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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

She’s Plastered again!!

What has she been doing?  Going out on the town and kicking up her heels?  No – our friend Kathryn has her ankle in plaster again.

About 6 months ago Kathryn underwent an operation on her ankle.  She had  a couple of months in plaster, hobbling around on crutches.  Then she progressed to a stick.  After all this time and a lot of pain the bone has not healed properly.  So the specialist put her in a plaster cast again.

Anyone who has had a limb in plaster knows just how difficult and time consuming it is to do the daily things in life.  Here's a photo of Kathryn at work with a happy smile for the camera.’

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Get Well Soon, Kathryn 

Monday, March 30, 2009

94 Not Out

We called in to see Jenny’s Aunty Win over the weekend.  She lives in a Retirement complex in the Wairarapa.  The fine old house was originally a vicarage and is about 100 years old.  This has been added to with 10 self contained studio units, and communal dining and lounge areas.

DSCF0926 The 100 year old former vicarage – now a retirement home

  Aunty Win is now 94 but still as sharp as ever.  She and Jenny’s Mum were sisters, but sadly Aunty Win is now the last one of that generation.  She was keen to hear all about our recent overseas trip, but commented that overseas travel was certainly not an option in her young day. 

Although she is not quite as nimble as she was, Aunty Win still gets out for a walk most days.  And she cleans her own unit.  She is adamant that she does a much better  job of cleaning than those young girls who come to clean for some of the other residents!!

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“Nothing much ever happens here”, Aunty Win said, “except when the man next door makes toast at midnight and sets the smoke alarm off.  And he’s always doing it!!”. 

Good on you, Aunty Win, keep on keeping on.  We think 94 not out is pretty good going.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Young Farmers Competition

The final of Young Farmers competition is fiercely competed on television, and we were lucky enough to watch part of the Wairarapa semi final on Saturday at Greytown. 

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Electronic drafting machine

The contestants had to show their skills in all sorts of farming related areas.  We watched while the young men strung a  3 wire fence, and put a wheel back on a quad bike.  They had to work an electronic drafting machine to weigh and sort sheep.  A seed drill had to be set up, and calibrate a fertiliser spray set up .  Bees are a very important part of pasture and crop health so the contestants had to show their knowledge in this area as well.  Skills in animal husbandry are required so expertise in drenching had to be shown.  The winners will go on to take part in final which will be televised in the near future.

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Setting up the Seed Drill

After the contestants had completed the practical challenges, they had to take part in a “Cook Off”.  There were eight barbeques arranged in a circle and the young farmers had to show their expertise in this very manly Kiwi chore.

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Building a 3 wire fence

There were fun things happening for tomorrows young farmers as well, with the “Agrikids” competition also taking place.  The local schools had teams entered and they had their own courses to complete.  On the agenda we noticed gumboot throwing and milking a make believe cow.  Some of these children could well be contestants of the Young Farmers competition when they grow up.

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Just how would you milk this cow?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Walk on the Beach

Our happy band of walkers crossed the stream over the wooden foot bridge.  “This is the sort of bridge that should have a troll under it”, Graeme quipped.  Perhaps it has but we didn’t see him.  Once over the bridge we were ready for our walk along the beach.

DSCF0846 Don, Peter, Graeme and Jenny starting off on their walk

The brooding bulk of Kapiti Island hovers off the coast.  This was the impregnable stronghold of Te Rauparaha , the legendary Maori warrior,who led many raids from the island in the 1820s.  These days Kapiti Island is a nature reserve and home to many endangered native birds.

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The balmy sea breezes made us forget that it is now Autumn.  There was lots of wildlife around.  A group of Variable Oystercatchers ran up the beach ahead of us.  These are handsome birds clothed in glossy black plumage set off with bright orange beaks.  As well as eating shell fish, these birds also feed on insects.  They all looked so plump and healthy and in excellent condition.

DSCF0875 Oyster-catchers on the beach

A large group of gulls settled on the beach and in the shallows.  All these seabirds attest that there are plentiful  fish and shellfish  in these waters.  Off shore was a boat enjoying the good conditions.

