Friday 12 April 2024

On the road again

Once again we are out on the road - this time in the South Island. As a reward/recompense for having sold the boat and not going to the UK this year, when I saw an ad for a 4 night trip down in Fiordland I suggested to David that we do it. It includes 2 nights at the Fiordland Lodge (swanky - tidy clothes required) and 2 nights on a launch in the Doubtful Sound.

So that meant either a flight to Queenstown or take the motorhome for another trip down south. 

And then David received an email notifying him that there was a Pub Choir event in Sydney. He had previously asked Kirsty if she'd be interested in attending with him. So, as we were going to be in the South Island, we decided to fly from Christchurch and leave the motorhome on its own for a few days.

Here we are currently in Christchurch - our flight was originally due to be leaving at 6.45 this morning, and neither of us saw the email or text at 1.30am to say the flight was delayed. Hence we were up at 3.45am to finish getting ready for the taxi's arrival at 4.20am... As I'd showered and dressed by the time I saw the text, it was too late to go back to bed - I already had my shoes on, after all!

We've cancelled the taxi and rescheduled it for 6.30am, had an early breakfast, and now we wait. David had turned off the heating in anticipation of our departure, and now I'm chilly again!

The trip so far:

We had a smooth crossing on the ferry - it was incredibly windy with a strong northerly, but Salvi told me later that it's only the southerly that has the Cook Strait kick up rough. Good to know, even though the knowledge was a bit late for my peace of mind!

We headed straight over to Nelson and Stoke after the ferry trip - we had planned a few days with Ann and Salvi. There was lots of Five Crowns to play. Report: Ann and I won four out of five matches against David and Salvi. One was particularly close with only 2 points in it; but the others were decisive wins. Yay!!

Back before we left for the UK in April last year, Ann and Salvi bought our Kia Sportage - a seamless swap as we drove it to Wellington Airport complete with our luggage and our grandson Olek, they flew in from Nelson, we had brekkie together and then they drove off to the Hawke's Bay to visit their son. I mention this because on going out and about with them while we were staying at their place this time, I was struck by several things:

  • the Sportage is very high - how I climbed into it for 4 years I do not know! Ann said I had the seat up very high (I needed to so I could see out of the windscreen without peering through the steering wheel) and she and Salvi had to lower the seat so they didn't take their heads off on the doorjamb. I'll believe that about Ann as she is very tall, but Salvi is hardly any taller than me, dammit!
  • the Sportage has a lot of instruments that I do not remember at all
  • the Sportage is huge in comparison to the Honda Jazz we now own
  • I am pleased we do not own the Sportage now.

We went to visit Chris and Ann who have moved into a Summerset village in Richmond. It's rather lovely, but very different from Parkwood. As it's new and was a scraped earth development and formerly farmland, there are no established trees and it looks like all available space is taken up with housing. Very impressive facilities though. And there is room for people to have vege pods and given it's Tasman district, I expect the newly planted trees will grow. Chris and Ann have a vege pod and also grow tomatoes and they have a grapevine. Apparently the gardens out the front of each place can only be altered by using pots - the plantings already in place have to stay. Ann has lots of pots ...

We were meant to leave Ann and Salvi's on Monday, but early that morning, as I was mixing a batch of cheese scones, I developed a bloody migraine. So it was back to bed for me with neurofen, the cheese scone mix went inside with David for Ann to bake and I tried to sleep off the headache. It's been the toughest one to shake unfortunately as my neck is a bit of a mess and that keeps the headache hovering - as it has for the last several days, dammit! David has been doing a good job of stretching my neck but it needs a couple of adjustments and they won't happen until we are back in Wellington. In the meantime, it's applications of the heated wheatbag that Ann gave me, neurofen and neck stretching for me. The cheese scones went down a treat though, I gather...

We headed away from Stoke on Tuesday morning and drove to Murchison - that is such a scenic drive - it's not until recently that it has registered on us just how isolated by mountain ranges Nelson is - ranges to the north-east, to the west and to the south - hemmed in, they are! But then, if you look at a topographical map of the South Island, there are mountains pretty much all over it !

In the year following the Kaikoura earthquake when the route south from Picton was through Nelson, Murchison and the Lewis Pass, Murchison had a period of being a thriving little town - cafes opened up, and those already established did a roaring trade. Since then, the town appears to have lapsed back into its backwater status. However it is a local hub and it does have a thriving Four Square store which sells a huge range of grocery items (not coconut yoghurt though) and an old established haberdashery with a huge range of goods.

We stayed overnight at the NZMCA park which is a real bargain at $5 per person - there was a howl of member outrage when the price went up from $3 per person a couple of years ago... There is a network of these camps throughout NZ and they are very popular. In the main because they are cheap - most of them have no or few facilities. But NZ is scattered with public dump stations that almost all have taps for potable water as well. And many motorhomers and caravanners here seem averse to paying fees to a commercial holiday park. We don't mind doing so because it's usually less than $50 per night and it's a family's livelihood - keep the economy moving, we say. There is a lovely camp outside Murchison that we have stayed at twice, but it was a bit far out to just pop into town for the groceries we needed. And the other one is down by the river and rather dark. 

In the morning, we headed across to the east. 

My god, that road from Murchison to Oxford is interminable! We did two stops: one just as we entered the Lewis Pass where we stopped in a leafy roadside lay-by to have breakfast: yummy - in the frying pan I heated a tortilla and added scrambled eggs to cook along with all of the leftover veg from the burritos we'd had for dinner the previous night plus some additional grated cheese. What's not to like, I ask you? It would have been better if I had a lid for the frying pan as the tortilla wouldn't have got so browned...

