Archive for the ‘beach’ Category

Faro

November 21, 2017

A big day in Faro as we tried to fit in as much as possible in our short time here. As we arrived at nightfall there was only the opportunity to have dinner before heading to bed for the night. Again, we have been very lucky with our accommodation, in Faro it’s just a short walk from the train station and our host Vera was waiting for us to show us around the gorgeous apartment before sitting us down and telling us of places to see and what to do.

After a great nights sleep we were off into town to walk around the old town and to get our bearings. Roy had already been off to the market early in the morning so he roughly knew where we were heading. The following are a few scenes from the market, Roy got there just as they were setting up.

Plenty of fresh, fresh fish of all shapes sizes and species.

Plenty of fresh and dried fruits and vegetables as well.

Into town and the marina area first.

we did not have too far to walk to the outskirts of the old town alongside the marina (checking out boats for you Steve!!).

Just outside the old town walls we came across a tuk-tuk, we thought it was a good oppportunity us to have a quick tour of the old town and parts further afield to orient ourselves.

Church inside the old town walls

the outside wall of the old town

After our short history filled tour with guide Ernesto, we walked along the outside old town wall to our next stop, which was to have a boat trip around the National Park wetland area called Ria Formosa.

There are five barrier islands that protect the wetland area from the ocean. Our boat trip took us throughout the low tidal flats that are home to many bird species, many of which we also have similar species in New Zealand, including the pukeko!

the old town walls as seen from the boat.

There are fish farms located within the waterways and we saw a few small boats out with men fishing. It seems as though there is no size limit and they catch and keep everything.

A flock of spoonbills grazing amongst the growth

Once back on land we went back into the old town to have some lunch at one of the restaurants that had been pointed out to us during our tour. We were keen to try the local dish of Cataplana, a fish dish in various forms that is cooked in a covered dish, similar to a Tagine. As this region was once settled by the Moors, it is no surprise that some of their traditions remain.

It was rather delicious and surprisingly light. And included shellfish and fish such as monkfish, bacalhau, clams, mussels and shrimps.

We even decided to try the local desserts, one of us had a portugese tart (rather like a creme caramel) and the other had a portugese cake which is made of almonds, orange and figs. Both were rather delicious as well.

Now very much replete, we headed back to the main square where we had arranged to meet Ernesto again, this time for a tour through the National Park and out to Faro Beach. Again, we learnt lots of the history of the area and also about local agricultural practises, as we passed many farms growing crops of raspberries, oranges and tomatoes to name a few as well as goat farms. This region also produces a large proportion of the worlds cork. Ernesto explained that you can only remove the cork from the tree once every 9 years, with the best cork for wine bottles taken at the third cut. The men that perform this task are very skilled and in high demand.

Tree with cork removed from its lower trunk.

As well as cork and olive trees there are also acres and acres of pine nut trees.

Also within the park are salt pans, all dried naturally in the hot sun.

Salt pans

The salt is settling around the edge of the pans as evaporation does its thing

and once collected, it ends up in large mounds.

There are a large number of birds that call this area home, including spoonbills and flamingoes, however, the flamingoes were too far away for us to get a decent photo of them, besides they were wearing mostly grey feathers today.

We rounded off the day watching the sun set at Faro Beach

with the knowledge that as it dipped down over our horizon it would be popping up over the horizon in New Zealand. Cheers and good health to friends and family at home 🍹.

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Last days in Porto

November 18, 2017

Initially we planned to stay in Porto for 3 nights but ended up staying 8 nights in total, it really is a lovely place which was particularly enhanced by the fact that we had clear blue skies most days. Now that I was feeling a lot better we had a couple of things we wanted to either go back to do, or to see, before we departed.

We had a trip out along the coast to Matosinhos, on the northern side of Porto across the Duoro river, with a long stretch of white sandy beach it is popular with surfers and beach goers alike.

