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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Flying the Flag again

Raising the New Zealand flag at our home was not quite so clear cut as we had hoped.  Attaching the base of our telescopic flagpole to the support post of the wooden fence was frowned upon, so we had to remove it.  The suggestion was made to simply add an extra post in the yard.  This was finally achieved last week, and the cement holding it in place now deemed hard enough to support the weight of the flag pole.  The brackets were screwed in place, and the telescopic flagpole was put in the bracket. 

P3310023 Just peeping over the fence

With a flourish,  Robin  extended the pole to it’s full height. ran the flag up the pole, and it spent the afternoon fluttering proudly in the breeze.

P3310025 Flying the New Zealand flag

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend at Himatangi

It’s not too far to Himatangi from home, just a short 40km drive away, so we arrived at the camp on Friday in next to no time.  The small coastal community at Himatangi has a population of about 600.  The coastline was once a seasonal gathering place for local Maori who caught fish and shellfish there. Leaving the shells in piles (middens), they inadvertently created an archaeological record of what the area once looked like. The oldest known middens can be found near a series of lagoons 4 kilometres inland, indicating where the beach line was 500 years ago.

With twelve vans arriving for the weekend, the numbers boosted by visitors and prospective members, Bill as Rally Captain was kept on his toes getting everyone safely on a suitable site.    We spent the afternoon sitting outside soaking up the sun as the caravans rolled in, and several of us had red faces and sunburnt noses to show for it  by the end of the day.  The boss lady Margaret of Himatangi  Beach Holiday Park welcomed our group to the camp, thanked us for coming, and then presented the group with two bottles of wine.

P3290002 Some of our vans on site

We had the use of the hall for our get-togethers, which was most appreciated.  As usual, Friday night was Joke Night, and the jokes came thick and fast, as did the guffaws of laughter echoing around the hall.  During Morning Tea on Saturday we welcomed new members.  The cooks all did themselves proud as a huge variety of tasty dishes were set out on the tables for our Saturday evening Pot Luck meal.  That kept everyone quiet for a while as we all sat eating our dinners, with some going up for seconds.  It was all so delicious, there was very little in the way of leftovers, we noticed. 

A Housie Evening kept us occupied  later in the evening.  Barbara had raided some of her huge collection of buttons at home, so we could use them as markers, and Bill was the caller.  Guess it was a matter of luck, but we noticed that some had several wins.  Not us two though, as usual, we didn’t manage to win anything.  But it was good fun, and everyone joined in enthusiastically, ribbing poor Bill as they waited in vain for their own particular numbers to be called. 

P3290009 Barbara with her button jars

There was the usual mixing and mingling during the weekend, and although there were no new cars or caravans to check out this time, Selwyn's “water hog” attracted quite a bit of masculine attention.  It was dripping, he said, and as trying to find out why.  Quite simple really once he had a good look and pulled the hose off, he discovered that the valve had been put in up-side-down. 

P3290007 Checking out the dripping water hog

Bill and Barbara had found this humorous tea towel tucked away in a cupboard, and it spend the weekend taped up to their caravan window, giving us all a laugh.  Another fun weekend, spent in good company with friends, we certainly enjoyed ourselves.

P3300010

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Packing the Caravan yet again

It’s time to pack the caravan yet again for a weekend away.  We are setting off for a caravan rally at Himatangi  Beach Holiday Park, run by the very friendly couple, Margaret and Dennis, a great place for a rally.

Our caravan Romany Rambler has been moved from the allocated parking around the back to the car park outside our house overnight, the power is on, and the packing is underway.  You would think after all our years of caravanning that we would have it down to a fine art.  But no, it can still take ages.  The club is having a Pot Luck meal on Saturday night, so the cook of the household had to get her thinking cap on and come up with a suitable dish or two to take. 

P3270028We are lucky there is a handy car park so close

Gypsy Rover is also parked close by, ready to get packed for the caravan rally too.  The motor-home is just a few houses away from Dot and Derek’s home, parked on a spare section. 

