Tag Archives: Sky Tower

Happy New Year 2013!

Guess what?  I’m back!  I know I said Sharky Oven Gloves would be on a break until just after Christmas, but life happened (in a good way, don’t worry!) and I really just wanted to make the most of the last few days of my mum’s visit, and then Kat arrived for her visit (yay!).  And now suddenly it’s next year already.  Woah.  How did that happen?

I’d really just like to thank you all for reading Sharky Oven Gloves throughout 2012, sticking with it through its ups and downs (or perhaps I should say despite some really dull posts).  Even though some of you are still counting down the hours until the end of 2012 (catch up already – we’re 13 hours into 2013 here in NZ), I’d also like to wish you all a Happy New Year!  May 2013 be filled with health and happiness for you and your families, wherever you are in the world.

Fireworks off the Sky Tower – a fabulous combination of two of my favourite things to take photos of.

Sharky Oven Gloves will be back to normal soonish, but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your day!

4 Comments

Filed under Ramblings

Sharky Oven Gloves goes on holiday

Signs of life have been rather limited on Sharky Oven Gloves over the past ten days or so, but don’t worry, I’m still very much alive and kicking.  I quite simply haven’t had time to blog – I mentioned in my last post that my mum is visiting me, and we’ve been too busy having a generally marvellous time and enjoying the fabulous weather (sorry if you’re reading this in the northern hemisphere and having to make do with sleet/ice/snow/rain/all of the above).  Anyway, we’re off on a little ten day tour today (in fact, as this post publishes, we should be enjoying a hāngi – the traditional Māori way of cooking meals) and since I’m unlikely to have proper internet access and don’t really feel like attempting to blog from my phone, Sharky Oven Gloves is taking a little break until just after Christmas.

Of course, if I’d been super-organised, I’d have had all my recipe challenge entries sorted and a whole series of posts lined up ready to publish, but the key word there is if…  My general lack of organisation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most of you though.  On the plus side, at least you’ve got one less blog clogging up your Reader, vying for attention in the run-up to Christmas…  Silver linings and all that.  Speaking of Christmas, have a great one, and stay sane in the final stretch of the run-up!  Unless you don’t celebrate Christmas of course, in which case, carry on as usual!

Anyway, on that note, I’ll leave you with the sunset over the Waitakere Ranges seen from the top of the Sky Tower on Friday evening.

Who doesn't love a sunset?

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

1 Comment

Filed under Ramblings

Sunday Smiles: Hurrah for science!

Sunday SmilesIt’s December you guys, and you know what that means?  No more bah-humbug, it’s time to get excited about everything Christmas!  The facebook shark fin icon in my sidebar even has its Santa hat on (hey, don’t judge, that took me a long time to draw last year – graphic design is not my forte…).

So, on to this week’s Sunday Smiles:

  • You know what else December means?  It means the end of Movember, which is very popular here in NZ.  And the end of Movember means goodbye to those moustaches, many of which were just plain creepy.  Don’t get me wrong, Movember is a worthy cause, but I’d be significantly more enthusiastic if there had been more Poirot moustaches.  Because those are awesome.  Paedophile-esque moustaches, not so much.
  • You know what really warmed my heart this week?  Reading about the Sesame Collider, which is a science collaboration between several different countries in the Middle East, including …, Iran and Israel.  The project is providing opportunities for academics to work together, even though their respective countries have more or less vowed to obliterate each other.  Definitely a win for science.  And dare I say it, could it be a tiny, tiny, little glimmer of hope for the Middle East?
  • How amazing is this idea of filling balloons with coloured water and freezing them?  I wonder if you could make swirly patterns with the dyes – you’d probably have to flash freeze them in a -80°C for the water to freeze quicker than the dye evens out (if that makes sense).  Anybody ever tried flash freezing a water balloon?  You know what else would be fun?  Adding glitter.  (Image source)

Oh my gosh awesome!  Can we add glitter?!

