Thoughts: A Weekend in New Plymouth *updated*

Katherine needed to be in New Plymouth for work today so we decided to make a long weekend of it and see what this place has to offer.

I have roots here. My grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived here so I remember as a child being bundled into the Holden Kingswood and coming up from Palmerston North to do the visitations. EVERY holiday (it seemed). The weird thing for me is that I have strong memories of certain places – Pukekura Park, the miniature railway enthusiasts club on Gilbert St, the building where Bennetts (?) Bookshop once inhabited (and I was unjustly accused of shoplifting by an undercover store detective – oh the outrage of a 7 year old boy) and yet I have little or no memory of the waterfront.

I wonder if my parents were just doing the family thing and the idea of taking us kids out and exploring was a bit much? Who knows. I might ask them next time I see them…

Ah the reminiscing.

OK. What was I talking about? That’s right: exploring New Plymouth.

First recommendation. Don’t get a hire car. Catch a taxi into town and then get amongst it all on foot. We would have missed so much if we drove everywhere and we would have developed a much different perspective.

We walked along the Coastal Walkway. We hired bikes and rode along the Coastal Walkway. We found pop-up markets, and farmers markets, and were able to get a good feel for this place. People were/are friendly. You couldn’t walk past someone without a smile or a ‘good morning’. People were chatty.

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We walked from the CBD to Paritutu Rock. We climbed Paritutu Rock. I was determined to do this as I don’t recall having every done it in my youth.

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We were taken by the Len Lye centre at the Govett Brewster gallery. I loved the kinetic sculpture on display as well as the other exhibits. Definitely a must-see.

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We managed to see the last evening of the annual Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park. It was cool seeing what they create and nice to see the locals getting out and about.

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One thing that struck me is that there is a pride here. And a definite style. Many shops had fantastic interior fitouts and the eateries looked great and served up equally great food. We didn’t have one bad experience.

A quick review:

Joe’s Garage – as you’d expect. US diner fare in a cool setting. Good coffee.

The Black Harp – Irish pub. Good food, drink, music and sports on the big screen.

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Peggy Gordons – Irish bar. Same deal. Good food, drink, music and sports on the big screen. This one definitely is one for the locals.

Frederics – Bar. Good food, big craft beer selection. More than one type of gin. Nice vibe.

Kathakali – Southern Indian fare. Great vibe. Authentic flavours. I was really impressed by this restaurant.

Monica’s Eatery – we went here for breakfast on two days. Loved the ambience and the food was good. Excellent coffee too.

Manou’s Café – If we had not been walking we would not have found this place. It’s awesome. Rustic. Nautical. Views of the boat ramp and is right on the water. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in town. It’s right next to a hire company where you can obtain SUPs and Kayaks and go explore.

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Prohibition – I loved this burger joint. Everything about the decor and the food was terrific. It would certainly give the best of Auckland burger makers a run for their money.

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And my favourite? Social Kitchen. This was utterly fantastic. It’s meat. It’s social dining and shared plates. It’s flavours. It’s ambience. It’s great music playing. We had their spiced goat (I’ve not eaten goat before) and it was sublime. I like my food and this restaurant ticked all my boxes. It could even be making a run for my ‘favourite ever place to eat’ trophy. It’s that good.

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We realised early on that New Plymouth eateries are popular, probably because they’re excellent. You need to book. Otherwise you won’t get in to the places you’ve been recommended.

We stayed at the State Hotel. It was really nice. The decor was eclectic and the weird thing was you never really saw anybody unless you happened across the cleaning staff. Its central location was perfect for us. Definitely recommended.

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I have really enjoyed my time in New Plymouth. That’s now two of my childhood towns visited in recent weeks, and quite frankly New Plymouth makes Palmerston North look even worse. I’m now not sure why my parents left here and didn’t return.

New Plymouth has so much to offer, and it was nice seeing that even the youth here are excited about their town.

I haven’t mentioned the housing prices – they’re really good – so if you’re considering getting the hell out of Auckland you could do a lot worse.

Not bad, New Plymouth. Not bad at all.

UPDATE:

All flights out of NPL were cancelled yesterday so we had to stay another night. (terrible, I know!!).

The State Hotel was fully booked so we went to the King and Queen Hotel Suites. This place is magical. From the second we arrived we were transported to relaxation. I am so impressed with its decor, vibe and staffing. All top-grade.

I have no hesitation in recommending this as a quality place to stay.

The hospitality group behind much of the redevelopment and establishment of hotels, bars and restaurants in the West End of New Plymouth need to be acknowledged and applauded. Their investment in this town is invaluable.

 

 

 

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Thoughts: Goals for 2015

I’m a bit shit at setting New Year Resolutions.

I’ve determined that this is because New Year Resolutions involve implementing change in one’s self.

Being a bit older than I was, change is actually hard. And quite frankly, I don’t see anything that I really want to change about myself. I’m quite content for the most part.

A common Resolution: I could resolve to return to the gym. But I know that I get bored in the gym and I’m not that worried about my physical shape. Yes, it would be wise from a health perspective, but so would cutting out wine (Wait, what???) and cooking less interesting meals. Meals which don’t have glorious flavours and dairy and carby goodnesss…

Not going to happen.

Therefore setting Goals it is.

What Goals do I have for 2015?

