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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

It looks like a Whirling Dervish

After finding out “all about Pesto” our SLG friends were in need of sustenance and a sit down.  Just as well we had a table booked for lunch not too far away at Salt and Pepper Cafe.  The staff must have heard that our group can sometimes get a little vocal, and seated us out on the covered deck.  Which was very nice really, we were nice and private and had the deck to ourselves.  We are not really that noisy, but when all of us get talking, the sound scale does go up a notch or two.  What to order generally takes a bit of pondering, and discussion, and finally we had all decided what took our fancy.  There was no second choice for Les, if lambs fry and bacon is on the menu, that’s what he is having – and he did!  We were all pleased with our choices, with Robin and Calvin both ordering the most delicious pork belly open sandwiches. 

P7290020 Look at those plates!

We had one more visit to make after lunch, and I took our group to look through the Cordall factory, another small local business which manufactures cords, elastic, tape and bungy cords.  The owner showed us around and related how the spools of cord get threaded up onto the machines and woven into these various products.  The spindles go round and round at incredible speed, just like the Whirling Dervishes of olden times.

P7290025 Making cords

Shoe laces are another product and this old vintage machine came up from quake ridden Christchurch.  It is the only one of it’s kind in the country and has a very important job – putting aglets on shoelaces.  That’s what the plastic or metal sleeves at the end of shoelaces are called – aglets, or aiglets.  These tiny things have several functions: they prevent the lace ends from fraying, they make the laces easier to hold, and they make them easier to pass through the eyelets.  And that rather strange word often comes up in crossword puzzles, I’m told.

P7290021 This machine puts the aglets onto shoelaces

Another product made here is cord for electric fence gates which incorporates stainless steel wire.  We watched as large spools of stainless steel wire were wound onto smaller spindles which will then be threaded up onto the machines to make the cord.

P7290022 Stainless steel wire

P7290027 More machinery going nineteen to the dozen

It was a very interesting short tour, and once again, our group of friends were not aware that this took place in Levin.  Products are made to order, and any excess is sold in the shop.  There is all sorts of elastic, cords and tape for the home sewer like me – it is a real delight to have such an interesting little shop on my doorstep.  And I found exactly what I was looking for to complete a project.

P7290028 Lots of stock to rummage through

Our friends came back to our home for afternoon tea and even more chatter before they all headed off on their journeys homeward.  We had a great day together, and they were certainly surprised to learn of two quite different industries we have here in Levin. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

All about Pesto

Tucked away in a rural corner of Levin is a secret that not many people know.  This is where the family run Genoese factory produces fresh basil pesto.  The basil is grown on the family farm in Fiji, where the warm tropical climate ensures a year round crop, and the hand picked herbs are flown into New Zealand twice weekly.

P7290014 Picking basil in Fiji

I had arranged to take our SLG friends for a factory tour and we were welcomed by Ron, the “founding father” of the company.  Before we could enter the food preparation part of the factory, we had to comply with Health and Safety regulations and don hairnets.  In Robin’s case, he needed another one to cover his beard.

P7290006 Ready to see how it is done

Pesto is a traditional recipe made from fresh basil leaves, olive oil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts.  The fresh basil is put through the washing process several times to ensure it is perfectly clean, before moving on to the next step of the process.

P7290011 Washing the basil

The parmesan cheese arrives in large blocks and need to be finely grated before being added to the mixture..

P7290007 Grating the parmesan cheese

The ingredients are mixed in the correct proportions of basil, olive oil, cheese and pine nuts and come out the other end packaged in pots of delicious fresh bright green pesto.

P7290009 Pots of fresh pesto

At the end of our tour we were invited for a tasting.  We tried the original pesto, which we were assured, is delicious on pasta, potatoes, meat, fish and chicken, in fact, you are limited by your imagination.  Do check on the company website here to get ideas on how to use this product.  The company also makes a chunky pesto dip, a tomatoe dip, and olive tapenade.  All delicious and we made sure we gave them all a thorough “taste test”.

P7290013 Ron preparing for our pesto tasting

It was a very interesting tour and my knowledge has expanded from someone who didn’t even know what basil looked like to someone who is now a convert to pesto!  Thanks very much to Ron and his team at Genoese for a very interesting insight into the manufacture of basil pesto.

