I am a ‘throw my hands up in the air’ level optimist 95% of the time. But like everyone else, I have my shitty days.
Maybe something got me down with a friend. Maybe I feel pressured about work. Or maybe it’s been a crap week on the blog and my stats are looking droopy AF. Lately, these shitty days have been brought on by a severe lack of Summer. Not only did I take no time off over Christmas, but the weather has been completely dire. I hate the fact that it is supposed to be sunny summer but in reality we have had weather that had been unbareable. Storms, rain, wind, #weatherbombs. Whatever you want to call it! It’s bloody annoying is what it is.
Yes, lots of guides about what to do in Wellington on a budget exist. But what are you supposed to do when the weather is horrible? No one in their right mind would attempt to scale Mount Victoria lest he or she ended up sliding down the other side on their bums in the mud. So when the weather is raining down and you need to work out what to do but have no budget (because you're broke, hence the crappiness of the day) you might need some new ideas about what to do. So if you’re getting a case of SAD (otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) or just need to work out how to get through, read on.
1. Lush Cosmetics (Cost: $5 - $20+)
Lush is the place I go when times get really bad. You can’t feel too droopy and sad when you are in a magical heaven of scent. If I am feeling low, and the weather is gross, I can vouch for taking a walk to the Old Bank Arcade and heading down to Lush. I love their bath bombs and face masks in particular. I like to use ‘Love Lettuce’ and the ‘Waving not drowning’ bath bomb which is named after this poem. As many of their products are under $10, you can pick yourself up a pampering treat for the price of a coffee and cake.
2. Eats at Basque, Commonsense Organics and Pandoro (Cost: $5 - $20+)
If you do want actual coffee and cake, I like to head to Pandoro. The smell of fresh baked bread always soothes my soul. I love their large bowl lattes when I need something really healing, along with a thick sweet pastry. If I need some greens, I’ll head to Commonsense Organics. Just being in this store picks me up because it is an oasis of wonderful potions and fresh seasonal vegetables. I cannot explain what it is but this shop is ACTUALLY my happy place. If greens don’t cut it, I’ll pop up to Basque for a strong beer and some curly fries.
3. Unity Books (Cost: $12 -$20+ )
Another place I have made my home for bad days is Unity Books. Again, it is all about the smell. I love that smell of crisp pages that hits you as you walk in the door of unity, the smell of tangled words fighting for your attention. My routine used to be to head here at lunch when I was working in my first and least positive job, with a large juice from L&R’s juice bar and pick up a copy of the latest Alain De Botton book, snuggled in a chair. Unity makes me feel calm and relaxed and I usually end up leaving with a purchase under my arm (it’s the only loyalty card I actually use). I believe you can never regret investing in a book so I tend to try and find more to add to my collection at home whenever I am here.
4. Bats Theatre (Cost: $20)
On a rainy day, the show must go on. With most shows under $20, Bats is the place to go if you want to see the freshest thing in theatre but don’t have lots to spend. I love coming to Bats and have been attending since I was 15. Now they have their refurbishment complete, you can see even more shows. I’ll be heading along for the Fringe Festival in February so stay tuned for lots of local and international Fringe theatre style and experimental shows. The wide range of shows means there is something for everyone, whether you want a comedy or a self-indulgent tragic horror.
5. Embassy Theatre Cinema (Cost: $12 - $19)
If the theatre feels too hard, and you need the height of luxury to coddle yourself in, head down the road to the Embassy Theatre on Cambridge Terrace. With daily showings in three cinemas, The Embassy has a wide range of popular and art house movies. The price of a single ticket clocks in at just under $20. I particularly like the toilets here, and have been known just to go and sit in a cubicle to contemplate life instead of facing the outside world (they were done up for the Lord of the Rings premiere in 2003). Filled with marble, tiles and large ornate mirrors, it’s well worth the visit.
6. City Gallery Wellington (Cost: $12)
For just $12, you can have an international art experience, transporting you far away from Wellington and keeping you dry into the bargain. The Gallery has an aura of being in a place that is not of this city. That can be mighty refreshing when you want to scream into your pillow. The current Cindy Sherman exhibition is very evocative and appealing for all people of all ages. Her works are basically f**ked up portraits where she models and satirizes the way people depict women. It’s very cool. City Gallery is the perfect escape when you just would like to close your eyes and pretend you’re actually in NYC.
7. Wellington City Library (Cost: $0)
If you are in the area, you might as well pay the Wellington City Library a visit. Grab a coffee at the café and then head down to browse movies, magazines, CD’s and of course books. In this digital age, it is easy to forget the incredible power of libraries. There are millions of books literally available free to anyone who wants to read them. No subscription, no fees, no apple ID (yess I hear all your 40+ year olds sing). Honestly, I think we take our libraries for granted FAR too often. As my fav Caitlin Moran points out in this interview with Kim Hill from RNZ, the library is pretty much the one place you can go if you are poor and have an unhappy home. You can go and learn and stay warm and dry and no one will tell you to go away. The only other alternative these days would be a shopping mall where your worth is judged by how much money you have. So let’s use our Library ok?
8. Te Papa (Cost: $0)
On a gloomy blustery day, you can see Te Papa standing firm on the waterfront, unmoving despite the wind. Somewhere I REALLY need to visit again more, it holds the whole of New Zealand’s history right inside its doors. There is so much to explore, it is very easy to spend the whole day at Te Papa. Make sure you check out the Gallipoli exhibition, with huge oversized statutes made by Weta – telling the stories of New Zealanders at war.
9. Scotties (Cost: (POA)
OK – so in theory this is NOT AT ALL A CHEAP SHOP. But come on, a girl can dream. Granted, you won’t find much in here under $20 but you will find the most beautiful selection of clothes in the whole of New Zealand. Anyway, I think the fact it is so expensive actually is an advantage when you don't have money to spend because you simply cannot afford anything in store so nothing can slip into your shopping bag.
I’ve loved visiting Scotties since I was a young girl with mum (Dad didn’t like it so much) and whether or not I can buy something, I loved rummaging through the racks, gathering inspiration and feeling the beautiful fabrics in my hands. I also like to pop into the Scotties Recycle section and check whether there are any bargains. Sometimes, you need to pretend you are a grand lady on a bad day, and make-believe selfishly that you WILL have that Dries Van Noten Coat.
BONUS: 10. Stay at Home
If you want to curl up in bed and can’t face the world, DO IT. Put on Netflix, boil the kettle and say screw you Wellington. Sometimes as Oscar Wilde said the only way to overcome temptation is to yield to it. Or something to that effect. I don’t know. Just leave me alone! Get me when the sun comes out, ok? I’ll be here, watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.