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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Warm cat on a cold day.

Cats have a way of finding the warmest spot on a cold day, don’t they. And what could be warmer on a chilly day than a nice warm car bonnet. Rather like “under paw heating”, wouldn't you say?

DSCF3454 It’s nice and warm up here

Muffy wasn’t moving away from this warm spot for anyone. She was quite content to snuggle up, soak up the warmth, and think her pussy cat thoughts for quite some time. And then, she realized, it must be meal time so it’s time to go inside and hassle the kitchen staff!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Lovers Unite

It’s official – according to a recent news item The Hutt City Libraries have the highest use per capita of libraries in New Zealand. Lower Hutt leads with 21 issues per person per year, with our own Upper Hutt coming a close second, with 20 issues per person. This compares with a national average of only 12 issues. I visit our local library at least once a week, sometimes twice. So I am pleased that I am doing my bit for the statistics.

To keep up with demand from all the local book lovers, our library is getting bigger. Local building firm Peryer Construction have won the City Council contract for the $3m redevelopment of the Upper Hutt central library. The back garden had to go, so all the camellias were cut down and removed. Then all the old concrete was broken up and loaded on to tip truck, and the area levelled ready for the foundations.

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The concrete floor is now laid so things are progressing quite quickly. The whole job will take about six months to complete.

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Once the redevelopment is completed the floor space of the library will be increased by 30%. Imagine how many more books the library will then be able to offer the local book lovers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Welcome Home D & D

After a gruelling non stop flight, our friends Dot and Derek finally made it home from UK. Heathrow Airport was in lock down mode due to the volcanic ash problem over Europe, so they could not make their scheduled trip last week. They re-booked their Air New Zealand flight, and one week later, they finally stepped on to New Zealand soil.

DSCF3448 Here we are at last!!

After four years travelling around the canals of England in their narrow boat Gypsy Rover, they are back in New Zealand for a month to catch up with family and friends. A month isn’t that long when there are lots of people to see, places to go, things to arrange, so no doubt they will be on the go the whole time. They have included our next caravan club rally at Greytown in their plans, so the gang can all get together then. That will bring back memories for Dot and Derek, as they were avid caravanners before the narrow boat bug bit them.

DSCF3449 Derek, Dot, and sons Brent and Richard

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We will Remember – Anzac Day

An “Area of Remembrance” was unveiled at a civic ceremony in our city during the week. The centrepiece is “Now Granddad”, a bronze memorial in the centre of the lawn outside the council building. The statue was sculptured by Chris Elliott and Ross Wilson and depicts a grandfather proudly wearing his medals while attending an Anzac parade, accompanied by his young granddaughter clutching an Anzac Day poppy. Four pebbles picked up from the shore at Gallipoli by a veteran’s son some years ago have been added to the statue.

DSCF3371 “Now Granddad” sculpture

The memorial honours the courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity, all values important to those in the defence force and the New Zealand public. Two rolls of remembrance acknowledge those who lost their lives in the service of the city and through war. Plaques remembering the theatres of war are attached to the wall in front of the statue.

DSCF3373 Lest we forget

Red poppies from the Returned Servicemen’s Association have been on sale over the last few days and are proudly worn by New Zealanders with all monies raised used for welfare services to RSA members.

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In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We’ll Meet Again

The sound of popular wartime melodies from WW1 and WW2 filled the theatre last night when we joined the full house at Expressions Theatre. The Upper Hutt Musical Theatre performed their show “We’ll Meet Again” and it was just in time for the Anzac weekend. The cast of 30 sang and danced their way around the stage, with many of the audience joining in the songs.

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Saying goodbye, training camps, letters from home and life in the trenches all had their musical interludes. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in tears when the very poignant song “Coming Home on a Wing and a Prayer” was performed. There were lighter moments too, such as skits from the Camp Concerts. All the old favourite songs were sung, White Cliffs of Dover, Wish me Luck, This is the Army and Hanging out the Washing on the Siegfried Line.

