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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Family Wedding

After a week or so of horrible blustery winds, the weather finally relented just in time for the family wedding and it was a lovely calm day.  Have to admit that we haven't been to a wedding for quite some time.  I’m sure people our age have noticed that we tend to get invited to major birthdays (60, 70, end even 80), or sadly, spend time going to funerals of friends and family.  So it was lovely to attend the wedding of Robin’s niece to her young man.  Lydia is the daughter of Robin’s youngest brother Neil and his wife Michelle.

The afternoon didn’t get off to a good start on our drive to Palmerston North as due to an accident, a diversion was in place and took us along minor roads.  The longer route added to our travelling time, and then we had trouble finding the venue.  Luckily we slipped into seats before the bride arrived.  Although the professional photographer was snapping away during the ceremony, I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to take photos in church, and then forgot to take any till much later, during the meal.

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Kalym and Lydia

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Cutting the cake

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Elderly aunt and uncle

What was really nice at this gathering was the amount of babies and toddlers in attendance.  I had never seen so many littlies in one place for such a long time.  Some belonged to the grown up grand children, while others were obviously children of the young couple’s friends.  There was plenty of room for them to run around outside in the large grounds of Caccia Birch  between the service and the meal.  It was great for Robin to catch up with rellies he hadn’t seen for a while, and marvel at how grown up all his nieces are nephews were these days.

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Looking over the lagoon at the back of the homestead

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cough, cough, splutter

Sometimes, things just sneak up on you.  Our small car (Toyota Corolla) had been getting sluggish over the last wee while when we tried to start it – just a little every now and again.  But the other day the engine coughed, and spluttered, and just about choked and died.  Robin coaxed it time and again, and finally it spluttered into life.  Look’s like our car battery might need some attention.  We had a few things on our list to attend to up town, so we stopped off at the Auto Electricians to see if we could make an appointment to get our battery checked out.

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There was no need to make an appointment for another day, we could be attended to straight away.  How’s that for great customer service!  Out came the technician with a probe, poked it about the battery, and announced it was sick – with only 30% of working capacity left.  No wonder it was getting sluggish.  Yes, we will have a new battery please.  Luckily they had just what we needed in stock.

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In no time at all the old battery was removed, and the new one put in its place.  Robin was instructed to start the car and sure enough, it fired up straight away. 

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A little bit of surgical intervention

Our old battery was the original since the car was new, so at 7 years old, had really lasted well.  So now we are all set for many more kms of travels, and don’t need to worry about the battery giving up in the depths of winter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What a Difference a Day Makes

Just what was different about Monday morning?  No noise and no wind!  Looks like that nasty weather front had blown away overnight and we awoke to a  calm although waterlogged morning.  With breakfast quickly over, several of us pulled our vans off the wet soggy grass onto the shingle drive in front of the hall, all ready for a quick get-away while the conditions were calm.

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Ready for a quick get-away

We gathered for our last morning tea in the hall, and prizes (chocolates) were given out for the various competitions held over the weekend.  Bill was doing so well gathering up quite a horde of chocolates, that he went back to his van to show off his medal he won at previous games!

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Bill and his medal

Geoff was so pleased that the weather had improved that he did a few wheelies on the wet grass to celebrate on Eileen’s mobility scooter.

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Geoff having fun on the scooter

Off we all went, some going over the Rimutaka Hill, and others taking the northern route over the Pahiatua Track.  We passed lots of hay bales on the way to the dump station – hope they are not too water logged after all that rain.  At least all that precipitation will change the Wairarapa paddocks from parched yellow to nice and green.

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Bales of hay

With the necessary business done at the dump station, we were soon on our way to start the climb over the Rimutaka Hill.  On the Wairarapa side of the hill, a “Bailey Bridge” spans the river on the right hand side.   The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge - developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by British, Canadian and the American military engineering units.

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Starting our trip over the Rimutaka Hill

We noticed the road works coming along very well at the Haywards Hill Interchange since we had last travelled this road. Several new bridges span the motorway which will make it easier and safer for traffic once everything is up and running.

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New bridges spanning the motorway

The drive around the Pauatahanui Inlet is always pretty.  We noticed that the final sections of the walkway is being completed.

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Pauatahanui Inlet

The final part of our journey home took us up SH1 and past Kapiti Island.  Not too far to home now.  This latest trip  of 12 days took us to the Music Festival, Moata Farm and Kahutara, all  in the Wairarapa.  The weather ranged from hot, warm, very windy, blowing a gale, wild and stormy, and snow on the mountains.  Quite a variety of weather indeed in January, when it is meant to be mid summer.

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Kapiti Island

Monday, January 23, 2017

Weather Woes at Kahutura School

We know this area is prone to high winds from previous camping experience, but over the weekend the weather really put on a show.  That’s not to say it didn’t start off quite well, to lull us into a false sense of security.  Some of us enjoyed lunch on a sunny Saturday on the school verandah – sheltered from that pesky wind.   Special guests came calling for the day – it was lovely to welcome former club members Peter and Elaine.

