Poirot and Less

Last weekend we went to see David Suchet, the inimitable Hercule Poirot, in his one-man show Poirot and More. In the first half, we were treated to a bunch of witty anecdotes following the friendly prompts of an interviewer, but honestly it was a bit underwhelming. His life before becoming an actor was comfortable enough, and he made a decent career right from the start, and then found a role that millions of people loved…. including me.

In the second half, he gave us a sort of acting masterclass for laymen… notes about how he prepares, how he looks at and listens to a script, that sort of thing. He knocked out a bunch of speeches and that was pretty good, but I did doze a bit I’m afraid.

Maybe my evening mirrored my biggest criticism of the evening… i was pretty comfortable when I walked in, and nothing really happened to change that. Makes for a less interesting blog.

So, I went out looking to see what other people thought and found a great review. This writer achieves a much richer emotional experience than I did from pretty similar source material (except our seats were really comfy). So, enjoy the ride with her, it’s more interesting!

Waitangi Day 2020

Waitangi Day

Chuffed! NZ has its own Google Doodle celebrating Waitangi Day today, yay! The Prime Minister would have made this announcement herself, but she was busy cooking breakfast for the people gathered at the Treaty Grounds for the annual celebration. Because she’s awesome like that.

jacinda

Operatic Sydney Busker

This woman had a great set of pipes and a good sound system, so you faintly heard the music a block away. I couldn’t tell if she was a truly good singer or not, but she was certainly good at tugging on the heartstrings!

Action Man

That, my fellow Americans, and my formerly European friends in the still for the moment United Kingdom, is Action Man.

Action Man was G.I. Joe in other markets and has quite a history. How he ended up wearing this rather unconventional collection of accessories (outside of the highly sought after Action For Men Rainbow NightClub play set) is unknown.

We met him on the way in to tour an open house that we were already leery about… would a large complex of townhouses we can afford be a bit too noisy and full of kids for us? Yes, said Action Man, it will. It most certainly will.

I can see clearly now

We rang in the New Year with sparklers and actually stayed awake long enough to see the fireworks from the Sky Tower. Here’s hoping for literal and metaphorical 20/20 vision in the coming year.

Franklin Road 2019

Auckland’s Christmas decoration capital did not disappoint on Christmas Eve…

From minimalist modern…

to full-on Griswold…

Fine art…

to a really eerily lifelike Rowan Atkinson…

And some residents who only do the minimum required to stay on the street…

And finally there were the houses that tried to remind us we’re not in the northern hemisphere any more…

Merry Christmas 2019!!!

Red, sure. But also pink and yellow and purple and white and…

This past weekend was the annual Parnell Rose Festival. Although this is our third year living just up the street, we hadn’t made it to the festival before. One detail I’d never noticed before was how the big container ship unloading cranes loom in the background. It’s kind of cool about Auckland that a lot of things are close like that, but it manages not to feel crowded.

Anyway… back to the festival. The roses are at their peak, which was just lovely. The festival brings out dozens, maybe hundreds of people smelling, photographing, and enjoying the flowers.

And hundreds more bring their kids for games and face painting and so on.

And thousands more who crowded into the food truck area to stand in line for overpriced and dubious quality eats. Go figure.

Santa’s last stand

This giant Santa has been threatened with retirement for over 20 years, but they say this is really positively his last season.

It has been voted “creepiest Christmas decoration ” in numerous polls.

All fawked up

New Zealanders love their fireworks, and there are lots of big civic displays. But private fireworks is a different story. You can only buy them one week a year, leading up to Guy Fawkes Day on the 5th of November. You can set them off anytime, but most people go big on Bonfire Night, as it’s often called.

While Australia and California and the Amazon burn, Auckland’s wet climate means that this is about as bad as it gets… reason #423 to live here.

Diwali lunch

It was a treat to join a bunch of my team for Diwali celebration the other day. Lots of people dressed up, as you can see. We ate at the same restaurant I ate at my very first day of work here.

