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

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

De Molen, Foxton’s Windmill

De Molen is a hidden gem in Foxton.  The  working windmill is used for grinding flour, and welcomes visitors.   De Molen was completed and officially opened on 13th April 2003. Built to plans and specifications obtained from the Netherlands, it is a replica of a traditional 17th Century Dutch flour mill.  The running gear, millstones and sail stocks were made and installed by Vaags Molenwerkn in the Netherlands, and the mill has been built using NZ-grown timber, by mainly voluntary labour.  De Molen is equipped with the latest design in composite millstones as well as two new experimental wind blades. 

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De Molen, windmill at Foxton

We had a family get-together over the weekend, on Robin’s side of the family.  We were camping in our caravan not too far away at  Foxton Race Course.  His sister Kaye and her hubby, who live in the South Island, had been on holiday further north and were starting on their journey home.  A couple of phone calls later we had arranged a lunch date with them, plus Robin’s brother Gary and his wife, who drove up from Levin.  We met for lunch at the Dutch Oven café, and had a nice meal and catch-up.

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The Dutch Oven

There was plenty to talk about, as usual.  Both Robin and I were adventurous and chose Dutch items from the menu, very tasty indeed.  Robin chose Broodje Frikandel, a Dutch style hotdog,  and I had Klein Ontbijt, ham, eggs & and imported Dutch cheese on toast.  It’s always good to try something new.  De Molen, The Dutch Oven and Millside Café are run by the same entity, The Foxton Windmill Trust Inc. which is a non-profit organisation. All proceeds go into the upkeep and running of de Molen.

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Ready for lunch

The weather was lovely so we had an outside photo as well, with the three siblings and Kaye’s hubby – who incidentally has Dutch blood in his veins but had never been to Foxton to see the windmill.

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Robin, Kaye, Jan, and Gary

We said our goodbyes and we all went our separate ways.  Kaye and Jan were staying the night in Wellington and booked on the Inter Islander Ferry the following day.  They were a little apprehensive as bad weather and high winds had been promised – could well have been a very rough trip.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Rally at Foxton Racecourse

It was just a short 25km trip up SH1 to get to our weekend destination at Foxton Racecourse for our caravan club rally.  This was a “new to us” venue, off power, but with toilet facilities and a meeting room available underneath the grand stand, which served our purposes very well.  Being a Combined Rally, we were pleased to welcome four caravans from the Wairarapa Club who joined us for the weekend.

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Staying at Foxton Racecourse

Friday night is sometimes fish nd chip night, especially when we are away.  This necessitated a trip down to Foxton Beach to visit Mr Grumpy’s Fish and Chip shop, world famous in this area.  In the height of summer, queues of keen customers have been known to stretch out of the door and along the footpath.  No generic battered fish here in the fryer, you get to choose which species you would like for your meal.  We ordered two fillets of blue cod, chips to go with it of course, and for something different, a side of battered cauliflower served with cheese dipping sauce.  Our delicious meal was taken back to the caravan and eaten with gusto.

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Mr Grumpy’s

The sound of galloping horses woke us on Saturday morning.  And there they go, around the race track, while others were patiently waiting their turn.

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Horses at the racetrack

Later in the morning I climbed up the steps on the grandstand to see what I could see, looking down at several of our vans parked at this side of the grandstand.  And that’s a lovely view over the racecourse.

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View from the top

Robin was busy in the afternoon doing an exercise when he measured  the total overall length of each van.  This included the draw bar, and any bike racks and spare wheels attached to the back of the van.  All necessary information to know when making a booking on the Inter Islander ferry.  As well he measured the tow ball weights using his tow ball scales.  The results were a surprise to some owners, it seemed.  Caravan lengths varied from 7.1m to 8.84m.  There was a huge variance in the tow ball weights, which ranged from 90kg to a whopping 370kg.

The weather was warm enough to enjoy 4zees (Happy Hour) outside.  Then we had use of the meeting room later when we all gathered to eat our dinner together, followed by a game of Card Housie.

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4zees time

Then later in the evening the weather turned to custard, as predicted.  Bad weather traveled up from the South Island,  bringing torrential rain and gale force winds.  A couple of our more prudent friends decided to head for home after dinner, just in case.  Luckily the rest of us saw the evening out without any mishaps, but we all packed up and got on our way on Sunday morning straight after morning tea.  The rain had eased by then, but as any caravanner knows, towing in strong winds can be a bit of a worry.  We made it home safely, and hopefully all our caravan club buddies did as well.

