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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Where’s Santa Going?

Christmas is different down here in the Southern Hemisphere.  No snow, or ice-skating or hot chestnuts roasting on the fire for us.  Our days are long and sunny and we are more inclined to sip a cold beer than a glass of eggnog at Christmas.  Even our Santa seems a bit more laid back than we imagine a British Santa might be.  There he was, safely ensconced on his Santa Chair in the shopping mall, while he waiting patiently for the little children to come and sit on his knee.  I took a sneaky photo as I walked past, because, after all,  I love Santa too.

PC200028 Ho ho ho – come sit on my knee

Close by was another Santa, although this one seemed to be made of rubber.  I watched as he merrily raised himself up and down in the chimney.  This poor old Santa must have been getting some unwanted attention from various naughty children, as he had a sign warning the youngsters not to push or hit him.  Don’t they know that if their names go on the “Naughty List” they may well miss out on presents?

PC200029 Don’t be naughty – be nice!

How about some local grown freshly picked strawberries for dessert?  This enterprising couple were selling them in the mall – so I purchased two punnets to take home.  Fresh strawberries in a bowl topped with whipped cream – yummy.  Sorry Robin, we don’t have any ice-cream to go with the strawberries and cream. 

PC200030 Strawberries for dessert tonight

With my few jobs all done and  ticked off the list, I retraced my steps through the mall to see Santa get up out of his chair and walk briskly to the door.  He stopped to chat to a group of youngsters who wanted to know where the reindeer were.  “It's too hot for the reindeer today”, he told them, “I had to leave them at home, and drive here in my 4WD”.  One of the youngsters was  quite concerned and really wanted to know more about the reindeer.  But Santa said goodbye and walked out into the car park.

PC200032 Where are the  reindeer, Santa?

And sure enough, Santa walked briskly up to his 4WD and climbed in.  Its just not the same as a sleigh pulled by those reindeer we all love - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and of course.....Rudolf leading the way with his bright red nose.


PC200034 This Santa travels by 4WD

He is probably rushing away to make sure that the reindeer have plenty of food and water.  After all, they have to be in the very best condition.  Isn't there a very important night's work coming up for them soon?  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Palmy and back

Off we went to Palmy (Palmerston North) and back today, starting off reasonably bright and early.  And just to remind us to be very careful while driving, we came across a two truck accident.  This was on the corner of SH56 and SH57 – quite a notorious corner for accidents, we have noticed.  It looked like a milk tanker and a truck carrying frozen chickens had an altercation.  And with the truck lying on it’s side on the shoulder of the road  it was an easy guess to see who came out second best.

First port of call was to the local hospital where Robin’s Mum had been residing for the last few days.  She was due to discharged in the morning and our job was to provide transport to return her to the Rest Home.  Unfortunately she was feeling rather poorly and we had a long wait for the doctor to arrive to check her out.  It seemed that she had  a bad reaction to one of her medications, and the doctor wanted her to stay another night.  Hopefully, she will finally return home tomorrow.

Next was a visit to the Herb Farm Cafe for lunch with daughter Nicky.  Driving  along the country road we followed a station wagon and we wondered just what on earth was being carried in the back.  Surely not?  Only in the depths of rural countryside would you see a sight like this.  Not one, but two calves were going for a car ride!

PC170045  Spotted on the way to our lunch date

The Herb Farm grow and harvest lots of their own plants and makes all sorts of potions and soaps.  In fact, daughter Nicky is chief cooker-up in the Herb Farm lab. The pretty lavender beds had lots of bees buzzing about.  I love lavender, these plants would be one of my favourites for the home garden.  There are so many different varieties and they always seem to grow so well.

PC170052Lavender growing at the Herb Farm

Nicky duly arrived and we all took time to peruse the menu.  While we waited for our meals to arrive we couldn’t let the occasion go by with the obligatory mother and daughter photo shoot, could we?

PC170051 Nicky and Jenny

There was lots to talk about, Christmas plans, the grand-children – now young ladies, work and recreation, what we were both cooking for the Big Day, and our respective plans for the festive season.  We won’t be seeing them on Christmas Day, so bags of presents were swapped.   Look what we came home with.  Nicky assured me that there was some of her world famous Russian Fudge for each of us in the big bag.  She didn’t make any fudge one year and that just about caused a family riot.

