Thursday 28 December 2017

Fun family festivities in the sun

We had a lovely few days in Opunake with Kirsty, Time, Olek, Karol and Dana.

Plenty of beach time, plenty of sunshine, plenty of good food and wine, lovely family company.

We did have some rain and some wind a couple of nights but it was fine during the days - so my weather request was granted.

It was the boys' first xmas that wasn't Polish; i.e. presents were done on xmas day instead of xmas eve, only the presents in the stocking were from Santa and presents under the tree were from named givers rather than the Polish way of all being from Santa. (David, Kirsty and I have never coped well with the un-named giving of presents, after a lifetime of measured gift giving and receiving with personal appreciation expressed...)

So Karol (nearly 8) was very happy to know there would be presents for him from Santa at the bottom of his bed in the morning, and his pleasure was there to see with bits of paper strewn all over the place ... Olek who is nearly 13 played along very well, as a big brother should ;-)

Presents under the tree were opened after brekkie and it was lovely.
The tree came from Tim's friend Warren's farm, the bucket it sits in came for free from The Bin Inn in Waitara, decorations courtesy of Kirsty and Dana, lights untangled and arranged by Tim

David trying out the selfie stick he bought for me ...
Dana is the selfie queen and gave David required tuition. She is wearing a beanie I got for her at Paraparaumu Market

Mmm, not a present I would have bought but Karol loved it and spent ages target shooting on the 40 foot container outside.

Games, books, construction and orange hibiscus marmalade.

No men or kids around, the roast pork is cooking and it was time for Dana and Kirsty to catch up with friends on social media. Plenty of cheese and crackers, fizzy wine and orange juice too ... It was too hot to be outside, so we took cover in the garage.

Tim and David took the boys down to the beach for swimming, sandcastles, tunnelling, body boarding while Dana and I got xmas dinner sorted, almost all of which (apart from the roast potatoes and kumara, and the corned beef previously cooked in the motorhome, was cooked on the BBQ):
  • pork leg roast
  • stuffed capsicums
  • stuffed mushrooms
  • marinated salmon
I prepared a green salad but the plates were too small to accommodate it ...

Now this is a first! All of us together for xmas day! You can see the untouched salad ...
On boxing day Kirsty, Dana and I took the boys to the beach (it's a 10 minute walk). The aunty swam with Olek while Dana and I sat near Karol as he played in the wonderful black sand.
I think they are discussing how cold it is

But they are brave

Steady progress into the water - no screaming and no hesitation - Kirsty said later it was fine once they were in and they did stay in for about half an hour.

Coming back from the beach
Look at the colour of that water!

The afternoon was relaxed in the sunshine with the kids (big and small) playing on the container ...
Olek and Kirsty up high where I can't and won't reach them ...

Games in the park in the evening - I was already in bed when this photo was taken ...

Kirsty had a wedding to attend in Wellington on 28th so we left on 27th. A stop at Viv's Kitchen in Sanson for lunch.

If you read Jenny and Robin Benton's Romany Rambler blog, you will have seen her mentions of Viv's Kitchen's cream horns. They are magnificent! Kirsty bought one and brought it home, then left it in our fridge. Don't worry, Kirsty, we helped you out - it has been devoured!

Then once we got home, we gave Kirsty the presents we had intended for her 40th birthday but didn't have all the photos for on the boat.
Two volumes of Kirsty - a life in pictures. If you are interested in making photo books they are good and easy to use, plus far cheaper than you'd expect. Of course it is extremely time consuming and requires patience and attention to detail that are not my usual mode of operating ... Check them out at

Dinner was Donna Hay's Thai Green Chicken Curry and we had Bruce and Gary, Nigel and Paul here to help celebrate. I was put to bed at 8.30pm as I was falling asleep and the others left a couple of hours later. In the morning it was brekkie at Bruce and Gary's place and then Paul and Nigel delivered Kirsty into the city. I came back home to bed ....

We have done several loads of washing and are now girding our loins for our next venture away in the motorhome.

By the way, I think we are coming to a consensus that it may be being named Mote, as
  • it's short for motorhome (I think it properly and grammatically should be mot'e but Kirsty and David disagree)
  • David keeps referring to it as the boat, so mote at least rhymes
  • he doesn't like the name CROW, dammit
However, it is not yet finally decided, so watch this space ...

