Archive for 'personal'

February 23, 2014

As a Nelson New-by, I haven’t quite fallen into the ‘events’ schedule as quickly and as efficiently as I would have liked.  There is so much going on at any given time that I keep finding out about things after the fact.  Even though I search online, read local magazines and newspapers and snatch up flyers when I see them, there is always something I end up missing.

Fortunately, Opera In The Park has been on my radar ever since my first visit to Nelson last year, several months before moving here.  Friends of mine have been regaling me with their wonderful memories of past concerts and I bought tickets as soon as they became available for this year’s dates.

My husband and I spent the day packing up a picnic basket, choosing wines and cheeses and buying fresh warm loaves of ciabatta bread.  We loaded the car with a blanket and low chairs and set off to meet up with friends who had staked a claim in the grass directly in front of the stage.  Once settled, we opened our collective baskets and enjoyed a warm, sunny evening of delicious food and pre-concert entertainment.

Eventually the main event started and we sat back to take in the incredible operatic vocal range of Amina Edris from Egypt, the lilting tone of  Tama Wairapa from Wellington and the witty, most amazing trumpeter/tromboner from Australia, James Morrison.

Although my husband and I have never paid much attention to opera, we thoroughly enjoyed the show!










February 17, 2014

The Nelson Lakes region is absolutely gorgeous!  We drove through several months ago to visit some friends who have a bach up there.  The scenery was breathtaking!


So when my husband discovered there was going to be a SUP race mixed in with the more specialized outrigger races on the weekend of February 14, he jumped on the registration and created a training plan.  For weeks he did his requisite 5km around Tahuna Beach and practiced manipulating the water in all kinds of weather.  He had a goal and he was sticking to it.

When we arrived at Lake Rotoiti this past weekend for the races, he was prepared.  He got his registration number and studied the course. We were both impressed with the Maori opening tribute and ceremony to the lake and it’s surroundings before the competition began and we were happy that the weather seemed to be holding despite the cold temperatures.

When all was said and done, my husband won his race!  He won because he was the only participant in the Male SUP race.  *sigh*  But at least he did it!  Goal accomplished!











January 05, 2014

Cricket is a game that can only be understood fully if one has grown up with it.  I have not.

It has confounded me for as long as I can remember.  My husband, on the other hand, grew up with it in South Africa.  Played it in school.  Played it as a young man.  Played it with his son from the time he could throw a ball.  As my husband sits for days watching one Cricket match on television, I have stared blankly at the screen wondering what the hell they’re all standing around for as some lanky guy comes running across the screen and has an epileptic fit before releasing the ball.  And when the players finally start jumping up and down I’m wondering what the hell just happened to make them so inexplicably excited. And they do this day after bleeding day!  It is a mystery that has plagued me for the past several years as I’m forced to watch and wonder in vain and irritation.  I’m slowly getting over ‘the giggles’ every time I hear LBW…

However, my husband has taken it upon himself to relieve me of my frustration and slowly, over time, explain the rules.  It’s a delicate procedure as too much information only leads to an overwhelming sense of confusion.  Too little information leads me to losing the will to live as I watch the madness.

A great opportunity for my ‘training’ arose when the New Zealand Black Caps hosted the West Indies at our little sports field here in Nelson.  Tickets were bought and a whole day at the field was planned.  I packed my iPad and a novel.  The few days leading up to our excursion, my husband focused on watching the Ashes – England vs Australia.  Australia was hammering England and it seemed everyone was irritated with the game.  I was in good company.  But this was my husband’s last opportunity to bang the theory of the game into my head so that Saturday’s outing would be a little more enjoyable for me (and for him).

I have to admit, it was starting to stick.

When we arrived at the game and took our seats, Brad immediately started pointing out the intricacies of the game.  I was getting it.  I was understanding. I started calling the plays before Brad could tell me himself.  There must have been some serious osmosis the past few days because I was ‘having fun’ watching Cricket.



I’m not usually star-struck.  Let me re-phrase.  I AM usually star-struck, if I actually know I’m in the vicinity of a ‘famous’ person.  Normally, I’m so oblivious to who is around me that anyone can walk right by me and I’ll never know.  And if I do happen to recognize someone, my heart starts to pound and I literally start walking the other way because I’m so nervous of making a fool of myself.  Also, being from North America, I’m very aware of the paparazzi antics and never want to be associated with that crowd so I’ve learned to keep my camera down out of respect.  But as I watched the crowd, I noticed that a lot of kids, desperate to get their paraphernalia signed by these sports figures, were confidently calling out their names and asking openly for the players’ attention. And to my surprise, the players would jog right up to them and oblige!





The looks on the kids’ faces were priceless and I had to capture it.  Unfortunately, as I was standing at the fence with them, I couldn’t get the right angle.  So I forced myself to get shots of the players signing ambiguous items.  It was strange to be pointing my camera at a celebrity who had not asked me to take their photo.  But I figured if some young adult could boldly ask for a ‘selfie’ with his favourite player, I could make an exception.




