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

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Busy in the Back Yard

Flushed with success after constructing our kitset raised veggie garden, in which the boards just slotted together, Robin decided to make another raised garden.  But this time, it was quite a different task altogether.  The triangular garden in the corner was not so  easy, nothing was cut-to-size and delivered this time.  This was a real blokes job and involved a trip to the lumber yard to purchase macrocarpa boards, plus a copious supply of long galvanised self tapping bolts to hold it all together.  Then the serious business of measuring and cutting.  “Measure twice and cut once” is the mantra of home handymen and quilters alike.

DSCF6208 Cutting the boards to size

I was helping as required, holding the timber when needed, or keeping well out of the way as the long boards were swung around and put in place.  The electric drill made short work of putting those bolts in place.

DSCF6212 Putting the bolts in

Then came the all important job of filling the garden up with soil.  Luckily, we had soil to spare – two large piles  left over from when the workmen came to do our extra concreting jobs.  Backwards and forwards Robin trudged with barrow loads of soil.  He had made a ramp out of an extra length of timber, which made it so much easier to tip the soil into the new garden. 
P8150005  Adding the soil

We have planted out a couple of baby Kowhai trees which we potted up from our previous garden.  Also taken were some Iris tubers, a gift from a friend many years ago – we couldn’t leave them behind.  We were surprised that these have survived so well all these months.  With the addition of a few more shrubs (natives, we decided) and a covering of bark chips to keep the weeds down, our easy care garden will soon be finished.   Less time doing gardening means more time to go caravanning – that’s our philosophy, anyway!

P8310037 Transplanted kowhai tree and iris tubers

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Beer for Breakfast and Weasel Coffee after Dinner

It wasn’t really beer,  but some nice hot toast made from the loaf of beer bread I made yesterday.  And very nice it was too.   I used a bottle of Robin’s Tui East Indian Pale Ale beer, flour, baking powder and a little salt, mixed it all around, put the mixture in a loaf tin and baked it for an hour.  The fizzy beer made the dough rise well, and the loaf turned out well cooked, with a nice crusty top.  It couldn’t have been more simple – in fact, so simple, even a husband could make it.

P8290008Robin’s  favourite beer - Tui

After dinner we decided it was finally time to face the “weasel” coffee from Vietnam and give it a try.  Weasel coffee is quite highly prized  over there.  Robin’s sister Kaye has been living and working in Vietnam for the last year or two, and brought a packet of this delicacy back for Robin when she had a fleeting visit home recently.

P8290009 Weasel coffee from Vietnam

Coffee beans are fed to weasels, or in the case of Vietnam which has no native weasels, civet cats.  The coffee beans pass through the animals gut and is excreted, gathered up, washed (we hope), roasted, ground, packaged, and bought by eager customers.  We brewed a cup each using the dinky little Vietnamese coffee filter.

P8290011 Filtering our weasel coffee

So what did we think of coffee made from beans going in one end of a civet and pooped out the other?  Actually, not too bad at all.  We added cream and a little sugar, and it was certainly tasty enough, just like brewed coffee anywhere.  We just won’t reflect on the journey those coffee beans have taken.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Jubilee Fire Museum, Masterton

Situated adjacent to the Wool Shed Museum (which we visited on Sunday) is the Jubilee Fire Museum.  This small museum declares it “celebrates a bygone era in fire fighting services”.  Pride of place is the Jubilee horse drawn fire appliance, a magnificent example of Victorian engineering.  Purchased by the Masterton Borough Council in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the town’s first fire engine was named the Jubilee Fire Engine in recognition of this milestone.

