Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The latest Zero Degrees Club meeting

David and I missed the latest meeting because of fog/low cloud in Tauranga and because of my inability to travel with any degree of equanimity with bratty kids (see previous post for more details). My bad ...

Anyway, it looks as though the Zero Degreezers had a fab time without us, and I am very pleased - mainly because at the time they were eating and imbibing, I was probably asleep! I do have a well deserved reputation for sleeping through parties (I once slept on a sofa bed in Jim and Judy's lounge while a ZD party was raging around me with very loud music and lots of singing and dancing, and even as recently as Friday, I slept in one of the lazyboy chairs at Kevin and Wendy's while waiting for my ride home. That time David and Bruce were also reclining and sleeping, so it wasn't only me as it usually is ...)

I wanted to post this picture so that you weren't left with the impression that the weather in Tauranga (or Katikati to be precise) is always rubbish - you can clearly see that they are eating outside and none of them look chilly.

The lovely ZD club members (not all of them but a goodly few!) From left to right:Jim, Pauline (aka Wind Me Up B*tch, as that what she does to David all the time), Jenny, Chris (these two both caringly nursed my aged aunt in her last weeks back in 2007), Helen the hostess with the mostest, Alan the host with the most, Mark and Jeff from Te Kuiti, and the inimitable Barry. Missing because she was doing her Anthony Armstrong Jones impression is Judy.

We knew some of these people before we went to the UK to live back in 2004, but all of us were in the UK together doing our silver** gap or elderly OE, and the friendships expanded to incorporate new members. The Zero Degrees Club was formed when we realised that we were all living near the meridian and none of us had a degree.
** Trust me, anyone in that group with non-grey hair uses products to make it so ...

I am going to request a copy of the minutes shortly to make sure that meeting standards were maintained.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Catching up

(I wrote this post on Sunday, but life has got in the way in the meantime. Rather than go through and change it, I decided to post it as is.)

I am now at the end of week 4 of being back into full time working and I am finally feeling as though I have a handle on the project - well, most of it! There are still bits that I don't understand but I am now standing more on my own feet instead of having to ask Mark, the former PM, what I should be doing about particular things.

I had been dreading flying down to Hokitika - little plane, Alps to cross - but it has been lovely, although I do get anxious when it's bumpy. However the bumps always seem to be as we fly over the plains, mainly because of the prevailing winds.
Mountains out the window

Those alps go on for miles!

Hokitika has had a run of fabulous weather since I've been going down there and the place is beautiful. A small town that is a tourist destination and very full in the summer months with a whole range of people coming through and staying over. It has the lovely wine bar I have posted about before and a great pizzeria called Fat Pipi's - for the non-nzers, a pipi is an edible (to some!) shellfish, collected from a short way below the surface of the sand between low and high tide marks. I haven't seen them down in Hokitika, but in North Taranaki, there are middens up in pa sites (fortified villages) with lots of discarded pipi shells. Anyway, Fat Pipi's pizzas are lovely and the service is great. Last week Kevin and I ordered a pizza, went for a walk along the beach to check out the driftwood sculptures still standing from the local competition, then walked back, picked up the pizza and went to the wine bar to eat it along with a bottle of a very nice local chardonnay. The wine bar provides plates, cutlery and serviettes, and gladwrap (clingfilm to you northern hemisphere people) and paperbags for carrying away the leftovers. (I took two pieces to work the next day for the guys on the team...)

It was the overall winner - Sea Diver. Really well done and made only with driftwood. There were lots of entries, many of them to do with mines. But this one was amazing.

If you want to see more of Hokitika, follow this link here: http://heritagemotel.co.nz/ This is the motel that I stay at. It's not on the beachfront, but it's across the road from the Dept of Conservation office where I work, and it's a two minute stroll to the river.
Across the river looking south-east, and a small part of the Southern Alps

Another small section of the Southern Alps looking north-east - the motel is back along the road to the left.
From the other side of the road is the view out to the river mouth. Next stop Australia.

