Last week I went to visit Jenny and Robin Benton at their home in Levin. They had recently returned from a 4 week jaunt around parts of the North Island, and invited David and me to come for afternoon tea with Geoff and Eileen Turnbull.
Geoff and Eileen have a connection with Ray and Diane Pearson's boat nb Ferndale, as they assisted in its maiden voyage when (hope I've got this right) it had a different name and was owned by another couple (Dot and Derek, yes/no?)
We met J&R, G&E a few months ago when they got in touch after reading our blog and seeing that we had moved to Waikanae. Our place is within a bull's roar of both of them - well, nearly. A mere 30 minute drive to Levin and a hip skop and jump to Te Horo where Geoff and Eileen are. They came to us for afternoon tea earlier this year, and Jenny mentioned it on her blog: http://romanyrambler.blogspot.co.nz/2015/01/meeting-crew-from-waka-huia.html
I have driven past Jenny and Robin's several times without knowing it as they are quite close to SH 57 which goes from Levin over to Palmerston North, and when my sister Dee and her husband Murray were staying in PN I drove over to spend time with Dee as often as I could. Dee and Murray have lived in their motor home for 10 years now. While they spend most of their time 'moored up' near New Plymouth, being motor-homers means they can be flexible about where they are located for Murray's truck driving assignments. They had time this summer in Picton followed by Palmerston North. Both are closer to us than New Plymouth is.
Back to last week's afternoon tea, Marilyn. Focus, girl!
So I went on my own to visit with J&R, E&G as David is flat out finishing off his Weaving Memories work prior to our heading away to the boat. He is putting in long hours each day and cannot be allowed away from his desk for pleasurable activities.
It was lovely to see them all again (lots of laughter and chat about boats, caravanning and grandchildren) and to eat home made cake and biscuits - no dinner required for me that night! Of course we did discuss toilets - David and I have ordered a composting loo, so there was much discussion about what to use in place of cocoa bean husks which Jaq Biggs (nb Valerie) tells me are becoming increasingly hard to find in the UK.** Robin told me that the ones in DOC camps here in NZ use sawdust from (probably) untreated timber and do not smell. Sounds woth investigating. And the thought of the fresh smell of sawdust being stored in the boat (probably under the bed) is appealing! Probably as nice as the smell of chocolate.
J&R gave me a tour of their home and garden, and as Jenny was showing me her quilts we discovered that we both know Leith McD who had done some machine quilting sewing/stitching for Jenny. I am not sure what it is actually called but it occurs on the giantest sewing machine I have ever seen! So there it was again - the NZ trait of 2 degrees of separation, rather than the standard 6.
I was also massively impressed with the rampant growth of their rhubarb and passionfruit. Robin mentioned horse poo. So, inspired by that, I went out yesterday and paid $2 for a $1 bag of equine excrement on Paetawa Rd a few kms from us (didn't have correct change and it's still a bargain). A few plops of it are now in a bucket filled with water, and horse poo tea is being brewed for pouring around said rhubarb and passionfruit vine. I brought the rhubarb plant up from Cherswud, suitably split and distributed to friends. And our plant hasn't been keeping up with its previous growth rate. We DID used to regularly feed it with horse poo tea, concocted from the neighbours' daughter in law's horses' poo, but hadn't continued the practice here. I guess I had thought that Waikanae has such fertile growing conditions that additional help wasn't required. But both rhubarb and passionfruit are gross feeders. So poo will be applied.
** We went to see Derek and Ted on Saturday morning to check out their new (to them) campervan. (The visit comprised a tour, breakfast and then back home so David could be set to work again.) Their camper doesn't have a composting toilet (cassette instead). However in their garage, their trailer has 4 giant sacks of cocoa bean husks waiting to be used in their garden ... I wonder if I could bring one over to the UK as hand luggage or as one of our baggage allowance items?