Archive for December, 2011


December 31, 2011

Before leaving Oamaru we managed to fit in a dinner with Burnie and Hilda and Steve and Leslie and Antony.  A very good barbeque, good wine and a fine evening.

dinner 2

Christmas Eve and we leave Oamaru, this time with a passenger on board, Antony!   Off to Jason and Erica’s to spend Christmas with them, they live just a few km’s out of Ashburton so not a long trip.

Christmas Day and the children were not awake too early, in fact Grandad was up well before anyone else.  The jolly red suited man had done his bit and left behind presents for all.  A lovely day was spent opening presents, playing games, and eating Christmas dinner outside under the shade of the big Oak Tree.

Xmas dinner

Antony was delivered to Christchurch Airport in plenty of time for his flight home.  We really did appreciate him coming down to support us through this emotional time. On our trip back to Ashburton, Roy realised that he had lost one of his hearing aids.  So a short stop to check out the car, call Ants to check out the airport in case it had been knocked out whilst saying farewell, but all to no avail.  Search around at Jason’s but still no luck.  Heavy sigh, a call to the insurance company and a new one will have to be made. 

Roy is helping Jason build a shed, well, it is very amusing to watch as two Mathematicians working out levels, angles and lines is very funny…..they DO think differently to the rest of us!!!!

builders 1 The builders Roy and Jason with assistant Andre

builders 2 Getting there

We moved from the side of the road to the Tinwald Domain and are staying here for a few days.

A most unusual “glass” house was spotted here at the Domain.  It is made of empty plastic bottles and definitely works looking at the Tomato  plants inside (seen through the walls!!)

ingenious hot house

We will remain here around Ashburton until Saturday at least, as Friday is Dante’s 8th birthday.  We shall then head off for a couple of weeks, but not venturing too far as we plan to return for Rose’s 6th birthday on 12th January.

Today was Dante’s birthday and he got a present that he was really looking forward to.

xfighter Eat your heart out Antony here is the Leggo Star Wars X-Wing Fighter as assembled by Dante.

What can one say?

December 30, 2011

Monday 5th December

After a lovely evening spent playing cards with Anne & Paul, we arranged to meet this morning for morning tea at Art Trio which we have been told that you have to experience the excellent service offered.  However, those plans were scuppered when we found that the Cafe is closed on a Monday.  Never mind, plan B, head out to Nosh for lunch after a spot of shopping at the Lolly Shop in Waimate.  Another surprise, a lovely lunch awaited us at Nosh Cafe on SH1 at the turn off to Waimate.  We all enjoyed a lovely leisurely lunch before it was time for us all to get back to the real world.  As we had missed out on Art Trio, we decided to stay in Waimate another night to enjoy morning tea there tomorrow.

Tuesday 6th December

Art Trio Cafe lived up to the reviews we had heard, they certainly know how to treat a customer, and their coffee is good too! We bade farewell to Anne & Paul, wishing Paul all the best for his heart surgery on Friday.

Time to head off, by this time we had heard that sister-in-law Ann was in Oamaru hospital so back to our usual position at the Oamaru Race Course.  Ann was diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago (the reason we returned to Oamaru earlier) and was in Oamaru hospital as her pain medication needed updating.  She was home again on Wednesday and things were looking up.

Thursday 8th December

I had organised to use Mike & Ann’s house to cook dinner for them and for Mum & Dad.  What they all did not know was that brother John and his daughters Julie & Jenny were arriving as the surprise dinner guests.  John was on a trip around the South Island with his girls and just seemed the perfect opportunity for us to have a wee get together.  A great evening was had, before we all retired to our abodes  at a reasonable hour as Mike & Ann had an early start in the morning heading off to specialist appointments in Dunedin.

Friday 9th December

We spent the day around Oamaru, with John and the girls joining us for dinner and an evening of playing cards.  Yes, Julie & Bernice reign as Sequence champs!

