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

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Family Time at Palmerston North

It was daughter Nicky’s BIG 50th Birthday and we gathered for lunch at the very poshly named Orlando Country Club.   As well as a cafe and function centre, (just the place for weddings, we were told) it also runs a golf driving range.

P8280032 Orlando Country Club

The interior was rather like stepping into a giant barn, a timber lover’s dream of exposed rafters and we were surrounded with the golden hues of natural timber. 

P8280033Orlando’s Cafe

And here is the birthday girl herself, showing the elaborate fold out card given to her by her Dad.  She can’t really be 50, surely?  Where have all those years gone?

P8280038  My little girl Nicky

It was a small family gathering, guest of honour Nicky, her hubby Robert, and grand-daughter Emma.  Robin and I of course, and Nicky’s Dad Barton with wife Daphne.  And last but not least, Nicky’s dear friend Heather.  Our meals were huge, but that didn’t stop most of us ordering a big squishy piece of cake from the cabinet.  And why not – it was a birthday party, after all.  There was plenty to talk about, and fun times remembered.  I had organised one of those “photo books” online and it was great to see Nicky’s face as she flicked through the pages looking at all the long forgotten photos from years gone by.  Especially the one of her with her and her class mates all dressed up as trees for a school play.

P8280034 Heather and Nicky looking through the photo book

And then there was the birthday quilt to admire.  Nicky had requested a new quilt in greens and pinks, and was getting a little anxious that it wouldn’t be ready in time.  But Mum’s do their very best to oblige, and although I was stitching the label on the back the previous day, it was all wrapped and ready for the big day.

P8280037 Nicky admiring her new quilt

P8280042 Three generations, g-daughter Emma (I don’t like photos so I’m not going to smile), Nicky and Jenny

After a long lunch we all went our separate ways, with Nicky and Heather continuing with their day of indulgence as they went off to have a massage each.  From the car park we could see the wind turbines away in the distance going about their business as they produced power for the grid. 

P8280045 Wind turbines

Driving back home it was evident that Spring had sprung with lots of new lambs in the paddocks.  There must be something in the water as twin lambs seemed to be in abundance.   There they go, wagging their tails behind them!


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Lovely Spring Day

It’s been a lovely Spring day today, and looking out over our back fence there is not a hint of snow to be seen.  Just clear blue skies with the jagged peaks of the ranges looking a little hazy in the distance.  Now that a couple of trees have been removed from the beautification strip along the busy road behind us, we now have a clear view of the ranges from our property.

P8270011 Our view over the back fence

Our New Zealand flag has been fluttering in the light breeze.  There are plans afoot to change the design of our flag with plenty of debate for and against.  With the Australian and New Zealand flags being so similar in colour and design, our flag is often mistaken for the Australian one – by those who can’t spot the difference.  The “will we – won’t we” debate will be decided by not one but two National referendums. 

P8270018 Flying the flag at home

We have a few cheery yellow daffodils in flower, and these pretty primulas are making an appearance now it is so much warmer.  Spring has arrived – roll on Summer!


Monday, 24 August 2015

A Fall from Grace at Paekakariki

Oh dear – just look at that nose!  Poor old Selwyn took a tumble as he was on his way to the ablution block in the dark and fell off a ledge.  Crack – right down onto his nose, and his knee didn’t fare too well either.  But with a whole lot of TLC, a few painkillers, and tucked up in his cosy bed overnight, he had recovered enough to laugh about it the next morning.  It could have been much worse, with a broken ankle perhaps, but we won’t even think about that.

P8220023 Shaken – but not too stirred up after his fall from grace

The good weather continued all weekend and it is always so nice to be able to sit together outside in the sunshine.  Our Rally family, Geoff and Eileen, had set us the task of a “do it yourself quiz” over the weekend.  Each couple had to compile a short list of 5 general knowledge questions, and we had to go from van to van to get the questions, and hopefully write down the answers.  Some questions were decidedly more difficult than others.  But you know how it goes -  if you know the answer, the question is easy, if you don’t know the answer, it is too hard.  Barry and Diane were the clear winners. 

