Saturday 30 November 2019

Kurt and Charlotte's wedding

On Friday last week, we headed up to Waitara - but on the way, we called in to Palmerston North Hospital see if Murray (my b-i-l) was well enough to come with us. On the off chance that he was, we were travelling by car (my lovely new comfortable red Kia Sportage with bluetooth and David's luggage net - well, he has to feel some sense of ownership ...). So we had organised with good friends Jim and Judy to borrow their caravan, and Jim had delivered it to the motorcamp and had set it up for us. Lovely generous people.

Murray was too poorly to travel; in fact he was too poorly to see visitors, so we had lunch at a lovely cafe near the hospital and then headed north west to the Waitara Holiday Park that Dee and Murray, Kurt and Charlotte manage the lease of.

David's role was to video the service and the after-match function, so he went with them all to the rehearsal at the church on Friday evening - I went to bed ...

This was to be a DIY wedding in the main, with lots of help and contribution from their friends and church family. My role was to take jobs off Dee's list to lighten her load. That meant I went to collect the dinner rolls from the supermarket in New Plymouth, and I made a green salad to go with the beetroot and carrot salad that we were contributing to the wedding dinner.

I did have to buy a sun hat though, because the wedding after-match function was to be outside and the Taranaki sunshine is pretty intense! I finally found a hat (bargain $10 from Postie Plus) and called in to a florist on the way back to get the ribbon changed to a colour that went with my dress - yes, I was going to wear a DRESS!!

The venue for the after-match function was the campsite tent area.  The food was to be served under the marquee, and the tables were set up in a U shape. Lots of nests of deck chairs under the trees for before the dinner. A table tennis table, dart board and cricket on the lawn off to the right of the photo. Really well thought out by Charlotte.

I took David to the church an hour before the service was to start, so he could get all his gear set up. The intention was to video the wedding using his camera and tripod, and also to livestream it using my phone so Murray could watch it in real time. When I got there at almost kick off time, I found David a bit stressed as there was nowhere he could tape the phone to for live streaming, So he was having to hold the phone in his hand while also driving the video camera.  I was therefore put in charge of the livestreaming. Yay!! That meant I could be extra useful for David (I'm not usually allowed to touch the camera stuff because I am not properly trained ...) and I could do something lovely for Murray.

The show didn't get on the road on time, so that meant I had a few minutes to fill in on my live coverage. (I am planning a retirement career as a livestream commentator ...) So I chatted to Murray (well, I chatted and he listened) and showed him who was there. As Kurt hadn't seen his dad since Murray headed down to the hospital in PN to start the bastard chemo, I got Kurt to come over and speak to his dad just before Charlotte and the bridesmaids arrived.

Then I livestreamed the whole service for him. It was great (and very moving) to see on the bottom of the screen 'Murray Podevin is watching' ...

As you probably all know, David and I are atheists. Murray, Dee, Kurt and Charlotte are christians. I was a bit anxious about being in a church, but the service was really lovely. The sermon, while drawn from the bible, was actually about kindness and sticking with the relationship even in the tough times - universal truths regardless of faith or atheism. And the pastor knows Kurt and Charlotte well, so the ceremony was very personal to them, their own vows and their faith.

At the end of the service, there was lots of milling around and socialising in the dining room/kitchen area of the church, and there was afternoon tea there before the cake was cut. So I took the phone and got people to speak to Murray. It was very cool - it meant I could legitimately go and speak to everyone without anyone giving me beans for doing so - being given beans occasionally happens as, I cannot lie, I do almost always speak to everyone everywhere I go ...

When I spoke to Murray on the phone the next day, he said how neat it was that I'd got everyone to talk to him. I think it really lifted him and had him feel like he was part of it.

I also had another job, assigned to me earlier in the day. Before the after-match function started back at the motorcamp, I was to be the one who rounded up the bridal party and others who were required for group photos. Not a difficult job for a former teacher and project manager, so the assignment was appropriately allocated, methinks.

I wanted to use the whistle that Mum used to use to call us all for meals at the bach many years ago, but my mean little sister wouldn't let me. And people think I am the bossy one!

Carlos, the photographer, is a member of their church and an actor. He climbed the ladder and I rallied the troops using the list Charlotte and Dee had prepared. They are well organised too ...
My wonderful sister Dee with Kurt and Charlotte.

