Archive for April, 2019

Happy birthday & Easter

April 22, 2019

Another birthday rolls around, and as the number becomes larger we are forever grateful to know that the number is in fact increasing, much like the waistlines!

We left Matata DoC camp on Roy’s birthday, the Thursday before Easter and before Easter madness ensues with everyone out and about hoping to enjoy the last of the good weather. As well, this year the school holiday break is the week either side of Easter so it promised to be a busy old time, especially on the roads. We weren’t going far though, just a few kms down the road to John’s place just out of Whakatane. But first a slight detour to Edgecumbe to dump before we park up at John’s.

Here we are all parked up in relative peace and quiet on the driveway to the house surrounded by fields.

and as you can see, the weather is playing nicely too.

We celebrated Roy’s birthday with a nice rib eye steak for dinner with veg from the garden, all washed down with a Moët.

I really must teach you some decent plating skills John!!!

Cheers!

To finish off there was a Pedro Ximinez, a drink that we introduced to John & Jude some time ago, and one we all really enjoy. So much so that when we were in Spain just over a year ago we just had to make a special trip to Jerez and do a tasting or two.

this picture was taken in Jerez, at the Lustau Bodega where Roy and I enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon tasting 14 sherries, vermouth and Pedro. We came away feeling very happy I can assure you, just as well we were catching the train back to our accommodation in Seville.

A lovely end to another lovely day here in the very quiet surrounds of John’s 10 acre lifestyle block (more about the block in a later blog ).

Chum, the black lab, comes to visit us most mornings. As well as bringing a ball for us to throw he also bring us oranges from one of the many citrus trees lining the long driveway, he likes to eat them but can we peel it for him first…please?

Who could resist those big brown eyes??

Friends and family

April 17, 2019

It’s not often that I get together with more than one sibling at a time but last week we managed to meet up with two of my brothers.

Steve & Les were staying with John & Jude for a couple of nights so we went in to join them one day.

We all went into Whakatane to get a few things for dinner that evening, but first we had to check out a couple of bike shops as Leslie was getting a new e-bike. Once we had viewed and checked out what was on offer, it was lunch time.

John and Steve waiting for lunch to be delivered. Note, we were sitting outside in glorious sunshine but within 10minutes we were running for cover as the heavens opened, and thunder and lightening crackled and crashed overhead. Then another 10 minutes later we were back in sunshine.

It was then back to the shop of choice for Leslie to have a test ride,

whizzing along

Back to John’s place where Steve had volunteered to cook up a seafood paella or two for our dinner using not only a paella pan that John & Jude brought back from Spain last year, but also some paella seasoning.

Steve with two pans of paella on the go. Seafood paella which included prawns, shrimps, mussels, squid, and scallops.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished dishes, but I can assure you they looked as good as they tasted. And it was very good too, in fact both John and I reckoned that it was much better than the paella’s we had tried in Spain!!!

sitting in the lounge relaxing after dinner.

Roy and I headed up to Tauranga and the Mount for a day of visiting. First was to see niece Jenna and her new arrival, baby Ashlyn.

getting a few cuddles in.

From there it was over to Mount Maunganui where we were meeting up with one of our ex staff members Margaret and her daughter Suzy along with a few of their friends.

Margaret and I deep in conversation (I think I was sorting out her tablet issues for her).

Roy and Ian solving the worlds problems.

Please note the venue though, the house is right on the beachfront and it was a glorious day to sit out on the deck.

Lunchtime, conversation and company, a lovely afternoon.

But we did note some strange creature in the sand dunes in front of the house…..we presume that they were making a film.

the making of a movie?

We had another call to make to Roy’s friends Bill & Estelle who moved to Papamoa from Auckland a couple of years ago. We caught up with them over a cuppa before heading back to Matata.

parked up in the sunshine at Matata, our last day here before moving on. The weather has been very kind to us for our two week stay and with Easter very nearly upon us, it usually heralds a change in the weather. Let’s hope we still get plenty of sunshine before we head to the northern hemisphere.

Magic spray

April 14, 2019

Now I would hazard a guess that many of you have seen an All Black crumble to the ground in an agonising heap only to be restored to full fitness by a quick spray or drink of some “magic water”?

they even label the water deliverer so no one is under any illusion as to what is going on.

They even have the magic spray in football

I hasten to add here that you rarely see this sort of thing going on in netball, just saying!

Well, I can now attest to another magic spray, but it’s definitely not water.

Firstly, a background story of what has been happening within the Vannini Van that requires the attention of some magic spray or lubrication.

For some time now we have been having issues. And this issue has been blighting our travels on and off for a few years now. It doesn’t happen all the time, just intermittently and when you least expect it to happen. As well, it usually occurs at the most inconvenient moments and I have been saying for some time that I thought a bit of lubricating spray would help, however, we never seem to remember it until it’s too late.

You see we’ve been having major issues with our rear view/reversing camera. It is part of the passengers duties to keep an eagle eye on the said camera whilst we are travelling to make sure that the car is indeed following us everywhere we go. But for some reason or other the picture flickers on and off, sometimes more off than on, or the picture fades away but it goes just fine if you tap the contrast button or we go over a major bump in the road. The tapping gently of the contrast button tends to wake up the monitor and the picture becomes clear again for all of a second or two before disappearing again.

the said camera.

