Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Weekend of Good Things

I wish I could sleep in on a Sunday morning. It's not a skill I've ever learned. This morning I woke up at 7.30am, registered that it was lovely and sunny outside and managed to rein myself in long enough to listen to the 8am news. After finding out that Kerry Prendergast has been voted back in as mayor (so now I can hassle Hamish that it's his fault for the next three years, as he forgot to send in his papers), I got dressed and headed off to the farmer's market in Willis/Victoria Street.

This is only the second time I've been to this market, and it's not what I would technically call a farmer's market. The Californian grapes and nectarines could hardly be described as local. Somehow I also doubt that the av0cados were grown within 150 miles of Wellington. However most of the produce looked fresh, and it was certainly much cheaper than buying from a supermarket. There was a good range of Chinese vegetables and herbs, although this was very much a fruit and vegetable market, without any other forms of produce. It was very social though, and I struck up some interesting conversations between the crates of cauliflower and apples. I was able to point one lovely man in the direction of the tree tomatoes (tamarillos), and theorised on the philosophy of queuing with another lovely woman who was marveling at the size of a nearby cauliflower.

I sized up the various offerings of asparagus before selecting from a crate of lovely, slender stalks. I treated myself to some of the tamarillos and some Packham pears (I'm pretty certain the pears weren't local, although I'm not so sure about the tamarillos). I couldn't pass up another punnet of strawberries either. I filled up with red capsicum (half the price of supermarkets), courgettes and a firm, shiny aubergine (is it the right season?). I added some mandarins and oranges, and I was done. I strolled back towards Brooklyn Hill, watching in amusement as cars vied to park as close as possible to the market, no doubt all competing to be as eco-friendly as possible.

I arrived home just as Hamish was mashing up a couple of old bananas that had been languishing in the fruit bowl. He whipped up a batch of some of the lightest, fluffiest banana pancakes ever. While he was doing his thing with the pancake pan I chopped up the strawberries and covered them with some organic yoghurt, then drizzled the bowl with a little honey. We ate the pancakes with the last of our Canadian maple syrup, the last of the lemon curd and the strawberries. Delicious! It was too windy to eat them on the veranda, but it was sunny in the lounge and pleasantly warm.

At 1.00 we wandered up the road to an open home. Our friend Rose lives in one of two semi-detached townhouses a few minutes' walk from us. They are quite well built, with a large balcony off the living area, three good bedrooms, a huge main bathroom and nice ensuite (with under-floor heating). They're warm and low maintenance, private, West-facing for good afternoon sun, and they have internal access garaging. If we were sensible we'd be living next door to Rose instead of in our lovely old villa that needs things doing to it and that we don't have time to maintain. But hey, I've talked before about how much I love this house of ours.
We did spend a lovely hour or so sitting out on Rose's balcony however, drinking tea and discussing the relative merits of each townhouse. If I were in the market I wouldn't hesitate to put an offer in, but I'm kind of settled where I am.

Back at home I spent a couple of hours claiming the garden back from the weeds and listening to the Americana show on the Tivoli. The soil doesn't seem too worse for wear given that it hasn't had any attention since last summer. A pleasing amount of natives have self-seeded in that time. The flax and Punga are taking up an increasing amount of space, and the Hebe is getting taller and taller. Amazingly, the Rhododendron in the middle of it all is flourishing. I'm concerned that it will get over-run, particularly as I plan to plant more natives around it. I may need to transplant it before it grows too much more.

My whole approach to this garden has changed. When I first moved here I wanted to turn it into the classic English country garden. Now I love all the natives and the bird and insect life they attract. Right now the Tuis are loving the Kowhai tree and a fantail is flitting around the courtyard. There's a lot of bush in our neighbourhood, and I like to think it provides a green corridor for birds from the Sanctuary passing through to the Mt Cook/Mt Victoria town belts. Certainly the Kaka seem to have adopted this area as their own.

Next weekend I'll finish off weeding the middle garden and tidy up the edging. After that I'll move up and tidy the top of the garden, then drop back down and have another go at the courtyard. After that I'll head off to a garden store to ask about composting and to get some tips about extending the garden. Most of the lawn up there has been over-run by onion weed, so that will have to be dealt to first.

The top of the garden can be maintained but the larger part of the work is in the bottom of the garden. The blackberry is growing up around the cabbage tree again. Last summer's cuttings are still heaped up in the box garden and need to be put through a mulcher and disposed of. I need to fill the box garden with some decent soil, and then I can finally turn it into the vegetable garden I've been hanging out for. It sounds straight-forward, but it's hugely labour intensive, as it takes so long to get the garden waste up to the road, and the soil down to the garden. As I've said before, it's 46 steps down to the house, and the bottom of the garden is a long way further down from that!

A little housework and a bit more lounging around in the sun, some time in the kitchen cooking up a pot of Minestrone, and the day was nearly over. I've been left feeling energised and keen to get back to the gym in the morning ahead of a busy week at work. A little exercise, a little socialising, a little time in the sun and some good food. All of this makes me feel like the world is revolving around me and I'm keeping perfect pace.

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