Monday 29 November 2021

Nelson and then home

 Good heavens it is a very hilly journey between Havelock and Nelson! The motorhome handles it well, and I still pull over wherever I can to let faster traffic get past. And I really like the greater visibility that there is from the cab - being higher up is a real bonus, and for some reason David is more comfortable with being driven in a high up vehicle.

We called in to see Sarah and Jack before going to Ann and Salvi's. S&J didn't know we were coming and it was lovely to see the look of delight on Sarah's face. Sarah was untangling one of the hanks of wool that she had been given that was homespun. On knitting up a sample she found it fluffed quite a lot and apparently the cure is to dip it in water and let it dry. She was engaged in rewinding the hank as we arrived. She is an extremely creative person and turns her hand to all sorts of interesting things...

After tea and gingernuts, we left with an invitation for Ann and Salvi, David and I to go to lunch a couple of days hence. Excellent!

And Sarah also found for us the man who had helped her sort out an issue with their motorhome some time ago. So the plan to call him was made for Monday morning so we could see if we could get the rear view monitor issue sorted.

And on arrival at Ann and Salvi's it was roast prep time - Sunday roast with friends Shorty and Jenny is a tradition that we were very happy to partake in. As vegans though, chicken is off the menu for us, so I prepared a nut roast. I had all the ingredients apart from flax meal and thought it wouldn't matter. It wasn't until the next day I realised why flax meal was important - the nut roast tasted very nice, but ended up on our plates as nut crumble - the flax meal is to bind it, instead of using egg. Doh!! I should have remembered that because Nadia Lim has instructions in her Vegful book for making egg replacements from linseeds. Double doh!!

Ann and Salvi's daughter and her partner are living with them at the moment while they build a new house. Gina and Tim have a little spoodle, a cross between a spaniel and a poodle, if you were wondering. She is just over 8 weeks old and very cute. G&T are training her using Cesar Milan methods. He is the Dog Whisperer who had a show on TV some time ago. He is magic with dogs. So Frankie has crate time, naps, play, etc. And while Salvi makes out he is a hard man, his grumpy old man persona is totally blown apart by the way he interacts with the puppy...

On Monday morning, after Ann and I had been for a walk (Rose Gardens and a chat with a couple just about to set off in their motorhome for a trip down the West Coast) I made arrangements to take the motorhome down to Nelson Motorhomes the following morning for Craig to have a look. 

On Tuesday, we took the bikes so we could ride back to Stoke on the Railway Reserve cycle trail. Somehow, David left the winder back at Ann and Salvi's so we had to wind the rack down by hand ... It is possible but a bit hard on the wrists! While David was explaining the issue to Craig, I started winding the bike rack back up by hand - Craig had to help me by taking the weight of the rack as I wound it, while listening to David, because David needs both hands to describe electrical issues apparently 😆😈😉

The ride back on the bikes was cool. Such a great asset for the people of Nelson. It does rather assume though that riders and walkers know the geography of Nelson, and we did have to ask for directions once. However we also met Molly, a 4 month old rottweiler on the way back - we had to stop and have a pat and a lick (we did the former, she did the latter, just so you know). An absolutely beautiful pup. The man who owns her said she is his 8th rotty - that's commitment! I know that we would love to have one, but we cannot think of a dog until we have finished with boating, and we certainly couldn't have a big dog with motorhoming - not only because we would be standing on it all the time (floor space being at a premium) but because there are many campsites that don't allow dogs, and especially not big ones.

Craig had had a look at the electrics while we were away, told us that it was not something we should leave, and called an automotive electrician who is an excellent diagnostician (is there such a word?) Craig arranged for him to come in on the Wednesday morning, so Ann drove me back into town and I collected the motorhome - pretty important as we were sleeping in it ...

In the morning, Ann came to collect us after we had dropped the motorhome off for the day, but as we were going back to Stoke, my phone rang and it was Dan the Diagnostician - he had already identified what he thought the issue was. Yay!! (You may have previously read that we had tried to get it diagnosed and repaired in Greymouth earlier this year, but no joy.) 

Dan said the issue was that the only two things that start working as soon as the engine is turned on are the camera/monitor and the fridge sensor (the fridge switches to battery when the engine is going, rather than either gas or electricity). The two fuses are right next to each other and it was the fridge sensor one that was overheating and that heat caused the monitor fuse to cut out. So his solution was to insert a separate relay and move the fridge sensor outside of the fuse box. 

Hey presto, it worked and the camera/monitor have not cut out since! Excellent skills in diagnosis. And we are so grateful, because overheating fuses are not relaxing to travel with, even if I can cope without the rear view 'mirror'.

