Friday, October 28, 2011

Steampunk Capital

Oamaru is the the self-proclaimed steampunk headquarters of New Zealand, although I've previously mostly associated it with the famous white Oamaru stone, good cheeses and petrol station stops on the way elsewhere. This is really embarrassing, but I had actually never stopped in the historic Victorian part of town before last week - and as a direct result of my ignorance, never thought of Oamaru as a particularly beautiful or interesting place. Boy was I wrong.

An exceptionally well-dressed and amiable local.

Then we stopped at Annie's Victorian Tea Rooms - a place which would have featured in my fantasies had I ever heard of it before. Just look at that menu! (and those prices)

An elderly woman played equally old music on the piano, without music sheets, and when she got up to leave everyone clapped quietly and thanked her. She didn't work there.

Above: one of the waiters. Below: the best scones of my life. Paradise: Annie's is your name.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crush on a Tory

While Rory Stewart writes about his "uphill battle against the Afghanistan intervention", I thought I would write about my own frustrating and ethically admirable battle: my battle against having a crush on a tory. Until Rory Stewart came along, I have been like the Berlusconi of the feminist left - claiming that 'left-wing' men (I know, the 'wings' are stupid political terms) are way hotter than those gross conservatives with their spongey skin, soulless eyes and regularly tweeted private parts (I know, Anthony Weiner is a democrat - but your 'centre-left' is my 'centre-right' America).

But then, this:


Hats off to any feminist babes out there who look at that, watch his ted talk and read his horrifying curriculum vitae, and still feel unmoved by those beautiful, entirely soulful eyes. This may be one of the biggest celebrity crushes of my adult life and it is on someone who supports David Cameron - i.e. not even a smart conservative. The awful kind. The neo-liberal, slash and burn economics, champagne swilling kind.

p.s. his website actually does put me off slightly. SLIGHTLY (Also, only because I find pictures of grown men holding lambs disgusting, not because of the politics).

Anyway, for those of you who can't be bothered reading the ridiculous life story of my political crush or watching his frankly inspirational ted talk, I've prepared an example of what it would be like if Rory and I were dating:

The scene: winding down after a day motorbiking around Sumatra, a romantic dinner in an obscure little restaurant, where Rory orders in Bahasa (because he speaks it fluently).

Rory: (to me, in English) "Boy, I'm so glad Samoa has finally joined the WTO. Free trade is really the only way forward - I can't believe how protectionist some of these states can be, and for what?! Don't these people want development?"

Me: "Rory, we've talked about this so many times and it makes me really upset. I'm so angry I would throw my glass of red wine on you right now, if I wasn't so fond of that shirt you're wearing..."

Rory: "Oh honey, I love it when you're angry! It reminds me of that time I walked across Afghanistan."

Me: ...

Double Rainbows in Doubtful Sound

I'm not sure I've gotten around to bragging about my job yet, but here it is: my job is looking after American exchange students, planning trips for them and taking them on said trips. It is awesome.

Recently we went on an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound - an area of Fiordland inaccessible by road. Below you can see an excerpt from my reactions:

Above: 'Blanket Bay Hotel' - a popular place for fishermen to drop in. Below: the scene of many photographs and paintings, by many idiots hopelessly trying to depict the beauty of Fiordland in two dimensions.