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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where are the Easter Eggs?

Yesterday some of us went for a walk up the country road.  Cattle grazing on the hillside watched us with interest – they probably don’t often see a posse of townies wandering up the road.

P4190045 Keeping a watchful eye on the walkers

We came across a tree festooned with plastic milk containers.  Wonder what they were for?  Maybe they were bird feeders, or perhaps containers to catch insects, or maybe some kind of rural ritual?  Whatever the reason it certainly looked strange.

P4190043 Growing milk containers

The entertainment for the evening was Table Truck Racing, a variation of the race horse game.  The dining room table was taped up into sections, we were put into teams and the dice was rolled to see how many squares each truck could move.  After our team had been soundly beaten in three games, we managed to have two wins in succession.

P4190046 The trucks are racing

Early on Easter Sunday we checked outside but the Easter Bunny hadn’t called and left us an Easter Egg or two on our caravan door steps – mores' the pity!  It’s just lucky that we we remembered to pack a couple of our own to take away with us.  But this has now been remedied.  During morning tea, the Rally Family presented us all with our very own Easter Egg.  And another plate of Hot Cross Buns was passed around for us to enjoy, very tasty thanks.

Now, what would you call this cute little fellow?  We were tasked with giving him a name.  The ideas were coming thick and fast, with everything from Randy Rooster, to Kentucky Fried.

P4200002 He’s a rooster – what is that foil wrapped egg doing there?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coppermine Camp, Woodville

Eerie mist blanketed the farm in the early morning – too good a photo opportunity to miss.  So I sneaked outside in my dressing gown and took a few shots.

P4190024 Misty morning on the farm

Might as well check the chippy heater too while I was wide awake.  At this camp, no fire means no hot water for the showers.  But wouldn’t you know, the fire had gone out overnight.  Perhaps I’ll have a go at lighting it, I thought.  Hadn’t done this sort of chore for many a long year, but I crumpled up some newspaper, laid kindling on top, threw in a match or two, and success.  I draw the line at chopping wood though, that’s what we have the blokes for.

P4190026  I passed the early morning fire lighting test

The full complement of seven vans are now on site, enjoying the rural surroundings.  The farm runs about 5000 sheep, Farmer Noel told us, plus steers as well.

P4180020 This way to the camp

The horrendous wind has dropped and we enjoyed Morning Tea outside in the fresh air.  Being in the country can have a down-side though, we were surrounded by big black flies.  Armed to the teeth with various fly swats, our club members were ready to do battle with these nasty little interlopers, along with the occasional wasp.  Selwyn and Peter’s fly swats paled into insignificance alongside Val’s battery operated little blue number, which zaps the life out of the little blighters without leaving a squashy mess.

P4190027 Ready to deal with the rural flies

A mob of sheep started to run down the driveway alongside the camp.  Robin jumped up quickly to shut the gate in case any disoriented sheep decided to check out the caravans.  But they were totally focused on following the sheep in front, and didn’t deviate from their route at all.  The ones in front found some nice fresh grass to munch on till the quad bike and dogs caught up with them.

P4190034 Just stopping for a nibble

P4190035 Here comes the boss

The clouds rolled in and the skies opened up late morning, so that sent everyone scurrying inside.  Noel the farmer had mentioned that he was waiting for some decent rain, and here it was.  The farmers are always pleased to have rain to keep their paddocks green. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wild trip to Woodville

Wild weather is covering the country, and our drive to Woodville today had us practically chewing on our fingernails in fright.    Buffeted by strong winds, lashed by rain, the caravan was pushed around behind us as we carefully negotiated the bad conditions.  It wasn’t an easy drive and didn’t feel safe at all being on the roads.  As we approached the Manawatu Gorge we could see the wind turbines up on the sky line.  Plenty of units of power would be going into the National Grid on such a windy day.

Wind powered turbines

The Manawatu Gorge has always been one of my least favourite roads.  This area is prone to slips, and the hills are covered in netting in some areas to protect motorists from rock fall.  With steep hillside on one side, and a sharp drop down into the Manawatu River far below on the other side of the road, there is nowhere to go if the hill starts to crumble away.  We had to wait a while for contractors to clear away a small land slip before we continued on our journey.