It was announced at Sunday Morning Tea that we were having our own version of the “Chocolate Éclair Rally”, and a plate of mini éclairs were handed round.  Several of us had planned to attend the original Chocolate Éclair Rally in Ohakune last month, but due to bad weather and road closures this rally was deferred a month, but the new date clashed with other commitments.  Thank you, Geoff and Eileen – since we couldn’t get to that rally, the chocolate éclairs came to us!

P8230033 Chocolate Éclairs for morning tea

Paekakariki Holiday Park where we were staying is set in 11 acres of rolling grounds with beautiful mature trees, and is a bird lover’s paradise.  Many bird varieties kept us enthralled and entertained over the weekend.  Large groups of Californian Quails appeared in the late afternoon feeding on the grass in front of our caravans – their head plumes bobbing away as they busily pecked away, feeding on the grass and any insects they might find.  I crept up towards them with my camera, only to frighten them away.  They took to the wing and flew away to hide from sight in a large tree.

P8210006 Californian Quail

Some pretty little Goldfinches came calling too.  These are rather attractive birds with their black and tan faces, and bright yellow wing stripes.  They joined in with  the quail on their late afternoon feeding expeditions.  Sorry for the poor quality photo, but I had to hurriedly snap them before they flew away.  We do not see these birds in our garden at home, so it was lovely to spot them at Paekakariki.

P8220024 Two Goldfinches

We sat and watched a large Kereru (New Zealand Pigeon) high up in the trees.  These heavy birds are rather clumsy on the wing, and crash about from branch to branch.  Believe it or not - they have been known to gorge themselves on fermented berries and get drunk! Then we saw a Starling perched up high on a bare branch, with the sun shining off the iridescent feathers.  Starlings were introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800s and have successfully made themselves at home here in this country.

P8230035 Starling perched on high was watching us having morning tea

We practically had the whole camp to ourselves, but once the summer holidays roll around, families arrive with their tents and caravans and to enjoy fun times at the nearby beach.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Rally Weekend at Paekakariki

We were the last to arrive at Paekakariki Camp on Friday afternoon, despite being 20km closer to our destination because we had stayed overnight at Otaki.  Robin was busy all day attending a refresher driver’s course with other volunteer drivers from the Cancer Society – that’s our excuse anyway.  There was a bit of discussion on what particular site we would take – camping too close to large trees means that the TV will not pick up a signal from the satellite.  Eventually we were in place in a more open area, and with the help of a long lead were soon plugged into the power box. 

P8220008 All parked up at Paekakariki

Saturday morning was warm enough to sit outside in the wintry sunshine for Morning Tea.  Then we took a quick trip down to the thriving metropolis of Paekakariki to purchase a few necessities.  Most of the shops are of the vintage variety including the grocery store with it's creaky wooden floor – our old friend Arkwright would not look out of place behind the counter at all.

P8220011   Paekakariki Shops

The unmistakable sound of a steam engine had us hurrying down to the station.  And sure enough, there she was, the Passchendaele engine herself, from Steam Incorporated, huffing and puffing in all her magnificent glory.  The day’s trip was from Paekakariki to Otaki and return, and as the train pulled away from the station, we waved back at all the happy day trippers.  There is certainly something quite magical about a steam engine, isn’t there?

P8220014 All aboard for a day of fun

We took the sea view drive back to camp along The Parade to check out the beach.  The tide was right in at there wasn’t a great deal of sand available for a beach walk.  But we got a good view of Kapiti Island, which is about 5k off the coastline.

P8220019 Kapiti Island from Paekakariki Beach

The rest of the day was spent with our caravan buddies in camp, and then we pooled cars and drove back down to the village for an evening meal at Finn’s Restaurant and Bar

P8220010Finn’s Restaurant and Bar

The twelve of us sat around the large table, and we pondered the options for dinner.  Decisions made, the friendly young waitress took our orders, and  the chefs got busy in the kitchen.  They did very well, as the meals all came out together – and they were huge!  Choices made were burgers, fish and chips, pork belly, and sticky pork ribs.

