Monday, November 29, 2010


I've had quite a good strike-rate with films recently, so I thought I'd write up what I've seen:

The Social Network - as long as you don't go into this film thinking it was going to be true to life, it was an engrossing yarn. I'm sure that the real story is way more boring than what was depicted here, so it was interesting to see how they engineered conflict and drama where in reality it was probably weeks of boring coding and programming! It's amazing that all of this has happened so recently! They had a great scene at the Henley Regatta which was shot through this weird filter to make it look like a toy town. Really good performances too, I especially liked Andrew Garfield as the deposed co-founder and initial investor - he'd been in a couple of BBC things that I'd liked.

The Ghost Writer - the story (a thinly veiled approximation of Tony Blair getting indicted for war crimes) was really what attracted me but it also had a good cast (especially Olivia Williams and Kim Catrall) and Roman Polanski as the director. Story didn't disappoint and the moody, cold, wet setting on Long Island (actually filmed Denmark or somewhere I think) was suitably claustrophobic. It did get a bit silly and overdramatic in some bits but I did get suitably swept up.

The American - George Clooney and Anton Corbijn, what's not to like! Story itself was a bit average but it was nice and moody, although shocking in bits

Also, what's with all the definitives?

Next up - Harry Potter!


I went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain play at the weekend in Wellington. It was a great fun - the 'orchestra' of eight ukulele players use only their instruments which are different sizes - from a soprano one down to a bass uke (or Buke apparently). It was wonderful to hear how they interwove the harmonies of the song and interpreted different styles. They sang along with most of the songs, cracked jokes, told stories and gave out presents. There was a varied repertoire - 30s jazz and Saint-Seans through The Who right up to modern 'classics' like Teenage Dirtbag. The best bit though was when they got the ukulele players in the audience to get their instruments out (about 100 or so people had theirs with them) and to play along to Ode to Joy - brilliant! Now, where's my ukulele...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Well, next month marks a milestone - 18 months til the big 4-0! I know some of you will be surprised that I'm that old! Anyway, in the best Mhairi tradition, I thought I should write a list of what I want to do before I reach that advanced age. One restriction, as one of my aims is to be in a much better financial situation by then, I don't think I'll be scheduling much exotic travel or expensive activities!

Here's the list I've had in my head for a while
fly in a helicopter (just as a passenger mind!)
learn to knit
learn to drive - ACHIEVED!
buy a car
move to NZ - ACHIEVED!
get a cat
finally learn that ukulele

It's a pretty pedestrian list really - what else do you think I should aim for in the next 18 months?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Leonard Cohen
Originally uploaded by takamatua
Mum and I went to see Leonard Cohen play Christchurch as part of his Unified Heart tour on 3 November. For a 78 year old guy, he's pretty impressive!

I'd never actually seen him in concert before but had heard rave reviews from many sources. Leonard has last visited NZ in January 2009, and he was doing a similar scale of concert this time - the Christchurch concert was at the Westpac Arena (or whatever it's called), the biggest indoor venue in town.

Traffic getting there was very heavy - I was driving but things got to near a standstill very quickly, so we parked the car about 15 minutes walk away from the venue and walked the rest of the way. Only just got there in time to see Bic Runga who played a lovely set with just a bassist accompanying her.

Leonard Cohen must have played for nearly 3 hours. There was one proper intermission and then also a couple of breaks ahead of encores at the end. I'm not a huge fan of his music and don't actually own any but I do know all the popular songs and can appreciate the music well. His band were superb, there was a real French vibe with the accordions and violins, but also a really jazzy feel to everything as well. There were also three female backing sisters - Sharon Robinson who is one of his co-writers, and the Webb sisters. Leonard himself was very nimble, dapper, smooth and dramatic, dropping to his knees to sing and emote on occasion. In summary, there wasn't anything new or surprising but it was a very enjoyable experience and it's always lovely to see a crowd enjoying the music and the show itself.

There's a great tour photo diary at this site.


Union Station, LA
Originally uploaded by MhairiT
Yes, I know this is a photo from 11 months ago, but I had a funny message from someone on Flickr recently. Somehow this chap had found my photo and worked out that he'd taken a photo of that same Christmas tree at Union station on the same day as me. He'd then got on the train, but had ridden it north of LA rather than south as I had done. Small world!

Friday, November 05, 2010


Decided to refresh my blog look - it's had the same template since Day 1 so it's nice to have something new!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


The main attraction for the weekend was the Montana World of Wearable Arts, held at the TSB Arena. WOW started about 20 years ago in Nelson and has grown and moved since then. The whole idea is clothes that are also works of art and they were so spectacular! There were sections for illuminated and glow in the dark clothes, decorated bras. The children's and the open sections were themed (the love of books and circus) but were interpreted so broadly. The show wasn't just about the clothes though, it was full of dancers, singers, acrobats, even men dressed in Tron costumes! It just didn't stop for two hours!

