Saturday 25 February 2023

And we've moved from Cafe Rata

Having left our lovely home, Cherswud, in Johnsonville back in 2014 to move to Waikanae into our much smaller but lovely home in Rata St, I was sure we were never moving house again. In fact, I am sure I told David that at the time!

But here we are now living in Parkwood Retirement Village. We put our names down here shortly after we moved to Waikanae (much gnashing of my teeth and grumping as it was David's desire to have a plan for our old age and I was a reluctant participant...) 

We have checked on our progress up the waiting list periodically over the intervening years and were always happy that there were still lots of people still ahead of us. Then in September we went for our annual conversation, this time to let them know that we were ready to be ready to make the move, i.e. by October or so in 2023, not October 2022** (see below).

However, Debbie said she had a villa we could look at now. So we did, and made the decision on the spot that we could happily live in it. Debbie was stunned that we could decide so quickly as many people turn down 6 or 7 places before saying yes. Every place in Parkwood is different - none of them have the same floorplan or exterior, so there is nothing cookie-cutter about this village. Check it out here:

Since then it has been a whirlwind of selling the house in Rata St and all the work and stress that that entails: packing, cleaning, giving away stuff we won't use (or haven't in years), taking stuff to the op shop (about 7 loads and having them come to collect big items), cleaning, wrapping wrapping wrapping everything and packing packing packing stuff into boxes, vacuuming multiple times, removing paintings and picture hooks, and finally shifting. This last entailed lots of bootloads of belongings to our temporary home over several days, as well as David shifting everything out of the house into the garage for the removal people to take off to storage for a few weeks until we can move into our new place.

Ashleigh came to help us do a final clean (she had cleaned the garage prior to our painting it, and gave me a hand with cleaning prior to the house going on the market - she is a treasure). On her second day with us she had to bring Evie who is a very happy little kid. And she really likes pastry - and salmon pie even though her mum doesn't...

Lyall was keen on my pink hi-vis gear. It didn't make the mattress easier to carry.

Luke, Diane, Mads and Bevan had all come to help us pack. We moved our bed over to Brian's place. Did you know that tempur mattresses have no supporting structure to make them easy to lift? They are dead-weights and very awkward. It took 5 people to get it on the trailer - I of course was official photographer.

In the removal people's parlance, these items count as the uglies - not boxes, not standard pieces of furniture. So the garage was stacked in categories - uglies to the back, boxes on the left and furniture in the middle. Beds would have been stacked on the right, but our bed had already been moved out.

Furniture in the middle

And while all that was occurring, I've also been involved in decisions about the redecorating and renovating of the villa we have purchased the Licence to Occupy in Parkwood: 

  • new kitchen, 
  • changes to one of the bathrooms, 
  • replacement of all windows and exterior doors with doubleglazed, 
  • replacement of all interior doors and new door furniture, 
  • new garage door, 
  • complete repaint of the interior, 
  • changing a coat cupboard to a second pantry and extending the wardrobe in the main bedroom,
  • new carpet and vinyl, 
  • all new appliances,
  • trellising and concreting for the clothesline area and the patio outside the lounge... 

The last decisions to be made are for blinds (roman and sunshade) and insect screens. I am meeting with the curtain person on Thursday morning to sort that stuff out.

In the meantime, here are some photos of progress to date:

The cabinets went in on Monday and Tuesday last week.


Doors, drawers feet in the lounge - they were all in place by Wednesday.

Very much a work in progress: This is our new place from the south west. The room with the little window is the second bathroom. The room with two windows is the second bedroom which will be David's office and the spare room. The room next to David's office which you can only see part of is our bedroom. The garage has the laundry in it and the washing line will be erected on a piece of trellis which will extend out from about 700mm out from the corner of the garage to the stick and then along at right angles to level with the end of the brick wall (obscured by the manuka bush at the moment - that will be relocated somewhere).

The end wall of the lounge - the awning was removed for cleaning. There is a new outside box of workings for the new heat pump ... A couple of weatherboards have been replaced too.

Through that end window into the lounge dining and the kitchen. Plus reflections in the glass ... You can see that the door/drawer fronts have been put on in the kitchen.

From about the same position but looking towards our bedroom. The stick in the centre right foreground shows where the patio concrete will come to. Those bushes are going and I will be planting feijoas and roses.

Our bedroom with some of the old windows and doors propping up the wall ...

And more old windows and doors - someone who lived here previously had a cat ... Still remedial work to do around the bathroom and toilet windows and a new patio to be poured once the cobbles and concrete have been dug up.

We have been extremely fortunate that a friend has lent us his home to live in in Parkwood for the period between settlement date of 15 Rata St and our moving in date. It's been a real boon! Brian's garage now contains a lot of our stuff in boxes plus our freezer full of food. David has taken over part of the very large lounge as his office and is working away on Weaving Memories work as I write. 

And in a few days the other part of the lounge will be our grandson Olek's bedroom - he arrives from Scotland to stay with us on 1 March and will be here in NZ for 6 weeks. Yay!!

