Friday, 23 February 2018

And up north we went



When I wrote this we were in West Auckland to attend Melita’s wedding to Richie. I was on a mission to deliver hugs to several guests from Tim, from Marta and from Diane and Luke.

David was on a mission to finish up his Weaving Memories work by 8 Feb, as we were setting off on the 9th. So he was as busy as a proverbial bee for several weeks and was not allowed to leave the hive at all, apart from social engagement. He was excused vegetable prep duties when we had guests and was given leave to appear only as they arrived at the front door. Seriously! He did however still do the dishes after dinners with others, but as I as lying around moaning faintly most of the rest of the time, I took on all household duties, such as they were – the occasional sweep and mop of the floors, cleaning toilets, doing washing …

I made a dress to wear to the wedding – with expert assistance from Jane, the former wardrobe mistress at NZ’s Ballet and Opera Company. Jane’s role was to adapt the pattern so that it had one front piece instead of three. The dress looks quite good, but is not my best ever sewing. However it would look better if there was less of me. It travelled north with us, carefully ironed before departure, but was not going to be worn to the wedding. I felt far too portly in it, so purchased a shirt that I wore with long jeans shorts. The invitation said smart casual, and I think I passed muster, esp as I wore my gold shoes … And the jeans shorts are quite smart – well, so I told myself!

We had Jack and Sarah to stay in their motorhome for a couple of nights before we headed northwards. It is always good to see them. They are doing the Grand Tour of the North Island and have decided that they want to trade up their motorhome to something a bit more fitting to Jack’s dignity and gravitas. So Sarah has listed theirs on TradeMe (NZ’s precursor to Ebay). Update as on 23 Feb: Sarah texted a photo yesterday of a new motorhome they had just taken delivery of in Hamilton, having got a good deal on Transit as a trade in. They are now proud owners of a Swift Escape complete with island bed! Yay!!

For our trip northwards, we set off on Saturday afternoon and headed to Feilding to stay with Oriel and Phil. I used to B&B with them when I was working in Marton in the early 2000s and they were farming in Rewa. They became and remained friends and David and I love to see them. As usual it was a laugh a minute, with more good food and great company. They had just celebrated their 60th anniversary, and Oriel told me, in Phil’s hearing (otherwise what is the point?) that if he dies before her she won’t bother with another man – they take too much training, she said. She reckons she almost has Phil sorted, and she’s not prepared to put in another 60 years on another one …

On our way to Waitara we stopped at Cameron Blockhouse just north of Kaitoke. For many years we had passed the brown sign and each time I thought that I wanted to stop and see it. However we were always on a mission to get somewhere or other. But now we had 6 days to get to Auckland, so what was the hurry?

The blockhouse looks quite ordinary from the outside - a windowless weatherboard building and quite unremarkable. But from the inside you can see the thickness of the walls built to withstand gunfire and fire - it wasn't ever put to the test, but white settlers who had taken land from Maori were at risk of retaliation in the Land Wars - and rightly so!

We had two nights with my sister Dee and Murray in Waitara, and I proved that my Weber BBQ skill, although doubtful with stuffed chicken breasts, is fine with roasts – lamb the first night, and pork the second. The oven in the motorhome does a fine job on roast veges too – it seems to be more efficient than the boat oven – probably to do with age … It was lovely catching up with them again, and spending some time with their son Kurt. He and David had a conversation over the dishes in the camp kitchen about chem trails. I am going to have to look into this subject. Does anyone know much about this issue?

The next stop was scheduled to be Little Waipa Reserve, a freedom camping area beside Lake Karapiro, recommended by Murray and Dee. However on our way north the rain was so heavy at times that we decided to stop early. So we stayed in a parkover property (a POP) in Otorohanga. There we were parked on hardstanding beside a house out on a dairy farm. So lots of cows mooing, birds singing, flies trying to get inside … After the roasts of the previous two nights, it was nibbles for dinner and early to bed.

We decided we had to check out Little Waipa Reserve on our way north, so we stopped there for lunch and a nap for David. It is a very lovely place, and we planned to (and did) stay there on our journey south towards home. It’s not far off SH1 and is a quiet place with no traffic noise.

