Posts Tagged ‘Auckland’

Ms Possum, Intrepid Traveler and Fur Researcher

March 4, 2010

Hello Possums

Yep, it’s the big freeze in the Northern Hemisphere, but spare a thought for Ms Possum getting a tad hot under the collar in 97% humidity and temperatures in the high 20’s here in Auckland, New Zealand. Phew!

However, at the beginning of the year I was over your way just in time to experience the UK’s coldest winter in decades.  Yeah, had to go then as Possum NZ shut the factory for a few weeks, like any other self respecting manufacturer in this neck of the woods. This was my chance to research the fur scene away from home once more. The things I do for the sake of work, huh? It’s a tough life!

So, I’m in the UK freezing my little possum merino sox off and what better way to keep warm but to go shopping.  I didn’t need much inducement with all the 50-70% off sales in full swing and the newish Westfield undercover shopping mall at Shepherd’s Bush that went on forever – a girls’ paradise, if ever I saw one! Check out some of my pix from this colossus of a place:
Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London
(Click on any of the images to see full size version on Flickr)

It was survival of the fittest here, as the bargains were worth fighting over and then there were queues for the changing rooms and at the checkouts.  It was retail at an adrenalin pumping, manic level that has to be seen to be believed.

I almost didn’t survive the “River Island” experience – more clothes on the floor than on the hangers and all these vicious females grabbing armfuls of goodies like there was no tomorrow! Argghhh! Yes Possums, the claws were out and I fought bravely, but the foe outnumbered me!

UGG Store at Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, London The above queues however, paled into insignificance to the looooong line snaking outside of the “Ugg Shop”.  Here were all these patient shoppers waiting in haphazard formation for up to 45 minutes (according to the security guard who only let a few in at a time) to spend 200 quid plus.  Yep, reverse psychology was being well used here – everyone else on sale but Ugg was holding its prices.  (Click on the image to see full size version on Flickr)


Why am I telling you this?

Well, I’ve just designed a new footwear range and mixed New Zealand possum fur with sheepskin, plus gone a tad dotty with our New Zealand Friesian Cow skin Moomoo range that has random spots plastered all over the show.

They look funky and feel delightfully soft and spongey on the inside.  I’ve also specified heavy duty gridded soles for the boots and non slip flexi soles for the slippers.  OK, they don’t have UGG written on the label, but they are seriously warm, durable and hand-cut wherever possible by Possum New Zealand. Plus you definitely won’t spend anywhere near 200 quid!  Check out our new footwear range today.

Then it was off to Barcelona where temperatures were a balmy 16 degrees and this is the place if you want it all – art, architecture, fashion, culture and the beach.  Nothing prepares you for the sheer scale and magnificence of Gaudi’s masterpieces.  The wait for the elevator to the top of one of Sagrada Familia’s steeples was truly worth it, as one can view at close range the sad faced statues clinging to the sides of the building – as if they were threatening to jump off – contrasted by the gigantic, boldly coloured first fruits to God speared through the pointed steeple tops. Antoni Gaudi was a genius and his other works were as quirky and original as he drew from nature and avoided straight lines wherever possible.
Sagrada Familia Steeples, Barcelona Gaudi Masterpieces, Barcelona
(Click on any of the images to see full size version on Flickr)

So, what has all this got to do with fashion?

A lot actually, the Catalan people are a happy lot and their exuberance for life is not limited to their amazing architecture, but infiltrates into every aspect of fashion.  The two labels I found so appealing were Desigual and Custos. The use of bright colour and blending of different textures, patterns and trim in these labels is mind blowing, and like Gaudi, a bit quirky and offbeat.

Here are some of my fashion pix taken in the thick of things in the Designer district of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas:
Valentino, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Valentino, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Fur Fashion, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Fur Fashion, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Fur Fashion, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Louis Vuitton, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Store Entrance, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona Store Display, Designer District of Passeig de Gracias and Las Ramblas, Barcelona
(Click on any of the images to see full size version on Flickr)

Yes, faux fur or the real stuff is in vogue here and it inspires me to join up all my bright and gaudy babylamb and possum fur scraps and make a masterpiece or two!

Of course, the winner of Fur Central has to go to Italy once more.  This time, I was in Venice and it was magical.  Water, bridges, gondolas, glassware and masks abound at every turn.  Forget the map – the intricate labyrinth of cobbled lanes takes you out to multitudes of campos and piazzas, so my suggestion is just head for the Rialto Bridge (signs are everywhere) and digress anywhere you like in between, as the myriads of craft shops are sooo interesting.  

In the thick of Winter these elegant ladies thought nothing of coming out in their vintage mink coats and fur hats, and even dressing their mini pooches in like fashion.  They really need more possum fur over their way!!  Check out some Venetian fashion pix:
Fashion Masks, Venice Window Display, Venice Fur Fashion, Venice Window Display, Venice
(Click on any of the images to see full size version on Flickr)

So Possums, all this research means new things are in the offing – watch this space!

