Archive for May, 2017

Uretiti & Ruakaka

May 26, 2017

After finishing with appointments around Auckland we headed back to the van at Uretiti.  Uretiti is a Department of Conservation run camp on the beach in Bream Bay just south of Whangarei.  


It’s a lovely long beach that stretches 10kms from the Waipu River mouth in the south to the Ruakaka River mouth in the north.  

It’s a long sandy beach and is popular to fish from with lots of people trying their luck via various methods of fishing, either with surf casting, torpedos or kites. The wind was favourable for us to try our luck with our kite on a couple of occasions.
Somewhere out there is a little speck which is our kite.
We did have a little success and caught these three lovely snapper one afternoon.


Whilst at Uretiti we went into Maungaturoto one day for lunch with friends Jacky & Chris as we will be housesitting for them at Whakapirau in a couple of months time.  We also managed to catch up with Mark & Glennis who have just bought a property in Ruakaka and caught up on all their news.  After we had a week at Uretiti, we looked at the weather forecast which was not brilliant so we decided that we would head to Ruakaka just a few minutes down the road to the camp ground  for a week and enjoy being connected to the grid for a change.  

Here we are all set up nicely for the week.

The view from the bedroom window looking acrodd to Whangarei Heads.

The weather hasn’t been conducive for fishing so far but we did go for a look at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery information centre which is just 5minutes along the road.  It was a very interesting place to visit with a huge model of the plant and video information about the construction and refinery process.  We were told that the model of the plant took four people two years to build at a cost of around $1million and this was in the 1980’s! Goodness knows what it would cost today.There are information boards, audio visual material and models throughout the complex and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Our current plans are that we will stay at Ruakaka until Wednesday before heading back to Uretiti when hopefully the weather will have settled and the wind is off shore for some good fishing.

Mothers Day 

May 18, 2017

Mother’s Day rolled round and as usual we had little planned as we are not into the whole commercialisation of the day, however, I was invited to share a Mother’s Day lunch with my sister-in-law Leslie, and her three daughters Sarah, Erin & Frances (they make a reasonable substitute for you Alex! and Antony was coming over later for a visit, for some reason he didn’t want to join all us ladies for lunch?!).  

We headed off to KissKiss in Balmoral for a lovely northern Thai lunch.  A lively bright, colourful setting with quirky touches such as the cocktail menu was in old-school viewfinders…..we all had to indulge in a cocktail of course.  

 Sarah & Fran at the back, Erin and I at the front.

Sarah & Erin on the left with Leslie & Fran on the right.
Lunch…



The food was excellent, the company brilliant and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  As it was such a beautiful day we headed into Mt Eden for a glass of vino, sitting out in the sun enjoying ourselves.  Thank you for inviting me along to share, it was a laugh and a half. 

Ear, hear, ‘ere.

May 12, 2017

A few weeks ago Roy was out fishing with Steve when whilst trying to retrieve a fish off the line with the net, one of Roy’s hearing aids got flicked out and was duly deposited into the sea.  Oh no!   But more importantly they got the fish, a decent sized one at that too!! 

Over the next few days came the task of phone calls to insurance companies, then the hearing specialists with appointments made to have the aid replaced.  After a week or two of waiting to hear from the insurance company we were finally notified that all was ok and to go ahead to have the aid replaced so off we went to the Audiology centre.  Of course regular readers will know what is coming next…….. in true Vannini fashion, it wasn’t going to be that easy.

Roy went to his appointment expecting to be given a new hearing aid but no…apparently the old aids are no longer available as they have been superseded and as well they are “paired”  to each other so a replacement was out of the question instead he now needed a complete new set.  Eeek, this is turning into an expensive fishing expedition!  However, between the audiology centre and the insurance company they came to a mutual agreement, unbeknown to us, that  a complete new set of hearing aids was essential and should be covered by our policy.  Hence a new set of aids had to be prepared and set up which meant another appointment was made to have them fitted.

A week later we trundled back across the bridge to have the new hearing aids fitted.

Roy having the new aids tested and set up correctly….all done by computer!  

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Just like his old aids, they are pretty hard to see when he is wearing them as all you can see is a fine, clear tube going into his ear, it almost looks like a piece of fishing line….or a grey hair! with a very small piece which is fitted over the back of his ear and is only obvious if you are looking for it.  

Very close up view of the fine wire disappearing inside the ear.