Saturday 23 December 2017

Waverley and Waitara

We had planned to have our first night in Tangimoana, at the mouth of the Rangitikei River. However, we were earlier leaving home than we thought we would be (now, that is a miracle, as we are pretty much always later leaving than we aim for ...), so after a successful stop at Gipsy Caravans in Levin where we purchased two outdoor chairs, complete with their own fitted side table with declivity for a mug (handle accommodated) or a glass as well as the power sockets to replace the UK ones the motorhome came fitted with (yay!!) We had seen them on line from a place in Nelson, and had rejoiced prematurely, as Eddie the electrician told us they needed to be 10v rather than 15v - dammit!! So the find at Gipsy Caravans was most welcome.

We had been planning a foray, off-piste to Palmerston North to purchase outdoor chairs from a large Australian chain (Bunnings) whom we rarely patronise - well, why would we send money off shore unnecessarily? But they had the only suitably comfortable chairs we had been able to find. However when we saw the even better ones at Gipsy, the trip to PN was no longer required.

A change of plan has flow on effects and requires further amendments, so we decided to abandon going to Tangimoana, which was less than an hour up the road, in favour of heading for Waverley Beach for the night.

Waverley Beach was a great place to be - we had seen it on our inaugural NZ journey back from Auckland in November.

The view from the driver's seat - I like having a fence between me and the drop - the handbrake was firmly on and reverse gear engaged when I switched the engine off...

Can't get much closer to the beach than that!

And no one came along to share the space, so we were able to see the sunset uninterrupted!
Mel was ready to take over the controls, only problem is that he cannot reach the pedals ...

And away to the west in the evening ... I know David has a better photo of this but I am not patient enough to wait while he finds it ...

The only downside of the night spent there was that the wind, she did blow and blow -  it came up just on 7pm and proceeded to get stronger and stronger! It felt like being in a plane in moderate to strong turbulence being rocked about - albeit in a business class bed ... The feeling of being in a plane had me feeling a tad anxious - not that I thought we'd be blown over the bank, but that rocking is not a feeling I cherish.

In the morning I looked at the front windscreen thinking that we had misted up the motorhome with all the windows and hatches firmly closed for the sake of their latches. But no - it was salt, fiercely windblown!

The wind had dropped in the small hours, so on waking we went for a walk along the beach further than we had been the afternoon before and found the petrified forest in the sand. Pretty amazing.

Apparently these trees are what remains of a petrified forest from thousands of years ago. Coastal erosion has been constant, I guess. It also adds veracity to the recently discovered continent, Zealandia, of which NZ and some of the islands are the visible parts!
 Back for an al fresco breakfast as it was such a lovely day - my first foray into on-board short order cooking was successful with poached eggs, bacon and toast - let's not go overboard for the first venture, was my thinking ...
Sorry about the lighting on this photo - but I was shooting into the bright morning sun. David is unpacking and setting up the new chairs.

Bacon and toast are cooking, water for the poached eggs and tea is heating in respective vessels.

You know I am there because you can see my shadow ... And you know the wind has dropped because we have left the door open and the hatches up.

Ah yes, there I am!
Before leaving the Waverley area we went back into the township to the Glass Art studio. There is some beautiful stuff there and I bought a couple of very small things. If I was still working and if we had space on our walls in Waikanae, I would have bought the piece pictured below. It is about 1 metre wide, and is decorated with peacock feathers.

I saw this glass cloak in the Glass Art shop in Waverley.

I have sent these photos to Derek and told him he NEEDS this on his wall. It is a snip at $4500 delivered and installed.

As we drove north into Taranaki, the day was stunning and the mountain was clearly visible in the sunshine - surprisingly there is still snow on the top!
Now that's a mountain ...

On we drove to Waitara where my lovely sister Dee lives in her motorhome (a giant 5th wheeler) with her husband Murray, and also where my brother lives in his smaller 5th wheeler. A BBQ for dinner - Murray cooked on theirs so ours is still ensconced in the garage. ( It will come out tomorrow for roasting pork and then cooking stuffed capsicums and portobello mushrooms as well as salmon steaks.)

