Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

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.

Visits, visitors and a birthday

August 11, 2019

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years Alex arrived back in NZ bringing with her a new friend from the UK. Jennifer (aka Beanie) had not travelled at all before these two ventured on an epic trip through SE Asia then onto NZ. They joined us at Pen-y-bryn for a bit of a respite before continuing with their travels. We even went camping with the girls, joining them for a couple of days in Central Otago before we lent them our car and tent to continue on their trip around the South Island of NZ. So it was lovely to be told that Beanie was coming to visit us this week.

Beanie and Callum

It was fantastic to hear of her news and what she is up to these days. Beanie is a chef, she and Alex met when Alex worked at the Middle House in Mayfield when Alex first arrived in the UK. Beanie now works at an all girls school in the village, where she works 5 days a week with regular hours and no split shifts, and no stress!!! It’s so lovely that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally and of course it was just lovely for us to see her again.

Roy and Ian were off to football that same evening so it was a girls dinner at home for us, and a very nice roast chicken with a pile of roast veges with a ratatouille to complete the meal. For those who are unaware, Roy doesn’t eat chicken so we take every opportunity to have our fill when he is not around!

We bade farewell to Beanie later that evening and look forward to seeing her again next time we are over.

The following day Roy and Barry (Ian’s Dad) went off to the Docklands Museum for a visit for which Roy assures me that he will write up a blog ….one of these days!! Meanwhile, Alex and I took ourselves off to Melucci’s in Bexley for lunch.

We both have double chins? Oh, I thought you said double gins!!!

Anyone for cake?

We had a lovely lunch, so much so that Roy & I are off there next week for dinner. Alex Callum & I had to sit in the cafe for a while after lunch as the heavens opened and it just poured with rain, and as we were catching the bus home, we didn’t fancy standing out in the rain getting soaked particularly as it is such a narrow road the gap between the shops, footpath, and road are all within a few feet of each other and there was a small river of water running down the road for the vehicles to go through and soak us even more. The rain soon passed and we were on our way. Even though Bexley is just a few short miles from home, we were surprised to get home to find that there was no evidence of any rain and the washing was dry on the line as well.

Later in the week Roy and I were meeting up with cousin Jackie & her husband Hossein in London for lunch as they were coming down from Milton Keynes for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. Funnily enough it took us just as long to get into town from Erith as it did for them coming from Milton Keynes. We met at the OXO tower as we had a booking for lunch.

Oxo tower

The view over the Thames

Roy, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Hossein

Fish sandwich for the girls and Pasta with mushrooms and hazenuts for the boys

After a lovely long lunch we bade our farewells before going on our separate journeys, our initial destination was the Borough Market for a quick visit.

Paella Paella Paella

Fish selection, and yes we did buy a gurnard

Friday also happened to be Alex’s birthday, so it was straight home to get dinner sorted for everyone. Fortunately I had done lots of prep the day before so there wasn’t much to do.

Birthday dinner L-R Alex, Ian Roy, Bernice, Vicki, Jen

Elaine getting in her cuddles

Birthday cake – dairy free!!

This was not the end of the celebrations though, the following night we went out for a family dinner in Bexleyheath with Ian’s family. We had a lovely dinner and it was great to catch up with everyone as well. Unfortunately I neglected to take any pictures, we were all far too busy talking and eating however I am sure that there will be another opportunity for a group photo soon.

Another Narrowboat

August 7, 2019

We came half way around the world and who should we meet up with? None other than one of Alex’s school friends, Kaz, from Oamaru. We’ve met up with her in London before notably Christmas Day 2017, but this time we were visiting her at her place which just happens to be on a narrowboat, right here in Central London. She is residing on board a narrowboat for the summer which is moored on the canal just behind Regents Park.

But first we had to get there. Our travel plans were complicated by two major events taking place, first a major bike race around central London which closed several roads as well as disrupting travel options. Secondly, there were planned major repair work going on on many central train lines which also disrupted travel. We drove to Barnehurst to catch the train to Victoria Station, then we would catch a bus down Edgeware Road to get off near the canal.

The general route

And here’s where we are heading.

At Victoria , we stepped out into theatre land.

Wicked show

Award winning show Hamilton

No shows for us today though, instead it was onto the bus towards Regents Park.

