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

Saturday, 31 October 2015

On the farm in Kiwitea

Life on the farm is all go – and we needed a cooked breakfast to start off our Saturday and keep the energy levels up.  So Robin and I prepared some pancakes, served with fruit, maple syrup and whipped cream for the family.  With a couple of coffee plungers full of piping hot coffee, it was a good way to start the morning.

PA310004 Breakfast for the family

We had a little shopping to do in the morning, and then went to check out the BBQ of choice which Robin plans to purchase very soon.  We were just in time, as the staff were slicing up a rolled pork loin roast which had just finished cooking on the barbecue.  It was delicious, and the pork crackle – so yummy.  The pork had been replaced with a leg of lamb, we noticed, what a wonderful way to cook roasts in the summer.  Once we work out exactly what BBQ (and accessories) we want to buy, we will be all set for summer cooking.

Back on the farm, there was another horse to meet and admire.  Blossom is a Clydesdale cross, an older horse who hasn’t been handled much, and Emma is working at breaking her in.

PA310012 Emma with Blossom

And I had to go and have another look at Emma’s new baby Fire Dancer with her Mum Sonata.  The young foal has Arabian bloodlines from her sire and Emma is over the moon with her.

PA310016 Sonata, Fire Dancer, and Emma

While I was quietly blogging away in the caravan (thanks to the family for the use of their Wi-Fi) I heard a huge racket outside.  In rumbled SIL Robert with his biggest “boy’s toy”, a big Fiat tractor with a lethal looking blade attached to the back which slices through long grass. He had been using it in one of the other paddocks when it started giving him trouble, so back it came to the house to get a bit of TLC.

PA310018 Robert with his Fiat tractor

PA310022 And here it is in action, slicing trough the long grass

Poor old Muffy was rather concerned with all the action outside.  Especially with the farm dogs being so close, she was keeping a good eye on them through the window.

PA310020Help Mum, there’s a dog outside my window!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Off to the Wilds of Kiwitea

Only home a week, and it’s time to hit the road again.  This time, off to the wilds of Kiwitea, a little north of Feilding.  And it’s not too long a trip at all, just a mere 90kms up the road.  We stopped for lunch at Sanson, calling into Viv’s Kitchen for a couple of her famous Cream Horns.  What a delicious treat they were, flaky pastry filled with cream and a touch of jam.  Not something one can eat delicately, so it was just as well we had our lunch back in the caravan out of sight from the general public.  By the time we had finished our fingers were covered in cream, and bits of flaky pastry were everywhere.  But we can assure you that we enjoyed each and every bite!

PA300066We called into Viv’s Kitchen for a couple of Cream Horns

Continuing on the last stage of our journey we were stopped in our tracks by a long line of dairy  cows crossing the road.  There were hundreds of them, all on their way to the milking shed across the busy road on the other side of the farm.


PA300070 There they go

Grand-daughter Megan was home when we arrived at our destination and we manouvered the caravan into place beside the garage.There had been an awful lot of rain lately, so the ground was rather wet.  Just as well we have a big strong 4WD in case we get stuck when it is time to leave.

PA300078 Parked on the farm in Kiwitea

There was a new baby to admire.  Grand-daughter Emma has been eagerly awaiting the birth of her mare Sonata's new baby, a filly called Fire Dancer.  The baby is so cute with it’s fuzzy black mane and tail.  Sonata is a first time mother and is doing very well.  Emma was away at work, so Megan took me to see the new foal.

PA300077 New baby

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Lunch at Brown Butter Kitchen

The 70th birthday celebrations continued with a lunch at Brown Butter Kitchen, Ohau, with our SLG friends.  We had checked the place out with a reccie several weeks ago.  After a check of the extensive menu, and the tasty looking dishes in the cabinet, we decided that this was the place to come to with our SLG friends.  The menu included “lambs fry and bacon” which is a real favourite as far as our friend Les  is concerned.  With that dish on the menu, he doesn’t bother with anything else.


PA280040 Birthday lunch at Brown Butter Cafe, Ohau

Our group was seated at a long table in the back dining area, well away from the other customers, so we could be as vocal as we wanted.  Mind you, the noise level dropped considerably when the meals were put in front of us.  We ordered fish, burgers, a big breakfast, hot pork and corned beef, and toasted sandwiches.  Plus  one helping of lambs fry and bacon for Les, just as we had predicted he would order.

