Locked up

April 19, 2021

No, it’s not what you are thinking, we haven’t been on a mad rampage and gotten ourselves locked up BUT we finally received the expensive replacement door lock.

Roy set about replacing the old door lock. The old lock came out easily but of course you know what’s coming don’t you? Yes indeed, the new lock was a slightly different shape and just would not fit into the gap, it needed opening up a little more by taking a small piece out of one side.

Nothing that we had in our extensive tool kit would work to reshape the hole so Roy went off looking around the park to see if anyone had anything like a wood rasp that would do the job. And did we ever luck out.

Roy found Peter and his extensive tool shed on site. Peter then offered to come and give us a hand in fixing the lock into place.

Through the looking glass..I mean mesh! Yes his hand goes through the hole and that is the new lock in his left hand ready to see if it will fit after some modifications.

Peter, drill in hand, making the necessary adjustments.

With a bit of fiddling around and using some of the screws from the old lock (the replacement ones that came with the new lock were not the right ones) and a bit of screwing and unscrewing, the job was completed satisfactorily.

Before on the left and after on the right. Outside view top and inside view below. What’s more, I even found some more yellow tape to highlight the handle used to open the door from the inside.

What is more, it works! We have saved the old lock for one of those just in case movements but we are pretty sure that this one will last the distance.

On to Christchurch

April 15, 2021

We left Parnassus after the fog lifted making way for an absolutely stunning day. This is more like it, a typical South Island autumn day, crisp clear days albeit with cooler evenings.

Clear skies, brown hills, we’re heading towards Canterbury

We had thought of staying at a couple of places just north of Christchurch but the day was so lovely, the traffic minimal and so we continued on to the NZMCA Park at Weedons.

Parked up at the Weedons NZMCA park, what a stunning day

We settled in and watched as the park filled up during the afternoon. We had a visit from Jim in his new rig, he’s sold his bus and bought a caravan and a Ute to tow it with. We caught up over a cup of tea and had a good look over his new set up which will suit him well before he left to get his solar sorted.

Jim’s new set up, a big change from his old Bedford bus.

And now little story to amuse you, so make a cuppa and sit back!


Jim returns with all his new solar and batteries sorted and he parks up beside us, tea is made and conversation flows in its usual manner. Jim is still learning his new vans quirks and idiosyncrasies ….and he tells us he hasn’t read through the voluminous manual that came with his caravan as he got a few pages in and …well, it’s for future reading but he has looked up the odd bits and pieces as needed.

We retreat to our own vehicles for the evening.
I am shattered, I haven’t had a decent nights sleep for a few nights, so I’m off to bed early and fall into a very deep sleep, wake a couple of times in the night but fall straight back to sleep. I’m in a very deep deep sleep when at around 8am get woken by *#@&$ generators starting up. Then, as I drift back into the land of nod, we get blasted by VERY, VERY loud (bad) music….what the? We quickly realise that Jim has turned on his radio and its blasting out around the park out of his outdoor speakers!!

I have to add here that Jim is quite deaf, but he manages ably with hearing aids.

Roy goes racing out the door to tell Jim what’s happening BUT Jim can’t hear him cos a) the music is too loud and b) Jim hasn’t got his hearing aids in!! He explains to Roy that the music is up loud so he can hear it as he hasn’t got his hearing aids in 🤦‍♀️.
He then can’t figure out how to turn the outside speakers off, meanwhile music (if you can all it that) is still blasting out around the park!
Roy suggests he turns the radio down/off until he gets it sorted and that perhaps putting his hearing aids in may help matters! Of course you have to include in the retelling the visuals in your mind of two old fellas, neither who have good hearing, yelling at each other!
Peace and quiet (apart from generators still going) resumes.
I get up. 🤷‍♀️.

Later that morning, Roy looks up the instructions for the radio and helps Jim sort out the setup of his radio so that it no longer will play through the outside speakers. Peace reigns!

Just in case you wanted more of a Callum fix, here he is wearing his apron and helping mum make biscuits, they look delicious too.

Callum, the baker and expert taste tester! What a cutie.

