I spent most of this week rather wiped out from the tummy bug that ambushed me last weekend – an entire day of vomiting and not eating much for two days really does floor you. I didn’t have enough energy (nor the desire) to cook something more complicated than plain pasta until Tuesday evening, and even then my energy only extended as far as chopping up some kumara and roasting it in the oven… and then adding it to pasta. Being ill is miserable. And if I barely had the energy to cook, I certainly didn’t have enough energy to bake. No baking for an entire week. Sad times. Luckily, in an unusual fit of organisation, I had this week’s blog posts prepared, and there were quite a few things that brightened up the week.
Here are my Sunday Smiles for this week:
- The third season of Downton Abbey has started! Huzzah! Yes, it’s rather ridiculous, and yes, some of the plot points are dubious, but it’s utterly addictive and I’m hooked. I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t watched it, but it looks like Season Three is shaping up to be just as addictive as its predecessors.
- I’ve heard whispers that strawberries are very nearly in season here… I’m beyond excited. I adore strawberries.
- New Zealand offered the perfect antidote to any Olympics and Paralympics withdrawal symptoms this week with the Gold medal ceremony for Valerie Adams (women’s shot put). The original winner from Belarus was caught doping, so Valerie Adams, who also won Gold in Beijing, was upgraded from Silver medallist to Gold medallist. After some delays with getting the Gold medal back (apparently) and further delays whilst Valerie Adams was participating in other competitions, an official medal presentation ceremony was finally held on Wednesday evening here in Auckland. The Sky Tower was lit in gold for the occasion.
- But that’s not all. This was the first ever Olympic Gold medal ceremony to be held on NZ soil, so the Kiwis went all out and ended it with seven minutes of fireworks simultaneously in Auckland and Wellington. Can you imagine if NZ actually hosted the Olympics?! It would be amazing. Not to mention hilarious – my favourite part of the ceremony, which I must admit resembled more of a school prize-giving than the very official London Olympic ceremonies, was the part where the “MC” thanks Auckland’s mayor for having an easier to pronounce name than the Tongan royals present. I kid you not. You can watch the ceremony here in case you missed it or just want to listen to Kiwi accents (there are several speeches at the start, so the actual medal presentation part starts around 31:30, and the Auckland fireworks at around 45:00). I bundled up warm and went down to the Waterfront to watch the fireworks, which were beautiful.
- On a more sobering note, I heard about Operation Sugar this week, which aims to provide birthday cakes (baked by volunteer bakers) for critically ill children in NZ. I think this is a fantastic idea, although from what I understand (I need to read the information email properly) cakes need to be able to feed 40 people which might be a little past my abilities, so I’m not sure whether I can really commit yet. But I absolutely do want to spread the word!!! So if you’re a baker in NZ and you’re interested, head over to their facebook page for more information.
- The iPhone 5 and the new iOS release seem to have been the big tech news this week. I haven’t upgraded to iOS 6 yet (I was going to but then got distracted and forgot about it), but from what I’ve heard the new Apple Maps app is dreadful. There’s a whole tumblr dedicated to it (of course): The Amazing iOS 6 Maps. Whilst very amusing, I’m not sure how keen I am to update because I use the Google Maps app a lot.
- You may have noticed that I have a slight Instagram addiction… If you also share my over-enthusiasm for Instagram, you might appreciate the Instagram song which Craig sent me this week.
- And finally, this meme made me laugh about 56 times more than it should have… Don’t judge my sense of humour. Thank you Emma for brightening up my week no end – alpaca lunch next time we go for a picnic. In the meantime, I think I’ll be printing this out on Monday and pinning it next to my desk. (Not sure of the original source)
What made you smile this week?
I’ve already mentioned the post-Olympic void in my life. In fact I’ve had several search results this week for “the Olympics are over, now what,” so I’m clearly not alone. At least the Paralympics are coming up soon (hurry up already!). You might expect the Olympics Closing Ceremony to feature as one of my Sunday Smiles but if I’m honest I spent most of it somewhat bewildered and wondering what on Earth was going on (goodness knows what the rest of the world was thinking). Plus, it was the end of the Olympic Games.
So my Sunday Smiles this week, which contains a couple of Olympics withdrawal cures, are:
- First up, Dan Chung from the Guardian covered the Olympics solely using an iPhone (and a couple of extra lenses), which might not sound too promising, but he had to be pretty inventive for some of his shots and they’re actually rather impressive. I wish my iPhone photography skills were half as good. Seriously. Please refer to Instagram if you’d like proof.
