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

Friday, 30 December 2011

Attractions at Castlepoint

We weren’t the only ones enjoying a trip to Castlepoint beach recently.  Youngsters in wet suits ventured out with their boogie boards for some fun in the waves, hoping to catch a decent  wave for a good ride back.  There were plenty of people paddling in the shallow water as they walked along the beach, most of them seemed to be accompanied by children and the family dog. 
As well as the beach there is a lagoon protected by a rock barrier which is a popular and safe swimming spot for youngsters, and is next to the adjacent boat harbour.  Close by are the large boats and their equally large trailers from the local fishing fleet.  Some of the outfits were self propelled trailers with six wheel hydraulic drive, impressive. There must be some serious money tied up in these machines.
We watched as a driver on a blue tractor backed a trailer down to the beach, taking it  right out into the waves as the respective fishing boat came in.  The skipper of the boat has to drive the boat up into the trailer, and once safely in place, the tractor driver puts his foot down and carries the fishing boat safely ashore.
PC280665 Coming ashore
Castle Rock  was so named by Captain Cook as the rock formation on the skyline looks like a castle when viewed from the sea.  Keen climbers tackle this peak and we could see them as tiny dots in the distance.
DSCF8569 Castle Rock, the lagoon,  and the fishing fleet on the beach
While we were climbing up to Castlepoint Lighthouse, Derek had fishing on his mind.  He had recently purchased a surf casting rod and decided to try his luck fishing off the rocks while we laboured up the lighthouse track in the hot sun.  Alas, it wasn’t his day, and the fish weren’t biting at all, so there was no fish on the menu that night.
DSCF8580   That’s Derek on the right
After all our exertions it was time to stop at the local shop to enjoy an ice-cream.  Pamela is recuperating from surgery so wasn’t able to join us on our trek up to the lighthouse.  While the rest of us were out and about in the hot and blustery conditions she was very sensibly relaxing over a freshly brewed coffee in the cafe.  There is plenty to see and do at Castlepoint Beach and the 175km round trip took us through rolling farmland, hills covered with native bush and planted in pine forests.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Castlepoint Lighthouse

The decision was made – let’s take a picnic lunch and drive out to the coast to Castlepoint.  Perhaps we will go for a dip (or not) and maybe even climb up to the lighthouse.  We drove through rolling farmland, dotted with sheep and cattle, and paddocks filled  hay just cut and bailed for winter feed.  Manuka trees on the hillsides were covered in snowy white flowers and no doubt hives were dotted nearby for the bees to gather the nectar to turn into delicious manuka honey.  We ate our picnic lunch looking out over the beach, with the lighthouse beckoning us in the distance. 
DSCF8553 Our first glimpse of Castlepoint Lighthouse
Four of us decided to make the trek up to the lighthouse.  There was a sign warning of windy conditions so we were pleased that we had brought warm jackets and would have to hang on to our hats. 
DSCF8560 Strong wind warning
The concrete path was new and replaced an earlier timber staircase and raised timber boardwalk over the sandy spit which is under water at high tide.  It was a popular walk and we passed lots of family groups wending their way up and down the path.  Luckily the grade was quite easy and we made it in good time to the lighthouse.
DSCF8563Follow the path to the top
Built in 1912, the cast iron tower stands 23 metres high and the light can be seem 30 km out to sea.  The light originally burnt oil and now operates on mains electricity using a 1000 watt lamp with a diesel generator for standby power.  It was fully automated in 1988 and the light is now monitored by computer by Maritime New Zealand staff. 
DSCF8573  Castlepoint Lighthouse
DSCF8574Dot, Jenny, Robin and Don buffeted by the wind
We were intrigued to read a sign about “Brachyglottis Compacta” a rare bright yellow daisy with silvery leaves.  Castlepoint is the only location in the world where this daisy grows naturally.  It grows well amongst the crumbled limestone habitat and the blustery conditions.  Would we be able to spot this rare plant?  Dot quickly found the first bush so out came the cameras.
PC280675The yellow daisy only grows in Castlepoint
As we walked back down the track I noticed that there were a few twinges in my knees – a sure sign of advancing years.  It was a lovely walk, with glorious views out over the beach and village.  Surely after all that exercise we deserve an ice-cream?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New arrivals in Camp

