Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas catch up

Well Christmas is in full swing. We had a hindin family pre-Christmas with dad and pamela and Kate and Abs all of whom are heading north for the silly season. Kate and Abs made us a fabulous scarecrow called Big John. Big John is currently propped against the wall in our back yard but I'm hoping that Nick will find some space for him in the vege garden until we're ready to move. Our plans for Christmas are very quiet: the tradictional bagel lunch at our place with Lu & Milton and Suzie and a friend of hers and then Nick & I get to share a private Christmas dinner for the first time ever. He's going to try to get a crayfish but we'll see. He brought home some very large gifts the other day and I had to lift one yesterday - its heavy and metalish - but he says that they're not the real present. I am of course intrigued. We've started contacting neighbours for permission to go above 8m on our roof and are 3 for 3 so far so its looking good. We don't HAVE to have their permission but if we don't its costs us a bit more as the council has to notify the resource consent etc - it probably takes longer too. And we finally have a date for getting power: they're doing it the week of the 9th of January - the first week back to work for most of us. So that's great. Then we can run electric fences around and bring the boys (highland cattle - see posting below) home AND we can get irrigation put in and start planting. Boxing Day we're having a wee party at our place and I've been making lots of goodies for that. The wine and bubbly arrived yesterday and hopefully Nick will pick up the turkey today. He has a plan for BBQing it - sounds great. Anyway - to all our friends out there - Merry Christmas and keep safe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

All I want for Christmas...

New Additions (7th Dec)
  • Cake stand, pref with cover
  • Cake tin or plastic container large enough to take decent sized cake
  • Vanilla shimmer body lotion from Body Shop (yummy)
  • The Royal Book of Horsemanship, Jousting & Knightly Combat: A Translation into English of King Dom Duarte's 1438 Treatise available from
Previous Vouchers are always good, especially at places like Placemakers, Bunnings, Freedom, garden places and of course music/books/DVDs - earrings (I'm continually losing one of pairs so my selection needs re-stocking) - massage session: preferably at Total Body Concept, 188 Salisbury St - Books: any Asterix books especially the new one; see Amazon wishlist; CDs: Kind of interested in some older stuff right now
  • Live, best of, Throwing Copper;
  • Paul Simon, Graceland,
  • Dire Straits, Love Over Gold or Brothers in Arms;
  • Gorillaz, any;
DVDs - Grosse Pointe Blanke (movie) - Elizabeth R (series) - Elizabeth (movie) - Band of brothers (series) - 12th Night (movie) - the one with Helena Bonham Carter - any Harry Potter movies

Monday, November 28, 2005

Not a bum steer

Sorry about the punny titles - they seem to be all that I can think of. WOW - we had a full-on weekend. It started off pretty normal. I went off riding at 11.00 which was super-cool because Tess was there and while we were riding her brand new horse arrived (which was lucky because they hadn't warned her to expect it). Anyway she (the new horse Kara) seems nice and Tess said that I could ride her for my lesson next week. Then I got home and had lunch and Nick mentioned that maybe we could go down to Harvey Normans and look at an outdoors table set for our self-Christmas present. About half way down he said maybe we should stop on the way and look at a few 4 wheel drive cars because we're going to need to upgarde the ford to one fairly soon. Of course we ended up taking a few for a drive and have found one that we really like - so no outdoors table set. The sales guys were pretty good and because we were going out to Oxford on Sunday to look at some cattle they said that we could keep it for the rest of the weekend to give it a real test drive. Currently its at our mechanics having a check. Its a wine red coloured Toyota Surf - 3L diesel and its really got a lot of go. Handles mostly like a car, although you can tell its a big thing going around the corners, AND its got a 5 CD changer. Sunday morning we went to fighter's practice and I fought too for the first time since I had that awful flu a few months ago. That was fun. And then we went out to Abberley Lodge to have a look at some cattle. Upon discussion we decided that we were probably better to get a few steers now of varying ages rather than spending all the money on heifers when we're not even going to be there. We'll buy some heifers and start breeding next year, closer to when we're actually going to be living there. Anyway - Meet the Meat: We bought four - one of each colour, and only the wee one has a name yet. He's a dun and his name is Riley: Riley The next biggest is this cute black one Then we have the red with the big straight horns And finally the Brindle (his head is a bit obscured - I think that he's camera shy) who doesn't have horns. This one might get named housewarming party. I thought that we might name them after some of our favourite whiskeys but Nick doesn't seem keen on that idea. They're still at their original fold - we won't bring them to our place until we have the power on as apparently they're a bit naughty about fences that aren't hot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


OK - another long break with not much to report. In fact we've been a bit busy socially. We went up to Furneaux Lodge in Queen Charlotte Sounds a couple of weekends ago for Matt Isaac and Michelle's wedding and it was really lovely. Don't want to post too many photos here but here's a handfull: Michelle and her Dad The Vows Chris and Rachael Nick watching the photos being taken Isaac Family Wedding Photo Furneaux is a gorgeous place. It was quite overcast when we arrive but just minutes before the wedding it came out beautifully sunny - it was quite magical. Nick and I had gone for a wee walk in the bush behind the lodge to the waterfall and the native bush was amazing. Can't wait to start planting our own patch of forest.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Coming together

Well its all beginning to come together for us - still slowly but I'm definitely getting the feeling that we're getting there. Nick has found a really good flooring option which is also one of the cheapest available and it will allow us to give the impression of a timbered ceiling. We've moved the garage from being at the East end of the house to being attached to the north end of the workshop and we're going to continue the arcade/cloister right around to the end of the garage so that we can walk around a covered area. This will be able to be walked on so the primary guest bedroom will have a door and will be able to walk right around the top to the garage roof. The garage roof will also be able to be walked out onto and the 1st floor of the workshop will have a door out onto it: this means that we can also easily walk from the 1st floor bedroom around to the 1st floor of the workshop without going downstairs. And the garage roof will be an ideal place for a small ballista or some-such. On my current to-do list is contacting Selwyn Council and finding out what is required for neighbour's consent to go above the 8m roof limit. Oh yeah, and the well now has pumps and pipes - next step: power. In other news: had a fabulous Saturday evening to celebrate Kate and Ab's commitment to ecah other. It had been a very hot day so the evening was lovely. And this weekend Nick and I are up to Furneaux Lodge for Matt and Michelle's wedding. Still no progress on our celebratory party - it may have to be a 1st anniversary party at this rate. Sorry we're so slack but we just seem to be busy all of the time. Horse riding is going well. I'm taking Wednesday off work so that I can go with Becky and co to the zoo in the morning and I have arranged to go horse riding in the afternoon. On Saturday its always a lesson, which is fun but I've never had a chance just to go for a ride so Tess is going to show Jo (one of the people who ride with me) and me the way through Burwood Forest.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Glassy eyed

