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

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Slow Sunday

It’s a slow kind of Sunday here.  Waking to a frosty morning kept us snuggled up warm and cozy in bed.  But we don’t really have to get up bright and early on a Sunday, do we? 

Our Sunday morning ritual usually involves a bacon and egg breakfast.  Expertly cooked by the man of the house – it’s his specialty, after all.  And it was delicious, as usual.

The sun is shining, the washing is drying nicely outside in the gentle breeze, and all is well in our part of the world.  I really expected Robin to say he would rather be away in the caravan, but it’s nice to be home occasionally in the weekend.

And to finish off our day, there is a tasty beef bolar roast simmering away in the crock pot for our dinner – slow cooking at it’s best.  It smells lovely, and crock pot cooking is simple indeed and produces wonderful tender beef.

The weather has been amazing lately, and it certainly doesn’t seem like winter.  We’ll make the most of the winter sunshine as Mother Nature is sure to be bringing some bad weather again before we know it.  And in the meantime, we will just enjoy our slow Sunday.  Next week our calendar is packed full, so that will keep us busy.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Another great book for our Travels

With the chance to cash up some loyalty points recently, we decided on a New Zealand book to enhance our travels around our beautiful country.  It arrived speedily via a courier, and here it is, “The Great Kiwi Pub Crawl” and will join the other travel books in our caravan

In the interests of full disclosure, I really have to say that I am not really a pub girl at all – much preferring a latte at a trendy café.  Robin went to his share of pubs in his young single days, and these days we only seem to go to the local establishments to have a meal.  Although both my parents worked in hotels in their later working lives, the pub gene passed me by – but you don’t need alcohol to have a good time, do you?

So why buy a Kiwi pub book – you may well be wondering?  Because the historic pubs featured all have tales to tell, so it might be nice to soak up the atmosphere, find out a little more of the history attached to these watering holes.  We really want to go and see “Ted’s Bottle” at the Waihao Forks Hotel, left behind by Ted d’Auvergne as he went off to war.  And to check out again the tiny Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans – last time we passed by we took our drinks outside at sat in the sunshine.  Robin would no doubt have a beer on the Great Kiwi Pub Crawl, while I would make do with that other great Kiwi drink, L&P, if the pub in question didn’t serve coffee.

We’ll let you know how we get on with The Great Kiwi Pub Crawl – it may well take some time to achieve.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Letterboxes Stand Tall

Once again, there needed to be a bit of letterbox reconstruction in our village.  Made without steel reinforcing rods, these brick letterboxes do not take kindly to knocks from vehicles and seem to fall apart at the slightest nudge.  In fact, it was a taxi which inflicted the latest damage, we believe.

Quite a sorry sight

However, all is well again and the said boxes are now standing tall again.  The brickie came along, ably assisted by his young family.  It was the school holidays, after all, and I guess that taking the kids along too gets them out of Mum’s hair.  Once again, our neighbours will be very pleased to have the letterboxes repaired once more.  This is the second time that these particular boxes had been knocked over.

With a little help from the family

We spent the morning up in Palmy, with an appointment or two to attend, and a long list of odds and ends to purchase.  After our list was just about ticked off, we took ourselves off the the Mall for the final item on the list, to get my reading glasses adjusted.  Then it was time for lunch. But we had forgotten that it was the last day of the school holidays, and were soon reminded of this fact when we tried to find a spare table in the Food Hall.  Seemed the local Mums and Grand Parents were all taking the kiddies out to lunch, and McDonalds was doing a roaring trade.  There were kids everywhere – little ones in push chairs, mid sized ones, and plenty of teens lounging about as well.

Luckily we managed to find a table for two so we could enjoy our lunch too.  And what could be nicer than a coffee and cinnamon donut from Donut King?  Especially at the special Seniors price.  What we especially like at the Donut King is that the coffee is served in a “real” mug, not one of those plastic or cardboard take-away ones.

Enjoying his coffee and cinnamon donuts

We noticed the young kids standing mesmerized in front of the donut machine as they watched them being made.  So once the coast was clear I had to go and check it out too.

