Tuesday, 8 April 2014

"I'm in the middle of a 30 life crisis. What should I do? I know, I'll going trekking in Nepal" - April 2013

Fast forward one year and the time has arrived! No more 30 life crisis, I’m not doing with 10 years of that crap.
But I’m really doing this!! I’m going to climb Himalayan mountains and return a better person. Upon descent of the mountain I’ll be struck the dazzling understanding of my purpose in life and the only weight on my shoulders will be the masses of curls on my head (And there is more than one mountain in my trip so odds are good). I will be cleansed of my evil banter and the frown lines on my forehead will melt away into a creamy surface of my former face. They say not to drink the water, but when you drink from the natural spring and then surely youth, a husband, or three wishes appear. Have we not seen this proven by many, many Disney films? The odds of returning with a husband could be very high. As outlined by the guide Dan, also my friend from birth and possibly now former back-up-husband. I think he’s trying to shirk reasonability of me as we creep closer to 35. He needn’t worry, I wouldn’t ruin what we have by marrying him.

The preparation has gone fairly well. I've managed to go on at least two walks a week, around the flats of London. A few dips here and there. I think I’ve spent more time talking about intended exercise routines than actually executing them. There was the gym membership for incline treadmill training, that didn’t eventuate. There was the promise of taking 312 stairs, up 12 floors, to my desk every day that fell short (It’s not my fault, I’m always running so late to work. And when it’s the choice between coffee and stairs, then coffee makes life easier for my colleagues). There was the trip to the highest mountain in England (900m), which no one else was very interested in doing and I sure as heck wasn’t doing it alone. And finally there were a series of regular setbacks like rain, late nights at work, offers to go out for drinks, a debacle with returning walking boots and rebuying exact same model 3 weeks later. £10 saved though, so there was a silver lining. Even if it was 3 weeks less of breaking in my badass boots.

The purchasing of the badass boots was quite an ordeal. My first experience in Cambridge, but store shall remain nameless, was rather intense. Mainly due to the uncomfortable amount of attention the assistant paid to my feet. He mentioned my high arches – ah yes, a life-long problem – and my protruding Achilles. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! My Achilles didn’t appreciate all the prodding either. Or stroking. Without boring you too much the ordeal took 45 minutes and I didn’t buy the boots because they didn’t feel right. They rubbed on the protruding bits. After that, I didn’t find another assistant that was quite so keen to help me. In the mountain store in the City, near where I work, they ignore me and served wealthy looking bankers (when clearly I needed the help most!). Finally I chose my own boots through my own assessment. So far, they are doing just great. Although they are yet to meet something higher than a mound.

I’ve also spent a significant amount of unnecessary time stressing about what could go wrong – altitude sickness, bitten by rabid monkeys (because I stinged out on paying £150 for the shots), falling so far behind the rest of the group I’m left alone on the mountain. I’ve bought fluro attire to solve that last one. And the coffee addiction. Currently a 4-shot black in the morning, sometimes a flat-white in the arvo. Wondering how long it will be before Dan doesn’t like me even as a friend any more. Can you be voted off the group when you’ve paid to be there?
But now, the time has come. There’s nothing left to do except strap on my backpack and fill it with positivity. Well, I’ve got to make it there first. I’m still haunted by the comment Kammy gave me when I left for my OE in 2008: “We’re all expecting you to miss a few flights”. So far I’ve only proved her right once. Although, several other occasions have come close.

Friday, 4 April 2014

"I'm never flying with Ryan Air, ever again. This time I’m serious!"

Is it bad luck to post a blog you wrote nearly two years ago, even if it’s still relevant? I might be starting a trend and attempting to finish a bunch of half written blogs to suffice as content for those lovely friends of mine who think they want to read about my non-sense (hyphen intended).

I can bring this one back into present day by saying I ACTUALLY did follow through with my title statement. Since August 2012, when the following was written (although never transitioned over to the world wide web, apart from one irate Twitter rant) I have only flown with RyanDoggshiteAir once. I can justify that by saying my friend booked the flight and gave them her money, not mine.

Let’s go back to August 2012 when I was fatter (remarkably some things have changed) and no less short tempered (annnnnd other things don’t) when I created the following set of rules for a bad start to any holiday.

