Music Monday: Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden

As I mentioned in my last Music Monday post (this is where I was going with that one, but I got distracted talking about music apps), I have several playlists.

Christmas music – this is because I have music I like to listen to at Christmas, but I don’t want to be hearing it all year!

Classical music – This is what I listen to if I’m tired or need to zone out, or maybe I just wanna concentrate on my book. It’s also what I listen to when I write fiction. It’s mostly heavier classical music – Tchaikovsky’s 1812, Edgar’s Pomp & Circumstance, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, etc. Robust classical music, not quiet elevator music. There are some film scores in there too – Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Die Hard… And a few choral pieces I like, mostly by Pavarotti.

Housework – This is upbeat music designed to impart energy. *Laugh* When it comes to housework, I need all the help I can get! We play this one loud.

Party music – This is a playlist designed to be played loud when we’re drinking, preferably with guests over. It devolves into Steve’s old clubbing music at the end, for some reason. *Rolleyes*

Soundtrack of my life – Yeah, this is a playlist I put together after the first time I did Writing.com’s Soundtrackers activity. It’s super weird to listen to, because it goes from the songs I remember from my childhood (mostly older music that my parents listened to), then music from the 90s when I was a teenager and some Christian stuff, then songs influenced by my husband which are much heavier and cruder than anything I listened to, then random songs my kids liked when they were little, including such things as Thomas the Tank Engine which I used to play for them in the car, and then finally, more recent stuff. It makes for an interesting playlist. *Crazy*

I made a general playlist which is imaginatively titled Elle’s playlist but YouTube also automatically puts all my ‘liked’ music into a playlist, so there’s a lot of double-up there. When I was listening to YouTube Music, I just used to like the new songs I liked, rather than adding them to a playlist, mostly because I was often driving, so the automatically generated ‘liked’ playlist is more comprehensive than Elle’s playlist.

I was going somewhere with this ramble.  *Facepalm*

Okay, no, I was definitely going somewhere with this. So, I recently got a hankering just to listen to some good old classic rock without listening to all the other ones. So I made a Classic rock playlist. It was inspired by mine and Steve’s recent wedding anniversary. Here’s what happened.

So, it was our wedding anniversary on 18 January. 16 years. Which means that this month we’ve been together 19 years. And I was 19 when we started dating. So we’ve literally been together half my life. *Crazy* Woah.

Steve sent me a gorgeous bouquet of roses to the office. The roses were all in different colours, including some gorgeous pink and yellow variegated ones. I gave his dad one of them to see if he could propagate it for me. So pretty.

Then he picked me up from work at 5pm and said he was taking me out to dinner. We went home and called an Uber so that we could both drink. Steve wouldn’t tell me where we going and that it was a surprise, but the moment we got in the Uber, the GPS said ‘Directions to the Hunting Lodge’. *Laugh* Fail.

I hadn’t been to the Hunting Lodge before, but I’d heard a lot about it. Steve’s dad used to be the head chef there in the ‘80s. It had been known as a very expensive, exclusive restaurant. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere (although as Auckland continues sprawling, it doesn’t seem so way out anymore) and people would helicopter from Auckland to the Hunting Lodge for dinner. When Steve’s parents got married, they were able to use the Hunting Lodge grounds for free, which was a massive coup at the time. A decade or so later, long after Steve’s dad had moved on to other jobs, the Hunting Lodge closed. It remained closed for about 15 years, during which time I heard about it over and over again from Steve’s family. It re-opened in 2016 and Steve’s parents went there for their wedding anniversary. And now we were going there.

