Chapter 10: Reading

Until this week, I hadn’t read a book in a year.

Which, for someone with a degree in English Literature, is basically sacrilege.

(Ps. I also have a degree in Psychology and Management, but we didn’t come here to talk about how very smart I am. We came here for lols and encouragement, and some A-Grade ridiculous stories.)

It’s all coming back, to me

One of my Thirty Before Thirty goals was to rediscover the absolute bloody joy of reading.

I had a bit of hormonal anxiety (fun!) before little man was born, which combined with a fierce imagination, made for some dramatic times up in my head.

So to help, I steered clear of reading or watching anything that added to the drama above my ears.

But then after a while, the hormones chilled (Thank. God).

And Z was born.

And I didn’t sleep anymore.

And my mental capacity was #basic.

And Christmas Netflix movies became my jam (how good was The Christmas Prince, though).

And I just never really got back into books.

Until, now.

To Guernsey, with love

Last weekend, my mum gave me The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to borrow.

She said: “It’s very you”.

So I started reading it on Sunday.

And then I finished it on Thursday.

It was amazing.

I was also bloody thrilled to discover that they made a movie of it in 2017, starring the divine Lily James. She’s one of my faves, but I hadn’t watched it yet because I thought the name was weird.

What a fool.

I’m going to have a couch date with myself on Saturday and watch it. Because I know how to party.

Book Club

For those of you who are interested, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set at the end of WW2, and tells the story of the German occupation of Guernsey (an island in the English Channel) through an ensemble cast of gorgeous, witty, clever characters.

The book is written entirely in letters and notes (the format reminded me a bit of Love, Rosie), and the main character Juliet is to die for.

She’s the sort of character you wish was real just so you could be friends.

“You know how I love talking about books, and you know how I adore receiving compliments.” – Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I know those feels.

It has everything: Strong female protagonists (along with Juliet, Elizabeth is the second, silent central figure of the book). Realistic, quirky, loveable characters. A setting that teaches you something. A love story. And all of the lols.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a pretty big fan.

It reminded me a bit of The Girl You Left Behind, the lesser-known novel by Jojo Moyes (of Me Before You fame) half-set in German occupied France – which I also really liked.

Kate’s Goodreads

In honour of rediscovering my love of literature, I thought I’d share my all time favourite books/series/authors, and why I luuurve them so damn much.

Best Nonfiction Comedy

Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)

This 👏🏼 Book 👏🏼 Is 👏🏼 Everything

I had a real “Books By Female Comedians” stage (Miranda Hart’s Love Peggy gets an honourable mention in this category), but this book is the best of the bunch BY FAR.

I think I’ve re-read it twice … maybe three times …

So funny. So inspiring. So great.

Best Series for Tweens That I Read as a Grown Ass Woman

The Georgia Nicolson series. With such titles as Startled by His Furry Shorts and It’s ok, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers, you know you’re in for a good time.

Pure, ridiculous, teen hilarity.

I was genuinely heartbroken when their author Louise Rennison passed away in 2016. But she gave the world the Disco Inferno Dance and Dave the Laugh, and for that I will always be grateful.

I could have literally snogged until the cows came home. And when they came home I would have shouted, “WHAT HAVE TOU COWS COME HOME FOR?! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M SNOGGING, YOU STUPID HERBIVORES???” – Georgia Nicolson

Favourite Writer

I love Zoë Foster-Blake.

I just feel like we’d be friends. And I love her novels, Air Kisses and Playing the Field.

Her blog is also bomb. Get amongst it.

Best Sob-Inducer

Me Before You is gorgeous. And harrowing. And hilarious. And everything.

I also really loved Emilia Clarke’s (my all time girl crush) portrayal of Lou in the film.

Who, now I think about it, actually has some similar traits to Juliet in Guernsey

Quickest Read

I read Divergent in a day.

O b s e s s e d.

Although I felt the series got a serious case of the “er … where are we going with this plot …?!”, Divergent was sublime.

Book three (Allegiant) was ridiculous.

Best Christian Book*

I really enjoyed Jesus is ___ by Judah Smith.

He managed to be funny and inspiring and informative all at the same time, and I loved it.

Also, anything by Joyce Meyer, the First Lady of Female Preachers.

Bow down.

*Other than the Bible, which is a pretty good book …

Best Inspo

Girl, Wash Your Face is amazing. I’ve only just started it, so I’m well and truly jumping the gun by putting it on this list, but I don’t care. It’s amazing.

