Sunday, December 5, 2010

Genealogy group visit to historic places in Tara Road

Last week I went with fellow members of the Wellsford Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists to visit a couple of historic places in the district as our final gathering of the year.
First stop was to the old Stone House and Stone Dairy, now owned by Cliff Matchett.
An article in the Mangawhai Focus on 11 June 2009 (page 2) said:
"During this year's Mangawhai Walking Weekend, participants on the Historic Walk on the Tara witnessed the handover of special plaques for the old Stone House and Stone Dairy in Tara Road that have been expertly restored by owner Cliff Matchett.
"The plaques, produced by the NZ Historic Places Trust, recognise the historic importance of these two buildings, which were built in the 1890s for former Cornish miner Peter James, who bought 92 acres on the Tara and commissioned the building of the house and dairy.
"Nowadays, the Stone Dairy is offered to visitors as self-contained historic accommodation."

Photo of the Stone Dairy before restoration
The Stone Dairy has come a long way since the start of the restoration.  It's a beautiful little stone building, as you can see in these photos.
Next we climbed back up the hill and took a look at the Stone House, which Cliff has also restored.
Both the house and the dairy were built of local volcanic stone in the late 1880s or early 1890s.  The house is made with smaller-grade stones (rubble) in the core of the walls, then cemented. 
The Stone Dairy today

The Stone House

The Stone House

After leaving Cliff's place, we walked along the road to the Brown's where the Tara Road School building is located.  It has been moved around a bit over the years, as the schooling needs of the local children changed, and has more recently been used as a packing house and coolstore.

These days Ken and Gail are working to restore the school house back to its former glory.

We then took a look at Gail's beautiful garden.  There are several spring-fed ponds in the garden, and the ground in places was very soft with damp.  It seemed odd to be walking in damp spots given that we're fast heading for a drought right now!

Next stop was the Smashed Pipi cafe in Mangawhai, where the group enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Legacy Cruise 2010 - Dunedin

View from the deck of Sun Princess at Port Chalmers

Taieri Gorge rail excursion waiting to leave dock
Our first port visit on the trip was Port Chalmers on 12 November.

Like most of the ports we visited, we were tied up at a working cargo port, and had to take care where we walked after leaving the ship. Despite that, the views were pretty good!

Nigel and I had booked the "Speight's Brewery & Dunedin Pub Hop". The group comprised largely of Australians - not surprising, since they made up the largest nationality group on the ship.  After meeting at our designated area, we were taken ashore and boarded a bus, and were taken into Dunedin.

Our first stop was the Dunedin Railway Station - not exactly on our itinerary, but our hosts thought it important that we see this beautiful building. And lovely it was.

Public spring-water tap outside Speight's Brewery

Next stop was the Speight's Brewery. "Founded in 1876, Speight's Brewery is a Dunedin icon. During your 90 minute tour discover the long history of beer, taste the ingredients that go into the brew mix at Speight's and sample six of Speight's finest fresh from the brewery."

We were split into two groups. Our group was taken upstairs, then led through the brewery by one of the brewers, who was very good at his tour-guide job. It was interesting to see the whole process, from raw ingredients coming in to the finished product.

Speight's have their own bar onsite, where we ended our tour with tastings of their products. A great way to start the day!

From there we walked down the hill to their pub, where we had a two-course lunch in their upstairs restaurant.  Very good food, I had the seafood chowder and steak with peppercorn sauce.  Large servings - either course would have been an adequate lunch on its own.

The Duke of Wellington

Then it was off down the road on foot, to the Duke of Wellington pub, for a drink.  The bus then took us to place further out of town, whose name I don't recall.  We'd been given four vouchers each, one for each pub we visited, for a beer, wine or soft drink of our choice.  A good time was had at each place!

The Bog Irish Pub, Dunedin

Second-to-last, and the last city stop if my memory serves about two weeks later, was The Bog Irish Pub.  Unremarkable inside, but pretty enough on the outside.  For me, it had the distinction of being near a pharmacy where I was able to get some anti-seasickness medication that saw me through the rest of the trip!

