Archive for the 'The Pump House Cottage' Category

House Renovation – A Cautionary Tale

Things are progressing at a great rate of knots here at the Pump House Cottage – though I am not sure that we are going in a forward direction. Plus there is a bit of a mystery – Where has the cottage gone…..????? 

Hey! Someone has left this building shell where the pump house cottage used to be....

No matter how hard I look – nothing here even slightly resembles the little zoo cottage bought back in september – confusing… 

Anyone seen a little blue cottage? 

Hey Pax! Can you spot the pump house cottage?

 Even Pax and Laurie are confused. And the IT guy has gone into hiding…… suspicious….. 

I am positive there used to be a little workingmans cottage here! Help!

And just what is burning???? 

Suspicious Fire

Oh well, maybe I came to the wrong address – lets go for a ride on the cable car and forget about it! 

Cable Car Caper!

From Laurie’s smiling face you would never guess that the first five attempts at this photo on the cable car caught her with a finger wedged up her nose. My quiet suggestion that she remove it resulted in her shouting back, for all to hear, I’ve got a BOGEY mummy! The laugh that she got from the surrounding passengers only made it worse! But I finally got a nice picture – she is all class! Pax, is just his usual ‘photogenic’ self….


Just Another Demo Day at the Pump House Cottage

I have always said that the IT guy had a ‘scorched earth’ policy – he does not muck around either! And what has been going down at the pump house cottage proves my theory.   

Beautiful New Piles!

But first – it is not all sledge hammer welding here, we have new piles and a new retaining wall!   

Look at the beautiful new piles in the picture – awwwww – well, maybe you had to be there…

New House Height - up One Meter!

Funny thing about the new foundations for the house is you now need a ladder to get inside the house! The distance from the ground to the back door used to be about 30cm and is now a meter! So now the view from the cottage has improved! There is a lovely vista down the valley.

There is still a lot of floor missing – and some more got ripped out before the floor assault ended (the picture of the bubs room minus floor says it all!).   

The Floor in the Bubs Old Room is Gone!

New Floor in the Bubs Room! But Now GIB Free..

Floor seems to reappear as quickly as it is taken out thanks to big beautiful sheets of ply! Sacrilege! I hear floor board lovers shout… Don’t worry we are keeping the floor boards where it counts.

A lovely rustically wooden floored kitchen, lounge and hallway is planned. Though I am really liking the ply – maybe floorboards so yesterday!  

Slight Problem with the GIB Post Repiling

Notice the GIB stripping going on in the new floor photo? Well the repiling of the house caused a bit of havoc with the GIB. Some was coming off anyway, but after the repiling there was not much point in keeping the small amount that was salvageable or that’s what the IT guy says anyway – scorched earth and all that…  

We had quite a few ‘alien’ bulges in the walls – seriously disturbing – looked like something was about to erupt out of there – perhaps one of those infamous portals to another dimension everyone’s been talking about – perhaps the scary washing machine and the pump house cottage should do lunch.  

The Whole House is Bare of GIB...


So the whole cottage is stripped bare – ready for new GIB and insulation.  The place is a bit of a shocker! Grant has been hiring poor unsuspecting students to haul all the demo rubbish away – one poor boy slinked away before even starting after being told what he was supposed to do for the day – maybe the hill doesn’t help..  

Ceilings Hanging Out for Some GIB!


Check it out – even the ceilings are bare! It is actually a lovely sight – a nice clean slate.   

So just who is going to do all this work – well the builders have arrived – yay!  And the IT guy is working with them to get the house back to its former glory – prehaps…  


P.S. I am holding out on you – there have been major developments on site – the carnage continues! Stay tuned for the next episode of the ‘The Pump House Cottage Sympathetic Redevelopment’

The Pump House Vege Garden Grows!

Ok, it was a bit of a slow start – and the wind does still wreck havoc on the odd occasion and totally flattens my tomatoes – but it turns out that the garden is quite resilient and bounces back every time! I attempted to take some photos of the vege garden and all you can see is green, green, green….. I hope you like green….

I am going to start with a before picture – back when seeds were being planted and the weather was bitter and all hope of summer and sun and veges growing was fast disappearing…..

But, summer did turn up in the end and seeing we have a ‘micro climate’ here at the pump house cottage the results were very lush…

It is hard to tell what is there from the pictures – but we have been eating:

Yellow, green and purples beans (purple are best!)

Courgettes (and some marrows..)

Baby carrots – pulled, washed, steamed, eaten!

BBQ corn

Three type of potato par boiled and fried in butter on the BBQ – is the best way to eat new potatoes!

Towering Tomatoes

 Yellow and red cherry tomatoes – the bubs eat them like lollies straight from these gigantic tomato plants!

Spring onion (bbq’ed with sausages in blankets)

Apple cucumber & Lebonese cucumbers (the best cucumbers I’ve ever grown!)