After our leisurely lunch, everyone was invited back to our home for birthday cake and  a cuppa.  Several made a detour to RJ’s Liquorice in Levin and came away with bags of their yummy products.  There was (yet another) birthday cake to cut.

PA280042 That’s two birthday cakes so far

John did the honours and presented me with a gift voucher on behalf of the group, something which only happens on a major birthday ending in “0”.  John and I are “cuzzies” related back in the mists of time.  Our family lines both originated from the Gunn Clan in Scotland, branching out through the Jamison and Wilson lines.

PA280045 John and Jenny, with the presentation

When our group gets together there is always plenty to talk about.  From overseas holidays, the state of the nation, and the many outings and celebrations we have shared over the years.  It was a lovely day, and thanks to all who came and shared it with me.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Rugby and a little Cricket

With rugby being our national game, there was no way that the good keen blokes in the caravan club would not bother getting up at the ungodly hour of 4.00AM on Sunday morning while taking part in a caravan rally over the weekend.    Several of them gathered in the camp dining room in front of the TV, while their spouses slumbered on in their caravan beds.  And our powerful All Blacks had an epic battle to beat the South African team and qualify for the finals. Which means of course that the ABs will be facing the Wallabies (Australia) next week.

PA250014 C’mon New Zealand – Bill showing his allegiance

Later in the afternoon we were put into two teams for the gentleman’s game of cricket. The game of mild-mannered men in white flannels.  It is a game that, so some say, segregates the “classy from the crude, and the boorish from the benign”.  Our game was one especially dreamed up for those less active than they used to be.  We all took turns of batting and bowling, but luckily didn’t have to run between the wickets.  “Run points” were awarded depending on the distance that the ball was hit, and some of us were hard pressed to hit the ball at all.  Or else, they excelled in hitting it up into the trees!  And it was all bowled underarm, shades of that infamous Aussie bowler that we have never yet forgiven or forgotten!

PA250017 At least he managed to hit the ball

Camp managers, Pete and Di, decided to escape their camp duties for a while and rode along the highways and bi-ways of on their motor bike.  Suitably togged up, of course.  “You’re in charge”, they gaily called out, as they roared out  the gates on the bike.

PA250013  Pete and Di off for a ride

There were platters of food appearing from everywhere over the weekend.  Camp Mum Di presented us with a tray of delicious hot cheese scones for morning tea.

PA250009 Robin buttering a cheese scone

PA250012Then Kath offered the choccies around for  a birthday shout

Val had a celebration too, and presented us all with some tasty home made savouries.  And last but not least, we all took part in a “Pot Luck Dinner” on Sunday evening, sharing all sorts of tasty dishes, including  corned beef, bacon and egg pie, and chicken, followed by a great selection of desserts.  No time for photos of all the food, it went in a flash.  It was a great weekend, and we were so lucky with the wonderful Wairarapa sunshine.  The weather was so hot that several of the blokes donned their shorts, showing off their winter white legs, and sun hats were the accessory of the weekend.  Looks like summer is well and truly on the way.

PA260018 And here we all are

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Can’t see in front of of our Noses

Keen caravanners don’t let a little thing like a visit to the operating theatre stop us going away for a three day holiday weekend.  So the day after my trip to hospital we finished packing the caravan and headed off for a weekend at Carterton.  There was a choice of two routes – either south and drive over the Rimutaka Hill, or northwards and over the Pahiatua Track, both options reasonably similar in distance from home.  The driver chose the northwards route, and as we drove over the Pahiatua Track we were soon enveloped in clouds and could hardly see in front of our noses.

PA230040 Up in the clouds

The road over the track twisted and turned every which way and once down the other side I suggested that we have an early lunch stop so that I could get my equilibrium back.  There was a handy rest area not too far away which we pulled into, joining a couple of other truck drivers who were also enjoying a break.  A rest, a sandwich and a hot drink soon settled my post-op queasiness, and then we were ready to continue on our journey.