Kaz met us at the bus stop and we walked the short distance to the boat. Of course as is my usual manner I forgot to take any pictures of the boat or us inside it but we did take a picture or two of looking down onto the boats lined up.

The boat is on the left with the dark blue cratch cover

The canal itself is very full of weed and algae with very little water movement however it did not detract from our enjoyment.

We spent a lovely afternoon checking out the boat, interesting for us as this was a very different layout to NB Waka Huia and also very different finishes. The afternoon was spent talking and catching up with Kaz and what’s happening with her life in London, she will be leaving her abode on the canal soon as the owners will be returning to the boat she is on but she is seriously looking at another “boat sitting” stint or perhaps even purchasing a boat to live on. We shall see what eventuates.

Time to retrace our steps

Callum’s first bus trip

Along Edgeware Road onto Park Lane we travelled

Past the very upmarket houses, hotels, shops and cars back to Victoria Station. Then reverse the train trip back to Barnehurst, pick up the car and then home.

Back home again where the fellows put together a play gym for Callum, it very much reminded me of the Christmas scene where the young child gets a train set and Dad and Grandad then spend the rest of the day playing putting it together.

No, this bit goes here….or perhaps we should read the instructions!!!

Callum testing out his new toy

Yep, I quite like this!!

Family are friends

July 29, 2019

There is an old saying that goes something like ‘you can choose your friends but not your family’ which has some negative connotations about family relationships and all that goes with that. However, we have yet again experienced the absolute opposite of all those implied connotations when we went to stay with Jackie & Hossein in Milton Keynes. To put our relationship into context, Jackie’s Great grandmother and my Grandmother Alice are the one and the same incredibly strong, amazing, formidable woman who gave birth to 19 children. We are in awe of Alice’s energy and fortitude as we piece together more and more information about our genealogy and in particular Alices story.

But back to our visit to Milton Keynes. We were met at the train station by Hossein and Jackie on a very hot day and were whisked away to have lunch at a local community charity facility where we had a very nice relaxing lunch.

Lunch in the garden, Willen.

From there we went to a local park where we went for a walk around the park grounds. We were surprised to find a Japanese Pagoda in the middle of the park.

Peace Pagoda

Further along we came across a Japanese Pagoda. Why the Japanese connection you may ask?

Japanese Temple

A peace pagoda is a Buddhist monument built as a symbol of world peace and is meant to promote unity among all the peoples of the world regardless of race, creed, or border. Peace pagodas have been built all across Asia, often in places that seem to need the most healing such as the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where American atomic bombs took the lives of more than 150,000 people at the end of World War II. There are now more than 80 peace pagodas across Europe, Asia, and the United States, but the first of the Western temples was built in the town of Milton Keynes in England.

From here we walked to the nearby Tree cathedral, a lovely leafy avenue of trees with its cathedral shape becoming more evident from an aerial view.

Centre of the tree cathedral

Aerial view borrowed from the park trust web site

Margherita’s for the ladies

Cheers boys!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai for dinner made by Hossein

Unfortunately Roy had come away with a bit of a dodgy tummy so it was an early night for him, without any dinner!

The next morning Jackie and I headed off early so I could get a haircut before returning for a late breakfast with the boys. Roy was still not feeling well and Hossein had a few things to do so Jackie and I went out for a look around and also to visit a couple of shops. I have to add here that we have been quite taken with Milton Keynes, I like the layout, the trees and green spaces laid out in grid patterns and the of lack high rise buildings.

A couple of purchases may have been made

A few tea bags may be coming back to NZ with me!!!

An ice cream at IKEA, and no, it was not the only purchase made there

The other good reason for heading to the shops was to be in air conditioned comfort, with England experiencing its hottest July days on record, it was pleasant to be in air conditioned surrounds.

The Grand Union Canal Milton Keynes

Jackie and I visited the Grand Union Canal for a look around.

Another return to their home where dinner this evening was to be an Iranian meal of a Celery Lamb stew ( Khoresht-e-Karafs) followed by Sholesh zard, a fragrant and very light rice pudding.

Sholeh Zard

The temperatures did not abate with Thursday bringing with it record temperatures hitting 40C at some stage during the day, debilitating, oppressive heat with no escape from it. Roy, Jackie and I were heading out to go visit Jackie’s mum Hilda, my cousin, via a little village called Earls Barton where we were going to visit a little museum called the Jeyes museum, yes dedicated to the pharmacy renown for Jeyes Fluid.

