Archive for the ‘ambury’ Category


November 4, 2014

Before we left Ambury we had the usual encounter with the bird life.  There were Pukeko of various sizes from the newly hatched to the nearly fledged.


And then there was this curious family of ducks who made themselves at home on our doorstep.


Whilst stationary the chef could not resist making more jam so here we have Strawberry Jam with just a touch! of Grand Marnier.


Then it was on to Ardmore where we met up with Jim and Judy.   Notice in this photo the other major undertaking at Ambury – the purchase and fitting of a tray on the roof rack and a tube for fishing equipment and other long poles. And since our last visit to Ardmore, about half of the parking area has been levelled and gravelled.


And finally the day had arrived.  Off to the airport to welcome Alexandra and Ian

I think they expected someone to meet them!!!


And finally they did


Of course they then turned around and deserted us to attend a wedding in Christchurch so after a dinner on the night of their arrival with Antony, Simon and Anita they were off next morning.

We then had a  long wait until they returned the next Sunday when we had dinner at Antony’s place.


And finally we got off to Whangamata on the Tuesday.  We were joined by Alexandra’s friends Jessica and Jarrad.

This led to the inevitable games of cards


We allowed Antony to be king of the cards!

We also managed to get our hands on some of the new Chocolate milk, a collaboration between Lewis Road Creamery and Whitakers Chocolate.  MMmmmmm.

20Chocolate Milk moustaches21Getting out every last drop!

A great few days together with the younger members of the touring party heading off on day trips to places like Hot Water Beach and Wenderholm Falls.  Before too long, is was time to leave.

Here we go again…

October 20, 2014

We make a few plans then next minute, they have to be changed….I guess the moral of the story is not to make plans, but more of that later. Also, this blog post is suffering from a complete lack of pictures – our excuse? we just completely forget to take any pics as we are having too much fun living the moments rather than trying to capture every moment!!! Until we get a pair of Google glasses then we shall probably continue to miss taking the odd few pictures. But first let us back track a little.

We arrived at Ambury Park on Friday after an uneventful drive from Wenderholm. We say uneventful but the 30 minutes or more it took us to travel less than one km to get onto Manukau Road off the motorway exit at Market Road was sheer frustration. But we will not complain about Auckland traffic, in particular the phenomenon known as ‘Friday Auckland Traffic’ (or should that be phenomenal), it’s all a part of being here in the big city.

Saturday arrived very wet and miserable sort of a day which was brightened somewhat by a couple of sets of visitors. First visitors to arrive in time for morning tea was Frederick and his sister. We had invited Frederick to come over so that he could pick up some of my sourdough starter as he is trying his hand at making sourdough bread. Frederick also lives full time in his bus and also writes a blog of his travels. I made some Lemon Poppy Seed muffins and Frederick had brought along some of his Date & Cranberry scones as well as a nice hunk of Xmas Cake to be put away for later enjoyment. The scones and muffins went down extremely well, all washed down with coffee whilst we sorted out the problems of the world. A very enjoyable way to spend the morning. Good luck with the bread making Frederick, I look forward to seeing the results of your baking.

Our next visitors were Bill & Estelle, they came over to show us their new acquisition of a motorhome. Now they will be able to come and visit us wherever we are and we can go away together for the odd jaunt. Before too long the day was over.

Sunday dawned with the rain and clouds disappearing over the horizon and before too long it was time to head over to the airport to await the arrival of Alex & Ian from their 36hr travels from London. Antony joined us at the airport to await their arrival. It’s always interesting at the arrival area of the airport, watching people come and go, wondering where they had been, were they visiting friends or family, returning from somewhere exciting, who was meeting them, ………we didn’t have to wait too long before we saw Alex & Ian come through the gates, much excitement all round.

Antony took Alex & Ian back to his place so they could have a shower and freshen up before we all went out for an early dinner at the Zookeepers Son – a pub which hit the headlines recently with an All Black having all too much fun on the premises before missing his flight. No All Blacks were in sight this time, but Simon & Anita were there waiting for us. We had three out of four offspring present – and we did not take one photo! Duh. However, A lovely chance to catch up with everyone, with Alex & Ian managing to stay awake as long as they did before we all called it an early night.

