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

Monday, September 28, 2009

The start of Daylight Saving

We wondered what sort of weather we would get for our caravan rally weekend away at Paekakariki.  The weather was so horrendous on Thursday evening that we didn’t even bother loading the caravan in the wind and rain, but left it all till Friday after work. Luckily we didn’t have too far to travel up State Highway One to Paekakariki.  It took Robin a little time to set up the Sky TV decoder.  He recently had to purchase a new LNB for the satellite dish as our decoder was exchanged for a new one which uses a different frequency.  It was a matter of turning the TV on, going outside, bending down to ground level to move the satellite dish a fraction of a turn, then bobbing up to peer through the caravan window to check the signal strength on the TV inside.  He looked so funny doing this serious adjustment that I just had to take his photo.

DSCF1896 Checking the TV signal strength

Bill joined us for a walk down to the beach on Saturday afternoon.   After all that bad weather the sea was running high, with large waves rolling onto the beach.  No wonder this coastline suffers from erosion as the waves pound into the sand dunes.  The local Surf Lifesaving club were having a working bee on their club house and were getting things all ready for when their season starts.   The wind and the sea breezes were quite invigorating and certainly blew the cobwebs away.  We stood on the foot bridge for some time watching the sea come rushing in to the river mouth then quickly flow back out again.  We came across a strangely shaped tree on the beach which had been well sculptured by the wind continuously blowing in from the sea across the branches.

DSCF1897 The power of the wind on a growing tree

 

P9260031 The wild sea

Our planned evening BBQ did not take place as the temperature dropped very quickly once the sun reached the horizon, so we all cooked and ate our evening meal inside our cosy caravans.  While we were busy attending to this chore, we noticed several Californian Quail foraging in the grass outside our window.  They looked quite comical as the crests on top of their heads bobbed about jauntily as they pecked away at their dinner.  These were followed by an even larger group of finches.  The smaller birds seemed to be gobbling up whatever grubs and seeds that the quails had missed.

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Quails and finches

We had to change our clocks when we went to bed on Saturday night as it was the start of Daylight Saving.   Daylight Saving commences on the last Sunday in September, and ends on the first Sunday in April the following year, it has now been extended to a 27-week period.  We are fans of Daylight Saving and look forward to enjoying  the nice long summer evenings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Town and Around

After our leisurely look around the water front, our friends soon arrived on Sunday morning and we got on with our day.  First up was a visit to the World Press Photo Exhibition 09, held at Shed 11 on the waterfront. The 200 award winning photos on display were chosen from over 96,000 entries and the exhibition travels to 45 countries.  The categories range from sport, war and conflict, and human interest.  Some of the photos told quite brutal stories and made uncomfortable viewing, they were quite powerful images.  Most of us went in to a competition to name the photo which moved us the most, with a chance to win a Canon camera.

P9200020 Our group outside the World Press Photo Exhibition

We visited the Pataka Museum at Porirua after lunch to see the display about Mana Island.  Mana Island lies off the Kapiti Coast and has had many occupiers over the centuries, starting with the local Maori people.  Artefacts such as fish hooks, spears, and animal remains found in middens provide evidence of human occupation back to the 14th century.  European occupation of the island began in the 1830s when a whaling station was established and then most of the vegetation was cleared to create one of New Zealand’s earliest pastoral farms.   The Department of Conservation took over management of the island in 1987 and began a massive eradication scheme to rid the island of millions of mice, with 5500 bait stations spread across the island spaced at every 50 metres.  Eighteen months later the last mouse was caught and the island was declared rodent free. Mana was the largest Island to be cleared of mice in the world at the time.  Endangered native birds were re-introduced and a long term tree planting programme began. 

Mana1 Here we were on Mana Island 17 years ago

This latter fact triggered our memories as our SLG friends attended one of these tree planting days way back in September 1992 – seventeen years ago when we were all younger and fitter!!  (After a lot of searching I managed to find the photos we took that day).  Our task was to plant cabbage trees on a hill in a specified area.  Once that job was done, we were free to explore the island for the rest of the afternoon. 

Mana2.1 Robin and others planting cabbage trees

“Watch out when you walk down that track”, the ranger told us all.  “There is a male Takahe guarding the nest and he is very aggressive”.  That was putting it mildly – the Takahe rushed out as we walked past and attacked one of our group, tripping him up.  These beautiful blue/green birds are about the size of a hen, but they are much sturdier and have a very strong beak.  What does one do when you are attacked by an enraged endangered bird defending his nest?  Our friend picked the bird up by the legs, keeping well away from that strong snapping beak, tossed the bird over a bush, and ran away fast!!  Luckily the ranger didn’t notice him man-handling the precious bird.  As the afternoon wore on we heard the bird attack other people several more times.  He was obviously upset with all the public wandering around his territory.  We had a great day over at Mana Island and it is good to think that we have done a little bit to help with the tree planting to bring the island back to what it used to be.