P8220030 Caravan Club members ready to eat

P8220032Pork belly for me, and a large platter of ribs for Robin – both equally delicious

Friday, 21 August 2015

Over-nighting in Rural Otaki

As we pulled the caravan into the driveway at rural Otaki, it was rather like a moment of déjà-vue.  We had previously stayed at this property (in the caravan)  for 3 months while we waited for our new home to be built.  With cow paddocks on one side, and a commercial rhubarb growing enterprise on the other, it really does seem to be in the heart of rural farm life.  But in reality, it is only a a couple of minutes drive to the Otaki shops on SH1.

P8200002 Late afternoon in Otaki

We were heading south for a weekend caravan club rally at a little further along SH1 at Paekakariki, and had planned to go a day early – just because we could.  Instead, said Geoff and Eileen, why not stay the night here?  So we did, thanks very much.  The weather is glorious, lovely blue skies and nice and warm – perhaps Spring is not too far away?  Whatever the weather, it is always great to catch up with our caravan buddies, we are looking forward to a great weekend.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lunch at Petone

Yesterday we met up with our SLG friends at Jackson Cafe and Bistro, Petone, for lunch.  Twelve people sitting at one long table can certainly make a lot of noise, we have noticed.  The lunch choices were great, Robin chose steak and I had pasta for a change.  Both very tasty, and we couldn’t resist a slice of white chocolate cheesecake to follow.  After that rather large lunch, I declared we didn’t really need an evening meal.

P8180007 Out with our SLG friends for lunch

We parted company after lunch, with the rest of the group travelling on to Wellington to continue on with the day’s outing.  John was in charge of the day, and had arranged for the group to visit St Gerard’s Monastery.  Unfortunately, we had to miss this, it would have been very interesting, but we had to return home for a late afternoon appointment back in Levin.  But we could spare a little time to check out Petone Beach before we started on our homeward journey.  And we spotted the new Bluebridge Interisland Ferry, the Strait Feronia, which previously sailed between Sweden and Germany.
P8180010 The Strait Feronia

Petone Beach is where the European settlement of New Zealand started.  The New Zealand Company’s first settler ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone on 22nd January 1840, marking the founding of the settlement that would become Wellington. The new town was named in honour of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington.  By the end of the year, 1200 settlers had arrived from England.  This monument marks the place where the first church service was held in the new colony.

P8180015 Site of first church service on Petone Beach

P8180012 Red Billed Gulls enjoying the sea breezes

A little further along was another sculpture – a large pair of wooden oars.  I had seen these many times but never really knew what they were for.  The work of art was created by John Calvert in 2003 and is named “Salute”.  The plaque states:  “These oars salute those who have arrived and departed these shores, and who will arrive and depart in the future”.

“Salute”, honouring those who have arrived from overseas, and those who have departed.

Our time at historical Petone had came to an end, and it was to head homewards for our appointment.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday Drive to Foxton

We took a leisurely Sunday drive to Foxton, about 20km up SH1 today for Sunday lunch and to allow me to check out a new quilt shop.  Foxton Villa Cafe is, as name suggests,  housed in an old timber villa, which is full of character.  The brightly coloured cup and saucer made from good old corrugated iron showed that we were in the right place.

P8160008 Foxton Villa Cafe

Not quite sure what we would find on the menu, I had my mind set on soup, or something similar.  But when I discovered seared scallops and king prawns on the blackboard menu, I made an instant decision – that would be my Sunday lunch.  And Robin thought the slow cooked leg of lamb served with roast veggies was too good to pass up.  We were both very pleased with our choices.

P8160007 Roast lamb for him, and scallops and prawns for her.

After that delicious lunch we needed a little exercise, and went for a walk along the Awahou Bush Boardwalk.  This Boardwalk is a project of ‘Keep Foxton Beautiful’ and has been constructed with the help of many local citizens.  After reading the sign warning us to “beware of overhanging vegetation” (PC gone mad, perhaps?) we bravely set off along the walkway. 

P8160010 Start of the Awahou Bush Boardwalk

The ground is very boggy, and the boardwalk meandered through native bush and tall flaxes.  Birdlife abounded, including one of our favourites, the beautiful tui with it’s iridescent blue/black plumage.

