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

Saturday, 16 January 2021

What we’ve been up to

Not a lot, as it turns out.  We decided not to attend the Drop-In Rally between Christmas and New Year this time, so this was a  quiet week at home.  Then, we just puddled about, a few little day trips, mainly because we were waiting on the mail for upcoming hospital appointments for each of us, really didn’t want to miss that.  My one came through, and Robin’s is still in the pipe line, as expected, he had been told his one would take a while.

We have been to the movies twice recently, I went to see “Blithe Spirit” with a friend, a piece of classic Noel Coward writing.  Then yesterday Robin and I went to see the Aussie film “The Dry”.  A little slow to start, but once it got going we found it really enjoyable.  Two crimes were solved (one current and one 20 years old) by a detective who returned home for his childhood friend's funeral after many years away   Well worth seeing, and we never picked “who dunnit” at all.

So now we are getting ready for our first trip away in 2021.  Our Jeep has been serviced last week, so that’s a job well done.  And Robin has been busy giving the caravan a wash today.  He started fairly early in the morning before the temperature reached the expected 25 degrees.  We will be away for three days  next weekend over Wellington Anniversary Weekend, not too far away, which is always a bonus.


Hard at work

Saturday, 2 January 2021


New Year’s Eve was quietly celebrated at home, just the two of us - we are well past the age where we need to go out and kick up our heels!  So what did we do?  We enjoyed a nice homecooked meal of Satay Pork and rice, eaten outside in the warm evening under the Archgola.  This was followed by an extra  piece of my birthday carrot cake which I had hidden away in the freezer for such an occasion, coffee and liqueurs. Coming inside a bit later to watch a little TV, I lit my pretty candle, a gift from one of the granddaughters – it created a flickering ambience and smelt nice too.  So that was our New Years Eve, hardly a raucous affair, and we didn’t even make it till midnight!


Flickering candle light

More celebrations happened on New Year’s Morning when we enjoyed a Bubbly Breakfast outside, must admit that the weather has been rather pleasant lately, except when that pesky wind gets up.  Hot croissants with ham and camembert, washed down with a glass or two of bubbly, what a way to start the New Year.  Just as well we weren’t driving anywhere.  This breakfast brought back memories of the bubbly breakfast we shared with Bill and Val in Gisborne, the first place in New Zealand to see the sunrise, way back in the year 2000.  Remember that – it was predicted that terrible things would happen, planes would fall from the skies, ATMs wouldn't work, all because of the Y2K bug!


A toast to 2021

Robin was getting a bit stir crazy after being home all week, after all, we are usually off and away in the caravan this time of year.  He really needed a drive, he told me, so we took a trip up to Viv’s Kitchen in Sanson.  And found a car park right under the sign.  It may look fairly empty here as we were heading home, but we had to squeeze ourselves in when we arrived.  Everyone else seemed to have  the same idea as us, so the café was crowded with customers all out enjoying themselves.  .


We indulged in an early lunch, panini for him and quiche for her.  Viv’s Kitchen is famous for cream horns, but we couldn't go past these delicious chocolate eclairs!  We will have to stop eating all these extras, they can’t be good for us.  I think that’s quite enough New Year's celebrations, don't you?


Lunch at Viv’s Kitchen

So, a quick look back at 2020.  We enjoyed a 3 week ICA trip in February that took us from the Art Deco Festival in Napier (a first for us), Hawkes Bay, Kairakau, Cape Palliser, Masterton and back to Petone for the farewell dinner.  We had a blow out in one of the caravan tires on this trip, so that was quite a shock.  Luckily several of our group stopped to help put the spare tire on. 

Then a couple of weeks later, the country was in lockdown, hoping to stamp out the Corona Virus.  Every weekday PM Jacinda and Dir Gen of Health Ashley held daily briefings on TV when we were informed what was happening.  Our borders were closed, and we all learned new words,  bubbles, clusters, social distancing, PPE, and the like.  The virus seemed to rage on for a while, and sadly got into a rest home or two but with the “team of 5 million” doing their bit to bring it under control, we had minimal deaths here, compared to other countries.

