Mumpty’s Top 10 tips for holidaying in Samoa (part 2) …
Continuing on from my first post (which you can read here) – herewith my next five tips in the Top Ten Tips for holidaying in Samoa series:
Tip # 6 – Take some good snorkelling equipment. The snorkelling is awesome in Samoa – you just need to head out to the beach at your resort to see all sorts of amazing fish, corals and sea life – even turtles (and ugghhhhh barracudas: man-sized ones!) I do think you need a good mask though – one that doesn’t keep filling up with water because there’s nothing more annoying (or more tiring) than having to sort your mask out because the water gets in and hurts your eyes (the water seems to be super-salty in Samoa.) I don’t think you need to spend a fortune – just find one that works well! I recommend going to see the giant clams if you get a chance. Just be careful you don’t stand on them ‘cos they can close very fast and you certainly don’t want your foot stuck in one that’s for sure!
We saw turtles outside our resort at Stevensons in Savaii and they are beautiful, graceful animals. We also went a couple of villages out from Stevensons and found a reef that was like swimming over the edge of a 5-story building! Amazing, but slightly scary for me – I’m not 100% fussed on being surrounded by that much water – I’m more of a swimming pool kind of girl! But anyway – I do recommend snorkelling and swimming in Samoa whenever the opportunity arises!
Tip # 7 – Take your watch off and expect things to happen on “island time”. And I mean that in a good way. The first night we waited over two hours for our dinner – which was extremely agitating after a long day’s travelling. Day two, we waited at least an hour and a half – which was far less stressful than on the first night. By day three, we were fully relaxed and treating the inevitable long wait as an opportunity to try every cocktail on the menu! The point of all this is that things tend to happen pretty slowly in Samoa and if you try to hurry them along, you’re a) wasting your time and b) missing the point! Enjoy!
Tip # 8 – Samoa is very reasonable – you can have a fantastic holiday for cheap as chips. Depending where you go of course. If you stay at the super-flash resorts, things are a bit pricier, but then the pay-off for that is that the pool and amenities are generally amazing. I’ll talk about where we stayed later on, but can I say, we stayed at Stevensons for a week and it was glorious. Every bit as glorious as the flasher resorts we stayed at first and after, but in a different way.
Food and drinks are cheap – for a couple you could get a pretty decent main meal and a couple of drinks each for around 60 tala – which is about $NZ34 which wouldn’t happen in New Zealand now would it?! Our little family of three averaged around 150-250 tala a day which included lunches, dinners, drinks and activities. Our breakfasts were part of our accomodation package, so we didn’t have to pay for them. Samoan beer is about 6 tala (5 at Happy Hour) and a cocktail was generally around 11 tala at Happy Hour prices. #suchfun
Excursions and activities were pretty cheap too; the most expensive we did was the To-Sua Ocean Trench (which was AMAZING) at 20 tala and the same for the Giant Clam swimming experience. Other things we did were around 5 tala each or we just paid a minimal amount for the carload (we had a 12-seater van.)
Tip # 9 – Expect to see pigs, dogs and chickens EVERYWHERE! They’re pretty cute too. I’ve heard some people hate this, but I found it quite endearing.
Tip # 10 – The people are awesome.I’ve saved the best till last here really! Samoan people are fabulous – they’re so happy and cheerful and willing to help you with anything you want or need. They quite often have so little, but like I said, they are among the most happy people I’ve met. Just goes to show … maybe money’s not everything right?!
I hope you’ve enjoyed Mumpty’s Top 10 Travel Tips for Samoa. While we were there we stayed at three places and I would highly recommend each of them for entirely different reasons.
We stayed first at Saletoga Sands Resort for four nights. Saletoga (pronounced Saletonga) is a beautiful resort with an incredible pool and first class snorkelling right outside your fale’s front door.
Our beachfront villa was perfect and the restaurants and bar were lovely. We were lucky enough to watch a Fiafia Night which included a traditional buffet dinner and the Fiafia and fire show. So cool – I highly recommend you do one of these if you get the opportunity.
After Saletoga we took the ferry across to Savaii where we stayed at Stevensons Resort for a week. Stevensons is probably not as fancy as Saletoga Sands, but it has a charm all of its own and I enjoyed it every bit as much. Our little family of three stayed in the Nikolai suite and it was huge! All rocks and tapa cloths and bright blue accents – maybe not what you’d want at home, but very island-style and we loved it! Stevensons was a lot cheaper to stay at than Saletoga in terms of food and drinks, so that was nice too.
We did lots of day trips from Stevensons and had a wonderful time at the blow holes, various swimmings holes and markets – all sorts. You name it, we did it! We also went to the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks which I wouldn’t recommend – not worth the trip was the general consensus of our group.
Stevensons also put on a super-fun Fiafia Night and they also went to an incredible effort for our parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner, with stunning exotic flower lays for everyone, a beautifully decorated table and a cake as well.
And then for our final night in Paradise, we stayed at The Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort – and it was GLORIOUS! For one, it was the night before Mumpty’s birthday and as she was going to be travelling home the next day, she chose to celebrate the night before. Which called for cocktails and champagne and having Happy Birthday sung to her by half-naked Samoan men! And the best part of all? She went for a late night swim and had this ENTIRE, GORGEOUS swimming pool all to herself for an hour. Not another soul in sight. It was an AMAZING way to end her holiday. A-MAZING.
So that, my friends, is Mumpty’s roundup of her Samoan getaway. Would she go back? Hell yes!
Mumpty and her extended family (a group of 15) recently enjoyed an AMAZING holiday in Samoa to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of our parents. We were there from the 26th of September to the 7th of October (Mumpty’s birthday, btw!) – the “dry season” runs from May to October, so we were pretty disappointed (aka grumpy!) to see this on our weather app:
Ugggghhhh. But never fear! Because despite the app predicting relentless rain, thunder and even lightening for our entire visit, we ACTUALLY got HEAPS of sun. Sure, it rained every now and then (mostly at night) – but it was warm and refreshing and within 20 minutes it had buggered off!
