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. Tuesday, 5 November 2019 .

You may remember that a few months ago, I saw a horror film in the cinema for the first time in my life. Ever. It was the IT Chapter Two premiere and I put my big girl pants on, gathered my friends (well, one of them), and braved the cinemas. I figured if I were to ever go see a scary film on the big screen, it may as well be while one of the stars in said film was in attendance so I could reassure myself that it's just a movie...

Well, friends
, as it appears I've gone a bit cocky and now think I can handle scary films. So tonight I took Steph along with me to the Doctor Sleep screening. And to prove that I am such a noob when it comes to this genre, I even got the title wrong when I messaged her. I said Doctor Sleeper. So my cockiness was premature for sure. Nevertheless, I said yes to seeing it because I've been actively opening myself up to new experiences and expanding beyond my comfort zone (in hindsight, it's probably not called comfort zone when I do that, though). It seemed like a really good film. I have not seen the trailer. But Kate assured me it was probably more weird than scary and I trust her with my life so there we go.

Halloween may be over but this new Stephen King film ensures its spirit of spookiness lives on. Doctor Sleep is

If you want an accurate film review, then I am most definitely not your girl. I haven't even seen The Shining yet. Like I said, total novice. May I redirect you to One Take Kate, Spicy Pulp, or Blackguard reviews instead? Hell, even Stuff probably has a proper review of this. Go checkout literally anyone else but me!

But still, here is the definitive list of everything* I was thinking while watching Doctor Sleep in no particular order:

Rebecca Ferguson is perfection in any role. Whether she's playing opera singer Jenny Lind, a mistress turned wife in The Girl on the Train, and now as Rose the Hat, she completely morphs into her character that you forget she was ever anyone else except whoever she was playing. Her portrayal of Rose the Hat is no exception! Although the execution of some scenes reminded me of Jessica Chastain in X-Men: Dark Phoenix and not in a good way. Still, Rebecca Ferguson is terrifying and fragile in this film. Flawless.

I just ate two tacos, fried chicken, and drank a crapload of sangria before this. Maybe I should ease up on the popcorn and drinks aye?

OOOOOH Cliff Curtis is in this! See? Nothing to be afraid of. It's all good. He was all good when he was sitting a few seats behind you at the movies a few months ago. You have nothing to worry about. It's fine. I'm fine. He's fine. Everything!!! Is!!! Fine!!!

Will watching Doctor Sleep and The Shining put me off going on hotel staycations? Perhaps the scariest thing out of all this is that it does.....

OK, Ewan McGregor looks a little worse for wear to be honest. I was counting on thirst factor to carry me through the scary bits but our boy was a bit rough at the start. I mean, fair enough. He's been through a lot! There was a particularly unsettling sequence towards the end of the film and everytime a chandelier/candles were lit, I would just picture Ewan McGregor as Lumiere from the Beauty and the Beast remake (which he voiced) and everything was alright.

Slight criticism (and not just about this film but the horror genre in general) is that I don't get the fascination of harming children. It feels quite gratuitous and frankly, old and boring, to keep using kids as the shock factor in horror. It just feels gross and unnecessary to me.

I need to go toilet but it's dark and I'm scared of going by myself. Will my friends think I'm weird if I ask them to come with me right now?

Everytime those creatures 'ate', it just looked like one giant orgy.

I, too, would like a bathtub in my trailer that I park in the woods where my friends and I have started a weird commune.

Goddamnit, Georgie just left to go toilet. I should have gone with her!!!

This girl is badass and is not afraid of anything and I want to embody that kind of energy.

When Snakebite Andi told Rose the Hat "you are the most beautiful person I've ever seen", I really felt that. Bitch me too!

The phrase "shine on" used to be so inspiring for me but now it just freaks me out. I'm off inspirational quotes for the foreseeable future, thanks.

I found the scenes with Danny (Ewan McGregor) in the rest home to be sad and touching and also like a good use of his 'shine'.

The cat is so cute. I miss my cat. I wish I can take her with me to movies. Or text her.

