Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Wet, wetter, wettest

Our visit to the glacier at Franz Josef was greeted with some drizzle, but luckily we were still able to shoot some nice pictures. Both from the glacier and one of the nearby lakes, once formed by the glacier when it retreated.

From 201012 Down South

But as MetService predicted a 'significant event', we drove from Franz Josef via Haast to Queenstown. Around 500mm of rain was expected for the day and we've got some footage that will give you some idea of the road conditions following this deluge...! But, the currently available Internet connections are not up to scratch and do not allow us to post it at this stage. More later.
Here's another impression instead - a more poetic one: a wharf building at Okarito lagoon.

So, it was yesterday that we arrived in Queenstown, and although this morning it was still wet, we braved the elements and walked to town centre to have a look around. On the way back however the weather Gods were relentless: we got soaked and one of our umbrellas did not survive the trip back. An Irish lady gave us a ride for a few hundred metres which reduced our exposure to the cold and wet by a couple of minutes. Nevertheless the clothes are still hanging in front of the oil heater.
Our accommodation is great though: warm and spacious - it even has double glazing. A real safe haven for when the weather doesn't want to play nice.

This afternoon it really cleared and so we went for another attempt and this one succeeded! And tomorrow is promising to become a real fine day. Probably one for a trip to Glenorchy.

--Age


Monday, 27 December 2010

Road trip through S-Island

A quick update: we're in Franz Josef at the moment and will drive to Queenstown today with exceptional rainfall - they're expecting up to 500 mm in 24 hours or so. We'll see how far we can get - from our hotel room to the car we definitely need our swimming gear as the lawn in between resembles a pool. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010

Logburner

Ordered mid-winter and installed mid-summer: our new logburner! Not that it usually takes this long to get the thing installed, but our installer's business went down. Luckily for us we didn't buy the woodburner itself from him, otherwise it would have been byebye to our money and burner!

As explained previously we had to get a new clean green burner, as the burner that was present in the house when we bought it didn't comply with the new emission regulations. So we weren't allowed to use it. We couldn't decide whether to get a woodburner, pellet burner, heatpump or other form of heating, but finally decided on a woodburner again. It's such a nice heat that comes out of it, doesn't make noise and is cheap to run. And people love their woodburner, it's a popular form of heating.

So, after the council inspected and approved the installation of the fire last week we were allowed to use it! The manual of the fire told us that for first time use it'll be necessary to open all doors and windows, as any paint and other residues inside the firebox would burn off. Better not leave that for a cold wintry day, so we thought let's try it now! Okay, it was about 20 degrees in the house, but it had been raining all day so it didn't feel very pleasant inside.

It was the scariest thing ever, I really thought the house would burn down! The new fire and flue (chimney thing) are definitely way better than the old one, so we hardly needed matches to light the fire. It's also a bigger firebox and the fire is much better to see because of the big clean glass door, the fire itself was all very impressive. And then the paint started to burn off, I was in the kitchen and turned to look at Age in the lounge and could hardly see him because of the blue smoke coming from the burner. So yes, we really had to open all doors and windows. And even then we could feel heat radiating our way.

After a while I got less nervous about our bright fire, the smoke subsided, we had it all under control, we could close a couple of doors and windows, and when we noticed we'd made it 26 degrees inside we unanimously declared that our fire passed the test.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Golden Bay

Below an impression of our few days away with Age's parents in Golden Bay. Stunning scenery!


1) On Takaka Hill - a lookout over the Tasman Bay
2) We had a nice unit in Pohara and enjoyed a light meal on our deck


3) Farewell Spit seen from the visitor centre
4) We went to Farewell Spit to have coffee and cake at the visitor centre, but our main goal of the day was a walk to Wharariki Beach, on the Western coast of Golden Bay.
5-10) Wharariki Beach was the most fantastic unspoilt beach ever! Unsafe for swimming, but otherwise superb!




