Friday, 9 December 2011

Camper van holiday. Check the small print

see the post at my new blog
if you'd like to keep reading my blog you can subscribe to it at the new website.  Thanks, Jenny

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I nearly died. This is how it felt.

My blog has moved, please see this post at
You can subscribe to my blog on the new website.  I hope I see you over there x

Friday, 25 November 2011

new blog at

my blog has moved to
come and join me over there.  You will be able to subscribe to the blog over there too.
see you over there xx

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Dear Giacomo Puccini

Dear Giacomo
A few years ago living in London my cousin and I went to see the Tosca at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.  We shuffled in amid glances at our scuffed trainers and ripped jeans and found a spot on the floor in the bar to sit and drink our Cokes.  I don't know what your expectations of decorum were in the early 1900s and I apologise if our dress and giggly behaviour didn't quite meet the mark but we felt silly and end of term-ish as we were fish out of water.  I couldn't believe my eyes when we looked through the programme and saw that a boy we went to school with, Toby Stafford-Allen, was in the performance.  I'm sorry to have to tell you that our skittishness continued as I regaled my cousin with stories of snogging Toby Stafford-Allen in the laundry cupboard at a party when I was fifteen.

Sitting in the rather grand seats at the Royal Opera House we dug out 50p for the opera glasses and gazed round at the navy velvet and gold.  Luckily the sense of occasion got to us and we managed to exercise some self restraint, calming down to watch the opera you had scribbled down in your villa in Torre del Lago some hundred years previously.

I have to say, we were both overcome with tears during the gorgeous duet Qual Occhio al mondo.  We walked out at the end wiping our faces and attempted to haul ourselves back from being bathed in a beauty of such magnitude I didn't really know existed before to the reality of 10pm on a Saturday night in London.  My cousin and I have always been very close friends but we felt so much more connected to each other by your music.

A year later my highly adventurous cousin decided to cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End.  A mere 1188 miles or so, she wanted to raise money to fund an upcoming trip to Nepal were she'd live in a village and help set up a school (yes, I know, she is an absolute twinkling star).  She told me that within a day she was crying and complaining about some fictitious ankle injury as the vastness of the task ahead sat like a mammoth monolith in her mind.  She listened to Tosca on her walkman all the way as she cycled.  She arrived in Lands End in, I think, 13 days.  I can't tell you how proud of her I was.  I can feel my heart swelling like a balloon as I tell you.

I spent much of my time in my tiny 1 bedroom flat on Gloucester Road singing at the top of my lungs along with Maria Callas and when the opportunity to see Tosca presented itself again, I jumped at the chance.  I went with a friend and spent the entire time aching with emotion.  My friend told me I had ruined the performance for the man in front, I hadn't noticed but he kept turning round and tutting in annoyance as I hummed along.

This morning I dug out the CD and felt that love and passion steal into my body like smoke.  Thank you, Giacomo Puccini for giving me some of my most cherished memories with my cousin but I really, really just cannot thank you enough for the beauty of Tosca.  I wonder what you had experienced in your life to be able to express such love in that way.

Love Jenny Rudd

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

First day at school

Today lad started school.  He scampered off to his teacher very happily so fingers crossed it's a smooth transition for him.  Change has never bothered him and although he prefers to observe before trying out new things like big slides, swimming and games with children, he has always happily gone to new places: friends' houses, new countries, school and kindergarten.  I felt very proud of him this morning, chatting to his mates in the class and informing his teacher of his weekend activities.  He barely turned round to say goodbye to the husband and I until the last minute when he gave us both a big cuddle and a huge smile.  It's a wonderful, sunny day and I'm so excited for him.  I hope school is as happy a place as it was for me.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Taking clothes off with one arm

I have always been hard wearing on my clothes - like most people I wear the same stuff over and over again.  Jeans and t shirts fall to pieces within 3 or 4 years.  Being able to use only my left arm means that the stress on clothes is quite specific.  My jumpers have little holes just below the label on the back where the threads have worn thin.  This is the place my left hand grabs to yank jumpers over my head.

Shirts and jumpers end up with a patch on the left elbow.  I often steady my hand by resting my elbow on flat surfaces.  The newest area of weakness is on the seam at the back of my knickers.  I had a look through my undies draw this morning and found 4 pairs had suffered the same fate.  The seam has detached itself from the rest of the material.  I thought it was a manufacturing fault until 10 minutes ago.  I stood up from the sofa and my jeans were sagging slightly so I hooked my fingers under the waist band at the small of my back and hitched them up.  This rather unsophisticated and slovenly adjustment was accompanied by the sound of ripping material.  Another pair bites the dust.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Old and young

The children are all in kindy and I have 5 minutes before interviewing a seriously fascinating lady called Judith Bell who wrote a book called I See Red.  She changed her name to Steven Tindall - the owner of a huge company in New Zealand called the Warehouse which sells everything under the sun very cheaply.  She makes all the costumes by hand for a vintage costume catwalk show every two years and looks like a movie star from the 1920's.  Extremely graceful and clever, it will be an interesting way to spend the morning.

