Wednesday 30 November 2011

Change of Profession.

As Dot’s sister Mary had flown in from Auckland on Monday a family get together had been arranged for Tuesday. As for me, I was dropped off at Robin and Jenny’s residence in Totara Park to give Robin a hand with some very long overdue house painting. It was a perfect day for it with just the right temperatures and not too much sun.

Derek in disguise - ready for paintingDerek in disguise - ready for painting

Over about 6 hours we had 2 walls underway with Etch Primer and undercoat but there is a lot more to go with a total of 5 coats per wall. An arrangement has now been made for us to go and stay there for a long week-end starting on Friday. The long range weather forecast is OK except for Sunday but hopefully, that day we may be able to work on the front wall under the overhanging eaves. Just depends on wind direction. Read Jenny’s blog about it here.

Robin hard at workRobin hard at work

Today has been lawn mowing day which took all of 4 hours but it’s looking good. Another trailer load of bark chip was organised this afternoon which we put straight on the driveway garden. There is still some work to be done along the driveway but it’s looking pretty good.

Monday 28 November 2011

Trials and Tribulations.

Yesterday, after another busy day around the Estate where the vegetable garden was the main priority, Eileen put on a lovely roast dinner with a surprise chocolate birthday cake for yours truly as dessert. Very much appreciated by all concerned.

PB270012Happy Birthday Derek. Even the number of candles don’t give it away.Winking smile Birthday cake

Today, prior to lunch a few hours were spent in the garden before “Rain stopped Play”. A good excuse to watch a DVD about the Cheshire railway routes between Chester and Manchester. A mixture of new and old with some black and white photography thrown in. Scenes around Northwich and the River Weaver bought memories flooding back as did views of Castlefield Basin, Manchester where we spent quite some time on narrowboat “Gypsy Rover”.

In the kitchen Dot got to grips with her new Magic Cooker thermal insulated cooking pot with a Chicken casserole. The end result was very nice but could have been slightly hotter. A lesson learned for next time.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Unusual Dwelling perhaps.

I am still keeping busy with gardening at Geoff and Eileens along with a few repairs and modifications to the motorhome. Geoff and I went out this morning for another trailer load of sheep manure to complete the raised vegetable garden. The farmer should be quite pleased with our efforts as we have cleared about a ⅓ of his shearing shed saving him some work.

While visiting Dot’s father I got to read the newspaper where I spotted an article about Wellington Airport’s Control Tower which it seems is the only one in the world that is on private property with it’s own residential address, not within the airport grounds. Plans are afoot to build a new control tower within the airport grounds which will be higher than the original. This is necessary due to the many changes that have been made both in the nearby vicinity and within the airport. There is some talk that the old tower could be put on the property market as a residential property or perhaps a building of interest. How about a museum/cafe?

6035964photo courtesy

Friday 25 November 2011

Yours Truly had his **th Birthday today!

HB1He’s probably dreaming of one of these now Winking smile 

We spent a very busy day in Wellington today, catching up with both our elderly parents as well as visiting the polling booth to cast our votes in the country’s General Election before polling day tomorrow. Collected our mail from Brent’s and returned some belongings to our storage before heading north again.  We had a delightful lunch at one of our friend Jenny’s favourite cafe  “The Fig Tree Cafe” in a unique setting in a restored chapel in Heretaunga. 

Sunday 20 November 2011

Happy Birthday Tracey

flower-birthdayHope you have a lovely day from us here in New Zealand.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Unknown Family History.

I have been busy most days out in Geoff and Eileen’s garden making the grounds more manageable. Today Geoff organised the trailer and the first trip was to Koputaroa on the north side of Levin for a load of sheep manure. I had become aware of a sheep farmer who wanted the manure removed from under his shearing shed and I could take as much as I wanted. Say no more!  By 1pm we had this trailer load unloaded ready for the next job which was a trip to the tip with garden cuttings. We travelled down to Paraparaumu tip where we could buy a load of bark chip to tidy up a couple of flower beds, one load in and one load out, no dead running.

What playing again?Working or playing?

During the week Dot had arranged a luncheon with her Uncle Bill and Aunty Gretta who both recently turned 80. While in the Hutt Valley we did a few other chores just to save time. Talking to Bill it transpired that his ancestors came from Ireland and when he was in his early 20’s he travelled over there and worked on their farm along with another ancestors farm in America.

Boys and their toysBoys and their toys!

He feels that he is lucky to be alive because he along with 4 friends had been booked to travel on the ill fated train that crashed in the Tangiwai disaster. (New Zealand’s worst railway disaster with a death toll of 151 on Christmas Eve 1953). This was where a lahar from the collapse of a natural volcanic ash dam blocking the outlet of Mount Ruapehu’s crater lake ran down the Whangaehu glacier and washed away the Tangiwai railway bridge. It was only at the last minute that Bill and his friends had to cancel their travel arrangements but their names still appeared on the passenger list after the disaster, so who were the 5 passengers that replaced them?

