Monday, 20 June 2022

Our first overseas travel for some time ...

On 7 June we came back from 5 days in Sydney - our first venture away from NZ since October 2019. Wow! That is the longest we have stayed in NZ for many years, I think.

David trying to find a way to use his noise cancelling headphones wirelessly in the plane's video system. The airline's headphones are too big for his ears - the noise cancelling ones could not be connected (it was the only cord he didn't bring ...) so I peeled the foam rubber bits off his airline ones and they sufficed unto the day.

 

Not a hugely active or sightseeing trip, but pleasurable - the main purpose was to see the lovely daughter and her new (to her) flat. It's her first home ownership and we had to go and see it, didn't we? It's got just the one bedroom so we couldn't stay with her, but that was fine. Verdict: small but perfectly formed. 1960s building, I think. She's on the upper floor (1st floor in NZ parlance, 2nd floor for those of the US persuasion). And one of the most important things is that the flat has excellent sun.

Sydney's suburbs are very green - lots of trees in gardens and along the streets; and we were delighted to see that Kirsty's suburb seems to be even more covered in trees than others.


See? Trees, green, more trees, more green.

 The Airbnb we stayed in in Marrickville was cool - a one bedroom cottage right next to the Marrickville Oval. With trees in the front of it, as you can see in the photo below. And across the park was a wonderful cafe where we ate breakfast on two days. 

That is David coming back across the park. Our airbnb is behind that wodden fence - the house has a green roof that you can see behind the croquet pavilion.


Breakfast at the cafe across the park, recommended by our hostess. David had scrambled eggs with ginger and a salad. Very yummy, I understand.

I cannot remember what mine was but it was pretty good - although I am not keen on eggs poached in vinegar and water. Far prefer the salt option for setting the whites myself.

We did a fair amount of walking - about 13000 steps on one day and 11000 on at least one more.

On Friday we had walked up to the IGA supermarket in Marrickville - lovely shop, great chat with the owner, but food is not cheap in Sydney, regardless of what people say. 

 

Nice houses on the way back from the IGA, I think.
Not sure where I saw this, but it did make me laugh!

 

On the way back laden down with enough groceries for twice the length of our stay, we chatted with a woman who was sweeping her porch... She used to live in Auckland (I extended my sympathies). Anyway she suggested that we may like to take a trip in to the city on the new light rail service. Yes we would, so we dropped the groceries off at the bnb and then walked over to Dulwich Hill Station. 

You can pay for public transport (well the trains and light rail at least) by tapping on and off using your credit card - great idea!

I asked a guy to take a photo of us - see below. And then he gave us a travelling commentary all the way into the city - very interesting.

Masks on all the way, that's us - we are good and well behaved


At Central Station, we got off the light rail carriage, walked about 10 metres down the platform and then got back on the train again to head back. 

That evening Kirsty asked about our day and was very amused, in that way that adult children have about the activities of their elderly parents, when we told her about chatting with:

  • two women in the cafe where we had breakfast
  • the owner of the IGA supermarket (he loves NZ fruit)
  • the proprietor of the Thai restaurant we'd had a takeaway delivery from the previous night - the restaurant is next door to the IGA so David popped in to tell them how much we had enjoyed the meal
  • the lady sweeping her porch
  • every dog we saw and most of their humans
  • the chap on the light rail.

On Saturday, after seeing Kirsty's flat and walking to and around Campsie, we ubered to somewhere near Newtown and had a yummy late lunch at restaurant called Little Turtle - a Thai vegetarian place. The food was delicious.

Sunday we had lunch in a cafe down on Circular Quay and then went to a Vivid Sydney event - A Conversation with Baz Luhrman. A really interesting session in the State Theatre. I need to find his films and watch them. And we will go to see the movie he was talking about in the theatre - Elvis, if for no other reason than to see Tom Hanks playing Colonel Parker.

On our way back from the station to the airbnb, the sun was about to set. Just beautiful.

