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

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Next Stop - Dannevirke Rally

Saying goodbye to our ICA friends, we left Hastings to drive down to Dannevirke for our caravan club rally.  The fog/mist was rather thick and we could barely see a thing for a while.  It always seems rather spooky to me driving in these conditions.


Mist everywhere

Bill and Val were travelling with us and we arranged to stop at Waipawa for lunch.  Brrrm, brrm, a large group of motor bikes drove into town and parked up.  They were on a trip to Porangahau they said, and were waiting for the latecomers to catch up.  This strange beast certainly was worth admiring, part car, part bike, obviously a one-off.


What is this?


Parked up for lunch

Well fed and watered, we continued on our way.  There was snow on the top of the Ruahine Ranges, sparkling in the winter sunshine, always a lovely sight to see.


There's snow on those hills

We arrived at Dannevirke Motor Camp in the mid afternoon.  The camp is way down a long drive, we passed an aviary, and there were deer in one of the nearby paddocks.  This camp in situated in a dell and can get rather chilly, luckily we were all on power sites for the weekend.  Report at the office, the sign said – that caused a little consternation as the office used to be part of the house at the top of the drive, but was nowhere to be seen.  We found out that the office is now situated in the camp ground – you can tell it’s been a while since our last visit here.


At Dannevirke Camp Ground

It was great to catch up with everyone again.  There was a lot planned for the following day, Saturday, including a mystery trip, wonder where we will end up?  Sounds like fun.


Sitting outside the kitchen area

Monday, 27 June 2022

ICA Rally, Hawkes Bay

Billed as the “0 & 5 Rally”, this six day adventure was a busy time indeed.  Each year the ICA Club runs this rally to celebrate with those who are celebrating a major birthday or wedding anniversary during the year.  This takes place on the final evening of the rally, so more about this later.


We had two nights at the Hawkes Bay Caravan Club grounds in Eskdale.

  After several days of rain, the grounds were very wet and soft indeed.  New members Peter and Ruth certainly made an impression on their first rally when their motor home got stuck in the mud.  Try as they might, it wouldn't budge, and the van just dug itself deeper and deeper into the mud.  A group of members jumped into action, pushing and rocking to get the van out of the hole, but to no avail.  It really needed to be towed out, just the job for Robin and his trusty Jeep.  Success at last!

P1000089 P1000090

All hands on deck!

Dinner was provided on our first night together, soup and bread rolls.  Very tasty indeed, there was pumpkin soup, ham and veggie, and tomato.  Plenty to go around, and most of us went up for seconds too.    And for morning tea the next day, we were treated to scones with jam and cream, didn't we do well.


Soup for dinner and scones for morning tea

As expected, Robin’s help was needed when it was time to move on, and several motorhomes were towed off the wet ground.  Next stop was the Hasting Race Course – luckily the ground was much firmer to park on here.  A climb up the grandstand gave a great view of all the vans laid out on the grass.


Hastings Race Course

Dinner that evening was “Pea, Pie and Pud” at John’s Café, we had preordered our choice of pie to make things easier for the staff.  The main course was followed by cheesecake, and coffee.  It was a tasty meal indeed.



Enjoying our meal

On Thursday we moved on to the Ellwood Function Centre for our final evening.  The two caravans in the group, along with a large Wakerley bus were parked up together, and all the other motorhomes were in another part of the parking area.


Dressed in our glad rags, we made our way to the Function Centre and enjoyed a lovely catered meal.  Baked ham, roast veggies, followed with tiramisu.  I thought it prudent to take a photo of the large cake before it was cut – this was a carrot cake with cream cheese icing, made for us by John’s Bakery.


The celebration cake

And the big birthday celebrations this year ranged from 75, 80, 85, and a 90.  Well done to the birthday people.  Kathie had made beautiful hand made cards to be presented to all celebrating this year..


Happy Birthday

There were three couples celebrating major wedding anniversaries this year, all 60th anniversaries, how wonderful!


Happy 60th Anniversary to you all

Robin received  the Benton Recovery Award for his help in towing out those members stuck in the mud.  It was no trouble at all, he really enjoyed it.


