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!)