Monday morning, we headed into Antony’s to pick up the travellers as they had to be back at the airport by 9am, this time to fly to Queenstown before they make their way to Christchurch for the coming weekend as Alex is bridesmaid to her friend Claire . So we did not get to see them for long, but we look forward to spending some time with them next week before they head back to London.

This is where our plans start go somewhat awry. We had planned to leave Ambury tomorrow (Tuesday) and head to Kaiaua for a bit of floundering before heading to Rotorua for the long weekend but after a visit to our Dr today for our annual checks, plans have changed yet again. Roy noticed an unusual growth spring up on his arm a couple of weeks ago, he had it checked by the Dr this morning, and by this afternoon he had the growth removed. He has to have it dressed every day for the next few days and stitches removed in 2 weeks, so what with other commitments with family, we have decided to stay in Auckland, then leaving the van and doing our other travelling via car. After Alex returns to the UK and Roy has his stitches removed we will then decide where next.


May 23, 2014

It has to be said that we have never really been very good at making plans and sticking to them, we seem to always be making plans only to immediately change them. I guess you could say that we are fortunate to be able to be flexible, and can go with the flow!

We spent nearly a week at Ardmore, we had a few chores to attend to, people to see, that sort of thing. Most things were done fairly promptly and we also spent some time with Antony utilizing his wifi as Roy had some serious uploading to do. We are very limited with the amount of data we are able to access as the maximum monthly allowance is just 5GB of mobile data before we have to pay silly rates for any additional data. One day New Zealand telco companies will catch up with the rest of the world and we won’t be so limited. It makes for running a small business which is reliant on the Internet a tad, shall we say, challenging.

Sue & Pat joined us at Ardmore although they were busy chaps tripping around the countryside delivering their ute to Tauranga, as they had sold it, and off to Hellensville to pick up their new tow car then off to Hamilton to have the A-frame sorted. We successfully fulfilled our role as security guards for their van whilst they were away. Midway through the week we were contacted by friends Mark & Glynnis who just so happened to be in Auckland in their Motorhome. They were heading for the boat show on Friday and planned to come over to Ardmore to spend the night with us and do some catching up. Roy and Mark have known each other for some time now, as Mark used to work for Roy in the computer department at Kinleith in the late 60’s early 70’s. They spent a bit of time going hunting and fishing during that time, when they were younger – and fitter! We had previously caught up with them when they lived at Waiaua We spent a lovely afternoon and evening catching up with each other’s news before they headed off on Saturday morning.

We had other plans for Saturday, we went over to Steve & Leslie’s in Torbay for dinner and to spend the night with them. And again, another very enjoyable evening was had before we left on Sunday to attend to a bit of shopping at Albany. With the eftpos/credit cards getting a good airing and with most things ticked off our shopping list, it was back to the van at Ardmore and unpack the purchases.

Our plans at this stage were to head off on Monday to Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour which is where Jacky & Chris have purchased a property. We have been planning to go there for some weeks, but our plans keep changing. And this week was not going to be any different. It turns out that Antony is moving to a new flat next weekend and he asked if we could help him with the move, of course we can, we said, what’s another change in plans? New plans were quickly formulated for the week, a trip out to Awhitu Regional Park was the order of the day where we will spend the week before heading back into Ambury where we will park up whilst we help with the move.

We arrived at Awhitu on Monday afternoon and after a quick reconnoiter we were soon parked up and made ourselves comfortable. Awhitu is another one of the 26 Auckland Regional Parks and is located on the southern peninsular of the Manukau Heads. It is a lovely park, beautifully maintained and full of bird life, lots of lovely trees and plenty of nice camping areas complete with barbeques, tables, fresh water and toilets. There are some lovely beaches as well, where the net got set out but the flounder were avoiding us on this occasion.

Whilst here, we gave John & Margaret (fellow motorhomers see a call as they are building a house at Clarks Beach. We made arrangements to pop down to see them on Friday for morning tea, however another change of plans would evolve. Instead we are now going down to where they are parked up at Clark’s Beach to join them for the evening.

That is the plan as I write this on Friday morning ; tonight Clark’s Beach, tomorrow Ambury, then off to Whakapirau on Monday. Watch this space to see if we actually manage to keep to these plans.

PS. No photos in this post as I have “misplaced” the accessory device I use to load photos from the camera card onto my iPad. Hopefully it will reappear soon.