Kaikoura to Parnassus

April 10, 2021

Not a very long drive today, just 52minutes so Mr Google tells me but then Mr Google forgot to tell us about the holdups for major road works along the way and nor did he account for the hills to go up and down and the twisty roads to go around nor the fact that we regularly pull over to let any traffic behind us pass.

Before leaving Kaikoura there was the usual chores to attend to like disposing of the rubbish, emptying the waste tanks at the on-site dump station and filling up the water tanks however we were soon on our way heading south out of town.

Overlooking South Bay heading out of Kaikoura

The road continues to hug the coastline and is very picturesque. There are plenty of pull off areas which people were utilising to view the numerous seals that live all along the rocky coastline. We saw plenty of seals basking in the sunshine on the rocks and even more frolicking in rock pools, oh and we could also smell them!

The road hugs the coastline

We hadn’t travelled too far when we were brought to a halt. It seems there are major roadworks underway, Rockfall protection we are told. The truck driver in front of us got out of his cab and did a walk around his truck and trailer checking tyres and other things so we figured we would be sitting here for a while. However we couldn’t really complain with this view.

Looking back to Kaikoura from our temporary stop. Not a bad view!

Once we did get underway again we could see what amazing work these guys were doing.

The cause of the holdup, building overhead rockfall nets.
Impressive abseiling workers

We continued south with a few tunnels to go through. one way each tunnel and one for trains.

Tunnels up ahead, one for each direction of traffic and one for the train

And a tunnel right on a corner, taking it slowly.

Tunnel

We were soon climbing slowly away from the coastline through the Hunderlees Hills before reaching Parnassus where we shall be staying for the night.

Parked at Parnassus

This is another NZMCA park, it’s an old school grounds, with beautiful large oak trees in the grounds and plenty of place to park. And that 52minute drive? Well, it took us 1hour and 45minutes. Just as well we are not in any hurry to get anywhere!

The route today

Kaikoura and a hiccup

April 6, 2021

The weather has decided to turn cold, wet and windy, something we are not used to as yet and we both had to dig through the wardrobes to find trousers and jumpers which have been well hidden away.

We parked at the new NZMCA Park on the north side of Kaikoura and quickly settled ourselves in. We decided to stay here over Easter as the forecast wasn’t looking particularly great and it seemed prudent to stay put. We can explore around the area basing ourselves here.

The view from the van, note the fresh snow on the Seaward Kaikoura’s.

We settled in for the next few days. Then came the hiccup. Overnight we noticed a problem with our power or to be precise our batteries. Oh no, does this mean we need new house batteries? Let’s see what happens in the morning. Bugger, looks like one set of our battery bank has died. Many messages were then sent to and fro to Wayne from Motorhome Solar, trying to diagnose the problem. Readings off the monitor were taken, photos taken, batteries checked with the multimeter, charts drawn up, emails and messages were pinging back and forth. The same thing happened the following night with one set of battery voltages dropping to the dead zone according to the monitor. Ok, we told ourselves we have done well to get 10years of continuous use out of our batteries thus resigned ourselves having to replace them all.

Roy took the monitor off the wall as it had become difficult to press the buttons to get any readings, he tightened up a few loose screws and mounted the monitor back on the wall. Well, what do you know? Ever since then, we are back at full capacity, batteries not dropping voltage overnight, and all testing has come back A OK. We cannot figure out what on earth is going on but we figure that there must have been a loose connection at the back of the monitor which was short circuiting somewhere and causing the problem of false readings on the battery voltages as the amp readings were ok. Fingers crossed, we may yet get a few more years out of these batteries!!!

Good Friday arrived, cold, wet and miserable so a day spent indoors was planned. However, I got a message from Auckland friends Anne & Greg to say they were also in Kaikoura and would we like to meet up? We were there in less than 5minutes! Anne’s brother Trevor and his partner Sue were also to join us as they are now living in Kaikoura and are building a house.

L-R: Trevor, Anne, Bernice, Greg, Roy and Sue

We had a lovely couple of hours with them before we bade farewell with Roy & I arranging to meet up with Trevor & Sue later over the weekend.

Meanwhile, we did a few little tiki tours around the area.

Mountains to the sea
Looking south toward Kaikoura township
Wave form seating in Kaikoura

We experience some stunning sunsets with the colours changing from yellows to oranges to deep reds.