The Waitara Marine Park Motor Camp is lovely - casual, spacious and friendly - and quiet. It hasn't been enormously busy over the three nights we have been here, but there has been a steady stream of tourists in their people mover vans. Mostly young Germans who are extraordinarily quiet and well-behaved. They go to bed early, clean up after themselves, are polite and drink only moderately.
See the pohutukawa trees in the background - known as NZ christmas trees as they flower at this time of year. This campsite is ringed with them and they also form places for people to park their cars and small tents under to keep the sun from beating down on them! Temporary clotheslines are strung between them too.

This plaque is on a rock by the waterfront pathway. Let's use lots more plastic bags in this way!

Today we are picking Kirsty up from the airport at New Plymouth and then heading to Opunake (hopefully we will arrive in time to go to the Christmas Parade) - Tim, Dana and the boys arrived yesterday and Xmas Day is at Tim's Opunake place.

As always, the weather has turned just before Xmas and we were treated to a fair amount of rain overnight last night but the sun is coming out now and I think it's going to get hot again! I hope the rain was enough to allay the fear of ongoing drought in the farming community's mind. I am happy if it rains at night and is fine and sunny in the day time - just in case my wishes have any impact on what the weather decides to do!

And we are off!

Written on Thursday, and only posted on Sunday morning - what a slack-arse I am!

We are currently parked in the shade of the trees beside the Eltham TSB Swimming Pool complex - David is having a post prandial snooze and I am waiting for him to wake so we can carry on with the journey.

Over the last few weeks while David has been busy on Weaving Memories stuff, I have been getting things sorted for and in the motorhome - the saving of $40,000 has involved doing a lot of the things for ourselves that would have been taken care of by an importing dealer. However, the hourly rate for that $40k saving would be pretty extreme! So we are happy to have undertaken the following tasks:
  • having a Fiat dealer check the vehicle to enact the World Wide Fiat warranty

  • the gas pigtail fittings changed and the gas system checked, 
  • smell traps fitted to the three drain pipes (sink, vanity, shower) and a check by the plumber of other fittings,  (then my covering said smell traps with foam rubber - I slit a tube to wrap around the bottom surface and attached them with cable ties to prevent them being damaged by stones - I believe every woman should be equipped with cable ties, as they have LOTS of uses both legitimate and nefarious)

  • sourcing and arranging the fitting of the replacement power sockets (UK to NZ) so we can achieve an Electrical Warrant of Fitness
  • and getting the self containment certificate once the plumbing work was completed.
The last thing to be done is to complete the NZ registration of the vehicle - it passed the Vehicle Testing NZ check in Manukau on the day we picked the motorhome up from the importers. But NZ Transport Agency's processes are a bit slow in registering the VIN number in their system to enable registration (and issuing of new number plates). However the young man at NZTA assured me that we are able to drive for a year on the UK plates, so we are not deterred from having our holidays!

Getting ready to head away was a mission! It reminded me of getting Waka Huia sorted for our first cruise back in 2014 - all the bits and pieces that need to be purchased, and places found for them in cupboards and lockers. The boat though has two advantages over the motorhome:
  • more cupboards and lockers
  • it is far less prone to rattles and movement of carelessly stacked items.
So packing and storing has been quite a job and I have used a far amount of the non-slip rubbery stuff in drawers/cupboards, around cutlery, between plates ...

And I have created, in the interests of economy (no fainting, please, Mick and Julia!) my own versions of wineglass/tumbler and mug holders. You would be proud of me - as would my dad and mum, no doubt, because both of them were in the habit of make do and mend, as well as 'now, what do I have that I could use to make this for nothing? ...' The wine glasses and tumblers are in boxes (free with other purchases) with foam linings and buffers.

Well, I did pay $1 for the foam rubber, so not quite free... The blue mugs are the ones I bought from John next door (see below), as I do like a big mug for my tea. The others were purchased aeons ago in Bourton on the Water - as we have about 24 mugs in the cupboards at home, I thought it was wasteful spendthrift to buy any more.