Thanks for helping, Robin


Bev cutting the cake

The next morning our ICA Rally came to an end, we said our farewells and went on our way.  It had been great fun, and we enjoyed meeting up with everyone again.  Many thanks to Desma and Doug for all their planning and running another successful rally, and all those others who helped behind the scenes.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Heading away again

After all the terrible weather we’ve had lately it was a blessing for those strong winds to drop, and the heavy rain to stop falling.  We were heading away again, this time to join up with out ICA friends for a rally in Hawkes Bay.  And just because we could, we decided to leave a couple of days early.  The caravan was moved into the handy car park outside our home, making it so much easier to pack, and plugged into power to get the fridge cold. 


Getting ready to go

We were a little later leaving than we wanted, but never mind, we can stop somewhere on the way for a late lunch.  Up and over the Pahiatua Track, through Woodville and we pulled into a handy layby.  Look, I said, there's another Leisureline there too.  It was Bill and Val – who were also travelling up to the ICA rally.   Their lunch break was over, and they were ready to hit the road again, while we stayed behind for a while.  We’ll catch up with them later.


Lunch break and a little RnR

By the time we arrived at the Hawkes Bay Golf Club Bill and Val were already there and all set up. The club offers a small number of powered sites to visitors, and  now it’s winter, it is always good to get a power site.  We joined them for 4zees and discussed our respective plans for the next day or two. 


The next morning was rather misty and it took quite some time to disperse.  Mist always looks rather spooky, I feel.


A rather misty morning

After breakfast I took my camera for a walk to take a few photos.   The car park was full of keen golfers who had arrived for an early morning game on the tees.


Club rooms and car park

This row of sheds are rented out to golf club members, I found out, to keep their gear in.  Power is available to charge up their buggies too, seems a great idea to me.  I wouldn't have known this if I hadn't asked a lady golfer who had her door open and was organizing her gear for a game of golf.


Storage sheds available to golfers

Here we are, side by side, and a campervan arrived in the evening a well.


We met our niece Lisa (my late sister’s daughter) for lunch on Saturday, always nice to catch up with her.  Lisa had booked a table at Rosie O’Grady’s, and Irish Bar/Restaurant in town.  The food was delicious and quite reasonably priced.  The only downside was that they didn't serve coffee!


At Rosie O’Grady’s for lunch

On Sunday we move on to Eskdale Valley for the start of the ICA rally.  There is lots planned, so it should be a fun week.  But the rain has set in again, everything is wet and soggy again.  But we can be sure of a warm welcome from our ICA friends at the rally.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

AGM and Lunch

It was time for our annual Caravan Club AGM and for a change this was held at the Levin Cossie Club, instead of at a club rally.  This way, we could get the business done, then socialize together over a pleasant lunch.  The AGM took it’s course, minutes, correspondence and finances were dealt with, officers were returned, a couple of remits were raised, rally fees set, and then it was all done and dusted.  Bill wanted a minute to speak, and he presented our President Owen with a wrapped parcel, goodness, what could it be?  Beep, beep, honk, honk, it was a  little something for Owen to keep the members quiet when he wanted to speak.  Good one, Bill!


Just what he wanted, a pink hooter!

Then we all made our way to the dining room for our pre-ordered meals.  There was quite a variety and they were ready to be collected in no time at all.  Eyes down and eating, that certainly kept everyone quiet for a while.



In the dining room

There was a short committee meeting held after the lunch to plan the rallies for the year.  Others said their farewells and headed home.  Goodbye, goodbye, see you at the next rally.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

A Right Royal Weekend

For a change, there was no caravan club rally organized for the three day Queen’s Birthday Weekend.  Never mind, the weather wasn't too good, so it was quite nice to spend the winter weekend at home.  Over in UK Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Celebrations were taking place, whipping the crowds up into a frenzy.  New Zealand is a member of the Commonwealth, so there was plenty of interest here too.  And we have to say, no one does pageantry like the Brits, all that pomp and ceremony, red coats and plumed hats, horses, marching bands, and carriages on parade.

We watched the Trooping of the Colour from start to finish on BBC UKTV.  Must admit we had only caught a glimpse of this ceremony in the past, and didn't realize just how long it took.  We watched part of the Memorial Service, and caught a glimpse of the errant Prince Harry.  And saw some of the long, long, parade down the Mall, marveling at the Golden Coach.  And didn't the New Zealand soldiers do us proud, marching along as several Maori Warriors delighted the crowd with their antics.  But the highlight of the weekend was the Platinum Party at the Palace, starting off with the band Queen and the guitar majesty of Brian May.  Followed by other marvelous acts, some famous and some we hadn't heard of over here.  Even Gemma got into the spirit of things, as she watched Charles and Camilla from the coffee table.  No, she shouldn't have been there, but it was a  royal celebration after all, and she comes from a long line of revered temple cats, so the story goes.  Perhaps she is royal as well.

