Thursday, 25 December 2008

Spending Christmas eve with friends (24th December 2008)

It's Christmas eve and I'm still working! Good news is that I'm working from home (ah yes, lucky me, I get to work from home 1 day a week) and we only have to work till noon. I needed the spare hours to pack my bags for my 3-week trip to Australia - I'm flying out early morning tomorrow and have not yet packed! Argh!!

Finally, I'm done with my packing - now I can go out to catch up with some friends before everyone disappears for their year-end holidays! Caught up with Rachel, Colm, Fran and Flo for dinner around 7.30pm at Southern Cross Bar & Restaurant. Rachel brought along Santa hats and I had one to wear during dinner. Hehe, cute :) This was the first time I actually had a meal here. Me and the boys went for the stonegrill rump steak - I was having one of those steak-craving days and this sounded wonderful. What is stonegrill? Basically we cook our own meat to our liking on a slab of heated volcanic granite. Rather unique and interesting an experience - give it a go if you haven't.

Haha, our dear Rachel decided to skip dinner and ordered dessert first! Yes, life's too short - always eat dessert first :P Photos of our dinner at Southern Cross: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157612796484588/detail/

Left the gang around 9pm as I had Jo's Christmas eve party to attend. Have an awesome holiday everyone and we'll catch up in the new year!

Quick stop to pick Chris up and off we headed to Jo's place in Newtown for more partying. It has become tradition that I would spent my Xmas eve with the Soares sisters so this year was no exception. Lots of familiar faces were already there by the time I arrived - I flitted around her house catching up with friends. So nice to see everyone :) Bubbly was flowing, lots of food, dancing and chit-chat.

Stuck around till the countdown to Christmas and left shortly after. Needed to get a few hours sleep before my flight at 6am. Photos taken at Jo's party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157612890037682/detail/

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Drinks at Southern Cross Bar with the Gafieira clan (23rd December 2008)

1 more sleep till Xmas eve! So not in the mood to do any work and just feeling exhausted with a sore throat brewing...hmm...It was slow and quiet day at work. Kalwant left us this morning - feeling somewhat sad at the moment :'(

Caught up with Kevin for coffee - it has been a few years since I saw this old friend of mine who now lives in Auckland. Was nice to see and hear that he and family are well. Really, Kev, I would not have thought you would settle to be a family man but I guess when you meet the right woman (and have a kid together), even the notorious player would change. Hahaha... :P Was great to catch up with you, bro!

James obviously also twiddling thumbs at work and was already out drinking with his colleagues since noon! It was a nice sunny day with a bit of a breeze so the two of us decided to make the most of the sun and took a walk around the CBD area.

Gee, this must be a day of the boys! Caught up with Damien briefly over our leftovers for dinner at my place. He had just returned from a tramping trip and was off to Auckland for the holidays tomorrow so this was the last catch up before we all head off to different places. Have an awesome time with family and will see you when I get back!

At 8.30pm, I headed over to Southern Cross Bar to meet Ron, Helbert and Awa for drinks. Awa had rounded us up for drinks tonight as she missed out on our end of term drinks last week. Few other friends cames to join us - Luciano, Janet, Paul and even drink master, James, who was still looking sober when he turned up after drinking the whole day. James, James....

Oh my god, you guys! You didn't have to give Helbert and I presents!! Oh, NOW I know why - Christian (who is currently somewhere in Europe), Ron and Awa gave both Helbert and I a bottle of wine each, together with a handmade card and printed shirt. Helbert and I cracked up in laughter when we saw the card and shirt! The monkeys took photos of us taken over the last few weeks and put them together for the card and shirt print - kudos to them for creativity and great humour. Man, people would think that Helbert beats the students up with his crutch while I scream when the boys don't dance correctly (hmm, maybe I do scream...hehe). Thanks guys - really awesome gifts! Photos taken tonight:


Helbert and I showing off our gifts from the rascals

Me and Ron


Awa and Janet


Luciano

I left around 10.30pm - was just so sleepy and still have lots to do tomorrow. Haven't even packed for the trip and I still have a Xmas party to attend, gifts to wrap, laundry to sort out blah, blah. Oh, and did I mention that I only have flights and 2 nights accommodation sorted for my 25-day trip in Australia starting Thursday? Yep, the trip is going to be one hell of an adventure!