I don’t know why, but somehow I expected a restaurant called ‘The Hunting Lodge’ to be…well, a lodge. A longish building. And maybe to have dark wood panelling and some semblance of a rustic theme. Steve told me that when he was a kid, it had animal heads on the walls. I’m okay without the animal heads, especially while I’m eating, but it had nothing of the hunting OR the lodge about it. It was instead a small house (that’s the impression I got from the rooms I went in), that made me think the word ‘homestead’ rather than ‘lodge’. The interior walls were painted in pastel shades that made me think ‘cottage’. It was quite open, as if they’d knocked down some walls to turn three small rooms into one large dining area with three sort of areas within it. For a fine dining restaurant, I felt that the whole set up was very ordinary. The tables and chairs, the place settings, all very ordinary. The glasses were all engraved with the Hunting Lodge name and symbol.

I started with the heirloom tomato salad ($16). It was delicious. Beautifully seasoned with herbs and what I assume was balsamic vinegar. Very nice. Steve had the buttermilk fried chicken ($20), which he said was delicious.

I tried the rosé, but it wasn’t for me. I am starting to wonder if that one rosé I liked was just a fluke, or maybe I was extra thirsty and it was a hot day or something. Anyway, we went for the Hunting Lodge pinot noir 2017 from Central Otago. It was superb. Absolutely delicious. We want to buy a couple of bottles for home, but of course it was too late for their cellar door purchases that evening. We’d come back. It’d be worth it! It’s only $39 a bottle in the shop whereas it’s $85 in the restaurant. Which is ludicrous actually, because the shop is literally next door to the restaurant, you could walk between them in about 30 seconds. *Rolleyes*

As we were sitting there, in this supposedly fancy restaurant, eating delicious food and drinking fabulous wine, Steve said “Oh my god. They’re playing Iron Maiden.”

Firstly, it’s astonishing that Steve could even hear what music was playing. He has noise-induced hearing loss, and struggles to isolate sounds in a noisy environment. It makes it incredibly difficult for him to follow conversations in noisy restaurants or pubs. And this music was playing so quietly in the background that few people would even be aware of it.

But sure enough, as we concentrated, we heard Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills playing. *Rolling* So funny. We joked that you’d only get that in a fine dining restaurant in West Auckland (West Auckland being known as the place where people wear black jeans and Metallica t shirts and drive Holden station wagons listening to Deep Purple). Technically we were in Waimauku, which is north west of Auckland, but clearly still Westie enough to play Iron Maiden in a fine dining restaurant. So funny.

After that, we also heard Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Aerosmith and others. There was a guy at the table next to us who was humming along too. And then there were some nattily dressed older people who didn’t even seem to notice that they were being serenaded with classic rock. *Laugh*

For mains, I had the beef sirloin with pinot noir butter, shoestring fries, shallots and parsley salad ($36). It was okay, but I’ve definitely had better. Hell, I’ve cooked better. It desperately needed seasoning, even if it was just with some cracked pepper. The fries were delicious though. Steve had caramelised duck breast with boudin noir, beetroot, anise and cherries ($38). It was beautifully presented, and he quite enjoyed it, especially the beetroot.

For dessert we shared the stracciatella and chocolate ice cream bar ($17) which was nice, but not really $17 nice, if you know what I mean. It was a bit like an ice cream bar you might buy at the dairy or supermarket. And also the vanilla creme brulee which came with strawberry sorbet and freeze dried strawberries ($16). Steve thought the creme brulee was amazing, and kept raving about the texture of it. I particularly enjoyed the sorbet.

I had a wee port to finish, only it came in a dessert wine glass and so ended up being a massive port. *Laugh* It was nice, but I couldn’t finish it after having had wine as well.

Overall, the food was good albeit a bit hi and miss. The wine was excellent. Service was good, decor was disappointing and the music was hilarious. I leave you with Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills which has since made it on to my playlist. *Pthb*

School strike for climate (New Zealand)

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Today, while I sat in my air conditioned office, a chant slowly grew in volume outside the window.  I’d been hearing it off and on all day, but now it was really noticeable.  I go to the window and see a procession of young protesters walking down Queen Street (the main street in Auckland).  They hold up their signs (some clever, some not-so-much) and chant “Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go!”  They’re loud and they’re passionate.  For the first time today I realise that these kids are serious.

