Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Years

There was a bit of an issue over the New Years break. My older sister Mel is running a high country station almost on her own and it is so intensive that she rarely even gets to leave in the weekend - let alone have a decent catch up with her friends.

This year she was determined to spend a bit of time with her man, then visit a lot of friends in the lower part of the South Island. The issue is that she has a friend from the US staying. He has no car, no phone, and didn't know the phone numbers of his only other NZ contacts (of which there were two).

So I agreed to leave the compost and the birds at Strowan and make my way to a meeting point about 40mins south of Ashburton at a place called Arundel. There I collected Josh and brought him back while Mel + man travelled to the lakes district. Actually I think they only made it as far as Twizel at the time.

Josh and I industriously deadheaded some of the roses in the gardens at Strowan. (There are over 200 of the buggers). Then as New Years approached we clambered into my brother's diesel Toyota Starlet and started to make our way down to Wanaka.
The day was hot and dry and I really developed some serious driver's arm. We didn't really stop on the way down - except for fuel, lunch and a couple of snapshots here and there. I thought Josh would have been interested in some of the sights as we travelled but I suppose it was all the same to him.

As we arrived in Wanaaka we made contact with the sister, and ended up pitching my most fantastic tent on the back lawn of her friend's house. Donna's husband works on the farm which is owned by Shania Twain (and husband) and that family pay the rent on the house so it sounds to me like the perfect setup!

New Years Eve however was a bit of the let-down. Wanaka is one of the most popular venues in New Zealand for the event so it was very crowded. I did meet up with some old classmates from high school though which was great.

In the end I walked up the hill to go to bed almost immediately after the new year came in, as I wasn't feeling very well. Please don't assume I was off my trolly! Not true.

Anyway, the point of this most wasn't to tell you all about my pear-shaped New Years, that's all just setting the scene. Because on the way back home Josh and I stopped at Lake Pukaki which is between the road and New Zealand's highest Mountain - Mt Cook.
Mt Cook is also known by the local Maori as Aoraki. (Standardisation of the Maori language has brought in the North Island dialects, and officially the Maori name for Mt Cook is actually Aorangi).

So below are some photos I took of Lake Pukaki, Josh, and in the distance - over the lake, the beautiful Aoraki.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

I am standing Vigil for Sir Edmund Hillary as he lies in state as part of the RNZAF Catafalque Guard.

Therefore I will be practicing all weekend and unable to stay tuned to the blogging arena. Just in case you are looking out for me - my stints will be somewhere between 1600 and 2000 NZT on Monday and 0400 - 0800 NZT Tuesday.

And now I should like to propose a toast to that most amazing yet modest man, Sir Ed!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Compost and the Birds at Strowan

"Strowan" is the house and grounds (oooooh!) my parents have bought for their retirement. Problem is, they're not very good at retiring.
Mum now has two houses and two gardens to look after (they haven't moved out of the homestead yet) and Dad is busy turning the old sheds into...well, sheds! And along with my brother Jim, he has been turning the paddocks into bales of hay.

Anyway, I thought the Llama might be interested in Dad's compost heap. I'm not sure how much Dad knows about composting, but I'm sure in this instance he's decided, 'The bigger, the better!'

Yes, the planks are so that he can back the mower up and dump the clippings directly onto the heap.

On another note - it was so hot and dry at Strowan, the sparrows were desperate for a bath. They had to be satisfied with a shower.

Note: This might look better if you click on the picture for the larger image!

More soon!