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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Super Cat Creates A Stir

A 24 metre long, 11 metre wide, 110 tonne super catamaran is being finished off beside the Manawatu Marine Boating Club at Foxton.

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This vessel created the stir because as it was being transported in sections from the manufacturers in Palmerston North to the launch site beside the Manawatu River. One of the sections was a contributing factor (but not involved) in a fatal crash, in that a following driver failed to notice a slow moving vehicle coming up and ploughed into a car and truck following the slow moving transporter, killing the occupants of the car. The three vehicles then burst in flames. Very very tragic and unnecessary.

It has also become some what of a tourist attraction as such a large vessel being reassembled and launched into the Manawatu River at Foxton is a very rare sight. To good an opportunity for many to miss.

To get a perspective of the size of this vessel the following photo showing the vessel and club rooms gives a good indication.

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The vessel to be named “Guru” and is destined to ply its trade in Darwin Australia for the oil and gas industry. It is not the prettiest ship around but then it is a working boat and only needs to be functional.

Here are some more photos showing different perspectives.

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Final fit out should be finished by today as the 30th is to be launch day. The next test will be will it get over the Manawatu River bar – I guess they have thought through that scenario – time will tell.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Morning Movies

A wet Monday morning seemed a good time to go to the local cinema to check out one of the films that seemed interesting. “The Railway Man” starred Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, and tells the true story of a young British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp on the Burma Railway (Death Railway) during World War II.  Lomax was lucky to still be alive when the when the prisoners were finally liberated.

Decades later, Lomax discovers that the Japanese interpreter he holds responsible for much of his treatment is still alive.   Close to breaking point, and spurred on by the suicide of his good friend and former officer, Lomax must decide what to do.  Shall he go back and face the past or live with the psychological scars forever?

This film was confronting, sobering, and very brutal, and showed the terrible atrocity of war.  Highly recommended.

Railway Man Poster

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Warrant of Fitness for Muffy

It was time for Muffy to visit the vet for her annual vaccination.  And we really wanted her to get a thorough check, as she is quite an old girl now.  She turned 18 this month, so no wonder she is getting a little creaky and temperamental.  Muffy wasn’t too impressed with getting bundled into the cat cage.  After all, these days she usually travels in the back seat, securely attached to the seat belt by her harness.  But for protection, and our peace of mind, the cat cage was necessary for a trip to the vets.

P1230006 What did you bring me here for?

While we were waiting for our turn, a lady walked by with a little white hairy dog.  “She loves cats”, we were told.  How many times have we heard that from dog owners?  Their dog may well like cats, but most cats don’t want a strange dog to approach them. 

The vets in Levin service the surrounding rural area as well as the local pets.  Someone from a local farm was at the vet’s the same time as us, leaving his gumboots at the door.  Just as well he didn’t bring his prize bull inside!

P1230005Gumboots at the door - not a sight you see in the big city

Then it was our turn and we took Muffy into the consultation room.  The vet gave her a good going over, listening to her heart, palpating her abdomen, and checking the movement in her joints.  Muffy then suffered the indignity of having her temperature taken, not a nice thing to happen to a lady at all, she told us crossly!    The vaccination was soon done, and all the poking and prodding was over.  We already knew that Muffy has the beginnings of kidney problems, not an unusual thing in elderly cats.  She also seems to have some arthritis in her back.  But she is eating well, and not drinking excessively.  We will keep an eye on her progress, keeping her comfortable and secure, and deal with any further health issues when we have to.
 
Muffy was a little out of sorts after her visit to the vet’s for her WOF, and decided to hide herself away.  We couldn’t find her in her preferred places, where could she be?  Finally tracked her down, in the corner under the chair by the the breakfast table.  According to cat logic, if she can’t see us, we won’t be able to see her.

P1240003 I don’t want to talk to anyone

Friday, January 24, 2014

Historic Otaki Church – St Mary’s, Pukekaraka

Our recent Regional Rally weekend was held at Peter Chanel school grounds, adjacent to St Mary’s Catholic Church.  Pukekaraka Catholic Mission was founded in 1844 by French priests.  This is one of the few marae in the country that is not associated with any particular tribe, so is open to everyone.  Several church services took place over the weekend, but the doors were left open for visitors to explore.

P1190008 St Mary’s church

The interior of the old church is light and airy and is adorned with trails of hand painted fleur-de-lis.   The statues of Mary and St Joseph were gifts sent out from France from the sisters of the resident priest at the time, Fr Melu.
 P1190009 Inside St Mary’s

P1190016Upstairs window

The new extension grows out of the original church to link all buildings on the site and was completed in 1992.  The bell tower was rebuilt at this time, as it had been demolished many years earlier in 1929 after the devastating Murchison (South Island) earthquake.