I've been thinking about glass a bit lately - mostly stained glass. It would be really neat to have some, maybe in the entrance area. I was thinking maybe either side of the entrance door, a quatrefoil window of stained glass with our SCA armoury in it maybe. Anyway with the help of localeye I have found the following local(ish) places: Also Nick found an outfit, Future Connect, that does internal comms wiring setups so that we can get music/ access the computers etc right through the house. Finally, we spent labour Weekend in Auckland with my sister Becky and her husband Philip and lovely daughters Vita and Isla. It was gorgeous watching Nick be all uncle-y and here is a piccy of him feeding Isla after we'd all been to the Zoo. And here's one of Vita at the Zoo - she's learning her letters and the sign on the wall was irresistable.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A bit of skirt

Well, what an eventful weekend (and a bit). Where to start: OK - Nick wouldn't let me buy the black christmas tree. Poohie! But I popped in to a clothes shop at the mall when I was there to buy groceries and tried on a couple of skirts. With two weddings coming up in the next month, and hopefully a Christmas party or so, I thought that a nice skirt / top combination might be more flexible than buying another dress. So anyway the skirt is gorgeous and we're not discussing the price. Now if only the weather would warm up a bit. Also in family news we finally closed off the estate account etc with Mum's lawyer. Pretty much anyone who has been involved knows how frustrating it has been working with this lawyer's office and I am enormously relieved to finally be clear of her. Our accountant has advised me to hang onto a little of the cash but we'll all be getting a significant payout in the next week, just in time for Christmas present shopping. There are still a couple of minor things to tidy up but the accountant is delaing with the tax bit and then we should be done. Finally we've made a couple of bits of progress on the house. Nick went and talked to his timber mill friends and having macrocarpa floors will cost less than putting down terracotta tiles so we've going to go wood throughout which will be fabulous because its never as cold as tiles. Then on Sunday we went to the home show and made two important discoveries. First of all we've found the perfect trusses - they're just beautiful - check out their web site. Secondly we had a long talk with Nick's cousin's workmate JT about solar water heating and heating throughout the house and he recommended ditching underfloor and going for radiators which seems very sensible. We're going to try for a jetmaster open fire. We're in a position where we can have one - if they will give us a resource consent. Only it costs $1000 to apply. But we think that its worth it. Oh, and we're going to do the garage - only on the end of the workshop so that it blocks the westerly a bit - turning the building into a reverse L shape rather than an I. We've decided to look at other block options because the Hebel is so expensive. Nick reckons we could save as much as $100,000 using a combination of concrete and hot-blocks (which are bascially insulated concrete blocks).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Paint it Black

Just popped into Farmers as one does on one's lunch hour and they have 2, yes only TWO BLACK Christmas trees - how cool is that? Now of course they're $160 - but what is that when compared to making me happy I ask you? Hopefully Nick agrees. Apparently they're left over from last year and both are on display but I figure its the quick and the green around here. Oh, they also have all white ones which are nice, I guess, if you're into white puffy clouds and angels etc. To be honest I've never really been into fake Christmas trees. I've always thought that the smell was the most important part of the whole thing. But I'm willing to overcome that for a very styly tree. And next year we can buy a super-tall tree for in the hall and have the styley one in the kitchen area or entrance way. Hey, and Halloween's in a couple of weeks - a black tree would be cool for that too. Although we usually hide over Halloween. hmmm

Monday, October 10, 2005

Heritage Week Muster

We actually had a real SCA event last weekend. It was supposed to be on Saturday which would have been a major pain because Bob and Rachael and Lachie stayed over on Friday night and then of course I normally ride at 11.00 and the tourney was supposed to start (well site open) at 11.00 so it was all going to be very tight. Except that it bucketed down so we had a leisurely Nick-made breakfast of pancakes, bananas, bacon and maple syrup instead - much more civilised. Then once Bob and Rachael went I popped out and bought paint with which to finish the laundry, a matching lamp for the kitchen and used up a voucher at Spotlight. Even got the laundry door painted. So it was a very productive day. Sunday was lovely and sunny and the tourney was very enjoyable although I didn't do much more than sit around in the sun sewing a new water-proof hood and chatting to the odd person who came by. I had some Elderflower cordial that my sister Lu had given me and it was delicious. Must ask for more for Christmas. Anyway here are two more pictures - one of Sigurd (Nick) at the tourney and one of myself at home but in my Viking outfit with fluffy hat.

Bunny hole & Pump shed

Today I have a few pictures for you. We went out to West Melton AKA the farm AKA the block on Sunday... we really need to get a name for it. But it will come. Anyway the tank and pumpshed have been put in now (we will need to get power on before we have water though) so I took a picture of those for you. Also we actually saw the bunnies this time and I took a picture of their main hole. The grass all around it for about a 3m diameter was really eaten down. They are going to have to die eventually but right now we're not worried. We were out there to measure up and sort out where we're going to put the house and we have made a definite decision about that which is really great because it means that we can start to plan the rest of the property and where appropriate put in fences and do any planting that won't interfere with the building.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Well well well

We have a well - YAY - well at least the hole is there, all 66m of it, and Nick's been running around getting the pump and pipes at good rates (he's so clever). Anyway, its a small but essential step forwards. On other fronts my oldest mate Matthew is finally getting married which completes the trio as Chris (Matt's brother) married Ra earlier this year and of course Nick and I did before we went overseas. So that's in November. I've been down with a flu for ages and ages - seriously its been about 8 weeks or more and am only just beginning to get back into the gym and things. Went last night for BodyCombat but felt pretty shakey afterwards even though I took it very slowly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Doggone it!

Check out this movie that shows what kind of dog I would be. Its part of a promo for a new movie called "". Unfortunately its not working - I'll see if I can get it going. In the meantime check out the site and find out what kind of dog YOU are.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Snowy days

Well, as we kept telling people in Europe when we were there, it usually snows at least once in Christchurch before summer kicks in, but usually in Spring - and today's the day - and what a day it is. Normally it snows a little - a wee dusting to remind us that winter's still about - but this one is thumping down and piling in drifts, falling off buildings and cars. Could be one to rival '92 maybe. Here at the library the managers are running around trying to sort out what's open, what's closed. News just came through - all libraries are closing from 11. The photo here is from about an hour ago. Now I just have to work out how to get home.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Quotes coming in

Well the quotes are coming in slowly - glacially in some cases. We've found a blocky who reckons that he'd charge us $2.50 per block to build the house but if we also contracted him to do the plastering he'd do us a special deal. Pretty good considering that some people reckoned it'd be twice that. And he came by personal recommendation - he's just replastered Nathan's house and Nathan says that he's excellent. And we finally (Nick rang while I was writing this) have the quote for the blocks themselves - its quite steep but we will investigate options like using narrower ones for internal walls and maybe doing the workshop block in normal concrete block and using the render to disguise that. One of the primary reasons that we're using the Hebel is that it has excellent insulating properties - not so important in the workshop. We had a great chat with Mike our builder who is going to oversee operations for us and it all sounds good. Windows and doors are expensive but there are always options. We're determind to use double-glazing though - although now that I think on it we can leave that out of the workshop too. We are also now investigating getting clean air credits for planting forests under the Kyoto protocols. There's not a whole lot of information out there yet as its just beginning to be an option. I suspect that you probably have to plant a lot of forest to make it work. Other people are castle building too These keen souls are building the real thing, in completely period way (including doing it all in costume) in France - Guedelon. I wonder what it is that makes us all so keen to abandon our modern lives - maybe they're not all they're cracked up to be?

