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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lambs and Daffodils - Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring are all around, we noticed, as we drove along rural roads to Ashhurst.  We were meeting up with daughter Nicky at the Herb Farm Cafe for lunch, and to pass over some goodies  for her upcoming birthday.  As we can’t be with her on the actual day, a lunch out together was the next best thing, we decided.  Nicky is Production Manager in the laboratory at the Herb Farm, in charge of mixing up all sorts of 100% natural lotions, oils, creams  and soaps.  We enjoyed a tasty lunch, and had a good catch up with our respective news.  Nicky told me that her BFF always takes her out for High Tea on her birthday.  How I’d love a special friend like that!  Perhaps I can start a new birthday ritual like this for my special day too?

P8180001 Herb Farm Cafe and Shop

P8180002 Herb Farm gardens

Just down the road we saw lots of new lambs in a paddock, so the driver was under instruction to stop the car.  The ewes weren’t staying still for this strange woman brandishing a camera,  and quickly moved their lambs away from the fence.  There were several sets of twins, and this cute little dark set of triplets.

P8180004 Quickly, move away from that strange person

Daffodils were planted en mass along the road frontage of another farm close by, making a lovely splash of colour.  With new lambs bouncing around the paddocks, and  these beauties in flower, we could be forgiven for thinking Spring must be here.

P8180007 Daffodils planted along the roadside.

The bulbs were also planted up the driveway to the farm house.  It was then that we noticed the large painted sign on the gate.  Perhaps they grow daffodils commercially?

P8180010

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seeing Double

It was a bit like seeing double over the weekend.  There was one pussy cat in our caravan, and another looking almost the same in the motor-home.  Our Muffy is an old hand at these caravan weekends away.  After the travelling is done, she is quite content to snooze the weekend away curled up tight.  Although she doesn’t like to venture much outside these days, she told us in no uncertain terms that yes, she does want to have a quick look around.  Perhaps she knew there was another Birman close by – who knows?

P8160014 Muffy checking things outside

Five minutes outside in the big wide world was more than enough for our old girl, and with a flick of her tail, she quickly hopped back inside the caravan again.  There she goes up the steps, she couldn’t get back inside quick enough.

P8160015 I want to go inside again, she’s thinking

Dot and Derek were parked beside us and we called in to how their new kitten Honey had coped with her first trip away in the motor-home.  She was a little upset with the travelling, but once on site at the motor camp was quite content.  It won’t take her too long to get the hang of this travelling lark.

P8150004 Honey and Derek

Both cats are Seal Point Birmans, so it is no wonder they look alike.  And by coincidence, this is the camp where we took Muffy for her first caravan experience several years ago, as it was a first also for Honey was over the weekend.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bring in the Puds!

Before the all important  steamed pudding affair, there was 4zees to enjoy.  Robin decided to relive his visit to Hobbiton and arrived wearing his Hobbiton Movie Set hat and knocked the top off his bottle of “Girdley Fine Grain Amber Ale”, brewed especially for the Green Dragon Inn at Hobbiton.   As I am only an occasional drinker, my bottle of  Hobbiton “Sackville Cider”  got the better of me, and I passed the remainder over for Robin to finish.  Give me a nice coffee any day!

P8160019Ready for his Hobbiton beer

All the ladies disappeared after 4zees, there was a communal meal to prepare and puddings to cook.  We gathered in the dining room to eat our main course together, then popped back into the caravans to check on our steamed puddings bubbling away.  Camp Mother Diane sent over a luscious pavlova and a big bowl of fruit salad for our group to enjoy, how kind is that!  Then the hot puddings started arriving.  There was certainly something for all tastes, we could choose from chocolate, sticky date, jam, and golden syrup. My contribution of a jam steamed pudding almost came to a sticky end as we tried to get it out of the pudding bowl and onto the serving plate without it falling to pieces.  Luckily it tasted OK.  With so many choices, some of us just had to fill our pudding plates up twice. 

P8160021 Jam steamed pudding and a home made pav

P8160022 
Or maybe you would prefer some sticky date or chocolate pudding?

