Sunday, 4 February 2018

The weather has broken

the heat has moderated and I am feeling human again. I have energy, I have a sweet temper, I am a lovely human being again! Yay!!!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Too hot, then far too hot ...

I think it's nearly a month since I posted on my blog. I have often thought about doing so, and have composed posts in my head, but frankly I have been so HOT and UNCOMFORTABLE since early January that I have not been able to get myself into gear to put fingers to keyboard to start.

I am only able to do so now because I have finally resorted to wearing a wet long-sleeved shirt that feels deliciously cool against my skin.

Now those of you who live in hot climes are probably well used to temperatures in the high 20s. I however am metabolically unable to cope with the heat. I can last outside for about 10 minutes before my most murderous impulses start coming to the fore. Seriously, if David is found at the bottom of a set of steps with footprints in his back - get me arrested at once, cos it will have been me.

Fortunately, I am not quite at that point but I am very short tempered in the heat. So I have been lying down lots, with all windows and doors open trying to organise a breeze ... But it's not happening.

I think we are into week 4 of hot hot hot weather and I am over it big time. And if the UK summer is like this in the coming boating season, I will be changing flights and coming home to winter - no question.

I now realise why we never do stopovers on our flights to and from the northern hemisphere - every available stop off point** is near the equator and that is a part of the world that is, by definition, too warm.

** We don't do stopovers in the US - too hot politically and too stressful even just in transit.

OK, rant over for the moment - it's too hot to continue. Time for a lie down in my wet shirt.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

And a new year begins ...

But before it did begin, we headed off to help see it in. As we now have the Mote, we don't have to travel all the way in one hit. So we stopped overnight with Pete and Warren in Carterton and slept in the Mote out on their circular driveway.
Hiding under that platter of salad is the corned beef that I cooked and took over. I think Pete made the sauerkraut, and the carrot and zucchini salad with honey and mustard dressing was yummy - never had it before but made it the night before last. Given I don't like zucchini, it is a good way to eat them!
The following day we stopped off for a nostalgia trip for David in Masterton to visit Masterton Intermediate, where David's dad, John, was principal for a number of years. He was in inspirational teacher, both to the kids and to teachers. Education was to encompass the whole child with as many rich and varied experiences as the school could provide. So the academic expectations were high, and every kid had to play a summer sport and a winter sport (and lots were on offer), every kid had to learn to play a musical instrument, and they all had to participate in other non-classroom activities - working on the school farm, in the school vineyard, in the school garden, in the trout hatchery, in the school forestry block... No wonder many kids look back on it as the best time they had in their school life.

While we wandered around, the school caretaker was there mowing the lawns, so he came over to chat. Mike spoke about how the school is now and it was very heartening to hear that most of John's initiatives were still going strong.

What was also great to hear was how the current principal, the deputy and the assistant are out in the playground every playtime and lunchtime, organising and playing games with the kids - no opportunities for clique-y groups to start picking on others and bullying, no opportunity to get up to mischief. Just lots of fun with adults participating.
There are 2 of these notices on end walls of classroom blocks - I'd like to see more of this kind of thing, with the active engaged participation of senior teachers in all schools. I am sure it would make a difference to kids' attitudes and behaviour.
The school has a large number of trees that were planted during John's time - and they are now rather large! Some which were planted in front of a classroom block, have had to be removed, but have been replaced by substantial picnic table/bench seat sets. Mike told us that a young builder who has been a bit naughty and sentenced to some community service will be building 7 more to be placed around the school yard ... Talk about community involvement!
The small tree David is standing beside (not the imposing one behind it) is the pear tree John planted at the 50th jubilee of the school, back in 2000, I think. My hunch is that the large one was planted during John's reign as principal, back in the 70's or 80's.
It was lovely for David to spend some time there, especially as Mike Clarke came over to chat. John suffered from Alzheimer's in his last few years and after he died, David spent much of his time with his mum, focusing on her for her last few years. So he hasn't really taken or had the time to think back about how his dad was before the Alzheimer's struck.

John was very involved in community affairs in Masterton; he'd been on the Trust Lands Trust, and the Licensing Trust, he was Deputy Mayor for some time and on the council for longer. As a mark of respect for his service, to education and to the larger community, the council named a street after him. It is in a little new housing area called Casel Mews. The only street in the shape of a cross (unfortunate ...) is called John McDonald Mews Drive.

Casel Mews with John McDonald Mews Drive - and he did have Masterton at his heart.
One of the very new houses - no garden yet and no trees! If John was alive, he'd have been around there donating them and helping them plant them - or at least telling them how to do it ...

