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

Monday, July 28, 2014

We know we are getting Older when…..

Oh dear – we know we are getting older when the two speakers invited to our 60s Up meeting came to talk about Diabetes and Alzheimers!

The diabetes speaker went first.  Who has been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, she wanted to know, and quite a few hands were raised.  The complications from diabetes are many and quite severe, including depression, and we felt a little depressed just hearing about them all.  As with most health issues, the message of exercise, weight control and healthy eating is stressed, and Diabetes New Zealand offer a huge amount of support, as does the Ministry of Health.  Over 225,000 New Zealanders have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and every day 50 more people are diagnosed with diabetes - is an epidemic in this country.

P7280005 Ann Wright, Diabetes speaker, offering helpful brochures

We joked between ourselves, wondering if the Alzheimers speaker would remember to come!  Luckily she did, and gave us a very interesting talk on Alzheimers, Dementia and memory loss.  There are lots of causes of memory problems, she stressed, so anyone worrying should get checked out by the doctor.  Donna stressed that anything which impacts on your heart, such as those old bogeys of smoking, alcohol and being over-weight, can also impact on dementia. Keep the brain active, keep learning new things, and keep active, was her advice.  Sadly, the older we get, the higher the risk.  And that old wives tale of the having our family meals in earlier years cooked in aluminium pots causing Alzheimers  has never been proven, she reassured us.  That’s a relief, they were the only pots our family had when we were growing up.

Feeling really over the hill and not far away from the scrap heap, we made our way home.  But the sight of the snow capped Tararua Ranges glistening in the wintery sunshine can always lift our spirits and cheer us up. 

P7270002 Snow on the Tararua Ranges

Back home, our beautiful Birman Muffy was curled up fast asleep and didn't even hear us return.  Sadly, she has been diagnosed with Senile Vocalisation, a pussy cat version of forgetfulness and occasional confusion, and sometimes roams around the house getting lost. All we can do is keep her feeling happy, secure and loved in her twilight years.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chocolate for Afters

It was a matter of chocolate for afters in the afternoon of our SLG outing.  We had already seen how bread is made the old fashioned way in a small bakery, and enjoyed our our lunch at Breakers.  John had organised a visit to “The Most Amazing Chocolate Factory” in Paraparaumu.

P7220020  Step through these doors for some chocolate

Locals with long memories will recall that this business used to be known as Nyco Chocolates.  And we can remember when the factory was first established over the hill in Featherston.  Lenora Nysse was quite keen to make chocolates after her husband returned from an overseas trip with some chocolate moulds for her.  Nyco Chocolates was established in 1981 and went from strength to strength.  Son Steven joined the company in 1985 and sales grew so quickly they outgrew their premises.  It was time to expand, the factory relocated to Paraparaumu in 1992.  Today, Nyco Chocolates exports its chocolate products to Japan, Singapore, Australia, Middle East and Pacific Islands.  They also specialise in private label chocolates for businesses and weddings, and manufacture the chocolately treats which go into commercial ice cream and baking products. 

Our group was there to take a tour through the factory.  But first things first, we had to follow procedures and cover our hair.  In Robin’s case, that meant his beard too.

P7220022 All ready for the chocolate tour

A seemingly never ending stream of warm white chocolate gurgled away in the machine and our the tour guide demonstrated filling the moulds  to make the chocolate cups.

P7220023Under the chocolate fountain

These can be filled with all sorts of goodies, topped up with chocolate again, and popped into the refrigeration unit to set.  In this case, jelly beans were added into each cup.

P7220025
Jelly Bean choccies

The large moulds, such as hollow Easter Eggs or Rabbits, had chocolate added then they were placed on a spinner.  This ensured that the chocolate got into every little nook and cranny.

P7220027 
Two halves of an Easter Egg

We were offered tastings as the processes were explained.  Then it was through the factory doors again we were let loose in the retail shop.  Now, what to choose?  The sign said if we buy three bags it works out cheaper!  One bag of peppermint  chocolates, one of  hokey pokey, and the last bag had manuka honey in the filling.   That should keep us going for a while.

