Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taieri Gorge Railway

For some time now, people have been recommending the Taieri Gorge railway to me, so when I found out I was heading down to Dunedin for the week on business, I decided to go down early and try it out.

We were booked in to depart on Sunday afternoon at 12.30pm. I felt like a little kid in the morning when I woke up as found myself really excited about going on the trip and being on a train again – I never knew I missed all those years living in London and travelling around on the tube and on trains to get to work every day!

We arrived at the station about 20 minutes before departure and were greeted by Murray in the ticket office. He heartily welcomed us, issued our tickets, and wished us a great trip as we headed out onto the platform to find our carriage and seats.

A quick stop on the platform to take a few photos and we hopped aboard carriage S eagerly waiting for the train to leave. At 12.30 on the dot, our train conductor gave us a rundown of the safety procedures and then we were on our way.

It takes approx 4 ½ hours return from the Dunedin Railway Station to Pukerangi. On the journey up, you get an ongoing commentary with really interesting facts and little tit bits of information about the history of the railway. On the way down you have time to enjoy a glass of wine or a coffee from the buffet car, take photos or just watch the scenery go by.

The train winds its way through some spectacular and very beautiful landscapes. There are a few stops on the way up so you can get off and take photos as well as about 20 minutes up at Pukerangi station – the half way point of the trip - to have a look around. You can also go out to the back of the train and stand on the platform at the back to take photos as the scenery rushes by.

The gorge is magnificent, and it’s hard to believe that the railway was built in such a rugged landscape over 100 years ago. If anyone was injured whilst building the gorge it would take days to get them to the nearest doctor in Mosgiel.

The train goes over several viaducts along the way and the Wingatui Viaduct is actually the largest steel structure in the southern hemisphere (the Eiffel Tower being the biggest in the northern hemisphere).

The carriages are warm and comfortable and you are free to get up and go outside to take photos or can simply sit and enjoy the scenery from the window of your seats. The history of the railway is fascinating and so it’s well worth paying attention to the commentary.

The train runs every day (except Christmas day) and will go rain or shine – a rarity this day in age with a lot of other tourist activities. It was a grey and overcast day when we went, but the scenery was still amazing and I got some fantastic photographs all the same. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who has a spare afternoon in Dunedin. For more information go to

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dear My 16 Year Old Self

Hi you, (well me I suppose)

This is your 28 year old self writing to you!! No it's not a some dodgy rip off of the Time Travellers Wife (Although you should read that book cos it's fricking good - I think it's written soon).

There are so many things I could tell you to avoid or do differently - but I think that you'll become who you are because of all those things so I'll let you figure it out for yourself.

However, I will let you in on a few things:

Yes you will be able to wing it on your GCSE's at school, but no you won't be able to do the same for your college A-Levels - and no E does not stand for English but that is in fact your grade (oh and watch out for the TV cameras as you will appear on college programmes for about the next 6 years of your life looking like a twat, trying to appear to be happy when in fact your world is currently falling apart because you've just discovered your grades were shite!!)

School days really are the best ones of your lfe - I know you haven't got much left of high school but seriously enjoy it while you can!! Oh and that guy you like - he does actually like you too - you'll discover this years later when t's too late if you don't do anything about it now!! lol

Do something about becoming a journalist or war correspondent now - it'll be too late by the time you figure that out that Dad doesn't have a total say in everything you do with your life. Journalism and photography would be an excellent idea - and well worth it!!! Otherwise you'll just end up amusing your friends with blogs instead!! (However, that does mean that you will have to study hard at college to get into the course that you want to do - although watching movies and making radio programmes, and movies for 3 years isn't a bad way to spend your university years!!)

If you don't go to Winchester uni though then make sure you get in touch with the following people: Helen Clayton, Tamara Jenkins, Louise Newman, Natalie Hagen, Florence Reynolds and Sophie Hobson - there are a few others but you'll discover them through this lot!!! (And no Tammy isn't as much as a bitch as she looks when you first meet her and Flo although yes an Essex girl is not a total blonde bimbo!!)