And the second stop was somewhere further on - I needed a break and a cuppa. We just pulled off the road at what wasn't a lay-by but did the trick. 

Then it was onwards through Rangiora and on to Oxford. The journey's driving time wasn't much more than 4 hours and in days gone by that would not have been an issue. I AM GETTING OLD!! πŸ‘΅πŸ‘΅πŸ˜

OK, writing this has taken up much of the waiting time for the new departure time for the taxi. Mission accomplished!


Tuesday 9 April 2024

Passports, potties and performances - in the past

 I think I'm starting to sound like Tony Porter of nb Holderness whose post titles, as a matter of course, are often alliterative!

Let's start with performances:

Several weeks ago now, Jane and I went to St James' Theatre in Wellington to see Witi's Wahine - a play that featured some of the women in Witi Ihamaera's novels and his life. It was wonderful - powerful and moving. Really well acted, sung and orated - a small cast who took on different roles throughout the different stories.

However I won't go back to the downstairs seating of that theatre - the rake of seating is not slanted enough and I struggle to see the stage (did you know I'm short?), and the seats are damned uncomfortable! My back was even more of a mess than it was before we went in!

We had a lovely dinner at an Asian place and thought we had plenty of time to get to the theatre. I'd had a 'mare earlier in the day trying to access the tickets which were apparently sent to my phone as electronic tickets, and not available in print. So when we arrived we headed straight for the ticket office to beg to be allowed in with a variety of evidence of ticket purchase: a printed screen shot of the confirmation email, a screen shot of the barcodes and an email showing I'd paid ... I needed a pee so I left Jane sorting out the tickets because we had just realised the show started half an hour earlier than I'd thought! Doh - clearly I didn't read the information closely enough, did I?

Jane and I reminisced about one of our first ventures in the city at night way back in the very late 70s when we both lived in Kilbirnie. I cannot remember what the event was, and it was probably just going in for a drink to have an evening out away from toddlers, having left the husbands at home in charge. On our way back, before we left the city, we stopped at a burger bar, and had a most entertaining time - it was in the middle of the red light district, such as it is/was. As we were much younger and more attractive, we had some interesting interactions with passers-by. I think even a couple of policemen checked we were OK... Both husbands were a bit horrified to learn about it on our return.

At the end of the last post I mentioned that we were going out to a buffet dinner with music that evening. The food was great and the music was really good. The group were called Too Many Chiefs. We were familiar with two of the guys: Andrew and Rob (I think), and another we knew from many years ago - from the group Formyula - but the woman was unknown to us. Good guitarist, reasonable voice but her songs were pretty depressing ... David and I took Grahame and he loved it. We joined some people at a table for 8, so their 5 and our 3 filled in nicely. They were from Speldhurst, a retirement community in Levin. Lovely to meet them and compare retirement village notes.

Moving on to passports:

When we returned from the UK back in September, we very shortly afterwards got ourselves ready to head up to the Far North in the motorhome. We discussed whether we should take the passports with us - not because we were leaving for a foreign country, but for the sake of security. We decided in the end that they would be safer left in a hiding place at home than gallivanting around in the motorhome. So the hiding place was agreed and there they were secreted. All was well, so I thought, until a few weeks after we came home, we made a plan to head to Australia to see Kirsty and to attend the Pub Choir there in Sydney with her. So passports had to be retrieved. I knew where we had put them, but they were not there. So we searched the house and searched again. David told Kirsty that he was happy that I was taking responsibility for losing/misplacing them and forgetting where. He wasn't so sure it was my fault, but he was happy for me to take the blame. Charming, eh?

So there was only one thing to do - replace them. I decided not to replace my UK one - not so useful these days with Brexit rules. Strangely enough the Brits didn't think that the rules they were going to apply to Europeans would also be put in place for them... 

But the NZ ones would be replaced. So applications, new photos (fortunately you can do them at home now), the personal details of a witness who had known us a sufficient length of time, and the applications were sent on their way electronically. 

Then, after the applications had been received and acknowledged, what did ACP come out to the lounge holding? Yep, three passports. Where had he found them? In an opaque plastic bag with our UK currency, Oyster cards, ...

Were they in the place we had agreed to leave them a few months prior? No. Who had moved them? ACP. Had ACP notified me or consulted? No.

Was he lucky to still be alive? Yes. Was I pissed off he'd happily let me take responsibility when he was pretty sure he had moved them from the agreed place? Yes indeed.

Upshot: I am now in charge of security of documents. Sanctions have been put in place. He has been warned...

And replacement passports have been received - it was too late to withdraw the applications because as soon as they are received, Internal Affairs cancels the old passports.

And then there's potties.

Here in Parkwood, we are focusing on earthquake preparedness, and in Sector 10 (our sector) we are being extremely diligent about it. It's clear that, unless an earthquake happens during work hours and on a weekday, the staff will not be available to sort us out. So it behoves us to be as self sufficient as possible. And being self sufficient doesn't mean being on our own; but it does mean for our group, looking after ourselves and each other.

One of the likelihoods is that the sewage system could be damaged (as it was for some months in Christchurch). So having access to a toilet seems like a sensible idea. 

So I hunted down online portable toilets, and found the ideal thing! A portable folding camp toilet - it's ideal because it folds down into a parcel about 6cm high by 35cm x 25cm. Here it is here! They have been dubbed by Janet as the Squatty Potty.

When it arrived at our place, we had a show, try and tell with 5 other women in the sector. All fully clothed of course, but what an absolute hoot. The laughter was uproarious and it was so lovely to hear!

The upshot is that we purchased one each for almost everyone in our sector. Others around the village have also shown interest so I am fairly sure more will be purchased. I am thinking of asking Mighty Ape for a commission!

