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

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Rainy Day jobs

It’s another rainy old day today and Robin has been out and about attending to a few chores.  Top of the list was to renew his driver’s licence, a requirement as his 65th birthday is fast approaching.  As he wants to retain his heavy trade licence,  he had to visit the doctor recently to obtain a medical certificate.  Then he joined the queue at the AA and waited in line.  After handing over the fee of $45 he is now legal to drive for the next 10 years.  His licence covers him to drive a car, truck or passenger bus, and most important of all, to tow our caravan. 

Then he went off to his first of several physio appointments.  A fall on his arm a month or so ago has left him with limited movement in his right shoulder.  Luckily the bulk of the payment for the sessions are covered by ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) although he still has to find the balance of $20 per session.  As everyone knows, physio treatments can be long drawn out affairs.

While I’ve been home alone, I’ve been busy in the kitchen preparing some tasty pumpkin soup.  Just the right sort of fare for a rainy day lunch.  Then it was a matter of “hubble, bubble, toil and trouble” as I looked through the steam into my big pan and stirred a batch of kiwifruit jam boiling on the stove top
Another job has been printing out the blog posts of our recent South Island holiday.  I can see that will take quite a while, or perhaps a “work in progress” will be a better description.  During our three month long trip we produced about 120 blogs.  So far we have just printed those for the month of February, and our colour printer has run out of ink.  This is going to be an expensive job, but worth it in the end when we get the pages spiral bound. 

The rain is still coming down so I think it’s time to put our feet up for the rest of the afternoon.  Perhaps we’ll have a cuppa and catch up with the Olympic games on telly.  

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Let the Games Begin

It was a morning of telly watching, as we, and millions around the world, sat glued to the TV watching the spectacle of the opening ceremony for the 30th Olympiad.  And what a spectacle it was, with the stadium decked as England’s “green and pleasant land”.  The “dark satanic mills” of the Industrial Revolution rose up dramatically and belched smoke as the poor downtrodden workers toiled away making money for the rich businessmen.  The centuries rolled on, with everything from votes for women and the National Health Service. 

One of the many highlights would have to be James Bond aka Daniel Craig 007 arrive at Buckingham Palace by black cab to meet Her Majesty.  He escorted her to a patriotically-decorated helicopter before they flew off and both appeared to parachute into the Olympic Stadium a few miles away in East London.  At the exact moment the "daredevils" reached the ground, Her Majesty appeared in the stadium wearing an identical salmon-coloured dress as the parachutist, to a standing ovation.

The Queen and James Bond drop into the Olympic Stadium

We watched as the athletes from different countries filed into the stadium, eagerly waiting for New Zealand's entry.  At last, here they are, led by runner Nick Willis clad in a beautiful traditional Maori cloak.

Willis leads small NZ contingent into Olympic Stadium  (Source: Reuters)Reuters photo

The last performance of the ceremony was by Paul McCartney (Jenny’s favourite Beatle since she was a teenager) and he had the whole crowd getting into the party mood as they sang along to the vintage Beatle’s number, “Hey Jude”.  A fantastic firework display was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful opening ceremony.  London – you can hold your head up high.

Fireworks burst above the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games  Photo credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images

One of the benefits of now being retired is the opportunity to watch as much (or as little) of the Olympic Games as we want, without work getting in the way.  Robin is quite the sport nut, so he will be happy for hours.  I am more selective, and rather enjoy watching the athletics and the gymnastics.  You can be sure that we will both be glued to the rowing, as the Kiwis excel in this discipline.   Let the games begin!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Finally Home

It’s been a slow trip home from Hastings, as we stopped off last night at Carterton after battling rain and strong winds.  The weather cleared overnight, and we woke to blue skies, sunshine, and the sound of birds singing in the trees. Sunny day camping – it always seemed like this in our childhood, didn’t it?  Robin busied himself filling up the water tank as we always travel with a full tank.  It keeps the caravan more stable, he says. 

DSCF2284 The water is all done

Muffy meanwhile was very keen to get under the seats where the power cords go. Any open cupboard is fair game to her, it doesn’t matter how many times she has explored it before.