The siblings and their partners: Kurt and Charlotte with Jonathan and Debs, and Nicola and Gerard. Jonathan was best man, Nic was maid of honour.

There's David in the foreground getting ready to video and livestream for Murray. No need for the sunhat as the afternoon was moving on and the extreme heat had gone out of the sun.

Before the after-match function begins. People getting in to position. David and I are in the background talking with Jonathan.

Nicola making her speech. She was very moving as well as funny, and managed the highest number of toasts in a single speech that I've ever heard.
Jonathan's best man speech. Moving and funny as well.

Interesting about the former teacher thing. I chatted with Amy, a woman I had not met before - turns out she is a teacher too. She said she had me picked for being a teacher on the instant - I think it MAY have been because I organised the kids into where they could play while the dinner was being set out ...  'You can play from this line of trees to that roadway. Got it?'

The dinner was amazing. The day before, my niece Nicola's partner, Gerard, had spit roasted a hogget, and on the day of the wedding, he'd got up very early and driven 35 miles to pick up a pig (already butchered) and brought it back for spit roasting. Dee and Murray's oldest friends Wynn and Joss had worked with Gerard on the carving. A really excellent team effort.

Roast pig on a spit ...
What with multiple salads made by the catering team from the church, and breadrolls, it was a wonderful feast.

The next morning, there was a big shared breakfast - and everyone seemed to be on top of their game. No apparent hangovers in evidence - a distinct difference from when we used to see all the kids (as they were then) at the bach ...

Julie and Ripa's 3 week old wee boy

Kurt and Charlotte

Gerard, Nicola's partner

Ripa - we have known Ripa since he and Julie first got together back when he was 15. David didn't recognise him - it may have been that he now has short hair, but to me he looks no different! Lovely man. In the background is Joss cooking breakfast. She and Wynn were absolute stars all weekend - BBQing and feeding us all.

Glenn who was a groomsman. My cleaning companion the following day.
And then the place emptied out. I think a nana nap was in order.

On Monday, David got a bus back to Waikanae and I stayed on. Dee and I had a morning out together, returning the hired glasses and the hired suits, and taking Kurt and Charlotte's wee boy Ollie to the park for picnic and playing.
Ollie on the slide at East End Beach

There is a really cool structure with sand underneath for kids (or a great aunt ...) to fill the scoop and then haul it upon the chain

... then pour it into the top of the blocked off tube. Then quickly down to turn the handle and release the sand. Excellent thinking, whoever designed that!

Ollie filling the scoop himself this time.

Also on Monday Kurt and Charlotte went  down to Palmerston North to spend the day and night with Murray; and so that Dee could head away on Tuesday, I stayed on to help Glenn with the cleaning of the camp facilities (I had the kitchen and guest lounge, he had the toilets and showers ...)

When I had a shower (after the cleaning and after I'd emptied the toilet cassette from the caravan), I noticed that one shower had already been used and the user had left soap suds and sand in the shower tray. Mmmm! GGGRRR!!! So I pulled out the cleaning hose and swished it out - no sand on my watch, thank you very much! I have been to the camp several times and always wanted to use that hose ...😜😝

Wednesday 27 November 2019

A boater came to stay!

Last week, we had a very welcome visitor: Adrian from Briar Rose came and stayed a few nights with us, and it was so lovely to get to know him better and to show him a little bit of where we live.

We introduced him to some distinctly kiwi treats and his reactions were:
  • tamarillos: yes, they are nice (i.e. I wasn't sure he was particularly enthusiastic ...)
  • Whittakers hokey pokey chocolate: I am going to buy some of this to take home
  • hokey pokey icecream:  why don't we have this in England? can I make it? (answer 1: I don't know, seems like a severe lapse in judgement by UK icecream makers. answer 2: yes, you can. I'll get you an Edmonds cookbook that has a hokey pokey recipe in it, as well as all sorts of other delightful stuff.)
  • feijoas: turned his face away from the aroma, screwed up his nose.  (Therefore he was not given any - no point in wasting such delicious fruit on an unappreciative recipient, is there? So Jane and Simon, David and I ate them all. Adrian topped up with hokey pokey icecream instead ...)
  • jaffas (a chocolate orange mouthful, as the advertising used to say): 'as long as they don't taste like Jaffa cakes.'  No they don't, so we managed to get through most of them. Some were saved to go with that night's serving of hokey pokey icecream ...
I think he was texting with Adam at this time - Adam was on night shift at the BBC so they were in synch time-wise! But NZ sauvignon blanc was consumed along with nibbles. We were waiting for Simon and Jane to arrive for dinner.

