On the move

March 21, 2019

I’d had enough of being crammed in at Ardmore, it seems as though vehicles were jammed in everywhere with over 50 vehicles squeezed in and I guess with the motorhome show due to be held in Auckland later that week, people were starting to head on in to the city. Wednesday morning we had an early start as the van was having the underneath cleaned of surface rust and sealed so at 6.30am we were on our way, not too far to go though, just to Truck & Trailer in Spartan Road, Takanini.

We headed off to get some breakfast whilst the van was being worked on, and to do some shopping and generally keep ourselves occupied. It was 1pm when we got the call to say that the van was finished and we could pick it up. Off we trotted, we got a thorough look at what they had done and came away feeling very happy, especially when the bill came in at nearly half of what we were expecting. We will be back here again if we need any work doing on the van as we were so impressed with them. They do all maintenance work on large vehicles as well as fibreglass repairs and they even do a polishing service. And to top it off they were really friendly and helpful.

We had planned to stay the night at the Papakura Club however we decided to dump the tanks again at Bruce Pulman Park on our way. That’s when plans changed again.

It just so happened that Antony had got us tickets to the netball being played at Pulman Arena that evening (also just happened to be our wedding anniversary) and as we saw a couple of motorhomes parked up, I went and enquired about staying the night there.

the view from the door of the van, not too far to go to walk to the game.

And at the same price as staying in an NZMCA Park, it was a no brainer to stay here for the night.

After an early dinner we headed across the car park to the Arena to get our seats for the game, collecting goodie bags along the way from the sponsors inside the venue.

we ended up being seated around the mid court area, just beind the commentators

It was a good game to watch and afterwards we sauntered back to the van and had a very quiet nights sleep.

We were off the following morning to Hamilton where we ended up staying at the Car Museum, somewhere we had not visited before. Again it proved to be another very busy place to stay as we woke in the morning to find that we had neighbours move in on both sides of us both within spitting distance.

Whilst at the museum we thought we should patronise the facility particularly as though the parking is free so we had lunch in the cafe.

the outside of the museum building and the parking area before it became crowded.

We placed our order for our lunch and were wandering around looking for a suitable table when out of the corner of my eye I spied a familiar couple of faces. I stood looking for a good minute or so desperately flicking through my memory banks to put names to faces before the lightbulb finally went off and I could go say hi. They recognised us straight away. It was Chrissy & Ian, they were longtime friends with my eldest brother Mike & his late wife Ann. Chrissy and Ann were school friends and we had met Chrissy & Ian a number of times over the years so it was lovely to see them and catch up.

We also caught up with our long time friends Wade & Lindsay in the evening over a lovely dinner. It’s always good to see good friends. We also met up with Harry, Kim & family whom we had met a few weeks earlier at Shakespear. They had just been to have some solar charging issues sorted and were very impressed with the service they received from Wayne, so much so that we took his details so we could contact him at some point.

The following day we took off to AJ’s Park on the shores of Lake Karapiro.

the view through the front windscreen.

it is a lovely spot to stay, relatively quiet and peaceful so we thought we’d stay a couple of nights, but a week later we are still here! The place becomes quite busy over the weekend, and we are kept entertained by waterskiers and kids enjoying themselves being towed behind boats on various devices from knee boards to biscuits. It took us a while to figure that there is no tide here, quite a change for us as we spend so much time near the sea.

Sunday was an impromptu get together with a couple of my siblings – John & Jude called in on their way home to Whakatane, and Sue & Jeff joined us from their home not far away in Putaruru. This trip of ours is basically for us to catch up with my north island siblings before we head away to the UK, it seems we have started off quite well. Of course I forgot to take any pictures however it was a lovely afternoon with them all.

