Friday, 24 June 2016

MAN UP! ...

... in the attic.

Last night The Old Girl drew my attention to some scuttling sounds up in the roof space. "Rats" she said. "Rats" to you too I said and went back to reading my book - Fatherland by Robert Harris.

"You'll have to sort that out" she said.

"I'll hold the ladder for you" I said but knew that I wouldn't win this one.

"That's your job matey" she said so I got the extendable ladder out, found a couple of torches that worked and proceeded to take out all of the shelves in a cupboard at the rear of the house. This double door cupboard - 'Narnia' I call it, provides the access to a kind of chute that goes up along a chimney into the roof space. I removed the cupboard's false ceiling and looked up. The space has always been narrow but since we had the house insulated with white polar bear type fluffy stuff it is even more narrow.

It's also a long way up as we have high ceilings.

The ladder can only go so far as it can't be fully extended and still allow room for climbing up. What I have to do is stand at the top of the ladder and reach up to find a joist or something to drag myself up. There aren't any footholds so it's a case of using arm strength and bracing my back against a wall.

When I get the HRV service people in to change the filters in the two HRV units we have in the roof-space I have to ask for the smallest (and most agile person).

I reached the top and looked about at a sea of white. It's a large house so the roof-space area is vast. The height in parts is high enough to stand but because there is no floor, only joists that are covered by the insulation, it is a bit too dangerous to wander about. God knows how the HRV people manage.

I shined both torches around (one for spare just in case) and sure enough spied some tell-tale rat droppings. Little bastards. I guess it's to be expected in winter in an old house in the country.
I shimmied my way down again and headed off the Mitre 10 to buy some industrial strength rat bait. The cat can't get up there so I asked for the strongest stuff they had which I've positioned up there in 3 containers. I'll have to check each day over the next week to see if it's being eaten.

Tomorrow I'll check under the house and all around to see if I can spot how Mr Rat got up there although I read that they can squeeze through gaps of a couple of centimetres.

If the rat bait doesn't work I could try one of these:

But If I'm resorting to that I may as well go the full hog and use music from one of these.

Monday, 20 June 2016


The Old Girl has been in Australia for a couple of weeks helping the 'sister' office out with a project.
While there they offered her a job, permanent which would basically mean until she decides to retire (3 to 4 years).
On the weekend we discussed it and agreed that she would take the job.
The reasons were less to do with remuneration - the pay would be the same albeit in Australian dollars and they would add in an extra $10k in superannuation. All other staff benefits would be the same as present (life insurance, salary protection insurance etc) - the main attraction would be a more challenging role and the chance of another 'adventure' for us.

The downside would be yet another move with all of the attendant hassles. Her employer would pick up the cost of travel for both of us, transportation of furniture and belongings, initial accomodation for the first month or so and other bits and pieces.

The move would require once again leaving the Northland house and the Auckland apartment and me giving up my job (if I couldn't do it from Australia like I did when we went to UK). We decided to sell the apartment so that the lack of mortgage outgoings would compensate for any loss of my earnings and to look for caretakers for the house rather that rent it out. That way we could leave all our stuff in it and not run the risk of having bad tenants. We decided to make up a list from friends and family first to see if anyone would want to live here rent-free for 3 or 4 years before going to one of those house-sitter websites.

That was the plan as of yesterday before The Old Girl went back to Auckland on the bus.

This morning she had a change of mind. The hassles of the move including arranging to take our cat with us (she's 16 years plus) were just too daunting so she turned the job offer down.

I'm in two minds about this.
Firstly I'm glad so as to not go through another major move, stress out the cat and leave our house and possessions maybe in the hands of strangers. There would be no guarantee of employment either which is a risk.
On the other hand it would have been an interesting few years. I like Australia, especially Adelaide where the job is based.

So, business as usual.

Friday, 17 June 2016


.... sorry about the title. On re-reading it it seems a bit scatological.

