Tuesday 29 October 2019

On holiday again

This retirement is a good lark, innit then?
Our view last night.

And first thing this morning.
Here we are in Mahia on the East Coast, having had Labour Weekend in Waimarama with good friends Chris and Willie who came to stay on the boat with us last year. Read about it here: http://nbwakahuia.blogspot.com/2018/08/a-fabulous-couple-of-days-with-nz.html

Since returning from their retirement trip, Chris and Willie have acquired a dog. Carlos is a beaut.
They tell me that Carlos doesn't like having his photo taken, but I am not so sure. I also think that Chris needs to have his name added to: he needs to be called Laughing Chris, much like Laughing John, as he spends a lot of time chortling and guffawing. By the way, that is Carlos's blanket on the floor by the table, but I never saw him sit on it ...

Moored up at Waimarama. See the little red reflectors I've stuck on below the indicator array? That was on advice from the VTNZ guy in Levin who told me that I needed reflectors within 150mm of the side of the van. The standard ones on the Swift are well outside that tolerance.

2C&W's house from the front. Note the clear blue sky.

The Weekend with 2C&W was cool - but far too much food and wine ... Excellent food and very good wine, mind you, but too much of each, I fear.

Part of the problem is that Chris makes all of their bread and it is amazingly yummy, with the result that I ate far too much of it. The other part of the problem is that Willie is a fabulous cook, so her meals had to be consumed in quantity. And the remaining part of the problem was that David and I bought a lamb rack and fillet steak from the Waipawa Butcher's shop in Havelock North on our way to Waimarama.

Of course the overriding problem is that David and I are gluttonous!

I have come away with some of Chris's sour dough starter and his recipes, plus a link to a baker whose youtube video he recommended to me. When I can find a ceramic casserole with a lid and some rye flour, I am going to get started making the sour dough in the motorhome - Chris and David tested the temperature of the oven herein and it gets plenty hot enough. Of course, Chris has a gadget for that test - of course he does! Why would you doubt that? Note to readers: David and Chris are ideally suited as they are both techy nerds and both love techie gadgets (did you notice then that I hedged my bets about how to spell techy/ie? I am sure there is no right answer actually, given it's a made up word of pretty recent origin, linguistically speaking...)

We did get some exercise to counteract some of the comestible consumption though - we are interested in a bit of capital expenditure in terms of e-bikes, and decided to try them out in Napier. So David borrowed Willie's bike and she found out that Fishbikes hires e-bikes for people with the shortest legs in the world - that is exactly what she said to the woman on the phone, but to be fair she was quoting me! So Willie stayed home with Carlos, David had her bike, Chris had his and I hired a small one.

As we were waiting for me to be served (the kind woman had put one aside for me), who should come biking past but the lovely Clare and Les, who were camped in their caravan along the foreshore. Given they were the ones who had recommended Fishbikes to us, it was a bit of a cool coincidence that we saw them there.***

We did a 14km return bike ride along the foreshore, and I did have to adjust the seat height (up, by the way) and the handlebars (also up) but of course, Chris had the required allen key in his pocket - of course he did! My bum did get numb but the legs weren't sore - the power assist seems to help a fair bit! So we will look for other hire places in Gisborne and Tauranga on this trip, all the while researching the bikes that will suit each of us.
I am going artificially slow in this photo of David and me riding together. In general, I was always a couple of hundred metres ahead of the guys, mainly because I find balancing is easier with a bit of speed on. Note the clear blue sky ...
 It is many years since I drove the road between Napier and Wairoa (back in SWIFTT days, I think [early 90s], with Sarah Heyward when we were developing some of the training modules). Yesterday's drive up the coast through and past Wairoa to Mahia felt totally new and unfamiliar. When Sarah and I drove it, it wasn't long after Cyclone Bola had ravaged the countryside. Much of the scarring from landslides has grown over, but a number of hillsides have now been clear-felled and look particularly crappy. Regenerating these is a bit of a struggle with all of the detritus from pinus radiata which is famous for restricting any undergrowth.

