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

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Leisure Line Owners Meet at Koputaroa

The long awaited Leisure Line get–together at Koputaroa School finally arrived. Thirty eight vans (Kiwi Built with Pride, as the advertisement says) came along, plenty of Leisure Line vans like ours, together with their factory mates Southern Star, Platinum and one Zephyr, a new addition to the range.  The six person organising committee (us two, Roy, Dianne, Don and Sandra) arrived bright and early on Friday morning, ready to welcome the arrivals.

Ready and waiting for the vans to arrive

We had also hired the adjacent Koputaroa Hall for the weekend, which has quite an interesting history.  The original hall was built in 1922 further along Koputaroa Road, but was burnt down in 1937, and rebuilt using donated materials and donated labour.  It was moved to it’s present site in 1997 onto land donated by the Mitchell family.   These days the hall has a busy life, and is in regular use from school and community groups, and hired out for functions, weddings, and groups such as ours.

Koputaroa Hall

The vans started arriving into the school grounds and after settling in, the happy campers made their way into the hall to register for the weekend.  That kept me busy for most of the day, welcoming the visitors, ticking their names off the list, presenting them with their name badges and a copy of the programme for the weekend.

Registration this way

I climbed up to the top of the children’s play area for an elevated view over the school grounds.  There was a sea of white vans as far as the eye could see.

Just look at all those caravans

Everyone met in the hall at 5.00pm for Happy Hour.  Sandra opened the proceeding with the official welcome, and Robin spoke about the necessary house-keeping rules.
Sandra and Robin opening the weekend

Colin and Merilyn Bates, owners of the Leisure Line factory joined us for the weekend and kindly provided some beer and wine (I indulged in a glass of bubbly) for Happy Hour.  Thanks so much, this was most appreciated by us all.

Colin as barman

Hamburgers were provided for the evening meal, and our merry band of helpers were busy cooking up a storm.  Don’t they look lovely in their pinnies!  Meanwhile, a group of ladies were busy in the kitchen preparing the “fixings” to go with the hamburgers.  Buns were split and buttered, tomatoes were sliced, lettuce was washed, and cheese slices were arranged just so.  Mustn't forget the beetroot and pineapple slices, the tomato sauce and mustard, and we were set to go.  Everything was laid out on the large tables and the guests made their hamburger to suit themselves.  Later in the evening we had a game in the hall involving three special dice and a few coins each, with the eventual winner taking all.  It was a load of laughs.

Ross, Robin and Roy, on hamburger duty.

It was another fine and sunny day on Saturday, with a fair bit of inter-vanning going on.  We may all have the same brand, but they come in different models and layouts, and it was a chance to get new ideas and inspiration.  Colin and Merilyn had brought down a brand new van for people to check out, and Andrew from local agent Anza had three vans on display.

Brand new van to check out

The Leisure Line Question and Answer Session was well attended in the hall.  Colin spoke about tyre pressures, water tanks, towing problems and the  all important annual maintenance service, amongst other things.  All very helpful advice, and he made himself available throughout the weekend to discuss individual problems with the caravan owners.  Later in the day I looked out the window to see a group of interested blokes checking draw-bar weights.  That took a while as they looked, pondered and discussed things.

That looks interesting

Don was the man in charge of the rotisserie as he carefully kept an eye on the large roll of hogget which was slowly turning.  This was to be part of our evening meal and smelt delicious.

Don is helping to cook dinner

Our evening meal on Saturday night was catered, with the committee providing the hot hogget roll and a glazed ham, and the caterer supplying everything else.  Everyone dressed in their glad rags and we enjoyed the seemingly endless platters of nibbles which were passed around, prior to the main course.   Followed by dessert, so it certainly was a scrumptious meal.


Val and Bill, Jenny and Robin

Our evening entertainment was provided by Geoff and Teresa of Double Blend, singing all those songs that we remember from our younger days.  The type of songs that we could sing along with, knowing all the words.


It wasn’t long before people were up on the dance floor, or sitting down at the tables tapping their toes in time to the music and singing along.