We came across some interesting sculptures, the first an homage to the fishermen who made their living in this area. The sculpture is a flexible stylised fishing net with the mesh net billowing in the breeze. At night it is floodlit with changing colours which must make a spectacular sight.

Further along the beach is a poignant statue of a group of wailing women and children all looking out to the sea. The statue is a tribute to the fishermen of Matosinhos and their families. the victims of a tragedy when 4 fishing boats were wrecked in storm on December 2 1947, a total of 152 men lost their lives which greatly affected the area leaving over 200 orphans and 71 widows resulting in serious economic and social problems in the region.

We were surprised to hear that there is a direct connection between New Zealand and Porto, lining the foreshore in Foz is a stand of Pohutakawa trees. They must look spectacular when they flower in the summer.

The beach sweeps around to the exit of the Duoro River and we travelled along the river edge back toward the city. We passed fishermen packing up their nets for the day

Boats moored in the river

Looking across the river to a castle and grounds

Heading back into town, a traditional boat cruising down the river

Last but not least we went for a ride on the funicular which takes passengers from the river bank up to the old part of town.

passing another carriage on our way down

looking back up at the funicular

the funicular showing it’s clever leveling system

The single track funicular uses a central loop system that is nearly 300m in length, allowing it to descend the 61m with the steepest gradient below the passing loop. Due to the slope along the line, the cars have self-levelling platforms allowing the car floor to maintain its horizontal position no matter the incline. You exit at the top near the Dom Luís I Bridge, and the lower level exits along the river edge along the Ribiera.

We also went back to the local market to pick up a couple of souvenirs for ourselves, we didn’t stay too long as the smell of the fish at the market was a little too much for my still delicate tummy to handle!!

So that’s the end of the Porto segment, there is so much more we could have written and lots more photos of places and things we have seen and done but it’s time for us to move on.

Obrigado Porto.

A day at the beach

October 29, 2017

It’s not all sightseeing and gallivanting on our holiday, we do chill out as well. Swimming in the pool at the villa is always on the agenda, and to be honest, to allow us to cool down, we also went swimming in the sea and we can now say that we have swum in the Atlantic Ocean.

A couple of mornings before breakfast, Roy, Alex, Christine and I went to the local beach at Costa Teguise for an early morning swim and after a few days of running around it was decided that a day off to chill out would be in order. Alex & Ian were to spend the day at the beach (and to have a break from hanging out with the oldies!!), Roy and I were going to go down to meet them for a swim before going off to explore another beach on the other side of the island and Barry & Christine were going off to visit a cactus garden in the north.

Having a swim later in the morning meant that the beach had filled with tourists and locals alike all enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful clear waters.

yes, that is Ian at the left of the picture with ice cream in hand

Once we had had our dip, we left them to relaxing in the sun and Alex was also keen to have a go at paddle boarding.

Alex coming into shore from paddle boarding.

Roy and I headed off over to the other side of the island to a beach area renown for its surf, a beach called Playa de Famara.

it was a lovely drive over, with the landscape changing from volcanic to more tussocky and sandy, a lot like the dessert road we thought.

We came over the hill to be met by a large sweeping vista down to the ocean.

The entrance to the parking area at the beach

There were lots of people surfing and many more swimming, although I could not figure out the flag system they had set out as it appeared that people were swimming and surfing all along the beach.

After a wander along the beach, which we noticed was bereft of any shells, and watching the surfies battle the waves, it was time for us to return to home base, and another dip in the pool.

perhaps this time someone will tame that unicorn!!!

It’s been a while

August 4, 2017

I know, I know, I've been slack, I have not been posting recently and I have no excuses either. A quick update and summary of what we've been up to and where since the last blog.

Roy had a checkup appointment with the cardiologist in Auckland a few weeks ago so we headed down from Uretiti and stayed with Steve & Les for the night. Roy got the all clear from the cardiologist, so much so that he has taken him off cholesterol tablets as he says "your arteries are clear, valves good and heart is strong so why are you on cholesterol tablets?". Apart from the Atrial Fibrillation which is now under control, all is well. We returned to the van at Uretiti, staying another few days before heading north.