P7290015 Goodbye from Ron at Genoese

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fire Officer Kerry at 60s Up Meeting

Fire Safety in the home was the theme of the talk at our 60s Up meeting – very appropriate as we are in the depths of winter.  Our speaker Kerry O’Keefe had the dual title of Fire Risk Management Officer and Specialist Fire Investigator, so was admirably qualified to talk to our members about this important subject.  Kerry told us that he became a fire fighter not long after the best friend of his little four year old son had died in a house fire.  The little boy had been playing with matches and set his room on fire.  Not knowing what to do, he then hid under his bed while the house burned down around him.   Kerry’s son said to him, “Dad, if you were a fireman you could have saved him”.  What a sad story, but Kerry has been fighting fires ever since.
 P7270002Fire Officer Kerry O’Keefe

Kerry’s talk was full of common sense good advice.   Such as having fire alarms in all bedrooms, not just the main one.  And for those hard of hearing, consider an alarm that also comes with strobe lighting.  And don’t waste your money buying those cheap $10 alarms either, a good quality one selling at $40 contains a long life photo electric battery which will last for 10 years.  He talked to us about having an escape plan, and leaving the keys in deadbolts while we were at home.  People have died while trying to find their keys and insert them in locks in the dead of night with toxic smoke swirling around.

Most fires happen in the kitchen, and the advice was never to leave a frying pan alone on the stove top.  If your pan does catch fire, turn the stove off at the wall and smother it quickly with something like a bread board, oven tray, or tea towel – a fire needs oxygen to continue burning.

Overloaded plug boards are also dangerous – it it feels warm to the touch it is overloaded!  And electric blankets are another area of concern.  They are not made to be slept on while the power is on.  How many of us have felt cold in the middle of the night and switched the blanket on?  Yes, I was only one of many who admitted to that.  Robin worked for the New Zealand Fire Service for some years in their Head Office, and related that most fire fighters would not allow their family members to have electric blankets – what does that tell you? 

It was a very interesting and informative talk.  Can I do without my electric blanket?  No, but I can make sure that I switch it off before climbing into bed.  (And don’t tell Robin – but I always rather like a man in uniform.)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Otaki and back

Otaki is about 20kms south from where we live and is a town divided into three areas.  The shopping area along State Highway 1 is known as Otaki Railway, and has become famous for it’s many “outlet shops”.  Midway to the beach is Otaki township which contains more shops and residential areas, and finally, Otaki Beach which is mainly residential.  We took a trip to Otaki township to stock up on some “real” sausages made by one of those good old fashioned butchers, none of those tasteless supermarket sausages for us.  And I couldn’t resist buying a piece of pickled pork either.  Then we drove back Otaki Railway to pop into one of those outlet shops which always seem to have a sale – you don’t really need to know what undergarments I purchased there.

We had a look around the historic Otaki Railway Station which has served the community since 1886, and was a major link between the town and the outside world.  From the 1940s onwards, the local market gardeners flocked to the station to load up their produce onto wagons.  Trucks lined up with tomatoes, pumpkins and greens, bound for markets in Wellington, Palmerston North, Wanganui, Napier and New Plymouth.   But times changed, the roads improved, and now the produce is moved by truck.  Sadly, the only train stopping at the station these days in the Capitol Connection commuter service which runs one service morning and night on week days.

P7230027 The historic Otaki Railway Station

Another local historic building a little further south is sadly no more.  The century old Red House Cafe at Te Horo went up in flames a week or so ago and I wanted to see what had happened to the building.   Starting life as a general store in 1911, it became the Red House Cafe in 2004.  Some years ago while still trading as a store, the owner caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood when he accepted an offer from Coco-Cola to paint the building red.  The locals were quite upset and some wanted to club together to buy some white paint and change the colour back.  But the bright red paint job made the building a State Highway 1 icon – everyone knew where it was.  We have enjoyed many a lunch and a couple of evening meals there.  The food was always delicious, and the old timber building had a lovely warm old fashioned feel to it. 

ImageThe Red House Cafe that was

P7230031 Sadly, all that is left now is a pile of rubble.

The demolition team were making short work of the rubble, there is not much left now to be loaded up on the large truck and taken away.  It was just as well that we drove down to have a look when we did – probably not long now till the site is completely cleared.  It is very sad indeed to see such a wonderful old building which was the hub of the community for so long totally destroyed.

