Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Deliverance of weather

The severe weather we were expecting arrived last night. According to the newspapers it wasn't as bad as people feared but it sounded like rain of biblical proportions on the roof.

Still at least our water tank will be full which is always a comforting thought.

The lashing wind and rain has caused havoc with my new trees. I've had an almost wholesale collapse of trees already delivered so it was a challenge putting them all upright again this morning. Not sure my garden twine is up to the job of keeping some of the bigger trees secure in high winds. Mental note to get some proper rope to lash them together.

Talking of trees - we had another delivery today but this time smaller species and more native to New Zealand. Given the high winds and rain that seem to be with us at the moment it was tricky finding a spot to store these plants. Although you might think with 6 acres that won't be a problem but it is when the excavators are due on site soon to finish the top soil spreading and finish the drive.

In the end I thought the safest, if not the most sheltered, would be to lash the plants together to the house in the existing flower borders. Not the most attractive I know but at least it's a practical short term home. Hope they don't get too used to their surroundings as they'll soon have to be shifted elsewhere and survive wind and rain lashing on their own!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A quick round up for new readers

For new and returning visitors to Domestic Executive, here's a quick link round up for you to enjoy.

We've been living in New Zealand now for over two years. Don't ask me where the time has gone as it hardly seems like yesterday since I was loading my chattels into a container in Oxfordshire. The goal for moving 12,000 miles away from family and friends was to find some peace and quiet in the country and cut loose from the corporate life. I've certainly done that and now the hard bit comes to enjoying what we've got. Even in New Zealand it's easy to get into the work rhythm when being a Domestic Executive requires new habits and passions that revolve more around the demands of nature than shareholders or stakeholders. I ponder on life as a Domestic Executive from time to time - click here to read Domestic Executive Musings.

Our house is a fulfilment of a long held dream to have a house with a Walton's porch and turrets. The build process last year was a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. It's only with the benefit of hindsight that I can now see how lucky we were to get our build completed in the time we did and with relatively little problem. Our neighbours have suffered much more. Doug, our country living hunter next door, has had a lengthy delay with his architectural plans after his architect became seriously ill. He missed the opportunity to build last year (he's building his own place) so will have to wait till the end of next year now to start his own build. His parents (neighbours closest to the main road), bought Doug's house and have rennovated it with the idea of making some extra money - they've now been hit with the propertly slump and it's still on the market after a couple of months of showing. Mike and Andrea (our neighbours on the hill) are due to get handover on their place at the end of June. It's been a painful process of mishaps and mistakes with the biggest one being a budget blow out that has meant that they've got to finish the house by decorating it themselves. Today we've got the painters and builders back to complete the work they they should have done within 2 weeks of moving in - since it's six months now it only goes to prove that builders have their own time zone where 1 week=1 month. You can see our housebuilding adventures through my houseblogging reports.

Part of the Domestic Executive picture has always been to have two basset hounds to love. Fortnum and Mason have certainly brought bundles of activity to our lives and I can't imagine life without them now. If I'd known what I was letting myself in for when we brought them home I am sure I wouldn't have done it but am pleased I did. They are unruly, boisterous boys with limited hearing capability for basic commands. They eat, sleep and hoon around living a life of pure pleasure and fun. They are a constant worry and expense but they are now part of our family and give me hours of entertainment and unconditional love that is hard to adore. You can read about our Basset Boys in my bassetblogging posts.

When you have 6 acres of land and grand plans for growing and a menagerie of animals there is always something to do. There's no Ground Force transformation taking place here just backbreaking digging, weeding, strimming and mowing that seems to have a marginal effect. We have at least established a garden around the house and immediate plans for a second go at growing a lawn and planting trees before the winter sets in. My winter project is going to be planning in detail my kitchen garden. I'm getting inspiration at the moment from Geoff Hamilton through some vintage episodes of his on DVD. Geoff makes it all look so easy so as long as I stick to his advice and that of Alan and Monty I'm sure that it will all come right in the end. The biggest drawback at the moment is my lack of carpentry skills to do some basic chores such as built my compost, border protection from basset fencing and a chicken house. Still you've got to start somewhere so my goal this week is to get the necessary ingredients (I mean materials) and follow my plans. After all how difficult can it be to build a box to put garden rubbish in? You can follow our gardening and country living exploits.

