Archive for the ‘drinks’ Category

Back to London and a show

October 15, 2017

We left our lovely apartment in Langermark late in the morning and headed off to Lille, I have to admit that I was ready to hand the car back although the driving had become easier as we went along. Funnily enough I found the roundabouts the easiest of all to handle and I have to admit that my co pilot was excellent at guiding me and making sure I was OK, and as well the roads are easy to drive on and well maintained.

We got to the Lille train station in plenty of time, however, we missed the entrance to get into the car park building so ended up going around in a grand circle to get back to where we should be, it only took an extra 30 minutes of driving through central Lille with blood pressure slowly rising, sweaty palms, and a dry mouth before we got to where we should have been. We got into the parking building only to discover that we needed to be in the next building to return the car….with a lump rising in my throat at the thought of more driving, we made the move to the next building and returned the keys.

Whilst at the station we saw a couple of things which were memorable. The first was the free charging station for devices, to power the charging you sat at the desk and cycled!

Right next to this was the lounge with plenty of plugs and USB charging sockets, guess which one we used?

Once we got through immigration – and we did get the third degree at immigration too…..why were we away so long? When are we going back to NZ? Where were we staying in the UK? Where did our daughter work? What does she do? Why were we in Europe? What was our connection to Passchendaele? Did we intend to work in the UK?…..and so it went on. Once through we met up with a couple of crazy but ever so friendly Scotsmen who were raising money for Cancer research by standing for 24hrs and travelling from Edinburgh to Paris and return. They were really lovely and were having a great time and were raising lots of money too.

The trip back to London was a breeze with Alex picking us up at Ebbsfleet Station which is much closer to her home than St Pancras in the city.

We had a lovely weekend in and around London. Sunday, Alex and Ian told us that they had organised a surprise for us for the day, so at about midday we headed off on the train into town then a walk through to a lovely rooftop bar overlooking St Paul’s cathedral. Ian, Roy and Alex with St Paul’s dome in the distance

panorama from the roof top

From here we went off into Piccadilly Circus where we were to go to a the show ‘A comedy about a bank robbery’. It was fast paced, hilarious and well acted play, I haven’t laughed so much for a long time. It was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

After the show we took a London black cab

Passing Trafalgar Square along the way

To near Victoria Station for dinner where the fellas tried a beer or two

Then it was a train back home to end a fabulous day, well done Alex & Ian.


Mothers Day 

May 18, 2017

Mother’s Day rolled round and as usual we had little planned as we are not into the whole commercialisation of the day, however, I was invited to share a Mother’s Day lunch with my sister-in-law Leslie, and her three daughters Sarah, Erin & Frances (they make a reasonable substitute for you Alex! and Antony was coming over later for a visit, for some reason he didn’t want to join all us ladies for lunch?!).  

We headed off to KissKiss in Balmoral for a lovely northern Thai lunch.  A lively bright, colourful setting with quirky touches such as the cocktail menu was in old-school viewfinders…..we all had to indulge in a cocktail of course.  

 Sarah & Fran at the back, Erin and I at the front.

Sarah & Erin on the left with Leslie & Fran on the right.

The food was excellent, the company brilliant and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  As it was such a beautiful day we headed into Mt Eden for a glass of vino, sitting out in the sun enjoying ourselves.  Thank you for inviting me along to share, it was a laugh and a half. 

Wairarapa Harvest Wine & Food Festival

March 13, 2016

It came as somewhat of a shock but we are just not used to it.  We are of course talking about the weather!  On Friday night the temperature dropped which meant we had to find some warmer clothes, dig out the slippers from their summer hiding place and get out the quilt to throw over the bed covers.  We are just not used to this, temperatures dropped overnight to 10C, I mean, we have become accustomed to overnight temperatures dropping to the early 20’s but this sudden change meant that we turned on the heating for a quick blast of warmth.  So when we woke on Sarturday morning with the temperature rising very slowly and with a cool breeze, we all rugged up ready for a cool day at the festival.

We drove the 6km to the venue where we were directed to park in a large paddock and then board one of the numerous buses running shuttles to the venue on the banks of the Raumahunga River.  Once we had gained entry we were given our wine glass which came with holder and handy cord to hang around our necks along with a very good programme which also included a list of each eatery with a menu of their offerings for the day,  a great idea.  In between cooking demonstrations there was great entertainment on offer and got the crowd to their feet.