- Somebody set up a tumblr (a tumblr? Is that correct?) called Mo Farah Running Away From Things, which is exactly what it says. My favourites are him running away from the Black Riders, the one below, and him running away from dinosaurs, because, you know, dinosaurs (= awesome!). Although don’t tell the Creationists, or it’ll probably end up in a textbook since
Photoshop this photo shows that dinosaurs and humans are both clearly alive at the same time and is thus conclusive proof that contradicts the theory of evolution.* (Photo source)
- In non-Olympics news, the lovely Camilla from Little Macaroon sent me a link to a shark-shaped laundry basket. Most fabulous laundry basket ever? Yes! My birthday isn’t too far off, so uhm, anybody wanting to get me a present… Ahem. *Cough* In the meantime, I wonder how difficult it is to sew large pieces of felt together… (Photo source)
- One of my labmates told me about Western Springs Park so I decided to investigate on Saturday afternoon since it was sunny and fairly warm. There’s a lake in the middle that you can walk around, with plenty of ducks, black swans (there were even a few cygnets!) and other water birds. But the most amazing thing is that the lake is full of longfin eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii), NZ’s only endemic eel species. There’s a bridge which they seem to cluster around and the water was teeming with them. It was so cool to see!
- The Sky Tower was all multicoloured this weekend to celebrate its 15th birthday. The colours kept changing and it was a little bit mesmerising to watch.
- And finally, something that I’m looking forward to next week: one of my friends from St Andrews is in Auckland this weekend and we’re going to the All Blacks vs. Australia match! SO excited!!!
What made you smile this week?
*The fact that there are kids being taught through a legitimately recognised school system that A) the existence of the Loch Ness Monster has been conclusively proven and that B) this means that the theory of evolution is balderdash utterly terrifies me, so I have to make a joke out of it to cope. As for the line about Apartheid, words actually fail me.
This has been a bit of an uneventful week. I had grand plans for the weekend but they were totally thwarted by my waking up yesterday morning with a throat so sore that I could barely swallow, which was suspiciously reminiscent of my previous encounters with tonsillitis. I feel a little better today, so I really really hope that it isn’t. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see, and my plans will have to wait for next weekend…
My Olympics-dominated Sunday Smiles this week are:
- One of New Zealand’s big, popular comedic talents are the Flight of the Conchords duo. They had a reunion tour around NZ a couple of month’s ago, and I kept hearing about them but didn’t know any of there work. This week I finally watched the first season of the Flight of the Conchords TV series. I wasn’t too convinced by the first few episodes, but it definitely grew on me and I actually found it rather hilarious by the end.
- As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I have a copy of River Cottage Veg Every Day from the library at the moment – I’ve tried a couple of other dishes in addition to the chachouka that I posted, such as the scrumptious mushroom risoniotto (look out for a blog post soonish). They all turned out wonderful, and I really like the book. I predict that there will be a copy residing on my bookshelves permanently in the near future.
- There’s a section of my blog stats that tells me what search terms have directed visitors to my blog. The last few weeks haven’t provided any funny ones, but this week the internet apparently thought that I’d be a good source of information on “the fear of running out of butter” and “accidentally gave 4 year old too much caffeine.” Both amused me. Sucks to be the second person though.
- The Olympics carried on this week, and although I’m not the biggest fan of athletics (I get bored of it after a while), since the coverage here is mostly highlights, I watched it anyway. I’m so glad that I was able to see one of Saudi Arabia’s first two female Olympic athletes compete in the women’s 800m (the other was in the judo, but I didn’t really watch it). She had to compete in full sleeves and leggings and headscarf, which can’t be terribly practical and must be boiling given that most other athletes are in little two-pieces and she went out in the heats (to an ovation from the crowd), but what an achievement for her. Although I’ve read that there has been a lot of backlash and criticism against the two female athletes back in Saudi Arabia, so perhaps it’s doesn’t represent as much progress at it may initially seem. I also loved seeing other “underdog” athletes, such as the rower from Ghana. I can’t be the only one who just watches events because they’re on without any actual knowledge of them. The other day I discovered the keirin. Seriously, have you seen it? It’s a cycling race where the competitors follow a motorised bike for several laps, which gets slightly faster each lap, then disappears and everybody cycles as fast as they can. Well, that’s my interpretation anyway. It’s the oddest thing to watch. Also, the motorised bike guy looks like he should be in a Tintin cartoon (just me?). Also what’s up with the race where there are two cyclists and they cycle along at a glacial pace and then out of nowhere put on a crazy burst of speed. Could anybody explain the tactics behind that one? Along the same lines of sports that don’t seem to make much sense, have you seen the canoeing where the canoeists (?) paddle whilst kneeling rather than sitting? Who thought that was a good idea? (Anybody have any stats on the number of people that fall out whilst racing? I spent the whole race expecting somebody to over-balance.) Also speed walking – who came up with that and made it an official sport? It looks so uncomfortable (and difficult not to break into a run). Less than a day to go before the Closing Ceremony… I don’t want the Olympics to end! At least there will be the Paralympics soon! (Photo source)
What made you smile this week?
