Archive for March, 2013

Another day or two in Tokomaru Bay

March 28, 2013

A one horse town?  Nope, Tokomaru Bay is at least a two horse town!  Officially there are 350 residents in the town, but after this latest census, I fear it may be less. 

horses 2horses 1

We are often asked if we eat well whilst we are on the road, or do we eat out a lot.  Well, the answer is we definitely eat well, have you not seen recent photos of us?  Nor did we get to be this shape by eating rubbish!!  And no, we do not eat out often either.  So far this week we have had for our evening meals;

  • BBQ butterflied marinated leg of lamb with harrissa couscous and ratatouille,
  • Gado gado salad,
  • Pumpkin Risotto with hazelnut herbed butter
  • Roast leg of pork with all the trimmings (including amazing crackling!),
  • Pasta with mushroom, courgette & blue cheese sauce
  • Thai Beef curry with jasmine rice
  • Snapper with avocado, orange and tomato salad (pictured below)


So, yes, we do eat well, probably too well some may say, however it is all good, fresh food and always with lots of veggies.  But sorry Don, there is not a pea in sight!!

We usually make our own sourdough bread, we have homemade muesli for breakfast, oh and freshly made hot cross buns (minus the cross!) are on the menu today.  

As it is Easter, there is of course a full moon rising up over the sea in the evenings affording us some amazingly beautiful evenings. 

 moon  Moon rising

And of course at the other end of the scale are the stunning sunrises, although some of us miss a few of these!



spume 2 spume

Spume blowing off the top of the waves in the early morning.  Almost every day we have been here there has been an offshore breeze in the mornings turning to an onshore breeze in the late afternoons. 

We had planned to move off today, however we are pretty sure that the next few days we will be without cellphone and internet, and as Roy needs to be available today for some of our clients, we will probably head off tomorrow (Good Friday) for Waipiro Bay. 

Tokomaru Bay

March 26, 2013

But first a bit of a catch up on things before we left Tolaga Bay.  Another one of our trips led us to Kaiaua Bay, actually just a short 15-20 minutes north from Tolaga Bay.  Another lovely beach with not a soul in sight with the whole of the main beach available to camp as part of the Gisborne Freedom Camping pass.  Definitely on the return list.

kaiaua kaiaua south

Kaiaua North                                  Kaiaua South

The early morning riser has also been foraging, with the latest collection being these lovely field mushrooms.

mushrooms Mushrooms

And the other half of the team has not been idle, with the arrival of cooler evenings and earlier sunsets, the knitting needles have come out.  A few baby items have been completed so far (for great nieces) with knitting for grandchildren about to commence.


Before we left Tolaga Bay, Bernice said hi to a guy wandering past.  Turns out he is a writer finishing off a book on the Sparrowhawk Unit of WWII, based in Timor, of which his grandfather was a member.  Whilst chatting with him, a local on horseback joined in and ended up giving us good advice on where to get crayfish without getting too wet, and mussels.  We finally got away around midday!

world discussionThe people we meet

Off to Tokomaru Bay, just a short drive (around half an hour), arriving  in drizzly rain.  We found a dump station so made use of that before unhooking the RAV4 and heading off for a quick recce to find a good spot to park.  In Tokomaru Bay there are two main areas to Freedom Camp, at the North end of the Bay and the South End.  We found a stunning spot at the south end and headed off to settle in.  By now, the rain had stopped and the sun was emerging.

close to the beachsouth

Can’t get much closer to the beach than this!


Looking north from our spot           Surfs up

And just to show we do go out at night, here is the moon rising over the ocean right in front of the van


Tokomaru was originally known as Toka-a-Namu, which refers to the abundance of sandflies, not that we have experienced any. Over the years the name was altered to Tokomaru Bay.  Waima, as the north end of the 7km long bay is known, is where the wharf and remains of various building are situated.

The building of the Tokomaru Bay Freezing Works had a great influence on the district. In 1909 a group of local farmers raised 39,000 pounds to build a works which opened in 1911. The buildings were made of bricks, many made at the brickworks at the top of Busby’s Hill. In the early 1950s the freezing works closed.

old works 1 old works 2

 old works 3 old works 4

old works 5 old

The above photos are of the remnants of the freezing works with the one on the lower right being the headquarters.

east coast

This piece of graffiti reads East Coast and is emblazoned on the old freezing works.