We also experience every season imaginable, over 4 days we had heavy rain, strong winds, fresh snow on the hills which saw us reaching to get out the warm clothing and bedding followed by a scorching hot 31C day! The trousers and jumpers were put away and the shorts and t shirts came out again.

We visited Trevor & Sue and their house build up on the heights overlooking South Bay, what a stunning location and view. Their house is going to be lovely when it’s finished which shouldn’t be too much longer, then comes all the hard work of landscaping and putting the finishing touches in place. I was so entranced by their views and chatting that I forgot to take any pictures at all.

It’s time to move on from Kaikoura, it’s a lovely town which seems to have quickly recovered from the earthquakes. Although we have been here a few times, this is the first time we’ve spent more than a day or two here and we were quite impressed with what we saw. The town very busy, very tidy and vibrant with lots going on and lots of friendly locals. Oh, and yes, we did sample some local seafood though not what the town is named for (Kai= food, Koura=crayfish) but fresh blue cod, it’s been a while since we had blue cod and delicious it was too.

It’s also been a while since I gave a Callum update, here he is enjoying a little light reading! The Qi book of General Ignorance no less.

Callum getting in a bit of light reading!
And doing what he loves, reading, baking and playing outside.
This is Callum and how he talks to a grandma and Grandad! I’m sure he thinks we live in the TV 😂

Moving on to Kaikoura

April 2, 2021

Did I say that we were only driving short distances now we were in the south? That’ll teach me to speak too soon!

We left the lovely parking spot at Koromiko and headed just a short distance down the main highway to empty the waste tanks and to fill with fuel as we’ve discovered that many NPD fuels are also providing dump stations at their fuel stations, which is very handy.

Once the chores are completed, it was on to our next destination Marfells Beach, a DOC camp along the seafront near Lake Grassmere. The drive through Blenheim was beautiful with the lush green vines contrasting with the extremely dry hills.

Vines along the roadside

Vines along the roadside contrasting with the very dry hills

This now disused bridge was a combination road rail bridge, with the rail on the top level and road beneath. The new bridge is road only and two lanes.

First glimpse of the sea.

We turn off State Highway 1, past Lake Grassmere (not to be confused with Lake Grasmere, different spelling, different location). This lake is used to produce salt.

According to Wikipedia Lake Grassmere ;

Covering an area of 17 square kilometres (6.6 sq mi), it has no natural inflow and is prone to strong warm winds. Close to the sea, it also has a very high salinity.

Because of these geographical characteristics, it is ideal for natural salt extraction. Grassmere has been divided into solar evaporation ponds. Seawater is pumped in, and moved between ponds over several months, increasing in salinity with each successive evaporation period. As salinity increases, crystallised salt forms and is extracted.

The pink hues of salt drying in the sun as we pass Lake Grassmere

Arriving at the DOC camp, we quickly decided that we would continue on our travels. The camp is looking rather scruffy and uninviting, it’s changed quite a bit since we were last here therefore plan B was put into effect and we continued our journey southwards.

A glimpse of the sea as we pass though some of the roadworks along this route. We have to say that the work done on the roads after the Kaikoura earthquakes in 2016 are outstanding.

The road hugs the coastline, this road was basically destroyed after the earthquake

The newly completed road is a feat of engineering as well as testament to the hard work by all involved to get it all done, and done so well.

Top; before (taken in 2012), and below; now

You will see in the above current photo that there is also a wide pathway which completes the new roadworks. There is currently 3km of pathway of a planned 22km. However, local iwi halted the construction of any more of the planned cycleway/pathway due to concerns. Let’s hope they resolve the issues soon.

There are plenty of beautifully landscaped areas to stop and admire the views, or walk to see seals basking in the sun or playing in rock pools, or to just have a break. Including a couple of parking areas near cafes and the famous Crayfish shops.

Nins Bin – Famous crayfish (rock lobster) caravan on the roadside north of Kaikoura

We plan to stay here in Kaikoura for a while and do some day trips from here before moving on.

Today’s journey

The next move will definitely not cover quite so many kms.

The trip to date

To the South Island

March 30, 2021

We’ve arrived!

