Oh it looks so serene and angelic

If only you could hear the commentary from these two

“Is this a deer that daddy shot?”

“Baby Jesus needs to hang upside down because he was naughty”

“I think the snow will melt”

“Why are the stars out in the day time?

Possibly not so angelic but beautifully innocent all the same.

Clearly there were giant bugs in the stable too, they may want to look into the health standards there….

The nativity set was brought back all the way from Malta.

Where does one being?

Well it has been four months at our new property and I don’t think we have stopped for air since we arrived and I definitely haven’t stopped to blog.


The barn conversion was completed in time and my 50 calves arrived in staggered deliveries. They are now happily enjoying the lush growth we have after such a wet spring. Even better is the fact that I have managed to sell them all. The added job for Justin was the completion of a 800m long fence to keep the calves out of the newly planted 28ha of pine trees. No small undertaking for a man fairly fresh to fencing.

The hut is up an running and has seen guests nearly every other week since it opened in September. I am getting so much satisfaction sharing our little slice of paradise with the guests and hopefully giving them a beautiful and relaxing space to enjoy.  We even managed to feature in the Marlborough Express, although this was more about Justin’s retirement.


I have inherited a garden which is an incredible feat in the sense that this was rocky pasture and is now a haven of trees bringing in the native birds. The valley weather is fairly harsh, colder in winter and hotter and exceptionally dry in summer. So the planting previously done here reflects the climate, unfortunately for me that means not a large abundance of flowers. I am slowly making a change to that and softening a lot of the garden up but I need to keep in mind that this is a long term project, not overnight. The other element to battle is rabbits and our chickens, they are very free range at the moment and love the taste of roses. I envisioned a beautiful wild, productive cottage garden and yet I have the reality of how it actually looks. I call it red cabbage housing. IMG_5890

The weekend just passed, saw a very productive dig day up on the hill. The first third of the initial downhill track has been cut in which is huge progress from some very dedicated people and one days work. There has been work already and we have a working Cross Country (XC) track which Luca has enjoyed testing out and giving feedback on. IMG_5708

This weekend acted as a kick in the bum for me to get the upstairs of the barn converted for accommodation. It sounds like we are going to have track builders and visitors all summer. I possibly was decorating more in theme with the Taylor Pass Hut and not in keeping with the decor wishes of our guests. But you know what, my barn my decor.


In amongst this all I do find sometime to look after my gorgeous little poppets who are just the best helpers, most of the time. Luca is asserting his project management skill and showing excellent capabilities as a role delegator. Miss A is just doing all she can to keep up with him which means a toilet trained little girl before the age of two, Woo Hoo.


The house has seen some colour changes since we arrived including new curtains in the lounge/dining/kitchen area. Terracotta is not my first choice, contrary to what the latest house and garden may say about it being the in colour. In typical keeping with me I haven’t followed any logic and have made white linen curtains. Not sure how long they will stay white!

I have also repainted the weather board sections on the exterior of the house. It was a mixture of ‘earth’ tones which I previously referred to as ‘poo brown’. It is now ‘Cod Grey’ which is much to my liking but unfortunately not so high on my husbands favourites. Oh well I definitely didn’t offer to repaint the house once it was done.


Ok so that is a flying commentary on my world for the last four month. Hopefully things will settle down a little, but with Christmas looming and the hut booking up I don’t see that happening any time soon.

If you want to see more of the hut you can follow me on all the obligatory social media tools….




Fancy a break?

Here it is…. my latest project settled and ready for guests as of September.

I am very excited that we already have a booking but then slightly anxious at the thought of paying guests coming to stay. I am sure we will learn a lot very quickly and will look back even in a year and see how much we have learnt.

Check out the website

It is also on Facebook

and Instagram


I find myself every morning waking eager to open the curtains. This not only reveals the very dramatic, rural view out the window it also jogs my memory of the jobs to do for the day.
Like always we want a million things done and all of them completed yesterday.

The move itself went without any dramatic events and we even managed to get in before torrential rain the next day. I have had a few people ask how do you do it by yourself? The simple answer is I didn’t. I had a lot of help and the movers now seem like extended family we move so frequently. My biggest solo achievement was loading up the ewes and goat into the trailer and chickens into a box for the animal drop off.  I have said it before but there is something about chickens that freaks me out. I think it’s the dinosaur feet. Apart from some rather random laying and roosting all animals have settled in well.

