Theme Song to This Post is By Europe. Go On. You Know It.


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Last time I sat down to post, I think things were crawling along at a glacial pace.  Slow.  Slothlike.  Slower than watching paint dry (of which there was none, because CLADDING).  Slow like molasses in January.  (Except that’s summer to us Antipodeans.  Although, is molasses especially fast even in hot weather?  It’s not exactly the Usain Bolt of sugary condiments.  Not like maple syrup, that mofo can move.  Our house was not progressing like maple syrup, is what I’m trying to get at here.)


But then, we saw a teeny tiny glimmer of progress.


And then, 5 minutes later….



It was almost literally that quick.  Once all the infrastructure (the tedious, time consuming, money grabbing filthy filthy infrastructure) was in place, the Rodeca did just what it said on the tin, and snapped into place lickety split.

And then the scaffolding came down, and we could behold it in all its glory –


It’s actually been really hard to get a good shot of the Rodeca.  It has a shiny, almost luminous appearance, and changes colour depending on the light and the weather.  We’re completely in love with it – and so are most people – but it has certainly got its share of haters, who think we’ve created an “eyesaw”.

Fullscreen capture 12092013 80319 p.m.

Like how I so have no clue how to do this blogging thing that I had to google “how to take a screen grab?” And then forget to clear the google box so you could all see what a pleb I am?

But we always knew it would be a love it or hate it kind of thing.  And the majority do seem to love it.  I think some peeps are just very sad that we are no longer catering for their coffee-drinking,  surf-shop-requiring needs.  Sorry to harsh your mellow, dudes.  Let’s hug it out.

Moving on …. (which is EXACTLY what finishing the cladding let us do!)… we got building inspector seal o’approval to go ahead with the internal gib!  WE HAVE ALL OUR WALLS!!!!  AND THEY DONE BE GETTING SOME PAINT ON EM!

Paint selection is a very important task, and requires chips for optimal concentration.

Paint selection is a very important task, and requires a helpful assistant at all times.  Shoes are optional.

I’ve been a bit worried that living in such a big, white, open-plan space could start feeling a bit cold or exposed.  After much googling, we decided to paint the front “sunken” lounge a deeper colour, to make it feel a bit more cave-like and cosy.   I pictured my ideal colour as a greyish turquoise.  Which sounds disgusting.  And really hard to describe to purveyors of paint.    Then Resene by Karen Walker saved me.

Is it grey?  Is it turquoise?  Is it grequoise?

Is it grey? Is it turquoise? Is it grequoise?


Yet another colour I can’t seem to photograph well. Its grequoise, trust me.

The kitchen is also nearly finished.  I was struggling to find the right grout to use with our bubble tile splashback.


Grey? Turquoise? GREQUOISE???

The more I looked online, the more I saw references to something called StarGlass grout.  According to a lot of tile shops in the US, this is THE THING to use with glass or mosaic tiles.  It contains glass microbeads, which are supposed to let light into the grout itself to pass through the tiles, so they look shinier and more irridescent than with standard grout.

Have I mentioned I am all about the shiny?  Star Glass was sounding like a bit of a winner to me!

Problem number 1.  It is only sold in the USA.

Problem number 2.  We do not live in the USA.  It is technically difficult to find anywhere further from the USA than where we are.     Outer Space is closer.

Problem number 3.  It is still EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to find retailers in the US who will ship to places not in the USA.   (Except Outer Space.  NASA is very accommodating sending stuff up there).

Pretty sure this map should be updated so we read "Hobbits".

Pretty sure this map should be updated so we read “Hobbits”.

But I kept looking at pictures like this one, showing what a difference StarGlass could make…

Pretty.  Glowy.  Shiny.   Can I put this stuff on my face?

Pretty. Glowy. Shiny. Can I put this stuff on my face?

and, dear reader, I was obsessed.  Plus, it saved me having to decide between what was available here – light grey, dark grey, or greenish grout, who could ever choose!

No, instead I get to choose between fifteen colours based on TINY PICTURES ON THE INTERNET.  Win.

No, instead I get to choose between fifteen colours based on TINY PICTURES ON THE INTERNET. Win.

I found that magical, magical thing, dear Kiwis Hobbits.  A retailer who would ship to New Zealand.  Who would give me their own personal phone number so I could ring them (ok, at 4am my time, but I was up feeding Newbie) to give credit card details, so I didn’t have to send them online.   Who actually rounded down the shipping cost.   Wholesalers USA, Inc.   



I am a skeptic reformed.  Gary came through for me!  The grout arrived in NZ within 48 hours of leaving their warehouse.  It then sat in customs limbo, literally 500m down the road from our house, for five days, while NZ Customs investigated exactly what I intended to do with some grout.  Ummm……I’m gonna grout?  Some tiles?

