Katherine Hayton | BLOG

21 Jul / Kiwi chocolate

Oh, happy days. A Friday afternoon discussion led to the following correspondence with Whittaker’s chocolate:

Sent: Friday, 17 July 2015 5:12 p.m.
Subject: Lolly Cake Chocolate

Sent by: Katherine Hayton

Dear Whittaker’s,

Today our office pod had its usual Friday afternoon discussion about the various flavours of chocolate available, and have decided that if a chocolate maker were to produce a variety of Lolly Cake Chocolate we would definitely be hearty supporters of such a venture.

Do you know of any chocolate makers who would be interested in producing such a flavour?

Kind regards,

I expected this email would drop into the bottomless pit that is a corporation’s ‘Contact Us’ email address, but today I received the following in reply:

Good Afternoon Katherine,

Thank you for your product suggestion. I agree a Whittaker’s lolly cake would be a delicious product!

I have forwarded your email on to our product development manager and she will add your product suggestion to our customer database. We monitor this database with the marketing team to look for product trends so hopefully one day we will be able to consider this further.

Thanks again for contacting us. We hope you continue to enjoy our chocolate.

Kind Regards,
(name of representative removed for privacy reasons, hers not mine, I’ve failed miserably at maintaining my privacy by aggressively marketing myself)

P: +64 4 2375021 | F: +64 4 237 4743
PO Box 50139, Porirua 5024
24 Mohuia Cres, Elsdon, Porirua 5022

Tres excitement.

In case you hale from a country outside of New Zealand, lolly cake is a staple of our wide and varied culture. It is created by taking a packet of malt biscuits*, crushing them mercilessly into crumbs, mixing in sweetened condensed milk and melted butter (because biscuits don’t naturally contain enough fat and sugar) then chopping up an inappropriately named bag of lollies (Eskimos**) and mixing the whole lot together, rolling in coconut and popping in the fridge until set.

We call this baking. We don’t have a lot of call for pastry chefs down here.

Needless to say, the whole thing is absolutely delicious. It would be entirely appropriate for this fantastic tasting foodstuff to then be packaged into little squares, coated with Whittaker’s chocolate, and sold in family size bars. Even more fat and sugar can only be another improvement.

If any peoples of the world would like to help me in my quest, please feel free to drop your own inquiry through to Whittaker’s and see if we can raise some demand.

*Apparently there are some people in the UK who actually eat these as biscuits. You won’t find that happening in New Zealand. We have malt biscuits to make lolly cake, the same way we have reduced cream and onion soup to make dip. They exist solely for the purpose of the recipe we use them in.

**Eskimos are like fruit puffs, but are a tad racist and shaped like old-fashioned Inuit dolls. Yeah, I don’t know why either. I shudder to think the marketing department that dreamed that one up.

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20 Jul / Not fair

Ahem. Before I begin my rant tonight if there are any among you who are germs, or friends of germs, then you may want to stop reading here because offensive language is waiting for you further down the track.

I complained last week about the typhoid Mary that had brought disease into the midst of our pod. A completely inaccurate description because he wasn’t a Mary, and unlike the historical version he’d succumbed to the same disease he spread around rather than just being a carrier.

I complained about him because he’d passed his dirty little germs onto me, and they’d taken up residence in my beautiful warm moist nasal canal.

Over the weekend my spirits waxed and waned in tandem with my illness, but I came through relatively unscathed to join the working classes on a fine Monday morning with little more to show for my internal battle than a sexy-arse voice.

Well. It seems some cousins of my original germ family have decided that they like the view from my nasal cavity and have joined their relatives in squatting in my precious real estate.

Now, I’m okay with getting one cold every six months or so. Thems the breaks for being a social human. Thems also the breaks for being an anti-social human forced into a pretence of being social in order to earn a living.

But to have a cold less than a week after contracting my last cold is just not on. Not to mention that there I was celebrating my fantastic immune system that had run the rhinovirus out of town in less than a week, and I discover that meanwhile it failed to notice a bigger uglier version sneaking in the back.

And I know that this time it’s not going to be an easy ride. Oh no. My internal bits are already downtrodden from the last viral load. They aren’t ready to take another pounding. No wonder new tenants moved in. The inflamed surface must look like nice comfy padding to them.

There are over a hundred people on our floor. That means there are two hundred moist nostrils that these little critters could’ve called home. I suppose I should be flattered they chose me. I should be flattered they dragged their stinking sticky spiky selves into my deepest darkest places. But then again, I should be a lot of things.

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19 Jul / Almost perfect

Having taken a short break off from ginger crunch wars, I think I’m heading into a showdown tomorrow.

To prepare for battle I’ve taken the standard sugar component of the crunch out, and replaced it with a half and half mix of coconut sugar (deeper flavour and dries out the crunch nicely) and raw sugar crystals (adds its own crunch with no effort on my part).