And two more very new houses with the proud son ...

Lunch was with Warren and Pete at Addiction Cafe in Eketahuna (we do live it up large in backblocks NZ - well, not really backblocks as Eketahuna is on State Highway 2 - one of our main roads). Addiction Cafe is well worth a stop - lovely food, excellent coffee and very friendly service.

Such a lunch required an afternoon nap - more classily known as post prandial ... So we stopped in a roadside layby and snoozed. Actually David snoozed and snored, so I sat at the table and read with my earplugs in.

Then it was off to Pahiatua to Edward and Chris's place for new year however we got lost on the way. The wrong gate number was entered into the GPS software. after an explanatory phone call, we found the right place on the right road. But it was an adventure (David called it a mis-adventure) and we saw some amazingly spectacular countryside on the way - places that have to be re-visited at leisure.

Chris and Edward have bought a big old place with about 900 bedrooms and 25 lounges. OK, I exaggerate but not by much ... We, however, had the Mote, and Pete and Warren had their motorhome, so the four of us were parked up away from the house. A good thing for me, actually, as I sloped off to bed at about 10.30 - if I'd stayed up I would have drunk too much, been too noisy and badly behaved and then not slept well; so discretion was the better part of valour for me. David stayed up though and won the Pass the Parcel game - as one of the few straight men there, it was ironic that the prize was a rainbow toothbrush 😏😜😍

We had thought about heading for the Hawke's Bay on 1 January, but decided to come home instead so David could get on with some work. And a good thing we did, as Tim phoned the following morning to let us know he and the boys were coming down to stay. Lovely stuff! So the boys are using the Mote as their ensuite bedroom and Tim is in the spare room/sunroom inside.

Kirsty came out on the train this morning from Wellington for brekkie and a swim. I have just dropped her off at the station to head back to her friend Lisa's place for her last night before returning to Sydney tomorrow.

Change of topic:
Now the following photos are for Mick and Julia and other boaters. This is Foxton in NZ - quite a different place from Foxton in the UK - NZ's Foxton probably has more people living in it, but it is less of a tourist attraction and there isn't a gongoozler in sight! It does have a windmill (not sure why, but I think there was a fairly large contingent of Dutch who settled there last century), and it used to have a collection of old buses and a neat shop where I bought two china chickens once ...
I think this photo was taken as we went past the school - note the speed camera on the left.

And the water tower ... Note also the blue sky, and the man in the previous photo wearing shorts, a short sleeved shirt and a cap - it is VERY VERY WARM here!
To be fair, the actual township is about 2kms down to the right at that intersection (or at 2 or 3 others) off the main road (the road we were travelling on is State Highway 1 - the equivalent of the M1, truly!) It does have its own right turning lane, so it isn't that small really ...

OK, that's it for now.

Another change of topic - rant follows:
Have a happy new year, folks, and now it's 2018, can't we be done with Trump, the dumbster, please? I am getting bored waiting for his denouement, even though much of the stuff that keeps coming out is the stuff of bad melodrama! If someone had presented a film/TV script to producers even 3 years ago with the crap that has been occurring since 2015, they would have been told to go away and put a bit more reality into it!

Well, that's my first rant of the year over - but if he isn't gone soon, there will be more where this has come from - you have been warned!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Fun family festivities in the sun

We had a lovely few days in Opunake with Kirsty, Time, Olek, Karol and Dana.

Plenty of beach time, plenty of sunshine, plenty of good food and wine, lovely family company.

We did have some rain and some wind a couple of nights but it was fine during the days - so my weather request was granted.

It was the boys' first xmas that wasn't Polish; i.e. presents were done on xmas day instead of xmas eve, only the presents in the stocking were from Santa and presents under the tree were from named givers rather than the Polish way of all being from Santa. (David, Kirsty and I have never coped well with the un-named giving of presents, after a lifetime of measured gift giving and receiving with personal appreciation expressed...)

So Karol (nearly 8) was very happy to know there would be presents for him from Santa at the bottom of his bed in the morning, and his pleasure was there to see with bits of paper strewn all over the place ... Olek who is nearly 13 played along very well, as a big brother should ;-)

Presents under the tree were opened after brekkie and it was lovely.
The tree came from Tim's friend Warren's farm, the bucket it sits in came for free from The Bin Inn in Waitara, decorations courtesy of Kirsty and Dana, lights untangled and arranged by Tim

David trying out the selfie stick he bought for me ...
Dana is the selfie queen and gave David required tuition. She is wearing a beanie I got for her at Paraparaumu Market

Mmm, not a present I would have bought but Karol loved it and spent ages target shooting on the 40 foot container outside.