P8250088 Jubilee Fire Engine

The Jubilee appliance is a horse drawn Shand Mason steam pump, which can deliver 300 gallons (1440 litres) of water per minute. The engine was fired by coal, which burned in an under-slung fire bucket.  Fires were a major hazard to the early settlers, with fire spreading rapidly between houses and commercial buildings all constructed of native timber.  The Jubilee had a long and active working life, remaining in active service until 1925 when a motorised appliance was purchased.
The museum has various fire fighting  photos, uniforms  and memorabilia scattered around.  (Did you know that Robin worked for the NZ Fire Service for 5 years as a Contracts Manager purchasing the new style gold coloured protective clothing for fire fighters?)   I particularly liked the fireman sliding down the pole, dressed in his long woollen underwear. He’s off to save the town from burning down!

P8250092 Down the pole

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Wool Shed

It’s a bit like being a pair of squatters – parking our caravan for a couple of nights in our friend’s driveway in Featherston.  It was Les’s turn to arrange this month’s SLG outing and as we lived the farthest away, he had invited us to bring our caravan and stay for the weekend.  So here we were, safely tucked alongside the garage.  Les was most impressed with Robin’s backing skills as he manoeuvred the caravan up the drive and under the carport.

P8250017 Two nights in Featherston

The rest of the group arrived after the long winding drive over the Rimutakas, drank a reviving cuppa and and engaged in a little of chit-chat,  we then headed off to Masterton for to our first stop, lunch at “Dish” cafe.  What a busy, bustling place this was, always a good sign, plenty of customers must mean great food, we feel.  Robin couldn’t go past the Big Breakfast, and I chose hot cakes with berries and cream, so yummy.  According to a recent article in the papers, Kiwis spend a staggering $3.49 billion annually eating out at cafes and restaurants!  (We personally don’t go that often, truly we don’t!)  Fed and watered, it was not too far to our next stop, “The Wool Shed”, the National Museum of Sheep and Shearing.

P8250022 Outside the Wool Shed

The museum is in two relocated pioneer wool sheds and tells of sheep farming in New Zealand. The first sheep flocks were brought over from Sydney. Australia, and driven around the rugged coast from Wellington to the Wairarapa coast, and currently there are about 35 million sheep in New Zealand.  We were given a sheep shearing demonstration, with the hand piece powered by an old Lister CS diesel engine.

P8250027 Lister engine ran the shearing hand pieces

The first sheep was pulled from the pen, sat on it’s rump while leaning against the shearer’s legs, and the shearing commenced.  The shearer aims for long smooth strokes, we were told, slicing away the fleece without nicking the skin.  


It looks easy but all that bending must play havoc with the shearer’s backs.   The shorn sheep looks half it’s size once the fleece is removed.

P8250041 All done

Once the entire fleece has been removed from the sheep, the fleece is thrown, clean side down, on to a wool table by a shed hand (commonly known in New Zealand and Australian sheds as a roustabout or roustie). This enables short pieces of wool and any debris to gather beneath the table separately from the fleece  .There it will be skirted, (picked over removing unwanted bits and pieces), rolled and classed then pressed into an appropriate wool bale.  This high quality Merino fleece was donated to the museum,  as was the 100 year old wool table on which it rests.

P8250102 Throwing the fleece onto the wool table

There were plenty of interesting displays at the museum, videos running, old photos and equipment – plenty for everyone.  A young Dad and his two boys were also there having a look around, and he had some shearing equipment to donate to the museum.

P8250108 Static display of life in the shearing shed

We then drove back to Anne and Les’s home for afternoon tea, and most importantly, the SLG Annual Draw.  This is when it it decided who has which month for the next year’s outings.  Months of the year were put in a hat, passed around the group as we pulled one out each.  Then the bargaining took place.  A few wanted to swap months as they had a special major birthday coming up, or some other similar need to request a specific month instead of their allocated one.  After a few raised voices had their say it all worked out in the end and most of us went away happy.  The other guests drove home, we chatted to our hosts for a while, then retired to the caravan.  But not before catching sight of the glorious Wairarapa sunset, out came the camera again to capture those lovely colours.  What a lovely finish to an great day!

