Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Garden tours & weekend adventures

Taken in London, October 2006

This weekend reminded me of wandering around public gardens in London as I came across some of the most amazing roses in both cases but in London they were at least labelled. I'm not sure if we can get this rose here but I remember that it had the most amazing fragrance. This weekend I came across other amazing roses but because it was all in private gardens, nothing was labelled so I'm not able to find them again.

The garden tour was on Saturday which was fine but there was a very cold easterly blowing. Most of the gardens had great shelter so we ended up almost too hot and I'm not complaining. My neighbour, Y., had organised the tickets and it was over in the West Melton area so the gardens were all very large. One of these days I must do a town garden tour so I can see how people cope with small sections.

But it was interesting. I found that the gardens I liked the best were those that were full of plants and had lots of nooks and crannies. One garden in particular was being set up in a grand scale and I found it to have no soul - it appeared to all be for show and it didn't feel lived in. First time I'd been to a garden where I've had that reaction! There were 5 gardens in total and we were to go around them in a certain order to allow the entertainment to happen. What happened for us was that we ended up going around them before the entertainment as it allowed us more time to browse without getting interrupted. It also meant that we missed the crowds (and mad drivers) which was an added bonus.

Seeing all those gardens did inspire me though. I came home and did some weeding before it started to rain on me. I weeded around my herbs that had disappeared into the jungle and when it came time to get the parsley on Monday night, it was easy to find. I must buy some pea straw this week to smother the new weeds that will now be frantically growing.

Sunday was a picnic brunch out at Waihora Domain. Once again it was a very cold easterly but once our friends had positioned their campervan upwind to block it, it became very hot when the sun came out. And yes, I've now had my first sunburn (extremely mild) for the season. Its not summer until I've been sunburnt. I am an incredibly slow learner! I carry sunblock in all the cars and I would say that I always put it on, except that I always get burnt at least once a season. Very frustrating as I have very pale skin and burn to a crisp in what seems like nan0-seconds.

By midday we'd decided to head off and do some Christmas shopping which was great. I got all my nephews and nieces presents and we were home again by mid-afternoon. I've still got a long way to go but at least I have the important presents done. We're planning on getting our Christmas tree this weekend as well. Very exciting.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Another month over already

Now that its December I can officially start thinking about Christmas. I find it very hard to do any Christmas shopping before December as it seems far too early. I struggled with the fact that in the UK all the department stores had their Christmas shops set up in October - it seemed obscenely early!

Its the first official day of summer and to celebrate we have a very cold southerly. 2 days ago we had screaming nor'westers and very high temperatures and today I have the heater on in my office. At least the weather is consistently predictable: 2-3 days hot & windy, 2-3 days cold & wet which should mean that the weekend will be fine as yesterday it rained as well!

Speaking of yesterday, I had a fantastic day. I took the morning off (which turned into the afternoon as well) and helped my friend J. in her business. She owns a furniture rental business and was putting furniture into an empty house that was for sale. There was a bit of a time constraint as the first open home was at 3pm yesterday afternoon but we thought we'd easily get it done.

Issue #1: Raining, therefore when shifting the furniture it all had to be covered with sheets to protect it.
Issue #2: Very narrow windy drive that you can't get the furniture truck up and its a back section.

Put those two things together and it meant lugging all the furniture by hand up the drive, without it getting wet or damaged and, more importantly, without hurting ourselves! But we made it.

I found it fascinating to see how different the house felt after we'd put the furniture in. The difference was really obvious when we were part way through and people started coming in to see the house. Even though the open day was at 3pm, real estate agents were bringing people through before that which did slow us down quite a bit. You can't really continue to assemble a bed when people are standing in the middle of the bedroom or vacuum around them! But the furniture made quite a difference because people were exclaiming that the second bedroom does fit a double bed once we'd put one in.

But it all took us a lot longer than we expected and we only walked out of the house at 2.20pm! I was absolutely shattered, so after I'd dropped J's car back home, I took myself off to Cafe Red at the Riccarton Library for lunch. I went there because our friend Walpole runs it and I hadn't been there before. He was able to come and sit with me for a while which was lovely. It was a great spot and the food and company were excellent. Another point in its favour is that the cafe is right by the magazine racks so there's plenty of excellent reading material available.

By then it was 3.30pm and it would take me half an hour to get to work so I bailed on the whole idea, went grocery shopping (so exciting!) and then on home. At which point another issue arose. Namely that I didn't have a door key! Remember that it was raining as well. So I spent a good half hour breaking into the house, which I eventually managed to do. I would not make a good burglar. At one point I'd actually given up and went across to the neighbours to cadge a coffee but they weren't there so I had to go back and try again. Serve me right for not having the key on me.

I was a very tired little girl last night after my big day out.

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