Tuesday 27 February 2018

More at Momorangi Bay

There are campsites pitches extending up the hill on terraces behind the shop/office.

On the forest experience walk (short, easy and informative) are the pests board with descriptions of how they destroy NZ flora and fauna
So here is what they look like - some of them are cute, but all of them are deadly - and all have been introduced to NZ, dammit!

The birds in the photo board above are what DOC and others are trying to save here at Momorangi. There are lots of stoat and rat traps placed in the bush here.
Beautifully clean water

and big rocks

This is beautiful. I hope it's a native plant.
David on the well-formed track. Intrepid trampers we are not!
The view from the highest camp site pitches - pretty spectacular, eh?

My hair blends into the grey of the sky ... We forgot to take the selfie stick, and I had to take a couple of shots and get David to stop frowning trying to see the screen! So not the best photo, but at least it proves we were both there!

The water in the stream is still clear all the way down to the beach - apparently this is a favourite whitebaiting beach

A panoramic shot of the bay
You can see our motorhome, two away from the building.

This surprised me, but more power to DOC's elbow, I say.
Sorry about the finger in the top left of the photo. The layered rocks fascinated me.

Not the best photo, but this was last night's dinner - chicken and vege curry, made from scratch, with naan bread. There is just enough curry left over for a snack sized lunch today ... On the shopping list beside David is 'can opener' - yesterday I had to go next door and borrow one.

The view from the habitation door this morning at 8.30 while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. Mist/cloud in the hills

And from the front - more mist/low cloud.

This morning we have had a lie in - tea already consumed with gingernuts, and latterly chocolate roll. The overnight rain finally stopped at about 8am, and the weather has cleared. Must be time to get up shortly! It's nearly lunchtime, so I think the curry will be heated and consumed.

Monday 26 February 2018

Momorangi Bay

Yesterday in Blenheim we had a visit from Jenny and Robin of Romany Rambler blog fame (Jenny also has a quilter’s blog – she is a very crafty woman!) The cheese scones were a hit, thankfully, even though I had burned their bums a bit – didn’t check the underside when I declared them a success. However, the crunchy texture was yummy!
Robin, David and Jenny - drinks and food have already been served. I think that glass in the foreground belongs to me, but I went round to sit in the passenger seat, after saying 'I shall be sometime'. No snow though, so clearly not a valid threat ...

I am not sure there is enough food ...

Jenny and Robin are long-time caravanners, and passed on to us lots of information and advice and it was all gratefully received. They told us about places they have liked to stay, good places to eat out, they also told us of a multiple sets of roadworks that we will encounter – needs must when the devil drives and the excessive rain over the last few weeks has caused a number of slips in the mountain ranges that line this island. In addition, because of the November 2016 earthquake which closed State Highway 1 with massive slips, the roads that have been the main mode of reaching the east coast from Picton to Kaikoura since then have been hammered through being used far more than ever before. As the railway track along the eastern coast was also lifted/covered/destroyed it too was closed; so many more trucks have had to be deployed, and as we know trucks are particularly destructive to roading …

Now we are prepared for making our way on the inland route to Kaikoura – Cyclones Fehi and Gita both caused more slips on the SH1 route which was re-opened before Christmas – not at a fully sealed, totally repaired, will-last-forever piece of roading, but a huge effort made by all the contracting companies to at least open Kaikoura up again to tourists and locals, so the lifeblood of the town and its surrounding areas could start to flow again.

At Shakespeare Bay - a viewing place on the Queen Charlotte Track
Shakespeare Bay -  a logging operation

David looking like he is on holiday at Shakespeare Bay look out

He was hungry (no brekkie - mean wife) so was eating nuts ...

The timber wharf info

Just so you know, these are known as interp ... I learned this when I was working for DOC back in 2016/7 - best job of my life, in case I haven't told you so before.

This sign made us laugh! Very NZ humour in play.

We’ll probably make that journey in a couple of weeks’ time. At the moment, we are wandering, in the general direction of the West Coast via the Queen Charlotte Track, Havelock and Nelson. Of course, based on Jenny and Robin’s recommendation, we plan to stop at the Trout Hotel in Havelock.

But for now, here we are in Momorangi Bay in the Marlborough Sounds, at a DOC campsite. It is simply beautiful – we are parked up pretty much at the water’s edge facing the bay. We booked for one night, but immediately decided we will stay again tomorrow night. I can already see that 5 weeks for this holiday is just not long enough!
Our view from the front windows
I totally agree - chardonnay is much safer! I have never seen fish in chardonnay!

Sunday 25 February 2018

Scones in the motorhome

are successful!

Before cooking

And after - not yet undertaken the taste test, but give them 3 more minutes to cool off and that task will be undertaken, however difficult it is!