P3270029Derek and Robin chatting outside Gypsy Rover

Tomorrow morning the four of us we will make our way up the coast to Himatangi to join our caravan club buddies.  The weather man promises a nice weekend, so we can’t ask for better than that.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pale Green Thumbs

We are the first to admit that we are not really great gardeners, but we can’t help feeling rather pleased with how our small garden is growing.  It is just a small raised garden bed, but things are coming along very well.   Our rhubarb plants are doing so well, growing big leaves like triffids, they seem to be taking over.  We are thinking of taking them away from the veggie garden, to another plot just for them.  Nothing beats hot rhubarb crumble for pudding, and we rather like cold stewed rhubarb with our breakfast cereal.  Or tomatoes just picked off the vine.  They are also growing very well too, as is our silver beet.  We have also just planted a passion fruit plant against the fence, and Robin and Bruce  made a frame for it to climb up just last week.  I do hope that this grows and thrives, as I have wonderful childhood memories of sitting on a swing seat at my friend’s home gorging ourselves on wonderful purple passion fruit.

P3100016 Our garden is growing well

The small lemon tree, a gift from friends not long after we moved in, is also a success story, and is covered in lemons.  It is such a tiny little young tree, it hardly seems big enough to be fruiting.

P3120004 Lemons galore

Guess it is a matter of good luck that everything seems to be doing quite well.  We have experienced a couple of failures though, we couldn’t even grow a row of lettuces – the poor things shrivelled up and died on us, and the cabbages did not do well either.  Perhaps our pale green thumbs aren’t quite green enough yet.  Although we are just learner gardeners, it is quite good fun really, seeing most things grow successfully.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Working like Trojans

Our friendly neighbour Bruce offered to help Robin a hand with a couple of jobs.  They spent most of the day outside, working like Trojans.  Bruce had brought his concrete cutting blade and set about cutting a nice square hole in our newish concrete patio.  This is so we can place a pole to secure the gate back, when required, so that Robin can come and go with ease if he has a lot of things to bring in to the back yard.  (And also attach our flag pole to, but we won’t let the neighbours know about that, just yet).  The dust was flying as the blade cut through the concrete.  Just as well Bruce had brought his ear muffs along, as the noise made was an horrendous squeal, enough to put your teeth on edge.

P3200001 Concrete dust in the air

With the cuts made, how to get the concrete out, I wondered?  If wouldn’t just lift out in a nice and easy.  The thing to do was to break it up, I was told, and both Robin and Bruce took turns banging away with a crow bar.  It took quite a lot of effort for such a little hole.

P3200003 Breaking up the square of concrete

The pole was placed in the hole, water and the rapid set concrete added, swished around to mix, and left to set - easier than mixing a cake!  Bruce checked with the level to make sure it was nice and straight.  After the prescribed time, they hand mixed some Handy-Crete in the barrow, added that to the hole and levelled it off.  First job done.  All that is needed now it a latch to hook the gate back to the post. 
 
P3200005Of course it is nice and straight

Meanwhile, Trent from Secure’T’Plus was outside adding security stays to our windows, something we had been meaning to get done for a while.  That should keep the burglars out!

P3200004 Security stays added to the windows

The second job of the day for Robin and Bruce was to build a frame for our passion fruit vine.  The young plant had been plonked in the ground with only a pole for support.  It was growing quite well, with tendrils sprouting, but was laying over the lawn.  Not good at all for the poor thing.  A light timber frame was soon knocked together and nailed to the fence, plastic mesh attached with staples, and the whole thing finished in next to no time.  Good job, boys, the climbing passion fruit plant will be very happy now. and it has lots of room to spread out.

