Archive for the ‘whakatane’ Category

Friends and family

April 17, 2019

It’s not often that I get together with more than one sibling at a time but last week we managed to meet up with two of my brothers.

Steve & Les were staying with John & Jude for a couple of nights so we went in to join them one day.

We all went into Whakatane to get a few things for dinner that evening, but first we had to check out a couple of bike shops as Leslie was getting a new e-bike. Once we had viewed and checked out what was on offer, it was lunch time.

John and Steve waiting for lunch to be delivered. Note, we were sitting outside in glorious sunshine but within 10minutes we were running for cover as the heavens opened, and thunder and lightening crackled and crashed overhead. Then another 10 minutes later we were back in sunshine.

It was then back to the shop of choice for Leslie to have a test ride,

whizzing along

Back to John’s place where Steve had volunteered to cook up a seafood paella or two for our dinner using not only a paella pan that John & Jude brought back from Spain last year, but also some paella seasoning.

Steve with two pans of paella on the go. Seafood paella which included prawns, shrimps, mussels, squid, and scallops.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished dishes, but I can assure you they looked as good as they tasted. And it was very good too, in fact both John and I reckoned that it was much better than the paella’s we had tried in Spain!!!

sitting in the lounge relaxing after dinner.

Roy and I headed up to Tauranga and the Mount for a day of visiting. First was to see niece Jenna and her new arrival, baby Ashlyn.

getting a few cuddles in.

From there it was over to Mount Maunganui where we were meeting up with one of our ex staff members Margaret and her daughter Suzy along with a few of their friends.

Margaret and I deep in conversation (I think I was sorting out her tablet issues for her).

Roy and Ian solving the worlds problems.

Please note the venue though, the house is right on the beachfront and it was a glorious day to sit out on the deck.

Lunchtime, conversation and company, a lovely afternoon.

But we did note some strange creature in the sand dunes in front of the house…..we presume that they were making a film.

the making of a movie?

We had another call to make to Roy’s friends Bill & Estelle who moved to Papamoa from Auckland a couple of years ago. We caught up with them over a cuppa before heading back to Matata.

parked up in the sunshine at Matata, our last day here before moving on. The weather has been very kind to us for our two week stay and with Easter very nearly upon us, it usually heralds a change in the weather. Let’s hope we still get plenty of sunshine before we head to the northern hemisphere.



June 1, 2015

After our allowed two nights at Anzac Bay we headed to Tauranga for a couple of nights mainly to restock the larder, fill up with fuel and get a couple of chores done before heading down the coast to Matata and the lovely DoC camp there.  Whilst at Matata  we had a couple of goes of trying to get the kite up for some fishing off the beach, however, either the wind was too strong, in the wrong direction or not strong enough.  Talk about frustrating!   We tried!

From Matata it is just a short jaunt down the highway to John’s place, here we are for the next week or two whilst John & Jude are away.  Again, it is a good opportunity to get lots of chores done whilst we have access to everything we could possibly need.  

The weather forecast was for and calm conditions so John suggested we head off early (relatively speaking) on Thursday morning for a mornings fishing.  We were up in time to get the boat ready and on our way by 8am, and boy was it chilly with a good frost on the ground.  We were rugged up in our best warm gear; hats, gloves, scarves, possum/merino jackets, with a lot of it having not seen the light of day for a good couple of years. Oh and not forgetting Roy and his Waikato socks. These socks are renown amongst some of our friends as the indicator that it is becoming definitely chilly.   It’s a bit like that ad we used to get on TV many years ago for something that I cannot  now remember (I think it may have been an antiseptic or sticking plasters?) but the ad was of a small blond headed boy playing rugby with the catch line of “oh no, Snow cops it again”, when that ad appeared on our screens we knew that it was winter time.  Well, when Roy wears his Waikato socks, we know it’s winter! 

 Roy geared up with his Waikato socks on.

And not to be outdone, John was wearing his lucky bright orange fishing hat and Jude had kindly lent me her lucky bright yellow fluoro hat….hmmmm, not too sure about the look – or the luck in my case!


 I think we have become accustomed to the warmer climes especially during the winter months, I mean, these days if we have a temperature getting down into single figures we think we are frozen!  It was not so long ago that we used to get excited when the winter temperature got out of single figures! How quickly we adapt.  Anyway, back to the fishing.

