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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Pohangia Paradise

This is indeed a beautiful area of “God’s Own Country”, here in the Pohangia Valley.  Maybe the weather helped form that opinion, as we couldn’t have been luckier with the weather for our caravan rally.  The sun shone, the wind was a gentle breeze, the birds were singing, we were surrounded by majestic tall trees, and best of all, we were in great company.  And just look at that fine line up of Leisureline caravans, all in a row.

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Made in NZ - Leisureline caravans

We had the use of the old school building over the weekend, but with the weather being so wonderful there was no point in sitting inside during the day.  So much better to be outside in the fresh air.  But it came in very handy in the evenings as a place to gather together.

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Pohangia School building

This little country school has had a checkered career.  The original school building was burnt down in 1927, and a year later another building was relocated to the site.  The swimming pool was opened in 1957, and is still in use,   with local families having key access.  It was great to see it so well utilised over the weekend.  A new teacher’s house and another classroom were built (1957-60) and were removed when the school closed down in 1972, and the pupils transferred to Ashhurst School.  These days the old school grounds are used as a picnic and camping area, and the pool is very popular with locals and well looked after.  

A group of happy campers walked down the road to have afternoon tea at the local café, Country Fayre.  This is housed in the old Council building, and has the original “U shaped” council meeting table in one of the rooms.

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Country Fayre Café

The café was busy serving two large groups of ladies, but we didn’t mind waiting our turn.  It gave us a chance to check out the crafts on offer, and have a look around this repurposed building.

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This establishment was run by volunteers so the menu was understandably limited.  But “Devonshire Teas” all round certainly hit the spot, with a choice of tea, coffee, or milkshakes.

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Devonshire Coffee for me

Right next door was a Honey Shop, ran on an honesty system we were told, and a few of us walked around the back of the building trying to find the local honey.  Bees were buzzing everywhere and we were trying not to upset them.  Finally we found it behind a closed door, containers of amber honey all lined up.  It looked so nice and was quite reasonably priced so I selected a large jar of Bush honey to take back to Robin – he is the honey aficionado in our household.  Luckily I had the correct amount of cash to put in the honesty box.

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Pohangia honey

Robin made good use of the Weber Baby Q over the weekend, cooking sausages one night, steak and mushrooms the next evening, and bacon and eggs for breakfast on Sunday morning.

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Scotch fillet steak and mushrooms

Special thanks to Barry and Diane who brought along a big box of plums and apples from their property.   Seems that their fruit trees are doing wonderfully well and they have plenty of surplus fruit to share with everyone.   It was a wonderful weekend – we were very happy campers indeed!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pohangia Reserve

It was goodbye to Ashhurst and hello to Pohangia Reserve on Thursday, just a short 16km trip away.  We were staying here for our Combined caravan club rally, and decided to arrive a day early, just because we could.  Our club Heretaunga CC is hosting the weekend, and members of both the Wellington and Wairarapa clubs were cordially invited.  Pohangia Reserve is the former local school, and is now managed as a community reserve, playground, swimming pool, and picnic area.  It is certainly a great asset to this small community.

Robin needed to do a little pruning on the large trees in the driveway, as some of the branches were hanging so low they would be scratching and scraping the paintwork as the vans and motorhomes drove in.   Planning ahead, he had already packed a pair of loppers and a small saw, to attend to his tree pruning duties.  With our orange “Heretaunga” club sign attached to the gate to show the guests where to enter, we then sat back in the sunshine to await the early arrivals.

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The entrance to Pohangia Reserve

Eventually five vans turned up in the afternoon and we enjoyed 4zees and catching up with everyone gathered under Geoff and Eileen’s awning.
 
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Out first 4zees of the weekend

The temperatures dropped overnight and we awoke to mist hanging low over the valley.  Such a pretty sight.

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Early morning mist

The sun soon came out and burnt the mist away, and we watched as Noel, camping next to us, fired up his Weber BBQ and cooked up bacon and eggs for breakfast.  It certainly smelt good!

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Bacon and egg breakfast for Lynne and Noel

Our club has hired the school house and we walked up the road to collect the key left in the letterbox, as instructed.

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Is the key there?

On the way back Robin got chatting to a truck driver who was carefully loading two dump trucks on his trailer.  Seems that there was some drain excavation going on up the hill.  

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Two yellow dump trucks on top of a Higgins truck and trailer unit

After lunch we took a drive back through the Pohangia valley to check out the camping areas at Totara Reserve.

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There were two camping areas available, we drove through the older, smaller camping area first.  Power sites, ablution block, everything seems good here. 

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The original camping sites

And a little further down the road,  the much larger camping area with a multitude of power boxes and modern ablution facilities.  This would be a great place to have a caravan club rally, and very reasonable at $20 per night on power.

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Much larger camping area

We also checked out the Raumai Reserve down by the river.  This was very popular with plenty of visitors, and several people taking advantage of the great weather with a dip in the river.  Brr.. bet the flowing water was rather chilly.

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Down by the river

And what’s this we see?  Not a “host of golden daffodils”,as William Wordsworth wrote,  but  paddock full of tall nodding sunflowers.

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Golden sunflowers

Hay making is in full swing and we saw plenty of hay “rolls” dotted around the paddocks.  But this was a little different – hay stacks packed high like a tower.  Then we noticed more - it must be the way the farmers do things around here.

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Hay stack in Pohangia Valley

Arriving back in our camp site we chatted to all the new campers who had arrived during our tiki tour around the area.  It’s going to be a good weekend with 15 vans here at the reserve. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ashhurst Domain

On our way to a weekend caravan rally, we decided to go even earlier and spend a night at Ashhurst Domain.  This is such a pretty setting, surrounded as we are by native trees, which of course means that the bird life is prolific.  There are nice clean toilets, showers are available at a small charge, and best of all the price is extremely reasonable, at $10 each per night on power.