P3200016 Frame for the passion fruit plant

After all this hard manual labour in the hot sun, Robin and Bruce relaxed under the sun umbrella sipping a cold bottle of Tui each.  Thanks for your help Bruce, we really appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A visit to the Crematorium

Or: all we ever need to know about our last day on earth!  It certainly was SLG outing with a difference when Jan organised for our group to visit the Kapiti Coast Funeral Home and take a tour through the crematorium.  

 
P3188309 Kapiti Coast Funeral Home

Everyone listened intently as Andrew Malcolm explained the technical points of the high powered cremator.  The machine came from USA and there are currently only three of this particular model out here in New Zealand.  When it arrived, the staff had to thoroughly test it, and a sheep was used.  Stew Woolley Sheep was weighed on the scales, the data was fed into the computer, and Stew Woolley was sent on his way.  Once operational, the different materials of the coffins have to be factored in, the size and weight of the individual, and whether the deceased is a male or female.  Yes, it does make a difference!

P3188304 Listening intently with the scales in the foreground

Each coffin is dealt with one at a time, and after being weighed, the name plate is taken off and attached to the the smaller door of the cremator.  The handles are removed from the coffin, and the coffin is lifted up and sent on it’s final journey.  There are no actual flames inside the cremator, and the extreme heat created by gas reduces the bodies to just a little ash in a few hours.

P3188307 Looking inside

Any pieces of metal from hip replacements, plates and screws in legs, and the like are removed from the ashes, and the remainder placed in a box for collection by the family.  This jar contains the remains of Stew Woolley Sheep.

P3188303 All that is left of Stew Woolley Sheep

Our group was assured that the dearly departed are always treated with dignity, and needs of the families are paramount at such a sad time.  Everyone came away with heads full of facts and figures, and a much better understanding of what actually happens in such a place.

After lunch it was time for a little culture, and we visited the Mahara Gallery in Waikanae to see an exhibition of Frances Hodgkins paintings.  Not just her own paintings, as we found out, but also some of those painted by her sister and father.

P3180007 This way to the Mahara Gallery

Although Frances Hodgkins is a world renown artist, the two of us personally are not great fans of her style.  So we were surprised to see that she painted portraits before moving overseas, and these early paintings were much more to our taste.  “The Black Scarf” was painted in 1913 while the artist was staying at Ohinemutu.  It is the last known painting Frances Hodgkins did before departing for Europe.

P3180008 The Black Scarf

P3180010Summer Joys, 1916

P3188312Rex, Jenny, Calvin and Helen - Art Critics pondering the paintings

Our very interesting day concluded with afternoon tea at Jan and John’s home.  John took the men down to see his allotment, then over to the Menz Shed which is very handily sited in the grounds of their retirement village.  Thanks Jan, for a great day out.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Central District Field Days

It was a blokes day out when Robin and Geoff attended the Central District Field Days at Manfield Park, Feilding.  As to be expected, exhibitors were generally aimed at farmers, with baling equipment, tractors, water troughs and the like on display.  Bright shiny new cars were there to tempt the farmers who were not too affected by the recent recession, or perhaps they would like a new boat instead.  With 542 exhibitor stands to peruse, it was a huge event, with something to interest everyone.  The road that people were strolling along is in fact the race track of Manfield Park, which had seen it’s fair share of motor racing. 

P3148293 Crowds at the Field Days

The company promoting roll bars for quad bikes had a very graphic stand, with “bodies” under two bikes.  One had a roll bar fitted which kept the full weight off the victim, while the other was lying squashed and no doubt lifeless underneath his bike.  With over  70,000 ATVs used extensively on farms throughout New Zealand, ATVs accidents are the single most common cause of work-related fatalities.  Each year about 5 people lose their lives, and 850 are seriously injured in farming accidents, so installing a roll bar would make good sense. 

P3148294Quashed under a farm quad bike accident.

The national excavators competition drew a good crowd as the operators went through their paces, making it look easy as they not only dug a large hole, but also had to complete various tasks. 

P3148296Excavator competition

The blokes wielding their chainsaws as they sculpt a hunk of wood into art also had plenty of people watching, with some of their sculptures were sporting Sold signs.