Over the last couple of our own sector's meetings, we have decided on buying other equipment too: wind up radios, wind up torches, solar power packs for charging our phones and laptops.

We are determined to be prepared and able to look after ourselves and each other. Aren't we wonderfully self sufficient? πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜šπŸ˜šπŸ˜œπŸ˜œ


Saturday 9 March 2024

Friends and food...

The last couple of weeks have been rather social and we like it!

At the beginning of the month, I called in at The Acquired Brain Injury Unit to visit Judy on my way back from the osteopath - the staff told me she was over in the kitchen making her lunch so off I went to surprise her. Well, she is doing fabulously. She had been out that morning to shop for the ingredients and was making a baked frittata. There was plenty, so I stayed and shared lunch with her.

We then had a text a few days ago to say she was to be discharged on 16 Feb - Yay!!! It has been nearly 4 months since her accident, and a long recovery period. My advice is avoid blood thinning meds - and if you have t take them, ask to have the lowest possible/feasible dose of the least powerful drug available. The severity of Judy's injury would have been far less if she wasn't on that stuff. 10 March update: Judy is home, progressing well and fabulous as always. Such a relief!

Then a week ago (back on 8 Feb - god, this post is late!), we had a sector meeting here at our place. Parkwood has a set up where the residents are grouped in sectors of about a dozen (more or less) houses, each with a sector leader and a deputy. The primary purpose is to be a mini-hub of support in a civil emergency, and the secondary purpose is for increasing social cohesion - as we age we can get isolated and having neighbours who keep an eye out and having the occasional get together are both bonding.

I was recently asked by Janet, our lovely neighbour, if I would take over from her as sector leader. Yes, I said. So she briefed me on what was involved and we agreed a meeting of Sector 10 people would be a good idea.

So we had 10 out of 15 people here for afternoon tea and a meeting - 2 people were poorly, 2 weren't really interested, and one (the lovely Brian whose house we stayed in here last February) was away in the South Island.

Afternoon tea was sumptuous, if I do say so myself: cheese scones, plain scones with jam and cream, chocolate brownie and Wendy (our deputy) brought yummy muffins. Note to self (i.e. the catering department): fewer scones and a smaller cake required...

We had an agenda, of course - it's not that long since I ran a lot of meetings that always had an agenda and desired outcomes identified ... And sensibly, if I do say so myself, the first item was Afternoon tea and a catch up.πŸ˜‹

We agreed we would meet once a month and determined we would have our meetings on the first Wednesday. One happy outcome is that after our meetings, we can all go (if we desire) straight up to the monthly Mix and Mingle gathering, and if I continue to over-cater, we can take the leftovers up as our contribution to the nibbles! Result!

The first item on the agenda was afternoon tea and a catch up...

That evening, we went out to Otaki Golf Club to an event  of dinner and live music. The event happens every two months for the cost of $50 each. We asked Christine and Peter who go regularly if we could go too. The music was great with musicians who regularly play together and in a range of different bands. And dinner was not fancy and it was delicious. And who should we see there but Clare, the intrepid woman who has cycled down the west coast of the USA twice and from Auckland back to Paraparaumu via the East Coast, as well as lots of cycling in the South Island... back in 2019, I posted about her here.

Andrew London and Kelvin (?) who regularly play together
The full complement of musicians - they are very good!

 

(10 March update: We really enjoyed the musical evening, and intend to go again, but for the next scheduled time, we will have just arrived in the South Island for our trip down to Doubtful Sound (2 nights in Fiordland Lodge and 2 on a launch in the sound - a treat for not going to the UK this year.)

____________ a month's interlude, and then:

So instead, we are going to an event with two of the same musicians tonight - at The Winemaker's Daughter: a buffet dinner and 4 musicians.I will keep you posted on how it was.)

We've done a bit more entertaining in the month (!! πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜ πŸ˜–πŸ˜‘πŸ˜!!) since I wrote the piece above this and obviously I have been very slack about getting it uploaded! So a rapid update to ensure I get this posted before the sun sets again:

  • We went to Stokes Valley to stay the night with Jo, Shane and Liam - Jo was my PA back in Telecom days and she was brilliant. She always says she was my manager, and she is correct. I was good at managing other people but crap at sorting paperwork and filing, whereas Jo was a star. She also used to field calls from Tim and Kirsty if I was in meetings and had full delegation to say yay or nay to their proposed after school plans...
    • It was great to see them and it has been ages and ages. I have to thank David for setting it up, as he had the idea and executed it - and considering he's not that comfortable doing the social secretary thing, it was impressive. He did volunteer me to make cheese tart though - without consultation, I might add. But still revenge was sweet - Jo made a yummy pasta dish with feta which David professes to hate but ate and had seconds and declared it delicious. Guess what I'll be making soon...
      Mel had to come (we took the motorhome) and of course he had to try out Liam's gear...
      And the drone - yay!!

      I may have got shorter but Jo is still tall and lovely!
      David and Shane - not sure why we didn't get any photos of Liam. He is such a cool kid!
      Mel slept inside and dressed himself in Liam's gear.


  • From Jo and Shane's we headed a wee way north up the Hutt Valley to Silverstream and at a lovely cafe met Sarah and Grahame, their two very grown up and impossibly tall kids, Mya's boyfriend and Grahame's parents, Marjorie and Norman. That was a brilliant catch up too but no photos of anyone - doh!. But a bonus - in an after brunch walk we came across a car show, not vintage but 30s 40s, 50s and 60s cars - all the ones we were familiar with.
    I think my brother had one of these as his first car way back in the 1960s.
    A Bradford van - a friend owned one of these when I was flatting in Nixon St in Hamilton (Teacher's College days - not my favourite time of life). Two flats worth of young nutbars used to pile into the back of it and go jaunting around the city and outside. I remember one trip to Morrinsville for a milkshake. Other trips where we would pull up at the lights on Victoria St and all pile out, run around the van, get back in again in time for the lights to change to green and then off we'd go. As I said: nutbars.