I did take some pictures later in the week as we went into Putaruru on a few occasions to spend some time with Sue & Jeff and catch up on family matters including swapping genealogy notes.

this is my sister Sue with the cheese & bacon scones she made one day for lunch……with the wrong mix she had mistakenly used from her pantry. Subsequently the scones were a strange sweet/savoury concoction πŸ˜‚. And no, sweet savoury scones are not a new thing, they were relegated to the bin! Should have gone to Specsavers Sue 😘.

Roy & Jeff tackling their respective crossword puzzles.

in between visits into Putaruru I had made contact with Wayne Hunt who specialises in motorhome electric/solar systems and it just so happened that he was going to be passing Karapiro on Tuesday morning and he offered to call in. Wayne & Vicki duly arrived and over a cuppa we chatted for some time before getting onto matters we wanted to sort. We want to be able to charge the van battery when we are stationary for any length of time. Wayne designs and builds systems and he came up with a couple of options for us, now we are all sorted with what will work for us. Once we get it, I will do a blog entry on that later. We also gleaned another couple of ideas from them whilst we were chatting so it proved to be a very good couple of hours spent in their company. We can highly recommend Wayne for anything solar/electric/motorhome related, especially as he explains things so well.

Our departure day from here seems to be getting put back more and more, it may be tomorrow…but then again we may be saying the same thing again tomorrow!

And who can blame us with this for a view.

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Sad sad days

March 18, 2019

The Ides of March  is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to 15 March. In 44BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar which made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history.

Friday 15th March 2019 is a turning point in New Zealand’s history. The day that one crazy idiotic excuse-for-a -human-being wreaked havoc on the innocent. 50 men, women and children were callously murdered and at least another 50 were wounded, some critically.

To put into perspective how devastating the Christchurch massacre has been on our country, the 50 innocent people who were senselessly murdered is the equivalent per capita in US terms to 3443 people, or 695 people in the UK. Makes you think doesn’t it?

Frontline emergency personnel have our utmost respect, from police, ambulance, doctors, nurses and all others involved, I don’t think we can ever comprehend what you have witnessed.

To those families directly impacted by this tragedy you have our heartfelt sympathies. Words fail.

Moving on….

March 10, 2019

We are very good at changing our plans. Initially we had intended to move on from Shakespear a week ago on Sunday BUT we heard from Gary & Marg that they were coming down to Red Beach to look after their grandkids so we thought we would delay our departure for a few days and take the opportunity to catch up with them before we head out of town.

Meanwhile we are trying to get a few jobs done that we have managed to put off until now….isn’t that always the way, put off the inevitable until we have to do it!!

Our last weekend was a very busy weekend again with campers, with some lovely lovely people in. Some even shared their spoils…

yes, we had fresh fish for dinner that evening.

Inevitably it was time to bid farewell to everyone at Shakespear, after a lovely farewell from the Rangers and some other volunteers we finally headed out of the park on Thursday. But we weren’t going too far as we still had a few chores to get done. So via the LPG filing station at Dairy Flat where, when a truck pulled out from in front of us revealed this special pairing.

I have no idea what it is exactly but obviously it stands upright as there are hydraulic rams on the side near the base. I couldn’t ask the driver either as he was out of there a moment after I had taken the picture.

We headed off to South Auckland heading first to the dump station at Bruce Pullman Park in Papakura. Then it was off to the friendly fellows at VTNZ in Takanini for a COF where we had to wait in line for some time before we had our turn. By this time it was lunch time and time for a cuppa and a bite to eat whilst we waited. We soon had our COF and it was back to the dump station. Why return to the dump station? Because we had half filled the black and grey water tanks with fresh water to slosh around whilst we drive around which helps clean them out a bit, especially required after sitting for so long in one place they needed a good clean out. That all done it was off to a busy Ardmore to park up for a few days.

I had forgotten what it is like to park in a place with other vehicles so close to you, as well as parking on gravel. Give me grass any day but needs must. We are here for a week as we have booked the van in to have the underneath sealed next week, a necessary maintenance job to prevent any rust on the chassis as we so often park near salt laden sea air.