David took him for a walk up into Hemi Matenga, the hilly wooded park that backs on to the village of Waikanae. He enticed him with the (false) information that it was only about a 400 feet climb. Actually, it was about 400 metres upward and quite muddy underfoot due to a fair bit of rain in the days before, so it was a good thing that he had taken one of our walking poles and that he could have a blob in the afternoon... As did David, by the way, but his excuse was that he'd been up at 3am listening to the impeachment hearings.

Adrian and I went for a walk on the beach one morning. The tide was out and the only things to avoid were the portuguese men of war that had washed up. Most of them were already dead, but they can still pack a vicious sting!

He is taller than Kapiti Island

This was on the beach next to...

this - a log that was covered in them. Not sure what the molluscs are, but obviously they had been growing on that small log for quite some time before being washed ashore.

Then we repaired to a cafe in the village - we had looked at the cafes close to the beach but one has turned into a Mexican cantina (not my favourite food), and the other two were extremely full. So the Olive Grove it was. And while its clientele look very much like a meeting of the OAPs clubs, the food is REALLY good. I had creamy mushrooms with bacon and ciabatta and Adrian had a BLT. His comment was they do know how to do a good BLT.

And then it was off to an afternoon session at the movies. We saw Fisherman's Friends. I would happily watch that again.

At Shoreline Cinema in Waikanae - lovely comfortable seats, cushions and wine. What more could we need?
David and Adrian in the afternoon sunshine. I forgot to put in this picture so have added it now (1 Dec). You can see how tall he is when you compare him to David. I had asked him to bring in the washing while I was sorting out something in the kitchen before we headed outside for a drink. Then I noticed that, to put the pegs back on the line as per instructions, Adrian had to put himself between the lines with his head and shoulders up above them ...

The next morning, David and I were due to head north to Taranaki for my nephew's wedding, and Adrian was to head into stay in a B&B in the Aro Valley. But he was a bit poorly - I blame his refusal to eat feijoas (actually it was a chicken burger consumed in Melbourne - those bloody Aussies!) - so I took him up to our medical centre. We all agreed he should stay on at our place overnight as his B&B was up a trillion steps and a poorly person should not tackle them until much better.

So we left him reclining in one of the lazyboy chairs and headed away with cheese tart and a large (thanks to David for all the grating) beetroot and carrot salad as part of our contribution to the wedding feast.
Cheese tart in a roasting pan. Dee and I saved it for after most of the guests had gone on Sunday ...

Adrian has since fully recovered, and has been posting amazing photos of his time in Wellington, his ferry trip to Picton and his peregrinations around Nelson. And today he starts his trip back to the UK. I drove in to meet him for the stopover. And happily I also saw Dean who I worked with on the mine remediation projects at Waiuta and Alexander on the West Coast. Yay!!

Checking in at Wellington. Unfortunately Adrian has to pick up his bag again at Brisbane and re-check in for the flights to London.

A glass of wine and a selfie before he heads away.

And off he goes.

He is under strict instructions to drag Adam here asap!

Tuesday 19 November 2019

No more sour dough for me

After the massive fail of the couple of days prior, the day before yesterday I fed the sourdough starter that was in the fridge and put it in the hot-water cupboard to hopefully do its thing.

But, after a day and a night in the loving nurturing warmth, the starter was a non-starter. It was dead, just like the parrot in the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch. (If you haven't seen it, look it up on YouTube ...)

So my sourdough bread-making days are over almost before they started.

In future, if we want sourdough bread, we will either have to buy it, or go and stay with Chris and Willie in Waimarama, or with Sarah and Jack in Richmond.

I will stick to making my trusty no-knead wholemeal bread or ciabatta. Sourdough, you suck!!

By the way, you should have heard the loud thunk as the rock solid loaves hit the bottom of the rubbish bin! I had considered putting the loaves out to the birds, but decided that, if they managed to peck their way into it and eat it, they would never get off the ground again!