The Tokomaru Bay Harbour Board was established in 1911 and it took over the existing Waima wharf and sheds. The busiest years were those between 1913 and 1916 when 400 vessels were handled annually. A new wharf and approach was built in 1940.  Today, it has fallen into disrepair, however there are moves afoot to repair it as they have done to the Tolaga Bay wharf

wharf 1wharf 2

At the very end there is a smaller section which is at an angle to the main wharf.  There there are nets lowered from the wharf which are set to catch bait.  They are community property so that if the locals need bait fish they can check the nets and take what they require (if there is any!).

concrete spalling

Note the condition of the piles of the wharf.  This is the same problem that affected the Tolaga Bay wharf.  It is called concrete spalling.  I found a very good description of it as below.

New concrete is naturally very alkaline.  This high alkalinity actually acts to protect reinforcing steel from corrosion. The effect of weathering of bare concrete is that concrete slowly has its alkaline materials washed out of it.  In areas of acid rain in highly industrialised countries the process will be accelerated.  As this happens the steel will begin to corrode. When steel rusts it takes up to 3 times the volume the unrusted steel did.  This is difficult when the steel is embedded in concrete but as the steel rusts it eventually forces the concrete to crack, exposing new reinforcing steel and fresh concrete to the weather.  The process repeats itself with the situation continually worsening, hence the nickname concrete cancer.  (Thanks for the explanation Resene Paints)

In the new casings of the Tolaga Bay wharf the reinforcing rods are stainless steel.

Tolaga Bay aka Uawa

March 23, 2013

How did Tolaga Bay get its name? it certainly isn’t a Maori name as there is no ‘L’ used in Maori language, so we set about asking the locals how the name came about.  However, it wasn’t until we called in to Tolaga Bay Cashmere that we found someone who had some idea about its name.  She tells us that Captain Cook had a Tahitian on board with him and on hearing the name that the local Maori were using for the bay, mishearing and mistranslation led it to be named Tolaga Bay.  On further investigation, we discovered similar explanations, all with slight variations, so we assume that the made up name stuck. Uawa is the local name for the area.  

The Gisborne Council has a freedom camping scheme which runs from October through to early April whereby you can buy a freedom camping pass which allows you to park up along some stunning pieces of real estate, usually beach front, all along the East Cape.  We are now parked up in Tolaga Bay, on the beach front reserve, and very comfortable it is too. 

cosy cornerComfortably parked.

The beach is long and sandy, but peppered with mountains of driftwood.

north endsouth end

Looking North                                  Looking South

At the southern end of the beach is the Tolaga Bay wharf, it is the longest wharf in NZ at 660metres in length.  Since the early 1960’s when commercial use of the wharf ceased, the wharf fell  into serious disrepair. In the late 1990’s, advice of “experts” was sought where it was determined that it was beyond repair, however, this did not deter local people and they set about to fundraise to keep their iconic wharf.  Over $5.5 million dollars later, the wharf is nearing completion of it’s upgrade, all the more impressive as Tolaga Bay has a population of only 800+ residents. 

wharf 9 entrance

start of the wharf                           entrance way

wharf fixInterpretive board showing how the piles were encased in a round form which covered them from the underneath of the roadway to below low tide.  This was because of the destruction of the existing concrete and reinforcing by rust and consequent concrete splitting.  The damage was removed, stainless steel reinforcing added within the new round form and new concrete encasing the whole pile.

wharf 8wharf 7

from the start                             and near the end, blocked off

wharf 5end of the wharf, under repair showing the scaffold that was used attached to each side of the wharf to give workers access to the structure under the roadway.

You can see along the roadway of the wharf the remnants of fresh concrete which was poured around the existing piles to strengthen them.  New and repaired concrete handrails have also been constructed.

wharf 2wharf 6

repiling evidence                            new handrail

wharfnew and old handrails

hole in the rock hole 

Hole in the rock off Tolaga Bay      Cave in the cliffs

We have taken the opportunity to go exploring whilst safely parked.  First we headed just a bit south of here to Waihau Bay (Loisel’s Beach) to see lf we should have perhaps made the call to stay here.  The vertigo suffering member of the party was very relieved to arrive at the beach safely and was very pleased we had decided not to drive the van down this very narrow, twisty and precipice edged road!  However, the beach was very pretty.

waihau 2Waihau Beach

Looking south                             looking north

We also took a quick drive up to Anaura Bay as we had been told that there was a DOC camp there.  We did indeed find a beautiful beach, complete with DOC camp at the north end of the beach and a commercial campground at the south end of the beach.  However, the photographer forgot to take any pictures so you will have to take our word that the beach was rather stunning.

