There be pirates!

Posted in New Zealand on December 30th, 2010 by Coffee

Twas the day before Christmas, and another pearler it was too! So we decided to get out and get some sun, and also continue our tour of Christchurch mini-golf courses that we started some time ago.

Pirate’s Island was the day’s choice. And Bec’s Brother Mike the day’s company.

A fairly competitive round was had, with the regular golfer whipping our butts, with Bec whipping mine. Oh well. Next time!

A fun day out, but it seemed like it was over a bit quickly. I can maybe see why they were offering half price same-day second rounds… But it kept us busy for a bit, and got us out in the lovely sun.

And the ratings:
Course Difficulty: Easy. Only a single trickier hole. Most were par 2’s, so we whipped around it really.
Course State: Average. A bit of work needed, and the water that should have been surrounding holes and flowing down the waterfall was decidedly missing. Toilets were a bit icky too.
Price: Reasonable with a two-for-one voucher.
Playing company: High class.

Consensus is that the Ferrymead course is still ahead at the moment.

Going Batty

Posted in House on December 21st, 2010 by Coffee

I have to admit, it is quite a predictable, corny title for this post, but it was quite impressive to arrive out at the house early this afternoon to find the whole place was basically covered in pink batts. Well, pink and green batts. (The green are for noise reduction rather than insulation.)

And they’d apparently done it all in a day! Though to be fair there were quite a few of them around, apparently getting under all the builder’s feet.

I’m not quite sure how to feel about all the batts though. They hide most of our handiwork of the weekend! There are still a few cables that you can see, but the majority are now under/over/behind the bats. I hope we never have to dig them out!

And the Hebel cladding is now about 85% finished, but there’s no sign of the Linear going on yet. And until that stage they can’t get on and do the gibbing, although the gib board is all piled up in the lounge just waiting to go on the walls and ceiling.

I guess we’ll see if they can get it together enough to work over the break, or whether things will grind to a halt for the next couple of weeks.

Playing Cable-Monkey (Part Two)

Posted in House on December 19th, 2010 by Coffee

After yesterday’s blitz at pulling cables left, right, and centre (well, for the surround sound, at least!), all that was left to do today was to secure them all, and tidy things up generally.

Well, that would have been the case if I hadn’t decided that if we were going to do this we should do it properly. So a few more runs of network and speaker cable were required before we got to the tidying up stage. But we were now old hands at that, so that was relatively painless.

I think in the end we ran 46 different cables. Seemed like more at the time, but that sounds like more than enough really!

And of course it all went a lot more smoothly today as we’d ditched Jeff and his constant waffling, and just had Kelly helping us today. (That will tell us if Jeff reads the blog!)

And I have to say that Kelly’s looming is top class!

Bec’s tying up wasn’t too bad either, but listening to her blithering on about how the purple speaker cables went so nicely with the yellow cable ties I was almost wishing we had Jeff out with us after all!

So that’s the hard work done. Was it worth it? Well, as well as a great sense of satisfaction in embedding something of our own labour in the house, I’ve got:

  • a sore left leg from climbing onto a sawhorse for the last couple of days;
  • a sore right leg from jumping off a sawhorse for the last couple of days;
  • a slighty sore shoulder from hammering above my head all day;
  • a small headache from dehydration having sweated constantly for 2 days!;
  • and a bloody sore thumb from an errant hammer blow late this afternoon! Man does it hurt!

And Bec has:

  • one cut toe from wearing flip flops on a building site (she got no sympathy from me when I saw what she was wearing!), and;
  • a sore thumb from cutting it when cutting a cable tie!

I think I got the worst of it there! But on the whole, I still think it’s worth it! (Not to mention the cash it’s saved us in sparkie labour costs.)

Next job related to the cabling will be to terminate all these cables somewhere! Twice as many ends as cables, of course, but hopefully it won’t take twice as long! Guess we’ll weigh up whether to do that ourselves (no doubt with Kelly’s help) or not in a bit…

Playing Cable-Monkey (Part One)

Posted in House on December 18th, 2010 by Coffee

Today we got to do something real in the construction of the house. We got to play cable-monkeys! Yes, that’s right. We got to crawl around in the rafters on one of the hottest days this year pulling network and coax cable all over the place. And we seemed to pull a lot of cable through the house throughout the day! And let me tell you, jumping from truss to truss while you’ve got sweat dripping in your eyes is not a fun game!

The sparkies had done all the mains cabling on the right, and the white bits on the left, but all the coloured stuff in the middle was all our own work.

One of the more interesting bits was pulling a data cable through the conduit to the floor box. Fingers crossed all around that the tape would hold for the length of the conduit, which it managed to do!

Huge thanks to Kelly and Jeff who came and helped today. Although if we plug it all in and it doesn’t work, we know who we’ve got to blame! Just have to tidy the last bits up tomorrow, and write everything down so we know what’s what in a week!

A door to slam!

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on December 16th, 2010 by Coffee

Finally we’re able to slam an interior door when we need to let off a bit of steam!