P7220028 All these goodies for sale

Then it was back to John and Jan’s home for afternoon tea, and yet another natter, and put our feet up for a while before heading off to our respective homes..  It was a great day out, thanks to John for organising it for our SLG friends. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bread – the Staff of Life

Our SLG friends have been meeting once a month for over 20 years now for trips and outings and we have been to an awful lot of places in this time.  John organised yesterday’s outing and surprised us all by taking us to a place none of us even knew existed.  We played “follow the leader” in our cars and all pulled up into a car park in an industrial area of Paraparaumu.  Where we we going, we wondered – hope it is not to that gym we can see, our middle aged bodies wouldn’t look too good in lycra!  But no, our visit was to Paraoa Bakehouse, the home of Purebread.

P7220016 Paraoa Bakehouse

The factory owner, Robert Glensor, is passionate about his products, and makes bread the old fashioned way using bulk fermentation and organic ingredients.  From the very beginning organic was at the heart of this little bakery and Purebread proudly became New Zealand's first Bio-Gro certified organic bread.  Purebread utilises age old ‘slow’ production process, sourdough starters or fermentation methods.  This allows the natural enzymes to get working, breaking down the complex carbohydrates, which ensures easier digestion.  He believes that much of the gluten intolerance many are experiencing is partly caused by the ‘modern’ and very fast methods of bread baking, making the bread less digestible, damaging the gut causing the sensitivity.  Robert related the history of his company, and showed us around the factory as the various bread products were being mixed, cooked, and packaged. 

P7220007

P7220010 Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread

We had a peek in the store room where the organic flour imported from Australia is stored.  The company buys products from some of New Zealand’s best known organic food producers, helping to support the local industry and produce the healthiest and most nutritious foods for everyone, such as the big drums of Oxford honey we saw, and many other ingredients necessary in the art of bread making.

After our tour we tasted some hot buttered toast, spread with another of Robert’s products, delicious peanut butter.  Yum, it may be an ever so humble snack, but we couldn’t help ourselves and it all went in a flash.

P7220005 SLG friends in the factory with one of the workers

As a firm believer in sustainability, nothing is wasted.  The factory turns extra bread into breadcrumbs, and donates leftover bread to food banks.  There is no shop on the premises, but Purebread is available at selected shops, or can be purchased on-line.  We will certainly be buying some – it may be a little more expensive, but it is made by hand and no one ever regretted buying quality.

After our morning bakery visit, it was time for lunch.  Where to, John? we wanted to know.  Round a few corners we drove to arrive at Breakers Cafe and Bar.  With good value $12 lunch deals available, there was something for everyone.  Robin chose beef snitzel and chips, and my choice was fish pie and salad, both nice and tasty. 

P7220019 $12 lunch deals

So that is the morning over, wonder what John has in store for us after lunch?  We will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Misty Morning

Yesterday we awoke to a strange sight.  Mist covered our village so much that we could hardly see down the road.  How weird - it's never been like this before in the 15 months or so we have lived here.  Camera in hand, I went for a walk to investigate.

P7210046

And there's our house, surrounded by swirling mist.  It’s like living on the Yorkshire Moors.  Anyone seen Heathcliffe?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Heading Home

The weather wasn’t too great for our weekend rally at Masterton, wet and drizzly and very slushy underfoot.  There was no sunshine to sit out and enjoy on this rally.  But we can’t complain, it is winter, after all, and luckily there was no cold wind to drop the temperature down dramatically.  After our Sunday morning tea, it was time to pack up, say our goodbyes, and get on the road again.  Some were heading north, two couples decided to have an extra night away, and the rest of us trundled off to our respective homes.  But first, we had to attend to the all important visit to the dump station, nice and handy in the camp grounds.

P7200019 Emptying the waste water is men’s work

Our trip home took us north up SH2, driving past Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre and Eketahuna, up to Pahiatua.  We turned off at Pahiatua and drove over the attractive concrete “bowstring arch” bridge.  The bridge contract was let to Fletcher Construction Company in May 1931, and was completed for  £14,000.  Bridge construction was an unusual move for Fletcher Construction Company, but the company saw bridge building as an opportunity to keep its concrete-based workforce employed during the Great Depression.   With state subsidies for roading projects  on offer, it was a sensible way to keep the business afloat during these difficult years. The Pahiatua Town Bridge is now listed as “Historic Place Category 1”.

