All Blacks part rain clouds for triumphant reception

The All Blacks flew back in to Auckland this morning, freshly scrubbed up and patched up after a bruising few months in the UK. They went on to take out the big one by thumping Australia in the final on Sunday to become the Rugby World Cup 2015 champions.

They arrived to an Auckland looking fittingly black with torrential rain, but with everything going the way of the back-to-back world champions at the moment, the clouds parted and out came the spring sunshine in time for their arrival at Victoria Park.

Our kids were given a free pass from school for a few hours so we joined the huge crowds for our chance to welcome the world champions back with lots of cheering and yelling. When we arrived Ladi6 was warming up the crowd nicely with her hip hop and the All Blacks were taking their time to sign everything thrust in front of them and of course posing for the ubiquitous selfie shot with fans. Tenors Sole Mio stepped on stage to keep everything bubbling away and ended with their operatic tribute to the All Blacks while the team made their way on stage with the mayor.

I got the sketch I was after despite being constantly jostled by the crowd and with a 9 year old sitting on my shoulders, so quite a physical workout, but well worth it. Appreciation goes out to our own Urban Sketchers Aotearoa sketcher Eric Ngan, event organiser extraordinaire, who was instrumental in running the event!


Spring time is DIY time

Another spring, another DIY project. This year it's the back deck that needs a bit of tidy.

The highlight for me, apart from a nicer looking deck, is the fun the kids get out of it. They all get involved, trying their hand at drilling, hammering and chiseling.

When they get bored with that, they make huts with the left over timber and even this makeshift seesaw from a plank placed over a saw horse. I'd go as far as to say it's currently the favourite 'toy' in the house. 


Escargo is the go at Torchon French Creperie

Is it a little strange to find yourself in a French restaurant the same day the All Blacks thoroughly trounce France in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final?

Well, it is only a game after all, and these guys do great galettes – made from buckwheat of course – ideal for our coeliac daughter.

Louis, 8 decided escargo was the go, and surprisingly ate them all! (I think mainly to gross out his two big sisters).

Thierry Dusautoir would approve I'm sure.


New bus lanes for Nelson Street

I'm pleased to say the incessant jack hammering outside the office window has
finished, they make excellent sketch subjects though.

Mário at Vultures Lane

Nice to catch-up with Lyttelton's Mário Luz who was in town (very) briefly the other day.
Just enough time for a couple of pints and a sketch.


Curves to soothe your commute

You may not have spotted it yet as you zoom through spaghetti junction by car, but the old Nelson Street motorway off ramp is being converted into a cycleway.

The Nelson Street Cycleway will connect the existing cycle lanes to the city, linking the Grafton Gully Cycleway and the Northwestern Cycleway via a curvaceous steel ramp that is currently being lifted into place from Canada Street. If your cycle commute is from out west then this connection will slash minutes off your ride, not to mention take the pain and danger out of negotiating traffic around Upper Queen, Pitt Street and Karangahape Roads.

Looking forward to taking a spin over it in December!


64 College Hill, St Marys Bay

This place is a College Hill classic. Situated just below the Cavalier, it seems to have been painted in this fetching shade of pale pink for ever and with that distinctive towering phoenix palm (that surely must have been planted back when the house was built over 100 years ago) it really makes a statement. Clearly a flat, the front verandah is decked out with big comfortable couches, and all looking a bit tatty, but boy is it more interesting than some of the newer developments on the same strip.