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

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Time for a Carlsberg

It’s been a busy old day again.  After getting a kick start yesterday with our friend Derek helping, Robin wanted to carry on painting.  There was a bit left on the front wall of the house to prime, then undercoat.  “Can I help”, I asked, although I didn’t really want to do any painting.  My job was to rub down the few remaining planks with a stainless steel scourer.  After lunch Robin returned to his paint pot and brush, and I went to see how he was going.  The day was hot, the temperatures were rising, and he still had a reasonable amount still to undercoat.  It seemed a lot to do by himself,  so I decided to help out with the painting after all.  So there I was, in shorts and a tee shirt, and wearing  rubber gloves to keep the paint off my hands.  I often wonder if in fact I was someone from the upper classes (or even royalty, perhaps) in an earlier life as I really hate getting my hands dirty!  Or doing manual work, for that matter.  Who knows – I could have been an important person once. 
After a little tuition I got to work, but I wasn’t doing it right.  “Do it like this”, Robin said.  Mmm, this painting lark certainly isn’t as easy as it looks, is it?  The afternoon was so hot that both of us soon were dripping, as we worked hard to get the final bit of painting done for the afternoon.  Robin climbed up on the ladder and did the high bits, while I was was kneeling down on the deck painting the lower parts.  At last we had finished and could escape out of that heat around to the shady back deck.  It must be time for a Carlsberg!
DSCF8177 A whole case of Carlsberg
There is a story about this case of beer.  We may well have related it, but it is worth telling again.  Robin was given this case of beer (and a whole lot more which has already been consumed) about six weeks ago by a troupe of friendly Irish rugby supporters who had travelled over for the Rugby World Cup.  They were  all set to return home and couldn’t drink it in time, they said.  After all that hard work painting Robin was ready to relax with a beer and cool down.  I’m not really a beer drinker, but a shandy sounded nice, so I joined him in a Carlsberg too.
DSCF8179 Here’s to us – the painter and his apprentice

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

From Gardener to Painter

After spending some time knocking our mutual friends garden into shape, Derek kindly offered to help Robin with the dreaded house painting.  (It was only Robin who was dreading it, Derek was looking forward to another challenge).  We have a Lockwood house, a solid timber house with white painted aluminium cladding on the outside, of which the interior face is inside the house.  The paint on the aluminium cladding turns powdery with weathering, over the years and was overdue for a repaint.  First job of the morning was to rub down any flaky areas of the painted cladding with stainless steel scouring pads, and they did this on two sides of the house.
DSCF8160 Preparing for painting
The next step was to paint the walls with etch primer, which gives the undercoat and topcoat a base to adhere to the aluminium cladding.  Robin started down amongst the trees, and Derek worked from the other half of the wall.
DSCF8165 Applying the etch primer
DSCF8167Priming almost completed on the first side
They were both ready to come inside and stop for lunch.  “Come on”, said Derek to Robin, “back to work”.  Derek climbed up the ladder and applied the etch primer to the front of the house.
DSCF8168Derek now on to the front of the house
The etch primer dries quickly, so Robin headed back to the boundary side of the house amongst the trees, climbed on the plank supported by a pair of trestles to apply the oil based undercoat. 
DSCF8169 Robin painting undercoat on top of the primer
And what was I doing while all this was going on?  In between making cups of tea and serving lunch, I decided to pull a few weeds out of the garden.  It is no secret that I really dislike weeding, and do not profess to be any kind of gardener at all.  But there I was, down on my knees, doing my bit to help tidy up too.  I just know my back will be sore tonight with all this bending!
DSCF8172 I’m working too
What’s this?  Oh no, it looks like I’ve uncovered a dead hedgehog lying amongst the weeds, how yuk is that.  But then it moved, and I saw it was not one, but three hedgehogs curled up, sleeping the day away.  A mother and two babies, in fact.  So I left them there, at the base of a bush, and weeded around them.
DSCF8171 Three hedgehogs curled up
I was amazed at how much  Robin and Derek had accomplished by the end of the day.  Robin was applying the undercoat, trying to catch up with Derek who was still busy priming away.  It was a good day’s work for both of them, but I guess they will have tired and sore arms after all that painting.
DSCF8174 They are still going strong

