Sunday 30 January 2022

A message for David

 I sent this to David, telling him I loved him really.

He has now printed it out and pinned it to his office wall - which proves my point really ...

By the way, there is an apostrophe missing - don't think I didn't notice ... And so did the procrastinator.

Excellent word, procrastinate - it means towards tomorrow in Latin.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

And it's done!

 The concreting exercise was successful and we are pleased!

Cheese scones were produced early which was a good thing as the concrete truck's arrival was brought forward again to 9:30. 

The truck arrives and only Pete is here from the contractors ...

Pete needed the wheelbarrow dampened so the concrete slid off easily

Warren reversing down the driveway. I had moved the motorhome back out of the way, but a couple of the roses beside the drive got a bit of an unwanted trim ... Of course, he was more interested in avoiding the cabbage tree for some reason!

Zack and Mike arriving wondering how come the concrete truck was early ...

David likes to check my height against the wheels ...

Warren is ready to pour.

Mike on his way with barrow number two, I think

Westie was in charge of spreading and placement. Westie was one of the guys who built that fence to his left some years ago too.

The mesh had been placed on the first layer, Westie was spreading out the first part of the second layer and Zack was on the big rake.

Mike bringing a barrowload - that is extremely heavy. Pete who is in his 60s was only doing half loads - very sensible! Mike was using it as softball training, I think - good for arm and back development.

David and I watched - a much better use of our time and skill. I did take photos though and made tea, coffee and the scones ...

Warren holding back the flow while Pete leaves.

One layer on all over and Westie doing something I'd love to do - standing in wet concrete. Zack is waiting for the next spreading manoeuvre and Pete is watching - I think he needed a break.

Zack's turn at the smoothing while Mike delivers the next barrowful and Westie keeps an eye.

Starting to look really good.

After a late morning tea, Westie did an initial float smoothing where he used a very wide smoothing trowel on an extremely long handle. That float operation is designed to bring the excess water to the surface so it can be swished gently off the edges. After that, they all left with the hope that the rain would hold off.

It didn't, dammit! It wasn't hard and mostly was not a problem to the surface - except where the magnolia tree next door overhangs the concrete. The drips from the tree were MUCH larger than the rain drops!

In the front left, you can see that the surface is pocked. The offending branches are just above. You can see Westie's float trowel. It was leaning against the raised vegetable box and was very long!

They were due to return to do a final float after about an hour. But because of the pockmarks and because it was over an hour, I called the contractor to find out when they would be back - the concrete takes a while to go off, but there isn't really a long timeframe where it is still workable.

Zack and Westie came back and sorted the pockmarks - it was not a simple task, and we are grateful they did such a good job of it. Westie is kneeling on a long metal plank  and leaning on a trowel - just shows how fast the concrete starts to go off that his trowel didn't sink under this weight!

Edges being smoothed and rounded

The almost finished, not yet solidly dry result. We are happy

The guys have to come back on Friday to do two cuts across it, from front to back and from side to side. Apparently, according to the lovely Luke, they are required to ensure that it doesn't crack. Must be right because he did it on the concrete pad under the motorhome and that has not cracks at all!

Friday's morning tea is going to be banana and blueberry muffins. I am not sure how many people are needed to do the cutting, but I will make sure there's enough muffins for all of yesterday's team...

Right now I am going out to give the concrete a little wetting with a gently running hose so it doesn't dry out too fast.

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Concreting happening today

So of course, it is raining. The concreting has been delayed twice since before Xmas because of rain that was forecast, and neither time did rain eventuate. But today, of course, it has.

However we have asked the firm to go ahead regardless of the weather. Our thinking is that with Omicron in the community here now further delays will run into issues of resourcing due to either the contractor's staff becoming ill and having to isolate or the concreting firm being in the same boat. Of course, it could be David or me who gets infected which means we would both need to isolate, with no one able to come to the house.

So any minor damage to a newly concreted surface can be fixed later if necessary. And having the rest of the summer where we will probably be at home and able to use the back garden area for sitting out at a less than perfect concrete surface and eating and enjoying the clement weather seems far preferable to us than continuing with the currently unusable space.

We used to have the table and chairs on the grass, and it was generally excellent. However in the evenings, the pesky little insects that live in the lawn and like to come out for blood in the dusk were an absolute menace. The concrete pad is an effort to reduce the size of their habitat.  I suspect we will still use a plethora of citronella candles (I wanted to call them limoncello when my mind was hunting for the word 😆) and we also have purchased a couple of the ultraviolet zappers that will be employed...😈😈


The view of the unusable space from the back doorstep - smack bang in the middle with no space at either end to put out the outdoor table and chairs.