Careys Bay Historic Hotel, Port Chalmers

Last stop saw us go back to Port Chalmers and past the ship, to the Careys Bay Historic Hotel at Careys Bay.  As you can see from the photo above it is a gorgeous little building, and it has been lovingly restored inside.

At each stop we sat with different people in our group, and chatted with them.  For the rest of the trip, we'd recognise each other and say hello when we passed on the ship.

It was a good day out, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to see around Dunedin, take in a few drinks (they don't have to be alcoholic!) and get to know some new people on the way.

Legacy Cruise 2010 - Fiordland

Near the entrance to Milford Sound

After two days of sailing from Sydney across the Tasman Sea, we arrived at Fiordland on Thursday 11 November.

We had been very lucky with the Tasman - it has the reputation of being one of the roughest seas in the world - but we had little to no swell and calm seas the whole way across.

Nigel & Wendy at Milford Sound

The scenery was spectacular in the sounds, as you'd expect.  Unfortunately for us, it was a heavily-overcast day and the cloud base was low, meaning we couldn't see into the mountains most of the time and we missed seeing Mitre Peak.  That's Fiordland for you - it has the heaviest rainfall in the whole country!  There aren't too many days of the year where it doesn't rain there.  But the recent rains meant that the waterfalls were running, which friends who have been there other times have told me were dry when they visited.

 We started out by going into Milford Sound, picking up a pilot and DOC staff member early on.  The Department of Conservation guy gave a commentary all through the day over the PA, so you could hear it throughout the ship - or on tv from your room.

From Milford Sound we went back out into the Tasman Sea - and that's when it "got" me.  By this time we were heading south-west down the west coast of the South Island, and getting closer to the Roaring Forties with every mile, and the tossing and turning of the ship turned my stomach.  I wasn't sick, but sure felt uneasy.  Probably didn't help that we'd gone to our room for a while after Milford Sound, and it was relatively high up in the ship on the 11th (Aloha) deck.

When we went to lunch, I had a bit of fruit while Nigel enjoyed his fare.  Later, after we'd entered the next fiord and in much calmer waters, I was okay again - until we went back out to sea again!

I spent the rest of the day on the Promenade Deck, wrapped up against the cold, in a (very comfortable) deck chair for as long as I could stand the cold, then went inside to the library - in my opinion the best kept secret on the ship.  Being lower down in the ship helped calm my stomach.  The view was good, too!

I was okay by dinner time, when we must have gone further "around the corner" and out of the swells, but the effect lingered for days afterwards in my head.  I've only been seasick once before this in my life, out on the Kaipara Harbour in a dingy, fishing with friends.

Legacy Cruise 2010 - photos posted

I've uploaded some of my photos of the cruise to my Picasa Web Albums space. I'll be giving other cruisers access to upload their own photos and add tags, so watch for updates.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Legacy Family Tree Cruise 2010

Late Sunday night, we arrived home from a two-week holiday, cruising around the country on the Sun Princess on the 2010 Legacy Cruise, in the company of the owners of Legacy Family Tree, the genealogy program I've been using since 2004, and other like-minded Legacy users.

What a blast! I have learned new tips for using the program effectively, made some new friends, and had an absolute ball.

I plan to write about the trip in installments - there's so much to talk about, and I've come home with a cold so a bit under the weather right now. But keep an eye on this blog, and more will appear soon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sunday 1 August 2010

ERG - 213.7mm for the month of July.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday 1 July 2010

ERG - 141.3mm for the month of June.

Not so wet as May, but some of our paddocks are now quite water-logged.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday 1 June 2010 7am

Heavily overcast skies, rain threatening.

