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

Monday, 16 July 2018

A New Arrival

After months of waiting it was time to collect our new kitten Gemma yesterday.  She is not too sure what’s happening in her life just now – where are her brothers and sisters and her Mum?  I’m sure she will settle down in a day or so, and stop hiding in corners and under the bed!  We are giving her space to find her feet, after all, it is a big change for her.

We were encouraged to come and visit the kittens over the last month or so.  The litter of five certainly grew between visits.

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Yesterday was her first day alone in a strange place.  But she is slowly getting braver, comes out from under the bed when she is called, and has spent some time this morning playing in her tunnel.  Hunger has sent her to polish off her first meal with us, and she has found and used her dirt box. What a clever kitten!  I’m sure that in a few more days she will be much more settled.

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Our new seal point Birman kitten, Gemma

Saturday, 14 July 2018

A Little Drainage Work

We have been lucky to have our friendly neighbour Bruce help out on some drainage over the last few weeks. Bruce likes to keep busy, he tells us, and he has been supervising and lending his expertise to do the various stages of this job.  Bags of Ready Mix  concrete were involved, and these had to be kept safely under cover in the shed, until needed.

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There were two small jobs which needed doing, one was to lay a concrete pad for the emergency water tank we recently purchased.  The rainfall off our Archgola will run through the drainpipe to fill the water tank.  But first we needed a drainage system to take any excess water away.  A length of gutter and channel was to be inserted along the edge of the concrete patio to do this job.  Out came the spades,and the boys got to work digging the small trench.

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Then they had to work out how to join the this into our new existing drain.  First there was some concrete which needed cutting, and luckily Bruce had his very own concrete cutting blade.  With a hiss and a roar, and plenty of concrete dust, it soon made short work of this task.

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Work stopped for a few days as Robin had to go and purchase some fittings to take drainage from the new gutter into the drain.  I thought that might be a big problem, but obviously male minds work better than mine, the bit and pieces were soon all joined up and that part of  the job was completed. 

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Stage two of the job had to wait for the ground to dry out after some rather heavy rain, which was to lay a small concrete pad under our water tank.    Out came the concrete and it was mixed the old way, by hand.  Bruce commented that it was great to have an apprentice on the job to help with the heavy jobs.

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With the concrete pad laid, Bruce then concreted around the drain, working with the tiniest trowel I had seen.  One he made himself, he told us. 

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Once the concreting was complete, the barrow and tools washed and clean, they both sat down for a well earned rest.  Thanks so much Bruce, we really appreciate your help.

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The next job, Bruce tells us, is to make a wooden frame for the hold the water tank, then plumb it in to the downpipe.  Knowing Bruce, he will be here again soon, whistling merrily as he arrives with all his tools, ready and eager to get on with the job.  He likes to keep busy, he tells us, and we certainly appreciate his help.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

“Close to Home” Caravan Rally

With just a km or so to drive to our rally destination for the weekend, we arrived at the Levin Kiwi Holiday Park in no time at all.  Managers Debbie and Repi warmly welcomed us back, although it had been a while since our previous visit, they certainly remembered us.  The ground was quite wet and slushy and sadly it continued to rain during the weekend, but we certainly didn’t let the precipitation dampen our spirits.

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Early arrivals

Things had certainly been happening at the camp with quite a bit of work taking place. The large central grassy area had been dug up, with new cabins and tourist flats being added to increase the accommodation options at the camp.

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Work being done at the camp

Friday evenings are usually casual get-togethers at a rally weekend.  We were fortunate to have the use of the small hall, and met to socialise and relate our usual Friday night jokes.  The pretty sunset coloured the sky just long enough for me to take a few snaps, before fading away into darkness.

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Sun set at the motor camp

This sight rather took my fancy the following morning, a long row of sparrows lined up on a caravan roof.  Wonder if they were waiting for a hand out for breakfast?