This movie is incredible at portraying the vulnerability of the "evil" creatures. Which makes them more terrifying - because all of a sudden the world isn't just black and white. They start having their own redeeming qualities to them too damn it.

If I close my eyes and cover them with my hands, I can just listen to the music and pretend I'm at a live gig.

I asked Steph several times if she'd do what Cliff Curtis has done for Ewan McGregor for me. She said no.

The maze set was gorgeous. I would have loved stepping into that.

Rebecca Ferguson is a goddess and she deserves the world.

Speaking of sleep, I should really go to bed now. Good night!

*It may not be everything, everything. I was most definitely thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch the next day during a particularly unsettling scene.

Doctor Sleep opens on Thursday, 7 November in cinemas nationwide. I would link you the trailer but I'm too scared to click on it (even though I've already seen the film) but it's on Youtube! Watch it. And watch the film! It's actually a lot kookier and quirkier than scary. Thanks Roadshow and Undertow Media for having us!

. Thursday, 24 October 2019 .

The adventure started a day before we were even due to leave. A text from Kiwirail advised us that our Northern Explorer train was cancelled due to a mechanical issue so we will be embarking on a Wellington journey by bus. I didn't mind. Is it even a trip away if you don't encounter at least one set back? As an seasoned traveller will tell you, always expect the unexpected and go with the flow. Besides, I quite enjoy the long bus ride to Wellington. I love it so much that I wrote about it back in 2014 when I took the bus to Wellington Fashion Week because I was glamorous.

I've been looking forward to this Wellington trip for weeks! The last time I had a chance to explore Wellington was back in 2014, and even then I didn't have a lot of time. So when Park Hotel approached me to see if I wanted to work together on this trip, I immediately said yet! It was even more special because I got to take a plus one so I took my dad with me - he's hasn't been on a press trip with me yet (as opposed to my mum who literally lived her best momager life when I was doing those trips to Australia last year) so this was quite special!

My out of office was on, my bags were all packed (I was at a Cotton On Curve launch the night before and they very kindly gave me a few pieces so I brought that), and I was ready to go! Our first stop? Huntly! Now coming from Hamilton, I don't think I've ever truly given Huntly much of a thought. It was always just something we pass through to get to Auckland, where all the magic happens. Well I can confirm that Huntly has something magical that's worth stopping for too - the custard slice and corn dog aka breakfast of champions. Oh, and this view of course!

It was also during this trip that I rediscovered my long for New Zealand small towns - especially the old school toilets. Most of them surprisingly painted peach/pink. I had planned to take a selfie in all of the ones we stop at so here I am in Huntly and then again at Ronnie's Cafe in Otorohanga who surprisingly do an amazing spaghetti bolognese. Our last food stop was Mcdonald's in Taihape but I didn't take one there. Oh well!

I slept for most of the trip. Dad and I had separate seats because the bus we were on wasn't full and he claimed I took up too much space and he couldn't sleep/move. It was nice to wake up from little naps and see parts of the country that I don't often see. The bus was comfortable and I had my earphones on for most of it and even managed to finish up a movie review somewhere between Palmerston North and Bulls!

We arrived in Wellington just after 7:30 pm. Tired (seriously how was I feeling exhausted when I sat around for most of the day?!), excited, and already planning outfit photos. Me, not my dad. Lol! Luckily we were staying at Park Hotel in Lambton Quay so it was a short, flat, walk from the train station. I mean, we still got a bit lost and had to ask for directions a few times. But still, we were there! After a quick check-in, we dropped our bags off and met up at the lobby to go have dinner with family. I was staying on the 12th floor, my dad on the 13th.

I was so excited about the thought of this being home for the next couple of days! We had the loveliest welcome parcel waiting for us too filled with classic Wellington treats like Fix & Fogg peanut butter (dark chocolate too. YUM), a very special Baron Hasselhoffs Kawakawa & Mint truffles - an exclusive collaboration with the hotel, a curated stack of books from Unity Books, wine (YAS) and vouchers to Park Hotel's in house eateries. The first thing I did was check out the room service, though. Classic. In my defence, I always like knowing what my options are for those midnight snacking situations.