But it's stunning countryside and quite varied, with the native bush being prevalent closer to the Napier start of the journey.
This terrain is very similar to the Rangitikei

I think that cliff-edge has slumped in the last few years.
Farmland above Wairoa

And down the other side of the big climb out of Wairoa to the north
A clear felled hillside - no wonder logging trucks are ubiquitous on this highway!

On the way to Mahia - looks like parts of Rangitkei too.

*** Clare had thought we would be much further north-east by Labour Weekend, but no, as we spent 3 nights in Palmerston North staying with Dee and Murray.
Murray in consultation with Dr Mel who is an AP Specialist.
I thought both messages on this board outside a cafe in PN were clever and funny ...
As we left Waikanae early last week (we're retired and days of the week mean very little), we decided to make the trip up as we go along - one night in PN morphed in to 3 - see, we can be spontaneous!

And yesterday was our son Tim's 44th birthday - we sang to him, as is our parenting tradition... I am not sure either of the kids appreciate it, but being long suffering and knowing we won't change the habit, they valiantly put up with it. 💖💞💝

Saturday 26 October 2019

The ABs lost to England

OK, I know, the All Blacks lost - I only know because David told me, as I cannot cope with the stress of watching the ABs play.

I gather they were totally outplayed. Hats off to the England team.

Ah well, it IS only a game, and there are far more important things going on in the world than rugby ...

Friday 25 October 2019

Dredging up the recent past: being on shore in the UK before we headed home

In our last week in the UK, we caught up with family and our lovely friend, Lesley.

We left the boat and headed to Kingston on Thames to stay a couple of nights at Warren House, a lovely hotel which is close to the centre of KoT but is in lovely extensive grounds.
Beautiful staircase

David on the spare bed in Warren House

David's niece Sarah and her husband came for a drink with us on the Friday night before they headed off to Norfolk for a wedding weekend.

On Saturday David and I went out for breakfast to a great cafe that felt very much like an NZ cafe. Really nice food, excellent service.

We then went and picked up Lesley (ODS) from Staines and took her out for a long afternoon. We started off by visiting Runnymede, a place we have driven through several times and boated past once but not stopped at. Such an important place in England's history.
At Runnymede there is a sculpture called The Jurors, a set of 12 chairs with a 'story' on the front and back of each chair. This one was about education. You can read an article about it here: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jun/15/hew-locke-sculpture-jurors-runnymede-magna-carta-against-injustice

This is the Magna Carta (corrected from original posting ...) memorial at Runnymede

Lesley at the Magna Carta memorial - she is in much better shape and was able to walk comfortably all around the park.
Lesley is on a very strict cancer-killing diet at the moment, so while David and I had cake (him) and a scone with jam and clotted cream (me) at the cafe, Lesley valiantly just drank water ... The new diet of almost exclusively raw fruit and vegetables is doing her lots of good - her skin is beautiful and she is losing weight. As she says, if it's doing as much good to her insides as it is to her outsides, she'll be very happy!
Lesley's huge bowl of salad - two of these a day. See the size of the Olivia container beside the bowl: yes it IS a big bowl of salad.
 We then decided to go and visit my aunt Molly who lives in Leatherhead - not far from Runnymede, in fact just a short way around the M25. All was going well until we got off that and I stopped looking at the GPS and winged it to find the required roundabout exit - bad mistake!! We ended up going all the way to Oxshott and then turning around and going back to get off the M25 exit again. Of course, when we looked at the map a few days later, if we'd kept going another half mile or so, we would have approached Leatherhead from a direction we weren't familiar with - DOH!!

Catching up with Molly in a surprise visit was great - she and Lesley met some years ago, so it was old home week.

We delivered Lesley back to her brother's place and then headed out for dinner in KoT. A big fail, as we could not find where was sensible to park. So back to the hotel we went and had another bar meal - the food was fine and the cost was reasonable, so no real worries.

