Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

We have data!

January 3, 2017

We have leapt into the real world and now have lots of internet data!  You see, up until a few months ago we have only had limited data (6GB/month) available through the mobile phone network (at exorbitant rates) and to access more we have had to make use of free wifi spots at libraries and the like around the country to satisfy our internet needs or pay through the nose for extra data.  However, a few months ago we became aware that there were other options available.  

We waited until the dust settled on the debates around which options were best and which company to go with before making an informed decision on what was best for us. As loyal Vodafone customers we also approached Vodafone directly to see if they were offering a similar package, however, after many phone calls and checking with many levels of management it seems that yes, they do offer a package for their customers however their modem is geolocked which means you cannot use it outside a specific area.  And yes, they know about the other companies offerings and no, they are not about to offer similar services any time soon!  So guess what? They have now lost these loyal clients, and we have changed our phone plans which means we are saving ourselves plenty, well, enough to boost the happy hour funds!  

With now just the two other options (and yes, we understand Spark is also trialling a similar system) we had to make a choice on which company to go with.   Both options are utilising the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) which is the government’s initiative to provide fast broadband to areas outside the urban copper and fibre networks. It uses long range fixed wireless towers to provide broadband coverage to receivers  within range. 

After much debate and checking out our options we have gone with a company called  Netspeed.  

We rang them to get ourselves sorted which was done quickly and efficiently.The modem arrived the next working day to our designated mail pick up point, where we returned with it to the van, plugged it in, another phone call to Netspeed to activate and voilà, instant internet access. As we already have a Yagi directional aerial set up for Vodafone, if it is required, but at this stage we have had no problems with access to good fast internet anywhere we have been. Although we have put it up whilst we are here at Shakespear as we are parked in a bay which is surrounded by trees and the signal is so much faster with the aerial up.


At the moment it sits on the sunscreen visor at the front and is plugged into the 12v adaptor.  We haven’t mounted it permanently as we have found that depending where we are in the country it works better in different locations in the bus. For example when we were at Rarawa, it worked best when it was located at the rear of the van in the bedroom.  And whilst we are here at Shakespear it doesn’t get moved, nor does it get turned off!

Now we don’t know ourselves, having gone from only having 6GB a month to 120GB peak hours plus another 50Gb off peak (10pm – 6am – perfect for the lark of the touring party), we can watch movies, catch up on TV series and generally waste time to our hearts content 😉 and all for a similar price to what we were previously paying on our phone plans.   

We have also given up Sky TV (until the netball starts again!!), and as a result we have decided not to bother with a Freeview box either so we are a TV free zone and not missing it one iota.  We sometimes have a feed running from the computer to the TV to watch the news on demand, but most of the time we don’t bother.  

So if any of you have any recommendations of movies or series we should watch, then let us know.

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Girls stuff/Boys stuff

July 15, 2013

It’s been a weekend of division of activities by the sexes with the girls off doing their thing and the boys doing theirs. Bernice and Leslie started it all off with a trip to the movies to see White Lies, a NZ movie based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, which comes highly recommended by us for viewing. Then on Saturday it was off down to the mall for a little retail therapy and some pampering, first it was the pedicure, foot massage and toenail painting, which was utter bliss. Then a little light lunch before some light retail therapy. Then it was back home where Steve and Roy, ably assisted by grandson Asher, were smoking the bacon that had been curing all week. And it smelt damn good too.

Later in the late afternoon, Leslie and I tootled over the bridge to pick up Jacky as we had bookings to go and see a Play. But first we needed a bite to eat, but where to go? The restaurant by the theatre was jam packed full of theatre goers as was the Japanese restaurant next door, however a short walk up the road and a Korean place looked interesting. A lovely shared meal of braised chili short ribs, a squid dish of some kind, bibimbap, and a host of other things that I now cannot remember what they were apart from the fact that it was delicious!

The play was called Nick: An accidental Hero, and a one woman show by Renee Lyons. Nick Chisholm has Locked-in syndrome, but this is not a play about a man with a disability. It’s a play about a man and the people in his life. The accident that resulted in his current state is simply a catalyst, an event that is circumnavigated to illustrate the finer points of the human condition. I say finer points, because Lyons presents us with how the characters deal with the situation, as opposed to focusing on the ‘what’ of the situation. While the latter could easily result in forced melodrama, the former gives us a proper insight into the people involved in Nick’s life, and, consequently, of Nick himself. Said characters include Nick’s mother Joyce, his best friend Boyd, his other best friend Liam, his now wife Nicola, and Soo Young Kim, an hilarious fictional Korean orderly cleverly used as a narrative device.

All in all an excellent show that we all thoroughly enjoyed and laughed at all the way through.

