Sunday, February 16, 2014

Danger, Danger

In the 60s I liked to watch a programme called Lost in Space. It had very low production values, pretty poor acting and ludicrous plot lines, but in a one channel, black and white television world it was novel and compelling viewing. Looking back, it was fairly dodgy as any sort of guide to raising a family. The space family Robinson set off in Jupiter 2 to do goodness knows what, but with the weight of their space craft being over the calculations, due to the stowaway Dr Smith, they hurtled through space and landed in an unknown galaxy on an unknown planet.

Luckily the planet just happened to have the same mass and air quality as Earth, so they were able to set up home in their damaged ship. Mr Robinson tried valiantly to fix the spacecraft, while Mrs Robinson spent a lot of time doing the washing, cooking and keeping their home ship-shape. Neither seemed too concerned about the welfare of the children. Older daughter Judy was up to goodness knows what with the deputy commander, Don. Younger daughter, Penny, was left to her own devices - though she did adopt some furry little alien creature that bore a striking resemblance to a small monkey with large glued-on fake ears.

Son, Will, was left to explore the planet in the company of Dr Smith. Dr Smith was initially cast as an evil character, but evolved into a cowardly buffoon whose greed for all sorts of space treasure inevitably got the pair of them into terrible situations. His camp performances were the cause of the cult status Lost in Space enjoys to this day. Will and Dr Smith usually took the robot with them, and week after week his incredibly advanced electronics would enable him to foresee the possible dangers ahead. He would flail his arms about and shout out, "Danger, danger, Will Robinson!", but neither Will nor Dr Smith ever heeded his advice.

The spirit of this robot lives on in the Building Consents department of the Hutt City Council. I recently had a toilet put into the bathroom, and quite rightly had to apply for consent to ensure the new connections to my existing sewer pipes were up to standard. But like the trusty robot, the Hutt City Council building inspectors can spot all sorts of potential dangers that the unassuming toilet user might never be aware of. They came to inspect the pipes, then flailed their hands in despair at the hazards all to plain to see with their superior skills. Apparently a lot of people just can't stop launching themselves from the toilet seat and hurtling through windows. It's a miracle that the glass had remained intact for the last ninety years, and sadly had to be changed for safety glass to ensure the safe use of facilities into the future. The improper use of toilets can increase the fire risk in homes, so the smoke detector that was judged to be just perfect when checked for my woodburner installation was now clearly twenty centimetres too far from the second bedroom door. I shake when I consider the danger I could have been exposed to without the use of their trusty measuring tape. 

Becoming code compliant took a few extra visitations and expense. You'll be relieved to know that I can now safely enjoy the new conveniences without danger to life and limb, and I've got the certificate to prove it! Unlike Dr Smith and Will with the robot, you can't ignore the superior skills of a Hutt City Council building inspector. Happy flushing!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What's in a Name?

Alfred Coles and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Collins), owned a hotel in Wellington in the late 1800s. In 1900 they sold the hotel. They considered investing their money in Oriental Bay, but, disliking the way the area was festooned with washing hung out to dry, they looked instead at the Hutt Valley. Believing the railway line from the Wairarapa would run along The Esplanade from Korokoro to Hutt Park, they purchased twenty-five acres of land in eastern Petone. Though their assumption was wrong, they profited instead from the development of residential housing sections. Alfred named Collins Street for his wife, and William Street and Patrick Street for their son, William Patrick Coles.

So, as I near home each evening the streets go William, Patrick, Collins. And for a long time that trio of names - William, Patrick, Collins - has sounded to me like a vey fine name for a very fine sort of individual. William Patrick Collins is a solid name. William Patrick Collins is a distinguished name. A William Patrick Collins would be a special kind of guy. And sure enough ...

... he is!

Friday, February 7, 2014


The new year is well underway and time has come to get back to my blogging. Some jealous, surly types are a little dismissive of the 'holidays' they think teachers enjoy, but I must assure my dear readers that I only really got six of the seven weeks to myself. Despite this I managed to do quite a lot.

I don't like going away on holiday. That's not to say I don't like being away on holiday, it's just very stressful getting away and often exhausting during the recovery stage. I did try to sound convincing to those who inquired as to my plans - a trip to Napier, a few days an Wanganui with a riverboat trip - but I never got up the energy or enthusiasm to actually organise these and in reality I was very happy to base my holiday at home. So I had a holiday by the sea staying near a quaint village of interesting shops.

I did do some day trips to Kapiti, and out to Castlepoint where I captured a great shot just days before the big earthquake knocked a big chunk off Castle Rock.

I spent lots of time with lovely friends involving lots of eating and drinking. I managed to see a few movies. Make sure you see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the brilliant Nebraska. Don't believe the hype about August: Osage County - it was very disappointing. A real treat was Good Ol' Freda. It was a lovely documentary about the fan club organiser and secretary to The Beatles. Great music, of course, and a fascinating life story. It seemed to have quite limited release and was only on for a week or two, so get it on dvd if you can. 

I also had some exciting adventures with the use of chalk paint, linseed oil and polyurethane, with great success. I have already outlined the hutch dresser process, but I am equally pleased with the new dressing table that I brought back to life. It had been stripped of paint by a previous owner but was still in a sad state. Interestingly, it is identical in design to one I had as a teenager. At the time, I found my parents' habit of acquiring old furniture from auctions seriously uncool. With considerable nagging, I managed to persuade my father to paint the distasteful item white. I feel my work on this one goes a little way to make up for my past error in judgement. 

The 25th of January marked three years in the house, which meant I had suffered three years of no baths. Just relentless showers, which cleanse the body but do nothing for the soul. Three years without a good soak. Three years without bubbles. I hasten to add that the lack of a bath did not stop me continuing to receive gifts of bubble bath, bath bombs and bath salts, of which I built up quite a stock in the time. But finally the wait is over.

Some people might imagine that spending a long time in a generous bubble bath is a time waster. They are quite, quite wrong. Much can be achieved if one plans ahead. Why just this morning I enjoyed a nice cup of tea, sent texts, talked on the phone, read a book and planned my day all from the comfort of my new bath. Try doing that in a shower. All you will be is clean.