Monday, November 30, 2009

New House - Week 3

The house is still coming along in leaps and bounds. Brian from G J Gardeners is sending me weekly updates and photos which makes it really exciting.

As you can see the frame is well and truly up...

This is the garage...

The Fascia is now on...

Looking Good!!!...

That's the family room, dining, kitchen, and the bit that juts out is my room...

Building paper is now on.. (Gee the weather doesn't look good!! - I thought it didn't rain in Blenheim!! I've been duped!)

Here's the front door - and the window on the left is the guest bedroom... guests get that room as there's a view over the vineyard!

All it needs is the roof and I could move in....

Not long now :)

Jusst as I finished putting these up, I got an email from Fred Parry, member of the Camera Club in Marlborough who sent me a few more photos of the house. He told me there was not much action today on the house as the weather was not good...

This one gives an idea of my views....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My New House - Week 2

I'll be living here in no time! No time at all!

After my neighbour sent me the photo (last one in the previous blog entry), I got another two from G J Gardner's - the people who are building my house. They gave me the ones of my slab being down...

And another angle..

Then on Tuesday I got an email from my neighbour, and fellow photographer Fred Parry, upping my excitement 20x by telling me the frame was up, and it seemed to be up in just a couple of hours...

Note there's a big red C on the frame - that must be C for Carter :)

Today, just two days later, my friend Carol drove past and took some photos, emailed them to me saying...

'Here's some photo's of your house - another crappy day in Blenheim...'

and another view..

As I said before - I'll be moving in pretty soon :)

Today I shopped around for curtain fabric for the house and have settled on some shot taffeta for the living areas and for my bedroom.

I also dropped my cat off at the airport, and she is now ensconced in a Blenheim cattery for 4 months. Saying goodbye to her at the airport was just as bad as saying goodbye to my daughter when she left for London. I felt like a neurotic cat woman bawling my eyes out at the national cargo counter. At least I'll see my cat again soon :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My New House - Week 1

My house is progressing.... From the blog I wrote on the 5th November, the day it started. I went back the next day on Friday, and was disappointed nothing more had happened. Naturally over the weekend they didn't work either, but was pleased to find on Monday afternoon (9th November) more work had been done in the form of deliveries to the site....

Then on Tuesday morning, I went back to the site for the last time before heading back to Auckland. I was pleased to see some action...

Notice the sunny sky was back too...

While I was down in Blenheim this time, I once again visited the A&P show like I did the year before. Last year I was impressed with a photographic competition displayed in the show by Junior, Intermediate and Senior school children, so I went in to look again this year. While there, I suddeny noticed a group of people with cameras taking lots of photos. So I had to ask - were they the Marlborough Camera Club? They were, and so I introduced myself and paid my subs immediately for next year, and so I can get email information for the competitions in the meantime.

They asked for my address and details, and I gave my Renwick address.

Today I got the following email and attachment in my inbox.

Hi Robyn, looks as though they were pouring the footings today.


Attached was the following photo...

I was thrilled to receive it and very thankful - Thanks Fred :) Great photo too, makes the mountain ranges look really close, and just look at the sheep LOL

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Robyn Carter - In Concert!

I have been partaking in some Cochlear Implant research in conjunction with Auckland University. The research is being done to find out if people with Cochlear Implants can learn to sing in tune. So far I've had two singing lessons and I'm really enjoying it.

I have been encouraged by the researcher, that I can sing in tune, and that I have a good quality voice for someone who hasn't done any formal training. I have been given tips to increase my range and to practise to learn to sing in tune. I do need a keyboard so I can practise singing the notes back, but as yet haven't been able to find one.

Anyway - down on the farm, in the middle of nowhere, I found I had a very very appreciative audience, so last night, I gave this appreciative audience a concert - and this is the result....

They heard me.....

So they came closer - they must have liked the sound...

Some were rude at first - turning their backs. They obviously didn't like the song.

So I changed song to something more cheerful and jaunty and wow - I had their attention...

Just to show you I had the whole herd in my hand, hearing me sing....

I could get used to this - I must ask for some moolah next time. Looks like I had a standing ovation too....


Encore.... Encore....

I might go on tour!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Farm

I'm staying down on the farm in Blenheim, way down in Waihopai Valley, near the spy station. It's a stunning time to be here because of all the spring growth. Everything is so green and blue, and the air is so fresh compared to Auckland. I've been out taking a few photos in the late afternoon.

