Friday, 27 February 2015

Working for a living is tough!

I am currently on an assignment reviewing a project and completing its closure report. It's been a great project by all accounts and reading the documentation and speaking with those involved is a pleasure given how well it has been thought through and conducted.

The thing I am finding though is that it's tiring leaving home at 7am to be in town in plenty of time for the start of the interviews and not getting home till after 5pm! How did I used to do that every day?

It was especially tiring yesterday when I had to take the car in as the previous night a tree had fallen on the railway track and electric cables. Of course I was one of hundreds of extra drivers on the road. So it was a 2 hour journey instead of one hour. And today I caught the train which was restful but I am out of practice for getting up early!

We had Bruce and Gary, Errol and Adrian here for dinner tonight and well before they left I was asleep along the couch stretched out (as much as a short person can be) between David and Bruce ... Good thing Joe, the rock star chef, was on duty - he is so much younger than all of us so he has much more energy!

Tomorrow we are going to B&G's for brekkie and for dinner. Perhaps Sunday will be a rest day?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The bedroom blinds are up!!

Today I fitted the brackets for the bedroom blinds - a job that would take Luke 15 minutes, took me about an hour and a half.
  • Find all the tools required - now that is a challenge ...
  • Measure 100mm up from one end of the window frame, 
  • Then use the level to make sure the blinds will be level rather than just a standard height above the window frames in case they aren't level. I also had to make sure that the blinds that are adjacent to each other were lined up at the top.
  • Then make sure that the brackets will be placed on studs or otherwise be prepared to use rawl plugs
  • Mark where to drill 2 holes for each bracket
  • Drill holes and then screw in the brackets
Then David helped me fit the blinds - the brackets are quite easy once you get the knack of them, but until then they are awkward little suckers.

The fabric is Warwick Wrinkle

Dammit, the pillows aren't straight but the blind is fab!
We are delighted with how they look. Thanks, my lovely sister Dee, for helping choose the fabric. Thank you, darling David, for helping me get them up.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Progress in the garden

I am taking a break from the decoration projects at the moment as my forearms and wrists and my right hand are particularly sore from the unaccustomed exercise they have been getting. Waking up in the morning with my right hand stiff, painful and creaky is too reminiscent of my mum’s lupus symptoms to be comfortable …

So instead I have been working on the section a bit – nowhere near as much as David and Rob have been, but every little bit helps. I do bits of weeding in the herb garden outside the kitchen and sunroom and I keep pulling up quite a bit of wandering jew from outside the bedroom where it is regenerating.

David and Rob between them have knocked down a decrepit piece of fence and a block wall between us and one of our back neighbours. Both of them adjoined an illegal greenhouse/lean-to the neighbour has attached to his workshop. When the fence came down the novaroof walls had nothing to hold them in so they were flapping in the fairly strong breeze we had last week. I suggested to Peter that he probably needed to fasten them before they split. So one day when we were out he came over and did so, using a piece of aluminium strapping to screw them to the uprights. When I saw him a few days later, he apologised for how awful the lean-to looked from our side. He’s right - it’s very crappy. But we are going to build a fence in front of it, so we won’t see it, esp when we espalier some plants and fruit trees along the fence.

When he was here on Monday, Rob removed 4 giant impatiens plants around the front of the section – they were giant by name and giant by stature.  His method was very efficient – he used his short-handled grubber to chop at a bit of the root structure and then pulled out the attached branches, repeated and repeated until the whole thing was gone. He then planted a passionfruit vine next to the fence and used the grubber to dig the hole for it. Much faster and easier than using a spade. He has also planted two hibiscus for me recently – an orange one given to us by Derek, Ted and Vanessa as a housewarming pressie, and a bright pink one that I bought. The orange one has a few buds and I will post some pictures when it flowers.
The pink hibiscus

I love the colour

Rob tells me the hibiscuses will grow as tall as we want them to. They are both looking very healthy so I am keen to see how fast they grow.
Rob is amazingly fast and thorough – on Monday arvo he also completed shaping the edge of the garden beside the dining room – that was no mean feat as the ground is rock hard currently as we’ve only had 1.5 days of rain in the last seven weeks. He chopped away several extremely large lilies and trimmed the silver fern outside the dining room, and pruned two very large rhododendrons so they aren’t drooping on the ground in the front yard, His pruning is very thoughtful – when he has pruned a plant you know it’s been done because of the trimmings and because the plant looks smaller. But when looking at the plant you cannot see the cuts. He helped David get the old stove and dishwasher into the skip and cut a branch off the maple in the front yard so it wasn’t impinging on the rhodo below and beside it. The last task of the day was to plant the mandevilla and tie it to the downpipe on the end wall of the garage – it replaces one of the giant impatiens and will look so much more attractive.

