Saturday, 24 June 2017

El Norte

No body told me creative time would such a precious commodity being a parent :D

I have had some time to make a mix for our many little road trips we have planned as we head south from the Northern most part of our our European tour.

Enjoy it.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Long Haul Baby Hauling a Novice Guide

Last year I smugly wrote a list of hard earned tips in a valiant effort to engender happy and safe travel for the less frequent flyer. Little did I know I would soon be turning the world upside down for my immediate family. Following is 40 hours of calamity. And some tips.

Dario turned five months old on our day of departure. New Zealand was in the first stage of a biblical flood. We were due to depart at 5:45pm but knowing a little bit about cancelled flights out of Kerikeri we made a call at lunch time to try and get on an earlier flight. If the earlier flight was cancelled we would be able to make our connecting flight by hopping on a four hour bus ride. We would not have this option if the later flight was cancelled.

The bus ride went pretty smoothly but this extra four hours of travel probably broke us all towards the end. When we got to the international terminal we unloaded 12 pieces of luggage and set about checking in. Some sweet talking was required here as I did not have my usual Seaman luggage allowance. It was towards the end we realised we were missing the lucky 13th piece of luggage. Dario's suitcase. Knowing the bus had to drop passengers off at the Domestic terminal I offered to run after the bus.

Personally I find running a positively futile and unrewarding pass time. Have you ever seen a runner smiling? Given my recent river injury, running to the terminal was probably the best and worst thing I could have done. After almost dying from a heart attack I made it to the terminal and located the bus, only to find it empty. The nice people at Air New Zealand had our bag inside. Sweating and swearing I calmly dragged the bag back to the international terminal and we completed checking in. Travel tip one. When travelling with over 80 kilos of luggage and a family have a luggage muster list which you can count up to before leaving any luggage assembly point. Include the baby in this list and your partner.

Marvelling at the speed and efficiency of New Zealand security screening I managed to leave my Traktor S8 and passports with security. So many plastic trays we filled. We discovered quite a cool parent lounge which is off towards the Airline lounges on the same floor as security. It has private rooms and a small rubberised pen for toddler containment. After a nappy change(not my own) we recovered the Traktor and passports and we were soon on what was the longest flight in the world(last year). Auckland to Dubai.

Dario had a bit of trouble during take off. The A380 accelerated a bit faster than our Citroen and we started rising a lot faster than his jolly jumper. He was soon crying and it took a while for him to settle into a sleep. He did sleep for his usual amount which turned out to be his last proper sleep of the whole 41 hour journey. I slept as I always do on planes, Anna not so much. Upon arising for breakfast service I realised that my bout of running had rendered my flight swollen feet practically useless. Travel Tip two. Avoid running at all costs on the day of departure.

Discussing infant flights with a few colleagues it sounds like Flight attendants are very well trained in placating and making a fuss of babies. We can vouch for this. Dario made many friends on board planes.

 

Upon reaching Dubai we were soon struck with the gravity of the trip we had undertaken. The best way to deal with gravity was to put Dario in a complementary push chair.

My ankles had swollen with the flight and I felt disturbing sensations in my feet. I soon realised this was from my run of the ages after the bus in Auckland. 

Emirates ground staff kindly gave us first class tags so we could clear security through the priority lane. The X-Ray screening technology is so sophisticated you do not need to remove any liquids/laptops/batteries from your luggage. Are you reading this TSA?

After a cocktail and breakfast stop we were soon on our way to Spain. Dario struggled again with take off and a nice lady in our seat block befriended him. She was soon babysitting him and I am convinced would have quite happily taken him home with her if something had befallen us.


It is here I must give mention to one of our more worth while purchases. A backpack/front pack baby carrier thing. Without it the priority passenger would not have slept at all after the first night. The bassinet was too bright and we were situated near a toilet so he found it too hard to fall asleep in.