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The new aids are really flash and are very, very, clever.  They are bluetoothed to any or all of our iOS devices which means Roy can have his phone and iPad linked directly to the aids.  The controls for the aids are on his phone as well via an app he has downloaded.  Each hearing aid has individual volume controls for each ear, which can be controlled either by the controls on the aids themselves or via his phone, as well as adjusting bass, treble etc.   This technology also enables him to stream movies/podcasts directly to his hearing aids. He can also change programs and  they have a sound enhancer so he can adjust them for when he is in a crowd, he can alter them specifically for speech by focussing the direction, they have a wind noise adjustment, and even a tinnitus manager!! and a white noise input with noise cancelling ability.  As well he can have it so that when his phone rings,  it rings straight out the hearing aids.  BUT the best thing of all is they have a finder-search function for each individual aid and a last location finder!!!  That will be a godsend particularly when one gets lost as he did in this instance.    I tell you, they are pretty damn clever and his hearing will of course be better too.

His old hearing aids were bluetoothed to a device which was attached to the TV but these days we don’t use the TV.  Rather, we have been watching most things on the iPads by using a splitter plug, with Roy’s headphones plugged into one connection and a small external speaker in the other port for me.   However, this is all about to change.   Currently one device at a time can be attached via Bluetooth to any one device so for instance Roy can listen to something via his hearing aids but I cannot connect to the same device with my wireless headphones.  However, help is on its way as we can get a Bluetooth splitter device.  This has been ordered and is on its way and should arrive any day.  With the splitter Roy can have his hearing aids tuned in and I can use my wireless headphones and we can each have the volume adjusted to our own preferences.  Clever eh?! 

He has had them for a few weeks now with just one return visit  to the audiologist in Auckland to have one of the aid levels adjusted as it was creating a bit of feedback noise.    We have since been at Uretiti enjoying the sunny north when one day Roy decided he needed to change the grommet on the aids.  The grommet is the very small, black, rubberlike device that sits in the ear canal and I do mean small. Combined with large fingers the outcome was not going to be great. 

Yep, you guessed it, next minute we are crawling around the floor to try and find a dropped piece.  And yes, our flooring is black, and no we could not find it.  We even resorted to vacuuming the entire floor and then seiving through the detritus to try and find the elusive little thing.  However, we had no luck in finding it.  This whole scenario repeated itself a couple of days later with the same result.  Obviously he was doing something wrong so as we were heading into Whangarei the following day we thought we would call into the local branch of Bay Audiology to see if they could help.  Besides, he was having a bit of trouble with one of the aids sitting uncomfortably in the ear so they could sort that out as well.

Off we went into Whangarei and straight to Bay Audiology, where on inspection they said, wait a minute, there is a grommet stuck in your ear! No wonder things were not feeling comfortable!  We then had to go to another specialist hearing place to have the offending grommet removed safely.  Luckily they had a free appointment later in the morning so we made our way there.  Yes, he had a grommet stuck in his ear which was easily retrieved with a specialised tool, but hello? What’s this? Yep, you guessed it, there was not one, but two grommets stuck in there!!! No wonder the hearing wasn’t the best in that ear with two stuck grommets and a third in the actual hearing aid making things sound decidedly muffled!  I told you things were never straight forward with the Vannini’s!  

In between all of this, he had to have an MRI on one ear to make sure that there is nothing sinister making the hearing in one ear  deteriorate much more rapidly than the other.  The MRI has cleared that up with the hearing loss being put down to natural deterioration.  However, the specialist has sent us away with brochures on cochlear implants as apparently that is the next step.  But at this stage we shall just wait and see how things go as his hearing as it is much better now with the new aids.

So no longer will you see Roy going off on his walks with his headphones on connected via a wire to his iPhone whilst he is listening to podcasts, you will just see him wandering along……just don’t try to talk to him as he will probably be intently listening to a podcast. 

Canoe polo

May 9, 2017

In between appointments the other day we had a couple of hours to spare, and right outside the Audiology clinic in Takapuna they told us that the Master Canoe Polo event had just started and suggested we wander along to have a look.


We watched for some time, it is a very fast and very competitive sport, with five team members participating at any one time with a referee on each side of the playing area, you can see in the photos the refs walking along the floating board walk alongside the playing area.  The goal nets are suspended a few feet above the water at each end.

It was at times fast and furious with lots of jockeying for position and possession and seemed like a lot of fun.  The sport is akin to water polo and basketball played in kayaks, which can be played indoors or outdoors in a pool. The aim is to try and pass or block the ball to score into a suspended goal. It is suited to people who like rough and aggressive games and players are allowed to ram into each other’s kayaks. The ball can be blocked or flicked with the paddle, but by in large the ball is usually picked up and thrown. People assume that it is a kayaking sport, but it is a ball sport with kayaking thrown in.

There were teams playing from all over the world and it appeared to us that apart from the competitive side of things there was also lots of fun and friendship going on.  On checking the results, New Zealand did rather well as they were on the winning platform  in all classes and won gold in most.