Bits and pieces….

The last few days have disappeared somewhere

Seb arrived home Sunday night. It is lovely to have him back again.
He is so funny.
He has now done a week at a car mechanics and has decided he doesn’t want to do that.
He has spent a week at a diesel mechanics and has decided he doesn’t want to do that.
He is now planning to go spend a week with a motorcycle mechanic to eliminate that!
He has also spent some time on the net sussing out the NZNavy and is keen on looking into becoming a Weapons Technician. I asked him what the pre-requirements were and he said he didn’t know yet but as it involved all sorts of maths stuff he reckoned you would have to be a rocket scientist to join.
You can tell how much he loves maths, or any school work come to that

Anyway, we looked into it further and they require NZCA level 1 in Maths, English and Science. So not too painful – although by looking at his face when he saw that you would think he was having all his teeth pulled – the pain is pretty intense at the thought of having to actually study!

Monday morning Jon, Tobi, Barney & Lois packed and and headed to the ferry. They have been so great to have here, I do hope they enjoy their next wwoofing placements.
PICT1640_2

Shannie and Lois were sad to part, they had had such a great time. I was sad too cuz I barely saw the girls the whole time – they were too busy playing out in the playhouse. We found the two of them way up in the trees about to step out on some high ropes just before they all left. Someone asked Shannie if she was afraid of heights, she replied’ I don’t know yet’!

Here’s the bunch of raggle taggle gypsies along with Freddy who follows Shannie everywhere. Lois is 11 and Barney 14 – a fact our children had a hard time accepting as they towered over them!!
PICT1636_3 PICT1638

We have been having some mussel harvests over the past week so Tim was very glad to see Seb. Now Jon has left he needs him to help on the boat to get the floats untied etc. They have been going out most days as the weather has been nice and calm since the weekend.

There has been much reported over the past few days about the fire

I managed to get back into the school room on Tuesday. We had a reasonably good day. I have decided to go back to using the Weaver curriculum that I used with the older children. As I have already used it I know my way around it and was able to get into it with not too much hassle. Just checking it out again on the net thought it looks like it is being published by another company in a slightly different format. I found a forum though which could prove helpful for me. The children did well, although Shannie is now banned from any sugar prior to & during school hours and Nathan now has a bedtime curfew! The first unit is looking at the first city and then cities and city structure and map making etc. So the girls had a lot of fun doing a map of their bedrooms and Nate did one of the farm. It is interesting getting the wee ones to work out perspective. I had recently bought a DVD of Reader Rabbit on Phonics so Azzan kept busy with that which made my life a lot easier.

Tim had a phone call from Sunni’s boyfriend last night. Asking for his permission to marry our darling daughter
So it looks like there will be a wedding next year – cool eh? We like Ryan and think he is good for our strong willed, stroppy and very bright 2nd daughter. I hope they will be very happy Tim was chuckling because Ryan said that she was the feistiest woman he had even known – I was waiting for Tim to comment that he was married to the other one but he was very restrained. Guess there is no point in stating the obvious!

Today so far life has been very stressful for me. I guess I am just tired despite going to bed quiet early last night. The local police said they would be here at 10:30am to do Jesika and Tim’s firearms licence renewal and they put an order in for hot date scones (apparently they were remembered from a visit here many years ago). So I dutifully got them baked amidst the chaos which just seemed to be reigning merrily and very noisily this morning. Then they were late. But by the time they did arrive the girls had pretty much finished cleaning put the attic so I let them watch Azzan’s favourite movie ‘Singing in the Rain’ – kept them quiet while the police guys were here.

Then Jesika had a car full of junk she had cleaned out and wanted us to go through before she chucked it. Then I helped Nathan & Shannie to update their blogs and now it is my turn. Actually all I want to do is go and have a sleep but I won’t as there is too much to do. Instead I think I will go and do some art work as Nathan is doing the dinner veggies for me. Lovely boy Also, the major bonus of the police arriving late was that Jesika got in and folded the last 4-5 days of washing for me, it was piling up and beginning to landslide

Azzan has just come in and told me that there is a volcano exploding over at Pohenui. I said ‘Oh no! we better go hide under our beds’ to which he giggled away and said ‘don’t be silly it is at Pohenui, not at our place’!! Pohenui is actually just across the bay but I guess in his mind that is far enough away not to cause us any bother

He is now wandering around behind me saying repeatedly, ‘Bon Jour, Konnichiwa, Sayonara, Hola,’ My multi lingual 4 year old

Oh! almost forgot here is a photo of the Lodge with its final colour scheme. I really like it, warm and bright, fresh and clean.
_100_2048

PICT1267
Just to remind you of how different it is – here is the before pic again. – Yuck!

