Friday, 23 December 2011


Well, as some of you will already know, we decided to up-sticks and move from Christchurch and start again in the North Island ....and we chose Auckland.
Why? - I hear you all ask - South Islanders refer to Aucklanders as Jafas -(as in 'just another friendly Aucklander' - oh yes it is - they have never heard of that other 'f' word north of the Bombay Hills!)

After the demolition of TWH, our hearts were no longer in a city we had come to love over the previous 44 years - we could not see the recovery happening in our lifetime - especially when they announced an expected 85% of the buildings in the inner city area would have to be demolished. The Phoenix that rises in its place will be wonderful - but it will be a young persons' city - the likes of our age group need to see the sunshine sooner and I for one had felt that earthquakes were no longer on my bucket list!

We are fortunate that we can start over again and have chosen the suburb of Devonport in Auckland because we found a wonderful house ( a converted Gospel Hall - circa 1898).

There are other reasons too - Devonport has a wonderful village feel yet is only 15 mins from downtown Auckland by ferry ( free to over 65's ) - which is just a short walk away ( not far from a wonderful boutique wine shop - surprised??)
We can reach the airport in half an hour - great motorways - (we had been wondering where all the Road User Charges had been going over the years) and Len has two major motor racing circuits less than an hour away. All he needs is the car fully assembled and he will never be available to mow the lawn.
Must tell you though - we have downsized (NOT) - when they did the insurance valuation  we found that our new home is 20 sq.m larger than TWH - told you I wasn't ready to downsize - even though my collections were depleted somewhat - but I can rise to that challenge too.
However the garden is definitely smaller.. less lawn to mow... I sense a plot here (ok- bad pun!) .

Ultimately - we will build a little Weston House (still love the style) - but for the next couple of years we will wallow in all the extra room and have a life - do lunch - visit friends - and journey between the Islands (North & South) visiting friends and family and giving them respite from the continuing shakes.
Christchurch today was rocked by a further series of nasties - I almost wept for my friends and my other life - this last 15months have been cruel but we are the lucky ones and feel truly blessed by this - we are no more deserving than others.

We have also been overwhelmed by the attention received from all the friends we have made over the years through TWH - you have touched our hearts in the nicest possible way - we love you all - there were very few that were marked as 'not wanted on the rest of life's journey' and anyway they wouldn't read my blog, would they? Only nice people keep up....

We wish you all a very, very happy Christmas and I would write to you all individually (email that is) but my mailing lists were pretty scrambled by the Feb Quake. Even worse ... I have just bought a new computer - I must have been having a senior moment but I decided to change the technology - I bought an iMac.....Well it's like buying a great pair of shoes - these things are so damn stylish.
Our daughter Rebecca considers them the 'creme de la creme' of the computer world and 'intuitive'.
BUT they aren't PC's and they don't do the stuff I want yet and I can't find the 'intuitive' command either or the Spider Solitaire program.Crazy old woman brain is addling.....what is a comfort zone anyway???? So life's a journey.....

I will continue with my Blog ...there is always gossip...even if I have to resort to making some of it up.....

Here's to a Better and Brighter 2012 ...we all deserve it!

