Reflections and revelations

We’ve been doing this yoga teaching thang for 9 days now and the learnings are coming thick and fast.

Physically, I’ve had a lot of pointers on how to improve my own asana practice (yoga poses). It turns out I’ve been standing sub-optimally for years. I vaguely recall previous yoga teachers asking the class to “microbend the limbs to unlock the joints” in down dog but I never clicked what that actually meant in practice, or that the advice applied to me personally.

Until our teacher Aeven showed me that I unconsciously lock my knees and elbows – it affects how I stand and it affects my yoga practice by weakening the core and causing strain where there doesn’t need to be strain.

  • Lesson one: listening is different to understanding. I never ‘got’ what a microbend or external joint rotation was til this week, despite hearing yoga teachers refer to these movements for years. So us teachers need to be careful with our wording, or students can get lost in meaningless jargon.
  • Lesson two: awareness is the first step towards change. I spent the past week adjusting my standing posture and easing into asana, ensuring I’m not locking my joints anymore. I already feel stronger, leaner and less achey in my lower back. Our students, however, may choose not to act on things once they are aware of them. That’s ok too. All we can do is shift the awareness and the rest is up to the individual.

We’re not here to do yoga, although we do a lot of it. About 3 hours a day, on average, but that’s beside the point 😉 We’re here to learn how to teach yoga. Important distinction.

  • Lesson three: you don’t need to be a super-bendy-pretzel person who can contort into headstands to be a yoga teacher. Guiding students through an asana is a totally different skillset to guiding yourself through an asana. Sure, if you can do the whizzbang amazing headstand you’ll impress some folks. But it’s only one part of the whole picture.

Yoga is for everyone. Yoga is breath. Yoga is connection of mind, body and spirit. I could fill an entire blog post with these concepts but will save that thought for now…

We all have different​ bodies and every day those bodies move and think differently. Flexibility in every possible sense is so important to yoga. As is being open-minded – being prepared to try new things that may seem bonkers or scary.

How you respond to the challenges on your mat reflects how you respond to the challenges of your life. Worth thinking about next time you can’t get into a pose – does the ego come out to play, bringing its buddies anger or shame? Maybe you laugh and try again. Or listen to your body in the moment and breathe, accept, and move on. Every day, every moment is different.

We are all grateful to be learning this stuff – it’s a lot to take in but will help us be more effective when guiding our own students! I’m getting excited to come back into “the real world” and start putting this all into practice.

Wellington friends, if you’d like some free yoga classes (Level 1, suitable for beginners) between now and end of July, sing out! I will need students to get my hours up over the next six weeks so I can complete the last component of my 200 hour registered yoga teacher qualification 🙂

What really happens at ‘yoga camp’

Following my previous post about starting my yoga teacher training  journey, here’s a snapshot of what I’m actually doing.

I’ve spent the past 8 weeks doing self-study in preparation for this 14-day immersion in Pohara Beach, Golden Bay.

While no two days are the same, here’s a flavour of a typical day here 🙂

  • 6:30am-8am yoga practice
  • 8:00 -9:30am breakfast and study time
  • 9:30am-1:00pm lessons, teaching practice, discussions on juicy stuff like meditation, philosophy/history of yoga, anatomy studies etc
  • 1:00-3:00 lunch, study time, prep – this is where we either have our introvert alone time in the sauna or spa (on rainy days) or go for beach walks or shopping trips to Takaka together 🙂
  • 3:00-5:30pm lessons, teaching practice – we teach each other and get feedback on how we can improve our instructions, assists, voice, timings, presence etc
  • 5:30-6:30pm dinner break: we eat a delicious vegan meal together outside, rugged up against the elements and under a tarp if it’s raining
  • 6:30-8:30 evening lectures or sometimes fun stuff like singalongs, brainstorming, watching educational yoga films etc
  • 8:30pm til 8am is “quiet time” aka introvert heaven.

The days are quite long and there’s a lot of information to process, which can be hard – as you would expect when absorbing a new topic. I am not complaining though: we are so lucky to be here. A 14-day immersion, while intense, is far easier to fit around work and family commitments than other teacher training options in NZ and abroad.

