Friday, 20 January 2023

We interrupt this broadcast

 to bring the news you will no doubt already have heard - that our wonderful World Famous Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is not standing for re-election and is stepping away from Parliament.

To say we are saddened is an understatement. 

However, we are fully supportive of her decision and we can understand when she says she doesn't have enough left in the tank for another 4 years. 

She has done an amazing job over the last 5.5 years as our PM, and she has dealt superlatively with extremely difficult crises - a terrorist attack, a bio-security threat, a volcanic eruption and a pandemic (our death toll from COVID-19 is ~2400 in total - the UK and the US were losing that many people a day; and size of population notwithstanding, proportionately that is a significantly lower death rate than almost all other countries). She and her team are currently dealing well with local cost of living pressures brought on by the global financial crisis. 

After the terrorist murdered 51 people.


She has used her position to further and finalise Free Trade Agreements with the UK, with the EU, with the USA and countries in Asia. 

She has established and delivered on policies to 

  • legislate to make the ownership illegal of semi automatic and automatic weapons - 6 days after the Christchurch shooting with legislation enacted within a month
  • reduce child poverty here in NZ - 
    • Family Tax Credits, Working For Families tax relief, 
    • increased benefit payments
    • increased the minimum wage
    • legislated for a living wage
  • remove food insecurity through the school lunch programme that provides a million lunches a day across the country in the schools where the most need exists
  • address the housing shortage brought about by the previous government selling off most of our social housing (state houses) stock and investors buying multiple houses for renting out (or leaving empty for the tax break on mortgage interest and to build untaxed capital gains) rather than living in
  • put much more funding into health so that District Health Boards are delivering health services rather than servicing debt
    • put significant funding into mental health services to increase access to counselling, psychiatric services, ...
  • create job and career opportunities for young people by restoring the apprenticeship schemes that used to exist and were abolished under previous governments
  • provide for free the first year of tertiary education  
  • supported businesses during the lockdowns so they could keep staff employed and:
    • pay wages, 
    • cover their expenses
    • help cover their own income.

We currently have, under her leadership and with her team, a significantly lower inflation rate than many of the countries we measure ourselves against and we have less than 3% unemployment.

She is extremely well respected around the world for her leadership style.

She is incredibly intelligent both emotionally and intellectually, and has a prodigious memory for facts and their mutuality and interconnectedness. She has been an incisive leader who has built a strong team that uses their strengths to advance the wellbeing on all New Zealanders. What's more she always acknowledges the contribution of her team and shares the kudos while taking on herself the slings and arrows, the vitriol and the misogynistic hate.

And FFS, has she received 1000 times more of those than anyone deserves - from the extreme right-wing that most of us didn't know existed here in NZ until 2021, from the gullible who have swallowed every recent conspiracy theory going without stopping to chew or ruminate. Much of the right-wing extremism has been imported from the USA and was starting to appear before our last election in 2020 - Cambridge Analytica made their presence felt at that time when they wanted to work with Winston Peters to upset Labour's election chances. That didn't work (landslide) but the door was opened, especially as anti-vaccination misinformation, lies and outright nuttery made its way in. 

None of it was helped by the mainstream media who for some reason (probably the agenda of their owners) turned against the government and Jacinda in particular. Almost overnight they stopped being a help in getting information out to people and started being Trivial Pursuits competitors - who could ask the most inane and trivial questions? who could frame complex questions in a simplistic (not simple) way and ask it demanding a yes/no response - they played fast and loose with the truth, asked gotcha questions and all in all acted just like Fox News  - that non-informative channel known by me as Faux Noise... They certainly stopped reporting and increased their opinion pieces dressed up as fact - but only loosely dressed: mostly the nakedness of their deceit was visible. And their editors, always with an eye to the ratings for 'news' as entertainment - not infotainment - were very skilled at leaving the factual stuff on the cutting room floor and only playing the bits that cast the government in bad light - regardless of the effect on the population.

But gosh, the 12 second soundbites were attention grabbing and sounded valid ...

And then there are the Opposition politicians - no policies, apart from if the government suggests it, there is an automatic NO - even if it was previously one of the their own ideas, e.g. the Three Waters legislation for clean and safe drinking water, waste water/sewage and storm water. (Note that the National govt when in power was keen to introduce water safety legislation - however their intent was to make it possible to privatise it ...)

OK, I need to stop - I am getting angry all over again.

I will finish by saying that Jacinda Ardern is the best Prime Minister of my lifetime and probably in the top 3 of all time - and I can't think who the other two are.