Does this grout contain Contac NT?  Or FRUIT???

Does this grout contain Contac NT? Or FRUIT???

We headed away to Queenstown last week.  Unknown to us, we picked a good week to be there –


Gay Ski Week – when Queenstown becomes Queen’s Town.

While we were away, the grout went up.  We came back, and I bounced into the kitchen so fast to see the tile that I didn’t even notice that the enormous new wooden bench completing our kitchen island had been installed.



Nope, drawn to the shiny stuff.


Which turned out to be not so shiny as I was expecting, but I’m told the tiles need a final clean, so I’m reserving decision.    But still calling it a success!


Other shiny stuff has happened.  We said goodbye to Alice


Bye bye little ghosty footprints. Hope you like your shoes.

And brought in some men with very large and noisy machines to recreate Operation Desert Storm.


The house got a dustbath floor got sanded….

We knew the floor wasn’t in pristine condition.  It’s over 100 years old, and we actually love that the floor shows the history of the house.   Among other things, the cinema used to be a dance hall – and we’ve been told they polished the floor for Friday night dances by wrapping the carthorse’s hooves in sacks, and bringing it into the building to drag a bale of hay around.  At some stage in its history, it looks like someone attempted to “repair” the floor by slapping on a bit of bog wherever there was damage.  Turned out (and nobody is blaming the horse here,) there was a lot of damage, and so there was a lot of bog.  And when it got sanded back, it turned bright pink.  Awesome.


Pink is very 2013.

First they tried painting over the pink patches.  Unfortunately, the paint they chose turned a wierd green khaki colour.

Erm.....still not the look we were going for!

Also not the look we were going for.

So Midge spend a very long day (and most of a long night) scraping off the paint  (which had been somewhat ….ah….enthusiastically applied) and digging out the bog, so the holes could be filled with woodputty instead.  Obviously this process involved no swear words.  At all.  But was 100% worth it.


Then you just shine ‘er up!

And now we just have to train Newbie to use a brush with his shovel….


Or we just get a horse….

And then we are good to move in.

No…..really.  We are good to move in.  We have an official move in date.  We have movers booked.   In just over a week.  There is no gif suitable to express the combination of exhileration/disbelief/panic/elation I am feeling right now.  Well, there is, but I think I’ve already packed it in one of the boxes.

On Shaky Ground


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The cinema, along with the bottom of the North Island and the top of the South Island have had a bit of a roller coaster ride this past week.  

Luckily, the place proved its 100% earthquake  certification and stood up just fine to the one really biggish shake (6.5?  6.9?  I forget, I was under a table with an indignant Newbie at the time).  Other places weren’t as lucky.


Oh, the humanity.

But there hasn’t really been a lot of activity round here, besides the seismic type.    A lot of people seemed to think we must be all finished and moved in, since they hadn’t heard any updates for so long.  



Closer to the truth are those people who seemed to think that we had run out of money, declared bankruptcy, and moved to Yemen.


I’m a lady! I wear black! I SO could be the Burqa Avenger!!!

Truthfully though, there has been no update in ages because there has been very very little to update. 

In three months, we have gone from this…..


to this….


Let’s play Spot The Difference! I’ll go first. Uh……

to this…


Cinema now comes hygienically wrapped in foil for added freshness!

So the front has been killing me, both with its hugely mounting costs (we thought about changing the blog name, but is a bit clichéd, no?)  and also with BOREDOM.  Seriously, I’ve almost given up asking what the cladders are up to each day.  It will have been a nail in this bit, replacing this bit of rotten timber with this bit of super pricy non-rotten timber, and sealing up one of the approximately ninety billion things that needed sealing.  All of which was completely invisible to the non-cladder’s eye.

But then….this week…..something happened that even I could see.


We done got some windows!

This was the last of the three big things I’ve been waiting for since the build begin – the other two were pretty dramatic. 


The big hole in the back wall…

And just pretty. 


Kitchen!  With bling!  And ooh look, a new shiny bench!!!

And words simply….and literally….fail me, how much of a relief it is to see a big change that indicates some progress really is being made.  (Also, sea views are one of those, oh…HELLA IMPORTANT things given that’s one of the main reasons we can’t send our kids to university fell in love with the place in the start.)


View from the downstairs lounge. Eventually, I expect, we may lose the scaffolding and builder’s bum from the view. But probably not for a while, so maybe we’ll hang tinsel off it at Christmas. Yes, the builder too.


Bedroom window. It doesn’t matter how I try to take this picture, all that seems obvious in it is the cars. Come over for a cup of tea, I’ll point out how in real life you actually notice things like the waves and the sky and the Jetstar flight JQ263 on final arrival.

