(You’ll find the latest posts at the bottom of this page!)
It’s January 2021, and we have to move out of Lambhill for three months.
Why? It’s a secret – but I’ll tell you later on.
For now, we are living in a tent down the Lambhill driveway, 3/4 of a kilometre from home, on Spin and Joan Sutherland’s lawn.
Here are some pictures of packing up to move out of Lambhill:
Moving out of your home is stressful! We had a deadline. Thankfully we had some help when we most needed it. The house looked serene and a little bare after we had taken our essentials out:
After we’d built the floor platform, the wind got so wild, it blew between the wood platform and the tent-bottom, and collapsed the structure, which was now only held by guy-ropes from the tops of the ten tent-poles! Furniture inside the tent toppled, and chaos ensued. …Until Jonathan went to town and got some clips to screw to the wooden platform, and thus secure the bottom of the tent-poles. Spin went up to the hayshed and brought back recycled baling twine, too, which we tied to the bottom of the tent-poles and ran out to secure to the steel pins tethering the guy-ropes.
That windy Sunday night (January 10) was our first in the tent. We had left Lambhill and got everything into the tent officially by 9.30pm. My priorities were: make the bed, climb into it, and go to sleep. Jonathan’s were: put together one of the kit-set wardrobe racks with shelves, set up the electrics (run by cable from the house nearby), and get the internet going. I got to sleep long before he did, in spite of his clanking and muttering.
The tent billowed and moved in the wind all night. It was cool, but snug, and we were comfortable, with our oak bed, and familiar furniture around us. Monday morning, this is what the tent looked like. I spent the morning rearranging and organising its contents.
First few days living in the tent:
Jonathan went back to work after his holidays the morning we woke up for the first time in our tent. He had set up an office in one of Spin and Joan’s guest bedrooms, and has been working “from home,” there, and popping out for meals from time to time.
I was intending to spend a lot of time in the tent during the day, working on various projects but very quickly found that even though the tent has two windows and they and the door can be left open, covered by bug-mesh, the vast expanses of canvas absorb a huge amount of heat as the sun climbs slowly over the sky. Even with a portable air-conditioner cooling it, the tent’s too hot for comfort, between about 9am and 4pm… And this is only January! What will February be like?????? So this is good, really: a vintage camping experience needs a great deal of time spent outdoors, don’t you agree, simply Being, as well as working, in the shade.
Poem for Spin (A Pangolin is a Scaly Ant-eater) (We tease each other!):
I have a friend, and her name is Spin;/ She desperately wants a pangolin!/ Her tantrums and stompings are getting severe,/ But pangolins just aren’t available here!/ Sir David Attenborough’s much to blame/ For lighting in her heart this flame!/ Her sister, Joan, thinks Spin “unwise”/ For letting pangolins fill her eyes/ – After all, they eat termites and ants!/ And go on long and speedy gallivants!/ – But nothing is daunting besotted Spin!/ She desperately yearns for a pangolin!
Country walks on the farm, January 2020
The magic of grasses in the wind….
Visitors to the tent: Hens, Moth, and My parents (Mum brought some geraniums which are shown):
A strangely wet floor
Several days after some downpours, lots of water was seeping through the woven-plastic floor of the tent. I hauled back the furniture inside, mopped it up, and went outside to look under the flooring. Trapped under the tent was a puddle of water which had blown in days before, turning our wooden under-floor green and mouldy. I crammed a bucket in to let the air through, and it dried out in a couple of days…
The awning poles finally arrived in the post – but how were they meant to keep the awning up? We did our best, but emailed the tent-makers… who had forgotten to ask whether we had the awning guy ropes and pegs? No we don’t. They will send those too, soon…. Meanwhile, we are doing the best we can with the awning, which doesn’t exactly look ship-shape, and which blows down in high winds! Adventures!
Daily Life in the Tent, which I am calling “Little Lambhill:”
The Peaceful Countryside…
Two nights ago, after a long, hot day in his bedroom-office for Jonathan, and a long, hot day in the tent and landscape, and transcribing old documents for me, we went to bed looking forward to the peace of the countryside and oblivion under the black, starry cosmos… Huh! A cow was “bulling” – exactly as loud and identical in every way to a foghorn heard at point-blank – every thirty seconds. For hours. And Millie was lying on her back in the middle of the bed, pressed close to “Pack Leader” – and snoring. Every now and then I would poke her with my elbow, and she would stop for a few seconds – and then begin snoring again. And then the (Farm-) Boy Racers started up on the Warrengate Road, which is quite close to Spin and Joan’s lawn…. Ahh! …the rejuvenating peace of the Countryside…. At least it’s too early for the tractors to be out all night, harvesting. That’s one mercy. And the hay’s in; that’s another.
What is this flower? Thanks very much to my friend Rosie, who identified it as Trigridia pavonia! Most of my books are packed away, at home, so I’m happy to know its name! The flowers last one day only…. In Spin and Joan’s garden. As is the pretty thing below (no idea what it is!)… See the cricket?