  • part of the staying connected and not losing touch again was that we arranged for Sarah and Grahame, Norman and Marjorie plus two of the 3 young ones to come here for an early dinner after they had been to Tutus on Tour at Southwards the following weekend.
  • and another part of staying connected was that the next weekend Jo, Shane and Liam came for lunch.
    Liam (lovely kid), Jo and Shane here for lunch - afterwards, we played Five Crowns. Liam won and Shane came last. I think that's why he's not smiling ... Much hilarity! I think they were going to buy the game when they got home ...


  • and then the following day we had Robert and Glenn over for lunch.

I have to confess that I made the same meal for both of the Hutt Valley groups: construct your own tortillas with chilli beans (canned - lazy option but David says they are yummy - too hot for me...), spicy cooked tomato, onion and garlic, mushroom sauce, avocado, cheese, lettuce, pickles, relishes, beetroot and carrot salad.

I made a curry for Robert and Glenn - I thought it wise in case all guests conferred and found out about my lack of imagination. I did however, provide the same dessert to the last two sets of guests - apple tarts with icecream. Very yummy.



I sent this to ACP as it seemed very apt.


Friday 2 February 2024

An adventure abandoned

 Earlier this week we decided that we would take the motorhome to Paraparaumu Beach and freedom camp on Friday night, go out for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant with a friend, and be in pole position for Saturday breakfast with the guys.

So we loaded up with teabags, milk, bread, butter, cheese, chutney (in case we got hungry in the night ...), a few clothes and some toiletries; David primed the toilet cassette, and away we went. We called in at Novus Glass in Paraparaumu first because the new suction cup that Sam and the team at Freeway fitted also doesn't like the heat and had let go - leaving the rear view/reversing camera monitor dangling...

Jarrod glued the suction cup on to the windscreen having first removed the glued on bolt that the original camera monitor was attached to. Yay! That means the front windscreen blind now closes properly and I don't need to keep the two sides together with fat rubber bands!

He spoke about his slight anxiety re his ferry trip to Picton on Saturday morning given the weather was meant to be pants. I checked the Wellington, Picton and Cook Strait weather and told him he'd be fine, but to take it easy if it was windy on their way down to Invercargill on their motorbikes - there's a Bert Munro World's Fastest Indian event on this weekend, I think.

For some strange reason, it didn't occur to us it was going to be windy here on the Kapiti Coast - doh... But as we left his workshop, the rain started and we noticed that the sky was black to the west and south. And as we pulled into the freedom camping parking area on the Paraparaumu waterfront, we realised it was pretty damn bumpy with very strong wind gusts and the rain was coming in sideways. And we could barely see Kapiti Island through the deep black rain clouds.

So we turned on the gas, started to make the bed, commented on the wind and the driving rain and then looked at each other. A very quick decision to call our friend David R and suggest cancelling dinner - he said he had just been about to call us and cancel. I do love it when all participants are on the same page!

Gas turned off, and home we went.

It was a bumpy drive back along the expressway, but to be fair, not as windy as our trip from Warkworth down to Whangaparoa a few weeks ago!

As it was hosing down and very windy at Waikanae, we parked the motorhome beside our house, unloaded the little we had taken with us and scurried inside to the warm, dry and immovable accommodation!

After the long trip to the Far North, we had decided we would do short trips away in the motorhome, but I am fairly sure we hadn't banked on durations of less than 3 hours ...

Sunday 21 January 2024

It's too damn hot!

 It may be very cold in the UK and bits of the canal may be frozen over and the new owners of Waka Huia may be considering fitting a firebox, but here in Waikanae it is too damn hot!!

We have resorted to using the heat pump's other function - air-conditioning. 

We have also decided we need to get another unit fitted - we have one in the lounge dining, and we need one in our bedroom.

I know many people will tell me that 29 or 30 deg isn't hot, and I know my lovely sister is visiting friends up in the Far North where it was 29 deg on the day she arrived.

But for me (and for ACP) it is too damn hot - even at 24 deg!

I have been going out for a walk early in the last couple of mornings and it's pleasant at about 7am. By 8am it's getting hot and humid.

On Saturday we went out for breakfast up in Waikanae and David and I walked there. It started to rain during breakfast and the guys offered us a ride home, but we refused the kind offer. I just loved walking home in the rain. It felt wonderful!

Saturday 20 January 2024

For British readers in particular - but for everyone really

 Listen to this please: James O'Brien Full Disclosure: Nick Wallis  

If the link doesn't work for you (it's Apple because we are Mac users here in this house), then look on your podcasts app and find James O'Brien Full Disclosure: Nick Wallis; Exposing the Post Office scandal. It's the latest interview on Full Disclosure.

And if you haven't already watched it, get on to ITVx and watch the 4 part drama series about it.


Thursday 18 January 2024

Visitors in the heat

New hairstyle - not spiky enough to express my gentle personality, I think ...
Out the back ...

The pohutukawa are fabulous this summer - at least they love the heat! David and I were walking back to Parkwood down Kapanui Road.


Under the sun umbrella out the back.
This is the view from Kelson up above the Hutt Valley, where we went to pick up something David had purchased on TradeMe. That is the harbour entrance for Wellington - next stop: Antarctica

It has been so damn hot here that I am spending a fair amount of time lying down - almost none of it outside as I just cannot cope! And I know it's not just about my getting older. I was going to say that some of it may be about no longer living in Johnsonville where, even on the sunniest of days, there was always a cooling breeze. But, no that can't be it as we left Johnsonville back in 2014. And 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded... And 2024 looks to be shaping up to match it, if the first 19 days are anything to go by, dammit!

