Shoppin’ in the summertime: SHOPWATCH special food n’beverage edition

Shoppin’ in the summertime: SHOPWATCH special food n’beverage edition
With Christmas and New Year excess abandoned and a healthy, dry January stretching ahead – oh, who are we kidding? Whether you’re planning a virtuous fruity detox or still polishing off the last of the cake and biscuits with no end in sight, you’ve still got to eat and drink, right? Check out a few of the goodies around town right now that are sure to make summer drinking and dining that little bit more fun.
Mmmm, ginny.

Sours are slowly infiltrating the beer mainstream, and there’s not much more refreshingly, er, sour on a summer’s day than one of these. If you’re not used to them, they take some lateral thinking. Less beer, more sauvignon blanc, but without that grapey, winey quality one would naturally expect from wine. Tuatara’s special release GnT Citrus Summer Sour is an accessible starting point; cloudy and quaffable, with echoes of its spirituous namesake, but nowhere near as boozy. Trust me: sours are great.

Heading up a mountain but unwilling to face life without cocktails? Has vacuum flask inventor Stanley got the product for  you! The Stanley Adventure Happy Hour System – available at good old Ballys  – comprises a sturdy cocktail shaker, jigger, citrus reamer and two steel rocks glasses, meaning you can toast your triumphs in style, provided you leave enough space in your backpack for the scads of booze you’ll require to build your drinks with. The cups are doublewalled, so I guess theoretically you could use them for hot drinks as well.

Ballantynes also stocks ruggedly styled Stanley hip flasks – for emergencies, naturally -and rather cool steel shot glasses in a case that you can clip to your pack with a carabiner. As to how sensible it is to get cracking into the shots in the wilderness, I cannot possibly say, but these are certainly good looking sets.


For the tramper who has everything, and possibly also a drinking problem.

Refreshed and ready for use at last, Carlton Courts is gearing up to house several new hospitality spots. Sun Dog Diner’s appealing logo and promise of “hoity toity comfort food” caught my eye in particular: it’s run by the owners of Mamacita’s Mexican food truck and looks set to be worth checking out. Like a lot of new businesses, it  has a gorgeous website without much actual information on it yet, so for updates, visit the Sun Dog Facebook page. Plans are to open later this month.

Also refreshed in that area is Kanniga Thai. now known as Mama Ree Thai Street Food. I’m yet to try it since it changed names, bur new customers are raving about it on TripAdvisor, and its new signage is certainly cute. Street food seems to be the hot thing in Christchurch at present, which is why I also urge you to visit Delhi Belly in Victoria St, which is worth it for the starters alone – and not pricey, either. Like the decor, the food’s a little different to what we’re generally used to in Indian restaurants, but it’s very worth expanding your horizons.

It’s become almost obligatory for cafes to serve a pile of ingredients so you can put your own sandwich together – deconstructionism is so mainstream now – and sometimes it is a bit annoying. But Vespa, beside Strange’s Lane, is getting it right when it comes to serving its (delicious) affogato. If there’s one thing you do want to control, it’s the moment the hot espresso hits the cold icecream.

Coffee poured and ready to scoff.

Speaking of affogato, you can make it with gelato too. Jed and co at  Rollickin do. You can enjoy their superior gelati, coffees and  other dessert delights late into the evenings now at their cute cafe in the former Auricle space on New Regent St. What better excuse?

Stay tuned!

Shopwatch is an occasional shopping column focused on the central city of Christchurch, New Zealand. All reviews are independent and unsolicited. Any WordPress advertising is unrelated to content.

Sense and sensibility: or, the importance of being edited

Sense and sensibility: or, the importance of being edited

Language is a beautiful, shifting thing, but every tongue on the planet comes with rules you simply can’t break, and when you use  words the wrong way you can end up looking like a dummy. That dilutes your argument and undermines your message. After all, isn’t communicating something the whole point?


It can be a singular act of bravery to hand your precious written work to another person and ask them to tell you what’s wrong with it. The more you love it, the harder it feels – but unless you never want it read, it’s got to be done. One of the great lessons I learned from journalism is that editing is a good thing. Writing is work, and like all workers, writers get tired, and make mistakes, and have off days. Sometimes that additional pair of eyes can tweak your laborious metaphor and make it sing. Sometimes just a quick scan will save you from legal action. Sometimes a grumpy old subeditor will frown at you so grumpily that you will never misspell “manoeuvre” again.

Even when you don’t have an extra pair of eyes on hand, it’s worth taking a break – a day is good if you can stretch to it – and looking at your work again before you send it off. Here are a few places where it’s easy to trip up

But it’s art

Recently I was contacted by an old connection, asking me to consider digging out some writing from about 20 years ago, when I fancied myself a poet. It was a fairly excruciating experience, but since I have been tentatively stretching my creative muscles again, I found myself doodling the odd new verse. I started writing poetry about the time I stopped being a newspaper reporter and found I had to add things like adjectives. This time, with seven years’ newspaper editing under my belt, it was even worse.

Poet me: “The wind sets shifting borders.”

Editor me: “No it doesn’t. If they’re shifting they’re not set. If they’re set, they’re not shifting.”

Poet me: “But I like the alliteration!”

Editor me: “Well, it’s your poem. I mean, don’t let me stop you. It’s not like I pointed out that wind is made of air and therefore can’t create a border anyway. If you want to say “sets shifting” because you think it’s all poetical, then do carry on.”

Poet me: *side-eyes, grumbles, rewrites*

But it’s in the dictionary

I once hung out with a man who read dictionaries for fun. This led to  heated discussions about correct usage from time to time, followed by look-ups. But most people do not stash dictionaries all around their houses. Quite a few don’t even use the one that comes with their word processing packages. If they did, fewer embarrassments would arise. However, there can be drawbacks to uncritical use of that big book.

