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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Bunny comes calling

It’s great to know that the Easter Bunny can find us in our caravans where ever we travel to.  Don and Pamela appeared to have grown pink bunny ears overnight and they handed out Easter Eggs and Hot Cross buns to our group for morning tea.
 
DSCF4904The Easter Bunny’s little helpers

Then everyone busily prepared a picnic lunch and loaded seats, tables, chilly bags and hot thermoses into the cars and we headed several kms down the road to our destination, Bason Botanical Gardens.  Mr Stanley Bason offered his farm property to the Wanganui City Council for the creation of a botanical reserve in 1966.  Work began on roading and damming the Mowhanau Stream in 1971, and the gardens have flourished and grown.  There are many different areas of plantings, a pretty lake and free gas BBQs available for visitors.
 
DSCF4918   Entry to  Bason Botanic Gardens

As we enjoyed our picnic lunch under some shady trees, the sunny weather deserted us.  Gusts of wind blew the autumn leaves carpeting the grass this way and that, and then the rain came down.  The consensus was, it was no longer picnic weather at all.

P3317887   Picnic under the trees

Packing away our picnic things, we drove around the garden, and wouldn’t you know it, the rain stopped and the sun came out again.  The brick pillared pathway led up to the conservatories.

DSCF4907 This way to the conservatories

Inside the hot houses were gurgling water features, flourishing tropical plants, and a great variety of rare and exotic orchids.

P3317891 Tall tropical plants

DSCF4912 And pretty little orchids

Outside once more we checked out the cottage garden, which was a riot of colour, and the herb garden, lovingly tended by members of the local Herb Society. 

DSCF4915 A bed of red roses

P3317892That’s us, between showers in the gardens

DSCF4916Newly emerged Monarch butterfly drying her wings

Down came the rain again, and it was time to head back to camp.  It was such a shame the rainy weather put paid to our picnic, as up to today it has been hot and sunny.  Never mind, it is autumn, after all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Market Day at Wanganui

“Big Breakfasts” at the camp cafe were a great start to the morning.  Six of us walked over at 9.00am to take advantage of a tasty social breakfast.  My choice was French Toast with bacon and banana, drizzled with maple syrup and the others all enjoyed their bacon, eggs, and assorted extras. That certainly set us up for the day.
 DSCF4884-1 Don, Pamela, Carol, Graham, Jenny and Robin ready to eat breakfast

We took ourselves away from the camp later in the morning to visit Wanganui, just a short 15km drive away.  As luck would have it, the riverside market day was in full swing.  Stall were selling all the usual things, food and coffee to go, fresh veggies, a  bakery stall or two, clothes and wooden items.  It was lunchtime so we checked out the food stalls, and decided on Dotto French Crepes.  The young lady told us that her parents ran such a stall back home in France.   So when she moved out to New Zealand she imported four heavy crepe hot plates and set up business herself.  My crepe came with egg, spinach and cheese, and Robin chose banana and maple syrup.  They were both so tasty, and we sat down on a riverside bench to eat them and enjoy the view.  The area was very busy with plenty of family groups out enjoying the good weather as well

DSCF4886 Dotto French Crepe stall at the market

Navigation on the Wanganui River played an important part in the early days with shallow bottomed boats plying trade along it’s length.  At this time this was the only way to travel from Auckland  to Wellington and the boats used were specially designed to traverse the whole of the Wanganui River. In the upper reaches of the river tunnel boats were used.  These were the fore-runner to the “Hamilton”  Jet boat system and as a result were years ahead of there time. A stainless steel globe on the river bank traces the route of the Wanganui River.
 
DSCF4892 Wanganui River bank

The paddle steamer Waimarie (New Zealand’s last paddle steamer) pulled into the dock to disgorge passengers after a ride up river.  We didn’t have time for a ride today, but plan to come back later to spend a lot more time exploring this city and the surrounding area.  And go for a river boat ride too, that certainly looks like fun.

