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

Monday, 30 January 2012

Bon Voyage BBQ and the Missing Fork Mystery

Our Super Leisure Group (SLG) friends were invited to a lunchtime BBQ yesterday, as we hadn’t managed a get-together with them for a wee while.  It turned out to be a bit of a Bon Voyage party as everyone wished us well for our upcoming “South Island Odyssey” caravan tour.  It’s not long to go now and we are really looking forward to our trip.  As far a BBQ weather went, it was a bit blustery to start with, then the weather warmed up nicely, and we enjoyed the sunshine on the back deck.  Robin did his bit as chief cook and took charge of the BBQ.  We had sausages, chicken kebabs and marinated pork strips, all cooked to perfection.  With a nice assortment of salads to accompany the meal we had plenty to eat.  And yummy dessert too!
DSCF8771 Robin in charge with a pair of tongs in hand
As usual with this group, there was plenty to talk about, and lots of laughs too.  Now, just what is happening here?  Robin swore black and blue that his missing fork had dropped out of his hand and slipped between the slats in the deck,  but no one believed that it could fall through such a tiny space.  That's Trish lying down on her tummy trying to find the missing fork!  Even if she can spot it, I don’t know how we will be able to retrieve it.
DSCF8776 What can she see?
With the magic of the delayed shutter function on the camera Robin set up a group shot, then raced back to place himself in the middle.
P1290780 Here we all are
That missing fork was obviously playing on his mind overnight, as after breakfast this morning Robin was out on the deck making a concerted effort to find it.  There was quite a racket going on so I went to investigate.  There he was prying the wooden slats apart.  That fork wasn’t going to beat him!
DSCF8779 It’s got to be down here somewhere
DSCF8780And there it was
With his honour restored the mystery of the missing fork was finally solved.  Success at last.
DSCF8781   Told you so!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

It’s hard to get good help these days

We went and purchased a new range hood today.  Our old one had served us well, and at approximately 35 years old, it was well due to be replaced.  Buying a replacement was relatively easy and hassle free, which doesn’t always happen these days of retail shopping.  Yes, the hardware shop had them in stock, and yes again, just the right size we needed.  I had visions that they would have to order one in for us from the manufacturer.  Robin had a long forgotten gift card issued by the company, and redeemed this for part payment of our purchase.  We brought the new range hood home and my help was required to get it fitted on the wall.
A quick read through the instructions and Robin was all set.  He held it up in place and my job was to get a pencil and mark where the screw hole should go on the wall.  (Having interior timber walls throughout the house means that we don’t have to worry about finding a stud to put the screw in.)  However, he wasn’t at all impressed with the dainty little pencil mark I had made, how can he see that, he said in exasperation.  It’s hard to get good help, he commented.  So we changed places, and I held the range hood up while he took the pencil and made a decent “man sized” mark to show the placement of the screws.   Out came his handy battery operated screwdriver to do the job, and in no time at all, the new range hood was hanging securely on the wall over our relatively new stove.  And would you believe, it’s called a “Robin Hood”.  Now the kitchen cupboards need painting – should I offer to help, I wonder, or would I be better off keeping out of the way?  I’m not really much good doing messy jobs.
DSCF8762 Our new range hood
A man’s work is never done and Robin had to go out and cut the lawns after lunch.  The grass isn’t too long, but there are plenty of dandelion heads poking through.  It will look nice and tidy when he’s finished so I made sure there was a cold beer in the fridge ready for him to relax with.  We don’t profess to be great gardeners but our grape vine is doing rather well.  It grows across the back fence and there is an abundance of fruit this year.  The bunches have to ripen and colour up so the fruit won’t be ready for another month or so. 
DSCF8765 Our grape vine is fruiting well

Friday, 27 January 2012

What’s on this weekend?

No rambling away in the caravan, that’s for sure, we are staying home this weekend.  Perhaps a spot of work around the house to get things tidy?  Lawns to cut for one thing.  The decks have recently been water blasted so they look good.  We’re having some friends around on Sunday for a BBQ lunch so let’s hope the weather stays fine, we have just had  a night of torrential rain and gale force winds.  We took a trip down to our favourite butcher today and bought plenty of sausages to put on the barbie.  With an assortment of salads, bread rolls, chips and dips, we’re just about organised.  Just have to make a fancy dessert tomorrow and chill it in the fridge.  It will be good to catch up with these friends before we head down south on our up-coming South Island Odyssey trip.
DSCF8761 The caravan is staying home this weekend