Saturday 16 November 2019

Well, that was a fail!

I may have mentioned in a recent post that I got some sour dough starter from Chris when we stayed with him and Willie in Waimarama over Labour Weekend.

A few days ago, I took it out of the freezer and the following day I consulted with Chris, while looking at his sourdough spreadsheets (explanation and much clarification required!), and then I got started.

The first step was to measure out 50g of the starter, feed it with flour and water, and put it away in the airing cupboard to do its thing for a few hours.

On returning from a movie (Ride Like a Girl - go and see it. It's about the first woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup) and dinner with Simon and Jane, I got on with the second step. The second step was to measure out two different amounts of starter - one for the next baking venture and one for the current one, and feed them both.

That done, the one for the current (i.e.first) sour dough adventure was put in the airing cupboard to ferment and bubble. (The other went into the fridge - and is still sitting there, because I am sulking...)

The poolish after a night in the airing cupboard. I thought it looked pretty good, but Chris thought it needed to be more bubbly, but said to go ahead anyway as it would probably be OK ...

In the morning, out came the spreadsheet again and more texting conversation with Chris. But measuring and mixing, much walking between the kitchen and airing cupboard (and then David's office as we were glued to the impeachment hearing) as I did four sessions of folding and turning. Each time the dough looked more like it was meant to.

I was feeling hopeful, but not hugely confident.

After some shaping and pulling across the lightly floured bench, into the cane bannetons it was placed, then each was covered with a plastic bag and put into the airing cupboard to prove.

Well, it didn't.

It came out of the airing cupboard the same size as it went in, ˆ*#k it.

I baked it anyway as Chris texted that it would probably rise a bit while baking. No it didn't, ˆ*#k it.
That is a tall bottle of Balsamic beside it so clearly the bread is about 4cm high ...

David said it tasted great, and he made some toast with it this morning. I found it indigestible. So I am putting the remainder up for sale on TradeMe as doorstops. Any takers?

I will have another go, but at the moment, I count as retired, hurt ...

Wednesday 13 November 2019

This is the Eye Site, so eyes right - I mean left!

One of the reasons we had to be back in Waikanae this week was that David had a pre-op assessment appointment at the hospital with the ophthalmologist and the anaesthetist yesterday. He is due to have his left eye sorted now - cataract removal and vitrectomy, the latter to resolve the issue of the acute malignant glaucoma that reared its head back in April, and was temporarily resolved by an emergency vitrectomy (I think that's what it was) after two laser treatments failed to open the ducts between the posterior and anterior parts of the eye to allow the fluid in the posterior bit to move into the anterior bit (this was immediately after his cataract removal in his right eye, you may remember; and 'bit' is a technical medical term, in case you are wondering).

So yesterday he headed into the city on a very early train, making sure he would not miss his appointment time, even if there was a delay. Assessments and bloods completed, he made his way home again, with confirmation that surgery was scheduled for Thursday 21st November with a follow up at 7.45am the following day, plus a further follow up on the 25th or 26th.

All these appointments were do-able for us, but the timing was a bit of a hassle as we have Adrian (of Briar Rose fame) coming to stay on 19th for 3 nights - yay!!, and my nephew's wedding in Taranaki on Saturday 23rd; and if Murray is well enough, we are going to drive him up from Palmerston North to Waitara on the Friday. So I would be driving two crocks up - one with a patch on his eye, and the other pretty fragile.

But it was do-able - a bit like managing being a working mother and managing supermarketting, cooking dinner, making sure sports gear is clean and dry, and then ferrying a couple of kids in different directions to and from Saturday sport at different venues, and getting to see part of each of their games and having lunch on the table within 10 minutes of getting home.

So this kind of scheduling is do-able - easy peasy to us mothers.

So David arrived home at about 3pm and said he needed a G&T, because on the way back on the train, he'd had a call to say the surgery was postponed until 10 December because one of the surgeons is now on sick leave. So in the time between leaving the hospital and getting to Waikanae (including time spent shopping for techie bits WITHOUT an approved business case, mind you!) his appointment was postponed.

He was a bit devastated, hence the need for a G&T.

However I was pleased because all of the scheduling hassles had been resolved by one surgeon being sick! YAY!!

