Archive for the ‘christmas’ Category

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

December 31, 2016

It’s always interesting to look back to see what we have done over the past year, and this year has been just as interesting and as fun as ever.

After finishing our camp hosting duties as Shakespear we headed off southwards to the southern most point on the North Island, extensively explored the Wairarapa, checked out every beach along the southern east coast and Hawkes Bay before heading north to the northernmost part of the North Island as well as points in between. We have met lots of new people, met up with friends both from long ago and more recent and from near and afar.  We have wined & dined, from first class to basic with the most memorable meals  being the ones shared with good friends.

We have had great success this year fishing and catching, catching enough to feed us and to share with others as well as stock the freezer.  

We have met up with family along the way, not an easy task coming from a large family but we do try and keep in touch with all of the generations.  We have welcomed a long awaited daughter for Roy’s son Simon & wife Anita, which makes that a total of 5 grandchildren – so far… pressure kids!! We also welcomed three other great nieces this year – at the last count we are up to 11 nieces, 3 nephews, 12 great nieces, 12 great nephews and 2 great great nieces and one great great nephew.  Phew! 

We are both fortunate that we have experienced good health over the past year (long may it last), and apart from the odd accidental injury, our children and grandchildren are healthy as well.

We bade farewell to some good friends over the year, we remember them all fondly and especially the memories we share.

As we look forward to 2017 we know we have plenty to look forward to, culminating with a trip to the UK & Europe later in the year, a trip which we are just a little excited about.  

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of our set up this year at Shakespear, complete with our own Pohutakawa resplendent in all its Christmas colours.

Here’s wishing you every good health and happiness and all the best for 2017.

Christmas 2016

December 28, 2016

Christmas has been and gone for another year. 

We celebrated it with some of the family on Christmas Eve with my brother Steve and wife Leslie setting up camp behind the van and we also put up our tent for our son Antony who joined us for a few days.  Steve and Les’ three daughters, husbands and children all came out for the day as well as one of my sister Hilary’s daughters, Amy.

The planning started well before hand, with the menu sorted and organised with input from everyone, all should go easily and smoothly on the day.  To add to our planned menu, Ranger Bruce arrived the night before bearing a gift of a side of freshly caught Kingfish Kingfish prior to being cleaned up. 

The kingfish was boned and cut into portions with half of it smoked on Christmas Eve to add to our lunch of glazed Ham, Moroccan spiced Lamb Leg, garlic & rosemary roasted potatoes, lemon zuchinni & asparagus with goats cheese, baby leaf salad with baby tomatoes, snow peas, radishes, seeds and white balsamic dressing.  But to start off the proceedings a large sharing platter was laid down the length of the tables artfully arranged on large banana leaves; cheeses, pates, dips, truffle cured lomo, hot smoked salmon, capers, relishes, crackers and breads completed the feast.   

Once everyone arrived we got into the present opening.  Every year we do a secret Santa present for each of the adults with everyone buying a gift to a pre agreed value, before pulling numbers out of a hat and taking turns choosing a present BUT once you open your gift, you can choose to either keep it or exchange it with someone else’s already opened present.  It adds much hilarity to the proceedings.

Shaun getting assistance opening his present

Steve and Sarah watch Amy open her gift.

Steve trying to swap his gift

Discussing options
 The youngest family members Georgia and Emily having a chat

Once the adults have their turn, then it’s time for the families to exchange gifts

Asher and Ben opening their gifts from Erin

Christmas time for our family also heralds lots of birthdays, with Christmas Eve being Finn’s 6th birthday.  

Finn and his cake with his mum Sarah looking on
Blowing out the candle

And to show that Antony does get to hold a baby occasionally

Antony and Georgia
Later in the afternoon we had dessert which comprised of a sharing platter of; passionfruit meringues, fresh strawberries, chocolate brownies, white chocolate blondies, berry coulis, apricot tartlets, and coconut yoghurt.  It was all beautifully laid out to resemble a Xmas wreath complete with mint leaf garnishes, as usual I forgot to take any pictures and of course there was birthday cake as well. 

Everyone had to leave by late afternoon so the evening was spent very quietly with a ham sandwich for dinner.  Christmas Day we feasted again with a boned turkey which was stuffed with a cranberry stuffing and brined.  We cooked it on the BBQ and I have to say it was damn delicious complete with gravy, cranberry sauce and roasted veg.  And some people think that we don’t eat well living in a motorhome!