But anyway; I digress. Herewith Mumpty’s Top 10 Tips (in no particular order – in fact, in a completely random order) …
Tip # 1 – Get cash out in New Zealand and exchange it when you get to Samoa. That’s assuming you’re from New Zealand of course – if you’re not, don’t come here first to get money – that would be silly – and expensive. Although, New Zealand is a very beautiful country, so you probably should consider it. Anyway, we got money out in New Zealand and when we got through Customs in Samoa there were three options outside the airport to exchange money. The ANZ booth had the biggest queue and that was because they had the best rate, so we waited 20 minutes or so for them to change our money for us. There is an ANZ ATM 5 minutes down the road at The Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort if you get stuck – I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you got cash out there – apparently the ANZ ATM’s exchange rates are pretty good too. Do your research though because Lord knows Mumpty is no financial expert. But that is what worked for us. Oh – and get a decent amount out at a time because you get charged a foreign currency fee every time you use the ATM and that can get expensive. I got out $NZ500 and that exchanged to 894 tala if that helps. You don’t really need that much cash though – just enough for entry fees and the like. Most of your expenses will get charged to your room anyway and you just pay when you check out.
Tip # 2 – Expect your hair to be a nightmare. Obviously this is an extremely important travel tip. Unless you are blessed with hair that turns to glorious ringlets in the presence of salt water and humidity (like my daughter’s) or hair that returns itself to sleek and glossy (like my niece’s) then you must be prepared for THE FUZZ. Uggghhhhh. As vain as this may sound, there aren’t many things that make Mumpty feel less glamorous and more frumpy than fuzzy hair. But fuzzy hair I had for the entire holiday and really – I pretty much got over it in the end. It may have even cured my need to have access to power for my GHD while camping – but shhhhh – I’m not admitting that yet – in case it’s simply not true. Anyway – this was Mumpty’s hair reality in Samoa:
Suffice to say, Mumpty does not “do” beach glam and so there was a lot of hat-wearing in Samoa (which caused hat-hair problems, but they seemed pale in comparison to THE FUZZ.) Also, did you know pigtails are TOTALLY appropriate for a 48-year-old in Samoa? Because they are.
Tip # 3 – Take Immodium and an assortment of other drugs – and when I say drugs, I mean the totally innocent stuff you get from the supermarket/chemist back home. Obviously. OK, so we were told not to trust the water; don’t eat the salads as they’ve been washed in water etc etc, but really, I reckon nearly everyone is going to get some level of stomach upset in Samoa, no matter what you do. It just happens. Well – it happened to our whole family anyway! You could say we all “lost our confidence” for a while there – and by that I mean we lost confidence in our ability to be too far away from the toilet. Sorry if that’s TMI – in fact I know it is – but #sorrynotsorry
Immodium (or whatever else they call it) is pretty much a necessity I believe – particularly if you have to travel or fly that day. It helps to avoid any potentially embarrassing or messy situations! Also … Panadol is handy in case you get a headache from dehydration – it’s not always easy to find medication over there.
Handy tip: the bigger resorts seem to have a little stash of things travellers need: Panadol, ear drops (lots of travellers get sore ears from swimming apparently), Immodium etc.
Also take Zovirax if you ever get coldsores; the sun will bring those suckers out and you want to avoid them like the plague if you can. And maybe an antiseptic cream – any little cuts you may get from the coral and stuff seem to get infected really easily.
So yep – pack the drugs! Mumpty bought a little arsenal of stuff, thinking she wouldn’t need it, and lo and behold … we used pretty much all of it! Disclaimer: its best to keep any medication in its original packaging and make sure you declare it to Customs.
Tip # 4 – Go to the To-Sua Trench. Because … AMAZING. Seriously.
There is, of course, the not-so-small issue of the 20 metre ladder to get down there. It blows Mumpty away that she did it without crying or falling off (although in fairness, the death grip I had on those rungs was so strong it would have taken a hurricane to dislodge me!) But once you’ve survived the ladder and you’re in the water; the place is phenomenal. It’s 30 metres deep in parts and is crystal-clear and absolutely beautiful. I’m not really even that much of a swimmer to be honest, but I stayed in there for a good hour or so – probably longer. It cost 20 tala each and it was worth EVERY cent. Visit their website here.
Tip # 5 – Be careful, because there are no H&S rules in Samoa! (As you can tell that by the ladder at the To-Sua Trench!) If that was in New Zealand there’d be a safety briefing first; you’d have to sign a waiver and you’d be wearing a harness! Well, maybe not all that, but you certainly wouldn’t just all fire over the edge and off you go like you do in Samoa! And speaking of being careful … you know how I said there are no H&S rules in Samoa? Well as a result of that, we experienced probably our most scary parenting moment EVER. Our 12-year-old daughter misjudged her footing; slipped and fell off a 3.5 metre (unfenced) deck onto small but sharp little rocks. And survived – intact – and without injury. Apart from the 15 minutes where she couldn’t move and we thought she was paralysed. Yeah – that. Ugggghhhhhh. But all’s well that ends well – we are very grateful she’s OK and there was a doctor on hand to check her out and ensure her spinal cord was OK before she decided to move.
Of course, there was also that one time (at Band Camp!) that we heard a little “pop” and wouldn’t you know it, our brakes completely failed at the top of a hill with 13 of us in the van. But that’s another story, for another time!
OK … so I’ve just realised this post has got looonnnnnnng. Too long to add another 5 top tips, so I’m going to cut it here and make another post with the last 5 tips. UPDATE: I’ve linked it here.
I am so privileged to have the most amazing group of female friends and family. I originally posted this a couple of years ago now, but when I was browsing back through my old posts, I decided they are STILL amazing and so I thought I would post it again!
I think you are very much influenced by the people you spend the most time with, so although I try not to be judgmental of anyone and the decisions they make, I’m also aware my time is precious to me and so I choose to spend it with people I admire and love.
So … my gorgeous, clever and insanely talented friends include (in no particular order):
♥ Burlesque performers and showgirls, who sweat nervous bullets before they go on stage and then rock that stage like they were born to be there!
♥ A woman who had an idea one night; created a Facebook group based on that idea and is now the proud overseer of a 43,000-strong group and an accompanying, wildly-successful blog. Her greatest achievement in that regard? Creating an ahurutanga – a safe environment where no one feels judged. ♥ A woman who, with four young children, creates cakes like this (see below) out of her home kitchen! (She also has a double degree and is a trained architect.)