Sunday, 27 November 2011

We’ve done our Duty

Yesterday was the day New Zealanders went to the polls, it was time to vote in the General Election.  The public could vote anytime between 9.00AM and 7.00PM, so there was plenty of time to go and do your duty.  Arrangements had been made for members of the public to vote early if they were going to be away on polling day, or were residing in a hospital or rest home.  Preliminary numbers released by the Electoral Commission estimated a turnout of only 73%, a sad reflection when these days many people overseas are still fighting for democracy and their right to vote.  The National Party, headed by Prime Minister John Key, was returned for a second term.  We don’t really want to talk politics, as our view is that everyone should be free to cast their vote as they wish.  Suffice to say that each of us voted for a different party, but we are not going to argue about that now, are we? 
DSCF8152 This way to vote

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Two Warrants, a Wash-down, and a bad case of Wind

It was a busy old day, with not one, not two, but three trips down to the local garage in one day. First it was to get warrant of fitness for the caravan (last 12 month warrant as next year the van will be six years old); then it was to take the Landcruiser down for its six month warrant of fitness, which meant leaving the vehicle with the garage all day so that they could do the WOF at their convenience; and while the Landcruiser was away it was a chance for me to wash down the caravan after travelling in that heavy rain last week.  We have been advised that it is better for the environment if cars (and caravans, for that matter) are washed on grass.  The soapy water then soaks into the grass instead of getting into the drainage system.
DSCF8109She always sneaks up on me with her camera
After finishing the caravan it was then time to finish washing down the house.  I had started this the other day but I was suffering from bad hay fever at the time and had to leave it due to the bending and reaching affecting my balance.  It’s all done now so all I want is some fine weather to be able to start painting the house.  Painting is not one of my most enjoyable tasks and I would really like someone to come and do it for me but that’s not likely so I’ll have gird my loins and get stuck in.
Jenny took me down in her little blue car (she calls is Lazuli) – why I wonder?) on the third trip of the day down to the garage to collect the 4WD.  Oh by the way both vehicles passed with flying colours so we can now hit the road knowing our vehicles are safe. For our overseas readers all vehicles under 4500kg in NZ have to pass a 6 monthly warrant of fitness, which is basically a safety check to make sure the vehicles are in a road worthy condition.  For vehicles over 4500kg they have to have a Certificate of Fitness which is a more stringent test as these vehicles are considered commercial. Needless to say the COF is more expensive than a WOF which annoys the larger motor home users as they are neither carrying the loads or doing the mileage (no equivalent metric word) of a commercial vehicle.
The wind has been rather fierce lately, and blew especially hard last night.  We woke up to find a branch snapped on our tree in the front garden.  There were branches big and small all over the street, I noticed.  Lucky none fell on top of the caravan.
DSCF8120 Oops, it’s broke
So out with my trusty hand saw to trim it off – then I dragged the whole thing around the back and cut it all in more manageable pieces to get rid of it. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Wellington’s Oldest Church – Christ Church, Taita