Lovely, eh?

But on the Monday I was poorly - we had intended to head in to Circular Quay and then get a ferry to Watson's Bay for a wander around. But as we left the cafe across the park, I needed to dash back to the cottage. I think I may have been afflicted with a bout of food poisoning from the cafe on Circular Quay the previous day, dammit. 

So David headed up to the pharmacy to buy immodium and electrolyte tabs for me and I stayed close to the dunny😅😈😉

I was still afflicted on Tuesday when we were flying back to NZ - which is a bit dodgy when travelling. But I had an aisle seat so it was fine, just a tad embarrassing that I was the one out of my seat the most ... 😅😈😉

Lovely flight home, very smooth, then a good quick drive out of the city, even though it was rush hour. Transmission Gully makes an enormous difference, even if the hills eat up more petrol!

So back to work on the Wednesday morning and it's been all go in the 12 days since. At least I am earning more dollars for more flights. And that is necessary now that David has declared he is definitely travelling business class when we head to the UK next year!

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Falafel and Hummus

 ACP** made falafel and hummus today.

** A Certain Person, aka the husband

I wish I had thought to be insensitive and take a photo of the six identical bowls with an identical amount of chickpeas in each - yes, he weighed them. The six bowls were to make sure he didn't overload Russell (Hobbs, the food processor). And that kind of precision was required because, heaven forfend that an additional chickpea or two might find its way into Russell if he used my slapdash method of using about a cup and a bit (where 'a bit' is not quantified to the last chickpea).

There were aspects that needed consultation with she of slapdash methods:

  • should the 1/4 inch thick parsley stalks be used or not?
  • does it matter if the spices go in Russell in unequal amounts with meticulously measured chickpeas?
  • etc
  • etc

All this consultation while I was working in my office adjacent to the kitchen...

Anyway, once the mixture was created and mixed up by hand in a large bowl where the contents of the original 6 bowls ended up via the bowl and choppers of Russell, it too was shared out into two bowls and meticulously weighed so there was an equal amount assigned to falafel and to hummus. Down to the nearest gram he proclaims proudly, if pedantically!

Here he is with the kitchen carnage - which he did clean up by himself luckily - for him... In the sink are 6 bowls that he used for chickpeas, 2 bowls that he used for measured out spices, and parsley/mint. Olive oil still on the windowsill, and the ornamental chickens from Bruges looking on in horror!

The two full bowls (each meticulously weighed - did I mention that?) beside him are about to be transformed at lightning speed where lightning is the slowest thing on the planet, into a beautifully patted down container of hummus, and 20 falafel.


 

I do love him, honest. And he does make me laugh, just as long as I don't have to be in the kitchen watching him work!

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Fly and drive

 Last week was my first work trip for ages - 3 days in Auckland. I flew from Palmerston North, having completely forgotten that I could have flown from Kapiti Airport in Paraparaumu, a mere 15 minutes from home. Instead I drove to Palmerston North, having forgotten how long it used to take me to drive it. Or maybe it was longer because I left home at 7am instead of 5am, and there was more traffic... 

The flight up was fine - smooth, no bumps, happiness - well, at least no fear.

The 3 work days were really good and very useful and worthwhile:

  • two meeting/workshops about change,
  • a 6 hour long tour of the labs and the greenhouses, and
  • a team building workshop.

However the weather on the final day was appalling with storms all down the country, thunder storms, strong winds - all the things that made flying just far far too scary for me.

So I kept the rental car I'd had for the 3 days and drove back. Driving for about 8 or 9 hours was preferable to flying for 1 hour 15 minutes and being terrified before and during the flight.

I drove to Taupo on the Thursday late arvo/evening and stayed with Colleen. That part of the trip was not without incident. David had been tracking my phone and we had been speaking frequently throughout the drive. But at about Wairakei my phone cut out - it was still going, but I had no internet and no phone reception.