Sunday morning after an excellent breakfast of Steve’s home made bacon, some free range eggs complete with my homemade sourdough, Roy, Leslie and I went for a drive out to Clevedon to visit the Farmers Market. Although the weather wasn’t exactly the best we managed to dodge any rain showers and were back home in time to watch Steve slice up his bacon on his newly acquired slicer.

20130715-114707.jpgslicing action

20130715-114722.jpg Bringing home the bacon, and damn delicious it is too!

The afternoon was spent catching up on a few tasks which included making some more delicious dumplings, some of which we had for dinner. Roy went out for the afternoon to see Brian and Marjorie, fellow motorhomers, to help them with some issues they were having with computers, downloading books to readers etc etc. Back in March 2011 on our first week in our newly acquired motorhome, we met Brian and Marj in Tauranga where they provided us with much help and sage advice. They were at Ambury our last night there last week, where it was lovely to catch up with them again. We hope to meet up with them again soon somewhere in Northland.

The van is still in at the repairers, but hopefully we will be back on the road by the weekend. Watch this space.

And another week slips by

July 3, 2013

I am not sure where all the days go, but somehow they seem to disappear with some regularity. Roy duly went off to see the Orthopedic surgeon last Tuesday where it was decided that perhaps they needed an MRI scan to see better what is exactly going on. The scan was booked for last Friday with a follow up appointment to be made once the scan report was in the hands of the surgeon. The surgeons appointment is next week, however the scan was duly done on Friday, which in itself was a bit of a juggle. Bernice dropped Roy off at the clinic then whipped off to the airport to meet up with eldest brother Mike, who was returning from his sojourn to Germany and Switzerland. We arranged for Antony to meet up with Roy at the scan clinic then they both then joined Mike and I at the airport for a catch up before Mike then headed south.

20130703-121517.jpgGuess who got a new knife? Roy had his knife refurbished at the factory which Mike had visited.

Antony came for a quick visit to pick up a hat I had knitted for him

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In between, we have been busy what with one thing or another. One day I went off to the movies with Pat & Sue to see Song for Marion, a good thing to do on a wet Auckland day. I enjoyed the movie although it was a little close to to home for me at times and the tissues got a work out!

Friends have visited us at Ambury, and we have been out visiting. Saturday we went to Jacky & Chris’ for lunch and also took the opportunity to do a bit of laundry. Sunday was spent with us entertaining friends with visits from Edwina, Vanessa and her children followed by a lovely afternoon spent with Ron & Janet.

A bit of maintenance on the van has been undertaken this past week or so, Pat kindly assisted by fixing some short lengths of tubing to the end of our guttering system so we can collect rain water. Rain water certainly makes a difference in taste to our cups of tea, and we just have a few more mods to do to enable us to collect water off the awning as well. Bernice has been busy removing the old caulking from around the shower and re caulking with the appropriate gunk (tech name for the stuff that you squeeze out of a large tube/caulking gun and manage to spread over most of yourself as well as the shower!!).

The weather has been very changeable with winter woollies dragged out of the cupboard, followed by wet weather gear, followed by lighter gear. Sometimes it all occurs within a few hours of each other. The birds and plants are very confused, as we have seen newly hatched Pukeko chicks, and this Manuka is on full flower right beside our van.

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And some days it looks like we have set up a Chinese laundry

20130703-123531.jpgPat, Sue and Bernice watch the washing dry.

In the meantime, we wait for the next appointment and hope that they are pleased with Roy’s progress so that we can continue up on our journey. Roy is managing to walk a little way without crutches so we presume that means he is slowly on the mend.

Last but by no means least, we welcome another great niece to the family, Michelle Marie, born the day after her big sister Renee’s 5th birthday. Congratulations Natalie, Richard and Renee.

Auckland to Taupo to Whakatane

January 18, 2013

Ok, so we have started the year off very slowly in keeping up blog entries.  Now we are back on the road, we should get ourselves back into some semblance of routine and ‘normality’.  Dont hold your breath though!

We finally left Auckland on Monday 14th January, Jacky & Chris arrived home from the UK late on Wednesday evening, they had Thursday at home before they left again Friday morning for a weekend with friends on Waiheke Island.  Brother Mike arrived back on Friday as he was flying back to Dunedin on the Saturday completing his sojourn in the north.   We spent the last few days in Auckland trying to remember if we had done everything we had wanted to achieve before we left the city.  We had a quick trip over the the English food shop to pick up a few bits and pieces, including some bits for James at Pen-y-bryn. Whilst there, we took the opportunity to purchase a few goodies for ourselves! 