Of course, I have shopped - well, come on!! And I have bought:
  • from John the neighbour
    • 6 melamine dinner plates and 6 side plates for $2 each (in the shops they retail for about $8 - $12 each - even at Briscoes which ALWAYS has sales!)
    • 6 glass tumblers for 50c each
    • 3 melamine platters for $2 each (usual retail prices more than above)
    • 2 large fine china mugs (full price of $12 each)
  • from The Plastic Box - fabulous shop!! 
    • 3 clear plastic boxes for the fridge to hold things and stop them moving while in transit
    • a collapsible dishdrainer - I'm getting one for the boat too - it's great
    • several containers to put on shelves and allow things to be stood up instead of having to lie down (toothpaste, other tubes, bottles, packets, etc)
    • a collapsible basin for the sink so rinsing water can be put out on the parched ground instead of down into the grey water tank (a public service during this extremely hot dry weather, so no growling, OK?)
    • a bin with clip-on lid for the grey water drainpipe to be stored in, and last but not least
    • a five drawer stack for in the wardrobe to hold kitchen stuff - it's a bit of an anomaly to me that there is more space for clothing (3 cupboards over the bed plus a full depth wardrobe) than for food and kitchen equipment. Maybe, even tho there is a good sized stove and four ring burner, the Swift Group think people will eat out more than cook, and therefore need more good clothes for so doing ...
  • from Briscoes:
    •  a mattress topper pad for the spare bed - had to buy a queen-sized and cut it down, but cheaper than buying the double sized one that was not on sale
  • from John's Hardware:
    • a fire extinguisher and fire blanket
There must be other stuff, but I cannot remember what ...

And then there was the packing: food from the pantry, the fridge and the freezer; kitchen equipment - a big saucepan for cooking corned beef, what spices will I need?, what sandwich spreads?, how much butter?, shall I take all the cheese from the home fridge? (yes), bedding for Kirsty, first aid stuff, the Weber Baby Q plus pigtail for attaching it to the motorhome gas supply, a 2 ring gas burner and small gas bottle for Tim to borrow on their holiday around the North Island, the christmas presents ...

Who knows how I fitted it all in! And best of all: there is a wine cellar under the table - it's the coolest place in the motorhome apart from the fridge, so it is full. Of course, to stop any movement, either no bottles can be removed, or they need to be immediately replaced. So guess which strategy got the go ahead ...

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Anniversaries galore

Wednesday last week (13th) was our 43rd wedding anniversary and on the 14th it was 3 years since we moved into Cafe Rata! Neither of them seem possible - the first because I don't think I am old enough or mature enough to have been married 43 years, evidence of a 42 year old son and a 40 year old daughter notwithstanding; the second because the three years have whizzed by.

There is further evidence that we have been married a long time - I asked David if he could access our wedding photos in his store of 44,000 photos, and he said 'not today, as it'll take a few hours ...' Then I remembered that they were originally not digitised so I can probably find them myself in all their photographic paper splendour!

I was looking back at this blog recently and came across some of the posts from late 2014 and early 2015 when we were just in here and doing lots of work to sort the section out, and a fair bit to make the house our own.

Last Friday, after Rob had been working in the garden in the afternoon, and Kay had been weeding and mulch spreading in the morning, I realised that after three years, the garden is now in a maintenance state - for a long time it has been in construction mode after an intense period of deconstruction throughout much of 2015. So, well done, Luke (tree feller and chainsaw maven), Rob (man with the vision and the commitment to the clearing, the design, and the planting) and Kay (a recent 'hire' whose weeding capability is second to none, and whose advice on plantings and the care of the garden has led to the purchase and laying down of drip hoses front and back ...)

There have also been other anniversaries of the birthday kind:
  • mine on 4 December
  • my lovely sister Dee's on 11 Decmeber
  • her son Jonathan's 40th on 8 December (back in 1977 mum and dad went from having two grandkids to having five within the space of three months: Kirsty, then Joe my brother's firstborn, and then Jonathan)
  • and ON 14 December, it was the lovely Melita's 42nd birthday - an old young friend who has been part of our lives since she was 18
  • and on 18 December it was Jo B's birthday - I don't know how old she is now, however she has been in our lives since she ruled mine as my PA back in 1994 ...
Obviously celebrations were in order. So on the 14th we had dinner here at Cafe Rata and while most of the guests were thinking in terms of the 3 years we have lived in this wonderful place, David and I will have these other anniversaries in mind too. (And I will be thinking of my mum who died 20 years ago - on Jonathan's birthday and whose funeral was on Dee's 40th - timing, Mum, timing!!)

