Saturday, March 31, 2007

Counting down to Easter

Phew, another week passes in a flash. Now it's only a four day countdown until the Easter long weekend. Can't wait to step off the executive grind for a few days and seek out some warm weather up on the East Coast.

We're off to Hawkes Bay for some r&r with hop along in tow. Naomi is joining us to see the sights and chill out at the vineyards.

We must be getting old as we're returning to the same place we stayed last Easter which is a cottage in a beautiful location at Cape South. .

It's been a funny week with the weather - heatwave and autumn in Wellington and extreme storms up in Northland that have caused huge flooding in the Bay of Island. Not what you need just prior to the holiday weekend. Hopefully it will continue to stay fine long enough for us to get the foundations cemented in on the house.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not remote enough

Seems that the failures of the new BBC Castaway programme are making the news here in NZ.

Based in Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland it is certainly a long way from England but I wouldn't necessarily class it as remote. Certainly not like the first Castaway Island in the Hebrides.

It seems that the 120 strong film crew are making the most of the local amenities and mixing with toursists and locals.

As a closet fan of the first series, especially Ben Fogle, I think its a total cop out by the BBC. You'd expect better standards of broadcasting but seems they've let them slip to appeal to the popularity of other reality programmes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fastrack rush hour

Plenty to celebrate this week the the bypass opened in Wellington. After months of traffic congestion when they only opened one section going one direction they've finally opened the other.

Reportedly traffic is flowing much better in town and it can take at least 3 minutes off the journey to the airport! Still, it will come in handy for when I do my first official visitor airport run in December when my parents arrive to see us.

I can't take conversations about rush hour seriously here in Wellington. Generally speaking the rush is only to the coupon parking (only $4 for the day) and unless you keep milkman hours you're unlikely to get those spots. Otherwise you may have to wait at a few traffic lights or perhaps a pedestrian crossing.

OK when it rains it does get busier on the roads, no doubt about that, but when you're commuting time is less than 15 minutes it's hardly anything to get too stressed about.

As all things in NZ you get used to the smaller scale. And after all, small is beautiful too!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Slow progress on the domestic front

The ground works contractors left site on Tuesday this week leaving the site pretty much as it was when we saw it last weekend. Except this time the mud has been baked and cracked in the sun.

It feels frustrating for there to be no more progress whilst the sun has been shining this last week. The big job in the next week is to peg out the house site before the foundation piles are driven into the ground. The latter is not being done to the following week so we'll have to patient and adjust to kiwi time again for the next weekend's visit.

Still, its a beautiful part of the world and not a bad place to just soak up the view. Which is about all we could do today. Oh yes, and admire the drying mud!

See what a difference the sun can make!

A beautiful view to admire!

I keep thinking if I look harder I'll see something new that's been done!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Countdown now at 23 weeks

Crikey how time flies. Last time I blogged about the countdown it was 30 weeks to go until the end of my contract at work. Now the last 7 weeks have passed in a flash.

I apologise that blog has been dominated by house stuff and the interesting side of New Zealand had disappeared, I'll try harder in the coming weeks to give you more insight into kiwi life.

The last seven weeks have been frankly too much work and not enough play. It seems that NZ Government has woken up earlier this year and it's been full on in the office, probably not helped by having my chief media advisor off for almost four weeks. Also, work related, I'm five weeks into one coaching course and two weeks into another so that's keeping me busy with reading, homework and being attached to the telephone for classes or coaching clients.

But at least the sun has been shining most of this time and the house developments have been fun to think about and watch. With only a couple of weeks to Easter I need to start thinking really hard about the domestic executive ambitions as I said I would declare my hand on my contract at Easter.

Just to reassure you, I'll not be signing onto a permenant contract. That is definite. I'm still focused on coaching and consulting in between getting the garden up and running, not to mention the menagerie of animals.

So, time flies and that's the way I like it. By the time my executive contract time is over I'll be ready for a new challenge of a domestic kind.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

At last domestic footie in NZ

After much speculation, trials and tribulations professional soccer is coming to Wellington. They will be competing in the Australian A-League replacing the defunct New Zealand Knights FC who played out of Auckland.

It was touch and go whether they'd win the franchise but after a rich Wellingtonian Terry Serepisos stuck his hand in his pocket and put up the dosh we're now looking forward to a new home team to support.

MT is in heaven to think once again he can be a season ticket holder although I'm not sure how he'll tolerate the other footie mad followers. The Supporters Club has already announced itself as "Yellow Fever". Not quite the Barmy Army but am sure that it will shape up nicely as the name, colours and of course the players are announced over coming weeks.

Monday, March 19, 2007

There she blows: Mount Ruahpehu

No, this is not a picture of our building site but rather the remnants of a lahar that sent 1.4 million cubic metres of water, mud and volcanic material out of Mount Ruahpehu yesterday. This event has been predicted for many years with civil defence systems on stand by. By al accounts it was a spectacular event although now there is plenty of clearing up to do.

For more information, see

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The dark and light

If I could put these pictures side by side you'd be able to see the light and dark of NZ's microclimates in one place. Today it started wet, dark and miserable but by lunchtime the wind had started to blow the clouds away to leave a stunningly beautiful sunny day.

I don't think it had anything to do with the clock's changing, more of a southerly weather front travelling up the country. For those who want to make a call to us please remember we are 12 hours ahead of GMT after the clocks changed today. It will get complicated again when the UK clocks go forward for British Summer Time. Oh how confusing it all is but at least we only have one timezone to content with in this country unluck friends and family in US and Australia that have a continuous battled to synchronise the time.