While he was worrying about me, I was trying to find Colleen's address and the way there. I had to ask at a local service station in Taupo - and the woman was kind but ultra slow and I was desperate for a pee... 

When I arrived at Colleen's she told me I had to phone David immediately on her phone to let him know I had arrived. It was clear he was very distraught. 😨😱😰

In the middle of the night, when I woke, my phone was still playing up. So I switched it off and then on again - the Universal Reset. Suddenly, messages, internet, mail, service! Doh!!

Note to self - next time my phone cuts out, Universal Reset has to be the first action!

In the morning, I headed away south. The weather wasn't too bad but there were huge banks of black cloud ahead. On the Desert Road it was cold (6 degrees) and the wind chill would have been severe.

Driving to the pot of gold ... The second rainbow was not the only one - there was a fainter third one off to the left too!

I thought about stopping for something to eat but it rained in every town I thought may be a possibility. 😉😈😆 

From just south of Sanson the rain was torrential all the way home.

Levin had a detour away from the main street - it turned out they had had a tornado at about 6.30am. I passed one of the streets it had hit - two trees uprooted, fences ripped up and a garage torn down.

Not a pleasant drive, all in all. However I spoke with Kevin and he said it was a good thing I chose to drive. He said it was the absolute worst landing he'd ever had in all his years of flying ...

In case I picked up a COVID infection while I was in Auckland (very unlikely as I wore an N95 mask pretty much constantly) I am isolating from David - he is ensconced in the motorhome and I am in the house: his choice, trust me. I was going to stay in the motorhome but he wanted to.

Tomorrow morning is the great reunion! Yay!!

 


Saturday, 14 May 2022

Should I worry?

Yesterday we rode our bikes down to have lunch at our friend Rachel's place.

David had got the bikes ready while I was doing something else that was vital - well, I think it was vital but that is only my opinion, to be fair. I am fairly sure I was getting the sourdough starter ready for making bread - it has come out of the fridge, have some poured out and down the sink, and then the jar goes into the airing cupboard to warm up so I can feed it.

All ready to go, my bike bag on my carrier complete with rain jacket because rain was due in the next few hours, David had his jacket rolled up on his carrier. Just about to switch on and David said he'd have a last pee - always a good idea for a man without a prostate. 

So pee done, and off we went down to Waikanae Beach - a good ride but not as peaceful or traffic-free as it is at 8 or 8.30 on a Saturday or Sunday. 

Lovely lunch with Rachel, Bruce, Gary and David R, all of whom live next door to Rachel and through whom we met her some years ago.

The rain had started but was intermittent so we got back into our biking stuff - I put back on my merino extra-long sleeved top with the hole for my thumb (a good substitute for fingerless gloves), my scarf, and my rain jacket, David put on his rain jacket and off we went. A much quieter trip back traffic-wise, as we used a shared cycle/pedestrian path beside the road and detoured using Park Road which has a VERY wide cycle path (plenty of room for a car to be parked and cycles to get past without going in the car lane). 

We arrive home, David starts looking for the key. Not in his pockets, and I know he didn't give it to me to put in my bag. Aha, I see it ...

Should I be worried?

Julia was at Debdale last week and saw this ...

Today I am on bread making - the starter was so vigorous when I fed it yesterday that I couldn't bear to put most of it back into the fridge to languish, so I made three lots of leaven/poolish.  This morning, I've got three large bowls of dough proving; so that'll be 3 small loaves, and 4 large ones.  They will get baked later this afternoon.

Vegetable soup is on the go, and dinner tonight is going to be a sort of lasagne made with left over pasta spirals, some mushroom gravy and a tomato mix with roast veg and silverbeet. Hopefully it'll taste okay ...

Monday, 9 May 2022

Exercising the brain and the body

I am not sure if I have mentioned it, but I am doing another piece of work - for upwards of four months, I think. The same kind of work I often do re preparing project management documentation. Each time though it is for a different organisation and it starts out as incredibly scary, because I don't know the organisation and I know even less about the content of the project. That feeling doesn't last long, but it's spooky while it's around ...

