Monday, March 31, 2008

British Summer Time

The clocks changed in the UK on Saturday night which heralds the start of British Summer. Let's hope it's better than the last.

For bloggers in the UK you're now 12 hours behind us in New Zealand so when you see the sun rising think of us looking at the moon. The night sky here continues to be drammatic with the limited light polution over Kaitoke giving us some magnificent sights.

As British Summer arrives here in New Zealand we're definitely into Autumn and the rainy season is starting much to the relief of water planners and people living on tank water. It actually took two days of persistent drizzle and showers to fill up the tanks.

Much has been written in the papers in recent days of the prolonged sunshine and lack of rain. Even Wellingtonians have a hose pipe ban and looking at the water resevoirs just down from our house the collection still isn't going well enough to meet Wellington's needs. Mental note to photoblog and show you what I mean.

Anyway, friends and family remember the time difference change - at least it's easy to think 12 hours difference. But don't get used to it, we move to Daylight Saving next weekend and it will be all change again.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A bit of a refresh

I thought it was time to spruce up the blog and since it's been raining for most of today, here's the fruits of my labours. Hope you like it. Still lots of tidying up to be done or I may even do a complete revamp but just like the house and land it's a long term project that can't be rushed.

It's been one of those rainy rainy days that on one hand you're pleased about because the water tank will fill up and a good watering of the new plants will work wonders. In the other hand with two puppies lounging around the house getting crankier and crankier you sort of wish it would stop raining so that they'll go out to play.

The forecast for the rest of the week isn't much better which I should complain about but I have so much planned outdoors this week I hope that the weather predictions are wrong and the sun will put in an appearance. I know that the farmers in New Zealand wouldn't agree since they are desperate to break the long summer dry spell.

Did I tell you I'm on the web elsewhere? At last we've posted the Catapult Coaching brochure so if you'd like to snigger at my picture you can check it out. I can't say business is booming as a result of this new marketing opportunity but I've certainly been busy in the last week. I've coached out first cohort of Catapult Leaders for this year which was fun and rewarding to see how people are getting on since they finished the programme.

A bit like the rain, I don't think the scheduling for my work at home is quite right. It wasn't as balanced as I'd hope between executive and domestic stuff so there's going quite a lot of catching up to be done this coming week.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One of the world's more picturesque eateries

Lauded by the upmarket food and travel magazines Craggy Range has been our regular Easter treat since arriving in New Zealand. So last week it wasn't cheese batches for lunch but rather a long leisurely stroll through the Craggy Range menu.

Somehow the food tastes better when you have a fantastic view to admire at the same time and the sun is shining. Luckily for us we got both and had some nice things to eat too.

The winery is located looking at the Te Mata Peak. A stunning mountain surrounded in Maori Folklore. The story goes....

Centuries ago the people living in pa (fortified villages) on the Heretaunga Plains were under constant threat of war from the coastal tribes of Waimarama.

At a gathering in Pakipaki (5km south of Hastings) to discuss the problem, the solution came when a wise old woman (kuia) sought permission to speak in the marae. "He ai na te wahine, ka horahia te po, " she said. (The ways of a woman can sometimes overcome the effects of darkness).
Hinerakau, the beautiful daughter of a Pakipaki chief, was to be the focal point of a plan. She would get the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, to fall in love with her, turning his thoughts from war into peace. The plan succeeded, but she too fell in love.

The people of Heretaunga, however, had not forgotten the past and with revenge the motive, demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks.
The last was to bite his way through the hills between the coast and the plains so that people could come and go with greater ease.

Te Mata died proving his love and today his half-accomplished work can be seen in the hills in what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs).

His body forms Te Mata Peak, the legend says. At sunset one can often see, in the mists which stretch from the crown of Kahuraanake, the beautiful blue cloak with which the grieving Hinerakau covered the body of her husband before leaping to her own death from the precipice on the Waimarama side of the peak. The gully at the base of the cliff was formed when her body struck the earth.
Pity my photography skills just can't do it justice!