While we were waiting for Ann to collect us, I saw this man pushing another man VERY SLOWLY in his wheelchair - in the cycle lane ... It did make me laugh, especially as the cyclists come rip roaring down that piece of roadway!
Salvi made a hook for winding the bike rack up and down using the battery drill - looks little but it works a treat, and much easier than the manual one. Saved us $400 for the difference between an electrically driven bike rack and a manual one - he is a champion!!

We met two of Salvi's sisters while we were staying with A&S - Yolanda who lives in Nelson, and Louise who lives in Havelock North. Louise was on holiday with her partner Derek in their motorhome, so it was interesting to talk motorhomes with them. And they had chatted with a couple from Stoke who had identified that they had spoken with two women out walking a couple of mornings before ... 

We all had a lovely dinner out at a Thai restaurant - once again, I ordered more than I could eat - but the leftovers were yummy and formed part of a 'leftovers from the fridge' dinner the next night ...

And on Thursday, our last day there, Chris and Ann came for lunch. I made cheese tart and coleslaw while Ann was at the chiropractor. The cheese tart tasted great, but I didn't butter the pie dish well enough and for the first time ever I had the pastry stick to the dish! Dammit, I was trying hard to impress too!

Later that afternoon, we headed for Waikawa Bay so we didn't have a biggish drive for the ferry the next day. I was in bed very early that evening!

In the morning, we got a message to say our ferry was delayed two hours at least, so we walked down the bush track to the Jolly Roger pub for an early lunch. It is such a lovely friendly place and the food is really very good.

David had panfried butterfish, salad and veges. He was very happy!


Then a walk back to the holiday park along the road, finished packing up, and off we went to the ferry terminal. It is  boon to be able to make a cup of tea while waiting in line ... 😀😀

The trip was smooth, the Plus Lounge is lovely, we docked after about 20 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing in Wellington Harbour because we had to wait for the wharf crew to load and send on its way a ferry heading for Picton before they could attend to us (an impact of the delays). The bonuses of that were twofold:

We got to see us docking - usually we don't, but because we were parked right next to the port side of the ship, we had a great view; and

We totally missed the rush hour traffic - usually getting out of Wellington when the ferry is due in at 5.30-ish is a long slow trip. But two hours made all the difference and it was a quick trip back out to Waikanae.

I must have been tired though, because my reversing on to the motorhome pad was a bit wonky - not my usual position parallel to the garage. But no worries.

While we have been away, the garden has gone crazy - apparently the weather has been very warm and there has been just the right amount of rain to promote excessive growth.

Poppies by the clothesline - won't be able to hang anything long on the first 2 lines, will we?

When we left home a month ago, the grapevine was bare of leaves.

Silverbeet triffids ...

I took in the kindle, the phone, pillows and the new comforter, placed them all on or beside the bed, made a cup of camomile tea, and into bed I got. I was out like a light.

I like the sentiment - no wonder I think of the motorhome as the Crow ...

Saturday 27 November 2021

Rangiora, Oxford and Rangiora

Before travelling to Rangiora from Christchurch, we did head south temporarily to Rakaia - I had ordered on line from Rural Co a down comforter as the duvet was becoming far too hot and the blankets were not warm enough. So much bedding change activity was taking place at night. And given David is doing the hot flush thing because of the Androgen Deprivation Therapy, it was getting a bit tedious for us both. 

The down comforter is great, not too hot, not too cool. In fact, we are like Goldilocks, because it is just right ...

Look what I managed to find while I was in Rural Co - Red Band jandals!! Yay!!! I don't need their gumboots which are world famous in NZ in the farming community, but my jandals were worn out and Red Bands seemed exactly the right ones for me. I love them, and think they may become my new going out shoes...


Well, it was a good thing we didn't have a long way to travel from Rolleston to Rangiora via Rakaia - I needed all of my wits about me and all of my strength of character on our arrival ...

What an adventure getting the motorhome down Gavin and Deb's driveway! I had been going to reverse down it but quickly abandoned that plan, due to it being very narrow and tree-lined, with the sun shining directly on the reversing camera and reducing visibility by about 90%.  So forwards it was, but first we had to go and get Gavin, as requested, so he could trim branches, hold others up with the broom, guide me past tree trunks hidden by greenery, point out the concrete post shielding the power and phone cable stand and into the safety of their section ... Phew! We did pick up a couple of baby apples on the way which decorated the front cab vent, just like green spherical earrings 😊.