I'm developing a Benefits Realisation Plan and a Change Management Plan for a Detailed Business Case. Both of them require plenty of interaction with people and workshops and discussions and writing - and lots of thinking using common sense. I am fortunate that I appear to have a modicum of that ...

So I have been busy and I still am. However the weather for the first weekend in May was forecast to be sunny but chilly in the mornings. So we decided doing some biking would be a good thing and it would be good to be doing it somewhere that isn't Waikanae, i.e. exploring  bike tracks suitable for old people on e-bikes in a different place. So Palmerston North it was as it's only about an hour away from Waikanae - and we could call in to Levin VTNZ to get a COF on the way. 

PN is a very flat city and very conducive to biking. It has thousands of uni students and they all seem to bike everywhere.

The PN Holiday Park, which we have stayed in before (I first stayed there with the grandsons some years ago - must have been early 2018, I think), is right next to the Manawatu River which has a cycle/pedestrian path next to it on both sides.

It's autumn ...

Lovely possie - sunshine, shade, lovely autumn colours.

The first trip (Saturday morning) was out of the holiday park, across the bridge, and then turn right towards Linton. A good track but SCARY in places because it had steep hilly bits - PN is MEANT to be flat - and lots of corners with gravel. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! But I didn't fall off even though I was very scared** that I would. And it would not have been a soft landing on spongy grass like it has been both times I've fallen off near the Waikanae River.

 ** I have plenty of common sense but also an extremely over-active imagination, so I can see and feel disasters before they happen, or don't happen but could ...

The scary track was on the other side of the river out of view from this position. This side is very benign. Lots of dogs to chat to ...
David is trying to get his headphones to work so we can keep chatting on the phone while we ride. It's lovely and feels less isolated as an activity when we chat - and I am his early warning system.


David however managed to fall off from a stationary position just off the sealed path, on the grass on the civilised side of the river. I heard it, but didn't see it and was too late to take a photo of him spreadeagled on the ground, dammit. He, unlike when I have fallen off on the grass twice, was not laughing. And he has been complaining since that his chest and neck hurt. I did go and buy him an icecream to compensate for the pain. He enjoyed it but...

I belatedly dosed him up on paracetamol and magnesium and it was still earlier than most people's dinner time and he was off to bed.

Fortunately he was better on the Sunday morning, because there was another bike ride in the offing - this time we turned left before the bridge and rode and rode and rode until the path almost ran out. We had headed off earlier than on the Saturday because we thought the track could be crowded - it is a very popular walkway and a great place to take dogs. And because it was early, it was bloody freezing! The sun was just out, but much of the path was through wooded areas, therefore shady. And as we were moving quite rapidly, we set up our own wind chill factor. Neither of us were wearing quite enough clothes - one more layer would have been much nicer. So when we got back we were both very chilly. But the ride was lovely - exhilarating and fun.

We would go back to that holiday park and do those rides again - even the scary one, as long as it wasn't wet underfoot - my fertile imagination tells me that damp autumn leaf fall, damp pine needles have very skid inducing tendencies ...

After a late breakfast and before we headed home, we drove over to Feilding and spent a lovely couple of hours with Phil and Oriel. I used to stay at their B&B in Rewa when I was working at PEC in Marton. They were fabulous hosts and lovely friends. However we haven't seen them for some time, COVID and lockdowns having put paid to extensive socialising. So seeing them again was great. Neither of them seem to have changed much - Phil is now 92 and looks no different apart from hearing aids and he uses a stick to stay steady while walking. He tells me it is only about 3 months since he last went up to the farm to do some tractor work - driving it is fine, he said, but it's the getting up and down that is the difficult part. 

I'm not sure when we will go away again, but the cover is still off, so maybe we'll head away for a night in the next couple of weeks. We do like it!

