107. Steam-Punk’d

After a few days in the driveway at No. 40, and having survived an identity check by a neighbour (good for him), given the garden a good watering and enjoyed a couple of long hot showers, it was time to move on.

The things you encounter on the highway ….. like the vintage car which burbled along and held up miles and miles of traffic, and a house …


We settled in at the NZMCA park at Oamaru A&P showgrounds, a huge open space with only a few other caravans/campervans for company. In a van nearby were two dogs so Penny soon had some new friends.

The day we arrived was fine and hot, a perfect summer day. The next day was unbelievably cold with a wind straight from Antarctica, or so it felt! NZ’s changeable weather at its best.

A visit to the Steampunk museum seemed in order, but first we wandered the old Oamaru precinct. it has such an old-world feel to it, I always expect to see ladies in crinolines and gentlemen in stove pipe hats – as indeed there are but only on Festival days. We really will have to time our visits better. There are some very enticing shops, and also a plethora of old bookshops where it is lovely to see old books and magazines spread out in enticing displays instead of all jammed together as in post-quake Christchurch. Lots of bargains too.



IMG_5904We also had a brief look at the waterfront and discovered a number of veteran and vintage cars, which we later learnt were on their way to a big rally in Dunedin. Among them was a shiny black Chevrolet with whitewall tyres which had Dave in raptures as it was almost the same model his father had owned many years ago, except that this one was a coupe.



Oamaru 01-1601 copy

The museum – well, what can one say. Dark and mysterious and fairly enticing but only just. The one magic thing was the Portal; you enter through a controlled doorway and for about 4 minutes stand mesmerised by a magical display of coloured lights.




More stuff from inside the museum:

Oamaru 01-1601Oamaru 01-1607 copyOamaru 01-1603 copyOamaru 01-1604Oamaru 01-1606


Outside in the yard was more, including our new car, and some gigantic flies on the wall:


One of the best displays is at the front of the museum, a gigantic steam engine – sort of. For 2 dollars you can get the monster to emit some flames and clouds of steam. All very well on that freezing day but by then all I could think of was some hot coffee and – yes, really – a shared bowl of hot chips. Just the thing.

IMG_5907Oamaru 01-1607IMG_5910IMG_5939IMG_5910

Next day we thought to visit the Library so we could catch up on various Facebook videos and post a blog. Which I did. We returned to T5 via the Whitestone cheese factory and succumbed to a herbed muffin with a generous portion of melting brie inside. which was just as well because when we returned to T5 we could not find the door key!!! AND only that morning I’d been reading in a blog about someone who’d lost a hearing aid and had a whole camp-full of people searching for it (yes it was found eventually, stuck to the underside of the car dashboard). No such luck with our keys, but at least we did have a spare set. After retracing our steps to the library and cheese factory and visiting the police station just in case, we had a new set of keys cut which will be kept in a “safe place”.

After a quick revisit to the police station next morning we were off heading for the Catlins. It rained most of the way so no photos (so far!) but we are hoping the weather forecast for the next few days is accurate.



106. The Farming Life (Just Temporarily)

We were not intending to do another homesit for a while, but spend a quiet Christmas in Christchurch with Dave’s family. But a personal message to us from the kiwihomesitters website was so enticing that when I showed it to Dave he just said a slightly reluctant “Yes”. The message began with … “A sanctuary in the country but not too far from the city of Christchurch. Our home in a park like setting needs an amazing couple to enjoy its spaciousness while we are away for two weeks ….. the stars at night are glorious out here…. come and relax or enjoy a project to two around the place.”



So that is how we ended up looking after a lovely lifestyle-block type home and animals at Swannanoa just to the north of Christchurch for two and a half weeks over Christmas. One old border collie named Scott, 6 young cattle, 10 goldfish and 4 chooks plus a large garden all seemed happy under our attention.



Dave was kept busy shifting the huge irrigation sprinklers and occasionally the cattle, and feeding them barley mash every evening. He got the ride-on mower working again, and twice took a small trailer to collect more barley mash from a neighbouring distributor. Mash is the dregs from beer brewing – which still smelled and probably tasted of beer – was it just that which attracted the cattle so much rather than us?



One heifer took a liking to Penny and followed her when she chased her ball. Hilarious.



I was happy feeding the chooks, so nice not to have to throw out all our stale bread, vegetable scraps etc – no compost bin with a caravan – and pruning the roses, working the veggie garden and occasionally pulling a weed or two until my back started to complain. It was glorious to have such a huge kitchen to play around in, with a full sized wall oven and a dishwasher. Also being able to use a huge en suite with big walk-in shower every day!! Plus there was unlimited broadband.

We held a lunch party fort Dave’s sister’s birthday, it was a dull rainy day so our plans for a garden party setting were thwarted but the big farm table easily seated the nine people who attended. The chooks were supplying lots of huge eggs so I made a quiche as well as a big chocolate cake with sinful ganache icing (half dark chocolate, half cream) topped with a big fistful of raspberries from a nearby farm. The raspberries, strawberries and cherries at OUR farm had by then been seriously depleted, mainly by the owners and their four boys I hasten to add.

We became so familiar with the surrounding countryside through drives to Rangiora (mostly) for shopping that we began to feel like locals. We investigated a swimming hole on the Waimak but did not venture in.




A few times we drove into Christchurch to check out developments in the city and visit Alison. There’s still a long way for the city to go to become beautiful again. I just wish “they” would make up their minds about the Cathedral. At least some old facades are being retained although what will be built behind will doubtless be a trifle more modern. Graffiti flourishes, some not all so bad.



Meanwhile sale of our Christchurch home has stalled; despite four Open Days there were only two low offers and we have decided to hang on a little longer in the hope that post-Christmas things will improve.

Currently we are actually parked in the driveway of our old home, now untenanted, while Dave mows the lawn and we do some tidying up of the garden and a few other odd chores like repairing a toilet roll holder which had mysteriously become detached after the tenants had departed, and bits of extra cleaning here and there. The garden is responding strongly to some occasional watering by us over the last month, it’s amazing what a little TLC (and some rain as well) can do.

Our plan for the next week or so is to head south via Oamaru (and the Steam Punk Museum) for the Catlins before the big tourism rush in February starts. Until our home is sold or we decide to withdraw it from sale and put tenants back in, we cannot plan very far ahead. We still hope to tour Australia for at least six months next winter.