It has been a while since the last post (ha ha) but there is now just so much to say that I’m going to dump it all rather unceremoniously.
1. Satellite TV: Yup, it is as inevitable in a man’s life as a leaky bladder and a sagging chest. Sooner or later a man has to get a big-ass TV and a decoder. And I now have both. The TV came from a place that sells factory seconds at rock bottom prices. It is a 37″ LED with every three and four letter acronym you could imagine.
I just could not stand the thought of the Super 15 going all the way without having seen a match live! So for $100 per month (R500) I get SkyTV which consists of all the usual suspects: The free-to air TVs 1-5; the usual movie channels plus MGM; all the sports I could want; Discovery, NG, Ci, History etc.; all the kids stuff like Disney; and UKTV (mostly BBC) plus Comedy Central where they broadcast nothing but comedy shows all day long. The other night we watched one of the earliest episodes of Cheers with Ted Danson looking so young he doesn’t have a grey hair on his head (and he has all his hair). It is so old the character of Frasier has not even been invented yet!
We particularly like Friday nights when the Graham Norton show is on. If you have not seen him try to catch one show. He is the British antidote to Oprah and Ellen Degeneres. There are no screaming crowds, no ridiculous give-aways, just hysterically funny banter with the three guests. They always include at least one Hollywood star, a musician and a comedian. With this recipe and Graham’s razor-sharp wit combined with absolutely no scruples the show inevitably degenerates into hysteria and soon the studio is awash with the carcases of sacred cows. It is just so wholesome and refreshing. It cleanses he palate of saccharine American shows. Graham’s as camp as a row of tents (gasp), his guests drink alcohol on the show (deep gasp) and they use anatomically incorrect terminology to describe libidinous activity (huge inhalation) and they poke fun at the queen! (dead faint).
Another favourite on Friday is a programme called 7 Days in which two teams of comedians rip the events of the previous week apart. It is just like Biltong and Pot-roast of old but the wit is sharper and the targets more public. Jules is normally not allowed to watch because of the language but she does come rushing into the room to see if I’m OK when she hears screams of laughter.
We were brave and subscribed to the PVR version so we can record all the rugby without having to get up at the crack of dawn to watch the Sharks being humiliated by the Crusaders.
2. How to name your sports team: Everyone knows the All Blacks (rugby) and most recently people got to know the All Whites (soccer) when they became the only team not to have a goal scored against them in the FIFA World Cup. The junior team is called the Small Whites. The Black Caps are the cricketers (male) and the women are called the White Ferns. The very successful netball team are the Silver Ferns while the Hockey team is called the Black Sticks. The basketball team are called the Tall Blacks.
Softball is played by the Black Sox (rather predictably) and in ice hockey the Ice Blacks pound their opponents into the perspex, and so far it is all very cute and clever. But sadly when the badminton team came to choose their names they had to pick a colour (which is traditionally limited to black, white or silver) and an implement used in the sport (and the choices are racquets, shuttles and cocks). They chose wrong. Now they are just called the NZ Badminton team.
3. Corkage. I have had only one bottle of mediocre wine in six months. Mostly the wine is sold in supermarkets from $6.99 (=R35) upwards with fairly decent stuff starting at $8.99 (=R45). Top of the range stuff costs $21 (R105). Most restaurants have a limited selection of wines, but they encourage one to “bring your own”. And then they don’t punish you for the fact. At a regular, fairly good Italian place we were charged a corkage of $1 (R5) which I think is the height of generosity. There are few SA wines and because the market is crowded with such brilliant local products the SA brands unfortunately cling to the absolute bottom of the rungs and are the cheapest wines on the shelf. Only Nederberg manages to hover around the middle.
4. Wenderholm. We recently took another leisurely Sunday drive to the outer edges of the district – this time heading north. I had read very good reviews of a regional park called Wenderholm so we collected granny May and headed off.
We stopped at Orewa beach along the way and it was like stumbling on to Margate beach in summer. Except that there were not too many people, nor was it sweltering. Just a carnival atmosphere with lots of people enjoying the real waves (YES!!!!) and soaking in the glorious day.
We drove on to Wenderholm which I thought was in the middle of the countryside (which it was) but which is still technically under the control of the Auckland City Council.
Just like Tapapakanga – to which we drove about two months ago – Wenderholm is a most beautiful patch of river, shore, sea and island views. It is just silly to try to capture the place on our little camera and display it on this little page. It needs a canvas and a Mahler symphony.
The snaps you see are as good as it is going to get so please embellish with imagination. The original homestead is still there and open to the public. Several families used the house and the estate for holidays over the years and it was finally (and rather grudgingly) sold to the Council in about 1977. The house is perfectly maintained and is now a museum.
It was great to have Granny May on the trip – she was full of anecdotes and stories and it really seemed as if she enjoyed the excursion. Sadly our timing was out and by the time we thought we would find a nice little cafe for lunch Jules’s blood sugar demanded more immediate satisfaction so our glamorous venture ended on a pavement in a little dorpie munching a Subway footlong.
5. Only a few more sleeps.
Karen and Et are scheduled to join us on Wednesday. I use the word “scheduled” because of the uncertainty surrounding the time of their arrival due to the ash cloud which has been spewing ash and venom into the skies, prompting Qantas to cancel all flights from Sidney. Air New Zealand is going ahead and avoiding the problem by flying at a lower altitude. This is a bumpy flight and it uses more fuel, but it is safe and the airline is creaming both the profits of operating a monopoly on the trans-Tasman route and the negative publicity which is now surrounding Qantas. There has been a fair bit of mudslinging from the Aussies, but Air NZ is just quietly carrying on with business as usual.
For us the problem is when we are likely to see the eagerly awaited party. We have scrubbed the house, re-organised the cupboards, polished, clipped, wiped and buffed everything we can find and anyone who walks in the front door. The place can only stay in this condition for a few more days so we are very anxious for them to get here quickly.
And of course it is bloody high time that we are a normal family again.
6. And finally, as usual we end with a snap of the sky. This time it was a very early morning for me and Jules because she had an early netball practice. She clearly hopes to be in the Silver Fern team one day.
After a few days of rain and drizzle the sky was clear and the few clouds that were to be found were spectacular. I stopped next to Macleans and snapped away. There were several people walking their dogs and they were all agape at the sky. It is captured here again as best as one can but too needs imagination.