Justin arrived back into the country 2 weeks after the move (lucky bugger) in time for Luca’s 3rd birthday. Those of you who know me, know my love of baking and birthdays is the ultimate! This years request was under the sea.

With Justin home it was all systems go to get things as sorted as possible in the time he had before flying out again. There are a couple of significant timeframes looming over us. I have 50 calves arriving this month and with no sheds or shelter is was pressure on to get a user/animal friendly set up. We are nearly there. If I was a calf I think I’d like to spend a couple of weeks in here before graduating to the paddock. It turns our that 20m3 of sawdust is quite a lot, especially when the pile is looming over you and your insignificant shovel. 
The other upcoming event is the opening of the Taylor Pass Hut (previously Grantham Glamping). I’ll allocate a whole post to this, although not completed it’s getting closer and guest ready.

Then there are the general jobs that need doing. Pest control, getting the animals settled, meeting the locals and putting our touch on things.

The plant in the last photo was pulled out with the digger and will be replaced with some slightly more friendly and less aggressive plants. I have probably broken some terrible gardening rule, but that thing had to go!

Then there is the view, this is from the hill face looking back towards the house (which you can’t actually see but is to the left). The hill which I took this from is currently being replanted in pine trees and as soon as Justin is home the mountain bike tracks will be underway.

Lucky that Justin is home next week because the list of ‘to do’s’ is growing by the day. Although I have found myself quite happy to muck in a do it myself, in the 4 weeks that he has been gone I have made the nesting box shown above, made a shelter for the lambs, made a unit for a sink and bench to sit on in the calf barn and I am currently resewing the curtains. Everyone is entitled to their own colour preferences, unfortunately for me, a room of terracotta curtains is not my first colour pick.



Take brace positions 

Take brace positions this is really happening.

The sale has confirmed we have the red sticker to prove it and I have the beautiful bottle of champagne to toast to it, cheers for that Andy!

The hut has been loaded and is now nestled in its new home. That sentence makes it sound so straight forward but it was far more hair raising and tense than its simple delivery. Some trees were sacrificed in the name of its new home but nothing that won’t grow back. September is rapidly approaching so as soon as we are in I will get the finishing touches underway outside.

And the view from the bed makes it all worth it. While in there “setting up” last weekend I took a moment to rest on the bed. All I could hear was the river trickling past (not in a toilet inducing way)  the birds singing and feel the sun sneaking in the door to warm my toes, it was bliss.

The move happens this week and conveniently so does the next round of the EWS. Justin flew out to the South of France this morning. A day later than scheduled due to small people sharing their tummy bug. All I can say is thank goodness he didn’t come down with it on the plane!

So it’s the week of countdowns, Luca’s last week as a two year old and our last week in this home. There are so many good people/animals in this valley and we will miss some of them so much. Luckily its only Blenheim and nothing is that far away really.


Luca’s daily visit to Hugo

A rather odd request but if anyone knows of a Donkey looking for a new home, sweet Hugo here has lost his buddy and is rather lonely in his big paddock.

The snowball effect 

This week I found myself mortified in the New World car park. I thought I was unseen until a woman shouted 

“Woo go sister that was agile”. 

It all started months ago, in the space of one week we filed 3 insurance claims. The companies must love us and our premiums. Firstly Luca tried to clean my beautiful and fairly new black truck… with stones. Needless to say it was not black, suave or sophisticated with scratch graffiti down one door panel. 
Miss A then kindly posted some paper, an apple, my Apple (iPhone) and a wooden block down the toilet. I tried the rice in the bag but this little baby wasn’t coming back. So the next claim was filed. Then while out on a training ride for the first time ever Justin’s phone fell out his pocket and smashed on the ground. 3 claims one expensive week. 

Anyway the car was booked in to be repaired and I felt terribly ‘Merivale soccer mum’ when I was given a lovely new white Land Cruiser Prado to drive around in for the week. Unfortunately the kids were sick this week so I only took it out once. Which  leads me to the moral support of a stranger. 

I was treating myself, I handed the kids over and went to the super market alone. (Clearly the standard of treating myself had slipped slightly but needs must for a solo mum). In my purse I had the car keys, but it was keyless entry so I simply opened the top portion of the back window (you can open the window or door) and placed the groceries in the boot. I then neatly threw my wallet through the car onto the front seat, shut the window and walked to the drivers door to get in. 

