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

Monday, 31 December 2012

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

And we were all ensconced in our respective vans after enjoying a meal out together.  Time to wind down, watch a bit of telly, or write a blog.  The wind was starting to blow like crazy and we glanced out the front window.  It seemed that our gazebo was in trouble, with several of the struts didn’t look quite right.  We knew there was already a breakage, and the wind must have snapped another one, leaving them hanging down  and useless.  There was only one thing for it, the gazebo had to come down.

With a quick tap on our fellow campers windows, we called for some man-power to help us dismantle the gazebo.  (It just can’t be done easily with two people).  Luckily non of our friends had yet changed into their PJs for the night, and came out in the dark to help us battle against the wind.  The ropes were loosened, the pins pulled out, and with everyone grabbing a corner, walked the gazebo into the centre to close it up, rather like folding up an extra large umbrella.  Then it was safely stored in the awning for the night, looking rather like a collection of bats hanging upside down.  Meanwhile, the wind continued to howl, shake the trees and rattle the caravan and awning overnight. 

DSCF3779 Safe inside the awning overnight

We brought our poor damaged gazebo outside this morning to dry it out before packing it away.  Robin checked for damage and discovered three of the aluminium struts were now snapped.  No wonder they snap, aluminium may be light, but is not really strong at all.  After a bit of boy’s talk, it was decided that it would be better to replace these struts instead of trying to mend them.  That will be a job for later, when we are settled in our new house.  Thanks everyone, for rallying to our call for help last night.

DSCF3781Inspecting the damage in the light of day

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Carterton Railway Museum

The Carterton Station Museum is just a hop and a skip away from the motor camp, where we are currently staying over Christmas.  The timber building was built in 1880, and the station is still used daily by commuters.  The Wairarapa Rail Society was formed in 1990 to preserve this historic station from demolition, when it was mooted to be replaced with a small concrete shelter. 


The Wairarapa Railway Restoration Society's aim is to restore the historic station building to its former glory. The development of the precinct will include facilities for steam and diesel powered trains plus restored railcars to visit and be stabled at the station precinct.

Carterton Railway Station

The tablet slings on display were a glimpse into the past.  Iron tablet slings were used to exchange tablets as the trains approached, and this task could be done at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.  The tablet gave the driver authority to enter that part of the line.
 DSCF3770 Train tablets

People of our vintage can remember the famous cup and saucers printed with the Railway insignia.  I have sipped many delicious cups of milky coffee and eaten big slabs of fruit cake using this very same crockery from the Tea Rooms at Wellington Railway Station. 

DSCF3768 Railway crockery

The Society won the 2007 Rail Heritage Trust Restoration Award and this is proudly displayed with other memorabilia and rail artefacts in the museum.

DSCF3772 Restoration Award

With the main trunk line being closed for maintenance, the Wairarapa line was particularly busy with extra freight trains.  One was due to pass by during our visit to the museum, and a group of volunteers from the Society were keen to see what it consisted of.  Our group watched and waited too, cameras at the ready.
DSCF3776 Freight train rushing by

As the train rushed past the station, one of the volunteers did a quick count and announced,  “29 wagons, 3 locos, 1 driver”.  The train had passed by in too much of a blur for any of us to  do this sort of count.

DSCF3778 Talking about trains

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Grand old “Belvedere House”

Thunder and lightning shook our caravan last night – we could swear that the thunderclaps were positioned right overhead.  As we huddled under the bedclothes, the thunder rumbled angrily in the clouds, before departing to let us sleep in peace.  The storm cleared the wet weather away, and we woke to a fine, sunny Wairarapa morning, after several days of wind and rain.

We needed a walk, we decided, to get those kinks out of our backs, and to partake in a little much needed exercise after all that sitting around the camp site.  On the way to town we passed one of Carterton’s early pubs, which had fallen on hard times.  A group of people were hard at work with paintbrushes. 

DSCF3752  It’s a big job, painting an old pub

Built in 1890, and originally known as the White Hart Hotel, the Club Hotel served locals and travelling public alike, and contained a ground floor a commercial room, several sitting rooms, office, and a large dining room. The first floor housed a sitting room, the bedrooms, and a bathroom. It was reported that “a good table is kept, and the bar is stocked with the best brands of liquors”.   Stables and yards were available in the grounds, and a horse and carriage provided patrons with a shuttle service from the nearby railway station.  The hotel was closed in 2005 after 125 years of use, and was badly damaged by fire in January 2009.