Then it'll be back to kindy to pick up the troops plus a friend of lad's who is staying over tonight.  I really love that sharp contrast between the energy created by different people and by the hormones rushing round us at varying stages of our lives.  Little children tend to inspire you to be a bit more interested in simplicity.  "Mummy what's rain?" and "why don't we lay eggs?"

Spending time with someone older than me starts off all sorts of questions in my head.  I especially like the questions which challenge my opinion and start off a completely new chain of thought.

Here's to variety.  What's not to love?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Fuel those removing Rena's fuel from our beach

Clearing up the oil on the beach is a bit tricky with the children and my gammy arm so instead I'm helping Larry's Tea House coordinate the feeding of the masses of determined, cheery volunteers who are generously giving their time to clean up our beach.  If you are handy with an oven glove and a kilo of flour, or even just adept at throwing a bag of apples into your supermarket trolley then this is how you can help.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The worst environmental disaster ever seen in New Zealand and it's right here on our doorstep

One of the many wonderful characteristics of New Zealanders is their love for the planet.  They treat the earth we live on as a beautiful being with a soul all of her own.  I first noticed it overhearing a knowledgeable conversation about the weather and the physics behind its effect on the ocean's swell.  All this went on between two sun kissed teenagers in board shorts as they stared out at the waves, discussing the potential for surfing over the coming days.

A few days ago the container ship Rena struck the Astrolabe reef a few kilometres off our coast.  If you walk to the end of our road and look out at the ocean you can see the ship.  Hundreds of tonnes of toxic oil have been pouring from the ship killing animals and coating our beautiful, beautiful, precious beach.  Watching the devastation unfurl is so awful.  Knowing how New Zealanders feel about the earth it is heartbreaking to see the effect this is having on them.  Locals are on the beach all day scooping oil into bags, desperate to do whatever they can to help.  The oil is sticking on boots and being traipsed all over pavements, through shops and houses.  The nauseating oily fumes have permeated our whole town and its impossible not to well up with tears when you go to the beach and see the black smear stretch for miles.  In the last few hours a large crack has appeared down the side of the ship as it lists in the stormy weather.  Containers have fallen into the ocean.  One leaves a trail of chemicals in its wake as its potentially hazardous contents react with the water.  It looks like the ship may break in two.  This horrifying environmental nightmare is just beginning and its effect will be with us for years.

That love and respect this spiritual nation have for their country will stand them in good staid.  They know how to look after nature and I know they will nurse our little corner of the world back to health with strength and tenderness.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Jurassic festivities

Although we have always thrown birthday parties for the children, they have involved parents, booze and barbeques so end up being more of a family shindig.  Yesterday lad turned 5.  We went for the full blown childfest.  A dinosaur themed party complete with games, face painting, pinata, party food and no parents.  My mum made three fantastic dinosaur outfits.  Lad and twin1 refused to wear theirs.

It was such a joy to watch the children rush madly around, cheering and chasing each other, blowing bubbles and laughing.  They were all so pleased to be together and hugged themselves in delight at the sweets and cakes on offer.  They threw themselves into each game, some with a more developed sense of competition than others but all in good spirits, keen to get as much enjoyment from the festivities as possible.  Glorious.

Goodness knows what kind of chemical reactions went on inside lad's body between the spurts of adrenaline and globs of refined sugar but he slept badly after his party.  Sobbing, wandering round the house and asking to watch TV at 2am he eventually drifted into a restorative sleep.  This morning the three of them are slightly hungover.  I am feeling pretty deflated too.  My parents leave to go back home to the UK tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

No hole too big or too small to emit stuff

The twins both have florid patches of weeping pox all over their perfect little bodies.  Twin1 was in our bed crying and and scratching all night.  The husband slept in twin1's bunk to tend to the equally itchy twin2.  Twin1 insisted on cuddling up close to me which meant poking and jabbing my bad arm to the state where it feels like a shredded flutter of palid, useless flesh held together by its hyper sensitive coating.

