So the inside is getting built right now. The bedroom is basically a slatted bed on bearers, with a ‘secret’ cubby hole underneath for secret society meetings or even a smaller bed. The white paint is an undercoat..I haven’t decided what color to paint it yet.
Today was quite an exciting day as I was quietly going about my business when my dear neighbor with the blonde hair shouted out that I couldn’t take pictures of another of my neighbors in her bathroom. Out of the blue. No warning. And on a beautiful sunny day! Never mind that this would have required a camera that sees through walls and around corners. Never mind that the very idea of seeing that particular neighbor in the bathroom makes me nauseous. I felt my honor was at stake so grabbed my iPad to record this interesting if somewhat improbable accusation. Evidence is everything in these matters. I asked her to repeat the accusation she had just made. Surprisingly the attractive dulcet voice was suddenly struck dumb and its owner evinced extraordinary interest in the man who lives opposite who was explaining the intricacies of garlic and rosemary dressing. I think. It was faintly surreal but little did I know it was about to become even more like a mad play from an avant-garde university experimental theatre troupe.
(I’m sure “university” is in the wrong place in that sentence)
The blonde neighbor’s son appeared from their driveway to assert I was acting in a threatening manner. Duh…..I guess asking someone repeat a potentially defaming statement could be interpreted as threatening. He manfully grabbed his phone and told me he was going to ring the police which, bless his cotton socks, he proceeded to do in a very self-important and theatrical manner… striding up and down the lane as he gave the police my description and that of Gill who was nowhere near the scene of the incident. She had been busily buying beetroot and other necessities of life at the market. There was something faintly comical standing watching someone give a description of what you are wearing to the police.
At this point the Blonde’s mother appeared. She lives opposite her daughter so is always at the ready if there is an emergency such as a threatening neighbor brandishing a lethal iPad. She was also in theatrical mode and ostentatiously raised her cute little camera to take a picture of me on my own property leaning against my car. I have to assume this was not for the annual family slide show at Christmas. It seemed a rather pointless Kodak moment, but who am I to complain if someone wants to take my photograph?
So in the midst of this, my beautiful Granddaughter is dropped off by her mother as we are babysitting her for an hour. We are understandably excited by her arrival but less so when, as we are about to wheel her down the lane for a pleasant walk, two uniformed Police appear round the corner of the lane. It’s a fundamental rule that Police visits always take precedence over walking babies so we invited a Constable in as he wanted to hear our side of the story. I have to admit that my mind was not totally on the interview as I was trying to work out how to explain to my son and daughter-in-law that the first time they trust us to babysit, a uniformed police officer ends up in my living room. To give her her due, Piper took it all in her stride and didn’t bat an eyelid. At that age you don’t know what a taser in a belt holster looks like so she seemed pretty pleased that someone with an exciting blue uniform had appeared in her life.
The interview over and our side of the story duly noted the Constable made his way to talk to the neighbor whose bathroom privacy had been violated. Allegedly. His companion had already interview the Blonde and that, it seems, is the excitement over for the day. We await developments as they say.
Building a gypsy wagon isn’t half as exciting!
Quite a busy day today. Got the side walls built and attached. I’m still cutting felloesfor the roof and I tried to make a jig to smooth them on the router table. As the radius is 755 mm its quite unwieldy so may not work. I’ll have to think up a plan B!
I didn’t get a lot done today as I had to collect the rest of the wood from John. I couldn’t fit it all in the car last time. Gill and I had a picnic of chocolate hot cross buns and soda water in Isel Park by the river. I should point out that the local supermarket didn’t have much in the way of snacks for a picnic! However the buns were perfect if not the most healthy option.
I put the castors on the undercarriage and married the floor to the undercarriage. No pic of that as my camera battery died! The blog may be temporarily suspended as my beautiful granddaughter is coming to visit for a week and operations will be suspended in favor of tickling, cuddling and story telling.
My Beautiful Granddaughter
There is something wonderfully inappropriate about the fact that aircraft use the word ‘undercarriage’ to describe their wheel assembly when,as we all know, an undercarriage is exactly that! Today I built my own undercarriage and was so happy with the result that I almost got a bottle of bubbly and smashed it on the Totara beams. Each of them weighs 12 Kg so they are beautifully dense and heavy. The axles are 8 kg so the whole thing weighs 52 KG. I’m keeping an eye on the weight. The whole thing is kept together with 220mm bolts. I had to purchase a really long auger bit to drill the holes for these. Damn.. I meant to take a pic of the drill bit because its so beautiful. It goes through the Totara like butter. It’s the sort of thing you’d use to perform surgery after a plane crash if you had no scalpel.