Over the past week the weather has taken a dramatic change,  last Monday we were having trouble sleeping as it was so hot (down to 25C in the wee small hours), but by Tuesday, it was into full autumnal mode with overnight temperatures dropping to around 12C, a bit of a shock to the system and we are now hurriedly looking to find warmer clothing!  I guess that is the end of what has been a stunning summer, and we look forward to mild but clear autumn days.


March 21, 2013

We headed out of Gisborne after attending to all our chores and drove the huge distance to Pouawa, actually just 19km north of Gisborne.  Yes, we know, we travel far in a day!

photo(1) photo 

After much angst on where to park – he said, then she said, then…well, you get the picture.  Eventually we settled for this spot.  And this was the view from the van door, first looking north, second looking directly east. 

 sunshade and just along from us, someone had built this lovely sunshade.  At the north end of the beach is a DOC administered Marine Reserve where we looked back and could see us parked among the dunes.

from northfrom north 2

can you see us?                           zoomed in, that’s us!

parkedand here we are all settled in

One of the most noticeable features of driving North from Gisborne is the number and size of logging trucks coming South fully laden.

logging 2logging truck

Empty going North and full coming South.


And one behind the other.

I guess we will find the source of all these logs at some stage in our trip.  But it is certainly a reminder of earlier life in Tokoroa, although NZFP made much more use of company roads and certainly had shorter hauls in the main.

For the first time since being this far East woke at the right time to see a spectacular light show through cloud (which we have seen very little of lately).

early 3early 2

First a photo of the sun finally shining through the cloud horizon with a close up of the lower part

early 4early 5

Then as the cloud broke up it led to a very good display of rays at the base.

On having a look at the Northern end of the beach at the Marine Reserve found a number of live turban shells the largest of them being 100mm across.  These were in very shallow drains between the rocks and quite exposed at low tide.


After 3 nights at Pouawa with no phone or internet, we decided to head on northwards.  Next stop? Probably not too far away knowing us.


March 20, 2013

Something forgotten from some days ago was a very interesting meeting with a man in Manganuku.  On the morning after we arrived, we heard a vehicle pull up in the parking area where we were.  A man got out of a ute and proceeded to set up some device (he had is back to us so we could not see what it was).  And then he stood and watched the sky.  What we had not seen was the device he placed on the ground in front of him.  It was a flying platform. 

When we had figured this out Roy went over to have a closer look and to have a conversation with him about the device.  It turned out to be an H shaped frame with the long axis as the cross part of the H.  At each of the four ends was a vertically mounted propeller as in a helicopter.  On the front was mounted a camera, the same type as used by some sports such as skiing, skydiving etc, as head cameras.  The whole thing was controlled from a similar controller as that used for a model plane/helicopter. 

He was taking a video of the old bridge shown in photos in a past Blog.

To see the specific device being operated have a look at this link Ariel H frame.

The Maori name for the Gisborne region is Tairawhiti which means the coast where the sun shines across the water, and as we discovered it is very apt.  The weather has been unbelievably hot, with clear skies every day although we are promised some rain over the next few days.

 sunrise over gisborneSunrise over Gisborne

Gisborne was the first landing place of Captain James Cook in 1769 with various statues commemorating this event dotted around the city. 

young nickcaptain cook

Young Nick spotting land            Captain Cook

 boat 2 

Stylised boat (Endeavour?) a dynamic sculpture where each of the wands moves in the wind

A Millennium wall has been built on the foreshore of Midway Beach  along Centennial Marine Drive.  As well as a dawn photo it records many citizens names both alive and dead.

millenium wall2millenium wall

Sunday afternoon and we took a ride out to Eastwoodland National Arboretum of New Zealand. This was started by another Mr Cook, in 1910 and is 35km inland from Gisborne, covers some ??????ha, has over 5000 trees and 25kms of walking tracks.  It was sold in 1965 to a Mr Williams who then began the process of establishing a public trust board.  Douglas Cook was also instrumental in the establishment of Pukeiti Gardens in New Plymouth. At Eastwoodland there is a huge variety of exotic and native trees, from America oaks, to Asiatic magnolias to prehistoric trees of Gondwanaland.   

