Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

We’re off

September 26, 2017

Oops, sorry to those who received a half written blog entry yesterday, it was a slip of the finger on the screen.

Bags are packed, passports are at the ready, currency exchanged, what else can there be to do? Yes, we’re off tonight, I can hardly believe that the time has finally arrived for us to step onto the plane for the loooong flights ahead of us.

We finished our housesitting duties last week when Jack & Chris arrived home on Thursday. We really enjoyed our housesitting stint as we were able to catch up with lots of friends and family, plus it was a nice change for us. On Friday we headed to the van, quickly got sorted and made our way down to Papakura for a couple of nights. We caught up with friends Bill & Linda for dinner at the Papakura Club on Friday evening which was lovely to see them and catch up on all their news. Saturday we exercised our democratic right to vote, watching the results come in later that evening but gave up watching after 30minutes or so, pretty unexciting viewing. Sunday we headed off to Kopu to where the van is having some R&M done on it whilst we are away, we stayed the night before returning to Antony’s on Monday. Today has been doing all those last minute chores before we head away, getting the last of the washing done, repacking the bags and taking out what we don’t really need, plus Roy had an appointment with the specialist for his final injection ready for treatment to begin next year when we return.

So that’s about it folks, we fly out later this evening (actually in the early hours just after midnight) for Singapore where we have a short 2hr stopover before the flight to London. We shall endeavour to update the blog on a reasonably regular basis where and when we can. In the meantime, stay safe and well out there!

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Visitors

September 8, 2017

Whilst we have been housesitting, we have had the opportunity to have a number of our friends come to stay with us. And yes, we have approval of the home owners Jacky & Chris to have our friends and family to stay. Over the past few weeks we have had lots of friends come to stay, it’s almost been like running a Lodge!!

We have mentioned previously that we had Pat & Sue visit for a few days. It was a very relaxing time spent playing cards, rummikub and doing jigsaws. After Pat & Sue left, friends from our Tokoroa days came to stay. We have known Wade & Lindsay for a long time, as in since before marriage, children and life took over. It has been great having them to stay and catching up on each other’s news. They were just into their third night with us and we were having such a lovely relaxing time with them when Lindsay got a phone call from France which was to cut short their stay. Her younger brother and best mate Bruce had suddenly collapsed and died at his home near Toulouse. We were/are in shock. It was a quick pack up of all their gear, phone calls made to family, flights were getting sorted, quickly feed them before they hopped into their car for the evening drive to their home in Hamilton. All done within an hour or so, they were soon on their way to collect what they needed and get a bit of sleep before they flew out to France. We wished them safe travels and our sincere condolences to them and their family at this stressful time. Bruce will be sorely missed.

A day or so later friends Skip & Mindy came to stay for the weekend. We met Skip & Mindy at Shakespear as they are very good volunteers on the park, helping out every Tuesday on Volunteer day as well as many other days. This last week or two has seen them helping out with docking of lambs at Shakespear and at least two of the other Regional Parks. They are an amazing couple and we really enjoy their company so it was lovely that they could come up and stay for a couple of days R&R.

Skip, Mindy and Roy sorting out puzzle pieces.

Next we had Ron & Janet for the weekend. Now these folk are some looooooong time friends, as in Roy & Janet started school together as 5 year olds – just a couple of years ago! And Ron & Janet spent a lot of their teenage years at Roy’s parents place where they all spent quite a bit of time together socialising and generally having a good time along with a few others whom Roy is still in contact with. Roy was also best man at Ron & Jan’s wedding, long before I came upon the scene.

concentrating on playing Sequence

This weekend we are due more visitors…..more on them in the next blog.

House sitting

August 21, 2017

It’s been nearly a week since we arrived at Whakapirau to take up our house sitting duties with the handover taking place last Sunday. We quickly settled into some semblance of routine before our first guests arrived. Pat & Sue arrived on Tuesday for a few days stay, they are fellow motorhomers whom we have travelled with over many months the past few years. This year they have wintered over in Kaiteriteri so it was lovely that they flew up to join us for a few days of catch up.

