Auckland has a mother-in-law problem

Yesterday afternoon my fab husband babysat so that I could enjoy a could of hours skating at the ice rink. It was great exercise without feeling like exercise because it was fun and there was no risk of keeling over with heat stroke. This is how exercise should be. I could avoid the heat stroke by spending a couple of hours in an air-conditioned gym but the boredom would be overwhelming and I really can’t stand those places. All that lycra and supercharged testosterone. Not for me. I would really like to thank my mother for taking me ice-skating as a child. Thank you, mum.

Ice-skating requires a bit of skill and coordination, so it is anything but boring. I love the gracefulness of it (except when you stack it) and the clean, sharp sound of metal blades on ice. At least, I would have enjoyed this sound had they not been playing such loud, dreadful music. Why do they insist on playing such hideous music in these places? I could listen to my iphone instead but the music is so loud I’d have to turn the volume up dangerously high to drown it out. It’s like being in a night club and I didn’t much care for those places when I was 21 let alone now, at 37.

There are two skating rinks in Auckland: Avondale and Botany. Yesterday I visited the rink in Botany, a suburb south of the city. Botany is a very ugly suburb and represents all that is wrong about development in Auckland. It is a featureless sprawl of McMansions in a landscape dotted with soulless concrete shopping malls each of which is imprisoned by an ocean of cars in carparks and no clear transport links to the rest of Auckland other than via cars and motorways. The mayor of Curitiba, Brazil – Jaime Lerner – once said, “The car is like your mother-in-law. You have to have good relationship with her, but she cannot command your life. When the only woman in your life is your mother-in-law, you have a problem.”  Auckland has a serious problem with its mother-in-law.

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