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

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Scotts Ferry

Scotts Ferry is a small sleepy place these days.  We took a drive up there to check out the Motor Camp – we are always looking for different places to stay at for future Caravan Club rallies.  The camp is reasonably small, with very basic facilities, but will be fine for a summer rally.

Scotts Ferry was a place in big trouble just over ten years ago with the February 2004 floods.  The Rangitikei River breached badly at Scotts Ferry.  Police officer and Fire Chief Bruce Symons led the evacuation, but by early afternoon the flooding was too severe to return to Bulls by the main road. Mr Symons and his team had to cut a road over farmland, linking up with the gravel Forest Rd. But high winds brought trees down which had to be cut away as the population of Scotts Ferry wormed its way to safety in convoy.  In the end, the water at Scotts Ferry reached the eves of houses.  The water took weeks, and in some streets, months, to pump out.  Eventually homes were repaired, and built with higher foundations for protection in case of further flooding.  The residents call themselves the “Inn Village” these days, with a lot of homes sporting signs such as Amble Inn, Breeze Inn, and Cocktail Inn, even Les Be Inn, (I had to explain that one to Robin!) 


Winter has brought yet another flood recently, and although there was still some water lying around, it was nowhere like the previous “Big One”.  The amount of mud still  around the bridge into the village shows just how high the water reached.

P6290014 Still covered in mud

P6290006Having fun driving out to the beach

The road to the beach ended here, the sea is away in the distance but there was no way we could get any closer.  “If we had the 4WD we could”, muttered Robin.

P6290003Glimpse of the beach through the sand-hills

And in case you were wondering, there was in fact a ferry operating in this area. Thomas Scott, his wife  Annie and young child emigrated from Scotland as assisted immigrants in 1841 aboard the Olympus.  The child died on the voyage but seven more children were born in New Zealand. Thomas operated Scott's Ferry from 1850 to 1908, near the mouth of the Rangitikei River, transporting horses, cattle, sheep, coaches, produce and passengers.  He and his wife Anne also managed the general store and hotel associated with the ferry. Until the opening of inland coach and rail routes, Scott's Ferry was situated on the only route between Wellington and Wanganui. The hospitality and food at Scott's Ferry was renowned, thanks to Annie Scott's efforts.

The ferry was purchased by the Featherston family in 1908 and was moved to the Wanganui River where it carried stock and produce until 1975.  After laying derelict on the river bank for the next 12 years, the ferry was salvaged and returned to the area where it first operated 140 years ago, in honour of all the early pioneers.

P6290012 Historic Scotts Ferry

We stopped at another historic site on the way back to SH1.   This was previously the main settlement of the Ngati Apa people of Parewanui.  There were twelve homes here, a meeting house and a great dining room with a large steam cooker and a bakers oven.  In the 1920s many people moved to Ratana, taking the meeting house and some of the other communal buildings, where they are still in use today.   By the 1930s few people remained, and the last derelict house was pulled down in the 1960s.   Only the bakers oven remains on this site. 

P6290022 Bakers oven from Ngati Apa settlement

Our tummies were telling us it was time for lunch, so we called in to Woolshed Cafe for lunch.  Come inside, the sign implored, the fire is on, and so is the soup!  The cafe was warm and inviting, and we both had a tasty lunch, fish pie for her, and pizza for him, with coffees to follow.  What could be nicer on a cold wintry day.  The interior was in fact decorated like a wool shed, with a timber wool press tucked away in a corner, and saddles and bridles hanging from the rafters.

P6290024 Wool press at the Woolshed Cafe

P6290027We saw a moa in the garden

Traffic came to a standstill on our way home, as a herd of cows crossed the main road.  This was a common sight in earlier years but such happenings are managed quite differently these days, with several cars sporting signs warning of stock on the road, and plenty of staff involved to get the cows safely across the busy highway. 