Best Wishes
Len & Stephanie

Sunday, 14 August 2011


We are en route to the UK to finish the holiday so rudely interrupted last year by a series of earthquakes, which at the time, we had little comprehension as to how far reaching  the effects would come to be.
This is our story of how we have been affected , how we have survived and our hopes for the future.
On that fateful morning on September 4th, we had just left Portafino heading to Pisa when the cell phone began ringing - we thought - oh- just Kate and Peter arrived in Italy and wondering if we could join up for a little Vino o'clock. But after 2 message tones we decided we needed to get petrol pulled off the motorway and our whole world turned upside down.
Our daughter had texted us and I was immediately concerned that something was wrong with our family after all it was only just after 4am in NZ - so I rang - too concerned to read  the texts. I was stunned Christchurch had just suffered a major earthquake and though they were alright physically they were sheltering in the door frame, in total darkness, while they continued to be shaken by aftershocks. Our grandson did not wake initially but he was thrown out of his bed and Pascal struggled to find him - our newborn granddaughter was being sheltered in that time honoured way by her loving and protective mother - happily at the breast -no bottle feeding for this family.
Daylight brought shock -and the dreadful sight of all that nasty liquefaction - now part of our vocabluary - broken roads, bridges and buildings- but no lives lost. That was to come later  -in February. But in the meantime parts of Christchurch suffered dreadfully - living without electricity (open fires are a thing of the past in Christchurch - pollution producers) some areas without water and large areas of Christchurch reduced to using 'port-a-loos' .
The City itself, was relatively unscathed, some buildimgs down and damage appeared cosmetic - chimneys  and the like. But news was scant, and we had no idea what we were returning home too - we heard all the sensational stuff and no one at home knew what was going on for that first dawn.  Day after day they suffered aftershocks and many of them strong enough to further stress buildings and people. But  even though the 'experts' warned us to expect more we didn't really believe them - we didn't want too - we just wanted to repair and rebuild.
The Weston House had lost all its chimneys and there was extensive damage to slate and cracks to interior plaster but being covered by the 'magic' EQC (Earthquake Commission) insurance scheme instigated after the Napier Quake in 1929 we though we were ok. We also believed that all would be sorted and paid for with efficiency. Well that was dream number one!
We had the plans drawn up - all dutifully done by a heritage architect - and then we waited and we waited and the EQC didn't come - we could carry out emergency weather tight repairs up to a value of $2000 per repair (inc tax).Somehow by persistence and sheer bloody mindedness I got through and began to collect the names and phone numbers of real people not call centre operators out of Brisbane. Yes, I know call centre operators are not deliberately obstructive and initially the infrastructure wasn't there to deal with  the huge number of claims from an earthquake on this scale. They have a job to do but everyday since Sept 2010 we have had letter after letter to the paper complaining about the stone wall  that is the EQC and the frustration felt by claimants  would have you questioning their job training - do they have a training module called  'make 'em mad 101'  and  its companion  'Putting people on hold while playing soothing music - till they hang up'
Luckily,for us, payment came through within 6 weeks (damage was over their limit so a full payout was required) but could work start? Oh, don't be silly - no, it couldn't . We had the various CCC depts to deal with - Heritage, Building  etc etc etc. This was infuriating - we have a long history of conservation at TWH, we have obeyed all the rules, we have hired the right architects and craftsmen - our work has been acknowledged with awards. Did this count NO - we were put through the mill - every which way - I was teetering on losing the plot . But although they share the same buildings these people do not seem to talk to each other and if they can make life difficult they will - must be a power thing. Well I didn't have time or patience for this - I didn't appreciate being lectured to about the imortance of the building , we already knew this , after all it was one of the reasons we lavished so much TLC on it but we had a business to run and bookings to honour ( and of course now I can speak my mind - we no longer have an Historic House - the 'powers- that- be' no longer have any power as far as we are concerned )  but they made our life hell and ate up a large swag of cash in the process ...just doing their job - yeah right!
We planned to be back in business by O1 November and we scraped through mainly by making sure that some of the tradesmen were set finish dates well ahead of this. We generally employ small operators known to us and they have performed brilliantly for years . But the roofers - well less said the better - but another battle. They were great when they were a small firm but the earthquake was an opportunity for expansion and the quality went down .