Friday, August 26, 2005


Time for a progress report. Right now the big thing is putting the fences around the edges where we're planting the shelter trees so that the animals don't chew on them. Nick and Nathan spent most of last weekend ripping the boundaries (this breaks up the soil deep down for when we plant trees) and then putting in the fence posts. So this weekend (hopefully) they'll get the wire up. Also we have applied for the well consent - they sent us a nice letter to tell us that they'd received it (Nick took it in in person) and that we are in the queue. Finally, on the house front we're still getting quotes for all the bits. We also have to apply to all our neighbours for permission to have our roof a bit above the maximum height. As Nick has pointed out the height difference of the land is bigger than the extra height on the house so it will actually make a bigger difference where we put the house, so hopefully they'll all be cool with that.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

So show us a picture already!

Oh yeah, sorry. Well the architect only gave us big A2 drawings and nothing electronic so I have had to scan, rotate and generally play with them (at work a bit) which is why its taken a while. Anyway - here is a picture of the north and south elevations. Floor plans will have to wait. Please note that the small building is the garage and we're probably going to have to leave that for a while because of costs. Also the tower without the roof is all workshop - two levels which will give us a home gym / pavillion drying / painting / work and storage space. Our future house? So whaddya think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Plantings for West Melton

One of the guys at my work knows a guy who's very knowledgeable about native plants in Canterbury and he's kindly made me a list of appropriate plants for re-treeing our place in West Melton.
  • Olearia odorata
  • Olearia paniculata
  • Olearia odenacarpa
  • Olearia bullata
  • Kowhai - sophora microphylla
  • Kowhai - sophora prostrata
  • Toetoe cortaderna richardii - not in a dry place
  • Matagouri - discaria toumatou
  • Hebe salicifolia - likes it a bit damp
  • Native broom - carmichaelia australis
  • Harakeke (NZ flax) - phormium tenax
  • Spaniards - Aciphylla subfabellata
  • Kanuka - Kunzea ericoides
  • Manuka - Leptopermum scoparium
  • Totara - lowland totara
  • Coprosma - propinqua
  • Coprosma - rubra (not too dry)
  • Coprosma - crassifolia
  • Corokia cotoneaster
  • Helichrysum - lancolatum
  • Cabbage tree - coryline australis (sorry but I hate cabbage trees - ok so maybe so long as I don't have to mow around it)
  • Raoulia australis
  • Raoulia subserica
  • Festuca novae-zealandie (hard tussock) - for dry places
  • Poa laevis (silver tussock)
Isn't that COOL. We've already got some of these in seed trays and more on order but this will definitely help us form the basis of our forest.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Aaarrrr!! @##

Well if the title didn't already clue you in I'm already anticipating the annual international Talk like a pirate day coming on September 19 (see web site). I've taken the personality test and it says: Click here to view larger imageYou are The Cabin Boy/Galley Wench You, me lad, are an activist! You will not only change the world, you will make a dyed-in-the-wool Pirate dream of you in a sheep costume. You are the embodiment of the love that dare not hoist its sail! Ahoy thar! You could make a two-patch Pirate turn his head - but then he would lose sleep over it and what good would that do anyone? An innovator, you are WAY ahead of your time - and everyone else's. You are sensitive and artsy-fartsy. You say things like, "artsy-fartsy" but there is always a slight giggle in your voice when you say it - like Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares delivering a staggering punch line. Speaking of "punching" the only "punching" you would do is punching up that outfit with some accessories - say, a little bandana and some glass beads. You're not the Pirate we want in a fight, but we want you there for the crying game that follows! You go, girl.

and I'm working on getting people here at work organised to celebrate properly. Hard to know - some people happily engage in sillyness... Anyway I heartily recommend checking out the site and working on an outfit and accent now. There's heaps of help on the web site.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Kung Fu and Ballet

Well, the international film festival started last week in Christchurch and my colleague Paul had a couple of free tickets to the opening which he couldn't use so Nick and I went along. The movie was Kung Fu Hustle and we really enjoyed it. For a start its hysterically funny at times and combines a weird array of film styles. It opens a bit like a cross between Bugsy Malone and the 90s film version of Romeo and Juliet - loads of black suited mobsters dancing with axes - I was a bit worried that they were going to start singing but thankfully they didn't. Then later there are scenes like something out of a cartoon - Rodger Rabbit or even Wily Coyote and Roadrunner. Then later it gets down to being a real Kung Fu movie with big action scenes like in Hero or Crouching Tiger. Anyway, if you enjoy martial arts movies at all I think that you'll enjoy it. And then on Friday night we went to the New Zealand Ballet's performance of Dracula. I had seen this before when they first did it and thought that it was amazing. Seeing it a second time didn't disappoint. What I love about their performances is that there's always stuff going on in the background - the rest of the dancers don't just stop and wait for the front action to finsh so that they can do their bit. And the spectacle element is always amazing. I do think that it helps to know the story a bit first though. After, we went to Strawberry faire for dessert and I had a super-rich cherry chocolate terrine type thing. Probably why I felt a bit crap the next morning.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Wow - what a weekend. It actually got hot, and its not spring for another month and a half at least. I got heaps of gardening done at home - there's lots of bulbs popping up and its quite a good time to go around and ID a few things that we might like to take with us. When the kowhai starts popping up seedlings as it does every year we'll pot some up to relocate. Nick went out on Saturday to the new place and met Nathan and Haley (very old friends of his) - Nathan is a fencer (not the swishy-pokey type) and is going to help us out with doing the fencing which is fantastic. I think that the plan is that he will come out on a weekend and he and Nick will do it. I offered to help but Nick reckons that there's not much that I could help with. I'm to sort out what tree we need. Once those fences are in we can look at planting trees on the boundaries. He also met the well guy there and they've agreed a good spot to put the well and power etc so that will happen one of these weeks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


We've started planning the plantings - the shelter belts around the property. We're starting with the North boundary which will help block the north-easterly wind in summer. We've ordered green and purple ake ake, totara, manuka and kanuka and we're also thinking about the other plants that we will want like the herbs for the garden etc. We're just doing one boundary to start with because of the cost. Leaving 1 3/4 to do. Each boundary is 200m. On the whole we are going for native trees but around the house we're going to want a broader range including herbs, fruit and nut trees, vegetables and dye-plants. I've got a couple of books about medieval plants and gardens to help with that.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Land of winter

Well we're back in the land of winter. Yes that was a bit of a shock after the lovely warm summer of Europe - even though it rarely got stinking hot where we were as we kind of headed north gradually. However our tans are rapidly receding in the Canterbury winter. Four days after we got back we settled on our new 10 acre (4 hectare) property just past West Melton. Its on Sandy Knolls Rd - the second section on the left after Finlays Rd as you head down from the West Coast Rd. At right is the GIS aerial photograph of the site - you can't see much but there is a bit of a rise near the centre which is where we plan to build. The GIS mapAnyway - yesterday we went and saw the architect with our castle books and Nick's rough sketch and room size estimates and planning is all underway. He reckons that it normally takes about a year to go through the whole process - just getting the building consent takes 3 months and we can't start any construction until then. So we're probably looking at moving in next winter or even Spring 2006 if there are delays. There are plenty of things that we can do before then. We have a rough idea where the house will be located on the site so we can begin to plan the general property a bit. First up is getting the power and well in and then we want to double fence the boundaries and plant a border / wind break so there is plenty to do. I have lots of books out on medieval gardens and our new neighbour has already researched medieval rose for me - she's very much into roses and has a fabulous garden just over the fence from us.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sailing (rowing) away

