Thursday, 13 February 2020

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work I go ...

While we were on the beach at Tongaporutu a few weeks ago with Irene and Ian, I had a phone call from Kevin asking if I would take on a potential piece of work - and here I was thinking I was retired. David had been in touch with IRD to un-enrol me from GST and from income tax - too soon, obviously!

So I started a new assignment last week, about 10 weeks long - it will be finished around Easter. Sarah is working with me again, and we set to from last Tuesday morning doing the planning and preparing documents. The first day was tough and we both needed a rest (read nana nap for me) in the afternoon ... Getting back into the groove of working and thinking in that mode did tend to turn our brains to scrambled egg by the end of the first few days!

Scrambled egg brain set in earlier than that though - on Monday early afternoon, I dropped Kirsty at Waikanae Station to head into Wellington for two nights with her friend Lisa before she headed back to Sydney. Later that afternoon, I picked Sarah up from the station - post a nana nap, of course given I hadn't slept on the drive home from Waitara fortunately!

We decided on what we'd have for dinner and were almost finished preparing it when the phone rang - it was Grahame calling asking where we were as we were due there for dinner - DOH!!! Our dinner was turned off and away we went. Yummy food, as always chez Bilby, no wine for Sarah and me. We taught Sarah 5 Crowns between the main course and dessert and she beat us all, dammit!

We've been out walking in the mornings, sometimes with Ann 'accompanying' us virtually and sometimes just us. We get quite a lot of planning done while walking - the other day, we developed a complete plan for a workshop as we walked - when we got back home my task was to write it all down. A very effective planning technique - somehow the exercise helps the creative thinking.
Leaving the house - we even look awake!
This huge ornamental scotch thistle grows outside John and Jenny's gate.

The bush path by the Waikanae River - a very popular walk and cycle track


Into the shadows

And the view back the way we came across the clearing where, on Waitangi Day before we started working, we stopped to talk to Glenn and pat his lovely dog, Archie.

An early night on Sunday as I was being collected by Kevin at 7am, so the alarm was set for 6am. David had prepared my brekkie, the lovely man; my papers, new pencil case, purse, railway tickets for the trip home, sunglasses were in the backpack; enough clothes to last for a few days have been ironed (by me), and Sarah was flying up in the morning.

Since writing the above part of this post, Sarah and I have completed another week, created all sorts of papers, run a workshop and written up the outputs from the workshop, plus provided the participants with their assignment - due to be completed before they come to the next workshop this coming Wednesday - we have planned that one too today and Sarah (my absolutely fabulous documentation specialist) has created a templates and examples.

We are now ready for a weekend of relaxation - but I think I may do a small soupcon of work on Sunday, perhaps - but only if I can sneak in doing it while David isn't watching ...

Sunday, 9 February 2020

An eye appointment, walking with a virtual companion, and another Waitara trip

This time (last weekend) we made the trip with our darling daughter, Kirsty.

In the week or so prior, I did several walks with my 'virtual' walking partner, Ann. I try not to repeat the exact route on any day to keep it interesting, and so I don't get competitive with myself about how fast I can do it - as it is, we tend to walk now for half an hour with intentionality - so I chug along quite quickly!
This property is in the street behind ours - in all the times I have walked past, I have never noticed it before. There are some very large sections here in the garden area of Waikanae, and most of the houses on those sections are well tucked away from the road with lots of trees. Quite beautiful.

Just around the corner from us, a house had been removed/demolished a few months ago. Work started on setting out the foundations a couple of weeks ago, and then one morning when I was out walking 'with' Ann I saw this truck arrive ...

I really really really wanted to go back and get my gumboots on and then splosh around in very wet concrete ... But that would have been very nortee and I would probably have got whacked!

I saw this abandoned bear and try as I might, I could not get my brother in law Murray to adopt it - even though he has given Big Bear away to their granddaughter Charlie.

And on the Wednesday, David and I arrived at the hospital early for his treatment (see below) and did a walk around the hospital grounds. It was interesting to see more of the place as, for some strange reason, our focus in the last few months has only been on the Eye Clinic.
We didn't know that the rear entrance to Government House is from a driveway into the hospital grounds!

David had to move out of the way 10 seconds after this shot as 4 vans loaded with Army personnel arrived. At least one of the passengers in one van was still sound asleep - well it was just after 7am, so understandable I guess.



The timing of Kirsty's arrival from Sydney was perfect, as David had a laser treatment on some cloudiness at the back of his right eye on the Wednesday (it's that damn extra healing quality that he has ...), Kirsty arrived on Thursday and we headed away in the motorhome on Friday morning.