It’s been a hard days night…..

Well, it was a long night – or was it a short night – haven’t quite worked that one out yet!

Jesika and Vonnie were beating out errant sparks that were blowing towards us while Alvin & Jon were operating a hose. They got very cold and wet despite the heat from the fire. By around 1am there was not a lot more they could do so they came back to find their beds. The fire at our end was contained so they then took one of the pumps down to the other end to try and save the wool-shed.

Tim came and went a few times as he needed two way radios, drinking water, warm jackets etc and was being called on the phone by fire officers etc. He came back again with Jesika and got another vehicle cuz she had to go up the hill at 12:30am to wait for the fire appliances who were driving in from Renwick. People were coming in by road and boat from all over. The fire trucks didn’t arrive until around 1:30am and they were pretty glad to see her as they had no idea where to go.

Jesika took my camera back with her but it was very difficult to get any good shots without a tripod, and also she doesn’t know her way around my camera. But this is very pretty – until you realise it is large old pine trees blazing merrily and the wind is causing the sparking. The light at the bottom right is the motorbike operating the wojak pump.
PICT1532 PICT1553
The fire crew set up a makeshift reservoir at the wool-shed. We are very dry and there is not a lot of water in any of the creeks – one thing we do have a lot of here is sea water, so they were filling up their tanks with that.

I went off to bed around 2:30am. By this stage the front at our end was under reasonable control, the woolshed was okay but the wind was whipping the fire along towards Harding Point. Tim said at one point a gust hit and the fire leapt about 200m and took off in another block of trees. There were around 45 fire fighters plus the DoC fire appliances and several wojaks and no buildings being threatened so Tim & Jesika decided they couldn’t do any more.

I was sound asleep when Tim got back but woke to find the power was off so I dragged myself out of bed to call Marlborough Lines. Their rep was very jovial for 3:30am. The power was off right back to almost Rai Valley and he was hoping that the fire was not contributing to the outage. He merrily said that they hoped to have it on again in time for breakfast and it was.

We were woken by a thud at 7:30am when Azzan hit the floor so decided it was time to get up and have a shower. But then the phones began ringing – the fire had hit the breaking news. Jesika was interviewed over the phone for the 11am news, then various friends who had heard about the fire on the radio began calling. I finally got my shower and tried to get our day to some normality – but I actually don’t think I succeeded-!!

Jesika got to bed at 4 and had to be up again around 6:30am to see her fishing party off. This is what she woke to…
PICT1556 PICT1565
The helicopter had arrived at this stage but it couldn’t do anything as it was too windy. So it parked up on our airstrip for a while.
PICT1597
As you can see here the fire was pretty dramatic. Tim estimates it has burnt over 100 hec of land.
PICT1577 PICT1585

By mid morning Tim decided to head around and see if they needed his bulldozer and Alvin & Vonnie were making tracks back to civilisation.
PICT1601 PICT1606

We were just about to walk out the door to go up the hill when I got a call from TVOne news so had to fill them on what was going on. It is amazing though cuz from our house we cannot actually see anything. The trees are blocking the view. Whereas Graham and Jesika were getting great views of it all. Then we loaded the children aboard the Terrano and went up to the tailing yards to see what was happening. Thankfully it was getting under control. By this stage there were 3 helicopters working. They even came over as far as Waterfall Bay to fill the monsoon bucket.
PICT1611

PICT1619 PICT1628

Alvin & Vonnie finally left around midday and we came back home. Jesika decided she needed to go back to bed. Tim has come home and has succumbed to his pillow too. The children are happily playing up in the bush – thankfully they are quite happy with a few bits of bread and butter today. My head is beginning to ache so I may just have to go lie down for a while too.