This Golden Bay course was also a cheaper, simpler option than other studios in Wellington who require their students to go to Bali for three weeks or Australia for a month.

Every day here I’m reminded I made the right choice for me. And it feels good.

Tonight was our eighth day here and we all started to lose the plot a bit after a full day of anatomy training plus too much chocolate late at night. This evening I ‘romanced’ Norm the skeleton (named thus as he is anatomically “normal”) and a few of us wound up cry-laughing and snort-cackling over a tiny ridiculous dog in the yoga movie “Why We Breathe” so it’s fair to say we’re cracking up a bit. In a fun way.

When we aren’t cracking up I also absolutely love the enforced quiet time. As fond as I am of my fellow yogis (who are utter darlings and I adore), I need alone time to recharge. We’re encouraged to not speak to each other between 8:30pm-8am unless necessary and to be honest it’s a revelation. I feel such a relief to have no need for the polite-but-pointless small talk people often use to fill awkward silences when living in close quarters with others.

We have so much to process and so much to do that moving silently around each other is utterly refreshing.

Each evening we retreat into ourselves and move cosily and silently around our shared cabins together. Pottering with books, hot water bottles, pots and pots of tea and our study books as we listen to weka and pukeko calls in the darkness.


The yoga diaries: episode 1


Right now I’m 4 days deep into a yoga teacher training immersion retreat in Pohara Beach, Takaka. I’m feeling equal parts strong, vulnerable, balanced, off kilter, nourished, confused and inspired. A fertile breeding ground for creativity, some might say!

But let’s rewind a bit. I want to acknowledge why I’m here in the first place. I’ve been working in corporate communications for a decade now. Writing, editing and connecting with people has brought me joy for as long as I can remember.

It’s also hard work, and it requires a certain level of inspiration and passion to keep delivering quality work. And when you start to lose a bit of your mojo with said hard work, sometimes you need to take a step back, find something else that interests you and go follow that for a bit until your inspiration returns.

I’ve been practicing yoga for 10 years now – I discovered it in 2007 as a naive, wide eyed graduate working in New Zealand Post’s marketing and communications team. A girl I worked with was a teacher and invited me to her class. The rest is history.

Yoga has changed my life in many ways that I’ll explore in other posts.

Throughout my corporate career I’ve also grown and changed in ways I never could have predicted. But there has always been this little voice in my head that likes to remind me I’m a dreamy sappy hippy at heart, and to not stray too far from that.

Becoming a qualified yoga teacher has been on my bucket list for years, and I’m not getting any younger, so I spoke to my boss and she supported me in taking most of my 2017 annual leave to complete my yoga teacher training. Legend.

This isn’t about quitting what I’m doing now and running away to be a hippy, although that does sound fun… For me this decision was about having options for the future and having a side hustle that keeps me fit, happy and strong. Plus I’ll get to share yoga with any friends and family who want to give it a go – how cool is that?

So that’s the back story. More to come over the following days.

The ‘sweetest’ spots in Wellington

We’ve sampled many a curry, cocktail, craft beer and dessert while we’ve been immersing ourselves into the Wellingtonian culture but this post is all about the sweeter things in life.

First up: Louis Sargeant. Oh my, this place is The Best. My boss took our team here for a treat and it knocked my socks off. This delightful orb of a pudding was called ‘Glamour’. It was a concoction of violet and blackcurrant jelly and white chocolate wrapped around a delightfully light and fluffy mousse centre. Garnished with unicorn dust (aka silver foil), Like A Boss. I likes me some silver foil.
At any rate it was in the heavenly patisserie counter at the front of the restaurant – also filled with delectable-looking tarts, éclairs, croissants and other wildly distracting treats. Just go there. Right now.

Louie SargeantThe verdict: 4.5/5 for taste, Frenchness and overall awesomeness.

The place: Louis Sargeant, 146 Featherston Street, Wellington.

The budget: Something for everyone. You could spend $10 on a cake to takeaway. Or a lot more.