It is a long weekend here in NZ - Waitangi Day (6 Feb) has been Monday-ised, so we have a three day weekend. David and I had planned to go to Tauranga to catch up with our fellow Zero Degreezers - the weekend was chosen because Barry and Pauline who have featured on the blog numerous times, are in NZ for a wedding. It was a good opportunity to have a rip roaring gathering and a very well-run meeting - we set an agenda, record everything in the minute book and then chairing the meeting is like herding cats ...

Because I am now in fulltime work, we decided that we would fly to Tauranga rather than drive as part of an extended roadtrip. So, in full sunshine here in the Wellington region, we took off for Tauranga. The air was clear and flying conditions were excellent - apart from the three loud bratty uncontrolled and ill-disciplined daughters of an incompetent loud mother sitting in the row in front of us. The youngest was about 3 years old and squawked and brayed past her dummy ... The older two scrapped and shouted and kicked the seats in front. The mother ineffectually spoke to them all, mostly saying that the steward or the lady/man in front of them 'would growl them'. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

So as I say, off we go towards Tauranga. The pilot did say that the weather was marginal there and he may not be able to land, but they'd arrange to take us to Hamilton and then put us on a bus over to Tauranga. But when we get ready to land in Tauranga, it's too cloudy, so we circle for a bit and then the pilot tells us they are taking us back to Wellington as they cannot get us a bus for us from Hamilton. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!  They'll put us on another plane to Auckland and then a bus to Tauranga - that's a one hour flight and approximately a three hour bus trip in holiday weekend traffic.  And all in the company of three loud bratty uncontrolled and ill disciplined kids and their incompetent loud mother. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Now I could have coped with them on the plane to Auckland, but sharing a bus with them? I don't damn well think so...

It was a pretty easy decision to abort the weekend's arrangements when faced with those travelling conditions. So home we came - to fantastic weather in Waikanae while it continued to rain in Tauranga for the next day or so.

That evening we reinstated an invitation to dinner at Kevin and Wendy's with Gary and Bruce and met two of K&W's friends. Then on Saturday Kapiti had the highest temperature in the country, but I spent most of the afternoon in the armchair watching movies - it was too hot to be outside, I was tired and blobbing was just what I needed. On Sunday morning I went to a couple of open homes nearby with Lynne who is staying with us at the moment, and David and I spent the arvo at Ted and Derek's in Otaki Beach meeting Ted's brother and sister in law who are out from the US on holiday.

And in the evening I had a call from the Zero Degreezers who have assembled in Katikati at Helen and Alan's place. They sent us a photo to be posted on here. It hasn't arrived yet, so don't hold your breath!
                        A ZERO DEGREES PHOTO SHOULD BE HERE!

Oh, and I forgot to say that last weekend we went to Edward and Chris's place for lunch with Gary, Bruce and Peter. David was very enamoured of the two dogs - well, any dog who likes its tummy tickled gets David's vote.
Glass of muscato on the coffee table, lovely dog to tummy rub - what more does a man need? I know: being able to wear a lime green floral shirt while seated on a Grace Kelly couch!

After lunch and a bottle of muscato, David decided to make me a cup of tea. I think it was the fact that their electric kettle is the same colour and shape as our one (not electric) on the boat that fooled him into thinking he should put it on the electric hob - or maybe it was because it is (was) branded Russell Hobb. Who knows? Whatever, it was the cause of great hilarity, once the smoke had cleared ...
Now what looks wrong about this?


Oh dear!

Dear reader, a new electric kettle has been purchased even though, amazingly, the newly moulded one with the re-shaped bum still worked,

Monday, 1 February 2016

Fly, Beach, Pool, Beach, Beach, Drive, Farm, Beach, Drive, Fly

OK, so the grandsons arrived in NZ on 30 December, and then on 30 January, they headed back to Scotland. They had a pretty good holiday, I think, spread between Waikanae and Taranaki - Opunake and Tongaporutu.