November came and success, we were back up and running - our home still bore the scars internally and by now we decided this cosmetic stuff should wait - the Guest accommodation was back to pristine and the small plaster cracks on our side of the house could be explained and understood. Wine o'clock was back in business - Eggs Benedict were on form and the banter continued. Once again we shared our wonderful home with a stream of magic people from all over the world. We had our usual couple of days off at Christmas but in the early hours of 26th December that started to come unstuck with some nasty little blighters - shuddering, loud and close by. We were hit with a cluster of quakes within the City area.
I coped with the first 5 or 6 .... we had learnt not to be afraid... we were in fact quite laid-back by now. But at 10.30am we were hit within a minute by a 4.9 at AMI stadium (about 3km away - earthquakes are by direct route , don't follow the road and don't stop at the lights!) and one around 4.3 on the other side of Hagley Park. That scared the living 'bejesus' out of me - you see I was standing at the top of the stairs - looking down - and I watched our home twist as we were caught like the meat in a sandwich –TWH tried to tear itself apart . The house filled with mortar and chimney dust (including soot- ugh) and all the work we had completed inside was undone and then some. Large cracks appeared - some quite disturbing - I could no longer sleep upstairs and found I could not actually spend any large period of time up there. Large heavy nightstore heaters toppled - this was serious stuff.
We closed the B and B (hoping to re-open in time for the RWC 2011) - called in the architect again plus a seismological engineer and planned extensive repair and strengthening work - we still had faith in the repair process. I inwardly groaned at the bureaucrapsy that would follow - more petty battles - more ego massaging - more frustration. We were ready but they were not - we would have to move out - horror of horrors - while roofing was removed, floorboards lifted around the entire perimeter and strengthening commenced.
I suppose in a way the fact that decisions were, as usual, grinding exceedingly slowly saved zillions because on Feb 22 we were hit by the biggy - the record breaker - the soul destroyer.
As you know by now, Len and I were in the house - we both threw ourselves under tables - assumed the position - 'the turtle' - I prefer to call it fetal bordering on faecal. As Len dived under the table so many of you have eaten at - it was hit and damaged by a huge piece of plaster that fell of the ceiling - right where he was eating his lunch - he could have been killed.I threw myself under the desk in the office - hauled my office chair towards me - as the contents of the dresser in the office hurtled towards me. Of course I was terrified - but I didn't have time to think I could be killed and my life , even the interesting parts, did not flash before my eyes. I remained completely continent - which was a great relief. I was on the phone to Brian from Tomahawk (IT/Marketing people from heaven -small Ad break) - he heard the horrific noise, he heard the breaking of china, he heard me scream - then the phone died and poor soul he thought I had been killed. Yes, it was that bad - the media reports were horrifying in their descriptions but they under estimated the damage and the resulting trauma of the communications were out. Some time later Brian was relieved to hear we were ok ... it must have been horrible for him - not that I would have been such a loss to humanity - but it was a very nasty ear-witness account for anyone to experience.
When the shaking stopped ( and be aware here that it was 4 times stronger than that quake in Japan 3 weeks later, due to the trampoline effect of the location and surrounding ) all was deafeningly quiet and still ( but not for long within 10mins we had another biggy). By then Len and I were flying around like demented idiots rescuing treasures that had not been smashed - the story of which appeared in a previous blog. We were in 'leaping buildings in a single bound' mode - and believe you me with furniture having fallen and smashed it wasn't easy. The large Linen Press upstairs had fallen over and I crawled through the gap to rescue my jewellery for which both I and the Insurance Company are extremely grateful. We had a huge hole in the front of the house reaching from upstairs to down - we lifted and pulled my Granny's chaise-longue to safety away from the weather and the hole to be rescued later. We filled both cars with paintings, silver etc and yes, as you know, wine, knickers & perfume and retreated to The George car park to try and contact people. Pascal had called in to see us on his way home - the family were ok - the relief unimaginable.
The crowds streamed homewards or to shelter in Hagley Park in silence. It was all very strange and it was later that we realized many of these people had seen things that no one should witness in their lives - these scenes would be permanently etched on their brain and that suffering would take a long ime to fade- if ever.
(At the moment the plane is flying over Asia - it is turbulent and it's shaking about a lot - if I wasn't typing - I would be drinking or spilling it - this writing is very cathartic)
We arrived at the home of our dear friends Brian (different Brian)  and Dale around 4.30pm - via Papanui - and other than a bit of liquifaction and a couple of badly damaged buildings all seemed serene. Oh yes, they had been badly shaken too but the ground is shingle not peaty river sand of the Eastern Suburbs.
That night the damage was shown on TV and we were stunned - our Iconic Christchurch buildings were gone or too badly damaged to repair - 250 to 300 people were missing - our beloved City was in ruins. All within 30 seconds of intense shaking.
