Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Holidays

We have spent most of the holidays catching up on some chores and otherwise just relaxing and enjoying our house.

Christmas cookies - Stars, bells and hippos (supposedly there is a song about wanting a hippo for christmas - so totally valid to have Christmas hippo cookies)

The grass we planted in the last post has been growing. It is a bit patchy so I added a bit more dirt and grass seed.

According to the news this has been the nicest Christmas weather in forty years. The plants in the greenhouse seem to agree, every time we go in there they seem to be another inch taller.

Our Christmas presents to each other. They were unfinished when we bought them and Helen has spent the last two days painting them.

When we first coated the deck I bought the wrong stuff and it turned out a bit darker than we wanted. I sanded it back and re-coated it with something a bit lighter in colour.

The deck now looks a bit more like the wood on the inside of the house.

Monday, December 12, 2011


We had a big push on the garden this past weekend. We went and got rocks for the front steps Saturday morning. I spent the rest of the day putting down weed mat and spreading the rocks and gravel on the front steps.

Pavers set and surrounded by pea gravel

Sunday Helen did heaps of weeding and I planted new grass in the bit above the steps.

New grass (hopefully anyway) - the chicken wire is to discourage pussy cats from using the area as a litter box.

I also bought and assembled a BBQ.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mt Owen, Kahurangi National Park

With the excuse of the annual New Zealand Geology conference and Aaron lining up some work in Nelson we took the opportunity to have a long weekend and do some tramping in Kahurangi National Park. We had seen some amazing pictures from the glaciated karst region of Mt Owen and decided that we had to go and see it for ourselves. So after being delayed a day due to heavy rainfall we headed up the valley to the Mt Owen carpark. We had to cross a few rivers - but fortunately they had all gone down enough to get our little hire car across. The road grader was also just going the other way and despite having just cleared the road had caused another little slip. So we spent a few minutes clearing a few boulders off the road with the help of the DOC ranger that had come along. Finally we set off from the car park at Courthouse Flats - an old mining site.

The track up along Blue Creek was lovely to start, but then climbed steeply up the side of the valley with lots of tree branches down from the recent storm. Then we got up on to the ridge, where we started to get some great views from the top of the staircase. After a relatively hard tramp in which took about 4 hours we got to the relatively new Granity Pass Hut (rebuilt in 2008) at 3pm and spent the afternoon sitting in the sun reading our books. We had a peaceful night in the hut with no one else there and just the wind howling past the hut.

Granity Pass Hut

The next morning we headed up the moraine towards Mt Owen. There was still some patches of snow on the mountain and we lost the track about 3/4 of the way to the top - but it didn't matter as we just found our own way. The limestone rock is really grippy so it was really easy to climb around on it and explore. The scenery really is very different from anything else we have seen in New Zealand.

Playing in the limestone crevasses - the classic photo found in all the guide books!

More crazy limestone outcrops

Climbing up Mt Owen we were in the lee of the hill and out of the wind. But when we got to the top we were almost blown off. We didn't get much of a view either as the clouds were still hanging around the summit. However, as we descended the clouds lifted and we got to see the mountain in all its glory.

The eponymous Mt Owen

Back down at the hut by 3pm and a group of 12 from the local tramping club turned up. So we had to share the hut and with some impressive snorers it wasn't quite such a peaceful night. It was also the night of the general election - so quite a bit of talk about politics.... we had to wait until we came across the first store on our drive back to Nelson before we found out the result. Great to hear that so many green party MPs were elected!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The deck is pretty much finished and it is huge!

The "temporary" deck

Full length shot

And now with all the treads

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Yesterday we had our annual Thanksgiving party. Helen claims that I only have the parties so that I can eat turkey and judging by the whole three pictures I took it would be pretty easy to believe her.

The guest of honour, all 6.8kg of him.

There were people there too. All up I think we had 15 adults and 6 children. Most of the younger children busied themselves with my collection of Lego blocks and the older ones took turns swinging in and climbing on my hammock. The adults chatted away and kept eyes on children.

It was a beautiful day with a slight southerly which meant we were able to open up all the doors. Sadly the back wasn't finished in time, so we didn't have as much room to spread out as we would have liked. It will be great for the rest of summer though.

Helen cooked the turkey, stuffing and a giant pot of mashed potatoes and everyone contributed a plate of something. If anyone asked me what to bring I told them dessert as it is my favourite. So we had quite a few to choose from.

Helen cooked a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin and a pavlova as well for a Kiwi twist.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Gravel down around the greenhouse

And the side of the house

Footings for the steps

And on the south side of the house. The steps I have been making will eventually connect up with these.

More work being done on the front of the house.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Matt finished the paving on Thursday so that we could put the greenhouse together on the weekend. The weather was crap on Saturday so I started assembling the greenhouse in the garage. Sunday, however, was a beautiful day so we spent most of the morning finishing the greenhouse.

Mifi had been helping but she disappeared. We found her a short time later taking shelter from the sun in one of the boxes.

A hint of where the cat was hiding.

Enjoying the shade.

Attaching the top to the base

The finished product

Helen brought home some rocks on Saturday, so we were finally able to finish off the front of the extension.

All filled in. Now we just have to finish the rest of the terraces.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Landscaping around the back

Work has begun on the area behind the house - a new deck, paving for the greenhouse and gravel for everywhere else. This area doesn't drain very well so they have dug a channel (the gravel bit down the centre of the picture) to help reduce the puddles that appear in heavy or prolonged rain.

Footings for the new deck

Preparing the area where the new pavers will go

The new pavers waiting to be mortared in

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Heaps of new flax, ferns and other things on the bank

Lancewood left, Pittosporum on the right with renga rengas all around

A couple of climbing plants between the daisies.

From left to right kowhai, pittoporum, lancewood and cabbage tree in the corner

Helper kitty number one

Helper kitty number two

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tree removal

Special bonus blog...

The tree trimmer came today.

The pohutakawa is gone. You can now see the whole of the extension from the street.

As is the laceybark. We can see a bit more the neighbours but the tree is not taking over the garden anymore.

We can see heaps more of the hills

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Staining breeze boards

Breeze boards re-stained

Another step added

More weeding completed

Living room greenhouse

Monday, October 24, 2011

Labour Day long weekend

Helen had guide camp for the first half of the weekend and I spread my time between the garden and the garage. I adjusted the travel on a couple of suspension forks and swapped them between bikes. My old Reba Team with a fresh new damper cartridge went on the Duster along with the original crankset from the GT and a new chain and cassette.

Out in the garden, I tweaked the bottom step on the south side of the house, making it wider. It now extends all the way to the under-house access. This area had just been an uneven pile of dirt. By extending the step, it makes a nice smooth surface to walk on while ducking under the steps. It also makes for a nice transition for the gravel I put under the steps.

Still a bit of work to do on the back bit.

On the north side of the house I have hacked the slope back a bit so I can build a small block retaining wall. The bit between the wall and the house is going to get weed-matted and gravelled.

Helen weeded around the Chatham Island Forget-Me-Nots.

On Monday I got most of a third step sorted before lunch. My drill bit broke so I couldn't screw down the bit next to the house.

After lunch Karl came around and we worked on getting his bike sorted, while Helen went to visit a friend who just had a baby.