Welcome – Please make yourself at home.

Water

We are on tank water here; the water is collected off the main house roof into the tank by the front door. From there we pump it up to the top of the property by the main gate. We do have plenty of water and there is no chance that you’ll run out of water for the house.

We do need you to keep an eye on the water troughs in the paddocks around the house please. They should all be near-full and will fill up automatically using ball-cock valves in each trough. Occasionally, maybe once a year we might have an issue with a valve somewhere on the farm which might cause one of the valves somewhere to over-flow and run the farm-tank down. Each tank has a water level indicator attached, popping up, out of the top of each tank, as the level drops the indicator drops too. The farm tank is the left-most tank at the top of the property. One way to know if we have lost some of the farm-water is to check the height of the indicator on that tank. It is highly unlikely that you will experience this, but it does help to know what to look for if you suspect a problem with the farm water.

The troughs in the small paddock just beneath the house are not plumbed in so they don’t fill automatically. Those are the ones in the small paddock / pen just beneath the kitchen window.

The farm tank has two draw-valves on it, one at the bottom of the tank (which is normally closed), and another which is half way up. Only the one half way up is normally open – which means if we do have an issue with the water overflowing somewhere across the farm, then we typically only lose the top-half of the tank. When we then fix the issue, we can draw from the bottom half, without first needing to replenish the water supply held in the tank.

If you were to experience any issue like this, then clearly for the welfare of the animals this is important and we’ll need your help with this please. – It’s highly unlikely and you don’t need to be overly concerned about this.

Please listen for toilets continuing to run-through after flushing, sometimes the one in the garage block, and the one in our en-suite can do this from time to time. If left running they’ll waste a fair amount of tank water.

Phone

There is a cordless phone on the breakfast bar, the home number is 09-4224001. Feel free to use it, we have x100 mins of included mobile calling each month which you are free to use. National (landline) calls are free, as are a number of land-line calls to a reasonable number of countries including Australia, UK, USA. Mobile calls to the UK are charged. Feel free to make international calls to AU, UK and USA land-lines.

Vodafone reception here is very poor, Spark is decent; I get 4 bars on my phone at the table outside on Spark. 2degrees leverage off the Vodafone network and so they are likely to be very marginal here too. Skinny use the Spark network so they are reasonable. If you need to receive inbound Vodafone text messages, then I believe you will get reception if you travel up the road towards the top of the hill.

Internet

We have reasonable internet here, supplied by StrataNet. If you have any issues with the internet, then Chris will be your first port of call on 021624717.

Your internet access will be by WiFI – you are free to use as much as you want while you’re here. Our WiFi network name is SplodgeUnifi and the access password is bollocks (sorry about that).

There is good WiFi coverage all over the house, and there’s a secondary access point within the primary guest room. The light on that unit has been disabled so that it does not glow brightly at night, but if it’s plugged in, then it should be working (without any light showing on it).

Because of the nature of my work, I have got up-time monitoring on the internet connection to home; and so if the connection were to go down for any length of time, I would receive notification to my phone. This doesn’t happen all that frequently, so I’m hoping you’ll be 100% fine while you’re here.

Problems with Animals

In the unlikely event you were to have a problem with any of the animals; then please do what can initially to make sure they are well cared for. Clearly if there is any need for a vet to become involved, then you’re fine to assure them that we will meet their bills.

Cats, sheep and cows – We tend to use the vets in Warkworth; 09-4258244.

Horses – Vet if needed, however there is also Stella’s boss who is available to visit and to give her opinion on what ought to be done. Tina is on 021627456 or her husband (also) Chris on 021627458.

Murray, our neighbour directly across the road at 54 Martin Access (down the drive, past the cow-shed) would be able to give some assistance / opinion on the cows if needed. He and his wife, Rhonda are fully aware of you being here and are also available if you have any personal safety or security concerns at all while you’re here – they are good, honest, friendly and helpful people so if you do need some local, immediate help, give them a call – 09-4224007

Privacy

Some of our closest neighbours have been told that you’re here, but they’ve also been asked to stay away unless you make contact and request their company.

Murray and Rhonda – 54 Martin Access Rd, on 09-4224007 are your closest and most friendly and helpful of the neighbours. Their driveway is directly across from ours, and down the hill towards the milking shed, their house is a little way beyond that. They’re in their 60s. Great people.

We hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here and that you make yourself at home.

Security cameras

We only have one active security camera, it’s on the side of the small shed facing up the driveway.

There is another camera which is inactive by the front-door of the house. There are no cameras inside of the house.

Office / printing

Apple devices on the WiFi network will be able to see and use the printer upstairs in my office, so if you do have a need to print anything then sending it to your iPhone and printing from that might end up being your easiest way. If you are using an apple laptop, then you should also be able to see that printer as an ‘Air Printer’.

