Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Never a dull moment

March 20, 2020

I apologise now for the long wordy post, however make yourself a cuppa, sit back in a comfy chair, and enjoy the read!

They say that life in hospital is quite boring and that time seems to go by very slowly, but not for me. Looking back, I don’t think I realised just how ill I was as days blurred into one another and I seemed to want to do nothing but sleep. Eating was not high on my priority list and I don’t think I really ate anything much for at least the first four or five days, besides, the food at the hospital is worse than bad, it’s terrible, not what should be fed to very ill people who are in need of nutrient rich food, however, I have been very fortunate for friends and family to come to the rescue with delicious food parcels for me.

Excitement does occur occasionally and that happened on Monday morning when on my return from a bathroom visit, a dodgy looking, scruffy couple came into my room, scouted around the others cubicles ( I’m in a four bed room), so I asked “can I help you, are you looking for someone?” The reply was ” oh no, just looking for a pen”. Hmmm I thought, that doesn’t sound right, as I was trying to get back into my bed the girl asked ” do you need help?” No I do not” I replied, given with one of those stern looks of you’d better get out now before I beat you with one of my crutches looks! “Oh” she said, “oh right, I suppose we should go and put our uniforms on”. With that they left the room and I could see them wandering up and down the corridor. I thought to myself, nope, this doesn’t feel right, so I rang the bell for the nurse and told them what had just occurred. Soon, I hear the nurse came back into our room to tell the other nurse who was with me that there was a code Orange alert and security were on their way. Shortly, we heard that the security cornered this couple, who apparently were going from room to room stealing patients belongings. Police were called and arrived very quickly, they were arrested and removed. All this was done in probably less than 15minutes from my first encounter with them. But how low can you go, stealing from very ill people, on an orthopaedic ward where they probably knew how immobile most patients are. All rather dramatic.

On Tuesday the excitement was to ramp up a little. I mentioned in my last blog about the ungrateful, rude American woman in the next bed to me. Mrs P we shall call her. Mrs P (in her early 80’s, very fit and mentally onto it) had broken her upper femur whilst on a tour of NZ. Well, her daughter (Miss A) arrived from the US on the Sunday morning having independently booked some sort of cycling tour which just so happened to cross over time wise by a few days of Mrs P’s trip. Miss A had been up to the hospital visiting many times, always wearing a mask, and never coming too close to any of the rest of us although I did engage in conversations with her as she seemed a little more amenable than her cantankerous mother. Well, Tuesday evening after Miss A had left, and other visitors had left Mrs P was visited by the charge nurse and was told that with the way things are, Mrs P needed to be removed to a single, isolated room, tested for Covid-19 and Miss A was no longer able to visit the hospital and should go into self isolation. Mrs P was not impressed and threw a hissy fit….her daughter had arrived before the cut off time albeit by a few hours, why wasn’t she Mrs P being removed back to the US now, her insurance company was saying one thing, her son in the US another, the medical team at AKL hospital something else, airlines were all against her…blah blah blah blah. Nothing about putting others at potential risk.

Well, that sent us all into a mild panic, to say the least. I really really felt for one of my other room mates who not only had surgery for fractured bones but is also undergoing chemotherapy so her immunity is seriously compromised. Mrs P was removed from our room without a thank you or good bye from her as she was wheeled out. The stripping and cleaning of the room began….all this was now after midnight.

Meanwhile I was keeping my family up to date with what was going on. Antony had been in to visit that same evening and he was here when Miss A was visiting, and sat in the chair next to my bed on the side which Mrs P was, albeit behind the dividing curtain. Antony immediately rang his boss and put himself into self isolation because as he said he did not want to become “patient 31”. Yes, I know, I didn’t know what that meant either until a quick google search. As a brief explanation “Patient 31upended South Korea’s coronavirus-containment efforts, Patient 31 Caused 80% of Coronavirus Infections in South Korea, showcasing the importance of testing and social distancing.

The remaining three of us were subsequently visited by management, at some ungodly hours of the morning, questions answered as best they could and reassurances, as such, were given. None of us had any contact with Miss A or Mrs P for that matter, Miss A did wear a mask whenever she was in the room, and was never within a metre of any of us, however, that niggling doubt sticks in the back of ones mind, and we wait for Mrs P’s test results to return, before we all panic too much.