We headed off over the Whakatane bar for a favourite fishing spot just down the coast.

  A lovely day for fishing

It wasn’t long before a few fish were being landed, however, many of them were sent back to go tell their granddad to jump on our lines.  But it wasn’t too long before we had enough for dinner so it was time to head back to land.  

We ended up with a reasonable mornings catch… 

 One Kahawai, two trevally, three snapper and seven gurnard.

Next came the filleting lessons. 

  Roy and John at the filleting table with the cat and dog waiting expectantly for some tasty morsels

Chum, the dog, just loves the snapper skins.  It’s no wonder he has such a lovely glossy coat and is full of energy.  Filleting lessons complete, it was time to clean up the boat before storing it away, tidy up around the filleting table before we could enjoy some of our catch.  The Kahawai was smoked and make into pâtè to have with drinks the next day, but tonight we were to have the trevally as sashimi  


For dinner we had snapper and gurnard fillets with enough gurnard left for dinner the next day.  Fresh fish is just the best and we throughly enjoyed every morsel. Now we just have to wait for the next expedition!


March 23, 2015

Whilst we have been here in Whakatane we have managed to get lots of little, and not so little, jobs done.  The sealing around all the lockers, windows and joins on the van with the sticky black Simsons Sealer product is finally finished.  Don’t  ask me why but for some reason the black stuff seems to get everywhere and onto everything but the white product doesn’t! I think they call it something like ‘Sod’s Law’.  There was also an attempt to straighten the road sweeper that is attached to the back of the van. after an altercation with an inanimate object some time ago. It has been a little lower on one side but attempts to jack it up were not terribly successful but a good effort was made.  Lots of other little jobs have been completed, silly little things like reattaching the wire to the waste cap so it cannot be left behind anywhere, and fixing locker latches etc.  I even broke out the sewing machine to make some slip covers for the chairs, oh and not forgetting getting major things done like the upholstery.  All in all a very good couple of weeks well spent.  

In the middle of our time in Whakatane there was of course Cyclone Pam.  The storm had devastating effects on islands such as Vanuatu, so we were preparing ourselves for strong winds and torrential rain. We moved off the grass onto hard ground and made sure we were protected as much as possible from potential high winds, filled the water tanks and made sure everything was battened down.  However, it turned into more of a storm in a tea cup than a major storm and certainly nothing like what we experienced last year at Whanaknaki.  Yes the sea was very rough with an impressive large swell running and the bar entrance into Whakatane was closed for some time but we really didn’t have any strong winds or the lashings of rain – thank goodness.

A day or so after the storms passing we headed off to Opotiki with John, first stopping off at Jude’s place in Waiotahi to make sure all was well there.  Then it was off to the Two Fish Cafe in Opotiki for brunch.  Now it is not often that I can highly recommend somewhere for a really good coffee but the Two Fish Cafe serves probably one of the best coffees in NZ, certainly in the top three in any case.  Not only was the coffee fabulous but the food was great as well.  We loved the quirky style of this cafe, and if you are ever heading toward Opotiki, call in for a real treat, you’ll not be disappointed.

After two and a half weeks of being in Whakatane it was time to move on.  Thursday morning and we were all packed up and ready to go at a reasonable hour, just hook up the RAV and check the lights.  Bugger, the lights aren’t working, so after some fiddling, spraying contacts, attacking things with screwdrivers, we headed off into Whakatane to the auto electrician so they could check it all out for us.  But wouldn’t you know it? as soon as we got there, everything worked just fine!  But to make sure, we got them to check everything out, lo and behold, there was a problem…..insert here techno babble for whatever was wrong, something about a wire with low, or was that high? resistance, switches and relays …… The park lights were very dull.  Not that that is necessarily a problem as we try to avoid driving at night at all times,  but best to sort it out now.  After much testing and removal of one of the dash panels, they finally find the fault.  The park lights were wired up to the dashboard dimmer switch!  How had we not found that out before now?  Anyway, wires were cut, rejoined in the right place and after a couple of hours we were on our way.  And we must praise here the business involved – Langleys Auto Electrical – as all that was done for next to nothing with no waiting around and they were very pleasant to deal with.

  Dashboard dismantled.

We finally headed out of Whakatane to Tauranga where we spent a night there before heading on to Kopu (near Thames)  for a couple of nights as the van is booked in on Monday for a repair/replacement hydraulic stabiliser jack to be made as well as getting a new seal ordered for around the slide out.  The Electrical WoF will also be done whilst we are here.