Monday, 22 December 2008

One last catch up with Kalwant (22nd December 2008)

Having a really slow day at work and half the team aren't here. Found myself going in and out the office just to soak up some sun. At 5.30pm, headed over with Kalwant and friends to The Malthouse for one final catch up before our girl leaves NZ tomorrow. So sad to see her go but we are all happy for her to start her new life in Perth. And who knows, she might be back before we even know it ;). Photos taken at The Malthouse: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611472860803/detail/

I'm going to miss you so much, girl! Best wishes and promise to keep in touch!!

I wasn't planning to stick around for long but ended up back at Kalwant's place for drinks and pizza till 10pm. My god, I've been eating and drinking almost everyday and it's only the start of the holiday season!

Afternoon with Adrian (21st December 2008)

After brunch, I headed back to the city centre to meet Adrian and we went into town to do some clothes shopping together (for him, really), which was fun. For a guy, he really is into his shopping and we spent 3 hours hopping from shop to shop in town untill he finally got tired and surrendered. Hahaha!

Stopped by New World Metro to pick up some knick-knacks for our picnic today. Hmm, I'm not too sure how he's planning to do this given the bad weather outside. "As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so sunshine is in the mind of the believer" he texted me earlier. Right, we'll just see what tricks you have up your sleeves this time...

Picked up coffee (oh yeah, we needed one) and free chilli chocolates (you get a free piece of chocolate of your choice with every coffee purchase) at Butlers Chocolate Cafe on Willis St. Yay, another first for me! The lady serving us entrusted Adrian with our chocs to which he left on the counter (he was so tired today that he kept leaving stuff and I had to remind him to pick them up). And he left the chocs at the shop! 'You said you can be trusted with the chocs!' said the lady, arms akimbo. I laughed! Oh, Adrian, Adrian - he just makes me laugh and smile :)

We ended up back in his apartment where we cut up the cheeses, set out with avocado, olives, crackers and grapes he bought on a chopping board. Ah, now I know why he was hunting for non-pip orange juice earlier - it was to mix with the champagne he had chilled in the fridge. We found a sunny spot indoors where we had classical music playing while we chatted and laughed over our little picnic. The simple joys in life...I had fun :) Photos of our picnic:



Thanks for the awesome afternoon, Adrian! Look forward to more fun catch-ups :)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Brunch at Maranui Surf Club (21st December 2008)

Was up at 8.30am to sort out stuff in my room. What a mess my room was with piles of clothes here and stacks of paper there. Guess that's what happens when I'm hardly at home - just chuck things and off I go again. Naughty! Was very happy though to find Radio Active playing Brazilian music again this Sunday morning and it was great accompaniment as I did my work.

Around 9.30am, I left the house for brunch with friends at Maranui Surf Club. This was the gang's last get-together before we all head off in different directions for our year-end holidays. Hmm, the weather ain't very nice but the place was PACKED! Good thing Kim came in early to secure a table for the group or we would have to wait ages!! This place is indeed popular...

Poor Colm had to brave the rain and wind and cycled down to brunch. Next time, ring me up and I could go pick you up, man! Dribs and drabs the others piled in. Only a small group of us today actually - guess some of them had a big night out with Kalwant last night (it was Kalwant's last weekend in town) so there were only 8 of us: Tash, Rach, Flo, Sarah, Kim, me, Debs and Colm. Had their fried eggs on organic sourdough toast for $7 this morning. I have to try the pancakes and milkshake next time - tried a bit from the others and they were yum :) Photos taken this morning:


Rach and Flo sharing a milkshake - aww...


Some brave souls out there kite-surfing in Santa suits



Colm had just got here and having a coffee to warm up



Kim showing off her yummy fruit pancakes


Group photo of us (l-r): Tash, Rach, Flo, Sarah, Kim, me, Debs and Colm

Have an awesome Christmas and New Years everyone and we'll catch up when we all get back!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Roda de Samba & dinner at Tay's (20th December 2008)

Slept in till 10am and headed out at 11 for more last minute shopping. At 2pm, I went to meet Ron at Southern Cross Bar for Roda de Samba. Roda de Samba is another new Brazilian band in Wellington made up of musicians and singers from various other Brazilian bands. The weather was raining so heavily today but didn't deter us from going to the bar to enjoy bossa novas and old Brazilian classics.