P1190017 The church extension

The woven tukutuku panels in the entranceway were made by local people, who gathered the materials and spent five months on it’s construction.

P1190022 Tukutuku panels

We walked through the doors into the golden glow of the church, which had sunlight streaming in through the large window.

P1190020The new church

The French colonial style presbytery built in 1897 during the ministry of Father Francis Melu.  It is a large wooden, two-storey building, with a hipped corrugated iron roof.  It has an unusual verandah on the front facade, with a triple sunburst motif under the first floor balcony.  This building has been empty for some time, and is no longer used for it’s original purpose.

P1190023 French colonial style presbytery

There are two buildings in the Marae which were built in the early 1900’s.  The symbol over the larger meeting house, known as Hine,  is an “M” for Mary, and a globe representing the world.  Roma is the name of the smaller house and the symbol represents the keys Christ gave to St Peter.

P1190024Meeting houses Hine and Roma

A pathway starting at the Wall of Reconciliation passes the Grotto to Mary and leads up to to the Stations of the Cross.  The wall was built in 1910 by people from the Ngati Muaupoko tribe who had previously considered the local Maori as their enemies. The wall was built as a symbol of reconciliation between people.

P1180049Wall of Reconciliation

We enjoyed our weekend camping in these beautiful grounds. The Headmistress of Peter Chanel School warmly welcomed us to her school, and shared some of the history of the buildings and the grounds.  She took us on a tour through the churches, and guided us up the hill where there are a number of early graves.  This is a very peaceful place, quite lovely, and just brimming with early Otaki history.  

P1180046 A glimpse of Kapiti Island from the top of the hill

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zing Zing

Just over the fence from our home is a large macrocarpa hedge which was due for a trim.  From inside we heard the zing zing of the blades trimming the hedge.

The following photos shows the machine which was mounted onto an agricultural tractor, that was used to do the work.

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Now that is what I call a decent hedge trimmer. You would not want to come into contact with those spinning blades. They must be very sharp looking at the size of the branches being cut. Beats using a pair of hand hedge trimmers and/or a chain saw.

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The finished product looks neat and tidy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Historic Otaki Church - Rangiatea

One of the highlights of our weekend rally in Otaki was the visit arranged for our group to the beautiful Rangiatea Church.  It was originally built in 1851 under the leadership of Chief Te Rauparaha and the Anglican Missionary Octavius Hadfield.  When it was destroyed by fire in 1995, it was the oldest surviving Maori church in New Zealand.  The church was rebuilt, using traditional methods and materials so both interior and exterior are true to their original designers, and it was completed in 2003.

P1180035 Rangiatea Church, Otaki

At the gathering of Maori chiefs in 1848, Te Rauparaha orchestrated the construction of the church.  He had recently returned from Australia where he had seen large churches being erected.  He thrust his American sword into the ground in front of Te Pohotiraha, and challenged the chief to support the building of the church. Te Pohotiraha was the guardian of soil brought to New Zealand by Maori in the great migration from Polynesia about 1350. The challenge was taken up and the soil was buried under the altar of Rangiatea.  Construction began with huge totara logs that were floated down the rivers at Ohau and Waikawa, just north of Otaki. One formed the ridgepole (signifying one true God), and three others were used as central pillars (signifying the Holy Trinity). Other totara were used for the rafters, pillars and slabs, and flax,  reed and supple-jack were used for the intricate panels.

From the outside the church looks little different from the many early churches dotted around the country.  But once inside the doors, it is quite a different look with painted panels on the ceiling, and woven panels on the walls.  The lovely rimu church pews just ask to be stroked as we walked around the church.  

P1180028 Looking back down the church

P1180020 Close up of the ceiling panels

The intricate carved altar rail is the work of a single Master Carver and took several years to complete.  Some of the original rimu timber was able to be used after the fire, although extra rimu had to be sourced.  Each post has a different carved design.   Colourful kneelers in front of the rail have all been individually stitched by members of the parish.

P1188158 The replacement carved altar rail

I asked our guide about the waka (canoe) in the display case.  This is a model of one of the original nine waka which were part of the great migration to New Zealand.  On the day of the fire the waka was removed from the church to be displayed at a meeting, and for some reason was not returned that evening.  Therefore this taonga (treasure) was saved from destruction.