But the thing that got me the most was the arrogant selfish attitude of Mrs P, she was not concerned about any one else at all, in fact all she was worried about was herself, and she kept going on about the fact that Miss A had arrived before the isolation cut off time time of midnight Sunday. And yes she did arrive before midnight but by only a few hours before the curfew was invoked and of course subsequently all tourist arriving 14 days prior to the official cut off time have been told now to self isolate. Miss A certainly hadn’t come to NZ to see her mother, no she was booked on an independent trip, which was subsequently cancelled as soon as she got here. The relationship between mother and daughter I would have called platonic at best and was not particularly warm or even amicable.

I really really feel for the amazing nurses that work at Auckland Hospital, they too are all worried as of course they had very close contact with Mrs P.

So we waited, and waited, for the test results to come in. This is when time really did seem to drag, meanwhile Antony was at his home, keeping out of physical contact with work, as he said, the last thing needed at this time was for a whole section of detectives to be taken out of action. We waited and waited. Meanwhile, I start to feel better and better each day. My “numbers” are reducing rapidly which means the antibiotics are working. I must add here, that I have always been of the understanding that I was allergic to penicillin, coming out in a rash, this from childhood, which let’s face it was a few years ago now! I was put on an antibiotic that was on the penicillin spectrum but which between the Infectious Diseases team and the Allergic reaction team agreed I should be able to tolerate. The type of infection that I apparently have responds really really well to a very specific narrow based type of penicillin, Benzylpenicillin, which I was keen to try as I did wonder about my supposed allergy. Again after much to-ing and fro-ing between my surgical team, the Infectious Diseases team and the allergic reaction team, and as I was seemingly tolerating the other drug very well, we decided to give one dose a go. Well, of course nothing happened, no rash, no anaphylactic reaction of any kind, so I’m on the Benzylpenicillin with no side effects at all plus of course it is really targeting the bug causing the infection.

As I need to be on the drug, given intravenously, for 6 weeks, the thought of being in hospital for 6 weeks was horrifying, I was told the best way of administering the drug and to get me out of hospital was if I had a PICC line inserted. Peripherally Inserted Central Cather, PICC, line is inserted into your arm under local anaesthetic, the line runs up the vein inside your arm and ends up in a large vein in your chest. It is often used for administering chemotherapy.

I had this procedure done on Tuesday morning, not without some angst on my part….well, I am a wuss. My dear friend Di came to visit that morning and was waiting for me when I returned from having the procedure done. She was brilliant, as I don’t like all the gory details of what is done, on my return to my room Di went off with the nurse to have explained to her out of my earshot about the line I had put in and how it’s all attached externally etc etc. Di could then relate all of this to Roy, and I don’t really want to know!

Apart from being a little uncomfortable once the local had worn off, it wasn’t too bad, just unpleasant. It now meant I could have the other IV needles removed, and also bloods can be taken from the line as well so no more being a pin cushion.

In hospital I was having the antibiotic administered every 4 hours, but it now meant I could go home and have a 24 hour infusion attached. This infusion method is changed once every 24 hours and can be done from home via a District Nurse visiting, and I can be taught how to do it myself.

Meanwhile, we still wait for test results.

The wonderful OPIVA Nurse (Outpatient Intravenous Antibiotics) came Wednesday afternoon to explain to me how it all works and to give a little demo. This was now getting exciting as it meant that I’m ever closer to being discharged and with the outside world going crazy with Covid-19 news I was looking forward to being at home. Thursday morning and my surgeon visits, he is really happy with the way things are looking, and if everything can be put into place, was I happy to be discharged this afternoon? Really? I’m ecstatic! Behind the scenes teams have been working hard at sorting out the realities of my life because of course we have no fixed address. We use Antony’s address as a nominal address but as we are staying at Shakespear for the duration of my treatment, I was actually causing problems by being under 3 different District Health Boards. With some fabulous team work, I am sorted, I get my OPIVA stuff all done under one DHB and I can continue under the care of my surgeon through another DHB rather than the one covered by Antony’s address which means I get continuity of care.

