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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hunkering down at Moata POP

With the “Weather Bomb” raging in southern parts of the country we are lying low in rural Masterton.  The extra strong winds are a worry, and travel has been restricted over some roads with wild wind warnings.  Yesterday the Inter Island Ferry was not sailing, and flights in and out of Wellington Airport cancelled.  Even Wellington City’s trolley bus fleet was grounded, and the power to overhead lines for the buses turned off amid fears of the live lines being blown down onto vehicles and pedestrians.  I’ve been worriedly looking at those tall trees surrounding us at the Moata POP, hoping that they are strong enough to withstand the strong winds and not come crashing down on top of us.

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Tall trees swaying in the wind

We were joined at Moata yesterday by two couples travelling in Dethletts, a caravan and a motorhome.  That makes a total of five vans, and there is plenty of room for a couple more.

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Two Leisurelines, two Dethletts and a UCC camper

The new arrivals were also part of the hundreds of vans at the Music Festival, and remembered seeing us there.  And we remembered them too, as the caravan had trouble with his brakes and Robin and Bill wandered over to see if they could help.  The problem was eventually fixed and they went on their way for several days, before arriving at the rural POP yesterday.  We joined forces for 4zees yesterday and got to know each other.  The rain came down and we must have looked quite a sight, sheltering from the wet conditions under the awnings.

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Brake trouble at the Music Festival

There is a pretty little church down the road.   St Andrew's in the Paddock is at Fernridge, on Upper Plain Road, Masterton and was built in 1922  by the prominent Masterton building firm, Hulme and Penistone.

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St Andrews in the Paddock

We are staying here at Moata for another night and do hope that the winds will have blown themselves out as we will be travelling on to Kauhutura School in Featherston for a caravan club rally.  Fingers and toes will be firmly crossed for better weather for our weekend rally.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Farm stay at Moata

It seemed that we were some of the last to leave the Music Festival venue.  While we were having our final morning tea together the remaining vans all seemed to have quietly disappeared.  We were heading north to Masterton, and after a brief stop at the supermarket to replenish the fridge, agreed to meet up at Henley Lake for lunch.  What a pretty place this is – and as a bonus, plenty of parking available for those like us towing vans.    We ate our lunches under the shady trees, with plenty of ducks to keep us company.  Those vans with certified self containment can stay overnight, but we were shortly moving on.

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Ducks at Henley Lake

We had arranged to spend the next few nights at Moata Park Over just north of Masterton.  Through the white picket fence and up the long tree lined driveway we went.

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Up the long driveway

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Passing sheep on the way

There was a warning sign to get past, and then we spotted the little wooden bridge looking just the sort of bridge which could well have a troll hiding underneath.

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Warning sign at the entrance, and a rickety bridge just right for a troll to hide under

With a bit of fancy maneuvering, the three of us were soon settled on site.  Our van and Bill and Val’s were parked side on so that we could share the shade of the awnings, and Lorraine parked her camper at the end to give us some shelter from the blustery wind.

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On site at Moata POP

After five days away we were in dire need of a visit to the launderette.  Just because we are on holiday, the laundry never stops, does it.

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Never ending laundry duties for Jenny, Lorraine and Val

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Bill braved the blustery conditions and went for a bike ride

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And then these two checked out what was underneath Bill’s van

Later on as we were enjoying the shade under the awnings we could hear Val hard at work in her kitchen.  She surprised us with some cheese and bacon scones for afternoon tea.  Thanks Val, much appreciated.

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Yummy scones for afternoon tea

The wind is just as bad as ever, and now we find out that the country will be hit with a “weather bomb”.  We will have to batten down the hatches - just as well we plan to sit tight for the next few days. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Music Festival – Part 2, Topp Twins

Consuming “fast food is always a treat at these sort of events, and we joined the crowds for our lunch of choice.  It was a hot dog for him and a curly potatoe for her – very tasty.

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Lunch time take-aways

There were caravans and campers as far as the eye could see, about 400 we were told.  All here to enjoy a weekend of country music.

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Parked in a large paddock in Tuaherenikau

The Saturday evening programme featured artists we had seen the previously night, such as the very talented Glen Moffatt.  Now based in Australia, Glen was born and bred in the Hawkes Bay.  We particularly enjoyed his original song about memories growing up, going to school in shorts, dirty knees, sporting a crew cut, and carrying his Superman lunch box – and he had just learnt to tie his shoes, he was cooler than Fonzy!

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Glen Moffat performing on stage

The stars of the evening were the Topp Twins and they got a rapturous welcome from the crowd.  A pair of New Zealand icons, these two have been performing since the late 70s.  They trotted out all the characters they had made famous, first appearing on stage in those ghastly gingham gathered skirts with the stretchy elastic waistband.