What I refer to is the fact that Richard (of RBB) over the last few years has been very caring and considerate to his elderly aunt, visiting her, taking her out on jaunts and bringing her to his home for dinners and special occasions. It is very admirable.

Now I'm not good with elderly people and children. I never know what they eat, want to do, what to say to them etc. To me they're scary.

The Old Girl arrived back in Auckland from Adelaide yesterday where she'd been working for a couple of weeks. She's flying up here today and bringing her elderly (mid 80s) aunt with her for a visit.
That's fine I like aunty Alison (name left the same to avoid confusion). She's been here before several times and likes it. There's plenty of room for her and the weather is still nice although getting cooler. I'll light the wood burner at the end of the house where she will be staying and keep it going while she's here.

That's all good,

The thing is though that the Old Girl will be going back to Auckland on Sunday and leaving her aunty Alison here..




I'll have to make sure that I have the fridge and pantry stocked as to be honest I'm a bit casual in that regard.
I'll have to keep the house tidy.
I'll have to keep an eye on how many bottles of wine I open although Alison does imbibe thank god. She likes Pinot gris I think like the Old Girl and drinks vodka and lemonade. Yes, Richard lemonade although this is with vodka not mixed in with Chateau Margaux.

The Old Girl better get up here each weekend. That's all I'm saying.

Thursday, 16 June 2016


Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring .....

Humbert was worried. Very worried (again).
A good friend acquaintance some old guy he once met, Richard (of RBB) had called him in the middle of the night. The old guy still hadn't worked out the time differences between New Zealand and USA.

Humbert: Yeah?

Richard (of RBB): Humbert? Is that Humbert? Humbert who sorted out my wine problem that time? Humbert who....

Humbert: Yeah, yeah it's Humbert. Who the hell ....hey, is that the old schoolteacher guy from Nuova Lazio?

Richard (of RBB): Yes, yes, yes, it's me, Richard .....hee hee heee, yes Richard. Of RBB...

Humbert thought that he sounded strange but then remembered the guys liking of chardonnay, Cheap chardonnay. He remembered the crap that he had bottled up and sent to him a year or so ago but of course that'd be long gone.

Humbert: You OK old feller?

Richard (of RBB): Yes, yes, yes .... I mean no, no, no. I've had a bit of a bad time a septimana stercore

Humbert: You mean like a shit week?

Richard (of RBB): Yes, a shit week.

Humbert: Then why don't you just say that and not use that bloody archaic language. We Americans can't understand that crap normally. Lucky that I was an altar boy.

Richard (of RBB): Well, yes, I had to delete all of the posts from my blog. They .........

Humbert couldn't understand what Richard was saying as he was blubbering, wheezing and drifting in and out of comprehension. And farting.

Richard (of RBB): ....and they were my babies...

Humbert: OK, OK,  I get it (I think). Why did you do this?

Humbert was reminded of a story he had heard of elderly people when they reached a certain age or suffered from dementia destroying old photographs and memorabilia.

Richard (of RBB): She made me do it the bitch. She bloody well made me do it. It's not fair, not fair....

Humbert: Who? Who's 'she'?

Richard (of RBB): Some IT person who was snooping around. Why can't people leave people like me alone. Why do they have to interfere. The cows, the cows. Why do they pick on me. What have I done to upset them? I never ever picked up a cap out of a urinal and put it on my head, never. Never - I don't think. Look out! The cows!

Humbert: Whaaaaa?

Richard (of RBB): She caught me looking up the girls dresses. Under the stairs. She told me off. Called me a dirty little pervert. Hit me, that big girl did. And pulled my ears. Said mmmumblemumble ....

Humbert: Hold on Richard. I'd better get over there.

Humbert could see that he had better do this quickly. This was serious. Very serious. He'd had problems with IT types before and had to take action to sort things out. With extreme prejudice. He thought he'd better contact his old pals The Curmudgeon and The Wine Guy to keep an eye on things until he got there.

Richard (of RBB): Th th th th thanks Humbert.