Sunday soon rolled around and after morning tea and an early lunch, it was time to pack up and head home. We decided to go back home through the Wairarapa and over the Rimutaka Hill.  All the snow and ice which shut this road on Friday was long gone, and the strong winds had abated, thank goodness.

P8170025 Start of the Rimutaka Hill at Featherston

Then it was up and over Haywards Hill, and along SH1 up the Kapiti Coast.  We’ve been following that caravan travelling in front for some time, – it’s Geoff and Eileen heading home too.

P8170031 That caravan looks familiar

On arriving home, we soon unpacked the van, cleaned it out, and parked it up on it’s allotted space.  It was a great rally weekend, we’ll do it all again soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Settled Weather at last in Carterton

The weather for yesterday could only be described as a bit of a  “wash-out”.  Four of us early bird caravan arrivals were sitting safe and snug on site at the Carterton Holiday Park for the weekend rally, thankful that we didn’t have to deal with the bad driving conditions.  The remaining vans arrived with tales of snow on the top of the Rimutaka Hill.  In fact this mountainous road into southern Wairarapa had been closed for a while and we really wondered if the others would make it over the hill.  But fortitude and courage are traits of our members.  None would allow the challenge of blustery wind, rain or snow stop them in their tracks!  With the hard surfaced sites in hot demand, half of us are parked up on one side of the camp, and half on the other.   Friday night was spent huddled around the heaters in the dining room, relating jokes as we usually do, to keep ourselves amused.

We awoke to a much brighter day today, the blue sky and wintery sunshine made us all feel better. 

P8160009 It turned out a much better day on Saturday

Still too chilly to sit outside, so we all gathered in the dining room for morning tea, followed by a Special Meeting.  The rest of the day is free, until 4zees.

P8160011Some of us at morning tea

Something a little different is planned for the evening.  After a communal evening meal back in the dining room tonight,(bring and eat your own) everyone has been instructed to bring a Steamed Pudding along to share.  Nine steamed puddings will be making a grand entrance and placed reverently on the table.  Then we will get to try a little of this one, and maybe some of that one.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it!  I’d better get busy and start mixing my pudding, and pop the basin inside the big pot of boiling water.  Hope I didn’t leave any crucial ingredients behind. 

P8160008

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Third Time Lucky

There was no way Robin wanted to hang around this morning.  We were heading to Carterton for a caravan rally weekend and  he wanted to get on our way sooner rather than later.  According to the weather forecast,  stormy conditions and high winds were due to arrive in the early afternoon.  Not good conditions for towing so we wanted to be well settled in camp before the weather changed.  Our trip over the Pahiatua Track went smoothly, although we did strike some wind. Once safely over the Track we trundled down through the Wairarapa, catching glimpses of snow away  in the distance.

P8140015 Snow on the Taraua Ranges

Although arriving at the motor camp a day early, we weren’t the first ones from our club by any means.  Our Rally Captains for the weekend,  Geoff and Eileen, were taking their duties very seriously and had arrived two days early.  Backing into the site beside them, Robin soon discovered that he couldn’t get satellite TV because our dish on the roof was pointing straight at a large tree.  Perhaps that site over there will be better?  So off we went, backed into another site, repeating our earlier actions of unhooking the car, winding down the steadies, and plugging in the power.  Up went the TV aerial on the roof – and we couldn’t believe it!  Not even a smidgeon of reception  – there will be no TV tonight.  What to do, surely we don’t want to change sites three times in a row?  But we did, it was just as well that the rest of the club weren’t here to laugh at our antics.  Hooked up again, drove to a different site, and finally, it was third time lucky.  Houston – we have a signal!

P8140018 This is the third site we tried

After all that stress, we decided to relax outside in the sunshine.  The sun shade was pulled out, the folding chairs put in place, let’s sit out here and enjoy nature.  That didn’t last long at all.  Thunder rumbled overhead,  the wind got up, the temperature dropped dramatically, down came the rain, followed by hail.  What a scramble to put the chairs away, roll up our awning and scurry back inside.  The storm, as promised, had arrived.