Thought that I'd better get on with this before it all faded into distant memory: I'm back now - lack of easy access to internet hampered my attempts to keep the blog up to date but now I know for next time (if there is a next time). Anyway - the sailing course at the Viking Ship Museum was FANTASTIC. Every day we had some classroom stuff - where we found out about the Viking ships, conservation process and reconstruction, and then we had a sailing session. On Monday we started out in the Faroese boats which are made in pretty much the same way as the Viking boats with the same kind of square sail. First we practiced rowing together and learned some important lessons about how to get the oars in and out without bashing each other too badly, and rowing together (everyone follows the guy in the front left seat) - no whips and drums here thank you very much. Went and bought gloves to help keep the blisters away. Tuesday we got to do some proper sailing and it was a very gentle wind which made it easier to learn about tacking - a normal turn (get that damned sail over here) and wearing - a three-point turn against the wind (get that damned sail outta my face). We were taking turns at the various jobs on board so that by the end of the week we'd all done everything. Wednesday the wind was gusty and the waves were lusty and we rowed bloody hard to even get out of the harbour but once the sail was up we were off. I got to sit in the prow and set the tack which meant that I got very wet but it was soo much fun. Thursday and Friday we were all set for the overnight trip on the actual reproduction boats. We went on Kraka Fyr - a smallish fishing / cargo boat. Gentle winds blew us out of the Roskilde harbour but all but disappeared as we got further out. Our comrades on the Roar Ege (a bigger cargo boat so they had all our luggage and weighed a bit more) slowly caught up with us as their taller mast caught more wind. Eventually it was back to the oars and we rowed around the fiord to the pub (as you do) where we pillaged some beer before making the short trip to the campsite. Roar Ege caught up with us about an hour later with our camping equipment and food. Friday morning - disaster. No wind whatsoever. We TOWED Roar Ege for an hour (gratefully it was my turn on the tiller so I didn't have to row) and then they sent out a power boat to tow the two of us back. A little embarassing but it wasn't our fault that there was no wind and the alternative was to row for 4 - 5 hours (which would have been real rowing as apparently rowing for less than an hour is only manoeuvring). So a wonderful week surrounded by Viking enthusiasts and others - lots of fun, and sun: I had sun tan stripes on my feet and mosquito bites everywhere (and I do mean everywhere). Bought "a few" books.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Roskilde arrival

We arrived in Roskilde about an hour late because of a wee train mix up and got checked into our youth hostel room which was way nicer than many of the hotel rooms that we'd had along the way - bigger than the Ibis rooms and with its own bathroom and toilet. The only drawback is that its two single beds and no way to join them. Actually many of the hotel doubles are actually two singles placed side by side which is a bit annoying when one wants to snuggle, but never mind. And we had the room to ourselves which was great. First thing we thought we'd have a walk around and we came to the area at the museum where they have bays for hands-on stuff and there we found the Scandanavian Knife Makers Association having their winding down of their annual conference which they'd been having for the past three days at the museum. As you can imagine we were kicking ourselves - it would have been so much better and cheaper to have gone direct from Amsterdam to Roskilde and Nick could have hung out with knife makers for three days. Never mind. Roskilde is in a lovely bay of the fjord. The Museum complex has the actual museum where the ships are housed, an open air area with shelters where you can see people making things and make things yourselves - they have a smith there and you can paint your own viking shield or make strings of beads (I bought a very cool wolf-fur trimmed hand-made felt hat). Then there is the museum harbour where their reproduiction Viking ships and other replicas and early ships are, and the yard where they build the ships. Finally there is the workshop where they do the conservation of the ships and an education building. Pretty much all of it was open to museum visitors and of course as we were doing the course we had free access to everything.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bye bye to Germany

Well we spent three days poodling around Germany before going to Denmark because we knew that Denmark would be expensive. We checked out one of the castles near Munster- it was OK - quite neat on the outside but very museumy on the inside. We had picked up a Europcar in Munster and they told us that the best place to drop it back near Denmark - there are huge costs to taking a car between couontries - would be Kiel. So we went to Lubeck for a night because someone had told Nick that it was really nice, and then off to Kiel. Only problem was that we didn't have a booking in Kiel and it was the first night of the week long Kiel festival. So we ended up at a very expensive hotel. And then we found out that to get to Denmark by train we had to go back to Lubeck!! But the festival opening was fun - lots of food and beer tents all around the harbour and rides etc - a real festival atmoosphere with loads of drunk teens... Then back on the train and back through Lubeck, on the ferry and up to Roskilde where the Viking ship museum is.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Well we have just left Amsterdam and are floating around Munster where we're going to check out another german castle tomorrow and then head northwards. I apologise for not writing while in Amsterdam but we got pretty busy. Amsterdam was great. OK the weather was very changeable - we got out of the Reichsmuseum on Sunday to find it pouring of rain and had to take shelter in a pub which served good bier and pancakes - life is tough. Then we got a bit lost in the downpour and eventually flagged down a cycle-taxi which I think was peddled by and extra from and Indiana Jones movie. The museum was OK - great if you're into 17th C masters and all that but very very expensive if you're not. We found the Amsterdam Historical museum much better value as it covers all of Amsterdam's history. Of course only about 10% of the Reichsmuseum is available at the moment. On Tuesday we went to a castle just outside of Amsterdam - Muiderslot. Another enforced guided tour and we only saw perhaps a third of the castle interior but a pretty nice castle anyway. Dutch castles are all brick, unlike the german Rhineland castles which are now stone but used to be plastered to stop ice from forming in the stone and splitting it. I wonder what tomorrow's will be like? We have written our second CD of 700+ photos. It was great re-meeting the family in Amsterdam. We had a lovely family dinner on Wednesday evening with Uncle Pieter's family - my cousins and their kids. Pieter's partner Josie, who I hadn't met before, and Pieter were very generous and took us to the castle on Tuesday and really looked after us which was great. My cousin Marieka showed us where my father was born and Pieter had his old passport and lots of photos for me to take with me which is great. Oh and the de Maar family coat of arms! Apparently an ancestor was mayor of Groeningen at some point.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

German loos

I can´t leave without a a quick word about the loos. I have used a loo that completely washes itself on the inside after you use it and has automatic hand-washers - in Stuttgart, toilets with ashtrays (everyone smokes here - all the time), and a truly extraordainary loo at castle Reinfels which had a handpump for the basin water and a dial that you turned to get the hand dryer air to start. Mostly very clean with some notable exceptions.

