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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

400 Rallies - Congratulations

We celebrated Peter and Elaine’s wonderful achievement of reaching 400 rallies with the Caravan Club.  No one else in our club is anywhere near this number.  Peter and Elaine were foundation members of the Heretaunga Caravan Club when it was formed 35 years ago.

DSCF1320 Congratulations to Elaine and Peter

We shared a glass of bubbly or two on Saturday night when we toasted them on their achievement.  Then they cut the celebration cake.  Past members had sent messages of congratulations, which were read out by the secretary.

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Robin had been asked to say a few words.  As well as Peter and Elaine’s dedication and commitment to the club, they like to have fun too.  Robin reminded them of the time we found our caravan festooned with toilet paper and knickers!! 

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Misty Martinborough Morning

We are spending the weekend with the Caravan Club at Martinborough Village Camping.   We woke up this morning to find everything covered in tendrils of mist, giving an  ethereal feel to the landscape.

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The mist had lifted a little when we went into the township later in the morning.  Martinborough has a strong family connection on my maternal side.  Our mission was a visit to the Martinborough Hotel to try and track down a photo of my Great-grandfather James Green which we knew had been displayed in these premises.  After a bit of searching we found it.

DSCF1313 My Great-grandfather James Green outside his shop

James Green, Bootmaker, established his business in 1878 and “was favoured with a large share of the Martinborough patronage, keeping really good stocks of boots and shoes”.  Many of my Green relatives lived here in Martinborough and are buried in the two local cemeteries.  The older cemetery is quite close to the Motor Camp, and we visited  it several years ago with my cousin Brian looking for family tombstones.  The later cemetery is on the other side of town and this is where my maternal grand-mother Sarah is buried alongside her first husband.  It was good to catch up with a bit of family history on this misty morning.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Robin’s feeling Poorly

Poor old Robin hasn’t been too well this week.  He has suffered a nasty attack of gout and has been feeling very sorry for himself.  Gout is an extremely painful affliction and needs medication to ease the pain.  So we had a  trip to doctor on Monday because this gout attack was in the knee, instead of in the foot as it usually is.  We needed a visit for blood tests to rule out any other cause, and then a trip to the chemist for new medication.

After several days off work downing pills and resting the knee Robin is now feeling a little better.  Muffy has been doing her bit in Robin’s recuperation,  keeping him company during the day curled up on his lap.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Windy Wellington

Wellington lived up to it’s reputation as a windy city this weekend with a dose of bad weather.   The inter island  Cook Strait ferry sailings were suspended due to huge swells, flights into Wellington airport diverted to Palmerston North and winds gusting up to 140kmh damaging power poles and blocking Blue Mountains Rd in Upper Hutt.  That’s a bit too close to home for us!!

Just as well we are not away in the caravan this weekend as the conditions would make it extremely dangerous for towing.

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ROCKING AND ROLLING: A ship heads out into Cook Strait from Wellington Harbour yesterday. Photo courtesy Dominion Post.

All this bad weather had an effect on the kitchen, with the cook of the family being extra busy.   A pot of soup is bubbling away on the stove for lunch, and we just had to have a steamed pudding for dessert last night.  There’s nothing like a bit of comfort food to cheer us up on these cold bleak days.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lost in the Car park

I took a trip to Wellington Hospital today to meet up with daughter Nicky and grand-daughter Megan who had travelled down from Feilding for an appointment.  This is a trip I had done many times before but……  Wellington Hospital has had a huge rebuilding programme over several years and the new section is now up and running.  Costing $285 million it has been a controversial project as the building went well over the original budget. 

Wellington Hospital officially opened (Source: ONE News)

I drove  into the hospital grounds and oops, encountered a ticket barrier with an exit sign.  This didn’t look right to me.  “I’m going to the top car park”, I told the ticket collector.  Seems I had come in the wrong entrance so I had to hand over my ticket and continue driving up the hill.  Now, how do I actually enter the hospital building?  Wellington Hospital has been added on to over the years and is a collection of many buildings.  The one close by had a sign saying “Construction Site – No patients in this Building”.  Can’t enter here, obviously.  So down the hill I walk, enter a side door, and follow the painted lines on the floor till I find the correct department. 

Waiting at hospitals in inevitable and after the appointment finally came around it was time to say goodbye to Nicky and Megan and head home.  I was in the new part of the hospital so was not quite sure where to go.   I know, I’ll ask at the Reception desk.  Down that corridor and up those stairs, I was told, so off I went.  It was dark and cold outside but I was on the wrong side of the building.  That car park wasn’t the one I was looking for.  So back I went, retracing my steps and exited around the other side.  Climbing back up the hill, I finally came across the car park.  Now, where had I left my car?  Not here, not there, I started to panic, don’t tell me it’s been stolen, or towed away!  I walked around again, looking closely at all the cars.  Then I noticed another car park, a little higher up.  There she is, my little blue Astra, waiting for me in the dark.  Thankfully, I slid behind the wheel, handed over my money to the parking attendant, and started the long drive home.  No sense of direction, that’s me.  What a day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Presents Please

Our friends Helen and Calvin celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary last week.  It is the custom of our SLG friends to mark major birthdays and anniversaries with a joint gift from us all.  And a 50th Anniversary is certainly a major achievement.  But Helen and Calvin requested that we did not buy them a gift.  Part of our outing last Saturday would be our gift to them, we were told.  Wonder what that meant?  We soon found out.