We had two nights with Alan and Helen near Katikati on their kiwifruit orchard. A&H are part of the Zero Degrees Club, and Jenny and Chris, other local members, were over for dinner the first evening. We had a Zero Degrees Club meeting (with minutes) and tried to set the world to rights, but failed. Must try harder!

The second day, I did motorhome housework – easy but completed on hands and knees as it’s too small for wielding a broom and mop. All the washing got done, bed was aired, sheets got changed. And then we blobbed by and in the pool. Delicious and refreshing!
An unusual shot of me as I am holding a beer ... I quickly resorted to chardonnay though, so fear not - usual standards were speedily resumed.

After many years of cleaning the pool with the vacuum hose and pipe, Alan now has a robot to do the job. It was technology, so David was fascinated. It even climbs the pool walls to clean them!

On exiting the driveway, I took Helen for a drive up the road. I think David and Alan were relieved when we returned.

Dinner was fillet steak and salad, steak cooked on their Weber – I have been instructed on how to do this myself and shall take it on momentarily! Well, next week - in fact tonight when we arrive in Picton when we are being joined by our dear friend Lynne who is also on a South Island odyssey.

In West Auckland we stayed in a POP which is quite noisy as it is very close to a motorway exit, although quite rural. The chickens came around and one of them was most interested when I was cutting David’s hair (now he’ll look nice for the party – OK, it’s a family in joke, from about 39 years ago when Tim snipped one patch of Kirsty’s curls off and my first inkling of it was when I heard him say ‘There, now you’ll look nice for the party.’ Like many incidents it has become part of the family lexicon …)

However the chicken was not silly enough to try and eat it, but hung around afterwards so we gave it a corncob which has gone too dry to eat. Much more interested in that from a culinary point of view!

About 3.5 hours before we were due to leave for the wedding, David said to me ‘What are we going to do for the next 4.5 hours (well, he said 4 and a half but that takes too long to type and read, see?).  3.5 hours had been easily used up by breakfast (BLTs), dishes, haircut, changing our ferry booking from Wednesday when Cyclone Geti was due to hit Wellington and the Cook Strait to Saturday (we are now waiting in line at the ferry terminal - as it is already Saturday) when the weather should have cleared (and it has), writing blog posts.

The wedding was lovely - a huge party and we walked back to the motorhome - about 2 miles I think, because the cab failed to arrive after 40 minutes. And exciting walk for the last 10 minutes as there was no path and it was pitch black by then and no street lights!

In the morning we made to leave and had a disaster with the waste water bracket - it had come away from the undercarriage where it was delicately held on by 4 x 1.25 inch screws! As I was trying to put the screws back in to the stripped holes (having jammed some thin twigs inside to bulk out and provide grip) the pipe let go of its plug and I got drenched with waste water - oh yum! Fortunately we don't put anything mucky down the sink, shower or vanity basin...

At that point I gave up trying to refit it and we put the whole fixture into the garage and travelled home without it ... Naughty, but necessary.

We had a night at Little Waipa Reserve - lovely.

Here I am seated beside Lake Karapiro, waiting in vain for David to come and join me. Not to worry, I had entertainment as the kindle is a trusty friend and never leaves me alone when I need company!

And then a night at John and Adair's place at Pukawa at the southern end of Lake Taupo - even lovelier! Other friends came for dinner and it was a very convivial night.

We left very early (well, 6.15am) the next day as the storm was due to hit and we wanted to be home before it arrived. Success! In Waikanae, Gita was not as vicious as in other places, so we had some strong wind, a bit of rain and then it was all over. Most of it occurred for us in the evening when we had several friends around for a potluck finger-food dinner, so no one got terribly wet when they left.

The storm was much worse in New Plymouth, Bell Block and Waitara where a tree fell and broke an above-ground water pipe for the three towns - my brother in law Murray has been delivering water for the last few days.

OK, enough - I need to get prepared to move off and into the ferry.

Here is our ferry coming into dock as we watch. We only had about another 20 minutes of waiting for it to disgorge its load of people and vehicles before it commenced loading trucks, cars and then motorhomes for the trip south. A very efficient process.
Here we are ready for the journey - they fill up every available space on that vehicle deck!


See you on the other side ...

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