Archive for July, 2013

Miscellany and underway

July 30, 2013

So here we are trying to escape from Auckland to finally start to make our way to the North for Winter.  Mind you it seems as if we are heading toward Spring without having Winter at this time.  The weather may have been wet and overcast but the temperatures have been very mild.  Or perhaps we are still on South Island temperature profiles.

Spotted the other day were these birds feasting on the last of the apples on the tall trees not far from our parking spot in Drury.  The first one spotted was a blackbird but he/she managed to get away before the photographer was ready.

This waxeye obliged by sitting long enough for  photo to be taken

 2 silvereye

And this Sparrow decided to duck inside for a bite just as the shutter opened.

1 sparrow

On the other hand we have newly born lambs at Ambury Park.  These fellows are part of a large number of black lambs born over the past month.

3 black lambs

Whilst these white ones are from a flock which is just starting to bear their young.  They are sheltering from a keen wind in a sheltered rock nest.

5 white lambs

At the weekend we attended Chris and Jacky’s son Asa’s 21st birthday.  Having spent the past week preparing for the party Jacky is relaxing with a cup of tea while waiting for the first guests to appear.

6 Jax

Later in the evening the compulsory speeches are made.  Here we have Chris, Isaac and Asa in front of the crowd.

7 Asa

And this one is of the birthday boy responding to the well wishers.

 8 bday boy


(Trumpet fanfare)

Loud Cheering.

We are finally on the move out of Auckland to the North. Or are we? But wait, there’s another hiccup! Water found on the floor Monday morning on our way to leaving Ambury, so a quick diversion back to the repairers where they replace a broken connection on the newly installed water filter. 

This time, we are off.

Yes we are on the right road and almost in the right lane.

 11 leaving

Through the tunnel under Victoria Park.

12 tunnel

And over the top of the Harbour Bridge.

13 top

We spend the first night out of Auckland at Wenderholm just north of Waiwera.  This is another of the Auckland Regional Parks and definitely one of the best.  Situated at the mouth of the Puhoi River on flat land with very large Pohutukawa, it provides  one of the best picnic or camping spots around.

On the inland side it lies at the mouth of the river where there are large areas of mangrove and mud flats.

18 mangrove

The whole of the Park was once the grounds of Couldrey House the home of the original owners.

19 couldrey house

The trees provide ample resting places for birds including this pigeon pair in a Puriri waiting for the berries to develop and ripen.

 16 pair

In the meantime this pair decided to follow me very closely as we set up to stay for the night and even sat around for quite some time before deciding that we were miserable for not offering suitable sustenance.  

 20 pair

Today we have undertaken a long drive, at least two hours, to Uretiti just north of Waipu.  We will be here for a few days getting used to being under way again and waiting for friends returning from Auckland before continuing North in convoy.

21 headsWhangarei Heads in the distance.

And now for a little light entertainment.

What is a Doofer? What is it used for?

I had never seen one before and had no idea what it was, so finally asked.

The pen is for scale.

10 doofer

No I’m not going to tell you now, you will have to figure it out.

Perhaps the answer in the next post.

Back at Ambury

July 24, 2013

Wednesday morning and we are due back at Auckland Coach Builders to have a few things tweaked after we have had the van back for a few days and discovered a couple of items that were not quite right. We left our comfortable park in Drury and first made our way to the excellent dump station in Wiri Station Road where we emptied all the waste tanks and filled up with fresh water.

On to the repair shop where the first item was an easy fix, the igniter on the oven was not working, but a quick check and reattach a wire and all done. Another job was a cupboard door screws which had become loose, another job was….well, there were many more similar tasks, so you see, nothing major but all needed to be done. But in the usual Vannini manner, we found more items that needed attention, and in fact they found a couple of things too, but all is now done and hopefully we will not have to go back again. Chris had also made a nice board from the sink cut out and he had that waiting for us ready to go.