The Eastern seaside suburbs had damage beyound belief - roads, bridges , the estuary had sunk - the suburb of Bexley was knee deep in liquifaction and the cliff edges of Sumner and Redcliffs had crumbled taking many beautiful houses with them. Fabulous Fendalton homes were in ruins and destined for demoliton.
To date they estimate 10,000 homes will have to go..... That's the lives of at least 20,000 to 30,000 people in ruins. The scale of repair is huge and the cost astronomical - one of the highest claims in the world to date.Why? Because of the high numbers of home ownership in NZ and the availability of Earthquake Insurance ( bet that disappears - certainly has for unreinforced masonary structures). Some land is so badly damaged the Government is buying it from the owners so that they can rebuild elsewhere .
Our own home was mortally wounded.
But that was only the beginning of the end...what was to follow in the next 5 months - stretched our resolve to the very limit.
First - we were behinds the army/police cordon with 24 hrs - so inaccessible.Then we were "red-stickered' - too dangerous to enter.But they were on the front doors so we went round the back! With fleeting visits, hard hats, letting people know where we were , acting on the advice of our engineer we made fleeting adrenaline fueled raids to rescue our possessions.Our actions were not condoned by our family at all and I apologize to them for that - but Andrew snowboards in the French Alps in extreme conditions and Rebecca has travelled to frightening 3rd world countries over many years - so they got to share our stress - I am treading on thin ice here left alone. Afterall maturity is optional or preventable when one is over 60!
After 13 June , when we had the double whammy of the 5.8 followed an hour later by a 6.3 - that was it for us - what was left in the house would stay in the house .
Yet we still fought on - Council and Historic Places Trust - both determined it could be fixed - CERA ( the ultimate and unchallengable power - like martial law - that powerful) caved in and listed us for demolition on 20 June. Our south east wall had blown out and my clothing was either on view to all or at the bottom of a pile of bricks below. I was standing looking one day when a woman suggested that if we had a fishing rod we could 'score' that nice jacket - she meant no harm and I apologized for my response! Another day I was floored by the remark of a boy about 8 or 9 years old who asked me a question then said it must have been a very beautiful house. I could have hugged him but had to turn away to hide my tears.
But then the house was broken into on at least 2 occasions - electrical and computer equipment was strewn around the property..must have been done at night and things were stacked for removal and then they must have been disturbed ...
The worst and darkest day was yet to come - and that was not the day of demolition - it was the days before - when the salvage people moved in. I didn't want them in the house - it was too risky by that stage - and I didn't want any deaths or injuries on my conscience. I thought they would take the obvious salvage like doors , windows, fireplaces...beyound my control and  subcontracted by Demolition company - I suppose it is implied permission , disguised in small print in a contract signed with the insurance company.
But they stripped our house - I was numb - everything left went. Is this the way of the world?
Is this ok? Was I given a choice...well after a confrontation about my presence (they didn't know who I was - but very soon did!) I asked for a pair of shoes in a distinctive box....answer straight out of Catherine Tate - "Shoes , dear? No, dear -  they went two hours ago ".
They offered to let me into my own house - but I couldn't go in - it wasn't safe and I knew that  seeing what was left  would be my final impression - leave me to my dreams I said and walked away - heart broken. Some things were returned after huge protest - photos and a very small part of my Mother's Spode  dinnerset - minus the dinner plates  and luncheon plates! The doors we had specifically requested turned up the day before we left for the UK  - thanks to the intervention of the insurance company and the demolition firm ( in no doubt due in some small part to my constant bitching - did I say that???? You bet I did - Maxine  and Me - we rock!)
Two days later the house was demolished.
Where our future is we have no idea..... but I will let you know - we have firm friendships with so many of you - how could we not - anyway we may visit you for a drink and a natter someday. I can't see us operating a Bed and Breakfast again - how could you top TWH?
Since Sept 1010 we have been shaken , stirred and scarred but our story is one of many shared experiences with our fellow Cantabrians . None of us have gotten off scot-free many have suffered pain beyond description but we are all grateful for you concern and support.
Our homes and our city may be gone but our memories are intact . Len and I were priviledged  to have owned, lived in and loved one of NZ's most beautiful homes -we were blessed. We were able to share this with many wonderful guests - we were doubley blessed. Our Christchurch family have survived and our son Andrew, in France ,was not here - we were tripley  blessed. We have a lot to be grateful for.
My heart goes out to Pedro from Pedro’s Restaurant who lost his home in September then his restaurant  in February and his beloved only son on the same day – our loss pales into insignificance in comparison. He is one of many who’s losses are too dreadful to contemplate.
We are all a very small speck of dust in the geological history of the world....and here we are off to riot torn London on board a plane that has just spilt my wine...I must have words with the Pilot!
God bless you all.