The door was locked. How could it be locked everything is meant to open when I touch the magic button. Turns out not when you touch the window button. I went back to boot, surely a car that had all the bells and whistles and could probably fly to Saturn if pressed would have an unlock button in the back door panel. Nope, no button. I couldn’t open the boot door I could only open the window. Luckily my fear of this truck being scratched had meant I had parked far away from the door denting riff raff. What else was there to do but sneak a quick look around. As elegantly as one can I then clambered up the back of the truck, through the window, over the groceries and then car seats, did a spider like minouver to get my legs through to the drivers seat and then opened the door. That is when I heard the shout from the car closest to me (but at least 5 parks away). 

“Woo go sister that was agile”. 

“Thanks, no one was meant to see that”. I promptly replied while trying to hide my scarlet face and elegantly get back in my soccer mum beast. Ha yeah right. 
I was very pleased to pick up my truck with very heavily tinted windows today. No one need see my clambering over the seats in that! 

Grantham Glamping

My work in progress has floundered slightly and seems now to have hit the same bump in the road that Justin and I are experiencing. Where is its home to be? The hut is very nearly ready for guests, except for the titivation needed to the surrounding outside. As soon as we know where we are residing there will be planting, dining areas and an outdoor bath to put in.

With a queen size bed, cooking area, shower, toilet, dining table and safety conscious fire (imitation) it seems like a peaceful paradise compared to our chaotic house.

I may have developed a bit too much of a habit for treasure hunting at op shops but I see it as recycling and we are all meant to do our bit to help the earth!  All going to plan this little gem will be ready for guests in Spring.

More photos and links to social media and all the buzz to come soon. Instagram @Granthamglamping 


It won’t take long….

Well here we are nearly 6 months down the track and we are still waiting for confirmation on our house sale. We have a contract on our current place and a contract on the property we want to buy, but everything takes time. I am NOT a patient person and when we listed our house we assured ourselves it would happen within the month or two. This has left me feeling fairly lacklustre on my projects around the place but we should know within the next few weeks.

In the mean time to keep life busy we have been up to all the usual escapades, the children are relentlessly amusing and keeping me on my toes with Justin away.
He is currently in Ireland for the next EWS round, after a fantastic comeback race in Madeira where he finished 14th. This was comeback following the Flu and then Pneumonia at the race prior in Tasmania. Things can only get better for the season I hope!
Since my last post it seems like I have done a lot of one off things;

-I have been a bridesmaid for one of my best friends from High School

-I went to the races and won fashion in the field (my disclaimer on this is a Sunday afternoon in Blenheim doesn’t really inspire high fashion, more clean track pants and Ugg boots)

-I had my mum up to celebrate her birthday

– I completed the St Clair half marathon

-I also found myself last week apologising to strangers. I was leaving the Police station after an educational talk one evening. I was completely in my own bubble only to have it suddenly burst when I missed a step at the entranceway and flew face first onto the footpath. As I scrambled up to my hands and knees, a very kind foreign couple ran to my assistance. I dusted off my palms, checked my bleeding knee and ripped jeans, I then saw how this must look to them. 9.30pm on a Tuesday night this couple sweetly went to get an ice cream from McDonalds when as they are walking past the police station, I come flying out the door and sprawl onto the footpath. The first words out of my mouth were not gratitude for their kind assistance but more an assertive (and I am sure possibly unconvincing) statement given what they had seen,

“I am sober”. (which I was)

I then thanked them kindly and limped away to my car. Well that was embarrassing!


Here I am sober and upright

The kids are just awesome and constantly cracking me up. They have now (finally) started to play together, the peace is short lived but very sweet.

I figured that the best way to tempt fate and get the sale confirmed was to get into my vegetable garden and plant out all my winter brassicas. So far it hasn’t worked but the slugs have enjoyed it.

Children keep you grounded

Clearly when this phrase was first dictated it was misheard or has been misquoted over time. I think It was meant to be children will put you in the ground sooner due to stress.

