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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friends and Neighbours

We are lucky to be blessed with lovely friends and neighbours who are more than happy to step and and help when needed.  And sometimes we don’t even have to ask them – they just do it!

Earlier in the week we needed to go and collect our recent purchase from the Wairarapa when we were there the previous weekend.  We were told that our new outdoor table and chair set came in three huge cartons, so we could not take it home with us at the time.  Our neighbour Bruce happily loaned us his trailer for the day for the trip to Masterton and back.  And our caravan buddy Geoff went along with Robin to supply some extra muscle power if needed.

As it happened, our new acquisition came in only two cartons, not three at all.  But they were still bulky and the loan of the trailer was a god-send.  After a cool drink Geoff went on his way, and Robin and I decided to undo the cartons to see that we had all the necessary bits inside.  Then neighbour Bruce appeared – he’s one of those “good keen men” and he kindly offered to help us put all the pieces together. 

They worked together in the hot sun as they opened up the cartons.  The six chairs weren’t too difficult to assemble, and just needed a few screws each.  The glass topped table needed a little more thought to put together.  The table and chairs came with an instruction sheet, and all the necessary screws, washers, bolts and nuts.

P1200118 Robin and Bruce screwing the legs  on the table

P1200123All done – thanks for the help, guys

It wasn’t quite over as we had to purchase a new umbrella stand with a bigger hole (than the one we already had) to put under the table.   Then we were set, with the shady umbrella in place to keep the hot Kiwi sun off our heads we could enjoy our time outside.  As we did this morning when we had an al fresco breakfast at our new table and chair set.    Robin cooked up the weekend bacon and eggs on the barbecue and we enjoyed eating our breakfast our cosy patio area.  Check out how he does the eggs – he cuts a round hole through the bread with a glass and pops the egg inside.  That way it doesn’t run all over the place.

P1240001 Al fresco barbequed breakfast

Our friend and neighbour Dot popped in later mid morning.  We were still outside  tapping away on our laptops - luckily our wireless Wi-Fi works well outside, we discovered.  She had a wee gift for us, after slaving over a hot stove yesterday, a jar of beetroot chutney, made with her very own home grown beetroot.  How kind – and we can’t wait to try it, it looks delicious. 

P1240004 Dot with her homemade beetroot chutney

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Muffy loves Camping too

Our cat Muffy really seems to enjoy coming away in the caravan with us.  Now she is getting on in years she is getting a little fearful of the big wide world and is not too keen on venturing outside these days.  But the caravan is small and cosy enough for her to feel comfortable and secure, and as far as she is concerned, she can see exactly where we are.  Not like our home, where we can disappear around corners into different rooms, and she doesn’t know where we are and starts to cry and goes looking for us.  It is quite sad really, to see her so upset. 

Muffy loves the attention of being groomed, and lies contentedly on my lap as I wield the comb.  She happily lies on her back to let me comb her tummy, then gets turned this way and that so I can complete the job.

P1160028 Muffy with her legs in the air

P1160031 All done and the harness buckled back on

Muffy may well be a fair age now, but she has just taught herself a new caravan trick.  She jumped up onto the top of the vanity unit and meowed until one of us turned the tap on.  Then she put her front paws in the basin and lapped up the water.  How did she even know that water came out of the tap, we wondered, and she always has water available in her bowl.  She never does this at home.

P1180002 Muffy’s new trick

She won’t have too long to wait until she has another trip away in the caravan with us.  What a lucky cat – and we are lucky that she travels so well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Weekend Fridge and Door Problems

These things always seem to happen in the wee small hours – that’s when our fridge alarm started were going “beep, beep, beep” and the blue light turned to red.  As we were camping off power by the grapevines, the assumption was that we must have run out of gas.  So out Robin went in the dead of night and changed the gas bottle over.  But no, that didn’t work.  Then it was on to Plan B and he fired up the generator, hoping that it wouldn’t wake up Geoff and Eileen, our overnight camping buddies.  Luckily they slept like logs and didn’t hear a thing, they told us the next morning.