ROSS BECKER'S PICASA ALBUMS OF OUR SHATTERED CITY - ROSS HAS BECOME THE OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER OF CHRISTCHURCH'S HORRIFIC JOURNEY. His photographs chronicle the tragedy that has hit our city  - this is a nation's sorrow. A photo taken of TWH appears here RossBeckerNZ/InsideThe4AvenuesNotRedZone

Please (if you have time) go back through my previous earthquake blogs - these are our personal stories but there are many links to various websites which contain information which explains the events that have changed our history.

Monday, 20 June 2011


It is with deep regret that we have to announce that The Weston House is to be demolished.

The earthquakes and aftershocks ( all 7,000 of them ) may have taken our home and business plus 25% of our possessions but they haven't taken our spirits - well not quite.
Like everyone in Christchurch we have existed in a war zone especially since February when we suffered the earthquake from hell.

The Weston House was cordoned off for weeks and under Army guard and Police control. As you know our location borders the "Red Zone" or CBD 'no-go' area.The heart of the City is in an awful state with whole areas set for demolition and is not the City we loved any more.

It WILL rise again but at the present it is hard to visualize - we are all too tired to think that far ahead.I think that the double hit last Monday shook us to the core. We are being hit from every direction with quakes along previously unknown faults - no doubt setting each other off. But every time this happens we get a new series of aftershocks and the time frame for the earth settling down stretches out to another year. It sure tests your faith....

But I would hate you to think we are the only ones suffering - there are thousands worse off than ourselves.Those in the low lying eastern suburbs have been hit again by foul liquefaction while those on the spectacular sea facing cliffs of Sumner and Redcliffs have watched their homes plunge or left balanced on the very edge. Earthquake damage shows no respect for any sector of society and strikes where the land is weakest.

Hundreds of volunteers have turned out to help clear up the mess but the affected still have no news or decisions regarding their futures.
We have had our own battles - the demolition, which we have fought for since February - was scheduled to start today - but although classed as urgent - they are minus a piece of paper and now could be delayed upto 2 weeks.
TWH has been terminal since 22 February ,which inflicted terrible wounds on an already damaged building.
We were lucky to escape with our lives and any suggestion that repair was an option filled us with horror.
The three 'who's  have ruled our lives and fuelled our battle
- who will pay?
- who would insure us?
- who would stay here anymore?
I feel like Mrs Schwarzenegger .... I have fallen out of love with my home - it has been unfaithful to me and will soon lie broken at my feet...
But no matter how lovely your home is your family is lovelier and the fact that we have all survived is all that matters.
I cannot express adequately how grateful I am to them all , especially Len, who has to deal with my cranky spells (can you imagine me getting cranky? I hope so!!!! I have a black belt in it now - along with my black belt in shopping)

Earthquakes can't take away the joy TWH has delivered and the wonderful friends we have made over the last 15 years.
That was the dream - this is the nightmare.

Our future....a holiday - completing the holiday we started last year... some sleep....and then we will rethink and plan.
Len needs some time off to race his car and I need some time off to smell the roses as they say and we both need to spoil our grandchildren.....

...and for the photo you won't really want to study....