Ron, as usual, was late. Oh well, no problem - he was just missing out on the wonderful music to dance to! I had several gafieira dances with Helbert, Luciano and Paul who were there. I danced so much and could feel my shirt soaked through from all the heat dancing. I was tired but feeling good from so many hours dancing last night, and more dancing today! Poor Helbert - his knee was still hurting yet he wanted to dance. Paul managed to take photos of us dancing, with one of him holding on to his knee! Ouch...

I flitted around to chat with other friends who were there in between dances. Ron finally turned up in time for the free feijoada lunch. Now THIS I didn't expect - I was here to catch up with Ron but FREE FEIJOADA??? I'm in heaven! I LOVE feijoada!! Me, Helbert and Ron were so cheeky and went back to queue for seconds hehe...Photos taken this afternoon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611544052630/detail/

Left around 5pm for home to shower and was out again at 6pm to Uncle David's for an early Christmas dinner. Oh no, eating too much, again! Well, it is expected when any of us regulars go to the Tay's for dinner :) It's so nice to have a regular group of people that we catch up for a big dinner once every 2 months or so and update each other with the events in our lives. Mervyn and Joanne weren't around this time as they are travelling in South East Asia. Regulars like me, Jane and Urwin, Russell, Pansy and Joshua, were there tonight, and we had a few other friends of Uncle David and Auntie Daphnne join us. Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611538305328/detail/

I often get teased by them for coming to dinner on my own - I'm the only one of the group (not including Mervyn, Joanne and Jolynn) who's still single and often the tease (and sometimes, envy) of the others. Well, I'm waiting for you guys to make the introductions to your single, eligible male friends ;P

Yawn, I'm so tired...Was home by 11pm as my eyes were about to close. Thanks for another wonderful dinner and catch up, Uncle David and Auntie Daphnne! We ate so much and still had leftovers to take home!

Last night at Latinos Bar (19th December 2008)

Honestly, I'm so not in the head space for work. My head is all woosy from lack of sleep and Christian's drink concoction last night. Most colleagues have started to leave for their year-end holidays and the office was so quiet. We had a restructure of teams today so had to move desks. Photos taken of the silly antics in the office today (well, it's Friday...):


Scully and Jonesy redecorating the Xmas tree on top of Scully's desk

The boys had pushed the desk and the orange screen to block
Chris (our manager) from getting to his desk - naughty!


Let's see how Sambo will get to his desk! :P


Took a walk around town after work to check out the shops. Found a few items of my liking - gee, when was the last time I shopped?? Saw these kids playing Xmas songs around Lambton Quay:



Ooo...I found a really nice black dress for tonight's salsa party at Latinos Bar. I hope it wouldn't 'kill' too many people at the party...:P

A quick nap before meeting Ron for dinner. Somehow, plans changed and instead of having dinner with Ron, I had dinner with Colm at The Craftsman. De-ja-vu - I was here with Sam, Jeremy and Nicky for work drinks yesterday....I've never had a meal here before and when I saw steak on the menu, I just had to have it. Colm and I ended up having the same stuff - beer and 300g sirloin steak. Hehehe, I'm a boyish girl - I like my beers and meat ;) Cost us $28 per person which was reasonable for a bar meal. We chatted and laughed over the events of our lives, then headed to The Malthouse for another drink before going to Latinos Bar to meet up with our friends.

Latinos Bar was absolutely packed tonight! It has been a very long time since I last saw it packed from wall to wall where there was little space to move and everyone danced really close with lots of toe-stepping and elbowing. In between dances, I had to head to the entrance to get some fresh air and cool down - it was just too hot and humid inside!

I danced SO much and took lots of photos of this place. Lots of memories here over the years and it was really sad to see it close down. It was the very last time us salsa dancers will dance here - the owner decided to wind up the business for good and none of us have heard of anyone planning to buy over the place. I wonder where will the Wellington crowd dance salsa on Fridays after this...Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611384876575/detail/

Friday, 19 December 2008

Social dancing @ Chez Brandon (18th December 2008)

It was the last Thursday before Xmas and Helbert suggested we should get all the gafieira students together for a small social dancing session to end the term. So instead of a normal Thursday class at Ron's place, tonight was just dancing for fun - yay!

