Archive for the ‘Shakespear’ Category

First week post surgery

February 27, 2020

True to his word, my lovely surgeon allowed me to go home on the third day after surgery seeing as though I was doing so well. I’ve got good range of motion, can put full weight on my leg and can even take a couple of steps without crutches (shhh, don’t tell anyone that, I’ll get into trouble!!).

But before I left hospital, I had a surprise visit from some lovely friends. It was a great visit breaking up my day and catching up on news. It was certainly a huge and very unexpected but welcome surprise and really made my day. You know who you are, you are both treasures. As well, I had lots of phone calls and messages from special people, thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

We are now happily back in the campground and the weather is just stunning, although we could desperately do with some rain. The weekends are full in the camp, during the week it is very quiet, but Roy still dons his hi-vis vest and goes off to check people in.

Roy heading off to do his duties whilst wearing his new vest emblazoned with Camp Host

We settled back into the campground, and I’ve settled into a semblance of a routine by doing my exercises, walking a little, and putting my leg up to rest. The latter is important due to having a very swollen foot and ankle.

One left foot and ankle very swollen. Note the lovely ice pack on the knee – it’s hiding the bruising too!

Just a bit of bruising

Some of the bruising at the back of the knee

Bruising down the leg and onto the foot, I thought initially that I had stepped into something and it had left a dirty mark!!!

Not that it stops me doing much. Did you know you can still vacuum with one crutch! Shhhh, don’t tell a Roy what I’ve been up to.

Vacuum in one hand, crutch in the other!

Meanwhile, my garden is growing well, I just need a bit more flex in the knee before I can get out there and give it a good weed. And just so that I don’t get my hands too dirty, Rangers Bruce & Emma found this toy on the beach and thought that it would be perfect for me!

Toy rake

All in all, everything is going really well, with the best thing being that I am not in any pain at all, just a bit of tenderness over the surgery site and a bit uncomfortable with the bruising and swelling however I consider myself very fortunate indeed.Long may it continue.

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.


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.

Some people…

January 28, 2020

We had had a well earned early night after a few late nights and/or early mornings, we had just drifted off to sleep when I was woken by lots of noise from within the camp, I thought it was mainly people talking interspersed with shrieks and shouts however something didn’t seem quite right.

I woke Roy and said that I thought there was some sort of commotion happening in camp, he got up and dressed and ventured out to see what was going on. He wandered around the camp but couldn’t find anything amiss so we hopped back into bed. Next minute there is a loud whooosh and bang, we were up again and looking outside. The sky had turned red with the whole campground was aglow in a red hue, and after the yellow apocalyptic skies caused by the recent Australian bush fires, we were not sure of what was going on. However, looking toward the beach we could see a distress flare slowly descending through the night sky.

Distress flare, image copied from safety web site

With that, we were both out the door with torches in hand, off to the beach to see who or what was in distress, and who needed help. Much to our disgust, we found a family group laughing and giggling their way back to their campsite who said that they had let off what they had thought was a firework. A firework? In a closed fire season? In a sanctuary? What on earth are you thinking?

Who in their right mind comes camping for one night, brings with them a “firework”, to then make their way to the beach at 11pm to then “accidentally” set it off? As we were chastising the family group, who didn’t appear to be very remorseful, I mentioned that the setting off of the flare would probably start a chain reaction of emergency services into action, in saying that, a helicopter flew overhead.

We left the group, after they were told to be quiet and to settle down for the night as they had disturbed many of the other campers who were now also up and about, alert to a possible emergency. After reassuring other campers that all was well, we headed off back to the van. As we got back to our van, the drumming noise of the helicopter overhead circling repeatedly around the headland and waterfront was continuous so Roy rang the non emergency police number (105) to explain to them what had occurred, that it was no emergency, just idiots with mush for brains being $@*#@%+.