ORG - 3mm at 11:45am 30 May + 17mm now = 20mm / 239mm for May 2010
ERG - 321.3mm = 22.1mm / 271.4mm for May 2010

It has been an interesting experiment comparing the readings of the two gauges. I expected the ERG to read "light", because I thought it wasn't picking up some rainfall. This is clearly not the case.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday 28 May 2010 9am

Low cloud lifting - can't see the top of Pukekaroro at this moment, but at least I can see the lower part of it which was obscured earlier this morning. Some sunshine breaking through. Forecast is for "rain easing to showers".

ORG - 35mm / 219mm month-to-date
ERG - 299.2mm = 39.1mm / 249.3mm month-to-date

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday 25 May 2010 10:30am

Sunny with a lot of fast-moving cloud this morning. A good breeze blowing from the north. 17ÂșC outside at the moment. Forecast is for "showers, some heavy; strong or gale northwesterlies".

ORG - 26.5mm at 8:45am yesterday, 5mm at 5:30pm yesterday, a trace just now = 31.5mm / 184mm month-to-date
ERG - 260.1mm = 34.7mm / 210.2mm month-to-date

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday 23 May 2010 4:00pm

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day, but today is overcast and showers are imminent.

ORG - 17mm at 2pm Friday, nothing since / 152.5mm month-to-date
ERG - 225.4mm = 17.5mm / 175.5mm month-to-date

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday 21 May 2010 8:00am

Skies are heavily overcast and raining steadily. Forecast is for showers today, mainly fine tomorrow.

ORG - 17mm at 9:00 last night, plus a further 60mm since = 77mm / 135.5mm month-to-date
ERG - 207.9mm = 87.8mm since last reading / 158mm month-to-date

Our pond, which has been empty for months, is full and overflowing. I think the tank is full, but I'm not certain.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday 18 May 2010 9:00am

Another still, sunny morning with a little cloud. It was 6°C outside an hour ago, now 10°C. Forecast is for "Showers, some heavy and thundery. Northwesterlies." (

ORG - 4mm / 58.5mm month-to-date
ERG - 120.1mm - 4mm since last reading / 70.2mm month-to-date

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rain Update 17 May 2010 8am

Still, sunny morning with a little cloud. 6°C outside.

ORG - 4mm / 54.5mm month-to-date
ERG - 116.1mm = 4.1mm since last reading / 66.2mm month-to-date

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rain Update 16 May 2010 1:30pm

Well, it WAS a nice sunny day this morning, but now clouded over and starting to rain heavily (since taking readings below).

ORG - trace / 50.5mm month-to-date
ERG - 112.0mm = 0.4mm since last reading / 62.1mm month-to-date

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rain Update 15 May 2010 2:00pm

Sunny with a gentle breeze right now, but has been dull and wet earlier.

ORG - 4.5mm / 50.5mm month-to-date
ERG - 111.6mm = 5.9mm since last reading / 61.7mm month-to-date

Plumbing to water tank was repaired yesterday, tank is now 3-rungs full.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rain Update 13 May 8:00am

A fine, sunny, still morning today, though cloud has started coming over at 8:30am.

ORG - 30mm / 46mm month-to-date
ERG - 105.7mm total = 36mm since reading on 10 May / 55.8mm month-to-date

Rain or showers are forecast right through to next Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rain Update 12 May 2010 12:15pm

Some very light showers yesterday. Squally showers and some heavier rain today. High winds have continued.

ORG - can't see it right now, and it's too wet to go out to it.
ERG - 99.9mm total = 30.2mm since last reading / 26.5mm in the past 24 hours

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rain Update 10 May 2010 7:00pm

OFG - no change
ERG - 69.7mm total - don't know when the extra 0.4mm fell!

No rain today, but very strong winds all day. Rain forecast for tomorrow (again!) - let's hope this lot gets here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rain Update 9 May 2010 5:00pm

The rain has stopped for now. More is forecast the entire coming week.

Gauges read:

OFG - 10mm / 16mm month-to-date
ERG - 69.3mm total / 11.7mm today / 19.4mm month-to-date

The tank is pretty much at the same level as this morning.