Spanish passport control was a formality. Baggage claim took a little longer than we expected but this because we had a car seat and push chair. These travel on a special carousel with artwork and commercial goods. 

Now, my law of long distance travel is the last bit is always the worst. We had a four hour lay over in Barcelona. Our little jet setter had only been cat napping since our First leg to Dubai and was a bit over the whole exercise. We set ourselves up in a courtesy lounge, I highly recommend this also if travelling with a baby, Anna could feed him in a nice quiet corner and we fortified ourselves the best we could without missing our last flight.

The last leg was an ordeal. We sat on the runway for a bit too long. We were soon all sweating, screaming and suffering the uncomfortable imagined withering gazes of other passengers. A little longer and we took off. Screaming gave way to snoring and 45 minutes we landed in Palma.

Our taxi driver was a bit put off by our amount of luggage. He was probably more put off by our Englishness. I blame this firmly on the four hour layover in Barcelona. Free Gin is not going to drink itself. After some negotiating and showing him how he could fit us all in his car we were soon off to our new home. More about that soon.

Forty hours of travelling complete.

Travel Tips

Have a muster list for passengers
Have a muster list for luggage
Avoid Running at all costs
Have a baby carrier front/back thing
Use pay lounges where possible
The last leg will be the worst
A baby can be a VIP pass
Fly to Spain








Friday, 24 February 2017

Happy Wedding Anniversary

15 years ago during a Summer Solstice Psy-Trance party in Parakai. I noticed upon the dance floor a foreign body. An outcast from K-Road. Being of completely whole(some) mind and body I thought to myself I would like to make her acquaintance. The following easter in a story not fit for Facebook I got to meet Anna Sangster. We ventured off to the UK in 2004. We married on the 24th of February 2007. We sold our house and conquered South East Asia in 2008. We almost went broke finding work at sea in 2009. Had a few tough years before things came good in 2015 and in 2016 Master Dario came into our lives. This year we will move to Europe for research purposes. I would not be entirely surprised if we make it into space at some point. All we need to do is write it down. 

Thank you Anna for being the best possible partner and foil to this increasingly eccentric sabre. 


xx 

Monday, 20 February 2017

River Teaser Trailer

Thanks to a concerted working/party bee we now have a injury free path down to our river boundary.

Think of this as a teaser trailer.


Excuse the fingers. I didn't want to break something again.

Thanks to the Bees!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Plot Change; Turn to Page ...

So at the start of last year we devised a plan to see Europe together in 2016. Using my time honoured ratherlargeadventure image scratching technique I drew up this. Labelling a few high and lowlights.



We then started planning and scheming in detail and promptly fell pregnant with Dario.

Fast forward a year. The Sun is beating down in our Star Sign and the updated Family Edition is taking place.

You see back in 2011, I visited Palma. Fell in love and promptly declared I could see myself living there.

The opportunity has arisen for us to do this for a few months all together. This is a wonderful not so chance happance. I have been running a parallel life for the last 6 years and it is time for Anna to see the best parts of it.

Somewhat both unconsciously but fastidiously I have neglected to see any of Palma other than the city, airport and an outlet mall. This will allow us to get the full, fresh experience.

After Palma I have some extramural education to attend to in Newcastle.

We will then make our way to Sweden for the 3 best days of the year. Mid Sommar. I will dance like a frog in SWEDEN. I will see my pet Viking. I think I have written about this

From here I think we will have to go to Legoland in Denmark. Essential training for Master Dario.

It is then off to Berlin for fabulousness and to visit Prague in warm weather. Another thing I wrote about.

From here thing get a bit more flowy. Italy has to be done. It was our saviour all those years ago.

Barcelona and London have been a big part of my life away.

I think Portugal and Croatia both offer new stories so a coin will be flipped at some point.

There are a few details to be worked through but my star sign wiseley told me on Friday not to worry about hows, whys and any details until Mercury makes an appearance.

Just worry about the WHAT.