We crawled back to bed after all the excitement and I’m just falling asleep when we are woken again, this time with a knock, knock, knock, at the door. I leap out of bed, waking Roy on the way (the advantage? of wearing hearing aids and removing them at night means you don’t hear these things), I open the door, wearing my best nightie 🤣, to find two police personnel greeting me. It is now just before 1am.

They tell us that they wish to speak to the persons responsible for setting off the flare, and could we please take them to their campsite so they could make sure that they realise the consequences of their actions and the response, the manpower and costs involved. Roy again got dressed, putting in his hearing aids and donning his glasses before he headed off across the campground to wake the now sleeping group.

We left the Police to do their job, we don’t know what was said, how long they were with the campers or if their were any repercussions for their actions as in charges, fines or the like but I really hope that there was some sort of consequence.

The next day, the NZ Herald had a report on the act, mind you, they got nearly every “fact” wrong.

But as you can read, it did trigger a major response from all the major emergency services including both ground and helicopter Police, coastguard and search & rescue with defence force personnel put on standby.

Agencies that were alerted

All in all, a major waste of resources and personnel time, all for the sake of someone’s idea of “fun”.

Green with envy

January 19, 2020

This year at Shakespear has been pretty amazing in many many ways, not only is the camp continually full of lovely families, everyone is complimenting us on the way the camp feels and how lovely it all is….touching wood here in the hope that it continues! We’ve made some lovely friends out of families who return year after year, and this year we’ve been rewarded with many many gifts, it is really very humbling.

On Friday I got a very, very, special present. At around 5pm as I was quietly sitting in my chair in the sunshine reading my book, I saw the tractor heading across the camp ground with what looked like a large crate on the front forks.

Bruce (Head Ranger) opened the tractor door and said I’ve brought you a present….a pukeko proof garden!

Pukeko proof garden

Roy inspecting the garden, complete with lift up front for easy access

I’m so excited, it’s silly!!

I forgot to take a picture of it when it arrived, as it was full of weeds but it wasn’t long before we had weeded it out and watered it in readiness to plant.

The following morning I headed out to buy a few plants ready to plant in my new garden, a variety of herbs and vegetables which I have now planted up after digging over the soil, watering it well and giving it a bit of fertiliser.

All planted up, and yes that is a tomato on the left which has now been staked and tied up.

Pukeko proof garden

Oh and if you are wondering, no we shall not be carrying this around with us, it will remain at Shakespear and will be removed from the campsite once we have left to the safety of the Rangers station for them to look after until we return.

We feel all rather spoilt but I can’t wait until I can pick some fresh herbs and veg.

It’s not all calm and quiet

January 13, 2020

Occasionally we have a little bit of excitement in camp, just to keep everyone on their toes. We were just about to start cooking dinner on Saturday night when a fire engine came into camp, they stopped outside our van and asked if we could direct them to the emergency? and could I unlock the gates? After reading on their pager where they were instructed that the emergency was located, I unlocked the gates and sent them off into the paddocks, leaving the gates open as they said another truck was on its way.

Well, three fire trucks, one specialist fire truck, two emergency utes, one police car and an ambulance later plus the duty Ranger Dave, it was all on.

Two fire trucks and the smaller specialist emergency tender outside our van.

Off duty Head Ranger Bruce and his wife Leanne, just so happened to be visiting us for the evening for a few games of cards (yes Marilyn, 5 crowns has us all hooked!), but we all sat back and let the emergency crews do what they needed to do.

Apparently, a couple had gone for a walk around the rocks, but got caught out by the incoming tide. They made the decision to attempt to climb the cliff to the safety of the farmland up behind the campground, he safely made it to the top, unfortunately his wife made it within a few metres of the top before sliding back down 4 metres or so, scraping and bruising herself, running out of energy and could not climb any further.

All the following photos are courtesy of Dave, who was on hand as duty Ranger.

Cross country fire truck, the sheep seemed unimpressed.