It’s good timing to see some progress being made.  We’ve known for a while that because the cladding has ended up costing us, well, really hundreds of thousands of dollars more than was anticipated, we were going to need to go back to the bank for another top up to complete.  We were just waiting to closer to The End to get an idea of what all the final bills were going to be.  Because there is still an awful lot of Hmmmms and We’ll sees and It depends being thrown round when we try to find out figures.  


This happens exactly never.

Word to the wise, it is always best to approach banks to ask for more money before one becomes redundant, rather than after.   Brilliant timing on the restructure, Midge’s work, just brilliant.    

So when he’s not having coffee meetings and interviews, he’s been doing some hard labour on site.  Meanwhile,  I’ve gone into penny pinching overdrive and tried to cut what corners can be cut. Which, at this late stage in the build?  Is really nothing.  At home though – why, I’ve saved a grand total of $11.92 off the grocery bill this week by choosing homebrand products, and making our milk from powdered.  (Now my homebrand instant decaf coffee tastes even worse.  So I won’t drink as much of it.  DOUBLE BONUS SPECIAL MONEY!!!)  


Oh sure, Woolworth’s, I’ll take it home. But not with pride. I’m not expecting a parade, IT’S JUST FLOUR.

In the end though, a few measly dollars saved here and there by turning off light switches and pulling Pugs from her twice-weekly daycare and selling spare organs on ebay won’t really cut it if all the hmms and we’ll sees and it depends become $$$!! and $$$$$!!! and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!.   So I had to do the unimaginable.  The unthinkable.  

I had to ask my Dad for a loan.

At the age of thirty coughsomething, it was like being plunged back into the darkest depths of teenagedom.  

“Um….Dad?  D’you want a coffee?”  Oh crap, crap, I forgot all I’ve got is homebrand instant decaf with clumpy powdered milk!  It tastes like a diesel spill!  Maybe this adds sympathy points.  Or he’ll think I’m trying to kill him.   Maybe I should accidentally trip as I carry it back to him and chuck it in a potplant. 

“Sooooooo, Daaaad???  How’s your coffee?  It….uh…..may be too hot, maybe you shouldn’t drink it for a bit…..  I was wondering?  If….I…….that is…..if it’ s ok……and you can say no…….if I could?  Borrow some?  Ummmm.  Money?  Just for a little while!  I’ll pay you back!  Really!  Soon!  And I may not even need it, it’ s just in case!” (Can y’all see why I let Midge do the talking when we went to see our bank manager?)

Dad very matter of factly said “Yup”, and unlike my teenage years didn’t even grill me about where I was going and what I was going to spend the money on and what time was I going to be home and where was my jacket, young lady, don’t think you’re leaving the house like that.

Although he did comment that Newbie wasn’t wearing any socks.


I’m sorry, son, we can’t afford socks. Or pants.



Were we going for the weathered look?


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Well then, where were we? 

Oh yes, the plasterer had gone AWOL, the painters were missing, and our kitchen bench was a wasn’t.  What else could go wrong?


For those not familiar with Wellington, why, you will find it conveniently located RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT MASSIVE WEATHER BOMB.

Wellington got hit with a rather stiffer breeze than normal last week.  Winds of over 200kph tore down trees and tore up roads.  Southerly winds.  Meaning nothing between our house and these Antarctic Gales but….um…..nothing. 


Nothing except a lot of sand dunes and boardwalks which are now all approximately several kilometres away from their original position.

(This great video takes you all along the south coast)

We spent a reasonably anxious night wondering if there was going to be a house to be plastered and painted in the morning, or if we would instead be retrieving bits of it from distant hillsides for the next few years. 

But no, our lady has got good strong bones.  She’s stood for over 100 years right there, and hopefully looks like she plans to keep standing.  (And we’ve got the 100% Earthquake Compliance Certification to prove it.  Now, as long as global warming doens’t sink her….)


Unlike our neighbour’s garage roof, which ended up in our backyard. Leaving a nice collection of dings and scrapes along the side of our new cladding, but OH NO neighbour, it’s fine, you don’t need to come over and check the damage or apologise or thank our builders who helped secure the remainder of it down or anything.


The scaffolding itself actually caused the most damage to our place, with the winds driving it into the new edge flashings, splitting and denting them.  It’s all relatively minor cosmetic damage, luckily.    Have I mentioned our lovely cladders?  I have complete respect for these guys.    In freezing, sand-laden winds that I could barely stand up in, with nary a safety harness between them, they were high atop scaffolding. (Elevated.  Not wasted.  Although that might explain their lack of nerves.)


Plus, day-glo orange. It takes a brave man to work that.

