93. Back in Blenheim

We’ve now been back home in NZ for just over 2 weeks and I am still coughing occasionally. It seems I’m not the only one either, many friends both in Australia and NZ report the same thing. This has been a wonderful winter for Flu bugs!

After trying to exist in misery in an impersonal motel room in northern NSW for a few days we fled to Nic and Mick’s welcoming country property, grateful that we did have family with a place into which we could crawl. It was brave of Nic and Mick to put up with the coughing sneezing pair of us, and we were so remorseful later when it became obvious that we had managed to pass on the bugs despite everyone taking precautions including no close contact and eating in separate parts of the living room! By the last week however I was feeling much better and enjoyed wandering around the property, it is an almost perfect example of the Australian bush, the only things missing were emus, wombats and platypus. I was still voiceless of course so using a write-on pad to communicate with everyone including the neighbours.

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So back to NZ after a looooong boring day. We had to return our hired car by 12 noon and our plane didn’t depart till 6.30 pm. Brisbane International Airport was undergoing a rejuvenation and only a few food shops and one newsagent were open, and we still had to wait till 3 pm when the Air NZ counter opened before we could go through Customs and get to the sole large duty-free shop.

We arrived on the usual Midnight Express and were grateful Ray was there to meet us and drive us to T5 in the chestnut orchard, with a brief stop on the way to buy bread and milk. Although it was cold after Queensland, it was heartening to see pansies at the airport and daffodils and other early Spring flowers in gardens as we drove past, and even some early blossom on a tree or two. Spring in NZ is an absolute delight. There wasn’t much to see in the chestnut orchard though, no buds visible yet, just some interesting patterns made by the catkins of the Alder trees bordering the orchard.

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Although cold, T5 did not smell mouldy or damp at all, a tribute to the three large open humectant containers which we had left behind in strategic places. The gas heater soon had things warmer, but there seemed to be a problem with the refrigerator, it wouldn’t start. We had to take T5 to the Jayco dealer next day and two men worked on it for some time before finally tracing the problem to a little switch which was concealed behind the fascia above the fridge and required the whole fridge to be removed from its mounting.  IMG_3274

A small problem had also developed with the water supply. The pipes gurgled and spitted instead of just delivering smoothly. Dave has almost fixed that but while we are home-sitting he is going to do a thorough purge of the whole system.

After 9 days in Christchurch with visits to the Dr. etc it was time to head north to get a bit warmer and homesit for Robyn while she is in hospital. Her dear little aged Burmese cat Kassia had Penny all sorted out previously, it was like we hadn’t been away.

On the way we  experienced one of those amazing weather changes for which NZ is famous. Driving down towards the coastline south of Kaikoura on a lovely clear sunny day we suddenly hit a huge bank of sea mist which continued all the way along the coast. As we drove up the last hill before Kaikoura suddenly we were in bright sunlight again, the snow-clad mountains to the north looming impossibly close (an optical illusion?), then the mist closed in again apart from the section just north of town where the mountains again put in an appearance. There may have been plenty of seals along the coast but nobody including us was stopping to try to view them.

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So here we are in Robyn’s very comfy warm home in Blenheim, with time to explore (when the sun comes out) and catch up on the Blog and numerous other things. There is much activity going on in the surrounding vineyards, even though the vines are still dormant. Most have been pruned down severely but in some places the remains of last year’s long wavy branches are still visible. People are moving up and down the lines checking all sorts of things. The next few weeks are going to be interesting, if the weather starts to warm up as promised.  Currently it’s raining, here’s the view through the living room window at Robyn’s place. IMG_3308IMG_3310

Next day: the rain has stopped – gosh, look at the new blossoms. Plus there’s snow on the distant mountains.

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Everywhere in Blenheim there are clumps of daffodils and also acacia (wattle) trees in full bloom with their distinctive scent, and trees everywhere are covered with white or pink blossoms. And the azaleas..!  I do miss my Christchurch garden.

We’ve just discovered that the Marlborough Ploughing championships are on again in Blenheim next weekend. Although watching ploughing is not exactly thrilling, there is something about the plodding horses guided by long leading reins and the sharp hoe slicing through the ground which I find fascinating. This time I also hope to catch a couple of the “farm animal and dog demonstrations” promised by the organisers.

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