Archive for December, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

December 31, 2016

It’s always interesting to look back to see what we have done over the past year, and this year has been just as interesting and as fun as ever.

After finishing our camp hosting duties as Shakespear we headed off southwards to the southern most point on the North Island, extensively explored the Wairarapa, checked out every beach along the southern east coast and Hawkes Bay before heading north to the northernmost part of the North Island as well as points in between. We have met lots of new people, met up with friends both from long ago and more recent and from near and afar.  We have wined & dined, from first class to basic with the most memorable meals  being the ones shared with good friends.

We have had great success this year fishing and catching, catching enough to feed us and to share with others as well as stock the freezer.  

We have met up with family along the way, not an easy task coming from a large family but we do try and keep in touch with all of the generations.  We have welcomed a long awaited daughter for Roy’s son Simon & wife Anita, which makes that a total of 5 grandchildren – so far…..no pressure kids!! We also welcomed three other great nieces this year – at the last count we are up to 11 nieces, 3 nephews, 12 great nieces, 12 great nephews and 2 great great nieces and one great great nephew.  Phew! 

We are both fortunate that we have experienced good health over the past year (long may it last), and apart from the odd accidental injury, our children and grandchildren are healthy as well.

We bade farewell to some good friends over the year, we remember them all fondly and especially the memories we share.

As we look forward to 2017 we know we have plenty to look forward to, culminating with a trip to the UK & Europe later in the year, a trip which we are just a little excited about.  

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of our set up this year at Shakespear, complete with our own Pohutakawa resplendent in all its Christmas colours.


Here’s wishing you every good health and happiness and all the best for 2017.

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Christmas 2016

December 28, 2016

Christmas has been and gone for another year. 

We celebrated it with some of the family on Christmas Eve with my brother Steve and wife Leslie setting up camp behind the van and we also put up our tent for our son Antony who joined us for a few days.  Steve and Les’ three daughters, husbands and children all came out for the day as well as one of my sister Hilary’s daughters, Amy.

The planning started well before hand, with the menu sorted and organised with input from everyone, all should go easily and smoothly on the day.  To add to our planned menu, Ranger Bruce arrived the night before bearing a gift of a side of freshly caught Kingfish Kingfish prior to being cleaned up. 

The kingfish was boned and cut into portions with half of it smoked on Christmas Eve to add to our lunch of glazed Ham, Moroccan spiced Lamb Leg, garlic & rosemary roasted potatoes, lemon zuchinni & asparagus with goats cheese, baby leaf salad with baby tomatoes, snow peas, radishes, seeds and white balsamic dressing.  But to start off the proceedings a large sharing platter was laid down the length of the tables artfully arranged on large banana leaves; cheeses, pates, dips, truffle cured lomo, hot smoked salmon, capers, relishes, crackers and breads completed the feast.   

Once everyone arrived we got into the present opening.  Every year we do a secret Santa present for each of the adults with everyone buying a gift to a pre agreed value, before pulling numbers out of a hat and taking turns choosing a present BUT once you open your gift, you can choose to either keep it or exchange it with someone else’s already opened present.  It adds much hilarity to the proceedings.

Shaun getting assistance opening his present

Steve and Sarah watch Amy open her gift.


Steve trying to swap his gift

Discussing options
 The youngest family members Georgia and Emily having a chat

Once the adults have their turn, then it’s time for the families to exchange gifts

Asher and Ben opening their gifts from Erin

Christmas time for our family also heralds lots of birthdays, with Christmas Eve being Finn’s 6th birthday.  

Finn and his cake with his mum Sarah looking on
Blowing out the candle

And to show that Antony does get to hold a baby occasionally

Antony and Georgia
Later in the afternoon we had dessert which comprised of a sharing platter of; passionfruit meringues, fresh strawberries, chocolate brownies, white chocolate blondies, berry coulis, apricot tartlets, and coconut yoghurt.  It was all beautifully laid out to resemble a Xmas wreath complete with mint leaf garnishes, as usual I forgot to take any pictures and of course there was birthday cake as well. 

Everyone had to leave by late afternoon so the evening was spent very quietly with a ham sandwich for dinner.  Christmas Day we feasted again with a boned turkey which was stuffed with a cranberry stuffing and brined.  We cooked it on the BBQ and I have to say it was damn delicious complete with gravy, cranberry sauce and roasted veg.  And some people think that we don’t eat well living in a motorhome!

Wishing you all safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for 2017.

I shall leave you with this view of the Pohutakawa as viewed through the bedroom window in the van which will be a stark contrast to the white Christmas we shall experience next year in the northern hemisphere.

Christmas is for kids

December 23, 2016

It’s that time of the year again and it’s amazing just  how quickly it rolls around these days, it must be a sign of the times.  But what makes Christmas time so much better is seeing the look on the faces of kids when they see something special.  

Our dear friend Diana always decorates her house, both inside and out, for the festive season so I asked if I could take along my great niece and nephews to have a look. I have 4 great nieces and nephews in Auckland whose ages range from 3 through to 9 which is the perfect ages for that special Christmas magic to enthrall.

We arrived while it was still quite light outside but the kids were keen to get there.  Inside the trees are decorated in all their splendorous glory, they look even more amazing once it’s dark and the lights come on but I am afraid I forgot to take any decent pictures at that stage…..the imbibing of  a little Christmas cheer probably assisted in my forgetfullness.