So here we all are (except me cos I was taking the photo) at the dinner on a lovely warm evening.
Friends and neighbours who are also friends - we had a great evening and only moved inside for dessert.

Monday 4 December 2017

Southern hemisphere peripatetic lifestyle is underway!

This post was written last week, but life and its busy-ness got in the way of posting it - as well as needing to get some photos off David's phone to be included ...  My apologies for lateness!

Be warned: it is a l-o-n-g post with lots of photos - it covers several days of our travels between Manukau City south of Auckland, and getting home to Waikanae.

We are successfully back home now after collecting the motorhome on Thursday 23 November from the shipping agent's yard in Manukau City near Auckland.

It wasn't what would be described as a baptism of fire by any means - no close shaves, no impacts and no disturbed nights. But certainly not boring, and very much a learning experience as we made our way south.

Originally our plan was to convoy with certain motorhoming friends who shall remain nameless but their motorhome is known as Doris the Glampervan. However, they bailed on us (admittedly for quite good reasons), and we had thought that we may have to stay in motels, given we had no capacity for cooking or hot showers - there are changes required to the gas fittings, earthing for the electrics and non-return valves for the sink, vanity and shower to have the UK-constructed motorhome comply with NZ regs and standards. But when we realised that we could eat out when hot food was required, and shower in motorcamps and, most importantly, make early morning cups of tea there, we decided that we should use the motorhome as it was designed for, apart from non-essentials like power/hot water/cooking, etc. It still proved cheaper than motelling our way home.

We had thought from what we had previously been told by VTNZ (Vehicle Testing NZ) that the first inspection and compliance check would take the whole day. But no, when we arrived with the motorhome fresh from the shipping agents, we were told it was only to be a couple of hours. That entailed a plan change as we had decided to stay overnight quite close to Manukau City, as departing the Auckland region in or around rush hour is an activity to be avoided for short and long term health outcomes based on the actions of stress on the body ...

So being able to leave by noon was a bonus. And because the wait for VTNZ was to be two hours we only did a small amount of shopping after finding breakfast.

The first things on the list were a couple of plates, bowls and glasses - melamine was our preference based on what we had been advised by others. Melamine was sourced in Briscoes which has a sale every weekend and most weekdays - honest injun, guv, it does! But I needed a lie down when I saw the prices. Two plates, bowls and glasses would have set us back about $80, for goodness sake! So after purchasing some non-slip drawer liner stuff, we headed for the cut price Xmas shop next door. Out we came with:
  • 8 milkshake waxed paper cups at $2 the lot
  • 8 waxed paper tea cups at $1.50 the lot
  • 2 packs of 8 waxed paper dinner plates at $1.50 a pack
  • Total expenditure: $6.50
A bargain, I say.
This photo is for my brother in law, Murray - fortunately this bear won't fit in their 5th wheeler, but he does pack down to a small parcel ...

Mel in Manukau, ready for travel home - he went to Auckland in a suitcase with no complaints. Didn't need to be vacuum-packed for that journey. You can see that so far, the bed hasn't been made up.

Inspection passed and off we went southwards to Otorohanga, taking the bypass on SH39 from Ngaruawahia, with me driving quite tentatively, and once off the motorway, pulling over to let traffic behind me pass. In the Auckland and Waikato, almost no-one tooted or signalled thanks, b*stards.
I think this is Mt Pirongia which I haven't seen up close before. When I was at Teachers' College in Hamilton, a landlocked city on a flat and swampy plain, I missed Taranaki dreadfully - the mountain, the sea, the hills and the clear air. Fifty years later, this mountain doesn't have the same power to depress me as it did back then.

Do I look relaxed?

We overnighted in the Otorohanga Kiwi Campgrounds - quite a lovely place but the individual sites are quite small and we could hear the neighbour's quite loud TV clearly, even with all our doors and windows shut - on a steaming hot evening. But food, a couple of chardonnays and our quiet radio assisted in keeping the calm on board. And earplugs inserted when I went to bed also helped.
Nibbles for dinner, using paper plates and measuring spoons to serve hummus ... It's a luxurious lifestyle we have!

