Archive for February, 2014

Mahurangi

February 28, 2014

Mahurangi West is another one of the Auckland Regional Parks, with this one about 45minutes north of Auckland. However, we are not staying at the regional park camping ground, we are staying at the venue for our nieces wedding providing on site ‘security’, and what a lovely location it is. It is at the old Mahurangi School

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The views are stunning overlooking the Mahurangi Harbour, and as we arrived the marquee had been set up and tables were being arranged.

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We are parked tucked away on one side of the carpark area over looking the marquees and along from the wee hall.

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But the view from the toilets would have to be the best.

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The daughter has landed

February 25, 2014

The arrival area of Auckland international airport is always a fascinating place to people watch. Where have they come from? Who is meeting them? What is their relationship? It’s interesting to watch and speculate. Antony met us as the airport as we were all there to wait for Alex to come through from her long journey (30hrs) from London. We only have her with us in NZ for just a week, and we only get to see her for a day before she heads south for Lee’s wedding. It wasn’t long before she came through the doors.

20140225-204942.jpg Alex arriving

She was pretty well exhausted by the time she was here, but we soon headed off to our second home at Jacky and Chris’ place where we are staying for a couple of nights. Alex had a quick shower whilst we got dinner underway, Steve and Les arrived to join us a with Simon arriving a short time later. We had a great evening with lots of laughter, good food, great wine and good company.

The next day (Monday), Alex and I went off to do a little retail therapy as she needed to purchase a few items to fulfill her role as Maid of Honour and organiser of the hens day/night!! We managed to complete our purchases relatively quickly and efficiently so we had plenty of time to fit in a little relaxing.

20140225-210211.jpggetting a little reading done in NZ sunshine

We headed over to the Shore later in the afternoon as we were due at Claire & Matt’s for dinner and to see their new house. Alex will be returning to NZ in October to Claire’s Maid of Honour. We had a really lovely evening and they have a very nice first home in a lovely setting surrounded by a reserve of native trees. You would not know that you were really in the middle of a big city.

Tuesday and we were to pick up another of Alex’s friends and take them both to the airport for their flight to Dunedin. It just so happened that Jacky & Chris’ flight was due in just half an hour later so we were able to pick them up and return them to their home. After a catch up with them, we returned to Ardmore and our home. For some reason it seems like we have been away for ages even though it was just a couple of nights.

Oh, and I did get a little something brought to me from the UK. I had asked Alex to pick up a toaster for us, for use on the gas stove top. I had brought one back from France three years ago but it had started to burn through on the base. A discussion on toasters took place here https://brvannini.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/ and here https://brvannini.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/. After a little searching on the web, I found a replacement, however it was only available in the UK, but I knew someone was visiting shortly so a request was put in. This version is stainless steel so should last quite a while and at just £4, a bargain!

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Back to the big smoke

February 22, 2014

We left Whangamata and headed up over the cloud covered hills to Kopu where we had a brief stop to fill up at the excellent Nova LPG fueling station then onto an Rv repair shop to pick up some locker catches that we had ordered the previous week. That done it was then onto Kaiaua, but first we pulled into Rays Rest to have some lunch and a cuppa as it was already after 2pm and the tummies were growling loudly in complaint. We had not been there long when we spied Fred. We had met Fred previously at Ardmore, he is a fellow full timer and blogger. After a quick catch up, we decided to stay put for the night as we were heading off in the morning anyway. Ray’s Rest lived up to our expectations of being very windy, we did not need rocking of to sleep.

Off the next morning to Auckland, more specifically back to Ardmore where we will be parked up for the next few days. On the way back to Auckland, just north of Kawakawa bay we came across a new, soon to open, regional park.

20140222-154918.jpganother park for us to explore.

Friday, and we headed off over the bridge to Torbay to see Steve and Les as we were all taking a trip up to Mahurangi to check out the venue where their daughter Frances is getting married next weekend. A stunning location (oops forgot camera!) but we will take lots of pictures next weekend. After sorting out a few bits and pieces it was a trip down to the beach and check out the camp site as this is another of the fabulous ARC Parks. Then it was back to Torbay for a bite of lunch before Leslie and I went out shopping for the afternoon, gathering together all the last minute bits and pieces for the wedding, and a few other essential items. That done we headed back to their place where Roy and Steve were busy laying the new flooring in their bathroom. We stayed on for a delicious dinner before heading back to Ardmore.

The weather here is incredibly hot, humid and sticky making it nigh on impossible to sleep at night. It’s almost like being back in Singapore for warmth and humidity. It does not make it pleasant for doing anything, however today we are getting a few jobs done, including installing the washing machine properly into the cupboard, complete with rollout access.

Jacky & Chris have very kindly let us make use of their house in Mt Eden whilst they are away for a few days as tomorrow (Sunday) Alex arrives from London. Are we excited? Just a little!!

A week of Whangamata

February 17, 2014

It doesn’t seem like we have been in Whangamata for a week, but we have and we have even managed to keep ourselves busy and out of mischief.

