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

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Cat in a Carton

The carton was finally emptied.  It was handed to us the day we collected our new van,   chocker-block full of manuals.  For all sorts of things pertaining to the new van, TV, oven, fridge, microwave, heater, lighting, satellite finder, roof vents, even the yet as untried washing machine.  You name it, we have a “how to make it work” manual for it.  They are now all tidied away in a folder.  And you know what cats are like with empty cartons, Gemma thought it was just for her to play in.

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Things are slowly getting sorted in the new van.  The long container for the waste pipes was removed from the back of the old van and is now safely attached to the new van.  The cupboards are relatively sorted, although their may well be a few changes down the track.  Various hooks have been fitted for me to hang things on them.  And the clock is on the wall and our Romany Rambler sign is now in place over the inside of the door.

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Ready or not, we are  gearing up for another trip away shortly, heading north.  We are off to new places on a new adventure.    

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Life’s a Beach

There certainly was quite a variety in the Wanganui weather during our four days away.  Strong winds, rain, sunshine, it certainly made for an interesting weekend.  By Friday, everyone had rolled into camp, joining us early bird campers who arrived the day before. 

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Some of our vans in camp

We provided Morning Tea on Saturday morning to celebrate my birthday, pikelets topped with raspberry jam and cream.  No, I cant take the credit for whipping these up, they were purchased, Robin whipped the cream and I did the honours with topping them. 

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Morning Tea Hostess

One afternoon we took a visit to Windemere Berry Farm and Café, and our group took over multiple tables.  Most of us purchased some yummy strawberries to take back to the vans, then we decided what to have for afternoon tea.  Instead of the usual offerings of tea/coffee and cabinet food, the two of us decided on a delicious berry fruit ice-cream each.  And look at these little cuties we found outside – alpacas have the most gorgeous faces.

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Windemere Café and a couple of alpacas

Saturday night was Rugby night, and the men folk were glued to the camp TV, willing the All Blacks to victory.  But it wasn’t to be – so the ABs won’t be winning the title three years in a row as everyone had hoped. Our caravan friends from the Wairarapa Caravan Club were also at the motor camp, so it was great to catch up with them over the weekend. 

Of course we had to have a trip to the nearby beach. With Life Guards on duty looking over swimmers during the summer, it is also a great fishing area, and there is a huge  adventure playground and BBQ facilities close by.

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Kai Iwi Beach

Gemma has settled down to life in the new van without any trouble.  As long as there is a sunny spot, she is happy.  Whether it is the sofa, the bed, or how about the bathroom vanity top for a change.  That way, she can keep an eye out the window for those birds which flutter by.

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I’ll just curl up here for a while

Several new members were inducted into our club on Sunday morning.  A very warm welcome to Annette, Pat and Thelma, and Murray and Sue.  May you all enjoy many happy caravan club weekends with our group.

Several of us departed for home on Monday morning, Labour Day, while the others stayed an extra day.  After a visit to the dump station, we drove over the interesting Dublin Street Bridge which spans the Wanganui River.  Starting off driving in showers, by the time we got home the weather had cleared.  Unpack, a quick clean, put the washing on, and we’ll be all set for another trip soon.  Although I must admit there are a few jobs which need doing.  Some drawers and cupboards will need rearranging, and I want to line the shelves with some of that non stick matting.  Then Robin will have to put some hooks up for me, we will get there bit by bit.

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Dublin Street Bridge

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Taupo to Wanganui

On our last night in Taupo we went out for our evening meal at the Cossie Club, to celebrate my birthday.  Certainly enjoyed a lovely meal – but then, the food is always great here.  We started with a huge whitebait fritter for our entre, big enough to share.  Can’t remember when we last had a meal of whitebait, but it was sure to be ages ago.  This was followed by Pork Belly, always a favourite of ours, and this tasted divine.

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Whoppa Whitebait fritter and Pork Belly

The next day, Thursday,  we started our trip to Wanganui.  Not a very pleasant trip at all with the strong gusty winds rocking the van around.  Traveling along the Desert Road the temperature kept dropping lower and lower, finally settling at 3 degrees!  The mountain was invisible, covered in mist and clouds, but I knew it was there, somewhere.