P8250125 Wairarapa sunset

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Military History in Featherston

Moving on from Eketahuna to stop at Featherston for a couple of nights, we didn’t know that our next stop was originally named Burlings after an 1840s pioneer.  It was renamed Featherston in 1854 after Dr Isaac Featherston, Wellington’s first provincial superintendant.  Featherston may well be a sleepy little town these days, but it is full of military history.   During WW1 it was the site of New Zealand's largest military camp, with only a memorial to show for it after all these years.   The camp housed 4500 men in huts, and 3000 men in tents, known as Canvas Town.   Most of the men were gunners and signallers, but infantrymen came to the camp for their final eight weeks of training.  It was a self contained small town,  with shops, a post office, and 16 dining halls.   The camp served  for a “Hardening Up” process and departure point prior to the long Rimutaka route march over the hill and final embarkation from Wellington.

P8240012 Featherston Military Camp during WW1

P8240005 Featherston Military Camp Memorial

The magnificent Anzac Hall on the corner of Birdwood and Bell Streets was built in 1916 after public fundraising  as a place to entertain the troops in training. The building included reading and writing rooms, billiard tables, a large refreshment bar, and hot and cold baths.  The hall was donated to the Featherston Borough Council in 1919 as a memorial to fallen soldiers of the Wairarapa.

P8240001 Anzac Hall, built for the use of the soldiers in Featherston Camp

Featherson boasts a very striking War Memorial in the town centre to honour soldiers killed in the Great War.  The cupola and fence surrounding the memorial were made from stones brought from the nearby Tauherenikau River.  The use of stones is symbolic of the first fatigues of new recruits at the Featherston Military Camp, picking up stones. 

P8240016 Featherston War Memorial

At the request of the United States, the camp was re-established as a P.O.W. camp in September 1942.  About 800 prisoners from the Battle of Guadalcanal were housed there, many of them conscripts.  The early prisoners  spent their days making furniture, operating a jute mill, and working on farms and a piggery.  The camp's most infamous event was on 25 February 1943 during a sit-in of 240 new prisoners, who refused to work. The exact sequence of events is not known, but Lieutenant Adachi was shot and wounded by the camp adjutant. This led to the prisoners either charging or appearing to charge the guards, who opened fire with rifles and sub-machine guns. Thirty seconds later 31 prisoners were dead, with another 17 dying later of their injuries, and 74 wounded. On the New Zealand side, a ricochet from a burst of the gunfire killed Private Walter Pelvin and six others were wounded. A military court of enquiry exonerated New Zealand. It blamed the incident on cultural differences that were made worse by the language barrier, but also accused two Japanese officers of inciting their fellow prisoners.  Among the issues was that the Japanese did not know that under the Third Geneva Convention compulsory work was allowed. The event remains a testimony to cultural misunderstanding for the Featherston community today. (Don’t mention the War).   After the end of the war the prisoners were worried that they could be attacked in New Zealand over the conditions of Japanese prisoner of war camps. The prisoners embarked on 30 December 1945, travelling to Japan on two large American LSTs (tank landing ships).

These days the memorial is a peaceful place, planted with a grove of cherry trees and memorial seats are dotted around which were donated by the New Zealand RSA,  the Japanese Embassy, and Featherston’s “Twin City”, Messines.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Entertaining Times at Eketahuna

There we were, camped in isolated splendour, enjoying the peaceful surroundings at Eketahuna Camping Ground.  It didn’t last too long, as one after another, other vehicles rolled into camp.  First up was a piggy back camper with a difference.  The “Bigfoot” van body was attached to a double cab Mitsubishi 4x4 truck body.  Another small camper soon parked up in the same area and were invited to check out their larger neighbour.  We watched in amazement as everyone climbed up a large step ladder to get into the 5th wheeler – obviously the only way in and out of the van, other than through the cab doors.  Too bad if an earthquake struck while you were negotiating that ladder!

