Friday, April 27, 2007

Holiday report

Baby seals playing in stream near Kaikoura, 21st April 2007

When you're towing the boat the drive is always longer so we decided to leave Saturday morning and enjoy the drive and the sights. We drove out of our place at 9.30am feeling quite relaxed and stopped for morning tea at Cheviot and lunch at Kaikoura. Really cannot recommend where we stopped for lunch - the coffee was absolutely hideous, undrinkable even. I don't know how people can make terrible coffee. Don't they ever drink what they make?

We'd heard from my parents about a stream north of Kaikoura that baby seals play in while their mothers are out fishing for the day so decided to explore it. When we pulled up there were a couple of very excited children there that were yelling about seeing the seals - I'm staggered that there were still baby seals there as they were so loud.

We trekked off up to the waterfall (it's only a 10 minute easy walk) stopping to peer into the stream now and then but never saw them. The waterfall is lovely but that wasn't the point. I was terribly disappointed but on the way back down we heard them splashing around. They had already started back down to the sea to see if their mothers were back yet. They were having a lovely time slithering over the rocks and leaping around in the rock pools but they were also very cautious, stopping to listen and look from time to time. They were incredibly difficult to photograph as you can imagine - in a bush stream with no sunlight. We had to follow them quietly downstream before I was able to get any shots.

We called in to visit I.'s brother and s-i-l in Blenheim for an early afternoon tea which was lovely. We stayed with them at Christmas and had a lovely time. I.'s brother D. is an artist and he had even more of his paintings set up around his studio. He said that he's selling a lot of paintings that depict the local area, for example, all the vineyards. Talented bloke.

By the time we got to the house in the Sounds it was about 5.30pm. We had to fight our way in through all the cobwebs. The house hadn't been used for at least 2 months and it always seems to get overrun with those long legged, pale inside spiders that like to sling long thin cobwebs across doorways at about face height. Charming. I vacuumed the bedroom before we set up in it because although I'm not scared of spiders, I'm not all that thrilled with the thought of them landing on me during the night.

It was definitely autumnal up there. We didn't light the log fire at night because the house always heats up well during the days but first thing in the morning was definitely chilly. The bedroom we sleep in doesn't have any curtains so you tend to wake up when the sun gets up, which I enjoy. Its a very easy way to wake up.

I. spent Sunday and Monday out fishing in his boat. High tide was around midday which meant launching the boat was always challenging as the bay is very shallow. Monday morning he was out in the boat at 5am (!!!) but did admit that that was possibly a little early as it was actually too dark to see and he had to tie up to a mooring until it got light enough to see to carry on. Unfortunately he didn't get a single snapper bite which he was devastated about. Spotties, herrings and kawhai he had limited success with but they were not wanted so got put back.

To top it all off, we then had a contretemps with the boat shed door. To close the door a length of rope had been tied to it with a loop in the end so you could pull it down. Do you see where I'm going with this? As we pulled the boat out on Tuesday, neither of us were really paying attention and the loop caught on the front of the boat which, of course, then pulled the door out into a lovely V shape!! We nearly cried. Our friends are so kind to us in lending us the batch and then we destroy the boat shed door.

Luckily I. is a handy bloke but even so it took him about an hour to push and hammer the door back into a reasonable shape. One of the runners on the side had pulled off so we had to partially dismantle the door to get it all back together. By the time he'd finished, if you didn't know I doubt that you'd notice but it wasn't a pleasant feeling to know that we'd have to confess all to the owners when we returned. [They were completely relaxed about it but we'll have to see how they feel after they've seen it.] The door runs smoothly and can be locked but its not perfect.

So, not a good note to finish on. We spent Wed morning cleaning and getting the last of the spiders that we hadn't got over the previous few days and headed off home again about lunchtime. Late lunch in Kaikoura and home again on dark. Have I mentioned how slow it is when you're towing a trailer? I have? Damn, I'd wanted to reiterate how long it all takes but I guess I shouldn't harp on about it then. At least this time we didn't get a puncture that took half a day to fix because the boat trailer has rare sized wheels so that's something to be thankful for.

I think that I had a better break than I. He got to go fishing unsuccessfully with his brother but he was really thrown by the carnage we created. I read 5 books, did a little walking and lots of eating. Very relaxing really. Looking forward to our next holiday already.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

5 day break

Are you jealous? Are you? Huh? This is the view from the deck of the holiday house we stay in looking out over Keneperu Sound and was taken Tuesday middayish. Beautiful, clear, windless and quiet because it wasn't a holiday weekend.

I've got more to say but really need to do some work to make up for the two days off I've had so I'll close with 5 books read, spot of house cleaning (house hadn't been visited for two months) and a contretemps with the boat shed door. All will be related in a later post.


