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

Friday, 30 September 2011

Sailors in town

Wellington Harbour was a hive of activity today as almost every vessel in the Royal New Zealand Navy has arrived in Wellington Harbour, providing a "once in a lifetime" chance to see the fleet.  The fleet's arrival is part of the 70th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy's founding on 1 October 1941. The ships have been practising both night-time manoeuvres and daytime exercises in Cook Strait. 
Eleven of the Navy's ships arrived in Wellington today

Arriving in Wellington – Courtesy Chanel 3 News

The huge impressive HMNZS Canterbury was so long it almost impossible to photograph.  This is a multi-purpose vessel used for military sea lift and ship to shore disembarkation of troops and vehicles.  There are helicopters and landing craft on board, and training and patrol duties are undertaken.
DSCF7539 HMNZS Canterbury
The smaller vessels Hawea and Pukaki breasted up together.  These are in-shore patrol vessels which undertake fisheries and customs duties around New Zealand and the southwest Pacific.  We found a young sailor aboard who patiently answered our questions about the “rigid hull inflatables” we could see on the deck.
DSCF7538 Sailor onboard HMNZ Hawea
HMNZS Te Kaha is part of the combat force, together with Te Mana.  These ANZAC-class frigates are armed with a 5 inch gun, torpedoes, air defence missiles, and close-in weapons systems for self defence.  The frigates carry a Seasprite helicopter armed with air-to-surface missiles.
DSCF7549  DSCF7551 Views of HMNZS Te Kaha
Seemingly oblivious to all the people thronging around the harbour, this sea bird was sunning itself on a rope.  Our trusty bird book confirmed that this is a Little Pied Cormorant. 
CormorantLittle Pied Cormorant
We left the waterfront to attend a meeting six floors up at the Amora Hotel, and enjoyed a light luncheon at the conclusion, with the mainly senior attendees making short work of the assorted sandwiches, sausages rolls and lamingtons.  Looking out the hotel windows we had a birds eye view of the mighty Canterbury in the wharves below.
DSCF7558 View of the wharves from 6 floors up
It was interesting to note that the French Rugby Team were staying at this hotel, and we brushed shoulders with several who were hanging around the entrance as we entered the hotel.  Their team bus was parked outside, ready and waiting to whisk them away as required.
DSCF7560 The French Rugby Team bus
Back on the wharf again on our way back down to the station, we came across an ice skating rink which certainly was a new feature since our last visit.  A large group of teenagers were having fun as they skated around.  There was a large refrigeration unit keeping the ice frozen.
DSCF7567    Ice skating on the wharf
Our last bit of excitement for the day was watching the Rescue Helicopter come in to land on the wharf.
DSCF7564 Air Rescue Helicopter
The Camper Van park on the wharf was doing such good business that it had a sign up saying all the sites were booked.  This is such a handy spot for visitors to Wellington, as they can leave their vehicle here safely in the middle of the city and take buses or trains to get around.
DSCF7571 Motor Home Camp on the wharf
The ships will be open to the public during the weekend.  On Saturday, October 1, about 400 Navy personnel will parade down Lambton Quay following a ceremony at Parliament to change the Navy's Queen's Colour, a ceremonial flag symbolising the Navy's relationship with the Queen. King George VI gave approval on 1 October 1941 for the title Royal New Zealand Navy to be used. Then on Monday October 3 the fleet will anchor in formation in the harbour and the ships will be reviewed by our new Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae. The vessels will  then depart for operations in South East Asia, the Solomon Islands and around the New Zealand coast.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Wellington Coastline

