From Drinker to Brewer
When I was young and living in the thriving metropolis of Foxton, I always looked forward to Thursdays.
Thursdays, apart from being one day away from the weekend - weekends always involved two games of football and the comforting nostril burn only Deep Heat can provide - was when I would get my pocket money.
My mother, having worked in a bank since before I was born, taught me some good financial tips.
One of them was making sure I put money in my savings before spending any of it.
After doing my banking for the week at the town's only bank - which could be leaving soon - I always popped into the dairy next door for a few treats.
Last time I found time to put beer to print, I had just come back from a week in Dunedin.
A great city, it is something of a hotbed of brewing activity.
But the city has many other smaller operations quietly ploughing away.
McDuffs and Meenan are, from what I could pick up, designed to service the large student population.
The biggest news in the New Zealand brewing world last year was the sale of Dunedin-based Emerson's to Japanese-owned Lion.
Many drinkers did not see it coming, but after the shock they managed to express their opinions.
Most people were depressed at the news, worried that Lion would ''do what they did to Mac's'' and let the accountants squeeze the flavour out of Emerson's products.
Some bars did not wait for that to happen, immediately cutting Emerson's from their stables.
I took the ''let's wait a year and see what happens then'' approach.
I have never been much of a fan of travelling to new places.
It is not a case of not wanting to find out about anything new - it is my job, after all, to discover the new - but it is a pain finding those things you need: where to get a good coffee, what public toilets to avoid, how the public transport system works.
But for any beer fan, the hardest part can be finding somewhere to buy a decent pint.
Having lived in Palmerston North and Wellington for more than a couple years each, I know where to head when in either city.
But landing in Dunedin on a weirdly balmy Sunday evening, my attention quickly turned to where I could parch the flight-induced thirst.
Gale-force winds. Schizophrenic weather patterns. Marathon-long sessions tidying up the garden. They are all signs spring is here.
While trying to figure out what to wear to work each day is as risky as Russian roulette, there is one good thing about this time of year - plants.
People may be getting excited at the prospect of fresh vine tomatoes and ripe pears straight off the tree, but I am watching a weird little bush in my backyard with very keen eyes.
Some may call it sambucus, but I have always known it as an elder tree.
Throughout winter, my elder tree is depressingly naked. It's branches float in the wind like the legs of models that really need to eat some pies.
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