I woke up bright and early on Friday, ready to explore! I went out for breakfast with my favourite Wellington power-couple, Chamanthie and Dileepa. It reminded me of living back in Hamilton and meeting up with a bunch of our friends for a 7 am book club breakfast session before work. These two have been such a solid and inspiring presence in my life, and it's crazy to think how much life we've lived over the years. But sitting there at Pravda felt comforting, like I was back in Hamilton and back with people who feel like home.

After breakfast I went for a little wander around Lambton Quay, took a bunch of building photos because you know I love a good building post, checked out the shops, and went back to the hotel. I was 'home' by 10 am and the realisation that I had an entire day to myself, to do as I please, and to just relax was just so damn good. I didn't know what to do with all that free time! I was meeting my cousin for lunch nearby, the hotel proving to be the perfect location that's near offices (and the beehive - not to be confused with Beyonce's beyhive), good eateries, and shopping with David Jones just literally across the road.

I texted my dad to see if he wanted to hang out in the meantime, but after having breakfast at the hotel, he was out and about creating content for his Youtube channel, doing interviews, and working on his own collaborations. What can I say? Content creation runs in the family. There's a reason why I call him #instadad - he's always armed with a camera and the patience to take a million photos of my outfit before I find the 'one'.

In the end I just stayed in my room, changing into pjs and going back to bed again. I was just staring at the views from my window, listening to music, and doing absolutely nothing. And that to me meant everything! People often ask me what I do on staycations and most of the time, it's honestly just me doing nothing. I love the stillness of just being. I think staycations are a great way to relax because it feels like you're on holiday - bed doesn't need to be made, minimal chores, no dishes, don't even need to cook if you don't want to (I was tempted - my room had a kitchen area with a stove and lots of space to host people for a meal) - without even leaving your city! I also think there's something powerful about being a tourist in your own city. The insights and perspective you can get from looking at things you are so used to seeing everyday with fresh eyes is life changing.

So I stayed in my room, played the Hustlers soundtrack on repeat at an embarrassing volume and had a little dance party alone because why not? The room itself was so spacious - complete with a little lounge that could comfortably host a party of five. I had Sky TV, lots of sunlight streaming in, a coffee machine, and books to read. I was set!

The real party, though, began at around 6 pm. After a day of lounging and catching up with friends, I was ready to get don my finest threads and paint the town red. We were meeting up with Tom and Zoe from Love Welly who were also staying at Park Hotel for the weekend. We had an epic day planned for Saturday, with them being our tour guides and showing us around their city! We met up for burgers at Rogue Burger - the easiest commute given that it's literally right by the hotel lobby. It was the first time I saw my dad that day too so it was nice to be reunited!

Choosing which burger to get was the hardest part. They all looked really bloody good! It was a tough choice between the cheeseburger or the mushroom burger. But alas, I am a creature of habit so I stuck with the cheeseburger. Definitely a good choice! One may argue it was one of the best choices I've ever made! The burger bun was soft, the burger patty perfectly smoked and juicy. Then the sauce! It was so delicious, so messy, everything a burger should be! Of course we ordered fries too - with their own tomato sauce and aioli as our sauces of choice. Another excellent choice! My only regret was not eating the burger for dinner the previous night and for lunch earlier that day. Rogue Burger is only open from Monday - Friday so you gotta be really strategic if you're serious about getting your burger fix. I did have a secret burger stash hidden away in my room though... a burger after a fun night out is literally the most perfect way to end the night/usher in the weekend.


The lovely team at Park Hotel surprised us with media tickets to the 2019 World of WearableArt® Awards Show (more on that here) so we spent the rest of Friday night being absolutely enamoured by the garments, performances, and costumes at WOW®. We ended up across the road at Charley Noble after (thanks Tom for the recommendation) and tried their edible art dessert. I had a cheeky espresso martini because I was on holiday so why the heck not? A short walk back to the hotel turned into a long walk because we kept stopping to take photos. I loved looking up at the Lambton Quay skyline and just stared at the buildings towering over me. Wellington is especially stunning at night.

