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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

8 April 2014 - Happy Birthday to me

I bought this last year thinking I'd fly it today and Friday week. At least it's getting to fly today.

I first got up at 4.45am. D.C. was already up looking for her radio so she could listen to it at 6.30, so as I was awake I decided to take a trip up the back. One of the stars was really bright, brighter than any of the other stars in the sky and I wondered if it could be Mars, since it’s closer to the Earth than it has been for a few years. It also had a red tint to it, which was promising, but all that I could see through the binoculars was a white blur. So I gave up and went back to bed.

When I finally got up for real (after getting a “Happy Birthday” from D.C.) and had another trek up the back, I was greeted by a Fantail – my favourite bird. This one swooped up from behind me to sit on a Koromiko branch and then it buzzed the top of my head – about 15 cm above me!

As they eat insects, maybe it was telling me that it’s time to wash my hair?

I think it’s right.

I opened the presents that had travelled with us before breakfast.
Last night I had only just managed to upload the day’s blog when the computer told me that I was out of minutes. As I’d run out of minutes on Saturday night and had bought 3 gigabytes for $49 on Sunday at 12.49pm (according to Telecom’s web site) and had done nothing more taxing than check emails, upload blogs, and read the usual web sites (and had nothing to do with uploading or downloading photographs or videos, which are real data hogs) I knew that we couldn’t have used 3 GB. The Telecom web site supported that saying that I’d used about 49 megabytes plus the “free” 60 MB I’d qualified for. As there’s about 1027 MB in one GB, something was seriously out of kilter. So today, using my “only for emergencies” cell phone and wasting the phone’s, the computer’s, and the modem’s batteries I rang up Telecom. It took about five minutes, but I will give Telecom credit for fixing the problem without any fuss and giving me back my 3 GB. This means I’ll be able to upload photos next week. Not that haven’t taken any so far.

The rest of the day I spent doing what I enjoy doing: writing Thunderbirds stories. Not that today’s effort flowed particularly well, and reading back what I’ve written over the past weeks/months/years I can see that it’s going to need some major tweaking before it’s ready to be posted on the Internet, but it was fun. I’ll be able to do more later, but for a lot of the time I’ll be conserving my computer’s batteries as it take over 12 hours for it to charge from the solar panel. However today was my day for some major writing! And I’ve only used about 30% of my battery.

We’ve had a fantastic selection of birds today. Not only plenty of Fantails up close, and darting around in the distance, but we’ve heard the Tui, and a mob of Silvereyes were feeding on the Coprosma berries. The terns have been roosting on the old wharf too, and I just watched them diving into the water to catch fish. We’ve also had kingfishers about (watch out skinks!) and a few Rosellas – which isn’t so good because they are Aussies who compete with our native parrots. But they are pretty with their bright plumage. We haven’t seen the quail or Kakariki this time, but we’ve still got a couple of days here. But one thing that I really noticed, was that the first bird I heard this morning (when it was finally daylight) was a Fantail, not the Black-back Gulls that we get in summer when they’re protecting their chicks in one of the largest roosting areas in the country. I also saw a Grey Warbler tonight. (Or as one of our Brownie Leaders used to say, a “Grey Wobbler”)

Dinner tonight was boil in the bag Butter Chicken. Nice, but not particularly special. That’s okay. We’ll go out to dinner when in Wellington.

While we were having tea tonight we heard a kind of a bang. Not a loud one, but loud enough for us both to look each other and wonder what it was. We couldn’t see anything untoward, so didn’t worry about it until I went out to make our second cup of tea. Not only was the gas burner burning, there were flames coming out of the area where the nozzle of the gas canister was. I turned off the stove and popped the canister free, so gas couldn’t come out of it.

The flames disappeared… After a moment.

Later, when we had the kettle on to boil the water for doing the dishes the same thing happened, so our water wasn’t as hot as we would have liked. We’re going to have to have a look at it tomorrow to see if it’s the cooker or the gas cylinder that’s the problem. In the meantime the two bits aren’t together and, as usual, we’ve got plenty of windows open.

The problem is that we only have the one cooker. D.C. discovered tonight that we don’t have any canisters for the other one and we can’t mix and match the two. The Warehouse has recently got in a two-headed cooker that uses two of the same cylinders of the type that blew tonight. This would be handy for (like tonight) making our dinner and boiling the kettle for our cuppa at the same time. We may have to seriously consider at least one of us heading to Auckland tomorrow – Either that or we spend the rest of the time living on cold, tinned food and dried Weetbix. Or hope that the reason why we’re not using the cooker that’s been sitting unused for the last year or so isn’t too catastrophic.

We’ll make that decision over our toast tomorrow.

Once we had the gas disconnected and the fire out, and we were drinking our tea, we noticed the sunset. We get some glorious ones from Rangitoto, largely because of Auckland’s pollution or Australia’s bushfires. Tonight’s was made up a pastel shades of pink and blue, so we grabbed our cameras and took off halfway up the mountain.

Okay. So maybe that was a little exaggeration.

All right: it was a big one! You don’t suddenly decide to climb Auckland’s tallest peak in jandels and oversized slippers. But we did get as far as the “parade ground”, a clear flat area that was either made as a parade ground, or, to keep up with the bach holders at Islington Bay, tennis courts. (We’ve never heard a definitive answer.) Nowadays it’s more likely to be used as a helicopter landing pad. But the sky was blood red behind the trees. I can only hope that the camera captured it.
I hope you can see this. Click on it and you'll see it full size. I haven't worked out how to shrink the file size on this computer yet.
By the time we got back it was dark, so we did the dishes and went to bed. The time is now 7.15pm. 

Google's present to me on my birthday!

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