Southerners take to the floor

20:20, Jan 20 2013

The concrete grinder people arrived at home the other day to see what they had to do with the floor of one room.

As happens so often in Marlborough, one of them was from "down south".

Not my home region of Southland, but very close. Balclutha, which is about 45 minutes up the road in South Otago. David Latta country.

We didn't play the "Southland game" of who-do-you-know, but I'm sure if we had started we would have come up with at least half a dozen names in common within the space of five minutes.

They talked about going to a niece's wedding in Winton, which is deep in the heart of Southland and would have given us plenty more names to throw in the hat.

I know most New Zealanders play this game, but it's particularly popular down south, mainly because there are so few of us, we're all related somehow and most of us leave the place eventually.


If two people can't get to at least one person in common in two steps - like, my grandmother lives next to your sister-in-law's brother - then you almost start wondering if they are a genuine Southlander.

The grinding people had come to see how big a job it was to pull up the old cork tiles in our TV room and grind the concrete underneath back to a smooth, polished finish.

It turned out to be a relatively easy job, but they sent me off to look at a couple of floors in town to decide whether we wanted a reasonably smooth finish or a very smooth finish.

One was at Watery Mouth cafe, which was easy to check. I wandered in, ordered a coffee and kneeled down to touch and examine.

The example of the very smooth finish was in the Red Hot Fashion store. The shop was quite busy when I went in and I didn't want to disrupt the assistants, who were busy serving, so I just knelt down inside the door and examined in the floor.

I suddenly realised how strange this might look - man down on the floor in a women's fashion shop - so I didn't stay long.

I also didn't notice too much difference between the two floors in the quality of the polish, so it was easy to make the choice.

The grinding people arrived back at the house last week with a lot of equipment, set themselves up and started their work.

I wasn't around to watch the process, but the progress is good. We really won't be able to tell until they've finished and the floor is covered with a sealer that will bring out the colour of the stones in the mix.

We've looked at a lot of polished concrete during the past few months trying to make some of our renovation decisions.

The floor in the entrance at Rock Ferry is a good one and we liked the big slab bench at Wither Hills winery so much we were keen to do the same thing in the kitchen, until the engineer worked out how heavy it was going to be, and that we would need to repile the kitchen floor to carry the weight. We've since decided on a lighter option.

The hardest part of this renovation process is making the decisions.

And just when you think you've got it all sorted, the builders arrive and start uncovering things that lead to a whole lot more decisions.

But more of that later.

The Marlborough Express