2012 in mobile phone photos

I enjoyed doing this post so much last year, I’m doing it again. 2012 was ‘a bit calmer than 2011, but a bit more exhausting’.

At Mount Maunganui, there's piles of timber people have dragged up from the water every couple hundred meters #rena

At New Year’s at the Mount, there was still Rena debris washing up.

70s era Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet as seen at Tauranga model railway club expo

Thanks to my four year old, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the wacky world of model railways.

There we have it, chips omelette

I did a lot of bad food photography – I’ve left most of it off this post, except for CHIPS OMELETTE! H/T The Kitchen Maid.

Lunch at Euro. Recommended.

Doh! #foodtweet

I baked a lot of bread this year.


I also started blogging as part of the Corporate Lunchbox team – it’s fair to say my contributions have been sporadic so far. These burgers are from Char Grill.


I did enjoy a lovely meal at Depot.

Just hangin' out reading the news and that cc @cateowen

The fantastic @cateowen let me sit in the 3 News chair. In fact, most of the cool shit I did this year is thanks to Cate. Ta ūüôā


I got to be Jeremy Clarkson for a weekend.


And here is THE JUDGE!

#ladsweekend prep coming along nicely

Had yet another v. successful Lads Weekend, at ‘catching fish’ and ‘binge drinking’ levels.

Fish for tea #ladsweekend



Work-wise, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, even though it was another challenging year. Lot of issues, lot of change. I was even on the bloody telly at one point. I’m missing a lot of the folk in this picture.


The Telecom ONE unconference was another raging success, with bonus manly-disregard for safe trailer stacking practise.


My rugby team The Chiefs only went and bloody won the title. I was very happy.



Scenes from last night #aintnopartylikeahamiltonparty

The 40th birthday parties kicked right in.

Retrieved these from someone's paper recyling. Bit weirded out but mostly stoked.

Two childhood flashbacks – I fished these MAD magazine paperpacks from a paper recycling facility because HOW COULD YOU THROW THEM AWAY?!?!, and commandeered the family lego for my kids.

In other Lego news, a bad-ass spaceship.

I got on Instagram, and found it’s useful mainly for taking photos of ‘things’, or close up photos of objects. They could be it Def Leppard tapes or drawings of a man with a toilet for a hat. For proper photos, it’s still Flickr.

I met Hillary Barry. She was lovely and didn’t mind having her photo taken with Mr Arkward arm.

I had a STORMING year, tech-wise.

This photo is the remains of my beloved HTC ONE X – which I smashed, to be replaced (thanks to me bursting into tears in front of our FANTASTIC device team in a most un-manly fashion), with Samsung’s S3, which I also lurve. Both these phones are big, with bright, vivid screens and superb cameras. Fast. You name it. I rely on it / them a lot to get stuff done, whether it’s work, organising our chaotic weekends or just fecking about on the bus.

At home, I obtained an iPad 3 and the Apple TV for home. Will save the in-depth run down for a future post, but yeah, they’re all fantastic.


My wee chap and my wee girl (she’s a bit bigger now). Family is the whole point, team.

Top parenting tip: multiboxes and coaxial cable make great toys for ten month olds


Depot (and Bellota)


On paper, it’s easy to wonder if Al Brown‘s¬†Depot is playing a Keyser Soze-magnitude trick on Auckland. No bookings, crowds to battle, wait for ages to sit outside drinking wine out of a tumbler, before being granted access to sit at the bar and eat upper-mid-range-priced food on sharing plates? Well, we did all the above, and still loved it.

We didn’t show up at Depot until after eight on Saturday night, which is quite possibly the worst time to go, but we gained entry at around half nine. The waiting-so-long-for-a-table blow is softened by Depot’s team – everyone is warm, welcoming and scarily efficient. There’s no mucking about once you’re in, drink and food orders are taken immediately, and dishes arrive magically on time as you finish the one previous. I guess the service HAS to be good – it was still absolutely heaving at almost eleven o’clock, and I can imagine Auckland’s dining public, hyped on Metro reviews and awards can be tricky to manage if things get out of shape.

As for the food – we shared the snapper tortillas (delicate and delicious), lamb ribs (melt in mouth stuff) and the¬†Pork Hock as a main. With a crispy layer on top of some extremely tender meat, along with salsa verde and creamy mash potato, the challenge was to create little spicy, creamy, cracking perfect forkfuls every time. My only criticism of the food was the¬†extremely¬†generous servings of fat on the lamb and the pork, the kind you’d cut off if you were at home, but you wolf down when you’re out, ‘cos it’s a special occasion. There’s no doubt fat is tasty, and Depot is not afraid, to say the least.

We left plenty on the menu to explore (LIKE DESERT!), and we’ll be back, probably targeting a less frantic time of the week. I hear their breakfasts are very good. Depot is fantastic – and probably deserves its supreme award in the Metro. It’s a really different night out and the busyness and buzzyness are infectious. Recommended.