Roy perusing the exhibits

I have to add that this museum was upstairs in rooms that were quite small, and with record temperatures it was a very hot experience.

But not only was the museum dedicated to all things pharmacy, one section was dedicated to the business Divine Shoes, made famous by the film and stage show Kinky Boots. The original factory was in this village and one part of the museum was dedicated to the boot manufacturer.

Your size?

These boots were made for walking!

We were back to the car ready to continue our journey in air conditioned comfort when we got the message that Ken & Hilda had decided to visit us. So we turned around and returned to their home, calling in on this property further along their road.

Chichely Hall

As an aside, this property was used as the film location of the movie Enigma, which as a coincidence when Roy & I owned Pen-y-Bryn Lodge in Oamaru, we hosted two of the stars from this movie, namely Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows.

We were soon back at the house and hadn’t been home long before Ken & Hilda arrived for an afternoon of reminiscing, memories and catching up on their news.

Family

L-R: Ken, Bernice, Roy, Hilda, Jackie and Hossein.

After a lovely afternoon it was soon time for Ken & Hilda to return home and time for another wonderful meal courtesy of Hossein.

Pulled Lamb with coleslaw and wraps.

The following day it was time for us to return to London, another trusty train ride to London Euston, then to the tube for London Bridge and then the train to Erith.

Waiting for us was this wee man

The Thinker!!

Oh, and his parents too 😉.

A lovely time spent with family in and around Milton Keynes. Many many thanks to Jackie & Hossein for making us feel like we were at home with friends where we could relax with them. We look forward to the next time we meet up which will hopefully be soon.

Narrowboating

June 25, 2019

Before we left New Zealand I was in contact with Marilyn & David who;

a) had read our blog and contacted us regarding a place we had stayed

b) live in NZ and also motorhome extensively

c) have a Narrowboat called Waka Huia which they travel the English canals during NZ winter/English summer (ok, we won’t talk about the weather).

I have also been a follower of their blog for some time. I must add here that I found their blog through following another nz blog, Romany Rambler, so thank you Jenny & Robin for you may not know it but it’s how I ended up following Marilyn & David’s travels through the links on your blog!! And no we haven’t met Jenny & Robin either as yet however we have communicated many times and I’m sure our paths will cross sooner rather than later.

Through a multitude of emails back and forth with David & Marilyn, ok lets be honest, between Bernice and Marilyn, we finally sorted a time to meet up which suited us both and they graciously, or should that be with great trust?, invited us to stay with them on their boat for the night.

With plans in place, we arranged to meet them at Alvechurch Marina where they were moored on Thursday. You will have to read their recent blog entries to gain an understanding of the serious issues David has recently had with his eyes and the surgery he is about to undergo. With that in mind we arrived on Thursday afternoon and met Marilyn & David for the first time.

Waka Huia

Their narrowboat is named Waka Huia which is Maori meaning treasure box. The weather by now looked like it was going to play ball for a day, so with that in mind the decision was made to go for a little cruise up to the next set of locks called the Tardebigge flight. The Tardebigge set of locks are the longest set of locks on the UK canal system and two long tunnels to get through before the start of the flight. We were not going to go through any of the locks as there are 30 (yes, you read that right], 30 locks in succession that requires you to go through all of them before you can turn around and return. Just to go one way would take us many hours and by this time it was late afternoon plus David had a hospital appointment to attend on Friday night, another reason that we did not have time to do the locks.

Picturesque waterways

Off we set being expertly guided out of the mooring and set off on a leisurely cruise. This is the life, meandering through the picturesque waterways with sunshine dappling on the waters as we made our way along the tree and hedgerow lined canal.

Roy at the helm on the way to Tardebigge.

David tying up

Roy took over as helmsman for most of the journey until we reached the top of the Tardebigge flight where there is a winding hole so we could turn around in the morning. You can read Marilyns version of events here.

Tying up on the side of the canal, we first had a few drinks and nibbles with some friends of M&D before Roy, David and I took a walk down to the first set of locks to see just how close together they are placed before returning to the boat for a delicious dinner that Marilyn had prepared.

Looking down the first flight of locks

Church spire along canal

We spent the rest of the evening playing cards until late, a new game for us, called Five Crowns, a good fun game and evening was had by us all, especially by moi as I did win!

