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.