Starting out in a new country has to involve a fascinating trip to the supermarket to see all of the delights that pass for local home cuisine…so how does a trip to Countdown in New Zealand go I hear you ask?
For UK readers, Richard Whiteley (RIP) and Carol Vorderman are nowhere in sight (phew!).
Well, of course there are plenty of similarities to supermarkets anywhere…but some differences I noticed to the UK is the ability to buy live mussels – big ones by UK standards. There seems to be a little less focus on pre-packaged items although of course you can still buy things like ready-made lasagne and frozen pizza. There is more cultural diversity in goods due to the demands of a diverse population. There is also a great selection of pies. I was quite pleased to see Heinz Baked Beans and Marmite…although UK Marmite is actually branded up as “Our Mate” in NZ as someone else uses the Marmite name…to be honest, I am quite tempted to try the local brands anyway – when in Rome and all that…or even in Auckland…but a love of UK Marmite can run deep…
I have also seen trolleys referred to as trundlers. Being something of an aficionado of crisps, I am able to vouch for the quality of the local produce in that regard already…although I am yet to sample the green onion flavour…
Anyway, a couple of items I thought worthy of a photograph to share with you…the first is some wine on the shelf…check out the prices!!! Who on earth pays that? At a 2:1 exchange rate to the UK, that is £400 for a supermarket bottle of red wine.
The second made me laugh when I saw it…Lynx Legend body spray…in a gold can with an “Extremely Irresistible” warning…with this much gold and a “legend” tag, now everyone can be as irresistible as Mr T. Pity the fool who doesn’t choose it.
I had my leaving do last night from my job ahead of our moving away. It was almost a week before I actually leave my role but people came for a good night out.
We went to a bar called The Pit in Leeds – nothing to do with the Yorkshire stereotype of mining…instead an American-themed barbecue joint selling American craft beers.
Anyway, I digress.
I am lucky in that over the years I have formed some firm friendships from my workplace and some of my closest friends have been people I have been fortunate to work with. I have met some genuinely wonderful people, many of whom were able to come out last night. Some travelled from London to be there, some from slightly closer by. It made me feel quite humbled and also touched. Yet another feeling that really brings home the magnitude of the change and the importance of building new friendships – not to replace the old but to compliment them.
I sincerely hope that in the years to come I can keep in touch with these friends – either through this blog or other methods and hopefully some of them will be able to visit New Zealand which would be a genuine pleasure for me.
Here is an unacknowledged aspect of emigrating…the need to whittle down your food and drink supplies. In some ways it ought to seem like an enjoyable activity…and in many ways it is as you start to see the (hopefully) excellent departure date drawing nearer…BUT…
What about almost having to force yourself to eat and drink things which you love?
I don’t like to waste anything and I realised a few months ago that I had 4 bottles of whiskey in the house (something I enjoy on an occasional basis) and, having acquired an additional one at Christmas, I am pleased (and at times inebriated) to report that I am down to my last half bottle but it has really dampened my enjoyment somewhat. I have finally got through my last jar of Haywards mixed pickle which again was forced. The beer stocks are dwindling too. Crisps (chips for the American readers) are going. I don’t think the Marmite will be eaten. Tea is looking like we may fall short. My diet doesn’t just consist of these things in case you are alarmed.
I suppose at the end of the day that I can give away anything which remains but it then becomes something else to have to transport…it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for the enjoyment of those small luxuries to resurface after an enforced break.
Just been to Madeira for Christmas…what a lovely island out in the Atlantic Ocean. For those who have never been, it is small but perfectly formed reaching altitudes of 6000ft in just 309 square miles. Quite spectacular and very fertile with crops growing wherever possible in the volcanic soils.
It is the first time we have been away for Christmas and it was quite nice spending time with strangers and getting the pleasantries out of the way before enjoying a little time by the pool and in the sunshine…next time we have a warm Christmas will hopefully be next year in New Zealand. A good training exercise therefore!!
We had several glasses of Madeira wine which was a very pleasant diversion, the local Madeiran Poncha which is made from honey, white rum and fresh fruit juice (like a cold cold remedy I thought)…and with the hotel being all-inclusive there were excellent cocktails!! Try the black scabbard fish with banana if you get the chance!
I’ve been lucky enough to go to a number of different countries and I was reflecting on what makes something beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and can be represented in experiences, sights, activities and more. I love New Zealand, Scotland, Canada and the USA…and the spectacle of Norway is quite something too. I love great scenery and a feeling of isolation which is something you don’t get in the UK very often so perhaps a perception of beauty is culturally influenced too! Here are 2 taster photos of Madeira…and then one of the incredible Yosemite (USA) and then one of Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) in Norway…which do you prefer and why? So much beauty in the world…and so much which has been damaged over the ages.
Madeira North Shore
Monte Palace, Madeira
The grand tradition of the British office Christmas Party is a strange one…you hear all manner of horror stories where people have a few too many drinks and then behave in an inappropriate way – forgetting that they are still in essence representing their employer.
It was our office party yesterday. It was very enjoyable. There were no obvious signs of misbehaving (thankfully!). We went to The Alchemist in the Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds and the set Christmas menu was very good. The best bit though was the Smokey Old Fashioned drink I ordered in a hipflask which you can keep or refill…Wild Turkey bourbon, maple syrup, Jerry Thomas’ bitters, oak smoke, served over an ice ball. Nice. I even bought some home to drink later!!
We then headed to a bar called Angelica at the top of Leeds with a nice view over the surrounding rooftops. Leeds is not a pretty place but with the Christmas lights glittering across the skyline you could be forgiven for a moment for enjoying the view.
A good evening with good friends…and one or two colleagues. I even saw Paul Jewell at the station.
Christmas next year is scheduled to be warm because it will be summer in New Zealand. Can’t wait for a new set of experiences and a new culture now.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
In the year 2000, some then colleagues and I from work decided to go for drinks each lunchtime in a different pub and have a different drink each day for one week. We had a different drink group each day which included beer, lager, cider and stout. This took place in Leeds, UK. Yesterday marked the 14th such annual event.
Over the years it has gone from a week event to being one evening where we go round different pubs and have a different drink in each one. It has always been a men-only event (it just happened like that). People have left the business where we worked but we always meet up once per year. While the faces have changed there has always been a core group of YBA enthusiasts. The drink rounds have evolved to take in a cocktail round and a camp drink round and people often try something they haven’t tried before. A celebration of alcoholic beverages and the great British pub and of friendships!
To give an idea of what I had to drink last night…here we go (I can remember!!)…
The Stick or Twist – a pint of Yorkshire Blonde ale
The Wrens Hotel – a Campari and Soda (awful stuff – never try it!)
The Pit – a pint of Pit Canary lager
Mojos – a Mojo Swizzle cocktail – nice!
Templar – a sweet sherry
Santiago – a pint of Murphys stout
North Bar – barman’s choice – I shared a 15 year old Peruvian rum and a very peaty Scotch whisky with Mr T
Sela Bar – Buffalo Trace bourbon
Strange customs emerge over the years…we once found a hat in the Templar bar in Leeds about 5 years ago which has become the “YBA Hat” and each year it makes an appearance for photographs…
Mixing drinks is not a sensible thing…but it is always a great evening spent with friends and unlike the rather abysmal British culture of getting plastered at times, you might be surprised to learn that after about 5 hours everyone is still in a reasonably sensible state as the evening reaches a natural parting of the ways…