The Club Hotel, Carterton.
Sue and Peter had bought this building a couple of years ago, and it is their retirement project, she told us.  Sue kindly stopped her painting and took us inside to show us the bare bones of the building, and what progress they had made. It suffered a fire prior to their purchase, and we could see some of the charred boards inside.  The family are slowly working away to restore the building, learning how to re-sash windows, adding insulation, and doing the 101 jobs necessary to bring the building up to scratch.   No, it won’t be starting up again as a pub, we were told.   The  family quarters are already finished upstairs, and future plans include making bedrooms available upstairs for residents, and leasing the downstairs areas to tenants.   This grand old building will be renamed “Belvedere House”.  We wish Sue and Peter well in their enterprise to bring this grand old building back to life again.   

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Now we are Three

Those sultry temperatures have departed for a while, thanks to a night of heavy rainfall.  That certainly made sleeping so much more comfortable.  Our friends Don and Pamela have now arrived, put their caravan on site, so now we are three.  Their large awning was certainly handy to gather in last last to shelter from the wind and rain.

 DSCF3743 Three vans on holiday together

Our cat Muffy is showing no interest lately in venturing outside the comfort of the caravan.  It’s so much nicer, she has decided, to spend the day snoozing away on the couch.  But we feel that she really needs some fresh air so out she goes for a little bit of exercise and a change of scenery.  The wet grass was not to her liking, and she shakes each foot in turn, with a look of disdain on her face.  “Can I go back inside now”, she seems to be saying.

DSCF3748 Muffy would rather be inside

Walking downtown today we came across many interesting historical buildings.  This one in particular caught my eye, a 4th generation woodworking company.  The door was open, and we poked our heads inside.

DSCF3744 An interesting Carterton building

Daniel King set up his joinery business in 1887.  As the town developed, so did the business, and expanded to incorporate builders, joiners, painters, furnishings and the town funeral services.  Today, Kings are specialist joiners and cabinetmakers, and the company is still in direct family ownership.  The company uses sustainably grown timbers, as well as recovered and recycled timbers.  We were amazed at the size of the huge beech burr in the showroom, about five feet in diameter, and just couldn’t resist rubbing our hands over it.   Now beautifully polished, the burr was dug out of the ground at Mohaka.   Peter King told us that he has had many requests for this burr to be sliced and made into coffee tables – but he he always declines.  He wants it to remain as it is, a piece of natural beauty which needs to be treasured and protected. 

DSCF3746 Polished beech burr

The company has plans for a museum and there are already a few woodworking items on display.  This will be extended as time progresses, and Peter King wants to share his love of working with timber to the community.  Timber is his passion, and it certainly shines through.

DSCF3747 Wood working tools on display

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Kiwi Christmas Greetings

Our Kiwi Christmas was a very laid back affair.  Here we are, camping at Carterton in sunny Wairarapa.  This area is well known for hot summer weather, and yesterday was especially hot, in a sultry sticky kind of way.  Our biggest problem was trying to keep cool, and we seemed to spend all day eating. 

We spent all day outside under the gazebo.  Breakfast was croissants packed with ham and cheese, served toasty warm from the oven, yummy.  Then we made a few cell phone calls to family members scattered around the country who were having their own Christmas Day celebrations.

Robin did an excellent job at the BBQ as he kept patiently turning our chicken roll-ups over and over to ensure they were cooked to perfection.  And of course, they were.  Served with cool salads, they were delicious.  With a chilled boysenberry trifle for dessert, and a glass of bubbly, our Christmas Lunch was a campers delight.

DSCF3734 Robin cooking our chicken-roll-ups

Dot was cooking roast chicken, roast vegetables and chicken roll-ups as well in her electric fry pan, and it smelt delicious.  Doing the cooking outside ensures that the cooking smells do not get into the caravan furnishings.

DSCF3736 Roast chicken dinner

Father Christmas called and left us a few goodies to open up on Christmas morning.  Including lots of chocolates, home made fudge, boxes of biscuits and nuts – we don’t really need fattening up, do we?

DSCF3738 A Christmas read for her and him 

DSCF3737 What Kiwi bloke doesn’t love Tui beer?

We have to admit that the heat got a bit too much and we succumbed to the traditional of a Christmas afternoon nap for an hour, waking up much refreshed.  Then it was out again under the shade, staying outside till well after the sun was down, enjoying the much cooler evening temperatures.  The Wairarapa temperatures reached well over 30 degrees, we reckon.

Merry Christmas to readers, followers and fellow blog writers where ever you may be.  May 2013 be good to us all.

Monday, 24 December 2012

One more Sleep till Santa comes

With one more sleep to go, the motor camp is still relatively empty.  But a lot of campers like to have Christmas at home so we expect a lot of arrivals from Boxing Day onwards.   Our friends Dot and Derek arrived today to keep us company, and Don and Pamela are expected on Boxing Day.