It was a great weekend away, always so nice to meet up with everyone again, and welcome our Wairarapa friends to our rally.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Happy Birthday

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It’s Happy Birthday to Robin today.

He’s another year older and still going strong. After cooking scrambled eggs for a birthday breakfast he had some “cuddle time” with Gemma.  She likes to jump on on his lap, then snuggle up on his shoulder while he is sitting at the table in the mornings.

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The birthday boy

We are having a quiet day at home, I’m sure there will be some sports to watch on the TV to keep him occupied.  Then we have booked a meal tonight at the local Cossie Club.  So no cooking for me and no dishes for him tonight.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Great Day for a Picnic

Waking up to another  glorious Wairarapa day on Saturday, the suggestion was to go visit Mt Holdsworth and take a picnic lunch.  Great idea, we agreed, as none of us had been there for quite some time.  And just look at the views we got of the sun glistening on the snow topped Tararua Ranges.

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We soon drove into the DOC Mt Holdsworth Tararua Forest Park.  Campers can stay overnight for a small fee, but it is free access for day visitors.  There are many walking tracks available, from short gentle walks up to much more rugged ones lasting several days.  Hunting by permit is allowed in the park, and back country huts high in the hills are available for hire for those on hunting trips.

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Mt Holdsworth information board

Our small group found a nice grassy picnic area and sat out in the sunshine.  Out came the lunch boxes and the thermos and we were soon happily tucking in to a nice hot cuppa and sandwiches.  It was so pleasant sitting there under the cloudless blue sky in the warm sunshine, enjoying the company and listening to the wonderful bird song.

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Our lunch time view

In the background we could hear the gentle sound of the Waiohine River, so some of us took the short, albeit a little slippery walk to find it.  Such a pretty sight.

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Waiohine River

We couldn't leave without a group photo – these always take some doing and are never accomplished the first time.  Get everyone seated, then Robin set up the camera, and hurriedly scuttled back to his seat.  This always seems more difficult than anticipated, and this snap is the best of a bad bunch.

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Out enjoying the fresh air and sunshine

On the drive back we stopped to admire a group of handsome looking black alpacas grazing contentedly.  They didn’t even stop munching on the grass as we stopped the car for a photo through the window.

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Back in camp the managers were busy preparing for an evening get-together.  Some of their guests had been in camp for some months during Lockdown and were finally able to continue with their plans.  Supper was being prepared, and a Karaoke evening was on the cards, we were told.

The next day we all packed up ready to leave, the wind had picked up, so we were lucky to have picked such a perfect day previously for our picnic.  The rain set in on the top of the Rimutaka Hill, and followed us for the rest of the day, and the temperature dropped lower and lower.  We decided to break our journey and spend the night at the NZMCA Park at Plimmerton, and drive home the following  day. 

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It was rather wet, cold and very crowded outside

The park was jam packed, crowded with members from the NZMCA Wellington Branch, who were there to help with a mass planting at nearby Taupo Swamp.  Over 1000 plants and trees were planted, we were proudly told.

Taupo Swamp (Ara Harakeke) is a nationally significant flax wetland located between the seaside villages of Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay north of Wellington. The 30 hectare wetland dominated by indigenous species is valued as a recreational asset and for its ecological importance as a habitat for sedges, flax, ferns, shrubs, and grasses.  The swamp is home to a number of threatened plant species, a habitat to bittern and a sizable population of fish such as brown mudfish, longfin eel, redfin bully and banded and giant kokopu. 

This area is also known affectionately as the “Royal Bog”.  The QE11 Trust was established in 1977 and was named after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second to commemorate her Silver Jubilee. In 1986, the Queen  visited Taupo Swamp to see the Trust's work first-hand.

It may have been cold outside, but Gemma was keeping warm and cozy inside the van.  Oh look, someone has left the wardrobe door open, that’s always worth exploring.

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What’s in the wardrobe, she’s thinking

After our usual Sunday morning bacon and egg breakfast cooked by Robin we quickly packed up and headed up the Kapiti Coast to home.  Not too far to drive, about 70km.  Robin was a little concerned about the predicted gale force winds, but we made it home safely.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Over the Hill again

It was time for another trip, we felt, so we decided to take ourselves away and headed off over the Rimutaka Hill to Carterton.   Hard to see much once we reached the top, with mist and low clouds swirling all around us.  Rather chilly too, with the temperature dropping to 5C.

