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

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Housie Night

Our long weekend at Foxton was certainly a busy affair, with plenty to keep us occupied.  When possible, we liked to have 4zees out side, tucked up beside one of the caravans to shelter us from the wind.   Muffy joined us too but she didn’t like the wind much either.  So Peter opened up his outside awning locker and Muffy happily hopped inside, snug as a bug, while she watched the goings on of our group.

PA260013Elaine and Peter are cold, but Muffy is sheltered in the hidey-hole

We finally managed to light the BBQ on our last day in camp.  Not everyone bothered to cook outside, but Robin was determined.  After all, it was fine and sunny, it was just that the jolly wind wouldn’t let up.  So he doggedly stood out in the windy conditions to cook our rather large T-bone steaks, which we duly ate inside in  the comfort of the caravan.  They were so big, we couldn’t eat them all, and had the left overs in sandwiches the next day.

PA270048 First BBQ of the season

Our group was invited to join in the Housie Evening in the hall, run by the Manawatu Caravan Club committee.  That was a lot of fun, and our fellow club members were on quite a winning streak.  Out of the 15 games called, Heretaunga members won 8 lines and 5 houses, not too bad at all.  Sadly, none of their luck rubbed off on us two, we didn’t win a penny back all night. 

PA270050 Calling the Housie numbers

Our club members also scooped the pool with the Saturday night “scratchie” raffle.  Selwyn won 1st prize, and Geoff and Eileen took home 3rd prize.   Hope they tell us how much they won on all those tickets.

PA270032 Selwyn won 1st prize

PA270033Eileen and Geoff won 3rd prize

The long weekend concluded with our morning tea get-together and we all recited the limericks we had been working on over the weekend.  Some of them seem to reflect the previous conversations of lap and pole dancing so couldn’t possible be repeated here!   It was a good weekend, full of fun and laughter, and great companionship, just what we usually have on our caravan club weekends away.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Foxton Spring Fling Fair

It was pedestrian traffic only through the main street of Foxton on Sunday and we paid our $2 entry each to join in the fun of the Spring Fling Fair.  There were people everywhere, wandering up and down, and checking out the stalls which were packed with all sorts of goodies to tempt the passers by to part with some of their cash.

PA270044 Off to the Fair

The smell of the food stalls got too much for us, and we lined up and patiently waited our turn as the Curly Potatoes were cut, battered and fried.  These tasty, crispy snacks were well worth the wait, we can assure you.

PA270037 Mmm, one for him, and one for me

There was a bouncy castle and a mini carousel to keep the youngsters happy, a band belting out raucous music for the teenagers, plus numerous coffee carts to allow the adults to indulge in a caffeine fix.  Something for everyone.  We spotted an organ grinder, stopped to have a look, and gave the monkey a couple of dollars for his bucket.

PA270039 Organ Grinder and his monkey

We walked our tired feet back to the car just in time to see the horse drawn tram come clip-clopping down the road.  Quick, get the camera ready.  The tram was full of people enjoying a taste of nostalgia from yester-year.

PA270041  Here comes the tram

PA270042 Back to the depot

Monday, 28 October 2013

Music of the Night

Our Saturday night at Foxton started with a meal out at the  Manawatu Marine Boating Club restaurant.  And what a busy place it was, we were lucky that we arrived reasonably early to organise our seating, as the customers just kept streaming in the doors.  A local was heard to mutter that there must be a lot of out-of-towners dining there that night.  He wasn’t wrong – there were 14 in our group to start with, let alone who ever else made an appearance.

PA260025 Manawatu Marine Boating Club and Restaurant

The food was great – I couldn’t go past the roast pork, and Robin enjoyed his beef and bacon burger.  Adorning the walls of the restaurant were models of big fish caught in the area over the years. 

PA260015 Large snapper

Bill and Val, visitors to our rally for the weekend, had purchased the winning raffle ticket for a meat pack.  The raffles were quite well organised, and the winners were given a plaque to uplift their meat raffle on the way home.  That way the meat is kept refrigerated and does not sit in the warm restaurant for hours on end.