Roy doing the dishes

After a good nights sleep it was time to head back to the marina so D&M could head off for the first of David’s appointments on Friday evening and we could continue on our travels.

Entering a tunnel

I had my turn at the helm on the return journey including negotiating a couple of long tunnels.

Another boat coming toward us

Bernice at the helm

Cruising down the river

Halfway through the tunnel

Countryside

We returned to the marina where Marilyn expertly manoeuvred us into our mooring.

Interesting boat name

Marilyn & David then offered us the boat to stay on for a few more nights including a couple of nights by ourselves whilst they head into Birmingham for David’s surgery on Sunday morning. Of course we accepted their wonderful offer, you don’t want to miss out on these opportunities, sometimes they come along so rarely in life.

But first we all went to the local pub at the marina for lunch.

Checking out the options

What about this brew?

David & Bernice

Ploughmans platter, the remainder returned with us to have for dinner

Mediterranean platter

The meals were generous, so generous in fact that the remnants were packed up to take back to the boat for our dinner later that evening.

But not before David showed off his best side!

David’s best side???

D&M we’re away for just a few hours on Friday evening before returning. We then set about having a cards rematch.

David’s surgery was scheduled for early Sunday morning, however they are going into Birmingham by train on Saturday afternoon to stay the evening and will also stay over Sunday evening as well which means we will be home alone! I can’t reiterate enough how generous they have been toward us, it really does restore ones faith in humanity.

And not to be outdone…

Not to be outdone, Marilyn showing her other side!!!!

We explored the local area including the shopping centre in Redditch to get a few essentials but mainly spent our time relaxing on the boat.

Sometimes in life you meet up with people whom you instantly get on with, have lots in common, enjoy their company immensely and this is exactly the case with Marilyn & David. We are so fortunate to have met them and I’m sure we will meet up again either back in NZ or in the UK. We cannot thank Marilyn & David enough for their hospitality, kindness, and sharing their lovely narrowboat with us. It will remain a special memory for us.

Visits

May 6, 2019

John & Jude have been the “lucky?” recipients of our company for the past week or two and whilst we have been in Whakatane we have had a couple of other family visitsas well.

Nephew Stuart, along with partner Emma and their three children Toby, Maggie and Mack arrived for an overnight stay and it was great to see them and catch up with all their news. They live in Dunedin so it’s not too often we get to see them.

The kids loved coming into the van and playing,

Mack driving us off into the sunset!

And of course we had to have a family portrait

They have changed a little in the 3 years since the last photo was taken

We managed to get them to stand in just about the same spot so we could compare the changes, my how the young ones sprout in such a short period of time.

Next we went up to Auckland for a few days for final rounds of appointments before we leave for the UK. But first it’s a visit to brother Steve and wife Leslie in Whangamata for a few days before we brave the big city lights.

Steve & Les retired to Whangamata last year and since then have undertaken major renovations to their home including picking up the entire building and moving it to a different position on the section. You would not recognise it now from its beginnings as an Initial home (one of the Lockwood homes). Ceilings have been removed to expose rafters, all the wood paneling has been painted out and decks, boardwalks, outdoor areas added to complete the transformation. Rooms have been redesigned and all new kitchen has been added. It really is like a new build and a fitting testament to the hard work they have put in.

Of course I neglected to take any pictures whilst we were there.

For us it was time to head on up to Auckland and to stay with son Antony for a few days whilst we had medical appointments to attend. We also managed to fit in a few visits to friends and family as well with a quick visit to son Simon who was home from work recovering from knee surgery. I had more xrays to see what was happening with my hip fracture and a visit to the surgeon, the upshot? Leave it alone and let it heal by itself and just cope with pain medication which suits me just fine. Apart from that, all is well with everything else, and it’s up to me to make the call when I want the other knee replacement done.

We went out for dinner one evening with friends Ron & Janet as well as Antony, this time I remembered to ask Antony to take a picture of us

I will spare you the selfie that Antony took of himself on my phone when I asked him to take this picture as it was less than flattering!!

And then it was back to Whakatane where my sister Sue joined us for a couple of days.

Sue & Jeffs camper parked up beside us.

We were comparing more genealogy notes and amongst some of the papers we discovered a picture of John and Sue taken just a couple of years ago, so we decided to take a picture of them with the picture.

no they haven’t changed much at all have they? And just love the haircut Sue!!

one half of the siblings, one could argue the good looking half!!!