Friday, 27 January 2017

Tricksy Tradies, Half Jobs and other lessons

We live in a generously sized house. When we bought the market was quite depressed and we got a good deal. Northland is not an economic power house so if you have a good job you can do quite well. We brought our house with very little to do inside and plenty to do outside. A blank slate if you will and this is where the fun begins.

I am convinced Northland is not an economic power house because of these simple business type things. When you start looking for help and quotes for work you discover.

People have phone numbers they do not answer.
People have Voicemail they do not check.
People have email addresses they do not check.
People give quotes over the phone and then do not honour them.

Exhibit A.

We have quite rough concrete outside. Not baby or child friendly. Crappy dance floor as well for that matter. We were told by a knowledgeable chap to measure the area we wanted smoothed out and get a quote from a concrete grinder.

We did this and we were quoted $10 a square meter.

The tradesperson then came to visit us and the quote ballooned out to $15 a square meter as a starting rate. This could go up to $20-30 a square meter depending on how smooth we wanted it.

We got a lot of supplementary information about this.

Diamond teeth costs.
Hand edging.
Concrete sealant
Sun spot activity.

A load of bullshit really.

We are pretty convinced he saw the size of our house and decided to try and rip us off.

Not discouraged we decided to do the job ourselves. The tradesperson did make the error of showing me how the job was done selling his elaborate tale.

It is not that dissimilar to using a teak scrubber which I am forever repairing.....

At some point in the last eight years I have become somewhat handy. This first inkling of this was about 4 years ago at Anna's 30th birthday. Our deck outside in the place we were renting started to sprout high heel related holes. I found some plywood/hammer and some painting hanging nails and started nailing ply to the deck to sort it out. I don't think my Parents have recovered. The deck is still there.

So armed with some youtube videos and a bit of spare time we decided to grind the concrete ourselves.

Concrete grinders cost about 3k to buy so we found one locally that we could rent. It turns out it is the only concrete grinder within 80kms that can be rented. I got it home and started grinding.

Side story. Anna likes to call me half job on the account that I quite often get bored with jobs and find more meaningful jobs to do halfway through boring jobs. I like to think this is more of an internal energy budgeting system. After I have expended what I think is the right amount of energy I need to be topped up with more creative endeavours. Like blog writing for example.



So it was quite hilarious when the said concrete grinder stopped working exactly halfway through my grinding..... To be fair I got as angry as I have got since I got home. I took the grinder back to the hire place told them what I thought was wrong with it like any good deckhand (it is electrical)

I then told the hire place I would fix it myself.

Fast forward a week and some spare parts later the grinder was ready to roll again and grind it did.


We now have a very smooth outside. Because of my repairs to the grinder the grinder did not cost anything to hire.

Some advice for first time concrete grinders.

Use the grinder is a clockwise motion from right left. Small circles that you can easily touch on subsequent runs.
Use a water blaster or hose to make the surface very wet before grinding.
Wet your windows and outside paneling before and after grinding so as to get rid of any excess concrete dust.
Wear some footwear. Exposed concrete will dry your feet out just like teak will.
Don't set the grinder down running for any length of time.
If you are in Northland be prepared to repair any tools you hire so you can get the entire job finished.

Do not be afraid to DIY especially if the only show in town is trying to rip you off. It's only a concrete grinder after all :D.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

El Leopardo

Following up my last mix was always going to be a bit difficult but here we are.

As the Sun set the last day of my 30's I recorded this.

It channels the energy of the Leopard and maybe the first half of my life.

Leopards are interesting beasts to google image search. From my very cursory glance looking for a suitable photo. 50% of the time they hang out in trees looking magnificent. 10% of the time they are hunting. 30% of the time they look menacing. 20% of the time they have dopey expressions. Not a bad statistical break down.

It is a wee bit mangey in parts. Like a Leopard who stayed out a bit too long hunting magnificently after falling out of his tree menacingly and now looks a bit dopey.