Just lovely to see Gavin who I worked with on the Waiuta and Alex goldmine remediation projects - he was the Senior Ranger whose team would be in charge of maintaining the sites once remediated, so he had to agree and accept the deliverables, and he had to agree the maintenance schedule for both - regular water testing slightly downhill from the Waiuta site and in the stream near the Alexander Roaster, checking the Waiuta surface, and checking the soil nearby - all testing for arsenic which was what we cleaned up, removed, buried - encased in mullock, the rock excavated from the mine shaft as well as bidum cloth and GCL (a geo-clay layer).

When Deb arrived home from work, we all went out to dinner at a very nice Thai restaurant - fortunately they have a people-mover so all 6 of us (Deb, Gav, Friday, Louis, D & M) could fit - always a good look, I reckon. Deb's kids are lovely. Lots of laughter and catching up. The food was yummy and it has stopped being strange to me not to be drinking alcohol at every meal out.


The lovely Gavin and even lovelier Deb!

The famous Canterbury Northwesters were in force the next day so David and I decided biking was out of the question - our experience biking in the fierce wind in the Hawke's Bay told us that biking should be pleasurable, not a chore and certainly not a battle to stay upright!

So we walked into the town centre - David to go to the supermarket and I went to a physiotherapist for a second treatment on my sore back - to be honest, avoiding biking was partly to do with my lower spine too.

But the warm wind was ideal for getting the washing dry so we made use of G&D's washing machine and clothesline to get the sheets washed and some of the larger clothing clean as well. 

I did fail Washing Machine 101 twice: 

the first time when I thought Eco meant it would be quicker - nope: it makes it slower. It was in a phone call with the lovely Marta in Scotland, while catching up about the lovely grandsons, that she informed me that Eco meant better for the environment but not for the operator. Fortunately she told me how to sort it: go and stop the machine, turn it off and start again, this time selecting Quick ... Doh! Why didn't I know that?, 

the second time was when I set the machine up beautifully (using Quick) but didn't press Start for the next load ... Doh! Still, it meant I could not complain that David was taking too long to be ready to abandon sorting out the email rumpus, because the washing had to be waited for...

The walk into town was not that pleasant - the wind was warm but fierce. So bits of grit got into the face, the hair ... Rangiora is lovely but that wind being an annual feature for more than a day would put me off. I did ask Friday and Louis if they were enjoying Rangiora (having moved over from Greymouth in February) and they both said yes, that they liked the town, the schools, and the weather was better than the West Coast - a harsh but fair statement probably as the Coast does have a reputation for being a trifle damp ...

While the walk wasn't that pleasant, and I rescued two or three blown over wheelie bins (rubbish day), the supermarket trip was well executed and the physiotherapist visit was pretty helpful. 

Dinner of vegetarian lasagne (thanks, Deb) and large coleslaw (thanks, Marilyn) were great, with lots of laughter - and we had dessert too. And I drank a bit of wine - the last bottle in our store under the floor which was a rose. Nice but I don't need to do it again.

The next day we had to extricate ourselves from Gavin's driveway. It was a three person operation - me driving - in reverse using the camera and only one side mirror (the other had to be tucked in so it didn't get ripped off on the fence or trees)**, David and Gav holding branches etc out of the way, and Gavin guiding me past tree trunks - which hadn't removed themselves in the intervening two days, dammit! Thank heavens it wasn't raining so I could have the windows open and hear Gav's and David's instructions and none of us got wet, and, more importantly, the camera wasn't fogged up. 

(** There is a Rangiora theme developing here - last time we were down here and stayed at Jack and Joy's I had to do the same thing of tucking in the mirror to save it from an ignominious end ...)

We headed a huge distance that day - about 40 kms I think, to Oxford on long straight roads across part of the Canterbury Plains - no wonder the wind comes whistling down from the mountains - there's no obstacles to get in its way!

We parked up at the Oxford Club and went in for a late lunch. Dean and Phaedra came to pick us up and took us back to their place for dinner. It was a lovely surprise to see that their son Liam is staying with them again. Dinner was delicious and needs to be replicated here chez McD - it was buddha bowls with brown rice, all sorts of salad bits each in their own space (i.e. not mixed together) with smoked salmon with a lovely thai dressing drizzled over the whole bowl. Just yummy!

Dean was the EnviroNZ contractor who managed the physical works for the remediations at Waiuta and Alex, so he and I worked closely together. He is a great person to work with - calm, considered, clear and extremely knowledgeable. At one point, when the Alex work was being done, Liam went to work there too, so I had got to know him as well.

