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It started off with a facebook invitation to a surprise birthday party in Auckland for my BBFF (Bookcrossing Best Friend Forever), Alkaline-kiwi from a mutual friend and A-K’s partner Earok. After finding somewhere to stay (thanks Satan!) and checking out flights, I figured that’s what savings were for and booked flights to Auckland for the weekend.

Amazingly Jetstar only ran 20 minutes late on my flight there, so after grabbing my luggage, I got on the bus into the city. Totally weird for me, usually when I go to Auckland I get picked up by work; it kind of added to the excitement though! I managed to get off the bus a stop too late, but managed to find Satan (not his real name) and we took the back route to his place so A-K wouldn’t see me (we were very covert!).

When we got to Satans’ house I met Donna and her partner Andrew who were busy getting good ready. Donna had made these amazing blue cupcakes (2 flavours, vanilla with blue icing; and blue velvet) which were both delicious and looked awesome!

We hung out for a while, and figured out a brilliant plan for when A-K and Earok arrived. We decided that Satan would turn his playstation on and pretend he was home alone, then when they came up the stairs he’d turn it off so we knew when to yell surprise. After some debate on whether or not to also yell ‘Happy Birthday’ we agreed we would. We even rehearsed!

When Earok rang Satan to let him know they were coming over (something about them coming over for A-K to open her gifts) we all hid behind the kitchen counter and up the second set of stairs. I know my heart was beating like crazy with excitement by then!

Satan answered the door when they rang the bell and somehow managed to beat them up the stairs 5 seconds too fast! Then he forgot to check that they were right behind him and muted the playstation too early! Luckily there was a bit of delay before we all yelled, but they still weren’t up the stairs when we jumped out!

Here’s the video anywhere (I should warn you there’s a little bit of swearing from A-K!)

It was such an awesome party, and I had such a good time! Totally worth the cost of the tickets (and somehow Jetstar were only 20 minutes late on the way back too, it’s a modern day miracle :p)

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I’m not sure if I’ve written about one of my favourite things to do, Markeroni. Markeroni involves going to historic places and markers, taking a photo, and then ‘snarfing’ or logging them back on the website.

I love it because it gives me something to focus on while exploring places we’re in for work. I don’t think I’ve found a town or city we’ve been to yet that doesn’t have at least one historic place! I know it’s shocking, but sometimes I really do need a reason to get out of the house/motel room; Markeroni gives me that.

Second great thing about it is getting to see some truly cool things! A couple of my favourites have been this water fountain in New Plymouth:

And this historic wharf/jetty in Tauranga:

I also love the random stories/things I find while out looking for historic places! Like this plaque commemorating a ship sinking that killed 18 people:

That last one wasn’t actually a snarf, but it’s still a story I wouldn’t have found out about had I not been looking for the wharf!

That’s what I love about Markeroni the most, finding out about stories and things I wouldn’t otherwise have known about. For instance, back when I was in New Plymouth for work, a colleague and I went up Mount Taranaki to watch the sun set. While there I saw a sign to a memorial, and so naturally wanted to check it out! We found it, and discovered that it was commemorating the “heroism of Arthur Hamilton Ambury.” I had no idea who he was, or what the actual act of heroism was, but luckily the next day did a historic tour of New Plymouth and asked. Turns out that Ambury had attempted to save another guy trapped on the mountain and died in the attempt (along with the other person on the mountain). Had it not been for my interest in history and Markeroni I would have never found out about him! Obviously being a book lover I’m a great lover of stories, and what is history really but true stories?

The other great thing about this site is that you get to meet awesome people who are equally as passionate about history, and enjoy travelling with mascots (yeah, you totally get to carry stuffed animals around with you if you choose to!)! Then we get awesome things like this:

And this:

And this:

Those first two pictures are from a ‘snarfari’ (mashup of snarf and safari) I did in Washington DC at the BookCrossing (another of my favourite things!) convention (also a favourite thing) (so many favourite things!), and the second is from when Skyring and I had dinner with the Chief Markeroon (aka the founder of Markeroni). It’s so much fun to meet like minded people.

I’m partially writing this because Markeroni is awesome, and partly for ulterior motives. You see, Markeroni is currently fundraising through Indiegogo for, among other things, some new computers. At the writing of this we’re 30% funded with 23 days to go. I’m told there’s exciting new things in store, and I really, truly believe that this website could become a much more useful tool for not only people interested in exploring and finding out stories, but people who just want to be able to find out about these things over the internet. People like teachers, tourists, historians, and people who just like to be able to find things out on the internet. So, if you’ve got a spare dollar or more and think this might be the sort of thing you want around, might be interested in doing, or have people in your life who also fit those descriptions, maybe you could flick it our way

So I’ve had a major case of too much living and not enough time for blogging about it lately! No complaints from me though!

A few weekends ago a friend of mine and I did a road trip to New Plymouth to see the bossman in the play, ‘The Producers’. As my first road trip in the North Island (not including the approximately 9 terms worth of work I’ve done here!) it was pretty awesome!

The weather was pretty awful, but we had fun driving along, stopping at shops on the way and taking a few pictures. This one is my favourite:

It took us as lot longer than I was anticipating (7 hours instead of around 6), but we did stop and take photos, have coffee, and do a tiny bit of shopping. So we got there around 6.30ish with the play starting at 7.30. Just enough time to have a bite to eat, get changed, and head off to the theatre.

It wasn’t raining when we got there, but it was pretty windy, so we hurried in to the theatre and took our seats. I’d managed to get us pretty good seats, second row back in the circle to one side. My boss was playing Franz Leibkind, the German author of ‘Springtime for Hitler’ (the play within the play) and was FANTASTIC! (and I’m not just saying that in the hopes of a raise!). Enormously funny, and it was so much fun to watch him perform! We’re seriously under utilising him at work. Probably my favourite bit was getting to see him perform the songs I had been listening to him practice for the previous few months in the car. Seriously worth the 7 hour drive each way!

The following day we checked out at 10, and went and had breakfast at Salt, which was surprisingly not overpriced and delicious! I had the muesli with fresh fruit, and we shared a frozen chocolate mousse for afters (it was almost midday by then, so doesn’t really count as desert for breakfast!).

All in all, a great weekend away!

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