David has been working very long hours during the packing and shifting process - much longer than I have. He has more stamina to keep going even when tired. Of course, he occasionally has a regenerating snooze ... Here he is on the sofa at Brian's place. As Julia would say "Bless"

Listening to podcasts about US politics is very soporific for a tired man. (NZ Politics is anything but restful with the crap that the conservative politicians spout ...)
Mel is happy here at Brian's place. Beside him is part of our stack of paintings and prints - the rest are in the lounge beside and behind a sofa.

A big part of the boon of having Brian's place is that I am able to produce batches of cheese scones (interspersed occasionally with blueberry and banana muffins and once with date scones) for the tradies who have been hard at work. It's a short walk between Brian's place and our new place so scone delivery is simple. And I learned from Luke some time ago that cheese scones keep tradies happy... 

Another boon of being here is that we are already getting involved in the social events here. On Friday we went to a BBQ at the social centre - the food was lovely, the people are really friendly and welcoming. There was music - all 60s and 70s tunes so we all knew the words ... And there was dancing - who knew old people still like to dance?

** We move in to our place on 7 March, then head away in the motorhome with Olek on 10 March until about 11 April, and then on 18 April we head off to the UK for 5 months. We will be back in late September - so essentially, apart from about 10 days of sleeping in our new place, we will actually really be resident here just before October 2023 anyway ...

Thursday 16 February 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle

Over the last several days large swathes of the North Island have been hit by Cyclone Gabrielle, with Auckland, the Coromandel, Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti especially badly hit. So far there's been nine deaths (two of them volunteer firemen in Muriwai, one a small child) and more are expected to have occurred - they can only be counted once communications are back up and running and the missing are accounted for as safe and sound, or lost but bodies found.

Roads have been washed out and slipped away, river banks and flood banks have been breached, bridges have been washed away by the sheer force of flooded rivers carrying slash (detritus from forestry operations).

The Hawke's Bay has scenes of utter devastation: flood water, silt and slash  up to roof level on homes and farm buildings, orchards totally flooded, large stock losses, people rescued by helicopter from the roofs of their homes. 

There are many rivers heading to the sea, and the bridges have been washed away, the river mouths are awash with slash, and the rivers are brown with silt.

The clean up bill is going to be huge and, in many cases, will require houses to be knocked down and rebuilt. Many of them should not be rebuilt in the same place - too many houses built in vulnerable areas, and with climate change well and truly upon us, these kind of weather events are increasing in frequency - it's less than 3 weeks since Auckland and the Coromandel were last hit by extreme rainfall. 

Because of the terrain, our roading system is close to the sea in many places, crosses rivers, and follows the contours of hills and is carved out of the hillsides. All of these places are vulnerable, the roads on hillsides in particular, because the banks below and above are not well enough reinforced or are too steep to support tree growth that would hold the bank in place.

Over the last year or so there has been deep opposition (fomented by right wing media, opposition parties who build on [white] people's fear of sharing decision-making with Māori) to the government's Three Waters legislation that focuses on safety of potable water, storm water and sewage. 

This cyclone is a clear message that the government is right to be focused on these utilities - currently none of our stormwater systems are adequate to deal with the level of rainfall we have had recently and can expect more of a similar level frequently in the future. I read recently, after the last large Auckland and Coromandel storm a few weeks ago, that we now need stormwater systems that match Singapore's, i.e. very large diameter pipes that will cope with monsoon rains.

We also need our local councils and regional councils to work together with the relevant government agencies to streamline the individual consenting processes and decision-making so re-building can commence. We also need some concerted study of the better places to be building homes so that, while people are rehoused quickly in temporary homes (as was done after the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes), long term solutions can be identified and put in place. We need long term solutions because if we allow re-building to occur where it was a week ago, we will be facing the same problem next year or in six months' time...

And we need legislation to require forestry companies to effectively clear slash from the supposedly clear felled sites rather than waiting for the weather to carry it away, without regard for the damage caused.

Thankfully we have a Labour Government which is focused on the long term rather than the short term solutions that the National party would prefer...

Thursday 9 February 2023

Way back in the middle of January ... Into the Nelson Tasman area then on our way home

This post is well overdue - lots has happened since this holiday ended, but that is for another post. This one is about the last few days of our time in the South Island.

After the sandflies at Murchison (lovely place though) and before we went on to Stoke, we headed for Tapawera and stayed at a Park Over Property (POP) for $10 ($5 pp). No services apart from water, but a nice peaceful spot. We thought about going for a bike ride but it was too hot - I do know I am a wimp, honest I do!

Only one other camper on site at Tapawera and not in this photo!

Instead we blobbed in the main and David had fun having a go at putting up the cheap ($50) gazebo purchased at Mitre 10 in Hokitika - purely as an experiment to see if a gazebo would be a suitable alternative to the awning at times of a bit of breeze. We are a bit phobic about having the awning out when there is any wind - when we were buying the motorhome and its features were being demonstrated, the young guy telling us about it all was most insistent that we not have the awning out in the wind, that we never leave it out overnight or when we are away from the motorhome. The reasoning was that a gust of wind can rip its struts out of the ground - it is a sail after all - and flip it over the roof. That would result in a ripped awning as well as damage to the roof from flying metal struts. Expensive problem. But a good sturdy gazebo which can be purchased for about $200 or less could happily be sacrificed. Well, not happily, but with far less angst than having to pay the approximate $1000 expense if the awning went tits up.