DSCF2287 This looks interesting

After saying our goodbyes to camp managers Pete and Di we headed off on the final leg of our journey.  This took us through the small towns of Carterton, Greytown and Featherston, then up and over the Rimutaka Hill road.  The recent rain had brought down several small slips on the side of the road, and a road inspection crew was out and about making sure the road was safe.  The hill road has lots of sharp corners and Muffy seems to find this part of the trip uncomfortable.  She always travels over the hill with her head hanging over the side of the seat, or as today, hanging her head down over my legs. 

DSCF2292 She doesn’t like the hill road

All the road work on Muldoon’s Corner is now finished on the hill.  It was a massive job, and took quite some time to complete. 

DSCF2294 Road works completed

We made it home in good time, backed the caravan beside the house and started the job of unpacking.  Muffy was pleased to be free of her harness and lead and lost no time in checking out the garden and under the back deck to make sure no strangers had been around.  Now, when are we going away again?  We’ll check the calendar but I’m sure it’s not too far away.   

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Not a good day for Towing

Sunny Hastings has not lived up to it’s reputation while we have been staying here the last few days.  It’s been rain, rain, and even more rain.  We didn’t get away today as early as we had hoped.  Robin hooked up the caravan for our return trip home, went to pay our fees, and our POP hosts Roger and Caroline invited us inside their big bus for a coffee.  You know how it goes, you chat about this and that, about people you both know, and about trips you have done.  Before we knew it, it was almost lunch time.   Saying our goodbyes, we headed off in the rain to the dump station, on to fill up with fuel, then we were finally ready for the return trip home.   The rain kept coming down, there was water all over the paddocks, and the rivers were running high.

DSCF2262 Crossing over the flooded river into Waipukarau

All this incessant rain has no doubt caused slips all over the place.   Luckily this was just a small one and with one lane closed we drove slowly past as the workmen prepared to clear the road.

DSCF2265 Road maintenance at work

We stopped for a late lunch at Woodville, something that we could take with us and eat on the road.  We chose  pork and kumara pies which were delicious, we will certainly go back to that bakery again.  The car and caravan was parked on a back street while we found our tasty lunch, and noticed a goat tethered on an overgrown section watching us intently. If he thought he would get a taste of our pies, he was sadly mistaken.
 DSCF2269 The Woodville goat

The barrier arms were down and the warning lights were flashing as we waited for the train to cross over SH2.  No passengers or freight on this train, it was a track maintenance unit.

DSCF2270 Stop for the train

After a brief dry spell, the rain came down again, and the wind got up.  We can cope with the rain, but it wasn’t easy driving with the wind buffeting the caravan around.

DSCF2276 Down comes the rain

Perhaps we will break our journey and not drive all the way home tonight?  Robin was getting tired and it doesn’t really matter if we take a little longer on the return trip home.  Decision made, we pulled into Carterton Holiday Park in the late afternoon.  Our friendly hosts Pete and Di welcomed us into the camp, and we were soon set up.  Time for a cuppa, and a bit of R & R.  We’ll finish our journey home tomorrow.

DSCF2281 Overnighting at Carterton

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Village of Havelock North

Havelock North today has a pretty little “village” feel to it, and was named after the Indian mutiny hero Sir Henry Havelock.  The town, along with others in the country, came about after efforts from the government of the day to make land available to the poor.  By the early 1850s, wealthy run holders had seized most of the available land.  The Provincial Government introduced policies to cater for the needs of agriculturists requiring small holdings, as the land became available.  In the 1860s town sections were surveyed and pegged out, with six roads radiating out from a central hub, which today is the round-about in the centre of the shopping area.  We imagined that the low concrete structures dotted about were upturned Maori canoes.  Not so,  the man at the Information Centre told us, they represent fallen petals on the ground. 
    DSCF2241 The centre of the village

The Information Centre building itself has an interesting history.  Built in 1914 and designed by James Chapman-Taylor, it originally housed the transformer for power generated by the Maraetotara power station.  These days the building does triple duty as Info Centre in the front, public toilets at the rear, while a transformer in the centre of the building supplies the electrical  needs of the central business area.  This building was supposedly the only one in the village business district to survive the massive 7.8 Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931, which had a death toll of about 250 people.

