And life takes over again

Hi! I’ve not written for almost two weeks now & I feel like a lot has been going on!

Germination

Broad bean baby in mini greenhouse made from a milk bottle. November 2018

We’ve had a lot of progress in our garden. The above photo feels like old news now. I’ve been working on a very nerdy but useful spread sheet that lists when seeds are sown, germinate and are ready to harvest, among other details, including notes! I love it.

This photo is from about 2 weeks ago now. The broad bean is much larger now and when I looked at it (and its neighbour) I think they are almost ready to be staked. We’ve had such crazy weather with so much rain, gloom clouds and very little sunshine but the garden seems to be coping regardless.

We’ve got 4 active raised garden beds now. 1 has zucchini, one has lettuces, spring onions and onions, one is a 3 sisters planting and the first and final bed has carrots, beetroot, spinach and silverbeet. We’ve had to do a lot to protect our beds from our cat with moderate success…. The plants just need a little longer to really establish. My radish sowing is doing amazingly with expected harvest of round one next week. I have already done a successive sowing too!

The above photos illustrate the kind of weather we’ve had lately. This is CRAZY for November in New Zealand…. you know…. Summer!

I started staining our fence but didn’t get very far before I realised that the weather was far too dodgy and I’d have to call it quits. This is STILL the case. I want to do more after work each day but I can’t until the weather clears. It’s frustrating as the bit I’ve done looks great and I want to do more!!

I’ve had some garden sadness too. It looks like the 3rd broad bean plant rotted and some kind of critter (slug probably) ate one of my radish plants. This is part of being a gardener, you have loss as well as success. I think I might have lost some onions to the cat’s digging too. I’m thinking I might have to strategise better and let seedlings get much larger, growing more from seed, before planting them out. We have celery on the way but they are still very tiny though abundant. I need to look into other cat deterrents too as I’ve had a couple of suggestions to follow up.

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Our photogenic digger cat. November 2018

There is a lot more going on – basil seedlings doing well, a butterfly garden planted, swan plants too, much landscaping. I need good weather and I need good pictures!

I love being productive and working in our garden. I go to work wishing I could stay home and work there despite actually enjoying my job a lot. It’s bit of a crazy world. My Love has just secured a new role too which is really great in the scheme of our life together & our planning for our wedding have been part of the reason I’ve not written much lately – as well as nephew’s birthday and wedding dress fittings. ❤

Life feels busy but productive when you put it all together like this. I’m probably not writing coherently at this point but I am enjoying the reflective process.

Goodnight world.

A little life catch-up

Hi anybody reading this! 😀

I’ve been wanting to write a little life catch up post which may not benefit anyone but myself! Alas.

Beehive Wellington

On a walk between offices the other day. One of our Parliament Buildings “The Beehive”.

I started a new job 3 weeks ago. I am a Team Leader for about the next 5 months, leading a temporary team of 4 core staff and lots of extras I can draw on if needed. This is my first REAL leadership position, after having done some Acting TL stints before. We kicked off as a proper team on the 1st and the two weeks leading into that were about designing the work, doing the training, implementation stuff, which I think I’ve been able to bring a lot of value to. I am also gaining some good experience that I can likely draw on in the future! It’s kind of funny because the work we do is processing Marriage Licences and smack bang in the middle of my stint in this role, I am getting married! Funny life.

My Love and I have been frantically working on our house a lot and are getting quite obsessed with gardening. We’ve built and filled two raised beds now and I have got some seeds in the ground. I cannot wait for them to sprout. I imagine the radishes will show themselves first.

I’ve also been working on a side project which is a blog/website/facebook/instagram (phew) about Gluten Free options and products available in Wellington NZ. I’m not really sure if this will take off and help people but I do hope I can help at least someone. Before visiting Italy I did a lot of research into eating so I want to help those sort of people, as well as locals with new products etc. The address is http://glutenfreewellingtonnz.com if anyone is interested who is reading this.

I’ve really fallen off the wagon with exercising which is annoying since we invested in some equipment but at the same time my job and the garden have both been much more physical lately. I got back on the bike tonight though and it felt good!

Sleeping Cat

In lieu of many relevant photos, here is our adorable Cat, Thor.

