Monthly Archives: May 2016

Helensville?

With a rental car for the weekend, Jasmine and I decided to go northwest and check out Helensville and the South Head. It is very surprising how quickly it turns into countryside outside of Auckland and it is nice to have a car so that we can get into the countryside occasionally. We made three stops: Helensville, Shelly Beach, and Te Rau Puriri. Helensvile is a small town with a couple of cafes and is worth a little walk around just to soak in the pastoralness.

Shelly Beach was a quite pleasant peninsula with a bit of a little walk by the beach and a small Bach community. On the plus side, we also got to go to a tasty cafe right on the beach for lunch, so there is always that. :)

There is Fishing!

There is fishing!

And a pretty beach!

And a pretty beach!

And a tractor with a boat trailer at the wharf. This is as NZ as you can get.

And a tractor with a boat trailer at the wharf. This is as NZ as you can get.

And, finally, Te Rau Puriri was a delightful walk in the country side. It poured down on us while we walked around a very green (and slippery) hill side while surrounded by sheep and in view of the ocean. So about as NZed as I can get. :)

It is an Airstrip. Something pleasant about a grass field for airplanes.

It is an airstrip. Something pleasant about a grass field for airplanes.

And the requisite panorama :)

And the requisite panorama. :)

Mount Maunganui

Jasmine and I were down in Tauranga for work on Friday and we decided to stick around for Saturday and actually check out the surrounding area. As it turns out, there is a quite delightful beach and a nice hike to the top of Mount Maunganui. The Mount is a weird geographical feature that is a singular large hill at the end of a peninsula blocking off a harbor. It seems like a perfect location for a stronghold in some medieval fantasy novel.

The hike was relatively short – I think it was only 2 hours total for the round trip – but it was a delightful hike with nice views all around. I think we will certainly have to do the hike again since we might have to be down in Tauranga for work a fair bit, though I don’t know if we will manage to run up and down like we saw some intrepid joggers doing. :)

Step 1: walk down the beach to get down to the mount.

Step 1: walk down the beach to get down to the Mount.

And the Mount is in view!

And the Mount is in view!

Looking south onto the  beach, just at the start of the hike.

Looking south onto the beach, just at the start of the hike.

And now from the peak looking south on the town and the harbor.

And now from the peak looking south on the town and the harbor.

Lloyd in front of the harbour.

Lloyd in front of the harbour.

And another panorama to the north. The mount was quite panoramic.

And another panorama to the north. The mount was quite panoramic.

Casimiroa

In the ongoing effort to taste every bizarre fruit that I can find at the grocery store, I picked up a Casimiroa. At first glance, the fruit appears to be some sort of deformed green mango but, when cut in half, there is a inedible leathery skin with a white fleshed fruit and one large seed. I think the best description is a slightly citrus flavored Asian pear, with the mouth-feel of an not quite ripe Bosc pear. I think the flavor could be improved by further ripening, but the other one I bought went bad before I could try it. :(

The nondescript outer shell.

The nondescript outer shell.

And the not quite fully ripe interior.

And the not quite fully ripe interior.

Wrap Sweater

When I ripped my last wrap sweater, I decided to make a new one. This project covered a lot of sewing things I wanted to work on: I made the pattern from scratch, it was my first time working with knit fabric, and I got to play with stripes. As usual, there are things I’d like to improve about it, but I’m pretty happy with it overall. It’s wool so it’s quite warm and will be nice in the evenings now that it’s getting cooler.

The finished sweater! Lesson learned: stripes are easy to work with if you pay attention.

The finished sweater! Lesson learned: stripes are easy to work with if you pay attention.

I probably spent a bit too much time playing with the direction of stripes, but, then again, that was one of the reasons I wanted to make this.

I probably spent a bit too much time playing with the direction of stripes, but, then again, that was one of the reasons I wanted to make this sweater.

Hatchet Handle

I had bought a handful of used tools when we moved into Auckland and I have spent a bit of time fixing the tools up. Sometimes this is just scrubbing off rust or buying a new saw blade, but I always enjoy making an old tool usable again. In some cases, more work is required – such as my hatchet.

As purchased, the head was dull and rusted with a big notch, but that was easy to fix with a hammer, file, and whetstone. The harder change was replacing the rotted handle. For fun, I decided to use the ax as a hand ax to make its own handle. Step one was rough cutting a branch to the right length and diameter and then curing the wood for a month or two.

Always paint or seal the end of curing timber. Otherwise it will split as the wood dries.

Always paint or seal the end of curing timber. Otherwise it will split as the wood dries.

Step 2 is to carve the handle into shape. The branch I chose was a good shape so I only needed to smooth the surface by removing burrs. For the joint, I cut a proper size oval of the same height As the hatchet into the wood, then tapped the handle into place using a hammer.

Each hatchet had a slightly different size head. Just cut down to size.

Each hatchet has a slightly different size head. Just cut to fit.

Afterwards, I oiled the wood over the handle and the head. The oil both protects the wood and swells it slightly which holds it in place. Some people use water to swell the wood, which does lead to more swelling and a tighter grip, but the water swelling is also prone to loosening as the wood dries. I think overall oil does a better job for a long term hold.

And here is the final ax. It looks rough but it feels quite nice in the hand.

And here is the final ax. It looks rough, but it feels quite nice in the hand.

Quite handy :) Uses include cutting wood and sunflower stalks, as a mallot (with the flat) and decapitating mice.  The handle is shorter than average but while that decreases power it does makes it easier to aim.

Quite handy. :)

Uses include cutting wood and sunflower stalks, as a mallet (with the flat back), and decapitating mice. The handle is shorter than average but, while this decreases power, it does makes it easier to aim.

Te Atatu

Just to the west of Auckland, across the Waitemata Harbor from our house, is the Te Atatu Peninsula. It seems to be the standard used to be rural area next to a big city and is now turning into luxury apartments because there is open space!!! In any case, we biked over and hung out on the periphery where there is a delightful narrow group of parks that wrap around most of the 10 km of the edge of the peninsula. So all in all a delightful gravel path to bike on with views of the harbor most of the way. And to top it off, it is only a 8 km ride on a cycleway from our house. So yeah, we’ll be going again.

As always just in the distance you can make out Sky Tower.

As always, just in the distance you can make out Sky Tower.

The aforementioned pretty harbor views.

The aforementioned pretty harbor views.

It is fall! And we get pretty colour changing deciduous trees! I clearly lived in CA too long.

It is fall! And we get pretty colour changing deciduous trees! I clearly lived in CA too long.

I actually took this picture while cycling. Probably not safe, but fun.

I actually took this picture while cycling. Probably not safe, but fun.

1 meter wide path, lets put a 3 meter deep cliff on the side! No worries.

1 meter wide path; let’s put a 3 meter deep cliff on the side! No worries.