2016-01-23 to 2016-02-17
Robert Anderson, Robyn Anderson, Simon Anderson, Nic Anderson, Jacqui Anderson, Edward Anderson, Vincent Anderson, Evelyn Anderson, Benjamin Davies, William Davies, Brynn Neilson.
Robyn, Robert, Simon and Brynn shared the helicopter 'swap over' on the 23rd January with Bruce and Karen et al. Nic, Jacqui and children arrived on Tuesday 26th January for 1 week. Brynn departed by shared water taxi on 27th January and Simon followed on the mail boat the following Saturday (30th). After 8 days of R & R being 'Darby and Joan', Robyn travelled back to PNth on 10th February to meet our Chinese visitors, returning to Umukuri via helicopter on the 14th February. Two days later our visitors departed and R & R vacated on 17th February (sadly).
1. Where have all the Weka gone? The number of birds seemed quite small compared to previous visits. Could be just our imagination?
2. Internet. Simon and Brynn managed to secure very adequate internet coverage from the front deck and have ideas as to how permanent coverage could be secured if that is the will of all concerned. Incidentally, Robt and Simon helped David Cunliffe and Trevor Watson to erect an antenna and accompanying solar power supply on the North ridge - 6 of the 'locals' have joined forces to secure and share permanent internet coverage.
3. Water supply. The absence of any significant rain for some while made us rather anxious about the prospect of running out of water. The input from the waterfall could barely sustain a pool of approximately 1 metre in diameter and about 25mm in depth for the first 3 weeks of our stay. Water usage restrictions were adopted after 1 week. We trekked up to the waterfall that Tony draws from. The lower pipe was disconnected and the upper pipe was above the level of the water, both cases resulting in zero draw off. Having monitored the situation daily, it would seem that the volume of water in the waterfall may not have changed that much which leads to the thought that we should try to harvest the water from the fall directly (and more efficiently) rather than via a syphon from the (leaky) pool below. David Cunliffe took me on a 'tour' of the systems in use at the top end of the Bay - all fairly simple. The system that appealed to me most was that of Cliff (?). Without going into too much detail, his system has a piece of (nearly horizontal) spouting that directs the water across the top of a 6-to-8 inch PVC pipe recepticle that is covered by a fine stainless steel mesh, in turn connected to a small tank (a mussel farm float) a bit further downhill. The tank has a lower outlet for flushing out any sludge now and then and an upper outlet (30mm pipe) to 'power' the water system for his property. I would prefer a larger tank than the mussel farm float - but of the same heavy duty material. (David has a couple of these - about 1 metre in diameter and 1.4 metres in height holding about 1100 litres.) A good feature of Cliff's harvesting device is that it is self-flushing - debris simply passes on down the open-ended spouting across the top of the the recepticle - brilliant.)
We would appreciate this being an agenda item for the next meeting please - a more reliable system which would also solve our low pressure issues is within easy (and inexpensive) reach we beliieve.
4. Energy. The new generator is great. We use it early in the day for a short period and then again later, principally to enable the freezer to become a quasi refrigerator given that, in our experience, the small refrigerator is 'useless'. The system works for us. Of course, the generator 'drives' the washing machine and vacuumn cleaner when needed, the sewerage system and any power tools. (Good weather each time we have left for home has meant that we have not needed the clothes drier so far.)
We are interested in a discussion on future energy system options. There has been some casual conversations about installing a solar system like that of some of the neighbours. We are interested in the purchase of a solar powered refrigerator / freeezer (as a single unit) whilst keeping the generator for the other needs as a possible alternative option. We believe that this option would avoid the issues of battery storage and the construction of a (large) solar panel bank, the net result being a less expensive, but perfectly adequate, option. (The 'whole system' option would have more 'appeal' if the bach was occupied parmanently.) Thoughts?
5. Storage. The 3 new pantry cupboards (A,B&K) were assembled and installed. Robt et al removed the screen door to the bedroom, inserted 2 more 'logs' (re-cycled) at the top of the alcove leaving a 4-to-5 mm gap above the cupboards. (The log fitting work proved to be a bit of a 'mission'!) The collective width of the cupboards is just 15 mm narrower than the width of the alcove. All round, a 'snug' fit! Nevertheless, as a professional in the field, Colin Norton would be best-placed to 'finalise' the installation (architrave work, 'tying' the cupboards together, etc) when he comes to finish off some of the other projects. The cupboards look fantastic and provide an amazing amount of storage. (The inside of the cupboard backs were unpainted so we reversed them and Robyn then painted the exposed 'cardboard coloured' surfaces white to match.) The sliding screen has been re-cycled and now neatly covers off the shelving area in the bedroom itself. We think it all looks good and will work well.
The narrow end-of-bench cupboard was assembled and installed to complete the bench / stove unit. BUT during the installation (and at the time it was a sizeable “but”) the floor in the corner where the chip heater had once been located proved to be rotten. (With one prod with the screwdriver we were staring through a hole the shape and size of a small rugby ball!!) This necessitated the installation of a 350 x 350 'false floor' (re-cycled 7 plywood) to support the right-hand end of the bench unit. This too now looks good.
These latest developments now open up other 'icing on the cake' type possibilities for the layout, space usage, improved storage and all-round 'livability' of the bach which we would like to share at some stage. They need not be expensive.
6. Safety. A safety 'rail' comprising 3 stub posts and looped rope (found on the beach) has been installed along the bach side of the walkway to the front deck. (About knee high at the posts.) Hopefully, its mere presence will prevent people falling into the gap between the walkway and the bach.
7. Bookshelves. We have had another attempt to tidy up the shelving in the snug area. Should anyone want to shift the digitor and speakers to somewhere else in the bach, please not that just the two top shelves are pinned to the wall (safety measure) and that, if necessay, the bottom two can be angled out far enough to enable electric plugs to be pulled out, etc.
8. Interior colour scheme - old building. In readiness for the soon-to-be-held discussion on this matter, our latest thinking is that we retain the (current) finish for the walls throughout as a basis - tidying up those areas that have been stained by leakage of one form or another. This will save a heck of a lot of work. Whether we retain the brown colour for the architraves, etc., is something to consider. Given that the former porch area is already painted, it probably makes sense to paint those walls rather strip them back to the original colour? As far as the floors are concerned, we believe that the easiest option would be to paint them with a light-coloured paint to refresh and 'lighten up' the 'ambience' of the building throughout. This approach will also help to disguise the various floor patches that have been installed over the years. Just some preliminary thoughts to ponder.
9. Rats. No more rats were caught in the trap as far as we could tell. A cover was put over the end of the storm water pipe that emerges part way along the seaside edge of the front deck. As far as can be ascertained there are no other open pipes available for the rats to climb onto the roof of either building. (There is an open pipe beside the hose connection point, but that is simply an underpath 'culvert' pipe.)