Our Wedding planning is also floating around in the background with all of this! We’ve done some invites (a few more to post) & we’ve started getting the catering sorted. We’ve booked both our legal ceremony and family wedding celebration in. We are keeping things very small without sacrificing on creating something memorable, I hope!

So as you can see, there has been a lot going on in our lives, lots of change & it can feel like work, work, work. We’ve managed to let of steam with a glass of wine or 4 now & then though, and I think this is just what life is like when you’re a functioning adult!

Best wishes to all, thank you for reading my self-indulgent, personal record keeping, life overview. Be well.

Life in a little place called Home.

I’m not sure if I will ever get to writing up our entire trip to Italy. Maybe instead of thinking that I have to do that before I ever move on, I should just write about it when the mood takes me. I have wanted to write about things happening since we’ve been home more but I’ve told myself I cannot until I finish writing about Italy. This is madness!

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Moving Thor Home. Late September 2018.

Since we came back home from Italy, a lot has happened, even though it has only been a month. Wow! A month!

My Cat is happily living with us now in his senior years. It was an easy shift this time as he has slowed down a lot and seems most content to live the snug life inside, doing lots of sleeping and cuddles.

My Love & I have also begun doing a lot of work around the place and have started building a fence with the kind experience and help of My Love’s Dad. We have had a rather major mishap however and now have a busted pipe in our yard. When digging holes for the fence posts, one was placed incorrectly and the pipe was damaged by spade or crowbar. It’s not an emergency scenario but one that is important to remedy. The financial damages will become apparent this week. Not much you can really do in this situation other than accept it, get it fixed, learn the hard lessons about checking and double checking, and then moving on. All part of the joy and sorrows of being a homeowner!

A minor project we did was some small landscaping with things we already had around the place. We have used cardboard, bricks and white chip rocks to create a low maintenance edging.

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Brick and white chip edging, completed late September 2018

As you can see, this looks a bit rough around the edges. This was the day we finished the main work. Since then we have topped up the lawn with more soil, removed lots of weeds in that area and sown some new grass seed which is starting to come up now that we are more diligent in watering it. We intend to carry the bricks and chip along the full back length of our house and if there is enough white chip (this is currently at the front of our house and we are moving to the back) we might carry this around the other side too.

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Late in the day, 22 October 2018. The grass is a bit patchy now, and some weeds are sneaking in, as well as the ever present oak leaves. Some baby oak trees, potted up for My Love’s Mother are next to the flourishing potted pansies, gifted by my Father.

The above picture really makes me want to get out some white paint and sort out the bottom of the house! The projects are never-ending, really!

I’ve also started planting up my herb garden which I am really excited about!!

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Right after I’d just planted the first few herbs in. L-R – Lovage, Lemon Balm, Italian Parsley, Garlic Chives, Lemon Bergamot (a rescue plant, new to me!) Lemongrass, Oregano, Rosemary and Purple Sage. 7 October 2018

I have since added in a few new herbs, place eggshells around the plants to protect from slugs and naughty bugs and have added cat deterrents against digging. Oh and stuck in some solar lights which look cool at night. The below pic also shows the lavender plant that I just picked up and need to repot.

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Late in the day 22 Oct 2018. You can see the addition of Green Sage, Curry Plant and Tarragon. Sort of. I need to take some better pics!

I do have more to say about the outdoor work we’ve been up to and not to mention other life changes in the realm of work…. but I think that’s enough of a post for this evening!

I wonder what other people are getting up to in their gardens?

Half Way Around The World, and Back Again.

I note today, that I’ve not managed a blog post for the whole month of August and the first 3 weeks of September. This is in part due to the fact that My Love and I just spend the first 2 weeks of the month in Italy.

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View from Viale della Trinità dei Monti. 3 September 2018

Before I start talking about that too much, I think I best address the month that passed me by, August.

We moved into our house early in the month. Moving houses is always a lot of work – especially moving things from 3 different places into one location but by the end of a weekend we were pretty much done. Almost 2 months on and now that we have My Cat here too, we are starting to feel pretty settled. Mr Cat is inside for now as we only picked him up from My Mother’s last night but he seems pretty happy so far. Will be nice to be able to let him out in a few days, despite my concerns about him not getting on with other neighbourhood cats, of which there are a few.