The first residents on our land - Zzzzz

It didn't take long for us to start to introduce wildlife to our place in Kaitoke. Here are 12 hives of bees placed there by Al who is the husband of one of my work colleagues. With the large amout of Manuka amongst the bush on our land is ideal for the bees and makes a wonderful complement to the thistles also on site.

These hives are not quite the traditional design we were expecting but on closer (but not that close) inspection it is clear that the bees don't mind as they buzzied around doing their stuff. Can't wait for the first lot of honey from hives on our land.

Photoblogging: It's a mud bath

Wow, a new drive! Some solid ground to walk on (even if it is only the diggers
parking lot).

Hmm, not sure about this bit though - a quagmire of clay!

Drive and build platform, now clearly defined.

At least some of the garden is still intact.

Well a girl needs to keep here wellies clean.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's not really the weather for building

The indian summer we've been enjoying in New Zealand has come crashing to earth in the last couple of days with relentless rain and storms. MT went off to the badlands of Auckland yesterday and packed overnight requirements in case the gales forecast were too bad to return home.

Luckily the storms blew through Wellington earlier in the day but there was still plenty of stormy weather to be seen from the air. Here's a few pics to show what it was like.

The dark clouds have been dumping their rain on Kaitoke for two days now and I dread to think what this has done to the mud on the building site. Fingers crossed that it hasn't hampered progress too much. We'll see at the weekend.
It's getting decidedly autumnal when the sun isn't shining so I think we must start to accept that the winter is heading our way, well OK autumn at least!
Soon be time to stock up on the pantyhose!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I knew it was going to be messy

It was quite an adventure to visit the build site today to see how the ground works have been started. After I had got over the initial shock it was easy to feel excited that at last things were underway. We'll keep readers updated each week with progress as we make our weekly pilgrimage to our new home in Kaitoke.

Even before the builders have finished new residents are moving in. Bees in 12 hives courtesy of my friend from work Nadine and her husband Al who are building up their business to 200 hives. Hopefully you'll be able to see their new houses without any excavation by next week.

Photoblogging: the earth's moved for us (1)

I don't think you can ever prepare yourself for when builders start on site. But so far they've put their sign on the gate and after 2 days turned our beautiful green paddocks into a mass of earth. To say it was a shock is a bit of an understatement!

Yes, its official we have a building site in operation!And they've turned this ........

Into this.......

And no, it doesn't make any more sense looking at the plans!

Photoblogging: the earth's moved for us (2)

To achieve the amount of change on site, there's plenty of heavyweight machinery. You can guess who wanted to have a go don't you! Luckily the excavators took the keys away with them

The big digger that looks to be doing the most work.
The little roller that is for compacting the earth

Previous view from the gateway

Now it's a parking lot for diggers

What can I say!

Photoblogging: the earth's moved for us (3)

You'll remember the former residents..

And where they used to graze.

No more grass for them to feed on now!

View where cottage will eventually sit

When they've transformed this!

Photoblogging: the earth's moved for us (4)

View up the future drivewayView from the bottom of the garden through the area for orchard

Neat piles of top soil ready for the gardening

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Photoblogging: Kaitoke views

Since there are only so many times that you can hang around a gate it made sense for us to take to the lanes and enjoy the country around Kaitoke. We are surrounded by Regional Council forestry and recreational parks so there is no shortage of places to trek to. Here's a the views from a walk in 29 degrees sunshine!

MT guarding his new gate

Yours truly walking the boundaries (yes, the trees and native bushland are ours. The fences separates the top and bottom paddock areas)

Views down station lane towards Tunnel Gully area

Views back to the land from our walk

Photoblogging: tunnel gully

As you might expect in a place called Tunnel Gully that there would be a tunnel! Not to disappoint there is indeed the former railway Mangaroa Tunnel which you can walk through. It's pitch black, a little wet in the middle and takes courage to walk through it and stupidity to walk back. Nevertheless, this is what we did!
View going into the tunnel
View back through the tunnel

View coming back out the other side, along the former railway line.

Friday, March 02, 2007

30 weeks left on countdown

There's a lovely kiwi phrase which sums up how I feel this week. "I'm so over it....."

This covers off the results of about 3 months work to prepare for a senior management conference which was completely thrown out of the window due to a last minute rethink by our leader. It's been a tortuous process to get the planning and preparation done and having seen the signs of change brewing in the air I started to prepare myself for the inevitable last minute trials and tribulations.

Being "over it" places you in a space where it really doesn't matter any more. An emotional detachment that protects yourself from disappointment, anger and frustration that can otherwise just gnaw away at you and potentially send you into a spiral of despair.

Whether it's adopting the kiwi attitude or simply that I'm just older and wiser, the hystrionics have washed over me this week and I'm already moving on to something more interesting and more satisfying that thankfully does not involve anyone from the senior management team.

Sitting on the deck this evening enjoying the evening sun, a glass of wine and reflecting on the fact that at last the house project is underway was so much more fun. And, remembering that the countdown to being a domestic executive has only 30 weeks to go. For once in my life, I'm really hoping time does fly by!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A place fit for royalty

Today we took possession of our land in Kaitoke. With the final planning permission coming through yesterday it now means that we're ready to roll.

Some kiwis think that we're mad to be building so far from town. We like to think we're part of an exclusive community that sees the merits of country living. Also, there's plenty of benefits to be close to the city, close to the Wairarapa and centre of a beautiful piece of countryside.

Kaitoke has plenty of history too. In fact, it used to have a railway running through it and there were some royal visitors on 15 Jan 1954 who stopped off in Kaitoke on their way back from the Wairarapa to Wellington. There's a campaign and plan to redevelop this railway route - see the following link for more details.