Tuesday 30 April 2024

Last post was autumn leaves, this one...

 is mountains and snow...

Wanaka is a beaut place, and it is impressive as it is pretty much surrounded by mountains.

The view from our site at Mt Aspiring Holiday Park - hills at the front, mountains at the rear.
Definitely mountains

I took this shot from outside the camp - across the road is a stables: what a fabulous location with the view of those mountains and the lake right in front of the property.


The cold snap started while we were there - mostly lovely sunny days but really chilly overnight. On our last 2 nights there it was particularly cold so the first snow of the winter appeared on the mountains. Gosh, that is magic!

We had a few days in Wānaka, most of it blobbing or doing a bit of walking.

We did part of the Outlet Walk from the lake into the river - or vice versa, I'm not sure but the water was flowing upstream as we walked beside the river. The walk had to be abandoned on two counts:

  • we thought we had the walking boots in the mh because David couldn't see them in the wardrobe at home and I didn't look. But they are not with us. And the shoes I was wearing were not that good for longer treks;
  • there were cyclists and the path was quite narrow and it was nerve-wracking worrying about who would have to lurch over to the steep slope down to the river ...
Mountains, lake...
High hills and lake, mountain in the distance.
Poplars on the river-edge
Trees are resilient and adaptive. Clearly this tree needed to grow almost lying down, so it did.
The view up the river - still a pretty wide expanse of water and it was fast moving.
The roots of this tree needed to spread out to get a good grip, so they did.
A lot of autumn leaves with the lovely David

So of course, I had to find some better walking shoes. We first tried the shop Go Outdoors where the young woman suggested a pair of shoes with a drop forward sole. I tried them on and they felt wonderful - no upward pressure on the tops of my toes. 

My old shoes went into David's backpack and I wore the new ones out of the shop. Since then, they have only come off my feet for going to bed or into the shower. And I have ordered two more pairs online - they have been sent home.

One morning, when it was particularly cold and bleak outside and we had designated it a blobbing day, I made cheese scones. We had saved the out of date milk to use - waste not, want not remember: I am the child of parents who were children during the Depression. The milk was well on its way to becoming cottage cheese, but in the scone mix it went. Not a good plan, people! I think it made the mixture too gluggy and they didn't rise as much as they should have and they didn't brown on top. So I had to flip them over - and they flattened out a bit. They still tasted good, but they certainly weren't of a standard to share. My reputation as a baker of world famous cheese scones would have been shot to pieces!

Late-ish one afternoon a young couple arrived and parked on a site one over from us. We chatted and found out they are living in Darwin. Amit loves to trek, as Yash calls it. And the next morning they were getting up really early to go and climb Roy's Peak to be there when the sun rose. I admired their passion, but did not want to emulate it...

I heard them leave very quietly when it was still very dark the next morning. And it was very cold - I could tell: my nose was not warm as it poked out above the duvet...

When they arrived back later that day, they said it had been magic. Yash said in the first half hour, she did wonder about going back to the camper to go to bed, but was very pleased that Amit dragged her on. Apparently, while they were standing in the dawn's light, it started to snow. Amit told me there were other much higher mountains that they could see from where they were - not surprising, as Wānaka is ringed with them.

That day we had decided that we really should go for a walk - I know we are old, but Amit and Yash had put us to shame! So we headed out of the camp and along the road until we came to Waterfall Creek Road, and headed down to the lake. 

Along the road towards Glendhu and Mt Aspiring - mountains...
Down the road to Waterfall Creek and the lake - and mountains
And guess what - mountains...
In this region, if it's not mountains, it's vineyards, and often both ...
Or vineyards and hills... David insisted on this shot because of being able to see up the rows. Pretty cool, eh?
Did I mention it had been cold overnight and snow had fallen on the tops?


Then it was back along the lake track, until we met a couple and their lovely labrador, Milly, coming down a pathway by a vineyard. Yes, we could get back to the road that way. So off we went.