Roy has been very busy working on his new computer program which he is hoping that he will have completed in the next day or two. These things always take much longer than anticipated but he is getting there. This is for our business of producing user specific online Exposition and Safety Manuals for small aircraft and helicopter companies that carry passengers. These Manuals are a CAA requirement, originally many years ago Roy & Barry developed a computer/Internet based Manual system to replace the cumbersome paper based system. The new program will encompass safety management systems as well as the exposition. Our clients are based all around the country and as it is a computer based system, it means that we can run the business from anywhere in the country (or world) so long as we have Internet access. Bernice does the ‘office’ work and makes sure Roy is fed and watered and kept happy!

Toward this end, I have been busy making more zucchini pickle, not only for ourselves but for Alexandra, as it is her favourite pickle and I know she wants to take some back to London.

20140217-114207.jpgzucchini pickle

Alex arrives back in NZ next week, for a short one week visit as she is chief bridesmaid for her friend Lee who is getting married in Gore. For those of you who are long time blog followers, you may recall that when we were in London we had a fabulous weekend with Alex, Lee and Matthew, see brvannini.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/moving-day/ . We would have loved to have joined Lee & Matt in celebrating their big day but we have our niece Fran’s wedding to attend in Auckland the same day and we cannot be in two places at once. We will only get to see Alex for a day or two but she will be back in October for another wedding so we will just have to make sure we have lots of fun together in the few days we have.

I have also been perfecting my sourdough bread making skills. Some days the bread is fabulous, other days not quite so good and the strange thing is that I cannot work out why some days the bread is light and fluffy and another day it would make a good brick! But here is the latest loaf, light and deliciously tasty.

20140217-114230.jpgAnd yes, it pairs well with the pickle and a little cheese.

One day last week we got a call from friends Brian and Marj, as they were heading through Kaiaua on their way southwards and were wondering if we were anywhere nearby. We decided that as it was only just over an hour away we would pop up and see them and share a bit of lunch whilst we have a catch up.

20140217-114253.jpgabout to tuck into lunch at Ray’s Rest near Kaiaua.

Living full time in our Motorhome means that we are constantly making adjustments and improvements to the van and the gear we have with us, ditching some unnecessary items and adding new pieces. This can be anything from buying new fishing gear (or net), to more tools – btw thanx Steve for the drill, donating a few unwanted items to local charity shops, to our latest acquisition….

20140217-114137.jpg yes, the washing machine at the Bach has had a baby!!!

Much debate over many years has taken place as to whether getting a small washing machine would be advantageous over the current washing method see https://brvannini.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/. I cannot pass up a bargain though and when I found this brand new, never been used, Motorhome washing machine for sale on Trade Me, I put in a cheeky bid. Much to my surprise I won the auction! A quick trip to Tauranga to pick it up and voila, we now have a washing machine. The machine itself only weighs 17kgs, and does a load of 2.2kgs. Although it is fully automatic, I can save water only using 20 litres maximum, by reusing the washing water and doing the whites first, take them out and do the coloureds etc etc then spin them all. I can do a whole wash using relatively little water as I use Simply Living Washing Balls which negate the need for rinsing. A bit of messing around but, in this busy life on the road, I am sure I can find time!

The next job of course is to figure out where we can install the machine and store it so that it is not in the way. I have sacrificed a cupboard in the toilet area, it was a drop forward bin-type of cupboard which was supposed to be a laundry hamper except we used it to store odds and ends. And as we have had a clean out of all the lockers we have had a reshuffle to ensure everything has a home as well as donating a few unwanted items to a local charity shop.
We had to remove the cupboard by taking the door off and removing the hinges from the base, remove the sides and base of the cupboard from the door -as it was all one unit, then make a slightly larger opening by cutting the base of the frame, installing a floor and reattaching the door to make it side opening.

20140217-114323.jpg door removed, base of opening cut down, and base of cupboard to be made.

20140217-114347.jpg washing machine in place

20140217-114415.jpg safely housed behind the door.

We have to make a few more adjustments to make it easier to use, such as put in sliders on the baseplate so that the machine can be rolled out of the cupboard to use and a tray made to sit the machine in to contain any possible leakages, but that will all have to wait until we get to Auckland later in the week. Anyone in the market for a very good hand wringer???

Waharau to Whangamata

February 11, 2014

 

Our week at Waharau seems to have flown by, it is such a lovely, peaceful, sheltered,  relaxing place to spend  time and enjoy the surrounds.   It is a great place to observe and listen to the sounds of nature, the predominant sound at the moment is the chirrup of the Cicada which, to me, always epitomises the sound of summer.

Cicadas live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, emerging when the summer warmth seeps into the ground.  They then shed their skins on a nearby plant and emerge as adults. The abandoned exoskeleton, remains, still clinging to the bark of trees.  Everywhere you look there are cicada cases, a great game as kids was to collect as many body shells as possible and attach to your clothing!  or collect large piles of them to see who could get the most.

 0103Cicada shells covering trees.

