Sunday 29 October 2023

Home and happenings

We've been home now for about 5 weeks and for the first 3 weeks or so, I was exhausted. A mix of jetlag and physical tiredness from the previous month or so of getting Waka Huia ready for going on brokerage. And probably the effects of stress too.

But in the last couple of weeks I have started to feel like I am back to my former self - so watch out, world!

While we were away in the UK, quite a lot of work took place here at our villa - all of it outside. 

  • The patio out the back by the lounge and bedroom was laid and the concrete was acid treated so the top layer could be washed off and the small stones exposed. It looks cool!
  • The driveway and paths to the back door and the clothesline were concreted - there was a bit of a delay on that work because the team found a longstanding pipe leak beneath an old garden that had to be dug up. And it was winter here when that was occurring so it was all fairly wet and muddy - must have been a pain for the other residents around us. However they were very interested in what was taking place and have caught us up on it all.
  • Shona, the amazing woman who has been our gardener for a few years now, took on starting to get our garden established while we were away. She worked with Clint the head gardener here at Parkwood on where our gardens would be, the size of them and what needed to be done to get the grass removed, ground dug, compost delivered ... The woman is a marvel. She also had culled plants from our Rata St garden, she'd propagated cuttings from there too, and most magic of all, she successfully transplanted Caitlin's rose.
    • Since we have come back Shona has continued her sterling work and the gardens are showing the promise they will fulfill over the summer.
This was taken 9 days ago
And this was taken on Saturday (2 days ago). Everything is growing vigorously and looking very healthy. Janet our lovely next door neighbour, kindly donated the rocks from her daughter's place. The rocks, I hasten to say, are unwanted there, so Janet has brought back 2 boot-loads and I've brought back one. She is bringing another load this week so we can finish the job. We decided that rocks would look better than driftwood. So the driftwood has been returned to the beach...
We had breakfast outside yesterday. See the dwarf apple tree between the stakes? The blossom is bursting out, the other plants are taking off big time.



Caitlin's rose with a new bud - 9 days ago


A new feijoa, a canna lily from Rata St, and a lovely thing that has purple flowers from Rata St - 6 days ago.


Herbs in pots outside the kitchen window by the pond.

Bloody nettles growing around the lemon tree, dammit! They are little but fierce - already they sting. But I was brave as I pulled them out. Note to self: get some gardening gloves...

While we were placing the rocks around the lime tree plot (thai curries here we come!), this female blackbird was hunting for worms. She had no fear of us. I think the birds are very tame around here because there are almost no cats. Pukekos, rabbits and ducks, but only a very few cats - yay!!

When we came home, we had no car - regular readers will remember that we sold the car to Ann and Salvi and delivered it to them at Wellington Airport on the day we headed for the UK. We had ordered a new Toyota Yaris Hybrid Cross and were told it would be here by the time we arrived home in late September. No sooner had we paid the deposit than we were told it could be later than that but they would see us right for a car to tide us over.

Fast forward to August and we were told that the new car wouldn't be available until November -  a full year since we had ordered it, by the way... So we started to reconsider, but thought we'd find out a bit more. It turned out that seeing us right for a car to tide us over meant we could have a car of theirs for $49 a day for 2 months, i.e. ~$3000, AND the Yaris had increased in price by about $3000 as well. 

Upshot: a total rethink. But what to buy instead. I knew I wanted a late model red car, but had no idea what. Looking on TradeMe is so bloody daunting - there are about 30,000 cars for sale and how on earth could I narrow that number down to something we would like?

We went without a car for a couple of weeks, and walked (I biked) up to the village or to the supermarket or to the railway station. One morning as we started out on our way to the station on foot, our neighbours Wendy and Robin stopped and asked if we'd like a ride. Yes we said, and then I tried to persuade them to let us buy their car: it fitted the bill

  • red
  • automatic
  • small enough to get into our garage
  • very comfortable in the backseats
  • quite peppy (1500cc)

They would not sell us theirs but not to worry. As we caught the train into Wellington we looked up Honda Jazz, found several online and I called the Honda dealer and arranged for a test drive after our osteopath appointments. The one we drove was silver but it handled well, so a red one was brought down from Auckland for us. A 2022 Jazz Crosstar with just over 4000kms on the clock. Yay!!

So we now have a car that cost significantly less than the Yaris would have. Not hybrid and I do feel a bit bad about that, but am trying to assuage my conscience...

