Archive for the ‘anzac’ Category

Routine of sorts

April 27, 2018

We are on the countdown, Roy has completed 9 trips into Auckland Hospital for his radiation treatment so now there is just 29 to go. We have slipped into a semblance of a daily routine which involves me dropping Roy off at the train station, he travels into Newmarket, then gets the bus from there to the hospital, has his treatment then reverses the travel arrangements. The only difference in the routine are the times, as each day the appointment times vary which can mean either leaving the van for the train at anytime from 9am through to midday. And of course there is the odd day that the appointment times go out the window with an unscheduled delay holding up proceedings. Meanwhile, I either go swimming, shopping, go to Antony’s to do the washing, return to the van to do a few chores or sometimes meet up with friends.

Fellow motorhomer Jim has recently had a hip replacement, he is parked up next to us at Ardmore so we keep an eye on him and between us and a few others we manage to get him to his appointments, do his shopping and keep on top of his chores.

Antony usually comes and joins us for dinner each evening and as well, the past two weekends we have been up to Shakespear to collect wood from some of the dead trees that had to be cut down. Ranger Bruce met us last weekend on our way in to collect firewood and told us that there wasn’t much left but there was the large lengths left behind and if we waited for him to do a few jobs he would return with chainsaw in hand he would cut up the last of the logs for us.

Antony now has plenty of firewood to last the winter.

We’ve had a few visits from friends, Ron & Janet called in for a lovely visit and lunch last week, and Bill P came round for a chat and a catch up. Barry & Sandra called in on their way through Auckland and we have plans to meet up with others later in the week. We’ve been across town to have lunch with Simon & Anita and granddaughter Maria who is growing up oh so fast, she is nearly 20months old. And we also went out to dinner to Eti & Rona’s home. We met Eti & Rona at Shakespear, they come and camp there every year and over our time as camp hosts we have enjoyed their company and many a BBQ with them and their family. It was lovely to catch up with them and hope to see them again soon.

Roy had a birthday last week so Roy, Antony and I went out for dinner at a local pub/restaurant, it also happened to be quiz night at the pub so we joined on in. We didn’t win but we did ok for a small team and we had a good laugh or two as well.

Anzac Day was an early start to the day with Roy and Antony heading off to dawn parade at 5.15am. It also happens to be grandson Andre’s birthday, he is 8 this year, which necessitated a call to pass on birthday wishes. They grow up so fast don’t they? Meanwhile a couple of batches of Anzac Biscuits were made, one lot the traditional version and another batch of my version with lots of extras added.

They seem to have gone down well as there are not many left!

All in all, every day seems to be pretty busy with very little spare time which is a good thing as before we know it, we will be able to get on with other things and it will be time to get in some fishing again……it seems ages since we have been fishing and had fresh fish for dinner.

Passchendaele Pin

July 22, 2017

This year is the centenary commemorations for the Battle of Passchendaele where Roy's Dad (also Roy) was wounded in action on the 4th October 1917. This is one of the reasons we are off to the UK & Europe in a couple of months time. And if any of you are trying to do the maths and match up dates, yes, Roy senior was born in 1897 and yes he was an older father when he had Roy and Karel…..something that seems to run in the family!!! Back to the centenary.

Roy senior was wounded at the Battle of Broodseinde.

"The battle was fought on 4 October 1917 near Ypres in Flanders. The battle was the most successful Allied attack of the Battle of Passchendaele. Using "bite-and-hold" tactics, with objectives limited to what could be held against German counter-attacks, the British devastated the German defence, which prompted a crisis among the German commanders and caused a severe loss of morale in the German 4th Army. Preparations were made by the Germans for local withdrawals and planning began for a greater withdrawal, which would entail the loss for the Germans of the Belgian coast, one of the strategic aims of the British offensive. There were 20,000 casualties and losses which consisted of 1853 New Zealanders, 5000 men were also taken prisoner on 4 October." Wikipedia. More detail can be accessed here.

