(please excuse the sketch, by the way. garance doré i am not)
I have a very fabulous friend called Kate. She has a mane of dark hair and is amazing at lipstick. She is the first person I saw rock the famous Lady Danger in real life. In fact, she is wearing it in the sketch above.
Now one day I saw Kate wearing the most perfect denim shirt-dress. Soft, soft fabric that draped just so. The perfect faded blue. When I hounded her for details she said she had bought it vintage (the most frustrating of all answers, no?) Truly and verily it was a hero dress, and I vowed to find one just like it.
Two years later and it has proved one of the most frustrating searches of my life. I have found several close-but-no-banana dresses. A chambray one from Workshop (not dressy enough). A pale blue Karen Walker For Swanndri one (pretty, but not denim). A denim Gap one (fabric too stiff, colour too dark). I have tried many on, searched in many boutiques, but no. Denim shirt-dresses seem to come in two varieties: hooch and tent. Neither are for me.
The search will continue. But I have told Kate that if there is ever a break-in at her house and the police find the TV, jewellery and liquor cabinet intact, check the wardrobe ..
so hello everyone. it’s been a wee while, no? more than a wee while. a long while.
we have been travelling a bit. first we went to queenstown. it was still quite wintry down there but gosh it was beautiful. we walked along the lake, drank lots of coffees to warm up, ate excellent pizza from winnies, travelled on the earnslaw steamship to celebrate fathers’ day .. it was a good time.
L and i spent a few days in pahiatua with my mum and dad. it’s quite different to queenstown, let’s say. i like it though. it’s friendly. people say hi in the street. the countryside is quite cool. there are excellent op shops. and brockies cafe makes a lemon and date slice which alone is worth the trip.
pahiatua is close to palmerston north – the place to go if you want to do a big supermarket shop. there is not a lot else there, i’m sorry to say.
and most recently, L, the rockstar and i went to brazil. we spent most of the time in brasília which was in the middle of the rainy season and not terribly photogenic, bless it. there was a lot of family time. but we snuck away for a night to pirenópolis, a colonial town about 2 hours’ drive away (in central-west terms, that’s practically nothing). it was good to get away, just the three of us.
and a bonus piece of hee-larious brazinglish for your pleasure and delectation. the best bit: this shirt was spotted in quite a chic store in shopping iguatemi brasília, a very very exclusive mall for those who prefer to not to rub shoulders with the great unwashed (which also happens to be the nearest source of decent coffee to the rockstar’s mum’s house; hence my presence there). binge drinking! it’s the new hip trend from the west!
so yes! i am back. i will write more shortly – right now i have to go and stop L from pulling all the CDs off the shelves and then proceeding to chew the corners. as i write she is nomming down on feminist sweepstakes by le tigre. that’s my girl.
observant readers of this blog will know that the rockstar and i were born in different places. he is a native of brasília in brazil; i am straight outta AB25, the aberdeen royal infirmary. but then i lived in brazil as a teenager and developed a taste for brazilian street food and melissa shoes; he grew up listening to the beatles, wearing doc martens and playing in bands heavily influenced by the gang of four and siouxsie. so we have more in common than we don’t, really.
but there is one matter on which cultural differences might always remain. and that is the question of whether guaraná or irn-bru is better.
i refer, of course, to the signature soft drinks of our respective countries.
both date back to the first decade of the 20th century. both are made of exotic ingredients: guaraná from the fruit of the tree of the same name, irn-bru supposedly “from girders” (the ads said this for years, although according to the bible that is wikipedia, “though the closest one can come to substantiating this claim is the 0.002% ammonium ferric citrate listed in the ingredients”. mm, tasty). both are eye-achingly sweet.
and, above all: in their respective markets, both outsell coca-cola. now ain’t that something? i even remember hearing that scotland is the only market where something other than coke is offered as the default soft drink with your mcdonalds combo meal.
today at the ontrays emporium in petone i picked up a can of each so that the rockstar and i could perform a taste test. at first sight, the guaraná is a pale ambery colour — the irn-bru bright, bright orange. though there are many brands of guaraná available in brazil, only one ever seems to get exported, and that’s guaraná antárctica, the biggest seller of them all.
