Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Will we or Won’t we?

Will we or won’t we move in tomorrow – that is the question.  Tomorrow (1st March) is meant to be the day our house is finished and we get the keys.  But there are still a few things to do – to meet the end of the contract, the workmen may well have to stay late tonight.  The painter has to return and touch up various spots on the walls which have been identified and marked.  That won’t take too long, presumably.  And the good news is that our stove has finally been installed.  But we notice that one of the doors from the kitchen cupboards has disappeared.  Maybe it needs to be replaced – we will wait and see.

DSCF4646 Stove with range-hood above

The workers were very busy outside, with the bricklayer just finishing off our letterbox.  And very nice it look too, even better when  we get our very own house number put on the front.

DSCF4644 Finishing off our letter box

And barrow full loads of top soil were been spread and levelled for when it is time for the lawn seed to be sown.  The rails for the back fence were being put in place, so there has been a lot of work done today.

DSCF4648 Back yard with fence still under construction

DSCF4649 One man doing the fence and the other shovelling top soil

We are really getting excited as tomorrow is “D Day”.  We will patiently wait in the caravan tomorrow till the lawyer phones to tell us that the Code of Compliance is all sealed and signed, and we can start moving in.  Which won’t be all done on the first day - we will take our time unloading the lock-up and moving all those boxes!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Different Direction

We took a different direction today and turned right at the corner of SH1 to travel south, instead of our more usual trip north to Levin.  We had an appointment with the lawyer in our former home town, and were assured that things were running smoothly for Friday when we move in to our new house.  With a few more jobs done in Upper Hutt and ticked off our list, we headed off to Porirua.  What’s this?  Has that car got eye lashes?  Sure enough, parked in the car park was a dark blue car sporting a set of very long pale blue eye lashes!  Plus a sticker stating “Get Chick’d”.  Obviously a girl’s car, and only in Porirua……..

DSCF4642 My, what long eye lashes you have

Another couple of items bought, and the next stop was Paraparaumu to check on the delivery date of our new bedroom furniture, and settle up the account.  It took all day to work through our long “to do” list, and we finally arrived back at the caravan at 4.00pm, where we were soundly told off  by Muffy for going out and leaving her  home alone – once again!

Tomorrow we will turn left at the corner and travel up to see how the builders are getting on with our new house.   This will be  the last day they have to finish off the fences and anything else still to be completed.  Mmm, hope the oven has finally been installed.  Guess we will find out how they are going tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Time for the Concrete Trucks

They are certainly a friendly crowd at Rangeview Villas – several of the residents stopped to chat when we called up yesterday and asked us when we were moving in.  One lady even invited us in for a cuppa, proudly showed us around her villa, and she didn’t know us from a bar of soap.  Think I made a good impression, as I correctly identified her two little dogs as Papillons, known for their  butterfly shaped ears.  (In a former life, my Maltese dog and I  had a short dalliance with the Dog Show Circuit many years ago,  so I know my dogs!)

Work was being done preparing to lay the concrete paths yesterday.  The men were working in the hot sun spreading shovels of the base course down and then compacted it with a mechanical tamper machine. This tool is used in the preparation phases before pouring concrete, and it helps prevent the base from becoming too porous to support the heavier concrete.  Before we left, most of the boxing was in place.  The workman out the front was preparing the ground for the shared driveway, and the boxing is around the side path and fence posts.
Preparing the shared driveway
The first concrete truck arrived at 7am this morning, we were told, with the second one arriving later in the morning.  All the concrete is now in place, driveway, paths, and the mowing strips around the fence posts.  The workmen were water blasting the concrete to remove the top layer.  This exposes the aggregate, making the paths non-slip in the wet weather.

