Wednesday, September 29, 2010

shop content

I thought I might put up a few photos of the shop. These are not very recent but the stock doesn't change all that much. Most of these were taken by the kids just because they could :)

Actually, when I look at this, the stock has changed but is exactly the same if you know what I mean. And we are open again for Christmas although not all the time - just when I'm around to man it. Any locals wanting to find me in - just send an email first so I will be there :) Or a comment as I do check them.

viv in nz

Friday, September 24, 2010

kiwi feet

Two photos of my knitted kiwi which I sell in my shop for $6.50. Which is why I don't use anything too expensive :) Looks a bit rude...

viv in nz

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The long drop affair

I was reading a post on another blog today and it reminded me of a certain emergency that happened during our honeymoon camping trip.

At the time of this event, we had been traveling for several days in our old car with a tent in the boot and an assortment of old camping gear mostly from the dim dark age of the fifties. There was a set of old tin plates and mugs, a thermette made by my grandfather, a pup tent from a really cheap box store along with a home made fly constructed out of a cheap tarpaulin and two broom handles and an inflatable bed which had a slow leak.

On our first night we had found a wonderful (free) camping spot with the usual fixtures - a tap on a stand, a long drop dunny (toilet) and a few concrete block barbecues. It was also raining rather hard and had been doing so all day so there was an inch or so of water in the bottom of the barbies and no dry fuel. My husband attempted to light some of this wood with some dryish twigs to no avail but did manage to heat up the thermette with twigs so we dined on cold spagetti and warmish cocoa. The fly turned out to be very useful as it was substantially larger than the tent and gave us a short veranda so not too much mud came inside. Having nothing better to do and not much light we simply went to bed.

The second night went much better as we had collected some dry wood at one of our scenic stops and we were able to have a proper fire. This was good as although the rain has mostly stopped, it was now extremely cold. It was here that the superiority of the long drop had to be overcome. It was a nice concrete block building with a handbasin and a working tap. The toilet was the usual hole with a seat but was enclosed in a concrete surround and was several feet deep.

It was whilst using this amenity, in the middle of the night, that disaster struck and the wallet fell out of my husbands pocket and down this inaccessible hole. We looked at the hole for a while as we could see the wallet at the bottom in the torchlight. It had fallen to the side of the main pile of excrement but was out of reach. I was a woman on a mission at this point as all our necessary stuff was in this wallet so I hatched a plan of rescue.

We first hunted through the woodpile for the longest branch possible that was rigid enough to not bend under pressure and to one end attached a pair of pliers. These happened to be very stiff so they stayed open unless pulled. To the unattached handle I tied a long piece of string and then took a loop around a handy twiglet. We lowered the entire thing down the hole and got the jaws around the edge of the wallet and carefully pulled the string to close the pliers. Once closed they were probably stiff enough to stay shut but I tied the string anyhow just in case. The wallet remained with the pliers and we regained our bits. I might add that juggling a torch, a piece of string and a branch in a toilet with your husband in the middle of the night is something that is hard to forget!

I washed the whole thing in hot water and antiseptic but it really hadn't suffered much. And that is why I will always put a ball of string in any emergency kit I make up.

The trip was wonderful too but I will always remember it for the time we lost the wallet down the long drop :)

viv in nz

The photo is one taken from the top of Mt Cargill last year.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Any old thing

Mother is a bit better. At least she can hold a sort of conversation now and she can stand with help and a big list to starboard :) She has lost so much control that knitting, which she is so fond of, is no longer an option. That is a major downer. I hope she will be able to get home again but have to face the fact that she may not be able to cope without special care.

Life goes on but does become somewhat restricted by age.

I am going to post a few pretty pics just to cheer things up :) These are all taken from our house during what I call sunset season. Around the end of autumn and ditto spring.

viv in nz

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bike in pond

I thought I might have already told this tale but it seems not so here it is.

The whole thing came about some years ago when I was still doing some astronomy with my brother and the local group. Although we were amateurs, we did do some fairly important stuff for professional groups from time to time. Mostly routine stuff that didn't need high powered equipment but just time and inclination and a modicum of equipment. The event involved this time was a reasonably rare occultation and we were sent out to a distant and isolated area to time said event. As a convenience I offered my brother a lift so he came out to my place on his motorbike which at the time was a substantial 1000 model and rather heavy. Due to the soft ground he decided to park the monster on the edging of my small fishpond which was all rock.

We then ate dinner and set off in my car, collecting another bod en route along with a telescope and box of bits. The weather did not look wonderful so we had rather a low expectation of any return but thought there was just a chance of a gap in the cloud. So there was - about 5 minutes after the event! Murphy's law strikes again with that well known line - The thickness of the cloud cover is in inverse proportion to the importance of the event!

We hung around for a bit looking at stars in a sort of desultory fashion as the moon was far too bright for anything really good and then packed up and headed for home. Slowly and in a very conservative manner as petrol was running a bit low (forgot to check) and there wasn't an open garage for eons. We finally made it into town and to the only 24 hour garage, then trekked down home again (I was living about 15 minutes out on the wrong side of town for this trip).

It was now just past one in the morning so I made us a cup of cocoa and offered the use of the spare bed for the night but my brother figured it would only take a short time to get home at that time of night so he geared up and went out to the bike. I didn't actually see the next bit but apparently he flipped up the stand and put his foot on the same rock it had been sitting on all evening. Said rock promptly left for the inner reaches of the pond taking his foot with it...... and the base of the pond was very slippery!