Do use this if you need to.

Deck sounds

There’s an echo unit and speakers down on the lower deck which you can use, to turn these on, tell the echo unit in the lounge: ‘Echo, turn on the deck sounds’. When you’re done, you can tell any of them to ‘Echo, turn off the deck sounds’.

It takes a good minute or so for the deck sounds to start up after you’ve turned them on, you will hear a beep/ chime from it when it is ready. You can change the volume of the deck sounds output by asking ‘Echo, set the volume to X’ (3-5 is likely to be about right for your use I would imagine, but it can go quite loud if you wanted…)

Spotify

The sound system in the lounge can be manually set to PC – which should then read ‘Pi Analogue’ when it’s on and active. This is what it’ll need to be set to in order for you to hear anything out of the Lounge Echo. Once it’s active you’re able to ask Echo to play music from Spotify by saying ‘Echo, play music from spotify’ – it’ll carry on with the most recently played play-list. If you want to ask it to play a specific song, or songs by a certain artist you can say: ‘Echo, play With or Without you, by U2’ or ‘Echo play songs by U2’ – you can ask for Genres or guess a likely playlist name like ‘Echo, play Classic Blues on Spotify’, if it can find either an album or playlist by that name, you’ll be in luck! Once you’ve turned on the deck sounds, you can do the same with the speaker set down there by talking to Echo – there’s a little unit in the Systema box in the roof space of the deck roofing, it’l need to be on first. 🙂

Swim spa

We are very happy for you to use this as much as you want. Clearly there’s a technique to removing and putting the covers back on, but if you float the central covers on the water rather than dragging them over the edge, it is really pretty easy.

Covers

The covers stay connected in pairs, so the six covers end up being removed in thirds. The two end thirds have the lifters to help to lift them out of the way, you open up the second segment, back onto the end segment, then use the lifter to slide both upwards and out of the way.

Fold up the central-third away from the house, then using the water to support the weight of the two pieces, float it away from the house a little, then rock it over the edge and lower it down to the floor.

Cat mat

To give the cats a fighting chance of getting out of the pool if they were to fall in, unattended, we will always put the cat-mat over the side of an unattended pool. It’s good for peace of mind.

Closing up

Chlorine – if you’re using it daily, then just two tablespoons of chlorine would be fine. If it’s only getting weekly use, then please use four tablespoons. If when you get in it feels at all slippery or slimy, then please use 4 to 6 tablespoons when you close up, that will fix that problem overnight.

We dissolve the chlorine granules using the red shaker before adding it to the pool, into the filter bay.

Coffee machine

I will be thrilled to hear that you’ve made good use of the coffee machine.

The switches on the top are (L to R): 1) ON/OFF 2) Manual Pump switch 3) Heat water for Steam (normally OFF)

The lights indicate: 1) Power is on, 2) Boiler is actively heating 3) Steam mode

You only need Steam mode if you’re working to make steamed milk.

There’s an ‘echo power switch’ controlling the coffee machine, which you can remove if you want, if you leave it there, then you would leave the (1) ON/OFF switch permanently ON, and switch it using voice commands. 🙂 – Echo, turn on the coffee machine.

Coffee making routine is:

1. Turn on, and wait for Boiler light to go off. – Then it’s ready.
2. Put cup under wand, flick switch 2 which will run the pump, open the tap to flow the pumped hot water into your cup to pre-heat your cup.
3. Turn off switch, close tap.
4. Release the basket from the machine and grind your coffee into the basket, allow the front of the handle to drop downwards to help to fill all of the basket to the front, shuffle the coffee and top it up, then tamper the coffee firmly. I brush any messy grinds off the top surface of the basket so that it seals nicely when it’s inserted into the machine.
5. Put the basket into the machine and tighten.
6. Pour away almost all of your hot water, leaving some in the bottom of your cup. You need to leave about three shot glasses worth of space in your cup, place this beneath the basket.
7. Lower the lever on the RHS to start the pump and open the value to allow the water to flow through the portafilter. When you want to stop the flow, raise the lever, this will also release the pressure.
8. Move the cup on to the bench and release the basket from the machine, dribble the excess liquid into the tray, then give the basket a good hard bash into the knock box.
9. Using the lever, start some water flow, and swill out the basket, readying it for the next use.
10. Replace the portafilter into the machine, and then get Echo to turn the machine off for you. 🙂

Simple. 🙂

Echo

Echo is an Amazon Alexa service. I’ve chosen to use ‘Echo’ as our activation word. All commands start with ‘Echo…’

A slight pause after ‘Echo’ can help. Also you’ll be able to see with the blue spinning lights on top if it’s listening to you.