Now isn't that a view you would never tire of? Different in every season and all weathers.
David's arty shot - he liked the different colours on the one tree.

It was far further back to the road than we had thought, and much of it was uphill. Bill's Way should be re-named Hill's Way, I think. Or Bill's Hill. Or Billy Hilly.

It was getting late in the afternoon and it was getting appreciably colder. That snow added to the sense of chill.

But it's those little unexpected detours and off-piste routes that are such a delight when in an unfamiliar place.

Yash and Amit as we were getting ready to head away. Lovely people and we hope to see them again, when they make the trip to the North Island before too long. If we go to Darwin to visit, it will have to be in winter when it's below 25 deg...
Public hugging 💚

The next day we were heading on our way to Alexandra but stopped to take photos of the mountains across the lake.

More snow overnight - taken from just outside the camp.

And there was a bit of last minute supermarketting to do. And as we walked along the lakefront where we had parked the motorhome, who should we see but Milly and her humans. They mentioned that their daughter had also climbed Roy's Peak the day before. Apparently the path to the top is 8kms! Yash and Amit, you are champions!

On the right of the photo is Roy's Peak - 1578 metres, i.e. 5177 feet. Note that Mt Snowdon is only 1085m... No wonder the British have a strange view of what constitutes a mountain... And no wonder we say nah, that's not a mountain, it's just a hill...

Yep, more snow

There were several more mountain and early snow photos, but I know I am trying your patience, so I will stop!

FYI, Irene, we failed to take up your challenge to go to Puzzling World - I think the day we could have gone was very cold, and David would have had to lie on the ground and lift the stabilisers. I couldn't be that mean... After all, you and Ian would have given me a very hard time if I had, now wouldn't you? Be honest!

Before we left the environs of Wānaka we had to search for a shirt for David. Somehow his packing only took account of 7kg of hand luggage for our 5 day trip to Sydney, so he had brought 3 shirts with him, and only 1 of them had long sleeves, and here we are down in the deep south and winter is approaching... And we are away from home for 6 weeks. And we are going to a posh lodge for a couple of nights ...

So I informed him he needs at least one more long sleeved shirt. Well, talk about a fuss. So we had to find a cheap long sleeved shirt. Wānaka is not really the place for cheap, so we headed out to the new Warehouse. They had $20 shirts but they were in checked fabric, and David declared they looked like pyjamas. Not surprising he felt that way, as he has a fabulous range of shirts at home and none of them could be mistaken for PJs! So we looked at a couple of other shops out there, but they were PJ style too and much more expensive. He even tried a women's linen shirt but nope and it was too dear. And too long (my call) and it would have looked crappily unironed within 5 minutes because it was linen. So we left Wānaka without a shirt, but he did buy two $8 caps** at The Warehouse... The shirt saga would have to be continued in another town.

** caps and hats got left behind in Waikanae by both of us ...

In my last blog I complained about my sore right shoulder and neck, and lovely Irene commented with websites for me to check out (I did). And our friend Di (of Luke and Di) checked them out and also texted me to say I should consider acupuncture. I can report that my neck is much better and so is my shoulder (I haven't had to take ibuprofen for several days now) - the two sources of the pain are connected. I realised two things:

  • I've been developing OOS (occupational overuse syndrome) except it's not occupational because I'm retired. But I use my phone far too much holding it with just my right hand and I type and scroll with my thumb. 
    • I remember way back (when Sarah and I were developing a Guide to Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) booklet as part of the training material for Social Welfare staff back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of the main causes we noted for OOS was not so much repetitive actions but performing them while holding the surrounding/connected muscles and joints still.
    • And that's what I do: my forearm and upper arm and shoulder and neck are all still while my hand and wrist are respectively holding and supporting the phone and my thumb is the only piece of me that is moving. Try it yourself if you don't believe me. Feel how the muscle in your forearm moves when you stretch your thumb across the phone screen, notice how still the rest of your arm is and your shoulder and neck. Now do the same thing lying on your back with your hand raised so you can see the screen... See why my shoulder and neck were suffering?
  • David had been massaging my shoulder and upper arm and my neck and it felt really nice and a fair bit painful, but it wasn't dealing with the root cause. So I had to stop using the phone while holding it - now I mostly use it with it sitting on the table, if at all possible. That way I can type with my forefinger and that involves movement of large muscle groups of my arm - I'm not stabbing the phone, by the way, but I'm not holding my hand and wrist still to type. 
    • The second thing I realised when the massage wasn't doing as much good as I'd hoped was that trigger point therapy was probably what I needed, and I needed to dig hard into the muscles and tendons under my arm, actually in the armpit. The first time an osteopath did it to me was back in Charlbury, Oxfordshire in the UK, and I seem to remember levitating off the table with a really loud yell...
    • Shit, it hurts! But the method is to do it 6 times and day for 30 seconds at a time. And after a couple of days my shoulder stopped seizing, the pain lessened, and has continued to do so.
    • The good thing is, I can do that therapy anywhere, even while I am waiting at traffic lights - not in the mh shower though because there's not enough hot water not to be actively washing ... And I can now do it without looking like I am being tortured!
    • I can even lie in bed with my right hand under my head now - and that was impossible. And (look away now if you are sensitive) I can even do up my bra behind my back without grimacing in pain.
    • It's still not 100% right, but it's well on the way.
This is the lazy susan that Salvi has made for us. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't he clever? When we get together in Waikawa Bay before we head back to Waikanae, we (Salvi and Ann, David and I) are going to test it with poppadoms and naans and chutneys and dips...

Friday 26 April 2024

Ashburton and points south

 Last Friday, i.e. 8 days ago now, we left Christchurch's North South Holiday Park and headed to Ashburton. Alan and Greg live there, having moved from Rolleston a year ago - they moved from a very new, single-storey, double-glazed, modern home in suburbia to a 1980s single-glazed 3 storey home in the best street in Ashburton - right next to the park in a cul de sac. It is a lovely home, and it's project which they are getting stuck into. It appears they need a project: one reason they left Rolleston was that they had finished developing the grounds and there was nothing left to do! This house however, will keep them busy for a while, I think. One thing they bought for one of the lounges was an old TV/radio/gramaphone unit - it looks so cool! They are going to get it repaired so they can use it. It has some spare valves in one of the cupboards. I am sure there will be an old guy somewhere nearby who used to fix these things!

Alan and Greg in front of their house. Behind the house is a beautiful park.

We met Alan and Greg in Hanmer Springs Top 10 a few years ago - I recognised Greg but wasn't sure where from. We narrowed it down to having friends in common in Waikanae, where they had previously lived. Now, when we travel south, we make sure to call in.

David wore his Toitū to Tiriti T-shirt to rark them up... And it worked! It's always good to challenge people's points of view, we think. We went out for lunch and then chatted the afternoon away, and then went out with them to check out where we should stay overnight. We settled on Coronation Holiday Park - it's not listed in the NZMCA app but was very nice: quiet, clean, cheap.

Alan and Greg collected us later to go out for dinner to a lovely Thai restaurant. Excellent food, and as always I had ordered far more than I could eat. So I took home a container of leftovers. On the way home, we stopped at a service station and I bought chocolate for everyone. A bad mistake for me to eat it when we got back to the motorhome. It was just over an hour later, that I lost my dinner and the chocolate...

In the morning, we went back after doing our shopping at New World. We were both wearing our Toitū te Tiriti T-shirts and sweatshirts this time ...

Alan was stripping the old tiles off the kitchen wall and was finding that they don't come off without clinging tightly to the gib-board underneath, dammit. As we commiserated, no DIY job goes smoothly!

We headed away south; I think Greg was going back into the garden which they have absolutely transformed in the past year, and Alan was off to buy gib. He sent a photo later - the gib was up and all it needed was some plastering.