DSCF4639 The shared driveway between the two villas

P2267868 Back yard with path and clothes line pad

DSCF4638 Robin chatting to the workman about laying the concrete

The fence needs to be finished, the clothesline put in place, and our letter box (made out of bricks), is still to be assembled.  Once these jobs are completed, we should be well on our way to receive the keys to the property on 1st March.  And a large amount of money changed hands today to enable this to happen.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Lazy Sunday Morning

The day started, as all lazy morning’s should, with a cup of tea, while we sat up in bed and watched the the news of the world on TV in the caravan.   Muffy then started squawking loudly at us, “Get up, you lazy bones, get out of bed”.  It happens every morning.  There are loud meows till we are out of bed, showered, and dressed, and then she settles down quietly on the couch and goes back to sleep.  Obviously she prefers us down in the living area of the caravan once it is day light, up and ready to give her the attention she demands, and not lazing about in the bedroom end. 

We were making our hosts a cooked Sunday breakfast.  Not necessarily the type of “big breakfast” that Geoff has such a fondness for, with bacon, eggs, and all the works.  No, we had decided on something a bit different, and made pancakes in our waffle iron.  Robin poured the mixture into the hot waffle iron, closed the lid, cooked them  for the prescribed time, then lifted each waffle carefully out, placing them one on top of each other in a stack.  Meanwhile, I was kept  busy preparing the fruit, whipping the cream, and ferreting about in the cupboard for our bottle of maple syrup – I knew it was there somewhere.

DSCF4619 Robin cooking pancakes in the caravan

Eileen had set the dining table for our breakfast and we carried the various dishes inside.  Now, what have we here?  Pancakes, peaches, strawberries, whipped cream, and maple syrup.  It looks good enough to eat, don’t you think?  So we did, and finished off our lazy Sunday morning with a fancy coffee, expertly made by Geoff. 

DSCF4620Geoff and Eileen waiting for breakfast

Next time we cook Sunday breakfast for our hosts, we’ll make sure we make it a traditional Big Breakfast – after all, Geoff has a reputation of being a Big Breakfast connoisseur! 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

There’s a Killer Cat outside

Hello, Muffy here.  I’m a bit worried because I just know there is another cat out there.  I’m safe in the caravan behind this screen door, but what if it comes any closer?  That cat is called Tiger, and she’s got a bit of a reputation.  She is a killer cat, so I’ve heard, and hunts at night.  Then she makes the most awful yowling, to tell the whole world how clever she is, jumps in the bedroom window with a baby bunny or some such creature between her jaws, and presents it proudly to her people!  No wonder that Gareth man on TV wants to ban cats.  He must love baby bunnies as much as he loves birds.  He shouldn’t ban me though, I’m too much of a lady to be a killer.  Everyone knows that dinner is served out of tasty cans, don’t they?

DSCF4427 I know she is out there

Help, Mum, Tiger is looking at me!  Make her go away.  Oh dear, my heart is all a flutter - I really need a cuddle now.
 DSCF4503 And there she is!!!

Friday, 22 February 2013

It’s all happening now

We awoke to the rural eau-de-cologne of effluent as it permeated the caravan this morning.  Had our cat Muffy forgotten herself and had a bad accident overnight?  So we checked in all the corners, just in case.  Should have known better, Muffy was the absolute lady she always is.  Looking out the window, we could see the dairy farmer spraying his paddocks with effluent.  So that’s what the smell was, and that’s what you get when you live in the country environment.  The wind must have been blowing the smell towards us.

With that mystery solved, it was time for a leisurely breakfast, time to put a load or two of washing in the machine, then morning tea with our hostess, before heading off to Levin once again to check on the progress of our new house.  The line of traffic was flagged down and stopped before we drove onto the bridge over the rail way line.  We soon found out why as an “Oversize” truck and it’s extra wide load hurtled past.  No wonder the traffic was stopped – there would be no room to pass safely by the truck on the narrow bridge.

