Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Family BBQ

September 2, 2019

Our last weekend in England and we were having a family BBQ at Brian & Julie’s (Ian’s Dad’s cousin), along with the rest of Ian’s family. This was a bank holiday weekend in the UK, a long weekend with Monday being a public holiday, and the BBQ was planned for Sunday afternoon, with the weather playing a large part in the planning. We needn’t have worried though with the hottest August Bank holiday weekend on record being recorded and the days temperature set to reach at least 32C.

We arrived at Julie & Brian’s and made our way out to their lovely garden where the gazebos were set up providing much welcome shade.

Brian was manning the charcoal BBQs with Roy giving a hand. Charcoal BBQs are a rarity for us these days as most people in NZ use gas fired BBQs mainly because of fire restrictions for NZ’ers over the summer months.

Brian and Roy manning the BBQs

Comparing notes behind a smoke screen

All sorts of fun and games were had by all generations.

Grandad Barry and Callum

I forgot to take any pictures of the table set out for the main event but needless to say it was all delicious and there was plenty to eat, it was some time later in the day before we got around to having dessert and cheese.

Panoramic shot

I had said I would make a dessert and thought I should make a pavlova as my homage to all things kiwi, but decided an ordinary pav would be a bit boring so instead made a brown sugar version with dates, almonds and chocolate. Topped with fresh whipped cream and raspberries it was rather delicious. Roy put together a cheese board and even made radish mice with the radishes grown in Alex & Ian’s garden, and it too also went down a treat.

Cheese board

Dessert and cheese….yes, I forgot to take pics of the main event!

Group photo

It was a wonderful afternoon and evening with lots of fun and laughter.

Thank you to the Denny family for making us feel so welcome and part of your family. We shall miss you all, until next time x.

Visits, visitors and a birthday

August 11, 2019

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years Alex arrived back in NZ bringing with her a new friend from the UK. Jennifer (aka Beanie) had not travelled at all before these two ventured on an epic trip through SE Asia then onto NZ. They joined us at Pen-y-bryn for a bit of a respite before continuing with their travels. We even went camping with the girls, joining them for a couple of days in Central Otago before we lent them our car and tent to continue on their trip around the South Island of NZ. So it was lovely to be told that Beanie was coming to visit us this week.

Beanie and Callum

It was fantastic to hear of her news and what she is up to these days. Beanie is a chef, she and Alex met when Alex worked at the Middle House in Mayfield when Alex first arrived in the UK. Beanie now works at an all girls school in the village, where she works 5 days a week with regular hours and no split shifts, and no stress!!! It’s so lovely that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally and of course it was just lovely for us to see her again.

Roy and Ian were off to football that same evening so it was a girls dinner at home for us, and a very nice roast chicken with a pile of roast veges with a ratatouille to complete the meal. For those who are unaware, Roy doesn’t eat chicken so we take every opportunity to have our fill when he is not around!

We bade farewell to Beanie later that evening and look forward to seeing her again next time we are over.

The following day Roy and Barry (Ian’s Dad) went off to the Docklands Museum for a visit for which Roy assures me that he will write up a blog ….one of these days!! Meanwhile, Alex and I took ourselves off to Melucci’s in Bexley for lunch.

We both have double chins? Oh, I thought you said double gins!!!

Anyone for cake?

We had a lovely lunch, so much so that Roy & I are off there next week for dinner. Alex Callum & I had to sit in the cafe for a while after lunch as the heavens opened and it just poured with rain, and as we were catching the bus home, we didn’t fancy standing out in the rain getting soaked particularly as it is such a narrow road the gap between the shops, footpath, and road are all within a few feet of each other and there was a small river of water running down the road for the vehicles to go through and soak us even more. The rain soon passed and we were on our way. Even though Bexley is just a few short miles from home, we were surprised to get home to find that there was no evidence of any rain and the washing was dry on the line as well.

Later in the week Roy and I were meeting up with cousin Jackie & her husband Hossein in London for lunch as they were coming down from Milton Keynes for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. Funnily enough it took us just as long to get into town from Erith as it did for them coming from Milton Keynes. We met at the OXO tower as we had a booking for lunch.

Oxo tower

The view over the Thames

Roy, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Hossein

Fish sandwich for the girls and Pasta with mushrooms and hazenuts for the boys

After a lovely long lunch we bade our farewells before going on our separate journeys, our initial destination was the Borough Market for a quick visit.

Paella Paella Paella

Fish selection, and yes we did buy a gurnard

Friday also happened to be Alex’s birthday, so it was straight home to get dinner sorted for everyone. Fortunately I had done lots of prep the day before so there wasn’t much to do.

Birthday dinner L-R Alex, Ian Roy, Bernice, Vicki, Jen

Elaine getting in her cuddles

Birthday cake – dairy free!!

This was not the end of the celebrations though, the following night we went out for a family dinner in Bexleyheath with Ian’s family. We had a lovely dinner and it was great to catch up with everyone as well. Unfortunately I neglected to take any pictures, we were all far too busy talking and eating however I am sure that there will be another opportunity for a group photo soon.

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.

The good news

December 10, 2018

We have both been back to our respective surgeons this past week, actually on the same day but on the opposite sides of Auckland. Roy headed off to Ascot Hospital Greenlane in the morning for his post op check up, which went well, his PSA levels are almost zero and everything else is healing fine.

My appointment was at Southern Cross Hospital in Wairau Road, and Keith came to the rescue and did his best “Driving Miss Daisy” impression and we were there in no time. I also got a good review, the allergic reaction has settled, the wound is healing nicely, so well in fact that instead of seeing the surgeon in a couple of weeks time for the post op X-rays and checkup, we have delayed it until next year as we both felt that it would be a better time frame and considering I am doing so well, there was no point in an early appointment.