Saturday 10th December

Another day at the race course, John and the girls joined us again for dinner and more cards, this time Crib was the game of choice.  Let us just say that the male member of the visiting party needs to hone up on his card playing skills!

We also heard from Mike that the news of Ann from Dunedin was not good.  We are all devastated.

Sunday 11th December

Off to Helen & Don’s for dinner tonight.  Ann back in Dunedin hospital.

Monday 12th December

A day spent around Oamaru, getting on with bits and pieces.

Tuesday 13 December

Off to Dunedin, we end up at the Wingatui Racecourse – what is it with us and Race courses?  Off to see Ann.

wingatui Wingatui parking. 

Roy’s greatgrandfather and his third wife had on many occasions in the 1880s and 1890s bid for and successfully obtained the rights to provide food and drink at this course on race days.

Wednesday 14 December

Decide to move form the race course, to the A&P showgrounds not too far away.  Much nicer surrounds.  Then off Christmas Shopping – yuck!  Back up to see Ann, news worst possible.  Deterioration over the last week has been huge. Emotions running through the gamut today. 

amp Parked at the A & P Showgrounds

horse day 3 Budding Show Jumpers having their day in the field at the Showgrounds.

The following week was spent visiting Ann, keeping an eye on Mike, Natalie & Stuart and doing what we could, which seemed to be very little and we have never felt so goddam useless.  Ann was transferred to the Otago Community Hospice where she spent her last few days.  She passed away in the early hours of Tuesday 20th December. 

Back up to Oamaru but Roy broke a tooth so we had to wait until he had visited the dentist …kaching, kaching!  Back to our usual spot at the racecourse.  The next couple of days was spent organising family and friends.  Friday 23rd December we bade a fond farewell to our dear friend, sister-in-law and pal Ann.  Ann’s brother Donald wrote and read the following very good poem at the service;


Ode to Ann

My Beautiful sister by Donald Lunjevich

Ann was born in ‘52

The second of a litter of four

And two lovely step sisters

Whose Dad was killed in the war


An older good looking brother

A younger one Frank who was fine

And then a younger sister Carol

Born when Mum was past her prime


To Herekino Primary School

At 5 she was sent

A quiet girl – well behaved

A model student


Then boarding at St Marys Catholic School

4 years she had a bed

No boys or bad behaviour

Or smoking behind the shelter shed


Old Sister May Leo

She didn’t have a show

To train a Lunjevich to sing

Is just a waste of dough


Then to Dental Nurses School

To learn all sorts of things

And earn some money so she could

Go out and spread her wings


A real nice girl and pretty too

It was no great surprise

That boys did start to hang around

Like a lot of flies


But straight up through the middle

Came a guy called Mike

Dad, Frank and I tried to get him

To take a giant hike


But Mike knew what he wanted

He wasn’t backing down

And Ann? Well she was smitten

Mike wasn’t leaving town


After a little courting

The wedding bells rang

Mike the pommie brother-in-law

Did join the Lunjevich clan


Mike, Alan, Frank and I

I don’t know if it’s the norm

All seen to have this thing

For girls in sexy nurses uniform


Mike strutted like a cockerel

Ann made a nest of hay and reed

Uh oh its springtime in the air

The pair are going to breed


First out popped little Natalie

Then a stumpy Stu

Mike said to Ann “we’ve got perfection

So we’ll stop at two”


Now Natalie is grown and beautiful

Working for the IRD

She will have to take the mantle

As the Coatham family Queen Bee


Stuart’s pretty clever

Knows the difference between a left and right hand thread

Came back from London with a pretty Aussie girl

And a shiny head


Ann was thrilled when the bassinets filled

Patchwork quilts by the load

Whoop-di-do surprise, surprise

10 fingers and 10 toes


They were getting older

And thought their time had come

To make a move – change the speed

And have a bit of fun


It took some time, a plan, a dream

To figure out what to do

We’ll shift by Mum, up the road

To Awamoa Road, Oamaru


Ann could be a tricker

Ann could be a hoot

Trick me every time she could

To make me eat beetroot!