Being a Domestic Executive has opened up a new interest for me - blogging. I've loved writing my daily snippets and enjoyed the feedback from people. Another winter project is brewing of the publishing kind. I won't say more about it now but hopefully Domestic Executive fans will enjoy a new look and approach to blogging by Spring. Also, inspired by reading other people's blogs I've got a new blogging idea developing that I'm hoping will bring inspiration, insight and laughter to a new cyberspace audience. Mum's the word at the moment but don't be surprised if I tap your shoulder by email to be part of my new blogging venture.

In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy my Domestic Executive adventures!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Drought to floods

New Zealand has weather warnings today that we're about to be deluged with rain with a threat of tornadoes. Just as well we managed to get the rain collection from the barn roof connected to the main water tank today. This means we'll now be able to maximise the rain amount of we collect.

We were planning to install another tank to avoid the water shortage possibilities next year but the costs were much higher than we imagined so we'll see how we go with just one tank but more water collection when it does rain.

High excitement too that we've had another tap installed outside by the barn. This will come in handy for watering the trees and save on the feet when refreshing the basset water bowl. It's a great sense of satisfaction when I tick things off my list. After a slow and frustrating few weeks it's good to be making progress at last.

If we do get the projected rainfall this week there's a danger that parts of New Zealand that were suffering the most with droughts will be dealing with floods which I am sure bring their own brand of difficulties for those in weather dependent industries like farming. I'll keep you posted.

Here's a satellite image taken last night shows the thunderstorm in the Tasman Sea heading towards New Zealand. Looks grim.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Basset blogging: in the wars again

Fortnum's been overdoing it and ended up back at the vets. Probably too much hooning around but he's now confined to gentle play and lots of rest in his crate. We're not sure whether it's an injury or whether he's got growing pains but nevertheless rest is the only way for him to get it better.

As you can imagine this has not gone down well. It's confusing for him and for Mason who is almost as much affected since he's lost his playmate and keeps getting told off for simply having a good time.

We were due to go to a basset walk today – the first we were to attend – but only managed the meet and greet before seeing a baggle of bassets head off down the path. Fortnum and Mason did enjoy seeing other dogs and were a bit disappointed to be left behind. Next time they'll get their chance.

Here's a couple of pictures of their latest antics.

Basset on camera attack!

Basset invasion of Domestic Executive HQ

Friday, April 25, 2008

Autumnal colour at last!

It was another mini milestone this week with the arrival of some autumnal colour at last. This was in the shape of our first delivery of trees - 42 in all - about 50% of the first tranch of planting to be done.

It was quite a sight to see the HGV delivery them without a hitch. This was because the fencer and I have been in dialogue as to whether the gateway he's just built would be wide enough for trucks, diggers and the like. We now know that it is!

The delay in getting the ground works men back to finish the drive and spread the top soil means we'll be tending our trees in their pots for a while yet. To give them the best chance of surviving our winds we've lined them up and secured them to the fence and barn.

It's exciting to see the next part of the landscape plan coming to life. Now we just need some fine weather in about two weeks so we get the drive finished and the top soil spread ready for our tree planting extravaganza.

The kiwi bug

There are thousands of Brits here in NZ adopting life kiwi style. Many are avid bloggers so there are plenty of sites to choose from. Here's one I found recently which really chimed with my thinking Brit in the Boonies. Check out the archives on the right to find the rest of the articles that follow.

Just for Ruth: a chicken coup to go with the book

When I was a kid I always used to be slightly embarressed that my father was capable of over engineering most things. For example, we couldn't just have a rubbish bin - it had to be a grit bin which was one of the products that we manufactured in the family firm. There was a long list of other DIY projects that were highly specified and in the event more than fit for purpose.

Still it was a wonder to have a DIY Dad who can turn his hand to most things and has served me well in my home improvements over the years. In the true tradition of my father I think we've now got an over engineered chicken run. It will however last for a long time and there's no skimping on the space or the appearance. Look and and see!