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We came across this “beach art”.  Someone had been busy turning various pieces of driftwood into something arty.  The piece in the front looked remarkably like an crocodile!!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How the other half lives

We went to see  “how the other half lives”.  Or, in other words, stroll along the beach at Raumati and  take a peek at some of those exclusive  beach front houses.   Like beach front property anywhere in the world, the sea view is worth it’s weight in gold.  Some of the properties were grander than others, but we imagine that even the more modest ones would attract a huge price.  This little home was dwarfed by a huge Norfolk Pine, and they were proudly flying the New Zealand flag.

DSCF0855 Little house, big tree and flag pole

Coastal erosion is a big problem and most home owners erect some sort of wall to protect their boundary.  Then others do not.  With the threat of global warming perhaps beach front properties will disappear in time.  These next two property owners didn’t seem to be doing much to protect their investments.

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We came across this open top gazebo fitted with glass panels to keep out the chilly sea breezes.  The owner gave us a cheery wave as we passed by and snapped some photos.

DSCF0866  As we walked back to the cars we came to the conclusion that beach front properties were well out of our price range!!  We would make do with an ice-cream instead.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Paraparaumu on the Coast

Another weekend – another caravan rally.  This time we travelled up to the Kapiti Holiday Park, at Paraparaumu, on the Kapiti Coast.  Paraparaumu was originally home to small Maori communities clustered along the beaches, which probably explains the  Maori meaning of the name  “scraps from an earth oven”.   After the European settlers arrived, stagecoaches  used the beaches as roads.  These days, Paraparaumu is the fastest growing town in the Wellington area.

DSCF0887 This motor camp boasts “separate facilities for each site”, which are housed in a shed at the rear of each site.  The facilities are certainly not 5 star, a little run down, but are quite adequate for a weekend away, and private for each caravan. 

DSCF0881 Our private facilities

Five caravans and one campervan enjoyed the weekend away.  We experienced lovely warm sunshine on Saturday, followed by heavy rain, then a chilly Sunday. As we are now officially into Autumn, no wonder the weather is turning cooler.

DSCF0879 Caravans on site

After the men had cooked the BBQ meal on Saturday evening, we walked a short distance to the home of fellow caravanners .   We all took along our contributions for shared desserts.  What a lovely assortment we had, everything from fruit salad, trifle, flans, rhubarb crumble and cheese and biscuits.   Then Robin played the slide-show presentation of “25 Happy Years” to our caravan friends.  Included in this were slides of the different caravans and cars we have owned over the years. 

DSCF0885 Decadent Desserts

Friday, March 20, 2009

Of course it’s true

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Yes, after 25 years together, Jenny knows this is so!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hearts of Love

A new quilt for our 25th anniversary?  Why not!  And what would be more appropriate than a quilt full of hearts and stars.

The hearts came from an internet “St Valentines Block Swap” from some years ago.  The idea was that each quilter sends in a particular number of  red appliqué heart blocks to the organiser.  These are then swapped around and each quilter then gets the same amount of different blocks sent back.  Jenny stitched more blocks for herself then enlarged them all by adding “log cabin” strips.  This step resized the blocks from 9in to 12in,  to get enough to make a large quilt.

She put the blocks together using Friendship Stars in the sashing and repeated the stars in the border.  The quilt was commercially quilted with red thread in an lovely swirly all over pattern.  This  added extra colour and interest to the variety of cream fabrics used in the quilt blocks.

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New technology (for us) produced the photo quilt label.  The label was designed on the computer and printed on the colour printer using “Jacquard” treated cotton sheets.  This worked very well.  Jenny loves photo labels, they are so personal and are a snapshot in time, and will certainly use this method of making them on the home computer again.

Now “Hearts of Love” graces our bed.  Don’t you agree that it looks pretty good?  May we have 25 more happy years together.

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“It doesn’t matter where you go in life, what you do, or how much you have.  It’s who you have beside you”.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another day, another celebration

It was family day on Sunday with a continuation of our “Better Late than Never”25th Anniversary get-togethers. We all met up for lunch at Vella at Waikanae, on the Kapiti Coast.  This meant that it made it easier for family members who live north of us.

DSCF0826-1 Happy Years -  Robin and Jenny

The car park was full to overflowing but we managed to squeeze the Astra into a space.  Jenny’s sister Karla and partner Tony were already there enjoying the sunshine when we arrived with Robin’s Mum.  Robin’s brother Gary arrived soon after with Debbie and daughter Suzanne.  We perused the menu and the dessert cabinet while we waited for daughter Nicky,  who had quite a long journey down from Kiwitea.

