Saturday 27 December 2014

Trimming and felling

We have had Luke and Diane staying with us this weekend - they arrived on Saturday morning from Wellington complete with the van, the high-sided trailer and a full range of tree-felling tools. The plan was to get rid of some of the excessive growth of the trees around the property to let more light into the house and the garden and to give the remaining trees a chance to fill out. So, soon after arrival, Luke was suited and booted with all the requisite safety gear, and fortified by millionaire shortbread and coffee, and on to work he went. The first part of the work was culling trees (selective felling and trimming) in the patch beside our bedroom. The trees had been planted too close together many years ago and were now so crowded that they had to grow extremely high to get light on their leaves. That meant little light into the bedroom and early shading of the back garden. By the end of Saturday, we were able to sit outside in the dappled sunlight in an area that hadn't had afternoon/evening sun for years! Unfortunately I was so busy moving the branches away from where they were dropping that I didn't get any photos! But the neighbours over the back fence, Graeme and Joy, were thrilled with the new look. They have been in their house 20 years and no trimming had occurred in that time. Not surprising really as George the former owner would already have been in his mid 70s at that point.
After lunch, Luke started on the clematis that was growing on the cabbage trees - that took the rest of the afternoon - far longer than any of us had thought.

Safety helmet with visor and ear muffs, gloves, chaps to protect his legs, boots - Luke's the man!
See the height and width of the clematis in comparison to David and the ladder - our neighbour John tells us that the clematis was there when they first arrived 40 years ago.

Luke is up in there somewhere, battling the clematis and trying to avoid the wetas ...

The cabbage trees are clear of clematis - what a mission!

Luke decides to try playing the harp ...

David had spent much of the day filling the trailer and trampling the branches and greenery down inside it and by the time he got to this stage, he could barely stand up again.
 This morning David had to go to Masterton to see his mum who had been quite poorly yesterday - she cannot manage the heatpump and the nightstore heater so had both going - the former trying to get rid of the heat from the latter (which is not meant to be on during the summer ... David tells me he has removed the fuse now to prevent future mishaps). Diane strained her back yesterday with all the lifting/pulling/stretching, so Luke and I were pretty much on our own today. Good thing he is strong with plenty of endurance!
Today's tasks were to get rid of the clematis mountain and trim to my head height the camellias in the photo below - when that photo was taken they were still about 15 - 20 feet high. Altogether there were 5 trailer-loads and 4 woolsacksful removed today. And there are now two  mountains of camellia trimmings awaiting removal by Peter who will chip them and use them as mulch in his orchard.

At this point we had already taken 2 loads to the transfer station, and Luke had chainsawed through the clematis that was left so he could get it on his pitchfork - it was the thick stuff from close to its roots.

Loading the pitchfork

And lift

And dump it in the trailer

I load the small stuff into the woolsack and Luke lifts it into the back of the van
Trampling the clematis down on the third trailer load this morning
The camellias are trimmed! It looks brutal, but they will come back bushy and more manageable. The one on the left needs more trimming to remove crossed branches.
One of the piles of camellia trimming that I stacked on the edge of the driveway - I can get the car through the gap.
I don't know what this tree  is but it is lovely and now able to be seen outside our bedroom - yesterday Luke removed about 5 trees, trimmed two large branches off a 25 foot high rhododendron that was shading our bedroom and draping itself over the roof. and trimmed two large camellias to about my head height.

This is the end result all clematis removed and the trees can breathe again. I will plant something low beside it, possibly agapanthus.
 So, here we are at 7.40pm on Sunday. Luke and Di left about 4pm and I have been blobbing and blogging since then. A great weekend's work, thank you Luke, thank you, Di.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from New Zealand

Slightly overcast today but 18 degrees here in Waikanae. About to make breakfast for the team, prior to a walk on the beach. Need to be quick because even tho the forecast said fine till Sunday, the app on the i-phone says it's going to be showery from mid morning to this evening. Bah humbug ...
This is a pohutukawa tree, known as the NZ Christmas tree because now is when it flowers. See the sunny blue sky - that was yesterday arvo

This is a bigger version on the main road down from Waikanae to Waikanae Beach - see the cloudier sky? I just took this about 5 minutes ago at 7.15am
Have a wonderful Christmas - peaceful, safe and happy. Stay snug and warm wherever you are!