  The crowd waiting for the entertainment to start
We met up with Ali & Ian (their motorhome is called Alian!) as we discovered we were in the same region.  We first met Ali & Ian in 2012 at the Pakawau Old school Cafe, read here, and then again in 2013 which you can read here so it was lovely to be able to meet up again.   They were parked in the motorhome parking area at the venue whereas we had decided to stay where we were after doing a recce of the venue and parking area last Thursday and on being told that 150-200 motorhomes were expected to arrive, we  decided to stay at Gladstone Reserve away from the throng.  However, once we got to the festival and checked everything out, there would have only been 40-50 vans there, but never mind, we were happy and comfortable where we were.     Sue, Ali and Bernice

It wasn’t too long before the sun came out and the layers of warm clothing removed.   The bands started playing and the crowds got to their feet to sing and dance  along with them.

  The band and crowd enjoying the atmosphere

Soon it was time to board our bus back to the carpark and then into the car to return home.  Funnily enough as we settled down for an evening drink outside we could hear the band on its last set of the day as although we had to travel 12km to the event in a circuitous route, as the crow flies it was just a few hundred metres away from our spot on the side of the river. 

A lovely day spent with great friends, good food and wine and entertainment – the weather was great too. 

The Italian Job

April 21, 2015

Roy’s 70th birthday revleries were to be a little less raucous than previous ‘0’ birthday celebrations, however, we did celebrate and celebrate well.  Steve & Leslie invited us to their place for dinner with Roy’s eldest son Simon and wife Anita joining us along with our son Antony, oh and Steve and Les just happened to be babysitting their granddaughter Bea and she joined in the fun.  And  Alex joined us via Skype from London for a chat before the evening got started.

It was to be an Italian themed dinner.  We were having a slow cooked Pork Ragu for the main so once that was all prepped and in the oven, Leslie and I could head out for a bit of retail therapy to gather the rest of the necessary ingredients for the festivities.   We only away for an hour or two and on our return the making of the pappardelle pasta to accompany the main  was well underway with Steve getting lots of help from Antony and Bea.

  The pasta making production line 
Once Simon & Anita arrived we were into the cocktails – an Aperol Spritz, which is an Italian aperitif that we had wonderful memories of trying when we were in Lucca although at the time we could not recall the name of it.  Aperol is made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona, the latter is apparently also known as quina which is one of the plants that gives us quinine.  It makes for an interesting drink, quite bitter on first tasting, but something that does grow on the palate!  Antipasti accompanied the drinks and these were platters  of olives, sun dried tomatoes and other vegetables, Italian cheeses, salamis and other cured meats, bruschetta and the like. The main was a tender pork Ragu with the delicious pasta along with some greens.  

 Happy birthday!

Since the evening had an Italian theme we all wore moustaches (Roy already has his own version) and speaka lika theees.   
  A right looking lot!
For dessert we could not go past a Tiramisu which also became the birthday cake complete with appropriate candle adornment.

A lovely evening was enjoyed all round.  Further celebrations are planned for later dates with censored reports posted here,

Uretiti to Ardmore

December 21, 2013

Finally almost caught up to date with the blogs.

Oh dear, a serious omission has occurred.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, forgot to include a photo of considerable importance.

Herewith the omission is remedied.

Bernice’s birthday cake presented by Marj and Brian.

9 birthday

And just to prove the lengths to which one goes to get internet reception here is Roy in his outdoor office where reception was possible.

9 office

And another slight glitch in the world of glitches that seems to have been our lot lately.  We were leaving Whangaruru North to go to Uretiti.  So the night before we packed ready for an early start.  All well and good.  In the morning Bernice went off to do some laundry while Roy packed the last and moved the motorhome  to let Pat and Sue move theirs.

On trying to exit the said vehicle Roy found that the door mechanism no longer worked and he was locked in.  No amount of pushing and pulling of levers, turning of keys, passed out the window could free the mechanism.  So Pat crawled in through the window and with assistance from Sue as runner, to scrounge equipment, attempts were made to free the lock.    In the end the internal cover plate was removed and the lock drilled out to free the bolt which had broken but would not release back out of the plate.  Below is a picture of the offending lock drilled.