The author, Rachel Hollis, also has an amazing podcast called Rise which I thoroughly recommend.

Best Classic Prose

I will tell you a secret … I only ever finished one book during my English degree.

I know.

And that one book was Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

I am only now realising how sexist I am … All my fave books have female leads.

Literally. All. Of. Them.

I guess …

What’s you’re all time favourite book? Do you have any recommendations for me? I feel like you all solidly know “My Type” now.

Kate x

Chapter 9: #RoyalVisitNZ

I’ve met five members of the British Royal Family.

What?! How? When? WHAT!?

I spent some serious years working in Public Sector Communications doing serious work for the government, and it just so happened that the Department I worked for was in charge of official state visits.

So once in a blue (blood) moon,

My

Job

Got

Bomb.

Disclaimer

I gotta say right off the bat. This isn’t going to be some salacious tell-all.

Mainly because there isn’t anything salacious to tell.

But also. Code of Conduct. Professionalism. Ethics. That sort of jazz.

Everything in here is already public information. Or are random (ridiculous) stories from my life outside of work.

Being a professional like.

The Royal Whānau

New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth, which means the Queen of the United Kingdom is also the Queen of New Zealand, making the Royal Family our Royal Whānau.

And the Royals do what normal family do.

They come to visit.

It’s kinda like when your Aunty Ang comes to stay, except she doesn’t sleep on the pull-out couch, because she’s actually Angelina Jolie.

Social Media Reporter, reporting for duty

My first Royal Visit was in 2014 with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George.

It was also the first time the New Zealand Government (and in fact, I think any Commonwealth country) had a “Social Media Reporter” creating an online version of the visit that people could follow through their smartphones.

And that was me.

(Constantly ruining shots).

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Braggy Fun fact: Your ol’ mate Kate created the hashtag #RoyalVisitNZ.

My job involved a lot of quick-fire phone photography and social posting so people could follow the #RoyalVisitNZ feed in real-time.

I can’t even tell you how fun it was.

I also got to see an insane amount of my own country, which, ps. is beautiful.

Fave photos

Here are some of my favourite photos that I took back on my trusty iPhone 5 during the 2014 visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George.

(Warning: I really loved a hard edit back in 2014. The filter use is. Next. Lev).

All photos are taken from the @GovGeneralNZ account on Instagram – which I administered over the course of the visit.

Arrivals

Their Royal Highnesses (TRHs) arriving at the Wellington Military Terminal.

Can we make a moment for Catherine though: she’s wearing a floaty dress in Wellington winds, with her hair down, holding her kid, while walking down aeroplane stairs in front of the world’s press.

Bow. Down.

If that was me I’d have created an international incident before I’d touched New Zealand soil.

I would have basically been Paris Hilton every time she got out of a car in the Noughties.

Queenstown

The Mecca of New Zealand tourism, Queenstown is stunning.

Amaro, anyone?
I got doused by the Shotover Jet as it zoomed past. #chic

Serving some serious cute in Blenheim

This lovely veteran showed the Duchess a photo of him from the war, and it was mad cute.

(Also, praise the person not just their clothes, but this was my favourite lewk of the visit).

But of course

Ayyyyy! Who dat. Even though I forgot to curtsy and said absolutely nothing intelligent, meeting TRHs was

The

Coolest.

My tiny blonde friend there, Claire, did Media Management on the visit. As you can see, neither of us were at all taken by the Royal Couple … *face nearly splits from smiling so hard*

We also had a big team photo with TRHs after this, including Prince George, who I said hi too.

The whole experience was the best, in every way.

Not least of which because everywhere we went there were hundreds and thousands of people being made so incredibly happy.

All. Of. The. Feels.

The changing of the guard

Me and my main man in London, 2015, after seeing the Queen. Oh and yes, those are the black Northern Lights Karen Walker sunglasses Meghan famously wore during the latest visit #trendsetter #fashun #OOTD

As luck would have it, I was in England in 2015 while Prince Harry first visited New Zealand (one of my chums/Comms colleagues covered that visit).

However.

While we were in the Motherland (I am actually half English), we swung by Buckingham Palace, because #tourists, and as we were waiting to leave after the changing of the guard, I saw a motorcade coming.

We’d been told the PM (who had been voted in the day before) was coming to see the Queen, so we were vaguely jazzed that we were going to see David Cameron.

But it was not Dave-o.

It was Her Maj, herself.

We accidentally saw the actual Queen!

It was a wonderful, ridiculous day.

