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Sunday, 3 October 2010

October 3rd 2010 Back in the YHA Whangerei

It’s early evening here in New Zealand, Mel and I are sitting on a small 2 seater sofa which has been placed at the foot of our bed in our double bed here at the YHA in Whangerei. This is the first time we have been able to get good internet connectivity for the last 2 weeks, hence the lack of activity on the blog. It has been good to see how many hits there have been on the page though – more than 350 – this suggests that all those following our experiences have continued to do so in our absence, for which I am extremely humbled.

As you will be aware; Mel and I have been working out at Tania’s place for the duration of those 2 weeks, a wonderful and inspiring period in our travels so far. I am now physically drained, sitting in clothes that I really should put through the wash as they are covered in grime from more than a couple of days out in the paddocks building a the chook house, chopping logs and today tramping around in a stream in an effort to discover if there is enough water pressure on Tania’s land to get a ram pump to supply the land with fresh water. I have not been able to get a shower yet today as I am waiting to Skype my family and I don’t want to miss this opportunity as it may not be so easy to find internet the further north we travel.

The last days of our WWOOFing adventure at Tania’s were brilliant. The chicken house and their run were, in the end, a real triumph and the chickens arrived in their new home 2 nights before we departed. That was still enough time for them to all escape through an unseen gap in the chicken wire, be rounded up in an easy to imagine comedy style – on hands and knees creeping through the dense foliage of Totora trees and shrubs, and also time for them to lay 6 eggs! Two of the chooks have been named after us, an accolade we are very proud to have received. When asked by Peggy, Tania’s wonderful mother, what I would name the chicken house, I responded with the name ‘Fowl Hall’, although Mel preferred ‘Chook Mansion’. Tania thought that ‘Eggywood’ was a more apt title for what has to be the most impressive chicken house ever constructed in the world. I know you probably feel that this is an overstatement, but check out the video (one of three new videos updated today) and see just how brilliant it really is. It is positioned in such a good location, overlooking a valley, partially covered by a giant tree, which protects the little hens from the weather, but with enough of a run our in the open that they can enjoy the sun over NZ’s long summer which starts soon!! It also has many different nesting boxes and perches in the house and even a sculpture which we built in the run onto which they can sit and eat fruit which is impaled on the extremities. A new landscaped path around the enclosure for ease of access to the gate and nesting box hatch complete the project nicely.

On Friday evening Peggy invited us to dinner at her charming cottage which is slightly higher up the hill from Tania’s place. Naturally we made our way up to the cottage with eager anticipation and we were not disappointed. Peggy had created a lovely 3 course meal of Prawn cocktail then Chicken Provencial (chicken wrapped in bacon seasoned with Thyme and baked in a casserole dish with rice and tomatoes). This was followed by a fantastic fruit trifle and all washed down with stimulating conversation and a little red wine.

On Saturday evening we were invited over to Dave and Chrissie’s place, also on the 20 acre plot which houses Tania and Peggy’s premises for yet another fantastic meal. Dave came out to NZ in 1959, another POM, this time from Leicester. He has been married to Chris for 42 years and they live together in the house that they built, overlooking the same hills as our chickens. Dave is a builder by trade and he has built an outside fireplace opposite the entrance to their house. It can house an enormous amount of fire and we all sat round eating and drinking whilst listening to Faithless recorded live in Newcastle until none of us had any strength left to go on. Mel and I stumbled back to Tania’s past Peggy’s place and via the chicken house. It was a beautiful night sky, I saw a shooting star and the entire galaxy was clearly visible from the top of the hill. We eventually collapsed into bed in the wee small hours of this morning.

Today, we said farewell to our host and agreed that we must meet again some day. Tania, I hope you and Peggy, Dave, Chrissie and all the hens have a great year – thank you for everything, we drink to thee!!

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