A woman of integrity and all it encompasses, a woman of compassion, empathy with a mind and an intelligence like a steel trap. A true leader - a leader who serves rather than dictates, a leader who uses power to rather than power over. 

 An amazing woman - she makes me proud to be a New Zealand woman, and I am privileged to have been living here during her tenure.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Weddings, friends and beautiful places to be

 Since I last wrote, we have:

  • had a night at Alan and Greg's place in Rolleston
    • we had intended to visit them but stay overnight at the NZMCA Park at Weedons. However when we arrived they invited us to stay. So I manoeuvred the motorhome on their sloping driveway - across it with the ramps under the driver side wheels so we weren't anymore off-balance than we already are ...

Greg and Alan with David and me at their place

I sent this photo to Derek in the morning, after Alan had gone to work.

    • such a good night of catching up. I drank some chardonnay - as a test, you understand, to see if it still had a deleterious effect on me. Not so bad as I remembered ...
  • attended Gavin and Deb's wedding at Waipara Adventure Centre near Amberley.
    • a lovely wedding the celebrations (pre, during and post) went from Friday afternoon to late Sunday morning. 
    • Joy Cowan and I did the last minute shopping for food and I didn't buy any shoes, nor did I buy a raincoat (having left all of the 5 that I own back in Waikanae...)
    • we were camped down in the lower wooded and beautifully shaded area with Joy and Jim (he was the celebrant) in their poptop camper plus awning and gazebo, Shane and Glenda in their Swift caravan, while the rest of the guests were accommodated in bunkrooms up at the centre. 

Lovely shade - so necessary on the extremely hot days we've been having.
    • It was wonderful to spend time with Joy who I knew through work at DOC and to meet and get to know her husband Jim. He is a really interesting guy whose current job is men's advocate for Women's Refuge. See why he's interesting?
    • I took on doing the Facetime videoing for people who couldn't attend - Gav's parents and friends in the UK. I do enjoy that role, especially being able to get people to interact with the watching audience...


I'm not entirely sure what Deb was saying to Gav here, however he was very clear about how much he loves her.

    • I drank 2 glasses of chardonnay and one glass of fizzy wine and found that the effects of wine-drinking that caused me to give it up a year ago still prevail, so there will be no more!
  • had a night staying with Dean and Phaedra in Oxford where Dean's parents, Raewyn and Alan arrived shortly after us. I remember attending their wedding so many years ago - Raewyn is a cousin (2nd or 3rd, I think, but the closest relatives on his mother's side in NZ) of my first husband, Lou. 
    • it was lovely to see all of them, including Dean and Phaedra's son Liam who was part of the team on the Alexander Roaster and Battery remediation
    • Dean has some pet sheep - they really are very tame and have established their timetable for being fed sheepnuts. Woe betide Dean if he's late! They are very effective at calling him in concert at 6am and late in the afternoon ...

Dean and the sheep. The one with the mohawk in the back row is a self shedding sheep whose wool just falls off.

  • travelled over Arthur's Pass across the Main Divide on the most gloriously sunny day - such beautiful mountains and valleys that look spectacular in the sun, just as they do when snow-covered under a lowering sky, to be fair. Amazing terrain and a fabulous drive.
    • we stopped just above the Otira overbridge as the phone rang and it was Marta (our former daughter in law) calling from Scotland. Lovely to talk with her, as always.
  • called in to the supermarket at Hokitika for essential supplies and to the bedding shop where I got a new pillow for David who had complained his neck was getting sore. The bedding shop had combined with my favourite shoe shop and I did buy a pair of shoes
  • headed for Lake Mahinapua to stay 2 nights at the DOC site there with Ian and Irene who had made their way down the West Coast to meet up with us.
    • because they had been cooking one pot dinners on their single gas hob for the last few weeks, I did dinner: salmon, feta and silverbeet quiche, salad and new potatoes 

The quiche. I have worked out (after 4+ years) that baking things need to go right up near the top of the motorhome oven - didn't take me long, did it?

Pre-dinner nibbles were coming to an end so David decided to finish off the cheese, it being inefficient to put it away in the fridge...

    • I took David, I&I to the Treetops Walk (I waited and bought t-shirts and a raincoat and had a coffee and a piece of gingercrunch). 
    • Then took them into Hokitika so they could do the laundry while I had lunch with Fiona, Vicki and Hutchy. Fiona and I worked together on the mine remediation projects, Hutchy works in DOC too (not sure what her role is), and Vicki used to own and run the motel I stayed in regularly for 18 months - she and I used to drink oaky chardonnay together ...

