Saturday, 31 December 2005

Four photos

I'm posting four photos which I've taken over the last couple of days, chronicling our current preoccupations (some might say obsessions.)

1. Cats

At last, we've got a decent photo of both kittens together. This wasn't easy. Thank goodness for digital cameras, otherwise I'd have run through at least ten rolls of film on kitten shots already!

Pookie (l) and Mo (r)

2. DIY

We've been stocking up on tools, decorating supplies and gardening equipment from the local DIY megastore, Mitre 10. We must have made about a dozen visits in the last week. I'm not joking - most days we've made more than one trip. It's starting to get embarrassing!

The frantic buyout of Mitre 10 is partly due to our decision to start decorating the living room tomorrow, and partly due to Iain's decision to follow in his dad's footsteps and take up woodworking. To this end he made himself a workbench yesterday. Here he is, putting in the final screws. I'm impressed.

He Did It Himself!

3. Exploring the local area

We think we might have found a beach to replace Whatipu in our affections. It's called Ototoka and is about half an hour's drive west of the city. It has a wild, windswept charm with fine, black sand, lots of driftwood, sandstone cliffs and even a waterfall.

Ototoka Beach

Virginia Lake Park is a beautiful area of mature parkland in the upmarket suburb of St. John's Hill. It's easy to imagine Victorian ladies with their parasols taking a leisurely walk around the paths and feeding the ancestors of the current ducks. I decided to take my shoes off and dangle my feet in the lake, unaware that I was sitting in duck pooh. Oh well, with two kittens to look after, my life seems to involve rather a lot of pooh at the moment!

Virginia Lake, Wanganui

Monday, 26 December 2005

Cemetery Race

Super Moto Race

It's Boxing Day in Wanganui, so it must be time for a bike race! Every year folks come from all over the place (including someone from the UK) to ride around the Cemetery circuit, a street circuit which goes through the middle of the town cemetery. It was great fun, if a tad warm, and to follow it up there's a rock concert in the local stadium.

Sidecars in the Cemetery!

Big boys toys!

Sunday, 25 December 2005

Christmas Day

Primitive Kiwi bloke discovers fire

The weather's been a bit grey and overcast here today, but we went ahead and christened our barbecue anyway.

This morning one of our neighbours called round bearing a card and a fruit cake, which was a really lovely gesture. The cake's pretty lovely too!

After lunch we went for a two-hour walk along the river and around the town, and since then we've just spent some time chilling out and sitting down with our feet up, something we've done precious little of in the last few weeks.

We've given ourselves an enforced day off today, but it will be good to get back to 'work' tomorrow, on our continuing quest to get the house shipshape. Jobs we've pencilled in for tomorrow are sorting both our our hobby rooms and buying some essential gardening equipment. We're also planning on trying to catch the boxing day 'Cemetery Circuit' motorbike race, even though we don't know when it starts. The whole town is closed to traffic and they race through the streets which surround the local cemetery. Sounds fun!

Helen & Iain

Saturday, 24 December 2005

An eventful trip

After lunch today we set off for a forty-minute 'pleasure drive' to the edge of Wanganui National Park. When we'd gone as far as we wanted to we had a bit of a leg stretch, took a few pictures, including the one above, and set off back home. A typical day out for a pair of 'old duffers' in training.

However, about ten minutes down the road, we came across this. A landslide, which must have happened some time in the previous twenty minutes, had made the road impassable.

We eventually got back home four and a half hours later! The diversion wasn't all bad, though. We got to see some beautiful countryside we'd never seen before, including this stunning view of Mount Ruapehu (in the foreground) and Mount Ngauruhoe (the conical mountain in the background). Yes, they are both volcanoes! Mount Ngauruhoe stood in for Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

We also discovered a great cafe called Angel Louise in Raetihi, about an hour and a quarter from Wanganui, where we had a very enjoyable evening meal. Iain plumped for the venison burger, while I had corn beef and kumara (sweet potato) cottage pie.

I started to worry about the kittens as we'd been away so long, but they were absolutely fine. Life's okay as long as you have a playmate, a litter tray and a bowl of food!

Friday, 23 December 2005

More moggie pics

It's only day two of cat cohabitation, but already their distinct personalities are becoming apparent.


Mo is very laid back and soon discovered the laundry basket, where she's been asleep for most of the day.


Pookie is very lively and inquisitive. If she's awake, she's moving. This is the only photo I got of her today that was in focus!

I'll try to find the time to put up a 'proper' (i.e. not totally cat-obsessed) post tomorrow.

Our new kittens

Pookie practises her pounce.

Mo's not that keen on being picked up.

Mo, aspiring Curtaineer

We visited the SPCA today and we couldn't believe our luck - they had exactly what we were looking for - a pair of 7 week old female kittens from the same litter!

We rushed out to buy catty supplies and then rushed back to collect them and take them home. We've named them Pookie and Mo.

