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

Sunday, 30 November 2008

We are the Champions

2008 Victorious All Blacks

The All Blacks have done it - they have completed the Grand Slam of Great Britain. I guess that goes someway towards for not winning the World Cup.

This year they have won the:

The Tri Nations against Australia and South Africa
The Beldisloe Cup against Australia
The Inaugural challenge for the Hillary Shield against England, and
The Grand Slam of Great Britain against Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.

I knew they were worth sticking with! GO THE ALL BLACKS!!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

We'll come back as a cat next time!!

Today was a lovely hot summer day, with birds singing away in the trees. What happens in our part of the world on a Saturday? (That is, when we are home and not away in the caravan). Much the same as anywhere else, we imagine. Robin did his share of the housework duty - his part is to clean the bathroom. Then after lunch it was lawn mowing time.

Jenny was busy too. After doing the washing, dusting and vacuuming she prepared and cooked some food to take away for a Pot Luck meal we will be attending on Sunday night. By then, the washing had dried in the sunny breeze so it might as well be ironed and put away. Robin's next chore was that very Kiwi male pastime, cooking on the BBQ. He did a good job of cooking the kebabs, steak and mushrooms. We dined "al fresco" on the back deck. By this time of the day, the sun had moved around to the front of the house, so it was nice and cool with a pleasant gentle breeze blowing.

Robin - the chief cook on the barbecue

Our cat Muffy, however, had quite a different idea on how she wanted to spend her Saturday. Here she is, stretched out on the bed, quite nice and relaxed. We've said it before and we'll say it again - next time around we will both come back as a cat!! What a pleasant life they lead.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Let's do Brunch

We met up for Sunday brunch with friends Geoff and Eileen at the Red House Cafe at Te Horo. This interesting old building is full of character and was used as a General Store and a Post Office in former years. These days it is a very busy and popular cafe, just the place for a spot of Sunday Brunch.

Red House Cafe in Te Horo

The main reason for our trip to Te Horo was a request from Geoff and Eileen to look through the digi photos of our recent canal boat trip, so we retired back to their house for coffee. The slide show of the Llangollen Canal brought back memories for our hosts as they had also experienced travelling along this waterway. With locks and lift bridges, tunnels and the two magnificent aqueducts of Chirk and Pontcysyllte, this most picturesque of canals criss crosses between the boundaries of Wales and England. The four of us have both had trips now on Gypsy Rover, owned by our mutual friends Dot and Derek.

Collection of brass plaques

We can only claim one narrow boat trip, but Geoff and Eileen are veterans of several different trips. They have an interesting collection of brass plaques purchased after the many canals and tunnels they have navigated. These plaques are usually attached to the owner's narrow boat, but as Geoff says, he doesn't have a boat. They make an attractive display of the wall instead.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Train Spotters

Robin was like a little boy who had wandered in to a toy shop today. We visited "Railex 2008", an exhibition of model railways, held at the Kennel Club building in Porirua. As a young lad he used to have his very own Marklin train set but that has long gone.

Families and railway enthusiasts alike crowded into the large hall to see the many kinds of model railways set against lifelike backdrops. Many of the local clubs had displays and there were vendors selling anything from books, railway caps, modelling accessories and rolling stock. With over 50 exhibitors there was something for everyone.

Check Out the Life Like Effects

Model trains come in different gauges (Jenny didn't know that) and the variety on show was amazing. We saw a tiny little steam engine blowing what looked like real smoke and sound effects as it chugged around the track. The now defunct (in real life) New Zealand Railway Railcars were doing their thing at another display. Hornby and Marklin trains were well represented.

Lower Hutt's Rocky River Set

Clearly the backdrops and accessories are just as important as the trains themselves, and all add to the fun involved. We saw the Rocky Mountains, New Zealand bush and coast, and European and English scenes. Hordes of children crowded around the display made entirely of Lego blocks and parts.