My parents have taken them out for a walk, tucked up in their pushchair so I can get some work done.  If my parents weren't a) here and b) as generous as they are, I'm sure my fingernails would be the only things keeping me attached to the crumbling cliff by now.  Since my return from the UK 3 weeks ago the children have lost liquid from orifices and pores in a steady stream of matter not suitable for print.  Their absence from kindy and the mess this stream produces would have sent me over the edge but ma and pa have hosted sleepovers, provided countless park and beach trips for the children and helped keep my house in some kind of order.  Grateful isn't the word.

This weekend lad turns 5.  I had a quick scan down the invitees to see who I need to call and tell of the girls' pox but all the children coming either have chicken pox at the moment or are recovering from it.  Perfect.  Let the games commence.

Monday, 3 October 2011

same, same but different

This morning I crept out of the house at 6am and flew up to Auckland for a meeting.  Mid morning I rang the husband who'd taken a day off work to step in as duty manager.
"Hello darling, how's it going?"
"I don't know what all the fuss is about.  I've hoovered everywhere, am just going to finish folding this washing then I'm off to Tay St to have a boozy lunch with the girls."

I spent a magical couple of hours chatting to the editor of the kind of magazine I'd love to write for.  I saw tulip skirted girls in opaque tights and matt red lipstick march through busy offices with self confidence and furrow browed concentration, neatly stepping round the table football in strappy platforms to grab a coffee.

There was an equally high level of industriousness at home when I got back - the husband cooking tea, twin1 lifting up her t shirt to show the fresh little pox which have popped up on her chest since last night, twin2 swatting twin1 over the head and whooping with laughter and the lad screaming at the girls to be quiet so he could concentrate on cartoons.  Same, same but different.

Friday, 30 September 2011

twat of the week award goes to.......

Since the children were tiny the husband has left for work before 7am, so I do the morning breakfast and get ready routine during the week on my own which I rather enjoy.  For the last month or so he hasn't had to leave the house until 8am.  At first I found it quite annoying - a massive disruption to the little chain of events I have set in stone in order to get them all out of the door for kindy and the housework done before I work.  I have tried to relax my inner uptight witch and not snap at the husband when he does things like dishing out cereals AND toast AND yoghurt AND drinks all in one go thereby increasing both the length of breakfast time and the clear up needed.  We have been eating breakfast as a family every morning and dropping the children off at kindy together.  This little extra hour in the morning is such a great way to start the day.  Starting the day as a unit instead of lots of little factions has had a tremendous effect on our connection as a family and as a couple.

There is a downside though.  The husband was still here this morning when the new phone I ordered online arrived.  I had lost one a couple of days ago and bought a new one, but that one's crap and I don't like the way the buttons work so I bought another, hence the the friendly message he left me on the blackboard.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Scared of the dark

Last year I was keen to move the children into one room and have the other bedroom as a playroom.  The husband was quite opposed to this on the grounds that lad needed some space to get away from the screaming, glitter-ridden world of twin girls.  I pushed for it for a while then in a move which will shock my friends and parents, I decided to just leave it and go with the husband's wishes.

Lad has been struggling to go to bed on his own, pleading for one more story or Daddy to come back in and kiss him goodnight or me to stay in his room with him.  In the night he has been asking to sleep with us or watch TV and we noticed he lies right on the edge of his bed as far away from the wall as possible.  The husband reckons the blame for lad's fear sits firmly in my gene swamp as my fear of the dark is such that I insist on tucking the duvet under my feet so that 'monsters' can't creep in.

In the car yesterday the husband piped up "do you think if lad shared a room with the girls it would help him sleep better at night?"
My calm "hmmm, maybe" covered up inner fireworks.  A few hours, expletives and an allan key later and bunk beds have been erected.  Last night lad hopped into his top bunk happily and I admired the new play room.  Who would have thought that just by keeping my enormous cake hole shut we would avoid an argument and I'd end up with a favourable outcome?  Astonishing.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Cloud

I love a road trip as much as the next man so it was a happy 3 hours on Saturday afternoon which found my Dad and I motoring over the Bombay Hills and into Auckland excited about spending a weekend together where the the focal points were the New Zealand v France game on Saturday night and Fiji v Samoa on Sunday.

We ditched our kit in Mt Eden were we were staying and headed down to the Queen's Wharf on the waterfront, keen to get hyped up for the match and sample the hospitality Auckland had laid on.  On this large stick of concrete jutting out into the harbour we went to The Cloud, a temporary structure where you can watch bands and try delicious tapas sized bites from stalls set up by some of the best restaurants in New Zealand, each accompanied by a wine chosen especially to match.  I chose kingfish ceviche marinated in salt and seaweed which was set off by a vodka, feijoa and pear cocktail, venison and watercress pesto with a spicy pinot noir and seared beef with tamarillo on brioche which brought to life the most fruity little red as I tipped it down.