Our Wellington weather has been glorious – so nice that after leaving Weta Cave with all the various monsters behind we decided to find a nice sunny spot at the beach to enjoy our picnic lunch.  We checked the conditions at Shelly Bay, but the cool wind was blowing straight in, so we continued on around the coast and stopped at Scorching Bay.  This was much better, we had left the wind behind, so out came the picnic rugs and we settled ourselves down on the low wall, to enjoy the sunshine and the fresh sea air.  But what is this trotting across the sand – is that a group of frogmen?  They were well kitted out in wet suits with air tanks on their backs.  We decided that it was probably a group going out for some underwater training.  The group quickly entered the water, and disappeared before our eyes, with only the marker flag on the surface showing where they went down.
DSCF7502 Frogmen on the beach
DSCF7506 And in the water
The Inter Island Ferries passed by as we ate our lunch.  This one was heavily laden with motor homes travelling down to the South Island.  The passengers will be pleased that they had a nice calm day for their journey as the Cook Strait can be very rough and wild on occasions.
DSCF7509Bluebridge line going south
P9280260Motor Homes on the deck
P9280259Kiwi Rail Interislander ship returning to Wellington
People were paddling in the shallows, and there was a spirited game of rugby taking place further up the beach.  A few curious gulls were looking for a free lunch, but we had eaten ours, so they missed out.
DSCF7508Red Billed Gull
After our leisurely lunch we continued on our drive around the bays, stopping at Seatoun to show Dot and Derek the Wahine Memorial, as they had not viewed it before.  The sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine on 10 April 1968 was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster, with a loss of over 50 lives.  It occurred during one of the worst storms recorded in NZ history.  This was a “coming of age” for television news broadcasting in New Zealand as images of the disaster were beamed into the nation’s living rooms. The footage was later screened around the world as the international media spotlight focused on Wellington. Would-be rescuers stood helplessly on the beach at Seatoun, and it seemed impossible that so many lives could be lost so close to shore. Many survivors and bodies were washed up on the opposite coast at Eastbourne.  Volunteers with four wheel drive vehicles were pressed into service to aid the rescuers get around the rocky coastline.
 The+wahine+disasterThe Wahine on Barretts Reef
DSCF7511 Robin and Derek looking at the chain and anchor at the Wahine Memorial
We continued with our coastline drive and stopped at Lyall Bay to check out the  20 or so surfers enjoying the big waves, all within sight of Wellington Airport. 
DSCF7516 Surfers ride these waves close to the airport
The sound of sirens shattered the peace and a posse of motorbikes and police cars with flashing lights surrounding a couple of government cars drove up to us, and around the corner.  One motor bike parked right in front of our cars, blocking off the road to traffic.  What on earth was going on?
DSCF7517 Road Block
As we saw little flags fluttering from the cars, we presumed that it was a group of VIPs going to the airport to board a private plane.  That was certainly a bit of excitement to finish our day.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

What’s new at the Weta Cave?

Weta Cave, situated in Miramar, Wellington,  was overflowing with a whole bus full of school kids from Hawkes Bay when we arrived with friends Dot and Derek.  The kids were in the middle of a group photo shoot with one of the staff members adding some Weta flavour by brandishing a huge firearm as a prop.  The school kids duly boarded their bus to continue on their sightseeing trip, and the gun was kindly handed over to our guys to pose with for own own photo shoot.
DSCF7493 Outside Weta Cave
The massive gun was made for the film District 9, and there was quite a display of them inside.  With names such as Incinerator, Gas Projector, and Arc Generator, they certainly sound very lethal, must have made quite an impact in the film.
DSCF7494 Display of District 9 firearms
I can remember my son reading Tintin comics as a youngster, and the stories are currently getting a new twist.  The Steven Spielberg film showing the adventures of popular Belgian comic-strip hero Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy will be released later in the year, with designs by Weta Workshop and digital work by Weta Digital.
DSCF7495 Tintin  and Snowy
Tall hulking Lurtz from Lord of the Ring fame glowers down at all who enter the Weta Cave, so we just had to have our photo taken with him.  We made sure we didn’t get to close as a sign warned us, “Do not climb on Lurtz – Weta takes no responsibly if he bites you”.  Lurtz does not appear in the LOTR book - he is a character created specifically for Peter Jackson's movie.
DSCF7497He’s right behind you!
One of the highlights at the Weta Cave is the small theatre which screens a behind-the-scenes look at Weta and interviews with Weta co-founders Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk. The creativity and imagination starts at the design studio, and moves through to sculpture, props, make-up, costumes and clothing.  Making miniatures is also a a big part of Weta Workshops, as is Weta Digital.  The film plays in a comfortable 48 seat theatre, with the props adorning the walls adding to the atmosphere.  Weta cave is a little gem, a wonderful showcase to all the talent involved, and entry is free.  Put it on your “must see” list next time you visit Wellington.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Wee Red Barn Revisited

