Monday, November 29, 2010

All Dressed Up

...and some place to go.

On Sunday, Nicola’s choir, the Wellington City Chorus, held their Christmas lunch at Osteria Del Toro, in the Cuba district. This is a Mediterranean restaurant serving Italian, Spanish and Greek food. For Sunday lunch, they do a set menu whereby you help yourself to antipasto/salad etc. first, then they bring platefuls of paella, pasta and pizza to your table, and again you help yourself and dig in. It saves all that bother with everyone ordering different things (there were over 30 people spread out on 3 tables), and makes sorting out the bill a lot easier too.

I was told that everyone would be dressing up to go to this so I duly put on a suit and tie:

When we arrived, it seemed all the ladies had made some sort of effort; but for blokes “dressing up” seemed to mean “put on long trousers” and possibly “tuck your shirt in”. As I was clearly the most overdressed male there, I quickly removed my jacket and undid my tie.

Afterwards, we came home to watch the All Blacks beat the Welsh, then headed out again in the evening to meet up with a friend who was visiting from Brisbane. We went out to Mac’s Brewbar on the waterfront. Unfortunately the sun shines on the wrong side of this building so we were unable to sit in the evening sunlight outside, and we sat indoors in the restaurant, where I enjoyed a couple of Great Whites with dinner. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Ossum, which rhymes with possum, is a word used in New Zealand to mean any number of things, from “thankyou” to “OK” to “that really is the coolest thing, ever”. We were out shopping today, and in one shop we bought an item that cost $7.50. After paying for it, the sales girl said “ossum”. To my mind, that’s not particularly ossum. Ossum would be to buy stock to the value of several hundred, nay thousand, dollars.

Later, I bought some wine off the internet. On completing this transaction, I was informed that some ossum wine was now winging its way to me. OK, they spelled it correctly on their web page, but even so, it seemed a bit of a strong claim. Whilst I appreciate their efforts to big up all the wine that they sell, not all of it is going to be ossum. To be honest, I bought the stuff because it was cheap (OK, on special offer, but even so) and it’s just an ordinary, weekday glugging wine.

If it turns out to be ossum, I’ll let you know.

In the meanwhile, here’s a picture of the bucket fountain in Wellington:

That’s quite impressive. But is it ossum?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Victory

Tuesday night is our regular quiz night, and we are at last getting some team members to come along and join us. Of course, since we’ve done so, not one round has required specialist local knowledge…c’est la vie! Now, obviously it’s the taking part that counts, but since we’ve had our new enhanced team we came 2nd two weeks ago, and 3rd last week.

This week, with 4 of us, we cracked the top spot again. OK, one of our regular rivals failed to field a team, and there were fewer teams in general than there normally are, but even so, with a good use of the joker and a picture round that was so easy that it was embarrassing for the one team that only scored 9/10, we were firmly in the lead by the time the connections round came. We decided to play it cool and not rush in with our first answer, and eventually got the connection with 4 bonus points, and finally finished well ahead of the competition! So that’s $80 in the kitty for next week’s quiz night.

We were in ecstasy over the results, although the idiosyncrasy of some of our spelling (some minuscule errors crept in) meant we dropped a few points in the spelling round. Now I’m off to write that out 100 times before dawn. And never again shall I doubt Nicola’s spelling skills! 

Monday, November 22, 2010


On Sunday, we went to the Museum of Wellington, to look at local history. The museum is housed in the old Bond Store building on Wellington’s docks. There’s a lot to see there, and we didn’t really get much beyond the ground floor, which covers the history of Wellington in the 20th century; so we’ll be back another time to check out the rest of the exhibits. This may take more than one go – there’s quite a lot of it.