DSCF4600 Oversize load coming by

The carpet layers were finishing up when we arrived.  They have sets of long rods to stretch the carpet evenly over the floor, called power stretchers, they told me.  The carpet was mostly laid, and they were finishing up the edges around each room by tucking the carpet over the smooth edge.  Check here to see how power stretchers are used.  We gathered up the larger left over pieces of carpet and will get the edges bound to make floor mats.

DSCF4602 Trimming the carpet edge

DSCF4603 Tools of the trade – power stretcher rods

Other surprises awaited us in the house.  An awful lot has been done since our previous visit only the day before.    The  laundry tub has been hooked up  in the garage – that will keep the person in our family who takes laundry duties very seriously quite happy.  The plumber has been to install the toilet, and has been busy in the kitchen too putting in the dish washer drawer, and  the sink bench with garbage disposal unit.  Guess we will have to read an instruction book or two, we have never owned a dish washer before.  We are still waiting for the new stove to be fitted, that can’t be far away now.

DSCF4611Our very first dish washer

Yesterday we spoke to the builder’s foreman about fences, and today the fence posts were all in place.  That’s certainly fast work.

DSCF4613Posts for back fence dividing the two properties

It certainly is “all systems go” now, and we will start moving in from 1st March.  Exciting, isn’t it?

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Wow – changes galore

Goodness me, we can hardly keep up with all the changes to our new home, they are coming thick and fast.  We saw the friendly lino layer hard at work, and he didn’t even mind having his photo taken as he applied adhesive before sticking the vinyl down in place.  This strip is at the back of the garage and will be the laundry area, with washing machine and tub, and hopefully room alongside to place our small chest freezer.

DSCF4582  Laundry area at the back of the garage

DSCF4579Vinyl laid in the kitchen, fridge and stove still to come

DSCF4583 Heat Pump is now installed on the wall

Changes were afoot outside too.  One of the workers was using buzzing around in his cute little digger to lay the top soil over the property and smooth it out.  And we talked to the boss about extending the concrete path, and erecting a timber fence at the side of the house.

DSCF4585 Soon to be the front lawn

Wonder what changes we will find on our next visit?  Everything is happening so fast, it’s hard to keep up!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Risk of Electric Shock

“Risk of Electric Shock” warned the bright yellow sign standing just inside the door of our new house.  Looks like the electrician was busy at work today.

DSCF4570 Warning sign in place

“Hello”, we called out as we carefully walked inside, “we are the new owners”.  We found the pleasant young electrician in the bathroom, wiring up the heated towel rail.  He pointed out the intricacies of the treble light fitting in the ceiling, incorporating a heat lamp and fan too.  The shower walls had been installed, there was now a mirror above the vanity unit, which was still waiting for the hand basin and taps.  And most importantly, the plumber has yet to install the toilet.  

DSCF4577 Electrician working in the bathroom

There has been a lot of progress since our last visit when the painters were there, and we were told that they had been working over the weekend to finish the job.  The kitchen cabinet units have now been installed, with spaces left for the fridge, the new stove and dishwasher.

DSCF4572 Kitchen cabinets in place

P2197857Waiting for sink bench and dishwasher

DSCF4573Down-lights to be fitted by the electrician

And in the garage, the ceiling storage space with the drop-down ladder was ready and waiting for the electrician to climb up and install the light fitting.

DSCF4576 In the garage

Everything seems to be going according to plan, so it won’t be long now, we hope.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Moving a Caravan made easy

Friends Geoff C and Pauline (and their caravan) came to stay for the night at our hosts rural property.  Their Chateau caravan was backed carefully up the drive, with Geoff  taking care not to get tangled up on the overhanging corners of the roof.  With the  door of the European caravan on the right side, it needed to be turned around otherwise they would be exiting the van close to the fence.  Easy peasy, with a Rhyno caravan mover fitted to the wheel, it was no trouble at all. 
DSCF4567 Caravan mover fitted to wheel

We had never seen one of these gizmos in action, and it certainly was a easy way to move the caravan around 180 degrees.  Geoff had the control pad in his hands, pressed a few buttons, and the caravan moved easily around, first this way, then that way, until it was positioned exactly where it should be.