Finally, many many thanks to John and Jude for the lovely goodies they gave us, particularly as it was so unexpected.  We look forward to enjoying all the lovely drinks (so pleased we introduced them to Pedro Ximinez), chocolates, Al Brown Oils and dressings that were all packaged up so neatly in a flax kit bag – which John tells me is one from the fishing shop in Scarborough where Dad used to buy all his gear from.   We are more than happy to return for more house sitting duties when required!

Getting covered

March 16, 2015

We thought it was about time, time to get covered or should that be recovered.  Our two front seats i.e. the drivers seat and passengers seat had started to become rather worn and were starting to look a little worse for wear.  So whilst being parked up at John & Jude’s we took the opportunity to have them recovered with the most difficult task choosing the  material and agreeing upon our choice!  

First we had to remove the seats from the van.

Roy was on his knees, then…

Flat out on the floor.

Off the chairs were taken to the upholsterer here in Whakatane and after a week, we headed off to pick them up and reinstall them.  

Here are the before and after shots

As you can see,  a marked improvement on the old coverings.  

We have also done away with the skirt around the base of the chairs, as they did not really serve any purpose and looked messy.  Now they are much neater and streamlined.  

Whilst the chairs were out of the van I took the opportunity to upholster the lift up desk in the dashboard.  I had a piece of material left over from the seat in the lounge which I also used previously to cover the headboard, which you can read about  here.  And hour or so later and it is looking much better.

I can’t lay my hands on a before photo but there is one here from when we first had the work done on the inside of the van.  NB that the inside out looking piece of material is the glove box insert.  When the desk top is folded down then the original hard glovebox would not allow the top to close, so I made a cloth one in its place.

All in all a nice tidy up. 

Cooking up a storm

March 13, 2015

John & Jude returned from their trip to Melbourne last Saturday, only to head off again on Wednesday for a fishing competition off Whitianga which means we are still here in Whakatane minding the ranch.  Not that we mind as wehave not been completely idle, we have been cooking up a storm.  By that, I don’t mean that it has anything to do with the impending arrival of Cyclone Pam, just that we have been busy in the kitchen.

Myrtle, Mabel and Mildred(the hens) have kept us well supplied with fresh eggs every day.  I used some of the eggs to add to the Passionfruit proliferation by making some Passionfruit Curd as well as some Passionfruit Syllabub.  The hens give us one egg each a day but on one particular day, one of them obviously decided to give us an egg the size of the other two together!!

We are unsure which of the hens is responsible for this monster, but it was a double yolker.   Roy has also been busy in the kitchen,  both inside and out.  John has a cold smoking unit as well as a large hot smoker, but it is the cold smoker in which we have put to good use.  First there was the making of some pastrami,  giving it a burst in the cold smoker before steaming it.

He also made a batch of bacon, also using the cold smoker – oh and of course John’s electric slicer to neatly slice it all up.  We then packaged it all up into portion sizes and vacuum packed it ready to stack neatly into our small freezer. I neglected to take any photos of this process.  Howeve we did buy ourselves a new vacuum sealer as our other one had decided to die on us.  The vacuum sealer is very handy for us in the van as we can repackage everything that goes into the freezer into portion sizes as well as being able to efficiently stack much more into the small space.  Not to mention being able to seal up smelly fish bait!

Another day and we decide it’s time to make some fresh pasta.  I had purchased a new Pasta machine last year but the other day I finally found a pasta drying rack which pulls apart and packs away neatly into a small box thus not taking up too much room. Now there is no excuse to making fresh pasta.  It hardly took any time at all before we had beautiful silky pasta for our dinner.  With a simple sauce of lemon, oil garlic and rocket, it was a delicious, light and quick evening meal.  

And then there was a batch of mint sauce to make (with mint jelly on the to-do list), this did not take more than half an hour to make which included sterilising the bottles and lids as well as making the sauce, with the longest time spent of chopping the mint.  Now we have plenty of mint sauce to accompany the traditional roast lamb.

Pickles and relishes are also on the to-do list but these will be done once we are back through Auckland so that we can go to our favourite market gardens in Manukau to pick the produce required.  Watch this space!

PS.   it’s our wedding anniversary today – 33 years, and yes, I was a child bride 😉


March 3, 2015

fruit!  John has a very prolific Passionfruit vine so it only seems right that I do something with them. First of all I froze a heap of the pulp in ice cube trays for later use.