Monday, 23 May 2011


Here is a link to a remarkable series of photos from the Picasa Web album of Ross Becker.
As citizens of Christchurch this area is still out of bounds to us although surrounding streets are opening up to traffic and the sights we are seeing are shocking us to the core.

I think the one thing we cannot comprehend is how lucky  we all were to survive baring in mind the shaking was stronger than that felt in the Japanese Quake in March ...see a previous blog for a link to that report.

On Wednesday night TV ONE are screening a documentary on '5 days in The Red Zone' - you should be able to view this through their website  'on demand'.

Otherwise life continues...I will update on a more personal note later this week - we are all well and happy ...maybe happyish is more accurate...but trying to be positive about our future and that of our favourite city.

Went to a great Birthday dinner on Saturday night at Tiffany's - made all the better by the fact that the world didn't end as predicted. Bloody man - how dare he rattle our nerves like that - plus he predicted it was all going to start in Godzone NZ - probably doesn't even know where we are !

Saturday, 9 April 2011


For those of you who would like to explore the sad facts about our February Earthquake, below are a few links because we are out of the news loop now and for many of you this info is all new.
The 14 min Video is very moving and sad as it shows the broken heart of our beloved city.

My Picasa Web album  shows Christchurch in its recent former glory - compare and rejoice that you have seen it at its best.

The Weston House is looking very sad but we are not allowed in currently, as our area is part of the cordoned off part of the city.The bureaucraps are dithering and we are no further ahead than we were on 22 Feb.
We are staying with wonderful patient friends and will house sit for them when they head to the UK after Easter.
We have been deluged with invitations from all over the world to come and stay - in fact we may never move back home (just kidding)...but look for us in a town near you....and keep a couple of bottles of NZ Sav Blanc in your fridge just in case we arrive on you doorstep...drink and replace regularly as this is not a wine for cellaring this way you are prepared for us and stocked with good wine for yourselves - a 'win-win' in every way.

Now for those links....

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


You know you live in Christchurch when....

·         Geonet / ChristchurchQuakeMap is your homepage
·         The rest of the country offers you a place to stay
·         “Munted” and “buggered” are official technical terms
·         You go 'pfffff' when Wellington has a 4.5 earthquake that's 40km deep
·         You see a nice park in another city and think it would make a good evacuation point
·         You sleep in one suburb, shower in another and collect water from yet another
·         When you drive on the right side of the road and no one thinks it's wrong
·         You are happy two Policemen came for a visit
·         When your bike becomes your best friend
·         You think it's fine for a soldier to be stationed at the end of your street
·         You see armoured vehicles driving down the road
·         It’s normal to greet people with “do you need a shower?”
·         A bucket of sh*t is no longer that old car you drive
·         Every house is a crack house
·         Instead of rushing to the clothes line to get clothes in when it rains, you put dirty washing on the line in the hope that it will rain enough to clean them
·         Going to Wellington to escape earthquakes makes sense
·         Your doctor recommends having a few stiff drinks before bed to help you sleep
·         You know how to start and refuel a generator
·         You have tied the pantry, liquor cabinet and all the cupboard doors closed and it's not to keep kids out
·         You prefer to sit under the table instead of at it
·         You think electronics that have "shock proof" should say to which earthquake magnitude
·         You know and actually understand the terms and conditions of your House and Contents insurance policies
·         You can see irony in claims about houses made of “permanent materials”
·         Your en-suite has a vege garden, dog kennel and grass
·         Your teenagers are only too happy to sleep in the same room as their parents
·         You stop using the term “built like a brick sh*t house”
·         Dressing up to "head into town" means putting on a hi-viz vest, hard hat and boots
·         Discussing toilet habits with total strangers is an everyday norm
·         Wee boys don't get excited when they see (another) digger or a dozer - but all the adults in the street cheer wildly
·         Voluntarily staying in Timaru for five days seems like a good idea
·         You know what that extra gear lever on your 4X4 is for
·         Metservice includes a graph for dust
·         You have dust mask tan lines
·         You can use the term "liquefaction" in everyday casual conversation, even your 3-year old can
·         When a massive group of students appears in your street, you feel overwhelmed with gratitude  instead calling the Police. What’s more, the students leave the street in better condition than when they arrived
·         The answer to where anything is ... it’s on the floor
·         You smile at strangers and greet people like you’re one big family