A stressful start to your holiday is remarkably easy to achieve. To begin, book a 7.30am flight and ensure chosen airport is on the outskirts of town. Forget to bring online boarding pass and, most importantly, be flying with Ryan Air. For the deluxe version, wait in a queue with 20 other people all scrambling - in panic - for new boarding passes, or worst case, new tickets.

It’s highly likely the majority of this queue will argue with the stony faced woman at the desk. And they will do this for an unnecessary amount of time. In between checking your watch and tapping your foot with impatience, you'll also find yourself warding off the Pusher-Inners. They’re the ones with desperate stories falling on unforgiving faces. They should be dealt either a cold, hard stare or a nonchalant shrug "We're all in the same boat buddy!"

Then there's the delightful surprise of the cost, because you misheard £16 was actually £60! OUTRAGE! Just accept it for now and file it away in the "Twitter rage this later" box.

But wait, there's more. There is another queue to join now, (OF COURSE THERE IS) to get the printed version of the boarding pass. Excuse me…..what?! This was just the payment queue? Of course it was, how silly to expect the efficiency of the printer and cashier on the SAME DESK.

And maybe….just maybe….. you've reached your patience threshold so feel free to storm away from the desk, fuming in disgust, only to spin around and throw over your shoulder a "Ryan Air really are thieving bastards!". This will feel slightly satisfying but you will look like a crazy person, to the delight of everyone waiting in the queue (the first one).

Next there is security to conquer – in record time – to make the flight. Unnecessarily grouchy airport staff commanding; jacket off, boots off, jewellery off, belt off. Reassemble items and make a mad dash through airport, out to the gates on the edge of the runway. Join the longest queue in the world.

Ryan Air, just so we are clear…..I’m never flying with you again.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

"I'm trying to find the motivation to write, not just to whinge." July 2013

July is the turning point, the downslide to Christmas when suddenly we realise that it's HALF WAY through the year and before we know it, that will be 2013 over. Last year July featured sporadic weather tantrums which had started with optimistic sunshine in March and spent the months following teasing us with pieces of summer, spaced out between plunging temperatures and thunder storms. This year it is GLORIOUS. I've fallen in love with London all over again. All the cliche things happen; Londoners are happy and walk with a spring in their step instead of the usual hustle. The tourists feel less intrusive. The concrete jungle sparkles and the parks are full until 10pm, finding a space is like navigating the beach in Spain.The pavements are packed with punters swigging cider and cheerily declaring good things about the weather. Because, no matter what month it is or who you're with, you should always engage in some weather small talk. And I love it all. I love the pop-up street feasts even though they're the new fad, serving up greasy cultural grub and charging you about the same price to perch on the curb to gobble it down. I love the portable cinema screens wheeled into the parks, showing vintage movies from the 90s and obligingly allow you to bring your own bucks fizz and picnic. I love taking my little cousins to the park and showing them how good I am at rollypolly games, until I realise my hair has spun itself into something that resembles gigantic candy floss and the the other parents are sideways glancing at me. Most of all I love how everyone in the city really, really appreciates Summer turning up and giving us some of its best work. There becomes a point when it's almost unbearable and some of us start to whisper that maybe Summer could try not to be quite so server with its strength. The tube is a sweat-fest and more often than not, you complete your journey wearing the perspiration of the 7 other people who were jammed in various angles up against your body. But it's rather hard to tell who are the smelliest ones, when it's mixing in with your own. 

July also seems to be the month when I remember I have set New Years Resolutions (NYR), which have been neglected and procrastinated, with little eventuating towards any status of achievement. It was July last year (or was it the year before?) when I started my NYR blog and although I had good intentions (and many scraps of notes written on magazines, receipts, meeting notes) my dedication to the blog has been poor. It all ended badly after the angry-Jan post, with me signing off with false promises of something better to come and following through with silence. July's here, time to break the silence and start practicing for NYR14 (write a daily diary - don't worry it's private). Inspired by two sisters who have written a daily diary for years and frightened by my increasing memory loss, I think more writing down of information is required in my life. 