Monday 22 December 2014

Office update

Given David’s reputation is at stake, I decided that I really ought to provide an update about the state of his office.

He quickly realised that neither the big table he’d brought from our old house nor the trestle table donated by Gary and Bruce would do the trick re taking up a minimum of space and being easy to remove when guests come to stay. So we measured the space that would be ideal for a second desk and off I went shopping – that is no hardship for me …

At one of the big hardware stores here (Mitre10 Mega is like B&Q or Bunnings) I found one the perfect size. It was so small that I could get it in front of the back seats of the car!
The table is small but perfectly formed ...
and there's room for chairs for his clients to sit. Leaning against the bed behind the blue chair is a sunshade blind I bought yesterday as partial replacement for the curtains.

As you can see in the photo it fits enough equipment so David can have two jobs on the go at once (multi-tasking …) All of the remaining equipment, cables and boxes have been stored in the wardrobe and the room looks lovely and tidy.

On Friday I unpacked the cups and saucers and got them all assembled in the china cabinets. I was absolutely delighted that there wasn’t one breakage! An excellent result!!
One of the three china cabinets - note the paintings are still stacked on the floor though
Georges and his brood have found a new home. Other chickens (3) are on the bathroom windowsill and one is out on the dining room porch. Such was the squawking from the fowl union, I had to relent and let them stay inside

Yesterday I drove to Palmerston North and ordered the roman blinds for the lounge/dining room – I needed a lie down afterwards, even though I got 40% off the making. The material is the cheapest part of the purchase by a country mile – fabric and lining came to only 20% of the total. But 30% of the total was for the chain mechanism rather than having pull strings – that seems pretty steep. The making is expensive and I don’t begrudge that as a fair hourly rate is appropriate and they are complicated – the sewing is straightforward but the construction is complex. Dee was with me and reminded me that they are a lifetime purchase – if we are here in this house for another 20 years I am damn sure we won’t be replacing them! 
It has been an expensive week – the bill for the new gas hot water cylinder and putting a compliant flue on the gas heater plus the bill for all the electrical work we’ve had done both arrived in the last couple of days. I need to go back to work SOON! Jo, help!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

David is assembling the office

It’s a big job as there is so much stuff – in reality he needs a whole quite large room to do justice to all the equipment he has; but needs must, and he has to share with the spare bedroom. He tells me that he will be able to move the desk out when we have visitors to stay, but I have my doubts …
It looked reasonably under control when it was like this ...

Then the other table went in and more stuff got added. By the way, the spare bed is behind that table, up against the wall. I ask you: how likely is it that that table full of stuff will be easily movable?
He doesn't look stressed

Alert, alert: boxes are being opened ..

More stuff is appearing ...

He tells me he is making progress, but if that is the case, why is he hiding under the desk? See that plastic tub of cords? I am sure they have procreated while in the dark of the storage container ...

I have unpacked my clothes from the two cases I took to B&G’s, but the box I packed and put into storage remains intact and taped up in the wardrobe. Perhaps I should see if I need anything from it by not opening it yet, and if I don’t feel the need and don’t buy anything to replace/replicate its contents in the next couple of months, then I could take it all straight to the charity shops. I will see …

Housing the menagerie

Yesterday morning I unpacked another box of stuff and we collected our new outside table and chairs from Derek's place as well as bringing back his pots of herbs - he's away in the UK at the moment, and it's easier to care for them here than drive 25 minutes to water them. Also I get to use them. That means too that they won’t bolt to seed in the warmth if being constantly chopped at. Well, that is my rationale and it works for me.
As we already had it for transporting the table and chairs, we were going to use Derek’s car and trailer to go back to Bruce and Gary’s to collect all of David’s Weaving Memories equipment and accouterments plus the folding table Gary gave David. But as we discovered when almost back to Waikanae that I had left B&G’s keys in our car at Derek’s, that plan was scuppered. Ah well, the trusty Toyota Corolla would have to suffice, and it did but required two trips.