This is one of the many Macrocarpa trees found throughout New Zealand, particularly on farms for shelters for stock. I used to hate them because they looked so 'untidy'. But now I love them on our landscape as they grow so big and majestic. None of them ever look exactly the same. They are a cypress (Monterey Cypress) introduced from Monterey, California, probably in the 1860's in one of the gold rushes.

Here's another two... (or is that three?)

The farm I'm staying on goes for miles and miles down the valley. It's huge, and apparently worth 12 million dollars. It's for sale if anyone wants to spend that kind of money. Land prices down here are at a premium because of all the grapes - real vineyard country. If you do decide to buy it, please let me know so I can claim the commission on the sale. a 3% commission would do me quite nicely!

You can see the grass tracks we made on our drive over to this spot. The car tracks, one mini motorcycle track and one border collie dog track!

This is looking over to the Richmond Ranges in the background. The row of trees is where the main road is, and the those trees are Australian Bluegums. Makes me feel like I'm in Australia rather than New Zealand when I see those lining the road. No Galahs or Koalas though.

While I'm sitting here writing this, I can hear a Song Thrush repeating her song over and and over again, a cicada in the distance, Carol rattling around in the kitchen, the odd Brk from the chooks, but other than that, it's silent. No cars, no trucks. Just blissful peace and quiet.

Oh - and I hope you notice those blue blue skies!!! Auckland eat your heart out!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My House Started Today :)

Yep - that's right. Driving from the farm up towards Renwick, I noticed some 'dust' billowing in the air and I said - Hmmmmm I think my house has started. So Carol drove me up to my section and sure enough... This is what I found...

Yep - a digger on the lot, digging out the shape of my floor plan. Just take a look at that blue sky though. I hear it RAINED in Auckland today!! It was hot down here, and sunny, and beautiful - as it always is!

Here's that digger again - it's working on my bedroom. You can see the spring growth on the vineyard in the distance.

I jokingly said the guys - 'I thought the roof would be on by now'. They told me it arrives tomorrow!!!! (I don't think so!)

We drove back late afternoon to find the guys had stopped working! I wish they could work day and night so I could get in the house faster! Looks like the concrete slab might go down tomorrow from this photo....

Ohhhh I'm getting excited now, especially seeing I picked out all the colours yesterday. I'll reveal those as they come to hand during the build.

Honesty Rules in Blenheim

I'm so pleased I'm moving to Blenheim. Its such an honest place.

As I got out of the Landrover today at the library, I didn't notice that my cellphone fell out onto the pavement. Being deaf, I don't usually hear things that drop, even with my cochlear implant.

Anyway, Carol and I browsed at the Blenheim Library for half an hour and just as I was leaving, I realised my cellphone was missing. Panic. Looked through my handbag. Went to all the places I had been in the library (and in the process found Carol's handbag that she had left behind!!!)

Mentioned it to the library staff, and they were wonderful. They rang my cellphone number for me and listened to see if it rang in the library. Someone answered it, then hung up quickly. With a sinking heart I thought it had been stolen as someone had answered, and thought of all my contacts in the phone, lost!

We thought we had better cancel it, as otherwise someone could make lots of phone calls on it, and rack up a big bill, but just before I did that at the library, I thought I should go back out to the Landrover and double check I hadn't left it in there.

That person who answered the phone, whoever it was, is the most honest person in New Zealand, they just stuck my phone in the door of the landrover on the outside for us to find it.

I couldn't but think that in Auckland, the phone would have been long gone!!

So - if the person in Blenheim ever reads this, who did this for me - I want them to know that I think they are wonderful, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

6 months post switch-on - Cochlear Implant Review

It's now been six months since I was switched on with my third Cochlear Implant. Things are finally starting to go back to what I was used to with my first one, which worked well for 15 years before failing.

My results this time were this..

HINT (open set) Sentences at 3 months: 100%
HINT (open set) Sentences at 6 months: 98%

In background noise +10db SNR at 3 months: 92%
In Background noise +10db SNR at 6 months: 96%

In background noise +5db SNR at 3 months: 24%
In background noise +5db SNR at 6 months: 47%

CNC Words Alone at 3 months: 63%
CNC Words Alone at 6 months: 65%

CNC Words Alone Phonemes at 3 months: 82%
CNC Words Alone Phonemes at 6 moths: 83%

pretty much the same, except a big improvement in background noise, although at one month post switch on that 47% was actually 86% so for some reason I did better back at one month.

