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Author: Celine Gibson

A sound summer slumber


We all know there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to make us feel that much better to face the new day ahead, but as our weather starts to warm, we need to cool down our beds, both layer wise and appearance wise.

 

A winterweight duvet in the shade of hot chilli does not soothe a tired soul on a sweltering night. So, here’s the lowdown on keeping your bed stylish and your body temp down low this summer.

LIGHTEN THE LAYERS
If you haven’t already, think about investing in a lighter duvet or comforter of cotton, linen, silk, or any other lightweight fabric. A lightweight bedspread in fresh colours brings an instant breezy summer feel to rooms. Try a classic white, or mix it up with summery sorbets in pale pinks, purples and cornflour blues.

FAVOURITE FIBRES
Keep sheets and blankets in lighter colours too; remember, less heat is absorbed during the day with lighter colours. Layer thinner sheets and blankets to stay cooler or warmer as the temperature changes. The fabric in your sheets makes all the difference and natural options, like linen, cotton, bamboo and silk breathe and both look and feel luxurious.

THROWING SHADE
Matelassé (pronounced “mat-le-SAY”) blankets, coverlets, bedspreads, and pillow shams are the perfect layer of lightweight warmth. Matelassé is made from luxurious fabrics intricately woven on jacquard looms in Portugal and Italy. To avoid waking with cold feet, (we all know what that’s like) drape a lightweight wool throw over the end of your bed to keep them warm.


 

The power of positivity


Sometimes all it takes is a friendly prod to get those projects started that, for some reason, we haven’t quite got around to. Christchurch author and, now, podcaster Rebecca Simons had just such a friend, and thanks to her, Rebecca stopped procrastinating.

 

“My friend kept reminding me I had the knowledge, expertise and skills and it was time I shared my life experiences to a wider audience. After some research on podcasting, I jumped right in and recorded my first show.”

Blind Girl Drunk first aired on January 8 last year, and since then Rebecca has recorded over 70 shows with over 1500 people downloading the programme to date.

Rebecca has Stargardt Macular Dystrophy, an eye disease which causes progressive damage — or degeneration — of the macula, a small area in the centre of the retina that is responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Experts estimate that one in 8-10 thousand people have Stargardt disease.

Stargardt manifested towards the end of Rebecca’s primary school years. Her sight had deteriorated to the point that she could no longer read the blackboard and she had developed night blindness.

Coming to terms with what would be her new normal was no easy thing for a teenager, but never one to be defined by her condition, Rebecca used what good sight remained and embarked on her OE.

On her return, she worked for a government department; she gained her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, majoring in German; and she studied French and Spanish, the latter of which she speaks fluently.

Rebecca says the major driving factor in making Blind Girl Drunk was her desire to be not just a contemporary voice but also an alternative voice for the blind and low vision community.

“I wanted to share how the onset of low vision impacted me from my teen years right through to my experiences today, as a forty-something woman.”

Rebecca says her show is to help educate sighted people on how best to deal with family or friends with blind or low vision, and to keep fellow blind and low vision people on top of things.

“We must keep up with the ever changing technological and practical things happening, so we don’t get lost in it.”

January 2021 sees Rebecca celebrating the first birthday of Blind Girl Drunk, as well as her other podcast The Kiwi English Down Under. Of BGD, she says that in voicing her experiences and validating them, it’s made her more mindful in dealing with everyday life.

“By carrying a cane, I’m representing blind and low vision people, and I’m doing my best to bring a wider understanding to everyone in the community. It’s really all about spreading my truth with a positive mindset!”

Listen to Blind Girl Drunk podcast on Podbean, Apple podcasts and Spotify.


 

Raising the toddlers of the plant world


Also known as “vegetable confetti”, microgreens are the quickest food crop urban gardeners can grow – often as simply as in a container on your kitchen windowsill.

 

Not to be confused with sprouts – germinated seeds that are eaten root, seed and shoot – microgreens are the seedlings of leafy herbs and plants that are harvested less than a month after germination.

The stem, seed leaves and first set of true leaves are all edible.

Common microgreen varieties include amaranth, basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, chervil, coriander, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, parsley, peas, radish, rocket, spinach, and sorrel.

Growing microgreens only requires good light – a well-lit kitchen bench, sunny windowsill or balcony – a suitable shallow container, water and a growing medium.