The Manawatu Gorge road

Once safely through the gorge, I breathed a sigh of relief – although this road doesn’t seem to bother Robin at all.  Our  Easter Rally is at Coppermine Motor Camp, situated on a sheep farm.  We found ourselves a site, settled in and had lunch.  Only three vans here so far, but more will be arriving later in the day.

Early arrivals at camp

The camp building are the former shearing quarters, complete with kitchen, lounge, toilets and showers.  One chore that needs to be done during the weekend is to keep the chip heater burning, as this not only warms the lounge area, but also heats the water for the showers.  Robin stacked the kindling in the grate and soon had a good fire burning merrily away.

P4170018 Lighting the chip heater

The wind is still roaring, and the rain is coming down in torrents, but we should have a great weekend here with our caravan club buddies.  Just hope the Easter Bunny knows where to find us here on the farm when he is out and about delivering those eggs!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WOW comes to Upper Hutt

It was a trip back to our old home town of Upper Hutt today to view the “Off the Wall – World of Wearable Art” exhibition with our SLG friends at Expressions Art and Entertainment Centre.  WOW was started way back in 1987 by Suzie Moncrieff (now Dame Suzanne) in Nelson.  The event has since grown into a very prestigious art and design competition.

Selecting the garments was a collaborative process between WOW® founder Suzie Moncrieff and Sir Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop.  All garments are displayed so that visitors can get really “Up Close” to them.  In addition each garment tells the story relating to the design, creativity and innovation required to produce wearable art to a successful competition standard.

P4160024  Our group at Expressions

The first part of the exhibition was the Bizarre Bras on show.  Everything from sharp, pointy metal bras which wouldn’t be out of place worn by a dominatrix wielding a whip and chains, to a bra fashioned from a pair of metal cockroaches.  But what could be more bizarre than making a bra from your pet budgies?  When Rocky and Rolly died, the maker fashioned a bra from the pair of green budgies, stuffing their tiny heads to use as the finishing touch on each bra cup.  How bizarre – indeed!

We wandered around the exhibition, marvelling at the materials used for these way out costumes.  Leather, wood, plastic, all types of metal, even corrugated iron was used, creating fantasies which stretched the viewers imagination.  Unfortunately, photos were not permitted inside the exhibition.

Photo courtesy of Expressions website

Next stop was a trip down to Lower Hutt to visit to Zany Zeus, cheese-makers extraordinaire.  Inspired by the way his Cypriot mother Lefki made halloumi cheese, Michael Matsis decided to research the art of cheese making. With a Food Technologist degree under his belt and years of perfecting the art of cheese-making, Michael’s dream became a reality in 2000 when he started up his first business Zany Zeus with his sister Meropi.    The company produces delicious cheese and cultured products (mascarpone, sour cream, crème fraiche, cream cheese and yoghurt), and has recently added ice-cream to the range. 

After a little cheese tasting, we couldn’t go home without purchasing some Chilli Feta and Smoked Brinza – both yummy.  And then we just had to try one of those ice-creams each.  Definitely a shop we will return to next time we are down this way – delicious products and very reasonable prices.

P4160028 Enjoying a Zany Zeus ice-cream each

Then it was on to Petone for lunch – more eating.  Sadly we had to leave the group to their afternoon adventures, we had another commitment and had to make our way home.  But it was a great morning spent with our SLG friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On the TV News again

Does anyone want our autograph?  We only ask, as once again, we made the TV news.  With the election coming up later in the year, the Opposition was throwing out ideas in the hope of attracting new voters.  They proposed cancelling all registration fees for light trailers and caravans, if they get into power.  The TV1 news team used footage which was filmed in February while we were attending the Caravan and Motor Home Show at Mystery Creek. 

We have to confess to being TV3 news watchers, so didn’t know this was on until we received a couple of texts from friends.  Luckily we could watch the delayed news broadcast to see our caravan fleetingly on TV screens once again.  My trusty camera captured these images from the TV tonight.  Being forewarned I had time to be prepared.   

P4150019 Romany Rambler on the left and fellow campers (not us) enjoying Happy Hour

P4150018Jenny with her trusty pink laundry bucket

Now, can someone tell us how to go about collecting royalties from TV1 for all this  coverage?  We may be in for quite a windfall, perhaps!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happenings in our Village

It’s been all go in our village over the last week.  The empty section next door is empty no more, the diggers have been in to level it out, then the profiles were put in place.  Concrete edging blocks were put in place around the edge, then sheets of heavy steel mesh laid in place  Then finally, the concrete trucks rumbled in, one after another,  to pump out a never ending supply of concrete.

