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

Monday, April 28, 2014

While we were away……

After ten days away in the caravan, we arrived home and caught up with what has been happening courtesy of the two local community newspapers.  Unbeknown to us, while we were battling severe wind and rain on our trip to Woodville, things were no better at all back in our home town.

The headlines such as “Deluge Hits”, and “Cyclone’s tail slams Horowhenua” tell of flash flooding through properties, motorists stranded, and blocked storm water drains all adding to the problem.  And a visit to The Big Egg today to collect some more free-range eggs showed that this property too had been quite badly affected.  A whole line of fence had been blown down, trees damaged, but no chicken calamities, we were told by the owner.  Unlike the previous storm, he related, when the chickens got spooked in their barn as the door blew in, rushed away to the far corner on  the building, and many of them got smothered.  This time, they owners were ready and prepared when the winds got up, took their tool kits and made sure everything was secure in the barns.  Guess it doesn’t take too much to spook a chicken.

DSCF5732

And in our village the only damage was a shed blown over, leaves blown off trees everywhere, and a power cut.    No wonder the radio had mysteriously turned itself on, and the clock on the stove was flashing away like a maniac.  We got off quite lightly, I think.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dropping like Flies

A nice calm morning at Taupo means that the little planes adjacent to the camp are loaded up with parachutists.  Some were solos and some were tandem jumpers.  They were dropping out of the planes like flies, and coming down fast.  The tandem jumpers in particular seem to revel in making as much noise as they can while they are speedily dropping back to earth.  Good on them, I say, there is no way I would be doing that.  Not unless I was high-jacked and pushed out of the plane, hopefully with a parachute on my back,  as an unwilling passenger.  Then I would be screaming all the way too!

P4260005

P4260004 Sky Divers coming down fast

The reason so much on the camping ground is closed off is because the area has been re-grassed, we found out.  This is a very popular area for camping, and people come and go every day.  Some stay one night, others several days, and some seem to be long time campers and are always on site every time we visit.

P4260006 Area closed for camping while the new grass is growing

Dogs are also causing problems here.  Most owners are considerate and obey camp rules about keeping their dogs on a leash and not allowing them to run free.  With the airport, the helicopter business, and several Sky Diving operations so close, dogs running loose could play havoc with public safety if they are not closely controlled.   A sign has been posted warning owners of the harsh consequences of not abiding by the rules.

P4260001 Notice for dog owners

Today it was time to pack up and head for home.  Here is a last glimpse of Lake Taupo, then we started the long drive home.

P4250017 Goodbye to Taupo

We continued along the Desert Road (SH1) and spotted Mount Ruapehu hiding under the clouds.  This active volcano last came to life in 2007.

P4260015Mt Ruapehu

This area is not a “sandy” desert, but resembles a desert because of a poor soil quality and drying winds. The vegetation is low and sparse, consisting of mainly tussock.  Known as the Central Plateau, much of the desert lies at an altitude of over 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level.  Due to the unproductive nature of the land and the extreme winter climate, the region is largely uninhabited. This inhospitable area is used by the army for training purposes.

P4260016Tussock growing
After a welcome lunch stop at Hunterville, we made good time and arrived home safe and sound in the mid afternoon.  No thanks to the truck and trailer driver who overtook us on a double yellow line north of Taihape.  What an idiot – no wonder people have accidents.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Anzac Day – Lest We Forget

It seems quite appropriate that the road leading into the NZMCA Camp at Taupo is called Anzac Memorial Drive, where the New Zealand and Australian flags were flying side by side.  Just like the Aussies and the Kiwi soldiers who fought and died side by side in the wars.

P4250013

P4250014 Flags flying at Taupo

Today is the 99th Anniversary of Anzac Day.  With next year being the 100th Anniversary, it promises to be an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to travel to Gallipoli.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Computers and a Cat

The rain is hosing down so we are having a bit of quiet time today.  With no power on site, and the sun sadly lacking, the generator is cranked up to put a bit more oomph into the batteries.  While that is chugging away, out came the two lap top computers so we can keep up to date with our favourite blogs.  (The battery on my poor old lap lop is lucky to last 60 minutes off power, barely time to do anything at all.)

Muffy is not really allowed to sit on the table, but she sneaked up while we were busy reading.  Her motto today must be, “If you can’t beat them, join them”.  Here she is keeping an eye on our blogging and internet surfing.  She doesn’t realise that there are dogs all over my screen!