Besides Farewell Spit on the Western side of Golden Bay there is also the Abel Tasman National Park on the Eastern side. Abel Tasman Park is accessible from two sides: Tasman Bay (the Nelson side) and Golden Bay. So on our last day in Golden Bay we went for a little drive towards Totaranui, one of the bays in the Abel Tasman Park where you can pick up the Abel Tasman coastal walking track. We didn't have enough time to get there, so we checked out Wainui and Tata beaches instead. Funny how the sand on these beaches is similar to that on the other side of Tasman Park (Kaiteriteri and Marahau); very golden and quite coarse. And how different this sand is from that in Pohara (only a few kilometers away), which was grey-ish, and from Wharariki Beach, which was incredibly fine and white.



We definitely need to go back to Golden Bay as there is much more to see and do! We totally understand why it is one of the popular holiday destinations for Kiwis!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Around the house

A lot has happened since Age's parents arrived here, ranging from taking care of us in terms of cooking, cleaning, gardening, washing and so forth, to a lot of DIY (handyman-ity). Besides all that the garden has exploded, especially the flowers! And to top it up we have worked hard to incorporate all our IKEA stuff in the lounge and study.


1) The pots on the verandah are doing great!
2) Insanely huge and great smelling peonies in a bunch of flowers from my colleagues. I'd like to have these in my garden!
3) No piano in the lounge anymore, but a new and fresh looking bookcase.


4) Cute piece of art 'A moment adrift'


5) Hanging basket, lots of roses on the pergola; just a piece of garden
6) We've shifted the dinner table, made it bigger and added three bar stools in the kitchen. Sooo much better!
7) Lovely bunch of flowers on the table, with another insanely huge peony


8) Ah well...
9) A gazillion roses! The whole bunch is humming and buzzing with bees and bumble bees
10) Another version of 'A moment adrift'

And finally we're soon off for our 'short break', just before Age's parents fly back again to a cold and dark Holland.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Short break coming up!

We're looking forward to a short break this week, where we'll be packing our cars on Thursday (yes, two cars, one for Age and myself, and the other one for Age's parents) and decide there and then at the end of our driveway whether we'll turn left or right. In other words, we don't know yet where we'll be going.

Why two cars? Age and I need to get back to work at some stage and Age's parents would like to visit relatives in the Christchurch area, so they'll add a couple of days.

They've been really spoilt thus far with the weather in those two weeks they've been here. Summarised: sunshine! And last weekend we hit the 25 degrees; excellent for beach walks, bbq and dozing in a hammock.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Age's parents have arrived

.... In sunny Nelson!! Everything went well during their trip, and after a nice meal and drinks and nibbles they crashed into their bed.

We have just had a lovely breakfast with pancakes outside in the sun, will have a look at the beach later on and fire up the good ol' bbq. All good :-)


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Sunday, 17 October 2010

More getting ready for visitors

We've worked hard this weekend! Our guest bed arrived this week, but before we could put it up in the guest room we really had to reorganise the garage (!) first. Sounds strange, I know, but we needed to shift some junk and a single bed from the guest room to make room for a queen size bed.

I hate starting those kind of jobs where you don't know where to start really. But it wasn't too bad actually and we made great progress in gorgeous weather. We put an ugly little cabinet on the curb outside for people to take away for free, and it didn't take long for an elderly man to stop and grab it! His wife will be very pleased, not :-)

Then Age had to play tennis and I cleaned up the guest room and put the bed up. When I was very busy proof sleeping the bed, he came home way too early!

So after a quick rest Age decided it was time to get rid of a mountain of mulch, which had been laying on our driveway for two months or so. It was mulch from our own garden, when we had some guys in to trim and prune trees, shrubs and bushes. It was almost enough for the whole front garden!

Then today Age spent the day on his computer: taking it apart and putting it together again (or so...). And I bought new curtains for the guest room and made them shorter. The room is looking really good now, the right colour and size curtains make a big difference - we had some strange coloured and oddly shaped curtains hanging there for the sake of having something.
And now it's time to put my feet up!


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Monday, 11 October 2010

Getting ready for summer and visitors




Besides working and mentally being busy with pregnancy-related stuff, we are slowly preparing our house and garden for summer and visitors. What have we been up to?

We bought garden furniture, which, as soon as it was delivered and set up, we haven't been able to using it due to horrible weather. Two weeks later the sun returned and now our terrace is the place to be. We also put the tarp up, so we're definitely pretending that summer's arrived. A big hit is the bistro set on the verandah, it looks lovely, fresh flowers on the table and no sun on your head as the sun is already too high up in the sky and thus being blocked by the verandah roof.


