Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baldwin Street

We do live on the steepest street in the world so things can get interesting at times. There are a number of photos of crashed cars as well as a plethora of weird and wonderful happenings, some of which predate us and some of which I have witnessed over the seven years we have lived here and the 30 odd years I have spent in the Valley.

There is the Jaffa race of course. That is a yearly event in July and coincides with the chocolate festival. There were two races this year - one with the normal orange jaffas and one with lilac ones to celebrate the 10th year of the race. We scored some chocolate to compensate for the inconvenience of having our street access blocked for half a day. I'm not sure on the numbers but it was standing room only - estimated at about 8 thousand.

In the last year there have been two car incidents. Neither were serious fortunately. The first was tourists who lost it further up and took out a large chunk of railing, garden and left a big hole in the neighbour's hedge. The second was some nitwit trying to do a u-turn after light rain on the very steepest bit. He wrote his car off on a lamp post (which was undamaged and so was he).

There was the idiot sliding down the street in a recycle bin (not a wheelie bin) which broke. I reported that one as it wasn't their bin and they cost to replace. And finally there was the stupid teen who was riding down on his bike without using his hands - he ended up under a parked car with some fairly nasty injuries but fortunately not fatal or permanent damage. Just broken bones and gravel rash.

On a happier note there was a segway -I think there's a video on u tube - an electric wheelchair, a pair of stilts, a pogo stick and various skateboards, bikes, unicycles and a pair of training ski (he was no fool and decided not to go from the top).

There was also a world record attempt to ride a motorbike down on one wheel. He then rode back up still on wheel just for the fun of it. He was a proper stunt rider though and got a fairly massive audience as it was reported in the local paper.

Then there are the 40,000 odd tourists....

This street is interesting to live on!

Our house is on the wiki page but the photo needs an upgrade. We have been doing it up slowly and the roof has been renewed although the colour is still white with lacework. It was built in 1912 so I think we will need to give it a birthday party for being 100 fairly soon :)


Thursday, November 18, 2010


I haven't been doing very much recently so I thought I'd share an old story of a family trip to the Falls Dam when I was still a teen.

The dam itself is a fair way off the beaten track but it is quite attractive in a barren kind of way with a group of fishing huts as the only hint of civilization. This construction was made for mining and then used for agriculture. It is only a very small lake by most standards and takes about 30 mins by sailing boat (slow sort) to get from one end to the other.

It was a warm day but heavily overcast which is unusual in central. The water was mostly pretty shallow so it was also warmish which made the idea of sailing on it pretty good. My brother was crewing for a sunburst dinghy belonging to a friend and we had the optimist because Dad hadn't finished building his sunburst yet. We also had a picnic lunch and the whole family and various other people too so it was a real outing for the Maniototo Yacht club.

Things got off to a good start and the boats were launched for a short sail before lunch. Dad took the first go as it was his boat and Phil went out with his friend. The rest of us set up the picnic and decided that the rocky shore was not a good place to swim - too many weeds and heaps of jagged rocks. We then sat down to wait for the sailors to return.

Dad was first back and he called for some help so that he wouldn't bash his newly painted dinghy on the rocks. We went down to help and he decided, whilst sailing up and down along the shore, that he would throw us the painter (rope) so that we could guide him in. ( I might add that we were fairly new to sailing at this point and about as far from expert as is possible without actually tipping the boat every time we got in it.)

He aimed carefully at the shore and made what he considered a good throw. It fell way short so he gathered it up and by slowing down the boat to almost a stall, he managed to stand in the centre, hanging on to the mast with one hand to help his balance. Then he threw the rope....

The precariously balanced boat (for those who don't know what an optimist is - its about the size of a one man rowing boat) promptly turned turtle, captain and all, backwards. There was a loud splosh and the rope reached the shore.

We pulled the bedraggled captain out of the lake along with his boat and gave him a towel. Fortunately he had left all his valuables in the car because he didn't want them getting wet!

At this point the other boat hove into view carrying two more casualties. Their mishap was out of view from where we were but must have looked hilarious to the wildlife. Phil had been manning the jib amidships whilst his friend operated the tiller. They had rocketed down the lake in fine style with a few jibes which required split second timing. The idea was that the main sail was allowed to fly across to the other tack while Phil had the job of releasing the jib sheet and flying across the boat width changing ropes as he went and then leaning out as far as possible using the rope as support.

This was fine and allowed for much speed but on this one occasion, Phil missed the rope in passing at a million miles an hour and went completely over the side.......loud splash!

To keep the boat upright, his friend had a firm grip on the main sail but with the disappearance of his counterweight, the boom slammed back across and gave him a nasty blow on the head. He was lucky not to be knocked out. He regained control of things and picked up Phil and in a sadder but wiser way, they returned for first aid and dry clothes and lunch.

