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

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Home Safe and Sound

Mangaweka Camp really is a lovely place to stay – a rustic camp without all the bells and whistles and niceties of other camps, but it is very reasonably priced.  Those who wish to camp off power set up on the lower level down by the river.  It looked so nice in the morning sunshine when I took a final look around the camp before we started our journey home.

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Down by the river

And just look at those interesting papa-rock (mud stone) cliffs towering over the river.

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Papa-rock cliffs by the camp

As we pulled up the hill on our way back to the main road, we stopped at the top so that I could get another view of the interesting cliffs further away in the distance.

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Last view of the cliffs

Driving back home, that pesky noise decided to appear from time to time, just enough to taunt Robin and make me worry in case something drastic was going to happen.  It seemed to happen when the car was under load, such as going uphill.  But we made it safely home, thank goodness, without any mishap.  Those handy carparks outside our home were all empty so we straddled the lot to unpack the caravan.  With the floors vacuumed, the bathroom cleaned, and the fridge wiped out, we then moved the van around the corner to it’s parking place.  All ready for the next trip away.

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It’s so easy to unpack from here

Our 4WD is booked in to the garage early next week for a service and hopefully the mechanic can get to the bottom of the intermittent noise.  Robin suspects it might well be a wheel bearing, but the experts can check it out thoroughly for him. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Historic Main Street - Mangaweka

Luckily the wind had dropped away overnight which should have made towing a breeze.  But what was that strange noise we kept hearing?  We had several stops on the side of the road.  Robin lifted up the bonnet to peer inside to make sure that everything was as it should be.  Then he checked the tyres in case one was a bit deflated, or too hot, or had a suspicious looking bulge – everything seemed fine there too.  After emptying out at the dump station the noise seemed to go away, so we continued on our way, goodness knows what had  was causing it.  As we approached Taihape I had the camera ready to try and capture a painting  of an engine on a farm shed we had noticed previously.  With nowhere to pull over and stop it was a matter of point out of the window and hope for the best.

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Somebody loves trains

We decided to stop at Mangaweka for the night as it is one of those places on the main road that we usually rush by.  And blogger Chris wrote a blog about staying there recently which piqued our interest.  There are two quite different camps available, and we stayed in the very rustic Mangaweka Campground.

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On site at Mangaweka Campground

We had to travel to Awastone, the other motor camp to register and pay our fees, situated over the old metal Mangaweka bridge spanning the Rangitikei River.  We know it will safely carry us, as we have previously towed the caravan across this bridge on the way to Rangiwahia camp.

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Mangaweka Bridge

We were warmly welcomed at Awastone Camp.  This is a much more up market motor camp with lovely facilities, including a café, and we would like to try it out sometime we are passing this way again.  We were invited to look around, and were very impressed with what we saw.

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Entrance to Awastone Camp

Before we drove back to Mangaweka we did a little tiki-tour up the hill and found another interesting bridge to cross.  The Mangarere Bridge has a span of 320 ft and was built in 1966.  Local farmers will be interested to note that they can take a maximum of 120 bullocks or 1200 sheep across the bridge at one time.

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Mangarere Bridge

Then we drove the short distance back to town.  So….. what’s to see in the historic Main Street of Mangaweka?  Not a lot, as it turns out.  The street is lined with very historic buildings indeed, but practically all of them are boarded up and empty.

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Historic Main Street in Mangaweka

Sadly the pub has no beer and was closed up tight, waiting for a new buyer.  The only things in town which we noticed were alive and well was the Play Centre, a church or two, the Post Shop and Barber establishment and the Volunteer Fire Brigade.  Even the “world famous in Mangaweka” café in a vintage DC3 aircraft at “Mangaweka International Airport” was all boarded up and looking forlorn.

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Former café in a DC3 airplane

Nevertheless, the camp grounds are delightfully rustic, and priced accordingly.  We are surrounded by massive trees,  the birds are singing, and the Rangitikei River rushes by past the majestic white papa rock cliffs.  It is a delightful place to be indeed.

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