The List: Number 52 – Drive a Convertible with the Top Down

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It’s cooler than I thought it would be, driving a z4 with the top down along the little country lanes out in Somerset.

Number 52 – Drive a convertible with the top down. from Elly Rarg on Vimeo.

But it I did it! 52, done!

PS – Slight caveat, even more novel because I haven’t driven in two years. In London, no one really drives because we have such a rocking public transport system, and having a car in London would not be super smart. So yay! Driving!

The List: Number 87 – Sail a Yacht

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Sail a yacht. I did it, and by ‘it’ I mean that I manned the helm for a while. Occasionally I did some winching, or tailed when someone else winched. Fed out some slack as someone else winched, sometimes too.

Me – sailing (or rather, motoring) out from the Lakki Marina, on Nisos Leros.

Sometimes it was hard work, but mostly, when you’re sailing around the Mediterranean/Aegean Sea, it’s really just lying around the boat in the sun. Or, if you’re like me, concentrating very hard on not being horrifically ill, because it turns out you get seasick.

I’m counting this (number 87) done. Woo!

The List: Number 82 – Ride in a Zorb down a hill

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My cousin Morf for my birthday said that he’d help me cross something off The List, and zorbing was it. He, Bunny + I drove the hour out to Dorchester in Dorset while we were in Sommerset to do it. And woah buddy. It. Was. BRILLIANT!

Me + Bunny did the harnessed version first. They strap you in, and you go head over heels over and over and round and round down a hill. Takes about 20 seconds to get down, and woah buddy. There was no screaming. No, instead there was maniacal giggling. Uncontrollable giggles and delight and it was brilliant.


The second trip down we did the hydro version. They threw a bucket of (warm, thankfully) water in, and the three of us, unstrapped, rolled down the hill. I definitely preferred this version. Rolling over each other, down the hill, more maniacal giggling. It was brilliant! It was less brilliant when we had to get out and the wind chilled our wet selves to the bone. Still, I had a great time!

The staff were super awesome (shout out to Kyle + Guy who were hilarious). The set up was low key, but amusing. You wait at the bottom of the hill, and they drive you up when they pick up the Zorbs (these ones were all stamped ‘Made in New Zealand’. Because rolling down the hill in a giant hamster ball is something only a kiwi would invent), you jump in and they push you off. Fun times.

So yes, Number 82, Done!

The List: Number 121 – Make a clear note come out of a sax.

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I once watched my friend learn to play the saxophone, and we spent a good long while in giggles while he made pretty much fart noises while he figured out his embouchure (it’s what you do with your lips and things to make a note with the reed + the mouth piece). Because of that singular, incredibly amusing experience, I thought it was difficult.

Turns out it’s not really difficult at all. My friend Cee had a sax, and when I told her I’d added this to The List, she offered to teach me. An hour or two later (with only a few random fart noises) I was making many clear notes. Fun times!

I didn’t expect it be that easy, so this was taken on my phone. It’s a bit shit, but perfectly demonstrates that woo, #122 – done!

The List: Number 74 – Take a trapeze class

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When I was riding my bike to work (in that amazing time before my hip got all nana-like) I’d ride to work through Regents Park. On the outer circle there is a massive trapeze set up with the Gorilla Circus. Knowing full well it was on The List I noted the url on a banner, and booked me and two friends into a beginners class.

It was pretty amazing. They teach you on a low bar how to put your legs above your head and hang on to a bar by your legs. They then put you on a rather high platform, and do the same again. It was both exhilarating and demonstrated my complete lack of flexibility and upper body strength. Well fun. You get a two or three practice goes. And then, towards the end, they set you up for the catch. The catch is where you you stand on a platform and jump off. You swing out, and as you do you put your feet over the bar. On the swing in you let go with your hands, and on the next swing out you’re caught by the catcher.

Now, I’m a pretty determined person (read: stubborn as). When I want to do something, I usually do it. On the ground I was determined that I was going to do the catch. Up the ladder, and on the platform, I was going to do the catch. While I was on the bar? While I was on the bar I learnt a few things about myself. One is that when a lady yells at me to let go of a bar and swing from my legs, my initial, completely irrational response to yell back ‘Woah buddy, not happening’.

Turns out that on a swinging bar a ten metres up in the air as I’m flying in a not especially graceful arc is when my inner coward comes out. Which is a bizarre realisation to have when you’re pumped with adrenaline and feel like you can (and should be able to) do anything. I didn’t fear the fall, because I’d already fallen. You need to, to get down. We weren’t up high enough to fear the height. I knew, rationally, that my legs were perfectly capable of holding my weight, more so than my arms.

My reaction was irrational, and completely instinct based. It was a very bizarre experience.

Still, I got up there, and gave it go, and I’m down with that. When my hip is less painful I’ll try again. Loads of fun, Trapeze. Hard work, though. Using muscles you never use, and expect your hands to be pretty raw by the time you’re done. I had mad calluses!

