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

Sunday, 11 April 2021

A Rather Grey Weekend

It’s not much of a weekend here in our part of paradise, rather grey and blah and feeling a little damp.  Not quite cold enough to put the heat pump on yet, but not warm enough to sit outside either.  The sun was trying it’s best to shine through the misty cloud cover, and I was so pleased with the photo I managed to snap. This was taken about 3.00pm yesterday.

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A funny sort of day

We took a trip to hospital during the week as Robin was due to have a procedure done.  I left him in the capable hands of the medical staff for several hours and took myself off to the hospital café.  With my current back problem making walking difficult, I’m pleased I had the walking stick to rely on, I certainly needed the support.  I was soon comfortably settled with a sandwich and coffee, my book, and some stitching, together with the cell phone handy waiting for the call to return and collect Robin after his procedure was complete.  One of the Levin Shuttle Drivers (in his uniform) had a bit of a chat with me as I was stitching away, so I told him Robin drives the shuttle too.   And although they hadn't met he had seen Robin’s name on the roster sheet.  What a small world! The procedure went reasonably well, although rather uncomfortable, Robin said, and now we are waiting results.

Robin cooked our usual Sunday morning bacon and eggs for breakfast today, and I’ve prepared a beef casserole for dinner which is cooking nicely in the crockpot.  There is sure to be some rugby on TV for him to watch today, and I can potter around and keep myself busy, I’m sure, so all is well in our world.  And our flag has been lowered to half mast as a mark of respect for Prince Phillip’s passing.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Staying Home for Easter

We decided to stay home for Easter this year instead of heading away in our caravan, medical appointments are taking priority.  Reflecting back, we were home over Easter last year (2020), because of New Zealand being in lockdown.  Never mind, I’m sure there will be plenty more caravan trips to look forward to. 

The roads were very busy when we took a trip to Foxton to visit the museum Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.   Caravan club member Sue was taking part in an exhibition with her art group, so we went along to check it out.  And there she was, working on a commission.

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Sue hard at work

All the artists had work on display and we had a lovely time admiring the different styles on show.  I particularly loved the New Zealand scenes, mountains, rivers, farmland and the like. 

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Two of Sue’s paintings

It was a lovely day indeed in Foxton, calm and sunny, and at Sue’s suggestion we had a light lunch at Sweet Dreams Café sitting outside under the sun shade.  This gave us ample opportunity for “people watching” as there were streams of visitors walking up nd down the foot path.

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Lunch at Sweet Dreams

A short drive behind the shops took us to the Manawatu River Loop. This was once a bustling port town, with ships loaded with flax, timber and other goods travelling down the river and out to markets in Wellington and beyond.  But the river is now sad, stagnant and  polluted, and water hasn't flowed through the loop since the 1940s, after a flood closed the upstream entrance during the construction of the Whirokino Cut, a Government flood-protection scheme.  The loop has since filled with silt and weeds, the quality of the water has deteriorated and it is now unsafe.  However, the good news is that work has now started – shovels have broken ground at the Manawatū River Loop as work begins to rejuvenate it.  The work is funded by $3.86 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to improve the loop and the Harbour Street Recreation Reserve in Foxton.  Stage one  rejuvenation involves excavating 25,000 square metres of vegetation and accumulated river sediment from the loop, between Clyde and Wharf streets, stabilising the new river bank, and building new pathways and landscaping.

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Manawatu River Loop

The Easter Bunny obviously didn’t come calling to our home this year, we have missed out on marshmallow eggs and on a recent trip to the supermarket we couldn't track down a single Crème Egg. Just as well we have a packet or two of Hot Cross Buns to enjoy.  Happy Easter to all, and if you are traveling on the busy roads this long Easter Weekend, safe travels.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Stay Over at Petone

After our Caravan Club weekend rally we drove down to stay at Petone for several days.  With a couple of appointments during the week at Wellington Hospital it seemed sensible to stay here, then we wouldn't have the long commute from Levin to Wellington and back.  There is plenty of caravan/motorhome parking behind the Petone Working Men’s Club and we were lucky to secure one of the four available power sites for our stay.  Now Autumn has arrived, the nights and morning are definitely much cooler so it is a real bonus to have power available,  and my elderly laptop’s battery needs daily power top ups.  Although we are well served with our diesel heater, it is nice to be able to run the dehumidifier in the cooler temperatures, it really makes such a difference and warms the van up very nicely.

