Wednesday, 22 January 2020

This is TWTW - Day 5

If you haven't been there and you live in NZ or are planning on visiting, please put Tawhiti Museum on your list of destinations, and make sure you allow at least a day there - and I mean a full day visiting not including travel.

Irene and Ian, David and I didn't have a full day available, but we spent more than 4 hours in the Tawhiti Museum section and are going to have to go back to the Whalers and Traders section at some other time. Ian and Irene are planning on returning too.

The guy who makes the models is amazingly talented and committed and it is his life's work - apparently he doesn't consider the work finished and is continually updating the exhibits, and enhancing them.

The models, both large and tiny, are almost all different - different poses, facial expressions. The physical environment modelling is also so skilfully developed and put together.

Can you tell we were impressed?

And the Tawhiti Museum section is absolutely amazing - it is the best historical museum I have ever been to and provides comprehensive information about different aspects of South Taranaki's past: Maori, early European settlers and soldiery and the Land Wars, as well as a man who must have been the first Chinese business man in South Taranaki. There were displays about early farming in the area, the coal mining, family life. 

I have taken these photos from Irene's post.


When you open the door to this display, the man lowers his paper and looks suitably shocked. Note the newsprint squares for toilet paper ...

Now which one of these is the model?
These photos were in the Brock Rooms - the display uses furniture and artifacts from Joan Brock's family home. These models are life-sized.

An interactive display where the train went through tunnels, cuttings, over bridges, around bluffs, through a timber mill and back to the station. Not only the figures but the buildings, infrastructure, terrain and flora are all beautifully crafted.

Family and farming life - life-sized models
Maori waka (canoes) and a war party - the cliffs look extremely life-like as do the models! Next time I go back I will take more photos - or I will get more photos from Irene to show you - I know she took a couple of hundred in there!

If I remember correctly this is the killing of Von Tempsky. I will check ...


This photo displayed at Tawhiti Museum shows the Tongaporutu coast before the sea washed away the seaward one of the sisters (2003), the front half (trunk) of Elephant Rock,  (2016) and big parts of the cliff. I checked it out on the net and there was an article back in 2016 with the dates.
See what I mean? The third sister is gone, the other two are much diminished, and the cliff has crumbled away leaving other baby sisters  - none of them will last much longer.

Do you see how Tongaporutu is so prevalent in my life and that of Taranaki?

We headed away from Tawhiti mid-afternoon and made our way down to Foxton where we camped at the Manawatu Caravan Club - drinks with Viv and John Boyd who we caught up with early this year. Then dinner and a reasonably early night - I had cheese scones to make in the morning for morning tea with Viv and John...

Saturday night vege curry (me), rice (me) and chicken satay (Irene)
David sensibly grated the cheese before he came to bed but I was out to it ...

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The week that was - days 3 and 4

On our second day at Tongaporutu, Ian and Irene went up to Mokau looking to buy milk but found that it was in short supply. Fortunately they found some, as I had used most of both theirs and ours for making cheese scones.

While they were away we re-positioned our motorhome so that we were side-on to the bank, and when they returned they too parked side on - it meant we had grass to set out the tables and chairs on and we could sit there looking out to the river mouth. As I have mentioned before, I never tire of that view!
The CROW with Ian and Irene's Red Peril behind after the milk run

And the river mouth.

So breakfast was a batch of cheese scones that we all shared. I cooked them slightly higher in the oven this time, so at least I didn't have to grate the burned bits off the bottom as I did at Waitara a few days before!

A walk along Clifton Road and then around the baches was required to reduce the impact of the scones ... Of course I had to provide a personal history of the place as you do when you're in the midst of nostalgia 😛😙😚😘
These notices are on the Fire Station - which is actually a shed that holds the fire pump trailer. The locals are the volunteer firefighters. Someone has to bring a vehicle with a towbar and then they suck water out of the river to fight the fire - hopefully at high tide so they don't sink in the mud heading for the channel!

This is the notice that informed me about the pied oyster catchers nesting - yay!!
Here they are waiting for the water to recede to make their dinner easier to retrieve!

We did stop in to visit Lee and Gordon who live in Howell's old place.They call their verandah the Royal Enclosure ...
In the Royal Enclosure. Lee and Gordon are closest to the doors.

And then it was back to the motorhome to wait until the tide was out enough to make the trek around to the front beach with most of the others who were staying there. We filled the time till 4.30 by playing cards again - this time outside though ...

