Spotted in Huapai, northwest Auckland.

Shrinking scallop mystery

Carol purchased and consumed some of the new season's scallops and although tasty, they were extremely small. "At first, I thought perhaps it was just me but a recent NZ recipe listed 300g scallops as "approximately 16", making each scallop weigh around 20g. I bought two dozen scallops, which weighed a measly 270g - making each scallop 11g or less. What's going on? Are our scallop dredges taking undersized scallops?"

Steer in hot pursuit


Kevin Murphy was enjoying a walk through Churchill Park in Glendowie. "It has some great paths, wonderful views and grazing livestock," he writes. "I walked through a paddock where some young, but very large, steers were grazing contentedly, close to the walking path. Once I reached the high point I stopped to take in the view and saw a young couple, each with a sausage dog on a lead, walking up the same path towards the steers. 'This will be interesting,' I thought. Sure enough, as the couple got close to the steers, the largest one dropped his head and charged the dogs. Every farmer in New Zealand would have laughed, as I did, at the sight of the young couple sprinting for the gate, sausage dogs dragging along behind on their leads, with the steer in hot pursuit!"

Saudi city for ladies only

A Saudi Arabian agency is hoping to build an entire city to be managed and staffed by female employees. Raising women's employment rate is a goal of the kingdom, where until last year, nearly all jobs were held by foreigners and Saudi males, including jobs as sales clerks in women's lingerie shops. (Source: The Guardian)

Good life in the country costs less

OK, so you move out to, say, Whangaparaoa from the North Shore to get a more affordable mortgage. The estimated extra petrol costs ($55 a week) aren't going to make it more expensive than the difference in mortgage payments. Mike Dennehy explains:

"1. You live close to town and have a $500,000 mortgage. Using Westpac's online mortgage calculator, repaying a $500,000 mortgage over 20 years at the current rate of 5.6 per cent p.a., your monthly payments are $3468.

"2. You move out of town and get an affordable house at, let's say, a $300,000 mortgage. Using the same calculator, the monthly repayments are only $2081. The difference looks like this - you will save $320 a week on your mortgage, and pay an extra $55 a week for transport. You're $265 a week better off, and you're on the housing ladder. It gets better: the annual difference is $16,640, but you only have to come into work for a maximum of 48 weeks, so the extra travel works out at $2640 a year. You're better off by a whopping $14,000 a year!"