22 March 2018

More renovations afoot

We took over out little spot at Man Kok Tsui ten years ago this year.   When we first took it over it was a damp, rotting and crumbling shed with a very shaky wooden lean too roof, no kitchen and a bathroom that was of a rustic theme to say the least.   The loo ran on pond water, there was no potable water and the electrical wiring was a mix of old and frayed wires connected by equally fragile looking ceramic switches that were last used on a Frankenstein movie set.    The windows were so rusted they could not close and the front door simply was not there.    Inside were three rooms, each with a mini cock loft.   

Behind the house the slope supporting wall had collapsed and backfilled to a height of almost two metres, so much so that it could almost have been said that the house was holding up the retaining wall.    Inside, it was so damp that when it rained the water would drain through the house wall into an indoor gutter, yes and indoor gutter! that ran along the floor next to the wall and out through a hole in the front wall.

Over time, we have slowly improved and made good.   We now have a kitchen and a bathroom.   We have potable water, three phase electrical wiring.    The retaining wall behind the house is now back where it should be and the house no longer holds the wall up.   The damp has gone and with the new windows and doors it is surprisingly cosy.

How it was in 2008

How it was in 2009

How it was in 2010

How its going to be in 2018
Well, the plan is simple.   Because the house roof is made of wooden beams holding up three layers of roofing materials, starting with wriggly tin then poured concrete on top of that and then a second tin roof a few inches above (presumably to create some sort of heat insulation) we have decided it is best to rust seal seal the upper roof to prevent it self destructing and then build a fourth roof to cover not only the existing buildings but also the open areas to the front.    This should create a much larger living space in front of the house.   Here goes nothing.


Rush hour in Mui Wo

There was a big herd of buffalo in Mui Wo earlier this week.    All seemed peaceful enough and the big bulls seemed totally relaxed.    

But this big fellah who from a distance looked like he was just out enjoying the spring sunshine has evidently been in a bit of action.      

The rest of the herd was nowhere to be seen so perhaps he has decided to go and find another herd to try his luck in? 

17 January 2018

First ever sighting of a crested goshawk - superb

Saw a beautiful crested goshawk soaring and displaying over the hills behind the Pamela Youde hospital in Chai Wan this afternoon.   A super clear day but it did take me a while to work out what it was.    Initially I though tit may have been a buzzard as the wings were too rounded to be the usual kite and the tail was long and quite flared rather than pointed like the kites.   But it was just too small.   It was hard to compare its size as no other birds came close to it but what gave it away was the very distinct white feathering underneath and directly before the tail feathers and the way it was able to instantly dive and turn as it explored along the tree lines.   The first time I have ever seen one of these in the wild.

08 December 2017

Easter eggs come early

Presumably because Christmas marketing seems to start earlier and earlier each year our cockatiels, Douglas and Babs have decided to get in on the act too and yesterday, exactly 1 week after the new and much larger nest box was installed they have all ready produced their first egg.   

23 August 2017

Any port in a storm

While checking over the boat last night before the typhoon struck today, I found this fellow resting, curled up around the engine control leads.    The picture is not very clear but it is a baby Burmese Python of around two feet in length.    I have no idea where he came from or how long he had been living on the boat either.   Anyhow, he was duly set adrift to find his home elsewhere.

08 August 2017

Tokay Gecko

Stock photo of Tokay Gecko
Was rather privileged to catch a glimpse of my first Tokay Gecko in Hong Kong in 25 years the other day.   The rather splendid and quite big reptile was casually walking across the Tung Chung Road a the bottom of the hill by the YMCA in Tung Chung.    I had no idea what it was until I started digging about at hk reptiles

Apparently these lizards were first discovered in Tung Chung in 1951.    How cool it is to know they have managed to survive all the building works and construction.

16 July 2017

Maiden Voyage for the "Rubber Johnny"!

The route

Making the mooring
It should have been a quick zoom from Saikung down to Clearwater Bay, across to Shek O and then around Lamma to get to Mui Wo.   After some test drives around Hebe Haven and a few long hard looks at the rain bands and thunderstorms that were showing on the observatory's radar and of course a large lunch of beef in black been sauce on deep fried noodles, we set off.  

We filled up with fuel, 75 litres.....   25 litres for each engine and a spare 25 litres.
We saw the drip from the steering hydraulics but it was only a drip!!!!We knew the trim tilt hydraulics were shot and we would have to trim the engines by their revs only.The steering hydraulics was empty by the time we reached Shek O headland so we had no choice but to stop and find somewhere to refill them as to be without steerage in one of the worlds busiest shipping lanes would not be a good idea.

Hydraulics refilled we headed for Lantau but first one engine ran out of fuel so we switched it to the spare tank but then the other conked out too so we had to limp across the shipping lane, running on one engine and timing our crossing to make sure we did not get in the way of the very speedy Macau ferries!    But then the engine conked out again.    Thankfully it was just a matter of venting the fuel tank and we were on our way agin. Once back at Mui Wo we had to next sort out a mooring and contend with some nasty rain squalls that timed their arrival perfectly.       Safely tied up we headed home and slept and slept and slept.   The next morning it was back to check the boat and  make a more permanent, running mooring.   A fun time indeed.

All done

03 July 2017

The new toy.

Oh yes indeed.   What you are looking at here is the new addition to the Man Kok Tsui empire.    100 horses of power attached to an 18 foot rigid inflatable boat.    It's at the boat yard right now having its bum cleaned.   The engines have been given a once over and while there are always things that can be sorted out on a boat, basically it is good to go.    

30 May 2017

Nearly fledged

About 3 weeks old
Wong Dai or 17 year old Orange Winged Amazon.  
Greedily mops up the left over baby bird formula 
Falling asleep on my hand after being fed

Our cockatiels have bravely tried to raise three broods this year.   The first batch of eggs were patiently sat on for four weeks but none hatched so we removed them.   Yet three weeks later they were busy brooding a second clutch.    This time three of the eggs hatched but all three only survived a week or so.   After that we removed the nest box as we did not want them to keep laying and laying but they found a way and a third set of eggs were duly laid.   This time three hatched but only one has survived.   We suspect the nest box they have used was too small and cramped and only the strongest was getting noticed in the scrum inside.   Anyhow, this little chap (or chappess)  is all but ready to leave the nest box.  

What Wood Yew Do?

Loaded into the truck
What does over 1000 square feet of rescued teak planking look like? At first glance, not much we thought but it certainly seemed to get bigger and heavier as the day wore on.

The plan is to clean it all up then cut it into small lengths and make a rustic kind of parquet flooring for the three bedrooms and if any of it is left over then maybe make some sort of wood floor for the bathroom too.

My DIY prowess is dismal to say the least so thus could either be a massive surprise or a complete disaster...
High tide but boatman refused to go
to let us off load there 
The first sampan load on the pier

Off to fetch the next load

The stack just seemed to grow and grow