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

BBQ in the rain

Romany Rambler: Travelled 19830Km; 340 Nights Away
The heavens opened and the rain came down but caravanners are a hardy lot. On went the rain jackets and we carried on with our weekend rally at Opaki School.    The weatherman had promised us hail as well, but luckily that didn’t eventuate.  A BBQ was on the agenda for Saturday evening, so the men in charge set themselves up under the school veranda and got on with cooking a large amount of sausages and onions. 
DSCF8738 Sausages, anyone?
After our evening meal, we met back in the hall for a musical interlude.  The music was provided by Roy on organ and Graeme on his ukulele banjo.  Everyone joined in to all the old sing-along songs – we all seemed to remember the words to these old tunes from years gone by.
 DSCF8748 The musicians, Roy and Graeme
While the musicians were taking a well earned break, Derek provided a floor show with his remotely controlled battery powered model motor home.  He set up some cones as an obstacle course and proceeded to show us just how it worked.  Oh dear, it seemed to work better travelling backwards, rather than going forwards! Something to do with the polished floors!  Robin had a good look at the model later in the evening and was interested to find that all the doors and windows opened, as did the roof vent.
DSCF8742DSCF8746Has your motor home shrunk in the rain?
The weekend rally concluded on Monday morning, after morning tea and all the raffles had been drawn.  Sadly, not a single raffle prize went home with one of our club members.  Never mind, it was a great weekend rally, very well organized, and full  of fun.  Our caravan club will be in charge of running the next Regional Rally in two years time, so we will have to put our thinking caps on and come up with some good ideas.
  DSCF8749 Heretaunga Caravan Club members

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Weekend Rally at Opaki School

After a pleasant lunch stop at Henley Lake we travelled up to Opaki School, just north of Masterton for the three day Central Regional Rally, hosted by the Wairarapa Caravan Club.  Regional Rallies are held every two years, and are hosted with the four regional clubs each taking their turn. 
P1220776 This looks like the right place
The approach to the school grounds was a bit tight, especially for the larger caravans and motor homes.  But with a bit of guidance from the men at the gate, and some careful manoeuvring, we all made it through without any mishaps.  There were 25 assorted vans on site for the weekend, one “fifth wheeler”, 10 motor homes and 14 caravans.
P1220769Lots of different shapes and sizes
Anything a little bit different always attracts quite a bit of interest, and Peter was rather intrigued as to what was under the fifth wheeler.  There was only one way to find out so he crawled under to see what he could discover. 
DSCF8731 What’s under here?
As we were rallying at a school, this was a non power rally, which shouldn’t have been a problem.  But……we had a bit of a “whoopsie” overnight when our gas bottle ran dry and the fridge stopped working.  Robin had to make a hurried early morning trip to get the gas bottle refilled.  He knew the bottle was getting low, but didn’t think it was quite that low!
DSCF8727 Re-fitting the gas bottle
We joined the large group as they ambled along the pathway to the Wee Red Barn on Saturday afternoon, where we purchased a large punnet of freshly picked strawberries and berry ice-cream, just the thing for our dessert. Everyone met in the hall in the evening for Saturday’s evening entertainment which was a “Dutch” Auction.  We had no idea just what a “Dutch” Auction was, bring along some money and join in the fun, we were told.  It seems that bids are made on a wrapped secret item, with the bidders having no idea just what they are bidding on.  Dave was in charge of the large yellow sack and handed each parcel to Harry, who was auctioneer for the evening.
DSCF8737 Dave with his sack of goodies
DSCF8736Harry as auctioneer
There was some rather spirited bidding going on for all sorts of interestingly wrapped parcels.  It was a lot of fun, with all proceeds of $128 for the evening going to the local branch of the Cancer Society.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Henley Lake