P1180031 Model of historical waka
We had long wished to visit this church, and were devastated to hear that an arsonist had burnt it to the ground back in 1995.  The church and parish took quite some time to decide whether to rebuild, and if so, in what form.  The decision was finally made to reconstruct to the original plans although sprinklers have been added for protection.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Regional Rally comes to the end

With Sunday being a free day at the rally, people took the opportunity to go shopping or visiting friends, or just relax in the sun shine for the day.   Activity around camp increased dramatically as everyone set up for the communal barbecue.  The sausages and steaks were soon sizzling, and the accompanying salads soon arrived.  We all ate outside together in the late afternoon sunshine.   Barry’s set-up caused a bit of a stir, as he perched on his very low chair, cooking on his even lower-to-the-ground barbecue.  He wasn’t the least bit put out about various comments from everyone remarking that he needed higher legs on his equipment.  It suited him fine, he said.

P1190027 Barry cooking his low down sausages

P1190030 It’s only water, so she said!

There was a Pub Quiz arranged in the hall later in the evening, and everyone was put into teams of four.   Derek was quizmaster and he called out question after question.  This caused us to rack our brains as we tried to think of the answers.  Although my team of four came into the “hopeless” category, Robin’s team was the over-all winner for the evening.

P1190033  Derek was quizmaster

The highlight of the evening was the raffle draw.  I had arranged the Goodie Basket raffle, filled with all sorts of grocery items, tins, bottles and packets, all donations from our club members.  Then there were 20 various raffle prizes, all nicely wrapped up, plus a special Lucky Van prize.  As Peter helped me draw out the winning number for the gift basket, I was in a bit of a dilemma.  What if I chose my own number?  As much as I would have loved to win the basket, it was probably just as well that I pulled out fellow club member’s Don and Pamela’s ticket instead.

P1190034 And the lucky winner is????

After the 20 raffle prizes had been drawn, it was time for the Lucky Van draw.  This was a very generous donation from Tongariro Holiday Park for a voucher to stay for four nights.  Wellington Caravan Club member Marie was the lucky winner, and was thrilled with her prize.

The Closing Ceremony took place on Monday morning, and before the club flags were lowered, wrapped up and put away we had one more thing to do.  Time to take the club photos of us all sporting the club colours.  Robin got his tripod out, set up the camera with a delay, and raced back to the group just before the buttons started flashing.

P1208169 Heretaunga Caravan Club members

The Regional Rally was finally over, and our club was very pleased with how the weekend went, not too many hiccoughs at all.  Whew – all our hard work had paid off.  We were very lucky with the weather, it always makes such a difference when we can do outside activities.    The next Regional Rally will take place in two year’s time, but we won’t have to worry about the organisation.  One of the other clubs will have this worry, and we we have to do is attend as guests. 

Once home, and in the middle of unpacking, the caravan started bouncing around violently, as we experienced a 6.2 earthquake.  There were only two of the "steadies" down in the corners, and the car was unhooked and parked at a right angle to the front of the caravan, and was bouncing up and down too.  I had visions of the caravan being thrown into the side of the car by the force of the earthquake.  Luckily this didn't happen, but many smaller aftershocks continued, it was reported.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sausage Sizzle and a Musical Evening

Day Two of the Regional Rally was another hot day in sunny Otaki.  The club flags were hardly fluttering as they hung at the entrance of the school grounds.

P1198164 The club flags

With 20 caravans, 3 motor-homes, and one 5th wheeler attending, everyone was parked up nice and cosy on the available grassed area.  Most modern rigs these days seem to come with TV satellite dishes fitted to the roof, or like us, with a portable one placed on the ground.  There was a mix of New Zealand built Leisurelines, some Aussie vans, a few older ones, and others imported from UK and  Europe. 

P1198163 White vans all in a row

The lunch time Sausage Sizzle was organised as a fund raiser for the school and was a huge success.  So much so that the cooks had to make a quick trip down to the local supermarket for more supplies.  We enjoyed bacon and egg butties each for lunch, and sausages wrapped in bread were in hot demand too.
 
P1180056 Two bacon and egg butties, please

We had organised a musical evening for the night’s entertainment, with David Dell, from Musical Heritage New Zealand,  (formerly the Sheet Music Archives).  David Dell had previously entertained our Probus Club, and we thought that he would be perfect for our Regional Rally.  And he didn’t let us down.  With his interesting patter of facts and figures, and stories behind the song writing of yesteryear, he kept the group enthralled and entertained.  David’s particular interest is early New Zealand sheet music, and he passed around laminated copies of sheet music covers, playing his keyboard and bursting into song as he imparted yet another story.