Our son, Tim was keen to have a summer holiday with real sun and warmth, not what has passed as summer in Scotland over the last couple of years.

They had more than 50% sunshine and heat, with some rainy days - just enough to balance out the possibility of extreme sunburn if the kids want to be outside all the time - and allowing time for some of the homework to be done.

We had a wonderful week with them at the beginning. 

I picked them up from the airport after 30 hours travelling and on arrival back in Waikanae the first thing Tim wanted to do was go for a swim at the beach even though it wasn't particularly sunny and warm. Cases out of the car, and off we went. Of course, I took them to the beach car park right next door to Kevin and Wendy's so while they swam and played I could go in for a chat and a drink. Then it was off to Bruce and Gary's for a shower - ours was non-operative until the following day. Home for dinner, but Karol was already asleep and it was a very early night for everyone.
That's them heading for the water - Olek is already getting in. Tide was out.

Brekkie on the first morning - see how sunny it was outside?
Grammy and Olek selfie - so good to be able to cuddle these boys!
As the boys had been taken out of school for this holiday, there was HOMEWORK!!! Olek's required ues of The New Shorter  Oxford - both volumes ...
Over the next few days it was a succession of beach and Waikanae pool visits interspersed with eating and the occasional homework session.

David and I had a lovely day with the boys at Queen Elizabeth Park near Raumati South - I am so pleased I have lost weight and am fitter, as I would not have had anywhere near as much fun, running around with water cannon, being doused and dousing in return - no photos exist of this extraordinary event as David was being an OLD granddad sitting up on the logs looking after the bags ... His excuse anyway!
Heading for the tram station stop with two shopping trolleys filled with beach gear and food.

Here comes the tram that will take us to the beach
Magnum icecreams on the tram - yum!
The happy grandparents
Olek is ready for action

Beach cricket was hilarious - both boys are accurate batters and good bowlers, and getting Olek out was difficult, dammit. However I did manage, by some fluke, to bowl him out with ball bowled on the full - it seemed to drop down on to the bails from over his head - obviously too high to whack at with the the bat.

Then it was off to Taranaki - Kirsty went with them up to Tongaporutu and she and Tim relived their childhood days there. My family have been going to Tongaporutu from when I was about 4 years old (a year or so after we arrived in NZ) and Dad and Mum built a bach there in 1960, they bought a smaller one (less maintenance) back in the late 80s which I took over with a niece when Dad decided he needed the capital. I then gifted my share to Tim and Kirsty, but as they are both now living overseas but paying two thirds of the costs and not getting any use out of it, they decided to sell. Their hearts are still there though.

Kirsty came back to Wellington and then back to Sydney and back to work; and Tim, Marta and the boys stayed on in Opunake for a couple of weeks until it was time for Marta to fly back to Scotland and back to work. While Tim was taking Marta to the airport, David and I took the opportunityto take the boys for a short walk up in Hemi Matenga - a reserve in the hills behind Waikanae. We barely scratched the surface, but will do more another day.
It's a well formed track in beautiful bush.
We played 3 Billy Goats Gruff and the Troll at most of the bridges that Karol or Olek could get under.
Checking out the pongas and birds - we saw a big fat kereru flying from tree to tree - a kereru is a native pigeon - not  rat with feathers but a beautiful bird that is protected.


Then it was back to Taranaki for Tim and the boys for the last bit of their holiday and the last opportunities for sunburn, sea and swimming. I wonder if all the homework got done ...

On Saturday 30 Jan they returned here from Taranaki and flew out that afternoon - back to the cold and rain and dark. In St John's Town of Dalry at that time it was 6 deg and windy with an average 57.5% chance of rain over the next 4 hours and 90% chance of snow after that ...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Working, boss ...