Now the coup is ready I'd better get on with the next bit of my country life dream. One of my favourite leaving presents from my dear friend Ruth in the UK was a book about keeping chickens. This has been my inspiration for some time and now we have a home in which to put the chickens it's time I started learning what I'm suposed to do with these feathered things.

Next step is to get a house for nesting and some chooks and we'll soon be scrambling our own eggs for breakfast - how amazing is that!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Birthday excitement

It's going to be a lazy today in honour of my birthday. It will be minimal chores and hopefully time doing things that I wouldn't normally do.

Although our morning routine didn't change that much I did manage to open my pressies before having to get the boys up for their ablusions and breakfast. It was a bit of a struggle though as they were rather enjoying playing with the paper from the present they'd bought me - a striking possum beanie hat and pair of gloves.

It's never easy basset photoblogging but here's my best efforts!

Opphs, not quick enough to get both in shot!

Hmm, at least two boys in shot although Mason was heading for closer look at the camera!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Residential definition

It's been months since I started my search for a fencer and after a couple of false starts with two people I finally found a fencing contractor that would come to take our hard earned cash.

Hugh and his mate finally turned up a week late but in a few short hours they've reinstated the deer fencing from the side of the house up the drive, put in the posts for the new gate and created a door through the fence to the soon to be chicken run.

It's amazing how a bit of fencing can give such definition to an area. It is of course not just aesthetic benefit when complete the house area will be secure for Bassets to roam a little more at their will.

They've loved having the fencers on site. New feet to get under, smells to sniff and something other than me to stare at from the veranda. Little do they know that it's these entertainers that are to contain their wanderings which I am sure they won't like at all!

More work to be done but here's some interim photoblogging for you to enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bassetblogging: a new indoor arena

It's been a long time in coming but we've finally sorted out an indoor play arena for our pampered pooches to enjoy when the rain comes down.

After much headscratching and design work by our respective father's I decided to take an easy construction route to partioning off part of our barn for Fortnum and Mason to play in. We made use of two old gates - one we had and one I scrounged off my neighbour Jim.

We've now got a solid and secure area for the boys to go instead of them getting cramp from sitting in their dog house when it rains.

They had their first outing in their today and suffice to say they are not really that keen. There was lots of new smells and although they could see out and I left the barn doors open for them they were decidedly not sure about being caged in.

I'm sure they'll get used to it and in time will come to appreciate the enormous effort and thought gone into getting them somewhere new to potter around. Admittedly it looks a bit sparten at the moment - a couple of mats and a bit of carpet but I'm sure when they put up their posters, bring out their soft toys and let their bones lying around it will be just like things are in the family room in the house!

"Really not sure about the view from here"

"Let's see if I lie down I might see an escape route?"

"Perhaps if we spread out it won't seem so empty?"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Morning chills

We've been getting lots of dew for weeks but gradually it's been getting chillier and chillier overnight and it's only a matter of time before we a ground frost to contend with.

With the dip in temperature and torrential rain this weekend we've been making use of our central heating and also got the wood burner on the go. The beauty of burning the wood is that as well as heating the house we are also heating the water and have had lashings of boiling water as a free bi-product. It's this winter water heating feature that when combined with the solar for the sunny days it makes you feel much better about how you're using the planet's resources.

The mornings are full of mist and mellow light. It's quite something to see the changing weather as I do the commuter run or simply pottering around outside with the dogs.

They were dead pleased it was 2 degrees on the roof today as this set the tone for whether I'd make them go out in the pen or whether they were allowed back in the house for their post breakfast snooze. As you might imagined our spoiled bassets are now snoozing in their duvet beds in the utlity rooom!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Basset blogging: breakout again!

The danger of running a puppy bootcamp is that you need a totally secure and contained area in which to keep the puppies when one is on the parade ground going through their paces.

Our puppy pen has served us well over the last four months with only one breach of security when Fortnum realised that if he pushed hard enough at the bottom of the gate he'd be able to get out!

Now we tied the bottom of the gate together making the pen secure again. Or so we thought.