The sound of tap shoes clicked and clacked across the stage – we don’t see this sort of dance very often these days. Later in the evening these same dancers performed a very energetic jitterbug. The cast appeared in military uniforms, including a rather motley Dad’s Army character, then changed into civvies, evening dress, dressed as nurses, factory girls, even the American Marines were there. The crowd just loved their dance routine performed to the music of St Louis Blues. Off came the caps, the gloves and ties, then one of them unbuttoned his shirt while he danced around. They must have had a lot of fun while they rehearses this routine. The local flavour was not forgotten, with Maori Battalion and We are the Boys from way Down Under getting very enthusiastic applause. These amateur performers put their hearts and souls into the show and the crowd just loved them for it.

For clip to see how the real Marines Drill watch this Clip.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Changing Seasons

There is a definite nip in the air in the mornings, and now that extra hour of Daylight Saving has stopped the evenings are certainly getting darker much earlier. We still have nice fine days but the changing season is making it’s presence felt. It looks like someone has been out and about painting the trees in Autumn colours, as there are some lovely shades of red, orange and yellow on display. This glorious specimen is growing in the public gardens surrounding the Council buildings.

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Our New Zealand native trees are all evergreen, so it is only the “exotics” from the Northern Hemisphere planted in public places and home gardens which lose their leaves here in Autumn, and our hillsides are always clothed in green.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Vintage Aviator

Tucked away in a corner of Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, is the Vintage Aviator, a collection of WW1 fighter planes. We had our own private tour for the nine of us, letting a bus load of people go ahead. Much better, we thought, than tagging along with all that lot! The Vintage Aviator collects, restores and reproduces aeroplanes from WW1 : their primary aim is to build WW1 aircraft, engines and propellers to the same exacting standards they were originally made over 90 years ago. They endeavour to maintain absolute authenticity with the original design, and make both airworthy and static aircraft for museum display and private collections. Their engineers look after and operate the WW1 aircraft owned by the 1914-18 Aviation Heritage Trust.

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It must have been a well kept war time secret, as most of us had never heard of a “pusher” aircraft. On display was a FE2, “Farman Experimental”, an aircraft made with the propeller at the back. For a short period, it was an effective fighter, for this was the age of the pusher. It was developed to counter the German Fokker Eindecker which had a new interrupter gear allowing a machine gun to fire through the propeller arc. As the British had not yet developed their own version of this, the simple solution was to put the engine and propeller at the rear, and the gun in the front.

DSCF3414 Pusher aircraft with guns in the front and the propeller at the back

The Bristol Fighter was so successful that after WW1 they were used extensively around the world until the 1930s. The aircraft in the collection was one of six recovered from a UK barn in 1970 where the fuselages were used as roof trusses. Thank goodness they were finally rescued. Our guide took us around the hanger, very knowledgably discussing each plane. He talked about the Sopworths, a couple of Fokkers, and a yellow Italian job. Other later aeroplanes also jostled for room, and several aeroplane engines were around the perimeter of the hanger.

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A fine set of flying clothes stood proudly to attention. The leather coat, hat and goggles would have given a little protection to the pilot in the open cockpit . We were told that some of the planes were run on castor oil, and the white silk scarves were used to wipe the oil off the pilot’s faces.

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Harry the mascot has his own quarters at the hanger. Harry is an Irish Red Terrier and during WW1 this breed was used to carry messages between the allied trenches. Harry is the Rabbit Control Manager and his job is to keep the runway clear of rabbits. He is doing an excellent job, but unfortunately, he has also dealt with someone’s hen which was wandering around.

DSCF3396 Harry the Irish Red Terrier

This is a very interesting “living museum”, filled with planes of a bygone era. It is well worth a visit for those with an interest in history, and the military. Be sure to check out the website of The Vintage Aviator as it shows some interesting flying footage.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast

It’s got to be a bit of a family ritual, with Robin doing the honours cooking bacon and eggs for our Sunday breakfast. There is nothing nicer than crispy bacon served with creamy scrambled eggs. He does a good job too.