Mangey is just another word for authentic, nae?


A birthday present from me.


WARNING has a Piranha Tail.







Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Middle Aged Dad Blog Blog

So if I time this right you should be reading this on or around my birthday. The 25th of January 2017. I turn 40 this year. For the past year I have been putting my body through a form of punishment. I call this punishment operation Fight Forty.

Forget what everyone tells you. Forty is a big number. It is halfway in my books. It is also the demarcation point for middle agedness. Luckily my family is blessed with premature grey hair. I noticed this soon after getting married. After blaming this first on getting married. I then took the drastic steps of cutting all of my hair off at regular intervals.

There are so such short cuts for the body, so I have been doing my best to prepare for the eventual. I am bloody 40 now.

I am also a Dad. I was a Dad last year but having spent a lot more time with Dario and Anna. I think I am really a father now. Anna and Dario picked me up from the Airport on Friday the 13th of January. This was a very cool experience for me. We made our way home and I did my usual furious unpack and then found jobs to do until night took me. Intermingled with the jobs were many laughs and giggles with Dario. He really is a cool chap to hangout with. He already has the measure of us both and our poor dog Ruby has been demoted in the pecking order.

Shortly after landing and conversing Anna became quite convinced that I am suffering from memory loss. As I was not quite 40 yet. I could not quite blame this memory loss on being middle aged. Grasping for straws I grabbed my oldest and favourite. Jetlag. Can everybody remind me to quiz Anna at length of all manner of things when we complete our jaunt back to Europe later in the year? More about that in a later post. I might forget.

A week in at being at home Anna has gradually increased my time with Dario as to not shock us both.

The first morning we went for a walk together.


Notice how jubilant we both are.


I make a good sun visor.

We have spent a bit of time working on jobs.




We have also spent time together with Mum asleep or out of the house. These have largely been good experiences. Although we did spend a WHOLE afternoon together last week which included a very traumatic trip to get passport photos all by ourselves. I do believe this was a shock to us both and we will never fully recover. Dario has started to grow grey hair.




We did pick up a sweet Dragon though! He has a large D scarf under his chin.


Anyway I am enjoying the fresh pair of eyes to show things to. Short sightedness another genetic affliction..... Dario also has a keen pair of ears. We have been listening to Classical music amongst other things. Having a child is a great excuse to listen to Classical music. Something we should all do more of.

We are booked in to do some swimming lessons next month. We will keep on doing what we are doing. I shall be Forty and middle aged and will forget. Good thing we have this blog.






Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Upgraded Trip Home LHR>LAX>AKL>KKE

On Wednesday 11/1/2017 past I had the good fortune to have my usual economy trip home upgraded.

One of my biggest achievements last was being able to hit Gold Level with Air New Zealand and the Star Alliance. This gives me Koru lounge access and two free upgrades. I applied these as soon as I got them and this made for a very happy taxi ride to Heathrow. Hitting Gold is quite an accomplishment. It is literally a carrot dangling ahead which you can keep trying to grab and it slips away. No small feat when you should only be flying 6 times a year.

I introduced my taxi driver Ravi to my latest creation. He felt it was good but was so flattering he thought I should introduce some of my warbling over the top. I think I am a few years of good filter developments away from this but the sentiment was nice. I wrote my sound cloud link on one of his business cards and I think I will make some new cards soon. I am such a more diverse character when I had my last ones made in 2008.

Checking in at LHR was pleasant. I know Airport etiquette very well. I had payed for my upgrade tax before I checked in. I had all of my papers in a travel wallet. My bags were both under 23 kilos. I had my American VISA page tagged. The check in desk person remarked on how organised I am. I smiled.

I kind of have to be otherwise I miss flights. Palma 2011. Lest we forget. Looks like I conveniently forgot to write about missing that flight. Conveniently forgetting things is a good thing about middle agedness. More about that later?

