanded an answer.
‘We’re going to see the kids at the beach Perdy--- I think you will like them and the beach is nice and clean--- but behave, because dogs aren’t allowed on the beach eh.’
As we drove through the road works on the big hill near Whitford, she began her whining again. I think she could smell the not too distant inlet. It was all new territory for her--- she had never been that far in the car, so I thought the least I could do was to put up with her excited expletives.
Just before we drove through the round-a-bout near Beachlands, I noticed she had gone really quiet, so I half expected to hear her throwing up--- but no--- she was transfixed on the horses, sheep and cows that were introducing themselves from a distance.
I turned off the main road and headed for the beach near the camp and when she saw the azure blue sea she must have thought she was in a doggie Mediterranean.  She does watch a lot of TV, so don’t go underestimating her.  I pulled up on a grassy area where Tony from school was watching the gear while the kids were way out to sea in the kayaks---well not too far. I don't want you getting the wrong idea.
I knew I shouldn’t let her off the lead (hell--- she wasn’t even supposed to be there at all---according to the signs) so she had to content herself with paddling with a ‘go-zone’ of 9 metres--- better than nothing. She was a little coy with Tony at first and then a little diffident with the kids as they beached their kayaks a few minutes later.
They made a great fuss of her and in between chasing the sticks I threw in the water; she made herself known to the kids. She’s such a show-girl—give her half a chance and she would be on stage--- that shyness is just a front.
After thirty minutes she looked as bit cold, even though the water was warm enough. I think the breeze had a chilling effect, especially when she was leash-bound and unable to run about like a maniac.
One thing was different this time--- I was in the water (even if only up to my thighs) and that was quite enlightening for her. She had this look on her face that said--- won’t you sink? Then she picked up a long stick and held it in her mouth. OMG--- thank God she’s a member of Green Peace. At least she wasn’t about to harpoon me.
A few minutes later we were making our way back to Hillsborough, and the day was hardly halfway through.
‘Now what, little girl--- more advebnturessssssssssssssssss?’

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cruising on the Kaipara Harbour---New Zealand's forgotten harbour

Saturday the 22nd of January was a bit sad and also very happy. I missed the Tangaroa Foundation Reunion. I regret that, especially after viewing all the stuff on Facebook. I won’t miss the next one. It’s amazing how all the students from that time have kept in touch and hearing ABOUT ALL OF THE THINGS THEY ARE UP TO. Gosh--- some of them are grandparents now and they live everywhere.
I took my sister on a harbour cruise on the Kaipara Harbour--- wow what a buzz. I knew it was big, but barley being able to see the northern point from the boat while we were just off Shelly Beach tells you something. The cruise also meanders up one of the rivers—almost to Taupaki. To think how the early settlers (and of course the much longer history of exploration of the Maoris) used this vast array of waterways for transport and economic activity is really incredible. They did however turn the harbour from a pristine, clean domain into the silted up and often brown mess it is today. In spite of this, it still retains a charm and beauty in its backwaters that everyone should visit.
Take a trip on the quaint steamer  (http://www.kaiparacruises.co.nz/) and you will enjoy what I did today. The host and captain knows his stuff and his commentary is not intrusive. He even slows the boat every time he talks. Take your own food but even the instant coffee seemed to taste better--- must have been the sea air!
I have decided to take some of their other trips: the cruise from Westhaven to Riverhead sounds great. Not expensive either ($20 for the 3 plus hours trip I went on, $35 for the Riverhead one).  I want to try the 8 hour trip to Dargaville too soon. (I think you come back on the bus to Shelly beach.)
So, while I missed out on seeing all the folks from TC, I gained a wonderful new wish to cruise our wonderful harbours. I must check out some other options around NZ—any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is Youtube the answer?

I watched with a mixture of 'Yeah---go for it' and  'Mmmmm---is that what it will take?'
I am referring to the segment on Youtube of those ladies getting stuck into staff at Countdown in Rotorua. I don't know the background to the fracas outside the shop, but I guess I have to assume that the ladies had been helping themselves to some 'specials' that the rest of us usualy don't have access to.
Were ther trying to put 'food on the table'? or were they opportunistic thieves, meeting their comeupance from hard-working staff?
The shot went viral and will probably help police with 'their inquiries.'
Some may argue that the economy is against the ladies and they acted out of desperation, while others may say that most people, no matter how down and out, do not resort to ripping off shops and other services.
From my comfortable middle-class position, I have never known what it is like to have absolutely no fall-back in the form of a credit card or a relation  (usually Mum  and Dad). I have never had to say to kids that there is 'nothing in the cupboard.' Life is not a fairy tale where there are magic beans or a golden goose to hope for. The cold light of dawn that brings another day of struggle is foreign to most New Zealanders; most of us manage to get from one pay packet to the next.
Just remember, before you judge (and I have to put myself in this boat) that increasingly more people wake up with that dreaded scenario--- then it is over to the choices they make.
I would like to think that there are agencies out there who can help---- but they too are stretched.
There are many out there, who have little or no sympathy for those who act out their frustrations in the manner displayed in the Youtube segment; lets face it--- I regularly hear people close to me stating how they would like to 'deal to the low- life' who transgress resonable standards and that they should face the consequences of their actions.' I cringe at some of the comments.
So what are we going to do as a nation? The Youtube item is simply symbolic of the troubles that lay ahead for more of us as New Zealand is affected by the economic readjustment that is creeping ever closer to our shores. I guess we are going to have to wake up and find a Kiwi solution so that we do not have members of our society acting out in ways that are fed by their circumstances and by their inability or choice not to help themselves. We are going to see more on Youtube and various other media services that will underly what is happening  in society. I hope it does not divide us--- but brings us together.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bossy Bitch