We’ve discovered the joys of homeownership already, with our toilet flusher breaking after less than two weeks here as well as the pantry coming off its rails due to a shonky install. Both of these things have been fixed and we’ve gotten to do a bit of DIY too! We have:

  • replaced some handles in our bathroom
  • I painted and then we added numbers to a new, lovely letterbox
  • My Love has put up the smoke alarms
  • I’ve put some film on the bathroom window for added privacy
  • I’ve done a little extra repainting around the house exterior, in a preliminary way
  • I’ve done a bit of painting clean up on our windows and the back door
  • My Love put a new draught guard on the back door
  • We put up a key hook
  • We’ve set up two compost bins (one weeds and the other general kitchen scraps and lawn clippings)
  • I’ve done a lot of weeding and pulled a lot of rocks from our garden and lawn
  • We’ve mowed the lawn a couple of times
  • We’ve vaguely improved our shower with some new fittings – this is possibly a work in progress though
  • And we continually discuss what improvements we might make next.

BIG NEWS TO COME

On the Saturday night of our moving weekend, My Love proposed to me & became My Betrothed. This is something we’ve talked about but the timing took me completely by surprise! We don’t want a big wedding, partly for financial reasons and just because that isn’t really our style but we’ve only really scratched the surface of planning as we’ve had our Home and Italy to focus on. Needless to say, this is a very happy development. ❤

My word it has been a big year!

Opening New Doors

So tomorrow My Love and I officially become real homeowners. Tomorrow is settlement day. Tomorrow we get the keys and start the several days process of moving in.

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Sunrise today, 31 July 2018 from my local train station….local until next week.

The past month seemed like it would never end and then suddenly did! I spent Sunday afternoon packing up my car with what will be the first load. This included a bit of interior cleaning and learning how the seats work exactly in my car. Learning to be a car person is a very slow and ongoing process for me!

Last night I got to see our house with most of the current owner’s furniture removed. It’s funny what a difference that can make to the feel of a place. It’s going to be so interesting to see how the addition of our furniture will make the place feel. It’s going to be so wonderful making it our home.

We only have a month there before we travel to Italy. Part of me wishes the holiday were a little further away just because planning a house and a holiday simultaneously is tricky but part of me thinks it will be great, all aside from having to be away from my #1 cat for a while. He’s not moving til we’re back from Italy as it will be much kinder to move him once rather than back and forth as he’d come back to my Mother’s while we’re away. I am going to pay him weekly visits, it’s still rough. He’s my almost-14-years-long companion.

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Cuddling on my lap, July 2018

I do hope that he loves the new house. Though he is getting on, he still ranges quite far. I’m hoping we make our garden so lovely he won’t want to wander too far! It will be great having the freedom of a cat door again (after he’s had a while indoors to adapt!) as we’ve had a bit of a routine here of letting him in and out when we’re here too and leaving food when he’s outside when we leave the house. I am sure My Love will enjoy having a cat at home too.

When I started writing this blog, we weren’t even seriously looking at houses right now. It was a goal for this year but we thought it would be something that might happen later in the year. We adjusted our expectations and thought more about the big picture and since then things have fallen quite magically into place for us. Our life has truly started moving in the direction of things that we’ve come to really value. A lot of this comes down to many hours of discussion and effort – and with lots of valuable advice and help along the way – and it really is the beginning of our lives together!

E-Cycling and Farm Animals.

Whilst we were away on our holiday to Ohakune, My Love and I had our first opportunity to try out riding E-bikes. I think we were both a bit skeptical about them at first. Are they really bikes at all? There are a lot of trails around the area we were staying in and after a few mere minutes on the bikes, I think we were quick converts.

Whilst on our little jaunt we met this goat below.

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Goat on the side of the road on a bike ride. June 2018.

It was chained up on a reasonably long chain outside of a property. It seemed reasonably happy but I still couldn’t help but wonder if it could have a better life. We were able to give it some pats no trouble though. Goats have very unusual eyes, they look to me like they have minus symbols in them. I would love to have a few goats one day as I have seen them be rather affectionate creatures and it would be nice to be able to make our own feta cheese and perhaps use their milk too.