By the way, we are just coming to the end of feijoa season here in Waikanae. I LOVE them. We have two little trees courtesy of John next door who planted them for us on our boundary. They had about 16 all up. But John has been bringing some of his over for the last few weeks - they have a feijoa hedge by their house. And I've been scrumping around the neighbourhood too. One day I reckon I collected about 3 kilos of them, and 2 kilos the next day.

The first haul which I collected in the pockets of my top. Fortunately it has big pockets, but I had to come home to drop them off.
And the second haul that first morning - they were collected in my cream silk scarf... Needs must!

And I found a person down near Waikanae Beach who obviously had lots she wasn't making use of so I went to collect 4 kilos from her. She definitely deserved (and was given) a jar of jelly!

I've been eating several feijoas every day for brekkie with yoghurt and my home made muesli. And I've made about 9 jars of feijoa jelly (fabulous on sourdough bread, or on crackers with cheese), and 8 jars of feijoa, rhubarb and apple chutney. I've given away some jars of jelly, but only made the chutney this last weekend and apparently it needs to sit for a month or so before being used. I'll give a jar to John and Jenny when it's ready.

I've still got two large bowls of fresh feijoas left even though David peeled and froze a couple of bags of them so we have some to use in winter - feijoa crumble, stewed feijoas with yoghurt, feijoa cake... My yummy breakfasts should continue for a wee while yet. And then hopefully we will be into tamarillo season - yay!!!


Sunday, 10 April 2022

A long overdue catch up

It is ages since I posted - our weekend away was at the beginning of February and we are now almost at Easter.

Lots has been happening and while I have written lots of posts in my head, I haven't managed to get them into the blog. Usually because I write them when I am out walking or when I am driving or when I'm in the shower - and none of those are places where it's wise to have the laptop...

About 7 weeks ago, we had another weekend away in the  motorhome - we went to Himatangi Beach about an hour and a half up the coast from us. Peaceful place, quaint holiday park with lovely people running it. The village is definitely 90% baches and a few large new homes that can only be called beach houses. I've described the difference between a bach and a beach house before, so won't repeat myself... for a change.

While we were there and out on a walk, we had a text from our friend Julia asking us to call as she had bad news. She certainly did and it was a huge shock to hear that her husband Mick had died that morning - winding the boat at Welford. Given he could easily stand up in the water, it's most likely he had a heart attack or stroke that caused him to fall in and he died.

Mick was a very good friend to us and I have blogged about travels with Julia and him, as well as with Laughing John, as well as the work that Mick did on our boat.

You can read about the amazing job done when Mick and Julia helped us to get up to Birmingham for David's eye operation here

And this is the last boating photo we have of them here 

It seems very strange and hard to believe that we won't see him again or hear his voice on the phone when he calls.

David is probably going to the UK for a month and will see Julia while he is there. I think then the reality will hit.

On Saturday this weekend just gone, we went to Masterton for a treat weekend - decided to stay in a hotel and take the bikes so we could do some little adventures in Greytown and then in Masterton. David would visit an old family friend in a rest home and we would meet up with another friend for dinner.

Well, best laid plans and all that:

Firstly we had a disaster with the bike rack - we had forgotten that the u-shaped piece that holds the bikes upright had to be wiggled down into their seats in the frame and then secured. So we put the bikes on and drove away (it sounds like that was a quick process, but don't be fooled - we spent ages trying to get them sorted ...). About a kilometre down the road I hear a tooting behind us and look in the rear mirror and see the bikes are lying down because, with the weight of the bikes, the U-shpaed piece is leaning back - not seated properly, see. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Pull over, get them off - difficult as they are very tight against the wheel straps and difficult to access. We still haven't sussed that we needed to aggressively jiggle the U-shaped piece down into position. So we ride the bikes home, and John our neighbour drove me back down to collect the car. John assertively jiggles the U piece into position, and away I go home. But David and I are so shaken up that we decide not to take the bikes.