DSCF4563 Look,  no hands

DSCF4568It’s all done with this

These caravan movers are all the rage in UK, we understand, but not so common out here in New Zealand.  They certainly save a lot of physical pushing and pulling on the single axle vans, but don’t know how it would work on a tandem axle van like ours.

Pauline decided that she needed a gardening fix and spent an hour or two on her knees pulling out some weeds.  Rather her than me – I hate gardening!

DSCF4569 Pauline came visiting and did some gardening

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Just up the road to our Caravan Rally Weekend

It just wasn’t proper to go away for the weekend rally in a dirty, dusty caravan, both Robin and Geoff decided.  So out came the  buckets of soapy water and the brush, and they got to work, taking care of the accumulated dust, grime and resident spiders.  The job was finished off with a hose to wash all the suds away.

DSCF4530 Geoff cleaning his Swift caravan

DSCF4528 Robin giving Romany Rambler a wash down

Then it was just a short 5km trip up the road to our rally venue weekend at St Peter Chanel School.  This was a combined rally hosted by the Wellington Caravan Club, with members of Heretaunga (our club) and Wairarapa clubs invited to attend.  A small, but elite group of eleven caravans and motor-homes were in attendance, and were parked up in the school grounds.

A hotly contested croquet competition was held on Saturday morning.  The rules were rather vague, and interference was rife, but our club’s two teams (of two) made it through to the final playoff.

DSCF4536 Robin, Jenny, Elaine and Peter, with mallets and balls

Geoff became my off-course substitute, and the game began.  Mallets and balls were going everywhere, hoops were knocked over, and the croquet course became a battlefield!  I was on the sidelines leading the cheers for the Heretaunga team.  Sadly, we were pipped at the post in the finals by the Wellington team, but still managed to come in 2nd and 3rd.  Not a bad effort for a bunch of novices, non of whom knew what they were doing.

DSCF4539Here come the balls

A shared evening meal was planned and all sorts of tasty offerings were carried into the hall and set up on a large table.  We took a little of this, and a little of that, but couldn’t manage to try some of everything, and that was just the main course.  Everyone loves desserts, and with everything from a giant chocolate log to trifle, and everything in-between, no one left the table feeling hungry.

The school shares the grounds with the Pukekaraka Catholic Mission and parish, which was founded in 1844 by French priests of the Society of Mary-Marist.  The lovely old church was built in 1857, in the style of churches in Provence, and the tower was added in 1929.  The interior was painted and decorated by one of the priest’s who had a year off from his duties while recovering from illness.  The church has a Category One registry with The Historic Places Trust and is New Zealand's oldest Catholic Church still in use.

P2167829 The “Old Church”

DSCF4544Interior of the church, decorated with tendrils of trailing vines

The adjacent “New Church” was built in 1992 in a modern and simplistic style. 

DSCF4547 Entrance to the new church

P2167840 Large and roomy inside

DSCF4552 This building housed the priests in the early years

A pathway up the hill led us past the Stations of the Cross, topped with a large cross.  A small cemetery at the top of the hill is the final resting place of the priests and nuns who served at Pukekaraka.  There were great views from the hill, looking out to the Tararua Ranges one way, or down to the sea across the church and school buildings
P2167847 Looking down on the church buildings

The rally weekend came to a close, as all weekends must.  But not before a group of big strong men were called to help turn one of the caravans around.  Bob was in a bit of a tight spot and was rather worried about how he would get out.  No trouble at all, as it turned out, with all our men helping.
  DSCF4561 Many hands make light work

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Where the Heck are my Glasses?