During our wait for a table, we snuck across to Bellotta – and had a great time. It’s a neat room, and two of the little tapas we had were sublime, the cassava chips and the dish with two types of sausages, fava beans and grapes. We’re keen to go back and try some more dishes there too, also recommended.

“I think he’s at lunch”

A new thing – I’m contributing to corporatelunchbox.com, “an open forum for lunch suggestions in and around Auckland city”.

My first post reviews Paneton Bakery: “All rolls and baps are well sized with generous fillings and go for around $6-7, a price that makes non-Aucklanders spit out their roll-up and shout ‚ÄúHOW MUCH?‚ÄĚ, but makes Aucklanders say ‚ÄúMmmm, that‚Äôs pretty reasonable for a roll these days‚ÄĚ.

Look for more coming up, over there. The site is ‘curating’ an Auckland Burger Power Rating chart, I am looking forward to rating some burgers powerfully.

So, this was lunch #foodtweet
The steak at Toto, a god among lunches

PS the Corporate Lunchbox has the best rate card in the business.

Forever blowing bubbles

Leftover pizza dough freezes no worries at all. But in protest, it pops weird bubbles when you thaw it and put it in the oven. Here’s exhibits A and B (click to make bigger):

Pizza bread

Quick pizza.

Because our little family usually can’t eat a whole pizza dough on our own, leftovers usually go in the freezer – I’m going to keep doing it to see if this bubble trend continues (both of these were from the same lot of dough). While bubbles would probably make ‘proper’ pizza fans vomit yeast (much like the pineapple I imagine – hey, the kid likes it), they’re pretty tasty and fun to eat, in fairness.

PS I’ve updated the crap out of my Meals I Have Met Flickr set – go nuts.

2011 in mobile phone photos

There was a lot packed in to 2011. Earthquakes, an election, a world cup. A new baby and family stuff. Work. Here’s a summary in mobile phone photos, an idea I’ve pinched.

Update – here’s even more.

Big ass yacht alert! There is a big ass yacht in the harbor!

Our office moved to Victoria Street, and I’m lucky enough to have this view – I spent a lot of time staring out the window at the bustle of the harbor. It’s beautiful. I’m lucky.

Birthday beer @ Harbourside

A beer in the sun at Tauranga’s Harbourside restaurant on my birthday.

Crisis table in action - note berocca and yesterday's chocolate muffins

This was Telecom’s ‘war room’ table on the 2nd or 3rd day after the 22 February Christchurch earthquake. Work wise, I love crisis communication. The downside, of course, that to experience and develop your crisis comms skills, there has to be a crisis.

I haven’t been to Christchurch for years, and like most people not there, can’t imagine what it’s like to live with aftershock after aftershock – I have the greatest admiration for a mate living there with his young family determined to be part of the rebuild. It’s hard enough having a young family up here in wussy stable-ground Auckland, let alone among seismic uncertainty. For what it’s worth, I hope for a better 2012 for Canterbury.

Havelock North Double Z #mediasensenz

Double Zs while in Hawke’s Bay

Souvenir cc @aklwritersfest

AA Gill

Someone tell me this isn't an EPIC Thomas layout, I frickin' DARE you

Thomas The Tank Engine gave me a new channel to express anal retentivity.

Santa makes a slow, silent and ultimately doomed bid for freedom

My fav street photo I took this year.

Lunch of champions #bacon #foodtweet

I took quite a few photos of what I was eating this year – looking through, it seems to be bacon and bread that I was moved to photograph the most, so this is representative example.

It's in my belly now #pizza #foodtweet

2011 was an excellent year for Pizza.


There was a world cup on – that’s me on the right. Extensive coverage, of course, can be found over at sportreview.net.nz. It was a great year to be a sport blogger.

The wee fella – I don’t like to share much about my kids in public online. Just know I love the crap out of them and my partner. We are very blessed.

This has been the winner on the day. The car, I mean. Ok, and the beer.

The finish line – I’ve never been so ready for a holiday / alcohol.

Getting sociable and sensibile in the Bay

MediaSense is a new¬†social media conference put on by Hal Josephson, a Hawke’s Bay entrepreneur, impresario and top bloke.

For me, this was a fantastic chance to meet folk I don’t normally meet, with people from all around the country attending. The Bay was well represented and I was most impressed with the locals’ friendliness and enthusiasm. These guys have secured interesting and challenging jobs or taken the plunge and started their own businesses in an area notorious for a vibrant food and drink scene. It had me scratching my chin several times about life outside Auckland. Hmmm.¬†Needless to say, we were well looked after¬†eating and drinking-wise, enjoying the hospitality of the Craggy Range and Black Barn vineyards, who hosted the event itself.

I was there as the corporate perspective in the local case studies section, along with  Tim and Matt from Uprise, Jayson Bryant, Tom from Catalyst 90 and Kayla from Mini Monos.

My case study was crisis communication. I told our earthquake story, which has some solid examples of the power of using social networks, and is a neat way to outline our approach in general. I think I got points for being honest(!), and I was pleased to get some  thoughtful anecdotal and online feedback.