Once all the jobs were completed, it was off to Ambury Park and back to familiar surroundings, and it turns out to be very familiar as the two other vehicles parked there are two people that we have come to know quite well over our time at Ambury. We could not park in quite the same spot as usual as that particular parking bay has a tree that hangs over and we did not want to risk any scratching of the newly sealed roof. After a little “discussion”, we were safely parked and settled.


July 23, 2013

The weekend was spent catching up with friends and doing a little shopping rather than getting on with the mundane task of cleaning. Plenty of time for that another day me thinks. Saturday we arranged to meet up with Bill & Estelle at Botany Downs, a large shopping complex. We had a few items on our list that we needed to seek out and find, which did not take long at all. So plenty of time for a coffee and a bite to eat whilst catching up. Then it was time to head out to see Bill & Linda. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to gather up some of the old crowd for dinner the following evening at the Papakura Club so a few phone calls were made. Then it was back to the van in the late afternoon to get on with some of the chores we had been putting off.

Sunday and we headed out to Paparimu to catch up with Ron & Jan and also to invite them to dinner along with everyone else. Whilst we we there, another old friend Pat came visiting with her daughter and son-in-law, turns out that Pat now lives just a few hundred meters from where we are currently parked in rural Drury! Small world. That evening, we all regrouped at the Papakura Club for an enjoyable evening of laughs and catching up. Plus the Club also has parking for motorhomes, information which we shall tuck away for future reference.

Monday morning dawned, and we had drawn up a list of things that we needed to get done, which also included a bit of shopping, particularly for those items we forgot the other day. As well, a number of appointments were for later in the week. We headed into Pukekohe to get the shopping completed before heading back to the van to complete the cleaning and the tidy up of the lockers. We are slowly decreasing the excess stuff we seem to accumulate, either that or we are managing to reshuffle it all effectively to take up less room! Ron called in for a quick visit before heading off back home.

And the reason for the title of this entry? This morning (Tuesday) we had Roy’s appointment with the Urologist for the results of the scans Roy had last week as a follow up to the scare he had at the beginning of the year. We were quietly braced for the results however we got the good news that there is no change, no need for anything to be done just now, just another check scheduled for 6 months time. Phew! About time we had some good news.

On the road again

July 21, 2013

After another week of the wonderful hospitality of Steve and Leslie, we finally have left their comfortable abode and we are back in the van.

We got the call to pick up the van Friday afternoon, so once we had done our final few chores in the morning we headed off to Auckland Coach Builders in Mangere. We were greeted by Chris, and shown through all that they had done. A quick tidy and then on our way to our park for the next few night. We are parked at a place in Drury, as we needed power. As the van has been inside for two weeks, not much solar power was getting in so it requires a bit of a top up. Anyway, it’s a lovely rural outlook and it is very pleasant.


20130721-154837.jpgearly morning views from the van.

As for the repairs and maintenance; the roof is all resealed and apparently looks pretty damn good, not that I have been up there to have a look, oh and the slide-out has all been resealed top and bottom too.


The kitchen drawer has been re made, new base underneath there too, as well as new bench top, oh and new sink and drainer looks pretty spiffy and very functional too.


We have a nice new filter system for the fresh water too so we really don’t know ourselves! AND the fridge now runs off power as well as gas so that’s a huge improvement.

Oh and the aircon unit is off the roof, that is 40 odd kilos of dead weight gone off the roof, and in its place a is a stunning vent which is one that has a fancy sliding fly screen and shade thingy… no need for the alien shield on that one, in fact when we win lotto, we would like to change the other vents to the same!


They also fixed the back where the spare tyre goes, it has been completely reinforced and tidied up beautifully, all in all a damn fine job and one helluva lot cheaper than we were previously quoted.

20130721-155225.jpg We are really pleased. Everything needs a damn good clean, although they did a reasonable job of cleaning most of the mess, we will have a good clean out and tidy up over the next day or two.

