Archive for January, 2017

Mum’s the word

January 30, 2017

When your son is 32 and about to have surgery for his ACL and MCL repairs on his knee then a Mum does what a Mum does best, she hops into the car and heads to the other side of the city to look after him.  Antony was scheduled for surgery on Friday afternoon and with it being Auckland Anniversary weekend I knew the roads would be busy so I headed off down to his place in Papakura on Thursday ready for an easy trip into the hospital in Epsom on Friday.  

Midday Friday and we arrived at the hospital in plenty of time however we both commented on our way in that the southbound traffic on the motorway was starting to build up which made us think that the better way for me to return to Papakura would be through Mt Eden and onto the southwest motorway.  It’s just as well I know my way around Auckland reasonably well and can try and circumnavigate any traffic issues.   First, we got Antony admitted into the hospital and ready for his surgery which would be happening in a couple of hours time.  There was the usual medical things to attend to but  also the menu to fill out for his evening meal and breakfast tomorrow.

This was his evening menu choice….


Not bad eh? Mind you, I’m not so sure that dinner is high priority in ones mind after surgery, but as he had not eaten or drunk anything since the previous night then I guess he may be a tad peckish.

I left him in the care of the medical staff as there was no point in me waiting around as I could not really do anything and the surgeon would call me once Ants was in recovery to let me know how he got on.  I headed back throuh Mt Eden and onto the the south west motorway.  It was a trouble free, traffic free, run all the way along the motorway until approaching Manukau where, luckily, the electronic motorway info board was telling me that the southern motorway was blocked from Manukau south and I could see the traffic queued ahead of me for the on ramp.  So quick decision time, get off and head to Papakura over the back road.  Just as well I took this option  as the following was the sight from the Manukau overbridge looking north.


Looking south was even worse but I didn’t have time to take a photo of that. I found out later that there was a car on fire further south and all lanes were blocked.

Even so, my return trip took just over an hour whereas it is usually a 30minute journey.  It didn’t seem as though I had been back very long before the surgeon rang to tell me all was well and everything had gone to plan with the surgery and I could pick him up the following morning.  

It wasn’t too long after that that Ants rang me to tell me he was ok just a little groggy.  Later on he sent me a pic of his dinner…

And it doesn’t look bad either.

I returned the following morning, following the same route, and after been given all the instructions for wound dressing and with prescriptions to fill on the way home, we were soon on our way.

He has been a very good patient, and I am very sure that my calling in life was definitely NOT as a nurse,  especially the wound dressing stuff!  But I steeled myself and did the brave thing and changed the dressingbefore and during

 I am much better at other things and I have kept myself busy with washing, cleaning and lots of cooking as well as running around making sure He has everything he needs.  His freezer is now full of meals for when he’s back on his own and I return to the van.  But then it will be Dad’s turn to have a few days playing nurse.

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Windy summer

January 24, 2017

It was a little windy over the weekend, well, let’s be honest it’s been damn windy for the past couple of months or so it seems.  But the past weekend we were well warned of the impending weather “bomb” bringing with it torrential rain and high winds.

We took our awning down on Saturday afternoon, even though we are reasonably sheltered in our parking bay, everything else was put away in readiness for the forecast rain and wind.  Some campers who were scheduled to leave on Sunday, packed up a day early so they had dry gear to return home with…sensible people.  Steve came up for the evening as he and Roy were planning to go fishing in the morning, at this stage the wind was annoying but nothing too serious.  After dinner, we settled in to watch a movie, then the rain started and the wind started to pick up.  We watched campers scurrying around tying down tents with extra ropes, hammering in pegs and generally battening down the hatches.  

Time for an early night as the blokes were going to be up by 5.30am to go fishing.  By early evening the rain had settled in, the wind was buffeting us occasionally but generally speaking all was well. However I cannot sleep when the winds are so strong as I hear every creak, groan and crash, besides, I was concerned that the gazebo we had borrowed was getting a buffeted.  I was up and down I don’t know how many times, checking on it, then watching campers torch beams light up flapping tents with loose ropes flying.   At around 1am there was a huge gust of wind, the van rocked and I was sure I heard something so I get up yet again to investigate.  Sure enough the gazebo has been lifted, I yell at Roy to wake him up (who has slept through everything so far – the joys of being able to remove your ‘ears’), whilst he puts on some clothes I dash outside in my nightie.  Outside,  I find Steve trying to grapple the flipped gazebo and hold it away from his car as the legs of the gazebo just missed his car by millimetres.  Roy joined us and we wrestled the gazebo back to its rightful position and proceed to figure out how to take it down.  Not an easy task, in the dark, in the rain, with the wind at near gale force and none of us really knowing how the damn gazebo worked as when we had put it up on Christmas Eve we both had left it to others in th family to put it up !! Once we figured out that we could just snib the clips on each corner leg, we could walk the four corners in and fold it up nicely.  

It must have been strong gust of wind to pull these anchoring pins out of the ground!

