I’m leaving wordpress and starting a new blog at blogger. thank you for your faithful readship however. here is my new blog: http://toadullamandback.blogspot.co.nz/


Its been ages since I last blogged.

While I have been way busier as I’ve got a 20hr a week job with the Salvation Army, I think the real reason for my tardiness with blogging is that I’ve got no clear thoughts to expunge. It seems everything about our lives at the moment is in transition.

However my garden is starting to look blooming amazing so now we’ve finally recharged the camera’s batteries I can show the world the developments.

So photos to follow.

I spent last week at a beautiful marae in Akaroa with a bunch of late teens and early twenty somethings.

It was a really interesting time and it has also given me time to reflect.

A thought that I’ve had is how we change over our 20s.

I turn 30 tomorrow and hanging out with 19, 20 and 21-yr-olds makes me think how idealistic I was at their age.

At 20 I still hadnt had any knee operations, and so I sure I was going to be awesome at some sport, be it marathons, cricket or soccer.

I also harboured dreams of living in England or Pakistan. I was single, but I thought i’d be married within the next 3 or 4 years. And career wise I was pretty keen on being a PE teacher. I also thought I was a big deal, and expected that great things were going to be coming my way.

Ten years later, I’m a married semi-retired ex-journalist, living in Mangere working as a part-time office administrator, op shop volunteer/ gardener.  I haven’t played cricket for 5 years or any sport at a decent level and I’ve had two knee ops and one still gives me a gnawing ache as I write this.

In that time the Warriors have made two grand finals, of which, I’ve been once.

I’ve travelled a bit around Europe, America, Africa, Asia and through the Islands but  without doubt mygreatest achievement in the last ten years is marrying Jo. She has kept me grounded in so many ways.

I used to be really goal driven for the first five years of my 20s, but after not achieving a number of them and also realising that I was too externally motivated I’ve shifted to trying to aim for a lifestyle, rather than a set plan.

I hope to live well now, rather than straining to live better later. This has been quite freeing, as I’m learning to just enjoy life but its also a bit stressful not knowing that my future is all taken care of, or has a decided direction.

I hope my 30s are less messy, less highs and lows and just incremental growth. I hope the fears and insecurities of my 20s can diminish as I become more comfortable with myself and with my foibles. I think I’m still pretty idealistic, but one clear scar of my 20s is an over-functioning cynicism. So perhaps I can work on this a bit too.

I Am: Community is an oxymoron seen on a housing development in Australia. But it certainly is a good way to describe some of my efforts in ‘doing community’ as a part-timer.

Being part-time in a society which is mostly working full-time means it can actually be quite a lonely experience. Especially when many of the projects I’ve come up with are my own, and not so much someone elses.

Therefore I’ve found the last few months a tad isolating, even though I’m trying to engage with community more.

The joining a rugby team thing was one such example, of trying to connect, and in fact isolating myself more. This was because I was out two nights a week, plus doing extra trainings by myself and then out a big chunk on Saturdays and I found I was missing out on being around for events at the church, I was only getting to eat with Jo on a Monday night, because of Maori classes on Wednesday nights, and our community takeaways dinner on Fridays. And because I was playing for a club which isn’t in Mangere, I wasn’t really connecting with locals anyway. So I’ve scratched that endeavour, despite it being really enjoyable.

Another thing, has been this community garden. It’s been really cool to see the transformation from lawn to luscious vege patch, but because my neighbor is often out working, I’ve done a lot of it alone. Again, my efforts to connect get overtaken by my fixation on a task, which means I push on alone. While the task has been completed, the intended goal of the task has kind of been forgotten.

I’m finding I need to reach out to others who are also trying to do part-time stuff and if I’m less task orientated and more keen to connect with others, even if it means my tasks don’t get done as quickly, I’ll enjoy the process a lot more, rather than blithely digging holes to build a garden that no one really knows about.

I guess this is just a learning hump which comes with this lifestyle choice.

The Constant Gardener is certainly how I feel at the moment. Whoever thought starting a garden would be so hard. It’s pretty much been my full-time occupation over the last two weeks.

We started with a jungle of weeds, and a patch of thick Kikuyu grassed land.

I started with the front of our little flat. After a day’s battle with long grass, a few ugly flowering weeds and a wheelbarrow with a flat tyre, we now have a little patio of sorts and an extra bonus of a rose bush.

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The patch of grass on our back lawn has now been turned into a garden with the help of my Samoan neighbor and a lot of the kids around the street who are on school holidays. We’ve planted a chilli bush, a raspberry tree, a rosemary plant, coriander, echinacea, basel, silver-beat, broccoli, rocket, spring onions, radishes and broad beans.

It wasn’t easy-going. The rotary hoe we hired seemed to have a mind of it’s own and I feared for my friend’s feet and anyone nearby as it careered in any direction it chose. I also missed the return time but thankfully the hireage company didn’t charge us for the late return.

It’s only early days, and the jungle of weeds defecating it’s vile roots along our back fence is still there.