It is always good to catch up with Dean and Phaedra, because they are lovely people, and also because I can remind Dean that I dandled him on my knee when he was a baby - his mum and my first husband are cousins. There is something so energising about rarking people up, don't you think? Although, to be fair, Dean has stopped blushing about it...

In the past when we have gone to Oxford, we have stayed at the Club or when just calling in, we have parked out on the road. But this time we realised we could have stayed on their section. I couldn't understand why we had thought we couldn't park there, until Phaedra told me that they have removed a triangle of garden and gravelled it - aha! next time we will be staying there!

And to be frank, it is a very easy drive in, turn around and drive out - I know, because we did it the next day when we called in to have cheese scones (freshly baked by me in the motorhome oven when I got up).

Their driveway is far easier than Gavin and Deb's one ...

We had another night in Rangiora as we were going to head down to start the Otago Rail Trail. This time we stayed at the Eco Holiday Park just out of Rangiora - it was a very different experience from the Top10s as it seems like quite a hippy community - a bit shabby and free-form. Lots of permanents and all the people we spoke to were friendly and helpful. We didn't go back to stay in G&D's driveway because I was emotionally scarred by traversing it... Not really, honest! We had planned a further physio appointment for me for the following day.

So we called in to see G&D and the kids that evening, and also met Gav's daughter Charlotte who was up visiting from Timaru. Another lovely young person. I had previously given Friday a hard time about being too tall. I apologised to Friday and transferred that hard time to Charlotte who is VERY tall - she had to stand on the step below me for a hug ...

Overnight, we decided we would not go down and do the Rail Trail - my back was not in good enough shape and I could feel every bump I went over on my coccyx and up my spine. Not a good way to start a 10 day bike ride - I know others do it in 3 or 4 days, but I am being realistic about my own ability and strength, and I know we wouldn't be biking every day! And in addition, and probably more importantly, we need to get back to the North Island to go and see a dear person who is very poorly.

So the physio appointment was cancelled and we headed north again to Kaikoura.

There was a lunar eclipse the night we were in Kaikoura and the sky was very clear. This is the beginning of it. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay awake for the whole thing. Maybe one day I'll be able to do so ...

What a wonderful place to be having breakfast, don't you think?

The mountains are the Seaward Kaikouras - a stunning view from the campground. And indeed from most parts of Kaikoura. I always find these views breathtaking.

There was a fair dose of nostalgia for me during breakfast (I did eat too, I didn't just feed David) at the Top10 in Kaikoura as there was a family who had been out fishing and were back washing the boat - I remember that task from when we were kids: after skiing or fishing, we had to wash the boat and the trailer because seawater is death to metal. Dad's only task was to teach us how and then we got left to it. These kids in Kaikoura were lucky because their dad was doing all the work ... I did thank them for raising a lovely memory for me.

For some reason getting a booking on the ferry was not possible for a week, so after the night in Kaikoura, we headed toward Stoke to stay with Ann and Salvi. 

We had thought we would spend a night en route in Blenheim and do the same biking adventure (mild, not exciting, but pleasurable before I hurt my bum) that we had done previously. but the wind was fierce there too, so on we came to Havelock. Lovely motorcamp! Definitely worth a return visit. Next door is a sportsfield with exercise equipment.

You are meant to pull those handles down towards you to strengthen some part of the body. Of course, it would help if I could reach them, don't you think?

Walking forwards to Christmas - with apologies to Spike Milligan ...

Thursday 18 November 2021

Staying at Alan and Greg's place

Such a fabulous time with Alan and Greg in their lovely home in Rolleston.

Greg (left), Alan (right). Greg is an NZer, Alan is English

Selfie clearly not taken by me because my arms are not long enough!

This is Bentley - an English Blue. About 13 kg ...

This is Emily. She is Bentley's full sister and much smaller. However she is still portly ...


Bentley and Emily are very well-travelled cats - they have come out from the UK when Greg and Alan moved to NZ, then they went back to the UK when the guys moved back to the UK for a period. And now they are happily ensconced in Rolleston.

The pellet fire - we are keen to investigate getting one of these for our lounge... It burns little pellets of wood that are purchased in 15kg bags. And the most exciting thing for the computer nerd is that it works on bluetooth and you can start it up from your phone from a long way away ...

See - bluetooth enabled! Yay!!

It is always lovely to meet new people and it is especially lovely to find people of similar thinking and shared values.

Chatting, eating, a couple of gins (but who was counting?), a lot of chat and a lot of laughs.