I’m glad I went, it was well fun. Number 74, done!

The Breakdown. The class is in Regents Park, and you can book online at gorillacircus.com. It was £23.50 per person plus booking fee, and is about an hour and a bit lesson. You’re in a class with 9 others, and you’ll get 3-4 turns on the trapeze. Fun times all round!

The List: Number 43 – Sign myself up to a Stem Cell Donation register.

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I’m Maori, and that means I’m very much part of that racial minority. Which is all well and good, most of the time. Most of the time I don’t even think about it. But sometimes, sometimes something twigs and it makes me wonder. Maori culture also happens to be, well, declining. There aren’t any ‘pureblood’ Maoris alive today. I don’t speak Maori, and culturally I live my life more along the pakeha lines than any other, as is the way I’ve been raised. It’s easier to live up that side of my life too, considering I’m over here in England. My Maori habits (specifically my everyday use of Maori language) are diminishing.

The other thing about being a minority is that finding a stem cell match is well, it’s not easy. So I signed up with Anthony Nolan to become a stem cell donor, in the hope that in case someone needs it, my minority cells will be able to help their minority cells.

Anthony Nolan is a UK based charity that has international reach. That international reach part was especially important for me, considering the minority I’d be helping is very probably back home in New Zealand. Anthony Nolan not only helps match donors to people in need, but also conducts research about stem cell matching and transplants to help improve the process. Nice, aye?

The process was pretty simple. I filled out the online form where they asked a few things to make sure I was all fit and healthy and suitable to register as a donor. They sent out a ‘spit kit’, where mostly the hardest thing to do was to make sure that I didn’t spit over the line (seriously). I put my spit in a tube (now with added purple) in an envelope and then in the post. They did some magic behind the scenes, sent me a card, and I’m in! Easy as!

What really surprised me though, is that when I told people they kind of wrinkled their nose, and asked if donation would hurt. Turns out, not really. They can take stem cell donation by blood now. Which is where you get a few injections to boost your stem cells in your blood stream, and then you give up some blood. They hook you up to a machine where your blood goes out one arm, into the machine where they separate out the stem cells, and then your stem cell-less blood goes back into the other arm. And giving blood doesn’t hurt that much. I’ve done it before.

The other process is a bit more involved, and requires a hospital stay. You get a general anaesthetic (lovely lovely unconsciousness) and they take some bone marrow from your pelvis with a needle. Apparently there’s a little bruising, but nothing too bad. Definitely not as bad as say, having your wisdoms out. They say the after-effects are like you’ve played a hard game of football. Not as sore as the rumours, is it?

Once they’ve got your donation, it’s spirited away and off to someone who needs it. Often saving their life, apparently. There are many heart wrenching stories of success on the Anthony Nolan website, but I shan’t guilt you with them. There’s this whole spiel about potentially saving someones life, which I have to say, did make me feel a bit warm and fuzzy.

So yeah. Me + my stem cells are registered. Number 43 – Done!

The List: Number 89 – See a Shakespeare Play at the Globe Theatre

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I’ve been London for about a year now, and I hadn’t yet had a chance to see anything more than the outside of Shakespeares Globe Theatre. Mostly because the shows they put on are expensive, and fill up ridiculously fast. Call me a snob, but I wasn’t interested in being a groundling (the people who stand in the courtyard for a fiver, rather than sit on a bench for the duration of the play). So, when my friend Liz suggested we go, I jumped at the chance! Also, true to my snobbery, I hired a cushion and a red fleece blanket for £4 and was glad of the comfort when it started raining, and the groundling’s got all wet.

I saw Troilus and Cressida. Except, that it had a twist. The Globe Theatre was doing 37 shows of Shakespeare’s works in 37 different languages by 37 international theatre companies. Woah buddy. I saw Troilus and Cressida in Maori, so it was actually “A Toroihi Raaua Ko Kaahira”. And colour me ridiculously proud to see Maori perform on the stage of Shakespeares Globe. Ti hei mauriora!

I think that’s important to note that I don’t speak Maori. I understood about of quarter of what was being said, but that was clearly more than a fair chunk of the crowd. A Toroihi Raaua Ko Kaahira was both a bit dramatic, but also had it’s hilarious moments. There were a few jokes that I got, and you could tell who else spoke Maori because they cracked up at the same time I did (one joke in particular was after Toroihi and Kaahira had consummated their marriage, and he was all proud, and Kaahira was slightly mocking. I heard the words ‘tane’ and ‘kauri’ and it wasn’t hard to put the rest of it together. I thought it was funny, anyway).

