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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tinkerbelle’s in Trouble

Our next door neighbour came over in a bit of a panic.  Her young kitten Tinkerbelle was up on our roof and couldn’t get down.  Could she borrow a ladder?  Of course she could.  Robin collected the ladder and we went to see what we could do.  There she was, a cute little black and white kitten, way up high on the top of our roof.  Our neighbour was rather worried, as Tinkerbelle is really quite tiny and could fall and injure herself.  But that didn’t happen.  She just made a leap into the large conifer tree and scampered down all by herself. 

DSCF2583  I’m hiding, can’t catch me

It appears that Tinkerbelle has been up and down our large tree many times, the neighbour from the other side informed us.  Now the kitten had an audience, she was prancing up and down that tree with all the grace of a ballet dancer.  Tinkerbelle wasn’t in trouble after all, thank goodness.

DSCF2585 Here’s Tinkerbelle

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One out of the box

The day started fine but misty.  All this mist was hovering over the ground and up to the hill tops.  It looked like eerie and dramatic and a little bit spooky.  Perhaps this is a bit like the moors around Wuthering Heights?  Is Heathcliff there somewhere?

DSCF2579A misty morning

Things had changed dramatically when I left work at 3.00pn.  The mist had long gone and the temperature  was scorching.  Check this out, almost 30 degrees in Upper Hutt.  It was certainly a day out of the box.  Perhaps summer is here at last.

DSCF2580 Scorching hot in the afternoon

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Having fun at Brookfield

The rain finally stopped and the sun came out in time for the “Discover Brookfield” competition.  Various teams wandered around the extensive grounds looking for answers to complete the questionnaires.  Some of the questions were quite easy – such as counting the number of flagpoles and outdoor fireplaces.  The fireplaces were scattered all over the grounds, and there are 36!!  We had to find the delightful open air chapel and which is situated on top of a rise, tucked away amongst the trees.  It was built in 1959 and the beautiful stone alter is built from local river stones.

DSCF2565 Stone alter in the open air Chapel

Another of the questions was to estimate the height of the main flagpole.  Robin declared he knew how to achieve this, and it involved pointing a stick at the flagpole. I had absolutely no idea what he was doing, and can only presume it was an old scouting trick from his youth.  Peter was in the distance, helping by pacing off from the flagpole.  It did look rather strange, and after all that measuring, he came up with the wrong answer.

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DSCF2566 Mmmm, what will that measurement be?

The Flying Fox was up and running and the children lined up eagerly to take their turn.  Some of the grown-ups didn’t want to miss out and they jumped on too.  After yahooing all the way down on their ride, and bouncing off the stacked tires at the end, everyone was only too happy to haul the seat back to the platform to the next one waiting in line.  It all looked a whole heap of fun and the noise and laughter rang through the camp.

P1240354 Who’s next for the Flying Fox?

No one can go kayaking and keep their pants dry, it seems.  The kayaks wobble around alarmingly and obviously take in water as they are paddled around the pond.  We watched several children and their parents having the time of their lives.  Even the smaller children appeared very competent as the dipped their paddles into the water.   When the boats were pulled up onto the edge the kayakers climbed out, dripping water .  Then it was off to have a nice hot shower and a change of clothes.

DSCF2575 Kayaks on the pond

The scenery in this area is just spectacular.   Native bush covers the hills, creeks babble along their way, and there are  birds everywhere.   It is a beautiful peaceful place and we certainly enjoyed our weekend of camping.

P1240341 View of the surrounding hills

Monday, January 25, 2010

Around the campfire

There’s something rather stone age and tribal about a campfire.  Perhaps it evokes long forgotten memories of our forebears as they gathered around the fire after a successful hunt.  We sat around the campfire circle on Sunday evening at Brookfield and gazed at the fire crackling in the hearth.

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Ian and Derek were in charge of proceedings and looked resplendent  in their campfire blankets, each decorated with numerous scouting badges and coloured scarves.  They led the group in campfire songs and related tall tales.  Some of the songs required actions to be performed and we were up and down like yo yos.  The younger children in the audience were also involved.  They walked around and around the fire as the story unfolded about a naughty rabbit chasing lots of little mice.  The rabbit soon got her come-uppance for being naughty when she was turned into a carrot, and the mice ate her all up.