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Lunch on the school verandah

After lunch the Rally Family had organised a few games in the hall to keep us all fit and active.  Nothing too hard, as it turned out, so that everyone could join in.  Quoits, indoor bowls, and a couple of easy golf type games.    Some members like me are just happy to get a few points to show they are not entirely useless, while others definitely have the killer instinct.

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Golf and bowls

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I’m no threat to Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko

Peter and Elaine departed for home after the games and a good catch up with everyone, for their journey back over the hill.  It was so nice to see them again.

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Goodbye and safe travels home

The weather started to worsen in the evening with wind gusts buffeting the vans and shaking the hall.  Then the rain came down.  Things really got worse on Sunday all over the country – the weather bomb had hit Auckland and 15,000 households were without power overnight.  Another storm quickly followed, wrecking havoc  everywhere.  In Kahutura where we were camping the weather just didn’t let up.  Strong winds were blowing side on to most of the vans so a few moved back on to the wind in an attempt to get a bit of relief from the incessant rocking and rolling.  Even the large hall where we gathered for our get-togethers was creaking and groaning, and I‘m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering if the roof would get ripped off and blown away.   Warnings were issued about driving in these conditions and roads were closed again, including the Rimutaka Hill road.  How would we get home tomorrow?

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Looking at the storm through the caravan windows

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Moving on to Kahutura

You know the temperature has dropped overnight when the shampoo is hard to pour out of the bottle for the morning shower.  This was further confirmed with a peek out of the caravan window.  Just look at that snow cover on the top of the Tararua Ranges – no wonder the temperature has dropped.  Cameras were clicking as our group of campers at Moata Farm snapped pictures – all remarking that it is January in mid summer, after all, so this snow fall is quite unexpected.  Perhaps it is the tail end of the weather bomb as it passed through.  This is the other (Wairarapa) side of the Tararua Ranges – our home at Levin is somewhere over all those peaks.

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Snow covered peaks

Saying goodbye to our Dethletts neighbours we hooked up and made  the obligatory stop at the local dump station.  Then we were on our way travelling through the Wairapapa townships 40kms to our next stop at Kahutura School for our rally weekend.  Hay making is in full swing, as we passed by many paddocks dotted with round hay bales waiting to be put away under cover.

A total of eight vans and campers arrived for the weekend, including John, Deb and their grandchildren from the Wairarapa Club.  The awful wind had gone, and it promised to be a great weekend.

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On site at Kahutura School

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A few of the neighbours came to say hello over the fence.

Some of the locals came for a dip in the school swimming pool and were having a great time.  But we were disappointed to see that they took the family dog in the water with them – that surely can’t be very hygienic!  There is also a BMX bike track in the school grounds which is well used.  The visiting grandkids have been whizzing about on their bikes and I asked the little boy if it was hard going over all those bumps.  “No, not for me”, he replied, “I’ve got a BMX bike”.

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Enjoying the sun shine

Wonder what the Rally Families have in store for us this weekend?  Whatever it is, it’s sure to be a fun weekend.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hunkering down at Moata POP

With the “Weather Bomb” raging in southern parts of the country we are lying low in rural Masterton.  The extra strong winds are a worry, and travel has been restricted over some roads with wild wind warnings.  Yesterday the Inter Island Ferry was not sailing, and flights in and out of Wellington Airport cancelled.  Even Wellington City’s trolley bus fleet was grounded, and the power to overhead lines for the buses turned off amid fears of the live lines being blown down onto vehicles and pedestrians.  I’ve been worriedly looking at those tall trees surrounding us at the Moata POP, hoping that they are strong enough to withstand the strong winds and not come crashing down on top of us.

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Tall trees swaying in the wind

We were joined at Moata yesterday by two couples travelling in Dethletts, a caravan and a motorhome.  That makes a total of five vans, and there is plenty of room for a couple more.

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Two Leisurelines, two Dethletts and a UCC camper

The new arrivals were also part of the hundreds of vans at the Music Festival, and remembered seeing us there.  And we remembered them too, as the caravan had trouble with his brakes and Robin and Bill wandered over to see if they could help.  The problem was eventually fixed and they went on their way for several days, before arriving at the rural POP yesterday.  We joined forces for 4zees yesterday and got to know each other.  The rain came down and we must have looked quite a sight, sheltering from the wet conditions under the awnings.

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Brake trouble at the Music Festival

There is a pretty little church down the road.   St Andrew's in the Paddock is at Fernridge, on Upper Plain Road, Masterton and was built in 1922  by the prominent Masterton building firm, Hulme and Penistone.

