Friday, November 30, 2007

Garden taking shape

There's been a constant hum of machinery at work this week as the landscaping got underway. The beds have been dug and top soil spread after gypsum goes down to help break down the clay. The lawn and herb garden are also being done.

With the resculpting going on we've been able to claw back some of the metal from the drive and spread it to start to fill the gap around the barn. Not wishing to be tight about these things but better to respread and save the money. We're going to need to to fill the beds with plants!

The flower beds are huge. You need a pack lunch and walking boots to get across them! Still it will keep my parents happy as we can spend hours at nurseries picking out the plants. Just need the planting plan from the landscape designer now.

Precious top soil saved from the original groundworks
Side view towards living room
Ginormous front bed ready for filling

Other side already filled!

Rear area getting ready for the lawn

Hmm, now what do we do! The hazards of rain collection drains.

More boys toys.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Country living

Phew back where a country mouse can feel more comfortable after two days hacking into town. Boy is life as a domestic executive much more appealing.

After doing my stint this week I'm all ready to down shift into a slower pace. I fear that this is unlikely to be possible given that we've got earth moving machinery on site and builders due to do snagging. Also, granite installers will be here to finish their work. Did I mention plumbers to site water pumps and filters, oh and put the kitchen taps in.

As if that wasn't enough excitement we will have two new residents to join us next week. Let's just say that they are not going to be easy to live with as they have a demanding diet, expect lots of attention and will not be terribly obedient until they've learned the house rules.

Watch out for the photoblogging this week – these flower beds have to be seen to be believed!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You need vision

Our landscape designer is taking no chances - he's carefully marked out the areas for landscaping and to avoid any doubt, he's labelled some areas clearly!

They are due to start this week laying the lawn and digging the flower beds. This will at least make the front of the house presentable for our visitors. It will be quite an operation to plant up, when the beds are marked out they are huge!

Next on the list of lanscaping priorities is the removal of the gorse which is a NZ blight and needs to be removed/destroyed to avoid it taking over the bush and rest of the landscape. Also, we need to reinstate the fencing as soon as possible to make it all basset proof.

We've been enjoying a heat wave this week - yesterday it was 30 degrees and last evening was very balmy. I just hope it's not summer already - of if it is that it lasts until our last visitor departs. Wishful thinking........

Friday, November 23, 2007

Domestic Footprint

One of the misnomers about New Zealand is the clean and green substance behind its image. We're trying to do our bit though with our solar water heating, sheep wool insulation, heat pump heating and rainwater capture. MT has eyes for a wind turbine too!

The thing that's most concerning me at the moment is our waste management. That's rubbish disposal in plain speak.

Being in a rural area we miss out on luxuries like a postman and also trash collection. The options are pretty limited with the only polite one is to take it all to the landfill. So we did.

It cost us $8 so you don't want to trundle up with just one bag of rubbish. You need to save up heaps so you get your money's worth. What upset me most about spending that $8 was grossness of it all.

As I stood over the pit where you drop stuff (and then they shovel it with a digger into the land) for the first time I came face to face with the wastefulness of human beings and the impact we're having on the environment. The guy in the next lane chucked in a home gym. What is all that about? A pile of metal and junk that will never decompose is now ensconced below the earth (or ready to be buried) for ever.

I felt sick – literally. Not because of the stench (because there wasn't any) but rather because I'd come face to face with the gross negligent behaviour over waste management. Did I feel any better throwing in piles of polystyrene packaging, paper, debris and other miscellaneous waste from my own house? Heck no. I felt rubbish (sorry about the pun) and haven't felt much better about it since.

So, we need to get organised with our own waste disposal system. We'll have an incinerator unit so we can burn stuff (it will be a metal bin with lid) and other receptacles for sorting the recycling. I'm on a mission to try and reduce our waste so that whatever we do have to send to landfill it's not going to have the same damaging impact as the guy who threw away his fitness promises into the pit.

Top tips:

  1. No more carrier bags from the supermarket – it's Pam's cloth bags for us
  2. No more black bags – it's the large brown paper sacks from now on
  3. No tomatoes, cakes and other foodstuffs packed in plastic boxes – loose and fancy free is best
  4. Shred and recycle everything paper (to feed it to the compost or recycle)
  5. Compost vegetable waste and other green matter
  6. No more home gym equipment – a run in the country is better for the lungs!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New additions

Part of the domestic executive plan was to get some home companions in the shape of Basset hounds. Well now were in it seemed prudent to start the search for our new additions to the household.

