Monday, October 03, 2005

Photos will follow.

Back at work now (sigh) following a fun filled week at SunnyO. Sheep were sheared, fires were burned, a clothes line was built & erected, and a planned barbecue area beyond the deck was pegged out.

Mrs Llew meanwhile, created a stunning garden vista out of a corner of a paddock that previously looked like toxic wasteland.

Over the course of a week, Wilma encountered at the beach 3 dead seagulls, and a recently washed up dead sheep - which she clearly wasn't too sure was dead (it was).

We drove up last Saturday morning, traffic was light & we had the whole afternoon to play & plan our week ahead.

The shearer guy rang me on Sunday to say he'd visit at 7am (!!) Monday to do the bizzo on the motley looking flock. Which meant I had to have them them penned for the first time since the pen was rebuilt in Autumn by close of play that night.

It took 5 of us to do it, not including Wilma, whose presence usually spooks the sheep too much. And it took us about 15 minutes, which wasn't bad. A couple of mis-steps, then suddenly, they were all in the pen.

Only thing was, after they were all successfully shorn, and released back into the wild, I headed back to the house for a shower. By the time I emerged, the troops were up & about & Mrs Llew informed me "The sheep are out!". And it transpired I'd forgotten to shut all the gates, Mrs Llew & Wilma went outdoors & found themselves face to face with the beasts who were trotting around, checking out the new growth on the citrus trees they'd pretty much stripped the last time this happened 6 months or so ago.

Without panicking though, the mere presence of Wilma gave them the encouragement to head right on back to the side of the fence they belonged.

Then began my week long task of building a new clothesline in time for visiting Christmas hordes. The priority was upped by the death of the old clothes dryer that we'd been relying on since the last clothesline disintegrated a year or so back. We also bought a very cheap & basic dryer to replace the dead one.

But the clothesline... I'm not much of an artisan, but we'd bought one of those retractable 4 string lines & I needed to mount it on a post. A visit to Mitre 10 was in order, and a suitable 2.4m post was procured. The clothesline said it was 26m long & so I figured that I needed to put the post in at one end of the site & the line would extend to a handily placed tree at the other end. Easy! Except I didn't count on the 26m being the total line length - so extended length is actually 26 divided by 4... it was a few days before I realised this...

First task was to put a T bar on top of the post, then brace it with a couple of struts, then plant it in a concrete base. This went well, only requiring about 6 trips back & forth from Mitre 10 buying coach bolts, then returning to buy the "right" coach bolts, then again later to get more & different coach bolts etc, and a suitable drill bit... culminating in my last visit of the week, the following saturday, to get another post, since the line did not extend to the tree after all, more ready mixed cement to plant it in & 5 more coach bolts.... "Hello sir! Always a pleasure to see you" doesn't come close... Also my work with the struts left a bit to be desired. I must get one of those things that lets you cut precise 45 degree angles... as it was I did it with a chainsaw & the results are.... charmingly ramshackle looking. No matter however, there're more coach bolts holding the structure together than went into the Eiffel tower I think.

My fire burning took two whole days to complete. Such was the success of the first, where I kept the home fires burning, while two bored young girls (M & her cousin, also M) trudged back & forth the length of the paddock bringing me more & more fuel, and we burned 2 years of rubbish that day, that we held another one in a different spot the next day & pretty much the whole 3 years of old trees & branches, were consumed & the ashes raked flat. Brilliant!

On top of all this, 15 metres of milled post about the size of railway sleepers were delivered, which will form the border of paths & paving, which by Xmas day, will comprise our nifty new barbecue area (and also our cunning plan to convert several square metres of unsightly concrete slabs to attractive gravel & stepping stones).

There was a weird interlude on Thursday afternoon, when we had to return to town to get M to the airport to visit rellies in Auckland. The rellies gave us the wrong departure time so she & I turned up at the airport an hour & a half earlier than we needed to. Tedious. Mrs llew & I stayed in town that night & drove back to SunnyO the very next day. Got caught in holiday traffic it seemed (or maybe just roadwork disruption), regardless, we arrived an hour late for our dinner appointment at Byron Brown's restaurant & they'd sold out of whitebait. I'm reliably informed that their whitebait omelettes are to die for, but after 2 years hearing about them, we've never managed to sample them... oh well, next year I suppose.

I spent all of that last saturday with spirit level, tape measure, string & stakes & marked out the precise area to be paved. Base coarse, bedding sand & pavers will be ordered soon for the next extended sojourn to the coast.

And Mrs Llew the whole time these titanic struggles were going on? Weeding, mulching, buying, planting... and the capper was a large area near our shed, turned from waste ground to well mulched & weeded dahlias, she's even marked out the area she wants bordered so that we have paths to & from. I daresay this area will look fantastic this time next year.

Driving back to town for the last time yesterday, believing we had plenty of time to get to the airport to retrieve M, we were startled to discover two things: 1. M's arrival time was one hour earlier than we'd been led to believe (bloody rellies!) and 2. Daylight saving had kicked in a week earlier than we thought & suddenly we were in a hurry!

And the flight was delayed for 2 hours anyway...