But it’s pretty cool seeing the fledgling plants all lined up in their little rows. So far the CDs on polls are keeping away birds (and potentially evil spirits) and it goes to show there’s some use for those bargain bin buys from the 90s.

Who knows if it’ll be a success, but hopefully a few more people around the area get in on it and the harvest reaps more than just good food, but some friendships. For now, I’ll be trying to weed out the remnant Kikuyu roots and working out a way to organically keep snail away.

Any suggesting would be much appreciated.

Jo and I have been trying to make the move into vegetarinism of late. Or at least give part-time vegetarinism a go.


– to save money by not buying expensive meat.

– to reduce our complicity to cruel and inhuman farming practices. Much of the meat we eat has pretty much been tortured to death, pumped full of drugs or harassed most of its life.

– to lose weight ( that’s for me, not jo).

– to live a bit more simply. Who said every meal needs, a meat, a vege and a carb. There are plenty of filling and creative ways to make dinner without sticking to this formula. And I find that I usually end up eating to much when I make something from each of these food groups, thus the pot belly.

And so we’ve been trying out some creative meals of late.

Here are some recipes of my personal favs that we’ve recently partaken in.

Jo made this mean falafel burger meal. real filling, and the crispy burnt bits of the falafel are even tastier than the crispy burnt bits on a sausage or meat patty.


Cousous salad. This literally takes 10mins from start to finish to make, and I made too much by mistake because it’s hard to believe such a small amount of coucous will fill us for dinner. But it really does, and so I had plenty for lunches.


Potato and bean curry

I made this in England, and it was bland-city. So I’ve tried it since and doubled up on the spices and it was rocking!

The recipe is my own -so I can’t paste a link. But just think beef curry, without the beef and two-times the spice. Oh and the potatoes and beans.

Something New: Tena koe. That’s the formal greeting we learnt at my Te Ara Reo course. Most of learning is done by singing or chanting. And there are lots of games, running around and free coffee – making it the ideal night class as it’d probably fall asleep if it wasn’t so interactive.

Something Old: My neck is also aching and I can barely lift my arms. That’s from my first rugby training. I haven’t played proper rugby since high school. Whether my body can stand up two intense sessions of beatings a week, followed by an even more intense match will be another matter – but the experimenting continues. It’s just an under-85kg team, and so I’m only 10kgs lighter than most of the guys. But it’s the fitness which is killing me already. I’m probably one of the fitter guys on a team run, but being able to hit rucks, make tackles and get back into a defensive line – is where I’m really struggling. It’s like an all-around fitness that I’ve never needed for any other sport, except maybe surfing. Getting through at least half of season of games before an injury would be my goal. I love watching rugby and talking about it and loved coaching it last year, so to actually play for a team which is highly motivated, well-coached as this one seems to be is just so cool and hopefully I can achieve a life-long ambition to smash someone in a Eroni Clarke-style tackle.

Something Borrowed: Last weekend we had dinner with friends and did a book and clothes swap. Managed to get a mean Al Green CD and a book I’ve been coveting for many a year. Totally loving the whole book swap thing, as I probably spend $50 to $100 a year at bookshops, but as it turns out my friends have pretty similar tastes as me, so swapping books is a way cheaper way to freshen up the shelves.

Something blue: Jo would like to get rid of a vase – similar to this one. Any takers?

E noho ra.

Here’s our shop’s deal of the week.

Each item is $5 each, but if you buy the whole emsemble its just $15. And we’ll pay for the P&H:

Check it out:





I’m sitting here, in our church’s op shop, on a warm Wednesday afternoon and its so quiet. I’m a volunteer at this fine little store. We are the only second-hand clothes shop in the suburb, situated in a side room, adjoining the church. One of the hardest things I find with volunteering for things like this, is being okay with the slowness. For much of my adult life I have managed to a lot tasks to every hour of the day. Whether it be a gym session, or a coffee with friends, or a blitz of study or work. Busyness is such a culturally acceptable to avoid engaging in relationships and helping with things. And when I do help, I generally prefer it to be a task which has a clear black and white result. Sitting in an op shop for a few hours each day on the other hand can be pretty mind-numbing if there are no customers. But don’t mistake this post for a whinge. I’m just learning to adjust to a different pace of life. One which is providing me the time to do the things I hoped it would. I guess I just didn’t realise how addicted I’ve become to the hectic, task-orientated, ego-massaging approach to living.
Here’s a picture of our op shop – ain’t it pretty.


Here are some recent observations about the differences between full time and part time work.
1. Less money
2. No one is in the park when I go for run at 2pm.
3. If you don’t have washing machine, you can’t just go buy new one. And you’re pretty stoked when a friend offers you a free one.
4. I’m drinking less beer and eating less pizza from Sal’s.
5. I have more time for reflection, but also Good Morning television too.
6. I still don’t have more time for cleaning the house?
7. I have more conversations with neighbours.
8. I don’t have after work drinks on a Friday.
9. I get to read more.