DSCF4894P S Waimarie

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mowhanau Camp, and sharing the shower with a weta

What a morning wake up call I had in the shower when a large weta crawled out of the drainpipe to join me in my ablutions.    There I was, standing in the shower stall after I had put a dollar coin in the slot to get my five minutes of hot water.  As the water started flowing I noticed something big and black emerge from the drainpipe not too far from my bare tootsies waving its feelers in the air.  It was trying very hard to hang on tight against the flow of water and I was terrified it would jump out and run up my bare leg!  What to do?  I didn’t have another dollar coin on me to cut my losses and go into another shower.  Luckily, the force of the water finally carried it away and I breathed a sigh of relief.  All this wary watching the drama happening from the furthest away corner cut into my five minutes shower time and I had to quickly get on with my shower and shampoo before my allotted time ran out. 

We had arrived at Mowhanau Holiday Park, at Kai Iwi Beach the previous day to attend the Easter Rally with our Caravan Club friends. The camp was quite full when we arrived mid afternoon, with even more caravans and motor homes arriving in the early evening.  Family groups erected tents and gazebos and groups of children were busy playing impromptu games of cricket and riding their bikes around.  Our caravan Romany Rambler can be seen just over the boundary fence in the camp, parked up next to Geoff and Eileen’s caravan.

DSCF4882 Romany Rambler at Mowhanau Holiday Park

Derek had his hands in the bucket on Saturday morning doing some washing.  He wasn’t too keen on me snapping his photo while he was doing this chore – but did I take any notice?  No way.

DSCF4860 Derek doing the washing

Kai Iwi beach was just a short walk away and a group of us strolled down in the morning.  This is obviously a beach to be wary of and there were warnings about rising sea levels and eroding cliffs.

DSCF4874 Signs at the beach

The beach was crowded with people carefully picking their way amongst piles of driftwood, collecting shells, and some hardy souls were splashing about in the surf.

DSCF4868   The cliffs at Kai Iwi Beach

DSCF4872A huge tree trunk washed up on the beach

We have been lucky with the weather remaining warm, and enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine, catching up with everyone’s news. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Moving on to Marton

It was rather a strange morning at home when we looked out the windows.  Mist was swirling around and we wondered just what sort of day would be in store for us.   Luckily the mist cleared after an hour or so, and we got on with the job of packing up the caravan for our Easter holiday.  There were just the last minute food items to be put onboard, plus to make sure we had packed enough pussy cat supplies for our cat.  After a last minute cuppa, and with Muffy safely tethered in the back seat, we hooked up the caravan and were soon on our way to Marton.  The car and caravan hummed along the highway during the 75km trip and we arrived at the NZMCA park right on lunchtime.

DSCF4847 On site at Marton

Robin’s first job was to ensure we had an internet connection while we were away from home.  Easily done when some money changes hands to re-activate our travelling internet stick.  Muffy took no notice at all of this bit of high tech drama, she was much to busy stretched out on the couch catching up on her beauty sleep.

DSCF4849 Making sure we have some “internetness”

We took a walk down town and bumped into that most famous of explorers, Captain James Cook.  Just what was his statue doing here in landlocked Marton, we wondered?  The connection is that James Cook was born in Marton, England.  The statue was commissioned by the Marton Historical Society and sculptured by Robin Coleman in 2004.

DSCF4852 Statue of Captain James Cook on Broadway,  Marton

Marton is a pretty little town, and the main street is hung with colourful hanging baskets.  There were some interesting old buildings lining the main street, but sadly business must be in decline, as in many smaller towns these days, with many empty shops.
  
DSCF4857 Established in 1866, rebuilt in 1913

DSCF4854 Another interesting old building

Caravan club members Peter and Elaine joined us in camp later in the afternoon, and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting outside under the shady trees.  We are staying at this pleasant camp for one night only, then moving on tomorrow to Mowhanau, around the coast from Wanganui to meet up with the rest of our caravan club members for our Easter Rally. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Packing up for a Road Trip

With Easter fast approaching, it’s almost time to hit the road again.  Today we moved the caravan out of the RV parking area and onto the visitor’s car park beside our property.  This makes it so much easier to load up for our trip, and even better, we can run the power cord along the ground and plug  in to our power.  We want to ensure the fridge is nice and cold for when we pack the perishables tomorrow morning.