And another large lot was processed into syrup and bottled

Another lot has been made into Passionfruit Gelato.  

And yes John, your freezer and pantry has its fair share of the spoils.  I am now passionfruited out!  


The things we do

May 30, 2013

All day, everyday, there is always something that needs to be done whether it be chores, tasks that need attention or just do the things we like doing. All of the aforementioned seem to be on our to-do list of late. One wet day, we decided it was time to clean the roof vents, as ours have covers over them to enable us to keep them open in all weathers, the cleaning of them meant a large scale operation from the inside of the van. First remove fly screens, but to do this you have to remove the outer vent casing, then remove the fly screens. The taller member of the touring party ‘volunteered’ to reach up to clean the vent cover and surroundings, whilst the other member was left scrubbing the removable parts. Who would have thought that doing such a simple thing would make such a difference by letting in more light! Oops, that means we must do it more often.

That led onto the decision to spray the van for spiders as we seem to collect a reasonable number of the little devils. Suitable spider spray was purchased and the inside of the van has been dealt to. The outside is next on the agenda before we tackle the cleaning and polishing of the van.

Another day and time to spend some time in the kitchen; beetroot has been bottled, feijoas have been bottled in a delicious vanilla citrus syrup ( feijoa chutney in reserve from last year). And a day spent baking, filling the tins with date & walnut loaves, gingernuts, chocolate chips & almond cookies, feijoa lime muffins and today will be a rhubarb & ginger upside down cake perfect for dessert tonight.

Roy spent a day cleaning and tidying out cupboards and storage containers. “What was that you found?” “Oh, is THAT where that is.” Were familiar catch cries all day. Lots of treasures were found and the labeler got a workout, especially labeling all those pesky cords and charging devices.

Another day and its haircut day, Bernice headed into Whakatane for a haircut, whilst Roy allowed Bernice to attack his hair with the clippers….no, not a number one, but a good trim!

A wet day and we collect fresh water from the awning. We do this by lowering one end of awning to allow the water to run off one end and collect in buckets, however for sometime now we have been pondering the best way of getting water directly into our tank. So another trip into Whakatane and the purchase of a 12v bilge pump along with the connectors required. Call in on John on our way back to Matata to avail of his shed and services to join together leads/wires. At this stage I am told to go off and make myself scarce and leave the blokes to do their thing…what? You don’t want my helpful advise? Sheeeesh. Back to the van to try it out, however once the hose is attached to our water inlet, the pump struggles to push the water in. A bit more investigation is required and we finally figure out that the water inlet into our tank enters at the base of the tank therefore the pump is pushing against the large volume of water already in the tank. More simple mods will be made over the next day or two and fresh water will soon flow into the top of the tank.

My next project is to make a headboard for the bed. Our window frames are metal, therefore they get very cold and sometimes attract condensation . We have a window at the head of our bed which has a good thermal/blackout blind inside the frame, however, a bit of a gap between our pillows and the window frame would be good idea. Off to the recyclers where I found a suitable headboard, just a small modification to make it fit i.e. cut off the legs is all that is required. Oh, but I have some material that would be perfect to cover it, next I just need a bit of foam to act as padding, cover it, and voila, a stunning headboard will be made (photo evidence will be provided once completed).

So there you are, we keep ourselves busy. In between there seems to be time for fishing, entertaining, playing cards and of course the odd bit of knitting (hats and gloves now under way), as well as exploring the region we are in.

Part two

April 24, 2013

Next morning, after one last swim, we all made our way to John’s home in Whakatane to continue the celebrations with morning tea and the cutting of the cake which was made by Amy & Rebekka.


The following are a few photos of the morning tea….

131 132 133 141 142144

      Eldest & youngest – Mike & Hilary cut the cake                      

147 149

Shaun & Asher                             Leslie & Finn

150   156

Amy, Jason, Stuart, Bernice, Antony    Greer, Sue & Jeff

158   162

Natalie (& bump) enjoying cake!    Antony, Sarah & Caleb


The six siblings lined up for photo opportunities before we all headed off in different directions.


