Meetah Cheetah

It was amazing. Cheetahs are excellent.

I’m a pretty good present giver, I must say. It’s a gift.

(pun unapologetically intended)

I think it stems from enjoying wandering around the internet reading lists of pretty things. Occasionally I buy the pretty things and I give them to the pretty people in my life.

But at Christmas I was torn because pretty things take up space and the one thing you don’t have when you pack your life in a suitcase* and move across the world? Space.
So I decided instead that the main part of the present to my best girl would be an experience – we’d go and hang out with a cheetah.

Wellington Zoo: Cheetah Encounter

Meeting to meet a cheetah

I had thought you would be shuffled into a pen or holding area and the keepers would bring a cheetah in on a leash and perhaps you’d get to pat it and take a photo or two and then that’d be about it and oh I just the most wrong you can be.

Pat pat

You sit on a log and the keepers spread a hessian sack out in front of you, they open a gate and the cheetahs lope on in. They settle themselves right in front of you. They might just choose to sit on your feet.

EEK

You’re told to make no sudden movements. You do not make any sudden movements. There’s something instinctive, inherent that happens and when he yawned with his long long teeth ever so close to my tiny defenceless ankle? I was not making any sudden movements.

Back to being a cat

There are three keepers, four other people, and two cheetahs. One keeper for each cheetah and an extra for good luck.

The keepers tell you all about cheetahs** and about conservation and answer questions while you get to pat pat pat at the cheetahs. Their spots are ever-so-slightly softer than the rest of their fur.

The third keeper also takes the camera and takes photos for you. It’s the best thing.

TEETH. Close to my exposed ankle.

At one point the cheetah at our feet stretched and turned over towards us. Just like a cat. Only much much bigger.

Cat again

CHEETAH

THOSE EYES

Oh and my girlfriend? She loved it. Her smile alone was worth it. Worth anything. Priceless.

* 79 days! We leave in 79 days. Good graish.
** Did you know it’s a bone that makes cats purr? The cats who have it can purr but not roar and those that don’t can roar but not purr. Cheetahs have it. They purr so loud.

New Plymouth: there and back again

New Plymouth in a weekend

This past weekend it was the annual Tattoo Festival and you know what? My adorable girlfriend drove us all the way up and back again.

New Plymouth in a weekendHad this sweet dagger added to my arm by @brooketattooer yesterday (the tip is straight when my arm is) at the @nztattoofestival

Arriving just minutes before my appointment to get stabbed, I had a dagger added to my other arm by Brooke. We wandered the festival, bought a few presents, and watched a daredevil couple perform.

New Plymouth in a weekend

That Saturday night in New Plymouth the options for entertainment were: the Tattoo Festival, the Seekers at the Bowl of Brooklands, or the annual local Christmas parade.

We found a pub two blocks back from the street and sat in the sun drinking beers and watched the children watch the parade.

(at a distance: really the only way I like children)

New Plymouth in a weekend

Overnight, we stayed at a fancy hotel called the King and Queen Suites and I don’t think I’ll ever stay anywhere else in New Plymouth ever again – the bed was a gigantic white cloud.

(I felt terrible leaving my colourful-plasma mark on the sheets.)

New Plymouth in a weekend

The Govett-Brewster gallery is currently closed for renovations so another trip to New Plymouth passes without me visiting. One day I’ll get there.

Instead we drove back down the Island stopping at all the places with signs which had piqued our interest on the drive up.

New Plymouth in a weekend

Near Hawera we stopped at the Tawhiti Museum and almost balked at the $12 entry fee. But, you know what? For a small museum in small-town New Zealand, with a lot of displays including mannequins, it was an excellent excellent place to visit.

New Plymouth in a weekend

New Plymouth in a weekendNew Plymouth in a weekend

New Plymouth in a weekend

On the drive up the country we flew (at the speed limit) past a man, parked near the entrance to “William Birch Pond”, surrounded by chickens. Yes, chickens. And roosters.
I couldn’t work out if the man in the car had brought his chickens to the park or if, perhaps, the chickens lived at William Birch Pond. I had to find out.

New Plymouth in a weekend

It turns out the chickens and the roosters live at William Birch Pond. The more you know.