Next up: Hippopotamus

I took my mum here for a special girly high tea outing and she was well impressed, innit. Arguably more so since it won the global High Tea Challenge today, a mere week after we went. We had the pleasure of sharing our high tea with other literary aficionados, as the high tea was a fundraiser for the Katherine Mansfield House & Garden (go there, it’s great!).

We enjoyed champagne, almond tea, crab mousse in adorable wee jam-jars, spoonfuls of a hazelnut mousse, beautifully clean-cut sandwiches and a mouthwatering assortment of choux pastries, hand-crafted chocolates and classic fruit tarts. Plus a macaron to finish, naturally. It was a beautiful afternoon with impeccable service, perfectly balanced flavours and general good cheer.

My mum was just delighted by the whole experience, so I’d definitely recommend it for a special occasion. I’m disappointed that my photo doesn’t really do the feast justice. I was so excited to eat everything that I wasn’t focusing my camera properly. Whoops.

Hippopotamus High tea


The verdict: 5/5 for taste, ambience and overall experience.

The place: Hippopotamus, 90 Cable Street (in the Design Hotel),  Wellington.

The budget: On the pricier side – best for a special occasion!

Artisan marshmallows and cheesecake? yes please Loretta!

So my ‘London expat’ blog has been reincarnated as a ‘Kiwi repatriation’ blog: I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front while we got settled back into Godzone but the good news is that Wellington is a foodie heaven!

I mean, the Welly Walks app even has a food trail. Talk about drool-tastic.

Anyhow. It was a cold winter’s night and we just wanted cheesecake. Easier said than done: my boyfriend and I spent a good 20 minutes browsing online menus of all the Wellington establishments we could think to Google. It turns out most places do dessert but very few openly serve cheesecake.

Which prompted this sad little Tweet into the void (I’m only sharing so you can enjoy the embarrassment of my 1 lonely retweet):


With radio silence on the Twittersphere we decided to walk the length of Cuba Street in search of cheesecake.
First stop: Fidel’s. We love Fidel’s. They were serving cheesecake, but on closer inspection they only had one slightly dry looking piece of baked cheesecake. Unconvinced, we pushed on, wondering if we would regret that call later.

Next up: Laundry. No luck.

Then Ombra: they had a strawberry cheesecake listed but that wasn’t enticing us enough so we continued.

Logan Brown would have been lovely but we weren’t dressed for the occasion.

Then we hit Loretta, a place we have had many a fine brunch at. My brain stopped functioning once I spied a double chocolate cheesecake (blending both white and dark chocolate) and handmade passionfruit marshmallows on the menu.

Yeeeeeeharrr!! We were in business and took a window seat immediately.

The cheesecake was delicious, albeit a bit too big (even between us we couldn’t finish it which is saying something). The marshmallows were the standout performer though. Delightfully fluffy but holding their square shape, they had a delicate hint of passionfruit that had me coming back for more. The hot chocolates were pretty damn good too.


The verdict: Loretta, we will be back. Your weekend eggs are amazeballs and your dessert game is on par too. Oh and the decor is super funky so we felt very trendy 😉
181 Cuba Street, Wellington.

The end of an era



There’s been a distinct lack of posts on here lately and for that I’ll apologise: life got very busy, very quickly and I’m no longer living in London! My ‘big OE’ is almost over but fortunately there are plenty more travel adventures to be had before I’ll anchor myself on New Zealand’s shores once more.

While leaving London was always on the cards, Russ and I left London in what felt like a bit of a hurry. So it’s been several turbulent months of wonderfulness, craziness, love, laughter, exhaustion and tears. I suspect I’ll mostly remember the good bits – but that’s not to downplay the stress involved with finishing up at work, moving out of our flat, shipping stuff home and booking a few flights through Europe and Asia before we resurface in Aotearoa in a few weeks.

Which is what’s happening right now: we’re in the Europe leg of our long journey homewards, and I’m writing this post on a train from Gdansk to Krakow. We’re 2 hours into a 9-hour train ride so now’s as good a time as any to catch up on things. So that’s pretty exciting. I’m loving the freedom of travelling. Although it hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m unemployed and that this is it for the next few weeks…right now everything just feels like a holiday. And although I know we won’t be going back to London, part of me calls that place home and can’t quite believe that we won’t be back there anytime soon.