I’ve also used a new dried ginger spice. I don’t know that it makes any difference to the flavour, but it comes in a nicer looking box than the last one I bought, and also had a free recipe for pumpkin soup included in the box.

It was a strange choice of recipe being as how there was no ginger involved in it at all, but I’ll have to wait until I open the second box before I work out whether this was a joke at the packing factory or part of their master plan for expansion by including recipes that contain the spices you haven’t bought yet.

Back to the ginger crunch I used a new twist on the ginger topping. Instead of making a fudge, toffee or standard recipe induced icing, I decided that the topping I love most in the world is a butter cream icing.

It may have its detractors, but if you overlook the cup of butter and three cups of icing that go into your standard buttercream icing (sized up or down) then all you’re left with is milk, and what’s wrong with a nice bit of milk, eh?

In order to replicate the stodge of the traditional topping I did move the proportions a bit, and was left with a lovely thick icing that dried very quickly and appropriately on top of the squares of crunch.

My hand is now exhausted because it was so thick that trying to pipe it through a little nozzle required a lot more effort than your standard cake decoration. I’m calling it my workout for the day. My body is a temple.

For anyone wanting to know how the final version worked out, I’ve included a few photos for your appraisal below.

It’s possible they could have used a tad more icing topping, but as it stands they’re almost perfect.

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17 Jul / Like flies

Working in pods is great. You get to have a chat with your co-workers, and get to know each other.

If you need a hand with something, there’s a captive pool of trainers and mentors awaiting you.

If you break open a cake of chocolate, you can guarantee that you won’t be the only one to eat it, and you find out what other human beings do on the weekend that you can never be bothered to do yourself.

Unfortunately there’s a downside to this particular brand of companionship. It comes in the form of viruses that use the closeness of our office relationship to spread their viral families and buy cheap real estate while we’re looking the other way.

There’s actually another downside which is if you’re an introvert it’s very hard to get your alone time to recharge your batteries when in such close proximity, but that will keep for another day.

On Monday there was a person in our pod who started to feel unwell. On Tuesday the same person was far sicker, but misery loves company so they dragged themselves into work to breathe their horrible, virus laden breath into the previously uncontaminated air that their pod buddies were also breathing.

On Wednesday, the ill person didn’t show. Everyone else did, but one had to leave early because they, too, had fallen ill.

On Thursday the same two staff were away, and another two staff members were starting to feel a bit off-colour.

This would’ve been an interesting study in the social life of disease, except I was one of those two staff members.

Not happy. Not interested. Except in grumbling. Man flu sometimes crosses the gender boundaries, you know.

Today was Friday and what would usually be the best day of the working week was instead full of coughing, spluttering and headaches. Pounding, pounding headaches.

It was also full of sugar. Sweet, sweet sugar. Diet’s out the window again. Those odd wee virus bodies moving through my bloodstream, not to mention my mucus stream, have powerful cravings that laugh in the face of my willpower.

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Dotted around our workplace (and the country) are some people who’ve been there forever. Comparatively.

If you have a question about our laughably old computer system, these are the go-to folk.

Unfortunately, that’s so well known that it becomes awkward calling them all the time. Especially when the thing they’re being called about is meant to be within our area of expertise.

I may not have a lot of time in the office to spare, but I do have a lot of stubbornness. So do some of the mini-mes my team is populated with.

So when we discovered an error we didn’t have a solution to this week did we call up the helpful guy who knows everything?

Did we hell.

We put needless time and effort into finding out all the various methods we can use on our system to not fix our error. We found files that didn’t need to be deleted, databases that didn’t need to be updated, and forlorn instructions from decades past that are so out of date even revising them would just make us feel sad and old.

After trolling through everything known to man that we could find, we called in the experts. Not the expert we were avoiding calling, but the people who used to know what they were doing back in the day and who still have the misfortune to work within shouting distance of our team.

We also called the computer system a variety of names which we felt positive would engender a much-needed result, and then called it the opposite of those for the same reason.

We, and by this time I’d given up too so it was really just my team member slogging it out alone, tried doing a slo-mo replay of the process that had resulted in the error to see if there was anything we missed.

We discovered a new way of searching through documents, some reports that will make other team’s lives easier, a truckload of stuff that should probably be consigned to cyber heaven, but did we find the answer?

Of course we did. We phoned the guy we weren’t going to phone and he told us.

The error took approximately seven seconds to fix in the end, so that was a day well spent.

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After waking up at the ungodly hour of four o’clock this morning, I have worked hard all day (some paid, some unpaid) and am happy to say that I’ve finally finished my latest manuscript.

And when I say finished, I mean I’ve sent it off to a proofreader and I’ll probably start making another slew of corrections in a few week’s time.