After a while Jenny left Robin to it and went in search of the cafe for a reviving drink. She had a chuckle when the two elderly gents sitting at the same table dipped into their shopping bags and eagerly showed each their train hobby purchases, just like a couple of girlfriends out shopping.

Train Set in Beer Crate

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Photo Frenzy

We have been tripping down memory lane lately. We have spent several evenings in a row checking out all the old photos. Robin's Mum turns 85 next month and the family has pooled together and bought one of those new fangled "Digital Photo Frames" for her. So of course, she will need some photos to play on it. Robin's two brothers and sister are all selecting their own family photos for inclusion. No doubt they have been reminiscing over all the old photos just like us.

Bonnie and Robin

Who is that young slim couple with lovely dark hair on all those early photos? Goodness, it's us!! And did you know that Jenny has never known Robin without a beard? There will be a few photos of this young clean shaven man included in the family photos.

Robin without his whiskers

The search goes on - we still have heaps of photos to look through. We have started with the oldest ones but still have plenty of more recent photos to choose likely candidates for inclusion. Think it will take many more nights of scanning till we are done, and many more memories!!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Four in a row

What a busy life we lead!! We have had trips away in our caravan four weekends in a row. We don't usually go away quite so much. No wonder nothing much gets done at home. Perhaps we had better stay home this coming weekend for a change.

Our last trip was over the Rimutaka Hill to Carterton Motor Camp, one of our favourite camps to visit. The new managers, Pete and Di, have done a great job since taking over the camp. After a lot of hard work on their part, the camp has now been awarded a Qualmark rating of 4 star plus. This is the highest rating a camp can achieve without a swimming pool on site - congratulations Pete and Di.

It was a busy weekend in the Wairarapa and the camp was quite full. As well as our group from the Heretaunga Caravan Club, there were dog owners and their pedigree pooches all hoping for a big win at the All Breed Dog Show held up the road at the Claireville Showgrounds. There was also a big group who spent a day in the sun at the Martinborough Food and Wine Festival, sampling all the world famous local wines. The rumour was out that the actor Orlando Bloom, of Lord of the Rings fame, was attending the Wine Festival. Wonder if any of the wine tasters saw him?

While we were sitting outside in the lovely Wairarapa sunshine, our blokes noticed a couple who were struggling to thread the rope of their awning onto the caravan. Quick as a flash, they all went over to lend a hand, taking a can of silicone spray with them to help with the job. With all these experienced caravanners to help, the job was soon done.

The big surprise of the weekend was when Geoff and Eileen arrived on Friday evening with a brand new caravan. They are now the proud owners of a 7 metre Swift Charisma, and very nice it is too.

And just to cap our weekend off, the earth moved when two earthquakes struck, both centred locally. Luckily they were quite small and no damage seems to have occurred. Whew!! Living here in the "Shaky Isles" we are always on our guard for the Big One.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Prize Winning Poem

To be absolutely honest, there were not any prizes awarded at last weekend's poetry reading evening. But.... Jenny is adamant that IF prizes were awarded, HER poem would have received one! Talk about being big headed. Ladies, let us know if this happens in YOUR household.

"A funny thing happens to my husband, you know
He puts things down, and where do they go?
He can't seem to find them, try as he might
Things just disappear, right out of his sight.

He rants and he raves, and I get the blame
Each item that's lost, it's always the same
He knows it upsets me, but can't seem to stop
This kind of behaviour is over the top.

It's not my problem, I tell him each time
If he can't find things, the fault is not mine
But then I relent, and for peace of mind
I soon find that object that he couldn't find.

When I lose my things there's never a fuss
I just quietly look and then sure enough
Sooner or later I stumble across
That very same item that once was lost.

In this respect, we're different you see
I'm calm and placid, but he's not like me
He's not a bad husband, as far as it goes
He just can't see what's under his nose."

Monday, 10 November 2008

Time for a Change

Kiwis went to the polls on Saturday to cast their democratic vote. The winds of change were blowing and it was out with the old and in with the new. After three terms in office, Labour was ousted by National.

