Caffeine in a vacuum

Last weekend’s adventure involved friends introducing Betty and the HP to siphon coffee.

This is the closest Betty has come to hard drugs, and to be honest it was intensely appealing.

The siphon paraphernalia draws water from a bulb into a chamber, brews the coffee, and then sends it back into the bulb in a rather rarefied form, with depths and intricacies of flavour that espresso doesn’t quite capture.

The only place we’ve found in Auckland so far that serves siphons is Espresso Workshop, in Britomart – they’re brilliant.

Check the domesticity

Had to whip up dessert for fifteen the other day. Made individual Eton messes with boysenberry and fig chum, was runaway hit at lunch.



Forgot to photograph the bashing-in of meringues’ heads, addition of whipped cream, and desecration with boysenberries and figs; isn’t that mixer a beauty, though?

Foxes have holes

All good things come to an end. The Scandretti-Persons’ landlords tipped them for the biff a few weeks ago, mainly because the landlady, who is four hundred and two, has lost the bulk of her marbles and come down with shingles both at the same time. This meant that Betty and the husband person had to scramble to find new digs, which fortunately wasn’t too hard; students were already sorted, and a number of apartment buildings had vacancies. The central city seemed the ticket, since apartments near Betty’s work tend to be leaky ex-hotel rooms with only a miniature toaster and a trouser press to cook in, so they cast a critical eye over a few towny places first.


Some were a little too awesome, like the abandoned railway station with a giant communal chessboard and original clocks – the upper stories have been adapted by slumlords, which would make a lovely, say, video game design, but leaves a little to be desired for living in.

Some, while perfect, were not to be. The 1930s-era hotel apartment with mezzanine bed and claw-foot bath, looking out over rooftops and the back of a gracious department store, was snapped up by a former guest before Betty could even fill in the papers.

The winning apartment, to cut to the chase, is in a perfectly ordinary building in the very centre of the CBD. From the sixth floor Betty and the HP look out over the public library, the art gallery, and the back of the (once again, abandoned) St James Regent Theatre. The area has quite recently been paved into a shared space for pedestrians, skateboarders, cyclists and drivers alike. Both the multiplex cinema and the indie arthouse are close enough to breathe on, practically; one can walk up the road or through the park to church, and Betty can catch the early bus to work moments after waking up, like Wallace and Gromit.

The library, as is fitting, has a distinct vibe of hipster-DIY; even the stoners who frequent the nearby stoop make their own bongs from recycled water bottles; a loosely communistic system of gold coins, circulated on request, keeps the local economy ticking over. Three and a half parking spaces are provided at ten minutes apiece, provoking a constantly changing installation of vehicular Tetris. The gallery clock chimes on the quarter hour. There is a café downstairs in which teenaged philosophers compare their colourful Doc Martens and sip long blacks.

There is an oven, a toaster oven, an insinkerator, a washer that dries, an ironing board, a balcony, and a large wardrobe. In short, Betty likes it excellently well, and intends to be very happy there. So the best is yet to come.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

Betty bought this cape in one of Laura Ashley’s epic sales years ago, and wore it to death. It’s the perfect length for not feeling armless, it covers a handbag in the rain, it’s lovely for cycling in, and it’s not navy blue: edgy. To Betty’s surprise, it also gets a lot of compliments (along with some sideways glances, but to each her own). Betty’s only regret, apart from not getting the red one as well, was the distinctly naff buttons – so when one finally popped off, she decided to replace them with something more interesting.


The internet was fresh out of Midsummer Night’s Dream picture buttons, but after quite a while of keeping an eye out, Betty came across this set of three antique French postal service uniform ones on Etsy. There were sets of five listed on eBay, but only at horrendous prices. Betty snaffled up the thrifty three and found a fourth semi-neutral one at the fabric shop.




Et voila:


All looking a bit well-loved, but it’ll deliver for another day. Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night…


Scandretti-Persons, House-Sitters, Dogs Also Minded.



In Devonport, one would sit anything, and mind on request. Betty is not a dog person, but she is a big fan, for example, of taking the ferry…


…and of working in the city, and keeping tabs on things to do.


Must look into that. The week of house-sitting ended with fish and chips on the beach – with perhaps a tiny dish of handmade aïoli from the French delicatessen.



It was nice. For various, mostly traffic-related, reasons, though, Betty is glad to be home.


The well-tempered volcano

Betty is laid on one side, figuratively, with labyrinthitis, so this will not be a wordy review. It was a lovely night out, though. The superb Groupe F transformed the side of the Auckland Museum into a giant seismograph, and let it run…






It was awesome. A merry band of yobbos behind us narrated, which only added to the atmosphere. At one point a bunch of animated frogs marched out and destroyed an innocent rainbow, which was a terribly bipartisan thing to include. There were human Catherine wheels and kapa haka dancers and picnic rugs and an excellent tomato-spud slice and good wine from rubbish glasses and a gatekeeper who didn’t mind that Betty’s client had provided tickets for the previous night. What more could we ask?