The southern odyssey has begun

We are now in Blenheim at a Top 10 motorcamp, it is pouring with rain, David has had a cooked breakfast delivered to him in bed and is still in bed watching the Netflix documentary series The House of Windsor. I am dressed and sitting at the table, having cooked said breakfast, and I am catching up on blogging. Last night I got caught up on Facebook stuff esp with the group I belong to of mainly US people who strongly object to Trump and his government's perfidy, general untrustworthiness and frankly criminal behaviour.My laptop had got sick about a month ago and was in laptop hospital for a few weeks, so I was back to using my old Macbook Air - a trusty little machine, but David had been reconfiguring it and moving stuff around, as is the wont of an IT manager, and I found it rather too frustrating to use much. And I was taking a break from the unremitting awfulness of Trump (the dumbster, as I call him)

As it is raining, and will be for most of the day, I can relax and be comfortable in our little living space here in the motorhome. (You'll note that I am not calling it The Mote - as I predicted previously, David is talking AGAIN about what it should be called ... AAARRRGGGHHH!!!)

Anyway, we had a lovely sailing down to Picton - calm seas and lots of sunshine. I ensconced myself in a window seat and read my kindle, looked out the window, minded David's bag while he went wandering a couple of times, and I generally relaxed.

I had sought my lovely sister Dee's advice on where to stay in Picton overnight - she and Murray had spent several months down there when Murray was doing the wine run between Blenheim and Napier a while back. So the Picton Top 10 Motorcamp it was. Quite lovely, very friendly, and well served with well serviced facilities. My only criticism is that while the motorhome pitches are an OK size, reversing into them from a one way access road can be a bit of a test! We managed it though with David helping the people across the way to move a wooden picnic table that I could have  avoided, but it was easier without having to navigate that potential obstacle ...

We had arranged with our lovely friend Lynne to meet up at the motorhome for dinner, so once we were parked up, with power on etc, I started on dinner prep. Once the salad was made, the potatoes peeled and the steaks peppered and salted, I just had to stop for a chardonnay - well, we are on holiday and it had been a bit of a stressful day! Read on ...

Getting out of the house by noon was NOT accomplished as David still wasn't ready! I do wonder what can take so long when he only had to pack his clothes and the technology (oops, there's the answer - it's that damn technology that takes the time - you know the stuff that is meant to save time - well, it takes more sorting and packing than the rest of the motorhome contents put together!) I, on the other hand, had disgorged the contents of the fridge, the freezer, the pantry, my bedroom drawers, and stored them in the motorhome preceded by rearranging the cupboards in said vehicle ... David's last job was meant to be unhooking us from the house power, but I was beyond waiting for that to occur, so I did it myself, presumptuous woman that I am. However as a mark of rebellion, I did not wind the power cord on to its new reel, but hurled it willy-nilly into the motorhome's garage and piled the reel on top of it. I then collected the four plastic containers of laptops/phones/camera cables from David's office, hustled him out the front door and into his seat and off we went, only 25 minutes after we'd decided we would leave by ... So not a restful and relaxed start to the holiday!

However once we got to the ferry terminal before final check-in time, all was well.

So back to dinner in Picton: I cooked my first ever steaks on the Weber - they were excellent - I had handed over control of them to Lynne who is an experienced Weber cook. Dessert was rhubarb (from Helen and Alan's garden in Katikati) and custard - such a nostalgia trip for me as we often had that when I was a kid.

Our trauma yesterday morning was trying to make the water heating work. We couldn't get it started after dinner so abandoned it in favour of boiling a kettle of water to wash the dishes. But yesterday we tried to problem solve. The issue was that it didn't work on either electricity or gas and we got an error message that wasn't shown in the Alde manual. I am not sure how we resolved it in the end, but at some point, after switching things off and on, we could get it to work on the gas but still not on electricity. To paraphrase Meatloaf 'one out of two ain't bad'. And at least we have hot water. We will get the leccy option sorted when we get back home unless we see an Alde specialist on our rounds of the South Island.

Sorting that meant we were late leaving the motorcamp, and we had arranged to meet Lynne for lunch at a vineyard. She was picking us up from wherever we found to stay. The water heating problem had meant we couldn't sort it out before we left Picton, so we decided to find a place when we arrived. Lo and behold, the Top 10 motorcamp is just accross the bridge as you enter Blenheim. So as we had joined their loyalty scheme, we decided to stop and have a look. It is much more spacious than its Picton cousin, so here we are, up on the stopbank, close to the river on a large pitch with plenty of space. The facilities are lovely and clean, we can hear the traffic crossing the bridge, but the surrounds are lovely. (Lynne and I took Coco for a walk later in the afternoon - the river and the pukekos and the ducks were a treat.)

We had a very yummy lunch at Allan Scott vineyard - Lynne paid for the food and we paid for the beverages - she said it was to say thank you for letting her use our house while we were away in the UK last year. As she is homeless currently, waiting for her apartment to be built, we expect a few more meals out to recompense us for her staying again this year. I am already scouting out expensive restaurants ...

The view out over the vineyard from Allan Scott.

David thought this was a good photo - at least there are no double chins showing ...

Across the troubled waters in the restaurant.