Having fun on the dance floor

The rain came down on Saturday night and hung about for a while on Sunday morning.  But that didn’t stop the team from firing up the BBQs again for the Leisure Line sponsored breakfast.  The boys cooked sausages, bacon and hash browns on the BBQs, while we ladies in the kitchen took care of a million fried eggs, or so it seemed, a huge pot each of spaghetti and baked beans and copious quantities of toast. 

Sunday morning breakfast

Then the weekend was over, thanks were given and people slowly packed up and went on their way.  The hall was cleared, the kitchen was cleaned, and we needed help dismantling our free standing gazebo which was in use over the BBQs.  This folds up just like an umbrella and is certainly not a job to deal with single handed, with one person needed on each leg to walk together into the centre.

Dismantling the gazebo

A total of thirty eight vans attended, some close by from the local towns of Levin, Foxton, and Pamerston North, the furthest away coming from far flung Whangarei, with the rest from all places in-between.  It was great to meet up with friends from out of town, and everyone was so friendly and mixed well.  It was a great weekend, and it was announced that next year’s Leisure Line Owners get-together will be going ahead at Napier, so that is great news. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Lest We Forget

Today we celebrate Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia, remembering all those who fought in the wars.  Some people go to memorial Services, while others stay quietly at home, watch some of the many programmes about Anzac Day on TV, and remember those who didn’t return home. 


Our flags and poppy at home

This is the fourth stanza from Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen. Referred to as the Ode of Remembrance, it was first published in The Times of London in September 1914 and has been incorporated into the ritual of remembrance in many countries.

Ode of Remembrance

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

That wasn’t too bad

The pair of us have both been done for our annual flu jabs.  Just a little prick, to tell the truth we hardly felt it, so it wasn’t too bad at all.  The nurse did an excellent job.

Image result for picture of nurse

Influenza is a virus that spreads quickly from person to person. Symptoms include fever, chills, aches, runny nose, a cough and stomach upset. In temperate climates such as New Zealand’s, people are more likely to get the flu in winter. Some people get very sick – influenza causes deaths every year.  Here in New Zealand the Department of Health funds the vaccine free for oldies like us (65 years and over).  It is also made available to those who are pregnant, or who have a serious medical condition.
In our latter working years Robin’s workplace provided free flu jabs to the workers, while mine were subsidized.  So now we have reached OAP status, we are more than happy to carry on with this free service.  After all, good health means more caravan trips away!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Caravan Rally at Oroua Downs

It was a lazy day on Friday, with no particular rush to get away to our weekend rally.  Not that we are going very far, about 30km up SH1 to Oroua Downs School. (Meaning of place name - Ō: place of; roua: dredging for shellfish.)  Being a school day, we could not arrive till till 3.30ish to allow the children time to depart the grounds.


Our club was hosting a Combined Rally, with caravan friends joining us from the Wairarapa, Wainuiomata and Wellington Clubs, a total of 19 vans on site.   The weather for the weekend was fine, but with quite a chilly wind blowing – Autumn has definitely arrived. 

We were instructed to gather in the hall on Friday evening with a pen and reading glasses, looked like there was to be another of those intelligent tests.  And there was – the first competition listed abbreviations from the Oxford Dictionary and we had to guess what they meant.  At first glance it seemed quite easy but as we found out it was not so.  I thought the letter K was an abbreviation for kilometre, or as a second guess, K for 1000.  Both wrong, in this case, the Oxford Dictionary tells us it is K for King.  Eileen won this competition hands down. 

And for the second one we were given several pages printed with logos.  Some were rather obscure, and some, although we knew them we just couldn't think of the business.  Robin blitzed through the many car logos, and I managed several more, so with out joint effort we did reasonably well.  Companies spend vast sums trying to get their identifying logo “just right” so it is easily identifiable, such as Nike’s big tick, but others were much harder to guess.


The programme for Saturday was fairly busy, and after lunch we pooled cars for our eagerly awaited Cream Horn trip to Viv’s Kitchen in Sanson.   Our large group queued up to place their orders and then enjoyed afternoon tea in the gazebo.


