Archive for June, 2013

A week of it

June 23, 2013

After all the excitement of last weekend, this week has been understandably quiet. Although everyday has been very busy and with very little time to spare. After the initial few days, Roy has not needed any pain relief which has been great. We have had a few days of having to back the car around beside the van, to place Roy into the passenger seat and drive him round to the main buildings (through two sets of locked gates) for shower and toilet but now he is managing to wander off down to the toilets near the van. I should mention here that he is unable to use the loo in the van as the distance between the loo and the cupboards is not sufficient to keep his leg extended with his leg in the brace. The shower in the van also has a step up into it which makes life a little difficult for Roy to get in and out of comfortably so it is much easier to head off to the disabled showers in the Park ablution block.

All of this takes a reasonable chunk of time out of each day, throw into the mix; the visits to the Dr, visit Jacky to use her laundry, shopping, and numerous other tasks it seemed for a while there that we were constantly out and about. Roy had an afternoon/early evening out and about catching up with some old mates which he thoroughly enjoyed.

We have been reasonably lucky with the weather as well, whilst the rest of the country appears to have been hammered by wind, rain, snow and everything in between, we have been happily avoiding puddles and hoping for a bit of sun each day to top up the solar. If the sun does not oblige then we can turn on the generator to boost the battery banks. At the same time we have run a power lead to provide some power to Pat & Sue to boost their batteries as well.

We have been out and about around the region looking at prospective parking places, and seeing what facilities are available, however we have decided that we are best where we are at Ambury where the understanding Rangers have allowed us to stay on as long as is necessary. However, we did need to head off to empty the tanks at some point, so on Friday, Pat very kindly offered to drive the van to the nearest dump station which happens to be at a petrol station so we could get some fuel as well. Although I have my class 2 drivers license, I do not feel comfortable driving the van through Auckland traffic especially as I am unaccustomed to driving a large vehicle (Note to self, get in some practice!).

In between, I tried my hand at making some dumplings….

20130623-171518.jpgdamn delicious they were too and plenty to put in the freezer.

Saturday and we joined Pat & Sue for a trip to the Otara markets, with another market visit on Sunday but this time to the excellent Clevedon Farmers market where we came away with bags of goodies including some lovely bread, buffalo mozarella, free range eggs, sausages, honey, and heirloom tomatoes. Steve and Leslie along with their three grandchildren came to is it as did Jacky & Chris.

This week is looking to be another busy one with Tuesday being the day Roy sees the orthopedic surgeon at Middlemore hospital, once we know what will happen next we can then plan the following few weeks.

What some people do to get sympathy

June 15, 2013

It was all going oh so well. We spent Friday out and about including checking out sites where we would spend the weekend away from Ambury Park and found a good place out at Papakura. Friday evening we were expecting some friends to come and visit, we have not seen Pete & Ann for around 16 years so we were looking forward to their company. They duly arrived at around 7.30pm and we greeted them warmly before making our way into the van for a pleasant evening of reminiscing. This is where it all started to unravel slightly. Roy went to sit down and in the turning, twisting, seating movement, with a loud popping noise he suddenly leapt and yelled “my knee”.

We settled him into his seat where he was reasonably comfortable whilst he reassured us he was fine and it would all be ok. We spent the next few hours chatting and catching up. Pete & Ann left, this is when Roy tried to stand to say his farewells, oh no, that was not possible. Once our guests had gone we decided that it would be best if he got his knee checked out, so with a monumental effort he was in the car and off to Middlemore Hospital A&E.

Of course it was not a simple task of driving to the hospital, first we have to leave Ambury, with three locked gates to negotiate which of course required the driver (Bernice) to drive to the gate, get out, unlock the gate whilst holding a torch between her teeth to enable her to crack the combination, open the gate, back into the car drive through the gate, stop, get out, close the gate, back into the car and then repeating the process to lock the gate and then onto the next gate…you get the picture.

We arrive at Middlemore at around 11pm, got a wheelchair sorted and made our way inside. Of course this was Friday night, late, and although only a few people in the waiting room, it took us some time to realise that there were at least one other entrance and the queue of people to be seen was rather large to say the least (we heard it was 117 people waiting and that was before midnight!). He did get assessed by a nurse in reasonable time, and X-rays were done at around 2am but it was around 5.30 am before a Dr made his way to see us apologizing profusely for the hold up. Apparently a very busy night.