P7200029 Pahiatua Town Bridge

Up and over the Pahiatua Track we drove, with rain following us most of the way.  Although called a track, this is in fact a real road, no trouble at all, even when towing a caravan.  The Track is an alternative route instead of driving through the Manawatu Gorge.  Getting close to home we noticed misty clouds hanging low in the foothills.

P7200037 Nearly home now

We quickly unpacked the caravan in the rain and settled down for a late lunch.  Our house was a bit chilly after being left empty over the weekend, but the heat pump soon took care of that.    With a warming bowl of soup for lunch, we soon feeling nice and cosy.  Then it was back to the caravan for a quick clean and vacuum – there, all spic and span for next time.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mawley Holiday Park, Masterton

Mawley Holiday Park is nestled in a sheltered, peaceful park-like setting on the banks of the Waipoua River.  Fully-refurbished in 2012, Mawley Holiday Park offers campers like us powered caravan sites, and modern ablution blocks with en-suite shower, toilet and hand basin in each unit.  And the park is just a short walk away from the beautiful QEII Park, with it’s adventure playground, heated indoor and outdoor pool complex with hydro-slide, skate park, museums, and mini golf.

P7180006

P7180005 Lovely setting at the caravan park

This is our AGM Rally, and although a little robust at times, the AGM went off without a hitch.  The new committee is a mixture of old and new, with some committee members staying on for another term, with a couple of newer members voted in too.  They will all work together to ensure another year of caravan club rallies at interesting sites.  President Derek welcomed two new members into the club, it’s great to have you, Sandy and Bea.

P7190017 New members Sandy and Bea, with Derek

With the AGM done and dusted, some went off to visit the shops, while others stayed around camp visiting with fellow members. Now what is this group doing?  Looks like they are having a secret meeting all  squashed inside Selwyn and Kath’s new porch awning.  I’ve no idea what it was all about, as they didn’t invite me to the meeting!

P7190018 Secret meeting under the awning

The all important 4zees took place at, you’ve guessed it, 4pm.  We had a visit from Harry, a member of the Wairarapa Caravan Club, who popped in to welcome us to his little patch of paradise, and catch up with our news.  Later on some went out for the evening meal, some stayed back in camp and self catered, and we all got together in the evening.  We are fortunate to have the use of the TV room for our AGM meeting and to socialise in  the evenings.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Feeling the Cold in Eketahuna

We can look forward to a really chilly night here in Eketahuna, if the afternoon temperatures are anything to go by.  We are only stopping overnight, en route to our weekend caravan rally to be held in Masterton.  Here we are parked up on the hard, so we are not exiting the van onto the wet grass.  It didn’t take too long to get the  wind up TV aerial pointing in the right direction, so we have good reception.  With the heater going flat out, we sat down and enjoyed our lunch in solitary splendour.  Except for a couple of permanents, we are parked up alone while we wait for our travelling companions to join us.
 P7170021 All alone in Ekatahuna

Our original plan was to park on the lawn.  But Eketahuna must have had more than it’s fair share of rain, as these sites were all muddy and slushy.  “Keep off the Grass”, the sign warned.  It must be very boggy underfoot, soft enough for caravan wheels to sink in and get stuck, no doubt
.
P7170020 Too wet for these power sites on the grass to be used

We spotted a car and caravan driving down the steep entrance road  to the camp mid afternoon – Geoff and Eileen had arrived.   With a little help from Robin guiding them, they were soon parked up where they wanted to be.  So now there are two of us.  The afternoon was spent chatting, drinking coffee, and watching the rain set in.   We didn’t even get around to having 4zees – that must be a first!  Then we headed back to our own van to organise the evening meal.

P7170025 No longer alone

It’s almost time to switch the electric blanket on to warm up the bed, and with the heater still going we should be nice and toasty tonight.  Not like the tourist couple from Belgium who arrived at the camp a while ago.  They are going to sleep in their car tonight, they told us.   With the rain and cold overnight temperatures, it could well be a very cold and uncomfortable night for them, we expect.  Perhaps we will give them a passing thought when we are tucked up warm and cozy in our bed.