Interesting that the ERG is reading higher than the ORG. I started the dual readings 'cos I thought it was missing rain.

Rain Update 9 May 2010 10:40am

It's raining, it's pouring, and the old man was snoring earlier, but we won't go there. ;-)

The forecast rain has arrived. I heard water trickling through the guttering during the night, but the rain was too light to hear at that stage.

At the moment, the gauges read...

ORG - a bit above 9mm
ERG - 68.8mm = 11.2mm since the last report

Since it's still raining, I won't bother with totals for the month at this stage.

The bad news is that most of the rain hitting our roofs isn't making it to the tank. We can hear it trickling in the downpipes on the house, but it isn't coming out the other end. We suspect a break in the pipes, rather than a blockage. This means that we're only gathering rain from half of the sleepout roof and one side of the garage (which reach the tank through separate feeds), and missing out on the other half of the sleepout and the house entirely. Will have to call in a plumber to investigate.

The level in the tank, when I checked it about an hour ago, was the same as when I checked it on Friday, about two and a half rungs up the side of the tank. Highly scientific measuring! I don't know the tank's capacity, but there are 12 "rungs" in the tank and it bulges a bit in the middle (so the middle rungs contain more than the upper and lower ones).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rain Update

Friday 7 May 2010 5:30pm

ORG - nothing since last report / month-to-date = 6mm
ERG - 57.6mm total / month-to-date = 7.7mm

I guess the ERG measures tiny amounts that the ORG can't. Don't know when this 0.5mm has fallen, I haven't been checking it 'cos there hasn't been any rain!

There is rain forecast for the weekend, and it can't come soon enough. Our water tank is down to about a foot of water in it, and that's not going to last long. If we don't get the rain, we'll have to buy some water in on Monday. Hate to think what it will cost, but I know people who have had to buy water four times during this drought so I can't complain too loudly.

Kaipara District Council lifted its rain ban on 30 April. Rodney District still has one, I understand.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rain Update

Sunday 2 May 2010 9am

ORG - trace / month-to-date = 6mm
ERG - 57.1mm total / month-to-date = 7.2mm

After yesterday's rain, this morning is full of sunshine. I can't see any clouds in the sky from where I'm sitting, with views to the north and east. A gentle breeze blowing.

We're still in drought, officially, and still have a fire ban. But now that the days are cooling the moisture is lingering longer, and it isn't drying out so quickly after a bit of rain.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rain Update

Saturday 1 May 2010 2:30pm

(no rain since last blog until today)

ORG - 6mm
ERG - 56.7mm total - less 49.9mm previously = 6.8mm

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Let's talk about the weather

Forget about my weight. It's not been a good subject lately, with me gaining back about half of what I lost. But I have it under control, I think - when I weighed myself yesterday I'd lost a little on the previous time. Not recording numbers right now. I know what a proper meal consists of and am capable of doing that, but I have to stop letting myself have a little "treat" too often. Once a week is okay, three or four times isn't.

Now I'm thinking about the weather - rainfall in particular. Here in the north of New Zealand we've been in drought since about Christmas last year. Bugger-all rain, though our little spot in Kaiwaka seems to get more than some.

A while back I bought an electronic rain gauge to keep an eye on our rainfall, but I am not convinced it's picking up all the rain we've had. So yesterday I installed a plain-old plastic cup type gauge next to it, so the numbers can be compared.

Although it had rained most of the day yesterday, it wasn't raining when I put the old-fashioned rain gauge (OFG) up. The electronic rain gauge (ERG) said we'd had 47.2mm of rain since it's last reset at that time.

This morning, around 8am, I checked the ORG and it showed 3mm of rain. The ERG says we've now had 49.9mm, a difference of 2.7mm - close enough to satisfy me at this stage.

It's a foggy morning this morning. Can't see the far side of our valley, let along Pukekaroro beyond it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I started this blog, Part 3...