On her recent trip home, Alexandra brought a gift with her for Roy, it came in this box

Inside is an explanatory note

Along with the following

Inside the box is a commemorative pin

Each pin commemorates a life lost during the Battle, in this case that of a Private JC Robinson. The pins are made from the brass shell fuses recovered from the fields of Ypres Passchendaele by local farmers. These centenary edition pins are specifically a mix of British impact and shrapnel shell fuses. Both the red and green enamel contain finely ground earth recovered from several key locations in the area, representing the essence of the battleground and the very ground the soldiers of 1917 fought and died upon.

The pin will be proudly worn by Roy on the 4th October 2017 at Broodseinde on our upcoming visit.

Some photos missed in passing

November 15, 2015

The following photos were taken during our visit to Wellington to view the ANZAC Exhibitions.  I have previously written about the exhibit at the National War Memorial but not the Te Papa exhibit. 

But first a picture from the National War Memorial, this first photo created quite an impression as it was taken on the exact day when my father was wounded and in Passchendaele although it is in the Australian sector rather than Abraham Heights where my father was hit by shrapnel in the face and right knee and subsequently invalided back to Hornchurch in England.


Back to Te Papa.  I have had great difficulty in coming to grips with this exhibition so here are some photos with minimal text.

The following are photos of the models which are 1.8 times life scale.  Each shows a specific individual and is surrounded with displays of letters,  photographs and belongings of the person.  There are detailed biographical notes and also recordings of either the individual or of others who took part in the same action.  All fought at Anzac Cove or in the case of the nurse, supported those who were fighting.

Each of the persons are presented in a tableau representing specific actions on their part,  giving context to their role and action.

The detail in the tableaus is absolutely amazing


Very expressive of the motions involved





And that detail includes the conditions in which these persons found themselves




The last of the tableaus gives a very good sense of  the thousand yard stare and has obviously created a very strong response by attendees as it has become decorated with poppies.



On a much lighter note at Te Papa, this example of art from tins/cans.  The corned beef cans used were representative of those which were sold throughout the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and a wide range of markets across the world.


Nearer to our present location the following photo is of a stained glass window in the Whatawhiwhi Church not far from Maitai Bay DoC Camp.  It was first mentioned to us by Stuart Park, a cousin who lives in Kerikeri, who was head of Historic Places in the North and had done research into a large number of churches.  His interest in New Zealand glass art is also represented here as he knew the artist and her work.  We accompanied Stuart and were very very impressed by the window.  It is a very impressive representation of the end of the Karikari Peninsular.  The twin bays at the left are Maitai Bay where the DoC camp is situated and the bottom bay is Waikato Bay.  


The text at the base of the window translates from the Lord’s Prayer   Thy Will be Done.  The church itself is interesting as it is old but when one approaches it, it turns out that it has a concrete block exterior.  On talking to a very friendly local, it turns out that the concrete blocks are a shell erected around the original wooden exterior in order to preserve the original extrerior.  The interior is original and contains many photos of former clerics, prominent Maori and local people.  A very illuminating historic record.

Meanwhile back on the beach the picture below shows a strange creature? body? piece of flotsam washed ashore.  It consists of connected sacs some of which have filled with sand as they have washed ashore.  Identification would be appreciated, the closest we have come is squid egg sacs?


And here is an unusual Pukeko showing signs of a malignant growth on the side of its neck.  It appears to represent no hindrance to its growth or abilities.


Nor on its ability to appreciate an apple a day!

The Great War Exhibition

May 18, 2015


When we went to Wellington two weeks ago a major objective to see both of the World War 1  exhibitions.

The Great War Exhibition

Rich in personal stories and highly evocative of the times, The Great War Exhibition highlights the activities, challenges and sacrifice that was made by New Zealanders on the First World War battlefields and also at home in wartime New Zealand. The exhibition was developed by Sir Peter Jackson and his team at Wingnut Films assisted by Sir Richard Taylor and Weta.   It  offers a unique opportunity for visitors to see and feel a special part of New Zealand history.

