Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lettuce Galore

The lettuces have been another success in the garden. The cold frame is stuffed full of lettuces of all different kinds and varieties. They are real easy to grow and they have saved us a fortune.

The cold frame was built out of some timber left by the builders so it cost me nothing. I bought the plastic sheet and some rope to keep it secured from Bunning's (a DIY warehouse).

There is another side to the cold frame which is just as big and this is being used to germinate some native seeds for a shelter belt which we will plant out next year.

Christmas Dinner New Potatoes

A couple of months ago we planted some sprouting potatoes into the garden. This morning we went outside to dig up some new potatoes for our Christmas dinner.

We were really pleased to see loads of potatoes when we started pulling up the roots. Some four roots later we had more than enough.

Dad in Da House

Mum and dad have been staying with us and yesterday we took them to Hanmer Springs to enjoy the hot water. Dad let his hair down (the best he could!) and got dressed up in a rugby shirt, three quarter sports pants and not forgetting his lid (a base ball cap).

I have to say the clothes rather suited him!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Perth Royal Mint

The Perth Royal Mint is literally just up the road from where we are staying. We have no idea what used to happen inside because we have been too busy working to go and visit!

You can see the gates are firmly closed!

More information can be found here:

Mike enjoys a nice Green Salad

After being told by our client that he was 'piling on the pounds' Mike has gone on a diet. You can see him enjoying a nice green salad for his tea.

"Fishing Trip"

My line manager asked what we where going to achieve on this business trip and I replied that we were planning to go 'big game fishing'. During the last couple of days that is exactly what we have been doing! You can see myself and Mike after a hard days graft 'out at sea' out at Fremantle Harbour.

The Perth Skyline

The Perth skyline is seriously impressive with many sky scrappers in the central business district.

The Bell Tower

The Bell Tower is an impresssive piece of architecture down by the Perth waterfront.
This historic ring of bells was gifted to the people of Western Australia as part of the national Bicentennial celebrations. The Bell Tower includes the twelve bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields which are recorded as being in existence from before the 14th century and recast in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I. The bells were again recast between 1725 and 1770 by three generations of the Rudhall family of bell founders from Gloucester in England, under the order of the Prince of Wales who was later crowned as King George II. They are one of the few sets of royal bells and are the only ones known to have left England.
A taxi driver told us the structure cost $6 million dollars to build and it cost the politician who wanted to build it his job! I must admit to rather liking the structure.
More information can be found at:

Trip to Perth Western Australia

After some 10 hours travelling myself and Mike, one of my colleagues, arrived in Perth in Western Australia. We had a few problems connecting with our shuttle bus but we eventually arrived at our accommodation and we both jumped in to the pool to cool off.

Mike is showing how many times he tried to blag our way into an Air New Zealand Koruclub lounge. Needless to say he was successful on at least one occasion.

I have to take my hat off to him for his determination and effort!

The Mighty Waimakariri

One of the major landmarks that you see flying out of Christchurch is the mighty Waimakariri river. The Waimakariri is a threaded river teaming with fish and other wildlife and flows from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean just north of Kaipoi.

Air New Zealand Empty Seats

Flying out of Christchurch on the international connection NZ90 brought home to me the scale of the current slowdown in the travel industry. The back of the Boeing 777 was just about empty with plenty of spare seats. I hope my former colleagues at House of Travel are all doing okay.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Two Jags

My brother and my sister-in-law have been to stay for a couple of weeks on their world tour. Andy has been working as a political lobbiest for a homeless charity and often meets with senior politicians in the UK and Europe.
On our obligatory day excursion to the 'West Coast' we called in to see his mate 'Two Jags' between Reefton and Greymouth. The two Jaguars have been up-ended and have been used as gate posts.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sky ride

One of our neighbours has a helecopter and Jake and his mate Jordan have been promised a ride. Today was their lucky day and they were taken for a flight out towards the Torlesse mountains.

Our house can been seen on the top right hand side. If you look hard enough you will see me on my red tractor mower!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Papabear sets up Blog

After the very successful JOTI 2008 camp this weekend, papabear has set up his own blog. This can be found at the appropriately named ;0)

Please feel free to pass on your comments!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

JOTI 2008

It is hard to believe that the Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) has come around yet again. We have again been back to Cotswold School this weekend and have been using IRC to contact scouts and guides around the world. We have had over 80 people attend the event.
A great time has been had by all and a big thank-you goes to the Bishopdale and Harewood Scouts team who have organised the event on behalf of the Torlesse scouts zone. I personally haven't laughed so much in a long time!

