It’s Just Not Cricket!

For those who don’t get the Hawke’s Bay Today, here’s my letter to the editor that was printed in Wednesday’s edition in relation to “FindlayGate” – the CEO of HB Cricket scoring 307 against a team of schoolboys in a match last Saturday.

It has been very interesting listening to peoples opinions, which seem split pretty much 50/50 on whether his actions were correct. Here’s my opinion for what it’s worth:

(Note: while the grade they play in does have a “split-cricket” component, I discovered after writing this that that part of the competition actually finished at Christmas. This round is straight 45 overs each, but they still break at 20 overs and my opinion still stands that Tech should have declared at that stage when they were 300/1)

Grown man scores 307 against a team of young schoolboys. Nothing to be proud of there, really.

I was playing on the neighbouring pitch on Saturday, nearly got hit by a couple of the “towering sixes” and was getting quite thoroughly depressed for St Johns’ up and coming young cricketers watching the ever-increasing score line.

Tech and St Johns were playing in a grade that has a “split level” game – The team batting first bats for 20 overs, the two teams have a break and the batting side decide whether they will declare, or bat on. At 20 overs Tech were at around 305 for 1 – a massive score in any grade or competition and, in hindsight, around 125 more runs than their opposition would ultimately get.

We were watching their game between overs on our pitch and thinking Tech would rightfully and more importantly, SPORTINGLY, declare. But they didn’t and as reported went on to make a rather farcical 578 – a score which not even the Black Caps could make.

But then for man who made this publicity-worthy score and is also the same person who oversees the competition to say:
“St Johns bowling probably wasn’t up to senior grade standard and said the boys from the Hastings college will probably struggle in the association’s senior men’s club competition” just adds insult to injury.

Throughout New Zealand clubs and schools have a hard time attracting and keeping players, both young and old. The ultimate goal is to get them playing a sport, inspire them at a young age and help them develop into successful, young sportspeople. I didn’t see much for any Hawke’s Bay cricketer, young or old, to be inspired by in Tech’s tactics in that game.

The credit in this game really goes to the St Johns’ boys, who never gave up. They played on despite rather massive odds and took some stunning catches later in their fielding innings. From where we were playing, they looked like a very young, but commendably committed future stars of the game.

Andrew Frame
Secretary and Player
Napier Old Boys’ Marist Cricket Club

Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness (2013 Edition)

My wife, Olivia, is an absolute whiz in the kitchen. She is always following new trends, making new dishes or planning fantastic themed feasts. We seldom eat the same thing twice.

For the last 5 years she has composed a special menu for the “12 Days of Christmas” – alternating between the traditional (Partridge in a Pear Tree) and New Zealand (“Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”) versions each year. This year it was the turn of the traditional version.

Wherever possible she tries to tie in part of the carol lyrics to the dish – i.e. “Partridge in a Pear Tree” will usually contain pears to some degree, or there will be some sort of alliteration or similar tie-in. It really takes a fair bit of dedication and imagination to pull off!

This year, though, there was one small, cute, crying, constantly feeding problem.

Parents-to-be please note at this point: When baby arrives and you want to eat dinner, it’s absolutely guaranteed that Junior will too – ruling out any opportunity for you to:
A/ Have dinner together.
B/ Have dinner at your regular time.
C/ If you DO get it cooked at the usual time you won’t get around to eating it together at any temperature above tepid.

So while Olivia supplied our baby with dinner, I took to the kitchen to make the meals. This is not something that is usually advised unless a fire extinguisher, paramedics and Civil Defence are on stand-by.

As it turned out, the results weren’t too bad!