And the new appointment doesn't interfere with Ann and Salvi's visit here in the week of my birthday, and we will still be able to see Dee on her birthday, the day after David's surgery. Double YAY!!

So the G&T became celebratory, and had to be accompanied by a chardonnay, even though it was not yet wine o'clock.

Fortunately I had already cooked dinner...

Tuesday 12 November 2019

From the Bay of Plenty coast to Kapiti Coast - and home

From Opotiki we drove to Papamoa which is not far from Tauranga - an interesting journey as we could see the changes from seaside bach communities to beach house communities. The difference between a bach and a beach house can probably be encapsulated in this table:
Beach House
Old and basic
New and plush
One bathroom
En suites and a family bathroom
One or two bedrooms
Three or more bedrooms
Old furniture that is being re-used from the family home
New furniture, purpose bought
Mismatched china and cutlery – re-used from the family home
Dinner sets and cutlery newly purchased - all matching
Cars parked on the grass
Cars parked in the garage or on the driveway
Plenty of room on the lawn for tents
No room and no need for tents
Sleeping bags and other bedding airing on the clothesline (or fence if there’s no clothesline), alongside togs and towels
Clothesline discreetly around the back of the property, there’s a dryer in the garage
Dress standard: casual to scruffy, obligatory to wear the same clothes (apart from underwear) for days; alternatively only wear togs and a t-shirt
Dress standard: casual to smart casual

Ohope has transitioned to being a beach house community, with just a few bach holdouts - three cheers for them! That's not to say that the beach houses are out of place, but it does show the demise of the locals' accessibility to being a bach owner close to their own communities when big city money comes in and buys and knocks down baches to build fancy places.

Can you tell I don't like beach houses as a general rule?

Apart from the winding narrow road at the start of the drive between Ohope and Whakatane, I enjoyed the relatively wide and straightforward journey to Papamoa - I'd had enough of winding narrow roads as we travelled from Napier pretty much all the way to Opotiki.
Somewhere on the journey that day we ticked over to 15000 kms - considering we've only done just over 3000kms in the new car, it is clear we are using the motorhome far more!
We stopped for lunch at the parking area overlooking this spot on the way from Ohope to Whakatane.
The reason for staying overnight at Papamoa was to spend time with my nephew Jonny, his wife Debs and their two little girls - they came for a swim at the beach and then for dinner with us. Six people around the motorhome table would have been a problem so I cooked in the camp kitchen and we ate in the camp dining area. As we were parked right across from them, it was easy peasy.
Jonny and Debs and their girls Charlie (closest to the camera) and Eva. They were quite tired at the point I took this photo, but perked up in a manic sort of way when they had icecream for dessert - they don't usually have sugar, so they went home on a high. Poor Jonny, who was in charge of bedtime as Debs was heading out for a walk with a friend ...

We are not sure how this Jucy rental van ended up down on the bank between the carpark and the beach (did they drive it down the bank, or did they not put the handbrake on or leave it in gear, so it rolled down under its own steam?), but there was no way it could be driven up and out ...  If they had tried to drive it down on to the beach they would have got bogged down in soft sand once there. It was still on the bank the following morning, so I did wonder where the renters had slept. They were lucky it hadn't rolled as it was on quite a slope - both it and the bank!

Papamoa Beach Resort is a lovely camp, but pricey. And I would recommend sacrificing the view of the sea on windy days, because windows, roof vents and doors slam wide open or shut. Better to park down lower, closer to the dunes where the wind goes overhead instead ...

We moved on to Tauranga the next day to catch up with Barry and Pauline who have featured in the blog often - they spent several weekends with us onboard Waka Huia when they lived in London.

We had a Zero Degrees dinner at theirs but without a quorum, so no meeting minutes were required or taken. Yes, we have a minutes book. But running a meeting with that quorum is like herding cats. We always start with a health update - and that is getting longer and longer as we age - not because we speak slower (we don't!) but because there is more going wrong! This time, there were 8 of us: B&P, David and I, Alan and Helen from Kati Kati, and Jenny and Chris from Kinloch - all of us lived in the UK in the early - mid 2000s, where the Zero Degrees Club was formed.
This is Chris and Jenny's dog who has his own basket for travelling - he was very tired by the time they departed. On the floor you can just see the bag of lemons and avocados provided by Alan and Helen - I also had some for us and some to deliver to Adair.

