Archive for the ‘auckland’ Category

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig.

September 10, 2019

There’s no place like home said someone, once, and it’s so true. Although I have to quickly add that we do feel at home in England as well, especially at Alex & Ian’s.

I remember in one of my tutorials at University we were asked to define where is home…is it where you live now? or where you were born? or where you were raised? or where you went to school? You hear immigrants in particular talking of ‘home’, I remember my parents talking of ‘back home’ meaning England. Is home defined by place, people or thing? There is no right answer, everyone has a different viewpoint.

Getting over jet lag, opening mail, sorting out stuff were the order of events over the first days back. We made appointments for Doctors visits for checkups, sorted out bits and pieces and in between tried to get body clocks onto NZ time.

We had a very pleasant surprise in the mail from England. A spice kit that Alex Ian and Callum had organised for us. It’s a monthly spice kit which arrives with all the spice mixes to make delicious meals. With full instructions on the meal preparations as well as a little history on where the meal originated, a list of how to remake the spice mixes for a repeat of the meal all included.

The kit and the note from Callum

It’s something we had seen in England as Alex had bough Ian a subscription for his birthday. You receive an email notification of what is coming up in the next months kit and options to change for another kit of your choice if you so desire as there are up to 5 choices each month. You can also put a hold on receiving it for a few months if you wish and restart when it suits.

We just love the curries in England, it’s always our first choice when we arrive and it’s our choice of farewell meal as well.

Of course we were keen to give the kit a go, with the shopping list in hand (included in the kit) it was off to the shops for the main ingredients.

We were cooking this

Tonight’s dinner

it also required us to make a dum aloo, potato dish, and a spicy tomato chutney to accompany the main dishes. We had only arrived back the previous day, I should have thought a bit more about that before embarking on cooking the meal. I got 9/10ths of the way through preparing it all when Jet lag hit me, I just had to go to bed right there and then before I fell over. Roy and Antony finished off the cooking and reported that the meal was fantastic.

The result

Really flavoursome and tasty with the only chilli heat coming from the tomato chilli chutney that accompanied the meal.

We had the rest of the meal the following day and I can attest to how deliciously flavoursome it was and plenty for all of us so a generous 4 servings as per the leaflet. We really look forward to receiving the next parcel.

We had to get a WOF for the car as well as register it, that was done the afternoon of our arrival. Then we both needed a WOF for ourselves at the Doctors, that done we then could head off down to Whakatane to be reunited with our van.

The trip to Whakatane was via Hamilton so we could call in to see Wayne Hunt, a motorhome solar expert, to sort out a time to have a new charger put in that would trickle feed the van battery off the solar so that when we sit still for any length of time the van battery will be fully charged negating the need to start the engine every other day. That done we then called in to see our dear friends Wade & Lindsay for a quick catch up and lunch before heading off to Whakatane.

We arrived at John & Jude’s late in the afternoon and then spent the next few days sorting ourselves out. John had kindly sorted out our RUCs and van registration whilst we were away so we just had to take the van in to get a COF. It was all done very quickly and efficiently without any hassles at Ted’s Testing Station in Whakatane. We can highly recommend them and we will definitely use them again.

We made a day trip up to Papamoa to see friend Estelle whose husband Bill passed away whilst we were overseas. It was then on into Tauranga to see my 3 nieces and great nieces to catch up with them before we leave the Bay and make our way north.

We can’t thank John & Jude enough for looking after our home on wheels whilst we were away, it was great to know that it was safe and sound in their care and well looked after.

The journey home

September 8, 2019

We waved our farewells, sitting in the back of the taxi blubbering, we valiantly pulled ourselves together to get a few words out to our taxi driver. He was already 30 minutes late due to traffic holdups and he was explaining to us that he would be taking us to Heathrow via a very roundabout route as there were major traffic holdups on the M25 – the motorway that circumnavigates London city.

The trip should take one and half hours, on a good day, 2 hours at the most we are told. He was telling us that we would be having a very memorable last drive in England, travelling through some very small country lanes, until we had to rejoin the M25.

Narrow country lanes

Then we meet traffic….who is backing up?

