Visiting Hawkes Bay, Dragon Stalking and battling the Storm

You know someone loves you very much when they will drive for 1000 km (there and around and back) so you can go and watch your team play another team in a sport you are not particularly interested in.  But Brett did exactly that for me last weekend.  He’s a keeper I tells ya.

Watching sport of any description is not his favourite activity, but fortunately there are always good eats and drinks and most of the time the sun seems to shine whenever we go to the Bay.

If you look really closely
Snow on these hills – if you look really closely

As usual the Bay delivered, and we definitely got the sunshine and some great eats and drinks.

We are very lucky that whenever we are down this way, we get to stay with lovely hospitable friends Julie and Jim.  Who not only know the restorative powers of a stiff gin, but Julie is a fantastic cook (getting the impression there was lots of eating and drinking on this trip because trust there was)

On Saturday we went to one of my favourite restaurants.  Ten Twenty Four. it consistently delivers delicious food in a fun way.  I can thoroughly recommend choosing their R&D (research and development) menu and just placing yourselves in the hands of the chef.  Fabulous.


Tentwentyfour dessert
Ten Twenty Four dessert
Crazy feijoa bubbles
Crazy feijoa bubbles

After our delicious eats, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a run.  It wasn’t, a 3 course lunch and matching wines does not put wings on your feet – just saying.  But hey, how else were the good citizens of Napier going to see my Dragons shirt.

Beach at Napier
Beach at Napier
Photo stop aka breathing stop
Photo stop aka breathing stop

Before too long it was time for the big game.  We were lucky enough to be staying at a great place, the Pebble Beach Motor Inn, which was only a hop, skip and a jump from Maclean Park.  A couple of interesting – well to me – observations

  • the guys running the Pebble Beach Motor Inn were absolutely thrilled that a League game was on, and in they would have discussed League for ever
  • one of them may have referred to me as the perfect woman for coming to the game – who am I to argue?
  • Maclean Park was originally a League ground, and then as League went through a decline in the region, Rugby took over

It was a cold but clear night, perfect for a game of footy and a tub of chips and a hot dog, which did not rate on the gastronomic experience at all.  But once again thanks to Brett for queuing up for the longest time and making sure there was enough sauce on them chips.  I had the important job of getting the wine and having my photo taken with the Four Nations Trophy.

Yay the Kiwis own this piece of silverware
Yay the Kiwis own this piece of silverware

Then it was game time.  My boys lost.  It was sad.  In my humble opinion they were a bit unlucky, a couple of calls didn’t go their way.  And someone may have wanted to leave before the end of the game.  But as I told Mr Brett, if my boys have to stay out there, the least we can do is stay and support them till the bitter end.

I had a great time regardless, I sat by a Maori woman who was a Storm supporter and a real wag.  There may have been streaking dares, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

At the match
At the match

So all in all, a great night, despite the result. Nearly 15 000 turned up and a really good atmosphere.  Plenty of Storm supporters there to back local boy Tohu Harris, who did play really well.

Unfortunately life isn’t all good eats, stalking your team and being told you are the perfect woman.  (Although I probably do get more than my fair share of these activities if I am quite honest)  At some stage you have head back to the big smoke, which is what we did the next day.  But we did get to see a beautiful sunrise and have a yummy breakfast at Emporium  before we hit the road.

Sunday Sunrise
Sunday Sunrise
Emporium in Napier
Emporium in Napier

The trip home was uneventful, but it was nice to see when we got home that Brett had purchased a new form of transport for me.  I told you he is a keeper.IMG_2669As I write this, the Dragons are playing the Knights and I am following the match online.  Full time whistle has just gone and a win by 22 points over the Knights.  Good times.  7 wins in a row, then 7 losses and now a great win.  Whoop Whoop.

I am a bit sad however, because it has just been announced that Heath L’Estrange hasn’t been signed for next year.  I know he was hoping for one more year.  But it isn’t be.  I really like Heath because he is such a character, he gives his all on the field and is a real family man.