The problem has become worse and worse over time, I have complained to the driver who will give it a bit of a bash before grumbling that I am annoying or such like. Recently he tried taping the button down with some duct tape but that didn’t work for more than 5 minutes. So in desperation, I got out the spray can of WD40, attached the tube that gives you a controlled directional spray and gave the contrast button a drop of the magic elixir.

Well, the picture instantly became clear, and what is more it has stayed on continuously for our latest journey making me wonder why we hadn’t tried it before today.

On doing a bit of research, this WD40 stuff has a gazillion uses around the home, from cleaning, to lubricating, to just about anything you can think of. Here are a few uses I have found on the interweb.

1. Lube a shovel. Spray WD-40 on a shovel, spading fork, hoe or garden trowel. The soil slides right off — especially helpful when digging in clay.

2. Clean tile. The spray removes spilled mascara, nail polish, paint and scuff marks from tile floors, and also help you wipe away grime from the grout lines. Clean up with soapy water.

3. Scrub stains from stainless steel sinks.

4. Unstick chewing gum. A squirt makes it easier to pull chewing gum out of carpet and even hair. It’s better than cutting out the gum and leaving patchy carpet or a bad haircut.

5. Soften leather. Oil can help break in a stiff leather tool belt.

6. Free stuck LEGOs. Your kids will thank you.

7. Cleans old muffin tins. I am yet to test out this theory, I just wonder if this is for the underside of the tin rather than anything that would come in contact with food.

8. Prevent flowerpots from sticking when stacked together.

For a full list, read a list of thousands of uses here

In the interim, the monitor continues to function perfectly since we sprayed it a few weeks ago.

Matata

April 9, 2019

We left Taupo initially planning to go to Rotorua, once there we first headed to the dump station before we decided that we would continue on through to Matata as there was nothing in Rotorua that necessitated us staying on.

Now we have been to Matata a number of times so we know the place quite well. On reflection it seems we have been coming here at about this time of the year, every year since 2013 – apart from last year as let’s face it, last year was a s@#* year for us both health wise.

It is usually relatively quiet at this time of the year at the DoC camp, however there are still quite a number of people passing through, both locals and tourists. But can anyone explain to me (yes, even after 8 years on the road I cannot fathom this out), why do people insist on parking right next to you when there is a whole camp to choose from? Beats me. It seems as though this occurs more often at the weekends. Again I cannot fathom why. Must be our magnetic personalities.

We try and park away from others which we have managed quite nicely, for the moment.

with a bit of space around us after the “weekend warriors” had left.

The beach is beautiful although not a safe swimming beach but is usually good for fishing.

Looking south along the beach toward Whakatane

Looking north towards Tauranga

We can attest that it is much warmer here on the coast from what we experienced in Taupo before we left. The winter clothes and duvet have been put away again, in the interim!

Dam Dam Dam

April 4, 2019

And no, that is not a spelling mistake in the title…as if!! Read on, readers, read on!

We tossed a coin and decided we would head straight to Taupo, and again to try somewhere new to park we thought we would try the Equestrian Centre.

With just one other bus here, we pretty much have the place to ourselves.

The Equestrian Centre is located across the Waikato River over the Aratiatia Dam, our third dam stay in succession. This dam is the first dam on the Waikato river just 13km downstream from Lake Taupo. Before construction of the dam and hydro station, the Aratiatia Rapids were a prominent feature on the Waikato River; a scenic reserve from 1906.  The dam construction meant that no water flowed over the rapids. However, several times a day, the Aratiatia dam gates of the Waikato River are opened, which restores the rapids to their normal output. There are several public lookout points on the high rock bluffs that dominate this turbulent stretch of Aratiatia Rapids.

We do the touristy thing and go and watch the opening of the gates and the turbulent flow of the rapids is restored for a short period of time. We watch from the safety of the bridge over the river. Sirens sound to give plenty of warning of the impending opening of the gates, at 8 minutes, 4 minutes, 2 minutes and then a continuous fluctuating siren once the gates start to be raised.

From one side of the bridge are the gates

the glassy, still waters are gradually disturbed by one gate being opened, soon followed by the second. It does not take long for the waters to become a raging torrent.

On the opposite side of the bridge,the start of the rapids.

again, the glassy waters are still and slowly become churned by the rushing torrent of water. You can see how high the water levels are to rise from the staining on the surrounding rocks.

it’s not long before the basin is flooded and water is rushing down the rapids.

This is the view from the other end of the rapids (thanks a Gary for the pictures)

Enough of being tourists, time to catch up with family and friends.

Over the next three days we caught up with my sister Hilary, my nephew Jason (Sue’s eldest) and his twins Caleb & Greer, and friends Barry & Sandra. And on each of these days I did not take one picture – old habits die hard!! But we did manage to spend time with each of them and catch up on news so that was good.

The weather turned a little damp to say the least so we extended our stay here for another couple of days in the hope that it will clear away, besides we have a few errands to attend to.

The rain only lasted a day and we are back to sunshine,however, it seems as though the temperature has taken a definite drop and a very autumnal feel, the slippers may have to get dusted off and brought out shortly.

Gary & Marg joined us for a couple of nights on their way back northwards to their home in Waipu,

We really enjoyed their company and particularly enjoyed playing Kiwi Quiz with them. It such a shame Gary lost so badly!!! And we did not rub it in at all 😂.

and us? Well, we are on our way toward the Bay of Plenty.