Then it was inside for a glass of wine and nibbles with Jack and Sarah before catching the train home to Paekakariki.

On Sunday I used Bruce and Gary’s waterblaster to clean the green algae/mould off the remaining back fence which bounds our place with Graeme and Joy’s. On their side the fence is painted, but on ours it was scungy – until Luke and Rob cleared the trees and garden respectively, we could not see the fence as it was absolutely masked from view by trees, giant lilies and undergrowth. It was good to get it clean enough to paint on Wet and Forget – I’m not going to spray it on as it’ll get all over G&J’s plants and kill them. Once that has done its job, I’ll give the fence a coat of dark paint to give it a bit more protection. Hopefully then it’ll last for a few more years …

Monday I attacked the backing paper of the wallpaper sheets Jack has removed. I got most of it off, but it was then that I decided that I needed to stop because my forearms, wrists and hands were hurting again – important to take your own advice, don’t you think? I wouldn’t be able to get on my high horse about people not taking care of themselves if I don’t do it myself, eh? So I have been on a self-enforced slow down. It is hard but I have to do it or I won’t be in any fit state for boating or anything that requires arm or wrist strength.

So Tuesday’s lone task was to plant Caitlin’s rose. Caitlin is the darling wee grand-daughter we lost to cot death at age 6 months, 6 years ago now. Friends gave us a rose and they had a brass plaque made for our garden. As we were originally going to move into an apartment we had given the rose to Luke and Diane who are friends of Tim and Marta’s. Now they have shifted from their Tawa house and we have moved into this lovely place, Luke asked if we’d like the rose back. Diane brought it out yesterday morning. So I planted it along from the passionfruit vine, against the fence. I also have a yellow daisy bush that was a seedling from the original that we had in Caitlin’s garden at Cherswud. When we settle on a place for that (probably in the cottage garden area we have planned) we will also put the plaque up again, most likely on the to-be-erected fence.

Over the week, David has filled a skip with stuff from around the section – the piles of detritus from the giant impatiens, the stacks of rotting planks behind the garden shed, the contents and framing of a couple of pretty useless compost bins, Rob’s recent prunings, concrete blocks from the wall David demolished, and the old stove and dishwasher, plus a heap of stuff he found up in the attic. 

So, in go Rob and David to rearrange the stove they've just heaved in the skip.

Man-handling appliances

The rear view ...


A few days later - no evidence there's a stove and washing machine at the bottom.

The place is starting to look less like a deforested area and more like a work in progress. We have even started some planting, although there is still a number of plants sitting waiting for their turn ...

New leaves

The new leaf shoots

It’s lovely to see the that the severely trimmed camellias almost all have new shoots making their way through the bark of the remaining branches. At this rate, by next spring they’ll be looking like no trimming ever took place!  Survival is in their DNA.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Busy, busy, busy

I have been too busy to post recently and am still flat out with the final bits of the kitchen redecoration. I have yet to complete the final topcoat on the doors (4), frames and window surrounds and I'm not doing it today because the weight of the roller is making my right hand and wrist sore.

The last things to do, apart from the above, are:
  • take delivery of the new dishwasher (selected, paid for yesterday - due to be delivered and fitted tomorrow or Thursday)
  • receive and fit the splashback - I'm going to glue it on the wall myself (selected, ordered and paid for this morning - due to arrive in 10 working days)
  • receive and have fitted the tiles to go above the up-stands (selected yesterday, ordered this morning - due to arrive sometime in Feb/March ...)
  • decide whether to fit a blind and, if yes, what kind.
We love the new kitchen cupboard doors and the new benchtop and the new paint job - I have painted the kitchen walls the same colour as we had at Cherswud: Resene's Melting Moment which is a lovely soft warm yellow which we think looks great with the dark black/grey benchtop, white t&g-look cupboard doors and grey floor. It is all certainly a great improvement on the formica cupboard doors, pale blue/lavender benchtop and door handles ... Judge for yourselves in the following photos from original to now:
Even tho I started at 6am I was still working when the guys arrived after 9am.

Old style but new paint

David emptying the under sink cupboard
Evan the electrician and David contemplate the fitting of the new rangehood

Dave the worker splits the bench into manageable chunks for removal
Builder's crack ...