Friends and family

April 17, 2019

It’s not often that I get together with more than one sibling at a time but last week we managed to meet up with two of my brothers.

Steve & Les were staying with John & Jude for a couple of nights so we went in to join them one day.

We all went into Whakatane to get a few things for dinner that evening, but first we had to check out a couple of bike shops as Leslie was getting a new e-bike. Once we had viewed and checked out what was on offer, it was lunch time.

John and Steve waiting for lunch to be delivered. Note, we were sitting outside in glorious sunshine but within 10minutes we were running for cover as the heavens opened, and thunder and lightening crackled and crashed overhead. Then another 10 minutes later we were back in sunshine.

It was then back to the shop of choice for Leslie to have a test ride,

whizzing along

Back to John’s place where Steve had volunteered to cook up a seafood paella or two for our dinner using not only a paella pan that John & Jude brought back from Spain last year, but also some paella seasoning.

Steve with two pans of paella on the go. Seafood paella which included prawns, shrimps, mussels, squid, and scallops.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished dishes, but I can assure you they looked as good as they tasted. And it was very good too, in fact both John and I reckoned that it was much better than the paella’s we had tried in Spain!!!

sitting in the lounge relaxing after dinner.

Roy and I headed up to Tauranga and the Mount for a day of visiting. First was to see niece Jenna and her new arrival, baby Ashlyn.

getting a few cuddles in.

From there it was over to Mount Maunganui where we were meeting up with one of our ex staff members Margaret and her daughter Suzy along with a few of their friends.

Margaret and I deep in conversation (I think I was sorting out her tablet issues for her).

Roy and Ian solving the worlds problems.

Please note the venue though, the house is right on the beachfront and it was a glorious day to sit out on the deck.

Lunchtime, conversation and company, a lovely afternoon.

But we did note some strange creature in the sand dunes in front of the house…..we presume that they were making a film.

the making of a movie?

We had another call to make to Roy’s friends Bill & Estelle who moved to Papamoa from Auckland a couple of years ago. We caught up with them over a cuppa before heading back to Matata.

parked up in the sunshine at Matata, our last day here before moving on. The weather has been very kind to us for our two week stay and with Easter very nearly upon us, it usually heralds a change in the weather. Let’s hope we still get plenty of sunshine before we head to the northern hemisphere.

Dam Dam Dam

April 4, 2019

And no, that is not a spelling mistake in the title…as if!! Read on, readers, read on!

We tossed a coin and decided we would head straight to Taupo, and again to try somewhere new to park we thought we would try the Equestrian Centre.

With just one other bus here, we pretty much have the place to ourselves.

The Equestrian Centre is located across the Waikato River over the Aratiatia Dam, our third dam stay in succession. This dam is the first dam on the Waikato river just 13km downstream from Lake Taupo. Before construction of the dam and hydro station, the Aratiatia Rapids were a prominent feature on the Waikato River; a scenic reserve from 1906.  The dam construction meant that no water flowed over the rapids. However, several times a day, the Aratiatia dam gates of the Waikato River are opened, which restores the rapids to their normal output. There are several public lookout points on the high rock bluffs that dominate this turbulent stretch of Aratiatia Rapids.

We do the touristy thing and go and watch the opening of the gates and the turbulent flow of the rapids is restored for a short period of time. We watch from the safety of the bridge over the river. Sirens sound to give plenty of warning of the impending opening of the gates, at 8 minutes, 4 minutes, 2 minutes and then a continuous fluctuating siren once the gates start to be raised.

From one side of the bridge are the gates

the glassy, still waters are gradually disturbed by one gate being opened, soon followed by the second. It does not take long for the waters to become a raging torrent.

On the opposite side of the bridge,the start of the rapids.

again, the glassy waters are still and slowly become churned by the rushing torrent of water. You can see how high the water levels are to rise from the staining on the surrounding rocks.

it’s not long before the basin is flooded and water is rushing down the rapids.

This is the view from the other end of the rapids (thanks a Gary for the pictures)

Enough of being tourists, time to catch up with family and friends.

Over the next three days we caught up with my sister Hilary, my nephew Jason (Sue’s eldest) and his twins Caleb & Greer, and friends Barry & Sandra. And on each of these days I did not take one picture – old habits die hard!! But we did manage to spend time with each of them and catch up on news so that was good.