P1180004 David Dell relating the story behind this music

The stories kept flowing, such as the one behind our National Anthem, God Defend New Zealand.  Newspaper Editor Thomas Bracken wrote the words, printed the poem in his publication, and initiated a competition to set the words to music.  One night in the winter of June 1876, John Woods read about the competition in the Saturday Advertiser. According to tradition, he usually met the coach that delivered the news in the main street of Lawrence to pick up his paper.  It was already 9 pm, but he went straight to his piano and composed the tune for what later became the national anthem. In a later letter to A.H. Reed, he explained that the words inspired him so much he had to write music for them. With eleven other submissions entered, three independent judges in Melbourne unanimously agreed that Woods' composition was the clear winner. The prize was ten guineas.

P1180005 Sheet music of God Defend New Zealand

It was a delightful evening, with plenty of chances to sing along to some early New Zealand tunes with David, and learn plenty about our heritage along the way.   

Friday, January 17, 2014

Welcome to the Regional Rally at Otaki

It was early to rise, up and away on the morning of our Regional  Rally at Peter Chanel School, Otaki.  This is a two yearly event, and it was our own club, Heretaunga Caravan Club, who was running things this time, and members from the other clubs in the Wellington Regional had registered their attendance.  Our club members had been asked to arrive at the school at 9.00am, to help get things set up and running before the attendees arrived later in the morning. We put our caravans on site around the grounds, and double checked to make sure that everything had been done.  Most people would not have been to this venue before so the signs for water, toilets, waste water needed to be put in place.  The allocated parking wardens donned their high visibility jackets, and Robin and I settled down at the gate, with “Welcome Packs” full of local info to hand out.

P1170014 Welcome to the Rally

Caravans rolled in all day long, and the parking wardens were kept busy slotting caravans into their site.  Space on the school grounds was a bit snug, but we managed to get 24 vans and motor-homes parked up.   This weekend is a non-power rally, and we noticed that several people had set up portable solar panels to keep their batteries topped up.  After the last van finally arrived, we finally had a chance to rest our weary feet.  Mix and Mingle with a cuppa morphed into Happy Hour, as everyone relaxed and looked forward to a good weekend rally.

P1180002 We are tucked right away in the corner

We all gathered in the large Staff Room in the evening and Peter was the MC for the evening.  As usual, he started the proceedings off with a couple of jokes.  Our club President Derek then officially opened the Rally.

P1170016 Peter keeping us entertained.

Raffle tickets were on sale, and these proved very popular, with people queuing up to give their loose change to the raffle sellers, Elaine and myself.  The evening finished with a cuppa and a selection of freshly baked muffins to chose from.  After a day spent out in the fresh air, Robin and I could hardly keep our eyes open any longer, it was well past our bed time.  There will be another busy day tomorrow, no doubt. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Birds and Spiders

A few sparrows have been visiting us lately, landing on the top of our external security screen door.  They must be after insects, we suspect, as the birds hover over the door for short bursts, with their wings madly flapping, before flying away again.  This happens most days, we notice, but of course the birds don’t bother to hang around while I get the camera out.

There are a few spider webs outside on the guttering, we notice, and the birds make a bee-line for them as well.  Not sure if they are after the spiders, or the insects trapped in the web, but whatever it is, they like to come calling.  So our (outside) spider webs will just have to stay put, to entertain both the birds and us.  We hasten to add that there are NO spider webs inside the house!

We’ve only just returned home from our last camping trip, it seems, and we are packing up to go away again.  This weekend our caravan club is hosting the biennial Regional Rally, with campers attending from the other caravan clubs in our region.  All the plans are in place, so it should be a good, although very busy weekend.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Rooster Crows but the Hen Delivers

It was time for another trip to the “Big Egg” for another tray of free range eggs.  It was lovely to see all the girls out enjoying the fresh air.  The hens live in barns but are free to wander outside whenever they like.  Some were busy having dust baths,  and some were sheltering under one of the large trees.  Others were clucking happily away as they pecked away in the grassy paddock, looking for insects to gobble up.

P1110030 Happy free range hens

There was a sign inside on the shop counter which is so true.  The rooster may well strut around feeling important and keep his harem in check, but it is those hard working hens which produce our daily eggs!

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

What the heck is Falafel?