They spill over from the footpath and halt traffic, determined to be heard.  These are not kids who just want a cruisy day off school.  This is old-school type protesting, the kind we used to see.  You’ve got teens waving their arms and shouting in the faces of policemen, and you’ve got teens thrusting their signs at truck drivers, insisting they stop and take notice.  These kids are passionate.  They are sincere.  They are determined to make a difference.

At my last job, I was the second-oldest person in the office, and I had a number of co-workers who were in their very early twenties.  They were very passionate about climate change among other things.  They’d nag the rest of us about coming back from the supermarket with single-use plastic bags, or for not using reusable drink bottles at our desks.  It wasn’t inspired by anything other than a passion to save the planet.

I’ve never been passionate about recycling or any of the other myriad things I could be doing to help the planet.  I only started separating my recycling out recently.  By which I mean, in the last three years.  And I could still do better on that front.  I have only just stopped using single-use plastic bags , and it’s mostly because the supermarkets have stopped offering them.  I only started using public transport in December.  Yeah, it wasn’t an option for me the last two years, but it was for the seven years before that and I chose to use my car instead which was more expensive so there were no wins there.  I love nature (I’m a country girl who was brought up on a farm) and I love how beautiful our country is, but I’ve never put any effort into helping to maintain it.  I suck.

My friend Kat said it so eloquently in Sour Grapes and Humble Pie when she wrote ‘Maybe just maybe they are fighting for their life today. The life you got to enjoy already. With clean air, oceans to swim in and gardens to watch your kids play in.’  My kids are city kids, and sometimes I wonder at the difference between the childhood I had on the farm and the childhood they had in the city.  And it’s remarks like that which make me stop and think.  I’m going camping in April, and it’ll be fresh air, peace and quiet, hopefully enjoying nature.  I need to do my part to ensure that others have a chance to enjoy what I have already enjoyed and will continue to enjoy.

It’s easy to say that these kids just want a day off school, but the truth is, the generation after mine, the post-millenials, they ARE passionate about the environment.  They really are.  And they’ve got so many people today talking about climate change, the environment, and our personal responsibilities, so the truth is, they have achieved what they wanted to achieve.  They have been heard and they are making a difference.  That’s bloody inspiring.

Music Monday: Miranda Lambert

It’s Music Monday, and this week’s theme at Writing.com’s Soundtrackers activity is ‘current playlist’. I have several playlists. I don’t have Spotify, and my Apple Music subscription has lapsed, so I’m only using Youtube at the moment. Which sucks actually, because you can’t have music playing in the background while you’re reading a book or whatever. Eventually, when I’ve sorted out our finances again (must get on to that) I’ll get a subscription to one of them again. People rave about Spotify, and that’s what Steve uses, but so far I’ve found the best to be Youtube Music. I like it because I can put all my favourites into one big ‘liked music’ list and then it not only plays songs I like, it also offers me new songs to listen to, based on those I like already. I’ve found a bunch of new songs that way. So that’s probably what I’ll go back to.

Before YouTube Music, I’d never heard of Miranda Lambert. I quite like her stuff. Although I’m terrible at putting music into categories (and forget sub-categories like ‘alternative rock’ or whatever), for me I feel like she’s a bit country, but not so country that it’s cringe-worthy. Anyway, YouTube Music introduced me to some of her songs. I’m not sure what in my playlist made it think I’d like her. I didn’t have a lot of country in there. The Eagles, who straddle that line between country and classic rock… Mumford and Sons are probably country in some sense. Hmm, Wikipedia says they’re ‘folk rock’ and ‘alternative rock’. Apparently the Eagles are ‘folk rock’ too as well as ‘country rock’, ‘soft rock’ and just plain ‘rock’. *Rolleyes*

Anyway, I like Miranda Lambert, even if Wikipedia says she’s just pure country. I’ve always liked country, because when I was a kid my dad used to belong to the local country music club, and my sisters and I used to sing out of his country music songbook and sometimes we were allowed to go along to the club nights. Years later I found out that Dad didn’t actually like country music, it was just one of the few places he could play music with other musicians. *Laugh* Anyway, it reminds me of my childhood on the farm. But I don’t listen to it as a matter of course. If I hear it, I’ll be humming away and tapping my feet, but it’s not something I listen to in the car or at home. Does that make sense? It’s nice to hear every now and then, not all the time.