We went through a few pretty little villages, and we were enjoying the scenery on our journey through the countryside. His navigation system (Waze) was being constantly updated with reports coming in of accidents, holdups and other traffic info plus it had our expected time of arrival emblazoned across the bottom of the screen. We started off with an ETA of 6:00pm, which then extended to 6:30pm which then soon became 7:00pm, by the time we got to the multi lane motorway car park we had an ETA of 7:59pm. We finally checked in at 8:20pm.

During this travel time we were in contact with Alex as they were able to follow our progress through a tracking app on their phones as Ian had made the initial taxi booking for us. I’m sure they thought that we had been kidnapped and were being taken off somewhere deep into the countryside.

Back to our airport arrival. Fortunately, we always allow a lot of extra time for exactly this sort of event as we don’t mind being at the airport early. It means we can relax and partake of a favourite pastime, people watching. We didn’t have much time to relax or people watch as it was soon time to board but looking at our boarding passes, I was sure that we had not been allocated our preferred seats and on checking my phone app, I was right. When we came to board we queried why we had not been allocated our assigned seats, we were soon ushered to a senior staff person who apologised and reassigned us new seats, this time we were to have a whole row to ourselves…score!

I have to admit that the tears welled up again as the plane took off, it’s not easy leaving .

The flight was uneventful, we tried to sleep, I even managed to lie down along our row of seats but sleep eluded us. We were soon landing in Hong Kong where upon arrival everyone goes through a scanner to check your temperature. The current measles outbreak is worldwide and precautionary measures are in place everywhere.

Once through passport control and then customs we were met by our driver who was waiting to take us to our hotel in Central HK.

Streets of Hong Kong

By the time we checked into our hotel it was mid evening local time, a quick bite to eat, a shower and a good nights sleep was all that was on our agenda.

It was very hot and sticky weather in HK, not conducive to wandering around very much at all. Breakfast, repack and a late checkout we set off for the airport yet again hoping that any protests would not hinder our departure. We saw no evidence of any of the protests but we did note that our passports and travel docs were checked before we could take a step inside the terminal building.

Interesting shop seen on our way to the airport….can you read the sign?

Closeup of the sign

I did notice a shop sign on our return trip to the airport, a Bakery I thought. Just a minute, that says “Professional Barkey”, does that mean it sells keys for bars or maybe it’s something to do with dogs who bark a lot?

Once at the airport we settled in to wait for our flight and ended up chatting to a you g couple who were travelling with their baby. To cut a long story short, it seems that they had tried to book the seats that we had been allocated, being in the front row where there is a bassinet, they had booked the third seat in the row and the one on the row behind. After take off once the crew were out of their seats we asked if it would be ok for Roy to swap with the Dad so he could be next to his partner and baby. We couldn’t help notice that the exit row seats across the aisle were empty, the crew said please, you two move to the exit row (Roy & I) so the couple and their baby had the middle three seats to themselves and Roy and I had the two exit row seats. Everyone was happy and comfortable.

We were quickly through passport and customs in Auckland where I have to say that the NZ officials are the most welcoming we have encountered, they are always pleasant and polite making the homecoming experience a pleasant one.

Antony was waiting for us in the arrivals hall and we were soon on our way to Antony’s for the weekend.

All in all a memorable trip home. Now we start planning our return trip next year!

On the move

March 21, 2019

I’d had enough of being crammed in at Ardmore, it seems as though vehicles were jammed in everywhere with over 50 vehicles squeezed in and I guess with the motorhome show due to be held in Auckland later that week, people were starting to head on in to the city. Wednesday morning we had an early start as the van was having the underneath cleaned of surface rust and sealed so at 6.30am we were on our way, not too far to go though, just to Truck & Trailer in Spartan Road, Takanini.

We headed off to get some breakfast whilst the van was being worked on, and to do some shopping and generally keep ourselves occupied. It was 1pm when we got the call to say that the van was finished and we could pick it up. Off we trotted, we got a thorough look at what they had done and came away feeling very happy, especially when the bill came in at nearly half of what we were expecting. We will be back here again if we need any work doing on the van as we were so impressed with them. They do all maintenance work on large vehicles as well as fibreglass repairs and they even do a polishing service. And to top it off they were really friendly and helpful.

We had planned to stay the night at the Papakura Club however we decided to dump the tanks again at Bruce Pulman Park on our way. That’s when plans changed again.