Whistle-stop castle tour

Hi everyone, well we´re in Aarchen now so I can report on the Rhine Castle situation. In a word its a bit dodgy. Our first castle, on Wednesdaz, was Marksburg. Marksburg is the big tourist castle. It was never taken and is the only castle on the Rhine complete from the middle ages. Its probablz better than Meersburg... except that you can onlz see it with a guide... who goes a mile a minute and only in German. (bze the waz if there are zs and ys mixed up that´s because this keyboard looks normal but is actually German layout so I have to guess at the keys a bit) Anyway we were very lucky to get to Marksburg before it opened at 10 because when we├Ąd finished out tour with two other couples there were about 50 kids ready to go for the next one - not ideal. One of the problems with these castles is that most were razed either by Napoleon or during WW2 (or both) and also looted bz the Americans so there is not a lot left. Most are either Victorian neo-gothic restorations on old foundations OR still in ruins. Also many have been converted to hotels or still in private ownership - so not available to view inside - which would be OK if anz of the guides actually told zou that. As it is its a verz pot-luck game. The other highlight on the Rhine is Reinfels - a ruin but one that still has enormous power as a building. It is huge and because it hasn´t been reconstructed zou can realz see the huge size that it must have been. Apart from those we have seen about 8 castles in varying states - had a couple of disappointing experiences but mostly good. Its not as geared up for tourists as I had expected. Ooh I nearly forgot Pzalsgrafinstein (don´t asked me to say that). Thats the toll tower standing in the middle of the river. Its under extensive renovation at the moment and was never a residential castle but was very cool. Its in the Eyewitness Castles book if you´re interested.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Germany - first days

Nick met me at the airport and after the normal pleasantries we attempted to get back to the hotel by train. This should have been straight forward, and we were very nearly there when the driver made an announcement and everyone got off - only we didn't notice because we were catching up. Then we ended up somewhere we weren't supposed to be... twice. But we got there eventually and then Nick introduced me to the local pub where he and the others had already become `regulars´. I met all the other regulars and had a wonderful greek salad as this was a Greek-German pub - ouzo came after dinner but I had vodka instead. There was a big greek wedding dinner in the main room and we spent the evening chatting to an english speaking german about various things, plus a beer or two of course. The next morning we picked up a car. A few things had changed since Nick had arranged for the car the previous day. It had turned from a Polo into a A150 A series mercedes, which we thought would be good but which Nick constantly complains about... AND it had gone from being free to drop off anywhere in Europe to costing an extra 400´euro. Anyway it has gotten us around - first we went to Ulm where we climbed the Dom - over 700 steps and the highest steeple anywhere. We stayed in Ulm with a friend Chris who then took us to a great beer garden where we had wonderful pork with little noodles and more beer. On Sunday we went to the Lake of Constance and our first German castle (and the best) - Meersburg (?). Lots and lots of photos of that one. Its in a gorgeous little town on the lake and we took bread, cheese and meats and had a wee picnic which is becoming our standard way of doing lunch.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Germany in 10 minutes

Well here I am - in Koblenz. Germany is rather different than I expected. No one takes credit cards, things DON´T run on time (the train that Nick picked me up on changed designation and route midway to our hotel - twice!!) and internet is as rare as hens teeth. Having said that we´ve seen some magnificent castles and the country is very beautiful and I´ve taken many photos. My feet still hurt... We have one more full day here and then we have to drop the rental car in Aachen early Saturday morning before getting the train to Amsterdam so we have only one full day - and maybe a bit to see both Cologne and Aachen. But we´ll manage.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

No photos

In case you were wondering, I haven't been able to post any photos because these internet terminals don't allow access to the usb drives so I can't get them off the cards.

Galleries and sore feet

Crap - I had this post almost done and the terminal timed-out and reset - but didn't as I still have 14 minutes - weird. Anyway - again... Yesterday I went to the British Museum, Portrait Gallery and National Gallery and my feet are aching. But on the up side I didn't get rained on - much. I have finally worked out the tube system and now have a 3 day pass so I don't have to worry about working out how much to pay each time. I've decided just to go to the bits of things that interest me. So at the BM I went through all the post-Roman to 1600 stuff and skipped all of the prehistoric, Egyptian etc. Which was good. I took heaps of photos there - unfortunately you're not allowed to take any at the art galleries but I've also been taking notes about things. One thing that I noticed is that lots of things are bigger, or smaller than I had expected. Crowds haven't been too bad - the only time that I have had to wait was in front of the Arnolfini wedding portrait where some tour guide was going on - and I couldn't even listen in as he was speaking in Dutch (I think?). Anyway - my time is ticking on and the noise in here is getting extreme TV plus people trying to talk over it... the only working interenet terminals are in the smoking lounge which also has the TV - so I haven't been watching TV apart from the first night.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Sorry my last post was so short - this one will be a bit better. So yesterday (Monday) was spent mostly at the V&A museum. I got there in time for opening despite getting on a train going in the wrong direction and stayed until about 4.30. Like every other museum in Europe, apparently, its under a bit of work at the moment so there were sme things missing but still plenty to enjoy. Lots of stuff that I'd seen pictures of but just so much more. Just about when I was wanting lunch I found the textile archive room... so that took me about an hour and half. So much stuff - all behind glass in heavy frames - but you can pull them out and you're allowed to photograph anything you like. Aside re: batteries. The fast charge batteries that Nick got are magnificant - Its the end of Tuesday and I'm still on the first pair so I don't expect that I'll ahve to recharge any of them. I got back to the hostel kind of hungry... food is SO expensive here. At the V&A I paid £1.50 for a bottle of coke that in NZ would be $1.95. I've found a great little coffee shop for breakfasts though - they do great espresso and this morning (Tuesday) I had breakfast there too: greek yougurt with runny honey and museli on the top. The combination of the tart yogurt and the sweet honey is amazing. Tuesday - went this morning to the Tower. That was cool - probably even cooler if you know nothing... the gloss has kind of gone off trying on maille and armour. But the buildings themsleves are amazing. Heaps of people of course - actually London seems to be mostly full of Americans. I didn't bother with the jewels - the line was too long and they're not a big deal for me. Then I wandered around for a bit - over the bridge - and discovered a Fashion and Textile museum which had a fabulous exhibition. Finally I got another train to Piccadily and mistakenly went to a movie. Don't ever do this... movie tickets here are $11.50 - thats around $40 - for a movie. It was good tho' - Kingdom of Heaven. Anyway I'm back at the hostel now - paying through the nose for internet access. Buting I'm getting used to the idea of paying heaps for everything. I love walking up to the hostel - the laundry window is right on the street and so it smells of drying towels - you know that warm scent - yummy. anyway - Min over and out for today.