Day 1 – A Partridge in a Pear Tree:
Meal: Provolone-Filled, Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Burgers with Poached Pear Topping
Reasoning: The Pears for the pear tree, all the “P” ingredients for alliteration.
1 Partridge in a Pear Tree Pork Pear Provolone Burger

Day 2 – Two Turtle Doves:
Meal: Flour Crust Poisson with Steamed Vegetables
Reasoning: This was an awesome idea we got from a Jamie Oliver cookbook. The Poisson being a small bird like a dove, cooks itself in a flour and water crust that ends up hard like a turtle’s shell! We add the broccoli, which looks like a tree, for extra birdy-ness.
2 Turtle Doves Flour Crust Poisson

Day 3 – Three French Hens:
Meal: Coq Au Riesling
Reasoning: Chicken thighs (hen) cooked in a very French-sounding casserole (we’ll just ignore the fact that Riesling comes from Germany and DON’T MENTION THE WAR!). Very yum!
3 French Hens Coq au Reisling

Day 4 – Four Calling Birds:
Meal: Blueberry, Banana and Bacon Tart
Reasoning: We researched this dish and discovered that it isn’t actually “Calling Birds”, but “Colly Birds” (otherwise known as “Blackbirds”). So we often borrow from another old rhyme and make some variation on “Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.” Last time we made chicken pie. This year we went for a big “B” alliteration “Black Birds” / “Blueberry, Banana and Bacon”. It was BEAUTIFUL!
4 Colly Birds Bacon Banana Blueberry Pie

Day 5 – Five Gold Rings:
Meal: Panko-fried Courgette Fettuccini
Reasoning: I cut courgettes from our own garden into rings (ok, “coins”, technically), coated them in panko breadcrumbs and shallow fried them, before tossing them in fettuccini.
5 Gold Rings Courgette Fettucinni

Day 6 – Six Geese a Laying:
Meal: Baked Eggs and Wilted Rocket Leaves
Reasoning: Simple one this time – eggs are laid. We used regular chicken eggs, not goose eggs, though.
6 Gesse a Laying Baked Eggs

Day 7 – Seven Swans a Swimming:
Meal: Poached Baby Vegetables
Reasoning: Baby vegetables “swimming” in wine.
7 Swans a Swimming Poached Veges

Day 8 – Eight Maids a Milking:
Meal: Beef Burgers Topped with Goats’ Cheese and Baked Baby Beetroot.
Reasoning: The burgers are made from an animal that gets milked and the goats’ cheese is a result of the same process. The beetroot is there because it goes beautifully with goats’ cheese.
8 Maids a Milking Burger Goats Cheese

Day 9 – Nine Ladies Dancing:
Meal: Antipasti Platter
Reasoning: Olivia stopped (and really missed) eating soft cheeses, cured meats etc. (all the “no-no” foods) while she was pregnant. So the promise of finally being able to eat them again made this lady so happy she wanted to dance!
9 Ladies Dancing Antipasti

Day 10 – Ten Lords a Leaping:
Meal: Lamb Chops with Bean and Mustard Salad
Reasoning: Lambs, like lords (allegedly) love to leap. As do the mustard seeds when you cook them in hot oil for the dressing on the (“Spring” – get it?) Bean Salad.
10 Lords a Leaping Lamb Chops

Day 11 – Eleven Pipers Piping:
Meal: Walnut, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
Reasoning: Pretty straight forward again – Cannelloni looks like pipes and you have to ‘pipe’ the filling into them!
11 Pipiers Piping Canneloni

Day 12 – Twelve Drummers Drumming:
Meal: Deconstructed Duck Drumsticks with Kohl Rabi and Cherry Salad
Reasoning: We were going to use self-explanatory duck drumsticks for this dish, but they sold out the day before we went to do it. So I used duck breast, some creative licence and alliteration to call them “Deconstructed Drumsticks”.
12 Drummers Drumming Duck

So there we go, another year of deliciousness done and dusted! Many thanks to all the Facebook and Twitter friends and followers who liked and commented on the dishes!

Wherever possible, we sourced ingredients from our own garden, the Napier Farmers’ Market, local greengrocers, butchers etc. For the more specialised ingredients, we went to Gourmet Direct and Vetro – any Napier foodie’s best friends!

Welcome to #GigatownNapier!