PA260021 Val and Bill won a meat raffle

PA260019 The Boat Club overlooks the Manawatu River Estuary

We watched as the sun set out of the large picture windows while we ate our meal, then suitably replete, drove back to the camp.  It was Karaoke night, and the Manawatu Caravan Club had kindly issued an invitation for our group to join them in the hall.  The place was jumping all right when we entered, found seats and a table, and settled down for a night of music.  There was a core group in the hall who had put their names down for various songs, and kept us all entertained as they jumped up full of enthusiasm time after time.  Then our club member Kath decided to have a go, and bravely did a solo, looking quite relaxed, we thought.

PA260026 Kath singing to the crowd

Four of us decided we would sing if the DJ had our song – and sure enough he did.  The song Ten Guitars is sometimes called the Maori National Anthem and is one of my favourite songs.  Peter and Elaine joined us on stage as we belted out our one and only party piece – goodness knows what we sounded like, but we enjoyed our brief time in the limelight.  Then quickly sat down again.

PA260029 Jenny and Robin, Peter and Elaine, singing Ten Guitars

The music kept coming, and the hall got louder and louder as the night wore on.  Everyone joined in the chorus of each song and we had a great time.  There were two stand out songs of the evening.  The first was “Poi E”, a Maori song written by Dalvanius Prime in 1982.  His vibrant production of the Patea Maori Club singing Poi-E became a huge hit and was 22 weeks on the NZ hit charts in 1984, charting at number one for four weeks. It was also a big hit overseas, Dalvanius taking the Patea Maori Club on a tour to the London Palladium, the Edinburgh Festival and a Royal Command Performance.  This seems to be the “club song” of the Manawatu Caravan Club members as each and everyone of them were all on the feet singing and dancing the whole song through.

The second highlight of the evening was “Music of the Night” from the musical Phantom of the Opera.  The singer gave such a wonderful rendition of this song with it’s seductive lyrics that I got goose bumps just listening.  We found out later that this particular gent does quite a bit of singing on stage, and it certainly showed. As the karaoke evening came to a close, we walked back to our caravans, happy to have shared such a fun evening – wondering if we would have a sore throat the next morning from all that singing!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Labour Weekend at Foxton

Our long weekend away with the caravan club started a day early on Thursday.  On arrival at the Manawatu Caravan Club grounds we were surprised to find we we the first to arrive.  Members of this non touring club have their own sites to park up their caravans, build a BBQ area, add a shed, grow a small garden, or pretty much do whatever they want.  Most of the static vans have doubled their living space with the addition of a permanent awning.  They are well used over the holiday periods, and there are some very keen fishermen in camp who like to try their luck at the nearby beach.

PA260009 On site caravans with permanent awnings

The small number of casual sites had all been roped off for our group so we had first choice.  Robin backed onto the site and busied himself doing the usual set up chores of winding down the legs, plugging into the power, and setting up the satellite TV.  Then we waited patiently for the first of the club members to arrive.

PA240002 Waiting for some friendly faces to turn up

Muffy had decided that she needed some “time out” from all the caravan shenanigans and burrowed under the bedclothes.  If she can’t see us we can’t see her, she reasoned, forgetting about that furry tail giving the game away.

PA240001 You can’t see me!

One by one the other caravans arrived, and then there were six of us all in a row.  There was plenty of chat as we caught up with news.  Although the conditions were rather blustery, it was warm enough to sit outside for the first 4zees of the weekend.

PA250006 All in a row

Labour Weekend weather is usually very changeable, and the rains came down overnight.  We are fortunate to have access to the adjacent hall to gather for the weekend for our morning teas, 4zees and to gather in the evenings.  New members Barry and Dianne had been welcomed into the club at the previous rally, and were duly presented with a club banner at morning tea by Vice President Geoff.