Smoking weed really isn't your thing - you'll never get used to it - you'll always be a lightweight on that score and you may as well save your money and not bother at all!! Other things well - you'll learn that on your own!!

You're knee is kinda buggered but don't use that as an excuse to be lazy - otherwise you'll spend the next decade trying to lose the weight again!! (Failing that Korea does some great diet pills cunningly disguised but I think in fact are just amphetamins!!!)

You'll have the most amazing year of your life when you are 19. Yes you do eventually get the money from buggering your knee (Make sure you hold out for the 5k despite what anyone says as they will give it you) Yes you do blow it all on travelling but it's so totally worth it!!

However that said, don't let Simon Harris convince you it's a good idea to buy gem stones in Agra in India - they are just glass and damn expensive glass at that (300 pounds!!) Becareful of the straight, flat, non-pot holed new road in Thailand - or more like don't slam on the brakes of your motorbike when you see that cute bag in the window - the grazes will hurt for a few weeks.

No you don't have malaria in Singapore - it's just jetlag mixed with a hangover!! (Make sure you drink lots of tonic water or take quinine though as maleria tablets will make you vomit for the first week or 2 in India!!!

Watch out for spilled drinks on podiums in nightclubs in Oz - otherwise you will end up being the laughing stock of the Melbourne hospital when they are strapping up your incredibly swollen and buggered up ankle!!

Watch out on the luge in Rotorua - the fast tracak is dangerous - and you will again end up in hospital with a broken leg and rearranged ankle joint that will give you problems for the next 6 years (and stop you from wearing heels!!)

I know you haven't had many accidents at all up to this point but travelling for a year creates a few opportunities!!! lol

Yes you will hate your parents - and you'll spend the next part of a decade not talking to Mum - but it will work itself out in the end and you'll actually get on really well - you will have to sweep a lot of things under the carpet which will annoy you, and you will have moments along the way when she drives you nuts, but it's all good and that's part of life!! (Oh but stop writing a diary cos she's currently reading it!!).

Yes dad will try and control everything in your life but you can do your own thing and I think the sooner you do the better!! (he spends your tessa on buying a new car anyway so you will have to pay for university regardless of what you do!!) He will always be quite cold and unemotional though - it's just the way he is - but he does care about you in his own way so give him a chance.

Sara will always be your best friend in the world - and yes that Paul guy that she meets in a year or 2 is an arsehole and will be the biggest twat in the world but without him unfortunately you wouldn't now have a cute godson. I suppose look at it as good things come out of nasty situations. Just make sure you are there for her though when she needs you, no questions asked - she's going to need you. And yes you will have to do some strange things on her behalf but that's what friends are for - and you will have fun laughing about it in years to come.

You'll meet some great people along the way though - friends from all over the world and you'll become almost like family at times!!

You'll have issues with guys for most of your life - I think the first question you should implement from this point forward is "Are you married, engaged, with girlfriend or have kids??" If the answer to this is yes - then seriously run the other way - or ask this even before they ask you out!!

Also the cute ones although damn good at the time, will always end up hurting you!! Don't be so damn picky as you'll some great guys slip through the loop otherwise in your search for perfection which to be honest, I don't think exists!!

Although you will have a lot of fun, you won't make guys fall in love with you just because you slept with them!! Try holding out a lot more than you do and then you'll find out a lot quicker if they are genuine or not!! (Oh and you'll lose your virginity in about a year or two's time so don't fret too much - and the first time will be shite - but will be a good story to tell for years to come!! lol)

You now live in NZ - yes I know you swear that you'll never ever go back to living there but you do eventually. You even become a teacher for a few years in Korea!! And you'll even start to want to have kids of your own!!!

