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

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Lockdown - Day Three

Is it only day three, seems much longer, but then we have been staying inside self isolating most of the week.  And today is a good day to hunker down.  The temperature has dropped, and it’s been raining quite hard. 

View out of our window

One of the downsides of being in lockdown is that our heat pump has not yet been fixed.  We will have to wait out the four week period, which may well be extended another couple of weeks, will just have to wait and see.  Then I hope we will get to see the repairman soon after when all non essential businesses are up and running again - hope the weather doesn’t get too wintry.

The Prime Minister and Government officials (Health, Police, Civil Defence, whoever is appropriate on the day) front a daily TV conference, telling us numbers of new cases, answering reporters questions.  We are encouraged to keep abreast of changes through the official website, Covid 19.  So we are kept well informed, and there is plenty of transparency on all the Government actions in this current State of Emergency.

And although we are in lockdown, we can leave the house to purchase groceries or medical reasons, go outside for exercise as long as we keep well distanced from others, but are to stay in our local communities.  I incorrectly  said we can go out for drives in the car in the last blog, this is not correct, as car trips must be for essential reasons only.  We are both pottering around and keeping busy inside.  There’s been several new recipes tried for dinner, one or two not worth repeating but at least we are trying new things.  Been keeping in touch with friends and family by phone and snap chats, so that’s good, even had a phone call from our Probus Club to make sure we were OK.  Stay safely at home everyone, and be kind to yourselves, and your housemates, we are all in this together.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Changing Times

Times certainly are changing these days with Government  interventions put in place to stop the spread of the Corona virus.  This weekend we were expecting to attend our Heretaunga Caravan Club Rally.  This was cancelled, and those scheduled in the near future, a prudent course of action after being advised that New Zealand Motor Home Assoc (NZMCA) have cancelled their own rallies.  The advice is:  “keep calm, stay safe and stay at home”.  The directives from our Government are that over 70s (that’s us), because many in this age group have underlying health issues, should be limited movement outside their homes.  Also all New Zealanders should be limiting their travel throughout the country because every unnecessary movement gives Covis 9 a chance to spread.  So there should be more time for this.

More time for cuddles

Gemma doesn't understand about this virus, but is always happy for more attention, and cuddles.  The various clubs and groups we attend have been put on hold, and the Levin Community Health Shuttle has just advised that all their volunteer drivers who are over 70 will be stood down for the foreseeable future to protect their health.  Robin usually has a Tuesday afternoon shift driving the shuttle each week. 

We are not confined to the house, can venture outside, or go for drives, or quick trips to collect groceries.  Just as long as we keep away from close contact with others.  It is terrifying how quickly the number of confirmed cases have risen from our first case , to over 60 now in a matter of weeks.  But we will keep calm, and carry on.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Lack of Communication

That’s what the serviceman told us, when he came to check out our heat pump and find out why it had stopped working.  Seems that the heat pump in the sitting room could not communicate with the outside unit.  So that was why it wasn't working – no speakies between them!  Nothing to do with the clean that Robin had recently done to the filters.  Further investigation confirmed that the fan motor had failed and that has shorted out the main circuit board.     And of course, the warranty had run out last year.  Sounds expensive, doesn't it?

Checking out what was wrong

Expensive or not, the heat pump will have to be repaired, with winter just a couple of months away.  We are awaiting prices for the parts and installation, so will take it from there.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Over the Hill to Petone

Our time at cold and blowy Cape Palliser had come to an end.  It was time to hitch up, in our case, or start the engines for the motor homes and head off to our next stop, up and over the Rimutaka Hill.  There was a Devonshire Tea waiting for us at Aston Norwood (formerly known as Kaitoke Country Gardens) at the bottom of the hill.  It was a bit of a juggle to get all the motorhomes into the carpark, with some electing to park beside the busy road.  There was a room set aside for us, with the tables nicely set.  This is the same room where we celebrated Robin’s 50th Birthday with family and friends, quite some time ago now.  We all enjoyed our tea or coffee, and freshly baked scones served with jam and cream.

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Devonshire Tea at Aston Norwood

The last stop on our ICA Rally “Art Deco to the Capitol” was at the Petone Rugby Club.   Although we had booked the car park space for the next two nights, that hadn't stopped the local workers from parking there early in the morning.   We all squeezed in as best we could, and when the last workers car had left for the day, rearranged ourselves a bit better.