We left this impressive culinary oasis and headed to Shed 10 to sink Heinekens.  The long hall crisscrossed above us with enormous rolled steel joists and what looked like hundreds and hundreds of ancient railway sleepers.  My Dad told me this was the first building he set foot in when he arrived off the boat with his parents and sister in 1963 to live in New Zealand for 6 years as a teenager. I can't imagine how evocative it must have been for him to stand and drink beer with his daughter and son in law (the husband was up in Auckland watching the rugby with a separate crew) and cast his mind back to being a fresh little 13 year old handing over his passport, ready to start life on the other side of the world.

Warmed by the food and beer we all headed up to Eden Park and watched New Zealand lay to rest the ghosts of the last two World Cups.  The match on Sunday was fantastic.  Is there a friendlier, more relaxed nation than the Fijans?  The big lad behind us shouted words of encouragement to his home country but when they faltered or lost possession he hooted with hilarity and shrugged his shoulders deeper into his Fijian flag.

We had a close shave with the petrol running out on the way home (Daddy said 'I suppose there's no point in asking you not to tell your mother, this'll keep her going for a good 30 years') and, as always when I'm with my pa, brilliant chit chat.  We relived the good old days, drummed up a few businesses sure to rake in millions, told silly stories and laughed.

Next weekend we are off to see England v Scotland.  I'm going to go all out with my supporter's kit.  Feel free to make suggestions.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

My new crush

X Factor America has just become the only thing on our TV on Thursday nights.  The first programme has left me feeling like I've been through an emotional tumble dryer for the following reasons:
1. I cried numerous times at the 'is this dreamer going to be left crushed in the gutter with or will we hear those sweet words "we have just witnessed the birth of a star" from the high waisted, sparkly toothed billionaire' conundrum.
2. Blokes chose to sing women's pop songs (step forward queen Adele).
3. I kept pressing rewind to see the intense, sexual magnet that is LA Reid.  Don't even get me started.

waiting for Hollywood to knock down the door

Quinn from has done a masterful job of filming and editing this little piece of video which is going on my new website (which will be up and running at the end of next week).  Thanks Q xx

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I wonder whether the PM is a tomato sauce or a brown sauce kind of chap?

The Prime Minister is going to be here today.  I could go down and watch him load pasta and tomatoes into a trolley at The Good Food Trading Co but I won't.  If I got the opportunity to talk to him I'd probably cry as I'm feeling quite weepy today.  Coupled with the lake of green snot my head is producing and ramming down my nostrils I'm not sure I'm in the mood to make much small talk and I'd probably make everything about me.  "Hi John Key, how are you?  My son has chicken pox, my twins are crying incessantly and want my attention above all things, my limbs are aching and I can't sleep at night because I can't breathe properly through my bunged up nose and when I do drift off my troubled dreams are pierced by the wailing of twin1 or requests from the lad to change yet more vomit soaked sheets."

Yes, I'm sure the Prime Minister would be fascinated to hear of the minutiae of my life while he ponders the reconstruction of Christchurch and the strength of the New Zealand dollar but I'll spare him the worry and stay at home.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A pox on thee

There is barely a four year old left in our town who hasn't got or hasn't had chicken pox.  The lad proudly showed me the blooms of scabby blotches on his torso a few days ago.  This answered the question of why the husband and I had been changing puke soaked sheets each night last week and begged another:  how do you work when your child is unable to go to childcare?  Luckily my parents are here to help and the lad's best mate has chicken pox too so his mum and I can tag team looking after them as they lift up their t shirts and compete for the title of most pox ridden.  I'm thinking more about the parents who see the telltale spots and have to dress their children in high necked, long sleeved t shirts and trousers and pack them off to school with strict instructions to stay fully clothed regardless of the temperature.  It must be incredibly stressful worrying about your poorly child whilst maintaining a professional, collected air at work.

Monday, 19 September 2011

How can something so beautiful produce something so disgusting?

It's unlikely (depending on how you get your kicks) that before the birth of your first child, you've ever seen faeces in the freshest form possible: as it disengages itself from the manufacturer.  The first time you witness in fascinated horror cables of chicken korma exiting your baby's arsehole and forming neat piles atop your duvet/clean laundry/sheepskin rug/whatever you have left your naked child on, it's all you can do to tear your eyes away to rush for wipes and a plastic bag.