L-R Fiona, Vicki, Hutchy, me in Fiona's back garden. Lunch was amazing sandwiches from the Hokitika Sandwich Company - very delicious. I am not sure that I paid Fiona for mine ... Must check up with her!


    • filled with water at Fiona's house while she was at work, and at the Challenge petrol station, we got an issue with one of our gas bottles resolved, filled the other bottle, bought an icecream each (magnums) and headed back to the lake
Once back at the lake, we all stopped Irene going inside to blog - she was concerned that Mary (owner of the little camper) would think something had happened if there was no blogpost. So I sent these photos to Mary to show all was well and that we (they) had been very busy getting the washing done. It still needed airing on our return so out it went on the Seigfried Lines - including Irene's knickers which can be seen if you look closely enough ...

I hung our sheets and pillowcases on a guy rope that doubled as a washing line and the small stuff went on the octopus which I hung on the bike rack.


  • in a convoy the next day, we travelled to the site of the Brunner mine and walked the Memorial path. An amazing place, one of the Tohu Whenua - places of our stories. DOC does a phenomenal job restoring and preserving these sites and making them accessible for people to visit and learn our history.
  • then hugs goodbye as we were heading for Murchison and we had persuaded I&I to go to Nelson Creek, given Shantytown is closed for renovation. 
    • It was a very windy (both long i and short i) drive for us until we got to the Upper Buller Gorge
    • I was driven to distraction by the sandflies in Murchison - probably because I sat under a tree rather than out in the open (smothered in insect repellent which they just had to investigate ...). 
    • Also I was really tired - poor sleep the night before (awake from 2am to 4.30am). I have discovered that zero alcohol beer has the same effect on my sleep as wine with alcohol... Ah well, good to discover these things so they can be eliminated from my diet.
    • I&I complained that it was very windy at Nelson's Creek and they couldn't put the awning up

On Thursday we headed about an hour or so up the road to a POP (ParkOver Property) in Tapawera thinking maybe we would go for a bit of a bike ride (just so the bikes can get down off the rack this trip... (Update: no, the bikes stayed hoist on their own petard - it was too hot for going riding. Blobbing and blogging instead.)

And then Friday we are going to stay a couple of nights with Ann and Salvi  (double yay!!) before heading to Koromiko on Sunday and home on Monday.

Then the packing can start in earnest!

In the meantime though, I will do another post which will be only photos and captions. There are just too many for one post to support ...

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

In the South Island

 A week or so before xmas, our lovely friend Melita was in Sydney and caught up with Kirsty. She delivered on her promise to send a photo of the two of them - yay!

Two beautiful women who we love dearly.

In March our wonderful elder grandson, Olek, is arriving in NZ for a 6 week sojourn, mostly with us. Apart from the shenanigans of moving into Parkwood, we plan to be out exploring the upper North Island in the motorhome. To save 18 year old Olek the indignity of sleeping for several weeks in the same space as his elderly grandparents who probably snore and definitely get up at night for watering purposes and who'll wake up early (not teenage hours) for cups of tea, his kindly grandparents have purchased a tent (two person) and a camp stretcher so he has his own sleeping quarters.

One fine (for obvious reasons) morning David quietly snuck out to put the tent up - partly to see if he could and partly to check it was all there. He snuck out so that he got to do it without me interfering/chipping in with advice, taking over helping. By the time I came through the house and then outside to see a) why my plaintive calls for my 4th cup of tea had not been heeded, and b) what he was up to, he had the inner of the tent constructed and the bed put together. I was only nee3ded for two things: a) help get the bed in the tent, and b) help insert the strut that holds the vestibule (fancy schmancy...) up.

Tent inny with vestibule strut in place, bed at the ready ... Bag, bag of stakes, canopy on the ground - discarded as not required for this exercise!

I wonder if I'll be more successful in calling for tea from here?

Only the inner structure - it's a 2 person tent, but that appears to presuppose sleeping on the cold hard ground and we couldn't do that to Olek!

The miracle is that both tent and camp stretcher fitted back into their respective bags - that has always been a hassle. Not that we camp in tents mind you, but the kids used to and the bags their tents came in were always microscopic, as if the tent and poles and stakes and guy ropes had been vacuum packed and hermetically sealed in the bag, never to be re-inserted in their entirety. But these are Kathmandu brand - designed for the fashion conscious who don't have time to do that puzzle. And to be fair, we mostly bought quite cheap tents for the kids based on our income level at the time.