At Petone Rugby Club

The Petone Rugby Club, known as the Home of Champions, has produced 30 All Blacks, 3 Black Ferns and 16 NZ Maori representatives. Andy Leslie  was the club’s first appointed All Black touring captain to Britain (1974) and South Africa (1976). Tana Umaga became an All Black in 1997 and became captain in 2004. As well as this Petone players have represented New Zealand at all levels of the game including Under 20s and Sevens.  We saw some of the youngers ones arrive for practice the afternoon we arrived.

Good keen rugby players

The next day a few of us took a trip around the Day’s Bay pavilion for lunch.  Days Bay and Williams Park have long been the place to go for a swim and picnic or in earlier times, a thrilling ride down the water shute.   Back in the heady years of 1907-12, thrill seekers flocked to a newfangled water chute that sent riders rocketing down a 67-metre drop in boats that hit the lake at speeds of up to 50kmh before bouncing them across to dry ground. The vessels held eight people and skidded off the pond below before skipping three times and delivering passengers back to terra firma.  But daytrippers faced a long queue before getting a ride – on fine weekends up to 5000 people travelled on the ferry from Wellington to Days Bay, attracted by what was then the largest water chute in Australasia.  What fun that would have been!

The famous water shute

Then we took a drive further round the bays to Eastbourne, as the others had not seen  the Wahine Memorial.  The sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine on 10 April 1968 was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster. The Wahine was within sight of land and many other vessels, including the smaller New Zealand Railways Wellington-Picton ferry Aramoana, which stood by to pick up survivors. Many were blown across the harbour towards Eastbourne Beach, an area with difficult access. Rescue teams found the road to Eastbourne blocked by slips. Eventually 200 survivors struggled through the surf to safety on this coast, but it was here that most of the 51 fatalities occurred. A number of people who reached shore alive did not receive medical attention quickly enough to prevent death from exposure. Others were drowned or killed when thrown against rocks.  This tragedy was a coming of age for television news broadcasting in New Zealand as images of the disaster were beamed into the nation’s living rooms. The footage was later screened around the world as the international media spotlight focused on Wellington.  What a terrible day that was.  I was home in Wainuiomata with my two young children, terrified the large picture windows on our new house would be blown out in the storm.  Robin was working in Wellington, and had to bunk down at a co-workers home as the Wellington Station came to a standstill and all trains were cancelled, buses too, road slips everywhere.


Wahine Memorial in Eastbourne

Later that evening we all gathered in the Rugby Club bar for our Farewell Dinner, catered by Chalet Caterers.  What a wonderful meal it was, a great array of dishes on offer, all cooked to perfection.  Bill and Val were thanked for their stirling efforts in planning, organising and running the three week ICA Art Deco to the Capital Rally and were presented with a token of our thanks.

Bill and Val

Everyone said their goodbyes, with a group of our happy travelers heading down to the South Island for a fishing adventure.  Some were staying locally for a few days to catch up with friends, and others, like us, were heading home.  We personally had a great time on this rally, going to some “new to us” locations and some old favourites.  It was our first time experiencing the Art Deco weekend, that was a lot of fun.  Many thanks to Bill and Val for all their hard work in making this ICA Rally such a success.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Ngawi and beyond

The weather was wet, rough and blowing a gale during our second day at Cape Palliser, no gathering outside for us.  After lunch things started to improve so we headed off to Ngawi, a small fishing village  just a short way up the road.  Ngawi has more bulldozers per capita than anywhere else, we read.  The bulldozers are used to haul fishing boats into and out of the water as there is no wharf or other access to the ocean other than the beach, which can be notoriously rough.  Ngawi is known for its exposed climate, its intense and prolonged wind and the fact that there are almost no trees nearby. The weather can be extremely hot in summer.  We parked on the shingle and went to check them out, beside the shiny red bulldozer dwarfing our car.

Bulldozers and fishing boats on Ngawi Beach

It was a few kms up the road to  see Cape Palliser Lighthouse,  perched high on a cliff, and owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand.  The lighthouse  was built in 1897 and was originally fueled by oil.  Several changes were made over the years, the oil lamp was replaced with an electric one powered by a local diesel generator,  later replaced by a connection to the mains grid in 1967, and the light was fully automated in 1986 and is now managed from a control room in Wellington.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

The base of the lighthouse is reached by climbing a staircase with 258 steps, up a 58 metre cliff. The staircase was built in 1912, and replaced a dangerous dirt track.  We decided not to climb the stairs this time, although we certainly did on our last visit here.  There were a couple of brave souls climbing very slowly down the steps, we noticed, perhaps they were having knee problems too?

The steps up to the lighthouse

There is a large fur seal colony in residence at the cape with the breeding season from mid-November to mid-January.   We saw seals on the rocks, and laying about, looking  fat and contented,  on the grassy shore.