the rockstar took a generous swig of the guaraná, then a slightly more cautious one of the irn-bru. he declared the guaraná “sweeter” and the irn-bru “more bitter”. this is from a guy who routinely takes 5 sugars in his coffee. i am not sure the word bitter had ever been used in the same sentence as the word(s) irn-bru before today, so i instantly had to confirm this for myself.
guaraná is supposedly made from a fruit and the drink does taste fruity. god knows i’ve tried to pin down exactly *what* fruit. i can only come up with this: imagine a strong synthetic apple taste with an overlay of a not-acidic-at-all fake orange flavour. there’s some kind of tropicalish aroma floating around as well .. think passionfruit or mango “juice drink”. i’m not helping at all, am i? it’s sweet and yet weirdly refreshing. it goes down smoothly. on a hot day where there’s churrasco on offer, i actually prefer diet guaraná with ice to a cold beer. yum.
irn-bru is instantly brighter on the tongue with a way more intense fizz. like guaraná, the taste is instantly recognisable and practically indescribable. a mild bubble gum, maybe? not at all bitter, except if we’re talking the sour effect of carbonation, i guess. if you’re accustomed to the taste of guaraná, this is maybe a harsher drop. but as an accompaniment to a traditional scottish pudding supper it would be supreme. i tried to convince the rockstar to take a mouthful of irn-bru to wash down a bite of another great scottish institution, the tunnock’s caramel wafer. it’s amazing he didn’t fall into a diabetic coma on the spot, really.
anyway. the rockstar’s verdict: the irn-bru wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t sure if he’d choose to drink it again (sacrilege!!). as for myself: both can co-exist happily in my culinary universe. much to my dentist’s despair.
my little girl turned three months old last week. and naturally it made me think about how fast the time has gone. in some ways, it’s hard to remember what life was like before she was here; in others, the time has flown past. every day she changes. i took her down to nelson last week for a couple of days so she could meet her little cousins .. we were only away three days but the rockstar said in that time she had grown taller, her hair darker.
it’s kind of de rigueur to include your birth story on your blog these days, i gather. but i’m not going to. not because i think it’s TMI, but it was a very intense experience and summing it up in words still feels hard. but i will tell you about something that happened on the night of L’s second day on this earth.
by this time, i had spent about five days in hospital and i was dying to get home. it was to be our last night in the post-natal ward but my sweet darling L would not settle. at all. she cried and cried inconsolably. something was badly wrong, i feared.
a fabulous midwife came and spoke to me. she asked me to express some milk while she took L for a little walk — ostensibly to calm her but mostly, i suspect, to give me a break. about ten minutes later the midwife returned with a quiet L. “how did you do that?” i asked, in awe. “oh, i just didn’t pay attention,” she said breezily. “she’s pretty annoyed at me now though”. and true enough, i looked at L and she had fixed the midwife with this killer stare. if it’s possible for a two-day-old baby to give someone the evil eye, L was doing it.
but soon she was crying again. a paediatrician came. baby panadol was given. more midwives came. no-one could find anything wrong. by this time it was about four in the morning and L was still crying. and then the first midwife came back. “you know what,” she said, “i think she just wants her mum.”
so we set up my bed so that L could lie beside me rather than in her crib. she lay in the crook of my arm and gradually quieted. curled up like that, we slept.
when i woke, i looked at my little girl’s sleeping face. indeed, it seems like she just did need her mum. and i vowed then and there that whenever she needed me, no matter where or when or how old, i would be there for her.
happy three months, sweet baby girl. we love you xox
1. mother’s day flowers from L. beautiful dragon tulips.
2. me and the baixinha
3. smoked mackerel and potato hash at floridita’s. one of my favourite things to eat.
4. fashionable water at la bella italia, petone.
5. macarons at la cloche, thorndon.
6. water at the chocolate fish cafe, shelly bay.
food, love, our daughter. this is what life has been about lately.
I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger than reason. I am so thirsty for the marvellous that only the marvellous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvellous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.
— Anaïs Nin
(thank you deanne!)