Oh and how did we manage to get to Uretiti with the lock in this condition.  Well luckily there is a deadlock within the same mechanism and we were able to operate this notwithstanding the damage to the rest of the lock.

1 lock

We were able to replace the lock at Whangarei on our way through and fit it at Uretiti when we parked.

Settled in Uretiti it was time for brunch once again.  The photo below is supposed to show us all together and brunch but we had not served when a convenient passer by was asked to take the photo.  Brunch consisted of croissants with smoked salmon and tomato with a dressing of cream cheese, capers and chives and, of course, the obligatory bubbles.

2  brunch

When we were here last in August the path to the beach had been substantially buried in sand.  You can see the photos in a previous post from back then.  Now the problem has been solved with the path being metalled over the encroaching sand and the posts extended.  the posts were extended by the simple expedient of splicing a new length of post on to the old.   So I guess this will continue and it will be interesting to see how long the posts eventually become.

3 path4 path

And then for the final supper.  Pat and Sue were leaving Uretiti, some days before us, so we had our last meal together for a while, barbequed butterflied leg of lamb with harissa couscous, beetroot salad and a melon, cucumber, tomato and feta salad.  Delicious.

7 dinner8 dinner

And a great sunset to go.

5 sunset

Pat & Sue have left us now Sad smile as they head south for family Christmas in Rotorua  then onto Christchurch to sort out house/EQC/et al.   We have thoroughly enjoyed having them with us, sharing mostly good times as well as the odd hitch! There are not many people you can say you have been with for nearly 4 months and end up better friends than at the start.  We look forward to meeting up with them again to continue our travels and adventures, wherever that may be.

Then through the tunnel to the big smoke

6 tunnel

We are now safety parked at the NZ Motorhome Park at Ardmore Airport where we will be for the next week or so.


April 28, 2013

The van NOT the occupants are classed as Heavyweight vehicles, and this last weekend there was a rally held at Little Waihi so we thought we would pop long and find out what it is all about.

Before we left Otamarakau, on Thursday night we had Keith & Deb round for a very enjoyable evening and dinner.  Although there are eels in the creek, we left them where they are and instead settled on T- Bone steak for dinner.

 eelsand to prove it, here are the eels still swimming in the creek.

barnacleFound this example of a Goose Barnacle attached to a piece of pumice.  Based on the length of the barnacle shell the piece of pumice must have been floating in the sea for some five years.

Friday morning we headed off to Little Waihi which is further along the Bay of Plenty coast toward Tauranga, not far from Maketu.   It sits on a small peninsular on the inland side of the estuary, with  Pukehina on the ocean side of the peninsular.  We got a great view of the motorhomes all lined up from the hill coming down into Little Waihi.

waihi 1Motorhomes lined up in the centre of the picture. Pukehina is the collection of houses on the ocean side at the top of the photo.

As we had a few errands to run, we headed off into Tauranga once the van was all parked up and settled and before the weekend activities began.

little waihiA close up view…oh, and that is our van parked facing forward in the centre front of the picture.

We arrived back from Tauranga only a little late for Happy Hour, the shopping was quickly put away, poured ourselves a drink, grabbed our chairs and headed over to the marquee to meet some new people and find out what lay ahead of us for the weekend.  We arrived in time for the final two quick fire raffles of the day, and guess what? We won both of them!!  The first was a breakfast pack consisting of bacon, eggs, sausages and pancake mix, the second was a meat pack.   Score!


Saturday; morning tea, meeting new folk, checking out other vehicles, fishing competition, silly games afternoon, and a surprise visit from John who was passing on his way home from Rotorua.  A quick catch up before he left and it was time for Happy Hour.  Bernice remained in the van to watch the netball whilst Roy headed off to be sociable, it was not long before he returned with… yes, you guessed it, another meat raffle win! The freezer is now very full.

As an aside, we have been pouring over the latest editions of both the Cuisine and Dish magazines, both of which have a focus on all things Italian.  We have picked out a number of dishes to try and had stocked up on our Friday shop with items required to make a selection of menu items.  Saturday evening we enjoyed from Dish; Lemon & Oregano crumbed Lamb Cutlets with Potato rosti and salad – divine.