PA250005 VP Geoff and Barry

Barry and Dianne are also proud owners of a brand new Leisureline caravan, and brought it along for it’s first rally.  There was a steady stream of visits from all the other members to check out this new acquisition.  And very nice it is too.

PA280053 Barry and Dianne’s new caravan, that’s the 3rd Leisureline in the club now

Later in the day Bill and Val, members of the Wellington Caravan Club, called in to see us.  Their original  plan was to attend a NZMCA rally in Wanganui, but they changed their minds and joined our happy bunch for the weekend instead.  Bill and Val had recently returned from a overseas campervan  trip and kept us entertained with tales of their adventures.

The jokes were flowing thick and fast when we gathered in the hall on Friday night, raising quite a few laughs, chuckles and guffaws.  Peter and Elaine were the “Rally Family” for the weekend and handed out a couple of quizzes to keep our brains active.  The first was a cryptic quiz about countries.  Some of the clues were easy, such as “Needing Food = Hungary”, while others were too cryptic for us, such as “Poor Singer = Singapore”.  The second quiz was to name as many dances as we could.  We started off well with Rock and Roll, added the Gay Gordons and Fox Trot, then Round and Square dancing, (we took lessons in these two some years ago), and we couldn’t forget seeing that old British tradition danced in the Cotswolds, Morris Dancing.  We managed to think of 30 or so, but the winners had twice our number, and gave us all a laugh with the inclusion of pole and lap dancing!  It’s strange how some minds work, don’t you think?

The Committee of the Manawatu Caravan Club have a Karaoke Night organised for Saturday night and kindly invited our group along to join in the fun with them.  Which we will, after having a meal out in a local restaurant.  Sounds like a good evening to us.

PA260008Sing-along entertainment for the evening

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Labour Weekend Caravan Rally

.It’s Labour Weekend shortly in our part of paradise.  And by general consensus amongst our caravan club members, we are stretching the three day long weekend to four days – just because we can.  With most of us grey haired retirees, it makes no sense to rush back home, battling with the holiday weekend traffic.  We are not going far, just 30km or so further north.  But that doesn’t matter, it’s getting together with like minded friends and enjoying ourselves doing what we like, getting away in the caravans.

Labour Weekend has always been a bit special to those in the workforce. Celebrated on the fourth Monday in October, Labour Day commemorates the struggle for an eight-hour working day, a right that carpenter Samuel Parnell from Petone had famously fought for in 1840. Our first Labour Day was held on 28 October 1890, and it has been a statutory public holiday since 1900.  Samuel's philosophy was that a man should work eight  hours, sleep eight hours and the remaining time should be for recreation.

To all on the roads this weekend, safe travels. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Trains, Buses and a Cable Car

It was a “Big Day Out” today, sampling the delights of the big city of Wellington.  Takes a little longer to get there, now we are living further north.  Our day started with a 35km drive down to Waikanae where we boarded the train to Wellington.  The train trip took 60 minutes each way, stopping at stations along the way.  We noticed that a fair proportion of passengers were of the grey haired variety, just like us, all out enjoying their Gold Card free off-peak travel privilidges.

PA230004 All aboard to Wellington

PA230005This is the Kiwi version of  “Mind the Gap” 

Arriving in Wellington, we hopped on a big yellow bus through the city to attend to a couple of errands. We had plenty of time so we decided to take a ride on the Cable Car.  Well, what a crowd there was, all with the same idea.  A large cruise ship was in port and it seemed that most of the passengers were taking a ride too.  So we waited, and waited, as the line shuffled slowly forward, and the cable cars came, filled up with passengers, and left.   Soon it was our turn, and we boarded the cable car for the short ride to the top, chatting to a couple seated across from us.  They were part of a group of 40 Aussie car club members who were touring around New Zealand.  Loved the scenery, they told us, but had trouble pronouncing all those Maori place names. 

PA230016 Wellington Cable Car

There was a big building project happening at the top of the Cable Car, and the top terminal is being replaced.  Seems that the job is running a little late.  The foreman told us that the job should have been completed several weeks ago, but it looks a long way from being finished to us.

