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Saturday, November 18, 2017

20 years today

That's us, it's our 20th anniversary today.

Looking back.

1997, Christmas - Wellington Botanic Gardens. No glasses and four grey hairs, all mine.

2008, Mischa's birthday at Kiama. Glasses have arrived. Mischa's blond moment and my red moment.

2017, Mischa's birthday and the anniversary month - Queenstown. Mish now has four grey hairs but this is a rare shot without her glasses. Getting wrinkly!

Mish made me a weedy sea dragon  as an anniversary present - now hanging in the living room. 
It's fabulous, darling.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Weekend in snowy Queenstown

We flew down for four days last weekend and it was fabulous. Hired a car, walked around town - everything open until about 9, it sure is a tourist town. Rode the gondola and that was the most adventurous sporty thing we did.

Walking around town.

View from the top of the gondola, looking down at Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

On the way up - a family of goats lounging.

The Remarkables  across Lake Wakatipu from shopping area.

Drove out to Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka, very scenic. It is late spring but the Remarkables and the Crown Range and the Southern Alps have loads of snow.

Lake Wanaka, with kite surfers.

Drove out to Glenorchy too, nice little town not much happening, but talk about scenic drive out there, phew. Lots of photo stops. Very Scotland-like, driving into the mountains.

Mish with beech leaves.

Glenorchy is the gateway to tramping tracks, including the Routeburn Track. We drove out to the track, through lamb-laden paddocks along a narrow unsealed road, and walked the first part of the Routeburn in light drizzle. Mossy beech forest - it was cold and lovely.

Gotta get that macro...

Here's one.

So we had a great few days down there. It snowed on our last night and we woke up to a white view. Much wearing of beanies!

Leaving town, great views of the alps and lakes.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

New roof view on a windy day

Mish went up as the roofers were finishing and shot this noisy windy video in a 360 pan, from the eastern native bush hills, past the harbour and city, and western paddocks.

Work begins to prettify the bottom of the yard

And about time!

For six years it's been a dog's breakfast of dumped materials, weeds, rock hard soil, two trees that struggle, and the compost, which has actually done reasonably well and finally has good old worms.

So the rejuvenation is on.

Here's the starting point, compost on right. Our plan is to shift it over to the left. The major work though is a wood/metal trellis along the boundary fence, over which we'll grow jasmine and whatever will handle low sun and wind. At the moment it's quite a nice area down here, good sun and reasonably sheltered, but there's a house going up at our back which will stuff that up a bit.

Next photo - we scored a long metal gate which will get attached to the posts. There's the vacant block, but it's sold and the plans are in. We want to block that view.

Next photo - post hole digging, concrete mixing, and posts start to go in. Much levelling and pondering the design, as you can imagine.

Compost is on the way over (much shovelling). It's bigger, better built with defined sections, and will be better rain proofed. Still made with pallets - they are so useful. And the back is still the heavy spud ugly sliding door that was in the main bedroom when we bought the house. Much better in use as a compost back. Swan plants in foreground,. We're hoping we have better luck with the monarch butterflies this year and they should be laying eggs pretty soon.

That's as far as we've got.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

More gabions!

Cause you can't have too many. Especially when you have rubble. So, our chimney came down in the roof works, and we thought, we'll keep that and build four rubble filled gabions lining the bottom of the driveway.

It took the roofers about four hours to knock it down, and then they stacked it beautifully for us at the top of the drive. There it is in a photo in the previous post. Chimney stays onsite and we have repurposed it. Today we shifted all the rubble to the bottom of the drive.

We bought the wire cages this time, much easier. Twisted wire around them and voila, four wire cages - gabions.

Yesterday we did two.  We were minding Rusty the dog after a cruciate ligament op, so he had to stay quietly in the van beside us.

We had to dig out a bit of dirt, good soil too, and barrow it up the driveway and down the steps at the back. What with that and the rubble shifting, two sore backs. Ow and ow.

And today we did the other two.

Done and dusted and ready for a gin and tonic.

It's been a lovely couple of days to work outside, and go the Naprogesic is all I can say right now. We'll sleep well tonight.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sun setting way round to the south now

Monday, looking west to Mt Kaukau from a nice wide safely opening bedroom window. Heaven.
Van and stacked chimney pieces at top of the driveway.

Warm evening, had dinner outside. But shot inside when the sun went behind the western hills. Instantly a bit chillier.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday fruit and veg markets

Bit of a lazy wet weekend.

Walked down to the Johnsonville markets today in a light drizzle. It's about 20 minutes there and 25 minutes back. It's at a primary school and the mayor was there just standing around talking to people, so Mish had a chat with him. Next local election is about three years away, so good to see councillors out and about.

Haven't done a walk to the fruit and veg markets before, as we usually get a bunch of stuff inc. spuds, onions, apples. That can get quite heavy on the way home.

This is one way up and the way we walked home today - 230 steps. Good for the heart rate.

Took a few photos on the way and accidentally deleted most of them just now. So here is one more only, some lovely korokia.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Weekend in Whanganui

Whanganui is about a two and half hour drive north of here, on the west coast. We drove up Saturday and went to an art opening - one of Mischa's pals from her studio space - spent the night in a motel. And, during the night (11pm Sydney time) Mish became a great aunt! She is pretty chuffed with niece and great niece and was up at 1 am NZ time to celebrate on the phone with grandma Janey.

Next day we had a walk in an old forest on Sunday before a rainy drive home.