P4240010Muffy “helping” us with the computers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Come Inside

Arriving at the Taupo NZMCA park we noticed that the bulk of the area had been fenced off.  No doubt because it was boggy and the powers that be were hoping that if vans stayed off those areas, it would more easily dry out.  Vans and motor-homes, both large and small, were all parked into the area closest to the road, but there was still plenty of room for any late arrivals. 

P4220001 Parked at Taupo Airport NZMCA park

The first people we saw there were Derek and Lynn from the Wainuiomata Caravan Club.  “Come on inside when you are ready”, they invited, “the kettle will be on”.  What a nice welcome that was.  Once we had found a site and settled in, the four of us wandered over for a cuppa and a chin-wag.  The pair of them were off on a well earned break from parish duties, and had been presented with a basket of home baked goodies to take away by one of their parishioners.  We have plenty of caravan friends in common, so had a good old catch-up, a cuppa and a home baked cookie, while we put the world to rights.

Robin remembered opening the cover over the gas bottle earlier in the day to remind him to turn it off.  But being Murphy’s Law, he had forgotten to go back and complete this task, and driven off.  Of course, the cover was long gone, and now we had a hole!  That won’t do at all, will it.  Out came the tape measure, and a visit to the appropriate shop is on the cards for a replacement screw in top.

P4220006 Never unscrew the lid then drive off, Robin has discovered

The helicopters over the road always make a racket, and the motors seem to run for quite some time.  It doesn’t bother us, nor do the planes coming and going from the airport.  It’s all part of parking so close and there is always something to watch.  One of our neighbours told us that his dog had never seen a helicopter before, and didn’t really know what to make of these noisy machines.  Perhaps he was just frightened of the noise.

Muffy takes most things in her stride, noisy helicopters included.  She found the outside locker door open during one of her brief visits outside, and happily spend some time making an inspection of the contents.

P4220004 Muffy in the locker

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Taupo, here we come

A snap decision was made while we were still at Woodville.  Why not take the long way home, and go and spend a few days at Taupo instead of returning straight home?  There was nothing urgent that required our presence during the week, so we decided to make the most of a few extra days away in the caravan.  So off we went, up SH2, through driving through Waipukurau, Hastings and Napier, before tackling the once feared Napier-Taupo Road.  Robin can remember many years ago when this was a tortuous gravel road.

P4210026Starting out on  SH5, Napier Taupo Road

The road meanders though the pretty Esk Valley, full of vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees.  With this part behind us, the road continually climbs a steep hill, drops down the other side, repeating this time and again.  At a length of 247km, the terrain changes from farm land, to pine plantations, and high country tussock.  There is nothing boring about this road, but you would have to take special care driving over it during winter.

P4210031  View of the Napier-Taupo Road

Starting off in sunshine, the rain came down as we got closer to our destination.

P4210036 Here comes the rain

Not far to go now, here comes the first glimpse of Lake Taupo.  We are staying at the NZMCA property just by Taupo Airport, nice and handy to the town.

P4210045First glimpse of the lake

Monday, April 21, 2014

Big Boys Toys and Painted Eggs

Our host for the weekend, Farmer Noel, invited us to look around his truck collection.  There is nothing modest about this collection, and Noel told us the whys and wherefores of the various items he had collected over the years.

P4200010 Some of the many trucks on display

P4200017Ford L8000

P4200012Bedford

P4200016 Noel even had a Dodge fire engine in his collection. 

In the evening we gathered together for an egg decorating competition. taking our hard boiled eggs, felt tip pens and whatever else we thought we might need.  The concentration was intense as we all got creative, in my case with glue and glitter, which got all over the place, I might add.  Our creative endeavours were judged by Bill, with Selwyn declared the winner. 
  
P4200020 Decorated eggs

Our Easter weather at Coppermine Camp was varied to say the least, with everything from torrential rain, wind, a thunder clap or two, sunshine and back to more wind and rain.  I discovered that there were scary wild animals on the farm, which emit strange blood curdling  noises in the dead of night.  I was making my way back from the ablution block with only a pitifully weak torch to light my way, and thought something nasty was after me.  I couldn’t get back to the caravan fast enough, and Robin laughingly told me that it was only a possum.  Maybe so – but it sounded like a vicious predator to me! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where are the Easter Eggs?

