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

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Air New Zealand 75 Years on

There was one more exhibition to see at Te Papa Museum, after we had escaped unharmed from those terrifying tyrannosaurs.  “Air New Zealand 75 Years” told the story of how our national airline has grown and developed over this time span.  International flights started on 30th April 1940, when a flight from Auckland to Sydney being the first scheduled air link between New Zealand and the rest of the world.  


Cabin staff uniforms were on display, starting with the latest models and working back through the years to the very first, which seemed to be styled on military lines.  Sadly, being displayed in glass cases, they didn’t photograph well at all.  Lots of colourful posters lined the walls.  Who can remember NAC and TEAL from earlier years?

P1300055 Posters from the fledgling air line

We can’t talk about early NZ aviation and not mention South Island farmer Richard Pearce.  In 1902 and 1903 Pearce flew his plane made from bamboo, steel, wire and canvas in long hops across farm paddocks near Timaru.  He is believed to be the first New Zealander to achieve flight, although in an uncontrolled way.  The Wright brothers made their first controlled flight a few months later, in December 1903.  On display were the aeroplane motor and propeller made by Richard Pearce.
 P1300044 Aeroplane motor and propeller built by Richard Pearce

We sat ourselves down in a replica Solent cabin dating back to the fifties.  There was plenty of room to stretch our legs and a huge table just waiting for our afternoon tea.  Where is that hostess with the coffee pot?  We could see clouds were passing by as we looked though the windows beside us, and glimpses of one of the propellers through the back window.  

P1300058 Sitting in the Solent cabin – wonder where we are off to?

It was sobering to see the “black boxes”, the flight recorders retrieved from the wreckage of the Air New Zealand DC10 which crashed onto of Mt Erebus, Antarctica, in 28th November 1979.   At 12.49 p.m. (NZST), the aircraft crashed into the lower slopes of Mt Erebus,  killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board. It was the worst civil disaster in New Zealand's history.  The contents of the flight recorders were analysed to seek answers to the tragedy.   Although it was such a long time ago, we can certainly remember the accident and the controversial reports.  Debate raged over who was at fault for the accident. The chief inspector of air accidents attributed the disaster to pilot error. Justice Peter Mahon’s Royal Commission of Inquiry disagreed, placing the blame on Air New Zealand and its systems.

P1300064Flight recorders from the Mt Erebus disaster

We waited in line to get the boarding call for an interactive ride to the future.  Once seated, we donned our special goggles, which showed us just what we might experience in airline travel in the the future.  This was an interesting experience and very well done. 

P1300067 The interactive flight model.

Like many other travellers, I would love to experience a flight in the super-duper “Dreamliner” Boeing 787-9.  I tried the Sky couch for size, and yes, wouldn’t it be a marvellous way to travel on my next UK trip.  No more being squashed up cattle class for me with all the others, this is the way to go, I’ve decided.  In my dreams – I fear.

P1300068 This is the way to travel

There was plenty to look at. including re-runs of the most popular safety in-flight videos made.  Remember when the All Blacks played the starring roles?  And who could forget the video showing the air crew dressed in nothing but body paint?  This was a great exhibition, with things to interest all ages.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Tyrannosaurs at Te Papa

The Tyrannosaurs at Te Papa Museum were almost ready to move on, so we took a train trip into Wellington to catch up with them while we could, collecting Geoff on the way.  We boarded the train at Waikanae, and the happy guard handed out tickets in our carriage, making quips to everyone as he took their money, or in our case, sighted our very handy Gold Card.  (Seniors get free train travel between 9.00am and 3.00pm thanks to the Gold Card).

P1300005 The entrance of Te Papa

As we entered the exhibition, we came face to face with one of the earliest tyrannosaurs yet to be discovered, Guanlong.  Its name means  "crown dragon," and refers  to this meat-eater's prominent crest,  roamed eastern Asia during the late Jurassic period.  I was intrigued with its covering of silky green feathers, as well as the head crest.

P1300008 Green Guanlong

There were bones aplenty, this one is Albertosaurus from Canada.  More than 1000 Albertsaurus bones have been unearthed from the Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada,  making this a treasure trove for palaeontologists to study.

P1300011 Albertosaurus Sarcophagus

And then there was Tyrannosaurus Rex, the biggest and meanest of them all.   This specimen was discovered at Saskatchewan, Canada, and was painstakingly removed, bone by bone, from the rocks and mud.