OMG--- it's 'take me for a walk---now!'
If I don't Prime Minister Perdy makes life hell for me and her resources are huge. Her lopsided glance is enough to melt my heart, but the threat of what she is truley capable of, is just below the surface.
The implication of some of those looks leaves little doubt in my mind that I should get off my butt and just 'do it.'
I have made an interesting discovery about Auckland and its parks. I am blessed to be living within a few minutes drive of quite a few. Take the beach just a kilometer away. It's the beach that features in the first story in Coastal Yarns. Instead of driving to the bottom beach, I park in the upper car park and there is an 'off leash' area that leads down to a secluded beach, that on a nice day may well be a 'swimming' beach for us both--- no prying eyes--- thats more for my benefit than Perdy's.
Then there is Kieth Hay Park. What a lovley park--- well over two kilometers of flat walking. Sure it's on the leash, but Perdy pretends that she's free- She get's these funny looks from people, who think they know her from 'somewhere.' Of course when it comes to toileting, she demands that I shield her from the Paparazi.
Today we found another gem. There is a beautiful park just off Hillsborough Road with a beautiful old mansion along with a huge undulating green expanse of lawn with huge tress. I sat with Perdy, after panting up the gentle hill and looked out over the Manukau Harbour. While I gathered my breath, Perdy sat there waiting patiently for me to recover, whilst she surveyed the view. I am sure she made a comment about 'all the people who had voted for her being down there.'
Tomorrow it's back to the lagoon and maybe a second walk in Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill. We shall both have to be on our best behaviour there eh.  That little blob in the centre of the picture is Perdy. The bigger blob is invisable because he was taking the picture!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pam Corkery

I have been listening to Pam Corkery (hope that is the right spelling) over the last few days. What a blast from the past. The more I listen to her, the more I think that parliament lost something when she and Georgina Byers left.
Pam--- I wish you could read this. I suspect you left parliament because you saw though all the crap and couldn’t stand the total waste of time that it can represent. Democracy is cool but it has its drawbacks, like many of the traditions and procedures that go along with toeing the party line.
I think parliament needs people like you---people who are not afraid to tell it like it is. You don’t play the games that many other politicians (except- Perdy-lol. ) Maybe if you had colleagues, more like you, it would have been different. I like your humanity, your balance and your abhorrence of PC gone mad.
I don’t put you in the same category (and I’m not talking about Parties here) as Maggie Barry. You are something else, so get in touch with Georgina and other like-minded people and come back to us. The Alliance Perdy is gone (well they certainly had no traction at the last election), so I am not sure if the Labour Party could handle you--- maybe you belong in n Z First, but that would mean playing second fiddle to Winston---Mmmm--- not your thing.

If anyone reading this knows how to send this onto Pam--- please do it.  www.authorneilcoleman.com

I still have a limited number of both of my books. Contact me direct at  neilcolemanauthor@gmail.com
I am still not sure what is happening with mu publisher--- it seems like they have shut up shop for the holidays.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dog food

Today I decided to make up my own dog food for Perdy. She gave  a new role in her Cabinet and given the way all the other humans have gone----to Australia mainly, I thought, what the hell. She said that she wanted to give up on the processed food and that she now wanted ‘natural food.’
So the afternoon consisted of trailing through the internet, looking at various ‘recipes.’ I began with a simple version, consisting of mince, garlic (loads of it), rice, potatoes and some frozen veggies—Watties of course. I cooked it all up in the pressure cooker and then added some ketchup at the end. Yes--- the recipe said to do that and I must admit, it did take it away from the bland taste. OK--- I ADMIT IT--- I TRIED IT--- THE SMELL WAS GREAT AND IT WAS ALL FRESH, SO WHY NOT.
I was silly enough to put it all up on Facebook so now I have people thinking that I’ve lost it! Maybe I should suggest that if anyone is reading my silly stories about Perdy and her ‘election win,’ then I’m in good company.
For the record, I will try out different recipes from as many sources as I can.
Perdy loved the end product, but then again--- she will eat almost anything.
Right I am off to deliver her seconds. She said she is doing an ‘all-nighter,’------something about preparing a speech for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Canberra. Maybe I better make up some freezer packs. Now, I better go and turn the light off--- she fell asleep on the sofa.