After a very smooth and uneventful crossing on the Bluebridge ferry we docked in Picton at 6am Friday morning. We were quickly unloaded and soon we were on the short drive to Koromiko where there is a wonderful large parking area on grass. We arrived just before 7am. As it was still dark we were mindful of not making too much noise so as not to wake others who were parked here it was out with the torches to find a suitable spot to park, quickly set ourselves up, make a cuppa before heading straight to bed for a couple of hours.

The large park with us parked up in the middle, this is about half of the parking area

One member of the touring party managed to have a good four or five hours sleep whereas I only managed a couple of hours before waking up. I’m sure I’ll crash early.

That afternoon, Friday, Marilyn & David called in for a quick visit along with their friends Salvi & Ann and arranged for us to meet them all the next day in Waikawa not too far from Picton where they were staying.

It’s Saturday and we’re going in to Picton to get the laundry done, check out the surrounds before going to meet up with Marilyn et al for a game of cards. But before we head on out Roy had a repair job to do on the passenger seat in the van as it decided it was going to become difficult to swivel. After a short period of time and only turning the air slightly blue, the job was completed and we could get on our way.

Oh so that is what the ferry looks like in the light of day

Marilyn & David were staying in a camp ground in Waikawa. Regular readers will recognise Marilyn & David as those we met when last in the Uk and we stayed with them on their barrow boat. You can read about that here.

We played 5 crowns, women vs men and of course the women reigned supreme! It’s the first time any of us had played the 6 handed version and it worked really well.

Top: L-R Roy Marilyn and Salvi, below: Ann and David

Soon it was time for us to head back to our van, grab a bite to eat before heading off to bed for another early night. However, the wind scuppered those plans as we were being buffeted by some very strong gusts of wind which kept this member of the touring party awake for some time before the land of nod beckoned.

Parked in splendid peace and quiet

The parking areas has a book exchange set in an old fridge, someone obviously has a good sense of humour with the fridge plugged in to the electric tree!

Book exchange

Sunday is a day of rest, the weather is a bit dull but we have plenty to keep us occupied, like plan where we head to next. With Easter looming next weekend we probably need to get ourselves sorted somewhere before the crowds arrive.

Roy headed off into Blenheim to check out the museum looking for some of his family history. Roy’s father was born in Blenheim (in 1897) and his grandparents were married there as well, living for some time in the Kenepuru Sounds so there is a bit of family history here in the region.

Time to continue our travels, but we aren’t moving vast distances, it’s now time to travel at a slower pace taking time to explore and enjoy.

Turangi to Wellington

March 28, 2021

We left Turangi once the sun had warmed things up a little, brrr, we are not used to this chilly weather but at least a chilly start to the day means we are in for a cracker of a day. The drive along the desert road is always interesting, so interesting that I become so absorbed in my surroundings that I forget to take any photos. However, I did manage to take a quick one of the naked mountains of the central plateau. It won’t be long before they are covered in their winter cloaks of snow ready to welcome skiers.

Mt Tongariro in the distance

Further south past Waiouru where the NZ Army have a large presence, we were surprised to come along these vehicles travelling quite quickly along the road

Army vehicles

It was an easy and pleasant drive and we soon arrived at our destination, Timona Park in Fielding.

We took a drive one afternoon through to Sanson, a small town about 15minutes away which is famous for an establishment called Viv’s Kitchen.

Viv’s Kitchen, famous for cream horns

We just had to try one, purely for research purposes as you see my Mum used to make cream horns, something I haven’t had since forever ago and these would have to be pretty damn good to come anywhere close to how I remember Mums.

They were quite delicious, of course not as delicious as mums but a very close runner up.

From a days respite in Fielding we left to continue our journey this time as far as Plimmerton where there is an NZMCA park. But first a trip to the dump station to empty the waste tanks. That taken care of I went to get back into the van but the door wouldn’t open.