Leaving the dolls behind in Ekatahuna on Sunday, our group travelled south along State Highway Two and our next port of call was the Wee Red Barn.  Anne was organizing our day and had arranged for a wine tasting.  Alan, the friendly Scots owner, recognised Robin and me from our earlier visit a couple of months ago.  He explained the different varieties of wine as he poured out tastings of Wee White, Sauv Blanc and Riesling, then moved on to a red or two, all the time keeping up a lively patter in his  broad accent.  His lovely Kiwi wife Dot then came to take over the shop counter duties, leaving Alan free to take our group outside on a wee farm tour.
DSCF7482Have a wee drop of my wine
We noticed that Alan had been very busy around his property during the previous few months.  He had recently planted a couple of garlic varieties and they appeared to be growing well in their plastic covered beds.  The secret to garlic, he told us, is to plant on the shortest day, and harvest on the longest day.  He was also trialling raspberry canes planted in plastic bags full of coco-peat, a by product of coconut husks.
DSCF7484 Three rows of leeks with raspberries in bags on the right
7000 raspberry canes are grown under cover to protect the soft fruit from rain.  The plastic roof cover was flapping like crazy in the strong Wairarapa wind while Alan explained how the raspberry canes are cut back and removed each season, allowing the new growth to develop.  As well as raspberries, Alan and Dot grow strawberries, blackberries and boysenberries.
P9250255 Raspberry canes under cover
We came across a duck nestled up to the raspberry canes.  She had made a nest and laid her clutch of eggs.  She wasn’t very impressed with our lot coming into her area and scuttled away.  Hopefully she settled down when we moved on, and went back to her nesting duties.
P9250257White duck nesting amongst the raspberry canes
Everyone has to have a hobby, Alan told us, and these pigs are his hobby, and we could tell he is very proud of these healthy, happy pigs.  The large sows came running up, squealing with delight, when Alan filled up their trough.  Several little piglets were running around, but wouldn’t stay still long enough to get their photos taken.  The pigs have hearty appetites and eat lots of food waste, including food scraps from the nearby school.  Nothing goes to waste here, left over vegetables keep the pigs happy, and the fruit which is not up to standard provides the ideal ingredients for Wee Red Barn jams and wine. 
DSCF7487 Piggy dinner time
All the animals are for the visitors to come and see, to touch, and talk to.  As well as the pigs (always my favourite, I’m a pig lover too) there are chickens, ducks, a goat, and we saw a cute little bottle fed lamb too.  He had finished his bottle but was wanting more – and now, please!   We finished our visit with a few purchases back at the shop.  Some of Dot’s delicious jam came home with us, plus a couple of lovely fresh leeks.  Won’t they taste nice with some cheese sauce? 
Alan and Dot were looking forward to travelling down to Wellington later in the afternoon to barrack for Scotland playing Argentina in the Rugby World Cup.  Sadly for all the Scottish supporters, their team did not achieve the expected winning result this time.  

Sunday, 25 September 2011

What’s to see in Ekatahuna?