Thursday morning and I’m given another demo of administering the PICC line, with my first hook up to the system scheduled for 3pm and if Roy could come in at that time he could also become au fait with what is happening and once that is done I could be discharged.

Test results finally come in, Mrs P is negative, phew, we can all relax a little.

So that’s where we are now, I’m at home, back in the van, I am comfortable in changing the infuser full of antibiotics into my PICC line daily although the District Health Nurse will oversee my first changeover today and then I can just go to their hub once a week to get dressings and fittings changed. By administering it myself also means one less thing for stressed and stretched health worker resources to be under. I’m sure as things develop over the next few weeks/months they need as much help as they can get. I get my medication couriered to me once a week, of course it has to be kept refrigerated, but we are comfortable with managing this. I have to have weekly blood tests, visit the Nursing hub once a week, see my surgeon once a week (initially), enough to keep us busy.

I won’t be doing much as I am under strict instructions to rest, rest and rest. Hopefully next week I will be able to have the 35+ staples removed from my knee, and I’ll get into the swing of things generally. Here is where you can say thank you for not putting up the pictures of my knee with the staples in it!!!

As the weather cools, and with world events ever changing, we don’t expect too many campers will be coming in and certainly no more school, scout or guide groups in. So you could say we are self isolating.

The world has certainly changed, for the better? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I don’t think we realise what is ahead of us. Stay safe with your families friends and neighbours. Look out for each other.

Visitors, surgery and stuff!

February 14, 2020

We had another busy weekend with visitors as well as a campground full of people. Antony came up for the weekend with the drawcard being the Friday night poker with Roy and others. Niece Fran came to visit for the day on Saturday with her eldest daughter Bea and cousin Finn. The kids had a great time at the beach playing in the water, even though the tide was waaaaaay out.

Fran standing at the waters edge, coaxing Bea and Finn back into the shallows!!

Bea and Finn…butter wouldn’t melt in their darling wee mouths!

They also had fun sliding down the hill on their boogie boards in the campground, it kept them amused for some time.

Sliding down the grass bank.

We’ve had incredible weather over the past couple of months and we are now officially in drought conditions. The situation further north is really serious as we know that in some places public access to water taps has been cut off, and some campgrounds have had to close due to lack of water. There are restrictions in place for householders and in some towns, the situation is extremely serious.

Here, we have put out water in shallow containers for the birds, which we seem to have to refill a couple of times a day for them, but they are desperate for water. The bigger problem is of course that the ground is so hard that birds like Kiwi cannot dig into the baked earth for food, and we know that in some areas further north, Kiwi are dying because of the lack of food and/or water.

But back to our visitors. Friends Pat & Steve called in and stayed for a night in their caravan on their way south, it was great to catch up with them again whilst spending a couple of days with them. Another friend John came to stay with his 3 sons for a few days R&R. John also writes a blog which you can read here. Of course I forgot to take photos didn’t I?

I also got confirmation of my surgery plans for Monday and the diagnosis from the MRI. Apparently I have “mild canal stenosis at the L4/L5 level due to disc bulging and severe hypertrophic facet joint osteoarthritis, particularly on the left side”. Dr Google helped with the understanding of all this, plus the explanation of “the trochanteric Avulsion fracture, non-union, of the left hip”. In a nutshell, it means that I’m a crock of rubbish bones….shoulda got better genes! However, it does mean that the knee replacement can go ahead on Monday and as long as everything goes to plan and I recover as well as last time, we will be on our way to the UK in April as planned.

We can’t wait to see this wee happy fellow again.


Lots of visitors and new neighbours

February 3, 2020

Not only are we busy with a constant stream of campers here at Shakespear, we have also had lots of visitors of our own. My brother Steve & his wife Leslie came for lunch one day and ended up staying for dinner as well. Our son Antony was here as well, as he usually comes to stay if he has a day or two off work, usually at the weekends, and it’s always nice to have him come and stay and see him relax.

The following weekend Steve & Les’ eldest daughter Sarah along with her hubby Shaun and their three boys Ben, Asher and Finn came out for the day. They have just returned to NZ after living in Melbourne for two years so it was great to catch up with them and see how much the boys have grown…..not grown up enough as yet to reject a hug from Great Aunty Bernice though 😉.

