A toast to the places that warm our hearts
Call it what you want; I'm calling it research.
I'm sitting in a comfy lounge chair in Pomeroy's bar on a Tuesday night, mulling over an assignment.
I've been told to write the first instalment of The Press's new series.
It is called "No More Ugly" and it's meant to be about a favourite place in Christchurch.
I usually do what I'm told, but with this assignment I prove hard to manage.
My favourite place?
"I don't have a favourite place," I tell The Boss.
I'm not being negative, I just love Christchurch as a whole, mainly because of the people here - family, good friends - and the proximity of mountains and decent surf.
The Boss is unforgiving: "Five hundred words, filed ASAP."
"Is Arthur's Pass too far away?"
I could write about the bach my family frequented there for 20 years.
My parents moved houses, cities and countries in that time, but the bach remained constant.
Apart from a new woodburner, it has never changed a bit.
The visitors' book went back decades, punctuating different stages in my life.
I went there as a child, a university student and with boyfriends.
The visitors' book made for interesting reading.
"Let's keep it closer." The Boss has spoken.
I swivel on my office chair indignantly and rack my brain.
I love the flat I share in Linwood with three special humans and a small dog called Toby.
I really like Christchurch's post-apocalyptic CBD, where there's a surprise around every corner. I like the strong presence of urban art and the ever-growing emergence of new bars and cafes.
And then there's Banks Peninsula.
Because I'm a goofy-footed surfer, Magnet Bay is one of my favourite spots in Canterbury. The lefthand break works well there, even on a tiny swell. And at this time of year, you can see snowcapped mountains on the horizon.
Actually, my favourite place is probably my bed. I really like sleeping.
Strangely, I'm banned from using up 500 words of newspaper space on that subject.
So here I am, in Pomeroy's, contemplating my assignment. All the while, it's right in my face.
Where do I sneak for some Anna time on a Tuesday night? Where do I jot down ideas and projects in my diary while nursing a craft beer?
Where do I catch up on stacks of newspapers I have not had time to read yet and, guilty-as-charged, read my own stories? Where do I go to see good mates on a sunny Sunday afternoon and sometimes chat with friendly strangers when I am alone?
What is that bar called where Toby the dog is allowed, if well behaved, so he's not left out during flat outings?
It's not about confronting stress with beer - exercise is far better - but it feels like a second lounge.
So there we have it: 500 words.
In a red brick building in Kilmore St, Pomeroy's really is one of my favourite places.
And now I think it's The Boss's shout.