And from the sunroom - it'll be lovely when we can sit out there. I plan to place a few pots and David's dad's sundial as well.


Cheese scones for the workers are planned - David has already grated the cheese last night. He's a good man. 

However he DID forget to reset the tea maker and set it to make my early morning cuppa. He is a bad man. He is now on probation. However (x 2), to show that I am merciful, I have a) made tea for me and b) made his special tea for him, and c) not raised the fact that he forgot to sort out my teamaker last night, and d) not informed him of his probationary status. 😇😇😇😇

He is also therefore very lucky to be married to such a forgiving angel ...

Saturday 22 January 2022

Getting Bike Fit in the Bay and Omicron is here, dammit!

 We are staying in Waimarama with Willie and Chris.

David with his friend Carlos who doesn't move far from Willie ...
This is what I can see in the mirror in these tall people's house ...

And while we have been here, we have

  • dropped our bikes off at The Hub in Hastings for their check ups (we love The Hub - absolutely wonderful customer service)
  • had lunch at Janneke and Nico's (cheese scones made by me and tomatoes grown by J&N)
  • have been out for two bike rides with W&C,
    • the first was an 18km circular route from Taradale to Puketapu, out on one side of the river and back on the other - with lunch at the Puketapu Tavern 
    • the second was 36kms return from Awatoto to Bay View - with lunch at the cafe in the campground at Bay View
  • made the decision that we will have a day off biking tomorrow ...
  • eaten yummy food - Willie is a great cook.
The whole group - Chris did the selfie because he is tallest and has the longest arms ...

At Awatoto almost ready to head off on our ride to Bayview.


Not the best photo, but that is a marlin caught by those two young men.

On our way back from Bayview, we could see the northern side of the port and Bluff Hill.

I raced ahead (at about 22kph) looking to minimise the amount of time I was seated. So I stopped in the shade after I'd passed the port buildings, then I waited for the others. Chris came first - I was too slow to get a photo of him. Here comes David.

And Willie coming through the shady patch.

We both have new more comfortable bike seats from The Hub, and I have had a riser fitted to the handlebar column (by Robert at The Hub) so now my bike looks very Dutch - like a sit up and beg bike! And it's very comfortable to ride.

Dinner last night was pizza, built by Willie and me, cooked by Chris in the Weber BBQ. Yummy!

Chris is cutting up David's and my pizza - all got consumed, and to be honest, David had 5/8 of it ...

This morning, for Lisa on What A Lark, I took photos of Willie and Chris's garden - Willie loves her garden and even though they have had no rain for a couple of months, with none predicted for at least two more weeks, she has trained her plants to cope without constant watering. Of course, they use rinse water for spot watering.


Tomatoes by the garage have gone crazy!

Petunias looking fabulous!

Our next stop is going to be Waipukarau for a bike ride on our way back to Waikanae.

These plans may be disrupted by the news that with at least 10 cases of Omicron now in the community we are going into RED on our Traffic Light System. That means masks always in indoor settings and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained, limits of 100 people at venues where all are vaccinated, 25 where they are not. There is guidance about duration of isolation if infected or a close contact, which I have to study a bit more.

The government planning is based on scenario planning for up to 50,000 cases - hard to imagine here in NZ where we have successfully pretty much kept covid at bay for the last 2 years.

And our World Famous amazing Prime Minister has postponed her wedding which was due to happen in the next week or so. When asked how she felt about it, she said 'That's life. Of course I am sad. But other people have had a lot more to deal with when unable to see loved ones before they passed away or when they have been very sick.' She truly is an amazing person. We are so lucky to have her.

OK, now it's a question of wait and see what happens over the next 24 hours re accommodation availability - that will determine whether we travel directly home or whether we stay in Waipukurau - motel owners may be a bit chary about having people coming to stay right now. A phone call will determine that though.

We have been chatting with Willie and Chris this evening about whether we will still go to the South Island in March - they are due to go a couple of weeks before us. We have all decided that we will play the wait and see game really. And we agreed also that deciding whether or not we can go on holiday is a very first world problem ...

Back to the previous post about being in Tongaporutu:

While we were in Tongaporutu, we visited the old bach. It looks very, very different. Kelly and Peter have stripped it out and changed where the bedroom is - that was part of the lounge for us. They have opened out the bedroom and the dining area into one large room - it's very empty in the summer because they have also extended the deck and have transparent plastic walls and pretty much live in it constantly. 

They have relined the walls and ceiling with ply which looks cool and is easy maintenance. They lifted the carpet (very old, tired, worn), uncovered a large amount of sand from over the years ..., and then they have sanded and polyurethaned the matai floor boards. It looks wonderful!

The bedroom - I love the photo of two of the sisters with Taranaki in the background.

