Archive for the 'Space Watching' Category

Repiling! Pump House Cottage Style

The old lady has been stripped and jacked up – not one shred of dignity remains – and the repiling hasn’t even started yet!

The pump house cottage – thanks to her repiling antics – is currently starring in an article about repiling on the Propertytoolbox website! We are famous… Sort of….

 Before you go on – I have to warn you – it is not pretty – view the following pictures with caution!   

Hang on PHC - your already looking sad - but you are about to head skyward!

The house is already a shadow of its former self here – the lavender has been dug up and the bottom of the wall demolished – ready for the big move to a firm foundation. 

Perhaps not the PHC's best side

The jacks are in position – plug that baby in! So now the fun starts. Let the repiling begin!  

Just fresh air under here - and some old beer bottles....

Over a couple of days the PHC moved about 1.2m off the ground – I didn’t expect it to get that high! These repiling dudes make it look easy! It is fairly entertaining watching people walking about under the house… I think if I ventured underneath the house it would just tempt fate…. 

Ready for the close up!

 The bare bones exposed – all ready for a good clean out – this house repiling thing is cathartic. 

Now for the classics…

The ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots…… 

Up close and personal with the driveway - Before

IT Guy: Hmmm – dilemma – our house is holding up the neighbours driveway 

The tea lady: Hey! Lets move it over! 

The IT Guy: Yeah – good idea! 

The general public: You guys are insane. 

Moving a metre - all in a mornings work...

And viola! Done! Not a problem for the experts! Now we just need some new piles… 

Around the back - my lovely, serene toilet.....

I loved this little toilet room off the end of the house – there was something serene and peaceful about it – good feng shui (or something) or perhaps it was the only room in the house with a lock… 

Bye bye toilet - what a lovely toilet you were....

Anyway bye bye toilet – you are unfortunately collateral damage of the ‘big picture’. 

Sigh! The IT guy says he will get me a relaxing cubical for my next birthday. 

The inside has had a revamp too….. 


So much for the $23 trademe kitchen...

Now you can see why a $23 kitchen was the order of the day at the time – a dollar more would have been a waste…. 

I personally think that the repilers get a lot of satisfaction cutting holes in people floors – they are brutal!

Total distruction inside - now I agree - it is not habitable!

I think you could say that the whole place is ‘open plan’ now… 

And some really scary stuff just to put everyone off buying a 100+ year old house, re-piling & renovating in general….. 

The inside is unrecognisable – wall, floors, doors, toilet, windows – all keep disappearing indiscriminately – I try not to look too hard or ask too many questions.
Is that daylight I can see through that rotten wall

This was not a surprise – and not as bad as it could have been – hey but we still have some extra ventilation for now. 

Piles of dirt in the house - and holes in the floor - hey its progress!

This is the bubs room…. hmmm not sure that this is a worse mess then I have seen them make.

The old piles - whats left of them - how was the house holding up!

No wonder walking around the house was like traversing uneven terrain, the piles were a mere shadow of their former selves – but you have to marvel that untreated native timber lasted so long anyway. Go totara!

That floor was no good anyway…

 Now this one was a surprise – for me – not for anyone else – seems I was out of the loop on this floor ripping up decision… 

So anyway – the big renovation has started yay! Step one – repile – step 2 – everything else….. hmmmm…

And incase anyone is wondering – no we are not currently residing in the pump house cottage – we are temporarily living in some very small digs in Aro valley – a bit too close to Aro cafe for comfort. 

But we have pitched a tent in the garden of ‘the broken house’ as the bubs call it and camped out last friday and plan to camp out again – if the weather cooperates. 

To find out how the repiling pans out and the renovations progress – watch this space…


Elderflower Cordial & Marmalade!

Hey man! I have turned all domesticated! I have made elderflower cordial and marmalade. It was easy! Any Ex Engineer turned domestic goddess could do it.

We have 10 elder trees at the pump house cottage (and counting) so it seemed appropriate to make use of the produce. Apparently elderflower season is a mere 6 weeks so I took advantage of this transient time and sent the IT guy up a ladder picking flowers – lovely!

Pump House Cottage Elderflower Cordial

40 Elderflower heads – beautiful fresh ones, not a hint of brown, smelling intensely like a cats toilet, collected on a sunny day at midday, turn around three times and touch your toes before plucking, rinse off bugs and place in a big bucket.

Acquire 2 Oranges & 5 Lemons, pare off zest,  cut up the remainder and add all to the elderflowers.

Combine 2.5 kg of sugar with 2 Litres of boiling water – Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble until dissolved.

Using the appropriate face of intense concentration pour the boiling sugar solution over the unsuspecting elderflowers, zest etc.

Quickly whip 100g of citric acid together with a cup of boiling water to dissolve and add to the elderflower party.

Stir, stir, stir… a good 10 seconds of industrious stirring should do it.

Cover the bucket with a tea towel – and leave for 5 days.

