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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Celebrating 20 Years of Probus

Our monthly Probus meeting had quite a festive feel today.  Balloons, flowers, and not one, but two birthday cakes all set the scene to celebrate our club’s 20th birthday.

PA060008 Happy 20th Birthday to us

Our President Graham welcomed the members, including a dozen or so foundation members, former Presidents, and invited guests to our meeting.  A little of the club history was related, and a slide show playing of photos from earlier events brought back many memories to long term members.  The two birthday cakes were officially cut, and our Mayor, Brendon Duffy was the guest speaker.

PA060003 President Graham welcoming the guests

Those with birthdays are always remembered each month, and as I am a birthday girl in October, joined the many who share the same month as myself.  We were all presented with a gift of liquorice from local maker R J’s Liquorice.

PA060010 My birthday pack of liquorice,

PA060005The October birthday people

Then we all tucked in to the most amazing morning tea spread.  One of our members, who wished to remain anonymous, donated $1000 to be used for a special 20th Birthday morning tea.  The food was brought out, platter by platter, and arranged on the long tables.  And it just kept coming, sandwiches, hot savouries, cakes, pastries, scones and fruit platters too.  That’s an awful lot of food to get through, surely it won’t all get consumed!

PA060007 Even more platters arriving from the kitchen

Just when we thought we had eaten our fill, the committee ladies had finished cutting the cakes and plates of fruit cake and chocolate cake were circulated around the hall.  Here is our Treasurer Gill, who is also one of the neighbours in our village, offering slices of fruit cake.

PA060009 Yes please Gill, I love fruit cake!

At the close of the meeting we were invited to help clear the tables and most people wrapped up a few left overs to take home.   But there was still quite a bit of food remaining,  and the committee came up with the bright idea of taking it around to our local Police Station.  What a good idea – I’m sure the boys and girls in blue would appreciate a few tasty treats while they toil away on our behalf.  What wonderful 20th Birthday celebrations we all enjoyed. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Marvellous Marton

The NZCA Park at Marton is a great little place to stay, and we have been there many times.  Not too far to go for a quiet weekend away, and it is on the way to the Capital for those travelling south who want to cross over on the Cook Strait Ferry.  

PA020086 Marton NZCA Park

At just a short 75km trip, we arrived just in time for lunch on Friday.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing in the surrounding trees, and there were several neighbours close by in the front of the camp as we manoeuvred into our site.  More rigs rolled in all afternoon, finding spaces down the other end of the camp, and by early evening the place was quite full.  Several caravans arrived, including another Leisureline or two, and quite an assortment of motor-homes.  Some little, some big, some with bikes on the back, and a couple of 5th Wheelers too.  The sunshine didn’t last, and by night time the heavy rain came down, making the already soggy lawns even wetter.

PA020085 Getting cloudy as the afternoon wore on

The sunshine came out again on Saturday morning, and while I attended the local Quilt Show, Robin stayed back in camp and chatted to the other campers – something he is very good at!  All this chatting paid off, as our neighbour Lou, proud owner of a new Southern Star, invited a couple of the neighbours in to watch the All Blacks game with him on TV.  Robin was in his element – he often laments on my non interest in sport.  I left them to it, and popped out to see a friend.

PA030152-001 Watching the All Blacks play Georgia

PA030153 Of course our team won!

We woke on Sunday morning to high wind warnings coming later in the day so were keen to get on our way home bright and early.  But not before we noticed Lou doing his washing in his dinky little twin tub washing machine, which works off his battery.  A bloke who does the washing, that’s handy!

PA040154 Our weekend neighbour Lou attending to his laundry

Heading off home via the dump station, we were buffeted by winds travelling down the Foxton Straights, but nowhere as bad as it was reported it could be by the end of the day.  Safely back home, we quickly unpacked, did a quick bit of cleaning, and parked the caravan away- until our next trip away.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Modular Homes and a Car Rally

We never quite know what we are in for when we attend one of our SLG outings.  Setting the alarm clock to awaken us bright and early, we were out the door and driving on our way to Silverstream to find out what was in store for us.  Helen was organising the day and first up was a visit to Matrix Homes, housed in the old General Motors buildings, Upper Hutt.


This young company’s mission is to build affordable modular homes for the Kiwi market, under cover, and the units are then moved onto the building site, or can also be shipped to the South Island.  Gabby and Brooke showed our group around the huge factory building, and we saw several homes under construction.