DSCF3724 Gypsy Rover and Romany Rambler parked side by side

Our caravan fridge is full to overflowing with food for our Christmas lunch, chicken roll-ups waiting to go on the BBQ, potatoe salad, boysenberry trifle and tasty chocolate cherry balls.  I don’t think we will be going hungry at all.

DSCF3721 Chocolate cherry balls in the making

There is a little gentle rain falling, but it is much cooler outside than in the caravan.  That’s what Derek thinks anyway, as he sits in the rain under his big umbrella.

DSCF3725 Summer rain

The weather man has promised us an extra hot, sticky day tomorrow, with the temperature reaching 31 degrees!  Whew – that’s really hot.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Ready and Waiting for Father Christmas

Owning a caravan is a bit like always being on holiday, we think.  We’ve been living in our caravan for the last few weeks at our friends property in rural Otaki, while we wait for our new home to be built.  Then we hitched up and left on Saturday morning for our Christmas/New Year holiday break.  (What do we need a break for, you may well ask, since we are now a pair of happily retired baby-boomers).  Planning the trip from Otaki to the Wairarapa put us in a bit of a dilemma.  Would it be quicker to travel north and drive across the Pahiatua Track, or backtrack south through Kapiti, over the Haywards Hill, then the Rimutaka Hill?  Robin punched the routes into his handy Garmin GPS and the answer was – go south. 

The upper reaches of the Rimutaka Hill was swathed in mist and looked very “other worldly”.  We wondered if a Hobbit or two would be appearing, chased perhaps by one of those nasty Orks, but we only things we saw were cars spookily appearing out of the mist.

DSCF3700 Conditions on the Rimutaka Hill

Driving back down the hill, we were soon bathed in the Wairarapa sunshine, and were warmly welcomed into Carterton Holiday Park by Pete and Di.  There has been a new office extension and deck added to the managers house since our last visit, so much more roomy for customers.
DSCF3713 New camp office

With the caravan parked on site, I did my best to help Robin with the job of erecting the awning.  It was hard work in the hot muggy conditions, I can tell you, especially when Robin had the job of banging in the pegs.   The awning will give us some extra storage space for all those extras we have brought away with us.  But modern camping doesn’t end there, does it?  Mustn’t forget to set up the satellite dish for the TV. 

DSCF3711 On site at Carterton

We had another job to do today – to erect our gazebo which will give us some much needed shade.  This job is much easier with several people helping, but we made do with just the pair of us. The whole thing unfolds like a large brolly.  We each  grabbed a corner, and walked out a little, moved around to take another portion, and repeat again and again.

DSCF3716 Unfolding the gazebo

DSCF3718Job completed

Now we are all ready and looking forward to our caravan friends who will be arriving over the next day or two to keep us company.  And that be-whiskered jolly fat fellow in red should be putting in an appearance very soon too – wonder if he will have a present or two for us?  We will just have to wait and see, won’t we.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Post Cards from Otaki

DSCF3603 We’ve had beautiful sunsets

DSCF3513Been surrounded by cows

DSCF3610Robin played on the lawn mower

DSCF3615And Muffy needed her cuddles
Goodbye Otaki,  for a while, we are off for a caravan holiday in Carterton over Christmas and New Year.  But we will be back again soon.  Guess those lawns will need mowing again by the time we get back.

Friday, 21 December 2012

We now have a Floor

Exciting news -  we received notification that the concrete floor of our new home was being laid.  Plus photos too – many thanks to friends D & D who live in the same village and keep an eye on things for us.  Yesterday the site looked like this.

IMG_7906 Reinforcing mesh laid over the sand

IMG_7918 Concrete floor being laid

And today, we drove up to Levin to see for ourselves.  The concrete floor was being hosed down and swept.  The workman explained how he had just finished doing “seismic cuts” in the concrete floor.  This offers some protection from cracking in the event of an earthquake.  That’s good to know.

DSCF3696 Hosing and sweeping the concrete floor

A friendly neighbour came over to chat with us.  A large truck arrived very early in the morning, he informed us, and delivered two large loads of timber.  The builders will be working over the Christmas break, we were told, so we expect the walls to go up quite quickly.  Especially as it appears that they have been delivered pre-nailed.