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The Petone Working Men’s Club and Literary Institute was formed in 1887, and has a long standing history in Petone. Starting life in leased premises, it wasn’t too long till the  Combers Property was purchased in 1896 and the club had built an impressive membership and had been granted a prestigious Queens Charter.  On the 6th of August 1977 the doors were opened at Udy Street, the current location of the club. After extensive additions including a new restaurant and games room the Petone Working Men’s Club and Literary Institute now boasts a membership of close to 10,000 and high quality facilities.

Like most sites, the vans and motor homes roll in mid to late afternoon,and into the evening, the spaces soon get filled up.  Petone is a good place for those travelling on the Interisland Ferry, it’s a reasonably short drive from here.  Just a basic shingle covered car park with rubbish bins available, but its all about “location, location”.  And there are toilet facilities in the club, as well as a bar and a busy restaurant.

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Staying at Petone Club

Our time at Petone was rather social, which made things very pleasant.  Rae and Bruce from Foxton were also staying here, they had a family 21st here at the Club, so it was sensible to stay on site for a couple of nights. They  travel around with a Birman cat too, a large blue 10 year old boy who is very laid back indeed..  Robin and Bruce worked in the same company some years ago, and we have met them both at caravan get-togethers over the years.  The four of us enjoyed a meal in the club bistro on Sunday evening.

The alarm clock was set bright and early on Monday morning and we drove through peak hour traffic for my early morning hospital appointment.  Now that we are retired, I must admit that I found the busy traffic a bit of a trial.  But we arrived in good time, and were seen promptly.  There were lots of forms to fill out, I was weighed, height measured, blood tests done, had things explained, and I was good to go.

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Early morning commute

Back by late morning, and we arranged to meet up with caravan club members Don and Pamela for lunch.  They kindly collected us in their car and we lunched at one of the cafes in Petone.  It was such a busy place, and I thought we would have to find somewhere else as there were no spare tables available.  But a young mum sitting at a large table kindly offered to move to a smaller one - no doubt she could see this bunch of oldies hovering around looking helpless, we really appreciated her thoughtfulness.   We had a lovely lunch together, and its always nice to catch up “one on one”, or should that be “two on two”. 

The following morning we had a trip to Burnsco in Seaview, this shop caters mainly for fisherfolk, but they have all sorts of interesting camping type things on offer.  We were after a new dinner set for the caravan, selling at half price so it must have been a bargain, we thought.  While Robin was dealing with the purchase and wandered outside – such a lovely peaceful view looking out over the marina.

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Down at Seaview

Another social outing took place on Tuesday evening, when we were joined for dinner at the club restaurant by caravan club members Helen and Owen.  With a country and western night 0n, the place was heaving with people, all set to enjoy a meal at the restaurant before moving on to listen to the music.  Luckily we found a table for the four of us, pondered the menus and made our choices. As always, there was plenty to talk about, caravanning and future trips, and putting the world to rights.

The diagnostic procedure took place on Thursday on the spine to check out my back problem.  Very treatable, I was told, and hopefully I will return shortly for the problem to be rectified.  So it was quite a busy week, traveling in and out to the big city, returning to the caravan on Friday, then driving back home.

