Close encounters

Posted in Animals, New Zealand on February 22nd, 2015 by Coffee

It was pretty clear at about 8:15 this morning that if we didn’t get out of the house soon we’d be lucky to end the day with as many residents as we started out with, so an emergency plan was hatched to go visit Willowbank wildlife reserve.

I think for all of us it was our first visit to Willowbank, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Wriggles seemed quite interested in seeing all the animals. Although she was quite keen to find the kiwi from the start as Dad had told her on the way in that there were kiwi’s. So as you can imagine we heard the question “we going to see a kiwi soon?” quite a lot. She was also quite quick to tell us when we needed to move on to see something else.

The bush walk through the park to see the animals and birds is really quite nice through the little winding paths. I think it helped a lot that it was a pretty drizzly and coolish day so there weren’t too many people around.

And the kids did really seem to like the close encounters with the wildlife. Wriggles was a lot braver with the ducks than she’s ever been.


And I think the little man would have happily sat there while the cow casually licked him to pieces!


We decided that instead of buying a one visit pass we would opt for the annual pass so we can go as many times as we like. On days like today I think it might get used a fair bit… The problem will be just remembering that we have it.

Snow: 2012 Style

Posted in Animals, House, New Zealand on June 8th, 2012 by Coffee

Slightly earlier than last year, we did indeed get a dump of snow this week. Quite a dump! When we woke up on Wednesday morning it had already started to settle, and it just kept on snowing all day, getting heavier and heavier and heavier.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen flakes as big. They were massive! And with no wind they just drifted down majestically, piling up ever higher. By the end of the day I think we had about 7 inches as a standard covering, with a bit more in small drifts. More than enough to turn everything white and pretty!

There was so much piling up that I thought it wise to go and sweep off the tunnel-house a few times during the day, just to lighten the load a bit. And even the netting over the chicken’s run was slowly collecting a fair bit of snow and starting to sag somewhat, so that got a few rounds of banging too.

The normally nosey chickens were nowhere to be seen while all this was going on. I don’t think they emerged from their little house at all on Wednesday, and only came out very late yesterday. I did take pity on them and take some food and unfrozen water out to them to have inside. They better not get used to such butler service though!

The snow also apparently settled right on top of all the trees sitting next to power lines. Enough to take out trees, and therefore the power. For us we were without any juice for just the 22 hours. Gulp! Luckily the house stayed warm enough, and we were smart enough to cook dinner before the light faded (on the gas stove – love gas even more now!). And even more luckily we weren’t one of the poor guys that still didn’t have any last night either.

But the day was clear and bright yesterday, so the sun warmed the house in the morning, as well as making everything look very pretty. As only snow can do.

As usual the kitties went through several phases of going completely loopy trying to catch flakes or roll themselves small snowballs to bat around, then a bit of chasing each other around, followed by some chilling and warming action. They’re so funny to watch. But Fidget was also really cute wandering up and down the tyre tracks, freezing fog slowly rising behind him, like some sort of Siberian mountain cat.

As I type this up at midday Friday, we’re still surrounded by it all, but it’s starting to look a bit soft in places. But it did have a bit of a slow start as it got bloody cold last night. I’m just glad we had power and heating for that one!

It did! It did snow!

Posted in New Zealand, Rants And Rambles on July 26th, 2011 by Coffee

We were promised it, and unlike most of the forecasters in the UK they managed to get it right! We did indeed get a fair bit of snow over the last day or so. About 15cm over most things. More than enough to have a lot of fun with!

We spent an hour or so out there making Rusty the snowman. (If you want to know why it was called Rusty, ask Bec sometime!) The kitties tried to help, but chasing snowflakes was more fun.

But there were many other pretty things around the place, but taking photos with frozen fingers in a blizzard where there’s not too much light is not a fun job, so you get nothing. Sorry!

It’s now the second time I’ve seen the plot here covered in snow. When I raced back in 2006 to first look at it I met the estate agent out here and it was totally covered then too. Can’t remember how deep it was then, but I’m pretty sure this was deeper. Way more fun this time though!