♥ Cancer survivors. ♥ Nurses. ♥ Mentors who help women develop confidence and a positive body image through dance and just generally being sassy! ♥ Amazing mothers who put the hugest amount of time, effort and love into growing beautiful humans – the most important job in the world. ♥ Book editors/proofreaders. ♥ Earthquake survivors. ♥ Business woman who moonlight as sexy pinup and alternative models!
♥ Internationally acclaimed body painter and makeup artists. ♥ Women who write for a living (my dream job!) ♥ Women following their passion and doing what they love to do. ♥ Widows who are brave and strong and are doing an incredible job of bringing up their children alone. ♥ Travellers. ♥ Makeup artists and hairdressers – again, they make women feel beautiful. ♥ My sisters … because they are amazing. ♥ My Mum … because she is incredible and inspirational and wonderful. ♥ My daughter – because she is my world and makes my life SO special. ♥ Grandmothers who give tirelessly of their time and love – not just to their own family, but to others as well. ♥ Photographers who create gorgeous images that make other women realise their own beauty.
♥ Women who volunteer their time at hospitals and schools to help those less fortunate than themselves. ♥ Teachers. ♥ Business women.
So to all of you, and I hope you recognise yourself in there somewhere …
Sophie Elliott – how her death could just as easily have been your own – or your daughter’s …
On 9 January 2008, this beautiful and intelligent woman, with a wonderful childhood behind her and a promising adult life ahead of her, was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend … in her own home, while her mother was there.
Now – 8 years later – one NZ woman still dies every 26 days at the hand of a violent partner – which means that over 100 women have died since Sophie’s murder. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world.
Recently I attended “An Evening with Lesley Elliott.” Lesley is not only Sophie’s mother, she is an incredibly brave and strong woman who has made it Sophie’s legacy to raise the awareness of all young women, and their families and friends, of the signs of partner abuse through the Sophie Elliott Foundation.
Lesley says at the time of Sophie’s murder, neither she nor Sophie really understood that Sophie was in an abusive relationship. She didn’t like Clayton Weatherston and neither did any of Sophie’s friends, but they didn’t realise Sophie was actually in danger – until it was far too late.
Now Lesley travels the length and breadth of the country helping make young women and their families aware of the signs of abuse that she and Sophie missed.
I implore you to visit the Sophie Elliott Foundation website and to find out more about what they do – there are all sorts of valuable resources on there and I have singled out a few that really hit home for me with a young daughter who ***OMG we’re not ready for that*** will be dating in the not-too-distant future.
Check out the “Power & Control Dating Wheel” below – it summarises the characteristics of an out-of-control relationship
How Sophie’s murderer personified these characteristics …
Power and control– he told Sophie she wasn’t bright enough (she earned a first class honors degree in Economics); needed to lose weight and inferred she wasn’t good-looking enough for him. This was Sophie below – hardly overweight was she? And although I wouldn’t grace him with a photo here, let’s just say he was way out of his league with Sophie in the first place.
Possessiveness – he wanted to know where Sophie was at all times, yet didn’t feel she needed to know anything about his whereabouts.
Isolates you – he isolated Sophie from her friends – none of whom liked him. I’d like to say here – if your family and friends don’t like him, there’s a good chance you shouldn’t be in a relationship with him.
Threats – he was emotionally and verbally abusive to Sophie on numerous occasions.
Suicide threats – I don’t know about this one, as of course I never knew Sophie and am only going on what Lesley told us at the meeting, but men who make suicide threats and say things like “If you leave me, I will hurt myself” are often only trying to manipulate you to suit themselves.
Changeable/volatile behaviour – Sophie never knew whether he really liked her or not. He was into the relationship one day, then cold as ice the next. Nothing was ever his fault – it was always Sophie’s. Lesley said Sophie couldn’t understand him, and always wanted to try and change him.
Sexual– on one occasion, only days before Sophie’s murder, he tried to force her to have sex with him. Thankfully Sophie escaped, but sadly, didn’t press charges.
Physical abuse – nothing needs to be said here, considering Sophie is no longer with us.
Communication– he was haphazard and unreliable – he wouldn’t reply to Sophie’s texts for hours and wouldn’t always answer her calls. She felt insecure because of that behaviour.
According to the Sophie Elliott Foundation website, 15-24 year old women are at the most risk of psychological, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a partner.
The Sophie Elliott Foundation, in association with the New Zealand Police, also runs a full-day educational course for Year 12 students called Loves-Me-Not (a play on the “He loves me; he loves me not” game.) The course is very interactive and is designed to make students aware of what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lesley Elliott – no one would blame her if she just sat back and grieved for Sophie – and of course she and her family will do that for the rest of their lives. What is amazing about Lesley is that over and over again, she re-lives that horrible day and she does it so that other families won’t have to.
Sophie and Lesley were very close, and if two highly-intelligent women like that weren’t able to see the signs of an abusive and dangerous relationship, then there are going to be others in the same situation. The signs often start subtly and build from there. In the book that students receive free of charge via the Loves-Me-Not course , there are two blank pages; one to write down what you see as the characteristics of a healthy relationship and the other to revisit and write down the characteristics of your current relationship as a comparison. If it doesn’t compare well – get help.
Thank God for the Lesley Elliott’s of this world – they are courageous enough to try to make change in the face of an horrific personal situation. It’s just unbearably sad they were put in that situation in the first place.
Do yourself and your family a favour … visit the website and educate yourself so that neither you, nor your daughter, ever end up like Sophie.
Are apps and Photoshop ruining your self-esteem without you even knowing it?
Many of you will have seen this “un-Photoshopped/untouched” image of Cindy Crawford that’s been making it’s way around the internet lately. Whilst I applaud Cindy for this, let’s not forget she is a supermodel who has made exorbitant amounts of money from her face and body FOR YEARS, so even without retouching, her “look” is quite unobtainable for most women.
When I originally planned this post, it was going to be a sneaky little share of some apps that you can use to de-wrinkle, brighten and smooth yourself out! When I came across them I squealed with delight; used them on a couple of photos (see below) and then realised that actually, I didn’t really want to do that any more, because that isn’t me – I do have wrinkles, blemishes and teeth that aren’t glaringly white, but you know what? I don’t hate those things. And I’m 46 – and I’m not embarrassed about that – so they are pretty much a fact of life.
