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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A modest little rainbow

There has been such a lot of rain recently, and in between showers a rainbow appeared. It was nice and bright when first spotted, but by the time I raced inside to get the camera, it was starting to fade to a very modest little rainbow indeed. A few snaps later, and it was almost gone.

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According to Wikipedia - A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the sun shines onto droplets of moisture in the atmosphere. They take the form of a multicoloured arc, made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet bands. Whatever the explanation, it is a lovely thing to see. And yes, it’s still raining!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Up a Ladder

It is no secret that Robin is not terribly happy climbing ladders – he seems to have a morbid fear of falling off! Yesterday he climbed up not one but two ladders. Our friend Kathryn was having trouble with her Free View television connection and Robin offered to try and fix it for her. He checked the back of the television set to make sure that the wiring was connected. Yes, that seems fine. The wiring came down through the ceiling, so that would be the next place to look at. The ceiling is accessed by one of those pull down ladders. Up the ladder he climbed, pulled himself into the ceiling cavity and had a good look around. The wiring seemed fine here too.

DSCF4120 Here he goes, up into the ceiling

The next step was to check that the satellite dish on the roof was set up to the correct angle. So Robin climber up another ladder and tried moving the dish a fraction one way, then a little bit the other way. We had to watch the television and tell him when the lines were at the correct place. It didn’t seem to matter whatever adjustments he made, it just wasn’t going to work.

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Finally he had to admit defeat. All that time balancing on ladders and he couldn’t fix the problem, but at least he tried his best. The suggestion is that Kathryn contact the Free View installer to come and check it out for her.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daffodil Day

It’s Daffodil Day today and volunteers were out and about selling daffodils to raise money for the Cancer Society. The “Kindy Kids” at the crèche adjacent to my workplace always get involved too. The little ones come around the offices armed with baskets of flowers and money buckets. I saw the supervised group in the staff cafeteria, collected my flower and happily put my gold coin donation in the the bucket.DSCF4113

The group wandered around the building and came to my area a short time later. They surrounded my desk, some of them offering flowers from their baskets, and the others standing there with outstretched hands waiting for money. “This lady has already bought one”, the crèche worker said. Thank goodness she saved me, it was like being mugged by little people.

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Robin also came across some volunteers selling daffodils when he and his truck were in Khandallah today. He gladly put some cash in the bucket and mentioned that his wife had been “through the mill” several years ago. “Take another flower home to your wife”, he was told. To anyone out there touched by cancer, best wishes for your treatment, we know how hard it is to go through.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Out Houses

There wasn’t much rambling going on over the weekend as we were staying close to home while I was recuperating from my dental experience. So we thought we would share some more photos from our last visit to Te Papa Museum, in Wellington. These are decorated “out houses”, also known as “portaloos” here in New Zealand. This imitation timber one would look right at home in a rural setting.

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“Maurice” is just right for the kids, don’t you think? It is covered in red plush fabric, with bulging eyes and pointy teeth. But then, maybe they would be too scared to open the door and get past that scary face.

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Guess which one was my favourite? Here’s me, sitting under the drapes on the golden throne with a royal sceptre in my hand. I hasten to add that I was encouraged to sit there by the promoters and have my photo taken.

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The display was a fund raiser for bowel related health issues. As well as raising awareness of these problems, the display certainly gained a few laughs too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

He’s just Blogged

blogged

He’s just blogged, and she’s still doing the washing!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Teeth and all That!

We have had an eventful few days. Poor Jenny has had an ongoing problem with her teeth, in that it has been one abscess after another, loose teeth, gum problems and any number of problems of this sort. The situation was just ongoing and could not be sustained on a retirement income. Jenny took the decision some months ago to deal to the problem once and for all.

On Thursday was the day that the full jaw extraction took place and the new false teeth fitted. The new teeth are fitted immediately after the teeth are extracted, this somewhat surprised us as we thought that the gums would have to heal first, not now it’s all in one go. The extractions were done under sedation and Jenny does not remember to much about the procedure but as can be imagined there was a lot of bleeding from the mouth.

It is now Saturday and there has been a remarkable improvement, the bleeding has all but stopped, and we have been back to the Dentist on Friday for a check-up to make sure there is no infection and Jenny can take out and put back the new teeth. As Jenny has had a top plate since she was a young girl there was of course no problems.