Next stop was Kerikeri where we managed a quick catch up with Roy's second cousin Stuart. We had a lovely dinner out in Kerikeri at the Jerusalem Cafe with Stuart where we shared a lovely Meze platter of Israeli food, and delicious it was too and the company, as always, was very good.

From there we headed up to Tokerau Beach, a particular favourite spot of ours, and where we have been for the past week camped on friends Gary & Marg's spare section behind their house. Here we have not only enjoyed their company, but we have shared meals, the odd drink or two, been out fishing a couple of times – the catching has been a different matter though with only a couple of fish landed – and generally having a very relaxing time. We only have another week left before we take up our house sitting duties at Whakapirau for a month which will then lead nicely into our upcoming 'holiday'.

Speaking of which we have finally sorted our upcoming trip and we are all booked and ready to go. We leave NZ on 27th September for London via Singapore with just a few hours stopover. We then leave London on the 17th January, this time with a three day stopover in Singapore on the journey home to arrive back in NZ on the 20th January at just before midnight. Other plans are still being formulated whilst we are away but we will be in Belgium for the 4th October Passchendaele commemoration, at some stage we will be heading to Switzerland and the Italian border to the town of Mendrisio which is where Roy's family is from originally. We then plan to meander our way back across France into Spain and Portugal. Somewhere in between we are fitting in a trip away with Alexandra & Ian, and Ian's parents, and it looks like we will be heading to the Canary Island of Lanzarote for a week of R&R in a villa on the coast. We shall be back in London ready for a white Christmas when Antony will be joining us all for the festive season. There will be tripping around the UK as well, catching up with a few of my relations and filling in the gaps on a few places we missed last time. All in all we shall be away for 4 months – I know, it's a tough job but someone has to do it!

So there we have it, a quick catch up.

Uretiti & Ruakaka

May 26, 2017

After finishing with appointments around Auckland we headed back to the van at Uretiti.  Uretiti is a Department of Conservation run camp on the beach in Bream Bay just south of Whangarei.  


It’s a lovely long beach that stretches 10kms from the Waipu River mouth in the south to the Ruakaka River mouth in the north.  

It’s a long sandy beach and is popular to fish from with lots of people trying their luck via various methods of fishing, either with surf casting, torpedos or kites. The wind was favourable for us to try our luck with our kite on a couple of occasions.
Somewhere out there is a little speck which is our kite.
We did have a little success and caught these three lovely snapper one afternoon.


Whilst at Uretiti we went into Maungaturoto one day for lunch with friends Jacky & Chris as we will be housesitting for them at Whakapirau in a couple of months time.  We also managed to catch up with Mark & Glennis who have just bought a property in Ruakaka and caught up on all their news.  After we had a week at Uretiti, we looked at the weather forecast which was not brilliant so we decided that we would head to Ruakaka just a few minutes down the road to the camp ground  for a week and enjoy being connected to the grid for a change.  

Here we are all set up nicely for the week.

The view from the bedroom window looking acrodd to Whangarei Heads.

The weather hasn’t been conducive for fishing so far but we did go for a look at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery information centre which is just 5minutes along the road.  It was a very interesting place to visit with a huge model of the plant and video information about the construction and refinery process.  We were told that the model of the plant took four people two years to build at a cost of around $1million and this was in the 1980’s! Goodness knows what it would cost today.There are information boards, audio visual material and models throughout the complex and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Our current plans are that we will stay at Ruakaka until Wednesday before heading back to Uretiti when hopefully the weather will have settled and the wind is off shore for some good fishing.