As luck would have it there were puppies born in the Coramandel on 16 November. Here they are 3 days old. We're hoping to be able to pick two of these little pups and bring them home in early 2008.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Unpacking over

I am so over the unpacking. We finally finished unpacking all the boxes. Also managed to get the guest bedroom unpacked too. A major relief I am sure for my parents arriving in 3 weeks time. Now I just need to sort out everything jammed in the cupboards and give them room to unpack their bags!

The barn is now functional - well almost. We're waiting for the power to be retrenched to reach it (you can see how far it's short). Then we'll be able to get the electrics in and doors open. Also it will mean we can resite the water pump and filter system.

Well, all the hording of stuff had to go somewhere!

I know - there a few packages lurking. These are pictures and mirrors etc which don't count as boxes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Commuting rural style

MT cuts a lonely figure at the commuting rush hour. Yes Maymourn station has the grand total of 4 commuting passengers. He takes great delight on an evening to be the only person getting off the train. It's quite something to be dictating that a loco with 5 carriages should grind to a halt so you can hop off!

The downside of this leisurely commuting is that there is only two trains in each direction a day.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friends and neighbours

Getting close to neighbours is difficult as there are none close by. Therefore we have to make do with our four and two legged neighbours and friends to visit us.

To be honest I'm a bit upset with the real neighbours and owners of 42-47, our friendly beef cattle who've moved them up to the paddock close to the road. It is for their own good, there wasn't much grass left in their field but I miss them staring at me through the fence!

I'm sure they'll be back in due course. Also Mr and Mrs Mallard that visit only when there are some puddles to wade in. Luckily the weather is superb at the moment (yes' over 20 degrees) so not sure we'll see them for a while.

Can you guess who's boss amongst this lot?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Him indoors

It should be said that life as a Domestic Executive would be dull without him indoors. Always there with a witty comment (not) as well as patience and understanding when the builders don't comply with our project plan (not).

But moving has really brought a smile to his face and he's taken to wearing his wellies (or gum boots as they're called here).

Some things don't change though - he's still wearing that sweatshirt in such a fetching colour.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Domestic routines

We've been all of a dither this week. Our domestic routine has gone to the dogs.

Getting to grips with MT commuting was simple - lift to dinky station and back again. Nothing hard about that. Getting two people to town, well that takes a bit more consideration. After two attempts we think we've worked it out - up 15 minutes earlier and leave the before the traffic builds up. Yes, we do have traffic jams here too!

With builders still coming and going it's hard to keep the domestic standards up but hopefully now the painters have finished inside that will be it for a while. Still waiting on the granite worksurfaces which is frustrating as we were hoping to have them in place this weekend. Cooking is possible but there is much toing and froing to the sink in the utility room which makes the whole experience of making a meal hard work.

Still, I'm looking out the window from Domestic Executive HQ and can see the cows lying down in the field chewing their cud with little care in the world. The view is still there every day and whilst we're still adjusting to the new routines it's not easy to get stressed when you're surrounded by the hills and nature at it's best.

Tomorrow there is high excitement, we're heading over the hill for our Saturday brunch and shopping expedition. Greytown here we come.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Houseblogging: 10 days on

Sorry it's taken so long to get back blogging. I could blame the technology but in this case it's simply been the operator who's been slightly preoccupied with getting things ship shape. 10 days on we're in and almost unpacked. Still lots to do and the builders and subbies are regular visitors but it feels marvellous to be settling in. Enjoy the great reveal!

Not quite ready for guests but almost!

Domestic Executive HQ

Remind you of anywhere - bedroom in a house in a small Oxfordshire village per chance!

Yes the shoes have moved in too!

Incomplete but nevertheless functioning kitchen.

Family room (aka football watching space)

Rather more formal sitting room (still not quite fully soft furnished)

Tadaaaaa..the gold plated wallpaper!

Passage both ways!

Some rooms are less complete than others - aka ensuite library!

His mancave chair - all he needs now is a place to keep his beer!