Anyway … this post is actually going to contradict itself a bit! Firstly I’m going to mention three little apps you can use if you want to enhance yourself a bit for your photos – and why not? That’s your decision. But the other part of the post is going to talk about whether or not these apps (and Photoshop) are actually destroying your self-esteem without you even knowing it.
Ok … so the first app is called FaceTune – you can get it for free in the App Store. See how my skin is so much smoother on the right? The blemishes are minimised; the dark shadows under my eyes aren’t nearly as apparent and my neck looks miraculously younger and less lined? So that’s FaceTune for you! I did try to suggest the two images weren’t that different, but my daughter rapidly assured me they were!
Another app that does a similar job is moreBeaute (again, free from the App Store) … this one allows you to adjust brightness, smoothness, detail and tone via the use of a slider and you can view an instant “before and after” to help you make the adjustments. Kinda cool … and here’s another example (and yes, it does feel strange putting these massive pictures of myself on here!) …
With this one, you can see I’ve smoothed EVERYTHING out and it looks like I’ve had a bloody good holiday and am all relaxed (OK – it looks like it was a winter holiday, ten years ago!)
So those are two apps you can use for your face shots. But … there is another, I believe, almost frightening app that allows you to “plastic surgery-ise” your body as well! Now this one I have never used – as in, I’ve never uploaded a photo having used it. However … I did download it for a play and goodness, if you knew what you were doing with that particular app, you really can edit the hell out of yourself! This app is called Plastic Surgery Simulator, and I just got the free “lite” version which only allows you to shrink or expand things – and I’ll leave it to your imagination as to which bits you’d want to expand! Anyway – bearing in mind this is the lite version and I don’t really know how to use it, here is a before and after of what you can do with this type of app:
OK, this photo is embarrassing – I took it to show off that I was in Auckland in a swanky hotel, however can you see how much I’ve managed to shrink my waist? And I don’t even really know how to use that app! Now I know it’s kind of obvious if you know what you’re looking for and you have the “before” to compare with, but if you didn’t … I could just about get away with that right? And imagine if I’d FaceTuned my face as well? I’d be barely recognisable from the original! Of course there are all sorts of filters and things on Instagram too, and artful ways of cropping things to maybe get rid of that squashed arm that makes you look obese, or cropping your photos off at the forehead so those pesky wrinkles don’t show etc – they’re all tricks of the trade and are fair and reasonable things to do I suppose!
So – as you can see, these apps can do pretty good, and relatively subtle (or not!) things to your photos. But as I said earlier, I am also going to look at whether or not these apps and Photoshop are ruining your self-esteem without you even knowing it.
Have you ever looked at a girl you admire and marvelled at her tiny waist or her flawless skin or the fact she doesn’t have any wrinkles and there’s never a hair out of place? Sometimes, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is! And all power to her if that’s what she wants to do – but you wonder how she feels about meeting people in real life (IRL) knowing full well she doesn’t really look like her photos.
And as for Photoshop – you only have to look at these images below to see that even the girls who are a) genetically blessed; b) have had their hair and makeup done by professionals and c) are shot by professional photographers, with the most sophisticated equipment under the right lighting and with all the other tricks of the trade – they STILL get Photoshopped at the end. So realistically, even THEY don’t look like them! I mean just look at this shot!
And that’s not even considered “serious editing” in the industry apparently! Hmmmm …
So where do you sit on this issue? Do you think “why not, each to their own” or “oh my gosh – we have to stop this for our daughter’s sakes?”
My thoughts are that it’s been going on for years now and I don’t know that we can ever stop it. So I’m trying to act “locally” by sitting my ten-year-old daughter down and showing her these “before-and-afters” so that she knows that what you see, is not necessarily reality. And I will keep doing that. The other thing I try really hard not to do, is to moan about my weight, or if I’m having a bad hair day or whatever, in front of her. Sometimes I slip up, and in those cases I try to make a joke about it and flounce off saying “oh well – it could be a lot worse!”
I believe the pinup and burlesque “scenes” have a pretty good attitude to body acceptance and that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. They celebrate curves and angles and everything in between. And don’t forget – lean girls can have their feelings hurt just as easily as bigger girls. We’re all beautiful and whatever the body you have, it’s yours and you need to love it and treat it right.
Let me know what you think about all this – either by leaving a comment, or by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Love, laughter lines and generous waists …
Extra for experts: check out this video – amazing and frightening all in one go!
Hello bloggy-verse! So I haven’t done a “taking stock tag” for a while now – in fact the last one was here – and I do so enjoy them, so here goes – please enjoying reading along to see what’s happening in Mumpty’s little world!
Making: 9 page weekly newsletters for my daughter’s netball team. She has a super-coach who is taking our team ahead in leaps and bounds and the newsletter is my little contribution. Cooking: peanut butter banana chocolate brownies (shhhhh … it was one of those endless video recipes off Facebook that I save and then never make – but today I did, and oh.so.good!) Drinking:if only! Actually, I am rather enjoying long blacks with full cream – they are ketogenic too! Reading:“The Shadow Year” by Hannah Richell. I have just finished it and it is one of the BEST books I’ve read – ever. Read it – you’ll love it! So twisty-turny and full of promise! Wanting: someone I love to get better quickly. And I’m always wanting more frocks and more Louis of course – that’s the shallow, frivolous part of me. The serious part of me wants the world to be a safer, happier place for my daughter and her generation to grow up in. Looking:for opportunities. Playing: on Facebook and Instagram before I go to sleep. Pretty sure it’s bad for my circadian rhythms, but oh-so-good for my social little soul! Wishing: the person alluded to above a speedy recovery. Enjoying:my weekly coffee/catchup with some beautiful people I love. I’m also enjoying the way our front door looks – we painted the white door navy and doesn’t it look great!
Waiting: why wait? Just go out and do it! Liking: the way my fat little tummy is shrinking as a result of my ketogenic diet (well, mostly anyway!) … and also the way this eating plan makes me feel in general. Wondering: how we best ensure our daughter has an amazing life. Loving: soooo many things. Mainly my family, my friends and my home. Pondering: processes. I find it fascinating how once you embark on a process, it takes over, everyone does their little bit and amazing things get achieved. Considering: whether or not I should take up pistol shooting, thus revoking my status as a Pistol Club widow?! Watching:Facebook Lives with Deborah Murtagh of The Ketogenic Switch; so much passion. Hoping: it’s a secret – I’ll tell ya later! Marvelling:at just how cool having a daughter really is!