P1240367 Scout Leaders Ian and Derek

Those in the audience like Robin who had been through the scouting organisation in their younger days knew all the words to the songs and chants.  Others did the best we could, and we all joined in with gusto.  It was a great night, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, doing something that was quite a new experience for many of us.

P1240364 Jenny, Elaine and Peter ready for the campfire songs

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Wilds of Wainuiomata

Imagine this – 350 acres of bush covered forest in in the wilds of Moores Valley, Wainuiomata, in 1864.  The land would have been teeming with native birds when the property was purchased by emigrate Cornishman John Crowther who developed it into a farm.  His daughter Mary lived here all her life and on her death in 1958 bequeathed the property to Scouting Wellington.  Adjoining land has since been purchased allowing water to be collected and treated for use on the property.  34 caravans (including a sprinkling of campervans) parked in the former orchard amongst the apple trees this weekend at Brookfield to take part in the Wellington Regional Rally, hosted by the Wainiomata Caravan Club.

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Pools of water covered the ground when we arrived and  the rain continued to fall for most of the weekend.  The rain turned the ground to mud and slush, but campers are hardy folks and most just donned their gum boots as they slipped and slid their way around the camp site, wearing rain jackets and carrying umbrellas.  First order of the weekend was the official opening on Friday night.  The sounds of a lone bagpipe heralded the arrival of the club banner bearers as they made their way into the hall.

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The banner bearers marched behind the kilted bag pipe player and the banners were displayed in the hall the whole weekend.  Robin had the honour of carrying our banner as he is the current President of Heretaunga Caravan Club.  The rally was officially opened and the weekend activities got under way. It was nice to catch up with members of other clubs who we only see now and again at these sorts of occasions.

 DSCF2551 Here comes the banner man

On Saturday the camp manager Ian gave us a very interesting potted history of the complex from it’s early days as a farm, through to the present time as Brookfield Outdoor Centre.  The property caters for scout groups and school parties and provides such fun activities as kayaks and canoes, and a flying fox. We all met back in the hall in the evening for a catered dinner.  My main concern was how I was going to walk to the hall through all that mud as I was dressed for dinner and wanted to wear my “good” shoes out to the meal.  We had not thought to pack our gumboots. No problem, I would wear my muddy sneakers on my feet, (they looked a bit strange teamed with my flowing skirt and toning top) then change into my good shoes at the hall.  Robin couldn’t understand my concerns.  HIs suggestion to keep my sneakers on during the meal was not well received.  The meal was delicious and included hot ham, beef, chicken and a selection of vegetables and salads.  The hall was abuzz with after dinner conversations flowing around the tables.

dinner Enjoying our evening meal

At the end of the evening, everyone changed into their gummies, donned their jackets, raised their umbrellas and trudged back to their respective caravans through the mud and sludge.  Oh, the joys of camping in the rain!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Off with the old, in with the new

It was time to replace our fridge.  The frost free freezer on top kept icing up – that was not what was meant to happen.  Robin was getting sick and tired of scraping the ice out.  So we went shopping to look for a replacement.  There was plenty of choice,  from the economy priced brands to the fancier ones, white or stainless steel, and big fancy models with double doors.  Our new fridge had to fit into an existing space, so we went armed with my trusty tape measure.   We finally made our choice, negotiated a discount, and a couple of days later, our new fridge arrived.

The old fridge was  manoeuvred  out of the way into the hallway.  It only just fitted through the door.  “How long have we had it”, we wondered, “perhaps 10 years or so?”  The tall young delivery man who sported a wonderful head of curly hair checked the numbers.  “Oh no”, he said, “this one is 21 years old.  Don’t expect your new one to last so long”.  That was a bit of a worry, another example of planned obsolescence perhaps?

DSCF2528 Moving the old fridge out into the hallway

In came the new fridge.  It took some clever manoeuvring to edge it up the hallway, past the small table on one side and the bookcase on the other.  Then a 90 degree turn into the kitchen past the sliding door, and it was edged gently into the space.  The young man  plugged it in to the power, made sure it was humming away, and ran through some of the features with us.  Seems that the door will beep if it is left open too long.  And it can sense when new food placed inside need chilling quickly.  