We have actually purchased two tents and two campstretchers because Kirsty has decided she would like to come and spend time with us while Olek is over here. And as she wants to be part of the extended family visiting, we decided to spare her the sharing of the motorhome sleeping space as well.

The other very kind thing we have done for them is to launder the Argos sleeping bags - they are fabulous, double sized, but so large they do not fit in our washing machine. So I dropped David and the two sleeping bags off at the local launderette which has GIANT machines. I'm not sure how much cleaner they are but they spent that very hot day out in the back garden drying and being turned over regularly, and they were sent out for more airing the following hot day. So the burning hot sun will have helped in the cleaning and freshening process.

We are now having 12 days in the South Island - we were invited to a wedding in Amberley, and decided we would take advantage of the opportunity to have a wee holiday. And because the weather here on the eastern side of the Main Divide is purported to be baking hot - suitable for scones and pastry in the open air - we decided to head for the West Coast, where we can go to see friends and not be so overcooked.

In preparation for the 12 days away, David made hummus and falafels. He decided to go out on a very slim limb and use the slap dash method of measuring by handsful, as his wife does... Still and all, he felt the need to divide the soaked chickpeas up before using the food processor.

But he had to check to make sure his slapdash method wasn't too discrepant ... 50gm difference between the lightest and heaviest bowls, in case you are interested!

 We managed to share the bench reasonably successfully - I was baking bread and preparing lunch for guests. I think the two photos above were taken on bread making day because that yellow egg poaching pocket is what I use to measure the starter for the poolish (leaven). Only 6 loaves this time, and I baked it the morning before we left home. I only gave away one - to Jillian in return for a dozen lemons.

When we booked our trip there were not many sailings available - tourists are back and it's school holidays and statutary holidays for the xmas/new year period as well. So it was a late evening sailing. That did mean we had the whole day to get ready - and we needed it, because Melita and her family are going to stay in the house for a few days, and she is a much better housekeeper than we are...

That's Paul and Nigel's house between the two right hand lamp posts. I messaged Paul and we waved while waiting in line.

We arrived at the terminal quite early - it was the last day of the stat holidays and we thought the traffic into Wellington could be quite heavy. But no! We went in on SH59 (the old road in local parlance) and there was almost no traffic at all. Bliss!

When we were lined up I made a cup of tea and a tomato sandwich each thinking we had a while to wait. But no sooner had a I sat down and the vehicles in front of us moved forward about 50metres. We followed and sat eating peacefully but watchfully...

A lovely sailing - we found a table in the bar area (no children), David watched the cricket, I read. But it was a very late night for me in particular! We headed a few minutes down the road from the ferry terminal at Picton, to the Parklands Marina Holiday Park at Waikawa Bay, where we have been a few times. Lovely place. We crept in as quietly as possible and Nick and Hayley had left a space for us pretty close to the entrance which required no manoeuvering (FFS, I can never spell that word!), just drive straight on to it, close doors as quietly as possible ...

I think I posted that on Facebook at about 1.15am or thereabouts - exceedingly late for me!

Yesterday we headed south after a quick shop at Picton. We fetched up here at Donegal House just on the outskirts of Kaikoura. $20 per vehicle a night with power or without. Cheap but eating at the pub was not! Nice food though. The guy who runs the place is steeped in the family history of Irish emigration. You can read about it here: Donegal House

All of the sites have Irish family names. This is the view out behind us - a mountain range of course - we ARE in the South Island


And the view out the door of the motorhome. That is a mountain, not a hill, okay! - I will need to look it up to find out what it is called.

OK, up to date, so I had better go and shower and get ready to head away. 

Today we are going to visit Greg and Alan in Rolleston (we met them in Hanmer Springs when camping nearby each other and found friends in common). And tomorrow we head back up to Amberley to meet up with other wedding guests. Some of them I will know because I worked with Gavin and Deb in DOC in Hokitika and Greymouth when I was doing the mines remediation work. Gavin was the Works Officer who was my customer - the sites were in his bailiwick for maintenance once remediation was complete. I am expecting to see Jim too - Jim was the mover/nagger behind getting the Waiuta work done. I am keen to find out who else will be there that I know.😊😍

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

A brief Taranaki sojourn, a peaceful Xmas, holding David back, and shopping

Taranaki Sojourn

On the Sunday before Xmas, after a fun dinner here the previous night at Cafe Rata with Rob, Glenn, Jane and Simon (caramelised onion, brie and mushroom pies; asparagus; plus corn, avocado and tomato salad followed by roasted stone fruit) we headed off to Taranaki. We had a snooze stop at Whanganui for half an hour or so and then on to Waitara to stay with my lovely sister Dee and family at the Holiday Park. I forgot to take any photos but it was lovely to see them all. Dee and David and I had brunch in town on one morning and bought reef shoes - somehow we have lost our former pairs of them. They will turn up very soon of course, having been put somewhere safe and obvious, never to be found again ...