April 2, 2014

Thank you to all of you who have commented on our blog or emailed us to encourage us to continue blogging, we knew we had a reasonable number of people reading the blog from our stats but it is nice to put names to faceless numbers. So onwards, and upwards.

I returned to Auckland last week after my trip to Oamaru. Roy and the van were parked up at Ambury as it is very handy to the city as well as the airport. We moved across to Ardmore on Friday, we had to pack up and move as the van was due for its 6monthly COF (certificate of fitness), we thought it was an opportune time to continue on, fuel up, fill up with water and empty the waste tanks and with all that available at our favourite dump station at Bruce Pullman Park which is very close to Ardmore. With that all achieved, Friday afternoon we headed over to Torbay to have dinner with, and spend the night with, Steve and Les, to have a bit of a debrief of the last weeks happenings and time to chill out and relax. As well, Steve and Leslie got a new kitten on Friday, her name is Lola and it was hilarious watching Lola and their 5 month old kitten Lucy size each other up. There was much hissing, stand offs, back arching and general eyeing each other from a respectable distance. The kittens provided welcome entertainment for the evening.

Then it was back to Ardmore for a night before we headed off down to Waharau where we knew Pat & Sue were parked. This time however, we were to park in a different part of the park, not at Blackberry Flat camp area this time but at the Tainui camp which is near the main park entrance.

20140402-163238.jpg matching pair parked up in the sun.

This camp area is rather special, and I am not sure whether we should tell you about it as if too many people may find out about it we would not be able to have it to ourselves, but if you promise not to tell, shhhhh ………………..It has flush toilets, hot running water, powered sites, showers, dish washing sinks and food prep area! John will be delighted to know that we even took our washing machine out of the van to hook up to the running water and the waste!!! And yes, Pat & Sue are also now proud owners of the same type of washing machine.

20140402-163824.jpg Another matching pair

Once settled in, my first job was to bottle the beetroot that Steve had kindly given us fresh from his garden, then it was time to make and bottle up a Passata or Italian style tomato pasta sauce with the beautiful beefsteak tomatoes we purchased from a market garden in Mangere. The recipe used was one Steve gave me, and it has proved to be a real winner. We now have plenty of preserves to keep us going over the winter months, although I did go out yesterday foraging along fence lines looking for blackberries. But it has been far too dry up here for blackberries, they were dry, wizened up excuses for blackberries so we gave up on that idea. Hopefully we may be able to find some nice ones somewhere along our travels over the next week or two.

Next week we will head over to Whangamata as it will be our son Antony’s 30th birthday and we will be helping him and a few friends celebrate over the weekend. Although it is hard for us to believe that he will be 30, where did those years fly by?;

In a pickle

March 11, 2014

Whoever said that by living in a Motorhome we would be eating “camping food” is just sooooooo wrong on so many levels. For a start, I am not too sure exactly what “camping food” is; is it dehydrated, reconstituted, lightweight, prepackaged, pretend food? Well, that’s not what we enjoy eating. We eat fresh, local, meat, fruit, eggs and veg and take advantage of any free range foraged foods I.e. Mushrooms, blackberries, fish etc. I make a fresh loaf of our own sourdough bread every three or four days and with the abundance of fresh (and cheap) produce available at the moment we also make our own pickles, chutneys, sauces, jams, preserves.

The last few days have been pickling and preserving time in the Vannini van, as just around the corner from Ambury Park is a very good market garden where they grow and sell their produce. The outdoor tomatoes are at their best and cheapest right now with a large variety of different types of tomatoes as well. Our favourites are the beefsteak variety which are large, fleshy, with few seeds but packed with flavour. They also grow eggplants, peppers, zucchini, a variety of greens of all sorts and sizes as well as herbs and plenty more.

A day or two has been set aside to cook up a few batches of pickles and chutneys. Just small batches, as there is just the two of us (plus the occasional visitor). Of course I had already made a large batch of zucchini pickle for Alex And she took a good supply of this back with her. When at Kawakawa Bay, see, I made plum sauce.