We then moved on to join in with the caravan club rally at Kahutura School and tried the fridge on gas again.  There was no sound of the alarm going on, and the fridge light glowed blue, so that looked promising.  But it was a false promise indeed, as the fridge just sat there, shining its little blue light to lull us into a false sense of security, and all the time couldn’t or wouldn’t fire up to get things cold again.  The meat in the freezer box had thawed, and the milk and butter was getting warm, and the lettuce was wilting.  Luckily we could use the fridge in the school kitchen to chill the perishables down again.

After a phone call to the Leisureline factory about our problem, we were given the names of a couple of authorised gas fitters in the Wellington region who could fix our problem under warranty.  This will save us making the long trip north to Hamilton to the Leisureline factory.  Consequently, on our return home, the first priority was to get our caravan booked in to get the problem fixed.

As previously mentioned, the wind did not let up all weekend while we were staying at Kahutura School.  The mornings started off calm, and as the hours ticked by, the wind increased so much that our awnings and sun shades out had to be taken down or wound back in.  After we had all happily been enjoying 4zees in the hall one afternoon, Geoff and Eileen returned to their van to find they had a problem.  The exterior of their two part door had been hooked back onto it’s catch, while the interior screen safety door was securely fastened.  A gust of wind had slammed the exterior door shut with a wallop.  The key wouldn’t open the lock, the door was jammed tight.

Eileen told me to bring my camera, as all sorts of things are happening in next door.  And they were – there was a full delegation there to help.  Unfortunately I had missed seeing   Barry wriggle through the outside locker, come up under the bed, lift the bed up over his head and gain access inside.  Being fit and lean, he was the ideal contender for this job.

P1180022 Bill K, Geoff, Robin, Graham and Bill S all there to help

Barry couldn’t unlock the door from the inside.  Geoff then opened up the window wide and climbed inside.  Perhaps two heads would be better than one at solving this problem.  Or maybe brute force was needed.


The force of the wind had slammed the outer door shut which then pushed the top latch of the screen door past it’s stops.  Geoff and Barry unscrewed the latch on the door, so that it freed up allowing it to be opened.  Once opened, the latch was reassembled, and then functioned correctly, although the plastic stop was cracked by the force and will need to be replaced.

P1180027 Success at last

The wind wasn’t finished with us yet.  As we were making our way back to our respective homes on Monday (Wellington Anniversary Day) we came across Bill and Barbara’s caravan on the side of the road.  Bill was inside the caravan, and we thought that perhaps the wind had blown one of their windows out.  Not quite so bad, as it turned out.  The window had not been properly fastened shut before left the school, and the wind had whipped it open and damaged the hinges.  Bill was securing it shut and will fix the hinges once he returns home.   And just in case we needed a further reminder,  there was a high wind warning flashing as we started on our journey over the Rimutaka Hill.  Thank goodness we made it safely home.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fun and Games at Kahutura School

It was Barry and Diane’s first time at being rally captains, and they did very well.  They are a fit and active couple, and not only did they brave the school swimming pool over the weekend, we watched in awe and they went for a run together up the country road.  So it was no surprise when they planned a sporting activity  to get us all up and moving around for a bit of exercise. 

P1180011   Barry and his special caravan tee shirt

The wind never stopped blowing all weekend.  The golf practice on the agenda listed as “Bucket and Chips” became “Tyre and Chips”, as the plastic buckets would have blown away around the school grounds long before we landed any golf balls anywhere near it.  Luckily there was a heap of old tyres laying under a tree, and these were called into service.  We were put into teams of three, the non golfers were given a little tuition, and then away we went. 

P1180016 Watch out, Lydia

P1180009 Two teams trying their hand at chipping

The aim was to chip the ball into the tyre for 2 points, and we received 1 point for just hitting the tyre.  With golf balls going every which way, it was not as easy as we thought.  Even the experienced golfers didn’t find it very easy.   The pair of us were placed in different teams, and much to our surprise, did very well.  Robin’s mixed team came first, and my ladies team came second – how about that!

P1180021 Robin concentrating on his shot.

Meeting in the hall in the evening, we took part in a musical quiz which Barry had put together.  Music from the 50s to 70s, which hopefully we would be able to recall.  Once again, we were put into teams, this time with our spouses and another couple, and armed with paper and pen, started concentrating.  We blitzed the field with “Match the Lead Singer with the Group”, and only lost two points with “Match the Artist’s Name with the Backing Group”.  Not a bad start at all.  It was not so easy when we were played the musical introduction of TV show from the old days, although Morecombe and Wise and The Avengers were easy enough to pick.  Then we were played snippets of songs which had colour in the title.  Who can remember Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces, and The Purple People Eater?  We could.

