Thursday, May 28, 2015

Deery me

I arrived home from my holiday just before 5pm and it was glaringly obvious that the deer had made the most of my absence. They had got the rhubarb and potato tops again and even nibbled the yams and silverbeet plants I have in the raised bed. New leaves were already forming on the rhubarb so they must have jumped the fence in the first week that I was away. My frustration turned to murderous intent yesterday morning when the deer returned during the night and trashed the rhubarb again, leaving just the dirt with hoof prints in. It's hard enough growing things here with the soil and short growing season and for the first time I'm seriously contemplating giving up altogether.

Inspired by this morning's sunshine I popped on a couple of loads of washing and decided to rig up a clothes line between the trees so the sheets would dry faster. The Weather Gods were playing games though and first the clouds rolled in, followed by the rain. BUT my brain started ticking and I wondered if I could use the washing line to string up some of my Mikroclima cloth between the garage and the house! This could hang above and also be attached to the fence that used to keep the deer out. Hmmm.

I removed the rest of the manuka from in front of the vege garden
so the deer have no cover now
A close inspection of the garage showed that I could possibly attach one end of the line to the framing and run it out of the door and across to the deck. The 2m-wide Mikroclima cloth has eyelets woven into the edge so I could weave the line through this, a bit like net curtaining. As long as the line's strong enough to cope with the weight, AND the wind doesn't rip it to bits, I'm hoping that this will be a temporary fix until I can get the tyre retaining wall in. Fingers crossed!

Threading the line through the Mikroclima cloth eyelets

...then attach the loose end to the deck post...

...and voila! Can whitetail deer jump this high??

Imagination Station

I enjoyed wandering around hardware stores in Christchurch but didn't go into many other shops; I've obviously been living the hermit life for too long! One place that did pique my curiosity was Imagination Station at Cathedral Junction on Worcester Street; it had interesting Lego 'things' in the window. We were welcomed inside to have a look round; sharing the space was a school group and a few other interested sightseers. Imagination Station is a charity-run play and education centre that opened in January 2015; free for adults and children although donations are very welcome.

All Black Lego Player in one window...

...and a stunning Lego map of Middle Earth in the other

Inside there were three distinct areas with mounds of Duplo in one, Lego in the second and Lego Technic in the third challenging the schoolchildren's engineering skills. There is also a suite of iMacs and opening hours are from 10am-6pm daily. I was very impressed - what a neat idea.

The Duplo play mat
The end of my holiday coincided with the wet, windy and cold snap that swept up the country. Flying back to the island from Invercargill was a lot calmer than it first appeared - we left in clear weather but ran into a wall of dark cloud halfway over Foveaux Strait; I needed to be sitting up front to get the best pics though.

Cloud bank in the middle of Foveaux Strait

The sky and the sea were the same grey!

Almost through the cloud as we neared Stewart Island

Low cloud hanging over the top of Stewart Island

Almost home
It's been almost two weeks since I arrived back and the weather has mostly been wet, cold and windy. We've escaped the extreme conditions that hit further north but we did get snow - photographic proof in my next blog!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Christchurch Rising

I spent a couple of days in Christchurch city in January 2011 as I made my way south to my new island home. It was four months after the September quake and there was an air of positivity as they fixed the damage whilst counting their blessings that nobody was killed. I had a yummy sushi lunch opposite the casino and walked around adjacent blocks looking for a Telecom store. Just over a month later the February aftershock dashed hopes of an early rebuild but gave rise to the indomitable spirit of Cantabrians. It's been exciting to see the changes each time I've visited the Garden City; still a lot of empty space but in several places this time I counted 3-5 cranes in every direction as the new buildings rise from the rubble.

Here are some pics of my wander around the CBD last week...

The new bus interchange - Stage I opened today and Stage II (shown here)
is expected to be finished in August 2015

A skyline of cranes

The great Re:Start pop-up shopping mall

Looking down the tram lines to the Bridge of Remembrance

Cathedral Square

The damaged ChristChurch Cathedral with an interesting plant-covered
whare to the right

Close-up showing the mass of plants

New Regent Street

Chapman's Homer sculpture by New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai
temporarily on display on New Regent Street

Love the artwork on the blue tarpaulin - very clever

The Cardboard Cathedral

Still a lot of space but Christchurch is rising once again

A community garden in the middle of the city

Interesting 'tree' sculptures made from what look like fence palings

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sign of the Kiwi

Our next stop was at Sign of the Kiwi on the town side of the Port Hills which we reached by driving over Dyers Pass Road from Governors Bay. Although I've driven past this distinctive building a few times I didn't realise it was such a good spot for walking and cycle trails.

After consulting the descriptive map we decided to walk the Mitchells Track, then link up with the Cedrics Track to make a full loop around the Sugarloaf communications tower.

The Mitchells Track is mostly in bush and skirts around the south-eastern flank of the old crater. It's an easy walk with stunning views across Lyttelton Harbour.

The regenerating bush was very different to that at home- a lot dryer underfoot and it took half an hour of looking to find this small fungi!

The return trip via Cedrics Track was a lot more open but it was in the sun and we had a tail breeze to help us. Great views all around and I'll be putting it on my bucket list to explore more of the area.

Looking north over Christchurch City

The 121m Sugarloaf Communications Tower

On the last leg - Sign of the Kiwi in the middle distance
Thanks for a great day out, guys - and thanks also to the weather gods that put on a stunning day.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mystery trip

Enough of the shops! The next day I was taken on a mystery tour, passing through Lincoln and Tai Tapu, then after 15 mins or so of flat land it was exciting to see some hills. We turned off the main road and on to Gebbies Pass Road - well, I think that's where we went! It wasn't long before tantalising glimpses of Lyttelton Harbour Inlet appeared; taking photos from the car was fun but it wasn't always easy with hedges and trees getting in the way.

Map courtesy of Google Maps

We arrived in Lyttelton right on lunchtime - we had planned to go to the Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant but it is closed Monday to Wednesday so strolled through town and ended up at the Lyttelton Coffee Company instead.

Port of Lyttelton

Lyttelton is perched on the slopes of an old volcanic crater rim

Lunch at Lyttelton Coffee Company

Great atmosphere inside the Lyttelton Coffee Company

Well watered and fed, it was back to the car for the next stage of my mystery trip!