I have been practising a lot though. I've been getting audio books out from the library and listening to them - about two per month. At first I needed the book to follow along, but now I don't need that and can just listen to the book while working on photographs. I have to keep listening though, as it's so easy sometimes for my attention to wander and then I get totally lost and have to go back.

I've also bought and borrowed CD's of New Zealand Birdsong. I've been listening to those and relearning the sounds. I used to know them all with my original implant, and they're slowly coming back to me. It has paid off as I was out walking in the country on Saturday and I recognised the bellbirds. So I was thrilled.

I'm finally doing better with the TV as well. I can understand some without text and without the TV cable. With the TV Cable I can follow a TV program well without captions. Still - it's hard work - something to do with the way sound is compressed for the TV. I much prefer captions, but not everything is captioned here in New Zealand, and my last house sitting job had a TV with no captioning ability. In some ways that was good as I was then forced to use and listen without them, and I think that went some way in improving it.

Practise makes perfect.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vintage Camera #1

I was given 3 vintage cameras last week. They had been sitting in my mother's wardrobe for nearly 40 years. Having sold her house the time had come to purge things she didn't need and I bagged the cameras. My interest in them is purely to do with my interest in all things photographic, however my mother had approached an auction house earlier to see if she could get some money for them, and was told they were worthless.

I have to disagree. They aren't worthless to me, and in researching them, I've found one of them to be very rare and worth quite a lot of money. However, I'm still not interested in selling - I love them for their historic value. Who knows, this may be the start of my vintage camera museum!

I've managed to find out quite a bit about two of the cameras, but this one, the oldest one has me scratching my head to it's make and year.

It looks very similar to the Wirgin 1935 Auta - but when it's opened up, there are marked differences..

You can look at the photo of a Wirgin Auta here

You'll see the body and straps and the same - it's just the lens that is quite different.

As you can see the shutter is a pronto made by the Gauthier company which was was founded in 1902 and started building shutters from 1904. Carl Zeiss who already had a stake in this company as in Compur took over the majority in 1932 - the end of competition in the shutter production in Germany . In 1957 over 3.000 workers produced up to 10.000 shutters daily and from 1970 Gauthier even took over the production of Compur shutters. More on the AGC shutters can be found here

This is the back of it.

The camera is in good working condition and I am going to try and source some film and try it out in the coming weeks.

I'm really interested in finding out what year this camera is and what it actually is. If anyone can help me it would be very much appreciated. I suspect it's circa 1935 through to 1945.

I knew there was a reason...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


While I'm housesitting, I do not have wireless broadband, in fact, at present I only have dial up. Very painful.

Which is why I'm sitting at Takapuna library using their broadband wireless system and catching up on blogs, and emails etc.. I'm at a window overlooking Takapuna Beach watching stormy weather blow over turning the sea green then blue, then gray, then blue again. The sea isn't calm, but it's not rough either.

I've been sitting here imagining what a Tsunami would be like as I'm looking out the window towards South America! I was at the museum on Sunday and learnt about a tsunammi in Japan that was 37 metres high that killed a lot of people a long time ago. I imagine that 37 metres high would wipe me out from my vantage point here.

Then my friend Lia messaged me from MSN...

'Did you hear about Samoa?'

'No' I said. 'I haven't had a chance to read the paper or look at the news yet.'

'8.3 earthquake, 100 people killed, Tsunami on Samoa and Tonga, and warnings throughout the Pacific.'


I logged onto immediately to our TVNZ website

I look at Samoa - devastated by this and really feel for them.

Then I read about small waves reaching our coastlines, and police asking people to leave Takapuna beach with the civil defence warning still in place...

'Coastal tsunami monitors in the North and South Island have recorded waves three or four times larger than normal.

Civil Defence says there is still potential for waves up to one metre across New Zealand for the remainder of Wednesday. People are being warned to avoid the beaches and any activities on or in the water.

"There is still an ongoing threat of strong currents affecting coastal areas. People should remain clear of beaches and refrain from boating activities,"

I haven't seen anything untoward while I've been sitting here. However, I think I'll leave now and go and find somewhere inland to have some lunch and get on with my day. Besides - I've added 3 blogposts to my blog today and don't want to bore you for a while!

Booklist - My first 50 Books since 1 March, 2009

Books I've read sice 1st March, 2009... I'm using a rating of 1 to 10, where 1 is bad and 10 is great!