The good thing is that before we left London, Russ and I managed to cram in some amazing ‘bucket list’ type experiences that I’m going to blog about retrospectively, whenever we have a free moment in our travels. These experiences were way too fun not to share – but as I’m talking about things that happened back in June, July and August, the timing of the next few posts might feel a wee bit out of whack.

So the blogging is back on – and if you also want to follow our worldly adventures over the next couple of weeks, Russ and I have made a joint travel blog (awww, ain’t nerd love so cute?) which you can check out here: I’ll keep posting my personal ramblings here, as the travel blog isn’t that well suited to my introspective essay-length posts 😉
But I’ll share links to anything fun we post from our adventures.

And in the meantime you should totally check out my girl Claire’s amazing article for, where she reflects on what it’s like coming home after the Big OE. I read this story intently a) because she’s one of my dearest friends and she was my rock for the first 2 years of London living and b) because the girl can fucking write and she deserves massive kudos for this article! It made me happy and sad at the same time, which I suspect is how it’ll feel adjusting to the Kiwi pace of life. Transitioning into London-living wasn’t easy so I expect transitioning back the other way will be a struggle too – but one I’m finally ready for.

More posts to come…

London is…

View from the Shard

I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in London, now that I’ve lived here for over four years.  And it got me thinking: how could I possibly begin to describe the wonderful roller-coaster that is the expat experience?

Here’s a starter for ten, at any rate. To me, living in London is…

  • Busy and lonely all at the same time
  • Equal parts filthy and elegant
  • It’s dancing in the middle of the road with a kebab in hand
  • Making friends on the night bus…
  • …and convincing 10 strangers on said night bus to play charades with you
  • Not having time to read that magazine you bought a month ago intending to have some ‘down time’ to read it
  • Crying on the tube about some boy who wasn’t even worth it…
  • …and not even giving a shit what the other passengers think as you snotball into your tissues
  • Then remembering that moment, fondly, years later
  • It’s fine dining and swanky bars
  • Followed by dirty chicken at 2am
  • It’s underground nightclub raves
  • It’s breathtaking art right on your doorstep
  • It’s illegal art-squat-parties-in-abandoned-office-blocks (sponsored by that dodgy cider brand you can’t recall)
  • There’s creativity beyond anything you’ve ever seen
  • There’s all those amazing weekend jaunts to Europe
  • Landing in Gatwick at 730am on a Monday and rocking up to work fresh from an Amsterdam bender, suitcase in hand
  • Trips to the countryside
  • The dodgy shingle beaches
  • The cream teas, cottage pies, eton messes, and many a full English – mmm
  • The many Be At One cocktail bars, dangerously close at all times
  • The realising you’ve tried most of the cocktails on the Be At One list, mostly due to their 2-4-1 offer
  • It’s rudeness beyond anything you’ve ever seen
  • And kindness that exceeds all expectations
  • Constant, exhausting, exhilarating change
  • Where you’ll learn to hate and then love the NHS
  • Where you’ll meet the most interesting people with the most interesting jobs
  • Where you’ll realise that what you thought you wanted maybe wasn’t what you wanted after all
  • It’s a place where someone always wants something from you: be it your money, your time or your ass
  • It’s de-humanising and re-humanising at the same time
  • It’s the fizzing, gleeful delight when summer rolls around and you can picnic in Hyde Park again
  • It’s the simple joy of lazy afternoons in London Fields, followed by insane nights out at The Dolphin on Mare Street – if you’ve never seen a lady swing a bar stool wildly over her head, you haven’t lived
  • It’s buying your entire summer wardrobe in Primark for £60
  • It’s an endless, always-changing cycle of wonderful new friends  and colleagues
  • Plus the solid crew who’ll always have your back
  • It’s nights on the sofa watching back-to-back episodes of Orange Is The New Black because you can’t afford to go out
  • It’s rice-and-bisto for dinner when you really can’t afford to go out
  • It’s champagne and oysters when you can
  • And on the topic of oysters. If the world’s your oyster then surely  London’s the pearl
  • She’ll win you over whether you want her to or not
  • And she’s definitely a lady. A crafty, bonkers, wonderful, brutal lady
  • She’s your boss
  • She’ll make you her bitch
  • And then one day you’ll fight back like you never fought before
  • You’ll win her respect
  • You’ll win your own respect
  • And everything gets a little easier
  • Because, when it all comes down to it, London is life


