Archive for the ‘housesitting’ Category

On the road again – sort of.

July 24, 2016

We’re back on the road after finishing our housesitting stint at Jacky & Chris’ in Whakapirau.  Although we haven’t really hit the open road as yet, as we had the van parked up at Uretiti DoC camp whilst we were away from it, we then moved the van from its storage position to a parking site within the camp which is a move of around 500metres.  

We stayed with Jacky for a couple of days after she returned from her travels and caught up with all their news and gave us a chance to finish off a few bits and pieces.  However, we were pleased to be back in our home again although we did note that our TV looked awfully small compared with the very large screen we had become accustomed to and  our shower also did not quite measure up in terms of water pressure and volume of water,  but these are things we can look forward to next time we housesit.

We quickly settled back in to van life at Uretiti, Pat & Sue were also there as well as another couple fellow full timers we have come to know over our travels.  The weather hasn’t been the best, with lots of wind and rain but I guess we are to expect that in the winter time.  After a couple of days Helen & Don joined us at Uretiti in their motorhome and over the next few days there was lots of talk, shared meals and laughter.  

Jacky & Chris visited one afternoon, and it was not long before we had arranged for the six of us (Roy & I, Pat & Sue and Helen & Don) to go out to Whakapirau for a meal and to all stay the night and for Don & Roy to reduce the sheep numbers by one! As a retired sheep farmer Don is quite au fait with the protocols and methods required, and Roy also has done this a few times over the years as well as portioning off the final product.   The deed was done quickly and efficiently and for those of us who choose to know as little as possible about the whole procedure, it was done with respect for us as well as respect for the animal.  Enough said. 

Time for a afternoon drinks before a local, Grant, joined us for dinner.  The afternoon quickly progressed into a great evening of good food washed down with a few drinks before developing into an evening of talk, tales, much laughter and lots of singing!    There is a video or two of the evenings melodious antics  which will not be available for public viewing,  you know what they say, what goes on tour…stays on tour.  Let’s just say it was a great night.

Pat desperately trying to get his hand on the coveted Elvis Lamp!
Helen & Don left us to begin their return journey south whilst the rest of us head back to Uretiti to our vans, where it was a quick tidy and pack up before deciding on where to next.

Moving north

June 10, 2016

Roy and I have parted ways……for a few days!  Wednesday morning and Roy took the van in to have the LPG tank removed  whilst I headed across the city to Torbay to spend the night with Leslie which meant I could have a head start on traffic tomorrow morning for my journey north.  Leslie cooked us a beautiful dinner of  a slow poached chicken in a fragrant broth, it was delicious and I really appreciated it as I don’t have chicken that often as Roy doesn’t eat chicken, but that’s a whole other story. 

I left Torbay Thursday morning to meet up with Chris at Whakapirau to commence our housesitting stint  whilst Roy remains in Auckland awaiting the refitting of the recertified LPG tank.  He will hopefully be up here by early next week at the latest.  

The drive north was through some very miserable windy and wet weather,

 and then I came to a halt when I got stuck in this line of traffic just south of Warkworth.

And the queue behind me wasn’t much shorter either 

I arrived in good time for Chris to explain the intricacies of small holder farming life before he headed off.  I must say it is VERY quiet here, once I have checked on the sheep, collected the eggs from the chooks and completed my minimal household chores I have plenty of time to catch up on all the knitting I need to do.  

I woke this morning to thick fog 

Which is now lifting and looks promising to be a lovely fine day.  

Our new home!!

August 9, 2015

Have we got your attention??

Yes we have a new home….and this is the view from the deck this morning


This is our home for the next six or seven weeks whilst we housesit in Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour for Jacky & Chris.  It’s lovely to be here and enjoy all the “luxuries” of being in a house wherr we don’t have to watch battery levels and power consumption, nor water consumption or waste water levels.

We do have some responsibilities whilst here though, as well as the cat to look after we also have chooks to mind and this morning (our first morning) they rewarded us with 5 eggs – a record apparently!

imageA slight variation in sizes of eggs.