Wishing you all safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for 2017.

I shall leave you with this view of the Pohutakawa as viewed through the bedroom window in the van which will be a stark contrast to the white Christmas we shall experience next year in the northern hemisphere.

Christmas is for kids

December 23, 2016

It’s that time of the year again and it’s amazing just  how quickly it rolls around these days, it must be a sign of the times.  But what makes Christmas time so much better is seeing the look on the faces of kids when they see something special.  

Our dear friend Diana always decorates her house, both inside and out, for the festive season so I asked if I could take along my great niece and nephews to have a look. I have 4 great nieces and nephews in Auckland whose ages range from 3 through to 9 which is the perfect ages for that special Christmas magic to enthrall.

We arrived while it was still quite light outside but the kids were keen to get there.  Inside the trees are decorated in all their splendorous glory, they look even more amazing once it’s dark and the lights come on but I am afraid I forgot to take any decent pictures at that stage…..the imbibing of  a little Christmas cheer probably assisted in my forgetfullness.

And a snowman

But of course it is once it is dark that everything really comes to life


The kids are still talking about it, and of course the look on their faces when Paul gave them a balloon each was priceless.  And they were totally blown away when they were given a gift each as well.  Thank you so much Diana & Paul for your hospitality and kindness, it all goes to making very special Christmas memories for us all.

Blooming lovely

December 19, 2016

Oh how I love the drive into Shakespear, you drive up the hill to the pest proof fence and wait for the pest proof gates to open and let us in, once through the gates a little further along toward the  brow of the hill we catch a first glimpse of a sign mown into the paddock.

The number 5 denotes the fact that Shakespear has now been 5 years pest free, a great achievement especially for all who continue to work hard to maintain the park.  Early 2017 will see the reintroduction of Kiwi to the sanctuary, congratulations to all those hard working staff and volunteers who are making this happen.

Once over the hill we get a good view down over Te Haruhi Bay and we see the first glimpse of the pohutakawas in flower, it is truly a delightful sight.   

The entrance to the  campground  is lined with the trees and many of them are in full bloom. 

We have a Pohutakawa flowering at the front and rear of where we are parked within the campground, for some reason the trees are putting on a particularly grand display this year.

My favourite tree in the park is this one which is half red and half yellow

Who knew that there was a yellow Pohutakawa? 

In fact there are many colour variations, from almost a pink, through orange tones to red to crimson and there is one that is almost a browny/red.

Whatever their colour, they herald the start of summer and are glorious in all their colours. 

Meri Kirihimete/Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noel/Happy Holidays/ Cheers!

December 23, 2015

Wishing you all a lovely festive season doing whatever it is that floats your boat.  Us? Well, we will be heading to my brother Steve and sister-in-law Leslie’s place on Christmas Eve, where Leslie and I will be sorting out the dessert for our Christmas Day feasting.  

All the  best to you and yours, and look forward to catching up with many of you next year. 

Here’s a picture of the pohutakawa as viewed from my pillow, not a bad sight to wake up to in the mornings!


Christmas decorations

December 14, 2015

The decorations have been given a dust off and the van has been decorated ready for the festive season.

 The front  the awning has the lanterns and solar lights that I picked up at IKEA on our recent trip to Melbourne.  
This year we have also filled the pohutakawa tree at the back of the van with multi coloured fairy lights, again, solar powered.  At night you can see us for miles!!!

 Not a very good picture, I know, I will try and get another tomorrow evening!

The Pohutakawa at the back  of the van has just started to bloom, but the rest of the trees in the park are blossoming well.  First flower opening as seen from our bedroom window.

Melbourne – oddities

September 24, 2015

One of the most unusual sights in Melbourne on the streets in the city, it is the unusual traffic rule of having to pull over to the left before turning right!  They call this a hook turn, it feels very strange but I have to admit that it works and it keeps traffic flowing.  Signs indicate where this rule is in place, note: “normal” rules are in effect at all other intersections i.e. To turn right, indicate and wait in right hand lane until safe to turn.

image image

Another day and the handrails at the Swanston Street tram stop had been ‘yarn bombed’.  The colourful yarn covering around 200metres of handrails – very impressive!