On Thursday this last week, we had a 1970s pot luck dinner here - 17 people came with food they used to make in the 1970s. It was all very reminiscent! And yummy. Do you remember that we used lots of canned food back then? 

Hedgehogs made by Grahame - very yummy. We could tell they were constructed by a chap because the toothpicks were rammed deep into the oranges ...


Potato salad, a shredded lettuce salad with carefully arranged grated carrot, tomato and cucumber (peeled) on top; chicken casserole with canned apricots and Maggi Onion Soup; canned beetroot; a cheese fondue with french bread and vegetables for dipping; scalloped potatoes; garlic bread; tuna pie made with canned tuna (of course), a can of mushroom soup and chopped onion topped with crushed chippies and sliced tomato and grated cheese; cheese tart (I've been making that since I was 19 or 20 so that definitely counts as 1970s food ...). And of course Maggi Onion dip, and mayonnaise made from Highlander Condensed milk, vinegar and mustard.
Desserts!! A yummy thing Sally and Ross made: chocolate, meringue, cream, with peaches (canned, obv) and passionfruit pulp. A jelly ring made by our neighbour Susan, complete with strawberries and grapes, and Ambrosia made by Joan our 92 year old neighbour across the road. It had marshmallows and peaches and strawberries and CREAM.


David has been busy almost ever since we got home on Weaving Memories work and I have been not working for money at all. I think I am happily easing into being retired, but we shall see...

I was planning to head to Taranaki to stay with our friends Judy and Jim so Judy and I could go to the Taranaki Garden Festivals and David could get on with WM work without my calling on his time. But then we had a text from Jim to say Judy was in Wellington Hospital with a brain bleed after a fall off her bike. Bugger!!! 2 surgeries, with a fairly large piece of skull removed and stored for re-fitting. Double bugger!!

So this morning we went in to see her - she is doing amazingly well, so much so that the surgeon is planning to re-fit the skull section on Friday, rather than in 5 weeks or so as he originally expected. Yay!!!

She has been moved from a room with an en-suite to the Treatment Room across from the Nurses' Station - because she kept getting out of bed to go to the toilet unaided and without her helmet on. The Treatment room doesn't have a toilet ...

She's bit puffy in the face - not surprising, having skidded along the road and then having a total of 5 hours of surgery. And she is now wearing her helmet!!
Jim and Judy - she was happy to see us!


Listening to the chaps...

We were with her for over an hour today with lots of chatting and then we took Jim for lunch. And she was ready for another sleep when we left. The brain needs a fair amount of rest for healing.

We had been going to go for a bike ride when we got home but somehow neither of us felt like it...


Friday 20 October 2023

Boat for sale: Waka Huia is now on the ABNB website

Almost 2 weeks ago now ABNB had uploaded the new photos on the website listing and in to the brochure.

The link is right here!

It is exciting to see her as others will see her for the first time. And it is also sad to be letting her go.

Back when we first bought the boat, she was called Mistress. And for those of you who know me, you will understand why that had to change...

We thought long and hard about what to name 'our' boat. The name had to be meaningful and respectful, it had to speak to our being from Aotearoa New Zealand - although we weren't yet in the habit of using the Māori name for our country, we have always had a strong emotional connection to the cultural heritage of this land. The connection is visceral and compelling. And so a name that honoured that was important to us. 

We knew that we would be making memories on the boat, with family, with old friends and with new friends, and as it turned out, with the hundreds of dogs we spoke to whose owners smiled, beamed and chatted because we told their dogs they were good dogs, beautiful dogs.

We explored the beautiful English countryside, and one of the treasured memories for me is how being the lockwheeler turned David into a much more social being, much more of an initiator of interacting with strangers - he had so many conversations with a huge range of people, and that has spilled over into his non-boating life too. It's lovely.

So the name Waka Huia, which translates as Treasure Box, was and remains apposite.

We trust that the people who decide to buy her have wonderful times on board, and make special memories for their future.

If you would like to buy a lovely boat, if you have friends or family who would love to own nb Waka Huia, get yourselves or them to go and see her.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Those Jameisons are the business!

Well, nb Waka Huia finally left Debdale on Friday and I understand Rachel in the Debdale office was sad to see her (and, by association, us ) go. We are under instruction to visit when we are next in the UK. And we will, just not sure when that will be...

