Archive for May, 2019

A day at the market

May 31, 2019

Time to have a day off gardening as well as give Alex a bit of space so we headed off into town to visit the Borough Market. With our Oyster cards in hand we first caught the bus from outside Alex & Ian’s house down to the train station, then onto the train for the ride into London Bridge train station. It takes around 30minutes to get into town on the train, it’s a very pleasant journey and we both commented that everything looked very familiar as we pulled into stations along the route. It all felt very much like we had come “home” – well, to familiar territory at least.

London Bridge Station entrance

This station was under major reconstruction last year so this part of the journey was a new experience for us. The station is at the base of the Shard, the Shard is the tallest building in the UK standing 309.6m (1016 ft) and 95 stories tall.

The Shard

From here it’s a short walk to Borough Market. The Market is at the southern edge of London Bridge and claims to have had a market on this site from 1016 if not earlier. Trains rattle overhead on the overpasses as we wend our way through the market streets and alleys, stopping frequently to sample goods and look at what is on offer.

Roy wandering through the stalls

Just after I took this photo I turned around to see a woman hooking her arm through Roy’s, within a moment they looked at each other with astonishment as she realised Roy was not her husband!! It turns out her husband was wearing nearly an identical Katmandhu jacket and after a bit of a laugh and talking to them, we realised they too were Kiwi’s and were on holiday in London. We chatted for some time before continuing on our separate explorations.

Now those that know Roy well will know his penchant for cheese, in fact last time we were here he was banned from buying any more cheeses until he had eaten through the stash in the fridge. So when we came across this sign, well, we just had to take his picture besides it. However he was under strict instructions from the pregnant daughter that he was not allowed to bring smelly cheeses home as apparently the smell is not one she can handle.

Roy with appropriate signage

The next hour or two was spent wandering amongst the stalls including the fish markets.

Fishy selections

I did purchase some fish, Gurnard to be precise as it was less than half the price of most other things on offer and on talking to the fishmonger it was not a usual fish that they have on offer. In fact he admitted that he had never eaten it himself, we told him that it was a variety that we enjoyed in NZ. On weighing the fish and telling us the price, he offered a very good discount on the advertised price plus offered to fillet and pin bone the fish. There was enough in the two very large meaty fillets for two meals for the four of us to enjoy later.

Further along there were these huge paella pans, cooked ready for the lunchtime crowds. And no we didn’t partake in it this time.

Huge paella pans

Roy’s other passion is good, flavoursome tomatoes so when we came across these beauties we just had to get a cross section to try.

A delicious array of tomatoes

After a delicious late lunch purchased from one of the stalls, it was time to think about heading back to Erith on the train reversing the steps we took earlier in the day.

Train route

I’m sure we will be returning here again very soon for another round of sampling.

In the garden

May 26, 2019

The weather has been glorious since we arrived so we have spent the first few days out in the garden. Roy mowed the lawns and then we headed off to the garden centre to get plants as well as some small raised beds for vegetable plants.

In amongst all the weeding and planting there was also time to chill out in the sunshine.

Alex relaxing in the sunshine. She is due next week so not long to wait now, and it is a waiting game. Just as well we have plenty to keep us busy pottering around the place.

It was Ian’s birthday on Thursday so we met up with his parents at the local Indian for dinner. They all know that I’ve been hanging out for a good English curry, they are so different to what we get in NZ. I guess that depends on the geographic location in India or Pakistan from where the people have originated. I’m not sure where but the curries are just so deliciously fresh, and very very tasty. And you know what I’m going to say, yep, I forgot to take any pictures.

We’ve been shopping at Morrison’s, our favourite supermarket, we were allowed to go by ourselves so we could wander around at leisure and take in all the new and different things.

my attempt at a selfie outside the store.

We haven’t planned anything else much over the next few weeks, it all depends on when baby Denny makes his or her appearance. And yes you read that right folks, unlike the current trend we don’t know the gender of the baby and won’t know until (s)he is born. There are still some nice surprises left in life.

We’ve arrived!

May 23, 2019

After an uneventful 36+ hours of non stop travelling, we arrived safely in London at 5.40am local time.

We left Auckland on time on Sunday (NZ time), with an easy, quick check in. Our travel broker Sarah Southcombe (Travel Advocates) had asked for wheel chair assistance for me which I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the thought of but as it turns out it was a brilliant idea. We were taken on board first and settled into our seats which being at the front of the section meant we had lots of extra leg room, the flight passed relatively quickly (11hrs or there about) and we were soon in Hong Kong.

