Monday, 24 August 2009

Suggestions, please

Like most writery-types (and pretty much everyone in my family too), I'm obsessed with names.

We've already got a name for the house when it's finished. Being typical newcomers to the country, we wanted to have something that shouted 'New Zealand'. We didn't want a Maori name, though. In New Zealand, having a Maori house name when you're not Maori is the equivalent of having a French house name in Britain (i.e. it's a bit pretentious). We've decided on 'Fantail Cottage' because the fantail is one the native birds that regularly comes to visit us on the building site.

So now all we need is a name for the yurt. If you've got any ideas, we'd love to hear them.

The fantail, a native New Zealand bird (Maori name: piwakawaka)

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Y-Day Minus 56

We've been and gone and done it now - we've ordered the yurt! Estimated delivery time: 8 weeks. It's taking such a long time because all Jaia's yurts are custom-made to order, by hand.

Living in a yurt is something we've both fantasised about for years, for some unfathomable reason. Neither of us have ever even seen a yurt 'in the canvas', let alone set foot in one, but we're attracted to them like bears to honey (or, more accurately, like hippies to alternative forms of accommodation).

On Friday afternoon we decided on the best position for the yurt, and used some electric fence 'pigtails' to mark out where it will go. In this short video Iain gives a guided tour - in mime. You may notice the picture shaking a bit; this is because I was laughing so much I couldn't hold the iPhone still.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Game... afoot!

Not much progress on the house build this weekend, but some interesting developments.

We spent Saturday on site as usual, but on Sunday it bucketed down with rain all day, so we ended up having an enforced day off. Having time on our hands, we got talking about the build, and we decided that we want to do something to speed things up.

So we've made a decision. Gulp. We're going to give up our rental in town and go and live on site. That way we'll be able to put in a lot more building hours per week, and as an added bonus, we'll be living in the place we really want to be.

Camping out for three (or more) months won't be easy, but at least it will be during the spring and summer, so we shouldn't get hypothermia. We've thought up solutions to every practical problem we can anticipate, such as what to do about cooking, having a shower, going to the toilet, doing the laundry, connecting to the internet (essential for my work) and storing our furniture, we've drawn up an action plan, and we've taken the first steps on it. Our aim is to be camping out in our paddock by the beginning of October.

We've not yet finalised exactly what we'll be camping in, but at the moment the front-runner is a 7-metre yurt, hand-built in New Zealand by the lovely hippies at Jaia. Take a look at some photos of their yurts here.

One of the first steps on our action plan was to buy a letter box, as we won't be able to have mail delivered without one.

Our letter box -- rural NZ utility style. I love our house number, and it's so easy to remember: 'Unlucky for some, the answer to the ultimate question'

Random silly photo -- Iain has been playing around with a program called iCover which lets you transform your snaps into magazine covers. This is his favourite result...

...and this is mine. The bundle of fluff is Pookie when she was an itteh bitteh kitteh -- aaah!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Where did you get that hat?

By now I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that 'Chez Whittaker' is getting further behind schedule with every week that passes. Fortunately, Iain and I laugh in the face of schedules, and like John Cleese's French k-nig-ht, we blow raspberries at them, too, (but only when we're sure they're not looking).

We had hoped to finish off the purlins last weekend, but we didn't go up to the site at all, because I was in bed with the 'flu, and I wouldn't let Iain go on his own, as I didn't think he would be safe, working three metres off the ground with no-one to look out for him apart from a few dozen bemused sheep.

Since the last time we were on site a fortnight ago, Iain has bought himself a new toy --an iPhone. He brought it along with him this weekend, partly in case the house got burgled while we were out, partly to find out what sort of 3G reception we're going to have (not very good!) and partly to test out the iPhone's camera. The camera's not bad. Here are some of the pictures it took:

Sartorial elegance, Whittaker style: if you look carefully you might be able to work out where Iain got this hat from.

My hat's from the same place (the local DIY store). It's not quite so in-your-face as Iain's, but I reckon you could have somebody's eye out with that brim.

View of the building site from the highest point on our land, which we refer to affectionately as 'the nob'. The building on the right is the neighbour's woolshed.

Me in action, attacking some wonky-looking batter boards with a sledgehammer, in preparation for marking out the veranda...

...and working on the eaves at the back of the house.

So, how far have we got now? Well, the purlins are finished at last, which leaves just two more jobs to do on the roof. The first task is to attach the hanging rafters, which hang out over either edge of the roof, resting on top of the end trusses. Once that's done we need to construct the eaves along the back of the house, and the roof will be complete. If we're lucky we might get this all done next weekend, but given our rate of progress so far, it's more likely to take us the next two weekends.