We set off to wander one of the many tracks,  unfortunately we were just a few weeks too early to see the trees in their best autumnal colours.  However we did find a lemon tree sporting the largest lemons we have ever seen, just a little too large for a gin.

lemon  colour 

Lemon                                            Changing colours   

Autumn flowers;

flower 1 flower 2

Cyclamen                                       Crocus


Turkeys running wild

flower 3 lillies

Magnolia                                          Belladonna Lillies

pondwater lillies 

Pond                                             Water lillies

oaks Oaks around the carpark

These Oaks provided a little consternation on arrival.  We parked beneath them and as we got out of the car a wind gust came through.  We were bombarded with acorns from on high and the sound of them hitting the car roof was quite unnerving.  So we moved the car to another part of the car park much to the amusement of another couple who had just experienced the same thing some moments before and were watching expectantly as we parked.

Sunday evening and we had been invited out to dinner to Judy’s place, an old school friend of Roy’s sister Karel.  We had a lovely evening with Judy and her daughter and family, it was so nice to be so warmly greeted, especially as it was nearly 50 years since Judy and Roy had last seen each other! 

Out and about, we came across these………………

pond 2pond 3  

A pond in a paddock which had completely dried up but had not lost the green algae that would normally be floating on the top 

grapes 2grapes

Grapevines wearing skirts of netting to protect the grapes from birds


And teasels, a subject of discussion with Mike and Bernadette some years ago.  Here is a photo of them just for you.


Ducks walking in the tidal mud of the river running through Gisborne

statue 2

“Read me a story granddad” the name of this statue in a street in the city centre.   An example of the increasing number of street art objects seen in New Zealand towns and cities.

gisborne harbour

A Chinese cold storage ship at the front and a Korean vessel behind in Gisborne harbour.

air roots pohutukawa  

One of the more impressive Pohutukawa aerial root systems seen in our travels.

Monday and its time to head off from Gisborne, but first empty the waste tanks, fill up with fresh water, get a COF (Certificate of Fitness) for the van, fill up with fuel and purchase last minute supplies.  Oh and did we mention that the temperature has been getting well in the 30’s during the day and only dropping to early 20’s overnight? making it difficult to sleep at night.   

A trip down memory lane…

March 16, 2013

Every Labour weekend from around 1977 through to 1983, we used to take a road trip from Tokoroa to Gisborne ostensibly to visit Matawhero Vineyard when it was Denis Irwin’s baby.  We undertook this trip with friends Kevin & Faye, over the years a few others tagged along as well.   This is where some of our vintage wine supplies originated!  We travelled through the Waioeka Gorge, one year we had an eventful trip on the return journey when we bottomed out Roy’s company car (a Datsun Bluebird) and put a hole in the petrol tank.  We were marooned in the gorge  for some time, this being well before mobile phones, whilst we sat on the side of the road, we decided to lighten the load in the boot by drinking some of the contents.  We had to stay in Opotiki for an extra day or two whilst we had the car repaired, but that was OK as Kevin’s boss was very understanding…..that’s because his boss was Roy!

But back to the present, before we left Manganuku, these beehives were spotted, obviously very busy bees.

bees 3

bees 1 bees 2 

And some better photos of the gabion picnic table, seats and interpretative board stands.  Even the rubbish bin was of the same ilk.

gabion 1gabion

John tells us that his friend Ken built all of these through the Gorge, and a damn fine job done too.

At this DOC camp site, there are fireplaces dotted all around the perimeter of the camp complete with these racks for hanging your cooking pots or billy’s. We are sure there is a proper name for this device but we cannot think of it, we are sure someone will tell us!


Next stop is at Matawai, this used to be our scheduled first stop from Tokoroa in time for 11 o’clock opening.  We had a routine on our trips, we had to stop at every pub between Matawai and Matawhero and have a drink in the public bar.  We hasten to add that this was before drink driving became a no-no.  However, this time, the pub was closed but we did stop for a photo opportunity.   