As Lynne no longer drinks wine, I thought it was safe to get her to give me a trim after lunch - I was feeling little pain after two glasses of lovely chardonnay, and I trust her.
It was sunny yesterday and I was very relaxed being given a haircut. Coco was happily watching what else was going on. Or maybe she was too scared to watch Lynne using clippers on a human for the first time ...

Today I was expecting that we would see Jenny and Robin of Romany Rambler blog fame - they are heading to Blenheim today - or were expecting to do so, but the weather may decide them to stay put instead wherever they are. In the meantime, I think I will occupy myself with trying out cheese scones in the motorhome oven - it is always good to test new equipment with old favourites!

David, still in bed.

Friday 23 February 2018

And up north we went

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We had a night at Little Waipa Reserve - lovely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the other side ...

And blogging resumes ...

without photos though as the app needs updating and we are waiting for the ferry, and unsure when we will be called to drive on board ... (Photos now available, so a few have been added - this is an edited version of the blog)

It is quite difficult to re-commence blogging after a significant gap – the dilemma is whether to do a detailed catch up or just act as though the intervening period wasn’t worthy of noting down for others to read.

The trilemma (?) includes another option – and I was always taught as a manager that having two options didn’t give freedom of choice whereas three did – the third option therefore is to do a summary. As bullet points are my go to method of providing succinct, logically set out info, I am about to refine the third option. You have been warned …

·      New Year was spent at Chris and Edward’s place in Pahiatua along with Pete and Warren, Bruce and Gary, Chris’s mum who was over from the UK, and numerous other people who stayed in the large house. I snuck off to bed well before midnight but David stayed up, played pass the parcel and won the rainbow toothbrush…
·      Time spent with Tim and the lovely grandsons came down from Opunake for a couple of days and then Tim left the boys with us.
·      I took them away in the motorhome on my own. We went to:
o   Shannon, to Owlcatraz which is very NZ and quaint and decidedly worth visiting (see their website here), and to The Toy Circus, which is also very NZ (even more so than Owlcatraz), very casual and scruffy but fun. It is one man’s collection of TV and movie toys and models, displayed in large cabinets  with hand made signs below exhorting patrons to push the buttons for the animated display … It has the most rumpty mini-golf that I have ever seen. But definitely worth a visit as it is so informal and fun.
o   Palmerston North where we stayed at the Motor Camp and went to the Lido Aquatic Centre next door. Lots of fun on a very hot day – we stayed till the boys turned into shivering prunes … Before leaving PN, I took them to the museum, countermanding their dad’s instructions that they don’t like museums – tough, says I, as I was interested. They were captivated by the lego exhibition and we could have spent much longer there. It is very interactive as well as having displays. After over an hour there, we were about 10 minutes into exploring the rest of the museum when we had a call from Tim to say he was just leaving Hawera on his way to meet us at Wanganui. So we had to leave. The boys were exhorted by me to never tell them again that they don’t like museums.
Dinner in the motorhome at Owlcatraz - the plates hardly needed washing by the time dinner was over ...

At the motorcamp in Palmerston North, right next door to the swimming pool complex. Olek and I managed the awning very well!

Dammit, I was severely beaten by the grandsons at Yahtzee!

  •   I drove Tim, Dana and the boys to Auckland from Opunake to get them on their flights back to the UK; then drove back to Wellington. I stopped on the way back in Taupo and stayed with Colleen, one of the first people we B&Bed with years and years ago (before the turn of the century even …) It was lovely to catch up with her and to spend time talking about her husband Bob who died a few months ago, our new PM, the Deputy PM (of whom Colleen is a big fan). Colleen told me of some advice she had been given on Bob’s death. She has adhered to the advice which was to accept every invitation. Another widow told me the same thing a few days later. Interesting, and something to remember if David decides to shuffle off this mortal coil before me.
·      The rest of January was spent blobbing, eating and drinking with friends, gaining weight, dammit.
·      I bought some lightweight cotton material and made two skirts as skirts are cooler than shorts. Nice to wear, but being cotton, they NEED ironing after laundering – more heat generated, dammit!
·      In the meantime, David worked every day from our return from Opunake and after New Year, on Weaving Memories assignments – well, he is now the only income earner so best he sets his nose to the grindstone, I think.
Early February:
·      Was so hot and so hot and so hot that I stayed inside much of the time, blobbing, moaning ineffectually, moaning loudly, moaning quietly, watching Netflix and reading …
·      More time spent with friends eating and drinking and gaining weight – AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
·      Had a disastrous experience cooking stuffed chicken breasts and baked potatoes on the BBQ when Joy and Grahame were over for dinner. Everything tasted fine, but I cooked everything too long and too hot, and the potatoes were burnt on the bottom (and just like they can be when roasted in a fire) and the chicken was burnt on the bottom too and too dry. Will try again another time, using the trivet, lower temperature and less time. Will only have David as my guinea pig though so my reputation as a reasonable cook isn’t too tarnished …

Sunday 4 February 2018

The weather has broken

the heat has moderated and I am feeling human again. I have energy, I have a sweet temper, I am a lovely human being again! Yay!!!