The weather was fine, it was a long three day weekend, and we braved the blustery wind and travelled up and over the Rimutaka Hill road to the Wairarapa for a caravan rally.  Once over the hill the weather was even better, as it often is over the dividing ranges.  We had arranged to stop at Henley Lake, Masterton, and meet up with our caravanning buddies for lunch.
DSCF8716 The gates at Henley Lake
Henley Lake is a man made lake.   Excavation of the lake began in 1986 and the lake was filled in 1987.   Over 1500 rainbow trout were officially placed into the lake. They were soon joined by a flood of unofficially released  perch.  The lake is used for kayaking and dragon boat racing.  Model boats enthusiasts have club meetings on the lake too.  Two impressive towers are erected on the lake edge, providing a raised viewing platform for events. 
DSCF8718 Viewing tower on the lake edge
Since the lake was filled in 1987 the Henley Complex has become the best bird viewing site in the Wairarapa, and attracts a great selection of both waterfowl and land based birds.  The swans, geese and ducks all seemed to be soaking up the sun on the banks of the lake the morning we arrived.  “No, we don’t want our photos taken”, they seemed to be telling me as they hurriedly moved into the water at my approach.
DSCF8711 Water birds aplenty
It was not too long before we were joined by Elaine and Peter, and Dot and Derek,  and we parked up in a row.  We put the kettle on, and the others joined us in our van for lunch. 
DSCF8721Parked up for lunch
There were plenty of people out enjoying the lovely environment.  Walkers were stepping out, with or without the family dog.  And we noticed plenty of children in the play areas.  People pulled up, parked their cars and watched the birds on the lake while they ate their lunchtime sandwiches, just like us.  This pretty lake is an asset to the community and it is nice to see it so well used and appreciated.  Our next stop was just a few miles up the road to Opaki School, for the weekend. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Kapiti Coast and Otaki

We couldn’t have picked a nicer day for our drive up State Highway One, through Kapiti and on to Otaki.  The blustery winds had finally abated and the day was glorious, a “blue dome” kind of day,  without a cloud in the sky.   We stopped at a lay by (rest area) along Centennial Highway and looked across to Kapiti Island, now a bird sanctuary for endangered native birds.
DSCF8690 Kapiti Island
There was a glimpse of the mountains of the South Island away in the distance.  It really depends on the conditions of the day whether the South Island is visible or not.  We know it’s there, but we can’t always see it.   
DSCF8694 South Island in the distance
Our trip up the coast was two fold and our first stop was a family visit at Paraparaumu.  My Aunt Dawn welcomed us with morning tea.  She was very keen to hear all about our upcoming “South Island Odyssey”   My aunt is the last remaining sibling on my father’s side of the family, and is a very special lady indeed.
DSCF8696 Dawn and Jenny
Next stop was our lunch date at “The Wine Maker’s Daughter”, in Te Horo, Otaki.  The lovely rustic property is full of towering  mature trees, and the birds were singing away, we noticed.  Cascading hanging baskets of flowers added a pretty touch to the entry.
DSCF8699 Wine Maker’s Daughter Cafe
P1170766 Giant mushroom spotted growing by the car park
Here we met up with old friends Robyn and Barrie, and Shirley and Lewis.  Now, what shall we chose for lunch?  There is always plenty to choose from, including their very reasonably priced $10 lunches.  It’s always difficult, but we finally made up our minds.  We ate in the gazebo with the pretty pink flowering bougainvillea climbing overhead  through the rafters.  It is such a pretty setting here.
DSCF8703 Enjoying our lunch
DSCF8706 Ice-cream Sundaes for the boys for dessert
As we ate our lunch, we caught up with everyone’s news and future plans, there is always plenty to talk about when we all get together.  After our leisurely lunch we went our separate ways, with plans to meet up again in a few months.  Our friends are off overseas and we will shortly be away on our South Island trip, so there will be plenty of travel tales to relate when we next get together. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Playing with Water

It’s been a windy old weekend, with bits of foliage broken off trees and littering the road, we noticed.  A branch from one of our trees in the front garden was snapped and left hanging in the strong winds, so that had to be cut right off and removed.  Just as well we are home this weekend and not towing the caravan in these conditions.  And while we are home, we have been playing with water.  It all started yesterday when Robin decided to wash my little blue car.  We were going out for an evening  meal and Robin dislikes going out in a dirty car.  So there he was, with a bucket and soapy water, and he finished the job off with a hose down.
DSCF8680 Hosing down the car
Then today it was my turn to slosh a bucket of hot soapy water around.  I decided it was well past the time to clean our (one and only) micro venetian blind so laid it out on the wooden picnic table and washed it down, one tiny slat at a time.  This job took ages, and I had to make sure that the wind didn’t pick the blind up and blow it off the table.  Water went everywhere, and it was a good job the excess just trickled through the decking onto the ground below.  There must be a better way of doing this, I thought.
DSCF8683 Cleaning the venetian blind on the picnic table
Hanging the blind up in the garage to dry I had a brainwave – why didn’t I think of cleaning the blind while it was suspended in here, instead of trying to do it on the picnic table?  I’ll know for next time.
DSCF8687 Drip drying and clean as a whistle
Meanwhile, Robin was working on the other side of the deck with his bright yellow Karcher water blaster.  This machine really makes a difference to cleaning up the deck, getting rid of all the winter grime from the boards.  He was on a roll when the deck was finished, and ran the water blaster over the picnic table and my sun lounger.  What a guy - he’ll be ready for a cool drink after all that work. 
DSCF8686 Cleaning the back deck
Although still quite strong and blustery, the windy conditions have eased a bit from a few days ago when they caused havoc at Wellington Airport.  Gusts of wind up to 110kmh were recorded when severe gale north-easterlies swept the region.  A trans-Tasman Qantas flight had to abort its first landing attempt at Wellington Airport due to 50 knot winds (92.6 kilometres).  Flight Q537 from Melbourne landed on its second attempt, and the rocky landing was filmed and shown on the evening TV news.  What a landing that must have been, and so scary to be buffeted about in such strong wind.  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Rolling along