MIGHTY MICROGREENS:

• Microgreens are a nutrient- dense food that contain digestible vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and are packed with flavour, colour, texture and living enzymes
• Some studies have shown microgreens contain considerably higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than their mature plant counterparts
• Many varieties will regrow and produce several harvests

HOW TO GROW:

  1. Line seed tray with moistened paper. Fill tray with moist growing medium, e.g soil or burlap, about 2 to 3cm deep
  2. Sprinkle seeds over mix, press in lightly
  3. Water by misting with a spray bottle
  4. Place on a drainage tray in warm spot
  5. Water every day as needed, but avoid overwatering!
  6. Cover seeds with clear lid or plastic bag with holes snipped for airflow to encourage germination
  7. Harvest after the first two true leaves emerge from the cotyledon by snipping off at soil level

A gripping affair


Described as a rip-roaring wartime romance with chilling danger unknown to most, The Rigel Affair is the true story of Mattie Blanc and her love for US Navy Diver Charlie Kincaid. Metropol talks to local author L M Hedrick about this epic novel.

 


When did you first become aware of Charlie Kincaid?
When I was a child. The war bought Charlie Kincaid to my mother’s doorstep and the war sent him away. No one understands how situations outside of their control changes peoples’ lives. My mother (Mattie) could never find an answer. She married my father, Syd, and I was their only child. Mattie would pull the box of Charlie’s 30 letters down from the top of a bedroom cabinet and tell me their story like she was crying out to be heard.


What was it about their relationship that moved you to write their story?
Mattie pined for her fiancé, Charlie. It was like two lost souls who had the same story in different worlds and a love that would never die.


Is Mattie still alive?
Sadly, both Mattie and Charlie were long-since deceased when we decided to write The Rigel Affair. It’s a work of fiction, based upon true events. When my husband, Bud, read Charlie’s 30 letters, he said, ‘You must write this story’. So, the project began. This is a story of dedication of one woman and one man whose love transcended the war. It was heartache not only for her but for Charlie – a heartache that spurred his endurance to stay alive and fight the most horrific war in history.


In reading Charlie’s letters, did you begin to see your mother differently?
My mother would show me Charlie’s letters, but never read them to me. Only when Bud saw the letters did we read them. I now have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of my mother’s love for Charlie Kincaid.


What do you hope readers will take from this novel?
Beginning our research, we discovered interesting, exciting events that had never really been properly told. It became a historical feeding frenzy! We hope readers will enjoy the Mattie and Charlie story, but equally important is their historical journey through exciting and true wartime events.


What’s next up for L M Hedrick?
We’re about 50,000 words into The Rigel Affair sequel and I have a crime novel ready for the final edit and formatting.


When did your love affair with writing begin?
From an early age. Being an only child, the world of make-believe filled my senses. When Bud and I decided to write The Rigel Affair, we both attended numerous creative writing classes at Auckland University in order to learn the craft. Bud’s five years in the US Coast Guard after university saw him working three years as Operations Officer on a buoy tender. This tender was 1940’s vintage, so Bud has intimate knowledge and experience to portray life aboard the USS Rigel.


The Rigel Affair is available and in hot demand at Piccadilly Books.


 

Celebrating Couture in Canterbury


Young emerging designer Natasha Senior was 14 when she won the top prize at the 2018 YMCA Walk the Line catwalk, part of New Zealand Fashion Week. Her winning entry of linen top and neoprene trousers is now being showcased alongside garments from established designers, such as Trelise Cooper and Adrienne Whitewood, at Canterbury Museum in its Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now exhibition, which opened Saturday, 22 February and runs to 14 June 2020.

 

Photography: Mara Sommer

 

Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now was developed by the New Zealand Fashion Museum.

Co-curated by Doris de Pont, New Zealand Fashion Museum Director and Fashion Journalist Dan Ahwa, the exhibition looks at how Aotearoa New Zealand’s identity is shaped by our place in the Pacific Ocean (Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa), and celebrates contemporary expression in jewellery, clothing, textile, and body adornment in New Zealand.

Both emerging and established designers are included in the exhibition to explore a range of connecting themes, such as; the adaptation and application of technology, mastery and invention in the use of heritage craft techniques, including stitching and weaving; the applications and evolution of cultural motifs, and the ongoing dialogue between wrapping and structured dressing.