New Plymouth in a weekend

New Plymouth in a weekend

We’d also seen a sign on the road shouting “HISTORIC PLACE. 800m” and 800 metres later, a sign shouting “HISTORIC PLACE. CAMERON BLOCKHOUSE” and an arrow pointing down what appeared to be a private driveway.

Of course we stopped.

New Plymouth in a weekend

I’m not sure what we were expecting, but the “enter at your own risk” sign seemed ominous.

New Plymouth in a weekend

THE Cameron Blockhouse (not a memorial for a man called Cameron Blockhouse) is a small red shed at the beginning of a farm. It’s pretty empty inside.

New Plymouth in a weekend

It’s the kind of place you walk inside, read the sign, look around and say “… huh.” before departing again. But if I’d never visited, I would have always wondered about HISTORIC PLACE, CAMERON BLOCKHOUSE.

New Plymouth in a weekend

Our final stop was Ratana. It was open and empty and quiet.

Ratana

You know, I like New Plymouth more and more each time I visit. Perhaps I’ll move there after London.
(I’m kidding. Maybe.)

Months ago in Mataikona

Mataikona Escape

Months and months ago my girlfriend and I headed up the coast for a weekend by the sea.

Mataikona Escape
(gayyyyy)

Mataikona Escape

We found an isolated cottage. It was like a single hotel room but all on its own. A bed, a couch, a table and chairs, a sink and oven, a tiny bathroom. An amazing view of the sea and the sky.

Mataikona Escape

Most of the entries in the guest book talked about how cheery the owners (who lived next door) were. So friendly, popping around with paua fritters and inviting the guests to tea.

Mataikona Escape

We were heartened to see there were some gay couples in the guest book. It’s a new thing, for me, this double checking of strangers’ prejudices.

Mataikona Escape

We met the neighbours. We weren’t invited in. We didn’t get paua fritters. Maybe they were having a bad weekend. Maybe they will rent their room to a gay couple but they’re not wanting to make friends.

Mataikona Escape

But my girlfriend and I, we read and walked and napped. We cooked good food and drank beer and wine. We got away from it all. It was everything we were looking for.

We have enough friends.

Mataikona Escape

Exploring Karori Cemetery

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Opened in 1891, Karori Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in New Zealand. It covers 100 acres and is the resting place of at least one of our Prime Ministers.

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I chose a path at random and we ended up in the section for children who died within a few hours or days of birth. I wasn’t allowed to choose paths any more. Too terribly sad.

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S.S. Penguin!

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Oh, I forgot to mention: The Pass of Branda

Life, huh? It gets all up in your business, stealing all your time. Sometimes in the best possible way.

Anyway. A very many Sundays ago, I went exploring around The Pass of Branda. We were looking for the army lookout which has, reportedly, been extensively decorated with graffiti. There’s little I love more than dereliction and graffiti.

But, of course, I was not wearing appropriate footwear and the wind was intense even for Wellington standards. But we clambered a bit, and found a wee skull friend, and came away sweaty and caked in seasalt.

Here are a few photos from that ill-fated trip.

Pretty bay

Sunday: Skull friend

Hidden

Graffiti

Reassuring name
(a reassuring name for cliffs)

Oh, I forgot to mention: Pipe Bands in Palmerston North

You know, I mentioned it in passing during one of my many many 365 in 2013 posts, but during one extremely warm weekend in December, I travelled to Palmerston North to see my exceedingly talented pal Libby compete in a Pipe Band competition.

Don't drop the bass.

This was a massive deal for me as I’ve always always hated bagpipes. To the extent that when they get too close to me I burst into tears.
It’s a physical reaction, they aren’t tears of terror or anything, just completely bizarre.

Libby and the Tenors

But I love Libby, and I wasn’t going up alone but with a more-than-lovely friend, and we decided we would make signs! Be pipe band groupies! Drink beers in the sun! It was ever-so-much fun.

Pipers "tuning"

Also, we were the only ones there with signs. So I think we win.

Libby, Pip, and the signs we made

The NZ Police pipe band were there

Judges. Judging.

