Visiting the Art Deco capital of New Zealand

I achieved two bucket list items this weekend – visiting Napier and seeing one of my favourite bands live. 

I've wanted to visit Napier for the longest time, but have just never managed to get there – so many places, so little time! Years ago, I read about Napier's distinctive Art Deco buildings and wanted to go see their magnificence in person. After the Canterbury earthquakes, my interest was renewed – how does a city that's been flattened by an earthquake look after it rebuilds? 

The majority of Napier city buildings were destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent fire in 1931. The rebuild started almost immediately, and took place at the height of the Art Deco period. And 85 years later, it still contains 140 of the original 165 buildings built during this period. That's a remarkable achievement in itself – the city has ensured that the buildings have been carefully preserved – they are so colourful and interesting! 

We took a great walking tour of the city – we purchased a pamphlet from the Art Deco centre and meandered our way around, reading about the buildings' history as we walked. It was a very well-done tour that would benefit from becoming more digital – an audio tour, or even QR codes on buildings would be fun. 

One aspect of the building decoration that I found really interesting is the prevalence of Egyptian motifs. In the pamphelt, this is explained by the fact that Tutankhamen's tomb had been discovered in 1922, and interest in ancient Egypt was high.  If you look at some of the patterns on buildings, you can certainly see the influence. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Napier – it absolutely lived up to my expectations. 

I’m in training!

I started training for the City to Surf today, with a 6km run. I felt slow and fat after two weeks of eating and not really exercising, but it was good to get out and stretch my legs.

The City to Surf website has 10-week a training schedule that I have chosen not to follow too closely, with four runs per week ranging from 20-90 mins. I think it designed to ensure you finish in the top 10 runners! I will be lucky if I come in ahead of the fast walkers, and that’s fine with me – 14km is a long way…

I will be aiming for 2-3 runs a week for the next 12 weeks, but broadly following the ever-increasing distances.

I’ve run the City to Surf twice before, and don’t remember it being that hard, but both times it was 12km rather than 14km, so it will be a bit more of a challenge this time around!

 

 

Goals for 2016

Well, it’s that time of the year again…where I try and dredge up some goals for the year. In my 20s and 30s I had heaps of goals – I had a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan and I revised them each year as I ticked things off. Life is much more stable now, and it’s harder to think of what my goals are beyond the things that everyone wants – success in my career, a comfortable life, a happy family, travel.

If my goals were to be things that I knew I could achieve in the coming year (i.e. things I know that I will actually do), they would go something like this:

  • Buy all the Apple-y things
  • Go to the gym a lot
  • Spend a lot of time at the ice rink – playing hockey and supporting others
  • Spend lots of quality time with my beautiful children and  grandchildren
  • Travel within New Zealand – Wellington, Auckland, Waitangi, Dunedin are sure bets
  • Try and carve out space for relaxation but not really succeed, realise that relaxation is not really my thing

I struggle so much with the relaxation thing. My husband often tells me in a very stern tone that I need to slow down, not do too much, sit down and relax. And I really try. Sometimes I manage it – I can go hours (well, hour) without doing anything. But the truth is that I am just an ‘on-the-go’ person. It’s not that I’m bored if I’m not doing stuff, I just feel like I’m wasting time to be sitting around. I only have so many heartbeats left and I don’t want spend them watching the world go by. So this year I resolve not to worry about this. I will be as active as I feel I need to be! The only condition I’ll add to this is that I would like to spend more time at home.

Last year I resolved to spend more time at home … and then spent most of the year travelling to and from Auckland. It’s like fate was laughing in my face. “Spend more time at home? HAHAHA, no – spend more time EVERYWHERE ELSE!”. Less travel and more time at home in the evenings in 2016 would be nice.

Stephen and I have financial and career goals that are slowly taking shape, so I am excited about those. They are not things that I will document here – until they start to happen anyway!

So I guess what I’m saying is that my goal for 2016 is to do whatever I feel like doing. That sounds achievable.

It doesn’t get easier…

Since I retired from playing derby in December last year, I’ve lost about 10kgs and 3-4 inches of size around my hips and waist.