Another week of visitors

February 25, 2017

We received a phone call on Monday from Andrene & Lyall, these are friends we met when both of us lived in Oamaru, they moved to Christchurch around 11 years ago, which was probably the last time we caught up.  They were in their motor home having a look around the north island and knew we were at Shakespear so they came to stay with us for a couple  of nights.  It was a though time had stood still with the conversation flowing freely and into the night,  besides,  we haven’t changed a bit and none of us have aged at all!! 

The afternoon started with a few drinks with some fellow motorhomers who kindly took a photo of the four of us.L-R: Roy, Bernice, Andrene, Lyall

It just so happened that we had some fresh snapper ready for our dinner, caught by Roy and Steve the previous morning, as well Lyall is a keen whitebaiter and had whitebait in their freezer which resulted in a fabulous shared dinner with Whitebait patties for entree and snapper for our main and I made some focaccia bread.  Along with a salad or two it all washed down with a suitable beverage or three, a meal to savour.


We sat outside until it bacame too dark  then continued chatting in our van until it was time for bed.  

The next morning it became eveident that Andrene and I have very good tasteSome of the more observant of you may notice that the previous day we both had a liking for blue and white stripes! 

We offered Andrene & Lyall the use of our car so that rather than taking their van off to do their shopping they could nip around in the RAV4.  Lyall had ordered an inflatable boat so they were off to pick it up.  Of course on their return we had to have a trial run at putting it all together.

Roy having a dry run!

We left them to their own devices Tuesday evening as we had arranged to rendezvous with Steve that evening for a fish off the beach with Steve’s torpedo.  Once we had set the line out to fish we sat on the beach watching the sun go down as we ate pizza accompanied by a suitable beverage. Bliss.   The haul of fish was not great, we did manage to bring in four fish but only one was a keeper but we also managed to drag in an awful lot of weed so we will not be fishing off that beach again in a hurry! 

Wednesday evening we headed into Torbay to Steve & Leslie’s place for a meal and get together with Leslie’s two sisters and all the extended family.  Leslie’s youngest sister Gill & I were best friends right through primary and secondary school so it was great to catch up again with her and her daughters who were over from Perth.  Although it was only a couple of years ago since we last met.  This time was a little more restrained however it was great to have everyone together.

Steve was heading north for a couple of days for work, so Roy went along for a ride to keep him company and they just so happened to take the fishing gear with them so that they could have a fish in the evenings.  By all accounts a few fish were caught and a good time was had by all.  

Meanwhile I stayed at the van at Shakespear, helping out a few stray travellers and in particular those who do not read the signs about how to unlock the padlocks! Some people.  I even had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witness…they got the short sharp shrift and were quickly sent on their way.  

Wildlife

January 20, 2017

It’s fair to say that being in a Sanctuary means that we are surrounded by lots of wildlife in one form or another.  Currently there are 4 pairs of Dotterels nesting on the beach, they build their nests right on the high tide mark which necessitates the nests having to be sandbagged to protect them from extra high tides and also to be roped off from humans who may decide to have an extra close look.  Dotterel are a threatened/nationally vulnerable species, here at Shakespear there have been 16 chicks hatched, of which 5 have been lost and 6 have fledged.  Some eggs were lost due to high tides, hooligans and other creatures so protection of their space is important.  The other day we had to move one lot of fencing which was protecting their patch as the dotterels had, in their wisdom, moved further along the beach.  

Can you spot the well camouflaged adults?

A close up view

 But first the had to get their chicks across the small creek…who knew that they could swim?


And a blurry close up

After we had set up the fencing, put up the signs, and made sure they were safe, the adult birds with chicks in tow, then proceeded to head back to their previous haunt further along the beach.  Since then they have moved between the two areas daily I guess trying to decide which one is best?

The Kereru, NZ wood pigeon, are feasting on the ripe Karaka  berries on the tree in front of our van, gorging themselves until they are almost too heavy to fly before taking off with the unmistakable sound of their wing beats to gain enough height and momentum to get back to their home.  