But prior to our appointments we were spectators to an amazing thunder and lightning storm which also brought with it torrential rain.

the view from the door during the deluge.

The thunder and lightning was directly overhead, the noise was intense and I must admit I was a little concerned. What we didn’t find out until later in the day was that three sheep, up on the hill not 150metres from the van, were struck by lightning and killed.

The storm was over in a few short hours and was all clear by the time we needed to get away to our appointments.

The view from the door just a few hours after the storm departed. amazing really that the water was already disappearing from sight.

The following day was departure day for Keith & Debbie, we have been travelling together for the past few months and have enjoyed having their company and at various times assistance with bits and pieces especially as both Roy and I have been on light duties post surgeries. We’ve shared a few laughs, in fact a lot of laughs, and of course we have enjoyed the fishing exploits. We will meet up again next year when the freezers need filling up again with lots of lovely fresh fish.

So life for us is back to camp hosting duties, which is already proving to be interesting,, what with a terrible booking system to contend with from an end user perspective, tourists who cannot book in for whatever reason, the odd partying underage campers to deal with, campers arriving late and being noisy without regard for others and campers who arrive without essential items and come looking for assistance.

All in a days work.

Blue sky days

October 7, 2018

We have had an incredible run of beautiful blue sky days, with not a cloud in sight. The shorts and t shirts are well and truly being worn everyday and the sunscreen is being slapped on as well as a hat. And what better way to spend these stunning days than on the beach, oh, and whilst we are there we might as well have a fish.

Getting ready to fly out the baited hooks.

The following video shows what happens next.

The drone releases the line once it’s out as far as we choose it to go and then it magically returns to the beach and lands exactly where it takes off from. It’s a clever drone made here in New Zealand specifically for fishing. It has inbuilt safety mechanisms that will automatically ditch the line and return it to base if it detects that its battery is running low.

Once the line is set out, we usually wait anything for 45 minutes to an hour before bringing in the line. However, on this occasion, the line was only out for 3 minutes when the rod starting dancing. It was obvious that there was something rather large on the line. After much speculation of what it was….stingray, eel, very big snapper, and with the line continually being dragged out after just 15 minutes we decided to bring it all back in. Now the reel is also electric so doesn’t require but winding in but in this case the line was not coming in at all.

There is a fair amount of pull on that line. Not wanting to lose any gear, Keith started the slow process of getting in all in. Whatever it was, it was sure putting up a good fight, perhaps we had caught a taniwha (that means monster for you overseas readers). The line came in slowly when it was just over half way in, all of a sudden whatever it was gave up the fight and the line started coming in a little easier. However, once all in, there were only a couple of snapper on the hooks, but what’s this? A broken hook and one trace tied up into so many knots it’s not funny, whatever it was that was on the line was obviously very grumpy at being caught and made a bit of a mess of the line. Oh well, can’t complain I guess, we will go out again in the morning.

just hanging around in the sun waiting for the fish to come in. This beach has incredibly fine white silica sand tat squeaks when you walk on it.

and here they come, five or six in this set, I can’t remember!!

I’ve decided I am like the proverbial ‘banana on the boat’ jinx as the guys seem to do so much better when I am not with them, so later that day the boys went out for another fish at dusk. After such stunningly beautiful days it does cool down rather quickly in the early evenings so I am happy to stay nice and warm in the van doing my knitting!

Roy and I are heading to Auckland for a few days and we would like to be able to take some fresh fish with us for family and friends. We shall be back in a few days though so whilst we are away Keith & Deb can practise their fishing and relaxation skills ……and do something to quieten down Roger the Rooster!

Always take the weather with you

July 16, 2018

How do you know that the Vannini’s are back at Shakespear? Look at the weather!

Our view went from this

To this

It seems as though we bring extreme weather events with us to Shakespear having been here before when the rainfall has been excessive. This time the planned public planting day had to be cancelled for the first time ever. The planting of trees was to have taken place on Sunday, in fact the area chosen to be planted was around a major slip that occurred last year to stabilise the hillside. That slip took place when we were again parked in the Motorhome parking area last year which you can read about here

Never mind, it all passed pretty quickly and we were safe and dry inside the van.

We did manage to catch up with a few of the Rangers whilst we were here as well as friends whom we have met here. We visited Skip & Mindy for a very pleasant day catching up on news and travels. And we hope we have managed to assist their daughter to convince them to head off on holiday to Europe with her later this year.

and this was our view on the way out today

Feilding

March 8, 2016

We are becoming used to changing our plans, in fact, it’s getting to the stage that we should not even bother to make plans. We arrived in Feilding Monday afternoon and found Timona Park, a huge complex of large open spaces, rugby fields, soccer/football pitches, athletics tracks, pony club fields and much more all surrounded by a network of roads with large parking areas for self contained motorhomes around the edges with a river on the boundary.

  Parked up in amongst the trees
The plan was to stay the night and then head off Tuesday morning to meet up with Pat & Sue in Alfredton where we would stay for a night or two before heading down toward Masterton for the Wairarapa Harvest Wine Festival this weekend.  Well, you know what is coming don’t you? Yep, plans changed again!  We woke on Tuesday morning to gale force winds rocking us around and on checking with Pat & Sue they too had terrible winds which is not conducive weather for travelling.  

  
So we stay anther night here at Timona Park and…..dare I say it?…..plan to move on tomorrow, but this time to a park just out of Masterton, close to where the Wine festival is being held.  Meanwhile we have a good look around Fielding as its been a very long time since we have been through here and I must say it is a very tidy prosperous looking small town.  

So let’s hope this wind abates and we can get back on track.