P8230008 In and out using a step ladder

Next to arrive was a Japanese couple in a rental motor-home who obviously could not read the “Keep off the Grass”sign.  They  drove on to the grass alongside our caravan and the wheels sunk lower and lower into the mud.  Oh dear!  The husband could speak very little English and didn’t know what to do.  Luckily his wife had a much better command of English and climbed behind the wheel.  With Robin and the camp manager guiding, she was instructed to start the engine, put it into reverse, back out off the grass, and for goodness sake, don’t stop at all till she reached the hard standing.  To her credit, she did very well, and the motor-home was soon hooked up on a nice dry site.

P8230009 Backing off the wet soft grass as instructed

Robin looked out the window as a familiar looking motor-home drove in.  “That’s Stu”, he announced, as he went outside to say hello.  Stu and Robin were truck drivers at Toops for the final years of their working lives.  Stu and Dawn travel with their dog and cat, and parked up behind us on the asphalt.  We had a good catch-up after our evening meal, going over old times.

P8230012 We’re not on our own any more in camp

Stu was in the dog house when he ran out of gas overnight.  That’s something else he didn’t check before leaving home, I heard him mutter.  (At his age, he should know better).  Never mind, he can get his gas bottle topped up today when they continue on their trip.

P8240013 The gas bottle is empty

We had quite an entertaining time with all these antics in camp.  Locals walk down with their dogs, people ride by on bikes, and we noticed several cars driving down to the river in the dark – goodness knows what they had on their minds.  There is always something happening when you’re camping.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Please keep off the Grass

Just home a week, and we’re off caravanning again.  It’s not a bad life, is it?  But before we left, Robin decided that the caravan needed a good clean.  Especially the roof, it was covered in yellow pine pollen mixed in with dirt and road dust.  We shifted the caravan from it’s parking area around the corner and parked overnight it in the “ever so handy” set of car parks at the side of our villa.  It was then close enough to put on power, with the power cord snaking over the grass and up through our kitchen window.  That allows the fridge time to get cold before we travel, and we could give the floor a good going over with the vacuum cleaner.  And being parked just out the door makes it so much easier to pack up for a trip away.

Several of the village oldies stopped to chat with Robin while he was up on the ladder.  “Why don’t you climb up on the roof?”, one of them wanted to know.  That wouldn’t be advisable, these vans are not built to have people walking over the roof. 

P8220001 A man’s work is never done

Getting rid of that pollen off the caravan didn’t last long at all.  We travelled north today, and up and over the Pahiatua Track, which was covered in pine trees.  We could see clouds of pollen in the air as we drove along, and the road seemed to have splodges of yellow paint all over it where the pollen had fallen.  Many people suffer from hay fever at this time of year, but luckily it does not seem to affect us. 

We arrived at Eketahuna Camping Ground to find it devoid of campers, except for the two long timers who are parked down under the trees.  They tend to keep to themselves and are unofficial watch dogs at the camp, letting the off site managers know when travellers arrive.  “Grass very wet, please keep off  the grass”,  the sign warned us.  So we parked on the hard, all on our lonesome. 

P8230004  All alone at Ekatahuna

We’re off to discover the delights of Eketahuna today – there is sure to be a few things of interest in this tiny place.  Then it’s back on the road and down to Featherston tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Can’t blame the Earthquake for this!

Oh dear – the little bearded man is no more.  He lives in the caravan and now he is broken in two (OFF WITH HIS HEAD!).  With his cute little face, big ears, a silly grin, long straggly whiskers and a cheeky hat, this was Robin’s pride and joy.  He was presented to Robin as winner of the “Best Beard” competition at the Regional Caravan Club Rally way back in 2000.  Ever since the prize giving he has been proudly displayed in the caravan and has travelled many, many, miles with us, all over the country.  But he will travel no more.  Our caravan was certainly rattled and shaken around last weekend, but we can’t blame the earth quakes for this.  Sadly, it was all my fault.

