The first action of note in 2015 was the purchase of our launch. Lady Ethel is a carvel built kauri planked vessel launched, according to the plate in the saloon, in December 1962. She is a very roomy vessel and comfortable to live aboard. If you are interested, she is featured on a classic boats web site here. Or Google “Lady Ethel Motueka”.
Like every boat owner we know, we don't seem to spend enough time afloat, but we have managed a few short cruises. Because of the very shallow marina and equally shallow channel to reach the sea we have about a 4-hour 'window' each tide in which we can leave or return to the marina. The practical effect of this is that it is virtually compulsory to be out overnight. Since there are some wonderful anchorages in the Abel Tasman National Park just 2 hours motoring away, this is not a disaster. However, there have been some visitors who have had to make do with a clamber over her in the marina because there was insufficient time to go to sea.
We have also been
unlucky with things going wrong. The freezer went on strike just
before we took possession. The toilet was refusing to empty and
after a long delay was replaced. This was first noticed at sea, when
Bill's daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Tim, were with us, making
that voyage memorable for a wrong reason.
|Bill's granddaughter Laurel steering Lady Ethel. Tansy is helping.|
January brings many visitors to the region, and 2015 included Eve's daughter Amy and her three younger children, Mana, Will and Nevaeh. They are amongst those whose visit did not coincide with favourable tides for boating, but we spent a delightful day at Kaiteriteri Beach playing in the water.
In February Angela and Gordon Mizner were here. Angela is Bill's second (or so) cousin on the Roblou side. They live in England. Their visit coincided with a water-borne trip round the Abel Tasman NP that had been booked before we had even thought about buying our own boat. Angela and Gordon decided that it would be a good idea to join us and we had a marvellous excursion. We were shown some lovely little inlets that Lady Ethel will not dare to navigate. We didn't know there were colonies of spotted shags in the park, but there certainly are. The commentary was just right, the lunch was tasty and the weather was perfect. A great day. We can heartily recommend Abel Tasman Golden Future Conservation Tours.
After the tour returned us to Marahau we went to have a cup of tea with Rae and Aaron, who live nearby. Rae is Eve's niece. They had generously looked after our growing pup for the day. They have a dog of their own, a spaniel called Toby. He is smaller than Flossie but much older and spent a lot of time reinforcing his dominance, when Flossie just wanted to play. After tea the dogs had a fight. We think Toby got fed up with Flossie's youthful playfulness and bit her. She returned the compliment with interest and definitely won the fight. Fortunately no blood was spilled.
Having lavished many dollars on a boat, we followed up by the further extravagance of having a deck built on the Western side of the house. This had always been planned and the house is now complete. A key feature of the design is the two clear toughened glass panels which allow small visitors, such as our youngest granddaughters, to see the view without needing to see over the balustrade or risking falling off the edge. It also keeps an exuberant dog outside where she cannot terrorise said small visitors.
For many years we had known what outdoor furniture we wanted for the deck. We first saw Mark “Peg Leg” Perry's output at a fair in 2009. He takes huge flitches of macrocarpa, sprinkles pieces of paua shell in the irregularities and then fills them with clear acrylic. So on most days we can enjoy lunch and afternoon tea on the deck. We anticipated regular dinners there as well, but as the sun gets lower it can be a pain to those sitting with their backs to the house. Maybe we need some kind of sunshade. And for much of the year it can be too cold after the sun has gone down behind the hills.
Bill had a business trip to Northland in April. Eve decided to come along, too. The client very generously invited Eve to use the firm's car so she did some sightseeing while Bill earned the money. While dodging showers at Ocean Beach Eve met a lady who was touring NZ as a member of the Affordable Travel Club. The deal is that all members can act as hosts or visitors. The host provides bed and breakfast; the guest pays a $20 “gratuity”. Part of the fun, of course, is meeting new people. It is based in North America and there is no annual fee for members outside the USA and Canada. So far we've had three enquiries but have been unable to host any of them because we already had a full house on those dates.