After a few days of camping side by side at Carterton Motor Camp with Dot and Derek, we were joined by caravan club friends Don and Pamela – and then there were three of us all in a row. 
DSCF8544 Our three vans all in a row
The three men all wrestled to put Don’s large awning up, and after a few mis-starts and a change of plan here and there, the job was finally done.  This awning will give us some cover in the evenings if the weather turns cold and nasty.
DSCF8541 Don, Robin and Derek helping with the awning
Also arriving in camp on the same day were four vehicles crammed with children, bikes, tents and supplies.  These people had obviously been away camping together before and we watched from under the shade of our gazebo as the large tents were expertly erected in no time at all, with a minimum of fuss.  Then a huge white gazebo was erected and we just had to go and see what the story was.  They were very friendly and chatted away, telling us that their group of friends (and their children) go camping every Christmas, choosing a different location each year.  The gazebo is their camp kitchen and dining room, we were told, and was set with camp tables and chairs all ready to serve meals to the 20 or so people in the group.  As their group has grown over time, the equipment has become more sophisticated.  One of the group, a blacksmith  by trade, had designed and built a trailer to house all the kitchen equipment for the holiday.  It contains drawers for cutlery, pace for crockery and containers of food, and it all folds up neatly to be towed.  We were most impressed with this clever piece of engineering.
DSCF8546Custom made catering trailer
We continue to enjoy hot sunny Wairapapa weather, so there is no trouble getting the washing dry.  After all, just because we are on holiday, doesn’t mean that the laundry duties don’t get done.
DSCF8542 Never ending laundry duties
The sun lit up the drops of water as the hose sprinkler watered this part of the garden.  Carterton Motor Camp is one of our favourite camps, and is very well maintained by managers Pete and Di.  

Monday, 26 December 2011

A Day of Two Halves

Romany Rambler: Travelled 19681Km; 326 Nights Away
Christmas Day was certainly a “day of two halves”.  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of hot croissants stuffed with ham and cheese as we sat outside at the motor camp.  Several hours later the delicious smell of bacon filled the air as Robin slowly cooked our chicken breasts wrapped in bacon on the barbecue for Christmas lunch, and some prawn kebabs.  Served with an assortment of salads, it was a meal fit for a king, or in our case, fit for campers.  As Dot and I had both made a different version of trifle each, we had to try some of each for dessert.  Thank goodness for the shade from our gazebo on such a hot day.
PC250652   Our Christmas lunch in paradise
After the lunch dishes had been done, and a change of clothes, we set off to visit Robin’s family who were having a Christmas get-together in Palmerston North.  The main route across the Manawatu Gorge has been closed due for several months to a major slip, so we drove along one of the lesser roads, the Pahiatua Track,  to cross the Tararua Ranges.
DSCF8528 Road closed – detour
All the younger family members we setting off down to the river to cool off when we arrived.  The large house that Robin’s brother Neil and his family live in has had an interesting life.  Built in the 1930s as an orphanage for the Anglican Church, it was later sold to the Catholic Church and is now owned by a property developer.  It has 19 bedrooms, and a huge lounge, kitchen and dining room.  These days Neil and Michelle run it as a hostel for overseas students.  One of the young cousins visiting for the day always refers to it as the “Haunted House”.
PC250653 Lots of shoes in this household
DSCF8516 Brother Gary, Brother-in-law Jan, sister Kaye, Robin, brother Neil
After a pleasant couple of hours catching up with the family, it was time to start our drive back to the motor camp.  We decided to travel along the other lesser road, the Saddle Road, which crosses the Ruahine Ranges and comes out at Woodville.  The wind turbines from the Apiti Wind Farm cover the hills of this region, and we watched as the blades slowly spun in the breeze.  They almost have a mesmerising effect to them.
PC250658 Wind turbines on the hills
The Saddle Road is quite steep and very windy and the turbines were everywhere.  This one seemed to be right in front of the road.
DSCF8521 Oops, hope we don’t hit it
Our 250km  round trip gave us a good opportunity to check out the state of these lesser roads as we had heard that they were both suffering quite a bit of damage.  With the Manawatu Gorge being closed for some months, all the heavy trucks now have to travel across both the Pahiatua Track and the Saddle Road, causing quite a bit of wear and tear on the road surfaces. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Setting up Camp