PA230042 Stopping for lunch

We were the last of our group to arrive at Carterton Holiday Park, one of our favourite camps.  Pete and Di keep everything spic and span, and the beautiful grounds are a credit to them.  These days the most important site consideration seems to be satellite TV reception, so we had to make sure that we were not too close to the large trees.  We parked up beside a work in progress, a large bus which seems to be getting a refit.

PA250006 All set for the weekend

Slices of carrot cake was handed around to our caravan buddies at morning tea on Saturday for my birthday.  Not quite the home baked delight I had originally planned, but I ran out of time and couldn’t fit the cooking duties into my busy week. 

PA240001 Carrot cake for morning tea

It was great to have Life Members Peter and Elaine come calling for a few hours, and catch up with all their news.  They have been having a difficult time lately, so it was good to see them laughing and letting their hair down with our group of crazy caravan club members.

PA240002 Peter and Elaine returning home – catch you next time!

We enjoyed a “Wine and Cheese” event in the afternoon and the variety of cheeses on offer was amazing.  Everything from lovely creamy blues, fruit cheeses, camembert, and a couple of herby varieties.  Have to admit that a few sips of wine were my undoing and made my head swim, so I soon switched to good old Adam’s Ale – much more to my liking.

PA240003 An afternoon of Wine and Cheese

There were a few quizzes in the evening  to get our brains working and check our intelligence levels.  Some did better than others, and some didn’t do very well at all.  As I’ve said before, quizzes are easy if you know the answers!  Bedtime beckoned, and the big question was – who will win the All Blacks South Africa Rugby Match?  Several of the blokes declared that yes, they would get up at 4.00am to watch the game!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The lady with the painted arm

Birthday celebrations were suspended with a trip to hospital.  Not as bad as it sounds, no nasty accident, just a small operation in waiting.  My name had finally reached the top of the list, and my presence was requested on Thursday, one day before my big birthday.  The pre-op interview was conducted over the phone, and I was feeling quite pleased with myself as I answered “no” to all the questions.  No, I don’t smoke, or drink, don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, piercings, steel plates or screws, don’t take any medication, etc. etc.  One question really made laugh, when I was asked if I take “street drugs”.   No, again - wouldn’t really know how to find any.  But there was one “yes” answer, to dentures, those tricky things which really make it difficult to blow out the candles on birthday cakes, I’ve recently discovered.

We arrived at the hospital and joined the others, all arriving at the same check in time, taken through to the pre-op area and seated on lazy boy chairs.  Everyone could see everyone else, and hear what was being asked.  I was asked more questions,  more boxes were ticked, more forms filled in, and a hospital band attached to my wrist.  There was a bit of excitement when another nurse appeared to query if my nurse was sure she had the correct person.  Luckily, I was who I thought I was, so goodness knows what that exchange was all about, perhaps there were two of us with the same name.  I was given a hospital gown, long white socks, a blanket, and a bag for my clothes and sent down to the changing rooms, then to return to my seat and await further developments.   I had seen some of the blokes walk back with those most unflattering hospital gowns gaping at the back and lots of bare skin showing, so I made sure that my blanket was securely wrapped around so I wasn’t giving a peep show to anyone. 

The surgeon arrived with a marker pen and drew on my arm so that she would be sure which arm she was dealing with.  Like policemen getting younger all the time, my young lady surgeon seemed hardy to be out of college.  There was no worry that the anaesthetist wasn’t old enough, he seemed even older than me, as he drolly related all the things which could go wrong while I was out cold.  Soon after, I was wheeled into the operating room, and after three or four tries, the canella was finally inserted in my wrist.  “You’ll be out to it in 15 seconds”, the elderly anaesthetist told me.  And I must have been, because that’s all I remember.