Matawai 1Matawai pub

Our next stop was always the Waerenga-a Hika pub, its now called the Bushmere Arms, its amazing how our memories play tricks with us as we drove past it twice before we went in and asked if this was the right place.   It should be remembered that the original pub also sold a T shirt with “Where the hell’s the Hika?”  the back said “Gisborne, but who the hell cares”  Well we do and we even found it again!!

 hika 2Waerenga-a Hika pub

Another stop, and sometimes our accommodation for our weekends away, was the Jolly Stockman not too far from Matawhero, this pub has not changed much at all.

Jolly StockmanJolly Stockman

By now we had arrived in Gisborne, the most easterly city in the world hence its fame as first city in the world to see the day.  We headed to the Cosmopolitan club to park up here for a few days.  Just as well we came to park when we did as within half an hour of arriving, the carpark filled to overflowing.  We are not sure what the influx was in aid of but after a couple of hours, they all disappeared.

ship 1ship

Entrance to Gisborne with this statue of James Cook’s Endeavour

Saturday morning and the early riser was up and off to the early market.

dawn early market

Dawn from the Club                          Early market

He returned to the van to pick up Bernice for the main Farmers market. We trundled off to check out the offerings. 

Farmers market 1Farmers market 2 

Market                                         complete with fashion parade

We came away with bread, the best Hot Cross Buns we have had in years, avocados, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, figs, coriander, oranges, eggs, cheese, melon, cucumber and more.  A fantastic market and great prices too.

From there we took a ride out to Kaiti Beach which afforded us great views down to Young Nicks Head and the bay.  We even came across a pile of kina (sea urchin) remains so there is obviously plenty of sea food not too far from shore.  Kaiti Beach is where, in 1769, Captain Cook made his first New Zealand landfall.  kaiti beachKina 

Kaiti Beach                                    Kina remains

Up the top of Kaiti Hill which afforded us fantastic views over to Young Nicks Head.  Young Nicks Head is named for the cabin boy aboard Cook’s ship the Endeavour who first saw land.old nick 1old nicks head

Across to Young Nicks Head          Closer view of the white cliffs

toward MatawheroLooking toward south Gisborne

It was now time for us to head to Matawhero Vineyards to see what has changed since our last visit 30 years ago.

matawhero 3Matawhero 4

Sign                                              And yes, a lot has changed!!

Matawhero 1    But some things stay the same, trying a few samples along with some delicious cheeses.  Oh, and we haven’t changed a bit either!


WARNING!  those of you who are squeamish, look away now.

We have never mentioned one of New Zealand’s icons.  They are possums, introduced from Australia and now a pest busily destroying New Zealand’s forests and native animals.  It is also accused of being a carrier of Tuberculosis.

So the only good possum is a dead one.  And nowhere are they seen more often than in roads surrounded by bush.  These prime specimens were found on the road at the parking area. 

possum 1 possum 2

possum 3possum 4

They come in all sorts of condition and lie around for a considerable time.

Away again, but first…..

March 15, 2013

You know how it is, you plan to get going but then something comes along so you have to adjust those plans.  First we needed to wait for two lots of mail to arrive, one lot from Oamaru with some papers we were needing, the other a parcel from Auckland containing some wool so Bernice could finish off her knitting!  

We managed to fill in each day nicely, with plenty to keep us occupied.  Next to Johns place they are growing maize and now it seems is the time to cut it.  This lot being cut as maize silage for cattle food.  What with drought being declared in most parts of the country, the feed will be most welcome to many farmers we are sure.

maize silage 3maize silage 2

The maize being cut chopped and then blown into trucks.  Up to ten rows of maize at a time.

maize silage 4

The whole operation is continuous with trucks following in behind the other to be loaded and despatched to the silage pit on a farm.

Over our time in Whakatane, Chum the dog, has made himself friends with us, spending most of his day under the van in the shade, secreting his ‘treasures’ that he flogs from somewhere around the farm, things like; lemons, rocks, sticks, rope, hose, pens, and other special pieces.  One day he brought the cat  along with him and they played quite happily together, even to the extent of cuddling up together!

friends 2 friends    

We have even managed to clean out some of the lockers in the van, rearranging them all and jettisoning excess flotsam.  We did find a box of what we thought were books, but on inspection found it to be another box of vintage wines (we use the term vintage very loosely!).  It seemed only appropriate to open a few and try them, they included; 1975 Corbans Velutto Rosso, 1988 Nobilos Sauvignon Blanc, 1988 Nobilos Muller Thurgau and a 1982 Houghton White Burgundy.  Let us just say that I had intended to take a picture of Roy as he took a sip of each one but I was laughing so much I missed the moment!

