Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Well - the hockey prizegiving on Saturday went very well... That's the first cup I've won since primary school, and it even has my name engraved on it! I'm chuffed to bits.

The rest of the week has been interesting - I worked from home for two days due to a severe sore throat and lost voice - it was amazing how much more productive I was when I didn't have to talk to people or answer emails! The illness did mean that once again I didn't get to TKD - I'm feeling very part time at the moment. I'm looking forward to the warmer weather and a possibility of not being ill quite so often, particularly mid week!

Saturday was very busy, cleaning the house, cooking and generally preparing for John to host the Phoenix Sci-Fi PIG social, while I was off gallivanting at the hockey prizegiving. The idea had been for me to come back in time for the end of PIG, but sadly some colossal muck ups by the train company (like not running the hourly rail replacement bus that I was meant to be catching) meant that I got back a little bit (only 60 or so minutes) later than intended...

That in itself meant that Sunday was a little bit quiet, spent mainly on the sofa catching up on webcomics - very relaxing and much needed!

And it's now less than three months till Christmas - yays!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Mostly photo post...

Another busy week has just whizzed by. Exciting developments in the greenhouse - I now have three tomato seedlings and a whole load of Pak Choy and basil. Still waiting to see how much of the spinach will survive, though!

Life has been as busy as ever - even with getting my Thursdays and Sundays back, there doesn't seem to be enough time to do everything! We took advantage of having a free Sunday to get in some extra shopping - as well as a little bit more supermarket shopping (it's all very well being green and walking to and from the shops, but it does limit what you can carry home, and how many special offers you can grab in one go!), I had an impulse buy of a new mobile phone - my old one has got to the point where the battery won't last two days, which gets very expensive in electricity in recharging! So, given that one of the electrical shops had a sale on, I am now the owner of a "Hot Pink" (read "80's leotard lycra pink") Nokia. I'm very pleased with it - it isn't a flash "does everything including making the coffee" phone, but it makes phone calls and sends and receives texts, and even has a little radio and MP3 player. And, of course, with the colour, I am never going to misplace it!

We had a great board gaming night on Saturday - the group seems to be getting bigger and bigger every month! Of course, some of my satisfaction did come from winning two out of the three games we played, and one of those was very comprehensively. The Upper Hutt Sci-Fi movie night on Tuesday was Clash of the Titans (the new one). I have to say that I'm glad that I didn't see it in the cinema - I'd have resented paying for it - but as a film to watch with friends, and take the mick out of, it was really good fun. The dialogue was pure cheese, the characters mainly two dimensional (very few of the characters were even named on screen), but it was pure escapism (and still nowhere near as bad as Alexander!)

We had our second rehearsal for the "Last night of the proms" concert - very interesting for me, as neither other oboe was there (co-inciding holidays), and it transpires that in one of the pieces, there are a large chunk of oboe and cor-anglais solos (the cor being cued on the oboe part so that it can be played) - whilst the music itself wasn't too tricky to sight read, the trouble was working out when I'd get a chance to breathe!

The weather has been a bit up and down over the last week or so - we have a day of bright blue skies and sunshine, and then, as with last night, the temperature will suddenly drop - there was snow on the hills around Wellington overnight (it all looked very pretty from a distance, but probably not so nice for my colleague who got stuck on a closed road!). But not as bad as they had "down south" over the weekend - the snow was so heavy that it actually brought down the roof of the Southland Stadium (scroll through the pics for some spectacular shots). Fortunately none of the people inside were hurt when it came down.

So - to prove that Spring really is here - here are some shots of the flowers in the garden:

Here's my mini-hedgerow of trees...

and the bare soil interspersed with little bits of green in the greenhouse - it's actually greener than that now, with seedlings starting to poke their heads through the earth.

And this has amused me for the last few weeks, and I finally managed to get a nice day when I remembered to take the camera out with me - bearing in mind that you can tell the height of the tree by comparing it to the lamp-post next to it, I think that this rather successfully knocks the traditional student cone-on-a-statue trick into a very large cocked hat! (you may need to click on the pic to see the detail...)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Back to work...

Well, the week off disappeared with frightening speed. I got a lot accomplished - all of my seeds planted out, either in pots or directly into the ground. I have a feeling that the green fuzz showing above the soil in the corner of the greenhouse is more likely to be weeds than my bok choy, but I can live in hope! Unfortunately, they all look the same at seedling level, so I'll have to wait for them to get a bit bigger before deciding whether to uproot or not. Pics may come next week when there may be something more to show than bare soil! I also managed to relax a lot - it was so nice to get the chance to completely switch off.