And so just to get her back

As silly as it seems

I don’t call Renee, Renee

I call Renee, Irene!


You’re leaving Irene and Toby

That’s pretty hard to see

And even worse I’m thinking

There’s going to be number 3.


Ann you dirty rotten stop out

You know we love you so

We will never forget you

But we will let your body go.

A moments silence

December 21, 2011

With a heavy heart and much sadness, we can tell you all that our dear sister-in-law Ann died yesterday morning after a brief battle with cancer. 

Plans, they are a changing…

December 5, 2011

Saturday 3 December

Off into Temuka this morning to replenish a few essential items and also to get some info on the fishing regulations as they seem to differ slightly for each region.  On the way back to the van we went for a slight detour to visit the Milford Fishing Huts and the beach.


Back to Orari River Mouth,  the rest of the day was spent wandering the beach and trying to keep out of the heat of the day.  Summer seems to have well and truly arrived which means the purchase of some sunhats, suntan lotion and comfy outside chairs, the latter is a work in progress as not all chairs are created equal.

Sunday 4 December

sunrise 1

Yet another glorious day, we could quite happily stay here for another week however we need to go and empty the waste tanks. Our plans were to leave the river mouth, then head inland via Fairlie and Tekapo to eventually end up around Alexandra and Clyde where we left our travels a few weeks ago.  We headed off first into Temuka where there is a dump station at the Domain/camp however, there was no potable water available, well, in clear view in any case.  So instead we head for Timaru where we know there is a good waste station.  We also decide to take the opportunity of leaving the van at the waste station, unhook the RAV and head into Timaru to get the laundry done, and also to pick up a few things that we had forgotten the other day.  Things such as a summer weight duvet, as the one that I had thought I had packed seems to have disappeared. And summer has arrived!!!

Plans revised, instead of heading inland, we decide that it would be much more sensible to head down the coast as far as Palmerston and then head inland, plus it would be different route to the one we have already travelled in the van.  Out with maps and planning books, and we decide that Waimate would be a good spot to stay as the NZMCA have a parking spot there and it would also be a good opportunity to catch up with Anne & Paul. .


Off we head and soon arrive at the delightful parking spot and get ourselves organised.  First things first, hang out the washing, get dinner underway then give Paul & Anne a call to arrange a get together to play a few games of cards and generally catch up.

In Victoria Park, close by the parking area, there is a small menagerie of birds and Wallabies

peacockPeacock in full display


As well as the usual Bowling Green, Netball Courts, Tennis Courts and Children’s playground there is a very well maintained Velodrome.



Part of the joy of staying at various places is the opportunity to see interesting things and make finds of everyday items that pertain to the area and also generate an interest in “found” items.

three 2

The above photo shows three items found over the past couple of days when walking along the beach at Orari River mouth.  The beach itself is part of a very long shingle beach running from Timaru to the Rangitata River, interrupted by several smaller rivers including the Orari.  There is little detritus at the tide mark but it is still interesting to find unusual (to me) items.

The item on the left was the first found.  It is a hollow spine about 100mm long with a sharp point and a groove running the length of the concave side.   If we had porcupines in New Zealand I would have thought it a spine from one. 

The right hand item is a spinal bone from (probably) a fish.  This is obviously bone.

The middle item is again part of a skeleton but it is not the usual bone.  It is in fact cartilaginous being slightly soft without an internal structure usual in bone. 

Now things get a little interesting.  Talking to a local fisherman he told me that one of the fish caught off the beach was Elephant Fish and in passing he told of a friend that had caught one and had been stabbed through his gumboot into the bottom of his foot by the spine of the Elephant Fish.  The foot had immediately started to swell and had to have the boot cut off.  Apparently the spine contains or carries poison which is driven into the wound, causing swelling and pain.  So the first “found item” may in fact be one of these spines.