PA230013 Cable Car terminal being built

There are always such fabulous views, looking out over the harbour and the city.  There were two ships in the harbour and Soames Island is in the background.

  PA230012 Views of Wellington City

After a leisurely lunch we made our way past Parliament Buildings on the way to the railway station, passing these interesting carved stone pillars.

PA230027 Carved pillars outside Parliament Buildings

We settled down to our homewards journey, finally arriving home tired but happy after our day’s outing.  There is in fact a reason for our big day out – it’s my birthday.  So now it’s my turn to get to wear the Birthday Hat, and have fun opening the birthday cards and parcels!

PA230055 It’s my birthday

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Work Bench – done!

There's been a fair bit of noise outside lately.  The whine of the skill saw, then bang, bang, bang of hammer on nails.  All self respecting sheds need a work bench, so Robin decided to make one.  Luckily there were several lengths of tongue and grooved retaining board timber left over from the raised garden, so that worked well.  It didn’t seem to take him too long at all, and there – a work bench in the shed, nicely situated under the window.  Good job!

PA200014 New work bench, complete with a few tools

With the addition of the shelving units which are currently tucked away in our lock-up, there will be spaces to put the all those bits and pieces which have been lurking in various boxes all these months.  All very necessary items they are too, I’ve been assured, that will shortly be moved out to the shed.  Fair enough – after all, a man’s shed is his castle.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Day out in Palmy

We hit the road today and drove up to Palmerston North – affectionately known to the locals as Palmy.  I always find this a difficult city, as it can be approached by several roads.  Robin, unlike me, is excellent with navigation, his sense of direction is top notch, and he always seems to find his way around, what ever city we may be in.  We drove here, we drove there, stopping as required at the various shops.  Then it was time for lunch.
PA170010 Time for lunch
Our friends D & D had recommended Carl’s Junior, and enjoyed a meal there recently.  This is a reasonably new burger establishment in town, so we gave it a go.  You know what it’s like in this sort of place, you enter the door, walk up to the counter, then pause while you slowly read through the options on the wall behind the server’s head.  Mmm, shall we have one of the burgers, or maybe chicken, oh look, we could have fish as well?  It was our first time there, so perusing the menu took some time.

The burgers were delicious.  My choice was a Portobello Mushroom Burger, while Robin chose a Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger, served piping hot, with delicious crunchy chips.  And I’m pleased to say that the coffee came piping hot too, I really hate it when the coffee is not as hot as it should be.  So top marks to Carl’s Junior, great service, great food, and most importantly, all served hot!  It was a busy place, with a couple of the local constabulary popping in for their lunch on the go, and a whole gaggle of truckies wearing their high-vis vests stopping off for lunch.

After lunch, we still had a couple of things to tick off on the list.  Most blokes hate clothes shopping, and Robin is certainly falls into that category.  New shorts for summer were on the list, and I got a few grizzles about how he hates clothes shopping!  All that traipsing around, finding the right size, going into the changing room, undressing, trying the new clothes on, taking them off and getting dressed again is all a bit much. Thank goodness our clothes buying spree for him has now been successfully accomplished.

I left him settled in the car with the newspaper while I crossed over the road to get the last couple of things on my list.  But I couldn’t find the car on my return.  I was sure it was on the end of one of those rows.  Up and down I walked, starting to get worried.  Luckily I had my cell phone in my pocket, so gave Robin a call to see where he was.  Just hope he answers, his phone could well have been left at home.

Our conversation went like this:

Me:  Have you moved the car?
Robin:  It’s where we parked it.  Have a look around and you will see it.
Me:  Where?  It’s not on the end of the row.
Robin:  It never was.  Look over here – can you see me waving?
Me: No, I can’t. 
Robin:  You’re looking the wrong way – turn around.
Me:  Oh, there you are, I can see you now. 

