Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

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.

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.

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!

Family are friends

July 29, 2019

There is an old saying that goes something like ‘you can choose your friends but not your family’ which has some negative connotations about family relationships and all that goes with that. However, we have yet again experienced the absolute opposite of all those implied connotations when we went to stay with Jackie & Hossein in Milton Keynes. To put our relationship into context, Jackie’s Great grandmother and my Grandmother Alice are the one and the same incredibly strong, amazing, formidable woman who gave birth to 19 children. We are in awe of Alice’s energy and fortitude as we piece together more and more information about our genealogy and in particular Alices story.

But back to our visit to Milton Keynes. We were met at the train station by Hossein and Jackie on a very hot day and were whisked away to have lunch at a local community charity facility where we had a very nice relaxing lunch.

Lunch in the garden, Willen.

From there we went to a local park where we went for a walk around the park grounds. We were surprised to find a Japanese Pagoda in the middle of the park.

Peace Pagoda

Further along we came across a Japanese Pagoda. Why the Japanese connection you may ask?

Japanese Temple

A peace pagoda is a Buddhist monument built as a symbol of world peace and is meant to promote unity among all the peoples of the world regardless of race, creed, or border. Peace pagodas have been built all across Asia, often in places that seem to need the most healing such as the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where American atomic bombs took the lives of more than 150,000 people at the end of World War II. There are now more than 80 peace pagodas across Europe, Asia, and the United States, but the first of the Western temples was built in the town of Milton Keynes in England.

From here we walked to the nearby Tree cathedral, a lovely leafy avenue of trees with its cathedral shape becoming more evident from an aerial view.

Centre of the tree cathedral

Aerial view borrowed from the park trust web site

Margherita’s for the ladies

Cheers boys!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai for dinner made by Hossein

Unfortunately Roy had come away with a bit of a dodgy tummy so it was an early night for him, without any dinner!

The next morning Jackie and I headed off early so I could get a haircut before returning for a late breakfast with the boys. Roy was still not feeling well and Hossein had a few things to do so Jackie and I went out for a look around and also to visit a couple of shops. I have to add here that we have been quite taken with Milton Keynes, I like the layout, the trees and green spaces laid out in grid patterns and the of lack high rise buildings.

A couple of purchases may have been made

A few tea bags may be coming back to NZ with me!!!

An ice cream at IKEA, and no, it was not the only purchase made there

The other good reason for heading to the shops was to be in air conditioned comfort, with England experiencing its hottest July days on record, it was pleasant to be in air conditioned surrounds.

The Grand Union Canal Milton Keynes

Jackie and I visited the Grand Union Canal for a look around.

Another return to their home where dinner this evening was to be an Iranian meal of a Celery Lamb stew ( Khoresht-e-Karafs) followed by Sholesh zard, a fragrant and very light rice pudding.

Sholeh Zard

The temperatures did not abate with Thursday bringing with it record temperatures hitting 40C at some stage during the day, debilitating, oppressive heat with no escape from it. Roy, Jackie and I were heading out to go visit Jackie’s mum Hilda, my cousin, via a little village called Earls Barton where we were going to visit a little museum called the Jeyes museum, yes dedicated to the pharmacy renown for Jeyes Fluid.

Roy perusing the exhibits

I have to add that this museum was upstairs in rooms that were quite small, and with record temperatures it was a very hot experience.

But not only was the museum dedicated to all things pharmacy, one section was dedicated to the business Divine Shoes, made famous by the film and stage show Kinky Boots. The original factory was in this village and one part of the museum was dedicated to the boot manufacturer.

Your size?

These boots were made for walking!

We were back to the car ready to continue our journey in air conditioned comfort when we got the message that Ken & Hilda had decided to visit us. So we turned around and returned to their home, calling in on this property further along their road.

Chichely Hall

As an aside, this property was used as the film location of the movie Enigma, which as a coincidence when Roy & I owned Pen-y-Bryn Lodge in Oamaru, we hosted two of the stars from this movie, namely Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows.