We also went to a few Asian markets, including a Korean mart and a Chinese Supermarket.  Earlier in the week, we had been out for a Chinese meal along Dominion Road, Balmoral, where we chose one of the restaurants to eat at.  We were the only European faces in the place, the staff spoke limited English,  the menu was pictorial with some interesting English translations of menu items. We duly chose a couple of dishes, helped along by the waitress and proceeded to wait.  Whilst waiting we were given a pot of green tea, it was delicious and refreshing, we polished off the whole pot in a very short time.  Our meal duly arrived, and we are still unsure of what we actually ate, but it was all delicious.  One dish was a pork belly dish with chillies (read that as at least 2 handfuls of dried chillies in the dish), on crispy rice.  Another dish was a spicy lamb dish served with what they called pie, it turned out they were very soft dough-like pockets which you filled with the lamb….and of course I had to have some dumplings.  It was all a bit too much for us so we ended up taking enough home for another meal.  Which brings me back to the Chinese supermarket, we tried to find some green tea like we had had and even after ringing James to try and assist, Roy ended up back at the restaurant to try and find out what sort of tea it was.  Through translations and hand gestures, it turns out that they import their own tea from China so we were unable to buy any in NZ, however, the kind lady packaged up a container full for us and gave it to us, free no less.  Now we have our own supply.

Whilst in Auckland ,we have also managed to see a couple of movies, the first was when Mike was with us when we went to see The Intouchables.  A fantastic movie that we can all highly recommend, it is a French movie (subtitled) based on a true story.  It is very, very funny and one I could happily watch again.  The next movie was The Quartet which Bernice went to see last weekend by herself.  It was a ‘nice’ movie, I would not rave about it however it was a nice way to spend a very hot afternoon in an air-conditioned theatre!!

Monday morning, we left Auckland and headed to Putaruru, staying with sister Sue for the night.  It was nice to get to sleep with cooler temperatures and half the humidity that we had been experiencing in Auckland. Roy’s cousin Robert called in for a catch up and we arranged to meet up with him again in a day or so.   Tuesday and we headed off to Taupo and to our home which was safely parked up at Barry & Sandra’s base at Taupo airport.  It was so nice to get back to our own bit of space and put away all our belongings. We called in to say hi to Jeff and Jason in Taupo before they headed off up to Putaruru. Tuesday afternoon and evening we spent at sister Hilary’s place, she had picked a few bags of plums so I helped her make plum jam and plum sauce.  Wednesday and we spent the day with Robert, assisting him with his recent purchase of an iPad.  Hilary and Rebekka came round in the evening for a final catch up before we left town.

Thursday morning and pack everything up and get ready to move on, we go through our pre travel checklist to make sure everything is complete.

 Mirarda PreflightMirarda on the Move

hitching up the car,  ready to go, NB: nicely polished thanx  to Barry

 Mirarda Crewand the crew ready to leave.  

Now it is a few years since we headed through this part of country and it is interesting to see how the landscape has changed over the years. 

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on the road past Wairaki, all of this land was covered in pine forest the last time we were through here. 

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Seeing this cooling tower on the horizon reminded us of being in Britain, however, this is just out of Reporoa, and no it is not a nuclear power station but a geothermal power plant.

We stopped in Rotorua to empty the waste tanks, then to fuel up the van as we noticed that petrol was 13c/litre cheaper in Rotorua than it was in Taupo and Auckland.  Then it was off through past the Lakes to Whakatane. Along the way we drive through what is known as Hongi’s Track.

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Driving through Hongi’s Track.

Legend has it that the track was used by  Hinehopu. She travelled regularly between her two homes, one at each end of the track. It was also halfway along this track that she met her future husband Pikiao II; the precise spot is marked by Hinehopu’s magic tree. Hinehopu planted the tree as a sapling to mark the spot. The tree is today more generally spoken of as the Wishing Tree. It was over this same track that Hongi Hika and his Ngapuhi army hauled their canoes in order to attack Mokoia Island at Rotorua. Much later, and probably as a result of a blossoming tourist industry, the roadway became known as Hongi’s Track.  Today the highway follows the track and is serene and beautiful native bush.

61We stopped along side Lake Rotoiti for a bite to eat and a cuppa before heading to brother Johns place just outside Whakatane.

Over the past week Bernice has managed to meet up with 4 of her siblings, next week we will also catch up with Steve.  It has been fantastic to catch up with everyone.  We are in the midst of planning a bit of a family get together in April as it will be 50 years since we emigrated to NZ from the UK, more on that in a later edition.

Here we are parked up for the next few days with the hope that we will be able to get in a bit of fishing. Last night and John has some smoked fish which Bernice turned into a tasty smoked fish pie for dinner before she and his girls, Julie and Jenny, went off to the movies to see Les Miserables. Wow, I have been to three movies already this year, more than I have been to in the past 3 or 4 years!!!