Next week is going to be interesting because the Dragons will be taking on the Warriors in Wellington.  Both teams really need the win to stay in with a chance for the finals.  I am going to head down to Wellington to watch the game.  So that probably means the Warriors will win, based on how helpful my support is to the Dragons.  But hey that’s ok.  I win either way.

If you have managed to battle through that sports/eating/travelogue, just a couple of comments on events that have been in the media this week.

Adam Goodes – there have been some excellent articles about why this great AFL player and former Australian of the year has been constantly booed and derided by spectators and some in the media.  They are well worth a read.


And no we in Aotearoa shouldn’t get all smug about this, when a Fijian player left the field in tears after the abuse he suffered in Christchurch (and I know most of us think – well that’s the dick heads of Christchurch) but it isn’t acceptable ever.

My great grand dad William Thomson was half Maori and represented Waipa and Waikato for rugby early last century.  Apparently one of the reasons he stopped trialling for representative teams was because he got sick of being called nigger.  People shouldn’t have to be still dealing with this crap more than 100 years later.

And the T.P.P – Trans Pacific Partnership.  I don’t know what’s in it, because apparently it is too important and too serious for the people of New Zealand to know the details of. Even though is sounds suspiciously we will be signing away our sovereignty to big business.  Thank Zeus is didn’t get signed this time around in Hawaii and maybe the New Zealand public get more a chance to see what is actually in the thing, and what it really means.

There is so much I don’t like about Seven Sharp and it’s host. Mike Hosking.  To me this clip demonstrates it perfectly.  Mike crapping on, loving the sound of his voice.  His co host basically saying it all seems hard for my brain to take in – blech.  But he gets totally owned by Professor Jane Kelsey, who in a few minutes lays out a few pertinent facts that make more sense than the whole line we are being fed by our “glorious leader” and his minions.

Take it away Professor


Have a great week everyone, and just for the record I don’t find the idea of a Maori Language Month boring at all.  Just another thing to add to the reasons why JK and I are incompatible list.


Weirdo Alert – I got up at 5:30am on Sunday morning to go on a “fun run”

And I loved it.

Sunday was the last run in the Run Auckland Series of six 10km runs, I have been participating in.  They have been held at various parks throughout the city about once a month.  While I have moaned and groaned before and during every event, I really have had a great feeling of achievement each time one is completed.

On Sunday morning it was dark and cold and wet, but I dragged my sorry arse out of bed.  (Mr Brett lying in bed with a cup of coffee telling me I was a champion kind of helped but didn’t by the way)

The run was at Millwater, a newish subdivision by Orewa.  The course was a really nice mixture of flat and undulating with interesting things to look at.  Amazing to think that only a few years ago it was all farmland.

Although it was a rather miserable morning, as you can tell from the happy looking people below.  I managed to do my best time yet and I really did enjoy myself.


As usual when I go on a run, my “monkey mind” likes to work overtime.  I am pretty sure this is because I am incapable of concentrating on one activity for more than 10 minutes, let alone an hour, so when I am running thoughts get pretty random

Here are a selection (no wonder I need to go to bed early)

  • 2 years ago I couldn’t run 1km let alone 10
  • How my idea of what a fun activity is has really changed.  Well not that much – gin drinking and chippie eating is still fun
  • How much I like pretending to be a Kenyan runner on someones shoulder waiting to overtake them with a powerful kick
  • How can that woman who is so much larger than me be so much faster – she is absolutely far more Kenyan than I am
  • Will my Dragons still want me to support them when I must have put a hooddo on them so they have now lost 6 times in a row.  I even pulled out Kia Kaha in my inspirational tweet – nothing
  • Why haven’t I won Lotto yet when there are so many cool things I would do with that money?
  • Do I really look like a condom wearing my running hat?
  • Is Mr Brett out of bed yet?
  • Where is the finish line?

I managed to do 5 of the 6 runs and I am very pleased and proud of myself because I ended up about halfway overall in the field for my grouping – 40-49 year olds . Not bad for a former non runner.