This pretty little church has beckoned me for years.  “Come and visit”, it seemed to be saying as we drove past along the Eastern Hutt Road on countless occasions, going about our busy lives.  On Sunday afternoon, at long last, the time had arrived to see this fine piece of early architecture in the Hutt Valley.  After visiting the Vintage Machinery Club in the morning, followed by  a nice leisurely lunch at a local cafe, I had arranged for our group to take a guided tour through the church in the early afternoon.    Janice, the Secretary of the Preservation Society, welcomed us inside the church and gave us a short potted history.  Christ Church was built by and for the early European settlers to this area.  The land was gifted by the Hon A G  Tollemache, designed by Sydney Hirst, using heart totara timber donated by John Daysh, and pit sawn by Abraham Harris. The doors opened for the first service on New Year’s Day, 1854.
DSCF8082 Christ Church, Taita
An arson attack in 1989 left the interior of the church severely damaged.  Descendants of the pioneers and their supporters repaired the church, working from a set of plans which had been drawn up by a student who had completed a thesis just before the fire.  These plans take pride of place just inside the doorway to the church.  The interior of the church has a warm mellow feel to it from the lovely totara panelling.  A refurbished reed organ from 1902 provides the music for services, and the original font shows signs of surviving the fire.
PB200507Interior view
PB200521 Reed organ
PB200506The font, showing fire damage
Interestingly, it is the rear of the church which faces the street.  This came about because in 1947 a railway extension crossed the original High Street entrance, isolating the church from its congregation.  A proposal to move the church caused a public outcry, and in 1950 a meeting voted for the church to remain where it was.  This was the first time New Zealanders had lobbied to save an historic building, and led to the formation of the Christ Church Preservation Society.  The government passed the New Zealand Historic Places Act in 1954, followed by the establishment of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.  This shows that indeed from a germ of an idea to save one little church, the care and preservation of early New Zealand heritage is hopefully assured. Christ Church is still a consecrated church, but does not have it’s own congregation or minister.  It is used occasionally for weddings, funerals and baptisms, with ministers from other areas taking the service.
The graveyard at the back of the church (originally the front) is full of history.  The names of the early settlers live on as Hutt Valley street names, such as Boulcott, Mabey, Percy, Judd and Riddler.  The beautiful old trees are original plantings.
DSCF8088 The peaceful graveyard
Manihera Matangi, chief of Ngatiawa, is buried in the graveyard.  He supported European settlement in the area and his father signed the Treaty of Waitangi.  His tombstone reads, “One whose conduct of affairs was beneficial to European as well as to his own race”. 
DSCF8091  Matangi family graves
This church is a little gem, and we all enjoyed our very informative visit.  Many thanks to Janice for giving up her Sunday afternoon and providing such an insight into this piece of early Hutt Valley heritage, (and for the afternoon tea).  It took me a long time to get here, and I am so pleased I finally made it.

Monday, 21 November 2011

From Cheese to Gizmos – Wellington Vintage Machinery Revisited

Sunday was Club Day at Wellington Vintage Machinery, situated in Mangaroa Valley, Upper Hutt, so that fitted in well with my plans for the monthly get-together with our  SLG friends.  November was my month to arrange an outing, and I was sure the men in the group in particular would be interested in coming to visit.  Robin and I had visited the club rooms a few months earlier, but with so many interesting things on display, it was well worth a second visit.  There was no doubt that this club is a mechanical workshop, with the all pervading smell of engine oil  greeting us on entry.  Peter, the Treasurer, showed our group a video entitled “From Cheese to Gizmos”, which told of the history of the club.  The club building was previously a milk factory, in the days when every small town had their own local factory.  The video showed old footage of cheese making on the premises, and current field-days and exhibitions.
PB200502 Engrossed in the video, and surrounded by engines
Everyone was in awe of the mighty  black 1911 steam traction engine, built by John Fowler and Co, Leeds.   This is on loan to the club, and gets taken out regularly to events.  These mighty machines were a common sight on farms in earlier times, and would have been most impressive when they were fired up and steaming. 
DSCF8072 Pride of the collection, 1911 steam traction
Russell seemed to be enjoying himself driving the little three wheeled tractor with a bucket on the back.  In a former life this dinky little machine was used to carry soil around the Akatarawa Cemetery. ….
PB200504Russell on the small red tractor
We saw an early model mechanical washing machine which works by pushing the handle back and forth.  This raises and lowers three inverted cups which agitate the water through the clothes.  It wasn’t too hard to make it go while the machine was empty, but I imagine it would be quite hard work filled with a week’s washing and hot soapy water.  There was an old copper on display as well, and I remember that we had one in our house when I was a child.  The fire was lit underneath to boil the water which produced wonderfully  white clothing.  But what a long hot job doing the washing was, manhandling the hot clothing with a wooden copper stick into the concrete tubs to rinse in cold water, and through the mangle.  These days we just have to push a few buttons and it is all done for us.
DSCF8075Push the handle forward and back
The club members were getting some of the tractors ready to take part in the upcoming Santa Parade, so they had to be in tip top condition.
There was a good display of old bicycles hanging on the wall in the back shed.  Just below the bikes were some beautifully crafted wooden cart wheels, these were obviously all made by hand.  The club is often offered all sorts of interesting things to add to the collection, and is only too happy to uplift and preserve these treasures of bygone days.
DSCF8079 Bicycles and cart wheels
Once again, a very interesting visit, and thanks to the members for making our group so welcome, and taking the time to answer our many questions.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Pressed into Service