Back L-R  Steve John Mike

Front L-R Sue Bernice Hilary

But we got our own back on being the photographed….here are the photographers


L-R Leslie, Stuart, Jeff, Antony, Roy, Jason, Sarah, Natalie, Rebekka

Slowly but surely, everyone gradually left leaving just Roy & Bernice and Mike, Natalie & Stuart at John’s. A lovely weekend and a great chance to meet up,  with only a handful of people unable to attend.  Thanx all for coming, till next time.

Gathering of the clan part one

April 24, 2013

This last weekend was a gathering of the Coatham Family as it was 50 years since we arrived in New Zealand emigrating from England.  Our journey was of course by ship, the P&O liner Oronsay, from Tilbury Docks London, via the Suez canal to arrive in Auckland on 22 April 1963.


This is how we were in 1963! 

Back L-R Mike, Sue

Front L-R John, Bernice, Hilary, Steve

Check out today…..


Back L-R Steve, John, Mike

Front L-R Sue, Bernice, Hilary

Not much change really after 50 years.

Family started arriving on Friday.  Roy & Bernice arrived at Awakeri Hot Springs to find that Mike Natalie & Stuart were already awaiting our arrival with Sue Jeff Jason and the twins arriving shortly thereafter. Steve & Les along with Fran and Clive were staying just down the road on Friday night but all turned up on Saturday morning.  Sarah Shaun and their boys arrived and of course John & Julie were not far away.  Hilary was next to arrive with Rebekka & Amy. Antony was the last one to arrive later in the evening.    

 55   59 

Stuart Mike John & Jeff                    Clive Leslie & Sue

Some of us had been for a swim on the Friday evening, oh what bliss, before too long on Saturday the pool was invaded by a good number of family members. 

 65 67 

Lots of children with adults             Leslie organising the bald ones

Of course food takes a major part in any gathering and lunch was put together before an afternoon of lots of chat with swapping of stories, photos and general catching up.  Some of the cousins (second, once removed, never sure which is which!!)  had never met before so it was a good opportunity to build relationships.

 74    80

 81  84

We were fortunate with the weather with just a few odd light showers falling, unlike some parts of the country which were being flooded. We had planned to use the facilities of the venue for our evening gathering however, another group was in residence so plan B was put into place.  We put our large outdoor mat in front of the van (we were parked under a huge oak tree which gave us some shelter from the rain) and John had a large pagoda under which tables were set up.


The decades in Coke! Oops..1983 went missing but an off course substitute was soon found.

127A toast was made to Hilda & Burnie (Mum & Dad) for bringing us all to NZ.  Let the celebrations begin!  A great repast was laid out for all with everyone contributing to a lovely evening of excellent food, drink & convivial company.  

109  122  

After dinner, Bernice ran a quiz for the family group, everyone was placed into teams, with the competitive spirit coming to the fore!  Quiz rounds consisted of sections with topics including;

1963, Pontefract, The Journey to NZ, First few years in NZ, Everything 50, Numbers, Dingbats, Food & Drink

Family members had contributed questions over the previous weeks showing that some have incredible memory for such things as car registration numbers, phone numbers, people, places, and events.  Scoring was very liberal leading to a generally agreed four way tie.  Some people could not refrain from answering questions in a somewhat loud whisper thus making it easier for their opponents.


March 10, 2013

We have been here in Whakatane for over a week now. We took the opportunity to stay put for a while, as Roy has to wait for his new spectacles to be made and at the same time John was planning to go away for a week to a fishing tournament in Whitianga so we could housesit, dog sit and teenage daughter mind!
Staying put for a week or so meant that we could catch up on a few things such as annual accounts, cleaning, tidying, get a haircut, generally relax and take stock. Although it has to be noted that the same things always seem to be on the end of the list at the end of most days. I think they call that procrastination.
The duties of the past week have hardly been onerous, the housesitting not too difficult. The dog, Chum, has taken to lying under the van in the shade most days, occasionally bringing us “treasures” and we now have a nice collection of strange odds and ends. The teenage daughter, Jenny, has been a pleasure to feed/water/walk, as she so eloquently stated! Which has meant that the week has flown by without a hitch.
Next on the agenda for the Vannini’s is to leave our comfortable spot here at John’s and head off through the Waioeka Gorge to Gisborne and wend our weary way around East Cape to eventually arrive back in Whakatane around the weekend of the 20th April for a family get together. We are really looking forward to this trip as it is many years since we have been through that neck of the woods. First, we must await the arrival of Roy’s new specs so he can see to drive!!!!