Yes, this was bad all right. The old guy was slipping into one of his alter egos in mid conversation.
Time was going to be short.

Humbert: Lock your door, turn off your cell-phone and computer and for god's sake only drink a decent chardonnay. And what the hell was all that about cows?

Monday, 13 June 2016


The current campaign against cyber bullying is worthwhile and I accept that damage is being done to impressionable young (and old) people who are attacked on-line. Something has to be done for sure but, does it have to be yet another of those 'catch all' pieces of legislature that are just too broad in their approach and end up 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'.

Good old Amy Adams and the introduction of the Harmful Digital Communication Act. She's a mother you know and is ....

" really anxious that young people particularly don't understand the viral nature, the permanence, the speed of dissemination and the damage of online communication and I worry deeply about how it will affect people not only now but [in] their future careers and life"

Mmm, OK, but ..... what about the old curmudgeons out there who, due to the stresses and disappointments of everyday life feel the need to vent their spleens, to rain down bile on the cheating, mean, selfish and stupid scrotes out their who make their lives miserable?

"STOP THE HATE" they say with one of those annoying bloody hash tags (#).

I guess curmudgeons will have to come up with their own slogan, without the hash tag and definitely not going anywhere near Facebook and Twitter. No, curmudgeons prefer telegrams and faxes but as these have limited reach in the 21st century will resort to using blogs.

"HATE THE SCROTES" or something similar could be the catch cry.

Anyway, something has to be done or we will lose important blogs and on-line information sites that will close down because the Harmful Digital Communication Act will outlaw them. Why only today I learnt that Richard's Bass Bag wiped out all its old blog-posts ........... well, OK, bad example but I'm sure that there are some important blogs and on-line information sites out there that we don't want to lose.

Sunday, 12 June 2016



 The weather is turning a bit wild again. I wish it would make up its mind.
I took advantage of the good weather yesterday but should have mowed the lawns.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to do them this week.

Tonight I've been watching series One of This is Jinsy on TV On Demand.
If you haven't seen this programme then I thoroughly recommend viewing it. It is as funny and archaic as Spike Milligan's Q Series and has great send ups of folk music.

Check it out sometime.

Saturday, 11 June 2016


We had a severe wind storm during the week that threatened to tear off the roof and destroy the garden sheds and trees. I'm glad that we had a new roof put on last year but it was still worrying. The unusual weather patterns maybe could be put at 'global warning's' door but I don't know, I'm not a meteorologist. Last weekend we were swimming in the bay, Tuesday was cold enough to light a fire, the rest of the week was like being in a hurricane and today it's been sunny and 23 degrees.

I woke this morning to blue sky, sunshine and no wind. A beautiful day.
When I went for a walk around the bay I decided to add the 'up and over' of Mount Aubrey which I haven't done for a while. This is a great walk and is always made better in good weather because of the spectacular views from the top.

I climbed walked up from the Little Munro Bay side which is the steepest (better to get the up out of the way early). As I had my iPhone with me and was taking photographs I had the excuse to take it slowly so didn't end up puffing my way to the top. I've been a bit lazy lately and this was the first time I've done the Mt Aubrey walk since I got back from the UK.

There was lots of 'Up'

But interspersed with lovely flora on the track and really nice views.

And lots more 'Up'

Quite a lot of "Up' actually but the views at the top are well worth it.

Mt Aubrey is an unusual mountain with a steep, bush covered sides and a long plateau-type top that has lots of unusual rock formations.

The biggest 'rock' is the highest point of the mountain with a marker at the very top.

Not my photograph. I can't levitate (yet) and don't own one of those annoying drone things.

The last time I was up here it was blowing a gale and I had to hold on to this marker so as to not get blown away.

This time there was virtually no wind (although when standing at the top you can feel a bit of a breeze). The view from here is 360 degrees and I can look down on my house below.

The downhill walk is much easier but can be hellish on aged knees but DOC and the council have built in some pretty nice steps that are almost like stairs.