Some of the garments and adornments showcased in the exhibition are streetwear from Bill Urale’s (aka King Kapisi) Overstayer label, a missionary-style dress by Trelise Cooper, a Neil Adcock hei tiki that can dance, Steve Hall’s androgynous dress, and a merino wool wrap that’s reminiscent of a muka kaitaka (flax fibre cloak), created by London-based New Zealand designer Emilia Wickstead, in collaboration with Woolmark in 2019.

Canterbury Museum is the first South Island venue to exhibit Moana Currents. Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright says the exhibition is a terrific showcase for the extraordinary work of Aotearoa New Zealand’s fashion designers and the pride we have in the way Pacific cultures have influenced our Kiwi sense of style.

“What we wear really does reflect who we are as individuals and as a nation. We think this exhibition will be very popular with both our local and international visitors.”

Doris de Pont says she’s thrilled to be bringing the exhibition to Canterbury.

“Moana Currents shows how our history of migration and cultural exchange is visible in what we wear and how we adorn ourselves. Aotearoa New Zealand’s identity has evolved over time as generations of people migrated here. Who we are and how we dress is a reflection of those journeys, both past and present, and an expression of our aspirations and how we want to be seen.”

This three-part project includes the exhibition at Canterbury Museum, as well as an accompanying book and online exhibition found online.


 

Trek in a Trillian


Trillian Trek has been fundraising for New Zealand children for more than a quarter of a century and raised more than $11 million.

 

Known for 26 years as Variety Bash, the charity raises money for disadvantaged children to provide them with the means to secure a better life – be it liberty swings, bikes, mobility projects, insulin pumps, or mentors to encourage them in their life goals.

This year marks Trillian Trek’s 30th anniversary.

The fun begins with its annual non-competitive car rally beginning 15 March at Timaru and continuing on to Dunedin, Invercargill, Wanaka, Hokitika, Picton, Wanganui, ending 21 March at Waireka Resort.

Throughout the journey, Kiwi kids get to meet the trekkers and get up to all kinds of fun, games and madcap mayhem.

In 2017, some Canterbury trekkers formed a team (currently the only Trillian Trek in the South Island) and got their own fire truck, Wai Wakanui, which roughly translates into the ‘Big Water Truck’.

Wai Wakanui will be joined in the 2020 rally by Te Waka Haumi, a stretch Cadillac.

The Canterbury trekkers have been thrilled with the support received from huge-hearted local businesses.

Christchurch policeman, Dougall Struthers, first became involved with Trillian Trek in 2000. “It was sold to me as a week-long party – I lasted three days!”

Dougall said of his first rally that although he returned home feeling exhausted, he also knew that he had found something he wanted to do.

“Sure, we’d have great fun along the way at night functions, but it was the special moments during school visits when you experience the smile from a kid struggling with life, knowing that you’ve helped them, that pulls you back.”

They are kids like Mark Wilson, now 25-years-old, who was born with cerebral palsy and whose parents were told he would never walk or talk.

At 13 months, Mark began an intense therapy programme and, by six years of age, was walking and talking.

It was a Trillian Trek scholarship that saw Mark not only representing New Zealand in the Paralympics Development Squad in athletics and table tennis, but also receiving a mentor who provided ongoing support and encouragement.

“The Trillian Trek family passed no judgement and encouraged me to be myself. I gained more confidence, helping me to overcome the bullying I was experiencing at school.”

Mark graduated from Waikato University with a degree in business management in 2017 and now works for a leading finance company. He loves being an ambassador for Trillian Trek and will be taking part in this year’s rally – his tenth – with his own team and fire truck.

Trillion Trek Event Director, Murray O’Donnell, says the strong partnerships forged with sponsors, such as the New Zealand Air Force, AA, and Bluebridge Ferries, to name but a few, is what keeps Trillian Trek trekking.

Alongside these altruistic sponsors are the amazing 134 volunteers, like Dougall and Mark, who donate one week of their lives every year to help bring joy and hope to our kids.


 

Up your gardening game


As summer fades, garden sheds resound with activity as tools are sharpened, wheelbarrow tyres are pumped, yard carts are laden with gardening implements, seed packets are sorted and gardening gloves are inspected for holes. The dewy mornings and sunny days of autumn make for idyllic weather to connect with the soil and get the garden into the best shape it can be for winter and beyond. We check out how to up your gardening game this season.

 

Firstly, a bit of maintenance and tidying up is required, so bring out the secateurs for a spot of pruning.