Every year Nelson has a book fair. A very large room is full of trestle tables on which are thousands of books at very low prices. Nearly all of them are second hand, but in perfectly good condition. As books are sold the tables are replenished. The fair lasts a week, and there is a special price for a week-long pass, so some people must check the offerings repeatedly. Our bookshelves are full and there are more volumes in storage so we don't desperately need more books. You will not be surprised to learn that we needed a banana box to carry away all our finds. And wonderful reading they are, too.
Bill has been presenting seminars for years on esoteric matters of no interest to non-accountants. Seminars have reached the cyber-age now and largely been replaced with “webinars”. In June he presented his first webinars; a series of two sessions a week apart. They were organised by the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and delivered from their office in Wellington. Bill decided not to rely on the early morning flight from Nelson, but to stay with Elizabeth and Tim in the capital city. The first session was extremely memorable for a very wrong reason – Bill was late.
Like so many accidents, it was a combination of factors. First, he didn't get to sleep quickly, and after hours of tossing and turning fell into a deep sleep. He had set his phone as an alarm clock, but the battery ran down overnight and it didn't go off. Tim got up for work but knew he was earlier than Bill needed to be so he thoughtfully didn't disturb his father-in-law. Elizabeth was working from home that day, rose late and assumed that her Dad had already left. By the time he did wake up and plug in his 'phone there were already messages from the Institute asking where he was. An urgent taxi-ride and no breakfast later he got to the Institute 10 minutes after the session was due to start. A half-hour briefing on how to use the software was compressed into 5 minutes and he was on air.
The actual presentation went off far better than it had any right to. The second one, which started on time and without any rush, was even finer. The feedback was extremely positive. A webinar is nowhere near as effective or enjoyable as being in the same room as the attendees, because feedback has to be via typed comments and folk cannot see each other. In a classroom a question can be put up on the screen and the audience invited to discuss it between themselves. The webinar is what radio must be like – the presenter must not stop talking and leave silences. However, Bill feels he can adapt and there will be more webinars in 2016.
Lots of Heritages headed North in 2015. Bill's son, Richard with Tansy (wife) and Laurel (daughter) were the first to go to the UK. This prompted Grampa Bill to arrange a little present for Laurel, who was then 18 months old. He bought her two bibs proclaiming her support for York City. Since Laurel's Dad and Great Uncle Nigel are both rabid Arsenal supporters this did risk igniting a feud.
We were close behind them. Our 5-week tour started in England and went on to Germany and all sorts of places, ending up in Istanbul. These travels have been described elsewhere in this blog, artificially dated at the time we were there. See July and August 2015. N.B. At the time of writing this it is not quite complete. Istanbul is missing. It was a fascinating city, and we hope we can manage a return visit.
An important piece of travel technology was a Samsung tablet computer with the Ulmon CityMaps2Go app. Read the Berlin post (the earliest in August) for a full description.
We were able to leave our animals (1 dog and about 10 chickens) because Eve's son, Matthew, came to live on the property. He needed somewhere new and we needed a dog sitter. So he took up residence in the sleep-out. To Flossie's delight, he takes her with him to work (farm contracting) so she gets rides in the car, than which there is no greater treat, and lots of space to run around or just blob in the shade under the vehicle.
There have been some important anniversaries in 2015. These kicked off in Christchurch with Eve's brother, Russell and his wife, Ivy, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their four daughters organised a great party with a live band. Eve, who is one of the few people who have known them for all 50 of those years and the only one of Russell's siblings to be able to attend, delivered a very good speech.