P6290029 There they go, happy to be away from the traffic

We had a good day out exploring the region, a nice lunch on the way home, what could be better.  But there was a mystery involved – more about that next time.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Just a little car cleaning

A tow car needs good tyres and the rear tyres needed replacing.  So after some on-line research, Firestone tyres were purchased.  Now there were new tyres fitted, perhaps the 4WD could do with a good clean, reasoned Robin.  So out came the bucket of soapy water, and the soft brush, and he got to work.  But you can guarantee that once someone starts washing a car, the rain comes down.  With only half the car done, car washing was put on hold, and the bucket sat for a couple of days behind the back fence, slowly filling to the brim with rain fall.

The rain stopped, but we had a bit of a “cool change” weather-wise.  Heavy frosts came calling several days in a row, so cold that the bucket had a thick layer of ice on top.  A bit too chilly, Robin felt,  to be getting on with the job of washing the car.

P6240002 Ice topped bucket

The whole country was going through a cold spell, although our part got off quite lightly.  Earlier in the week New Zealand shivered through one of its coldest nights on record when Pukaki, near Mt Cook, recorded the -20C temperature a couple of nights in a row.  Then there was the night the temperatures dropped to minus –21C in the township of Omarama in the Mackenzie Country. That's New Zealand's coldest in 20 years and not far off the country's record low of -25C set in Ranfurly in 1903.  Pipes were bursting all over the place, and without any water, an Omarama cafe couldn't even make a latte.  Now, that’s serious, when you can’t get your coffee fix!

It was certainly cold down in the South Island

Things warmed up in our part of the country, and Robin finally resumed his car washing job.  That’s better, can’t have one half clean and one half dirty, can we?

P6260004 Back on the job again

No way does this compare to the heavy snow, ice, and the freezing temperatures experienced down south,  but this snow cover on the Tararua Ranges looks lovely in the sunshine.

P6240069Local snow cover

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Gallipoli – the Scale of our War, at Te Papa

A visit to Te Papa Museum to see the Gallipoli Exhibition was both wonderful and very sobering at the same time.  It was Robin’s month to organise an outing with our SLG friends and he chose for us to go and see this exciting exhibition.  Te Papa Museum and Weta Workshop joined together to mark the WW1 Centenary.  The experiences of the ill fated eight month campaign at Gallipoli are shown through the eyes and diaries and letters of ordinary New Zealanders.

P6240005 Entrance to Te Papa

Our group rearranged the seating in the upstairs cafe for our “meet and greet” and a welcome cup of coffee.  Some of us had travelled quite a distance, a drive of 100km from Levin to Wellington for us two, and our Wairarapa friends Anne and Les had travelled over the Rimutaka Hill from Featherston.  No wonder we were all ready for a hot drink and a comfy sit-down.  Luckily the long queues waiting to get into the exhibition were not in evidence when we arrived at the doors early on a weekday morning – a good reason to avoid the weekend. 

P6240010Landing on the beach

The exhibition centres around eight marvellously lifelike models, in six tableaus, reproduced at 2.4 times human scale.  Each figure weighs between 90kg and 150kg, and all eight took 24,000 hours to build and install.  These models are based on real people who were in Gallipoli, and we heard words from their own letters read out and and shown on the darkened walls as we gazed in awe at the lifelike recreations.

P6248848 Fighting till the end

P6240014 Doctor unable to save his patient

P6248857 Soldier contemplating his rations covered in flies

P6248859Not willing to give up

P6240025Nurse finds out her soldier brother is dead

Gallipoli was a brutal campaign, and is a part of our history which every Kiwi knows well.  Not that we knew all the facts though, such as the severe deprivations, lack or water and food, that the men were covered in lice, or the fact that battle weary and deprived men were shot for falling asleep on duty.  For eight long months they were fighting a loosing battle, at at long last, the evacuation order was received.  The Anzac troops left silently in three groups in the darkness without lamps to light the way and no cigarettes were allowed to show the movement down the hills and onto the beach.    Everyone wrapped their boots in sandbags to muffle the trudge of retreat.  The survivors had safely left the beach, but were sad to be leaving the bodies of their mates behind.