DSCF1284This picture was divided into 12 parts

We gathered at the local Art Studio on Saturday afternoon.  The idea was that we would all paint a portion of a rose.  The parts would get  joined  together, then the completed painting would be our joint gift to the happy couple.  With sorry wails of “but I can’t paint”, echoing around the studio, the art teacher explained how  this painting would be achieved.  A picture of a golden rose was divided into 12 parts, and we each picked our part, sight unseen.  We were then presented with a stretched canvas block.  To make it easy for us, the teacher had marked the lines of petals and leaves on the canvas.  Armed with a brush and a selection of paint, we sat at our respective easels and got to work.

DSCF1288 Robin concentrating hard

The concentration in the room was immense as each of us studied our portion of the rose, and dabbed paint onto the canvas.  The art teacher circulated around, offering words of wisdom to all of us novice painters.  When we had finished we laid each block down on the floor in the correct order.  This gave us a general overview and we were could see which particular blocks needed a little extra shading to tie them all together.

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Once dried, the 12 canvases will be joined together and will hang on the wall at Helen and Calvin’s home.  A joint 50th Anniversary gift painted with love from each and  every one of us.

DSCF1291 The artists with the rose

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Glow-in-the-Dark Golfing

We had a round of golf with our SLG friends yesterday.  No, not real honest-to-goodness golf, but one of those mini putt courses.  This one was a little different though.  Billed as “an 18 hole miniature golf course with a scientific twist, played under black light”.  in other words, Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf.

DSCF1274 Neon glowing rocks are the hazard in this hole

This local venture had only been up and running for a few months, so it was a new experience for us all.  Our group all qualified for Senior Tickets.  We were put into three teams of four, given a golf club and ball each, and walked through the door into the darkness.

DSCF1277The ball has to go in the middle of the coil

It took a few moments for our eyes to get accustomed.  Neon colours glowed brightly in the large room.  Even various parts of our clothing glowed under the black light, including my shoelaces.  Our teams putted their way around the 18 holes with various degrees of success.  I even managed a couple of holes-in-one, don’t know how, certainly nothing to do with my style of  golfing.  I hate to brag, but Robin didn’t manage a hole-in-one!!  Neither of us were one of the top three scorers, never mind, it was a fun morning out.

DSCF1279 Our golfing group

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Orange Toadstool

I’m an orange toadstool, dotted white on top

Growing amongst the autumn leaves, in a vacant plot

Perhaps a witch may pick me, and add me to her brew

With eye of newt and toe of frog, she’ll cast a spell or two

A secret lies within me, I’m poison through and through

So touch me at your peril, I’ll be the death of you

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(Photographed close to Jenny’s work place)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brrrr, winter has arrived early

It was a freezing cold day in the Wellington Region yesterday. A coating of snow on the Taraurua ranges show that winter must have arrived early.  It was a matter of donning my coat, scarf and lovely warm sheepskin gloves to keep the winter chills away.

DSCF1265 Other parts of the country fared much worse though.  There was a heavy dumping of snow over much of the South Island, and motorists were asked to stay at home unless their trip was absolutely necessary.  But the usually sunny Bay of Plenty gets the  “worst weather award”.  They experienced water spouts off the coast, heavy rain and two hail storms.  The hail not only caused heavy damage to kiwifruit crops, but also damaged the roof of the Bayfair Shopping Centre.  Shoppers were evacuated when the ceilings collapsed.  What a day!!

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend at Bridge Lodge

The weather man promised a wet weekend for our caravan rally at Bridge Lodge, Otaki, and we certainly got our share of rain. But then Saturday turned out gloriously sunny, if a little cold, for the most part, before the rain started again. Otaki was named by the Maori, Hau (where Hau “held his staff as he spoke”). Hau was a great traveller and bestowed many of the names on the Kapiti Coast.

DSCF1245 “Blowing Bubbles” kept some amused on Saturday morning. The idea was to see who could produce the biggest bubble and/or the bubble which travelled the longest distance. The large bubbles soon popped, while the smaller ones wafted along in the breeze for quite a long way.

DSCF1234 Robin blowing bubbles

After having the rest of Saturday free, we gathered together in the hall in the evening. The wood-burner was stoked up and burning brightly to keep us all toasty warm while the rain poured down outside. We were placed into teams and completed a couple of quizzes to wake our brains up. Then it was horse racing time. Wooden cut out horses were threaded onto a cord and the contestants had to move their horse along the cord to pass the winning post. This was not easy to achieve and frustration got the better of some. After a slow start I managed to make my horse beat the competition and Robin won his race too.