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Beautiful Stream on our bike ride in Ohakune. June 2018

The environment was beautiful all around us and it felt a lot more like Autumn than Winter, at least in the ways those seasons feel in my own home city. I find it difficult to associate with the seasons as much in Wellington City. There are not as many deciduous trees to guide the seasonal changes, dropping their leaves and sprouting new growth. The chilling wind makes enjoying the outdoors more difficult in Winter. We do get good days now and then but you really have to grab them by the horns and take off into them when the rare opportunity strikes.

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Cows heading toward the milking shed. June 2018.

Earlier in our bike ride, I got left behind for a while as I stopped to talk to some cows. This was before this photo was taken by a good half hour. They were happily grazing and looked up at me but didn’t come toward the fence. Later on in our exploring we stopped but another section of the fence (pictured) and the cows were heading toward the milking shed. It’s always fascinated me that cows develop this routine – they know when to go and form into lines across the country.

I find animals quite inspiring to observe. Their existence is unburdened by many human concerns – money, housing, intellectual pursuits, relationships, raising a family. I concede that their lives, particularly in the domestic realm, are subjugated to the desires on humans, despite some of these other freedoms. I find interacting with animals refreshing  as they make me reassess my own troubles and put life into perspective. They help me focus on being in the exact moment. Maybe it is to do with being unable to interact in a linguistic sense and we talk to each other through body language and facial expressions? My cat can be quite vocal at times and while I like to think I understand the cadence of some of his meows, I will never quite know whether I am correct!! I have had several dreams where he can speak English, which is kind of odd I suppose… and a tale for another time!

Some thoughts on distance.

I’ve just finished packing in preparation for a small weekend away. I hate packing but I am feeling excited to visit a part of my country that I’ve not seen before and to see how my Father lives since he moved away from my area a while back. His partner has a place closer to here that they stay at sometimes so it’s not that I haven’t seen him, just, not at his place! This makes me reflect on our relationship a bit and family relationships in general.

I was on a boat entering the Marlborough Sounds.

I was on a boat entering the Marlborough Sounds. An old, bad phone photo from 2016.

It seems that we are all forced to make choices about where to live because of what we can afford and the kind of life we think we can make for ourselves. It feels like things really changed in the Victorian Era and have continued to do so in more fragmented ways ever since.

From looking into my family tree I’ve learned that there are parts of my family that stayed in the same general locale for many generations. I can look on a map of Dorset for example and see all the areas referred to in my family’s records and how reasonably close together they are.

BUT, in 1841, after the Census, one branch of my family set sail for New Zealand.

I wonder (and I hope to learn) why such a big leap was taken. The family were recorded as agricultural labourers in the Census and I guess NZ seemed like an opportunity. I wonder how it was pitched to them? There was a bit of back and forth between here and Australia in a few parts of my family. I have family from Leicester, Yorkshire, Limerick, Dorset, Midlothian and there are many parts of my family I am yet to understand or learn about.

But the thing that they all have in common is that they all left home and came to this land. They came to a land that they had not seen, that was the other side of the world.

And I am sitting here from my relatively comfortable life and think it terribly dreadful how far apart I live from many members of my family, which in comparison, is at least the same country. But, I cannot just pop and see people freely, I can’t do so without budgeting for it and lots of travelling.

Driving will help somewhat. We tried to start my car today. The battery is dead! Oh dear.

Proximity to family is an important factor for My Love and I as we embark on starting our life together and our own family. Obviously as a new mother, having family close to advise and help out sometimes will be very advantageous. So we’re having to think about what the best compromise is going to be between the kind of property we can buy and the distance from those people who matter to us, for support as we start a family and just simply to keep those relationships near.

We’ve been busy lately on weekends with quite a few family events. And I want to keep this up but the thing is that it still never quite feels enough yet I also feel the lack of down time all the travel requires.

I feel blessed that I have been made to feel very welcome in My Love’s family and it is like I have another whole family which is a very nice feeling for me.

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My Love’s Parents’ Dog Angus, May 2018

It is my brother’s birthday this weekend too. He lives in the South Island of NZ and thus we don’t see each other in person very often, though we have been doing FaceTime in the last year!

How do other people stay close to their family? In this age of the internet which makes it easier than before to stay in touch, it still seems hard. Family is important to me and life feels so hectic, so often that it feels hard to balance it all!