It just so happened that Antony had got us tickets to the netball being played at Pulman Arena that evening (also just happened to be our wedding anniversary) and as we saw a couple of motorhomes parked up, I went and enquired about staying the night there.

the view from the door of the van, not too far to go to walk to the game.

And at the same price as staying in an NZMCA Park, it was a no brainer to stay here for the night.

After an early dinner we headed across the car park to the Arena to get our seats for the game, collecting goodie bags along the way from the sponsors inside the venue.

we ended up being seated around the mid court area, just beind the commentators

It was a good game to watch and afterwards we sauntered back to the van and had a very quiet nights sleep.

We were off the following morning to Hamilton where we ended up staying at the Car Museum, somewhere we had not visited before. Again it proved to be another very busy place to stay as we woke in the morning to find that we had neighbours move in on both sides of us both within spitting distance.

Whilst at the museum we thought we should patronise the facility particularly as though the parking is free so we had lunch in the cafe.

the outside of the museum building and the parking area before it became crowded.

We placed our order for our lunch and were wandering around looking for a suitable table when out of the corner of my eye I spied a familiar couple of faces. I stood looking for a good minute or so desperately flicking through my memory banks to put names to faces before the lightbulb finally went off and I could go say hi. They recognised us straight away. It was Chrissy & Ian, they were longtime friends with my eldest brother Mike & his late wife Ann. Chrissy and Ann were school friends and we had met Chrissy & Ian a number of times over the years so it was lovely to see them and catch up.

We also caught up with our long time friends Wade & Lindsay in the evening over a lovely dinner. It’s always good to see good friends. We also met up with Harry, Kim & family whom we had met a few weeks earlier at Shakespear. They had just been to have some solar charging issues sorted and were very impressed with the service they received from Wayne, so much so that we took his details so we could contact him at some point.

The following day we took off to AJ’s Park on the shores of Lake Karapiro.

the view through the front windscreen.

it is a lovely spot to stay, relatively quiet and peaceful so we thought we’d stay a couple of nights, but a week later we are still here! The place becomes quite busy over the weekend, and we are kept entertained by waterskiers and kids enjoying themselves being towed behind boats on various devices from knee boards to biscuits. It took us a while to figure that there is no tide here, quite a change for us as we spend so much time near the sea.

Sunday was an impromptu get together with a couple of my siblings – John & Jude called in on their way home to Whakatane, and Sue & Jeff joined us from their home not far away in Putaruru. This trip of ours is basically for us to catch up with my north island siblings before we head away to the UK, it seems we have started off quite well. Of course I forgot to take any pictures however it was a lovely afternoon with them all.

I did take some pictures later in the week as we went into Putaruru on a few occasions to spend some time with Sue & Jeff and catch up on family matters including swapping genealogy notes.

this is my sister Sue with the cheese & bacon scones she made one day for lunch……with the wrong mix she had mistakenly used from her pantry. Subsequently the scones were a strange sweet/savoury concoction πŸ˜‚. And no, sweet savoury scones are not a new thing, they were relegated to the bin! Should have gone to Specsavers Sue 😘.

Roy & Jeff tackling their respective crossword puzzles.

in between visits into Putaruru I had made contact with Wayne Hunt who specialises in motorhome electric/solar systems and it just so happened that he was going to be passing Karapiro on Tuesday morning and he offered to call in. Wayne & Vicki duly arrived and over a cuppa we chatted for some time before getting onto matters we wanted to sort. We want to be able to charge the van battery when we are stationary for any length of time. Wayne designs and builds systems and he came up with a couple of options for us, now we are all sorted with what will work for us. Once we get it, I will do a blog entry on that later. We also gleaned another couple of ideas from them whilst we were chatting so it proved to be a very good couple of hours spent in their company. We can highly recommend Wayne for anything solar/electric/motorhome related, especially as he explains things so well.

Our departure day from here seems to be getting put back more and more, it may be tomorrow…but then again we may be saying the same thing again tomorrow!

And who can blame us with this for a view.

Moving on….

March 10, 2019

We are very good at changing our plans. Initially we had intended to move on from Shakespear a week ago on Sunday BUT we heard from Gary & Marg that they were coming down to Red Beach to look after their grandkids so we thought we would delay our departure for a few days and take the opportunity to catch up with them before we head out of town.

