Swop a top

A long, long time ago (even longer if I am doing something very glamorous like changing a wet bed at 5am – not mine!) my friend and I were in a comedy group and we decided to write a second sketch involving beer, just so we could open up a second beer on stage. We thought this was very rock n roll. We wouldn’t drink that much – just a few sips, however we did finish them after the show (I can’t stand waste). Even more rock n roll (even more so than Kate Winslet’s husband) was the time we drank our props the night before the Comedy Competitions in Hamilton (and I drunkenly called KFC to see if they delivered) and we had to buy some more.

So the swop a top idea (I did not invent it – I heard about it don’t know why it is called swop a top, probably because of the excellent rhyme, you can swop more than tops) came about because I:

a) needed an excuse/a way to get rid of my 15 years of opshopping gear (my mother once counted my jackets when I was 17 – I had 28) before I went on my O.E.
b) needed an excuse/ a way to drink gin and tonic during the week.

I invited a group of friends around and invited them to drink and try on clothes and then take home anything they fancied. They left with about five bags each and I took the rest back to the opshop.

For me the only rule of swop a top is to bring any item/s of clothing that you still like but you never end up wearing; it just sits in the wardrobe. Everyone brings clothes and they all end up either in a pile on the floor or (if you’re really fancy and organised) on a rack. Then everyone starts trying on clothes. I’ve never been one for ‘rules’ for how many items people can have or getting ‘agreement’ as all the ones I’ve hosted or been to have just worked out and have been loads of fun. Everyone seems to find a few pieces that they love and people will offer clothes to others if they feel that they have more than their share.

My friend C took it to another level when she got us to drop all the leftover suit/corporate clothing to Dress for Success after we had finished and then the remaining clothing to Women’s Refuge.


On ya bike

My parents have always been early adopters: we were the first people I know to have a microwave (we even still have a microwave cookbook which contains such delights as ‘How to cook a delicious roast chicken’ and ‘Wonderful microwave cakes’. I also once came home from a ballet lesson to find Alison Holst in our kitchen giving a cooking demonstration in our kitchen. Sadly, I didn’t get to meet her, she was whisked away like the Queen once it was over.

My parents bought us cycle helmets long before they were compulsory and insisted that we wear them. Unfortunately this coincided with me turning into a teenager and having a wave of stubborness (that is only going now) and therefore my love of biking stopped, as I refused to wear the helmet.

Twenty five years later my brother gave me his bike and I have discovered how much I adore biking (and yes, I wear a helmet). I loved biking so much (and where we live is a biker’s paradise as it is flat) that I went for three nights in a row; on the fourth night my backside was so pained that I couldn’t get on (even with the padded seat).

C mentioned to me that she was also biking and we decided to go for bike rides together once a week. We meet up at the dairy and head to a small town 7 kms away. It’s great – we don’t ride that fast so we chat and catch up in a way that we never do when the kids are around. Also it’s better for us than having a coffee or a wine (or three) and it’s free (of course I was given my bike).

Farmers’ Markets

Okay, so you won’t necessarily get the cheapest goods at http://www.farmersmarkets.org.nz/Farmer’s Markets however you get to buy really good value for money, super fresh produce direct from the makers, in a lovely environment and feel super good about supporting local people. I also find it is comparable to the supermarket and sometimes cheaper.
Ever since moving to the country I’ve been hugely keen on buying local where I can. Child Rua (can’t call him child number 2 – sounds like a euphemism) and I headed down to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning (Child Tahi stayed at home and read comics).
We met a friend of ours and wandered around the stalls: honey, eggs, vegetables and fruit, organic vegetables and fruit, coffee, bread, fish, meat, and chutneys.
I bought some amazing grapes (like the kind your Grandparents grew or the kind I spent money on at Commonsense Organics) $7 for an amazing paper bag full. I also bought some incredible – award winning – local cheese http://www.mtgreycheese.co.nz/ as a treat to take to a BBQ. I bought vegetables and fruit and honey and bumped into friends – it felt like living in France. We then sat down on the grass while Rua ate the pinwheel scone I had bought him ($2) and chatted to some other local acquaintances. Rua then wanted to climb the statue of a dead war hero but I persuaded him just to run around on the grass instead.

Two hours after we arrived we walked home.

Bowls and Sausages – check out Open Day Events

I love community newspapers and I anticpate their arrival (tragic – but then I am gardening so my foggyness is complete) with an excitement I used to reserve for reading The NME, Melody Maker, The Face and The New Yorker. But what really excites me is The Community Hotline that is specifically for our small (the size of my High School) town; when that arrives I read it cover to cover.

This is where I discovered that our local Community Bowls club was having an Open Day and that it was $3 per person and you could register a team of four. I excitedly rang my friend Y she wasn’t quite as excited as me she said, hmmm what were the words ‘If you’re desparate I’ll do it’. I rang around my sports team and convinced ML and P (a pseudonym not the dangerous drug) to play. They weren’t as keen as me:

‘Why are we doing it?’

‘Bowls? Like what old people play?’

I had my ace ‘It’s only $3.’

Seriously, even if we hate it, it’s only $3.

I rang Y back and she reluctantly agreed. I think it helped that I reassured her that there was a very strong possibility that I would be crap. I told her about the time I played indoor bowling and my friend’s four year old son and seventy year old mother both bet me.

I rang up to register – and it gets even better ‘It is three dollars,’ said the woman on the other end in a slightly apologetic tone, ‘however you do get sausages and bread after the game.’

So we headed along on the night. One blip was we had to think of a team name. I hate thinking of team names, we went back and forth while the lovely Octegenarian suggested options including the names of Australian teams after we told him we played sport together.

So we begin our game with the help of a lovely gentleman who gave us such advice as ‘There’s nothing to it.’ However when it was my turn he changed his tune to saying ‘Not that like that!’

It was surprisingly fun and we even won some games – when I say we, I mean my team mates helped us win. I helped us get a team together. As well as the game, there was also the opportunity to chat to your team and the opposite team (when the other side was playing). Did I also mention the reasonably priced beer?

So after the games we came inside for sausages, sauce  and bread. There was also a raffle with $1 tickets. My excitement continued when I thought one of the prizes was a chicken, and then was bitterly disappointed when I realised it was of course a frozen chicken (we’re in the county, people bring pet pigs to pet day).

One of the best aspects was socialising with a wide variety of people – 70+s, teenagers, and everyone else in between.

So I headed home having splashed out and spent $9 (with the beer and the raffle tickets) in the end for four hours of entertainment.