Off we go, much later than planned. We get to Carterton and I am overheating so I ask David to get my arm out of my sleeve so I can take my cardigan off. He pulls on my arm instead of my sleeve, and when I tell him not to be dumb, he gets angry. Seemed totally unreasonable to me - it was a dumb thing to do - how the hell was that going to a) help me get my cardigan off, and b) contribute to safe driving of the car as I am pulled over to the passenger side? 

Silent but extremely toxic marital discord ensues. I drop him off at the rest home to visit Janine and head back to check in at the hotel after calling in at a supermarket. I check in, and foolishly pay in advance. Get to the room and it is small and dark, but I take a chair and sit outside, but the traffic noise is not too loud but in my grumpy state it's annoying.

I go and pick David up and back we go to the hotel. The traffic noise gets louder. I go to ask if we can swap rooms. The hotel is fully booked I am told - the Drag Racing Champs are on tonight and they have lots of people staying for that. 

Deep fucking joy! Traffic noise from State Highway 2 outside the hotel, plus drag racing car noises from less than a kilometre away. Triple AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

So I ask David would he mind if we went home after dinner. He suggests that we cancel dinner and go home now. So we do. A lovely drive home in the setting sun with the light falling on the ranges in the west.

Bliss to be home in our own bed, no drag car noises, a bigger room.

And a bike ride on Sunday morning from home. Lovely - even though I did fall off in exactly the same place I'd fallen previously - no damage because it was on to soft pampas grass stuff - I had crossed a small foot bridge and then had to turn left up a narrow channel-like path that was uphill - fell off as I was telling David that this was where I fell off last time - great gales of laughter from us both, and I lay there for a while unable to get up as I was laughing too much. Let's hope that if I fall off in future it's in places like that!


Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Exploring the centre of the island

 It was a long weekend here in NZ on 5, 6 7 Feb - Waitangi Weekend - and we were away in the motorhome. We were careful with socialising and making sure we were only in places with other vaccinated people. Omicron is in NZ and we recognise that we will probably get it eventually, but seriously, we would rather not!

We drove up on Thursday 4 Feb from home to Ongarue to stay with Linda and Graham. Linda is my former sister in law, and we have been good friends for many years.

The drive up had a stuttery start - there were errands to run on the way:

  • Firstly we called in to the Mobil Service Station at Waikanae to check the tyre pressures and lower them. We had thought they had to be at 80psi, which it turns out is the maximum, rather than the recommended level for a comfortable ride. We tried them out at 70psi - pretty good as it turns out
  • We had to call in to Gypsy Caravans in Levin to return a water filler cap that we had bought without taking our original broken one in to compare it with. 
  • Then we stopped at Palmerston North (a bit of an off track detour) to collect an orthopedic cushion - with a gap at the back to save my coccyx from being bounced on. Didn't work but it did raise me a couple of inches higher in the seat - not that cool. Of course, David tried the cushion and loved being elevated - far above his station, if you ask me...
  • Lunch at Sanson.

Considering we had thought (can't actually say we planned ...) we would leave home fairly early, ending up having lunch less than 2 hours away from home at 1.30pm was a bit of a failure ...

And to be frank, I had forgotten how far away the centre of the island is! It may be a long way away, but it is spectacular.

Mt Ruapehu from SH1

Mt Ruapehu from SH4 - having turned left at Waiouru

The Makatote Viaduct - pretty impressive. The roadway goes down the into the valley, around a few corners with a sharp bend at the bottom, and then up the other side. The train, of course, goes straight over the top ...

Looks impressive, doesn't it? It's a massive piece of engineering.
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Read all about it, Read all about it ...


I had promised to bring dinner to L&G's, so given our stuttery start, once we were out of Sanson, we had to keep going rather than stopping off to look at places of interest. We decided the trip home was going to be slow so we could spend time investigating.

But the trip was unavoidably delayed just before Taihape. We came around a corner and started down the hill, when three vehicles approached and one of them threw a fairly sizable stone from under its tyre. I know it was sizeable because I could see it coming towards me! It hit the windscreen with a helluva bang. I actually think it may well have been an asteroid ...

