Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Passchendaele Pin

July 22, 2017

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

Roy senior was wounded at the Battle of Broodseinde.

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

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

Inside is an explanatory note

Along with the following

Inside the box is a commemorative pin

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


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

Time to go home

July 18, 2017

It was soon time for Alex to head back to her home in London, not that we wanted to visit to end as it was rather lovely having her with us.  We left Jacky & Chris’ on Friday after a wonderful few days stay with them, their hospitality is always wonderful and their generosity boundless and we cannot thank them enough for it all. 

 We started our journey back to Auckland in the early afternoon, stopping at the Cider Shed for lunch along the way.  This reminded Alex of her ‘cider fridays’ when she worked in Cromwell during university holidays.  She, Antony, Claire and a couple of other friends would apparently treat themselves on a Friday night with a pizza and a cider or three after working hard in the orchards all week. 

We arrived at Antony’s late afternoon and it wasn’t long before we all were at the train station catching a train into Britomart.  Here, eldest son Simon met us for a drink before he was due out for the evening but it gave him a chance to catch up with Alex and say hooray before she left.  I forgot to take a picture of us all together but I did take a picture of the bar with its interesting lights

Macs Brew Bar in the old Northern Steamship Company Building.

Claire and her husband Matt arrived to join us for the rest of the evening, first they all had a cocktail or two Alex and Antony enjoying a cocktail.

It was time to move on and we all walked to a nearby restaurant,  passing through the lovely lit up dining and bar areas at Britomart.  They really have done a great job in sprucing up this area, we can remember not so long ago really when it was not the best area of town to be in, especially at night.

We went to the Hanoi Cafe, a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner where we had a fantastic evening, with great food, excellent service, wonderful company, oh and a few more cocktails! 

 The menu is very good and extensive making a decision on what to have difficult so we ended up asking our excellent waitress if she would choose a selection of plates for us all to share which turned out to be the best way to go.  The food was fresh, tasty and came with delicious sides as well.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

L-R Antony, Roy, Bernice, Alexandra, Matt and Claire.
All too soon it was time for us to catch the train back to Papakura.  Have we mentioned before how we love travelling by train?  it makes life so much easier and for the senior person of this touring party of course the train trip is at no cost as those over a certain age can travel outside peak times for free on public transport.  

The following morning we had to get to the airport so that we could reluctantly allow Alexandra to travel back to London. Some of us are not very good at saying goodbye, with just a few tears shed.  She arrived home safely on Sunday evening NZ time. 

We are now looking forward to our trip to the UK and Europe which is less that 2 months away, and for Antony to join us all for Christmas in London.  

Tiki touring

July 16, 2017

It’s not all relaxing and enjoying the smallholder style of life, we have also done a bit of tiki touring around the area.  We headed off for a day trip around the district with our first stop at the Matakohe Kauri Museum which is just a few kms from Whakapirau.  The kauri is a slow growing tree with beautiful timber  

We spent a good hour or two wandering through all the exhibits.

Here are a couple of small sailing boats built of kauri, with a single large plank of timber in the background which stretched the length of the hall.

I was amused to see the following sign inside one of the small sailing dinghys. 

From there we headed to Dargaville and then onto the Waipoua Forest to see Tāne Mahuta, one of the largest living Kauri trees.  Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree (Agathis australis), its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Its Māori name means “Lord of the Forest”.  

It’s vital statistics are as follows: Trunk girth 13.77 m (45.2 ft),  Trunk height 17.68 m (58.0 ft), Total height 51.2 m (168 ft), Trunk volume 244.5 m3 (8,630 cu ft). Total volume 516.7 m3 (18,250 cu ft).



Alex in front of the tree.

A local Maori guide who happened to be there told us that many many years ago when he was assisting to build a track to the tree, 11 men held hands with arms outstretched to surround the tree.  He also told me that there is an even larger tree but that it is is another part of the forest and a long walk to find it.  We will not be endeavouring to find it this time, besides the heavens opened just as we completed the visit to this tree.

Another day, Mike the friendly local who did the killing  execution bumping off processing of the sheep the other day, offered to take Alex for a jet boat ride around the upper reaches of the Kaipara harbour.

That’s them zooming off across the other side of the harbour, viewed from the deck.  

Family and friends

July 13, 2017

It was time to catch up with Simon, Anita and Maria, Alex had not met Maria so it was a lovely morning spent with them and catching up with all their news, and to have some time with them.

Aunty Alex and Maria


Reading stories


From there we headed to Steve & Leslie’s for a bit of a get together with them and their family and to have lunch.  It was a bit of a kiwi themed lunch with all the old time favourites and treats.  And for some reason I forgot to take a single picture but it was lovely for Alex to catch up with her cousins and their children.