P6240029Don’t Forget to click on the Picture to better to see the Percentages.  
There were interesting information boards to read, films to watch, and a sandbagged hut to sit in.  It was an amazing exhibition, thought provoking and sad at the same time, and will be running for the next four years.  Plenty of time for a repeat visit or two, and is well worth a trip to Wellington for those living out of town.  Visitors were invited to write a message on a red poppy and place it at the feet of the last larger than life soldier in the exhibition.

P6240032 Covered in red poppies – lest we forget

After we had seen our fill of the exhibition, our group met for lunch at the busy downstairs cafe.  With plenty of choice from soup, rolls and sandwiches, pies and chips, there was something for all tastes.  With the sunshine flooding in through the large picture windows, we asked a friendly lady at the next table to take our photo.

P6240062 And here we all are, the Super Leisure Group

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Mid Year Christmas Lunch

The Cancer Society Coffee Club support group (for ladies) had planned a mid year Christmas lunch for the members.  Robin attends the Rimu Club, a monthly support group for men as a volunteer helper and when the blokes heard about the ladies plans, they wanted to join in the festivities too.  And why not, we were booked in to the Masonic Village Cafe and their dining room could easily accommodate us all.  We duly arrived, only to find that the dining room was full with another group.  The Health Shuttle volunteer drivers were enjoying a morning tea together, and slowly finished up and made their way out the door, while our group were champing at the bit to get seated.  The tables were looking very Christmassy, and we filed in, found ourselves a seat, and settled down to await our lunch.

The men decided they didn’t want to sit with any of the ladies and would rather sit together in their own little group.  The arrival of plates filled to the brim with roast pork and roast beef, swimming in gravy, and served with lots of veggies certainly kept them quiet, and we didn’t hear a peep from their table as they enjoyed their main course.

P6230030 Men enjoying their lunch

P6230031 Waiting for our pudding

Although the ladies on our table declared that they were full and wouldn’t be cooking an evening meal that night, that didn’t stop them from eating a plate of pudding each.  How could we say no to Christmas Pudding served with cream and custard, and fruit salad on the side?

P6230032I love Christmas Pudding

It was a lovely meal and nice to share it with others from the two support groups.  And……. we will be back for a return performance of a Mid Year Christmas Lunch in a couple of weeks time, when we  return with the 60s Up Group!  It is a great meal, at a very reasonable price.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Farewell to Lewis

It is always sad farewelling a friend.  We first met Lewis about 35 years ago, and wondered just who this larger than life fellow with the softy spoken Canadian accent was.  Until we got to know him a little better, we certainly struggled with that accent.  Yes, he was speaking English, but that accent sounded a little strange to our Kiwi ears.  And heaven help anyone who mistook his voice for that of an American.  It must have been just as insulting for him as it would be for us Kiwis to be mistaken for an Aussie!

Robin and I married about this time, and Lewis and our friend Shirley tied the knot a year or so later.  One of our enduring memories of him happened in the mid 80s when we came up with the grand plan of walking the Milford Track, billed as the “Greatest walk in the World”.  The four of us plus another friend Jim got into training, brought ourselves wet weather gear and for those who didn’t already own them, tramping boots and a small pack.  Robin and I purchased a “swannie” jacket each, and I diligently knitted us woolly hats.   The five of us were all set for our great adventure.  The Milford Track would take us 5 days to transverse 54km of  through the heart of Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound, staying at serviced huts along the way
To save a little money, we agreed to travel down in Lewis’s van.  There we were, five of us seated on rather hard seats in an uncomfortable van, while we drove the length of the South Island.  Lewis was quite a heavy smoker at the time, and we endured our travel surrounded by clouds of cigarette smoke.  We finally made it to Te Anau where we were briefed on what to expect on our 5 days tramping, and we met the rest of our party of 40.  What a mixed bunch we were, amongst others there was a young honeymoon couple from Korea, a big headed Kiwi back from the States where he was a grid-iron star, a middle aged American vegetarian couple, and the Dennis family from Auckland, and our group of five.  This family was the bane of Lewis’s life on our tramp.  He described the the two daughters as “drop dead gorgeous”, as was their mum, and every morning at breakfast they appeared beautifully made up, with not a hair out of place.  After a hard day out on the track they looked just the same – guess they arrived earlier at the hut before most, had a quick shower and a change of clothes, dried their hair and replaced their make up.  How did they do it each day, we all wondered.  Lewis was a fit outdoorsy type of bloke, and each morning he set off with Shirley, ready to tackle the day’s walk.  We all  arrived at each hut each evening dripping wet, boots and legs covered in mud after a hard day walking across streams and trudging up and down hills, tired but happy we were coping with the trip.