So a very big thank you from me. Run Auckland people for organising such a great series.  It has managed to keep me motivated enough to keep running/shuffling through winter and I am really grateful for that.  Otherwise the gin and chippie fun activity would really taken over.  I will definitely be participating next year.

All a bit sad on the Footy front, both my teams lost – boo.  (sad boo not angry boo – call me old fashioned but I really hate hearing booing at games, it just seems so boorish and unnecessary)

Both teams did play a lot better in the second half – so we are taking heart and feeling positiveish for next week.  And they were both tough games, the Dragons were playing the Bunnies – last years champions, and the Warriors took on the Chooks, who are always competitive.

This weekend, I am super excited because Mr Brett and I are heading down to Hawkes Bay to watch the Dragons take on the Melbourne Storm.  I really hope the guys go well, and there isn’t a stalker alert placed out on me at McLean Park #awkward.

Whatever the result I do know the guys will give their all and do their very best to win.  I also know that I will get to eat some great food, drink some nice drinks and tormenting Mr Brett in another part of the country is always an enjoyable bonus.

Just before I close I do have to mention Anika Moa (again) and her fantastic album Songs for Bubbas.  If you are ever looking for a present for parents of little ones, this is highly recommended.  There is a lovely mixture of funny and sweet songs, lots of Te Reo and of course she sounds amazing.  I bought one for Isla, and I have it on good authority that she approves.

Ma te wa – that was especially for you Brenda


Happy Matariki

Obviously it was always going to be difficult to top a week that had me going to most boring awards night ever and discovering Spotify and Uber.   but I don’t think I did too badly.

Missy Isla Brett’s and by default my grand daughter turned one this week.  She is a happy and healthy little monkey, with very loving and capable parents, doting grandparents and a crazy aunty who can’t wait to take her on excursions.  All little people should all be so lucky and loved.

And maybe I am just a little bit pleased and proud to get smiles and cuddles

me and Missy Isla

Officially with the shortest day having just occurring we should be in the middle of winter, but we all know that is rubbish.  Winter is just starting.  I actually found a wonderful diagram to illustrate this perfectly.

It is called A Realistic Calendar for Wellington New Zealand, but it isn’t too off the mark for Auckland.  Particularly Sep to Dec.

Wellington Calendar

Thank you Hello this is Amy @amyherself for the image.

There really has been some shocking weather in the lower North Island this weekend.  It must be so miserable to be cold and wet and having to deal with a flooded house.  I know there are still plenty of people who deny climate change is occurring, but if the Pope can announce shit is getting real about this stuff.  It might be time to pay a bit of attention.  How awful would it be if little Isla grew up and wasn’t able to experience a weekend in Whanganui because half of it had washed away.  It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

A special shout out to my dear readers in the Manawatu, I do hope you are managing to keep dry and warm and have not run out of essential supplies like coffee, sweet treats or tonic.

Another momentous event this week is Sister Julie left her role as customer experience manager for 12WBT.  She did a fantastic job there, and it is obvious from the Facebook posts from her staff she was deservedly loved and really made a difference.

I mention this because thanks to Sister Julie getting her role at 12WBT, the great program and her supportive team.   I have made huge lifestyle changes.  I will always be susceptible to the couch, salt and vinegar chippies and alcoholic beverages.  But I will also now get my sorry arse out of bed in the morning and go for a run, or go to the gym.

I cannot speak highly enough about the benefits of regular exercise and a bit of mindfulness in the nutrition department.  Not just physically but mentally as well.  Making positive changes isn’t always easy (well not for me anyway)  But knowing that Sister Julie and her awesome crew had my back really made a difference.  I can’t thank you enough.  Next Sunday I am going to a yoga class on perfecting your hand and headstand.  Can I  just say the Natty of two years ago wouldn’t have dreamed of doing this.  Brett is just bracing himself for more party trick demonstrations of me trying to do a headstand after a couple of gins #notpretty #notgraceful

I discovered an interesting website this week.  Thank you Kim Hill for interviewing Ross Ashcroft and bringing to my attention Renegade Inc.