The trip up the locks was clearly a doddle for Irene as she took lots of photos of Ian working the locks, the views forward to the top of the locks and back down towards the Foxton Locks Inn and the side pounds. 

Ian took this photo - Irene looks quite relaxed. You can see her camera on the bench below the throttle. Safer there than where she keeps it on Free Spirit - on the stern hatch! I gave her a piece of drawer liner to put underneath the camera (and phone) so she doesn't lose them overboard...


You can see her post here. Apart from a possible hiccup of dropping Waka Huia off at North Kilworth Wharf,  she was successfully delivered to North Kilworth Marina by the inimitable 2IJ.

All the tasks were done and the boat is ready for some other family to love and enjoy her, and to build up their own treasure box of memories. 

Thank you, 2IJ - you know just how much we appreciate the time and effort you have given us. 

Waka Huia is now on the ABNB website here, albeit with the photos taken by their inspector prior to the new bowflashes and hearts. I will be watching closely to make sure those photos are swapped out so

  • the boat looks at her very best, and
  • those of you who read this blog and decide to look the boat up on the ABNB site, can see the lovely work that 2IJ have done, and
  • point your boat-desiring friends to a boat that looks attractive, inside and out.

In the meantime, we can now focus on getting the house sorted - when we moved in, stuff was stacked in cupboards, not quite willy-nilly, but definitely on the principle of getting it off the floor and out of sight. Consequently there are some very random cupboard companions ...

And a big task is once more reducing the amount of stuff we own. As about to be previous owners of a narrowboat and current owners of a motorhome, we are well aware of what we don't actually need to live well and comfortably. And we have TOO MUCH STUFF!! We reduced the stuff mountain when we left Cherswud back in 2014, and we have already reduced the stuff set of ranges when we left Rata Street. And we now need to get down to a sizable hill - maybe a mountain in UK parlance would be OK...

We have already cleared the garage so the car can go in, and I do have to keep an eye on David as he is inclined to go out and start discarding stuff without consultation. And we know how disastrous that is in terms of required stuff disappearing and the subsequent strain on marital relationships...

This morning, David set the robot vacuum cleaner going on its exploratory trip around the house.


And into the bedroom it comes ...
Of course I was in bed - I had to keep out of its way, didn't I?

This kowhai tree is right outside our kitchen window and it is amazingly wonderful to watch the tui come and feed on the flowers. I have taken video of them, but do not seem to be able to get the footage uploaded here successfully, dammit!


This is Caitlin's rose, transplanted from Cherswud and then from Rata St. It is doing very well. And we are delighted to have it with us! Thank you to Shona for her skill and care!

This morning has already been quite busy, apart from the vacuuming happening without our intervention: I've made 5 seed crackers for David, and I've pumped up the spice quotient in the hummus I made on Saturday and turned some of it into falafel so we can have donor kebabs for dinner. We have measured the size of bound rugs we need inside the three external doors and David has put some of the leftover carpet into the car for me to take to the place that binds such rugs, I've cleaned the outside table (but not the chairs that have bird poo on them ...)


Thursday 5 October 2023

Re-entry to home and progress with the boat

 The flights home are a bit of a blur to me and I think it is probably the effect of Lorazepam on my system. I took a total of two tablets spread over the 3 flights: 1/2 a tablet, 1 and then 1/2 a tablet again. Accordingly I slept on each flight, and I even managed to sleep in the Melbourne terminal on a bench of 4 seats in a waiting area/gate during our 8 hour stop there. The food on BA and Qatar was lovely; the seat/bed on BA was weirdly configured - wouldn't fly them again from Gatwick (old planes Adrian of Briar Rose tells me), and Qatar was fabulous, economy on Qantas from Melbourne to NZ was fine - I slept.

The lovely Luke brought us home complete with our huge amount of luggage. And since then I have done a lot of sleeping - much of it during the day and not so much at night ... David, of course, adjusts much more easily than I do.

I have had a taste of work deja vu over the last few days: ABNB have sent us drafts of the brochure. And as is my wont, and as no one who has ever worked with me would be surprised at, I have taken to each draft with vigour! No red pen and yellow stickies, but only because the marked up draft had to be scanned so it could be returned for amendment.  

I have been my usual fastidious self about the content and accuracy of the text, the suitability of the photos - situation normal, let's not f*ck this up rather than SNAFU...