Takahe-Mana

Here comes trouble

Monday, September 21, 2009

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day – or so the song goes.  It’s true of course.  We were to meet our SLG friends on Sunday morning but had arrived early.  So while we waited we sat and enjoyed the comings and goings of the Wellington waterfront.  The sun was shining, people were out walking, running or skating, and there was lots of activity on the water.  In the “old” days the wharves were a hive of activity with ships loading and unloading, wharfies scurrying around, trains and trucks coming onto the wharf.  With the advent of containerisation, the wharf traffic reduced considerably.  Wellington waterfront has now been opened up as a recreational area for the public. 

DSCF1869 Snoozing in the morning sun on the waterfront

Across the water the we noticed the Oriental Bay fountain playing.  The small beach at Oriental Bay has an interesting history.  The beach in front of the band rotunda was made up of sand used as ballast on British ships. The ships that came to New Zealand made the sea voyage with sand as ballast and returned with frozen meat and other goods for Britain. Over time this sand has been gradually washed away, the sand has now been supplemented by a replacement program with shipment of sand from Golden Bay in the South Island.

P9200012 Oriental Bay Fountain

 

P9200014 Rowers practising and yachts in the background

The high-rise apartment buildings over in Oriental Bay command very high prices.  With their sea views and just a short drive to the city, living here is very desirable, and expensive.

P9200018East West Ferry on a trip to Soames Island and Day’s Bay

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The best fed birds in town

We were  having trouble lately in purchasing the beef dripping that we use to make our Bird Puddings.  We tried several supermarkets and no one seemed to have any.  Then we were told that the factory making this product had a problem with the machinery and who knew when it would be in production again.  What would our visiting birds do, we wondered.  So then we visited a “real” butcher, who does a lot more than just package and wrap the meat for sale.  This establishment makes their own dripping, we were pleased to find.  As we made our purchase, the assistant said, “You’ll have the best fed birds in  town with our dripping”.  The birds certainly seem to think so, they have been coming in droves.  Both the Silver Eyes and Green Finches are very partial to a bit of pudding!!

P9190011 Four little Silver Eyes

The Green Finches seem to be more assertive and keep the Silver Eyes away.  We have noticed the Silver Eyes perched in the branches patiently waiting for the finches to eat their fill and move away.  But occasionally a Silver Eye will sneak in on the other side of the ball and manage a few bites before it is chased away.  These busy little birds give us such a lot of pleasure watching their antics.

P9190008-1  Silver Eye between two Green Finches 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Love Me Do

We had a nice surprise in the mail a little while ago.  Our friends Dot and Derek (over in UK travelling the canals on board Gypsy Rover) recently spent some time in Liverpool checking out the Beatles haunts from years gone by.  They sent a postcard over which features a very young looking Paul and John taken at the famous Cavern Club way back in 1961.  The boys are all decked out in tight leather pants and Pete Best in in the background playing the drums, obviously Ringo had not made the group at this stage.

I took my postcard to work and pinned it up on my wall.  What a lot of interest it created – everyone knows the Beatles.  I remarked to my Team Leader that the Beatles had toured New Zealand in 1964, performing a concert in Wellington.  They landed at Wellington Airport in June 1964 to be greeted by 7000 screaming fans. For the following eight days, until they flew out of Christchurch, hysterical teenagers screamed wherever they appeared.  At that time I felt that my life as a teenager was over – I was 18 years old, married and expecting my first baby so I couldn’t go and join in with all the other fans.  A crowd of 4000 blocked the Willis St-Manners St intersection in Wellington when the Beatles were staying at the St George Hotel.  It was the biggest thing that had ever happened to teenagers in New Zealand.  George Harrison reflected later: "When we were flying into New Zealand it looked like England, like Devon, with cows and sheep. But in those days we were looking for some action and there was absolutely nothing happening.  We were in the hotel room sitting around eating fish and chips with peas and watching television and suddenly, about nine o'clock at night, the channels all closed down. So we threw our dinners at the TV."

The Team Leader knew absolutely nothing about the Beatles trip to New Zealand as she said she wasn’t even born then!!

 

Beatles

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mystery solved

For a long time now we had noticed piles of what appeared to be sawdust at the base of a large native tree.  We blamed this on our neighbour, who has been known to reach over the fence and lop off overhanging branches.  Then when we had some branches trimmed several months ago we were horrified to find them riddled with very large holes by some sort of burrowing insect.  Closer inspection of our trees showed that two of them had holes throughout the trunk and branches.  What kind of insect could do damage on this scale we wondered?  Let’s just hope that whatever it is stays outside and doesn’t decide to infest our timber house!  We had visions of giant sized borer all ready to attack.