Needing: a money tree! Wearing:frocks, frocks and more frocks! Following: my dreams. Noticing: that as much as I love pretty and expensive things, they’re becoming less and less important as I get older. Instead experiences are important; time with family, coffee with friends – that sort of stuff. Although don’t get me wrong … I still want a massive collection of Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin – I’m not fully evolved yet! Knowing:that self-confidence is not the same as confidence, and although I am self-confident, sometimes that doesn’t translate into confidence, meaning I don’t always “sell myself” when I should. Oh so convoluted! Thinking:that I should be doing more of what I love. Admiring:the many and varied talents of my family and friends. Sorting: ways to turn my dreams into plans.
Buying: a new school uniform for our baby because she got into the school we wanted her to get into … whoop, whoop! Getting: good vibes about new directions. Bookmarking: ketogenic recipes. Disliking:running a wee bit behind on some life goals. Opening: my heart and mind. Giggling: at three-way text messages with my daughter and my partner. Feeling:anxious about one situation and excited about another. Snacking:on two squares of 90% cocoa dark chocolate. So lush. Coveting:this BEAUTIFUL handbag. The Louis Vuitton Speedy in Monogram Empreinte.
Helping: by doing my small part to help good netballers become great netballers! Hearing: when I should be listening!
What have you been up to? Feel free to do your own version – tag me in if you do – I’d love to have a read!
When I first posted this back in February 2016 I was unprepared for the flood of comments, shares and views that would result from it. People were obviously blown away by Monique’s courageous and terrifying experience during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
This year Monique is getting married and she is also competing for the title of Miss Viva Las Vegas 20 (to vote for her – click here, scroll past the “submissions closed” bit and click on her photo to vote.)
If you’ve read this before, read it again! If you haven’t read it, grab a coffee (or a wine!) and settle down and have a read. I think you’ll be both surprised and horrified. So here we go …
Anyone know what this is?
Well I’ll tell you … it’s a body tag.
And we can be incredibly grateful it is a green body tag. Because look who it belongs to:
Yep – it belongs to this incredibly vibrant and courageous woman, who I am proud to call my friend – Monique (pinup name: Miss Monique Sweet)
What many of you may not have known about Monique is that she is an earthquake survivor. In fact, she beat 50:50 odds and came out of the PGC Building on the 22nd of February, 2011 – ALIVE.
To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake, Monique has agreed to tell her story. And let me tell you, it is harrowing. I challenge any of you who know Monique not to be a) horrified and b) in awe of her.
So … here is Monique’s earthquake survival story, in her own words. But before we start, I just wanted to show you this image of the building Monique was in when the earthquake happened.
Why hello there!
It took me a while to decide how I should approach this story … do I gloss over the hard stuff and spare people the gruesome details, or do I tell the REAL story – the one people might not want to hear?
I decided this story deserved 100% honesty – I have seen, heard and felt things you cannot even imagine in your worst nightmares and I don’t want to minimise that fact. Shocking? Yes. The cold, hard truth? Also, yes. Consider this your warning ….
To many people I am a confident, outgoing and bubbly individual, whose personality exudes passion for life. However, to honour and commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch Earthquake, I want to introduce people to Monique – the Earthquake Survior. I also want to celebrate how far I have come as a human being and to commemorate those who were unable to continue this journey with me over the past five years.
Four years ago – in the midst of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) – I was not the person I am today. In fact, I remember a time when I sat on the side of the road, looking at oncoming traffic and willing myself to jump into it. Yip, that’s right – bubbly, confident me. And that wasn’t the only time either. But to explain all this, we have to go back further – to February the 22nd, 2011.
For me, that day began like any other – I woke up and had my usual self-debate; stockings, no stockings? Umbrella or no umbrella? At the time I was working at Perpetual Trustees, based on the 1st floor of the Pyne Gould Corporation Building at 233 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch.
I lived at the top end of Manchester Street and didn’t own a car, so always had a lovely walk into work with my iPod – I often passed the odd hooker or two still working their corner! The walk to work that morning was just like any other morning of the four months I had lived in Christchurch (I moved into my flat the week after the September quake.)
At that time, I was on a health and fitness kick and had spent the hour before lunch debating whether or not to go for a run as I’d planned. If I’d gone, I would have left at 1pm, as per our usual running group time. However, it was raining and I was hungry – I distinctly remember looking at the clock on my computer and the time was 12.50. My mind (influenced by my growling stomach!) decided “aaaaaaaah, screw it!” So I got my lunch out of my bag, left my desk and walked the 5 – 10 metres to the cafeteria, where I said hello to Stacey, Lisa and Alec who were all eating, and placed my lunch in the microwave.
The earthquake hit …
As I pressed the button to heat my lunch, the microwave started making a funny noise. “What the hell is wrong with the microwave?” I thought.
And then the ground started to shake.
And in a short period of time – maybe 5-10 seconds, my life got shaken around and, quite frankly, turned upside down. I can now date my life as “pre-earthquake Monique” and “post-earthquake Monique” – but more about that later.
I tried to steady myself, as this particular shake started off like any other aftershock. But then the violence hit. I was thrown left; I was thrown right and the building started taking mountainous jumps. There was no time to think – my mind just went blank from utter confusion. I turned to the others, who had moved under the table. Of course I was still being thrown around – not really consciously realising what was happening – I mean what do you do when a massive earthquake hits and you’re in the middle of the room? Suddenly I saw it – the wall collapsed toward me and I threw myself at the table the others were under. I’m talking a Superman dive – if Superman was awkward and falling! Even with that Superman dive, though, I didn’t make it under the table. Instead, a door fell on me – that’s how quick everything came down.
In the next half-second, everything went pitch black and all you could hear was the rumbling of the earthquake and the shattering of glass, accompanied by the loud, dumping sound of things collapsing around you. I had something on my back – my legs were out straight – and the pressure on my back grew and grew with the shaking, until my head was a couple of centimetres from my knees. To this day, I have absolutely no recollection or understanding of how I came to be in that position – I had literally done a 180 degree turn to face the opposite way, with my legs flung out underneath me.
The shaking stopped and the realisation of what had just happened set in … and so did the panic.