Games, books, construction and orange hibiscus marmalade.

No men or kids around, the roast pork is cooking and it was time for Dana and Kirsty to catch up with friends on social media. Plenty of cheese and crackers, fizzy wine and orange juice too ... It was too hot to be outside, so we took cover in the garage.

Tim and David took the boys down to the beach for swimming, sandcastles, tunnelling, body boarding while Dana and I got xmas dinner sorted, almost all of which (apart from the roast potatoes and kumara, and the corned beef previously cooked in the motorhome, was cooked on the BBQ):
  • pork leg roast
  • stuffed capsicums
  • stuffed mushrooms
  • marinated salmon
I prepared a green salad but the plates were too small to accommodate it ...

Now this is a first! All of us together for xmas day! You can see the untouched salad ...
On boxing day Kirsty, Dana and I took the boys to the beach (it's a 10 minute walk). The aunty swam with Olek while Dana and I sat near Karol as he played in the wonderful black sand.
I think they are discussing how cold it is

But they are brave

Steady progress into the water - no screaming and no hesitation - Kirsty said later it was fine once they were in and they did stay in for about half an hour.

Coming back from the beach
Look at the colour of that water!

The afternoon was relaxed in the sunshine with the kids (big and small) playing on the container ...
Olek and Kirsty up high where I can't and won't reach them ...

Games in the park in the evening - I was already in bed when this photo was taken ...

Kirsty had a wedding to attend in Wellington on 28th so we left on 27th. A stop at Viv's Kitchen in Sanson for lunch.

If you read Jenny and Robin Benton's Romany Rambler blog, you will have seen her mentions of Viv's Kitchen's cream horns. They are magnificent! Kirsty bought one and brought it home, then left it in our fridge. Don't worry, Kirsty, we helped you out - it has been devoured!

Then once we got home, we gave Kirsty the presents we had intended for her 40th birthday but didn't have all the photos for on the boat.
Two volumes of Kirsty - a life in pictures. If you are interested in making photo books they are good and easy to use, plus far cheaper than you'd expect. Of course it is extremely time consuming and requires patience and attention to detail that are not my usual mode of operating ... Check them out at

Dinner was Donna Hay's Thai Green Chicken Curry and we had Bruce and Gary, Nigel and Paul here to help celebrate. I was put to bed at 8.30pm as I was falling asleep and the others left a couple of hours later. In the morning it was brekkie at Bruce and Gary's place and then Paul and Nigel delivered Kirsty into the city. I came back home to bed ....

We have done several loads of washing and are now girding our loins for our next venture away in the motorhome.

By the way, I think we are coming to a consensus that it may be being named Mote, as
  • it's short for motorhome (I think it properly and grammatically should be mot'e but Kirsty and David disagree)
  • David keeps referring to it as the boat, so mote at least rhymes
  • he doesn't like the name CROW, dammit
However, it is not yet finally decided, so watch this space ...

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Waverley and Waitara

We had planned to have our first night in Tangimoana, at the mouth of the Rangitikei River. However, we were earlier leaving home than we thought we would be (now, that is a miracle, as we are pretty much always later leaving than we aim for ...), so after a successful stop at Gipsy Caravans in Levin where we purchased two outdoor chairs, complete with their own fitted side table with declivity for a mug (handle accommodated) or a glass as well as the power sockets to replace the UK ones the motorhome came fitted with (yay!!) We had seen them on line from a place in Nelson, and had rejoiced prematurely, as Eddie the electrician told us they needed to be 10v rather than 15v - dammit!! So the find at Gipsy Caravans was most welcome.

We had been planning a foray, off-piste to Palmerston North to purchase outdoor chairs from a large Australian chain (Bunnings) whom we rarely patronise - well, why would we send money off shore unnecessarily? But they had the only suitably comfortable chairs we had been able to find. However when we saw the even better ones at Gipsy, the trip to PN was no longer required.

A change of plan has flow on effects and requires further amendments, so we decided to abandon going to Tangimoana, which was less than an hour up the road, in favour of heading for Waverley Beach for the night.

Waverley Beach was a great place to be - we had seen it on our inaugural NZ journey back from Auckland in November.

The view from the driver's seat - I like having a fence between me and the drop - the handbrake was firmly on and reverse gear engaged when I switched the engine off...

Can't get much closer to the beach than that!