We stayed in the Tauranga Tourist Park where we moored up last time - a really nice place, not fancy, but friendly and it has really good facilities. I got the sheets washed while we were there - in the interests of lowering the carrying weight, we'd left behind a few things on this trip - the BBQ, limoncello, spare towels and a change of sheets. I'd managed to wash the sheets at Chris and Willie's place but I really wanted to give them another go in Tauranga - not sure what is so sacred about changing them once a week, but ...
The mountains on the Central Plateau as we drove down the eastern side of Lake Taupo

It was imperative that we stop in to see John and Adair in Pukawa, so we had a long lunch there on our way south. Good to see them both, and on our next trip we will stay over.

Ruapehu from the Desert Road

Ngaruahoe from the Desert Road. The only one I didn't get a shot of was Tongariro which is in between them.

We were keen to get to Palmerston North quite early the next day, so we headed  further south before stopping over at Taihape - at a campsite that isn't a campsite yet but is going to become one. It's an old Catholic school site, most buildings gone, and not at all salubrious. But it was fine for an overnight stop and we had a view of paddocks and trees - a bit of a change from sea and coastline. They would not have been possible in Taihape as it is close to the centre of the North Island ...

I had promised Dee that I would make BLTs for lunch on our arrival in Palmerston North, so being a couple of hours closer to PN meant I didn't have to get up at sparrow's fart.

Dee and Murray's son Kurt is getting married in a couple of weeks, and Murray may not be able to go because of the risk of infection and because he may not be feeling well enough to travel 3 hours each way. So David is going to video the wedding. However we also want to livestream it so Murray can see what is happening, and so that he can talk with people attending. So I did a bit of trying to live video. Very funny and accidentally, given I thought I was sharing to Murray's FB account, it also posted on my timeline. Some of my so-called friends are so rude in their comments... 😛😙😏 Others of course were their usual lovely selves. And those of you who are also FB friends (?) all know which group you fall into!

Dee had another puzzle ready to start - when we stayed with them on our way up, she had one of a painting with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the mid-ground, lots of people on shore, lots of sea and bloody huge amounts of sky, dammit. I hate jigsaw puzzles - well, I don't really but you'll be surprised to read that I don't have the patience for them. However it is good sitting doing them when chatting with Dee, or walking past and doing the odd bits as they catch my eye. (Note to self: purchase a 500 piece one at a charity shop and give it a go on my own and see if I have improved in the patience stakes. But 500 pieces max, so I don't set myself up for inevitable failure ...)

The puzzle this time was a Wasajig - where the box shows you the background and characters (all cartoon style) and the finished puzzle is of what happens next. (Note to self 2: Do not buy a Wasajig puzzle to try alone.)

And Dee gets quite bossy when doing puzzles: pieces set aside in the lid as sky or water are not allowed to be worked on if she doesn't want to. How she got so bossy, I don't know. She is 7 years younger than me but MUCH MUCH MUCH bossier. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but it is true!

(Jonny came down to stay the weekend with them and he and Dee finished the puzzle - Dee sent me a photo in triumph. Pah!!)

We came home on Saturday and have blobbed a fair bit since then. The trip we did was 1599
kilometres, i.e. 1000 miles. Not really a lot but, while it's not harder driving the motorhome than the car, it's noisier and the contents rattle. About 700kms of this trip was on winding narrow roads. But maybe, it's just that I am getting older and more easily tired - yes, that sounds more like it!

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Yes to shorts!

On Saturday as we drove (with not a logging truck to be seen on the road - yay!) from Tokomaru Bay (beautiful) to Te Araroa (also beautiful), we stopped in a few places.

I've mentioned these trees before - they are beautiful.

We stopped here for lunch.
At Te Araroa  we stayed at a lovely Park over Property (a POP in NZ Motor Caravan Association parlance) and were ably cared for by Mairi and Brian. It was just up the road from an NZMCA park, but for an additional $9 we had water, toilets and showers - and grass to park on and no highways right beside us.
The NZMCA park at Te Araroa

Morepork's Rest - and just us!

We had the benefit of a local tabby cat making its way through the door screen, unasked, uninvited, but in the way of tabbies everywhere, just assuming its welcome was assured. And of course it was ...
Is there any food before I leave?