P8210964Jenny resting and being comforted by Muffy

Jenny has done little too much today with two loads of laundry and changing the bed, so is now having a rest. It’s hard to convince some people that having had aesthetic it takes a while for the body to recover. However she is well on the mend now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eating Korean

Eating Korean food was a new taste sensation for our group, when we went to the Han River Korean Restaurant. We had all tried Chinese of course, but Korean cooking was new to most of us. The owners graciously welcomed us into their restaurant. Luckily the menus had pictures as well as descriptions of each dish on offer, which made choosing a little easier. It was to be a special night, as Trish’s Korean house guest Kiko was helping out in the kitchen with the cooking.

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What to choose is always a trial for me, and even more so since everything was completely new. Robin and I decided to each order a different starter, so that we could have a taste of each others. After much debating we decided on the belly pork. This was a main for two, and was delivered to the table on a little hot plate, rather like a small BBQ.

DSCF4086 Belly pork and vegetables waiting to be cooked at the table

The owner then came and lit the stove, and told us that he would be cooking the meal for us. As the pork and vegetables sizzled away, he would come by and turn them over. When the first lot of pork was cooked, we were invited to start eating, while he cooked another batch. The pork was delicious, and tasted rather like smoky bacon. We loved the taste of little side dish of chilli paste that was served with the pork, and felt rather special as all the other meals were delivered to the table.

DSCF4088 How is this for service?

I ordered Korean sweet biscuits for dessert, while Robin stuck with his tried and true choice of ice-cream, he couldn’t go wrong with that, he reasoned. To finish I tried a cup of ginger tea – this was just delicious and something I would try again. We had a lovely night, good company, excellent service, and the food was tasty and interesting, we would certainly recommend this Korean restaurant for those who want to try something a little different.

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As we said our goodbyes to our friends on the footpath outside the Han River Restaurant, we happened to glance into a German restaurant right next door. There we saw a large table of Asian people tucking into their German meal. It just goes to show that whatever their ethnicity, people are happy to sample the food of other cultures.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Petone Winter Carnival

We stopped off at Petone Beach on Saturday afternoon with our SLG friends to check out the Petone Winter Festival. Beach side parking was at a premium, so we left our vehicles several blocks away and walked down to join the crowds. There was all sorts of entertainment, with jugglers on stage doing their thing as we wandered past. Other street theatre was happening all the way along the esplanade. We stopped to look at the ice sculpturing – not an easy medium to work with, by the look of it. Using chisels and a saw, the tail of a whale was taking shape before our eyes. Hope the ice didn’t melt before he was finished.

P8140953 Ice sculpture demonstration

The ever popular bouncy castle was a draw card, and further along we watched as youngsters climbed aboard a dragon ride. Up and down the dragon went as he moved along the track, with the kids shrieking their heads off all the way. What fun those youngsters were having.

P8140954 The Dragon Ride

Down on the sand there were many wooden sculptures to admire. These have been created especially as “fire sculptures”, to be set alight in the evening and burn safely on the sand against the night sky, followed by a firework display. There were free pony rides along the beach for children, and a Polar Plunge for the brave or foolhardy who wish to immerse themselves in the chilly mid winter waters. And for those youngsters who dream of running away to a circus, they could try out their skills at a number of circus activities, from juggling, balancing, hula hoop to Chinese pole and flying trapeze. Something a lot less energetic was the Zippity Zoo Petting Zoo.

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Here the children could get up close and personal to sheep, goats, lambs, guinea pigs and rabbits. This was for kids only. What about the grown-ups, I wondered, they might want to pet the animals too!

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There was certainly plenty to see, and lots of free entertainment for families. Robin spotted a sausage sizzle and managed to get one of the last sausages on offer, so he was certainly a happy chappie. We slowly made our way through the crowds of people, the pushchairs, negotiated our way past dogs on leads, to return to our cars. It was time to head off to Trish’s home for afternoon tea, we certainly needed a sit down after dealing with all those people!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Carlucci Land

A visit to Carlucci Land with our SLG friends was an hour or so of mini golf with a difference. Set on a property in Happy Valley Road, Wellington, the mini golf course meanders up and down a hillside which is dotted with sculptures made with recycled materials. Our group was split into three teams, with no couples allowed in the same team. The course was certainly quite different, with strange objects placed strategically to ensure that each hole had a reasonable degree of difficulty. Out of our eleven players, four of us managed a “hole in one”. It was certainly good luck and not skill as far as my playing was concerned.

DSCF4071 The “hole in one” experts

Carlucci Land is the dream of Carl Gifford. He came to chat with us after our golf game and explained the origin and history of some of the huge old rocks which are carefully placed about the grounds. He is passionate about rocks, recycling, and making steel sculptures, which are everywhere. He told us that the green steel sculpture in the background started life as a steam powered sewage pump at the Pass of Branda.