We were soon back at the house and hadn’t been home long before Ken & Hilda arrived for an afternoon of reminiscing, memories and catching up on their news.

Family

L-R: Ken, Bernice, Roy, Hilda, Jackie and Hossein.

After a lovely afternoon it was soon time for Ken & Hilda to return home and time for another wonderful meal courtesy of Hossein.

Pulled Lamb with coleslaw and wraps.

The following day it was time for us to return to London, another trusty train ride to London Euston, then to the tube for London Bridge and then the train to Erith.

Waiting for us was this wee man

The Thinker!!

Oh, and his parents too 😉.

A lovely time spent with family in and around Milton Keynes. Many many thanks to Jackie & Hossein for making us feel like we were at home with friends where we could relax with them. We look forward to the next time we meet up which will hopefully be soon.

Back to Shakespear

November 17, 2018

We arrived late Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we were set up fairly quickly and just as well because no sooner had we finished when the skies opened and the rained poured down. But not before I managed to take a picture of us all set up.

It’s lovely to be back although it sounds as though we could be in for an interesting summer as the booking system has been completely changed. Before it was just plain terrible, now it’s diabolical! It has obviously been set up by someone who has a) never made a booking before, for anything….and b) has never been on the working end of a booking system especially from the end user perspective. It should not be so difficult or convoluted, in fact it should be very simple. We have complained about the previous system for years (along with just about every end user) and now somehow they have managed to make it even worse. I bet someone was paid a lot of money to make it such a shambles. Getting off soap box now.

This last week was a week of appointments and checkups, culminating with me (Bernice) having one of my knees replaced on Monday the 19th. Interesting wee aside though, as part of the pre Op checks and tests, I was measured and guess what? Since I had my hip replaced I am exactly one whole centimetre taller!!! Every little bit helps.

The surgery and subsequent recovery is not something I am particularly looking forward to but I am looking forward to one day being pain free and much more mobile.

Since we have been back here at Shakespear though we have been amazed at the proliferation of bird life, we have some saddlebacks here in the campground with two new chicks that are making their presence heard and kiwi can be heard most nights. In fact tonight I could have sworn that the kiwi was just outside the door it sounded so close. I went out looking with my red torchlight (red so it doesn’t hurt their eyes) but I could not see it anywhere. The Tuis are amazing not just for their call but also their flying antics. I watched them chase away a mynah and a magpie yesterday. The pukekos are everywhere, there are robins and fantails and yellow heads and whiteheads and we have a thrush that seems to particularly like us as well.

All the hard work that the rangers and volunteers put in are really paying off with the bush line extending every year, it really is a huge asset for Auckland along with the other regional parks.

Visitors

January 28, 2016

A number of  friends and family have visited us since we have been at Shakespear, and it’s lovely to see them all.  Roy’s eldest son Simon and wife Anita came visiting one Sunday afternoon after Simons commitments with Auckland tennis were over (he’s the chair of Auckland tennis).  It was lovely to see them and catch up with their news and their busy lives.

Bernice’s brother Steve and wife Leslie have been to stay for the past few weekends, they have put up their tent behind our  van, which means that they can pop up after work on a Friday and leave Sunday afternoon as it is only a 30 minute drive from their home.  We have had lots of fun and laughter which is usual when we get together, Steve has also brought up his boat so that he and Roy can go out fishing.  The past two weekends they have also had one of their grandchildren with them.  First there was Ben, eldest son of their daughter Sarah.  Ben is 8, we had a great weekend with him keeping us well on our toes.  He really enjoyed getting up on Sunday morning to go with Uncle Roy on his walk along the beach collecting bags of rubbish and treasures along the way.  He also enjoyed getting up on top of the van to check out the view from up on high. 

   
And yes, the grass has grown around the van, note the length of the grass around the wheels!