Saturday was our action-packed day! Another early start for us and dad and I went exploring around the sleepy city before brunch. I had a cheeky coffee at Mojo while my dad went off to get more #content for Youtube. I sat outside and took a bajillion photos of coffee and buildings and the Parisienne vibe I was getting from the area. We noticed Lambton Quay was quieter too. Perhaps it was because of the weekend and most offices were closed so people were spending time in other parts of Wellington. I loved it, though. We took some photos in a little alley way, helped a family out by taking a photo of them on their phone, and walked back to the hotel to get ready for brunch and a full day ahead!

We were having brunch at Sterling Woodfire Eatery, the in-house restaurant at Park Hotel. We had a nice spot that had enough sunshine streaming through, but not completely blinding. I loved the plush green seating and the variety of indoor plants inside the restaurant. I love simple, aesthetically pleasing design, and we all know that adding green to a room instantly creates a feeling of relaxation. I started off with a mocha - my second coffee for the day. In hindsight it probably was not a good idea to have two. I should really know my limits! Anyway, dad had already been to Sterling for breakfast the day before so he knew what was good. I opted for the wood-fired mushrooms, sourdough, whipped feta, macadamia dukka, and poached egg with a side of bacon.

My god those mushrooms were next level! The serving was enormous and bread slices were thick. It took me ages to get through my meal and I was so full after that I didn't think I'd be able to finish it! But we love a persistent gal so I did. I washed it down with a glass of orange juice after. This is the kind of brunch fare you go through when you know you have a lazy day ahead and have all the time in the world to enjoy your meal. It's the kind of brunch you take a cute date to. Or a good book. The kind where you just wish you could stay for a bit longer because you're having such a good time.

Sadly I didn't have time to check out their dinner menu, but I've had a look at the menu and the slow-braised beef cheeks look absolutely divine. I'll definitely have to check it out next time! I also didn't get to try the room service because I've been busy eating my way around Welly, but I guess that just gives me more reason to come back!

I was so stuffed from brunch that I was ready to go back to bed and call it a day, but we had a big day of exploring and I really wanted to ride a cable car so after a short break (and let's be honest, a change of outfit), we were ready to go again.

We took the cable car up to the Wellington Botanic Garden - literally a massive park that had touches reminiscent of Central Park. For some reason, that lamp post area reminded me of You've Got Main. You know, that park scene? Yeah. That! All of a sudden I'm Meg Ryan but in polka dots and wearing a hat with no Tom Hanks (or his dog) in sight. Oh well. At least the view is gorgeous!

Also can we talk about that photo Tom from Love Welly snapped of me? I always have this paranoia that I don't look good in other people's lenses and very few people really capture me in a photo, but this! This one I absolutely adore. It's so spring, I put on a red lippy at the last minute, and just had a lot of fun in the garden. I also have an Instax photo almost identical to this and it's one I will treasure forever.

It was also in the botanic garden where I discovered just how windy Wellington could be. My hat kept flying away and I was literally personified the saying 'hold on to your hat'. Because I did. Tightly! I was impressed by how massive and open the garden was. We made our way down past picturesque scenes, we stumbled upon a succulent garden that made me feel like I was in Joshua Tree, an old stable that looked like it came straight out of a fairytale book - all red roof and cobble stones. It was good exercise and because we were doing it leisurely and in our own pace, it didn't feel like a massive workout. Although I will say it was a huge relief to find a lift in the visitor's centre. It probably saved us half the walk back up!

We went back to the hotel after that via cable car back to Lambton Quay, a little sweaty, puffed, and ready for the next adventure! Of course it wouldn't be a trip to Wellington without checking out Te Papa. I've only ever been there once so I was really excited! We were there to check out Finale Bouquet by Nike Savvas. So after some gelato at the Te Papa cafe, we made our way up to see the art. The installation is unlike anything I've ever seen before! It's floor to ceiling 'confetti', it's overwhelmingly joyful, and I dare anyone to look at it and not smile. We weren't allowed to touch the art but I had an overwhelming desire to get in the middle of the piece just to see how that felt like. Oh well. Is it too late to commission that piece to live in my living room or....?