P1300028 The mighty T Rex

We read that dinosaurs aren’t really extinct.  Avian dinosaurs, otherwise known as birds, still fly amongst us.  Tyrannosaurs and birds are cousins, and share a common ancestor.  And just to show us, we looked at this group, two tyrannosaurs and a modern chicken – they have a very similar skeleton, and check out those feathers.

P1300031The old and the new, avian cousins

We were kept entertained by a film of what the Wellington waterfront and Te Papa would look like if it was invaded by dinosaurs.  First little ones appeared, hopping around, minding their own business.  It was very clever indeed, and the film was so lifelike that one little boy watching got quite upset by it all.  “Will they eat us, will they eat us?”, he kept asking his Dad.

P1300021 Running around outside Te Papa Museum

P1300019 Then came the big nasty ones who tried to gobble them all up.

Here in New Zealand it has been discovered that dinosaurs once roamed our lands.  After reading all she could about dinosaurs, Joan Wiffen from Napier  set out to prove that these ancient reptiles once lived in New Zealand, although most experts doubted this fact.  In 1975 she discovered the first dinosaur fossils in New Zealand in the Maungahounga Valley in Northern Hawkes Bay, being the tail bone of a theropod dinosaur. She went on to discover bones from several different species. Not bad going for an amateur palaeontologist.   Joan Wiffen  has received many honours for her work, and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to science in 1995.  We can be very proud of her contributions in this field.  

joan wiffen - Joan Wiffen

We enjoyed the exhibition, full of interesting facts and figures, and loved the interactive displays.  As did the youngsters.  One of the display areas had a screen on the wall, and a spot marked on the floor, with the words “Stand here if you Dare”.  Once someone was standing on the spot the screen lit up showing pictures of the crowd.  Then dinosaurs appeared on screen, moving amongst the people – or so it seemed.  That set off screams and shouts, I can tell you.  It was very very well done and so lifelike.  The exhibition was well worth seeing.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Just a Sticky Valve

Romany Rambler was hooked to the car last night and parked up on the spare section.  We were all ready for a quick get-away in the morning joining the commuters for a trip down to the Hutt Valley.


Our fridge had given up on us and refused to work on gas during our last rally away.  That wasn’t good at all – especially when it was only about 6 months old.  Phone calls were made, the Dometic agent was spoken to, and it was agreed that we could take our problem down to RV Dreams in Lower Hutt for a check up as the fridge is still under warranty.  Parking was at a premium in this little street, so Robin was asked to back the van up to the  doorway.  We left it behind for Rick to check it out and did a few messages.

P1290036 Outside RV Dreams

On our return a little later Robin went inside  to get the verdict.  Yes, Rick advised, he did have a little trouble lighting the fridge.  So he pulled it apart and checked out  the components.  The problem, he said,  seemed to be with a valve sticking.  With a little adjustment, the fridge works like new again.  But if the problem does reappear again, we will need to return for a replacement valve.  Luckily it was nothing major – so let’s hope it stays working as it should.  After all – there’s another trip away coming up soon.  

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Meeting the Crew from Waka Huia

We spent a fun afternoon yesterday getting to know Marilyn and David from nb Waka Huia.  While their boat is wintering over in good old Blighty, Marilyn and David are here enjoying a very hot New Zealand summer.  They have settled not far from us, and as blog readers, it seemed a good opportunity to make contact.  Yesterday, together with Geoff and Eileen, we were invited to pop in for afternoon tea.

It was very pleasant sitting out in the garden under the shady sun umbrella.  We could see the evidence of the recent garden working bee when trees were removed, others severely pruned back.  Birds were singing, and we all did our New Zealand version of the Australian Wave to keep a few pesky flies away from our afternoon tea. 

P1260008 Marilyn and David in the back garden

There was plenty to talk about.  Narrow boats and canal trips of course, Geoff and Eileen’s various excursions over the years and our one and only memorable  trip up the Llangollen Canal.  Onto caravanning and solar panels.  Then somehow or other, the conversation turned to toilets – pump-outs, cassettes, and composting loos. 

I was intrigued by Marilyn’s collection of cows which were displayed in the kitchen glasshouse window.  Such a lot, and all different.
P1260013 Just look at this beauty
P1260015 Colourful cows all in a row

Then, Marilyn admitted to other collections as well.  Chooks were lined up by the back door, and she took me inside to see some of her precious indoor chickens.  These ones were purchased overseas and carefully carried back on the return flight home.