The building consent for our new woodfire has arrived, and the woodfire itself too. This week a plumber will disconnect the wetback connection - that is a waterpipe running from the hot water cilinder through the woodfire, heating the water up with the fire when that's going. Our new woodfire doesn't have a wetback, as we found out that it doesn't save that much electricity, but makes the heat output of the fire about 30% less efficient. Then next week we'll have someone to replace the fire.

Then also next week or the week after we can expect our IKEA stuff to arrive: bookcases for the study and living room, a carpet, and bar stools, and I thought a lot more than that although I can't remember what exactly! A major shift of stuff can then begin - also the piano needs to be shifted from the main house to the study, as there's no room for it anymore when the bookcase in the lounge is set up.

What else... o, we bought a very special guest bed - we'll talk about that later, when it arrives :-)

And we've used the muscular build of James and Age, who were walking around in the garden this weekend with very large and heavy pots to put them on a nice new spot on the verandah, directed by me (a bit more to the left, now a bit more right, hmm I don't like them here, let's put them somewhere else, etc). When we moved house in March we just dropped the pots more or less randomly in the garden, but now suddenly was the time to put them on display! The garden has exploded the last couple of weeks, almost everything is green now or flowering, and it won't take long before my roses will show off their fabulous flowers! So yesterday was my turn to spend the day in the garden, pottering around (literally), filling the pots with roses and petunias and more summery goodies.



James and Age used more of their unresistable muscles to get rid of a horrible tacky water feature, a near-naked nymph (spelling??) holding a can and if you switch the feature on then water comes out of the can and drops down in the 'pond' below. Brrrrr. Anyway, that's gone now. Age put it up on trademe and it sold within the hour! Can't believe there's a market for that. Another pot features now on this spot, together with (tiny) fresh lavender.



Monday, 20 September 2010

Daylight saving!!

Next weekend we're leaving the darkness behind us as we're going to daylight saving!!! That means an extra hour time difference with NL till you guys go to winter time in October.


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Life besides being pregnant :-)

We've had our week off, which was really nice. For me our holiday ended with a 2-day golf tournament, where Age had a lot of time for himself. Can't remember what he did, so it must have been good :-)
I played golf, but now and then it looked more like a swimming competition, my god how wet it was! Another wet start on Sunday, but suddenly the sun broke through and it got really hot and muggy. I was very glad to have a t-shirt in the car, as I thought I would die in those Singaporean conditions. Okay, it was only 18 degrees, but hey.

Then another week at work, Age in Wellington and I had my team over here for a few planning and strategy days. And now the start of yet another week, just dropped Age off at the airport. He'll be in Wton, then in Canberra and Sydney, and then in Wton again. Won't see him for 2 weeks!

He'll be in Canberra for work, but also..... to do some major shopping at IKEA in Sydney!! Yes, we have to go to Oz for IKEA, there's none in NZ and we desperately need book cases, bar stools and what more. You can't order online with IKEA, have to pick the items up in person, so that's what Age will be doing. Then he'll deliver the goods at a shipyard in Sydney, where everything will be shipped to NZ, all organised by ourselves. And yes, all this is still cheaper (I hope) than buying book cases here in NZ. There's not much choice, it's all crap and expensive too.
There is a 'company' called MYKEA here in NZ which advertises with exactly what we're doing, but then they'll be doing it for you - getting IKEA stuff in Oz. Well, we tried our best to do it with them, but they didn't deliver to their promise of replying within 3 days on our quote requests to start with, it took almost 4 weeks I think to get an incomplete quote, and after that the communication stopped altogether. That was a waste of time really, so shame on you MYKEA.

The book cases are the first things on our list of things to organise. This will set a chain of events in motion and finally we'll end up with a nice baby room at the end of the chain. But that's months away.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Quake is still big news here

Still in the news is the earthquake of last Saturday in Christchurch. There have been numerous big aftershocks, causing mainly anxiety amongst the already pumped-up population. But what becomes clear now is that almost two-third of the buildings in the region are affected by the quake, and demolition on a big scale has begun. Especially older brick structures, like cathedrals and churches have been damaged, but I've also seen seemingly undamaged houses being demolished - looking closely it becomes visible that the whole house was leaning over 10 degrees, or had been lifted during the quake and put down 2 meters further, rocked from its foundations.