Prune away dead or broken branches on woody shrubs and trees but don’t get carried away and prune everything in sight.

Leave plants with seeds and berries to bring interest and colour to the garden, but also for birds and insects to feast on throughout winter.

Mulching helps maintain soil moisture and protects roots over winter, not to mention prevents weeds from poking up where they’re not wanted!

Add 5-8cm of mulch to garden beds while taking care not to pile it against the base of plants.

Start a compost pile of fallen leaves. Over time the leaves decompose into leaf mould – a compost which is a rich source of nutrients.

Flower gardens require the removal of diseased foliage from perennials and shrubs.

Mark where perennials that go dormant through winter are so that they’re easily located in spring.

Now is also the time to plant spring bulbs before the soil gets too cold. To prevent weeds going to seed and overtaking the garden in spring, a thorough weed removal is also timely.

For edible gardens remove anything that has gone to seed, shows signs of disease or has died.

Ensure all roots are removed too. Plant vegetable seedlings of cauliflower, broccoli, beetroot and winter lettuce; as well as herbs like chives, parsley and rosemary.

Note where tomatoes and potatoes grew in order to rotate planting locations next season.

If you’re leaving the vegetable patch bare over winter, take this opportunity to add nutrients to the soil by planting green crops, such as lupin or mustard seed.

This is also the ideal time to plant whatever else delights the gardener’s eye – be it perennials, trees, shrubs, roses, climbers or fruit trees.

To increase the number of feathered friends visiting your autumn garden, entice them with regular feeding to see them through the cold months ahead when food can be scarce.

Attracting birdlife into the garden also encourages them to snack on pesky garden pests such as caterpillars and snails.

A win-win for both birds and the gardener!

British horticulturist, garden designer, craftswoman, photographer, writer and artist, Gertrude Jekyll, may well have had autumn in mind when she made this observation: A garden is a grand teacher.

It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.


 

Living his passion


He recently won the 2019 Best Shorts Awards, award of merit, as Co-Executive Producer on the Emmy-submitted web series Donna on the Go, as well as the Gold Award from Pinnacle Film Awards for Best Director in the same series and there’s likely a swag more to come.

 

In fact, when it comes to films and television, Christchurch stage and screen impresario Craig Hutchison has rubbed shoulders with some of the finest, from Mission Impossible Director J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s mum, Leah Adler, through to the film crew of Downton Abbey; not to mention his being on the judging panel for the Hollywood Shorts Film Festival 2014/15, his 2016 invitation to the Royal Variety Performance and his red carpet appearance at the 2017 Emmys.

But it was Craig’s day-job as Managing Director of Lifelinks, an organisation he took over 25 years ago, that brought him into contact with the dynamic and indefatigable Donna Russo, who he worked with on Donna on the Go, a series designed to raise awareness for people with disabilities.

“Lifelinks provides people with disabilities a tailor-made, whole-life approach to help them attain the best outcomes as far as their values and aspirations,” Craig explains.

When Los Angeles film coach Peggy Lane invited Craig to meet her friend whose disabilities didn’t stop her from living life to the fullest, he didn’t hesitate to book a flight to LA.

At 135cm tall, Donna was born with Turners Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder in which a female is born with only one X chromosome, and now has adult onset FSH Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that slowly robs the muscles of movement.

Donna began dancing at the age of 10 and graduated from Mercyhurst University with a BA in Dance.

Despite dance companies saying she was too short, Donna took on roles of elves (Lord of the Rings), aliens, dolls and monsters in television, film and music videos, and was submitted to the Emmys as Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Series.

Donna on the Go is being released at the Ability Awards in Los Angeles.

On his return, Craig starts rehearsals on the first of three plays by CAS’n’OVA Productions, a theatre company he founded in 2008.

“I love performance. I love working with actors – with people. The face tells everything.”

“You’ve got to live your passion, whatever that may be. If you love it, you’ll thrive. Lose your passion and you’re only half-alive.”


 

Amazing Grace


It was always in his mind to cast an actress as young as possible in the role of Juliet because Shakespeare’s Juliet, of Romeo and Juliet, was a 13-year-old girl. Derek Doddington, Founder and Director of Top Dog Theatre, stands firmly by his ground-breaking decision. “With casting such a young cast, I’ll either fall on my sword or it will be the biggest triumph,” Derek says, with an irrepressible twinkle in his eye.