So we stopped at Taihape at an auto-glazier who taped it up for us. Then he very kindly gave us a roll of tape and a razor blade in case we need to replace it.

The taped up injury to the windscreen. It turns out that these windscreens have two layers of glass with a sheet of plastic in between. Damn fine idea, I reckon!

Graham is a sheep dog trialist and his dogs are very precious to him, even though he keeps saying he'd like to give up trialing ... The dogs are definitely not pets but they lounge around on their individual blankets on the deck. They are the best behaved dogs I've seen anywhere.

The property that L&G have only owned for a year has been transformed since their arrival. It was apparently covered in blackberry up and over most of the house, all through the formed gardens close to the house and across a fair amount of the rest of the acreage. They have done a huge job in clearing it, and Linda has re-established the garden. The grapevine is amazing and covered in grapes getting ready to ripen - unlike mine! She did say to me in the morning that she should have taken advantage of the fine weather spell and put a coat of stain on the house ... I wasn't quite sure which hours of what night she would have done it in, but she is definitely a hard worker.

Linda and Lu the huntaway heading down to the bottom of the property - the stream, the hole in one, the seat. I doubt that either Linda or Graham has sat down there: too too busy!

 

The house from only part way down the hill. L&G added the large verandah.

 

Apparently the river was very low on our first day there - there had been no rain for a month or so. That meant the waterfall wasn't.

 

Linda had cleared blackberry from everywhere you can see on this photo.

 

The dogs' blankets. The canines have pride of place on the deck and are so very well behaved.

 We headed back to Taumaranui late in the morning and promised that we would come back to stay again before we headed home - Graham had dog trials in Whangamomona and had said goodbye to us at 6.45am so we hadn't had much time with him. 

Judy had told me of a shop in Taumaranui that she had bought some clothes in the previous week and they had a sale. So of course I had to check that out. Nothing that interested me as I was only looking for shorts in a lightweight material - no shorts at all. But I had passed a place called TMP Fashions that had a nice shirt for David in the window. So I went in to the shop and as I made my way towards the counter I espied Vassalli jeans! Yay!!! And a pair of shorts. Yay again. So three purchases from a shop in the centre of the North Island in a town that most people could not pinpoint on a map.

Then it was hunt for the supermarket - it has moved to a pop-up site because the original one was too small with a very awkward carpark. A new one is being built on the same site with additional space having been purchased; but in the meantime, where the hell was it located now? Google Maps to the rescue.

It was incredibly hot but I still left David in the motorhome while I went in and scooped up groceries that we didn't have, and some that were impulse purchases, of course. Like the watermelon and the several bottles of ginger beer.

Then David was keen to empty the toilet cassette which had only been used for one night, and we did have a spare empty one with us. But sometimes it's not worth arguing about whether it's on the critical path, now is it?

Jim and Judy found us while we were at the dump-station and we followed them to Owhango, stopping part of the way there at the Paritai look out to see the very long train going past below us and beside the river. 

 

Judy said that in all the time they lived in the area (Owhango where Jim was principal) she hardly ever saw a train going past this point.

Team Tulloch: Judy, Jim and Tom the labrador outside the lodge

Judy had given me instructions on how to find Brock's Farm and I had asked our friend David R if it was the same area as his former trapline (for rats, stoats, anything predatory and small) in the adjoining bush. So I sort of knew where we were going. What I didn't realise was quite how spooked I would be by the farm track that we drove down to get to the Lodge! It was bumpy, gravelly, windy and narrow. And I spent the next few days worrying like crazy about whether I'd be able to get back up it. The fact that we went up and down a couple of times with Jim and Judy in their truck did little to allay my fears. slightly more effective was Bill, the farm owner, telling me it had been the track down to a timber mill and that logging trucks used to use it constantly. But still I worried. And of course, then the large rain storm arrived and kept going for about 36 hours, so I worried about slips ... My imagination is far too powerful!