DSCF4845 Caravan outside our villa and plugged into the power

In and out the door we have been this afternoon carting armfuls of clothes, and tomorrow morning the food will go in.  We will be staying at Wanganui at Mowhanau Motor Camp over Easter with our caravan club friends.  Then we plan to move on to New Plymouth for a week or so to catch up with friends.  And to have a good look around and explore this area where Robin did most of his schooling.  The generator has already been packed as we are sure to stay at some off power sites.  Mustn’t forget to pack the lap top, and take the cat as well.  She is sure to looking forward to yet another caravan trip.  Knowing Muffy she will just keep on snoozing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Family Time

After a visit from Robin’s Mum on Friday, it was the turn of daughter Nicky, son-in-law Robert and the two grand-daughters to visit us today for lunch and to check out the new house.  I had been baking up a storm for the family lunch, and everything turned out well, not like my attempt at making scones the other day.  In fact, with six hearty appetites it all disappeared in record time, including a good portion of the delicious plum cake I had baked for dessert. 

DSCF4823 Plum cake and cream for dessert

Our visitors were very interested in the pull-down ladder leading up to the attic storage area.  In fact, they all wanted to climb up and have a look up there.  There was a take-home bonus for Nicky upstairs, that’s we we had stored our microwave from the previous house which would wouldn’t fit into our much more compact kitchen.  Nicky told me her microwave was on it’s last legs and making funny noises, so she got to take our one home.  I was happy to get rid of another carton, and more than happy it was going to a good home.

The visitors got a little lost coming here, and had to phone for directions, so Robin showed Robert his Garmin Sat Nav and explained how it can make life easier.  Don’t think Robert was overly impressed, he is not going to rush out and buy one anytime soon.

DSCF4825 See, it works like this

The grand-daughters are never too keen to get their photos taken unless they are sitting up on one or other of their beloved horses.  But here is one of mother and daughter.

DSCF4827 Jenny and Nicky

Soon it was time for them to leave, taking the microwave and a few other items I was pleased to see the back of with them.  “Come up anytime with the caravan”, Robert told us, “you know there’s plenty of room”.  I’m sure we will, now we have moved, it is only an hour up the road from here.  We waved them goodbye then tidied up the kitchen, where the dish drawer really proved it’s worth.  It made clearing up so much easier, just load it up, and switch it on, it cleans those dishes just like magic.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Met at the Swap Meet

Today the Horowhenua Vintage Car Club held Swap Meet and Collectables Day at their Levin Club Grounds. This swap meet has been going since 1997 and it is certainly popular by the number of stalls and the size of the crowd looking around. There must have been at least 100 different stalls present all trying to sell everything from vintage car parts to bric a brac and some who were selling the full range. There was so much for sale there was something there for everyone including the ladies.

P3237880 Some of the many stalls.

The host club was selling raffles, morning tea complete with sandwiches and cakes, and sausages in bread off the BBQ.

While I was meandering around the stalls I was tapped on the shoulder and lo and behold was Owen & Helen who we know through Caravanning,  and walking around the car park taking photos of some of the better presented vehicles was our mechanic Murray, from Upper Hutt.

P3237886 A very well presented Chevy Impala

P3237885 An array of Hubcaps in the foreground and in the background is a selection of magazines.

I also saw in the car park a very nicely presented and very rare Mk1 Zephyr convertible. I have often wished I had kept my 1957 Mk1 Zephyr, so I looked with envy.

P3237884 Mk1 Zephyr Convertible.

One of the blogs we follow is nb Waiouru. It was just as well Tom was not present as in one of his earlier posts he mentioned that he had no seen a “Seagull” outboard motor for some years. Well there was one of these for sale and Tom you may not have been able to resist. So here for You.

P3237883 “Seagull” Outboard Motor – Prop is on the ground.

While I was at the Swap meet Jenny was up to her elbows in flour or such cooking up a storm for the visit of daughter and family tomorrow. On my return home I saw a nice looking Plum Cake for me to sample  tomorrow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Do not betray my confidence

We received one of “those” letters recently.  You know the type, a large amount of money is involved, and even though it has nothing to do with us, we have been promised half of $18 million US$.  It seems that a rich client with our surname came into the bank, invested a whole lot of money, made a fortune, gave instructions to liquidate his investments, then died.  The writer has exclusive access to the file, and proposes that we split the money in half.  In banking circles, this happens all the time, he says.  He ends with - nothing ventured, nothing gained, and do not betray my confidence.