Yesterday some of us went for a walk up the country road.  Cattle grazing on the hillside watched us with interest – they probably don’t often see a posse of townies wandering up the road.

P4190045 Keeping a watchful eye on the walkers

We came across a tree festooned with plastic milk containers.  Wonder what they were for?  Maybe they were bird feeders, or perhaps containers to catch insects, or maybe some kind of rural ritual?  Whatever the reason it certainly looked strange.

P4190043 Growing milk containers

The entertainment for the evening was Table Truck Racing, a variation of the race horse game.  The dining room table was taped up into sections, we were put into teams and the dice was rolled to see how many squares each truck could move.  After our team had been soundly beaten in three games, we managed to have two wins in succession.

P4190046 The trucks are racing

Early on Easter Sunday we checked outside but the Easter Bunny hadn’t called and left us an Easter Egg or two on our caravan door steps – mores' the pity!  It’s just lucky that we we remembered to pack a couple of our own to take away with us.  But this has now been remedied.  During morning tea, the Rally Family presented us all with our very own Easter Egg.  And another plate of Hot Cross Buns was passed around for us to enjoy, very tasty thanks.

Now, what would you call this cute little fellow?  We were tasked with giving him a name.  The ideas were coming thick and fast, with everything from Randy Rooster, to Kentucky Fried.

P4200002 He’s a rooster – what is that foil wrapped egg doing there?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coppermine Camp, Woodville

Eerie mist blanketed the farm in the early morning – too good a photo opportunity to miss.  So I sneaked outside in my dressing gown and took a few shots.

P4190024 Misty morning on the farm

Might as well check the chippy heater too while I was wide awake.  At this camp, no fire means no hot water for the showers.  But wouldn’t you know, the fire had gone out overnight.  Perhaps I’ll have a go at lighting it, I thought.  Hadn’t done this sort of chore for many a long year, but I crumpled up some newspaper, laid kindling on top, threw in a match or two, and success.  I draw the line at chopping wood though, that’s what we have the blokes for.

P4190026  I passed the early morning fire lighting test

The full complement of seven vans are now on site, enjoying the rural surroundings.  The farm runs about 5000 sheep, Farmer Noel told us, plus steers as well.

P4180020 This way to the camp

The horrendous wind has dropped and we enjoyed Morning Tea outside in the fresh air.  Being in the country can have a down-side though, we were surrounded by big black flies.  Armed to the teeth with various fly swats, our club members were ready to do battle with these nasty little interlopers, along with the occasional wasp.  Selwyn and Peter’s fly swats paled into insignificance alongside Val’s battery operated little blue number, which zaps the life out of the little blighters without leaving a squashy mess.

P4190027 Ready to deal with the rural flies

A mob of sheep started to run down the driveway alongside the camp.  Robin jumped up quickly to shut the gate in case any disoriented sheep decided to check out the caravans.  But they were totally focused on following the sheep in front, and didn’t deviate from their route at all.  The ones in front found some nice fresh grass to munch on till the quad bike and dogs caught up with them.

P4190034 Just stopping for a nibble

P4190035 Here comes the boss

The clouds rolled in and the skies opened up late morning, so that sent everyone scurrying inside.  Noel the farmer had mentioned that he was waiting for some decent rain, and here it was.  The farmers are always pleased to have rain to keep their paddocks green. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wild trip to Woodville

Wild weather is covering the country, and our drive to Woodville today had us practically chewing on our fingernails in fright.    Buffeted by strong winds, lashed by rain, the caravan was pushed around behind us as we carefully negotiated the bad conditions.  It wasn’t an easy drive and didn’t feel safe at all being on the roads.  As we approached the Manawatu Gorge we could see the wind turbines up on the sky line.  Plenty of units of power would be going into the National Grid on such a windy day.

P4170005
Wind powered turbines

The Manawatu Gorge has always been one of my least favourite roads.  This area is prone to slips, and the hills are covered in netting in some areas to protect motorists from rock fall.  With steep hillside on one side, and a sharp drop down into the Manawatu River far below on the other side of the road, there is nowhere to go if the hill starts to crumble away.  We had to wait a while for contractors to clear away a small land slip before we continued on our journey.

P4170014
The Manawatu Gorge road

Once safely through the gorge, I breathed a sigh of relief – although this road doesn’t seem to bother Robin at all.  Our  Easter Rally is at Coppermine Motor Camp, situated on a sheep farm.  We found ourselves a site, settled in and had lunch.  Only three vans here so far, but more will be arriving later in the day.


