Monday, January 17, 2011

Hope, Richmond, and Nelson... and all in NZ, not BC!

Today marks the start of my next WWOOFing adventure; I’m currently situated in the home of Howard and Rosemarie Amos, a couple from the UK who moved to New Zealand two years ago. Their hobby kiwifruit farm and home garden is located in Hope, which is just outside Richmond, which is just outside Nelson. Does anyone else find it amusing that these three city placenames can also be found in British Columbia, albeit spaced far more widely apart?

This morning over breakfast (nutella and toast, how predictable), Bryan and I discussed the politics of the WikiLeaks (he’s for them, which surprised me; at first glance he comes off as a Republican American, not a Democrat) and the lack of accountability in big business. Gary stopped by as he and Judy headed out the door for a day of cycling around Nelson; he wanted to give me their address, and told me if I was ever passing through Edson, AB, a bed and a hot meal would be waiting for me. This is the part I love about travelling; meeting hospitable people from all over the world (or even just the next province over). I returned the favour, and gave him my home address in Duncan (don’t worry, Dad, he’s a nice, easygoing guy, and you’d get along well; he likes to hunt and he’s a Forest Ranger!).

Around 11am Howard called me on my cell phone to tell me he and Rosemarie were five minutes away, and true to his word, five minutes later they pulled up, piled my stuff into their station wagon, and we were off. After a stop at the market in Richmond to pick up some fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk, we hopped back in the car again (now very full with the three of us, all of my stuff, all of their shopping), and drove the ten minutes to Hope and their hobby farm. While it does feel rather remote and rural out here (we’re surrounded by apple farms; all I can see from my second-floor window is acres and acres of small tress stretching out toward the hills), we’re really only about 1km from the main road, and the terrain is all flat, so cycling places won’t be very difficult.

Right away Rosemarie got me started on my first task: running the electric chipper/mulcher to clear up the hedge and bramble trimmings that were lying in piles, blocking vehicle access to the vegetable garden. I did so from 12:15-1:15pm, when I was called in for a lunch of sandwiches and fresh corn on the cob, and then at 2pm Rosemarie and Howard settled down to watch Warehouse 13, one of their favourite shows (which I had never heard of), and I headed back out to finish my chipping. Normally I will have afternoons off to do as I please, but seeing as today I didn’t work in the morning I worked all afternoon instead.

All afternoon the wind steadily increased, blowing in clouds and bringing cooler weather, a welcome respite from the baking heat of the morning. What’s not so reassuring is the origin of the clouds; they are the remnants of the tropical storms that have lashed Australia for the last week, causing extensive flooding. Mercifully for us in New Zealand, very little remains of the storms’ original power, and all that’s expected for tonight and tomorrow is some moderate winds and showers (in the Nelson area, at least).

When I was almost done the mulching Rosemarie came outside and showed me around the garden, pointing out tasks that need to be done so I can choose one that suits me best to start on tomorrow. There is a small vineyard here that needs weeding, and then to prevent more weeds they have laid down cardboard, black matting, silver matting, and then a layer of large stones. The stones (and this was a little disheartening) are all from the garden; the valley in which their property lies is an ancient riverbed, and one only has to dig down about four inches to start finding substantially-sized rocks. Digging out beds for the garden is another task, as is weeding the flower beds, and pulling down ivy (to prevent it from choking the palm trees). Depending on the weather tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll find something to keep me busy.

Heading inside around 5:00pm, I had an hour or so before I was needed to help with dinner, so I called my cousin Rebecca to wish her a Happy Birthday, and then called my Grandma Wright because I realised I never called her on her birthday, and felt badly about that. Both were glad to hear from me (even if both were initially perplexed as to who on earth would be calling, with such a strange number showing up on the display!), and it was nice to talk to them.

I helped Howard to make dinner (chicken quesadillas with onion, cheese, and pepper), and after dinner we had apple crumble and ice cream for dessert. I think Howard and I are going to get on well; he has that dry British wit, and his mannerisms and vocal inflections often make me feel like I’m talking to a Monty Python-era John Cleese! (His appearance is a little John Cleese-y, too.)

After dinner we watched an episode of Weird or What? hosted by William Shatner (whom I couldn’t help but make fun of the whole time), and then seeing as the forecasted rain for tomorrow decided to arrive early, we all ran outside into the garden to move a borrowed old-school cement-mixer under a tree where it won’t get as wet (Howard and Rosemarie borrowed it from a neighbour, so it was pretty easy to move, as it was still strapped into the back of a pup trailer).

Back in the kitchen, Howard and I started talking about VHS vs. PVR recorders, and this led to me bringing up the Secret Life of Machines episode on the Video Recorder on my computer, and Howard and Rosemarie both sat and watched it with fascination (Rosemarie figures she may have seen an episode or two back when she was living in the UK). The simple, lo-fi - yet incredibly informative - nature of that program as opposed to Weird or What? is a stark reminder of how much television has changed in the twenty years between the two programs; everything is so sensationalised now, yet as Rosemarie said, “ [Weird or What?] is twice as long, but contains four times as much waffle” (i.e., the pace is much slower, with tonnes of dramatic recaps, and very little in the way of thought-provoking information). It’s the equivalent of eating a twinkie made with high-fructose corn syrup, where as The Secret Life of Machines is more like a homemade granola bar; not nearly as sickly sweet and creamy, and with a few tougher raisins and such that require persistent chewing, but in the long run will keep you full and feeling healthy for a lot longer.

Now it is almost 11pm, and seeing as I have devolved into comparing television programs to foodstuffs and also have to be up and downstairs and ready for breakfast at 7:30am, I had best be off. Goodnight!


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