At last I can start nailing bits of wood together! I love seeing something take shape slowly. The tree is cut and transformed into something else and starts a new life. Gill tells me that trees never stop growing. They don’t know when enough is enough which is why they get blown over eventually or have other problems. There’s something magnificent about that. So today I made the base for the floor that will sit on the undercarriage. I also gave a second coat of varnish to the floor. Looks like another two will be necessary to make it look really nice.
I’ve had quite a bit of worry over these castors. The wooden wheels can’t take the weight of the caravan so I am putting castors on the axles so that the whole caravan can be moved. They have to carry the weight of the entire structure and I’ve gone for ones that are rated for 160 KG each. I’m going to have to weigh all the wood to make sure it’s not too close to the maximum bearing weight of the castors. My best (wild) guess is that the superstructure will be under 300 kg at the very most which means I will be only putting half the max load on the castors.
Apparently the Redwood will get even redder if I leave it out in the sun before it gets oiled. So for the past few days I have been laying it out on the patio and letting it soak in the sun.
All of the walls and ends have to be painted before they are built as otherwise my beautiful bronze nails will get hidden. This is an exceedingly repetitive task! The colour was chosen after much studying of paint color charts. It’s supposed to complement the Redwood. We shall see when it’s all assembled!
Today was spent rearranging the shed as i have little room to actually build the caravan. I need a bigger area but that’s not going to happen so I have to fit everything in somehow. I wonder if Henry Ford had this problem when he built the first Model T? Steve Jobs chose to build a computer in his garage. So much easier than a large wooden construction. It’s easy to see how he went so far.
Very exciting day yesterday. I had ordered the wood a few weeks ago and John rang to say it was ready. The mill is about an hour outside Nelson , yes , at the end of a dirt track with a forbidding notice at the beginning.
The mill is not too far up the road and set in the most beautiful countryside.
John has two dogs one of whom is, to say the least, large! Rufus is not easily intimidated but he insisted on being held in case he got mistaken for lunch.
I felt bad making John pose like some tourist curio but he is playing such an important part in this adventure I wanted to record him for posterity. His company is called Totally Timber and if you want wonderful wood go to John. No one else comes near. His wood is, simply, beautiful. His website is : www.totallytimber.co.nz
John The Woodmeister
This is my pile of Wood. The posts are Totara. Above that is Elm. The light wood is Macrocarpa and to the right the gorgeous Redwood.
For those who do not live in New Zealand. it’s probably useful to point out that the shed is a very important part of Kiwi culture. It is hard to underestimate the high regard in which a well-appointed shed is held. The more esoteric the artifacts in the shed the more esteemed it is. When we lived in Awakino our neighbor had a shed that could have housed a small passenger aircraft. It did, in fact, house an amphibious 16 wheeled vehicle among other things. I was only allowed to enter it once and it was a cornucopia of mysterious metal and wooden objects which hung from the ceiling, littered the floor and hung off nails on the walls. His proudest possession was a small metal contraption which looked like a cross between a medieval instrument of torture and something from the innards of an early motor car. He proudly told me that he had no idea what it was nor had anyone to whom he had shown it over the decades. You could see he was immensely proud of this rusted mystery.
My shed is a more modest utilitarian affair. Strictly speaking it’s a car port with curtains at the end rather than a shed. It houses my collection of wood working equipment. I do, in fact, have a real shed but it rather diminutive and not worth photographing. I have not, as yet, managed to acquire any mysterious objects so have to make do with shiny new ones. One of my favorite possessions at the moment is my 1.8 metre orange steel ruler with non-slip backing. You can see why I like it can’t you?
My beautiful ruler
Lighthouses are interesting constructions. They have an appealing symmetry and they stand at the outposts of our landscapes. They signal the land to those at sea and they have a strange romance about them. They are usually remote so visiting them takes us far from familiar places – far from noise and civilization. We stand on the edge of the land and look out to a distant horizon knowing there are other lands and other lighthouses far away. It’s hard not to feel a sense of isolation beside them They make us think of far-away places and voyages. Strange that we don’t ‘voyage’ any more. We ‘travel’. The word ‘travel’ has a pragmatic and utilitarian ring to it. It’s just the means to get us to that interesting place we are going. An uncomfortable cramped flight to be endured before we are given our freedom and individuality back again.
Is it possible we could ever relish the voyage more than the destination? Voyages are symbolic. They take us away from the familiar into the unfamiliar. They are a time to contemplate because we are between worlds. A sort of never never land where we can exist in a sort of vacuum. Over the years I have written many journal pages on aircraft or in airports. Reading them now I realize that in that strange limbo I have written things that I would not have thought about in the hurly burly of my normal life.
I made these lighthouses look like 19th Century postcards to heighten that sense of ‘apartness’ and remoteness. I photographed them on a trip to the Catlins last year.