Comedy review: The Dark Room with John Robertson

You awake to find yourself in a Dark Room. You have four options:

1) Try to find the light switch

2) Go North

3) Weep

4) Wonder how you found yourself participating in a live-action-video game on a Tuesday night. Then knock back your free mojito and throw yourself head-first into the game.

Isn’t life wonderful? There really is something for everyone when you live in London. When a friend invited me to my favourite cocktail chain to see comedian John Robertson’s live-action-video game The Dark Room on Tuesday, and that the £10 ticket fee included a free mojito, I thought ‘ooh, this sounds different’.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Those of you who remember text-based-adventure-games from the 80’s and 90’s will be all over this like a rash. Remember those DOS-based games where you, the player, were faced with a decision at every ‘level’? Those really basic games where a typo could ruin your move and a cruel logic ruled the world? I’m thinking Hugo’s House of Horrors, Leisure Suit Larry and the like. The games were absolutely maddening, sending you round and round in circles, ‘stuck’ at certain points because of a flaw in your decision 3 levels back. Or whatever, I don’t care, I’m definitely not getting wound up by flashbacks of early-morning-Monkey-Island-induced-rage as a tween.

Well imagine that same set-up. In real life. In a bar. Sitting on a bar stool. Battling against other ‘players’ for creepy prizes specially chosen by your host for the evening, comedian John Robertson.

Robertson’s show takes place in, well, a Dark Room. He dims the lights and roars instructions, abuse and flattery at his ‘players’ as we take it in turns to try, and fail miserably, to beat the game. The aim of the show is to get out of the room, step by step. And I’ll be damned if we could even find the light switch. We gave it a really good crack and Robertson is an amazing games-master. He psychoanalysed and belittled each player’s decisions, with just the right balance of contempt and admiration at how appallingly bad we were.

Apparently only a handful of people have beaten the game in the time Robertson’s been running this show. I can see why. It’s a challenge worth trying though, and I’d happily play again.

WANT TO PLAY TOO? You’re in luck! John Robertson will be performing The Dark Room at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He’ll also be performing it twice a week in June at Be At One’s Wimpole St and Smithfield branches.

The girl’s guide to glamping in Essex

If you’re reading this, you’re obviously reem. Because what’s more amaze than glamping in Essex, TOWIE styles??!

After a stressful few months, the girls and I decided we needed to escape London and head out to the countryside for a weekend. We didn’t want to go far, because a long drive would reduce the amount of wine drinking relaxing we could fit into two days. We agreed that ‘glamping’ was a more affordable option than staying in a hotel or motel, and suddenly Essex was the obvious choice: it’s pretty, it’s nearby, and everyone would be well jel. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

So here’s my guide on how to have an amazing girlie glamping trip, Essex styles:

1) Book the CargoPod at Lee Wick Farm, St Osyth: Who wouldn’t want to stay in a converted shipping container? It’s new, clean, dry, compact, affordable and oh-so-cute. Plus it has a massive deck (watch how you say that with a Kiwi accent) with a coal BBQ and a fire-pit, perfect for toasting marshmallows on. We squeed with delight on arrival and were still raving about how lovely it was when we left. And if you can’t hire the CargoPod, they’ve got 3 other Glamping Pods which looked super-cute too. Price: between £50/75 night, each pod sleeps 4

2) Road-trip it: Originally we’d planned to get the train to Essex, but I’m so glad we hired a car. It meant we could have all sorts of adventures on a whim. On the Saturday we explored Mersea Island and goddamn, it was adorable. We drove towards East Mersea, stopped off at the Farm Shop, patted the alpacas and bought some preserves. We headed to West Mersea with the intention of a nice long beach walk, but were poorly dressed for the wind so migrated indoors for a delicious late breakfast fry-up at The Art Cafe – bliss! Word of caution though: we made it out before the tide submerged the bridge, but you could potentially get stranded on Mersea if you’re not careful. There are worse places to be stranded though 🙂 Then on the Sunday we meandered through St Osyth (such a beautiful village) and drove to Clacton-On-Sea for a quick nosey before heading back to London.