So these are my favourite two Miranda Lambert songs. I like the music, the beat and the music video of the first one, and the lyrics of the second one.

Music Monday: Gonna Make You Happy Tonight by Tripod

This song makes me laugh. It’s sooooo true! *Laugh*

Gonna make you happy tonight
Give my love to you
Gonna make you feel so right

Spend some time with you
Do the things you want me to
Gonna make love
Gonna make some sweet sweet love sugar
So get ready
Oh get ready get ready
Ready for loving tonight

Before we get down to love
Before we get down
I just gotta finish this level

Do you have any idea how many times my husband has said to me, “Yeah, I’ll be there in a sec, babe, I just gotta finish this level”? *Rolling* Not so much now that he plays MMOs, but definitely in the early years of our relationship and marriage.

I gotta high score tonight
I just gotta save my game
I’ll be with you in a minute sweet baby
I love how you dance for me
But could you move a little to the left baby
I can’t see the TV

Baby I can’t wait till we start
It’s just that the save points are so far apart
In this game baby
But I do love you

I used to refer to myself as a Diablo widow. “But babe, the save points are so far apart!” *Rolling*

Baby this bit’s got multiplayer
Maybe you can operate a turret with me baby would you like that?
It’s good ’cause
Games give you hand-eye coordination
And spatial intelligence, together with map reading skills

I remember my husband showing me a newspaper article one day that explained how playing computer games teaches all those skills. He was trying to convince me that it was beneficial to him to play them. *Laugh* Nice try!

Turn the lights down low
Lower lower
Turn the lights down low
Just a little bit lower
Turn the lights down low
It’s just that it helps me feel like I’m in a spaceship 

Ever since I heard this song, I’ve taken to turning the lights off on him while he’s playing his games, usually as I head to bed, and asking “Does it make you feel like you’re in a spaceship?” *Laugh*

Then we can make some
Sweet sweet love honey
You look so great to me baby
Have you brushed your teeth yet?
Take your time
No hurry
It’s just that I’m not tired
Are you tired?
I’ll see you in the bed then
You might want to take a book 

And of course, what am I doing while he is playing his computer games until the wee hours? Reading a book. *Laugh* Seriously, it’s like they knew us when they wrote this song.

Ooh you so fine baby
I can’t stop thinking about you…and all the coins I have to collect
I just gotta find one secret area
Get one more ability point
And I’ll make sweet love to you baby
I think this xbox
Is the best present I ever bought for you, Baby

This is the only place where the song differs from the reality that is my marriage. Although we’ve owned a an Xbox and a Playstation and a Wii, it has always been the computer games that have absorbed my husband.

Currently his favourites are Escape From Tarkov and Path of Exile. There have been numerous ones along the way.

I’m not really into computer games. The only two I’ve ever got into are Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM) which I played a lot when I was flatting in ’98-99 and Civ. I can’t remember if I had the first two editions of Civ, but I definitely remember having Civ III, which was the main one I played. Then I upgraded to Civ IV and Civ V. I think that was the last one I ever played. They’re up to… Oh, they’re only up to VI. I thought there’d have been more than that by now. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Civ is a turn-based strategy game where you literally build a civilisation. ADOM was a ‘roguelike’ game, whatever that means. You chose a character and had to complete quests. Reminded me heavily of Dungeons and Dragons although I never played D&D. It was an epic game, with the most basic imagery you could possibly imagine. For example, your character was just an @ symbol on the screen. A tree was a green t. Very simplistic. But the quests and challenges and levels were epic. I think the highest I ever got to was about level 14. One of my flatmates, Alex, got to 30-something. I’ve never known anyone who actually finished the game.