Meanwhile we have both had haircuts, Leslie cut Roy’s hair and I went off and spent a fortune on mine!! Leslie and I treated ourselves to a fabulous pedicure last week, so I have very pretty bright red painted toenails. Just a shame its winter and I have to keep them under wraps.

We will probably spend another few days around Auckland to finish off a few things THEN we will be off northwards….finally! We cannot wait.

Girls stuff/Boys stuff

July 15, 2013

It’s been a weekend of division of activities by the sexes with the girls off doing their thing and the boys doing theirs. Bernice and Leslie started it all off with a trip to the movies to see White Lies, a NZ movie based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, which comes highly recommended by us for viewing. Then on Saturday it was off down to the mall for a little retail therapy and some pampering, first it was the pedicure, foot massage and toenail painting, which was utter bliss. Then a little light lunch before some light retail therapy. Then it was back home where Steve and Roy, ably assisted by grandson Asher, were smoking the bacon that had been curing all week. And it smelt damn good too.

Later in the late afternoon, Leslie and I tootled over the bridge to pick up Jacky as we had bookings to go and see a Play. But first we needed a bite to eat, but where to go? The restaurant by the theatre was jam packed full of theatre goers as was the Japanese restaurant next door, however a short walk up the road and a Korean place looked interesting. A lovely shared meal of braised chili short ribs, a squid dish of some kind, bibimbap, and a host of other things that I now cannot remember what they were apart from the fact that it was delicious!

The play was called Nick: An accidental Hero, and a one woman show by Renee Lyons. Nick Chisholm has Locked-in syndrome, but this is not a play about a man with a disability. It’s a play about a man and the people in his life. The accident that resulted in his current state is simply a catalyst, an event that is circumnavigated to illustrate the finer points of the human condition. I say finer points, because Lyons presents us with how the characters deal with the situation, as opposed to focusing on the ‘what’ of the situation. While the latter could easily result in forced melodrama, the former gives us a proper insight into the people involved in Nick’s life, and, consequently, of Nick himself. Said characters include Nick’s mother Joyce, his best friend Boyd, his other best friend Liam, his now wife Nicola, and Soo Young Kim, an hilarious fictional Korean orderly cleverly used as a narrative device.

All in all an excellent show that we all thoroughly enjoyed and laughed at all the way through.

Sunday morning after an excellent breakfast of Steve’s home made bacon, some free range eggs complete with my homemade sourdough, Roy, Leslie and I went for a drive out to Clevedon to visit the Farmers Market. Although the weather wasn’t exactly the best we managed to dodge any rain showers and were back home in time to watch Steve slice up his bacon on his newly acquired slicer.

20130715-114707.jpgslicing action

20130715-114722.jpg Bringing home the bacon, and damn delicious it is too!

The afternoon was spent catching up on a few tasks which included making some more delicious dumplings, some of which we had for dinner. Roy went out for the afternoon to see Brian and Marjorie, fellow motorhomers, to help them with some issues they were having with computers, downloading books to readers etc etc. Back in March 2011 on our first week in our newly acquired motorhome, we met Brian and Marj in Tauranga where they provided us with much help and sage advice. They were at Ambury our last night there last week, where it was lovely to catch up with them again. We hope to meet up with them again soon somewhere in Northland.

The van is still in at the repairers, but hopefully we will be back on the road by the weekend. Watch this space.

From bad to worse

July 12, 2013

You know how it goes, you think things are bad and they cannot get any worse, but they do! We took the van into Auckland Coach Builders on Monday to have the drawer replaced under the stove. Chris, the manager, took us for a tour through their building to see what they do…which is everything to do with buses, motorhomes etc from building, repairs to a full paint shop. It was very impressive. We left there and headed off over the bridge to Steve and Leslie’s, battling the traffic along the way…of course it was our luck that part of the motorway was closed due to an incident the night before so instead of a 35 minute trip it was a 2 hr stop/start journey. It was not too long after that we got a call from Chris, they had done the watertight test and it seemed all was ok, but give it some time as water tends to sometimes slowly make its way through, however, that was not the reason for his call, it was to tell us that the bench top had also ‘blown’ from water damage and was 10mm out around the stove! So that needs replacing too. Ok, insurance should cover that as it is part of the same leak, he will sort that out.