This morning we have had a summit meeting about the china chickens’ new home. At Cherswud they were confined to the upstairs bathroom in the main (after Kirsty told me a few years ago that any more would be classed as eccentric, I gave away some of them and removed most others from other rooms, although I confess that a couple of small ones found their way into the guest bedrooms, but only ones that fitted with the colour schemes, mind …) Here in Waikanae there is no floor space or windowsill space for the remaining chickens in the bathroom. A few could go either side of the toilet, but that seems a bit ignominious. My plan is to put them out in the garden as free range chickens to join their cousins given me by Gregor when he moved house. David tells me that he has been on to their union and they aren’t happy about that plan. The cow parade is going on the conservatory windowsill in the kitchen, and the chickens feel slighted that they are banished outside… Now tell me, which of us is eccentric? But wait, there’s more: over the weekend Kirsty and David decided that we should make a diorama for the cows (our friend Brian makes scenery for model train enthusiasts and for Weta Workshops’ remake of Thunderbirds are Go, so he was to be conscripted). Kirsty thought I could do puppet shows as long as I had some long black gloves. Now tell me, which of us is eccentric?

Today I am going to unpack the cups and saucers and the cows and chickens – I am a bit anxious about whether anything has broken in transit and have been avoiding these boxes accordingly. But I will be brave …
Five boxes still in dining room - I think there's prints in 4 of them and china in the big one ...

Paintings, prints and a mirror - still waiting their wall space
The chickens and cows are in these two, along with saucers for the cups I took out of the box yesterday but haven't unwrapped.

And then there's more glasses ...

Monday 15 December 2014

OK, we’re in!

It has been a very busy week or two but nothing exciting until the weekend, so no point in blogging really.

I’ve been doing a piece of work, writing a Post Implementation Review report for a project – when not boating I do short  term part time consultancy for IQANZ (Independent Quality Assurance NZ), a firm of lovely people who are kind enough to be happy making use of some of my time for our mutual benefit, along with that of their clients. So the reading and interviewing prior to the report writing took a few days, getting into the groove of business writing for the report was a struggle after the narrative writing of the blog which is all I have done, apart from emails, for the last several months. Still, the report was drafted, reviewed and edited with help from the lovely Nicky at IQANZ, and sent off to the client before the deadline. Invoice is prepared …

David of course has been flat out on the Weaving Memories work, and the work keeps flowing in. As people biff out their video players and as they find that they don’t know how to operate their dad’s old film projector, they want to be able to see the old footage of themselves, of their parents, of their children. That is the cue for Weaving Memories Man.

On Saturday we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary – a fairly significant milestone, and one that, when you marry as young things seems so far in the distance as to be unreal, mythical even. Even though the promise made on the day is to love each other till death, the concept of death isn’t generally one that we look in the eye at that point in our lives.

Anyway, we had a party on Saturday afternoon and evening – BYO finger food and drink. Such a good arrangement! Our lovely daughter Kirsty came over from Sydney, she spoke for her and for the lovely Tim from Scotland, she didn’t take the michael, although as she said, there was lots of material available. David and I spoke – my speech was much shorter than David’s, which some will find surprising, but others will not. I did take the michael, of course. As I noted, it is in my wifely job description, and I always take my JDs seriously.

It was lovely being with such good friends and with our girl on a special day.

The purchase of our new-to-us home completed on Wednesday and we started bringing stuff into the house from Derek’s place in Otaki Beach and from Bruce and Gary’s place where some of it had been stored; (i.e. the bits that were left over when the truck had gone and that we thought we’d be able to fit in the car – wrong! Fortunately Gary had suggested to Derek that he bring his trailer when he came to visit the day we were leaving. It was fully laden, along with his car being stacked to well past its gunnels when he set off back to Otaki Beach.) But we didn’t actually move in till Sunday as that was the day that Reuben and Phil could truck up all of our stuff from the storage unit. And we would never have been ready to have our anniversary party even if we had moved in on Wednesday!

