Monday, December 22, 2008

pre-Christmas update

Wow we've been so busy at work and not having usable internet at home is my chief excuse for not posting for so long. Also I've been really unwell since the Halloween party. Its been up and down as usual but more down than up. I'd like to be able to say that it was getting better but it isn't really. I've had to go back to sitting around most weekends and really working at not taking on too much. A bit difficult with the Christmas rush. We're doing it fairly quiet this Christmas. We're hosting the Hindin Christmas bagel brunch which has the advantage of meaning we don't have to drive there and back. After that we currently have no plans which is great. We're having a very low-key 'party' to celebrate my 40th birthday and that's about it. I'll be bringing out a few old favourites for it - the layered salmon mousse cake and hopefully some boozy ice-cream. Nick is in charge but we're doing it together. Had a goodish weekend. Firstly it poured down on Saturday - we had a couple of much needed inches that day alone and then more overnight so with a few warm days forecatsed we're looking forward to some grass growth. This meant some inside jobs got done including the wardrobe which is now finally fully installed (except for the shelves which they are still waiting on to arrive in chch). I ran about hanging things up on Sunday - it was great. On Sunday we went South to Mead to meet a prospective doggy for me. We will arrange pick-up in a few days when we've got things set up for her. She's a light brindle greyhound called kiwi and I can't wait to have her home. She's very affectionate and about 3 1/2. So that's my excitement and my main birthday present. I'm thrilled.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Double Diablo - Chocolate cake

As requested: the recipe for the Double Diablo chocolate cake. The origins of this cake are lost in the mists of family history but we've been making it a long time. It does make a large and quite dense cake, almost brownie-like. You could probably use other liquors in place of the scotch but as we love scotch we've never tried. Our latest cake was made with Bowmore by the way. Ingredients
  • ½ C raisins… soaked in
  • ½ C scotch (whiskey), preferably overnight
  • 400 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ C water
  • 225 g unsalted butter in chunks
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/3 C sugar
  • 9 Tb flour
  • 1 1/3 C ground almonds
  • Pinch salt
Plus for the ganache topping
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 2/3 C cream
  1. Soak raisins in scotch overnight
  2. pre-heat oven to 160ÂșC and butter a 12”/30cm diameter cake tin – I prefer to use a spring-form tin as its much easier to get out.
  3. Melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler with the water. Stir in butter bit by bit until smooth and glossy
  4. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and creamy. Stir in chocolate/butter mix
  5. Add the flour and almonds, then the raisin/whiskey and mix gently
  6. Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Carefully fold one third of this into the mix, then the second third, finally the last of it. Try not to deflate the egg as it goes in was this is what gives the cake its lift.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 50 minutes – test it – then continue baking until done. This has been known to take over an hour but will depend on your oven.
  8. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before turning out.
  1. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler. Once melted and smooth remove from heat to let it cool a wee bit so that it doesn’t melt the cream when you add it – obviously it has to be still liquid though.
  2. Whip the cream until quite firmly whipped.
  3. Fold the chocolate into the cream and spread on the cake. Once the chocolate cools the ganache will be quite firm.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New day

Well its a new week and we're facing a National Government in the near future. I'll leave comment on that to the experts... I'm more interested in our new (naughty) baby who quickly developed a fondness for leaving his Mum trapped behind the (off) electric fence and going a-wandering. Because of this, and the timing of his birth, we have finally fixed on the name Twilight Escapade. He's also found that if he rubs up against the fencing standard he can push the tape out of it. Saturday night he and his mum pushed through the brand new wire fence and ended up on the other side completely. It looks like we will have to introduce him to the electricity sooner than anticipated. More photos over at my flickr Not much else to tell. The house-warming Halloween party went pretty well. I was a bit frantically busy beforehand prepping snacks etc but managed to stay up until 1:30 which is very late for me. Costumes were cool, weather was OK and there was a nice mix of people. Now there's Christmas and my 40th to look forward to. We've had a cool and damp week and are getting some good grass growth which is great. Also some people got us trees, and tree vouchers. But we haven't been able to go shopping yet because the Surf has broken down - in a very bad way, so we're scooting in and out of town in the MR2 - not much room for trees in there. We have BEGUN the Christmas shopping with a noodists sale night at nood, plus got a few things for ourselves. so YAY, its good to get that on the go as its only a few weeks away really. No I haven't decided what I want: I have the usual short-list of DVDs and CDs and am almost completely out of body butter (Body Shop is the place for me) hint hint. I am thinking about getting Nick this fabulous armour book about the Wallace Collection. I got the guy's previous book of the Churburg Armoury and it is lovely, if expensive, but the worst thing was negotiating shipping from Italy - they wanted to charge almost 100%. Anyway, enough rubbish from me....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Lightening has just foaled - about 45 minutes ago (7:20 ish). A wee bay colt with his mum's thin blaze and a couple of white feet like his Dad. Its a bit cold but fine. We're still waiting for it to get on its feet. yay!! Photos soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Labour Weekend

Well I managed to drag Nick to the St Crispin's event and we took Zoe too. Earlier in the week he'd though that Lad would be OK but as the week went on Lad's "its spring and I'm horny all the time" behaviour made it clear that that would be more interesting than we'd like. The drawback with Zoe was that she's not exactly in work. In fact she's only been ridden about four times over the past month and that was it for the last two years. Oh and she'd had her first introduction to the stands and the sticks (mini-lances for playing rings) on Thursday. While she got OK about the stands, she really doesn't like that stick. Anyway he rode her a bit and tried her with ther 'heads' and rings games but she wasn't keen. So he did it all on Willow. Willow'd a big part clydie mare who has been extensively Parellied, and is ridden in a string halter. As both Nick and Vanessa commented - she pretty much does what she wants. Anyway its a start. Over the next couple of months we'll try to get Zoe more used to the stick. In house related news we finally picked up the flash new wardrobe bits from and started putting that together - we've got the short end and corner up and still have the long side to do. Its a bit tricky - some bits are definitely a two person job. But it looks great - and really solid. On Labour day Monday Nick went to the annual Southern Woods sale and bought over 100 mixed NZ trees and a couple of quinces. He's planted the quinces and some of the trees around the house - its great to get those areas started. Now we're all go for the housewarming on Friday - I've had lots of offers of help and have taken the Friday off for preparation. We're also having a small pre-BBQ for assorted people who can't stay for the evening and other reasons. I have my costume mostly done - a bit more sewing tonight should see it finished. It should be fun. We're in the normal dis-array. Too much to do. But its a good prelude to my 40th birthday party this Christmas - I haven't worked out when yet but several friends are coming down some time between Christmas and New Year so possibly in there somewhere.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wallpaper, hack hack cough cough