Getting off was a different story though, we just had a short wait for all those eager beavers to escape and I was met at the door by another wheelchair where we were then whisked along the length of the airport, or so it seemed, to our next flight. We only had to wait for an hour or so before we were again loaded onto the flight for the next long journey, nearly 13 hours this time. But hello, a couple of passengers were missing so we were delayed whilst their luggage was found and removed then we had to wait for the next available slot before taking off about an hour later than anticipated.

This next leg was very bumpy in places especially flying over China and Russia, and in a different aircraft where although there was plenty of leg room, we seemed to be crammed in widthways. I tried to sleep, I’m sure I managed an hour at the most before giving up on the idea of sleep and instead watched a few forgettable movies.

We arrived in Heathrow on time at 5.40am and again waited until everyone else disembarked before we were whisked off to immigration then luggage retrieval followed by an exit through the green customs channel to the welcoming sign that the driver Alex had organised was waiting for us.

Just a little aside, there was another woman who was also met by a wheelchair on both legs of the flight, a very, very, loud Australian woman. I’m afraid she did nothing for the reputation of Aussies as she complained and demanded constantly. “I’m in business class” “I need to get off first” “my driver will be waiting for me” were refrains we heard time and time again. As we sat waiting to get off at Heathrow she continually berated the staff demanding that she needed to be off first as her driver would be waiting, after hearing this a few times I did say to her that we were all waiting patiently and we too had a driver who would no doubt be waiting for us as well. When it came time to get off the aircraft, the staff turned to me and said ” your wheelchair is here ready for you now madam” and with that I was escorted off first. She wasn’t too far behind us and when it came to luggage pick up she was again demanding and berating staff to “hurry up” and “I need to go NOW” which we heard in the distance as we left the luggage area to exit as she was left waiting at the luggage carousel. A please and thank you make all the difference to how you are treated, something she could well learn to say.

We were on the road off to Alex & Ian’s in the comfort of a very nice car arriving at their home just before 8am local time. To say we were thrilled to be there is a little bit of an understatement, due in 2 weeks time Alex is looking very good and it was so lovely to finally be here. Over a cuppa we opened up the bag containing all the gifts for them and the baby, with lots of oohs and ahhhs elicited.

Roy managed to stay awake for a couple of hours before heading off for a nap at around 10.30am, I woke him at around 2pm in the hope that he would get some sleep later that evening. I managed to keep myself going until just after dinner time, before crashing at around 7.30pm falling asleep almost instantly and sleeping through until 5.30am the following morning. A brilliant effort on my part I thought.

The knees and hip have been a bit sore, ok very sore, but I’m sure mostly due to sitting for long periods and not taking medications at the right time, but now on English time we have that sorted and it won’t be long before I’m back to feeling better.

So now we wait for the new arrival, in the meantime we are keeping ourselves busy doing a bit around the place, where and when it’s needed. Roy mowed the lawns this morning and I did some weeding, this afternoon we made a visit to the local gardening shop to get a few plants.

And yes John, before you ask, we have been to Morrison’s (and Sainsbury’s), for our shopping fix 😉.

Countdown is on

May 14, 2019

This time next week we will be in London and to say that we are just a little excited is an understatement. Even the thought of being kept captive inside a thin metal tube for 26 hours isn’t that daunting, it’s just something that we have to get on with.

We are basically flying straight through with just a 2 1/2 hour stopover in Hong Kong. Yes, we are going through Hong Kong this time, we are still refusing to go through the USA – our little protest against adding to the tourism figures of a certain orange coloured figure that is pretending to be President – and as we went through Singapore last time, Vancouver the previous trip, this time Hong Kong draws the straw. We are flying with Cathay Pacific and we haven’t travelled with them before so this will all be new.

We are starting to write lists of what we want to take with us, but one suitcase has already been filled with goodies for Alex, Ian and the baby. There are things to sort out with bits and pieces here before we go and there is always something at the back of your mind that you can’t quite recall but you are positive that you have forgotten something. Time will tell.

Of course things haven’t exactly gone to plan. With just one week until we fly out, I was heading to bed when I noticed that the carpet at the end of the bed felt very very cold, no hang on a minute, that’s not cold, it’s damp. A bit of a feel around the carpet area and yes, it’s definitely wet, I called Roy to come and check it out. Initially I though I must have knocked over my water bottle and it had leaked a bit but no, that wasn’t the problem. Next idea was to lift up the bed and have a look under the bed as this is where our water tank is located. After moving stuff out of the way we found that the carpet in one corner was also wet, following it back we figured it was coming from the pump. It looked like the seals in the pump may have given up with a leak dripping from a joint in the main pump. Bugger.