Something was on top of me – it had cut through my merino top and was cutting into my back. It was HEAVY and that feeling is something I can still feel to this day. My head was basically on my knees – the pins and needles started running through my legs almost immediately and I was struggling to breathe.
The first thing my brain conveyed to the rest of my body was “you have to move – there will be an aftershock” – which was the only certainty I had at that time – hence the panic. How do you move, when you cannot move?
There were noises coming from other people and I could tell someone close to me was not ok.
It was pretty quickly established who was in our area. The “Cafeteria Four” had turned into the “Cafeteria Five” – Chris had started running as soon as the ground started shaking – he’d made it close to the cafeteria, but then a metal beam went into his foot.
My panic was instant – I HAD to move. I somehow had to get my legs out from underneath me – Lisa and Stacey said all I had to do was get out from where I was and I could join them. Fortunately, at this point I wasn’t hysterical – I had a job to do, and that job was to MOVE. The unfortunate part was that it was impossible for me to move either of my legs with the room I had. Thankfully, my legs went numb pretty quickly as I knew I would probably need to break one of my legs to get it out from under me.
The weird thing was there was no “should I?’ I just knew instantly and instinctively that I needed to move quick. So I told everyone what was about to happen, then moved my right leg underneath me, held back an outburst of tears as I grabbed my left leg with my left hand and held my knee with my right. And then I pulled it as hard as I could pull.
I did what I had to do, and fortunately, my leg didn’t actually break. Don’t get me wrong though – it’s taken a huge amount of work to get it back to the state it’s in today.
The relief when my legs came free was incredible. In fact, I would have happily broken both legs for that relief. The weight also lifted off my shoulder as I moved into the foetal position, thus regaining the feeling in my legs and the glorious ability to breathe freely, albeit in masses of dust.
I had survived the first two(ish) minutes after the earthquake.
But it didn’t end there …
Once I had grasped the horror of the situation and returned myself to reality a bit, I started talking to the people around me. We decided the roof must have collapsed inward and if we were in this position in a newish building, we would have to prepare ourselves for a long wait to be rescued.
Stacey had found her cellphone and we worked out there was a cellphone-sized gap between where she was and my foot. I needed to see where I was, but I was too afraid to move as I knew I didn’t have much space and I didn’t want to do anything that might reduce that space. This is where the long onslaught of sheer terror started.
The incredible relief that came with the opportunity to see where I was, quickly diminished when I realised my perilous situation. My legs were now underneath a chair and my head was inside half a recycle bin. But here’s the kicker … there was a giant concrete beam coming down across me and that beam was being held up by a chair. I shimmied my body two inches or so toward the chair. At this point my knees were in the foetal position, coming up to my face, because I’d had to move my body closer to my legs to get my body under the seat).
I placed my top leg into the gap in the drawers that had fallen onto a 45 degree angle. I also moved my head outside of the bin onto the side so I could try to get it under the chair.
At this point, I started the fun game we earthquake survivors like to call “which limb can I live without?” I had this theory that it was ok to lose my legs – I could live without those – I could even live without a portion of my back – but I needed to protect my internal organs and head. So if I could shove my head under the chair, that would be the safest position I could be in at that stage.
It was at this point also, that I realised I was going to die.
And that is when I started to fall apart. I tried to text, then call a friend. The first time I got through to her, all I did was tell her the information I would end up yelling for hours on end: “There are five of us – we are in the PGC building in the cafeteria on the 1st floor – please send help.”
Aftershocks were fun – and yes, I am being hella-sarcastic here. As each aftershock hit, I would move my head upwards; rip some hair out (due to the jagged edge my head was resting on); clench my fists; shut my eyes tight; hold my breath and cry hysterically – it was just pure terror.
Once the aftershock was done, I would start up my broken record again … the “Cafeteria Five” would get used to this over the ensuing hours. Hysteria mixed with panic and “I/we are going to die.”
The first aftershock was not the best …
Remember how the concrete beam was resting on the chair – and I was under the chair? Well the chair started to buckle under the pressure and I went from having “wiggle room” to being pinned down by my waist. Thank God I moved myself under that chair though yea? Now THAT was intuition!
Anyhow … that tiny space was where I would call home for another four plus hours.
I had to make another phone call – this time to my Grandma. I knew my situation had deteriorated and I thought death was imminent at this point, so I wanted to make sure I at least said goodbye to someone.
Can I just add … in times of crisis it is bloody hard to remember phone numbers! However, I will always remember this conversation:
Me: “Grandma, I am in the PGC building – I am stuck under a chair. I just wanted to call to say I love you.” Grandma: “Oooo hello dear (in the chirpiest voice imaginable) I was wondering how you were going! Did you feel the earthquake?” Me: “Grandma, I have to go. I love you.”
And hung up … and it was at this point I entered full-blown hysteria. I had to pass the phone back and I wasn’t allowed to make any more calls – they were making me worse.
Waiting for death …
After calling my Grandma, I quite literally thought I was lying there just waiting for death. At that stage, the odds were stacked (by four storeys) against me.
It was pitch black. There was only silence and a breeze we could feel coming through the building. I was pinned down and was at the mercy of the chair, the building and the aftershocks. I knew I was going to die, the question was – how long would it take?
It is true what they say about death – your life does flash before your eyes. Even if you are still alive, but worried that death is imminent in between aftershocks, panic attacks and trying to breathe.
The first sign that we might be rescued was an oxymoron; we thought they were right there about to come up the stairs and through the doors (that no longer existed) but they didn’t. They found a man close to me – the only other person I could hear in the building outside of the “Cafeteria” group. The man had been moaning since the first earthquake – we didn’t know who he was but he kept groaning and that groaning got more and more intense until we heard someone speaking to him. The sound of another voice started up my broken record again; “Help! We are in the cafeteria, there are five of us, we are on the first floor.” I was literally screaming and begging for help until a man yelled back. His exact words were “help is coming shortly, hang in there.”
The groaning continued until it eventually stopped – we did not hear from that particular male voice again. It wasn’t until much, much later we found out why he was groaning, and why the man didn’t come to our rescue. There are some things you can’t really prepare for; finding out you listened to another human being getting their legs amputated is one of them.