DSCF4067 Carl Gifford loves rocks

A large water feature trickles down the hill side over huge boulders with steel sculptures dotted here and there and plants placed in nooks and crannies. Tiny steel kiwis, huge steel spiders, and intricate hollow balls are carefully placed amongst the rocks all around the property.

DSCF4068 Water feature

Oh, dear, what has happened here? This is another piece of art which Carl designed. He told us that he came across this massive boulder on the side of the road and did a deal with the workmen involved. Once he had bought it, he then had to transport it back home. Wonder what came first, the boulder or the old car?

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As an Elvis fan, I was delighted to find this car plate to pose beside, maybe one day I will make it to Gracelands. Carl told us that he purchased a box full of assorted car number plates some time ago and this one was part of the group.

DSCF4070 I love Elvis

Carlucci Land is certainly quite a different kind mini golf course. There is plenty of added interest with the many sculptures of recycled materials everywhere, and old bits and pieces from yesteryear. Take the time to have a good look around when you visit, you won’t be disappointed. A cafe is planned in the future.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Love the big Orange Buses

No work for me for the last few days, so I enjoyed a day out in the big city. I just love travelling on the Airport Flyer, those big orange buses which go all the way from our home town, through the suburbs, then the CBD, and on to Wellington Airport. It is an express service and they make minimal stops along the way. The bus fleet has been updated and have TVs on board showing news and weather updates, and flight arrivals and departures. They also show a map which keeps track of where the bus is at any given time. There is also free WIFI available on board.

DSCF4033 Where are we now?

With a day off work I had plenty of spare time so decided to stay on board right into the airport, and stop there for a cup of coffee. In a former life, Robin used to drive these big orange buses every day. When the airport run was introduced, the drivers were hand picked from the staff, and it was a much sought after position. The management were looking for staff who were particularly well presented, and could converse well with overseas passengers and businessmen alike.

DSCF4035 The Airport Flyer

I enjoyed my coffee and watched the planes coming and going. Think I’m a bit of a frustrated traveller as I really love the hustle and bustle of the airport. Then I took another bus back into the city, as I had really come to town to purchase a gift for my son’s birthday, and visit a quilt exhibition which just happened to coincide with my time off work. I did all this travelling on a $12 day pass, which is excellent value for all those miles.

DSCF4037 Planes at the airport

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our piece of Kiwi Paradise

Yesterday was a really nasty day, with cold bitter winds and rain, goodness knows what the wind chill factor would have been. This morning we awoke to quite a different story altogether, it was a beautiful day in our piece of paradise today. The eastern hills were covered in a light sprinkling of snow, which glistened in the early morning sunshine.

DSCF4026 Snow capped hills on this side of the valley

While on the western side of the valley, the hills were wreathed in mist. We are proud to be Kiwis, and what a beautiful country we live in.

DSCF4028 Mist covered hills on the other side of the valley

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wet Weekend at Carterton

We had a good turnout for our AGM Rally at Carterton. The Wairarapa Caravan Club was also staying at the camp for the weekend, and it was nice to catch up with them all again. The weather was not the best, lots of rain, so there was no sitting outside in the sunshine. Luckily this camp has a very generous sized dining and recreation room which accommodated both caravan clubs together for our joint morning teas. The AGM was soon over, and the current committee members were voted in again, so that was business taken care of for another year. On Saturday evening we pooled cars and travelled down to Greytown to dine at the the South Wairarapa Workingmen’s Club. The dining room staff did very well and delivered all our meals at the same time. Don’t quite know what they get up to in the kitchen, but I saw this sign on their door.

DSCF4021 Sign on kitchen door

The walls of the Workingmen’s Club were lined with wonderful old photos showing the history of this small town. Bullock teams, important looking men in their best suits, and town buildings gave a wonderful glimpse of the early years.

DSCF4019 Photo on the walls of a bygone era

Wouldn’t you know it, but the sun finally came out on Sunday, which is usually the case with our weekends away. All that rain had made the sites rather boggy and one of the Wairarapa group had trouble moving his motor home off the grass. The men gathered around to add some muscle and try to push, but to no avail. No problem – Robin came to the rescue with our 4 wheel drive vehicle and a strop and soon pulled that motor home clear. There were plenty of onlookers giving helpful advice too.