Romany Rambler: Travelled 19681Km; 325 Nights Away
The Rimutaka Hill Road wasn’t too busy at all when we towed our heavily laden caravan up, over and down the other side.  The extra weight comprised of our big awning, and a gazebo to give us shade in the hot Wairarapa sun.  Adding to the weight was a lot of extra holiday food, a box of presents to open on Christmas morning, and a fair amount of bottled beer for Robin to enjoy over the Christmas break. The first small town on the Wairarapa side of the hill is Featherston, and the traffic was stopped to allow a freight train to hurtle by on it’s way to the big city of Wellington.
DSCF8427 Stopped for the train at Featherston
Muffy enjoyed her road trip sitting on the centre consul and keeping an eye out on the scenery flashing past.  She certainly travels much happier when she is in the front seat with us.  She is kept securely in place with her lead hooked through the seat belt  to ensure that she will not smash into the window if we have to brake suddenly.
DSCF8430 Safely secured in place
Driving through rural Wairarapa we saw paddocks with bales of hay all ready for next winter’s feeding out.
DSCF8435 Bales of hay
We arrived at Carterton Holiday Park just before our friends Dot and Derek who drove down from Alfredton.  In no time at all their motor home was on site and hooked up, while we struggled under the hot sun to slide the awning rope in the guide track, and attach the walls.  The four of us were needed to help with our gazebo, which opens up like a huge umbrella.  We each grabbed a corner, and walked out as the gazebo unfolded itself.  This will give us much needed shade as we relax in camp with a cool drink in our hands. 
DSCF8447 All set up for Christmas
Pete the Manager came over for a chat and decided that one of the trees was overhanging the site and needed to be trimmed.  In no time at all he was up a ladder with a chainsaw and down came the offending branches.
DSCF8440   Pete trimming the tree
Dot and Derek had never unfurled the sun shade in all the months they had been using their new motor home so this was the ideal time to try it out.  Dot was armed with a can of insect spray as she was sure that a whole load of nasties would fall out once the sun shade was rolled out.  Luckily not a single insect jumped out at us or else they would have been severly dealt with.
DSCF8444   Here it comes
DSCF8445Almost there
Summer time is barbeque time and steak was on the menu for our first night in camp.  Derek christened his brand new barbecue and he was the man in charge of the tongs.  
DSCF8448 Derek’s in charge of the steaks

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Up the ladder and behind the lawn mower

Another busy day for the man of the house today.  He was up the ladder for an hour or so this morning, with me there holding the aforementioned ladder steady for him, then declared “that’s enough painting for today!”  The grapevine needed pruning, so that was done.  Add to that the never ending chore of cutting the lawns, and you can see why Robin is out on the back deck enjoying a cold beer.  It’s certainly been a busy day, we even sneaked in a little bit of last minute shopping, and the 4WD is all fuelled up for our next trip away.  The caravan is still only half packed, but it’s much too hot now, so we can do the rest in the morning.
DSCF8415 Pruning the grapevine
DSCF8416Lots of fruit set on the vine
We wish all our readers, friends and fellow bloggers a safe and happy Christmas.  If you are travelling on the roads, do go carefully.  Watch out for those other idiots who seem to think that caravans shouldn’t be on the roads at all - shades of Jeremy Clarkson who has a real grudge against them.  

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A touch of green

After a little break with a couple of rainy days then weekend visits to both sides of the family, Robin is back in the painting mode again.  He is pleased to report that the four walls of the house have received their four coats of paint.  Now he is doing the fiddly bits down low and up high, and adding a touch of green.  It may have taken a bit of bending and kneeling, but the base boards were quite easy to paint.  The formerly white plastic cover over the gas meter is now painted green too, mind you, it was rather splashed with coloured primer.
DSCF8408 Painting the base boards
I joined the work crew today and held on to the ladder for stability while Robin was reaching for the stars.  Or maybe that should be, reaching for the barge board.  The apex of the house in the front is quite high and he has a fear of heights.  After applying a little bit of putty to fill up the cracks that time and weather have created, the next job was to sand it down and make it nice and smooth again.  (It’s not easy taking a photo with one hand while holding on to the ladder for dear life with the other hand). 
DSCF8420 Sanding down the barge board
Then the first of the top coats was applied, changing the colour from the original yellow to green.  It was a matter of climbing up the ladder, working on the bit he could reach, climbing down again, moving the ladder along, and starting all over again.  No wonder he was complaining of sore legs.
DSCF8421 Up the ladder painting
All this took a couple of hours, with me there to help hold the ladder steady.  Robin is not really comfortable up a ladder, so I was happy to help and offer some support.  The sun comes around to the front of the house in the afternoon making the conditions too hot to add the second coat, so we will repeat all this tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, the lawns need mowing.  Oh dear, I think he needs a holiday.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Does a red one go faster?

