Another New Bathroom

This one took a while but I’ve been beavering away for quite a long time now. The original bathroom upstairs was so pathetically small and everything just jammed in badly that nothing about it was redemptive. So we decided to eradicate it completely and started looking at how much space we had up there that we could use. There was this huge (badly) built in wardrobe so we decided to chop half of that away to increase the size we had to work with, we probably got another third again in floor space so it was well worth the effort of knocking down one half of the badly built wardrobe.

What complicated all that was having wiring running through the bit I wanted to remove and right behind the horrible ceiling lining is the roof so that made running the wires for new light a tad difficult. Then there was the plumbing, God, don’t get me started on that. Any sane person would have taken one look at what was involved in this job and moved house instead.

But slowly and surely we got there. To save more space Ali wanted a sliding door that went back into the wall instead of swinging in or out. I got there eventually and learned a lot in the process. If you are thinking of putting in a sliding door, take my advice and don’t!

The shower cabinet “just” fits in the corner. The waste pipes are underneath it and they are well buried in the wall so there is no chance of moving them. When they added the upstairs on this house they really never thought things through at all. But to their favour I guess having an ensuite bathroom must have been a real big deal in 1992, no matter that nothing about it really worked that well. You can clearly see the heated towel rail right in front there but it is higher than either of our heads.

This is the new space that we got back from the wardrobe, that entire corner used to hang clothes.

It never occurred to me that there was a right way to put on the mosaic tiles but it was obvious to Ali that there was and I didn’t get it right. My punishment was to stand there looking at it for 8 hours until I could see the error of my ways!

All I could see was a bloody good job!


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Ali and I are watching TV, well, looking at our iPads and laptop while the telly is on. It is a program about Kawhia, a small settlement on the Kaipara Harbour. It looks interesting so we decide to go there. I book a couple of nights in a motel in Hamilton and from there it is one just over an hour to Kawhia.

Later on I check the long range forecast and there is rain forecast for those days so I move the booking to the weekend when the weather will be clearer

The following weekend we are down in Hamilton and check into the motel in the pouring rain! So much for the long range forecast.

Next morning we get up and head off in the rain. A bit later we go past the huge Mormon temple as the rain fades away.

It is Sunday so there is not much traffic, it is easy driving. We stop here and there to take a few photos.

Looking back

Looking ahead

The further we get from Hamilton the better the weather becomes. We get to the junction where the Kawhia road breaks off from SH39 and we are feeling optimistic about the day.

The road to Kawhia is like so many road that lead to the Kaipara Harbour, windy, sporadic houses, the odd settlement, but all with that feeling that the road is really just passing through, thanks all the same. The whole time the skyline gets a little bigger as slowly you descend towards sea level.

There is still evidence of weather about though

Finally we get to the last turn off

We cruise into Kawhia and we are ready for  some breakfast. We find the only café with decent reviews (the only one open) and head inside. I get chatting with the woman behind the counter and behind her I can see a skinny old woman banging the pans in the kitchen. It is friendly enough. The music coming from the kitchen is all old 60’ and 70’s music and there is something about the old skinny woman so I ask the woman behind that counter, “Is she an old hippy girl?” nodding to the kitchen. “My mum?” she asks then laughs. “Yes”, she says, “she really was”.

Kawhia is old hippy settlement from wayback, which is surprising given that it is pretty much all farming thereabouts. She tells us that most of the hippies are long gone but some stayed on and had kids, kinda settled own a bit. You know how it goes. But I was thinking that no-one sees this now, all you can see are scrawny old women and haggard old men but one time they worked the land bare breasted, swam in the harbour naked as they was, showing their young beautiful bodies in that shameless way that was back then. Now, they laugh at the idea of hippies as they rush off to get breast enhancements and labiaplasty and put gel in their hair. I’m laughing at all this.

Breakfast was poached eggs about as near perfect as you can get. The doors were all open leaving a fair chill to blow through bit it was pleasant all the same.

We wander off along the waterline and follow a track that takes up much further along the harbour until we come to a small beach that has a small holding pond, all in the black sand that marks this side of the harbour.

There is a pakeha guy fishing and a maori woman and three lively kids and they have a very large mullet in the holding pond. We stop and chat. They are friendly as and we gabble away about fishing and life and kids, just like that, no introductions, weather talk just straight in. Good, friendly, open, people with free range kids.

We wandle back to the township as we want to go to the museum where they have a fibreglass replica of the largest ammonite ever found anywhere in the world and it was found here in Kawhia. It is only a small place as you can imagine.

But it is packed full of chatty people.

We have much still to see so we head off, but before we do I get a small container from the car and collect some of this unbelievably black sand. It is very heavy.

We grid drive the township seeing a house with “$90,000” painted large on the fence and many other houses for sale. Before we left we checked the prices and you can still get a 3 bed house down here for $250K to $350K, there are still bargains to be had here. BUT, there is nothing here but scenery, majesty and wonder in giant gollops, no work but.

We drive over to the hot water beach but the rain falls and it is so heavy I have to slow right down until we are just crawling through the deluge. We turn round and head back.

Bidding farewell to Kawhia we drive back to Hamilton, stopping for coffee on the Waikato Expressway services which is like a brief trip back to the 80’s on a wet day. But if you drive just over to the edge of the potholed and littered car park you will find yourself standing on the bank of the mighty Waikato river like an impossibly large brown snake gliding past.


