Showing posts from November, 2017

World AIDS Day 2017

Friday 1 December is World AIDS Day.  Founded in 1988, the day is 'an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.' says the National AIDS Trust

In the UK it is estimated that over 100,000 people are living with HIV.  In New Zealand that estimate is around 3500.  This is a stark contrast to Sub-Saharan Africa where more than 70 percent of the 37 million people worldwide living with HIV reside.  Since the disease was first identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS.

According to the Gates Foundation, 'the global incidence of HIV has declined by nearly 40 percent since 2001, and 17 million people worldwide are receiving antiretroviral treatment.'  But so much more can be done to raise awareness and prevent new infections.  In Zimbabwe, for example, there were 40,000 new HIV infections in 2016 (UNAIDS Data 20…

Design your summer

School's out, sun's shining!  We all look forward to the summer holidays.  It's a time for sun, sea and sand!  In New Zealand, summer falls between December and February with daytime temperatures between 20-25'C.  Schools close just before Christmas and only reopen in early February.  There's a general feeling of laid back happiness throughout the period.

But if we don't think about what we want to do in the summer and plan in advance, it can just pass by and leave a feeling of unfulfilment in the autumn.

In the Happier podcast by Gretchen Rubin, she invites us to 'Design Your Summer'.  The idea is that by being intentional with our time we can choose how to spend our summer.  Planning activities and thinking of goals can take a bit of effort but the reward is a heightened sense of anticipation and excitement.   Let's face it, even relaxing can require some forethought.

Here's what I have on my list so far!

- a trip to the Coromandel which will hope…

I'd like to say thanks...

Thursday 23rd November 2017 marks Thanksgiving in the United States.  The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by colonists and Native Americans in 1921, sharing an autumn harvest feast.  Nowadays Thanksgiving involves a turkey dinner, giving thanks, parades and American Football, and of course, the Black Friday sales the day after.

Research has shown that gratitude should not be limited to Thanksgiving.  Professor Robert Emmons has researched gratitude and conducted studies involving keeping 'gratitude' journals.  He's found the benefits to be overwhelming with improvements in physical, psychological and social wellbeing.  His book Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier documents these benefits and gives tips on how to make gratitude an everyday practice.  You can watch Professor Emmons here.
"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." - Oprah WinfreyB…

Is it time to disrupt politics?

Coming from a STEM background I've never studied Politics or paid close attention to it.  Last week there was a 'coup that isn't a coup' in the country of my birth, Zimbabwe.  My family left 15 years ago to join the community of diaspora living all over the world.  And we've all watched the events unfold over the last week with baited breath.

But I have been thinking lately of elections and their outcomes and wondering if it's time for 'political disruption'. Disruption in the business sense is a term coined by Clayton Christensen in his 1997 book, The Innovator's DilemmaChristensen gives two ways in which a disruptive business starts, by either satisfying less-demanding customers or creating a market where none existed before.  An example is Netflix vs Blockbuster.  When Netflix first launched is wasn't as appealing as Blockbuster because movies were sent out by post.  However as new technologies allowed video streaming, more customers starte…

Can you Kiwi?

Last year I called my boss' phone and he answered by saying "G'Day".  I was so thrown that for a few seconds there was radio silence until he broke it by saying "You probably weren't expecting that?"  And I hadn't but recently I catch myself saying it too!

This was among an abundance of things that sparkled me in the early months of living in Auckland.  Here are some of my 'Kiwi' favourites and a few which I'm not so sure about.

The Beer Fridge
I'm teetotal but was amused when I found out that the reason one of the three fridges in our work kitchen beeped on opening was because it is stacked to the brim full of beers.  In my previous jobs alcohol wasn't even allowed on the premises!  Kiwis have a great tradition of hitting the beer fridge on a Friday afternoon and socialising with colleagues before heading out for the weekend.

Morning Tea
When I first heard this expression I pictured jam and cream scones with a selection of teas.  Mor…

Podcasts to shock you!

I'm not really one to be easily shocked but these podcasts really got me thinking!

How do you sleep at night?
Bec and Sharna are friends who grew up hunting in regional Victoria, Australia.  Would someone really kill a giraffe?  Why?

Dirty John
Is John Meehan really who he says he is?  Is he just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders?  This is a six part podcast series reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard from the L.A. Times.  It is also available in print.

