30 January 2015

A rush of blood to the head... the slightly embarrassing story of how we bought and sold a pool in a day!

Not every idea turns out to be a good idea.

Mark and I consider ourselves to be fairly measured and considered in most of the decisions we make in daily life. We aren't prone to rash purchases and usually put in a fair amount of research and thought before making long-term purchases.

That's why it turned out to be completely counter intuitive and crazy that we bought a pool and then sold it again almost within a day!

Here's how it happened:

We'd been looking at paddling pools online and Mark liked the look of this one...

Then the boys went and stayed the night at our friend's house - their neighbour had just bought a slightly bigger pool than this and it got us thinking that actually we might be able to fit in a bigger pool in our somewhat small back yard.

When we got home out came the measuring tape and we figured that we could fit in a bigger 10 foot metal frame pool that was about 76 cm tall on our concreted outdoor area. After ringing around a bajillion stores it turned out that the only store that had them in the greater Wellington region was Bunnings in Lyall Bay so off went the two boys (Mark and Mylo) to get one whilst Noah and I went off on a hike in the local bush.

Much excitement ensued on their return as we set about building the pool - and then cue a dash for me down to the local Mitre 10 to buy a tarpaulin to lay down first as the liner at the bottom of the pool wasn't as thick was we'd expected and we didn't want it tearing on the rough aggregate concrete we have outside.

By the time I got home, the pool was basically built and ready to fill. So in went the hose and we started the slow (2.5 hour process) of filling it up with 4,000 litres of water. We also wanted to figure out how often we should run the pool filter (cue looking online and mathematical calculations from me based on the litres of water and the filter rate (how many litres it would filter per hour). With this knowledge we would be set!

Noah was terribly excited about the whole process - he'd said to us when we'd made the decision to buy the pool that 'this is my dream come true' and so he couldn't help showing off our new addition to all the kids in the neighbourhood while it was still filling up.

We sat down to dinner with Mark and Noah calculating the pool should be ready for a swim straight afterward.

It was then that it all turned a bit pear shaped.

I'm not sure what made me do it - but a sudden thought after seeing the kids go out the back gate and leave it open after looking at the pool made me suddenly think to check the NZ pool fencing laws. I'm not entirely sure why this thought hadn't occurred to us earlier but quite obviously it didn't!

And.....uh oh.

It turns out that even though our entire property is fenced that the pool area itself would need to be fully fenced without any other part of the back yard inside it and as it took up the entire patio space this was not an option. Even if we moved it to the grass (less sunny) and erected another fence on the grass this wouldn't suffice as the trampoline would still be in the same area as the pool.

Reality sunk in and it hurt. Noah and Mark in particular were absolutely GUTTED when they realised there was no way we could keep the pool.

And in fact even if we'd bought that smaller silly looking paddling pool up above would also have needed a fence would you believe - the NZ law states that any pool structure over 40 cm needs its own fence whether it's a swimming pool, paddling pool or spa pool. So something to bear in mind if you are thinking of buying a paddling pool or spa pool anytime soon - or if you in fact already have one! You can be fined $500 plus $50 for every day your pool is non-compliant - in our opinion it was not worth the risk!

Not that you probably care too much but all the information on pool fencing is here: NZ Pool Fencing Laws. I know friends who do have pools in their backyards that aren't fenced and that's because they have a big enough space to have a pool that's at least 1.2m high and has a removable ladder (and then it doesn't HAVE to be fenced) so is essentially self-fenced.

The boys decided that they might as well have one swim (since the pool was completely full by then) and then Mark spent the entire night emptying the pool while I tried to dry off all the bits to then sell it on Trade Me. What an expensive swim that turned out to be! And don't get me started on how bad I felt about wasting 4,000 litres of water in one day.....sigh.

Luckily in the end we managed to sell the pool for an OK price (we did lose out on about $40 plus the cost of the massive tarpaulin which we also no longer needed - another $45).

As a bit of an apology to the boys after dashing their hopes, we bought a slip n slide to go in the garden - it's not quite the same as having your own pool I'll admit but it's better than nothing, and we've also been putting the sprinkler under the trampoline most days while the boys and various neighbours' kids come over and jump and slip all over the place whilst shrieking at their top of their lungs!

We also bought body boards for the boys so they can make the most of any trips to the beach we make this year!

And we've also booked tickets to the Monster Slide that's coming to Wellington on Saturday 28 Feb - a giant 300m long water slide that's going to be down on the water front - how fun does this look - riding a waterslide that's the length of 3 rugby fields! It's going to other spots around the country like Christchurch, Nelson, Dunedin, Auckland and New Plymouth as well during February - so if that sounds like something fun for your family, you should definitely check out ticket options on the Monster Slide site.