Gallipoli: The scale of our war

Experience the triumphs and tragedies of Gallipoli through the eyes and words of the ordinary New Zealanders who were there. The worlds of movies, model making, and museums combine to take you on an immersive journey through the battlefields.  Developed by Te Papa working closely with Weta Workshop, Gallipoli: The scale of our War promises to be a highly emotional experience and a fitting tribute to those that served and those that lost their lives.

Both proved to be immensely interesting, emotional, and thought provoking.  I have written on both in separate blog entries as they are different in the way they have approached their subject. 

So here is a view of The Great War Exhibition, from our perspective. 

The exposition is a mixture of tableaux with a main character followed through from his enlistment to his discharge. 

Here is the young man enlisting at the beginning of the war.


At each stage there are a combination of illustrative panels, artefacts, visual, audio and written memoir and explanations as well as some olfactory displays.  Some are by the participants themselves, others from commentators, papers and collectors.

Bellow is a typical mixed grouping showing a team of horses towing a gun into position with a plane mounted above and a roadway below with a double decker bus transporting troops to the front.




The displays are in chronological order with each year entered by an  archway with an inscription pertaining to the period. These archways are very reminiscent of entrances to the cemeteries in France and Belgium.


There are a number of interactive scenarios where one can see what the soldier of the day was seeing or doing.


Throughout there are definition boards showing words or expressions used during the war with the definition of the word.





The two pictures  below show the same location before and after the battle that took place in the location.  This goes some way to illustrating the utter destruction wrought on the country over which the major battles were fought.


There are also dioramas illustrating specific terrain.   This one shows a model of the Western Front trench lines including in the second picture, taken on the side of the model, showing the underground warfare being waged.


A typical model (life size) seen throughout the exhibit.


There are a number of colourised black and white photographs at various points throughout the exhibit.  The one immediately below is a photo which iconic and is often used to illustrate the conditions during the winter months on the Front.  These photos take on a much more immediate impact for having been coloured.



The one below is of particular interest as it is taken on the day my father Roy was wounded.  He was with the New Zealand forces attempting to take Abraham Heights, adjacent to Broodeseinde where the photo was taken.  He received shrapnel wounds to his right knee and face on the 4th of October 1917.  He was invalided back to Hornchurch, England and subsequently was invalided out and left for New Zealand in December 1917.



The final time we see the young man, whom we saw enlisting,  is him lying wounded.


But at the end of the exhibit here he is in his garden with his grandson, one of the fortunate who survived what must have been a shocking experience for the young men who went to the farthest point from home to such an horrific experience.


And then there are those with no known resting place, or no identity, who are commemorated, when they are found, by this simple cross, or by their name engraved on the long lists on memorials,  so often seen in France, Belgium, Gallipoli and all the other foreign soil in which they lie. We visited a number of the graves sites whilst we were in France and Belgium,you can read about one of those visits here


All in all a very moving exhibition which we can highly recommend a visit.  The exhibition is evolving with another section due to open in August this year.  This will be The Trench Experience where the challenging environment men lived and fought in for many months will be experienced through sights sounds and scents.   


May 6, 2015

We’ve  just had a couple of days in Wellington, we flew down on Saturday night and were back in Auckland  by Monday evening so it was definitely a quick trip.  The sun was setting on the large cloud bank as we flew down on Saturday evening making for a very pleasant view. 


We went to Wellington to see the two World War One Exbititions; the Weta Workshop Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa and the Peter Jackson Great War exhibition at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. They were both amazingly breathtaking and are worthy of their own separate posts, which we shall report on shortly.

Whilst in Wellington we took the opportunity to meet up with my niece Natalie and her husband Richard and their two delightful wee girls Renee (nearly 7) and Michelle (nearly 2).  Natalie met us on Saturday night for a late dinner in town at Wagamama on the waterfront.    

 Roy and Natalie

Sunday morning we walked down to the waterfront for a quick breakfast.  Wellington turned on a stunning day for us and it was very pleasant sitting out in the morning sun watching the world go by.


We met up with Natalie and family at the War Memorial for a guided tour through the exhibition before heading  off to Scorching Bay for a late lunch.     