We have another hero in this (fairly mundane actually, given the real damage so many others copped that night) story.  The building inspector.  Now, its not often that a home renovator goes around extolling the virtues of an overly cautious building inspector.  In fact, just a few weeks ago, we were downright grumpy about the fact that he wouldn’t let us gib and plaster the interior of the front wall until the cladding and windows were in place.


That would have been some fairly sodden gib board we would have been replacing. We salute you, Mr Building Inspector.

But the winds died and the sun came back


ok, so its over there. I was a bit late to actually capture the sun coming back to us. This is Wellington, you’ve got to be quick or you’ll miss it.

And so did the plasterer and painters….


This was all actually before the storm, but pfffff accurate timeline schmaccurate timeline

And squeeeeee finished ceiling. 


Well.  Nearly finished ceiling.  Looks a bit bare, doesn’t it?  I wonder what that space really needs…..


Oh, I know – a Big Ass Fan!!!

Serene white walls…arching white ceiling….austere glass – all feeling a bit minimal zen art gallery chapelish?

I’ll wait for those who know me to stop snorting under their breath at exactly how long “minimal” and “Leroy” can co-exisist.

And now for something a little more me…..


Yes! More tiles! More shiny! More pretty!

I fell in love with this glass mosaic bubble tile.  At first it was just going to go on the splashback wall behind the sink…


This is the wasn’t bench that isn’t, but will be an is very soon. (I may have been reading too much Suess to Newbie and the Pugs.)

And then it just sort of kept going…across the entire kitchen wall…


My mother may have very tactfully mentioned that this might appear a little over the top. I may have less than tactfully advised that was exactly the point.

Yes, yes, I know mosaic tiles are hell to clean, and yes, I’ve got them all over my kitchen walls and yes, I am a less than pristine chef who should apparently treat my kitchen the way I treat my surgery, says Midge.   Who has in actual fact never seen me operate, and therefore doesn’t appreciate the fact that I am possibly the only person alive who can manage to splatter the ceiling and walls (keep reading, it’s not gory, I promise) with iodine soap (see? ungory) simply by scrubbing my hands.   If he really wants me to cook like I operate, I’ll just drop things on the floor when I’m done with them so they don’t contaminate my aseptic technique. 


Gordon has mosaic tiles. I bet no-one expects him to scrub them.



My Kitchen Rules.


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Well, it’s been some week.  Lets recap, shall we?

Look, a picture of all the new plastering that’s been done!  Oh wait….the plasterer walked off the job…..


In case the Dept of Labour is reading this, the plasterer was never balanced on this plank. So Dom never had to ask him not to. Because doing that would have made him mad, and he would have left. So who know why he went, really?


Oh, but just look at the pretty painting that’s been done!  Oh no, that’s right….the painters have gone AWOL….


Pugs pretending to be a painter to Newbie – “You can’t see me!!!!”


But look!  The kitchen is going in!


Notice those lonely little power points hanging out on their lonesome to the left of the bench? Unique design feature, or was there supposed to be a bench under there? YOU DECIDE!

And alright, it’s not exactly following the plan we got from the joiner, but apparently I didn’t communicate my ideas to him in a clear and logical manner, and I should have realised that the plans I got from him were just a rough idea, and if I insist on being difficult, well we can always get a new bench made and what’s an additional $2000 between friends anyway AMIRIGHT?

Still though (walking away, taking a deep breath, certainly not poking my tongue out at him behind his back because that would just be childish), isn’t the colour beautiful?

This would be the colour that made the joiner raise his eyebrows, turn to Midge, and ask him if he was ok with the choice his crazy lady friend had made when I handed over the colour swatch.   I should have realised then we were not sympatico.


Who, me? Oh, I’m just a bit of kitchen cabinetry hanging out over here with the Rodeca cladding, matching it EXACTLY. Boom.

But.  While I was trying to find some pictures of the markings I’d made on the floor for the kitchen layout, I got a real sense of how far we’ve come in the last few months….


Crap house, lush garden.


Lush house, crap garden.


Pugs June 2012


Pugs May 2013. Wow…apparently she still fits at least one piece of last year’s clothes!


Our main entrance???


Our main entrance!!!


Newbie December 2012


Newbie May 2013

So.  We got no complaints, do we?

It’s down to the wire…


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Want to see what $5000 looks like?


Go on…guess exactly what on this charming street frontage could possibly have cost….well, more than a tenner, really.

Need a clue?


Yup – $5000 will buy you some LOVELY yellow and black bling for your power lines.  All the hip wires are wearing them this year.  Nothing says ‘Naff off, seagulls!” like some danger stripes.  And we thought they’d add such a fancy touch to the front of the house, they go so nicely with the pointy yellow roofline.  People will call us the Bee House.  (We’d be the Beehive, obv, but that’s already taken.  Dang politicians.)