Single file please people ...


Beautiful, but it is scary how much of that cliff has been washed away in very recent years.

New Plymouth is that way, Ian. Australia is behind us, but we are NOT looking!

Patangata Island, a fortified pa site at the mouth of the river - used to watch for war parties coming from the north (Waikato) or the south other Taranaki tribes or from even further south, I seem to remember reading somewhere once long ago.

Irene at the end of the island

I think it is safe to say that Irene and Ian were very impressed with the scenery.

And when we got back to the camp - after Irene had taken 532 photos, mind you, so we were the last of the group back - a party took place.

Such a lovely bunch of people! It had a similar feel to meeting up with a bunch of boaters and setting up on the towpath to swap experiences and stories. The differences are of course that there was much more space to spread out, and NZers expect as a matter of course that it is fine to get together

David retired early - he said he retired hurt, but not really. He'd had too much of Irene's chateau cardboard, the diminishing level of which cannot be seen. So he quietly headed back to the motorhome and cooked dinner for himself - if I'd known he was going to do that I would have leg-roped him to his chair! He was hardly the safest state in which to be combining gas, heat and food!

In the morning a fair few of the team came over to say goodbye, so there was an obligatory group photo, as well as the swapping of addresses and invitations to park up on each other's properties - well, by those of us who have houses as well as constantly mobile residences!

From the left: Dave, Ian, Joy (with cup, married to Dave - now permanently on the road) David and me, Alison and Paul (I'm a farmer - now retired and based between Midhurt and Tariki), Teresa and Mike from Edgecumbe, Irene. Missing are Cindy and Ray. Surprisingly, everyone looks happy and healthy and not at all hungover!


Most of us were leaving that day - we headed off south again and called in to see Dee and Murray - and to get a shower and empty toilet cassettes at the Waitara Holiday Park. We couldn't stay long as we were on a mission though to get Irene and Ian to Chaddy's Charters at Ngamotu Beach in New Plymouth.

While they went out in Chaddy's lifeboat from Bridlington around the back of Paritutu and the Sugarloaves, we had planned to hire bikes. However it was far too hot for exercise, so we drove down to the beach area and had lunch in the shade of the Norfolk Pines. A very nostalgic place for me, as we used to come down to that beach often when I was a kid. It is much smaller now that the port has expanded and the businesses have taken up much of the space. But the Norfolk pines are still there - and some evenings Mum would make up a picnic dinner (tea, we called it) and we'd meet Dad down there after work. Tea, then a swim and then home. We were lucky kids.

When Ian and Irene came back, we fed them too (hardboiled eggs and fresh homemade bread), and then we headed for Hawera via SH45 - it's the road around the coast with the mountain always on the left, and it has some stunning views.

We had intended to stay at Wai-iti Reserve but were too late - while there is plentyy of space and probably about 6 or 7 marked out spaces, the sign says there is a limit of 3 motorhomes per night and there were already 5 in situ ... 😏😒 The wink is because that is what people do, i.e. ignore the instructions, and the grumpy face is for the same reason, but reframed to 'the rules don't apply to us'.

So we headed into town to the South Taranaki Club. Yay! A free overnight stop, with a dump station and fresh water, plus it was quiet, even though near the middle of town. And very importantly, it had a restaurant with very good food.

Lambshanks for David ... Huge! Forget being vegetarian that night!
Burgers of different types for the rest of us, and I also had pavlova. cream and icecream for dessert - I did build a barricade of salt and pepper shakers, glasses etc around my plate to stop the marauding lamb shank consumer. However, as a kindness (and because it was too much for me) I let him have the icecream when my tummy was full.See, I am kind really, even though everyone keeps saying 'Poor David!'

Saturday, 18 January 2020

This is the week that was - days one and two

Peace and quiet reign in our environs at the moment, now that the noisy Irene Jameison has departed. My gosh, that woman is a bit of a brat. And if you read her blog, you should believe nothing that she writes about me as being organising or getting her wet or anything derogatory, OK?

TBH, we had a wonderful week with Ian and Irene - a huge number of laughs, lots of fun and good food and wine. They are a real pleasure to travel around with, and now that they have gone - headed for the South Island today - we miss them.

They joined us at Waitara Holiday Park (the one run by my lovely sister Dee and her almost as lovely husband Murray, their son Kurt and his wife Charlotte [they are lovely too, by the way]).