From there we headed up to Jacky & Chris for a few nights.  We had intended on then going to the van for a few nights but it was decided to stay with them until we head back to Auckland on Friday.

Alex decided she needed to relax once we got there

It’s a tough life

But then she did get involved with a bit of farm life

Rockin’ the gumboots aka Wellington boots

She wore the boots to help Jacky, Roy and friend Mike kill murder  prepare a couple of sheep for the table and freezer.

Alex, Jacky and Mike skinning the sheep.
Then a day or so later it was time to cut up the beasts.

Happy in their work
And later that evening, guess what was for dinner?

And damn delicious it was too!

D Day

July 11, 2017

Thursday was D Day, yes, Daughter Day.  Alex arrived from London  for a fleeting visit to check up on her Dad after all the excitement he has been giving us recently ….oh and to see Mum too!  The distance between the two countries seeemed larger and larger and a bit of homesickness started to creep in, so she hopped on a plane to come for a weeks visit.  

We waited patiently at the entrance gates for her to appear

The airport was very quiet with very few people around, we presume they were all in town cheering home the Americas Cup and parade.

Three other flights had also recently landed so we thought we may be in for a bit of a wait, but no, she appeared through the gates quite quickly

I’m home!!

A few tears were shed on arrival, but we were soon on our way back to Antony’s place.   A quiet afternoon was spent, with someone having the odd nap and catching up on sleep.

The next few days were spent tripping around Auckland catching up with friends and family

My pathetic attempt at a selfie!

On Saturday we caught the train into town, and very pleasant it was travelling on the train surrounded by very jovial Lions supporters.  We were meeting up with Alex and her friend Claire and friends Colin & Edwina for lunch.  Again, we were met with a sea of red, Lions supporters in town for the final test against the All Blacks.

Colin very kindly took this photo as again, my attempts at selfies were dismal. Antony, Roy, Edwina, Bernice, Alex and Claire.
It was a fabulous lunch at Ortolana, and we all enjoyed a very relaxed meal together.  Then it was back to Antony’s and prepare to watch the game, although someone had a wee pre game nap on the couch.

Heart throb

June 24, 2017

Just a quick update folks, we have just been to the cardiologist where he is happy with how Roy is tracking and just wants him to continue on meds and he will see him again in three weeks time.  By then he will have discussed with the Urologist the pros and cons of the various types of surgery and options from his perspective and we can move on from there.  

It looks as though the Atrial Fibrillation may have been around for longer than we knew about it and is probably something that Roy will have forever but hopefully it will be kept under control by medication.  It is just getting the balance right, and fingers crossed it appears to be under control now. 

This hiccup is well and truly behind us, and we can move on with more positive things.  

Last weekend I snuck out for a few hours of fishing with Steve in his boat.  It was a glorious day. 

Launching the boat off the beach
We whizzed across to Rangitoto 

Captain Pugwash!
Where we happily fished in the sun for a few hours, and yes we caught lots of baby snapper and only a couple of reasonable size 

You may be able to see the Auckland Sky Tower in the  background, with Rangitoto lighthouse on the left.

As you can see it was a perfect day, Rangitoto island 

Life can now return to some semblance of normality as we head back to the van tomorrow -Sunday. 


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.
Lunch…



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. 

Auckland stranglehold

April 19, 2017

We finally managed to escape from the North Shore when the brakes were finally sorted with the new calipers fitted and everything finally completed and tested.  We made it as far as Papakura where we stayed at the Club for a few nights before heading to the NZMCA park at Ardmore.  Roy had an appointment at Ascot Hospital so we thought it would be convenient being here for a few days before we head north.   

Whilst we were at the club Simon called in with Maria for a visit…

Grandad and Maria
Antony only lives around the corner so he called in as well to catch up although I’m not so sure that Maria was impressed!Simon, Antony and Maria

Things seem to be conspiring against us at the moment as we now have a new issue.  There is a stone chip or two in the windscreen, very small ones mind you, however one is in the drivers sightline  and as part of the COF which is due at the end of the month, we needed to get them repaired.  The chips in question are only the size of my little fingernai.  We organised to have the windscreen looked at and hopefully get the chips fixed but guess what?  Yep, the stone chips cannot be successful repaired so we have to have a new windscreen which of course means it has to be ordered and shipped from the USA.  We are told that it will be a matter of just 10 days before it arrives into the country.  Meanwhile we are stuck at Ardmore until that arrives.  Of course to complicate matters there is Easter weekend and ANZAC day in amongst the time frame which equates to lots of public holidays but hopefully it will not hold things up too much. Meanwhile we wait…..patiently?! 