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The Topp Twins looking rather angelic

Linda always picks an unsuspecting member of the public to help her up and down from the stage.  We had seen this prank done before at shows, but Ethan was the victim on Saturday night, and didn’t know what he was letting him self in for.  “Back up to the stage”, he was instructed, “and be careful where you put those hands”.

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Careful, Ethan

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Linda playing the spoons, and Jools on the guitar

Then we had the skit with Linda twirling the pois.  Ooops – she forgot to pack them.  No problem, she did it with pretend ones.  Ethan was called into service again to help Linda off the stage, and we all hoped that her sparkly pink top stayed in place when he manhandled her off the stage.  Talk about laugh – these girls are hilarious!

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Linda with the invisible pois, and once again on Ethan’s back

Helpful Ethan was called up on stage and helped lead the “audience participation” part of the show.  Everyone stood up and joined in the fun, the campers on the grass in front of the stage, and people like us in the grand stand, as we sang along and did all the hand actions.  It was good to look down over the crowd and see everyone join in.  What a great night it was – everyone had a ball.

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Everyone joining in and having fun

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Looking quite different with another costume change and a few more songs

Sunday was much more relaxed, with quite a few vans heading off on their travels.  We sat in the grand stand and watched the line dancers for a while, and then some more “walk up” singers took the stage.  After our evening meal everyone was invited to the pavilion for an impromptu sing-along.  One of the stars of the evening was this young man who sang with real passion.

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Sunday evening sing-along in the pavilion

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The evening ended with another glorious sunset – this pic taken by Robin

Our three vans moved on after morning tea on Monday – where has everyone disappeared to?

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Practically alone on Monday morning

Where to next?  We are not ready to go home just yet so we are heading to Masterton.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wairarapa Country Music Festival

A severe wind warning on the Rimutaka Hill Road dissuaded us of taking that route on Thursday.  Instead we took the longer trip north over the Pahiatua Track.  Although still very blustery with gusts which rocked the car and caravan as we drove along.

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Up and over the Pahiatua Track

We always like driving over the iconic concrete bridge with it’s half circle sides as we approach Pahiatua.  Constructed between 1931 and 1932, the Pahiatua Town Bridge is a striking bowstring arch bridge, built for the Pahiatua County Council in the midst of the Great Depression by Fletcher Construction.  This reinforced concrete bridge was the first in a series of similar structures from the period, marking a key developmental point in the building of this visually appealing bridge type.

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Pahiatua Town Bridge

We were pleased to pass safely over Mt Bruce as just a day or two earlier a car and caravan had flipped over on this stretch of the road.  A couple from Napier lost control of a caravan they were towing, and the car and caravan tumbled down a bank, with the caravan landing on top of the car.  Scary stuff indeed.

The wind continued to buffet the car and caravan as we carefully drove down the length of the Wairarapa to meet up with friends Bill and Val before heading to the Tauherenkau Race Course for a weekend of country music.  We secured sites together leaving a space for Lorraine who arrived in her camper a little later.  Goodness knows how many vans were on site, but as the hours wore on we were completely surrounded.

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Ready for a weekend of country music

There was plenty of catching up to do and in the evening the wind dies down and we looked out at the most beautiful orange sunset.

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The music festival started on Friday afternoon and we found our allocated seating in the grand stand – well worth the extra dollars paid when booking to ensure we got a good seat.  It was a bit like meeting someone at the airport who has your name on a board!  With the addition of a couple of cushions for a bit of comfort, we were all set to go.

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We were very impressed with two young girls just starting their singing careers, Mollie aged 14 and Jennie aged 16 respectively, as they belted out their songs in a very professional manner.  They will both go far, we are sure.

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Jennie Smith, from Waiuku, aged 16

The star of the evening was blind singer Eddie Low, who was discovered in the 1970s by music impresario Joe Brown.  (Kiwis will remember Joe Brown for his many entertainment ventures such as running the Dunedin Town Hall dances – and I can proudly say I attended one in the early 1960s when I visited that fair city.  Joe Brown went on to produce the annual Miss New Zealand Show and discovered and promoted many other NZ singers).  Eddie Low sang quite a variety of songs, his rich voice washing over us all as our feet tapped along to the music.  I particularly loved his segment originally sung by my hero, Elvis.  Eddie Low has recorded 23 albums, won numerous awards and has sung at the Grand Ole Opry.

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Eddie Low on stage

We were glad that we had thought to pack torches to light our way back to the caravans at the end of the show. It had been a lovely evening, full of toe tapping music, with much more to follow over the next couple of days.  The full moon was rising adding a ghostly glow to the evening – such a lovely sight. 