DSCF1867 Large holes in the tree trunk

The mystery was solved with a phone call from our friend Calvin.  “Go and buy the newspaper”, he told us, “and you will see what is making those holes in your trees”.  According to the newspaper article, the culprit is the giant puriri moth, a large green moth with a wing span of 15cm, that’s six inches across.  The eggs are scattered on the ground under trees where the young caterpillars live amongst the leaf litter.  They then climb the tree and bore into the trunk, going in at a right angle then turning 90 degrees to burrow down lengthwise.    The caterpillars live in the tunnel and are thought to have long lives of up to seven years.  They induce the tree to produce callous tissue which they feed on, and protect the tunnel entrance with a tough silken cover.  When they finally emerge as a moth, they live just two days in order to mate and lay eggs.  This hardly seems fair after their exceptionally long life as a caterpillar.

 

image Photo courtesy of Landcare Research

The holes in the trees are obviously where the puriri moths finally emerge from and fly away.  Luckily the grubs feed on living trees so it seems unlikely that they will come and share our house with us.  Amazing that all this has been going on under our noses and we knew nothing about it until now!! 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Birthday Dinner

Last night we went out for a birthday dinner at the Upper Hutt Cossie Club to celebrate Robin’s 62nd birthday.  The  restaurant offers club members a free main course if they come in for a meal on their birthday.  The meal was excellent.  We both chose whitebait fritters as a starter, whitebait are a New Zealand delicacy. Slow cooked pork served with red cabbage for my main, and Robin chose herbed sirloin steak; we had plenty of choice with vegetables from the warmer.  As it was a celebration why not have dessert to finish?  Robin is a real ice-cream fan so his choice was banana split with ice-cream, and mine was lemon tart.  All this was washed down with a handle of beer for Robin, and a glass of bubbly for me.

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The Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club began in February 1961 when a group of people decided to build their own Club to improving local drinking facilities. Leased premises were in use 1971 when the first Club building in Logan Street was opened.  This building was enlarged over the years with the final extension to the building beginning in 2002 with a new $1,500,000 lounge and offices being built. Unfortunately this was completely destroyed by fire on the morning of September 11th 2003.  The fire gave the Club the opportunity to build a new purpose built building, with a floor area of 2751 square metres and the capacity of allowing 1300 people to attend at any one time.  It is a busy club, with many adjuncts to cater for the interests of members.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Robin

It’s Robin’s birthday today and we started it in style.  I whipped up a batch of corn fritters for breakfast, while Robin cooked the bacon and eggs to go with the fritters.  How about that for a good start to the morning.  After breakfast we travelled down to Lower Hutt to the shopping mall to buy Robin’s birthday present.  He wanted a new digital camera so we went to check out brands and prices.  He was quite clear with his requirements.  The camera had to have an eye-piece and he was looking for 10 plus megapixels and a reasonable sort of zoom facility.  He found what he wanted and came home with an Olympus camera.  A little hard bargaining resulted in a camera bag being included in the deal.  So now it is just a matter of reading the instruction book, checking out all the features, and taking plenty of practice photos!!

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Trying out the new camera

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We’ve been Certified

And that’s a good thing – we hasten to add.  Our caravan Romany Rambler has been passed for Self Containment certification.  That means that our both our fresh water and waste tanks are sufficient to allow us to Freedom Camp and stay at any Department of Conservation Camps.

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Two Self Containment Officers did the check for us.  Armed with a tape measure and calculator they measured the capacity of both tanks.  They checked that the fresh water and waste pipes met the standard and that the vents were in the correct position.  They climbed under the caravan, went inside and poked their heads into the sink cupboard, and the bathroom, taking measurements as they went.   Did we have a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, a rubbish bin with lid and a first aid kit?  Yes we did.  Everything required in the standard was met and they signed us off and issued us with a Self Containment sticker, which is proudly displayed on our back window.    This work is done on a volunteer basis on behalf of the New Zealand Motor Home Association and we appreciated the time taken, thanks very much guys.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Come to the Fair

We joined the throngs of people in the weekend and checked out the Spring Fair.  Main Street was closed off to traffic and it was wall to wall people everywhere.  It was dangerous negotiating all those pushchairs that were well under eye level, more down at  knee level really,  and so hard to see the youngsters in their pushchairs with so many people in the crowds.  And why oh why do people bring their dogs to such crowded conditions – they certainly added to the chaos.  We had never seen so many people in our neighbourhood.