The woman at the shelter said for the first few days they will need to be kept in an enclosed space, so we've put them in the sleepout, which is where we're storing all our cardboard boxes from the move. They've been in kitty heaven, chasing each other in, on, around and under the boxes.

We've had a go at taking some photos, but the kittens have been pretty tricky to keep up with!
Will post more tomorrow.
I probably shan't sleep very well tonight - I'm too excited!

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

Getting sorted

getting ready to unpack the van in Wanganui

I had planned to take a photo with both van doors open, but everything was balanced so precariously, Iain daren't open the second door without my assistance. I had to lean heavily against the bike to hold it in place while Iain extricated the stuff around it. To make things more interesting, it started to rain moments after this photo was taken.

We had to leave quite a lot of things behind in Auckland for Iain to bring in the car when he comes home on Wednesday because we just couldn't shoehorn anything else into the van. We began to wonder how we've acquired so much stuff, (especially since we arrived in New Zealand with just two rucksacks each!) but we haven't really got that much - it's just that when we've moved house before we've done at least two or three trips back and forth - this time, with an eight hour journey, that option just wasn't practical.

I've spent the last few days getting the house as sorted as possible, and I'm pleased to say I've felt really relaxed and at home here - even though I've been on my own, which I don't like much, and the place has been in a muddle. The only thing that I'm still adjusting to is the toilet being located in the lean-to next to the kitchen. I keep going into the bathroom when I need the loo - I'm sure I'll get used to it soon.

Because it's a single storey building, like most Kiwi houses, and I like to sleep with the window open, one of the first items on our list when Iain and I go to the DIY place on Thursday is window locks. In the meantime I'm taking my chances on getting burgled! Actually, this morning I was woken at 7 am by a banging sound coming from the bedroom window. I thought a burglar was trying to force his way in, so I took a big breath and opened the curtain, ready to confront some spotty yoof planning to make off with the non-existent telly, and came face to face with...the black kitten from across the road. What a great way to be woken up! We had a chat and a cuddle and she had a bit of a purr, and then I sent her on her way. We've met a couple of times before, but she's been too scared to say hello, so I'm glad we've made friends now. Hopefully we'll soon have a couple of cats of our own that she can make friends with.

Saturday, 17 December 2005

The end of a long day

This post is going to be short and probably not very coherent. It's ten past eleven at night and we've just done the move to Wanganui. We hired a van and were our own removal men, which was hard work, but with the help of a sack truck which we bought from the local DIY store, we managed to do it without hospitalising ourselves, which has got to be a bonus. The van was absolutely jam packed - I've taken a photo which I'll post up here tomorrow (or whenever I get a spare minute in the next couple of days).

It took us six hours to load the van up last night, and eight hours to drive down today. We got a bit of a fright about three quarters of the way here when the van started skidding - we would have gone off the road and careered through a barrier and down a hillside if Iain hadn't managed to get the vehicle back under control. We think it was a combination of the steep downward slope, the poor road surface, the wet weather and the heavily laden truck that caused the skid - we virtually crawled the rest of the way. It really put the wind up us.

Having taken six hours to load, it only took two and a half to unload the van, which was a relief. When Iain looked inside our letter box (an external one like they all are here) he found a lot of post (thanks to everyone who sent us a Christmas card by the way! ) and an ants' nest. Sorting that out is a job I'll have to tackle tomorrow. Iain's off first thing tomorrow morning to drive back to Auckland. He'll be camping out in the empty flat, which won't be much fun, but at least he'll have the telly and his computer. He's got three more days' teaching until the end of term, and then he'll be driving home on Wednesday evening.

I'll have to go now - the words are jumping around on the screen. I'm off to try to ease the knots from my aching muscles with some gentle yoga before collapsing into bed. Good night all.

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Pohutukawa Festival

This is a Pohutukawa tree. AKA the New Zealand Christmas tree. It blooms, rather spectacularly, around about mid December and in order to celebrate the fact, the good people (hippies) of Whitianga hold a festival.

Carin & Jim won a weekend away, complete with tickets to the Pohutukawa festival, and invited us along. Pretty cool eh? We stayed in a beachside bach just outside the village and had a jolly time at the event, which was a combined food & wine show and a folk concert with the kiwi band Goldenhorse headlining. It was boiling hot, suitable amounts of food and alcohol were consumed and a generally relaxing time was had by all. The Coromandel is a beautiful spot, lots of golden beaches and stunning bush covered hills as a backdrop.

Goldenhorse on stage

Back to work today however - 1 week to go and we've started the packing. We're hoping to move all our stuff to the new house at the weekend, then I'll head back to AKL on my own for the last 3 days of work.

Thursday, 8 December 2005

New concept in diet foods

I noticed these discarded items at the checkout of our local supermarket.
I've heard of portion control, but this is taking it a bit far...

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Morning surprise

We woke up this morning to discover a stick insect hanging off Iain's bedside table.

Our unusual overnight visitor reminded us that we're living in one of the few remaining areas of temperate rainforest in the world.