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View out the hospital window looking over Newtown

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Rally at Mt Lees Reserve

If you are hoping to spot the mountain here, you won’t even notice it.  Mt Lees has an elevation of only 95 metres, barely noticeable as you drive around.  The reserve was created by Ormond Wilson, who inherited 320 hectares of what was part of Ngaio Station.   The homestead was built first and then Wilson stood back to take stock of his land.  A fire had swept through the area centuries before leaving plenty of room for gorse, scrub  and vines to take over.  Small areas of native bush still grew in the gullies, and titoki, matai and giant totara, kahikatea and pukatea stood strong. They still remain and for 40 years Wilson created his ideal of nature with many plantings. In December 1972 he gifted the land to the Crown, and now the reserve is overseen by the Manawatū District Council.  There are walkways through the extensive bush, self contained camping is permitted, toilets and water are available.  Eight vans from our caravan club enjoyed a weekend here in the lovely setting.

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Mt Lees Homestead

We arrived in time for lunch on Friday to find several member’s vans already parked up, with the others arriving later in the afternoon.  President Barry erected the club flag, and had kindly also brought some freshly picked apples from his orchard, for us to share.

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A pleasant afternoon was spent outside, enjoying the company and eating lunch, afternoon tea, and finally 4zees.  We didn’t really do much at all, other than put the world to rights.  Dot commented about an intermittent fault on her van, and Dave gave it a once over, hoping to spot the problem – not sure if it rectified yet. 

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Dave and Dot under the bonnet looking for the battery

In the evening we gathered in the Summer House for a get together.  This was a three sided structure with no doors, and as the evening got darker, the big moths started to fly in, and for whatever reason, made straight for me!  Have to admit that there is nothing I hate more than big furry moths flying all around, so after jumping up out of my seat and waving my arms around several times, enough was enough.  I left everyone else to the furry flying monsters and took myself off to bed. 

Saturday Morning Tea was a special occasion when Selwyn and Kath received their 100 Rally Badges, presented by Barry.  Many congratulations to you both.

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100th Rally Presentation

There was a lot on in the local area over the weekend, so our club members had plenty of choices of what to do.  Some went and played Mini Golf, others went to a local quilt show, or checked out the Field Days at Manfield Raceway.  We went for a family visit and passed by a big pile of purple wrapped hay bales with smiley faces.  So of course I had to stop the car and take a photo.

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Purple wrapped bales on the road side

We were busy cooking Sunday breakfast and our gas bottle ran out.  Could of been worse, this type of thing usually happens in the dead of night in the middle of a storm.  Luckily it was a simple fix and our mushrooms on toast were soon cooked and served.  Don had a problem with his batteries getting too low which wouldn’t allow the TV satellite dish to be stowed for travel.  Luckily Pat came to the rescue with his trusty red generator to put some more current into the batteries and this task could be done.

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Robin and Pat lending a hand

After Morning Tea on Sunday we all packed up and went our respective ways.  Many thanks to Barry and Dianne for such a fun weekend.


Thursday, 18 March 2021

Rarely Seen

The National Geographic exhibition “Rarely Seen, Photographs of the Extraordinary” certainly had a wow factor and didn't disappoint us today.  According to the introduction, cameras bring pictures of the unknown to the world, starting in the 1880s with landscape pictures of the American West, the Grand Canyon, Colorado River and Yellowstone.  The images in this exhibition could be a lucky impulse shot, or one that had been weeks or months in the making.   We attended this stunning exhibition at Expressions, Upper Hutt, organised by our SLG friend Helen after first catching up over a coffee in the café. Just a small group this time, only four of us, due to other commitments.

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There was a riot of colour and stunning photos inside the gallery, mostly beautiful landscapes, with some other surprises.  Each photo had it’s own descriptive text, and the only concern was that the descriptions were placed under the photos, causing us all to bend down to be able to read them clearly.  And there was only one bench  inside the exhibition, more seating would have been appreciated by oldies like us.

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And some of my favorites:  

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Northern Lights, wouldn’t I love to see that sight one day, and a stunning ice cave.