So while it was a bit of a shame that we didn't get to keep the pool, we are still making sure we get plenty of water sport action during this glorious summer!

28 January 2015

January has been good for.....

It's a proven fact that January provides a blissful amount great of down-time from the normal busy school and family routines we find ourselves in during the year.  So we've taken advantage of this time to do things we just haven't had the time or inclination to before now. Things like:

1. Water blasting the property

Poor Mark was outside for 9 hours straight water blasting the whole of our property over the long anniversary weekend. It looks great but it was a labour of love - we hadn't water blasted for four years and had never done the driveway in the eight years we've lived here so it was a BIG job. Good job done though - it looks amazing.




2. Out with the old

Whilst Mark did the water blasting, I finally got the motivation to clear out all the baby clothes from our attic - there were boxes and boxes and boxes of the stuff - they were somewhat organised into age but a lot of stuff had been thrown back in there after lending it to another friend and so I had to painstakingly go through about 15 boxes of clothes sorting into ages, putting some stuff aside to take to the Salvation Army and then cataloguing and photographing everything else to go on Trade Me as well as determining what size box they would fit in to give accurate shipping costs.

This was also a massive job and took me most of the long weekend. It felt good to be able to see the floor again in the attic and I'd challenged myself to do it in order to put the proceeds towards some more photography equipment I want to get but didn't feel I should just fork out for it without some kind of sacrifice!

3. What's been on the box

Since we got back from our Christmas break we've also had lots of spare evenings to catch up on things like the latest series of Homeland (12 episodes), Derek (6 episodes), A Place to Call Home (10 episodes), the Christmas specials of Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey as well as I've lost count of how many Modern Family episodes (halfway through Season 4 at the moment). I do so love being able to watch a series in one go rather than having to wait week by week as each episode airs - I wonder what that says about me? Impatient I'm guessing!

Broadchurch has just started back on TV as well - which makes for pretty compelling watching and we are hoping to watch the Boyhood movie too - has anyone seen this - it's up for loads of Oscars and it completely passed us by when it came out last year? I don't remember seeing any hype about it at all.

4. Saving pennies and going some extra miles

With the two boys at holiday programme for four weeks straight - this is a bit ouchie on the wallet so I've made it my mission not to drive in to work once over the holidays to save about $100 - so far so good - with only a few days left till school goes back on Tuesday 3rd February. It helps that the weather has been pretty kind the whole time too though! And I'm clocking up a good few kilometres of walking/jogging on the new Strava app I've been using for the past few weeks - I'm thinking of setting myself a goal for the year of 1,000 km travelled (which doesn't include any miles pedalled on the bike trainer which I do a couple of mornings a week but I can't easily track this) - not sure if it's doable but I'd like to hope so!

5. Goal setting

Being less busy this month it's allowed me some time to think about a few goals for my photography this year. In other years I'd have had some blogging goals too but I've already decided to take the pressure off this year and not make any goals and just share on here what I want when I want. And you have no idea how freeing that feels! But to be able to continue to grow and challenge myself both as a photographer and in the little side business I have set up I do need to have some real and attainable goals. The response from setting up my website and doing the fair last year has made me realise that unfortunately I'm not going to be an overnight photographic sensation that takes the world by storm and I will need to chip away it with small steps here and there. As long as I'm continuing to move forward in the right direction I have to be patient and be OK with that!


These are just a few of the goals I've jotted down - there are more I can think of!

We also have a fairly big family goal to work towards this year. It's not something I've shared openly here on the blog although some of you may already know what I'm referring to if we've discussed it one-on-one in the past and it's very much top of mind to work through how we can make it actually happen. There's still a lot that needs to fall into place but hopefully we are starting to make small steps in the right direction there too.

So there you have it.... how has your January been? Do you find this time of the year is good for goal setting and making progress on ticking off the to-do list that you just can't find the time for when the daily grind takes over?! Tell me I'm not the only one!

26 January 2015

NZ Must Do: Adventures in Wellington - the walk to Baring Head lighthouse

Ever since I found out that you could walk out to Baring Head lighthouse I've been wanting to go there. Even more of an incentive is the fact that we can actually see Baring Head from our house. As the crow flies it's only 16km away and it's very distinctive as it juts out on the headland and we can see the light of the lighthouse beaming every night - we've counted it at 8 seconds on, 5 seconds off.

When you consider that it's quite close in a straight line, the fact that it takes almost an hour to drive to the car park and another 45 minutes to walk to the lighthouse boggles the mind. But then when you see the big harbour you have to drive around first and then you're out in the wop wops driving all the way down to the coast I guess it makes more sense!

