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!!


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.


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.


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. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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.


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 ๐Ÿ’•


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 (Mฤori 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 Mฤori 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 ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜˜. 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 Mฤori 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!