So on Sunday we did the move. Reuben and Phil arrived before noon, and we got stuck in to unloading the truck and filling the place up with boxes and furniture. Even though we had divested ourselves of a lot of stuff before we left Cherswud, it was soon apparent that we still have far too much stuff! Too many armchairs for the floor space, too many paintings and prints for the wall-space. Not enough windowsill space in the bathroom for my chickens. Fortunately, there’s plenty of space on the kitchen conservatory-type windowsill for the cow parade and all of the china cabinets have a space. The dressing table went back in the truck with the boys (one of them will keep it or they will take it to Vinnie’s Op Shop where their mum works), we gave the hall table to Bruce and Gary. We’ve stacked some of the chairs and boxes of china, ornaments, glasses etc in the shed, the pictures are in the dining room ready to be sorted, the kitchen was full of boxes waiting to be unpacked. The washing machine is in and working, the fridge and freezer are connected and working, the lounge is arranged (and has been re-arranged by Gary and David), the TV is working, the rugs are down, the bedroom is very habitable although our clothing is still in the boxes apart from the stuff we’ve had at Bruce and Gary’s over the last month – but most importantly the bed was constructed, made and ready for me to collapse into at 8.30 on Sunday night and again last night after another full day of unpacking. And there is still more to do – those pesky chickens, cows and cups and saucers are still lurking in boxes …

The guys delivered and fitted the fold down bed yesterday - that was a hoot. There are three pieces - the actual bed, and two side bookcases, one of which has a desk extension. Getting them all in and installed in a room that is, in truth, a bit small for them esp when there is another desk to go in there along with all of David's gear, is a bit of a tall order. (The shed or the garage are starting to look more likely sites for the world headquarters of Weaving Memories but we'll wait and see ... 

Evan the electrician sorted the power to the shed, fitted LED lights in the kitchen, put back the light fitting the bed boys had removed but couldn't re-fit, moved the powerpoint in the second bedroom/office, diagnosed the fault with the stove and ordered a new part (a little black box behind the dial for selecting oven functions) so I can use all functions of the oven.

This area is beautifully quiet, there is no traffic noise, and currently I am in bed looking out of the window at our backyard, watching the birds flying in and out. The sky is clear blue, the sun is coming in to the hallway and the lounge dining.

We made a good choice, methinks.

PS Photos later - need to get up now and go to Palmerston North to see my sister and look for fabric for blinds for the bedrooms and lounge/dining.

Friday 5 December 2014

Catching up

We are happily ensconced at Bruce and Gary’s beach house waiting for the settlement of our new home, the money has been transferred to the lawyer’s trust account and is due to be paid over on Wednesday. The vendor has a skip out in the driveway, the commercial cleaning van was there yesterday, so all is being readied for us to take ownership. We feel for the owner – he and his wife had the house built 23 years ago on land they subdivided around their original homestead, and a number of the trees on the place have been there for years. It is a wrench for him to leave, not only the house but his neighbours – his friend, 95 year old Eric, still lives across the street and they will miss each other sorely I think.

One house we had been very keen on, having seen it shortly after it was listed back in early November but not being able to make an offer to buy immediately because of the dreaded deadline treaty, looks as though the deadline treaty process didn’t get the result the agent was expecting. We saw the house advertised again yesterday with an asking price this time, and no mention of deadline treaty … Hah!! And we had said we would pay more than the current asking price – Hah again!! Oops, did I say that out loud? It was meant to be in my internal voice. Ah, well, how sad, too bad, never mind. Seriously though, it is a lovely house and will sell, but the agent and the vendor need to be mindful of making sure that the price isn’t ratcheted up past its value. Another possible issue in its failure at deadline treaty is settlement date - like a number of people here in Waikanae, the vendor is moving into a retirement village and her villa there won't be completed till late in January. Not every purchaser can wait that long to settle and shift. We are very lucky in having such good friends as Bruce and Gary who have been happy to accommodate us. We could have coped with a January settlement, as we also had Derek's place available while he is away in the UK and US on holiday.