Our son Antony lives just around the corner from Ardmore so it is also a good opportunity to catch up with him, oh and utilise his cooking facilities.

It’s that time of the year again, pickling and preserving time, and first on the list was to make some sauce and soup.

two pots on the boil

And the resulting spoils

Along with the plum sauce I made a few weeks ago, the store cupboard is becoming full again. That should keep us going for some time.

A Japanese night out

February 25, 2019

We had to go over to see Antony in Papakura to drop off a few bits and pieces and to help him move a mountain of grass clippings that had accumulated over time. That done, we decided to go out for dinner, I thought down to the local pub, but no, Antony had booked us into Izu, a Japanese restaurant right in the heart of the Papakura town centre.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with Auckland suburbs, Papakura is not known to be one of the trendy suburbs, more at the other end of the scale. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find a first class restaurant in town.

We all chose our dishes and waited for the arrival of the first plates

Top left Snapper carpaccio x 2, below it was my amazing crispy tofu and mushroom dish, on the right a tuna ceviche.

Clockwise from top left: Chicken, Beef, Lamb and a nigiri & sushi selection.

And to finish the blokes had the chocolate mousse, we girls were too full for dessert.

We will certainly be back here as the menu options were varied and there are some other dishes I’d like to try.

The big move

February 21, 2019

After three and a half months in the Shakespear campground we have made the big move, just 750m Along the road to the SCC (Self Contained Certificate) camp area. This is because there is a large school group in the campground and we always vacate the campground at this stage and leave them to it. As you can see from the following photos, it’s pretty busy in here.

It does get busy over the weekends but for the rest of the week we are pretty much on our own.

We can still continue with our camp mother/camp leader roles from here and it’s pretty interesting what we see from our position here opposite the large public area whereas in the campground we are pretty much cocooned from the general public.

We did meet up with John & Sarah, they write a very good motorhome travel blog https://licencedtoretire.com. We enjoyed a lovely couple of days in their company and look forward to meeting up again soon as I neglected, yet again, to take any pictures.

I too have been taking things easy, hoping that by not doing too much my hip will heal quickly. We have had the official written report from the surgeon and for those interested the diagnosis is an “Avulsion fracture of the greater trochanter”. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? I can assure you that the only thing impressive is the pain, but with medication it is slowly coming under control, and I do get a good 3-4hours of uninterrupted sleep most nights now.

We have less than two weeks left here at Shakespear before we head off to parts unknown, and it’s not long before we are off to the UK again.

Hip hip boo hoo

February 15, 2019

Last week I had my follow up appointment after knee replacement surgery. I have to say that I found the knee replacement surgery a doddle and had full mobility after just a week or so, and the pain has been negligible, compared to my hip, but you will find out why that is shortly.

Here’s the X-ray of the said knee replacement, with a side view on the left and front view on the right and yes, I know the X-ray is reversed!

The knee is fully healed and I have full range of motion and what is more…no pain!

My hip replacement however, has not been all that I expected, for a start I have had continual pain, so much so that the past few months I have been unable to sleep and you know what that means? …yes, grumpy Bernice. We knew after the post op checkup X-ray and subsequent MRI that there was a probable crack in the trochanter which I was expecting it to have healed by now. There was also a suggestion at the time (and the reason I had the MRI) that something more sinister could be going on rather than a break.

There was apparently lots of discussion between radiologists and my surgeon as to what was going on but I was pretty confident that the surgeon was right and it was just a break.. did I really say that? “just” a break?

However, my surgeon was adamant that it was stress fracture, the talk of worse things he played down considerably so that I would not worry or panic. He now tells us that he discussed it with his wife, who just so happens to be a cancer specialist, and he was sure he was correct and that there was no need to put me through the trauma of a biopsy, which we discussed at the time of the first MRI when we considered having it done whilst I was under anaesthetic for the knee replacement. But the week before the knee surgery we discussed the biopsy possibilities again and I was more than comfortable with his recommendation that we don’t proceed with it. And at this stage the pain was not so bad and in fact had started to dissipate however, over the last two months the pain has increased, a lot.