At this point the elderflower aroma was quite intense and got me a little bit scared of the potential product – but over night the smell matured and became quite a pleasant background for activities at the pump house cottage. To the left is the mix brewing…

After the 5 days of steeping, sieve through muslin. Keep the elderflower/citrus mulch to the side and bottle the cordial in sterilised bottles – Dilute to taste with water, lemonade – or my favourite – soda water – and enjoy!

The elderflower cordial has been popular – even Auntie Ann took home a bottle – watch out tea lady rellies – there is going to be elderflower cordial all round for christmas presents.

Now for the Marmalade:

Elderflower Marmalade – The Pump House Cottage Recipe.

Now before we begin – a few disclaimers – I am not a jam maker and kinda played this one by ear – but the result was not bad….

Take the elderflower/citrus mulch leftover from the cordial straining and remove the elderflowers (thanks but we don’t need you anymore!) 

Cut the zest and pulp up (I don’t like to have great lumps in my marmalade so I cut it up as finely as I could).

Place the pulverised mess in a saucepan & cover the mixture with elderflower cordial. Cook gently until a test piece of zest is tender to bite.

Weigh the mixture and add the same weight of sugar. Cook until suitably jammy – picking out stray bugs and lemon pips as you go. My setting test was pure guess work  (i.e. hey man it looks like jam now!) You may want to use a more scientific method.

Pour the hot marmalade into jars and ta da! Elderflower marmalade – Yum!

Now the IT guy has caught the bug – and has been brewing elderflower champagne – watch this space to see if he is a fermenting success or all ends in a bomb squad call out.

Another Kitchen? For How Much?

Ok, so we bought another kitchen! This time we paid WAY too much – a whole $25!! Thanks Trademe! We actually bought the kitchen because it came with the option of a $50 oven – score! There is a bit of a story with the kitchen too – it came from an Island Bay home that used to belong to Al Brown of Logan Brown fame – the new owners were getting rid of Al’s much worn and loved old kitchen and accessories – so we now the new owners!

Stove SocialisingYou can tell he is a cooking fanatic as the temperature etc markings have all been worn off the stove – what temperature you are setting the oven at is pure guess work! The IT guy is on to it though and the spare parts to fix the problem are on order – I may have a working oven in time for birthday and christmas baking! Here is the stove – living it up in the dining room – having just a stove hanging out with us at meal times is great – compared to a whole kitchen!!

Al Browns Old Kitchen - ApparentlyI think that Mr Brown may be a bit horrified at the way the rest of his kitchen has been employed –  it is now my latest vege plot – housing tomatoes, rockmelon, cucumber, corguette and aubergine. I think my fellow gardener CFD put it quite nicely when she said it was ‘up-cycling’ must remember that term – it is going to be applied to alot of re-use around here! 

Using a kitchen cabinet for a garden was the inspired idea of the IT guy – not just a pretty face! Now all sorts of ideas are being thrown around – no dig gardens, cloches, cold frames! All of that may be in the pipeline – I will have to start googling!

But – when you think about it $25 is alot to pay for (effectively) a raised vege bed…. but everything costs too much these days – don’t get me started! Watch this space to see if the veges thrive in Al’s kitchen – or if it all turns to custard!

Watch this space!

Is the a Serious Vege Garden I See

Ok, so! Labour weekend is the big gardening weekend of the year – pre summer – and seeing I am telling all in sundry that I am going to grow my own veges I thought I better get on to it….

When we signed on the dotted line the agreement to buy the pump house cottage the first thing I went out and did was ransack the mitre 10 vege seedling section, how naive I was, the poor little seedlings then spent 6 weeks languishing in their crowded little pots before I managed to dig a small plot to plant them in.

The Vege Garden - Stage One

The 'Old Tea Lady' Garden

So I suppose we could call that my “old tea lady” garden –  I have moved on in my mentality now – I am all about the seeds…

So over the last week in perparation for the big planting weekend, I cleared and chopped and hacked and dug and excavated, and managed to clear an area for the vege garden.

Here is another before shot so you can get an impression of just how much digging chopping and hacking took place! I even cut down a tree! And the blackberry is all gone from the bank (don’t worry – it got its pound of flesh – literally!)

The Vege Garden - Before

Some things disturbed me during the whole process. Firstly that a previous occupant of the pump house cottage (who owned a horse) used the garden as a rubbish tip – or a Midden to put it a bit more nicely (in time team speak). Cultivating the garden is a bit more like an archeological dig then a mere dirt turning activity. The novelty is wearing off – there is only so many bottles, bricks, horse bits and spoons that are interesting before they are just a shovel stopping pain the arse.

So I spent the weekend digging in compost, cultivating, throwing out objects of national significance and pretending I knew what I was doing. 

And then- drum roll please! I planted seeds! Parsnip, carrots, spring onions, potatos, corn, beans, cucumbers, basil, and corriander! Sometimes the archeological elements won and I had to plant around deeply entrenched artifacts – But in all I am a happy camper! Check it out!

The Vege Garden Post Labour Weekend

Will they grow? Do I really know what I am doing? Watch this space.

Don’t Run! It’s Just a Kitchen!