P8210035The little bearded man is no more

When we pack up the caravan to move on, the pair of us have different duties.  “You look after the inside, and I’ll do the outside”, Robin likes to tell me.  My duties include making sure all the drawers are secured, take various items off the bench and place in the cupboard,  lift the TV off it’s wall bracket (it travels tucked under the pillows on the bed), and take the little bearded man down from the pelmet.  Everything was done to plan except “you know what”.  On arriving home I found the head and the body rolling around the floor.  Oh dear - it looked like he had been beheaded.  So I had to “fess up” and take the consequences.  Just look at that sad face, holding the two pieces – you can tell he is disappointed in me.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Simple Pleasures

A stay at Paekakariki Holiday Park is not complete without a walk down to the beach.  Especially a walk ending in an ice-cream, a cold drink, or maybe a coffee.  Simple pleasures indeed - you can see that it doesn’t take much to make this bunch of happy campers very happy indeed.

Purchases made, we sat down on a picnic table in the sunshine to take in the view.  The waves were rolling up on the beach, the sea was sparkling in the sunshine, and Kapiti Island was away in the distance.

P8170018 Kapiti Island from Paekakariki Beach

P8170022 Looking towards Pukerua Bay

We tried out the timer delay function on the new camera, placing it at the end of the picnic table.  But the camera was too low, and chopped off our heads.  The suggestion was made to place it on one of the ice-cream containers to give it extra height.  There, that’s better.  Robin  balanced it carefully on top of the empty ice-cream container, set the timer, then ran back quickly and sat down.  We waited expectantly for the flashing red light, then click, the photo was taken. 

P8170019 Robin, Jenny, Dot and Derek at the beach

A couple of hardy souls in wet suits walked across the near empty beach carrying their surf boards.  The tide was out so they had quite a walk to get to deeper water.  We watched, eyes squinting in the bright glare as they waited for a big wave to carry them back in.

P8170024 .Let’s go surfing

Ambling back to camp we peered over peoples fences, admired gardens, noticed a couple of rusty caravans, and generally just wandered along enjoying the walk and the company.  There were plenty of birds on the overhead power lines, sitting and chirping away.   I wonder how they reacted to all the earthquakes over the weekend?  Did they fly away chirping loudly in fright each time the ground moved and the power lines swung madly?  Or maybe like our cat Muffy, they didn’t notice anything amiss at all? 

P8170025 Birds on a wire or two

Monday, 19 August 2013

Weekend at Paekakariki

After the stress and worry of that BIG earthquake, followed by a host of aftershocks, we settled back down into “caravan rally mode” for the rest of the weekend.  Such as 4zees outside in the sunshine – what could be nicer than that?  Although we did keep saying, “Is that another one coming?”, while the ground continued to move under our seats in the afternoon and shake our caravans during the evening.

P8160011 It’s 4zees o'clock!

Although there were other campers dotted about at Paekakariki Holiday Park over the weekend, we seemed to be the biggest (and noisiest) group. The grounds and gardens are well kept and flowering spring bulbs made a bright and cheerful statement.  We noticed several Monarch butterflies fluttering around the trees.  Out came my new camera to snap this beauty sunning itself.

P8180028 Monarch butterfly in the sunshine

The bright sunshine also showed up a whole lot of spider webs hanging off the roof line of Geoff and Eileen’s caravan.  Rather than feeling shame faced for not cleaning the outside of his caravan regularly, Geoff seemed quite proud of his spider web collection.  He regularly takes his resident spiders on caravan trips, we know, and even took some down south last year when we travelled together on our South Island Odyssey.

P8160008He loves his spiders

P8160009Some of Geoff’s Otaki spider collection

Don and Pamela planned our weekend and the details were written up on the club notice board.  Our rally weekends are not too organised, and there is always time for plenty of socialising, sitting in the sunshine, reading, or just blobbing out, whatever takes our fancy.

P8170013 Rally Captain Don writing on the blackboard

We all took part in making an impromptu speech on Saturday evening – that was a little difficult for most of us.  The men were given a feminine subject each, and the ladies had to talk about such things as electronics and model railways.  The timer was on and we bumbled through our subject matter, trying to think of enough to say until the bell rang signalling the end of our ordeal. As a reward we shared Don’s birthday cake for supper, as he celebrated turning another year older.