When you leave Canterbury, heading inland, before too long you come to the MacKenzie country. It's tussock land, the native trees are not the majestic trees of further north or the coastal areas. The MacKenzie country is close to the mountains and it has very hot summers and very cold winters. The only large trees seem to be imports: poplars, birch et al, which at this time of the year are in their full autumnal colours and looking beautiful.

We stopped off to admire the views at Lake Tekapo - it is one of the places most photographed by tourists, I think - there is always a multitude of motorhomes/campervans/cars parked there. And cyclists too - we had a quick chat with 4 people eating lunch: they were doing the Alps to Ocean (A2O) cycle trail, and they didn't look too exhausted!

One of the cyclists took a photo of us - we had taken a couple of them with their wraps and hummus and healthy food!

We had decided not to stay in Fairlie - we had stopped there once before and weren't that thrilled with the holiday park. The pie shop there is rightly famous, but it was late Saturday afternoon when we went through, so it wasn't open. We had phoned ahead to Kimbell to the pub there which is a CAP (Charges Apply Property) - it's labelled as a POP (Park Over Property) but a condition of staying there is that you need to have a meal at the pub. So it's essentially not a cheap option. However they have a good range of lovely vegetarian food, so no complaints from us. Vege burger for David and I had a roast veg salad. No dessert - I had learned my lesson ...

In the morning, we moved on to Omarama - what a lovely Top 10 holiday park it is. We had a lovely sunny spot and I sat out in the sunshine reading while David did motorhome bitching tasks. Greg and Alan would call them blue tasks; we tend not to discriminate, although David does take on emptying the cassette, filling with water, hooking up the power - usually because I'm doing meal prep or laundry... So maybe we do have pink jobs and blue jobs. However we are not rigid about them. Although what that means is I do some blue tasks and David preps veges. He is chief dishwasher and dryer though.

See, he didn't work the whole time, and I fed him!
Doesn't that look idyllic?

Two people in the autumn of their lives...
That tree is spectacular - at one point the wind was blowing quite strongly and I wanted to get a photo of the leaves flying through the air. Had my hands full of laundry stuff though ...


Not a good hand in 5 crowns - that's 46 points you don't want!
It appears that I won ...

Three hands in and I'm winning again - not sure if that continued though.



It was in Omarama the following morning we realised that we had raced down south thinking we had a huge distance to travel and without considering how we would pass the spare time. So we decided we would hire e-bikes in Clyde and then drive to Waipiata and do two days of biking on the Otago Rail Trail: one day to Kokonga and back, and one day to Ranfurly and back. Kokonga is special to David because it's where he lived when his dad was the sole charge teacher there. I posted about it here back in Feb 2019

But as we got closer to the hiring day, I got more nervous - not about the biking itself, but about how I would cope. I'd been suffering with a very very sore shoulder and couldn't support my weight on it, and my neck and lower back had been very sore - the lower back since before we had left home and my neck since the migraine in Stoke. It just seemed foolhardy to go biking. 

The Clyde Dam - NZ's largest concrete dam. As the river bed is a fault-line, the dam has been built to be earthquake proof: the white line in the dam, top to bottom on the far right of the photo is the break in the dam that allows for a metre rise in the event of an earthquake. A good thing too, as the town of Clyde is only a couple of kilometres down the valley...
The view down the valley towards Clyde


But before we made the decision not to bike, we had got to Alexandra and stayed overnight in a camp that David remembered being at well before we arrived and I didn't until we pulled off the road into the driveway - I didn't even remember having come to Alexandra in the motorhome before! Doh!


In the morning, we made the call to call off biking. So then the issue was what to do and where to go  - after all, our 4 day Fiordland adventure doesn't start until 1 May. And Alexandra has lots of vineyard tours and lots of wine tastings but as we don't drink alcohol, those pursuits aren't worth pursuing for us.

