Sunday, September 25, 2011

The beginning of a catch up

Lordy pick a bale of cotton, I cant believe its a whole year since my last entry. Amazing. Its been full! I'm going to stack some blogs up and try and summarise, mainly for my own records cos its so much fun reading back over the blog and going wow did we really do that...

We had an incredible summer in NZ in the Nelson sun renovating the house below. My memory has wiped all the eye scratching moments when we were living half in the building site half in the sleepout half in the car with nothing anywhere it was supposed to be and 2 small children chewing on nails. I just retain the overall
utopian vibe, living down the road from the family I've missed for the past 15 years, on our own piece of heavenly land, watching the valley, growing our own food, the girls full of joy. Waking every morning to perfect sunshine and opening the curtains to stare at the sea. Bucketfuls of gorgeous purple damsons, making jam in my freshly renovated kitchen. Making pesto with our own basil - summer in a jar, indescribable flavour. Lots of fr
iends coming to stay, amazing local wine and barbeques. Fresh blueberries on tap from my mothers amazing garden. But I digress. The season has passed and we are now in Melbourne. And thats another story. First, heres the pics of the project.

Lets start with the bathroom -

became this

The kitchen

became this

The living area

became this

The front of the house

became this

the main entrance

became this

the 70's panelled dining room became this...

and coloured chalk paint made it to NZ (it wasnt meant to be quite that colour but the kids didnt mind)...

And we did all that in 7 months. Not bad. And you havent seen the land yet... that was a big job. More pics of that later.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New House!

Home sweet home

I get home from skitrip at 4pm, rush to view property at 5pm, its going to auction the following morning at 12, decide instantly that we should buy it, call Nick to tell him, he's says ok (he's happily on a mountain skiing so very agreeable and trusting), we have 3 hours the following morning to organise money around the world, take Mathilda to her first day of nursery, work out what our highest bid should be and look over contracts etc... and by lunchtime we own the house! It was quite a shock. It happens to be a property I've always wanted, having driven past it every day most of my life, the site is gorgeous and it overlooks my favourite hills. I'd told Nick the week before when we drove past it together (before it came on the market) that I'd always wanted to live there. So I knew we had to have it. But there was people crawling all over it and I never thought we'd have a chance. There were 45 people at the auction, and not one of them bid. Just little ole me. So we got the house for much less than we were prepared to pay for it. Then we had an agonising week waiting for the vendor (the bank) to agree all the terms - it was a mortgagee sale and there were two mortgagees so it was complicated. Anyway today it went unconditional and we have been up there measuring up for the renovations. Its amazing!!! 3 acres of gorgeous sunny hillside, sea views, 3 dwellings (2 dodgy 1 bed cottages and 1 dodgy 3 bed house), and 5 free range chickens. We still plan to live in Melbourne, just maybe a bit later... If anyone wants a holiday in NZ we now have a spare cottage.

The cottage
The other cottage

The view - that is the sea way out there
The beautiful moutere hills (and our driveway)

The gorgeous NZ mountains

We got straight on to making the most of doting grandparents in the same country - leaving the kids behind we drove down to the mid-south, to ski Mount Hutt, Mt Cheeseman, and Porters Heights.

Was amazing, beautiful days and great snow 2 out of 3 days. Nick then continued further south to Wanaka on his own to do some heliskiing. In typical form he got the best weather for heliskiing they'd had all season on his one day there.

Nicks Heliski insert:

It takes some bottle to get into a tiny copter and fly over windswept peaks with turbulence that throws us around like a paper boat in a raging torent.

the first sight of the powder field and you know its going to be worth it
the landing site at the top of the ridge is a flat area the size of a london bathroom.. all respect to the pilot.

wide open and fresh tracks from top of the ridge all the way to the snowline [a 600m vertical drop].

Then the heli picks you up and you go somewhere else and do it all over again. We managed a respectable 5 drops before the weather [and our legs] drew the day to a close.
To say it was a spiritual experience would be to understate the day. If you like powder, there is nothing else. Daves, Rob, Rog - get over here.

Meanwhile I got home to discover there was a house on the market perfect for us, going to auction the next morning...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Its nice to be home

Our flight from LA to New Zealand was the best we've ever had - the kids passed out for 7 hours. That still left 5 to fill in, but we were happy. Landing in NZ was emotional as always. Amazing to see my family again, and for Clover to meet two of her aunties for the first time. We are now in Nelson, bit chilly after Mexico but gorgeous as ever.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

City of Angels

It was 37 degrees in Baja when we left this afternoon and a chilly 28 in Los Angeles when we landed - J had to put on a t-shirt. This evening it has dropped to a wintry 16 degrees so time for woolly jumpers. As I write I am looking up the runway of LAX from our immensely cool hotel room balcony, the kids are asleep next door and we have a chance to reflect on our month’s beach retreat.

It was totally perfect – all we expected and wanted. We emptied our heads and allowed life to ooze through us, as one of our new friends puts it – JUST BEING. The first time I have found the space to do that for 15 years or so and how refreshing it was. It took me 10 days to even start chilling out, and those days were tricky.. my mind was just not ready to do nothing and had moments of blind panic. If viewers wish to try this at home the symptoms are drumming fingers, inability to sit still, hot flushes when you can’t get online, continuous burning desire to go somewhere and do something. After about 10 days you realise that you can’t be arsed to go anywhere and the days start to slip by with increasing pace whilst beginning to relish life.

The girls, not having lived on an adrenaline rush for the last 15 years dropped into life on a remote beach in Baja within 24 hours. They acclimatised to the heat and Mathilda started picking up words of Spanish with no encouragement from us.

Apart from the primary achievement of actually chilling out which was our main goal, we also had some other wins which are huge to us [as we have done nothing for 4 weeks] although may seem rather small to others, these were:

Mathilda is (mostly) potty trained
Clover learned to crawl
J is a tanned bombshell babe
Nick relaxed
Mathilda speaks Spanish
Clover jumped in the pool unaided [possibly by mistake]
Mathilda swam unaided with armbands [before Baja she was petrified]
J and Nick saw huge amounts of marine life
We met some great people and made new friends

So now it’s back to reality in LA. Phone downstairs and have them bring up a perfect Angus steak and a bottle of Pinot Noir, and afterwards a phonecall from the kitchen to make sure we were happy and whether we needed anything else. America sucks.

Last road trip

the main street of our local hood (very bagdhad cafe)

the road to town - Los Barrilles

I'm happy to say our car came back good as new the night before we were to leave, after a local panelbeater did some work on it, costing much less than the car hire company would have charged. It required a lot of trust in various strangers, there is always a chain of people involved, someones cousins brother, and mexicans are not renowned for getting things done on time (and timing was obviously critical). But it ended well, particularly when we delivered it back to Thrifty today and they didnt notice anything amiss. So we had our last road trip through the beautiful deserty roads, to San Jose airport to begin our next journey. I love these roads, they became so familiar, and despite the car being a lemon, it was always a joy to travel inside an air conditioned box.

Final luncheon at the taco stand

This is the taco stand at the top of our road. They are the finest tacos in Baja and the lady is our friend. She speaks not a word of English so we had to eat our way through the menu over the month to find out the real specialities. This shot is the last time we visited when the car was being repaired so we walked, the heat getting there nearly floored us [especially at Mathildas pace] but the lunch was worth it.