Sunday, 28 June 2015

Open weekend

Last weekend was our first Open Home weekend. I find them a little frustrating, as you get the place all nice and tidy, then no one might turn up!
But although the weekend was miserable, with Saturday a washout, Sunday was a lot brighter and we had four lots of people turn up altogether. I was quite happy with that (even happier if one of them buys it!)

As Saturday was miserable, the little people had a treat, and got to watch a lot more tv than they would normally be allowed!

There was also some serious Playmobil action going on. Did anybody ever call it Playmobil? When I was little we always called it Play people. Most of the ones you can see in the photo below were mine when I was little, so I guess you could call them vintage!
I'm lucky that both my children look after their toys, so these have been passed down from me, to Big Girl, and now Little Boy (and still Big Girl, who now has an excuse to play with them again as they play together!). We have loads of the stuff, including a zoo, horse ranch, a mansion, a petrol station and Cowboys and Indians. I must secretly admit that I do rather like setting it all out, especially all the bits and pieces in the house. It's very satisfying until someone comes along and very selfishly plays with it and mucks it all up ;-)

On Sunday afternoon I decided we had been cooped up enough all weekend, so we all went for a little walk down the lane. There was a bit of moaning from OH, but he's only got next week off sick, then he's back at work so I reckon he needs to get a bit of exercise and not sit on his bum all day!
We walked as far as the deer farm. You can't see them very well in this photo, but there are lots....

There, I've zoomed in a little bit. I love my iPhone, and it can take a great photo, but it's crap when you need to zoom in on anything. 

Little Boy climbed a gate to see the calves. The problem we have at the moment is when we tell him to smile for the camera, he does one of these....
Cute, but not the sort of photo you put in a frame. Think we need to teach him to tone it down a little bit!

Then we turned around and made our way home (that's our house up on the left). It was nice to get out in the fresh air, even though it was a bit chilly, especially when the wind blew. I'd like to make more of an effort to do more of these family walks when we return to the UK. 

All too soon the little people will be grown up and doing their own things. That reminds me of a quote I found online. Sorry I can't remember where I found it (probably Pinterest):

Make the most of them, cherish them, they are a gift. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Photo shoot

Well last Monday was the day the professional photographer, a lovely lady called Dominique, came to take photos of our house for our new listing with the real estate. Last weekend was manic - madly dusting, painting, tidying, sweeping, weeding - I felt like a participant in '20 Minute Makeover'!

I enrolled the help of our lovely neighbours, Jim and Viv, who worked their magic in the garden. Jim was on general maintenance and tidying, and Viv helped me overhaul the fruit cage. We decided it would take too long to tidy around the strawberry plants, so she dug them all up then I went round with the rotary hoe and then we re-planted most of them. It was a bit of a poor crop last year (the year before was a bumper one) so I think they may need replacing soon. 

Fruit cage before....

And after....

The veg garden needed a major overhaul and I had a sleepless night on Friday wondering how the hell I was going to manage it on my own (as OH is on the mend slowly but still unable to help with anything manual). So out came the rotary hoe, and I was surprised how quickly I managed it. But boy my arms were aching by the end of it! Big Girl followed behind with a bucket and picked up any big weeds I dug up, and even Little Man helped for a while. 

Veg garden before....

And after....

As I was madly doing my final cleaning and dusting duties I looked out of the window and my heart fell. It was around half an hour before she was due to arrive, and it was windy, grey and starting to drizzle....

 I had visions of it being postponed, which we couldn't really do as it goes to auction in four weeks (eek!). But miraculously about twenty minutes later, it cleared up and the sun started shining! Yay, someone was looking down on me and thinking 'come on, give her a break'.

Well I wouldn't normally welcome the world to peek inside my house, but I was really impressed with how the photographs came out. Would you like a tour? 
Come on in then!