DSCF2536 The new model all set up

Then it was just a matter of slowing taking the old fridge down the hallway, out the door, and down the path.  A quick flip and he put it on it’s side and slid it along a mat in to the back of the van.  All this was done single handed.  Off he drove with our 21 year old fridge, to get it checked over to see what the trade-in price would be. 

DSCF2534 Goodbye old friend

So that’s the fridge replaced, and the stove.  The plan is to replace the white ware before retirement.  Guess the next thing will be the washing machine.  Don’t need to worry about a dish-washer – that’s Robin’s job!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Last Supper

I had my last supper way back on Sunday night – and very nice it was too.  Roast chicken and oven baked chips.   That was followed with a day of clear liquids only, then I had to swallow vast quantities of foul tasting liquids.  All this was because of my forthcoming “procedure”.

Handy hint number 1:  Toss back each glass full as quick as you can then pop a glucose barley sugar in your mouth take that awful taste away.

Handy hint number 2:  Don’t sneeze or cough once it is working!

Muffy decided to show her solidarity by not eating either.  She sat in front of her bowl steadfastly refusing to eat.  I like to think she was saying to me, “If you can’t eat I won’t either”.  In reality, she is probably saying,”I don’t like that, get me something else!”.

DSCF2491 Muffy isn’t eating either

Today was the day of the procedure and I am pleased to report that everything went well.  No nasty surprises lurking around, only a couple of little imperfections that were soon snared and removed.  Robin is in charge of the evening meal tonight and the decision has been made for him to go down to “The Local Roast” and bring back roast pork dinners for two, with extra crackle. That should perk me up no end.  Then I  might need an early night to get over all the excitement of the last couple of days!  

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It’s official, not much of a Summer

As you can see, since Christmas Eve those of us who live in the Wellington region have had only 6 sunny days, and 12 days with some rain fall.  Throw a couple of variable days into the mix, along with patchy, cloudy, drizzle and rain, and that is our Summer.  So what has it been like the last couple of days?  Heavy rain yesterday, rain overnight, and grey clouds today.   Luckily the temperatures have been mostly warm.  Where are our “blue dome” days of Summer?  At least there is no sign of snow and ice!

Summer takes a holiday Summer takes a holiday

Thanks to Dominion Post and Met Service for this chart

Saturday, January 16, 2010

No cooking on Fridays

As the end of the working week rolls around, the cook at this household has had enough of cooking a “proper” meal night after night. We usually have takeaways, or, at a pinch, I will rustle up something light. Robin had a good idea for last night. “Let’s eat out”. We didn’t want anywhere too posh, or too expensive, so settled on The Carvery, a few miles away at Trentham.

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Here we can get a three course smorgasbord buffet for only $20.00 each, excellent value we think. Nothing extra fancy, just good wholesome food. This restaurant has been through many changes over the years. It started life as a “Cobb and Co”. The decor changed with tartan carpets and stuffed pheasants when the restaurant changed to become “The Game Keeper”. It changed again to the trendy “Deaux Tartes”, run by two lady chefs. There have no doubt been several other name and style changes that we just can’t remember.

DSCF2520 The servary area

Pumpkin soup was keeping warm in a large tureen, so we both had a little of that. What were the roasts tonight? Roast pork (my favourite) and roast beef. Add some roast pumpkin and crispsy roast potatoes, freshly cooked veggies, pour over the gravy, a little apple sauce on the side, and don’t forget the pork crackle! And what about dessert? Robin never goes past ice-cream, and I tried baked pear and ginger pudding. All very nice, good honest food.

DSCF2518 Who are these young things?

For all the film buffs, there is a photo wall of film stars from long ago when they were all so much younger. There was Bo Derek, walking out of the sea, and a very young Elizabeth Taylor. We recognised most of them, but bet the younger generation would not have any idea who they were.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The No’s Have it!

I wasn’t required at work today, which suited me just fine as I had to attend a hospital appointment.  Passing Avalon Park on the way down, these colourful “Smiling Windmills” were standing tall and proud.  They were designed by Leon van den Eijkel, who, as a boy growing up in Holland, recalled that life was exciting and full of joy.  “Nature played with us”, he states, “the clouds, the rain, the wind, and the sea.”  Being an island nation, we have plenty of wind here in New Zealand to keep these smiling windmills whizzing around.