Meanwhile we are trying to get a few jobs done that we have managed to put off until now….isn’t that always the way, put off the inevitable until we have to do it!!

Our last weekend was a very busy weekend again with campers, with some lovely lovely people in. Some even shared their spoils…

yes, we had fresh fish for dinner that evening.

Inevitably it was time to bid farewell to everyone at Shakespear, after a lovely farewell from the Rangers and some other volunteers we finally headed out of the park on Thursday. But we weren’t going too far as we still had a few chores to get done. So via the LPG filing station at Dairy Flat where, when a truck pulled out from in front of us revealed this special pairing.

I have no idea what it is exactly but obviously it stands upright as there are hydraulic rams on the side near the base. I couldn’t ask the driver either as he was out of there a moment after I had taken the picture.

We headed off to South Auckland heading first to the dump station at Bruce Pullman Park in Papakura. Then it was off to the friendly fellows at VTNZ in Takanini for a COF where we had to wait in line for some time before we had our turn. By this time it was lunch time and time for a cuppa and a bite to eat whilst we waited. We soon had our COF and it was back to the dump station. Why return to the dump station? Because we had half filled the black and grey water tanks with fresh water to slosh around whilst we drive around which helps clean them out a bit, especially required after sitting for so long in one place they needed a good clean out. That all done it was off to a busy Ardmore to park up for a few days.

I had forgotten what it is like to park in a place with other vehicles so close to you, as well as parking on gravel. Give me grass any day but needs must. We are here for a week as we have booked the van in to have the underneath sealed next week, a necessary maintenance job to prevent any rust on the chassis as we so often park near salt laden sea air.

Our son Antony lives just around the corner from Ardmore so it is also a good opportunity to catch up with him, oh and utilise his cooking facilities.

It’s that time of the year again, pickling and preserving time, and first on the list was to make some sauce and soup.

two pots on the boil

And the resulting spoils

Along with the plum sauce I made a few weeks ago, the store cupboard is becoming full again. That should keep us going for some time.

A Japanese night out

February 25, 2019

We had to go over to see Antony in Papakura to drop off a few bits and pieces and to help him move a mountain of grass clippings that had accumulated over time. That done, we decided to go out for dinner, I thought down to the local pub, but no, Antony had booked us into Izu, a Japanese restaurant right in the heart of the Papakura town centre.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with Auckland suburbs, Papakura is not known to be one of the trendy suburbs, more at the other end of the scale. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find a first class restaurant in town.

We all chose our dishes and waited for the arrival of the first plates

Top left Snapper carpaccio x 2, below it was my amazing crispy tofu and mushroom dish, on the right a tuna ceviche.

Clockwise from top left: Chicken, Beef, Lamb and a nigiri & sushi selection.

And to finish the blokes had the chocolate mousse, we girls were too full for dessert.

We will certainly be back here as the menu options were varied and there are some other dishes I’d like to try.

The big move

February 21, 2019

After three and a half months in the Shakespear campground we have made the big move, just 750m Along the road to the SCC (Self Contained Certificate) camp area. This is because there is a large school group in the campground and we always vacate the campground at this stage and leave them to it. As you can see from the following photos, it’s pretty busy in here.

It does get busy over the weekends but for the rest of the week we are pretty much on our own.

We can still continue with our camp mother/camp leader roles from here and it’s pretty interesting what we see from our position here opposite the large public area whereas in the campground we are pretty much cocooned from the general public.

We did meet up with John & Sarah, they write a very good motorhome travel blog https://licencedtoretire.com. We enjoyed a lovely couple of days in their company and look forward to meeting up again soon as I neglected, yet again, to take any pictures.

I too have been taking things easy, hoping that by not doing too much my hip will heal quickly. We have had the official written report from the surgeon and for those interested the diagnosis is an “Avulsion fracture of the greater trochanter”. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? I can assure you that the only thing impressive is the pain, but with medication it is slowly coming under control, and I do get a good 3-4hours of uninterrupted sleep most nights now.

We have less than two weeks left here at Shakespear before we head off to parts unknown, and it’s not long before we are off to the UK again.

Visitors

February 3, 2019

In between our camp leader/camp mother roles, we do get the opportunity to meet up with friends and family.