Well, despite my best intentions, I am once again in full-time, if necessarily short-term, employment! Necessarily short-term because on May 19 we are flying to the UK for our next season on nb Waka Huia.

I am doing a project management assignment which is based on the West Coast of the South Island - a beautiful part of the country, but quite different from the probably better known Queenstown,  and Doubtful and Milford Sounds. In fact the West Coast is quite similar to the northern parts of Taranaki - same geological features, same flora - just a lot more isolated and travel in by air is more frequently affected by weather. It's the Southern Alps which stop the water-laden westerly wind and cause the rain to fall on the seaward side of them that in turn create a micro climate of high rainfall, lush bush growth, and quite changeable weather. But by heck, it is very beautiful in a rugged kind of way.

My new project is managing the remediation of a former gold mining site - it was state of the art in gold mining terms at the time it was active back in the 1930s to 50s, but not so clever on keeping the ecology of the site in good shape. The West Coast was a huge mining area - coal, gold - and a huge number of NZers can claim a forebear who was involved in gold mining - indeed David can, as his great great grandfather came out from Scotland as a 16 year old, walked down from Auckland, crossed Cook Strait and walked to the West Coast to mine for gold, and then walked (I am unsure by what route) to Dunedin and then up to Akaroa where he took on two 40 acre blocks at Wainui. The loveliest part of this story is that the young woman he'd been forcibly parted from at 16 (the catholic/protestant divide) had waited for him and he sent for her - she arrived with her now widowed father and they founded the family here in NZ.

So here I am in Hokitika, and will be here regularly until we head off to the UK. I will be working partly here and partly at home and my role is to keep the project on track time-wise and budget-wise. There is a whole range of extremely competent engineers, scientists and Dept of Conservation rangers who certainly don't need more expertise in their fields, but my job is to make sure the job gets done through them, using their expertise while taking the extraneous project management/reporting to governance stuff off their shoulders.

This morning I was picked up at 6am and driven up to the site of the goldmine. Health and safety is understandably a big deal here so I was equipped with all the PPE (personal protective equipment): helmet with ear-muffs, safety glasses, steel capped boots (I bought my own as I probably have the smallest pair of feet down here), full length trousers and long sleeved top, plus a little survival kit with water, food, wet wipes.


On site wearing the helmet and earmuffs, my new steel-capped boots (very Village People) and colleague Cameron's high-vis vest. I tried not to make dents in the front of it ...
The drive out to the mine was quite long and through beautiful countryside and on the way we passed the turn off to Reefton.
This one is for Gary.

On the way back I had to have a photo taken at Melita's former home town ...

The mine site was pretty interesting and the most amazing views can be seen from it. DOC already has a few information boards in place and seeing old photos of men having their lunch 800 metres underground and others going underground in the man-cage was just a bit spooky to me! There was some drilling going on today checking for groundwater and some water sampling from nearby streams was due to take place - it's all very carefully done with GPS readings at sample sites. All of the data that has been and is being collected is being plotted on a big map and will be used to inform decision making on how the site will be remediated.

It's exciting stuff!

This evening after a governance group meeting in the afternoon, a very late lunch, and a meeting with the very clever man who does the mapping, I flew home - over the Southern Alps in a small two engined plane to Christchurch (wish I had kept my phone turned on in airplane mode and taken photos of the peaks - next time!) and then a larger plane back to Wellington. Cab to the station, and caught the train to Waikanae by the skin of my teeth, and my friend Wendy picked me up and kindly drove me home. It's now 10.45pm and I am tired, in bed with a cup of chamomile tea.

This sign was outside a lovely wine bar in Hokitika that Kevin and I went to on Tuesday.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Bathroom renovations - a work in progress

We now have two loos - just like the Lautrec class of Black Prince hire boats - named for obvious reasons by someone who liked puns ...