DSCF2512 The Smiling Windmills at Avalon Park

My pre-assessment interview went well.  Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc, etc, etc?   No, no, no, I replied.  What medicines are you on?  None. Do you smoke or drink?  No and no again.  By this time my sheet was filled with all these no's, and the nurse must have thought I was a real “goody goody two shoes”.  Then I had my blood pressure taken, no trouble with that.  I have to go back again next week for a procedure.  You don’t really want to know what it is.  But it involves drinking vast quantities of foul tasting liquid.  Which they packed up and gave me to take home.  Lucky old me!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Segway comes to town

While out and about in the weekend I came across this sign outside Maidstone Park.  Mmmm, that looks interesting, better go and have a look.

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Just inside the gate was one these new fangled contraptions on display.  It certainly looked interesting, and there was a family group giving it the once over.  For only $10.00 anyone could have a go.  What about me?  No thanks, I’ll just watch.

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There were several young men driving around and around the improvised track having the time of their life.  It certainly looked like fun.  As I watched, one of them fell off.  Looks like it is not as easy to ride as it seems.  And why aren’t they wearing helmets?

DSCF2467 Round and round he goes

So what exactly is a Segway?  It is a two wheeled, self balancing vehicle and was invented by Dean Kamen.  Computers and motors in the base keep it upright. Users lean forward to go forward, lean back to go backwards.  They turn by using a “Lean Steer” handlebar, leaning to left or right. (Wonder if I could remember all those instructions?)  They can reach speeds of 20 km per hour.  The Segway has taken off all over the world.  Tourists and locals alike can take part in guided  tours in Paris, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Budapest, Vienna and Berlin.  While we were travelling overseas we made do with city bus tours.  I’m sure Robin would much rather ride on one of these!

Here in New Zealand we like to keep up with new technology and  Segway tours are now available here too, in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland and Queenstown.  They are sure to be a hit with tourists.  Perhaps we will have to try them one of these days.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Enjoying the sun

While our friends in England are suffering from the disruptions of snow and ice making everyday life almost impossible, we enjoyed a lovely Summer’s day here in New Zealand today.  Out in the backyard the laundry was flapping in the warm breeze.  There is nothing nicer than washing dried in the fresh air and sunshine.  How fresh and clean it smells when gathered up and taken inside.  You know what I always say, “Happiness is clean laundry”.  Our New Zealand flag was also fluttering in the breeze.  We have a flagpole at the front of the house and Robin likes to fly his flag when we are home in the weekend.

DSCF2483 Our New Zealand flag was flying today

It was time to give the caravan’s exterior a good clean to get rid of all the road film, dirt and grunge that accumulates when on the road and over the winter when it does not dry out completely for long periods of time.  The caravan slots into a parking space in front of the house but to get around all the sides Robin had to pull it out so that the caravan straddled the footpath.  Then he climbed up on the step ladder to wash down the high sides.  He was very impressed with the results of using a product called 30seconds which removed the algae with a quick spray and a wash off.  Don’t know how many walkers and their dogs had their walk disrupted when they had to move onto the road in front of our house to get past.   Never mind, it was soon moved back into it’s proper position.

 

DSCF2475 All spick and span again

The weather was so nice we decided to have a barbeque in the evening.  Everyone knows blokes are the ones in charge of the BBQ and that is certainly true in our household.    Robin did a great job of cooking delicious pork sausages from our favourite out of town butcher, Charlie’s Snarler Parlour.  Also cooking were  honey and soy marinated chicken kebabs, and garlic prawn kebabs.  A meal fit for a King!  There is nothing more mouth watering than the smell of a backyard barbecue in the early evening air. 

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Cooking on the barbie tonight

The nice weather today certainly makes up for some of the bad weather we experienced over our Christmas/New Year break.  Sending our friends in UK, warm and fuzzy thoughts.  Stay warm, and stay safe.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It only lasts a week

We read an article recently that stated “the benefits of a holiday only last a week”.  Looks like our week ended yesterday!  We returned home on Sunday and had a busy and productive time unpacking the caravan.  We cleaned the fridge and the bathroom, vacuumed the carpet, and did a couple of loads of washing.  The awning was hung up in the the garage to ensure it dried completely before we packed it away.  We were like a couple of busy little bees,  buzzing around while we happily went about our chores.  Robin even got the motor mower out to cut the lawns.