It'll be in the news for a while and the aftermath of the quake will probably be a huge boost for the slow going building industry!


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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

We are enjoying our holiday

We both have this week off, and after some discussion decided to stay at home, do some work around the house and explore a bit more of the area we live in. Thus far it's quite a success :-)

I played golf on Saturday, and Age tennis. I can't remember what we did on Sunday, which probably is a good sign???

On Monday we went to Nelson to have a look at a certain van (a people mover which converts into a campervan). But the van hadn't arrived yet, so we drove off and headed to Cable Bay, just north of Nelson. We made some pretty pictures, but we have no idea why it is a bit of a destination, as we couldn't find much of interest there.

Then yesterday we decided to walk a part of the Abel Tasman track, so we drove to Marahau and were just in time for the last water taxi of the day (we didn't plan it this way to be honest). That was quite a lucky coincidence, as we don't really like to walk for 2 hours and then walk the same route back. Now the taxi dropped us off in Anchorage Bay and we walked the 4 hours back to town.

It was the most stunning weather, 18 degrees or so, and being on the water in a speedy water taxi is not bad at all. After we'd been dropped off at the beach we started with our sandwiches, sunscreen and DEET.

The track is pleasant and well maintained and both Age and I were enjoying ourselves. But then, not even halfway, I suddenly got some huge blisters on the sole of my feet! And I was wearing Teva sandals - never experienced anything like this before! Pregnancy related??? Anyway, this made the walk even more interesting...
The last hour felt more like crawling than anything else, and standing still was not an option, that made it even worse.
But we made it back to the car, just when the sun started to set.

And today was a day in and around the house: vacuuming (I think the last time we vacuumed must have been over 2 months ago - full bag if that's an excuse)
We did some weeding, mowed the lawns, and....found the perfect spot for the hammock: on the plum tree. I've tried it out and it was just as if I was back in my student room where this particular hammock served as my bed!! Well, I've still got it, haven't used it since, but it looks like it gets a new lease of life:-)


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Monday, 6 September 2010

In and around the house




Huge rainbow on one of my lunch walks in the neighbourhood.



Ziva makes sure she's safely secured to Age's knee.



I asked Age repeatedly to make a picture of me and this is the least stupid one out of a gazillion attempts. Still a bit of a weird angle though.



My yellow rhododendron is flowering!



And it is all yellow....(coldplay)



Ziva helps out in the garden, near the new little magnolia tree.



The plum tree gets leaves again and has tiny white flowers.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Earthquake in Christchurch

As the whole world would know by now, a 7.1 quake hit Canterbury with most damage reported in Christchurch. We both woke up because of it, around 4.40am this morning, while the house and the bed were shaking. To us it felt like a 5 on the Richter scale or thereabouts. But when you find out it happened 500 kms from home, you can understand it was quite a jolt.

Although it's a mess in Christchurch, no casualties have been reported so far. Most damage was done by brick chimneys falling off and through roofs. And as usual it's the older brick buildings that show the most damage: especially the town centre of Christchurch shows some badly damaged buildings. And these are the pictures that you would see on the news or Internet.

People are most worried about the sewage and water systems: the damage to those is not immediately visible. But since some roads have craters and crevices in them, you can imagine what may have happened to the piping systems underground. That is also going to take the longest to fully restore.

The most damaging earthquake since the one in Napier in 1931 - but definitely not as bad.

Here are some links to news stories if you want some more information:

And if an earthquake wasn't enough, today nine people were killed near Fox Glacier when their plane crashed at the end of the runway. Not a good day for New Zealand.

-- Age & Evelijn

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Haircut!

It was time for some drastic measurements, with a serious haircut as a result. Have taken a few pics of myself but these are too horrible to publish, unfortunately for you, hehehe.


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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A baby on the way

Yes, that's right, there is a little mainlander (as they call people from the South Island) on the way :-)

Estimated due date: 11 feb '11.