Other people were paying attention too

Holding a sign while they marched

Post-piping debrief

NZ Tattoo and Art Convention, New Plymouth

On a sunny Friday afternoon, four friends and I headed four and a half hours up the North Island to New Plymouth for the annual Tattoo and Art convention.

Friday: on the road to New Plymouth

We ate at a cute wee cafe, the Federal Store, it was perfect until I realised that each word ending in S on the sign also had a possessive apostrophe. Then it was almost better.

Cutest wee cafe - the Federal Store

I adore the diversity of the crowd at the convention; there were young people with tattoos, old people with tattoos, people without tattoos, families with young children, families with old children, rockabilly, punk, goth, bogan, middle class, gay, straight. We were all there.

Overlooking the festival

Saturday: Nicole Draeger hard at work

Dude getting stabbed

Prints for sale

Sunday: purchasing a print by Amanda Cain

Booths at the festival

After 9 hours over two days at the festival the five of us came home with five tattoos amongst us. Of course three of those tattoos were on me.

And a big fuck off dagger. By Dan Smith!

Dan Smith stabbed this dagger into my arm.

Getting the stencil on - Dan Smith tattooing me (Photo by Mark Harris)
photo by Mark Harris

Yes, he is the kiwi guy from LA Ink. Yes, I did book in early – I emailed in April for an appointment in November. Yes, it was worth it. Yes, that’s my forearm.

"A ship is safe in harbour, but ships were not meant for that" tattoo by William P Brown

A ship is safe in harbour, but ships are not made for that. Last minute flash tattoo by William P Brown from Shanghai Charlie’s in Sydney.

Wearing my heart on my sleeve. By Tilly Dee

Wearing my heart on my sleeve. Smitten by Tilly Dee from Mimsy’s Trailer Trash Tattoo in Brisbane.

Au Revoir Mt Taranaki

Whirlwind weekend in Auckland

What feels like a lifetime ago, a cultish group of favourite friends and myself spent a whirlwind weekend in Auckland.

We went up to see Wicked, eat amazing food, and a couple of us managed to sneak in tattoos. Because of course we did.

These are a few photos from that trip.

Friday: late night dinner in Auckland

Best Ugly Bagel. Amazing.

Saturday: getting stabbed by Rachie Tea at Two Hands Tattoo

Lorde!

Orchids on the street

Rotorua? Rotorua!

This weekend I flew to Rotorua to visit one of my favourite people, Amy. Another favourite, Frith, drove down from Auckland to join us. We’d arranged all this, drunkenly, one Friday night.

Lake Okareka

We spent a … lot of time watching terrible/amazing television as the weather was not stellar. But on Saturday Amy took us around her favourite lakes. I, as always, was dressed appropriately.

Sensible bush shoes

I was also in a short skirt, Black Craft Cult t-shirt, leather jacket, massive scarf, and hoodbats beanie. Amy and Frith were in chucks, jeans, jumpers, and jackets.
I didn’t look out of place at all.

Amy and Frith

Lake Okareka

Lake Okareka

Amy and Frith at Lake Okareka

Lake Okareka

That was Lake Okareka. She then took us to Lake Tarawera where we almost crashed a wedding and Blue Lake where, on the playgroud, Frith tried to convince us she would be excellent on Wipeout.

Amy watches Frith break the dock

We stumbled on a wedding at Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera

Wedding decorations at Lake Tarawera

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

Frith climbing
(that’s Frith way up there)

Frith at Blue Lake playground

Blue Lake

Then we watching 10 hours of the show Made in Chelsea. My life has changed forever.
(she says, watching the second day of the Made in Chelsea marathon)

History was made, 77 to 44

77:44 Marriage Equality

77:44 Marriage Equality

77:44 Marriage Equality

Last night the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed in the House.

Life has been absolutely exhausting recently and I can barely string the words together to explicate how much the passing of this Bill means to me. A lot of what has been exhausting me has been working towards the passing of this Bill.
I’m so proud. And exhausted. And grateful.

“Finally, a message to all LGBTI—and I finally got that out. My message to you all is welcome to the mainstream. Do well. Kia ora.” Tau Henare

Posts
Coming Out//80 to 40//Almost Equal is Almost Bullshit//Recommends by a Majority that it be Passed