I made a cheese tart and a lettuce salad as part of dinner and lemon syrup cake for dessert. Greg made foccacia bread (yum!), new potatoes and lots of asparagus - cooked in Alan's favourite pot apparently: oblong with a trivet in it.

I wish we were going back before we leave the South Island because we need to meet their neighbours. It's going to have to wait for our next trip down - at least though, we will be able to bring down jet plane sweets from Moore Wilsons for Greg ...

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Christchurch and a new bike rack

 Having had multiple gins and gone to bed at about 10.30pm (does such a time actually exist?)  and having set the alarm for 5.15am, we were both wide awake at 4am. A cup of tea, a bit of a read and then we were away, right on time, i.e. 15 minutes later than we said we would be departing at 5.45... That is pretty good going for us!

We didn't toot at Alan and Greg - way too early for them and the many other sleeping campers, and we are not that inconsiderate.

The drive into Christchurch was peaceful - no rush as we had given ourselves plenty of time, even though we left 15 minutes later than scheduled. I am always confused by Christchurch - in fact I think Canterbury itself confuses me - I was constantly thinking that Hanmer Springs was north of Kaikoura (doh!) and felt disoriented the whole time we were there. Of course that could have been as a result of my compacted spine cutting off the necessary blood flow to the part of my brain that has the compass in it. Who knows? However I think it is more likely that I mis-remembered the map and I thought that getting to Hanmer from Kaikoura involved heading north-west, whereas in fact it involves heading south-west.

So I was already confused before we got to Christchurch and it is not a city I am am very familiar with - I have been here lots for work over the years, but generally that means taxi rides from and to the airport, and as long as the drivers know where they are going I haven't needed to worry.

So it is a good thing we have the TomTom app on the ipad. The RV Super Centre was where we were heading for - to get a new wind down, wind up bike rack fitted. We have been finding that lifting the bikes on to the already fitted rack is a struggle, and as we are aging (and that won't be reversed physically, even if it will mentally) being able to get the bikes on and off more easily would mean we would use them more. Instead of having them merely as a decoration on the back of the motorhome - although they do look rather grand, of course. 

We arrived in good time at the RVSC and, in more of a rush than we were quite ready for, Paul whisked the motorhome around to the workshop - fortunately I had put my kindle into David's backpack, but there was no time to pack anything else that wasn't already in there.

And we had to stay away for the day. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! 

We had both had not a big amount of sleep, we were both not used to alcohol anymore so were feeling tired from that too, and now we were faced with 8 hours of having to be upright! Quelle domage (or is it quel domage - is sorrow male or female in French?)

We headed in an Uber for a cafe for breakfast to work out how to fill the time. Movies that we could close our eyes through, wandering around, ... But my idea won: I phoned the holiday park and asked if they had a double room that we could use for the day. Yes they did. Yay! So we decamped there after going to the supermarket nearby, and slept and blobbed and slept our way through the day. Bliss! And probably for about the same cost as taxis and movies and the inevitable junk food that would have been required to stop us from becoming comatose.

But my question is when did we get so that an evening of gins and a night of little sleep meant a day of sleep was required?

The new bike rack is cool - it will take some time to get used to as it is a bit more complicated than just undoing the wheel straps and the gripping bars. We have to undo the four straps that hold the moving parts of the rack firm against the brackets attached to the motorhome, and then we have to wind the rack out and down to about 30cm off the ground. Then we can unload the bikes, wind the rack back up, secure the straps, fold the rack up so it sits tighter. So it takes a bit more time, but is much easier on our bodies!

I was going to post a photo of the bikes on it but cannot organise to get the photo from my phone to the computer in a place I can find the damn thing. So I'm sorry, no photo!

Sunday 14 November 2021

Day 3 at Hanmer Springs and new friends

Backing up a bit -  in the afternoon of Day 2 (SAD: sore arse day) I went and spoke to two guys whose caravan was parked up near us. I was sure I had seen or met one of the men before. After  a bit of working out which were the two degrees of separation, we discovered that we had a friend in common: Derek. So of course there was an obligatory phone call to Derek to surprise him with this chance meeting up. Greg and Alan came over for a chat after they'd used the hot tub - perhaps I should have done that given my bum was sore ...

On Day 3 we did another walk, having decided that biking was probably not going to be too good for my lower spine. And apart from that, getting the bikes down from the bike rack would be a bit of a struggle with me off heavy lifting! But my back was feeling pretty good considering how hard I had landed on my coccyx - I am so pleased with Chris the physio!

We headed for the part of the Hanmer Forest that is right next to the holiday park and did what we think was Dog Stream Walk. It was hard to tell as the three forest walk maps that we looked at within about 200 metres of each other were all different and hard for me to to match up... whatever. Where we walked was lovely.

