Category: Home

The big little city

I have lived in the city all my life. I love the countryside, love the big views, the clear starry nights but there’s something about the city that will always appeal to me.

When I was younger and living at home (high school!) I was consistently driven around by my parents. Johannesburg was not considered safe by them and public transport was not an option for me. I travelled quite a bit, and experienced other cities in my teens, took public transport there, but the city I called home was strictly a driven experience for me.

Eight days before my 18th birthday I moved to New Zealand to spend time with my brother, to go to university and (I thought) to finally start living!

On my very first day there, my brother drove me to the city centre (Queen St) and dropped me off to spend the day looking around while he was at work. I don’t remember many details about this day, but two things stand out in my memory.

It was the first day that I felt like I was no longer a child (how wrong that turned out to be!) and there was a moment when I looked out into the street and realised that that was exactly where I was meant to be. I was in the right place, at the right time.The view I had at that moment was from this exact angle, from Albert Park looking down onto the Victoria and Queen intersection:

I went on to live on that street for a few years, which was just a spectacular time.

I’ve realised, in my subsequent travels, that I feel that way in every large city. I used to think it was just an Auckland thing but while I love the place, it turns out I’m geographically promiscuous. My relationships with the cities I’m in thrive even if only for a few days. The feeling is the same in each one, for a few seconds, sometimes more, I look around and feel a conflicting sense of excitement (almost nerves) and a sense of peace. Sydney, Krakow, NYC, Washington DC, London, Lisboa – they’ve all done it for me at one time or another.

I’m hoping that in the next couple of years we can manage a major move overseas into a big, big city. There are commitments that need to be fulfilled here, but in 18 months I want to be across the world with butterflies in my tummy as I look up at the huge buildings and make another city my mistress. I want to get all my senses going, I want to laugh, cry and love somewhere completely different.

I’m sorry, Auckland, but just the thought of a different concrete jungle is getting me all excited to leave you. I can’t stop googling the place I want to go. I can’t stop talking about it.

It’s going to be a hard break up, but one day I’ll come back. You’ll be different but you’ll be just the same.

I’m not sure what I’ll be but I know what feeling I’ll get when I see you again – that won’t change.

 

30 Days of Blogging Honesty: Day 8

Day 08: If I could afford it, the piece of famous artwork you would find in my home is…

This is extremely difficult. There’s nothing like artwork that is pleasing to the eye to really brighten up a place. My tastes aren’t necessarily set in stone. They are governed by my moods, like most people’s tastes I expect.

I’ve collected a few of the artworks that I would want to see around depending on how I feel, what room they’re in and what music I’m listening to.

1. Claude Monet

Venice Twilight

Something sweet and romantic would be playing here…

2. Thomas C. Fedro

Cubist 7p

Definitely something funky here. Happy music that makes you want to dance around and around the room!

3. Georges Braque

The Portuguese

I can’t stop staring at this one. The mood would definitely be somber. Quiet, slightly depressing music, dark lighting. All very serious.

 

Custard catastrophe

I can cook! I swear I can! I’m not the best but I’m definitely not the worst. I think.

For a while though, custard has been my nemesis. For years it was baking powder (I sorted that problem out with self-raising flour) but now it’s custard (or f**king custard as I like to think of it.).

Last night I decided I desperately needed to have some delicious rice pudding, which I’d never made before, and thought that I could just invent a recipe. This kind of Rambo-style of dessert making is why I have problems. That and the fact that I try to read at the same time and I get distracted but anyway that’s not what this is about.

I bought custard powder a few weeks ago to solve my custard problems – I thought if eggs weren’t actually involved then it wouldn’t taste disgusting! Full proof plan! The boyfriend had used the custard powder when we first bought it and made a delicious bowl that tasted spectacular with marshmallows and ice cream! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG???!!!! IF I ADD MORE EXCLAMATION MARKS IT WILL BE SO!!!!!

I had made the rice, perfectly, no issues there. So I got out a saucepan. I checked and double checked the instructions. I measured everything out beautifully, put it on the hob, turned the heat up and… decided I desperately needed the loo. So I ran. RAN, I tell you. But I came back to this:

That has been soaking overnight. Seeing as we were able to scrape some of the burn off there is still hope. But, yeah. Oops.