Loved it all and will definitely be back next year, luckily I live here! Wellington was full of groups of women for the two weeks of the show, all out dining and shopping, very amusing.

Check out the winners here.


We visited the Weta Cave in Mirimar after brunch - it's been set up as a visitor center next to Weta Workshops. It's very small (but free!) with some exhibitions of models and props from the movies that Weta have worked on. There's also a little film that you watch about all their services and activities - lots of stuff I didn't know about! It looks like a fun place to work! The day we visited there had been a fire at one of the buildings, and there was also still a lot of uncertainty over whether The Hobbit would go ahead due to industrial action.


I had a wonderful weekend with both Petrina and Sue visiting for the World of Wearable Art show. Pea could only get away for 24 hours so we had an action-packed day, starting off with brunch at Scorching Bay. It was a gorgeously sunny day (although not warm enough for swimming!) and we sat right beside the sea to catch up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

doubly visited!

Originally uploaded by MhairiT
My friends Annie and Charlotte came and visited me for a couple of days this weekend. Annie lives in Melbourne at the moment and Charlotte is still living in London. They were both back for family birthdays so came up to visit me for a couple of nights.

We had a couple of brilliant meals - at Foxglove on the waterfront, and at Duke Carvell's off Cuba Street for tapas. We were also tourists and went up the cable car and to the Museum of City and Sea. There is a fascinating exhibit on the Wahine disaster at the Museum - horrifying that it happened right in the harbour !

Monday, September 06, 2010


Originally uploaded by MhairiT
I'd gone down to Christchurch for the weekend to have some driving practice and also to babysit Tadhg while Fiona and John went to a party. Those plans were all put asunder when we were hit by a 7.1 earthquake at 4.35am.

I must have been in a really deep sleep, and I wasn't even in the bed I normally sleep in when I'm staying there (Tadhg was having the first night in his new bedroom) as I just felt so disorientated when I woke up. It was pitch dark and everything was shaking from side to side really vigorously. It went on for about a minute but I didn't feel scared, I more felt pinned to the bed and stunned! There must have been stuff falling around the house so I'm glad I didn't get up during the shaking as stuff would have hit me - some paintings fell off the walls, my bedside lamp fell etc. I also don't remember much noise, just a bit of squeaking as the house moved back and forth!

As soon as the shaking stopped, I leapt out of bed and ran across to Tadhg's room - he was kind of awake and half-crying so I scooped him up and got under the door frame. Fiona and John were about 5 seconds behind me. Thank goodness Tadhg has a battery-powered night light as all the power had gone off and otherwise it was pitch dark. We ended up staying under the door frames for about another 90 mins as the ground continued to shake quite violently - the shakes were about 5.5 or so immediately afterwards.

John ran and got the torch and the radio. The scariest thing was when we switched on the radio 10 minutes after the quake and the announcer said that a quake had hit the central North Island. That was terrifying, to think of a quake that big where we were but potentially much worse elsewhere in the country. Thankfully they corrected themselves soon after.

John and Fiona's house wasn't badly damaged - the pantry and kitchen really was the worst of it where food and containers had fallen off the shelves and crashed to the ground. A fish sauce bottle had smashed and so there was brown, smelly liquid everywhere. Some glasses were smashed. Also, some pictures had come off the walls and the glass had smashed. But overall, they were really lucky.

The shocks died back down a bit but there was still no power. We got in touch with Mum and Dad to check they were all ok, and went back to bed. I couldn't sleep and there were constant aftershocks to keep us alert!

Once the sun had come up, we got up and had some (cold) food. The power didn't come back on til after lunch, but we had to conserve water and boil drinking water for a few days as there was a bit of a concern about contaminated water supplies from burst sewage pipes. Fiona and John had just had their sewage pipes replaced a couple of weeks ago which is actually very lucky as this could have caused some serious problems.

We ventured out for a walk later on in the day but stayed close to home. It's much easier to ignore aftershocks when you're walking around! Fiona's neighbourhood got off really lightly, but there were a few toppled chimneys. A brick house close by will probably have to come down and a couple of shops at the end of the road were destroyed.

I didn't see much of the other damage first-hand, just a few damaged buildings and the Canterbury Draught beer factory on the way to the airport on Monday morning. Most of the damaged central city was out of bounds while I was there and I didn't feel like going out to where there were really damaged houses.

The aftershocks continued through the 48 hours afterwards I was there so I felt a bit on edge. Luckily I could go back to Wellington which ironically felt much safer! Fiona and family went down to Timaru for a few days, and I think slept a lot better there.