The new lounge which has incorporated the bedroom.

The kitchen has been refurbished - it needed it...

And a lovely job has been made of the bathroom!

 It is great to see the bach being used and loved, and it does lessen the loss of part of our family history. Rather than seeing it as a loss, I'm viewing it as a change of direction - and the fact that Kelly and Peter are enjoying it does assuage the pangs of that change.

Thursday 13 January 2022

The inevitability of Tongaporutu

Prior to travelling up to Taranaki, I had looked at buying a new bike seat given my bum was still sore from my fall in Hanmer Springs and bike riding was hurting my coccyx. David and I had done a ride from home down to the expressway and along the cycle/walking path alongside it to Paraparaumu. The ride was lovely but I was clear something needed to change before I'd be comfortable biking longer distances several days in a row, as would be required if we plan to do the Otago Rail Trail.

I'd looked online and found several alternatives that looked extremely comfortable, but how could I tell without trying them? So I detached my seat post and seat from my bike and headed for the bike store in Paraparaumu. I tried a couple of seats there (the young guy attached them to a small bike for me - I did tell him I wouldn't be offended if he fitted them to a kid's bike ...). One was a slight improvement on mine but not enough of an improvement to spend $80 on, the other was the most uncomfortable thing I have ever sat on in my life! However, the young guy adjusted my own bike seat so that it was tilted backwards. Success!! Comfort!! No bouncing on the coccyx!! No need to buy a new seat!!

So on New Year's Day I did a 12km circular bike ride with Jim, Judy, and their friends Lesley and Peter who were staying with them. My bum still got a bit sore, but that was numbness of the buttocks, rather than pain in the coccyx, so I was well pleased. And it disappeared when we stopped for photography ...

Just after we crossed SH3 and headed inland on the small country road, this was the view across the fields. Magic!

A hapless road race biker was on a training ride and I asked him to get a photo of all of us. Well, that's what old people can do, isn't it? L-R: me, Peter, Jim, Judy, Lesley. David and Callum had stayed home.


They of course did a much longer route to Bertram's Bridge, but I knew my limits, so I was pointed in the right direction to complete the circuit and rejoin the Ohanga Road back out to cross over SH3 and back to their place.

The view from Jim and Judy's deck - no wonder they don't want to move!

We spent the next three days at Waitara Holiday Park with the family - as their powered sites were booked we stayed in the triangle and checked out the new solar panels and lithium battery. David was in heaven - new gadgets to boffin... And the sun was shining very brightly and hotly (is that a word?) so the battery was very happy at 100% most of the time.

Moored up in the triangle. Dee tells me they can get 3 campers in there but we used it all. Although we could have budged up if they needed more space.



This is the graffiti art that Cam and Kurt did at the skatepark across from the camp. The M is the logo of the Dodge Ram that Muzz and Dee own.

I am a bit obsessed with that maunga...

One morning, before it got too hot, we walked into Waitara to do a bit of grocery shopping - we walked along the new walkway. It is a lovely walk alongside the river.

It was so hot I even had a swim in their pool with Dee - well, more of a float around to be fair. The polystyrene noodles are so good for that, so since we have been home I have bought a couple for us.

And Shona came for lunch on one day, and brought her brother John for cheese scones the next day. I have known them since I was a teenager when I used to go out with one of their older brother, Pari. Lots of reminiscing and catching up. 

On our way out to Tongaporutu, we stopped at Onaero and repeated the New Year's Day bike ride with Jim and Judy so that David could enjoy it too.

Then on to Tongaporutu with a quick stop at Urenui to get teabags (I had run out and did not put them on the list for our shopping foray/walk - no teabags would be an absolute disaster) and diesel (I hadn't realised how low the tank was, and Urenui is the last fuel stop before Awakino). 

We were lucky enough to get a spot on the riverbank overlooking the river and the river mouth. David's words: we need to stay here at least 3 nights. And there was no disagreement from me.

It would be fair to say I am a bit obsessed with this view - the river mouth at Tongaporutu. It is particularly beautiful at high tide, but is so special to me.


This is the coffee/ice cream/takeaway place at the beach - very very popular and good food.

Mel didn't get to share the vege burger and fries ... Oops, bed's not made, sorry!

The site, which is a freedom camping spot, was quite full but was still peaceful. And hot! The major benefits of parking on the riverbank are the view and a breeze off the water. However where we were parked there was little grass or soil, and the ground has been packed with small rocks, so we could not put out our awning as the pins would not penetrate the ground ... So we turned side on to the riverbank and out went the awning. We were a bit uncomfortable about it as it looked like we were taking up more than our fair share of space. However, we we still between the two motorhomes that were there as we arrived, and there certainly wasn't space for another in the gap. 