This is the first map - I took a photo in case we needed to consult it while rambling ...
Dog Stream

And facing the other way

Old woman beside Dog Stream

What was I saying to David at this point? Perhaps it was 'Have you finished taking photos of my back yet?'

Clearly he was NOT finished

These trees are very very tall

And I am rather short - on heading in the general direction of away ...

When we got to the scene of the previous day's marital discord, we (I) managed not to be grumpy and not to fall over, and we did the part of the Sculpture Walk I hadn't done the day before.

It occurs to me that I am rather curious to know what this creature is doing to this log


The orangutan

And we came out at exactly the same spot I did the previous day and walked back into the village along the same road - no fighting or biting, just pleasure. A lovely walk on a warm sunny day.

Dinner was early - I made saag aloo (potato and spinach curry) and defrosted one container of left over veg and lentil curry.  And because we were leaving early in the morning (5.30-ish) and it would be too early by far to say goodbye, we had to pop over the say goodbye to Greg and Alan. Out came the gin and tonic just for one drink, which became 3... Much hilarity and the discovery we have Tom as a friend in common too!

So on Saturday we are going to have dinner and stay overnight at their place. I am making cheese tart and lemon syrup cake - both of which will be cooked at their place.

Thursday 11 November 2021

Day 2 at Hanmer Springs and I get a sore arse

Our site at Hanmer Springs Top10


Blossoms are still doing their very lovely thing down here. This tree is in the side street next to the camp.

This view must be spectacular in the winter when those mountains are covered in snow. Pretty impressive even now.

After breakfast on Tuesday at Fire and Ice (had to see if it was as good at breakfast as it was for lunch the previous day - no, not really) we went for a walk in the Hanmer Forest - it is an exotic forest, very few NZ native trees, so it looks quite strange - exotic, I guess. Lots of larch and very tall straight things (trees, they are called ...) and very little undergrowth - very different from NZ bush, that is for sure.

Anyway, we entered the forest on a downhill path that was signposted as being NO to bikes. But what do I spy on the track? A skidding bike tyre mark. My sense of being grumpy kicks in about people who don't think the rules apply to them and I tell David that we are going to spread out across the track so that if someone tries to cycle past us I can give them a piece of my mind... Actually I was more likely to be polite but firm, rather  than passive aggressive.

Anyway, I didn't get the chance - as we walked down the slope and around a corner, my feet slid out from under me on the gravel and I landed very hard on my bum and on my hands that I put out to protect my spine. Ow Ow Ow!!! I sat for a few seconds before getting David to help me to my feet. Amazing how I felt like crying - even though it was painful, it wasn't the worst fall I've had. But not only did it make me tearful, I felt really grumpy - not about the cyclists (non existent) but about falling over.

Even though I had fallen over, I still wanted to go for a walk - I think I knew that I had to keep the muscles and spine moving. So down the path we went and over the bridge.

We were aiming for the Sculpture Walk, a circular track with sculptures in the trees - surprising that they call it after what it is really, isn't it? We found the photo of a dog sculpture on a post and started looking for the actual dog sculpture, but could not see it. So I kept walking, grumbling in a bad tempered way, and then a couple of hundred yards further on I saw another post with the dog photo. Aha, I thought, that's the signage that is meant to tell me that this is the way to the Sculpture Walk. Not totally obvious, and my bum was still sore. David had stopped and was rootling about trying to find said dog back at the first sign, so I phoned him and he wasn't happy that I was impatient (but I'm not, he has told me so and I have written it down in a blogpost somewhere). So in a very patient way, I hung up on him and walked off on my own, going the opposite way to the signposted way - that'll show him, I thought! Did you know what a grown up I am?

The first sculpture I came to

Three mice?


Anyway, eventually he rang back after about 5 minutes and I didn't answer because I was still being very grown-up and sulky at the same time. So he texted to say he was going back to the motorhome and I texted to say I was walking clockwise around the track. 


A bear in climbing gear - que??
A bloody possum ...

None of the sculptures were of NZ animals - not surprising, I suppose given it is a forest of exotics. But a possum!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

And then I got halfway around and thought I didn't want to do the rest, so I exited the forest on a track that pointed to the main entrance. 

And at the main entrance there was the dog that was in the photos at the other entrance to the walk - shame they didn't put a written sign that said 'Follow the dog signs'...


So I walked back to Hanmer village on the road way.