P1180029  Diane and Barry ready to play the music

We were also kept entertained with some tree felling going on in the school grounds one day over the weekend.  It was hot and windy, and the bloke worked away hard with his chain saw, cutting a scarf out of the wood this way, then the other.  There must be some reason why he was cutting at head height, perhaps he was coming back later to deal with the stumps.

P1160034 Starting to cut

P1168533 There it goes

Kahutura School has a long history in the area and the school opened in 1898.  The original school building is a New Zealand Historic Places Trust Registered Building.  The school has changed dramatically since then and now has multiple buildings, a swimming pool, a large hall, and a well equipped playground.  We saw a lovely old photo in the hall of pupils outside the school in the early years.

P1160051 Kahutura School and pupils

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Horse Racing in the Evening and an Afternoon at Lake Ferry

The Rally Captains are keeping us very busy at Kahutara School over the long weekend.  We gathered in the hall for a spot of horse racing.  Suitable for everyone, we were told, even those who can’t bend easily, as the competitors can do it sitting down.  Robin and Derek were the first to take a turn in the knock-out competition.   The idea was to move the plywood horse along the string as quickly as possible to be first over the line.  Not always easy, as the horses had minds of their own, and sometimes insisted on travelling backwards.  The competition was eventually won by Graham, one of our visitors for the weekend.

P1160001 Derek and Robin playing the first round of horse racing

Morning Tea on Saturday brought us more birthday goodies, this time it was a lovely chocolate cake.  It was Barbara’s Happy Birthday shout for the club members.

P1170010 Happy Birthday Barbara

“Let’s go exploring”  said Robin, so after lunch we drove down the road to Lake Ferry, hadn’t been this way for several years.  We drove past acres of bright green maize, the colour in complete contrast to the brown parched paddocks everywhere.  And we just had to stop to admire the pretty little Burnside Presbyterian Church at Pirinoa.  This church was officially dedicated on 15 May 1875 on land gifted by Donald Sinclair, and the local community contributed the funds for the church to be built.  The gates were locked up tight so we couldn’t get into the church grounds for a closer look. 

P1170029  Burnside Church at Pirinoa

Lake Ferry is a small settlement between the shores of Lake Onoke and Palliser Bay, and today has a mixture of holiday homes and permanent residents.    European settlers brought sheep and cattle into this area in 1844, driving their stock along the coastal route from Wellington. These run holders were the first to establish pastoral farming in New Zealand.

P1170014 Arriving at Lake Ferry

Just past the pub was a gravel track, just waiting to be explored.  We hadn’t gone very far when we came across dozens of cars parked up at the end of the track.  Of course, there was a fishing competition on, we remembered.  It was quite a slog walking up the loose shingle until we reached the top of the bank.  Right along the water’s edge were dozens of hopeful fishermen trying their luck in the competition.  Some of the competitors seemed to have several rods each,  some had brought folding chairs to make their day more comfortable, and they all had chilly boxes to put their catches in.

P1170020 Fishing competition at Lake Ferry

It was no fun at all trudging gingerly back to the car, with our sandals full of small stones, making each step an effort.  Once back at the car our footwear was swiftly removed, the stones tipped out, and the sandals buckled on again – oh, the relief. Must be time for a cool drink, we decided, and there was only one place to go, the Lake Ferry Hotel, the heart and soul of this small community.

P1170024 Lake Ferry Hotel

We settled down on the veranda with our drinks, with wonderful views across Lake Onoke and the Rimutaka Ranges. The Lake Ferry Hotel is the southernmost hotel of the North Island,  and caters for local residents and farmers, day-trippers like us and foreign tourists.  The original building was a cross between a Maori whare and a shepherd's hut mostly using timber from shipwrecks, and the current hotel building dates back to 1919.