P8170027 Happy Birthday Don

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Things went Pear-shaped

It was Friday afternoon, all our caravans were parked up for the weekend rally, but one of our members was yet to arrive.  Ever the dutiful husband, Selwyn climbed into his car and drove off to collect Kath from her place of work in Wellington city. The trip shouldn’t have taken too long, about 45 minutes or so but…….

Selwyn was driving along quietly, minding his own business, when the car started acting funny.  “Must be a puncture”, he thought, and pulled over to the side of the road.  Strangely enough, several other cars had done the same.  Selwyn checked his tyres, and sure enough, one was flat.  The other drivers who had also pulled over were walking around checking their cars too, peering underneath, and generally trying to make sense of what had just happened.  It was 2.31pm and the big 6.6 earthquake had just occurred.  Not that they probably knew that at the time.

Changing the flattie for the spare – one of those light “Space Saver” tyres, Selwyn slowly drove on to buy a new tyre.  The ground movement had shaken the car so much that the tyre had been moved off the rim and deflated, Selwyn found out later.

Meanwhile, Kath had problems of her own.  After the big shake, workers were pouring out of office buildings into the streets and trying to make their way home.  But the trains weren’t running until all the tracks could be checked for damage.  Even with a new tyre on the car, Selwyn could not drive into the city as the streets were grid-locked with traffic going nowhere.  Everything had gone pear shaped! 

Police stopped traffic outside the Wellington train station to get drivers with empty seats in their vehicles to pick up stranded passengers, after drivers started the initiative of coming to the station to offer rides.  Police who were at the station saw the gesture and stepped in to organise the situation.  Kath finally got a ride up to Kapiti Coast in a car full of strangers all happy to be heading home and met up with Selwyn.  Thank goodness for cell phones so they were able to keep in communication.  They finally arrived safely back at camp, each with quite a tale to tell.

New Zealand Rail reported that 11 commuter trains were stuck between platforms for up to an hour after the earthquake, and thousands of commuters were left stranded in Wellington by the cancelled train services.  Buses started to arrive at the station shortly before 5pm and those commuters who hadn’t found lifts were finally on their way home.  But the mass exodus from the city caused traffic chaos in the suburbs as drivers tried to avoid the motorway and get home via back streets. It was going to be a long night for some travellers.  Although there have been a number of incidents involving broken glass in the city, there were no reports of any casualties.  What a day, it could have been so much worse.

P8180029   Selwyn’s new tyre

Friday, 16 August 2013

Yes, the Earth did move, Darling

It all started like this – what’s wrong, my legs feel really strange?  We were walking across the supermarket car park and the ground started bucking up and down.   Holding on the the trolley as our legs tried hard to hold us up, we looked in wonder as the parked cars started bouncing up and down.  Wow – that was a big earthquake! The biggest one we have felt for some time.  Let’s hope it is not “The Big One” which is well overdue in the Wellington region. 

GeoNet said the big quake stuck at 2.31pm and it was graded as a 6.6.  Its centre was 10km south east of Seddon at a depth of 8km.  Police said it appeared there was buildings were severely damaged in  Seddon, which has been the centre of seismic shaking since a magnitude 6.5 tremor struck on July 21.

TV's Sam Wallace tweets photo of damaged houseDamaged house in Seddon, photo by Sam Wallace / Twitter

In Wellington, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said at 4pm that there was no indication of severe damage in the capital, but she described the traffic system as "chaos".  Roads were gridlocked and the situation was compounded by the cancellation of all rail services. Hundreds of people were stranded at Wellington Railway Station.

Traffic jam
Traffic in and out of Wellington centre blocked - and no trains.