The weather turned a little damp to say the least so we extended our stay here for another couple of days in the hope that it will clear away, besides we have a few errands to attend to.

The rain only lasted a day and we are back to sunshine,however, it seems as though the temperature has taken a definite drop and a very autumnal feel, the slippers may have to get dusted off and brought out shortly.

Gary & Marg joined us for a couple of nights on their way back northwards to their home in Waipu,

We really enjoyed their company and particularly enjoyed playing Kiwi Quiz with them. It such a shame Gary lost so badly!!! And we did not rub it in at all 😂.

and us? Well, we are on our way toward the Bay of Plenty.

Mangakino

March 30, 2019

Now it’s been a few years since we have ventured to Mangakino, probably at least 35years if not more. Mangakino had a bit of a rough reputation in years gone by, but that is now changing.

Mangakino was developed originally as a temporary town to serve the workers who were building the Whakamaru and Maraetai dams after the completion of the Karapiro dam. At its peak in the 1950’s the population reached over 5000, today it has a population of around 1200.

Lake Maraetai is a recreational lake with fishing, skiing and swimming just some of the activities.

There is a lovely large parking area on Matekuri Island which is not really an island, it us more like a headland jutting out into the lake. But swampy areas both sides of a narrow isthmus that the road runs along probably floods at time making it appear an island.

here we are all alone, but it didn’t last long, it became very busy over the weekend.

My niece Fran, her hubby Clive and their two young daughter Bea and Emily have a holiday home here and it just so happened that they were down from Auckland at the weekend. We loved seeing their cute cottage, the girls found a hidey hole in a high cupboard.

We shared a BBQ dinner that evening back at the van.

everyone look the other way!!

Sue & Jeff joined us for an evening on the Sunday before heading back to Putaruru on Monday afternoon. But not before we all got together for a cuppa.

L-R Sue, Bernice, Clive, Bea, Fran holding Emily and Jeff.

Shame I didn’t comb my hair for the photo!! That statement needs a bit of an explanation.

Whilst going through genealogy information with Sue, we came across a photo of me that mum had sent to one of the relations in England. The photo along with others were given to Sue when she was in England 5 years ago. The photo of me is not necessarily funny, but what Mum wrote on the reverse of the photo is. Judge for yourselves.

yes, I know I was cute once…and I thought my hair looked ok!! Knowing me, 5 minutes before the photo was taken I was probably out on the playing field playing bullrush with the boys!

The following day friends Gary & Marg joined us for a couple of nights. We decided to do a bit of exploring around the area to see how much has changed.

Roy got to hang out with Gus in the back seat, the four of us taking selfies and some of us being a bit silly!

Gary & Roy with the Whakamaru Dam in the background.

this is as far as you can go at the Maraetai Dam.

Further down stream from Whakamaru is the local ski club which also has parking facilities for self contained motorhomes so we thought we would check it out for future reference.

top picture is the view from the parking area across the lake and the bottom picture is looking up behind the parking area. Across the lake there is another parking facility however, it is closed at the moment due to logging taking place along the lake front but another one to add to our must-do list.

Back at the vans and Gary discovered an apple tree, so we picked a few to try. And goodness they are great, they fluff up when cooked so we pick a few more and cook up a big pot full of apples. Some we ate with our roast pork belly that evening, and some we had for breakfast, and some I made into a blackberry and apple pie with some blackberries Gary & Roy picked, the rest I bottled.

By Wednesday everyone else had gone, so we think it’s probably time for us to pack up and head off particularly as the weather forecast isn’t that promising. Hmm, where to next I wonder?

On the move

March 21, 2019

I’d had enough of being crammed in at Ardmore, it seems as though vehicles were jammed in everywhere with over 50 vehicles squeezed in and I guess with the motorhome show due to be held in Auckland later that week, people were starting to head on in to the city. Wednesday morning we had an early start as the van was having the underneath cleaned of surface rust and sealed so at 6.30am we were on our way, not too far to go though, just to Truck & Trailer in Spartan Road, Takanini.

We headed off to get some breakfast whilst the van was being worked on, and to do some shopping and generally keep ourselves occupied. It was 1pm when we got the call to say that the van was finished and we could pick it up. Off we trotted, we got a thorough look at what they had done and came away feeling very happy, especially when the bill came in at nearly half of what we were expecting. We will be back here again if we need any work doing on the van as we were so impressed with them. They do all maintenance work on large vehicles as well as fibreglass repairs and they even do a polishing service. And to top it off they were really friendly and helpful.