I am also taking advantage of the laden Seville Orange tree and have a batch of marmalade on the go


Tomorrow it will be cooked up and bottled ready for eating later.

Today is our daughter Alexandra’s 29th Birthday, we hope she has a lovely birthday and celebrates well in London where she lives.  And if she behaves herself then she may just get a special belated birthday delivery from Jacky & Chris in a week or two😉

House sitting in Whakatane

June 13, 2015

John and Jude left early Saturday morning for Tauranga airport for their flight to Auckland then onto  the Gold Coast, however, there was a major fatal crash on the road near Te Puke which closed the road for a few hours, and with no alternative route available to Tauranga they had to reschedule their trip for Sunday morning.  Which they duly did, and were safely on their way on Sunday morning, only a day later than expected.  However,  it seems that they took the reasonable weather with them as for the next week we had nothing but rain, rain, more rain and some wind. The following short video was taken from the front door.


After the weather cleared a little,  we did venture out for a a bit of a look around.  One day we went through to Ohope and had a look at potential parking places before continuing on to Opotiki which meant that we just had to have afternoon tea at the Two Fish Cafe which I still say has some of the best coffee around,  and the muffins are pretty damn good as well.

 Afternoon tea

Oh, and at the cafe, instead of giving you a table number for your order, you get a plastic toy animal like the shark and the kangaroo in the above picture.  Just a little fun thing they do which sets them apart from the masses.

Whilst we were parked up at Johns, our van decided it was a little lonely and it needed a mate and just look what happened!

  Almost a matching pair

Pat & Sue are back in the North Island after their sojourn South.  It’s lovely to see them again, and have their company – even though they keep beating us at cards, or should I say that we let them win!!  Once the weather cleared a bit and the wind blew in the right direction, we all went to the beach to try our hand at kite fishing as Pat had a new kite which he had not tried out before now.  Although the wind was fickle and we did not manage to get any hooks out but we did get manage to get the kite up.

  Pat & Sue surf casting 

  Kite finally flying.

Another day and another attempt, this time getting the hooks out butte can report that no fish were harmed in this excercise although a lot of weed was caught.  But the weather was lovely, we had a nice picnic on the beach and we all agreed that we could not think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

John & Jude returned the following Sunday, we did not hear them return, we were all comfortably sitting in the lounge watching Tele when all of a sudden the door burst open with John charging through yelling YAAAAAHAAA!  We all got one helluva fright – lets just say that some laundry was required to be done after that surprise! But we have stored that fright away in the memory banks for future reference so just watch out Mr Coatham, have your heart pills at hand!

We stayed on for a couple more days before we headed off the  huge distance – to Matata just 17km away! Although we did detour a few kms through Edgecumbe to use the dump station there.  Now we are comfortably parked at the DoC camp at Matata where we await the favourable winds to allow us to go fishing off the beach.


June 1, 2015

After our allowed two nights at Anzac Bay we headed to Tauranga for a couple of nights mainly to restock the larder, fill up with fuel and get a couple of chores done before heading down the coast to Matata and the lovely DoC camp there.  Whilst at Matata  we had a couple of goes of trying to get the kite up for some fishing off the beach, however, either the wind was too strong, in the wrong direction or not strong enough.  Talk about frustrating!   We tried!

From Matata it is just a short jaunt down the highway to John’s place, here we are for the next week or two whilst John & Jude are away.  Again, it is a good opportunity to get lots of chores done whilst we have access to everything we could possibly need.  

The weather forecast was for and calm conditions so John suggested we head off early (relatively speaking) on Thursday morning for a mornings fishing.  We were up in time to get the boat ready and on our way by 8am, and boy was it chilly with a good frost on the ground.  We were rugged up in our best warm gear; hats, gloves, scarves, possum/merino jackets, with a lot of it having not seen the light of day for a good couple of years. Oh and not forgetting Roy and his Waikato socks. These socks are renown amongst some of our friends as the indicator that it is becoming definitely chilly.   It’s a bit like that ad we used to get on TV many years ago for something that I cannot  now remember (I think it may have been an antiseptic or sticking plasters?) but the ad was of a small blond headed boy playing rugby with the catch line of “oh no, Snow cops it again”, when that ad appeared on our screens we knew that it was winter time.  Well, when Roy wears his Waikato socks, we know it’s winter! 