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole adult life. I made some major life changes in the mid- ’00s that led to a 45kg weight-loss, and a new-found appreciation for exercise. It was completely transformational, not just on my body, but in my outlook on life – my belief in myself and what I was capable of.

The combination of earthquakes disrupting my regular exercise routine, a back injury that just won’t go away, and starting roller derby has seen my weight creep up a bit in the past couple of years. I accepted it, but wasn’t happy about it.

The answer was simple, but it involved making a tough choice. So I gave up playing roller derby. It helped my back pain and freed up time so I could go back to the gym every day. And the result was fairly immediate. My weight and size has been steadily tracking downward and is now back to a point that I’m happy with.

It’s funny that hours of roller derby training and other skating did not help me lose weight. I put this down to the fact that I just can’t work at the intensity my body needs to burn fuel when I’m skating. It has to be said that I’m a pretty average skater. Accepting this fact really helped me make the decision to quit. I absolutely love my new role as a roller derby referee. It’s so much more technically interesting – less about the skating and more about how the game is played. And I still get to skate around and admire my favourite skaters up close.

At the moment I’m doing a combination of RPM (interval training on a bike) and Balance (combines tai chi, yoga and Pilates) classes at Les Mills. I love RPM! The first time I did it years ago, I almost died – intense cardio, and it killed my legs. It took me more than a week to be able to walk properly again! Roller derby training must have built the right muscles, because it’s been much easier this time round. It’s just the right amount of cardio and strength training for me.

I still really really (really really really) miss running. My back issues make it too painful, but I’m hopefully that I will be able to run again eventually. With a bit less weight on, and regular stretching and massage, it’s getting better. In the meantime I’m cheering Stephen on from the sidelines (I’m a bit envious, but he’s doing amazing!). I’m looking forward to giving it another go in spring.

Weight loss is easy and hard. Easy because it’s a simple formula – energy in / energy out. Put less in and put more out and you will lose weight, guaranteed. The hard part is the commitment to making it happen. For more than 10 years, I’ve had to make a huge effort to manage energy in / energy out. It has become my life’s work, and it gets hard when life gets busy. I have to make eating well and exercising a priority – sometimes above other things I love. I do it because I know what happens if I don’t. I never want to go back.

I’m going for a run…

I’m going for my first proper run (not on a treadmill) this morning. It scares me a little – in the past running has hurt my back and it’s just starting to get better. I miss running so much when I’m not doing it. I haven’t been since July.

Running feels like freedom.

Goals: Addendum

I think I like this list better than my own….

IMG_7983

In fact, it’s a useful addition to my slightly more specific goals since it incorporates my goals of:

  • Take some little trips and Go to a country I’ve never visited before = Visit a new place
  • Read 10 books = Read a difficult book
  • Less derby, more other things = Break a bad habit

I’ll have to think about how we can make the others more tangible…

Goals for 2015

I’ve been trying to write this for a couple of weeks. It seems like each year it’s getting harder to think of my goals for the coming year beyond the mundane things that I intend to do – which aren’t really goals. I have plans, but are they the same as goals? Plans seem more concrete than goals. Argh! Anyway, let’s give this a shot. At the very least, it’s nice to be able to look back at the end of the year to see how my plans relate to what I actually did…

If 2014 was all about saying yes and no more carefully in order to get some balance, I want 2015 to be the same, but more so. Once again there will be no big projects or grand schemes. Instead there will be a little bit of everything – travel, sport, family, work. All the things that make me happy. Specifically, my goals are:

Take some little trips around New Zealand

  • Wellington not for work: already booked in for January
  • Kaikoura: definitely in November, but also at least once more before that
  • Somewhere I’ve never been before but want to go – maybe Hawke’s Bay or the Fox/Franz Josef glaciers (about the only places I want to go that I’ve not been to!)
  • I’d like to visit Queenstown this winter
  • Tekapo, of course!