I my case it is more one child in particular, my darling Luca. I have said from the get go that I am fairly chilled out when it comes to children bumping, spilling and learning from experience but there have been some situations lately which have gone too far. My first case and point, Justin and I were hanging a gate in the barn (get how I just throw that farming terminology in there since this is now a fairly regular occurrence, I could get more technical and say on the gudgeons but that is just showing off) when we hear the little patter of feet. Except these weren’t behind us on the ground they were on the roof of the calf shed, a probably 1.8m off the ground (blue arrow on the left). We both looked at each other puzzled and carried on until we heard them louder and coming towards us. Luca had climbed onto the top of the 3m high barn and was running around on top. This in itself is unsettling to say the least, but Justin and I at the same time realised that the power connection is very low on the shed (arrow on the right). Needless to say Justin’s sprint training came into effect and Luca was very promptly removed from the roof. We both have no idea how he got up there in the first place.



The second was a horrible experience I NEVER want to repeat, I was loading Annabella into the car and came back inside to find Luca with an empty bottle of Paracetamol in his hand, all over his face, body and bed. When I asked how much he had drunk his very smug reply was “lots mummy”. He was promptly bundled into the car and taken to ED to be checked out. Poor Justin was on his leisurely way to a race, when he got the hysterical phone call from ‘the worst mother in the world’ to inform him he needed to meet me at ED. We are so fortunate that all was fine and nothing came of it, but my goodness it scared the life out of me.

Clearly two healthy, happy babies here

So to help make sure that all is safe around here I figured that the more eyes on the children the better so we have had the Canyon Factory Racing Enduro team staying. It worked well for them too, as the first round of the Enduro World Series are in Rotorua next weekend and there was the NZ Enduro here in Blenheim last weekend. Justin raced the first day but unfortunately had to miss the rest as he broke the capsule on his knuckle in a crash. The upside is that this is all healed now and he is on his way North for race prep. The visitors meant that the Shepherds hut has had its first official guests, which went very well. We borrowed a brilliant pop up camper to house two more riders and the rest were fitted into the house. With all the extra people around the house the children thought it was great and they were solely here for their own benefit, entertainment and transport.





I have also seen in my 30th birthday, I am pleased to announce that this year did not see me cleaning up poo from the walls and writing a song about it (see blog entry February 13th 2016).  So like any good mother trying to keep up with it all I got on Printrest and had the beautiful visions of how my Al Fresco party would be in the orchard, think festoon lights, blankets, low tables and dappled sunlight. Unfortunately in the most drought prone area we had a rainy weekend. Justin’s Aunt and Uncle kindly spared us the woodshed and it worked out perfectly. I had such a great night and was surrounded by the most wonderful people, food and conversation. Although given my distinguished age it was a fairly mild night and I had to put my feet up by the end of it.

Just to make sure I wasn’t too full of myself this week Luca has brought me down a peg or two, while driving in the car and doing my best Adele impersonation  (I don’t really want to put this out there but I think I may be better than the real thing)  Luca piped up from the back with no mercy in his voice and said

“Mummy why are you making a hurting noise?”

Well what can you say to that?






The world has gone mad 

I need to get this off my chest, the world is ridiculous. If we have to cater to the lowest common denominator there is no hope for us.

Last week I thought I would be proactive and get some more ink for my printer before it runs out. Not a hard task or request…. so I thought.

Picture this; I manage to pawn the children off for an hour to work through a list of jobs, ploughing my way through I run into the stationary store and search for ages to find the right numbers for our ink cartridges. (Why do they have to make so many bloody options, I want ink that fits and makes things look pretty when I hit print).

The very helpful and kind man comes up after 5 minutes and asks

“how can I help?”

I was possibly already feeling cynical at this stage as I wanted to reply

“I want a kitten thats why I’m looking at ink cartridges”.

But luckily I held it in and said the printer number that I needed the cartridges for. He toddled off to look it up on the computer, which he informed me would take 5 minutes to warm up. (What is it 1990?)

By the time he came back proudly to tell me the numbers I needed I had already  found them, but alas they only had cyan and yellow, no magenta or black. So he said he would go and get some for me. He came back smiling sweetly to inform me that the cartridges that I needed were stored on the shelves above the stand and unfortunately they had a ladder ban from 11am to 4pm and could I please come back then.

Sure, I would love to come back then and let my children run free in your store mixing up all the stupid numbered cartridges and running up and down ladders only to jump off them. Or alternatively you could stock the shelves before your ‘ladder ban’ comes into place.

Turns out it doesn’t pay to be proactive if you want to keep your sanity.