Back to Shakespear

November 17, 2018

We arrived late Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we were set up fairly quickly and just as well because no sooner had we finished when the skies opened and the rained poured down. But not before I managed to take a picture of us all set up.

It’s lovely to be back although it sounds as though we could be in for an interesting summer as the booking system has been completely changed. Before it was just plain terrible, now it’s diabolical! It has obviously been set up by someone who has a) never made a booking before, for anything….and b) has never been on the working end of a booking system especially from the end user perspective. It should not be so difficult or convoluted, in fact it should be very simple. We have complained about the previous system for years (along with just about every end user) and now somehow they have managed to make it even worse. I bet someone was paid a lot of money to make it such a shambles. Getting off soap box now.

This last week was a week of appointments and checkups, culminating with me (Bernice) having one of my knees replaced on Monday the 19th. Interesting wee aside though, as part of the pre Op checks and tests, I was measured and guess what? Since I had my hip replaced I am exactly one whole centimetre taller!!! Every little bit helps.

The surgery and subsequent recovery is not something I am particularly looking forward to but I am looking forward to one day being pain free and much more mobile.

Since we have been back here at Shakespear though we have been amazed at the proliferation of bird life, we have some saddlebacks here in the campground with two new chicks that are making their presence heard and kiwi can be heard most nights. In fact tonight I could have sworn that the kiwi was just outside the door it sounded so close. I went out looking with my red torchlight (red so it doesn’t hurt their eyes) but I could not see it anywhere. The Tuis are amazing not just for their call but also their flying antics. I watched them chase away a mynah and a magpie yesterday. The pukekos are everywhere, there are robins and fantails and yellow heads and whiteheads and we have a thrush that seems to particularly like us as well.

All the hard work that the rangers and volunteers put in are really paying off with the bush line extending every year, it really is a huge asset for Auckland along with the other regional parks.

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Moving, fishing and a yacht

November 11, 2018

A night in Kerikeri on our way back towards Auckland meant that Roy could have a good catch up with Stuart to compare and swap genealogy notes. Whilst Roy was out, I noticed another vehicle in the Kerikeri NZMCA Park that looked familiar so I wandered along to meet up with Shellie. Shellie blogs and photographs her and David’s travels around New Zealand, her blog is here. Over a cuppa we talked for a good couple of hours about everything and nothing. Thanx for the catch up Shellie, sorry we didn’t get to say hooray, but enjoy your travels north, until next time.

Our next stop is Uretiti where Keith & Deb had arrived the day before us and sorted out a great position for themselves. We set ourselves up in a lovely spot just along from our usual position, which just so happened to be taken. However, I think I’ve just found our new favourite space!

Settled in

perfect positioning for the sun and privacy.

and another vehicle parked in our usual spot behind the tree.

We were settled into relax mode when the guys decided they might just try a fish off the beach after dinner. They were only away just over an hour before they were back with one rather large fish and another couple of good sized ones. They also thought it may be a good idea to have an early morning fish whilst some of us slumbered on, They did bring back another three for their early morning effort.

Lunch time they went for another fish, this time I wandered down to the beach with them. Whilst there, looking out to sea with the backdrop of the Hen & Chicken Islands was a very large yacht, which was moving very swiftly, along with four chase boats and at one stage a helicopter in tow.

Click on the picture to enlarge and on the left hand side of the island you should be able to pick out the sail and a splash of water from one of the chase boasts. Sorry, but only had my phone with me to take a picture.

We soon determined that this was one of the Russell Coutts/Larry Ellison catamarans on trial for their new racing competition set to rival the Americas Cup. It is a sailing league called SailGP that will be contested in an enhanced class of foiling 50-foot catamarans. Teams from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, France, Japan and China will compete starting in 2019 in highly advanced catamarans called F50s.

Gayle came to visit for a day, we met when we first hit the road, it was fabulous to catch up again and have a few laughs.

Shhhhh…..we are not telling!

November 6, 2018

Our next destination is a bit of a hidden gem, it’s not advertised anywhere, it’s not listed on any web sites and it’s not in any books. We came across it a couple of years https://brvannini.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/hidden-gem/ so decided to return. Luckily we still had the contact details of the guardian of the site so we rang before making the trek to book in, as well as make sure it was still ok to visit in exchange for a bit of Koha (donation).