Music Monday: Feel Inside (and stuff like that) by Flight of the Conchords

This song has the feels on so many levels.

Growing up in New Zealand we used to have these charity telethons on TV. Celebrities would entertain us, live, and people would ring in and pledge money for charity. The totals would be tallied live on the show, and the people or businesses donating would have their names mentioned. It was a real feel-good thing. The country coming together for charity but also having a laugh together. I presume they’ve had them in numerous other countries around the world. Anyway, they’re happy childhood memories.

Then there’s Red Nose Day which raises money for sick kids. When I was a kid, the song for Red Nose Day was always You Make The Whole World Smile.

That’s not my song for today though, that was just a wee bonus. *Laugh*

In 2012 they did a Red Nose Day telethon and as part of it, they asked Flight of the Conchords to write a new song. The duo interviewed a bunch of children, and then used the kids’ answers as the lyrics for the song. The kids were so cute, and their answers were hilarious, as only small children’s answers can be. Flight of the Conchords recorded the song with a bunch of New Zealand singers.

Unless you’re a major fan of the Flight of the Conchords, I’d skip to 5:08, skipping the scene where Rhys Darby talks the Flight of the Conchords into doing the song. I can’t stand Rhys Darby. He pisses me off. But if you’re a fan, feel free to watch it from the beginning.

Music Monday: Pokarekare Ana

It’s Music Monday again, a meme started by The Tattooed Book Geek.  Posting Whakaaria Mai last week reminded me of Pokarekare Ana.

This song doesn’t remind of a particular person or place, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not powerful or emotive.

Pokarekare Ana is a New Zealand love song. Most children are taught it at an early age here, at primary school level if not before. For most New Zealanders, it is a sort of New Zealand anthem, a reminder of home. A patriotic song, I guess. But it is in fact a love song.

It is believed to have been written by New Zealand soldiers during WWI, but no one can prove the true origins. The first person known to have a copy didn’t claim to have written it, only to have polished it up. He said it came from soldiers north of Auckland who were preparing for war in Europe.

If you search Youtube, you’ll find some beautiful versions. I’ve heard Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sing it live – the first concert I ever went to, in the Auckland Domain. There are also a bunch of amateur versions on Youtube.

This one, sung by ordinary everyday New Zealanders, gives you a glimpse of how powerful this song can be. All it takes is one voice to start. There’s another version on Youtube where you can hear an entire stadium singing it quietly, which is pretty moving too. But this one is an impromptu song to celebrate the legalisation of same sex marriage in New Zealand in 2013.

Music Monday: How Great Thou Art by Sir Howard Morrison

It’s Music Monday again, a meme started by The Tattooed Book Geek.

I first learned to sing Whakaaria Mai in primary school. I didn’t like it then, because it was pitched too high for me, and really difficult to sing. It may have also had something to do with my teacher who I hated. *Rolleyes* I also, possibly because of a lack of religious upbringing, had no idea it was the Maori version of How Great Thou Art. But years later, as an adult, I heard Sir Howard Morrison’s version and it just sent chills down my spine. So powerful. So emotive. It gets me every time.

Steve’s grandmother died in 2010. She was the first person I’d lost who I’d been close to since my grandfather had died in 1991. Two of Steve’s grandparents had passed away prior to Nana Rose, but although I thought they were lovely people who I cared for, I hadn’t been close to them. Nana Rose and I had spent hours scrapbooking together. And it was only when she’d passed away and they were planning the funeral that I found out her favourite hymn was How Great Thou Art. *Heart*

I can’t listen to this song and not feel moved. This version, sung by Sir Howard Morrison. It’s just awesome. I’m not religious anymore, but if I was, I’d want this played at my funeral. And even without being religious, it still gets me every time.