The walk is entirely bush covered, again with beautiful native trees, ferns, toi-toi and cabbage trees but occasionally there is a great view through gaps.

I'm glad that I did this walk today in case the weather turns bad for the rest of winter. I love this mountain and indeed the other walks around here. Walking them obviously helps with fitness but it also benefits the soul.

After the walk I got stuck into some gardening around the property so now feel that I deserve the glass of Selaks Founders Chardonnay I've just poured as well as the schnitzel, roast potato and broccoli I plan to have for dinner.

Oh, and I also decanted a 1977 Warre's Port (half bottle) to sip at after dinner if I can work out how to get a delayed telecast of NZ vs Wales on my computer.


Thursday, 9 June 2016


.... I am an old curmudgeon and, over the last few years decades The Old Girl and I have bemoaned the decline of values in society. It seems to us that morality, responsibility, ethics and 'brotherhood' have taken second place to a 'me me' culture that is being reinforced and perpetuated by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and that odious Tinder.

Alas, like the tender young things who have a 3 minute concentration span at best, I too can't be bothered in writing a considered and balanced essay on this subject but I will provide an example of the malaise that is evident in popular culture.

I like some of the UK game shows - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Mastermind, Tipping Point etc and, for this example The Chase.

The Chase is a game show where 4 contestants take on a quiz show expert (The Chaser) for general knowledge.
How it works is that each member of the team faces a rapid fire quiz  with points of 1000 quid given for each correct question. The highest pool I've seen attained is 9000 quid with the average around 3 or 4.
The contestant then faces the 'Chaser' - one of 4 experienced 'Mastermind' type quiz people. This Chaser gives them the option of keeping the pool that they have won or a low option or a high option.
The low option means that there will be an extra gap given in 'The Chase' over the standard two gaps and the high option means that the gap narrows to one space.

The high option can be as much as 50,000 quid which is pretty attractive but puts the contestant at a greater risk of being caught.
The low option can be 1 or 2 thousand pounds but usually is a negative amount meaning that the scrote contestant can elect to take this thereby reducing the team pool (often based on hard-won efforts by others) just to get back into the final round with a chance of sharing the winnings.

What I've noticed in watching this programme over the last couple of years is that most contestants feel that it isn't honourable to take the low offer especially if it is a negative as it is unfair to the team members. The minority that elect to take this offer are, by an overwhelming percentage, the younger players (18 to 25).


Why aren't I surprised?

Wednesday, 8 June 2016


* An excellent Martin Scorcese documentary on The Rolling Stones.

Now my eyesight is prety poor and has been for many years. I'm short-sighted and have to wear corrective lenses to correct this.

I'm convinced that my eyesight is getting worse though and I'm convinced that The Old Girl is contributing to this.

I, like a lot of blokes, like good lighting in houses.
The Old Girl, like most dames prefers 'mood' lighting which is a fancy way of saying bugger all lighting.

The overhead light fixtures in all of the rooms in the house are chandelier type which, given the bloody number of bulbs in them should light up a runway but no, the bulbs are all low wattage 'candle' type and all point upwards to the ceiling rather than downwards to where people actually inhabit the house.

This early evening as I fired up the computer I found it very hard to see the keyboard even though the overhead light is on.
I went hunting through all of the rooms to find a lamp to put on the desk so I can see what I'm doing but all of the damn things are guessed it ..... mood bloody lighting things that give out a soft and diffuse light.


I'm off to the shops tomorrow to buy a man-type lamp.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Early last week I lit the fire as it was cold and I was convinced that winter had arrived.
Later in the week and through the long weekend the weather was wonderful - we went swimming on Sunday! Talk about changeability.

Last night we had a big windstorm that shook the house and did some damage to trees in the area. There were waves in the bay which was a bit unusual.

The cat found a kingfisher early this morning on the deck. It had been damaged in the storm and she brought it in to the kitchen. It and the cat were having a bit of a stand-off. The Old Girl managed to pick it up and put it outside where it sat for a while. I checked out the address for the bird sanctuary and got a box and tried to catch it but it flew off in a damaged, wonky way. I hope it recovers.