Unfortunately it’s the door to a storage cupboard, so unless we also want to hide in there and sulk, it’s not going to be a very satisfactory exercise really. And the fact that as yet there are no walls on the cupboard so you can stare right in makes it not quite so much a case of hiding and sulking, but more being caged in like an angry gorilla!

But there were a lot of other doors being installed all over the place today too, including some of the the big sliders, so once again the place will look quite different next trip.

In garden related news, we had a look over the garden “fence” and what did we spot? I’ll tell you, shall I? It was a line of little-itty-bitty beetroot plants. I guess we managed to put together some sort of viable growing mix with our labours the other week. Whew!

And back in town, the leek and zucchini seeds have sprouted, and we’ll try to keep them alive long enough to get them big enough to plant out. Unlike the first batch of broccoli. Oops. Good job we had more seeds then!

HOW many workers?!

Posted in House on December 14th, 2010 by Coffee

After taking a long weekend off after last weeks physical exertion, we headed back out to get few things done. Pulling up the drive we were stunned by the number of vehicles parked around the place! Seemingly all the white vans in the district, as well as a truck dropping off a few bit of cladding.

We’d kind of got used to the relaxed feeling of the site with the builder and his couple of offsiders wandering around doing their stuff, but today the place was full of people! Everywhere you turned there was someone with a ladder, drill, hammer or screwdriver! There was some sparkies, some central heating guys, a building inspector, the guys doing the Hebel exterior cladding, and the builders. Plus us and the project manager wandering around getting in the way of everyone. I guess we now know how it might feel to have a party. (Although if there are any drills and screwdrivers around when we have a party, I might be a bit worried!)

But we muscled in a bit to talk about what we need to with the project manger, builder and sparky, then retreated to our little spot of garden to plant another few natives: a red and a white manuka, and a kaka-beak. Then by the time we’d given all the native trees and grasses a drink, and trimmed back a bit of the long grass with our new brush-cutter toy. (Ah, the sound of a 2-stroke cutter… Brings back many memories of Japan!)

And no, we won’t be doing the whole of the property like that. Especially after bending the 3 way blade on a random rock on the first day!

By the time we’d done all that, the cladding guys had made a huge start on the job. Everywhere we looked, there was cladding up.

On all sides of the house at once! I’ve no idea what their system is, but I’m sure they’ve got one!

More interesting (to me) was all the wires that they’d managed to run in a couple of days. There was a lot of wire hanging out all the walls and ceilings all of a sudden. I just hope we’ve got all the switches and plugs in the right place!

In the end we just left them to get on with it and finished up our gardening for the day by chucking in a few radish, leek and celery seeds, just to see what they’ll do! Then we ran away!

I wonder what it’ll all look like next time we’re there. At this rate it’ll be finished!

We wish!

A Scenic Interlude

Posted in Plants and Gardens on December 14th, 2010 by Coffee

On the way out to our bit of dirt there’s a line of cabbage trees beside one of the main roads. After driving past this quite a few times out of the corner of my eye I noticed a fairly well disguised sign that suggested it wasn’t just someone’s front fence-line, but something a bit more public. And for the last few trips we’ve been meaning to stop off and have a look, but either it’s been cold or raining, or we’ve been too gosh darn tired to bother. But today we remembered in time and slammed on the brakes and turned up the road to take a look.

Apparently it’s called Whites Road Reserve. Good luck finding out anything about it on the net! If you do, let me know!

But it’s a nice little wetland reserve, absolutely full of NZ natives, with a nice little path around the edge for a reasonably short stroll. I assume any dedicated Twitchers would recognise more of the waterfowl than I did!

From the gate I recommend starting by going to your right, past the open areas and flax bushes, and then coming back into the slightly denser area.

Which then leads into an almost lovely area for a picnic. Why almost? Well, remember how we worked out it was there by driving past? Work it out for yourself!

But I think we’ll be keeping this on our “tourist trail” list, as it’s a lovely spot, and shows what some of the little trees that we’ve planted will finally look like.

One day I might even try to find out more about what the hell it’s doing there!

Another busy day!

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on December 10th, 2010 by Coffee

It seems like we’ve had an early weekend. A second day in a row of back breaking work sifting stones and shifting dirt.

Today we managed to finish the four temporary garden plots. With the help of some pony-poo (Caleb’s to be precise – pocket money I guess for one of the local kids) and compost, and the sieve (which is still providing sterling service!). We even managed to get a few pebble paths between them! Only thing we could think of to do with the smaller pebbles!

In went the couple of butternut squash plants we’d picked up. No mucking around!

Then all the native trees and grasses we’d bought before the UK trip went in. And not before time for some of them! They were all roots and no soil left in the pots. But hopefully they’ll all take and we’ll have a nice little strip of natives behind the shed. Still need a lot, lot more to fill in the patch we sprayed, but it’s a start. And due to some of the weeds coming through looks like one of the chores next week will be to spray the patch again.

Good news too, I think, in that we’ve managed to get a ring of larger stones all around the water tank! Why? Who knows! But what else do you do with a whole bunch of stones. At least we know where they are if we want any. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll come up with some nice flowers or something to make things look prettier and hide the stones.

Spotting a theme here?! Yes, we have a few extra rocks and pebbles! Want some?!