One thing that put a bit of a spanner in the works was that Debdale had over-promised what they could do in terms of the task list I had left them with. They had taken on more work than they could handle and staff shortages and leave were exacerbating that.

Having found out in a phone call with the head honcho that there was unlikely to be any progress until at least the middle of next week, I sent a potentially begging text to the wonderful, amazing, fabulous 2IJ. I knew they were somewhere near Wolverton and I knew that by car that's not terribly far from Debdale.

They texted back and I called them - that was very very late on Wednesday night here (Wed lunchtime for them). I was only awake because I had been to WOW, the World of Wearable Art show in Wellington, and I'd picked up the new to us car prior to that (a RED 2022 Honda Jazz Crosstar with only 4200kms on the clock).

And as is their wont, they had stayed put after receiving my text because they had a strong inkling we needed them to help. And need them we did.

They are such a marvellous pair - they said yes to helping, they said yes to going and staying on board Waka Huia (rather than our paying for a night for them at The Three Swans in Market Harborough) and doing the work on the list, and they said yes to delivering the boat to ABNB at North Kilworth Marina. We feel so lucky to have such kind and talented friends!

One of the key tasks they have done - and it is the task that meant I was woken up at 2.30 this morning to make decisions - is fitting the new bowflashes, the transfer variety. The discussion was about the size (a bit short so some of the tatty painted one had to be rigorously sanded off - both sides), the correct orientation, i.e. which was the right way up. The end results are just great! They also fitted a heart transfer on the gas locker lid and the duck hatch lid - they look very cool and we are so pleased! And I am perfectly happy to have been woken up - it does mean I am b*ggered now but so what!

Discussion and decision time at 2.30am - is this the right way up. Nope!


Yes Yes Yes!!! The bottom border needs to match the line of the boat's hull - for balance and it's the only way that I think it is satisfying to look at.

And then when we woke up this morning these photos were on my phone:

Looking smashing, eh?

The duck hatch has been hearted!

Job done!! And looking very smart!

And another close up! Looking smart, eh? And check out that heart on the gas locker lid.

Dinner was on us, knock yourselves out, I said, 3 courses and good wine. If I am not there to feed them, I need the local hostelry to do a good job of it!


This lovely pair went to the pub in Gumley for their evening meal. I hope that was a good wine, Irene - life's too short to drink the bad stuff!


Gumley Smokies for Ian - haddock and bacon in a cream sauce with cheese on the top (I had to ask) and lasagne for Irene. I do wonder how much of that salad got eaten ... No dessert apparently.

To reciprocate, I sent this to Irene - she said I looked bleary-eyed...

Given Ian and Irene were dining, I decided to make breakfast for us and have it in bed.

Fresh sourdough, yummy little tomatoes and scrambled eggs. I sent this photo to Irene too.


And I shared the crust of the fresh sourdough with David - that is a sacrifice indeed. I am collecting my Good Wife Award with Merit Stars shortly...

This morning, UK time, Ian is going to do a final oil change, they will get a pumpout and fill with diesel, and then head for Foxton Locks and away to North Kilworth.

Because they have been so efficient and are able to get the boat to North Kilworth on Friday, the boat will be shown to anyone interested over the weekend. Yay!!!

While I was awake in the depths of the night, I also did a final check of the brochure so it could be signed off - working across time zones can be quite efficient for turn around times - I found 3 little things that had been missed and agreed that new photos that included the bow area would be taken to show the very smart looking bowflashes that Waka Huia has now!

So Waka Huia will be officially on sale with ABNB from late Friday afternoon - and that has only been able to happen because of the lovely and wonderfully kind Ian and Irene. Thank you so very much, dear friends.

Lovely warm sunny afternoon yesterday, so we sat outside on our new patio and had an early dinner of soup and cheese scones accompanied by sparkling grape juice. It was celebratory because we knew that on the other side of the world, very shortly after this, Ian and Irene would be getting ready to set off to Debdale on a rescue mission.

Selfie time - David always tries to see if he is visible on the screen, hence he is squinting a bit. I assure you though, he was happy. Who wouldn't be - things were coming together with the boat, the sun was out, I'd made soup and he loves soup.

Today's crop of sourdough - the starter is back!!!

We cleared the garage floor so the lovely new car could go inside. It fits!!

OK, I don't know if you are aware, but I was up for a long period overnight. Now I am officially tired and I am heading for bed!