We were visiting the North City Plaza in Porirua for a quick lunch, and walked though the doors with a sign stating “No hoodies, gang patches, alcohol, smoking, dogs, or bare feet”.  None of that applied to us so we felt free to enter.  Food Halls in shopping malls seen to be the same wherever you go.  There’s always a McDonalds of course, usually a Chinese, a variation on fish and chips, Thai, Indian, a Sushi Bar, and whatever else the stall holders come up with.  There was even a Chocolate Cafe, which made my eyes light up and my mouth water. 

Chinese was our choice, and we made our way around the buffet taking a bit of this, some of that, adding a few “crunchies”  to the top of our plates, such as tiny spring rolls, a wonton or two, and how about one of those delicious stuffed and battered mushrooms.  Finding a spare table in the busy food hall, we started on our meal.  Sadly, our stuffed mushroom wasn’t a mushroom at all – instead we found a ball of rice with a few bits and pieces mixed it, then battered and fried.  The place was really crowded, it’s still the Christmas school holidays here so there were family groups everywhere.  Plus a couple of workers in their high vis jackets, we noticed, sitting down enjoying their meal, and a member of the police force who collected his take-aways to enjoy at the nearby police station, we presumed. 

As we finished off our meal, Robin was busy reading a sign on one of the food outlets.  “What the heck is falafel?” he asked.  Mmm, I didn’t know either.  So Robin walked up to the counter and asked the question from those who would know.  Not only did they tell him that falafel is made from chick peas and spices, then deep fried, but they cooked him up a sample at no charge.    How kind.  We both tried a piece and decided it certainly was tasty, and they even popped a couple of grapes in too.  Wrong – they weren’t grapes at all, but black olives.  Not Robin’s favourite, but I gobbled them up, no trouble.

P1100019Not much left in the box, we’ve tried our first taste of falafel

While I sipped my decadent hot chocolate from the Chocolate Cafe, which was a bit rich for Robin’s taste, he decided on a Macca’s chocolate milkshake.  So we were both happy.  And full, after our big lunch.

P1100018   Chocolate milkshake for Robin

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Flying the Flag

We’ve been in our new home nine months, it seems, just had a quick count up of the fingers to confirm.  Today Robin decided that this was the day he would fix the flag pole fittings and start flying the flag.  You just can’t rush these things.  We used to fly the flag at our previous home, so it was duly packed and and put in storage when we moved.
 P1080001 The flag pole is up.

It took a bit of banging and screwing to attach the support to the fence post, then the pole was slipped in place.  It’s nice to see it peeping over the fence and fluttering in the wind again.  Whether we get any feedback, good or otherwise from the neighbours, we will just have to wait and see.  Someone is sure to say something.  Watch this space!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Down comes Christmas

Robin climbed up the ladder – and down comes Christmas.  All those twinkling lights that were so carefully strung along the fence, they’ve now been unhooked, rolled up, and put away.  The Christmas decorations and wall-hangings have been taken down, and the photos put back on the wall where they belong.  My pretty snowy village scene has been packed away, as have the various Santa’s who were hanging about the place.  Everything has been put away in plastic crates for safe keeping, then with a bit of effort and the odd grunt or two, hauled up those narrow stairs into the loft.  Until next Christmas, when we will do it all again.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Time to head for Home

The rain was pouring down during our last night in camp, so we bundled up and drove down to the local Boat Club for a farewell dinner.  Looking out the big picture windows looking over the Manawatu River Estuary showed just how bleak the evening was.  We arrived quite early, and just as well as the restaurant filled up fast.  Several large groups from the NZMCA Drop In Rally at Foxton Beach School had the same idea as us, and we caught up with several people from this group whom we knew.  

P1030008 View from the restaurant

Luckily the rain had eased this morning when we had to dismantle the porch awning and pack up.  I took a walk up to the big red bin to dispose of the final bit of rubbish, and saw Neil the caretaker open up the lid, jump inside, and stamp his feet to compress the rubbish down.  Don’t think I would fancy doing that.

P1030004 Getting ready for more rubbish donations

The on-site dump station at this camp is certainly a talking point.  Not that it is my job to do this particular camping chore, it’s definitely one for husbands to attend to. This one is different as it is a toilet pan imbedded in concrete as the dump point, not a regular setup as normally seen.

PC310024 The camp dump site

As we were all hooked up and heading home, it was just as easy to go to the local Council dump site today.  Geoff arrived just before us, we were second in line, with two motor-homes came in soon afterwards.

P1040012 Waiting to use the dump station

It was only a short 20km drive till we arrived home.  The worst part of a trip always seems to be the unpacking, cleaning the fridge, vacuuming the floor, but once it’s done we are all set for the next trip away.  We’ll just get settled down into house mode, then we are away again in two weeks time.  What a great life!