He was lucky in two respects. One - the pond was only about 8 inches deep and two - he had his helmet on which saved his head from damage on the rocks at the far side of the pond. (It really was an insignificant sort of pond - more like a muddy puddle and I filled it in eventually.)

Next thing I knew there was a beeping of the horn and I went out to see the bike plus rider in the pond with the upper side leg waving round in mid-air. I had to get into the pond myself to heave the thing off him and then it took both of us to get it out.

We reparked the bike very carefully and went inside. He was wet from top to toe so I handed him a bath towel and sent him off to the shower whilst I went hunting for some clothes that might possibly fit and a dry set of socks and slippers for myself.

He ended up in a very short t shirt, a pair of old pyjama pants in a fetching paisley pattern complete with paint splatters as I'd been using them as overalls over my normal clothes (I believe they originally came from my grandfather!) and a sloppy type of jersey complete with clowns :) I should explain that I am under 5 foot tall and he is nearer 6 feet and what you might call of generous proportions.

He stayed the night!

Most of his gear was dry enough to wear by the next morning - we had cleaned off the mud etc and hung it to dry- so he was able to make it back in time for work. The bike was unharmed but he decided to dispose of it anyhow as it really was a dog to handle on our sort of roads and replaced it with a rather nice 350cc. I think the fishpond finished off his love affair with large bikes for good!

viv in nz

The photo is Skilly (short for skillsaw) our younger cat. She is now 14 but this photo is a couple of years old - not that she has changed much! I chose this because she was found in a rubbish tin by my brother when she was only a few weeks old and he donated her to our house. I later got him back by donating our then elderly and cranky old cat back to him as she wasn't getting on well with our young cats and toddlers :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Mum is still struggling to be understood but is clearly there and understanding us. She should make a good recovery hopefully.

On the better news front I have now got an amplifier to replace the old one that was one large hummmmmmmmmmm. I have two channels again as well so I can listen to Pink Floyd again :) Along with the rest of my collection of classical etc. It is still an elderly machine about 17 years old but as my cd player is more like 30 years old and so are my speakers - it is still a baby.

It is Williams ballet exam tomorrow - grade 4 and I hope he remembers the theory this time - last year he froze solid even though he knew everything backwards. I think the examiner was a bit of a dragon :) The photo is from 2 years ago. (Note the forgotten feet!) I must not have one from last year. He looks much more dance like this year at 12. He even remembers he has feet mostly now. Sometimes he remembers he has hands too :)

viv in nz

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Just a short post to say that my mother was taken to hospital this morning with a stroke. It has affected her speech but it is too early to say what will eventuate out of this.


Monday, September 6, 2010


I have heard from the closest cousins in Christchurch via my mum and my Aunt and they are all fine. Their beautiful old villa has moved on its foundations but still seems intact so that is all good news. One of my sisters friends has lost a house and she hadn't heard from others yet. Most seem alright but probably lacking in crockery I'm thinking.

Its a good thing the building codes are so strong round here. They may be a nuisance but they do work even in so called safer places like Christchurch (ha!) That is necessary in a place like this where earthquakes are a regular occurrence. We have always had earthquakes so don't find them frightening round here but, of course, ours are mostly of very little account.

There is a minor fault system which cuts across the seaward end of the city and topples the odd chimney now and then and a deep trench off shore. The volcanic stuff is Miocene I think and all very extinct at present. There is a thought that if the big fault along the coast should change direction and reactivate, that would reactivate The volcanism but I suspect its not something we have to worry about at present.

The kitchen is still awaiting the removal of a door and the addition of a semi outside extension of the main hallway so the floor is still a big mess and so are the two old windows which don't function at all. The door to come out is the one main entry to the kitchen at present and leads right through a bedroom which is annoying to say the least! (It is supposed to be a dining room but we needed the bedroom much more.) The final plan is to have a big conservatory attached to the front of the kitchen but that requires finance that we don't have.

I was pleased to get the laundry out of the kitchen but have to say I think its even worse in the bathroom at present. There is exactly enough floor space in there for the bathmat and nothing else - about a meter squared on a good day! Its a good thing we don't run to large people :)

A new shower is the hoped for next improvement - can hardly wait even if it does mean I have to tile it myself.

The photo is our house before we put a new roof on it and removed the last chimney.

viv in nz

Saturday, September 4, 2010


An interesting night. We were woken up at about half past four in the morning by a loudish noise and lots of shaking and rattling. This was followed by a brief period of swaying like we were on a ship. After a moment it dawned - oh yes - an earthquake. It wasn't very bad here but I think Christchurch would have got a pretty good shake up - thats where the earthquake was centered as I discovered when I went on line.

These are quite common around here but are normally just mild to the point of almost undetectable. This was quite a good one :)

I've always found these things to be interesting rather than scary although I have to say I've never been in a really big one - that would be scary!

Wow!!! I just saw the coverage of poor old Christchurch. Its a bit of a mess. Hope the relatives aren't too damaged. Seems like nobody has died at least.

The photos are a sort of before and n0w on my kitchen. Not finished yet but at least it works better now and I don't have to use the laundry tub as a kitchen sink :)

viv in nz