Tuesday morning and we head back across the bridge this time to the Orthopedic surgeon for the news on Roy’s knee. But first a visit to see Antony and a catch up with him. Then off to the clinic. The surgeon went through what was wrong; a small fracture, a small meniscus tear, a small ligament tear, and a few other things that I now cannot remember. What does all that mean? Well, as Roy’s All Black playing days are over, there is no need for surgery, in fact the best thing to do is to continue as he has been doing which is to walk little and often and slowly build up the length of time walking. Over time he will eventually stop limping and the pain will ease. Finally, some good news. Oh, but as we were waiting to go in to the surgeon, we got another call from Chris, might be a good idea to call in once we had finished so he could explain what he had discovered…

Back at the van, they were well into the repairs with the aircon unit off the roof as well as an old UHF aerial, and they were checking around all the vents and solar units ready to reseal all the joints when they noticed a problem with the roof. The roof is covered with a rubber EPDM material which was potentially lifting from the edge in places and as well as that it was……..Well, to cut a long story short we now have to have the whole roof resealed which means removing the guttering and awning, lifting the rubber material around the edges, removing…etc etc etc which all equates to lots of $$$$! It has to be done and it is just as well they saw what was going on now, as it is preventative maintenance before anything really major occurs. But something we could do without.

Another trip back across the bridge this time in peak traffic. Sheesh, are we over this traffic business! Wednesday and the day started with another phone call from Chris, I’m beginning to think we will not answer the phone soon!, it’s ok he says, there’s nothing wrong, we just want to know how to open the awning……..phew, is that all.

Thursday and its back across the bridge this time to Remuera for an MRI scan for Roy’s kidney problem discovered earlier this year. We have to go a hour before his appointment so he can swallow some dye. Results will be when we can get in o see the specialist in a couple of weeks time. That done its back to the van to check in on progress as Chris suggested that we should call in, seeing as though we were in the region. No more major problems, but we did tell Chris not to panic about finishing everything by Friday as we would prefer that they took their time, got everything done and made sure all was well.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying Steve & Les’ company, good food, no drinking though as its “dry July” however all the above could have driven us to drink. We are happy to have a few extra days here and spend some more time together.

Oh and I forgot to mention that on Monday evening, I tripped up and had a bit of a fall (actually a spectacular face plant!) resulting in a very painful knee, hip and wrist, so painful that I thought that I had broken my hip!!! However, just bruising of body and ego and a few stretched and strained muscles. We both now limp! What a pair.


July 7, 2013

As it turns out, this is our last week at Ambury…..fingers crossed. After a bit of a flurry, we finally got an insurance assessor to come out and see the van to check out some minor damage we had to a drawer in the kitchen due to an unknown leak. The previous week we had rung the insurance company, did as we were asked and got a quote for repairs from a company that they recommended and then had to wait for approval from an assessor. So we waited, and waited, and waited, until we finally rang the insurance company whilst we we at the Motorhome repair company, and after some discussion what do you know? An assessor rang that very afternoon and was with us within 20 minutes! As a result the van is now going in to get the drawer repaired on Monday and also to have a water test to check for where the leak may be occurring. It is in the drawer under the oven, so either the water is getting in from an external source or it is from accidental spillage inside the van. We shall see. Whilst they have the van, we thought it would be an opportune time to get a few other minor jobs done. Things such as remove the other aircon unit from the roof (which does not work as it is 110v) to be replaced by a vent. A list has been drawn up, although some things on the list are dependent on whether we have won lotto. we can but wish. Whilst the van is in the repair shop for the week, we will be staying with Steve and Leslie in Torbay.