Seems not just the stove, but the kitchen is scary too… As mentioned in the previous post, part of the $23 trademe kitchen is revisiting trademe – but on the dark side – i.e. the gratuitous money making side.

All was looking good, a keen purchaser had bought the few cabinets and bench that were surplus to requirements for $100 – serious profit!  Pick up was arranged for saturday – and all going to plan I would soon regain some room to move. But no! Things are just not that straight forward, seems the trademe kitchen likes the pump house cottage – seems the trademe kitchen is breeding and multiplying in the pump house cottage, seems there was undisclosed reasons the trademe kitchen was basically thrown at us for the paltry sum of $23 – it wont leave!!

Here’s how it went down – a petite bespectacled man with frail mother in tow comes to pick up the kitchen. First question “Is there another way to get to the road?” – not a good start – obviously the dude is daunted by a mere 60 steps…

Then he looks around and notes the kitchen cabinets towering all around him – the colour drains from his face – I start wondering if I have a bucket handy… I helpfully point out that it is only the few cabinets “over there” that he has purchased – but it is too late – his glasses have fogged and I can tell his brain is playing the tune from mission impossible. Excuses are mumbled and $10 is thrown at the IT guy (for his troubles) and the little man and mum are high tailing it up the 60 stairs in quite a spritely fashion – arrgggghhhhhh…..

So the $23 trademe kitchen is still clogging up the cottage. Ho hum.

But there is good news – the IT guy is going to rip out the old kitchen and replace it with some of the other bits of the $23 trademe kitchen today! Yay! Floor, you and I can get reaquainted – hopefully… But I am a bit worried – is there just something going on with this kitchen – something beyond my control…. watch this space.

$23 Trademe Kitchen

Yes! A $23 trademe kitchen – Bargain! Yet a curse…. The $23 trademe kitchen has taken over my house!
23-Dollar-Kitchen-2As you can see from the picture it is huge! There was only one little picture of two cupboards and bench on trademe so when about 10 cupboards, two benches, a wine rack, fridge unit, 2 shelves and a pantry turned up everyone was a bit surprised – false advertising to the max! As you can see from the picture – there is not only snakes in the garden, but in the kitchen too…. The bubs are struggling – not much play area left with a big bazzoka kitchen hogging the floor area, all a bit percarious too – everything is leaning againist everything else – one wayward sneeze and a bub could be caught in a dominio effect type situation!

So why were we buying a $23 kitchen anyway? Well we have a very manky bench and sink at the pump house cottage – and a second kitchen in the back (have I told you the pump house cottage is in fact two flats?) So we were after some quick fix cabinetry to kill two birds – cabinets to demankify our kitchen that we could prehaps re-use for the back flat (ohh the plans we have for the cottage – watch this space!)  But now we have enough cabinets for both kitchens and some left over to sell on trademe – check out the trademe leftovers.

But wait! There’s more – literally! The IT guy can’t resist a bargain and when offered other renovation cast offs at the pick up location of the kitchen – he could not say no. So in addition we are also now trying to find room for an oven, a cooktop, 2 windows, shutters, a firebox, a bathroom sink, and an extractor fan. Aaarrrgggghhh!

The Cath and Kim Love Seat

The ladies that lunch came over for morning tea – and no! It wasn’t all cucumber sandwiches and earl grey. The rumor was true – they would do anything after a glass of bubbly! CFD and Kim could not resist the jungle (you can’t stop at pulling just one weed!) the weeds must have thought there was a tropical cyclone rumbling through!

Not only now thanks to CFD and Kim does the pump house cottage have a reinstated herb garden – but a love seat was unearthed! How could a love seat be lost? I hear you say – oh the mysteries of the pump house cottage – this place keeps you on your toes!

I challenge you all to spot the love seat in the before picture below – a clue maybe the position of the love sick feijoas (as mentioned in a previous post) – poetic…

Cath & Kim Love Seat

Where is the love seat hiding?


I have already enjoyed a few cups of tea and biscuits on the seat – though (as you can see from the ‘after’ picture below) the cups and plates are not making it back to the kitchen – everytime we run out we head down to the love seat for a collection.


Hey Presto! The Cath & Kim Love Seat

Check out the huge pile of weeds that was keeping the love seat in obscurity! Must get on to the compost heap construction – I am feeling very guilty about taking all this to the dump – though my revenue generating potential for WCC has increase 10x!

Now I have a new item to add to my ‘to do’ list – make a hand carved plaque with ‘Cath & Kims Love Seat’ engraved on it to put in pride of place on your seat….

Thanks Cath and Kim – you guys, your support committee and entourage are welcome back any time – bring your gardening gloves…

Oh! I can’t forget to mention that a rustic looking number8esque candle holder was found in the vacinity of the love seat – I have now even found a candle for it – I would post a picture but it is missing in action due to the arrival of a $23 trademe kitchen – huh? Yes well – that is another story entirely – watch this space and I will post pictures of both next time I:

a) find the candle holder

b) can coordinate the camera/computer thing

c) am feeling skinny enough to squeeze past to boxes into the office to tip tap at the computer.

d) all of the above

off down to the love seat to have a cuppa now…