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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Caravan Rally at Oroua Downs

It was a lazy day on Friday, with no particular rush to get away to our weekend rally.  Not that we are going very far, about 30km up SH1 to Oroua Downs School. (Meaning of place name - Ō: place of; roua: dredging for shellfish.)  Being a school day, we could not arrive till till 3.30ish to allow the children time to depart the grounds.


Our club was hosting a Combined Rally, with caravan friends joining us from the Wairarapa, Wainuiomata and Wellington Clubs, a total of 19 vans on site.   The weather for the weekend was fine, but with quite a chilly wind blowing – Autumn has definitely arrived. 

We were instructed to gather in the hall on Friday evening with a pen and reading glasses, looked like there was to be another of those intelligent tests.  And there was – the first competition listed abbreviations from the Oxford Dictionary and we had to guess what they meant.  At first glance it seemed quite easy but as we found out it was not so.  I thought the letter K was an abbreviation for kilometre, or as a second guess, K for 1000.  Both wrong, in this case, the Oxford Dictionary tells us it is K for King.  Eileen won this competition hands down. 

And for the second one we were given several pages printed with logos.  Some were rather obscure, and some, although we knew them we just couldn't think of the business.  Robin blitzed through the many car logos, and I managed several more, so with out joint effort we did reasonably well.  Companies spend vast sums trying to get their identifying logo “just right” so it is easily identifiable, such as Nike’s big tick, but others were much harder to guess.


The programme for Saturday was fairly busy, and after lunch we pooled cars for our eagerly awaited Cream Horn trip to Viv’s Kitchen in Sanson.   Our large group queued up to place their orders and then enjoyed afternoon tea in the gazebo.


The large cream horns are not easy to eat with any degree of finesse, usually we get cream and icing sugar everywhere.  But someone decided if they were sliced right down the middle, they would be much easier to handle.  Our large group was served very efficiently, well done to the staff dealing with all those  unruly OAPs.

My cream horn, sliced in half

Several changes have been made to Viv’s Kitchen since our last visit, and I went to check out the new addition of the Ice Cream Parlour in the grounds.  Perhaps not much call now the weather is getting chilly, but it was sure to be very popular over the hot summer months.

Ice Cream Parlour

On the drive back to the school we stopped at Sanson Domain to check out the blokarts whizzing around the  new all-weather blokarting track which opened in 2015.  The track is over 8000 square metres and is only the second purpose-built, all-weather track in the country available to the public.  A blokart is a class of land yacht, invented and made in New Zealand, the three-wheeled cart and sail are propelled along by wind.

Blokarts at Sanson Domain

There was a film evening on Saturday night with Robin presenting a slide show of our recent South Island holiday, emphasizing the many and varied places available to stay, from NZMCA parks, park over properties, A&P Showgrounds, Race Courses, and the occasional motor camp.  We are so lucky to have so many reasonably priced options available to us throughout the country.  Many thanks to Selwyn for the use of his projector.

Robin and Selwyn setting up for the slide show

This was followed by some slides from prospective members Jim and Kay’s recent trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine.   Their slides showed the abandoned buildings from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and how the area has become overgrown in 30 short years, with Mother Nature taking over buildings, covering up roads,  with the forest complete with packs of wolves creeping ever closer to the abandoned city.  It must have been quite an eerie place to visit.

Most of us stayed on for lunch on Sunday, before packing up and heading off to our respective homes.  It was a lovely weekend, and great to catch up with friends from the other clubs who we only see now and again.  On our drive back home we noticed that most of the recent snowfall had disappeared from the Tararua Mountain Range, with just a light covering still in place.

Just a sprinkling of snow left

Friday, April 13, 2018

All Set to Go

Another weekend – another caravan club rally.  We are all set to go, with two new tyres on the left hand side of the caravan.  Robin thought they were just a bit worn, but closer inspection showed that they really needed replacing.  It seems that the left hand tyres get more wear as they run on the road edge – that’s what we were told, anyway.

Tyres removed, up on jacks, with the spare put on in case of slippage

And the 4WD is more than ready for a weekend away.  With a service, new brake shoes, and a WOF, we will be ready to roll again.  Not that we are going very far, about 30km up SH1 to Oroura Downs.  Our Caravan Club is hosting a Combined Rally,  so our numbers will be expanded with members of other caravan clubs travelling to join us for the weekend.  It should be fun, catching up with fellow campers we haven’t seen in a while.