We left Tokerau Beach in the rain, accompanied by a terrible gusty wind. We would usually chose not to travel in such wind but it seemed like it was easing, which it did further along in our journey.

We arrived to find that there was no one else here, yay, we can park where we like. We woke the following morning to thIs view from my bedroom window….

and yes, this was taken by me at 7am!

and a panoramic shot taken from the door of the van.

This was also where we saw the Blue whale two years ago, now long gone.

this is us all settled in.

Some people even went for a swim! A tad chilly yet for most of us though.

Well, he (Keith) was a tad warm after hiking out to the end of the point, an hour each way, so I guess cooling off in the sea is not a bad option.

Some of us prefer to sit in the sun and contemplate the world whilst taking in the views

Looking left

looking right, and with that sort of scenery, why wouldn’t you?

Not to be outdone, the following day Deb braved the water for a swim

that’s her swimming along the beach……brrrrrr. It will have to warm up a bit more before I venture in.

We have had a week here and as alluded to in my last post, we have managed to do very little but relax, take time out, go for the odd walk, chill out, fish, swim, relax…..you get the picture? Bliss!

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All good things…

October 31, 2018

They say that all good things must come to an end and in our case it was very true. It was time to move on, our time at Rarawa was finally up even though we were all very reluctant to leave but needs must and all that.

We were packed up and ready to head into Kaitaia for the day and to stay the night at the RSA. An uneventful drive down to Kaitaia where the first thing to do was a trip to the dump station and then to the petrol station to fill up with LPG. With laundry to be done, shopping to catch up on and a zillion other little jobs to do we also decided to spend some of our dollars in and around Kaitaia at various food places and to give us a night off cooking. First was a late lunch at the bakery, which just so happens to be next door to the laundromat.

I caught these two enjoying a late lunch.

After lunch and laundry it was back to the vans to put everything away before attending to other shopping. That evening we all went to the RSA for dinner where we were warmly welcomed and had a great meal.

Next morning it was breakfast at Gecko, another great little cafe in Kaitaia that does fantastic food as well as coffee. Once we all had had our fill of breakfast and coffee it was time to move on. This time we are heading to the NZMCA Park at Tokerau Beach.

Safely parked up the boys decided to was time for a fish off the beach and they were soon back with a nice fish. Whilst here we are catching up with Gary & Marg as they have sold their house and are moving to Waipu.

The weekend was spent hiding from the rain and wind, watching the rugby and for me it was a marathon netball watching weekend with the Fast Five Netball Champs on in Melbourne…and yes, we, I mean NZ, won in a heart-stoppingly close final.

We were only going to stay for the weekend as we have a secret gem of a place to show Keith & Deb where they can stay which is one of those unadvertised, not well known places to stay and we are heading there next for a week of doing some serious relaxing, with just a little bit of fishing thrown into the mix!

Labour weekend

October 23, 2018

We’ve seen them come, and we’ve seen them go. Who are they? People that live “normal” lives and only have weekends to get away. They started arriving here at Rarawa on Friday, setting up their camp sites with more friends and family joining their small groups over the weekend. It’s Monday morning and already over half of the people have left to go home, unpack, clean up and get themselves ready for their working week, which, as we sit here enjoying the warm sunshine with a flat white coffee in hand reminds us just how damn fortunate we are to be able to live this lifestyle.

We’ve been fishing a few times off 90mile beach, it’s a short drive from here and with the wind direction favourable for getting the kite out we have been taking advantage of it. Keith’s drone has had a bit of a malfunction with the release tab not working so we had to rely on the kites again.

With good success, plenty of snapper and one good sized Trevally (which we neglected to take any photos) we have enjoyed not only snapper for dinner but also the Trevally became sashimi and also some made into Ceviche/Kokoda/Ota Iki/Crudo aka raw fish salad by any of its other names.

this is yesterday’s fish off 90mile beach

And some of you have asked what on earth are we doing with all this fish. Well, apart from eating lots of it, we vacuum pack it and freeze it. We have perfected the method so that when we defrost it, it is just like fresh fish.

the top packet is just one fillet, weighing in at around 700gms!