DSCF4024 Here it comes, free at last

A bit of rain didn’t make any difference to the workmen who were extending the road to loop around the end of the camp. We were asked to tow our caravan over the new extension when we departed the camp, to ascertain whether there was enough clearance on the corners. All in all, we enjoyed another great caravan rally at one of our favourite motor camps.

DSCF4022 New road at the back of the camp

Don’t ask about our new heater it has a fault and has to go back to the installer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Diesel Heater for the Caravan

Robin purchased a diesel heater for the caravan a couple of months ago which has been sitting idle in the garage all this time. It was finally installed last week by a local tradesman, Wellington Motorhomes. It didn’t take very long at all, just a couple of days. Our neighbours must have thought we had gone travelling, as the caravan wasn’t in its usual place out the front of the property. But then, our lights were on in the evening, and the cars were coming and going. But then again, maybe they had better things to do and didn’t even notice. The Wellington Motorhomes did a very good job, and Robin was really pleased when he went to collect the caravan. The intake vent is on the right, and the warm air blows out in the middle of the seating arrangement. This way, it should flow right down to the back of the caravan.

DSCF3925 Outflow and intake vents

The business part of the heater was fitted neatly under the right hand squab. It is quite a small unit about the size of a shoe box. All combustion air and exhaust is piped outside the van so there is no fumes inside. Only internal room air is heated and recirculated.

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A diesel heater needs fuel so a discussion was held to where best site and what size of fuel tank was required. 10 Litres was selected. It was decided that the best place would be under the hood at the front of the caravan and the fuel is piped to the heating unit. A bulkhead opening was inserted into the hood to make it easier for filling the tank.

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Nose Cone showing fuel tank location

DSCF3933Control Panel, shows ambient temp and set temperature

The test runs worked quite well, but of course the real test will be at our next weekend rally. We will be leaving the electric heater behind at home and hopefully it will be warm and toasty with our new Eberspacher D2. No doubt a full report will follow after our weekend away.

DSCF3935 Muffy giving the newly installed heater her seal of approval

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A busy old day, then off to Molly’s

We certainly enjoyed quite a bit of culture at Te Papa Museum on Saturday, what with the Greenstone and then the Tapa Cloth Exhibitions. We were more than ready for a nice sit down over lunch, so we walked up the road to Molly Malone’s. But….. on the way there was just one more sight to see. It was a real surprise as not one in our group of friends knew it was there. We called in to see the recently excavated remains of Te Aro Pa in Taranaki Street, Wellington.

P7310943 Excavations under glass

Te Aro Pa was established in the 1820s and was one of the largest in the Wellington area, with up to 200 people living there by the 1850s. With seafood from the harbour, an adjacent wetland area to the east providing flax, birds, fish and eels, and cultivation areas for crops, it as well situated. Te Aro Pa was ideally positioned to benefit from the trade flowing from the rapidly expanding Wellington township. However through a succession of agreements and Crown Legislation favouring the acquisition of land for settlers, the community at Te Aro Pa began to decline as their land was steadily reduced in size. The site and surroundings of Te Aro Pa were also greatly affected by the magnitude 8.1 earthquake of 1855, which uplifted the entire Wellington region, and the swamp area surrounding Waitangi Stream was destroyed. The loss of this vital resource was also a key factor in the decline of the pa.

DSCF3995 Painting of a Maori Pa (village) of the time

Wellington City Council, Wellington Maori, developers and the Historic Places Trust got together to preserve the intact remains of this historic pa site in central Wellington. This involved redesigning the building to be constructed on the site, following months of investigations by engineers and archaeologists and discussions between the parties involved. Three ponga (tree fern) structures were unearthed during development work for an apartment complex, and is considered to be unique since excavations rarely uncover intact Maori structures.

Our next port-of-call was to the Irish pub, Molly Malone’s for lunch. We really needed to rest our poor tired feet. Now, I never drink beer, but felt I really should have a taste of rich dark Guinness to celebrate being in an Irish Bar. Just a half, mind you, that will be more than enough for me, and I’m certainly not driving home.

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The fire was burning merrily in the hearth of the upstairs dining room, and other than two patrons in the corner, we had the place to ourselves. As usual, we pondered long and hard over the menu. What to chose? There were bangers and mash to tempt us, or beef stew laced with Guinness. Or what about a steak sandwich, seafood chowder, or perhaps the pasta dish? We finally made our choices and everyone seemed very happy with their meals.