With the way the weather has been behaving over the last couple of days, we will have to pack our winter woollies! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Secrets of Mona Lisa

We all know the painting of Mona Lisa, possibly one of the most recognised paintings in the world,  Mona Lisa with that enigmatic smile.  Yesterday Helen took our Super Leisure Group (SLG)  to the Expressions Gallery in Upper Hutt to discover the “Secrets of Mona Lisa”.  Just a small group this time, with some being unwell, and others away on holiday.


The exhibition centres around photos of the famous painting taken by French engineer Pascal Cotte,  founder of Lumiere Technology.  He scanned the painting with a 240-megapixel Multi-spectral Imaging Camera he invented, which uses 13 wavelengths from ultraviolet light to infrared. The resulting images peel away centuries of varnish and other alterations, shedding light on how the artist brought the painted figure to life and how she appeared to da Vinci and his contemporaries.   The infrared images also revealed da Vinci's preparatory drawings that lie behind layers of varnish and paint.  "If you look at the left hand you see the first position of the finger, and he changed his mind for another position," Cotte said. "Even Leonardo da Vinci had hesitation."

Photo courtesy of Expressions

All very technical, but very interesting, as we looked at a series of photos as the painting is now, with the varnish removed, and how it would have looked way back in the 1500s when freshly painted.

We asked one of the staff to take our photo outside the gallery doors

For lunch we drove down to the Naenae Bowling Club, a magnificent new building indeed. The new building incorporates three outdoor bowling greens, a state-of the-art indoor stadium, a snooker room, bistro, TAB and gaming room.   No wonder the bistro was full, with lunch at only $10 with free dessert, it was a bargain indeed.  Most of us had the delicious roast pork for lunch, with Helen enjoying her meal of fried fish and salad.  With ice-cream sundaes to follow, plus coffee, it certainly was a great meal.  The weather was freezing cold and pouring with rain, so no photos taken.

Then it was back to Helen and Calvin’s home for afternoon tea and to do the draw for the following year. Just look at these gorgeous begonias all out in flower on the covered deck.  You can tell they have green fingers in this household.

Beautiful begonias

We all took a slip of paper out of the container, which had the name of our month each to organise an outing for the group.  We will have to put our thinking caps on again – not as hard as it sounds, as we all seem to come up with something interesting for the group to do. 

With 100km drive to get back home, we got on our way, driving through the showers of rain, to see a pretty rainbow in front of us.


No wonder the weather had been so cold, just look what was awaiting us on the hills at home.  That’s quite a covering of snow.

Brrr, that looks cold

Monday, April 9, 2018

Big Rigs around Town

What a surprise – we drove through to Palmerston North for Sunday lunch and a little shopping and found the city taken over by a multitude of bright, shiny Big Rigs.  All driving around, tooting their horns, and seemed to be having a high old time.  And the Square was swarming with people, we needed to see what was going on.

Manawatu Professionals Big Rigs 2018

It was the Biannual Professionals Big Rigs event a fundraiser  supporting Teenage and Child Cancer, with all money raised staying within the Manawatu Region.  A very good cause indeed.  With the very popular truck rides for $2.00 per person there was also plenty of entertainment in the square with static displays, raffles and live auction.  A convoy of over 100 trucks, followed by a Helipro helicopter, drove through the city to begin the day yesterday.  Manawatu children receiving treatment for cancer were treated to a ride-along and then a haka on arrival.  It was very well organised indeed, people were loaded on to the big rigs on one side of the square, and offloaded on the other side.  There were sturdy metal platforms to get everyone up and down safely.  And those trucks who already had their share of passengers went on their way.

Loading up.

And yes, we had a turn too, queuing up in line and putting our $2 coins in the bucket.  Our truck looked rather flash with a buttoned leather interior.  The young driver did admit that it felt strange to be driving without his trailer unit behind, as all the trucks were.  We were slowly driven around the circuit, with many toots along the way.  What fun – although as Robin is a former truck driver, I probably enjoyed it more than him.


Our ride in the big rig

There were plenty of displays to check out, such as these stock cars, and a multitude of trucks lined up.  There were quick fire raffles taking place, and plenty of stalls selling drinks, hot dogs, all sorts of refreshments.



The display showing just how big the blind spot is in front of these big rigs was quite sobering. 


Showing the blind spot in front of a big rig

Over at the New Zealand Army display, throngs of kids poured over the inside and outside of the Light-Armoured Vehicle.  Lance Corporal Peter Brown of the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles said kids often saw the vehicles on Palmerston North roads but to get inside them was an experience many hadn't had.

Light Armoured Vehicle

There was a lot of interest when the Air Force helicopter was ready to depart.   The public had to stand well clear of the area as the air turbulence was quite fierce.   One of the volunteers told us that there was an awful lot of hoops to jump through to get permission for the helicopter to fly over, and land in the city centre.  The noise was extremely loud as the rotors spun faster and faster, no wonder the crew all wear ear protectors.  Then it lifted straight up, up, and away, to return to RNZAF Base Ohakea.