Now the wind has dropped and the bay is so calm, the storm has abated on all fronts.

You can’t say life is ever dull around here eh?
Don’t need Saturday Night movies – we are quite able to organise our own entertainment

Home fires are burning – well!

Wow! I have just spent all day updating my blog – in between all the other stuff that life throws at me along the way during the day. Hope you are all impressed.

Ann, you queried about horses on our property. No, we do not have horses. It is way too steep. Farm is classified as 60 degree slopes. Years back in Tim’s grandfather’s time (before motor bikes and land rovers) they had pack horses but neither Tim nor I are interested so there is no intention of having any here for pleasure. Mahalia has been told that if she learns to ride and care for a horse then maybe once she is big enough and old enough to be totally responsible then we may think about letting her have one.

Since I came home I have been sorting mail and cataloguing books I have bought, doing washing and sorting the mountain of it once dry. Thankfully the girls are beginning to become neat freaks – well, with a little persuasion – and they put away all of their own clothes. We won’t mention what my bedroom looks like. I will get to it soon but there is just far too much else to do first – and if the clothes are in piles on the floor then I don’t have to fossick through drawers to find them

We have a family from the UK wwoofing here at the moment. While I have been away Tobi has been helping Jesika painting at the Lodge but today she stayed here to help me. Jon has been working with Tim on the mussel boat and with Graham, who is trying to get all of our fires legal so we can get the building inspector down this week to sign them all off. I have had the paper work here for absolutely ages but there is always something more important on the guys ‘to do’ list. So a few weeks ago I put my foot down with a firm hand and said this has got to be done – NOW! Absolutely pointless paying insurance on property when the fires are not permitted. Graham was very excited when he discovered Jon was a plumber and he had some expert help on the job.

Barney is 14 and he has spent his entire time here fishing. Either on the wharf or on the boat when the guys are mussel working. Lois (11) and Shannie have just played so well and since we arrived home all of the girls have been inseparable and have hardly been inside. The playhouse has been maxed for once

My cousin Alvin and Vonnie arrived here on Tues to stay in The Croft. They both are employed in very stressful jobs so have been enjoying the peace and quiet. It has been so good getting to know them after 20 years of no contact. They have been around for dinner the past two nights and create a lot of hilarity. Vonnie is a delightful nutcase and Alvin is quietly droll!

Jesika came for dinner tonight and we were just getting the young ones off to bed and cleaning up when the phone went. It was our neighbour Mark in a panic because he had a very large out of control fire burning at Te Kopi low neck.

So Tim, Jesika, Alvin, Vonnie & Jon got rugged up and took off to help. It has been a drama and is still happening as I write. There is a heap of felled old man pine trees heavy with resin and large piles of branches and debris all of which are very combustible. More neighbours arrived by boat with some wojak pumps and more fire fighters are coming. The wind is very strong and gusty and if our guys hadn’t gotten this end of it under control it would’ve been heading this way extremely quickly.

At this point they seem to have it under control at this end and at midnight Jesika went up the hill to meet the 2 fire trucks that have come in from Blenheim and show them the way. Alvin, Vonnie & Jon came home at 1am as there was nothing more they could do but Tim & Jesika are still around there. The wind is still gusting and according to Jon the fire is very large and heading towards the wool-shed so they have a crew around there dousing and trying to steer it away. It is too dangerous to get helicopters in tonight so they are on standby for the morning. Tim is not anticipating getting back home till morning as it is buring quite ferociously and he won’t be happy until he sees it is totally under control.

Not much I can do but pray, so I am off to bed now as someone will have to be on deck in the morning and I don’t think it will be Tim.

Wednesday – our last day in Christchurch

I decided when I got up that we needed to start heading towards home so we packed up and went on into Chch to meet up with a friend for lunch. We met at a cool garden centre Cafe Terra Viva. It was such a lovely place with scrummy food and it was so good to see Jude again and catch up on all the family news. I realised how long it was since I had seen her when I discovered to my horror that her husband had died in 2004 and I never knew. Sometimes time gets in the way and we miss so much. Mike was such a strong man, to be cut down in 5 months by cancer is so hard for Jude. Thankfully she has family and grandchildren close by and her daughter returning from UK soon to live.
I managed to catch a photo of Jude with my two ratbags just before leaving the cafe.
PICT1514

We then went into the city centre and found MapWorld. I was wanting to get some decent sized clear maps of NZ and had already spoken with them on the phone. We got 2 maps and then back to the car. It was the 2nd time I had used a carpark building in two days and hadn’t been charged for it – I guess if you are there less than an hour it is free. A bonus!