So here we are, almost a year since this all started. I finished seeing Paul back in September (the "free" sessions courtesy of the DHB being of a limited number), weighing in on his scales at 119.0 kg (123.2 kg on my own scales the same day). That's 14.5 kg I'd lost since starting this work with him. Yes, I'm pretty happy with that!

Talking with Paul before I left him that last time, he said I should continue with the food diary and calculating the calories, and I should ask a friend to take on the role of support person, who I'd report to periodically. I'm afraid I've not been much good at either of those. I've kept a diary sporadically, but you know by now how good I am at diaries! I figure I know what a good day's menu looks like, and it is up to me to work at maintaining that. And I never did get around to asking someone to be my mentor, but if I fail to progress I still have that option to kickstart it again.

On the whole, since I stopped "following the program" properly, my weight has mainly stayed around the same mark. In the run-up to Christmas, of course, things went a little awry and my weight was up to 124.5 kg (from 123.2 kg previously on my scales) on 27 December. With a firm resolve, I've lost more than 1.0 kg in the week since. Time I got a handle on this and started making some decent progress!

Why I started this blog, Part 2...

... that was back in February that I saw Paul for the first time. We sat and talked for an hour, about all sorts of things as you'd expect. He explained how he worked, focusing on the calorie content of the food rather than the food itself. I thought I could give that a go.

I wasn't set any "homework" after the first session, but knowing what was going to happen I trotted off and bought myself a small book to start my food diary. The first entry in it is Wednesday 25 February 2009, the day I saw the psychologist.

The second week, he came armed with things to set me going. I needed to purchase a calorie-counting book and a GI (glycemic index) guide - he recommended Calorie Counter (published by Penguin, ISBN 978-0-14-301115-6) and The low GI shopper's guide to GI values 2009 (Hachette, ISBN 978-0-7336-2292-2, also and I bought these. I also needed a set of digital kitchen scales, which I also went out and bought.

My homework for the week was to go to a web site ( where I could work out, by answering questions about my height, weight and physical activity, how many calories I needed per day (it came to 2590 calories per day), and to start recording what I was eating each day. This included what time I ate, but at this stage not calculating calories. Of course, if you've read this far you'll know I'd already been doing that for a week!

Now, unfortunately the Lifestyle Company web site has been taken down - for renovation, Paul discovered from its author - but there are others around that you may find useful. Try a Google search with calorie daily maintenance as your search term.

On 5 March I weighed myself on his scales, and the reading came out at 133.5kg. I'd been a bit hungry all week, but I do not know if that is because I was thinking about food all the time, or because I'd inadvertently cut down on the amount I was eating (which wasn't part of the plan up to this point). Although I didn't like being a bit hungry, I figured it wouldn't hurt me much.

Then I started adding calorie calculations to my daily notes, but still wasn't at this stage trying to cut back - the idea was to record what is "normal" for me. A starting point.

Then I was aiming for about 500 calories less per day than my "maintenance" level - let's round it off and aim for 2000 calories per day.

As well as the calorie-counting book, I was pointed towards Calorie King ( for foods that I needed to look up.

[Note: I wrote all of this back in September 2009, but didn't post it until today, 3 January 2010]

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why I started this blog...

It is time I started talking about the "thing" that made me want to start this blog in the first place...

Okay, I'm a bit overweight. Or, more accuarately, morbidly obese in my doctor's vernacular. I'm 168cm (5'6"), and on my doctor's scales in February I weighed in at 135kg. That equates to a Body Mass Index (BMI) of almost 48. Quite reasonably, she has been gently trying to convince me to take some measures to reduce my weight for years.

In my favour, my weight has been steady for years. In the doctor's records, my weight hasn't changed for at least three years. And long ago, my weight was stable for years at 12 stone (that's 168 lb or 76kg). Before I broke my ankle and it went undetected for eight years, and I stopped moving because it hurt too much.

