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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pet Peeves

Robin hates working in the rain. And today it has been raining heavily non-stop all day. His truck leaks so he has to re-organize his stock to keep it away from the water that is sucked in the backdoor or wall. It must be a nightmare trying to keep the stock from getting damaged. He climbs in and out of the truck all day, taking orders from the customers, then back to the very wet truck to pack the required items, then out in the rain once again to deliver the said order.

If there is one thing he hates more than the rain, it is price rises. GST is going up in New Zealand from 12.5% to 15%. The shop keepers all want to buy extra stock before the price goes up, to put on their shelves. All these extra sales means that Robin sometimes runs short of stock, and then the shop keepers get upset. ‘

Robin experienced both of his pet peeves this week. A rainy week coincided with an impending price rise, so he has had a “double whammy” all week, together with longer hours as he needed to order and supply more stock than usual. He has been getting home late all week, cold, wet and weary. It’s a hard life being a truck driver sometimes. But, as he mentioned last night, this is the last price rise he will have to go through. By the time the next one is due, he will be long gone. He is counting down now, and can hardly wait to retire!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

That’s got to be Good!

It was that time again, time for my regular oncology check-up at the hospital. A whole day off work is what I organised, allowing plenty of time to get to my morning appointment without rushing around, and the afternoon to enjoy a nice coffee at my favourite cafe on the way back home. It’s always a bit of a worry when appointment time rolls around again. You just can’t help thinking, “what if……” Once again, the news was good. Everything was clear and my cuddly teddy bear of a specialist (yes, he really does look like one) told me that he didn’t need to see me for a whole year. So……. that’s got to be good news, wouldn’t you say? My next appointment is not till 12 months time. By then it will be 5 years since I had my diagnosis and treatment. All being well, at my next appointment I will then be “cleared”, as they say, and the oncology department will not require me to keep coming back for tests. When that happens, I think I will need to plan a big celebration!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Villains in the Night

C“Come and have a look at this”, Robin called out the other morning as we were hurrying to leave for work. Wondering what he wanted, I walked down the drive. There was our caravan, now straddling the footpath by several feet. It had been pulled out of position during the night. Luckily the caravan is fitted with a wheel clamp. We could see where this had dug into the concrete pad as the caravan had been dragged along.

DSCF4249 The caravan should be right up against the wall

We checked to see if the door had been forced open, or any of the windows broken. No, thank goodness. But the power cord fitting on the caravan had been damaged as the cord was stretched to its limit. What sort of cowardly people are these who sneak about at night causing damage to property?!

DSCF4250 The power connection is damaged

Robin hooked up the caravan and pushed it back into place. That was all we could do at the time. During the day he rang the police and reported the incident. Who knows, the vandals may have stolen several caravans in our area during the night. We also needed to report this in case we had to make an insurance claim. The worrying thing is that the caravan is parked right in front of our bedroom and we never heard a thing. Were the vandals trying to steal our pride and joy, or just out to cause a bit of mischief? Guess we’ll never know. But to make it even harder for these would-be thieves, Robin has now fitted an extra security device. It is a special clamp that locks the tow ball down so that the caravan cannot be hooked up to a vehicle and towed away.

DSCF4252 Guardian coupling lock fitted

The electrician called around today and replaced the damaged electrical fitting. So everything is all safe and legal for our next trip away. We will need a weekend break after all this stress and trauma, won’t we?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Paekakariki Railway Museum

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There is a very interesting little museum in Paekakariki tucked away in the railway station. We wandered up there with the caravan club members in the weekend to check things out. Paekakariki is a working station, on the main trunk line. As we were looking through the artefacts on display, one train after another rumbled past, making the old wooden building shake. A trolley full of suitcases and trunks from a bygone era were piled high. Surely they hadn’t all been left behind by their owners?

DSCF4214 Old suitcases piled high

There were all sorts of interesting items on show, including this bright red jigger and other railway equipment. There are lots of photos of early times and of the trains which were in service at the time.

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The Wellington to Auckland trains pulled into Paekakariki Station and everyone rushed into the cafeteria. Pies, ham sandwiches, fruit cake and tea and coffee were served on the thick white crockery which was synonymous with the railway dining rooms all over the country. Each refreshment room had their own colour banded and numbered NZR crockery, Paekakariki was number 2. Travellers just had time to collect their food and hot drinks before clambering back aboard the train to continue on their journey.

DSCF4217 Time for a cuppa

Displayed alongside the Railway memorabilia, are many items relating to the time when Paekakariki hosted the American Marines. During WW11. The threat of Japanese invasion was great and many of our armed forces were engaged in battle in Europe and North Africa, so people feared the worst. President Roosevelt promised Winston Churchill that the United States would protect allied countries. Camps were set up for forces to use as bases for recuperation, training and preparation before embarking for battle.