And no one came along to share the space, so we were able to see the sunset uninterrupted!
Mel was ready to take over the controls, only problem is that he cannot reach the pedals ...

And away to the west in the evening ... I know David has a better photo of this but I am not patient enough to wait while he finds it ...

The only downside of the night spent there was that the wind, she did blow and blow -  it came up just on 7pm and proceeded to get stronger and stronger! It felt like being in a plane in moderate to strong turbulence being rocked about - albeit in a business class bed ... The feeling of being in a plane had me feeling a tad anxious - not that I thought we'd be blown over the bank, but that rocking is not a feeling I cherish.

In the morning I looked at the front windscreen thinking that we had misted up the motorhome with all the windows and hatches firmly closed for the sake of their latches. But no - it was salt, fiercely windblown!

The wind had dropped in the small hours, so on waking we went for a walk along the beach further than we had been the afternoon before and found the petrified forest in the sand. Pretty amazing.

Apparently these trees are what remains of a petrified forest from thousands of years ago. Coastal erosion has been constant, I guess. It also adds veracity to the recently discovered continent, Zealandia, of which NZ and some of the islands are the visible parts!
 Back for an al fresco breakfast as it was such a lovely day - my first foray into on-board short order cooking was successful with poached eggs, bacon and toast - let's not go overboard for the first venture, was my thinking ...
Sorry about the lighting on this photo - but I was shooting into the bright morning sun. David is unpacking and setting up the new chairs.

Bacon and toast are cooking, water for the poached eggs and tea is heating in respective vessels.

You know I am there because you can see my shadow ... And you know the wind has dropped because we have left the door open and the hatches up.

Ah yes, there I am!
Before leaving the Waverley area we went back into the township to the Glass Art studio. There is some beautiful stuff there and I bought a couple of very small things. If I was still working and if we had space on our walls in Waikanae, I would have bought the piece pictured below. It is about 1 metre wide, and is decorated with peacock feathers.

I saw this glass cloak in the Glass Art shop in Waverley.

I have sent these photos to Derek and told him he NEEDS this on his wall. It is a snip at $4500 delivered and installed.

As we drove north into Taranaki, the day was stunning and the mountain was clearly visible in the sunshine - surprisingly there is still snow on the top!
Now that's a mountain ...

On we drove to Waitara where my lovely sister Dee lives in her motorhome (a giant 5th wheeler) with her husband Murray, and also where my brother lives in his smaller 5th wheeler. A BBQ for dinner - Murray cooked on theirs so ours is still ensconced in the garage. ( It will come out tomorrow for roasting pork and then cooking stuffed capsicums and portobello mushrooms as well as salmon steaks.)

The Waitara Marine Park Motor Camp is lovely - casual, spacious and friendly - and quiet. It hasn't been enormously busy over the three nights we have been here, but there has been a steady stream of tourists in their people mover vans. Mostly young Germans who are extraordinarily quiet and well-behaved. They go to bed early, clean up after themselves, are polite and drink only moderately.
See the pohutukawa trees in the background - known as NZ christmas trees as they flower at this time of year. This campsite is ringed with them and they also form places for people to park their cars and small tents under to keep the sun from beating down on them! Temporary clotheslines are strung between them too.

This plaque is on a rock by the waterfront pathway. Let's use lots more plastic bags in this way!

Today we are picking Kirsty up from the airport at New Plymouth and then heading to Opunake (hopefully we will arrive in time to go to the Christmas Parade) - Tim, Dana and the boys arrived yesterday and Xmas Day is at Tim's Opunake place.

As always, the weather has turned just before Xmas and we were treated to a fair amount of rain overnight last night but the sun is coming out now and I think it's going to get hot again! I hope the rain was enough to allay the fear of ongoing drought in the farming community's mind. I am happy if it rains at night and is fine and sunny in the day time - just in case my wishes have any impact on what the weather decides to do!

And we are off!

Written on Thursday, and only posted on Sunday morning - what a slack-arse I am!

We are currently parked in the shade of the trees beside the Eltham TSB Swimming Pool complex - David is having a post prandial snooze and I am waiting for him to wake so we can carry on with the journey.