Let's go back to the start - not January, not going there again - February! Now that was a lovely month, I turned 30 and my face didn't shrivel up. I'm still not completely ok with the 30s factor in my life, but I'm being a big girl and sucking it up. It's not all bad. The hangover from my 30th bash was a dignified 3 hours on the sofa watching Don't Tell The Bride. Although that's more likely to be down to the toast cousin Meg made at 3am, proving the benefits of being a mother for a few years, you HAVE to master the art of preventing hangovers.  The winter was cruel and it wasn't letting up for February. Forking out to travel across the world to the motherland feels painful at point of payment but mercifully worth it to spend 3 weeks in sunshine and happiness. Bathing in the love from my family and friends. Relaxing with the joy that they get my stupid humour….. and accept me for it. British people are higher up the the ranks of sarcasm acceptance, but I often have to water it down. If my workmates heard even half of the *hilarious* comments I save for the audience inside my head, they would probably put me on the desk of exile.  
The long and short of the NZ trip - it was amazing. I helps me remember who I am and where I came from. This may sound ridiculous but it's amazing how many of the friends or colleagues I've met in London are surprised to learn I'm a farm girl from a small country town. One reaction, from a previous manager, was "I'm sorry, I just can't begin to imagine it. You're such a city bitch". I'm unsure if this is meant as a compliment. I chose to take it as one. When I have a similar reaction from another colleague in my latest job, I tell her I can milk cows and my friend Manu who's a full time farmer even said I was pretty good at it. She's astonished. She immediately turns around and repeats this news to someone else, they too are impressed. Because apparently I handle the city so well…..I explain it's my natural aggression and confrontation attitude that bodes me well in the city. 

I returned to Bonny old England, welcomed with good bashing of rain and sleet whilst wearing nothing but a flimsy cardie. It's -3degrees the taxi driver tells me disapprovingly. I explain I've come from the summer glory of New Zealand. He can't be bothered with my participation in the conversation so for the entire 1.5hr ride he barks out a monologue ranting about his lazy wife, his greedy brothers, his ungrateful children and how he could've been a millionaire because when he arrived from Africa property prices were £7,000.  I find myself yearning the east london cabbies who hear your tourist accent and ignore you for the duration of the journey. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

"January is such a bitch" - January 4, 2012

"January is such a bitch. Out to get us with the extra kgs, back to work blues and new year fuckoff resolutions. And 30 hiding around the corner ready to team up with January next year and try to destroy us.....we have a year to prepare for that". A message I sent to my friend Marie at the end of the first day of back-to-work-blues.
Four days into the new year and so far I’ve managed to achieve ‘mentalist’ status with a public meltdown at my desk on my first day back at work. To be fair most of the zombies in the office aren’t taking much notice of me, they tuned out to my drone long ago, unless you count the occasional glance of annoyance when I’m telling a great story that involves some kind of inappropriate office etiquette. No great stories today just tourettes-style rants. Only my antipodean neighbours, Marie and Hamish, are aware of this spectacle I’m making of myself - because they have to. I’m updating them at 15 minute intervals about my decent into a melodramatic breakdown about how crap the start of this year is going. Actually, most of the things causing this scene haven’t even happened yet. It’s my anticipation of how  I’m about to relive groundhog day – a yearly routine of it being January, a new year…..of endings. End to the job contract, end to the flat, end to the money coming in, end of year 28 ………..lots of ends leaving me for the third year running jobless and homeless at precisely the same time. I’m not superstitious but this repetition is less than ideal for my plan to be rich and prosperous. I love making New Years Resolutions. I just hate having to make the same ones over and over. Any of my friends would  be inclined to point out that I have the tendency to exaggerate and over-think trivial things relating to myself. Marie reminds me it will be worse next year when it’s the eve of my 30th. Oh god, the 30-bomb…..definitely can’t handle that right now. Hamish delights in reminding me I  should probably be thinking about the biological clock. The only clock around here will be my fist connecting with his smug mug.