1. Marley and Me by John Grogan - Non Fiction
My rating - 10

2. Don't Postpone Joy by Peter Taylor - Autobiography
My Rating - 10

3. Dreaming of Jupitor by Ted Simon - Armchair Travel
My Rating - 7

4. Still Missing by Scott Bainbridge - NZ Crime
My Rating - 7

5. Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child - Fiction
My Rating - 8

6. Accusation - A Wife's Story - NZ Crime
My Rating - 10

7. Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner - Autobiography
My Rating - 8

8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - Fiction
My Rating - 10

9. Zone 22 by Tig Hague - Autobiography
My Rating - 10

10.My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picault - Fiction
My Rating - 10

11.Heart Full of Lies by Ann Rule - True Crime
My Rating - 7

12. Getting away with Murder: The Jennifer Beard Enquiry by Mark Price
NZ Crime - My Rating - 5

13. A Rip in Heaven: A Memoir of Murder and its Aftermath by Jeannine Cummings
True Crime - My Rating - 10

14. The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time by Mark Haddon - Fiction
My Rating - 10

15. Look me in the Eye: My life with Aspergers by John Elder Robison
Autobiography - My Rating - 10

16. Salem Falls by Jodi Picault - Fiction
My Rating - 8

17. Run for you Lives by James Patterson - Fiction
My Rating - 10

18. Daddy's Little Earner by Maria Landon - Autobiography
My Rating - 10

19. The Secret Life of bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Fiction
My Rating - 10

20. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor - Autobiography
My Rating - 10

21. Debunked by Richard Roeper - Non Fiction
My Rating - 8

22. The Whole Truth by David Baldacci - Fiction
My Rating - 10

23. Persuader by Lee Child - Fiction
My Rating - 10

24. Gone tomorrow by Lee Child - Fiction
My Rating - 10

25. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Bryne - Fiction
My Rating - 8

26. Broken by Shy Keenan - Autobiography
My Rating - 10

27. Under Two Dictators - Stalin and Hitler by Margarete Buber-Neumann
Autobiography - My Rating - 10

28. Twilight by Stephanie Mayer - Fiction
My Rating - 10

29. Missing by Susan Lewis - Fiction
My Rating - 8

30, Agatha Christie Reader volume 3 by Agatha Christie
Audio CD - My Rating - 8

31. Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray - Fiction
My Rating - 10

3. The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan - Fiction
My Rating - 7

33. Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon - Fiction
My Rating - 7

34. What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman - Fiction
My Rating - 10

35. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen - Fiction
My Rating - 10

36. Beyond Ugly by Constance Briscoe - Autobiography
My Rating - 8

37. Dewey - The small town Library Cat by Vicky Myron - Non Fiction
My Rating - 10 (But I like cats)

38. Escape by Carolyn Jessop - Autobiography
My Rating - 10plus - wow!

39. Torn Apart by James Patterson and Hal Friedman - Non Fiction
My Rating - 10

40. What is the What? by Dave Eggers - Autobiography
My Rating - 8

41. Monsoon Rains and Icicle Drops by Libby Southwell - Armchair Travel
My rating - 10

42. The Secret River by Kate Grenville - Historical Fiction
My Rating - 7

43. Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler - Fiction
My Rating - 9

44. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown - Fiction
My Rating - 7

45. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott - Autobiography
My Rating - 9

46, New Moon by Stephanie Mayer - Fiction
My Rating - 10

47. Narrow Dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington - Armchair Travel
My Rating - 4 ( he way it was written and English used was terrible!)

48, The Lost Boys by Brent W Jeffs - Autobiography
My Rating - 10

49. The Caller by Alex Barclay - Fiction - Thriller
My Rating - 10 Audio Book - 8 CD's

50. The Covenent of Genesis by Andy McDermott - Fiction - Action
My Rating - 10

(I'll put my next lot of 50 books up in 6 months :) )


I've always read a lot. And somehow, I learnt to speed read. This was apparent when I was about 11 years old and read the Lord of the Rings in one weekend. That was the whole three books. I didn't do much else though!

My love of reading has never waned. I love the smell of new paperbacks, and I used to buy all my books. However, I can no longer do that as the price of books here in New Zealand has become prohibitive. Between $25 and $35 for a paperback. Some sort of tax I believe that the government receives, which I think is terrible. Books are educational and should not attract any government tax whatsoever.