 Someone has been busy decorating the outside of the restaurant 

It was then back into town to Te Papa to see the Gallipoli exhibition, but the queues were still very long with a minimum 45 minute wait before we could get in, so instead we headed off to view the Air New Zealand 75th anniversary exhibition.  This brought back lots of memories of trips taken when flying was a novelty and a luxury.  Do you remember getting dressed up to take your flight? And being offered a menu? When seats were large and comfortable with room to move?  We certainly enjoyed the exhibition and viewing all the displays.   

 Who could forget Waihirere  wines?  – the Sauterne was Mum & Dad’s tipple of choice!

Soon it was time for Natalie to get the girls home for their evening meal, bath and bed.  We bade farewell to them, and look forward to seeing them all again soon.    Meanwhile Roy and I headed off to see the Gallipoli exhibition,  on our flight down we sat with one of the museum curators and she gave us a bit of helpful advice – that the best time to see the exhibition was after 4pm as the crowds tend to dissipate by then.  We walked straight in and had a good couple of hours exploring this amazing display before heading off for a bite to eat.

We headed for a well known Wellington institution for our early dinner – The Green Parrot.  The food is totally unpretentious and so old fashioned that it is probably back in fashion again.  I mean, where else do you get a plate of thin sliced white bread with butter delivered to your table on your arrival?!     

 This restaurant has been around since 1926, and is a hit with politicians and movie stars with the walls covered with pictures of famous guests.   The back wall has a large painting/mural of an internal scene of the restaurant with a variety of famous faces from past and present included.  The meals are renown for being large and generous, as we had had a good lunch we both chose an entree sized portion for our evening meal and even then we struggled to finish our meal. 

Monday morning and after breakfast in town we went for a quick ride on the cable car   

  Wellingtons cable car  (which is actually a funicular) – you can google the differences.

View from the top

 Then it was back to Te Papa for a second viewing of the exhibition.  Although we got to the museum at opening time, the queues we even longer than Sunday so instead we headed to the top floor and worked our way down all the floors looking at the different exhibitions.  At Iunch time we had arranged to meet up with Natalie again, and also Roy’s cousin Dr Antonia Davin as it had been a couple of years since we had seen her.  We all had a lovely lunch at St. John’s, a short walk from Te Papa and managed to catch up with all their latest news.  Antonia has led a very interesting and varied life, her father (brother of Dan Davin the author) was in the Diplomatic Services, Antonia’s early life and education was very international having attended schools throughout NZ, as well as in London, Paris, New York, Rome and Canberra, she then went on to complete her degrees in France and Belgium.  Her working life was just as interesting and varied and it is always fun listening to her tales.   After an entertaining long lunch, it was farewell to Natalie and to Antonia, till next time. 

 Roy and Antonia 

Roy and I went back to Te Papa and as luck would have it, the queue for the War exhibition had again dispersed so we took advantage of the lack of crowds and went back through the displays, this time picking up much more information and detail.

Soon it was time for us to head off to the airport for the flight back to Auckland and to our van parked at the NZMCA park at Ardmore Airport.  We will stay there for a couple more days to catch up with Antony as well as restock the larder and get a few chores done before we go to Waharau on the Firth of Thames for a week or two.   

Tent City

May 1, 2015

Anzac weekend was upon us, Friday morning amongst the usual comings and goings in the camp a large truck turned up with a dozen or so porta loos on the back of it which they then proceeded to unload and place in the centre of the camp.  Hmmm, must be something on this weekend, perhaps we had better ask the Rangers what is happening.  Not a lot really, just 400 or so Sea Scouts arriving tomorrow for a weekend camp!!  We asked if we should remove ourselves from the camp ground,  no, we were assured that would not be necessary.  However, after a bit of discussion Roy and I decided that it may well be better if we moved from the camp ground so they had full use of all areas without us getting in their way. 

 Porta loos in a row

We packed ourselves up and high tailed it out of the camp to reposition ourselves all of 500m away in the designated Motorhome Parking area.  After dawn service on Saturday morning, we noticed a steady stream of traffic passing us by and by the afternoon it was a continuous stream of cars, trailers and trucks heading in and out of the camp.  They were highly organised (of course) and it was not long before they were well set up. 