But back to today’s pickling, first off I made a batch of Tomato Kasundi, this is a deliciously spicy Indian style Chutney. Part of the recipe calls for lots of fresh spices to be toasted and then ground in a pestle and mortar. Now, in the past I have struggled along without a mortar & pestle by improvising but this time, I decided it was time to find myself a nice small mortar & pestle so off I went to a few Chinese food emporiums and other shops around central Auckland, all to no avail. So back to the van and I let my fingers do the walking online and I soon found the perfect one, which also just so happened to be on sale! A quick trip into St Luke’s shopping mall and this is the result

20140311-095701.jpg My new acquisition made light work of grinding the spices and one small batch of chutney was made. Next on the to-do list was a Brinjal Kasundi, an Indian Eggplant relish which is particularly delicious with ham. Then it was time to make a Bernice special – a Tomato Chilli Relish that I accidentally invented a year or two ago. It came about by making a batch of tomato relish and at the same time a tomato chilli relish, however, the former was far too sweet for my taste and the latter much too hot, so I combined the two to make a delicious relish. The methods of making were quite different from each other so I rewrote a combined recipe by tweaking both a little here and there resulting in a delicious relish/chutney just how we like it.

20140311-165702.jpga selection of today’s makings.

Now we are making another batch of the Chilli tomato relish as it is a particular favourite, and also a batch of a tomato red pepper chutney.

20140311-165834.jpgmise en place

With all this pickling and relishing I began to wonder, what is exactly the difference between a pickle and a chutney and a relish? According to some wise chap – Chutney is an ancient condiment that originated in India thousands of years ago. The men of science and wisdom, the Brahmins, had discovered the healthful qualities of spices. Foods could be made to last much longer without spoiling by cooking rich mixtures of spice into them. It was considered a blessing of the gods that the foods also became more delicious to eat.
A relish is a cooked or pickled, chopped vegetable or fruit food item which is typically used as a condiment. The item generally consists of discernible vegetable or fruit pieces in a sauce, although the sauce is subordinate in character to the vegetable or fruit pieces. It might consist of a single type of vegetable or fruit, or a combination of these, and the fruits or vegetables might be coarsely or finely chopped, but generally a relish is not as smooth as a sauce-type condiment, such as ketchup. The overall taste sensation might be sweet or savory, hot or mild, but it is generally a strong flavor that adds excitement to or complements the primary food item it is served with.

Although chutneys might be considered a type of relish, Crosse & Blackwell defines the difference between chutneys and relishes as follows: “Chutney is typically made with fruit; relish is normally made with vegetables.”

Hmmm….does that make sense to you? Anyway, don’t get me started on what is a jam, jelly, preserve or conserve, we could be here for a while!

More visitors

March 9, 2014

It didn’t take long for us to slip back into our usual routines once Alex had returned to the UK. And for those who asked, yes she arrived home safe and sound albeit very very exhausted after a week of non stop travel, partying, wedding, and family. It took us a day or so to get used to not having anyone around us again, but not for long! On Thursday Pat & Sue joined us at Ambury in their new vehicle. They have gone from the 5th wheeler to a Mirada, just like ours. Well, not quite the same, theirs is a foot longer and is configured differently inside but they look pretty damn similar.

20140309-231740.jpghere we are parked up back to back, ours is on the right with the awning out, and theirs is on the left.

It’s lovely having them back with us, and now we have lots more in common.

Oh, and did you notice the tent in between the two vehicles in the picture? Well, that is our executive suite guest accommodation reserved for special folk that come to visit ;). And on Friday we were indeed having more guests arriving. This time it was Helen & Don from Oamaru, Blog followers will know that they are good friends from Oamaru, for whom we have also done a bit of housesitting for in the past. They flew into Auckland on Friday afternoon, we picked them up and took them back to Ambury where we enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon and evening with them along with Pat & Sue. In fact we were having so much fun catching up and talking that I completely forgot about taking any pictures! Slack, I know.

Saturday morning Helen & Don had to pick up their rental car and head off to a Cambridge where they were to meet their latest new grandchild. So it was certainly a flying visit, we are hoping that their next visit may be for a bit longer and in their Motorhome. Not hinting or anything!

The end of a visit

March 6, 2014

No sooner had she arrived in the country, she was off again. Alex arrived back to Auckland on Sunday after her trip to Gore for Lee & Matt’s wedding where she was Maid of Honour. According to all reports, the wedding went off without a hitch and they all had a fabulous time. Lee put in a huge effort for her wedding day, to the extent of even making the unusual but beautiful bouquets.