P1260017 Hello, chooky

After reading about nb Waka Huia’s canal adventures, it was really lovely for the four of us to meet up with them both.  At the end of our long hot summer, Marilyn and David plan to liberate their pride and joy from the marina and head off for even more trips and adventures. 

P1260018 So nice to meet you both

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Friends and Neighbours

We are lucky to be blessed with lovely friends and neighbours who are more than happy to step and and help when needed.  And sometimes we don’t even have to ask them – they just do it!

Earlier in the week we needed to go and collect our recent purchase from the Wairarapa when we were there the previous weekend.  We were told that our new outdoor table and chair set came in three huge cartons, so we could not take it home with us at the time.  Our neighbour Bruce happily loaned us his trailer for the day for the trip to Masterton and back.  And our caravan buddy Geoff went along with Robin to supply some extra muscle power if needed.

As it happened, our new acquisition came in only two cartons, not three at all.  But they were still bulky and the loan of the trailer was a god-send.  After a cool drink Geoff went on his way, and Robin and I decided to undo the cartons to see that we had all the necessary bits inside.  Then neighbour Bruce appeared – he’s one of those “good keen men” and he kindly offered to help us put all the pieces together. 

They worked together in the hot sun as they opened up the cartons.  The six chairs weren’t too difficult to assemble, and just needed a few screws each.  The glass topped table needed a little more thought to put together.  The table and chairs came with an instruction sheet, and all the necessary screws, washers, bolts and nuts.

P1200118 Robin and Bruce screwing the legs  on the table

P1200123All done – thanks for the help, guys

It wasn’t quite over as we had to purchase a new umbrella stand with a bigger hole (than the one we already had) to put under the table.   Then we were set, with the shady umbrella in place to keep the hot Kiwi sun off our heads we could enjoy our time outside.  As we did this morning when we had an al fresco breakfast at our new table and chair set.    Robin cooked up the weekend bacon and eggs on the barbecue and we enjoyed eating our breakfast our cosy patio area.  Check out how he does the eggs – he cuts a round hole through the bread with a glass and pops the egg inside.  That way it doesn’t run all over the place.

P1240001 Al fresco barbequed breakfast

Our friend and neighbour Dot popped in later mid morning.  We were still outside  tapping away on our laptops - luckily our wireless Wi-Fi works well outside, we discovered.  She had a wee gift for us, after slaving over a hot stove yesterday, a jar of beetroot chutney, made with her very own home grown beetroot.  How kind – and we can’t wait to try it, it looks delicious. 

P1240004 Dot with her homemade beetroot chutney

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Muffy loves Camping too

Our cat Muffy really seems to enjoy coming away in the caravan with us.  Now she is getting on in years she is getting a little fearful of the big wide world and is not too keen on venturing outside these days.  But the caravan is small and cosy enough for her to feel comfortable and secure, and as far as she is concerned, she can see exactly where we are.  Not like our home, where we can disappear around corners into different rooms, and she doesn’t know where we are and starts to cry and goes looking for us.  It is quite sad really, to see her so upset. 

Muffy loves the attention of being groomed, and lies contentedly on my lap as I wield the comb.  She happily lies on her back to let me comb her tummy, then gets turned this way and that so I can complete the job.

P1160028 Muffy with her legs in the air

P1160031 All done and the harness buckled back on

Muffy may well be a fair age now, but she has just taught herself a new caravan trick.  She jumped up onto the top of the vanity unit and meowed until one of us turned the tap on.  Then she put her front paws in the basin and lapped up the water.  How did she even know that water came out of the tap, we wondered, and she always has water available in her bowl.  She never does this at home.

P1180002 Muffy’s new trick

She won’t have too long to wait until she has another trip away in the caravan with us.  What a lucky cat – and we are lucky that she travels so well.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Weekend Fridge and Door Problems

These things always seem to happen in the wee small hours – that’s when our fridge alarm started were going “beep, beep, beep” and the blue light turned to red.  As we were camping off power by the grapevines, the assumption was that we must have run out of gas.  So out Robin went in the dead of night and changed the gas bottle over.  But no, that didn’t work.  Then it was on to Plan B and he fired up the generator, hoping that it wouldn’t wake up Geoff and Eileen, our overnight camping buddies.  Luckily they slept like logs and didn’t hear a thing, they told us the next morning.