P8160013Through the bush and over the soggy ground

Soon we arrived at the Manawatu River, and sat down in the sun on a handy picnic table for a photo or two, with the river behind us.

P8160015 Selfie taken at the Manawatu River

The boardwalk is only about 0.5km long, with plans to extend it in the future.  We wandered back to our car along the site of the old Foxton Railway Yards.  The sign mentioned that there was an old ship’s boiler nearby, and we finally found it, almost hidden from view in the nearby bushes.

P8160016 Former Foxton Railway Yards

P8160017Boiler in the bushes

Foxton was named after Sir William Fox and produced huge quantities of NZ Flax (Phormium tenax), used for rope, wool sacks and floor coverings.  During the mid to late 1800s Foxton was a bustling port, with over 10 steamers making regular visits.  But sadly the bustling port is no more.   By 1908 problems with river silting and a dangerous bar which led to many ships stranding meant that coastal shipping was avoiding Foxton.  Deforestation of the inland Manawatu District in the late nineteenth century caused increased flooding and led to the creation of stop banks, floodgates, and the Whirokino Cut. Completed in 1943 as part of the Lower Manawatu Flood Control Scheme, it was intended as a spillway but an unexpected flood broke through the upper end and diverted the river down the spillway, cutting off the Foxton loop of the river.  The Foxton Loop now only has a tidal flow and isn’t connected to the river at its top end, the upper end of the Loop having silted up during a flood in 1953.  Local groups would dearly like to get the Foxton loop open again.

P8160020 Former Foxton Harbour Board shed and wharf

There is such a lot of history in these small local towns, and there is always something interesting to discover.


Friday, 14 August 2015

Wandering around Woodville – Part 2

Lunch in Woodville was at the Lindauer Restaurant and our bus group of 40 filled the restaurant to capacity.  Roast lamb was on the menu and our 60s Up group was quickly served – silence reigned while we all enjoyed our meals.  Later the owner told us some of the history of the area.  His restaurant sits on the site of the old Club Hotel and stables, which replaced Woodville’s very first building, a log hut in a clearing inside 70 Mile Bush.  Two large photographs grace the walls of the restaurant, showing Woodville in it’s very early years.

P8120019 Part of 70 mile Bush can be seen behind the early buildings

P8120022 This photo was taken just 9 years later showing growth in the town

Woodville still had more to show us, so after lunch we boarded the bus, and drove around a few corners to the Woodville Pioneer Museum. 

P8120027 Woodville Pioneer Museum

P8120034 Old fashioned grocer’s shop

There was plenty to see, from the grocer’s shop, and lovingly decorated vintage rooms, kitchen, dining room, parlour, and bedrooms complete with dolls clothed in beautiful hand made clothes.

P8120032 Dining room

Many cabinets house the 600 strong Bessie Spinnet Teapot Collection, lovingly collected over many years and donated to the museum in 2001.  Like most collections, it started small, and grew and grew, with tea pots from all over the world.

P8120036Just part of the Bessie Spinnet  tea pot collection

P8120044 Outside was a tiny gaol, with hardly room to swing a cat.

And sheds behind the house held a plethora of artefacts, from tools, farm machinery, horse drawn wagons, and even a fire engine.  We could have spent a lot of time here, looking at this and that, but we were called to board the bus for our return journey.

P8120052 A gig and flat bed wagon

After Peter made a quick head count to make sure we were all safely aboard, he announced that we were travelling back home over the Saddle Road, instead of driving back around the notorious Manawatu Gorge.

P8120015 All aboard – it’s time to head home

We would have a stop at the Te Apiti Wind Farm Lookout, to get up and personal to the wind turbines, Peter announced.  Sadly, this wasn’t to be, as the area was closed for maintenance.  

P8120058 Wind Farm Lookout closed

P8120062 So we continued on our way, up and over the Saddle Road

Once through Palmerston North, it wasn’t too long till we arrived back in Levin.  I don’t know how many enjoyed the scenery, as most of the passengers seemed to have nodded off after their long day out.   As always, it was another interesting 60s Up trip.