Looking back at those set last year, I categorised them: Technology, Personal Development, Exercise/Sports, Travel. And I pretty much missed on all. Like I said 2014 was a bit of a shocker. Available funds and  available time were lacking somewhat, and I had to make hard decisions around things to focus on.

Let’s try again.

I’m older, wiser and more experienced so perhaps this year I’ll achieve a few more things that I actually set out to achieve. As opposed to achieving a lot of things that I didn’t intend to, but was forced into by circumstance.

Top of the list: Personal Development:

– Learn a language. I really want to learn Japanese, but Mandarin is probably going to be more useful and certainly I have access to language resource and conversational speakers. Let’s have a crack at that then.

– Continue to Read obsessively. I have a love of knowledge and I’m constantly reading. I need to ensure that I have the time to do this.

– Formal Study. Perhaps do some Management courses? Certainly I’d benefit from this. I’ve learned this year to talk the language of CEO’s and CFO’s from a sales point of view. But it’s been learned by osmosis. Could do better. Perhaps some Writing courses? I have many words and it would be beneficial to learn more of the craft of writing.

Travel:

– I need to get to Cambodia, Laos and/or Thailand. I think I need to put a little $ aside each week and make it happen. It’s important to me to visit countries which challenge and stretch my life experience. I have not done this for a few years and I’m very twitchy.

Sports/Exercise:

– If I’m not going to get back to the gym, I need to get out walking. So let’s set a goal of 1000kms to be walked in 2015. And not kms walked between my home and the local supermarket, despite the fact that you can log at least 2kms walking up and down aisles. ‘Cos that’s cheating innit?

– Snowboarding. My nemesis. I will get to Snowplanet. I will get to Snowplanet. I will get to Snowplanet. And learn to Board. And not break things. Despite my eld.

General:

– Family. I do do a lot with my kids, but I do think I could do more. I need to work on this. (and not use the word ‘do’ that many times in a sentence ever again).

– Be more social. Get out to more events. Invite more people over. These aren’t specific things, more lifestyle aspirations – so I won’t set defined expectations (as one should for a goal).

One good thing I’ve noted is that I’ve left out the acquisition of things as being important. I’ve really made some growth in that area. That being said, there are always nice things that come your way that you simply must have. I do feel a personal responsibility to do my bit to ensure the survival of Apple.

So that’s it. Achievable. Beneficial.

I need to Live and Laugh more.

What Goals do you have?

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Being a Traveler that doesn’t Travel sucks

I have a history of traveling. And at present I’m not.

It’s so frustrating being necessarily frugal and having to weigh up where every dollar goes.

Friends are in Dubai en route to Amsterdam, Ireland then back through Thailand. Friends are off to the US on a new adventure. Friends get sick of Auckland and go sit on an island beach for a while.

I feel stuck.

I feel like a part of me that was released has been caged again.

I don’t like it.

I need to get through this phase of life as quickly as I can. Then I can focus on my destination list.

A few years ago I set a target of visiting a country that challenges me at least once per year. It hasn’t happened in the last three years. I need to get going again.

 

Resolutions vs Goals

I’ve been thinking about what I want to achieve this year. But also what defines a New Years Resolution as opposed to setting personal goals.

I think, for me, a Resolution is more about resolving to effect change in aspects of one’s life whereas a Goal is a specified, achievable, tangible thing that you aspire to do.

As I really don’t feel the need to change aspects of my life, despite the fact I probably should consume less wine, I think for 2014, I’ll set goals. Here’s my thinking, category by category, in no particular order of priority.

Technology:

I’d like to update my trusty iPad. I still have a version 1 model. It has served me well but it’s time.

I’d also like to acquire a decent DSLR camera because I do take photos, and I am getting frustrated with not being able to capture what I’m seeing.

I’d also quite like to obtain a new iMac or MacPro – I want to get back into writing/recording music and a decent spec’d machine will help.

Personal Development:

I definitely want to get off my backside and learn Japanese. I’ve made a broad start in 2013 but it fell by the wayside when time constraints bit. I have the materials needed, I just need to book regular conversational classes.

Study? Not sure. The idea is there, but the reality is that it takes time that I can’t commit to just yet. This requires more research on my part.

It is time I played bass in public again. It’s been years. Easy goal: get my calluses back and head up to the Portland Public House on ‘jam night’.

Reading: one book at least per week. Can be Fiction or non-Fiction. Achievable.

Exercise/Sports:

I need to re-establish my gym regimen. I did quite well for 9 months of 2013 then got distracted by life. I shall set a goal of 3 weight sessions each week, and then add cardio – whether it’s bike or a walk 2x each week. This is of course achievable.

My sporting nemesis is Snowboarding. I have intent to learn – and have had for nearly 5 years. My snowboard and clothing mock me.

Travel:

This is a biggie. I love to travel and haven’t for two years. So, in 2014 I want to travel to 5 overseas destinations. On my list of possibles is Cambodia, Thailand, Cuba, Australia (of course), Pacific Islands (take your pick). I also need to get back to the UK for family reasons, possibly Germany and I’d love to get back to the USA.

I’m sure there are more goals to set. I’m not thinking about house purchasing. I may update my vehicle, but it’s not costing me much to run at present so I may as well hold on to it for now. I’m still processing my Business goals. It should be an interesting year.

What are your goals?