The thing about my meltdowns are they jump out and smack me in the face when I’m least expecting it. They start with my fondness of poking fun at myself and then a ridiculously insignificant reason will push the situation into the dingy depths of ‘oh god that’s not funny anymore, that’s pathetic. I’m pathetic’. Today’s meltdown was triggered by reading my brothers new travel blog and realizing he’s got an amazing natural talent for it. And it’s much better/funnier/quirkier than anything I write. I’m calling this niggley little feeling Older Sister Deficiency Ability Disorder, otherwise known as jealousy (although I’m equally very proud of his talent). I wrote a quick note to congratulate him. He wrote a quick note back about a new venture he’s thinking of doing…..this possible success was all too much for me to tapped out a quick response without thinking much about it “Oh god, I can’t handle this kind of information right now, I’m having a new year breakdown because I am a failure”. I was kidding. Well, I thought I was kidding but those last three words stabbed me somewhere where it hurts (vaguely the pit of my stomach, buried under the extra kgs of Xmas spread) and as they stared back at me on the screen I felt the hot creep of a flush and shortage of breath expose my disposition. Not so funny anymore. I swore and deleted the traitorous humour. Marie and Hamish are staring at me with a mixed expression of concern/amusement/touch of smugness as they realise I’m embarrassing myself and they will get some mileage out of it. I have to leave the office for an external meeting and they remind me to stay away from the razors tonight. I take Marie’s advice and wallow in some self pity for the evening, do some of that unattractive crying that makes your face puff up till the wrinkles are gone (a silver lining, hallelujah!) and watch Mama Mia because it’s the only thing I can find that’s so-bad-it's-good-for-me-right-now. What is it about a new year that makes me feel so unsatisfied with what I have? I realise that for many years I always feel this way – usually towards the end of January when the it's almost birthday time. Usually I’m in charge of quitting jobs and directing moves. This year the universe has taken it out of my control and done me a favour – tired of my indecisiveness probably – given me a clean start for 2012. Life isn’t as bad as it seems. It’s just that comedown of the holiday high that tries to defeat the optimism of a new year.

My ‘work family’ check in on me – each of them send me a jokey message with an underpin of caring. I’m almost in the mood to make of fun myself, must of hit the bottom and be heading on the up. Marie posts my text response (intro to the blog) in her status on facebook and it gets a bunch of likes. It’s consoling. People love self loathing, even more so when it’s watching someone else spiral into it.

Mum sends me a diplomatic email in response to something I fired off to her in my Life is Just Not Fair moment earlier in the day – “Sam’s is not way better, it’s clearly his voice just as yours is your voice. Keep writing”. This post probably wasn't what she had in mind.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

“Bill Cunningham New York – the documentary that made me fall in love with NYC” repeated since June 2010

My favourite film of the film festival last year was undoubtedly the documentary Bill Cunningham New York about the quirky character behind the NY Times On the Street column, a pictorial of fashion from the streets of New York and beyond. His clever eye and fearless cycling skills (his life flashed before my eyes several times) allow him to document the fabulous individuality and charisma of the eclectic style that makes New York a fashion feast. I love that Bill is often seen ignoring the catwalks because his mantra is all about people’s own creativity, so even at the prestigious fashion events he is spotted snapping more of the crowds than the next seasons showcase.

It was inspiring to watch someone so enthusiastic about what they do, although it was to such an extreme I couldn't help but wonder if there was a slightly autistic nature about him. But with such a delightful personality you can’t help but love him, if not for his wise cracking, then for his absolute modesty and perseverance for a hobby that he lives and breathes. Anna Wintour credits him with a quote “We all get dressed for Bill” and although he is a legend in his own right, he indulges in nothing more than an opportunity to get his next photograph.

I was utterly captivated and enjoyed every minute the film, I wish there was more! His friends are eccentric and just as entertaining; between them they must have some amazing tales to tell. How I wish they would!
I sporadically follow Bill’s On The Street column online where he narratives his pieces and I can enjoy listening to this wonderfully odd individual. When I was in NY earlier in the year I said to my friend Katie that of all the people I could see, if it couldn’t be Jay Z & Alicia Keys hanging out on the Empire State Building having a jam, then I would want to see Bill Cunningham haphazardly weaving through the yellow cabs on his bicycle, stopping traffic to get the perfect shot. Katie turned to me and laughed, because on her way to meet me 2 hours before she was 80% sure she had walked past him. Damn, timing is everything and I’d timed out of my chance for a glimpse.