We'd decided earlier this year that the bathroom had to be re-done, and over the UK summer and when we got back in NZ in October/November we had thought, discussed, consulted others about how it should be. Decisions were made and we had pretty much all of the bathroom fitments ordered and delivered in the week or so before Xmas, and I had cleared the messy garage (painting gear that hadn't been sorted and put away after Joe had finished the hall, sunroom,  laundry and pantry back in November ...)  so we could have everything ready. There were two toilets, two basins, a shower unit, a shower mixer (it's the coolest looking thing ever!), taps, towel rails, loo roll holders, robe hooks, basin pop-up wastes ...

We were keen to get our favourite builder, Luke, to do the carpentry aspects of the bathroom changes so that meant him doing it during his holidays - the statutory holiday period between Xmas and New Year. We also found Mark, a young English/NZ plumber happy to work then, so it was all on to get a functioning shower, toilet and basin before the grandsons arrived on 30 December!

The provision of Ministry of Food cheese scones each morning,  an ample lunch with plenty of protein and salad as garnish only, cream doughnuts for afternoon tea, and beers at lunch and after work each day were critical factors in having happy workers. The cheese scones were Luke's request and he was keen to have them each day - they must be good then! I have got rather fast at making them ...

It's about to start so we have the boxes to decant stuff into

Shower still intact, but not for long!


So it all kicked off on 27 Dec. That first day, Luke was on his own and worked flat out stripping out the bathroom and our separate toilet - he removed the bath, the shower cubicle, the vanity unit and the toilet, as well as removing wall linings, skirting and scotia in the bathroom and the bottom half of the toilet walls.
Luke has started - the shower doors are off! the piece of glass still in place at the end of the bath is going to be part of Luke's glass house - wish I'd cleaned it more thoroughly before it came out ...


Luke loves this aspect of the job for some reason - destruction is a lot of fun, I gather.

The old toilet is a goner

Prepping the portable toilet for use in the shed for a couple of days - how very familiar to us boaters! We keep it as an earthquake preparedness measure and it came in handy for those two days.

Shower walls are gone and the bath and vanity have done a runner ...
... to the garage

Wall stripping underway - plenty of insulation in the exterior wall cavities

Householders are not allowed to touch.

He prepped one wall so an in-wall toilet cistern could be fitted in the bathroom, and moved the wiring that would be in the wrong place for the new fit out. He started the relining of the bottom half of the walls in our separate toilet - I cannot remember the name of the wall material he used, but it is a Hardies' product with a tongue and groove look, and is actually an exterior wall cladding but fine for inside as well. No point in spending big money on real wood if the t&g is going to be painted, eh? And being an exterior product it will be excellent at withstanding water in the bathroom.

So early on the morning of 28 Dec, Mark the plumber and Luke were both on deck getting the fit-out started - poor b*ggers worked all day in extreme heat as it was one of this summer's hottest days so far, and there were two hard working chaps in a small room! David set up a fan for them in the hallway, but it was of limited use given it couldn't be pointing right at them as they wouldn't have been able to come and go with ease.
Mark on the job of making the chase for the shower - naturally the waste was in a different place from the old shower

The sledge hammer came into play
Did Luke have the right tool to chip at the concrete more effectively? Of course he did!

Mark doesn't need Protective earmuffs or knee-pads - he's 29 and bullet proof!


Mark had also dug down to and exposed the sewer pipe so the outlet for the second toilet could be ducted into it.

Because it was David's mum's 92nd birthday on 29th, we were taking her for afternoon tea in Masterton.
before going to Masterton, we had morning tea with the workers - Mark on the left, Luke on the right, David in the background.


So after making and eating morning tea (more cheese scones ...) with the guys, David and I left them in the tender care of Lynne, our friend who was staying with us - she's a brave woman as with the bathroom and toilet out of action, we were using the portable toilet out in the garden shed  and showering had to take place down at Bruce and Gary's place ...