Is Facebook Spying on You?
Can Alex convince us that they're not?


Pukekohe is a town located 50km south of the Auckland CBD, famous for Pukekohe Park which hosts counties thoroughbred racing and motor sport.  Peter "Possum" Bourne, a champion rally car driver was born in Pukekohe and died tragically in a non-competitive car crash in Dunedin.  His statue takes pride of place in the Pukekohe town square.

On a Saturday morning the Franklin Market is open in the public car park on Massey Avenue from 8am to noon.  You can find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to preserves and jewellery.
Wrights Watergardens in Patumahoe is a ten minute drive from Pukekohe.   The Watergardens are built around the historic Mauku Waterfall.  During the 1800s a huge waterwheel sat at the top of the waterfall and powered the flax mill beside it.  Nowadays it's a beautiful 4-acre garden boasting waterlilies, lotus and arum lilies. 

The onsite cafe serves all day breakfast and a wide selection of hot food and desserts.  It's a great place for a family d…

The Flat White

Ok, so we all know that Friday is Chai Day but today we're going to talk about coffee.

When we moved to New Zealand last year it was clear that coffee culture was strong.  As strong as the coffee itself (the standard serving is a double shot).  In Auckland city centre there is a coffee shop on almost every corner, serving L'Affare, Red Rabbit, and Five Elements amongst others.

Kiwis love their Flat Whites - a double shot of espresso with microfoamed milk (milk steamed to create frothed milk with tiny bubbles).  It is highly debated whether the Flat White originated in New Zealand or Australia but it is a staple in both countries (personally I'd say New Zealand (Aotearoa), after all it is the land of the long white cloud).  The drink is so popular that even Starbucksintroduced it to their menu in 2015.  Other Kiwi favourites are the short black(espresso) or the long black (espresso with hot water).

Here are my favourite places in Auckland CBD to grab a coffee...

1. Federal &…

Auckland Botanic Gardens

Last Sunday, after weeks of seemingly endless rain, we woke up to a lovely spring day.  It seemed too good to waste the sunshine so we went for a walk in the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

The Gardens are just off the Hill Road, Manurewa exit on the Southern Motorway, about 20 minutes south of Auckland city centre.  Opened to the public in 1982, they cover 64 hectares of land.  There is a Visitor Centre and Cafe onsite, and the Potters Children's Garden includes many interactive features for the kids.

There is a permanent sculpture collection amongst the gardens and along walkways.  My favourite is Splayed by Regan Gentry which is made of shovels.

There are also some quirky pieces which you can find by wondering off the marked paths.
From noon on Sundays, you can take a tour on the Wiri Rambler departing from outside the visitor centre.  There is also a plant sale on the first Sunday of the month from 9am - 2pm just past the Herb garden.  I picked up a suberb succulent for a bargain price …

The Great Kiwi Brunch

What do you look forward to on the weekend?  Spending time with family and friends?  A long lie in?  A yoga class?  A walk in the outdoors?  A hangover cure?  

The correct answer is - brunch, and in Auckland it is somewhat of a weekend ritual.
And of course, there are a few Kiwi favourites on the menu...

Smashed Avocado Avocados are grown in abundance in the Bay of Plenty and feature on menus everywhere during the summer.  This Kiwi favourite served on multi grain toast with rocket & feta to garnish is mouthwateringly good.  

Try it at Melba, Manukau  (South Auckland)

Creamy mushrooms on toast
Super creamy mushrooms in balsamic.  So tasty!

Try it at Bread and Butter, Milford   (North Shore)

Cream cheese and raspberry jam bagels

Before I moved to New Zealand if anyone had suggested mixing cream cheese with preserves I would have called them crazy.  Now the cream cheese on its own just doesn't cut it!

Try it at Olaf's, Mt Eden  (Auckland Central)

Shh, It's Oh So Quiet

Need some peace and quiet after all the Trick or Treating?  Here are 3 podcasts all about silence...

1. John Francis didn't speak a word for 17 years.  Find out why...

Listen here:  Ted Radio Hour

2.  Shauna Niequist talks to Oprah about 'Living a Simpler, More Soulful Life'

Listen here:  Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations

3.  Not all jokes are in the best of taste, but does that still warrant public shaming on the internet?

Listen here:  Reply All

And if you need a bit of a wake up after these, Bj√∂rk will do the trick!