Monday 15 April 2024

Reminiscing and nostalgia in Oxford

When we come down south, we like to park the motorhome in Dean and Phaedra's front yard. Dean and I worked together on the Waiuta Prohibition and Alexander Roaster and Battery site remediations back in 2015/16 - the sites were heavily contaminated with arsenic. Two great pieces of work that we absolutely smashed, if I do say so immodestly. Dean's background is in remediating contaminated sites, and combined with my project management and a number of other people's deep knowledge of the area and passion for making sure it is cleaned up (looking at you: Jim, Gavin, Shane, Fiona, Mark D, Bruce) we did a sterling job, coming in on time, under budget and with a high quality result. It's the piece of work over my work life that I am proudest of - and, as always, it was the team that achieved.

So getting together with Dean and Phaedra is always a pleasure. Dean has had to take early retirement because of his health. However he is still extremely active. They have pet sheep, productive chickens, lots of fruit trees and a thriving veg garden. The sheep won't ever be eaten, mind you. Dean's softness about his animals is a turnaround from his upbringing and early work-life on a farm...

So we watched him feeding the sheep who recognise his hi-viz jacket and come running for sheepnuts. If he's without the jacket, he only has to speak... 

It's time for breakfast, so where are you, Dean?

Oh good! About time!

It's this way, OK?

Dean has made mini feeding troughs from guttering.

They all have to cluster around in case he forgets to fill all of the troughs. Humans are notoriously unreliable ...


Aha, we are all getting our fair share, even without the hi-viz!


Phaedra had ministered to one of the chickens the previous day - its crop was full of soured mash. Dean had tipped the chicken upside down and held it still while Phaedra massaged the crop so the stinking mush/mash poured out of it's beak. Since that treatment, Phaedra was feeding it honey water with a dropper and small pieces of cooked scrambled egg - cannibalism ... But the chicken was doing well. She had been isolated from her flock so she couldn't pig out on grain for a few days. Phaedra said she was her least favourite chicken because she's a bully; but even so she worked hard to save her.

See what I mean? Lovely people.

As Gavin and Deb live in Rangiora which is not terribly far from Oxford, I had asked Dean and Phaedra if I could invite Gav and Deb to come for dinner.  Yes I could and yes they would come.

What a good evening we all had. Lots of reminiscing, being pleased with ourselves (always satisfying, isn't it?) And lots of discussing kids... Lovely food too!

Gav had tried getting in touch with Dean previously, but Dean is no longer using his work number, the only one Gav had. So they were both really pleased to be back in contact.

When we head back up country from our Fiordland trip, we will all get together again - it'll have to be at Dean and Phaedra's because getting the motorhome up and back down Gav and Deb's drive is a hell of a mission! It's narrow and tree-lined, and the trees needed branches lifting, trimming or removing. And given they will now have redoubled their growth efforts, Gav would probably need to get the chainsaw out!

Whereas the parking at Dean and Phaedra's is level, all gravel and easy access, both in and out. No contest really.

I was gutted that their feijoas weren't dropping while we were there, and that they will probably have finished by the time we get back, dammit! But it has made me determined to plant more feijoas at our place. There's most of our bedroom wall available and I reckon we could get 3 or 4 trees in there.

We left Oxford and backtracked to Rangiora for a really lovely lunch at Siri Thai.


Delicious curry, preceded by spring rolls and curry puffs that we shared. David had Tom Kha soup for his main.

And then we headed out to Woodend Beach Holiday park. I bet it's great in the summer when it's full of tents and caravans and kids. But in the autumn it was rather dreary. And the rain came down overnight. It was the remnants of the rain that flooded the West Coast and Taranaki having come over the Tasman from Sydney. But by the time it reached the east coast of NZ it had passed its best and wasn't a threat. Not that it sounded benign on the roof of the motorhome, mind you! But it was lovely to be snuggled inside and not worry about whether we'd be stuck - we were parked on grass over sand.

Late in the morning, we headed to Christchurch to the North South Holiday Park, after a bit of supermarketing and breakfast at the cafe next door. David was on one of his nagging/persuading/never letting up on pitching to be able to buy himself a new laptop (Macbook Air or Pro). I am not in the frame of mind to buy another laptop, given we have just spent $11,000 on secondhand film conversion gear, and lost another $10,000 because a guy in the US who constructs such machines had taken the money over a year ago and not delivered and has now gone bankrupt, and David and a few hundred others are without the machines they were promised and without their money. We left Woodend Beach after David had listened in on a creditors' meeting in front of the court in Austin, Texas. Still, none of the debtors will get their money back.

So as I said, I was not in a frame of mind to be coughing up for a laptop which David only 'needs' if we are away from home and he 'needs' to work. And both 'needs' are in quotes because neither of them are actually needs. They are 'wants', fair and square.

So to take the sting out of my 900th refusal, I asked the young man at the table adjacent if David really needed a laptop... A very funny and friendly conversation ensued with Tony who had flown in from Hamilton, walked in the cold, inadequately dressed for the chill and rain, from the terminal to get breakfast (two of them). The upshot was that we delivered him to the Antarctic Centre as he had a few hours to wait for his friends to arrive up from Invercargill, and it was still chilly and wet.

Second upshot (the one I aimed for), the conversation about the laptop requirement has ceased for the moment. Note that I am not holding my breath though.

We parked up at the North South Holiday Park and finished our packing for the trip to Sydney. Then I cleared the fridge of everything that wouldn't last until we get back, scooped the shop-bought feijoas and put them in a bag into the freezer, put the blueberries in the freezer too, tossed out silverbeet I'd been transporting since we left home, and realised I'd done quite a good job of clearing out the leftovers - it certainly helps to have a leftover luncher onboard!

David changed the toilet cassette and emptied the waste water tank, in the rain - he's brave. And so we are set for our return - all we need is milk. A few veg and some fruit wouldn't go amiss, but milk for tea is the only necessity!

1 comment:

Jenny said...

So you are off to Sydney? Just a quick trip I imagine, then back to your motorhome again to continue on your SI trip.