Sometimes I feel that the economic path we are following is the only one that exists and we will continue to go down the path of the poor getting poorer, and the rich getting richer.  And to be honest that scares the bejeezus out of me.  But Ross spoke very eloquently about the need for change, a new economic model,  how young people are getting this and why rising house prices are killing the art of conversation.

Now for the League – Anne you can avert your eyes.

The Warriors had a great win against the Titans on the Gold Coast last night.  My cousin Brenda actually went to this game.  Here is her review Umm ’twas different and cold.  Now maybe she is not the greatest sports follower in the world, but I think she has summed up watching the Warriors quite well.  It is often cold (Mt Smart in the afternoon when the sun goes down anyone?) and one of the joys of being a Warriors fan is, it is always different and heart stopping.  She just missed out super exciting and fun.  Next time Brenda.

My Dragons had a bye last week, so hopefully they will be well rested and ready to go against the Roosters on Monday night.  The good news is Jason Nightingale and Will Matthews have agreed to respective two-year contract extensions which will see both remain at the Club until at least the end of the 2017 season.

Jason plays for the Kiwis, knows his Te Reo and has a wonderful calm presence about him.  There were rumours he would sign with the Warriors.  Good news for the Dragons but I think he would have been great at the Warriors too.  Will is playing really well this year, and it is great he will be staying on.

Oh and do I happen to have photos of myself with these two nice gentlemen.  Well since you asked, maybe I do.

Jason and me

Too funny when I showed this photo I did say to Mum I was so thrilled to get my photo taken with Jason.  She said that was obvious, but was Jason as thrilled?


Here is young Will, as I said he has played really well.  I may have been pleased to get my photo taken with him as well.

Good luck against the Roosters, Dragons.  Don’t give them anything to crow about.

And finally if you are having a rough day or week, may your song come on and make everything a little bit better

Natty Bugle Drinks, Reads and Stalks Men. So just a normal week really.

Kia Ora, no post last week.  I was actually waiting to see how my Dragons would go as I was starting to feel pretty confident about my magical inspirational tweet powers.  But Hubris bit my ass big time.  The Dragons got beaten by the Doggies and I felt just a bit too sad to put down any words.  I fear I may be coming a St George Tragic.  It is a known condition and is referred to on the excellent Ladies Who League blog.

One of the parts I particularly enjoyed in this post was Mary writing about making her banners.  A few years ago, Mum went over to Sydney to stay with Sister Julie when the Warriors were in the Semis, unfortunately I don’t remember all the details.  Sister Julie does vividly.  (FYI Sister Julie is not a Nun – although she does rock a habit, she is my sister, ok glad we sorted that out)

Mum invested a lot of time and effort in making the perfect banner.  Her first attempt got a bit of flack from opposition fans (she used the back of wallpaper – not good enough) so the following week she went all out.  Nek Minnit her, Cousin Richard Warrioring it up and her banner were getting picked up by the cameras.  Good times.

Anyway onwards and upwards, the Dragons have a bye this week.  They meet the Roosters next week.  Who hopefully will be beaten tonight by the Warriors.  The poor Warriors of course had to fly to Perth last week to get a hiding from the Bunnies.  All the best for tonight guys.  (I think I will send you a tweet, they work sometimes)

Many great things to focus on this week however.  For starters today is International Gin Day!!!!  I am so glad this lovely clear spirit gets a day all to itself.  As you may or may not know Natty Bugle is a bit partial to the occasional (ahem) G&T.  And not that I need a reason but I have found on the excellent Gin Monkey site 52 reasons to love gin and who am I to argue with that?  Number 7, who knew?

Coincidentally last night Brett and I attended the Property Council of New Zealand Property Industry Awards.  Yes it was just as exciting as the name would suggest.  But there were some highlights.