Last week during the knee checkup I explained to the specialist that my hip was becoming excruciatingly painful, especially at night, and I was not a happy chappy. He quickly sent me back to the X-ray dept next door for another X-ray, this time of the hip.

And what do you know? It’s definitely fractured, with the offending piece having completely broken off at some stage! No wonder it’s been damn painful. The following pictures are of my X-ray on the lightbox so there is some shadowing and reflection.

the offending trochanter which is the knobbly piece at the top of the femur

The trochanter circled in red, the break is indicated by the yellow arrow. Not only has it completely broken off, it has moved a bit. Ouch!

So another MRI was booked and I had that on Tuesday as well as a follow up appointment with the specialist.

This latest MRI confirmed the specialists view, what has happened is that the stress fracture developed over time to become a full on fracture. I was relieved that a) it was nothing more serious and b) that I had a very reasonable excuse for being in such pain and I wasn’t just being pathetic!

We talked at length about what to do about it, coming to the conclusion that doing nothing for the trochanteric break was the only real option. It is now healing nicely albeit slower than I would like, and further surgery is definitely not in the scheme of things. The thought of them having to do further surgery to rebreak it, then reattach with screws, plates and wires is a daunting prospect particularly as everything I’ve read and studied all come to the same conclusion; the outcomes after 12 months are almost identical wether nothing is done or surgery is performed. So with good pain management the priority, we now have a plan in place and hopefully it will continue to heal and I just have to be patient (not one of my best qualities) and definitely no skydiving or other dangerous activities, even though I’ve been walking around on a fracture for months.

Apparently fractures occur in a very small number of replacements but they are the most common complication after total hip replacement surgery and of those small number of fractures about 5% are trocanteric fractures. So it’s just my shit luck to be part of the very, very small percentage to have this occur! I always knew I was a bit “special” πŸ˜‰.

It’s all go here!

February 11, 2019

Tuesday last week and we were expecting friends Wade & Lindsay to arrive for a few days R&R and they would be staying in our guest wing. Sure enough they arrived late in the afternoon.

The guest suite is our tent….and it’s not doing too badly for an oldie but goodie as we think the tent is at least 26 years old and still going strong!!

It has done us very well over the years and continues to give us good service. It’s a nice sized tent, perfect for a short break away and easy to put up.

I was all organised ready for our guests to arrive, we had put up the tent a day or two earlier and had also inflated the bed. It only seemed right that I should lie on the bed for an hour or so, just to try it out and make sure it was comfortable. And just as well I did as the bed seemed to go down a little over the hour or so I was testing it therefore it was on’y right that we tried to find out if there was a leak. This involved me rolling around on the bed, feeling along all the seams to check for a pesky leak. Nothing to be found anywhere, so we turn the mattress over to check the underside. What’s this? I can feel air escaping on my cheek….but where is it coming from? On closer inspection I found a tiny wee scrape, the size of a small pinhole where the air was escaping, so it was out with the repair tape and cover it over. Perfect.

I had also been organised with what to have for dinner – Bao buns with slow roasted Pork belly and an Asian slaw, plenty for left overs too. However, the left overs would be dwindling somewhat as we also got a call from friends Pat & Steve, could they come and stay the night in their caravan on their way south? oh and they had a large box of plums for me off their tree. Sure we said, rock on up, we’d love to see you and catch up, and there’s dinner for you too!

Shortly thereafter the phone goes again, it’s Keith & Deb, they are 20minutes away. Fantastic, we can have a great time together and yes there is plenty for all for dinner.