Welcome to #GigatownNapier!

For those who are unaware, “Gigatown” is a competition being run by Chorus over the next year or so.

The winning city / town of will receive:

“The fastest internet in the Southern hemisphere – Chorus will make a special one gigabit per second (1Gbps) wholesale service available in the winning Gigatown at a special price and a Gigatown development fund – a $200,000 fund provided by Chorus and Alcatel Lucent’s Connect will support entrepreneurs and innovators taking new services over Gigabit fibre to market for Gigatown.”

I’m all for Napier becoming the first city in the southern hemisphere to have gigabit internet speeds. I can see just how much of a benefit our city and region could gain from such a digital asset. At the very least it is a way to engage, employ and empower Hawke’s Bay’s technologically-savvy youth and maybe even keep some of them from leaving the region in droves as they currently do.
At the most, it can put us at the forefront of the digital world and create massive financial, employment and social gains for our region. That’s why I’ve become a “#GigatownNapier ambassador.”

HOW the competition is currently structured leaves me more than a little cold, though.

The first stage of the competition is all about getting as many people to “hashtag” (“#Gigatown(insert location here)”) your town’s Gigatown handle on as many forms of media as inhumanely possible.

This can, of course, backfire with lots of people getting tired of seeing or using the Gigatown hashtag very quickly – social media is, after all, a very fast moving, trend setting (and following), constantly changing and fickle.

It all seems a little “Spam-like” to me (although there are rules and guidelines to help avoid this).

Currently leading the “#Hashtag Section” is Wanaka – where a simple ham sandwich from a lake-front cafe can set you back a whopping $10 (this was what sticks in my mind from the last time I was there), with almost 70,000 points. Oamaru, the “Steampunk” capital of New Zealand second (I’m pretty sure Steampunk technology isn’t internet compatible, though) is second, 37,000 points behind.

Napier is 14th

There are, apparently, conversion factors to be taken into consideration here – towns with smaller populations (like Wanaka and Oamaru, for example) appear to get more points per capita / hashtag, than bigger population centres. But this will start to even out as the competition proceeds, so we’re told.

Under this basis, let’s all just hope the likes of Otira don’t get too involved, or they’ll smoke the lot of us!

All the hashtag noise has also been a bit of a distraction from recent problems Chorus has been having with the government and the Commerce Commission over “unbundling” and the rolling out of New Zealand’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (“UFB”) network.

It has been interesting to note, too, that while the promise of gigabit internet speeds has been raising a lot of interest, the usage and uptake of “the next big tech thing” – Ultra-Fast Broadband in New Zealand has been a pretty slow. Despite the government and providers strongly promoting the use of UFB and installing the infrastructure for it around large portions of metropolitan New Zealand over the past few years, it has been gaining momentum only recently.

Rather than making the most noise, I’m all for the winning town being the one with the most substance.

Napier deserves an opportunity like this.

We have the port, airport and roads facilitating the transit of goods – export being our biggest earner and the servile tourism industry being a big portion of the region’s economy, but a poor earner for those involved.

Inject gigabit internet technology into Hawke’s Bay and I think we could foreseeably overtake at least one of those sectors. In doing so we would also massively increase the number of skilled workers, increase the wages, in doing so local boost consumer spending and launch the region’s economy into the stratosphere.

Regardless of what happens in the competition, whether Napier becomes #GigatownNapier or not, I still think this is a great opportunity for Napier and Hawke’s Bay.

I went along to the first that Napier “Gigatown Education Seminar” hosted by Ryan Jennings and I was impressed by the passion and drive I saw and heard from everyone at the event to see this sort of thing happen for Napier.

For too long Napier has been chained to the past. Over recent years I have felt we are just out of reach of that one thing that will get Hawke’s Bay out of its current economic doldrums. This is a great opportunity to thrust ourselves through the present and into the future.

Be it with Gigabit internet speeds, or with Ultra-Fast Broadband, this is a great step in the right direction and an opportunity that cannot be wasted!