Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Monday, December 5, 2016

It’s starting to look like Christmas

Home for the weekend – so a good opportunity to put the Christmas “stuff” up.  This always starts with a trip up to the loft climbing a narrow set of pull down stairs to retrieve the Christmas crates.  Robin isn’t bothered by this excursion, but I’m always careful where I put my feet so I don’t trip and fall.  Down came the crates and we got to work.  I got busy hanging Christmas quilts and arranging decorations we had gathered over the years.

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Christmas ornaments

Although we had originally decided not to hang any lights this year, Robin couldn’t help himself.  He was up the ladder before you could say “Christmas is Coming” and started hanging a string of lights up above the windows.  The command hooks, being practically invisible,  are left in situ so it’s just a matter of hooking the lights in place.

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Then the tree in the front garden got a make-over.  My job was to steady the ladder, and hang on to the lights while Robin artistically threaded them through the branches.  It’s only one string of lights, but they do look festive twinkling in the darkness.

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Up the ladder

After all that excitement, we fired up the Weber for our evening meal.  We hadn’t yet tried cooking a whole chicken on the BBQ before, and once again, the Weber did a great job.  While that was cooking away on the patio, and smelling wonderful, I cooked up a pan of crispy roast potatoes in the oven,  flavoured with parmesan and rosemary. 

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Yummy chicken dinner

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Super Year for our Super Leisure Group

As the year is coming to a close, Christmas outings for our various groups are coming thick and fast.  Jan was tasked with organizing our final SLG (Super Leisure Group) outing for the year.  No trouble, she decided, she booked a table for an early Christmas lunch in a swanky hotel in Wellington.  But……… a couple of weeks ago New Zealand was rocked by a huge earthquake.  Some buildings in Wellington city were damaged and had been cordoned off from traffic, although there was no damage to the hotel we were to go for our lunch.  But niggardly doubts crept in, the “what if” thoughts surfaced, maybe there will be another earthquake and we will be trapped in the central city, and it just seemed better to stay away.

So the plans were changed, and our Christmas get-together was to be held at Jan and John’s home.  They would provide a turkey and a chicken along with stuffing, new potatoes, carrots, and gravy, and the rest of us were asked to bring specific items for the meal. We arrived in good time, but some of the others were caught up in traffic delays and road closures after an accident in the Hutt Valley.  But everyone eventually arrived, safe and sound, with their stories of diversions, long delays and slow traffic. 

Christmas had arrived at our hosts home, the decorated tree was in the corner,and Christmas carols were softly playing to set the mood.  The living room had been transformed with beautifully set tables and delicious smells were permeating from the kitchen.  We had plenty of time to chat, eat some nibbles and catch up with everyone’s news and recent travel tales.  The tables had been arranged in a “T” shape, just like a wedding party, we decided.  And why not – Jan and John had a Silver Wedding to celebrate.  They sat at the top table with Trish, their "bridesmaid for the day".

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Hosts Jan and John, with Trish

The rest of us sat at the lower table, and we all pulled our crackers, and donned our silly hats.  Then tucked in to a wonderful meal.

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Jenny, Calvin, Helen, Yvonne, Ashley and Robin

It’s a time for reminiscing too, and look back at what we have done, and where we have been with our SLG friends over the year.  Sadly we had to miss a few outings because of health issues, and then our Aussie Adventure trip took us away for nearly a month.  But we fondly remember our visits to:  
Lego Exhibition, Deer Story Museum, Kahutara Taxidermy Gallery, Owlcatraz, Shannon Railway Museum, Ukulele Institute concert, and Shapeshifters sculpture exhibition.  And all the morning teas and café lunches which were part and parcel of our group outings.

We shared celebrations and commiserations too during the year.  We helped John celebrate his 70th birthday in January, and the group offered their sympathy when we lost our beloved cat Muffy in May.  Several of us have had a bumpy year with our health, others have lost friends or family, and we can rely on the group for comfort and support.

As reported, our year of get-togethers has finished on a high note, with a wonderful early Christmas dinner, complete with turkey and plum pudding.  What better way to finish the year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dinosaurs in Palmy

Dinosaurs are alive and well and rampaging around Palmy, and we only found out by accident.  I had picked up an Air New Zealand magazine from our recent flight back home from Australia and read about this exhibition currently on show at Te Manawa Museum.  All the way from the prestigious Natural History Museum of London, no less!  We had seen the dinosaur exhibition on our UK trip a few years ago, read about our previous sighting of the dinosaurs  in the Natural History Museum here.

Why is it such a secret, we wondered.  We had seen no sign of local advertising in newspapers or on the radio, and no huge billboards adorning the streets of Palmerston North.  Very strange indeed.  Yesterday we checked it out, purchased our tickets and joined crowds of school kids as they noisily ran around the exhibition.