20130615-211503.jpgLying down on the job

The result of all the drama is that Roy had ruptured his Cruciate Ligament. He is now in what they call a zimmer cast for at least a month with follow up to be done later this week once swelling has reduced. Bernice returned to the van at around 6am for a couple of hrs sleep as by that stage they were transferring Roy to another department and he would not be assessed until later that morning. At 11am Bernice picked him up with crutches and cast in place and we made our way to a pharmacy to get his script filled for pain relief. Bernice went into the pharmacy to pick up his script where the helpful pharmacist went through all the medication explaining when to take what and why. Serious pain medication we are talking about here I.e. morphine with tramadol and panadol to be taken between morphine doses!!!…oops, it was at this stage that Bernice asked the pharmacist if the two harden-the-****-up-pills she told Roy to take earlier in the piece were perhaps a little harsh!!!! Yes, it was definitely a bit over the top.

20130615-211555.jpgHmmm, not sure about this.

The result of all this is of course that we are not moving from Ambury, we are here for at least another week when plan B, yet to be formulated, will be put into effect.

In and around the big smoke

June 13, 2013

Saturday night was spent watching the rugby with Jacky & Chris, just along from Eden Park. A terrible game from a spectators point of view but at least the result was positive on the All Blacks side, which is all that matters.

Steve & Leslie came to visit on Sunday with their grandsons, our great nephews, and after a night of rain there were plenty of large puddles for boys to do what only boys do best. The pictures tell the story.

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Monday we headed over to Papakura to have dinner with Antony where we spent a lovely evening playing cards and dinner…shame about the choice of meat though Neil!

Tuesday was spent catching up with chores such as washing, thanx Jacky for the use of your machine. We also indulged in some delicious dumplings from Barilla in Dominion Road and their delicious beans. And just to tease Alex and Antony, although it has to be said that they were not quite as good as when we all shared them in February, which we put down to the company that was lacking this time around?

Wednesday was back to Jacky’s for lunch with some friends of her sister. Nice to catch up after many years and a delicious lunch as well of course. Then it was back to Ambury where we happen to meet up with one of the Park Rangers, whom we thought we recognized. It turns out it was indeed Locky Carmichael, a wonderful teacher that Antony was fortunate enough to have had for two years whilst at Parnell Primary. Unfortunately the teaching profession lost this amazing teacher for the usual reasons; less time spent teaching, more time spent form filling. However, schools loss is the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) gain. Locky now teaches at the education centres around the ARC parks where he can indulge in his passion for nature and the outdoors. It was great to catch up with him after over 20 years, and even more remarkable that he well remembers us, as we do him.

This week is lining up to be an epic one of socializing as we were out again tonight, Thursday, to Steve & Les’ for dinner, then Friday night we have a group of “old” friends from working days, or should that be daze?, coming to visit. Sunday another dinner with another group of friends from Roy’s school days and Antony & Neil are coming for dinner on Monday. In between we have to leave Ambury as the rule for staying is a 7 days maximum stay, then you must leave for 2 days before you can return. So Saturday we will wander off for a couple of nights before heading back to Ambury again. Oh, and Pat & Sue will be joining us again from Saturday.

Of course the hands have not been idle either and some new hats are on the way to the grandchildren;

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We are also getting to know the locals, including this blackbird who seems to ave got a bit close to a bottle of bleach

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Putaruru & North

June 9, 2013

Tuesday 4th June

Time for us all to leave Matata and the great weather we have been enjoying in the sunny Bay of Plenty.  Pat & Sue were off to drop off their van in Tauranga before heading off further down country, and we were not too far behind them however we were heading in the direction of Rotorua.   A quick stop along the way between Paengaroa and Rotorua for a quick cuppa before heading into Rotorua to empty the waste tanks and refuel with petrol and LPG.  Then it was off over the Mamaku’s to Putaruru.  By this time the rain had become steadier so instead of parking on the grass outside Sue & Jeff’s we instead headed to the  Club to park on the hard surface.

putaruru 2Putaruru Club (& sunshine)

We spent three nights in Putaruru catching up with friends and family.  Sue & Jeff made us very welcome and we even managed to get a bit of washing done and dried out the the sun which decided to poke its head out after all the rain.  We made a trip or two to Over the Moon cheese factory and liberated a few of their delicious cheeses including an impressive Tomme as well as a wonderful Brie with black truffle.  

We headed out to Arapuni a couple of times to see Roy’s cousin Robert and discovered a fantastic cafe called Rhubarb.  Fantastic atmosphere, wonderful coffee and great food and very friendly staff.  What is really great is to see is it busy with both locals and tourists especially as it is not exactly located in a prime location. However in saying that, Arapuni is on the main tourist road between Rotorua and Waitomo and also on the popular cycle route of Waikato River Trails from Cambridge through to Atiamuri.