DSCF1826 Main Street – packed with people

There were stalls selling all sorts of things.  Crafts, clothing, toys, bric-a-brac, and the tantalising smell of ethnic foods filled the air.  We came across this rather quaint stall set up as a Victorian Kitchen.    The cook was all dressed up in a long dress, apron and a mop cap jauntily placed on her head.  She was hard at work baking scones on a wood stove.  What a hot job that must have been keeping up with the queues of patrons all wanting to buy hot scones with jam and cream.

DSCF1834 Hot scones coming up.

There was plenty of music to keep us entertained too.  As we walked up the street we followed the wonderful sound of a band playing Hotel California, with the lead guitar really playing his heart out.  What a wonderful piece of music that is.  Also worth stopping at was an Irish band, and something completely different, a group dressed up as Red Indians.  This colourful group was playing the haunting music of Peruvian Pipes. 

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The fair had something for everyone.  There was a bouncy castle and various rides for the children, motor bikes and cars on display for the men, and lots of goodies on sale to tempt everyone.  The sun was shining on this lovely Spring Day and the local bobbies were there keeping an eye on things.  The only thing to complain about was our sore feet!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spring Fling

It is officially Spring now, and we have just returned home from the Spring Fling Rally organised by the Wellington Region of the Motor Home Association.  These rallies are much bigger than our more usual Caravan Club Rallies, and there were about 70 campervans and caravans parked up in the grounds of Upper Hutt School, all of 4km away from home.  A non power rally weekend with heavy frost both mornings meant very chilly conditions.  We take for granted the heater and electric blanket  but no, not this weekend.  Motor homes have gas heating and Robin is currently researching something similar for our caravan so that we can comfortably go non power in the cooler months.  The committee were cooking up a fund raising sausage sizzle at lunch time and Robin was quick to line up for his share.

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Saturday evening saw us all gathered in the school hall, waiting to be served our “Cryptic Dinner”.  Just bring a pen and a cup, we were told.  We soon found out what the pen was for when we were given the menu.  This was set out with a numbered list of very strange names, which we had to choose and write against the different courses.  The names represented both food items, beverages and cutlery.  So whatever numbers were chosen were delivered for that particular course. There were certainly some very unusual combinations indeed.  The waiters took great delight in delivering these strange meals to the astounded diners.  Some people had food but no cutlery, others had only a glass of water, and both of us ended up with lettuce for dessert.  It was a lot of fun and everyone was in fits of laughter the whole evening.  A good way to spend four hours!

DSCF1841  A hall full of happy diners waiting for their cryptic meals.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Water Tank Worries

Our fresh water tank was worrying Robin.  On one of his forays underneath the caravan he noticed that the overflow pipe was pointing upwards towards the caravan floor and was not protected from the ingress of foreign matter.  This meant that any overflow could well be squirting water up against the floor and would not be acceptable for self containment.  So the other weekend he  jacked the caravan up, climbed underneath, and unscrewed the bracket holding the water tank in place.  Once this was out, he determined that the tank had been installed upside down!!  In order to fit it back the correct way around some modifications would have to be made to the bracket.  When the welding was done, the bracket received a couple of coats of  galvanised paint, then a top coat.  All this took days, of course. 

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Tank and Modified Bracket ready for Fitting

 

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Re-Fitting the Tank

The bracket was finally refitted, with the tank the correct way around.  The overflow was connected to a length of pipe and fitted to the water filler portal. Then we had to have a test to make sure that everything worked.  Robin filled the water tank and my job was to watch the new plastic pipe inside the cupboard to make sure that the overflow worked correctly and didn't leak at all.  Everything seemed fine, thank goodness.  We should now be able to qualify for self containment.  That’s the next task.

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Fitting the Overflow Pipe.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Karori Sanctuary - Zealandia

The Karori Sanctuary has been selected as one of the top 25 ecological restoration projects in Australasia by the Global Restoration Network, in partnership with the Ecological Management & Restoration journal and the Ecological Society of Australia. This is a wonderful recognition of the Sanctuary’s achievements to date. Wellington's Zealandia - formerly the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary - is just a stone’s throw from the city. Native flora and fauna have been reintroduced into the sanctuary, including the 'living dinosaur' tuatara and rare NZ birds, and many different forms of native life are now flourishing in this safe natural environment. 'Zealandia' is the name of the lost landmass that broke away from the super-continent Gondwana 80 million years ago. We visited the sanctuary in the weekend, and had a long frustrating climb up along the predator proof fence line before finally discovering our very own sponsored fence post. With over 34km of tracks criss-crossing the area, we only walked a small portion on our quest.

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