It is lovely being here at Bruce and Gary’s – they come up in the weekends and often there are mutual friends staying as well. This weekend there is a full house, with Paul and Nigel, plus Joe and, outside in their camper van, Pete and Warren. Tonight the guys are going to the Kapiti Rainbow Christmas event – David and I, as the only straights in the house, will have a quiet night in and, in the interests of our livers and kidneys, no wine will be consumed for a change.

Last Friday night my sister Dee and her husband came to stay on their way back from Picton where Murray has been overseeing the operation of moving milk from the North Island to the South – lots of big tankers and drivers needing on site support and administration. Having Dee and Murray here was lovely; they are now in Palmerston North and this time Murray is overseeing movement of milk powder. PN is reasonably close to Waikanae, so on Monday Dee and I met in Otaki (well, it has lots of outlet shops) and we did retail stuff and lunch and catching up. The credit card did take a hammering, but think of the money I saved with the bargains I bought!
On our Saturday morning walk beside the lagoons we saw the ubiquitous Canada geese ...

and the ducks

Out on to the beach and we saw this shark and net.

Dee, Kapiti Island and the still life

David is hard at work on the Weaving Memories jobs – he’s up at 5.30 most mornings and often works into the night. If only I could get him to double his hourly rate AND charge for the hours he actually does, I could retire instantly. As it is, I am now doing a Post Implementation Review for a government project. I’ve done all the interviews and read the documentation and now have to complete the report. I have started, but there is still a way to go by end of Tuesday.

There has been some distraction activity though – I have been to see the movie Pride twice this week, once with David and yesterday with Wendy, Joe and Gary. And now there’s Jimmy’s Hall to see sometime soon.

I am also going out walking for up to an hour each morning – a recent blood test indicates that I am pre-diabetic. The reading had dropped (along with a few kilos) while we were on the boat, but with a more sedentary life here at home, it is likely to rise again. The doctor told me that walking every day on the fabulous paths and beach here at Waikanae would drop the reading back 6 or 7 points without any hassle. So I have been out and about exploring our new environment.

The water in the river is so clear. The whitebaiters were out in force for the last days of the season.

The bridge over the Waikanae River at Otaihanga Reserve - a popular swimming spot and lovely park. Where are my grandsons? They would love this!

As I was walking striding along yesterday morning, I got a birthday call from Scotland – my birthday is the 4th, but we have a practice of celebrating for both the northern and southern hemispheres’ time zones, as it makes the birthday 36 hours long! That cannot be a bad thing! So it was just lovely to be talking to Marta, and the lovely grandsons while I was out enjoying the fresh air 13,000 miles away. I’d spoken with Tim the previous evening as he was driving down to Macclesfield to do some work.

Kapiti Island at 7.45 yesterday morning - there was wind up high, judging by the clouds, but it was beautifully calm on the beach ...

The biggest bluebottle I have seen for years. Size comparison - the shell was about 50mm (2") wide so that beast is at least 75mm (3") across - and look at those tentacles. Ugh!

The bluebottles were everywhere - at high tide mark, at the water's edge and points in between. On the ebbing tide they were still being washed ashore. If this invasion continues there'll be no swimming at the beach over summer. I remember them from the beach at Tongaporutu every few summers. They give me the screaming ab-dabs!

I had better get up and go for a walk now – Joe and I are on brekkie, and he was very late to bed last night, so I could be doing double duty as sous chef while he clears his head. Not to worry, we were all on the sauce last night with much laughter, serious and not so serious discussions, so he won’t be alone in having a slow start. Aha! While I have been loading photos on this post, he has got up already, he's brought me a cup of tea and is now hard at work in the kitchen - such stamina can only be the preserve of the young ...