After lunch, Dad decided to go out again and do a spin round the lake before giving me a go so, still in his somewhat soggy clothes, he hopped in and, mindful of the rocks, asked Phil to push him out a little before getting under way.

You have to remember that this is an artificial lake so when Phil went to push him out, he got three steps into the water and then promptly disappeared. Apparently there was a small, invisible cliff just off the shoreline. So Phil got another impromptu bath!

Things settled down a bit after that until it was my turn. This was the first time I had sailed a boat on my own and I was a little nervous. Not for my safety, we all had life jackets and we all were very good swimmers, but for my pride!

I got a good start and sailed round the lake doing quite well I thought. Then I had to come in but every time I turned in, the following wind pushed my bows under the water and the boat started to act more like a diving submarine. I yelled for instructions eventually as I was by now sitting waist deep in water (there wasn't a seat at this time). Dad had to run up and down the shoreline yelling instructions at me and try to boost my confidence until I got the nerve to do what he was saying. I got very wet but I did make it back to land under my own steam. Needless to say, I never forgot that set of instructions!

By this time everyone was either wet or damaged so we set to packing everything up. We left just as the foreboding clouds decided to rain heavily but it was accounted one of our most successful picnic days despite the various accidents along the way.

Unfortunately I have no photos available of the yachts so the photo here is on our street and just shows the end of our veranda.

viv in nz

Saturday, November 13, 2010

garden bits with felt

I did a few more small landscapes in felt inbetween filling a little of the skip - Matt did most of it. I think this felt thing has rather become a fixture especially as I have no sewing machine at present - it broke a couple of weeks back and I haven't heard about it since (and am not enquiring too soon because there is no money to pay for it anyhow).

I have to say I like the small wet felt pieces which I can compose at about the size of the average postcard with lots of detail. I'm still perfecting things so there is the odd mess where something has gone a bit weird. I can embellish them too if I think they need it.

Apart from that - I've been getting into some christmassy things for the children to compose during the last few weeks of school. They will make a nice change from the grandma's garden quilt which we finally finished about a week back. Its off being quilted now. I'll post a photo when it is finished.

So far I have got them making little christmas trees in fabric (polar fleece at present as it doesn't need backing and these are my 8 year olds) and the 11 - 12 year olds are knitting a small angel although I am considering letting two of them (the worst knitters) make trees too. Its all good fun and will give them one or two nice things to use as christmas presents.

The two photos at the top are from a rather nasty forest fire over the back of the city. No housing was involved but we were drowned in smoke for several days. This was last summer and I forgot I had these photos - they look pretty spectacular but the smell was much worse!

viv in nz

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Dunedin Botanical Gardens

A friend and I went to the gardens as we do most years in the Spring and wandered round looking at the flowers - mostly azelias and rhododendrons this time as we were too late for the cherry blossoms. I took a few nice photos so here are a few to brighten up the day.

Since then we have spent most of our time filling a skip with rubbish from the back yard - mostly old hedge and stuff from the house renovations. Way too much for composting unfortunately so this time its off to the landfill.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We have been harvesting rhubarb for about a week now and our small patch is starting to run down so not much more to come for a while. I think there may be a case for a few more plants as we all like it :)

Matt has started to clear the bottom of what was to be the driveway but which ended up too soft even with a ton (literally) of gravel on top. He is going to convert most of it into veg garden by creating a raised bed on it and building a small brick wall (recycled chimney) on the boundary with a gravel path. Should work ok and gets plenty of sun too.

We got four bales of straw and placed them along the edge of the cleared bank to make a raised edge for the other garden. This should last until we can afford to put in a proper edge and will then be converted to mulch (if it hasn't already).

We also planted a quince tree but will need to wait several years for that to be of any account fruit wise. We hope to add a greengage and a green apple of some sort along the same bank where the old hedge was. A row of fruit trees is a lot more useful than an old hedge!

My inside tomato is already two thirds up the window and starting to set fruit. I had to use some digit control on a bunch of aphids so it must be that season again!

Two of the four old potatoes I planted have reached the surface at the front gate (they went there because it happened to be clear of weeds for a change). I also planted the remains of an old packet of seed, (peas and beans) and some of those look to have sprouted too despite the expiry date on the packet being about two years back. There was an old garlic that had sprouted too so I broke that up and planted it amongst the dahlias and it seems to be doing well too despite being the wrong time to plant it.

Spring has sprung. I even filled the wheelbarrow like I said I would, with lettuces and pansies. They will be big enough to harvest the odd leaf by next week from the looks of it.

So there you have it. For once we should have some of our own produce to eat :) Even the odd hen is laying the odd egg!

The photos are of our old rhododendron tree (about the same age as the house we think - 1912) and an iris that lives under the pink thing in front of the rhododendron.

viv in nz