Read 10 books

Because my work involves a lot of paperwork and reading things I’m not particularly interested in, this isn’t the leisure activity it used to be for me. I used to read dozens of books each year, and then when I started university, reading for leisure stopped. I’ve never really got back into it – I read news and magazines but have trouble committing to whole books. Added to this is Audible – why read when I can have someone read to me?! But Amazon-Audible recently added this nifty thing called WhisperSync where you can purchase the e-book and audio version of a book and it marks your place from one to the other so you can listen in the car on the way home, then pick up again with your eyes once you’re deposited on the couch.

I’ve got two books ready to go already. I might tackle the Game of Thrones series. That will keep me busy.

Go to at least one country I’ve never visited before

So Stephen and I have booked a trip to Europe from 3rd to 25th September. I’m not adding that to my list of goals – it’s a sure thing at this point. We are planning on starting in England (this time visiting the south west) and Wales (again, the south west), and then France and who knows where else, and then flying home from Frankfurt.

So instead I make it my goal to visit either Ireland, Switzerland or Luxembourg – all places I’ve not been before.

Spend more time at home

I probably need to quantify this in some way otherwise I won’t really know if I achieved it. In 2014, I was often out most nights of the week – derby on Mon, Thurs, Sun, hockey on Tues, meeting on Wed, socialising Fri and Sat. As much as I love it, it gets to be hard work. Some weeks between work and gym and sport and friends I felt like home was just somewhere to sleep and change my clothes.

I need to make a commitment to be home at least three nights a week. I think that’s manageable. That means hockey once a week, derby once a week, dancing once a week (more on this next), which leaves one more night to do something social. If this means skipping something that I want to do some weeks, I will have to do that.

The good thing about this list is that there is much less derby and more things that I share with Stephen, I’ve missed him in the past year with all the derbying!

Less derby, more other things

So I’m not going to be doing derby three nights a week any more. What do I fill this time with? Couch-sitting? Of course not … except those three nights I’ve committed to!

This year I want to play woman’s league ice hockey in winter. I signed up last year but then derby got in the way when the training night was changed. I was very disappointed with this, and I’m really excited about signing up this year.

I made a hard decision to give up dancing when I started derby. It wasn’t just about the derby – the studio had moved after the quakes, the class got smaller (sometimes it would just be Stephen and I) and we just weren’t enjoying it the same. I was also struggling with some pretty painful OOS in my arms that made it a bit torturous at times. Then when we went on the cruise last year one of the things we did was ballroom/latin dancing each night. We realised how much we had forgotten, and how much we enjoyed it! So this year we want to get back into dancing lessons – at a new studio. I’m really looking forward to it.

Hallo 2014

In 2013 my main goals were to pass roller derby freshmeat and skate with Dead End Derby, and to travel with Stephen. Achievement unlocked.

The themes for 2014 will be skating, hockey and travel.  This year I want to:

– pass my yearly roller derby skills test, including completing 27 laps in 5 minutes

– be good enough to be selected for the Living Dead Rollers roller derby travel team

– improve my ice hockey skills: run with the puck more, work on passing and shooting at goal. A goal would be a lovely bonus

– finish the roller rink and have a launch party

– travel: to the West Coast and Sydney/Vanuatu in March, Tekapo in June/July, Kaikoura in November at the very least

And less specifically, I will schedule my time less so I have more downtime. I will not take on any new big projects this year – I have plenty of project ideas bubbling away, but I won’t move them forward this year.

This means I will need to say ‘no’ more often. I struggle with saying no, and I’ve been contemplating why this is. I feel like I missed out on a lot of things in my younger years. Having children in my teens closed a lot of doors for me. Now my children have grown up, there are all these doors that I can peak through and I don’t want to leave any of them unopened!

So this year, I intend to do lots of interesting things, but my attention will be more targeted on a few things that I really enjoy – skating, hockey and travel. These are things that I can do with my family and friends, they keep me fit, make me happy, and keep my brain engaged.

I’m picking that 2014 will be a good one.

Skating
Skating
Ice hockey
Ice hockey
Travel
Travel
And RELAXATION!
And RELAXATION!