“Roy, did you lock the door?” I asked. No, was the reply. Luckily, the keys were in the ignition of the car, once I had retrieved them I tried to unlock the door. No luck. B*#@*r. As we have two locks, we thought it may just be the other lock that was stuck therefore we needed the other set of keys that were hanging on the hook inside the van! Onto plan B. Get the ladder out of the car and try all the windows to see if we can get in to reach the keys. Nope. That wasn’t going to work. A van pulled up alongside us and the occupants said “need a hand, mate?”. Troy and his dad came to our rescue, both being mechanics and dad being a Motorhomer, they had us sorted in no time. Unfortunately the lock was broken with the main tongue of the lock mechanism having a break in it. After much discussion the lock and door handle were put back in place, we can now either lock the door closed or have it wide open i.e. we cannot close the door with it staying closed without locking it as only the deadlock still works, which will be fine until we can get a replacement.

The broken door lock

This whole saga brought about a sense of déjà vu….something very similar happened way back in 2013 when we were at Otamure with Pat & Sue, you can read about that episode here.

We called in to Gipsy Caravans in Levin to get a replacement, they didn’t have one in stock however, they are arranging for one to be sent to us further along in our travels…guess where we are having it sent to? Care of Pat & Sue in Christchurch of course. Something about things going full circle come to mind!

We decided to stay a night in Levin at the Cosmopolitan Club whilst we sorted out the lock, again, not a simple exercise as we need to be members of the Affiliated Clubs to stay. So we join the Club and become members of the Levin chapter, it will allow us access into other clubs around the country as part of our membership. It’s something we have been meaning to do for sometime so there’s no time like the present.

A day later than anticipated we arrive at Plimmerton NZMCA park, where we ring to make a ferry booking. Hmmmm, the only bookings they have available for our length of vehicle until after Easter is the 2.30am crossing. Instant decision made, we shall cross tonight and get to the mainland where we can then relax a little more and take our time.

We take the opportunity to catch up with my niece Natalie and her family as they live not too far from where we are parked. My goodness, my great nieces Renee and Michelle have sprouted and what delightful young girls they are too. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them and look forward to a much longer catch up on our return journey. After we had dinner, we bade farewell to Natalie and family before heading back to the van where we pack up and drive to the ferry terminal to wait until we are loaded.

The view from inside the van when we are loaded onto the ferry along with all the other vehicles.

I write this at some stupid hour of the morning whilst we are on the ferry crossing to the other side, sleep is really what’s on my mind at the moment but I’m afraid that eludes me. We could not get a cabin as they were all booked therefore we are in one of the lounges where we are surrounded by lots of people who can sleep as attested by the very very loud snoring. I’ll have to wait until we land in the South Island and get to our park up.

Auckland to Turangi and points in between

March 21, 2021

It’s been a long time. Well, it feels like a long time since we have been on the move for any length of time over the past couple of years. What with travelling to the UK & Europe or being stuck in one place with that pandemic thing, now it’s time – we are cutting loose. We have finally escaped the confines of Auckland and with that brings on some sudden unexpected changes i.e. we’ve had to break out the warmer clothing! This is a shock to the system, I think I’ve worn shorts for most of the past couple of years, in fact it was a mission to find some trousers.

Back to the travels. We got our COF before we left Auckland from VTNZ in Takanini. They did note that the bump stops on the front suspension would need replacing soon so we decided to get that attended to before leaving town. The guys at AD Motors in Takanini quickly sourced new ones and had them fitted whilst we waited, and all for a reasonable price. We can highly recommend both businesses for good service.

Anyway, we’re finally on our way south, as in, to the South Island. Our first overnight stay was at AJs park on the shores of Lake Karapiro. We’ve been here many times before but this time we note that a new parking area has been created on an upper level affording wonderful views along the lake.

View from the upper level

However, we were more than happy being parked up by the river listening to the gentle lapping of the waves washing on the shore.

Parked in front of the lake

We hadn’t been parked up very long when we noticed one of our neighbours was none other that Wayne and Vicky, of Motorhome Solar. We caught up the following day after Robert, Roys cousin, came to visit bringing with him home grown tomatoes and lovely fresh eggs from his chickens.

After a couple of nights we decided it was time to move on, after some deliberation we decided that our next stop would be Turangi heading down the west side of lake Taupo.

We passed through Putaruru and Tokoroa, stopping briefly in Tokoroa to get some fuel. I went to school in Putaruru and then lived in Tokoroa through my 20’s but neither place evoke any feelings except of familiarity.

