Blackcurrant Harvest

some of the jars of jam

some of the jars of jam

New Year’s Eve and we are nearing the end of the blackcurrant harvest… over 20 jars of blackcurrant jam (Anne has a liking/fetish for b/c jam!), 3.5kg of frozen b/cs and 7 jars of blackcurrant relish and we still have a quarter of the crop to go… they are wonderful this year, many of the currants are larger than usual.  Search the site for the awesome blackcurrant relish recipe (posted last year) – an amazing taste on crackers and cheese.
We found the 12 ‘agee’ old jam jars on a second-hand junk shop in Leeston earlier this year and couldn’t resist recreating the old-style jam jar look!

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

First night

Totara Valley Arrival

the view out to the north

the view out to the north

Anne and I enjoyed our first night at our Totara Valley home (with permission, but kind of under the radar as the final settlement process is still a few weeks from completion!).
We had an awesome Christmas Day with family and friends here in Christchurch and then in Timaru before spending the late evening sitting outside our ‘church building’ with a warm westerly wind, a near to full moon, and for me, a rather splendid Argentinian Trapiche Malbec (2010).  Anne had her favourite Montana/Brancott Sauvignon Blanc (2012).
There were a few creaks and groans in the three-room shack, as the roof iron adjusted to the night-time drop in temperature, but otherwise, the peace of the countryside made for undisturbed sleep.
There are a range of challenges ahead for us, the weight of which is slowly bearing down… no water, no sewerage (just dig a hole Mart!), no kitchen, and no insulation… but there is electricity!
We are investigating water tanks and rain-water collection devices, chemical toilets (in the meantime), and a range of other kitchen stuff until we get some units and a sink and plumbing…
Then there is fencing (dog and rabbit proof), lawn mowing, tree-felling (a certain number of trees have to go), and all that jazz.
We bought a shower tent and portable solar shower sleeves from the wonderful Kathmandu shop (a great deal), and that with a good-sized portable water tank will suffice for our planned late January three night stay.
All very exciting! 2012-12-26 09.39.26 2012-12-26 09.40.08

Einstein & Theresa on love…

We were talking about love at our churches today – you know, God so loved the world that he gave… and all that stuff.

People contributed thoughts and quotes and here are a couple Anne found that are pertinent to such a theme:
Albert Einstein: “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Mother Theresa: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Totara Valley

Anne and I received confirmation today that our tender for the Totara Valley Church near Cave/Pleasant Point in Sth Canterbury has been accepted!  We are so very thrilled!  It is our Grand Design project – the building in which we plan to make our home at the time of our retirement in about 14 years.  The church was opened in 1894 and has served the community well.  We intend to preserve it as much as possible while creating a home in it in due course.St Paul's Church Totara Valley

In the meantime we will use the rear 3-room Sunday School buildings as our batch/holiday home and slowly develop the land with trees and whatever it takes to enable us to live as simply as we can on the land.  It is 1hr 50min driving distance from Christchurch – perfect for a few nights away and holidays!
It is virtually a bare-land project which suits us just fine.  We have a bed of fruit trees that will be transplanted next winter.
Our Christmas present to each other was bought today as a sign of our ‘Yippee!’ and intentions…

our Christmas gift to each other

look closely to see our Christmas gift to each other

It seems very strange mapping so clearly our future plans – great fun as well!

Christchurch Earthquake Award for St Stephen’s

Earthquake Award for St Stephen's

Earthquake Award for St Stephen’s

Here’s the Christchurch Earthquake Civic Award that I received tonight on behalf of St Stephen’s for their post-earthquake work including the red zone community food voucher fundraiser we established and dispersed with the help of people from St Giles & St Marks.  A big thanks to all those around ChCh, NZ, and overseas who contributed to the project of 15 months ago, and especially the people from the three churches here who walked out the $96,000 donated, most of which was turned into New World Supermarket vouchers which made some people’s lives just a little bit easier.  The evening was at times very moving with a huge variety of individuals and groups receiving awards.  It was great to see a number of MPs and City Councillors along as well, including my colleague Cr Glenn Livingstone.


Gollum in Wellington

I sloped off mid-morning to indulge in a sit in the dark for the first installment of The Hobbit.  It was wonderful in a Lord of the Rings type of way.  The similarities in story and style are understandable – same author (Tolkien), same film-maker (Peter Jackson and crew), same country (NZ looking wonderful though often foreboding), same music sometimes as well.
But well done it is and I am committed to seeing the trilogy through.
Highlights: Gollum – what a treasure of torn and tortured humanity he is; Martin Short Freeman as Bilbo – inspirational and adds some depth and humility that Elijah Wood’s Frodo never managed in LTR; NZ – rich landscapes and wonderful cinematography as we expect; Peter Jackson – nice touches – the movement of moths in and out of the sleeping dwarf were just what we like about you; Barry Humphries in his best role yet; Neil Finn’s closing track – superb as always; and a few scenes in particular – dwarves on a spit, some wonderful flight sequences, and the assortment of horrible monsters that lurk beneath… nice!

tea tonight

DSC_0801Sometimes an ordinary meal is extraordinary – steak on bbq, new potatoes from the garden, peas (baby ones) and these carrots – the first of the thinnings – carrots at their best.  A nice Sauvignon for the woman and Shiraz for the man and life is sweet!