What a scam – but no doubt someome, somewhere will probably provide the necessary information and get ripped off.  We’re not that foolish, or greedy, and truly belive the the old saying, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.  In other words, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.  What do we need all those millions for?   You can’t buy health, or happiness, can you?  And we are lucky enough to have both.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another delivery today

After weeks of living out of boxes, our new bedroom furniture finally arrived today.  There was a hold-up in the South Island factory, due to the dispatch manager having a bad accident and being sent up to a North Island hospital.   We hope he is well on the way to recovery.

The carriers have been to our new home three times now, so certainly knew where to find us.  The new furniture was extremely heavy to carry, and they took things slow and easy.  Not like their first visit, when one of them dropped the bed base and damaged it.  Luckily this was replaced a couple of weeks later.

DSCF4804 Here it comes

It’s been quite some time since we placed our order,  and we hadn’t realised quite how big the pieces were..  We think that when we measured up the room, we didn’t take into account the measurement of the door closing into consideration, or the fact that we were also getting bedside cabinets.   But luckily it all fitted in with a squeeze. So that’s several more boxes and crates emptied today.  All in all we are feeling quite pleased with our progress. We will just have to make sure we don’t bump into the furniture if we have to get up in the dead  of the night.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Up in the Gods

Our twinkling toes have been running up and down the pull down attic ladder into the storage space above the garage, putting boxes and cartons away.  That’s not quite true – there are no twinkling toes which do running in this household!  But we have been busy climbing up and down the ladder while we moved boxes around.  First thing that was manhandled up the ladder and through the opening at the top was a newly purchased bookcase.  No need to paint or stain it, it is merely to store all those books and manuals which we have to keep in case the computer or some other piece of equipment goes belly up.

Up went our suitcases, and two packs.  Then some empty plastic crates, the contents of which we had unpacked and put in their rightful places.  Boxes of photos too, we will have go through these some rainy day, I guess.  What else – Christmas decorations and lights, we won’t need them till the end of the year.

I was lifting up boxes and cartons, resting the edge on one step of the ladder at a time as I climbed up behind it.  The heavier boxes took a lot more effort.  Robin came up with a cunning plan – he secured each box with one of his ratchet tie downs, then hooked another through the loop.  With me pushing from behind, and him pulling from above, the boxes were swung up through the attic opening. 

DSCF4799 Up it goes

It was like a sauna up in the roof space – but it was a job that needed doing.  And for the first time since we have moved in, there is finally room to park the small blue car in the garage.

DSCF4801 Up the ladder, and up in the gods

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No more nightly Strip Shows

Living in a house without curtains is rather like living in a fish bowl.  Each night and morning we had to get changed in our bedroom without a single bit of protection from prying eyes!  Makes the mind boggle, doesn’t it?  But in reality, it wasn’t quite like that.  The bedrooms in our new house face the back yard, with 6 foot high timber fences all around.  There are no neighbours yet each side in the two next door properties, and the back of our yard is bounded by a stand of tall trees alongside a busy road.  So it only felt that we we were entertaining the neighbourhood with the “dance of the seven veils” each evening.

The nosy neighbours will be missing out now that we have had our new curtains installed.  The first job was to screw the curtain track had in place.  All this reaching up and working over head height must really build up the arm muscles.  Lesser mortals wouldn’t be able to stand the strain!