After magnesium and discussions, we hit upon the idea of going to Wānaka for a few days. We had loved Wānaka on our last trip and had used it as a base (we had hired a car while there so we could leave the motorhome parked up and do day trips). So I emailed to cancel the bike hire, and we rang David Huggett whom we were going to visit and stay with after the Fiordland adventure. No, they hadn't left for their few days away yet, and yes we could come and visit, and did we want to come for dinner that evening? Yay!!

With all our faffing about what we would do to fill up the days, we didn't have time for breakfast at Alexandra, so we stopped at the Clyde Dam - on the lake side rather than the river side - and I cooked breakfast David was on photography duty.
I'm not sure what the fence/barrier is across the lake there. But isn't that water spectacularly blue?

The dam from the top.
I sent this photo to Luke,; his response was that there wasn't enough meat in it... The tortilla had scrambled egg, cheese and tomato in it. Rather yummy.

After breakfast we stopped to have a look at a freedom camping site: Champagne Point.

My turn on photography while David stayed inside.
Almost no vegetation over there...
Interp for you
And more interp

I think we might spend a night here - the heating will have to stay on - on gas though, as it's cold overnight...


So on to Wanaka we came, with a few stops on the way to investigate places we might stop over at on our way back to Alexandra so I can catch up with Allanah - a friend I met in Hokitika back in 2015/6.

It was great to get back to Mt Aspiring Holiday Park. And it was fabulous to go to David and Zoe's home in Wānaka and spend time that evening with them and their girls.

The view on our first day at this holiday park. Not enough of a lake view, so the next day we moved over a bit...

David H and Zoe with their girls Eva and Adriana

The two Davids

Sunday 21 April 2024

Sydney for David's birthday

Masked up onboard - we learned our lesson having got Covid on the flight to the UK last year ...
Crossing the Southern Alps - this sight always lifts my heart and reminds me of my times of flying to Hokitika.

 We had almost 5 full days in Sydney - from Saturday to Thursday. There were three reasons for the trip all of which happily coincided:

  • David turned 75 on the Wednesday
  • Kirsty lives in Sydney
  • we went to the Pub Choir event there.

 We had a lovely time with Kirsty. 

We went straight to her place from the airport. Well, when I say straight there, I neglect to mention the inordinate time that ACP took in sorting out where to call for an Uber from, and the internal, very steamed up and implosive tantrums I was having at having to traipse around while he tried to find the place we should wait, all without having made the call. I don't think I'd be exaggerating if I said there was a good 15 - 20 minutes faffing and to-ing and fro-ing. I had phoned Kirsty, who gave us the required info (call first, then the uber app will tell us where to wait - that was my memory of how it worked last time we were there ...), recognised my stress level and she had the kettle boiled for tea and a magnesium capsule waiting for me on arrival...

We walked altogether to the airbnb apartment, about 8 minutes from Kirsty's place. Catastrophe struck as we crossed the road to the building. David was following Kirsty and me, and hadn't noticed that we stepped over a low concrete traffic divider in the middle of the road. He tripped on it and went flying, face first on to the road. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! How he managed not to scrape his face off I don't know! God, we all got a fright, Kirsty and I more than David, I think. He was so fortunate not to graze himself much at all - he skidded on his hands but they were barely grazed. 

From then on, we didn't let him cross roads by himself and we made sure to use pedestrian crossings and warn him about the depth of the gutters - they are pretty deep in Sydney due to the intense rainfall. 

The apartment was a very good place to stay - good sized bedroom, well equipped kitchen, good lounge and dining area. some of the furniture was a bit large for the size of the place, but all was comfortable. We weren't sure about the cowhide mats ... The double-glazing was amazingly efficient, and even though we were on a busy intersection with 4 lanes of traffic in 3 directions, we could hardly hear any of it from inside. 

David made a pillow tower for me ...
The lounge, dining and kitchen. The laundry is behind the door to the left of the fridge. Washing hanging out on the balcony.