I've been to a dietician before. We worked together for three years and I lost over 30 kg (66 lb). But the focus on the food started to get very negative for me, and the three health professionals that I told this to ignored me. So I went into my own little tail-spin and stopped going - and of course put all that weight back on over time, plus more.

Fast-forward to this year, and my doctor tells me about a scheme being run by the local district health board where they pay for people like me to see a health psychologist, and would I be interested in that? I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a look, so in short order I was contacted by the guy and we made an appointment for me to see him.

More next time!..

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's raining!

Yes, you can hear me jumping up and down with joy at that statement - it has been unusually dry around here lately. The rain started last night, a very welcome sound on our roof.

In the latest edition of the local newspaper, the Kaiwaka Bugle, the rainfall figures say that we had a quarter less rain over January to March this year than last.

I grew up with my Auckland-bred father saying "if it's not raining, it's going to" - and he was generally right. Auckland and the north are sub-tropical and it rains frequently.

Last summer (2007-08) while large parts of New Zealand were in drought, here in the Kaipara District we didn't even have a fire ban. (Some local bodies automatically impose a ban each summer, KDC imposes one if the conditions dictate.)

This summer just past (2008-09) the droughts down south didn't seem to be as bad as the previous year, but we were drier and had a fire ban for a while.

The local farmers will be very pleased with this rain replenishing their paddocks, and everyone will be welcoming the water in their tanks. I hadn't checked mine lately, but I expect it was getting low.

We live off rain water here, collected from our roofs. An electric pump delivers it to the taps. It's some of the best water around, IMHO - much better than city water that tastes of chemicals. The major down-side to our water supply is that if there is a power cut we don't have any water. Here at our place we do not have any taps fed by the tank that are independent of the pump - something I want to rectify one day. But we do have clean buckets at the ready to dip in should the need arise (which it shouldn't, now that we have a small generator, but I'm not going to tempt fate). :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Speaking of time travelling...

Being completely new to blogging, one of my first observations about my first post is the time stamp on it.

I'd noted while composing the entry that the automatic time stamp was not my local time. Can't remember what it was, something in America I guessed, and then I tried to change it - big mistake! That meant that the entry would not be published until that time in its local timezone. So then I changed it again, taking a stab at the time that had been originally displayed

I sent that first entry only a few minutes ago, and as I type the time is 6:56pm Sunday, New Zealand time. I note now that the "post date and time" seems to be set at the time I start creating the entry.

Just so you know why I might seem to be writing at odd times!

Getting Started

I've been contemplating starting a blog for a while now, so here we go!

I just have to rave about the book I finished today - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I've been wanting to read it since it was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago, and it hasn't disappointed.

Henry is a time traveller. He doesn't have any choice in the matter, it just happens. Without warning he will be transported in time and space, and after some undetermined time has passed (minutes, or days, or somewhere in-between) he is replaced back where he vanished from. Naked, as nothing that is not a part of him can travel through time.

In his travels he often meets Clare, and they fall in love. Henry is eight years older than Clare. But Clare meets Henry for the first time when she is six and he 36, and Henry meets Clare for the first time when he is 28 and she 20.

Confused? Don't be. The book is peppered with the day's date, and how old each of them are. It is written entirely from the viewpoints of Clare and Henry, narrating the events that are happening to them at that time.

It is a love story, of a love that begins in childhood and blooms in adulthood. But Clare must wait when Henry disappears, not knowing how long he will be away, and in what state he will return (since sometimes he must fight for his life when he arrives naked in another place and time). And both trying to lead a "normal" life regardless.

When I got up this morning (Sunday), my first task after breakfast was to write a report on behalf of the library (where I am the librarian) for the local newspaper. I talked about this book and said I'd rather be reading it than doing anything else. I also noted that I was about halfway through the book, and that it would be back on the library shelves by mid-week.

After finishing the report and sending it off to the editor, I sat down and continued reading - and didn't stop until it was after 4pm and I'd finished! Such was the pull of the writing that I just had to continue.

It was a beautiful, moving book, and I thoroughly recommend it.