Tents covering the whole camping area

 And just as well we did move, it was tent city as they covered every bit of the camp ground with the different groups set  up in their allocated areas.  

The beach had a long line up of boats of all descriptions parked on the sands.  They were mainly sailing vessels for the scouts with plenty of support/emergency craft for the adult supervisors.  

And all the cars, trailers and sundry vessels parked in the buffer zone  
All in all a very successful weekend, although we did feel for them as Monday mornings activities were cancelled due to the terrible weather. They then had the onerous task of packing up heavy, soaked canvas tents plus all the sundry equipment in the horrendous rain and wind that prevailed until mid afternoon on Monday.  

Although the weather cleared and the camp ground emptied we remained in the Self Contained Vehicle parking area until Wednesday when we left, however,  it won’t be too long before we are back at the end of the year to take up our Camp Host duties once again.  We are now at Ardmore for a few days. 

Oh and for those of you who are interested, the mouse kill count was up to 90 by the time we left the main camp last Friday! 


April 21, 2015

Roy received a wonderful gift for his birthday from Alexandra and Ian.  It was a bit of a family affair organising the gift, with me asking Alex to purchase the gift, Alex purchasing it and then sending it to NZ being addressed to Antony for his safe keeping until required.  The gift was a very meaningful and poignant poppy, but not just any poppy but one of the ceramic hand made unique pieces of art.  It is one of the 888,246 poppies from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.  Each poppy represents a British or Colonial Military fatality during the War. 

You can read more about the moving installation  here

  The box

   The enclosed certificate and booklet

  The poppy


Completed poppy.

Roy’s father, who was also called Roy,  attempted to enlist to join the war effort before he was eligible as many many young men did. However he did enlist when he turned 18 in 1915 and embarked from Wellington 11 October 1916. His brother Luigi had embarked 16 October 1914 and was one of the many young men sent to Gallipolli, where he survived that encounter to then be sent on to France to continue fighting the war effort.  Roy senior was injured at Paschendaale on October 4th 1917, and was fortunate to be invalided out of service, first to England to recuperate then returned to New Zealand.  Both Roy and Luigi survived the war, Luigi died in 1960 aged 66 and Roy died in 1980 aged 83.

Like most of his contemporaries, Roy Snr never spoke of his time during the war, and we have no photographic evidence of his participation.  Although we do have his war medals which we have had suitably framed, these are safely packed away in storage.  However, on a recent clean out of one of the many boxes of “handy stuff”  we have with us, we rediscovered his regimental collar badge. 

 It has written on it underneath the Heron ‘The Canterbury Regt – Ake Ake Kia Kaha’ the latter of which is Maori and translates as Forever and Ever Be Strong. 

We visited the site near where Roy senior was injured and the Museum at both Ypres and Zonnebeke when we visited Belgium  in September 2010

Regular readers will remember that I knitted a number of poppies as my part of the Call to Yarn commemoration Link here  and I have also knitted a poppy each for Roy and I (pictured below) as well as other ones for friends and family.   

 We wear them this week in remembrance. 

Call to Yarn

September 1, 2014

IMG_0041.PNGThe knitting needles have once again been out, this time to knit poppies. This is for a display to be held at the National Army Museum at Waiouru next year, the intention is to have one poppy on display for each serviceman and servicewoman who were killed during WWI – that is 18,166 poppies.

I found I had a few scraps of red wool in my stash along with a little of the black and green required. I have also been able to raid my button stash. The buttons are from Mum’s button tin, my family thought I was nuts when, clearing out our parents home earlier this year, I asked if I could have the button tin! This caused great mirth among some of my siblings, and in the words of Mum, thought I was completely doolally. But here they are being used for a good cause.

I found a couple of patterns and decided to give them all a go, and these are the result so far

IMG_0039.JPGSince taking these pictures, I have knitted a few more and will continue to add to them as it is a good opportunity to finish off scraps of wool for a good cause.