Monday, May 30, 2005

I'm here

Well here I am in London - arrived safe and sound and very very tired. Its Monday morning and I'm trying to sort myself out for a trip to the V&A and Science museum. The YH is OK - at least the beds are not uncomfortable, but I think that I'll be using ear plugs tonight. Had some great pasta and a fantastic tiramisu at a place called Strada around the corner and there are lots of places to eat nearby. And Subway - so my lunches are safe.

kate and abs London advice

Hey dude, Welcome to London! Yay! I hope you're not feeling to out-of-it and Earls Court is treating you well! We've have a brainstorm about fun activities worth checking out in London... Markets: - Camden (Camden High Street, Camden tube, Northern line) - more alternative, punky, clothes, food, odd bits n pieces, furniture etc - definitely check out "Cyber Dog" while you're there, it's an experience. - Portobello (Ladbroke Grove tube, Hammersmith and City lines )- more antique themed but some interesting bits and bobs, clothes, retro junk etc - Spitalfieds (Aldgate East tube, Hammersmith and District lines ) - combo of the above two, but much smaller Clothes: - H&M - these are all over, but the main one is in Oxford Circus (the corner of Oxford and Regent Streets). (Oxford Circus tube, Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines) - Urban Outfitters (Kensington High Street, Circle/District lines) - Kensington High Street is generally pretty cool for clothes, but Urban Outfitters is a funky clothes and misc shop. There's also an H&M in KHS so check em out together - Top Shop (Oxford Street, Oxford Circus Tube) - Massive clothes shop with heaps of bits n bobs and reasonable prices (for London) Shoes: Neal Street (Covent Garden tube, Piccadilly line) - Lots of shoe shops and some other funky clothes ones Food: Pizza Express - you'll see these all over London. I totally recommend the Soho pizza. Musuems/Galleries: Science Museum Madam Tussards Wax Museum (Baker Street tube, Bakerloo line) - never went but think it would be a bit of fun V&A Tate (I liked this one better than the Tate) Tate Modern Misc: - Paper Chase (Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street Tube, Northern line) - beautiful papers and stationary - Selfridges (Oxford Street, Bond Street tube, Jubilee and Central lines) - Massive amazing department store with stunning window displays, food department is wow! - Piccadilly Circus is big and has lots of lights. You can walk from Oxford Circus, up Regent Street (which is very British and interesting) to Piccadilly Circus. If you carry on walking up you get to the area where all the theatres and stuff are though my memory of this is sketchy so have your A-Z handy (map of London). - IKEA - I can't praise it enough. A mission to get there, but great cheap stuff! (Neasden tube, Jubilee line) Attractions: - The London Eye (big ferris wheel thing) - this was actually pretty impressive and great to get an idea of how big London is and see the amazing 360 degree view - Hyde Park (Marble Arch tube, Central line) - worth taking a stroll through...a nice walk would be through Hyde Park, into Green Park and up to Buckingham Palace...20-30 mins - Hampstead Heath is a lovely big 'heath' with views over London. Easy to get lost in but lovely. Best idea: Take a day trip on the bus to Stonehenge and Bath. My friend Carol did it and said it was lovely! Check out for details. Other nice nearby places are Brighton and Stratford. Then of course there's the "Jack the Ripper" tour and things like that in London.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Well - just one sleep to go and my head feels like its caving in. never mind... for all those enquiring minds here is a rough itinerary: Saturday 28 May - leave NZ on a flight going through Singapore and Copenhagen at which point Nick and I split up and he goes to Stuttgart and I go to London Sunday 29th May - after about 36 hours of travel time we arrive in our respective ports of destination - probably knackered Min in London sightseeing and staying at the Youth Hostel - an adventure in itself. I'm hoping to get to the V & A, Museum of London (even though the bits that I'm most interested in are closed), and possibly if I'm feeling adventurous a day trip out to Kenilworth castle in Warwick. until Friday 3rd June am - I meet Nick in Stuttgart Saturday 4th - get a rental car and tootle south to Ulm where we'll stay with Chris. Chris was an engineering student when he came to NZ and worked with Nick for work experience/OE Monday - take car and drive to Koblenz which we'll use as a base to visit Cologne and Aachen and castles etc - Mark says to check out Strasbourg on the way past. Friday 10th or maybe Saturday 11th go to Amsterdam where we're staying with my cousin Stefan or Uncle Pieter we're not quite sure yet. We'll use Amsterdam as a base to explore the Netherlands for the week or maybe a bit less so that by Sunday 19th we arrive at Roskilde where we'll stay at the youth hostel while doing the Viking Ship Museum sailing course over the following week. Saturday 25th (and my birthday) we'll shift to Copenhagen for the night and then on to Aarhus where I'm checking out the library for work for a couple of days Wednesday 29th - leave from Copenhagen and getting back to NZ on Friday 1st July.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Land Offer In

Well, what a busy weekend we have had. We has spent Thursday evening with Nick's Dad putting together an offer for this 10 acre block in West Melton - thats about 15-20 minutes from Christchurch. We had to wait to Sunday to actually get the offer to the vendors so we spent Saturday doing stuff at home and then checking out wood burners and kitchen appliances. I finished sealing the hallway after the plastering and then on Sunday I managed to get two coats of the paint ('drought' from resene) on so that's pretty much done. I just need to take the tape off from around the doors. Its great to get that done - I think that I want to replace the horrid pick frilly lampshades, and then once the floors are polished we're all done. Anyway - the land... We picked up Nick's Mum Suzie from her work in Hornby and headed out. The couple selling the land were really nice and we got to have a good look around this time which was great as last time all we did was look over the gate. Its got more of a rise on it than I expected and standing on the highest point we had fabulous views - maybe the tower will go there. When we got back to the house there was time for a chat and I casually dropped about the Viking sailing course and we got talking about historical interests and Mrs ? then jokingly said how she'd always wanted to build a wee castle in her rose garden. Well... as you can imagine that was our in ... we had brought Nick's sketch because they have to approve the house plans and we were hoping to get them to sign off on the concept before we were committed to the purchase. Anyway they, especially she, were very enthusiastic - so huge relief on my part. So assuming that the legalities all check out - and a wee bit more negotiation on the fine points of price and conditions - we should have 10 acres when we get back from the trip (settlement date is two days after we get back). YAY

Friday, May 20, 2005

Wedding day

Originally uploaded by hindins.
This isn't our wedding day - its us at our friends. I'm using it to test my new flickr account's 'blog this photo' feature so that when we're on our trip we can add photos as we go.

So lets see if it works shall we?
Hmmm, not entirely successful... there's a 1px square which I can click on to see the actual photo at flickr... but wait - lets try allowing secondary site images to display from instead of Aha - as I suspected - its that little tweak in Firefox tripping us up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

House planning

Well we're making headway on the big house plans - a few things have slipped into place over the last few weeks. Firstly the commercial property that I share interest in with my sisters has been sold and we should see the balance from it pretty much the same times as Nick and I get back from our trip. That with the money in our savings account should cover most of the land and then we get to mortgage both properties to pay for the building. We've seen a couple of properties that we like. One is in an area which will require a very deep well which is a bit more expensive - like $20,000 but its gently rolling land and square which means that we can situate the house quite centrally and plant so that its very private. And its on a sealed road - off, but not far from a main highway. So the travel time in and out of Christchurch is fairly short. Nick has, just this morning, spoken to an architect who is very keen. Keen-ness is essential to me because what we want to do is a bit unusual so we don't want someone who is going to be trying to force us into a modern style house (although we do want a modern house - in medieval style) and watering down our vision. Anyway its all good progress. Probably nothing real will happen until we're back from the trip but its great to see stuff happening - I do feel a little like Nick is taking all the burden of it though. And great progress is taking place at home with the backyard - Rob is really pulling finger now which is great. Now that my arm seems to be getting better (the boxing last night has really helped - go figure) I can get on with the hallway. I would like it to be all painted before we leave but that should be easy - there's 1/2 a coat of the plaster sealer to go on and the two coats of paint won't take long to apply. anyway - back to work...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Restaurant review

