Archive for March, 2015

Pickling and smoking

March 31, 2015

Whilst we have been helping Antony get settled into his new abode (read that as go shopping with Mum & Dad’s bank balance!!!) I have also taken the opportunity to get a bit of pickling done inbetween the shopping trips.  First though we had to go across to Mangere to our favourite market garden to buy our veges ready for the first lot of pickles. Beetroot was first on the agenda to be bottled as well as making zucchini pickle, and yes Alex, I know it’s your favourite, and yes, I’ll make you some beetroot pickle as well……maybe we can deliver it to you in London next year?!


 the completed pickles.

In between all the pickling and shopping, we had to sort out a washing machine for Ants.  His cousin Sarah had kindly given him her old machine and although it was playing up we presumed it would only be a quick fix.  Hmm,  how wrong were we!  First, there was the stuff that had blocked the pump which we managed to remove,  

 then there was the controller whIch kept coming up with an error code  

Apparently each of these lights are assigned a number,  which when added together indicate an error code, in this case error 37, which is a pump issue.  We also thought there was something wrong with the control panel itself so we called on friend Bill P who knows all about such things as he owns a company that fixes them .   I only wish I had taken a photo of  Roy, Antony and Bill at various stages with the machine out on the courtyard with water pouring out all over them, or when after putting it all back together  a picture of their faces when it went bang and flash!!! In the end,  Bill sorted out a mate to come round and replace the pump and test it all out, and guess what? it’s all go and the washing machine has been going flat out ever since and the washng lines are full. Oh what joy.   And I might just add that whilst the machine was in pieces, I cleaned out the bowl and all the other bits, it’s amazing what large amount of soapy gunky residue builds up on the machine only for it to eventually end up on your washing.  

One one of the shopping expeditions Roy called into a shop to see what was on offer and found something for himself – a cold smoker.  After trying out John’s one, he thought that one for us would be a good investment if he could find one, at the right price of course.  And this is what he found – at less than 1/3 of the original price.    

 Watch this space for the end result!  

One more night at the Papakura Club and tomorrow (Wednesday) we are off to Shakespear where we are again acting as camp hosts for the Easter break and the school holidays.  

Good luck comes in threes

March 28, 2015

We thought we had used up our luck after the simple fix to our brake light  issues in Whakatane and we were certainly not expecting our luck to continue in Kopu.  The van was booked in to have a troublesome hydraulic jack remove and the suspected bent spike removed and a replacement one manufactured.  So early Monday morning the van was duly delivered to the hydraulic repair shop which also just happens to be next door to the RV repair shop where we were going to have a new seal installed around the slide out.  

Whilst the van was in the workshop we took the opportunity to go for a bit of a tiki tour along the coast north of Thames.  It is a very scenic drive, twisting and turning along the coastline, and I mean right on the coast.  We were so enthralled with the road and the scenery that we neglected to take any photos of us exploring the bays along the way.  We did take note of the number of Freedom camping areas set aside in most of the way along our route, all duly noted for a return journey at another time.  We only went as far as Tapu before deciding we had best return to see what was happening with the van and to make sure we were not going to be haemorrhaging money!!!  

On our return we were greeted with the sight of the van all ready for us, oh dear we thought, perhaps the job was soo big that they decided to discuss it with us before going any further but no, we were in luck.  Apparently the spike was not bent, all it required was a quick clean and grease before resinstalling and voila, it works perfectly! 

The new seal had been ordered but wasn’t due in until Tuesday morning so we were sent on our way with instructions to remove the old seal and clean off all the residue to expedite the job the following day.  That we did, although I do have to say that I thought that our work with the sticky black Simsons sealer was messy but this was just as bad if not worse with sticky gunk getting everywhere.  The next morning we were back at the workshop where they quickly were  onto installing the new seal. Whilst they were dealing with the slide out, we mentioned the fact that the  mechanism had been playing up and sometimes it was very difficult to retract the slide out.  Again, expecting to be told that something major was wrong, all that was required was a little greasing of the working mechanism, with instructions on when and how to do this regularly.  Phew! Another lucky escape.  It was then a short wait for the Electrical Warrant of Fitness to be done.