Helbert and Lake came to pick me up from home around 7pm. You would not believe this but I locked myself out of the house! I practically watched the front door close on me and went 'NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!'. Oh my f%^king god - how am I getting home later? Priscilla was in Malaysia and Andy was working. I'm hoping Andy will get my text and loan me his key. Urgh, Angelica - how could you do this??! And I was in my flip-flops, a singlet and short skirt, which I had to make do with at the party at Ron's.

Oh, the boys were so nice - they all took off their shoes so I didn't feel left out! So sweet :)

Andy, you are my life saver! My flatmate is so AWESOME - he dropped off the key at home, hidden in a secret place so I could get into the house. Thank you, thank you! I owe you one!

The get-together ended up being a drinking fest as the majority were boys. We joked and laughed so much! It didn't bother me that we didn't end up dancing socially as much as we would have liked. Took a lift home with Victor around 11pm - I wasn't sure if I could trust Helbert's driving after he had THAT many beers...I was somewhat tipsy myself after drinking the super strong mojito concoction Christian made me - oo, I think I might feel it in the head tomorrow...Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611384370035/detail/

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Dinner with Adrian @ Seoul House (17th December 2008)

Caught up with Adrian this evening for dinner and he was feeling like Korean so we headed over to Seoul House on Dickson St tonight. Another place I've not been - another tick on my done list! And it was such a nice day too to walk over with the sun still out shining at 7pm!

We had 2 mains to share - he was craving seafood and noodles so got the Seafood Noodle Soup (interestingly they only have noodle soups and not stir-fry noodles) while I had the Spicy Squid Hot Plate with rice. Adrian had been here before and apparently, the lady boss who takes the order gets quite anal if a table only orders 1 dish to share (there was a 2 dish minimum per table policy stated clearly in the menu). Mischevious him just wanted to see the look on the lady's face so when he placed the order, he started with "We are getting the Seafood Noodle Soup to share..." and took a pause - you could see the look of disgust on the lady's face! She looked as if she was about tell us off!! I knew he was being naughty winding the lady up so jumped in and placed my order. "Did you see that?" he said to me with a grin after the lady boss left our table. Naughty! :P

Like all Korean restaurants, we got several complimentary side dishes to share, including kimchi and muk (made from grains, beans, or nut starch such as buckwheat, sesame, and acorns, which have a jelly-like consistency). For an Asian, I'm really bad at using chopsticks and having Korean chopsticks, which are medium-length stainless-steel tapered rods, with a flat rectangular cross section, and that made it even more challenging for me to eat my meal. Adrian decided to put my chopsticks skill to the test and said if I could pick up a whole piece of muk and put it into my mouth, he would give me $5. You are ON! Spent the next 5-10 minutes struggling with my chopsticks and not getting very much of the slippery muk that just slides through or breaks into smaller pieces. Argh! So annoying!! Even more with Adrian laughing at my attempts. Hmph! You wait...

Ah-ha! I FINALLY picked up a whole piece of muk after watching how Adrian did it and yum, it tasted good :) That 5 bucks is mine, Adrian!!

Wow, the bowl of noodle soup can serve 4! It was massive!! And my spicy squid was absolutely yummy! We chatted and laughed over dinner - it was most enjoyable and fun :) And we felt quite full after finishing both mains. Cost us $14 per person for our meal tonight which was reasonable for the amount we got. We should do this again and try some other dishes next time we come here! Definitely recommend you try this place if you haven't.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Fun-filled weekend with friends (13th - 14th December 2008)

What a gorgeous day it is today! Gotta make the most of it :) Had brunch with Damien at Maranui Surf Club Cafe in Lyall Bay on Saturday morning. Bumped into Ron and his Capoeira mates on the walk back to the car from the cafe and stuck around for a bit to chat and watched them perform before Damien dropped me off in town.

What’s up with the traffic today? The traffic was crazy and the cars were bumper to bumper on Riddiford St in Newtown. Damien and I were chatting animatedly when suddenly we heard the sound of metal crushing – he hit the car in front of us! Oh my god. Luckily, no damage was done to the car in front (and it was a posh car too) and the driver was rather calm about the whole thing when Damien got out of the car to apologise. Damien’s station wagon had a little dent on the front bumper. Opsie…I think I’m going to shut up while you concentrate on the wheel for now…which only lasted less than 2 minutes and we cracked up laughing at what happened! That was just random and thank god nothing serious happened to us or the other vehicle.