Last gardening job was to wrap all the plots in some windbreak cloth and staple it all up. Hopefully, as well as the wind, it’ll keep any hares out. We’ll see! Haven’t seen any for a few days now, but the grass is pretty long, and they’re pretty good at hiding!

A quick last minute decision on the way out saw us drop some parsnip and beetroot seeds into one of the beds. I wasn’t allowed to plant any radishes this time! The other plots can wait for the broccoli, leek, and zucchini plants that will hopefully pop up. (Actually, the broccoli seeds have already sprouted, but we’re waiting for the others…)

And that was the day! For some reason it seems like this post suggests that we didn’t get through half the stuff we did yesterday, but I can assure you all of that took just as long as yesterday (actually a bit longer as I forgot to decant the coffee from the caffiterie to the thermos before I left, so there were no coffee breaks. DOH!) And both of our backs are suffering a bit from all the bending and digging. A day off that sort of labour tomorrow, I think. I just hope the promised rain keeps up all week to keep all the plants and seeds nicely lubricated!

A busy busy day…

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on December 9th, 2010 by Coffee

I think I’m a bit sunburnt. I’m certainly hot enough, and pink enough, to fit that description! But I think it’s been worth it. Maybe. I’ll tell you tomorrow!

In case you hadn’t worked it out yet, we headed out for another working day out at the ranch. On arrival our attention was split two ways. First up, the house had windows and doors! WOW! It really does look like a house! Secondly, the big orange ball on the water tank was still at the bottom. Gulp! Uh-oh! But which to focus on first! Luckily(ish) Bec had to cruise into town to do a few things there while I got on with some work, so it was up to her to go hassle the water guys and get that part sorted. Meanwhile I wandered around staring at the windows…

All looking pretty good to me, and even pretty clean!

And they even seem to be the right size and everything! I think there’ll be a “no backyard cricket” rule around some areas of the house though. Some of the panes are pretty bloody big!

Then the work began. First up: hammering. Thanks to the guys at the hardware store I didn’t have to do any sawing as well! But a few nails later I’d managed to put together four little garden plots for us to chuck a few plants in. As long as we have water! Which with a bit of twiddling of various valves the builder and I managed to work out we did have. Some at least. I think he was quite relieved. I could see his mind working overtime about how he was going to get a kettle’s worth of water for smoko otherwise! Immediate crisis averted, but still a bit nervous about the whole deal…

But onwards! Now we had somewhere to put some dirt, it was time to find some. Luckily there are a few piles of various sizes lying around from various bits of trench digging around the place. Cue use of the garden sieve that we made a long time ago which has been lurking around in the shed just waiting for its chance to shine.

And shine it did! It coped marvellously with all the boulders, rocks, stones, and pebbles that we have in every shovelful of dirt out there. And with not a saggy bottom in sight! The only thing better than that sieve would be another one with holes half the size to get the even smaller pebbles and chips out. But I think we’re fine leaving them in for now. I’m sure it helps with the free-draining aspect of soil we’re looking for. And besides, the location of these plots is temporary anyway, until we get water down to the proposed vege garden site.

Anyway, during all this Bec had arrived back, having managed to harangue the irrigation guys to come down to check out the water. Which they duly arrived to do. We left them to it while we met the new project manager trainee that is going to have to learn our little ways. And get used to Bec’s sense of humour! I’m sure he’ll get there eventually!

Finished with him. Back to the water, and a confused water guy. More scratching of heads, as everything looked like it was fine. A borrowed ladder later, and the issue was resolved. The tank was actually full, but the little orange float was stuck down, so it looked like it was empty. DOH! Oh well, at least we’ve got water!

So back to the sieving and dumping. Things were moving along a little faster with two of us, with one and half plots full of soil (but waiting for some compost or Caleb’s Pony-Poo to be added as well).

But then we had to pause to wander around the house with the sparky pointing out where we’d like all the switches and sockets. Took a lot longer than we thought it would! But I think we’ve managed to almost get that sorted. Still a few things that aren’t quite going to work like we thought they were due to trusses being in the wrong place etc., etc., but we’ll find a way around that. Hopefully!

A bit of last minute sieve action, a quick water of the trees, and then home for a fish ‘n’ chip dinner. All ready for an early night, ready to get up early tomorrow and do it all over again! Although tomorrow I think I might get the sunscreen on just a bit earlier, and/or wear the long sleeved shirt…

It appears what we have here is a failure to adhere to… Well, just to adhere in general!

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on December 7th, 2010 by Coffee

Yes, it seems like there was some sort of issue with some glue and a pipe not getting on too well, and sometime over the last few days there was a “catastrophic failure” of a joint and all the water went bye-bye. Apparently that might have been a sight to see, as it would have happened with some force!

Hopefully that will get fixed this week, and we can get on with all the things we wanted to do. But in the meantime we have a lot of very damp soil that’s perfect for planting in around the shed. And I guess all the other water will eventually seep back down to the bottom of the well so we can pump it back up (again).

In other news, the first 2 radishes popped their heads up yesterday, and we’ve got a few more today. Yippee!