You will note at this point that there are no pictures, yes, I’m doing my usual thing of not taking any pics as it just seems so wrong to bring out the camera in the midst of conversations.

Our dear friends Wade & Lindsay came to stay for a couple of nights mid week, and it’s always great to catch up with them and all their news. I did manage to take a very bad selfie as we had just opened a special bottle of wine. There is a back story to the wine, briefly, back in the day (as in through the 1970’s and 1980’s) we were known as having a very good wine cellar, in particular a favourite of ours was Nobilo’s Pinotage (vintage 1972), other Nobilos vintages and Matawhero wines. We still happen to have a couple of bottles of selected vintages with us so for old times sake we thought we should open one to see just how bad it was!

1983 Pinot Noir, prior to opening!

The first pour…yes, that brown looking sludge on the right is what came out of the bottle!!

The 1983 brown muddy version in the centre glass flanked by a 2018 Pinot Noir. Needless to say, after straining the brown sludge through gritted teeth, the bottle was “accidentally” knocked over and the contents soaked into the grass! NB. The grass is still alive a couple of days later.

And the very bad selfie I managed to take.

Bernice, Lindsay, Wade and Roy

Note to self….grow longer arms for better selfies!

In between visitors, I have again been out driving the mule whilst Ranger Bruce does the tracking cards, this time we went right around the whole park and got some lovely views.


Looking across to Little Barrier Island in the distance

View across to Rangitoto from near the fence separating the Defence Land from the Park.

Looking out to Rangitoto Island

Looking down into Te Haruhi Bay, the main campground is out of sight on the far right

Looking across to Auckland City, you may be able to just make out the sky tower on the horizon, with the Motorhome parking area in the foreground

I really enjoyed getting out and about to parts of the park I’ve never been to before, and to do something productive as well.

We’ve met up with friends Anne & Greg in Orewa for lunch, and we’ve had almost a continuous stream of visitors; from campers we’ve become friends with over the years to staff and other volunteers from the park, and other friends and family. The tea and coffee have had to be regularly replenished, as have the biscuit, cheese and wine & beer supplies. It’s all good though and we wouldn’t have it nay other way.

Antony has been back again for the weekends with us, I think the lure of Friday nights playing poker with Bruce and some of the Navy boys is more of a draw than anything else. And yes, Roy goes along to poker nights as well, I’ve been invited along many times but I have refused as an evening on my own is quite nice occasionally!

Now, onto the new neighbours. Some of you may have read in the news that the Navy base next to Shakespear is to become the quarantine centre for returning kiwis from the Wuhan district of China. In preparation, the rangers have been flat out getting all the trapping and tracking work done in a couple of days as the place will be in lockdown from Wednesday.

We’ve been kept fully up to date with what is going on. No we are not concerned, nor are we taking extra “precautions” but some people seem to think that it is the start of a zombie apocalypse! We will not be affected nor probably even know about our new neighbours apart from increased media presence around the entrance to the park.

However, today whilst I was on a mission to remove bottle tops hammered into bollard posts, I think I’ve found the source of the Coronavirus…

Bottle tops

I’ve managed to remove all bottle tops, all put on by one vandalous group in the last week, 303 tops later, I’ve done my good deed.

The start of my mission, 25 bollards and 303 bottle tops later, I’ve finished clearing them all.

A New Year

January 2, 2020

2020 is here, why is it that it seems just a short while ago we were celebrating the millennium? Time certainly does seem to fly.

First of all a quick look back on the past year and it certainly was an eventful one in more ways that one. We managed to catch up with lots of family and friends over the year, both here in New Zealand and in the UK. Of course our big news for the year was the arrival of our grandson Callum, we feel so privileged to have been there for his birthday and the first three months of his life. He is growing so fast and we cannot wait to head back to see him this April.

Callum with his cousin Beth

“who? me?” I can sit by myself!!

Health wise we have both been reasonably well, apparently my hip is healing nicely so I’m expecting to be able to have my other knee replaced sometime in the new year, all going well.

All in all 2019 was a good year and we are looking forward to the year ahead.

Meanwhile back at Shakespear, campers have come and gone. We have been very spoilt this year with many gifts from grateful campers of wine & chocolates, as well as some spoils from their diving and fishing expeditions…

Crayfish for dinner.