P9300069 New home under construction

P9300071 Two modules joined together

After a good look around the factory, and inspecting one partially built home after another, we were then taken to view the Show Home on display outside.  Carpeted and with furniture in place, it was easy to see the scale of the rooms.  Fully insulated and double glazed, these homes are certainly good value for money.  We loved the large picture windows with sunshine streaming inside.


P9300080 The Show Home

Then it was back to Fig Tree Cafe for lunch -  “For Worshippers of Fine Food”, situated in a restored chapel.  One of my all-time favourite cafes, I have to say.  The food was great, as usual, and I  was particularly happy to pick up a couple of “straight out the oven” Eccles Cakes to take home.  Lunch choices ranged from Beef and Guinness pies, corn fritters, chicken melts, and omelettes.

P9300082 Lunch at the Fig Tree Cafe

Our entertainment for the afternoon was a Car Rally and Helen let us loose on the streets at carefully controlled intervals, clutching a clipboard and pen and several pages of instructions.  To make things easy she told us we should start off heading north – quite sensible really as our cars could have been parked on either side of the road and facing both ways.  We had to find and name buildings, schools, roads, work places, parks and a church, while making sure we were following the clues and heading in the right direction.  Driving through “Poets Block” we wrote down the names of famous poets, Shakespeare, Byron, Keats, Milton, Thackeray and Longfellow, thankful that we were not required to name some of their works, that would have been difficult.  Luckily our instructions took us right back to Helen and Calvin’s home for a much needed cuppa, although our last task was to count the number of palings on the front fence.  Goodness knows what the neighbours thought of this strange behaviour!

IMG_20150930_132834 Working on our car rally questions

Admittedly, there were a few terse words spoken in the car, probably due to my lack of navigation skills as we drove this way and that.  But we only had to back track once, and completed the task without coming to blows (or tears) to that has to be good.  Helen had prepared a tasty afternoon tea for all the intrepid travellers as we arrived back, and we reminisced about our trials and tribulations as we negotiated the clues for the car rally.  But really, it was great fun, and the last car rally we had done was several years ago.  Thanks to Helen for organising a great day out for the group.

P9300084 Helen preparing afternoon tea

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lunch around the Bays

After our extended tour of Government House which turned out much longer than the allocated two hours, not that we were complaining, our group of twelve caravan club members were starving hungry.   Luckily we had just the place in mind for our group, so one car followed the other to the Spruce Goose in Lyall Bay.  We had called around earlier in the morning to check out the suitability for our large group, and it was a nice roomy cafe, with a good selection of food.  But we had forgotten to factor in the school holidays, and the cafe was full to bursting. “Give me five minutes”, the young waiter asked us, and before we knew it, he arrived carrying a couple of  empty tables, set them up with an existing one, found us chairs, and we were safely settled.  Guess he didn’t want 12 prospective customers walking out the door, so he certainly did his very best to accommodate us.


P9290064 Spruce Goose Cafe, Lyall Bay, Wellington

With twelve hungry mouths to feed, the kitchen really worked hard and got our meals out in good time.  Plates full of Big Breakfast, French Toast with bacon and banana, Eggs Benedict and juicy Burgers were soon placed in front of us.  The table became silent as we ate our tasty meals, and fully sated, sipped our lattes and cappuccinos.  The cafe had good views out the windows and we there in the distance we could see the Interisland Ferry on it’s way down to the South Island.  Surely it must be time to plan another South Island caravan trip, we asked ourselves.

Holiday makers going down south

P9290001Not much surf today

Our lunch together was a lovely finish to a great day.  We said our goodbyes in the car-park, and headed off on our respective journeys home. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Visit to Government House

No caravans were involved in our caravan club visit to historic Government House.  Just twelve keen and interested members who gathered outside the imposing gates, waiting to be let in by the policeman on duty for our pre-arranged tour.  Most of our group had never been to this lovely historic building before, although we can admit to a couple of visits over the years.  Staff member Owen welcomed our group and ushered us into the recently opened Visitors Centre, where we looked at the interesting artefacts on display and learnt of some of the history.