P7310945 Waiting for our lunch at Molly Malone’s

Robin had an important function to perform as this was the day of our group’s Annual Draw. He put names of the months for the next year in his new hat, and passed it around the table, with everyone choosing a slip of paper. Whatever month was pulled out, that was to be the month for each of us to organise the day’s outing for our SLG members. (Today was Robin’s outing). We never get bored as we will have another year of all getting together once a month. Who knows where we will end up each month? That is all part of the fun of a group like this. We are lucky to have such good friends who are ready to try whatever is organised for them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Paperskin – the art of tapa cloth

When we visited Te Papa Museum several weeks ago, we were very interested to see a demonstration on making tapa cloth. This return visit was to view the exhibition “Paperskin”. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside the exhibition, and were only permitted to take this one of the entrance. All other photos are courtesy of Te Papa’s website.

P7310937 This way to the exhibition

Taking pride of place was the magnificent 23 metre long ngatu launima which has royal connections. The imagery includes royal crowns, geometric patterns, and floral motifs. Made in 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Tonga, we noticed that the name Elizabeth is painted inside each of the crowns. It was later placed under Queen Salote’s coffin when her body was flown back from New Zealand in 1965. The tapa was given to Flight Lieutenant McAllister, who piloted the plane which took Queen Salote’s body back to Tonga, and he in turn presented it to the Museum in 1968. This huge piece of tapa cloth dominated the exhibition room with it’s sheer size, and this photo does not do it justice.

View larger image

Examples of tapa cloth from Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were hung, and the designs were clearly different amongst the island communities. Bark from the paper mulberry tree, the banyan and breadfruit trees is all used by the different islanders to make tapa cloth.

image Tapa cloth from American Samoa

There was a large selection of ceremonial masks on display, some being very tall at 4 metres high, which are worn by women. The smaller men’s masks are usually destroyed after the ceremony. Made with a wicker frame, they are covered with tapa cloth. An unusual double headed crocodile was made to be carried during dancing rituals.

image Mask in likeness of fruit bat

Some of the tapa cloth was extremely old. There was a fragment of Hawaiian cloth that was reputed to have been collected during Captain James Cook’s voyage in the 1770s. We are well aware that this craft is extremely time consuming and it was interesting seeing so many examples produced by the different South Sea Islands over such a long time frame. If you are visiting Wellington we can certainly recommend a visit to “Paperskin”.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Treasured Stone of Aotearoa

We took a trip to Wellington on Sunday, but first we had to defrost the car windows. That’s what happens when you leave the car out of the garage overnight and wake up to a heavy frost. Robin was busy with the scraper getting the ice off the windows.

DSCF3958 Ice on the windscreen

We were off to Te Papa Museum to view the current Greenstone Exhibition. This stone is known as Pounamu “The treasured stone of Aotearoa”. Greenstone is a stone of exceptional mana (prestige) beauty and strength and the exhibition featured 200 plus pieces. It is found in the South Island rivers and to the untutored eye looks just like a river boulder in its natural state.

DSCF3981 Large piece of greenstone

Maori artisans fashioned pounamu into personal ornaments such as hei tiki (neck pendants), ear pendants, mere (greenstone weapons), and adzes. According to the Ngati Waewae people of the South Island’s West Coast, pounamu was once a beautiful woman called Waitaiki, from the Bay of Plenty. Poutini, a son of Tangaroa (the god of the sea), fell in love with Waitaiki and abducted her from her husband, Tama-ahua. The couple were chased by Tama-ahua to the Arahura River on the West Coast of the South Island. To prevent Waitaiki being taken back, Poutini transformed her into greenstone. Poutini is acknowledged as the spiritual guardian of pounamu. The mere are a symbol of status and authority and there were several fine examples on display.

DSCF3985 Three mere (greenstone clubs)

The tiki is a treasured neck pendant and it has been suggested that this ornament is a fertility charm representing the human embryo, and that it should be worn only by women. However, early European visitors saw men wearing the hei-tiki and it is probable that the squat shape of the figure was influenced by the hardness of the material and that it was later likened to an embryo and endowed with magical powers. We saw many examples of early tiki on display.

DSCF3982 Tiki of various sizes on display

In ancient times the extremely hard greenstone was worked by abrasion, with water, sand, and sandstone and a small tiki would require a huge number of hours of labour. Saws were a thin stone assisted by wet abrasive sand. Files were made from a variety of material including sharkskin for rough polishing. For cutting, the Maori used dog's teeth and other skins were used for the final polishing. These days the artisans can use power tools which speed up the process considerably.

P7310941 Close up of a tiki

This was a very interesting exhibition and some of the pieces on display are very old. Traditionally Maori jewellery are taonga (treasure) and the belief is that they should only be given as gifts and they are not to be bought for ones self.