In 1993 New Zealanders voted in a referendum to change from the traditional first-past-the-post (FPP) to Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP). Everyone has two votes, a vote for the party of your choice and another vote for your local member of Parliament. Proportional representation has allowed for members of the minor parties to have a voice in Parliament.

Did you know that New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote? The Electoral Act was signed in 1893 granting women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Flying the Flag for New Zealand

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Fireworks and Poetry

The snow dusted Tararua Ranges made a magnificent backdrop to our weekend rally site at the rural Koputaroa School, north of Levin late on Friday afternoon, a trip of 110 kms from Upper Hutt. We were there with the NZ Motor Caravan Assn to take part in the Wellington Area Guy Fawkes Rally. Over 50 motor homes were gathered for the weekend with just a handful of caravans.

The "Gunpowder Plot", as it came to be known, took place on 5th November 1605 when 36 barrels of gunpowder were placed in the cellars under the Houses of Parliament in London. There was a tip off to King James 1st and Guy Fawkes was found in the cellar with the incriminating evidence. The night that the Gun Powder Plot was foiled, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes.

All the various Guy Fawkes on the bonfire.

The children present at the rally worked really hard to make their own version of Guy Fawkes. We all gathered at a safe distance and watched as the bonfire and the various Guys was set alight and crackled away in the dusk. Note the steers in the photo, they soon moved to the far end of the paddock as the fireworks started!! As the sky darkened the fireworks were set off, lighting up the sky with brilliant flashes of colour.

Earlier in the evening everyone brought along a dessert to share and the tables were groaning with all sorts of delights. This was followed by a Poetry reading, and it was great to see some of the children present get up and recite their favourite poems. Jenny dabbles in writing poetry and took her turn with the microphone too - more about this later.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

It's our 25th Anniversay

Today is our 25th Anniversary. It certainly doesn't seem 25 years since we were wed!!!
To celebrate this momentous occasion we dined out at a local restaurant tonight which has "Hoover Hog" (roast pork) on their menue, a particular favourite of ours. This was followed by a wedge of decadent Chocolate Mud Cake and a glass of bubbly.

As we have not long returned home from our big OE, and with Christmas fast approaching, we have decided that we will postpone our Anniversary get-together with family and friends until early next year. So...... watch this space.

Yvonne presenting us with our Gift Vouchers

Last night we had a visit from our friends Rex and Yvonne, Calvin and Helen, on behalf of our SLG friends. They presented us with a voucher from the Restaurant Association to enjoy a slap-up meal sometime in the future. What a lovely gift, we really appreciate the thoughtfulness.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Visiting the Rellies

We travelled up to Hastings for the weekend to visit Jenny's sister and her family, a 600km round trip. They have recently moved into a property which has plenty of hard parking plus a power connection for our caravan. Don't suppose that this was the major consideration of the property transaction, but it certainly is very handy for us when we come to visit, with accommodation in tow!! Robin carefully backed the caravan up the driveway and through the wrought iron gates, and it just fitted in front of the garage.

Camping at the rellies house

It was great to catch up with Kathleen and the rest of the family again, as it had been a while since we had all got together. We enjoyed a very tasty barbecue meal on Saturday, prepared by Lisa, with Robin on BBQ duty ably assisted by young Kate. To return the favour, we cooked the family a breakfast of bacon, eggs and kranksy sausages on Sunday morning.

Kathleen, Lisa and Kate

Hastings, in Hawkes Bay, is one of the sunniest places in the country and is famous as a growing region for fruit and vegetables. Wine production is also another important industry. We went to the local Farmers Market on Sunday and joined the many locals checking out all the stalls. Lovely fresh fruit and veggies, cheeses, local meat products, cakes, bread and pastries, honey, jams and chutneys, it was a foodies delight. We did our bit for the local economy with our purchases and took home plenty of fresh produce, plus some specialty cheeses.