bestthree of the best

Bottles lined up                            

corkedWell and truly corked!  No wonder the Veluto Rosso was a little past its best

Wednesday 13th March and our 31st Wedding Anniversary, so we popped into Whakatane for a celebratory lunch.  We found a French Deli which, on further investigation, is owned and run by a French couple from Nimes.  We had a lovely chat with them, recounting the wonderful time we had in and around Nimes,  before sitting down for lunch.  And what memories came flooding back, Roy had a platter which was reminiscent of the lunch we had nearly every day whilst in France – Baguette, cheeses, pickles, cold meats, garlic butter.  Bernice had a salad of goats cheese on crisp sliced baguette with walnuts, honey and salad greens.  It was very similar to a memorable lunch I had with Rocomadour goats cheese and fois gras at the Tip Top bistro in Fourac.  Delicious.  That evening we headed out to Pete & Hayley, friends of John, for a BBQ to celebrate the end of the silage cutting and storage.  A lovely evening spent with a large group of people.

Thursday 14th March and we finally head off from Whakatane, I am sure that John and Jenny will be pleased to get into their own routines and see the back of bossy Aunty Bernice!!!

We headed off through Ohope to Opotiki where we filled up with fuel. We came across a great dump station on the way, along from a stock effluent disposal point, so within a few kms  had filled up with water at Johns,  emptied the tanks of waste and refuelled.  Off through  the Waioeka Gorge and it has been a long time since we have been through this route, close to 28 years we reckon. 

Waioeka start The start of the Gorge

And what a pleasant surprise it has been, it is a nice drive through with lots and lots of excellent stopping places, and even more Stopping Bays which means we could happily tootle along knowing that there were lots of places to let traffic past.  The stopping places are all beautifully laid out with gabions making up seat stands, table legs and pillars for shelters as well as interpretative board stands.

We decided to stop at a DOC camp site at Manganuku, part way through the gorge.  Here is a lovely large parking area alongside the river with a historic bridge ruin behind us. 

Matanuku 1manganuku 4

Parked up (NB. gabion table etc)     Set up for the night

manganuku 5and another view


The old bridge was built in 1929 and was part of the highway to Gisborne.  It was finally replaced in 1965 when the road was realigned.

manganuku 3Matanuku 2 

Normally one is warned not to walk  across a dangerous bridge which in fact you are, but the notice not to go under the bridge is a new one on me.   

There is also a plaque celebrating the bridge’s design and designer!

 manganuku 1     

Oh, and before we left Whakatane, here is Roy wearing his new glasses, with replacement rod and reel and THE $3 hat he managed to rescue!



March 10, 2013

We have been here in Whakatane for over a week now. We took the opportunity to stay put for a while, as Roy has to wait for his new spectacles to be made and at the same time John was planning to go away for a week to a fishing tournament in Whitianga so we could housesit, dog sit and teenage daughter mind!
Staying put for a week or so meant that we could catch up on a few things such as annual accounts, cleaning, tidying, get a haircut, generally relax and take stock. Although it has to be noted that the same things always seem to be on the end of the list at the end of most days. I think they call that procrastination.
The duties of the past week have hardly been onerous, the housesitting not too difficult. The dog, Chum, has taken to lying under the van in the shade most days, occasionally bringing us “treasures” and we now have a nice collection of strange odds and ends. The teenage daughter, Jenny, has been a pleasure to feed/water/walk, as she so eloquently stated! Which has meant that the week has flown by without a hitch.
Next on the agenda for the Vannini’s is to leave our comfortable spot here at John’s and head off through the Waioeka Gorge to Gisborne and wend our weary way around East Cape to eventually arrive back in Whakatane around the weekend of the 20th April for a family get together. We are really looking forward to this trip as it is many years since we have been through that neck of the woods. First, we must await the arrival of Roy’s new specs so he can see to drive!!!!