Gemma TV

Gemma is taking a a keen interest

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Weekend in Wanganui

Let’s go a day early to Wanganui for our caravan club rally, we decided, so off we went on Thursday morning. We stopped briefly on the roadside at Turakina for Robin to check on something in the van, and look, that’s us in the mirror o the road, fancy that! 


Stopped at Turakina

The trip up was rather windy, and we made our way to the Wanganui East Club, our venue for the evening, and we settled down for a late lunch.  Then  we discovered that we had forgotten to pack a very essential item, our WIFI router – that was a first for us.  Bill and Val arrived later in the afternoon, and we spent a good time having a great chin wag.  No other vans arrived during the afternoon, so we were the only people staying here overnight.


Staying at Wanganui East Club for the night

We had booked in to the club’s restaurant for dinner, and the eternal question was, what to choose?  A dozen battered oysters certainly got my attention, but at $75.00 or so they remained wishful thinking.  Our second choice of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, was much better value and very tasty indeed. 


Dining at the club

The wind gusts  rocked us to sleep and the sound of shunting engines woke us in the morning.  What shocking news we found out on Friday morning.  A tornado had wrought a trail of damage through our hometown of Levin at 6.30am ripping off roofs, uprooting trees, blowing over fences and sheds and throwing  trampolines around.  Some streets were closed, and several schools were also closed while they were assessed for damage.  A quick call to friends in our village reassured us that our home and archgola had not sustained any damage, but scarily the tornado had come within a few streets of us. 

Arriving at Whanganui Seaside Holiday Park it was easy to see that the heavy rain had left the ground sodden and full of puddles as we squelched around.  After a bit of tooing and froing we tried to dodge the rain as caravans were maneuvered onto sites, legs wound down, power plugged in we settled down for the weekend rally.  Our group was accommodated in two close areas, separated by a hedge.


At the motor camp

The camp has a large dining room available for us to use for our 4zees and morning teas.  In the warmer months there is patio seating outdoors, and a small pool for those brave enough to want to squeeze into their swimming costumes and take the plunge.  We sung Happy Birthday to Owen on Saturday morning, many thanks for the birthday goodies for morning tea, it was much appreciated.

Owen had arranged for us to have dinner that night at the Castlecliff Club, and the club shuttle bus came and collected us for a very reasonable cost indeed, that certainly saved us from driving down.  We decided on bacon, eggs, and sausage for Robin, and battered fish for me. 


Dining out again

There was a lot happening at our final morning tea on Sunday.  Owen had recently purchased a compressor for his tires and was keen to show us all.  Nice and neat and packs away in a sturdy case, ready to be brought into action if needed.  As it turns out, a couple of members also have one of these, so our group should be fine in case all our tires get let down.


Owen’s new toy

Also on show at morning tea was a wonderful painting.  Owen had commissioned Sue to do a painting of his shiny black Zodiac classic car, and she had done a marvelous job.  Helen and Owen have just the place to hang the painting at home, they assured us.


Well done, Sue

We said our goodbyes and headed for home.  It was still rather windy and we were caught by several sharp gusts of wind as we travelled, but made it home safely, thank goodness.  What a weekend it had been as far as the weather was concerned, wind gusts, rain, and that nasty little tornado here in Levin which damaged quite a few homes.  It was a relief to arrive home and double check that our property didn't sustain any damage.

On another note last week a small group of Committee members and spouses called in to see Selwyn and Cath at their home for afternoon tea, and a very special presentation.   Our President Owen presented Selwyn and Cath with a  Life Membership certificate to the Heretaunga Caravan Club, in recognition for their long, loyal service to our club.   This was a complete surprise to Selwyn, who had no idea this was coming, Cath knew but managed to keep it a secret.


Congratulations, Selwyn and Cath

Friday, 13 May 2022

Big Day Out

With the chance for a tour around the famous Weta Workshop, how could we say no to a Big Day Out organized by our Probus Club?  Yes, we had to set the alarm clock to make sure we were up, showered, dressed, breakfasted, and down town to get on the bus bright and early.  About 40 of us lined up, took our seats on the bus, and off we went to the big city, Wellington.  We travelled along the new Transmission Gully Road, a first for some of those on the bus, passing by the Rainbow Bridge.  The bus driver maneuvered the large bus around the narrow Wellington streets, and our first stop was to a short but rather steep walk up the hill to Antrim House in Boulcott Street.