DSCF2242 Chapman-Taylor designed Information Centre

I crossed the road to look at St Luke’s Anglican Church while Robin checked out houses for sale in the Real Estate window (sadly well outside our price range).  Designed by Thomas Cooper, the building was consecrated in 1874, with further additions completed in later years.  The tower was badly damaged in the 1931 earthquake and the replacement tower was not completed until 1999.

DSCF2246  St Luke’s Anglican Church

Another notable church in the village is the St Columba’s Presbyterian Church, with it’s elegant slender bell tower.  Dame Flora McLeod, chief of Clan McLeod in Scotland, joined Rev Ivan Muir in laying the foundation stone for the building in 1970.

DSCF2250 St Columba’s Presbyterian Church

Havelock North has a trendy little shopping centre, full of cafes and clothing shops catering for the well heeled residents.  Farmland, orchards and vineyards  surround the residential area, and just out of town we came across a farmer and his dogs working the sheep.  The spectacular Te Mata Peak looks down over the village.  We know it’s there somewhere, but it currently hidden in rain clouds.

DSCF2252 Rural scene just out of town with some Ewes with Lambs at heel

Monday, 23 July 2012

Detour over the Pahiatua Track

Leaving our caravan friends behind, we started our trip up to Hastings, driving up SH57 past the settlements of Shannon, Tokamaru and Linton.  These small places that we tend to whizz past on our way to somewhere else all call to us to slow down, stop a while, and have a good look around.  Not this trip though. The narrow and winding Manawatu Gorge would usually then be the preferred route, but this road has been plagued with major slips for some time.  The troubled route had only been open for five weeks following a nine-month long closure caused by a series of slips. Then in early July the swollen Manawatu River washed away the temporary road, closing the road to all traffic once again.

Manawatu Gorge: JulyWorking to re-open the Manawatu Gorge

Luckily there are alternative routes, one of them being the 30km Pahiatua Track which wound up and over the northern peaks of the Taraua Ranges.  We drove past farm land and pine plantations before crossing over the concrete bridge into Pahiatua, a rural service town with a population of over 4,000.  When translated from Maori the name Pahiatua means "God's resting place".

DSCF2210 Pahiatua Bridge

The wind turbines of Whariti Peak were shrouded in cloud. The top of the Whariti Peak television transmission tower was poking through the cloud looking like the the very top of a church spire reaching up to heaven.

DSCF2221 TV Tower through the clouds

The van “Our Tin Tent” shared the road with us for many miles.  If you look closely you can just made out their specialised number plate of “Gypzee”.
DSCF2225 Our Tin Tent

We are staying at a “Park Over Property” in Havelock North for the next couple of nights which has a rural, (and wet) outlook.  Our plan is to catch with family, and perhaps do a little sightseeing.

DSCF2234 Romany Rambler on site in Havelock North

The local Pukeko population weren’t worried about the rain and were happily feeding in the adjacent paddock.  That was until I opened the caravan door to snap a couple of photos.  Taking fright, they all hurried away, flicking their white tail feathers as they ran.

DSCF2232Pukeko taking fright

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Caravan Rally at Levin

By staying at Otaki for a couple of nights prior to the caravan rally meant that we had the least distance to travel and should have been the  first to arrive at camp.  Not so – by being the closest we just took our time ambling up the highway and arrived to find four vans parked up ahead of us, and our fellow club members sitting outside enjoying the sun shine.  We found ourselves a camp site, the legs were wound down, the TV dish was aligned, and we were all set for the weekend.
The caravan’s stone guard and window protector had been dropped off to Canvasland factory a couple of days earlier for repairs.  We had purchased caravan awnings from this company previously and have always been pleased with their products.  Our repairs were ready to collect on Friday afternoon, as promised, and the price charged was very reasonable. 