The sleeping arrangements were segregated dormitories, men in one and women in the other, not much fun for the honeymoon couple at all.  The gorgeous Mum wandered into the men’s dormitory one morning to say hello to her hubby clad only in her sheer nighty – poor Lewis just about had an apoplexy!  Our three blokes had packed a bottle of liquor each in their packs, and enjoyed several tipples each night in the dining room before collapsing in bed to sleep.  After five days we made it to the end of the track, Sandfly Point, to wait for a boat to take us to Milford Sound.  Sandfly Point was aptly named, the pesky little critters surrounded us, biting like crazy.  We had made it – what a sense of accomplishment!  Not like that American vegetarian couple, they never had the stamina to complete the journey and had to be taken by jet boat down the river to the end of the walk.

After the tramp we climbed into Lewis’s van again and headed travelled up the West Coast, stopping along the way at motels.  To save costs we decided to share a family unit and us two couples took turns sleeping in the master bedroom.  One memorable night we arrived at Pine Grove Motels, miles from any settlement and tucked away in the middle of nowhere.  It was Shirley and Lewis’s turn for the big bedroom and they were both rather surprised to find that the room came complete with a full length mirror positioned on the ceiling over the bed!  Lewis was quizzed in the morning about this extra in the bedroom and all he would admit to was that “it wasn’t a pretty sight!”

Over the years we have had many a meal and outing together, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries together.  Lewis was a big man both in stature and personality, and we were privileged to have shared part of his life.  Although he led his life to the full, his innings were cut short, and our lives are the poorer with his passing.  Lewis, rest in peace.
 Lewis Morrison0001

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Lucky we’re home this weekend

It’s all on this weekend – flooding,  slips, road closures, people evacuated from their homes.  SH1 is closed between Otaki and Levin and the heavy rain warnings for the northern Tararuas and Horowhenua will only add to the flooding.

The damage at Waikawa Bridge on State Highway 1. NZTA say the road will likely not be open until tomorrow morning.Damage at Waikawa Bridge on SH1

Horowhenua, Manawatu, Wanganui and Taranaki councils have activated their emergency management centres, which included evacuation facilities.  Significant surface flooding and slips also closed a number of roads in the Kapiti Coast Region with non stop rain over the last 24 hours.  The Manawatu Gorge on State Highway 3 was open but slips had damaged sections of it.   Don’t go out, NZTA has advised, for any non-essential travel. 

A good weekend to stay home, by all accounts.  Just as well we had already planned on having a weekend at home, nothing would be worse than being out in bad weather towing a caravan behind us with multiple road closures.    Luckily we are warm and dry, tucked up safe and sound at home.  Let’s hope tomorrow is a better day for those affected by the flooding.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Silvereyes in the garden

Several pretty little Silvereyes have come calling recently, to feed on some fruit in our small back garden.  Lacking any large trees to hang fruit from, we purchased a wooden bird feeder to skewer apples and suchlike for the hungry birds to feed on.  There was a rather soft feijoa in the fruit bowl, so that was deftly skewered and we waited to see the birds were interested in our offering. And they were – they fed with gusto, hollowing out the centre of the fruit.

P6160031 Two Silvereyes feeding on the feijoa.

P6160032A good view of the ring around the eye

Later on a couple of squashy mandarin oranges were chopped in half and put outside on the grass to see if any of the birds were interested.  Once again, the Silvereyes made short work of the fruit, eating all the fleshy bits and leaving behind a cleaned out skin.