Luckily I survived my time out cold, the offending lump was removed, and I woke up feeling a little groggy but otherwise well enough to have a cuppa and something to eat.  Robin arrived back and I showed him the dressings taped to the top of my arm.  “Your arm’s bright red”, he said, ‘just like it’s been painted!”  Or like a cooked lobster, or a bad dose of sunburn, perhaps.  Sure enough, it was, and I hadn’t even noticed.  What I did notice was that every now and then the monitor measuring my blood oxygen kept beeping as the oxygen levels dropped.  The nurse wasn’t too worried, just take big breathes, she advised.  Seems this is a fairly common happening after anaesthetic.  She soon returned with a discharge form for me to sign, a few dressings, advice on what to do if I felt unwell, my bag of clothes, and I was free to go.  And with dissolving stitches in place, I don’t even have a follow-up visit.  My hospital adventure was over, we drove back home, and it was an early night for me.  Blessedly pain free, as long as I didn’t lie on the arm with the stitches. 

2015 - 1 Going home after the op

Monday, 19 October 2015

Family Celebrations

The kids came home, from north and south – after all it’s not every day their poor old Mum turns 70!  I’m not quite sure how that happened, didn’t I used to be young once?  The family birthday celebrations were a week early, as it turned out.  The reason being that my birthday always falls over the long Labour Weekend, and that’s when we go away caravanning.  (Whether I want to or not.) 

PA180012 Luckily I didn’t have to blow out 70 candles

Ten of us braved horrible wet and windy conditions on Sunday  to gather together for a family lunch at the very popular Quarter Acre Restaurant, a little south of Levin.  Son Michael flew up for the weekend from Christchurch.

PA180001 Michael and his Mum

Daughter Nicky with husband Robert drove down from Kiwitea for the day, together with grand-daughter Emma who was still in the “don’t take my photo” stage.

PA180003 Daughter Nicky and Robert

Then there were the Hastings delegation who travelled down for the weekend celebrations.  My sister Kathleen, niece Lisa and great-niece Kate.  This was the first time they had been to Levin to see our new home since we moved here from Upper Hutt.

PA180006 Kathleen, Lisa and Kate

And our very special guest, my Aunt Dawn.  Dawn is my last remaining aunt, and was my Dad’s baby sister.  We were so pleased she could make it, as we had lost touch for many years and Kathleen managed to track her down when she was working on family genealogy.  Dawn had not met some of the family and was thrilled to finally put faces to names.

PA180007Robin, Dawn and Jenny

We had the serious business of choosing our lunch from the menu, and plates of fancy burgers, salmon, and prawns were placed before us.  All the chatter soon stopped as everyone tucked into their lunch.  A little later the cake arrived, glowing with candles.  (Just as well there were only a few candles.  As those in the same situation will no doubt know, it’s not easy blowing candles out when you no longer have your own teeth!)

PA180015 Cutting the cake

After lunch the trio from Hastings started off on their homeward journey, as they had a fair way to travel.  The remaining cake was packed up for us, and everyone else came back to our home for a cuppa.  After such a big lunch no-one could face another slice of cake.  It was a lovely day, and thanks to all who came and shared it with me. 

But as it’s not quite my actual birthday, the birthday celebrations aren’t over yet.  It will be happening again, and again, over the next couple of weeks with other friends.  After all, 70 is a big number to celebrate, wouldn’t you agree?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Rimutaka Marches

We stopped at the top of the Rimutaka Hill during our recent journey to the Wairarapa to investigate a new sculpture.  There it was, standing proudly, cut out figures of soldiers silhouetted against the blue sky.  This was made to commemorate the Rimutaka Marches of Kiwi soldiers going off to war during 1915-1918.  Soldiers from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force departed from Wairarapa, marched over the Rimutaka Hill to Trentham Camp, with overnight stops at Kaitoke and  Upper Hutt.  35,000 infantrymen undertook the journey, which took 3 days and 2 nights, most of them leaving from Featherston Military Training Camp.   What a long slog it would have been.  The soldiers went on to serve at the Western Front.
 PA140008 At the top of the Rimutaka Hill

The Wairarapa Patriotic Society provided the soldiers with food and drink at the Rimutaka Summit.  The Rimutaka March Re-enactment took place on Sunday 27th September, 2015, and it would have been very moving to see them marching past, in commemoration of those who did the journey a century ago.   250 marchers, many of whom were direct descendants of soldiers that trained at Featherston, took part.  Also taking part was a group of cadets, Police and New Zealand Army personnel of which 30 wore replica WWI uniforms.

