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Outnumbered by Bayleys
The ratio of Bayleys to Blalocks present in the Blayley house went up dramatically in November. John's mother and sister, Daphne came for a visit. Before they could come though John had to finish the guest room, or at least get the floor in. At some point in its history, we believe the house had a garage. When the renovation and expansion was done 20 years ago, it seems a small bedroom was made out of part of the garage, and the other half was left relatively unfinished. A raised wooden floor was built in the bedroom, but the cement floor was left in the unfinished part. Over the past year, we have put quite a bit of time into this room, removing a wall, and closet, and taking down all the old wallboard and water damaged ceiling material, adding insulation, putting up new wallboard, and stripping paint from windows. You can see some of the details in a previous diary entry. Anyway, the room was looking pretty nice after all the plastering was done, but we still needed to finish the floor. John was quite eager to do this himself and checked out books from the library and did a fair amount of research. We bought recycled floorboards from a shop that specialised in parts from old houses, and John has built the finest floor in the house. It is quite solid, doesn't creak at all, and looks very nice. He will point out all sorts of imperfections, but it is really very nice. He managed to get the room painted the day before his mom arrived, and we finally moved bedroom furniture back into that room. For the last 4 months, the front bedroom has been filled with the bed, dresser, chest, two nightstands, plus all our office stuff and cycling clothes. You could just about get the door open and get a cycling jersey out of that room. Now we have two more bedrooms in the house and it is grand!
We ran out of time to get the floor sanded and polished, so that won't happen til January, and we'll wait to put in the skirting boards til then too - at which time I'll get some pictures of the finished room. It is really quite nice and is the largest bedroom in the house - and it's the guest room - so bring on the guests!
I must say the cats seem quite happy to have a second bed. They tend to follow the sun around and like the skylight over the guest bed! Although Diabolo seems to enjoy his perch in the shade on the deck too.
Muriel and Daphne left winter behind in Ireland and had a few days to recover from jet lag in Fiji before coming to Nelson. It was good they got some rest, because we kept them on the run the entire time they were here. John and I slipped away the first Saturday to do a little 280 km. bike race, while Daphne and Muriel drove up to Marahau to check out the first part of the Abel Tasman walking track.
After recovering from our long ride, we all headed west. About 100 km. from the coast, John and I got out of the car, and rode our bikes down to Westport while Daphne and Muriel drove. Given the obvious difference in speed, Daphne and Muriel had time to head down to the Pancake Rocks before joining up with us in Westport for dinner and a good night's rest.
The next day, John and I took off on the bikes, heading north to Karamea, while the ladies went out to check out seals just south of Westport The west coast has a reputation for being the wet coast, with lots of rain, but it was spectacularly sunny while we were there.
The following day, we all drove up to the start of the Heaphy track, where we'd read about a short loop walk that was good for those with physical impairments. Muriel suffered a stroke a few years back and has some left side paralysis. We'd warned her to stay in good walking shape for the trip here, since we'd have her out walking all the time. We didn't tell her we have her hiking all the Great Walks, but she's well on her way to getting back in shape now!
Swing Bridges are quite common here, and Muriel can now say she has hiked across one!
We came back to Nelson for a few more days of lovely weather. Muriel managed to make friends with Echo, the lap cat.
We then headed off for a few days on the east coast. We first went out to the Marlborough Sounds for a night at what has become our favourite backpackers hostel, Mahana Homestead on Endeavour Inlet. Our hosts John and Ann made us feel right at home and prepared a fabulous meal! John and I managed to get out for a bike ride the next morning before we all headed to Blenheim to taste some wine. We had a fabulous lunch and tasting at St. Clair, followed by dessert and tasting at Highfield. Between the two, we came away with a case of wine, which sad to say we have already polished off, with bottles in the recycle bin!
We continued on to Kaikoura for the night, after stopping to view more seals along the way. We stayed in a holiday home in Kaikoura that seemed to come complete with an Echo look-alike. This adorable little Birman kitten came up to the door and right inside and made friends with all of us. We named her Skittles, because she was a bit jumpy at times. I would have loved to bring her home, but we thought of her heartbroken family (likely the folks next door to the holiday home), and we knew our cats would be none too happy with a new little one!
The next day Muriel and Daphne went on a whale watch, while John and I did a little bike ride in the rain. Fortunately the ladies didn't have rain, but it was quite overcast. It's a real shame, because the views here are magnificent as the mountains practically touch the sea.
We then headed into Christchurch for a day of gardens, museums and shopping. The final night on the road was spent at Hanmer Springs, where Daphne and I enjoyed a lovely long soak in the Thermal pools. Upon returning to Nelson, Muriel was all worn out!
We did a bit more local sightseeing back in Nelson, visiting various gardens and outdoor lunch spots along the way.
The gals seemed to enjoy themselves while they were here, gaining a great appreciation for our wonderful weather, wine and real fruit ice cream. Muriel positively walked herself into shape while here and has promised to keep up the good work back in Ireland. I believe Daphne has offered bribes of cappuccino at the local shopping mall for walks around the perimeter, and John and I expect to hear about lots of coffee being consumed!
Now that the ratio of Bayleys to Blalocks is back to even, John and I are quite busy putting the finishing touches on the house, riding and walking lots in preparation for our upcoming tramps and bike tours and just relaxing and having a good time with our last summer in New Zealand. Christmas is the middle of the summer is odd, but we'll cope.