My giant local park…

3 09 2016
It’s been six years since the the first Canterbury quake and so much has changed. For me, one of the most tangible differences I see every day is the huge park that has emerged around our home.
It’s hard to think about the scale of the residential red zone in Christchurch – it’s really really big, but how big is that exactly? Its 732 hectares of land, but that number doesn’t mean much to me…another way to say that is that its over four  times the size of Hagley Park. That’s pretty big!
I found this interesting comparison map on Stuff the other day – it puts the scale of the demolitions into context for non-Cantabrians.
If the residential red zone was in Auckland, it would cover most of New Lynn and New Windsor.
Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.28.05 AM.png
If it was in Wellington, it would cover most of the city!
Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.27.48 AM
It boggles my mind!

Getting more (less) there

29 07 2016

I blogged in December last year about slowly getting there with my weight loss and exercise goals. At that point I had come to a bit of a stand-still on the weight loss front, which was perfectly acceptable to me. Since then, I have very, very slowly been losing some more. In December I was at 82kg, now I’m hovering around 77kg. Although I have to say that I randomly gain/lose up to a kilogram between weigh-ins sometimes. So weird!

I’m really happy with the size I am now. Somewhere under the flab and extra skin from all the years of yo-yo-ing, I now have abs! For me it’s not about how I look, it’s about functionally what I can do with my body. And at this size I can run with ease, my yoga has improved, I can do more weight-bearing exercises like push-ups, and my back is well-and-truly on the mend.


Social mediary

27 07 2016

After a year-long hiatus from Twitter, I recently reinstalled and started using Twitter again. Which is to say, I’ve started reading my Twitter feed … I haven’t really been posting. Twitter has changed since I first joined in 2007, and so have I – for the first few years I primarily used it to chat with my friends, and then everyone moved to Facebook and so did I. Now I use Twitter mostly as a source of news. I’m not sure Twitter is going to last the distance. I use it most days, just for reading, but it’s not that interesting to me anymore. Facebook is where most of my social mediary happens now, just because that’s where everyone is. And I use the FB groups for committee work. And stalking of course.

I’ve recently expanded my toolkit of social mediary to include Snapchat and Instagram. I find Snapchat somewhat baffling. It’s fun, but relatively pointless. So I use Snapchat occasionally, but it’s never going to be my go-to SM app.

Instagram, I love. I can pop in and see what people have been up to – I follow some really interesting, creative people and I love getting a glimpse into their life through the little squares they show me. I like the image rather than text focus of Instagram over Twitter, and the longevity of Instagram over Snapchat.

Did Facebook win the social media wars? I think they did.

Why play sport?

15 05 2016

I was listening to a podcast interview with Jodie Foster today, and she talked about downhill skiing. She made the point that when she’s skiing, she needs to be fully concentrated, fully in the moment – because if she let her mind drift to the minutiae of everyday life, she might end up crashing into a tree.

It made me think about the sport I play and why I like it. It has to be said, I’m not good at sport. I’m fairly uncoordinated, and I lack that passionate desire to win. But Jodie is right – what I love about playing sport is that when I’m out there, all I’m thinking about is the puck, my position, the other players. There is no room to let my mind wander or worry about what happened before the game. It’s one of the few times that I’m not thinking about a million things. I’m just enjoying what I’m doing right then.

Money-rich, time-poor

22 04 2016

This week I did something I never thought I would ever do – hire a cleaner. We had a cleaning service come and give our whole house a spring cleaning – windows, sills, skirtings, dusting, fridge, oven, floors, bathrooms, the full noise. Our house is gleaming!

They are coming back on Tuesday to do a regular clean, and then every Tuesday after that. It feels so luxurious to pay to have someone do my chores – I’m totally embracing it.

The cleaning service comes hot on the heels of the gardening and mowing services we employed last year. This all feels extravagant, but also really awesome. It’s so nice to come home on a Monday and see what work our gardener has done – she moves things around, plants things here and there, and obviously has very green thumbs (unlike me!).

I understand now what people mean by the phrase money-rich, time-poor. I am happy to pay people to do things for me so I have time to do other things instead. I actually don’t mind cleaning at all – I find it soothing and satisfying. But I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to fit into my week – I feel like I’m always cleaning and tidying, because I have to do little bits all the time to keep up with it.

It’s not like I’m using my new spare time lazing around. The reason I have so little time is all the unpaid work I do for derby and hockey. I do this work joyfully and with gusto. Both these sports have expanded my world, taken me to new and interesting places, stretched my skills (and my patience at times) – they give back to me as I give to them. But the reality is that giving my time to others leaves less time for cleaning the loo. It seems like a fair trade to me.

Crowd-sourced decision-making

1 02 2016

We’ve been thinking for a while about getting a coffee machine for home. We’ve been using a French press for years.

French press

French press

Lately I’ve been hearing about this amazing new device called a Nespresso. They seem to be everywhere, and people who have one rave about it.



We saw lots of them when we were travelling last year, and we talked about getting one. I liked the idea of homemade espresso with very little mess / fuss. I wasn’t 100% convinced though – they seem to produce a lot of waste in the form of little aluminium pods. And you can’t choose your own beans. Then I tried a cup at a client’s office the other day, and it was pretty nice coffee. I asked around and the evangelists had me sold. I was ready to go out and buy one.

But before I did (still nagging doubts about those pods), I asked Facebook to tell me what they thought.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 10.42.56 AM

A very interesting debate ensued. On the one hand, people said:

I’ve had one for 2 years, Nespresso pods are good but now I use supermarket ones for half the price I love it, totally different taste to plunger, still take a bit to get the quantities right, milk, water, pod strength but you can get a good proper coffee machine taste, never the best but good, as for waste – the plastic I use in 2 weeks would be less than one plastic meat tray, and the aluminium ones are recyclable.