With ticked off the list,  we headed off to Waharau Regional Park, one of our favourite places which is just north of Kaiaua ready to settle in for the rest  the day to watch the cricket – NZ Blackcaps vs the South African Proteas for a place in the World Cup final.  Well, what a game of cricket keeping us all on the edge of our seats right down to the very end.  We are avid cricket fans, and we have very fond memories of the 1992 World Cup where we attended most of the games played at Eden Park.  We put the win down to good play rather than our luck continuing!

just a couple of nights at Waharau before it was time to head off again, but not before getting all the washing done and household chores attended to  whilst Roy went off fishing for the day.  He did manage to catch a few snapper but they were all of the “return to sea and grow a little” variety. Next stop is at Ardmore Airport where we are for a few days whilst we help our son Antony put together his new house.  This means an awful lot of time spent in shops  and on TradeMe looking for everything required for a house from whitewear to furniture to cutlery and kitchenware.  It’s exhausting but we are getting there.


March 23, 2015

Whilst we have been here in Whakatane we have managed to get lots of little, and not so little, jobs done.  The sealing around all the lockers, windows and joins on the van with the sticky black Simsons Sealer product is finally finished.  Don’t  ask me why but for some reason the black stuff seems to get everywhere and onto everything but the white product doesn’t! I think they call it something like ‘Sod’s Law’.  There was also an attempt to straighten the road sweeper that is attached to the back of the van. after an altercation with an inanimate object some time ago. It has been a little lower on one side but attempts to jack it up were not terribly successful but a good effort was made.  Lots of other little jobs have been completed, silly little things like reattaching the wire to the waste cap so it cannot be left behind anywhere, and fixing locker latches etc.  I even broke out the sewing machine to make some slip covers for the chairs, oh and not forgetting getting major things done like the upholstery.  All in all a very good couple of weeks well spent.  

In the middle of our time in Whakatane there was of course Cyclone Pam.  The storm had devastating effects on islands such as Vanuatu, so we were preparing ourselves for strong winds and torrential rain. We moved off the grass onto hard ground and made sure we were protected as much as possible from potential high winds, filled the water tanks and made sure everything was battened down.  However, it turned into more of a storm in a tea cup than a major storm and certainly nothing like what we experienced last year at Whanaknaki.  Yes the sea was very rough with an impressive large swell running and the bar entrance into Whakatane was closed for some time but we really didn’t have any strong winds or the lashings of rain – thank goodness.

A day or so after the storms passing we headed off to Opotiki with John, first stopping off at Jude’s place in Waiotahi to make sure all was well there.  Then it was off to the Two Fish Cafe in Opotiki for brunch.  Now it is not often that I can highly recommend somewhere for a really good coffee but the Two Fish Cafe serves probably one of the best coffees in NZ, certainly in the top three in any case.  Not only was the coffee fabulous but the food was great as well.  We loved the quirky style of this cafe, and if you are ever heading toward Opotiki, call in for a real treat, you’ll not be disappointed.

After two and a half weeks of being in Whakatane it was time to move on.  Thursday morning and we were all packed up and ready to go at a reasonable hour, just hook up the RAV and check the lights.  Bugger, the lights aren’t working, so after some fiddling, spraying contacts, attacking things with screwdrivers, we headed off into Whakatane to the auto electrician so they could check it all out for us.  But wouldn’t you know it? as soon as we got there, everything worked just fine!  But to make sure, we got them to check everything out, lo and behold, there was a problem…..insert here techno babble for whatever was wrong, something about a wire with low, or was that high? resistance, switches and relays …… The park lights were very dull.  Not that that is necessarily a problem as we try to avoid driving at night at all times,  but best to sort it out now.  After much testing and removal of one of the dash panels, they finally find the fault.  The park lights were wired up to the dashboard dimmer switch!  How had we not found that out before now?  Anyway, wires were cut, rejoined in the right place and after a couple of hours we were on our way.  And we must praise here the business involved – Langleys Auto Electrical – as all that was done for next to nothing with no waiting around and they were very pleasant to deal with.