Anyway, being at the Lodge was lovely. It was just Jim, Judy, David and me. J&J slept in the lodge and we slept in the motorhome. We had electricity, they did not ... 😊😉 Judy had thought there was a generator there, but no. So we lent them a couple of little torches we have in the motorhome. And all cooking was on portable gas camp elements or the BBQ.

 

Adair and John had arrived. David was checking out the pink cross on the bum of Adair's pants ... There's the motorhome, down where there was a modicum of shade available under the trees. We had scones there...

John has a lung disease which makes him extremely breathless on very little exertion. So he now has two mobility scooters: this is his indoors version. It folds up and can easily go in the back of a car. While we went walking, John was in charge of the lodge ...

Adair and John came to visit on the Saturday and Bill and Carol (the owners) came down for cheese scones, and then later for dinner which was cooked on the BBQ indoors because it was persisting down, and there is definitely an age limit on blokes standing outside BBQing in the rain.

In between scones and dinner, while it was still sunny, we had a walk through the bush to the river and saw in the distance the whio, the native blue ducks. We walked across the lagoon on the boardwalk our friend David R (the aforementioned one of the trapline), we hugged trees, and enjoyed the quiet and the company.

Looking up the Whakapapa River. Good view of Adair's pink cross ...

Somewhere up there in the river, near the rocks there are whio - honestly there are!

 
Hippy Judy

Hippy Adair

By the totara tree - Jim had gone back by this time because Tom wasn't allowed off the lead in the bush and he was a bit unhappy - he needed a swim in the river away from the possibility of whio, given he's a retrieving kind of dog ...

Back from the walk and the rains came down! Our timing was impeccable! So then it was on to dinner prep - see the women in the kitchen!

A platter of nibbles behind the stainless steel butter dish, and the vegetable kebabs I prepared. Adair and Judy toiling away.

Two photos of the kebabs because I was very impressed with them and I want you to be too!

On Sunday morning, Jim, Judy and I went to the local market in the village hall. Judy found some old friends and acquaintances (somehow I don't think we could go anywhere in NZ without Judy finding old friends...) so while she chatted, Jim and I went next door for coffee at the Blue Hill Cafe.

Then in the afternoon it was up to Bill and Carol's for afternoon tea: Judy had brought a lovely ginger loaf and I had baked a cake and brought it with us. For the life of me, I cannot remember what it was! I do remember that it was yummy though, as was Judy's loaf. Recipe required! 

On Monday when we left, we all had breakfast together at the cafe - David R had recommended it, so we were obliged really... A great place. If you are heading through on SH4, do stop there. Lovely food, great service.

After breakfast, across the road from the cafe, David is at latitude 39 deg south.

These are the Owhango public toilets. The photo on their doors is of the boardwalk we crossed at the lagoon in the bush - our friend David R helped to build it.

I know there have been no photos of me so far but I definitely was there!

Then it was back to Ongarue to see Linda and Graham again. 

David refused to play Pictionary with Linda and me - he had been severely trounced by us years ago. Linda is an artist of some note and I am a good guesser, plus when it's my turn to draw, I don't aim for tentative strokes. After all, I am the teacher who showed kids that almost any person, animal, bird or creature can be drawn as a series of balloon shapes. In the case of sheep, it's fluffy cloud shapes...

So it was 5 Crowns and Up and Down the River. Graham was consistent in that he moaned all the way through each hand and then won lots of them - bastard.

Then it was petanque - they have a petanque court, although avoiding the sheep and rabbit shit was a bit of a challenge at times!

Waterlilies - beautiful!

 

Getting ready for petanque...

Speaking of rabbits - these two people are so soft hearted that they cannot kill the rabbits! What is that about? Next time we go, I'm going to take poison or traps or something! Rabbits are an anathema. I know people in the UK love them as do people in the US. But here, they are a bloody pest!

Fabulous to spend time with Linda and Graham and we need to do more of it!