Actually, these wrapped wires represent one of our biggest bargains of the project.  As you can tell, there are quite a lot of live lines right in front of the house, and we have some rather charming young men who are going to be putting up cladding and installing new windows.


The builders seem to be camera shy, but be assured that they all look pretty much like this. (That’s what you get for dodging the camera, boys.)

And we like these men, and we (and the Department of Labour) would rather they don’t get too closely aquainted with live power lines.  It seemed for a long time that the Power Board’s only option was going to be taking the lines from the front of our house, and temporarily directing them across the street, along the other side, and back again.  Like so…


I had a RIDICULOUS amount of fun drawing this.

Taking a few weeks, four new power poles, and a lot of money.  No, really, a lot of money.  My sense of fiscal proportion may be freakishly out of whack these days (which tends to happen when you get bills on a daily basis that are more than your entire paycheck last year – I suspect you either become immune to large digits, or collapse in a corner gibbering about how you should have been an architect or a drain layer), but $20,000 is still some serious coin.


We asked. They didn’t accept “Foreign Currency”.

Then, apparently someone had the lightbulb moment that instead of redirecting the power to the entire suburb, they might be able to just put the electrical equivalent of a condom over the lines.

Mind you, this exercise still required two cherry pickers, two trucks, five men directing traffic, and seven guys dangling in mid air….


I missed the whole thing, but in my mind it looked very much like this.

And so we have Financial Crisis No. 4817 narrowly averted and  the power lines are safe to be around.  Which means…..

More scaffolding!   (I would have got a picture of it, but I was trying to stop Pugs from either climbing up it or running into the road in front of a busHelicopter parent, I KNOW.)

Thanks to Lyall Bay on Facebook who posted this snap.  Clearly not wrangling kids.  Or more of the Free Range Parenting style.

AHA!  Thanks to Lyall Bay on Facebook who posted this snap. Clearly THEY weren’t wrangling kids. Or they embrace more of the Free Range Parenting style.











And more scaffolding means more cladding, which means the final windows can go in, which means the front wall can be gibbed and plastered and painted and…..oh my stars, that would mean we are almost finished!!!!

Excuse me, I need to go lie down and breathe into a paper bag for a while.

Shoe Business


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Through exhaustive research (…watching a lot of episodes of  Restoration Man is exhausting, really!), we discovered that there is an ancient tradition of hiding shoes in the walls of buildings.  In fact, if you find them during a renovation of your old property, you can be listed on the Registry of Concealed Shoes.   Ha.  Concealed shoes sounds like something the TSA thoroughly screens for in airports these days, yes?  Or the police…”Ma’m,  are you carrying any concealed weapons or loafers?”  “Ahhhh I can explain….I have a permit for those Manolo Blahniks!”

I tried to find an image of a concealed shoe.  None of them were safe for work.  So - here's a dog that are a rubber ducky instead.

I tried to find an image of a concealed shoe. None of them were safe for work. So here’s a dog that ate a rubber ducky instead.











But apparently this is a thing.

It’s thought to have begun as a slightly less creepy/insane alternative to the even older tradition of placing a HUMAN SACRIFICE in the foundations of a building  and is meant to mean less of the bad voodoo, and more of the happy happy joy joys.  And….oh crap, I’ve just  read further into Wiki, and apparently it’s also linked with fertility.    Feck.

(Although, I am so excited to think now that someone might find this blog by googling “human sacrifice”.)


I happened to mention the ghostly completely-rational-explanation-for-them-I’m-sure footprints to my mother.  “Oooh, ooh!” exclaims she.  “I was watching ‘Restoration Man’, ooh ain’t that George Clarke loverly, ” (I am not sure why my mother has become an elderly Cockney woman in this retelling), “and  blah blah blah CONCEALMENT SHOES.  Maybe you have a little barefoot girly ghosty who wants a pair of shoes?”


What Alice wants, Alice gets.










Yup, a pair of Pugsley’s old shoes have been builtinto the wall behind the fireplace.  You can thank me later, person who renovates the cinema again in another 50 years and gets to make it onto the Registry of Concealed Shoes.

And the thing that allowed all this to happen?

Why, its the Escea Dx1500!

Why, it’s the Escea Dx1500!











That’d be the new fire.  Which is even more super exciting and picturesque from the rear side….

Yup, it has shiny space tubes.

Yup, it has shiny space tubes.