  Dashboard dismantled.

We finally headed out of Whakatane to Tauranga where we spent a night there before heading on to Kopu (near Thames)  for a couple of nights as the van is booked in on Monday for a repair/replacement hydraulic stabiliser jack to be made as well as getting a new seal ordered for around the slide out.  The Electrical WoF will also be done whilst we are here.

Finally, many many thanks to John and Jude for the lovely goodies they gave us, particularly as it was so unexpected.  We look forward to enjoying all the lovely drinks (so pleased we introduced them to Pedro Ximinez), chocolates, Al Brown Oils and dressings that were all packaged up so neatly in a flax kit bag – which John tells me is one from the fishing shop in Scarborough where Dad used to buy all his gear from.   We are more than happy to return for more house sitting duties when required!

Getting covered

March 16, 2015

We thought it was about time, time to get covered or should that be recovered.  Our two front seats i.e. the drivers seat and passengers seat had started to become rather worn and were starting to look a little worse for wear.  So whilst being parked up at John & Jude’s we took the opportunity to have them recovered with the most difficult task choosing the  material and agreeing upon our choice!  

First we had to remove the seats from the van.

Roy was on his knees, then…

Flat out on the floor.

Off the chairs were taken to the upholsterer here in Whakatane and after a week, we headed off to pick them up and reinstall them.  

Here are the before and after shots

As you can see,  a marked improvement on the old coverings.  

We have also done away with the skirt around the base of the chairs, as they did not really serve any purpose and looked messy.  Now they are much neater and streamlined.  

Whilst the chairs were out of the van I took the opportunity to upholster the lift up desk in the dashboard.  I had a piece of material left over from the seat in the lounge which I also used previously to cover the headboard, which you can read about  here.  And hour or so later and it is looking much better.

I can’t lay my hands on a before photo but there is one here from when we first had the work done on the inside of the van.  NB that the inside out looking piece of material is the glove box insert.  When the desk top is folded down then the original hard glovebox would not allow the top to close, so I made a cloth one in its place.

All in all a nice tidy up. 

Cooking up a storm

March 13, 2015

John & Jude returned from their trip to Melbourne last Saturday, only to head off again on Wednesday for a fishing competition off Whitianga which means we are still here in Whakatane minding the ranch.  Not that we mind as wehave not been completely idle, we have been cooking up a storm.  By that, I don’t mean that it has anything to do with the impending arrival of Cyclone Pam, just that we have been busy in the kitchen.

Myrtle, Mabel and Mildred(the hens) have kept us well supplied with fresh eggs every day.  I used some of the eggs to add to the Passionfruit proliferation by making some Passionfruit Curd as well as some Passionfruit Syllabub.  The hens give us one egg each a day but on one particular day, one of them obviously decided to give us an egg the size of the other two together!!

We are unsure which of the hens is responsible for this monster, but it was a double yolker.   Roy has also been busy in the kitchen,  both inside and out.  John has a cold smoking unit as well as a large hot smoker, but it is the cold smoker in which we have put to good use.  First there was the making of some pastrami,  giving it a burst in the cold smoker before steaming it.

He also made a batch of bacon, also using the cold smoker – oh and of course John’s electric slicer to neatly slice it all up.  We then packaged it all up into portion sizes and vacuum packed it ready to stack neatly into our small freezer. I neglected to take any photos of this process.  Howeve we did buy ourselves a new vacuum sealer as our other one had decided to die on us.  The vacuum sealer is very handy for us in the van as we can repackage everything that goes into the freezer into portion sizes as well as being able to efficiently stack much more into the small space.  Not to mention being able to seal up smelly fish bait!