We did get the frame constructed. We did not get the cover on. David did sort all the poles into their 4 groups and rubber band like with like. I did mark the ends for insertion after David had accidentally used the wrong ends and dislodged the wire clips and pushed them down the pipe ...

Long-nosed pliers were too fat, there was no purchase available with my tweezers. So David tried a twig. Some success, with the finishing pull using my second pair of tweezers that have scissor grips.

Poles sorted


See that slot in the pole? It's meant to have a clip sticking out. Where has the clip gone? Why has the clip disappeared?


After a time of wonder the frame is ready to be tipped on its feet. Nothing really to hold the two parts of the legs together apart from gravity and weight - and there's none of that available for two legs during their traverse from horizontal to vertical ...

I called it quits at this point ... Two legs had had to be re-constructed already!



David was being excessively silly, so he needed the growly face to make him settle down. It didn't work though - it just made him laugh, dammit!

We wisely decided we would leave further experimentation for the pleasure and hilarity of Salvi and David when we arrived in Stoke.

After breakfast at the Bar/B&B/cafe in an old hotel just out of Tapawera, we headed for Stoke. We were keen to see Ann and Salvi although Ann is poorly. She has a really bad cough that has been with her since before Xmas. She regularly tests negative for Covid and the cough persists. At least 3 or 4 doctor's visits but nothing prescribed has been working - not antibiotics, not steroids, not an inhaler.

David got the box out and Salvi couldn't resist even though he tried ...


WIP ...


We have the roof struts connected...

Ooh, a dog whose tummy needs tickling ...
Half of the side poles - a gazebo for children or hobbits?

No, it was just so they could reach for putting the cover on.

Does it fit? Can it stretch?


What about if we fiddle with the middle?

OK, release the cover and check the fittings are all in tightly


These shenanigans went on for some time with Ann and I both watching, staying out of it, enjoying the comedy...


It had to be turned over to get the second section of the legs on - the two guys tried with it right way up, but the ones already done just fell off ... Ann to the rescue!

Now let's get this sorted! Ann is on the job!
Now where are those tent pegs?

David with his new rubber mallet - I still use the hammer because the mallet needs more heft behind it than I have for it to be effective.

We did realise a few things about the cheap gazebo:

  • the cover is a wee bit too small for the frame
  • the stitching would not last without the struts being shortened by a few millimetres
  • it was an absolute fiddle to put up - at least half an hour. So no way would we bother with it apart from for entertainment value.
  • it was destined for the opshop.

When visiting another Ann and Chris (mutual friends) they sent us back with a carton of pineapple juice. Apparently it has cough-removing properties.

We had two morning bike rides: good heavens, we are slack - it was the first time the bikes had been off the rack since arriving in the South Island ... 

  • Our first ride was an hour and a half ride out to Richmond and back into Stoke passing the airport and making our way back on the Railway Reserve, with a stop at the supermarket - can't remember what for
  • Our second ride was the following morning and we followed the previous day's track at first and then headed along the cycle path that was aimed at Rabbit Island. It was a lovely morning for a bike ride - and lots of other very fast and fit people thought so too. Narrow paths that other people take in their stride often freak me out - my imagination is too vivid, I think, and I can picture myself falling off and getting hurt. My overactive imagination is a big part of my wussy approach to adventurous activities - i.e. I largely give them a miss.

Chris and Ann were invited for lunch (they didn't know it until they popped in to see Ann** and Salvi. ** This Ann had been isolating because her cough was so suspicious but she was getting cabin fever.

This Ann and I made cheese tart and it was my first ever fail at cheese tart making in about 50 years, dammit - I was distracted and took it out of the oven too soon and, although the top was well cooked, the bottom pastry was not. Tasted fine, but it's not meant to be floppy when being served! And what's more, the dish it was cooked in broke when Salvi was transferring the leftovers - he assessed that it had already been cracked but even so - big cheese tart fail and a broken dish: not good!

We headed away that afternoon so we could stay overnight close to Picton for the ferry sailing on Monday. We always forget how long and steep up and down the trip is between Nelson and Koromiko - the Whangamoa Range is a biggie!

We stayed at a POP in Koromiko - a lovely place, peaceful, and only $5 a vehicle per night. We had planned on having a curry out of our freezer for dinner but I only felt like breakfast food (fresh nectarines, yoghurt and muesli). 

It was such a lovely place and the weather was so warm and pleasant the next morning without being baking, that I sat outside and read until we really had to make our way over to Picton to check in for the ferry. 

A calm sailing spent in the Queen Charlotte lounge - very nice but not all that well insulated from noise in the adjacent family lounge where a magic show took place - say no more ...

We got home in very quick time - the Transmission Gully is an absolute boon. And what's more, we unpacked the motorhome before we ran out of steam (although David did have a nap as I drove home) and I even put my clothing away and got all of the washing underway while David unpacked the contents of the fridge and pantry.

We both slept very well that night - holidays are tiring!