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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rush Munro’s and the Rellies

Rush Munro’s Ice-cream Parlour is a Hastings institution and has been around for many years. Generations of families have enjoyed eating their ice-creams here since 1926 and the company is still going strong.    It is one of those “must see”  places when we travel up this way, and today that is where we went. 

P3310002 Rush Munroe ice-cream selection

My sister Kathleen and her husband Dennis happily accompanied us there today and we sat in the courtyard in the dappled sunshine enjoying our ice-cream sundaes.  And very tasty they were too.

P3310004 Kathleen and Dennis at Rush Munro’s Ice-cream Parlour

There was a water feature playing and I watched as the sparrows happily jumped in and out of the trickle of water.  They shook their little bodies, flapped their wings, and seemed to be having a great time in their very own personal shower.

P3310007 Sparrows playing on top of the trickling water feature

We returned to the rellies home for a leisurely lunch and had a great time catching up on all the news, and putting the world to rights, as our age group is apt to do.  Returning to our Pop mid afternoon, Dick was busy on his ride-on mower, cutting the lawn in front of his guests caravans and campers.  We lifted our large mat so that he could cut right up to the caravan.  A couple of quick passes back and forth and it was all done

P3310010 Time to cut the lawns

One of the young men living here has a young 6 month old rook called Charlie which he raised from a week old chick.  Charlie is quite tame and was having a great time flying around, but comes back when called.  He seems to get on quite well with Caesar, the 2 year old British Bulldog. 

P3300095 Charlie the rook and Caesar the bulldog

Caesar nearly came to a sticky end last night when prowlers jumped over the fence in an attempt to abduct him.  The police were called, and searched the orchard looking for the offenders, but we slept through all the drama and never heard a thing.  As an “entire male”, (you know what that means) Caesar’s worth as a stud dog is considerable and he is a very desirable dog of his breed.  Extra steps have now been taken to ensure his safety. 

P3310011  Don’t mess with Caesar

We were joined by caravan friends Dave and Rae today from the Wairarapa Caravan Club, who are also travelling up to Putorino for the National Caravan Rally over Easter.  Other caravan buddies are expected tomorrow, so we should have a great group here for 4zees in the afternoon. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

From Arataki to Napier

Robin is a bit of a honey connoisseur and loves honey – and Manuka honey in particular.  While we were in the area we took a side trip today to replenish Robin’s honey supply from Arataki Honey Centre.  This shop is full of delightful honey products, including sweets, chocolates, beeswax candles, and gifts.  And the honey tasting area is always a hit, specially with youngsters. Our honey containers were refilled, one with Manuka and the other with Rewarewa.  That should keep him going for a while.

P3300061 Arataki Honey Visitor Centre

P3300068 Some liquid gold

Napier is known as the Art Deco Capitol of the world.  We stopped to admire the Art Deco designed Rothman’s Building.  Robin sold the tobacco products made by this company back in the days when he was worked for Toops.  This building is just as attractive inside as it is outside, he said.   There was a tour in full swing going on – the group had arrived in the interesting Napier Art Deco Tours carriages parked outside.  We want to do the tour too – perhaps next time when we come back this way! 

P3300074 Rothman’s Building – Art Deco style

We parked the car along Marine Parade and had strolled through the very attractive Sunken Garden, imagining how it would look filled with people dressed in their finery during the Art Deco Celebrations each year.

P3308662 View of the Sunken Garden

P3308663Water wheel in the Sunken Garden

On the way back to the car, we wandered into the  Opossum World Shop.  In fact, it was much more than just a shop selling possum and merino wool jerseys, and possum skin products.  There was quite a large display showing the huge amount of damaged that these introduced animals have done to the New Zealand native forests.  And it also told the story of possum trapping and skinning.

P3300082  Possum hunter’s camp

P3300084Possum mother and youngster

There was a bit of Kiwi humour shown too, such as the group of singing possums on the red mini, with one of there brethren battered and bruised after an encounter with a car.  There were some beautiful soft possum and merino knitwear on sale – but the prices were a bit steep for locals.  Guess the idea is to buy some of the woollen yarn and get knitting!

P3300086  Singing possums

Back at our Pop once more we watched with interest as the 5th Wheeler Ultima changed hands.  It had been parked up since our arrival and had just been sold, Robin was told.  The original owners drove up in their red Holden Colorado and showed the new owners how to hitch up.  The buyers and sellers were swapping cars, so the sellers went home with a little red Toyota, and the buyers proudly drove their new rig away to start their touring adventures. 

P3300099 The Ultima has new owners

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A busy day in Hastings

Sunday morning means one thing only when we are in Hastings – it’s time for a visit to the Farmers Market.  The place was buzzing, so many others, locals and visitors alike,  thought the same as us.  Cars and a fair few motor-homes were all parked up under the trees and we found a spare space to park our 4WD once one of the customers drove away.  The smells were divine.  Robin couldn’t say no to a bacon baguette, and I waited patiently in line for a cup of coffee.  The slight drizzle turned to rain so Robin rushed back to the car to collect our brollies.