A couple of restaurant reviews today 'cos as Jules says "you eat out all the time". Not true of course but wouldn't it be nice. First up - Indochine Indochine has been one of my favourite restaurants for a while so I was thrilled when they managed to squeeze Nick and Me in on the night of our wedding at very short notice and I was not disappointed. Here's what I had: cocktail: baghdad iced tea - lovely fresh cucumber and minty flavours starter: shared a plate of sesame flatbread with a sweetish sate dip. I really like the flat bread as a starter because its not as bready as most bread starters and therefore doesn't threaten to fill you up. dim sum: shared a dish of salt and pepper squid. Tender and moist and in a very light batter this was just perfect main: pressed duck with mandarin sauce on a bed of wilted spinach and bean sprouts with a side of asian vegetables in oyster sauce. The duck was fully boned and had a lovely crispy skin adn the mandarin sauce was a little sweet and sour which contrasted wonderfully with the vegetables which were savoury and a bit salty. dessert: chocolate tart with vanilla sauce - a description which doesn't do justice to the incredibly light, soft and richly chocolaty tart which is served slightly warm which enhances the flavour. Its just heavenly. I think that this is the best dessert I've ever had. Rotherams Rotherams is a much more formal dining experience and the food is more traditional European than indochine but its just as good - just different (and a tad more expensive). This would be a great place to go for that special event. The feta tart was a lovely start to the dinner as it was light and had excellent feta and lots of mesclun although it was a bit tricky to get the pastry to stay put on my fork. Then I had the salmon steak which came with 3 large scallops and on a bed of spinach again (in season I guess) - all cooked just right with nicely done vegetables on the side. For dessert I had the rum and raisin cheesecake which was wonderfully light for a cheesecake, and suitably rich. At Rotherams the food was great and the service outstanding - a real counterpoint to the seriously under-par showing at Michaels a couple of weeks ago (but we won't go into that).

Monday, May 09, 2005

Wedding tomorrow

Tomorrow Nick and I will get married. We tried to keep numbers to just the required witnesses which was going to be my sister Kate and Nick's Mum but has swollen a bit as couldn't ask Kate without her partner Abs and then Nick felt that if Suzie was there and his Dad wasn't his Chris would get upset, which probably also means Chris's partner Di and then of course if his parents were going I couldn't very well stop my Dad from coming too (especially as he live less than a block from the place) so now its turning into exactly the circus that I didn't want. Everyone else seems much more excited about it than we are. Its just signing a bit of paper after all. Never mind... the party / reception / celebration of us is the main thing and everyone will be invited to that and hopefully we'll have it just the way we want.

Friday, May 06, 2005

No Ding Dong here

So, its May already and our trip is fast creeping up on me. But the big news is that we're getting married. On Tuesday - yes this coming Tuesday at 11.00 at the regsitry office here in Christchurch. Oddly enough whenever I tell someone that I'm getting married they want to know when the wedding is. There will be NO WEDDING. But when we get back we're going to organise a party. I'm calling it a celebration of us. I'm hoping to have it at Nick's Mum's place in Tuahiwi, probably in October or November when nights are getting a bit warmer so that we can put up a marquee and have it outside. I really don't know why people expect us to do the whole stupid (not to mention hideously expensive) wedding thing when we've been together for 15 years already. Anyway, thats it for now. Apart from that we're deep in trip preparation - Chris organised a great deal for us on some pack and sleeping bags so now its just a matter of making a few more bookings and we're good to go. Oh, and we're looking at land at the moment - 10 acres (4 ha) somewhere close where we can build a small castle and have some horses. We thought that we'd found the perfect spot but the guy put so many restrictions on it we figured that he wasn't going to be a very good neighbour so we flagged it. We'll start looking for real when we get back. And I've started making my version of Elizabeth's Robes of Estate - more infomration on my web site. I'm dtafting the bodice right now - I was going to base it on my doublet but that has a curved front and this has to be straight so I'm using Alcega #3 (f14) and the instructions for drafting a period doublet from the collegium class that I did last year in Caid. This is a good incentive to actually finish that pattern.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Body Revolution Rox

Well this is my last week of the 12 week Body Revolution package at les Mills. I have acheived my goals which was really just to get back to where I was last year after the 12 Week Challenge except that in terms of weight I've been on this 84kg plateau for about 5 weeks which has been really annoying. Anyway I've been thinking about trying rock climbing. The local YMCA has indoor climbing walls and does instruction. I think that it could be really fun and in summer you can go and do real climbing outside. Anyway... something to think about.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Trip update

Well things are getting closer with the trip. Current itinerary looks something like this: May 28th - leave Christchurch May 29th/30th arrive London - Nick and Paul go on to Stuttgart for their engine conference and I stay in London - probably at the Earls Court YHA, or somewhere June 2nd evening or 3rd morning - I fly to Stuttgart to meet Nick after the conference June 5th? - Stuttgart to Koblenz June ? - Amsterdam where uncle Pieter or one of my couzins will meet us at the airport and we'll stay with them for about a week and use Amsterdam as a base with high priority to visit Muiderslot castle June 15? - leave Amsterdam and travel north getting to Roskilde in Denmark by June 19 - Roskilde YHA (booked) and the Viking Ship Sailing Course (also booked) June 25 - Copenhagen. Its my birthday and almost the end of our trip so I'd like to stay somewhere a bit nicer tonight and have a restaurant dinner June 26 - Aarhus possibly staying at the Cab Inn which is close to the library where I'll be visiting for two days (27th - 28th) while Nick explores the area - Jane says to look out for the Sow statue/fountain June 29th - leave - not sure yet where we'll be flying out from but we need to be back at work on the 4th July and we'll lose a day coming back in addition to the travel time itself so I imagine that we'll board a flight out of Copenhagen

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

So much goin' on

Shit I'm slack - haven't done anything for a month... and its not like nothing's been happening. Well I just got back from Chris and Ra's wedding which was lovely. I really liked that Chris escorted Ra, rather than doing the 'giving away' thing. They had a lovely location too and it was all really good. Its really funny that some people can have a 'religious' wedding and yet it doesn't come over really heavy-handed yet when other people do it it does. Case in point: Dad's wedding seemed really overtly religious - the minister or whatever seemed to always be making statements like "we believe X Y Z.." and things that assumed that everyone there was Christian and I found it really offensive. But this one was really good and kind of connected the christian world-view with other faiths and even and it was quite nice. Nick and I have decided to get married, largely because I wanted it for legal reasons - I want to make sure that Nick gets everything without debate if I was to die. But I'm not interested in having anything public - but Nick wants a party (he says that he wants presents). I want to do it before we go on our trip though which doesn't leave a lot of time - May I think. So the big trip is getting way closer. Nick is in the US right now for about 3 weeks and in the meantime I have to pay for the sailing course.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Canterbury Faire report