Benchtop off and sink out

These are temporarily easier to access ... and had to be moved out for safety's sake ...

The new stove needed a new carcass to sit in as it's not freestanding
Stove carcass in,  drawers coming out for old fronts to be removed

Hugh gets the new cupboard doors on
Ready for hinge adjustment by Dave and new handles by Hugh

Dave gets up close and personal

The first section of the benchtop goes in

Nearly there - up and over so the sink goes in over the framing

In! Only two more sections to go!

Second one waiting
And the third one is going in

A hive of activity - Hamish is refitting all the plumbing stuff - taps, dishwasher, waste disposal
Evan wiring up the new stove, Hugh finishing the undersink cupboard doors. You can see Hugh needs a new pair of trousers!

Hugh cleaning up, Evan is still going - he was first in and last out that day.
So all of that work took place last Thursday - pretty amazing what was accomplished in a day! I started at 6am, Evan was with us for a couple of hours from 8am and came back about 4.30pm and left at about 5.30pm. Hugh and Dave were with us from about 9.30am till about 5pm and Hamish the plumber came in first thing to unhook all taps and remove the dishwasher and then came back about 4 to hook everything up again.

Our friends Jack and Sarah are homeless at the moment (moving in to a new home in Richmond, Nelson in April) and are staying with us for a few days. Yesterday while Sarah and I went to select a dishwasher and tiles, Jack started stripping the wallpaper in the dining room using Janneke and Nico's machine. It is still a very slow job.

I have advertised the job on Student Job Search and included the painting of the ceiling, the painting of the walls ready for papering, painting of all the woodwork. I will hang the wallpaper when all the hard messy stuff is done ...

In the meantime, I need to get the kitchen painting finished - hopefully tomorrow my wrist will be less painful and I will get it over and done with!

EDITED WED AM - painting finished - started at 6 and finished at 9 this morning. Thank heavens for that - I am over painting for the minute! It looks good tho, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Permission not to panic, Mr Mainwaring sir!

Well, the good news is that my panic about the transparency of the paper on the feature wall in our bedroom was needless! As the paper has dried even more over the last week, the paper has lost its transparency and the gib board (sheetrock or plasterboard to people from the northern hemisphere) is no longer showing through. The paper is looking splendid. I AM DELIGHTED! So I don't have a week's worth of additional effort of prep work and replacement which I was not looking forward to at all, given all the other redecoration that is ongoing or in the queue here.

I have painted the kitchen ceiling and put undercoat on the walls over the last two days and I am taking today off. The ceiling needs another coat even though the instructions says one is sufficient - I cleaned the ceiling with sugar soap but I am pretty sure I just moved the dirt around really. Flat paint is hard to clean and probably not the best in a kitchen. The paint has a great feature for application tho - it goes on pink and dries white. It is so good being able to see where I've already painted and where I haven't, esp when I am using the flip-top feature of my neck and head...

With the ceiling looking distinctly whiter than before and the walls quite dazzlingly white with the undercoat, we almost need sunglasses in there! It has confirmed my view that we need a softer wall colour.
The stove is being replaced with a white Smeg underbench oven and a Bosch induction hob. The hole in the wall where the isolation switch was (relocated in to the cupboard up on the right) will be covered by tiles or a splashback, depending on price.

The benchtop and cupboard doors/drawer fronts are being replaced. The tray is needed under the kettle as any drips from teabags are all too visible on the pale blue benchtop - and it stains too easily!
The whole kitchen rejuvenation is due to occur on Thursday - the plumber and electrician are lined up too, the appliances are due to be delivered early this week. So here's hoping it all occurs then. I'll be busy on Monday and some of Tuesday getting paint on the walls, at least within the working area of the kitchen.

The lounge/dining blinds are almost ready to be collected but won't be put up till I've redecorated; and the bedroom blinds can't be too far away. It is coming together slowly but surely!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Redecoration and its associated disaster, but success in another quarter

Last week I had the absolute pleasure of my sister Dee’s company assisting me in completing the bulk of the redecoration of David’s and my bedroom. Before Dee arrived, I had cleaned all walls and stripped the wallpaper off the feature wall and I’d done a couple of coats of paint (with all requisite prep work ) on the window frames, main door and one coat on 2 of the four wardrobe doors.