I throughly enjoyed the afternoon panel hosted by Nat Torkington and featuring Xero’s¬†Rod Dury, Matthew Miller from Mogul websites and¬†Paul Brislen from TUANZ – local examples almost always give me more takeaways than any other section of an event like this. I was hugely impressed with Matt from Mogul’s common sense approach to social – it’s easy to overthink this stuff. Like Telecom,¬†Xero is a heavy Yammer user, interestingly. I enjoyed Paul’s war stories from his the early days of doing this at Voda – can relate!

A nervous glass of water before speaking, while wishing I’d chosen more¬†irreverent¬†footwear like Jayson and Paul.¬†Photo credit: @gnat.

It was observed that Twitter was roughly 70% of the conversation, but someone did point out you need to look at it in context with all social channels available to achieve your goals, especially the lesser known ones like TradeMe forums, even databases and email! Karen Leland gave her two hot tips for PR in social media as 1. pick up the phone, and 2. go to lunch. I liked that.

Full credit, as they say, to Hal and Odette for putting on a thoroughly valuable and enjoyable event, with some fantastic hospitality and conversations the night before, during and in the bar afterwards РI hope to be involved in some capacity next year. Recommended.

PS I need to mention Tweet2Eat – if you’re in the Bay, you MUST follow for all your food and drink recommendation requirements.

Two things too small for posts of their own

One: I’ve signed up at goodreads.com. My first review is of Donald Sturrock’s Road Dahl bio Storyteller. I recommend it, and wrote a review over there.

Most interesting to me was Dahl’s view of himself as an outsider, never conforming to any individual’s or the literary establishment’s expectations, and the fact that he¬† came to writing later in life. His time as a pilot in the war and as a diplomat in Washington were facinating, and I got the feeling Sturrock could have added more gossip and scandal in this section – I’m intrigued!

Two: I totally made this for dinner last night, taking this fine recipe and adding chickpeas and sausages.
dinner tonight cc @josiecampbell

Pizza notes

I’ve been experimenting, trying to make the best thin base pizza I can at home. I’d heard that Italian pizza is about the crust, not the topping, the same way Italian pasta is about the pasta, not the sauce. I wanted on board. With much trial and error, using me Dad’s basic bread-in-a-breadmaker* recipe:

Bread maker instructions

…I’ve been able to consistently produce a tasty, if slightly doughy-crusted pizza like this:

Testing testing 123

…in our oven at home in about 15 minutes, cranking the heat up as far as it’ll go and using a pizza stone.

What I REALLY want is a thinner, crispier pizza base, Italian / New York style, the kind of thing Tom Ripley would have in Napoli.

So, when I was entertaining at the beach, with access to a BBQ with a hood, it was time to try out my theory that a hooded BBQ would produce enough heat to really get a pizza cranking. I used friend-of-sportreview.net.nz Giovanni Tiso‘s fine pizza recipe¬†to produce four adult size bases, and one for the bambina, using the trusty wine-bottle-as-rolling-pin method.

With hood down and all three burners cranked right up for about ten minutes, we were ready. Using one of those non-stick BBQ / baking sheets to cover the flames, the first couple of bases took five minutes each and were a little charred on the bottom Рbut still came out proper crispy and light. After turning the heat down, the last three came out just fine after six or seven minutes each, if a little under-done on top. A couple of minutes under the grill would have finished the job nicely, but everyone was too hungry for any of that carry-on.

Birthday tea cc @gtiso
I was pleased with the results, and feedback from¬†the diners¬†was encouraging. I’ll try this again, probably using a pizza stone.

Next experiments at home include using the fancy ‘0’ type flour I picked up at Farro’s and the NY Times’ ‘fry it in a frypan and stick it under the grill’ recipe.

* minus the wholemeal

Dining – Q @ The Westin

Sth island wild boar. Channeling my inner obelix.

My main was the Rack of South Island Wild Boar with a roast apple. It was a little bit chewy in places, but nothing to do with how it was cooked, which was beautifully. I got three generous sized ‘racks’ and a bit of pork belly, which didn’t last too long. Birthday Girl went for the Baked Whole Baby Snapper with lime and coriander which, again, was cooked to perfection. Few bones in that one though, as BG pointed out, sometimes it’s easier to get fish with bones in, then at least you can see them to eat around.

Turns out I had room for desert – Warm Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, played straight down the middle and VERY yummy.

It’s a great looking restaurant, and a very nice room to eat in as it’s divided up into lots of half a dozen tables, creating an intimate feeling, even though there were a couple of other large groups in at the same time. We had a great view of the kitchen too. The service was friendly, with great timing. Our fellow diners were a fairly entertaining lot too, we walked in past a couple having a huge row, who it turned out were sitting a couple of tables over. They didn’t let it spoil their night. Just as we were leaving an Australian couple turned up for a late meal about as drunk as you can be without falling over. ‘Don’t pressure me’ said she when the waiter had been back to their table for about the fourth time.¬† He handled them very nicely too.

Recommended. dineout.co.nz reckons the toilets are spectacular too, but we didn’t check them out. Gutted.