Today I was up at the top of the drive trying to persuade Mason to walk nicely by me. I was still in sight of the pen when all of a sudden Fortnum's barking stopped. Always a suspicious sign. And lo and behold when I looked there was Fortnum bounding up the drive with his ears flapping and a smile to die for.

I knew as soon as I saw him that his breakout capabilities were again brute force but this time simply jumping, leaning and putting as much weight on the gate panel had led to it splitting to a low enough level for him to leap over the top to freedom.

Fortuantly we have some matching coloured rope - bright orange - and with some weaving I've managed to not just repair the rip but also strengthen the panel such that it will take quite a bit more jumping and leaning to break through the nylon rope.

Who knows how long it will be before he finds another way to breakout. Hopefully the fencer will turn up as promised tomorrow and we'll get their pen in the barn sorted out so that they will be more secure with steel gates to keep them penned in.

With the breakout adventure and two lots of visitors today they had a ball. Even if they did scare the children and drag MT's friend along when we took a stroll around the land. The only bonus was that they settled down early at my feet under my desk and had to be put to bed in a sleepy haze. If only they could be that cute all of the time!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baking mania

This weekend we're having a social fest - we've got two sets of friends visiting. Not only is this momentus because this indicates we have a kiwi social life but it marks another moment of baking mania to provide for our guests.

So tonight I've been baking and preparing for tomorrow's brunch that will follow a walk with my girl friends and afternoon tea for a friend of MT's. I'm relying on Nigella to see me through so fingers crossed the catering will be stressfree.

It was a real joy to be pottering in the kitchen with a podcast playing on our magic radio and a glass of wine on hand to add to the evening pleasure. For such a long time I'd be imagining me baking in my big kitchen designed to please me and there I was actually doing it. How cool is that!

Now to complete the evening, I'm going to settle into the last episode of Cranford to see if anyone else is going to die or whether there might at last be a happy ending!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nocturnal residents

For the last two nights I've had to swerve in the lane driving up to the house. This was to avoid squashing one of our country residents - a hedgehog. Fortunately it moves pretty quickly across the road so doesn't cause delay but it's still a worry to know that one day it might not be so lucky.

It's nice to know we've got new neighbours but not sure what Fortnum and Mason would make of this spiky little creature. Might be nice to coax him or her down to our land and make them an official part of the Treanor menagerie.

You can read all about hedgehogs and their habits here.

Away from almost running over a hedgehog it's been a busy week with work in town in the afternoons and preparation in the mornings to be done. Not to mention the usual round of domestic routines. I am at least getting into more of a rhythm although I don't think it's a routine that the puppies like much - early lunches and late dinners. I'm meeting with a Pet Angel soon as I there are a few full day gigs coming up which mean that I'll need to have someone to come and make lunch for the boys and make sure that they aren't fighting too much.

It's clear that if you leave them for too long on their own they start to turn feral and ignor you completely which isn't a good thing. So, it's back to puppy boot camp from tomorrow as I've got a home day planned and then we can continue to ramp up the training over the weekend.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Personal reflection - is it all it's cracked up to be?

I'm half way through my first major coaching assigment, coaching to members of a senior board on the results of their 360 degree appraisal. Its been a real eye opener to see how people have approached the session - body language has been fun to see how it evolves and what happens when I start asking them questions which challenge their thinking.

It's quite something to be independent and feeding back evidence from others. I've certainly go no agenda other than making sure that the message is heard. Some of the messages being sent are hard for some people to hear. This is made worse when they act like they are hard of hearing and I keep having to repeat the message in an an ever more persistent way until they finally get it!

There is no doubt that personal reflection is tough to do when you're being forced through an organisational process. As one of my clients pointed out "All this personal reflection is not all it's cracked up to be. I'm quite happy the way I am, it's other people need to change and get used to it!" Let's just say there was no way that person was leaving the session early for good behaviour!

I've no time for personal reflection this week - I'm motoring on Domestic Executive adrenalin fitting in all the chores, work and home cooking to put me to bed in a state of readiness for sleep!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Basset blogging: it's a hard life being a dog

Given their behaviour recently basset blogging has been in abeyance for a while. This blog is dedicated to Leonardo, a declared basset blogging fan!