Grumble, I've had a terrible cold/virus thing for the last week and have lost the best part of a week to it. Probably don't have any sick leave left now so it'll come out of my annual leave. Anyway, the wallpaper is up and looks freakin' fantastic. Especially with the blood red curtains next to it. I'm not posting pictures - you'll just have to visit. Hah! Well maybe after the housewarming.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Over the weekend we set up a pioneer component stereo system that we have on loan. It came with a record player, which even had a needle on it. this wouldn't normally be worth mentioning, after all many hard-core musicos still play vinyl by preference. But for me its been very interesting. See as long as I've been with him (which by the way will be 20 years this time next year), Nick's been dragging around a beer crate of records - which he's never played in all that time - even though for the first 8-10 years we did have a record-capable stereo. Last year I even went through and made a list of them with the (mutual) expectation of dragging them to the second-hand record place and selling the lot. Nick was even informed that some might be worth a bit. Anyway, he's been playing some of them. Its been quite a revelation. And I've been quite enjoying them, mostly. There was quite a fun track on one with a woman singing about her car. I'm hoping to borrow a USB player from a colleague and rip them, now that limited format-shifting is legal (in NZ). He'll probably be playing them at out house warming. Here's the list
Public Image (PiL) This is not a love song: special edition
The Damned The Black Album
The Damned Music for Pleasure
The Damned Strawberries
The Damned Machine Gun Etiquette
Buzzcocks A different kind of tension
Lou Reed Growing Up In Public
Lou Reed Transformer
The Velvet Underground White Light / White Heat
The Fall 77 - Early Years - 79
The Fall The Fall Live
Bauhaus 4AD
New Order Substance
Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart
Joy Division Closer
Jefferson Airplane The Worst of Jefferson Airplance
Blue Sunshine The Glove
The Cure Boys don't cry
Young Marble Giants Colossal Youth
Buzzcocks Singles Going Steady
Shriekback Limited edition
King Swamp King Swamp
Shriekback Jam Science
Shriekback Big Night Music
Shriekback The Infinte
Shriekback Care
The Pogues Red Roses for Me
The Pogues Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
Warren Zevon A Quiet Normal Life
redskins Keep on Keepin' On
Shriekback Oil and gold
John Cooper Clarke Me and My Big Mouth
David Bowie Ziggy Stardust the motion picture
Bronski Beat Smalltown Boy
Talking Heads True Stories
Talking Heads Little Creatures
Yello 1980 - 1985 The New Mix in One Go
Talking Heads Stop Making Sense
Split Enz Waiata
Split Enz Time and Tide
No Idea Class War
Southern Front
The Newz Heard the Newz
Goats Milk Soap

Monday, October 06, 2008

Busy bees

Wow its been a busy few days. Last week Nathan called to say that he could come and do our fencing so Nick and I rushed home to make some decisions. By Friday it was all over and we spent some of the weekend hammering on rails and (well in Nick's case) string wires. Not a moment too soon really as Lightning is due to foal in a couple of weeks. Really a month ago I was still unconvinced that she was pregnant as she looked much as she did when we bought her, having just weaned her previous foal. But now there's no doubt and the book says mid to late October which means that we should have another baby by our house warming. We've also been paying for a few big items and its a bit of a crunch to see the bank balance dropping at an alarming rate - but them's the breaks. At least I finally have gotten around to contacting our ex-landlords and arranging for the bond back, plus the two weeks rent that I had accidentally overpaid when I thought that I'd stopped the auto-payments but actually hadn't. I spent much of the weekend painting the wardrobe rail supports and shelves in the two spare bedrooms which are currently housing our mundane and SCA wardrobes. I got the last of those hung this morning before work and can now start putting a few more things away. There are still many boxes in those rooms but I'm hoping to have them a bit more ship-shape by our housewarming (email invites went out last week - print ones this week - some of my email addresses are a bit out of date). Speaking of email we tried doing internet at home on the weekend and the dial-up connection is so bad that we're constantly getting dropped and when connected the speed is often less that 20kbps. Absolutely useless. I have to ring telecom and see if they can do anything about it but my hopes aren't high. Should have curtains by the weekend (master BR and theatre room) that will be a relief - especially in our bedroom! The wallpaper(s) have arrived and will be delivered on Wednesday also but no date for hanging. Hopefully that will be done by the end of the month too.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Spooky Spime

OK - that's just spooky. As noted in an earlier post i was particularly excited about next year's webstock because Bruce Sterling is speaking at it. So this morning I popped down and grabbed a couple of his books off the shelf at the Central Library here. I've just finished lunch where I began reading Shaping Things (2005) in which he coined the word SPIME - "manufactured objects whose informational support is so overwhelmingly extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system" pg 11 - not in the OED yet. I sit down at my PC and top of the new items on my iGoogle page is Spime Watch: Cisco launches consortium for 'Smart Objects' from my Wired feed. Freaky

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lazy Sunday

Nick and i had a very lazy sunday as he was feeling pretty rotten and I had a slight hang-over from the hen's night do the previous evening. So we sat around and read and watched about 4 episodes of Babylon 5 season 4. We're watching that again partly because we missed the odd episode when it was run on TV and felt that it was a series that we had to have. Other than that we've been emersed in 'soft' westerns for the last few months. First watching the first season of Alias Smith & Jones which I loved and now watching the Adventures of Brisco County Jnr which some might remember from the mid-1990s. Lots of fun anyway. I'm also reading Stephanie Alexander's book Stephanie's Seasons, basically her diary for 1992. Its fascinating, partly from the wonderful food which is very inspiring and partly for the historical notes: Australia in recession, the LA Rodney King riots. Its also wonderful writing. I'm very keen to read more of her books when I've finished. Late on Sunday our neighbour Lois met us at our boundary gate and gave us the most beautiful bunch of flowers. Daffodils and hyacinths and blossums and tulips and wonderfully scented things that I should know the names of but don't. I had to use four vases to take them all and now the house smells amazing. My own bulbs in pots are up but would barely fill one vase. Again very inspiring and I'm keen to spend at least some of this weekend gardening. Hopefully the nor-wester dies down as its been very windy. maybe we should concentrate on planting trees for shelter.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Progress report

Did you know that work can be incredibly tiring, or maybe I mean tiresome? Its not the work itself of course, that I can do more or less at home or in a vacuum. Its the constant negotiation of personality. I think that I'm just too tired to do it. anyway... Progress on most of the house stuff is good. JT came and finished hooking up the solar on Monday so we have now turned off the electricity to the hot water cylinder and are just working off the solar and the wetback. Yesterday was cool and damp so last night we lit the fire - the wood was good and dry so it got very hot very fast and this morning there was plenty of hot water for Nick's shower. Its another cool damp day (well so far) today - I wonder if I could get a hot shower or bath this evening. The electrician came on Wednesday and put in the vanity light in the bathroom, fixed a couple of things and most importantly put in the new Meile hob. Its gorgeous - just a flat plate of black glass as the switches are all touch switches. It heats up real fast and blends into the dark granite beautifully. Nick made omelets to celebrate. So really now we're just waiting on the plumber to fix the waste on my bath, for the wallpaper (which should arrive next friday), a new mirror for above the bathroom vanity (as the one supplied was too big) and then we're shot of K Fowler homes part at least. Curtains should arrive next month - at least the first batch - for our bedroom and the theatre room. Oh and telecom are supposed to be hooking us up next Tuesday so we'll finally have a phone. So that's all good and we're on track for our Halloween housewarming party - that's right, keep Friday 31st October free. Theme will be come as your favourite monster, but you know what we're like about themes, if you don't want to then don't worry about it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

OMG - WebStock 2009

Well the webstock 09 conference programme is out and I'm blown away by the speakers that they've managed to get. I was pretty excited that they'd got Cameron Adams to do a workshop on javascript but then then I found out that they've got Bruce Sterling to speak... I'm also somewhat relieved that its the week after the week after Canterbury Faire. So I will have a bit more time to get my head out of the 10th/15th/16th centuries and into the 21st.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Getting things done