So on her arrival, we were able to get on to dealing to the remaining tasks before putting the topcoats on the walls and the wallpaper on the feature wall. On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, we:
·      Got 3 coats of white semi-gloss on each of the wardrobe doors, main door and all window frames
·      Painted the skirting boards with 2 coats of the same
·      Put a pigmented sealer on all walls and cleaned up where it had gone over the edges on to the scotia and skirting … oops
·      Painted the 3 walls with the water-based topcoat in Sandfly Point - I don’t know why these colours are named for places in NZ, but they are and mostly the names don’t give any clue to the colour. As an aside a couple of weeks ago Dee and I were in a paint store looking at paint colours and saw one very pale colour we liked the look of on the swatch. When we asked for a test pot we were told it was vivid white – not what it looked like or any reflection of the name … Bizarre indeed.

Dinner on Thursday night was fish and chips - the best I've ever tasted! For some reason Dee thought it was hilarious that I stood on the box to pay for them - if I don't climb on the box I can't see the eftpos machine, so it seems sensible to me. She and other customers seemed to be amused though ...

So Friday was the day for sizing the feature wall and getting the final topcoat on the other three walls - they look amazing. Then it was time for the wallpaper. It went on pretty easily even though it requires a careful match and part of the pattern is totally  flat and other parts are textured – the flat bits on the edges took some keeping stuck to the wall. It was a very hot day and the paste kept drying out along the edges of the paper, so the paste brush accompanied the smoothing out. 
I get it on the wall and matching and then do the cutting around the window frame ...

Then Dee (on her knees like the good christian she is) makes sure the edges are thoroughly stuck down - the gold bits you can see are thinner than the rest of the paper and like to lift away from the wall ...

Making sure there was no undue pressure on the slim piece beside the window by holding the bulk of it on the wall with my knee


We finished at 5.30 and had seven friends coming for dinner at 6pm – we’d prepped the chicken for the main and prepped the starter while waiting for our second load of paste to go off earlier in the arvo, so all that remained to do was clear up the bedroom (Dee’s job) and prep a salad and the potatoes (mine). Two guests were bringing the dessert – yay! Plus of course, before they arrived we had to shower and change as we were pretty much covered in paint and paste…

The room looked fantastic – the painted walls contrasted gently with the white of the doors and window-frames, and the wallpaper looked absolutely amazing. We were suitably proud of ourselves for a job well done.

But disaster was waiting in the wings – on Saturday David and I reconstructed the bedroom and while we were putting the mattress back on the bed frame, I noticed that THERE WAS A BROWN MARK SHOWING THROUGH THE WALLPAPER!!! WTH (slightly less violent than wtf …) So I looked at the wall closely, and as the wallpaper had dried, the paper had become opaque, and therefore needed the wall behind it to be perfectly white/pale all over with no variations in colour. Apparently, according to the wallpaper rep it says the walls need to be even, but either I misread/skipped the part about colour or I had interpreted it as the surface rather than the colour. Bugger! The upshot is that, even though I painted the wall with one coat of a pigmented sealer, I should have given it several coats until the differences between the gib board and the plastered bits were no longer visible. As it is, one coat was insufficient and I can see the brown patches of the gib (23 years old and naturally discoloured, rather than pale beige) under its only previous wallpaper - a solid vinyl - that nothing shows through incidentally. Modern stuff is more expensive and much less substantial. As I said: BUGGER.

So I have to strip the paper off, wash the size and paste off the wall, (1 day’s effort) paint it innumerable times until nothing can be seen through the paint (1 day for each of the innumerable coats, let’s hope 2 more does it), leave it for 2 days to properly cure (as told to me by the paper rep via the store assistant this morning - not in the paint instructions or the wallpapering instructions, damn their eyes). Then it needs to be sanded, dusted and sized (1 day). Then and only then, can I put up the wallpaper again (1 day). Sounds like about a week’s worth of time and effort somehow.

I am feeling a bit demoralized about it and it is too hot to move all of our bedding into the sunroom again and get started on it today, so I have cleaned off a part of the back fence with bleach and planted 2 hydrangeas instead.

I’ve decided I am going to get in touch with Student Job Search to get a couple of students to do the repainting of the bedroom and the lounge dining - based on the number of coats required in the bedroom prior to papering, the lounge will need at least three before its paper goes on and it's a very big room, so a couple of younger fitter people can do that work instead of me. They can also paint the ceiling, and I will do the window frames (six of them), the doors (3) and the skirting boards.