The next day we headed down to stay with Jim and Judy at Onaero in North Taranaki. Our route took us down State Highway 3 through Piopio where we stopped for a nice breakfast at the Fat Pigeon Cafe. I did need fortifying sustenance as we had recently passed a property with two signs:
  • one stated PRO TRUMP
  • the other stated MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN
  • and the stars and stripes was flying. 
I knew some NZers liked the Dumpster, but I did not expect to see signs here proclaiming such sentiment - quite turned my stomach ...

We had decided that one of the things we wanted to do with the motorhome was explore all brown signs - you know the ones I mean - for tourists. Well, we didn't quite do that but we did stop off and re-visit a few places that were part of my past:
  • at Awakino we pulled in a had a look around the one or two streets, looking unsuccessfully for a friend's bach (must have been in the one street we didn't check out)
  • at Mokau we didn't go down to the river or to the sea but we did stop off at the Tainui-Wetere Domain to the south of the village. Once there we stopped and chatted with a couple who have lived in their 5th wheeler for a fair number of years and then had a cup of tea with them. Diane and Wayne are lovely people we will keep an eye out for as we travel about. Diane has persuaded me by example that a selfie stick would be a useful acquisition ...

Diane and Wayne with us outside their 5th wheeler at Tainui-Wetere Domain just south of Mokau and close to the river mouth

That's SH3 beneath the hills and all that clear space for camping!

  • at Tongaporutu we:
    • briefly pulled in to the lookout (fabulous view along the river and out across the bar at the river mouth)

    • drove down to look at our old bach on Hills Road - not a twinge of nostalgia was felt - it's a part of my life that was lovely while it lasted but outlived its loveliness and its accessibility
Before we arrived at Jim and Judy's we passed the end of their road and drove into Waitara to visit my lovely sister Dee. The darling woman had got in vogel bread and tomatoes for a lunch snack, but as I am due for a colonoscopy on Wednesday I wasn't allowed any seeded bread or seeded veges/fruit, dammit. But so lovely to see her after several months of our absence.

Then back to Onaero to Jim and Judy's for lots of catching up, great dinner, and an early night for me. We slept in the motorhome and it was great to wake up to the birds and the sound of the sea.

We had brunch in Waitara at the new Wayfinders Cafe in the old Masonic Hotel. Yummy food and good service. Then back to the Waitara Marine Motorcamp and some lessons in waste water disposal - we need a hose to attach to the outlet pipe as the dumpstations do not have a drive-over drain but are offset. I need to ask Dee again what the coupling is called as we have both forgotten ... Doh!
Dee and Murray with the Dodge and the 5th wheeler that has been their home for about 11 years. Makes our motorhome look small!

We had thought of spending that night at Oakura, not far west of New Plymouth, but realised we needed to be back in Waikanae by today (Monday) so only had two more nights of adventures this time. So we needed to go a bit further.
Now THAT is a mountain! Mt Taranaki is just beautiful. What with that almost in our backyard (we could see it from the playground at our primary school) and the beach and river at Tongaporutu where most of my weekends and holidays were spent, was it any wonder I thought Hamilton a landlocked uninteresting prison?

A very Taranaki rural sight with cows on the way to the shed (dairy parlour to you UK readers). A lot of farmers now have tunnels under the road to prevent traffic delays, but I used to love the frequent stops for cows moving between shed and paddock, and sheep being herded along the road by the dogs moving them between paddocks.

We did stop off at Tim's place in Opunake where we are to spend Xmas and determined we could happily park up outside his fence - very level, quite sheltered, and if we need power, I am sure we will be able to send the cable inside the house.

Then on to Kaupokonui Motorcamp for the night. A plain, no frills place beside the river and close to the sea. We don't have any levelers for under the wheels to make sure we are not sleeping/dining/sitting up- or down-hill. So I crossed the river on the footbridge and collected a few suitably-shaped rocks  and positioned them in front of the driver's side wheels and moved the motorhome carefully on to them. Better, but not totally level. Survivable though, so no princess and the pea moments ensued.
Love that black sand!