Well it was a very busy weekend for us. I spent the morning at the Southron Gaard collegium learning naalbinding mainly. It quite enjoyed it but it wasn't a patch on the collegia that we used to have (and I'm not referring in any way to the quality of the workshops themselves but to the event as a whole). This was much more a couple of quiet workshops than a full on event. I don't think that it was just because it wasn't in garb, but also just the small number of classes, several of which were limited numbers, meant that interest was likewise limited. Anyway, at least now I can start making Sigurd some socks. Meanwhile Nick was off on a feed hunt for the horses as we'd run out of hay entirely. We ended up getting some lucerne from a guy, Martin, down the road. Its good to have met another neighbour. Also we bought a washing line which is great to have as the dryer is still just sitting on the laundry bench so i have to prop the laundry outside door open when I use it. In addition Nick has mounted the hand towel holders and a few paintings so things are coming together. The wooden floor people are coming on Thursday to re-oil the floor so we'll have a night away. I realised that I left off a few "favourite things"... I'm also loving the granite benchtop, although its hard to keep looking good. I think that window cleaner would keep it shiny. Oh and the views. And did I mention the projector? hmm I've just stuck some images on flickr if you want to have a look. We just had a shock about the cost of putting the power up the drive to the house $10,000!!! - we'd expected about half that. Bugger, maybe I'll have to hold off my wardrobes for a while.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The best stuff

Well its kind of nice to be back at work, although i really needed the week off - not just to deal with the move but also after the pretty intense few weeks before launching our new homepage and site templates. We're kind of settled in now. Nick spent half of Sunday on the roof putting the aerial up so that we could watch Dr Who on Sunday evening while I have filled in half of the trench (for cables / water) from the pump shed to the house and planted some veges in the newly dug vege patch. We've also had enough time to make a short list of items that need fixing. But on the whole we're pretty happy with the house and the things in it. My favourite things are:
  • the extractors over the stove. Instead of getting a normal extractor we went for a system called smoothair which we were promised was very quiet as the motor is in the ceiling. Its amazingly quiet and still very sucky and by getting 2 units (a 2 and a 3) we have the entire 1200 mm wide area covered.
  • the Bosch dishwasher and washing machine are almost equally quiet. Its SO worth spending a bit extra to get the best quality.
  • the space. The living / dining area and master bedrooms are huge and I just love having all that space.
  • the warmth. Double-glazing plus full under, over and side insulation really pays off. The wood burner however is barely enough as the wet-back sucks off a significant amount of the heat produced. We're going to need that heat transfer kit by next winter. JT is coming this morning (first thing apparently although its almost 9 now) to hook up the solar.
Anyway, I should do some work.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Week One

Well we've been in all of a week and I guess I should tell you how it went. Last Friday: possession day. It was a fine day and we got there at about 10:30 with a modest load from Madras St, and went through the house with Dustin. The builder was here busily putting handles on doors (all day) and the plumber was also here, making some last minute adjustments to nick's shower. Mostly things looked good although there are still a few things to be done. Dustin was being very agreeable and there were lots of promises to organise for things to be finished over the next few weeks.

Jenni came in and gave us a hand moving things in. One of the things still to be done is a re-oiling of the entire wood floors so that's the kitchen, living/dining room, theatre lounge and hallways so we have left the big and heavy furniture that goes in these rooms so that we don't have to move it twice.

By the end of the day I was fairly exhausted but we headed back to madras st to pick up enough food etc to feed ourselves for a couple of days. Saturday was a beuatiful day and we had loads of helpers. First up Nick met Rob in town with the float and they brought out the half-full freezer, our old fridge and a few other big things. Meanwhile I moved lots of boxes and smaller items. Then Suzie and jenni arrived and things got majorly underway. A bit later Tycho and Liz turned up on the bike and that was enough strong people to drag the freezer into the garage where it now lives. That really was the bulk of it. Pretty much everyone brought wine and by mid-afternoon we were mostly pooped out sitting around drinking wine.

Went to bed tired and happy... got up after 1/2 hour and took strong painkillers. Sunday was the day for my family and was dull and rainy. We pretty much just kept emptying boxes all day and moving stuff around. Nick bought some wood from Crusaders but it was terribly wet.

Monday Nick went to work and I stayed behind. It had been pissing down all night and rained constantly. I felt very farmerly going out to feed the horses hay in my boots and oilskin and beany. In the morning Becky came out with Isla and Mathilda and parked way down by the pumpshed as there was a huge puddle at the second gate. After she left I went into town and cleaned the Madras St place. Sarah had kindly offered to help, she is now a professional cleaner, but she'd already helped so much and there wasn't THAT much to do. Except that I didn't finish until about 3, oh well. Never mind.

Tuesday Rang Telecom to come and put in phone lines, rang city Firewood to deliver firewood. happily both coming Thursday afternoon which makes my scheduling easier. Had my first alone at home day and it was blissful, although still very wet. Wednesday Back into town for shopping (bathmats etc), work to pick up laptop and loaner wireless card from Dad (yay!!) and drop off keys to madras St. Crossing fingers that that all goes OK. Also finally went to shop to use voucher - bought a glass cake cover that I'd been looking for for about 2 years - none of the are wide enough to take a good sized and tallish cake - how silly. Danni and Al came for dinner and danni brought a magnificent pudding.

Thursday The first day that I've really had time to sit around and think, oh now what should I do. Wonderful!! Also a lovely warm sunny day. Took Zoe and Lil's covers off and put them on the long grass for a good feed as they are a bit thin. Wood came, nice and dry - they are good there. Telecom many came and put in the cables but he can't hook us up as there needs to be a network box on the road. Could take TWO WEEKS!!!. At least i now have internet. And we can finally fill in the trench, which means a couple of hours on the excavator for some keen person. Luckily there are always blokes happy to play with the digger. Watched The Incredibles on the new projector, just projected on the wall but its amazingly good. Completely redefines watching at home. Way better than the projector that they had at Madras St. Wow... so that's been my week. There's been so much happen I have now doubt left out important things. Many thanks to everyone who came out to help us move. All going well we'll have a housewarming party in a couple of months but I'd like to have a driveway and doorstep first. Well time to go feed the horses again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The day before the day before

Had a manic weekend but achieved a lot. We now have a letterbox, and by Friday will be able to receive mail. Nick's half-brother (?) Sam helped him him get the digger going on Saturday and ran it down our trench evening the surface out so that we could finally drop the water pipe into it. The digger had been broken down for a couple of months and until this was done we couldn't get Telecom in to lay in a phone line. We won't have a phone when we move in but at least we can get that ball rolling now. I got a bit sunburnt on the face, either that or I'm picking up Nick's flu... which would be bad - he's at home today. It take a lot for Nick to stay home sick. The house is looking good - we went out last night to feed the beasties and met the cleaners. Although there are still quite a few things that need taking care of - paint retouching, interior door handles, shower walls / doors, re-plastering, damage to the wood floors, and they need to be re-oiled. A lot of this stuff could have been avoided with a little care but they don't take even the most basic precautions against damage. Several of our outside door handles and windows are badly scratched up by one of the contractors dogs - who also left a few parcels around the property. But still we're looking forward to being in finally - and having our own stuff again. And I'm sure Nick's looking forward to getting the shed back and being able to start setting it up as the workshop. Of course we still have a lot of work ahead: drive way needs doing, door steps etc - basically all of the outdoors stuff.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I think that I'm in shock. My arms feel like they're floating and the room is buzzing and I'm quite light-headed. I just got to work to be told that the last three weeks of work, wrapping new style-sheets and templates around the libraries' website has been lost. Over-written on a server that isn't being backed up. We were supposed to go live with it this Saturday ... well that ain't gonna happen. I actually feel quite reluctant to start over. I just want to go home. Maybe that's not it, maybe its the $12000 quote for curtains that came last night. Or maybe its having gone to the gym for the first time in weeks last night.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Less than a fortnight to go!!!