Ekatahuna is a small town in northern Wairarapa – one of those places you usually drive through to get to wherever it is you are going.  Perhaps a quick stop at the public conveniences, or maybe to buy an ice-cream or cold drink to enjoy in the car as the journey continues.  The giant kiwi dressed in an All Black jersey welcomed visitors to his town.
DSCF7480 Welcome to Ekatahuna
We were in Ekatahuna to visit the Waieka Country Garden, a labour of love for Joy and Bruce Cole.  The garden started life as a small area of paddock back in 1981, and just kept growing and growing. It has evolved into seven “rooms”, that flow from one to another.  White doves cooed softly in the aviaries, not at all bothered as we peered through the netting at them.
DSCF7472   Doves in the aviary
Spring blossom adorned some of the trees, while others were heavily in bud.  Sunny yellow daffodils popped up here, there and everywhere throughout the different areas  of the garden.  It all looks quite different in summer we were told, when the bare branches are covered once more in many different shades of green.  
DSCF7477 Spring blossoms
Joy loves her garden but admits that the bad weather can ruin many a dream, with storms, heavy frosts, and strong winds taking their toll on her precious plants.  But she perseveres, and once the sun returns, is back out again, hard at work again.   She has planted a huge array of trees and shrubs, and has decorated the garden with all sorts of quirky ornaments.  Bruce enjoys working with his hands and constructed this shade house after being inspired by a trip to Europe.  There are seats inside, to sit quietly enjoying the filtered sunlight on a hot sunny day.
DSCF7479 One of the many garden features
We ate our picnic lunch on our hosts deck, all rugged up in jackets to keep warm.  Even though it was a sunny day, the wind had quite a bite to it.  Out came the sandwiches and thermos flasks, and I took along a home baked chocolate cake to share with everyone for afters.
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Time for lunch
Another of Joy’s passion is her doll collection, all 2000 of them.  These are  beautifully displayed on shelves, in prams, and sitting in highchairs.  Most of the dolls have been purchased at markets as “pre-loved” and she enjoys dressing them in new outfits to suit each particular doll.
P9250236 Just a few of the 2000 dolls on show
P9250245Sets of twin dolls
P9250240 This one looks so life-like
So it just goes to show that you never know what delights are hiding in these small towns.  We enjoyed our visit to Waieka Country gardens, and the ladies in particular loved looking at the dolls.  There was plenty of remarks such as, “I used to have one of those”, and we wandered around the four rooms housing Joy’s expanding doll collection.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Time springs forward

When we go to bed tonight we must remember to put our clocks forward one hour for Daylight Saving.  But it is not just the clocks, is it?  There is the video recorder to change, most important, or we will be recording the wrong programme.  Then there is  the clock on the oven, and both cars have a clock too.  Mustn’t forget to change our our watches, either.  There have been plenty of reminders on the radio and local newspapers.  The Hutt Valley Emergency Management Controller is encouraging residents to also check on stored water and emergency supplies, and check the batteries in fire alarms when they alter their clocks.  It’s a good time to change stored emergency water, he says, or for those who don’t have any, to start a supply.  As instructed, Robin poured the stored water onto the garden, then washed the containers in hot water before refilling.
DSCF7438 Washing the container in hot water
Each container should be filled till overflowing, making sure that there are no air gaps, with the lids tightly fastened, then stored away from sunlight.  It is recommended that people have at least three litres of drinking water per person, per day, for at least three days, stored at home, in case of emergencies.  We have got four containers stored in the shed and garage as well as 80 litres in the caravan fresh water tank (should be enough we hope).
DSCF7441 All refilled and ready to be put away
With this important job out of the way, and after mowing the lawns yesterday, as well as trimming the edges, Robin will have no qualms about sitting down in front of the TV later to catch his fix of the Rugby World Cup.  The mighty All Blacks are playing France so it is sure to be a tough, bruising game.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Charity Dinner