Lynne's job was to sort out their lunch and make sure there was a cold beer to accompany it. When we came home it was great to see how much progress had been made - one functioning toilet and basin in the separate toilet, the shower base,  walls and mixer were installed, pretty much all of the wall linings in the bathroom were up - that involved gib above the 1 metre line, the T&G stuff below it and a dado rail over the join, plus skirtings at the bottom.
New toilet and handbasin, plus t&g and dado fitted


And most importantly, there was a new doorway between the bathroom and our bedroom - we now have a family/ensuite bathroom; ie no traipsing down the hallway to get to the toilet in the middle of the night!

The following day, Luke did a fair bit of finishing off work and re-concreted the path that Mark had dug up the previous day. Mark had only the shower doors to fit and the second toilet in the bathroom to install and he was planning to be away home at about 1pm.
Preparing the shower doors for installation. You can see the new doorway through to our bedroom by the shower base.

Tim, Marta, Olek and Karol were due to arrive from Scotland, and it was all go getting ready for them - we were on target for having a functioning set of bathroom equipment. Then disaster struck while I was at the supermarket making sure there was enough food for the family's arrival. David phoned to tell me that the toilet Mark was about to fit didn't match the in-wall tank that had already been installed - they had been bought as a set but weren't. Oh botheration and other bad words! When I got home and Mark explained the problem, I quickly decided that the best thing was to buy a new toilet with an external cistern, leave the in-wall tank in the wall  (to remove it, Luke said, would take a fair amount of time and some new materials). As I was still preparing for TMOK's arrival, Mark headed off to buy the new toilet - fortunately, Lynne and I had been to Mitre 10 and photographed a toilet she liked that I also thought was pretty cool. So the choice was easy to make. Mark was back in 30 minutes and the new toilet was rapidly installed.
The shower has a halo head and is just fabulous


Lynne and I liked this toilet as the seat fitted well over the pan's exterior and interior shape - you'd be surprised how many don't! We reckon it's because they are designed by chaps, dare I say it, and the aspect that isn't considered in terms of form is the cleaning requirements - function over form any day, we say! It's squared off but surprisingly comfortable!

The new door - it's where the bath used to be
This is where the new vanity will be - it and the door to our bedroom are in the place where the bath was.

From the bathroom to our bedroom, via the wardrobe

Luke's temporary solution to the wardrobe deconstruction before we get a new system fitted. First talk to the wardrobe consultant, methinks!
Mark finished off as much as he could with warnings not to use the toilet or the shower till the next day to give the glue and silicon a chance to go off properly. And then Luke did a heap of finishing and cleaning - concrete dust and sawdust go everywhere - even if doors are closed, dammit!

So having a functioning set of bathroom equipment was achieved in the nick of time, but it is still very definitely a work in progress - no vanity unit in the bathroom, walls and ceiling unpainted, no vinyl on the floor and no tiling above the small basin for the separate loo. Those tasks have to wait for the exodus of the family. And I still have to order the vanity unit - I struggled before Xmas with choosing one that didn't look like every other vanity in the catalogues. But a conversation with Luke brought the realisation that unless I was keen to spend a couple of thousand dollars on one, I was going to have to choose something that was acceptable, if not sublime!Landmark strikes again!

There is a fair bit of work remaining, and Mark and Luke will complete their bits, the flooring will be fitted by the same people who will fit the carpet. But I am unsure how the painting is going to get done - I found out today that I am going to be starting a project management assignment that will keep me fully occupied till we depart for the boat in May - yikes!! How did that happen?

Monday, 28 December 2015

A blogging gap explained

Well, for a retired person I seem to have been very busy and occupied. Not that that should surprise me given how busy most retired people are that I know. David and I often remark that we don't know how we fitted work in to our lives previously, but it did help that from aged 55 David was the retired one who could handle life's administrivia while I was gainfully employed.

