my life in the land down under

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A First and a Tenth

This week I completed Block #10 of the Made with Love quilt. Again, its been several months since the last block was completed. I only have two to go now, and have purchased the remainder of the fabric needed to complete the top.

The original words on this block were ‘Warmth’ and ‘Fancy’ – I have replaced them with ‘Patience’ and ‘Kindness’; two more qualities necessary for a strong marriage, or in fact any good relationship . 🙂

Block #10 appliqué and stitchery

Block #10 appliqué and stitchery

Block #10 appliqué

Appliquéd flower

Block #10 stitchery

Words of the week (?!)

Block #10 centre

Block #10 – centre part completed

Block #10 with borders

Block #10 with borders

Block #10 with squaring-up borders

Complete with squaring-up borders

On 9th May WordPress notified me that I’d reached an important date – the first anniversary of this blog. Thanks to all who read and follow – I appreciate your support! 🙂

The Quilt Project so far:

1 – Beginnings

2 – Quilting Lesson #1

3 – Attempts at AppliquĂ©

4 – Words

5 – Quilting Lesson #2

6 – Words II – To The Bride & Groom

7 – AppliquĂ©  Again

8 – Quilting Lesson #5 / Words III

9 – Quilting Lesson #6 / Words IV

10 – Out On My Own

11 – Quilt Project – Colour Choices

12 – The Next Step

13 – Slow and Steady (Wins the Race?)

14 – Showing Promise

15 – Two Ears

16 – Three Months


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Once Were Houses

In our part of the world we have gone from drought to flood conditions in the last few weeks. Thankfully we live on top of a hill so have not been affected by floodwaters as many locals have, and as I write this the weather has settled again and we’re enjoying a lovely sunny day.

We were recently introduced to geocaching and find it a great way to explore new places. We appreciate all those who have gone to the effort of placing caches for us to find and wanted to reciprocate. Recently we placed two caches of our own, along a route we walk or cycle through regularly; which is very accessible, has great views and an interesting history.

A severe storm in the Bay of Plenty on 18th May 2005 dumped over 300mm of rain on Tauranga in 24 hours – the heaviest rainfall in 95 years.

Besides major flooding, this caused multiple landslides in Otumoetai, at Welcome Bay and on Mount Maunganui (Mauao). The houses worst hit were in the hilly Otumoetai area of Pillans Rd, Karaka St, Hinewa Rd, Balmoral Terrace, Whitaker St, Vale St, and Estuary Way in Welcome Bay. Many of the houses were so badly damaged they had to be demolished. Amazingly, there were no injuries reported.

Stormwater upgrades undertaken by the council following this disaster cost $11 million. The new infrastructure included a stormwater tunnel at Pillans Point (14 metres below Pillans Rd) to stop floodwaters inundating Bureta, rebuilding the harbour outfall, creating a stormwater flowpath along parts of Vale St and improving the Otumoetai Golf Course as a flood basin.

Two urban parks were created in Otumoetai where once stood 28 homes.  One reserve was created in the amphitheatre-shaped bowl where Lemon Grove and the top end of Hinewa Rd perch above slopes that drop down to Landscape Rd. The other traverses the hillside that completely lost its footing and sent thousands of tonnes of earth into homes built along the stream flats at the end of Vale St.

A loop walk through both parks takes approx 30 mins.


Walkway going up


Commemorative plaque


 View from the top


View from the top, second walkway

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Cycle Hike Pt 2

Here begins part two of our cycle ride in Napier at the end of February (you can see part one here).


View from near our lunch stop – cruise ships in the distance, agapanthus seed heads in the foreground

After leaving the cafe we headed out of town again, and gradually worked our way back down that orange-marked trail on the map. The route soon took us through farmland.




Cyclists coming through!

We felt sorry for these sheep who seemed to have very little feed, water or shelter. By now it was early afternoon, and the day was heating up. The landscape everywhere was so dry and barren in appearance. Not long afterwards the entire North Island was declared a drought area, and we heard stories of farmers in the Waikato having to destroy their animals due to lack of feed. As I write this I’m pleased to say the drought is breaking, and several of the drought areas have had good amounts of rain in the last few days. (Update: The drought has well and truly broken in our area, with very heavy rain and flooding over the past few days!)




Hawkes Bay summer landscape – loved those ‘bunny tails’


Gravel trail


Another gate


Through the gum trees


More evidence of drought – a dried-up stream


The last leg – or should that be, ‘on her last legs’?!