Easter was spent at home, no caravan holiday, and slowly restrictions eased.  Being in the vulnerable over 70 age group, we had to learn how to order groceries on-line for home delivery, and generally laid low for weeks on end.  Even when restrictions had eased, we were reluctant to mingle with crowds again.  Our caravan club president Barry organised our first Zoom meeting and we had a socially distanced Happy Hour in our village.  My daughter sent me a care package of flour when I was unable to purchase any, seems that all the stay at homes were baking up a storm while home schooling during lockdown.

After three long months the caravan was pulled out of it’s storage spot and backed into the car park outside our home.  It was time to get ready for a three week trip away. So where are we off too?  Hamilton to get the caravan serviced, Opotiki to meet up for a ICA Rally, through the Wairarapa for our caravan club rally, and places in-between.  It was great to be on the road again.


Things slowly returned to normal, and the country went to the polls in October, returning Jacinda and the Labour Party with a healthy majority.  I celebrated my 75th birthday that month and made sure I had several outings.  After all, if I’m going to turn that old, I really need to celebrate, that's my view anyway.  Caravan rallies continued, and before we knew it, Christmas had arrived.

We wish all our friends, readers, and bloggers a safe and happy 2021.  This year has certainly been different, but living here in New Zealand, we have escaped the worst of Covid, although we must not become complacent, we are told regularly.    Keep safe, and keep on keeping on.  Happy Travels to all.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

The Week In-between

Christmas Day has been and gone, almost a week ago now – and we’ve eaten the gifts of fudge and chocolate!  Our Christmas Day started with our family tradition  breakfast of hot croissants filled with ham and cheese, followed by a pot of  coffee.  Then we joined friends Dot and Derek and son Brent for Christmas Lunch out at a local restaurant, The George.    With three lunch sittings, the place was heaving with people, most of them oldies out with grown children, it seemed, and some of the patrons looked so much older than us, we commented.


Christmas Lunch at The George

The food was certainly very tasty with plenty of variety, and I loved being able to choose delicious cooked salmon for my Christmas Lunch.  Robin decided on the more traditional beef, hot ham and roast chicken.  Finished off with Christmas Pudding and custard, so yummy.   I’m easily satisfied and didn't bother with the pavlova, fruit salad, or cheesecake.  Although dining out was very nice for a change, I think we prefer staying home and cooking up a fancy BBQ  - we will probably do that next year.  

And how about our very own Christmas Tree over the back fence?    Pohutukawa trees produces a brilliant display of red flowers made up of a mass of stamens, and is an important symbol for all New Zealanders. In Maori mythology, its flowers are said to represent the blood of a young warrior who perished while trying to avenge his father’s death. When Christian settlers arrived in New Zealand, the blossoming of this species’ bright red flowers in December and January inspired its alternative common name of the New Zealand Christmas tree.


Pohutukawa tree over the back fence

For a change, we decided to stay home between Christmas and New Year, and we are relishing the peace and quiet.  We felt quite smug watching the evening news on TV showing  long queues of cars trying to leave on their holiday trips.  Robin has done a couple of outside jobs, spraying Miss Muffet’s Revenge on the under side of  the Archgola with gay abandon .  Those spiders are very industrious so this may well take care of them for a while.  Then the canvas seats on the patio chairs got a good scrubbing, and were put out to dry.


Ad just what is my ironing board doing outside with it’s legs in the air?  It didn't take too kindly to being leaned on rather heavily and I seemed to have snapped the legs.  Once more, Robin came to the rescue and fixed it for me.


Doing odd jobs

New Year’s Eve will be a quiet affair at home this year, celebrating with a nice home cooked meal and a bottle of bubbly and something tasty for supper – that's all the excitement we need these days.  Once again, it will be good to stay off the busy roads.  Wonder if we will be able to stay awake till midnight?  It never used to be a problem when we were younger, we remember.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Brunch Time in Feilding, and catching up with Sis

Last Sunday we had a trip to Feilding – we were “doing Brunch” and exchanging Christmas gifts with daughter Nicky and her girls.  Meeting at Focal Point Café, we pondered the menu, and made our choices. 