 


** Metropol has two double passes to give away. To enter, head to our Facebook page and follow the instructions. Competition will be drawn on Tuesday 11 February.**

 

Thirteen-year-old Grace Opie, who plays Juliet in Top Dog’s Summer Shakespeare Festival, confesses she’s a bit obsessed with Shakespeare and has loved Romeo and Juliet “for ages”.

Grace studied the play last year at her school, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery and feels she has come into the show with a pretty good understanding of the story.

“But speaking the lines is very different to reading them and studying the context of the play.”

Grace says the portraying of Romeo and Juliet as the Bard of Avon intended them to be, makes the show feel a lot more realistic, as many of the decisions they make are impulsive and don’t end well.

“It also explains how they fell in love almost immediately and how strong their emotions became that eventually led them to making decisions without much thought.”

Grace has attended Original Scripts Theatre School since the age of six and says she has had great experiences there and with other theatre companies.

Summer Shakespeare is her first experience of outdoor theatre and it’s been a positive one.

“I’ve really enjoyed rehearsing outside at Mona Vale. I’ve loved the process and people, seeing everything come together and working with such an experienced team as Top Dog. Everyone has been really nice and supportive.”

Grace says she loves to perform and would like to explore as many different genres as she can in the future. “But definitely more Shakespeare!”

Romeo is played by 17-year-old Rhys Murdoch and Mercutio by 18-year-old Felix Elliott, completing the teen cast of lead roles that Derek had long envisioned.

“I’ve seen performances where the actress playing Juliet’s obviously too old – I recall one where they gave her a doll to make her look 13!”

Derek has switched the gender of a few characters in the play in order to keep a good balance of male and female actors on stage – hence there’s now a Mother Superior and Benvolia instead of Friar Laurence and Benvolio.

The original music score is composed by Harry Lawrence, and the wardrobe department is under the expert hands of Caitlin Maclennan and Polly Mortimer.

“There’s rich comedy, beautiful live music, singing and dancing, and our costume people have done a brilliant job,” Derek says, “Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate love story. Pack a picnic, bring your deck-chairs, sit back and just enjoy being part of it all.”

Romeo and Juliet is showing from Wednesday 12 February to Saturday 22 February at The Mound Lawn, Mona Vale, 6pm nightly and 2pm Saturday matinees.

For tickets, visit www.topdogtheatre.com (gate sales available).


 

Event of the summer

February always represents plenty of amazing events happening in the city and Cantabrians are gearing up for one of the hottest events of the year – the Lexus Urban Polo, coming to Hagley Park, Saturday 29 February!

 

 

The Colombo is giving its shoppers the ultimate polo experience whereby one lucky winner and three friends receive complimentary tickets to the polo, an outfit worth $400 from any of The Colombo stores, shoes, a facial treatment, a manicure and pedicure, hair and makeup.

As for any special occasion, people love having the opportunity to dress to the nines, but it’s important to make time to fit in some necessary grooming appointments before the big day to ensure you look as fabulous as you feel.

Book ahead in salons such as Pinkies or Embrayce Beauty & MediSpa which offer a Microdermaplaning facial and the Power of Three facial – the latter being a fabulous treatment that includes LED Light Therapy, Laser Skin Rejuvenation and Active Vitamin Infusion with Sonophoresis.

Next step – your polo ensemble! For effortless elegance, tops and trousers from The Collective and Repertoire are of a luxurious drape and look sensational.

Heels and wedges from Andrea Biani will show off those pedicures and nothing beats a statement clutch from Redcurrent.

Annah Stretton does verve and vibrancy like nobody else, while those who prefer the casual but cool approach will find plenty of inspiration at Stencil.

Rendezvous with friends at The Belgian Beer Café Torenhof, head to the Beer Library for your favourite pre-polo tipple or kick back with a coffee from Underground Café Colombo.

Bring your enthusiasm to the game; cheer the players and clap every victory, as fan interaction is encouraged, but do be mindful of the ponies that can be easily spooked by spectator over-exuberance however well meant. Always stay alert for stray balls, mallets and horses.

Whatever occasion is marked on your calendar for February, be it a party, a wedding, a special Valentine’s Day celebration, or the polo, make sure you look your best and stand out from the rest in something stunning from any of the beautiful stores at The Colombo. They look forward to meeting you.