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Good progress

Yesterday the offer on the house went unconditional. We've had the builder's report, an inspection by the gas man, and an inspection by an electrician. There are a few things we need to remedy, but they mostly fall within the ambit of fair wear and tear for a 23 year old house.

We plan to get them attended to before we move in - we have offered the vendor the opportunity to settle early which would give us more time to get these things done by tradesmen who are always busy. But it is over to them - you can see in the photos on the previous post that there is still furniture in the house and this is only one thing for them to be doing in their lives. We are not in any hurry - being at Bruce and Gary's is lovely, and we still have Joe with us - also lovely.

I went to look at wallpaper yesterday and found one that I am pretty sure I will use on a feature wall behind our bed. It will look yummy with the red duvet covers (formerly in the red room at Cherswud B&B).

Here it is

On Saturday we bought a fold down queen-sized bed for the office/spare room - reduced from $4000 to $1000, so definitely a bargain. It comes with two sets of shelves that are not attached to it which will be placed elsewhere in the room. One of the shelving units also has a desk - hopefully that can be David's printer desk, and with one of his large desks for video/film/TV/computers, he should be set!
The fold down bed, folded down. Being delivered in the week after we move in.

The wallpaper search yesterday was originally to find a feature wall paper for behind the fold down bed - our bedroom took precedence though ... I think I may go back to the original idea of painting the wall behind the pull down bed - a deep red appeals.
I liked this, but think it could be a bit overpowering even on one wall in a smallish room.

OK, work to do. I am doing a Post Implementation Review of a project - still some project documentation to read and then three interviews today to prepare for, about 5 tomorrow and one on Friday. Report to be drafted next week. Busy, busy. Not sure I have time to move into the house sooner than 10 December after all ...

Friday 21 November 2014

The new house

Approaching the house down the tree-lined drive.

The north facing aspect - this will be the sunniest side. The dining room and the sunroom open on to the verandah, the kitchen has the 'conservatory' window, and our bedroom window is by the trellis.

The lounge and dining area from the entrance hall. This is a lovely space.

From the other direction. Plenty of room for my china cabinets and dresser ...

The sunroom. Room here for a china cabinet too!

The kitchen could do with a re-furb but is perfectly serviceable; the laundry is through the sliding door

The laundry with the pantry that should be an office ...
Our bedroom which has the wardrobe along the wall on the right. The trellis and its posts need to be replaced, and we'll put a fold down washing line on the other side of it. The back door which is the entrance to the laundry is adjacent to the trellis.

This will be David's office/studio seeing as he cannot be persuaded to the pantry or shed. It'll double as a guest room, so it'll either have a bed settee or a bed that folds up against the wall.

Newish bath and vanity. Window is double glazed as the bathroom is on the south side. All we need to do is replace the shower,  remove the mirror and fit a heated towel rail.

That tree stump will be removed and then we can set up the new table and chairs and the 3 metre cantilevered umbrella ... David wants the shed gone too, I am not so sure.
Every time we see the new house we like it more. Yesterday we took the opportunity to go and see it again with friends, Gary, Joe and Derek, while the agent was there with the man who was doing the gas inspection for us. This time we had a good poke around and I did try very hard to persuade David that we could open up the large pantry off the laundry, remove the wall between it and the hall cupboard, put in a skylight and make that his office/studio. However for some inexplicable reason, he’s not buying that scheme. Nor is he buying the one in which we tidy up the inside of the nice shed outside, get power in to it and make that his office/studio. I cannot understand the latter frankly, although I’m aware the pantry cupboard combination was a bit of a stretch … Imagine the cachet in having a studio in the garden?

We’ve had the building inspection report done yesterday and it was very favourable, however Rudi the gas man tells us we may need to replace the gas water heater at some stage in the next few years and we do need to lengthen the flue for the gas heater in the lounge.

Last thing is the electrician’s certificate – that inspection is scheduled for Monday.

No showstoppers at this stage. YAY!!!

All being well, the offer goes unconditional on Wednesday. And then it’ll be 14 sleeps till it’s ours!