We wanted to have a couple of nights at Tongaporutu so we collected Judy from Onaero and headed north. Jim was going to come up for dinner and they'd head home after that. However, as we approached Wai-iti the heavens opened, the sky was extremely black and we almost turned around and headed back to Onaero. The rain through the Mimi Valley was torrential - mimi is Māori for urine - and it was pissing down! I'm not sure why we persisted, but I think in the main it was because we had already driven 200 miles to get there and I really wanted to touch it again - more aptly, I wanted it to touch me. It's the place I consider my turangawaewae, the place where my roots are, so to get so close and not do that seemed wrong. Also, I never worried about rain up there as a child and teenager - it's where I started my mantra of 'it's only water'.

It was still raining when we arrived, so we had decided we wouldn't stay overnight - the access to the best spots for camping can be a bit dodgy in/after heavy rain. So we parked in the day visitors' carpark and the sun came out! Yay!!

Judy and I decided we would go for a walk around the front and it was just wonderful to be there.

The river mouth at low tide

Two happy women, facing away from State Highway 3 which you can see in the background on the other side of the river.

The mud and sand (mostly mud) to be traversed - that round rock is one of those accretions I am sure I have posted about before. It came down from the cliff above a few years ago, and I am amazed it was survived the twice daily tides.
The most seaward of the Sisters - used to be number 2 of 3 but is now about number 4 because of the erosion happening on the Taranaki Coast

There's 4 in view there and more forming from the eroding cliffs - the farm up there is getting smaller ...

There they are again

That greenery was at the top of the cliff before...

There's those women again!

There were several people who took advantage of the break in the weather to do the walk - lovely to see people enjoying it. Judy and I encouraged some Harley Davidson riders (younger than us but not young) to go around - they did, but went in their biking gear. We didn't stay around to see the state of their boots and leathers when they got back... But, honest, I had suggested they take them off!

We had planned to stay the night at Onaero parked in Jim and Judy's driveway, but on the way back, Judy had a text to say that the woman she'd been at yoga with that morning had tested positive for Covid. So on with our masks in case Judy was already harbouring and incubating the virus. We dropped her off and headed for Hāwera - and just in case, we weren't prepared to go back to Waitara where we would come into contact with numerous people ...

So we stayed at the Hāwera NZMCA park - a very quiet location and were up and away heading home early in the morning - so early that we didn't have brekkie till we got here!

We've tested negative each time since then, so have dodged that bullet again thankfully.

A peaceful Xmas

We were pleased about that, because we would not have been happy having to miss out on Xmas dinner at Bruce and Gary's. It's a shared pot luck meal and is always yummy. David and I avoided the meats (ham, turkey, lamb) and indulged in the vegetables as well as the salads that I took (potato; coleslaw with vinaigrette; avocado, corn and tomato with lemon, honey and ginger dressing) plus caramelised onion, brie and mushroom pies.

Boxing Day breakfast was at ours - there were lots of new potatoes left over from xmas dinner so I suggested that the chaps come up for breakfast and I'd do the things that went with the potatoes. Gary brought bacon; and because I didn't have enough eggs to do scrambled or poached for 8 people, I made a quiche with sauteed onions, silverbeet, salmon, feta, parsley, eggs, cream and cheese. It was yummy - thank you, Sarah, for the inspiration. Along with baked beans, sourdough toast, bacon, asparagus, and a medley of onions, mushrooms and capsicum, I am fairly sure no one left still feeling hungry. Leith brought along some sparkling red wine - an Italian one that could easily have me resile from being a non drinker ...

 Holding David back

David has for some reason decided that he needs to start packing (and get me to start packing) the house up NOW - and it's 6 weeks until we have to move out. (I know we are going away for a couple of weeks in that time, but even so, there's plenty of time - two weeks would be sufficient, honestly.)

Even though I had said to him once we had an unconditional offer on the house that I did not want to have the next 2 months living in a semi- or partially-packed up house, he has not been able to resist. So given he has been sorting the attic (i.e. bringing things down and placing them in the most inconvenient places), and sorting his former office (i.e pulling crap out of the wardrobe and placing it in the most inconvenient places), I have got increasingly stressed.