After lunch, we decided to take a bus up to Wilton. This is a residential area of Wellington, and possibly a place we might move to, so we thought we’d have a look around. Not having consulted a map or made any kind of plan beforehand, we just hopped off the bus when we thought we were in the middle of the area. There’s not much to see apart from houses – it doesn’t seem to boast any shops – but we did find the Otari-Wilton’s Bush And Botanical Garden, and had a quick look around that. The Botanical Gardens contain many of New Zealand’s native plants, like the Chatham Island Forget-me-not:

unlike the other Botanical Gardens which are mainly populated with European plants and trees. The weather had turned a bit cool and breezy and we weren’t really equipped for long treks through the bush, so we decided to come back again and explore further another time when the sun is out, and bring a picnic.

Apparently the park contains some free barbecues for public use in the picnic area, so we’ll give it a go when we’ve got our walking boots on and the weather’s a bit more clement.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Feature

I’ve added a new feature – voting buttons at the bottom of the blog. At the moment they say “funny”, "interesting” and “cool”, although I may change this once I have a better idea.

Please try using them so I can see how they work!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunny Day

On Thursday and Friday, the sun came out and the temperature in Wellington headed up and started to nudge 20°; whilst the rest of the country basked in the mid-20s, Wellington is always a few degrees cooler – in every way! I decided that the time had come to put modesty and all feelings of decorum to one side, and expose the lower halves of my legs to an unsuspecting Wellingtonian public.

Predictably, come Saturday, the sky clouded over and, whilst it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t as warm as the last couple of days. We had guests over for dinner, so I cooked a Mediterranean-themed selection of tapas and we had a relaxed evening centred on the consumption of wine in industrial quantities.

On Sunday morning, the weather had changed again, back to sunny skies. We decided to take advantage of this and go back to visit the Botanical Gardens, which were in the grip of winter last time we went. Now, the roses are out in the rose garden, and we were able to sit outside the cafĂ© with carefree abandon. We took lots of picture of the roses…here’s one:

A rose

After that, we headed back home for a spot of lunch, then out again to the bustling metropolis for retail opportunities, to buy appropriate summer footwear for the coming months – you can only walk so far in flip-flops (or “jandals” as they’re known here) without your feet starting to ache. Now we feel as if we’re heading into summer properly…or “Christmas” as they call it. It does seem odd to see all the stuff usually associated with midwinter in the shops as the weather warms up…doubtless we’ll get used to it.

Later in the afternoon the weather turned back to grey overcast, so we stayed in and watched the All Blacks hammer the Scots; then The Return Of The King, followed by Kung Fu Panda. Both very good films, for entirely different reasons.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Voice Of The Beehive

On Sunday, the New Zealand Parliament had its annual open day. This allows the general public to go into areas of the parliamentary buildings that are normally closed to them.

We trotted down via Lambton Quay, and entered the parliamentary buildings via the Bowen House entrance, which is directly under Nicola’s office at No. 1 The Terrace. There were various exhibits about the history of Parliament, and of committee rooms which were not particularly noteworthy. One of the activities was to transcribe a ministerial speech via headphones, where my speed and agility on the keyboard were much admired by other members of the public and the (volunteer) staff. They said I could get a job there, but I think they were joking…!

We then went into the Beehive, as the newer part of the parliamentary building is popularly known:

Inside the Beehive we saw the banqueting hall, where a band was playing, so we took the opportunity to foxtrot and cha-cha-cha to the best of our ability.

The next stage of the tour took us through to Parliament House, which is a more traditionally-styled building. It contains the Debating Chamber and Legislative Council Chamber – the actual parliamentary parts of the building. Each MP is allocated a specific seat – a seating plan was provided – but sadly we weren’t allowed to sit in them. There was also a re-enactment of the opening ceremony of parliament, very much based on the Westminster model, with Black Rod banging his rod on the door three times and demanding entry. Naughty boy Chris Carter has to sit at the back of the class.

The final part of the tour is to the parliamentary Library, which is housed in the oldest part of the buildings. As we got to the end of the tour, there was a quiz on a computer, where I scored 94% (got one question out of 16 wrong), and was rewarded for my efforts with a NZ flag pin! I shall wear it proudly next time I’m in the vicinity of parliamentary folk.