As well, we received a lovely HUGE hamper from the Rangers with all sorts of goodies that we have been thoroughly enjoying.

Antony went back home to work after Christmas, but was back again to join us for a week over the New Year and we have enjoyed having him around. And in response to a question on what game we were playing in the previous post, it was a game called Sequence. As well, many, many, many, games of Five Crowns have been played, and we have got Bruce (Head Ranger) hooked onto the game too. As Bruce’s family were away for Christmas and New Year, he has joined us most evenings for dinner followed by many games of Five Crowns. I haven’t kept a tally of wins but I’m sure I’m doing very well. I must add here that our obsession with the game is thanx to Marilyn & David, the Kiwi narrowboaters we met in the UK earlier in the year. We have even got to the point of making up score sheets to print off and use, such is our obsession!

I again went out driving the mule (ATV) for Bruce on New Years Eve whilst he collected tracking cards. I enjoyed the views over the park from the high vantage points.

A peek of the campground in the background

Te Haruhi Bay

The other little bit of news is that we are “world famous” in our own lunchtime! with an article published in the latest Motorhomes, Caravans and Destinations Magazine

Magazine cover

We promise not to let the notoriety go to our heads!

And in responses to another request, my blog posts on sourdough making are coming soon, they are really, honestly!

Christmas in the camp

December 27, 2019

Christmas Eve was busy with families setting up their campsites ready for their annual holidays with lots of excited children awaiting the arrival of the jolly man dressed in red. Meanwhile, head Ranger Bruce was literally running around trying to get all his work done which included checking the tracking tunnels. So to help him out, I drove the mule (small all terrain vehicle) as he crashed and bashed his way through the undergrowth changing the tracking tunnel cards, with me picking him up at the end of a line and taking him to the next line.

The only pictures I thought to take were at the end of the last line looking down over the bay

Te Haruhi Bay with a view of the campground peeking through on the right

It was still quite windy on Christmas Eve so the wind surfers were out in force in the bay enjoying a bit of fun

Wind surfers in action

Antony arrived in the afternoon to join us and as the evening drew in, children were in bed relatively early and all was quiet waiting for Santa to arrive.

We had a leisurely start to Christmas day with a lovely breakfast, and the leisure continued from there with a very relaxed Christmas Day for us. We played cards and games most of the day under the shade of the trees.

Me trying my hand at selfies again….

We had a little excitement in the afternoon as the water for the park came to a complete stop which meant no water for the toilets, showers or drinking. But a short time later water was back on albeit a little discoloured. However, unbeknownst to us, the main part of the park was experiencing its busiest day on record which meant that even though the toilets weren’t able to be flushed, people still utilised them….I shall leave the rest to your imagination! Poor Bruce had to deal with the resulting mess which is not the best way to end your Christmas Day.

Later that evening Bruce joined us for Christmas dinner….and I forgot to take any pictures. However, it was all delicious and went down a treat.

To finish off our day we got a lovely video call from Alex, Ian and Callum and later received some photos of their Christmas fun.

Christmas Eve at Ian’s brothers place

Top L-R: Matt helping Callum, Denny family photo, Bottom L-R: Alex with Callum and his cousins, and a bit tired at the end of the day

Top: Callum opening presents, Bottom: with Brian & Julie, on Grandad’s knee

We trust you all had a lovely Christmas, all the very best for 2020.

Seasonal salutations

December 23, 2019

Seasonal salutations to you and your families, here’s looking forward to 2020. 2019 was a good year, the highlight being the welcoming of Callum to our family and especially being there for the first 3 months of his life. We are really looking forward to heading back to the UK in April to spend more time with him and his family.

We have decorated our trees in our usual fashion…

our eco friendly, organic, natural Christmas tree aka Pohutakawa.

The van has been festooned with lights

Lights along the awning

And we are geared up for visitors with the guest accommodation set up in readiness

Guest accommodation

Antony is joining us for Christmas this year, and we will no doubt collect a few more strays along the way.

Roy had a trip to Ashburton last week to spend some time with his grandchildren there, and in usual Vannini fashion, he neglected to take a single picture!! We are getting really good at this lack of photo taking abilities between the two of us. He also managed a quick trip to Geraldine to catch up with friends Bill & Linda.