While I was on my way back, David texted to say he was waiting for me at the beginning of the Sculpture Walk and I texted back to say I was out of the forest and walking back to the motorhome, and I would meet him on the corner of two streets. Then he texted to say he'd taken a wrong turn and was a bit lost. So I sent him a pin from where we entered the forest, not far from where I got a very sore bum, and he made his way back. I stopped sulking, apologised for being grumpy, and gave him a hug and we walked to the small supermarket, and because my back and neck were sore, as well as my bum being very painful, he carried the three bags of groceries. 

On the way back, we stopped at a physiotherapist rooms that I had seen previously - of course, Ann would say it was meant to be that the physio was there when I needed her**. I just say that it was my very good luck that it was her day to work (she only does two days a week there), and that she had a spare appointment for me that afternoon. While I waited back at the motorhome, I took turmeric capsules and had a lie down. 

**It being meant to be means that I was meant to fall over too - and I am sure that's not right!!

The physio session made a big difference - she did a lot of massage all up and down my spine, and into my glutes - that particular massage was painful, but I knew it was helping. With the assistance of paracetamol, turneric and ibuprofen, I felt pretty good the following morning. 

So people, all I can say is if you have a fall and hurt your back, go immediately to a physio, an osteopath or a massage therapist - immediate treatment makes a huge difference. The painkillers and anti-inflammatories were good too ...

My ACC card - session cost $30 and the rest is covered by ACC because it was an accident. Even though I am essentially retired and even though it wasn't work related. Good system, eh? If I need more treatment for it, I just quote that number. Very cool!

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Waiau with Ann and Salvi

 We have just had a fabulous 3 days with Ann and Salvi at the motorcamp in Waiau. It is a lovely camp and definitely worth going to. David and I were in the motorhome and A&S had a double room in what used to be workmen's quarters. The kitchen (where David and Salvi did all of the dishes), dining room and lounge were a really good size, the facilities were wonderfully clean, and the campgrounds were lovely - every powered site had a hedge in between. There was a children's play area including a trampoline. Lots of bench seat tables, and the staff were really friendly and helpful. We didn't try it, but the owner has a food truck cafe that is open Fri, Sat, Sun evenings.

David and I drove down from Kaikoura and were absolutely sure we had never been on the particular road before. Wrong! I have hunted through the blog but cannot find reference to it (not using a search function  - as advised by the IT Help Desk fundi on board ...) We know we must have been along the road because we remember calling in to Mt Lyford Lodge at some point. But not to worry.

The road was extremely interesting - we crossed large ranges and went down into deep but very open valleys with huge braided rivers. Just beautiful! And it was so intense that we didn't stop to take any photos, sorry! I understand that road was the one travelled by all traffic when SH1 was closed after the 2016 earthquake - those truckies are champs!

Ann and Salvi drove from Nelson so they had a journey of 5 hours. It was great to see them arrive. I had cooked dinner for us all so it was a big catch up time. Cards after dinner - 5 Crowns. Not sure who won but I do know it wasn't me!

On Saturday morning Ann and I went out for a walk together, re-establishing our 3 x a week walks that we usually do remotely. We just wandered around the streets following any turning that we felt like. 

The notice board (interp) outside the camp gates.
The Catholic Church was badly damaged in the 2016 earthquake - while the earthquake is known as the Kaikoura earthquake, its first large jolt was actually centred in Waiau. If you look closely, you can see the tower has lurched away from the rest of the building. Some of the shingles on the eaves of the large part of the building have fallen off. Amazingly, the stained glass windows are still intact.


A 1939 Plymouth beautifully restored. The guy in the cap found it in an old chook shed and has done the restoration himself. He has owned the car for about 30 years.

We found the Waiau Tavern and went in to find out about dinner - I had checked out the menu on their facebook page and it was impressive. So that decision was made!

Later in the morning we all went out walking and followed the Waiau Memorial Track - the town is little, but has great facilities and is well served by its local community groups who make the place really attractive. 

The interp Ann is studying in the photo below. She had to take the photo for me because she is tall and statuesque and can take the photos from a higher altitude!


It was warm after the walk up the hill, so jerseys around the waist were the go! Ann is reading the interp about the war memorial. The ball and the bell-shaped plinth it is on both fell off during the 2016 quake.

The ubiquitous war memorial. We noticed that there were several names common to both world wars - fathers/uncles and sons/nephews. Such a huge waste and enormous sorrow.

The view over the town to the ranges beyond. This plain is surrounded by mountains and has its own little microclimate.

I'm not sure why they needed a sit down when we had come down the hill!! The tennis club is well maintained and is also used for netball.