There is a large, open plan living/kitchen/dining area which is lovely and light and airy. Here in NZ houses tend to have more and bigger windows than in the UK. It's lovely when the weather is nice to open the doors wide and sit and admire the view. 
I definitely think I need to get rid of the children, then my lounge could always look this tidy ;-)

I was really pleased how my homemade bunting and crochet and tapestry cushions added a pop of colour, and the peace lily plant came to life with the sun shining through the leaves....

The plastic flower windmills on the deck looked colourful too. We got them from the Warehouse, they were about $15 each, and they have lots of different colours. I'd love to get some more but can't really afford to waste more money on plastic flowers!

When we moved in there was just a deck out the back. I convinced OH that wasn't going to be safe with a little person crawling around out there, so he put in the fencing. It spoils the view a little bit, but means Little Boy can play out there safely on his own. He loves racing up and down there on his little plastic car.
The Archgola was brilliant device we had installed. It used to get really hot in the living area in summer, and now the archgola cuts that dramatically. It is also 99% UV resistant, which protects the carpet and curtains from damage, and also means the kids can play outside under it without worrying about them getting burnt. Plus they can also still play outside when it's raining. 

There is an area of decking outside Big Girl's bedroom that we haven't fenced. This is the 'grown ups' spot, where we have the BBQ and dining table and chairs....

Little Boy's toys had to be packed away temporarily, and all the ornaments came out that used to be there before he arrived....

I don't think I have seen Big Girl's room so tidy!

I love Little Boy's room. I got the stencils from America as I couldn't find anything I liked in New Zealand. I'll show you around more another time, as I'd like to remember what it all looks like - I'm sure one of them will want something similar in their room when we get back to the UK. 

This is OH's toy. We both played a lot of competition pool before we had kids, and shipped this over when we came here. Unfortunately we won't be able to afford anywhere big enough to accommodate it when we go home, so will have to sell it :-(
It doesn't normally look this tidy in here by the way. There are usually bikes, boxes of things to sell, and OH's inversion table (you hang upside down on it when you have a bad back). The carpet was a really good idea, and I'd never heard of it until I saw an ad on TV. It's a special garage carpet that you can drive your car on. It feels really thin and ineffective, but has made a huge difference in there. Before, it was just concrete and felt quite cold underfoot. Now it feels more like part of the house in there. 

So that's it, the tour is finally over, hope it was slightly interesting!


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Off sick

I have company at home this week, as OH has done his back in and is on complete bed rest. He can't stand without two sticks to hold him up, and needs a hand to do all the things we take for granted - washing, getting dressed, going to the toilet. It's times like this you appreciate being healthy (I was going to say 'fit and healthy' but that would be a lie, as shamefully fitness is low down on my list of things I like to do!)

I have a heap of potions and pills to remember how much and when to give him - Vitamin C, magnesium, wheatgerm oil, paracetamol, naproxen and tramadol. 
Every time I prepare a meal for him, he has a little of pile of pills on the side!
Looking into magnesium online, apparently a lot of people are deficient, and do you know a good source of magnesium - chocolate!!! So never mind being good and cutting down, I MUST have chocolate ;-)
(So apparently if you are one of those people who crave chocolate, you may be deficient in magnesium)

At the moment he is lay on a mattress in front of the wood burner, whilst I write my blog. He started off spending all day and night in bed, but was getting a bit fed up, so we decided to move him into the lounge in the daytime. I think it's better to be involved in the day to day family routine, rather than stuck in a room on his own. Plus it's super cosy in front of the fire!

Thought I'd finish with a photo of the Bougainvillea growing up the front of the house. It's still only small at the minute, but it flowers it's socks off for ages and ages. The only downside to it is the lethal, long thorns it has (you can see some underneath the top lot of flowers on the left). I've heard several people saying they have actually punctured their car tyres before. 

That's it for now, off to have a sandwich and a yummy homemade chocolate muffin (I must post the recipe one day, as they are delicious!)


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Weekend washout

What a surprise - last weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend and it was raining!
Overcast, miserable, the odd rumble of thunder now and again. 
And to make matters worse, Monday was the first day of winter :-(

Bang went our idea of returning to the cycle trail with OH and a picnic.

