For our family’s Christmas celebration, we took a picnic lunch and ate it beside the Haupiri River. Then, we went back down the road a couple of miles to the boat ramp into Lake Haupiri. The boys launched their barrel boat and spent the afternoon boating around the lake and playing in the water. I enjoyed sitting in a camping chair in the shade and looking at the scenery! The second picture shows Gloriavale, directly across the lake.
Simon’s boss was given a 1953 Austin a month or so ago, and he didn’t want yet another old car to restore, so he gave it to Simon. Such a car must be stored under cover in this climate, so Simon went to town and bought supplies to build a carport for it. He and his brothers have been busily building.
The car came home a day or two later:
The boys played around with it but couldn’t get it going until a friend who loves vintage cars came over one evening. With his help, they got it to start. The next morning, I got a video of Simon starting it himself. Several days after that, the car had to be moved so firewood could be put in our carport (his wasn’t ready yet). The car is so small it would have been easy to push—but no, of course Simon had to start it and see if it would go! He got it to go forward, but can’t get it in reverse yet without stalling it. He also can’t run it more than a couple of minutes because the radiator isn’t hooked up.
Mr. Intellectual continues to work on his strip canoe. He finally got all the strips glued together, and has been working on sanding it. It’s beautiful! Here it is nearly finished, and then with the last strip in place and part of the sanding done.
Meanwhile, the boys have been enjoying their barrel boat. Here it is after the first use, when they went down the Grey River.
This was the day they used it next, when we went down to the creek below our town with some friends to spend a Sunday afternoon in the water. They punted up and down the creek a number of times, but then that got boring, so they decided to sink it. The only way they could get it to sink was to take the plug out of the end and let it fill up with water—and even that took a long time!
Then, they used it on Christmas Day on a lake—I’ll publish a post in a few weeks about that. The most recent time they used it, Simon took Esther and one of her friends, and our two little boys, down the Grey River. They sunk it, and now they have to rebuild the motor—or dry it out, or something. It ended up quite dented, as you can see in this photo that Mr. Intellectual took to show someone.
As usual, there are a lot of photos that don’t fit in any other post.
Mr. Sweetie was enamoured with this cicada that he found. It’s only an inch long.
We planted sunflowers in a square for a playhouse for the two youngest. They figured out what is was pretty quickly, and Mr. Imagination built a table for it. He took these next three pictures.
I planted zucchinis close to the sunflower house.
Little Miss loves helping me in the kitchen. She was actually quite helpful when I made Tomato-Cheese Pinwheels recently.
The canoe continues to take shape. Mr. Intellectual adds a strip or two every day.
The kittens are growing! Here they are at a month old.
This is Mr. Sweetie’s lego airplane.
Here is another example of the interesting vehicles we see driving past. This is an old Land Rover.
One afternoon, Little Miss helped Esther and I to make tortillas. She loves helping in the kitchen!
Another day, I sorted through a box of clothes set aside for her to grow into. She was thrilled to find that she could now wear this pretty dress!
If you want a free Kindle book today, Chautona Havig’s A Bird Died is free for a few days. This is one I really enjoyed; read my review of it here.
Two friends have asked me in the last few weeks how I braid garlic and onions. I happened to have a pile of garlic that I decided to braid this morning, and after I got started thought it would be a good chance to show how I do it, for those who were curious.
Start by fastening three heads together. I usually use string, but rubberbands were handier this morning, so that’s what I used this time.
Braid a few times, then start adding in another head with each braid.
Continue till it’s long enough, and then stop adding more. Braid a little farther without adding any, and then tie it off.
Here are my finished braids of this year’s skimpy crop (I think it was a combination of poor soil and not enough sunshine where we put it), and I’ll have the boys hang them in the food storage room later.
The softneck garlic I used to grow in Michigan was easier to braid, but I’ve learned that it’s possible with this hardneck garlic as well. When we want to use some, we’ll just cut or twist off a head.