I couldn’t wait around to meet and greet everyone as I had to race off to the specialist as it was time for my post knee surgery checkup…..more on that saga in another blog post though. By the time I returned, everyone was settled in with a drink in hand for happy hour, and what do you know? Yep, I forgot to take one single picture!!

We had a great evening catching up, with lots and lots of chatter going on into the evening. Pat & Steve were off the next morning to continue their journey south whilst the rest of us relaxed as best we could over the next few days! It’s a hard life but someone has to do it.

The next couple of days were spent reading, swimming, relaxing, talking and eating, oh as well as keeping an eye on campers. I even managed to make a couple of batches of plum sauce as well.

Wade and Lindsay’s daughter Caroline lives not to far away so she came for a visit or two before it was time for Wade & Lindsay to leave. Lindsay assured me that the bed was very comfortable and it was the best nights sleep she’d had in years, just as well I found the leak through my extensive testing regimeπŸ˜‚.

clockwise from front left: Lindsay, Deb, Keith, Bernice and Wade

Next my niece Rebekka and her husband Paul came to stay for a couple of nights, some of you may not know but Rebekka is Keith’s youngest daughter from his earlier marriage to my sister. Paul & Rebekka arrived with some friends and we all had dinner together…I again forgot to take any pictures but the following morning the six of us had breakfast together.

From left clockwise around the table, Deb, Roy, Rebekka, Bernice, Paul.

Again it was a hard couple of days of relaxing, swimming, eating and drinking. Can you see a pattern developing?

Rebekka and Paul also stayed in our guest suite, they are seasoned campers but they have very small tents so staying in our larger tent spurred them on to buying a new tent.

Of course they had to try it out and gain some experience at putting it up. We “grownups” enjoyed sitting back and watching the young ones put up their new tent, with a few helpful pieces of advice coming from the spectators of course. Their new tent should see them right for a few years to come and hopefully it will last as long as ours has.

Visitors

February 3, 2019

In between our camp leader/camp mother roles, we do get the opportunity to meet up with friends and family.

Brian, an ex motorhomers, came to visit for an afternoon and to have a bit of a toast to Marj, his wife and best mate who past away one year ago. We had a lovely afternoon reminiscing and talking about future plans and travels.

We met up with friends Ron & Janet in Mt Eden as we were over in that part of the city after Roy had a specialist checkup. Ron & Janet had come in from Ararimu, (south of Auckland near the Hunua Ranges), they took advantage of catching the train into the city from Papakura then a bus into Mt Eden where we met at the local pub for a nice long lunch and catchup. Of course we were so busy talking I forgot to take any pictures.

Son Antony came for a visit after his big trip to South America, so we were able to catch up on all his adventures and stories from his travels. Of course I again forgot to take any pictures, although I did take a picture of his present for me.

yep, I get s#@t coffee….πŸ˜‚

Brother John and partner Jude came for a lovely visit last Saturday bringing with them spoils from their garden; beans, silver beet, zucchini, tomatoes, lemons, oranges. There’s nothing quite like homegrown produce for our veg fix. We had a lovely afternoon hiding from the scorching sun before venturing to the beach. This time John reminded me to take a picture. Although working out how to set the iPad to take a delayed picture and running around into position was a little funny!

L-R: Roy, Jude, Bernice, John.

Friends Lindsay & Wade were next to visit, and it is so lovely to be able to relax and pickup where we left off last time. A very nice afternoon was spent with plans made for a longer visit shortly. And yes, I did remember to take a snap.

We seem to be making a habit of catching up at this time of the year, which also happens to be their wedding anniversary. We have been together the past couple of years last year we headed to Hamilton to help them celebrate their 40th anniversary, read about that here, and the previous year here. Maybe we are becoming creatures of habit after all.

As well as friends and family we also get daily visits from the various rangers, staff and volunteers here at Shakespear, sometimes it is a quick call by to check on things or to let us know of any happenings. Other times it turns into a decent morning tea, or sometimes they will visit bringing their lunch to eat in our company or an after work relax and refreshment to end the day and catch up on life. After our 5th year here I think we are becoming part of the furniture!

