Archive for the ‘road’ Category

Welshpool & Shrewsbury

June 23, 2019

We set our next destination as Welshpool which is near the border with England.

The planned route

We both agreed that we would take a route less travelled rather than sticking to major motorways and A roads, so with this programmed into the sat nav, off we went. Initially it went well, we were quietly enjoying the scenery and countryside when all of a sudden we were on what I could only describe as a track/lane.

Narrow windy road

It was definitely becoming more and more narrow the further along we went with the hedge rows and trees becoming closer and closer the further we travelled. With absolutely no opportunity to turn around, we continued on with thoughts of should we have a hedge trimmer with us? Should we pull the side mirrors in?


That was until we met a car coming in the opposite direction. Luckily for us, they reversed along the road until we had the opportunity to inch past each other at snails pace.

We were soon back on slightly wider roads/lanes but when “she” – the Sat Nav – told us to turn off again, we ignored her and continued on until she had worked out a new route on a major road.

All was back on track, until we came to the brow of a hill, we had obviously climbed up a lot higher than we initially thought and spectacular views down over the valleys. However, the navigator decided this wasn’t the best place for him to be and he just wanted it over with as quickly as possible, we were in fact going over the hills of Snowdonia. Due to the photographers lack of desire to take pictures, these few are from later on and will have to suffice.

Rolling hills



Our arrival into the outskirts of Welshpool was a welcoming sight, now we started to look for somewhere to stay. Our first choice of hotel was unfortunately it was fully booked but the very helpful receptionist rang a couple of other places for us and we were soon booked into a lovely B& B a few hundred metres up the road.

Buildings across the street from the B&B dating from around the 16th Century.

The Royal Oak

Canal through the town

Stones in a circle

These circles are called Gorstedd Stones and used for the celebration of Eisteddfod, a welsh tradition of celebrating literature, music and performance. Some stone circles are very old, dating back centuries, but we suspect this may be a later one, dating from when there was a revival of the celebrations in the 1800’s.

The Mermaid Inn was just a few doors away from our B&B

The Stone House B&B where we were staying had parts of its building dating back to the 1200’s, amazing stuff.

We had a little time to explore the town and get some washing done before we went back to our original choice of lodgings, the Royal Oak Hotel, where we had a wonderful evening meal.

Yummm, liver and bacon!

Again we had great service from the friendly staff, before we returned to our B&B for a good nights sleep.

The following morning we decided to have a day off driving, instead taking the train into Shrewsbury. We had read about a scenic boat trip on the River Severn which we thought would be a fun way to see the sights.

View from the train

The train trip was quick and pleasant, and we were there in no time at all. It was a short walk to the river where we were told the boats would be leaving. However, in usual fashion our luck was not on our side and we were greeted with this sign.

The sign says it all

Oh never mind, instead, we found a very nice looking pub across the road that looked very busy with lots of happy punters, so we headed off to drown our sorrows. The food looked fabulous too so instead of a boat trip we stayed on for a late lunch, which again was amazingly good fare.

The following are a few sights from around Shrewsbury.

River Severn

Street view

This sculpture, named Quantum Leap, was erected on the banks of the Severn to celebrate the the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who was born in the town in 1809. It also celebrates Shropshire’s diverse geological history which covers 10 of the 12 geological eras. Soon it was time to retrace our steps and return to Welshpool.

Allotments along the train tracks, on the return journey

Our time in Welshpool was coming to and end, but the next adventure is all rather exciting!!

On the road/rail north

June 18, 2019

We had to drag ourselves away from Callum….oh, and Alex & Ian too, so that the new family could have some good quality time together. As Ian gets just two weeks paternity leave it was time to leave them on their own to find their feet. The day before we left, Ian’s parents Chris & Barry came to get in a few cuddles.

Nana and Grandad Denny

And it looks as though Callum is going to be a thumbsucker, just like his mum was and his dad too.


The following morning Ian took us to the train station at Abbey Wood, a bit further away from the local station in Erith as Abbey Wood has the direct train into Kings Cross Station where our next train heading to Yorkshire would be leaving from.

We were soon on the train heading north and even though the weather wasn’t exactly screaming summer, the skies reminded us of paintings by Constable over the farmland.

Oh and have we mentioned before how much we enjoy travelling by train??

We wizzed through many small towns, stopping at just a few larger cities including Doncaster, which was where my Grandpop lived.

