Showing posts from May, 2018

3 wacky tourist attractions in New Zealand

Last Friday husband and I took a drive from Queenstown to Wanaka.  Wanaka is a beautifully scenic town set on Lake Wanaka and one of the most popular attractions is That Wanaka Tree, a lone willow which grows in the lake.  Husband wasn't best impressed though.  After we'd gotten lost trying to find it, when he eventually saw it he said 'is that it?' and started photographing a beautiful autumnal tree nearby.

It made me think of a couple of other wacky tourist attractions in New Zealand.  In Wellington, on Cuba Street there is a bucket fountain. Since 1969 this bright kinetic structure has taken pride of place among pedestrians.

But my favourite wacky attraction is the Lemon and Paeroa bottle.  L&P is a lemon flavoured soft drink and a seven-metre bottle stands tall in Paeroa.  An obligatory photo with the bottle is a must!

On turning 40

By now you're probably all aware that the 19th of May is a very special date.  Yup - Prince Harry is to marry Ms. Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor.  They do make a lovely couple and I wish them all the best.

But I shall be having secondary celebrations of my own!  I will be celebrating my 40th birthday, hurrah!  According to the Huffington Post, I can look forward to being stronger, more resilient and knowing my own mind.  The Metro paints a less encouraging picture though - I'm not sure I'm ready to tick the 40+ box on surveys and I don't yet have friends who are grandparents.

My friends who have already turned 40 this year have taken their birthdays in their stride.  One is preparing to become a first time mum, another went on the trip of a lifetime to Asia and the Caribbean.  Another is having her third celebration this month, and why not!  We only turn 40 once, and doesn't life begin at 40 anyway!!

To my surprise I'm not finding the thought of …

Circle of Influence

A few years ago, I was complaining to a colleague about a team which had been slacking off and hadn't been pulling their weight.  I was so distressed by their inferior performance that it was affecting my own.  My colleague reminded me of the Covey Circles
In the7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey described proactive people as those who work on the things they can do something about.  These people focus on their circle of influence and as they do, the circle grows.  Reactive people instead waste their energy worrying about things they can't control, just as I was worrying about the other team.  How much time do we waste thinking about what someone else will be wearing or doing?  Or maybe a colleague is preparing a piece of work and the competitor in you worries that it'll be better than your work.  Have you ever had a sleepless night worrying about something that might happen at work the following day, only for the situation not to happen at all?
For t…

Do you use MOOC yet?

This year I find myself relying on MOOCs more often.  What is a MOOC?  It stands for massive open online course.  I remember how as a thirteen year old (way back when!) I relied on my mum's Reader's Digest Cookery Annual to complete a Cookery (it wasn't called Home Economics yet!) assignment.  It was a beautiful book with illustrations of fruit and vegetables by season.

These days a quick google search or Wikipedia can often answer questions really quickly.  MOOCs replace classroom learning, lessons and coursework are all online and mostly free (some have additional paid-for features).

Here are three MOOCs to try:

1.  Lynda
Founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman, Lynda offers courses from Software Development to Photography.  This popular training provider is used by LinkedIn Learning and is offered free to all members of Auckland Libraries.

2.  edX
I'm starting to learn Python and R for work so edX is really useful.  Many of the courses are Microsoft verified and for an additiona…

Autumn Reading List

There's nothing like getting lost in a book on a dark autumn night.  I love to snuggle on the sofa with a hot drink and take adventures into the unknown.
We went to Orewa a few weeks ago and it was a perfect spot for a reading retreat. 
I started to read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie while we were there.  It is such a well written book with great characters that draw you in.  Chimamanda is a wonderful speaker and I'd recommend her inspirational TED talks - We should all be feminists (also available in print) and The danger of a single story.

I've just finished the Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat Pray Love fame).  It's been a while since I read such a long piece of literature.  I was fascinated by it as it documents the history of botany from Kew Gardens in London to Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam.  It was a great read if you're in for the long haul!

I've been interested in learning more about Ikigaiso I borrowed a short book of the same…

Podcasts about money

I've dedicated May to getting my personal finances in check.  Here are 3 of my favourite podcasts about money.

1. Cooking the Books with Frances Cook
This is a bitesize podcast, never longer than about 15 minutes, in which Frances Cook tackles financial issues topical in New Zealand such as the impact of politics on our investments and the pros and cons of being a first home buyer.

2.  The Pineapple Project
Claire Hooper hosts this great podcast which features different aspects of money, e.g. How to plan a wedding without going broke and You need an emergency fund.  Fun and full of useful information.

'Why pineapples? Because like money, they can be sweet. But they’re also a prick to deal with if you don’t know how to handle them.'

3. Bad With Money
Gaby Dunn is Bad with Money.  I'm only 3 episodes in and so far she's questioned her parents about money (turns out they're Bad with Money too), seen a financial psychologist and hidden her credit card bill from her boyfri…