Hallo 2013

I’ve been cogitating about this post for a while…I always spend some time in January thinking about what I want to achieve in the year to come. It seems that the older I get, the harder it is to set goals for myself – I have achieved most of the big life-goals that I set for myself in my 20s. Now I’m just picking luxury goals really. Anyway, here it is, my year ahead:

I want to pass roller derby freshmeat and join the Dead End Derby league. I started doing the roller derby training last year just to keep Megan company, but I’ve decided I love it! I’m not the fastest or the toughest, but I’m doing okay for a former couch potato that only strapped on roller skates for the first time 6 months ago.

I’m looking forward to lots of little family getaways and some romantic mini-breaks. In my sights for this year are Tekapo and Queenstown in winter, Rarotonga to break up the winter, and Auckland to see my nieces and nephew.

I’d like to see a new roller skating rink getting underway somewhere in Christchurch. This is a pretty ambitious goal. I’ve never done anything like this before, and people more knowledgeable than me have not managed it yet. But I’ll give it my all and see what comes of it.

And you know what…I’ve scoured my brain and I can’t come up with anything else! I’m looking forward to a year of hard work in my job which I love (almost) everyday, fun times with my favourite people, meeting new friends, lots of good food, laughs and kicking back.

If I get the the end of 2013 having achieved all this, it will have been a mighty fine year indeed.

What I’m looking for

When I posed these questions to myself the other day, they seemed pretty straightforward.

  • What do I want to do?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What am I looking for?

Once I started thinking about how I might answer them, it was harder than I thought. Not for the reason you’d think either. I know the answer to these questions. But the answer just isn’t all that interesting or thought-provoking. I know who I am, what I want to do and what I’m looking for.

The past couple of years have been a huge period of change for me. Before now, the questions would have been really difficult to answer, and might have sent me into an emotional spin. Let me tell you what I mean.

When my son turned 18 (in November 2006), I was going through something of a life crisis. I was in a job I wanted to quit, an unhappy relationship and my children were growing up. These things defined me, and they were changing. I spent the next couple of years struggling with this, becoming more and more unhappy until eventually, in 2008, I had enough. I quit my job, left my relationship, kissed my children goodbye, and wandered off to find myself. And I did find myself, somewhere out there in the wind and rain and sunshine.

So these are easy enough questions to answer, but hard to make thoughtful and interesting. I’ll have a go.

1. What do I want to do?

This is the easiest question to answer. I want to keep doing what I’m doing now, but even better, and moreso.

I had such an amazing time last year, I’m not sure how to top it. I got engaged, became a grandmother for the second time, watched my children grow up a little more (21, 18 and 10, significant years). I had a very successful year at work, I made some amazing new friends, I tried new things (hockey, roller blading, tennis, futsal) and loved them. So these things, I want to keep doing.

There were also some challenges. I’ve had a difficult few months health-wise. I’ve struggled with migraines and back and hip pain. The hip pain made me hang up my running shoes for the latter part of 2010 and that’s been really hard. Running keeps me sane, it sets me to rights. I’ve not found anything I like as much. So this, I’d like to change. And I feel like I’m heading in the right direction with that.

  • I want to (and will) get married this year.
  • I want to watch my family grow up some more, and be there when they need me.
  • I want to continue to improve my skating – stopping, pivots, speed, crossovers.
  • I want to be active. I want to run, walk, dance, skate, blade, play tennis.
  • I want to be social. I’ve met some cool new people this year and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them.
  • I want to slow down a bit. Well, I’ll do my best!

2. Who do I want to be?

I’m pretty happy with who I am right now. So in 2011, I just want to be me some more. Mother, wife, nana, friend, worker. I want to be happy, and healthy, and present, and alive.

The biggest change for me is the ‘wife’ bit. I’m looking forward to being Stephen’s wife, more than I can express here. It means a lot to us both to be making this commitment to each other. It’s not something I thought I’d be doing again, but it just feels right.

3. What am I looking for?

This is a harder one to answer. I don’t know. I have found what I’m looking for. It sounds like a cliche, but I was so lost and now I’m not. When my son turned 18, I had lost my purpose. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be, where I wanted to be. It took time, but I figured it out. For now anyway.

So 2011 will be a year of consolidation for me. In the last couple of years I’ve taken actions and made choices that have set me on a path. I did the hard yards and now I have a clear trajectory to follow. I just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I’m looking for a smooth ride.