Gentle reminders and gentle requests had zero effect. So I had a tantrum - mini, by my standards, but there was no doubt I was very pissed off   grumpy ... (Please note that the situation has been rectified and things are being sorted but are proactively corralled now. However I notice the op-shop pile keeps being added to ...)

Apart from the house looking like a tip or an auction house or an op-shop, the things that made me grumpy were:

  • being required to ooh and aah at his progress** (didn't look like progress to me; it just looked like more widely spread mess) ** there is a wonderful book called Reflecting Men at Twice their Natural Size - I think of it often when required to give praise...
  • the way his crap/tat/equipment started spreading out around the house:
    • in the hallway - stuff I needed to review for whether it should go to the op-shop (aaarrrggghhh)
    • in the sunroom (which had formerly been my office and was then cleared for the sale process - and I liked the way it looked, just as I'd liked the way David's office had looked when it was cleared for the same reason - how short-lived was THAT, I ask you (double aaarrrggghhh)
    • in our bedroom under a desk he'd parked there alongside another table with the printer on it so it was out of his way in his office (triple aaarrrggghhh)
  • knowing that he would keep doing this until mid-February and that one or the other of us would be dead by then - if the dead one was him, I'd be in police custody and there'd be no need for the villa at Parkwood, unless of course, a jury of women would refuse to convict me!

 So, as noted above (praise where praise is due) the mess/tat/crap has been retrieved and confined to his office, apart from the stuff that is still accumulating in the hall for a trip to the op-shop. I've already been there about 5 times and will go again on Saturday morning.

I've done a recce of my tat (Lesley will be pleased to know) and have selected a number of cups and saucer sets that I can live without - the aim is to reduce my china cabinet count from 3 to 2. I have been in touch with Kirsty's friend Lisa to see if she would like some of the ones I can live without. She is coming out tomorrow. If there are any that Lisa doesn't want, I will take them to the op shop. I am planning to take a few to Scotland for Marta next year, so will sort them and pack them.

Please don't think that I am depriving Kirsty of them - she wants a couple of them (to remember me by perhaps ...) but has long declared that they are not her style.


To ensure David didn't spend the day sorting and spreading and packing, (well not after 9am anyway - he did start at 5.30am though) we headed off to Palmerston North to 

  • choose material for roman blinds for the lounge and our bedroom at Parkwood, 
  • buy a new topper pad for the murphy (drop-down) bed in the sunroom - the current one is tatty and we'd like to leave a nice one for the new owners
  • buy a couple of light fittings for the Parkwood house that the Paraparaumu store didn't have.

I'd checked out Spotlight's range online but the fabric I'd tentatively selected wasn't available (doh - why was it on the website?) and one I saw in store wasn't going to be available for about 16 weeks, even if then... 

So off to Guthrie Bowron's where I'd purchased the fabric for our current bedroom's blinds 8 years ago. We found some very lovely fabric, very similar to the bedroom blind material, and that was an instant yes.

For the blinds in the lounge and dining area, I have chosen the same fabric in a dark grey.

It was a good day to be shopping using the car to move between spread out places (Palmerston North could definitely not be described as compact). It's been very very hot and the UV rating has been excessive. Aircon on in the car and a husband who fell asleep on the way home...

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

It's all change again

 It is a long time since I posted and I have been wanting to from almost the day after I put the last post up. However I had to wait until things were settled.

We have now been resident in Waikanae for 8 years, and having moved out here from the house we bought in 1980 that I wanted to be my forever home, I was clear that we were not moving again. However about 3 weeks after we moved in to this house in late 2014, ACP told me that he wanted us to sign up for retirement villages here. It would not be an overstatement to say that I exploded! I had just moved out of the house I'd been the prime mover in renovating into a beautiful home that I didn't want to leave, only to be told that the place we had just moved into and which I was declaring my allegiance to by starting the redecoration process and the garden restoration process was purely temporary. FFS in loud capitals! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Much unhappiness ensued - I felt betrayed and conned. I could understand why David wanted to get our names down in retirement villages as he had just coped with his dad's Alzheimer's and he wanted us to be prepared in case ill health struck either of us and meant one of us would need fulltime care. But even so - his timing was not well considered...

So after I calmed down and reluctantly said okay, I'd sign on but I was NOT under any circumstances moving anywhere for ages, we investigated and found the place we most wanted to eventually (note the emphasis) move into was Parkwood Retirement Village, and we signed up to their waiting list. (Check them out here.) At the time, the wait was about 5 or 6 years. So every year or so, we would go and visit Debbie at Parkwood and let her know we were waiting and seeing and not yet ready. 