They also seem to enjoy the new growth on the kowhai tree growing at the rear of our van but they have not been left in peace to eat the leaves as we have seen Tui chasing and dive bombing the much larger Kereru until the pigeons fly off out of their way.  We have also seen Tui exhibiting similar behaviour toward a magpie, chasing it in a menacing manner, diving and swooping on the magpie until it’s forced from its flight to land, and then continually harassing it until it finally leaves the area.  

In the past two years two species of birds have been reintroduced to the Sanctuary, the Whitehead – which I wrote about its release into the park here, and Robins which were reintroduced last year and you can read a little about them here.  This year in the autumn Kiwi are being reintroduced into the Santuary which is fantastic news for all, but in particular, reward for all the hard work done by the rangers, staff and the numerous volunteers who put in hours of work throughout the year.

It’s not all bird life here though.  This fellow was dragged onto the beach after being found dead in the shallows by some undoubtably surprised swimmer.


It’s a bronze whaler shark, about 2m in length.  It was later recovered by DoC  and taken away for reasearch purposes.  It’s not something I would personally like to find whilst I am swimming!!

Uretiti 

December 7, 2016

We had just one night stay in Kerikeri after leaving Kaitaia, and we ended up at the NZMCA site at Rainbow Falls as our usual parking place is now no longer available.  It was our first stay at Rainbow Falls as previously the site has been too wet and boggy for us to stay but recently some of the grounds have had a scoria base applied.

Parked up on a firm base.


In the middle of the parking area, the local committee built the shed as a replica of the Cape Reinga lighthouse.  Most NZMCA parks have a small shed where you sign in, collect information about the surrounding area and where there is often a book & magazine exchange.  Here at Kerikeri they have also undertaken planting of citrus trees along the boundary  fence lines, which is a great idea for members.  There is a lovely herb garden around the lighthouse where I must admit I gathered a good handful of parsley and mint rather than raid my own supplies.  

Roy caught up with Stuart for the afternoon whilst I used up some of our Internet data!  

From Kerikeri we headed for Uretiti DoC camp just south of Whangarei, where we met up with Pat & Sue as well as a few other motorhoming friends – Brian & Marj, Craig & Glennis, Jo to name a few.  


Parked up at Uretiti where the grass has already browned off. The long white sandy beach is just behind the van over the sand dunes.  

Jacky & Chris came to visit and it was great to catch up with them before we get settled in around Shakespear and the greater Auckland region and before the silly season kicks into effect.  

We tried a couple of times to go fishing off the beach but the wind decided not to play and seemed not to go the right way for us, so the fishing gear has been put away ready to be brought out at a later date.  Meanwhile we have plenty of fish in the freezer to keep us going for a while.

On Sunday we had a very nice farewell champagne breakfast with Pat & Sue before they left on their odyssey south.  After travelling together for nearly 6 months it seems a little strange not to have them around, but it’s testament to a good friendship that  after all that time together we are still good friends and we look forward to meeting up with them again next year.

On our way

November 29, 2016

It’s time we started our journey south ready for us to take up our camp hosting duties at Shakespear park for the summer.  We were due to leave Rarawa this week, however on Monday we were told that we had to leave that day as DoC were about to start their latest assault on the Argentine Ants (See previous post).  But before we left we thought we would have one last fish off the beach.


And just along from us are Pat & Sue


Not too many fish were harmed in this exercise.

From Rarawa it is a short 60km journey into Kaitaia, as we had also heard that our brake parts had arrived.  However through mutual agreement between Roy and Kaitaia Tractors, they are not fitting the part this time.  We have ordered a matching part to come from the USA, and the pair will be fitted early next year after we have finished at Shakespear.  Meanwhile, we are assured everything is safe and we are good to go.

So now we shall meander our way down to Auckland, stopping off at a few selected  places along the way and endeavour to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit.  Thanks Northland for a wonderful few months, we shall be back soon. 