They (I&I) had, at my suggestion - and not because it would put them in danger as she states
 - come down The Forgotten World Highway, stayed overnight on the Tahora Saddle right next to the road and then driven down to Stratford, with that amazing view of Mt Taranaki all the way down. We spoke on the phone while they were in Stratford and they stated their need for a camp with showers. So I said for them to get their sorry arses up to us - we were only 40 minutes away.

Accordingly we got together a day earlier than planned - that was a boon.

That evening, we headed into New Plymouth in Dee's car - she is good like that and lends me her car whenever I want it. So far though, Murray hasn't offered me the Dodge... I wonder why. 😚😜

The purpose of the journey was to view New Plymouth's annual Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park. The displays were just stunning. That park is absolutely beautiful by day, and by night it is magical. The thought and effort that goes into the FOL is a real credit to all involved, and it makes me very proud that New Plymouth is my hometown.

Irene was in charge of photography - she is a really gifted photographer, here are some of her photos on her post about it .

We chose the best night to go, as the following day it rained - what was that about!? A bit of a bummer, as we were heading for Tongaporutu. David travelled with Ian, and Irene came with me. She and I had a little food shopping to do, so it was best that the guys forged ahead.

Even in the rain, the countryside on the way north was beautiful in a gloomy sort of way. The lowering cloud cover seemed to accentuate the height of the hills as we drove through the Uriti Valley and up and over Mt Messenger.

Although there were already about 8 motorhomes/buses/caravans/5th wheelers in the parking area at Tongaporutu Domain, there was still plenty of space for our two motorhomes (well, our motorhome and I&I's campervan) on the upper side of the area so that we had the view directly out to the rivermouth. I never tire of looking out at that.

Apparently this is going to be a coffee stand and possibly a fish and chip shop. I am sure it'll do well in the summer especially if there is a sign at the main road indicating coffee is available! See what I mean about the lowering clouds? This was just before the rain actually stopped when I went out on my own.

Another change from our last time there was that the toilet block in a shipping container had been removed from the camping area. I wasn't surprised because emptying of the septic tank was costing the council a fair few dollars as the truck had to come up from New Plymouth. One fewer local job though as the guy who used to come and clean the building, the toilets and remove the waste paper no longer has that task to do. Instead there is this pair of portaloos on a trailer at the carpark. a much better and cheaper solution. Hard to see, but there is a set of steps up to them. Quite innovative, I think.

In spite of Ian's declaration that the rain was meant to stop by 1pm, yeah, nah. It continued to rain, sometimes hard sometimes soft, until about 8pm. Every time we thought it had stopped we considered going out for a walk, but then it would come down again. So the afternoon was spent playing 5 Crowns and looking out of the misted over windows - people would keep breathing!
Beer was going down nicely down Ian's throat, and judging by the bowl and red container on the table, so were nuts and homemade lavosh.

That Irene is a true guzzler!

A change from when we were last there was that there are hundreds of pied oyster catchers sitting on a sand bar. The last few times I have seen up to 6 of them scurrying across the sand and mud and calling to each other, but now there was a huge flock of them. They are noisy and beautiful.

After dinner the sky finally lightened and we went out for a stroll around the domain.

As we came back towards the motorhome, I said hello to a couple - and yay! It was Gay and Johnnie, whom I had known many years ago when my mum and dad were alive. Gay's dad, George, was a local farmer and bach owner, and he was the first person I ever saw go barefoot skiing. I think Johnnie was the second. It was no mean feat doing that on the river, as the water was almost never glass-like. And it had its dangers, as a floating stick (and they were ubiquitous on the river especially on the outgoing tide) would easily pierce a bare foot that was ploughing through the water at 40mph.

Of course, we are now all much much older, so it was wonderful that Gay and I recognised there was a familiarity about us both that had us stop to check it out. I didn't recognise Johnnie though until he took off his hat - what had been a thick thatch of dark brown hair is now still thick, but white and very distinguished indeed! It was great to catch up on their family news and to know that Tongaporutu still features strongly in their lives.

So then it was back to bed, confident that the next day would be fine and sunny. Irene told me in the morning that the sky had cleared totally and the moon was full and beautiful. I didn't see it, as I was sound asleep!


Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Waitara River fun

While David stayed at the camp and did AOL (Administration of Life, as he terms it) I went with Murray and Dee to join Kurt, Charlotte and their kids, plus Glenn down by the river.