The twins are nearly 3 now and often call me as they perch on the toilet to marvel with them at the wonder of the huge logs they can produce.  I have to say, ambivalent as I am to the sight, I am often impressed that such a beautiful little bottom can produce something which smells so awful.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

a crack on the hindquarters

I just took twin1 for a bike ride on my trike.  As I blew my red cheeks out and puffed, hunched over the handlebars she screamed 'faster, Mummy'.  If she'd had a whip she'd probably have given me a few cracks on the hindquarters.  Two weeks of eating and drinking without any little rascals to chase has settled in lumpy form round my middle so I thought a few bike rides would transform me into Gisele (a girl can dream).

It's very exciting seeing all my chums in NZ again.  Girls are brill.  They always have endless supplies of news and gossip to impart.  The husband is off to Auckland this afternoon to watch Australia v Ireland so I'm looking forward to spending the evening with my mum and the children and watching the kind of crap TV the husband rolls his eyes at.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dorothy hit the nail on the head

Oh my goodness there's nothing quite like being home.  When I got back to NZ a friend said she thought every mother and father should have the opportunity to do just as I did so you can remember what makes you laugh and cry as opposed to a reflection of your partner and childrens' attitudes and emotions.

It's also one of the first occasions I have come back to much worse weather in NZ than in the UK.  It was rather nice though to slumber in my own pit listening to the storm raging outside with my little family all under one roof.  My parents and the husband did a magnificent job of herding our little tribe in my absence.  I'm very lucky to have a family who are happy to rally round so I can spend a week drinking wine, eating food, attending the wedding of the lovely Mrs Nancy Phillips (nee Westcombe) and laughing my bloody arse off for 10 days.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Travelling by train is quite voyeuristic and reveals much of the character of a country.  Patches of verdant allotments surprise at the end of trails of red bricked terrace houses.  Football grounds, storage warehouses, pubs, quarries.  Secret windy roads weave a tunnel through arcs of greenly dark leaves towards crumbled and tilted cottages.  Sudden urban sprawls are studded with church spires, complicated roundabouts spew ribbons of red tail lights onto growling motorways.  Gently bulging hillsides are sprinkled with cows and sheep.  And the trees: God knows how long they’ve been there but they look like the stitches holding together the seams of my beloved, beloved England.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Every mother's dream

London was everything I had been dreaming about since I booked my plane ticket a few months ago.  The flight was a delicious haze of sleep interspersed with food and watching Bridesmaids, The Waitress and Something Borrowed.  As we ploughed through the blue sky over the familiar curve of the Thames I felt wide awake and refreshed.  Within two hours of the wheels touching down in Heathrow I was sitting, freshly showered with the friend whose wedding I have come for, outside Pizza East on the Portobello Road, eating pizza and salad and drinking wine in the shade while we chatted excitedly and watched the achingly hip stroll past.  The last three days have seen dinners and lunches in The Chamberlayne, The Electric Brasserie, The Duke of Clarence (my old local), The Paradise (which included some lung bursting karaoke) as well as lovely meals in friends’ houses surrounded by their little children.  The train I’m on is steaming towards Bristol where my little nephew awaits.  I can’t stop smiling.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The cavalry has arrived

My parents are here.  Hurrah! Immediately the house is calmer as the adult to child ratio has swung to the more comfortable side.  No sooner do my parents arrive however than I pack my bags and jump on a plane.  On Thursday I'm flying to England to go to my best mate's wedding.  The fun-ometer just never stops going up, does it folks?

Monday, 22 August 2011

A cautionary tale about a tidy house

While the husband and lad are away in Wanaka I have spent my time trying to get as much work done as possible and having lots of friends over for evenings of crisp eating and wine drinking.  I interviewed the chap in the pic about him selling his house in Remuera (the Auckland equivalent of Chelsea) and buying a piece of land, raising cows, planting hundreds of fruit trees and building his own house.

I didn't feel like eating crisps for the third night in a row so I had some friends over for dinner.  One of our little gang couldn't make it.  I popped into her shop the next day for a quick debrief.
"Hey, how did it go last night?  Did I miss anything?  Who was there?  What did you talk about?"
I filled her in and tried to make it sound like fun, but not too much fun.
"What did you get up to?" I asked.
"Oh, I was in the shop looking at a  new range until 10pm then I drove home absolutely exhausted.  I jumped in the spa to try and relax a bit before I went to bed."
I was impressed.  Stevie suffers from insomnia and has been trying to introduce an hour or two of calm before bedtime rather than the more inviting 3 glasses of wine and shrieking with friends as an antidote to the stresses of frenetic work.
"Ah well it didn't end up being as relaxing as I had hoped.  It turns out I had left the door of my car wide open and the headlights on.  Remember my neighbour Archie?"
I certainly did.  He and his wife have taken Stevie in for the night on the frequent occasions she had locked herself out and had rescued her on the roadside the previous week when her car had been broken into.  I should imagine he views Stevie with some wonder and not a small amount of eye rolling at her rather chaotic style.
"Mmm, yep, I know Archie."
"Well he could see the car headlights from his house so he came over to see if everything was ok.  He walked through the house, out onto the deck and found me climbing, naked out of the spa.  I screamed and grabbed a towel.  He screamed and quickly turned away."
I giggled.
"He said 'Stevie, what's going on?  Did you know you've been burgled?  Your car's been broken into again and your house has been absolutely ransacked.'  I said 'Erm really?  Gosh what a nightmare, I'll er, get onto it straight away' then I ushered him out with as much dignity as a towel allows and put tidying the house at the top of my list of things to do."