The downside of the place was that, for 5 nights we had been left 2 towels, one handtowel, one teatowel. When I asked for a change of towels I was told that would incur a cost of $50, and that we should buy some instead. Nope! Kirsty lent us some of hers. My feedback centred on that downside - I recognise they have a different business model from a hotel, however they are charging plenty, and making sure there were towel changes available at least every 2 days would not be a problem for them.

A very significant upside is its location - across the road from a supermarket, above about 3 restaurants and a block from a station. And of course, only 8 minutes by walk from Kirsty's. And the very pleasant riverside walk is not far away either.

On the Sunday we went to the Pharoah's Gold exhibition at the museum. 

Lovely sunny day as I follow David and Kirsty towards the museum.
Interesting skyline seen from a very lovely park
You can just see the top of the Sydney Tower. Irene says we should have gone there for David's birthday. A revolving restaurant is not quite my cup of tea, somehow ...
Probably the fanciest water fountain structure that exists, don't you think? Kirsty and David are lovely though.

And down we go to the start of the exhibition.
This struck a chord with me for some unknown reason ...

 Humans haven't changed much over the centuries and millennia - fighting over territory, strict hierarchical societies with rich people lording it over the poor and taking full advantage of them, and the same rich people being very keen to be remembered in perpetuity - if not reincarnated! But they all fade from memory and history.

It reminded me of the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley 'Ozimandias of Egypt' **:

    I met a traveller from an antique land 

    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 

    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, 

    Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown 

    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 

    Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things, 

    The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed. 

    And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: 

    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" ***

    Nothing beside remains: round the decay 

    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, 

    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

(** Just so you know, I first read and learned that poem when I was 12 in Form 2 at Highlands Intermediate School in New Plymouth - our teacher was an avid poetry person, and we learned all sorts of poems with Miss Belsey. The best two years of teaching I ever had, I think. But I wouldn't have chosen poetry myself, honest!)

*** Let's hope Christopher Luxon, David Seymour and Winston Peters here in NZ and Boris Johnson and Donald the Dumpster see the hubris in thinking they are mighty enough to be remembered, when actually they too will fade into the dust. Sooner rather than later, I hope...

After the museum we headed for lunch nearby. 

On the way, David used the fancy water fountain...
The ANZAC memorial - more properly known as the AAC I reckon, as no NZ troops get mentioned...

Then back to the apartment in Canterbury. A blobby afternoon followed. Kirsty headed home early as she had to get things ready for work the next day.

Kirsty sent me the link to a lite version of Sydney's transport timetabling system. It's very cool! and extremely useful, esp when we were new to making our way around and very uncertain of the geography!

We had a boat trip around the harbour the next day - it is a beautiful piece of water. The trip was interesting, but we would have preferred a bit more commentary about the early history of the place, i.e. the First People's history, and the more prosaic convict history, rather than which houses were sold for multiple millions of dollars to whom ...

Before the boat trip. Finding where we were to depart from was a trick - we arrived early natch, and the kiosk that tickets were issued from is a portable one. So it wasn't there yet. Doh!
That bridge is much bigger than it looks, folks!
That is an amazing building!
There are over a million of those tiles on the roof. And they look different from different angles and in different lights. Very beautiful.
IIRC, this was used as a quarantine island at one point in the past.
A bit hard to see, but there's a tall sailing ship moored up there and the low building (3 storeys) to the left of the picture is something historic to do with the workings of the harbour - Note to self: I should take notes.
It's quite a busy harbour. At one point, a yacht came past on our starboard side between us and another boat travelling in the same direction as we were ... Maybe the skipper didn't know the rules of the waterways!


Still and all, the Opera House is spectacular, the real estate around the harbour is very desirable, and the harbour itself is impressive.

Tuesday night was the Pub Choir event in Enmore which Kirsty came to too - she shepherded us there on the bus... The Pub Choir event clearly has a following, and the woman who runs it is very very high energy. We did all wonder later if her energy was artificially or chemically high ... David said she was not quite so OTT at the Wellington event. Kirsty knew the song, I didn't and didn't ever remember hearing it before. David, on the basis of having poor eyesight, had got an early notification of it so he could familarise himself with it beforehand.