  • Rogue Society Gin had this awesome caravan and were serving gin cocktails.  Hooray.  It is probably just as well, I did not find this until the end of the evening.  But a very cute innovation, I think it would look fabulous at the Lodge

    My kind of caravan
    My kind of caravan
  • Bic Runga sang 3 songs, her voice is so lovely.  I had never seen her perform live before, but she was great.  And it wasn’t like she had a particularly easy crowd.  Put it this way if a killer virus hit the Vector Arena the well liquored white middle aged man population of NZ would taken a major hit
  • I got to try and stalk Mike McRoberts for a Silver Fox Selfie.  Unfortunately having survived the major world trouble spots as a journalist he knew enough evasive tactics to keep out of my way
  • Guy Williams entertained us as well and he was very funny, but quite nervous.  I saw his hands shaking.  I am pretty sure it wasn’t because he was so overwhelmed at getting to talk to Nick Smith
  • And finally I had a good time because it was a chance to get glammed up, eat and drink and spend a night out with my lovely husband.  So I can put up with a few tedious speeches for that.  And trust there was a bit of tedious going on

But a woman can’t live on gin alone.  On Wednesday night we went to the Metro Top 100 Wines tasting at Glengarrys.  This is a great way to try some different varieties or wines that you are too mean to buy and to talk to some of the wine makers and distributors.  I don’t know what it is (maybe I just had my wine glow on) but people in the New Zealand wine industry really do seem to be a nice friendly, genuine bunch.  And I would like to make it very clear that the reason I tried and enjoyed the Babich Irongate Chardonnay, had nothing to do with the fact the young man serving the wine had that lovely dark Dally look going on, and everything to do with I wanted to try a good Chardonnay.

I was also impressed with the

  • Framingham Gewurtztraminer (the Framingham crew were great and very generous with their servings – I may have spent a bit of time there, just to be friendly of course)
  • Tyrrell’s Stevens Semillon
  • Rutherglen Muscat
  • Leveret IQ Brut – this is a really good yeasty bubbles and a great price
  • Did I mention the Babich stand?

Another fun thing (for me) at the wine tasting was being able to meet Simon Wilson Metro editor.  Unlike Mike McRoberts he did not have enough field experience to escape me, so he was forced to smile and nod while I told him how much I appreciate and enjoy his work.  But I do regret not telling him how much I love his 10 Rules of Writing – because love them I do.  I don’t always do well with rules, but I really do find these inspirational.

I didn’t actually take any photos at the tasting.  Sometimes I do try to be in the moment as opposed to recording it – believe it or not.  However on my run that morning, I did get a nice snap of a sunrise at Coyle Park.  If you stop to take a photo during a run it doesn’t count as resting #nattyrules

Sunrise at Coyle Park
Sunrise at Coyle Park

It hasn’t all been alcohol and stalking men this week.  I did manage to discover 3 new apps.  That’s right, I might be nearly 50 but I am all down with this technology shit (we won’t mention the fact I still can’t get the tv to work without written instructions)

Clever Brett found the first one.  We have now joined the Spotify whanau.  I don’t know about you gentle readers but Mr Apple used to get a few of our hard earned dollars when we would purchase songs.  Particularly on weekends after a few wines, when you just had to buy that album then and there.  But now for $12 a month we can just go crazy musically, and needless to say yes we do.  Love it.

My second app is called Concierge.  Made by a New Zealand team.  It is basically an app that lets you search for local beauty services, their availability and make a booking all from your smart phone.  Very quick and easy.  Not something I will use very often, but ideal if you find out you are going to a very interesting Property Awards Dinner and you want/need some beautifying at the last minute.

My final app of the week is Uber.  I had obviously heard of it, but I was a bit dubious about the safety and reliability of online booking of private transport.  But after last night I am hooked.  It was a wet and cold Friday night in Auckland, and we couldn’t book a taxi.  In 10 minutes however, I was able to download the app and have us being driven in a nice Prius with a lovely driver called Michel.  And leaving Vector super easy and quick to find someone to take us home at a great rate.