The Great War has great personal significance for us. Some of you will know, Roy’s father (also called Roy) was injured during WWI at Passchendaele, and his brother Luigi served and survived Gallipoli. Whilst we were in Europe we did go to find the place where Roy Snr was injured, you can read about that visit here Something as simple as knitting a few poppies is my contribution to the commemorations.


If anyone else is looking at contributing, here are the details

And the link at army museum will give you any further information.

Rolling on out

April 25, 2013

It was previously mentioned that we had some issues with maintenance on our awning.  To recap, some time ago we had scraped the rolled up awning on a tree and over time with sun and wind, the material had started to delaminate.  We undertook to take the awning off the van and have the piece of material cut off and then reattach the awning to the van.   We took the awning off with only some slight hitches, and on Roy’s birthday we attempted to put it back on the van, after the delaminated section had been removed. As John put it, Roy had a birthday and a near divorce all on the same day! 

It did not go well, however Bernice did find an excellent ‘how-to’ You Tube video on the correct way of re-installing the awning.  Once we had managed to get the material back onto the roller plus slide the material plus arms etc back onto the van, which is definitely a three person job, the next thing is to tension the roller.  Each end of the awning has a tensioning spring which enables the awning to be rolled out and then roll back up into the locked position.  This is where we had the major issues. 

As we had had some of the material removed, the number of turns that the awning roller requires to roll up needed to be adjusted, plus you have to ensure that each end is tensioned EXACTLY  the same number of turns….well, lets just say that we managed to get the awning back onto the van with one end rolled up very tightly and the other end, shall we say, loose.

It was decided at this stage that we may require an experts advise and assistance so a quick trip to the local motorhome store only to be told that they could not fit us in for another week or more.  Oh well, it was now secure to the side of the van and we agreed to leave it until another day. 

After everyone had left on Sunday afternoon, Bernice & Natalie headed off into town to partake in a little retail therapy. Whilst they were away, the blokes decided it would be a good time to have a go at fixing the awning without the helpful advice of the female member of the touring party!   The girls arrived back before the job was finished, which enabled them to get a couple of pictures of the work at hand.  

174_thumbHow many men does it take to turn a crescent? John, Mike, Stuart and Roy.

164_thumbNote that the youngest bloke was sent up the ladder!!!

After a couple of attempts, they eventually got it wound the correct number of times to efficiently roll out and wind back up. Phew!

We left John’s on Tuesday and headed on up the road to Otamarakau.

OtamarakauHere we are parked 20 metres away from the beach, and about the same from the railway line, plenty of noise when the train comes rumbling through. We have been here before, in fact it was just over two years ago when we had just purchased the van. 

sign 2 sign

A new addition at the parking spot is this sign which has two unusual features.  The first is that it not only provides distances to local and remote locations but it also shows the direction and angle for setting satellite dishes for TV reception. The second unusual feature is the Christchurch indicator which reflects the nature of events there by being rippled.  Someone’s good sense of humour.

bikingAnd a rare event captured, Roy trying out his bicycle to prove that they are just not ornaments on the back of the RAV.

Early morning wandering shows the usual bird life with Shags and Dotterel.

shag 1 dotterel

And two unusual items.  One is two spirula shells.  These are commonly found on beaches in both islands. 

barnaclesThe unusual aspect of these two is that they have been colonised by barnacles, in fact they look like the young of the goose barnacle.

The second unusual find is the 20cm long example of an unusual ‘organic’ item.  It is light in weight for it’s size and when broken the interior has a quite strong ammonia smell.  I would be interested if anyone can tell me what this is.  There were several smaller pieces around in the same area. 

mass 1  I have asked here and been told by someone that it may be a residue of something from the wreck of the Rena as plastic beads, clothing, timber and other wreckage has been cast up on the beach here. But this item appears to be organic in nature.

Today is our grandson Andre’s 3rd birthday, Happy Birthday Andre, and hope you have a wonderful day.  Today is also of course ANZAC Day.  Unfortunately we are some distance from a dawn service but we still paused to consider those that have gone before and those whose lives were and are affected by war.