A clothes peg used for size comparison

Roy then went on to help some of the campers whose tent had collapsed, taking with him extra ropes and  pegs.  I should admit here that I have Roy on a bit for collecting bits and pieces, especially tent ropes, the odd pole or two and a plethora of tent pegs, but I have to admit that the large bag of ropes, ties and pegs have now come in handy!!!!  These were used for the same campers who earlier in the day we had loaned our spare inflatable bed as they had forgotten the vital part for their air bed….the plug!  Poor people, apparently their tent leaked, then it collapsed,  in the end, they got in their car and went home leaving everything behind only to return in the morning to retrieve what remained.  Many other campers also decamped during the night as tents leaked, some got large rips in them and others just had had enough.  
By the time we got back to bed it was nearly 3am, the alarm went off at 5.15am and no, Roy does not hear it as he has his hearing aids out, so I wake, wake him up and then try and get back to sleep.  Needless to say very little sleep was had on Saturday night and Sunday night was definitely early to bed. But they guys did catch some snapper so all was not in vain.

Wildlife

January 20, 2017

It’s fair to say that being in a Sanctuary means that we are surrounded by lots of wildlife in one form or another.  Currently there are 4 pairs of Dotterels nesting on the beach, they build their nests right on the high tide mark which necessitates the nests having to be sandbagged to protect them from extra high tides and also to be roped off from humans who may decide to have an extra close look.  Dotterel are a threatened/nationally vulnerable species, here at Shakespear there have been 16 chicks hatched, of which 5 have been lost and 6 have fledged.  Some eggs were lost due to high tides, hooligans and other creatures so protection of their space is important.  The other day we had to move one lot of fencing which was protecting their patch as the dotterels had, in their wisdom, moved further along the beach.  

Can you spot the well camouflaged adults?

A close up view

 But first the had to get their chicks across the small creek…who knew that they could swim?


And a blurry close up

After we had set up the fencing, put up the signs, and made sure they were safe, the adult birds with chicks in tow, then proceeded to head back to their previous haunt further along the beach.  Since then they have moved between the two areas daily I guess trying to decide which one is best?

The Kereru, NZ wood pigeon, are feasting on the ripe Karaka  berries on the tree in front of our van, gorging themselves until they are almost too heavy to fly before taking off with the unmistakable sound of their wing beats to gain enough height and momentum to get back to their home.  

They also seem to enjoy the new growth on the kowhai tree growing at the rear of our van but they have not been left in peace to eat the leaves as we have seen Tui chasing and dive bombing the much larger Kereru until the pigeons fly off out of their way.  We have also seen Tui exhibiting similar behaviour toward a magpie, chasing it in a menacing manner, diving and swooping on the magpie until it’s forced from its flight to land, and then continually harassing it until it finally leaves the area.  

In the past two years two species of birds have been reintroduced to the Sanctuary, the Whitehead – which I wrote about its release into the park here, and Robins which were reintroduced last year and you can read a little about them here.  This year in the autumn Kiwi are being reintroduced into the Santuary which is fantastic news for all, but in particular, reward for all the hard work done by the rangers, staff and the numerous volunteers who put in hours of work throughout the year.

It’s not all bird life here though.  This fellow was dragged onto the beach after being found dead in the shallows by some undoubtably surprised swimmer.


It’s a bronze whaler shark, about 2m in length.  It was later recovered by DoC  and taken away for reasearch purposes.  It’s not something I would personally like to find whilst I am swimming!!

Signs of the times

January 15, 2017

 I have been taking pictures of interesting signs, the ones which have spelling mistakes, or apostrophes scattered in all the wrong places, or are just plain wrong, or funny or different. 

Here is a selection 

 The correct spelling of Whangarei is preceded by the word Port, and yes, it has since been corrected.
Cheaper to buy the single item price  x 2 than the so called “special”, I am not sure how you save  $1.98?
And who knew that there is now parking for those who qualify as seniors…….just as well one of this touring party qualifies!

  I apologise for the terrible photography but this picture was snapped in a hurry through a dirty windscreen.  Is it just me that finds it amusing that Access Road has no exit and has no water access?


And this sign is just plain annoying…please, please,  have the plane pointing in the direction of the turn off!

Techno upgrades

January 13, 2017

It’s a sad day when your headphones no longer work and you cannot fix them.  Damn, cos they were really good ones that Antony bought me a few years ago, and I really liked them as they were comfortable.  It seems that there is  a broken wire somewhere as first one ear piece had no sound, then it was both ear phones, although I did manage to get them working again intermittently if I wiggled the cord a bit and held it in the right place and hoped the wind didn’t change!  

In the end I gave up and headed off to buy a new pair, this time wireless headphones so no wires to break.  I don’t like the in-ear phones, they just annoy my ears besides one ear bud never seems to fit properly and they always fall out, after looking around and checking out different types and brands, in the end I went with the same brand and style of my previous ones.  

And they are brilliant, as well as being very comfortable they are very clever. Not only can I adjust the volume from the earpiece controls, I can also pause and restart whatever it is I am currently listening/watching.