P4170016
Early arrivals at camp

The camp building are the former shearing quarters, complete with kitchen, lounge, toilets and showers.  One chore that needs to be done during the weekend is to keep the chip heater burning, as this not only warms the lounge area, but also heats the water for the showers.  Robin stacked the kindling in the grate and soon had a good fire burning merrily away.

P4170018 Lighting the chip heater

The wind is still roaring, and the rain is coming down in torrents, but we should have a great weekend here with our caravan club buddies.  Just hope the Easter Bunny knows where to find us here on the farm when he is out and about delivering those eggs!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WOW comes to Upper Hutt

It was a trip back to our old home town of Upper Hutt today to view the “Off the Wall – World of Wearable Art” exhibition with our SLG friends at Expressions Art and Entertainment Centre.  WOW was started way back in 1987 by Suzie Moncrieff (now Dame Suzanne) in Nelson.  The event has since grown into a very prestigious art and design competition.

Selecting the garments was a collaborative process between WOW® founder Suzie Moncrieff and Sir Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop.  All garments are displayed so that visitors can get really “Up Close” to them.  In addition each garment tells the story relating to the design, creativity and innovation required to produce wearable art to a successful competition standard.

P4160024  Our group at Expressions

The first part of the exhibition was the Bizarre Bras on show.  Everything from sharp, pointy metal bras which wouldn’t be out of place worn by a dominatrix wielding a whip and chains, to a bra fashioned from a pair of metal cockroaches.  But what could be more bizarre than making a bra from your pet budgies?  When Rocky and Rolly died, the maker fashioned a bra from the pair of green budgies, stuffing their tiny heads to use as the finishing touch on each bra cup.  How bizarre – indeed!

We wandered around the exhibition, marvelling at the materials used for these way out costumes.  Leather, wood, plastic, all types of metal, even corrugated iron was used, creating fantasies which stretched the viewers imagination.  Unfortunately, photos were not permitted inside the exhibition.

Photo courtesy of Expressions website

Next stop was a trip down to Lower Hutt to visit to Zany Zeus, cheese-makers extraordinaire.  Inspired by the way his Cypriot mother Lefki made halloumi cheese, Michael Matsis decided to research the art of cheese making. With a Food Technologist degree under his belt and years of perfecting the art of cheese-making, Michael’s dream became a reality in 2000 when he started up his first business Zany Zeus with his sister Meropi.    The company produces delicious cheese and cultured products (mascarpone, sour cream, crème fraiche, cream cheese and yoghurt), and has recently added ice-cream to the range. 

After a little cheese tasting, we couldn’t go home without purchasing some Chilli Feta and Smoked Brinza – both yummy.  And then we just had to try one of those ice-creams each.  Definitely a shop we will return to next time we are down this way – delicious products and very reasonable prices.

P4160028 Enjoying a Zany Zeus ice-cream each

Then it was on to Petone for lunch – more eating.  Sadly we had to leave the group to their afternoon adventures, we had another commitment and had to make our way home.  But it was a great morning spent with our SLG friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On the TV News again

Does anyone want our autograph?  We only ask, as once again, we made the TV news.  With the election coming up later in the year, the Opposition was throwing out ideas in the hope of attracting new voters.  They proposed cancelling all registration fees for light trailers and caravans, if they get into power.  The TV1 news team used footage which was filmed in February while we were attending the Caravan and Motor Home Show at Mystery Creek. 

We have to confess to being TV3 news watchers, so didn’t know this was on until we received a couple of texts from friends.  Luckily we could watch the delayed news broadcast to see our caravan fleetingly on TV screens once again.  My trusty camera captured these images from the TV tonight.  Being forewarned I had time to be prepared.   

P4150019 Romany Rambler on the left and fellow campers (not us) enjoying Happy Hour

P4150018Jenny with her trusty pink laundry bucket

Now, can someone tell us how to go about collecting royalties from TV1 for all this  coverage?  We may be in for quite a windfall, perhaps!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happenings in our Village

It’s been all go in our village over the last week.  The empty section next door is empty no more, the diggers have been in to level it out, then the profiles were put in place.  Concrete edging blocks were put in place around the edge, then sheets of heavy steel mesh laid in place  Then finally, the concrete trucks rumbled in, one after another,  to pump out a never ending supply of concrete.