DSCF4218 American Marines memorabilia

In April 1942 the Public Works Department were given six weeks to build and set up camps to house 1st and 2nd Divisions of the United States Marines. Prefabricated buildings were shipped up from the South Island, and all available plant, machinery and tradesmen were pressed into service. Temporary buildings were set up on private land at Paekakariki to house services such as cleaning and pressing, milk bars and a bake house. Large sheds were erected at Paekakariki Railway Station to store supplies and a brig (jail) was built at Mackays Crossing. By the time the Americans arrived, roading, streets, paths, water supply, electric power, vehicle parks and a sewage plant were completed. The Marines were put through their paces with intensive artillery training, marches and exercises in the surrounding countryside. Some of them were at the camps for barely a month before heading off to battle again. The park’s sandy beach and rural surrounds close to Wellington were an ideal training ground for the troops preparing to fight in the Pacific. Three camps were built, Camp Russell, Camp Paekakariki and Camp MacKay. Together they housed 30,000 Marines from June 1942 to November 1943.

DSCF4219 Flag on display

We finished our afternoon with a coffee and a hot scone at Finns Cafe, situated in the rebuilt Paekakariki Hotel. There is a slight family connection to these licensed premises, as my Dad worked here for a while over 50 years ago.

DSCF4224 Enjoying our afternoon tea

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Working with Wood

sThere is something about the smell of freshly worked wood, isn’t there? We attended the WoodCraft Fair on Sunday with our SLG friends and joined the throngs of people at the Horticultural Hall. Everyone was very interested in the old pole lathe being demonstrated. Wood shavings fell to the floor as he worked away. This is how wood was turned for centuries, before the advent of motors and power tools. It obviously takes a huge amount of skill to make a set of chair legs all looking exactly the same.

DSCF4241 Working the pole lathe

Craftsmen had stalls set up around the hall with all sorts of items on sale to tempt the visitors. One woodworker was selling off his unwanted tools. He must have been a bit of a collector as he had lots of vintage tools on offer too. There’s plenty more of these at home, he told us.

DSCF4238 A box of old wood working bits and pieces for sale

Robin was on the lookout for a nice timber wall clock for the caravan. He spotted one he quite liked early on, then checked out the other stalls to make sure there wasn’t an even better one further around the hall. No, there was nothing else that took his fancy. Then it was back for the original clock, luckily it hadn’t sold to someone else in the meantime. As the craftsman wrapped the clock up, Robin was sent to the central sales point to complete the purchase. (Yes, he had asked me if I liked the clock before he bought it).

DSCF4236 Robin paying for his new clock

As well as the usual bowls, platters, wooden toys and trinkets, there were some truly amazing pieces of work. One man told us that he “didn’t do round and smooth, he like to work with curves”. He likes to draw his designs on paper, to work out how to achieve the look he is after. One of his pieces for sale was an interesting Celtic style platter. How did he do that, we wondered.

DSCF4243 Celtic design platter

We gazed in amazement at the items on another stall. These eggshell thin decorative bowls had the look of lace about them. I asked the woodworker how he did such intricate work. All achieved with dental drills, was the answer, and there are only two people doing this sort of work in the country. They were just so beautiful, and I am sure that the price tag did not compensate for all the hours of work.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Thunder and Lightning

It was certainly wintry conditions at Paekakariki over the weekend. Fierce winds, heavy rain, and a good display of thunder and lightning in the evening just to liven things up a bit. The Spring weather was beaten into submission by Winter. Only three caravans made it this time, but what we lacked in numbers, we made up for in enthusiasm.

DSCF4207 Our 3 caravans, all in a row

The camp is looking nice and tidy and the managers have certainly been busy adding little touches. New planters have been added alongside the road through the camp. Planted with bulbs and pansies they look very pretty. Driftwood has been attached around the outside, giving the planters a seaside flavour. They looked very attractive scattered about the camp.

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Just across from our camp sites was something quite large being constructed. What was it, we wondered. The suggestions came in thick and fast. Perhaps it is the floor for a recreation hall, Bill thought, the camp could certainly do with one of those. Others thought not. Maybe it’s a children's playground, with swings and slides and other such attractions to be added. There was only one thing for it, we will have to ask the managers. As it turned out, it will be for children. It is the base for one of those a bouncy air castles.

