Sunday, 5 June 2011

Cissy Bay

Its raining here so I have a bit of time inside to catch up with my blog. On Wednesday I got picked up in the afternoon by Clarrie, he and his wife host wwoofers at their farm in Cissy Bay, about 2 hours north of Nelson. After a long drive along winding roads we arrived in the dark so I didn't really get to see the place. Syth greeted us at the door and we had dinner in their very small and dark living room/kithen/dining room/office. Its a very small square room here, the rest is a shed with 2 beds behind and MDF wall. They have no mains electricity or gas, instead they use solar power and gas tanks filled up at the petrol station. This means that at night when it gets dark you need a flashlight to do anything outside of the main room and they just have a small candle in the bathroom. The fridge and oven are both powered by gas tanks which seem to last along time and whenever they are not on the computer they switch off all the power to the house, so they just have one big gas light and flashlights for the whole room. They sleep in a caravan outside of the main building, I'm in the shed half of the building on a very comfy mattress. The water comes from a spring so it is very nice and fresh tasting. They have a very small hot water heater for the shower, and a tap but no pipe to the kitchen sink so there is a bit of a ritual with the washing up. First you rinse and scrub all the dishes in the cold water to get all the food off. Then you go over to the hot water heater and turn the tap gently and pray you can get it up to about 45degrees. Then you wash the dishes in the hot water and soap. They are also vegetarians so all in all the is a very eco-friendly lifestyle.

As well as the farm they have a website design business which they mostly work from at home. Clarrie goes into Nelson once a week overnight to work at the office and do the food shopping for the week (there are no shops here, no pubs, nothing but a few houses). There are about 13 permanent residents on Cissy Bay, the rest having holiday homes here. The community is very small and has a few problems, mainly instigated by a man who got kicked out of South Africa for 'giving sweets to little girls' as he says and 'Madame Butterfly' and absolute nutter who sometimes sits with her binoculars on the road spying on Syth and Clarrie. I have only heard their side of the story so I won't repeat it here, but this woman is mad, anyone can tell that and she has nothing to do in her life so she goes around bothering others.

Anyway I woke up on my first morning here and got an amazing view of the sounds. The bay is at the bottom and, similar to Milford, the earth rises up in steep ridges. Its just not as steep or dramatic. The house is about half way up one ridge and they own fields on the other side where llamas and scottish highland cows, which are their pets, graze. They also have chickens, a dog called Duke and a cat called Nova. They try as much as possible to eat vegetables from the very large garden although at this time of year that is not always possible. There are a few fruit trees as well, and the passion fruit here is amazing! If they sell their cows and llamas they try to make sure they go to other 'lifestyle' families as pets, rather than as food!

Duke is an amazing dog. He is a New Zealand Huntaway, a bit bigger than a Labrador, black and brown and very energetic, intelligent and friendly. He knows what a Weka is, a native brown wild hen, and enjoys chasing them. He loves riding in the car and on the way back from a neighbors house Clarrie shouted 'RACE' and we let duke out and he ran all the way home with us chasing him. He can jump fences and gates as well and any horse as well and when you scratch his ear, then stop he nudges your hand till you start again.

I've been working very hard since I've been here, thats the point of wwoofing. I did a lot of weeding in the garden which is actually very satisfying to see a patch which was green and overgrown turned into nice brown soil ready for planting. We have built a fence as well, that was hard work as it was on a very very steep hill and I kept falling down. The actual work was easy, its just the hill the was trying to kill me that I didn't like. But they've planted a load of native trees along a paddock and wanted to fence them off so when the animals come in they don't get destroyed.

Clarrie and Sythe are very nice people, the both have older children and grandchildren. Clarrie is from New Zealand whereas Sythe is Scottish and her and her son have emigrated, she has a daughter still in England. They met about 15 years ago and Clarrie proposed after 10 days! They've been very nice to me, even though I'm not as strong or fast as some of the other wwoofers that they've had. I've enjoyed it here but I think a week is long enough. I'm so isolated from everything and there are so few people hear that as great as it has been I think another week would drive me mad. I've had a good experience but I'd like to go somewhere with a few more people, and maybe a pub!

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