We are staying at Paekakariki Holiday Park for the weekend, and everyone felt the earth move.  There have been quite a number of after shocks, in fact, while I am writing this, another earthquake is shaking the caravan.  Paekakariki is quite close to the coast line and we are relieved that there has not been a tsunami warning to worry about as well.  It may well be a restless night for us, we expect.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The first cut

Today was one of those mornings where we wanted to say to the workmen, “oh, please be careful”.  Our brand new lawn was getting it’s first mowing.  Are those tender blades of grass ready to be chewed to pieces by that rough and ready motor mower?  And what about those big heavy boots walking all over our the virgin lawn?  I’m not sure we are ready for this just yet.  “Be gentle” we wanted to say, “remember that this is the first time”.  But were the guys listening?  Nope – they both had their earmuffs on.  This was just like my toddler’s first haircut a life time ago.

P8140011 It’s a big occasion, the very first lawn mowing session

Son  Michael was a year old and I took him to  a real barber, the only place where boys got their hair cut in days gone by.  He was sat up on the big scary chair and wailed the whole time while the barber snipped his baby’s locks off.  Then out came the electric cutters to trim up the back of his hair.  Michael’s little lips quivered, he sobbed, and I got all teary.  “Oh, please be gentle, this is his first time”.  Who was the most upset – him or me?  I wasn’t really ready after all to turn him into a boy, he was still my baby.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Business, Pleasure, and Horse Manure on the side

We went our separate ways this morning.  Robin had business to attend to, caravan club business, to be precise.  Our caravan club is hosting a Regional Rally in several months time, and there were a few questions to ask, points to raise, and loose ends to tie up.  The meeting went well, and the new committee now has a clearer idea of the facilities available at the site we will be using.

My meeting was for pleasure – not a bad thing to look forward to on a chilly Monday morning.  Those interested from the Probus group were attending the Canadian film “Still Mine”.  Based on true events, this is a heartfelt love story about an 89-year-old Craig who comes up against the system when he sets out to build a smaller more suitable house for his wife Irene, whose memory is starting to go. Although using the same methods his father, a shipbuilder, taught him, times and regulations have changed. With no plans to lodge, Craig quickly gets on the wrong side of an overzealous government inspector.  Having the plans all in his head is just not an acceptable option.  Nor is using the uncertified timber milled from his own trees. Stop work orders are placed on the house, and the threat of demolition hangs over the project.  As Irene becomes increasingly ill  Craig races to finish the house, stop work orders ignored.  Hauled into court and facing jail, we all wondered just how this story would end. I must admit I had to wipe a few tears away  - but then, I always do.

click for larger (if applicable)
A movie still from Still Mine (2013).

That was the morning taken care of.  So what did the horse manure have to do with anything?  Rhubarb – that’s what.  Two bags of horse manure were purchased for the grand sum of $2 and dug into the soil of the raised veggie garden where the plants have been relocated to.   Rhubarb plants are gross feeders and will thrive on that tasty horse manure which has been worked into the soil.  The plants may well sulk a little after their move, but they will soon get used to their new home.  After all, they survived being potted up for several months when we moved from our previous house, so the plants must be quite hardy.  Soon it will be rhubarb crumble for dessert – with whipped cream maybe.  Sounds pretty good to me.

DSCF6223 Who doesn’t like rhubarb?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Out and About

It was a busy day yesterday, going out and about down to Paraparaumu with our list in hand.  We visited various shops, checking off the items on the list as we went along.  It was opening day of Smith City’s latest shop, and we joined the great multitude of customers all looking for an opening day bargain.   We could have come home with large radio controlled helicopter if we were so inclined, but no, Robin wasn’t allowed one.   After all this excitement we really needed a sit down, so opted for lunch at the adjacent shopping mall.  How about the Pensioner’s Special at the Chinese stall – that sounds like us, and quite a reasonable price it was too.