Hi there, we're back safely after five days and very exhausted. This was certainly the best Canterbury Faire that I've had for several years and I have come away quite enthused about next years with lots of plans for campsite upgrades. Highlights for me:
  • the look on Callum and Chretienne's faces when Sigurd and Tycho presented Callum with the sword
  • meeting some excellent new people, e.g. Sir Ives, and getting to know some old acqaintences a lot better e.g. Angel and Redbeard
  • stepping down as Arts and Sciences officer and the determination not to accept any new offices for several years at least
  • the look on a young ladie's face after trying on one of my gowns (which she then bought) - I swear she was floating and she seemed to wear it all weekend
  • actually enjoying the pirate party
The only poo was that I felt a bit cruddy all weekend and was also quite busy so that I didn't get any fighting in. By Tuesday this had developed into a proper cold which I still suffer from. Plans for next year include:
  • a proper floor for our pavillion and a broom to sweep it with
  • household paraphenalia e.g. banners etc
  • a large barrel for our drinking / cooking water
  • getting Callum and Chretienne into a decent tent or pavillion e.g. one that doesn't leak
checkout my web site for pictures in a few days

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Canterbury Faire 2005

Well, this is my last day at work before going to Canterbury Faire. It should be a great event, although there are rumours of rain, but that should simply keep the temperature down. After much consideration I have decided to enter the Tailor's Guild competition for camp costume, having just completed a new kirtle which I am very happy with. It's based on the same pattern as last year's one but its dark green fine wool lined with rose-pink linen and it fits really nicely. I'm also speed-sewing a new linen chemise as I have lent one of mine to Tess who's coming up for a day and I was about due a new one. Linen was really hard to find at a decent price and I ended up paying $12.50 /m at Global - but its really nice linen and will wear magnificently. So we get to spend tomorrow cooking and sewing and packing and then off bright and early on Friday. Still have heaps to do as usual so I'd better get on with it...

Friday, January 28, 2005


As I might have mentioned I'm a librarian - actually I maintain (and even sometimes get to design) websites for Christchurch City Libraries. Anyway, librarians have a different take on the internet, and their place in it from most people. All this is prologue to this interesting quote that I came across in last month's Wired magazine from Jeff Bezos of Amazon "We not only help readers find books, we also help books find readers" Why is this interesting you ask? Well I think that its interesting because that's exactly what librarians often think that they do. The problem for my colleagues is that (in my opinion) Amazon does it better.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What's for dinner

Last year I joined up at the gym for a 12 week challenge - a programme that helped you set goals and teamed you up with a personal trainer for 12 weeks. It was fairly successful and I lost a bit of weight, quite a few cms and got a lot fitter, all of which was great. But as frequently happens it has since all crept back - largely due to a series of flus, being away for 4 weeks and then injuring my back + too many beers over Christmas I think. At the time I didn't really change my eating much - but now I'm trying the body revolution programme which puts more emphasis on getting your eating under control as well as having the exercise. I had my first day tracking my food and like many people I tend to consume too many carbohydrates. So one of my goals for this week is to not have any beer whatsoever. Favourite beer at the moment is Monteiths Radler - a lager with a twist of lime and lemon. I don't normally like lagers but the citrus really gives it some body.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Trip beginning to firm up

Well our big trip is beginning to firm up - not that we've made any bookings yet, apart from the Sailing a Viking Longship course in Roskilde itself. But we do know that Nick's engine conference is in Stuttgart and finishes on June 2nd. So probably I will meet him there and we'll wend our way north, cross into the Netherlands where I'll hopefully hook up with some family for a 25year catch up. Visiting Muiderslot castle is high on my agenda for the Netherlands. Then we'll keep heading north across the top of Germany again and into Denmark. The course starts on the 20th and finishes the 24th and then a couple of days in Copenhagen and probably home again. This will be our first ever overseas non-SCA holiday and I'm very excited at the idea of touring without 7 bags of costumes and armour.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Stressful times in Southron Gaard

Things have been rough in Southron Gaard for some time and in acknowledgement of that one of our longer-serving couples generously hosted a general meeting last Sunday where people were encouraged to discuss what kinds of things they'd like to see us do over the next couple of years. On the whole it was pretty positive. Most of the people there seemed to recognise that we're a pretty broad group with varying interests within the SCA context and that that is OK. For me the meeting was disappointing in two respects: 1. Despite the above there were still a couple of people who seem to feel that they have some right to dictate what people can wear to SCA events, above and beyond what is stated in the SCA's governing documents. The following is quoted from the introductory section of those documents: "As a living history group, the Society provides an environment in which members can recreate various aspects of the culture and technology of the period, as well as doing more traditional historical research. We sponsor events such as tournaments and feasts where members dress in clothing styles worn in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and participate in activities based on the civil and martial skills of the period. These activities recreate aspects of the life and culture of the landed nobility in Europe prior to 1600 CE. The dress, pastimes, and above all the chivalric ideals of the period serve to unify our events and activities." Given this clear focus on the nobility of Europe, which is repeated in other core documents of the SCA, I can't understand how it can be considered a bad thing to do exactly that. Moreover, I can kind of get those who would like to see the SCA raise its standards of dress a bit but the fact is that the SCA has always been open to anyone willing to make an attempt at medieval or renaissance costume and that openness, I believe, is very important. But the people at this meeting want us to drop our standards. Excerpt from Corpora: "Anyone may attend Society events provided he or she wears an attempt at pre-17th century clothing" Surely that means that I can wear an attempt at a faithful recreation of an Elizabethan or Burgundian noblewoman's gown if I wish? The only reason for it that I can see is that some people, despite having no desire to have more authentic noble costume, resent that others do have it. For we all start with nothing, some of us work hard and spend a lot of time learning a skill (whether it be fighting, armouring, costuming or any other skill) because we enjoy those things, and others, who presumably don't, don't. Classic tall poppy syndrome I guess. Sad though. Anyway - enough of that. My other disappointment is that very few people (if any) offered to do any more than what they generally do. There was a lot of "we need to do X" and even more "people should do X" and very little "I will do X". Hopefully people are going away and actually thinking about what more they could do or what behavioural changes they can make but it didn't come out at the meeting unfortunately.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

House planning

Nick and I have been tossing ideas around recently about building a house. For a while we were quite keen on the idea of a Hacienda. We both really like the idea of building around a central courtyard, with a fountain and plantings and also the highish ceilings with exposed beams and the tilework and the covered walkways around the courtyard. But with the horrible weather recently we're wondering if we shouldn't rather look to a more northern european style and we're now talking more about a great hall with tower kind of configuration. Of course we can use elements of both. But the idea of a large space that could be cleared out for medium sized SCA events and could be used as general living space, maybe with some dividers is very attractive. So we've been looking around for information and found this castle magic website - a bit out of our $$ limit but a good source of ideas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Well - here we are then

Ok, so this is my first ever blog post. I should probably make it clear that this blog is pretty much for my own nefarious purposes and not really for public consumption, at this point anyway. So I'm going to have a little play. Actually I've always been less than impressed by the idea of a blog - at a technical level anyway. Some of course have great content. But my colleagues have demanded updates when we go to Europe to learn to sail Viking long boats later this year and I thought that a blog might be the way to do that. Gotta say though - couldn't be easier to set up one of these things. Now on to publish...