Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Saturday, March 25, 2017

50 Years Ago Today

Doesn’t time fly!!  Fifty years ago I was “matron of honour” when my good friend Merilyn wed Colin.  I can’t lay my hands on a photo right now, but take my word for it -  Merilyn looked beautiful in her long white gown.  Her new husband Colin looked handsome, and we three bridesmaids were dressed in apricot satin. 

I was a young married Mum back then and my Mother took my two children down to the church to watch us all in our finery.  She reported later that young Michael, then aged 3, said in a loud voice, “My Mummy is getting married”.  He didn’t have it quite correct, but I was all dressed up in church!

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“Golden Wedding” anniversary rose

We had really wanted to travel down to Dunedin to share in the 50th Wedding celebrations this weekend, but sadly could not make it.  But I sent our gift down a few weeks early – a beautiful yellow rose appropriately called “Golden Wedding” from South Pacific Roses in Otaki.  Merilyn loves her garden and it is planted in pride of place, she told me.  Happy 50th Anniversary!

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South Pacific Roses in Otaki

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day out in Lower Hutt

We had another day out in Lower Hutt recently - this time to meet up with our SLG friends.   Yvonne had organized the day for us and we met for lunch at Rizzo’s, in the old Lower Hutt Station, now full of trendy bars and restaurants.  Rizzo’s specialize in pizzas but had quite an extensive menu as well.

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Rizzo’s pizza oven

As it turned out, only two of our group ordered pizza for lunch.  The rest of us enjoyed salmon (my favourite), or burgers, but there were plenty of other choices as well.

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Lunching at Rizzo’s

The two of us couldn’t go past the tiramisu for dessert.  No, we didn’t really need it, but it tasted divine!

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Coffee and tiramisu

After lunch we walked a short distance to the Hutt City Archives.  Most of us were not aware of this building, or the services on offer.  The archives hold information on property or buildings, both homes and businesses, as well as all sorts of council records.  Jenny the chief archivist, had laid out old maps and information dating back to the early years of the famous Lower Hutt icon, Bellevue Gardens, for us to look at. 

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Checking out the old documents

We were then taken out to the temperature controlled storage rooms and Jenny explained what was tucked away, and how the old documents and books are conserved.

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In much earlier years, every little town had their own Council and Mayor, such as Petone, Eastbourne, Wainuiomata and Lower and Upper Hutt.  All these old records are stored in the premises, council records, minute books, and rates information.  Over the years, most of these councils have merged.  I was particularly interested to see the beautiful document on show when Lower Hutt was proclaimed a city.  We were also shown copies of the letters sent to invite the important people of the day to come along to the celebrations.  I was born and bred in Lower Hutt so this was very interesting to see.

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Proclamation

Another very interesting and informative day out with our Super Leisure Group friends.  Many thanks to Yvonne for organizing our day. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mt Lees Reserve

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our weekend away, it was just perfect for camping.  Yes, we will admit that the nights and mornings are now getting a little chilly, and the grass is covered by heavy dew in the mornings.  But such lovely settled weather during the day was a delight, and it is Autumn now, after all.

The property at Mt Lees Reserve, the homestead block and adjacent area of bush,  was gifted to the Crown in 1971 by Ormond Wilson for all to enjoy.  Developing Mount Lees was a lifelong project for Ormond Wilson, and  the Manawatu District Council have responsibility of it.  The homestead is now run as a B & B, there is a large area for camping, a toilet block, children's play area, and a wonderful bush walk.

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Mt Lees Reserve

We had six caravans in attendance over the weekend.  Other travelers came and went, and we talked to several young couples who are travelling around in New Zealand in cars, and are fit and flexible enough to sleep in the back.  These young people seemed to be on working holidays and hailed from Germany, France and England.  Being older and wiser, we much prefer our full size beds and other creature comforts in our caravans.  But it was interesting to hear where these young people had been, their future travel plans, and they all seemed to really love travelling around our country.

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Caravan club members in front of the homestead

Although we had stayed here at Mt Lees Reserve several times, this was the first time we did the bush walk.

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We walked through native trees, exotic trees, and groves of bamboo.   With the help of a brochure and corresponding numbered posts to we read exactly what to look at in each area.  The short climb to the look out had a wonderful vista.