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Low of 3 degrees

We arrived at Kai Iwi Beach Holiday Park by mid afternoon.  Five other vans decided to arrive on Thursday as well, to make the long 3 day holiday weekend even longer.

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Kai Iwi Beach

Other members rolled into camp on Friday, and there was much catching up to do.  We were playing hosts as a steady stream  of  caravan club members called in to check out our new van.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Time for Another

Next stop on the trip was from Rotorua to Tauranga.    The Sat Nav took us here to RV Service Centre.  Look was was waiting for us.

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Our new Leisureline caravan, ordered at the recent Motorhome Show when  we went to in Hamilton about a month ago.  We attended the show with no intention of updating our caravan, but…….this one was calling our name.  With the paperwork tidied up, we then began the task of transferring our belongings from one van to the other.  Our legs really knew they had a workout, up and down the steps as we trudged from the old van to the new van, dodging showers as we did trip after trip.  Finally things were put into cupboards and drawer – we can make the final decision on moving things around later on.  The last thing to do was take armfuls of bedding over  – with the bed made up it looked like home.

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Wonder how many trips we did from the old to the new?

Finally we were done and we left the RV Centre with good wishes ringing in our ears, a bottle of bubbly popped in our fridge, and a free night organized for us at Papamoa Motor Camp.  Spending the first night in the new van close by gave us the chance to make sure things were working well. This is a lovely camp, with great facilities, and right on the beach.  It’s sure to be full to the brim with campers over the Christmas holidays.

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Papamoa Beach

Gemma wasn’t at all disturbed by the new van.  The bedding was the same, so she soon decided to settle down and have a snooze.  A sniff around here and there and she soon found her feeding bowls, and her dirt box.  Nothing to it, she spent some time looking at birds out the windows, had her tea, cuddled up with us for a while, everything was fine in her world.

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Happy in the new van

The next morning we returned to the RV Centre as arranged to have a grab handle installed which the factory had forgotten to do.  Robin was not happy with the way the rear view camera was working, this was discussed at length and we are waiting on a satisfactory fix.  Time to hit the road again, stopping at Lake Rotoiti for lunch.  This lake is extremely popular with anglers wishing to try their luck in catching either a brown or rainbow trout – or maybe one of each.    

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Lunch stop at Lake Rotoiti

You know Taupo is very close when we cross over this pretty little bridge by the Prawn Farm.

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Almost at Taupo

And before too long we were pulling into the NZMCA Park at Taupo Airport again – yes, were we here only a few days ago, but it is a handy place to stay on trips up and down the country.  The drive down had been a little tense with wind gusts making towing difficult from time to time.  Then a news item told us that Tauranga was the windiest place in the country today – yes, we could believe that.

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Back at Taupo Airport again

A new van deserves a new Log Book, as we like to record the distances we travel each trip.  In the five years we had our previous van, we traveled almost 30,000kms.  That’s a lot of trips away around our beautiful country. 

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Sunday, 20 October 2019

A Working Holiday

For this trip we are away for 10 days or so, leaving on Friday in the pouring rain.  By the time we pulled into Taihape for our lunch stop the weather had cleared.  I set out our lunch while Robin went to the handy coffee cart next to us. “Keep an eye on that rubbish tin”  he instructed, while we ate our lunch in the van.  Seems that a very cheeky blackbird had discovered that people deposit left over food in the bin and he flutters down inside to have a forage around.  We saw him exit with a chip in his beak, but never when the camera was ready.  What a clever blackbird!

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There’s a blackbird in this bin

We like to have  the radio on while we are traveling, tuned to Magic which plays “all the songs you know and love”.  And look, they're playing my extra special favourite song, Ten Guitars.  I love it so much I’ve told the family I want it played at my funeral!  This song was such a hit out here when it was first released it became known as The New Zealand National Anthem.

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I know all the words to my favourite song

Driving along the Desert Road we got good views of Mt Ruapehu, with it’s top covered in snow.  Those clouds looked threatening, and as we traveled further along, the mountain top became obscured with cloud cover.

