Sunday, May 29, 2011

Almost there

It's been a different sort of week but great to see that my bathroom alterations are almost complete. The gib-stopper has made his first visit and taped all the joints - apparently he needs to come back another three times and then I can start painting and arrange for the vinyl/carpet layer to come over from Invercargill. When that's all out of the way then I can FINALLY have a shower!!

It's been a big learning curve for me as I had no clues about gib-stopping and paint types; the only bathroom renovation I've been involved with had a Seratone finish, which I (foolishly in hindsight) thought was the green gib finish. Doh! It would have been much simpler if I knew about that first as I'd now be having showers without worrying about gib-stopping and paint.

I'm back without a toilet cistern for a couple of weeks as there's a gib join right behind it. A bucket of water doesn't do the job quite as well but at least I have a sort-of-working toilet after 5 days without one! We were blessed with dry weather for the building - so much easier than what it would have been in the rain and wind that's now blowing through.

I've picked up a month's fulltime fieldwork with DOC and start this Tuesday on the Darwin's Barberry eradication team. I will be spending the next month out in all weather's searching for, and destroying, any barberry bushes. It's a garden escapee that likes Rakiura as much as I do but unfortunately takes over and can establish itself in dense bush. DOC put an eradication plan in place in 2001 and rotates between blocks every 8 (??) years. This year it's the township's turn, so I'll get to see a lot of ground that I haven't covered before. We search on a 4m x 4m grid and treat the cut stems with a gel to kill off the roots, otherwise it springs back up again. The team also gets rid of any other weed plant as it goes including Chilean Gunnera and Cotoneaster. The great thing about getting this job is that I'll be able to use DOC's shower at the end of the day.

Back to renovations - Jarrod's done a great job despite the lack of squareness of both the interior and exterior walls. So important to get these basics right at the start so that work in the future goes smoothly. Jed, the electrician, is going to replace my mishmash ceiling lights (5 of which were placed at random) with 2 ring fluorescent fittings - so much nicer with twice the light and less electricity use. He's put one up for me to try and it's amazing the difference it makes at night.

Right, enough talk - here's the photos! It's getting harder to fit in now that the gib is on the framing.

End 26 May - new office from deck
End 26 May - new bathroom
End 26 May - new rooms off lounge
End 26 May - new rooms from ranchslider

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Four days on

Alterations Day Five has dawned and Jarrod is hoping to get his work finished today. The Weather Gods have been wonderful and although we had a bit of overnight rain, it's dry with high cloud at present. I'll put some more photos up now and will write a more in-depth report once it's finished.

23 May end of day - shower plumbing
23 May end of day - laundry tub plumbing
24 May end of day - electrical work done and bathroom gibbed
24 May end of day - getting there!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More bathroom pics

The end of another day already. Jarrod's been a busy beaver and the rooms are taking shape, he's turned 2 doorways into one and cut the hole through to the 'office'. Grim came to pick up my old bath and cut down 5 of the rimu trees out from the deck - it's sad to have to remove them but they now block the sun for most of the day. I'll be able to cut them up for firewood as soon as their tops have died. To close the day on a perfect note I did my second listening survey - no morepork, weka or kiwi calls but the sky put on a stunning display of stars - 360 degrees of fairy lights - pure magic!

Master of the chainsaw
22 May lunchtime
22 May lunchtime
22 May end of day - new door position for bathroom and hole
cut for access into 'office'
22 May end of day - view from ranchslider. I had to stitch two photos
together but you sort of get the idea

Before and during

My bathroom alterations started yesterday and by knock-off time, Jarrod had made short work of gutting the two rooms and Rex had disconnected the toilet and handbasin. The house had a toilet and handbasin in one room and a claw bath in an adjoining room. The toilet will stay in its original position but everything else changes - the bath is removed and that room will be made smaller so that a shower, laundry tub and the washing machine can be installed in my new 'wet room'. There's not a lot of room to play with but Jarrod knows exactly what he's doing. Just as well too, as I still have trouble visualising the finished product!

Here's progress to date with some 'before' and 'during' photos...

Original - toilet and handbasin through left hand door

Original - bathroom from bifold door to deck

21 May early afternoon

21 May early afternoon - from bifold door

21 May mid afternoon - Jarrod moving framing to new position

22 May early morning - there will be a single door instead of two

22 May early morning - view from bifold

22 May early morning - view from lounge. Toilet stays in far corner with
900 x 900 shower where the handbasin was

It was a surprise to find that there were no Batts in the external walls of the toilet - I guess the original builder ran out and couldn't be bothered getting another bale delivered. Some other partitions have up to 5 pieces of Batts and there were gaps in the ceiling as well. You put a lot of trust in a builder and it's disappointing when they don't build to specifications yet still charge as if they had been done. I'm so lucky to have found Jarrod.