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This way to the dinosaurs

The exhibition was very well done, with lifelike moving models squeaking, chattering, and roaring their heads off, brought to life by state-of-the-art animatronics.  It all started, as good dinosaur  stories do, in the nursery.  The eggs were carefully incubated and hatched, the youngsters didn’t stop growing and couldn’t be controlled, and then the creatures broke out of their cages to run amok through the city.  We walked into the exhibition to see a state of devastation, broken masonry everywhere, sirens screaming, and dinosaurs on the warpath.

We could hear the sounds of planes hurriedly taking off as a giant T-Rex rampaged around the Palmerston North airport. Luggage and trollies were overturned, shoes and handbags were left lying on the ground, and no doubt passengers were quivering in fear and locked in the bathrooms in the airport building.  Tyrannosaurus Rex, with his strength, great vision and sense of smell, was the number one predator in the dinosaur world.

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T Rex causing havoc in front of the airport building

Keeping a wary eye on T Rex were three much smaller Oviraptors, also known as “egg thieves”.  Their powerful, toothless jaws were ideal for crushing eggs.

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Oviraptors – egg thief dinosaurs

And the Palmerston North Hospital environs wasn’t safe either, with another T Rex terrorising the area.  More broken masonry scattered about, seats overturned, and traffic lights and fences smashed and overturned.  T Rex was joined by an Ankylosaurus, which relied on it’s heavy body armour and the bony club at the end of it’s tail to deter predators.

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Another T Rex and an Ankylosaurus by the hospital

Two baby Triceratops were squeaking and staying close to their mother while all this carnage was going on.  With their large horns and spiky neck frill the adults were quite capable of fighter off predators.

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Family of Triceratops

The fish eating Baryonyx had found some dinner in the centre city pond – it’s teeth and jaws are similar to those of modern crocodiles.

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Baryonyx with fish for dinner

The birdlike Ornithomimus was chattering away by an outdoors café in downtown Palmy.  Café table and chairs were upended, and the street sign was lying ripped out and tossed aside.  This creature has a strong likeness to a modern day ostrich or emu, and could run like the wind.

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Ornithomimus in the wreck of the café

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One of them got me in the end – HELP!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A pair of Social Butterflies

I blame the pre-Christmas rush – it’s turning us into a pair of social butterflies.  What with a blokes breakfast for Robin, a ladies lunch for me, an invitation  to a birthday bash, and then hosting a lunch for friends at home, all in the space of a few day, it’s been one social activity after another.  And things will only get busier as various clubs and groups organize their end of year functions over the next few weeks.  You certainly need plenty of stamina at this time of the year to keep up with everything that is going on.  It’s just as well that the  next two weekends are caravan free for a change.  No rushing off here and there towing then caravan behind us as we are prone to do. 

Robin was in his Happy Place today.  Nice and cozy in his Lazy-Boy chair, watching his beloved All Black Rugby boys set against the mighty French rugby team.  And the score?  All Blacks  won with a 24-19 victory over France in Paris for their final Test of 2016.

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All Blacks performing the Haka

It’s a good day to be inside today – outside it is a wet and wild Sunday.  The trees are bending in the wind, the strong wind is howling around our door, the rain comes in sheets, and Mother Nature must have forgotten that Summer is almost here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Combined Rally at Carterton

The Wairarapa sunshine came out in force over the weekend.  Off came the woolly winter clothes from the day before, Robin got to wear his shorts again, and we both needed sun hats to keep the glare at bay.  Camping always seems so much happier in the sunshine, don’t you think? 

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We were staying at Carterton School for the weekend, and what a lovely school it was, lots of lovely large trees dotted around.  We used the large grassed area behind the classrooms for a few games on Saturday – although I suspect only the keen competitive ones were happy to be out in the hot sun.  The rest of us watched and chatted under the shady trees.  After several games of Petanque and bowls we were all gamed out, and happy to move on to 4zees.

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Under the shady trees.

We had the use of the school hall, which was handy for the evenings.  On Saturday evening we gathered together and were initiated into the new to us game of Bingo played with packs of playing cards.  It was easy to see who card players were as they expertly shuffled the deck and dealt out the cards.  We all received a choccie bar for taking part, whether we won or not.  The hall has several sets of colourful patchwork curtains embroidered with the names of pupils, fairly old by the look of them – that was a lot of work for someone to organise and sew them together back in the day.

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Curtains in the school hall

During Sunday morning tea the winners were announced for the games.  It just wasn’t our weekend as our Heretaunga Club was firmly trounced by the host club Wairarapa.  But never mind, it was fun.  The next prize was for the Lucky Van, won by our club members Don and Sandra.  Some packed up and left for home, but we stayed on for lunch, making the most of the sunshine.

I had a wander around the school grounds, and came across several veggie gardens planted and cared for the various classrooms.  The school swimming pool was surrounded by a tall iron fence, decorated with gaily painted fish of all kinds, obviously another school project.  And I rather liked the school  sign showing the 3rs of respect, simple rules, but very effective when adhered to.

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Around the school

Our return journey took us over the Rimutaka Hill, always a bit of a challenge with wind gusts, steep climbs  and lots of corners. 