P1170017 Lake Onoke

P1170025 Enjoying refreshments at the pub

Soon it was time to head back to the caravan rally, but first I wanted to check out what was happening about across the road.  People were milling about, there was a whiteboard all ready to record the different catches.  I had hoped to see some prize fish displayed,  but the competition had not yet been completed.  We arrived back at Kahutura School in time for 4zees, to find that everyone else had started before us.  That’s what the rally captains do sometimes, declare 4zees at 3.30, and why not!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Kahutura School and Tuatara Ted

Leaving the grapevines behind at Opaki we hit the road again and travelled 53kms to Kahutura School, Featherston,  for the weekend.  Most of us were parked up on the school playground by the end of the day, with a couple of others due to arrive the next morning.  We spent a lazy day catching up with everyone, having 4zees, and a BBQ meal before meeting in the school hall in the evening.

P1160022Camping at  Kahutura School grounds

In the evening there was a picture quiz handed out by Barry out to test if our brains had turned to mush over the holiday period.  He had produced pictures of famous buildings from around the world and our task was to identify which city they were located in.  Some were easy, such as the Gherkin building in London, and the world famous in New Zealand Dunedin Railway Station.  It certainly helped having seen these buildings in person, but some were unknown to us, such as the Tokyo Tower.  Then Peter posed an interesting question.  What, he wanted to know, would we place in our spouse’s coffin, to help them in the afterlife, as the Egyptians used to do.  The answers varied considerably, from a lip stick, a computer hard-drive, a toy train, and a TV remote.  I decided that Robin would like to take his beer handle with him, while he decided that I couldn’t possibly face the afterlife without my sewing machine.  It was certainly very interesting to see how each of us viewed our spouses!

From a lovely hot and still day yesterday, the wind increased dramatically today.  The sunshades were rolled back into their fittings, and down came Barry’s gazebo - nobody wanted to take risks with such high winds.  We celebrated Honey’s first birthday with chocolate biscuits at morning tea.  Honey is a seal point Birman just like our Muffy, and is enjoying trips away in Dot and Derek’s motor-home safety secured with her harness and lead.

P1160052 Happy 1st Birthday Honey

In the afternoon we visited Tuatara Ted (John McCosh) and his Kahutura Taxidermy Museum, just up the road a little way.  There is an interesting collection of exotic and native animals and birds, antlers and jaw-bones, skins, insects and a large rock collection.  Most of the collection has been stuffed by John, a professional taxidermist, although he is now retired from this work.  He answered questions about the process and showed us examples of the materials used for the interior construction.



There was such a lot to see that we all needed to take several walks around the interior of the log cabin museum building to see what we had missed earlier.   Such as this Moko Shark with a very impressive set of teeth.

P1168542 Mako Shark jaw

P1160043Plenty of birds

And a poster of the man himself, Tuatara Ted, with a lion he had completed working on.  Over the poster is head of a cheetah cub.  It was a most enjoyable visit.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Camping by the Grapevines

A long weekend (Wellington Anniversary Weekend) means a trip away in the caravan and we were off and away mid morning heading north.  To make long weekend even longer, we left home on Wednesday, just because we can.  Driving over the Pahiatua Track to the Wairarapa, we stopped for lunch at a rest stop north of Ekatahuna to wait for Geoff and Eileen to join us.  What a surprise – they were already there, we were sure we would arrive first.  The kettle was on the boil, they told us, so we prepared our sandwiches and joined them in their van for lunch.

P1140003 Lunch stop just off SH2

Another 45kms driving and we arrived at our stop for the night.  The POP Waipipi, is in a lovely rural setting, and we parked up on a large grassy area, adjacent to the grape vines. 

P1140011 Our stop for the night at Waipipi POP

No sooner had we settled in, than we jumped in the car and drove on to Masterton to attend to a couple of things.  On the way back we stopped off at The Wee Red Barn to buy some luscious strawberries and some of their fresh fruit ice-cream.  Yummy, that's dessert sorted for the evening.  Back at camp, it was deemed time for 4zees.

P1140006 We stopped off here for strawberries and ice-cream

I went for a walk a little later to see what I could see.

P1140013 There were grapes planted everywhere

P1140014A few sheep to see as I walked by

P1140016Our caravans peeping over the vines

Later in the evening meal Geoff joined us outside under our pull out awning as we listened to the gentle rain falling on top.  It was very pleasant sitting outside as the sky slowly darkened, the birds were singing and we sipped on a glass of port each and put the world to rights.  A lovely finish to the day.