Of course I neglected to take a single picture of us together, I did try one evening when we were playing cards but my attempt at selfies failed yet again, I have figured it is because my arms are too short, and no, I shall not be investing in a selfie stick any day soon. So you will have to be content with a picture of the view from the deck.

view from the deck looking across to Pahi.

We really enjoyed their company especially the many games of cards (girls reign supreme) and getting us back into doing jigsaws which is always a little difficult in a motorhome with lack of space in which to spread out the jigsaw pieces. So far we have done a couple that we have picked up at the second hand store which I shall be returning to in the next few days to swap over the Puzzles.

One of the completed puzzles

We did not get up to much, mainly spending our time catching up interspersed with the occasional bit of farm tending i.e. herding escaped sheep back into their paddock, feeding the hens and collecting eggs, sharing plenty of good food as well as imbibing in the odd vino. All too soon it was time for Pat & Sue to return south and they left on Saturday. We have more guests arriving today but more on them later. In between we have been to evening drinks with the locals at the beach and had one of the locals round for dinner and others for morning tea. All in all quite a social time.

Tokerau Beach

August 12, 2017

We spent a glorious two weeks with Marg & Gary at Tokerau, not doing much in particular but somehow managing to keep ourselves busy and occupied without getting in each other's way.

parked up on the spare section next door. Marg took this picture on one of the fine days!!!

The weather has not been particularly nice, but then again it is winter and it is what we expect. At least we have been fortunate with mild temperatures however that just means it has been very wet and windy.

There was the odd foray out to do a bit of fishing, and a bit of catching as well. As usual I neglected to take any pictures. Note to self, get yourself sorted and into the habit of picture taking again! I did get into some more knitting whilst we were at Tokerau and ended up using up all my bits to make a scarf which I gave to Marg. Just so that you are not disappointed, I kept up my picture-taking-slackness and forgot to take a picture of it!

Marg & Gary had three of their granddaughters visit one weekend and I ended up knitting a couple of bunnies for them, I can't remember the significance of why it had to be bunnies but it was a quick knit up of simple square and sew it up carefully to make a bunny.
Sewing up bunnies….and no, the rum is not mine, it's Roy's.

We left Tokerau Beach to head back down to Uretiti with a short overnight stop in Kerikeri. However, those plans quickly changed to a two night stopover in Kerikeri. One: because the weather was atrocious and we didn't feel like driving through torrential rain and gusty winds and Two: because we came away from Tokerau with a parting gift from Marg….a nasty cold with a hacking cough! Thanx Marg, just what we wanted – NOT!

We have both succumbed to the nasty bug and are doing everything we can to get rid of it as quickly as possible as tomorrow (Sunday) we are due at Whakapirau to take up our house sitting duties for a month, and we do not need to pass on our bugs to Chris before he heads off to join Jacky on their trip hiking the Norwegian fiords.

So another quick wrap up of life with the Vannini's. The blog will become much more interesting soon enough as we head off on another adventure so be sure to watch this space. Meanwhile we look forward to our sojourn at Whakapirau and visits from lots of friends and family.

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.

Uretiti & Ruakaka

May 26, 2017

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


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

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


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

Here we are all set up nicely for the week.

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

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

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

A flying visit

April 22, 2017

When we get a call from friends Barry & Sandra asking if we will be around to join them for morning tea, we know that it will be a flying visit – literally!

As we are currently parked at the motorhome parking area at Ardmore Airport it was an opportune time for Sandra & Barry to visit from their home at Taupo Airport.  You see they have a plane with which they hop into to make their visits and sure enough just before 10am they landed at the airstrip in front of us!


We wandered down to greet them and spent the next couple of hours at the Airport Cafe catching up on all each other’s news before putting the world to rights.

It’s not the first time that they have visited, there was the time when we were in Takaka, Kaitaia and in Thames.  As well as us visiting them at their base in Taupo and here.

We were interrupted from our chatting by the roar of engines, sure enough there were 5  Harvard planes lined up ready for a takeoff.   These are part of the Warbirds collection that regularly fly at air shows and events around the country.  And with a roar they were all off in quick succession and were soon flying in formation over the city, we presumed as practise for ANZAC Day commemorations next week. 



Soon it was time for Sandra and Barry to head back home to Taupo.  It’s always great to catch up with them and we look forward to the next time.

Sandra, Roy & Barry