“Carry on Painting” is the name of the game at our place, hot sticky weather or not.  The soffits (eaves) are the next to be tackled and Robin decided to paint these with a roller, which he already had from a previous project, tucked away in the garage.  But, he thought, perhaps an extension handle to fit on the roller would make the job easier.  (Here comes his fear of heights and ladders again).  So around to the hardware shop he went, taking the roller with him, to purchase said extension handle.  Easier said than done, however.  In the intervening years while his old paint roller has been languishing in the garage, the sizes have changed (of course) and the extension handle would not fit.  So the purchases were, one extension handle, one new paint roller, and a roller sleeves to fit the new roller.  It’s just as well that his old paint tray was wide enough for the new roller.  Robin has been working well over the last couple of days and has been right around the house with his roller and speed brush, giving the soffits the first coat of paint in a long time. 
DSCF8671 Painting with the roller
A fair bit of elbow grease was required to bring the shine back to our brass house numbers, which had been removed while the house painting went on.  Now they look almost as good as new and have been firmly screwed back into place.
DSCF8665 No prizes for guessing our number
There are just a few touch-ups to do with the paint brush now before the job is over.  What next?  I think the decking needs some attention.  There’s always something to do, isn’t there?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Year that Was

Although we are not “live aboards” in our caravan, we nevertheless managed to make quite full use of it during 2011 and travelled 5,366 Km pulling our caravan behind us.  The year started off with us travelling up to Mt Maunganui, Tauranga to attend the five day CCNZ National Rally held over New Year.  We were in no hurry to return home and took a detour to the  Awakeri Motor Camp, Whakatane and their relaxing thermal pools.  Not only are the pools free to campers, but they have free internet as well, so we could “carry on blogging”.  A whole year of monthly caravan club rallies followed.  Late January found us at the Kaitoke Regional Park, Wellington and in February our club hosted the first of the combined rallies at Brookfield Scout Camp, Wainuiomata with members of Wellington and Wairarapa clubs joining us.  From here we started off on our  2 week “Wairarapa Safari” trip, staying at several places quite new to us.  While on this trip we learned of the massive Christchurch earthquake with so many people perishing in collapsed buildings.
We rallied in Greytown in March, (remembered for the wasp nests close to the amenities) and at Poraotawhao School, Levin, for the combined Easter rally run by the Wellington Club.  Luckily the Easter Bunny found us all and came calling bearing Easter Eggs.  The Wairarapa Club hosted the May combined rally in Pahiatua, and Peter and Elaine joined us on an afternoon  trip to the famous Tui Brewery.  At the end of this rally we took the opportunity to continue on to Hastings for a family visit. 
DSCF6118 Peter and Robin outside Tui Brewery
June saw us in Foxton, and we rallied in Levin in July for the club AGM, then not too far away in August when we travelled up to Paraparaumu.  September’s rally at Camp Elsdon, Porirua,  was even closer to home, and memorable as the start of Rugby World Cup Fever.  Then in October we joined in with the Wellington Caravan Club’s 60th Anniversary, and we all sat on the edge of our seats as we watched the nail biting final game of the RWC.  Whew!!  The All Blacks won, of course, but many fans didn’t think they would, the game was so close. 
DSCF7802 Watching the final game on the edge of our seats
Our club hosted another combined rally at Clareville in November, and we took another trip up to Hastings from here.  The last club rally of the season was a return to Brookfield, Wainuiomata, for our Christmas Rally.  We also joined in with the New Zealand Motor Home Association and attended three of their weekend rallies, in April, June, and the Guy Fawkes rally in November.
Our tow car is a Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series and things don’t always go well mechanically.  The left front wheel bearings collapsed and damaged the axle housing, so these had to be replaced.  As did the fan belts and steering pump belts.  But we do work it hard with so many miles of towing.
Quite a bit of work was done (and money spent) on the caravan over the year.  Our caravan battery capacity was increased with two new batteries installed.  On a more serious note one of the caravan springs snapped and all have been replaced with an up rated version.   And then later in the year our hot water cylinder sprung a leak and we travelled up to the Leisureline factory in Hamilton to get a new cylinder fitted.  Thanks to Leisureline for helping with some of the costs involved.  And not forgetting the caravan toilet which needed a replacement fitting, just wear and tear we expect. 
Showing Spring Above AxleBroken Spring sitting above the Axle
So that’s been our year of using the caravan.  2012 will no doubt be even busier, as we are planning our “South Island Odyssey” trip, but more about that later.
DSCF6103Camped at Pahiatua