Sunday, 27 February 2011


we are both safe and well and our family and lovely grandchildren are safe and well...
Our lovely home and it's contents... well at this stage I can't say except the whole area is cordoned off due to the imminent danger posed by a neighbouring highrise apartment block which could fall at anytime.The Weston House has suffered extensive damage.
We managed to save a few treasures and I grabbed some wine as I ran past....hardly any clothes-no shoes but a few clean pairs of knickers....and a bottle of Chanel no5 that was on the floor!
We cannot go back into the house and were nearly arrested when we 'stole' Lens's T56 Formula Junior racing car from the undamaged garage!
The destruction in the heart of the city is horrendous and those poor families who have lost loved ones are the worst hit.
I never thought I would say this but I fear I have just converted to minimalism.
I will also post this message on my blog - accessible via the website
Our cell phone number is 027-283-9546.( if you text please sign your name -I may not be able to reply to you as for some reason my cell phone is deleting read messages!)
Keep emailing -your support is keeping us going but the volume of incoming emails has exceeded my ability to answer them all individually.
Thankyou all so much and please pray for those individuals less fortunate than ourselves - many many people cannot recover their lives as they have known them - they have nothing left.
Much love and many thanks,
Len and Stephanie
PS For those Formula Junior fanatics - the wife saved my new BMC  'A' series block and the carburettors - I have ordered a new crankshaft and  con rods but missing my head (or will be when Stephanie reads this!) and camshaft .If you have spares for sale please let me know.Engine was out - awaiting a rebuild following an air conditioning modification acquired when a  con rod broke and escaped through the block. address is of course

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Ah...always type in a safe format to start - Windows Notepad...if only the rest of our lives were so predictable.....

I had hoped to send this Christmas email before Christmas - as you do ...then I revised that on the theory that everyone is too busy prior to Christmas with shopping , card writing (many thanks for all of those too) and in the case of our Northern Hemisphere guests - snow shovelling - so I decided that post Boxing Day would be good and just in time for New Year. After all you would be relaxed , having a bit of time out  - especially well deserved after all those Boxing Day sales (even on the net! - v.stressful).......but it didn't happen and over a month later I would like to put in a few good wishes for a Peaceful New Year and a Happy Easter. We live in hope for us all - it has not been a good start - with weather extremes disrupting thousands of lives worldwide and peace failing to break out in those most vulnerable of places
 - it saddens the heart and we have 11 months to go.

We had a great Kiwi Christmas Day - at the beach with our family. Okains Bay on Banks Penninsula - stunning day - hot and fun - no fuss, just a BBQ, salads and fresh mussels picked off the rocks, cooked in white wine, fresh herbs and garlic butter - served with Pascal's homebaked bread.Even played Rugby with a soccer ball - can you imagine that being fun???? Bet you can after all your dreadful snow and the tragic floods in Australia.

Our good wishes for Health and Happiness for you all for 2011 and beyond and  this time we are including our beloved home and on a lesser note ourselves.

As you know in September 2010, Christchurch suffered a 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake and from our website  and our blog  
you will have learned that we returned a month early from our holiday in Europe to repair and restore the damage - which in hindsite was not too bad - although it seemed bad then.
Everything went according to plan and most was repaired for re-opening on 1st November (except for the chimneys - but that is a whole bureaucratic nightmare and worthy of a 'black-comedy' blog of its own - which we will laugh about later I'm sure!
And so it happened - we had a great November /December businesswise and generally feeling pretty over it (earthquakewise I mean).We had had aftershocks ( they don't warn you about these) about 4,000 + of them - mostly not noticed to be honest as they were quite small and could have been the feeling of a truck or bus passing.We had a few 5.0M - which are definitely noticeable and damaging but not too frightening - lots of 3.0's and 4.0 +'s - but we were coping, a bit anxious but being quite positive- as our guests duing that period would tell you....