We then went on to Stanmore Rd and found Aunty Rona at home in her wee room. We invited her out for coffee – that made her smile even more than usual! She negotiated her walker out to the car and hopped aboard and we drove down to Mokka. I was able to park right by the door and helped her manoeuvre her way up the steps where we spent a pleasurable time enjoying Bethany & Lydia’s service. Aunty Rona decreed their cappuccino to be Very Good

PICT1515

PICT1513 PICT1517

Before we left Azzan was giving Aunty Rona big smooges and tickle hugs – hence the slightly blurry photo.
PICT1519

We took Aunty Rona home again, the long way and then headed north. We arrived at Waipara around 5pm and stayed the night with Ross & Lenore. Mahalia had been very droopy all day, I had been worried that she may be sickening for something so I gave her a bath and she had a small dinner and then happily went to bed. I finally managed to get Azzan off to bed as well and then enjoyed a lovely evening with the William’s family.

Next morning we got on the road by 9am and drove straight to Kaikoura. Stopped in to visit Yvonne & Scott ( the owner’s of the B&B Tim & I had stayed in a few months back). Ended up having lunch with them before travelling on to Blenheim. We got there around 3pm and had 2 hours to do a heap of jobs for Tim & Jesika plus go to the library and get groceries. So it was close to 6pm before we left town. We stopped and had a meal at Slip Inn in Havelock. Then I cuddled the children down with their blankets, plugged in my iPod and drove home. Up till then Azzan had been using my iPod, it is a great way to keep him entertained while travelling so I decided it was my turn and he could sleep. It was funny cuz Mahalia did what I said and was asleep in moments and then as I was driving along her wee feet would kick out in my direction and I would have to fend them off and out of the way of the wheel and gear stick!

Anyway, we got home, unpacked and had a mountain of mail and emails etc to deal with. Tim & Nathan went off to bed soon after. I cannot just come home and go straight to bed – I have to have unwinding space so I finally got to bed around midnight.

Tuesday – our shopping day

We headed into Chch for a shopping day on Tuesday. I was wanting to find a book called Paper fashions by Klutz. So I went to Whitcoulls in Northlands. No, they didn’t have it but on the computer it showed up 1 in Westfield and 2 in Cashel St. So after paying for the pile of other books I found in the bargain bin we headed off to Westfield. On the way Tim called and asked me to pick up two fire hoses. Zipped into Westfield – ‘Oh, no! we can’t find it. If it says just one on the computer it is probably a mistake’ So after paying for more books from their bargain bin and making sure they had phoned ahead to hold the book for us we drove on down to Addington to get the hoses. Then into the city centre to Cashel st. Zipped into Cashel St Whitcoulls and found THE book, plus a few more from their bargain bins-!! So in the end the one book which should have cost me $29.95 ended up costing $275 – oops! We needed a frappacino by then so walked down to Starbucks on the way back to the car.

By then we were ready to go meet up with Nicky and the children at Mokka cafe. Like Laserstrike it is owned by the family and run by Bethany & Lydia. It is a really cute wee boutique cafe and the girls have such a lovely flair, it gets very busy so we try to avoid the rush traffic and arrive after 2pm.

From there we went on down to Sydenham and spent some time in the Christian Superstore and got some more books – mainly for me this time, all the others had been children’s books. We had a very fast 10 mins at Spotlight before closing time. It was very funny. They had some lovely fancy yarn on special. A very good special it was too. So I got a heap of it for Holly as she is making the most beautiful knitted shawls and is hoping to start a wee business. Hali and I had problems trying to juggle all the slippery packets of yarn and decided what colours we had and wanted and yarn was falling out of our arms and all over the place. It was fun and she is still giggling about it

By this time it was 5:30pm and getting dark so he got onto the motorway and headed to Sumner to have dinner with Edward, Liza and the boys. We had a yummy meal, fun catch up and then hit the road back out to Loburn at 7:30pm as all the children were getting very tired. It is years since I had been out to Sumner and despite the darkness I could see that it has really developed and gone ahead. There is also now a direct motor route north so it only took me an hour to get back to Loburn.