After much consultation with Jason from the Wellington Fireplace Company (ahem, discount for mentioning you on the blog?  Read by …um… at least 10 people every year!), we went with this gas-powered baby.  I’d originally wanted this closed woodburner, given how I like the smell and atmosphere and general, oh, REALITY! of a real wood fire –

Stovax Riva Studio 3

Stovax Riva Studio 3









But although it passed the Wellington City Council approval, for some reason the regional council wouldn’t approve it (despite it being super clean air rated overseas.  Because, what do countries like Sweden and Denmark know about environmental consciousness, pah.)

So the Escea it was, partly because those super shiny space tubes actually lead to a central heating system, so the fire warms other rooms too.  Mor Heating for the win!   Also because it has the ability to duct horizontally out of the side of the building.  Which means our DJ booth above the fire remains intact!

DJ booth on the left.  Oh yeah.  Can you hear the "oonst oonst" .

DJ booth on the left. Oh yeah. Can you hear the “oonst oonst” .









And according to the interweb, it should look really smashing one day.

Just like this. Except - without the lake.  Or the mountains.  Or the Esmes recliner.  but otherise, JUST LIKE THIS.

Just like this. Except – without the lake. Or the mountains. Or the Eames recliner. But otherwise, JUST LIKE THIS.








Things are happening so quickly on-site now, it’s really more than I and my pathetic pace of blog writing/brace o’sick children can keep up with.  But what else is the haps?

Not sure if you recall our mess of a ceiling?

Ignore the man holding the light.  Concentrate instead on the holes, patches, and general horror that is the ceiling.

Ignore the man holding the light. Concentrate instead on the holes, patches, and general horror that is the ceiling.









This ceiling has driven Midge mad, and he eventually talked Dom and me into letting Andrew the Wonder Plasterer have his wicked way with it.

Which first involved Dom placing 5000 (yes, literally 5000) screws, to hold all of the individual tiles firmly in place.

The elusive Dom is easier to photograph wen trapped on a scaffold tower

The elusive Dom is easier to photograph when trapped on a scaffold tower

Someone has however now got the idea that they too can climb up tall towers.  That cat is going to get one hell of a shock if she has a screwdriver.

Someone has however now got the idea that they too can climb up tall towers. That cat is going to get one hell of a shock if she has a screwdriver.












And now plastering is proceeding, and I have to admit, it is going to look amazing.


Right side, same old grottiness. Left side is plaster as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Trust me, I have compared it to one.









And speaking of plastering – and babies – Newbie’s room is officially the first room plastered, windows fitted, electricals a-go-go, and ready to paint.


That deserves a smily face.

I can see clearly now…


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The glass is here!

Actually what I can really see is exactly how much cleaning I am going to have to do…


I think the installer’s name was Smeary McSmearerson.

Luckily, I have two children.  One appears to be fully indoctinated in the way of the broom, which leaves Newbie to learn the fine art of polishing.


I got this. You – fetch Windex.

And he’s got his work cut out for him, because the shower glass has also gone in!

I want that glass polished until I can see my face in it!

I want that glass polished until I can see my camera in it!

Pugs inspecting Newbie's handiwork.

Pugs inspecting Newbie’s handiwork.

So new glass very exciting…but has also already given me several panic attacks I wasn’t anticipating.

The "My daughter is going to fall through the glass" panic attack....

The “My daughter is going to fall through the glass” panic attack….

And the "Glass?  What Glass? "vertigo panic attack.  And the “Glass? What Glass? “vertigo panic attack.

And speaking of things that I know logic says no to…


I’ve told you hobbits, if you walk through paint, wipe your feet before you come inside!!

These came to light the other day.  Little footprints, a bit smaller that Pugsley’s.  If you look closely, there is a faint trail of them leading across the room, but they are clearest in front of the soon-to-be-fireplace.

Ghostie wanna scooter?

Ghostie wanna scooter?

About the time these appeared, Pugs started asking me if she could “let Alice in to play” whenever we were at the house.  Alice?  Alice?  Who the you’refreakingmeoutkid is Alice??

Midge is unconcerned.

The builders are slightly spooked.

They aren’t the ones who are going to be sleeping in this building soon.


Slightly easier to explain is this…


The logical explanation for this is Dom with a sledgehammer.

Bye-bye door!  Bye-bye steps!  Bye-bye windows!  Hellooooo new lounge room!

In case you can’t remember, this is what this area used to look like….


Doors. Steps. Windows. Considerable more money in our pockets.

Getting rid of the doorway here is hopefully going to have two benefits – keeping out sand that blows straight across the road from the beach in a southerly, and keeping out randoms who still think this place is a surfshop/cafe.  I mean, I may make a good cuppa, but I’d like to be able to wander around in my manky old dressing gown without expecting someone to come in and ask for a double macchiato or some Mr Zog’s sex wax or something.


The new windows are also going to be almost a metre higher than the originals, so hopefully passersby won’t be able to peek in so easily.