Lemon and Oregano Crumbed Lamb CutletsDinner


sunrise 1Early Sunday morning looking across the river estuary to the Little Waihi settlement. sunrise Sunrise on Sunday morning

litle waihi 3Some of the 47 Heavyweights lined up.

Sunday and after friendly farewells, we headed off to Tauranga. This time to Fergusson Park where we had been told was good free parking right on the waters edge.  After first visiting the dump station near Tauranga Airport, we settled into our very nice parking spot before Jenna came for a quick visit.  After more netball watching, time for another delicious dinner, this time an item chosen from Cuisine,

photoan Italian Sausage Ragu with Polenta.


January 25, 2013

On some occasions, the bar across the Whakatane River entrance is deemed too dangerous to cross and today was one of those days. So a day of no fishing, however, I do have one shot of John coming back into the wharf yesterday.


Roy and I headed into town to attend to a few chores and on our way in, we saw a Mirada like ours parked in the Bunnings carpark. This is the first one we have seen like ours with the owners around so we dropped by to say hello. After a bit of a chat, we said that we may well meet up over the winter months somewhere in Northland.

Shopping done, we headed out to the entrance to see for ourselves why the coastguard had labeled the bar ‘unworkable’. We now know why, decent sized waves were breaking over the bar and rolling through the entrance, not a safe place to be.

Today was our turn to host drinkies, so as per usual with our motorhoming life, we set up the table and chairs, prepared a few nibbles and sat down to duly host afternoon drinks with John, Jenny and Julie. The weather has been outstanding whilst we have been here, and it was very pleasant sitting under the awning of the van, telling tall tales.

20130125-095932.jpgJulie, John, Roy and Jenny

20130125-095943.jpgJohn and Roy sorting out the important things.

Today was also John’s turn to cook dinner, so whilst he attended to the preparation and cooking of the Bluenose, Roy decided that it had been some time since he had mown a lawn.

Well, sitting on a lawn mower constitutes mowing a lawn does it not? Only one slight hiccough when Roy got too close to a tree and one of his hearing aids got flicked out. A search party was gathered, grid pattern search about to be instigated when lo and behold, John found it! Thank goodness as it would have been a time consuming, not to mention expensive, exercise to have it replaced (see December 31 2011 for a similar exercise!).

After dinner, a few games of Sequence before it was time to hit the hay.

Today, 25th January, and happy birthday to niece Natalie. Hope you are greatly spoilt, as you deserve to be. And today is also the birth day of our friends Anne & Paul’s new grandchild. We trust all goes well for Michaela and Brad for the birth of their much anticipated baby.


January 21, 2013

What does one do on a very hot Sunday afternoon when the temperature in the shade is reading 31C? You decide that the guest accommodation wing (aka tent) needs a good airing. What with the pending arrival of Alex home from London shortly, she is going to have to sleep somewhere!!!! It seemed to have started something as John thought it would be a good idea to also air out their two tents. Under the blazing afternoon sun, we set out to put up, not one, but three tents.

Roy pegging down the base and John reading the instructions!

John’s tent up, easy it was too.

Our tent up….hmmm, a little more difficult to put up!

Another easy one

Tent city!

Now it looks like a camp ground, what with the three tents up, plus our van complete with awning out!

Now after all that hard work, we deserve a drink…..and what better than to use up some to the fruit from the trees lining the driveway.

Delicious blood orange drink, next we will try the lemonade fruit.

On your bike

January 19, 2013

Friday was spent around John’s place on the outskirts of Whakatane, dealing with the day to day routine things such as laundry, filling with water, cooking, cleaning, oh and lots of talking. A trip into town to see the sights and do a bit of shopping before heading back to the house and van.
Here we are all parked up.

We also made a trip to a Motorhome store where we bought a large groundsheet to go under the awning, hopefully this will mean that there will be less dirt traipsed into the van as well as making it a bit more comfortable for sitting outside. And it will also make up for one of the mats that Chum, the dog, ate for breakfast yesterday!