However, we have had lovely times with friends.

Cat and Henry

Cat and Henry whom we met at Waipoua Forest Camp and gave a ride to Dargaville the following day, got in touch (as requested) and came to stay for 3 nights. Because David was working, instead of setting them up in the spare bedroom/office, we set up two camp-stretchers complete with sponge mattresses (luxury, sheer luxury!)in the garage and the car lived outside for a bit.

They had a pretty blobby time here too although they went out. On a couple of occasions, Henry busked, once in Waikanae ($35) and once at Paraparaumu Beach shops ($25). He's a good guitar player and has a lovely singing voice. Looks angelic and about 15, so I think that all helps...

One evening, Cat made dinner - a veg chilli with lentils. Just yummy. I used the leftovers of that in a pie after they left when Michelle and Taffy came for lunch. Verdict: delicious.

Dinner outside with Cat and Henry - Cat's vege chilli, quesadillas (homemade!) and lots of toppings. Delicious!
We offered them one of the tents we had bought for Kirsty and Olek when we did our road trip in March. So Henry had to put it up to check a) that he could, and b) that it was suitable.
I did have to help so there are very few photos.  Cat was OK for them to accept it, on condition that Henry carries it without complaining about the additional weight (it's 4.7kg)

It did get tautened and looked pretty respectable - almost up to Olek and Kirsty standards! But nowhere near as fast as Kirsty and Olek.
I dropped them at the Waikanae Railway Station and away they went. Hopefully we will see them again before they head back to the UK, either here or when we are in the South Island.
Happy young people.
Lovely young people to have around.

Michelle and Taffy

Michelle and Taffy came for lunch and I used the leftovers of Cat's chilli in a pie - verdict: delicious!

After lunch, Michelle, Taffy and I went for a walk over to Parklands - on the Forest Walk Taffy pointed out these two kereru. They were huge!

 

See? Enormous!!


Sarah

Our lovely Sarah came to stay for a long weekend and it was great to see her. Sarah has featured in the blog before a few times, because she and I have worked together often over the last 35 years - from when she was in her 20s and I was in my 30s. So we are firm friends.

You know that friends are good'uns when you don't have to do anything to entertain them and they are happy to pitch in and prepare food, and then very happy to eat leftovers for the next couple of days. 

We had a couple of afternoons of blobbing - lying on our respective beds. David had relocated his required work machine (i.e. my laptop) to our bedroom and was under strict instructions not to indulge in chat while I was reading or dozing.

We went for a walk around the path that circumnavigates much of Woodlands, the part of Parkwood where we live. Beautiful to be in the cool and the dappled sunlight.
David wanted this photo because it looks like he is taller than Sarah, but he isn't at all. He's using my trick of standing on a higher step ...

All the way round on this walk, I kept saying 'We are so lucky to live here!' And we are.

Robert and Glenn

One set of leftovers that we had to consume was the range of dishes we had prepared for when Robert and Glenn came for dinner - deconstructed nachos and doner kebabs. And the height thing came up then in a discussion about whether Karol is now taller than me. Answer: Yes. There was a measuring session here in the kitchen and pencil marks on the doorjamb. And I have shrunk about 2 centimetres since I was last measured for a passport (I am now 153cm... ) And Sarah is a good 3cm taller than David. Yay!! No wonder Kirsty looks taller than David - because she is!

Sarah has such a radiant smile!

At one point Sarah took a call from one of Jack's carers (Jack has dementia and is in a lovely care home in Nelson). Sarah is just amazing with Jack. This time his call was to tell her she needed to pick him up the next day to take him to a talk he was going to be giving about bowling. (Jack was an Australian cricketer back in the day, also the first coach in the Australian Cricket Academy, and a well respected and much loved coach in the UK which is where we met him back in 2006.)  Sarah didn't argue with Jack about his imagined bowling talk arrangement - she went along with it, and reassured him she would bring everything he needed and she'd get him there on time. In that conversation, he thought she was his mother and told her he had met this lovely girl called Sarah that he really liked ...

Some time ago when Jack was just starting on this dementia journey, we recommended that Sarah get and read the book 'Contented Dementia'. She says it has been hugely helpful in helping her to help Jack.

She has been amazingly sensible in recognising when she was reaching her limit as a full time carer for Jack and seeking help before that breaking point came. It's a lesson many of us need to learn as we and our partners age - and it's an honest conversation we need to have together so we can be prepared. It's a tough one though, that's for sure.

Anyway, just after the phone call, the bowling talk disappeared from Jack's thinking and he was settled and happy - all because Sarah went along with it knowing he'd forget it in a few minutes' time, especially if he was thwarted or told he was wrong.

She is such an example of how to do this care stuff with calmness, love, empathy and compassion. And humour. If Jack knew this was what was happening, he would be the first to be appreciative.

Since Sarah left it has been quite quiet - and it's been too hot to do much.

Grahame

And then we had Grahame around for an early dinner one evening. Build your own falafel burgers. 

Grahame with burger construction underway. A lot more leftovers were created but none were harmed.


 Luke

A knock on the door the other day and it was Luke. He'd been checking a house over in Waikanae and decided to call in. No cheese scones as David had given the last ones to Mike the tiler who had come earlier that day. (I have to accept responsibility, as I told David to give them to Mike while I was off at the osteopath's.)

Lovely to see Luke, although he did vote for at least some of the tossers who are forming this current government we are cursed with.