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Covered in mist

As we drove down the hill into the Wairarapa the sun came back out.  Driving through the farmland and the small towns of Featherston and Greytown till we reached our destination of Carterton.

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Arriving at Carterton

This camp is offering winter Camp Saver charges which makes it very affordable at $20 a night on a powered site.  Barrier arms into the camp have been installed since our last visit here.

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This camp has long been  favourite of ours, and really looks a picture.  We met up with several other friends who were also looking forward to  a few days away.

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Carterton Holiday Park

Spring has certainly sprung and I was delighted to see several new born lambs in the adjacent paddock.  Gemma came with me a short walk but got rather upset when one on the ewes bleated her displeasure at seeing this feline so close by.  So it was a race back to the safely of the caravan for Gemma, well away from the protective new mother and baby.

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New born spring lamb

In the evening we went to a local restaurant, the Buckhorn Bar and Grill, which had a decidedly Western flavour.  The night was chilly so the roaring fire was rather welcome.

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The menu had a range of steaks, hamburgers, chicken and steak and kidney pie, all options quite reasonably priced, we thought.  Choices made, we all enjoyed our meals.  And, although the mains were very filling, we all decided on dessert as well, with Crème Brule and Death by Chocolate being the most popular.

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Dining at Buckhorn Bar and Grill

Monday, 31 August 2020

The Weekend that Was

We were suffering Caravan Club withdrawal symptoms with no rallies on the horizon and spent the weekend at home.  However, we seemed to fill the weekend up with good food, so we didn’t go hungry.  On Saturday Robin fired up the Weber BBQ and we cooked a tasty leg of lamb with roast veggies, so nice.  And the smell…..out of this world!  Even better, we purchased the lamb on special!

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Roast lamb on the BBQ, so tasty

Sunday mornings usually start with bacon and eggs for breakfast, our Sunday morning tradition.   Once again, the food didn’t disappoint.  It’s always a lovely leisurely start to the day.

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Sunday morning breakfast

I spent the afternoon making a few masks, as they seem to be required more and more.  A nice manly one – black with silver ferns for Robin, didn’t think he would appreciate pretty flowers, like my one.

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All masked up

So that’s what we have been up to.  The country is still in Level 2, so we can go out and about as long as we take precautions.  Such as sign in to shops, or scan the QR codes, practice social distancing, hand hygiene, and now masks must be worn on public transport, which seems a very sensible idea.  This is our “new normal” these days. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Trip to Johnsonville

It’s been a long time since we have last been to Johnsonville, near Wellington – we were going there to meet up with our SLG friends for lunch.  The weather wasn't at all nice, we could hardly see the hills through the rain.  Just as well we packed our raincoats in the car, just in case we needed them at our destination. 

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Not a nice morning at all

But the weather cleared as we drove down the Kapiti Coast.  By the time we reached Paramata, for a short stop, it had turned into a lovely day.  The boat sheds on the edge of Pauatahanui Esplanade made rather a pretty picture.

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We made it to Johnsonville with time to spare.  These days you never know if the never ending road works will delay the journey.  Johnsonville is  seven kilometres north of the Wellington city centre, at the top of the Ngauranga Gorge, on the main route to Porirua.  Johnsonville was originally the site of a Maori track from Wellington to Porirua and the area was covered in dense native forest.  In 1841 settler Frank Johnson had purchased a certificate of selection for 100 acres and called his land  'Johnson's clearing', He built a house by the Johnsonville stream and a timber mill, quickly denuded the entire Johnsonville area of virgin native forest, with timber sold to help build the nearby town of Wellington. In the 1960s, the first shopping mall in the Wellington region was built in Johnsonville.  These days Johnsonville is a busy residential and shopping town, close to the CBD.

The café was full to bursting so it was just as well Trish had booked a table for us.  I have never seen so many young Mums and babies all in one place, guess it was their regular coffee morning to come out for a mother and baby outing.  The food was delicious, but there was too much chatting going on for me to remember to take a photo or two.  Never mind, it was great to catch up with everyone again, and enjoy out leisurely lunch together.

After saying our goodbyes it was time to head home, and we decided to drive along the “old” main road rather than go on the motorway.  Narrow and windy, it was a pretty drive along the bush clad hills.  Eventually we reached Tawa, another suburban town not too far from the big city of Wellington.

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Taking the slow road

Then it was back on the motorway heading north, and up the Kapiti Coast.  Oh look, there’s Kapiti Island, nice and clear, free of the rain and mist which kept it from view on our trip down in the morning.

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Kapiti Island