I’ve had good and faithful service from my reading glasses.  They were purchased back in 2008 during our 3 month UK trip.  From a Boot’s Chemist shop in Birmingham, to be precise.  I remember that we were catching up with friends Margaret and Trevor from Erdington when my expensive prescription reading glasses broke.  They suggested we go to Boot’s Chemist for a cheap replacement pair to see us through the holiday.  Good idea, we thought, so off we went, and found a pair to suit.  But they were priced at 20 pounds!  “That’s $60 NZ!” I exclaimed, “we can buy them for $10 back home”.  (At that time our exchange rate was 3 NZ$ to 1 pound).  But needs must and I duly handed over the money.

I’ve been using these reading glasses all this time but must have dropped them today while we were doing a little shopping in Otaki.  They are generally hung around my neck with one of those “old lady” type cords but the end must have slipped off one of the arms.  So we back tracked along the footpath, and into the couple of shops we had visited, and had a good look around the car parking area.  Sadly, not a sign of them anywhere.

Back at the caravan I found another cheapie pair tucked away and used them while I wandered around outside snapping a few photos.  Putting my camera on the table I realized that these glasses weren’t on my face, or carefully clutched in my hand.  Surely, not again, twice in one day!  Round and round the garden the both of us went, carefully looking where we placed our feet as we looked under trees, along the fence line and over the lawn.  Just as I was about to give up, there they were, almost swallowed up in the lawn, with just a glint in the sunshine giving them away. 

Thank goodness – I couldn’t have coped with losing two pairs of glasses on the same day.  (Just imagine the nagging I would have received).  This pair is now hanging around my neck with my spare cord firmly attached. 

DSCF4513 Sad but true, people over a certain age need reading glasses

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Posse of Painters

The doors were locked and we had to make do with peering through the windows of our new home.  The painters had been busy inside, but they had locked up and gone home by the time we came calling yesterday.  Today was a different story though, there were painters everywhere.  A couple of them were busy outside painting under the eaves,  and some of them were sitting down in the garage finishing off their lunch of fish and chips.  
DSCF4500 Painters busy at work

We popped inside to have a look around, as couldn’t see much yesterday through the windows.  The interior doors were stacked up against the walls, waiting to be hung.  Robin is in the sitting room, the kitchen is on the other side of the partition wall and is still awaiting the cabinets.  Electrical wires are hanging out, ready to be finished off.

DSCF4496 Robin looking around the sitting room

DSCF4497Empty kitchen on the other side of the wall, complete with painter outside 

We did comment to ourselves that the rooms look tiny – although they are sure to look better once everything is finished and the furniture is in place.  Sitting on the garage floor was the recently delivered (unassembled) shower all boxed up, waiting for a visit from the plumber, we expect.  The front door is in place, still wrapped in plastic covering for protection.  The security screen door is yet to be installed on the outside, as are the fly screen panels over the two ranch slider doors.  It’s all coming along like clockwork!

DSCF4476 Locked up tight

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Murder in the Night

The unearthly yowling of a successful hunter fills the cold night air as she tells the world she has made yet another kill.  Effortlessly, she bounds in through the open window, with the prey clamped securely in her jaws.  She may be little, but she is a mean, keen, killing machine.  Tiger patrols the surrounding paddocks and hunts in the dark of the night.

Geoff and Eileen are away for a few days and we are doing a little “house and cat sitting” for them.  Every morning it’s Robin’s job to check the house and do a body count.  What de-headed body has Tiger brought inside this time?  So far we have found a baby rabbit with it’s head chewed right off, and goodness knows what other offerings will be deposited inside the house in the dark of night before before our hosts return home.

DSCF4490 Tiger is relaxing after a night out hunting

We’re keeping the windows of our caravan securely closed in the evenings.  There’s no way we want that cat jumping in our windows in the dark of night to show off her kill.  That sort of thing would give our cat Muffy nightmares for the rest of her life – and us too.    Eileen tells us that most of the bodies get taken inside minus their heads.  So  where do all the heads go, we wonder?

DSCF4439 Poor decapitated baby bunny