P3290016 Coffee in the rain at the market

So what else took our fancy - it seemed to be all about food!  Two Danish pasties for dessert tonight, and a bag of lovely omega plums.  Then there was the black pudding – guess what we will be having with our bacon and eggs for breakfast one morning soon.  And just as we were leaving we passed another bakery and purchased a pie each for lunch.  Steak and kidney for her, and steak, bacon and cheese for him.  We had to assure the baker that we really did know that pies should be heated in the oven and not the microwave.   The rain kept falling, so shopping done, we drove back to the caravan to heat up our pies for lunch.  They were delicious too, just like homemade.

P3290017

After lunch the rain had stopped and the sun came out again so we took a trip 10km out of town to visit the Pekapeka Wetlands.  We have passed by this site so many times but always seem to be towing the caravan behind us so it was never convenient to stop.  Pekapeka is the Maori name for the native bats which lived in a nearby cave, using the wetlands as a source of food.  The wetlands have a very important part to play, filtering nutrients and sediments, and providing a rich source of food for birds, fish, and animals.  They keep water on the land by acting as sponges, slowly releasing moisture back into the surrounding environment.

P3290048

There were plenty of information boards telling of the history, decline, and subsequent restoration of the wetland area.   Flaxes and bull rushes grew prolifically, towering over our heads – and we were several feet above swamp level up on the boardwalk. 

P3290031 Bull rushes crowding on all sides

We could just imagine that this is what the primeval slime and mud looked like from millions of years ago – wondering what creatures had climbed out of the watery depths to make their new home on land.  The mud was covered in the foot prints of birds,  and tiny breathing holes of little creatures living underground.  Over 30 species of birds make their home here, but most of them must have been well hidden in the swamp during the heat of the day.

P3298658  Bird prints everywhere

As we walked further along the boardwalk, the swampy water got deeper.  A family of black swans quietly glided amongst the willow trees which used to grow here, and have now been cut down as the wetlands have been restored and replanted with native flora.

P3290037 Black swans

P3298659 On the boardwalk

The construction of both the railway line and SH2 cut through the wetland, and it was common practice in earlier years to use places like this as a dumping ground for rubbish such as unwanted soil and building rubble, from the 1870s up to the 1990s.  Material from the demolished old Mayfair and Pacific Hotels is left visible here, as a reminder of lessons learnt about how not to look after the environment.  Let’s hope it is a lesson learnt and remembered.  This is a very restful and peaceful area and the Hawkes Bay Regional Council are to be commended for restoring this area to it’s present healthy state.  It was opened for public access in 2010 and we are pleased that we have now had a good look around the  reserve.  Well worth a stop if you are travelling by.

P3290045 Rubble dumped in the wetlands

And instead of cooking our evening meal in the caravan we decided to drive back to get the best fish and chips in town from Hawkes Bay Seafood.  There is a huge selection of wet fish available, from fillets, whole fish, crabs and shell fish.  We ordered snapper fillets, garlic prawns and chips and ate them al fresco on the picnic tables in front of the shop.  It was a great finish to a busy day.

P3290050Someone else is doing the cooking for us tonight

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Camping amongst the Apples

Apple picking is in full swing here in sunny Hastings.  We have travelled up to stay at one of our favourite Pops for several nights, and as repeat customers were warmly welcomed on site.  The small camp is quite full with seasonal workers but owners Dick and Elly found a spot for us and we are parked up in front of rows of trees bearing luscious red apples.  It’s a bit like being in the Garden of Eden.

P3280010 Camping in the apple orchard

P3280007A pile of empty apple crates are ready and waiting to be filled

The hot Hawkes Bay sunshine is beating down and we are pleased with our large sun shade giving us a shady area to sit under.  Poor Muffy seems to be feeling jet lagged as she lay sprawled out on the floor of the caravan when we arrived.  It must be cooler down there than on the couch.  It's a hard life being a travelling cat sometimes.

P3280001 Muffy is worn out

This Pop comes complete with a washing machine (I’ll be sure to use it) and since our last visit a clothes drier has appeared.  That will be handy in the winter, but while it is nice and sunny I’ll put my laundry out to dry on the clothes line.

P3280003 Washing machine in the shed and drier in the cupboard

We will be attending the National Caravan Club Rally at Putorino, Napier, over Easter, but travelled up nice and early.  We have relatives to catch up with, and several places to explore while we are here.  It should be fun.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Better late than never

Robin had a special job to do in the caravan. He needed to secure our brand new fire extinguisher to the wall.  Yes, we know we should have purchased one for our safety when we changed caravans, but we never quite thought of it.   Anyway, it is all done now – so better late than never.  It is tucked away on the end of the kitchen cupboards, by the bedroom curtain.  (Not that we ever pull this curtain across the bedroom end of the caravan).  Unobtrusive, but easy to get to if it is needed in a hurry.