DSCF3384 Robin cooking Sunday breakfast

However, we came across this statement in a magazine. “The next time you enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast, remember this………it’s a day’s work for the chicken, but a life commitment for the pig”. Food for thought, indeed. Doesn’t stop us enjoying our breakfast, though!

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All ready to enjoy

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What’s happening outside?

What’s happening outside? It sounded like a truck idling and the noise had been going on for ages. A big yellow truck was parked in the middle of the road. There were orange “witches hats” placed strategically around the truck and the work men had taken the top off the man-hole cover. Guess if I want to know what’s happening I’ll have to ask them. Snap, snap, I took a couple of pictures and walked around to the back of the truck.

DSCF3376 The big yellow truck outside making all that noise

A hose snaked down into the drain and the water gurgled away as the pump got to work. It always amazes me that workmen are so happy to stop and chat about what they are doing. After all, it’s not as if I am one of those glamorous film stars from “Desperate Housewives”, now! The foreman came over and explained what was happening. Seems that some of the drains were getting contaminated and blocked. They were checking them out, and if needed, would send the camera down the drain. The local Council was funding the work. “Is there much of this sort of problem in our suburb?”, I asked . “Oh yes”, he confirmed, “lots”. It just makes you wonder what sort of contaminant has been flushed down the drains, doesn’t it. They finished the job and drove away. Peace at last.

DSCF3377 The boss was happy to stop and come and talk

There’s that noise again. The guys were hard at work around the corner checking out yet another drain. Wonder if the boss is chatting to someone else?

Monday, April 12, 2010

We came back empty handed

Muffy went to stay at the cattery over Easter while we were travelling to Hastings and back. We were certainly looking forward to having her with us again, after all, it had been eleven days without her making demands on us. The cattery has set hours for drop off and collection so at the appointed time early on Saturday evening we drove the short distance to Mangaroa. As usual, several dogs barked when we arrived. The smell of wood smoke drifted in the air; the evenings are certainly cooling down enough now to need a fire. All the curtains were pulled closed to keep the warmth in, we noticed. We waited, and waited, and nothing happened. Perhaps we should knock on the door? The only trouble was, there were several notices on the house and the fence plainly stating “Beware of the Dog”. Knock, knock, knock, we rapped smartly on the door, setting off another round of loud barking. Nobody seemed to be home.

Robin decided to ring the cattery on his cell phone, there was no answer so he had to leave a message. What else we could do but head for home, going home empty handed, leaving Muffy behind. At least she was all safely locked up in the cattery.

Several hours later we received a very apologetic phone call from the cattery. There had been a misunderstanding on the date we were returning, and the people from the cattery had gone out visiting friends for a few hours. So Muffy got to stay an extra night and we collected her the following day. As usual, when we have been away for a while, she never lets us out of her sight. She likes to climb on our laps, and follows us around the house like a little puppy dog. Then at bedtime, she snuggles up as close as she can get. She obviously very pleased to be home again. And we are just as happy to have her home too.

DSCF3351 Muffy on the easy chair, waiting for a lap to settle down on.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

That’s life in the Country

It’s a busy life in the county, that’s for sure. Son-in-law Robert was still outside as the dusk deepened last night, working away on one of his fences.

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He had borrowed a tractor from Ross the Boss and was driving poles into the ground. First he had to man-handle the pole into position. “Stand there so I know where to back the tractor to”, he instructed me, in the gloom. As the tractor backed towards me I jumped out of the way, just in case he couldn’t see me in the fading light. He lined the pole driver up, then, bang, bang, bang, bang, the pole was hammered into the ground. “Easy, isn’t it”, he laughed. It certainly was.

DSCF3331 Robert driving poles in the ground

After a hearty country breakfast of bacon and eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and hash browns the next morning, we were ready to face the day. Robert and grand-daughter Megan prepared Millie the horse for a Hunt the following day. This involved clipping Millie’s coat so she didn’t get overheated while racing and jumping over fences. When Millie was finally clipped to the prescribed standard, she was returned to the paddock, kicked up her heels and cantered away.