Thanks for a lovely brunch and dropping me off, D! Around 2pm, I caught up with Chris for a few beers out in the sun at The Port Café at Chaffers Dock. Ah, this is the life, sitting out in the sun in good company over drinks with a view overlooking the city harbour and skyline…hmm…

Adrian popped over to join us and we (me and Adrian) left for a coffee at Cubita shortly. Was nice catching up with you, Chris! Catch you again soon. Adrian, the cheek, made me buy coffee, again! Not that it bothered me but he was just being a real cheeky about it all - hmph! :P We headed over to Tiger Eye Beads on Cuba Mall after our coffee where we spent the next hour or so making his good friend, Emma, a dainty necklace for Christmas. Aww, how sweet! I had lots of fun just watching and helping him (even taking photos and teasing him) with his necklace design and making it up. A very unique way of making a personal gift for someone special, I say :) I’m sure Emma will love it!

More chit-chat and laughs over drinks in the last bit of sun for the day at The General Practitioner on Willis St. It was our first time at this bar that had lots of surgical tools hung around – it was once a surgery in the early 1900s which was how it adopted the name. Another tick of firsts for me! And since it was the Christmas season, we were given crackers to pop as well - cool!

I had an awesome day out with the boys :) Photos taken out and about town today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611203772955/detail/

Sunday was another amazing day and Damien suggested we take a drive up to Otaki where he was going to pick up a chilli tree. Sure, I wouldn’t mind tagging along :)

The drive to Penray Gardens in Otaki was awesome – gorgeous coastal views on a beautiful sunny day. I’ve never been to Penray Gardens. It was a vegetable and fruit orchard/farm where you picked your own vegetable and fruits. Hmm, guess it wasn’t chilli season yet so no trees for Damien. Instead, we each grabbed a plastic box at the counter and headed to the strawberry fields to pick our own boxful of strawberries. Hehe, it was SO much fun picking my own fruit – the best, huge and succulent berries where hidden in between the leaves so it was like looking for hidden treasures! Simple joys in life :) There was a rules board when you first enter the field and you were allowed to try 1 strawberry but no eating in the fields. Cost $5.95 per kg and we brought back 1 kilo of strawberries each which we started devouring all the way back to Wellington. Yum!

Took the scenic route back to Wellington and a short stop to check out the view of Kapiti Coast at the viewing point. Thanks for having me come along, Damien – I had fun! Photos taken on our outing today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611204235817/detail/

Back home for a short rest and out again at 3pm to Rachel’s place in Brooklyn for a BBQ. A quick stop to grab some beer, meat for the barbie and picked up Adrian in town who tagged along to the BBQ with me. Most of the Raro gang were already at Rachel’s, chilling out in the sun over drinks.

Wellington sure is small – I didn’t think Adrian would know anyone at the BBQ but it turned out Adrian and Flo knew each other from previous work events!

It was a nice, relaxing afternoon spent catching up with the gang. Exactly how I would like my amazing weekend to end :) Gotta love my life and my wonderful friends! Hung out till 7.30pm then off home to unwind before the week ahead. Photos taken at the BBQ: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611278945506/detail/

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Kalwant's farewell party (12th December 2008)

It’s Friday again – yay! Caught up with Sonja and Erik for a drink at Chow on Tory St. The two were about to leave for their trip to Western Australia so this was the last catch up before they take off for a few weeks.

Left the German couple after 1 beer to meet up with Ron at Molly Malones. He was out and about with his friends on a pub crawl and asked me to meet him in town to escort him to James’ house where Kalwant was having her farewell party. The days are just passing by so quickly and only another week to go before Kalwant leaves Wellington for Perth. Sigh...

It was only 10pm when we arrived at James’ place on Webb St and many people were tipsy already! Girls Kalwant and Dvita were in no frame of mind to strangle Ron for his mischief on Facebook as they were in their own world…hehe…damn, I was SO looking forward to see Ron get beaten up ;P As usual, I’ve got my camera handy to take all evidence of the night’s events. Lots of funny photos from our silly antics and at some point, I was chasing Mark around the house because he ran off with my camera!