  If you haven’t seen it already and you love fashion, photography or New York then this a doco for you! 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

"This one time, there was this riot....." August, 2011

I always figured if I was going to witness a riot, it would most likely involve myself stampeding for the new Alexander McQueen at Primark prices*. Instead, from my flat I sat and watched the London riots unfold outside, unable to turn away, almost the way you are magnetised to watching a car crash scene. Although it really wasn’t so gruesome. I’ll take you back to the day it all kicked off…..
It’s Monday afternoon and I’ve just arrived back from Spain, heading straight to Waitrose to get my ‘post holiday diet’ rabbit food for dinner and I almost walk straight into the grill that’s been pulled down. My first instinct is to be furious with Waitrose for being shut and then relief that it’s only the main door (although I remain mildly annoyed with their incompetence). When we question the lady at the counter she says it’s in preparation for the riots. What riots? Apparently north London has had trouble........ but surely they wouldn’t come to the south west, at the very least to Clapham? Walking home I notice a few shops are shut and it’s not even 5pm. I Google ‘Clapham and riots’ but nothing comes up so therefore *obviously*  if Google doesn’t know about it then it’s not really true. I go off for a run, laughing at the prospect of riots in our area and make some jokes to myself when I see the Park Police out on patrol…..what are they going to do, use their leaf blowers?
After my post-holiday-exercise-regime run I head to the pub to meet Kim and Shereen for a pint or two (forgotten post holiday diet already) and at the start of a fresh round of drinks my friend Amie rings me, panicked, to say there is a mob of 50 hooded youths (and growing rapidly) and riot police outside her flat which is just down the road. I instruct the girls to get up and leave, immediately. Not saying why but impressed they don’t question me and abandoned full pints without hesitation. I questioned this later, scolded myself for not sculling it, little did I know I would need a stiff drink just a short time later.
My flat is just off the main street of Clapham Junction, above the Pizza Metro, not far from where the trouble is, and I argue with Kim about her walking home, trying to make her ring a taxi but finally compromising that my flatmate, Kate Jones, will walk her home along the back road that connects our two houses. When she gets home she rings to say everything has kicked off the these hooded youths have began a demolition spree  and now Jones is now trapped at her friend’s house, randomly next door to Kim’s. Eventually Jones rings our flatmate Paul to go and fetch her, I try to make Paul take a taxi but he’s intent on being the hero and you can’t argue with an Irish criminal lawyer, they think they know it all. They arrive back to the flat a bit dazed by what they’ve just witnessed although they didn’t feel unsafe because at this stage the frenzied youths are only focused on stealing, one even stepped aside with his plasma TV said ‘excuse me’ and let them pass.
Meanwhile, I have Shereen at my flat freaking out. She’s fresh off the boat and already having a tough start to London life so these circumstances are escalating her uncertainties. At the pub I’d been telling her how great London is and now she’s shouting at me ‘I thought you said London was safe’ .....um yeah..... damn you karma you always like to show up and prove me wrong don’t you. Amazingly, I remain calm and somewhat composed. My friends who know me well will be doubtful that this is the truth. Instead of having the usual Kate Senior Ridiculous Meltdown I do practical things like change out of long floaty maxi dress into shorts and lace ups to enable running from window to window for rubbernecking opportunities. I also worked out a fire escape route, which involved climbing out windows onto neighbours roofs and a lot of shimmying down drain pipes…..that did not impress me much. We turned off the lights so we could hang out our second floor windows and survey the scene without the risk of being identified, occasionally my anger overpowered my ‘practical’ nature and I yell out ‘you little mungrels’. Then I smartly retreat because a friend in Peckham reported petrol bombs were now being thrown around his street.