We should have enough to last us a little while when we are tied to camp hosting at Shakespear when there isn’t the time or the lack of people and boats around to go fishing.

We have also shared the fish around with friends, family as well as the odd fellow camper benefitting from our efforts.

Earlier I mentioned that Keith’s drone had had a bit of a malfunction, and whilst it will be fixed next week we were not to let that get in the way or stop us using it. With a bit of help from Mr Google, along with some YouTube clips and some kiwi ingenuity, we came up with a solution. It required a wire coat hanger but neither of us had one, but wait…..I have part of one that I used to make the handle on my peg basket. The peg basket is now handleless until I come up with another plan but the drone now functions perfectly well for carrying the long line off shore.

Getting set up ready to launch, what a way to spend a Monday afternoon.

here’s the coat hanger attached to the underside of the drone with the line to be attached on the hook, the line stays in place when it flies out, when the drone stops where we want it to, the momentum of the line and sinker self launches the line off the wire. Ingenious!! I think we should patent it!

with line and sinker attached.

And just to prove that we both are on the beach enjoying the sunshine, here is photographic evidence.

Back in the groove

October 17, 2018

We are back into our groove again, you know, get up at a leisurely hour in the mornings, look at the day, quickly dispense with any chores and then go fishing!!!

The fellas went out for an early morning fish, whilst some of us slept on…

Waiting for the fish as well as sunrise, what a beautiful morning, I’m pleased you took a picture of it so I would know what it looks like!

I think Keith was quite pleased with this catch!

The fishing gang on the beach, later in the day

somewhere in the blue shy is a little black dot, that is our kite!

Roy getting in his daily step count walking over to see Keith to discuss whose line we will bring in first (Roy is on light duties so Keith helps us to retrieve our line).

another good catch including this fantastic gurnard. We have never caught one as big before, I’m sure it will make good eating.

Roger the rooster is still here and becoming bolder and bolder, walking on the mat to the door to see if we will give him something to eat. I know what I’d really like to feed him!!!

Medical matters

October 14, 2018

We made our way down to Auckland as far as Whakapirau where we were staying with Jacky & Chris for the night. It’s a 5hr drive from Rarawa to Whakapirau, including a couple of comfort stops, and then a further 2 hrs to get to Auckland so it’s a good break point for us.

Roy was due at Ascot at midday ready for surgery at around 2pm. Antony came in to take me out to lunch whilst Roy was under the knife laser. Roy was having some remedial surgery of the prostate as some tissue had atrophied as a result of the hormone and radiation treatments and was causing a bit of an issue. Meanwhile Antony and I went out for a nice lunch and a bit of retail therapy returning to the hospital just as the surgeon rang to say all had gone well and he would be in his room within the next hour.

I was happy to wait for him in his room enjoying the view.

the view from his room overlooking Ellerslie Race course.

He was back pretty soon, wide awake and feeling ok after having an epidural and a sedative rather than a full anaesthetic, so good in fact that he was keen to have something to eat. I left him in the good care of the staff at Ascot in the early evening to retire to Antony’s place for the night.

The following day Roy had not had the best night, so the surgeon was checking in on him a couple of times and sorting out his pain relief before he would allow him out later in the day. Meanwhile Antony and I headed over to Southern Cross Hospital on the North Shore where I was to have an MRI done on my hip replacement due to an anomaly showing up on previous X-rays.

MRI’s are not my favourite thing, they can be very claustrophobic, especially as they tighten a special cage device over the hip area to make sure you stay still and also tie my feet together and onto the bed so nothing moves….eeeek……but I told myself it was just for an hour so just suck it up and deal with it. It was completed in around 45minutes, but then they said I had to have more done but this time with a dye injected. Breathe in…….and out……..relax, think of your happy place Bernice, all these thoughts were racing through my mind as I went back into the scanner. But it was soon over with, next came the wait to see the surgeon in a few hours time.

Again, Antony & I went out for a bite to eat and to do a few chores. I must say it was great to have him with me and we had a good chat about everything and anything. We were back at the surgeons office 45minutes early, fortunately he could see me early. And the upshot?

At the top of the trochanter (femur) has some stress fractures that appear to be healing, no wonder it’s been a bit sore! and there maybe very small bone fragments that have come away and irritating matters. As well it looks like there is a pocket of fluid which he was unsure what it was exactly.