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St Andrews in the Paddock

We are staying here at Moata for another night and do hope that the winds will have blown themselves out as we will be travelling on to Kauhutura School in Featherston for a caravan club rally.  Fingers and toes will be firmly crossed for better weather for our weekend rally.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Farm stay at Moata

It seemed that we were some of the last to leave the Music Festival venue.  While we were having our final morning tea together the remaining vans all seemed to have quietly disappeared.  We were heading north to Masterton, and after a brief stop at the supermarket to replenish the fridge, agreed to meet up at Henley Lake for lunch.  What a pretty place this is – and as a bonus, plenty of parking available for those like us towing vans.    We ate our lunches under the shady trees, with plenty of ducks to keep us company.  Those vans with certified self containment can stay overnight, but we were shortly moving on.

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Ducks at Henley Lake

We had arranged to spend the next few nights at Moata Park Over just north of Masterton.  Through the white picket fence and up the long tree lined driveway we went.

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Up the long driveway

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Passing sheep on the way

There was a warning sign to get past, and then we spotted the little wooden bridge looking just the sort of bridge which could well have a troll hiding underneath.

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Warning sign at the entrance, and a rickety bridge just right for a troll to hide under

With a bit of fancy maneuvering, the three of us were soon settled on site.  Our van and Bill and Val’s were parked side on so that we could share the shade of the awnings, and Lorraine parked her camper at the end to give us some shelter from the blustery wind.

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On site at Moata POP

After five days away we were in dire need of a visit to the launderette.  Just because we are on holiday, the laundry never stops, does it.

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Never ending laundry duties for Jenny, Lorraine and Val

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Bill braved the blustery conditions and went for a bike ride

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And then these two checked out what was underneath Bill’s van

Later on as we were enjoying the shade under the awnings we could hear Val hard at work in her kitchen.  She surprised us with some cheese and bacon scones for afternoon tea.  Thanks Val, much appreciated.

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Yummy scones for afternoon tea

The wind is just as bad as ever, and now we find out that the country will be hit with a “weather bomb”.  We will have to batten down the hatches - just as well we plan to sit tight for the next few days. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Music Festival – Part 2, Topp Twins

Consuming “fast food is always a treat at these sort of events, and we joined the crowds for our lunch of choice.  It was a hot dog for him and a curly potatoe for her – very tasty.

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Lunch time take-aways

There were caravans and campers as far as the eye could see, about 400 we were told.  All here to enjoy a weekend of country music.

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Parked in a large paddock in Tuaherenikau

The Saturday evening programme featured artists we had seen the previously night, such as the very talented Glen Moffatt.  Now based in Australia, Glen was born and bred in the Hawkes Bay.  We particularly enjoyed his original song about memories growing up, going to school in shorts, dirty knees, sporting a crew cut, and carrying his Superman lunch box – and he had just learnt to tie his shoes, he was cooler than Fonzy!

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Glen Moffat performing on stage

The stars of the evening were the Topp Twins and they got a rapturous welcome from the crowd.  A pair of New Zealand icons, these two have been performing since the late 70s.  They trotted out all the characters they had made famous, first appearing on stage in those ghastly gingham gathered skirts with the stretchy elastic waistband.

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The Topp Twins looking rather angelic

Linda always picks an unsuspecting member of the public to help her up and down from the stage.  We had seen this prank done before at shows, but Ethan was the victim on Saturday night, and didn’t know what he was letting him self in for.  “Back up to the stage”, he was instructed, “and be careful where you put those hands”.

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Careful, Ethan

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Linda playing the spoons, and Jools on the guitar

Then we had the skit with Linda twirling the pois.  Ooops – she forgot to pack them.  No problem, she did it with pretend ones.  Ethan was called into service again to help Linda off the stage, and we all hoped that her sparkly pink top stayed in place when he manhandled her off the stage.  Talk about laugh – these girls are hilarious!

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Linda with the invisible pois, and once again on Ethan’s back

Helpful Ethan was called up on stage and helped lead the “audience participation” part of the show.  Everyone stood up and joined in the fun, the campers on the grass in front of the stage, and people like us in the grand stand, as we sang along and did all the hand actions.  It was good to look down over the crowd and see everyone join in.  What a great night it was – everyone had a ball.

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Everyone joining in and having fun

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Looking quite different with another costume change and a few more songs

Sunday was much more relaxed, with quite a few vans heading off on their travels.  We sat in the grand stand and watched the line dancers for a while, and then some more “walk up” singers took the stage.  After our evening meal everyone was invited to the pavilion for an impromptu sing-along.  One of the stars of the evening was this young man who sang with real passion.

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Sunday evening sing-along in the pavilion

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The evening ended with another glorious sunset – this pic taken by Robin

Our three vans moved on after morning tea on Monday – where has everyone disappeared to?

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Practically alone on Monday morning

Where to next?  We are not ready to go home just yet so we are heading to Masterton.