DSCF2199 Collecting our repairs

Back in camp again, Robin soon had the vinyl stone guard and plastic window protector back in place where they belonged.

DSCF2200 Sliding the window protector back through the awning track

This was our first visit to the Levin Motor Camp since Repi and Debbie have taken over the management of these camp grounds.  This friendly young couple welcomed all our members club to the camp, and are very enthusiastic about their new venture.  The camp is looking spic and span, and Repi told us that he had been busy on the lawn mower, getting ready for our visit. 

DSCF2202 Levin Motor Camp

As we sat and enjoyed the weekend sunshine, we were kept amused as the white doves fluttered around  the dove cote.  Repi had related how the previous managers had advised them to keep the dove numbers in check by removing the newly laid eggs.  They had forgotten to do that, and the dove cote now had some new arrivals.
DSCF2203 White doves in camp

The annual AGM took place on Saturday morning, and a new committee was duly elected.  Robin’s first Presidential duty over the weekend was to welcome new members Selwyn and Cath to our caravan club.

DSCF2206 New members Selwyn and Kath

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Off to the Beach

We are off to a caravan rally in Levin over the weekend but are stopping en route at Otaki at our friends rural property for a couple of days.  It may well be mid winter but we decided to take a visit to Otaki Beach.  This area is well known as the site of the first permanent children’s health camp.  In 1929 Byron Brown, a local businessman, donated 4 acres of land, (later enlarged to 70 acres) for a health camp, after growing concerns about children’s health and welfare.  Up to 120 children stayed at the camp for 6 weeks, thriving on a regime of good food, plenty of sleep, fun at the adjacent seaside and a few hours of schooling each day.  Between 1941 and 1945 the camp was taken over as a wartime emergency hospital, and reopened again after the war.  The hospital still helps disadvantaged children to this day, with a holistic approach addressing the social, emotional and physical needs of children.

DSCF2197 Gates to the Otaki Children’s Health Camp

Down at the beach the sea was sullen and grey, and the cold wind whistled about.  We could barely make out Kapiti Island away in the distance.  Brrr, it’s a bit too cold to linger down here today. 


DSCF2194 Otaki Beach

Back at Geoff and Eileen’s home I was invited to go hunting for pumpkins hidden away in the garden.  If I can find a couple, Eileen told me, I’ll get to keep one for myself.  Wow, with an offer of a free pumpkin, there was no stopping me.  But how could those poor pumpkins survive under such thick weeds?  There’s one, then another, and finally I released the third pumpkin from the weeds.

DSCF2175 The yield from the great pumpkin hunt

Muffy however, was going a hunt of her own.  The outside locker door was open and in she jumped.  It doesn’t really matter how many times she has explored this locker before, if the door is open she just can’t help herself.

DSCF2177 What’s in here?

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Batteries needed a Buzz Bar

When we were away in the South Island the batteries that were installed in the van began to fail. I require the 12 volt power to be available all night for a piece of medical equipment and the inverter was screaming flat battery at about 3am and after that no more sleep for me. So on arrival in Wanaka the local Auto Electrician installed new wet cell deep cycle batteries. This was all well and good except extra batteries had to be sent up to Wanaka from Dunedin and the ones delivered were slightly different from the one on stock.

The net result was one marine grade battery and one industrial grade battery. What is the difference you ask. Well the marine battery has screw caps over the cells and is sort of sealed as a consequence. The industrial battery has push type cell covers and is not sealed at all. During charging batteries are designed to boil, it is how the electrolyte is mixed.  However, the industrial battery wept slightly and the design of the case allowed electrolyte to leave the case and where it is situated meant the electrolyte is leaking into the wooden locker space (not recommended).

P7167461 The new battery box

The way to fix the problem is to install a battery box to contain any leakage. This now created another problem in the some of the cables are now not long enough. To overcome this dilemma, is to install an intermediary connector block (or Buzz Bar). The cables that were too short were the negative cables because the battery box for the industrial grade battery by nature of its design had to be moved further away from the other battery. I have the positive cables on one battery and the negative cables on the other so that current flows fully between the two batteries. When they were both on the same battery they were OK for length but not now.