This week saw the start of August. I’ve no idea how time is managing to disappear so quickly, but I really wish it would slow down a bit! Although spring and summer are definitely something to look forward to (I’m not sure when spring officially starts here, but it can’t be too far off…?).
Quite a few things made me smile this week, so I guess this week’s list of Sunday Smiles is fairly long, but I’ll try to keep the entries concise (and I might even succeed for once! Ha. Ha. Ha.):
- I mentioned last week that I missed the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony because of time differences. The guys in the lab showed me how I could watch any program that’s recently been aired on NZ freeview TV through a service that the university provides (so it’s perfectly legal), which is super handy. For some reason I could only get the first two hours of the ceremony, until just before the torch was lit, but I managed to watch that bit on YouTube, so it’s ok. I’ll be honest, I was expecting the ceremony to be a bit of a fiasco, but it was spectacular. I cried at several points (I’m pathetic like that) and the Chariots of Fire/Mr Bean sketch and the Bond and the Queen segment with the corgis were utterly brilliant and probably my favourite bits. (Image source)
- Of course, after the opening ceremony comes the actual Olympics… I haven’t really been watching any of it live because of the time difference, but one of the free-to-view TV channels here is entirely dedicated to Olympics coverage so we get the main highlights and re-caps throughout our daytime, and conveniently we can stream the channel through the university network (general productivity in the lab has plummeted this week). Since there’s only one channel we don’t really get to choose what we want to watch, but this week has worked out fairly well (Sky is also showing the Olympics and I think there is more choice across their channels, but of course you need a subscription), with lots of rowing, sailing, swimming and gymnastics and a little bit of fencing, all of which I enjoy watching. The coverage is obviously very Kiwi-centric, which means that I saw the men’s double sculls race four times on Friday (the Kiwis won gold in what was undeniably a fantastic race), but I’m ok with that, and it probably means I get a bit more work done since I can detach myself a bit more (maybe).
- The surprise of my week came in the form of snowdrops. I didn’t think that snowdrops existed here, since it hardly gets below freezing in winter and so on, but apparently they do. And apparently they flower in late July/early August (mind blown – apparently I’m still not as used to the seasons here as I thought). I adore snowdrops, so seeing a whole clump definitely made me smile, especially since they were so unexpected!
- I requested Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake from the library an age ago, and have been patiently making my way up the waiting list. I was finally able to pick up a copy this week. I think the book is aimed more at beginner bakers and loosely follows the author’s journey of learning to bake. However, I found the introduction, in which Miriam talks a little about her (on-going) struggle with depression, to be a very interesting read. And encouraging, too. I’ll have to take a closer look at the recipes this week – there were a couple that caught my eye when I briefly flicked through them.
- A new month means turning a page on my desk calendar. My calendar has little funny ramblings every month and August’s has been making me laugh since I first flicked through the calendar before buying it. Now I get to look at it almost every day for a month. In case the photo isn’t too legible, this is what it says: “Know that invariably after a flop comes a flip* *Unless you inadvisably choose the open-toe sandal with sock approach to life when it would be fair to say you deserve whatever is coming to you.” Ha ha.
- Poor grammar is one of my pet peeves. The correct placement of apostrophes and the differences between there/their/they’re and your/you’re aren’t exactly rocket science. I’m not sure how I came across this video (warning: there’s some swearing), but it amused me greatly (and left me in awe of his speed rapping skills). Plus I love the original song as well, even if the video is a bit odd.
- I went to the Auckland leg of the NZ Food Show yesterday, and it was wonderful. There were, of course, plenty of food stands, and
lots of the odd wine stand. I’ll be writing it up in a blog post so suffice to say that I had a great time…
- And finally, how stunning are these colourful light art photos? I particularly love the jellyfish one. I’ve no idea how it’s done, but it’s amazing.
So. About being concise… ya… Good effort on the last few points, but not so much the ones about the Olympics… Maybe next time.
What made you smile this week?