IMG_5075Gretta and Bill celebrated their 80th birthdays together recently.

Monday 14 November 2011

Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines.

Saturday was to be the highlight of the Caravan Club Rally. As yesterday was Armistice Day a tribute was held at Hood Aerodrome to remember the men who gave their all during WW I. On display were motor vehicles and motorcycles from the era, all in working condition. However all wasn’t what it appeared to be as the military vehicles were all copies made for the film industry, some on genuine chassis' or wheels but the rest in modern materials.The WW I tank looked authentic but up close you could detect the imitation guns and cannon as well as the 20 century engine.

Beautifully restored cars  of the early 1900's. An Austin and a Wolsley?Beautifully restored cars  of the early 1900's. An Austin and a Wolsley?

Beautifully restored cars and motorcycle of the early 1900's including a pair of Ford model "T"sBeautifully restored cars and motorcycle of the early 1900's including a pair of Ford model "T"s

A Fiat truck.A Fiat truck.

The highlight was of course the beautifully made replica aircraft of both English and German origin. Made from original blueprints using Spruce and Ash as well as Irish Linen or something closely resembling the material. The 20 – 25 aircraft were all air worthy and most of them took to the sky despite a stiff southerly breeze and rain.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang now lives in New Zealand.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was bought by Peter Jackson in May 2011 and now lives in New Zealand.

Anti aircraft gun on a genuine chassis. The rest including the gun are fake.Anti aircraft gun on a genuine chassis. The rest including the gun are fake.

Chance Vought FG - 1D  Corsair.Chance Vought FG - 1D  Corsair.

Talking to one of the staff we were under the impression that the person bankrolling all this didn’t want to be identified but when New Zealand’s number one film maker lives here in Masterton and a lot of it had been made for the film industry we surmised that Sir Peter Jackson was involved. He has directed a short film entitled Crossing the Line to test a new model of digital cinema camera. The film takes place during World War I, and was shot in two days. He also owns an aircraft restoration and manufacturing company, The Vintage Aviator, which is based at Hood Aerodrome and dedicated to World War I and World War II fighter planes among other planes from the 1920s and 1930s.

British SE 5A. 200HP capable of 135MPH.British SE 5A. 200HP capable of 135MPH.

Nieuport XINieuport XI

British BE 2C capable of 72MPH over 200 miles.British BE 2C capable of 72MPH over 200 miles.

Sheet metal and plastic with a modern power plant. A movie prop.Sheet metal and plastic with a modern power plant. A movie prop.

Friday 11 November 2011

Clareville Cattle Market Day.

Today we got another taste of country living with the local stock market being held just across the paddock from where we are parked. From early morning trucks and trailers started to arrive with cattle, calves, sheep, lambs and a few piglets.

Sheep pens at the Clareville stock market.Sheep pens at the Clareville stock market.

Lambs for fattening or replacement Ewes.Lambs for fattening or replacement Ewes.

We all wandered across to have a look at what was arriving for the sale. Weaned lambs, piglets and calves ready for fattening, yearling bulls and heifers for replacement stock were among the 40 or so lots for auction. Bidding was brisk in most cases except for the bobby calves that still needed hand feeding.

Bobby calves looking for new homes.Bobby calves looking for new homes.

Porkers for fattening.Porkers for fattening.

Not much interest was shown in this section and one lucky lady was buying them at $2 –$5 each. She will have her work cut out to start with but in the long run will make a tidy little profit. The whole auction was over in a couple of hours but it was interesting to attend such an event.

Open air stock pens for the big annual stock sales.Open air stock pens for the big annual stock sales.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Gypsy Rover is named!

After a lovely break at Levin it was time to head south once more. Wednesday morning we set off after the morning rush hour with the first port of call being Geoff and Eileen’s at Otaki to drop off a couple of bags of well rotted sheep manure and some tomato plants. At Otaki I parked the motorhome in a rest area and travelled with Dot so as to be able to unload the manure (20kg bags) and plant the tomato’s.The quicker they were planted the quicker we get a crop.

IMG_5061Spotted in Wellington, not exactly my cup of tea!

The next stop was Upper Hutt where I went and got the sign writing on the motorhome completed and Dot visited her father who unfortunately was not having a good day. As we had appointments in Lower Hutt on Thursday we stayed overnight at the Petone Workingmans club making it easy time wise in the morning.

IMG_5030We now have a name!!


Once our appointments had been dealt with it was off over the Rimutaka hill road to the Wairarapa to attend a Caravan Club rally this coming week-end. A lot of work has been done on this road in the 5 years we have been in the UK and is still ongoing making the 13km trip over the hill more enjoyable. It will be great when it’s completed.

The earlybirds are here for the weekend combined rally.The early birds are here for the weekend combined rally.

Monday 7 November 2011

Country school life NZ style.