Looking at this photo below, I really must take more care when I am spraying. I could do with a weed killer that comes out a different colour so I can see how much I've sprayed. That's it, I will design a Cath Kidston colour weed killer! You can get paint that goes on a different colour can't you, so you can tell where you have painted, or am I just dreaming that one?

We have a lot of kikuyu grass here, which I believe originated in East Africa, and it is a pain in the behind as it spreads it's long green tentacles everywhere you don't want it. I call it the cancer of the grasses. Mind you it is good to have some in the paddocks for stock, as it carries on growing in the colder weather when other grasses slow down. 

The picture above shows one of our water tanks (we have two 20,000 litre tanks). We were quite appalled when we first moved over here, that we would be drinking rain water from the roof! There is a filter it goes through before it gets to the tap, but still, it's not quite as refined a system as we are used to! Being newbies to it, we also didn't realise we had to replace the filter sponge regularly, and it was a few years before we undid it to take a look. If you have ever kept fish in a tank, you'll know what a dirty sponge looks like - a brown, slimy mess. At least our house is quite open, so we don't get the bird poo, possum poo, leaves etc that lots of people have to cope with ending up on their roof. 

This banana plant takes a bit of a beating in the bad weather too. Shame as the huge paddle like leaves are amazing when they are intact. We planted this behind the water tank to try and protect it, but it hasn't worked. I was quite excited when I stepped out of the back door the other day and noticed it had produced what looks like a flower (if you zoom in you can see it in the middle of the leaves). I was told this was an ornamental banana, so would it flower if it doesn't produce fruit?

Our 'proper' banana is around the other side of the house. It still amazes me that I now live somewhere where I can grow my own bananas! See the tiny bananas above the flower? It gradually grows more and more until there is a whole bunch hanging there. They aren't like the bananas we get from the supermarket, I think these are called Ladies Fingers, much smaller. 

The chickens don't seemed bothered by the bad weather. They are quite happy bimbling around, tidying up any windfall fruit. There are still loads of unpicked fruit on this tree. It is supposed to be an 'eater' (as opposed to a 'cooker'), but it seems quite sharp. I'll have to dig the name of it out, and see if anyone knows anything about it. 

I had to pop into town to do some shopping, and caught some fab rainbows on camera. The child in me is still amazed by rainbows, it's fascinating isn't it that a bit of rain and sun mixed together creates such a beautiful sight!

Well after all those gloomy, dull photos I'll end on a brighter note - a lovely sunflower in the veg garden, snapped last summer!

Take care, whatever the weather!


Walking the cycle trail

In an effort to be healthy, we decided to go for a little walk this afternoon. So Big Girl, Little Boy and myself hopped in the car for the short drive to the Okaihau to Kaikohe cycle trail.

Big Girl was off with my digital camera busy snapping everything in sight, as she is very keen to help out with the new blog! (Apologies for the poor light in this photo, four o'clock on an autumn day in the wood isn't the best for taking photos)

Little Boy was more interested in looking for fish, unfortunately we didn't see any...

But we did see some magic mushrooms (Amanita Muscaria in case you are interested!)...

And some wonderfully bendy, tactile trees...

This tree stump made us laugh. We decided it looked like a gnome toilet, complete with water in the bowl! (Do they have gnomes in New Zealand? Don't know that Google would answer that question!)

On rounding the corner we bumped into some cows enjoying the trail too...

We weren't afraid of them as we have cows ourselves, and it didn't seem like the cows were bothered either, as they didn't even get up when we walked past!

By now Little Boy was a bit tired, and it was starting to get a little dark so we decided to turn back. You can see the moon making an appearance in this photo...

The only photos I could take now were silhouettes of the striking shapes of different trees against the darkening sky...

It's a Bank Holiday in New Zealand this weekend. I think we might pack a picnic and head back here with OH. Mind you, bank holidays usually mean rain don't they, so we'll have to wait and see.

Take care