There have also been a number of Kingfishers (Kotare)  close by, we seem to be seeing more and more of these colourful birds.

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From the door of the van is this view of a lovely small stream that meanders through the park, the sound of water bubbling over rocks and trees is another voice in natures chorus.

  04View from the door

On Tuesday friends Barry & Sandra contacted us to see if we would be interested in meeting up for lunch in Thames.   Of course we said yes so we hopped into our car and drove the 45 minutes down to Thames whilst they hopped into their plane and flew the 45minutes  from their base in Taupo. 

06Landing at Thames airport, and no, the cows in the picture were not really anywhere near the runway.

After a lovely long lunch and catch up, it was time for them to return to Taupo and us to our van.

05All aboard.

Wednesday and it was time for us to move on, this time we were heading to Whangamata to catch up with Bernice’s brother Steve and his wife Leslie, as Thursday was a national holiday (Waitangi Day) and they were making it a long weekend by having Friday off work.  

07Here we are parked up on the front lawn of the Bach at Whangamata. 

The weather wasn’t the best the first couple of days but by the weekend it had cleared and was beautifully fine and hot.  We had a great few days with them before they had to return to Auckland on Sunday.

However, for us, Sunday was another day of catching up with friends. This time we headed off to Tauranga to meet up with our travelling mates Pat & Sue.  And with it being a Sunday, of course we had to meet up for brunch to continue the tradition we started on our travels throughout Northland before Christmas.  It was great to catch up with them again, and they have some exciting new plans of which we will reveal in a later blog as we plan to meet up again in a week or two.

We are staying on in Whangamata for a few more days as it gives us an opportunity to get a few things done as well as giving everything a good clean out.  Actually, read that as Bernice is let loose with the cleaning gear, rubbish bin and labelling machine whilst Roy gets some serious programming work done! 

Back again

February 3, 2014

Thursday morning and Roy had to go back to the dentist for a final check up and tweak. Then it was time to pack up the van and head off to the dump station, empty the waste tanks, fill up with fresh water then head to the petrol station to fill up with both LPG and petrol before heading on out of Auckland. Our first stop was at Kawakawa Bay for a spot of lunch then on to Waharau regional park where we intend to stay for the next week or so.

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Over the weekend a group of young Uni students set up camp just along from us, one of them came wandering over late on Saturday afternoon to have a chat. It turns out he wanted to make sure we would not be too upset with a bit of party noise and loud music. “Sure” we said “not a problem, party on, have a great time and thanks for asking”. Little did they know that we are well known to have had the occasional noisy soirée or two, so who are we to dampen their fun? Besides, does this mean that I am now seen as one of those special breed of people, you know, the ones labeled as, gulp, ‘old’? Heavens forbid, surely not? Anyway, it turns out that we could probably teach these young ones a thing or two about partying, as they were relatively quiet and they were all in bed by midnight! Sheesh, these young ones have no staying power. Now, in my day……

The weather has been very kind to us so Bernice decided it was time the car got a bit of a clean. After giving it a wash, it was time to polish it. All in all, it did not take too long, especially now we have a buffing machine which makes short work of applying the polish and buffing it off. Although the only problem is that the female member of the party is a little vertically challenged which means that she cannot reach the roof. Even with the aid of a stool, she still cannot reach, however the male member of the touring party is harangued and cajoled into utilizing his long reach. Job done.

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Next it will be the turn of the van….wax on, wax off!

Wednesday

February 1, 2014

Wednesday turned out to be a busy old day as well as a trip around Auckland.

First up, Roy got the call from the dental technician to say that his new plate was ready for him to go and have it fitted. We left Ardmore and headed off into Manurewa to have that all sorted, stopping off briefly at Antony’s in Papakura to jump start his car. We continued on our way to Manurewa where Roy’s new plate was quickly and efficiently fitted. From there we had a couple of hours spare before Roy’s appointment with the Urologist at Ascot Hospital in Ellerslie so we headed off to Mt Eden to share lunch with Jacky. It was whilst we were there that we got a call from nephew Stuart & his partner Emma and their family from Dunedin, however they just happened to be holidaying in the north. They were heading to Bernice’s brother Steve’s place in Torbay where we arranged to meet up with them later in the day.

Next it was off to see the specialist. First of all he was running a little behind schedule, no problem, we are not in a hurry, but then the full report from the MRI had not been sent through so more waiting. We eventually got in to see him to get the good news that the MRI showed that things had not significantly changed since last year so another year now before the follow up scan. Phew!

Then it was off over the bridge to Steve & Leslie’s, less said about the traffic the better! where we were surprised to find not only Stuart and family there, but all three of Steve’s daughters along with their children. With six children under 6, it all made for a fun, full on evening and a great chance for some of the cousins and second cousins to hang out together. Sorry, no pics as we did not think we would need the camera for our planned trip to the dentist and the urologist!!!

From there it was the long drive back to Ardmore, but by the time we left, there was little in the way of traffic and we made it in just on an hour. Our last night at Ardmore before we head off Thursday. A full on Wednesday, but a good one.