But for now that’s in the future. I’m just happy to be done with it for the moment, and if I could still drink I’d have a glass of champagne to celebrate.

Now I get to go back to the fun part of writing, designing the book cover.

Oh, and the book blurb. Can’t forget that. Sometimes it’s the best bit!

Formatting, reformatting, trying to get rid of that mysteriously blank page in the middle. All of that lays before me like a funpark ride that’s broken down in the rain.


That wasn’t an order, I just remembered that’s something celebratory that I can actually have it (don’t tell my doctor).

Well, for the next ten minutes until I go to bed it’s going to be a full-on party at my house.

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12 Jul / 1st to 3rd

Well, the weekend is drawing to a close and my highlight today was having a beautiful french lamb rack.

My local supermarket had packed them up and frozen them, and then something terrible had happened and they’d defrosted and had to be sold at a knock-down drag-out price.

While I was looking at them, certain all the while that they couldn’t be frozen because it was on labels all over them, I started to calculate how many I could buy and freeze for a future date.

I know, right? Personally I think we’re arriving at the supermarket far too early. My brain needs time to wake up long after my body has put in the hard yards.

The rest of my weekend, aside from the work I was complaining about bitterly yesterday, was tied up in doing the fantastic task of editing.

A task that is usually full of thrills and chills (yeah, where’s my sarcasm mark when I need one) was rendered even more intolerable by the decision to change my beautiful 1st person manuscript into third person.

The best advice on this was proffered by my current editor who noted that people don’t read books all at once, and when they pick them up it’s easier for them to orient themselves if it’s written in third person.

I get that. It wasn’t really necessary that my manuscript be in 1st person. I’m quite happy to make my reader’s lives easier.

I am no longer happy to do that.

It is too late to stop now.

All of the ‘I’ changes to ‘she’ and ‘my’ changes to ‘her’ are driving me mental. Not to mention that I got sick of doing them individually so used Word to find and replace. That means all the dialogue has to be turned back the other way, and I haven’t managed to turn every possible punctuation source into every other possible punctuation result so there’s still many, many changes to make.

There’s also the problem that ‘me’ occurs inside a lot of other words. I asked word to change only the ‘me’ formats that had a space after them, but this also left me changing the theher back to theme and the meher back to meme.

Couldn’t I hire a child to do this for me her? Apart from the work regulations and me her not having any, I she meant.

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11 Jul / The work week

Not getting enough of work during the week, I spent a half day today back in the office letting work eat up my weekend.

Granted, I would otherwise have simply been sitting on the couch and watching television, but…


That is how I choose to spend my leisure time. That’s all the clue you need as to what I’d rather be doing.

On the other hand, it was pretty sweet being in there almost alone, and not remembering to keep jumping up every half hour to keep the air conditioning going. Luckily the lights don’t require quite that much work or I would have been seriously snitty by the end of it.

It’s odd how during the week working a half day seems like a treat, and by the weekend seems like a burden.

Still, it’s over now. I should stop complaining.

However, I often don’t do what I should, so I may just continue for the rest of the evening.

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09 Jul / I object

End of financial year has been and gone. Back when I was a humble (yeah, right) processor, EOFY was the busiest and most stressful time. Everything needed to be done. Everything needed to be loaded. Everything needed to be paid and married.

The joyful part was knowing that once I got past that I could relax. EOFY comes but once a year, and unlike Christmas it doesn’t even leave me out of pocket.

I’m here to tell you that’s where the good times are. In the rank and file of the office. In the nameless hordes that run the country while the upper echelons make noise. Workers unite.

But, oh no, I wanted a pay rise. Oh no, I wanted to have more influence in the workplace. Oh no, I didn’t heed the suitcase-sized bags under the current team leaders’ eyes and thought ‘how hard could it be?’

It could be MUCH hard. MUCH hard, indeed.

EOFY is a picnic now. Get it on, get it all on. How simple and perfect is that ambition? How easy it would be to just do that and then get back to your normal pace of life.

But no. There is no normal pace of life. EOFY, tick.

Next comes Performance Reviews. Not even begun, tick.

What happens when that’s all locked in? Do I get to relax? Oh, no. Relaxing is for plebs.

I get to set objectives. I hate them so much sometimes I want to cry, tick.

Due to the weirdness of my glorious team, I get to create four different sets of objectives. Three for them, and one for me.

The remainder of the office have standard staff objectives which I seem to have endlessly contributed to this week in what feels like some enormous groundhog day prank, and standard team leaders objectives which, ditto.

They don’t apply to my staff. They don’t even apply to me. Why doesn’t everyone go away and leave me alone? Where has my sense of humour gone?

My only joy is that someday, far away at the end of August while I’m sunning myself beside the pool in the most perfect holiday spot in the world, I’ll look back on this time and I’ll
shriek hysterically
wish drugs were legal.

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