The Sequel

Later that year, it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, Charles and Camilla, were coming to town – and I would be reprising my role as Kate the Social Media Reporter!

My fave photos that I took on that trip:

Prepare yourselves for an iPhone quality upgrade (I was running with a 6 at this point), and a far subtler approach to photo editing.

The Ultimate

There was an unfortunate run-in with a bee on the Duke’s pants, and both Their Royal Highnesses got the giggles.

Just, great.

Laughing photos are the best photos.

Turangawaewae Marae

I literally took this shot from a bush. It was basically Fortnite.

The Duke and Duchess visited the home of the Māori Kīngitanga in Ngāruwahia, and it was full DRAMA, in the best possible way.

From the full spectacle of the welcome, to the waiata/songs, kai/food, armada of waka/boats (which TRHs are just climbing aboard the barge in the photo above to see), and farewell haka – it made me proud to be a Kiwi.

Harry and Meghan

The Gang.

As you can imagine. I was definitely down to try and see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry and Meghan) on their visit to New Zealand last month.

In fact, it was the perfect #9 addition to my Thirty Before Thirty bucket list.

But, it

Did

Not

Go

Well.

I live in Wellington, so went to the public walkabout at Pukeahu National War Memorial with my son (I figured babies always go down well with Royals) and mother-in-law.

We were two hours early, and got a great spot by the entrance.

Or so we thought.

We actually parked ourselves directly inline with where the delegation van would be parked.

So when the Royal Couple arrived the only view we had was of was VIP Transport.

ryan gos

I also hadn’t factored in the screaming …

Like a total mum scrub, I hadn’t stopped to think that thousands of excited Royalists/Suits fans might be a nightmare-level scenario for my 11-month-old.

He was. Hysterical.

I couldn’t escape through the barricade because I’d look like a crazed fan, and I was barricaded from the back by throngs of Royal watchers. The panicked parent sweats were  r e a l.

But, like a glimmer of hope in the chaos, I could see a scheduled meet and greet unfolding in front of me.

There was a guide dog involved, and photographers were getting lined up for the shot.

So amongst the horror show of this experience, at least, I thought, I’d get to see them.

But alas.

The guide dog got moved up, a woman close by basically mounted me as she filmed on her phone, and as I stretched out my neck – my baby still losing his mind – to try and catch a solitary glimpse, the Duchess turned her head.

And I saw a very chic bun.

And that is all.

This is the photo my mum-in-law took.

How it ended up being black and white is still a mystery.

Proof that you can be this close to someone, and yet still not actually see them.

It was all so comedically bad.

The absolute, wonderful irony that the one time I tried to see a member of the Royal Family – this happened.

But it also made me reflect on how stupidly blessed I’ve been to have tagged along on two Royal visits (and stumbled upon seeing the Queen!). And for that, I am so very thankful.

In Memory

I’d like to dedicate this post to my boss and friend, Allen Walley.

Allen was the Media Manager for the 2014 visit, and the one who recommended and encouraged me to be the official social media reporter.

He was also famously a Republican. (Hilarious). Although, as you’ll see in the photo below, still got a little star struck.

We look like three grinning hyenas

In many ways I owe this experience to him, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Allen was diagnosed with cancer in the planning stages of the Prince Harry visit in 2015, and passed away a year and a half ago.

Cancer is crap. But the Royal adventures we had most certainly were not. Thanks for everything, my friend.

Kate x

Chapter 8: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation is the greatest television show of all time.

Fact.

My main man Taka and I first watched Parks and Rec in the Summer of 2014.

Also know as ‘the best Christmas in living memory’.

You’d think this would be last year, the first Christmas with my son.

But you would be wrong.

That day included tears, my oven blowing up, and a power cut while we were meant to be cooking lunch.

It was a real chill, super fun time.

nope
It’s a Knope from me.

The Summer of Sixty-Nine Seasons of Parks and Rec

But back to our summer of loving Andy Dwyer.

We essential did three activities over those Christmas holidays:

  1. “Home improvements” (note quotation marks. We no good at them. We try)
  2. Eating Cadbury Favourites (that, I am actually very good at)
  3. Watching Parks and Rec.

Because, ladies and gentlemen. We know how to par-tay.

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Please brace yourself for a truly exorbitant number of Parks and Rec GIFs. They are incoming. I repeat. They are incoming.

As I’ve said before, Taka is an information gathering machine.

He loves Twitter, YouTube, The Ringer, and all manner of podcasts …

Frankly, if his finger was any more on the pulse, he’d be presenting the 6 o’clock news.