So it turns out you can’t leave it at all. You have to keep stirring from the beginning, not just when it gets hot. Okay, so scratch that. Now, I was about 20 minutes into this mess. We have a tiny kitchen so I had to keep cleaning as I went, getting ready for round 2. I decided to do it in the microwave this time around, easier than the stove, no constant stirring and the beeping would tell me when to do that. And! I could read! Plus, the instructions said 5 to 6 minutes. Done and dusted. So I start it off and FIFTEEN minutes later it’s still just milk with some stuff in it. I decided to do it in a 2 minute block instead of the 1 minute increments I had been working with. Two minutes later, I open the microwave only to discover that we’d had a custard explosion and there was actually none left in the bowl.

Fan-friggin-tastic.

Round 3.

Again, in the microwave. 90 second intervals so that it doesn’t explode. Not quite right, but we’re getting there. I finally hit upon a genius plan: more custard powder and sugar (it was tasting a bit bland!). My slightly thick custard, which in hindsight would have done just fine for a runny rice pudding (my favourite kind) is now thicker. It’s thicker all right. The bits where there are enormous clumps of custard powder are so thick they are barely chewable.

There’s no more milk.

Okay, I can’t go for round 4, I have to just run with this. So I get a sieve and start sieveing (Nonesense, just stir it Una!) the custard directly onto the rice. I got one cup of custard out of it. It tasted like shit. There were about 6 cups of cooked rice in the bowl. Instead of just removing the extra rice I started mixing like a BOSS. I’d been dealing with this shit for 2 HOURS. I couldn’t even face it anymore.

Don’t judge me. And don’t look at my delightful 1970s counter either!

The cinnamon was a nice cover-up touch wasn’t it?

The in-sink-erator loved it.

The lemon yoghurt ice cream tasted just fine, thanks.

Scottish home invasion

A few years back we were living in an apartment building (Auckland’s Queen St) where each floor has the same basic layout.There was a long corridor from the front door to the bedroom/ living area. Directly left of the front door was the bathroom, the only access door from the corridor.  Being in NZ, and having recently moved in, I was complacent about security and often forgot to lock the door.

I was a shift worker around that time, studying simultaneously, so I would work 30 or so hours straight and regularly arrived home at odd hours desperate for a shower and a sleep. On this particular occasion I had done a day at uni, a 14 hour graveyard shift and followed it up with another morning at uni. I arrived home around 3pm, dumped my stuff and stripped right off. As a couple living in a one bedroom apartment, I wasn’t too concerned about privacy or excessive modesty. In this case, home alone and delirious after a torturous train ride, I ripped the clothes right off and stepped into the shower leaving the bathroom door wide open. As I started to relax under the spray, getting my body into sleep mode so I could collapse for a 17 hour sleep stretch, I heard the rattle of a key in the door. I assumed it was the Mr home early (I couldn’t/ was too tired to process why). Turning (still in the shower – naked) (okay, maybe not a necessary thing to point out because I am not a never nude but still: NAKED) to face the door I saw the front door open and instead of my lovely partner, a box appeared.

The box was for a big screen LCD and it traveled slowly through the front door, past the bathroom door, pushed silently along the carpeted corridor. At this stage I’m still butt naked, my arms limply at my side and my brain fried. We’re buying a new TV? A new freaking TV? Where the hell did he get the money to buy a new TV? Once the TV had gone past the person pushing it appeared – first a hat (Why is he wearing a hat? He never wears hats!) over some scraggly blond hair (When did he grow hair???!!!), a beard, a stripey shirt, skinny jeans. His head bent over the television, he was pretty intently focused on getting his purchase into the apartment. I started to freak out. Suddenly my brain snapped into action! THIS IS NOT HIM. ABORT! ABORT! My fight or flight instinct translated directly into STAND PERFECTLY STILL AND HE WON’T SEE THE NAKED PERSON ABOUT 1.5M AWAY FROM HIM. As soon as he was past the door, I hopped out of the shower and grabbed a towel (having the presence of mind to turn off the shower, might I add), around which time he obviously looked up for the first time and realised he’d come into the wrong apartment.

In the thickest Scottish accent I’d ever heard – “Oh shit, where am I?” – he turned around and and finally saw me.

“Oh my God I’m so sorry!”

At this point I’m still so shell shocked that I don’t even say a word while he pushes the tv back down what now feels like the world’s longest corridor, muttering apologies the whole way. The only thing I can think is that the shampoo is running into my eyes and that I’m lucky my towel is long enough at the bottom (bath sheets FTW!). Although to be honest, for something that could have been ripped off me with one strong tug , it’s impressive how much more confident I felt with that towel on!

For about a year after that I regularly saw him in the lifts. I figured out he was on the 5th floor (we were on the 4th). I never worked out whether he recognised me without shampoo in my hair and eyes as wide as a power puff girl’s.

Moral of the story, kids: Lock your damn door.