That’s how our cinnamon donuts are made

With all our messages done, it was time to head home. There is just a light dusting of snow on the ranges till the rain washes it all away.  Another bout of bad weather is heading  up from the South Island, we have been promised, so it could well be a wet weekend.  Just as well we are not away in the caravan, I feel.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Searching for the Big Blue Bus

It’s around here somewhere – the GPS told us so.  We’re on the right road, and look, there’s some bunting fluttering in the wind over the driveway.  And those signs prove that we have made it to our destination.  The car park was full to overflowing, so we guessed that others had already discovered this Te Horo secret.  We met up with Geoff and Eileen in the car park as they were joining us on this quest.


Walking up the concrete path we rounded a corner and there it was, The Bus Café – a handsome 1964 Bedford.  A queue was snaking out of the bus.  With Eileen settled down to save us an inside  table (they were in short supply, we noticed)  Geoff joined us in the queue and we boarded the bus to make our purchases.

The Bus Café at Te Horo

What to have – that’s always the question.  We decided to have an early lunch, and home made pies, a toasted sandwich and the last of the Eccles Cakes plus coffees were soon delivered to our table.

The friendly ladies at the Bus Café

As we sipped our Flat Whites we were amazed at the amount of customers walking down the path for refreshments.  Some bought take-aways and soon departed while others decided to eat on site.  There was a variety of seating available, some al fresco out side in the fresh air plus extra seating under gazebos or in the wooden cabin.

Lots of room at the Bus Café

Dog parking available for man’s best friend

It started to drizzle but we were snug and cozy inside the Summer House, which also doubles as a show case for various items for sale.  Here we were, sitting amongst the arts and crafts, and the jars of pickles and jams.

Eileen, Robin, Jenny and Geoff

As we were not too far from the beach, of course we wanted to check it out.    The skies were grey, the shingle beach was covered in driftwood, and the the air was bracing.  There was a different view of Kapiti Island, with it’s top obscured under the clouds.

Kapiti Island seen from Otaki Beach

A group of equestrians waited for us to depart before they rode down onto the beach, giving us a cheery wave as we drove past them on the way home.

Waiting for their ride along the beach

As we made our way homewards we reflected that it had taken us a very long time indeed to track down the Bus Café.  I first read about this café in a copy of “NZ Life and Leisure” magazine back in 2014.  The bus had relocated a time or two and it’s thanks to Geoff (and the local newspaper) that we found out where the bus had finally ended up.  After three years we have finally made a visit, and it was a most enjoyable morning.

Friday, 14 July 2017

After the Flood

Talk about the heavens opening, it just never stopped raining yesterday.  It rained, and it rained, and rained some more, and our patio area was under water.  Which does happen, from time to time, so we didn’t worry too much, although this was worse than we had seen before.

Patio area under water

But we did worry when our Caretaker Danny opened our timber gate and walked around to our back yard.  We peeked out the sliding door in the back bedroom to see what was happening – and the whole back yard was under water.  That had never happened before and we were advised to leave the gate open to help it drain away down the path.

That’s Danny checking our back yard

Luckily the water never rose high enough to come inside the house – but another few higher inches may well have made a difference.  But it did enter through Robin’s shed so the wooden floor is saturated, and he had to spend some time lifting items off the floor.  The shed will need drying out and he will have to get advice on how to lift it up onto blocks so that it doesn’t get flooded again.

A steady stream of water was pouring down the path of the next villa along.  That’s a whole lot of water!

Water everywhere

It seems that all this water was coming off the road behind us, which is higher than our properties, and originated from the farm land over the road.  No doubt this was exacerbated  by the heavy rainfall in the Tararua Ranges, which added to the problem.  Various roads around the Horowhenua area were closed during the day due to flooding.

Today the water in our village had drained away, but there is a bit of flooding on other Levin roads.  And to make up for all our stress yesterday, we were rewarded with a glorious sunset tonight.  And we have been promised much nicer weather tomorrow.