DSCF0831 Suzanne, Debbie and Gary

Our meals arrived, the choices were fish, chicken, bacon and mushrooms, and a couple of very large burgers.  No chips with the burger, Tony was told, “We don’t have a deep fryer”.  Those burgers certainly looked big enough on their own. 

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As for dessert – it all looked delicious and there was so much choice.  Several of our guests had their eye on the triple chocolate cheesecake and were worried in case some of the earlier diners got in first and ate it all!! 

DSCF0835 Jenny and Nicky

We had a lovely meal together and so nice to spend time with family members for our second “Better Late than Never” 25th Anniversary celebrations.  What a great weekend we have had.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fig Tree Revisited

It was a matter of  “Better Late than Never” today  - to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.  We couldn’t fit it in last November with one thing and another and decided to leave our celebrations till March.  So we met up with our SLG friends for lunch at Jenny’s favourite cafe, the Fig Tree.  Twelve of us met for lunch, including Beatrice and Ashley who were passing through Wellington after spending some weeks touring the South Island in their camper van.  What to have?  There were plenty of choices from the menu, and everyone's meals looked very tasty.

DSCF0808 Enjoying lunch at the Fig Tree

After a leisurely lunch everyone came back home with us for a glass of bubbly.   Then we had a spot of nostalgia while we watched a slide show of our 25 years together.  Didn’t we look young way back then!  There were slides of family, our SLG friends on various outings, and caravan rallies too.  Next up was a slide show of our overseas holiday.  Robin had laboured long and hard over this, editing the photos and adding words and music.

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Banners and Balloons

Then it was time to cut the cake.   As we sat around enjoying our slice of  Black Forest Gateaux we reminisced about all the years of friendship we have shared with this group of people.  We had a lovely afternoon – what did it matter that it was “Better Late than Never”?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Working for a Living - Robin

Robin gets to spend all day driving a truck around. He works for Toops, “Proudly NZ Owned” is their slogan!! He is out and about selling convenience products to small shops in the Wellington region. He enjoys the driving, and the customer contact.

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The orders are put into a small hand held computer, known as a PDT (Personal Data Terminal). This is then plugged in to the printer kept in the back of the truck and a packing slip and Invoice are produced.

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The drivers all like to have the rear of the trucks organised to their liking, so that know exactly where each product is situated. Then they can pack the orders quickly and move on to the next customer.

Here is Robin all decked out in his Toops uniform, raring to go and serve the next customer!!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Working for a Living – Jenny

Nestled against the Eastern foothills in Upper Hutt is where Jenny spends her working days.  The workplace is a Processing Centre for a Government Department.  She works in the Data Capture area, sitting in front of a computer, day after day.  As a “temp” she is employed by the Agency which supplies temporary staff as required to meet the business needs, and is not a government employee.

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The setting for this huge building is rather attractive.  The hills close by are covered in native bush ringing to the sounds of birdlife.  The cicadas sing their hearts out during the hot summer days.  A little stream gurgles through the property and is home to a large population of Mallard ducks.There are a couple of cats in residence who are well looked after by kind hearted staff members.  The greedy ducks often gobble up the cat food if they think they can get away with it.

DSCF0778 When Jenny first started work here she was a little disconcerted to discover that a property in the same street is well fortified with high fences a a stout gate.  However,  the occupants go about their own business, and do not cause any trouble to the hundred of staff that pass by each day.  There are a couple of large dogs well contained inside the property who occasionally take umbrage to passers by.  Otherwise, they are model neighbours.  Check out this sign on their gate.

DSCF0748 The main attraction of working here is the closeness to home, just a ten minute drive away.  This certainly beats joining the rush hour traffic to commute into the big city. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sun Power

We’ve got power, just had a solar panel installed on the caravan to boost the battery output. This is all part of our grand plan to be a little more self sufficient. We are thinking ahead for when we give up our day jobs and travel around this wonderful country of ours.

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We purchased a 85watt Solar Panel from Ward’s RV in Lower Hutt, and they did the installation for us at their workshop. First step was to fit the brackets to the panel. Jarrod then climbed up on a ladder and washed down the roof, to remove all particles of grit and dirt.