Brian, an ex motorhomers, came to visit for an afternoon and to have a bit of a toast to Marj, his wife and best mate who past away one year ago. We had a lovely afternoon reminiscing and talking about future plans and travels.

We met up with friends Ron & Janet in Mt Eden as we were over in that part of the city after Roy had a specialist checkup. Ron & Janet had come in from Ararimu, (south of Auckland near the Hunua Ranges), they took advantage of catching the train into the city from Papakura then a bus into Mt Eden where we met at the local pub for a nice long lunch and catchup. Of course we were so busy talking I forgot to take any pictures.

Son Antony came for a visit after his big trip to South America, so we were able to catch up on all his adventures and stories from his travels. Of course I again forgot to take any pictures, although I did take a picture of his present for me.

yep, I get s#@t coffee….πŸ˜‚

Brother John and partner Jude came for a lovely visit last Saturday bringing with them spoils from their garden; beans, silver beet, zucchini, tomatoes, lemons, oranges. There’s nothing quite like homegrown produce for our veg fix. We had a lovely afternoon hiding from the scorching sun before venturing to the beach. This time John reminded me to take a picture. Although working out how to set the iPad to take a delayed picture and running around into position was a little funny!

L-R: Roy, Jude, Bernice, John.

Friends Lindsay & Wade were next to visit, and it is so lovely to be able to relax and pickup where we left off last time. A very nice afternoon was spent with plans made for a longer visit shortly. And yes, I did remember to take a snap.

We seem to be making a habit of catching up at this time of the year, which also happens to be their wedding anniversary. We have been together the past couple of years last year we headed to Hamilton to help them celebrate their 40th anniversary, read about that here, and the previous year here. Maybe we are becoming creatures of habit after all.

As well as friends and family we also get daily visits from the various rangers, staff and volunteers here at Shakespear, sometimes it is a quick call by to check on things or to let us know of any happenings. Other times it turns into a decent morning tea, or sometimes they will visit bringing their lunch to eat in our company or an after work relax and refreshment to end the day and catch up on life. After our 5th year here I think we are becoming part of the furniture!

Te Haruhi Bay – a poem

February 1, 2019

This poem was written and given to us by a camper, who wrote this on her recent stay with us.

I’m sure you will agree that it is a lovely piece of writing.

Te Haruhi Bay by Mary Fletcher, January 2019.

Where ancient feet have trod,

Brown feet running on soft golden sand,

Lives lived, history made, babies born, whanau died

Kaimoana at low tide,

Fat kereru nesting in tall pohutakawas, swooping, calling;

Pukekos caught, snared, shared.

Calling birds wake the people, tangata whenua

Oceans roar, oceans roar and roll.

Moonlight, starlight on the living breathing land

Flax grown, cut, pounded, kete made and remade,

– Ever on the alert, friends or enemies may arrive

Urupa used, sacred places…

Times change, times change, vision dims

History happens, ownership/guardianship transfers, willingly/unwillingly.

Sounds of cutting, slashing, burning, birdsongs dim,

oceans roar, oceans roar.

Tides come in and out,

Building roads in and out. Technology noise, tractors, cars,motors,

Top dressing planes, gates up,

Sheep baaing, cows mooing drowns more bird calls,

Oceans roar, oceans roar.

Times change, times change. Vision happens.

Gates up, gates down, housing encroaches, gates up, trees planted, fences up

Oceans roar, oceans roar.

Flax restored, natives planted, birds arrive, birds stay

Green hills sprout trees, kaimoana at low tide

Kereru swoop, morpork calls, moonlight, star light, people gather

Sanctuary restoring, land resting

Nature recovering, people enjoying, protecting fragile ecosystems,

Urupa protected, stays, sacred, hiding secrets, loves, lives, history laid down.

Te Haruhi Bay breathes again

Oceans roar, oceans roar.

Apologies, but for some reason all the formatting that I set out for the poem does not stay in place,

Te Haruhi Bay at Shakespear Regional Park.

Knee update

January 18, 2019

A number of people have asked how my knee has been post surgery, so after 6 weeks here is an update.