And a snowman


But of course it is once it is dark that everything really comes to life


 



The kids are still talking about it, and of course the look on their faces when Paul gave them a balloon each was priceless.  And they were totally blown away when they were given a gift each as well.  Thank you so much Diana & Paul for your hospitality and kindness, it all goes to making very special Christmas memories for us all.

First weeks at Shakespear

December 21, 2016

Look – there’s a man on the roof of the van.  

Indeed Roy was on the roof of the van, fixing a small leak we discovered during a recent downpour before it became a major issue and then he gave the roof a good scrub.

Once the roof was cleaned of course the rest of the van had to be washed as the dirty water from the roof had run down the sides of the van making it all look rather messy, especially the windows so they got a good clean.  So that’s another one of the jobs ticked off the list, especially the list that has been made up of ‘when we get to Shakespear’ items.  

The next item on that particular list was to crack open all the Macadamia nuts we had gathered when we were further north at this gem of a place.  There was a large macadamia tree on the roadside and it seemed a shame to let the rats & mice have them all so a container of nuts were picked.  

Macadamia nuts are notoriously difficult nuts to crack open, and after checking with Mr Google and watching a few YouTube clips and trialling many methods of opening them, the best method we could come up with was to hold the nut with a pair of vice grips, and hammer the nut.  But the hammering needs to be done on a firm solid surface, we tried a few things including the the table but that was no good, what did we find to use?   The solid plate metal base of our camp host sign of course!


A close up of the process. 

A few other minor tasks have been completed and we are now looking forward to some good weather, good company, and lots of fun over the summer.  

Blooming lovely

December 19, 2016

Oh how I love the drive into Shakespear, you drive up the hill to the pest proof fence and wait for the pest proof gates to open and let us in, once through the gates a little further along toward the  brow of the hill we catch a first glimpse of a sign mown into the paddock.


The number 5 denotes the fact that Shakespear has now been 5 years pest free, a great achievement especially for all who continue to work hard to maintain the park.  Early 2017 will see the reintroduction of Kiwi to the sanctuary, congratulations to all those hard working staff and volunteers who are making this happen.

Once over the hill we get a good view down over Te Haruhi Bay and we see the first glimpse of the pohutakawas in flower, it is truly a delightful sight.   

The entrance to the  campground  is lined with the trees and many of them are in full bloom. 

We have a Pohutakawa flowering at the front and rear of where we are parked within the campground, for some reason the trees are putting on a particularly grand display this year.


My favourite tree in the park is this one which is half red and half yellow


Who knew that there was a yellow Pohutakawa? 

In fact there are many colour variations, from almost a pink, through orange tones to red to crimson and there is one that is almost a browny/red.


Whatever their colour, they herald the start of summer and are glorious in all their colours. 

Cider Shed

December 15, 2016

A stop was planned half way through our journey from Uretiti to Shakespear but where were we going to pause? There are no too many places for us to easily pull off to the side of the road comfortably, although there were plenty of ideal spots on the right hand side of the road, but not many n the left. Just north of Warkworth we spied a suitable place ahead of us on the left. And what’s more,  there just happened to be a cafe there, perfect for a coffee….or perhaps a little something stronger? 


Ample parking on the side of the road for the motorhome and the towed RAV4.

And inside the gate, this is what awaits, with plenty of parking for smaller vehicles too

We wandered in and were warmly greeted by the owner.  Hmmm, something to eat as well perhaps? It was really only late morning, an early lunch or just a bite to go with the coffee.  Ok, just a nibble to tide us over.  We decided against trying the cider this time, but it all sounded rather tasty.


The meals that went past us to other customers looked very nice too.

With large covered decks around the outside as well as play areas for children, and a lovely looking grassed area for sitting in the sun, it looked like a great place to spend some time.  


We will definitely stop here again on our way past and we will have try out a meal and even a bit of their cider.

Uretiti 

December 7, 2016

We had just one night stay in Kerikeri after leaving Kaitaia, and we ended up at the NZMCA site at Rainbow Falls as our usual parking place is now no longer available.  It was our first stay at Rainbow Falls as previously the site has been too wet and boggy for us to stay but recently some of the grounds have had a scoria base applied.

Parked up on a firm base.


In the middle of the parking area, the local committee built the shed as a replica of the Cape Reinga lighthouse.  Most NZMCA parks have a small shed where you sign in, collect information about the surrounding area and where there is often a book & magazine exchange.  Here at Kerikeri they have also undertaken planting of citrus trees along the boundary  fence lines, which is a great idea for members.  There is a lovely herb garden around the lighthouse where I must admit I gathered a good handful of parsley and mint rather than raid my own supplies.  

Roy caught up with Stuart for the afternoon whilst I used up some of our Internet data!  

From Kerikeri we headed for Uretiti DoC camp just south of Whangarei, where we met up with Pat & Sue as well as a few other motorhoming friends – Brian & Marj, Craig & Glennis, Jo to name a few.  


Parked up at Uretiti where the grass has already browned off. The long white sandy beach is just behind the van over the sand dunes.  

Jacky & Chris came to visit and it was great to catch up with them before we get settled in around Shakespear and the greater Auckland region and before the silly season kicks into effect.  

We tried a couple of times to go fishing off the beach but the wind decided not to play and seemed not to go the right way for us, so the fishing gear has been put away ready to be brought out at a later date.  Meanwhile we have plenty of fish in the freezer to keep us going for a while.

On Sunday we had a very nice farewell champagne breakfast with Pat & Sue before they left on their odyssey south.  After travelling together for nearly 6 months it seems a little strange not to have them around, but it’s testament to a good friendship that  after all that time together we are still good friends and we look forward to meeting up with them again next year.