In the last couple of years, with David's eye hassles and the prostate cancer, we have moved on in our thinking, to the point that when we were considering our now annual visit to talk with Debbie, I said I was almost ready to be ready to move. Our thinking (yes, David's too) was that after we come back from the UK next September/October we would look to sell up Cafe Rata and move into a villa at Parkwood. So off we trundle to see Debbie, who shocked us by saying she had something she could show us now.

OK, so yes we will have a look. And very quickly, i.e. within the first 15 minutes, we knew we could live in it. So we said yes we would take it.

Debbie was shocked because people often turn down several places before saying yes to one that they are happy with. 

However a night or so later, I had a panic attack about it and (with David's blessing) went to see Debbie to tell her I'd changed my mind. She was very understanding and sent me off to look at a couple of others that were coming available and I took David to look around one of them. We quickly realised that the one I was turning down was much more spacious and better appointed; so first thing in the morning, I raced around to the office and caught Debbie as she arrived and said I wanted to change my mind. Fortunately, even though she had already phoned the next person on the list, they hadn't been to see it. Phew! 

One of the things that had tripped me up and caused panic was that I had thought that we would have to live in it pretty much as is and while it was acceptable, it didn't have much pizzazz or character. However David (he's a lovely man really) said we needed to make it lovely by putting our stamp on it. So my imagination has been allowed free rein...

Cafe Rata went on the market and we sold within 3 weeks - got an excellent price even in a falling market.

The difference between the price of the villa and the amount we sold Cafe Rata for gives us plenty to play with in terms of making the new place fabulous.

So we are having:

  • a new kitchen (seriously, David insisted, and it was beige so it wasn't a hard sell ...)
  • new doors and door furniture throughout
  • all new windows and external doors - double glazed but new rather than retrofitted
  • an extra  window in the 2nd bedroom to take advantage of the afternoon sun
  • renovating the main bathroom so it isn't a hospital style space (it's going to have a quadrant shower with a fancy shower mixer and the same slider and halo shower head we have here, instead of a jungle gym of grab bars and a wet room floor that I think is very unsafe because there is no way to have level/stable footing in a shower with a central drain and a floor sloping inwards from all directions)
  • new carpet and vinyl throughout, including garage carpet
  • all new light fittings
  • the wardrobe in our room extended by about 40%
  • the hall cupboard made into a second pantry (I have two pantries here and how I will downsize into 2 smaller ones I have yet to work out ...)
  • all new appliances except for one of our fridges and our freezer (Parkwood gets a very good discount so all we had to do was select what we wanted and give them the details)
  • total internal repaint (Sandfly Point walls, white ceilings, doors, architraves and scotia)
  • new blinds - still to be chosen
  • a new patio with trellising and rose cuttings from here as well as feijoa trees and other pieces transplanted or grown from cuttings of favourite stuff in our garden (hydrangeas, alstromerias, canna lilies, herbs, all of my pots ...)
  • a new pathway to the front door and a new driveway plus a concrete pad and trellis for the new clothesline.

Work has already started:

  • I've bought the light fittings and have a few more to select and purchase
  • all the appliances have been ordered (the stove arrived yesterday)
  • the old carpet and vinyl have been removed,
  • blinds and curtains are down (now in the car to be taken to the op shop), 
  • doors and door furniture have arrived, 
  • the shower was going in and the kitchen waste pipe was being moved today, 
  • we've met with the electrician, the builder and the plumber, plus the head gardener 
  • an allergy inducing privet and a dead/dying protea have been removed - the privet, as well as being bad for asthmatics, was blocking the sunlight/daylight from the second bedroom so it had to go on two counts!

Our Kia Sportage doesn't fit easily in the garage - I can get it in with about 2cm to spare outside each wing mirror (eek!), but David can't get out of the car once it's inside and we cannot walk around the front or back of it... So rather than store the car outside, we decided to buy a new smaller car. We have ordered a Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid, a smaller SUV that fits in the garage beautifully with room to spare and we can move all around it. I have ordered the ruby red one - of course! It should be delivered by late September/early October next year.

Salvi and Ann are buying our Sportage - it seemed sensible to offer it to them considering Salvi kept referring to it as his truck when they were here last. And what is even more sensible is that they are buying it when we head to the UK in April rather than it sitting doing nothing for 5 months while we are away. Plans have already been made that we will drive ourselves to Wgtn airport on our departure day and they will meet us there and take it back on the ferry. Good planning, or what??