So here's some professional ones....
Views from Te Mata to Hawkes Bay Coast

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pooches on parole

It's been a risky strategy but Fortnum and Mason have been allowed to try out Domestic Executive HQ this week. This is all part of their growing independence away from their play pen and crates. Whilst you can't leave them unsupervised they are getting better as just being around the house.

They've been really good bedding down whilst I've been coaching by phone. Only one or two minor altercations with things on the floor but overall I have to praise their obedience and ability to just hang out and sleep. If only Fortnum didn't snore so loudly!

Here's some pics of the sleeping babes during today's working session. Cute eh!

Ocean beach - will this soon be a memory?

One thing New Zealand isn't short of is beautiful places. The natural beauty of the country is really what makes this such a special place - they don't call it God's own country for no reason!

On Monday we finished our break in Hawkes Bay with a stroll on Ocean Beach, an olympic effort throw of stone from where we were staying. It's a beautiful sandy beach that has great surf breakers and miles of unspoilt views.

Before you get too carried away in the idyllic view - there are plans afoot to change all of that. They want to build 1,000 -yes no joke - by this beach which currently has a few baches. One one hand you think well why not build a community in such a beautiful spot - there's certainly enough space and there loads of other deserted beaches elsewhere. As you might imagine the local community have different views and there's a massive campaign to save Ocean Beach.

You can follow the story if you're interested. If not, simply enjoy the view!

So what do you say - should they develop Ocean Beach?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I've jabbered on a bit about the nights drawing in and getting darker. The plus side is that you can see the stars earlier and there is more time to be moonstruck. There have been some awesome sunsets recently and full moons to keep us entertained. Here's one we captured on camera from our cottage at Cape South, Hawkes Bay.

Being away from the urban areas is something I've come to really love - no light polution to spoil the view. The downside of course is that there are plenty of dark spots for boogey men to hide in as I found out to my peril when walking the dogs the other day in the dark.

You'd think that with two strapping dogs I'd be well protected. You need to see Fortnum and Mason in action to realise that they are not guard dogs and Mason does a wonderful four legged bounce backwards at anything he doesn't like. Including bushes that sway in the wind after dark!

Thank goodness for daylight saving. If they hadn't changed the rules we'd have been in early darkness by now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More luck this time

I don't want to tempt fate as there is still one more day to run at the test match for England and the Black Caps up in Napier but we did enjoy our trip to the match on Sunday.

It was a bit of a worry though as we turned on the radio on Saturday morning only to hear that England were 18 for 3. Crikey, it was going to be a torturous weekend. As you might imagine seeking someone to blame for the Brit's performance I was called a bad jinx. Last time I went to a cricket match it was in Melbourne to watch England play Australia in the ashes. And we all know what happened there.

The sun didn't shine on us in Napier but we did at least watch the final overs of England's first innings and then see the Black Caps bowled out in less than one day!

Fingers crossed we get the right result and the boys don't let themselves down.

Batting for England
Interesting notice for lunch break

Doh, I think that they meant this lot who were closer to the pitch! It was a wonderful sight to see kids playing cricket and an inspection of the pitch by fans.

More lunch time entertainment - Ian Botham, Mike Atherton and David (hmm, still looking good!) Gower broadcasting for Sky

Afternoon tea entertainment - NZTV and the Dilmah Team sponsored guest spot where every guest get's their Dilmah goodiebox!

Yah, back on the field again - our boys from blighty

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Basset Blogging: back home with family

Since we didn't think that Fortnum and Mason would be able to stand a day at the cricket we packed them off to their basset family for the Easter break. They were very excited when they arrived to be back in familiar territory happily climbing into their kennels when we arrived.

When we went to pick them up they were sitting happily with their brother and sister peering through the gate waiting for us. They were definitely pleased to see us, jumping up and squeeking loudly with Mason trying to get through the gate and not being held back by the fact he was simply to big to squeeze through the gap!

Here's a few pics of their basset family. You have to understand that Basset photography is a complete profession in its own right but hopefully you'll get a sense of their whanau at least.