DSCF3695 Walls for the house

We are moving on to Carterton tomorrow for a couple of weeks of caravanning R & R.  But I imagine that being away from the building site for two whole weeks will prove too much for us.  Guess we will be making the 250km round trip now and again to check on the building progress.  And to take more photos, of course.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Happy 89th Birthday

It’s Happy Birthday today for Robin’s Mum – she’s reached the grand old age of 89 years.  We had a quiet meal out tonight to celebrate, the two elder brothers, the birthday girl and me.  As it is so close to the festive season, we had a Christmas menu to chose from. 
DSCF3690  Brother Gary, Robin and Bonnie

This time next year the family will be celebrating Bonnie’s “Big 90th Birthday”.  That will need a bit of planning, I imagine, to get the whole family in one place at the same time.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Places to go, and people to see

It’s been another busy day, travelling down to the Hutt Valley.  We had places to go and people to see.   After a little business (and Jenny had time to check out a new quilt shop), we drove down to Petone Beach and bought some lunch.  Sitting in the car, we looked out across the beach to the bright lights of Wellington City.  Actually, it looked a little hazy, which was quite an improvement on the previous day, when mist and low clouds had kept the airport closed for several hours. 

Petone is full of history.  The first immigrant ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone Beach following the long voyage out from England on 22 January 1840.  At that time, the  Hutt Valley was covered in dense forest and swamp, and rich in native bird life.  Maori from the nearby pa assisted the settlers to build their homes on Pito-one Beach, now known as Petone. These settlers established New Zealand's first bank and newspaper.

DSCF3626 Petone Beach, looking across to Wellington

There was a handy coffee cart right on the beach, so I could indulge in a nice latte.  The red flowering pohutakawa tree is known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree and the bright flowers promise a long hot summer.

DSCF3629   Pohutakawa tree by the coffee cart

After this bit of R & R we headed over the hill to Wainuiomata to visit friends Geoff and Pauline.  They have just purchased a new coffee machine (I’ve seen George Clooney with one of these on TV so it must be good) so were keen to see what we thought.  In no time at all, we were served piping hot cups of coffee with lovely frothy milk, served with freshly baked scones with jam and cream, made by Geoff.   We also came away with a bag of plums, picked straight off the tree, thanks so much Pauline.

DSCF3639 Coffee time

Back in the car, back over the Wainuiomata Hill, and our next stop was Paremata.  We were a little early for our appointment so wandered down to the harbour.  Family groups were splashing about and jumping off the bridge, while the traffic kept whizzing by.  A 4WD was backed into the water and hooking up a boat to tow it out of the water.  While we were watching the world go by, a train taking weary commuters on their homeward journey  raced across the rail bridge

DSCF3642Enjoying time in the water at Paremata Harbour

DSCF3647Commuter train crossing the water

We had been invited to the Paremata office of Harcourts Real Estate, together with many others who had sold their properties recently, and entered into a lucky draw of $10,000 travel voucher.  There was a bit of mixing and mingling to get through first, and the head honchos of the company did the rounds and spoke to all those in attendance.  Drinks were served, and all sorts of large platters of interesting food was passed around.  Where shall we go if we win the voucher, we asked ourselves.  How about a trip to Las Vegas, then on to the Grand Canyon?  That’s where we will go, we decided.

DSCF3651Our names are in that bucket

A young police constable came to help with the draw, put in her hand and pulled out…….no, not our names, sadly.  We will have to put our trip to the Grand Canyon on hold for a while.

DSCF3655 It wasn’t us who won

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Family Time

It was time for a pre-Christmas visit to the family in Kiwitea as we will all be doing our “own thing” on Christmas Day.  We had some presents to drop off, and maybe, if we have been very, very good all year, some to collect from them to take home with us.  The farm dogs Bounce and Patch must have recognised us from previous visits, and didn’t make a sound when we arrived.  Bounce the pup has really grown, and is turning into a leggy adolescence.

DSCF3564 Bounce and Patch

Daughter Nicky made us a yummy lunch, plus a home baked ginger and pear cake for afternoon tea, so we were very well looked after.  After lunch grand-daughter Megan took us outside to admire her favourite pony, Speight's Gold.  Megan had no trouble jumping up and riding without a saddle.  The pony has been fitted with a nose shade to stop his pale nose getting sunburnt in the hot summer sun.

DSCF3572 Megan and Speight's Gold

DSCF3574She can even go backwards

Daughter Nicky is the only one in this family who doesn’t ride.  She gets rather cross with the horses as they keep eating her native trees along the fence-lines when she has invested time and money trying to get them established.  Here she is talking to Sonic.

DSCF3575 Nicky and Sonic

Our other grand-daughter Emma arrived home after her work-day shift.  She really only likes having her photo taken riding horses, but here she is posing with her Nana.

DSCF3576 Jenny and Emma

We didn’t leave empty handed and came away with a whole swag of gifts.  The home made fudge will be going straight into the fridge, and we will have to find a home in the caravan for the others till Christmas Day.  On second thoughts, we may keep the pressies in the car boot, there’s not much spare room in the caravan.  We even scored some fish – caught by son-in-law Robert on his recent fishing trip out with the boys.  Thanks, Robert.
DSCF3592 Not to be opened till Christmas Day