P4110003Not nearly filled up yet

The builders are a happy bunch and spent quite some time well into the dark hours levelling off the concrete.  With that job done, more supplies will no doubt arrive very soon for the next stage of the build. 

While all this activity was going on outside, we had an electrician around to do a small job inside for us.  While we were at the planning stage of our own build, we arranged for two television plugs to be put in on different walls of the sitting room.  But, we have since decided, perhaps it would be better to site the TV on a third wall.  This meant a trip up the folding ladder to the loft space to deal with the electrics up there.

P4110005   He’s gone up the ladder

Next job was to run the wires down the wall in the garage, and cover them neatly with a capping.  Cut a small hole through the wall into the sitting room, wire everything up neatly, and then it was all done.  The TVs worked first pop without any adjustments, so that means that the job was done correctly.

P4110007 Finishing off the job

Our newly arranged sitting room seems to be working well.  Muffy certainly thinks so, anyway.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Trip to GNS

Whoever said that being retired leads to a very  busy life wasn’t kidding - we have recently joined the local 60’s Up group.   (They took our money and we were joined up straight away – no questions asked!)  The Sixties Up Movement is a body of senior members of the community made up of those who are active, usually no longer in full time employment, who meet in local branches to find new friends and activities.  One of the Movement's main objectives is to offer opportunities for members to maintain and expand their minds and bodies with social communication and educational and recreation activities.  We recently went on our first bus trip with the group, down to the Hutt Valley to GNS Science. 

P4090001 All aboard the bus

As former Hutt Valley residents we can remember when this building used to house the National Film Unit.  


Our speakers for the morning were Katie and Delia, who have an impressive range of academic achievements between them.  They welcomed us to the theatre in the facility and presented a slide show of their respective areas of research. 

P4090011 A welcome to our group on the big screen


GNS Science (formerly known as the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences)  is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute.  It focuses on geology, geophysics including seismology and volcanology, and nuclear and isotope science, and carbon dating.  As well as undertaking basic research, and operating the national geological hazards monitoring network, GNS Science is employed, both in New Zealand and overseas, by various private groups (notably energy companies), as well as central and local government agencies, to provide scientific advice and information.

The long drawn out process of Geological mapping was explained.  With many field trips made to collect rock samples and take measurements, then back to the lab to plot and collate huge amounts of data, the geological map is slowly built up.  Helicopters are used these days to drop the scientists off in remote locations, and bring back the heavy rock samples.  Things were quite different in the old days, we were told.  Geologists would go into the field with a wooden case of whisky, consume the contents while they were camped out in rugged terrain, and fill up the empty cases with rock samples.
P4090014 Whisky box from Alexander McKay Field Exhibition

Research into geological hazards is a big part of the work done at GNS.  The Tongariro eruption in 2012 opened up a new fissure and researchers advised that the popular Tongariro Crossing Walk be closed for several months while the area was monitored.

Te Maari 21/11/2012 eruption column taken from Emerald Lakes. Photo Brad Scott.Te Maari 21/11/2012 eruption column taken from Emerald Lakes.

Much work has also been done by GNS on ground surveys after the disastrous Christchurch earthquakes in 2011 and 2012.  The previously unknown fault that ruptured under the northern edge of the Port Hills was sloping back and pointing straight at Christchurch. When it ruptured, most of the energy was directed north-west toward the city.  A recently discovered physical phenomenon explains this observation. As the huge early pulses of energy travelled through horizontal layers of the earth beneath Christchurch, the weaker upper layers travelled farther upward than the stronger lower ones, and so separated from them. When these upper layers fell back under gravity, they ‘slapped’ against the lower layers coming up again, producing very high impacts.  This effect also helped to explain the widespread liquefaction in Christchurch. As the layers separated, water in subsurface layers became less bound in soils. When the slapping occurred, large amounts of water was forced up to the surface.

Stuck in a sea of liquefaction

We all felt that our minds had been expanded after the presentation given by the young researchers, our brains were trying hard to take it all in!  Next stop was to the Petone Working Mens Club for lunch, and once again we had a special welcome, with tables reserved for our group.


There was plenty of choice at the Bistro, and all very reasonably priced too.  It was a great day, and it was noted that several nodded off during the bus trip home.