But yesterday I was up early to bring the motorhome over to the house so we (when I say we I mean David) could empty the grey water tank which we had neglected to do when we got back on Boxing Day. But bugger it, the starter battery was dead flat. Read 12v when David checked it. So the AA man came and gave it a jump start, I drove it over to the house and left the engine running while David emptied the tank - and he did moan that the drain pipe is next to the exhaust and was I trying to kill him again? 'Good idea', I said. 'Just wait while I go and get a tent to erect around you.'  Apparently, I am evil. 😈

Well, we don't have an upstairs for me to be calling from, but there are days when I'd climb a ladder to do this...

 

Then, all without turning the engine off, I went down to Paraparaumu to Blair Auto Electrical and they speedily fitted a new battery for me - excellent service.

David H

Well, while I was out and there was still a bit of pension money left in the account, I thought I might as well go to the supermarket for the few bits I needed. And while I was at the checkout, a guy came up and made some cheeky comment to me. His face looked familiar, but it wasn't till he grinned that I recognised him. David Huggett, a friend of Tim's from high school and rugby. So lovely to see him and to meet his wife and two beautiful girls. They live in Wanaka so guess who we will be visiting when we are down that way next!?

This morning I have dropped the motorhome off at Freeway RV Services for them to replace the window stays that were damaged/destroyed at Ruakaka when the gust of wind took the window up and off. An easy drive there and a peaceful train ride back - the Goldcard wins again! Because I caught the train at 9.02 I didn't have to pay. Being over 65 is a boon at times!

You won't know but there is a big kerfuffle here in Waikanae at the moment because the town bridge is closed to traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) while a clip-on pedestrian/cycle lane is added. The bridge has always been unsafe for cyclists to use and uncomfortable for pedestrians - it's an old bridge, serviceable but pretty narrow with a narrow path to match. A number of locals are up in arms because they think the timeframe for completing the work is 'too long' and it's too inconvenient and will take longer for them to go to places they want to get to, and the traffic jams will be heinous. I have no sympathy:

  • before the Expressway opened, traffic was regularly nose to tail from Whenua Tapu Cemetery near Plimmerton to Otaki (in both directions) - and that situation prevailed for many years. The commute from Wellington to Waikanae was regularly over 1.5 hours. And getting to Paraparaumu could easily be 20 minutes.
  • people struggle to grasp the tasks that go into these pieces of work: that it's not just clipping on a bridge lane  - it isn't just a few bulldog clips and nuts and bolts. There's:
    • engineering/earthworks and construction of abutments at either end, 
    • constructing links to existing or new footpaths and cycleways
    • preparing and installing signage
    • safety/engineering inspections, resource consent inspections and all the relevant signoffs. 
      • it's a local road but also a State Highway, so there's local, regional and national processes to be followed - and if they aren't and something goes wrong, there will be hell to pay by the same people moaning about the length of time it takes to 'just clip on a cycle lane' and the ones who say 'but no one uses it now...'
    • and other stuff I know nothing about

Anyway, all this is leading up to say that when I left here at 7.30am, there was no hold up getting on to Te Moana Road, there was no traffic lined up waiting to get on to the Expressway at Waikanae, and there was no queue at the exit and lights at Paraparaumu waiting to get on to Kapiti Rd in either direction. So it wasn't a catastrophe as we are led to believe.

People need to get a grip - perhaps go and sit in traffic anywhere on the M25 or M1 or M4 in the UK or, closer to home, on the motorway between Tawa and Johnsonville and points south every morning, or almost any time of the day on SH1 through Auckland.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

The Polish/Scottish branch

And while we are lolling about in the heat, Marta, Trevor, Olek, Mickenzie and friend Sam are in the Alps in Europe skiing and snowboarding.

 . This is Olek and Sam


Mickenzie and Tevor - they both have a thing about headgear, obviously...
Marta and Trevor πŸ’•

 


The boating branch




Ian and Irene were nearly iced in a few days ago. But today they are - it was -9 deg C this morning for them...



Icy windows ...

At 7.51am, -9.3 deg. Glad it's not me...

I'll check later with the new owners of Waka Huia and see how they are holding up. I hope they are keeping warm!


Friday 5 January 2024

A quiet start to the new year

 After driving well over 2000 kms since 11 November, I was a bit tired (understatement) and so I had a few days of blobbing when we arrived home. Blobbing interspersed with clearing out the motorhome; but to be honest, I did leave most of that to ACP.

About the extent of my contribution was washing anything and everything that may need it, and considering that happened using the washing machine, I can hardly take credit for even 40% of the efforts. I did, however, wash the outside of the motorhome. We had given the bottom half a couple of quick washes while away when it looked too dusty/muddy/messy to put up with; but once it was home it had a full clean apart from the roof - I didn't feel up to climbing the ladder under the scrutiny of Parkwood residents. We are apparently not meant to have ladders here...

We had a lovely New Year celebration at Robert and Glenn's - we had set it up back before we headed away and together we had determined that it would be from 5.30pm to 9pm and the new year could see itself in without our help. So after a pot luck dinner contributed to by Gary, Bruce and David R, Robert and Glenn, and ACP and me, and a fair amount of hilarity, with Brian and Robin joining  us,we headed home before it was even dark! Gosh, that felt good!

On New Year's Day we had Rob and Brian come for lunch. So cool to see them - Rob used to be our gardener back when we lived in Johnsonville and continued to be so when we moved to Rata St in Waikanae. It was Rob who did all the amazing work of turning the jungle into a beautiful garden, along with Luke's contribution of chainsawing down the excess trees that had no space to grow. Rob only stopped doing our garden when he went off to become a nurse - a late career change but a good one.