Before long we pulled into Selby, our destination for the next couple of days to stay with my lovely cousin Pauline and her husband Pat. Those of you regular readers will remember that 18 months ago we met up with Pauline & Pat in Lanzarote where they were living. Since then they have moved back to the UK (bloody Brexit!).

We went out for a drink one evening before dinner where Pauline and I took up position in the Naughty Corner.

In the naughty corner

We mostly behaved ourselves, honestly, we did!!

This was at a lovely pub, which Roy tells me he is going to write an entry on the pub so you have that to look forward to.

We then took a short walk to a nice restaurant for a bite to eat, along the way we had to walk past Selby Abbey.

Selby Abbey

The Abbey celebrates its 950th anniversary this year. It is one of the few surviving Abbey churches of the Middle Ages. An Abbey is defined as a complex of buildings used by members of a religious order under the governance of an abbot or an abbess. It provides a place for religious activities, work, and housing of Christian monks and nuns. Many abbeys were self sufficient with monks and nuns having a multitude of skills from stone masonry to gardening.

We had a lovely meal before heading home for a nightcap – yes John, we’ve introduced Pauline & Pat to Pedro Ximinez😉.

Earlier in the day we had picked up a rental car as we are heading off on a bit of a road trip, not sure exactly where as yet but northern Wales looks like a good contender. I am the driver for this part of our trip around so I will be avoiding all large cities and metropolitan areas as much as possible. We will be returning he car to Selby and staying with Pauline & Pat before training back to London.

Timanfaya National Park

October 25, 2017

Timanfaya National Park is volcanic National Park on the southwest of Lanzarote island

The volcano last erupted between 1730 and 1736 which resulted in the island being covered in the volcanic matter we see today. Timanfaya volacano remains active as the surface temperature in the core ranges from 100 to 600C at a depth of 13 metres.

We drove to the park entering through the gates some way from the mountain and the car park with the queue of traffic snaking its way for some kilometres in front of us as well as behind us.

The entry into the park is well controlled as the car parking area is very limited so you are only let in when space is available.

Cars queued in front of us

And cars snaked for kms behind us

we have no idea why it was so busy on a Monday, when there were no public holidays and it is not as though it is peak tourist season either.

Once we reached the car park and safely negotiated the parking area we then hopped onto a bus for a tour of the park, the only way to view the park as it is a one way, narrow winding road.

the motley crew

this is known as Manto de la Virgen, which we took to roughly translate as nuns mantle

The view across to the Caesar Manrique designed visitor centre and restaurant nestled on the top of the mountain.

Back at the parking area we were invited to watch the attendants show just how near the surface the heat is. The attendants shovel in dried scrubby material which ignites almost immediately.

Next they poured a bucket of cold water into a vent hole which then spurted with a hiss and a roar, much like a geyser, into the air to the oohs and aahs of spectators.

After watching this show, you can appreciate how a visit to Rotorua thermal area in New Zealand would be a mind blowing experience for some people!!!

It was time for some lunch in the Caesar Manrique designed restaurant nestled into the top of the mountain, with an impressive view over the whole park. (More on Caesar Manrique in another post).

After lunch we left the mountain to head down to an area further along the road where we all decided to have a go on a camel ride. This is a bit of a different camel ride to others that we have done as on this ride the seats are astride of the camel.

our rides waiting patiently

yes that is Roy waving madly at the camera, with Christine and Barry in front of us.

Alex and Ian led the way on the safari into the dunes.


July 5, 2017

Today we ventured down to Auckland and thought we would try out the newly opened, and very expensive at $1.4billion, Waterview Tunnel.

 Here it is

Getting closer

Inside the 2.4km long tunnel

And the exit

It certainly was much quicker for us to skirt around the central city as we were heading to Papakura to stay with Antony for a couple of nights.  As you can see, there was very little traffic and it was an easy run through.  We shall certainly be travelling the Western Ring Route, as it is called, in future rather than over the Harbour Bridge.  Well done to those responsible. 

Cider Shed

December 15, 2016

A stop was planned half way through our journey from Uretiti to Shakespear but where were we going to pause? There are no too many places for us to easily pull off to the side of the road comfortably, although there were plenty of ideal spots on the right hand side of the road, but not many n the left. Just north of Warkworth we spied a suitable place ahead of us on the left. And what’s more,  there just happened to be a cafe there, perfect for a coffee….or perhaps a little something stronger? 

Ample parking on the side of the road for the motorhome and the towed RAV4.