DSCF4225 The mystery building project

We gathered in our caravan on Saturday evening and Bill had organised a little game for us. We had to pick out a folded piece of paper each, which each contained a letter of the alphabet. Using whatever letter was chosen, the task was to write a story as if giving a morning talk in class featuring that particular letter. It wasn’t so hard for me, as I had chosen “C”. Other’s had much more difficult letters to work with. Robin pulled out “Q”, Pamela had “Y”, and Barbara had “Z” to write about. A bit of concentration, and the words soon flowed. Once written, we had to read our composition out. As is usually the way, the best weather arrived on Sunday morning. The rain had cleared, the strong winds had died down, and it was finally warm enough to sit outside in the sunshine for morning tea.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Smoke Alert

There I was, vacuuming the caravan carpet, so that it would be all clean and tidy for next weekend’s rally at Paekakariki. As I stepped outside to shake the mat, the cleaner’s engine started slowing down and sounded quite sick indeed. A quick flick of the wrists to shake the mat and I stepped back inside. To find smoke billowing out of the cleaner and the smoke alarm loudly calling out “danger, danger”. Oh dear! I quickly unplugged” the cleaner and dragged it outside. As quick as a wink, the caravan had filled with smoke. It just goes to show how quickly an appliance can short circuit and cause a fire.

DSCF4191 The offending vacuum cleaner

The Electrolux cleaner is well over 20 years old, so we have certainly got our money’s worth out of it. Guess we will have to go shopping and buy a new one now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All the fun of the Fair

Saturday was cloudy but warm, with just a hint of a breeze, good weather for the crowds of people that gathered in Upper Hutt for the Spring Festival. Main Street was just a hop and a skip away from where we were rallying at the local school, so we walked up to see what was on offer. People were everywhere, with baby buggies, toddlers, and dogs on leads making it imperative to check where we put out feet so that we didn’t get tangled up. The Wellington Vintage Machinery Club had a display up and running with all sorts of machinery puffing away. These old machines always create a lot of interest with the men.

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Being a bit of a laundry buff, I was interested in seeing a couple of vintage laundry implements. A couple of youngsters pushing hard on some levers to make the washing machine work. After a few pushes, they had had enough of that sort of hard work.

DSCF4153 Early washing machine

Standing right next to the old fashioned washing machine was a huge clothes mangle – no doubt that would take an awful lot of hard physical effort to get the clothes through. Just as well things are so much easier these days.

DSCF4156 Old fashioned clothes mangle

There was plenty of entertainment for children, with a bouncy castle, and kiddie sized bungy jumps. Children and adults alike were fascinated with the Punch and Judy Show. Take that, and that, bang, bang, bang. I have to admit that I had never seen a Punch and Judy show before.

DSCF4168 Punch and Judy Show

We wandered slowly up and down the street, taking in the sights and sounds. Several buskers were spaced along the street, each playing their own very different type of music. Stalls were piled high with goodies to temp the passers by, with everything from clothing, to food and drink, and bric-a-brac. Even goldfish. Standard sized goldfish were swimming around the tank and their giant super sized cousins looked like they were on steroids. We noticed some children hurrying away clutching their plastic bag full of goldfish, just hope they had a tank at home to put their new pets in.

DSCF4170 Gold fish for sale

All this wandering up and down was making us peckish so we stopped off at the hot Donut stall. Let’s buy some for lunch, we decided. So we did, and took them back to the caravan to enjoy. Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, they were just delicious.

DSCF4174Queuing up to buy hot cinnamon donuts for lunch

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Robin

It’s Robin’s birthday today so we planned a celebration evening meal. We invited our friend Rex, who also celebrates his birthday today. The three of us drove down to the Petone Workingmen’s Club, to share a birthday meal together. We ate in the downstairs Bistro, and the never ending stream of customers certainly kept the staff on their feet. What to have? Plenty of choice, and all the meals were very reasonably priced. We finally decided on crumbed scallops and prawns for our starters. This was followed by roast lamb for me, tee bone steak for Robin, and Rex chose pork chops. It’s not often that a girl gets to dine out with two birthday boys.

DSCF4176 Happy Birthday Robin and Rex

Only 4km to this Rally

It didn’t take us hours to get away for our weekend rally on Friday night. It was just a matter of hooking up the caravan and driving 4km down the road to a local school. We were meeting up with the Wellington Area of the Motor Home Association for the weekend to take part in the Spring Festival Rally. Thirty five motor homes (with a sprinkling of caravans) were parked up in the school grounds for the weekend.

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We all gathered in the hall for fun and games on Saturday evening, and were put into teams for a quiz competition. The brains went into overdrive as we tried to remember which Prime Minister was in power during what particular years, and try to work out which town was the first in New Zealand to get electric light. The answer to that one was Reefton. As I said to my team, the questions are easy if you know the answers! We did very well on the TV questions, 10 out of 10 for that round. Robin’s team came in at 4th overall, while my team was 5th.

P9110980 Pondering over the answers

The highlight of the evening was when each team had to make a bikini out of newspaper for one of the men to model. The men could hardly wait to be fitted into their bikinis so that they could “strut their stuff”. It was all good fun and the laughter was ringing loudly around the hall. The evening concluded with a “bring a plate” shared supper.