Dad and I walked back to Cuba street after and went for an early dinner at Courtenay Place. We were exhausted by then and got a little lost finding Courtenay. I wanted to eat rice and to take my dad to my favourite Chinese place - the best yang chow fried rice and sweet and sour pork I've ever had! KC Cafe is a Wellington institution and home to the best cheap and cheerful meals in New Zealand. It was 4:30 pm on a Saturday and the place was absolutely packed to the brim! We ordered a few dishes, could not finish them all, and took an Uber back to the hotel.

I had planned to go out for some drinks later that night but a warm bubble bath, a facemask, and some reading/writing in bed won in the end! I was so exhausted and just so darn happy to be there and tried to soak it all in. I couldn't believe how quickly the trip flew by. I was having last night blues! And as I packed my dirty clothes (eww) back to my suitcase, I couldn't help but feel so incredibly grateful to the team at Park Hotel for their time, effort, and hard work in making this trip a reality. There's always a lot of planning behind the scenes when it comes to trips like this, and I really appreciated all the love and care that they put into it. From making sure we were comfortable from the get go, organising activities and events, all the personalised touch and handwritten notes, they really knew how to make a guest feel welcome - an invaluable thing to have when you're in the hospitality industry.

I slept with all my blinds open that night, letting the soft moonlit glow of the skyline into the room. It's amazing how much we packed in those four days. And despite the full days and late bedtime/early rising I am used to, I didn't feel as exhausted as I thought I'd be. I slept soundly everynight and when it was time to checkout early on Sunday morning, I really did not want to leave.

Wellington is a place I've only been five times in my lifetime. Only three of those were for exploring and really experiencing the city. The rest were for day trips for work and for a family funeral. So my recollection of Wellington has always been slightly blurry. This trip really opened my eyes to a different side of it! Oh, Wellington. I have fallen in love with you and your pretty buildings, your delicious food, how you have some of the absolute best people in the world living in you, and the creative energy around you.

But our trip wasn't over yet. We had one final adventure as part of this incredible partnership - the Northern Explorer from Wellington to Auckland! We were finally going on our own great journey of NZ thanks to Park Hotel, Kiwirail, and Great Journeys of NZ. This train ride was hands down the best way to see the country! The carriages were spacious, the seats comfortable with some even having their own tables. What I loved the most, though, was how huge the glass windows and ceilings were, ensuring that you get as much view as possible.

It's always a challenge to take great photos while in a fast moving vehicle but I took this photo (which I will share on Instagram soon) that I feel perfectly captures what I loved about the trip home. The beautiful scenery, the perfect weather, and seeing flowers bloom in places that can only be touched by nature. It was what I imagined New Zealand to be like prior to moving here ten years ago!

There was even an open carriage that you could stay at in some parts of the journey. It was cold and windy but the view was breathtaking! I'm pretty sure my dad spent half the train ride there. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen photos of how my fringe skirt moved along with the wind. I got to see Ruapehu from there and photos really doesn't do it justice.

You'd think being inside a train for hours (we left Wellington at 7:55 am, got to Auckland at 7:30 pm) you'd start to get cabin fever after a while, but the open carriage really helped with that. Plus they had a really damn good cafe serving the best lamb shanks I've ever had! For a small cafe inside a train, they had quite a wide selection of food and drink to choose from. There was wine and coffee and ice cream. We sat at the 'cafe' side of the carriage and ate ice cream and looked at the view. We were on the last leg of the trip. The reality of home was something I was looking forward to. Wellington was still on my mind, of course, but I was excited to get writing, to start working on the next part for you. If you've made it this far (yay, congrats and thank you!), then you'd be pleased to know that I, along with Park Hotel, am giving you a chance to experience all this too! More details after the rest of the photos from the trip...

Win a Wellington Staycation for two! Yes, really. Check out my latest Instagram post @jessmolina to enter.

Wellington Staycation Giveaway Terms and Conditions 

The prize is for a 2-night room booking in Park Hotel for 2 people, A Kiwirail voucher, $50 Rogue Burger voucher, and $100 Sterling Woodfire Eatery voucher only. It does not include travel, food, and other hotel expenses.