Here’s wishing you all health and happiness and a very safe festive season. Enjoy!

Proud parents

November 10, 2019

We interrupt this regular broadcast for an important message, this time nothing to do with Motorhomes, where we’ve been, who we’ve seen, what we’ve been fishing or other escapades, this time it’s all to do with being proud parents.

We hasten to add that we are very proud of all our children, they are all wonderful people in their own right, each with their own great career and they all make valuable contributions to making a difference in this world. However, once in a while they get recognised for their work and efforts, and this exact thing happened to our son Antony at a recent Annual Police Awards night.

Award Trophy

There was also a certificate with a long citation explaining why he was given the award but we cannot publish what it says as some of the content is operational and still before the courts therefore not for public viewing. But it was very glowing in its entirety.

It’s nice to know that hard work is recognised and rewarded. We are thrilled for you Ants, well done.

Usual transmission will resume shortly.

Plan B and another little task or two

October 1, 2019

We had intended to be heading on out of Auckland long before now but sometimes life just throws a curve ball at you. Actually it feels as though the curve balls have been coming at us in a continuous stream over the past year or two, and I can tell you that we are getting pretty good at batting away those balls.

So to plan B, to cut a long story short, Roy had to have a few tests and the like done which meant we had to stay around Auckland at Ardmore for an extra couple of weeks. The upshot is that he is all good and we can soon get back to plan A.

On the positive side it has meant that we’ve spent a bit of time with Antony, well, that really means that we have been heading around to his place most nights for me to cook dinner for us all, not that I mind at all and I’m sure he doesn’t either. And it’s been great to watch the rugby with him as well.

We’ve also managed to catch up with Simon, Anita and Maria and spend some time with them. Maria turned 3 the day after we returned from the UK so it was lovely to catch up and spend some time playing games that only 3 year old girls like to play! She is a delightful young lady and a pleasure to be around.

So to keep busy whilst we wait, there has been another couple of tasks that I’ve managed to get underway whilst at Ardmore.

Many years ago, my lovely sister-in-law Ann made us a beautiful quilt. Ann loved her quilting and over the years made many heirloom keepsakes for family and friends. As well, she was involved with quilting guilds on a local and national level and she loved going off with friends for weekend retreats and workshops.

We love our quilt and had been on our bed just about ever since it was gifted to us. It is made even more special since Ann sadly passed away just over 7 years ago, aged 59, but we remember her every day that we look at the quilt. However, the quilt has started to need some repair as the batting that she used inside the quilt has shrunk with washing and some of the material has started to fray.

The last time I saw my sister Sue (also an expert quilter), she said that if I unpicked all the quilting she would repair, reback, and rebuild it for me. A huge task in itself but the unpicking is not an inconsiderable task either.

Not one to back out of a challenge, I started on the incredibly laborious task of unpicking the tiny machine quilted stitching this week. With quick unpick in hand, I carefully started on one side of the quilt. After many many hours with not much to show except very sore fingers and bits of cotton everywhere, I had managed to unpick one small edge side of quilting. I was quite proud of my efforts.

See all that tiny tiny stitching in the pale coloured material? Yep, I have to unpick a queen sized quilts worth of this!!!

To give you an idea of scale, each one of these little squares is approximately 4cm…that’s an awful lots of stitching to undo

I was sitting in the van doing a bit of unpicking when some fellow motorhomers called in for a cuppa. We’d only met Debbie & Chris the week before but we enjoyed chatting with them so invited them in for morning coffee. Debbie noticed my unpicking and asked what I was doing, she said she was a seamstress/dressmaker (ok, what IS the difference between the two?) and could she show me a quicker way to unpick? Oh yes please, said I. First I needed to go and buy some one sided razor blades and she would show me what to do.

Later that same day, with a pack of razor blades in hand I was knocking on their door asking for a quick lesson in fast unpicking. Debbie showed me the method; cut the stitching with the razor blade between the backing material and batting pulling it apart to expose the stitching and cutting the thread. As we are replacing the backing material there will be no issue if I have a wee oops!