Christmas arrives early in Melbourne, with this store near the Queen Victoria Markets decked out in its Xmas finery in September.  Nothing like getting in early!

image   image

The start of a New Year

January 6, 2015

Do you remember the summers of your childhood when it was always sunny, the days were warm and you spent all day everyday at the beach? Well, it seems as though the start of this summer is panning out to be one of ‘those’ summers and long may it continue.

It does not seem that long ago that we were welcoming in a new millennium, in just a blink of an eye it is suddenly 15 years on. We spent the last few days of 2014 with Colin & Edwina who had come out to camp/chill out with us. We spent a delightfully relaxing few days with them, not achieving much, however we did go for a swim or two in the sea to cool off and to escape the gloriously fine hot days we are currently experiencing. We enjoyed their good company, good food and the odd tipple as well and look forward to them coming again soon.


Then it was the turn of Helen & Don to join us for a few days. They had driven up from Oamaru in their motorhome so they could spend time with their family in Cambridge for Christmas, then they headed up to join us at Shakespear for a few nights and to see in the New Year. Again, we enjoyed their company, good food and drink as well as a few games of cards over the few days they were with us and look forward to them joining us again soon. Oh, and we all went swimming too, especially as the water was so warm as it came in over the hot sands, perfect timing for the tides with high tide in the mid afternoons.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2015/01/img_0263.jpg it seems as though we take a few photos around our table!!

And it is amazing the things you learn. Helen has to wear a “sleeve” on one arm, one of the effects of breast cancer, and as it is a tight fitting elasticised sleeve, it it difficult to put on so Don has to help. BUT to make the job a little easier apparently it is much easier if Don wears rubber gloves to get a better grip on the sleeve….nice pink ones of course!


New Year’s Eve was seen in by sitting on the beach looking across the harbour to the Auckland Sky Tower and watching the fireworks display.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2015/01/img_0264.pngHappy New Year everyone!

Roy and I have settled into camp life quite nicely with the camp full to capacity (160 campers) every day. Our role is just to meet & greet people and make sure they are aware of the facilities and ensure all runs smoothly. As well, we are the first port of call for any queries or problems and we get hold of the Rangers. The main part of the Park, which includes huge areas for picnicking, has been jam packed every day with hundreds of people flocking to the beach every day so what with farm work and the general public to deal with, the Rangers life is very busy and the last thing they need is to sort out minor camping issues. They are a great bunch of people and usually pop in most days to say hi and have a cuppa and a chat, and they have made us feel very much at home.

Some of the camp sites set up by families and groups are rather sophisticated with large tents, gazebos to provide shade and living space, lighting, gas powered fridges, shower tents, and anything else you can think of including the kitchen sink!! There are a huge variety of people as well, with people from all cultures and ethnicities which all adds to the colour and liveliness of the camp ground. We had a Tongan church group in over Christmas who serenaded us each evening and woke us each morning with their wonderful singing of carols and hymns. People have been very friendly and generous as well. Oh, and of course there is the Junior Ranger programme that they run here at Shakespear which keeps me busy. I issue booklets to the young people who then fill in the different sections by drawing pictures, answering questions, observe wildlife and generally become educated about life in a predator proof sanctuary. When they have completed their tasks, they return the booklets to me for marking and then they get a badge in return. Some children take their roles as Junior Rangers quite seriously, but also add much fun to the camp atmosphere and they always call out “Hi” to me as they pass me by.

We have been persuaded to stay on a little (actually a lot!) longer than we had originally planned and at this stage we shall be leaving here after Waitangi weekend which will mean we leave around the 10th of February. But we have also been conned had our arms twisted committed to coming back for next summer from around the end of November through to the end of March. Having the odd one or two of these helped in making up our minds.


Meri Kirihimete

December 26, 2014

We hope you all had a great Christmas this year, ours was certainly very relaxing this year thanks to Steve & Leslie and their families. Although we also reckon that as we have been resident in the park, away from shops, malls and the general throng, we have missed out on the commercialised hype that seems to be associated with Christmas these days.

We snuck away from our “park nark” duties on Christmas Eve and did join the traffic and the hoards of people by doing a bit of last minute food shopping but rest assured we were out of the shops pretty damn quickly. We went to Steve & Les’ for a very chilled Xmas Eve. From there we went to their daughter Sarah’s place for Christmas Day where she had everything organised for the day. Sarah has three young boys, and her sister Fran has a daughter and they all happily spent the day playing with their Christmas pressies, eating chocolates and providing entertainment for the rest of us. Oh and Uncle Antony got in on the act with the water pistols too – much to their delight!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2014/12/img_0240.jpg Ben getting watered by Uncle Antony with Bea & Asher escaping.