Yes that's right, we're supposed to move in in a little under two weeks. The painting is almost finished (they still have to do outside around the surfeits), the tiling is moving along quite well. We have been trying to decide on curtains and have found really nice fabrics that don't cost a fortune, including this one for the bedroom. This week they'll do the lighting and plumbing so by next weekend it should be nearly there. Then they have to re-oil the floor and we won't be able to step on it for a couple of days and we should move in the following weekend. A couple of things won't be entirely finished: the wallpaper won't arrive from overseas on time, but should be able to be done shortly after. The special meile hob is not going to arrive for several months because even though we told them what we wanted last December they have only just gone to order it and discovered that it will have to come from overseas and may not arrive until November. We're less happy about that. And we won't have wardrobe fixtures as we've decided to do them ourselves, except for our walk-in which we're going to get a modular system from which are quite nice and we can install ourselves.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The good and the bad

Well its been ages since I posted and we've been absolutely flat out. Nick's currently down at Benmore Power Station doing his training for the big job that they're doing down there. The house is coming along quickly now. The macrocarpa floors are down and looked magnificent (until everyone walked on them and got them dirty). The garage doors are on and also look great and the kitchen is in. We're regretting not adding a metre into the width of the house to give us a bit more kitchen and larger bedrooms but it's OK. Last time I was there the painters had begun undercoating. We're about a month away from moving in I guess - well that's what the finishing schedule says - we should be able to move in the weekend before the Nicholson's, whose house we're renting, get back - so there's really no leeway at all. So that's the good news. The bad is that Tybalt died and my horse Lil has turned out to be lame. After tests at the vet it appears to be permanent and untreatable and she really can't be ridden so when Nick gets back he'll be talking to the woman that we bought her from. Oh and I'm quite ill again, almost certainly to do with the stress of the above. And our little black steer got out of his paddock not once but twice in two weeks, even after Nick had strengthened the fences - so he's going to the home-kill man. This will leave Riley all alone and he's noticeably distressed about it so he is also going to go. We'll get some new young ones in a couple of months. Anyway not much else on. Work is busy and obviously I'm tired all the time. I'm getting heaps done on my work at home days. Sometimes I think that they're the only reason I make any progress at all. I don't really have time for SCA at all at the moment although I'm making steady progress on my trunkhose, sewing in front of TV in the evenings. Not feeling very inspired you might say.

Friday, June 13, 2008

House update

Well we finally have a finishing schedule. We're supposed to have handover on August 22 which is just scraping in as our lease ends that weekend. I've started doing things like selecting the wallpaper for the theatre room. I've found some fabulous ones and some of them are quite expensive but my firm favourite so far is this design by Nina Campbell: Fleur de Lys Court from the Birdcage Walk book.

We've also just about finished the lighting plan - I just have to sort out a fabric to cover the main light in the Dining bay - I have a back-up which is a sort of ruched dupion silk look fabric in a similar red to that in the wallpaper - although they are for different rooms I want to have splashes of red around. Its actually been very difficult to find the right reds. There's lots of bricky and winey colours but much less in this red lacquer / crimson kind of tones. I've picked out a pretty cool light for the entrance hallway - its glass and semi-opaque in bits - here's a not very good picture.

Right now they're finishing the gib - which has caused a bit of panic for us. Nick got out there last night to find that they had put piles of polystyrene outside which had blown around in the wind and panicked the new mares Lil and Anna through their electric fence and into the next paddock. So in the pitch black he had to sort them out into a new enclosure away from the polystyrene which had also blown right across our neighbours paddocks as well. Needless to say we're pretty unhappy (again). And the week hadn't gotten off to a good start for Fowlers as when we were out on Sunday they had left such a mess of food scraps, empty and partially empty drink bottles, food wrappers etc inside the house - it was really disgusting - I took about 20 photos as "documentation". Nick tells me that this had been tidied up but even so - we don't need to start attracting rodents into our house before we're even in it!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Horsey stuff

I haven't really said much about Lil yet, mainly because I've been distracted by Tybalt's illness (she's getting about now). We had a couple of nice rides last weekend and Jenni took some lovely pictures which I have put on my Flickr - tagged as Lil. She's settled down really well and while I haven't really been pushing her at all (or myself for that matter) we have tried a couple of new things, well for me anyway. I had hoped to try her with the Rings game on Queen's birthday Monday but the weather was quite crappy. Instead I moved all the house plant pots up to the house while Nick dug around inside the digger which has stopped going (unsuccessfully unfortunately). Hopefully the weather will stay nice this weekend and we'll be able to get in a games session and maybe a road ride. We've also packed Jack off to Suzie's for weaning. Jenni took some great photos of the float loading process - he really didn't want to go even though his Mum was on board. But he was resistant - not frantic and arrived quite excited but not sweated up or anything. We put him in a small paddock alongside the arena and mummy got to play a bit. Actually Zoe went really well given that she hasn't been ridden in a couple of years really. Nick is planning to ride her through winter and we'll get her in foal again this spring. Like Lil she has a cutting background so should take to the games like the duck to water. I've just finished reading a fabulous book about riding side saddle called The Art of Side Saddle by Rosamund Owen. I've always wanted to give it a try and according to most the horses take to it very easily. Its also been having a bit of a come-back - one of the local riding schools was giving lessons last year and there are still women hunting side saddle, taking on huge jumps and winning competitions against astride riders too. Of course modern side saddle is not much like medieval side saddle, however apparently Catherine de Medici was the first to sling her right leg over the horn of the saddle so its possibly in-period for an Elizabethan. I however have decided to ride astride, in men's costume, in the SCA. I have 9.5m of light brown cotton velvet to make a pair of trunk-hose, doublet and hopefully if there's enough left over a short cloak. I've decided to make a leather morion that will slip over my riding helmet. Its great to be enthused by a project again - its just difficult finding the time to actually work on it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tybalt on the mend

