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.

Film eyes

The husband person, who has been accumulating gift vouchers from several Christmas presents and volunteering thankyous, bought himself a second-hand GoPro.

It’s the coolest thing ever.



He is my one true love.

We also found this coconut on the beach. Who can say why?


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.


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?


On the spur of the moment, our good friend Fosdycke invited us to go to the cricket.


The husband person is a very keen cricket fan, and a leg-spin bowler himself, so he was excited to go; Betty is big on sitting still, and wanted to see what it was like, so she was excited too. Plans to bring nice things along, like a salad in a Mason jar, and a homemade lemon-stevia-and-matcha drink, which Betty was looking forward to, were quashed – it turns out that Eden Park security suspect that any glass receptacles will be repurposed as guided missiles later in the day, and they flatly refuse to let you bring them in. Fosdycke, who is a teetotaller, had to pour out two plastic bottles of cordial brought from home; they refused to give them the sniff test, or Miranda them in any way, and would only point sternly to the wheelie bin provided. (Of course, glass bottles of Tui are readily available inside.)

Even so, the atmosphere in the stadium was still quite lovely.



The fans were very well-behaved. This turned out to be mostly due to the fact that anyone having any fun was quickly asked to leave. Large billboards warned people against racist comments, which was nice, except for the pointed anti-Pom advertising displayed close by.


This chap started several Mexican waves and was escorted out by orange-vested guards.


He got a standing ovation and a kiss, though, so perhaps it was all worth it…


And in the stands opposite, people were having a grand time batting around a large bouncy ball, one of those floaty transparent balloony ones; security took it off them, but one of the Black Caps managed to scoop it out of the sin bin and give it them back; much applause.

About the game itself, there is little to say. New Zealand lost the toss and, rapidly, the game. Fosdycke was beyond despondent. At the very end, Mr Mills here caught the ball on the full and was transfixed by his own greatness, and the entire northern half of the stadium chanted for him to give a little wave, and after a while he was able to do so.


This was the last of the games that go only from two till nine-ish, but in a few weeks Betty and the husband person plan to go to one of the week-longs, in part. Betty will bring a plastic container and make her lemonade inside. They don’t take your folding knife, so that’s OK.

The Sailors

Another sunny weekend! The city is still freshly preened for yesterday’s Valentine’s day.


Betty and the husband person had a quiet lunch at the Wynyard Quarter.



Food truck pizza, 1. Rubbish disposable shoes, 0.


Mochi, as always, makes up for it.


Then, beside the bridge that folds up, a little crowd gathered to watch a French circus duo perform their original show.



The pre-show was a group of little fishies – and a splashy wee boy, whose identity I will protect.


The show itself was called The Sailors – a very French caper inspired by silent movies, in which the duo performed hilariously on the beams, and dizzyingly on the rigging of their own sailboat.






Punch and Judy have nothing on the French.



They’re called Voiliers Spectacle, and not to be missed. Betty is keen to see their other show, Between Wing and Island, when they sail back in April.