And inside the gate, this is what awaits, with plenty of parking for smaller vehicles too

We wandered in and were warmly greeted by the owner.  Hmmm, something to eat as well perhaps? It was really only late morning, an early lunch or just a bite to go with the coffee.  Ok, just a nibble to tide us over.  We decided against trying the cider this time, but it all sounded rather tasty.

The meals that went past us to other customers looked very nice too.

With large covered decks around the outside as well as play areas for children, and a lovely looking grassed area for sitting in the sun, it looked like a great place to spend some time.  

We will definitely stop here again on our way past and we will have try out a meal and even a bit of their cider.

Kerikeri via Waipoua Forest

July 24, 2014


The trip through to Kerikeri took much longer than we had anticipated due to the number of washouts, road repairs, felled tree retrieval and clearance along the road.  We had last travelled this route 18years ago, but neither of remembered the VERY narrow and windy route where the road narrowed to single lane and twisted and turned back on itself continually.  


We saw a number of large Kauri trees along the route peeking through the tree tops.


We were very lucky not to have encountered more traffic or indeed heavy trucks as we ventured through.  Jim & Judy were not quite so fortunate and grazed past a large truck just before they caught up to us parked up on the side of the road near Tane Mahuta. 

26Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree (Agathis australis).  Its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Here we stopped for a walk to see the Lord of the forest, a truly amazing sight and hard to capture the huge size of this tree. 


It is the largest kauri known to stand today, its vital statistics are;  

Trunk girth 13.77 m (45.2 ft)

Trunk height 17.68 m (58.0 ft)

Total height 51.2 m (168 ft)

Trunk volume 244.5 m3 (8,630 cu ft)

Total volume 516.7 m3 (18,250 cu ft)

From there, it was a better run through Omapere, Opononi, Kaikohe and onto Kerikeri where we are now safely parked.

Whilst in Kerikeri Roy is taking the opportunity to catch up with his cousin, Stuart Park, so they can compare notes to assist the untangling the branches of their family tree.  Stuart kindly invited us to lunch on Sunday and it was a very pleasant surprise to be greeted at his house with the Swiss flag flying.  Yes, the Vannini name originates from the Italian corner of Switzerland. 

swissSwiss flag flying

We shall be staying here in Kerikeri for the rest of the week before we head further north.


June 12, 2014


This is the first time we have spent any time in the Kaipara Harbour and so a little jaunt seemed appropriate.  We were going to head to Port Albert but we instead headed for a place called Batley where we were told we would be impressed with an old stately home.

And we certainly were as we rounded the last corner into the bay this magnificent building presented itself.


Batley is on the end of one of the many peninsulars that jut into the Kaipara Harbour.  Each of them has a tale to tell as the whole area has a long Maori and European history.

On the way out of Batley spotted what looked like a road along the foreshore on the distance, on closer inspection it turned into a sandbar with many birds parading


On the road away from Batley there was one turnoff so we had to go and have look just in case we might miss something.  The road went to Tanoa.  The main features being a  Marae, Church, Sandy Beach and a statue in the Marae grounds.  The statue is in fact a bust of Queen Victoria which is presented in a glass case on a plinth. 


The church is typical of those found in many of the small country areas in Northland (or for that matter throughout country New Zealand.  An enclosed graveyard alongside the church records the pioneers and Maori families from the area.


The sandy beach provides a view of Batley in the far distance and the large house can be seen.


On the road toward Maungaturoto  we saw the unusual site of a large number (muster/ostentation/pride) of Peacocks running around in a paddock next to the road, but if course as soon as we stopped to take a photo they all scarpered back in to hiding among the tussocks.


Next we did a long loop which took us back past the Whakapirau Road to Paparoa and from there out to Tinopai.  Why?  Well why not, we were here and we might as well see more.  Tinopai is on the peninsula which is the separated by the Wairoa River from the West Coast northern headland of the Kaipara Harbour.  This photo looks down the harbour toward the entrance.  We were there when the tide was running out and there was a strong current heading out.


There is a relatively new wharf/pier structure at the south end of Tinopai along from the launching ramp.


We were at Tinopai on market day, just a small affair in the local hall, primarily bits and pieces but we did manage to score a bargain.  We had recently purchased a couple of serrated small knives for about $12.00 each, which was a bit steep, and were looking at getting a couple more.  Well we managed to find a lady selling exactly the knives we wanted at Tinopai and not only that but the price was $6.00 a piece!!