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At the look out point

Pretty native birds kept a watchful eye on our group as we passed by.  The fantails in particular are always happy to see people, as we stir up the insect life as we walk past the trees and bushes -  the fantails then catch them on the wing.  One particularly cheeky fantail stopped us in our tracks on the path as he twittered and hopped, flew from this branch to another, then back on the path again.

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Fantail on the path

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Through the bamboo

At the end of our walk – we took the long track up hill and down dale – we enjoyed afternoon tea prepared by Lorraine.  Freshly made pikelets, jam and whipped cream, so tasty.  Thanks very much Lorraine.

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Lorraine made the pikelets

Most of us cooked on our BBQs on Saturday evening, and then ate together on the picnic tables in front of the Summer House.  Sausages and steak was sizzling away and it all smelt wonderful.  While the men were slaving over a hot BBQ, the ladies were preparing salads and hot veggies to complete their meals.

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Selwyn, Robin, Barry and Dennis looking after their BBQs

It was a lovely peaceful weekend, the weather was glorious, the company was great, what more could we want?  Many thanks to Barry and Dianne who shared their surplus apples and pears with everyone again – we all took home a big bag full and appreciate their generosity.  Sunday came all too soon and it was time to pack up and go home.

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Getting ready to go home, three Leisureline vans in a row

Saturday, March 18, 2017

First to arrive at Lees Reserve

What’s better than an extra day or so tacked on to a weekend caravan club rally.  So we headed out to Mt Lees on Thursday morning.  But what’s this?  There was thick smoke covering SH1 by Foxton.  We couldn't see a thing and hoped nothing was amiss on our side of the road.  Seems that the local farmer was having a burn up but doing it so close to the main road didn’t seem a sensible decision to us.

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Smoke covering the road ahead

After a short 61km drive, we arrived at our destination – Mt Lees Reserve.  There are no sites as such here, just a matter of parking up somewhere in the large grassy area surrounded by large mature trees.  In the Spring this area is covered in beautiful golden daffodils, and is a sight to behold.  We were the first to arrive, just in time for lunch.

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All  by ourselves

Selwyn and Kath arrived an hour or so later, on their way back from two weeks holiday.  We said hello and goodbye as there were a few things we needed to do up town and returned in time for 4zees.  There they regaled us with all their holiday tales, places they had been, and things they had seen.  Seems they had a great time.

On Friday morning we all drove to Feilding, ladies in one car and the blokes in the other.  Kath and I were going to see a Quilt Show (a first for Kath) and Robin and Selwyn were off to the Field Days at Manfield Park.

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This way to the quilt show

Us two girls wandered around admiring all the quilts, and no doubt the men were having similar fun looking at all the blokey things, new cars, tools, machinery and such like.  We all arrived back in camp in the early afternoon and one by one, our other camping friends arrived.

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Now we are five

4zees was under one of the many shady trees, and we moved from sun to shade as we got too hot, and back again into the sunshine again.  Just as well we had our shady hats on.  It was a lovely pleasant afternoon, catching up with everyone’s news.  Dianne and Barry arrived a little later with two grand-children in tow, bringing our numbers up to six vans for the weekend.

The weather was beautiful, and settled, just like our summer weather should have been over Christmas and New Year, and we certainly hoped it would stay that way all weekend for our rally.

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Mother duck and two babies

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Roads and Old Friends

On our trip to the Hutt Valley yesterday for our lunch date with friends, we got to drive on the recently completed section of the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway for the first time.  This part of the new road bypasses the towns of Waikanae and Paraparumu and alleviates crawling through the main road and getting caught up with all the traffic lights. 

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The traffic hummed along and we saw thousands of new plants and shrubs in place, the new walkway/cycle way running beside the expressway, and drove under some of the many bridges crossing this stretch of road.  Concrete baffles have been placed here and there to muffle the sound of traffic noise affecting nearby homes.

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Driving along the new expressway

We took a short detour at Plimmerton to check out the progress on the new NZMCA site.  Looks like the dump station has been installed, plus a large concrete pad at the entrance, so that is a good start.  Fencing is still to be erected, and we believe that a working bee has been arranged to tidy up the grounds.   When this site is up and running it will be very handy for NZMCA members on their way to and from Wellington city.

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New NZMCA site at Plimmerton

The Haywards Interchange is still a hive of activity with men and big machines everywhere.  At an estimated cost of about $43 million, the project is expected to take about 2 years to complete.