Robin has been doing some research lately, checking out mobility scooters.  No, not for us, although he seems to think that having one could well be fun.  His Mum has recently sold her car, and was hankering after a scooter.  Robin found a good second hand scooter from a reputable dealer, and after consultation, was given the go-ahead to purchase it on his Mum’s behalf.  He collected it and brought it home.  Vroom, vroom, it certainly worked OK, and he gingerly rode it around our back deck.
It had a basket in the front, and a pack on the back of the seat, so there was lots of room for his Mum to put her shopping.  There was even a holder to slip her walking stick in so she could carry it safely.  And with a fluttering flag for added visibility and safety, it should be just the thing for a jaunt down to the shops.  We delivered it to her and Robin ran over the instructions with his Mum.  It’s a wee bit to get your head around at first, but with a bit of help she was raring to go.  The first challenge was to ride out of the garage down the driveway which has a small slope.  That was a bit scary the first time for her, but after a couple of practice rides she was soon getting the hang of it.
DSCF8401 The first ride
Bonnie had several runs around her complex and had no trouble at all on the flat.  In fact, she rather enjoyed herself.
DSCF8402 Whee, this is fun
Perhaps something like this will suit us in years to come?  How about one each?  We could just imagine the reaction we would get if we arrived at a caravan rally towing this behind us.
 imageA sign of things to come

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Trip to Kiwitea

We took the little blue car on our trip to Kiwitea, north of Fielding, yesterday, a round trip of  375km.  This gave us a chance to catch up with daughter, SIL and grand-daughters, as we were going in different directions over the Christmas break.  First stop was just after Sanson to have a good look at the Centennial Memorial, something we have driven past many times but never stopped at before.  
DSCF8365 Centennial Memorial
DSCF8366 Wonder where these go?
DSCF8367 The view from the top looked over the rolling Manawatu farmland
Son-in-law Robert was busy in the garage doing some maintenance on his hay bailer.  With any sort of machinery, maintenance must be a never ending job.  Robert is a very handy type of Kiwi bloke who can turn his hand to most jobs.  At least he was out of the cold Manawatu wind that seems to blow ceaselessly in this part of the country.
DSCF8369 Robert working on his hay bailer
We arrived carrying gifts for the family, which were placed under the Christmas Tree till the big day.  There were some for us to take home too.  Daughter Nicky decided we needed to have a “special” lunch and prepared a very dainty High Tea, complete with a three tiered cake stand, bite sized savouries, scones with jam and cream, and dainty cups and saucers. 
DSCF8371 High Tea Kiwitea style
Trying to get a family photo was easier said than done.  First we had to get everyone in the same place at the same time, then they had to have a happy face on and look as if they really wanted to have their photo taken with the grandparents.  Luckily Megan’s friend was there and she took charge of the camera and snapped merrily away until the the mission was completed.   Imagine how much harder it would be if the grand-children were still little toddlers.
DSCF8391 Robin, Emma, Jenny, Nicky, Robert and Megan
Then it was time to say our goodbyes and head back home.  Babe the Border Collie was there to say goodbye.  She is a very old lady now and instead of barking lustily when visitors come and go now (something to do with now being deaf) spends her time curled up asleep somewhere warm.  She was a rescue dog and has enjoyed a very full and busy life with the family, she is now approx 18years old which is very old for a big dog..
DSCF8393 Robert with Babe
We took a detour on the way home to check out a domain that we could camp at sometime in the future.  This one looks very nice with a handy toilet block and a big band of shelter trees to keep some of the wind out.  We will have to see what the rules and regulations are to stay here overnight.