There is something that people don’t tell you about hope – and I’m talking about the hope that man gave us when he yelled back to us. In an earthquake, hope fades very fast. When someone gives you hope – only to have it shaken away from you by another aftershock – it makes you feel like you are in a final destination film. You think you have evaded death once – but now death is still going to get you, in some sort of cruel, twisted fate. That is what it was like for me. I had hope until the next aftershock hit and then I had refreshed panic – panic they would not make it in time. The chair was dipping lower, the pressure was getting more substantial and the fear was something words cannot describe.
Not everything was bad in there though – there were many kinda cool things that happened while we were all there together, sheltering under our various debris. The best part was that we all supported each other – when I was panicking, Stacey would grab my foot and Alec would grab my shoulder to comfort me.
We found out I had the beer fridge crack open next to me and I was able to pass around a cider through the various little spaces we could find – Alec was less than impressed that I couldn’t find any beer!
There was also a plate of cakes I’d found, but was unable to reach after the first aftershock. We had joked (?) if we needed to save water, we could use it as our pee plate!
Our first sign of rescue came after what seemed like ages of hearing only hammering and helicopters. I thought I heard a voice so I started my broken record “help, there are five of us etc, etc.”) This time, though, the rest of the group were less than receptive; a few expletives may have been directed my way! But here’s the thing … I am a determined person and half way through that long stretch of silence I had decided I wasn’t going to just wait for impending doom and was going to do everything within my power to stay alive.
The rescuers started talking to us from above – there was quite a lot of confusion as we couldn’t understand why they didn’t just come down to the first level (we didn’t know at that point that the first three levels were now one.) Another rescuer came to talk to us from the bottom, trying to pinpoint our exact location. Things moved pretty fast from there – rescuers tried to come at us from the top, however what they thought was the first floor, was actually a couple of concrete pads above us. When they shone their torches, thinking they had got to us, I imagine it would have been as disheartening for them as it was for us when we couldn’t see their light.
It still brings tears to my eyes, when I think about Michael calling out to us. Not only did we have people trying to rescue us from the top and the bottom, there were also people trying to find a path to us through the gaps – that was Michael’s job.
Michael – an Average Joe – who decided he could help when he felt the earthquake, so he came into town. Like an angel, he just happened to land on our building, worked his way through the nooks and crannies and found us. He cut a hole in the fridge and found Stacey and Alec. Stacey started flirting with Michael as soon as he had broken through, offering him some milk!
As glad as I was to see him, there was this underlying feeling that an aftershock was about to happen, and it could be a big one that I didn’t think I’d make it through – it was kind of like death was still going to get me in the cruellest way possible – just as I was being rescued.
He got Stacey and Alec out and for me, there was instant renewed panic – he was going to leave me. In hindsight, I totally understand why he would help them make their way out, but what ensued was the meltdown of the century! I didn’t want him to leave me. I didn’t want to be alone; I didn’t want my only shining light of hope to crawl away from me.
He didn’t – bless him, he was such a sweetheart. I remember telling him not to bust down the drawers because I didn’t want everything to collapse around me/him. First thing he did (as I was screaming at him) was bust down the drawers! Which ushered in the first element of relief – I could place my legs on the ground again, instead of having them stuck through drawers. His next step was to get me out from underneath the seat. He grabbed one of my legs and yanked and pulled me free. This got me into a space where I could get onto my hands and knees, but it also dragged my skirt up around my neck! Reason # 1 to always wear pretty undies – you never know when a rescuer might inadvertently drag your skirt above your head!
Words cannot express the joy of seeing the glimmer of light that meant potential escape and getting out from under that chair. I was a bit rude at that point – I didn’t say thanks – I was in a state of shock. And to be fair, my whole goal at that point was to get the hell out of that building!
Crawling out through wiggle space only, felt like I was trying to get through the underground caves in Waitomo. It was at this point I started to realise the true extent of the damage to the building. Crawling through it meant making your way over solid, compacted debris (concrete, glass etc) mixed with a shit tonne of paper and splashes of blood.
I would like to say I cried when I came out at the end via the ladder, but I didn’t. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, then threw my shoes off the building – they were the last thing I was worried about.
A man was helping us down the ladder, however being extremely independent, I snuffed my nose at it, but was forced to accept his help and THANK GOLLY GOSH I did. I was shaking so violently I could barely hold the ladder and he had to coach me to move my body.
I felt immense relief when I got to the bottom of the ladder. Someone had collected my shoes and had them waiting there for me. Someone else held me up until I was passed onto the ambulance officer who again, had to help me to walk out. Looking up at the building, I was like “holy.fuck.” There were no feelings – there was just numbness.
I looked at the people but I didn’t say thank you … I couldn’t talk. We walked around from the back of the building and turned the corner to the side of the building, where I had been sitting 30 seconds before the earthquake. It was a pancake. All four levels were sitting literally on top of my desk.
At that moment I let out an excruciating howl; dropped to the ground and started crying hysterically. The ambulance officer basically dragged me over to the emergency ambulance bay where I was greeted by James – a member of my team (who, about a second before, I had thought was dead.)
The weirdest part was being body-tagged and waiting to be able to leave the site. It was seeing the rescue workers and the bleak look in their eyes. It was telling Michael (my rescuer) I loved him.
Ten people from my work passed away that day, with another eight from our building. Two of our team made it out that day – one with significant injuries. The other two, unfortunately, passed away. We have since been told that every person who made it out alive that day had a 50:50 chance of doing so – thankfully I was on the good end of that ratio.
To read about the aftermath of the earthquake, and the ongoing effect it had/has on my life, come back for post number two – coming soon.
Here’s Mumpty’s little guide to Christmas … in spelling format because I’m a geek like that.
C is for consumerism (as in rampant!) … when you read that bit you would be forgiven for thinking this is going to be an anti-Christmas post, but believe me – it’s not – I LOVE Christmas! I get that it is very commercial and I get that some people hate that, but to be honest, if that sort of stuff bothers you and you can’t make Christmas fun in your own way, then you’re doing it wrong!
Having said that … if you’re going to shop like crazy and enjoy it (like I am!) then you might as well support local businesses right?
H is for happy. Whatever makes you happy at Christmas time – do that. And do it all year too if you can.
R is for roses. I am lucky enough to live with my partner and our daughter in my family home, which means our garden is full of the roses that my Mum and Dad planted. Lucky, lucky me right? So this time every year there are the MOST BEAUTIFUL roses all.over.the.show These ones below are real life, from my garden. Stunning huh.
