Our first time camping here at Mt Lees Reserve and what a great site it is. Ormond Wilson gifted the homestead block and surrounding bush in December 1971 to the Crown, and since 1989 the Manawatu District Council took over the responsibility. Keen to carry on Ormond Wilson's vision, the council has undertaken an extensive planting programme of its own on the 29.5ha reserve. We joined Rae and Dave, friends from the Wairarapa Caravan Club at the reserve on Thursday afternoon.
The four of us sat under our sun shade having 4zees. The sky started to darken as we listened as thunder rumbled loudly above us, seeming to come from all directions. Then the lightning started flashing – this was getting serious. It certainly was getting serious – as some time later the rain came down with a vengeance. What happened to our nice sunny day?
The reason the four of us were camping at Mt Lees was to attend the Central District Field Days at Manfield Park, the largest regional agricultural field days in NZ - over 540 exhibitors and over 38,000 visitors over three days. While I was relaxing in camp on Friday Robin was hard at work. He was part of the Levin team of Cancer Society Volunteers manning a stand. They were there to promote men’s health, as everyone knows that some men are notoriously difficult to look after their own health. He was exhausted when he finally returned back to the caravan, after being on his feet the whole afternoon is such sweltering conditions. (Nothing that a sit down and a cool beer couldn’t put right). He went early in the morning to allow time to check out everything else the Field Days had to offer, including new caravans on show.
Members of the Levin Caravan Club were holding a rally in the grounds, and their caravans and motor homes rolled into the grounds. Goodness knows what they thought of us interlopers, but after finding out we were caravan club members too, kindly invited us to join them for morning teas and Happy Hours over the weekend.
The large BBQ on site was fired up on Friday evening and most of the group brought out the bangers, steaks and chops to cook. We all ate together outside on the picnic tables, and what a convivial bunch we were. Made even more convivial when B&B guests Colin and Merilyn Bates, owners of the Leisureline factory in Hamilton shouted the group a case of beer for the blokes and several bottles of wine for the ladies. Colin and Merilyn had brought down several of their new Leisureline caravans to promote at the Field Days show. They are both very good company and it was great to spend the evening with them. Later in the evening a delicious carrot cake, topped with cream cheese icing, and a tin of home made shortbread were placed on the table for us all to share.
It was a case of two degrees of separation being proved during the evening discussions. Colin told us that he used to know a Benton during his school years in New Plymouth. No, not Robin, as it turned out, but the youngest Benton brother, Neil. That just goes to show what a small world it is – somebody always knows someone who you do too!