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Full moon rising

Monday, January 9, 2017

Caravan Housework

Not only has the interior of the caravan had a tidy up, floors, bathroom, fridge etc, but the outside too.  Robin climbed up the ladder with a hose and brush in hand to clean the walls and roof of the van.

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Then he asked for help – would I hold the ladder steady as he climbed up even higher?  Of course I would, valiantly holding on to the ladder for grim death as the hose dripped all over me.  That must be the ultimate in wifely devotion, surely?

After lunch he took a trip to the local caravan sales yard to buy a necessity, a second toilet cassette.  And to make sure he came home with the correct sort, he took the little booklet which came with the original.  It would be no good making a purchase like that to find it didn’t fit now, would it?

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What every caravan needs, a 2nd toilet cassette, just in case

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mt Lees Reserve

Mt Lees Reserve is a beautiful peaceful block of land, planted with a variety of native trees and many exotic trees and shrubs.   Ormond Wilson gifted the 30 hectare  block and his homestead for all to enjoy.  The reserve is home to many native birds, kereru (wood pigeon), morepork. grey warblers, fantails, tuis, bellbirds, wax eyes and kingfisher.  We spent the last night of our Christmas holiday at this lovely place.

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Three of us parked up by the tall shelter belt, which kept some of the wind away, and enjoyed 4zees out in the sunshine together.  The camping area filled up with several vans, cars, back packers and a tent later in the afternoon.

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Camping at Mt Lees Reserve

The local duck population were obviously used to numerous hand outs from the campers and were a real pest as they gathered around, noisily quacking and doing their business everywhere.  Despite many attempts to chase them away, they decided that they weren’t going anywhere.  Until Dot and Derek’s young Birman Honey tried her hand (or should that be paw) at duck stalking.  That got them moving.

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Chase that duck away, Honey!

One of the young campers had done some laundry and we watched as he went looking for a couple of suitable trees to hang his clothes line from.  Looks like he only washed his socks this time!

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A camper’s clothes line

The area where we usually camp was much too soft and boggy – filled with ruts as cars and campers got bogged down recently.  I walked through to see the state of the grounds, watching out where I stepped amongst all the dips and hollows.  Oh look – that’s our van through the trees.  With a few ducks bedded down close by in case we decide to feed them – so they hope.

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Romany Rambler at Mt Lees Reserve

The following morning we had a leisurely breakfast, and all gathered for our last morning tea in the sunshine.  Then we said our goodbyes and went on our way home – it’s been a great 10 day trip, not travelling a great distance from home this time, but still very enjoyable. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Friendly Feilding

Feilding is a lovely little town, and embraces it’s farming heritage.  The Feilding Saleyards have been going since 1880, and 100 head of cattle were the sold at the first sale    The huge sale yards cover  3.7 hectares and has 350 sheep pens, 140 cattle pens and (latterly) 45 pens for deer.  The Saleyards Tour has been on our list of things to do for sometime – it is very popular with tourists and it is a matter of remembering to book a ticket in advance so we can attend.  

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Feilding Salesyards

The Salesyard Silhouette was erected in memory of shepherds and drovers, together with their horses and dogs who mustered and drove the sheep and cattle  to both the yards and railway.  They made a huge contribution to Feilding becoming a premier stock sale centre.

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Silhouette outside the Salesyard

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The imposing clock tower in the square is another Feilding icon.

On Thursday morning a whole posse of cars, a beautifully restored Mercedes and a rather grunty looking BMW bike pulled up down our end of the car park.  The Coach House Museum volunteers were having their weekly meeting and the campers were cordially invited to join them for “smoko”.  What a great morning it was.  After everyone had enjoyed a cuppa and biscuit, we were asked to introduce ourselves, and relate our travel plans.  Then the reminiscing started – tales of things which went wrong during the volunteers working lives.  Tractors catching fire, paint booths filled with smoke, machines arcing and sparking – each volunteer was trying to outdo the others with their disaster stories.

This old beauty was rolled out of the museum for an hour or two in the sunshine – a wonderful Ford Model T.

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Model T

4eez rolled around and there was a mild moment of panic – where were our folding chairs?  Because of the wet weather we hadn’t used them for several days.  Then we remembered, we had taken them over to the hall at Marton NZMCA camp but had used the plastic chairs instead, and left them there.  There was nothing for it, Robin had to drive back to Marton to collect our chairs, which luckily were right we we had left them.  Terry from the Mobile Kiwi Crib joined us for 4zees in the sunshine and told us he had been on the road for many years, doing jobs all around the country.  “Life’s a working holiday”, he told us.

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Terry’s rig parked up at the museum

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After three days here it is time to move on.  Next stop, Lees Reserve.