PC170058 Gifts from the family to take away in the caravan

After saying our goodbyes, we started our way home.  The farmers have been busy cutting their paddocks to make baleage, contained in pale green plastic rolls.  The contents will be used for winter feed when the grass growth slows down.

PC170057 Baleage on the farm

Things were still busy on the accident corner, although the trucks had been cleared away.  To be still here so many hours after the accident took place, shows there must have been quite a bit to tidy up.  The workmen were putting sand on the road surface to clear up after a spill, and they were also working on the shoulders of the road, we noticed.   This is not a corner to take lightly.

PC170056 Still at work hours after the accident

We made it safely home, thank goodness.  We unpacked the car, collected the mail (another couple of Christmas cards) greeted Muffy, and decided we really need to put our feet up and relax for a wee while.  We’ll just have something light for our evening meal, the cook decided, after such a big lunch.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Rally Part 2

This year our Caravan Club Christmas Rally was held in school grounds of Peter Chanel School, Otaki.  Sharing the grounds are several historic buildings, including the lovely old timber church St Mary’s Catholic Church, pictured here  between two large pohutakawa trees.  Pukekaraka Catholic Mission was founded in 1844 by French priests.  This is one of the few marae in the country that is not associated with any particular tribe, so is open to everyone.  You can just see the new extension  (completed in 1992) attached to the left of the original church.   We have enjoyed caravan rallies here in the past, and it is always such a very pleasant and peaceful place to come to.

PC130003 St Mary’s Catholic Church

The wheel and stone were once part of the Pukekaraka Flour Mill which was erected about 1854 under the direction of Father Comte, and stood on the bank of the Waitohu River.  These historical artefacts were donated by the current owner of the property for erection on the site of the Pukekaraka Mission.

PC130004 Old wheel and mill stone

There is always excitement when someone turns up with a new caravan.  Or in this case, a brand new motor-home.  Sandy and Bea are the proud owners of “Chez nous”, an Autotrail Tribute. There was a steady stream of people knocking on their door all weekend wanting to have a look inside.  And very nice it is too. We wish them many more happy years of travels and rallies.

PC130009 Sandy and Bea’s new home away from home

We couldn’t have a Christmas rally  without a Christmas Mince Pie or two for morning tea on Sunday.  Elaine warmed them up in the oven and offered the tray  around to the members.

PC140020 Help yourself to a mince pie

It was a rally of two Birman cats over the weekend.  Young Honey is full of beans and can’t wait to get outside and go exploring.  She is so inquisitive it is just as well that she is safety tethered on her long lead, or goodness knows where she would end up.  She had several trips outside and enjoyed checking us all out, and getting her lead tangled as she walked in and out of our folding chairs.  

PC130008 Honey with Dot

Our old girl Muffy isn’t too keen on coming outside any more, she much prefers the security of being inside her very own caravan.  Now she is getting on in years, the outside world has turned into a scary place.  She joined us mid morning but didn’t really want to be there at all, so after a short time we took her back inside again.  Sleeping on her rug inside the caravan is much more to her taste.  Strangely enough, Muffy and Honey have not yet met, we wonder what they will think of each other when they do?

PC140022 Muffy cuddled up to the Santa cushion in the caravan

Most of us stayed on for lunch on Sunday.  The weather had warmed up considerably, and we settled for shade while we munched on our sandwiches.  It was a great rally, the last for the year.  But it won’t be long till it all starts again in January. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Rally at Otaki

It''s been such a busy week and we celebrated yet another Christmas get-together – this time the last Caravan Club Rally of the year.  The committee were in charge, and everything ran very smoothly, they also did a good job of organising the weather for us all.  Nine vans gathered in the school grounds, all raring to join in the fun of a festive rally.

PC130001 Back to school at Otaki

Saturday was a big day for Eileen – she was celebrating was one of those birthdays ending in “0”.  With family members flying in from near and far, Eileen and Geoff couldn’t attend this rally, but called around for Morning Tea on Saturday morning instead.  And they brought a lovely home made lemon cake to share with us too, so they were more than welcome.  There is something about caravanners, we can never say no to home baking.

PC130012 Happy Birthday Eileen

We enjoyed a shared meal on Saturday evening.  In typical Kiwi style, the blokes got the barbecues going, while the ladies prepared salads to share.  We had the BBQ, but had forgotten to pack the small gas bottle for it, so that put paid to that idea.   Derek came to the rescue and Robin, Derek and Don all cooked steaks and kebabs together. 