P6150021 Mandarin orange for lunch

Silvereyes feed on nectar, fruit and insects, and flocks of them have been known to cause damage in orchards.  They peck at the ripening soft fruit, such as grapes.  But they also do good deeds in the garden, eating woolly aphis from apple trees, greenfly, and other pests.  They are such pretty little birds and are delightful to watch, often hanging upside down while they feed.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Worth a Second Look

There we were the other evening, sitting quietly at home watching Sir Tony Robinson presenting a New Zealand segment of his Tour of Duty show set in Dunedin.  He  visited the home of official war artist Peter McIntyre to interview the two nieces who now live in the house and there on the wall was the postcard, “It’s  wonderful what leaks out, keep your mouth shut”.  Robin had spotted this humorous drawing in the men’s loos of the National Army Museum at Waiouru in April and couldn’t resist taking a photo.  We didn’t realise at the time that it was the work of Peter McIntyre. The photographic postcard reproduces a drawing by Peter McIntyre warning against speaking indiscreetly. It shows the backs of two soldiers in military uniform with lemon-squeezer hats, standing at a urinal.  Well worth a second look, we feel, especially as we are now aware of the artist behind this amusing little piece of art.

P4238836 It’s wonderful what leaks out, keep your mouth shut – postcard

In January 1941 Peter McIntyre was appointed New Zealand’s official war artist and promoted to the rank of captain by Major General Bernard Freyberg. Between 1941 and 1945 he recorded the activities of 2NZEF in Crete and North Africa, and at Cassino in Italy, where he became a major. His work was exhibited in Europe and New Zealand, and reproduced in magazines including the New Zealand Listener, making him a household name in New Zealand. His war art defined the New Zealand soldier’s experience of the Second World War. Images such as ‘German parachutists landing on Galatos, Crete’, ‘28th Maori Battalion moves up’, and ‘The wounded at Cassino’ were subsequently reproduced in numerous publications. McIntyre’s work from this period belongs to the collection of war art at National Archives in Wellington.

Immediately following the war he worked as an artist in Dunedin, producing portraits and landscapes. In the decades following McIntyre won a number of art awards, and published eight books. He was awarded an OBE in 1970, and died in Wellington on 11 September 1995.  He was certainly a very talented man.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Autumn to Winter today

It’s been a day of two halves today.  The morning started off reasonably fine for Autumn, a little cloudy and windy, but that is to be expected at this time of year.  Foliage on some of the large trees which were planted to muffle the traffic noise from the busy road behind our property are turning red and gold and starting to fall.  Mind you, a few days of windy weather will soon strip the remaining leaves from the trees.  It is only the “exotic” trees which lose their leaves in winter, here in New Zealand the native trees are evergreen and retain their coverage all year around. 

P6100010 Leaves falling from the trees

The painter has been working around our village over the last week or so, re-staining the cedar weatherboards on some of the villas up our end of the complex.  He was back at work again this morning working around our villa, paintbrush in hand, and his portable radio cranked up loud.


We asked him if he wouldn’t mind running his brush across our little timber name plaque, which was showing signs of weathering.  No trouble at all, he assured us.  Now we can remember what our names are.


All painting came to a stand still as the season changed dramatically at mid-day to winter and heavy rain started coming down – guess damp wet weather and painters don’t really mix well.   He packed up his brushes and tin of wood stain to head off home and potter around in his garage, he said.  But he hasn’t finished here yet.  He will be back sometime shortly to clamber up on the roof and re-stain the gable ends on the villas.  That will be worthy of a photo, I expect.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Muffy tries hard for a Day of Rest

Sunday should be a day of rest – right?  And that’s what this cat does best, if only I got the chance.  I tried hard in the morning, but Robin was busy “doing the bills” on the computer.  Try as I might, he wouldn’t let me jump up on the table and find a cosy place for a snooze.  “No, no”, he kept saying.  Come on, give me a break, it’s Sunday, after all.

P6070001 No cats allowed on the table, I’m told

And as for Jenny, it’s obvious that she doesn’t realise that Sunday should be a day of rest.  If she wasn’t outside hanging out the washing, she was sitting at her sewing machine, whirring away.  And then there was all that banging about in the kitchen, cooking the Sunday roast.  Must admit that the roast chicken smells pretty good, not that I will be getting any.  Did you know they put me on a special diet – and I’m not even fat!  It’s a special kidney diet they tell me, all for the good of my health.