Salsadrome was on at the Webb St studios so a few of us salsa dancers walked next door for a few dances. Normally, Salsadrome is held at the Wellington Performing Arts Centre on Vivian St but shifted to Webb St for the summer months. Sure felt odd dancing in the dance studio – somewhat small and felt more like a dance practice than social dancing. For about 45 minutes, I was on the dance floor dancing non-stop! Steve was dancing with me, pulling out moves shaking me like I was a rag doll. It was cool but I would probably feel the pain on my neck tomorrow…

Back over next door to Kalwant’s party. Friends were scattered upstairs in James’ living room crooning their lungs out on SingStar while others were in the garage downstairs dancing to Felix’s DJ-ing. A small group of us (Kelly, Colm, Dvita, Kalwant and me) headed into town to boogie some more with Damien and his friends till 2am. Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611277107288/detail/

Friday, 12 December 2008

Secret Santa & a fish funeral (12th December 2008)

Secret Santa is a holiday tradition in most of the places I've worked in NZ which everyone in the team or department are randomly assigned other colleagues to whom they anonymously give a gift. And the BI team aren't an exception! We had our gifts put underneath our office Xmas tree collected into a Santa bag, and over morning tea, the presents were given to each team member by Chris. Oh you should see some of the gifts - bummer, should have taken my camera to work! What a laugh we had!! Luke, now very well-known to be the boozer in the team, was given a huge bottle of beer; Scully was given a pair of cushioned handcuffs (just look at the glee in his eyes!); Chris had a toy gun which shoots rubber bands, and the rest of us had assorted gifts ranging from shot glasses (I got those) to bracelets to bicycle attachments.

Oh my, my, Scully, what are you doing??? He managed to cuff himself with his arms behind the back of the chair while we were having our usual Friday team leads meeting and he knew the others would take the opportunity to 'torture' him - Nicky, Jonesy and Camila got whiteboard markers and started to draw on Scully's face! Red lipstick, black whiskers, a kiss on one cheek and a heart shape on the forehead...and he's still struggling to disentangle himself! Oh, we just cracked up laughing!!

We also had to farewell a staff member today, Ronaldo II, Andrew's goldfish, found dead this morning (last year around this time, Ronaldo I committed suicide by jumping out of the fish bowl and now this!). Sam came to my desk with a glass with Ronaldo II in it and we decided to give him a proper funeral then inform the whole team:
Sam's email obituary read: Ronaldo (No. 2) RIP. 2008-2008. "Even though I swim through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your toilet brush and your alcohol sanitizer, they comfort me". Please spare a thought for Andrew and Ashvin at this time. As that's $7 they have to spend to replace him with Ronaldo III :(

Let's all bow our heads down for a moment of silence...you can hear only individuals burst into laughter at their own desks...Our Fridays at work are usually like this with this crazy bunch :) Hehe...

I need to nap before heading out tonight to Kalwant's farewell party. Woe is me my bestie is leaving for Perth! Sobs - you must keep in touch and visit! Going to catch up with a few friends prior then head over with Ron. Ron needed my protection as he had very naughtily put up photos of Dvita on Facebook which she had told us all not to (oh, but we must for a good laugh!) and I dared Ron to put it up this morning (and he did!). The brave boy is afraid he'll get slaughtered as he walks to his doom tonight so is using me as shield. I'm DEFINITELY bringing my camera - can't miss the bloodshed! Hahaha!

Harbour City Electric @ Bodega Bar (11th December 2008)

Adrian had invited me to join him and mates to a gig at Bodega Bar on Ghuznee St this evening. You would not believe this but I've never been in Bodega Bar before (and I used to live 2-3 blocks away from this place) - another first for me! Bodega virgin no more :P I wasn't too sure if I would make it as I still had dance practice tonight but Ron was keen to check it out so we wrapped up class and with Alicia headed to the bar to see what Harbour City Electric was all about. Tonight was also the last week of dance practice before we all go on our year-end holidays so took group photos at Ron's:






Back (l-r): Helbert, Alicia, Casey, Ethel and Paul
Front (l-r): Ron, me and Christian

Cost us $5 per person to enter Bodega Bar and The Free Tones were playing when we arrived (support band playing funk and soul) and shortly after, Harbour City Electric (HCE) was up. HCE is a 7-piece soul band from Wellington and the music they played was pretty cool and very Wellington/NZ (NZ's known for the funk, soul, electric jazz and reggae music genre). Haha, Ron was telling me that he could see the excitement in my eyes being in Bodega for the first time. Hehe...well, it kind of reminded me of my time in Chicago where I would head out late at night to check out unknown bands around the city and how much I loved doing so thus the brightly lit eyes :) We danced our hearts out to the soul and funk music played by the bands and DJ, even thrown in a threesome cha-cha. The place wasn't very packed so we could groove and go crazy however we pleased. Of course, we had to do the human sandwich and at one point, I was getting ping-ponged in the butt by both Ron and Adrian! Hey, no fair!!