P8140020 The sky is blue, and the sun shade is extended, then came the storm

With the heater going, and the electric blanket switched on to warm the bed, we will be cosy enough inside the van tonight.  It may well be another lovely day tomorrow, if the storm blows itself out tonight.  Let’s wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nga Purapura Sports Complex

It was time for another a 60s Up adventure, a local one today.  An enthusiastic group boarded the bus and we set off for a short 20km drive for a day out to Otaki.  We were looking forward to visiting the award winning Nga Purapura Sports Complex.  It was while watching and enjoying the local TV series recently, The Art of the Architect, Episode 6, that we viewed the ups and downs of the birth of  this massive building in take place in a rugby field.  Commissioned by the Maori University Te Wananga o Raukawa, architect Hugh Tennant from Tennant and Brown took on this huge job.  He was asked to  create a sports complex, classrooms, gym and meditation space while embracing the Maoritanga ideas of a group of three iwi. 

P8130026 Nga Purapura

The $10 million dollar building boasts two international-sized netball and basketball courts with seating  for 500, a well equipped gym, changing facilities, an upstairs viewing room.  The Operation Manager told of the aim to develop a better and healthier  lifestyle for Maori people, so all university buildings in this complex and grounds are both smoke and alcohol free.   The building has been designed acoustically to hold concerts, lectures and plays, and several concerts have already been held here.

P8130015 The sports hall

But this new facility is not just for Maori students and teachers, it was stressed, it is for the whole community to use and enjoy.  Prices have been kept very low  to allow for local groups to hire a room for meetings.  Anyone is welcome to join the well equipped gym or take part in keep fit sessions.  One of the most popular programmes on offer, he told us as he looked around our group, is suited to those in our (mature) age group.  The Keep Fit session for the Over 60s is only $2 a session, to keep it affordable for local people.   After a good workout they could pop in to the cafe for a coffee. 

P8130019

P8130018
Inside the gym

The Meditation Room, known as the Peanut,  sits in the foyer, and is used by students (or anyone else who feels the need) for study, or for reflection or meditation.  No shoes or cell phones are allowed inside this area.  And with no seating provided, limber young things either sit or lie down on the plush carpet with their laptops and books.  It is very popular, we were told.   Each piece of the pod was individually cut, with no two being exactly the same size. 

P8130022

P8130017
Views of the Pod

There were lovely examples of Maori carving and weaving throughout the foyer, including several beautiful cloaks.

P8130024Maori cloak on display

We were  very pleased to have the chance to look through this exciting new building, and it was interesting to hear that the people in charge wish to make available to all.  After a not so memorable lunch in one of the cafes and a look around the outlet shops, we boarded the bus again.  Peter, our friendly bus driver,  took us on a bit of a “tiki tour” along Marine Parade before joining SH1 and heading northwards.  The sun was shining, the waves were gently rushing to shore, and all looked great in our little piece of paradise.

P8130041 Otaki Beach







Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wind and Rain today

It was one of those mornings when we were thankful that our working lives were behind us.  The wind was blowing a gale and  rain was hosing down but we were nice and warm inside.  With a freshly brewed cup of tea each, here we were, still tucked up in bed, watching the morning news on TV.  Gone were the days of being a commuter, hanging around the bus stop and the railway station as we trudged off to work in the dreary dark winter days.  Oh well, all you young ones keep on working and paying taxes, to pay for our pensions!

Mr Tui Man is unfazed by the bad weather as he peeps out of his beer barrel.

P8120010 Who’s a cheeky boy, then?

There’s a little spot of colour in the front garden with some cheery yellow pansies and polyanthus in flower.

P8120012

The rain had stopped by lunch time and we went out in separate cars.   Robin is a volunteer driver for the Cancer Society so that kept him busy,  ferrying patients to their hospital appointments.  He always takes our small car, because it is so much easier for the patients to get in and out.  Which means I was entrusted to the big 4WD.  I find it a quite large to drive, so I was extra careful – just in case.   Luckily, we both made it home safely, but even I have to admit that the way I parked outside on my return home leaves a lot to be desired.   Ooops, I never realised I was so far over the line. (Robin here it amazes me how Jenny can sew a straight line).