Ann and David and I stopped at a gate where 3 dogs came racing up barking hello. Their owner came out and said they were probably protecting the 4 foxy/jack russell puppies inside. So we arranged to go back and see the puppies on our way out to dinner. Heart melting moment - fortunately they were all spoken for or I am sure we would have been talking one home ...

Aren't they just beautiful?

Nana naps in the afternoon, if I remember correctly, then out for dinner at the Waiau Tavern. Dinner was yum. 

The tavern is in a prefab building on the grounds next to the wreckage of the old historic Waiau Hotel that was badly damaged in the 2016 earthquake (a bit of a theme here for the old stone and concrete buildings), and as the owner was deciding about renovating and restoring it, it burned down - arson is suspected but not proven. The owner says she is fairly sure she knows who did it, but as it cannot be proven, there is nothing to be done.

Michelle runs a good bar and her food is good, and all cooked in a very small kitchen. So it was a bonus for us that we were the only diners that early on a Saturday evening. Best chips I have had for some time, I have to say!

David's blue cod burger and Salvi's seafood platter. Ann and I both had burgers -blue cod for me and chicken for Ann. Just yummy. The woman who runs the Waiau Tavern was inordinately grateful that we had come for dinner.

 Dinner was followed by Memphis Meltdown chocolate-covered icecreams from the dairy. I yelled in the door for David to put his mask on, and then I very cheekily ordered two young men out of the dairy as they weren't wearing masks - they sheepishly but graciously went and got them from their truck. It is amazing what being short, grey haired, and loud with a laugh-y voice allows a person to get away with...

I carried my Memphis Meltdown home to the freezer - I knew that if I had eaten it then I would have repeated my Paekakariki VVV experience which was not a desired outcome...

However when I woke up the next morning at 5.30am, I ate it then. A Gooey Caramel Memphis Meltdown is just the thing for a pre-breakfast snack, I find!

Breakfast outside in the sunshine on Sunday.

See that cloudless blue sky, and David's hat on already? Tamarillos, yoghurt and home made muesli for Ann and me, toast for David and Salvi. Of course Ann and I had toast afterwards!

 Then the Riverside walk which finished up with yet another Memphis Meltdown - 2 in one day for me, but Ann and Salvi were only on their first that day and David was abstemious - such a goody two shoes.



OK, which way should we be going?

The road bridge out of town towards Hanmer Springs. You can get some idea of the scale of the river bed from down there - but not its full range.

Yet another decision point ...

Under the bridge

Cards, sparkling rose and sparkling grape juice under the awning, followed by another nana nap.

Dealing the cards was a test for Salvi and me because we had been drinking rose. Avoiding those gaps between planks was tricky ...

My hand on Queens, the penultimate round - I was out after one card drawn, if I remember correctly. Much howling and swearing from the others but I still didn't win the game, dammit!

Cards after dinner too - we had started playing Up and Down the River this time as a change from 5 Crowns. As far as I remember, I didn't win any of those games either, dammit! We were all early to bed - even Ann who is notorious for staying up late.

Today we travelled together (convoy) to Hanmer Springs. 

The view upstream from the single lane bridge out of Waiau. The bridge is really really long and spans the whole of the braided riverbed. I did stop to take the photos, you'll be pleased to know.

We made a nostalgia stop off at Rotherham because Ann was born there in the maternity home which is now a private home. It is for sale currently, if you want to buy it. See the link here

We stopped in the main street and were going to walk there but Ann realised it was almost a kilometre down the highway. The guys wanted to walk, so Ann and I drove. Ann kindly went back to collect them - I would have done so but best that she did it in the car rather than my doing a U-turn on the main highway!
The house/former maternity home is down that long drive. We were not cheeky enough to ask if we could have a look around. Although I was tempted. However I knew David and Salvi would have had kittens if I'd suggested it ...

Beautifully scented roses at the gate

David and I are in a lovely large site at the Top10 Hanmer Springs - shaded by the trees, view of the mountains out the front windows, close to the facilities. 

Lunch was at The Fire and Ice cafe - very good food, and it was great that they had 2 vegetarian options on the lunch menu. I had the samosas and David had the blackbean burger. Ann and Salvi went all carnivorous of course: lamb salad and ribs ... Then, nortee nortee, David and I shared a warm chocolate brownie for dessert. Very delicious indeed!

Dinner was baked beans on sourdough toast back in the motorhome; and Ann and Salvi are back in Nelson now and their daughter Gina was cooking their dinner - probably something much more exciting! Note: Ann reported that she and Salvi weren't hungry so saved their dinner for the following day. They are much better behaved than we are obviously!