Monday, 8 August 2011

A change is as good as a rest, so they say

The husband and lad flew down to Wanaka today to go skiing.  The twins are asleep and I'm sitting in front of a plate full of cheese, crackers and olives and a bottle of bubbles.  The TV's silent, I have got Lydia Cole on the ipod, the fire on and I have two girlfriends making tracks in my direction.  WELCOME TO GIRLWORLD.

As much as I love being all together as a little family, I am excited for lad and the husband to get some time together in a place dear to the husband's heart.  Equally, I am loving being with my little girls.  I have been looking forward to our week of change.  It will do each of us good and help us to appreciate each other all the more (that's the way I'm having it play out in my mind, anyway).

Friday, 5 August 2011

Interview with surfer Matt Hewitt, twice 2011 Pro Junior Champion

My friend Quinn is a photographer and keen surfer.  He was excited to be doing a photo shoot with Matt Hewitt, a Mt Maunganui local with his eyes on the big surf titles.  Keen to learn more about kiwis and their love of the ocean, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him.  You can follow his success on the Matt Hewitt Facebook page and see the whole photo shoot on the Quinn O'Connell Photography Facebook page. Of course there's also the Jenny Rudd Facebook page.  OK, enough of the Facebook page links.


 Just eighteen months after wobbling to a stand on a surf board for the first time, Matt Hewitt came 3rd in the 2005 ISA World Junior Championships.  All at the age of 15.  Jenny Rudd meets this bright light of New Zealand surfing.

When Matt Hewitt and his family moved to Mt Maunganui, the closest connection he had to surfing was owning a Quiksilver t shirt.  Living in Mt Maunganui changed all that.  Surfing is ingrained into the psyche of New Zealanders and in particular in this small coastal town whose population swells in the summer months to accommodate tousled, blonde surf bums and the trail of sun kissed honeys drifting around after them.
Upon arrival Matt did what any self respecting 14 year old living at the beach in New Zealand would do: he tucked a surfboard under his arm and dashed to the beach after school to go surfing.  Most of the other teenagers had grown up in the waves so Matt had quite a bit of ground to make up which merely serves to make his achievements all the more extraordinary.  In a country famed for its laid back approach Matt is an unusual character.  On representing New Zealand at the 2005 ISA World Junior Champs he said ‘I went there to win.  Some thought that was laughable as I had only been surfing for a year or two and was just 15 years old but that was my attitude.  And I came third.  I was very happy with the result.’  In 2009 he won the New Zealand Open Men’s Championship.  This year he has won not one but two Pro Junior Championships in Australia. 

Determination to succeed is a common thread through conversation.  ‘I only started surfing when my family moved to the Mount and before that was playing rugby, water polo and surf lifesaving.  I still love to go jet skiing, fishing, ride mountain bikes, and would love to race cars. I have been studying the art and science of boxing as cross training.  Surfing takes up most of my time and it’s a challenge that I am dedicating my life to at the moment but I know I could apply the skill set and desire I have for success in surfing to many other fields.  I've got a few other things in life I would like to do, but surfing is definitely my focus right now. You have to set goals and then focus energy and desire towards them.  It helps to have family and community support, a will to win and never quit.’

The winning instinct has been nurtured from a young age.  Matt’s mother is his manager.  A career in marketing has primed Michelle to take care of the ultimate brand: her son.  ‘The home environment has a huge impact on the way children grow up.  We have always recognised that there is a point where life skills overtake the need for educational skills.  Since our children were young we have encouraged them to have a voice, to strive for what they want and believe that anything is possible.  I believe it is a privilege, not a right, to be a parent and equally it is a privilege to have good parents.’

Articulate and earnest, Matt has an understanding of the consequences of his behaviour on the marketability of his brand.  Sponsors must rub their hands in giddy glee when they meet him.  ‘I have a great team at home and abroad keeping an eye on the whole brand issue.  I spend my time training hard and surfing hard to get great photos, movies or results.  You can't micro manage everything in your career, it’s best to step back and let people you believe in take over. I still keep a close eye on it, I just try to be a guiding influence rather than direct it.’