Yes for sure – and I said no to a coffee machine for years. Had one for a year now and wouldn’t go back.

 It’s great. Easy to use, great selection of tastes, and the milk thingy always makes your coffee look cool.

George Clooney

They give you a card at the shop with a chip in it and when you go to the shop you are auto logged and they greet you…by name. So register your name as Mr Clooney….for shits and gigs

But George Clooney…

We’ve had one for about 4 years and couldn’t live without it. I personally think the coffee tastes great but our machine (Maestria) does allow for you to adjust more than the basic machine and we do run more water through each capsule to extract more coffee. The pods are recyclable in Chch in the standard recycling but if you want to make sure you can now drop them off at the Nespresso Boutique in Ballantynes at the proper recycle station. Supposedly they are infinitely recyclable. We recently tried another Eco-brand of some sort but it didn’t cut the mustard flavour wise.

Love ours! Our one you steam your own milk too, which gives you part of that satisfaction of putting a little effort into your coffee, but sans mess!

It was pretty convincing stuff. No mess, and George Clooney!


But then…other people gave me pause for thought…

A very clever marketing campaign backed up by great service to make you feel part of an exclusive club, while you drink weak, overpriced coffee and damage the environment, despite the well-intentioned recycling programme.

Capsules are expensive and only available in their “boutiques” (far and few between) and online. The only good, strong Nespresso I’ve had was when I used 2 pods in one cup – making it even more expensive. Not to mention that Nespresso is from Nestle – one of more evil multi-national corporations which should be boycotted (a company with a CEO who doesn’t believe that water is a basic human right, a company that used child labour in Africa on cocoa plantations until 2005 and of course aggressively pushed formula in Africa for years resulting in an unnecessarily high infant mortality rate.)

Back to coffee, we have had a Breville Fresca for the past 4 years, which has a built-in grinder. We love it. I don’t buy takeaway coffee anymore, ever. I also like that I can buy whichever beans I choose – fair trade, organic etc.

Hmmm, I have purposefully boycotted Nestle all of my adult life…


Drinking coffee is not just about ‘getting your fix asap’. If you buy a proper espresso machine you’ll experience the joy of making a good coffee yourself. You can learn, experiment, refine your skills and it only takes a little bit longer. You can make the coffee just the way you like it best… not how Mr. Nespresso thinks you should drink your coffee.

Plus if you multi task, you can make a coffee while having a meaningful conversation with somebody who really knows your name and who is really interested in you and not just in your wallet. You don’t have to suffer through all the fake marketing bullshit so you feel ‘special’… together with the millions of other Nespresso drinkers all over the world.

And as a bonus your soul doesn’t die a little every time you drink a ‘soy vanilla caramel late with rose sprinkles on top’ because you’re not putting another ‘pod’ in the ground. That alone has got to be worth something.

So yeah… do you follow the crowd… or do you drink coffee?

Yeah, family coffee-making and meaningful conversations, I like!


Espresso machine is a much better option in my opinion. Much more control, can support local roasters.

Local roasters!


These were also convincing arguments. The two sides of the debate perfectly summarise my take on this – I like the idea of the easiness and no-mess-ness of the pods, but like the idea of making my own coffee using non-evil corporation products.

Reviewing the arguments carefully, I noted that the ‘for’ arguments all focus on the convenience of the pods, and the ‘against’ on the value of brewing your own coffee using beans of your choosing.

So I started my research again, this time including espresso machines in the mix. I had thought (wrongly) that these machines would be out of our price range (i.e. several thousand dollars). What my research showed was that there are lots of semi- and fully-automatic coffee machines in the $500-$1000 range – about the same as the Nespresso.

I showed my research to Stephen and we narrowed the options – don’t want a milk container attached, do want to be able to make steamed milk, don’t want a portafilter, do want to be able to use beans or ground coffee, do want a decent sized water container.

And so we found this little beauty.


Delonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.SB

And it is magnifica! It is exactly what we we wanted. It makes a great brew using any beans we choose, we can select different strengths, make two coffees at once, make short or long blacks, and steam milk, and it is no-mess. And for $1000 it includes a four-year service warranty.

I’ve been slightly over-caffeinated since we got it…

The Bridle Path

7 01 2016

It was Stephen’s idea … I would have been just as happy staying home for the day. Stephen, Bronwen and I walked the Bridle Path this afternoon – to the top of the Summit Rd from the Gondola carpark and back again.

When I was a kid, and when my kids were young, the Bridle Path was like a rite of passage – most Cantabrian kids have walked from the Christchurch to the Lyttleton side at some point in their life. I managed to avoid it until now.

To be honest, I thought it would be harder. It’s steep, but not to the point that it slows you down too much, and it wasn’t nearly as far as I thought either. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the top (going at the pace of the slowest Frayle).

The ease at which I was able to wander to the top is a testament to the hard work I have put in at the gym in the past year. I really love that I have a pretty good level of functional fitness that allows me to do these kinds of things easily.

Sometimes it boggles my mind – I’ve come a long way from the person I was. It’s hard to me (and others) to imagine a time that any vigorous activity was beyond me, but that’s who I was. It hasn’t been easy – getting fit and staying fit takes a lot of time, energy, perseverance.

But when I’m standing at the top of the Summit Road, looking down at the 1.5km uphill track I just climbed, it feels very much worth the effort.