Gold gave me access to the Singapore Airlines lounge in Terminal 2. Slightly dated decor but a very good assortment of asian dishes. One very good barman making very good cocktails.



A few hours later I was ready to board. Because of my upgrade I got to board with Premium Economy. I like the way Air New Zealand fills up planes. It is efficient and it works for most people.

Enter the loud obnoxious bearish polo wearing toff and his family of ill convenience. Rudely queueing in the Premium Economy queue getting annoyed at the queue. Being asked if he was a business class traveller. Saying "of course I am" and then getting directed to the right queue.

My first leg to Los Angeles was quite pleasant. I ruminated on my time in London and the busy time ahead. I do like the food in premium economy I actually found myself getting quite full just from the starters and forgetting about the mains.

I do believe I have written about the circus that is LAX security. The actual security process worked quite well except for English people who refused to use the use the queuing lanes and skipped through the ropes. I thought the English invented queuing? Clearly the English on holiday are a different beast. I do believe have written about that before as well :-).

I was then ready to complete TSA screening and bag scanning again. Unwittingly I managed to get in a queue with a lot of people with Prams. Prams mean small humans and a lot of luggage. Hopefully I learned a little from this as we will soon be bundling up our bundle of joy and doing the very same trip in reverse. It did slow me down a bit. But this slowing down meant I was soon enough on my plane and in the air. So I thought.

Unfortunately somebody had the ill fortuned tenacity to board the plane with some sort of medical problem. The details of this problem were never released to us but they held us up two hours before they were taken off the plane. At the time I may have felt a little aggrieved. I would miss my connecting flight home to Kerikeri. Now I wonder if they are OK.

I am not accustomed to the extra space premium economy provides. Especially as I was given a window seat for this leg. I did try a variety of sleep methods including one delicious one I call the hunched over crash test dummy. By folding myself forward in crash position. I was able to cut circulation to most of my vital organs including the brain and lay in torpid stasis for at least 3 hours.

I awoke a couple hours out from New Zealand to this.


That is the full moon in Cancer on Friday the 13th of January. 13 has been popping up a bit in my life over the last couple of years increasingly in the last two months. The Mayans believed 13 to be a special number of Transcendence. Not unlucky in the slightest.

On the ground I then had to spend a few hours in Auckland rehydrating and acclimatising to the delicious humidity. Shortly after lunch I was home to my Wife, Dario and Dog. Life is pretty good right now.

Plenty more to come forth about them later.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Finding your River

I am actually half way writing the tale of returning home but a bigger story broke yesterday on Monday the 16th of January.

Anyone who has visited us in the past few years have probably heard us gush over our river boundary. The problem with the river though is that has been a secretive sort. We can hear it when it rains a lot but it has been well hidden.

I think my Cousin Matthew was the first man to try and find the river in earnest. Being an Accountant. He outsourced and he sent his two young girls. They could not find it.

At one of our yearly parties. A very good friend told me drunken machete work was the only way to clear a path. Sadly after the drunkenness evaporated the machetes never appeared.

So I have whittled away at the gorse and tobacco weed. Unearthed many a native. This year though. The year of turning 40 I was determined that we would get there somehow, some way.

I had some heavy machinery ready. I had an aerial survey done.

https://www.mapsmadeeasy.com/maps/public_3D/5c405b55cfe443009f02fe3c37a8848f/

Thanks Aerial Vision

But a wise Sangster said we should take a look on foot before committing our Trump card. To be completely honest I just wanted to groom the hillside with a digger but what the hell. We put our best Gum boots on and headed east.

Using our Survey we bashed our way through gorse and other unsavoury weeds until we hit a dead end. Our hopes almost dashed we then took the enligheted view of following a small tributary we had spotted on our way.

We are in the middle of a horrendous drought at the moment. This turned out to be quite timely. As with all things. Timing is everything.

The first sniff that we were on the golden path was this puddle of water.