We had all contributed food and wine for the Christmas table but it was particularly nice that the three girls (with everyone else also doing their bit) organised the meal. It makes a nice change for me to be out of the kitchen for the day and I can tell you it was much appreciated.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2014/12/img_0241.jpgErin, Fran and Sarah

The day was a bit much for some, Finn fell asleep on the couch late in the afternoon with Uncle Clive keeping him company. Although Finn had a good excuse to rest his eyes as it was his 4th birthday Christmas Eve and he had had a couple of big days, but we are not sure what Clive’s excuse is though!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2014/12/img_0242.jpg sleeping beauties

We did not miss out on the present side of things and we received a couple of lovely presents from Alex & Ian

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2014/12/img_0235.jpgcamper van salt & pepper shakers

And an appropriate sign to hang on the van door


Christmas is a busy time in our family for birthdays, with Finns birthday on the 24th, followed by my eldest brother Mike’s birthday on Christmas Day then Boxing Day it’s Erin’s turn. From then on we have birthdays nearly every second day right through to the end of January with the pattern continuing throughout the year with some months busier than others. I guess that’s what happens when you are part of a large family.

Enjoy your festivities wherever you may be and enjoy the company of family & friends. Stay safe, love from Bernice & Roy.

Deck the Halls

December 4, 2014

It’s that time of the year again, time to Deck the Halls Van with some festive finery. Those that know me well will know that in years gone by I became quite obsessive with the decoration of our Christmas trees. It all started many years ago (over 25 years in fact) when my friend Diana used to come round to our house when we would spend a whole day decorating the tree, always accompanied by the odd glass of the bubbly stuff with Carols playing loudly in the background. This was always a no-go zone for young children, no matter how much they protested this was purely an activity for adults. As Di works with Air New Zealand, she was able to bring back decorations from her travels that we never saw here in NZ at that time.

These days Di decorates her whole house and yard with amazing displays collected over the years which always draw large crowds to view them and even the odd spot on the TV news. Although years later we have stopped doing the decorations together, we still call each other at Christmas decorating time to check on what each other is doing. In fact this year Di called to say she was decorating her house and had the Carols playing, and she always thinks of me when “Feliz Navidad” plays as it was many many years before she realised they were not singing ‘Bernice Navidad’!!!

Then as Alex got a bit older it was she and I that took over the decoration of the trees and house together as our mother/daughter thing. We became quite accomplished at decorating, so much so that we used to be asked to help others decorate their trees.

The trees are always colour coordinated and themed, and this was looooooong before this practise became more common as it is today. My colour themes were never repeated either and now we have in storage enough Christmas decorations to cover every eventuality, boxes are stashed away with all the colours separated into in their own boxes ; traditional colours of red, green, silver, gold, as well as the hand made decorations. Then there is the crystal & clear, pale pink, pale green, orange, purple, brown, black, bright fluorescent green and pink, as well as every shade of blue. Goodness knows what else there is stashed in those boxes as it is over four years since they saw the light of day.

Then of course there is the boxes of lights, every tree needs at least 500 lights to make it sparkle. And don’t forget the wrapping paper, chosen to compliment the colour theme of the tree along with the ribbons! Of course Santa has completely different paper and gift tags, his presents are never confused with others.

But oh how things have changed. This year our tree looks like this…

IMG_0174.JPGA New Zealand Pohutakawa Tree. We are very fortunate being here at Shakespear as the park is lined with a large number of the trees which are starting to put on an amazing display. We didn’t realise that there is such a variety of colours too with the trees ranging from deep crimson through to an orangey-red colour and even a deep pink shade. There is even a yellow variety, with one tree at Shakespear being half red and half yellow

IMG_0170.JPG we are calling these our eco friendly Christmas trees.

Not to be left out, we do deck the van with some lights, low voltage of course so we do to drain our batteries.


Actually, we do have a Christmas tree inside the van, thanks to my sister Sue who made this for me a couple of years ago.

Hopefully Santa will be able to find it and put a few small but beautiful presents under this tree!