PA140010 Wairarapa Patriotic Society hut

We climbed up the newly created walkway to the lookout at the top of the hill, and the views were outstanding. 

PA140011  From the summit, looking north

PA140014Looking south, at the hill road snaking down the hill

Friday, 16 October 2015

Cobblestones Museum

It was a matter of getting up bright and early, climb into the car and head off over the Rimutaka Hill to the Wairarapa on Wednesday.  No mean feat as it was a 2 hour drive  each way.  Les was in charge of the day, and as well as organising a day out with our SLG friends, we were helping him celebrate one of those BIG Birthdays.  At the grand old age of 80, Les is still active and sprightly!  We had a lunch booking in a local cafe at Greytown, and during a break in the noisy conversation, Les was presented with a little token of our esteem for his birthday.

PA140017 Happy 80th Birthday to Les

After lunch Les had arranged a visit to the nearby Cobblestones Early Settlers Village, which had  received quite a big upgrade since we were last there.  It now sports a brand new museum building, with a reception and retail area. 

PA140019 Cobblestones Museum

The large exhibition area allows for larger parts of the collection to be showcased easily and under cover.  One of the volunteers was our guide for our visit and took our group around the facility.  It was interesting to see two waka (canoes) hollowed out from totara logs on display under an old photo showing one of them in use.  These were used by the Maori people to navigate rivers and lakes in South Wairarapa prior to the road and bridge building that came with European settlement. 

PA140028 Two totara waka

After a good look around the museum building, we were let loose outside to explore the large two acre grounds dotted with 20 or so vintage buildings.  Such as a school, cottage hospital, church, fire station, forge, colonial cottage, stables and a woolshed, all giving a glimpse into life from earlier years. 

PA140043 Beautiful grounds behind the museum

PA140037Inside Greytown’s first Methodist Church, erected in 1865

We wandered through the small cottage hospital, peering into the different rooms packed full of all sorts of vintage medical equipment.


First Public Hospital erected in the Wairarapa in 1875

Wonder what it was like to travel on the “Pride of the Valley?”  This coach was built in 1906 in Martinborough and travelled twice daily between Martinborough to Featherston.  We were told it could carry 12 passengers.   I suspect it looks more glamorous than it really was, imagine all that creaking, jerking and jostling around as the coach travelled along stony roads.

PA140044 Pride of the Valley coach.

Hastwell Stable building was erected in 1857.  This is the last of several stables and a blacksmith shop that were erected on this site to service William Hastwell’s coach and mail service.  The site was also used as an overnight stop for the Cobb and Co Wellington to Wairarapa coach service which ran until the railway line opened in 1880.


Hastwell Stable

There was such a lot to see that I’m sure we didn’t do it justice, but it was fascinating to look around the complex.  The beautiful grounds are a credit to the volunteer staff, and it would be lovely to partake of a picnic lunch there sitting  in the sunshine at one of the picnic tables dotted around.  Our day finished with afternoon tea back at Les and Anne’s home, enjoying a slice of his delicious rich fruit birthday cake, baked especially for Les by one of his friends to celebrate his birthday.   Thanks Les, for a great day. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Spring Gardening

Our raised vegetable garden in the back yard is relatively small, but the weeds had taken over making it look rather like a jungle.  But Spring was calling and Robin set to and cleared them all out.  Then he added a big bag of Tui Vegetable Mix and dug it well into the soil.  This is a fertiliser containing all sorts of good things to make the vegetables grow well.  The seedlings were then planted out and we have high hopes for a productive summer garden.  He planted lettuce, silver beet, broccoli, and tomato plants, and sowed a row of beans too.

PA100038 Let’s hope these babies grow well

Yes, we do live in an area with many Market gardens, and  we will continue to support our favourite one – after all, there is lots that we are not growing, such as potatoes and pumpkins.  But there is something quite satisfying about picking a lettuce, or plucking some lovely fresh tomatoes of the vine from your own garden.

Our new flag pole is performing well, but Robin has been flying the Silver Fern flag in support of the All Black Rugby Team, which is taking part in the Rugby World Cup in England.  Our team has got through the pool play unscathed, and the next big game will be the quarter finals.  Go – the All Blacks!

PA100045 Flying the Silver Fern Flag