I have been running a seperate blog for the event which can be found here:

I have a nasty feeling my colleagues are going to 'get me back' for some of my posts at the annual zone scout camp in January! I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Vegetable Garden takes Shape

After a lot of hard work over the last few weeks the vegetable garden is starting to take shape. I decided to use raised beds because it makes it much easier to look after and it gives the plants some protection from the wind. I have been using some of the firewood that I bought earlier in the year so it has only cost me price of the nails to put together.

Real Compost

Rangiora Landscape Supplies do a 'veggie mix' compost which is ideal for putting on your garden. The compost is a mix of wood chippings, horse manure, chicken manure, pig manure and mushroom compost. It is a real wholesome product and it helps your veggies to grow. It costs NZ$15 (£5.25 ) per 1/3 cubic metre scoop and four scopes just fits in my trailer nicely.

The thing I like about this product is it is totally natural. It does NOT contain chicken blood, feathers, hatchery waste, meat products, food waste, human sewage or any of the many other unsavoury ingredients that DEFRA allows to be composted in the UK.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


A weather front has just passed through and we have been left with clear blue skies and a beautiful rainbow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Veggie Garden Starts to Take Shape

The firewood has again been put to good use to make raised beds for the vegetable garden. We now have some 7 raised beds in production with another twelve cut out and ready for construction. The wooden frames provide protection from the nor'wester winds which can burn the leaves of the seedlings.

This box is a metre square and is about 30 cm high; it contains red cabbage and celery. The stones have been collected from digging the ground.

Fruit Bushes Planted

Over the last couple of weeks I have been busily planting the fruit bushes. To date, I have planted gooseberry's, red currents, black currents, raspberry's (early and late varieties), boysenberry's, blackberry's and blueberry's.

Roll on the summer!

Dining Room Sunsets

The sunsets from the dining room are breath taking ... absolutely fantastic.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tunnel Shed

Cutting firewood in winter is not much fun. What we need is a big shed to provide some shelter when cutting the wood and to keep the firewood protected from the elements.

Mark, my neighbour (of electric fence testing fame) has a business called L. T. Sheds and he kindly offered to knock me up a wooden frame for a 2.4 metre by 3 metre tunnel shed. He makes tunnel shed kit sets in his workshop and offers them for sale via The sheds can be either clad in corrugated steel or they can be clad in plastic to create a green house. To keep costs down I found some recycled corrugated steel on for NZ$70 (£26) which has been more than enough to clad both the shed and the roof of the chicken run with plenty left over to spare.

I am really very pleased with the end result which could only be improved by a lick of paint.

A big thank-you goes to Mark for all his help and time.

Work Permits successfully secured for Hens

Work permits have finally been secured for 8 point of lay Shaver hens who moved into the hen house earlier this week after a long selection process. Spokeshen, Marjory Clucker pictured on the right hand side said, 'We are delighted to have secured employment although we were not very happy about the transport provided from the hatchery. It was undignified to have to share a cardboard box with 7 other hens.'.

Despite the complaints over the travel arrangements the girls have settled in very well and have already started laying some three weeks ahead of schedule. Each hen has been given 3 weeks to meet their production target of one egg per day.

The hens came from Heslips Hatchery which is near Fairlie in South Canterbury.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain

We have had a bit of rain in the last 24 hours. The River Eyre 'runs' about 400 metres from where we live. However the river is a dry river bed and seldom has any water in it.

However, judging by the water in my wheel barrow (System International Unit of Rain Fall - or at least it should be!) we must have had 15 cm of rain overnight!

Anyway, the Eyre is ... er, flowing like a river again.

I was talking to a chap who was also taking photos and he said that in the 8 years he had lived here, he had only seen water in the river twice.

I bet he drinks Carling Black Label!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fishing at Kekerengu

Over the weekend we stayed in a lovely batch on the north east coast of the south island between Blenheim and Kaikoura. Jake (my son) and I spent all day Sunday fishing on Kekerengu beach. It was a lovely winter's day and we literally had the whole beach to ourselves.