P7230030 Big blue trucks to take the debris away

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Out and About around Levin

It may be mid-winter, but we are having glorious sunny days in our part of paradise lately.  With a few messages to do and places to visit, we took a little drive around the local area yesterday.  Here is yet another view of the Tararua Ranges with a light dusting of snow, with some of the local area market gardening farmland in the foreground.

P7220013 Local rural paradise

We stumbled across some old Levin history as we drove past the dilapidated buildings of the former Boys' Training Farm at Weraroa, later renamed the Kohitere Boy’s Training Centre.  This was first opened in 1905, and housed boys with behavioural problems – those identified at the time as 'delinquents' – though neglected and orphaned boys ended up there too. Occupational training was an important element of the institution's regime, to train the boys for a better life.   It seems that the land is now in private hands and the run down buildings are being removed.

P7220017 Now in a state of disrepair

Boys' Training Farm, Weraroa, 1912Threshing hay at Boys Training Farm back in 1912.

Back to the present time and a farm of a different sort – it was time for another trip to the Big Egg free range chicken farm to replenish our egg supplies.  Robin went in to make the purchase, mentioning that I was outside talking to the chickens, who tend to mob visitors, looking for hand-outs.  That won’t happen today, he was told.  These were young pullets, and it was their first day outside in the sunshine, so they were still getting their bearings and working out how things happened.  They have to get used to the feeder and water supply, and how things work inside in the barn.   The chooks  were quietly cluck-clucking away amongst their selves on their first venture into the big wide outdoors.  They were not at all interested in the likes of me and my camera.  No doubt they will soon be laying regularly, and don’t they look happy, out enjoying the sunshine.

P7220022 Free range pullets at the Big Egg

There is nothing nicer than freshly laid free range eggs for breakfast.  Perhaps it is time for another pan of bacon and eggs?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An Honour Indeed

It sort of sneaked up on us.  Just before the close of the Caravan Club AGM Peter stood up to speak.  Nothing unusual about that – as one of the club elder’s Peter has had years of club caravanning experience and likes things done “correctly”.   He and Elaine had made a nomination for Life Membership he started saying – who, we wondered as we listened quietly?  It was us!  We can’t tell you how unexpected that was, and what an honour it was to accept.  Thank you so much, Peter and Elaine for putting the nomination forward, and to the committee for endorsing it. 

P7180052 Life Membership Award presented to us by Derek

Monday, July 20, 2015

More from the Manawatu

Six of us had planned to attend the “Chocolate Éclair Rally” at Ohakune the previous week, but due to slips and flooding the rally was postponed for a month.  But, we decided, since we had to miss out going to Ohakune, we would enjoy a couple of those gooey squishy delights for Saturday morning tea at Foxton.  So we did.  Geoff was suitably jealous and wanted to know why we didn’t buy extra for him.  Tough luck, Geoff, they are all for us!

P7180048 How about these for morning tea?

The first bit of business to be attended to was to welcome Glennis and Dennis into our club, and Derek as President did the honours.  Great to have new members on board, guys.

P7180050Welcome to our club

The AGM then got underway, with the changing of the guard. Some left the committee, some joined, and some changed positions.  With such a keen committee we are ensured of a full and interesting year of caravanning. 

We had a meal out in the evening at the Foxton RSA, travelling in the courtesy van for a nominal fee each way.  With a lovely roast beef dinner, and fruit crumble to follow, we were well satisfied.  Especially with discount off for Gold Card holders, which we all were, this made it a very reasonably priced meal indeed.

Displayed in the dining room was a lovely carved door lintel, carved from an ancient piece of Kauri 700 years old, with polished paua shell used for the eyes.  A Taiaha, a weapon of war used by a chief, hangs above.

P7180057  On display in the RSA dining room

Saturday night was rather wild, with wind and rain howling around.  People were seen creeping around outside in their night attire rescuing objects which had blown around, and winding down the roof mounted TV antennas.  No wonder the temperatures had dropped, there was a decent snow fall on the ranges, and the wind had quite a wintery bite to it.  With reports of more bad weather on the way, most packed up and headed for their respective homes after morning tea.  We didn’t have too far to travel, so stayed on for lunch before  finally heading home.  It was a great weekend, which came with quite a surprise – more about that later.