From left to right: Bonnie, Clyde, Mason and Fortnum
Hot boys!
Four of the five adult bassets at Courtside Kennels

Abbie (mum) and Berkley (uncle) - can you see the family resemblance?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter break

Ophs, sorry bloggers, forgot to tell you I was taking a break. You guessed it, to Hawkes Bay. We returned to Cape South where we've been going every Easter since we came to NZ to live. Once again it didn't disappoint.

We dined at Craggy Range Winery (reported as one of the world's best dining spots), went to the cricket, watched the sea at Ocean Beach and generally chilled out in one of the most idyllic places you can find.

Lots to blog about so hold onto your hats!

Guestblogging: Sarah's reflections of NZ

Guest blogger: Sarah
Our intrepid traveller tramping the Milford Track
The reward at journey's end
I’ve just returned home to cold, snowy Yorkshire after a fantastic three week trip to New Zealand. Julie and I met in 2005 when she joined NHS Direct as my boss and I’m lucky to have had her as a friend ever since. When she emigrated two years ago, I promised that I would be out to visit when they’d built their dream house in the country. Having followed Julie’s New Zealand adventures, like many of you, via her blog, it was great to finally see her again in person, meet Martin, Fortnum and Mason for the first time, and to stay in their beautiful new home.

It will come as no surprise that the Treanors made me feel so welcome, took me to some lovely places in Wellington and the surrounding area, including Martinborough (home to a number of small wineries – hic!) and Cape Palliser (where I was thrilled to see a fur seal colony). It was equally as nice just sitting on the veranda in the sunshine drinking tea, catching up on our news and playing with the bassets.

Fortnum and Mason are even more adorable in the flesh than in the photos on Julie’s blog. They love to lick your toes if you’re wearing sandals, jump up with their muddy paws when you’ve just put a clean pair of trousers on, and steal your knickers or socks when you’re trying to put them in the washing machine!

I thought it would even be stretching Julie and Martin’s generous hospitality if I stayed with them for the whole three weeks, so I visited Auckland, Queenstown (a particular favourite for me) and Christchurch. I also completed the 33.5 mile Milford Track, which is described as one of the greatest walks in the world, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. I did the ‘softies’ version of the trek, opting for the more luxurious lodges complete with beds, duvets, hot showers, flushing loos, and a 3 course dinner and breakfast cooked for you, rather than the more ‘hearty’ independent version where you stay in huts, with bare bunks, basic cooking equipment and only a cold water tap for washing.

It was hard saying goodbye to Julie after having such a wonderful time, but I hope to be back to see her and Martin in the not too distant future. I’ve certainly fallen in love with New Zealand and can see why they have decided to make it their home. And I promise, the 27 hour flight to get there is a breeze!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cruising the coast

It was a beautiful day today - sun shining with temperatures in the high twenties. A perfect day for cruising what can otherwise be a bleak coastline of the South Wairarapa.

It's been a while since I visited Cape Palliser as the last time we were there it rained, my back was really hurting and on driving home we found out from our prospective neighbours in Gilbert Road that the minx of a developer was hatching a plot which meant we would never be able to get the piece of land we were due to buy. All round it wasn't the best of days.

The fine weather and different circumstances made the trip today a real pleasure. We had to go hunting for seals as Sarah, my staying from the UK hadn't seen seals so far on her trip. I'm pleased to say that neither the sun, sea or seals let me down and they put on a real show for Sarah as you can see from this photoblogging.

I know, not sea or seals but the rural icon of NZ taking a stroll down the coast road when my in-laws were visiting and makes this photoblog complete.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Extremes of NZ

Seems one of my heroes, Ben Fogle of Castaway fame, has been to NZ and didn't stop for tea. Still seems like he had a good time. You can read all about it!

If you're wondering, no I haven't done the extreme route but my in-laws have done the Shotover!

Sleeping with your best friend

Although our boys love to play and have occasional fights they are devoted to each other. In their early days they were inseparable and when they were apart they were very upset.

As they've got older they've realised that separation is not usually permenant and are more independent of each other. Their bedroom is now divided into two so that at night they sleep in separate beds but given the choice and certainly during the day they are happiest when they can sleep together.

And when I say sleep together, I mean really together. Here's some pics to show them close up and happily dreaming yesterday!