After all, feeling like someone is watching you is a bit disconcerting, isn’t it?

maybe all that glass was a bad idea....

maybe all that glass was a bad idea….

Gaping holes in walls and other pretty things.


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More busyness at the cinema, everyone has been working hard!


What are the chances of convincing her this is still fun when she is 16?

How happy is that face?   Of course, her parents have bought her the world’s largest sandbox to live in….

Of course, it's all under the floor boards, but she's only little, she'll fit for a while....

Sure, it’s all under the floor boards, but she’s only little, she’ll fit for a while….

Actually, a lot of sand has been removed.  About 10 skip loads in all.  Some poor student sod gets sent underneath the floor boards, loading sand into a bucket.  When he tugs on the rope it gets hauled twenty feet back to the opening, and dumped in a wheel barrow.  Then, at exercise time, the tradies go for an innocent stroll on the beach, shaking sand out of hidden pockets sewn in their trousers.  The guards of Stalag Luft III don’t suspect a thing!  Or….was that “The Great Escape”?


Yes, that is a hand on the boobs. Got to protect the food supply, y’know?

This is Newbie, partaking in his favorite activity at the cinema – sleeping.  Note the slightly furrowed brow, which indicates that someone has probably stopped using an angle grinder or setting off fireworks, or something equally as ear piercing.  Noise seems to help this wee man sleep.  Of course, he has got a two year old sister, don’t think he’s ever heard the sound of silence in his life.  And so he sleeps extra well at the house, where the cladding has been going up – meaning lots of aluminium getting cut.


Worth the wait!

It’s fantastic to see such a big change happening to the outside, and we’ve gotten lots of positive comments from friends and passers-by.  Not sure what the reaction is going to be when the coloured Rodeca goes on the front – I suspect people will either love it, or hate it.

Our guest and downstairs bathrooms are nearly done now –

Bathtub filled with water.  Weighing it down?  Someone wanted to test it out?  Melted ice after kidney removal??

Guest bathtub filled with water. Weighing it down? Someone wanted to test it out? Melted ice after kidney removal??

Speaking of trying it out - "Bubbles?  Mama?  Bubbles???"

Speaking of trying it out – “Bubbles? Mama? Bubbles???”

Guest shower - just waiting for glass!

Guest shower – just waiting for glass!  And guests!

Our first new toilet!  (Is it wierd that I am so excited about that?)

Our first new toilet! (Is it weird that I am so excited about that?)

And having waited for the tiles to arrive from the moon Europe, the family and en suite are also well underway!

Wall tiles starting to go up in our "Offsuite"

Wall tiles starting to go up in our “Offsuite”

We had ordered a special feature tile for our master bathroom, and there was a little confusion when it arrived…

Fancy tile?  Decks?  Assault rifle?  The treasure of the Sierra Madre??

Fancy tile? Decks? Assault rifle? The treasure of the Sierra Madre??

But no –

Manhole!!! (cue heavenly chorus)

Manhole!!! (cue heavenly chorus)

OK, it looks better in person….

The tiles are going up a little slowly here, because the very special machine (from Spain) that was ordered to cut these very thick special tiles (from Spain) was plugged into the power supply (not from Spain) and promptly turned into berenjenas fritas con miel o salmorejo (I googled Fried Spanish Things and that was what came up).

Flaminquín Cordobés.  Churros.  El Frito.

Flaminquín Cordobés. Churros. El Frito.

Slightly less of a challenge in that it is able to be cut with things-that-don’t-have-to-be-replaced-from-half-a-world-away is the tile for the family bathroom.


I’m sure the tiler does have a special place in tiler hell for us for choosing a three dimensional tile however.

Apparently "But its PRETTY!" is one of the msot annoying things you can say to a builder....

“But its PRETTY!” appears to be one of the most annoying things you can say to a builder….

It seems that it causes lots of problems.  Tiler problems.

This is a tiler problem.

This is a tiler problem.

He curses me to an eternity of …. well, annoying people who choose awkward tiles, since that apparently comprises tiler hell.

And, oh oh oh, I have left the biggest change till the end – today we saw the light.

No....not that one.....

No….not that one…..

That one!

That one!

Our big.  Massive.  HUGE!  (Bonus points for getting the reference) sliding door went in the back.


There's no i in Teamwork.  Or Banjo.  Just sayin.

There’s no i in Teamwork. Or Banjo. Just sayin.

I was wrong.  "Please be careful!!!!!" is apparently more irritating.

I was wrong. “Please be careful!!!!!” is apparently more annoying.

And then….

It just slotted in there like the opening was made for it....

It just slotted in there like the opening was made for it….

It is truly fantastic to be able to sit in the back garden and look out at the sea.