Still, they had scene summaries up so you knew what was going on, but mostly they weren’t necessary. The acting was phenomenal, and even if you didn’t understand the words, it wasn’t hard to see the body language. It was pretty easy follow, especially because we looked up the synopsis on wiki before the show started. It was also pretty amusing to see some familiar (aka, Shortland Street) faces. I have to say, up close on stage suited them much better than anything I’ve ever seen on Shortland Street.

The best bit, though? The best bit was how the whole crowd came together to show their pride at our Maori actors being brilliant. I was surrounded by kiwi accents, and all of them, all of them were expressing pride and amazement at the close of the show. There was a closing haka by the actors, and unsurprisingly there were two haka responses from the crowd. Haka’s are amazing. They are loud, and intimidating, and an immense show of respect, really. I got a little bit teary eyed and felt a little bit homesick. Mostly pride, though. Pride that people from my heritage, with all the sterotypes and colonisation history are here, in the heart of England, on one of the most historical and amazing stages, rocking their culture like nobodies business.

It. Was. Amazing.

So yeah, Number 89 Done!

Note: Our tickets, with their amazing seats (mid gallery, part way around to the left of the stage) was £25 + booking fee. Pretty sweet, aye? The Maori shows are all done, but they’re doing other languages right up until the 9th of June, 2012. If you’re in London, check it out. Seriously, affordable and amazing theatre shows in this amazing building – you won’t find better!

The List: Number 96 – Go Dog Sledding

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We were in Italy, and the snow was distinctly average. So we took a half day, took the Gondola over to Sestriere, and spent an hour with the dogs learning to sled. Number 96 on The List.

It was ridiculous, and it was hard. There was lots more running than I thought there’d be. And steering the sled? So much more difficult than it looks. There’s a lot of balancing on one ski, and yanking the sled to where you want it to go, hoping that as the dogs pull forward your sled goes where you want it. Otherwise it all goes wrong and you’ll end up on your face. True story.

But other than that, I really enjoyed it. The dogs worked hard, and were lovely – all the ones we got were quite affectionate and happy to be petted and hang out. Once we got going, and I figured out how to best to stand on the sled it was pretty brilliant. It felt pretty amazing to be out there, having the dogs pull you along.

Honestly, it was great day, and this was definitely one of the more fun things on The List that I’ve done so far. I had a huge grin on my face the whole afternoon after – loads of fun! If you get the opportunity to give it a go, do it.

Note: We did it with Luca from Centro sleddog Sestriere. €60 per person per hour, organised through our Neilson rep. Super easy, super amazing. If you’re in Sestriere, they are to the right of the Gondola as you come out. Look for the teepee.

The List: Number 95 – See the Nutcracker

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I wasn’t aware that there were *two* nutcrackers, but there were. We saw Matthew Bourne’s one, rather than the original. It was . . . well, fairly interesting. Different from what I expected (lots of bright, modern costumes, and fairly modern music (oh hey rock’n’roll…) – not at all the traditional ballet I had in my head). Some of it was amusing (there were some quite funny moments, two little cherubs in pj’s that give the lead a pretty dress, girls that a dressed like flamingo marshmallows, the salsa dancing allsorts characters etc etc), some of it was really not (I may have fallen asleep a little in the second Act).

In saying that, I was horribly ill, it was cold + miserable and the theatre was full of young small loud wriggling children (I should have expected this at the matinee, really). I’m pretty sure we all napped towards the end.

Not quite as life changing as I thought it would be, but I couldn’t have known that before I saw it. So yes. I went, and the ballet was (mostly) lovely.

Number 95 – Done!

The List: Number 112 – See 10 of Invaders pieces in person.

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So, it’s no surprise that I have thing for Invader. I’ve mentioned here a few times (like here). Generally, I have thing for street art, and I’ve loved invader well before I left NZ, before Exit through the Gift Shop came out, before I’d ever seen one of his pieces in the flesh. He’d never visited NZ before, so I’d never had the chance.

I made a point to put it on The List. I knew I was coming to London, and I knew that Invader had hit London many times. I wanted to see them!

I did. I convinced friends to look for them when we were wandering around. I easily saw 10. Since then I’ve seen many. I even occasionally spot new ones. There today when it was definitely not there yesterday. One of the great things about going out of my way to spot Invader pieces is that I’ve come to appreciate some of London’s amazing street art. Like Vhils,Stik and Roa. And they are amazing.

Made me really appreciate London’s thriving street art scene, you know?

That number 10, well, it was a pretty amazing moment. I was on a date with a Jimmy when I spotted it on Wardour St. I may have squealed, had a little squee moment, had a bit of a dance, followed quickly by a mad panic when I realised that I didn’t have either a phone or a camera. A guy sitting on the wall right next to it offered to take a photo with his very shit, very old school nokia phone. It was dark, and raining, and we all laughed a little bit at the quality. But still, I had my moment. The 10th Invader piece I’d seen, in person.

So yes. Number 114 on The List, done.