The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw


We thought the house-hunting trip to Oamaru might afford an opportunity to shift some of our possessions.

We asked Sheriff if we could borrow his trailer – the official reason being that ours wasn’t big enough for the sort of Extreme Relocation Husband had in mind.

Unofficially, only two days before our extremely unpremeditated and totally disorganised trip, we realized our trailer’s warrant of fitness had expired. We considered renewing it on the way through Blenheim, except Andrew feared it would fail due to the condition of the wheels.

I suspect this officially qualifies us as Bogans.

Andrew wasn’t sure whether Sheriff had a trailer, because ‘he has a tractor’.

I really had no idea why possession of one precludes the other; so, “What the fuck are you talking about?” I snorted. “Of COURSE Sheriff has a fucking trailer. He has EVERYTHING. I’d stake my life and that of my unborn child and this delicious caramel slice on it. Oops. Too late.”

Admittedly an aggressively anti-dainty response, but I’m basically trying to spend my surplus swearing credit for the next 13+ years before the baby arrives. That’s a LOT of execration to jam into four months. My language is absolutely filthy. I’ll go back and attempt to edit it out of this post. (Note: this translates to a roughly 75% depreciation on wordcount.)

Of COURSE Sheriff has a state-of the art trailer that features its own braking system probably with anti-lock and hydraulics; it has four wheels, a jockey wheel, twice as much bed area as ours and a built-in spa pool.

Instead of merely touring our possessions around the country, we relocated my purple fridge, Andrew’s dirtbike, coolbox, a crate of Andrew’s junk oily man things, and two boxes of my crap beloved literature for storage at The Outlaws’.

Then we started into the property search, with a grand tour of all the open houses in and around Oamaru. This was equally uplifting and depressing. Uplifting from the perspective that there are some entirely habitable houses in Oamaru if you have a spare $200k and don’t mind strange, unidentifiable smells. Depressing due to the accumulative psychological effect of our standards imperceptibly rising with each property visited.

We visited pretty much every house for sale in Oamaru. Amongst the quite respectable family homes, we viewed places that would have been perfect had the garden extended further than the bush in a pot; houses with stunning views of the local landfill; houses with stunning aromas of the local meatworks; houses with State Highway One two paces from the front door; houses with patches of wall boarded up with plywood; places featuring grubby tenants in the front room preoccupied with snorting spliffs and erectile dysfunction.

Now, I’m not sure about Andrew, but I was expecting – perhaps it was naïve – or idealistically romantic for Oamaru – but I thought. Well.

I imagined Andrew and I walking into a house and our eyes meeting in an instant of perfect, piquant accord, our excitement swelling as we trail after the real estate agent until she leaves us to “talk it over”; barely containing myself until she closes the door softly behind her, then giving a shriek that somehow manages to be sexy and charmingly girlish rather than making the nerves spasm in cramp and leaping into Andrew’s arms and him twirling me around, laughing joyously. Then we’d both start talking at once and there’d be more joyous laughter and possibly more twirling.

So that didn’t happen. Didn’t come close. Possibly because I’m not sure Andrew’s given to anything more excessive than an enigmatic smirk. Also, of course, the social twiggle he issues to acknowledge someone has gone to the effort to make a joke although they’ll have to try MUCH harder to evince anything in the vicinity of joyous laughter.

He’s also not the twirling type – although I live in hope. Once – admittedly a LONG time ago – at least 10 years – also Andrew was really quite lopsided – we were at a nightclub and he treated me to a Dirty Dancing moment. You know after “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” Patrick Swayze throws Jennifer Whatsherchops over his head and then everyone starts dancing and he lifts her up in the air. That bit. Frankly, it was quite uncomfortable about the pits and after – ooh, I don’t know – four seconds, I felt a bit of a pratt poked up there. I know I was supposed to be carried away by the moment and Andrew’s strong, manly arms, and oblivious to anyone but him, but I ended up looking around thinking, “I hope he puts me down soon and nobody steals my vodka and ginger ale in the meantime”. But all said and done, it’s a nice experience to have shared together and I remember it fondly.

ANYHOO. It soon became apparent that Andrew’s and my preferences are – astonishingly – completely contradictory. Basically, the problem is that I prefer tasteful houses, while Husband doesn’t.

I fell for a gorgeous 1890 house in pristine condition about 25 minutes out of town with an orchard. ORCHARD! Everything I loved about it, Andrew hated: the walk-in larder off the kitchen (“That would just annoy me, having to walk down two steps to the fridge”), three bedrooms (“Too small”), original wood paneling (“Feels dark”), woolshed (“Eyesore. We’d have to tear that down”), a log burner and a destructor (“SNIFF!”), brass fittings (no comment), fully self-contained and largely self-sufficient (“Lots of maintenance”).

Andrew’s flat refusal to be swayed by the ORCHARD! makes me seriously question the foundation of our marriage if not our entire relationship.

Thankfully, whenever I struggle with doubt, I have that Dirty Dancing moment to fall back on.