Well after several visits to the vet it looks like Tybalt is on the mend. After leaving her at the vet's on Wednesday I called on Thursday and the vet expressed surprise with her recovery. We picked her up on Friday evening and brought her home for the long weekend. She's been eating well and drinking although its a bit of a struggle to get her to take her pills. I've gone to crushing them in her food. She's not mobile yet. Saturday and Sunday mostly all she could do was pull herself around on her forelegs but by Monday she was beginning to get her back legs under her and crouch and this morning she tried to get off my lap. She's still not strong enough to walk yet though - but there is definite improvement every day and she's perky and purring. We bought her a supply of polar-fleece throws from the warehouse and a hot water bottle to keep her snug and cosy. The polar fleece is great because its so easy to wash.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I'm having the worst day ever. First of all my cat Tybalt is very sick, possibly terminal. This is the cat that I inherited from Mum. Over the last year she's really been slowing down but she must be about 20 so that is ancient for a cat. Because we were facing the possibility of frequent changes of address and possibly fairly crap accomodations I decided to put her into a cattery thinking that one shift would be easier than multiples on her and last time she went to a cattery she was fine. After a couple of weeks they called to ask us to come and see her because they thought that she might have cat flu or something. She seemed OK to us - her nose does run sometimes, but she was real purry and friendly, although we never put her down. However when I went to see her last Sunday she was silent and lethargic. Didn't even have enough energy to catch herself when she jumped off my lap. I decided to ask the couple we're renting the house from if we could bring her back here (they're in Thailand on holiday - this is kind of house sitting, not a flat). Anyway we went out and bought her a huge dog cage so that she could be inside without endangering their couches and we got the OK to bring her home early on Tuesday. I guess that I was hoping that she was a bit depressed - not actually sick. Anyway the cattery rang me at work on Tuesday as they'd noticed the same - she was no longer walking so we agreed that they'd take her to the vet. Well it turns out that her kidneys are shot. Not surprising in such and old cat, and she's very dehydrated and has lost muscle mass. We had her here overnight but she's back at the vet on a drip today and if she picks up we may bring her home again. We're going to try this for a few days and hope that she picks up. If not we may have to consider other options. On top of that - essential software for most of my work has somehow been uninstalled from my laptop on my work at home day, and they can't find the disc to reinstall from, also I left the internet card at work, and Rebecca had to cancel lunch again because her free-loading babysitter decided that she'd rather go for a massage. Pretty crap really - I can't wait for bed-time and a new day.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Well my other bit of news from the weekend is that I've finally bought a horse. I first started looking for a horse a few years ago before my CFS diagnosis and my first attempt resulted in my finger being distorted (I still have a lump) after I got bucked off. That took months to heal and then when I found out that I was quite sick I stopped riding altogether apart from the odd casual ride out with Nick or Suzie. But I have been feeling much better now for a while and had been casually looking at trademe occasionally. A really good sounding (and she was) horse came up a couple of weeks ago but I missed out on her. Anyway one of Nick's western friends suggested that we go up to the Mt Algidus station to look a a young horse called (yeah i know). Turned out that they also had an older mare for sale that had done a lot of cutting. Google was a bit young for what I need but I tried out the mare who's name is lill (Little Doc's Sugar Cube) and she's great - very light to ride - I didn't need to kick hard - just a firm nudge really, which is what i like. Nice movement if maybe a bit out of work now, but she'll get fit quickly i think as from what i was told she's been in work fairly recently. Anyway, they're going to deliver her to a friend's place where we can pick her up. We also had another local SCA equestrian practice. it went pretty well although people stopped fairly early. It was getting cool though. We're practising rings at the moment - I rode William and he was pretty good although I have to learn to be aware of the end of my pole as well as the tip as I hit him in the rump once. Piccys on my flickr page - tag southrongaardequestrian

Bricks on

Well the house is still moving slowly but we've just made the third payment and the bricks are all on and its looking pretty sweet. The pictures below look a bit funny because they've been pasted together with Photoshop and instead of taking 3 or 4 from a central position they're composed of 2 - one near and one far so to stick them together one has to get a bit skewed.

We had a real funny last week. Our original plan had been to have the wet-back(s) and the solar for water heating and that was for in the castle. Then when we went to a smaller house we still had these quite big wet-backs. Anyway Nick went to an uncle of his who's quite big in the whole heating thing and he suggested that we'd need something to draw extra heat from the cylinder like radiators or underfloor. So base on that we'd had underfloor pipes put into the two bathrooms when they poured the slab back in November / December.

Then about two months ago we had a sit down with the two plumbers - one for the normal stuff and the guys who are doing the solar. They felt that there wasn't going to be enough heat so we agreed not to hook up the pipes in the bathrooms. Then the plumber cut through those pipes when cutting out the bit for the showers and bath - Nick was pretty pissed... Anyway, late last week the solar guy rings Nick and says that he's put in a similar system somewhere else and it keeps boiling the cylinder and he's worried that ours will too - so now we have to hook up the under-floor.

Just goes to show - Nick's uncle was right - and the junk-science that the plumber (a) was spouting (we think that he's pretty useless and rude to boot) was absolute rubbish.

Anyway - it'll be nice to have the underfloor - small victories!!

From the bedroom end

Kitchen window

BBQ end

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

House in Webb street, St Albans

Check out this house - this is the house that we lived in in Merivale. I've always said that if I could ever afford it I'd buy it back again. I understand that its been subdivided since.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Its our anniversary today :-) and its been a pretty nice day. We went out to try out a horse that is for sale, which went pretty well, then out to the farm - rode Lad a bit, attached the big water pipe for the house water to the pump, and shortly we're going out for dinner at Pedro's, a Spanish restaurant. House is still progressing very slowly.
  • bricks are about 85% on - there's still some big chunks to do but they should get it finished next week
  • solar is partly on
  • some more plumbing has happened such as the cylinder is now in the roof, the standard bath is in... And I am so glad that I tested the one that's going in the ensuite because the main bath looks like the one in our rental place which is tiny - even smaller than the one we had at Aranui.
  • we had a walk-through with the electrician last Wednesday and he seems like a good guy so hopefully there will be one area that we don't have to worry about. saved us a bit of cash too - we were going to have these fancy copper sticky-out lights around the house on the BBQ side but he pointed out that the french doors would swing into them so we're going for much cheaper adjustable halogen down-lights in the surfeit.
We're still pretty unhappy with the building company though - they have again sent us an invoice before the things that are supposed to be done are done. For example all the doors should be in but we've no sign of the garage doors. The roof was supposed to have been on for the previous payment but the snow straps still are missing from the guttering. So lets hope that its doesn't snow though if they were to fall off because of this Fowlers would have to replace them. Its got to the point where Nick is going to call the Master Builders assoc or whatever they are, on Monday and get some clarifications. I do hope that we don't have to get the lawyers involved again. Anyway... If anything happens on the horse front I'll make an update. Next weekend we're hoping to have an SCA practice, all going well.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

WOW that last post was optimistic ! Everything is finally moved but its was a real ordeal. I made about four trips back and forth on the Tuesday, moving all of our clothes, food, DVDs/CDs etc to our new (temporary) location. That was pretty tiring but then all day Wednesday and Thursday was spent sorting, boxing lifting and shifting almost everything else. By the time we got back into town Thursday evening there was only the fridge left in the house, the freezer in the garage and plants in the glasshouse. We thought that the purchaser might buy the fridge but no-go on that one. He's going to give us some money for the left-over wood though - we have no use for it here and its easier to get a new lot when we make the final move.

Had some bad news over the last couple of days. My brother-in-law's father was killed in a light aircraft crash in Auckland. Its been in the news and everything but we hardly ever watch TV news and aren't getting papers here so I only knew because Kate rang me this morning. Its too soon to know what happened there. Also a friend of a friend in the US has died after a riding accident which make me remind everyone - please wear a helmet when you ride - they're light, keep the sun out of your eyes and your hair out of your face and may save your life.