Phew too hot Fortnum, I need my space......
A basset's favourite place out of the sun on the cool tiles

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ssh, don't mention the cricket

Reading this blog you wouldn't know that the England cricket team are here on their NZ cricket tour. It's not something that get's talked about much in our house but rather much desparate staring at the TV screen in disbelief.

So far it's not been a great tour. The one day games have been pitiful and they lost the first test hands down. But, things have been looking up and they've been playing at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. MT went this morning and joined the serious cricket watchers in the shade of the stand.
MT's view of the match

The Basin was packed with 8,000 capacity crowd. Lots and lots of Brits frying in the NZ sun. They always say you can't beat Wellington on a good day - today is a good day and the cricket has been going pretty well for England.

I won't say any more about the score at this point for fear of tempting fate but suffice to say that the headlines in the paper reads "Black Caps face massive task" ..... and there is lots of pics of the Barmy Army on tour!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The party is over

They say all good things come to an end. In the case of New Zealand legislation has just been passed to make "party pills" a class C drug (same as Cannabis) and in a fortnight's time you'll no longer be able to wander along Courtney Place and pop in to the local party pill store.

For those of you that don't know what party pills are you can check it out!

For a control freak like me drugs have never been my thing so I've missed out on the party pills scene. Perhaps I should throw caution to the wind and stock up while I still can legally.

Well, maybe not. After all, I have responsibilities now - to set a good example for Fortnum or Mason!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Memories of summer

As the days get darker and the winds get stronger it's nice to reflect on our summer this year. In particular the holiday we had in Golden Bay. Bob's photoblogging shows Ligar Bay in all it's glory and sums up the sun, the sand and the sangria (well beer and wine actually) we partook on the veranda watching the amazing sunsets.

View across Ligar Bay from the Abel Tasman Memorial
Evening sun and fun on the beach
Kicking back after a hard day doing nothing!
Not a bad view for the end of the day, eh!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Neighbourly views

At the bottom of the valley there is Tunnel Gully Recreational area. It's about an hours walk along the Rimutaka Trail to get there and a welcoming picnic area to rest before starting the hike back up the hill.

Bob and Sheila did this walk a week or so ago and took a picture that shows a completely new view - our house with Mike and Andrea's. Admittedly you need a good telephoto lense or bionic eyesight to see it but thought it was interested neighbourly views.

Can you see in Sheila?
A close up on our house with the new build behind on the hill.

Monday, March 10, 2008

That autumn feeling

There is no doubt that we are heading into autumn. The mornings and evenings are getting darker, the wind that bit chillier and the blackberries are out in the lane.

I pottered out to see if I could find some to make a crumble but looks like Bob and Sheila had snaffled them all when they went out for their walk last week. This photo was evidence of their find and the blackberry juice on their lips was the sign that they had partaken of the luscious fruit!
Photo: Bob's photoblogging

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Where are they going?

Sometimes Fortnum and Mason can be found sitting looking longingly at someone or waiting patiently for you to emerge from the house. This picture taken by Bob captures the intensity of their longing beautifully.

It also sums up the way we were all feeling today as we said goodbye to Bob and Sheila who were off home via Bangkok after their kiwi adventures.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Basset anarchy

It's nice for MT to be able to commune with his puppies and play master at weekends. It is however typical for him to be spoiling and indulging Fortnum and Mason in ways that do much to undermine the disciplined approach that they get with me most of the time.

There are treats, lots of petting and more importantly space for basset anarchy which usually ends up with Fortnum and Mason playing havoc in the flower beds. To say that I don't approve is an understatement but then where bassets and their master are concerned there are some thing you just have to accept are going to happen.

Cupboard love - buying affection with treats!
Here master here's a stick for you!

Happiness is.... playing with my favourite indoor toy outdoors

That's blown it, how are we going to get the stingray out of the flowerbed?

No problem, I'll fetch it back

Well if you're allowed in the flowerbed I think I'll take a stroll

Hmm, plenty of good sniffing here

Sooooo comfy too to lie down. She'll never know!

Want to see more bassetblogging?