PC130017 BBQ time

Meanwhile, all sorts of tasty salads were carried into the hall and set out on the table.  Everyone got into the spirit of Christmas and we each decorated our tables with little trees, Santas, and flashing decorations.  With fresh locally grown strawberries, ice-cream and jelly for dessert, we had a delightful meal indeed.  Our Chatter Santa put in an appearance, repeating everything he could hear, including all the laughter at his antics.

PC130018 Salads galore

PC130019Dining in style

Our evening concluded with Selwyn showing the movie “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas”.  Very sad, and the ending left us all speechless as we pondered what we had just seen. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bavarian Music in the Village Car-park

The sound of music was coming from the RV car-park – what was going on?  So I walked around the corner to have a look.  It was the Levin Social Band made up of Edward on cornet, the leader Paul on digital trumpet, neighbour Eddie on violin, and Brian on drums.  Eddie wanted to test how long his motor-home battery would last with two of the instruments plugged into the power.

PC110036 The Levin Social Band

Back home I went to collect my folding chair, and I joined the elite group of neighbours sitting in front of the motor-homes, who had come along to enjoy the music.

PC110037Here to enjoy the music

The four piece band has only been playing together for a year, and their repertoire is mostly catchy Bavarian tunes and polkas.  Band leader Paul was playing a digital trumpet, something I had never seen before.  There are not many of these around, Paul told me.

PC110038 Paul and his digital trumpet

We sat with our toes tapping as the band played on.  There was a complete change of pace when they played “Can’t help loving you”, sung by Elvis in the film Blue Hawaii.  It was so beautiful,  I was enthralled  – how did they know I was an Elvis fan?  Then with a last polka to finish off the session, the band packed up their instruments and headed off home.  What a lovely musical interlude it was, thanks guys.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

60s Up Christmas BBQ

What a busy old time we’ve been having over the last week or so - it’s been one Christmas break-up meeting after another lately.  Today was our last get-together of the year with the 60s Up group, we met in the local Cossie Club for a Christmas BBQ.  And wouldn’t you know, the heavens opened last night and still hasn’t stopped raining.  Luckily the man in charge of cooking on the BBQ had it all set up outside under an awning.  It was a one man operation and he was kept busy turning the sausages and meat patties, cooking the onions and succulent ham steaks and pineapple rings.

PC100001 Cooking up a storm

When the cooking was completed, we moved from the bar to the dining room.  After organising ourselves into tables,  it was self service for lunch, with several different  salads to accompany our BBQed meat.  The chatter soon stopped as everyone tucked into their meals.  We wondered if we were getting dessert – perhaps a Christmas Mince Pie to nibble?  Even better, we enjoyed a mini pavlova, fruit salad and cream, yummy!

PC100003 Derek, Robin, Jenny and Dot at the 60s Up Christmas BBQ

I don’t know what they did to deserve special treatment, but our President Connie walked up to our table with an extra dessert each for “the boys”.  There was no way they were going to refuse such an offer, was there?  Just look at those cheeky grins.

PC100004 Extra desserts, just for the boys

The rain had eased a little as we picked our way carefully through the puddles in the car park.  What’s this?  Looks like someone is looking for a new partner.

PC100005 Seen in the car park

It was a great morning, a nice meal, and lovely to spend time with friends.  We thanked the President for giving us a great year of outings and entertainment and look forward to catching up with club members again in the New Year and starting all over again. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Strawberry Fields

It’s no secret that the Horowhenua region is a market gardeners' paradise, with the rich fertile soil producing an abundance of crops.  Strawberries are in season, and we had heard tell that the best ones are to be found at Shirley’s Strawberries of McLeavey Road.  So that’s where we went today.  That lovely sweet strawberry smell assailed our senses as we entered the shop and pack house.   We purchased two punnets  of these lovelies to take home with us.

PC090021 Some of Shirley’s strawberries

Rows of strawberries were quietly growing, both here and even  more plants in paddocks across the road.  There must be acres and acres of them.  All that luscious fruit must be a magnet to the local birds, but we spotted the secret weapon – a Scatterbird Bird Scarer.

PC090023 Strawberry fields

PC090025Gun to scare the birds away

So we will be enjoying some strawberries for dessert tonight.  Not only do they taste delicious, they are also very healthy, so Mr Google tells us, packed full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium. We’ve got plenty of strawberries, so we can have  some on our breakfast cereal in the morning, we’re sure to enjoy that!