Antrim House

Antrim House was built for Robert Hannah (of Hannah’s Shoes fame) for his family back in 1904, and the surrounding would have been quite different back in those days.  With no high rise buildings in sight, the views down to the sea would have been spectacular.  The interior is a warm glow of polished kauri and totara paneling, and features a lovely kauri staircase.


Front door, and tiled fireplace

After the death of Robert Hannah, the house spent some years as a hotel, and was later purchased by the Government to be used as a hostel for young men in the Public Service.  After much debate, it was decided that the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, now known as Heritage New Zealand, would be given Antrim House for it’s Headquarters, which seems rather fitting to me. After a couple of years of renovations, NZHPT moves in. 

Down the hill we walked to our next stop of St Mary’s of the Angels Church, built in the Gothic Revival style, and opened in 1922.  I can vividly remember my earlier (first) visit to this Catholic Church.  It was way back in October 1962, the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the world waited with baited breath,  we thought we were on the brink of nuclear war.  A group of my workmates and I decided to attend a church service here, to pray for peace, I was 17 years old at the time.  Even down here in far away New Zealand, we felt threatened by the unfolding events.   An American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba.   President Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba, to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. He demanded the removal of the missiles already there and the destruction of the sites. On October 22, President Kennedy spoke to the nation about the crisis in a televised address.

No one was sure how Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev would respond to the naval blockade and US demands. But the leaders of both superpowers recognized the devastating possibility of a nuclear war and publicly agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would dismantle the weapon sites in exchange for a pledge from the United States not to invade Cuba. In a separate deal, which remained secret for more than twenty-five years, the United States also agreed to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey. Although the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba, they escalated the building of their military arsenal; the missile crisis was over, the arms race was not.  How many can remember living through this troubling time?  The interior of the church is very peaceful, with many beautiful lead light windows.  After looking around, many of us were happy to sit and reflect awhile, after all, the world is still troubled by unrest in many countries and an unjust ongoing  war.


St Mary of the Angels

The bus was waiting outside for us, we climbed aboard and drove through the city streets.  The conversations were interesting, as people exclaimed of the new building erected since their last trip to the big city, replacing the places they knew in earlier years.  We drove around to Shelly Bay to our lunch stop, Chocolate Fish Café.  Those with long memories will remember when Shelly Bay was an Airforce Base.  Our bus driver expertly backed the big bus up beside the building, and as a nice touch, the staff came and put a step down for us, and welcomed is into their establishment.


Lunch time at Chocolate Fish Café

Our group was ushered into a covered courtyard, the heaters were glowing to keep the chill at bay, and we sat and pondered the menus.  Whitebait fritter sandwich was on the menu and it seemed that this was the most popular choice, with seafood chowder coming a close second.  Whitebait is a real delicacy, how often do we have it?  No wonder it was so popular – however Robin bucked the trend and went with a steak sandwich.  After our meals were cleared away, the staff returned with little dishes of chocolate fishes for us to enjoy, that was an unexpected touch, and very welcome.


Robin with our neighbours from the village, Bruce and Julie

The highlight of the day was our 90 minute tour of Weta Workshops, of Lord of the Rings fame.  Kevin, our very enthusiastic host, took us around the display rooms, explaining how the film props were made going through many stages  from conception to the finished products.  And those heads and bodies which the actors wore, turning them into monsters, all these took an awful lot of time to get in and out of.  As Kevin told us, since starting Weta Workshops , technology has come a long way in making these creations.  There is a full time sword maker on staff a required, and his original work of art is used in close ups by the hero and copies are made from this for the crowd scenes.  All very interesting and absorbing, and we were pleased to be able to handle examples of exquisite leatherwork, chain mail, and weapons as they were passed around.  Taking photos was limited to the reception room, and masks were required during our time here.  Our host wore a Weta Workshop tee shirt which declared  “Be creative and make cool stuff”.


Watch out, he’s right behind!

A weary bunch of OAPs climbed back into the bus, and some were sure to have nodded off as the bus took us home.  It was a great day out, many thanks to the organizers.