In October Matthew reached 40. How can we possibly have children that old? This was celebrated with a brunch at Jester House, one of NZ's very best cafés. It was one of the very rare occasions when Matthew's controlling ex-partner permitted us to meet their daughter (and thus Eve's granddaughter), Leila.
|Matthew (40) and Leila (2)|
Only about a month later we were off to another party in Christchurch. Alison Newbegin is a long-standing friend of Eve's. She had reached 70.
|At Alison's birthday bash. The birthday girl is behind Bill's shoulder.|
The most remarkable anniversary was in England, so we were unable to attend in the flesh. But we were very much there in spirit when Bill's Uncle Norman and Auntie Chick celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Chick had been ill through much of the year, but she was out of hospital and in the thick of the celebration lunch. Bill's brother, Nigel, who lives not too far from them, was there and reported to us:
It was held at a pub on the edge of the New Forest outside Ringwood called the Alice Lisle. Everything was beautifully laid out; Julia's daughter Kia who works in event management had found gigantic 70 shaped balloons and the table was liberally - very liberally - sprinkled with sparkly things including little number 70s. Nearly everyone managed to find one of these sprinkley sparkly things in their food at some point.
The story of the day was about Chick's engagement ring which she had lost at some point during her illness and being in Bournemouth and Southampton hospitals. Norman had bought her a replacement which he was going to present to her during the meal. And then on Saturday morning whilst getting ready, Chick found her ring! Norman gave Chick his present anyway, which was lovely, so she now has 2! There was a photo of them on their wedding day, aged 20 and 19. And here they still were, and so happy.
Sadly, Chick was soon unwell again and died in January, aged 89.
In the spring we added to the livestock that once upon a time we resolved not to have. We were given four geese. Strictly, they are one goose and three ganders. We were told that the goose was a young bird and she clearly needed guidance on how to be a mother goose. She laid her first egg out in the open and left it, so we had scrambled goose egg. After that she made a proper nest and laid three eggs in it. Only one of them hatched, and the gosling died two days later.
Eve has kept a goat before and we know a couple down the valley who have surplus kids. That's young goats, not children! Two of them are promised to us when they are old enough to leave their mothers in the New Year, so our menagerie will get even bigger.
Part of our life now is wwoofers (willing workers on organic farms). They are mostly young folk travelling round New Zealand and want to exchange half a day's work for board and lodging. Most enquiries come in the summer, but they may turn up at any time of year. In 2015 we had delightful people from Germany, Denmark, Uruguay, USA and NZ. Diego and Valentina are from Colonia del Sacramento, which is one of the two Uruguayan towns Bill visited in 2007. Raja (pronounced rye-er) from Germany liked us so much she came back for a second visit. And if we do not look up Wylder when we are in North Carolina there could be an international incident! Thanks to all of them for their labours and their great company.
|Valentina and Flossie|
|Minako and Naoto from Japan. They wwoofed for us in 2014 and came to see us before they left NZ.|
|Bill, Eve, Matthew, Raja and Christin.|
At some time during the latter part of the year Bill's son Richard introduced a game called Ingress, which Bill is now also enthusiastically playing. It was designed to get computer nerds out in the fresh air and requires actual travel to play it. The object of the game is very simple. Around the world there are lots of “portals”. Strictly these are GPS co-ordinates, but they have a name and a picture attached so it is easier to think of them as the pictured object. They have to be in public places so that players can approach them legally and safely. When you download the software to your smartphone or tablet you have to choose which of the two teams you wish to join. You then try to “capture” portals, defend them and link them, all of which has to be done within about 40 metres of the portal. If you link three in a triangle you create a field, which is worth a lot of points. The other faction is, of course, trying to capture your portals, and so on.
If you want to try this for yourself, Bill and Richard ask that you join the green team, the Enlightened.
Late in November Bill received the unwelcome news that his largest client, BDO New Zealand, had decided to make other arrangements. It was not dissatisfaction with Bill's work, but they wanted to find a role for an individual who was too experienced to be a manager, but for whom no member firm had an immediate opening as a partner. Bill certainly has other clients, but this will make a big dent in our income in 2016.
We cannot leave an account of 2015 without some mention of being proud grandparents.
We cannot leave an account of 2015 without some mention of being proud grandparents.
|Grandma Eve with Bill's granddaughter Laurel|
|Grampa Bill reading a story to Eve's granddaughter Ellyssa|