Roy has his orthopedic surgeons appointment on Tuesday for his knee and we are also taking the opportunity to get his follow up scan for his kidney problem done and out of the way. Hopefully all will be ok and we can then head north.

Meanwhile, Pat & Sue headed off to Tauranga earlier in the week to drop off their 5th wheeler for some repair work to be done on it whilst they head off overseas for a couple of months. It has been fabulous having them around and sharing all the trials and tribulations of life lived on the road, going to movies, visiting markets, sharing meals, and playing cards.

In the last entry we mentioned that Pat had helped to sort out our guttering system, and here it is in action.

The ideal situation would be to now have that water piped straight into the tank, perhaps another job for the repair shop this week?

Over the past few days there has been other motorhomes parked here, one couple who have been on the road for 10 years and another couple, Ross & Wyn who have been 5 years on the road, whose blog we follow and are also fellow Motorhome forum members. It’s very good to finally meet up with people you feel you already know from reading their blog.

To finish, here is a pic of us parked at Ambury

20130707-113055.jpg Thanks to the Rangers and staff who have so kindly allowed us to stay, we will be back but hopefully not for a wee while!

And another week slips by

July 3, 2013

I am not sure where all the days go, but somehow they seem to disappear with some regularity. Roy duly went off to see the Orthopedic surgeon last Tuesday where it was decided that perhaps they needed an MRI scan to see better what is exactly going on. The scan was booked for last Friday with a follow up appointment to be made once the scan report was in the hands of the surgeon. The surgeons appointment is next week, however the scan was duly done on Friday, which in itself was a bit of a juggle. Bernice dropped Roy off at the clinic then whipped off to the airport to meet up with eldest brother Mike, who was returning from his sojourn to Germany and Switzerland. We arranged for Antony to meet up with Roy at the scan clinic then they both then joined Mike and I at the airport for a catch up before Mike then headed south.

20130703-121517.jpgGuess who got a new knife? Roy had his knife refurbished at the factory which Mike had visited.

Antony came for a quick visit to pick up a hat I had knitted for him


In between, we have been busy what with one thing or another. One day I went off to the movies with Pat & Sue to see Song for Marion, a good thing to do on a wet Auckland day. I enjoyed the movie although it was a little close to to home for me at times and the tissues got a work out!

Friends have visited us at Ambury, and we have been out visiting. Saturday we went to Jacky & Chris’ for lunch and also took the opportunity to do a bit of laundry. Sunday was spent with us entertaining friends with visits from Edwina, Vanessa and her children followed by a lovely afternoon spent with Ron & Janet.

A bit of maintenance on the van has been undertaken this past week or so, Pat kindly assisted by fixing some short lengths of tubing to the end of our guttering system so we can collect rain water. Rain water certainly makes a difference in taste to our cups of tea, and we just have a few more mods to do to enable us to collect water off the awning as well. Bernice has been busy removing the old caulking from around the shower and re caulking with the appropriate gunk (tech name for the stuff that you squeeze out of a large tube/caulking gun and manage to spread over most of yourself as well as the shower!!).

The weather has been very changeable with winter woollies dragged out of the cupboard, followed by wet weather gear, followed by lighter gear. Sometimes it all occurs within a few hours of each other. The birds and plants are very confused, as we have seen newly hatched Pukeko chicks, and this Manuka is on full flower right beside our van.


And some days it looks like we have set up a Chinese laundry

20130703-123531.jpgPat, Sue and Bernice watch the washing dry.

In the meantime, we wait for the next appointment and hope that they are pleased with Roy’s progress so that we can continue up on our journey. Roy is managing to walk a little way without crutches so we presume that means he is slowly on the mend.

Last but by no means least, we welcome another great niece to the family, Michelle Marie, born the day after her big sister Renee’s 5th birthday. Congratulations Natalie, Richard and Renee.