Friday, April 20, 2007

General catch up

I don't have anything particular to say so thought I'd just post a selection of rambling thoughts!
  • Saw a shooting star as we drove home last night. Seriously cool. Haven't seen one for ages. This is the advantage of shorter days - it increases the likelihood of spotting shooting stars.
  • I. and I both caught colds over Easter weekend. He's over his and I'm still revoltingly snotty. How come? Its not fair. I'm so over this.
  • Going up to the Sounds for 5 days!!! Theoretically, we should leave tonight but as we're towing the boat it makes for a much slower journey so we're leaving tomorrow morning. The theory goes that we'll be in Kaikoura for morning tea (coffee and cake looking at the sea) and Blenheim for lunch. As absolutely nothing is packed yet I'm not sure how we're going to execute that particular plan. The only thing we've organised so far is asking our fabulous neighbours to feed the cat, which they can do.
  • Its a fantastically sunny day today. I noticed that the oak trees by the river opposite Princess Margaret Hospital are looking brilliant - all red and orange colours. At work we've had the paraponters floating down from the hills behind us to the park in the valley. It looks very cool but there's still no way I'll ever do it.
  • Spoke to the little blister this morning (Hi E). She was raving about the fantastic home made curry she was eating as she spoke to me but as I was in morning mode, it did absolutely nothing for me.
OK, enough with the dots. I think my brain just fell out. Have a great weekend and Anzac Day everyone.

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Monday, April 16, 2007


I went along to the opening night of 'Cats' on Friday night, put on by Showbiz at the Theatre Royal and it was great. I'd never seen it before but was very familiar with the music. Unfortunately, due to I's inability to take Day/Night tablets when he's got a cold, he wasn't able to go as planned so I took my (very pregnant) sister-in-law J. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

There's a lot to be said for going on opening night. You've got no preconceived notions about what the show will be like and can just get on with being involved. The theatre was absolutely full. Apparently half an hour before the show started there were 5 seats not sold and they were in the back row of the gods. It was a bit of a scrum getting a cold drink in the interval but that's to be expected in that situation.

I felt that everyone in the show was very professional. They are all amateurs and have day jobs so I can only assume that they had a lot of rehearsals because the dancing was excellent. Everyone kept in cat character very well. I only spotted one obvious mistake when two cast members ran into each other during a particularly frenetic dance scene but they recovered well. One cat's tail came off but she was able to reattach it in the interval. Minor hiccups that can happen in any show.

So, I can thoroughly recommend the show and I'm really glad I made the effort to go on opening night. Its something I must remember to do for other productions I want to see. Nice to hear that the show is almost sold out, even with some extra shows they've put into the season.

It was an incredibly cold night. J. had brought along a woolly hat to wear on the way to and from the theatre and when we walking back to the car afterwards, I really envied her the hat. I could feel the heat draining from my head as we walked.

We called in at Winnie Bagoes to have a coffee and a bit of a wind down. It was quite amusing watching some of the young girls faces when they saw how pregnant J. is! Going into bars nowdays is so much more pleasant as its all non-smoking. It has certainly increased my comfort levels. The smokers didn't look so thrilled as they huddled in the alleyway around the brazier. I'm very grateful I never started.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Giant dust bunnies

I am not a naturally tidy person and neither is I. so together we create chaos in our house. On Easter Monday I'd had enough of our completely trashed bedroom and spent the whole afternoon degunging it and I'd have to say that my dust bunnies had morphed into giant were-bunnies that lurked in the corners and growled whenever I approached.

I moved every piece of furniture in the room and cleared everything off the floor and its amazing how much more spacious the room feels now. Plus, I have a feeling of virtuousness which always helps.

I hate housework with a passion but I live in an old villa that generates dust as a natural by-product of its age plus, living in a small country village, we get a lot of outside dust (nor'west winds, burnoffs, that sort of thing). I'm not complaining about living in a small village - I love it. BUT country living can be messy and when one is not houseproud, the mess and dirt builds up without one really noticing until the dust bunnies start to growl.

The upside of not being particularly houseproud is that when does do an attack on a room, its extremely satisfying as the results are SPECTACULAR. All that's left to do is the bay window sill and going through drawers to make room for stuff that has been living on the floor. Throwing out things is extremely satisfying and I'm in the mood to do more.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Again with the autumn

The making of quince & tomato jam, May 2006

I just realised this morning as I looked at my fruit bowl, that its full of fantastic autumn bounty, most of which has been supplied from friends' gardens. Quinces, big fat vine ripened tomatoes, small sweet grapes, lemons and feijoas (store bought as I couldn't wait).

Quince and tomato jam making is on the menu for the weekend and if I'm really brave, I might even try quince jelly. I've never made jelly before so feel quite daunted about the whole process. The up side is that if it doesn't work, there's still more quinces to be harvested.

This morning it was only about 6 degrees when I exited the house but its turned into a fantastic sunny day with a gentle breeze. One of the joys of this time of year is having leaves fall on you as you walk to drive around - so cool.