The large cream horns are not easy to eat with any degree of finesse, usually we get cream and icing sugar everywhere.  But someone decided if they were sliced right down the middle, they would be much easier to handle.  Our large group was served very efficiently, well done to the staff dealing with all those  unruly OAPs.

My cream horn, sliced in half

Several changes have been made to Viv’s Kitchen since our last visit, and I went to check out the new addition of the Ice Cream Parlour in the grounds.  Perhaps not much call now the weather is getting chilly, but it was sure to be very popular over the hot summer months.

Ice Cream Parlour

On the drive back to the school we stopped at Sanson Domain to check out the blokarts whizzing around the  new all-weather blokarting track which opened in 2015.  The track is over 8000 square metres and is only the second purpose-built, all-weather track in the country available to the public.  A blokart is a class of land yacht, invented and made in New Zealand, the three-wheeled cart and sail are propelled along by wind.

Blokarts at Sanson Domain

There was a film evening on Saturday night with Robin presenting a slide show of our recent South Island holiday, emphasizing the many and varied places available to stay, from NZMCA parks, park over properties, A&P Showgrounds, Race Courses, and the occasional motor camp.  We are so lucky to have so many reasonably priced options available to us throughout the country.  Many thanks to Selwyn for the use of his projector.

Robin and Selwyn setting up for the slide show

This was followed by some slides from prospective members Jim and Kay’s recent trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine.   Their slides showed the abandoned buildings from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and how the area has become overgrown in 30 short years, with Mother Nature taking over buildings, covering up roads,  with the forest complete with packs of wolves creeping ever closer to the abandoned city.  It must have been quite an eerie place to visit.

Most of us stayed on for lunch on Sunday, before packing up and heading off to our respective homes.  It was a lovely weekend, and great to catch up with friends from the other clubs who we only see now and again.  On our drive back home we noticed that most of the recent snowfall had disappeared from the Tararua Mountain Range, with just a light covering still in place.

Just a sprinkling of snow left

Friday, 13 April 2018

All Set to Go

Another weekend – another caravan club rally.  We are all set to go, with two new tyres on the left hand side of the caravan.  Robin thought they were just a bit worn, but closer inspection showed that they really needed replacing.  It seems that the left hand tyres get more wear as they run on the road edge – that’s what we were told, anyway.

Tyres removed, up on jacks, with the spare put on in case of slippage

And the 4WD is more than ready for a weekend away.  With a service, new brake shoes, and a WOF, we will be ready to roll again.  Not that we are going very far, about 30km up SH1 to Oroura Downs.  Our Caravan Club is hosting a Combined Rally,  so our numbers will be expanded with members of other caravan clubs travelling to join us for the weekend.  It should be fun, catching up with fellow campers we haven’t seen in a while.

With the way the weather has been behaving over the last couple of days, we will have to pack our winter woollies! 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Secrets of Mona Lisa

We all know the painting of Mona Lisa, possibly one of the most recognised paintings in the world,  Mona Lisa with that enigmatic smile.  Yesterday Helen took our Super Leisure Group (SLG)  to the Expressions Gallery in Upper Hutt to discover the “Secrets of Mona Lisa”.  Just a small group this time, with some being unwell, and others away on holiday.


The exhibition centres around photos of the famous painting taken by French engineer Pascal Cotte,  founder of Lumiere Technology.  He scanned the painting with a 240-megapixel Multi-spectral Imaging Camera he invented, which uses 13 wavelengths from ultraviolet light to infrared. The resulting images peel away centuries of varnish and other alterations, shedding light on how the artist brought the painted figure to life and how she appeared to da Vinci and his contemporaries.   The infrared images also revealed da Vinci's preparatory drawings that lie behind layers of varnish and paint.  "If you look at the left hand you see the first position of the finger, and he changed his mind for another position," Cotte said. "Even Leonardo da Vinci had hesitation."

Photo courtesy of Expressions

All very technical, but very interesting, as we looked at a series of photos as the painting is now, with the varnish removed, and how it would have looked way back in the 1500s when freshly painted.