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Arriving in time for lunch, we backed up to the trees and were soon set up on site. Geoff and Eileen would be joining us later in the afternoon.

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We took a quick trip to town, just a short five minute drive away, to purchase a couple of necessities.  And came across a lovely little church in the main street.  So pretty, I had to stop and take a photo.

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St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, Ashhurst

Back at camp we enjoyed a relaxed lunch, then Robin got chatting to the neighbours, as he does.  I took a walk around the grounds to see what I could see.  The old cemetery is just across from the camp, looking very peaceful through the trees.

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Camp grounds with a view

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Wind Farm on the hills, part of the old cemetery in the foreground

Geoff and Eileen arrived mid afternoon, and were soon settled, just in time for 4zees.  Just as well we had the handy awning out to protect us from the hot sun, and we invited our neighbours to join us.

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Three Leisureline caravans and a big bus

The neighbours told us that the slinky black cat which had been hanging around had been dumped at the camp over the Christmas holidays.   Campers feed it and make a real fuss of the cat, which is very friendly and jumped inside our van first chance it got.  We noticed it buried in the long grass with it’s long thin tail on show – well disguised while it was having an afternoon snooze.

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Camouflaged cat

It seemed a good idea to have our evening meal out at the local pub, the Ashhurst Inn.  Just as well we had booked a table as the place was jam packed with patrons.  What we didn’t realise that as it was Wednesday night, “Kids eat Free”.  No wonder there were so many people.  The meals were very tasty, the ladies had lamb, and the blokes chose pork snitzel and steak.

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Ashhurst Inn for dinner

We are only in Ashhurst for an overnight stop, and are moving on to the Pohangina Valley tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lunch with SLG Friends

It’s been a while since our last SLG get together – way back in December, and a lot has been happening.  We have all celebrated Christmas in our own way, with our own family and friends.  Some of us have been tripping around on holiday, and sadly our numbers have decreased by two.  But we are still a happy bunch of old friends, and we travelled down to Mana to meet up with them for lunch on Sunday, which Ashley had organised.

Travelling down SH1 on Sunday we could see work still going on the new Expressway.  On Saturday the new road was swarming when more than 5000 people turned out to see just how far construction of the Kapiti expressway has come after almost two years.  Construction on the expressway's first stage – a $630m four-lane link between McKays Crossing and Peka Peka – began in December 2013 when then transport minister Gerry Brownlee got behind the controls of a digger to move the first sod.  A lot has been achieved since then, including construction of a new bridge over Kapiti Rd, which the curious public got to walk across for the first time.

The Kapiti Expressway open day drew a big crowd on Sunday.
Photo by Monique Ford/Fairfax NZ

Driving along the coast road we could clearly see the mountain peaks on the South Island away in the distance.  It all depends on the weather conditions if we can see them, sometimes it is just too hazy, or cloudy to make them out. 

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That’s the South Island away in the distance

Ashley had booked a table in the Sandbar Restaurant and we all made our way inside, and the noise level rose dramatically as we caught up with everyone’s news.

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Sandbar Pub and Restaurant

The extensive menu had us all pondering for a while.  Les ordered his all time favourite, lambs fry and bacon, while Robin was delighted to find pork ribs on the menu.  The rest of us found dishes to our liking, including my fish with caper sauce – delicious. 

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Sticky pork ribs for him, and fish with caper sauce for her

I asked the friendly waitress to take a photo of our table, but was quite concerned when she climbed up on a chair to do this task.  But she must have done this before, and didn’t fall off, thank goodness.

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All ready for lunch

We said our goodbyes in the mid afternoon and all headed our separate ways.  And look, there’s Kapiti Island again – I never tire if catching a glimpse as we drive homewards back along the coast road.

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Kapiti Island

And look what we spotted even closer to home – there’s a dinosaur on the loose!  Perhaps he won’t cause too much damage, he looks a bit bony and malnourished to me.

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Dinosaur on the loose

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Have a Great Time

Our friends D & D live on our village and have been planning their South Island trip for a while.  Add a new camper into the equation, and the excitement went up another notch.    Especially as they only took possession the day before they travelled south.   Their new camper is a Autotrail Savannah, and is very nice indeed.  It took all day to pack everything away, and Robin helped out with some lifting and carrying.

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Derek and Dot in front of their new Autotrail

We waved them goodbye this morning as they set of on their South Island adventure.  Wishing them a smooth sailing across the Cook Strait, and happy travels.  Hope they remembered to pack the cat - and don’t forget to blog about your trip.

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Goodbye, have a great time

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rainy Day

I think I made it rain today.  After all, that’s what happens when you wash the car or water the garden, isn’t it?  I don’t wash cars, that’s a job for the man of the house.  But I did water the garden last night, so that must have made the rain fall. 

We had to laugh at our caretaker Danny this morning.  There he was, out in the pouring rain, sheltering under a big orange umbrella – he did look rather funny.  It looked like he was applying pour on weed killer to the lawn.  Danny takes great care of the lawns in the village and is often seen out and about looking after them.   

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Caretaker Danny working in the rain

Thursday, February 16, 2017

All Fixed

It’s good to know that our 4WD tow car is now ready for more caravan adventures. That strange intermittent noise was traced to the brakes, as it turned out, and not the wheel bearings, as we thought.  With the brake shoes replaced, a few other tweaks here and there, as well as a scheduled service,  it is now good to go again.  All we need to worry about now is the bill!

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All fixed and raring to go

The skies are starting to darken a little earlier now, and we have been enjoying some glorious sun sets lately.  Such as this one from last night – isn’t it just beautiful.

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Wednesday evening sunset