Tawapou Farm Community Planting Day

Tawapou Farm is my ex-boss Tom’s family place. A few years ago they decided to put the land into a conservation trust and (over a decade or more) restore the native plants that had been destroyed by 100 years of cattle and pine tree farming.

Now, they have a community planting day every year to further that cause. Tom’s brother, who runs a large plant nursery on the property, does all the prep work (including killing off all the existing grasses), and they put out the call for volunteers. We were replanting between a pretty little stream and a new road they’ve put in to get to the children’s homes on the coastal ridge.

The Orca Research lady had first world conservationist problems… she had to arrange special permission to park down by the work site because there had been an orca sighting in the bay and she was on call to rush off and document any repeats.

Tom’s partner Isabella’s daughter with her beau… is this a pose they might repeat some day???

I don’t know how many people actually showed up today… maybe 80-100? But many hands certainly lightened the work. We planted over 5,000 shrubs and trees in under three hours.

After, we were treated to a great lunch and a long talk about bird habitat management (which mostly means killing rodents by any means necessary).

Kiwis feel about their gumboots the way many Americans feel about cowboy boots, and there many on display. And as with cowboy boots, some looked more authentic than others.

We are sore and that will get worse tomorrow. But it was a fun morning of community and I think it will be a long-term memory of doing something that feels unequivocally “right.”

And then, the long walk from the hotel to the bar… life is good.

Air time

One of the people who also arrived early for this morning’s flight to Christchurch was Gwen, pictured above. She’d been traveling for 36 hours following a cruise in Scandinavia. Missed a connection. A bit wired up. Lost her luggage.

She’s written a book about her life, reviewed above. Does a lot of motivational speaking. She took my card and said she’ll send me a copy, here’s hoping!

On top of Mt. Eden

We got out on the tandem on Anzac Day and rode up to the top of Mt. Eden. Actually we had to walk up the last part.

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for Prince William’s appearance at the big ceremony later. We rode by the venue, which was heavily guarded, at least by NZ standards, in the wake of the Christchurch attacks. Weird to see the relatively scruffy and usually friendly NZ police with rifles in a ready position. Probably even weirder for the cops.

HealthLink 25th Anniversary

I was selected to be the emcee for the big anniversary gala celebration we held a few weeks ago. My qualifications included my sexy American accent and the perception that I could hold my liquor responsibly enough to get all the speakers up and down in order and on time. Success, but I’m not giving up my day job. There are some professional photos and videos on the HealthLink LinkedIn page if you care to look.

Some of my team looking sharp. Our normal dress code is pretty relaxed so it was great to see them all dolled up. There are five countries represented in this shot, but if we had a tug of war, India would win.

The event was held in the grand lobby of the Auckland Museum, and every detail was planned by our marketing team… amazingly well done. We had a powhiri and haka done by the museum’s in-house Māori group.

The party was also a farewell for founder and former CEO Tom Bowden, who has become a great friend to us.

But it was also a coming-out party for new CEO Michelle Creighton, who was an inspired choice to lead the firm into a new era that will see greater competition and a need for lots of diplomacy.

Tom’s partner Isabella, his daughter Catherine, and Lee. It’s possible that one or two drinks had been served by this point, meaning that getting all three to focus on the camera was a challenge.

It was a great evening, I was proud to be part of it.

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

We had a nice tour of Singapore’s giant garden domes. I think they have to keep the plants indoors because it’s too hot outside.

Giant indoor waterfall

Cherry blossoms

Flowers

All the pictures above are things you’d expect to find in a botanical garden.

More surprising … downright surreal in fact… was the All-Stars of Cosplay convention.

I am a little uncomfortable around a lot of this cosplay stuff, to be honest. But this family of tourists was all in and didn’t share my queasiness, and it was cool to watch mom and kid having such a good time.

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