We thought we’d call in to Mangakino on our way for a break, but guess what happened? Yep, a couple of nights staying here was on the cards.

The view through the front window

Mangakino was settled by the side of the Waikato River with small workers cottages for the building of the dams nearby at Whakamaru and Maraetai. The cottages remain with some as permanent homes but many are holiday cottages for families.

The peace and quiet overlooking Lake Maraetai was tantalising. It’s funny how some sounds can bring things back to the forefront of your mind, for me it was the sound of the lake with wakes of boats occasionally lapping the shore. The sounds of a lake are so very different to the sea, especially since it’s been a while since we have been next to a lake.

Parked at Matekuri Island, Mangakino

Time to continue our travels, it’s been sometime since we’ve been on the move every other day but we are quickly into the swing of things. We are heading to Turangi on the southern end of Lake Taupo but via the western side of the Lake as we haven’t been this way for some years.

Lake view from western road

Looking across the lake toward Kinloch

We arrived in Turangi to the new NZMCA parking area where we quickly settled in before heading off into town to get a few groceries and to attend to the laundry.

The route travelled

Turangi is a small town on the west bank of the Tongariro River. It was built to accommodate the workers associated with the Tongariro hydro-electric power project and their families. The town was designed to remain as a small servicing centre for the exotic forest plantations south of Lake Taupo and for tourists. It is well known for its trout fishing and calls itself “The trout fishing capital of the world”. 

Another couple of nights here before we head off again. It’s good to be on the move.

We’ve been busy

March 14, 2021

In between lockdowns, a school group was due into the park with around 200 children so we thought we would abandon ship aka lock up the van, put a temporary fence around our setup and head to Antony’s for a few days. It just so happened that Antony had taken the week off work as he wanted to get some of his garden sorted aka Mum and Dad to the rescue.

I started on a couple of overgrown roses at the front, which I can tell you I had great fun chopping back. It took me a good couple of hours to prune themback, the trimmings filling a wool sack (around a cubic metre) with the rose thorns leaving a lasting impression.

Of course I forgot to take any photos, so you will have to take my word that everything in that part of the garden is now looking tickety boo. The next day we decided to tackle the garden down the side of the house that is on the opposite side to the main driveway. This side of the house doesn’t get much sun, or use for that matter. Between the house and the fence is around 6ft (yes, I still think in feet and inches, it’s around 2m) and was a mass of overgrown large agave plants. We started at one end chopping them out and putting into the wool sacks, after filling one wool sack with the plants, Roy and Ants took the two full wool sacks to the dump, returning to find me having chopped out enough to fill another wool sack..

The cleared path

Antony had a brain wave, he placed the rest of the agave plants on the berm, took a photo of them and placed an ad on Facebook market place….free Agave plants. We didn’t think anyone would want them but hey, it was worth a try. We carried on cutting the last of the plants out and placed them on the growing pile on the verge. Meanwhile a footpath emerged from underneath the cleared plants, and what is this? No it’s not a fence at the end of the path but a gate that can open onto the front footpath, what’s more, we could even unlock it and open it! To our surprise we had many enquires regarding the plants on the verge with over half of the pile gone by the end of the day

The next job was weed spraying which we did quite quickly. The last job of the day was to tackle was the chopping down of the Yuccas that have become overgrown down both sides of the back of the section. On inspection, we all decided that this was a big job and we needed someone else to wield a chainsaw as some of the plants were rather large. Plus we needed someone to take away all the resulting rubbish. Again Antony was onto it, ringing someone he knew who does garden maintenance. It just so happened that he would be passing by later that morning and would call in to give us a quote.

Later in the week, this was the view.

Chopping down the yuccas

All done, just have to get rid of the waste

One lot of stumps painted with stump killer, but we changed tack as we’ve been told that the best way to kill them off is to cover them with black plastic starving themselves of light and air.

All tidied and cleared of rubbish

We returned to Shakespear ready for what we thought would be our last weekend, however, another lockdown came into effect on the Sunday so we were back to being on our own for another week. We finally managed to escape Shakespear and we headed to Ardmore where we had a few chores to do, people to see and the last bit of gardening work at Antony’s.

There is just one lot of Yuccas left to be removed

The last lot of yuccas waiting to meet the chainsaw.