 Roy geared up with his Waikato socks on.

And not to be outdone, John was wearing his lucky bright orange fishing hat and Jude had kindly lent me her lucky bright yellow fluoro hat….hmmmm, not too sure about the look – or the luck in my case!


 I think we have become accustomed to the warmer climes especially during the winter months, I mean, these days if we have a temperature getting down into single figures we think we are frozen!  It was not so long ago that we used to get excited when the winter temperature got out of single figures! How quickly we adapt.  Anyway, back to the fishing.

We headed off over the Whakatane bar for a favourite fishing spot just down the coast.

  A lovely day for fishing

It wasn’t long before a few fish were being landed, however, many of them were sent back to go tell their granddad to jump on our lines.  But it wasn’t too long before we had enough for dinner so it was time to head back to land.  

We ended up with a reasonable mornings catch… 

 One Kahawai, two trevally, three snapper and seven gurnard.

Next came the filleting lessons. 

  Roy and John at the filleting table with the cat and dog waiting expectantly for some tasty morsels

Chum, the dog, just loves the snapper skins.  It’s no wonder he has such a lovely glossy coat and is full of energy.  Filleting lessons complete, it was time to clean up the boat before storing it away, tidy up around the filleting table before we could enjoy some of our catch.  The Kahawai was smoked and make into pâtè to have with drinks the next day, but tonight we were to have the trevally as sashimi  


For dinner we had snapper and gurnard fillets with enough gurnard left for dinner the next day.  Fresh fish is just the best and we throughly enjoyed every morsel. Now we just have to wait for the next expedition!


March 23, 2015

Whilst we have been here in Whakatane we have managed to get lots of little, and not so little, jobs done.  The sealing around all the lockers, windows and joins on the van with the sticky black Simsons Sealer product is finally finished.  Don’t  ask me why but for some reason the black stuff seems to get everywhere and onto everything but the white product doesn’t! I think they call it something like ‘Sod’s Law’.  There was also an attempt to straighten the road sweeper that is attached to the back of the van. after an altercation with an inanimate object some time ago. It has been a little lower on one side but attempts to jack it up were not terribly successful but a good effort was made.  Lots of other little jobs have been completed, silly little things like reattaching the wire to the waste cap so it cannot be left behind anywhere, and fixing locker latches etc.  I even broke out the sewing machine to make some slip covers for the chairs, oh and not forgetting getting major things done like the upholstery.  All in all a very good couple of weeks well spent.  

In the middle of our time in Whakatane there was of course Cyclone Pam.  The storm had devastating effects on islands such as Vanuatu, so we were preparing ourselves for strong winds and torrential rain. We moved off the grass onto hard ground and made sure we were protected as much as possible from potential high winds, filled the water tanks and made sure everything was battened down.  However, it turned into more of a storm in a tea cup than a major storm and certainly nothing like what we experienced last year at Whanaknaki.  Yes the sea was very rough with an impressive large swell running and the bar entrance into Whakatane was closed for some time but we really didn’t have any strong winds or the lashings of rain – thank goodness.

A day or so after the storms passing we headed off to Opotiki with John, first stopping off at Jude’s place in Waiotahi to make sure all was well there.  Then it was off to the Two Fish Cafe in Opotiki for brunch.  Now it is not often that I can highly recommend somewhere for a really good coffee but the Two Fish Cafe serves probably one of the best coffees in NZ, certainly in the top three in any case.  Not only was the coffee fabulous but the food was great as well.  We loved the quirky style of this cafe, and if you are ever heading toward Opotiki, call in for a real treat, you’ll not be disappointed.