I did French at high school. Whenever I found out there was more than one French word for something, I’d pick whichever one I liked the look of best and use that. I was later to realise how dumb that approach was when I met people new to English who spoke of making their ablutions in the morning, or swooned over the beautiful stench of a perfume. When you speak a language really well, you understand subtleties of meaning, context and tone that are often lost on people who don’t. Which leads me to…

I thought I read it somewhere

I’ve been marking a lot of undergraduate university essays lately, and I’ve found that for all their grammatical errors, if there’s one set of students who seldom get basic meaning wrong, it’s the second language speakers. It was the same when I was editing newspapers – the second-language writers were frequently better than the local ones. Kiwis, bizarrely, are shockingly bad for using words they think mean one thing that actually mean something else – “portray” for exemplify, “enforce” for reinforce or support – just throwing any old preposition where one is needed, and for tripping up over homonyms (“chicken coup*”, “poured over journals”). We speak our own languages with great sophistication, but when we try to get sophisticated, we frequently fail.

I think I’ve worked out the reason. It’s because we don’t read all that much. Sure, we’re constantly online now, but we’re mostly skimming chatty blog posts, giggling at gifs or listening to audio. Most of us spend a lot less time with our noses in a book, and the breadth and depth of the things we read is vastly reduced on a day to day basis. When we come to write something, it seems that we try to emulate what we think we’ve read – but without that ongoing practice, our skills are unformed or rusty. Add to that the regular appearance in print of these errors, and it’s a vicious circle.

But Spellcheck, tho

One of these days I’m going to have to accept “loosing” weight to fit into some new “flaired” pants as legitimate usage, so common have these misspellings become. I’m hoping I am in my grave before that happens. Spellcheck does not speak English. Spellcheck does nothing more than pass over words it recognises, and highlight words that it doesn’t. This is why chickens stage coups, academics pour themselves onto pages and you never know which two/too/to is going to turn up. You should always, always run a spellcheck. But don’t expect it to catch those errors.

Of course, there’s another thing you can do after you’ve done all of this, and that’s find a beta reader, or hire an editor. Don’t fear that second set of eyes. It’s the difference between writing that’s loose, and writing that loses.



*Yes, I know coop and coup are not homonyms, but I’m guessing these error-makers didn’t prance about making fools of themselves using ill-chosen words in sixth form French, either.

Why this is a terrible blog

Blogging properly is not just about writing some stuff and putting it on the internet in a handy WordPress template. Here, BRIGID KELLY tells you exactly what is wrong with THIS blog … and why!

1) It lacks a clear focus.

OK that’s not strictly true. This blog is all about ME. ME ME ME. But more importantly, this blog was largely intended to be a space where I could stretch my writing muscles again, and/or post examples of the kind of work I can do. Part of the reason for that is because most of my archives were lost in those damn quakes.  As a result, it’s all over the place – listicle here, schmoozy self-plug there, colour piece ici, vaguely political pontificiation la. A good blog can be varied… but it needs things to hold it together. To wit:

2) There are not enough pictures, pull quotes or subheads.

Nobody wants to read a wall o’text. And this blog is one mighty wall.

A random picture of my fave boots.

When I set it up, I was still working in my day-night job as a newspaper subeditor and the very LAST thing I wanted to do while sitting up in bed of a night was more layout. Also, I was sitting up in bed with a blanky across my knees, tippity-typing in a dimly lit room, longing to go to sleep and eager to press “publish” rather than delay till I had time to make the post look all beautiful and ensure it was SEO-ready and stuff.

3) The articles are mostly too long.

See above. People mostly don’t read past what fits on their screen when they browse the interwebs. In fact you may not even be reading this far right now. Not unless the picture of my boots drew your eye down further. That is why high-impact web content is generally pretty bite-sized (or is that BYTE-sized? AHAH. I’ll wait till you’ve stitched your sides back together.)

4) Nobody can find it.

Actually, that’s not strictly true either. Google my name and “flaneuse” and you’ll find one entry.

Not Original Brand Brigid Kelly, despite also being a lefty with great brows and a penchant for green.

Google “flaneuse antipodienne” and you’ll find more, including a place where my content has been cheerily copy-pasted to some random dating site.  But unless you know what you’re looking for, the chances of finding content by ME ME ME sinks beneath the waves, and also the growing profile of a (hopefully) nice Democrat lady in Ohio. I had this name first by the way, lady. It’s about time I started using it on everything, am I right? It could also do with better keywords and  categorisation that’s less personal, more designed to get others a-clicking.

5) It’s a snob.

This blog would do much better if it just got off its arse and talked to the people, you know? Like that Ohio hopeful lady probably does all the time, because she is a politician. This blog should be commenting on other blogs and inviting interaction by offering polls and other fun clicky things. This blog has not gone on its ceilidh for quite some time. It’s acting like it has agoraphobia, which it assuredly has NOT. It needs to get itself out there.

6) It is updated infrequently.

No one likes a blowhard, but similarly, no one remembers a one-hit wonder. Blogs need regular updating for two reasons: one, to keep your readers engaged, and two, to ensure there is lots of older content on it to entice new readers to stay and look around.

7) It is a wuss.

This blog has been too scared to just jump in there and bash out a few lines, even though those are precisely the sorts of entries that readers appear to like the best (according to WordPress’ handy stats feature). It has been all “oh no I better not blog now, I am tired and do not have time to make it super cool and perfect enough for potential employers to see. It might not paint me in a good enough light. Mopey mope mope.” It has been told in no uncertain terms that this is no kind of strategy for living, and that it should just own itself and jump out there, warts and all. After all, what is my brand if not… eclectic?

What do you like in a blog, readers? What mistakes have you made when creating yours?