Being counted

March 5, 2013

Yesterday was census day, and from the perspective of a “No Fixed Aboder” it has been a long, complex and ridiculously frustrating process. I have emailed, and telephoned the 0800 number on numerous occasions to try and obtain an access code to fill in the form online with very little success.
First of all I was told that I should go and stay at a motorcamp for the night so that they could ensure that I would get a form! really? So you are going to pay the fuel costs, the camp fees etc etc for me to go to a camp ground? Um, no.
Next, I was told I should park a public place so that an enumerator would be able to find me on the night!
Then finally, when I insisted that they give me an Internet access code, I was told I needed to supply a physical address to get one. OK then, I am parked on the side of some road somewhere. No, I need an actual address where your mail gets sent to. Well what if I only have a PO Box number? No, that is NOT acceptable. OK, then what about the Post Office where I last got mail forwarded to? No, an actual address thanx. Reluctantly we gave Mikes address…where we have mail sent to, just to get access to a code BUT when we have filled in the forms, our address is 1 No Fixed Address, No Fixed Address Town in No Fixed Address region!
We have still not been found by an enumerator as they insisted that we would be, so unless we had not been so dogged about chasing up a form/number then we definitely would not have counted.
We are not alone with this problem, we know of many other motorhomers in the same position, and as for the dwelling form… makes no account for not living in a traditional house.

When life throws you the curve ball

March 2, 2013

You know how sometimes in life when things are ticking along nicely and all is well, all of a sudden you get thrown the curve ball? Well, this happened with us over the past few weeks. In the last post we alluded to the fact that we had been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The highs have been with Alex back in NZ and staying with us, and catching up with her friends and just generally doing lots together and having family time. The lows have come in the same days over the past few weeks as Roy has had a medical hiccup.

It started a couple of weeks ago with a visit to the Dr (back to our GP we had when we lived in Auckland) as Roy had had an episode of blood in his urine, Linda (Dr) organised an ultrasound scan for Monday 11th February, which he duly went off and had done. That evening Linda rang to say she had had the results and could we both come in tomorrow to discuss them! Well, you can imagine our thoughts….so Tuesday off to see her, with her giving us the devastating news that they had found some cysts on both kidneys but they had also found an anomalous growth in the left kidney. When questioned, yes, it was likely to be a cancerous growth.

(Oh and this was the evening of our dinner at the French Cafe!)

She had already tentatively booked Roy in for a CT scan for the following morning to get a better view and idea of exactly what it was we were dealing with. As we had made other plans for the week, we also agreed that she would let us know the next steps over the telephone. We had organised to go down to Whakatane to John’s to do some fishing, as Alex was really keen. We headed off around midday Wednesday after the CT scan and it ended up a great couple of days away particularly as Antony came down with us.

Thursday and Bernice, Antony and Alex headed out with John for a days fishing, Roy stayed behind and it was not long before Linda rang with the much better news that the CT scan showed that the growth was likely to be benign. Phew! HOWEVER, a specialist urologist/oncologist appointment was made for the following Tuesday 19th February.

Meanwhile, we collectively sighed a measured sigh of relief, particularly as Alex was flying back to London on Saturday night but at least this was better news and we all felt a lot better.

Tuesday 20th February we had the Specialist appointment, he concurred that it was small, likely to be benign, and best left alone and monitored at this stage, with another CT scan scheduled for 6 months time. We asked about biopsying the growth but as he explained, the likelihood of them actually hitting the right spot within the growth to find any cancerous cells was very small, and as initially it is very slow growing, sometimes not disturbing things is the best practise.

However, we were not quite off the hook as yet as this did not explain the blood in the urine, as he said it could well be bladder cancer… Roy had a few more tests done, including a scope down the urethra to look inside the bladder (I call this women’s revenge!!!), and a prostate check. It turns out that his prostate has started to grow again, he had surgery on it 8 years ago, and the new growth including tiny new blood vessels, rub against the bladder and sometimes the tiny blood vessels burst, hence the blood in the urine. The prostate is not a problem at this stage, it is just the expected regrowth after the last surgery. So, the next step is to carry on life as usual, and in 6 months time he will have another CT scan to check any progress.

We came away really happy (we have briefly summarized what was said and what has happened), as we asked all the hard questions and had them fully answered. Including things such as “is this likely to be a secondary for something else?” The answer is highly unlikely. Now that Roy has had a full check over, we are happy with all the answers and results.

All we can say is, thank goodness our Dr is really onto things and that we are back around Auckland where we can get ready access to Specialists and seen fairly quickly……………….oh and thank goodness for medical insurance!

As our Dr and Specialists have said to us, we are living the dream…..we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are DOING what others aspire to do!