I recently rejoined my local library, and have a system which is great. I go to the books stores with a pen and paper. Browse in the sections in Borders that I love. Write down the books and authors that I wish to read. Then go home and log into my library website and order the books online. They email me to tell me they are ready to pick up, and when I pick those up, any books that aren't in the library system, I put in an order for them to buy them, and they then also go onto my library list and I get to be the first person to read them when they come in. Not a bad system.

I recently started a book list and I want to read 1000 books in 5 years. I started 1st March, 2009. Today I finished my first 50 books so I'm well on the way.

Reading is not that easy for me now. Both my balance nerves have been destroyed and now I deal with a condition called Oscillopsia. Basically, when I move, everything moves with me. Much like watching the world through a digital camera with no image stabiliser. If I concentrate too hard while everything is moving, I get 'seasick'. Sometimes quite rapidly. I cannot watch car racing or any 'moving' computer games for this reason. If I do, the seasickness will happen within about 15 to 30 seconds, and I will be sick for about 12 hours. Very much not worth it.

If I try to read while moving, the letters jump off the page - it's impossible. So to read a book, I have to prop my head in a certain way and make it immobile for the duration of reading. The best place is in bed with my head immobilised on a pillow. Like any disability, you learn to deal with it, and live with it, and work out ways to get round it. There are still lots of things I can't do, but reading was not one that I was going to give up.

Now that my house is sold, and I'm waiting for my new house to start building, I have quite a lot of time on my hands so am reading much more than usual. However, some of my reading is audio books - I'm teaching myself to listen with the implant. Initially I had to have the book with me to help me follow, but I'm now able to follow a whole book without the need for written material. That's a real improvement!

I'll sign off here for now, but will post up the first 50 books I've read in the next blog shortly...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Word Mispronunciations!

I've always done it. Right from when I was young. I still do it now. Mispronounce words. You know as soon as the word has left your mouth, and people look at you with that strange look on their face, that you committed that terrible sin of not saying a word properly.

You get mixed reactions. It could be....

The rolled eyes. Those are the worse. It's confirmation that not only do people think you might be stupid, they now know you are.

Or you get the blank stare. The 'Is this for real' look' Same explanation as above.

Then you might get derisive laughter. These are the people who not only know you're stupid, but now want everyone else around you to know as well.

I read a lot. I always have. Just to give an indication of how much I read - I have read 14 books in the last 14 days. I don't usually read that much, but I'm on a roll at the moment. What this means is I learn a lot of words, and their context, but I might not have actually 'heard' them before. Then I might decide to use the word, often with disastrous results. I should really learn to use the KISS approach!

Anyway - not all mispronunciations are embarrassing. Particularly when you're with good friends. I was telling my friend how I've just read this amazing book. It was called Escape, by Carolyn Jessop. It was about a splinter mormon group who practised Polly Gammy (polygamy) and how she escaped from the cult wtih her six children. As soon as I said pollygammy, I knew I had committed that dreadful sin of mispronunciation.

Fortunately my friend laughed then explained how to say it. Then she said gammy was a leg with a limp. I then explained that's right the book was about people with multiple legs, all with limps! Our imagination went wild and we had a big laugh about it.

I wish all people would treat mispronunciations this way. It's much more fun and can be downright hilarious.

Oh yes - the book is a great read - I fully recommend it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Audio Visual - My Very First - On You Tube!

I attended our North Shore Photographic Society's monthly workshop last week. It was on a subject that I've been interested in for a while, and one that I have dabbled with in the past, but never gone very far with it.

It was on Audio Visuals, or AVS, another route to go on with your photography, putting themes of images together to music. You can have a theme, or make a story. It seems to be a lot of fun.

Armed with about 10x the knowledge after the last workshop than I had, I rushed home and started searching the web for programs. I decided Pro Show Gold would be the best one so downloaded it and have started playing already.

This is the first slideshow I've done. To edit the music I downloaded a free program called Audacity. You MUST remember that I only hear with a cochlear implant though, so any editing I have done will never be perfect as I can't hear it properly.

Please watch the slideshow - it's 3.50 minutes long, and let me know what you think... All comments will be gratefully received. I won't be changing this one, but will take all critiques into mind for future slideshows.

Here it is..

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Blonde Day

I think I should go back to bed before I do something so dumb that I won't ever be able to show my face again!!

I'm at present housesitting and looking after two cats. One is totally white, the other totally black. It really does look like the Black and White Minstrel show round here at times! Coco and Chai!