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Mt Ruapehu

We followed behind this sign on the litter collection van for a while until it was safe to pass him.  Never seen one of these before, but it’s good that our hi-ways and bi-ways are being kept clean.  Mind you, if people didn’t litter, we wouldn't need staff picking up after them.

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New (to us) sign

Before too long we arrived at our site for the night, NZMCA Taupo Airport.  Those dark clouds brought heavy rain during the night, beating on the roof and leaving big puddles everywhere.  The weather wasn’t right for sky diving, but we watched a couple of planes arriving and departing, and there is always action from the helicopters next door to the camp.

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At Taupo Airport

Next morning we drove from Taupo to Rotorua, about 100kms, and quite a pretty trip traveling through rolling farmland and forests.  Everything looked so green and fresh.

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On the way to Rotorua

Can you see the Skyline Gondolas snaking up and down the hill?  It’s been some time since we’ve had a trip on them, might have to plan another ride sometime soon.

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Skyline Gondolas at Rotorua

Almost there – drove through the cute little village of Ngongotaha and we arrived at the Ngongotaha NZMCA park, where we are staying for the next two nights.

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Staying at Ngongotaha

That’s where the working part of this holiday came in.  The caravan got a “deep clean” as some people say, instead of just a spit and polish.  Everything got a wipe down, the insides of drawers were washed, as were the base of various cupboards.  With all this activity happening, Gemma wondered what on earth was going on.

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What are you doing, Mum?

And the reason for all this extra activity?  If you don’t already know, pop by tomorrow and all will be revealed.

Monday, 14 October 2019

CHCH Earthquake Exhibition

Last week we met up with our SLG friends for Helen’s outing, driving to our former home town of Upper Hutt.  We met at Expressions  Gallery and enjoyed a coffee and a catch up before going on to view “Beyond the Cordon”, an exhibitions of photos of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake which cause so much destruction.  The magnitude 6.3 earthquake killed 185 people and injured several thousands.

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The 22 February 2011 Canterbury earthquake triggered the largest emergency response operation ever seen in New Zealand.  The task of visually documenting the rescue and victim recovery operation in the weeks following the earthquake fell to New Zealand Police photographers. The 23 photographers, the only photographers with long-term access to the central city throughout the following weeks, took every opportunity to record what they saw, including aspects of the operation that would rarely be documented. The photographers faced hostile conditions: smouldering rubble burnt through their boots, shards of concrete went flying as diggers cleared sites, and there was always the threat of aftershocks as they perched precariously on collapsed buildings.

The iconic and much loved Christchurch Cathedral lost its spire and suffered substantial damage, made worse by later aftershocks.

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Christchurch Cathedral

Poplar Lane, with it’s quaint boutique bars and restaurants housed in brick buildings was extensively damaged.  The police photographer was struck with the untouched message on the wall amidst all the debris

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Poplar Lane

Many countries sent Urban Search and Rescue Teams to help in the aftermath.  Teams arrived from Australia, UK, USA, Taiwan, Japan, china and Singapore to join the New Zealand teams.  A total of 579 workers  made Latimer Square their home for several weeks following the earthquake.

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Tent City for US&R workers

Access to the Pyne Gould Corp Building was a challenge to the rescue and recovery teams.  Crane operators were a vital part of the effort, with cranes often providing the only safe access to parts of the site.

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PGC House

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Never ending job for the workers

We needed cheering up after the exhibition so were more than happy to continue on to Fig Tree Café for lunch.  After an initial mix up with the table booking, we settled down, placed our orders, and enjoyed our respective lunches.

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Lunch at Fig Tree Café

This café was my favourite when we lived in Upper Hutt, and we were very partial to their Eccles Cakes.  Alas, they had sold the last ones, we were told.  But the owner was happy to whip up a new batch for me, if I wanted.  Of course I did - how’s that for service.  So some freshly baked Eccles Cakes in a brown paper bag came home with us - bliss!  Then it was around to Helen and Calvin’s home for afternoon tea and the draw for the following year – we two drew out next April and May.  That will give us time to think where we will take our group when our month rolls around again.  Thanks to Helen for a great day out.