It was a lovely day to go with awesome cloud formations but man is this place W-I-N-D-Y even on a day that is not-so-windy anywhere else.

The start of the walk takes you across the Wainuiomata river and up a 4WD track. The worst of the climb is over pretty quickly and you're immediately rewarded with views of the coast.

From here you head over the ridge and Wellington city appears in the distance with an ever present ferry chugging its way into the harbour.

As we turned and headed south along the coast, the Kaikoura mountain range in the South Island was also in plain view.

There's a real sense of isolation out here. So close to the city but in reality miles from anywhere!

The shot below is looking directly across to Sinclair Head and Red Rocks which we also walked out to in August last year.

You're also never far away from seeing a ferry if you're anywhere on the Wellington coastline.

This shot below is probably my favourite of the year so far - so much so that I entered it into a few of the regional newspaper's Summer Photo Competitions entitled 'Walking under Azure Skies'. I love the leading lines of the road, the symmetry of the fence posts and the wonderful streaky clouds - I guess there has to be an upside to all that wind!

Once the 4WD track ends, it's only a short ten minute walk through farmland with views of the coast (although incredibly there is even a private property out here!) before you reach the lighthouse.

There are a number of boarded up old dwellings out here near the lighthouse and I read just the other week in The Wellingtonian local paper that they are thinking of making it possible for people to come and stay out here again in the future.

Although there's some possible resistance to the idea from the science community as Baring Head is of world-class scientific significance as a 'clean air' area - apparently the air here is incredibly pure as it travels over open water before reaching this point and hasn't been contaminated by human activity so it has been important for studies into global warming and climate change for the past 40 years (source: NIWA and The Encyclopedia of NZ).

And here were we thinking it was just a cool spot to visit for the day!

The two littlest people in our party did ever so well on the walk there, but the way back was another story though as I'll describe below!

This is my favourite shot of the lighthouse with Red Rocks way away in the distance. It's awesome to think we have been there too in the past six months - we do get around!

The coastline here is so wild and untamed - the headland you can see in this shot below is the start (or end depending on which way you go) of the now world-famous Rimutaka Cyle Trail which was recently named in the Lonely Planet's hottest new travel experiences for 2015.

We could have taken the 4WD track back to the car which in hindsight would have been the best and easiest plan but instead we chose to take the circular route back down the hill and along the river. We also could have taken a detour up to the bunkers and trig but decided that little legs would have enough walking just getting back to the car. You can see the route we to below - starting at the P (carpark) and walking on the grey track to get there but coming back along the red line that skirts river (source: Greater Wellington Regional Council).

As it turns out the walk back along the river is HARD work. A very steep downhill gravel track (I'd fallen over earlier in the day and my ITB muscle in my left knee suddenly started screaming blue murder at me the whole way down the hill and for the rest of the journey back and was incredibly painful) to begin with and then skirting along the river over some challenging scree slopes. It made for a very tiring, slow journey back to the car so if we went another time we would definitely stick to the 4WD track as Mark did end up having to carry Mylo a little way towards the very end just to get him over the finish line - it ended up being a 7km return trip which was at the very limit of his stamina!

All in all, another famously interesting and adventurous day out for the MNM's, and a place I'm hoping to come back to one day soon to capture the sunset - on the right night I imagine it would be incredible!

23 January 2015

Snippets of holiday loveliness...Part 2

As lovely as Christmas Day itself was....there were so many other lovely moments that I cannot help but want to remember......

Enjoying the thrill of the chase in many, many games of Citadels - a new strategy card game. Our family is hugely into playing board games when we get together and this one kept us entertained for nights on end. We're hoping it might fit into Nana's suitcase when we all meet up in Rarotonga in May so Nic and Kim get a chance to play with us too!

Lunch at the Federal Store in New Plymouth - this place has the best food, great vibes and their iced coffee went down a treat too!

Our annual pilgrimage to the Festival of the Lights in New Plymouth - I love how no two years are ever the same - I think my favourite area this year was the coloured lights on the lake which changed every few seconds.

And when we got home there was New Year's eve spent with this babe - the Geek Chics got jiggy with a bottle of malibu - and ahem... polished the whole lot off while having a Modern Family watching marathon and finally completing the Penguins on Ice master challenges - boy Mark was good to put up with all the giggling! We even made it to midnight and ran upstairs to watch the fireworks display out the window!

Mark took the boys out for a morning at the zoo - Mark took this awesome shot near the lion enclosure - not as scary as it looks with glass in between them but an impressive shot nonetheless!

And how could I forget my awesome new coffee cup from my brother and sister in Wales - talk about the perfect present for this coffee-loving photographer!

It made going back to work so much more bearable knowing that I had coffee waiting for me in this!


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