As impressive as team Hewitt’s awareness is of the commercial nature of his opportunities in surfing, it’s not the only motivator.  Michelle says about bringing up her son and daughter ‘It’s important to understand that everything you do has a consequence.  We aren’t perfect but I have taught them to try and make decisions with forethought.  And have fun.  That’s key.’

Photographs Quinn O’Connell
Words Jenny Rudd

Flying with children. Not the most fun thing to do ever. But not the worst either

Ooh, I'm very excited - I wrote a guest blog for Silver Cross, the pram company favoured by the royals.  Check out my bad self at the Silver Cross Blog.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Wednesday you are the new Friday

Every Wednesday morning an angel in Marigolds comes to my house and transforms it into the kind of place you want to spend lots of time in.  As I walk through the door the self assurance of Pledge hits me and it's all I can do to stop myself from dropping to my knees in teary gratitude.  The effect a tidy, clean house has on morale is immeasurable.  Immediately after the gratitude comes panic.  I stretch my arms out in protection over hoovered carpets and gleaming sinks and start screaming. 'Nobody touch anything.  Don't play with any toys, don't eat anything, don't go to the toilet and don't sit anywhere.'

I have devised a system to prolong the joy as long as possible.  When I pick the children up from kindy at lunchtime on a Wednesday we don't go home to have lunch.  Oh no.  If it's not blowing a gale or bitingly cold I take sandwiches down to the beach.  Failing that we'll eat the sandwiches in the car while we look at the windy and cold beach (I have lost count of the number of four year olds who get in my car and blanche at the frankly unhygienic state of its interior but hey, who cares?  At least the house is clean).  I'll happily trawl the three of them round the supermarket and feed them a lunch of whatever they want from little plastic wrapped packages as long as the house is clean.  I try and remember to throw 3 packs of those milkshake as breakfast things into the trolley then the tidiness inches through Thursday morning too.

The irony of my not being in the house to fully benefit from its cleanliness is not lost on me but I don't care.  Wednesdays rule.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Shit parenting volume 4 (or it could be more. I've lost count)

twin 1

At the end of a meeting a colleague asked me how my children were.  Having had my professional hat on for the the last half hour my veneer slipped and I spoke as a mother on the edge.
"I have got no idea why, but the twins just cry so bloody much.  At everything.  As often as they can.  Every morning is a screamfest over getting dressed to go to kindy.  Twin1 steadfastly refuses to wear anything but a tiny little sun dress.  It's 10 degrees outside"
"Pick your battles." My colleague said.  "Don't fight over clothes, just let her wear what she wants.  She probably only makes a fuss with you, I bet she lets the kindy staff put jumpers and trousers on her.  It won't kill her to be cold for a short while."

And so it has been over the last two weeks that I have allowed the tiny little soul to go to kindy with barely a scrap of clothing on.  It's bloody freezing and I ask her if she'd like a jumper but the answer's always the same.  Yesterday I was told that a few parents have expressed concern over her clothes.  The last thing any parent needs is another parent's judgemental crap.  So to all those who give me the 'you're a shit parent' glance when they see twin1 dancing around gaily in her sundress and sparkly shoes while the rain sheets down in icy needles I gather myself to my full height, raise my head snootily in the air, muster as much dignity as possible and shout 'FUCK OFF.'

Monday, 18 July 2011

I like a good dose of variety

In a couple of weeks the husband is taking lad down to Wanaka to go skiing.  Some of his family will be there and there is a big nostalgic pull for him too; when I first clapped eyes on the handsome chap he was living in Wanaka so he's excited about seeing his old friends and introducing his son to them.  Twin1, twin2 and I will stay at home and I'm looking forward to the simplicity of eating baked beans on toast at 5pm with the two of them and devoting some attention (not the screaming, angry mother kind but rather the cuddly, mummy and daughter kind) on each of them.

The husband and I are used to being apart and while I always miss him, I love the change of dynamic brought about by venturing off to do our own things with the children.  I like change.  My brain gets itchy if I stay in the same place for more than a few years.  From birth my family moved house every 1 to 3 years as my dad was posted to different RAF bases around the world.  I always felt very settled and happy.  Home was wherever my mum and dad were.

If you could take a year off and live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Monday, 11 July 2011


Richard Wilson (Wiz)
As a young girl, when I broke my brother's intricately constructed lego space rocket or 'borrowed' 50p from my mum's dressing table to buy sweets, I felt the pit of my stomach roll around like a tiny boat on huge waves  and with it headed onto guilt's well furrowed path.  For children emotions tend to be black and white.  Enter the murky waters of adulthood and guilt doesn't stand alone but gets clever and joins forces.