Our moving in date is 7 March and our moving out from here date is 15 February - we were going to be homeless and living in the motorhome for the intervening period. However our neighbour has a place in Parkwood that he doesn't use, so we are borrowing that for the interim - excellent situation as his place is between our new place and the workshop so we will be able to monitor the work attendance rate ...

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Sour dough English muffins

 Julie, who I work with, is quite demanding - she texted me recently with a thinly veiled request that I make her some sourdough English muffins.

As you all know, I am nothing if not biddable and kind, as well as being up for a challenge - a 2 day challenge in point of fact. 

There are several photos here, and a number of them are showing sideways - just turn your phone or computer 90 deg to view them correctly. Alternatively, view them incorrectly ... To coin a phrase, you get the picture 😬😉😇

The recipe is simple and doesn't really require a huge effort (don't tell Julie that) but it is extended over more than 24 hours. If you want to try them, here's the link:  Sour dough English muffins

The sourdough starter fed and ready to rock.

Some starter with milk and honey stirred in. My sparkling clean starter jar beside it ...


Flour added. Ready to be left to prove for 16 or so hours overnight. Covered with gladwrap and a teatowel and left on the bench.
By this morning it had expanded. So the task was to add bicarb and salt and then work the dough for a few minutes.

Now it waits in the bowl again for half an hour or so - I went outside and water-blasted part of the path around the house while waiting.
I was meant to use a 3" scone cutter but we don't have one so I used my silicone sourdough cutter - the muffins should be round but they weren't. At this stage they had to be left loosely covered for an hour.

David went over to get Kay to be one of the taste testers - the woman is not well, but she was willing to take a risk ... When I sent this photo to Julie, all she could say was 'You're short!" Rich coming from her as I am pretty sure there is less than a millimetre's difference in our heights ...

It's important to test the taste with a variety of toppings: berry jams rasp and strawb, manuka honey, syrups golden and maple, plus feijoa jelly

David and Kay - both valiant taste testers.

Soft and yummy with raspberry jam and butter.

With feijoa jelly going in that belly ...

So the trial was counted as a success. I'll do another batch over tomorrow and Sunday - and I have realised that a pint glass has a 3" diameter so the set for the short demanding one will be circular ...

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Cleaning and tidying and decluttering

 It's that time when we are doing spring cleaning - never done it before but better late than never!

This morning's task was cleaning the soffits around the house - last week Shona had mentioned she thought they needed to be de-spidered. So obediently, we got busy.

Questions of interest:

  • how come dust sticks on upside down surfaces?
  • why does said dust not come off with the fierce hose, the broom that has warm water and HandyAndy?
  • why does the dust require being washed off with a cloth?
  • and why am I the one who can see the dust and therefore have to be the one doing that washing with a cloth, making my shoulders and right upper arm very sore?
  • why am I unable to climb up on to the platform leading with my right leg?  My right thigh just will not lift me! WHY?

Anyway, the soffit looks fabulously clean and sparkling - I shamefacedly have to confess we have not ever washed them before on this house, and we have lived here 8 years! There has been a price to pay though in case you didn't understand - my shoulders and right arm are VERY SORE!

And David has cleared his office - who knew it had a floor? Who knew it was quite a big room? Who knew that he could get rid of so many computers and cables and pieces of technology and still be able to function?  

Amazing, eh?

I still can't quite believe it!

He has also been up in the attic clearing things out. We decided that if stuff had been up there for the 8 years we have lived here, then it clearly was not required - in the main, I think many things up there were items from our parents that we could not let go of in the early days after losing them and becoming orphans. It's a bit easier now to let things go. We found two prints that had been David's dad's that Kirsty had asked to have. She still wants them, so back up they will go - until we head over to see her with a large suitcase!


And shock horror - I may even divest myself of some of the cup and saucer sets I collected back in the early 2000s. I can afford to let some go as there's about 50 of them, I think. Letting some escape may result in a china cabinet being able to find a new home at some point, perhaps, maybe, depending ...

And I looked at the lovely reproduction drinks cabinet I bought when we were B&Bing in Cherswud - it hasn't held alcohol for years and ever since we moved here it has housed glass stemmed dessert bowls - quite lovely, but totally impractical because no one could eat a dessert as big as they hold. So they are off to the charity shop along with a box of other trinkets (my friend Lesley calls it tat, but she's a bad person), and the drinks cabinet will be sold to another loving owner.

Yesterday, when we left the cafe after breakfast, we saw these fabulous motorbikes and sidecars only two but I have three photos so you can see both sides more easily. So gorgeous I think I'd even be keen to travel in/on them!

And one for the road: