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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dinosaurs in Palmy

Dinosaurs are alive and well and rampaging around Palmy, and we only found out by accident.  I had picked up an Air New Zealand magazine from our recent flight back home from Australia and read about this exhibition currently on show at Te Manawa Museum.  All the way from the prestigious Natural History Museum of London, no less!  We had seen the dinosaur exhibition on our UK trip a few years ago, read about our previous sighting of the dinosaurs  in the Natural History Museum here.

Why is it such a secret, we wondered.  We had seen no sign of local advertising in newspapers or on the radio, and no huge billboards adorning the streets of Palmerston North.  Very strange indeed.  Yesterday we checked it out, purchased our tickets and joined crowds of school kids as they noisily ran around the exhibition.

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This way to the dinosaurs

The exhibition was very well done, with lifelike moving models squeaking, chattering, and roaring their heads off, brought to life by state-of-the-art animatronics.  It all started, as good dinosaur  stories do, in the nursery.  The eggs were carefully incubated and hatched, the youngsters didn’t stop growing and couldn’t be controlled, and then the creatures broke out of their cages to run amok through the city.  We walked into the exhibition to see a state of devastation, broken masonry everywhere, sirens screaming, and dinosaurs on the warpath.

We could hear the sounds of planes hurriedly taking off as a giant T-Rex rampaged around the Palmerston North airport. Luggage and trollies were overturned, shoes and handbags were left lying on the ground, and no doubt passengers were quivering in fear and locked in the bathrooms in the airport building.  Tyrannosaurus Rex, with his strength, great vision and sense of smell, was the number one predator in the dinosaur world.

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T Rex causing havoc in front of the airport building

Keeping a wary eye on T Rex were three much smaller Oviraptors, also known as “egg thieves”.  Their powerful, toothless jaws were ideal for crushing eggs.

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Oviraptors – egg thief dinosaurs

And the Palmerston North Hospital environs wasn’t safe either, with another T Rex terrorising the area.  More broken masonry scattered about, seats overturned, and traffic lights and fences smashed and overturned.  T Rex was joined by an Ankylosaurus, which relied on it’s heavy body armour and the bony club at the end of it’s tail to deter predators.

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Another T Rex and an Ankylosaurus by the hospital

Two baby Triceratops were squeaking and staying close to their mother while all this carnage was going on.  With their large horns and spiky neck frill the adults were quite capable of fighter off predators.

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Family of Triceratops

The fish eating Baryonyx had found some dinner in the centre city pond – it’s teeth and jaws are similar to those of modern crocodiles.

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Baryonyx with fish for dinner

The birdlike Ornithomimus was chattering away by an outdoors café in downtown Palmy.  Café table and chairs were upended, and the street sign was lying ripped out and tossed aside.  This creature has a strong likeness to a modern day ostrich or emu, and could run like the wind.

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Ornithomimus in the wreck of the café

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One of them got me in the end – HELP!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A pair of Social Butterflies

I blame the pre-Christmas rush – it’s turning us into a pair of social butterflies.  What with a blokes breakfast for Robin, a ladies lunch for me, an invitation  to a birthday bash, and then hosting a lunch for friends at home, all in the space of a few day, it’s been one social activity after another.  And things will only get busier as various clubs and groups organize their end of year functions over the next few weeks.  You certainly need plenty of stamina at this time of the year to keep up with everything that is going on.  It’s just as well that the  next two weekends are caravan free for a change.  No rushing off here and there towing then caravan behind us as we are prone to do. 

Robin was in his Happy Place today.  Nice and cozy in his Lazy-Boy chair, watching his beloved All Black Rugby boys set against the mighty French rugby team.  And the score?  All Blacks  won with a 24-19 victory over France in Paris for their final Test of 2016.

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All Blacks performing the Haka

It’s a good day to be inside today – outside it is a wet and wild Sunday.  The trees are bending in the wind, the strong wind is howling around our door, the rain comes in sheets, and Mother Nature must have forgotten that Summer is almost here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Combined Rally at Carterton

The Wairarapa sunshine came out in force over the weekend.  Off came the woolly winter clothes from the day before, Robin got to wear his shorts again, and we both needed sun hats to keep the glare at bay.  Camping always seems so much happier in the sunshine, don’t you think? 

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We were staying at Carterton School for the weekend, and what a lovely school it was, lots of lovely large trees dotted around.  We used the large grassed area behind the classrooms for a few games on Saturday – although I suspect only the keen competitive ones were happy to be out in the hot sun.  The rest of us watched and chatted under the shady trees.  After several games of Petanque and bowls we were all gamed out, and happy to move on to 4zees.

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Under the shady trees.

We had the use of the school hall, which was handy for the evenings.  On Saturday evening we gathered together and were initiated into the new to us game of Bingo played with packs of playing cards.  It was easy to see who card players were as they expertly shuffled the deck and dealt out the cards.  We all received a choccie bar for taking part, whether we won or not.  The hall has several sets of colourful patchwork curtains embroidered with the names of pupils, fairly old by the look of them – that was a lot of work for someone to organise and sew them together back in the day.

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Curtains in the school hall

During Sunday morning tea the winners were announced for the games.  It just wasn’t our weekend as our Heretaunga Club was firmly trounced by the host club Wairarapa.  But never mind, it was fun.  The next prize was for the Lucky Van, won by our club members Don and Sandra.  Some packed up and left for home, but we stayed on for lunch, making the most of the sunshine.

I had a wander around the school grounds, and came across several veggie gardens planted and cared for the various classrooms.  The school swimming pool was surrounded by a tall iron fence, decorated with gaily painted fish of all kinds, obviously another school project.  And I rather liked the school  sign showing the 3rs of respect, simple rules, but very effective when adhered to.

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Around the school

Our return journey took us over the Rimutaka Hill, always a bit of a challenge with wind gusts, steep climbs  and lots of corners. 

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Featherston side of the Rimutaka Hill road

There was a lot of traffic out and about, and maybe people were just pleased to take a Sunday drive after the week we had with earthquakes, storms, and multiple road closures.  Groups of motor bikers roared past us on the hill, some overtaking us on double yellow lines, to my horror.  We could see where small landslides and rock falls had come down, on the hill road, and along the Kapiti Coast road as well.   Mother Nature does what she wants, and the clean up crews just have to tidy up after her.

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Kapiti Island was looking a bit hazy off the coast

Many thanks to the Wairarapa Caravan Club for a great combined rally weekend, we certainly had fun and enjoyed their friendship and hospitality.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Changeable Climes in Carterton

Winter came calling at Carterton on Friday morning – so much that we searched through our cupboards for cozy warm clothes.  With a bit of mumbling and grumbling Robin discarded his much loved summer wear of shorts, tee shirt and sandals for jeans, jersey and shoes and socks.  Bill and Val joined us at the camp the previous afternoon, and we think they must have brought the bad weather with them.

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Two Leisurelines at Carterton Holiday Park

We were continuing on to Carterton School to join the Combined rally hosted by the Wairarapa caravan Club.  But being a school day the arrival time was 4.00pm – and we had to depart the motor camp at 10.00am.  Problem solved – we would park up for a lazy day at local Rugby Club Grounds.  So we did, and spent the day chatting, reading, with a little shopping thrown in the mix too. 

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Rugby Club Grounds

Val and I walked up to Wild Oats Café to get some nice fresh bread rolls for lunch.  With a rain parka and a brolly between us, we did a great job of keeping the rain showers at bay.  A new sculpture has appeared in Millennium Park outside the café  – of Charles Rooking Carter, the founder of Carterton.  The Lions Club of Carterton fundraised and applied for grants to cover the $90,000 cost of getting the sculpture commissioned by Renowned Auckland Sculpture's "Progressive Castings".  This company also produced the Michael Jones statue, which is highly praised around the world.

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Charles Rooking Carter

In 1890 Charles Carter presented a collection of 395 works on New Zealand to the New Zealand Institute and Colonial Museum and by the time of his death the collection exceeded 1,000 books. His gifts to the Carterton borough library made it one of the best in the country by the time of his death. In his will Carter left the residue of his estate to the New Zealand Institute for an astronomical observatory and this bequest led eventually to the establishment of the Carter Observatory in Wellington.

We joined the Wairarapa Caravan Club later in the afternoon for our weekend rally.  By this stage the weather had improved dramatically.  Gone was the cold wind, the sun had come out and the early arrivals were sitting outside having 4zees in the sunshine.  It promises to be a great weekend.

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At Carterton School

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Over the Track to Carterton

There were several questions that needed answering:  What roads are still closed?  Has the wind abated? Will we be able to travel to the Wairarapa today?  Yesterday was a non event as far as caravan towing went with wide spread flooding and road closures.  Hopefully today will be a better day and we can carry on with Plan B.

With heavy wind warnings on the Rimutaka Hill Road, the driver decided to head north and travel over the Pahiatua Track road, although that can be prone to winds too.  So the caravan was hooked up, and we were on our way, driving very carefully.

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The weather was showery, the winds were blustery, but it wasn’t too bad at all, as long as the driver kept his wits about him.  And the traffic was rather light too, which was a bonus.

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Driving up the Track

Once down the other side, the wind gusts really increased, particularly the stretch of road between Mt Bruce and Eketahuna.  No wonder we passed several wind warning signs on the road side.  The cabbage trees were dotted here and there, and were in full flower, which attract moths, bees, and flies and wasps. After flowering berries form, attracting tuis, wood pigeons, bellbirds, blackbirds, starlings and sparrows. 

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Cabbage tree in flower

150kms after leaving home we pulled into our stop for the next two nights, Carterton Holiday Park.  New managers have taken over the lease of this camp since we were here last, and they seem a very pleasant young couple indeed.

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Once we were settled on site, and had some lunch, we took a trip down to the trendy little town of Greytown.  In particular, we were after some gourmet sausages from the local butcher, and came away with a fine assortment of different flavours.  How does lamb, lemon and oregano sound, or perhaps you would prefer a meal of their beef sausages which were the NZ Award Winners - Gold Medal for 2016?  Just a few doors away was another favourite shop,  the French Bakery.  And yes, I did call in there too, and came away with a couple of delicious fruit pastries for dessert tonight.

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Greytown Butchery

A new ablution block has appeared in Greytown since our last visit – that’s handy.  You really need to know where these facilities are while travelling around the country.

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Handy new toilet block

Returning to camp we had a restful afternoon.  We are all on our lonesome tonight but  we are looking forward to watching the TV documentary about the life of Leonard Cohen, who recently passed away, one of our favourite singers.  And tomorrow we will have friends joining us for the night, and then we will head off on Friday to another venue for the caravan rally.
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Camping by ourselves tonight

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Going with Plan B

When Plan A falters – go with Plan B.  Originally, we were attending a doctor’s appointment each today, then travelling on with the caravan in tow over the hill to the Wairarapa.  But flooding put paid to that – extra heavy downpours which caused the closure of multiple roads in and out of Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

So we travelled down to Paraparaumu for my appointment with the eye specialist, and left the caravan at home.  The specialist and his nurse drove out from Wellington in the morning in very wet conditions, and because of road closures will not be able to travel back home tonight. And the two ladies on the reception desk told us that their husbands who work in Wellington, will be unlikely to return home to Paraparaumu at the end of their working days.  Today is bringing plenty of disruptions to workers and travelers alike.

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Sign outside the Opticians

So Plan B – check the weather and road conditions tomorrow morning, and hopefully we will be able to drive to the Wairarapa tomorrow.  New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said several roads in the region had been closed.
  • SH1 between Mackays Crossing and Paremata
  • SH2 between Ngauranga and Petone closed northbound
  • SH58 from Paremata to Haywards Interchange at SH2
  • Greys Road
  • Paekakariki Hill Road

So with earthquakes, landslips, and flooding, New Zealand is feeling rather battered and bruised.  But the good news is that the cattle which were left stranded on an earthquake island have reportedly been saved.  Rescuers dug a trench to free the cows from the small dirt peak where they were trapped, Newshub reported.  The cows caught the world's attention on Monday night as helicopter footage showed their peril – trapped on a quake island.


We are safe and sound, our home suffered no damage in the earthquake, our little village is not flooded, and the sun will surely shine tomorrow.  So we have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mid Night Shake Up

Home is probably the best place to be while an earthquake is rattling everything around us.  Homes in New Zealand are built to high standards to withstand earthquakes – although nothing is safe from an absolute monster quake.  WE were dozing in bed just after midnight when the bed started shaking, we could hear the house creaking, and it just went on and on.  A quick check on the internet told us that the epicenter was in the South Island.  Quake over, Robin got up to make sure that our caravan hadn’t come off it’s legs and rolled away through the village.  Then we tried to settle back to sleep, missing out on all the aftershocks which followed.

According to the GeoNet Website, a severe magnitude 7.5 quake struck near Culverden in North Canterbury at 12:02am at a depth of 15 kilometres.  The Kaikoura coast has suffered widespread damage following the quake shortly after midnight, as has parts of Canterbury and Wellington.  It is now confirmed that in fact a quake collision happened – which is two separate but related quakes going on.  

Damage to roads on the Kaikoura coast.
Huge slip damages the main road on the Kaikoura coast.

We were glued to the TV this morning, watching as pictures came in of the damage.  Helicopters flying Prime Minister John Key over the damaged roads and railways in the South Island sent back very sobering pictures indeed.  So far the death toll has been very low, but with all this damage there are sure to be people and vehicles missing.

Local residents Chris and Viv Young look at damage along State Highway 1 near the town of Ward.
Photo:  ANTHONY PHELPS/REUTERS  Local residents look at damage along State Highway 1 near Ward.

A graphic showing summarising the powerful quake which struck New Zealand in the early hours of November 14.
A graphic of  the powerful quake which struck New Zealand in the early hours of November 14.  Source: 1 NEWS

Personally, we are both fine, and thanks to those sending messages to check on us.  This event is very sobering, and reminds us that New Zealand really is “The Shaky Isles”.  There will surely be a long recovery period to repair all the damage, and get people’s lives back on track again.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Homeward Bound

It was time to depart from sunny Hastings and head for home.  We packed up, filled up the water, emptied the waste, and got on our way.  The countryside looked lush and green, probably from all that rain we had been having lately.  Stopping in Woodville, I was most impressed when Robin pulled up behind Dr Ropata’s caravan, with that immortal saying displayed on the back.

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You really need to be a Shortland Street fan to appreciate this.  Shortland Street is a long running Kiwi TV soapie, set in a fictional hospital. The very first episode spawns the most famous line in the show's history: "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata," spoken by Nurse Carrie  to Dr Hone Ropata (Temuera Morrison). "This line was almost removed from the original script because it was so ridiculous," said the founding producer  "but we left it in at the last minute, and the rest, as they say, is history."

“You’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata”

Sadly, Dr Ropata wasn’t towing the caravan.  The vintage caravan was built by Auckland Caravan Company way back when, and the new owners had purchased it two years ago, with the famous quote firmly in place.  And there the sign stays, we were told. It is quite a distinctive little van, with pointy front windows, and lantern windows along the top.  The owners even allowed us a little peep inside.

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After that bit of excitement, we hit the road again and debated where to stop for lunch.  And decided on Ferry Reserve, at the beginning of the Manawatu Gorge.  As we carefully drove down the narrow one way entrance road, towing our van behind us, a young woman jumped in her car and started driving up towards us.  Where she thought she was going to pass was beyond us.  Might has Right, so she had to back down, get her little car off the road and onto the grass, and leave the way clear for us – silly girl!

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Let's go here for lunch

We had never stopped here before, and there was plenty of undulating ground, but it looked a little rough and possibly too soft.  So we stayed on the hard and pulled over onto one of the handy parking bays.

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Lunch at Ferry Reserve

The Manawatu River was rushing by, and we did wonder about the caravan parked quite close to the river’s edge.  There was no car beside it, perhaps the caravan was bogged down?

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Lonely caravan parked by the Manawatu River

From the reserve we had views of two bridges.  The first more modern bridge heads towards the Bridge Café in Balance.  And yes, of course we have dined there previously.  

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The bridge to Balance over the Manawatu River

And to start the journey through the Manawatu Gorge, traffic crosses this lovely curvy bridge over the river.

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As we did, waiting for a break in the traffic before heading through the gorge.  The road is narrow, the area is prone to slippages, and there were road works taking place.  We spotted a workman, lifted up high in a basket, goodness knows what he is doing up there.  The road was down to one lane only at this time, so we waited for the “go” signal before heading on our way.

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Workman on the hill

Safely through the gorge (I always give a sigh of relief) we continued on our way as the rain came bucketing down.  It’s always Murphy’s Law, isn’t it, to put the caravan away and unpack it in the rain?  Luckily by the time we arrived home, the precipitation was down to a drizzle.  We had a great time away, but it’s always good to come back home.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Just pottering around Hastings

After a heavy downpour during the night, the day dawned fine, but the grass was rather wet underfoot.  Staying in Hastings, we have been experiencing quite muggy weather, hot and sticky, rather like being somewhere exotic overseas, but without the air travel.

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Damp start to the morning

First order of the day was to replenish the honey supplies.  So we took a drive to Arataki Honey in Havelock North to get a couple of empty containers filled.

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Arataki Honey Centre, Havelock North

Robin is the honey eater in our household, and has a real love for manuka honey.  Unfortunately, it is the premium of honey here in New Zealand, and about twice the price of the other varieties.  He decided to get one pot refilled with manuka honey, and one filled with rewarewa honey.  And we also purchased a slab of comb honey – that’s really delicious too, and I’ll make sure I get my share of that.

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Beautiful manuka honey flowing into the pot

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Who’s  happy honey eater, then?

After lunch we called around to see my sister Kathleen and her husband Dennis, and we all carried on to another Hastings icon, Rush Munroe’s Ice-cream Garden.  Just look at that crowd, we weren’t the only ones with ice-cream on our minds.  Englishmen Frederick Rush Munro arrived in New Zealand in 1926 and set up shop with his wife Catherine, making ice-cream to his own recipes.  The shop was destroyed in the devastating 1931 earthquake, and they moved to the current site.  The new premises evolved into the very popular Ice Cream Gardens of today.

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All queuing up for an ice-cream

We had to eat our ice-creams quickly before they melted in the heat.

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Jenny, Dennis, and Kathleen

We had our first BBQ of the trip back in camp in the evening, followed by new season’s strawberries and cream.  Yummy, the strawberries were so sweet and tasty, how decadent that felt.  The manager’s cat decided to pay us a visit, and hopped up onto the spare tyre.  She was concentrating hard on something over that-away, probably birds going about their business.

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This is our last full day in Hastings, and it has been lovely to catch up with my sister and her family.  Tomorrow we will be homeward bound.