In the meantime, I’d love to deck you out in any of our warm possum fur, cowskin, or babylamb numbers – all made in New Zealand, largely from our workroom and all originally designed by Ms Possum herself. 

No excuse to freeze my little dahlings – we have everything to keep you snuggly warm!

So, be good and I look forward to hearing from my international hordes of hypothermic fellow critters real soon…


 Ms Possum (Intrepid Traveler and International Fur Researcher)

Don’t shoot first and ask questions later

March 1, 2010

A family fresh to Auckland from the country, settled in the Huia Road area of Titirangi, which is part of the iconic Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland, New Zealand.  This area is famous for its scenic backdrop of native forests and woodlands, and has its own micro-climate. It is near the black-sand West Coast beaches which are spectacularly wild and beautiful; and the native flora and fauna thrive in this unspoilt habitat which is only 30 minutes from the Central Business District of Auckland City.

Settling in was a breeze as here was a log cabin type house in a peaceful bush setting, not unlike what they’d left behind in the country.

The first evening this new family discovered one big fat possum on the wooden veranda looking as if he owned the place and nonchalantly eating the remains of their dinner, totally unconcerned with the proximity of the new resident humans.

Mr Newby’s automatic response mechanism kicked in and the rifle came out and one shot was all it took. It was easy, as this obese possum was the ultimate in sitting targets. I mean that’s what any self respecting country boy would do, right?!

The neighbours called around the next morning to say “Hi”. Introductions and small talk ensued with Mr Newby waiting for the opportune moment to relate his superlative hunting prowess of the night before, when he was asked: “Have you seen Percy, by any chance?”

“Who’s Percy” asked all the Newby’s, wondering if they had another neighbour.

“Percy Possum. He comes for dinner every night as we all leave our leftovers out for him to enjoy. He’s quite an icon out this neck of the woods as he’s so friendly and adored by all and sundry. You’ll just love him.”

There was a deathly silence and then: “No, we have not seen Percy yet” was Mr Newby’s sheepish reply.

Mum Newby quickly put a tea towelled hand over her loud -mouth kid’s face, on the pretext of wiping any stray Weetbix crumbs, whilst hauling him directly to bathroom before anything incriminating could be deciphered from his muffled utterances.

Mr Newby was relieved the weapon used on the recently departed was stored securely away in the master bedroom closet and could not be used as circumstantial evidence against him. Full of guilt, he resolved from henceforth never to be a serial killer. But he would have to do a spot of gardening first to ensure Percy would never be found by his would-be accusers.

The moral of the story… don’t shoot first and ask questions later.

Another moral of the story is: Leave country behaviour back on the farm paddock when entering JAFA territory. (A “JAFA” is colloquial abbreviated slang for “Just Another F… Aucklander”. It is now applied as a term of endearment to over one quarter of New Zealand’s population who reside in this sprawling metropolis of a city.)

Poor Percy Possum!  It’s not as if the Newby’s could go into the local pet store and replace Percy Possum because it is illegal in New Zealand for possums to be farmed or bought as pets.

The size of Percy suggested he was a Primary Possum with a penchant for polygamy in his fiefdom in West Auckland, if our deductions are correct. That means his extended family, who can place their family “trees” back 150 years ago to when they first migrated from Australia, are mercilessly Percyless!

They await an opportune time to carry out “The Revenge of the Possums” debacle.  Newby’s beware – to coin the Pantene slogan: “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen” – be afraid, be very afraid… I’ve heard a hiss of goss regarding a pack of prickly possums going to party in someone’s roof shortly and it won’t be pretty!

As told by Rick, Possum Catcher Extraordinaire with profuse embellishments by the inimitable Ms Possum.

Sequel: Ms Possum is hoisted by her own petard

October 2, 2009

Ms Possum was invited back again to her friends place in the Central Eastern Auckland suburbs for another round of possum spotting.  Ms Possum was surprised at this follow-up invitation as she had remarked to her gracious hosts “Shoot them all, I say,” as a flippant scatter gun approach to the possum problem.

“No, they’re cute” said the hosts (as they refuse to take Ms Possum seriously), and everyone was there to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Mummy possum proudly introducing her new offspring to the kind humans that put out carrots and apples, as a ritualistic offering to them at each nocturnal passing.

Ms Possum’s hosts were grateful that Mummy possum had concluded that not all humans shared the same predilections as Ms Possum does for furry attire.  Every night at 6 pm Mummy possum would collect her “dinner-to-go” and say a brief hello to the nice humans, while proudly displaying her new possumette in her joey pouch or on her back.  Looks like this new “Generation Z” is being trained to progress from being hunter/gatherers to the “How to Win Friends and Influence Humans” approach.