P3270001 New fire extinguisher in the caravan

Our smoke alarm is down in the bedroom end of the caravan too.  It quietly winks away at me in the dead of night, I notice, if I have trouble sleeping. And unlike our previous smoke alarm, the toaster doesn’t set the raucous ringing off.  So hopefully these two items things will keep us safe on our travels.

P3270002 Smoke alarm on the ceiling

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Saturday Night Pub Quiz

To tell the truth, we didn’t actually go to a pub.  Does it count if our Pub Quiz really took place in a school class room during our caravan rally?  Of course not.  And all that thinking certainly gave the old grey cells a bit of a shake-up, I can tell you.

P3210042 A busy old day

The first quiz had a decided political flavour.  Our team of four had to list the 15 political parties that contested the 2014 General Election.  We started well, National, Labour, NZ First (good old Winston who gave us OAPs the Gold Card), The Greens, and the Maori Party.  Then we ran out of steam a bit.  What’s the name of that fellow who always wears bow ties, we asked each other.  And that awful millionaire Kim Dot Com – the name of his political party escaped us for a while, even though it was in the news night after night.  The minutes kept ticking away, and there was no way that we could remember the names of all the fifteen – so there was no way our team was coming first.

Then we were taken back to our childhood days when we were asked to recall Nursery Rhymes in a two part quiz.  First we had to work out the first line from the clue:  Little MMSOAT.  Easy – Little Miss Muffet sat on a Tuffet.  Then we had to recall the second line of the nursery rhyme.  No trouble in this case – “eating her curds and whey”.  Some were easy, and some not, and if we couldn’t get part one there was no way to work out the second line for part two.  We were asked to repeat this exercise 44 times – goodness, who would even know there were that many nursery rhymes.  Geoff and Eileen won this quiz with a wonderful effort of 39 correct answers.

We were blessed with lovely sunny Autumn weather over the weekend, with just a little rain on Sunday.  The school was surrounded with large trees and we listened to the chortling songs of magpies.  And somewhere up high was a tui hiding in the trees who kept us entertained with his singing.   Tui are endemic to New Zealand and belong to the honeyeater family, which means they feed mainly on nectar from flowers of native plants. Occasionally they will eat insects too.  They are important pollinators of many native trees and will fly large distances, especially during winter for their favourite foods.  We finally spotted the tui up on the topmost branch of a large Macrocarpa tree.  Although they appear black from a distance, tui feathers have a beautiful iridescent blue and green sheen.  In this photo you can just make out the curled white feather tufts on the throat.  Because of these white feathers early settlers called the tui the Parson bird.

P3220050 Tui on the highest branch of the tree

And to show you the lovely colours – photo from the internet

It was a great weekend with our caravan buddies, with plenty to keep us entertained, from disc bowls to the pub quiz.  And the blokes were very interested in the cricket match of the day when the Black Caps played the West Indies.  They all huddled together in a group – Barry kept everyone informed with updates on his phone.  But there is nothing wrong with listening the old fashioned way – Dave had his radio tuned to the game and they all listened intently.   Sport is well ingrained into the  Kiwi  male psyche, and there is nothing more serious than international sport.

P3210038 Listening intently to the cricket game

Monday, March 23, 2015

Disc Bowls at Otaki

After a relaxing day at Otaki Beach, we travelled the short distance to Peter Chanel School in Otaki township, where our caravan club was hosting the Combined Rally.  Caravan friends from the Wairarapa and Wellington clubs joined our club, Heretaunga for a weekend of fellowship and friendly banter. 

P3220043 Parked up at Peter Chanel School

There was a little club rivalry too, which reared it’s head during the Saturday games afternoon.  Disc bowls was on the agenda, a bit of a mystery to a non sporty person like me.  But I did my best, and valiantly threw those discs through the air, trying to land as close to the kitty as I could.  Not very successfully, I might add.  Why I was made leader of the team, I’ve got no idea!

P3210020I’ve picked it up, what do I do now?

Robin was in a different team, and had a much better idea of what to do, and used a more professional throwing technique than me.  My method is more like “chuck it and see where it lands”.

P3210032 Robin in action

Surprisingly, my team made it to the semi finals, how on earth did we manage that, before getting knocked out.  The winners were the Wairarapa Team – well done.

P3210036 Harry, Caroline and Bob, the winning team

St Mary’s Catholic Church is adjacent to the school and is New Zealand's oldest Catholic church still in use. It is on the site of what was once a Catholic Mission. A large Maori settlement (kainga) grew up around the mission. The church is in the process of getting a new roof, but that didn’t stop church services being held over the weekend.

P3220045 Work being undertaken on the new roof

P3220048 St Mary’s Catholic Church