Sun set tonight

Thursday, 13 July 2017

SLG Day out at Paekakariki

Wednesday was not a good day to be meeting up with our SLG friends.  But I was in charge of the day, plans had been made, and it was all just too hard to change to another day.  The weather in the South Island was atrocious – roads closed with ice and snow, the Inter Island Ferries were not running, and the polar blast was coming north, we were promised.  And just look how cold it was in our neck of the woods – the temperature dropped down to 4 degrees.  That’s really cold for us!

Brrr – it’s only 4 degrees outside

Six of us met for coffee at The Perching Parrot in Paekakariki - quite a small gathering of our friends this time, the bad weather and a bout of laryngitis depleting our numbers.  But we settled down for coffee and a chat, thankful that we had arrived when we did to claim a table, as the small café was full to overflowing in no time at all.

The showers had stopped so I decided to go ahead with my plan to view the new exhibit as part of the US Marines Memorial at Queen Elizabeth Park.  But the icy wind was blowing relentlessly, numbing our fingers and chapping our faces, so it was a quick visit indeed.

Reconstructed four man hut

This little hut doesn’t look much at all, but was one of many hundreds dotted around the park in three camps during WW11 to accommodate 15,000 US Marines as they trained here before being sent off to do battle in the Pacific.  The huge building project took just seven weeks to build three military camps containing 2728 buildings, 1590 huts, construct all roading,  and erect 3401 tents.  After the war the buildings were dismantled, reused, or just disappeared.  This particular hut spent time as a beach house and was recently gifted to the US Marines Trust.  Using original plans, it was carefully deconstructed and rebuilt by the Waikanae MenzShed to live again as a four man hut. 

Peeping through the window into the hut

With my curiosity satisfied, and with us all absolutely freezing as the vicious wind slapped our faces (ugh, it was horrible) we quickly hopped back into the cars and drove to Fisherman’s Table for lunch.  In the car park I spotted a plaque – just had to go and check that out.  We have dined here many times but I’d never noticed it before.  

The plaque commemorated the Centennial Highway (Ngauranga Gorge to the southern-most end of Paekakariki ) and was officially opened on 4 November 1939. While many of the workers on the road came from the local area, public works camps were also established. The workers at these camps were responsible for the construction of the road alongside the Taupo Swamp, through Pukerua Bay and along the coast to Paekakariki. A one mile long coastal seawall was constructed as part of this project. The workers faced two major challenges; digging down to 20 feet to find solid ground next to the Taupo Swamp and working night and day on the coast to construct the seawall then back filling it to create a platform for the road. This challenging work took three years to complete.

Plaque telling the history of the Centennial Highway

Walking  briskly up the steps to get away from the weather, we presented ourselves a little early for our lunch booking.  No problem at all – with a couple of large groups booked in, I think the staff were pleased to get our group settled before the hordes arrived.

Fisherman's Table Restaurant, Paekakariki

We were soon settled at out table, perused the menu, and ordered our meals.  I took the chance to wander over to the windows to snap a photo or two of the coastline.  Oh look, Kapiti Island is just visible trough the clouds.

Views from the restaurant windows

The waiting staff were so busy with the large groups that I didn’t have the heart to ask them to take a photo of our table.  So instead, we did it ourselves.  We look all nice and warm in our cozy woolen garments.

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Helen, Calvin and Ashley, Yvonne, Jenny and Robin

Our SLG friends always have plenty to talk about and we had a nice long leisurely lunch before we headed out in the cold again.  It was great to catch up with everyone again, and we hope our absent friends are soon feeling much better.  We drove back to Levin and our friends headed back to the Hutt Valley, so this was quite a convenient meeting point.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Saturday Night at Himatangi

Saturday was a big night out and our group of happy campers had booked tables for our evening meal at the Himatangi Beach Cossie Club.  But that was only part of the evening’s entertainment.  The Third Test between the All Blacks and Lions Rugby teams was taking place and after we had finished our meals, our group was split in two.  Most of the men stayed behind in the club to watch the live game on Sky TV.  Val is keen on a good game of rugby too so stayed behind with the blokes.