On the Sunday, we made our way back to Surrey, to Abinger Hammer this time to stay with my cousin Gordon and Sharon for a few nights.
Josh, Gordon and Sharon's latest grandson. A little cutie.

The dining room - love that table!

Molly, Gordon, Sharon and me - David took the photo - out for dinner at The Plough.

Gordon didn't want downpipes, so they found these decorative chains made of plastic. The water flows out of the guttering down the chain into the gully trap. Practical and very attractive!

A slight frost on the day we left.

Our last night was in Beckenham with Lionel and Carole - they had just come back the night before from a wedding in Croatia, I think, so there was no late night revelry!
We went out for a walk around the lake at Kelsey Park - a beautiful resource there in Beckenham

I think the two geese on the rock are Egyptian - Irene?
 On the flight to Vancouver, I took these photos over Greenland, I think.

And my seat on the Air Canada flight had a massage function ...
OK, the next post will be about being in NZ, I promise! No more harking back to Old Blighty!

Tuesday 8 October 2019

The end of season report

So here we are back in Waikanae having left the boat for another 7 months.

I cannot believe that our efficiency at getting ready to leave the boat meant that, within a few hours of the departure time, we had done all of the key tasks. I fully expected that there would, as always has been the case, be a mad rush to finish the last few things. But crossing fingers worked and it wasn't so. The last morning was restricted to packing the car, sweeping and washing the floor, putting the heat retaining coverings inside the windows and portholes, draining the water, wrapping the pumps, leaving taps open, setting frost heaters up for the expected cold winter, locking up and leaving.

It's been an interesting boating season, taken all round. On the one hand it feels like we have filled the 5 months with plenty of boating days and distance. On the other there is the knowledge that we 'lost' a few weeks of boating because of the drama of the capsular phimosis in David's right eye and the preliminary appointments, the surgery and the post operative appointments in Birmingham. It has certainly cost us a fair amount, savings-wise - I reckon at least £10,000 including medical costs, car hire and accommodation.

But his sight in that eye is all that the NZ ophthalmologist was aiming for when he did the cataract surgery back in April. And Pete Shah and Imran Masood in Birmingham are very pleased with the results of Imran's surgery.

We had intended to do the Grand Circle this year, but had to cancel because of the eye problems. However we got down the Grand Union as far as Berkhamsted, went to the environs of Birmingham (Alvechurch and Edgbaston) a couple of times - the former at speed and the latter twice at a more leisurely pace. We've been up and down the Knowle flight - magnificent: if you haven't done it, do!

We've spent fabulous boating time with old friends
  • Mick and Julia, 
  • Salvi and Ann, 
  • Neill and Neil
  • Laughing John
 We've met and made new friends:
  • Bernice and Roy (oops, I did forget to include you - but you're certainly not forgettable, darling! Apologies big time!)
  • Liz and Barry
  • (edited on 11 July 2021 to remedy the lovely people missed from my list - big oops - and my bad) Lisa and David, Amanda and David who all came for cheese scones and L&D lent us their car for the weekend (there was a superfluity of Davids on board at that point ...)
  • Wendi
  • Colleen and Mark
  • Lyndon and Karen
  • Nigel and Liz, and 
  • the other members of the Lockkeeper's Rest Support group and Dave and Catherine, the owners
We've had dogs on board too:
  • Kai (our boat dog)
  • Enzo (N&N's jack russell)
  • Maggie (Wendi's foxy)  
We've had the grandsons and one of their cousins on board when they were all put to work:
  • Olek steering and working locks
  • Karol and Krysz doing locks under David's supervision.