Don't bother to ever buy a packet of cigarettes - in fact don't bother smoking at all again!!! You'll spend the next decade smoking and although you'll enjoy it at times you'll wanna give it up and it will be HARD!!! So quit whilst you're ahead and not hooked!! (Although I am currently on day 6 of not smoking so fingers crossed I kick the habbit this time)
Keep up with the french speaking - you'll come to miss it when you're older and want to become better at it again (and even want to live in the south of France). Also try and learn as much Italian off Manny as you can - and try and visit there when you are nearby in the UK as it costs a fortune from NZ!!!
Have singing lessons, learn to play the guitar and the piano - you'll always wish you did otherwise!! Also learn how to latin dance properly - will come in handy in Korea believe me!!
Learn how to scuba dive as early as you can - it's one of the best things you discover and you'll wish you discovered it sooner!! Try and save up for a dry suit though as you're going to go ice diving this September hopefully and I have a feeling that the cold will not be enjoyable!!

Well that's all I can think of to tell you for the time being except:

Have fun, be yourself, laugh lots, cry lots, make as many friends as you can, and just have a bloody good time enjoying your life!!!

Don't stress too much about not having a career as such, or a house (although you might want to invest in one of those when the market is cheap)

Oh and remember Big Wednesday for draw number 129 - wednesday 8th April 2008 - 16, 17, 25, 27, 36, 42 and Tails. Although I may get back to you tomorrow on that one as it's just jackpotted further to include a $500k bach!!!
Take care and just remember to enjoy life and have as much as possible.

Me xx

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chicago Schmago

I went to see the musical Chicago at the theatre royal in Christchurch last night. All I can say is thank god I didn't pay for the ticket!

I would have done a runner at half time had I not been sat in front of my boss and next to the lady that organised it for us all!

I managed to keep myself amused with my colleagues binoculars - yes we were in the gods so you could discover many interesting things through the lens of the binoculars!!

So here are a few binocular observations:

On close inspection Velma was played by a lady who was let's say, not a spring chicken!! Her dancing was stilted - I was unsure whether it was the onset of arthritis or whether she was just a crap dancer!! Said woman also was either wearing dentures or had had her teeth fixed not so long ago!! You could hear the lisp thing when she sang!

Roxy - although a young and fairly good singer/dancer was almost as annoying as Renee Zellweger in the film version. Although she did get better towards the end of the musical. (And didn't look like the pasty white, anorexic box that Renee did in the film!!)

Amos (Roxy's husband) was in fact almost old enough to be her father!! He was an excellent actor though and I think was possibly the best out of all of them - great comedy timing. However I was still a little disturbed about the thought of them being husband and wife!

Billy Flynn (Roxy & Velma's attorney) was way too nicey nice!! He didn't have a hard enough edge to him to be taken seriously. More dapper friendly neighbour next door than dapper hard nosed attorney at law!!

Mary Sunshine was fantastic (the news reporter) - was actually a guy though (this is the point when the binoculars first came out cos I was trying to see if it was a guy or not!!) The operatic singing was good though and his comedy timing was fab!! Most amusing character!!

The guy that played Fred Casely was hot!! He was also a dancer for the rest of the production and was generally looking at him when whatever else was happening was invariably boring me - although the binoculars weren't out in time for the first scene when he got his butt out!! However, in one of the final scenes he did come out in a one piece leotard so he instantly lost his sex appeal - and although in the final scene was in a suit - I couldn't forget the image of the all in one white and red stripped leotard!!

So I don't know the names of the actual actors because I was not about to shell out $20 on a programme to find out!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dating Disasters 101

So, I've been out on a few dates recently. However, last night topped the pole by far for the worst/most surreal/strangest ever first date in history!!!

Firstly, a cyclone has hit Christchurch - so outside it's rain, wind - not exactly great weather for looking particularly great - think fluffy hair that's blowing everywhere!! lol

So we get to the restaurant - all seems to be going ok so far - food is good - conversation a bit stilted but put that down to nerves/embarrassment etc. Have already joked on the phone about our secret get out of date excuses -calling the girls from the toilet to do an "emergency come quickly" SOS call and the like.

He goes off to the toilet at one point and is gone for longer than normal, so start to think may have been ditched before the main course has even been started!! But he does return, and food eating commences.

In the grand scheme of things, if the date finished here then it wouldn't have been a bad one at all. However, it doesn't and so begins the randomness.