On his online travels, Taka noticed a lot of people talking e m o t i o n a l l y about the seventh – and final – season of Parks and Recreation that was due to come out that January.

We were intrigued.

We had also just seen Guardians of the Galaxy and both of us were pretty much in love with Chris Pratt.

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There was nothing else for it.

It was TV series binging time.

We are the champions, my friends

I’m ashamed proud to say we got through all six seasons (God love a back catalogue) of Parks and Rec while the seventh was still airing.

It is perhaps our greatest accomplishment as a couple.

But. Can I just say. The Post-Binge Blues were real.

Seven seasons of joyous, Emmy Award-Winning TV gluttony, and then … nothing … 1/10, would not recommend.

We tried replacement therapy by watching a couple seasons of Community. Happy Endings. Selfie (this was actually really good. It’s on Neon, and I feel robbed it never got a second season. Karen Gillan and Harold from Harold and Kumar were damn majestic together)

In the end, New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine became the new go-tos. Gucci.

As a real side note, here are …

Kate’s favourite 10 TV shows of all time

For the laughs

  1. Parks and Recreation (as discussed. At length)
  2. New Girl (Schmidt is just. Everything)
  3. The Mindy Project
  4. Miranda
  5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

For the dramas

I’m ride or die BBC.

  1. The Crown (Bloody sen-sational. Give them all the Emmys! All. Of. Them!)
  2. Sherlock
  3. Dr Who (Yass, Jodie Whittaker. If anyone wants to discuss the Rosa Parks episode with me in the comments below I would be hella down for that. AhMay-Sing)
  4. This is Us (riiiight!?)
  5. Suits

Honorable mentions

  • The first season (it’s all I’ve watched so far) of Jane the Virgin. Rogelio is my spirit animal
  • Gilmore Girls (B.C-Rory going to college)
  • The Graham Norton Show (a Kiwi in the Big Red Chair makes me feel more patriotic than any All Blacks game)
  • Netflix Christmas specials. I. Am. Ready.

C l e a r l y I am not a Black Mirror or, what’s it called, the dystopian show where ladies have a crap time … The Handmaid’s Tale!

Google gets me.

I’m not about that poignant, sad time life. If I wanted that from my leisure time, I’d watch the news.

Give me the lols instead.

Give me all the lols you have.

So, what exactly is #8 of 30, Kate …?

It’s been four years. My Pawnee memory is hazy.

I can finally rewatch Parks and Rec!

Which, as I say it out loud, seems a bit sad. But rewatching and rereading my favourites genuinely makes me so happy.

And as a wise Pinterest post once told me:

  1. Write down a list of things that make you happy
  2. Write down a list of things you do each day
  3. Compare the lists
  4. Adjust accordingly.

So simple. So deceptively life changing.

Speaking of life changing. Here are …

Three life lessons from Parks and Rec

1. Things will get better

I love you, Ron Swanson.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really like Season 1 of Parks. Or the first half of Season 2.

Leslie’s was so awkward it made me squirmy. Pratt was a drop kick. And Mark Brendanawicz was just dumb.

But.

Then Leslie softens.

And Pratt gets super sweet.

And Tom isn’t so creepy. Kinda.

And Brendanawicz leaves.

And literally the best duo in Chris and Ben turn up.

And Ron continues to hold it down as the best character on TV.

Point is. Everyone has patches in life that are a bit crap (although hopefully not as crap as the women in The Handmaid’s Tale. That crap is D A R K).

Keep your head up and your feet walking, and you’ll get through it.

The night only lasts so long.

2. It’s cool to try hard

Leslie Knope has got to be the most determined go-getter that ever got up and got going.

She really thinks if she works hard enough she’ll make a difference.

And you know what. She does.

May this be a lesson for all of us.

3. There’s someone out there for everyone

Andy and April. Leslie and Ben. Chris and Ann. Ron and Xena Warrior Princess.

They’re all a bunch of weirdos who found each other.

Don’t give up on love.

Your weirdo is out there.

I know I said three, but I’ve just thought of another one …

4. Breakfast food is the best food

It just is.

Bacon. Eggs. Coffee. Pancakes. Waffles. Smoothies. Coffee. Toast. Cereal. Yoghurt. Fruit. Coffee.

Brunch makes me happy to be alive.

What’s your favourite TV show? Or breakfast food? And OH MY GOSH DID YOU SEE THE ROSA PARKS EPISODE OF DR WHO!? Discuss!!

Kate xx