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From New Zealand, one of the famous Moeraki Boulders on the beach

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This was an amazing image, a green snake and a humming bird having a stand-off

It was an amazing exhibition and I’m so pleased that Helen had arranged to take us there.  We then went back to Helen and Calvin’s new home, which looks over the iconic Trentham Racecourse.  They often see horses training on the track, and of course, on race days, the horses and jockeys thunder by to be first past the winning post.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch  at the Devine Café in their village, with delicious meals all round, two steak sandwiches for the boys, fish and eggs benedict for the ladies.  The friendly waitress took our photos, no trouble at all she said, and I always appreciate this little bit of extra service when we are out.

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Helen, Calvin, Robin and Jenny

We thoroughly enjoyed our outing,  returning to Upper Hutt for the day, our former home town.  Thanks for a wonderful time, Helen and Calvin.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Unpleasant Surprise

So……… just what was waiting for us inside the house when we returned home from our three week safari?  Something rather nasty and smelly, I can tell you.  Sometime during our absence. the fridge stopped working.  Here we were, tired and hot, busy unpacking the caravan and all set to transfer the contents of the caravan fridge to the one in the kitchen.  But oh, the smell.  Nothing for it but to get a plastic bin and chuck everything out, and then set to with hot soapy water and give it a good clean.  Frozen berries, home cooked meals in containers, and some salmon filets, they all got chucked out, together with whatever had been left behind in the fridge, mainly sauces, pickles, cheese and butter.  How did that happen, we wondered?  Surely we hadn't touched the wrong switch when we turned the hot water off when departing?

With the fridge cleaned, and the contents moved in from the caravan, all seemed to be well.  Until later in the evening when we turned the light switches on.  Off went all the lights, and off went the fridge again, Robin deduced that the fridge was faulty and tripped the switch once the lights came on.  Out came the food again, and put into a chilly bag on the bench.

First thing Monday morning we went down to see about purchasing a new fridge.  Not easy in these Covid times as a lot of the stock seems to be tied up on the wharves on on the high seas.  We made our choice and the staff member then had the job of phoning around to find a fridge for us from one of the other stores in the chain.  As we hadn’t heard back,  Robin returned to the shop the following morning for an update.  No fridge was available in any of the other stores, but the manager agreed to sell us one “off the floor”, but the earliest delivery date was a week away.  One step forward…..

So out came the chilly bag on the kitchen bench, and a big bag of ice.  Ice doesn’t last long, so that didn’t really work well at all.  There was nothing for it, Robin moved the caravan around from it’s parking place and into the car park outside, plugged it into power, and we now have a working fridge. 

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Just a short walk to the caravan fridge outside

Before each meal we loaded up the chilly bag with frozen pads and whatever food  was required, and then did the return trip to replace the items back in the caravan fridge.  At least it wasn’t too far to walk.  Our delivery was scheduled for today, but would it arrive, we wondered?  The phone call came through to advise us of the approximate time, and sure enough, the truck arrived as promised.

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Inside the truck were two nice young men to deliver our new fridge, and take away the dead one, which was all achieved very quickly and pleasantly.  I didn’t realise that we had to let the gas in the new fridge settle for a while  before switching it on.  And I have to admit that I couldn’t get the words from the Dire Straits song out of my head as the men were tooing and froing.  Wonder if they ever wanted to be rock stars?

“We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these colour TV's”

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New fridge at last

We had worked out that our previous fridge was about 12 years old.  And the new one has a sign saying “10 Year Warranty” so appliances are not really built to last these days, are they.  Just one more thing – the door is hinged on the other side – wonder how many days it will take us to remember that?


Thursday, 4 March 2021

Ready to Help

The local Menz Shed men were on hand today to help clear some donated items from the home and shed  next door.    Sadly, our neighbour has moved into a rest home so it was time for the family to clear the house and shed. Tools, lengths of timbers, a couple of small pieces of wooden furniture all got loaded up and taken back to the Menz Shed, where no doubt they will be put to good use and/or recycled.  

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Many hands make light work

It’s interesting to note that our village has six very keen Menz Shedders living  here, they all love attending, making things  and enjoy the companionship of fellow members.