Monday, July 12, 2010

Hobbit with a latte habit

Have just got back from a glorious week of skiing in New Zealand. Despite having lived in Sydney for a grand total of 10 years (in three separate stints – just call us indecisive on the geographic front), I have never actually made it over the Tasman Sea to the land of the sheep and strange piercings. In true cynic form I had dismissed New Zealand’s claim to stunning natural beauty as hyperbole and assumed that all the amazing photos of the landscape were probably shots similar to those taken of miniscule flats by estate agents perched up a ladder in the corner in order to create an illusion of space. Time to fess up – I was completely blown away by how truly beautiful and unspoilt, not to mention unpopulated the South Island of New Zealand is. There was a spot of ancestral yearning going on too, as there are parts that are very reminiscent of Scotland at its best. I am now adding New Zealand to the list of places where I would like to spend a couple of years once we are no longer fettered by children needing a stable location.

The ‘Lord of the Rings’ was shot around Queenstown where we were staying so we hired the full DVD set in homage and spent blissful evenings all tucked up in a giant kingsize bed working our way through the Middle Earth sagas. I kept checking my toes for hobbit like hair as I still haven’t recovered from a Sydney beautician who enquired whether I wanted my toes waxed which has left me with a bit of hirsute feet complex. I found myself watching for feet shots as apart from a fellow sympathy on the hairy toes front I couldn’t imagine how on earth the hobbit actors survived trotting round bits of the New Zealand in their bare tootsies.

Downside of the truly great holiday is it makes the return to the piles of washing and chaos somewhat depressing. I had resolved to remain the calm and fun mother of the holiday, which lasted until approximately 10.30 a.m. when I had my first shout of the day. Like an AA member who has fallen off the pledge wagon I felt a miserable failure but decided it would be best if I took myself off for a cup of coffee rather than risk further splurges on the temper front.

Holiday mood was immediately restored by indulgence of Weekend Financial Times and large skimmed latte. I know I have wittered on before now about what a wonderful eclectic read the Weekend FT is, but I almost always find something that adds colour to my day. Today the article that really resonated with me was by Simon Brooke about shirtmaker Emma Willis who has been making handmade shirts for injured British soldiers. Years ago my mother had two white shirts made for me out of heavy cotton and I have worn them until they are literally falling to pieces. I always feel a million dollars in them and I don’t think any other shirt has ever come close in terms of attractiveness. So I was struck by what an imaginative and confidence building thing Emma Willis is doing and in fact the article was enough to have me wiping my eyes and sniffing unattractively over my coffee as I read the ending quote by 20 year old Tom Lawlor who has lost both legs, “I’ll wear my shirt on Friday. I’ll be going out on my new legs for the first time and I’ll be walking tall.”

On a final coffee international vocabulary note I have added the New Zealand polite ‘trim’ Latte to my list. I now have mantra – when with Kiwis have a ‘trim’ latte after I’ve wheeled my trundler round the supermarket, when in Sydney ask for the typically down to earth ‘skimmed’ latte, and when in New York order what is surely an aspirational ‘skinny’ latte. The US skinny latte tag seemed particularly appropriate, as the favoured greeting in the queue in Starbucks in Rye used to be “You’re looking so skinny” - I used to assume if one wasn’t greeted in this manner by acquaintances (and I never was) they were mentally clubbing together for the Weight Watchers membership.

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