While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Death Knell

I have a new blog. It's called This Fluid Thrill, which may or may not refer to a sharp firm percussion on one part of the abdomen and feeling a shock wave over a distant part of the abdomen.

This is now offically my old blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Got nowhere else to spruik this, so...

Essential Zealand Short Stories, edited by Owen Marshall, first came out in 2002. It featured 45 stories from 45 New Zealand writers, from Katherine Mansfield and Frank Sargeson, through Lloyd Jones and Witi Ihimaera, to Emily Perkins and Chad Taylor.

This month, an updated edition has been published featuring five new stories.

Essential New Zealand Short Stories

If you turn to the last story, you'll find mine ('Copies').

It's far too early for me to be sitting in a book alongside Mansfield, Marshall and the Maurices (Shadbolt and Duggan)... but when the collection was reviewed on National Radio this morning, 'Copies' got a special mention. Listen here if you're interested.

My only complaint with the book is the lack of author bios. Okay, for all the luminaries you can look up their NZ Book Council page (I like the new look, by the way) , but for the "fresh young talents", readers have to make do with whatever Google throws up.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

All Good Things

Well I'm back in New Zealand for the first time in 23 months. People ask, "Is it weird to be back?" and, truthfully, it isn't. I like it here. Why else would I come back?

A few things have changed. I've noticed my hometown of Palmerston North is a lot more Australian than the last time I was here, and this may be true of the Kiwi culture more generally, I'm not sure yet.

I have a little over a month before I have to submit the final manuscript for my short story collection. I also have to find a job and a place to live (both hopefully in Wellington).

So you'll forgive me if I takes a wee while before I decide what to do next in the blogosphere. I have some ideas (including one frontrunner), but no announcements yet.

As for writing, it was strange reverting to a non-writer for over five months after last year's insanity. Not difficult, just strange. I only made about 10 pages of notes in my notebook over that time. So I wasn't exactly brimming with ideas. I may write a travel-related story in the next few months, but it's one based in Turkey and Australia (drawing on experience from almost a year ago to the day).

So, as I ease myself back in behind the keyboard, here's some holiday snaps taken since my last blog entry...




Costa Rica







Saturday, February 21, 2009


I´ve now been travelling for two months, and what better way to celebrate than with some lists...

Countries Visited Since Leaving Edinburgh

Costa Rica

Countries Left To Visit Before Returning to NZ in May


(* perhaps)

Best Meals

* Falafel in pita with salad, Luxor, 1 Egyptian Pound (an eighth of a British Pound)
* "Enchillada" (unlike western enchilladas, this was a deepfried pocket filled with spicy rice then topped with coleslaw and wrapped up like a soft shell taco), Grenada, 5 Nicaraguan Cordobas (about 50p)
* Guanabana yoghurt drink, Lima (1L for about a pound)... a meal in itself

Common denominator, as ever, is price. All that street meat (and veg) means I'm pretty immune to most of the nasties out their. (NB: I did get really sick in Cairo, but that was a bug that went around the tour... nothing to do with the cuisine).

Best Historical Sites

1. Karnak Temple, Egypt

2. Philae Temple, Egypt
3. The Sphinx and Pyramids, Egypt
4. Valley of the Kings, Egypt

Egypt is pretty hard to compete with when it comes to ancient stuff. The mayan ruins at Copan in Honduras were pretty cool, but just can´t compete with Egypt when it comes to age, scale, presevation or quality of artistry.

Best Museums / Art Galleries

1. Vatican Museum, Rome
1.a Egyptian Museum, Cairo

At the beginning of this trip, I was most anticipating a visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and by the size of the queues (4 hour wait to get inside without a 4 euro booking) everyone else was too. But it was just a decent art gallery. Sure, there were five or six pieces I studied back in High School Art History, and I´m glad I went, but I was not blown away as I was with the two places above. Both wow with scale: the Vatican museum has whole rooms dedicated to scultpures of animals, or busts, or maps of Italy. In the Egyptian Museum you can find rows upon rows of sarcofagi, or figurines included in burials, or trinkets, or stamps (used with ink rather than postage stamps). And both have pretty awesome pieces de resistance (Tutankhamon´s sarcofagi; Sistene Chapel).

Best Views

* Half frozen Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side of course

* Being a foot and a half away from a snake (first snake I've seen in the wild) in Costa Rica... and not just any snake, a fer-de-lance
* Top of the Empire State Building at night (freezing cold and cliched as hell, but totally worth it)

Best Cultural Experiences

* Seeing an NHL hockey game in Canada (Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins, 31 Jan 2009). The game had everything: former captain's banner ceremony (+ free Dougie Gilmore bobbleheads), nine goals, an awesome fight (my video below), and the Leafs won (a rare occurence).

* Taxi ride from Cairo airport
* Dancing in jandels and shorts in Nicaraguan night clubs

Biggest Pains in the Bum

* My aforementioned sickness in Cairo
* Trying to change a flight with Aerolineas Argentinas (ongoing)
* Being talked to in English in Costa Ricano matter how hard you try your dodgy Spanish

Oh well, that's all for now. Off to the Peruvian Amazon tomorrow. Bring on those Anacondas!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Driving Tour of Italy...

...with Mario Mario



[Faster than the train]



[On the way to Capri]

[Isola di Capri]


[Even video game American-Italian Plumbers need to do laundry]