Well, now there is no stopping me. What was going to take me a month of Sunday’s before even making a dent with the unpicking, after three days I have the bulk of it done and another week should see it all finished. Thank you so much Debbie for showing me the way!

Some of the fabric is pretty fragile, I just hope that somehow Sue will be able to work some of her magic on it for us.

During the week I also got another task done, that is making my Christmas Cakes. I went round to Antony’s to utilise his oven, as one of the cakes has a 3 and half hour bake time .

Christmas cake one underway

This recipe is the one my mum used to make not only for Christmas but also for our wedding cakes. We love this cake with a slice of cheddar cheese – a Yorkshire way of eating fruit cake. The recipe is actually my grandmothers and contains just sultanas, raisins and currants (1.75kg – nearly 4lbs) and no nuts. It’s supposed to have a dash or two of brandy in it but we didn’t have any but I did find a good alternative.

Found this substitute for brandy in our stash.

We brought this Armagnac back from France some time ago so I thought it is a good swap as it is a style of brandy, and I carefully measured it in exactly the same way Mum did….a good glug or two poured straight from the bottle into the cake mix is a measure isn’t it?

Ready for the oven

and the end result

Baked and cooled

Time to wrap them up and put away in the tins for a month or two.

Then it’s onto the next cakes, these ones are a recipe I have developed over the years and is basically all fruit and nuts, some call it a stained glass window cake as when the cake is sliced it resembles a stained glass window. This time Roy sacrificed some of his rum to go into these cakes, rationed nip measures of course.

Ready to go in the oven

Once the cakes were cooked and cooled, I wrapped them tightly in tinfoil and went to put them in the tin, but guess what? each cake was just a little too long to fit into the cake tin so a sliver had to be sacrificed off each end.


Of course we had to sample the trimmed slices, with a cup of tea, as it would have been a waste otherwise 😉. We can report it is delicious!

Unpack and a reshuffle

September 19, 2019

The worst thing about getting home after a long time away is the unpacking, nothing ever seems to fit back where it should, or you cannot remember where things should go, and of course there is all the extra goodies that we brought home with us to find a new home.

Actually, we didn’t bring too much back with us although the bags seemed to be fairly full. We did bring back with us a Lagun table leg for the van. See here for a clip of it in action. Its a height adjustable swivel table mount that you can then put on your choice of table top. Now, that’s the issue, we don’t have a table top as yet that we are both happy with. Much debate will ensue I am sure.

I did bring back some tea bags though, rather a lot! Not only the 480 Yorkshire tea bags but also tea bags with a malty biscuit flavour!! It’s the tea you have when you want a biscuit but don’t want the calories.

Tea bags and a cuppa

Yes, I know, you can buy the tea bags here but these were such a large quantity for a bargain price, I just could not resist.

Also brought back were a couple of items I picked up at IKEA for the van kitchen and pantry, and some organisational pieces for the wardrobes. I can’t think of what else we brought back, apart from wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends.

It’s about time to have a good clean out of lockers, ditch a load of gear that we have been carting around for “justin” …….as in just-in-case, either to off load to store at Antony’s or just get rid of stuff.

The shed at Ardmore became the recipient of some fairly decent items, all to give away in the hope that they find their way to a good home.

Items included;

a Navman GPS (we use our phones/iPads for navigation) including the instructions

A portable 600w inverter (we have a decent built in one)

Headphones and charging cord

USB Charging plugs

4 x Stainless steel drink bottles

A static mini cycle

Various other items. NB. all items disappeared within a few hours of putting them out.

Lockers have been emptied and anything not used in the past year or two have been put into storage and a reshuffle of other lockers items have been done to make better use of the space.

As well, a bit of R&M has been undertaken on the van; the sliding door inside has had some mods done to make it glide more efficiently, the drivers side wing mirror mount has had a bit of TLC after we noticed the mirror wobbling a bit. The fridge has a new ignitor installed after it spat the dummy on our return. And the major thing has been some welding work done on our A-Frame after a weld broke, with it all now having been checked and sorted.

And in case you were missing out seeing lots of Callum pictures, here are a few to keep you going!!

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig.

September 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

The kit and the note from Callum

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

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

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

We were cooking this

Tonight’s dinner

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

The result

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

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

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

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

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

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

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