It was good to be back at Don and Sandra’s Farm where we always get a taste of country living. Monday morning and Don and I were off down to the barn to take a top link off a tractor that had ceased up. We gave it a good dose of WD40 (rust killer) and then applied some heat. Eventually we got some movement at one end and got it unscrewed enough to enable us to clean the threads. The other end wasn’t so easy but we finally succeeded when we got a huge spanner and a 3 foot long pipe to get some serious leverage into play. It was a case of brute force all the way to the end but after a good clean up and plenty of copper impregnated grease it went back together dead easy.

The afternoon saw me repairing the slats in the bed extension that had warped and come apart. This was due to the fact that they were only held together with 4 staples and little blobs of silicon which would hold much anyway. Removing the staples and the silicon I replaced it with PVA glue along the full length and 4 decent size screw’s which won’t fall apart in a hurry. I have repaired about 12 of the slats and still have 7 to do but they are in a better condition so they can wait for another day.

Sausage sizzle and Hamburgers at Koputaroa School Agricultural day.Sausage sizzle and Hamburgers at Koputaroa School Agricultural day.

This evening all four of us were down off to the Koputaroa School where we had been at the week-end with the NZMCA rally. Todays event was the school Agricultural Day (Lamb and Calf day).When we arrived judging had already started and all the animals were nicely presented. As well as this each class room held different competitions that the children had participated in, cooking, art, diorama’s in sand and much, much more. We didn’t agree with all the judges choices but the standard of the entries was high. On the lighter side there was a tombola, sausage sizzle, hamburgers and coffee. gumboot throwing and pony rides. With a school role of 170 there was a good crowd with many Grandparents in attendance. A lovely evening’s entertainment.

Calf judging at Koputaroa School Agricultural day.Calf judging.

The most unusual lamb in the Lamb judging at Koputaroa School Agricultural day.The most unusual lamb in the Lamb judging.

Prize giving after the calf judging at Koputaroa School Agricultural day.Prize giving after the calf judging.

How's this for a coffee machine.How's this for a coffee machine?

Sunday 6 November 2011

Guy Fawkes and all that stuff.

Well we seem to have solved our campsite problems until next year. Friends Eileen and Geoff have a small holding at Otaki just north of Wellington and for various reasons need some help with managing their estate so I have become Head Gardener in return for a campsite.  Mind you we are going to be busy between now and Christmas anyway.

IMG_5034_thumb[1]Dot's new friend Muffy sits in the sun in Gypsy Rover. She would love to take her home.

Friday we drove the 20 something kilometres from Otaki to Koputaroa school on the North side of Levin for the Wellington branch of the  NZMCA’s Guy Fawkes Rally. The rally was well attended with 60 vans arriving for what turned out to be a good rally. Four entries in the “Make a Guy” competition were presented for judging, two by children and two by adult’s. They were entered as the Tallest, the Alien, the Smiler, and the Fireman and the builders all took away a prize.

The evening meal was provided by the committee as a Hobo’s dinner with the tables being adorned with the finest newspapers as table clothes and dry wood creations as centre pieces. On the menu was sausages, peas and mashed spud, well what else would Hobo’s eat except perhaps Baked Beans. With over a hundred sitting down to dine the after effects of the latter wouldn’t bear thinking about.

IMG_5036_thumb[1]NZMCA rally at Koputaroa School on the outskirts of Levin

Once night fall had arrived it was time for the fireworks display behind the hall. Although it was a good effort it was nothing to the commercially presented display’s that we get around the country these days. I’m afraid I’m one in favour of banning the sale of fireworks in favour of well organised displays as Guy Fawkes is English History that doesn’t really have much bearing in this country any more.

After morning tea on Sunday it was time to say our farewells as the site had to vacated by noon. Dot and I had plenty of visitors over the week-end wanting a look at our new baby and a few were very interested in what was involved in importing such a vehicle. We didn’t have far to go as we are staying with friends Don and Sandra for a few days and they only live 2 kilometre’s further along the road from the school.

IMG_5038_thumb[1]Amongst friends at only our 2nd NZMCA rally

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Nearly sorted.

Having now moved back to the Petone Workingmans Club we ventured into Lower Hutt to try and finalise all those little chores that keep getting put on the back burner. Having now caught up with everything we can now turn our attention to other matters such as touring.

One chore which I had been putting off was getting into the electrical control panel to check all the settings. Having emailed Sargent Electrical, the manufacturers, for more information as they don’t have a NZ agent, I received back a detailed email. Having read the information a couple of times to get my head around the details it was time to have a go. While checking and altering any necessary settings I had to make a quick phone call to club mate Don  who is an Electrician just to confirm a point. What I found was that the English dealer had not checked the settings when replacing the control unit after modification and the settings were for 110amp hrs. instead of 220amp hrs. as we had an extra battery fitted and the solar panel had reverted back to smart charge (both sets of batteries) instead of leisure batteries only. Now these changes have been made we will have to see how the power supply works out, hopefully for the better. Boats or motorhomes the problems are just the same, electrical, toilets and gas supply, nothing changes.