 I set up camp in our living room with the news on, flicking between searching on the Internet for more information, ranting on Facebook and swapping stories on instant chat because all the phone networks are down. Between Amie’s roof window view of Debenhams, Kim’s flat in view of KFC on lavender hill (plus Laura on next st) and my flat on the corner of the escape route, we form a triangle over Clapham and I can get instant updates of what’s going on.
From her window Kim can see hundreds of the rioters trashing the shops and restaurants in the heart of Clapham Junction. She said she saw a lady drive her car up, park one child up as security and drag off another child to help her bring armfuls of loot from Debenhams and filled the car before skidding off. Meanwhile I'm watching in absolute disbelief as teenagers, some just children, are staggering down the streets with bulging sacks fastened from sheets. The smug little buggers were not even running away, they swaggered around like they owned the show, and for about 7 hours they did. No policemen in sight, the riot police stayed half an hour and then nobody could recall their presence. When eventually the police do turn up they stand by and watch the carnage, thumbs tucked into their bullet proof vests and a smirk on their face. I imagine the Bombay rugby team could have done a better job than them.
The majority of the rioters are young and there appears to be as many girls as there are boys, but it’s hard to identify accurately under their hooded disguise. Some of the stuff they were hauling off was unarguably a good score, although reports will later come out that a lot of the electronics can be tracked. I spot three young girls with arm loads of awful beige grandma style handbags; I roll my eyes and mutter ‘amateurs’. Another bright spark is sprinting past with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s stretched out like a trophy. The ridiculousness reaches its peak when I witness a looter with his plasma waiting at the lights for the green man to flash go.
Our flat door sits nestled around the back of the of the Italian pizza shop, a five foot wall juts a metre out from the side of the house. Usually it’s the Italians perch for a cigarette break but tonight the hoodrats are stacking their loot against it, waiting for the wheels to arrive, and we can’t help but joke about opening our door and snaking their loot back off them (to hand in to the police of course).
In all honesty the riots didn’t get ugly until the riotrats ran out of places to loot. Waterstone’s bookstore, the health food shop and charities shops weren’t of much interest. So they turned from burglars to pyromaniacs. SKYnews had been playing the horrific scenes of the fire blazing in Croydon, a few suburbs away. But suddenly it flicked to a fire in Clapham Junction, at the party store not far from Kim’s house. Yes, she confirmed, it’s gone from smoking to roaring and can now be labelled ‘out of control’. When her street is advised to be evacuated, due to the risk the helium canisters in the party shop pose, she packs a bag and heads to ours. SKYnews then starts running a feed along the bottom of the page ‘Carphone warehouse in Clapham Junction is on fire’. This shop is in the same block, three shops down from my place. And now I’m officially afraid. Fire scares me. My housemate offers to put the batteries back into our smoke alarm while I scream something about incompetence and race up the stairs to pack an emergency bag of valuables. In the heat  of the moment  (pun intended) I’m fumbling around my room, shoving my valuables into a bag. So far I’ve dismissed most of my jewellery (all from the high street sales) and feel panicked that the only valuable things I can think to pack are my makeup and favourite Elle Mac bras. My NZ passport – probably most important valuable item – is nowhere to be found. I remembered that I hid it in a safe place, so safe of course I can’t find it. Before we (I) jump to conclusions and run up the road like madwoman with my bag of unvaluables, I decide to go and check if Carphone Warehouse is actually on fire. Shereen and I step outside and a car skids around the corner, halts and four guys jump out and run towards us. We scream and run back inside. They probably were running past us to the shops but I decide it’s a Man Job and Paul can do the checking. He returns to report Carphone Warehouse is not on fire. Soon it’s well past midnight and nothing else is on fire so we deem it safe to go to bed. But I sleep in my clothes, sneakers beside my bed……..just in case.