We watched a video of welcome from the current Governor General, Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparea, GNZM, QSO, our 36th Governor General.  Then we went through to the small theatrette to watch a film.  This historic little building was the former squash court, specially built for the the Earl of Liverpool, the 16th Governor General, (1912-1920) who declared that he really couldn’t take office without having a squash court on the premises!  With our heads full of all sorts of interesting facts and figures, we then took the short walk up to Government House.
 P9290010Group photo in front of Government House

Government House was designed by John Campbell, and completed in 1910, on a prime plot of 54 acres.  It contains eight guest suites, a self contained apartment for the Governor General and family, as well as a ballroom, conservatory, sitting rooms, service rooms, kitchens, and a wing of offices.  After almost 100 years of use, the House was closed for major strengthening and refurbishments, at a cost of $40 million.  It reopened for business in 2011, and Robin and I joined the huge crowds when we attended one of the very popular Open Days to admire the make-over.

Owen took us through the house starting at the Ballroom,  which is used for receptions, concerts, balls, investitures and other award ceremonies.  Most significantly, it is the room where the Prime Minister and his or her Ministers as sworn in as members of the Executive Council by the Governor-General after a General Election.  At one end is the dais on which stand the two thrones. Above these hangs a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, painted by Denis Fildes in 1960.   The two beautiful  Czech crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling were completely disassembled and rewired with energy-efficient bulbs as part of the Conservation Project during the refurbishment.

P9290015 The Ballroom

P9290013 One of the pair of chandeliers

I loved the airy conservatory with it’s black and white marble floor tiles, and the pretty outlook over the extensive gardens.  From here we entered the adjoining Blundell and Porritt rooms, carpeted in a pretty pale blue and silver fern design.  We were told the story of how Lady Freyberg lamented the fact that she did not have a sea view from any of the windows.  To put things right, a folding screen by Peter McIntyre (official New Zealand war artist) was commissioned, depicting Wellington Harbour by day on one side and by night on the other.

P9290020 Folding screen painted by Peter McIntyre

The House is a treasure trove of paintings, silver  and objects d’art carefully displayed.  Cabinets full of treasures glittered under the lights, and we gazed in awe  at diamond encrusted goodies and golden objects, gifts from very important people from exotic lands. 

P9290028 Anyone for a cigar?

The Norrie State Dining Room is a very grand room indeed and features a long, extending table that dates from about 1880 and can seat up to 26 guests. It is where State Dinners for visiting Heads of State are often held. The room is named after Sir Willoughby (later Lord) and Lady Norrie (1952-7) who donated to New Zealand and Government House the remarkable royal portraits which are a feature of the room.  In presenting the paintings to Prime Minister Holland, Lord Norrie said he was presenting the collection to thank New Zealand for the five happiest years of his life.  Beautiful pieces of silver are on display, polished and glinting under the lights.  The dining chairs are rather special,  38 tapestry chairs were created by branches of the Country Women’s Institute in the 1950s, for the cancelled visit of King George VI.   The design on the back of each chair is the coat of arms of a New Zealand city or borough.  And yes, we found the chair made in our new home town, Levin.

P9290041 Dining table and chairs

P9290037The Levin ladies with “our chair”

P9290040Spanish galleon presented by King Juan Carlos of Spain when he stayed in the House in 1989

We were all very interested in the collection of 20 carved panels in the entrance hall.  The panels display the full “Armorial achievements” of the last Governors, Lord Islington (1910-12), who was the first resident in the House, and the Earl of Liverpool (who was also the first Governor-General), and all subsequent Governors-General of New Zealand. This collection is believed to be unique among Commonwealth Government Houses.

P9290029 Some of the carved panels

Our tour finished with a walk in the gardens.  With so many kowhai trees in full flower, it was no wonder that there were tuis everywhere.  This was the former site of the Mt View Lunatic Asylum, and a remnant from that era, known as "Convict's Wall" still exists. Owen related that the bricks were made at Mt Cook Prison and as well as featuring arrows to show where they were made, the prisoners often added their own little touches to the bricks. 

 P9290052 The Convicts Wall

We walked back down the hill to the car park, and there was the lovely House peeping through the trees.  It was such an interesting tour, and the elegantly refurbished  House was a delight to see.  We appreciated our informative guide Owen who related so many interesting stories throughout the morning.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spring Forward

It’s that time again down here in New Zealand – when we have to move the clocks forward an hour for Daylight Saving.  I must admit that when we woke up groggy eyed this morning and looked at the clock and saw it was 7.00am, I had a senior moment.  Was it now 6.00am, or 8.00am?  Robin soon put me right.  “Spring Forward and Fall Back”, he quoted. 