A good trip - Mel was left behind given we had an extra passenger and he does tend just to loll around doing nothing for most of the time anyway - unless he gets together with Murray, and then it is all on, as they are both badly behaved!

David rode shotgun for the first half, with a stop in Bulls for a pie and donut for Kirsty and a pie for David. I was extremely healthy and only ate licorice allsorts ... oh, and a Whittaker's peanut slab: it's chocolate and peanuts: brown therefore wholemeal and wholemeal is healthy, and nuts are nutritionally sound - no problem then! And I gave Kirsty a bite and the calories leaked out of the bitten surface, as they do, so I was all good.

We had a bit of a tragedy in the fridge department that we discovered at Bulls - the plastic container of beetroot and carrot salad had slipped off the other container it was perched on (doh! why did I place it there?), and it leaked - there was about 1cm of beetroot coloured juice that had collected in one of the door racks - it could have been SO much worse! We decided that it would be better tipped in the drain by the pavement than down into the waste tank of the motorhome, so out it went. Until we had swished the evidence away down the drain, it did rather look like a murder had taken place in Bulls' main street ...

At Wanganui we called in to see Denny and Cheryl - Cheryl wasn't home, but Denny made us a cup of tea and showed us on the net the motorhome they were going up to Wellsford to look at with a view to purchasing (and yes, they did purchase it, yay!)

Kirsty was then riding shotgun and David had a good time boffining with the little fans to keep cool. He is very easily amused 😏😛😜 

Another fabulously clear day and we could see Ruapehu in the distance from the Windemere Gardens

Happy boffin with two small fans perched on the table bracket ...
 

Once we left Windemere Gardens where we purchased large boxes of strawberries and a huge container of blueberries, Kirsty decided we needed music so she found the music on her phone that would be suitable for parents so we listened and sang along loudly and not so tunefully to Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, a bit of Abba, Split Enz - who else, Kirsty?

When we arrived in Waitara at the camp it was great to see Kirsty's reunion with Dee and family - she hasn't seen them for quite a long time. Nicola and Gerard came out for the night, and the cousins and partners partied happily for some hours. I think, as usual, I was first to bed after a yummy all together pot luck family dinner. There was macaroni cheese, broccoli in a cheese sauce, honey soy chicken, beetroot salad, coleslaw, chickpea curry and rice. Dessert was strawberries and blueberries with cream ...

It was so reminiscent of being at the bach where dinner was constructed from what was available with very little concern about whether things went together. We always found that hungry people will happily eat good food.

Cheese scones and lemonade scones for a late morning tea the next day - guess who made the cheese scones while Nicola made the lemonade ones. Of course, David, Kirsty and I had consumed toasted cheese scones for brekkie, so I had to make another batch to ensure there were plenty to go round. I used the cheese that was a bit stained by beetroot and balsamic vinegar - the pink tinge didn't seem to affect the taste of the cheese or the butter that was spread on the scones later having been doused in the fridge door compartment on the way up ...

A hot day, so swimming in Waitara River was required - I only went once with Kirsty and Dee, but the two of them had at least two swims, one of them with Nicola. I was keen to go for a swim but I am a wuss when it comes to getting into cold water - but not Dee and Kirsty: they both dive in immediately, whereas I edge my way into the water and feel every inch of increased depth and get progressively more wussy about getting in! Doh!!

I did do better the next day and took their advice about falling backwards into the water on to the polystyrene noodle - much much better! Note to self: repeat this tactic when going for a swim again!

A blobby Sunday, apart from a walk along the beach bank for David and me and a swim later with Kirsty and Dee.

And the women didn't even have to make dinner as Glenn did roast pork, crackling and veges; Kirsty's contribution was making the gravy.

I think it was an early night all round as we were planning to head home early in the morning - the best laid plans and all that - we ended up leaving after 8.30am when we had intended to head away about 7am. But it was too lovely spending time with Dee and Murray.

Apart from a stop in Bulls for a pie and donut again for Kirsty, who informs us that pies in Australia are nowhere near as good as NZ ones, it was a quiet trip home - she and David both slept a good portion of the way. It reminded me of family trips we used to do when the kids were young - the three of them asleep while I drove ...

Kirsty is back in Sydney now and I see the temperatures there have been much lower than the 45 C that she escaped over the weekend!

It was just lovely to see her. 😚😘😗😊😍

Friday, 31 January 2020

An effective growling

I had to have a word by phone with Irene and Ian one day last week (nbfreespirit.blogspot.com) - I had noticed with growing dismay that the title of every post since they left us was showing signs of extreme negativity. All of Irene's readers will know that the Red Peril campervan they hired has been a major disappointment and caused significant disruption to their South Island odyssey, but complaints about not seeing any kea at Arthur's Pass after I had told them that I had never seen kea in all my travels across there were just a bit OTT. After all, if they are going to ignore local knowledge then it's their bad!