* There is no such range of Alexander McQueen at primark prices.

The day after the night before.....

Monday, 25 July 2011

“Where are all the Cowboys in Boise?” Idaho, 29 May, 2008 (FLASHBACK)

Touchdown in LA was the end to my solo traveling as I teamed up with Tamsyn who had just flown in from NZ. Our first destination together was Boise, Idaho, not your usual tourist destination for a kiwi in America…and turns out not your usual destination for the average American either. Leading up to the trip when I had told various Americans in NZ, Aussie and Hawaii that I was heading to Idaho it was met with amused  laughter  or the polite raised eyebrows of surprise, followed by a mocking tone of “and why would you want to go there?”. Well it’s quite simple, to see all the cowboys and ranches of course. Excited at the prospect of swaggering around town in some traditional hats, kicking up dust in our boots with the rest of the locals, we wanted to experience anything that was different from the NZ culture and I had been assured the US of A would reward us with just that (plus I wanted a trendy new pair of cowboy boots since they seem to come back into fashion every year).  We also had what all tourists love in a new country - an invitation for a homestay and ours was with a guy, Skylar, who had come to our university hostel for a couple of weeks. Tamsyn had hosted him and his friend Ryan at her parents for a weekend.

 The cowboy fairytale began to crumble when we followed a bunch of people clad in the correct attire to the wrong departures gate, and then immensely disappointed to find not one person on our flight was wearing a cowboy hat or even a steel capped boot. We perked up again when Ryan met us at the airport complete with a white cowboy hat (ok so he was heading to vegas so must be the ‘for best’ version surely?). Skylar welcomed us to Boise with Budweisers and a BBQ with his friends where he replaced our names with a collective ‘the kiwi girls’ and propelled us to celebrity status with generous compliments about NZ.  Our creditability faltered when we brought up the cowboy expectations, it turns out our fantasy is more likely in Texas. Who knew a ranch doesn’t need to be run by cowboys, it doesn’t even have to have animals, from what I can understand it’s just another name for a country house with a whole lotta land.

Boise is a beautiful city built up with rusty red bricks in a logical grid of wide, clean streets and very few cars (but zero horses).  We loved our new role as tourists and to the amusement of our hosts we squealed in delight at the sight of squirrels (over and over), exclaimed “just like in the movies” to cliché American sayings/items, marveled over the enormity of restaurant portions, cheered with wicked smiles at the half vodka ratio in drink pouring, coughed our way through the windowless, badly ventilated bars that still allow smoking inside and counted all the places we came across the US flag (yards, plant pots, shops, sports stadiums, ranches).  All of which was, of course, documented in a photo diary of continuous picture snapping.

Our fascination with American food products lead us to the temple of Super Size Me, the American supermarket, complete with kiosks for Starbucks, a drugstore & DVD rental machine. We spent an afternoon amusing ourselves with all the foreign brands, like spushi which is spam sushi, and gigantic products that dwarfed most of the things in NZ. A cereal box the size of a carry on suitcase or 10 powerades for $10 and if you buy 10 you get 5 free! Our absurd behaviour (and hysterics) attracted the attention of a manger who asked us 3 times if we were ok? (unsure if he was alluding to our mental state). In the end we left with an armful of treats (peanut butter M&Ms, Doritos, pop tarts, Arizona green tea). Continuing on the food theme it must be said that we also had a love affair with taco bell (the king of tasty fastfood chains) that we were introduced to one night on the way home from the bars when there’s no such thing as a BP pie.

One of the best days we had in Boise was an impromptu All American Tour of Boise’s establishments. Having been dropped out of town at outlet shopping mall, where levis were ridiculously cheap and there was an entire shop dedicated to 4th July material, we were standing at the exit of the cark park trying to forge a plan to hitch home and when a young guy rolled slowly past & it turned out all we had to do was ask the first friendly, non-ax murder looking guy who came along. What started out as a ride into town escalated into a pint at Hooters, a bit of track at the stadium (plus some snooping around the locker rooms), gym and Endzone the stadium bar that, much to our pleasure, looked just like a sportsbar from the movies. The afternoon was spent mastering the art of horseshoe and shuffleboard, as Josh patiently repeated the rules and let us win a couple of games.

For our last night out in Boise our hosts took us out for a few drinks on the town and, at our request, with horse shoe in the beer garden.  Complete with our ridiculous 4th July ensemble on the 5th June our hosts soon ditched us, our NZ celebrity status trailing long behind our reputation as deranged patriots celebrating an entire month too early.  Two unsuspecting patrons were eyed up 
and bullied into a game of horseshoe as we were desperate to show off our new sporting talents and prove our ability talk the new American lingo we’d learnt on our trip. The two guys tolerated our possible cheating and our misunderstanding that ‘we were having a bangin’ time’ was not actually an American slang for cool but actually what it means universally (pity by this stage we’d been using it around the bar for some time). They even held up their end of the lost bet by wearing our headpieces and dissolving their manhood. They weren’t no cowboys but they were bloody good sports.