Brr it's been cold and wet today. Nothing new you may be thinking but with snow across the South Island and even on our own Rimutaka Hill I think it's safe to declare winter has arrived.
Tornados were threatened which worried me today as I walked to the Westpac Stadium today to for a Catapult gig espousing the value of values. The walkway to the Stadium is one of the most exposed in Wellington where being blown off your feet (literally) can be your fate if you're unlucky to be caught by a strong gust of wind. I clung to the railings at one point until the wind died down and then tried to walk away looking cool and calm. You never know who might have been watching me struggle in the wind and drizzle.
By the time I got home this afternoon it was full pelt rain and certainly not dog walking weather. It's the chickens I felt most sorry for huddled in their chicken house squat on their roosting rail looking out at the cold and wind. Chickens don't like the damp, a bit like basset hounds and Domestic Executive's really!.
Forecast is to improve whic will mean I can put off any longer some of those outdoor chores I've been avoiding with the icy blast.
Today is Fortnum and Mason's 9 month birthday. It's hard to believe that they've been part of our household for over 6 months now. I can hardly remember what life was like before the bassets came along.
A quick review of the basset pics shows just how much they've grow from those cute bundles of mischief into the lolloping hounds who lounge around the house creating havoc and upset.
It's fair to say it's been a learning curve, some of which I'd rather consign to my memory banks not to be resurrected again.
One thing is for sure, they've gone through beds like children go through shoes. Just when you think they've got the size to fit they wake up the next morning and don't fit any more. They started on a small cushion that fitted them both then progressed gradually to their enormous size day bed that they love to curl up in. That's of course when their not blowing hot air onto my ankles under desk in Domestic Executive HQ.
As they've grown they've kept their cheeky faces but their habits get more disgusting all the time. Can't wait till they start slobbering as mature boys. It's bad enough at the moment when they've had a quick drink and then want to share the excess by shaking their heads.
Still every day they make my heart melt in some way. Today it was Fortnum bounding across the grass at Tunnel Gulley when we were out for their walk. Also when Mason stuck out his lizard like basset tongue to since he'd obviously decided it was time my face needed another wash. Oh gross. I know where he puts that tongue!!
I wish they hadn't grown up so much it would be so handy just to scoop them up like we could when they first arrive. I'm afraid I'm not that strong to lift dead weights of over 30kg - regardless of the waratah bashing training done this weekend!
After the arm aching efforts in the garden I was pleased to have some comfort on my feet this weekend. On Saturday my lovely slippers finally arrived from their long journey from the USA.
Regular bloggers will recall how the Tale of Two Slippers started. New readers can catch up here.
It's fair to say that online shopping in the US and shipping to NZ was a bit of an experiment to see if the system worked. I'm pleased to say it does but takes rather longer than you might imagine and doesn't necessarily save you hoards of money.
Fortuantly the slippers themselves were a bargain and it was free shipping in the US. When you add the shipping costs they came out about the same cost if I'd had someone buy them for me in the UK and post them out. At least this way it saved my family and friends from slipper shopping.
Now I have my new Acorns I'm seriously thinking of starting NZ import. I can't believe there aren't kiwis out there who'd like a lovely pair of stylish feet warmers for these winter days and nights.
Fortnum and Mason think that they are really cool. Well actually nice and soft and warm. Idea for them to rest their heads on under the DE desk and snooze a litte. Since Fortnum dribbled on one when sleeping I'm keeping the bassets off my cosy slippers in future!
Would I do it again? Where slippers are concerned, oh yes indeedee! A girl must have her creature comforts! And, I'm sure for those other specialist items you either can't get or are so expensive here in New Zealand.
This dinky flower on our Leptosermum Huia was the one bright spot in the garden this weekend. Apart from this is was simply hard graft, rain and lots of pain.
We managed to get the final tree holes dug and planted. Then came the tricky bit to put in the stakes to keep them protected from the Wellington winds. The landscapers recommended Y Shaped Steel Fence Posts, commonly known as Waratahs and we have two for every tree to keep it safe and sound.
Sinking waratahs into the ground is best done with a special Waratah driver. This is a metal gizmo that weighs about 10 kg.
Picture this. 40 trees, two stakes and for every stake is takes around 20 bashes with the 10 kg driver. I don't want to split hairs on the amount of metal I lugged around let's just say my arms were levitating at the end as the muscle memory kicked in and thought that's what my arms were suposed to carry on doing.
Rain stopped play (I mean work) on occasions which made the job harder and more miserable than it might otherwise had been. Looking on the brightside. The trees are in and well watered. Now all I need is some arm rest for the remainder of the week.
Although a little earlier than I was expecting our second delivery of trees came on Friday. It's been all hands and paws on deck for tree planting as these trees came bare root so there was no time to waste before getting them into the ground.
Given there was 40 to plant I brought in the lovely John from the landscaping firm to dig the holes and help with the planting and staking. He did a sterling job and got us ready for what turned out to be a late in the day delivery.
You just can't do justice photographing the trees as they are simply sticks in the ground. You'll just have to take my word that it's starting to transform the place and give much needed structure to the landscape around the house. I can't wait till spring when they start to come into life. Then I'll be able to share the tree vistas.