Fire truck on its way and a plan being sorted

Getting into gear

Safety lines attached to two utes

Getting ready to climb down

Checking all the safety gear before sending someone over the edge

The lady in question was safely and efficiently brought up onto terra firma before being checked over by paramedics. She was in a bit of shock, with scrapes and bruises but otherwise unharmed.

The nice firemen took her off to be checked over but before they left, they treated the kids in the camp to a lights and sirens display in their trucks.

Meanwhile the serious stuff of cards games continued! or we tried to continue but a constant stream of concerned campers wanting to know what was going on interrupted the games.

The moral of the story? Check the tide times before setting out around the foreshore and if you find yourself in difficulty either retrace your route and get a little wet (the sea was incredibly calm) or stay exactly where you are on dry land and call for help.

Tracking cards

January 6, 2020

Firstly, thank you to Marilyn (NB Waka Huia) for asking the very good question….what are tracking cards?

To give a bit of background information, Shakespear Park is a pest free sanctuary at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsular.

Map of the Park

Together with New Zealand Defence Force land to the north, most of the Park lies within the Shakespear Open Sanctuary. Although Okoromai Bay and Army Bay are situated within the park realm they are not within the sanctuary.

A 1.7km pest/predator-proof fence (completed March 2011) goes across the peninsular and protects the park’s wildlife which includes resident invertebrates and lizards, along with birds migrating from nearby Tiritiri island sanctuary and many reintroduced species.  

Poison airdrops were conducted in July 2011 to eradicate mammalian pests and the park reopened to the public three months later, pest free.

Access to the park for visitors is by road, through the pest proof fence with automated gates opening for vehicles and cyclists with pedestrian access through a side gate.

Entrance gates

To ensure that the park is kept free of pests and predators such as possums, cats, dogs, ferrets, rats and the like, extensive monitoring takes place. This is done with a variety means by the way of traps, cameras, lures, and tracking cards.

Tracking cards are basically inked cards which are set into small tunnels with some form of enticement or lure (usually peanut butter with rabbit meat used in every 4th or 5th card) so that when an animal or insect walks across the card, it’s footprints are left behind. Many places use these cards to check on biodiversity and range of animals within their area but at Shakespear they are mainly used to monitor pests.

The front of the card

The card opened up showing the ink pad with some peanut butter in the middle

The cards are set out once a month then collected the following week for analysis, and with over 200 cards being set out in the park you can imagine it is a mammoth job which is done with the aid of a myriad of volunteers. Each volunteer is responsible for a particular line of cards with the Rangers doing the Navy land and any other lines that need to be done.

How do they know where the tunnels are placed? If you have been into the park you will have noticed bits of coloured tape tied to trees or fences. Orange and blue tape is used and these denote either a tracking tunnel or a trap.

Tape fluttering in the breeze

Once collected, they are read and species identified by their footprints, then any pests can be targeted in the specific area that they were detected. The following are examples of some of the tracking cards:

Hedgehog footprints, and yes, they are a pest, they raid nests and eat eggs.

Skink footprint and tail print

rat prints

Possum prints

Frog prints

Weta (NZ native insect)


Skink, mice, birds and cockroaches

Of course not all prints are of pests and from the last set of prints you will see that you really have to know what you are looking for to sort out what is what.

The Rangers are ably assisted by a great group of dedicated volunteers who not only ensure the Sanctuary is thriving for flora and fauna with an on-site tree nursery as well as monitoring of the many birds that thrive here, but also a safe environment for people to visit as it is also a working farm and open to the public for all sorts of recreational activities from picnicking to windsurfing, swimming, fishing, mountain biking and walking as well as a place for people to camp. We really enjoy being part of the great group of friendly volunteers on the park.

I hope that goes someway to explaining what tracking cards are and the reason why I was driving the ATV from the start to finish of some of the lines last week whilst Bruce put out the cards. The volunteers have a well deserved break over the Christmas/New Year period so I was doing my bit to help out.