It has been a breeze, pain has been negligible since day one, however it has been carefully managed and I have tried not to be a hero and go without the pain meds which I am sure is part of the reason why recovery has been so easy. I had full movement back after just a week post surgery and I was diligent in doing the exercises given to me by my physio.

I continued using crutches for about 4 weeks although I could have given them up long before then but I have been very mindful to take things carefully so as not to have any mishaps. My wound healed really well, helped I am sure by the Manuka Honey Wound Gel that my surgeon suggested I use. The scar is already becoming less and less visible, now assisted by the use of rosehip oil to reduce the evidence of scarring.

the scar isn’t looking too bad at all is it?

It has been so easy that I am wondering why I put it off for so long? In fact I asked the surgeon the day after the op if he could whip me down to theatre and do the other knee whilst I was there. Unfortunately his schedule was full.

I had been putting surgery off in the hope that the research into stem cell use would be done by now. Although some people are having stem cell therapy done and with some success, my very thorough research says that clinical trials are still ongoing with advances coming all the time however there have been too many incidences of rogue cells becoming cancerous. Hence my reticence in trying it out.

I am reliable told that advances in orthopaedic surgery in the past two years has been remarkable which has probably helped my recovery as well. But having a great surgeon and anaesthetist is also a huge factor in my quick recovery I am sure.

Now just the next one to be done, I think we may just postpone that one until we return from the UK as if I have it done before we go I am pretty sure that Sod’s law will kick in and something will go wrong and I definitely don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that exciting trip.

So to sum up, it’s been such an easy surgery and recovery I wish I had had it done years ago. I even enjoyed? (not sure that is the right word) my hospital stay pretending I was on a mini holiday break with the bed made for me, meals cooked for me, with lots of rest involved. Just keep your fingers crossed that the next one goes as well.

Home alone

January 10, 2019

Backtracking a little, this was lunch on New Years Day.

The crayfish was a gift from some campers who had been out diving and the Prosecco a gift from friends Mark & Glynnis. A lovely way to start the new year.

It’s not often that I’m home alone, but for the past few days I have been all on my lonesome…oh, but with 160+ campers to keep me on my toes. Roy had gone to Ashburton to visit the grandchildren and this was the most convenient time for all of us, so off he went.

And did I say that campers would keep me on my toes? They sure have. It seems as though it has been the time for campers trying to sneak in (unbooked and unpaid), others trying to stay longer than their booking, complaints about noise from other campers, sinks needing unblocking, cars needed jump starting, beds needing to be pumped up, and then to top it all off there was a problem with water which meant asking everyone to conserve water whilst the problem was alleviated BUT there are always a few who think that it doesn’t apply to them. It seems as though I have been constantly on the go sorting out one thing or another.

I could write a book about how some people go about putting up their tents, there are major discussions and disagreements and I’m sure I could also run a marriage guidance counselling session based on how to put up a tent!! Whereas some have it all sorted and organised easily, others seem to make a mission out of every little thing and with temperatures rising as rapidly as tempers, it makes for interesting observations.

I had a wonderful catch up with my brother John and his partner Jude, they were up from Whakatane for a couple of days so I arranged to meet up them in Silverdale. Coincidentally, our niece Natalie happened to be passing through from her holiday in the north with her two young daughters Renee and Michelle. It matched up nicely with Johns visit and within 10minutes of arriving at the cafe, both John and Natalie arrived. It was a fantastic catch up and as per usual I completely forgot to take any photos, we were just too busy talking. Renee, 10 and Michelle 5, have grown a lot in the year or so since we last caught up, they are delightful young girls and we so enjoyed spending the afternoon with them.

Roy had a great time in Ashburton with the grandkids, they too have sprouted into fine young people.

Granddad with, from left Rose (who will be 13 this weekend), Dante (15 last week], Front, Andre 8 and Theo 10.

Dante with his academic prize cup for mathematics (surprise surprise – NOT! It’s in the genes).

Roy also managed to take a trip to Geraldine to catch up with lifelong friends Bill & Linda who have recently relocated there from Auckland. He tells me that he was treated to an amazing lunch and really enjoyed seeing their new home and catching up with all their news including their recent trip to the UK for Christmas. We look forward to catching up again soon.

I picked up Roy from the airport yesterday and it’s nice to have him home as I must admit it’s rather quiet (and tidy πŸ˜‰) without him around!