What’s next? They want to do a biopsy on the fluid via a needle inserted into the hip area….eeeek! this is to be done under a general anaesthetic and what about having it done next week? Oh and we will also check for infection with some blood tests as well. After a bit of discussion, we agreed that I would have the blood tests straight away and see what they say and put off the needle biopsy and do it next month when I am having my knee replaced negating the need for two anaesthetics in a short period of time. That is presuming everything comes back clear with the blood tests, fingers crossed.

I did ask if I was being a wuss with regards to the pain I have but I was assured that I am not, so with new prescription in hand we were soon on our way.

Meanwhile Roy was being discharged so we could pick him up on the way home and head to Antony’s for the night. We were both feeling pretty good so we thought we would head back north, just as far as Whakapirau initially, just to be close enough to Auckland if we had to return for any reason. After a restful nights sleep, we were ready to head back home.

We were back at the van the following day, ready to take things easy for a bit as Roy is on strict light duties, and I am to rest as much as practicable. That being said, we are both feeling pretty good so hope to get back to some good fishing stories soon.

Blue sky days

October 7, 2018

We have had an incredible run of beautiful blue sky days, with not a cloud in sight. The shorts and t shirts are well and truly being worn everyday and the sunscreen is being slapped on as well as a hat. And what better way to spend these stunning days than on the beach, oh, and whilst we are there we might as well have a fish.

Getting ready to fly out the baited hooks.

The following video shows what happens next.

The drone releases the line once it’s out as far as we choose it to go and then it magically returns to the beach and lands exactly where it takes off from. It’s a clever drone made here in New Zealand specifically for fishing. It has inbuilt safety mechanisms that will automatically ditch the line and return it to base if it detects that its battery is running low.

Once the line is set out, we usually wait anything for 45 minutes to an hour before bringing in the line. However, on this occasion, the line was only out for 3 minutes when the rod starting dancing. It was obvious that there was something rather large on the line. After much speculation of what it was….stingray, eel, very big snapper, and with the line continually being dragged out after just 15 minutes we decided to bring it all back in. Now the reel is also electric so doesn’t require but winding in but in this case the line was not coming in at all.

There is a fair amount of pull on that line. Not wanting to lose any gear, Keith started the slow process of getting in all in. Whatever it was, it was sure putting up a good fight, perhaps we had caught a taniwha (that means monster for you overseas readers). The line came in slowly when it was just over half way in, all of a sudden whatever it was gave up the fight and the line started coming in a little easier. However, once all in, there were only a couple of snapper on the hooks, but what’s this? A broken hook and one trace tied up into so many knots it’s not funny, whatever it was that was on the line was obviously very grumpy at being caught and made a bit of a mess of the line. Oh well, can’t complain I guess, we will go out again in the morning.

just hanging around in the sun waiting for the fish to come in. This beach has incredibly fine white silica sand tat squeaks when you walk on it.

and here they come, five or six in this set, I can’t remember!!

I’ve decided I am like the proverbial ‘banana on the boat’ jinx as the guys seem to do so much better when I am not with them, so later that day the boys went out for another fish at dusk. After such stunningly beautiful days it does cool down rather quickly in the early evenings so I am happy to stay nice and warm in the van doing my knitting!

Roy and I are heading to Auckland for a few days and we would like to be able to take some fresh fish with us for family and friends. We shall be back in a few days though so whilst we are away Keith & Deb can practise their fishing and relaxation skills ……and do something to quieten down Roger the Rooster!

Rarawa

October 4, 2018

It was time to leave the lovely park over property at Tokerau Beach, Brett & Bronwyn run a great POP there and we are always made to feel very welcome. I headed off first into Kaitaia to attend to laundry and shopping and Roy was going to follow on behind to fill up with LPG whilst Keith & Deb went on ahead to Rarawa. Now you know what’s coming don’t you? It was never going to be that simple.