He took himself off to the Hot Rod Show today, so that he could drool over all the brightly painted and chromed cars.  He joined the throngs of thousands of people, all admiring the many cars on display.  There were all sorts of cars inside the hall and out on the grass, plus a number of drag racing cars some of which fired up their engines.  They were not in his price range at all, but he could dream, couldn’t he?  Here a couple which took his fancy.

Blue Camaro A beautiful blue Camaro

Vandal Hotrod Lime green Vandal Hotrod

Meanwhile, I was taking advantage of the lovely weather, pottering about with a few gardening chores.  We are not great gardeners, by any means, but I had a few plants to re-pot, and a couple of shrubs to trim (should I be trimming my lavender bushes – it’s too late now, I already have). 

There were some iris corms that were sprouting away all by themselves in a bucket, long overdue to be planted.  These irises have a bit of a history, as it turns out.  Quite some years ago we went with our SLG friends to New Plymouth to see the Rhododendron Festival where we visited all sorts of gardens.  Rex had purchased some irises and gave each household one each as a token of our trip.  Our iris was duly planted in our garden when we lived in Upper Hutt, and had a few flowers, but nothing spectacular.  When we moved to our new home, I dug up a few corms to take with me.  They went berserk, multiplying like crazy and taking over the garden in front of our new house.  They have been dug up again, split up, some have been given away to new homes, and I still have heaps left.  Guess the moral of the story is that our iris plants prefer Levin to Upper Hutt!

P9270021 The iris corms were sprouting, and now finally planted

With the warmer weather arriving, the rhubarb plants have had a growth spurt too.  There is nothing better than rhubarb crumble for dessert, or stewed rhubarb with our breakfast cereal.

P9270020  The rhubarb patch

Roll on Summer – we say!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Turn Left at the Rocket

We have often driven past the mysterious rocket on the corner of Jackeytown Road and SH56 on our way to and from Palmerston North.  Finally we decided to turn left at the rocket on our way home recently and see what there was to see in Jackeytown.

P9050077Let’s explore Jackeytown

The small settlement of Jackeytown was settled in a natural clearing in the densely forest covered Manawatu. It is named after the area, Tiakitahuna, but that was too difficult to say, so the English settlers changed the name to  Jackeytown.  In 1878 Jackeytown consisted of only about twenty houses.  There was also a general store, and a single room primary school was erected in 1882.  

The road ended at the Manawatu River, and the area seems to consist of farms and life style properties.  On our recent visit to the Te Manawa Museum we read how the early residents of Jackeytown hoped that their new settlement would become the hub of the Manawatu,  and that the Manawatu River would become the super highway of its time, transporting goods to other towns.  That didn’t happen, and Jackeytown practically sunk into oblivion.  We stopped to look at some shaggy Highland Cattle who didn’t seem to mind having the photo taken.


P9050073  Highland Cattle in Jackeytown

The Tiakitahuna Rocket was placed on the corner of SH56 by locals wanting to mark the locality after the the Foxton Branch railway was closed and uplifted leaving the area bereft of identification.  The old Tiakitahuna rail station existed just over SH56  but now nothing is left.

Old Tiakitahuna Station circa 1955

The original rocket was made of 44 gallon oil drums welded end to end.  The rocket was rebuilt about the 1980’s with the assistance of a local brewery and painted bright red. The centenary years of 1864-1964 were painted at the top while the district name was painted down the barrel.   Right from the day of its construction the rocket has become been a familiar and valued land-mark at the intersection of two alternate road entrances to Palmerston North City.

Then, horror of horrors, the rocket disappeared,  taken away, it was reported, by men in high-vis vests.   It was found that Stevensons Structural Engineers, of Tokomaru, were behind the disappearance.  Thankfully, the rocket has now been returned to it’s place on the corner, earthquake strengthened and repainted blue, with new dates painted along it’s length to commemorate the 150-year anniversary. The landmark rocket proudly proclaiming that travellers are passing through Tiakitahuna is back doing it’s job, and all it well in this part of the world.

P9050078 The Rocket on SH56