P7167460 The new BUZZ BAR

The full layout can be seen below. I am happy with the end product. At least on the negative side of the circuitry there is the minimum number of cables on the battery terminal. I am not a fan of lots of cables hanging off battery terminals. I will tackle the positive side at a later date as that side will need to have a fuse in the circuit and maybe a on/off switch. Had to do to day’s exercise as wood and sulphuric acid don’t mix so a remedy was urgent.

P7167462 The complete arrangement

From the above picture it can be seen all of the positive cables terminating on the positive battery terminal. The black box on the front of the right hand battery is the OZ Charge 21amp multistage battery charger. The white object to the right of the battery box is the Attwood hot water heater.

The original batteries that were installed in the van were AGM 100amphour X2 and one would not hold a charge but when ever it was taken back to the supplier it performed faultlessly. I could not get it to hold a charge however they could and to date it is still holding charge but I have lost faith in these batteries so I will stick with the Wet Cell Deep Cycle batteries currently installed. I approached the local agent to change the industrial grade battery for a marine grade battery but as it was some 2-3 months since it was installed it could not be exchanged as it is now second hand. I wish I knew all these details at the time.

Batteries in place Original Installation of AGM Batteries

Oh and the AGM Batteries above are just over 12 months old. The other benefit to all these changes is our amp/hour rating has increased from 200 amp/hours to 250 amp/hours.



Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Leisurely Lunch

It was a rainy old Sunday today, the rain was coming down in buckets.  The wind was blowing hard, and the only saving grace was that the temperatures were not too cold.  Just rain, rain and more rain, the back lawn was sodden and the downpour was collecting in puddles on the driveway.

DSCF2158 Rainy day view up our street

It was a good day for a long leisurely lunch at the local suburban restaurant.  Our SLG friends joined us too and we met inside the cosy building, chatting away as we caught up with everyone’s news.  After perusing the menu it was decision time.  Some chose the $10 lunch specials, with several choices available including fish and chips and  lamb shanks.  My choice was corn fritters, and Robin enjoyed his French toast with bacon, banana and maple syrup.  With a nice cup of coffee to follow, we were well satisfied.

DSCF2151 Enjoying our leisurely Sunday lunch

Dodging the rain, we made it back to our house for the rest of the afternoon.  Robin had put together a slide show of some of the photos from our recent South Island trip.  With wires snaking across the floor from the laptop to the television, (all the better to trip over),  he showed our guests some of the highlights and interesting places we visited.

DSCF2153 Holiday snaps

Then it was time to attend to the annual draw, where we pull a month out of the hat.  That particular month is your month to plan an outing for the group, which can be whatever you fancy.  Anything from walks, picnics, rides on buses, trains or ferries, visits to the zoo, museum, movies, or exhibition.  Food generally plays an important part in these outings, and over the years we have tended to do less involving high energy.  Some of our group couldn’t make it to Robin’s afternoon, so we made sure that they get a month allocated too. 

DSCF2155   Les picking his month

With the business part of the afternoon done and dusted, we tucked into afternoon tea before everyone headed off on their homewards journeys while it was still light.  And still the rain came down! 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

New Pet Shop in Town

There’s a new pet shop in town, and it opened with a flourish last week.  We decided to add it to our list of “things to do” and check it out today.  It certainly is spacious and well laid out.  But with an existing pet shop close by, I imagine that there may only be enough trade for one, after all, we do live in quite a small town.  Time will tell if there will be enough business for both shops. 

It’s still school holidays in our neck of the woods, and there was a crowd of kids in the puppies play room.   They get taken out of their cages during the day, we were told, for some socialisation and play time.  The puppies were having a great time, racing around and having a bit of rough and tumble.  They all seemed to be cross breeds, two different pedigree dogs deliberately mated.  The cute little black and white pup was a Papillon - Toy Poodle cross, and there were several Sydney Silky pups crossed with Maltese.  Cross breeding like this can produce quite cute puppies, but I wonder why serious breeders would want to mix the breeds up this way.  And the puppies are not cheap, by any means.