Alicia left around 11ish while I stayed on with the boys till the gig ended around midnight. I've NEVER stayed out this late on a weeknight!! Eeks! And I believe I would feel pain in the neck tomorrow from bobbing my head too much tonight...but I had an AWESOME night - thanks for the invite, Adrian! We need to do this again :) Dropped off the boys (yes, I'm notoriously known to see boys to their front door) and hit the sack by 12.30am. Photos taken at Bodega Bar: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157611084528801/detail/

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Day trip to Cape Palliser, Wairarapa (7th December 2008)

It was another gorgeous sunny day in Wellington and I was so happy when Damien asked if I wanted to head out to Cape Palliser for a walk – of course! Grabbed my day pack and we headed out at 11am in his car towards Wairarapa. Cape Palliser is another place in the North Island I’ve not been before – it lies on the southern-most tip of the North Island and is said to have some of the most outstanding coastal scenery in the lower North Island. Cool!

Unfortunately, I no longer remember how to drive a stick so couldn’t help Damien with the driving since his station wagon was a manual. Sorry!

Stopped at Martinborough around 2pm for lunch at Riverview Café in Murdoch James winery (only open weekends and public holidays from 12-3pm). This is SO awesome! Having our meals with a glass of wine at a winery, in T-shirt and shorts!! I’m loving it :) Photos taken at lunch: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157610892899710/detail/

Left the winery around 3pm and went for a walk at Putangirua Pinnacles, a spectacular landscape feature at Eastern Cape Palliser. We took the Bush Walk which was a 1-2 hours return walk but somehow got a bit off track and ended up trekking up rubble and large rocks to a valley of huge pinnacles surrounding us. A very magnificent sight. I would be so afraid if the rocks on the pinnacle formations fall off somehow because we would pretty much be squashed. Eeks! Continued on our trek uphill to the lookout of the pinnacles. Phew, what a workout! So many steps up and I could feel the burn on my butts and thighs!! Photos taken at Putangirua Pinnacles: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157610822643133/detail/

Back at the car around 5pm and headed to Cape Palliser Lighthouse. It was a lovely drive with gorgeous views of the black sand coast line. We wanted to walk up the 250 steep step lighthouse but couldn’t find a way to get in so gave up and just took a walk along the rocky beach nearby. Note to self: never play with sea creatures stuck on rocks. I was wearing my sports shoes and trying to push a sea snail or similar that was stuck tight on a rock into the water. Next thing I knew, I slipped and had both my feet in the water, my shoes and socks totally soaked through! Argh, karma!! Now I have to go bare feet…grr…

Left the lighthouse and started making our way back to Wellington. Short stop by one of the beaches at the coast for a stroll – the water was still somewhat cold and the sand so dirty black. Around 9pm we arrived in Petone for dinner and got home by 10.30pm. Wow, what a weekend I’ve had – absolutely shattered but was amazing! Photos taken this evening: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157610822908197/detail/

Thanks for a great day out, Damien! Will catch up again soon ;)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Walk to Hawkin Hills radar station (6th December 2008)

James had organised for us girls (me, Kalwant and Dvita) to do a walk and picnic lunch up at the Hawkin Hills radar station this afternoon. Coincidentally, Damien wanted to do a walk too since the day was so nice outside so I asked him to tag along. I've been to the radar station previously with Claus but wouldn't mind doing it again with a different crowd. Different people, different experience!

Around noon, I went around the city to pick everyone up in my car and we headed towards Highbury where we walked uphill towards the Brooklyn Wind Turbine via the bike track route. It was a rather steep walk with most of the path in rubbles (it was a bike track, what did you expect??). Ooo, I can feel the burn in my thighs!