P3148299

P3148297 Chainsaw sculptures

There were plenty of food stores dotted around the show, with everything from coffee, ice-cream, burgers, pop corn, whitebait fritters and hot dogs.  Those in the know visited the large blue Fonterra tent to collect free cartons of flavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese sticks.  Handy seats were provided to take the weight off weary legs and Robin and Geoff took advantage and sat down inside out of the hot sun to enjoy their freebies.

P3148300What a whopper awning – That’s one very large rollout Awning

Going back to basics was the style of the timber caravan on display, reminiscent of the old style gypsy caravans.  The timber is slotted together, and has a bed inside, and seats on the back porch.  Marketed as a shed, bach, play house, sleep out, or storage solution, it is quite a novel idea. 

P3140085

P3140084 Rustic timber caravan

Approximately 40,000 people were expected through the gates for the 3 day show.  But the show closed several hours early on the last day due to increased wind and the worry that Cyclone Lusi would be bringing wind gusts up to 130kph.   Better to be safe than sorry and get all those tents down.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Caravan Malfunction

During our last few days away in the caravan, Robin discovered that the cable for the caravan hand brake had broken.  We had driven over a one way bridge, and did not realise that the road had dropped away on the other side.  We came down with a huge thump and the damage must have occurred then. We discovered that the hand brake cable had broken on the right hand side.

Once we had returned home he thought that maybe he should check to see what damage had been done.  Today he jacked the caravan up to investigate.  With one wheel off he saw the snapped hand brake cable hanging loose, the power brake cable had been sheared off, the hand brake lever was all bent and the wheel back plate was loose. Oh,  there was also some weird sound coming out of the drum. There is also the LH drum to check yet!

P3120009 Checking for damage

Sounds expensive, doesn’t it?  The caravan is going to hospital on Saturday, and we are hoping that the insurance will cough up for some of the repair bill.  We will just have to wait and see how things develop. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Homeward Bound

It went like clock work, just like an SAS operation.  He crawled silently through the grass, ducking down below the window so he wouldn’t be spotted, carrying his tools with him.  Reaching his target, he ever so quietly taped something on to the object.  Then crawled back the way he had come.  What was it?  A bomb perhaps?  Surely not, there were innocent people everywhere!

The dastardly plan was revealed when Robin ventured behind our caravan.  “Come and have a look at this, and you had better bring your camera”, he called out.  We recognised that writing straight away.  This was the work of Peter! 

P3080009

It’s not just “any” old pink bucket, you know.  This bucket has appeared on TV, on the Seven Sharp show, while we were up in Hamilton at the Camper Care Show.  In fact, I was hanging onto the handle, when we had our 2 seconds of fame on national TV.  There was only one thing to do, approach the perpetrator and demand justice.  His answer - “that took you a while to find”. 

P3080008Peter – trying to look innocent

Our weekend rally at Bunnythorpe School came to an end on Sunday, without any of the predicted rain.  Some people packed up and went after morning tea, but we weren’t in too much of a hurry and stayed on to have lunch with some other like minded campers outside in the sunshine.  Then it was a matter of hitching up the car, winding up the legs of the caravan, and driving off to find the local dump station. 

P3090011 At the dump station

The 63km drive home was uneventful until we came across an accident at the crossroads.  Obviously one of the cars didn’t stop when they should have, resulting in the accident.  With 100km speed limit on these roads, no wonder the cars were so damaged.  We eased our way around the car in the middle of the road, and carefully crossed the intersection.  Several other cars had already stopped to help,  people were standing around talking on their cell phones, and the situation seemed well in hand, so we didn’t think they needed us as well, towing a caravan behind us.    Police cars and an ambulance came hurtling along the road, sirens blaring, so help was almost there.  It is always sobering to come across an accident, and makes you wonder - what if? 