We asked one of the staff to take our photo outside the gallery doors

For lunch we drove down to the Naenae Bowling Club, a magnificent new building indeed. The new building incorporates three outdoor bowling greens, a state-of the-art indoor stadium, a snooker room, bistro, TAB and gaming room.   No wonder the bistro was full, with lunch at only $10 with free dessert, it was a bargain indeed.  Most of us had the delicious roast pork for lunch, with Helen enjoying her meal of fried fish and salad.  With ice-cream sundaes to follow, plus coffee, it certainly was a great meal.  The weather was freezing cold and pouring with rain, so no photos taken.

Then it was back to Helen and Calvin’s home for afternoon tea and to do the draw for the following year. Just look at these gorgeous begonias all out in flower on the covered deck.  You can tell they have green fingers in this household.

Beautiful begonias

We all took a slip of paper out of the container, which had the name of our month each to organise an outing for the group.  We will have to put our thinking caps on again – not as hard as it sounds, as we all seem to come up with something interesting for the group to do. 

With 100km drive to get back home, we got on our way, driving through the showers of rain, to see a pretty rainbow in front of us.


No wonder the weather had been so cold, just look what was awaiting us on the hills at home.  That’s quite a covering of snow.

Brrr, that looks cold

Monday, 9 April 2018

Big Rigs around Town

What a surprise – we drove through to Palmerston North for Sunday lunch and a little shopping and found the city taken over by a multitude of bright, shiny Big Rigs.  All driving around, tooting their horns, and seemed to be having a high old time.  And the Square was swarming with people, we needed to see what was going on.

Manawatu Professionals Big Rigs 2018

It was the Biannual Professionals Big Rigs event a fundraiser  supporting Teenage and Child Cancer, with all money raised staying within the Manawatu Region.  A very good cause indeed.  With the very popular truck rides for $2.00 per person there was also plenty of entertainment in the square with static displays, raffles and live auction.  A convoy of over 100 trucks, followed by a Helipro helicopter, drove through the city to begin the day yesterday.  Manawatu children receiving treatment for cancer were treated to a ride-along and then a haka on arrival.  It was very well organised indeed, people were loaded on to the big rigs on one side of the square, and offloaded on the other side.  There were sturdy metal platforms to get everyone up and down safely.  And those trucks who already had their share of passengers went on their way.

Loading up.

And yes, we had a turn too, queuing up in line and putting our $2 coins in the bucket.  Our truck looked rather flash with a buttoned leather interior.  The young driver did admit that it felt strange to be driving without his trailer unit behind, as all the trucks were.  We were slowly driven around the circuit, with many toots along the way.  What fun – although as Robin is a former truck driver, I probably enjoyed it more than him.


Our ride in the big rig

There were plenty of displays to check out, such as these stock cars, and a multitude of trucks lined up.  There were quick fire raffles taking place, and plenty of stalls selling drinks, hot dogs, all sorts of refreshments.



The display showing just how big the blind spot is in front of these big rigs was quite sobering. 


Showing the blind spot in front of a big rig

Over at the New Zealand Army display, throngs of kids poured over the inside and outside of the Light-Armoured Vehicle.  Lance Corporal Peter Brown of the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles said kids often saw the vehicles on Palmerston North roads but to get inside them was an experience many hadn't had.

Light Armoured Vehicle

There was a lot of interest when the Air Force helicopter was ready to depart.   The public had to stand well clear of the area as the air turbulence was quite fierce.   One of the volunteers told us that there was an awful lot of hoops to jump through to get permission for the helicopter to fly over, and land in the city centre.  The noise was extremely loud as the rotors spun faster and faster, no wonder the crew all wear ear protectors.  Then it lifted straight up, up, and away, to return to RNZAF Base Ohakea.


On the way back to Ohakea

With an estimated 15,000 people attending the event, the organisors can be assured of a successful fund raising day for the Manawatu Child Cancer Foundation.  (We believe a sum of $40,000 has been raised, so well done to everyone involved.)  The truckies are to be commended for donating their day and bringing along their shiny trucks for such a good cause.  And it wasn’t just the kids who loved their rides around town, we did too.