We then moved on to join in with the caravan club rally at Kahutura School and tried the fridge on gas again.  There was no sound of the alarm going on, and the fridge light glowed blue, so that looked promising.  But it was a false promise indeed, as the fridge just sat there, shining its little blue light to lull us into a false sense of security, and all the time couldn’t or wouldn’t fire up to get things cold again.  The meat in the freezer box had thawed, and the milk and butter was getting warm, and the lettuce was wilting.  Luckily we could use the fridge in the school kitchen to chill the perishables down again.

After a phone call to the Leisureline factory about our problem, we were given the names of a couple of authorised gas fitters in the Wellington region who could fix our problem under warranty.  This will save us making the long trip north to Hamilton to the Leisureline factory.  Consequently, on our return home, the first priority was to get our caravan booked in to get the problem fixed.

As previously mentioned, the wind did not let up all weekend while we were staying at Kahutura School.  The mornings started off calm, and as the hours ticked by, the wind increased so much that our awnings and sun shades out had to be taken down or wound back in.  After we had all happily been enjoying 4zees in the hall one afternoon, Geoff and Eileen returned to their van to find they had a problem.  The exterior of their two part door had been hooked back onto it’s catch, while the interior screen safety door was securely fastened.  A gust of wind had slammed the exterior door shut with a wallop.  The key wouldn’t open the lock, the door was jammed tight.

Eileen told me to bring my camera, as all sorts of things are happening in next door.  And they were – there was a full delegation there to help.  Unfortunately I had missed seeing   Barry wriggle through the outside locker, come up under the bed, lift the bed up over his head and gain access inside.  Being fit and lean, he was the ideal contender for this job.

P1180022 Bill K, Geoff, Robin, Graham and Bill S all there to help

Barry couldn’t unlock the door from the inside.  Geoff then opened up the window wide and climbed inside.  Perhaps two heads would be better than one at solving this problem.  Or maybe brute force was needed.


The force of the wind had slammed the outer door shut which then pushed the top latch of the screen door past it’s stops.  Geoff and Barry unscrewed the latch on the door, so that it freed up allowing it to be opened.  Once opened, the latch was reassembled, and then functioned correctly, although the plastic stop was cracked by the force and will need to be replaced.

P1180027 Success at last

The wind wasn’t finished with us yet.  As we were making our way back to our respective homes on Monday (Wellington Anniversary Day) we came across Bill and Barbara’s caravan on the side of the road.  Bill was inside the caravan, and we thought that perhaps the wind had blown one of their windows out.  Not quite so bad, as it turned out.  The window had not been properly fastened shut before left the school, and the wind had whipped it open and damaged the hinges.  Bill was securing it shut and will fix the hinges once he returns home.   And just in case we needed a further reminder,  there was a high wind warning flashing as we started on our journey over the Rimutaka Hill.  Thank goodness we made it safely home.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Fun and Games at Kahutura School

It was Barry and Diane’s first time at being rally captains, and they did very well.  They are a fit and active couple, and not only did they brave the school swimming pool over the weekend, we watched in awe and they went for a run together up the country road.  So it was no surprise when they planned a sporting activity  to get us all up and moving around for a bit of exercise. 

P1180011   Barry and his special caravan tee shirt

The wind never stopped blowing all weekend.  The golf practice on the agenda listed as “Bucket and Chips” became “Tyre and Chips”, as the plastic buckets would have blown away around the school grounds long before we landed any golf balls anywhere near it.  Luckily there was a heap of old tyres laying under a tree, and these were called into service.  We were put into teams of three, the non golfers were given a little tuition, and then away we went. 

P1180016 Watch out, Lydia

P1180009 Two teams trying their hand at chipping

The aim was to chip the ball into the tyre for 2 points, and we received 1 point for just hitting the tyre.  With golf balls going every which way, it was not as easy as we thought.  Even the experienced golfers didn’t find it very easy.   The pair of us were placed in different teams, and much to our surprise, did very well.  Robin’s mixed team came first, and my ladies team came second – how about that!

P1180021 Robin concentrating on his shot.

Meeting in the hall in the evening, we took part in a musical quiz which Barry had put together.  Music from the 50s to 70s, which hopefully we would be able to recall.  Once again, we were put into teams, this time with our spouses and another couple, and armed with paper and pen, started concentrating.  We blitzed the field with “Match the Lead Singer with the Group”, and only lost two points with “Match the Artist’s Name with the Backing Group”.  Not a bad start at all.  It was not so easy when we were played the musical introduction of TV show from the old days, although Morecombe and Wise and The Avengers were easy enough to pick.  Then we were played snippets of songs which had colour in the title.  Who can remember Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces, and The Purple People Eater?  We could.