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Balloon Tragedy in Carterton

Just a few days after returning home from our caravan holiday at Carterton, we are shocked and saddened to learn of the balloon flight tragedy, in which all eleven people died.  It seems that the balloon got tangled in power lines, burst into flames, and crashed to the ground.  Some of the people on board the scenic ride received vouchers for the ride as Christmas gifts.  Family members of those aboard were tracking the balloon in  their cars, to meet up at the end of the ride and no doubt share in the after flight breakfast get together at the local cafe.  They would have watched in horror as the accident unfolded before their eyes.  It was a common sight to see the early morning balloon rides drift over the motor camp while we were in residence over Christmas.  The  loud “whoosh” of the burners announced the presence of a balloon drifting past.  Our thoughts are with all those who lost family and friends in this disaster.
 imageBalloons over Wairarapa

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Farewell to Carterton

Romany Rambler: Travelled 19749Km; 337 Nights Away

P1030756 Carterton spelt out in flowers
Christmas at Carterton Holiday Park was a great “laid back” holiday with a little sight-seeing thrown in the mix to keep the interest up.  Our cat Muffy had a most relaxing time, snoozing the hot sunny days away in the comfort of our caravan.  Occasionally she ventured outside, to see what was going on.  A trot around on the end of her lead, a sniff here and there to check what was happening in the great outdoors, and then she made a bolt for it and scampered in the caravan door and back onto the couch  for some more R&R. 
DSCF8636 Muffy and Robin out for a walk
There was plenty happening in camp, with people coming and going, and stopping to chat.  Several people were staying in the adjacent motel units while they attended the model aircraft National championships at Clareville.  The model helicopter buzzing away was a real draw card and caused a lot of interest amongst  the campers.
P1040759 Model helicopter
Our hosts Pete and Di at the Carterton Holiday Park were kept busy attending to the myriad of tasks that it takes to keep a motor camp in tip-top condition.  They came visiting our camp site on our last evening bringing a few bottles of beer for the men and wine for the ladies.  It was great to see them relaxing in the early evening as they are so busy working around the camp all day.
DSCF8635 Pete and Di having a breather between chores
Except for a couple of rainy days, which seemed to cover the whole of the country, we enjoyed great weather.  Our gazebo was worth it’s weight in gold and we spent a many a happy hour or two under the shade, watching the world go by.  Everyone pitched in to help take it down, as it is rather unwieldy for just the two of us to manage.  The six legs were collapsed into themselves and it all folds together rather like an umbrella, with everyone walking their portion of it into the centre.  Then it gets zipped up neatly in the handy carry bag, till next time. 
DSCF8638 Slide the legs up
DSCF8639 All walk into the centre
Once the cars were hooked onto the caravans, we said our goodbyes and it was time to go our separate ways.  Don and Pamela were travelling north, while Derek and Dot and their motor home, and ourselves were travelling south, up and over the Rimutaka Hill Road.  It was extremely windy, and the signs warned motorists to be aware of wind gusts on the hill.  We had a tense time when the wind caught the car and caravan side on and gave it a good shake and a rattle.  It is easy to see how high sided vehicles can get blown off the road at times like this.  On reaching home we checked out the interior, and luckily none of the cupboards had opened up with the shake and spilled the contents out.   Now our Christmas holiday is over – when is the next break away?  Happy New Year to all our readers and fellow bloggers, may you all have a great 2012.