On the way back to Ohakea

With an estimated 15,000 people attending the event, the organisors can be assured of a successful fund raising day for the Manawatu Child Cancer Foundation.  (We believe a sum of $40,000 has been raised, so well done to everyone involved.)  The truckies are to be commended for donating their day and bringing along their shiny trucks for such a good cause.  And it wasn’t just the kids who loved their rides around town, we did too.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter at Feilding

In no particular hurry to rush home from our road trip, we stopped at at a POP in rural  Feilding on Friday for the Easter weekend.  As we drove along the road to our destination we passed this old Co-op Dairy Co building, established in 1893.  It was interesting to note the embossed lettering “Pakeha Brand Butter” on the building.  "Pakeha" was one of the brands used by the Cheltenham Co-operative Dairy Company, used exclusively for their premium and export butter.

Old dairy company building along Makino Road

We pulled into our POP and found ourselves a possie on the shingle road behind the house.  Across from us was a paddock with several young frisky heifers.   Other vans came a little later and parked on the grass.  It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we needed our sun awning out for some much needed shade.


This is a lovely property and we were encouraged to have a look around.  Climbing over a stile we found a beautifully manicured area, complete with an island surrounded by a moat.  This was the scene of a family wedding not so long ago, we were told.  Hidden on the island were the remains of an old truck, and farming memorabilia such as old plows were dotted around the lawns.


Our host has a real passion for collecting and the campers were invited to check out his “shed”.  Chock full of all sorts of items from the past, it was full to overflowing with all manner of interesting items, including several vintage cars.


An eclectic collection

Our hosts have quite an aviary containing doves, pheasants and a pair of sulphur crested cockatoos, which were particularly noisy when anyone approached their cage.

Hello, cocky

The farm inhabitants were interesting to see as well.  Wonderfully handsome Highland cattle grazed contentedly nearby – just check out those horns.  This boy is a family pet, I was told, a real softie who gets a daily grooming.

The pet bull

And then there were the pigs, which certainly needed investigating.  The pig man was there feeding out collected left over scraps to his pigs and I wandered over to try and take a few photos.  “Come in and see my pigs”, he invited me, opening up the gate and shielding me from the pet bull.  The pigs were making short work of their breakfast, and were joined by several sheep who keep trying to take a few bites for themselves.  As well as the food scraps there was a pile of fish heads, left over from a fishing competition – the pigs were certainly enjoying chomping through those.

Pigs on the property

The other vans departed and Geoff and Eileen arrived on Saturday to spend the next couple of days with us.


We walked back over to the piggery to check out the younger pigs.  The mid sized pigs came running up to the fence, no doubt expecting us to have food for them.  And then we saw some even smaller ones, cute little babies peeping through a doorway.

More pigs at the farm

With Easter Sunday being such a beautiful day, we decided to take a trip up to Apiti, (settled in 1886). This was a very quiet little place indeed, with scarcely a soul around.  So quiet that you could fire a rifle down the main road and no one would notice.  But we did spot some statues of moa behind the pub, along with  camping area complete with power points.  And there was a nice range of tractors all neatly arranged in the middle of town – someone has a passion for these, it seems.  We had intended to stop for a coffee at the local pub, but being Easter Sunday, it was shut up tight.



There were two reasons to stop at Kimbolton on the way back.  First was to stop at the Look-Out and admire the glorious view looking out over the rural hills and gullies.

From Kimbolton Look-out

And secondly, I wanted to stop at the fence decorated with bras which I had glimpsed as we drove by on our way to Apiti.  It was only a small collection so far, but very colourful – and named “Kimbraton”.  With no coffee available we stopped a little further down the road at Cheltenham (named after Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, England, the home of one of the pioneer settlers) for an ice-cream.

The Kimbraton Collection

After morning tea on Easter Monday we were packing up for our drive home when we had a scare.  One of the young heifers had escaped from the paddock, and even worse - the pig man had left the driveway gate wide open, we didn’t want any of the stock getting onto the road.  Robin switched into “cattle wrangler mode” and rushed to shut the gate.  And then – how to get that frisky heifer back in the paddock with her friends.  With a bit of arm waving and chasing, the heifer was eventually persuaded back to the paddock.  Although the electric tape fence was not live, it was a visual barrier to the stock, but was loose down one end where she escaped.  With a bit of judicial tightening up the fence was stock proof once again.  Thank goodness it all ended well.

Back where they belong