I opened the door and slunk inside, mortified that I had lost the car.  Mind you, cars all look the same these days.  I admit I’m not much good at navigation, but then, Robin’s not too good at clothes shopping!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Low Tech Car Navigation

I had to find an address in the heart of the rural countryside and was rather worried about getting lost.  Navigation is not my strong point, and that’s putting it mildly.  In fact, I’m hopeless, and have been known to get lost driving to places I’ve already been to.  How sad is that!  No, I couldn’t possibly use the Garmin Sat Nav, I told Robin, that’s much too hard for me.

So what did he do, to safely send me on my way?  Logged on to Google Maps, and printed out the directions for me.  Turn left, turn right, etc, etc, the destination is on the right – that little snippet was certainly handy to know.  Then he logged on to Google Earth and found the driveway leading up to the house.  I had been told that there was a blue letter box without a street number on the driveway.  So it was good to have an idea of what the property looked like.  Thank goodness I arrived safely and didn’t have to resort to a cell phone plea to my hostess to come and rescue me.

Perhaps I should come into the 20th Century and use the Garmin next time I go to an unknown place.  Or should I just continue to be an ostrich with my head in the sand?  (I await the outcome of this scenario with baited breath! Robin.)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Park wherever - he said

We were asked to move the caravan from it’s allotted space around the corner in the RV car park.  Why, you may be thinking, are we being evicted from the village?  Have we been playing raucous music and upsetting the neighbours?  Or perhaps our cat has gone on a killing spree and murdered someone’s pet bird?  No, non of those reasons.  The builders are all set to complete the villa which looks over the RV car park.  It has been at the “closed in” stage for some time, and the developers plan to finish it off, and turn it into the new Show Home.  A large rubbish skip is being dropped off for the builders, and the worry was that it would be too close to our caravan.  Plus there will be a lot of extra traffic in front of the villa with the contractors coming and going.

As this project will take a while, we couldn’t use the handy car park close by our villa.  The back of the caravan protrudes too much over the grass, and the caretaker was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to keep the lawn in good order with the caravan parked there.  (It is no problem using it for a day or two while we load up before a trip, just not long term). 

Park where ever you like, we were told.  There is an empty section awaiting development just outside the RV car park, so that will be Romany Rambler’s new home for a while.

PA100007 Moved out for a while

Friday, 11 October 2013

Temperamental Spring Weather

Spring weather is known to be temperamental.  We’ve had one day fine and one day wet, repeated a couple of times this week.  But that is the nature of weather for this time of the year.  We were out and about today in the rain and the low clouds covered the ranges behind us, almost obscuring them from view.

PA110026The hills are there somewhere

It’s certainly Spring in our little part of paradise.  It may well be wet but the daffodils are in full bloom, as are the pot of pansies, both putting on a late Spring show.

PA110028  Spring flowers on the patio

Robin’s checked his new shed after all the rain and is pleased to announce that it is weather-tight.  Must be due to those good keen blokes who worked hard putting it all together over the last couple of days.  

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Mighty Quin

With no roof on the new shed, yesterday’s heavy rain poured down into the shed unheeded.  Robin and Bruce were back on the job today, drills in hand, to complete the job.  First job was to lay the roofing materials in place, there were sheets of corrugated iron and one sheet of Nova roof (to let in extra light).

PA100001  Now, how are we going to do this?

As Bruce was the smaller of the two, he was nominated to climb up on the roof and screw all the sheets in place.  But there was an “oopsy” when the tin snips fell off the roof and down behind the shed and the back fence.  Perhaps the long BBQ tongs would reach?  But no, not long enough.  So Robin took the long way around to the track behind our fence, and manage to prise the tin snips from their hiding place.

PA100003Where did those tin snips go?

Bruce fitted the door lock, and then the flashings were riveted in place.  I was amazed at how quickly it all came together.

PA100015Fixing the roof flashings

Last but not least, the windows were slotted in place.  It took only two days and now the Mighty Quin shed is done.  Great job, guys.  Robin offered Bruce a cold beer, but he would prefer a cuppa, thanks.  No problem, I’d been busy in the kitchen all morning so had some nice fresh home baking to go with the cuppa.  We really appreciate all the help Bruce gave in putting this shed together.

