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

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Snow warning


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.


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!


Looking for drivers

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

Clock tower in Waipawa

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.

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.

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. 

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Driving through to Hastings

With an unexpected trip to Hastings coming up we packed the van and set off after an early lunch today.  We drove our usual route over the Pahiatua Track, and drove a rather convoluted way wondering if we had in fact got lost in the rural countryside.  But luckily we reached the Ballance Bridge, crossing the Manawatu River and onto Woodville, so we weren’t lost after all.

Ballance Bridge over the Manawatu River

Then it was up SH2 through farmland and small towns, through rain showers, with a few road works along the way, stopping at Waipukurau, the largest town in the Central Hawke's Bay District.  The old station building houses a quirky little coffee shack, and we certainly needed coffee after several hours on the road.

Stopping at Waipukurau Railway Station

It was obvious as we drove closer to Hastings that there had been quite a lot of heavy rain recently.  These low lying paddocks have water almost swallowing the fences.

Flooding south of Hastings

We pulled into the driveway at one of our favourite CAPs (charges apply parking) at Dick and Elly’s apple orchard.  My goodness, there were vans and buses everywhere – hope there is room for us.  Manager Rose  welcomed us with open arms, as did Dick and Elly, we always get such a friendly reception here.  Dick helped us get on site in the muddy conditions, and commented that his property has had plenty of rain and flooding  too.  Once we were organised, the power plugged in, we went to join the others having Happy Hour under the awning.

Just in time for Happy Hour

There was plenty of chatter going on around the table, and one couple recognised us from our last stay here back in March.  As the light started to fade, it is mid winter after all, we all departed back to our vans to prepare the evening meal.  There was just a little bit of colour in the western sky on the way back to our van.

And the sun sets in Hastings

We are making this trip to support my sister Kathleen and Dennis as their younger daughter died of a brain hemorrhage in Australia last week.  We are joining the family at a  memorial get together on Saturday to remember Jody and celebrate her life.  

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Telly Watching

We watched a brilliant (to us) new show on the History Chanel the other night, called “Secrets of Britain’s Great Cathedrals”.  The first episode told the stories of York Minster, and Canterbury Cathedral.  It was like a trip down memory lane as we had visited both of these famous buildings when we were holidaying in the UK some years ago.  Whenever we visited a castle, church, palace or cathedral, I purchased booklets like these in the adjacent gift shops.  Printed by Pitkin, they were reasonably priced, chock full of beautiful photos, packed with information, and light enough to tuck into my suitcase.  In fact, I ended up mailing a bunch back home  just so I would have room to buy a few more on our travels.   Watching this programme was a good excuse to find my books and refresh my memory on all the history and features of these glorious buildings.


It’s telly watching of a different kind tonight – the All Blacks are playing the French in a series of three tests.  Robin is engrossed in front of the TV so that will keep him quiet for the next couple of hours.  It was a good start with the stirring La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France, followed by the singing of our own one, God Defend New Zealand.  Then the haka – always a sight to see.  The man of the house watched the game on TV with rapt attention, sipping on a Glava or two as the minutes rolled by, the rucks and line-outs evolved and the tries were scored.  And yes, New Zealand won the first rugby test of three, so “Go, the All Blacks”.

All Black haka

Friday, 8 June 2018

Getting the Blokes in

We had a couple of tradesmen come calling the other day, and watched with interest as they arrived and got straight on with the job.  We had ordered an Archgola to be erected over our patio area to give us some much needed shade over the summer months.  These products are custom  made for each property, cut to size in the factory, and the metal components are powder coated to match the house joinery. The fittings are attached with brackets to a heavy board put in place under the soffits, and then the other mountings added.



The two men worked well together, each up and down the ladders numerous times, screwing the pieces together, and then spray-painting over the top of the metal screw heads so that everything blended together.  Then the roofing sheets were added – we had chosen tinted sheets to reduce the glare from the sun.

Nearly done

To complete the job, out came the “Mag Vac”.  This simple device picked up all the tiny slivers of metal which had dropped to the ground.  We were amazed at the quantity collected. 

The mag vac collecting metal shavings

With the job done, the men helped us move our tables back into place.  The job didn’t take too long at all, they workmen arrived at 8.00am, and left at mid day, with a stop for morning tea.
All done.

The Archgola just peeps over the front fence, but isn’t too intrusive, we feel.  And we will get a lot more use in the patio area with all that extra shade in the summer – a sun umbrella in the patio table just doesn’t offer enough shade.  One of our neighbours came down to check it out, and asked the boss man to come and measure up and give him a quote too, so he is very interested as well.

Front of the property

Monday, 4 June 2018

AGM Rally at Manawatu Caravan Club Grounds

There was a good turn out for the AGM rally, with most of us happily  in place on Friday, with the lucky last  motor-home arriving on Saturday morning.

All in a  line for the weekend rally

The all important caravan club AGM took place on Saturday morning, and we were fortunate to have use of the hall to hold our meeting.  Luckily it was fairly cut and dried, with applicants received for all positions prior to the AGM.  The annual subs were set, (no change from the current year) and rally venues for the forthcoming year were discussed.  So that’s it all over for another year.

In the afternoon there was a bit of a working bee to find out why the electrical power was not working on one of our member’s vans.  A couple of blokes got busy checking the electrical fittings, plugs and cords to try and find the answer.  Seems that the fittings on the power cord was faulty and needed an adjustment to get it in top working order so it was taken away to be worked on. 

Robin and Selwyn checking out the problem

We had visitors on Sunday afternoon when daughter Nicky and son-in-law called in on their way home after helping a friend celebrate her 50th birthday in Wellington city.

Robert and Nicky – oh no, Mum’s got the camera out again.

Housie was our evening entertainment on Sunday evening, and several families from the camp came to join our caravan club members to try and make their fortunes.  So the evening was spent “eyes down and looking” while Derek called the numbers, and Selwyn took care of the money received and calculated the pay outs.

Selwyn and Derek checking one of the winning cards

The Manawatu Caravan Club is a little different it is a non touring club.  It is a large campsite that is mostly set up for permanent residents, who have a static caravan and attached awning on their site and come and go in the weekends.  There is  row of powered sites for casual vans, and we booked most of these for our weekend rally.  We had the use of the spacious hall, there is a small kitchen and laundry available, and large ablution blocks with lovely hot free showers. 

Permanent vans and awnings at the club grounds

All the footpaths lead to the large ablution blocks on the top of the rise, and tucked away behind the buildings was this rather quirky toilet cassette dump point.  And by the entry gate I spotted a large Christmas Tree constructed from driftwood, and hung with sea shells.  With a star on top and treaded with lights, it looks like the tree has been in use for the last Christmas or so.

Seen around the camp

Several vans, like us, had arrived a day early, which makes for a nice, relaxed weekend.  And two were staying on after most of us left on Monday, a good idea to avoid the traffic build up on a long weekend.    Luckily our trip home was fairy short and uneventful, the van was unpacked and put back in it’s parking area, all ready for next time.