Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

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.

Callum.

Back to being kneedy

February 9, 2020

It’s all happening very quickly. I went to see my surgeon on Tuesday as my hip is still very painful and keeping me awake at nights. Actually it’s sort of my upper thigh and bum that is very sore, and I thought it was probably referred pain from my knee radiating to my hip. This is the left hip that was replaced 18 months ago, then I had the Avulsion fracture at the top of the femur on the trochanter, the right knee was replaced a year ago.

The surgeon suggested that the pain was more likely coming from my back, possibly a trapped nerve or something similar but to make sure an MRI is needed. That was scheduled for Friday morning with a follow up appointment with him later in the day. In the meantime we scheduled a full knee replacement for the 17th February, which would go ahead if the MRI came back ok. Yes, I know, it’s very quick but he knows we want to go to the UK in April so the sooner he could do it the better.

Friday morning was an early start as I had to be at the MRI at the Southern Cross Hospital Wairau Road on the North Shore for 7.00am and with traffic the way that it is, who knows how long it could possibly take so we set off before 6am! I am NOT a morning person at the best of times so it was a struggle to drag myself out of bed at some ungodly hour. With Waitangi Day (Public Holiday) the previous day, we hoped that many people will have taken the Friday off work so that the traffic would not be quite so hectic.

The MRI was, as usual, a test of my ability to contain myself from panicking from within such a confined space for the hour long procedure, and for some reason I felt things heating up much more this time and I remained heated for some hours afterwards.

We had a few hours to chillout before my appointment with the specialist across town in Remuera, so we amused ourselves for as long as we could but we still managed to get to the specialist over an hour before my scheduled appointment. Luckily he managed to see me almost straight away, with the upshot being that I have some condition of my lower, the name of which was a very long sentence and I’ve now forgotten, but basically means I have arthritic type growths/spurs on the hook shaped bones of the lower spine (possibly called the transverse processes), which, when I move around they have a tendency to trap and pinch the nerves that run through them. The good news is that it is not in the central column where the spinal cord runs. After much discussion, we decided to leave well alone at this stage.

Spinal anatomy

What I did learn though was that the Avulsion fracture of the trochanter, the top of the femur, does not heal as such, it’s just a broken off piece of bone that just sits there. If it continues to cause problems I will probably have to have the piece of bone removed.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I am having my left knee replacement done, which also may help to alleviate the back issues by balancing out the way I walk. The surgery will take place in just a week away, on the 17th February, which will mean that we should still be on schedule to go to the UK in April. Yippee!

Oh and after an epic day of travelling around Auckland, we arrived back to the van to find this on the doorstep.

A lovely pot of succulents, set inside a kete with flax flowers

The card

How nice is that?

We have been so spoilt this year by campers, which puts the odd negative event or camper out of the hundreds we meet into perspective and we have made some great friends over the years we have been here. We look forward to camp hosting for however-many-more years to come.

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.

Mule

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.

Uretiti and a birthday

November 30, 2019

It’s just an hour and a half drive from Kerikeri to Uretiti and we were on our way in good time. The roads were very busy and we also noted that the roads in general were very bumpy, as items that usually stay in place as we travel were tossed off their perch as we meandered along the road, however, we arrived in good time to get our favourite spot at Uretiti.

Parked up, but where are Keith & Deb?

There they are, hidden by the trees.

Someone (the younger member of the touring party) was having a birthday so with that in mind we headed to McLeods Brewery & Pizza Barn in Waipu to meet up with a couple of friends for dinner. Jacky & Chris came over from Whakapirau, Mark (who shares a birthday with me) & Glynis came from Ruakaka and of course there was Keith & Deb along with Roy and I making up the party. And in my usual manner I was too busy chatting and catching up to even think about a photo but it was a lovely evening.

The following morning the fellows were up early (5am) to head down to the beach for a fish over the morning change of light.

Keith’s catch

Roy caught three snapper as well but to add to his species collection he also caught these two.

Gurnard and mackerel

The gurnard was had for dinner and the mackerel became bait.