Today I was going to start on the kitchen - the list commences with washing down the walls, filling the gap between the scotia and the ceiling, sanding the cabinet end panels, door frames and kitchen doors (3 - to laundry, dining and hall). I am tired already!

Aha, saved – the electrician is here doing the preparatory work for wiring in the new induction hob which is apparently power hungry and the under-bench stove we’re going to have fitted when the kitchen cupboard doors and benchtop are replaced. So I cannot get anywhere near the walls to clean them down – yay!!

Before I finish this post though there is another success to report. On Friday I rang Gary and asked if he and friend Dave from Taumaranui would be prepared to do a manly task for me on their arrival in Waikanae from the city, while Bruce was still at work there. They agreed and set about putting together the raised vegetable bed. Dee and I had had a go the evening before but the only drill we had was our dad’s one which was too powerful to use effectively as a screwdriver as it burred the screw head before the screw was fully holding the two pieces of wood together. Gary came along complete with the right equipment so all went well. 
Dave and Gary and their creation - complete with wood in the bottom - when I plant troughs on the boat this year I am going to look for sticks for the bottom rather than stones! Apparently they hold in the moisture better and as they break down they provide nutrients for the plants.
They lined it with polythene and put in the bits of tree trunks and branches Rob had bade me to keep. The next morning David put a woolsack of compost into it from Bruce and Gary’s (we’d gone there for brekkie) and then he added the eight x 40 litre bags of potting mix. Given the cost of all materials, I mustn’t buy lettuces anymore this season and next to ensure that the ROI stacks up …

No plants in yet (Sunday morning) but the grateful designer is flanked by her skilled construction team.
Hard to see but a number of plants are in and David has arranged the umbrella so it shades them during the heat of the day. It can be rotated when required by humans at the large outside table ...

There are a number of plants down behind the vege garden that are awaiting planting. There's a tamarillo (Sth American bush more commonly known in my childhood as tree tomato - the most wonderful fruit) and a passionfruit vine. Perhaps tomorrow they will get lucky when Rob is here. Two of the hydrangeas in this pic were planted over by the fence this afternoon. The new leave buds can be seen on the tree fuschia - they have only sprouted since Luke and Rob have cleared that area of trees and undergrowth.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Caption competition – entries and results

And now the news you have been eagerly awaiting:


Les Biggs
·      I have asked if the camera could film my good side.
·      David, I've got her up to £2 each for the extras’ fee.

Alf said his entry was prompted by the comments (I think my note to self re batwings may have been what he was referring to)
·      Come fly with me (sorry 8-) )

Jack Potter (renegade Aussie friend)
·      Local commentator shows viewers what she really thinks of Kiwi tourist

Sandy Valentine-Munn (B&B guest at Cherswud, fan of Joe the rockstar chef, all round good person)
·      Fame at last!

Julie Green (good friend and neighbour to our other good friend Lesley from Walderslade, Chatham, Kent)
·      Walderslade residents outraged over offensive sign language aimed at their famous & favourite Kiwi. Marilyn McDonald wins an official apology.

Ken Wilkinson of Hull
·      David, you can stop blowing now, my hair is dry.

Michelle Curnow (who has featured on my blog when she and her partner Taffy came for lunch and to give me a haircut – valiant effort as they called in and saw us when moored near Scholar Green on their way from Glasgow to Wales. Michelle is now coiffure to the star ...)
·      Hey, any of YEW guys know where I can get a decent haircut?


In third place, we have Les Biggs for his second entry:
·      David, I've got her up to £2 each for the extras’ fee

In second place, we have Michelle Curnow:
·      Hey, any of YEW guys know where I can get a decent haircut?

And the winner is the wonderful Julie Green
·      Walderslade residents outraged over offensive sign language aimed at their famous & favourite Kiwi. Marilyn McDonald wins an official apology.

Les, I will make sure you get a lovely glass of NZ sauv blanc when we next catch up – if Jaq says it’s on the approved list for special occasions, of course!

Michelle, as much wine as you can drink next time we are together, whether that’s for my next haircut or when you next visit us in beautifully sunny and balmy Waikanae.

Julie, your prizes will include the best bottle of NZ sauv blanc or bubbles that I can find when next we see you, AND I’ll donate to you one of the packets of gingernuts that ODS won’t be wanting or needing now she is losing so much weight!

Thank you to all our competitors. Stay watching the blog for further opportunities to win fabulous NZ prizes! Next time it might be something made of merino and possum fur, and Lesley can tell you how special and warm such things are!