P1180029  Diane and Barry ready to play the music

We were also kept entertained with some tree felling going on in the school grounds one day over the weekend.  It was hot and windy, and the bloke worked away hard with his chain saw, cutting a scarf out of the wood this way, then the other.  There must be some reason why he was cutting at head height, perhaps he was coming back later to deal with the stumps.

P1160034 Starting to cut

P1168533 There it goes

Kahutura School has a long history in the area and the school opened in 1898.  The original school building is a New Zealand Historic Places Trust Registered Building.  The school has changed dramatically since then and now has multiple buildings, a swimming pool, a large hall, and a well equipped playground.  We saw a lovely old photo in the hall of pupils outside the school in the early years.

P1160051 Kahutura School and pupils

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Horse Racing in the Evening and an Afternoon at Lake Ferry

The Rally Captains are keeping us very busy at Kahutara School over the long weekend.  We gathered in the hall for a spot of horse racing.  Suitable for everyone, we were told, even those who can’t bend easily, as the competitors can do it sitting down.  Robin and Derek were the first to take a turn in the knock-out competition.   The idea was to move the plywood horse along the string as quickly as possible to be first over the line.  Not always easy, as the horses had minds of their own, and sometimes insisted on travelling backwards.  The competition was eventually won by Graham, one of our visitors for the weekend.

P1160001 Derek and Robin playing the first round of horse racing

Morning Tea on Saturday brought us more birthday goodies, this time it was a lovely chocolate cake.  It was Barbara’s Happy Birthday shout for the club members.

P1170010 Happy Birthday Barbara

“Let’s go exploring”  said Robin, so after lunch we drove down the road to Lake Ferry, hadn’t been this way for several years.  We drove past acres of bright green maize, the colour in complete contrast to the brown parched paddocks everywhere.  And we just had to stop to admire the pretty little Burnside Presbyterian Church at Pirinoa.  This church was officially dedicated on 15 May 1875 on land gifted by Donald Sinclair, and the local community contributed the funds for the church to be built.  The gates were locked up tight so we couldn’t get into the church grounds for a closer look. 

P1170029  Burnside Church at Pirinoa

Lake Ferry is a small settlement between the shores of Lake Onoke and Palliser Bay, and today has a mixture of holiday homes and permanent residents.    European settlers brought sheep and cattle into this area in 1844, driving their stock along the coastal route from Wellington. These run holders were the first to establish pastoral farming in New Zealand.

P1170014 Arriving at Lake Ferry

Just past the pub was a gravel track, just waiting to be explored.  We hadn’t gone very far when we came across dozens of cars parked up at the end of the track.  Of course, there was a fishing competition on, we remembered.  It was quite a slog walking up the loose shingle until we reached the top of the bank.  Right along the water’s edge were dozens of hopeful fishermen trying their luck in the competition.  Some of the competitors seemed to have several rods each,  some had brought folding chairs to make their day more comfortable, and they all had chilly boxes to put their catches in.

P1170020 Fishing competition at Lake Ferry

It was no fun at all trudging gingerly back to the car, with our sandals full of small stones, making each step an effort.  Once back at the car our footwear was swiftly removed, the stones tipped out, and the sandals buckled on again – oh, the relief. Must be time for a cool drink, we decided, and there was only one place to go, the Lake Ferry Hotel, the heart and soul of this small community.

P1170024 Lake Ferry Hotel

We settled down on the veranda with our drinks, with wonderful views across Lake Onoke and the Rimutaka Ranges. The Lake Ferry Hotel is the southernmost hotel of the North Island,  and caters for local residents and farmers, day-trippers like us and foreign tourists.  The original building was a cross between a Maori whare and a shepherd's hut mostly using timber from shipwrecks, and the current hotel building dates back to 1919.

P1170017 Lake Onoke

P1170025 Enjoying refreshments at the pub

Soon it was time to head back to the caravan rally, but first I wanted to check out what was happening about across the road.  People were milling about, there was a whiteboard all ready to record the different catches.  I had hoped to see some prize fish displayed,  but the competition had not yet been completed.  We arrived back at Kahutura School in time for 4zees, to find that everyone else had started before us.  That’s what the rally captains do sometimes, declare 4zees at 3.30, and why not!