Rarawa – Auckland – Rarawa

November 25, 2016

We left Matai Bay on a Sunday afternoon for Kaitaia as the van was booked in for the final bit of work to be done on the brakes as the parts had arrived from the USA, as well,  a couple of other jobs  were being completed.  However, things never seem to go smoothly, the parts that we had had sent out were not the right ones.  As you were folks, put everything back together then spend the next day researching and checking on hopefully getting the right parts.  It would be so much easier if there were part numbers, or if the size matched what was supposed to be on the van.  Anyway, in the end  it was all sorted, more parts ordered and we were sent off to return at a later date.

Off we went to Rarawa and the DoC camp there, where Pat & Sue were already parked, we set ourselves up, this time in another location, tucked into a corner on the upper level. 


The weather has been pretty good, although we have had a lot of wind with some of it even from the right direction for some kite fishing. But more on that later.

A large part of the camp is roped off as they had recently closed the whole camp whilst they dealt with an infestation of Argentinian Ants.  Who knew that these tiny creatures could create such damage.  

According to the DoC website Argentine Ants  are one of the world’s most invasive and problematic ant species. They are very aggressive, and although they are not poisonous, they do bite. Unlike other ant species, Argentine ant colonies cooperate with each other, and can combine over winter into super-colonies. They reach enormous numbers, which means they have a huge appetite. It also makes them more aggressive towards other insect populations through their sheer numbers.

The best way to tell Argentine ants from other ants is by their colour and trails. Argentine ants are small (2-3 mm long)and honey-brown in colour, while most other common household ants in New Zealand are black.  

Argentine ants can have a massive impact on the natural environment. While they are one of the major household and garden pests, they pose a serious threat to the conservation values of our reserves and natural areas. These threats include:

eliminating other species of ants

competing with kiwi for food such as insects and worms

competing with other native birds and lizards for nectar

displacing and killing native invertebrates

Argentine ants are now known for many parts of Auckland and Northland, as well as Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Nelson 

The camp will be closed again from next week so that DoC can do a secondary bait laying process to make sure they are all dealt with.

Meanwhile, I (Bernice) have been to Auckland and back for a few days.  A trip which is around 5 1/2 hrs driving time each way, plus of course you have to allow more time for stops for refuelling both the car and driver as well as the odd traffic hold ups.  An interesting sight on the way down to Auckland was this convoy of three four wheel drive vehicles which were absolutely covered in mud.  

A muddy convoy which I followed from north of Kawakawa to where I turned off the motorway at Albany, a distance of over 200kms

Why was I doing this trip? Well, our son Antony had had a bit of a mishap whilst playing bubble soccer – yes, it is a ‘thing’ – with a group of mates on a weekend away in Queenstown.  Bubble soccer

Actually, it was a bit of a serious oops as it seems he has torn his MCL and ACL ligaments in his left knee. Ouch.   I went down to give him a hand with a few things and also to provide moral support when he went to see  the surgeon and make sure we asked all the right questions.  His leg is very swollen and bruised from above the knee right down to his foot, and of course rather painful.  But what I didn’t realise was that before he can have surgery to repair the damage, he has to have regained the full range of motion in his knee.  So today he starts physio.  

Meanwhile Mum did her thing, by washing, cleaning, tidying, cooking, shopping, transporting.    Oh and even a bit of ironing…some of the 17, yes that right, 17 shirts I ironed!!

Once I had done as much as I could it was back up to Rarawa. We have been fishing a few times off the beach with some success as well as a good failure when on one outing our line got caught on something and we lost all our traces, sinkers and hooks.  Luckily this all happened before I went to Auckland so I was able to call into the store to replace all the lost gear. 

But with days like this in the picture below, what could be nicer than spending an afternoon on the beach?

Somewhere out there is a kite, and of course some fish on our line too.
Next week it is back to Kaitaia to have the last bit of work done on the van before we move southward ready to start our camp hosting duties at Shakespear for the summer.