DSCF4776 Curtain track going up in lounge

Then the remaining nets were hung, followed by the drapes.  There must have been even more strain on the arms as Raewyn from Ashton Interiors deftly placed a multitude of hooks into the curtain tape, then hooked these onto the sliders of the track.  Raewyn gave the drapes and Roman blind a tweak here and there until she was satisfied they were hanging nicely.
 DSCF4777 Making adjustments in the dining room

At dusk we went around the house and pulled the drapes.  Our lounge faces the street and we always felt that the whole village could see us watching TV through the large windows.  But they were probably all tucked up safe and sound in their own villas and not in the least interested in what we were getting up to.  It might have been a different story if any of them had climbed over the high fence and taken a peek in the bedroom window!  No chance of that now, last night we slept safe in the knowledge that one one can see in now our new curtains are in place.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Token of Thanksgiving

Keen to preserve the earliest original wooden church in Wainuiomata, a group of locals, many descendants of people buried in the graveyard,  formed the Wainuiomata Pioneer Church Preservation Society in 2006 and started fundraising in earnest.  The small church on Coast Road was built on land donated by settler Richard Prouse in 1860.  He had heard of the Wesley faith shortly before departing England for New Zealand in 1839, and vowed that if he prospered in the new land, he would build a church as a token of thanksgiving. By 1863 a "plain, unlined church" built from native totara and matai timber pit sawn on the site was holding services.  Our group of SLG friends enjoyed an afternoon trip to learn all about this lovely little church.

DSCF4760 Pioneer Church, Wainuiomata

As the town's population increased, the congregation eventually outgrew the modest building and the last regular church services ceased in 1958, and was used by the Art Society for many years.  The Preservation Society has done a wonderful job is a short space of time, bringing  the painted interior back to the original warm native timber.  Extra pews were purchased from a church damaged in the massive Christchurch earthquake, and funded by the generosity of a local  business woman.  The windows have been re-puttied, native timber was sourced to repair holes in the walls, carpet has been laid, and the church has been given a new lease of life.

DSCF4759 The interior has been brought back to original condition
We were then taken on a tour of the graveyard by one of the society members who was appropriately dressed in period costume.  As she related stories of the early settlers the rain came down, and the brollies went up.

DSCF4765Headstone of the benefactor of the church, Richard Prouse

DSCF4763 Listening to stories in the graveyard

“Adopt a Grave” is an innovative way for the society to raise funds and create interest in the church, after the earlier success of “Adopt a Pew” .  The society has achieved such a lot as it is only a year since the church has been reopened.   Although no longer a consecrated church, it is available for hire for all kinds of ceremonies.  Congratulations to this bunch of enthusiastic people for their dedication in preserving a piece of local history.  Our visit concluded with afternoon tea in the church, including delicious home made pikelets. 




Friday, March 15, 2013

Piggy and friends

It was like digging concrete, Robin says, as he laboured in the back yard.  We needed a trip to the lock-up to collect the garden tools so we could plant our botanical gifts in the non existent garden.  Also required was a bag of compost and another of bark chips from the garden centre.  I supervised while Robin dug a big hole, added plenty on compost, and planted our lemon tree.  Then it got a good watering, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will live and thrive.  (We are not good gardeners at all!).

Our herb garden was planted under the kitchen window.  He didn’t have to dig all the way to China this time, as the plants were just babies.  We needed to have a consultation on just what plant was placed where – then in they went,  mint, chives, parsley and rosemary.  This small garden was covered in bark chips, and then Mr Piggy and friends were liberated from their crate after three long months.  I carefully placed my piggy, cat, worm and tuatara on the bark chips in between the herbs, while Robin declared he wanted no part of such foolishness!  But they are my “stone” pets, and I decided that’s where they are going!

DSCF4752 Mr Piggy and friends amongst the herbs

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Waste-Master that wasn’t there

We didn’t notice at first.  Because there was a power switch on the wall, clearly marked “waste”.  But I did wonder – how on earth do I get the vegetable waste down that little plug hole?  Robin checked it out, then looked under the sink, before declaring that the waste-master which we ordered had not been installed!  The electrician has obviously does his part in the deal, but what about the plumber?  We got in touch with the  builder, who quickly organised a visit from plumber to complete the job.

A pleasant young plumber duly arrived.  He was obviously well trained, we noticed,  as he left his work boots on the doorstep.  We cleared everything out from under the cupboards for him, and while his back was turned, Muffy decided to oversee the job and jumped into the cupboard.

P3137874 I’m your supervisor

The plumber needed to cut a larger hole in the shelf to accommodate the waste-master unit.  But first the cupboard doors were removed to give him more room to manoeuvre.  The hole was enlarged using a jig saw.