Fortnum and Mason are continuing to thrive. They are growing daily and their antics never cease to amuse (well apart from then they chew furniture). They are much easier to live with as they can settle down sometimes and allow you some peace and quiet to get on with things.

They are still on their gourmet diet - cereal and milk for breakfast with homecooked lunch and dinners. It's been a battle to get them to eat commercial food but slowly they are eating it when it's mixed in with their tastier home made meals. We've cut out the snacks morning and afternoon although they are still partial to a bone to chew. It will be a relief when it can just be biscuits in the morning and a meal at night - it will reduce the amount of floor cleaning needed (they smear everything on the floor) and mean that the our lives won't require us to be on hand for midday feeding.

It's hard to believe that our little cute bundles of fluff are growing into such big dogs. They are definitely two people lifting material now to get them in the bath or the car. However, when they bed down at the end of the day (around 7.30-8pm) they are as cute as puppies - until Fortnum starts to snore!

Bassets bounding up basset alley

It's hard work all this running around!

"If I stick out my tongue do you think I'll look cuter?"

Basset bone heaven

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oooh, those legs are going to hurt

With two beautiful sunny days we set to again this weekend to see if we could reveal more of our land. The main challenge was to clear the area where the fencers are coming to build the chicken run but MT couldn't help himself to test out his mower again.

The Bassets were not best pleased to be losing yet another basset alley - a long grass area where they can run and play without being seen (or so they think, their white tipped tails are a bit of a giveaway!).

Slowly but surely we're starting to reveal more of the land but its a small dimple in the overall area. Still you've got to start somewhere and if we keep plugging away we'll get there in the end.

The conclusion after two days of strimming and mowing is that those legs are going to hurt in the morning!

Crop circles do you think?

Chicken run alley

Site of future kitchen garden

The sun dipping down behind the trees at the end of a long hot day

Friday, April 11, 2008

Domestic Executive tensions

Being a Domestic Executive is not always as simple as people might think. The dream was an idyllic lifestyle pottering around at home, doing a few chores and fitting in a spot of paid work occasionally.

Seems that the pressures to complete both Domestic and the Executive are not that dissimilar from how it's been in my past employed life. There is always more to do than there is time to do it.

Having struggled a bit in the last three weeks to get on top of my massive to do list I've decided I need a new way of tackling things. As you might expect from a list obesssive the key thing is to find a new way of organising the list to make it seem more achievable and enable you to tick more things off.

Has it worked? Partly. I've actually got through more of the list this week so it feels like more progress but it doesn't get away from the fact that the days still pass in a flash and the list gets added to each night making the list the same length as the day before.

So the plan from now is to actually get the chores done as early in the day before I sit down to work through the office work. If I don't it can be lunch time and the day is running out.

I'm also trying out a new routine for catering. Taking a leaf from Nigella's express cooking techniques I'm trying to get ahead of the arrangements so that it doesn't seem like such a rush in the evenings to feed and walk dogs, do commuter run and get a fantastic supper on the table that would be worthy of a TV series.

So bloggers it's a poor excuse for getting behind with my blog posts this week but blogging comes after washing, cleaning, office work but before ironing!

PS - I start the new blogging routine next week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sleeping with a rodent

Mus musculus - House Mouse

Bloggers will remember that we discovered we had a mouse a few weeks ago and I invested in some mouse traps to try and catch them. Seems it didn't work.

At around 3am this morning we were woken by our Mus Musculus who was playing in the curtains in our bedroom. We opened the door to the veranda letting in an arctic blast and then tried to get the mouse to come out and be chase out the door. All that I managed was to get him to peak boo out of the curtain stick his tongue out and say na, na, na, na na... catch me if you can!

MT thought it then rushed off (Did you know that mice can run up to 8 miles an hour? True - check it out here) under the door to the hall so I gave up being a mouse hunter in the wee hours of the morning.

Intent on finding the little rodent tonight I went to fish out the mousetrap from under the cooker and lo and behold what was there? Yes, you guessed it a not so alive mouse.