In December 2000 when Wiz and I crashed head on into another motorbike, he and the other rider died at the scene.  I have some flashes of recollection in my mind like 10 second, chaotic home videos but I can't remember feeling or thinking much over the first couple of days.  I do remember though the start of the guilt.  I was horrified that I hadn't got up and tried to help Wiz.  I felt ashamed at my selfishness that I hadn't even thought about him.  My rational self knows that my brain was in shock and I hadn't made the connection that I had been on a motorbike, that I had been with Wiz or indeed where I was, as well as the more logistical problem of my inability to walk.  It doesn't matter, though.  Guilt, insidious and toxic, had started to weave a nauseous gait through my system and emulsify with hundreds of other emotions, ready to further blacken a sad day or prick a hissing leak into joy.

I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent Wiz's death and as the years passed I began to look at the guilt in a more detached way.  I hope it has made me feel more empathy with others who feel guilty about things over which they have absolutely no control.  Instead of being told 'it isn't your fault he died, you have nothing to feel guilty about' I think I would have preferred someone to say 'I understand why you feel guilty even though it wasn't your fault.'

Please don't think, reading this and my last post that my life is a seething mass of shame and guilt.  On the contrary, I am lucky to have parents who raised me to feel proud of who I am.  I have just been pondering emotions this week and how they shape our behaviour.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Are you there God, it's me Jenny

This evening I am going to the evensong church service as my choir are singing.  Although I'm not a churchgoer I am really looking forward to it.  Singing music written with pure and intense love and devotion is affecting.  I know I will leave all my worries and niggles outside and love the feeling of singing loud and full of happiness.  What a great way to start the week.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Get that fucking stick out of my fucking face

One of my very gentle natured friends told me recently that the one thing sure to ignite a furnace of irritation in her is the phrase 'Oh, so and so's such a good mother'.  Even though it's said out of goodwill there's the ever present whiff of competitive mum about it with its incumbent insinuation that although you are part of the conversation, your lack of 'top mum' verbal rosette is conspicuous in its absence.

So I dedicate this post to any mother who has given in to their screaming child at the supermarket checkout, pouring sweets down their throat 20 minutes before dinnertime just to earn 5 minutes of silence in which to pay for and load your car with shopping only to listen to someone deliver that smug, trump phrase after observing your parenting.

I have sworn at my children on numerous occasions.  I'm not proud of it and pre-motherhood I would have wrinkled my nose in judgement if I heard anyone do it but that has all changed now that I know what small children do to your blood pressure.

I took all three down to the beach to play on a wonderfully old fashioned swing slung up on a tree in a nearby campsite.  As we drove down, I had an Enid Blyton fantasy of photographing them on the swing individually, heads thrown back in ecstatic glee as they sliced tip-toed through the air and laughed with rapturous liberty at the blue sky and cool air whipping round their ears.  Here is twin2 enjoying the swing in a much lower octane fashion and for a much shorter time than the full length Disney feature film I had spooling through my head.
Lad wasn't interested in the swing, he just wanted to climb.

That's ok though, luckily I'm an easy going kind of gal who doesn't mind if my best laid plans of magical photo opportunities are dashed.  No matter.  There's always the beach.  I nag and cajole them to sit next to each other while I take their picture.  Lad has a stick and wants me to draw his name in the sand.

'In a minute, darling, just sit here for a few seconds and say cheese then we'll do some drawing.'  Twin 2 is collecting shells, twin1 is chasing a seagull.  It takes some time to encourage the girls to sit next to their brother and by the time I get round to taking the picture, lad has remounted his name drawing campaign.  Irritated, I swat the thing away and scream at him 'get that fucking stick out of my fucking face.'

I glance up to see a middle aged jogger grimacing in distaste at me and an elderly couple, horrified, holding hands and surveying the scene of my children shivering in the biting wind while their angry mother swears at them and dashes their healthy, wholesome, innocent fun, all in the name of a photo I could have taken after hurrying them back home in a murk of guilt and propping them in front of the TV with a warm Milo.

OK so I didn't exactly slosh heroin through their veins but I might as well have done with the adrenaline of guilt pounding through me.  We all feel the same every time we swear at them/give them tinned spaghetti for the third night in a row/put on the 4th back to back DVD to hear the end of a juicy piece of gossip.

Guilt is an important part of parenting.  It keeps our instincts well lubricated.  I just think its important to be able to throw guilt a well timed eye roll now and then too.  As the Rudd family motto goes - moderation in everything, including moderation.


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