We go up to the counter to get the bill - upon when he "discovers" that he has left his wallet at home!!! Slight panic ensues as I am fricking broke at the moment due to not getting paid for the whole of the xmas holidays, so am pretty sure that my accout has zilch in it (we had already established that he was taking me out for the meal - and yes I do usually split the bill or offer to pay my share, but in this case I thought why not - believe me, will not be making that mistake again!!). So as I hand over my card and then stand cringing whilst I wait to see if it has been accepted - at the same time in my head opting to wash, rather than dry the dishes that invariably we will be doing in about 5 minutes time in the restaurant kitchens!! (Actually I would have been walking out the door shouting adios sucker over my shoulder I suspect!!)

By the grace of God, and the miracle of kiwi banking ineptness, my card was accepted and the meal paid for!! (Although now I am somewhat concerned about the horrendous charges that ASB Bank will be whooping on my arse for going into overdraft!!)

I am assured by said date though that we will go and collect his wallet and he will pay me back. I kinda felt like I should have said “No, that’s fine” at this point, but I am still adding up bank charges in my head!!!

So we head back to his house. I sit and wait in the car while he goes inside to collect it. As he walks back to the car, another car pulls over on the opposite side of the road, and beeps. He’s already half in the car at this point, when I hear “Shit it’s my ex-girlfriend”. And so the saga continues.

There is some discussion in the driveway (which I can’t hear – and A: I can’t wind down the window as they are electric and he has the keys, and B: I figure sticking my head out of the window may be slightly too much and also may insight some sort of violence from scary looking ex!!) They then head back into the house!!

So here I am, sat in this guys car, whilst him and his ex-girlfriend are inside his house doing or saying god knows what.

So what do I do??

Well get the fuck out of there would have probably been the sensible thing - and quickly!!! However, there is still the small issue that he owes me money, and I am wearing heels – which as strangely comfy as they are these days to wear, I don’t think I would quite make it the mile or two down the road to my house!!

So I sit and wait!! He returns, the ex is trying to slyly look out the corner of her eye to see who is in the car (I’m now slouching in the seat in an attempt to avoid some sort of retribution), she leaves, he returns to the car, and we head off to find a cash point.

God knows why but I suggest that we head to a bar for a drink (Maybe the need for wine is significantly increased in moments of surreal insanity!!). So we head off to this local pub. I discover that the pool table is free of charge that night and suggest we play a game. OK so a lot of people will know that I am utterly shite at pool until I have had a few drinks. So not playing the greatest game of pool, but not helped by the fact that said date is now whooping my arse at it, and quite enjoying doing so!!

You might think that considering the events leading up to this stage he might give me some sort of chance but no!! Oh and then as I’m looking unimpressed at the end, due to severe beating, he then goes to try and pot the black and the white at the same time – like I should be grateful he was trying to lose on purpose!!

I eventually make it home safe and sound, if not a tad freaked out by the evenings events!!

So what do we gain from this incident??

  • Never date a guy who has only just broken up from a 3 year relationship 3 weeks ago and still has pictures of her all over his facebook!! (Actually note to self to delete my ex from photos on my page which forgot were there!!)
  • If someone offers to pay for dinner, walk out the door to wait, that way if they don’t reappear within 5 minutes, assume they are washing dishes and leave (well could be an issue it’s a Brad Pitt lookalike who you are having an amazing time with!!)
  • Keep a pair of comfy shoes in bag- just in case the need to make a quick getaway arises!!
  • Learn to be a pool shark when sober or drunk!!

So this date to be added to the Denny’s Disaster (think Little Chef for those of you in the UK but 10 times worse!!), the hungover dribbling unresponsive date who was aawaiting DNA tests to find out if he was the child of a one night stand, the “let’s get married” freaky midget first date, the one who had me cleaning out his fridge and freezer after 5 mins of meeting him - and this was after he'd already taken a glass of wine off me cos I had just eaten a mint, the one who was married "but separated" who I then saw a while later on a family holiday with the wife and kids to name but a few!!!

Oh the joys of dating in New Zealand!! Let’s see what tomorrow night brings eh!!!