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Featherston side of the Rimutaka Hill road

There was a lot of traffic out and about, and maybe people were just pleased to take a Sunday drive after the week we had with earthquakes, storms, and multiple road closures.  Groups of motor bikers roared past us on the hill, some overtaking us on double yellow lines, to my horror.  We could see where small landslides and rock falls had come down, on the hill road, and along the Kapiti Coast road as well.   Mother Nature does what she wants, and the clean up crews just have to tidy up after her.

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Kapiti Island was looking a bit hazy off the coast

Many thanks to the Wairarapa Caravan Club for a great combined rally weekend, we certainly had fun and enjoyed their friendship and hospitality.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Changeable Climes in Carterton

Winter came calling at Carterton on Friday morning – so much that we searched through our cupboards for cozy warm clothes.  With a bit of mumbling and grumbling Robin discarded his much loved summer wear of shorts, tee shirt and sandals for jeans, jersey and shoes and socks.  Bill and Val joined us at the camp the previous afternoon, and we think they must have brought the bad weather with them.

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Two Leisurelines at Carterton Holiday Park

We were continuing on to Carterton School to join the Combined rally hosted by the Wairarapa caravan Club.  But being a school day the arrival time was 4.00pm – and we had to depart the motor camp at 10.00am.  Problem solved – we would park up for a lazy day at local Rugby Club Grounds.  So we did, and spent the day chatting, reading, with a little shopping thrown in the mix too. 

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Rugby Club Grounds

Val and I walked up to Wild Oats Café to get some nice fresh bread rolls for lunch.  With a rain parka and a brolly between us, we did a great job of keeping the rain showers at bay.  A new sculpture has appeared in Millennium Park outside the café  – of Charles Rooking Carter, the founder of Carterton.  The Lions Club of Carterton fundraised and applied for grants to cover the $90,000 cost of getting the sculpture commissioned by Renowned Auckland Sculpture's "Progressive Castings".  This company also produced the Michael Jones statue, which is highly praised around the world.

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Charles Rooking Carter

In 1890 Charles Carter presented a collection of 395 works on New Zealand to the New Zealand Institute and Colonial Museum and by the time of his death the collection exceeded 1,000 books. His gifts to the Carterton borough library made it one of the best in the country by the time of his death. In his will Carter left the residue of his estate to the New Zealand Institute for an astronomical observatory and this bequest led eventually to the establishment of the Carter Observatory in Wellington.

We joined the Wairarapa Caravan Club later in the afternoon for our weekend rally.  By this stage the weather had improved dramatically.  Gone was the cold wind, the sun had come out and the early arrivals were sitting outside having 4zees in the sunshine.  It promises to be a great weekend.

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At Carterton School

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Over the Track to Carterton

There were several questions that needed answering:  What roads are still closed?  Has the wind abated? Will we be able to travel to the Wairarapa today?  Yesterday was a non event as far as caravan towing went with wide spread flooding and road closures.  Hopefully today will be a better day and we can carry on with Plan B.

With heavy wind warnings on the Rimutaka Hill Road, the driver decided to head north and travel over the Pahiatua Track road, although that can be prone to winds too.  So the caravan was hooked up, and we were on our way, driving very carefully.

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The weather was showery, the winds were blustery, but it wasn’t too bad at all, as long as the driver kept his wits about him.  And the traffic was rather light too, which was a bonus.

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Driving up the Track

Once down the other side, the wind gusts really increased, particularly the stretch of road between Mt Bruce and Eketahuna.  No wonder we passed several wind warning signs on the road side.  The cabbage trees were dotted here and there, and were in full flower, which attract moths, bees, and flies and wasps. After flowering berries form, attracting tuis, wood pigeons, bellbirds, blackbirds, starlings and sparrows. 

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Cabbage tree in flower

150kms after leaving home we pulled into our stop for the next two nights, Carterton Holiday Park.  New managers have taken over the lease of this camp since we were here last, and they seem a very pleasant young couple indeed.

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Once we were settled on site, and had some lunch, we took a trip down to the trendy little town of Greytown.  In particular, we were after some gourmet sausages from the local butcher, and came away with a fine assortment of different flavours.  How does lamb, lemon and oregano sound, or perhaps you would prefer a meal of their beef sausages which were the NZ Award Winners - Gold Medal for 2016?  Just a few doors away was another favourite shop,  the French Bakery.  And yes, I did call in there too, and came away with a couple of delicious fruit pastries for dessert tonight.

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Greytown Butchery

A new ablution block has appeared in Greytown since our last visit – that’s handy.  You really need to know where these facilities are while travelling around the country.

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Handy new toilet block

Returning to camp we had a restful afternoon.  We are all on our lonesome tonight but  we are looking forward to watching the TV documentary about the life of Leonard Cohen, who recently passed away, one of our favourite singers.  And tomorrow we will have friends joining us for the night, and then we will head off on Friday to another venue for the caravan rally.
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Camping by ourselves tonight