Friday was a jammie day for me - I crashed on the couch all day watching TV and DVDs on the big screen. Saturday was lovely - hung out at Danni's watching everyone having their riding lessons with Ian who comes down from the North island. He's a really good teacher - Nick's booked three lessons and is taking Monday off for the last one. Today (Sunday) I finally got into the gym to work-out some of the knots all the lifting and hauling gave me (although Saturday began with a massage for me - so that helped a lot too). It felt really good and I am going to try to get one weekend session in every week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick post - mostly moved

We move tomorrow! I'm kind of sad at leaving our first home but at least we're going to a place that's going to be comfortable and warm. Moving has been an enormous task but is almost over now - just some basic furniture and the essentials and a few smallish things left in the workshop. At least we only have to move once, well there is the moving of stuff from the workshop to the house but that's measured in metres AND doesn't include the workshop stuff. We've had lots of help from friends - I'd especially like to thanks Bob, Al and Richard (who has lent us lots of trucks). By the next time I put photos up there will be bricks on the house, most of the windows are in and the roof is on.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spicy chocolate balls of pleasure

A quick post to RAVE about Valrhona's Xocopili bitter choc spice balls. Tess gave a bag of these to Nick for his birthday and they are absolutely amazing. As the name suggests they're not at all sweet, although I wouldn't call them bitter by any means. I found this description " These marble-shaped chocolate spice balls, are actually to be used in savory applications. They are made from 72% bitter chocolate and a special selection of spices to flavor sauces. This format of chocolate can lead to endless savory applications, limited only by the imagination of the chef! There are approximately 500 2 gram spice balls per 1 kilo bucket... cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, spices (paprika, curry, cardamon, Basque chili pepper), cocoa powder, salt, soy lecithin, vanilla" Just damned amazing. they say cook with them but we're eating them straight-up. P.S. I signed the lease on our temporary residence. Will send contact details closer to move date.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Accomodation mostly sorted

The move is going fairly well - I'd guess that we're about half-way there which is OK as we have until 24th and I'm taking most of that week off. I've got movers coming to do the valuable furniture and next weekend Nick will try to move the heavy workshop stuff. One wee problem is that the builders still have their stuff in the shed. This is actually a major problem as

  1. we can't put things where we want to because we have to leave them access, and
  2. they have access to the shed, which contains everything - well it will, so security is an issue.
Anyway Nick's going to push them into moving it all out asap.

We've finally bought a horse float. It was quite a big expense, but its only 4 years old and not heavily used. Turned out to be a couple that Nick had met on his overnight trek last month, and they had bought a horse of Danni (Turtle) so nice to have another connection. Its powder blue, hmmm. Anyway its been useful moving big things like the loom which hadn't fit in Richard's box truck which we've been borrowing for the moving.

I managed to get Tybalt booked into a cattery for the duration. Its on the way out to West Melton so that's handy, and it looks like we're sorted for accommodation too. We've just looked at a house in Edgeware which is available until mid-August so sounds pretty perfect. It is a bit more than we had hoped to be paying but fully furnished, central etc is probably worth it to be comfortable, off-street parking etc. Oh and it has home theatre and Sky --- yum. We can move in on the Tuesday and then take the Wednesday to do a final clean of the house and property before the settlement day of the Thursday so it all fits nicely.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Movin' on

Well, that's it, we're moving out now. After a couple of moves to stay in our place and rent it from the purchaser he changed his mind. We think that he probably found out that there are additional costs over the mortgage, like insurance etc. Last weekend we started the move properly - Nick borrowed a box truck from Richard and Rob and Jason came over and helped move heaps of stuff. My loom has been taken apart and is currently in the garage as it was too tall for the truck. Pretty much all of our books are in boxes and in the shed - which is now. My old loom room is covered in junk from out of the cupboards etc as is the spare room. Meanwhile we're looking for somewhere to stay for three - four months. I've looked on a couple of sites, and we've had a few, you can stay with us/mes but to be honest I'm not terribly comfortable about crashing with anyone for that length of time. And it could be longer too - mid-July's only the current estimate and its pretty dependent on lots of factors. We're still very busy with decisions about the new house. I've been seeing Chrissie at Alectra about the paint etc colours and that's almost sorted and we're seeing the lighting people tomorrow. Everything's firming up though and the house is looking great.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another Easter

Well, Easter has come and gone again, although unusually early this year. And of course Nick's birthday / baronial anniversary on the 23rd. The highlight of Easter for me was having our first SCA equestrian training day. We borrowed Suzie's (Nick's Mum) horses Sweet William (black) and Lovejoy (roan / grey) and Pixie/Louise/Jennifer brought her standardbred mare (whose name I forgot almost immediately) and Sam brought her mare Willow so with Lad we had five rideable horses and as Jenni joined us we had five riders. Which sounds ideal except that Pixie's mare was deeply in season and so Lad quickly had to be benched for the day (poor love). Also Lovejoy is young and silly and likes to buck so it ended up with Nick riding Lovejoy and me and Jenni sharing William (pictures are of us both on William - more pictures at Flickr). Not that we did a whole lot. Really the aim was to begin desensitising the horses to silly things like big sticks. Willow and William were just fine but Pixie's mare was very uncertain about the big bearded man with the big stick and took a bit of calming. After that Nick put up the five stands (space-saver tyre bases with a steel pole that will support the heads/ rings for the games) and we practised with the horses passing them close by, then clover-leafing around them in circles. Anyway all went pretty well and it was a good start. We're hoping to meet monthly for training and there may be other sessions to make stuff. The rest of Easter went OK. I was pretty tired the next day but on Sunday was up and out on the farm helping Nick plant more trees, grasses and some flax plants.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Actual plan

Here's the actual house plan. Now we're working on the landscaping.
This end is North aka the sunny side.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Well we've finally sold our house and just at the right time too really. It went unconditional yesterday and we have four weeks to settlement - which should be just a bit before we have to make the second big payment for the new house.

The guy who's bought it has suggested that we could rent it from him while ours is being finished which would be great, so long as he doesn't want too much. We'd still be stuck with the long trip our to West Melton so we'll have a look at our options - it might make more sense to move everything into the shed at the farm (which should be finished) and take a short-term flat of apartment or something similar.

They've not made a lot of progress on the house over the last couple of weeks but our manager Nick is leaving fro Australia and we've been moved onto a new guy, Dustin, who we met on Thursday evening. He seems pretty on the ball and is going to get in to some of the things that Nick wasn't confident were being handled, like the water heating situation with the solar and wet-back so we hope to see some real progress in the next couple of weeks and of course having just sold we'll be applying pressure to get things done asap.

Nick's off on a weekend trek with his Mum, hopefully next year I can go too so I'm just bumming around the house. Going out with Jenni tonight to see The Other Boleyn Girl. Might start a new gown for the (very late) Baronial Anniversary which isn't until next month (it should be the 23rd, Nick's birthday). If I'm going to do that I'd better go and get some linen to line it with.

Here's some pictures of the building:

From the end of the garage

The end of the building - our room and ensuite

From our bedroom end looking back up towards the dining / living rooms

The dining / kitchen end

Monday, March 10, 2008

House plans, well not quite

Just for reference, this is ALMOST what our house floor plan looks like.

We made changes to it ages ago but never got an up to date PDF - well I didn't anyway, maybe Nick has one. Anyway its going up pretty fast now and we're due to make our second payment - maybe tonight when i get home. It's pretty cool - you can wander around the rooms and get a feel for how big they are BUT you can walk through the walls still, which is to say that the framing is all up - next thing they put on the walls and roof. Then they can begin the interiors, and we can begin on the landscaping (not part of the build price unfortunately).