We had three lovely weeks with our son Tim coming to join us each night while working not too far away - I was able to take on being a mum again to provide:
  • dinners, and
  • cut lunches, and 
  • on one occasion, cheese scones for his workmates.
The quid pro quo was that he has done and will continue to do some tidying and sorting of electrical stuff for us. He's:
  • moved the battery charge level indicator inside to the switchboard
  • shortened the hugely long solar panel cables that were squished behind the switchboard
  • started replacing the florescent light tubes with LED strips
We've had the lovely Ed on board sorting stuff:
  • fixing the pumpout toilet by fitting new bolts to hold it in place (it had got very wobbly ...)
  • webasto heat exchanger replacement
  • replacement of all engine hoses (the old ones were probably original and so needed to be replaced even though they were still functioning happily 
  • doing an engine service.
John Wiper made and fitted a new cratch cover and a new tonneau cover - absolute bargains at £930 total. The cratch cover has been wonderful and the shape of the new cratch (cratch board, lockers and table made and fitted by Mick) has made getting in and out of the cratch much easier.
Everything is in the car and we are ready for the off. See the fabulous tonneau cover? And David is smiling so clearly the departure was not too stressful.

You will note that I and smiling too and I have started wearing looser T-shirts ...

And the cratch cover. Note that the table is folded up inside.

We have no idea how many miles we have done, or how many locks we have ascended or descended, or how many hours boating that makes. We have no idea how much we have spent on boating or food or wine or diesel or mooring fees or dinners out over the 5 months.

And I have lost count of the number of batches of cheese scones I have made ...

I also don't know how many kilos of weight we have put on over this season, but I know we both have - David has a bit of his pot tummy back and I am finding my jeans are significantly tighter. We gave up being careful about what we ate at about the time of David's eye drama, and never got back to good eating patterns. The only saving graces were that we often didn't have dinner if we'd had lots to eat at lunchtime and we had limited binges on pre-dinner (or dinner replacement) nibbles. Now we are home, we cannot weigh ourselves as the battery on the scales has died ... But once jetlag has been conquered and I buy a new battery for the scales, we will start being disciplined, I promise!

What we do know is that
  • overall, it has been lovely, 
  • the weather has been a mixture and that has been totally acceptable (I like it not being constantly too hot)
  • we have finally sorted how to have David get off the boat without the need for me to bump the bow or the stern on the bank - it's only taken since 1990, so we are very clearly slow learners!
These seem particularly apposite on both sides of the Atlantic at the moment ...

Sunday 6 October 2019


We are home - arrived in Auckland yesterday morning at about 4.40, did the immigration, collecting baggage and customs thing, dropped the bags at the transfer desk, and walked over to the domestic terminal in the fresh air and caught the 7am flight to Wellington. Lovely flight home.

Collected at the airport by Bruce and Gary, catching up on the health and well-being of mutual friends, did a quick one-bag shop at New World, dropped our bags at home and then went out to breakfast with B&G to Olive Grove in Waikanae. Yummy breakfast - you may wonder why we wanted to eat after 24 hours of eating on the plane - reason: I didn't eat dinner on the flight from Vancouver to Auckland, and hardly touched my breakfast.

David and I walked home in beautiful warm sunshine, I called in to say hello to Kay while David went on to make the bed. I showered, climbed into bed, and have been there ever since, mostly sleeping.

It's now 1.23am and I am awake, so am up making breakfast and a cuppa.

I know David had a sleep because I found him so on the bed in the sunroom. I also know he has sorted out the mail, started the car, started the motorhome, sorted out temporary internet coverage before Actrix come and sort out our new thingie, and watched the ABs/Namibia game (but delayed coverage). He is now sleeping in our bed.

I will make brekkie and probably take it back to bed and be as quiet as I can.

More later about the last days on the boat and the week of visiting friends and family. That will have to be done as jetlag and other bits permit - I have to take the motorhome for its COF in about 12 hours, David has an appointment at Wgtn Hospital for his left eye (the one that had the acute malignant glaucoma before we left NZ back in April) and I need to make an appointment to see Jonathan the osteopath to do the finishing touches to my still sore (but much better thank you Rupert in Pimlico) lower back.