DSCF2131 Puppy play time in the pet shop

We saw kittens all cuddled up asleep together, and aviaries full of small birds.  And running flat out was this little fellow in his wheel.  No matter how hard he runs, he just can’t get to the end
DSCF2135Mouse in his exercise wheel

The Mall was the next stop and we could hear the noise of excited youngsters as they watched Nigel the magician do his tricks. “Bunny Wunny” the little white rabbit was an important part of the show, along with balloon animals, and disappearing tricks.  At the end of the show there was a long queue of children waiting for their turn to pat Bunny Wunny.  The kids were enthralled by it all.

DSCF2129 The magician and his audience

After a visit to the Library, all the items of our list had been ticked off.  Wonder how our own little pet was at home on this chilly morning.  There she was, keeping nice and warm by the heater.  Cats certainly know all about keeping comfortable, don’t they?

DSCF2089 Muffy keeping warm at home

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sore Backs and Tired Limbs

After a day of hard manual labour we staggered back home at 7.00pm last night.  Our sore backs, aching shoulders and tired legs told of a busy and stressful day.  We had  been helping Robin’s brother Gary shift house, enough said!  Gary’s former home has what can only be described as a “killer drive”, so extremely steep that I for one (and the daughter of the house) would never drive a car up there.  The drive didn’t seem to bother the two young fit people, (one young man and a young woman)  who parked the moving truck at the bottom of the drive down on the street.  They carried all the large items of furniture almost effortlessly down that steep drive and loaded up the truck. 

DSCF2118 It’s no trouble when you are young and fit

There was a bit of a problem with the fridge – try as they might, it just wasn’t going to fit through the internal door.  Helpful advice was given from both sides of the door, but it was the rounded door handle which was the problem.

DSCF2120 It’s too wide for the doorway

There was only one thing for it, off with the door.  Gary tapped at the hinge pins and out they popped.  With the door removed, those couple of extra inches made all the difference.

DSCF2123 Off with the door

As the truck was being loaded, the idea was for Robin to load up our 4WD and trailer with cartons of stuff.  But the steep drive made it difficult to manoeuvre a trailer backwards behind the car.  In the end it took three people to push the trailer up the drive and into the garage.  Robin then backed his 4WD up, hitched up the trailer and started loading cartons.

DSCF2119 Pushing the trailer into the garage

Meanwhile, I helped out by washing inside some kitchen cupboards and vacuuming the floors as the bedrooms were cleared.  As the morning progressed it became obvious that the moving truck would not have the capacity to take everything, including the contents of the garage and the garden furniture.  The contract was for one shift only, so that put Robin’s brother in a bit of a spot.  Even with the boxes loaded onto our car and trailer, and the three family cars packed to the gunnels, it hardly made a dent in the amount that needed to be moved.  Gary had to hire a small self drive truck to take the balance.

DSCF2127 At the new house

We all converged at the new property and started unloading various boxes, cartons, bags and packages.  Luckily the cartons were marked so we knew which went to the kitchen, the bedrooms, the lounge or the garage.  And best of all, the new house had a nice flat section.  The two youngsters handled the heavy furniture, including that large fridge which had caused so much trouble earlier in the day.  Once everything was unloaded,  we returned back to Gary’s former home to trudge up and down that terrible driveway again to put a second load into the self drive truck.  The sun had long set, it was dark and we were tired and sore – it was time to head home.  Luckily I had my slow cooker simmering away so after a quick meal and a little telly, we collapsed into bed, worn out from the exertions of the day.

Robin had offered his services again today, so the alarm clock was set for the second morning in a row to get us up in the dark and cold.  It took two more loads in the self drive truck today to get everything shifted – that’s a whole heap of “stuff”.  So what have we learnt from this house moving exercise?  Make sure that when moving house you get a big truck capable of taking all your worldly goods in one trip.  Have a good clear out before you move.  Don’t pack too many heavy books in each carton.   Never buy a house with a steep drive.  And sad but true, we are not as young as we used to be!