Thursday, July 24, 2014

A picture paints a thousand words...

Well, it's been a while. Thank you to all our dear followers who emailed, texted or tweeted to find out what we've been up to and why we have not posted anything for a month now. Do not fear, all is OK, but it's been a busy time at work and at WBP, moving things a long. 

I have just come back from a few days at home this week. Last weekend was Peter's farewell from the cathedral and they put on a series of leaving dos. His last official day is tomorrow before he 'retires' to manage WBP full time, and we have come up with a list as long as his arm of things he has to do before spring arrives. We managed to make a good start of things last weekend (photos to follow).

The weekend before last I was down in Sydney for the first time since I moved to Australia (I had been down twice for rushed daytime business meetings, but not socially). So I decided, given I had a rare 2 days off in a row, to go to visit my aunt Pam and uncle David.

They had arranged a lovely time for me. I got to see my cousin play for Manly United Football Club (at the height of the hype of the world cup); and I also got to do some shopping. 

Pam and I took a drive around the inner suburbs visiting plenty of antique shops. The one I fell in love with was called Austiques in Glebe. It was run by an expat Julie, from Lancashire, and her husband Ron. They were absolutely lovely and I ended up buying 5 oil paintings for Willowbrook, the tallest one over 7 feet tall (seen behind me in the photo below).

Above: the lovely Julie and me, at Austiques in Glebe. Behind us are a couple of the paintings I bought.

Below: Some of Julie's other lovely wares...

She had an amazing array of clocks, French porcelain, continental furniture and art. Here are the paintings we purchased. Below: Unsigned English oil painting of Galleons, 19th C.

Above and Below: Unsigned Italian Landscapes (modern), but in the style of 17th C landscape artists such as Claude Lorrain. I think they will look lovely in the Blenheim suite and will fit the bill for decorating a Georgian period house as if recherchéd on a grand tour.

Below: The tall 18th C styled oil of a classical scene, likely Rome, showing a bishop and courtiers amongst an architectural capricio...
Above and Below: Details from the painting.

Below: A pair of Nubian candelabrae. I almost bought them, but it is going to be difficult enough getting the paintings to NZ let alone these.

Above: The final painting we bought, a copy of Melchior de Hondecoeter's 17th century painting "Peacock and a Peahen on a Plinth, with Ducks and Other Birds in a Park". There have been many variations on this painting since the original. This one most closely resembles our painting...



other variations include...

a version with the monkeys and fruit on the lower right hand corner...

others have more birds, architectural capricios and farmyard animals...

There was also a collection of bear themed furniture, which on the whole I didn't fancy, but I somehow thought this bench with a carved back including a bear showing his belly was quite amusing...

It would go well in a hunting lodge with a large black forest cuckoo clock and perhaps this other hunting themed furniture there...

After a day of antique shopping, suburb cruising and a few drinks we had the most amazing 7 course degustation meal at an asian fusion restaurant in Pott's Point called Jimmy Lik's...
Above: David and Pam, at Jimmy Lik's.

We then went to a bar in Darlinghurst Rd called Eau de Vie and had a few more interesting cocktails before clambering into the back of a cab and hightailing back to bed.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Progress Report - 11 Months to the Day...

Today marks day 336 since we broke ground on the building project, and things are coming along nicely...


Above: A view across the lake to the building site.
Below: The same view 11 months ago.

Below: The view of the front side of the manor...

Below: View of the colonnade and developing carriage house. The columns are being cast for this side of the colonnade at the moment. You may notice the iron reinforcing bars sticking up from the outside of the colonnade curve, waiting for each column to arrive. The windows for the colonnade should arrive before the end of the winter..


During a lull in the block work the team started on the retaining wall for the raised cocktail lawn...

It gives balance to the composition, as seen below with the manor centre, the colonnades extending forwards  (right) and the raised lawn extending back (left).
Above and below: The footings of the wall being poured.

Below: view of lawn and footing from upstairs balcony.

Meanwhile inside the plasterers are hard at it putting a good inch of solid base plaster on all the upstairs walls...

You can see from the picture below, even the wooden framed internal walls upstairs have got at least 25mm of solid plaster over the top of the insulated timber framing, so far giving the walls a thickness of about 6 inches, prior to the top coat of plaster and paint going on...


Outside the park is looking decidedly wintery. The storms and rain have come, bringing a deluge - luckily most of the foundation work has been completed.

Above: The Bluebell Walk with the silver birches starting to thicken up in the trunks.

Below: There is a wealth of fungi around the park at the moment. I'm not sure what this type is, but it reminds me that we should get on and create our stumpery/mushroomery soon.
Above: The Nymphaeum from afar.

Below: The almonds in the Bois de Marie.

Below: The trench for the stormwater pipe from the courtyard to the site where the bridge will cross over the brook

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Craggy Range Winery and our Hawkes Bay Mini-break...


When I was home Peter and I took a mini-break down to the Hawke's Bay. It is a lovely part of New Zealand, where I spent six months as a registrar in a large rural hospital in the middle of amazing wine country. I stayed in Havelock North, a very nice township, just 5 minutes down the road from several wineries, including  Craggy Range. It transpires that it was our builder who built Craggy Range winery! Here are some pictures of the winery...


Peter and I stayed with friends that run a B&B down there, and collected four wine barrels from The Mission Estate  winery to bring home for use at Willowbrook. There are a few ornamental uses we have thought of for them...


Peter also got a one-on-one lesson on how to prune our vines this winter from an expert who prunes the vines for Villa Maria, Church Road, and Esk Valley Estates among other prominent NZ Vineyards...

There are many methods for pruning a grapewine, but the method we will use and which Peter had lessons on is known as spur pruning. This allows one to have a permanent cordon (main vine). This is the traditional French style of pruning. It allows you to grow a nice thick, visually pleasing vine and simply prune back the newly grown spurs to this cordon each year. This is in contrast to cane renewal pruning, in which the best cane left on the trunk at the end of the season is selected to become the new cordon for the following year.

Above: Vines grown with a permanent cordon.

First you select the cane you wish to become your main cordon, prune it and tie it to your main wire...

We did this last year, and so this winter we will now start to spur prune. You need to trim the cordon so that it has about seven spurs on it (at most ten)... 

Each spur is pruned back to 2 buds above the main cordon...

Too many spurs = too many bunches of grapes, which dilutes the flavour and vigour of each bunch. Each spur should be about a hand space apart...

The finished product: a trunk with a permanent cordon going each way along the wire, each side having 7-10 spurs, 2 buds long... 

Update 29 June: putting Peter's pruning lesson into practice!
Above: Vineyard prior to pruning.

Below: After.

Finished product: a beautiful cordon... 

Deadwood...
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