The strata and the effects of the wind, river and sea. Mt Taranaki is not far away and I am pretty sure the strata here reflect the eruptions centuries ago.

It was warm but a bit breezy, as it generally is on the beaches, so the cardigan was necessary in the early morning. However jandals are required wear on the beach!

 Some interesting finds on the beach: the animal bone (the sign on the bridge says to watch out for wild cattle in the sand dunes ...), the portuguese men of war (bluebottles with very painful stinging on contact - hence the need for jandals), the huge range of different stones/rocks which I guess indicate the volcanic nature of the area


The strata are so easily seen - the three on view here are not much taller than David, and then it's sand dunes for a long way back. I noticed that further up the coast these strata were much taller and higher up the cliffs. (Am I obsessed with this stuff? Possibly ...)

The riverbank a couple of hundred metres away from the rivermouth. Most people swim there as the sea is rough, has undertows and the summer crop of bluebottles to make it unpleasant and not very safe ...

The next day (yesterday) we decided it was time for two things:
  1. exploration
  2. staying at either a POP (Park Over Property) or a CAP (Charge Applies Property). Both are private homes with space for motorhomes/caravans and a range of facilities, the former generally doesn't charge.
So our explorations took us:
  • to Ohawe Beach to see the soldiers' memorial (British troops only, nothing for the Maori who also died defending their land) 
The memorial at Ohawe Beach. We thought that any memorial for the Maori who fell in these Land Wars was likely to be at the marae, so we will ask our friend Autry who grew up at Ohawe Beach.

  • into Hawera for brunch (OK quality food, with yummy gelato for afters) 
  • down to the coast at Patea
  • inland at Waverley looking for a former battle site (not found), 
  • a stop at Waverley at two shops:
    • the Glass and Art Gallery - some absolutely beautiful stuff there - do stop if heading through there as it is wonderful. And also stop at:
    • the Book Bank - this is owned by Patrick who is formerly of Masterton and who came to collect David's dad's books when David's mum died. I had a look around and saw a book that looked familiar. I pulled it off the shelf, opened it to the flyleaf and there it was:
      • John McDonald, 68 Cole St, Masterton - such a lovely feeling to know his legacy continues.
  • then a drive from Waverley down to the beach to freedom campsites that Patrick had told us about. Well, we will be staying at one of them for certain sure! Just superb, looking out over the cliffs to the sea.
 We called in to Mary and Alan's to see their new (and very beautiful) new home in Wanganui and then had McDonald's for an early dinner (never again - it truly is crap).

And then on to Whangaehu where we stayed overnight at a CAP belonging to Phil and Diane. A lovely peaceful place and very nice people. A cup of tea by the outside fire, followed by wine by the outside fire, followed not much later by bedtime ...
David and Phil, with the motorhome in this lovely rural place.

Phil restored this Morris 8 and they take it out to all sorts of rallies - driving it there, not getting it transported. Apparently if it doesn't go, it doesn't travel!

Isn't it beautiful?

We had breakfast in Bulls at The Mothered Goose - we would not go back there as it was the poorest breakfast we had all trip. Their homemade bread was tasteless and stale.

The drive down to Otaki Beach to visit Derek and Ted on the way home, was littered with stops:
  • a couple of them to remedy rattles, and 
  • one toilet stop - it is SO decadent to be able to pull off the road, stop the engine**, and go and use the loo on board! ** The engine has to be turned off so the waterpump will work. A safety device, we think, so no one will use the facilities/kitchen while the motorhome is underway.
After Derek and Ted had oohed and aahed in a suitably appreciative fashion, we had a cup of tea with them and headed home - only one stop then at the supermarket for bread, milk and fizzy wine. While David shopped, I hovered and phoned Bruce and Gary to come up for a celebratory champenoise.

Once in Rata St, I parked without any hassle on the impeccably constructed pad (thanks, Luke), and immediately filled a bucket to clean off the Taranaki cow poo we'd driven through there.

Only one bottle of bubbles was consumed, which was quite abstemious of us all, but as we only had one available it was pretty inevitable really.

OK, I think that brings us up to date to Monday a week ago. Quite a lot has occurred since then, but those events have to be the subject of another post - to be done later! I have Christmas stuff I am on a mission to complete!