To qualify for this promotion, you need to telling me who you’ll bring with you in a staycation by @ tagging an active Instagram user on the Instagram post, and be following @jessmolina @parkhotelnz @rogueburger @sterlingwoodfireeatery on Instagram at the date of the prize.

Prizes are subject to availability of Park Hotel, Kiwirail, Rogue Burger, and Sterling Woodfire Eatery. Each voucher is subject to their own terms and conditions.

Entry is open to NZ residents only.

Prize cannot be exchanged or redeemed for cash.

All decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Winner will be drawn randomly on Tuesday, 29th October 2019.

If a winner has not responded to within 5 working days of being contacted, we will re-draw the prize(s).

Winner will be notified via Instagram direct message and comments.

We will not be liable for any loss or damage for personal injury as a result of entering this promotion or winning the prize.

This competition is not endorsed or associated to Instagram or Facebook in capacity.

This article was created in partnership with Park Hotel.

. Wednesday, 23 October 2019 .

I think I discovered why people refer to World of WearableArt colloquially as 'WOW®' - I think it has something to do with the fact that everything about it was so spectacular I kept saying

"wow" every five minutes. Okay, so maybe that 'joke' has been done before but this is my first World of WearableArt experience so that the reference is still very much fresh for me.

Perhaps it was rather serendipitous that we were visiting Wellington just as it was happening. Believe it or not, I first heard about World of WearableArt from my dad! He was telling me he had a colleague from the Philippines with students that entered the awards so they were currently in town for it. You know I'm all for representation and supporting your roots so when I found out that the lovely team from Park Hotel had organised tickets for us to go, I was stoked!

Prior to attending, I was told a lot of there was a category specifically for white coloured garments, so if you've seen my Instagram, you know how much I adore a white palette in clothes and interiors. The show opened with this theme and there was a particular piece that really stood out to me. It was simple, elegant, and extremely wearable without compromising artistry and creativity. A simple white ball gown with long sleeves, made with this gorgeous sheer fabric. Unfortunately I cannot find the image anywhere and we weren't allowed to take photos during the two and a half hour show, but that dress has been etched in my memory. I want it as my wedding dress. It's the piece I envision myself wearing when I run into an ex on the street with their new lover (Princess Diana's revenge dress, anyone?). Heck, I would wear it to the supermarket if I could. Suffice to say I have fallen in love and in my head I have exchanged vows with this dress and we are officially committed to each other.

I didn't know how the show could get any better after that. I had already seen the dress of my dreams just a few minutes in. Luckily, it was literally just the beginning. The sets that followed after that were grander, the production and theatrics got more creative and exciting. There was a particular segment that really stood out to me - the total darkness in the theatre, the deafening silence from the crowd, a single ray of light with a 'diver' slowly descending from above (yeah, there were a lot of aero action involved). My dad and I were literally mesmerised and it was all we could talk about over dessert after (we went to Charley Noble just across the road and tried their edible art dessert entry. It was good).

Throughout the show, there were definitely a few pieces that stood out for us. It was fun seeing the crowd's reaction as they made their way around the stage too! It seems the judges were thinking the same as us too with a lot of the pieces we liked being revealed as category winners n the end. We stayed until all the awards have been called out. We stayed for photos around the lobby. We read every description, got up close and personal with some of last year's designs (there's nothing quite like looking at the detail up close - the intricacy of things can often be missed if you're looking at it from a stage). In other words, we left TSB theatre as World of WearableArt converts! It's easy to see why it's such a Wellington institution and I definitely would love to check it out again next year. Luckily for us, 2020 is already in the works - check it out here.

Images supplied:
1. Soul Guardian, Chang Yi-Wei, Shih Chien University Taipei, Taiwan
2. Sea Urchin Explosion, Jack Irving, United Kingdom
3. Kaitiaki, Lisa Vanin, New Zealand
4. 2019 Supreme WOW Award Runner-up, Woven In-tent, Kirsten Fletcher, Australia
5. 2019 Supreme WOW Award Winner, The Lady Warrior, Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia