Saturday, 31 March 2012

Hurricanes and Daylight Savings

New Zealand has a very strong sports culture, especially for Rugby. We were in town this evening for the early kick off between the Hurricanes and visiting Cheetahs. Here is the Westpac stadium, home of the Wellington Hurricanes.

This is the Hurricane's second home game of the season. We could not make it to the first, but made it a point to attend today's game. Tickets are reasonably priced and the seats are fairly decent. We were assigned a row just behind the posts and touch line.

The fans were up in arms...

...and their stilts.

Captain Hurricane was ready to steer his team past their opponents...

...and they did get off to a flying start. Beauden Barrett with the conversion attempt.

Here he goes...

Score!

The rest of the team got into action as well, breaking free.

Try!

That one was for the fans!

Now let's get this party started.

The only problem was that it did not work out as planned. After rushing to a 32-16 lead, the Hurricanes fell flat, got mauled by the Cheetahs and ended the half level, 32-32. The latter would then return to finish the job and leave the home team disappointed.

Bar the result, we really enjoyed our first live rugby game, so much that we can definitely see ourselves coming back for more. The atmosphere was awesome and the fan support was wonderful. It's always a great feeling to see different people from all walks of life gathered together by passion to support a cause. Till the next game against the Christchurch Crusaders!

On a separate note, as I'm writing this entry, I got to relive the last hour of 31st March 2012. We must now be familiar with the term, daylight savings. We got to turn back our clocks by an hour, which means we get an extra hour of sleep tonight!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Meet Niels Gedge

We were at Mojo Acoustic about a week ago, where we first saw Niels perform in public. We've been lucky the past few nights, getting sneak previews to many original songs composed and sung by the man himself.

Niels has been our kind host for the past two weeks and his passion for music has been evident and inspiring.

It would have been easy to mistake the performers for being full time musicians, such was the talent on display. The fact was many had day jobs that had the slightest of relevance with music. Yet, their pursuit for their passion is undeniable.

Do what you love and love what you do, even beyond your working hours. Niels has inspired us to keep in touch with our passions in life.

If you are interested in listening to Niel's music, here are links to his myspace and reverbnation accounts.

Or enjoy this original piece by Niels!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dancing and the Stars

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's NYC production was in town last Saturday and we caught their performance at St James Theatre with Janette.

Gwyn had been eyeing the event ever since we first stumbled upon it along Courtenay Place about a month ago. It only took Janette's casual comment on Saturday on wanting to watch the ballet for us to enthusiastically jump off our seats and tag along. We were fortunate enough to be able to grab our tickets mere hours before the sell out performance. Surprisingly, they were pretty decent seats too.

While I could quite possibly get away with a pair of denims in Singapore, it's not quite the same here. New Zealand is not the most fashion conscious country in the world but people do take the effort to dress up for the Arts. So, I suited up and off we went to NYC.

We became fans of dance since we first saw So You Think You Can Dance. Ballet was one of the featured genres and we quickly fell in love with it. How ballerinas manage to gracefully move around, as if they are as light as feather never fails to amaze me.

There were three acts in total and it was interesting to note that performances here do start on time, unlike infamous Singapore wedding dinners. We were also pleasantly surprised to spot Ginny Gan, a Singaporean dancer who was part of the crew.

It was a beautiful performance, exquisitely executed. I enjoyed the later two acts more than the first, which was maybe a tad too sugary for my liking. Gwyn will beg to differ.

After the performance, we had our first encounter with a Hollywood star. Gandalf, from The Lord of The Rings fame was amongst the crowd!

Gwyn totally lost it when she went : "KEVIN, it's GANDALF", with Sir Ian Mckellen only about two metres away.

I didn't react any better, reflexively hastening my steps to gaze at him, with both eyes wide open and a gaping mouth. That sequence of events certainly did not escape the attention of the White Wizard, who reciprocated with a gentle nod and smile. Gosh, was that embarrassing!

Gandalf wasn't the only star we managed to see. Just yesterday, we were greeted by a lovely sunset from our dining area.

Isn't it beautiful? Can you spot Venus and Jupiter in the picture? =)

Janette, the astrologer in the house shared that Venus was the bright star on the right of the moon, while Jupiter was the faint star on the left of the moon. It was a lovely sight.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay and back

A key difference between living in a temperate and tropical country is well, the sun. You will realize that with the former, once the sun is out, everyone is out as well. Yesterday was a fine example. After a week of cloud and rain, there was finally much desired sunshine. We went out for an impromptu ride with no research of routes. Like the old Singaporean saying, "just whack lah".

It was no surprise that we bumped into many fellow cyclists along our route, and very friendly ones we must add. A subtle nod, a wave or a "how are you" greeting from every cyclist we crossed paths with.

Our unplanned route saw us take the bike path from Plimmerton to Pukerua bay. The path runs alongside the state highway and the distance is about 7km. Not very far on a bike but considering that probably 6.5km of the journey was upslope, it was one heck of a ride.

The strong headwind certainly did not make it any easier. You probably can't tell from the pictures, but trust me, Plimmerton to Pukerua bay is a constantly inclining terrain!

It's not always about how fast you go or the destination you reach. It's the journey that counts and the scenic surroundings did make the slope climbing a little more enjoyable.

Sheep and New Zealand are almost synonymous. Here is Gwyn with some sheep. Can you spot them?

We got to Pukerua Bay only to realize that Fisherman's Table, the restaurant we wanted to have lunch at, was actually not at Pukerua Bay but the next town, Paekakariki. What a blooper. Paekakariki was another 7km away. We were famished and not sure if we could do another 7km of continuous climbing, so we decided to turn around and head back to Plimmerton.

And boy, does fortunes turn. We rode back in less than half the time we took to get there because basically, we were rolling most of the time. Again, though for different reasons, it was one heck of ride.

Very quickly, we arrived back in Plimmerton. We first got to Plimmerton a month ago. Admittedly, we were initially less enthusiastic about the suburb. There are hardly any shops and the nearest supermarket and ATM are actually in the next suburb. However, the place really grows on you and now, we are converts and absolutely adore Plimmerton.

Here is a view of Plimmerton from atop and afar.

Plimmerton is very much a seaside town. It's not the biggest of suburbs and most of the houses are sea facing.

We love the beach. Nothing more relaxing than chilling by the beach on a beautiful summer afternoon.

Resident seagulls along the beach. Can you spot the showering seagulls?

Witnessing sunset at the Plimmerton Boating club along Karehana Bay can be a wonderful experience. The scenery is so beautiful that you don't really have to be a good photographer to take good shots. Virtually any click strikes gold.

Here is another of our favourite shots from the Plimmerton Sunset, with Mana island in the background.

Plimmerton is a cool little suburb, just like Wellington, coolest little capital in the world. We're glad to be here. :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

WWoofing On

Our wwoofing on continued at Niels and Janette's and so far, it has been a delightful experience. We picked up many skills that we weren't quite accustomed to back in Singapore, like gardening.

There are lots of gardens in Singapore, just not in your backyard. Here in New Zealand, it's quite common to have your own garden.

Naked Ladies in the drive way.

Naked Lakies in their full glory.

Toadstools, like in fairyland or super mario. Pretty but poisonous though.

Our hosts Niels and Janette were brave enough to entrust their garden to us. We try our best to help them with the garden.

Gardening is like hairdressing, you give trees and plants a haircut.

After a while, you learn the ropes, get a hang of things and then go from Scissorhands trimming plants to sawing tree branches.

What we really enjoy about having your own garden is to be able to eat from it. More than half of the vegetable dish came from the garden. It's comforting to know that the food you're eating is fresh and hasn't been tampered with beforehand.

Janette is a great cook and Gwyn has been the ardent understudy in the kitchen. She has learnt lots of useful tricks and her book of recipes has been expanding quickly.

This is one of her favorite, baked pears with ice cream. Yummilicious!

Dinner time with our lovely hosts, Niels and Janette. We have been very fortunate to meet you both!

Weather in Wellington is not always sunshine. There are bad days and when they come, we turn to indoor activities, like painting.

Two tins of paint, a couple of brushes and off we went. Painting is definitely not an easy task. It takes a lot of patience and precision to get a wall right but the satisfaction at the end of the day makes all the effort worthwhile.

Apart from gardening and painting, we got to play dog walkers as well. Meet Barney...

and Bertie.

We take them out for walks during the day.

and the beach for a swim.

Barney loves his stick. Doesn't this picture of Barney remind you of Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. Could be the stick, grey hair and wise old dog look we think!

On the contrary, Bertie's not quite the same. He's young, eighteen months and still maturing. Isn't he adorable?

And then there is Boris, the cat.

Boris actually made us like cats. It was our first close encounter with a cat and embarrassingly, through Boris, we heard our first cat purrs. Like a gentle car engine, Gwyn finds it therapeutic.

Cats are quite different from dogs. Unlike dogs, they don't go to you when you call them. They will come to you only when they want to. Like this.

And they're really quite independent creatures. You can come home and have no idea where your cat is. They leave home during the day and come home only when it's dinner or bed time. Here is Boris waiting at the door for us to return from a day out.

The three Bs are gems in the household, adorable and affectionate. Niels and Janette have been terrific hosts. We will definitely stay in touch when our wwoofing ends. :)

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Marvelous Mini O Bag

Thank you Steven and Vivian for the Mini O bags! The bags are awesome.

A compact sized Ortlieb bag for the Brompton has been way overdue. You can imagine how delighted we were when we got our hands on these mini sized wonders. =D

We've got a T-bag. It's great but it's still a touring bag and sometimes you just don't want to lug a big bag around.

The compact Mini O solves the problem.

And.....it's waterproof! Which in a way makes it the ideal camera bag.

Because it was made for the Brompton, the Mini Os come designed to fit the front Brommie mounting block.

What also impressed us was the firmess and rigidity of the Mini O. It takes a definite shape no matter what you put in there.

Don't judge a book by it's cover. Don't judge a mini o bag by it's size!

We've seen an iPad fit in there. Personally, we managed to keep a DSLR, a compact camera, a compact camcorder and there was still quite some room left to play with.

The Mini Os are quite the marvel. If you ride a Brompton, you should certainly consider getting one!