Each year the Upper Hutt Cossie Club fundraise for a selected charity, and this year the Cancer Society is getting the benefit of the club’s generosity, with the targeted aim to raise $25,000 for the Society during the year.  Last Sunday evening we attended a Charity Dinner at the Cossie Club, with all proceeds going to the Cancer Society.  The Upper Hutt volunteer drivers, like Robin, received their tickets gratis by the Cossie Club.  The drivers spouses and other club members paid a  very reasonable $30 for a buffet meal and glass of wine, followed by evening entertainment provided by eight bands.  
DSCF7401 Robin enjoying a glass of cheeky red
The buffet meal was very tasty, and we enjoyed hot ham carved off the bone, roast beef, fish fillets wrapped in salmon slices, and a selection of vegetables.  Dessert was the New Zealand favourite of pavlova, fruit salad, and ice-cream.  A glass of red or white wine, bubbly, or orange juice was supplied, and the meal finished with tea or coffee.  Once we were sitting back comfortably after our meal, the Charity Dinner Auction got underway.  The package was “A fine dining experience in your own home for six people incorporating a selection of top quality wines and five delicious courses cooked by the Cossie Club’s award winning chef”.  The bidding started and the auction raised $800 for the Cancer Society.  What a wonderful prize, but the bidding was way above our price range.
DSCF7404 Plenty of people at the Charity Dinner
One by one the eight bands took to the stage to entertain us.  We loved the Irish band “Shenanigans” and their rollicking versions of “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” really got our toes tapping. 
DSCF7406 Shenanigans Irish Band
I’ve always been an Elvis fan, so I really enjoyed seeing Brian Childs perform.  This artist has spent hundreds of hours learning every move, every note of every song to get things right.  His costumes are copies of the jumpsuits that Elvis made famous in Las Vegas.  His beautiful voice, the moves and gyrations all take you back to memories of Elvis himself performing.  Brian Childs won the “Search for the Best Elvis Impersonator in Australia”, and has taken his show to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Memphis.  I can remember when I was a young girl and first heard Elvis singing “Love me Tender” and was smitten – I’ve always loved those beautiful ballads.
DSCF7407 He’s singing just for me!
Many thanks to the Cossie Club for putting on such a good evening for the Upper Hutt Cancer Society Volunteers, to the sponsors and the bands who donated their time and talents for this worthy cause.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wellington Vintage Machinery Club Part 2

There are workshop facilities at the Wellington Vintage Machinery Club but some members have much more comprehensive home workshops and so it is often easier for them to make parts at home for the machines they are working on.  That is certainly volunteer dedication, and shows just how keen and involved the club members are.  
The wealth of New Zealand started on the sheep’s back, we are often told, and the club has a corner dedicated to shearing.  A large wooden wool press stands in the corner, and various examples of hand clippers are hung from the wall.  There is a Cooper Shearing Plant Stover engine in the foreground, which would have been used to run the electric shearing heads.
DSCF7390 Click go the shears
The huge blue Cochrane boiler made in 1964 is reasonably modern and would you believe, has never been used.  Dux Engineering purchased this from Cochran and Co, Annan, in Scotland, for 4000 pounds.  In the meantime, the company changed the factory presses and when the boiler arrived it was no longer required.  After some years the club acquired the boiler with an agreed donation to charity.  The fire bricks, gauge and sight glass had all been carefully packed away and arrived safe and sound with the boiler.  Unfortunately, this boiler is too expensive to get up and running.
DSCF7391 Cochrane boiler
Upstairs on the mezzanine floor is a huge collection of NCR (National Cash Register) machines, donated by NCR.  Bob showed me a NCR 6000 which was from Wardells Supermarket in Willis Street, Wellington, and was one of the earliest machines used on the checkout in the 1960s.  Bob was heavily involved in converting the cash registers when decimal currency arrived in New Zealand, with the much advertised changeover taking place on 10th July 1967. Previous to 1967 New Zealand's currency had been the pounds, shilling and pence system used in the United Kingdom.
DSCF7394 Cash register used in an early Wellington supermarket
The out buildings have many donated tractors from the 1930s and 40s.  Bicycles hang from hooks and there was a collection of cart wheels stacked against a wheel.  Club members are free to work on their own choice of engines, but one of the members told me it would perhaps be more helpful to leave the tractor he was working on till later, and get the club fork lift up and running instead.
P9180217 Plenty of tractors in the back sheds
There was a large clock face standing up outside.  This came from Wellington Railway Station, presumably when the concourse was refurbished some years ago.
DSCF7396 Clock from Wellington Railway Station
The Wellington Vintage Machinery Club are always looking for new members, so contact the club if you live nearby and want to help take part in restoration and preservation of vintage machinery.