When I get home I dry out the tin of black sand that I brought with me. It is very fine. I put it in a small bowl and hold a strong magnet underneath and swirl the sand around. It immediately sticks where the magnet is and after swirling as I gradually move the bowl upwards. All that is left free flowing are just a few specks of fine sand. I reckon that the the black sand is around 99% iron.

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The First Statement is an Obvious Distancing Lie

I’ve just seen this article:

In short, it is about a Belgian university that sent out an email asking that women wear low-cut tops to their graduation ceremony. It then details some of the outrage on social media. It ends with this statement from the faculty:

It goes without saying that the instructions related to the clothing of young graduates are contrary to the values of the ULB and this faculty,

We see statements like this all the time, here’s another from a Wellington school mired in a rape culture controversy:

As we have said consistently, what has happened is deplorable, appalling and not part of our school’s values

The other one yesterday about St Paul’s exclusive rich kids college in OZ :

St Paul’s College does not tolerate unacceptable or offensive behaviour and comments, and takes these matters very seriously

Here’s another:

A HOUSING New Zealand tenant, burgled twice in the space of a week, has been refused security doors and locks in his home because they are deemed a fire hazard. A Housing NZ spokesperson said it took the safety and security of tenants very seriously and would not install any housing component which could present a safety risk.

Do you remember the dog that was shot at Auckland Airport when it ran away from its handler and was on the runways?

“The safety of the dog and people on the ground and in the air were paramount in the decision-making”, an spokesperson for the airport added. Read those first five words, “The safety of the dog” everything after that makes sense but those five words?

It’s like when you are on the phone to Vodafone, 2 Degrees, Mercury Energy, IRD or any one of countless others and you are waiting for someone to answer your call and an annoying voice comes on the line that says something like:

we take customer satisfaction seriously and someone will take your call shortly” except it seldom is shortly or “we value your custom” but at those moments do you feel like your custom is valued or your satisfaction is being taken seriously or more likely that they are taking the piss?

I am curious about these statements that fly in the face of the facts. To me it seems like they are denying the event and distancing themselves when they are obviously responsible.

Do they have a name?

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Dog Shit On A Wall

When I lived in Holland I used to see dog shit on walls. It was like a dog had backed itself against the wall then shit while moving slowly away. I never once witnessed the shitting taking place but I admired it none the less.

A bit more recently I was telling a group of people about this and they expressed complete disbelief. I was gobsmacked. As a rule I do not tell lies. But more than that, of all the things a person could lie about, why on earth would anyone lie about something like dog shit??

Anyway, I knew that eventually I’d be vindicated and finally I found this:

I have forgotten who they were but read this and weep.


I also found this:

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The Long Way Home

Before I left Birdlings Flat I took a souvenir.

It was in my bedroom for a few months before I left and it’s been in my bedroom since I got here. Finally, It has a place of its own.

The fact that it’s pointing North instead of South initially had me feeling a bit uneasy until I realised that even though Birdlings Flat is due South but if you head off North you will definitely get there, it just takes longer.

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See How They Run

Normally at this time of year when the weather turns from Summer to Winter, I get a mouse in the house. This year was different. One night Ali and I were sitting there and suddenly we see a mouse run across the floor, I said to her that I would put the trap out tomorrow. Which I did and sure enough within a few minutes it went off. One dead.

The next day, once again we are sitting there and we see a mouse run across the floor, then we see another, then another and another. It was like a bloody nursery rhyme.

More traps then clap, clap, clap, clap, clap!

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This one of those chapters from history where everyone is long dead and buried, the dust has blown over their graves and their dreams have long faded. All that remains is an insignificant monument in an out of the way place on a road that doesn’t go anywhere. This is Albertland.

An Englishman who saw the success of the Scots Presbyterian settlers in Dunedin followed by the success of the English Anglican settlers in Christchurch decided that there must also be a place in the sunshine for the Non-Conformist believers so he issued a rallying cry for subscribers to a block of land to be called Albertland (after Victoria’s late husband). He got over 3000 keens souls signing up on the promise of 40 acres for every adult and 20 acres for every child. So a family of 2 adults and 2 children could expect 120 acres for free. Verdant pastures on a natural deep water harbour where the ships could dock right by their piece of paradise.

The plan was for all 3000 to arrive in the new cosmopolitan city of Auckland over a period of time and then they would march triumphantly carrying banners proclaiming God’s Word as they marched towards their verdant pastures along The Great North Road which was being built by the newly founded government based  in Auckland, leading to their place in paradise nestled on the magnificent Kaipara Harbour.


Auckland was a horseshit infested bog or dustbowl depending on the day. There was no Great North Road and there were no verdant pastures. Most of the first 1000 to arrive, on hearing, this decided to stay in Auckland where there were plenty of jobs. The few hardy souls that still wanted to venture forth were thwarted by the lack of any way to get to their allocated land on the Kaipara. The beautiful, natural, deep water, harbour turned out to be shallow and guarded by the most dangerous bar anyone had ever come across (remember it claimed those fishermen just a few months ago when their boat capsized on the very bar).

Some hardy souls actually walked it. One woman with three children did it by carrying one for 20 yards then put it down and went back for the next and so on until all three were together whence she would begin all over again by carrying the fist child 20 yards. And then for those that did eventually make it they had no idea how to grow crops. They were saved by the local Maori who patiently showed them all they needed to know. Eventually it all proved too much and only three families remained.

That was Albertland.

The jetty only arrived much later in the piece:


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