A New Year

January 2, 2020

2020 is here, why is it that it seems just a short while ago we were celebrating the millennium? Time certainly does seem to fly.

First of all a quick look back on the past year and it certainly was an eventful one in more ways that one. We managed to catch up with lots of family and friends over the year, both here in New Zealand and in the UK. Of course our big news for the year was the arrival of our grandson Callum, we feel so privileged to have been there for his birthday and the first three months of his life. He is growing so fast and we cannot wait to head back to see him this April.

Callum with his cousin Beth

“who? me?” I can sit by myself!!

Health wise we have both been reasonably well, apparently my hip is healing nicely so I’m expecting to be able to have my other knee replaced sometime in the new year, all going well.

All in all 2019 was a good year and we are looking forward to the year ahead.

Meanwhile back at Shakespear, campers have come and gone. We have been very spoilt this year with many gifts from grateful campers of wine & chocolates, as well as some spoils from their diving and fishing expeditions…

Crayfish for dinner.

As well, we received a lovely HUGE hamper from the Rangers with all sorts of goodies that we have been thoroughly enjoying.

Antony went back home to work after Christmas, but was back again to join us for a week over the New Year and we have enjoyed having him around. And in response to a question on what game we were playing in the previous post, it was a game called Sequence. As well, many, many, many, games of Five Crowns have been played, and we have got Bruce (Head Ranger) hooked onto the game too. As Bruce’s family were away for Christmas and New Year, he has joined us most evenings for dinner followed by many games of Five Crowns. I haven’t kept a tally of wins but I’m sure I’m doing very well. I must add here that our obsession with the game is thanx to Marilyn & David, the Kiwi narrowboaters we met in the UK earlier in the year. We have even got to the point of making up score sheets to print off and use, such is our obsession!

I again went out driving the mule (ATV) for Bruce on New Years Eve whilst he collected tracking cards. I enjoyed the views over the park from the high vantage points.

A peek of the campground in the background

Te Haruhi Bay

The other little bit of news is that we are “world famous” in our own lunchtime! with an article published in the latest Motorhomes, Caravans and Destinations Magazine

Magazine cover

We promise not to let the notoriety go to our heads!

And in responses to another request, my blog posts on sourdough making are coming soon, they are really, honestly!

Christmas in the camp

December 27, 2019

Christmas Eve was busy with families setting up their campsites ready for their annual holidays with lots of excited children awaiting the arrival of the jolly man dressed in red. Meanwhile, head Ranger Bruce was literally running around trying to get all his work done which included checking the tracking tunnels. So to help him out, I drove the mule (small all terrain vehicle) as he crashed and bashed his way through the undergrowth changing the tracking tunnel cards, with me picking him up at the end of a line and taking him to the next line.

The only pictures I thought to take were at the end of the last line looking down over the bay

Te Haruhi Bay with a view of the campground peeking through on the right

It was still quite windy on Christmas Eve so the wind surfers were out in force in the bay enjoying a bit of fun

Wind surfers in action

Antony arrived in the afternoon to join us and as the evening drew in, children were in bed relatively early and all was quiet waiting for Santa to arrive.

We had a leisurely start to Christmas day with a lovely breakfast, and the leisure continued from there with a very relaxed Christmas Day for us. We played cards and games most of the day under the shade of the trees.

Me trying my hand at selfies again….

We had a little excitement in the afternoon as the water for the park came to a complete stop which meant no water for the toilets, showers or drinking. But a short time later water was back on albeit a little discoloured. However, unbeknownst to us, the main part of the park was experiencing its busiest day on record which meant that even though the toilets weren’t able to be flushed, people still utilised them….I shall leave the rest to your imagination! Poor Bruce had to deal with the resulting mess which is not the best way to end your Christmas Day.

Later that evening Bruce joined us for Christmas dinner….and I forgot to take any pictures. However, it was all delicious and went down a treat.

To finish off our day we got a lovely video call from Alex, Ian and Callum and later received some photos of their Christmas fun.

