Archive for March, 2014


March 27, 2014

Bernice’s Dad, Burnie, passed away in Oamaru on Friday 21 March, 18 months after Mum. Father of Mike (Oamaru), Sue (Putaruru), John (Whakatane), Steve (Auckland), Bernice (NFA) and Hilary (Taupo) and their families. Loved Grandpop to 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

20140327-103502.jpg A photo found over the past few days of Dad, Mum, Hilary and Bernice. We think it would have been taken around 1965/66 with our new fishing rods!!

Stormy weather

March 18, 2014

We were all warned of the impending cyclone which would be bringing gale force winds and torrential rain along with the associated potential damage it could wreak. We needed to find ourselves somewhere safe to shelter.

We left Ambury on Thursday morning and head across the city, first to Takanini to fill up with LPG then in to the dump station at Bruce Pullman Park before parking at the Papakura Club for the evening. We had mail to collect from Antony’s and a few other tasks to attend to and of course this was our wedding anniversary so a dinner out was called for. A few phone calls made and with Bill & Estelle, Ron & Janet, Bill & Linda joined us for a very enjoyable meal and evening out at the club. Meanwhile Pat & Sue were off having electrical and solar work done on their van.

It looked as though the best place for us to avoid the worst of the impending cyclone Lusi was to head over to Waharau Regional Park, and our favourite parking place there at Blackberry Flat. This decision was made by consulting a very good, accurate weather reporting site (who would have thought that the Norwegians were so good at predicting our weather in NZ?) which was predicting moderate winds and just a few mm’s of rain for Waharau. Armed with that information we headed off on Friday for the hours drive over the hills to the camp ground, expecting a number of vehicles to be sheltering there but no, we were Nigel-no-mates! However, that did not last long as Pat & Sue joined us later in the day.

20140318-112400.jpgone of these things is not like the other….

Our TV satellite dish has had a propensity to rock a bit in the wind so a few adjustments needed to be made before the storm arrived. This required Roy getting up on the roof (I don’t do heights!) and making a few modifications.

20140318-112137.jpgsorting out the satellite dish

That all done, we settled ourselves in and waited for the arrival of cyclone Lusi. As we listened to reports of the storms arrival and subsequent movement down the country, we were quite happily parked up seemingly sheltered from any winds and although we did have some rain, it was very light and infrequent. We even had our awning out as we were so sheltered from any wind.

A storm in a teacup!

Happy Anniversary

March 13, 2014

Happy anniversary, 32 years have flown by. Here’s to many many more.


In a pickle

March 11, 2014

Whoever said that by living in a Motorhome we would be eating “camping food” is just sooooooo wrong on so many levels. For a start, I am not too sure exactly what “camping food” is; is it dehydrated, reconstituted, lightweight, prepackaged, pretend food? Well, that’s not what we enjoy eating. We eat fresh, local, meat, fruit, eggs and veg and take advantage of any free range foraged foods I.e. Mushrooms, blackberries, fish etc. I make a fresh loaf of our own sourdough bread every three or four days and with the abundance of fresh (and cheap) produce available at the moment we also make our own pickles, chutneys, sauces, jams, preserves.

The last few days have been pickling and preserving time in the Vannini van, as just around the corner from Ambury Park is a very good market garden where they grow and sell their produce. The outdoor tomatoes are at their best and cheapest right now with a large variety of different types of tomatoes as well. Our favourites are the beefsteak variety which are large, fleshy, with few seeds but packed with flavour. They also grow eggplants, peppers, zucchini, a variety of greens of all sorts and sizes as well as herbs and plenty more.

A day or two has been set aside to cook up a few batches of pickles and chutneys. Just small batches, as there is just the two of us (plus the occasional visitor). Of course I had already made a large batch of zucchini pickle for Alex And she took a good supply of this back with her. When at Kawakawa Bay, see, I made plum sauce.

But back to today’s pickling, first off I made a batch of Tomato Kasundi, this is a deliciously spicy Indian style Chutney. Part of the recipe calls for lots of fresh spices to be toasted and then ground in a pestle and mortar. Now, in the past I have struggled along without a mortar & pestle by improvising but this time, I decided it was time to find myself a nice small mortar & pestle so off I went to a few Chinese food emporiums and other shops around central Auckland, all to no avail. So back to the van and I let my fingers do the walking online and I soon found the perfect one, which also just so happened to be on sale! A quick trip into St Luke’s shopping mall and this is the result

20140311-095701.jpg My new acquisition made light work of grinding the spices and one small batch of chutney was made. Next on the to-do list was a Brinjal Kasundi, an Indian Eggplant relish which is particularly delicious with ham. Then it was time to make a Bernice special – a Tomato Chilli Relish that I accidentally invented a year or two ago. It came about by making a batch of tomato relish and at the same time a tomato chilli relish, however, the former was far too sweet for my taste and the latter much too hot, so I combined the two to make a delicious relish. The methods of making were quite different from each other so I rewrote a combined recipe by tweaking both a little here and there resulting in a delicious relish/chutney just how we like it.

20140311-165702.jpga selection of today’s makings.