The boat was in the water, with ski rope attached. It was a few hours off camp duties so the family could go kneeboarding.

Kurt showed the kids how it was done, and then the twins had a go - as it was their first turn, they just used the board to lie on - and they loved it. Dee and I were watching and feeling very nostalgic because our dad would have loved seeing little kids learning new water skills. And he would have had them waterskiing in short order!

Murray drove the boat and he was just as thrilled as Dad would have been. Charlotte,  Ziana and Luca's mum, was a wee bit of a nervous wreck at first ...

Ziana on her way

Luca's turn

Dee is much braver than me - I stayed on shore and kept dry ...

Murray the proud Poppa with Ziana on the right and Luca on the left
And David and I were excited, because we were waiting to welcome Irene and Ian from nb Free Spirit to come and join us in their hired campervan. Yay!! You may be a reader of Irene's interesting blog with fabulous photos. If not, then look her up: nbfreespirit.blogspot.com


Sunday, 12 January 2020

2 degrees of separation strikes again

As I write this, sitting in bed in the motorhome at Waitara Holiday Park, with Irene and Ian Jamieson from nb Free Spirit in their hired campervan beside us, I am looking out the window at a little hire caravan on the other side.

Yesterday a guy arrived on his motorbike to stay there, and as we were all four of us sitting in the sunshine drinking tea, we got chatting. He told us about his travels and mentioned he had a facebook blog. On asking where he originally hails from, he told us Gisborne. Aha, we all four of us said, we know people from Gisborne who live on their narrowboat. Barry Teutenberg (sp?) we said. I know Barry he said, he is a very close friend of mine and a party animal.

So Barry and Sandra, we have met and exchanged hummus** with your friend Nigel Reichenbach! He mentioned 186 Derby Street and said you would remember it ...
Nigel with Irene and Ian

And with me


Howzat for 2 degrees of separation then?

** Nigel had bought hummus without checking the label, discovered that the one he bought had gluten, so gave it to me. So he had some to eat, I gave him our already opened tub. Score for us as his was untouched!

We didn't have long with him as he has already headed away this morning, but we will keep up with his facebook blog. I've had a quick look. Check it out: search for wandering weka


New maths, where 12 + 32 = 50 ...

The admittance to Millvale House is getting closer for a certain husband, I think. Let me explain:

A few days ago, I picked up $12 worth of groceries for our neighbour Kay. David delivered them to her and she tried to give him $50 in payment for said groceries, as well as for my going to collect her from the hospital the previous Sunday morning. David rightly refused the $50 and said that it was better that he turned it down than that I did, as he was likely to be more polite about it. Good call. 😏😚

Fast forward a couple of days: David and I were discussing Kay's trying to pay for something I did for her as a friend. David said it wasn't as heinous a crime as I made out, after all, he said, the difference was only $32.

So, I said, 12 + 32 is 50, now is it?

Straight to the Home**, was the following cry. So the threat now is that I am waiting until I can make a phone call to Millvale. After all, it's walking distance from the house - he could pack up his kit in the granny trolley and take himself there ...

We had breakfast with the lovely Kirsty not long after the new maths discovery. I think she concurs that her father is on the slippery slope, and she was impressed that his likely place of residence is within walking distance of home ...

However she did join with David in trying to justify 12 + 32 = 50, by agreeing with him about interest being added but not visible in his workings. She also brought up the requisite bank fees that would be incurred.

So either I have to get her to join David in Millvale, or I have to concede defeat at this point.

But you know I am watching him closely! 😛😜😝

** Kirsty uses this saying whenever either of us do or say anything nuts. Given she is our EPOA if either one of us is incapacitated, we watch ourselves around her ...

Monday, 6 January 2020

2020 is underway

2020 so far has not been without incident - and I am NOT talking about that idiot dumpster's Iran fiasco.

Much closer to home, David had a scare the other day - he had opened the garage door using the remote control, and halfway up, the door suddenly crashed down to the ground again! Aaarrrggghhh!!! On investigation, he discovered that the nut had come off the bolt that holds the door to the pulley lever! It had clearly worked its way loose over a period of time. FFS, that was scary.

We checked and there were no washers lying around on the garage floor, indicating that the bolt and nut relied on there being no friction between them to keep the nut secure. Dumb dumb dumb!! Even I know that a washer is required to prevent unintended loosening of a nut!