Whether this is THE mouse that kept us awake I'm not sure but I'm not taking any chances. The mousetrap will stay in the hall for a few nights yet. Hopefully if there is another it will fancy a snack of peanut butter and we'll be able to sleep in peace.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A man and his mower

Last weekend MT set to with his new lawnmower bought in the sale. It's not quite the ride on mower he dreams about but with a lawn that's refusing to grow and thistles growing on most of the land we figured it was too soon to be investing the amount of $s it would be at this stage. I think he's more inclined to get a quad bike and trailer instead so we can go off roading in the forestry!

Still, what little grass we have in the lawn felt so much better after it had the snip. Glowing in the success of that he thought a little trim elsewhere was in order. Complete with Bassets in tow he set off to mow his pasture. Fortnum and Mason were not too sure about the red, noisy moving thing (all the things that send them scuttling) but they braved it to get a bit closer to the action.

As for MT, he got a good garden workout pushing the mower through the long grass up and down the hill. Good job that the mower is designed for tough stuff as it needs to be.

Although it's only a small dent in the land it does make it much nicer to take the dogs down the garden for a potter. I'm not sure that the bassets agree as they like nothing better than running through the long grass.

This weekend we've got to get the strimmer and bush cutter in action to clear the area where the chicken pen is being built next week.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Slow progress for Mike and Andrea

It's hard to see from the outside the progress inside on Mike and Andrea's place. There aren't many white vans visiting that often so you have to wonder how much progress is being made.

From the outside some stone cladding has gone on but the main render seems conspicuous by it's absence. Having spied through the windows it seems that first fix, insulation and gib boarding is in progress but it seems a long way from becoming a habitable dwelling.

They are due to get handover at the end of May so it will be interesting to see if the white vans start multiplying soon.
View from the Pylon Loop Track

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rambling the pylon way

When we were building the house we'd often scoot up to site have a snout around and then head off for a walk on one of the trails close by. Since we've actually moved here we haven't been out walking so decided yesterday that today was the day that we were getting back into the habit.

For a change we decided to cross the state highway and take one of the Kaitoke Regional Park trails on the other side of the road. There was a choice of two - the Pylon Loop Track and Kaitoke Hill Track. We decided that the Pylon Loop sounded intriguing so set off up hill into the forestry.

After an indyllic start through the forestry we finally found the pylons across the valley that make the track name so appropriate. We headed off towards the water treatment plant in hope of spying the water resevoirs but instead found ourselves back on the Kaitoke Hill Track that was a painful reminder of the fact that what goes up must come down!

It wasn't what I'd call the most attractive of walks but it was a good way to stretch the legs and work up a sweat. Not sure that the Bassets will relish it as a walk when they're old enough to go out even though they have four paw drive to make it easier for them.

No it's not a hobbit hole but the underpass off the Kaitoke Loop under the state highway.

A bit of a more artistic pylon view

Looking down to Te Marua towards Upper Hutt

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Turning the clocks back

We've been up real early this morning. The clocks went back so it was an hour earlier than our body clocks were telling us. Mental note for those of you in the northern hemisphere, this means we're now 11 hours ahead of the UK.

Still getting up early means there is more time to look at the view. Well you could if you could see it!

The mists are forming in the valley at this time of year and they create some spectacular sights as they move from thick pea soup, can't see a thing but a blanket of white to some fantastic formations as they rise and clear.

Photoblogging weather is never easy and it doesn't really give you a full sensory feeling of the damp in the air. Still, thought it was worth sharing with dedicated Domestic Executive bloggers.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dog house blues

Our butter wouldn't melt in their mouths puppies are well and truly in the dog house. No joke.

They disgraced themselves by chewing up the new veranda furniture that MT had slaved over making over the Christmas break. Although a bit of sanding, filling and repainting will repair the majority there is no getting away from the fact that there is a bit missing from one of the chairs.

To say that they were not very popular today is an understatement so they've been banished back to their playpen and dog house and their free ranging days are over.

The chewing extravaganza followed an evening of bad behaviour when MT was in charge and I was out living it up with some friends in town. They ran away up the drive and didn't want to come back and then proceeded to fight and chew their leads making it impossible to walk them with any semblance of control. All in all it sounded awful.