From Tinopai we headed back toward Matakohe the home of the Kauri Museum.  We had visited the museum some years ago. But we arrived on this day it was close to closing time so we gave it a miss but took some photos of the surrounding buildings.  The whole area looks very tidy but also very quiet at this time of year.

The Church is opposite the museum while the old Post and Telegraph office is alongside the museum.


Further along the road we came across this unusual sign.  Does it mean ‘go fly a kite’  in a derogatory sense or does it have real meaning?  This was at the intersection of State Highway 12 and the turn off to Tinopai.


However, in the opposite direction to the sign and up on a hill could be seen these beasts.  The long tailed ‘tadpole’ was probably in excess of 4 metres long and the parasail type one was some 3 metres wide.  Apparently there is a lot of kite flying in this area.


Meanwhile back a Whakapirau another glorious morning gave another great reflection shot.


And of course the ducks were still keeping away from the maimais


Boats aren’t the only reflections around, the one on the left is on our side at Whakapirau, the one on the right opposite us at Pahi


Just to show that occasionally the days are not quite so fine these to are from the upper deck during rain squalls


However next morning brought a very impressive rainbow in the light drizzle.


Didn’t quite zip these together but you get the idea.


Now when we said we had a problem getting in to the drive at Jacky & Chris’ we had a few getting out as well.  There are no action shots as there was a lot of attention on getting out and too much tension to allow time for photos.

We were parked at the end of the slab on the metal and grass area.  No problem getting going but then we had to turn rather sharply to the left to get onto the dive, not so easy requiring backing and filling and leaving some rubber behind when we couldn’t reverse


The rest was relatively painless until the hairpin at the top.  This necessitated a little use of language to negotiate but did not require the back and fill required to get down.  This shot shows it from the top and as can be seen there is no room on the right to swing before the corner and one immediately loses sight of the road.


Oh and here is a shot of a car on the drive which goes to show it is not overly wide


Next time we are unlikely to drive in!!!

This rather industrious person was seen reducing some of the half metre high kikuyu down to size.  She really does look the part when all togged up for the job


And finally just a couple of nature shots.

These two of an interesting looking fungus growing on a young Puriri.


And these of the flowers of a Kohekohe tree.


New Year

January 10, 2013

Happy New Year to you all, a little late but we have been very slack in keeping up with blog life!  Although now trying to think back on what we have been up to, I fear we have not been up to much apart from catching up with family and friends. 

Antony hosted a BBQ on the 28th December so we all wandered out to his place for the evening.  Mike left us the following day for his sojourn northwards. 

As I had received a small bike for Christmas, as in a 6inch model of a bike with the promise of a real bike,  we headed out to the shops to find a suitable model. This is because we in a moment of weakness I agreed to be part of a family team in the next Round the Taupo Bike race!!  Hence, I have to get fit ….and get a bike.  We found a lovely bike shop nearby where with the shop owner, along with Mike, gave me helpful advice.  So I ended up with a “Comfort Mountain Bike” which will be suitable for all sorts of biking, and not just one suitable for the race.

bike  Set up in a training frame for practice

Antony had given me a nice pair of headphones for Christmas, so now I can bike along merrily whilst listening to an audiobook.  This is of course very good for me and also helping with the rehab on my ankles, for which I am still having physio.  Whilst we are at Jacky & Chris’, I have the bike set up on a trainer so I can happily bike in situ without having to worry about negotiating traffic.

Just before New Year, friends Kevin & Faye from Nelson came to stay and we spent a lovely afternoon wandering along the waterfront,  checking out the views from the top of Mt Eden and other general sightseeing around the central city.  We ended the day with a relaxing dinner at home.  They left on New Years Eve,  and after all the excitement of the previous few days we did not stay up to welcome in the New Year and  we were in bed by 10pm. 

The following are some views of iconic Auckland sights;

iconic 2iconic

Boat Sheds                                     Sky Tower

rangi 2victoria

Rangitoto                                       Mt Victoria and Devonport


Pohutakawa’s                            And of course the queues of traffic,

Another day and we headed out to Howick to the cemetery and the Columbarium where Roy’s parents ashes are kept.   The plaque was a little tarnished so we spent some time giving it a polish.  

plaque 1

From there we headed out for a tiki tour (or trip down memory lane) around Howick and Cockle Bay, as this is where Roy grew up.  We passed many of his old haunts and we also called in at his parents old property in Cockle Bay where there are now two houses on the 1/3 acre section.  We also called past his aunts old property in Pt England where a new house is currently being built.  On our way home we called in to see Bill & Estelle for a cuppa and a catch up.   