At Joan and James' place I saw this pot on their deck - Joan was given it by the people who bought our bach. Dee and I had given it to our kids at Dad's funeral, because he always wore jeans shorts. Joan loves it because her dad always wore them too. Dee and I are pleased it has a good home that we can visit...

We took the bikes down to James and Joan's place, next to our old bach. We left them there with them so that they weren't a temptation for anyone with nefarious intent. Apart from getting from the camping area to the baches on the other side of the main road, there was nowhere safe to ride really.  I did used to ride from the bach to Ahititi along SH3 when I was a teenager, and before that I used to ride to the local dairy farm to buy a billy of milk at 6.30 on a Saturday morning. I wouldn't ride that road now - traffic is too fast and there is much more of it. And my courage is a much smaller commodity and my sense of mortality is much bigger ...

We did a nostalgia walk back along the riverbank which has now been formed into a walkway - it used to be a jumble of reeds, people's sections that exuded into the queen's chain, places to leave the dinghies and kayaks ... And we stopped to say hello to Lee and Gordon. They gave David a fillet of freshly caught snapper and invited us to use their kayaks the next day. 

So David has added fresh snapper to his favourite fish list (panfried with butter, lemon and parsley) - eaten outside the motorhome on the riverbank. Bliss for him!

This kind of mist usually presages a very fine hot day - but for a while it looks gloomy.

These two guys were trying to find the channel to get out across the bar early to fish - however they messed up and had to retrace their route. I think they went out a bit later when there was a bit more water in the river.


Kayaking was lovely but no photos because we didn't take our phones - we went upriver on the last hour of the incoming tide, so almost no paddling. I think we probably went about 2kms upriver. Lee had lent us a couple of old towels which came in very handy for draping over our legs as it was extremely hot! I had put my one in the back of the kayak and hadn't realised there were holes in that section so my towel was drenched. A very good thing as it kept me cool! And an extra good thing about not taking the phone was that I would have unthinkingly put it in that compartment - certain disaster averted...

I paddled all the way back - I think the tide was on the turn when we started back, but as we were well upstream there was still flow against us for a bit and when it started to flow with us it wasn't particularly strong. David told me later he had tried to catch me up and overtake me, but no luck. All that rowing and paddling from childhood has clearly stood me in good stead.

Lee and Gordon came down for nachos (Nadia Lim's Zingy Nachos with Marilyn modifications, of course ...) later that afternoon and brought another piece of fish for David - happiness. 


All the bits ready for deconstructed nachos. The tomato/onion/bean mixture was in the frying pan, nacho chips were in a bowl. Yummy!

We considered going around the front beach at low tide but it was still too hot in the evening. Instead I made a veg curry for lunch the next day.

Magnificent, peaceful, calming.

So on our last morning, we got up early and had the front beach to ourselves - we shared it only with the birds: oyster catchers on shore and terns on one of the Three Sisters. 

And we are on our way...

We walked well over the spit that bounded the river at the moment - it will probably be different even this few days later. That's 2 of the 3 sisters and the large rock in the foreground is Patangata Island which was a look out to check from raiding iwi from north or south.

The only other footprints on the beach - oyster catchers.

See what I mean? I am obsessed with that mountain/maunga. And with this beach which constantly changes. And see the terns?


The petrified wood has been uncovered in recent times - it is the first time we have seen it here - it shows how much the land has been impacted by the pounding of the sea and storms.


Me and my mountain and my favourite beach.

The nearest rock is a new sister, carved out of the cliff by the sea - lots of land lost over recent years.

All of this has been formed in the last few years too.

Not sure what I was pointing out to David but clearly he wasn't attending to my words ...

Well, sometimes you do just have to find out how deep the pool is - up to my thighs, and my shorts got wet ...


As we were returning a father and daughter appeared and kindly took photos of us. 

The strata in the rocks as we walked back

And in one part of the cliff - I am always fascinated by how the land has built up, slid away, and continued to build up. On this coast it is shown in sharp relief.

Then it was time to make our way home. So down we drove to pick up the bikes from Joan and James, and also take the opportunity to catch up with Stephen Corkill, who gave us three large snapper fillets he had vacuum packed and frozen. Such kindness. 

We called in to Waitara at the camp to replace a gas bottle, and have hugs with the team, then we had lunch with Rein (our veg curry, his rice and salad - all from his garden). Rather than driving all the way home, we stopped at a place we have passed the sign to countless times but never noticed - Koitiata, which is on the coast 8kms out from Turakina. A small old camping ground that was quite lovely. 

This notice made us smile ...

Sunset at Koitiata - the west coast of the North Island is spectacular - just like the South Island's West Coast.