This morning when I got up, I went to turn on my laptop, and noticed that the white cat must have slept on the purple sofa all night because she had shed, as only white cats can do, nearly all her fur in this one spot. This meant I couldn't sit down as that would mean I would end up with white fur all over my black trousers. I had to sit in that place though as that's the only place that I can get onto the internet. Any other place means instant disconnection.

This is the same cat that I rescued as a kitten - you can read and see her at my blog... "The White Kitten"

Anyway - I got breakfast out of the way, then went down and got the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed all the white hairs off the sofa. Then I noticed there were white hairs all over my laptop so clever me decided to vacuum my laptop as well. Then I put the vacuum cleaner away, and sat down on the sofa to download my emails and chat to a good friend of mine over skype via text.

All was well and after a lengthy chat I finally noticed that I was missing a key off my laptop. The \ key, no less. Gone. All that was there was a little white square with a piece of rubber that you press to make the \ work. Why it took me an hour to notice this missing I don't know.

Getting it fixed at the computer place is out of question. I would be without my laptop for 3 weeks while they replace the key - definitely not worth it. So - down to the vacuum cleaner, got the bag out of it. It was full. There was nothing to do other than emptying all the dust and dirt into a plastic bag and going through it all to find this little black square. This is dust, hair, rubbish that's not mine - this is someone else's dust and dirt I had to go with through with a fine tooth comb - or rather my hands. Ugh. I did find it - right at the end. Cleaned up, washed the key, and proceeded to place it back on my laptop. My conversation with my friend now went something like this...

me: \\\\\\\\\\ \\ damn
friend (not to be outdone: \/\//\/\/\/\//\/\
me: \\ \\\\\\\ \\\\\ shit
friend: - try alt-92 that will work
me: groan, moan, grumble

I ended up finding my IT friend online and I'm going in to see if he can place the key back on my keyboard so 1). it works and 2). it's not wonky.

While moaning to my friend on skype about how blonde I was, I noticed a button on my laptop I had never seen before. Never - I had never noticed it. I've only had my laptop for 2 years. I'm wondering if buttons can grow overnight??

So I pressed it.

Boom - I was suddenly disconnected from the internet. Yep - it was the wireless button - you know the one with the squiggle that looks like "|" !!

Duh. Double Duh

I reconnected.

Friend: Where did you go?
me: No where
me: Wellllll actually....

I'm actually wondering where my brain is today. I think I should go back to bed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The House Plan for my Section

While I've been living at my mother's place, I've been in talks with G J Gardners in Marlborough over my house plan.

Originally I had hoped to have a particular plan called the Dryden as I loved the angles and way the house was laid out. However, it wasn't quite right for the section due to north facing aspect, and we needed the sun to warm up the place during winter. It's colder down south being closer to the South Pole!

Marlborough happens to be the sunniest place in New Zealand which is fantastic, but we needed to catch that sun.

G J Gardner came up with this plan, and I've only had to make a couple of tweaks to it, but overall I'm really happy with it..

Click on the house plan to enlarge it to see everything clearly.

The changes I made were to the lounge. Originally the door was a double door that opened up into the family room. I moved it to the corner to keep the flow, and to give me maxiumum wall space in the lounge. I'm still trying to decide whether to make that corner door a double door, or just a single.

The only other change I've made is to the main bedroom. I moved the outside wall a bit further out and made a sliding door from my room out to the the 'going to be' patio. I also added a walk in wardrobe next to the ensuite.

So that's it in a nutshell. Feel free to tell me what you think of the plan - it's 180sqm which was part of the covenant of the subdivision.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where Am I?

I've fallen off the internet! Let me tell you the whole story.

It's quite simple - I sold my house. It was a lovely house and I miss it heaps - very sunny and warm, central to most places in Auckland. So central I used to have people popping into see me all the time. I miss that.

My Old House

However, Auckland is expensive and I needed to bring my mortgage down so I can afford to do other things, so the only way to do that was to sell and move out of Auckland. Whilst I will miss my house, I will not miss Auckland's traffic, rush hours, fumes, and crowds.

I have bought a section in Renwick, Blenheim, and am in the process of building a house on it. The section lies alongside a vineyard, so my outlook is a field of grapes, then it looks down the valley towards the Richmond Ranges (mountain range), so it's very beautiful and peaceful.

Here's a pic of my outlook...

The photo was taken in winter, hence the grapevines were brown, but come spring that will all be green and lush.