An unexpected visitor

Posted in House, New Zealand, Plants and Gardens, Rants And Rambles on May 6th, 2011 by Coffee

Late this afternoon we were getting in a bit of snooker practice when I noticed a bit of flitting around in the temporary nursery that has been set up in the courtyard until we decide what to do with both it and the plants. A focussed look revealed a fantail jumping all around the tree that’s there!

This grainy photo’s all we managed to get as it was pretty dark and horrid, but it is proof.

I’ve no idea where it came from or went to. We’re pretty much in an empty paddock except for the house. But I’m stoked that it came and said hi, even if it doesn’t come back for a while. But I hope it does! We might have to have more trees in the courtyard than I thought if that’s what they’ll bring in.

We keep trying to get a decent photo of all the swallows that seem to have made the house a regular venue for a snack, where they come and hover just under the eaves and pick off insects. But they’re just so fast that getting a decent picture is a bit difficult.

This is the best I’ve managed so far:

Reminds me a lot of Top Gun, for some reason! And they certainly fly pretty close and fast to both the house and us when we’re working.

Getting to know the locals

Posted in New Zealand, Rants And Rambles on April 27th, 2011 by Coffee

Regular readers will no doubt recall the earlier forays into bird watching at Mum’s place. Since we’ve been out here all day for a few days I’ve really noticed the different bird life we have around here on the plains. Magpies, hawks, sky-larks etc all pop around for a visit during the day, and as we’ve spent more and more time out working around the house they seem to get more and more used to us and come a bit closer now and then.

If I could only workout how to take a photo while I’ve also got my hands full of rake or spade I’d have some great photos! But the best I’ve got so far is of this little cheeky chap who was standing on the flowers having a bit of a peck around.

Just have to work out what it is! I suspect a Birds of New Zealand book for the library is probably well overdue.

Playing away

Posted in New Zealand on March 17th, 2011 by Coffee

What better way to while away a couple of hours before having to get dolled up to go to a wedding than to have a quick round of mini-putt with M&M and their kids!

Gold Diggers Mini Golf in Alexandra was the lucky venue. But we were really lucky to manage a round, as we just managed to catch the lovely owners before they rushed off to have a sore hand seen to… We hope it turned out ok for them!

So we had the place to ourselves, which made it a lovely relaxing round, with the added benefit that Dylan could race ahead as fast as he liked, while Ben could take as long as he liked!

Ended up being hard to drag ourselves away from the quiet and sun to get ready for the wedding!

I guess we should keep up the ratings bit too:
Course Difficulty: Average. Nothing too tricky, but a few holes requiring a bit of concentration.
Course State: Average to good. A bit of the felt was starting to look a bit shabby, but it played well enough. Clear of debris too.
Price: Good Value
Playing company: High class, with added entertainment value.

Lunching with Ladies in Lyttleton

Posted in New Zealand on February 16th, 2011 by Coffee

Deciding we better start to make the best of the rest of summer, and the “days off” when we’ve little else scheduled in, we scheduled in a lunch with Emma in Lyttleton. And a lovely lunch it was too, on another stunning summers day! Thanks Emma!

It was also our first real visit to Lyttleton. (The last time was when we were test driving a car, where we went around the roundabout at the end of the tunnel and straight back into town). A pretty cool place it was too. A really different feel to the place than the bigger neighbour over the hill. We might well have to try a few more cafes and bars there.

Before that, when we were trying to find a park that wasn’t a 60 minute one we ended up way up the hill at a lookout where we had a birds eye view of the port action. A cruise ship and a container ship both loading and unloading their respective cargoes. Buses for one, and the strange but cool little vehicles that move the containers around for the other. We didn’t have too much time to stare then, but after lunch we wandered back up the hill to the better viewing spot and sat and stared for a while more. We decided that the Star Wars Imperial Walkers are based on the little carriers.