I had just about finished getting the laundry washed when Roy rang to say he was still at the POP, the damn RV/bus/motorhome/van, whatever label you want to give it, would not start! It seemed the starter motor had decided to crap out. A local auto electrician was contacted and he said he could come and have a look in an hour or so. I decided that meant I could throw the laundry into the dryer, and go and have a coffee whilst I waited to see if I needed to pick up any parts in town. The phone call came just as I had finished folding the washing, it was fixed and Roy was on his way. Apparently it was a rusty/loose terminal so a quick fix and he was on his way. That gave me plenty of time to get the shopping done before he arrived. We met at the dump station, then went and filled with LPG and water before heading off up to Rarawa.

It’s been 2 years since we were last up this way and the growth of avocado farms expanding throughout the north is incredible to see.

We came around one corner to see this sight ahead of us.

Very effective cutouts of children, poignant reminders that there is a school here and to be mindful of your speed.

By the time we got to the DoC camp at Rarawa it was 4.30pm (the start of daylight saving sort of mucked us up a bit), we arrived to find Deb & Keith all set up and our position sorted. They even had dinner ready for us, how nice is that? We were soon all set up and making ourselves at home.

The following evening, the guys decided to have a bit of a quick fish off the beach before dinner, they were back in just over an hour with these beauties.

Not content, the following morning whilst some of us were still sleeping, they were out again to see what they could catch. They were back before 8 am, this time with a couple of huge fish.

The biggest fish was just over 14lbs or 6.5kg. That’s enough for a day or two, by the time we left them to set for a while on salt ice, before being filleted and packaged, most of the day had gone. We split the heads of the large fish ready to cure then smoke them, plenty of very good fish there to make a few smoked fish pies and a bit of pâté as well.

We had originally planned to go and have a kite fish off 90mile beach in the early afternoon but we all admitted that we probably had enough fish for the moment, besides, the freezers were full so we would relax for the afternoon.

Relaxing in the sun after all that hard work with a coffee and some muffins fresh from the oven.

Our next challenge is to somehow get rid of this guy who wakes us at stupid hour every morning with his crowing.

Once we deal with him, we shall have to come up with a plan to deal with his friend on the other side of the river. The joys of being in a rural camp!

Never a dull moment

October 1, 2018

The fishing was going great guns, every time the blokes went out they came home with lots of fish so we were eating it, giving it away and freezing some. Just as well as both couples were heading away for a couple of days, us a quick trip to Auckland for medical appointments and Keith & Debbie were off to Tauranga the day after we left for a family matter.

But not before a last minute fish off Tokerau Beach.

Keith with control in hand ready to send the drone out with the baits and longline.

We have lift off.

Wait for 45 minutes then press the button on the reel to bring in the line….

Enough fish to share around with family and friends.

We were very fortunate as we were going to break our journey to Auckland by staying with Jacky & Chris at Whakapirau as it is a non stop 5 1/2 hour drive from Tokerau to Auckland, and who does that sort of distance without a couple of stops at least? It’s 3 1/2 hrs to Whakapirau, but add another hour on to that for stops, road works and the like so it’s still a decent drive.

Roy had a checkup with the Urologist, the upshot being he is having some surgery to clean up the prostate on Monday 8th October. He will be in Ascot Hospital overnight or possibly two nights. Meanwhile I had my 3month checkup with my surgeon, and we made a date for knee surgery, 19th November it is scheduled for the first knee replacement, a great birthday present to myself!!

After another great stay with Jacky and Chris on our return journey home, we headed home Wednesday morning, calling in to the Jewellers in Whangarei to pick up my repaired rings and necklace.

my rings, all beautifully repaired and polished, and now all joined together so that they don’t rub against each other.

I also had my necklace repaired with a new chain put on,

This necklace is one that Roy gave to me for my 21st birthday, just a couple of years ago!

Back at the van on Thursday I received a call from my surgeon, on reviewing the latest X-ray of my hip, they’ve noticed an anomaly on the trochanter (top of the femur) which doesn’t look quite right and could I go back for an MRI scan to further investigate things? Oh no, what could it possibly be? Stress fractures possibly, but they will see once they do the scan. No wonder I still have pain!! I’ve scheduled the MRI and consult for the 9th October so we shall have to wait and see what eventuates. Bugger!

Never mind, we can hopefully get another week of fishing in, whip down to Auckland in the car for a couple of days and get everything over had done with and still be on track for knee surgery in November. Fingers crossed.