We had planned to stay the night at the Papakura Club however we decided to dump the tanks again at Bruce Pulman Park on our way. That’s when plans changed again.

It just so happened that Antony had got us tickets to the netball being played at Pulman Arena that evening (also just happened to be our wedding anniversary) and as we saw a couple of motorhomes parked up, I went and enquired about staying the night there.

the view from the door of the van, not too far to go to walk to the game.

And at the same price as staying in an NZMCA Park, it was a no brainer to stay here for the night.

After an early dinner we headed across the car park to the Arena to get our seats for the game, collecting goodie bags along the way from the sponsors inside the venue.

we ended up being seated around the mid court area, just beind the commentators

It was a good game to watch and afterwards we sauntered back to the van and had a very quiet nights sleep.

We were off the following morning to Hamilton where we ended up staying at the Car Museum, somewhere we had not visited before. Again it proved to be another very busy place to stay as we woke in the morning to find that we had neighbours move in on both sides of us both within spitting distance.

Whilst at the museum we thought we should patronise the facility particularly as though the parking is free so we had lunch in the cafe.

the outside of the museum building and the parking area before it became crowded.

We placed our order for our lunch and were wandering around looking for a suitable table when out of the corner of my eye I spied a familiar couple of faces. I stood looking for a good minute or so desperately flicking through my memory banks to put names to faces before the lightbulb finally went off and I could go say hi. They recognised us straight away. It was Chrissy & Ian, they were longtime friends with my eldest brother Mike & his late wife Ann. Chrissy and Ann were school friends and we had met Chrissy & Ian a number of times over the years so it was lovely to see them and catch up.

We also caught up with our long time friends Wade & Lindsay in the evening over a lovely dinner. It’s always good to see good friends. We also met up with Harry, Kim & family whom we had met a few weeks earlier at Shakespear. They had just been to have some solar charging issues sorted and were very impressed with the service they received from Wayne, so much so that we took his details so we could contact him at some point.

The following day we took off to AJ’s Park on the shores of Lake Karapiro.

the view through the front windscreen.

it is a lovely spot to stay, relatively quiet and peaceful so we thought we’d stay a couple of nights, but a week later we are still here! The place becomes quite busy over the weekend, and we are kept entertained by waterskiers and kids enjoying themselves being towed behind boats on various devices from knee boards to biscuits. It took us a while to figure that there is no tide here, quite a change for us as we spend so much time near the sea.

Sunday was an impromptu get together with a couple of my siblings – John & Jude called in on their way home to Whakatane, and Sue & Jeff joined us from their home not far away in Putaruru. This trip of ours is basically for us to catch up with my north island siblings before we head away to the UK, it seems we have started off quite well. Of course I forgot to take any pictures however it was a lovely afternoon with them all.

I did take some pictures later in the week as we went into Putaruru on a few occasions to spend some time with Sue & Jeff and catch up on family matters including swapping genealogy notes.

this is my sister Sue with the cheese & bacon scones she made one day for lunch……with the wrong mix she had mistakenly used from her pantry. Subsequently the scones were a strange sweet/savoury concoction 😂. And no, sweet savoury scones are not a new thing, they were relegated to the bin! Should have gone to Specsavers Sue 😘.

Roy & Jeff tackling their respective crossword puzzles.

in between visits into Putaruru I had made contact with Wayne Hunt who specialises in motorhome electric/solar systems and it just so happened that he was going to be passing Karapiro on Tuesday morning and he offered to call in. Wayne & Vicki duly arrived and over a cuppa we chatted for some time before getting onto matters we wanted to sort. We want to be able to charge the van battery when we are stationary for any length of time. Wayne designs and builds systems and he came up with a couple of options for us, now we are all sorted with what will work for us. Once we get it, I will do a blog entry on that later. We also gleaned another couple of ideas from them whilst we were chatting so it proved to be a very good couple of hours spent in their company. We can highly recommend Wayne for anything solar/electric/motorhome related, especially as he explains things so well.

Our departure day from here seems to be getting put back more and more, it may be tomorrow…but then again we may be saying the same thing again tomorrow!

And who can blame us with this for a view.