Gravity and fluid dynamics are curious things.

We found lots of limestone and very dry clay.

Eventually we hit the bottom. Some harder than others. I rolled my left ankle. A good Omen! No good adventure does not have a good challenge.






Some observations. The river bed has a very calm old feel to it. It will be impossible to visit in Winter. The moss lines on the largest rocks are 1-2 metres high.

There are some HUGE boulders.

As is the case with much of New Zealand you get the feeling not many humans have been down there.

Making this a useable space will be challenging. I do have some thoughts. One is to run a wire down the river bed which you can clasp onto when coming back. There is about a 2 metre drop at the bottom which we will need to smoothen out. 

I foresee a further expedition. Where we attempt to find another exit point to the east which matches up with our eastern boundary.

Special thanks to my father in Law Steve Sangster. Some of this have known this for a while but with a Sangster at your side. Anything is possible!









Wednesday, 4 January 2017

God is a Number

The Mayans believed that time + effort = art. If you broke this down with algebra which I should have payed more attention to instead of telling elaborate stories at school.

God = Numbers.

Here is some interesting numerology from one of my Gnostic sisters.

The year 2017 is a Number 10 year and represents the fulfilment and perfection of a complete cycle. 10 is the number of ordinal perfection and the means to create sustain and maintain perfect order in the life. As well as being a receptacle of all the numbers preceding it, ten also reduces back to one since 10 = 1 + 0 = 1. Thus, the cycle brings wholeness and a return to unity where new opportunities and new beginnings can occur, from a higher, more expanded place.

This year is one of reaching the summit and bringing together the results of all your efforts that have brought you to where you are. 10 is the number of accomplishment and mastery that is achieved through grasping or fully comprehending something. It represents the opportunity to come back to the centre of your being, having fully accomplished what was needed and to establish your place out in the world from a new level of inner mastery and understanding. The ancient Greeks gave the number 10 the name pantelia meaning ‘all complete’ or ‘fully accomplished’.

A number 10 year opens up new horizons and creates avenues for great opportunity, growth, success and good fortune. It is a very fortuitous year for both people and businesses who move strategically into this new cycle and embrace and make positive use of the changes that the year will bring.,,,'

Personally I don't actually agree with the Gregorian Calendar. It enslaves us and was created to manage debt cycles.

But it's nice to see 2017 should be a nice year.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Primal Astrology

Linking this on my blog as I can imagine the torrent of reductionist abuse I would get sharing it on Facebook.

What is Primal Astrology? Well it takes Eastern and Western astrology crosses them and gives you a spirit Animal. Cool huh.

I am the spotted Leopard.
Above all else, Leopards are hard to ignore. Like their animal namesake, members of this sign find it nearly impossible to go unnoticed. Not that they would want to. These are among one of the most grand and eccentric signs out there. They have absolutely no trouble getting attention, though this is rarely their end goal. Rather, their natural assertiveness and personality make others stop and take notice whether they want to or not. The natural power of their personalities make Leopards capable of doing great things, and at their best they use this power to serve the greater good and end up being much beloved by their communities for this.
There is a dark side to this sign, though. When Leopards are feeling out of sorts, everyone else feels it as well. Since they can’t help but be noticed, they also can’t help but affect those around them. On a good day they can brighten any room, but on a bad day they can darken one just as easily.
Even on a good day, others may perceive Leopards.as self-centered and egotistical due to their natural leadership ability and tendency to draw attention to themselves. In reality, members of this sign most often have the greater good in mind, but must be careful not to come across too strongly, as they will most likely rely on the cooperation of those around them to accomplish their goals.
rrrrreoooow.

One of my friends here discovered she is a Coyote. Cool thing ? She was given a Coyote toy as a 1 year old she has been travelling with her Coyote for over 30 years!

I must get myself a leopard.

What are you?

http://www.primalastrology.com/animal-spirit-chart.html

Leave a comment and let me know.