New Zealand Fur Seals

This sign certainly piqued our interest- wonder where the house owner got it from?  We are sure there is no ice on this shore, falling or otherwise!

Sign at the beach

Our trip to the end of the road to see the sights  certainly blew the cobwebs away.  Then it was time to head back to camp and put the kettle on and warm up with a hot drink – this area has rather bracing conditions! 

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Cape Palliser

I must admit that I found a portion of the drive around to Cape Palliser a little challenging.  Wouldn’t you if you came across these road signs?  So we slowed right down, taking our time as we drove along this part of the road, well aware that the seaward side of the road had been falling into the sea, taking some of the coastal homes with it.



Once past the active slip, the cliffs were bare and crumbly, starkly beautiful in their own way.  Then it was around the coastal road to our POP for the night, we were staying on a rather windswept farm. Cape Palliser is the southernmost point of the North Island, and believe it or not, is in fact considerably farther south than either Nelson or Blenheim in the South Island.

Driving around to Cape Palliser

We all slotted into the paddock, trying to keep our van doors on the leeward side of the fierce wind.  Not that it really mattered, as the wind blew from the other side the next day.  Some hardy sheep wandered by, not at all bothered by these strange white vehicles in their paddock, and beef cattle grazed over the fence.

All hunkered down in the wind

A bit of clever parking with motor homes in a circle created an area sheltered from the wind.  During Happy Hour Bill and Val had us all play the “Money Game” for the grand outlay of 3 X 20 cent pieces.  Depending on the roll of three wooden marked dice, our 20 cent pieces were either passed left or right, kept, or put into the kitty.  It was a lot of fun, with Cathy being the eventual winner.

Cathie with her winnings

“Fish and Chips with a difference” was on the menu for dinner, ably cooked by Becky of Coastal Cove Cuisine, who brought her mobile kitchen with her to our campsite.  How’s that for great service!  Lovely battered fish, crunchy chips, coleslaw and tartare sauce were served, together with bread and butter produced by Bill, all enjoyed outside in the fresh sea air.  What could be nicer!


Al Fresco dining

The hills behind us took on a golden glow as the sun started to go down.  We had high hopes for a spectacular sunset, but that wasn’t to be, despite several of us looking out to sea with cameras in our hands, waiting…..  Perhaps we will have more luck the following evening.


Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Solway Showgrounds, Masterton

It was just a short drive to our next stop on our ICA Rally “Art Deco to the Capital”, staying at Solway Showgrounds for the next two nights.


Solway Showgrounds is a Category 2 historic precinct of 29 buildings, some dating back as far as 1878. The showpiece of the group of buildings is the restored grandstand, built in 1910, and the grounds themselves embrace about 2ha of the last remnants of lowland forest in the Wairarapa region.

Grandstand at Solway Showgrounds

Our group made the most of sheltering under the large shady trees for Happy Hour.  The clock has just ticked over to Autumn and already the ground is carpeted with fallen leaves.  These crunchy leaves almost want to make you to get out there and kick them around, and one afternoon a trio of ponies did this as they were ridden along the fence line, making quite a din as they trotted through the dry leaves.

There was no day time activities planned while we were in Masterton, so people had free time to shop to replenish their supplies, catch up with the laundry, or explore the area.  We took a trip to the Wee Red Barn and came away with punnets of delicious strawberries and blueberries, as well as some blackberry ice-cream.  That should see us right for a while.

Wee Red Barn

We finally have our new wheel, sent down to Masterton for us to collect from Bridgestone.  Robin got to work taking the spare wheel off and replacing it with the nice shiny new one.

Off with the spare

All this seemed to be done in a flash, not like the trying time when the wheel with the puncture and damaged rim had to come off on the side of road.

On with the new

With the spare wheel put back in place, we are ready for more adventures.

On our final night we gathered in the President’s Hall for a musical quiz, organised by Bill and Margaret.  Couples were mixed up and we were put in teams of four, two men and two ladies.  A little of each song was played, and we had to guess the song title and the singer.  Seemed easy to start with, but then it got harder.  My team won, comprised of Roger, Scotty, Val and myself, and we were awarded with a souvenir mug of our trip.  Just what I wanted to win!

Next morning everyone took off with a hiss and a roar, I looked up to find we were the last ones there.  Never mind, there were a few household chores to do, and we had an early lunch in these lovely surroundings before getting on our way.  Next stop is a POP at Cape Palliser, a new place to stay for us.

All alone at Solway Showgrounds