We had gone for a walk earlier into the village - on the way, we saw the only good kind of possum ...
Squashed head, lying completely still, not at all disturbed by the flies coming to feast on its corpse - A good possum!! The rule is in NZ that if you see a possum in your headlights at night, you have to hit it and kill it. They are voracious eaters of native flora and fauna - they are responsible for eating native bird eggs, native insects, stripping leaves and buds from native trees. They are an Australian import. But I cannot blame the Australians for their importation - I am fairly sure it was the English who did the deed, dammit!

The houses in these places may be stripped of their paint by the sun and salt, but always, always, the schools and marae are impeccable, lawns are beautifully mown and you can see the pride people take in their communities.

Te Araroa has a Four Square shop (a bit like the Coop or Spar in UK villages) - Four Square is the chain (locally owned and franchised) that stays in small places that the big supermarkets won't touch. Every town we go into, whether on the boat or in the motorhome, we shop locally  - it's our meagre contribution to keeping these shops going. Four Square was here long before the big supermarkets came along and it is great to see them still going strong in these communities.

This logo is instantly recognisable to any NZer

Te Araroa also has the most amazing pohutukawa tree that is 350 years old and just huge. It's about 21 metres tall with a diameter of about 40 metres.  Read about it in the photo below. We talked about the tree with Brian, the POP manager, this morning, and he explained that it is a local treasure. He told us that one day recently some tree trimmers contracted by the local council came along to trim the branches that were overhanging the road. Apparently the contractors didn't even get out of their truck. They were told in no uncertain terms to leave it alone. 'But it overhangs the road' the council contractors said. 'So move the road' was the response from the locals. The compromise position is a sign saying 'Large Tree ahead. 4.1m clearance' Sounds about right to me.
Now that is a tree! Te Waha-O-Rerekohu

Clearly, it's well-loved

I'm not sure why this beach in particular is covered in logs.

A shorts day today - bright warm/hot sunshine and that was at 9.30am! So up in the cupboard I start rummaging, and pull out a pair of shorts. Yikes, screaming and yelling - along the back of the cupboard runs a VERY large cockroach - at least 2 feet long. OK, not 2 feet long, but at least an inch long. Far too big for a benign insect, in my view, if there even is such a thing ...

So out come all of the clothes in my cupboard and I try to catch the offending demonic beast. Coward that it is, it hides in between the cupboard and the end wall. Bastard - that is just above my head when I am in bed - of course it is going to then creep down and crawl all over me while I sleep! In a murderous rage, I get the flyspray out of the pantry and spray the shit out of the wall at the back of my clothes cupboard, hoping the cockroach will at least retreat. Off we go to say goodbye to Brian and Mairi, then back we come to head away. I need a pee before we go so I come in the habitation door, and there, lo and behold, joy of joys, is an upside down lying on its back twitching its legs in the air, in its death throes, larger than life (3 feet long, 1 foot wide ...) cockroach. OK, still not that big, but of a size that I can capture in a paper towel, squeeze the living shit out of, and dispose of OUTSIDE the motorhome, in case it gives birth to countless more in its dying moments.  Someone told me that when you squash a cockroach it exudes thousands of eggs which instantly hatch out into baby cockroaches. I am pretty sure that is not the case, but I am taking no chances - hence the battered squashed corpse was left in Te Araroa.

It's been a longish drive today both close to the coast and inland, mostly winding, with a huge amount of ascending and descending. So that I didn't get tired, we stopped for lunch beside the sea.
I must have finished lunch already but there is still tea in that mug...
A good lunch stop
The blue circle shows where we were, across the road from a marae. The road between Waihau Bay and our lunch stop was a big climb up and the big descent.
Seen on the way

The view from one of the high spots
Stopped at the high spot - for a change, I am the one taking the photos! Hence the driver's door is open.

Then on to Opotiki where we stayed at a POP again on Sunday - such fabulous views from there and, even though the hosts are away, their tenant Shirley took good care of us.

Not long before bedtime ...

The other two motorhomes that were here for the weekend also have lovely owners. Jim and Marion, Ash and Jacqueline. Four of the six of us were formerly teachers ... Shared drinks and nibbles then dinner separately, and off to an early bed for me - how surprising!