All I’ve been looking for all day is a nice lap to curl up on.  I had to admit defeat in the afternoon and have a little sleep on the couch all by myself.  But it’s not the same, especially on a Sunday.

P6070006 A girl needs her rest

Success at last – Robin finally sat down on his recliner chair.  I jumped up on his lap as quick as a wink, and settled myself down for a Sunday snooze.  That’s what Sunday should be all about, a day of rest.  And to be truthful, as far as pussy cat wisdom goes, so is every day!

P6070007 I’ve been waiting all day for this

Talk to you later, love from Muffy.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Sunny Otaki

We had a day in sunny Otaki today – or it should have been.  After all, that’s what the sign said.  In actual fact, it was a cloudy day, but without any pesky wind.   The first European settlers were ex-whalers turned traders. In the late 1890s the large areas of alluvial soil at Otaki began to be used for market gardening. In 1912 Otaki was created a town district and was constituted a borough in 1921. The name is said to mean “the place of a staff stuck in the ground”, when the tohunga Haupipi-a-nanaia was on his way southwards in search of his wife, as an indication that he wished to rest there.


Otaki is a 20km drive from home and has turned itself into one of those popular “Outlet Towns”.  People come from far and wide to visit a number of the big name brand stores which line the street.  Bendon was one of the first companies to open an outlet in Otaki, which is now one of their busiest stores in the country.   (And yes, I just had to go into this intimate apparel shop and came away with some of their good quality bargains.  And new shoes as well, lucky me).  As it was Friday, the streets weren’t too over-run by shoppers, but it certainly would be a different story over the weekend.

And we couldn’t visit Otaki without a visit to Harringtons, an interesting butchery which specializes in hand crafted small goods.  We came away with black pudding, bacon, and Cranksy sausages.   Yummy, there will be several nice cooked breakfasts out of that little lot.


After all this shopping, it was soon time for lunch at one of the local cafes.  Big breakfast for him, and pea and ham soup for her – all very tasty, even more so with a Gold Card discount.  After a quick phone call to see if our friends Geoff and Eileen were home, we whiled away another hour or so with them, before heading back home.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Here comes the Train

The sun peeped over the horizon with a beautiful sunrise, shining through the tall trees. Such lovely colours heralding the start of a brand new day.

A brand new morning

Our caravan buddies packed up and started for home after morning tea, hoping to beat the long weekend busy traffic holdups. A few stayed for lunch and we waved them off too, leaving us all alone in our part of the camp. But never mind, with a couple of appointments to attend to in Palmy it suited us to stay in camp for a couple of extra nights.

All on our lonesome

We explored the Manawatu River walk in the afternoon. There were joggers, dog walkers galore, and families out enjoying the sunny afternoon. So pretty along the pathway, lovely tall trees everywhere with the river flowing alongside.

Down by the river

But what's this? Toot, toot, that sounds like the train is running. We left the pathway and followed the sounds till we came across the small railway station. One of the volunteers on duty must have thought that we looked the kind of people to enjoy a train ride, and kindly presented us with a couple of complimentary tickets for the last ride of the afternoon.

It doesn't take much to make us happy

The Palmerston North Esplanade Railway was opened in 1969 and 2.2kms of track runs through native bush. The railway is operated and funded by members of the PN Esplanade Railway. The train had right-of-way as it crossed over the roads in the park.

Little ones watched in delight and waved enthusiastically as the train trundled past, and we waved right back. The track took us through the trees, round past the coffee house, and back through the trees again. What fun

Here we go

At the end of our trip, we stayed and watched as the second loco finished its trip, and then both trains were put to bed for the night.

Putting the train away for the night

For those who need to know such things, the scale is 1/4 designed on the New Zealand Railway system. The track gauge is 260mm (10 1/4 inches) and there are three locomotives. The original DA loco was built in 1969 and completely refurbished in 1999. The DXC was built in 1975, and the DXR was built in 1997. These locomotives are powered by 3 cylinder Kubota diesel motors, hydraulic driven. 

DXC loco