Y’know, for some reason I was looking forward to Easter and especially a good couple of days just laxing out in Opo – perhaps even a spot of fishing… ahhh!
Now for the truth –
Left Howick on the stroke of 5, weather partly cloudy with a promise of some rain for the morning. Good traveling with light steady traffic. We had left early with the anticipation that most eateries would be either packed out or closed, so the intention was to breakfast at Opo by about 9. We hit two patches of heavy rain around Warkworth and Dome Valley, so the greasy roads did slow us up a bit.
The first excitement was at Te Hana, an old dairy company village about 90 minutes north of Auckland. Flashing lights, smoke, and the remains of the old dairy co factory smouldering quietly on the corner above the bridge. There was a picture there; two firemen still in full kit stretched out on the bonnet of a car; totally shagged. I didn’t stop – I am not a person who feasts on the misfortune of others.
Breakfast was bacon, eggs and hashes; well worth the wait. A quick survey showed that the lawn did not need mowing, but there was a lot of kikuyu around the place that needed hacking back into some semblance of “tidiness”. So that was Friday morning, up until the day got too hot around 1 or so. Inside for a long rehydration and a beer. Lunch. Then the decision that it was too hot to work outside, and that the lawn could take care of itself for the next couple weeks before Dene mows it again.
It also gave rise to the decision that was to shape the rest of the weekend.
Along the “front” (it is actually the back but it is also the direction the house faces so front it is…) of our place is a hedge of native trees. At present they are all around the 3m mark and very much destined not to get too much taller. There is a saga behind this hedge which we learned much of on Sunday but that is later. One end of this hedge has a climber which at this time of year produces the most magnificent purple blue flowers. It is spectacular. It is also morning glory, which the FNDC has determined (and I totally agree with their judgement) to be a noxious weed.
A word of explanation here. “Noxious” in this context does not imply “poisonous”, although many “noxious plants” are; examples ragwort and foxglove (digitalis). Most of the common thistle varieties are also “noxious”, as are gorse (the Scottish furze) and most of the eliagnus sp.
Oh, and the all plastic new-fangled compost maker was assembled and put in place. S was somewhat concerned that it might walk away when we are not around, so I went down to the garage at Omapere to see if they had a suitable to tie it down with. There was a wire strop, but the swages on it were too big to fit through the lugs on the bin. I was standing there looking at this 2m long piece of 7mm wire rope and a young guy walks up. "Wotchawant that for?" he asked. "I am heading out for a spot of fishing and I was looking for something just a bit heavier for a trace." was my reply. He looked at me, at the strop, then back at me. "You're bloody hopeful aren'tya? he muttered as he walked off. Then the humour in it must have hit because there was a huge giggle and he turned round with this huge grin on his face and gave me a walk-cool wave.
Up bright and early, to discover that there was no milk for breakfast, but the store was open at 7.30 so the holdup was minimal. French toast; easy and delicious and light.
First problem – where to hack into the undergrowth so that I can start getting this hell-weed out. Find an end, pull. Ah, over there by the flax bush. Yep, a good half dozen runners in here. Start hacking. Two hours later I am inside the hedge and out of the sun. But is it getting hot!!! Ah!! Knock off for lunch; and a good rehydration programme as well. The old fashioned ginger beer is good for this – the Aussies (bless their little cotton sox) are making a commercial product every bit as good as my old man made when I was grasshopper high. Another three hour stint in the afternoon and I was ready to knock off for the day. By this stage I was working along the fence line and had gotten about half the area cleaned out.
This is sounding like a BIG deal, and in some respects it is. The area is not big, perhaps 15 feet on one side and 30 feet on the other. The difficulty is that there is only about 4 feet headroom under the trees, and they are all planted fairly close together – I would guess there are perhaps 15 trees in that space. Not a lot of room left for the likes of me to use a grubber and spade or to haul out runners.
Went down to the pub for dinner – big crowd in there and we ended up parking perhaps 50m down the road. Very nice after a hard day.
Much the same deal as Saturday. Spent some time talking with Maryanne from next door. Learned quite a bit more about the “history” of our place and the front boundary. They would like us to cut back two of the trees in the corner that are blocking their view to the west. No promises, just that we will thin the tops out and see how the trees respond.
There are at least four springs in the area around our place, we have at least one under the house which I am going to have to drain at some time. But that is for the future.
The rest of the morning glory came out. There is one GOOD thing – it does not have thorns. But three days later I can still smell the sap on my hands. I have not had the hives this time – yet. But it sure is potent stuff.
To give you an idea - we have a large “garden bag” of about 200 litres capacity, I can just lift it when it is full of wet grass clippings. The volume of the morning glory that I have extracted from the hedge is about 2 ½ to 3 bags full.
I did not sleep well on Sunday night. I went out like a light but from about 2 I kept waking up with my hands arms and back not very comfortable at all.
Another early start, not because of my not sleeping, but we had planned to get away early to beat as much of the heavy traffic heading into Auckland as we could.
Had lunch early at Matakohe, that was about 11.30 or so. Hit slow heavy traffic at Kaiwaka and settled in for a long and very slow trip. Half an hour later (about 10km down the road) we went through Te Hana (remember Te Hana?) and the slow traffic quite mysteriously disappeared. $$#$%!#$ rubberneckers...
The electronic advisory sign at Wellsford (5 minutes further on) recommended SH16 because of long queues and delays on SH1. All of the ten or so cars in front went that way so NATURALLY we went the SH1 route.
From Wellsford to Howick we stopped twice, traffic lights in Orewa and again in Pakuranga, the rest was fast cruising 80-100k.
And that, dear friends, was how our Easter went.
How was yours?