We could have sat and watched for hours, but we were getting a bit sunburnt by this stage, so we decided that we can go back any time we like (at the moment at least) and stare a bit more. Notice the “we’ll” there. I think Bec was more interested and excited by it than I was! But then it does have some special meaning for us, as it’ll be where our stuff gets unloaded, assuming it makes it this far! We’ll just have to work out where the website is that’ll tell us when all the interesting ships are in. If we can get a coal, timber, and container ship in at the same time, that would be fantastic!

A very last minute call (so late that we had to go around the roundabout one-and-a-half times) had us take the curly scenic route back along the coast to Governors Bay, where we had to drop in to the pub there for a quick refreshment in the garden bar before coming back over the hill.

A really enjoyable day out!

Finally we get to see some Gib!

Posted in House, New Zealand on February 1st, 2011 by Coffee

We cruised back up from Alexandra, taking the Inland Scenic Route today. And yes, it was a bit more scenic than the boring drive down the semi-coastal route. Lots more trees, and some little bridges and towns etc. All quite nice on a nice day like today. But it’s still a big long drive. Next time we really have to take more in the way of CDs and drinks.

But the main reason for taking that route is that it circles around and takes us more directly to the house where we could check that they had, indeed, started the Gibbing. And we weren’t disappointed. (Though we were disappointed in the photos we took, so you might have to wait a bit longer for some good ones…)

It certainly gives the place a different feel not being able to stare through the wall skeletons. And not being able to see the hidden bits of all the sliding doors so you really see the actual size of the doors and the walls help in seeing the real shape of things.

There’s still a lot of work to be done though. All the corners and finishing, a few holey bits here and there, and a few more wires to locate behind the walls and pull through (including all the lights)… We assume they have a list, but I think we’ll need to make one ourselves, or it’s going to be far too easy to forget one until a lot later once it’s all painted.

And I have to say after 5 hours of travelling the shower space is starting to look pretty good! Pity the hot water’s not on yet!

Oh, and the plants seem to have managed to survive our inattention for a bit, even though they’ve not grown all that much. We’ll see if we can get them back up to speed again.

I’m going for a ‘Jimmy’s’

Posted in Food and Drink, New Zealand on January 28th, 2011 by Bec

A trip from Dunedin to Alex, or vice versa just wouldn’t be the same without a stop at the little ole pie shop! On our last journey we travelled through on a Saturday and were quite disappointed when it wasn’t open. Calling it a little ole pie shop probably still works, but it’s actually a lot bigger than it used to be and they have a much wider range of pies. Yes that’s right pies, pies and more pies!

It’s well worth the stop for a taste of that flaky pastry and delicious filling that you choose. And it was obviously on the minds of the motorists travelling on either side of us, as when we all arrived in Roxburgh we all stopped at the ‘Jimmy’s’ shop. For those of you that have had a ‘Jimmy’s’ pie they are still as good as I remember! And for those of you that haven’t, well if you like pies you should add it to your must do list when you visit!

Jimmy’s pies = yummy!

(And no, we are not being paid for this advertisement!)

Got bored of waiting for action, so we went to the beach…

Posted in New Zealand on January 27th, 2011 by Coffee

And a lovely walk on the beach it was too. Although it was a very long way to go to visit the beach. All the way down to Dunedin in fact! Another trip around visiting other bits of respective families seemed a bit overdue, so we loaded up the car and headed off the other day after taking the plastering pics. And have been having a great time so far.

We’d forgotten just how hard it is to walk on deep sand and dunes. I’m sure my toes all turned completely upright. Not a natural feeling at all. But I have to say I think the St Kilda lifeguards were being a bit lazy. The flag’s you’re meant to swim between were placed about 5 meters apart. Mind you, swimming at Dunedin beaches is really only for the super brave anyway. It’s a pity that the water’s not about 10 degrees warmer to make the most of all the beautiful sand!

But apparently now they’ve finally started to install the Gib. I guess we’ll see if that’s actually the case when we decide to return!