The property Andrew liked didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. It had a roof, walls, driveway, whatever. View of the sea – but really, EVERYWHERE in Oamaru has a view of the sea. It also, admittedly, had lambs – but in my opinion lambs are overrated. I’ve just never understood their popularity/appeal.

It is probably just as well both properties are likely beyond our means at this point in time.

We will have to compromise between my search for a home that might sate my violent nesting instinct, and Andrew’s interest in investment potential and sale value.

I’m looking for a haven where I can hang mobiles and paint the nursery while considering the benefits of terry-cloth nappies over disposables. Andrew’s looking for a shack he can do up and make a killing on – preferably a massacre – in five years time.

I have visions of me going, “Honey, we need to go; contractions are 10 seconds apart and also: FU-” and Andrew saying, “Yeah, look, can you just give me two minutes until I finish plastering the fireplace.”

Comments on: "ORCHARD!" (10)

  1. JohnP said:

    Take it from me, old Villas (possibly like lambs) are highly over-rated. I’m coming to the conclusion that the only good use for an old house is firewood. Go for modern, well-insulated, concrete floor, plump carpet (even, god forbid, shag), log-burner, heat-pump – you get my drift. And Oamaru is a lot colder than Blenheim. What you really need is a property with a new house to live in and an old house you progressively feed into the log-burner in the new house. Sacrificial, but so, so rewarding.

  2. An 1890 house sounds ideal from a development and investment standpoint. Hard to argue with a 120 year track record of rising value, I would have thought.

    We spent nine months house-hunting. From talking to colleagues, I gather this is considered perfectly normal, at least here in Auckland. The great majority of houses we looked at were crap, for months it seemed that the only ones we liked were those far beyond our means. If you find a shortcut, do please please please let me in on it.

  3. Ohhhhh stoppit. You’re meant to poke me in the eye over my intense dislike of this Oamaru place … not prove me right. Damn him and his blindness regarding house with orchard.

    Now I feel all nervous and tense about this story unfolding. Thank goodness I have you on google reader and will, at least, get to read it as it happens … well, as it is written about.


  4. deadlyjelly said:

    JohnP – you’re probably right, but we will not be told. Old houses have things like ORCHARDS! and wooden panelling and lead windows. But you can look forward to saying ‘I told you so’ when you visit us and I’m vainly attempting to warm my baby by rubbing him with a stick.

    PS SHAG?! Honey, you do realise this is 40 years on from 1971? Just checking.

    Vet – nine months? We have six weeks. I’m treating it as a . . . challenge. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Di – I’m not sure that house would have worked out for us. It’s not off the table; Husband has agreed he could suffer the ORCHARD! if we got it for the right price and for a maximum period of 5 years. I’ve been poking him in the eye, so at least he has an excuse for the blindness.

    I am prepared to give up my ORCHARD! for my man. So far, that’s as close a definition of true love as I’ve ever reached. True love, with some martyrdom mixed in to make it more palatable.


  5. I so understand. Hmmm, should I have emphasised the ‘SO; more? Well yes, I live in Belgium, and the only reason for that is this Belgian bloke. It’s insane. Good luck

  6. Oh … and ‘I gave up my country for you’ works a treat sometimes. And then there’s the usage of your body for offspring who may (or may not) be carrying his name. Just … you know … some pointers.

  7. deadlyjelly said:

    Ooh, thanks for the tips! So far, “Consider your unborn child!” has been highly effective. It might be a bit late for “I gave up my country for you”, although recently the whole “For you I lived in a giant sandbox long after I gave up building sandcastles and really you can dig holes anywhere” has been pressed into service again. It’s not that I’ve overlooked the baby incubation angle; I’ve just found it tricky to apply. I’m sure I’ll come up with something – I may never get such an opportunity again.

  8. It’s never too late for ‘I gave up my country for you’. I hope to always use it. You will come up with marvellous and witty stuff. I know it.

    Oh, and don’t listen to men about villas. Villas were my happiest homes in New Zealand. Sash windows, long halls, verandas … and an orchard is a huge bonus.

  9. mumsie said:

    You don’t want a new house until you get too old and decrepit to maintain an old, real house with character etc. Sadly, we have downsized to an easy maintenance, newly built house. Its location is very good for old fogeys like us; it is easy to heat, the roof should outlast us, it gets fewer creepy crawleys than an old house and so on – but the rooms are small and lacking in character, the outdoor space very compact – it is in fact very suitable for aged people. I would however, hate to live in it at your age and it is no place to raise a family. Good luck, I’m watching this space.


  10. I swear that dirtbirk has made the journey up and down the country so many times, I’m surprized it needed the trailer. Surely you could just turn the key in the ignition and it would find its own way while you squeezed more crap into the trailer.

    And as for the coolbox – it should be in the Guinness Book of Records for the amount of traveling it has done. I assume that it features in the return journey as well!

    I love how you think that Andrew would ask for two minutes while your contractions are 10 seconds apart. Surely it would be more along the lines of, “Yep – still plastering the fireplace, let me know when you are done and I’ll bring a scissors for you to cut the chord. Then you can clean up – the fireplace that is.”

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