DSCF3344 Robert and Megan clipping Millie’s coat

That’s one horse dealt with, but Megan still had two more that needed exercising. So she saddled up one, and leading a second one, trotted up the street with the two of them. That’s very clever, I couldn’t even handle one, let alone two!!

DSCF3347 Megan with two horses under control

It was time for us to say our goodbyes, hitch up the caravan and drive the last 190 kms home. It was rather sobering when we drove past two ambulances, a fire engine, and two police cars attending to a bad accident at Otaki. Hope the occupants weren’t too badly injured. We had a great 11 days away over Easter, what a shame it’s back to work again on Monday. Hurry up retirement, we say.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

The New Zealand Rugby Museum

Situated in Palmerston North, the New Zealand Rugby Museum tells the history of our national sport, and is full to overflowing with all sorts of rugby memorabilia, including a turnstile from Athletic Park, previously the home of Wellington rugby. Robin had long wanted to visit this museum, and as it was only a half hour drive from where were we staying, it was the ideal opportunity.

The rugby team relies on the goal kicker, who is an integral part of the game, and his mighty boot has saved many a game from defeat. On display was the kicking boot of that all time great, Don Clarke, as well as that of the hero of modern times, Dan Carter.

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Rugby boots from Don Clarke and Dan Carter

Colourful rugby jerseys line the walls. Displayed were those of the provincial teams, and those worn by international sides. Hats, badges, rugby balls and whistles, all sorts of items and some that we hadn’t even thought of had a home in the museum.

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On the 1925/26 tour of Great Britain, the New Zealand team took along a stuffed kiwi in a glass case to give to the first team to beat them. The All Blacks won game after game and the kiwi continued touring with them. The undefeated All Blacks returned home, bringing their kiwi back with them.

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The touring kiwi came home

It was interesting to see how the logo of the silver fern developed and changed over the years. This icon of New Zealand is proudly displayed on the All Blacks uniforms.

DSCF3295 The Silver Fern

Sets of gold coins were issued and collected by enthusiasts. This set was produced by the Birmingham Mint to commemorate the All Blacks who filled each rugby position with the greatest distinction over a 50 year period, from 1921 to 1971.

P4090767 Gold coin set of famous players

As a rugby player in his youth, and a keen supporter of our national game, Robin certainly enjoyed his visit to the museum, reminiscing about the great players, the overseas tours, the wins and even the losses. He enjoyed watching re-runs of some of those famous games. Rugby is certainly part of the psyche of New Zealand.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Down on the Farm in Kiwitea

Still heading homewards after our Easter trip, we are now in Kiwitea, a tiny little rural village in the Manawatu. We are parked up at the farm of our daughter and family. The family own 12 horses, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 chicken and a few assorted sheep. Being horse lovers, they are keen on hunts and horse shows.

Henny Penny the chicken keeps herself busy scratching around in the dirt and sleeping amongst the hay bales. Every day she lays another fresh egg, and squawks and cackles to show the family just how clever she is. Hold her, Nana, I was instructed. Don’t think Henny Penny was too impressed posing for a photo though.

DSCF3281Jenny with Henny Penny

Babe the Border Collie is getting on in years now but still likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings up and down the road, barking when she thinks a car is coming onto the property. She now has a nice warm jacket to keep her old bones a little warmer in the cold Manawatu winds.

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DSCF3278 Emma with Babe, sporting her new jacket

The other dogs in the family are Tui and Jack. Tui is under lock and key at the moment as she is in season, and Jack keeps faithfully glued to her side. After all, he reasons, someone may just forget to lock her up and then………….

P4080755 Tui with Jack standing guard

Emma saddled up her favourite horse Banana Tim and I was instructed to get ready for some action shots. That was not really easy to do at all. Most of the time I either pressed the button before she reached the jump, or after she had gone over it. This photo turned out the best, after Emma and Banana Tim had jumped over, and back, and over again.

DSCF3286 Emma jumping on Banana Tim

Ormandville Railway Station

What’s a small village to do with an unused railway station? The answer was to turn it in to unique boutique holiday accommodation, of course! The station looked interesting while we were out driving in the rural countryside around Dannevirke so we stopped to take a look.