P4110002 
P4110003Not nearly filled up yet

The builders are a happy bunch and spent quite some time well into the dark hours levelling off the concrete.  With that job done, more supplies will no doubt arrive very soon for the next stage of the build. 

While all this activity was going on outside, we had an electrician around to do a small job inside for us.  While we were at the planning stage of our own build, we arranged for two television plugs to be put in on different walls of the sitting room.  But, we have since decided, perhaps it would be better to site the TV on a third wall.  This meant a trip up the folding ladder to the loft space to deal with the electrics up there.

P4110005   He’s gone up the ladder

Next job was to run the wires down the wall in the garage, and cover them neatly with a capping.  Cut a small hole through the wall into the sitting room, wire everything up neatly, and then it was all done.  The TVs worked first pop without any adjustments, so that means that the job was done correctly.

P4110007 Finishing off the job

Our newly arranged sitting room seems to be working well.  Muffy certainly thinks so, anyway.

P4120009

Friday, April 11, 2014

Trip to GNS

Whoever said that being retired leads to a very  busy life wasn’t kidding - we have recently joined the local 60’s Up group.   (They took our money and we were joined up straight away – no questions asked!)  The Sixties Up Movement is a body of senior members of the community made up of those who are active, usually no longer in full time employment, who meet in local branches to find new friends and activities.  One of the Movement's main objectives is to offer opportunities for members to maintain and expand their minds and bodies with social communication and educational and recreation activities.  We recently went on our first bus trip with the group, down to the Hutt Valley to GNS Science. 

P4090001 All aboard the bus

As former Hutt Valley residents we can remember when this building used to house the National Film Unit.  

P4090003

Our speakers for the morning were Katie and Delia, who have an impressive range of academic achievements between them.  They welcomed us to the theatre in the facility and presented a slide show of their respective areas of research. 

P4090011 A welcome to our group on the big screen

 

GNS Science (formerly known as the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences)  is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute.  It focuses on geology, geophysics including seismology and volcanology, and nuclear and isotope science, and carbon dating.  As well as undertaking basic research, and operating the national geological hazards monitoring network, GNS Science is employed, both in New Zealand and overseas, by various private groups (notably energy companies), as well as central and local government agencies, to provide scientific advice and information.

The long drawn out process of Geological mapping was explained.  With many field trips made to collect rock samples and take measurements, then back to the lab to plot and collate huge amounts of data, the geological map is slowly built up.  Helicopters are used these days to drop the scientists off in remote locations, and bring back the heavy rock samples.  Things were quite different in the old days, we were told.  Geologists would go into the field with a wooden case of whisky, consume the contents while they were camped out in rugged terrain, and fill up the empty cases with rock samples.
 
P4090014 Whisky box from Alexander McKay Field Exhibition

Research into geological hazards is a big part of the work done at GNS.  The Tongariro eruption in 2012 opened up a new fissure and researchers advised that the popular Tongariro Crossing Walk be closed for several months while the area was monitored.

Te Maari 21/11/2012 eruption column taken from Emerald Lakes. Photo Brad Scott.Te Maari 21/11/2012 eruption column taken from Emerald Lakes.

Much work has also been done by GNS on ground surveys after the disastrous Christchurch earthquakes in 2011 and 2012.  The previously unknown fault that ruptured under the northern edge of the Port Hills was sloping back and pointing straight at Christchurch. When it ruptured, most of the energy was directed north-west toward the city.  A recently discovered physical phenomenon explains this observation. As the huge early pulses of energy travelled through horizontal layers of the earth beneath Christchurch, the weaker upper layers travelled farther upward than the stronger lower ones, and so separated from them. When these upper layers fell back under gravity, they ‘slapped’ against the lower layers coming up again, producing very high impacts.  This effect also helped to explain the widespread liquefaction in Christchurch. As the layers separated, water in subsurface layers became less bound in soils. When the slapping occurred, large amounts of water was forced up to the surface.

Stuck in a sea of liquefaction

We all felt that our minds had been expanded after the presentation given by the young researchers, our brains were trying hard to take it all in!  Next stop was to the Petone Working Mens Club for lunch, and once again we had a special welcome, with tables reserved for our group.

P4090018

There was plenty of choice at the Bistro, and all very reasonably priced too.  It was a great day, and it was noted that several nodded off during the bus trip home.