Then it was back to work again, and it was like we had never been away.  My Team Leader has been studying the stats and has decided that we all need a shake up and must improve on our workloads.  Robin’s work is a buzz with rumours of change.  So yesterday, the benefits that we had derived from our holiday evaporated into thin air, and we both returned home mentally battered.  How long is it till we retire?  That’s much too far away.  Better start buying those Lotto tickets again.

We are pleased to announce that the other member of our family is still receiving the benefits of her holiday.  Ever since Muffy our cat returned home she has been completely relaxed as she been blissfully sleeping the hours away.  Mind you, on the the first day back she burrowed under the quilt so we couldn’t find her and take her away camping again.  Those fears are over now and she is back to her normal “sleep the day away” routine.

 DSCF2404 Completely relaxed on the bed

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Last days in camp

The weather wasn’t very kind to us over the Christmas/New Year break.  We certainly did have some nice sunny days, but then we had an equal number of wet and windy days.  The wind was so fierce that our gazebo was quickly dropped to stop it taking off into the sky.  We then re-erected it another day, but after another repeat performance in the wind, decided to leave it down for the duration of our stay.  It’s the families in tents who we really feel sorry for when the weather is bad.  There would be nothing more miserable than camping with children while the rain is pouring down and the ground is a sodden mess. 

DSCF2441 There were plenty of tents in camp

We spotted this giant American Adirondack caravan in the storage area and then several days later it was placed on site.  The two slide-outs would give the occupants a huge living area.  We don’t think that this monster gets towed along the road.  No doubt when their holiday is over, the slide-outs will be pushed back in, and the huge rig will be towed backed to the storage area to await the next on site holiday.  

 DSCF2448DSCF2447

Tall trees throughout the camp encourage a lot of birdlife.  Tuis sing all day from the highest trees, and blackbirds, starlings and song thrushes search the grass for grubs.  Hearing a strange call one afternoon we glanced out the window and saw this handsome Californian Quail sitting on a tree stump. 

 image PC260309

Tui and Californian Quail

The moist conditions caused these little toadstools to appear on another tree stump overnight.  Perhaps it’s a magic “fairy ring”? 

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Baby toadstools growing on a tree stump

We took the awning down before the rain set in and packed it away in the back of the 4WD.  It will need to be hung up it the garage when we return home to ensure it is completely dry.  Our Christmas break is almost over.  Never mind, there is always another trip to look forward to.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dining out by the Sea Side

Wonder if any restaurants are open for dinner on New Year’s Day?  Luckily one of our favourites down on the sea front at Raumati Beach was, so we made a booking and took ourselves off to dine at the Waterfront Brasserie Raumati.  Unfortunately the weather was much too cold and blustery to sit outside but we still enjoyed good sea views inside the restaurant from the windows.

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All that salty air gave us three of us a taste for fish for dinner.  My groper, also known as hapuka, was delicious and moist, served with  a lemon sauce.  Kathryn and Graeme chose beer battered fish, and Robin was the odd man out and went with steak and mushrooms.  No, we certainly didn’t need dessert, but did that stop us?  Of course not.  We managed to consume our crème Brule, apple crumble, and an ice cream sundae with no trouble at all.  It seems that none of us has yet made a New Year’s Resolution about watching our weight!

 

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The view from the restaurant window

 

The sea was grey, the day was windy, and Kapiti Island brooded in the background off the coast.  A few hardy souls were well wrapped up down on the beach walking their dogs.  We were however nice and comfortable in the cosy restaurant enjoying our meal in good company.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

New Year was lit by a full moon last night, casting it’s cold silvery glow down on us mortals below.  The strong winds kept the clouds scudding across the sky, whipping the branches of the tall trees back and forth. 

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Six of us sat up in  Don and Pamela’s awning to see the New Year in.   In the far reaches of the camp a lone guitarist hooked up with multiple amplifiers belted out songs for the private party taking place down at the Lodge.  He sounded pretty good to us, especially when he played my very special favourite song, “Ten Guitars”.  “Pop” went the cork from the bottle of bubbly and we drank each other’s health and wished good things for the coming year, wondering what 2010 would bring to us all.

P1010329 All lit up to guide us home after celebrating New Year

We wish all our friends and readers a Happy New Year, may you all be safe, happy and healthy.