Christmas was a social whirl from beginning to end - those extremities seem to extend well beyond the actual day and involve much food and wine - Xmas Day was an organised pot luck for fourteen at Bruce and Gary's. We stayed over with 6 other guests, three of whom were in two camper vans, and the three other guests went home. It was a wonderful meal and lots of laughter. Nibbles and bubbles were served out on the deck prior to the meal - it was a scorching hot day here in Waikanae. We do love Xmas in the summer! Strange I know for northern hemisphere people to understand but it just feels right to us, even though most of our Christmas cards feature snow, holly, robins, etc - we are used to the contrary and contrary view of the festive season.

On Boxing Day we had visitors so it was home from B&G's after brekkie, make  a batch of cheese scones, plate up some nibbles, wine into fridge, table and chairs restored to the lawn from their lawn-mowing retreat, a quick clean up of the kitchen which had been left incomplete as we departed for B&G's the previous morning. (My schedule had forgotten to take account of bubbles and photography session at the neighbours on Xmas morning, so even though I'd been up at 7.30 to make 14 individual chocolate puddings, a large salad and to decant 3 litres of gravy into a large pot for transporting and carve two legs of lamb, I was not organised enough to get all the dishes done before we left - note to self: must improve planning skills!)

The 27th was D Day for the start of the bathroom renovation, but more of that in the next post - it requires photos and right at this minute I have to get up and get pots filled so we have access to water today and that porta potti needs emptying ...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Have Gold Card, will travel - for free!

Although my Gold Card arrived a week ago (the Monday after my birthday) today is the first day I have used it. I had an osteopath appointment in the city this morning at 9am and would have had to leave home by car about 7.30am to be sure of getting in and parked on time. As the train that would get me there in plenty of time also left at 7.30, I decided to be a passenger rather than a driver - a much cheaper option when most of the travel is free (i.e. after 9am). So I left home 15 minutes earlier to walk to the station and joined the commuters. A number of them were looking a bit jaded in the run up to the Xmas/New Year break, and I felt inordinately pleased that I was in jeans and a T-short while they were dressed for business ...

Given the travel was going to be free from 9am, I decided that after my osteopath appointment, I would also go out to Lower Hutt by train. I wanted to buy a container to feed the TV/dvd player/Apple box cords through so they don't look so untidy on the floor behind the equipment. I would rather have them reposing in a box where they may well multiply (see previous posts for my theory on the reproductive tendencies of power cords) than have them out doing so in full view!

So off on the train I went to Melling, then a 10 minute walk to the shop, a bit of faffing around as I found the box that would do the trick, a 10 minute walk back followed by half hour wait in the sunshine for the next train back to Wellington. 
A bit hard to see Wellington city in the background, but believe me it's there - this is the view down the Hutt River as I walked from Melling Station to the shopping centre. Not a cloud in the sky!

As all services were running on time today, my transfer to the Waikanae train was easy with over 10 minutes to spare. I am pleased that my usual habits of jinxing every Waikanae-bound train I have travelled on since we got here 12 months ago has let up for a bit.

The scenery on both trips was wonderful and it was a brilliantly sunny day, so Wellington Harbour looked stunning, as did Kapiti Island on my way back. As Dave Dobbyn sang several years ago you can't beat Wellington on a good day.

A view from the train as I headed back to Wellington - showing the entrance to Wellington Harbour and the airport - the flat bit of land on the RHS of the photo).

Part of Wellington city as we came along the harbour's edge.

Not the best photo but this is Kapiti Island from the Waikanae train as it goes along the side of the hills above State Highway 1 - just so you know, that is our main highway, NZ's equivalent of the M1 ... Not a lot of SH1 is dual carriageway, and a helluva lot less of it is motorway. But then, we have the population of Birmingham living in an area pretty much the same size as mainland Britain, so we don't need the roading capacity.
I was home by just after 1pm, with my mission started - to make sure I use my Gold Card as much as possible. It's lifelong and I hope my membership of the club is for a very extended period!