There's been progress on the shed debacle too. They came and poured a new floor in it and Nick seems to think that its OK. There are still a number of other issues for them to fix before we'll be paying them, but that was the toughest problem to fix. So hopefully we'll have a usable shed by the end of the month.

We're still waiting for fences - its hard when you're getting a friend to help. The two loaner mares went back last weekend as they hadn't gotten pregnant. A bit of a bummer. But there's still Lightning and Nick's talking about serving Zoe so we'd get another foal by her.

Jack's great - he just loves apples and will nuzzle you all over for them. Likes being brushed too apparently, but not so keen on being caught, or lead. But he learns quickly and all is going good in that respect.

I can't wait to be finally in the house and have everything sorted. Its been a long haul. We're under offer again and will find out next Monday whether it will go unconditional - crossing fingers.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Exercise is essential

More and more I'm coming to recognise how powerful exercise is with regards my energy levels and mood. By the end of last week I was pretty wacked - it was my first week back after a 2 and a half week absence and I had a bit to catch up with plus all of the webstock learning to follow up on so I'd done a fairly intensive week. So I was looking forward to the 1 hour massage that I had booked. I have one of these a month and while they don't always make me feel better immediately they do help with the tightness that I get from sitting at a PC all day, all week. Anyway, I had my massage and she did some fairly deep work which felt great, but, as often happens, I felt quite spent afterwards and by the time I got home I was knackered. I did hardly anything on Sunday and when Nick said that he wasn't going to Kung Fu on Monday I was not unhappy to skip gym. I pushed myself along to a combat class on Tuesday, thinking that if it all got too much I could always leave early. It was tough - very hot and sweaty but I made it through, even though i went pretty light towards the end. But here's the thing - I didn't feel tired the next day - in fact I felt better than i had for days and this has continued to today (Friday). Now with chronic fatigue this kind of thing is not only counter intuitive, but even counter symptomatic. However studies have shown that the ONLY successful treatment includes small (but increasing) amounts of gentle (but again increasing) amounts of exercise. I had been meaning to write about the exercise effect earlier but was prompted by Russell Brown's blog post about the recently reported study showing that anti-depressants were no more effective than a placebo. The bit that caught me was this: "It did not say the drugs don't work. It did find that other ways of treating depression -- including a therapy as simple as increased exercise -- may be just as good as treatment with SSRIs for many patients." Very interesting stuff about the effectiveness of anti-depressants. Even before this recent report I had decided to reduce my drug level, partly because it stops me from being able to have a drink i.e. alcohol. So far I haven't noticed any difference so hopefully this continues.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Well Webstock's over and done for another year and it was fab but exhausting. I'm still digesting all of the great stuff, reading over my written notes and blogs on the libraries' bibliofile blog. There're heaps of blogs etc out there about webstock so i'll let you investigate them yourself - or check out the Webstock site itself. Webstock blogging at Technorati.

As advertised there were kick-ass speakers. I actually enjoyed Simon Willison the most for his ability to get pretty technical information (unobtrusive javascript, javascript libraries, Django and openID) over clearly in a short amount of time AND make it sound possible for a micro-geek (like me i.e. someone only partly geeky) to get it.

And there was some great stuff - first of all the bag rocked. And one of displays, an outfit called VERB down in Timaru, were giving away very cute robot toys.

I bought some neat stuff on the Thursday evening when they had Craft 2.0 during the cocktails. I bought badges from supervery and lusted after artwork by Sam Broad (check out this guy's moustache) and toys and art by Minu.

More loot:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Webstock workshops

Well I'm half way through the last of the webstock workshops so here's a quick run down before the onslaught of the conference proper. p.s. I'm also blogging this more professionally on the Christchurch City Libraries' Bibliofile blog. Shawn Henry: Web for all. This was great although I didn't learn much that i didn't already know BUT I think that it was a real wake-up call to start doing some proper analysis and user testing of our site and properties. It was also good to hear more about the WAI new draft - that's the Web Accessibility Initiative standards. Simone Willison: Jazz up your JavaScript - half about unobtrusive javascript: I now know what that actually means whereas the session I went to in 06 didn't really make that clear. And the other half of this talk was about sing Javascript libraries, which I had heard of but hadn't yet investigated. Given my lack of experience with JS they could be quite useful for us. Certainly worth further investigation (if I get time). Kelly Goto: this was all day yesterday and vey intensive, maybe a bit rushed. Great stuff tough and lots of exercises where the first two were more lecture-style. Very much about using usability testing in a iterative design process. I think that this would be a great way for us to look at developing things as we rarely are given the time to develop something to the nth degree. This process is about beta launching with a few key features, doing user testing, then refining and launching further features and/or refinements / fixes. Peter Morville: information architecture 3.0. Another all-dayer, and I'm only half way through. Again I seem to be familiar with most of the things being discussed which is a relief as it was pegged as intermediate/advanced. Maybe the advanced is after lunch. Very interesting discussions though, about usability, findability etc, tagging vs navigation, where search is taking us etc. I am getting tired. We had a lovely dinner last night in town and then tonight with Matt and Michelle. Its tempting to join the hordes swigging down the coffee but then I know that I won't sleep and then I'll be even more tired. Ah well I can sleep in on Sunday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Flying post

Well I promised that I'd blog from webstock 08 and here I am. I'm pretty tired because Wellington shouted me to a thunderstorm last night. I can't help but wonder if it was the same storm that rained on us at Canterbury Faire last week but I doubt it. Anyway before i talk about webstock I want to say - I flew a plane on Saturday, and took off and landed it too. It was really fun. Although I think that I'd enjoy it more once I relaxed a bit. It was just a wee Piper Cherokee - engine about the size of a lawn-mower and seats for two people of moderate girth. We tootled off the Wigram airfield and over the hill to Lyttelton harbour where I practised a couple of turns - then off up the harbour to come around the point and then back into town. Around Cathedral square a couple of times and then finally back to Wigram - 1/2 hour all up. About twenty minutes into it I realised that if I stopped trying to correct all the time it would just fly straight and level by itself. Anyway now I have to decide whether to continue on and do my PPL (private pilot's license). If I do then I can eventually hire a plane and fly us down for trips like to Queenstown etc. However its not cheap - costs a bit over 12 thousand all up, and would probably take me two years. I could get quite a lot of horse for that. But it was really fun to do and now at least I can say that I've given it a go. Once I'm back home and things have settled down I'll see how I feel about it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Canterbury Faire 13

Apparently this was number 13 and it certainly felt that way. For a start its been very dry so a total fire ban was in place. This included gas BBQs which were restricted to a single concreted area down the arse-end of the camp-site. There are actually two of these but the other one is used by the Mangy Mongol which was generously allowing people to use their BBQ but that's not much use to us as we actually cook on our stuff - not just flinging the odd steak or sausage at it. So any way we were stuck a long way from anywhere, except from the horse paddock which was right over the back fence. The other problem was that the communication of the event was very poor. There was no booklet this year and the only places that you could find out what Arts and Sciences events were on was at the Mong (other end of campsite) or at the hall (up the hill) both of which were a significant hike for me. As a result I didn't get to much. They were supposed to ring a bell every hour but we only actually heard that on the first day and then very irregularly. Although remarkably most things seemed to run to time - at least when the timing was reasonable. So the first couple of days were pretty rotten for me. Nick was busy doing the things that he wanted to do and was very little help around the campsite. I missed the equestrian because I was at the only A&S class that I managed to get to and by the time that I got down to the field it was all over - although there was only one horse anyway. By Sunday I was beginning to feel better rested, just in time for it to pour with rain all day Monday. Now there's another thing - for the first time ever we didn't have plastic groundsheets under the hessian and rugs so of course all our rugs got soaked through. Tuesday was nice enough but then it was all over. Its going to be longer next year - a whole week with set-up and take-down days with no actual event business which will mean that we can get up into mundanes, have breakfast and break camp instead of waiting around in garb for closing court which is always later and longer than advertised. I didn't take many photos but there's a good one of Sigurd at court and some of Rosa in her sari. Sinech wore a great get-up for the feast but I didn't have a camera. I got Catalina to take a photo so I'll try to get a copy of it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mind-body illness