The next weekend, Steve and Les were accompanied by their granddaughter Bea who has just celebrated her 3rd birthday.  We had a fun weekend with her, and on that particular day Sarah came up with her three boys to join in the fun for a day which included a water slide put up by some of the campers.  Ben and Finn braved the slide by themselves whilst Asher decided it was not for him as he had already had a bit of a mishap (more on that shortly),  Aunty Bernice was the only one brave enough to take Bea for a ride down the slide and I can tell you it was mighty scary!! 

 That’s Bernice and Bea flying down the slide!

Earlier that day the boys had gone off to explore the park, which included a climb up a very popular, but very steep hill.  It all went went until it came time for the descent with Ash first sliding then tumbling head over heels down the steep incline.  This is the result – warning: nudity involved in the following picture. 

 7 year old Asher’s scars!

Yesterday’s weather forecast was not looking too good with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast, however, the day did not look too bad so Sarah and the boys decided to heck with the forecast and came up for the day.  It turned out to be a real scorcher of a day for us even if the rest of Auckland was receiving a deluge.  Most of the day was spent in the sea swimming, but we did manage to get out of the water long enough for the boys to complete their Junior Ranger Badges.  

 Aunty Bernice marking the booklets, with from front clockwise Ollie (Ben’s friend), Ben, Ash (obscured) and Finn.

PS.  We have mowed the lawns so everything looks tidy.  We had to take the van down to Silverdale to fill up with LPG as our tank is an inbuilt one, so whilst we had to move the van, we took the opportunity to mow the grass.  That should see us right until we leave here at the beginning of March.

Pool update

December 29, 2015

The fun police have been at work….we have had to remove the pool as even though it’s covered and fenced from anyone getting in with our windbreaks, someone complained to higher authorities that we had a non regulation fence and pool and a child may drown if they happen to managed to get in.  Hmmm, we are right next to the beach, and surrounded by farm with water troughs.  Enough said.  Pool emptied and dismantled and put away.  

Straight to the pool room

December 21, 2015

For some time now I have joked with the Rangers here at Shakespear that I was going to get myself a pool, install it at the back of our van in our  private bay in the park.  Just something smallish, nothing too elaborate so that when I come back from swimming at the beach, I can then chill out in freshwater!   Well, no more joking.   Today, Santa came early and delivered a nice pool……well, OK, I went to the shop and bought it myself.    

   Laying it out ready to fill.

First we had to blow up the outer rim of the pool, to do  this we used our small compressor which is charged from the car battery, of course we had left our other compressor that we use to inflate the air bed at Antony’s place.    It was taking ages to fill and the compressor was getting rather hot, so I resorted to giving it mouth to mouth!

  Time to fill with water
This necessitated  running a hose from the tap, actually we had to join a number of hoses together to reach, then it was the long wait to fill.  The pool is 10ft diameter and 30inches deep…3.05m by 760cm for those of you who work in metres, it took a while to fill.

  Nearly there.

The pool came complete with filtration system and pump so it should be good for the summer. 

  

And to make sure it is safe, we also have a cover and as well we have put up our wind breaks at either end of the van so that it is not visible to curious youngsters!  Besides, it really is a reservoir for emergency purposes isn’t it?
 

It’s that time of year

December 16, 2015

You know the signs when summer is really here; the hot sunny days,  the grass browns off, the pohutakawas are flowering….and………

   the BBQ comes out of storage, gets cleaned and reassembled!

We spent a couple of days at Antony’s earlier this week as Roy had an early morning dentist appointment in Manurewa so instead of getting up at a silly hour and fighting the Auckland early morning traffic from over the other side of the bridge, we took ourselves off to stay with Ants for a night.  The BBQ had not been reassembled since Antony had moved earlier in the year, it was time to give it a good clean and put it together.  

  Father/son bonding!!!

 It didn’t take them too long before it was all back together and fired up for its first use of the summer.  Oh, and the dead grass on the brick work is my effort with the weed killer from a couple of weeks ago – it worked!