I is for “there’s no “I” in Christmas!” Christmas is all about watching other people have fun – which then means you have fun by default! Which is not to say it’s ALLLLLL about everyone else and I don’t enjoy a good present or two, because God knows I do! And this year I can’t decide which present I want the most – do I really need another Jenny dress from Pinup Girl Clothing? Or a GHD curling wand? Or sparkly BAIT shoes from 19Black? Yes, yes I do – and so much more! Heheeeee!
S is for the Silly Season! I love the Silly Season. I love how there’s lots of parties and events to go to; how everywhere you look it’s Christmas; how the closer you get to Christmas the more and more charged, stressed and mad it gets; how there’s that feeling of expectancy in the air … ya know … all that!
T is for traditions. One of our little family traditions is adding two or three special decorations to our tree each year. Our daughter has her own white tree in her bedroom, and this year we added a glass birdcage with a white bird inside it; a cute little silver TradeAid Santa and a gorgeous white Pandora china basket. To our tree we added a gold star for the top; a glitter reindeer head, a gold bow and a Noel bell (my Dad’s name is Noel!)
M is for memories – enjoying the ones you have and building more for the future. Like I said earlier, we live in my family home, so I already have lots of awesome memories here, but it is still fun making new ones for our daughter.
Below is one of the little corners of paradise in our little corner of paradise!
A is for #allthethings! I absolutely love the excess of Christmas – the opportunity to buy cool and thoughtful presents; the food; the champagne (!); the get-togethers; the decorations; the songs (especially Amy Winehouse’s version of “I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus” and Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”); the glitter everywhere; Christmas trees – all that stuff!
“Santa baby, and fill my stocking with a duplex – and checks. Sign your “x” on the line …!”
S is for seriously though … I hope you have the best Christmas ever this year!
For the uninitiated, WOW stands for the World of WearableArt which, at its heart, is an international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries from all over the world. But it is SO much more than that; it’s essentially a visually spectacular couple of hours of fashion, frivolity, dance and all-out entertainment, and what could be better than that? Mumpty was very fortunate to attend this year and it was BRILLIANT from start to finish.
The star of this year’s show, and indeed the MC, was a rather camp, sarcastic and totally fabulous Bengal Tiger, created by the magicians at WETA Workshop. He was magnificent and spent the show sitting languidly on his rock overlooking the festivities below.
The Brancott Estate Supreme WOW Award for 2016 went to an entry from a New Zealand designer, Gillian Saunders, called “Supernova”. Mumpty was lucky enough to have WONDERFUL seats right next to one of the “spokes” of the stage, so she saw the intricacies of the designer’s creations up close, and let me tell you – Supernova was a sparkling, decadent creation which well deserved the win! Now Mumpty loves a bit of bling, and Supernova most certainly delivered on that front – it was glitteringly, light-catchingly GORGEOUS! Supernova also deservedly took out the Avante Garde section as well.
The show was, of course, based on showcasing the WOW entries and they did an incredible job of making sure each and every outfit was able to be viewed by everyone, no matter where they were in the venue. As I mentioned, I had a super-duper seat so I could see everything up close. If you’re going to attend, I really do recommend you spend a bit extra on good seats – you will appreciate it more – trust me. But it wasn’t just the outfits that were featured – WOW really is a extravaganza of entertainment and the show boys and girls went all-out to create a truly spectacular show.
I have to mention here, just briefly, Hannah Tasker-Poland. Until WOW, I had never seen Hannah dance live before, and she is, quite simply, ridiculously talented. Don’t want to gush, so I will stop there.
One of Mumpty’s favourite sections of the show was the Bizarre Bra section, where designers were tasked with reinventing the humble bra – and man, do some people have a wild imagination! Check this out …
Cool huh! Another of my favourites was two poached eggs, and the bit that went around the back was a metal spatula! Hilarious! And here is the winner of the World of WearableArt and Classic Car Museum Bizarre Bra section, “Come Fly With Me” by Julian Hartzog of the USA. The wings were mirror-like and sparkly and just fabulous.
The sets for each section of WOW were fantastic as well … check these out:
The golden tree prop was part of the set for the David Jones Avante Garde section – I loved it.
I do like angelic figures, and I particularly liked those globes they projected images on to; so clever.
And last but not least, because I could go on forever (and quite often do) and no one will read it anyway … is my personal favourite (after the super-sparkly Supernova of course) a little gem called Lippydeema by Daisy May Collingridge of the UK. Lippydeema is described as a “joyful creature who likes to dance when no one is watching”. I feel like she might be a kindred spirit!
So that was Mumpty’s experience of WOW – words can’t really describe it so I would recommend, if you ever get the chance to go, GO! I for one cannot wait to go again, and will be taking my daughter with me – she’ll LOVE it. And by the way, it’s not just for the girls, it’s a good one for the boys as well. You know how men like to work out how things are done? They can do that. And of course, the models aren’t entirely ugly either!
A special thanks to my amazing Mum and Dad who bought my ticket – I went to WOW with them and my sister and it was a fabulous experience – not to mention the rest of the weekend. Shhh … we visited WETA Workshop and here is a quick troll photo!
Mumpty always has a number of things on her phone’s “watch list” – i.e. a list of purchases that would be made if there was lots of spare money running around in her wallet! Here is July’s list:
Black Opium by YSL – I am about to run out of my current perfume, and recently I caught a whiff of this one. Let me tell you – it is DIVINE. And by the way – have you heard about Makeup Your Mind (MYM Cosmetics)? It’s a new online makeup site that allows you to lay-buy your purchases – well actually, I guess it’s hire purchase, because once you’ve paid the first instalment, they’ll send you your goodies and you just keep paying each week until you’ve paid them off. Fabulous and tempting, yes – dangerous, maybe!
The lemon Jenny dress by Pinup Girl Clothing – of course there will always be a PUG Jenny of some description on my want list – and this month it’s the lemon one – which is due for release next week. I also want the red. OK – and the pink. And the blue.
BAIT Robbie Purple Starlets – because, purple and because, sparkly. And they will look fab with my purple Jenny, not to mention you can never have too many shoes. Ever.
Range Rover Evoque – OK, so this is definitely a Lotto one, but I would be out purchasing it like a shot if that were to happen!
Lifeproof case in purple – so, keeping it a bit more real, one of these. In my colour du jour – well, of the year really.