I may have mentioned that I've always felt that my chronic fatigue was initiated by the stress of my mother's death and the events around that. Well my sister Lu put me onto an author Brian Broom who explored mind-body connections in physical illness. As luck would have it he has just published a new book (Meaning-full Disease) which our library got in so I put a hold on that and read it over Christmas. It was very interesting, both in the anecdotes illustrating the central thesis of "somatic illness", and in the broader themes of how our mental state has physical effects and vice versa. By the end of the book it gets quite philosophical too which is interesting, asking questions about human nature etc. ... Anyway ... I decided that it was time that I followed up my gut instinct and tried to do something about treating the 'meaning' behind my fatigue. G.P.s just want to put you on drugs, and in fact every specialisation just deals with their thing but no one seems to be able to propose any 'whole person' strategies. I was thinking that I'd have to try out a few places to find the right person but I thought that I'd look up Dr Broom online - as luck would have it he actually works in Christchurch (for some reason I thought he was in Auckland), working at a place called Arahura Health Centre so once I'm back in Chch for a bit (Canterbury Faire and WebStock coming up), I'll see if I can get an appointment. p.s. My flying lesson is booked for the Saturday between Canterbury Faire and WebStock - so lots of excitement coming up.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

House offer #2

With the general house market dropping and our buyers in Rakaia fading out we've dropped our price by $10,000 and have already scored a new offer. We'll still be walking away with more than we need to finish the house and maybe enough to build the stables too so that's OK. Anyway this new offer is conditional on finance so could still fall through but at least its something. This was a family that we showed through ourselves last week - they drove by and we're peering up the drive so we figure we might as well show them through. There's been a couple like that and in fact we've seen at least as much interest through the Christmas break as before it. We think that its a myth that nothing happens then - after all that's when people have time to go looking. Anyway - fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shed woes

Well its official, we're cursed. We (meaning Nick really) have been having a terrible time with the TotalSpan shed that we have had put up. They really messed up the slab big time - not only is it not in line with the fence, but its not square or level. The not being level is a huge problem as it varies by over 25mm and there is no easy way to fix it. If its not fixed it will make the use of the workshop a problem as Nick won't be able to do the work that he wanted to in it like laying out large panels for gates, trailers etc. Other issues include using scratched panels (some marked cover-panel), not putting in screws and support brackets in the required spots and panels that overlap on an angle (probably because of the floor not being level). They are supposedly going to come in and fix those problems - well they had better do because Nick's adamant that we're not paying them a cent until he's satisfied. Its really disappointing as we should have been able to move the workshop in there by now. As it is its taken them weeks to come and look and admit that there's stuff to be fixed and it will probably take weeks to fix.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

If coos could fly

One of Nick's big projects for the holiday break was finishing the gates for the stock yards so that we could drench the cattle and then the two bigger ones are ready to go. This got pretty much done - the gates are on and just awaiting the latches and as fate would have it we got to use it earlier than anticipated.

Yesterday (being Tuesday and Nick and I back at work) when Nick rang to tell me when he'd pick me up he said that he wanted to pop out to West Melton to check that Jack hadn't escaped (which he has done a couple of times) because if he had he'd be without water and it has been quite hot and dry. So we trot out there and yes he had managed to duck under the second electric fence tape and galloped back to have a suck at Mum when we opened the fence up. Nick checked the fence tape and there was practically no charge at all so we began looking for a short.

We'd covered most of the fence line and found nothing - Nick said that it wouldn't be the coos' fence because he'd turned theirs off but I wandered over there as I often do just to say hello and check on them. As I got close I noticed that Ardbeg's head was quite low and he wasn't moving much whereas he's often the most active. As I got closer I saw a glint of something by his ear - but maybe it was water. Suddenly I saw that he had wire wrapped all around his back leg and over a horn. Poor thing looked quite dejected.

I called out to Nick and we quickly prepared the yards - ran a line of tape between the paddock gate and the corner of the yards and Nick began enticing them in with meadow hay. This took quite some time as they're not used to following us. Once in the central paddock we started to push them towards the yards when Riley (sneaky wee thing) slipped under the tape and ran off to the mares - but that was OK as he wasn't the one we really wanted. Finally we got Laphroigh and Ardbeg into the yards. Getting them into the vetting race took a bit longer. Laphroigh went first and this allowed us to drench him. Then we got Ardbeg in. He really panics and the wire can't of been helping. At a couple of times he tried to leap over the gate which was pretty scary and impressive. Finally Nick was able to cut all the bits of wire away and drench him and we could release him back into the paddock.

Anyway, no one got hurt - the wire hadn't cut into him at all and we then found where it had come from and cleared it all up. Also they both have very impressive horns :-)

Actually we had used the yards last weekend for washing Zoe and getting Jack more used to us - he lets us touch him now but he also needs drenching and its about time he got halter-broke I think - it will make him much easier to handle.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Christmas 07

Well Christmas has been and gone and it was a really nice relaxed one. Normally we see Nick's Dad on Christmas eve but this year it was the day before and that was really good. Nick and I were able to spend Christmas eve just the two of us and went out to West Melton with a picnic and had dinner with our fur family. Christmas morning I got up at a reasonable hour and bagelled - I think that we got away from here about 10:30 so we were running pretty much on schedule. I hadn't been to Lu's new flat before which caused a bit of headache finding it, then parking with a trailer on the back as we were providing tables and china as well. In retrospect it would have been easier to have the whole thing here. But next year hopefully. I got some great presents:
  • Easily the top of the list is Nick's present: a training flight with a local flight school. You get to do as much of the actual flying as you want - naturally i want to do it all. More on this later folks.
  • Kate and Abagail gave me a castle shaped cake mold. Very cool - I made Nigella Lawson's orange and chocolate cake in it for Abs' birthday picnic on the 31st Dec and it came out great.
  • Lu gave me/us a translation of a 15th century Portuguese King's equestrian manual which i have had on my Amazon wishlist for some time. I haven't had time to read it yet as I have lots of books out of the library for the break.
  • Dad and Pamela gave me a battery powered milk whisk for making the frothy milk for cappuccinos - I've already used it once and it works great. I'll even be able to take it to Canterbury Faire.
  • And there were other goodies - a bit of chocolate of course, yum yum
  • Oh and someone gave me a cold - the same one that Nick's only just shaking after about 8 weeks. Which means I'll probably still have it at Canterbury Faire.
Anyway its mostly good. I've also decided to start taking one day to work at home a week as soon as possible. Partly because its the only way I get the space to do any proper development / project work done. Too many distractions a work.