The main reason I mention these apps is because I find it a bit freaky and clever and amazing (all at the same time) that you can see technology changing models of operating and behaviour so very quickly.  Lord knows what will be happening in 5-10 years time.  I am however pretty confident I still won’t know how to turn the tv on.

Finally I do want to make a shout out to some people whose work I appreciate this week.  Duncan Garner thank you for bringing attention to the plight of people in inadequate state housing.  Keep that up, and you might get a Natty stalking.  And this guy – White Man Behind a Desk.  Sometimes I despair, thinking young people have given up on politics (Young Nats don’t count ok)  But this guy is very funny and clever, and the Bollinger twins that produce these clips went to school with Lauren.  Kia Kaha Western Springs

Road Trip!!!

Welcome to Hawkes Bay
Welcome to Hawkes Bay

This weekend we made the trek down to Hastings in our trusty steed Frank the Tank.  Frank is a 15 year old 3 litre Mitsubishi Diamante Executive Station Wagon.  He ain’t pretty but he is a really reliable workhorse.  Thank goodness he is, because gentle reader it took us 3.5 hours to get from the Auckland CBD to the top of the Hamilton on a Friday afternoon.  We left work at 3:30 and arrived into the Tron at 7:00.  How crazy is that?  Brett and I decided that we will never put ourselves through that again.  If we are heading south again for a weekend, we will take the Friday or at least half a day off.  What an absolute waste of time and energy, I can’t believe that people have to put themselves through that every day.  Blech.

Anyway it only took us 3 and a half hours the following day to get from Hamilton to Hawkes Bay.  Did I mention that is how long it took us to get from Auckland to Hamilton the previous evening?

We have been visiting the Hawkes Bay fairly regularly over the last few years because Brett’s Dad lived there.  It is a long drive, but Brett knows the road really well, and how to keep me amused.  Provide a pillow and a blankie and make sure that there are regular coffee stops.

As we usually do we chose to go somewhere that sounds interesting for lunch.  This time we went to St Georges restaurant, and it was fabulous.  The food was delicious, the staff were friendly and fun, and the prices were very reasonable for the quality of the meal.  A good time was had all round.  And all of the vegetables they served were grown on site.  How cool is that?  The only thing we were disappointed about was that we didn’t order entrees as we are sure they would have been fabbo as well.  So we had to settle for dessert, because we are good like that.

My yummy pork dish
My yummy pork dish
Chocolate and citrus deliciousness


Since I have become a bit more fitness focused, (which means I do some exercise as opposed to none).  I really enjoy getting up and going for a walk or a jog before spending a whole lot of time sitting in the car.  And it is a great way to get to see a place.  In Hamilton I went for a stroll along the river, which was just lovely, although I didn’t take any photos as it was still a bit dark.

But in Hastings I went to Havelock North, where I saw these guys.  I am not sure of the significance but they were kind of interesting.  Although Havelock North to me seems less a home to eels (tuna) and more a home to well dressed middle aged women shopping and eating in packs.


On the way back into Hastings I made a point of taking a photo of some of the Heretaunga Pou.  There are 18 of them and they really look magnificent


Here is a bit more information about them

Of course stopping and looking and taking photos of them is a really good excuse to stop running.  Culture trumps jogging.  Just saying.

All too soon it was time to head back home, where we saw lots of vans full of Afghan and Kiwi cricket fans heading to Mclean Park Napier for their World Cup match.

We always enjoy our trips to the Bay, it really does have a lot going for it.  A great climate, lots of beautiful food, wine and scenery.  But seeing as it is nicely placed on top of a nice big fault line, we wouldn’t live there.  Just happy to be visitors from Auckland who come and eat and drink and take photos and stay with special friends.

I am happy too because I know we will be returning on the weekend of June the 25th when my St George-Illawara Dragons take on the Melbourne Storm.  It should be interesting seeing as Napier isn’t exactly known as the home of League.  And both teams are Aussie.  But hey Dragons there will be at least one noisy fan there.  And there is even a great restaurant that I can recommend with your name on it.IMG_2283