Keen rugby supporters – but where is Val?

The rest of us ladies walked the short distance back to camp and had our own big night out, viewing the film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.   The description read: “Diana the 'People's Princess' has died in a car accident in Paris. The Queen and her family decide that for the best, they should remain hidden behind the closed doors of Balmoral Castle. The heartbroken public do not understand and request that the Queen comforts her people. This also puts pressure on newly elected Tony Blair, who constantly tries to convince the monarchy to address the public”.

A very interesting film indeed, peppered with lots of news TV clips which we all remembered from this sad time.

The Queen Poster

While the ladies enjoyed watching our film, our spouses were not too happy at all when the Third Test resulted in a draw – instead of an outright win of the series as hoped. 

The camp is a busy one and being so close to the beach the weekenders like to take their quad bikes down to play in the sand.  Even though it is winter, a ride along the beach blows the cobwebs away, and over summer, the camp is a hive of activity as bike after bikes trundles down to the beach.

Off for a ride along the beach

Goodness knows what the camp cat thought when Derek took Honey out for a walk on her lead.  The camp cat likes to sit up high on the fence and watch all the dogs go by, I was told,  and now there was another cat in the motor camp.  Honey didn’t really care at all.  And she liked all the extra attention when manager Alice came to snap her photo to put on the Himatangi  Beach Holiday Park Facebook page.

Derek with Honey

After our last Morning Tea of the weekend we packed up the vans and headed off to our respective homes, a short drive of 40km for us.  The caravan was unpacked, the first load of laundry put in the washing machine, and the caravan slotted into it’s place around the back till the next time we go away.

Back home again

But what’s this?  Look what happened while we were away.  These are the same pair of brick letter boxes that were damaged a while ago –not our one, thank goodness.  Now the brickies need to come back again for another repair job.

More letterbox damage

Sunday, 9 July 2017

It’s a Long Way…….

It’s a long way to Himatangi for our weekend caravan club rally.  Especially as our journey took us via Flat Hills,  Ohakune, Taupo and Rangiwahia before arriving at the camp - a total of 613kms.

Staying at Himatangi Beach Motor Camp

We arrived on Thursday in time for a late lunch, and being the first to arrive, had the pick of the sites.  And why not extend the weekend an extra day if we can?

All alone so far

Geoff and Eileen arrived a little later, followed by Selwyn and Cath.  So that was a total of three vans for the Thursday arrivals  .A pleasant 4zees was spent in Geoff and Eileen’s van, having a good catch up and plenty to talk about.

Three of us arrived on Thursday

Friday morning dawned sunny and breezy and we started off the day with the obligatory Morning Tea.  Once again there was plenty to talk about, such as New Zealand winning the America’s Cup and wondering what changes, if any, would be made to the rules.  Conversation turned to the pros and cons of purchasing a caravan mover to make life easier to getting the van on site at home.  Other members starting trickling into camp in the afternoon and we soon had a good turnout, including new prospective members Dave and Jennie with their dog Mason.  A free day with 4zees taking place at the appropriate time. 

Hello to Mason

We were delighted when Camp Manager delivered a plate of still warm from the oven freshly baked cookies for us all for Saturday Morning Tea.  I caught up with Rueben later in the day and thanked him, and he mentioned that he had been an Army Cook for several years and certainly knew his way around an oven!  Great one Rueben, much appreciated.  Also appreciated was the use of the Events Room for our group to gather in.

Jandals decorating the fence around the ablution block

Later on we  took a drive along the nearby Himatangi Beach, dodging the huge amount of driftwood piled up on the sand.  Tiny wavelets rushed to shore, beach bikes were driving up and down, some people were walking their dogs, while others, like us, were happy to sit and reflect for a while for a while. 

Himatangi Beach

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Rangiwahia in the Morning

The temperatures dropped dramatically overnight at Rangiwahia and painted everything a lighter shade of pale.  Geoff and Eileen were marooned in a sea of white, parked up as they were on the Domain grounds.