20140305-231213.jpgButton bouquet.
Roy and I picked up Alex from the airport on Sunday evening where we then headed straight into Mt Eden for a family dinner. We were joined by Simon & Anita, Antony, Jacky & Chris (honorary family members). We enjoyed a lovely evening before heading on back to our van parked at Ambury Regional Park. Although we did witness an “interesting” event in the carpark as we were leaving, not that I can explain in detail here as it is x-rated!!!

Monday and we headed into Jacky’s to get Alex’s washing and drying done before she packed. That accomplished, Antony joined us and we headed off to the Fish Market downtown for a spot of lunch. Niece Erin just so happens to work not far from the market. A quick phone call later and she also joined us for a spot of lunch.

20140305-232820.jpgFrom L, Alex, Jacky, Roy, Antony and Erin

20140305-232828.jpg same as above except Jacky and I swapped places.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by and before we knew it, it was time to head out to the airport. This is always the hardest part of any visit, but we steeled ourselves and bade a fond farewell knowing that we would see Alex again in October.

Back at Ambury

July 24, 2013

Wednesday morning and we are due back at Auckland Coach Builders to have a few things tweaked after we have had the van back for a few days and discovered a couple of items that were not quite right. We left our comfortable park in Drury and first made our way to the excellent dump station in Wiri Station Road where we emptied all the waste tanks and filled up with fresh water.

On to the repair shop where the first item was an easy fix, the igniter on the oven was not working, but a quick check and reattach a wire and all done. Another job was a cupboard door screws which had become loose, another job was….well, there were many more similar tasks, so you see, nothing major but all needed to be done. But in the usual Vannini manner, we found more items that needed attention, and in fact they found a couple of things too, but all is now done and hopefully we will not have to go back again. Chris had also made a nice board from the sink cut out and he had that waiting for us ready to go.

Once all the jobs were completed, it was off to Ambury Park and back to familiar surroundings, and it turns out to be very familiar as the two other vehicles parked there are two people that we have come to know quite well over our time at Ambury. We could not park in quite the same spot as usual as that particular parking bay has a tree that hangs over and we did not want to risk any scratching of the newly sealed roof. After a little “discussion”, we were safely parked and settled.


July 7, 2013

As it turns out, this is our last week at Ambury…..fingers crossed. After a bit of a flurry, we finally got an insurance assessor to come out and see the van to check out some minor damage we had to a drawer in the kitchen due to an unknown leak. The previous week we had rung the insurance company, did as we were asked and got a quote for repairs from a company that they recommended and then had to wait for approval from an assessor. So we waited, and waited, and waited, until we finally rang the insurance company whilst we we at the Motorhome repair company, and after some discussion what do you know? An assessor rang that very afternoon and was with us within 20 minutes! As a result the van is now going in to get the drawer repaired on Monday and also to have a water test to check for where the leak may be occurring. It is in the drawer under the oven, so either the water is getting in from an external source or it is from accidental spillage inside the van. We shall see. Whilst they have the van, we thought it would be an opportune time to get a few other minor jobs done. Things such as remove the other aircon unit from the roof (which does not work as it is 110v) to be replaced by a vent. A list has been drawn up, although some things on the list are dependent on whether we have won lotto. we can but wish. Whilst the van is in the repair shop for the week, we will be staying with Steve and Leslie in Torbay.

Roy has his orthopedic surgeons appointment on Tuesday for his knee and we are also taking the opportunity to get his follow up scan for his kidney problem done and out of the way. Hopefully all will be ok and we can then head north.

Meanwhile, Pat & Sue headed off to Tauranga earlier in the week to drop off their 5th wheeler for some repair work to be done on it whilst they head off overseas for a couple of months. It has been fabulous having them around and sharing all the trials and tribulations of life lived on the road, going to movies, visiting markets, sharing meals, and playing cards.

In the last entry we mentioned that Pat had helped to sort out our guttering system, and here it is in action.

The ideal situation would be to now have that water piped straight into the tank, perhaps another job for the repair shop this week?

Over the past few days there has been other motorhomes parked here, one couple who have been on the road for 10 years and another couple, Ross & Wyn who have been 5 years on the road, whose blog we follow and are also fellow Motorhome forum members. It’s very good to finally meet up with people you feel you already know from reading their blog.

To finish, here is a pic of us parked at Ambury

20130707-113055.jpg Thanks to the Rangers and staff who have so kindly allowed us to stay, we will be back but hopefully not for a wee while!