Jenny, Robin, Megan, Nicky and Emma

With a table of mostly girls, there was plenty of chatter going on.  Such as Christmas tasks still to do, Christmas Day menus, time off from work.  As we told them, being retired, life is one long holiday!


Family  brunch in Feilding

Named after Colonel William Henry Adelbert Feilding, this is an interesting town with a rather handsome clock tower slap bang in the centre.   The Feilding clock tower once stood on the Post Office until that building had to be demolished following damage caused by a strong earthquake in 1942. Placed into storage, decades later it was finally restored and given a new home in the centre of the CBD in late 1999.   Feilding has won the annual New Zealand's Most Beautiful Town award 16 times. 


Feilding Clock Tower

The iconic Feilding Sale yards were established in 1880, when 100 head of cattle were sold.  In earlier times these sale yards were considered to be one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with 489 pens covering 3.7 hectares.  Visitors can take a guided tour and learn the fascinating history of selling livestock, one of New Zealand's oldest traditions, and wander through the sheep pens to watch the auction process in action. Then take a seat in the state of the art cattle rostrum and view the latest computer technology on hand.  This tour is still on our “must do bucket list” – it’s just a matter of making a plan and booking ahead.


Feilding Sale yards

The Sale yards Silhouette, designed by Jackie William in 2002,  was funded by the Feilding Livestock Centre and the local community.  It commemorates the shepherd and drovers, together with their horses and dogs, who from 1876 mustered and drove the sheep and cattle to these sale yards.


Sale yards Silhouette

Last night Robin’s sister Kaye (from Nelson) came to stay before traveling up to Taupo.  The spare bedroom went through a bit of a transformation.  The fold up Murphy bed is a rather clever design, looking just like a free standing wardrobe.  Then it pulls down into a comfy double bed, just the thing for those short on space but still wanting to accommodate the occasional overnight guest. 


The Murphy bed

It was so nice to have Kaye come for an overnight visit.  Living down in the South Island we don't see a lot of her, so we had a great catch-up.  And she brought gifts, flowers for me and a bottle of wine for Robin.  Our cat Gemma was rather taken with Kaye – I mentioned that she should feel honoured, as Gemma has been known to be rather stand offish to visitors before, and not want to have anything to do with them.


Kaye and Robin

Saturday, 19 December 2020

SLG Get-Together

Our December get-together with our Super Leisure Group friends was Robin’s to organise.  With being away for the previous three weeks, he hastily made a booking for lunch, choosing to dine at Paraparaumu.  About halfway for us all, we drove down from Levin, and the others drove up from the Hutt Valley. 

Although Paraparumu is about 45km from home, we left bright and early, allowing extra time for heavy pre-Christmas traffic and the never ending road works.  And wouldn't you know, we were so early we decided to venture into the Mall to fill in some time.  Malls are not our favourite place to be, but this one has a real attraction, Butlers Chocolate Café.  What would be nicer while we wait than a cup of Hot Chocolate, served with a complimentary chocolate of our choice.  Butlers Chocolates began life in Dublin's Lad Lane in 1932. The company was founded by a pioneering woman called Marion Butler who named her luxury chocolate creations Chez Nous Chocolates. Marion established the company in the heart of fashionable Georgian Dublin, making her delicious confections by hand.


Butlers Café

As we enjoyed our morning indulgence, we watched as a steady stream of people came and went from this establishment.  Butlers really is a popular café, and the locals at the table next to us confided that they like to support local business and come each week for their chocolate fix!


Time for a hot chocolate

With lunch time approaching, we made our way to Breakers Restaurant to meet our friends.  We reminisced how we had dined here for Christmas Lunch with friends Graeme and Katherine some years ago when the restaurant was a Cobb and Co.  But now it is part of the Breakers chain, decorated with a sun shine and surfing theme.


Breakers, Paraparaumu

It was nice to welcome everyone again, catch up on news, and begin the task of “what to have for lunch”.  Orders ranged from fish, pork belly, hamburgers and steak.