So onto the “interwebby thing” to find out about Elephant Fish, of which I had heard but only by name.  It turns out the Elephant Fish is not a fish but is a shark and like all sharks has a cartilaginous skeleton.  In fact because of this and the corollary that there are no bones makes it ideal for Fish and Chips.  

So it could be that the third cartilaginous “found item” could be part of an Elephant Fish.

On our last morning a longer walk revealed two finds.


These are the skulls of two Elephant Fish.  Again they are cartilaginous rather than bone.  So what started out as a strange spine ended with the identification of Elephant Fish and the realisation that they were in fact sharks.  Probably Callorhinchus milii

Here is a photo from the MAF website



Some of the party like to collect other things such as pretty stones…so much so, she collects them and then sticks together, adds a tiny wee shell – then they turn into something like this;


Off Again

December 3, 2011

Wednesday 30 November

Plans were made and everything was set.  We were leaving Oamaru to resume our travels, but first we were off in opposite directions.  Bernice was up and off early this morning to take her Dad to Dunedin hospital for a scheduled appointment, with Roy heading in the opposite direction in the van to the first stop of the trip.  For the next couple of days friends Helen & Don are accompanying us in their newly purchased campervan.  Plans were for us all to meet up at St Andrews Golf Course later in the day. Not THE St Andrews of course, but the one just south of Timaru.

By late afternoon we had all arrived at the Golf Course, this parking spot was a little different to other clubs we had parked in as here we were directed to park on the grass whereas other clubs usually have us park in one corner of the car park.  So here we were parked up at the front of the course surrounded by beautifully manicured grounds, large trees, and flowering rhodendrons.

St Andrews golf course

After a lovely dinner of fresh Blue Cod, we settled down to play cards for the evening, we introduced Helen & Don to the game of Sequence.  A very pleasant evening was spent.

An early morning stroll found the foreshore opposite the Golf Course.  A typical stony beach stretching for miles (kilometres) north and south.  There were a couple of fishermen out but not catching a lot.

st andrews southTo the South

north St AndrewsTo the North

Thursday 1 December

Off this morning and heading first to Timaru to get a bit of essential shopping done, particularly for Helen & Don as they needed such things as a kettle (to go on the gas hob).  Then off to the next parking spot which we had planned which was the Orari River mouth.  Bernice & Helen went ahead in the RAV with Don following along behind in their camper with Roy coming along sometime later after he had attended to a few chores in Timaru.


Suitably parked just 20 metres from the sea, with not a cloud on the skies a late lunch was quickly set up outside in the glorious sunshine. 



This is the life! We subsequently set off for a stroll along the beach and the river.

beach northAgain a stony beach that goes on forever

going for a walk 2Bernice and Helen getting their feet wet

going for a walkRoy, Don and Helen head into the distance

lagoonLagoon behind the beach with black swans and white swans as well as ducks and other waterfowl

flood gate Flood gate on the side of the river.

This floodgate is built into the side of the floodbank allowing a stream to flow into the river.  It is counterbalanced so that as the river rises to the level of the bottom of the steel plates the water pressure generated presses against the plates and closes the plates (gates).   At such time as the river level falls the floodgates will automatically open to allow water on the other side of the floodbank to flow into the river.

Don & Helen wanted to try out their BBQ, so guess what was for dinner tonight?  After the obligatory happy hour or two, we got on to cooking dinner.  

pre dinnerA slow drink before dinner

cookChef hard at work

We must add here that the van cellar was replenished from the stock we had stored with Mike & Ann, so tonight’s dinner wine was a 1999 Waiheke Obsidian  – and damn good it was too. 

Another lovely evening watching the sunset over the hills then off to bed. 


Friday 2 December

sunriseSunrise across the sea. 