We did a huge walk on Saturday going round car yards in Lower Hutt - we hadn't meant to walk as far as we did, but ended up going for about 2 hours. We just got back to the front door when it started raining - perfect timing! We then had a friend round for an evening of board gaming - which ended up going till gone 2 in the morning! Then up early for the weekly Skype call home - I'm actually really pleased that I got up, as the Daffodil Express steamed past just after 9 am - it's a once a year event, with a steam train taking passengers from Wellington to Carterton for their annual daffodil festival. Tickets are a bit pricey ($70 / person return), but not bad for a 2 hour train trip. May be something to think about for future years!

Of course, back to work with a bump - I definitely chose the right week to have off, as I came back to a plethora of group emails about the Christchurch earthquake - it sounds like it was absolutely manic for the whole week. Part of me is a little sad that I missed out on it all, but I'm not *that* upset! I'm now looking forward to our next public holiday, which is Labour Day at the end of October. Then the downhill slope to Christmas!

We've also had a teeny splurge - we've picked ourselves up a nice second hand PC. It's not even close to top spec, but it was very cheap (and obviously, now kept out of landfill for a few more years), and will do for John to be able to scan and edit his drawings, for us to be able to access our terabyte drive (for some reason, when plugged into the Linux netbooks, we could read it, but not write to it), a number of the DVDs which friends have sent us over the last few months (most of which the Linux system decided didn't exist), and for me to be able to play my Windows based PC games.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Week off...

Half way through the week off - I had intended to blog sooner than this - sorry!

Our chocolate session on our anniversary was good fun - 45 mins of questions around the Butler's Chocolate brand, and how we thought it could be improved, then fifteen minutes or so of trying out different types of their block chocolate (sadly, none of their truffles, which would have been gorgeous!), and we got paid for the privilege! Some of the money went straight away on to a lovely anniversary curry - a great way of celebrating three years of marriage.

The rest of the week was amazingly busy at work as I tried to make sure that everything was in order for taking a week off. Fortunately I left with most things complete, and I'm reasonably confident of coming back to not too large a pile of paperwork on Monday!

Then, Saturday, we woke up to the news that the Canterbury region, and Christchurch, had suffered a huge earthquake. Whilst quakes are reasonably common in NZ, this one is the strongest one since the Napier quake in 1931. Fortunately, whereas in 1931, over 250 people died, this week, only three people were seriously injured, and (as far as I am aware - I can't see any reports) none of those were fatally. We were able to check on our friends who live down in the Christchurch area, and, though they have structural damage to their buildings, they were unhurt. The damage that has been done is huge, and it is going to take a long time to pick up the pieces, but things could have been far, far worse. We were very lucky that the quake hit overnight (4.30 in the morning), which meant that there weren't large numbers of people around to be hit by debris, or being inside buildings when they collapsed.

There's an interesting video from the GNS showing the now visible fault line:

It's going to take a long time to clear up the mess, and my heart goes out to all of those who have been affected.

The rest of this week, so far, has been pretty quiet - I'm enjoying not being in work, and have taken the time to potter in the greenhouse.

As the broccoli had started to flower

and Spring has definitely arrived (we have seen both Monarch and Red Admiral butterflies this weekend), John and I hiked over to our local garden centre and I went shopping... We came back with: a lemon tree (bought with birthday vouchers from friends), onion sets, bok choy seeds, tomato seeds and peanut seeds (the latter two being "patio kits" which included the pots to put them in). Plus compost to fill my pots up for potting up my feijoa, olive and chilli bush, and to plant out chilli, capsicum and luffa seeds.

So now, the broccoli is all gone (I made soup with the last of it this afternoon), I have planted in rows the spinach seedlings which seeded themselves from last Easter's batch, most of the onions are in the ground, the various other seeds are in pots, and I just have the bok choy to go! Now I have to remain patient and not want to keep on checking them to see whether I have any patches of green above the surface. And, I suspect, my fight with the oxalis will start again now that the broccoli isn't spread all over the soil...

John and I also took a trip up to the car yards of Upper Hutt. Now that I have finally transferred our money out of our UK bank account (the exchange rate wasn't amazing, but it was the best it had been since Easter, and the interest rate over here is far better!), we are going to get some wheels underneath us. Tuesday was just a recce trip, to get an idea of prices (we had been offered a car up in Palmerston North for $5,000, but that's quite a way to go on public transport just to see a car - we wouldn't have any idea of whether we liked it until we took it for a test drive); and there are a number within our price range. We aren't going to rush into it, having been badly stung before, we'd rather be a bit more cautious and make sure we are happy before we buy (and will definitely be taking any warranty that is offered!)