  • I really enjoyed these photos of ballerinas in NYC – the incongruity of the ballerinas in their surroundings is what makes the photos really interesting.  That said, I think the last one (which is probably the least incongruous) is my favourite, because of its serenity.  Sidenote: I wish I had even half the grace of a ballerina.  Further sidenote: why is there a car parked on the pavement in the sixth photo?
  • So you’re probably all utterly sick of Gangnam Style, but I came across a Dutch version a couple of weeks ago, and since it’ll be Sinterklaas on Wednesday, I think it’s time to share it: Zwarte Pieten Stijl.  By the way, if you’re not familiar with the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, I realise that this paragraph probably didn’t make much sense, and the video probably just came across as completely bizarre.  You can read a bit about about Sinterklaas here, if you’re interested.
  • And finally, now that it’s December, it looks like the Sky Tower is all excited about Christmas, too!  Yay!

Sky Tower all dressed up for Christmas!  (At least, I'm assuming that's why it's red and green…)

What made you smile this week?

9 Comments

Filed under Sunday Smiles

Sunday Smiles: A last Olympic huzzah!

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?

4 Comments

Filed under Sunday Smiles

Sunday Smiles: Olympics withdrawal, laundry baskets and conclusively disproving the theory of evolution

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Sunday Smiles

A stressed-out postgrad’s Diamond Jubilee weekend (or lack thereof)

For the last month or so, the blogosphere has been littered with Union Jacks and blue, white and red baked goods in preparation for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Well, the part of the blogosphere occupied by Commonwealth citizens anyway.  Sharky Oven Gloves, I’m afraid, has been bereft of any Jubilee-related baked goods and blog posts though.  Not because I don’t want to celebrate, or I’m anti-monarchy (quite the contrary), but I quite simply haven’t really had the time to do anything special.  I don’t think that the Jubilee has been that big of a deal here in NZ – the shops certainly haven’t been plastered in bunting and full of Union Jack-themed everything as they seem to have been in the UK.  I may just be out of the loop, but I don’t think anything in particular was organised for the occasion either, aside from lighting a beacon in Blenheim (at the top of the South Island).  Incidentally, it seems that every single other Commonwealth country had flaming torches to light their beacons with, whilst NZ made do with one of those standard gas lighters that you use to light the cooker (if you have a super old-school cooker).  Something tells me that the Jubilee isn’t that huge of a deal here.  Perhaps there will be more excitement when Charles and Camilla visit in November as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.  At least it’ll be summer (and thus hopefully sunny and warm), so that’ll probably help enthusiasm levels.

The Sky Tower was lit up in blue over the long weekend – I don’t know if it was supposed to be royal blue in honour of the Jubilee or if it was just a coincidence.  Let’s go with the first option.  If they light it up in green for St Patrick’s Day, I think they can make the effort to honour the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.  Whatever your views on the monarchy, you have to admit that’s a heck of a long time to unrelentingly dedicate yourself to your country and be in the public eye, always expected to behave impeccably, not express any personal political opinions and represent not only the UK but a number of other Commonwealth countries, too, some with vastly different cultures to the UK.  And apparently not to express any emotions except when it comes to corgis and horses (I love the monarchy, but I find that a little odd – keeping a stiff upper lip is all well and good but seriously, a little genuine emotion now and then wouldn’t hurt, would it?).  Of course, it’s a role that she inherited, but over the last 60 years, I think she’s shown her aptitude for it.  Which is lucky – imagine having a monarch that clearly didn’t give a rat’s bottom for 60 years.  I don’t think anybody can fault the Queen for taking her duty very, very seriously.  And for that I congratulate her – she is truly admirable, even if I find the non-emotion thing a little disconcerting (perhaps that’s just my French side shining through…  Awkward).