Try these phrases:
* Echo, turn on the coffee machine
* Echo, turn on the lights (this is just for the room which you’re currently in)
* Echo, turn on the outside lights (this is a lot of lights outside, you can do them individually too – see below)
* Echo, turn on the BBQ lights
* Echo, turn on the funky lights
* Echo, turn on the blue lights
* Echo, play (song name) by (artist) on Spotify
* Echo, play (playlist name) on Spotify
* Echo, tell me a joke
* Echo, turn on the Swim Spa lights
* Echo, turn on the Deck Sounds
* Echo, tell me a joke about xxxxxx
* Echo, who won the Super Bowl in 1992?
* Echo, what time is it?
* Echo, bed time (will turn off all of the lights outside and in the lounge)

The table lamps in the lounge come on automatically each day about 45 mins before sunset. They will generally turn themselves off by 11 ish on weekdays and around midnight at weekends. Some nights the green and blue deck lights come on automatically on a timer too. I’ve forgotten exactly how they’re programmed. If they turn off before you’re ready just say ‘Echo turn on the lights’ and they should come back on easily.

You could try telling the small echo in the guest bathroom: ‘Echo, bedtime’, just as you’re heading to bed and it should turn everything off for you. You can also use that one to listen to music too.

If you get stuck with this then, Sorry, and feel free to ask me for some advice…

The sound system in the Lounge needs to be On, and set to ‘PC’ input in order for you to hear any feedback, music or response from the lounge echo unit.

TV

The TV in the lounge gets turned on using the universal remote. Press the ‘Normal TV’ button and make sure you leave it pointing at the TV until it’s finished turning on fully. That one button push turns on the TV and the AV Receiver and sets the input selections for you, if you keep it pointing at the units while it’s trying to sort things out.

We have SKY packages and SKY movies available for you while you’re here, we have Sky Spots too.

Use the ‘Normal TV’ button for sky and keep it pointing forwards until it all turns on… The small power button on the top will turn everything off when you’re done.

Feeding the cats

Cats:

  • Big black boy is Elmo
  • Mid sized tabby girl is Mia
  • Small fluffy girl with tongue sticking out is Teo.

We have plenty of Cat food, enough for 34 days or more. They eat the Fancy Feast packets which you’ll find in the back left hand side pantry cupboard. Each cat has a packet of food in the morning and again in the late afternoon, commonly around 4-5pm, which is when they’ll start to come and try to find you and ask for dinner.

They often eat in the following order left to right: Mia (eats last), Elmo (eats second), Teo (eats first). This is just what normally happens when Stel feeds them, it might all change when you do it. We often scrape leftover dried food into the toilet and flush it, and just give the bowls a quick rinse.

There are two types of cat biscuits used too, the normal big bag of biscuits which go into the bigger bowls, and near Teo’s bowl there’s a small white dish which gets topped up with their Temptations (normally treats).

They ALL enjoy being fed these in the lounge piece by piece as treats, I’m confident that you’ll be able to bribe some friendly encounters out of them with the big treat box being shaken, if you sit on the floor you’ll likely be able to hand-feed them treats, one at a time; they’re all quite gentle when they take them off you. Teo will likely end up slobbering on you, because that’s just what she does…

They have two water bowls, the one inside with their food, and a second one outside by the hammocks on the deck.

Dishwasher

Power button is on the top right, then the left most button is the programme button, we usually cycle it through to the second programme witch is a heavy duty wash. Put the soap block into the holder and shut the little door first, then press the second button from the left to start the programme, it’ll beep at you four or five times to indicate it’s finished its cycle.

Rubbish

Rubbish day for domestic waste (orange bin bag) is Thursday morning, at the bottom of the road, just to the left at the bottom. You’ll see a stack of bags down there. Drop these off before 9am and you should be fine.

Recycling

Every second week on Thursdays as well, the day after we leave is one of the Recycling days, so we’ll take the big bin up to the top of our drive and leave it there when we leave – Perhaps you could grab it towards the end of Thursday afternoon and bring it back down? There will be another Recycling day on Thu, 3rd March. They ask that the bin opens to the road side, so put the hinge of the bin towards the house.

There’s a small bin in the back of the pantry which we commonly fill, then empty into the bigger bin in the garage.

Our busy times

Our main event is from Friday 18th Feb – Noon, until Sunday 20th Feb, Noon. – We’ll be riding intensively during those days.
On Monday 21st we’ll be going to Danseyes Pass Hotel which is in the middle of nowhere.
Thu 24th, Fri 25th and Sat 26th we have plans to be dirt bike and Quad riding in remote areas.

Apart from those specific times, we should be generally available on the phone, if you need anything please do call.
Chris – 021624717.
Stella – 0211783914

A tracking link for our riding is here if you’re interested in seeing what the hell we’re doing?…
https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/7e16-32859ec-b2c5/view

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