But on the night of Ms Possum’s arrival, there was no such sighting at the usual 6 pm.  Was it because Ms Possum was resplendently decked out in her new fabulous possum fur raw edge collar in pastel blue, that bore an uncanny resemblance to Cousin Calvin?  Or, was it an objection to the sound emanating from the contestants of American Idol?  If only they were singing “the green green grass of home…”

Ms Possum waited and waited, camera at the ready, to record this moment in history and to qualify for her Possum PI badge.  The inside lounge lights were turned off as an extra precaution.  About 7 pm there were a few thumps down to the wooden deck and Mummy and Baby had somehow bypassed the security sensor lights, as these shadowy creatures of the night were barely visible.

Ravenous Baby made a dash to collect its belated dinner first.  How young ones grow up so fast these days, sigh!  And, they don’t want to share with Mum anymore either – disrespectful youth!  And where was Daddy possum you may ask?  Avoiding his marsupial responsibilities no doubt!  Yes, there are distinct behavioural similarities between homo sapiens and trichosaurus vulpeculas – family life just isn’t the same anymore.

But I digress…  as drats,  there was no light source for Ms Possum to begin to take a photo.  These urban possums are now so technically advanced as to tell the time, to avoid the radar cordon of security lighting, and have tracking devices to know Ms Possum was in the area.  Yes, possum spotting is getting decidedly more difficult in our modern age.

Ms Possum felt she was hoisted by her own petard, but consoled herself with the thought that every dog has its day, and therefore Ms Possum would have her night.  But it is a night yet to come…

Ms Possum out on a Saturday night

October 1, 2009

It has been known that Ms Possum goes out nocturnally to enjoy Auckland City by night.  But this was a Saturday night with a point of difference.

After dining out with friends, Ms Possum was kindly invited back to the friends’ house in the central eastern suburbs, where leaves and trees abound in splendiforous abundance.  Because of this our wee furry friends have adapted with cunning ease in this urban sanctuary.

Part of my hosts’ family also used to include two huge lop-haired rabbits, who used to feed together outside on the veranda in the company of  our furry friends – yep, lapin and possum together in delightful co-existence – if only the races of mankind could do likewise!  Unfortunately, Mr Bunny predeceased Mrs Bunny (the male always goes first) and now Mrs Bunny prefers to eat her side salad within closed walls due to the present imbalance of power.

My host put carrot and apple pieces as per the nightly ritual on the outside verandah rail.  We turned off the inside lights and waited.  I joked that word had got out Ms Possum had arrived, wearing what no live possum would ever want to see, and that our furry friends would not make an appearance on this particular night.

But within only a few minutes, the security lights popped into action with a noisy bounce on the roof, resulting in a crash landing on the deck and a grab at the offerings.  More bounces and another furry friend appears.  Ms Possum went closer to the window to be stared back at by these courageous critters.  They seemed to be carrying out a facial recognition exercise.  Either that, or they were mesmerised by Ms Possum’s gleaming dental work as all parties stood transfixed for a few seconds.  With everyone “playing possum” who would give in first?  No need to ponder, as with a hasty leap off the verandah, they disappeared into the dark void below.

 The word was out – Ms Possum had come to spoil this clandestine activity and our furry friends were not quite ready to be transported into the fourth dimension.  We never saw them again for the rest of the night.

Yep, Saturday night possum spotting is  a lot of fun!

Double Double Trouble & a Possum Burger please

July 17, 2008

My husband and I used to have a cleaning contract for one of Auckland’s best known tourist attractions – Kelly Tarlton’s. They’re generally better known for their aquatic residents rather than arboreal ones. We would do our cleaning very early in the mornings when the tourists were tucked safely up in bed.

One morning while I was emptying rubbish bins, I found one with the lid off. Not thinking anything about it, I stuck my hand in to pull out the bag. Only instead of a smooth plastic bag, I grabbed something furry.

Big Mac PossumSomething furry, eating the remnants of a Big Mac.

I’d pulled it out by the tail, and it seemed in shock. It just hung there looking passively at me – swinging a little and blinking in the early morning light.

I screamed, and I think the Possum would have screamed too – if it hadn’t had a mouthful of burger! It swung up my arm and my first thought was ‘not the face.’ But the Possum was intent on escape. Still carrying his breakfast, he leapt over my head and disappeared up a Pohutukawa tree, with the last of the prized Big Mac in one paw.

Now, my husband will attest that I’m not prone to hysterics, but I was a nervous wreck. I had to go and have a strong cup of tea and a lie down. That little encounter has left me decidedly wary of Possums, and I’m pleased to say that I never saw one again, as long as I did the job.

Thanks Shona! Your Possum-pressie’s on the way.

Possums Big Day Out

July 4, 2008

Big Day OutSome of our New Zealand-based readers may remember this story from 2006 in the New Zealand Herald, memorable for one of the worst puns ever printed (‘furred party insurance’).

This intrepid little Possum, made its way into the central city, and wandered up Gore St (with a security guard in tow) blissfully unaware of the fuss he was causing among the latte set!

The full story can be read here, or see the photos of his big adventure here.

AND, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – we’ve got a follow-up story!

According to our sources, he was last seen disappearing into a paddock in rural Ponsonby!