To cut a long story short, we were heading the following day to go visit friends in Papamoa so a slight diversion into Tauranga was required. At the store (which shall remain nameless) we were ushered to the correct part of the store to look at options, we were being strongly persuaded to buy a particular brand, the cheapest one, which they told us were being put into new motorhomes and used as replacements and they sell heaps of them. However, not one to be swayed by an effusive salesmen’s patter, we said we would carefully look through the options on our own for a while. After a bit of googling we decided against their advice and go for a more expensive one, in fact the same brand as the one we were replacing.

the new pump installed.

Roy had the new pump installed and the tank refilled with water and tested in no time at all. There were hardly and ¥{§&< words spoken either during the installation, or not that I heard, as I removed myself from the van and earshot to the safety of the house 😂.

Well, what a revelation, the pump is so quiet that we cannot hear it at all when we run a tap. Our old pump must have been getting noisier and noisier but so gradual that over time we hadn’t noticed. And the pressure is better too so all in all a good fix especially before we go away knowing that we would not come back to a swimming pool!

Only 5 more sleeps and we are off, my next entry will probably be from Old Blighty. So cheerio old chaps!

PS. Oh and just in case you were wondering…..

I adjusted the sign 😂.

For Sale

May 8, 2019

I bet that headline got your attention! No, definitely not us but brother John has decided it’s time to sell his 10acre block of land which includes a large 4 bedroom home and numerous outbuildings, located just outside Whakatane near the Golf Course and Airport, it’s in an ideal location for those who like the idea of becoming a little more self sufficient plus live near the beach with the added advantage of being just 5-10mins from Whakatane township. Whakatane is famous for being the sunshine capital of NZ, ok Nelson also makes that claim, but it has a lovely temperate climate.

For John & Jude it’s time to travel a bit more and relax a bit rather than mowing lawns, feeding out to cattle, shifting fences and all the other things that go along with a lifestyle block. But let’s face it, you’re getting on a tad John 😘.

The driveway is lined with rows of fruit trees, citrus of all varieties plus avocados, olives and feijoas and many more. He has a very productive veg garden, a testament to the good soil, and he runs cattle on the land but it has also been used to grown corn. Successful duck shooting also takes place on the boundary, with chickens providing a good supply of eggs.

We came home to this sight the other day, someone’s idea of a joke…

No, the van is definitely NOT for sale, and nor is the platform ladder for that matter but some people thought this was funny 😬.

So if any of you know anyone who is looking for a good lifestyle block then give John a call on the number in the picture.

Visits

May 6, 2019

John & Jude have been the “lucky?” recipients of our company for the past week or two and whilst we have been in Whakatane we have had a couple of other family visitsas well.

Nephew Stuart, along with partner Emma and their three children Toby, Maggie and Mack arrived for an overnight stay and it was great to see them and catch up with all their news. They live in Dunedin so it’s not too often we get to see them.

The kids loved coming into the van and playing,

Mack driving us off into the sunset!

And of course we had to have a family portrait

They have changed a little in the 3 years since the last photo was taken

We managed to get them to stand in just about the same spot so we could compare the changes, my how the young ones sprout in such a short period of time.

Next we went up to Auckland for a few days for final rounds of appointments before we leave for the UK. But first it’s a visit to brother Steve and wife Leslie in Whangamata for a few days before we brave the big city lights.

Steve & Les retired to Whangamata last year and since then have undertaken major renovations to their home including picking up the entire building and moving it to a different position on the section. You would not recognise it now from its beginnings as an Initial home (one of the Lockwood homes). Ceilings have been removed to expose rafters, all the wood paneling has been painted out and decks, boardwalks, outdoor areas added to complete the transformation. Rooms have been redesigned and all new kitchen has been added. It really is like a new build and a fitting testament to the hard work they have put in.

Of course I neglected to take any pictures whilst we were there.

For us it was time to head on up to Auckland and to stay with son Antony for a few days whilst we had medical appointments to attend. We also managed to fit in a few visits to friends and family as well with a quick visit to son Simon who was home from work recovering from knee surgery. I had more xrays to see what was happening with my hip fracture and a visit to the surgeon, the upshot? Leave it alone and let it heal by itself and just cope with pain medication which suits me just fine. Apart from that, all is well with everything else, and it’s up to me to make the call when I want the other knee replacement done.

We went out for dinner one evening with friends Ron & Janet as well as Antony, this time I remembered to ask Antony to take a picture of us

I will spare you the selfie that Antony took of himself on my phone when I asked him to take this picture as it was less than flattering!!

And then it was back to Whakatane where my sister Sue joined us for a couple of days.

Sue & Jeffs camper parked up beside us.

We were comparing more genealogy notes and amongst some of the papers we discovered a picture of John and Sue taken just a couple of years ago, so we decided to take a picture of them with the picture.

no they haven’t changed much at all have they? And just love the haircut Sue!!

one half of the siblings, one could argue the good looking half!!!