Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Boring day to day stuff

So yesterday the marina sent out emails for wind warnings.  Fortunately yesterday the wind was blowing from the NE which we are protected from.  Today, no email but saw gusts to 45 kts!  The wind has shifted back to its normal W/SW state, a state that we are not protected from, so its been quite the ride!!  Definitely glad to be tied to the dock and not on anchor.  Also a good day to catch up on my blogging.

Not much exciting happening in our world really.  Dennis' current project is building a still.  Gin (well alcohol in general) is very expensive here, so not only does this project keep Dennis occupied, it should pay for itself in the end.  He is doing tons of research (as per Dennis protocol), making trips .to the hardware store, plumbing store and I think we have visited all of the brew shops in the greater Auckland area.  Of course it is a "some assembly required" project, so not exactly sure when the first bottling will occur.  In the meantime I try to stay out of his way, help when needed and provide regular feedings.

A work in progress

 Josh starts school next week - hard to believe.  I managed to pick up his uniforms at the shop - all second hand and in great shape.  All the money saved there went into new running shoes ($200 on sale) and black school shoes ($99 also on sale).  Josh observed that we doubled the number of shoes he owned all in one day.  I suppose he will get alot of use out of both, but still - ouch!  He is excited to go back, and will start as part of an established group of friends, which he is really happy about.  It surprised us to discover how stressed he was about making friends.  We just don't see that as an issue for him as he gets on so well with adults.  But, I guess when we thought about it, it would be stressful to go to a new school not knowing anyone.  Thanks to Mera, that is not an issue now.  We anticipate that between his curriculum and water polo that he will be very busy.  He has certainly had a busy social life this summer.

I am trying to keep busy as well.  A little challenging given the boat doesn't lend itself to more than one project at a time.  I have been spending some time with Kim's mum Pam (Kim is my friend that works here at the marina) .  Pam is visiting from S. Africa, helping Kim out with her 2 boys during the summer break.  She is good company and I will miss her when she heads home this week.  I did try my hand at making granola to go with our homemade yoghurt.  My first attempt was pretty disappointing, but trying to eat thru it so I can try again.  Thanks to everyone that sent me their recipes.  I also want to try to make my own sausage, as the sausage here is not really growing on us.  I have a meat grinder, but need to find a "stuffer" attachment.  I guess I have been spending too much time with Dennis in the DIY brew shops.  Seems that DIY cheese making and sausage making go hand in hand with beer brewing, spirit distilling and wine making.  Yes, I really need my work visa to come through..........

We did move the boat from G dock to F dock on the 12th.  It went well with the help of Pam and the boys.  We will have to move again in February - only 2 slips down the same dock.  We will be 10 steps closer to land.  Our current finger neighbor will be happy to see us and our steps leave.  He works out of his boat - a small import/export business.  Personally I have seen him wearing a full mask respirator - hmmm just exactly are we making?????  Anyway our new finger neighbors do not live or work aboard, so should be a better arrangement. 

So there you have it - my hurry up and wait for a visa life.  Trying to think positively and not stress too much.
Dock steps - storage compartment view
Yep they are big and take up more than our half of the finger.  The wind has us pushed far away from the dock today.  You can also see the bike storage arrangement.  I am not able to get mine (front) off from the dock when the wind blows like this.
Dennis' lime and mandarin trees - We had to bring them in to protect from the wind

2 peppers and a fern to round out the garden.

Shakespear Regional Park 18 Jan 2014

A beautiful weekend for a walk, so we headed a little north to Shakespear Regional Park.  Originally settled by the Maori, then the Shakepear's who had a sheep farm.  This was a beautiful walk that started on the beach and circled the headland of the Whangaparaoa penninsula.  We saw Pukeko's, native NZ birds that make chickens look like rocket scientists and California quail - the males have "ludicrous" top knots.  Baby quail are so tiny they looked like leaves blowing across the path.  As they rustled in the tall grass next to the trail, I was again reminded of "Jurassic Park" as the velociraptors (I think) stalked their prey.  Of course I have no pictures of these birds.  The quail were too fast, and was too tired by the time I figured out what the Pukekos were.  The trail itself was more like a walk thru the pasture land, lots of hills and sheep. The fences have sheep proof grates (like for cows), regular vehicle gates and sheep-proof gates.  We are getting better, but still have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves fit.  The other thing I forgot to get a picture of was the PPF (Predator Proof fence).  It keeps out all the bad transplants - rats, possums, rabbits, stoats, mice and cats.  They are hoping the Kiwi will return to this park.  In between the grazing fields they have replanted native trees and grasses.  After our hike we drove down to Gulf Harbor Marina to check it out. Even though we are exposed here at Bayswater, we still like the location the best.  Enjoy the pictures:

 Oh did I mention the Park is bordered by a military area?  I loved the signs and the fact that we didn't have to sign a waiver to get this close.  The bottom of the first sign says "Do not touch any military debris, It may explode and kill you".  Really?  I just love this place!!!

 You can see the fence for the military land just past the signs.

 The view from the lookout - looking back towards Te Haruhi Bay where we started from.  The red roof on the middle left is the Shakespeare homestead.

 And here is one of the many sheep.  You can see the track goes through their pasture.


 Looking north.  I love the way the water looks at low tide.
 Looking south.  Great day for sailing.  This was Pink beach - I guess it sort of looks pink - if you squint and look thru your polarized sunglasses.  :)  More Kiwi humor?
 A sheep proof gate that even if you left unlatched the sheep can't get thru.
 Looking down on Te Haruhi Bay.   I love the trees on the ridge line.  If you enlarge the picture you can see that they are almost perfect.
Auckland - far left
Takapuna  - center

The beach at Te Haruhi Bay with the cool trees from above.  Okay I looked them up - they are Norfolk Island Pines (araucaria heterophylla). 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mercer Bay Walk Jan 2, 2014

The weather here is a little different in terms of summer than we are used to.  None of this "every day is nice, with varying degrees of hot and sunny".  Nope it rains here in the summer – often.  So when a good day comes along we have decided you have to use it to our best advantage.  With that in mind we decided on Jan 2 to go for a walk in the Waikatere Regional Park.  In deference to our not so fit bodies, we chose the Mercer Bay Walk.  The book describes it as an easy 40 minute walk with great views.  Good thing we chose an easy walk as the up and down about did us in.  A real trail is more difficult than the walks we have been doing here in Bayswater.   Regardless, it was a beautiful walk with excellent views.  I loved the textures of the hills, so different than what we are used to.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice.  After our walk, we decided to have our lunch on the beach we could see to the north.  Typical Kiwi humor – the black sand beach is called Whites beach – go figure?  And, I am pretty sure that of the 4.5 million people in NZ – at least a 10th of them were at this beach.  There is only one road in and out, so I am glad we left before the hordes.  The road is windy and narrow – puts Patterson Pass to shame.  We saw one cyclist – definitely a risk taker.   Enjoy the pictures:

 Mercer Bay Walk - View to the south

Carol with the NZ Tiki (not the correct Maori word) woman.  Legend says she died of a broken heart on this cliff mourning for her husband who died out on the water fishing.
 Mercer Bay Walk to the south - higher up
The picture doesn't do the texture of the hillside justice, but I really loved the way it looked.
 Whites Beach from up high.  Sure doesn't seem crowded from up here   
Whites Beach and the Hordes
Toes in the black sand photo op for all my friends needing to participate in a "Code Lime"