The children were sleeping when I got back so it was very easy to get them in to bed. Although Azzan remembered that I had promised him some yoghurt which had to be eaten first!

Mahalia’s special day

We woke early to a real humdinger nor-wester wind storming across the plains. We got organised quickly and headed westwards to Oxford. It was so cool to see my special friend Emma again. She lives so far out in the boon docks (Okay! maybe not as fast as we do, but when you are visiting Chch it is quite a way out of our way) that I haven’t seen her is soooooooo long.

We had a very enjoyable morning. She has 8 children all ages and stages so mine just slotted right on in. Although it did take Azzan a while to warm up which is so unlike him. Once he decided that Emma would be good for a cuddle and a tickle then he relaxed and got in and played. The girls got all their Duplo out and soon the floor was full of busy wee folk creating amazing things. After lunch the younger ones got out the drawing things and Azzan was very happy to stay with them and play while I took off with the older girls and Mahalia.
PICT1486 PICT1488
The two gorgeous boys – Jacob (2) and Issac (4).

PICT1489
Cute Celia (6) with the lovely big eyes

This was what Mahalia had been living for. Her first riding lesson. She has never been on a horse before so she was very excited. Holly (18) works for the Kowhai Farm riding school which is conveniently next door. So she had permission to take Mahalia for nix. Very special day indeed!

Here’s Mahalia & Greta (11) in the tack room
PICT1490
and learning how to groom her pony Paddington.
PICT1495
The next big step – getting on for the very first time with Holly’s assistance…
PICT1499

PICT1501
Look – I’m on

Now being led down to the riding ring.
PICT1506 PICT1508 PICT1510
As Amber (16) and were driving back to the house we looked down and saw her circling the ring with Elsie (9) on the other horse. When she was telling me about it later she said that she was bumping up and down and did I see her bumping up and down? I said “I think that was trotting honey.”

She had a wonderful time and came back very exhilarated and excited at the prospect of coming back again. Emma kindly offered for her to come stay so she can have more lessons. The girls spent the rest of the afternoon with play harnesses pretending to train themselves as horses. We finally dragged ourselves away about 5pm and headed back to the Wenborn’s for dinner. The children were very glad to get to bed. It had been a busy but very happy day.

Sunday

The Safari was loaded to the hilt on Sunday morning. Somehow Tim squeezed in 6 of them plus all the gear and left just after 9am. At least they would all be cosy for the trip

Azzan & I popped into Rangiora and went to church where Brianna goes. Azzan went off to Sunday School with her so had lots of fun. Afterwards, we had to go do some car stuff at the garage and then got some groceries, popped into see Brenda & Nick (Josiah’s grandma) and pick up a heap of books I had bought off her on TradeMe. Then we zipped back up to Loburn for lunch and just hung out for the afternoon. Bri arrived soon after and then Louisa with Mahalia, Madeline and George. We had a cuppa and chatted with Nicky and then had a wander around the garden while Nicky showed us what they had done and what they have planned to do. It is great what they have done. Looks so good already. The children had heaps of fun playing in Nicky’s pile of sand. I think it is sposed to be for concreting the mosaics!
PICT1484

We had a very chilled out relaxing day which was good.
The children needed to have some less rushed time without all the travelling.

Nicky & I decided to go to Kaiapoi to the movies. We left Dave with the dinner and children and enjoyed a lovely few hours with ‘Miss Potter’. It is such a delightful movie. Thoroughly recommend it if you haven’t yet seen it. On our way home we stopped in and had a cuppa with Ruth (Nicky & Dave’s eldest daughter). It was nice to catch up. She is expecting No2 very soon – most exciting

Tim had a good trip home, dropping Mum off in Blenheim and Seb at Pelorus and Jesika at Waterfall – they made it safely in by dinner time, so that was good.