On a frosty Thursday morning

The chickens from the house across the road weren’t too bothered by the frost and wandered up and down on the road side looking for an early morning breakfast.  The occasional car and truck roared past and the chickens just calmly stepped out of the way.

The neighborhood chickens

The outside of  Rangiwahia Hall has been decorated with hand painted tiles by the local schoolchildren, depicting early  life in the small village.  Sadly the local school was closed down several years ago and the school buildings removed.


Rangiwahia Hall  and some of the hand painted tiles

We waited till after morning tea for the frost to depart and the morning to warm up before heading on our way.  Our first stop was just a little way down the road, at historic Pemberton Corner.  Six Pemberton brothers were in the first party of settlers who set up camp here in 1886, clearing the bush and several houses and whares were built.  But by 1895 the temporary village had served it’s purpose and later settlers had moved into the newly surveyed town of Rangiwahia, and Pemberton Village eventually became a ghost town.

Pemberton Corner

The road took us through some quite hilly county and we could see the snow topped Ruahine Ranges away in the distance.

Ruahine Ranges

Our route took us past the famous Cross Hills Gardens, then Kimbolton, we waved to the family as we whizzed past Kiwitea, dropping downhill all the time till we eventually arrived at Feilding and used the local dump station.  From there it was on to Himatangi for the next few nights, to meet up with our caravan club buddies for the weekend.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Taking the Manawatu Scenic Route

It was goodbye to DeBretts Taupo and all the Lions fans in rental campers following the rugby games around the country.  They were moving on to Auckland and we were heading south.  It was a beautiful blue sky day, just perfect for a day’s drive.  This is the view from the motor camp just before we headed out.  Mt Ruapehu on the left and Mt Ngauruhoe on the right, seen away in the distance across Lake Taupo.  And it appears that I snapped a bird, didn’t see that through the viewfinder.

Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe as viewed from our camp site

There were road works galore along the busy Desert Road and we were stopped several times by the work gangs.  This group of workers were laying fresh asphalt. 

Just another stop on this busy road

Those two mountains again  – snapped while travelling on the Desert Road

Waiouru is always a good place to break the journey, so we stopped there for lunch.  But what on earth was happening to the National Army Museum building?  Seems that the contractors are building a new entranceway so the museum was closed up tight.

National Army Museum at Waiouru

Heading south again we turned off at Mangaweka to take the Manawatu Scenic Route.  First we crossed the Mangaweka bridge over the Rangitikei River.  This lovely old truss bridge was built way back in 1904.

Over the Rangitikei River

Then we drove along a bluff lined with papa rock cliffs.  This soft sandstone crumbles away in the rain and workmen were busy tidying up the small rockslides.

White papa rock cliffs

Up hill and down dale we go, eventually reaching our destination of Rangiwahia.  Our stop for the night is the Rangiwahia Domain – a great little place to stay, with power and toilets available.

Staying here for the night

Geoff and Eileen parked on the grass inside the Domain, and we opt to stay outside on the hard beside the memorial.  Luckily our power cord was long enough to reach the caravan hot point.

Overnight stay at Rangiwahia Domain

According to the signage, Rangiwahia means “piercing the sky”, or “opening in the heavens”.  This is because the site was a natural clearing of about 100 acres amongst the tall trees of virgin forest when the first settlers arrived.  The pioneers faced the mammoth job of cutting down huge trees, which were used for building houses.  Sheep farming and dairy cattle became established, and the area was also excellent for growing potatoes.  A bustling village was soon established, several hotels, a Post Office, butchery, saddlery and blacksmith, a butter factory, boarding houses, a school and three churches.  Sadly, all long gone now, even the school has closed and the buildings recently removed.

Map of the area

These days, Rangiwahia is a quiet, sleepy little place.  Sheep contentedly munch grass in the paddock behind us, and chickens are cluck-clucking over the road.  It is a tiny speck on the map, in rural heartland,  and we are grateful to have the opportunity to camp overnight at the Domain.