So the phone call had the desired effect and even though Irene has continued to describe the ongoing hassles, she isn't headlining them. So, after much begging and crying from them, I have called off Tourism NZ and the DOC rangers ...

And since then of course even though their travails have continued, they have had some significant pleasures and a huge amount of fun, and rain doesn't appear to have stopped play at any time.

We too are having fun, but more of that in the next day or so.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Score is one all, cooking NZ style, and David is fine, honestly!

We had a night back in Waikanae with Irene and Ian. Then breakfast at the Olive Grove Cafe with the boys followed by a shopping trip and haircut mission in Paraparaumu for Irene and me, before they headed away to relatives in Wellington city and points south.

The lovely Ian and Irene in our garden just before they left - after the haircuts that morning and our time away in Taranaki over the previous week.
It was great spending time with them over the week at various places in Taranaki as well as here at home. Give the hassles they've since had with the Red Peril, I'm pleased that we made them sleep in the lovely bed in our spare room - a well deserved bit of comfort!

We missed them after they left, so we had to organise a bit of entertainment. Hold that thought ...

When I was out for a walk on Monday morning (actual walking but with a virtual companion: Ann Persico who lives in Nelson goes walking at the same time as me and we text and exchange photos as we walk) I noted that Mads and Bevan's motorhome and their cars were outside their place.
Selfie with cabbage trees as I was leaving the house - big mistake wearing the dark cap, by the way. My head got so hot that I had to go capless! White cap from now on ...

Kohekohe Road at about 8am

Bourganvillea - looking very beautiful. Wish mine was that dramatic!

Bevan and I had previously agreed to have a muffin competition but David and I were out of town without notice at the time, so Bevan won by default. I couldn't let a default win stand unchallenged, so seeing they were home, I texted and suggested a rematch that morning. That would do as entertainment at least for the morning!

When I got home from my walk, I quickly got into baking mode, and prepared banana and blueberry muffins. As I got them in to the muffin tins, there was a bang below the kitchen bay window and a loud yell of pain - David had whacked his head rather hard while turning the hose on - when I rushed out, he was on his hands and knees on the lawn and he was bleeding from his forehead.

So in doing first aid, I was a bit distracted from completing the muffins properly - I forgot to shake the cinnamon/sugar on the top before putting them in the oven, dammit!

So the muffins didn't look as attractive as they usually do. Given how attractive Bevan's baking is (his cheese scones looked much nicer than mine) I declared him the winner as we walked into their house.

But Bevan noted he'd had problems with his baking that day too. He didn't have a 12 hole muffin tray, only a 6 large hole one and a mini muffin tray, so he had a mix of sizes - at least mine were uniformly sized!!

The rejected banana and blueberry muffins - left these ones at home ...

These ones looked a bit better

Bevan's muffins and Mads' china

I do like that tablecloth

David declared that Bevan's muffins were the best, and I had to agree - even though my husband's disloyalty cut me to the quick ... He may have been suffering from concussion of course, so I forgave him - and Ayrton's ointment protected David from infection but not from concussion or bruising.

Bevan had made date and orange muffins. I now have the recipe and I am going to make them.

Interestingly both of our recipes are from Alison Holst.

Readers outside NZ probably won't be aware that she was a real stalwart who encouraged kiwi women (yes, mainly women) to expand their cooking and baking repertoires without breaking the bank - Mum used to say that Alison Holst was NOT the kind of cook who started recipes with "Take 1 dozen eggs and a pound of butter, ..."

Alison wrote recipe books, had TV cooking shows and did demonstrations. I went to one of her demonstrations with my friend Mary when we lived in Wanganui in the late 70s and bought my first of a number of her cookbooks: Simply Delicious. That book has the recipe that I have used ever since then when I roast lamb - it is yummy: garlic in the lamb, then a gravy made with onions, mushrooms and lemon juice and zest. It is simple and it is delicious. I also still make the potato soup recipe from that book.

And I have copied lots of her other recipes on to the laptop, for use on the boat and in the motorhome.  Her son Simon is now a well known cook and writer who has followed in his mother's footsteps. His recipes are very cool too and we use them often, in particular Thai Chicken Noodle Salad - of course it was originally salmon but we do chicken. And a couple of nights ago David made Simon's vegetarian shepherd's pie using a book I gave him - very yummy!


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 left Taranaki...

I had to stop and get photos of this

And this, about 300m down the road ...

We made our way down to Foxton where we camped at the Manawatu Caravan Club - drinks with Viv and John Boyd with whom we caught up 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!