The Old Girl is off to Adelaide tomorrow for 2 weeks. The company she works for has an Australian office and they need her to help with a project. She enquired about a job that's going there so I think that they want to see how she would fit in and what her skills are. She will easily contribute and will up-skill their team but any job offer would have to come with a considerable increase in salary as I would have to give up what I'm doing. I'm sure that I could get work in Adelaide but it would be disruptive as they would want her there for 3 or 4 years at least. We would sell the Auckland apartment, keep the house up here and rent in Adelaide. Who knows? Another adventure. It may not eventuate but either way is OK.

I'm typing this on the newly restored iMac which is great. It now goes much faster and is so much easier to post using photos than using a laptop or worse, an iPad. I like the big screen (getting old I know).

Monday, 6 June 2016


I've been having trouble with the iMac running really slow.
We bought it in 2008 and it had an operating system that most programmes that I tried to access recently were disinclined to oblige. Most warned me that I was a fool for using an obsolete system and suggested that I buy new programmes or, to be really safe, an entire new computer.

I gave up using the iMac which was a shame as it has a really big screen, has always in the past been very reliable and has all of our photographs loaded on it.

I contacted a computer guy who gave me a quote for upgrading. This was nearly $600 or, he suggested if the upgrade didn't work, he could sell me a new iMac.
In the email he sent me he broke down the quote into components. Admittedly $200 odd was for a memory upgrade but the rest was for an upgrade programme and labour. He mentioned the upgrade programme - Mac OS X Snow Leopard which was necessary to take me out of the dark ages (of 2008) and put me into a place that  our lord Apple would recognise for on-line free upgrades.

I purchased the Snow Leopard on-line for $29 including delivery. It turned up real quick so this weekend I uploaded it and then set about downloading the free upgrades.
As my operating system was so old this took a while until I reached the latest - El Capitan. Bingo!
It works and the speed is incredibly faster than before. I don't need the memory upgrade and can access all the old programmes - eventually.
After the upgrade I discovered that all of our photographs on iPhoto had disappeared - thousands of them. I was worried as The Old Girl has some treasured family memories amongst these. I tried for hours trying to retrieve them to no avail. When The Old Girl asked what I was doing I told her that the upgrade required a lot of smaller downloads of applications etc etc. She seemed to buy that. I trawled through the web and found hundreds of people who had the same problem after upgrading to El Capitan. Many of the suggested fixes just didn't work with some suggesting buying a programme from Apple (probably suggested by Apple salespeople).

I eventually found one common sense person who suggested a simple remedy and so today I managed to retrieve all of our photos. I was relieved and confessed to The Old Girl. She said that it was OK as it wouldn't have been my fault - very obliging I thought.

I'm now back in business and will probably be able to blog a bit more frequently (sorry about that) as using the lap-top or the iPad was difficult and annoying. It has also saved me over $500.

Thursday, 2 June 2016


Yesterday and the day before I lit one of the woodburners and prepared the other as I was convinced winter had arrived. It of course had officially arrived yesterday but the cold snap was quite a departure from the great weather we have enjoyed all through autumn.

Today was a beautiful day. The harbour very calm and beckoning people to go for a swim. Not me alas as I'm a wimp but the Old Girl if she'd been here today would have.

This photograph was taken at 5pm and the sun was still shining in to the kitchen. at 5.30 the temperature is still 18 degrees and was higher during the day.
If this carries on the poor sheep will get confused and have their lambs early (a bit of a hypocritical thought as I bought lamb mince at the supermarket today) but you know what I mean.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Religious nutters are not confined to Lower Hutt it seems.
This flyer was in my mailbox today. It's encouraging people to come along for some Jesus miracle cures.
The only 'miracle' to me is that my letterbox bug chewed up my other mail but left this one relatively unscathed.


I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...