3) Bring accessories and amusements: Whatever floats your boat, but for us this meant gin, prosecco, pink sparkly paper tiaras and a packet of cards. When you’re out of cellphone range, these things are important. Lounging on the deck sipping endless cups of tea has its own appeal, but accessories and games keep it entertaining at 3am when it’s too cold to go outside, even in your sleeping bag.

4) Harness your cavewoman skills: Our fire-building skills were shite at first. It had been awhile, and by the time we thought to light the fire-pit we were 2 bottles of prosecco down and our efforts extended as far as ‘tipping some coals in the pit and chucking a match on top of them.’ Needless to say, the fire didn’t catch. But we were lucky – much later in the evening one of the girls peered out the window and noticed the fire pit was glowing away happily, so we got there eventually (either that or the Fire Fairies helped us out) and we were able to toast marshmallows – winning! The following evening we allowed extra time for the coals to catch and were able to BBQ some sausies and veggie skewers for dinner #nomnomnom

5) Eat yourself happy: The weekend was pretty much one long meal, and I’m not even ashamed of it. I’m talking obligatory ‘car snacks’ on the drive to Essex, a curryhouse dinner when we got to St Osyth, 3am toasted marshmallows, cake and tea for breakfast on the Saturday (obvs), a second breakfast at the Art Cafe, a ‘lunch’ of chips and dip and cupcakes, pre-pre-dinner pistachios, a pre-dinner cheese board,  BBQ actual dinner, marshmallows and a second go at the cheese board around midnight. All this supplemented by many, many cups of tea and a healthy serving of vino. BLISS.

And that’s it – the 5 steps to hosting a girl’s glamping weekend in Essex! I might see you there… I’m already planning my next trip…

How to: have a cheese-only dinner in London

I like to eat. I like to eat cheese. I like to eat lots of cheese. And sometimes, that’s all I want for dinner. You got a problem with that? Sorry, I get a bit crazy sometimes: “J’adore le fromage!”

So when my boyfriend and I wanted to treat ourselves to a different kind of date night, I emailed Vivat Bacchus in London Bridge with a proposition. I’d heard about their famous ‘cheese room experience’ but I feared it was more of an ‘after-dinner’ or ‘pre-dinner’ kinda thing: or even worse, that they might let us select some cheeses to take away but that would mean WAITING TIL WE GOT HOME TO EAT ALL OF THE CHEESE. Outrageous.

Clearly I needed to clear a few things up before we ventured there, because we didn’t want dinner. We just wanted glorious, stinky cheese.

Thankfully, Vivat Bacchus weren’t fazed by this request at all and we scored a ‘dinner’ reservation for 7.30pm that night. On arrival we were seated in the main restaurant, and ordered a glass each of lovely pinot noir and port to sip on while we waited for the cheese room to become available (it’s in hot demand – only a few of you can go in at once with the special cheese expert).


  • It stinks to high heaven
  • It’s glorious
  • It’s a bit chilly but you’re so busy drooling you won’t notice
  • The cheese expert will ask what you like and give you teeny tiny samples to help you decide which cheeses you’d like on your custom platter. All of them are Good.
  • Each cheese portion costs roughly £5, so we asked for a £25 platter of 5 varieties: a stilton, a stinky, vacherin-like soft cheese, a fruity, wine-infused pecorino, a chevre infused with ash, and a soft, herby, spreadable cheese. I can’t recall the names of any of our cheeses but it was a hella good combination

Once you’ve made your selection, you go back to your table and wait patiently while they build a beautiful, customised platter of nuts, fruit, dips, honeys, bread, crackers and all sorts of goodness carefully selected to enhance the flavours of the cheeses you chose.

And you will nom til your heart’s content.

Successful date night, tick!