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Sparrows on top of the van

On Saturday afternoon our planned drive our for coffee was delayed a little by a minor catastrophe – Rally Family Don and Pamela’s car  had a flattie.  Or as one of our blokes commented, “all the air had gone to the top”.  Luckily several of our club members were only too willing to help Don out and the question was, “how many men does it take to change a tyre?”  Several it seems, with a couple looking on at the sidelines to make sure the job is done correctly, plus another interested party (me) snapping a few photos.

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Helping to change Don’s tyre

Once this little job was accomplished we car pooled and drove up to Murrayfield Café.  With orders taken we sat down to enjoy our coffees and cake, with several up our end of the table deciding to indulge in a milkshake instead. 

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Afternoon Tea at Murrayfield’s Café

Don and Pamela had organised a couple of brain teasers in the hall on Saturday evening.  Everyone was asked to bring a baby or toddler photo of themselves, and most remembered, although some admitted to not having any early photos.  The photos were numbered and laid out on a table, and then we had to guess who was who, not an easy task at all.

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Just who are these youngsters?

Earlier in the day we had been invited to bring in something unusual from our vans, to see if the items could be easily identified.  There was much head scratching going on as these items were closely inspected, picked up and turned over.  Some were relatively easy for us to make an inspired guess, while others kept their secret till the owner disclosed what it was and what it was used for.

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Checking out the mystery items.

Our weekend concluded after morning tea on Sunday, and we all packed up and went on our way.  With all the wet weather and mud and puddles underfoot, there was no point in staying over for lunch as we often do on nicer days.  Wet weather or not, it was still a great weekend, it’s always nice to get away and meet up with our caravan club friends.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

A busy week

It’s been a busy old week, and we have to wonder where the days go.  Meetings and appointments for us both, and Menz Shed plus a Health Shuttle drive for the man on the house soon makes the week roll by.   The weather has been lovely and clear mostly this week, warming us nicely during the day, but rather chilly once the sun goes down. 

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We are off to a caravan rally tomorrow, not too far to go at all.  But as we caravan club members say, it doesn't matter how close to home the rally is, its all about the company we meet with.  So true.  Being one of the closest to the rally site, I do hope we don’t arrive last!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Mid Winter in Paradise

It may well be mid winter here in New Zealand, but today it could pass for Spring.  The skies are blue, the birds are chirping, and the weather is warm and calm.  Jack Frost has been calling overnight lately and  turning the grass and the tops of cars parked outside white, but that’s a small price to pay for lovely sunny days.

Pretty little silvereye birds have been visiting, enjoying the mandarins I have been putting out on the feeder for them.  When we were growing up, we knew these birds as wax eyes.

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Silvereye having breakfast

There’s a dusting of snow on the Tararua Ranges, reminding us that although it may well be fine and sunny, the cold winter weather is still to come.  Here in New Zealand our coldest winter months are usually July and August.  So we will enjoy these calm sunny days while we can.

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Tararua Ranges

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Wintery Wairarapa

It was the day to meet up with our SLG friends, and Les had arranged a get-together for us.  Les and Anne live “over the hill” in Featherston, one of the small Wairarapa towns.  We had something to attend to in Palmerston North, so went the long way round over the Pahiatua Track.  It’s not really a track, but a minor road to the Wairarapa, heavily in use now that the Manawatu Gorge has been closed indefinitely, due to massive slips.  It was a cold day, and we left to warnings of bad weather and snow fall on the Rimutaka Hill, probably just in time for our return journey.

We were driving along, minding our business, when we came to a sign, “Stock on the Road”.  As we slowed down we were directed to the other side of the road, and asked to slowly drive past an elderly farmer with several cows.  He was obviously taking them to a paddock across the road.

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Stock on the road

We could see the sun glinting on the snow on top of the Wairarapa side of the Tararua Ranges.  Of course, home in Levin, we view this mountain range from the other side.

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The “other” side of the Tararua Ranges

Meeting up at Les and Anne’s home for a most welcome cuppa, we caught up with all the news from our friends.  There is always plenty to talk about, one of our group had recently had a family holiday in UK so she was bubbling over with news about her adventure.  We then departed to a recently opened local café for lunch.  There was plenty of interesting choices, and the prices were very reasonably priced.  And as a bonus, Anne and Les’s grand-daughter was working in the café too.  She expertly served us, made the coffee and then took charge of several cameras to take photos.