Barn waiting for it's concrete floor

New landscaping beginnings (we snuck the wooden mushrooms past the MAF nazis!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where does the dust come from?

I've been away from home for three days to return to find a layer of dust everywhere – again! Guess what this domestic executive has been doing this weekend.

Tomorrow I plan to get photo-blogging again but need to get the house ship shape for its blog reveal.

We are living in organised chaos which is not a bad state. Electrics are finally heading towards completion and the painters have almost finished the internal paint touch ups. The wallpaper has been hung (one lot for the third time and soon to be fourth) but my pride and joy feature wall seems to be successful first time. The hall floor was laid this week but not before the cloakroom toilet had to be taken out due to a leak.

Most exciting is that I'm writing this blog from Domestic Executive HQ. My beautiful office furniture has arrived and MT has set up the house network so we're good to get going. This is just as well as I have lots of work starting next week with new potential coaching clients starting to increase.

Tomorrow we change the sign on the gate from Moss Brothers to our personal sign made by Al who keeps his bees on our land. Another milestone reached. Next will be the landscaping to get under way and the barn to complete before we'll be fully functioning for our visitors.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Home at last!

We're in. We're black and blue, weary and all unpacked out. But happy!

Sorry there's no pics to share the experience but we're waiting for my new office furniture before setting up the computer that has all the necessary gubbins needed for photoblogging. Hopefully normal service will be resumed at the weekend.

The move out was as smooth as it can be and my friend Amanda and I scrubbed and polished so that everything in the rental was shiny. We arrived hot and bothered to find the unloading done at the house and MT testing out the new sofas. With enough energy to put together the bed and make it we collapsed in a heap bemoaning all the snagging still to be done.

But we're in. The views are amazing – you can lie in bed and see the mountains peering back. The neighbours are friendly – 8 cows and 6 sheep. We've unpacked about 80 boxes and unearthed stuff we didn't even remember we had.

There is still a daily digest of builders, painters, electricians, barn builders, landscapers to come but who cares – only 5-6 weeks to get it finished before our first visitors arrive. Oh, not quite our first – that was two ducks who came swimming in our lake size puddles following the weekend rain. Hopefully if I can get the technology working I'll post the video for you to see.

Anyway, I'm off line till the weekend as it's back to work tomorrow and I'm away in Martinborough. Well that's what I'm telling MT, it's more like a few days retreat to recover from the move!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Domestic-Executive on the move

After all the angst and aggravation the ceremonial changing of the locks took place yesterday. Whilst the architect and project manager drove off I turned to see the smiley faces of three painters, two barn builders, an electrician and three must be pleased they said!

Yes and no! But mostly yes. Should we have given them another week to complete the fiddly bits? Not on your life – given the fact that the snagging list is about 8 pages long it will take them till this time next year to get things sorted out. Whilst we'll continue to live with dust, muck and builders for weeks to come it is at least our home and we'll be where we want to be.

I'm surrounded by boxes here in Khandallah and there's that chilly echo you get when you've taken everything out of a room. MT had an interested day. There were 5 lady packers that whipped around the house like a tornado. I think if he had stood still long enough that they would have packed him.

It made me smile as he retold his stories for the day over dinner out across at Taste (our friendly suburban diner over the road). He asked the packers to leave out tea from the food cupboard – they did. The tin of "weird" teas, green, camomile etc, we keep for visitors. Not sure that the psychology of male packers is the same! I woke up in the night worrying whether they had packed the tools for Dyson but I knew I could count on lady packers – blokes wouldn't have known what they were and would have stuffed them in a box.

So far the only casualties are my knees (scrubbing floors) and a vase from Spain which has already been broken once before. Me thinks that this vase doesn't have good karma. Still, I'll keep the bits and see if we can stick it back together.

Anyway, bloggers this may be the last entry for a couple of days unless of course we get the technology working poste haste. I think that there is a fair chance that we'll be surfing the net tonight as MT plans to don his electrician's hat and started to help Wayne on site to get the networking up and running. His boys' toys are packed and ready for the move – we might not have a kitchen but by next Wednesday we'll have a home entertainment system installed!

The job squad trainers were concerned I wouldn't be getting enough exercise this coming week – what do you think?