Taking in the sea view.  Or, planning how she can climb the scaffolding and get onto the roof....

Taking in the sea view. Or, planning how she can climb the scaffolding and get onto the roof….

Less amazing is the view from the house into the back garden now….

The rubble, I mean.  Not the man and toddler.

The rubble, I mean. Not the man and toddler.

It appears I need to learn to garden in my spare time.   So….next decade, sometime?

A Happy Newbie Year.


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It’s been a while (even by my slack standards!) since our last update.

Jonah High Res-27

As you can see, I’ve been a little busy with our other project – Newbie arrived on Christmas Eve.

He gave us a scare by getting a nasty infection a week later that saw him in hospital for a week on IV antibiotics – and me bedding down next to him (being a food supply is a 24/7 job!).


But he’s got the all clear now, and has been spending time on site trying to sleep through the noise.


Yes, enjoy it while you can, Newbie. As soon as you can walk, we’re putting you to work like your sister.

And it’s pretty noisy – the boys have been busy!  We’ve got steel beams going in…

IMG_7663 IMG_7666

bathrooms being tiled….

shower floor IMG_7670
Doors being hung….


And this is mine! Yay the walk-in wardrobe! My dream is complete….


Have to point out that this is Midge’s wardrobe….

We're recycling the old doors where we can -  I love that where they've been sanded back, you can see all the colours they've been painted over the last 104 years!

We’re recycling the old doors where we can – I love that where they’ve been sanded back, you can see all the colours they’ve been painted over the last 104 years.

The Big Ass fan has arrived…


Have to wonder what the courier was thinking when they dropped this off…

So we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Although we’d hoped to be in by Christmas, clearly that wasn’t to be.  We’re still getting a sense of what it’ll be like living here.  We’ve had lots of extremely casual, fush and chups dinners here over the holidays.

IMG_7687 IMG_7456 IMG_7453

And I’m sure our friends and family will be happy to know that eventually they will be able to eat off a table, instead of their knees – we’ve just bought a 4 metre long table off Trade Me.  Looks a bit rough at the moment, but we love the history behind it: it used to be the boardroom table for the Lyttleton port stevedores union.


We’ve also been spending a lot of time getting to know our new front yard.  Pugs absolutely loves the water, and we’ve learned that we need to pack her bathing suit and a few towels every time we head out to the house, because she is sure to demand “Beach!  Swim!”.


Luckily for Midge, her version of “swim” involves paddling in to her knees, and so he usually manages to avoid hypothermia.  Can’t wait to get the little grommet onto a board in a few years time though!

Jonah High Res-2

Make that, both little grommets.  This is looking like a great place for them to grow up.



Twas the week before Christmas


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I’m having tremendous fun with the tradies right now.  Newbie is due in two days time, and I can see them eyeing me up as if at any moment they are going to be required to boil water and bring large quantities of towels.   Throw in a couple of winces and clutching at the bump (kid’s got a decent right hook in there!), and  I think this is what they are expecting….


Give me another week of being pregnant, and I think I will welcome this as an option.

We had our first site BBQ today, to thank all everyone for all their hard work before most of them knock off for the holidays.  Wellington gave us a stunning day, and despite the piles of rubble and dirt, it was a lovely preview of how we hope to spend summer afternoons for years to come.

Stubbies optional...

Stubbies optional…

We brought beer, sausages, steak and salad.  Reinforcements were sent out for more beer when it became clear that I had vastly underestimated Manly Beverage Consumption.  It also appears I had vastly overestimated Manly Green Stuff Consumption, and will now be eating salad for the next week.

We also came to a decision today after months of dithering, and ordered a ceiling fan for the main area.


From the very aptly named Big Ass Fans, the Isis fan is supposed to be more efficient than 9 regular sized fans, but works at a slow speed – so it shouldn’t actually lift the roof off.

Or should we just have gone with nine of these?

Or should we just have gone with nine of these?

All our research showed that this should be the best option to keep hot air from pooling at the top of the barrel ceiling, and move it back down to the lower living areas.     We made the call tonight, and hopefully our fan will be on a boat to NZ by the end of the year.

Also pretty much sorted this week, after further months of dithering: the lighting plan!  Who knew lights could be so complicated?  Turns out there are all these rules and regulations about halogens and LEDs and IC and IP rated.    It’s worse than speaking plumberese!  And to make matters worse, we have an electrician and a lighting designer, both of whom talk to me, and expect me to interpret, understand,  reach a decision, and (here’s the kicker) pass on that information accurately to the other person.

Do they not understand that lately I have difficulty interpreting and understanding the label on an ice cream carton and deciding if I want chocolate or strawberry?


Lighting manufacturers need to come up with an electrical version of Neopolitan ice cream for the terminally indecisive.