The subdivision I've bought into is River Terrace, and there has been extensive work on it to make it look really nice. You can see what I mean in the following pic, where you can see the light almost looks like a gaslight..

I'm right next to the vineyard so my view cannot be built out by ay other houses. I'm also close to 6 very good vineyards (2km walking distance), so if you come and stay we can do walking wine tours!

I'm really looking forward to this next stage, although I'm going to miss all my family and friends when I do move down.

I won't be moving for at least another 4 months. I've spent the last 4 weeks at my mother's place, and today I moved out to housesit in Devonport for 2 weeks to mind two cats while the owners are holidaying in Italy.

On the 12th September, I go to St Heliers to housesit another house while the owner is in Britain until 24 October. I then head to Birkenhead to housesit another 2 cats until 20 November. Then I'm homeless!! Actually I may be going out to Pukekohe for a mmonth or two, and my plan is to move to Blenheim February sometime.

In the meantime my beautiful burmese cat is being looked after by my mother at her home, but she's talking about putting her house on the market so that's in the air at this stage!

So - that's where I am and what I'm doing - unfortunately internet access is very patchy so I'll update this blog when I can :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CI 3 month Review - Hearing Like a Bat!

Just been to my three month review. Very little changed, my map is staying very stable which is really nice. After tweaking the high pitched electrodes in a very minor way, I was given did an aided audiogram test. The results of this was amazing. Maybe I'm not Robyn any more, maybe I'm Batman!!! Take a look...

This is pretty amazing as I don't think that at any time in my entire life, have I had as good hearing as this result today. This is like having 'normal' hearing - whatever normal is!!

But before you get really excited about this, remember this is just the test of hearing sound - at what level the sound is coming into the implant. It's not the test of my understanding of sound. Understanding of sound is revealed in the HINT setnence tests and CNC words (single words) test. Unfortunately the equipment wasn't being very well behaved today, so I go back next week for those tests. Watch this space!! Last test I got scores of 98% in the hint sentences and 62% for single words. It will be interesting to see if they have improved over the last month. Anything is possible!

But on the whole - I'm feeling very happy with the results of this. I have my Implant team to thank for the result too. My surgeons - Robert Gunn & Bill Baber, who placed the electrodes so carefully to give me maximum benefit. I'm sure they know the inside of my head there very well by now! My audiologist - Ellen Giles - without her expertise I wouldn't have such a great map. And to Gayle - who teaches me how to listen and hear with it all over again. Without them all I'd still be as deaf as a doorknob!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Akaroa - in the Rain

With the Southerly hemming us in and the weather terrible in Christchurch, there was no real point heading over to Mt Hutt and the Alps as there would simply be nothing to see. However, as I had never been to Akaroa in my life, despite the rain, Liz decided we would go down there as there's a few art galleries to see and some top notch views.

Driving down it was very wet. Water coming off the hills and spilling onto the road, making it quite treacherous. Cattle and Sheep had their own Antarctic 'islands' as they were totally surrrounded in flood water.

We arrived in Cooptown and stopped to look at the gallery. I've tried finding out more about Cooptown before writing this, but there is nothing on the internet at all about it, except in Maori which I can't read. I can tell you though. It was wet. And small. Very small. Blink and eye and you would miss it. So just in case you do miss it, I took a few photos for you..

This was just over the road from the gallery. As you can see it wasn't the brightest day weatherwise. And it was COLD! Freezing in fact.

But this wasn't a deterrent for hardy tourists like myself. And definitely not a deterrent for these hardy southlanders like Liz. They're used to this weather!

Just to let you get the drift of Cooptown a bit more - here's another image of it's most populous residents...

And for those are now enamoured of the place, I found your weekend getaway for sale. Needs a teeny weeny bit of tender care, but could be easily be your next 'do-up' project.. I'm sure the capital gain on it would be through the roof!

It's a cutie really!

Onwards up the hill we come to the top, and the lookout for Akaroa. To mark this spot I took the photo despite the weather...

If it had been a lovely clear sunny day - this is what I would have seen instead...

(Photo taken by another tourist, not me!)

The difference is quite marked don't you think??

At this lookout, there was a hotel, and two old cars were parked outside it. The owners obviously sensibly ensconsed in front of a fire having hot devonshire teas. However the car was interesting, and because of the lack of 'vista' to photograph, I photographed the car instead...

If anyone can tell me what kind of car it is, it would be greatly appreciated. My knowledge of cars doesn't go further than the colour of them! I believe this is the Old Great Yellow Car.