Whilst I was in the store I happened to spy the new iPads, I currently have a mini iPad which has served me reasonably well over the past couple of years but I have run out of space in it.   I like it because it is just so much lighter than my previous iPads and it fitted comfortably in my handbag but of course the new iPads are just as light and thin….so yep, you guessed it I now have a new iPad, and cover of course, to go with the headphones. 

Waiting for its new cover to go on.

I am just going through the process of transferring everything off my old iPad to the new version.  Then I can wipe everything off the mini and donate it to a worthy cause – in this case, Antony!  As he has surgery and a long recovery coming up, he will be able to use it for watching movies and reading.

To top it all off, we have also purchased Chromecast, a device which allows us to stream wirelessly from our iPads directly to the TV.  Goodness, we won’t know ourselves soon.  We are certainly not missing usual TV watching at all, and certainly not missing ad breaks every 10 minutes.  


Of course summer is here now which means more time is spent swimming and being outdoors and away from devices, but I’m sure they will all be well utilised.

It’s a tough life

January 8, 2017

Whilst we have an abundance of sunshine throughout the summer months, it also means we have an abundance of power.  To raise a few dollars for the Shakespear Sanctuary we are “selling off” our excess power to campers so that they can charge their phones and other necessary devices, all for a gold coin donation which will go toward the cost of bringing Kiwi back to the sanctuary in March.  It costs several thousand dollars to bring each bird into the sanctuary so any funds we can raise will help a little.  Last year we did the same and raised several hundred dollars which went to bringing Robins back into the sanctuary.  

 One of the translocated  Robins with his personal identity leg bands.

The Robins have successfully bred this last spring, with many chicks having been successfully raised and fledged.  Let’s hope the same occurs with the Kiwi translocation.

Back to the money raising exercise. Some people seem to be glued to their devices all day,  every day, with some of the younger generation coming two or three times a day to charge up their phones.  And with most people using their phones as their camera to record their holiday pics, we get a good number of customers each day. 

 What usually occurs is that people come, plug in their phones and then they leave,  to return an hour or so later when the phones have charged.  This morning though we had a different sight, a young man came to plug in his phone, sat in Roy’s chair for a moment, next minute he was fast asleep!!


Seems he has a young family and wasn’t getting much sleep, so he caught a few winks in the relative quiet outside our van! 

Perhaps this  could be the start of another fundraising venture?  

We have data!

January 3, 2017

We have leapt into the real world and now have lots of internet data!  You see, up until a few months ago we have only had limited data (6GB/month) available through the mobile phone network (at exorbitant rates) and to access more we have had to make use of free wifi spots at libraries and the like around the country to satisfy our internet needs or pay through the nose for extra data.  However, a few months ago we became aware that there were other options available.  

We waited until the dust settled on the debates around which options were best and which company to go with before making an informed decision on what was best for us. As loyal Vodafone customers we also approached Vodafone directly to see if they were offering a similar package, however, after many phone calls and checking with many levels of management it seems that yes, they do offer a package for their customers however their modem is geolocked which means you cannot use it outside a specific area.  And yes, they know about the other companies offerings and no, they are not about to offer similar services any time soon!  So guess what? They have now lost these loyal clients, and we have changed our phone plans which means we are saving ourselves plenty, well, enough to boost the happy hour funds!  

With now just the two other options (and yes, we understand Spark is also trialling a similar system) we had to make a choice on which company to go with.   Both options are utilising the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) which is the government’s initiative to provide fast broadband to areas outside the urban copper and fibre networks. It uses long range fixed wireless towers to provide broadband coverage to receivers  within range. 

After much debate and checking out our options we have gone with a company called  Netspeed.  

We rang them to get ourselves sorted which was done quickly and efficiently.The modem arrived the next working day to our designated mail pick up point, where we returned with it to the van, plugged it in, another phone call to Netspeed to activate and voilà, instant internet access. As we already have a Yagi directional aerial set up for Vodafone, if it is required, but at this stage we have had no problems with access to good fast internet anywhere we have been. Although we have put it up whilst we are here at Shakespear as we are parked in a bay which is surrounded by trees and the signal is so much faster with the aerial up.


At the moment it sits on the sunscreen visor at the front and is plugged into the 12v adaptor.  We haven’t mounted it permanently as we have found that depending where we are in the country it works better in different locations in the bus. For example when we were at Rarawa, it worked best when it was located at the rear of the van in the bedroom.  And whilst we are here at Shakespear it doesn’t get moved, nor does it get turned off!

Now we don’t know ourselves, having gone from only having 6GB a month to 120GB peak hours plus another 50Gb off peak (10pm – 6am – perfect for the lark of the touring party), we can watch movies, catch up on TV series and generally waste time to our hearts content 😉 and all for a similar price to what we were previously paying on our phone plans.   

We have also given up Sky TV (until the netball starts again!!), and as a result we have decided not to bother with a Freeview box either so we are a TV free zone and not missing it one iota.  We sometimes have a feed running from the computer to the TV to watch the news on demand, but most of the time we don’t bother.  

So if any of you have any recommendations of movies or series we should watch, then let us know.