So David went to John's Hardware and bought a locking nut. And he is contacting the garage door installer to notify them - this is a security issue, as how many people actually check that the nut stays on? Certainly not us! Locking nut or not, I will be checking regularly in future.

With the various health issues facing friends and family at the moment, we have both noted that ongoing fitness and health are not guaranteed as we age, so we are being much more focused on eating well and exercising. Even though during our time on the boat, David does all of the locks and often walks or bikes between them, he found he had gained a few kilograms while we were away. I stand much of the day at the tiller and don't get much exercise - even though steering can be tiring for the feet, legs and back, it doesn't count as an energetic pastime, by any stretch of the imagination. So I had also gained a few kilos while we were away.

I am going to blame Mick and Julia frankly - not because it's their fault, but simply because I can ...

But if I'm honest, it really is because I like to cook, we like to entertain and we both like to eat.

As we are not going to cut down on entertaining, we need to modify our eating/drinking and increase our exercise.

So I am now on the intermittent fasting plan of 16/8, where I fast for 16 hours and eat only in an 8 hour window. It is surprisingly easy and tends to mean there are only 2 meals a day, at 11am and about 6pm. I have also cut down on the chardonnay dramatically - I know: shock, horror! and chardonnay producers in NZ have gone into voluntary receivership on hearing the news. (To make that easier to bear for me I have turned to rose - I don't like it as much so can happily drink far less of it ...)

I am also going out walking 4 mornings a week. Ann Persico and I walk together, virtually. It's the only way, as she is in Nelson and I am in Waikanae. But we set off at the same time and send photos and texts along the way. It's lovely, and I can text as I walk, so that I am hardly slowing down.

We have decided on 4 days walking a week - we start at about 8am before it gets too hot and walk for about an hour. As we are both in our 60s (me at the top end and Ann rather younger) we walk Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. That way we are giving our ankles, feet and knees time to recover from the rigours of walking fast on hard surfaces - not that it would matter what surface I was walking on frankly as my feet get sore anyway.

I think Ann walks the same circuit each day, but I just wander. I always loved doing this with Janneke back when we both lived in Johnsonville - we would set out and just turn up/down streets as the whim took us. So now I am doing it with Ann, albeit we are in different towns!

The first day (Friday) I crossed over the railway line and headed for the lower urban slopes before Hemi Matenga. However that walk was a bit of a bust as I had gone out without socks and got blisters. Rather than go home early, I found a couple of leaves to poke down in the heels of my shoes. I know, you don't have to tell me that I looked nuts...
They may look stupid, but they were effective for about 1.5 kms.

I saw a woman putting out her rubbish bin, so I asked if she had any plasters. She didn't but brought toilet paper out for me to stuff in the back of the shoes. It worked but looked even more whacky than the leaves - especially as I had to readjust it on the way home and the only place I could sit was on the kerb with my feet in the gutter ...

And I couldn't find my way back down the hill while walking with sore feet, so had to retrace my steps.

It was an overcast day and the hills of Hemi Matenga were obscured by cloud as I walked up Te Moana Road

I did see this house on the way up one of the slopes - a photo was required because my dad lived in a house called Pear Tree Cottage in Stadhampton near Oxford when he was about 13.
The blisters did prompt a shopping expedition the following day to buy some proper walking shoes. That resulted in a double score from shopping at Rebel Sports:
  1. I discovered that I fit into kids' size 6 shoes - much cheaper than adults' ones, and
  2. Rebel Sports gives a 15% discount to Gold Card members.

Size 6 kids' shoes ...

Nice wide fitting - some kids obviously have fat feet, like me!

On Monday, with my new shoes (and old socks) on, I headed a different way.
The hills were clear on Monday - not sure if they were alive with the sound of music though

It wasn't that warm but hardy souls were doing lengths in the outdoor pool

While others were sleeping in the sunshine ...
Today I found the way into a new subdivision.

Most sections are sold and some houses are already up.

I also saw two pairs of oystercatchers on the open ground - I do like them. And I also discovered Millvale House, a dementia care unit which I have flagged for future reference, but I am not sure which one of us it'll be for ...
And seen on the walk - I need to find out what this shrub is so I can get one and plant it.

Yay!! Our strawberry tree has started to flower again after a hiatus - it took a year or so off flowering after we gave it a severe pruning two years in a row.. It was on borrowed time, so I am pleased it is rewarding us with its lovely yellow flowers once more.