Some negotiations have been taking place, amidst much mirth, and Roy is now the proud owner of a bike….thanks Jenny! We have the red bike for her, and the blue bike for him. We have no excuses any more, it’s on your bike for us.


Saturday and we are back into housesitting mode as John, Julie and Jenny are off to a wedding in Rotorua. A quiet day for us, just a bit more of the usual daily routine. Although I do admit to raiding the proliferation of citrus trees here, and I am enjoying drinking the juice from grapefruit, blood oranges, lemons and mandarins…oh and limes! I may even become inspired to make some marmalade or some citrus syrups/cordials over the next few days. Then I will have to get on my bike for a bit longer.


December 30, 2012

Well it is that time of year again when the Man in Red entertains all in the household, bringing gifts, food, over indulging, joy and smiles to face, particularly children’s.

Being in Auckland this year allows us to join members of our family and extended family together for the first time in some years.

However before Xmas we had the good fortune to meet the people who had recently bought our house in Cromwell Street.  They have just reroofed and are having the whole place repainted and have made a number of modifications to the interior.  We were given a great tour of the house and grounds.

One thing that has changed substantially since we left was  the size of the Avocado tree we planted in memory of Patches the children’s kitten.  It is now over four metres tall and very prolific.  The Avocado below was given to us to show the size of fruit that was being produced.


Xmas day was spent at Bernice’s niece Erin’s place out at Piha Beach on the West Coast.  The weather in the morning was rather wet and windy in the city but once we had crossed over to the West Coast we were somewhat sheltered and in fact the weather improved as the day went on.

Before leaving we had to open the presents at home.  This was done with due attention to ceremony with each person from youngest to oldest taking it in turns to open as present and show it before the next person was allowed to open theirs.  This caused some consternation among the younger persons present but as they had far more presents than the older persons they were soon satisfied.


Two of the elder “children” i.e. Roy and John, ended up with remote control helicopters for presents which led to a mini air show.  However there is quite some distance to go before they can be classified as competent pilots.

heli 2heli 3

John                                          Antony & Roy

jgmJohn, Jenny, Julie, Mike checking out their spoils

Out at Piha, we were right opposite the beach and surrounded by stunning Pohutakawas (NZ’s Xmas tree), we could watch the surfers do their thing form our vantage point on the deck.

pohutukawa flowerssurfer

But first a time for a bit of fun.  We were all asked to bring along a Secret Santa gift which were laid out on the table, we pulled numbers out of a hat to determine our position and then proceeded to take turns in choosing a gift before opening it and deciding whether to retain the gift or you could swap it with any one of the previously opened presents.  

xmas day 2xmas day 3

Secret Santa time

This caused much hilarity with the swapping of presents, a remote control helicopter was a very popular item and was swapped many times before the end of the game.

Of course there was plenty of food over the day which included a stunning piece of beef which was marinaded and BBQ’d, Ham, lots of lovely salads and vegetables.   There were cheeses and fruits to nibble on, plus a stunning salmon that Clive smoked in his new smoker!

cheese Cheeses & fruit

 Salmon santa

Smoked Salmon                              Strawberry Santa’s  

xmas day 1Eating our lunch on the deck

xmas day 4 xmas day 6

Big and little kids playing!

xmas day 5Water bomb slingshots!  

This Christmas was the first time in many many years that many of Bernice’s siblings have been together.  Here is Bernice with Steve, John and Mike.  The other two sisters, Sue & Hilary, were having Xmas together in Taupo.  One of these days we will all manage to get together for Xmas!

xmas day 9 xmas day 10

Of course that meant that our offspring were also together for the first time in many years.

 girls 2 Steve’s daughters

Sarah, Fran and Erin

cousiesBack row; Antony in middle with John’s daughters Jenny and Julie, front row; Sarah holding her youngest son Finn, Frances and Erin.

Sarah’s eldest son Ben holds the umbrella

girlsgirls 3 

Once he tires of that game, Erin takes over making sure that pregnant Fran is kept cool.

lady at leisure Fran getting comfortable

All in all a wonderful day spent with family and friends.  Mike, John, Julie, Jenny, Bernice, Roy and Antony returned to Mt Eden early evening as by that time we were all pretty well exhausted.  However, Antony had work later that evening….crime never sleeps!