DSCF6198 A Chinese meal for lunch

We had various stops on our way home, calling in briefly to the MIL (Robin’s Mum) and two lots of friends.  (No wonder we were so late getting back home to Levin).  We really struck the jackpot on one of our visits and came away with copious amounts of bananas.  Seems that Geoff had found a real bargain in bananas, and bought a whole box of them.  He was only too happy to pass some on to friends and family.  After eating bananas morning, noon, and night, it looks like I’ll be making a few banana cakes and a batch of banana muffins to get through them all. 

We came across a sorry looking little wax-eye on one of our visits.  It was sitting in a tree, looking rather puffed up, and didn’t move away as we approached, camera in hand.  In fact, we wondered if the poor little thing was ill, as it didn’t look at all happy.  These little native birds are usually so busy, fluttering around the trees as they look for something to eat.

DSCF6205 .Little wax-eye, perhaps it is sick?

One of the items on our shopping list was a new camera for me. We found some which looked good, and finally decided on an Olympus.  I wanted one with a greater zoom than my current 5,  and this new one has a zooms up to 24.  No doubt it has all sorts of fancy features which will be beyond me, and we will have to sit down and watch the accompanying video together.  An easy “point and shoot” is what I was after, and small enough to pop into my pocket or handbag.  And it’s such a pretty soft burgundy colour – “take me home” it said to me.   I always have my camera on hand, you just never know when you might want to take a photo – friends doing something silly, an interesting scene or wildlife just waiting to be captured.
DSCF6206 My new camera

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Induction Day

Today we were inducted into (guess)  a: Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame,  b: The Military, or c: Probus?

According to Mr Google, “inducted” means, introduced as a member.

That’s right, today we were formally inducted (introduced) as new members of the Levin Combined Probus Club, and given certificates to prove it.  We had wanted to join a local Probus Club for some time, but never quite got around to it before we moved north to Levin.  The members seem very friendly and welcoming, and we are sure that we will enjoy being part of this organisation.  Probus groups are non-political and non-sectarian and their aim is to “advance intellectual and cultural interests and promote social contact and fellowship to retired people”.


The first speaker is always a club member and Pat talked about his early years growing up in Plimmerton.  Pat’s parents immigrated from Sweden to run the SKF ball bearing agency in Wellington.

Our second speaker was Peter who talked about his time as Leader of Vanda Station which was one hour’s helicopter flying time from Scott Base in Antarctica.  Prior to taking up this position, the whole team had extensive fire training, as fire was a real threat with only limited fresh water being available.  Peter was the staff member nominated to become the Medical Officer and spent some time at Timaru Hospital being coached by one of the resident doctors.  Luckily during his one year term on the ice, there were only two medical emergencies, with one of them relating to himself!  He related how he fixed his own broken tooth at Vanda Station with an application of amalgam and a small copper tube to hold his tooth together.  His dentist’s reaction to this repair when he returned home was one of amazement!

As always, going along to the Probus meeting makes for a very interesting morning, made even more special with our induction into the group.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Another dose of Man Flu

Poor Robin is feeling poorly.  With a sore red nose, watery eyes, a raised temperature and a head ache, he seems to have caught a dose of Man Flu from our friend Geoff, who got sick on our week away in the caravan.  In fact, Robin felt so poorly last night that he declined a neighbourly invitation out to dinner.   It was probably just as well that he stayed home and kept his germs to himself.  He hasn’t been sleeping well at all, poor dear.  But after a “grand-dad nap” in the afternoon, he felt bright enough to sit in front of the telly and watch a game of rugby.  I had to go out to the dinner invitation – after all, I was supplying the dessert.  But I did come home early to see how he was managing without me.  Not too bad, he said through his stuffed nose, and yes, he would be able to eat some of that dessert now, thanks.

Katherine and Dot came calling for a quick visit this morning to see how the patient was progressing.  Muffy was pleased to see our visitors and settled down on Katherine’s lap for a cuddle. 

DSCF6190 Katherine with Muffy

I must admit that he seems a little better than the last couple of days.  Let’s just hope that the Man Flu is not a trans gender disease and jumps over to me!