Christmas Eve at Ian’s brothers place

Top L-R: Matt helping Callum, Denny family photo, Bottom L-R: Alex with Callum and his cousins, and a bit tired at the end of the day

Top: Callum opening presents, Bottom: with Brian & Julie, on Grandad’s knee

We trust you all had a lovely Christmas, all the very best for 2020.

Seasonal salutations

December 23, 2019

Seasonal salutations to you and your families, here’s looking forward to 2020. 2019 was a good year, the highlight being the welcoming of Callum to our family and especially being there for the first 3 months of his life. We are really looking forward to heading back to the UK in April to spend more time with him and his family.

We have decorated our trees in our usual fashion…

our eco friendly, organic, natural Christmas tree aka Pohutakawa.

The van has been festooned with lights

Lights along the awning

And we are geared up for visitors with the guest accommodation set up in readiness

Guest accommodation

Antony is joining us for Christmas this year, and we will no doubt collect a few more strays along the way.

Roy had a trip to Ashburton last week to spend some time with his grandchildren there, and in usual Vannini fashion, he neglected to take a single picture!! We are getting really good at this lack of photo taking abilities between the two of us. He also managed a quick trip to Geraldine to catch up with friends Bill & Linda.

Here’s wishing you all health and happiness and a very safe festive season. Enjoy!

We’re back!

December 12, 2019

Time to head back to Shakespear for the summer and our stint as Camp Hosts. We planned to arrive in time for the volunteer Christmas party which, this year, was being held at the Navy Base here at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsular. The Navy base is also behind the Pest Proof Fence and they share common goals to keep the land predator free. There was also the enticement of a tour of some of the gun emplacements tunnels, some of which we have been in before but the opportunity to see some different tunnels as well as the naval base itself was a good enough reason for us to head down to participate.

Shakespear Park at the end of the Peninsular, the camp ground is at the far right of Te Haruhi Bay and the Naval Base is on the Northside of the Peninsular.

As you would expect, I did not take a single photo at the Christmas Party not of the base nor the tunnels, I was too busy meeting lots of other volunteers who we hadn’t met before plus catching up with lots of familiar faces. It was very interesting to hear of the work that the Navy do on their part of the sanctuary, and also great talks were given by the Rangers updating us on happenings over the past year as well as future plans for the Park. All I will say is that they all work incredibly hard protecting the flora and fauna and are all passionate about their work.

We have settled back into Camp Host mode, setting ourselves up in our usual position in the park.

Parked in the park

The view from the welcome shade of the awning

Pohutakawa starting to flower

Panoramic view

Of course all the above photos were taken in the fleeting moments that there was no one else in the camp. Keith & Deb relaxed with us for a week or so until it was time for them to carry on with their travels. And it hasn’t all been sunshine either, later during the day that they left we had torrential rain and thunderstorms.

The damp view from inside the van

We’ve had a couple of visitors already; Antony came for a visit, delivering all our mail, bringing with him is mate Andrew whom we haven’t seen in a while. The same day our long time friends Wade & Lindsay came for a visit. It’s lovely to catch up with friends and family and hear what’s happening in their lives.

I have been and had xrays on my (fractured) left hip and on my left knee as I’ve been still getting terrible pain in the hip but it turns out that is referred pain from my knee, with the hip healing nicely, but guess what the upshot of that means? Yep, the left knee is the next to be replaced, just have to plan when this will be done to fit in with our busy schedule!

We have set ourselves up comfortably in the camp and will be putting up our tent in the next few days for those visitors who wish to stay. We are taking things quietly and trying to keep away from the madness of Christmas and the need to shop for the sake of shopping.

The end of the year also means school camp, this is what it looks like when parents deliver little Johnny/Jane bringing with them everything imaginable for a two night stay

Car yard

….and when I mean everything, I mean everything, I even saw innersprung mattresses being put into tents for the darlings to sleep on!