Another day and we decide it’s time to make some fresh pasta.  I had purchased a new Pasta machine last year but the other day I finally found a pasta drying rack which pulls apart and packs away neatly into a small box thus not taking up too much room. Now there is no excuse to making fresh pasta.  It hardly took any time at all before we had beautiful silky pasta for our dinner.  With a simple sauce of lemon, oil garlic and rocket, it was a delicious, light and quick evening meal.  

And then there was a batch of mint sauce to make (with mint jelly on the to-do list), this did not take more than half an hour to make which included sterilising the bottles and lids as well as making the sauce, with the longest time spent of chopping the mint.  Now we have plenty of mint sauce to accompany the traditional roast lamb.

Pickles and relishes are also on the to-do list but these will be done once we are back through Auckland so that we can go to our favourite market gardens in Manukau to pick the produce required.  Watch this space!

PS.   it’s our wedding anniversary today – 33 years, and yes, I was a child bride 😉


March 3, 2015

fruit!  John has a very prolific Passionfruit vine so it only seems right that I do something with them. First of all I froze a heap of the pulp in ice cube trays for later use.

And another large lot was processed into syrup and bottled

Another lot has been made into Passionfruit Gelato.  

And yes John, your freezer and pantry has its fair share of the spoils.  I am now passionfruited out!  


I have a problem!

March 1, 2015

Hello, my name is Bernice and I am a neat freak/ironing ninja!!!  I admit it, I do have a problem.  I like my sheets to be; cotton, white and ironed thank you.  Although I must admit that over the past year or three whilst being on the road, the need for ironing the sheets (or anything really) has slowly diminished. However, whilst we are at John’s house sitting in Whakatane,  I decided I needed to tidy the linen cupboard so with everything out of the cupboard I took the opportunity to not only line the shelves with clean paper but also air and wash the linen.   Some things, like some of the pillowcases, need a bit of a soak and so I thought that I would break out a blue bag I had stashed away to really whiten the whites.  Blue bags you ask?  

Yes, I have a stash of theses old fashioned whiteners which are no longer commercially available, nor is the liquid version that we used to be able to buy called Bluo, although I do see that it is available in Australia.  For those of you who have no idea about Blue Bags and the like you can read more about it here.   Oh and they are also used as a remedy to put on bee stings. 

I have diluted the blue bag into a bottle of water so I can easily add the liquid to the rinse cycle of the wash.  Yes it does make a difference to whites, in particular making them appear whiter than white! 

With all this glorious sunshine and a nice breeze blowing I took  the opportunity to air and dry the washing on the line with the sunshine adding it’s own bleach-free whitening and sterilising properties ensuring that everything has that lovely fresh clean smell.  And after all it’s solar powered drying and it’s free! 

After a day on the line, all there was left to do was to iron everything.  I set the ironing board in front of the TV, after all there is Netball and Cricket to watch,  and proceeded to iron it all.  When we had the Lodge, I had the luxury of having laundry staff, namely Margaret, who did all the laundry, and in particular the ironing.  Margaret would dampen all the pillowcases then roll them up before leaving them for a few minutes before pressing them, and yes, I do the same using a spray bottle filled with water with the addition of little lavender oil.  By dampening the articles the wrinkles are much easier to iron out and makes the whole process a lot quicker.  

Ironing in progress

The completed pile.

And for those of you who want to know how to fold a fitted sheet easily and neatly, I am willing to share my tricks of the trade – for a price 😉.   It’s not too difficult but it does take a little practise and if you really want to know how then check out this clip

Everything put away in its right place with the sheets folded into sets i.e. a fitted sheet with matching pillowcases folded inside the flat sheet all ready to go ……and yes, I do have another “problem” with labelling!!!!. But that’s another story.