It was a beautiful day so we ate outside. Vegetable curry (kumara, pumpkin, cauli, peas and chickpea), rice, and a few side dishes (cucumber raita; banana lemon juice and coconut; chopped tomato and onion) and a couple of chutneys. And for dessert I made a nectarine galette - very yummy.

Rob, Brian and David under the umbrella on our patio. Mel is at the head of the table...

Yesterday I went to Churton Park to see Michelle and have my hair cut. Not spiky this time - my hair had got so long between the last cut back in early November and yesterday, that there was opportunity to try a different style. I am a trifle worried that it is a bit soft - I dread to think anyone will think I've had a personality change ...

I cannot keep my eyes fully open when I smile, dammit!

 

And in the afternoon, we had Joy and Autry come for afternoon tea, and not long before they were due to arrive, Grahame Bilby phoned - he was home early from his trip to Auckland. So he came too. Joy and Autry used to live up the road from us in Johnsonville and we both ran our houses as B&Bs and we shared guests. They moved up to Waikanae before us and when we were in Rata St, we were about one kilometre from them. Now we are just a bit further away. Cheese scones and chocolate brownie, lots of chat. The three guests had met before at Rata St and all 3 had beautiful gardens. Grahame and his late wife Joy were on the Waikanae Garden Trail one year before they moved into Parkwood, and Autry and Joy are on it again later this month - I think I'll go and visit them before the trail begins...

Today we had Judy come to visit - Judy is our bike accident friend who is rehabilitating in the Acquired Brain Injury Unit at Kenepuru in Porirua. Jim has gone home to Onaero for a sabbatical and Steph, one of their lovely daughters, is over from Adelaide. Steph brought Judy out for lunch and lots of chat.

Lunch was a veg curry pie with coleslaw, and beetroot and carrot salad. Dessert, after Judy had had a nap and Steph and I went out for a wander and called in on Peter, was roasted nectarines and peaches with cream. Judy is doing very well in her recovery but it is a long road. She is such a stoic.

It was lovely to meet Steph - that apple hasn't fallen far from the tree, that is for sure! Such a neat woman. Quiet and shy, just like her mum and me ...




Wednesday 3 January 2024

Tongaporutu - a blessing, as always

 When we left Hamilton City Holiday Park - definitely a good place to stay, if anyone is looking for recommendations - it was quite early in the morning. Not too early, because we wanted to arrive at Pio Pio when The Fat Pigeon Cafe was open, and prior to that, at Te Kuiti when New World supermarket was open so we could buy 20 litres of water, in case we ran low at Tongaporutu.

But before we left HCHP, we filled with water and emptied the cassettes and the grey water (no capacity for any of those at Tongaporutu). And given it was early, we did it as quietly as we could. But in the early morning stillness, every noise seems so much louder...

David's cough was still noisy and frequent and phlegmy, so he was armed with a large box of tissues and under instruction to blow his nose every couple of minutes to remove said phlegm and reduce the cough frequency to a level that reduced my noise sensitivity readings to 'able to be lived with'. TMI, I know, but someone may find it helpful.

I had also shown him the hollow pressure point either side of the nose on the upper side of the eye socket bone which, when pressed on, helps to drain the sinuses - very effective. Not sure where or when I learned about it, but it's a goodie.

As we left Hamilton, I was struck by how much the exit/approach to the city had changed since I lived there back in 1968-70. There were some bits that seemed familiar, but without road signs (Māori and English...) and/or the GPS I would not have had a clue which way to go!

But once we were south and trundling along on SH3 things became more familiar.

Te Kuiti New World is a lovely shop, staffed by really helpful people, and on the morning I went in (leaving the invalid in the motorhome) the customers were cheery too. 

The Fat Pigeon Cafe in Pio Pio is wonderful with one of the best breakfasts we've had - and there's been a few really good ones on this trip. Because of David's cough and it sounding very suspicious, we sat outside. And as we do, we chatted with one of the staff who was opening up the transparent side panels on the verandah. Discussion re being vegetarian and how it had come about, passing on information about the book Chris Beat Cancer for her to pass on to her aunt, and finding out her partner comes from Tongaporutu!! Two or three degrees of separation strikes again, this time in the wilds of the South Waikato/King Country.

As always happens when I travel that road (and did way back when I caught the Gibson's Black and White bus on Fridays - bunking off TeaColl ...), as soon as we got to Awakino I felt like I was home. And when we came down the hill where the Tongaporutu River, the river mouth, Patangata Island and the baches come into view, my heart lifted.

There was a space for us at the freedom camping area looking out at the river mouth, and we took it. And we sat, and David slept, and I sat outside in that cloudy hazy sunshine that is deceptively hot and burning - and I was there without sunscreen. Too bad. I needed to be out in it.

From my chair beside the motorhome I could see the river mouth.
And later at closer to high tide, the oyster catchers came back.

David was still coughing lots, so we decided to head in to park up in Jim and Judy's driveway at Onaero - they were away (Judy is still in the Acquired Brain Injury Unit at Kenepuru). That way, David could sleep in the house and I could sleep in the motorhome. They have a very good and informal neighbourhood watch thing going on there (lovely community) and so I let one set of neighbours know who we were and that we had permission.

Before we left Tongaporutu in the late afternoon, I had spoken to the people who were parked next to us in prime position. They said they were leaving about 11am the next day; so in the morning, we headed back up to Tongaporutu with a brief stop at the 4 Square shop in Urenui (Big Penis for anyone who needs the English name instead of the Māori one ...) And we arrived at Tongaporutu at about 10am, and parked alongside the leavers. Had a chat with them and told them there was no hurry, but anytime in the next five minutes would be fine πŸ˜πŸ˜†πŸ˜˜. A lot of laughs and they were off soon after.