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SLG lunching in the café

Across the road from the café  is the sculpture Wind Grass, created by Konstantin Dimopoulos.  Since 2001, when Pacific Grass was installed near Wellington airport, Dimopoulos has made many similar works. Seven of these ‘grass’ sculptures have been installed in New Zealand and fifteen overseas. Featherston’s Wind-grass is made up of a series of closely spaced, brown topped, yellow rods made of a carbon fibre composite material, between 6-8m high.  Featherston is known to be very windy, with the rods are most often moving.

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Wind Grass in Featherston

Returning to our hosts home, Trish cut a banana cake she had brought along to share for her birthday – we all took a slice home to have for supper as we were too full after our tasty lunches.  Thanks Trish.  Then it was time to get moving, after a quick check on the NZTA website to make sure that the Rimutaka Hill road hadn’t been closed with a heavy snowfall while we were eating our lunches.  The neon sign at the bottom of the hill told us that snow was expected.

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Snow warning

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It looks a bit murky up there

There were a few minor snow flurries as we climbed to the top of the hill, but nothing heavy enough to settle.  Just as well we headed for home early, as at the top of the hill we noticed several maintenance trucks ready to get to work if the road needed clearing later on.

Once over the Haywards Hill and onto SH1 heading home up the Kapiti Coast, it was like stepping into another world.  The roads were dry, the sun was shining, and there was not a cloud in the sky.  And look, here’s Kapiti Island again, looking splendid.  I often tell myself I won’t be taking and more photos of this island, but I just can’t help myself, as it looks so different each time we drive by.

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Kapiti Island again

We followed a large truck for many miles, as the sky was getting darker, intrigued by this large sign.  Anyone need a job?  No cowboys need apply!

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Looking for drivers

As the sun was setting in the west, it painted the clouds gold – so pretty.

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Pretty sunset seen on the drive home

Almost home now, and this is what greeted us, the Levin side of the Taraua Ranges we saw earlier.   Nice to see that others fly the New Zealand flag too.  We were pleased to be home, as it had been a long day, driving 300km on our round trip.

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Almost home

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Farmers Market

We braved the heavy rain and cold conditions to visit the Kapiti Farmers Market in Otaki – it has definitely turned into rain jacket weather, and a wooly hat was needed for those of us who don’t have much hair on top of their heads.  We were told that this market is a fairly new venture, so still has lots of room to grow.

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Luckily, by the time we had arrived, the rain had stopped, and most of the sellers had sensibly relocated indoors.  The market was held in the Otaki Race Course grounds, dotted with many lovely mature trees.

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I’m always rather taken with tasty treats, so we gravitated to the cheese stall.  After several tastings we had made our choices, purchasing one of the cute little round smoked cheeses at the back, and a piece of blue vein cheese, so yummy.  The owners told us that the make the baby smoked cheeses themselves, and all the other large rounds are imported from Italy.

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Lots of lovely cheeses here

I love cheese and Robin loves honey, so he just had to purchase some local honey from the next stand – that will keep him happy.  The particular honey he purchased is from hives on Kapiti Island - one of the largest accessible island bird sanctuaries in New Zealand, set in one of the nation’s most valuable nature reserves.

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At the honey stand

One of the local market gardeners had a stand, very handy as I needed some more fresh veggies.  With our shopping done we stopped off on the way home to our friends home, phoning through first to ensure that they were home and that the coffee was on.  Thanks very much,  hot coffee was just what we needed on such a chilly morning.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Homeward Bound

We packed up on Sunday morning, and said our goodbyes to the Dick and Elly, the camp owners.  Dick had kindly brought us some freshly picked mandarins from his tree, which were gratefully accepted. Before departing, we moved closer to the tap to replenish our water tank, parking beside the large 5th Wheeler which Dick is working on before heading off on a trip.  We always enjoy staying here, and are sure to be back again before too long.