You’ll notice that I adore colour and pattern…. Also, that I’m interested (below) in variations on a theme: tent stilllifes:
The Complete Scout
Hot days of February
Draping the roof and windows stops a little of the heat… Every little bit helps.
The Wahine Storm, 1968…
Infamous in New Zealand, the 1968 storm that sank the Wahine ferry in Wellington Harbour, also knocked down trees up the coast at Wanganui. I grew up beside a farm where massive macrocarpa cedars had flattened chicken sheds – which were left in their ruined state for more than 20 years…. Here at Lambhill, the Wahine storm toppled hundreds of old trees along the driveway, and blew up the verandah roofs on the south and west of our house. I’ve been walking underneath those Wahine trees, which often did not die when they had fallen – but sent up branches as new leaders. Their shade is wonderfully deep and cool, when the sea breezes flow beneath them on February afternoons. Today, these old storm-survivors remain as characterful living landmarks, reminding us of a terrible day in New Zealand history. On that day, in 1968, Jonathan and I were both only four years old, both living with our families in different parts of Wellington – but we both remember that storm. I remember the fear in my mother’s voice, and the frightening winds and rain outside. I remember my father talking, with some excitement, of roofs blowing off…
Some people say they don’t see any evidence of God in the “natural” world – but I do. I see his fingerprints everywhere. Like all great artists, he leaves clues, in repeated motifs. I’ve seen those tree-ring patterns elsewhere – in spider-webs, and in agates, in ripples on water, on beaches, in clouds…
Secret Picnic in the Lambhill Garden
I miss my garden! I miss Lambhill. The tent is lovely, and Spin and Joan are welcoming and kind. But I miss the trees, the secret places of the gardens up at Lambhill, the birds!!!! the juxtapositions of plants and space and air….. On Saturday, at the end of February 2021, Jonathan made a picnic lunch, and we took it up in a washing basket, when the house and garden were empty of people. Jonathan, who had been working hard in the heat, chainsawing some firewood for Spin and Joan’s winter stack, lay down and closed his eyes. He woke up enough to eat his egg and humous and feta sandwiches, salad and watermelon – but then he went to sleep in earnest! I sat still, watching the tui sipping nectar from the puriri flowers above us. Millie and I watched drifting clouds, and gently-moving leaves. We saw a tiny grey warbler and fantails. We saw rosella feathers in the grass. The peace and quiet joy of Lambhill soaked into us like cool water. At last, with Jonathan still asleep, I drifted through the overgrown garden as slowly as the clouds above us, smelling the pink Naked Lady lilies, the panting roses, and the lemon blossoms, feeling surprised to see the orange hips of Rosa moyesii so big, and the first pink Japanese anemones opening. Is it autumn already? I have missed the whole summer away from Lambhill!
Way up between the tree-tops and the clouds, pairs of white butterflies were dancing tremulous quadrilles. The tui hopped silently among the puriri branches, sipping from the pink flowers that grow among creased evergreen leaves and ripening berries.
March in the Tent: Autumn is on its way.
Early in the month, it is still hot and humid here on our tent-lawn! The air-conditioner has been going full-tilt, aiming at a steady 22 degrees – but hardly getting there. Outside, temperatures have reached at least 30 degrees for the last week, with high humidity. In the shade, we are glad to see the mercury dropping to 25 as the afternoons sink into evening. It’s hot.
Last Days in the Tent:
I am posting these pictures after we have moved back home to Lambhill, after a break of weeks and weeks. (Moving in took a while, and we have not had internet at the house either, much!) Here are pictures taken as the weather cooled, over autumn, and Jonathan moved into a caravan, but I stayed in the tent (the caravan’s bed hurt my damaged neck)….
The old book I was reading, once belonged to Archie Sutherland, whose parents bought Lambhill from the original owners. Archie, like all his family, was a keen supporter of the little Scottish Presbyterian kirk at Fordell village, and would read out sermons from books, as a Lay Preacher. His niece, Lewanna (elder sister of Spin, Joan, Don, and Dora), gave me quite a few of Archie’s religious books, and this one had not been read much, as you can see from the uncut pages. It was a good book, too! That’s why I took it with us when we were tenting…
The nights and mornings were getting very cold; Millie came back from an early walk with Jonathan, wet through and shivering; she appreciated the quilt and the hot water bottle for her paws… I took to leaving a small heater running over night in the tent, but it was still very cold!
The mornings this autumn were spectacular, for a while. Remember that old saying, “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning?” Jonathan saw the sky one of these mornings, and said, “Doesn’t it go, Red sky in the morning, Shepherd’s Pie?” and then he wandered off with Millie, chanting softly, “Red sky, shepherd’s pie! Red sky, shepherd’s pie!” He has such an unexpected whimsical streak!