And a few days later we were back at Bill & Estelle’s for a BBQ with some of the old crowd.  When I say old crowd, I mean Roy’s friends from his early days around Howick.  These evenings are always fun, and always end up with ‘do you remember…’

bill Bernice listening to another one of the stories at Bill & Estelle’s.

Another day and another trip out and about, this time to Warkworth to meet Roy’s cousin Delyse and her husband Graeme. We had not been on the new highway north on the toll road and through the tunnel, so after sorting out payment (all done via the internet) we headed north.

tunnel 5tunnel 2

Approaching the tunnel                Heading through the tunnel

Delyse has also been doing a bit of genealogy so she and Roy were able to compare and swap notes. We spent a lovely afternoon with them before heading south again, this time via the old coast road.  This time we called in to  Wenderholm and Shakespear Parks to view them as possible sites for a camping weekend with Alex and her friends when she is home from London next month.  Shakespear Park is looking the most likely spot as we are constrained as to where we may park our van due to size restrictions.

As you can see from the photos, we have been experiencing amazing weather, it has been very warm and humid with a surprising lack of rain – very unusual for Auckland!  Long may this weather continue.

We have also managed to catch up with Robyn & Alan, friends from when our children were at school together at Parnell Primary.  We spent a lovely evening with them reminiscing, catching up with happenings and we will not mention the bottle of rum that Alan and Roy demolished!

We are now into our last few days of being in Auckland, as we plan to head off on Monday down to Taupo and back to our van ready for a couple of weeks of tripping around before heading  back to the Auckland region for Alex’s pending arrival.

Now for the interesting photo of the day we have the following;

 crash landed goose  It’s a patch in the tarseal but the shape is interesting…Roy says it looks like a goose that made a bad landing but I say it looks like the map of Tasmania.

Paragliders and birthday

November 27, 2012

Firstly, in response to a comment on a previous entry asking how we found driving through the Forgotten Highway in large vehicle towing a small vehicle… was absolutely fine, no problems, worries or woes. Either that means we are becoming more used to driving over narrow, twisty roads, or the anxiety levels are reducing!

Friday and it is get ourselves sorted day. Bernice needed a haircut and something done to her hair to cover up the sudden arrival of a multitude of just the one shade of gray! Off to town and suitable appointments were made for later in the afternoon. Meanwhile Roy had business to attend to.

parkingVan safely parked up in front of the spare hangar, viewed from Barry & Sandra’s base above their hangar. The now unused control tower is in the background

Right next door to the Payne’s is the Taupo Tandem Skydiving venture. Watching the activities consumed a fair bit of time over the weekend.

briefing tandem plane

First is the briefing Plane ready to take passengers

tandem 2Loading up

para 1para 3

and down they come


First down is the photographer then the rest arrive

All these photos were taken from our vantage point from Barry & Sandra’s apartment.

Sunday, and someone has a birthday. They seem to roll around with monotonous regularity and the numbers keep getting larger. Lunch was had out at the French Cafe and Hilary joined us along with some friends of the Payne’s. Then it was back to their place to have the wonderful coffee chocolate layer cake Hilary had made for me.

cake the delicious cake, complete with random number of candles.

Now, a couple of challenges have been set today, more on both of these will be progressively announced in the next weeks, with regular updates occurring over the coming months. Watch this space!

Later in the afternoon, Roy & Bernice headed around the corner to the NZMCA park to visit a couple we had met on the road over a year ago and to also make new acquaintances, over the usual afternoon happy hour. Happy hour extended to a few hours before we left and then headed round to Hilary’s to spend our last evening in Taupo with her.

Monday morning, we packed the RAV4 with what we think we may need over the next 6 weeks, bade our farewells and left Taupo

Tongariroparting view of Tongariro and Ngauruhoe

and headed to Putaruru where we will be staying with sister Sue and husband Jeff. An uneventful trip through some very familiar countryside. However, it was interesting to see the changes in the familiar landscape we once knew so well from our days of living in the region. What were once forests of pine plantations are now cleared land for dairying.

We arrived in Putaruru by lunch time and settled in for the evening of catching up.

mosaic Mosaic on wall in Putaruru

Tuesday morning and we arrange to meet up with Roy’s cousin Robert before heading to Hamilton to stay with friends Wade & Lindsay. We are friends from just a few years ago (hmmm, is it really 30+ years) when we all lived in Tokoroa.