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Washing down the roof to prepare for installation

Then the microwave was removed. This allowed space for the cables to feed down from the roof. Then the installer carefully climbed on the roof of the caravan. Holes were drilled for the fittings and cabling. The solar panel was then put in place and all the holes riveted and sealed. The cable was threaded through the roof and the opening sealed. It was taken down behind the fridge, under the floor, and attached to the battery.

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Attaching the Solar Panel

Next step was to fit the controller just inside the door. The cover was removed from the solar panel and it started working immediately. All this work took about 4 hours.

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Wiring up the Control Panel

Robin has been out checking the control panel regularly and it all seems to be working fine. The real test will be when we have our next non-power rally and the solar panel should keep our battery in tip top working order.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Holiday snaps

We know it’s been a wee while now since we returned home from our overseas holiday.  And it’s certainly time to get those holiday snaps put in some sort of order.

Robin has been spending quite some time at the lap top recently.  He took a huge amount of digital photos and had them copied on to several CDs while we were overseas.  These have now been whittled down and put into a slide show format.  With a bit of background music added for interest, this big job is nearing completion.

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Jenny has also been busy, sorting through her many envelopes of photos, brochures, tickets and other memorabilia.  She is organising all these memories into an album.  There is still a way to go with this, but every little bit of time spent means this job is getting closer to completion.

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Now……. who wants to view our holiday photos?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Night at the Races

Ladies – wear hats and gloves.  Gentleman – hats and ties.  Those were the instructions we were given for Saturday night at the caravan rally at Greytown.  Mmmm, wonder what that’s all about?

So we dressed accordingly and paddled through the rain to Bev and Andy’s large awning after dinner.  We were having a night at the races, we were told.  First up was a group photo of us all in our finery.  The camera was set up ready and waiting on a tripod.  We were all arranged to Bev’s liking, then she set up her camera to the delayed function.  Pressing the button, Bev quickly sat down with the rest of us, and “flash”, the group photo was taken.  That’s certainly very clever.

Greytown races 2 Dressed for the Races

Then we were off to the races.  Everyone was given a bag of “funny money” to bet with, as well as a race book.  Bev was running the tote which was duly opened for business and we all placed our bets.  Andy had made the racetrack the horses which were all set up on a large table, as well as being in charge of the dice.  Two dice were thrown each time.  One denoted the number of the horse, and the other how many spaces it could move.  The excitement mounted as the winners were getting closer to the finish line.

DSCF0788 Placing a Bet

The races with water jumps and hurdles caused some frustration to the punters.  The horses had to get a particular throw of the dice before they could continue over the obstacles.  This caused a serious backlog as number after number was called, but not the correct one to get the horse moving!

DSCF0789Chief  Course Steward

As the evening wore on the betting was getting heavier.  Some of our group made a fortune, but poor Jenny was the only one who did not get a single collect.  Never mind – she won a prize for “best hat” instead.  Special thanks to Andy for all the time he put into making the evening a great success, and to Bev for being an excellent bookie.

DSCF0786 Who’s this Glamorous Couple?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Greytown in the rain

Greytown was named after Governor Sir George Grey, and was New Zealand’s first planned inland town, settled in 1854.  It was intended to be the main centre of the region but frequent flooding meant that the railway bypassed Greytown in the 1870s .  The area is home to many orchards and market gardens which thrive in the rich alluvial soil.  We called in to one of the orchards to buy a box of omega plums for Jenny to make some jam.  The main street still has many quaint Victorian shops.  This  shop has been in continual use as a butchery since 1873 – and we can vouch for the delicious sausages produced on the premises!

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Butchers shop since 1873 & still going strong

We  joined our caravan club friends to rally at the campground over the weekend at Soldiers Memorial Park, Greytown.   The handsome stone and wrought iron gates honour the fallen soldiers of WW1  from this region.

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The entrance to the Motor Camp

Although nice and sunny on Friday afternoon, the weather forecast was for rain, and more rain.  This started early on Saturday morning, and the rain kept falling for 24 hours.  As usual, on Sunday morning when it was time to pack up and go home, the sun came out again. 

Robin wondered how all the birds and insects keep dry in such a deluge.  We soon found out where one large spider went to escape the incessant rain.  He had crawled up our porch awning and was sheltering between the two layers of plastic and mesh that make up the window section.  What a monster – everyone came to check him out!!

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Yuk – who likes big black spiders?