The stumps have been covered with black plastic bags which will hopefully kill off the stump and root system over a few months. Meanwhile we have sprayed the paths, patio and decks with spray and walk away type of cleaner which will also work its magic over the next month or two, everything is looking very smart.

Now it’s time for a holiday!!! We will be on our way south by the time the last of the yucca are removed but we look forward to seeing the results when we return later in the year.

What’s next?

March 7, 2021

Here we go again, another b*#*#y lockdown, topped off with earthquakes and tsunami warnings, so what’s next? Locusts?

Lockdown. How is it that a couple of persons actions can bring a whole nation to a pause? Easy, ignore all Covid advice and recommendations, be selfish and go inconvenience whole heap of innocent people.

When the news broke of the shift in levels, we quickly raced around the camp informing campers of the change in levels and the news that the park would be closing as the shift to level 3 came into effect. Everyone was packed up and gone by late on Sunday morning which left us on our own to enjoy the solitude.

We were a bit concerned that the changed Covid levels would scupper our plans for the week, our last week at Shakespear. We had a few appointments scheduled for the week ahead with a bit of uncertainty whether they would still go ahead but we were sent texts to say that they would indeed proceed. Roy had a checkup scan and a follow up appointment with the urologist as it’s been three years since he had surgery and radiation. Both of the appointments went ahead as planned, the scan on Monday and Tuesday at the specialist. We can report the good news that all is well. Then he just had his final eye specialist appointment scheduled for Friday as a follow up to his second successful cataract surgery a month ago. He has already had his new drivers licence issued which removed the requirement for the need for glasses to be worn whilst driving. The checkup went ahead and all is great there too so we will be free to move on once the Covid levels change on Sunday (today).

Next throw into the mix a few earthquakes which resulted in tsunami warnings to put us all on edge. The first we knew of the earthquake was when Alex (in London) messaged to asked if we had felt it? Uh, no, we were asleep at 2.30am when the first one happened. However, interestingly our smoke alarm went off three times during the early hours, which when looking at the times of the subsequent earthquakes, the timings coincided?! The alarm has not gone off since, apart from when I burnt the toast, and it’s a relatively new alarm with a 10year warranty and it’s a sealed unit that does not require you to change batteries.

The screeching warnings that came in on our phones later in the morning certainly give the old heart a jump start. We were packed up and ready to drive to higher ground as we were put on a Maritime/Beach watch but it wasn’t necessary to move in the end.

Before we leave a few chores need to be attended to. We’ve washed the van, polished the windows and done a few of the usual maintenance jobs including a couple of jobs I’ve been putting off. One being putting new mesh in the fly screen door. As it requires the removal of the door from the van, it seemed a good opportunity to give the door a clean and coat of paint as well.

A good job well done, and it’s now back in situ looking good.

We have emptied out all the lockers and cleaned them out as well as getting rid of some of those “cumzins”, you know, those things that may come in handy one of these days. It’s amazing the stuff you accumulate over time so we have ditched some of the stuff that we have been carrying around for years and never had a use for, so you can guess what will happen now don’t you? Yes, there will come an occasion shortly that we will be able to say…oh, we shouldn’t have thrown/given that away.

As we reflect upon this season of camp hosting, we can only say what a weird year it has been. Unfortunately people’s appalling behaviour or lack thereof is what immediately springs to mind as a summary of this year. The entitled, confrontational, aggressive attitude of a few people have tainted what otherwise has been a lovely summer. Instead of dwelling on the negative though we shall focus on the positive.

There were all the wonderful family and friends groups that came to stay and enjoyed camping, swimming and generally having fun in the sun.

Like this group who set their tables together for a banquet one evening. And yes, that is our van in the background in the top right hand corner

There are the families that come back every year and greet us like long lost friends. The huge number of positive people we meet every year certainly make up for the few idiots.

So what are our plans? Well, the plan is to not make too many plans so we don’t have to change them should the need arise but the general plan is to head south, as in to the South Island for a few months. Yes, we know it’s going to be a bit chilly as we move into autumn and winter, but we shall just have to dress appropriately! We are really looking forward to spending some time reconnecting with lots of friends as well as places again.