Camille and I are staying in a house in the Marlborough sounds. We have it for a week. It's reasonably isolated. We have to drive at least 9 kilometres along a winding country road if we want a coffee produced by an espresso machine - and for people who are used to stumbling downstairs in the morning to find such a coffee this is the edge of civilisation.
In our drives up and down the country roads in search of coffee we have been noticing there appears to be a letterbox competition in the district as there are a lot of very individual ones out here. One up the road has spinning windmills attached. Another is made of wine barrels. And of course there is the McConchies' finger trimmer.
Something else we have noticed is that everyone has their name outside their gate. We drove past the Fitzgibbons earlier. Just down the road from them are the Hogards. The Hogards have named their property. It's called "Landhaven".
Quite a few people have named their properties and I, in my Judgemental way, have been judging these property owners on the property names and signs. The worst is the person who owns the property named "The Tolly". It's not the name. It's the fact that the sign is around 6 foot wide by 3 foot high. What it really says to me is "A wanker lives here!".
It's something I am going to have to try and get over as Camille seems to be intent on moving down here. Having been here for two whole days now she has started looking at property listings online and talking about selling everything and moving. The minimum price she needs keeps rising. She has been looking for a good part of the afternoon and is up to at least an $800,000 property now. She keeps trying to draw me in:
C: Look - this one has a tractor. You like tractors.
T: How big is it?
C: It looks quite big.
T: How big is the property?
C: About quarter of an acre.
T: Why would you want a tractor on a property that size?
My main criteria is that any place we live has to be at least 50 metres above sea level. Camille understands this as I have explained to her a number of times about the recent Japanese tsunami being over 30 metres in places. She thinks I am worried about earthquake induced tsunami but I'm not. I am aware of a very little known fact and that fact is that the entire Wellington/Marlborough coast is most likely to be inundated by tsunami caused by undersea landslides in the Cook Strait trench. There is a lot of evidence of past tsunami caused by these landslides in the Cook Strait region and the general feeling among people who study these things is that when one does happen its likely to roll over much of the low lying land and the funnelling effect in the Sounds will lift the wave higher.
I like to be prepared.
Having just read the above, Camile has told me she doesn't want to know about the possibilities of disaster where ever she is and I am to stop keeping her informed. I think this is very short sighted of her.
So we have this place for a bit over a week. We prepared for this in our usual fashion. We packed. We packed well. We packed 2 laptops, 2 tablet computers, 1 harddrive loaded with movies and music, one video camera, one still camera, 1 flip video camera, 2 e-readers, a quality laptop speaker unit, extension cords, 4 way plug units, a number of dead tree books, my sharp knives and various other kitchen utensils, a good pan, small casserole pot, 8 bottles of good wine, a guitar, some clothing.
Then we went shopping.
The car was loaded. It sagged at the back end. We could barely squeeze the dog in. How can two people and one small dog require so much stuff?
We don't, of course. However, when one enters a packing frenzy it's hard to stop - at least it is for us. We really require a bystander, a referee perhaps, to call a halt when we pass the point of reasonableness. We need an umpire to haul us back into line. We need a siren to go off and somebody to yell, "Put the bag down and step away from the car".
What's really galling for me is that with all of the above packed and squeezed into the car I still managed to forget the pepper grinder!
I feel bereft!
However, it has been good so far. I am beginning to relax and do little. I have managed to stay in bed past past my usual 5:20am rising time. I still wake up but at least I'm not leaping out of bed enthusiastically and into the shower as is my usual wont. I am reading several books - Black Hawk Down, The Growth of the Spanish Inquisition, The Civilisation of Europe in the Rennaisance, and have just started CS Lewis' Space Trilogy (book one: Out of the Silent Planet). There has been crap on TV and I have remained in front of it. I have read the news online in the morning and ignored the Internet the rest of the day.
This is all good.