Over the last few weeks while David has been busy on Weaving Memories stuff, I have been getting things sorted for and in the motorhome - the saving of $40,000 has involved doing a lot of the things for ourselves that would have been taken care of by an importing dealer. However, the hourly rate for that $40k saving would be pretty extreme! So we are happy to have undertaken the following tasks:
  • having a Fiat dealer check the vehicle to enact the World Wide Fiat warranty

  • the gas pigtail fittings changed and the gas system checked, 
  • smell traps fitted to the three drain pipes (sink, vanity, shower) and a check by the plumber of other fittings,  (then my covering said smell traps with foam rubber - I slit a tube to wrap around the bottom surface and attached them with cable ties to prevent them being damaged by stones - I believe every woman should be equipped with cable ties, as they have LOTS of uses both legitimate and nefarious)

  • sourcing and arranging the fitting of the replacement power sockets (UK to NZ) so we can achieve an Electrical Warrant of Fitness
  • and getting the self containment certificate once the plumbing work was completed.
The last thing to be done is to complete the NZ registration of the vehicle - it passed the Vehicle Testing NZ check in Manukau on the day we picked the motorhome up from the importers. But NZ Transport Agency's processes are a bit slow in registering the VIN number in their system to enable registration (and issuing of new number plates). However the young man at NZTA assured me that we are able to drive for a year on the UK plates, so we are not deterred from having our holidays!

Getting ready to head away was a mission! It reminded me of getting Waka Huia sorted for our first cruise back in 2014 - all the bits and pieces that need to be purchased, and places found for them in cupboards and lockers. The boat though has two advantages over the motorhome:
  • more cupboards and lockers
  • it is far less prone to rattles and movement of carelessly stacked items.
So packing and storing has been quite a job and I have used a far amount of the non-slip rubbery stuff in drawers/cupboards, around cutlery, between plates ...

And I have created, in the interests of economy (no fainting, please, Mick and Julia!) my own versions of wineglass/tumbler and mug holders. You would be proud of me - as would my dad and mum, no doubt, because both of them were in the habit of make do and mend, as well as 'now, what do I have that I could use to make this for nothing? ...' The wine glasses and tumblers are in boxes (free with other purchases) with foam linings and buffers.

Well, I did pay $1 for the foam rubber, so not quite free... The blue mugs are the ones I bought from John next door (see below), as I do like a big mug for my tea. The others were purchased aeons ago in Bourton on the Water - as we have about 24 mugs in the cupboards at home, I thought it was wasteful spendthrift to buy any more.

Of course, I have shopped - well, come on!! And I have bought:
  • from John the neighbour
    • 6 melamine dinner plates and 6 side plates for $2 each (in the shops they retail for about $8 - $12 each - even at Briscoes which ALWAYS has sales!)
    • 6 glass tumblers for 50c each
    • 3 melamine platters for $2 each (usual retail prices more than above)
    • 2 large fine china mugs (full price of $12 each)
  • from The Plastic Box - fabulous shop!! 
    • 3 clear plastic boxes for the fridge to hold things and stop them moving while in transit
    • a collapsible dishdrainer - I'm getting one for the boat too - it's great
    • several containers to put on shelves and allow things to be stood up instead of having to lie down (toothpaste, other tubes, bottles, packets, etc)
    • a collapsible basin for the sink so rinsing water can be put out on the parched ground instead of down into the grey water tank (a public service during this extremely hot dry weather, so no growling, OK?)
    • a bin with clip-on lid for the grey water drainpipe to be stored in, and last but not least
    • a five drawer stack for in the wardrobe to hold kitchen stuff - it's a bit of an anomaly to me that there is more space for clothing (3 cupboards over the bed plus a full depth wardrobe) than for food and kitchen equipment. Maybe, even tho there is a good sized stove and four ring burner, the Swift Group think people will eat out more than cook, and therefore need more good clothes for so doing ...
  • from Briscoes:
    •  a mattress topper pad for the spare bed - had to buy a queen-sized and cut it down, but cheaper than buying the double sized one that was not on sale
  • from John's Hardware:
    • a fire extinguisher and fire blanket
There must be other stuff, but I cannot remember what ...

And then there was the packing: food from the pantry, the fridge and the freezer; kitchen equipment - a big saucepan for cooking corned beef, what spices will I need?, what sandwich spreads?, how much butter?, shall I take all the cheese from the home fridge? (yes), bedding for Kirsty, first aid stuff, the Weber Baby Q plus pigtail for attaching it to the motorhome gas supply, a 2 ring gas burner and small gas bottle for Tim to borrow on their holiday around the North Island, the christmas presents ...

Who knows how I fitted it all in! And best of all: there is a wine cellar under the table - it's the coolest place in the motorhome apart from the fridge, so it is full. Of course, to stop any movement, either no bottles can be removed, or they need to be immediately replaced. So guess which strategy got the go ahead ...