As an event it was pretty amazing - Astrid is a very talented musician and singer, and it tells that she has been a teacher. She is also a very skilled facilitator - she can get a group of a few thousand people doing what she asks of them without resistance and with a lot of humour. Watching her work was a pleasure.

I had to go to the back of the downstairs of the theatre and sit on one of the few seats - my back was clearly not going to cope with being on my feet for 2.5 hours standing still! It was pretty interesting watching from that distance.

Wednesday was David's birthday and as befits an aging couple, we had a very blobby day. David fielded lots of birthday phone calls and messages, which was lovely. I did make him breakfast in bed because I am a kind and loving wife. 

We had bought quite a lot of food at the supermarket on the Saturday, and of course there was stuff left over. Some of it unopened even. I washed and dried Kirsty's towels and then we packed up our two cases with them and leftover groceries and walked them to Kirsty's place. It meant we could have another cuddle with Luna, her cat (who, like all tabbies, is very very vocal!), and we could also fail to do anymore of her jigsaw puzzle... Native birds of NZ. Very complicated!

On our way back to the apartment from Kirsty's we saw this lizard basking on the brick wall in the sunshine. He had a companion who had already disappeared behind the metal. Very lovely!


This place is in the bottom of the apartment building. The woman gave me a really good massage and it was well worth $85 for an hour.
We investigated part of the riverside walk - some lovely homes there but none as flash as the ones on the harbour, which was a relief!
Parts of the river down this end were full of floating debris - reminded us of some bits of the canals in the UK. Near Uxbridge springs to mind, as does the junction of the Grand Union and Paddington Arm.
The ibis are ubiquitous around Sydney. People get cross with them, but they have adapted well to people taking over their habitats and now scavenge for food.
There are a few bridges that go over the river into other suburbs
Does anyone know this man?


On the side road, nearly back at the apartment, I saw this car parked in a way I would never dare to do!

We headed into town to meet Kirsty after work. While we were waiting for her, David had a call from Olek, then a call from Marta and then a WhatsApp message from Karol. Then dinner out at a place in Surry Hills called Don't Tell Aunty. Very yummy food! And these amazing things I need to find in NZ - little hollow spheres made of poppadom mix that are filled with a liquid of yoghurt and spices. Delicious indeed! Panipuri - known in English as waterballs. I've found that an Indian restaurant we like in Paraparaumu has them, and I'm going to ask where I can buy them to make at home.

A starter we shared was a platter of poppadoms and naan bread with about 10 dips and chutneys - that also needs to be replicated at home. We are so keen, that we have already commissioned Salvi to make us a wooden lazy susan to place the platter on!

The next morning, we were up really early - our flight wasn't due to leave  till 9.15am, but we are paranoid about being late for flights. And we did have a bad experience at Sydney once where it took us an hour to get through the Security line. Not sure why but there seemed to be thousands of people travelling that day. So this time we were in the cab at 6am, at the airport by about 6.25 and checked in and through security (5  minutes - the only delay was that I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket - doh!! ) with plenty of time for breakfast.

The flight back was pretty smooth and we arrived a few minutes early. Back to the motorhome and all I had to do was go to the service station next door to buy milk. On the off chance that the adjacent Burger King did vegetarian burgers, I went to check it out. Yes they do. So I bought two and went back with them for an early dinner. They are quite yummy. Not as good as the Pam's falafel burgers but acceptable. Definitely not as good as Ferg's Burgers from Queenstown either but significantly cheaper ...

North South Holiday Park has good laundry facilities so I did the washing  and drying from our time away, so we didn't have to find another campsite to get it done. After that, it was an early night - the double glazing on the motorhome keeps the heat in but isn't much good at blocking the noise of traffic. However the Loop earplugs sort that and we slept well.

The next day we were on our way south - more of that later!

Some political stuff. Look away now if the truth hurts!