Lunch at Breakers

The meals were very nice, and several decided they still had room a little room for dessert.  Just look what Ashley ordered, a “Double Donut Sundae” – we were all interested to see what it actually was!  Ashley was not deterred at all by this large dessert,  and he ate every bite. 


Ashley’s Double Donut Sundae

After our leisurely lunch, and tea/coffee we wished each other well for the Christmas break and headed on our way back home.  So nice to catch up with our SLG friends again.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Food, glorious food

It’s been a busy old time lately with the build up to Christmas.  We enjoyed two consecutive dinners out last week.  On Thursday evening the Rangeview Ladies Luncheon Group went out for a pre-Christmas Dinner, taking our husbands with us.  Then the following evening the Menz Shed members had another dinner, and invited their wives.  Both were very tasty meals, most enjoyable, but for whatever reason, no photos were taken.  And on Sunday mornings we always enjoy a tasty bacon and egg breakfast, cooked by Robin.  Usually at this time of the year, we can purchase Free Range double yolker eggs from the local supplier.

Now the temperatures are warming up, it’s time for the occasional BBQ meal.  Our latest one was a small rolled pork and roast potatoes and kumera cooked on the Weber, so delicious and it smelt wonderful too.  While Robin was in charge outside, I was cooking up extra veggies on the stove top.


BBQ time

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but just to remind you, the Horowhenua area where we live is full of market gardens.  Shirley’s Strawberries is a favourite of ours, and during the season we often call in to replenish supplies.  As well as being freshly picked and delicious, they are very reasonably priced too.


Yummy local strawberries

Another favourite place to visit is Lewis Farm, not too far from us,  which grows asparagus.  The season is in full swing and the factory is full of seasonal workers.


Asparagus everywhere

Lewis Farms also grow strawberries, and make their own ice-cream.  They are branching out into raspberries, we discovered, so we will have to watch out for them when they are harvested.  Robin sat outside at the picnic tables and  ate his strawberry ice-cream with gusto during our visit, while I had a freshly brewed coffee.

Asparagus Farm

Coffee at the Asparagus Farm

And on the menu for dinner tonight is Asparagus Quiche using some of that freshly picked asparagus, and blackberry crumble.  Sounds good to me, and I don’t think we will be going hungry.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Christmas Rally at Rangiotu

Our caravan club Christmas Rally was held in the grounds of Rangiotu School, which was closed in 1996.  The area was known for many years as Oroua Bridge, but officially renamed Rangiotu in honour of the local Rangitane chief Hoani Meihana Te Rangiotu.  Strong winds were moving the pine trees around, and we watched and commented just how far those tree trunks were swaying without snapping off.


A bunch of happy campers at Rangiotu

Morning teas and 4zees were held outside, huddled in the shelter between two vans as we tried to keep out of the wind.  As usual, the men gathered for a catch up and a bit of male bonding, nothing wrong with that at all.


Robin, Pat, Owen, Don, and Dennis

And then I caught Geoff and Robin down on the ground as they peered under the back of our van.  Goodness knows what that was all about!


What's happening here, I wonder?

There was a DIY evening meal planned for Saturday evening in the small hall.  A coupe of us decided to BBQ in the rain, luckily the awnings kept us dry.  Our meal was a little bit fancy, this was the first time we had cooked rack of lamb on the Weber.


Rack of lamb and roast potatoes

We called around to see what Owen was up to, he was cooking for four on his BBQ.  Doesn’t he look great in his Merry Christmas BBQ apron?  And you can just see a little of his flash new shirt, purchased at the Beach Hop and covered in cars.


Owen at his BBQ

In the hall the tables were pushed together to make one long one, with decorations down the middle to make it festive, and a Christmas tree twinkling in the corner.  We all ate our meals together, drank a glass or two of wine or bubbly, and finished our meal with a dessert of strawberries and ice-cream, supplied by the club.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed a Christmas Mince Pie for morning tea, followed by a dish of the remaining strawberries and ice-cream, then all packed up and went on our homeward journey.  Many thanks to the committee, and especially Barry and Dianne for a wonderful Christmas rally.  See you all next year!!