“Will you come and help?”, our friend Kathryn asked us.  She was hosting a special family 90th Birthday Afternoon Tea for her Mum and needed someone to help with serving the food and making cups of tea and coffee.  Of course we could, and turned up at the specified time.  Luckily for us this was a catered function, so we didn’t have to do any food preparation.  The caterer arrived with the afternoon tea all plated up, and we put the savouries in the oven to keep them warm until required.
DSCF8062 Putting the savouries in the oven
We were kept busy setting the food on the table and got the cups and mugs ready for hot drinks.  The big birthday cake took pride of place on the table, waiting for the “cutting of the cake ceremony”.   A 90th birthday is certainly well worth celebrating.  As the birthday girl was making the ritual cut, the family and guests sang a spirited Happy Birthday to her.  Then the cake was whisked back into the kitchen and we cut it up, and walked around the room to offer a slice to the guests, together with a glass of bubbly to drink a birthday toast.
DSCF8063 Afternoon tea set out
DSCF8064Cutting the cake to offer the guests
Out went the cups of tea, and in came the dirty dishes to be rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher.  We don’t have a dishwasher ourselves, in fact, we often say that we are the only people we know who don’t own one of these appliances.  So once all the dishes were stacked inside, we were at a loss to know what to do next.  Kathryn came to the rescue, added the detergent and switched it on.  There were plenty of other plates waiting for the next load, we noticed. All the family went outside for the long round of family photos, taken with first this camera, then the next one, as everyone wanted a memento of this special day.  Then it was time for us to go, we were tuckered out after our afternoon in the catering corps,  I can tell you!
DSCF8066 Thanks for helping – Robin, Kathryn and Jenny

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Battling on Regardless

Romany Rambler: Travelled 19549Km; 322 Nights Away
It was a bit like being a Pony Express rider from days gone by, high winds, rain, and the many roadworks we encountered all seemed to conspire to disrupt our journey home, but we battled on regardless.  The heavens opened up as we hooked up the caravan and started off on the 300km trip back to Wellington.  The wind buffeted the car and caravan, and to add to the worry, the oil level light on the dashboard kept flashing on and off during the trip. (We now believe this may be a faulty light and we did check the oil level, all OK). Our first plans were to stop somewhere for the night about halfway.  But with the weather being so unpleasant, and the worry about the car, we carried on driving, just stopping briefly for a home made hot bacon buttie and a cuppa en route. 
We approached the Rimutaka Hill with trepidation – on the previous day winds had been recorded here at 100kms.  Not so good when towing a caravan.  (If the road had been closed due to wind, we would have had to backtrack half the distance already travelled to detour).  But we were pleasantly surprised to find that the wind had dropped right down, and we had left the rain behind us.
DSCF8016 Wairarapa  side of the Rimutaka Hill Road snaking up the hill
“I won’t take any more photos of the road works”, I told Robin, but honestly, I just couldn’t help myself.  I wonder if I was an engineer in a former life, or more likely, some type of labouring navvy?
DSCF8020 Stop for the red light
DSCF8022Sealing part of the new road
Once over the hill and down the other side it was just a short run home. Here’s the bridge spanning the Hutt River to our suburb.  We’re almost home now.
DSCF8025 Off SH2 and over the bridge
Thank goodness we arrived.  Our cat Muffy had been particularly noisy in the back seat the whole trip and seemed quite unsettled.  Maybe she was just tired of all the travelling and wanted to get out and stretch her legs.  In true cat fashion, she showed her displeasure by ignoring the pair of us once we were home, sitting there on the carpet with her back to us for a while.  So who is the boss in our house?  Looks like it is the cat!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Takapau, Hastings, and the best Fish & Chips in town