I would have liked to throw a Jubilee party this weekend, but I don’t really know enough people here to do so, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have quite had the time to prepare for it.  I’d have probably organised an afternoon tea – because you can’t possibly do anything more British than that.  A proper afternoon tea, however, requires a heck of a lot of preparation, so it wasn’t really an option.  If you’re going to do something, do it properly, particularly if you’re celebrating somebody who has been the epitome of doing things properly and with great pomp and circumstance for 60 years.  Last year, despite being within days of the deadline for my dissertation (of doom), I still managed to bake up some Pimm’s cupcakes to nibble on in the computer lab during the Royal Wedding.  This year though, whilst I don’t have any impending deadlines (that I’m aware of…), I feel like I’m slowly sinking into a quagmire of physics that I don’t understand.  Physics which happens to be crucial to my thesis (despite it being a Marine Biology Masters) so it’s really stressing me out at the moment.  And impinging on my baking creativity, too, it seems, as I couldn’t come up with a straightforward recipe that I deemed suitably regal for today’s post.  Yesterday was a public holiday for the Queen’s official birthday in NZ, so I gave myself the day off and we went to see the Degas to Dalí exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery followed by a trip to the cinema, but most of the rest of my weekend was spent reading about electromagnetic fields and electroreception, rather than throwing a Jubilee party.  Usually when I say that I have my priorities right, I mean it ironically (because I usually don’t), but for once, I actually did get them right (sorry Your Majesty – I hope that doesn’t make me a traitor or something).  The most Jubilee-related thing that I did was to drink tea out of my Jubilee-themed mug (don’t judge the mug) and eat a couple of scones.  Which isn’t as sad and pathetic as it might sound – it’s just the life of a postgrad student.  Don’t worry, contrary to what the photo might suggest, I did not lose the plot and plaster my flat or desk in Union Jack tissue paper.

So even if I didn’t do anything special, I hope that you were able to and had a wonderful Jubilee weekend!  Or a wonderful normal weekend, depending on where you are in the world and whether Queen Elizabeth II is your head of state.

2 Comments

Filed under Ramblings, Student Life

Toothy’s Travels – New Zealand: Kiwi quirks, eh!

I’ve been in New Zealand for about two and a half weeks now, and you might have been expecting lots of posts about all the really exciting things that I’ve done.  Except that I haven’t really done a lot of visiting of things, and have been focussed on finding my way around, finding somewhere to live (minor detail), sorting out my research project (you know, the reason I’m here), and all the various other random administrative faff that moving and starting at a new university entail.  Oh, and attempting to make friends.  But I’ve made a bit of progress – I’ve explored quite a bit of central Auckland (see one of the many views from the harbour below), I’ve managed to find a flat, which I get the keys for tomorrow; I have a (perhaps slightly over-ambitious) research topic, which I’m now trying to iron out the details of; I’ve sorted out a phone, bank account, etc.; I’ve been given a desk in the postgrad lab; my swipe card to get into the Biology buildings finally arrived yesterday afternoon (although it doesn’t appear to work – sorting that out is today’s ongoing adventure); and well, I’m working on the friends thing (I’ll have a kitchen from tomorrow.  I suspect that the power of cake will help significantly with that one).  Until writing all of that out, I hadn’t quite realised how much I’ve managed to get done.  I’m fairly proud of myself actually!  So, as of today I’m going to end the blog mini-hiatus that seems to have imposed itself for most of the month of February and get back to blogging more or less regularly.

Actually, here’s a little secret (don’t judge me too much): I’ve always been slightly fascinated by the 29th of February , a date that only exists every four years.  When I was younger, my fascination revolved around the people born on this funny quirk of a day – imagine only being able to celebrate your birthday every four years!  I obviously valued the really important things in life…  Now though, I just think of it as a bit of a peculiar yet special day.  I quite like February the 29th actually, because it’s a bit of a quirky day, but there’s a very logical and scientific reason for it existing.

So because today is a bit of a quirky day (in case you think I’ve got the date wrong – it’s already the 29th in my timezone), I thought I’d write a post about a few of the quirks that I’ve come across in the process of settling into my new country (some endearing, some baffling).  Well, quirks might not be quite the right work, more the confusing little differences that I’ve noticed:

The curious lack of ovens – Whilst flat-hunting, I looked at a lot of flats online.  Now I know that space is at a premium in the centre of any city, so I wasn’t expecting huge kitchens, but I was surprised at the number of flats (perhaps around half) that didn’t have an oven.  Much to my bafflement, a large proportion of these oven-less flats did, however, have a dishwasher.  Now, up until now I have always considered an oven as a basic requirement, and a dishwasher as a luxury.  Especially in a small 1-person flat.  So how much washing up does a single oven-less Kiwi create?! And how do they bake cakes?