Both Antony and Roy have had birthdays in the past few days which the three of us have celebrated quietly with a meal or two out.  The years keep rolling around and the numbers inevitably keep getting larger, not that we are complaining!

The weather seems to have finally settled although last week we had the predicted storm Cyclone Cook bearing down on an already soaked landscape.  Fortunately the Cyclone deviated eastwards from its projected path and apart from the odd downpour or two we came off lightly.

Plans?  Well we are not making too many as as soon as we do, something seems to come along to scupper them so stay tuned folks. 

Fishing deluge 

March 28, 2017

The escape tunnel is a washout, drowned in a deluge of torrential rain but more on that shortly.   First onto much nicer things, Friday night we went to Steve & Leslie’s for dinner which was a very nice impromptu dinner.  Whilst there, the fellas hatched a plan to go fishing early in the morning so the boat was quickly prepared and hooked up to Steve’s car ready for a quick getaway in the morning.  Indeed they did head out from Army Bay and were back after a couple of hours with a lovely haul of 9 good sized snapper.  Great, we know what we are having for dinner!!

Roy weighing the fish whilst Steve checks the numbers – yes, it was a good one.

 9 lovely fish.
Later on in the day, Steve rang to say that they were having their three grandsons for the night so he was thinking of bringing them up to go out fishing in the morning.   A  look at the weather forecast, and a bit of a brain wave, and we came up with a revised plan which was for them to come up in the late afternoon and we could have takeaways on the beach whilst Roy and Steve took one boy at a time out for a fish.  Which is exactly what happened.  

Fish and chips at the beach, life jacket on ready to go.

The fisherboys back with their catch
Showing off their catch the next morning before Poppi filleted them all.

It was a great days fishing and lots of fun and laughs for us all – just ask Asher about Aunty Bernice’s Adele impressions, he laughed until he cried!!!of course it was because I was soooo good and my voice is just like hers hahahahahah.

 Just as well we did all our fishing on Saturday as Sunday was forecast to be a little damp, sure enough late on Sunday night the heavens opened.  We had retired for the night and were safely tucked up in bed when the rain really started to pelt down.  I got up to check out of the window to see if everything was OK as I thought I had heard a car revving it’s engine and sure enough there was a car belonging to a camper desperately trying to get out of rapidly rising waters.  A look out of the van window to the rear of the bay we are parked in and the creek at the back was well over it’s banks with a river of water running just a few metres from the van.  At this stage I woke Roy, he got up and ventured out to see what was happening and to make sure that campers were ok (luckily there were only three groups camped in the park).  

One lot of campers at the rear of the camp site had flood waters rush into their tent and they were desperately moving their car and trying to pick up their tent and gear and move to higher ground.  Another family in the next bay to us we’re removing everything they could out of their tents into their vehicles and were abandoning their camp.  By the time Roy had checked on everyone and made sure that the road out was still driveable for those wanting to leave, the waters had risen to surround our van and the water lapping at the wheel rims…time to quickly gather up our bits and pieces and move. Besides, we knew that it was low tide at around this time (1am) and we were not sure what would happen at high tide.   We were quickly into moving mode, I got into the car and positioned myself so that the headlights would light the way for  Roy to  get a good view of where to drive, meanwhile the rain is still bucketing it down.  Safely moved, we then woke up some tourists in a motorhome who were about to be completely surrounded by rising water levels….again, I directed the car headlights to show them the way. By this time it was 1.30am, we were wet, bedraggled, but safely away from the torrent of water racing through the Camp and all campers were safe.  

Of course no pictures were taken at this time, it was too damn dark and wet as well as being too busy getting ourselves sorted to be thinking about pictures. 

We woke in the morning to find that overnight the rain had stopped, the flood waters were quickly receding and the sun was beginning to shine.  The family of campers returned to dry their gear they left behind out in the sunshine before packing it away,  Others were also trying to dry wet tents, sleeping bags and gear.  With further rains forecast with thunderstorms  for later in the day we have parked ourselves on the concrete pad in the middle of the camp well away from the creek and any wet soggy ground.  By mid afternoon everyone else left the camp and we are by ourselves.  

The heavens did open again late on Monday afternoon, this is what it looked like – dull, dark, and very wet

Rain pouring off the awning and our lake side view!

Today is again brilliant sunshine so with all the washing done and the wet gear all dried out, we are hoping that that is the end of the heavy rains for a while.

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.