A short stop at the wind turbine for a breather before pushing on to our lunch spot. Damien has this red hat that he wore and I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of it. It just didn't suit him and somewhat reminded me of a little kid minus a bib. Hehehe...hmm, I think you'll suit a cap much better, Damien...somehow the hat on you just looks odd...

Continued on our walk towards the radar station and arrived around 2pm. Oh my god, the girls weren't kidding me about James and his gourmet lunches when he goes for walks - he brought almost everything! Juice, assortment of breads, spreads, salami, salad, dressing for him and the girls. Wow - I was lost for words. All I brought was homemade sandwich and fruit for myself and Damien...felt so unequipped...Nevermind, next time I'll just get James to count me in for his gourmet lunches ;)

I LOVE walks! Especially when it's not windy and sunny outside. Beats working out in the gym, that's for sure! Headed back where we started and dropped everyone home around 4pm. Photos taken today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157610820790577/detail/

Damien and I went to Oriental Parade for him to find his soccer buddies. Some photos taken on our way to the beach:
Not too sure what event was on but there's MC Jinetero rapping on stage

Lots of Wellingtonians chillin' out at Waitangi Park in the sun

A gorgeous day at Oriental Bay beach

Didn't find the soccer players but bumped into several friends along the way. This is Wellington on a sunny day - every couple of minutes, we'll stop to chat with someone we know. Said our goodbyes at 5pm as I was catching up with Adrian at Cubita for coffee. Catch up with you next time, D!

Adrian is a new friend whom I met at my work Xmas party and this was the first time we were catching up since then. An interesting South African guy with a great sense of humour. For our first catch up as friends, I have to say we hit it off pretty quickly as if we already knew each other for awhile - cool! We laughed and chatted over coffee, then a short walk at the waterfront before calling it a day. Look forward to catch up, Adrian :)

After a whole day out, I'm just going to stay in tonight and watch a DVD while my neighbours party it up next door. Doubt I'll get much sleep tonight :/

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Dinner at Caffe Italiano with friends (3rd December 2008)

Damien and I had another dinner catch up tonight and he was dropping obvious hints that he wanted to check out Roberto's gig at Caffe Italiano when we discussed where we were checking out tonight so we headed over. I'm pretty flexible and not fussy with food so sure, let's go!

Caffe Italiano is a mix of a cafe, delicatessen and store for suppliers - a perfect place to indulge in authentic Italian food, wine and service. I know that Roberto plays here most Wednesday nights but never been there to see and hear him play. Ooo, Amber is SO going to strangle me when she sees me! Which she kind of did when Damien and I joined her table for dinner :P It was really nice to catch up with both her and Roberto over yummy food and great Cuban music. Lots of diners here tonight and it created a nice ambience of chitter-chatter, wine glasses and cutlery clinking as the guests relaxed to the smooth cool tunes from Roberto. It was the first time I had dinner here and we had an antipasto platter, pesto pasta, salad and house white wine to share. Yum...you must have dinner here if you haven't. So many different things to try on the antipasto platter and the pesto pasta came out looking a bright neon green! And we still had room to try the tiramisu and cheesacake for dessert - oh, too much food! But definitely worth it ;)

I had a wonderful night just chilling out, catching up with friends and laughing over our chats. Thanks for shouting dinner, Damien - next round is on me :)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Decorating Xmas tree at home (1st December 2008)

Flatmates Andy, Priscilla and I were home this evening to decorate the flat's Christmas tree - my 1st tree ever! So cool and excited :) For a guy, Andy too was all excited and was just patiently waiting for my return from swimming so we could start. Hahaha....

The tree is about half a metre tall and came in 2 parts from a box. I have never decorated my own Christmas tree before so was just watching and following what the others did, opening up the small needles/stems of the tree to start. Of course, when it was time to drape the tinsel around, I had to drap it on myself first :P Hmm...my tinsel draping technique wasn't so great...needed Priscilla the expert to help me out (well, after both her and Andy had enough a laugh at my work). Next, we each has our little section of the tree to hang the blue and silver baubles, followed by tying the blue ribbon at the front (which side IS the front??). And to top it all off, a nice big silver star. Check out our pretty tree! Photos taken this evening: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157610578271676/detail/

Great job, gang! Now we just need to get a few Christmas stockings on the wall (1 for me, 1 for Andy, 1 for Priscilla, and half a stocking for Flick hehe...) and secretly fill them up when no one is home and some presents to put under the tree :)