Once we were parked in prime position, we headed off for a walk around the front beach - David had found our reef shoes and got out the sticks. I used to run, jump, skip over those surfaces in days gone by but now I need to have a stick to help me maintain my footing! What has my world come to?

Apparently the gas company installed the steps - it used to be big rocks to clamber down - the ones I also used to scamper down ...

 There has been a lot of heavy rain over the last few months and it has caused slips.

This is pretty recent, I think, because the pohutukawa has flowered.
Also recent I think - because of the colour of the rocks and rubble behind where the tide gets to.
When the bank comes down with growth on it, you know that the rain has been very heavy!

 

Patangata Island - used to be a Māori fortress on the top of this. It was a great lookout point to keep an eye out for invading war parties from the north or the south.

That view blows me away every time! Taranaki above the clouds in the distance.

We get lots of tourists (domestic and international) coming here just to see this view.

The terns nest on the middle 'sister' - have done for as long as I can remember. They did seem a little less dive-bomby  this time. Maybe they don't have babies in their nests at the moment.

OK, you're allowed to get bored with this view and variations on it. But I do not get bored, so there!

Climate change has brought about these new 'sisters' and at the same time, significantly lowered the acreage of the farms on the top of the cliffs!

The seagulls perch on the seaward 'sister' and keep watch on those pesky terns...
Back towards Urenui, Onaero, Waitara, New Plymouth with beautiful Taranaki in the background.
One of the new 'sisters' with a very short woman beside her. That sister used to accommodate grazing sheep and cattle when she was part of the mainland!
There's that short woman again!

The northern side of the rivermouth at pretty much low tide. The channel changes constantly, but I've never seen it so far over to the north before with the bar way over by Patangata Island to the south.
This freedom camping area is very very popular at this time of the year. Lots of young people in people movers that are converted to campers, and older motorhomers. And in the parking area across the way, there are lots and lots of day visitors.

Later in the afternoon, I left David resting and walked down to see James and Joan. Lovely to catch up with them. They live next to our former bach and across from our first bach; they used to come for holidays too when their place belonged to Joan's mum and dad, so our kids grew up together. They suggested I call in to introduce myself to Jan and Mike on my way back so I did. Jan's family had been coming to Tongaporutu for longer than my family - not surprising as the baches on Clifton Road had been there well before the Hill family subdivided and sold off sections on what became Hills Road where our baches are. The latter happened in about 1956 or 57, I think.

Lovely to meet Jan and Mike. She is an artist and he is a bone carver, and they are lovely people. The next day I took David in to meet them because Jan had old slides that she wished she could view more easily. So I got Mr Weaving Memories on the case... Check his work out here: This is David's only ad.

The people we didn't catch up with (and should have) were Lee and Gordon. However they had family staying so we stayed away. Next time though we will be descending on them!

When the tide was coming in that evening and the sun was going down. It moves me.


We needed to do some shopping in New Plymouth, so we were going to go straight past Waitara, into town and then come back. But the Waitara By Pass was shut because they are building a big roundabout, so we went right through the middle of Waitara - only a kilometre from our destination a bit later on that day...

David needed to get some anti cough meds and sort out changing his mobile from Skinny to 2 Degrees, and I did supermarketing. Amazingly, I managed to find two parking spaces side by side at the far end of the car park - good! I could fill them both with the motorhome and be out of the way of other shoppers... That's always a good look on one of the last shopping days before Xmas!

And then it was back to Waitara to be part of Dee's family for the festivities. Such a lovely warm place to be.

I had to take photos for Olek - he misses them and they miss him.

The lovely twins - Olek tells me it's Luca on the left and Ziana on the right. I tend to call them Twin 1 and Twin A. I struggle to tell them apart even though Luca is taller. But using that method only works if they are standing obviously...

The lovely Charlotte

The lovely Kurt on turkey carving.

And the amazing Nicola.


And Ollie who is now 8 and a delightful kid.

We had rain before Xmas...

I needed some bits from the supermarket so I went down the walkway alongside the river.



Towards the river-mouth. Shipping (small) did come in here, I think.

Kurt, Debs, Ollie and Jonathan playing petanque. I think Kurt won.

David won the brightest shirt competition. But there were only two competitors with courage to participate!

David wanted to put up the bug (blow up gazebo) again. I tried attaching the bottom sheet before it got blown up, but forgot that it has straps across the bottom and got some straps above the bottom sheet and some below - SNAFU...

And there it is

The twins' grandparents bought the snorkel and flipper sets, so of course they had to be tried out. Twin 1 or Twin A - who knows?

Christmas with Dee's family was lovely. Kirsty says she is coming over for Xmas 2024, so I think we will be up there again.

Marta sent us this photo of their Xmas before Olek and Karol went over to Bulgaria to be with their dad. From the top of the stairs, there's Darby (Trev's daughter) and her friend, then Olek on the right with Mickenzie (Trev's son) and Olek's friend Ben, then Karol on the left and Krzys beside him, and in front are Kamil and Elif (Olga's two sons and daughter). And Elif is holding Yogi.

 

Olek, Mickenzie and the lovely Trevor

Jola in the centre with Olga on the left and Marta on the right - 3 beautiful women.

We came home on Boxing Day and I was surprised at how light the traffic was. The time was that people headed away on holiday on Boxing Day, but not this year. Apparently traffic was huge on 27th instead. So I am glad we came home early! And blobbed lots - well, I have. David has been busily active, as he always is. I'm not sure where he gets the energy from!


And when we got home, the garden had thrived over the 7 weeks we were away. Caitlin's rose looked beautiful as it always does at this time of year.

And when we left back on Nov 11, most of these plants were about 150mm high - now look at them!