We spent the end of October and beginning of November travelling down-under, seeing Kate and Steve in Adelaide before a couple of weeks in New Zealand, then a quiet break in Singapore on the way back. Having undertaken Targa rallies in 2005 and 2007, we decided on something a little different this time. We sent the 356 down to the bottom of the South Island, then flew down to meet it to take a long drive... from the southern-most point at Bluff back to Auckland via State Highway 1. We enjoyed three days motoring up near-empty roads, visiting friends on the way, until we arrived 1130 miles later at Auckland's One Tree Hill in time for sunset.

 

 

Before leaving Auckland we packed up the 356 and prepared it for another journey: 12,000 miles in a container so it will be arriving at Green Farm Barn early next year.

 

 

 

While we were down under the F1 season finished in Abu Dhabi. It's been quite a year, living the "fairytale" from Honda's withdrawal last December through a winter of dreadful uncertainty, to the "saviour" of Brawn's management buyout. In March the press and fans were delighted by our astonishing 1-2 result in Melbourne, meanwhile we watched 250 friends lose their jobs. As the season went on we all got used to watching Jenson win time after time, but when other teams caught up and Jenson's form slumped under pressure it started to look like he might let it slip away. Thankfully he showed some real grit and made the most of some lucky breaks to win both the driver's and team's championships.

Meanwhile back at base we had a season-long struggle with non-existent finances and a woeful lack of leadership. By mid-season it became clear we were being out-developed by Red Bull, as evidenced by Vettel and Webber cleaning up the last three races, and the long-term future of the team remained uncertain. Consequently some tough decisions had to be made over the summer, so when we returned from holiday Mark started a new role at Red Bull.

Not to be left out, Sarah's also got a new role lined up, although not starting until December 1. She will take on managing two leisure centres. Consequently we expect the building rate will take a knock, as we'll both have plenty more to do at work than has been the case for the last few months.

 

 

 

Arriving home from holiday we found the onslaught of winter weather was quite a shock, so our top priority was underfloor heating for the newly carpeted bedrooms. We designed and assembled a control manifold for all the bedrooms and bathroom, then installed it in the stairwell cupboard.

 

 

Next stage was to rearrange all the "temporary" plumbing that has been lurking in the stairwell for several years. As all the pipes were fully pressurised it was a pretty tricky and wet job cutting and reorganising them, but in the end we got the three main supply feeds (hot and cold mains and recycled rainwater) plus the underfloor heating running to all bedrooms, ensuites, bathroom and laundry. No leaks, phew.

 

 

 

Once the waterworks were under control, Mark got started building the structural framework for the stairs, finally removing the stack of bricks we've used as stairs for years.

Meanwhile Sarah was sanding and oiling the skirting boards in bedroom two, ahead of its new carpet. We also had to undertake some paint repairs plus an area of fresh plaster where Michael had re-profiled one wall to fit the door post.

The lower hallway needs the full paint and oil treatment, so Mark started rolling white emulsion on the ceiling while Sarah scraped and sanded the woodwork to clean off the plaster spills.

By the end of the month we had the ceiling all finished and most of the wood preparation done. The exposed purlin and truss have been oiled, so our top-down decorating is halfway done.

We had the pleasure of another visit from Ryan this month, bizarrely just a couple of weeks after we saw him in Auckland. We got him involved in preparing a great feast, although when Sarah was teaching him to make apple crumble we caught him eating the pastry ingredients!

Next morning we did some heavy lifting to work off the excesses of the night before. Mark and Ryan consolidated several hundred kilograms of building sand, then moved a huge pile broken roof slates before shovelling rock and rubble to clear a big space for a few tonnes of walling stone we're expecting delivered soon. After that it was time for a well earned lardy fried breakfast, just to keep us warm.