We usually have a small bet with each other when we go fishing - a dollar for the first, biggest and the most fish. I can blame my brother Andrew for starting this family tradition! We were fishing with two 8 foot rods and using oily fish as bait.

Jake caught the first fish - a small but very respectable red cod. 1:0 to Jake.
After being 'down' for most of the morning I pulled back by catching a couple of medium size dog fish making it 2:1 to me. Jake then struck into a good sized dog fish - it was now evens at 2:2!

I pulled back by catching another good dog fish making it 3:2 to me before it was time to call it a day.

Jake won $2 for catching the first and the biggest fish although he had to give me a dollar back for catching the most fish. Jake was more than happy - he was a dollar up aferall!

You can eat dog fish but I couldn't be bothered to skin them so we threw them back. The red cod had no such escape ....... I am pleased to report it lived upto expectations and was very tasty!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Best NZ Rump Steak

When we lived in the UK rump steak was always a bit of a treat because it was so expensive - you could pay upwards of £3.99 per lb.
I was in Pak 'n' Save Northlands yesterday evening and they had a special on their rump steak at NZ$8.95 per kilo. With the exchange rate of $2.60 to £1 that makes it £1.56 per lb!
We enjoyed some porterhouse steak last week but it was a little more expensive at NZ$9.95 per kilo or £1.74 per lb.
Where is the bar-b-que? Yum!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Enjoy a Diet Cat Break

Meet Mango who is one of our two resident mousers. She is into just about everything!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Death in the Cook Islands

Death in the Cook Islands is regarded very differently than by the western world. Loved ones who have passed away are kept close to home and are literally buried in the back garden.

The memorials also provide a cool place to sleep in the heat of Summer.

Welcome to the Rarotonga departure lounge ...

An outside departure lounge at Rarotonga airport - absolutely fantastic!

To Aitutaki and back

One of the perks of working for a travel agent is you get to go and see some interesting places. Last Christmas, my team won a team trip to any destination on the Air New Zealand network. After much debate, we decided to go to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

We flew out to Rarotongo and stayed at the Edge Water resort. However, we had a surprise excursion to Aitutaki.

We flew with Air Ratotonga leaving Rarotonga at 0800 on a small Saab turbo prop.
After flying for 40 minutes we started our decent into Aitutaki. We flew over the lagoon and approached the island from the north, landing on an air strip built by the Americans in 1942 during World War 2.
The airport at Aitutaki is a little bit basic (an under statement!) but the welcome was very warm.
A man playing in his ucayali welcomed our arrival to the island - Pacific Islanders know how to make people feel very welcome!

Our tour host for the day was a man called Phil who was originally from the island and was a mind of information - he seemed to know most of the island inhabitants.

1900 people live on the island. Power is provided between 0600 and 2359 by two diesel generators. The container ship comes once a month, but if it is too rough it doesn't stop and steams onto Auckland.

The bus took us to the main town and we had chance to walk around.

After a short time we joined our boat and cruised around the lagoon for the rest of the day.

The TV series Shipwreaked and Survivor is filmed in Aitutiki and we payed a visit to 'Sharky Island'. We went snorkling and enjoyed a tuna lunch. After which we sailed to One Foot island.

One island has no inhabitants but it has a post office (UK eat your heart out!) so it was a great opportunity to sit under a palm tree and write my post cards while drinking a cool beer.

Alas, it was time to go home so we went back on the boat, steamed back to Aitutiki and caught the flight back to Rarotonga.

I'll be going again ...... but next time I will take my wife, Yvonne!

How I miss Holme-on-Spalding Moor!

How much for a trailer load of firewood?

It is winter here in New Zealand. During the evening the temperature can drop and you need to keep warm. There is nothing better than snuggling down in front of a roaring log burner.

So how much is firewood? Well, the trailer below which is 4 foot 6 inches by 7 foot cost cost a whole NZ$10 to be filled up with firewood. That is just under £4 for a whole months worth of heat. What a bargain!

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's all work and no play being a scout leader ............

It's all work and no play being a scout leader ... er, except when you get to enjoy a coffee at the Cafe Paris. I hastern to add we were watching the scouts do a treasure hunt around Hokatika and the outside tables gave Roger and I a great vantage point to 'watch what was going on' while we enjoyed a much needed caffine fix.