DSCF1251 Robin and Eileen racing their horses

It was Geoff’s birthday on Sunday and the Birthday Fairies had been busy tying balloons to his caravan during the night. Thanks for the chocolate cake for morning tea.

DSCF1256 Geoff handing out birthday cake

Friday, May 8, 2009

Goldfish down the Gurgler

It’s tough being a goldfish these days.  Especially when the recession makes itself felt.  The goldfish at my place of work were made redundant and taken back to ????  I don’t really know where redundant fish go.  All I do know is that the rental contract was not renewed and the goldfish had to go.

DSCF0965 The fish in happier times

I came in to the cafe one morning to collect my early morning cuppa and noticed one poor goldfish floating belly up at the top of the tank.  He must have had a premonition as later that morning the fish tank repo man came calling.  While I was enjoying my morning tea we watched him get down to business.  The  remaining fish were transferred into plastic bags, then the tank water siphoned away.    By the time my lunch break came around and I visited the cafe once again the repossession had been completed.  There was just an empty space where the fish tank had stood.  Bye bye fishies, hope you go to a good home.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More tyre troubles

On our recent holiday we suffered from a tyre blowout, you may remember.  We took the 4WD into a tyre establishment at Putaruru and 2 new tyres later we were on our way again,  very happy with the service received.  Or so we thought…………

Robin was relating the story of our blowout to the mechanic at work several days later and Alan the mechanic bent down to inspect our new tyres.  “These are the wrong size”, he said in disbelief.  The vehicle takes 275/70/16 and we had been sold a pair of 265/70/16. 

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What to do now?  Robin was advised that for a permanent 4 wheel drive vehicle all tyres must be the same size otherwise expensive things happen to the transfer case and other expensive bits. We had been driving around on them for over a week!!  So it was off to the local agent to have the matter sorted.

To say the local manager was shocked is an understatement.  He was on the phone immediately to see what the branch that fitted to wrong size had to say.  The reply was rather a worry.  “Yes”, the Manager said.  “We didn’t have two of the right size so I thought these two would do”.  The reply was it had to be 4 or nothing if the size was being changed.

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The resolution was the the local agent put the correct size onto the vehicle and said he would sort it out with the other branch.

The service received from both branches was excellent except for the wrong size.  These people may be considered to be experts but you have to always check up on them something we regret not doing on this occasion.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A little bit of Culture - Monet

We decided to beat the crowds this Sunday morning so travelled in reasonably early to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, in Wellington.  All the other culture lovers obviously had the same idea.  “90 minutes waiting in the queue”, we were told by the helpful attendants.  Looking  at amazement at the length of the queue up in the 4th floor we tagged on to the end.   Patiently we all slowly shuffled along, round the corner then back again.  Then, we were within view of the ticket sellers.  Not there yet though, another dog leg in the queue to negotiate.  By the time we bought our tickets, it had indeed taken 90 minutes!!  We purchased our Senior tickets, and with the aid of an audio guide to relay extra information about what we were viewing,  joined the crowds of art enthusiasts.

DSCF1228 Entrance of Te Papa Museum

Claude Monet met up with fellow artists Renoir and Sisley and they developed their Impressionist style.  They broke with tradition and instead worked at capturing the effects of light and atmosphere, painting outside instead of in the studio.  Monet moved to a property in Giverny and developed the land,  diverting streams to make a water garden. 

image Morning on the Seine, near Giverny

There were 55 paintings exhibited and we took our time as we slowly gazed at each one.  The audio guide related how the impressionist painters chose to focus on a “snapshot” of what they see, rather than the full view.  As to be expected, our favourites were quite different.  I just loved the Water Lily painting, and the haunting beautiful misty “Morning on the Seine”.  Robin was entranced with the “Valley of the Petite Creuse” series, the same view painted at different times on the day giving different light effects.

image Valley of the Petite Creuse

Friday, May 1, 2009

Satellite TV Problems

Something was wrong with our Decoder as every now and again it wouldn’t work properly.  So it was time to get the technician around to check things out.  Rushing home from work, I only just made it before he turned up in his van.  Luckily Robin arrived soon after, so that meant he could talk “men’s talk” about all the technical details.

“I remember installing this”, he said.  That was certainly many years ago now.   Collecting his ladder from the van, he climbed up to inspect  the dish and changed the LNB to the latest version that will eventually look at two satellites.  

DSCF1223 Robin was only too happy to lend a hand.  His job was to guide the metres of cable through the floor, which would eventually be pulled outside.  This gives us two satellite cables thereby future proofing our system.

DSCF1225 Robin – helping out

It was decided to replace the decoder and this was soon wired in place.  “You may as well have one of the new wands too”, we were told.  Then everything was tuned in again and the TV tested to make sure that it was working OK.  Now we will have many more years of satellite TV viewing.