After two and a half weeks of being in Whakatane it was time to move on.  Thursday morning and we were all packed up and ready to go at a reasonable hour, just hook up the RAV and check the lights.  Bugger, the lights aren’t working, so after some fiddling, spraying contacts, attacking things with screwdrivers, we headed off into Whakatane to the auto electrician so they could check it all out for us.  But wouldn’t you know it? as soon as we got there, everything worked just fine!  But to make sure, we got them to check everything out, lo and behold, there was a problem…..insert here techno babble for whatever was wrong, something about a wire with low, or was that high? resistance, switches and relays …… The park lights were very dull.  Not that that is necessarily a problem as we try to avoid driving at night at all times,  but best to sort it out now.  After much testing and removal of one of the dash panels, they finally find the fault.  The park lights were wired up to the dashboard dimmer switch!  How had we not found that out before now?  Anyway, wires were cut, rejoined in the right place and after a couple of hours we were on our way.  And we must praise here the business involved – Langleys Auto Electrical – as all that was done for next to nothing with no waiting around and they were very pleasant to deal with.

  Dashboard dismantled.

We finally headed out of Whakatane to Tauranga where we spent a night there before heading on to Kopu (near Thames)  for a couple of nights as the van is booked in on Monday for a repair/replacement hydraulic stabiliser jack to be made as well as getting a new seal ordered for around the slide out.  The Electrical WoF will also be done whilst we are here.

Finally, many many thanks to John and Jude for the lovely goodies they gave us, particularly as it was so unexpected.  We look forward to enjoying all the lovely drinks (so pleased we introduced them to Pedro Ximinez), chocolates, Al Brown Oils and dressings that were all packaged up so neatly in a flax kit bag – which John tells me is one from the fishing shop in Scarborough where Dad used to buy all his gear from.   We are more than happy to return for more house sitting duties when required!

Back to the big smoke

February 22, 2014

We left Whangamata and headed up over the cloud covered hills to Kopu where we had a brief stop to fill up at the excellent Nova LPG fueling station then onto an Rv repair shop to pick up some locker catches that we had ordered the previous week. That done it was then onto Kaiaua, but first we pulled into Rays Rest to have some lunch and a cuppa as it was already after 2pm and the tummies were growling loudly in complaint. We had not been there long when we spied Fred. We had met Fred previously at Ardmore, he is a fellow full timer and blogger. After a quick catch up, we decided to stay put for the night as we were heading off in the morning anyway. Ray’s Rest lived up to our expectations of being very windy, we did not need rocking of to sleep.

Off the next morning to Auckland, more specifically back to Ardmore where we will be parked up for the next few days. On the way back to Auckland, just north of Kawakawa bay we came across a new, soon to open, regional park.

20140222-154918.jpganother park for us to explore.

Friday, and we headed off over the bridge to Torbay to see Steve and Les as we were all taking a trip up to Mahurangi to check out the venue where their daughter Frances is getting married next weekend. A stunning location (oops forgot camera!) but we will take lots of pictures next weekend. After sorting out a few bits and pieces it was a trip down to the beach and check out the camp site as this is another of the fabulous ARC Parks. Then it was back to Torbay for a bite of lunch before Leslie and I went out shopping for the afternoon, gathering together all the last minute bits and pieces for the wedding, and a few other essential items. That done we headed back to their place where Roy and Steve were busy laying the new flooring in their bathroom. We stayed on for a delicious dinner before heading back to Ardmore.

The weather here is incredibly hot, humid and sticky making it nigh on impossible to sleep at night. It’s almost like being back in Singapore for warmth and humidity. It does not make it pleasant for doing anything, however today we are getting a few jobs done, including installing the washing machine properly into the cupboard, complete with rollout access.

Jacky & Chris have very kindly let us make use of their house in Mt Eden whilst they are away for a few days as tomorrow (Sunday) Alex arrives from London. Are we excited? Just a little!!