I also saw Guy Williams.  He is a New Zealand TV personality who grew up in Nelson.  Although I’m not necessarily a big fan of his, I figured, as it was my day of ‘firsts’, that I would actually approach and ask to take a picture of him.  He insisted on getting the picture together so he asked his friend to take the shot…  In true ‘Tina’ style, I became tongue-tied for absolutely no reason and think I mumbled my way through it before thanking him and running back to my seat where my husband was sitting and laughing at me.  At this point, a whole lot of witty conversation items came to mind.  But it was too late.  Oh well… here’s the shot:



September 30, 2013

I’m trying not to complain, but I am very cold. The blood that runs through my veins must be 90% water and is taking it’s sweet time to thicken up.  As much as I LOVE my new home, I really have had to do something about keeping it warm and toasty. Since we moved in back in July, I’ve had to learn how to build a fire in the Wegj AND keep it going. What a learning curve that has been!  I’ve also come to the realization that a nitestore is not nearly sufficient to keep the cold at bay.  I really tried to give that nitestore a chance to prove itself but it just kept letting me down.  It has now been replaced by a brand new Mitsubishi heat pump that has me completely wrapped in it’s soothing warmth. Oh, heavenly warmth… I’ve also broken down and bought electric heaters for our master bedroom and our closet room (we converted a spare room into a walk-in closet) as well as a smaller Dyson heater for our study.  Oh, and another space heater in the bathroom.  I grew up in Canada so I’m used to central heating.  It’s standard. Houses are warm, cozy and inviting. No need to wear anything more than one layer of clothing. I’ve been wearing at least 3 layers… inside.


Needless to say, I’ve just been hunkering down waiting for the big thaw.  Most of my time has been spent doing minor renovations and making our house a ‘home’.  I can’t say enough about how much I love my home!  I’m getting excited about cleaning up our country garden, planting veggies in our veggie garden and spending some lazy summer days in our beautiful yard.

I also can’t wait to get my camera out and start taking some real photographs!  I’ve been relying on my iPhone to capture my life so far as I have just been way too busy settling in… and thickening up my blood.


June 30, 2013

House hunting can be both exciting and exhausting.  There hadn’t been a lot of new listings but we were continuously hopping from one open house to another, scheduling times to coordinate with those houses in closest proximity to one another.  We were concentrating on only 2 areas. One area has A-mazing views of the ocean and sunsets.  The other area is closer to town and within walking distance to all the shops, cafes and local activities.  It was hard to choose. When we were overlooking the breathtaking view of the coastline we felt we HAD to have this!  But when we were closer in to town, we felt this would serve us better.

That being said, we have put an offer in on a house and it has been accepted!  I keep driving by the ‘SOLD’ sign and pinching myself just to experience the reality of it!



My husband, being the ‘closet’ romantic that he is, sent me this text:


Now that I no longer feel it necessary to frantically scroll through real estate listings and schedule our weekly weekend excursions all over the city, I can relax and enjoy the surroundings a bit more! I’m really loving the Grampian trails.  I’ve been lucky to check out several other tramping trails close to town with friends also.  I’m so happy to finally start the settling in process!

May 01, 2013

It was a long journey but we have arrived in Nelson, New Zealand!  I can’t believe the entire contents of our house in Malaysia are completely packed up and on a shipping container (hopefully).  It’s so surreal…


Luckily we found the most adorable guest house on top of Mount Street called Marmalade Cottage.  It is a quaint little place.  Cozy and WARM!  I can tell I’m going to have to get used to these colder temperatures quickly if I’m going to survive.

Jean, our wonderful host, is the most amazing chef and is a wealth of information of the surrounding area.  She also has a vegetable garden from which we can pluck some of the fresh lettuce and herbs.  I can see I’ll be learning quite a bit about gardening and growing my own veggies.  I’m so excited!  What a far cry from the country we just came from.



We have also managed to pick up the vehicles we purchased back in February.  I can’t believe we actually paid money for big ticket items before actually arriving here!  But I can safely say we’re jumping in with both feet in our new ‘home’.  We’ve explored the town of Nelson, tramped across the Grampians and discovered lots of amazing coffee shops.


Now we just have to find an actual house to call our own.  This has consumed the majority of my time so far.  I just want to be settled!



March 22, 2013

We have all heard the news about Lululemon’s ‘sheer’ catastrophe this past week.  Apparently, in the beginning of March, their black Luon pants were received with slightly less coverage, showing more than appreciated while down-dogging on the mat.  I am not one to hold any grudges against Lululemon. I am, after all, one of their biggest fans (and investors) and I’ll continue to don their apparel; albeit I’ll dodge the pants for a while.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered another company that produces athletic apparel that will probably never have a problem with being too sheer.  Zaggora designs and produces workout pants, jackets and bra tops made with a light-weight, heat-inducing material referred to as ‘Celu-Lite technology fabric lining’.