We have some dear friends who live near Nelson. We don’t get to see them very often, but always enjoy being with them when we can. One Sunday in December, we decided to make the trip up there to attend church with them, and then spend the afternoon together. It suited our friends, so we left here earlier than we usually get around on a Sunday morning and headed north! This was one of those times that Google Maps gets it right about the time it takes to get somewhere, so we ended up only a minute or two late for church. We had a great time reconnecting with people we know and love, and got back home that night tired but thankful for the gift of good friends.
Some of the scenery we enjoyed along the way was spectacular!
We ate lunch at a reserve on an estuary near our friend’s home.
After lunch, we walked around a small pond at one side of the reserve. I was amused when we came across Simon washing his boots in the pond. One of his brothers had gotten him muddy.
It almost looked like snow all over the ground—it was actually fluff from the cottonwood trees!
I think this was a shag sitting over the pond.
On our way home, we stopped for fuel in Murchison. Simon spotted this old truck across the way, and had to go take a closer look at it. He’s under the sign in a blue shirt; Mr. Imagination is standing next to the sign, in another blue shirt.
As we drove through the Buller Gorge, we were surprised to come up behind this horse and wagon!
We’re guessing the people were headed back to this picturesque farm.
We have a very large New Zealand flax plant outside our window. We have been enjoying watching the birds and bees pollinating it since it started blooming.
First, the flower stalks grew buds.
Then, the flowers opened.
Sometimes, this tui comes to call.
There are always bees around.
We also see a lot of starlings getting a drink of nectar. They end up with an orange cap on their head! I haven’t gotten a good picture of that, so here’s the best we could do.
Here’s another starling.
A bellbird has been coming, too, but it’s shy enough that if it sees the camera it is gone. This is the best I could get of it.
We are really enjoying the birds as they enjoy the flax flowers!
Every time we go to town, we pass the Brunner Mine memorial. We’ve been wanting to stop there ever since we moved in February, but never took the time until a few weeks ago. We read a book titled The Mine’s Afire a few months ago in preparation; it tells the story of the explosion that claimed the lives of 65 miners in the Brunner Mine in 1896. Reading that story made our tour of the mine site much more meaningful.
First, we saw the shaft of the Tyneside Mine, on our side of the river.
This is where the mine actually went down.
A nice walking track has been formed from the carpark at the Tyneside Mine down to the footbridge over the Grey River.
I don’t know what this structure was, but it was interesting!
The return airway of the Brunner Mine. They had to have a very good ventilation system for the mine, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent the tragedy.
This was ruins of the brickworks that was part of the mine complex.
This wheel was used for crushing the fire clay that was used to make fire bricks.
The clay came out of this mine.
A huge roof covers the remains of the beehive coke ovens. These ovens were packed full of coal, which was then burned for a couple of days with no or minimal air to remove impurities. Then, it was quickly cooled with water and pulled out to be sold as coke.
There are piles of bricks on both sides of the shed. I’m guessing these are the bricks that were used to close the doors of the ovens when they were making coke.
Looking across the river from the Brunner site. It’s hard to believe now that this was the biggest town on the Coast at one time!
We saw this dragonfly resting on the ground.
The entire Brunner site from the Tyneside side.
From the mine, we went up the road a couple of mile to the cemetery at Stillwater. This is where a large percentage of the miners who died in the 1896 explosion were buried. We were fascinated with the old graves.
The white fence surrounds the mass grave where 33 miners were buried together, many burned so badly as to be unrecognizable. It was very sobering to visit this place where so many people mourned at once on that day. Having read the book we did, we could understand better what it was like for them; the book was narrated by the fictitious son of a survivor, whose best friends had lost fathers or brothers.
This is the first post on this site, but it is by no means the first post I have written. If you are interested in our lives since 2011, there are over 600 posts on lotsofhelpers.wordpress.com. I ran out of space to store photos on that platform, so have switched over to this one. Now, I have the adventure of learning a new website! Many thanks go to Esther, my tech support and right-hand helper.