March 10, 2013

We have been here in Whakatane for over a week now. We took the opportunity to stay put for a while, as Roy has to wait for his new spectacles to be made and at the same time John was planning to go away for a week to a fishing tournament in Whitianga so we could housesit, dog sit and teenage daughter mind!
Staying put for a week or so meant that we could catch up on a few things such as annual accounts, cleaning, tidying, get a haircut, generally relax and take stock. Although it has to be noted that the same things always seem to be on the end of the list at the end of most days. I think they call that procrastination.
The duties of the past week have hardly been onerous, the housesitting not too difficult. The dog, Chum, has taken to lying under the van in the shade most days, occasionally bringing us “treasures” and we now have a nice collection of strange odds and ends. The teenage daughter, Jenny, has been a pleasure to feed/water/walk, as she so eloquently stated! Which has meant that the week has flown by without a hitch.
Next on the agenda for the Vannini’s is to leave our comfortable spot here at John’s and head off through the Waioeka Gorge to Gisborne and wend our weary way around East Cape to eventually arrive back in Whakatane around the weekend of the 20th April for a family get together. We are really looking forward to this trip as it is many years since we have been through that neck of the woods. First, we must await the arrival of Roy’s new specs so he can see to drive!!!!

On your bike

January 19, 2013

Friday was spent around John’s place on the outskirts of Whakatane, dealing with the day to day routine things such as laundry, filling with water, cooking, cleaning, oh and lots of talking. A trip into town to see the sights and do a bit of shopping before heading back to the house and van.
Here we are all parked up.

We also made a trip to a Motorhome store where we bought a large groundsheet to go under the awning, hopefully this will mean that there will be less dirt traipsed into the van as well as making it a bit more comfortable for sitting outside. And it will also make up for one of the mats that Chum, the dog, ate for breakfast yesterday!

Some negotiations have been taking place, amidst much mirth, and Roy is now the proud owner of a bike….thanks Jenny! We have the red bike for her, and the blue bike for him. We have no excuses any more, it’s on your bike for us.


Saturday and we are back into housesitting mode as John, Julie and Jenny are off to a wedding in Rotorua. A quiet day for us, just a bit more of the usual daily routine. Although I do admit to raiding the proliferation of citrus trees here, and I am enjoying drinking the juice from grapefruit, blood oranges, lemons and mandarins…oh and limes! I may even become inspired to make some marmalade or some citrus syrups/cordials over the next few days. Then I will have to get on my bike for a bit longer.

Another week in the big smoke

December 19, 2012

Yes that’s another one down, and what is to show for it?

This time some photos at least. 

Ah the benefits of exercise.  In early morning wandering it is amazing what one comes across.  Having shown a number of murals and mosaics in small towns I was wondering where they were in Auckland.  In fact they are everywhere but one must open ones eyes to see them.  Here are a few examples.

This one is at the entrance to the Crystal Palace in Mt Eden, an old Theatre, Dance Hall and Picture Theatre in its day. Well remembered (by some!) for Saturday night dances.


These two are part of a set of eight in the Grey Lynn shopping area.  They depict aspects of New Zealand life but also show images from the countries of the many different nationalities living in the area.

tiling 2 tiling

Then of course there is the multicoloured extravaganza of posters displayed in all sorts of odd places.  A lot of which would be hard to see unless one is on foot and peers around corners.


poster 4poster

And then there was this aptly named building in the Dominion Road shops.  A sign of the times and the changing ethnic mixture of residents in the area



On for a panoramic view of the area from the top of Mt Eden

Looking toward the city centre and in close up

city  city centre

That famous icon seen from the top

eden park

Then on Saturday we drove to Whakatane for the unveiling of Trish’s memorial

Gathered prior to the unveiling.


The memorial


Proceedings were observed from on high by some interested neighbours


And afterward at John’s shed

after 2

after 1

Back to Auckland in the evening and then on Sunday night we had the Okoroire team for dinner.  A great evening with a lot of reminiscing and tall tales getting longer.  Noticeable were the number of times when names of participants escaped memory, only to be brought to mind later with cries of “yes, that’s who I meant!” 

Of course no photos were taken at the time…..

However we did mange a photo of the entree, A ham terrine encased with cabbage and parsley which we served with a lovely baguette and a Brinjal Kasundi Pickle that Bernice had made last week.


The main was a standing rib of beef with a horseradish sour cream accompanied by a medley of roast vegetables, new potatoes and asparagus. Dessert was summer pudding, which we had planned to make utilising brioche however we could not find any so ended up using Challah.  And I must say it was delicious.  To end we had Panforte with coffee and port.  All in all, a great night.