If there is any admonishment it has to be mine for leaving them unsupervised to chew on the furniture. I can tell you it's a tight squeeze for three in our little dog house and with the damp and wet it's not pleasant putting up with the doggy smell.

It's not that they haven't played today - they've run riot across the lawn, bounded up and down the newly mown area in the lower area of the garden and investigated the barn during a clearing out operation. It's just that they've not been able to run around the flower beds, hoon around the house and play tag up and down the veranda. It's just not the usual level of independence they've enjoyed in recent weeks.

Whilst we can "blame" Fortnum and Mason the truth is their behaviour is the outcome of that of they carers. Their training regime has been reduced when the visitors were here and since I've been trying to catch up with all my chores they've not had the investment that they need to turn them into disciplined and well behaved pooches.

So our basset cherubs are back in intensive puppy school and banished from the house and veranda until they can behave. They were a little confused about being kept under so much control today and Fortnum was particularly sulky when he went to bed.

Pity he has no idea what awaits in the Basset Bootcamp tomorrow!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Perhaps we need some Poles?

It's been one of those frustrating weeks where I spend ages chasing up people who we'd like to pay them to do work for us. Nothing earth shattering just fencers, landscapers and the like. It seems that here in New Zealand there is simply too much work for people of this kind and nailing them down firstly to a price and then a time is proving as difficult as it used to be in the UK to get a plumber or builder, before the Polish immigrants arrived.

I'm being to experience the butt end of the kiwi skills shortage and I can tell you it's frustrating in the extreme. I also feel like I've turned into a bit of a stalker ringing to get hold of people and decided that it's not worth leaving messages as they never return the calls.

I'm going to have to tackle this another way next week if I'm going to have any hope of getting the drive finished, trees order, fencing constructed and keep my sanity. I though that moving to live in the country was going to take away the executive stress. I'm beginning to see that it's not quite as stress free as I'd imagined

Still it's the weekend and hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for us to get the new lawn mover into action.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Snogging for work

Talking to a colleague about the best techniques for winning business we strayed into the merits of snogging for business. Now before you start thinking this is a way of spicing up my blog, I'm talking about metaphorical snogging not the physical type.

It's true to need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. I've done a bit of that recently by labouring over the dreaded RFP - request for proposals in English - favoured by public bodies that have to be seen to be fair and accountable. These RFPs take an age to read (just imagine the level of Government gobbledegook there is) and when you think you've understood what they want you start to interpret it and put together the world's most fantastic solution to their problem that they are bound to leap at buying from you. Yeah right!

Let's just say you need to be selective about responding to RFPs. They so rarely deliver the rewards that the glitz of their paperwork suggests. Even when you might win the business those curly clauses in the contract always provide for them to back track and scale down the project till profitibility starts to seem away.

I'm pleased to say that I kissed a prince this week. It was a word of mouth referral to the company for leadership coaching for the top tier of a major professional services firm. How cool is that! And not an RFP in sight. Just simple clear request - one page proposal - a quick smackaroo on the cheek - and we're in business.

If only winning business was that simple all the time!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Fruit's of Bob's labour

My father in law was a determined gorse exterminator when staying with us. He'd dress up in long trousers and long sleeved shirt despite the hot weather and complete with baseball cap, gloves and mask he'd head of to the bottom of the garden with his spraying backpack on. A while later he'd trog back up the hill, refill the sprayer and set off again. He'd repeat this operation many times in his determination to attack our pesky gorse.

It has to be said that this was no round up he was using. It was the real farmers assault bio-weapon which turned the gorse a little queasy within a few days but after a couple of months it's turning from green to brown in a much more determined way. It's such a relief to know that all his hard labour is paying off - it could be a few more months before the plants start to rot away and then we'll have to start spraying the second row of gorse.

Gorse is a real bio-pest in New Zealand brought in by the British colonials to make hedges. Now we're over run with the nasty, prickly, invasive weed. We need to clear the gorse to be able to reclaim some of our land, in particular to allow the development of our kitchen garden which should enable us to start to grown our own food and live a more self-sufficient life.

Here are some pictures to show the demise of the gorse in action!