The whole idea behind it is to burn more calories by raising your body temperature.  These pants really do hold the heat in and make you sweat like crazy.  They were tested at the Chelsea School at Brighton University to prove its effectiveness but it has been the consumers with the most enthusiasm about the results.  I admit they do take some getting used to.  But if someone says they help burn up to 11% more fat than regular workout pants, I’ll accept the challenge!

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

July 10, 2012

It’s that time of year again when my husband’s kids come to visit us on school holidays.  I always try to add some new experience for them that is either part of Malaysian or expat culture.  I also try to incorporate a ‘life lesson’ in it without my husband (or me) giving them a lecture they’ll never understand unless they actually experience it.  This time, I wanted the kids to see what goes into the clothes they wear.  I wanted them to see that it isn’t all about designer brands, but workmanship and what costs actually go into a well made item.

The girls have always been creative with drawing and colouring the things they like, but have just started recognizing their own ‘fashion sense’ when it comes to dressing in certain colours and what style of clothing they prefer.  I thought I’d incorporate both of these by getting them to draw and ‘design’ their own dress.  Jarryd, the oldest and only boy, also designed his own pair of shorts; something he wears all the time but refuses to have anything other than Nike, Addidas or any other ‘name brand’.  So I sat down with them and asked them questions to get them thinking about what their personal style is, what kind of clothes they like and how they prefer to wear them.  From there I got them to put it down on paper.  To my surprise, they were all able to pinpoint what certain aspects they prefer on a ‘dress’ or pair of shorts.

Once they had a good idea of what they like, I took them to the fabric store and had them pick out their own fabric for the clothes they designed.  This part was VERY tricky!  I had to really narrow down their choices but eventually they got what they wanted within the confines of appropriate material.  I have to mention here that although I narrowed down the type of fabric, they were free to pick whichever pattern they wanted regardless of my or my husband’s personal preference.  This was rather difficult for both of us in two out of the 3 cases.  But we held our tongues and let them delve head-first into their own personal style.

Once the purchase was made, we headed to the local tailor.   I often have clothes made and Mrs. Wong is excellent!  I had each of the kids describe, in detail, what they wanted.  They were subsequently measured, all specs written down and material handed over.  One week later (after much anticipation by the girls) we went to pick up the newly minted items.  All the kids were in a state of awe and euphoria!  Jarryd, was completely dumbfounded at how perfect the stitching was – just as good as Nike!  And fit even better!  The girls were in Seventh Heaven.  They put their dresses on immediately and were speechless (they’re NEVER speechless….).

And with that, came the inevitable photo shoot….

Oh… and that purple streak in the hair?… my idea.  She loved it!


May 07, 2012


Every year my birthday is an ‘event’, much to my husband’s chagrin and fear of an empty wallet. I don’t want diamonds or a 5-star luxury resort getaway (albeit I wouldn’t turn them down).  But I do love to celebrate my birth’month’ by experiencing new things and seeing new places.  Last year we went to Mulu – only a short half hour plane ride from home – and it was one of the best trips we’ve ever had!  This year we wanted to stay close to home again, but still explore places that we don’t see every day.  This year it was Kuching!

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot.  Just another small town on the island of Borneo less than an hour by plane from our home.  Man, was I pleasantly surprised!  The first night we went walking down the long stretch of road lined by local shops and galleries.  Most of which sold Sarawakian carvings and other local crafts, which we also have in Miri, but the selection was so much better and there was so much more to choose from.  If I had the choice, I would have bought half the stores out and brought it all home!  Much to my husband’s great relief, I refrained.  What also caught my attention, were the gates of the shops that were closed.  I love gates and doors so I was thrilled to see the craftsmanship of the shop gates.

Another rarity in South East Asia is a thriving waterfront walkway with vendors and a great local ‘water hole’.  There were plenty of these!

My husband and I also went to the Semenggoh Orangatan and Wildlife Centre.  At first I figured it would be the appropriate thing to do while in Kuching without any real excitement inside me.  But once we got there, I was glad we went!  To see these amazing creatures in their own habitat and not behind bars or in cages is a pretty incredible thing to witness!

I really had a great time in Kuching!  What I was most surprised about was the various number of really great restaurants and delicious food!  Every night we discovered several new places and would even spread our dinner out between 2 or 3 of them…  I guess you could call us gluttons!  But it was well worth it!

Lastly, and certainly not least, our last day was spent hiking through Bako National Park.  To get to the park, you have to take a 20-minute boat ride to the entrance.  There are no roads leading there!  Once on the beach, we walked up and our guide introduced us to the surroundings, pointing out natural steel deposits in the rocks, pit vipers in the trees and monkeys hanging from branches.  We even saw wild boar lumbering down the paths in search of food.  They weren’t too wild really…


The scenery was breathtaking!  Once again, my husband made my birthday a pretty spectacular event!  The best part was being able to share this beautiful part of the world together.  Thanks baby!