Can't wait to see what today will bring - exciting stuff!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Conservation activities

It's been a busy week for conservation activities. Last Sunday I had training for the kiwi/weka/morepork listening surveys that are being conducted during May and June. Each listening night starts 30 minutes before sunset and finishes two hours later and all calls from kiwi, weka and morepork are recorded for time, compass bearing and estimated distance. My site is by the gate to the oxidation pond (about 100m from home) and my first listening night was Tuesday, 10 May. I wrapped up warm, took my chair and settled in for the evening. There were plenty of bird calls to begin with, especially ducks and tomtits. I didn't hear any kiwi or weka, but was rewarded for my patience with some morepork 'cree' calls 15 minutes before finish time.

Oxidation pond site - the gate is to the left hand side of pic
Listening nights are held 4-7 days apart on any evening when it's calm and preferably not raining. I was going to do my second night tonight but the southerly front came through too quickly - maybe tomorrow!

Thursday's activity was weeding at the Community Native Plant Nursery down on Horseshoe Bay, a combined project with DOC, the Dancing Star Foundation, SIRCET and local/visiting volunteers. It's a lovely 45 minute walk from home to the nursery via the quarry and then along the beach. It was blowing quite fiercely and it seemed to be a head wind both from the southeast and the northwest! The wind was whipping the spray back from the waves and also picking up sand and blasting it around in mini sandstorms. I picked up a few branches for kindling as I walked home and came close to riding my broomstick as the gusts of wind topped 80 knots!

Friday morning was fine and calm again, just perfect weather for checking two rat lines that I'll now be checking twice weekly. The Halfmoon Bay Habitat Restoration Project (HMBHRP) includes a large-scale trapping operation over 210 hectares. I'm checking about 40 rat traps around Deep Bay, placed every 25m or so. It's a track that I hadn't walked before so surprises around every corner - it runs along Deep Bay, around the point and then up over the ridge. We caught three rats yesterday, two ships and one kiore. All good for my fitness; the round trip (red line) is about 2½ hours of solid walking from home so great exercise as well as keeping the rat population down.

The walk from home (top left) to the rat lines I'm checking (bottom right) - map courtesy of Google Maps
The HMBHRP covers the land to the right of the Golden Bay/Halfmoon Bay School labels

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Special Surprises

I have wonderful friends who have blessed me with surprises since I moved - parcels stuffed with goodies, newspaper cuttings from Taranaki Daily News and even a visit. I feel very spoilt but perhaps I can spread the love somewhat by sharing a couple of my latest surprises with you.

Pressie from New Plymouth

Inside the box were 26 wrapped presents, each with an alphabet letter. I decided to spin it out by opening one present every day. Magic!!

The photo below shows all the gifts with the exception of Present E, a Cadbury Creme Egg, that succumbed to taste testing over Easter!

The full list:
A is for Apple Slices
B is for Balloons (Smiley Face ones)
C is for Candles
D is for Duck
E is for Cadbury Creme Egg (very yummy)
F is for Feathers - a beautiful bunch
G is for Gnome (Grow your own Gnome, grows 600% its size)
H is for Hand Cream
I is for Italian Herbs
J is for Jelly
K is for Kokako article - is the South Island Kokako still alive?
L is for Lemon Juice
M is for Milk Powder
N is for Nutella
O is for Oxo Cubes
P is for Popping Corn
Q is for Quick-Eze
R is for Razor
S is for Soup Mix
T is for Tea (Dilmah Chamomile)
U is for Umbrella
V is for Vegemite
W is for Weetbix
X is for Instant Kiwi Crossword
Y is for Yellow Brick
Z is for Zucchini Seeds

Thanks so much, Jen - Mum and I have had such a great time opening your gift.

Pressie from Hamburg, Germany

I don't know how Sabine managed to fit so much in a packet but it was such fun to unwrap. The packet had a strong smell of strawberry (from the candles), so I wasn't surprised at all that MAF had officially opened it en route. Here's a few close-ups...

The credit card is solid chocolate... but if I eat it then I can't use it. What a dilemma! Many thanks Sabine - what a special surprise!

I really appreciate the creativity and effort that's gone into these special gifts and it's given me ideas for presents to give to others. I'll be on the lookout for interesting wee bits from now on!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quarry road hill

I got my first trolley-load of seaweed this afternoon - only a small bagful as I wanted to make sure I could haul it up the hill to the quarry. It's hard enough to walk up without carrying anything and I was a bit worried as the trolley doesn't have a brake! There's only one way to find out though and that's to do it.
I did a spot of beachcombing first - lots of shells amongst the seaweed. The toroa (oystercatchers) were combing ahead of me but perhaps for different treasure. High tide was only an hour away but still plenty of beach on Horseshoe Bay.

The seaweed that washed up a week or so ago is a mixture - lots of different colours and textures and very little kelp. This stuff rots down quickly so great for the garden. I half-filled a rubbish bag with the topmost layer as it's drier/lighter, then set off for the hill climb. I'll take my GPS unit next time to get vertical height - it's quite daunting just looking at it but I put my head down and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. There's a couple of flattish bits so I could catch my breath and eventually I got to the top - magic!

I filled the trolley with manuka trimmings (it's great for kindling) then made the trek home; it's downhill from the quarry to the Hicks Road intersection but then there's another uphill for a few hundred metres but nowhere near as steep as the quarry road. Mission accomplished at 1.40pm - I'll have to try two bags next time :).