Romany Rambler: Travelled 19250Km; 322 Nights Away
Wouldn’t you just know it, after a rather chilly weekend in Clareville, the sun finally came out on the day we had to pack up and leave.  Most of the others were heading home but our plans were to travel north, stopping the night at Takapau, in Southern Hawkes Bay.  This property is owned and operated by the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association and members can stay here at a very reasonable cost.  The Maori word Takapau translates to “sleeping mat”. 
DSCF7986Plenty of room for us at NZMCA property at Takapau
The rain set in and followed us on our drive the next morning to Hastings.  We were staying at my sister’s property and the caravan fits rather snugly on the drive.  The family had recently had a car port erected and as Murphy’s Law dictated, our caravan of course was just a few inches too high to fit underneath.  Just as well I was at rear while Robin was backing up the drive and yelled out “Stop” in time before he hit it.
DSCF7995 Staying with the rellies in Hastings
As usual, our cat Muffy was travelling with us.   Lily, the resident ginger cat did not take too kindly to an interloper on her home turf and we caught her peering in the windows trying to catch a glimpse of this cat who dared to show her face where she wasn’t wanted.  No doubt Lily was hissing catty insults through the window at Muffy.
DSCF7993  Lily is not happy
DSCF7996 Lily relaxing now she has told Muffy off
Adam, the young man of the house is a keen “gamer” and is the proud owner of the just released new Xbox game.  He rushed down to the shop bright and early to pick up his copy of the Assassin’s Creed series, “Revelations”.  The new game got a great work-out and Adam is delighted with his purchase.
DSCF7997Xbox game, hot off the press
We called around to visit Robin’s former workmate Dennis and his partner Sonya.  Robin and Dennis had worked together on Toops trucks and had plenty of reminiscing to do about their former working lives.  Now the four of us are happily retired, life is so much more relaxed.
DSCF7998 Sonya and Dennis
“They serve the best fish and chips in town”, we were told so we went looking for Hawkes Bay Seafoods in the main shopping street.  What a busy place it was (that’s always a good sign) and there was the biggest selection of fresh fish we had seen, both whole fish and fillets, and all so nicely presented too.  We ordered our take-away meal of fish fillets, garlic prawn kebabs and kumara (sweet potatoe) chips and ate them in the sunshine at tables outside the fish shop.  What a delicious meal at the end of our busy day.
DSCF7999 Whole fish for sale
DSCF8003A meal fit for a king, battered fish and prawn kebabs

Monday, 14 November 2011

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

It was a “boys day out” on Saturday 12/11/2011 for Robin, Peter and Derek when they took themselves off to the Remembrance Day WW1 Air Show at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, which commemorated the signing of the Armistice on the 11/11/1945.  As well as all kinds of aircraft on show, the world famous “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” car from the film of the same name was offering rides with the proceeds going to women’s refuge charity.  Sir Peter Jackson (Director of Lord of the Rings trilogy) had recently purchased this car to add to his collection. The car is so called as the original engine installed made a sound like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.

PB120444 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The day started with a parachute jump followed by a biplane diving back through a ribbon that it had dropped and cutting the ribbon with its propeller and it managed to do this three times before it became to low to attempt. This was to hard to capture a photo of.

Some of the selection of WW1  aircraft that have either been restored or recreated by a volunteer group called the Old Stick & Rudder Company follow:

PB120445Sopworth Triplane

PB120473Famous Sopworth Camel Scout 

PB120483Fokker DR 1 Dreidecher Triplane (Of Red Barron Fame)

Also on show were vintage vehicles including a replica WW1 tank which was giving rides to all and sundry. I knew it was a replica when I was able to see inside  and saw a “Caterpillar” Diesel  engine.  Also the touch was not quite metallic, however it still looked the part.



They later tried to flour bomb the tank from “Tiger Moths” with absolutely no success!


There were also a selection of vintage cars, motor bikes and replica vehicles that had been pressed into war service such as a London Double Decker Bus, and a mobile anti aircraft gun.

It was a good afternoon out as all the aircraft were airworthy and were flown at some stage of proceedings. It was just a pity about the weather as it started to rain as the flying started. I will have to look out for this show next year and hopefully the weather will be better.