The small camera John carried was much easier to access & operate while cycling; in the afternoon I was finding it increasingly difficult to stop, dismount the bike and wrestle my SLR out of the camera bag to use it each time. Getting back on the bike took more effort each time too, so there was some moaning & groaning involved! As a result I missed a few good shots toward the end of the ride – including one of the old bridge over the Ahuriri estuary (above), which is a local landmark. I did prove to myself that I could carry a camera while riding though!

35km later, we finally made it back to John’s sister’s place, but not before she’d texted us to make sure we were okay. We got back later than she expected – before dark and in time for tea though. 🙂

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Cycle Hike

When we visited John’s sister in Napier at the end of February, we took the bikes with us and rode a cycle trail we had been talking about doing for a while. John has been keen for me to blog about it ever since. We’ve had a busy few weeks, but I finally got around to it…!


Cycle trail map

We followed (some of) the orange trail on the map above; the pen tip shows our starting point. I took my Nikon SLR along for the ride and John took a Nikon point-and-shoot. It was cool and cloudy to start with so good weather for riding, but not so good for photos as the light was very flat.

At the beginning of the trail we rode along the top of a stopbank, with a river hidden by trees down to one side of us, and vineyards and orchards on the other.


Riding along the stop bank




Apple orchards – we saw pickers at work

We reached the coast at Awatoto, then rode north through an industrial area and along Marine Parade to the port, where we saw two cruise ships.


Stony beaches


Colourful comfort stop


Approaching the port


Cruise ship complete with security guard


Parked at the marina

As we were mostly following designated off-road cycle trails, we weren’t having to contend with traffic and stayed safe on the bikes. I did have one ‘close call’ near the marina, when I wasn’t paying sufficient attention to where I was going, almost colliding with a railing alongside the path as I went around a corner. I made a very sudden stop and my body collided with the handlebars instead – thankfully I stayed upright and there were no major injuries. 🙂


Beachside garden


Paved cycle track  along the coastline


Coastline view

We got ‘lost’ a couple of times when we entered suburban streets and the trail was poorly marked, otherwise it was mostly flat and easy to follow. As we reached the most northern point of our ride it was time for a lunch break.


Table decorations in the cafe



To be continued…

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Evening Expedition

We embarked on our second geocaching expedition this weekend (see this website for more information).

Last week while browsing the internet for local caches, we discovered that our first ever ‘find’ was being offered up for adoption by its current owner. We decided to take it on, so are now the proud owners of our first geocache! It had been placed a long time ago and was in need of some freshening up, so after a quick shopping trip we headed there first. The weather was quite different this visit; blue sky, sunshine and the tide was in. We put a new log book and some other bits and pieces in the cache and hope that it will be found again soon. We also took a ‘trackable’ that had been there since January, intending to move it on to another cache.


Downward steps


View from the bottom of the track – it looked different with the tide in

Then it was off to see what else we could find. We are choosing the ‘easy’ caches but being novices we are taking time to locate them, so only clocked up another two successes. In both cases we considered giving up and marking DNF (did not find) on the cache’s online log; but persevered and eventually were rewarded for our efforts. We’re still learning how to use the GPS well, and how to spot something subtly different in the environment which indicates where a cache might be hidden – a challenge to our observation skills.

Our first find was in an area with lots of pohutukawa trees and a good view from the top of a small hill. The early evening light was lovely, and we enjoyed exploring another local area we hadn’t been to before (or at least not for a long time). Of course we took a camera with us to record the visit, but also as a ‘cover’ should anyone not familiar with geocaching wonder what we were doing! We dropped off the Travel Bug trackable here, in the hope that it might be found by geocachers from overseas who would help it on its way back to the UK. There were quite a few people around but the cache was in a good hiding place, and we don’t think we were seen retrieving it.


Pohutukawa shadows


View from the hilltop, looking west over the harbour


View from the hilltop, looking east toward the Pacific Ocean


Late sun through the trees


Pohutukawas growing on the hillside

Our second cache this trip was hidden very close to where I work. Saturday evening was a great time to visit this location as there were very few cars or people around. It was getting dark by now and we hadn’t thought to bring a torch, although it may have  drawn more attention to us. The only clues we had were the GPS co-ordinates – which get you pretty close but not to the exact spot – and the hint ‘under’, so we were pleased to finally locate the cache. 🙂




Evening sky complete with moon

Later, when we’d eaten dinner, we logged our finds on the geocaching website – including retrieving and dropping off our first trackable. Here’s to more adventures in the future!

Please note, none of the photos give away the actual location of the cache. 🙂