A relaxing start to the day with a few chores done, and things sorted with Helen & Don’s camper.  Today there was a group of boys from one of the local High Schools out for a day of fishing in the river, surf casting and swimming in the river.  It was so nice to see them out and about enjoying the outdoors.  We headed off for another stroll along the beach, collecting ‘treasures’ along the way. 

comfortThis is the way to surf cast.  Well prepared with a shelter to break the wind and keep the sun off

Back to the vans and time for lunch but first an interlude of watching a gent trying to land a large fish on the beach.  After 1 1/2 hours the 7ft shark broke free to swim another day, but it did provide free entertainment for us all.

Mid afternoon and we bade farewell to Don & Helen, they were off to Waihi School where their son teaches and lives with his family. 

good byeOff and away …

good byeeee… into the distance

We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on things like this blog, getting accounts sorted, and invoices ready for posting,  before settling down for a quiet evening.

As a literary aside, books consumed lately include;

San Andreas by Alistair McLean, a novel that I do not remember reading years ago.   I thought that I had read all his books but must have missed this one, or forgotten it completely.  Typical adventure story of the day 

Before the beginning by Martin Rees a book about the beginning of the universe, covering both the very large Cosmic picture as well as the very small sub atomic particles.  A brief history of Astronomical advances with the last few chapters giving an insight to the latest speculation regarding pre Big Bang and the end of the Universe.

The Lighter Side of Gravity by Jayant V Nalika a book about the history of the theories and speculation regarding Gravity from Pre Newtonian Physics through Newtonian Gravity to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity to Black Holes and Time Warps including Hawking’s theories of Black Hole evaporation.

O, Oh, Oamaru

December 2, 2011

15 – 30 November

We have been back in Oamaru for two weeks, for family reasons we shall not get into here.  But whilst here we have been able to get a few minor jobs completed and ticked off the list.  The major one was getting a cabinet built and installed in the van to house the printer.  Again, Steve from Inex Interiors came up trumps and had one built in no time.  It has a couple of extra drawers in it, which makes it tall enough to double as a side table.  We also had another few minor tweaks completed with other bits and pieces so we should be reasonably set up now (fingers crossed).

Friday 25th (Bernice’s Birthday), we had a couple of fellow motorhomers in for drinkies – Marty & Carol and Amanda & Chris, plus Mike & Ann and friends Helen & Don (who came in their recently purchased camper).  We managed to seat 10 of us comfortably in our van, and a very pleasant evening was had by all.  Let us just say that Happy Hour extended over a many hours and our wine cellar got a serious hammering!

James & James made Bernice this stunning birthday cake which was just divine, and we even managed to share a little of it! 

15 cake 315 Cake15 bday cake

15 tim  …… Timmy enjoying a piece of cake after he fixed the Hydraulic Jacks!  Yes, the jacks were not really fixed after our efforts in Balclutha to get them sorted, they stopped working again.  However, Tim (Bank’s Auto Electrical) found the fault and promptly got it repaired. He deserved that piece of cake!

Whilst being parked up in Oamaru at the Racecourse, we have seen some interesting sights from the van windows including the following……

15 4 wheel ATV training for Dairy Workers

   15 Penguins  Penguins are everywhere

15 piper 3 View out of the back window of a Piper in full Highland dress playing the bagpipes as we do our thing at the waste dump!

15 piper A closer view of the Piper.

15 sunet at the races stunning sunsets

We have also had our mishaps….like a water leak into the rear locker and bedroom, one of the arms for the bed raiser coming undone, and ……………………..  But to compensate,  we have met some lovely people whilst being parked up here, many of them fellow full-timers (there are a LOT of us) as well as part timers.  

We are now back on the road again for the next few weeks before we make our way back through Oamaru to catch up with family before Christmas, then we are into Eiffelton (just out of Ashburton) to spend Christmas with Jason, Erica and the grandchildren.  This is something we are really looking forward to.