In and around Putaruru we came across a number of murals decorating buildings;

mural 2mural 1  mural 3 mural 4

And can you guess what this building was for?pigeon club yep, the Pigeon Club.

There were also a number of mosaic plaques on the footpaths around the town

plaque 1 plaque 2 plaque 3 plaque 4

Each of these is themed for the particular business they are laid in front of.  In total there are some 37 throughout the main shopping area.

Friday 7th June

Off today after first a quick trip to Arapuni to see Robert before we headed off out of town supposedly heading for Auckland, however, a change of plans along the way and we ended up at the Huntly Golf Club.  This enabled Roy to go and visit his Aunty Win at the Rest Home in Huntly, besides, we are not on a schedule are we?  The golf course took us over the other side of the Waikato river from the main road and onto another stretch of road we have not previously meandered along.   After missing the entrance to the Golf Course (note: GPS coordinates were wrong in our book), we had to unhitch the RAV and turn around  further along the road before settling in for the evening.

 golf clubHuntly Golf Course

Saturday 8th June

Off to Auckland today, first re crossing the Waikato River at the Rangiriri Bridge

 Waikato RangiririBridge crossing

It was not long before we hit the motorway and back into Auckland.  First a quick stop at the dump station in Manukau to empty the tanks and top up with water before heading off to Ambury Park.  However,  whilst driving along the section of motorway between Manuaku and the turn off to Ambury, we noticed a car overtake with the occupants waving wildly at us.  Initial thoughts were that perhaps something was wrong with the van or the tow.  It only took a second for us to realise that it was Jacky & Chris!  There goes the surprise we had planned for later in the day when we turned up unannounced on their doorstep! They followed us into the park where we had a quick catch up before making plans to watch the rugby with them later in the day.

We are now in Auckland for however long, before we head off northwards.

Friends

June 6, 2013

Our thoughts today are with our friends Jude & Shaun as they fly to their daughter Lesley’s bedside in Tahiti where she lays critically ill. All our love.

Decisions decisions

June 3, 2013

Sometimes we have to make some tough decisions, and its no different for those of us living this roving lifestyle.  However, our decisions are made up of such things as; will we stay put or move on today?, or which way should we go?, or which wine will we have with dinner?.  Such decision making came to the fore this week.  First it was which wine should I use in the casserole. First raid the wine cellar and of course have a taste test…a McWilliams 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon or the 1981 Chianti Classico…

wine 1wine 2

The ‘83 Cab Sauv passed the taste test and was used, however, the Chianti was a different story, oh how I wish the camera was closer to hand to take a photo of Roy’s face as he tasted it and then quickly spat it out! I declined the taste test but I was assured that it was almost red wine/balsamic vinegar! Oh, and the casserole was very good too. 

The next decision came in the way of what to have on top of our morning porridge, NZ Chelsea Golden Syrup or English Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup?  Easy decision really, NZ for him and English for her! And yes, there is a difference in taste, colour and texture.  A bit like the Vegemite Marmite debate which of course we also have, Marmite for him and Vegemite for her.

porridge Which golden syrup?

And of course our porridge is stirred with a spurtle, thanx Margaret, we think of you every time we use it!

porridge 2Spurtle in use.

Other major decision making has been on what to do today, which of course depends on the weather….or whether or not we should!

 calm seaOn a day such as this when the sea is flat calm then it is a day for being outside and throwing a line or two in the water.

Another day and Bernice decided that we needed a headboard. Nothing too large or extravagant you realise but just something to fit between the bed and the back wall and the window frame as in the winter the (metal) window frames tend to become rather cool, ok, to be honest, they become damn cold.  So a trip into the recyclers and part with the princely sum of $10 for a nice wooden headboard.  It just needed the legs chopped off, thanx to John and his skill saw made short work of this.  Then back to the van, and oh yes, there was a spare piece of upholstery material stashed away somewhere, so with a bit of padding from the upholsterers, a staple gun (again, thanx John), the headboard was quickly recovered, and put in place.  headboard 1 headboard 2 

The finished article in place looking very smart.  I can report that it does make a difference. 

Another day and more decisions, shall we clean the van today or not.  Ok, its about time it had a good clean and the solar panels could probably do with a wipe over as well.  One does the high, off the ground stuff whilst the shorter member of the party washed the van from the safety of terra firma!

on top 3  on top 2

Enjoying the view from the top.

Of course whilst this flurry of activity was taking place, we gained an interested group of bystanders, if only I had a dollar from every person or van that went by and wanted to be next in the queue.

audienceThis group of bystanders offered instructional assistance!

We even had a visit from the circus van,

clown 2clown 1

however we declined to run away with the circus, as my leotard is in the wash and Roy broke his Lion Taming whip:)