P9110977 Check out this bikini, complete with beach bag

One of our camping neighbours was rather perplexed during the weekend. He came up to Robin and wanted to know about our TV reception. “How come”, he asked, “your TV dish is pointing that way while all the others are facing the other way?” The answer was quite simple. It wasn’t hooked up!

DSCF4150 TV dish was facing the wrong way

We met up again in the hall on Sunday morning for morning tea and the raffle draws. We did particularly well with raffles over the weekend, starting off with winning a meat pack on Saturday night. Then on Sunday Robin won a dozen beer, and I won a box of chocolates. Beer, chocolates and meat, that should make for a balanced meal, don’t you think?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moon Cakes and Chapattis

My workplace has many different races on the staff, and I was having morning tea with Gloria, from Hong Kong. She very generously shared out slices of her Moon Cake, and related how her family celebrated the Moon Festival when she was growing up in Hong Kong. Gloria told us of the legend surrounding the Moon festival. Overrun by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, the Chinese threw off their oppressors in 1368 AD, passing along plans for the rebellion hidden in their Moon Cakes.

Robin’s Indian customers are particularly generous when he calls for their orders. Sometimes his customers make him a cup of spicy Indian tea, or wrap up some Indian sweets for him to take home for us both to share. Now and again he is urged to try a dish of curry, and he is particularly fond of a hot buttered chapatti.

Interaction with other cultures is very interesting, and sharing food is a universal sign of friendship.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wild Weather

It was certainly a wild day. It started off with the Met Service issuing a severe weather warning for Wellington. North-westerly gales, strong enough to bring down trees and power lines were forecast in Wellington and the Wairarapa. Police also issued a warning to motorists in the lower North Island especially around the Wellington, Kapiti Coast, Wairarapa and over the Rimutuka Hill. Severe winds gusts reached up to 140kmh on the Rimutaka Hill. There were reports of flooding in the Manawata. Due to exceptionally heavy rainfall in the Tararua Ranges, Civil Defence activated their emergency plan concerning the Hutt River and rising river levels. The hills were barely visible with all the rain falling.

DSCF4132Local hills obscured by the rain clouds

By mid afternoon the wind gusts had dropped, and the rain had stopped falling. Robin arrived home safe and sound after driving his truck around in the bad weather. Surprisingly, he reported that once he had reached Kapiti, it was dry and so warm he soon took his rain jacket off. Luckily here in the Hutt Valley, we were relevantly unscathed by the bad weather. Weather – it is certainly changeable, isn’t it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Earthquake in Christchurch

It was 7.00am on Saturday morning and we were still in bed, luxuriating in the fact that it wasn’t a workday so we didn’t have to get up with the sparrows. Then the phone rang. Who is ringing at this time, we wondered. It was son Michael, now living in Christchurch, ringing from his cell phone. There had been a big earthquake in Christchurch, he told us, in the early morning. His home had no power and no water. Thankfully there was no damage to his property. We quickly turned on the TV news, and saw the devastation in the central city.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage, including the collapse of some buildings and power outages. The Civil Defence ministry says the national crisis management centre has been activated. Scientists have described this morning's earthquake as the most significant since the 1931 magnitude 7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake. Luckily no loss of life has been reported.

Damage from magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Christchurch NZ.

Officials survey a severely damaged building at the corner of Manchester and Worcester Street, central Christchurch. EPA/DAVID ALEXANDER

The Mayor of Christchurch reported that electricity was being slowly restored to the city but there were still concerns about the situation with water and waste water. Several large aftershocks have already struck the region, and wardens dressed in high-visibility gear are asking people to stay well clear of buildings because of the high risk of further collapses. The city centre is now officially closed. Christchurch Hospital is being inundated by residents arriving with broken limbs, bruises and cuts. Christchurch Airport is closed and all flights have been cancelled while the safety of the runways are checked. Panicked residents have been queuing to buy water as uncertainty surrounds the stricken city's water supply, but many businesses are unable to open their doors as the massive cleanup gets underway.

A car which sits under fallen debris following the early morning New Zealand earthquake.

Here in Wellington we live with the knowledge that our city is overdue for the “Big One”, the earthquake that is sure to hit sometime in the near future. Let us hope that when it does strike it will be in the early hours of the morning when there are less people about, like this one in Christchurch. They don’t call New Zealand the Shaky Isles for nothing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

There’s a Mouse in the House

After years of use, our elderly desk top computer needed a new mouse. Robin replaced it with the much newer mouse from our lap top. No problem with that, but then the lap top computer was the one in need of a mouse. So he went out and bought one of those fancy “wireless” ones. This seemed a bit of a misnomer to me. Wireless it may be, but it still needed a plug in contraption, (known as a wireless mouse receiver) that looks surprisingly like another mouse to get the wireless bit to work. The new mouse in the house certainly works well, and Robin is happy with his bit of new technology.

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