The sun, part I – I have an excellent sense of direction, but I rely heavily (and unconsciously) on the sun.  Which is fine in the Northern hemisphere which I’m used to, but in the Southern hemisphere the sun is suddenly in the wrong place.  Even though I knew this would happen, I kept going in the wrong direction by accident the first few days that I was here.  At least Auckland has the Sky Tower, which is remarkably handy for navigation.  (My previous encounter with finding directions in the Southern hemisphere was when I was doing boat work in South Africa.  That was seriously disorienting!!)  And my brain is slowly getting used to this whole sun-being-in-the-North thing.

The sun, part II – As well as being in the wrong place (for me), the sun is also deceptively strong.  Even though I read about it in all the guidebooks before I came, it still surprised me.  I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as in Australia, but it’s definitely much stronger than during summer in the Northern hemisphere.  Despite applying sunscreen, I’ve already managed to acquire a super-attractive t-shirt tan just from walking for 20 minutes down the partially-shaded main street in search of lunch the other day.  Luckily I don’t tend to burn easily, but if I did I definitely would have been caught out, even with sunscreen.

Seasonal confusion – It’s summer going into autumn here, which still confuses me a little, mostly in terms of trying to work out what fruit and vegetables are actually in season.  Seeing blueberries at the farmers’ market on Saturday briefly confused me until I realised that even though my automatic reaction was to consider blueberries in February a food crime, they’re actually in season here.  I need to find myself a NZ-specific chart of seasonal foods.   The trees still have all their leaves, too, which feels odd for February.  I also keep getting a surprise when I realise that it’s still daylight at 7pm, and then I remember that it’s summer…

Pedestrian crossings – The sound effects of the pedestrian crossings still make me feel like I’ve just accidentally wandered into some sort of computer game involving space, rockets and lasers shooting at aliens.  The green man is also animated and walks – in case you forget how to cross a road?  Or to remind people not to do alien impressions because of the accompanying sound effects?

The fauna – Auckland is much greener than I was expecting, and dotted with little parks and public spaces.  There’s a park just next to the university which has some beautiful oak trees (complete with acorns as it’s late summer) which lull me into a false sense of familiarity.  And then I turn the corner and there’s a palm tree, or other tropical fauna.  Occasionally you see a fir tree and a palm tree next to each other – I’m still finding that rather surreal.  Then of course there are all the plants and flowers that I’ve never seen before.

Talking Kiwis – As in the people, not the fruit or the bird, and this is in the endearing category (before anybody gets upset).  I don’t find the Kiwi accent particularly hard to understand, even though they do funny things to some of their vowels, but some of the slang is still throwing me a bit.  Some of it is very much British, and some of it really isn’t (jandals = flip-flops, and one I learned yesterday, chilly, short for chilly bin = cooler box).  The general rule seems that if you can shorten a word or phrase into a minimal number of syllables, then go for it.  A lot of Kiwis also seem to add “eh!” onto the end of sentences for no apparent reason, whether or not it’s actually a question.  I have a tendency to pick up accents and colloquialisms, so it’s only a matter of time before my accent starts changing (seriously, when I told Keely that I was moving to NZ, her first reaction was “oh, your accent is screwed…  Can we Skype lots – I want to hear it!”).

Kiwi attitude – Everybody is so friendly and relaxed.  Chilled.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s still summer, but the pace of life seems a little slower here.  Perhaps that sounds a little odd, but I mean that people seem to take the time to be outside, to stop for a coffee on the terrace, to enjoy an ice-cream, to go for a walk.  Studying is obviously important, but life and the great outdoors are important, too.  I could get used to that (whilst studying hard, obviously, don’t worry Maman!).

On that note, I should probably get back to my desk, eh!

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are!

7 Comments

Filed under Ramblings, Travel