Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Two hours to go until the end of 2011 and what an unforgettable year it's been! My personal journey has seen the realisation of my dream to live a simpler life amongst the birds and native bush - and it's been even better than I dreamt. For others it's been a year of highs (eg Rugby World Cup) and lows (eg the continuing aftershocks and devastation in Christchurch, Nelson floods). I hope 2012 will be a happy, healthy and successful year for all.

I won't be seeing the New Year in as I'm a tad knackered after a day of kayaking in Paterson Inlet (Whaka a Te Wera) - heaps of fun but hard work paddling back into the breeze and choppy water. I then did my rat line so burned quite a few calories today. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera so I can't share the magnificent views or the three blue penguins that entertained us with their antics.

New Year's Eve kayak - red = path out, blue = path back
The following pics were taken on Christmas Eve just before boarding the plane to Invercargill and taken at the Inlet end of the runway...

December 2011 weather stats: taken from
Average temperature     = 13.8°C
Average humidity        = 78%
Average dewpoint        = 9.5°C
Average barometer       = 100.9 kPa
Average windspeed       = 6.7 km/h
Average gustspeed       = 12.8 km/h
Average direction       = 86° ( E )
Rainfall for month      = 1.2 mm
Rainfall for year       = 1728.3 mm
Maximum rain per minute = 0.3 mm on day 29 at time 14:54
Maximum temperature     = 30.4°C on day 12 at time 13:04
Minimum temperature     = 4.6°C on day 19 at time 03:27
Maximum humidity        = 99% on day 29 at time 17:10
Minimum humidity        = 10% on day 25 at time 07:29
Maximum dewpoint        = 18.5°C on day 14 at time 17:14
Minimum dewpoint        = -18.9°C on day 23 at time 07:00
Maximum pressure        = 102.3  kPa on day 21 at time 23:11
Minimum pressure        = 98.7  kPa on day 14 at time 21:07
Maximum windspeed       = 38.9 kmh from 203°(SSW) on day 29 at time 14:54
Maximum gust speed      = 61.1 km/h from 225°( SW) on day 29 at time 14:53
Maximum heat index      = 29.0°C on day 12 at time 13:05
Avg daily max temp :19.9°C
Avg daily min temp :9.0°C
Growing degrees days :145.5 GDD
Total windrun = 4487.5km

Last, but not least, is one of Rakiura's special sunsets from 28 December taken from my house...

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christchurch, Christmas and Kiwi

The exhilaration of finishing my three month weed contract was tempered by news that more aftershocks had rocked Christchurch on 23 December. Luckily my flight up on Christmas Eve wasn't affected and I had an awesome weekend with Phil, Jeff and Colin. We spent two nights at The Chateau in the Park (great hotel, yummy food and huge beds) and walked, talked and biked away the hours. Lovely weather, good company, not too many jolts and a fun 18-holes of golf on the Wii made for an unforgettable family Christmas - thanks guys.

Christmas morning walk in Kennedy Bush Reserve
Christmas Day afternoon we walked through Hagley Park into the CBD to check out the new Cashel Mall Re:Start container shops which herald the start of the CBD rebuild. The complex has over 20 shops and was opened on 29 October 2011; great to see something creative amid the destruction.

Cashel Mall Re:Start container shops - a good morale booster

Cashel Mall - love the sunflowers

Cashel Mall looking toward the Bridge of Remembrance -
lots of carparks created by demolished buildings
I couldn't get over how much sunshine there was in the CBD - here's a couple of pics taken from the end of Cashel Mall into the zone that's still barricaded.

On our walk we passed building after building with either yellow (limited access) or red stickers (unsafe, probable demolition) on the door. Liquefaction 'volcanoes' and rollercoaster footpaths from last Friday's aftershocks remind us that Mother Nature hasn't got comfortable yet. Great to see the Canterbury spirit alive and well with residents taking the new aftershocks in their stride - kia kaha :)

I've had a few visitors since I got home...

Whitetail deer grazing on my driveway as night fell

Mother Duck and babes

Kereru atop the rimu
... and yesterday morning a male kiwi called right outside my bedroom window. I was awake when he started and counted 30 bars (whistles) - no wonder he sounded breathless at the end!!

Longest day stats:
Sunrise: 5.48am
Sunset: 9.41pm (takes another hour to get fully dark though)

I've got one more day to get a final post for 2011 - spot ya tomorrow!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A growing garden

So much for frequent postings! I see over two weeks has gone since my last offering so I will have to dredge my memory to play catch-up!

The walk-in greenhouse from TradeMe arrived at the end of November and on the first day of summer the good weather, plus the day off work, gave me the kick in the pants to spend the day in the garden. The greenhouse was relatively easy to put together up to waist height but the 2D diagram didn't really show how the two different ends went but I got there in the end.

Framework complete

Complete with plastic cover
Of course, to be able to put the greenhouse up, I first had to move the veges I had growing there. The brown canvas bags hold about 40 litres of potting mix and I can drag them fairly easily. I was surprised to find fungi growing on the sides and when I scraped it off, there was a strong smell of mushroom. Have checked a few books and websites and think it may be the edible 'ear fungus' - would be good to have that confirmed before I did the taste test!!!

Is this the edible ear fungus??
The pink aqua shield is working successfully as the silverbeet seedlings are growing well although the shield has now flopped over somewhat. It definitely creates a warm environment and worth testing on some other seedlings.

Aqua Shield - the surround is filled with water
The mussel buoys filled with potting mix are also a success - they're not as easy to move as the bags but still do the job nicely. I added some Bokashi compost to a couple of the bags and I've now got a great crop of pumpkin seedlings. I've been warned that they don't ripen here but I have enough seedlings to experiment and hopefully get a couple of pumpkins for winter soup.

Woohoo! I can grow vegetables here!
It's been a lot cooler today after some very hot and sunny days; it was lovely to get rain overnight after more than two weeks of dry weather - I'll be able to see the kiwi tracks in my mud puddles again!