Gherkins – not sure what to do with these – suggestions anyone?

Stawberries & blueberries – these are fought over and I even think the repilers have been pilfering them….

Eating stuff from the garden makes our friday night camping trips to the pump house cottage feel like we are living off the land – I harvest and the produce gets thrown straight on the BBQ or in a steaming pot of hot water on a gas ring. We are like some ‘back to basics’ reality show!

Now all we are waiting for in the garden are the pumpkins, onions, and parsnips…..

Jam Off! Elderflower Marmalade Mania….

The Jam Off on Tuesday was great fun! CFD convinced me to bring my elderflower marmalade – and I am glad she did!

Turns out the elderflower marmalade had an appreciative audience and scored the ‘fruitest blend’ award! Awesome! Check out the Jam Off Aftermath… And there is a great after match analysis on the Xero site too…

The feedback has been great – and pressure to produce the recipe immense. Unfortunately it is a top-secret family recipe – yeah right!

It is no secret –  it was completely made up one balmy summer evening in an attempt to reduce my ‘carbon footprint’ and not let the cast-offs of elderflower cordial making go to waste. So here is…

The Pump House Cottage Elderflower Marmalade

40 Elderflower heads –  Rinse and de-bug and place in a large container/bucket (4L or bigger).

4 Oranges & 10 Lemons, pare off zest, cut up the remainder and add all to the elderflowers.

Combine 1.25 kg of sugar with 1 Litre of boiling water – stir until sugar dissolves.

Pour the boiling sugar solution over the unsuspecting elderflowers, zest etc.

Combine 50g of citric acid together with a cup of boiling water, stir to dissolve, and add to the elderflower party.

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

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

After the 5 days of steeping, sieve through muslin – keeping both the elderflower/citrus mulch and the liquid – Viola! You have now made elderflower cordial & have the ‘pulp’ for your elderflower marmalade!

Bottle up your elderflower cordial – it will be good for a couple of months – and is excellent diluted with a dolop of Gin & a splash of soda water…

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 in a saucepan & ‘just’ cover the pulp with some of your elderflower cordial. Cook gently until a test piece of zest is tender to bite.

Weigh the mixture and add 75% of this weight in sugar i.e. if it weighs about 800g, add 600g of sugar (mine is usually around this…). Cook until suitably jammy. 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!

Unfortunately it is a seasonal recipe as elderflowers only make a 6 week appearance in october/november time here in NZ – so mark your calendars and plan to make a big batch next summer. I know I will be!

See you next year at Jam Off 2011!

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…

Potatoes and Peas at the Pump House Cottage

Check out the produce from the pump house cottage garden. Finally there is something resembling a harvest!

This was the pea harvest for christmas dinner. We didn’t even bother cooking them – the kids love to eat them raw – they treat them just like lollies!

The peas have been great – no only feeding us, but providing a wind break for the only tomato plants producing tomatoes.

Talking of tomatoes – the first was eaten from the garden tonite!

After being potato rustlers for a couple of days – snatching a peeping potato here and there – we decided to go for it and dig in. Laurie controlled proceedings, I dug and Laurie shouted and pounced each time a red skin peeked out! They were dutifully collected in her green sandpit bucket and delivered up to the house for everyone to ooh and ahh over.

We ate these for dinner tonite – steamed and served with Paul Newman original salad dressing on the side for ‘dip’

There was lots of ‘hmmmms yummmmms’ all round.

Where there is smoke…..

There is fire! Yes the fire brigade visited the pump house cottage the other day – and know it wasn’t because of some fanciful drill thinly veiling the kids desire to check out a fire engine – there was actually a fire!

The local firemen were called out to the pump house cottage late last thursday. Some over anxious neighbour had rung and reported a fire – and there was – we were having a good old fashioned burn up!

Check out this photo of the IT guy and the youngest fireman ever having a good old chinwag.

Even though the firemen came thrumping down the driveway with ‘your doing something naughty’ purpose – they left satisfied because we actually have a fire permit and did everything by the book – you can ask all the neighbours we wrote to telling them we were going to have a fire – crazy!

Now some tips if you are going to have a burn up:

1. get your washing in off the line first – I didn’t do this….

2 check the wind direction – away from the house is preferable – we didnt check this….

3. Shut up your house if the wind is blowing in anywhere near that direction – didn’t do this either

4. Prepare yourself for all the neighbourhood kids ‘dropping in’ with sticks laden with marshmellows – weren’t prepared for this

So now we have alot of smelly clothes, towels and linen, and a house that smells like a smokehouse, I am not even going to contemplate the damage to our carbon footprint! But our kids have new friends and photos with firemen – and we have NO MORE RUBBISH – not really bad result really.

Gossip Over a Cuppa

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Feed me the Tea!