Akaroa in itself was very charming. Old villas and cottages, lighthouses, boatsheds. It's a very historic place. Land ownership passed from Maori into Colonial government in the early 1800's. One of the whalers who put into Akaroa Harbour in the late 1830s was a French captain, Jean Francois Langlois. Langlois returned to France with a land deed signed by some local Maori, believing he had purchased all of Banks Peninsula. The Nanto-Bordelaise Company, with tacit support and assistance from the French Government, decided to found a French settlement on Banks Peninsula. It sent out the Comte de Paris, with close to 60 settlers aboard, in 1840. The settlers were mainly French, but included a handful of Germans.

The French Government also sent out a warship, L’Aube, under Captain Lavaud, to support the settlers. There was a French naval presence in Akaroa Harbour until 1846. By the time the French arrived in Akaroa in August 1840, New Zealand was already British, and the Union Jack was flying from a flag staff on Green’s Point. It had been raised a few days earlier to demonstrate to the French arrivals that the South Island was British. Despite this setback to the plans to establish a French colony on the South Island, the French settlers remained, and their descendants are among the present-day residents of Akaroa.

By the 1850s, after the founding of the Canterbury Settlement and of Christchurch in 1850, the French were outnumbered by settlers of other nationalities, especially British. The small French village of the 1840s, with buildings which had a markedly French look about them, became a typical New Zealand colonial town, with buildings that followed mainly British architectural precedents. But Akaroa has the distinction of being the only town in New Zealand founded by French settlers.

The architecture with the original buildings still havce a french influence. As it was raining, I took the photos from the car...

I could easily live in a cottage like this. Providing it had a fireplace. A big one. And Batts in the attic.

This is the old historic Shipping Office of Akaroa..

It has now been transformed into luxury accommodation, in the form of a two bedroom apartment which you can rent out for $180 a night. It doesn't have a fireplace, but it does boast electric heating. That person under the umbrella is Liz. She had tried to move the wheelie bins away so I could take the photo without them in front. (She's a wonderful photographer's assistant!) But obviously the people who had stayed there last had drunk too much, as they were too heavy to move, so the photo now shows you how Akaroa deals with their rubbish as well!

This next historic building I found is the Coronation Library. Since 1875, residents of Akaroa keen on reading have used this picturesque building as their library. Was built in 1875, and is situated at 103 Rue Jolie. Even the street names are still in French.

I took another image of an old cottage, and have just found out online that this again is quite a historic place in Akaroa. Google is wonderful for that. It's the cottage that Captain Bruce built, an early Scottish settler, he built it for his widowed brother-in-law and his two nieces. It was built in 1856...

One of the oldest surviving houses in Canterbury, the Langlois-Eteveneaux Cottage was built in the early 1840s by Aimable Langlois. He returned to France in 1842.

This is the Fire and Ice building, which was built in 1884, and started life as Akaroa's first Bakery.

By now we decided it was time for lunch, and a quick brisk walk along the waterfront saw us in a cafe offering hot seafood chowder. We couldn't pass that up - it was a perfect day for that food. After lunch we thought this sign would mean a lot to many people..

Back in the car and we drove around the waterfront. I wondered why I saw so many wood pigeons (native pigeons of New Zealand), then realised we were in Pigeon Bay. I'ts not a good photo, but I had everything against me - the light, the rain, the distance it was in the tree..

And then there was the famous lighthouse..

The original Akaroa lighthouse started operation on the precipitous headland of Akaroa Heads on 1 January 1880. One hundred years later, it was moved down to Akaroa Township, after being replaced in 1977 by an automated light. There are now tours of it on request. We didn't request one that day. Too cold!

We did drive down this rickety old road south of Akaroa and I found some old boatsheds...

These apparently do have some historical significance in the area, but I couldn't find out anything about it.

Just before we left Akaroa, we headed into the most delightful art gallery. I saw several pieces of artwork I could have easily bought, for friends and family and myself - but it's the thought that counted isn't it?

But we did spot a quirky piece of art on the side of a building on our way out of town...

I'm not sure what the artist was trying to convey here, because I get the feeling he may be trying to point out that a certain gender likes being on the phone. They'd be wrong though.

Anyway - that was Akaroa - I very much appreciate Liz taking the time to take me to such a spot. And despite the weather, I enjoyed it a lot. I would like to go back one day when the sun is shining though. (Does the sun shine down there?)