But by now you are realising I am leading up to something....yes - Boxing Day...just as the sales started we were hit by a series of aftershocks in the centre of the city. I was quite calm (relatively) for the first four of them - more whoops, that was close (we have had so many we can almost pinpoint the epicenter and magnitude )- when at 10.30 am we were simultaneously hit by two very shallow quakes less than 2Km away coming from different directions leaving The Weston House somewhat like the meat in the sandwich!

Calm and reason disappeared (well from me - Len was brilliant) Fortunately we had no guests at the time but from where I stood it looked as if the house was trying to tear itself apart. I can tell you now there is a difference between terror and fear - can't quite quantify it - but I wasn't in fear for my life ( may not have had time for that, of course) but truly put in my place as regards my part in the scheme of things and the sheer power of Mother Nature ( I'm sure that should be a neutral 'Person' Nature these PC days - can't really see why such forces should be feminized - Hurricanes can be blokes too now, you know!)

Damage ...oh yes ... 4th September was a pussycat by comparison.Breakages once again very few - that is the weird part and once again fortunately no injuries even though shopping was in full swing.

Result - we are out of action for the Summer Season - and will scrape in just in time for the Rugby World Cup - I am currently scouting around for a manufacturer of designer armour, steel boots and whips of varying sizes - might have to get a designer muzzel for Len - I bark - he bites ( like - here comes the heavy cavalry ! ).
You wouldn't believe what they are planning...and in fact we don't know the full extent ourselves - but we have suffered structurally this time and 
although we have no walls down - so to all intents and purposes we look ok - from the outside - stuff has happened that has the Architect and Engineer going - oh dear...this is no longer cosmetic and involves quite intensive remediation.

I will give you updates.... I am sure writing the blog will be like freebie counselling... if I can manage a giggle I may survive.

I am suffering from Guest Withdrawal - a new disease - and missing the social side and breakfast chat immensely.
We are still having Wine O'Clock - purely medicinal you realize - but we do toast you all and have caught up with quite a few repeat/returning guests for dinner whose bookings we have had to cancel. I'm sure you will be pleased to hear I have had no side effects whatsoever regarding lack of cleaning , cooking or laundry but am being diligent in the garden.The sunsets are still beautiful....

We have had the chance for a bit of a summer social life with friends which is great and we are having adventures with the 
Grandchildren - Jola at 5 months is a bit too young to appreciate it - but we are having such fun with Calix - Ice Creams just before dinner and healthy treats like chocolate muffins.We are going to see Fire Engines and Trains and Boats and Trams - kicking the ball in the park and playing on the swings - pure magic - they don't care if Grandad's hair falls out or Granny has double chins - we are collectively know as Grannygrandad (one word ) and greeted with huge hugs and kisses.Today Len and Calix caught the Orbiter Bus around the suburbs - hopping on and off for treats . Just before Christmas we had horse-drawn trams on the new inner city tram route - another adventure that included lunch at the Bangalore Polo Club for Len and Calix. When we went back a week ago this young attractive waitress came up and asked Len where the 'darling little boy' our son would say ' a chick-magnet ' !
I just smiled - well grimaced actually - haven't noticed the reverse with the good looking young blokes and me!!!!! But I am getting over it...

Not having guests is hitting our Trip Advisor ranking too - so if you enjoyed staying at The Weston House - we can do with a few kind words (just click on the Trip Advisor logo thingy below to write a review ) Even though Trip Advisor can be abused it is a valuable tool for the travelling public - I use it all the time but if you fallout of the top 5 you are lost.... we are currently at No.3....

Enough of the begging - really this is an update and a big thankyou to you all.Without you we realize just how much you have enriched our lives and have no intention of giving up The Weston House .... so when we are all healed and restored we will be back as usual - Len over-filling the glasses at Wine O'Clock and me talking too much at Breakfast - sound familiar....and please keep the jokes coming too - laughter is still one of the best medicines ( right up there with Family ,Guests, Friends - all taken with lashings of good NZ Sav.Blanc)

 Bless you all and hear from you soon.....

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