PA100024 Great job, guys.

Our “Mighty Quin” kitset shed came from local company Quin Buildings.  Not the cheapest option, but well made and sturdy, and won’t blow away in the wind.  You get what you pay for, and can’t beat quality, we say.

And no, Robin doesn’t want me to make him some frilly lace curtains for his new shed!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Every Man needs a Shed

A bloke’s back yard is not complete without a shed, and Robin has been waiting some time for his to arrive from the factory.  The kit set shed was delivered just before we went away for the weekend, and the truckie and his mate carried the pieces one by one around to the back yard.  Robin then secured them to the fence, so that they wouldn’t blow over and get damaged while we were away in the caravan.

PA030006  Robin’s shed in pieces

Today was the day to start putting the pieces together, although the kitset didn’t come with any instructions.  Guess the company thinks that if you are going to put one of their kit sets together, you will know what you are doing, and won’t need instructions.  We had the next best thing – neighbour Bruce from our village offered his expertise and came along with all sorts of handy tools to help with the construction. 

PA080003 Assembling the floor

One by one the walls were lifted into place and nailed to the floor.  The walls were extremely heavy, and luckily everything fitted into place.

PA080012 Robin on the inside and Bruce down the back

Getting the shed into it’s correct position right back into the corner took some doing.  This was done with brute strength and the judicious use of a pinch bar to help move things along.  I was AWOL during this delicate stage so no photos available.  By the time I returned, the front wall was in place, and Robin and Bruce were looking very pleased with themselves.

PA080020 A great day’s work

Robin nailed the rafters into place, and then the roof will be added over the next day or two.  Many thanks to Bruce for all his help and expertise.  The pair of them will sleep like babies tonight after all that exertion.

Monday, 7 October 2013

On to Kiwitea

It was goodbye to Marton on Sunday morning and we travelled on to Kiwitea, a lifestyle block full of horses for this horse mad family. Daughter Nicky is the only one who doesn’t dote on horses, especially when they reach over the fence and chew on her carefully nurtured young trees.   We backed the caravan alongside the garage, connected on to power and their wi-fi internet connection, and went inside for a tasty lunch.

PA060005 On the farm at Kiwitea

There is always plenty going on here.  Grand-daughter Megan had her horse Sonic tethered to the fence and she busily got on with the job of trimming his feet.  The horse stood patiently as she lifted up one leg after another and started filing down the hoof.  The horse wasn’t bothered at all.

PA060007 Megan working on Sonic’s feet

Farm dog Patch jumped up on the back of Robert’s quad bike and off they went to bring some of the ewes and their lambs in from the paddock, and past our caravan.  I had to step smartly back out of the way, I was told, as the sheep won’t come if they see me standing in the way.

PA060009  Robert with Patch ready to help bring in the sheep

PA060017Here they come

The sheep were going to market the next day and needed “crutching”, tidying up their nether regions.  Patch helped put them in a pen and Robert got to work with his electric shearing clippers.  Two horses in adjacent pens were watching all this activity with interest.

PA060031 Crutching before being sent to market

PA060022 The horses were watching what was going on in the next pen

One of the neighbour’s called around with a dozen free range eggs for Robert’s in-laws  to take home – how generous was that!  There was quite an assortment, tiny pullet eggs together with great big ones from their other hens.  
PA060056Farm fresh eggs

Farm people rise early and Robert was up and away taking the freshly crutched sheep off at the market while we were still soundly sleeping in the caravan.  It was just about our breakfast time by the time he returned, and I whipped up a cheesy omelette each for all of us.  That was Robert’s second breakfast of the day, but he is a very hard worker and probably needs the extra energy..  No sooner had he eaten his  omelette than he drove off up the road to do some more contracting work.  We always enjoy our time on the farm, but had to pack up and head back to suburbia.  Never mind, we will be back at the farm for a week over Christmas.  .