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Full kitchen and shower facilities are on offer, and the rooms are furnished with railway artefacts and memorabilia. The local pub is just across the road if the guests don’t feel like slaving over the kitchen stove after a hard day’s sightseeing.

P4070744 Ormondville Station

The vintage carriages on show in front of the adjacent goods shed give an nice authentic touch. Good on Ormondville for coming up with an interesting solution to the previously underutilised railway station. As well as adding a bit more local colour, it also brings a few more tourist dollars into the area.

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In splendid isolation

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Dannevirke was our next stop after leaving Hastings, and we are camped here in splendid isolation. Well, that was until tourists in a camper van arrived quite late, then it took off again bright and early the next morning to get on with their holiday. So once again we were on our own, with just the chickens and guinea fowl for company.

P4070742 All alone in the Motor Camp

Dannevirke, and nearby Norsewood, were settled by Scandinavians. Two ships arrived in 1872, bringing Government sponsored families from Norway and Denmark to help develop the rugged southern Hawkes Bay. The Dannevirke Gallery of History tells the story of these early days and we spent an interesting morning there. The settlers had to wrestle a living out of land covered with dense native forest and it was a long hard slog, with many giving up the struggle.

DSCF3261Settlers clearing the bush of huge trees

We saw several cabinets holding endangered birds, the kiwi and kakapo. Of course, when these specimens were taken, the birds were quite plentiful. Also displayed was a pair of the now extinct huia birds. These beautiful birds were much prized for their plumage which was used by the Maori people in their hair and woven into cloaks.

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The Dannevirke Gallery of History is a small museum housed in the former Court House and is well worth a visit if anyone is travelling through Dannevirke.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Time of our Lives

The Easter Rally drew to a close on Easter Monday with the Closing Ceremony in the marquee. We were on the go from morning till late at night with all sorts of things taking place throughout the Show Grounds during the day, and first class entertainment every evening. There were 879 campers and caravans on site, 83 from the Wellington area. 211 pets attended the rally with their owners. The very prominent “First Response Team” did a wonderful job. All campers, they volunteered their expertise throughout the long weekend. There was a Fire Engine on site, and nursing staff to assist with medical mishaps. The nurse made a point of contacting all those in the “Special Needs” areas to ascertain each patient’s medical condition in case it worsened during the weekend. The “First Response Team” attended over 60 incidents during the weekend. What a great bunch of people.

One couple must have travelled over rough roads to get to the rally as they arrived minus a window. It was patched up for the weekend with cardboard and a sign proclaiming “It wasn’t my fault!” That certainly got a few laughs from people walking by.

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Then there was the couple whose motor home sprung a leak and was awash with water. The carpets were pulled up and hung over the fence to dry. Then the couple used up all their towels trying to mop up the water. Their old fashioned mangle was doing a great job of wringing out the towels as I wandered past. “He won’t want his photo taken”, the wife told me. Ooops, too late, it’s done.

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Mopping up after a burst pipe

Tucked away under the grand stand were the trade displays, including “Massagical”, which helps poor achy feet and legs. Robin’s foot was still very painful so he decided that a $2.00 investment for half an hour’s treatment shouldn’t be missed. First he was set up in a machine that manipulated his feet very firmly for 10 minutes, rather like a heavy duty massage, supposedly equivalent to an half hour massage with a Physio. The second machine sent electrical impulses through the feet and up the legs. He came out feeling pain free and much refreshed, but felt he couldn’t really justify the amount of dollars required to purchase one of these machines. But he felt they worked very well giving short term relief, and at only $2.00 to try them, it was certainly a bargain. The long term relief is not completely pain free but is certainly much improved.

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P4040717 Robin trying out the “Massagical” foot massage machines

The Easter Rally is now over and the 879 motor homes and caravans have all left for home, or to continue with their travels. This was the first large NZMCA rally of this size that we had attended. The organisation was superb, the facilities were great, and the entertainment was first rate. This rally was promoted as “Have the Time of your Lives”. Did we have “The Time of our Lives”? Yes, indeed we did.