Now we are making another batch of the Chilli tomato relish as it is a particular favourite, and also a batch of a tomato red pepper chutney.

20140311-165834.jpgmise en place

With all this pickling and relishing I began to wonder, what is exactly the difference between a pickle and a chutney and a relish? According to some wise chap – Chutney is an ancient condiment that originated in India thousands of years ago. The men of science and wisdom, the Brahmins, had discovered the healthful qualities of spices. Foods could be made to last much longer without spoiling by cooking rich mixtures of spice into them. It was considered a blessing of the gods that the foods also became more delicious to eat.
A relish is a cooked or pickled, chopped vegetable or fruit food item which is typically used as a condiment. The item generally consists of discernible vegetable or fruit pieces in a sauce, although the sauce is subordinate in character to the vegetable or fruit pieces. It might consist of a single type of vegetable or fruit, or a combination of these, and the fruits or vegetables might be coarsely or finely chopped, but generally a relish is not as smooth as a sauce-type condiment, such as ketchup. The overall taste sensation might be sweet or savory, hot or mild, but it is generally a strong flavor that adds excitement to or complements the primary food item it is served with.

Although chutneys might be considered a type of relish, Crosse & Blackwell defines the difference between chutneys and relishes as follows: “Chutney is typically made with fruit; relish is normally made with vegetables.”

Hmmm….does that make sense to you? Anyway, don’t get me started on what is a jam, jelly, preserve or conserve, we could be here for a while!

More visitors

March 9, 2014

It didn’t take long for us to slip back into our usual routines once Alex had returned to the UK. And for those who asked, yes she arrived home safe and sound albeit very very exhausted after a week of non stop travel, partying, wedding, and family. It took us a day or so to get used to not having anyone around us again, but not for long! On Thursday Pat & Sue joined us at Ambury in their new vehicle. They have gone from the 5th wheeler to a Mirada, just like ours. Well, not quite the same, theirs is a foot longer and is configured differently inside but they look pretty damn similar.

20140309-231740.jpghere we are parked up back to back, ours is on the right with the awning out, and theirs is on the left.

It’s lovely having them back with us, and now we have lots more in common.

Oh, and did you notice the tent in between the two vehicles in the picture? Well, that is our executive suite guest accommodation reserved for special folk that come to visit ;). And on Friday we were indeed having more guests arriving. This time it was Helen & Don from Oamaru, Blog followers will know that they are good friends from Oamaru, for whom we have also done a bit of housesitting for in the past. They flew into Auckland on Friday afternoon, we picked them up and took them back to Ambury where we enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon and evening with them along with Pat & Sue. In fact we were having so much fun catching up and talking that I completely forgot about taking any pictures! Slack, I know.

Saturday morning Helen & Don had to pick up their rental car and head off to a Cambridge where they were to meet their latest new grandchild. So it was certainly a flying visit, we are hoping that their next visit may be for a bit longer and in their Motorhome. Not hinting or anything!

The end of a visit

March 6, 2014

No sooner had she arrived in the country, she was off again. Alex arrived back to Auckland on Sunday after her trip to Gore for Lee & Matt’s wedding where she was Maid of Honour. According to all reports, the wedding went off without a hitch and they all had a fabulous time. Lee put in a huge effort for her wedding day, to the extent of even making the unusual but beautiful bouquets.

20140305-231213.jpgButton bouquet.
Roy and I picked up Alex from the airport on Sunday evening where we then headed straight into Mt Eden for a family dinner. We were joined by Simon & Anita, Antony, Jacky & Chris (honorary family members). We enjoyed a lovely evening before heading on back to our van parked at Ambury Regional Park. Although we did witness an “interesting” event in the carpark as we were leaving, not that I can explain in detail here as it is x-rated!!!

Monday and we headed into Jacky’s to get Alex’s washing and drying done before she packed. That accomplished, Antony joined us and we headed off to the Fish Market downtown for a spot of lunch. Niece Erin just so happens to work not far from the market. A quick phone call later and she also joined us for a spot of lunch.

20140305-232820.jpgFrom L, Alex, Jacky, Roy, Antony and Erin

20140305-232828.jpg same as above except Jacky and I swapped places.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by and before we knew it, it was time to head out to the airport. This is always the hardest part of any visit, but we steeled ourselves and bade a fond farewell knowing that we would see Alex again in October.

Wedding day

March 2, 2014

Saturday dawned cloudy, with some overnight showers however we were optimistic that the weather would improve as the day went on. The morning was spent setting out tables, decorating and generally organizing things so that the day would go smoothly for Fran & Clive.

20140302-162608.jpgmarquee looking lovely.

20140302-162712.jpgtable setting
The bride arrive just as the clouds parted and the sun shone. Fran and her bridesmaids looked beautiful as they made their entrance for the formal part of the ceremony.

After the ceremony it was time to sign the certificates.

20140302-163321.jpgthen it was time for photographs and then the wedding breakfast and speeches followed by party time! Oh, but first time to cut the cake

Then it was party time…

20140302-163644.jpgSteve, father of the bride, enjoying the first dance. The rest of the night was spent dancing under the stars, a glorious end to a lovely day. All the best to Fran, Clive & Bea for the future together.