DSCF4743 Putting all the bits together

Once the hole was cut, it didn’t take too long to fit the unit.  Now, let’s just make sure it works well.  No problem there, thank goodness.  We’ve had quite a busy week with workmen calling.  First we had the screen doors fitted, next our damaged bed base was replaced, and finally the missing waste-master was installed.  That should be all, we hope.

DSCF4745 Waste-master fitted under the sink

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Time to change the Bed (Base)

When our new mattress and base was delivered a week or so ago, there was a bit of a mishap.  Unfortunately, one of the carriers was fooling around and dropped the base on it’s edge, tearing the fabric covering.  We signed the delivery docket as “damaged goods”, and the furniture truck went on it’s way, no doubt the driver got a flea in his ear for his tom foolery.  The furniture shop we were dealing with sent a replacement today, and it was carefully carried inside without mishap.  The plastic covering was deftly removed, and the legs screwed in place.  The evolution of beds have certainly changed since our previous bed buying experience, as we noticed that modern beds now have nine legs, instead of the more usual four.  Each screw hole had a label stating “screw the fittings in tightly”, just in case someone forgot!  Then the plastic envelope was slipped over the damaged base, and it was carried away. 

DSCF4732 Fitting the legs to the replacement base

The new bedroom furniture (ordered with our new bed) hasn’t arrived yet.  In the meantime we are living out of cartons and crates.  Our current bedroom furniture looks like this!  The new stuff will certainly be a vast improvement, wouldn’t you say?

DSCF4740 Still waiting for new furniture

Hope we have green fingers as we were presented with the makings of a herb garden today.  Dot and Derek, who moved into our village complex a few months prior to us, came calling today and gave us plants of parsley, mint, chives, and rosemary as a welcoming gift.  They had hoped to plant them in the small garden under the kitchen window before we took possession of our new house, but it didn’t work out the way they planned.  What a lovely thought, and a very welcome gift, thanks so much D & D.  And in the weekend, other friends presented  us with a lemon tree for the new garden.  Looks like Robin has a bit of work to do to get everything planted.

DSCF4742 Herbs for our new garden.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tolls, Travel and Trent

It’s surprising what one finds travelling around.  Who would have guessed that there was a toll bridge in the tiny hamlet of Opiki?  Flax mills abounded in this previously swampy area in the early 1900s, with three on this river crossing.  Men hauled the flax across the river by means of a flying fox, a platform hauled across on a wire rope.  This elegant swing bridge was built in 1918 and used by the three mills and local farmers.  Sadly, by 1921 the large local flax industry had collapsed due to disease killing the plants.  Local farmer Hugh Akers bought the bridge,  and it became a private toll bridge from 1925 to 1969, when the deck structure was removed and the present bridge opened.

DSCF4717 Opiki Toll Bridge

We were passing by Opiki when we slowed down at an accident site.  Oh dear – there was a horse float lying on it’s side.  Looks like the driver took the corner much too fast.  None of the passengers appeared hurt, and we couldn’t hear any panicked neighing or kicking noises coming from the horse float.  Hopefully it was travelling empty. 

We were travelling to Palmerston North to exchange a faulty item, and, as it turned out, buy a few more bits and pieces for the new house.  Wall hooks to hang things up, and visit to the kitchen and bathroom shop to gather up another batch of storage solution ideas.  Robin needs a garden shed, so we checked some of these out too.  The basic shed comes with lots of optional extras these days, from windows, skylights, shelving and a built in work bench.  Bet they cost a pretty penny!

Back home again Trent from Secure”T”Plus Locksmiths called to install the fly screens on our two sliding doors.  He worked quickly and efficiently as he fitted lengths of aluminium profiles around the door opening, lifted the screen door in place, then deftly finishing off the final few screws.  And politely putting up with me asking him questions while I snapped his photo.  Those screens will be worth their weight in gold keeping those nasty insects, especially in the early evening when we have the sliding doors open

DSCF4724 Trent fitting the screens

So it was another busy old day.  We managed to unpack another couple of cartons to put things away, but there are still plenty more in the garage.  We’ll get there, of course, one day at a time.