For pregnancy related talk see also our new blog http://thepregnantwriter.blogspot.com


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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The winter garden

Heavenly smelling Daphne



A gazillion lemons!



Can't remember the name of this plant suddenly.



Lovely helleboris :-)




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Sunday, 1 August 2010

Stormy weather and more

In short:
Ziva is grumpy as it has been raining hard the whole day. She tested the waters a couple of times but came back inside very quickly.
(ziva in her favourite spot in the kitchen)


We've bought an oldfashioned handmower. Got sick of the balancing act with the power cable.

Age has secured a couple of contracts, one being a project management role for the upcoming six months in Wellington, three days a week!

We took someone on to give the garden a big winter/spring clearout, especially trimming all the trees. That'll be quite nice for the trees :-)

We have finally decided on the make and model of a new woodfire, as ours is not clean enough pollution-wise. We already have a new pile of firewood, which took Age a couple of hours to transfer from the driveway to the woodshed. Isn't there a saying about the usefulness of wood as a source of heat? Something about getting warmth 3x: from cutting it, stacking it, and burning it.
(two stacks of wood, behind each other)


We also decided on tiles in the conservatory, with underfloor heating. We don't like the current carpet and we hope to get it a bit warmer in there. Curtains are probably necessary too. The temperature range in there during an average winter day is incredible: 3 degrees in the morning up till 26 in the afternoon. And yes, the conservatory is insulated, but it's all single glazing.

What else...

And I somehow managed to win the Bronze B-final of the club champs with golf. Because my opponent had to be somewhere else *sigh*. Looking forward to my prize :-)
I've already won one golfball once, and the unbelievable amount of 6 dollars. Maybe it's a meat pack this time!



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Monday, 19 July 2010

Independent

Today marked the 'formal' end of my real estate career. Six months is perhaps not really a career yet, but it was a decent attempt. It's also half a year and that felt long enough to conclude that it probably wasn't going to be a viable option for the near future. Having had one sale, heaps of new experiences (many out of my normal comfort zone) and having met many people and created many new relationships, it wasn't all for nothing - in the contrary.

What helped making this decision was the fact that I got offered two weeks of contracting in Australia: one day in Sydney, four days in Melbourne and three days in Toowoomba, near Brisbane. It meant being fully emerged in Information Technology and Project Management again, but it was an awesome experience: I enjoyed it actually very much and realized that this is probably what I'm really good at, something that comes natural - so why not try to do this more often?

That made the decision a lot easier. And so today I've cleared out my desk at the real estate office in Mapua and will now be focused on finding some more of these attractive contracting jobs. Anyone...?

--Age

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Very briefly

Today is oma's birthday - 95 or something like that! Hurrayyyyy!!!
And while Northern Europe is melting in a heatwave, we're just adding another piece of wood on the woodburner :-)

Last week Age's been in Sydney and Melbourne, came home on Saturday, really the only thing we did today was all his washing so that he can pack his bag again for another week in Oz, now being Brisbane. Okay that was a bit exaggerated, we had some pancakes for breakfast, I did a bit of gardening, ripping out an ugly climber, while Age prepared for his next trip. Then he went off for a game of tennis, while I was being lazy and read my book.

Tomorrow morning early we'll see a glimpse of the football finale before heading off to the airport once again.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Downtown Wellington

Just one pic from my 3 days in wton. It looks quite like a very big city, don't you think so?


Anyway, three days with miserable drizzle and grey skies, enough to get anyone on to anti- depressants, although it became sunny yesterday to be fair.

The metservice site has a great weathercam in Nelson, it takes a picture every 10 mins and you can follow the weather during the day by scrolling with the mouse. Click on the link 'the weather in nelson' in the menu on the right and then select the weathercam on the page that has opened.

So I had a look at clear skies and sun in Nelson now and then to free myself from these oppressive grey masses in wton. Made me very jealous of Age.

To finish it all off i encountered a big fat woman next to me in the bus to the airport and another obese lady next to me on the plane. Grrr.


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Monday, 28 June 2010

More winter flowers

Camellia in our own garden with huge flowers!

Another camellia, purple with smaller double flowers

Promising bulbs - hyacinten??


Scary garden troll.

Oyster catchers on the beach.


Loads of shells yesterday on Rabbit Island.