Anyway, here's some photoblogging to show our efforts of the last couple of days.
MT taking five after digging holes and planting
Note the difference in pose - me getting stuck in!
Some of the smaller trees lined up for planting in the new area cleared after the gorse harvest
People say that they start to look like their dogs - can you see the resemblance?
Talking about the bassets, you might be wondering what they've been contributing to the horticultural endevours.......
"So what's this hole, can we put our bones in here?"
"Do you mean this hole I'm stuck in?"
"Hmm, much safer just sniffing the breeze"
"You talking to us? We're not doing anything, honest!"
"Nah, I think this hole is better for the bones. He seems better at digging them than her. Closer to the house too!"
We have planted all the trees but they need staking to be protected from the Wellington winds heading our way. Staking trees, that's a whole different story. Tune in bloggers for the next installment!
Today was quite a big day - our residency approval in principle came through. All we need now is a new stamp in our passports and pay our migrant levy and we are home and dry.
We're celebrating with fush n chups and champagne. Hmm.. what a combination!
I took this picture from one of the walks with the dogs this week. It's Kaitoke looking towards the Rimutakas. Not a bad view and probably sums up for me what coming to New Zealand is all about. Being able to walk my bassets in the middle of the day in the middle of nowhere.
It's not everyone's cuppa but you need a compelling reason to live 12,000 miles away from family and friends and this is it for me.
A freezing blast has hit Kaitoke. It was -1 degrees on the car temperature this morning.
The irony is that whilst we're freezing here the ski fields of New Zealand are closed because the weather is not cold enough. Apparently that's set to change this weekend with snow in the high mountains so that the ski season can get underway.
For us living in the hills we need sunshine and nice soft ground. We've got more trees arriving tomorrow and the last thing we need is more freezing temperatures.
Doing my chores this morning was a little more fun than normal with all the frost to admire and see how the chickens and bassets behave in these less hospitable conditions.
As I write this blog the sun is out and the frost is melting from the roof. So good job I've got some photoblogging to remind me of this morning's adventures.
Frost on the lawn
Frost on my majority planting - thistles!
Frost on my Cordyline Australis
Frost on my kiwi hedge and soon to be salad and herb bed
Layered landscapes from frosty grass to native bush
"Morning George!" says Fortnum
Hot breakfast on a cold morning (last night's shepherds pie!)
George - tall and proud
George leading his ladies to the outside world of free ranging
It's been an Executive Day today and theme today has been "stress". I'm relieved to tell you this has been other people's not mine - although it was a bit of a stretch getting back in time to get the bassets from their pet angel!
I've got a "hotspot" about stress. This is coaching jargon for a subject matter that you have deep experience of and you can be prone to not being objective about. Stress is one of those things that I have to take care that I maintain a healthy objectivity about for my coaching clients since occupational stress is something I know a bit about.
That awful knot in your neck that won't go away. The annoying boss that says - let's look at your priorities or what else can I do to help. That screaming feeling in your head that shouts Ahhhhhhhhh! And then you feel better, for about five seconds.
Some people say that stress is a modern phenomena and in the old days people just got on with things and didn't get stressed. I'm not sure about that. I reckon that there are higher expectations upon people to do more and more and more and this brings with it pressure to achieve and perform that didn't exist previously. Or maybe we just expect more of ourselves than we used.
I want to know what happened to the society of leisure that was predicted in the 1980's that led me to take my undergraduate degree in leisure studies (aka a degree in throwing, running and catching). Back then we were suposed to start to have more free time and start enjoying life more. That certainly wouldn't have been a stressful life!
Now I am a Domestic Executive I count my blessings each day. Yes I too have pressure to meet my own expectations (and those others I share a home with) but it's nothing like having to deal with the consequences of other people's actions day in and day out, feeling the pressure build and have no way out.
My secret for dealing with stress is quite simple - come home to two basset hounds who wag their tails and smile their basset smile to show they are pleased to see you. Regardless of what may have been happening before you see this it melts away in moments and you can see that life can be sweet. I wonder whether I should be taking Fortnum and Mason to my coaching sessions as my secret weapon against stress?
Today was a beautiful day. Bright sunshine, almost clear blue skies and a light breeze. Just the day for taking Fortnum and Mason for a walk.
As I strolled along there was plenty of time to admire the views. You've got to understand the bassets need to take time with their sniffing you know. I still have to pinch myself sometimes that we live in the place we do. It's stunning in its vastness and the almost pre-historic vegetation makes it all the more wonderful. Not to mention that all this is right over my garden fence.
Shame MT was up in Dorkland in the cold, mist and rain!
Typical NZ fern trees
View down to Tunnel Gully
The boys dragging their paws to make the most of the day
Intensive sniffing at play
On the run to catch me up!
Aha, caught you!
Is is much further home, we're a bit tired and hot!
Home sweet home - just another five minutes walk away
I ran away from the UK to find a new life in New Zealand. The dream was to build a house in the country and run a business working from home. Two years after our arrival we're realising that dream - the house is built and business is underway. Just need to get rid of the gorse and thistles, create the kitchen garden, build the hen house .... the list goes on! Oh, did I mention we've got two basset hounds which was also part of the plan to live thr rural life.