The fishing bug was back so another 5am start saw them back on the beach the following morning, again with good success

Keith’s collection

And Roy also had a good catch,also increasing his species catch

Snapper and a starfish

The starfish had eaten the bait completely and was well and truly hooked, however it was soon released back into the sea to live another day.

Encouraged by the catches they also decided to head out for a fish over the evening change of light with great success.

Meanwhile Roy & I went into Whangarei to catch up with Gayle, whom we originally met on our very first summer in our van on the shores of Lake Dunstan near Cromwell a few years ago now. And we subsequently have met up over the years, tripped around together and generally stayed in touch.

The selfies are getting better!!

We had a lovely time catching up over lunch before we all headed off in our separate directions, until next time.

Then it was back to meet up with Mark & Glynis as they were joining us for drinks, however I again forgot to take any photos but we had a lovely time chatting over drinks and nibbles before they headed on home. Not long after that we were joined by Gary & Marg as they were coming to watch us have our last fish off the beach before we left.

Getting ready to send out the drone

Marg, Gary and Roy waiting patiently

And another successful fish it was with a couple of beauties landed which we sent off with Gary & Marg for them to consume.

Keith 8lb beauty

Roys 11lb specimen – apologies for the terrible photo quality, it was late, dark and getting cold!

Our last few days at Uretiti were fishing heaven, with the freezer full again, it’s time to move on.

Oh and just so you don’t miss out, here’s the latest Callum picture….already showing good signs of a love of books.

Callum reading

The fish called and we answered

October 18, 2019

Contrary to some cheeky comments by those at Shakespear, we did leave the park as planned after a week of R&R. Don’t ask us what we did when we were there as I’m not really sure, apart from making lots of tea and coffee for friends and acquaintances we caught up with over the week.

We did make the final adjustments to our table, making a nice mounting plate and putting it in place. However, after a couple of days of using the table and looking at it, we came to the conclusion it wasn’t quite right. So the backing plate and mount was moved about a cm so it could be firmly fixed in place (it had a bit of a wobble), and we also had to adjust the angle of the table top as we realised that rather than being level by using a spirit level, it should really be parallel with the floor. Anyway, it’s all done now and it works well for us. Now we just have to find someone to make the table top we want.

So we left Shakespear and headed on out of town. But first a bit of a circuitous route as we first headed north to Hatfield’s Beach to the dump station and then back south to Dairy Flat to the fuel station to top up with LPG and fuel before hitting the motorway north to Uretiti Beach.

The route

We were soon parked up at Uretiti settling ourselves in for a few days. we are again with friends Keith & Deb as well as their friends Glen & Carol. We hadn’t been there long before it was decided that our first fish for the season would be a good idea. Particularly as Roy has a new system for fishing that includes a rod with electric reel, it was time to see if it all works and to do a bit of a test run.

All geared up.

The drone took the line out, and it all worked perfectly well. Glen had his drone and line out as well and then Keith put out his line.

Meanwhile back at the van, I received a text to say you had better come down to the beach as it looks like we have all caught fish. Deb & I went down to help bring in the haul. But hang on, this is getting very hard to bring in the lines, what is going on? It soon became evident we had something very big on the line, and sure enough we did……somebody’s torpedo had drifted along the beach and collected all three lines. Now all our lines are braid which means they are very thin, easily tangled…what a mess. Grrrr. With infinite patience, the lines were eventually detangled, the torpedo dragged onto the beach, however it’s line was cut a few times to detangle from the mess. Eventually it was all done, Roy had two beautiful big fish, Keith had three and Glen had five but he had to return two to the sea as they were a little small. And there were no fish on the torpedo line to make up for the shambles, plus there was no sight of the torpedo owner either. We shall try the phone number marked on its side.

Nice snapper there Roy

Guess what was on the menu for dinner?

Not to be deterred from having another go, they all went again the following night, again returning with a few fish each.

We had a lovely few days at Uretiti, managing also to catch up with Mark & Glynis one morning for brunch at the Waipu Golf Club. But all good things come to an end, as it is definitely time to move north, especially before the forecast bad weather due in the next day or so.

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.