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Topping up the water tank

Travelling southwards through central Hawkes bay, we stopped off at Waipawa, the oldest inland town in Hawke’s Bay, to use the dump station.  Waipawa was founded on the banks of the Waipawa River by runholder Frederick Abbott in 1860. The town, originally named Abbottsford, was located next to a ford in the river. Settlers preferred its Māori name, Waipawa.  The tall clock tower was made as a war memorial and was unveiled on July 1922 by Governor General Lord Jellicoe to remember those men who died in the First World War.

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Clock tower in Waipawa

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Plenty of stock along the way

Our lunch stop was at Woodville, parked alongside the attractive Fountaine Square.  Eating our chicken sandwiches in the van, we noticed a steady stream of cars stopping at the very handy adjacent ablution block.

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Lunch stop at Woodville

On our way again, we whizzed past the “world famous in New Zealand” Tui Brewery tower at Mangtainoka.  For those who don’t know, Tui beer is the beer of choice for good keen Kiwi blokes, and is supposedly made here, so the adverts tell us, by a bevy of beauties in skimpy clothes!  But you can’t believe everything you see on TV.

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Tui Brewery Tower

We turned right at Pahiatua township, over the interesting concrete arched bridge  to start our trip over the Tararua Ranges on the Pahiatua Track. 

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Pahiatua Bridge

The blue skies had disappeared, it was getting cold and windy, and the weather was trying it’s best to rain with dark clouds gathering overhead.  But all Mother Nature could conjure up was a little drizzle here and there along the way.  Thank goodness for that, there is nothing worse than unpacking the van in the rain, so we were safe from that indignity.  I’m always amazed at just how quickly we can unpack the van when we return home, compared to the time it takes to pack up for a trip away.  With the fridge and bathroom cleaned, the van put back into it’s space, the laundry bag taken indoors, we are all ready for the next trip away.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Seen around Hastings

We are currently staying at a CAP (cost applicable parking) at an apple orchard, where we were lucky to find a space as apple picking is still in full swing.    Most of the sites  are taken with people staying here in their caravans and motor-homes who have seasonal work at the nearby packing houses.  Boxes of apples are waiting to be collected and taken to the processing centre.

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We are tucked away in front of the managers Ross and Rose’s site, making sure they still had a good line of sight over the grounds to look out for any visitors or new arrivals.  They have a playful new puppy now, so that makes two fluffy white Bichons and a big grey and white cat to keep them company.  The grounds are still rather wet after a lot of rain.

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Staying at the apple orchard

It seems that no matter how often you visit a region, there is always something new to see.   Such as the interesting range of sculpture we spotted as we were driving out to Havelock North.  What was that we just passed, we wondered, so quickly turned the car around to have another look.  The little house had been made out of concrete blocks placed one on top of another, and various bits of rusty metal sculptures were dotted around the paddock.

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Sculptures in the country

We were on our way to Birdwoods Sweet Shop, and what a lovely little place it was.  Robin had been lamenting to a couple of campers about how hard to was to buy blackball sweets these days.  You must go to Birdwoods, he was told, must admit that we had never heard of this establishment before.  Just look at all those temptations in the glass jars.  We purchased blackballs, acid drops and raspberry drops.

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Birdwoods Sweet Shop

Birdwoods is a whole lot more than the sweet shop, we soon discovered.  There is a gallery and café housed  in the relocated  church hall from St Peter's in Waipawa built in 1894. The café was buzzing with customers and the food looked delicious so we will be returning to try it out on our next visit up this way.  And out the back was an amazing sculpture garden which we were invited to wander around at our leisure.  Many of the pieces had an African flavour.

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Giraffe, herons and crocodile

The white ducks at the far end of the pond were keeping well away from the hippo lurking in the water.

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Ducks and the lonely hippo

It wasn’t all African art, these colourful birds were made by a local potter and looked so pretty sitting there in a row.

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Birds in a row

This is such a lovely establishment, and there is no doubt we will be returning.  After all, and we will need some more blackballs and acid drops next time we visit Hastings.  Plus a visit to the café too, I’m sure.