Lots of blossoms and lambs and calves and green paddocks. And rhododendron! On a back road, had to pull over for this one.

Mish with Ratanui, a big rata tree that is hundreds of years old - and so it gets its own name.

With lots of life in it. Epiphytes and other trees sitting in its branches, and vines and ferns and all sorts of blow-ins, and god only knows how many creepy crawlies.

Nice to wander round. Just us and a bit of drizzling rain and a couple of fast walking talking German gals.

Grey evening. Hand held shot out the bedroom window.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Election day 2017

Mum and I voting at one of my primary schools. Mish votes too. About one million people pre-voted, but there's something nice about voting on the day itself.

Daylight saving is back

And it's been weeks since the last post - gosh, what's been happening?

We had a fast and enjoyable week in Oz: Kangaroo Valley, Southern Highlands and Castle Hill, and we came back to scaffolding around the house. Then the roofers turned up and now we have a shiny new grey roof. Mish has been wanting one of those since we got here, six years ago.

It was really nice to have a week off and see some old pals.

Now we are pottering around the place, planting, weeding, constructing etc. We've kept some sheets of roofing to reconstruct the compost area and build planter boxes. And we kept the chimney that came down as chunks of concrete. One project for those chunks is to support an outdoor fire. Here's the experimental first version, using the Sky satellite dish that also came off the roof. That worked ok.

But version #2 will work better. I scored an old honey drum off a guy at work and Mish is cutting it in half: one length for the fire and one for a planter box. The girl does love her power tools.

She then cut one of the halves across its width, to slide the two bits together and make a smaller container. Then she riveted them and voila, firepit.

We used plates I saved years ago from dad's old barbecue and they sit perfectly inside, so we can cook on it too. I dug  a bit of lawn out and put in chimney bits to sit the drum on. We'll run some pavers around the chunks of concrete and build a bit of seating on two sides of the firepit, so she will look prettier and be comfy. So, a bit of fun on cool starry nights, watching the ISS go over and scooping out a hot buttery baked potato, mmmm.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Almost spring

Days are longer and it's definitely warming up; we are approaching 20 degrees slooooowwwly. This a big deal for Mish and I as we got gypped last summer (there wasn't one) and the summer before that was cancelled by mum's illness. So we are hanging out for summer days 2017.

Just had a lovely weekend and pottered in the garden and took a couple of walks out and about town.

Wellington's Karori Cemetery is big and old, like Rookwood in Sydney. Rambling and overgrown and pretty hilly. Soldiers section, religious sections, crypts and so on. There was a bit of scrambling and reading of broken and busted inscriptions.

Some were simply...gone.

Sunday we strolled the botanical gardens where there is much winter flowering and spring leaf bud. Glorious rhododendrons in fire engine reds and white magnolia and tulips on the way.

It's a cool garden, sitting above the city with great views across the harbour and the CBD. And finally the dinky kiosk at the top of the cable car has gone and we have a nice big swish cafe with views (and delicious brown rice balls with tahini mmmm - don't get distracted Carol). So we got some nosh and sat on a quiet bit of grass and had an impromtu picnic.

Mish with a sun warmed Henry Moore.

Who doesn't love a meadow?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Winter, windows, shed & cockatiel

A few things have been happening in Wellington.

Shed's done!
That's #3, with a bit of shelving to go in and fine tuning. It's nice and big and dry and fits that corner nicely.

This is the long view past the front door. Am straightening a hose. Will get some deck stain onto the whole deck area one fine day soon to make it cohesive.

And across the winter veg garden (with some sad spinach, spring onions, struggling peas, and the ever perky broad beans). The whole yard is looking like a tip at the moment, half done projects all over, from Carol's driftwood paling fence on the street to stacked timber  bits EVERYWHERE and the compost we are about to move at the bottom of the yard.

And windows are in too.

New uPVC french doors being installed (unplasticised poly vinyl chloride) which sounds horrible I know, (says Mish), but which has many benefits over aluminium and looks good. The original painted timber frame (architrave) stays put and the new window or door joinery is securely screwed into the opening.

Adrian (always singing to The Breeze radio station) has taken out our old timber window. See the corner of the new window on left.

The new frames are in. Double glass panel only takes about 8 minutes to install into each frame. Super quick :)

 All new double glazed UPVC you beaut windows. They look great and we have a warmer house and a slightly quieter one too. No more air and rain leaks, yippee!

Meanwhile, outside.
We bought some wattles to fill a space and they are about to flower. Here's Mish putting them in, With a bit of river rock and mulch landscaping and a new timber retaining wall and bay to hold 'em. Go you yellow things.

Today was lovely, warm and calm. Not spring yet but it is coming. Some blossoms around too, at work in the river valley, not up here on the windy exposed heights.

Had a walk on the waterfront tonight and dinner at the old yacht club right beside a marina. Then another walk and realised it is a full moon. Here's the best I could do with the point and shoot, looking across one of the marinas to Mt Victoria, Freyberg Pool the  blue smudgey lights on the left and St Gerards up the hill.

And, the cockatiel.
Mish heard chirping - it was sitting outside and very happy to come inside. Made itself right at home for about a week, Scoffing our tamari almonds and sitting on our shoulders.

Very sociable bird - Mish made a driftwood perch which it loved.  Couldn't track the owner but we found a kid with an aviary nearby so bye bye birdie.

We were just talking about this photo - it's a moment in time. When we nursed a bird, the last days of the old windows, and Sean's potboilers that he gave us when he came to work on the shed.