We drove a total of 1184kms on our holiday to Hamilton and back.  Stayed at places we had never been to, and travelled on roads previously unexplored.  The highlight of the trip would have to be attending the huge Camper Care Motorhome and Caravan Show, admiring all those shiny new rigs on display.  On reflection, we decided that what we are towing is perfectly comfortable and adequate for our needs, so no, we didn’t sign up for a new caravan after all. That's not to say we wouldn't have liked one, if money was no object!

Hamilton Safari 2014

The map above shows the extent of our travels and the only piece of road we travelled on twice was State Highway 1 between Waiouru and Marton. If anyone has ever wondered why you consume so much fuel getting to Waiouru, I noted the from Ohakune to Fielding we had dropped from 800 odd metres above sea level to approx 120 metres, so going the other way is all uphill!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Joint Rally at Bunnythorpe

It took us no time at all to travel the 10km from The Coach House Museum in Feilding to Bunnythorpe School.  But would we get in, we wondered?  Entry to the school grounds was through a narrow opening and it looked like the caravan in front of us had got stuck.  One side of the caravan seemed to be right up against one of the concrete pillars of the gateway.  The solution was to unhitch the car, and slowly push the caravan through, easing it away from the concrete.  Phew – the side of the caravan wasn’t scratched to smithereens as I had imagined,  then it was our turn.  Robin tried to line our 4WD and caravan up straight, and slowly eased through, bit by bit.  Thank goodness we made it without any trauma.
 
P3070001Not much room to spare on the sides
 
Caravans and a few motorhomes continued to arrive at the school for the joint rally hosted by Wellington Caravan Club.  By the end of the day there were 18 in residence from the three clubs attending, and we sat outside enjoying the sunshine.  Two members from our own club, Heretaunga, arrived with new car purchases that needed inspection.  Dot and Derek had a dark blue Nissan Tiidia, while Dianne and Barry had recently purchased a black 4WD Toyota Highlander.  Any new car or caravan seems to create a lot of interest amongst the car buffs.
 
P3080005Joint Rally at Bunnythorpe School
 
Train buffs amongst the caravan fraternity raced down to the railway line the next morning, cameras in hand, to try and get a good photo or two of the excursion steam train going by.  It wasn’t easy as the train rushed by on the track , but most managed  a photo or two.
 
P3088289-1Here it comes
 
P3088290Off in a cloud of smoke
 
Bill was having trouble with tuning his TV and Robin offered to help, armed with instructions downloaded from the internet.  It took a while but at last the job was done.  Just in time for Bill to watch rugby on TV tonight, he declared.
 
P3080003Bill and Robin trying to tune the TV
 
And check out what we are having for dessert tonight.  Lisa brought along a big bowl of blackberries from her garden to share, so we will be enjoying blackberries and ice-cream tonight.
 
P3080006Blackberries and ice-cream for dessert
 
Today is a free day, with some going off shopping, while others are happy to sit around and catch up with friends.  We will be gathering in the hall tonight for a bit of a brain teaser, and perhaps a convivial beverage or two.  Sounds like fun.
 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Morning at the Feilding Farmers Market

The Friday morning Farmers Market was a must-do this morning, and top of the list was a visit to the Curly Tater stall.  We had eaten these before and they are delicious.  The stall has had royal patronage too, when Prince Charles and Camilla visited a year or so ago, and the stall owner has a photo on display of Camilla enjoying her curly tater.  Wonder if they had to pay?  The Agria potatoes are ingeniously sliced into a continuous spiral, lightly battered then deep fried.

P3070076 Preparing the curly taters

P3070078 Enjoying our snack

We were waxing lyrical so much that Peter and Elaine decided to try one too.  They carefully watched them being prepared and didn’t take too much persuading to have a go. 

P3070079 Looks yummy, doesn’t it

We had a good look around the market, and contributed quite well to the local economy, purchasing honey, tomatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, and a fruit loaf, all grown or made by local suppliers.

P3070082 Feilding Farmers Market