Te Haruhi Bay – a poem

February 1, 2019

This poem was written and given to us by a camper, who wrote this on her recent stay with us.

I’m sure you will agree that it is a lovely piece of writing.

Te Haruhi Bay by Mary Fletcher, January 2019.

Where ancient feet have trod,

Brown feet running on soft golden sand,

Lives lived, history made, babies born, whanau died

Kaimoana at low tide,

Fat kereru nesting in tall pohutakawas, swooping, calling;

Pukekos caught, snared, shared.

Calling birds wake the people, tangata whenua

Oceans roar, oceans roar and roll.

Moonlight, starlight on the living breathing land

Flax grown, cut, pounded, kete made and remade,

– Ever on the alert, friends or enemies may arrive

Urupa used, sacred places…

Times change, times change, vision dims

History happens, ownership/guardianship transfers, willingly/unwillingly.

Sounds of cutting, slashing, burning, birdsongs dim,

oceans roar, oceans roar.

Tides come in and out,

Building roads in and out. Technology noise, tractors, cars,motors,

Top dressing planes, gates up,

Sheep baaing, cows mooing drowns more bird calls,

Oceans roar, oceans roar.

Times change, times change. Vision happens.

Gates up, gates down, housing encroaches, gates up, trees planted, fences up

Oceans roar, oceans roar.

Flax restored, natives planted, birds arrive, birds stay

Green hills sprout trees, kaimoana at low tide

Kereru swoop, morpork calls, moonlight, star light, people gather

Sanctuary restoring, land resting

Nature recovering, people enjoying, protecting fragile ecosystems,

Urupa protected, stays, sacred, hiding secrets, loves, lives, history laid down.

Te Haruhi Bay breathes again

Oceans roar, oceans roar.

Apologies, but for some reason all the formatting that I set out for the poem does not stay in place,

Te Haruhi Bay at Shakespear Regional Park.

Knee update

January 18, 2019

A number of people have asked how my knee has been post surgery, so after 6 weeks here is an update.

It has been a breeze, pain has been negligible since day one, however it has been carefully managed and I have tried not to be a hero and go without the pain meds which I am sure is part of the reason why recovery has been so easy. I had full movement back after just a week post surgery and I was diligent in doing the exercises given to me by my physio.

I continued using crutches for about 4 weeks although I could have given them up long before then but I have been very mindful to take things carefully so as not to have any mishaps. My wound healed really well, helped I am sure by the Manuka Honey Wound Gel that my surgeon suggested I use. The scar is already becoming less and less visible, now assisted by the use of rosehip oil to reduce the evidence of scarring.

the scar isn’t looking too bad at all is it?

It has been so easy that I am wondering why I put it off for so long? In fact I asked the surgeon the day after the op if he could whip me down to theatre and do the other knee whilst I was there. Unfortunately his schedule was full.

I had been putting surgery off in the hope that the research into stem cell use would be done by now. Although some people are having stem cell therapy done and with some success, my very thorough research says that clinical trials are still ongoing with advances coming all the time however there have been too many incidences of rogue cells becoming cancerous. Hence my reticence in trying it out.

I am reliable told that advances in orthopaedic surgery in the past two years has been remarkable which has probably helped my recovery as well. But having a great surgeon and anaesthetist is also a huge factor in my quick recovery I am sure.

Now just the next one to be done, I think we may just postpone that one until we return from the UK as if I have it done before we go I am pretty sure that Sod’s law will kick in and something will go wrong and I definitely don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that exciting trip.

So to sum up, it’s been such an easy surgery and recovery I wish I had had it done years ago. I even enjoyed? (not sure that is the right word) my hospital stay pretending I was on a mini holiday break with the bed made for me, meals cooked for me, with lots of rest involved. Just keep your fingers crossed that the next one goes as well.