Friday, April 21, 2017

Antler Lodge

Ever feel like you just need a break from the high speed fibre connection of life? That things are zipping by just a bit too quickly to catch your breath or read the signs?

I have felt an awful lot like this since Christmas. So in an effort to give us all a chance to reconnect with each other, before the kids grow up too much to want to spend any time at all with us, we booked four nights at Antler Lodge.

Antler Lodge is only about an hour from us but it is still remote enough and isolated enough to enable you to disconnect from the rest of the world for a short time.

It is nestled in the Rimutakas just north of Wellington and surrounded by forest. You have to drive for a good 10-15 minutes up a woodland track to reach it and the lodge itself is apparently higher than the summit of the Rimutaka hill road. You certainly feel like you are living amongst the clouds.

We spent four nights here, disconnected from modern life for a brief spell. It was bliss!

We explored the surrounding woodland and kept an eye out for deer and wild pigs that are said to roam the area. We failed to spot anything other than possums. I think the dogs noisy exploration of the undergrowth everywhere we went, kept them away. 

The lodge was built by the present owner and is clearly a labour of love. It has obviously seen many happy family holidays. Ours can be added to the list. Despite the expected moans from the kids about having to be disconnected from the wifi for an extended period, they soon began to enjoy the many, many, board games and new books that we cleverly brought with us.

The lodge also has a rather large outdoor bath. If you have never had an outside bath before I can thoroughly recommend it. Staring at the stars on a chilly night from a steaming bath in the middle of nowhere is an experience everyone should have!

But the best thing about the lodge, by far, was the amazing views.

If you are interested in staying at the lodge, the website link is here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cyclones and bugs.

Cyclone Cook has been causing havoc across New Zealand over the last few days and we expected it to reach Wellington last night. I dug out and checked all the batteries in our torches and made sure nothing was likely to freely blow around in the back garden. I even brought the Guinea pigs inside in case they ended up mimicking the cows in Twister.

We woke up this morning to a bit of an anticlimax. The cyclone appears to have completely bi-passed Wellington. We had a bit of rain overnight but nothing out of the ordinary. There was very little wind, and certainly no where near the ordinary Wellington gusts that can take the unsuspecting off their feet. All in all it was a bit disappointing. However I shouldn't complain. Some areas of New Zealand had uprooted trees and flooding again, a repetition of the week before.

So once I had taken the Guinea pigs out of the bath (they spent the night there as it was the only emergency indoor accommodation I could find) and put them back in their hutches we headed into the city to look at the bug exhibition at Te Papa.

This is the last weekend that his exhibition is on, and it is rather cool.

Although I wouldn't recommend it if you have a fear of everything creepy crawly. There are huge models of praying mantises and bees devouring other bugs. It's all rather gruesome. The kids loved it.

I think the bit that really stuck in my mind was this huge model of bees attacking a hornet. Apparently 30 hornets can destroy a hive containing many thousands of bees. However some bees can defend themselves by working together to raise the temperature of the hornet above its tolerance levels so it basically cooks alive. All rather cleverly gruesome.

Although the cyclone didn't cause any problems in our region, it certainly appears to be creating some interesting and rather menacing clouds above the city.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Chainsaws and sunlight

After heavy rain blue sky emerged.

We had the remnants of Cyclone Debbie crossing New Zealand this week. Luckily Wellington really only got the edge of the weather. Other parts of New Zealand were not so lucky. Edgecumbe in particular was hit hard, with roads and houses completely submerged.

The heavy rain also brought plummeting temperatures and we have had to rush out and buy wood for our stove. Next door are clearly better organised than us as the smoke from their fire this morning confirmed.

We still have a few brave roses in the back garden reminding us that we did have a bit of summer this year. Not sure how long they will last.

Our Guinea pigs seem to be oblivious to the weather and I saw Sydney here wondering about in the middle of the rain storm this week. I think he prefers basking in the sun though.

The bottom of our garden is still a bit swamp like but looks good in the sun.

We had to chop down one of our big trees again this weekend. It had fallen 6 months ago and was leaning against the car deck. Worried that it would eventually damage the deck we climbed up it and cut it down bit by bit. At least that was the plan. What actually happened was a bit more dramatic. The other half was sitting on it at one point using a chain saw to cut the main branch in half. He felt it move beneath him so jumped off and the whole thing sprung up raining branches and leaves as it fell. I may have screamed a bit at the point. 
I think we will be getting the professionals in next time.

Our car deck is about 30 feet up in the air as this picture shows. So the tree had quite a way to fall. They certainly don't build houses like this in the UK.

Our house looks good in the sun. I do love living in a forest.

It's just the falling trees I don't like.