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Still hard at work on the Haywards Interchange

We had time to spare before our lunch date for Robin to refill our large bottles with lovely artesian water outside the Dowse Gallery. 

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Fresh free artesian water

My old home town of Lower Hutt seems to be battered and bruised.  The Town Hall where I used to go for Saturday night dances in my teens is being earthquake strengthened and the adjacent Horticulture Hall has been torn down.

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Lower Hutt Town Hall

Then we drove past the Queensgate Mall which looks rather like a bomb site.  The mall suffered severe damage by the 7.8 earthquake on November 14th last year which affected many areas of the country.  Part of the mall was undamaged and was able to continue trading, while this section was being demolished and rebuilt.  I must admit that it all looks rather sad, and there are many buildings in Wellington CBD which also suffered severe damage.

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Clearing up the earthquake damage at the mall

Leaving these sad sights behind us we continued on to our lunch date, which was a bit like a mini caravan club outing.  Don and Pamela, Eileen and Geoff and us two gathered at a local café.  Don and Pamela have been out of action for a while following health issues, so it was great to meet up again and catch up with everyone’s news. 

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Happy campers Jenny, Pamela, Don, Geoff, Robin and Eileen

Plates full of Big Breakfasts, Salmon Quiche and Corn Fritters were delivered to our table.  Followed by coffees, of course.  The heavens opened up while we were enjoying our lunch, the rain hammered on the roof, and the temperature dropped dramatically.  Living as we do now  in sunny Levin, we had forgotten how much cooler the Hutt Valley could be and we  hadn’t bothered to bring an extra layer of clothing with us.  After a very long lunch indeed (we had a lot to talk about) we noticed that the café had emptied out and it was probably time to go to our respective homes.

Driving home around the Pauatahanui  Inlet there was a new road of a different kind being constructed.  Actually, it was a road for feet, walkers, joggers, and cyclists – an extension of the walkway around the inlet.  Known as Te Ara Piko, the Wandering Path, the walkway is a Rotary Club of Plimmerton project with support from the Porirua City Council.
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Extending Te Ara Piko, the Wandering Path around the inlet

Traffic slowed right down as we drove north along SH1 and we soon discovered why.  A trailer carrying a digger had flipped over on  the Plimmerton roundabout.   We slowly drove past the trailer on it’s side, with a large crane in attendance to put things right.  Oh dear, there is always something happening on the roads.

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Yet another roll over at the Plimmerton roundabout

And we can’t drive along the coast line without another photo of Kapiti island, can we.  There it is, looking a bit moody under the clouds.

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Kapiti Island

Our trip down to the Hutt Valley has been very interesting.  We’ve travelled along a new stretch of roading, seen some interesting sights and enjoyed a nice lunch with friends.  Its been a great day.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Time for the annual Flu Jab

It’s been a busy day today – we had a couple of appointments up town.  And during a visit to the local health centre I spotted a notice saying that the flu vaccine was available.  The nurse had free spaces available – we could get ours right away, we were told.  And why not – that would save another visit back.

So it was just a matter of filling out the consent form, answering a couple of questions, and the nurse administered our flu jabs.  And it didn’t hurt a bit.    It’s good to know that not only will we be protected, we are also helping to stop the spread of flu.

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming season.  Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses.  Influenza can be a serious illness that is sometimes fatal or may lead to a stay in hospital for any age group but particularly if you are elderly or have an ongoing medical condition.  Here in New Zealand the flu vaccine is provided free of charge to those over 65, or others with a chronic health problem.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Anyone for Eels?

It’s Sunday morning here and that only means one thing – bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Cooking Sunday breakfast is Robin’s job and bacon and eggs it usually is, with a cooked tomatoe on the side for me.  I asked him today just how many Sunday breakfasts he thought he had cooked over the years.  Who knows – but they have all been delicious!

Yesterday a group of keen Menz Shedders and any interested spouses gathered in the rain outside the Levin Eel Trading factory.  I can remember eating smoked eel at a rather posh restaurant many years ago, so have long been interested to visit this local business.  We were welcomed by the company founder Mark who told us all about the processes involved.

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Levin Eel Trading’s contracts fishermen to catch the eels from rivers and lakes throughout the North Island and top half of the South Island. The eels are then transported live back to the factory using purpose built trucks.

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A truck full of live eels

Mark built his factory to his own design and utilises gravity to pipe water from one level to the next.  We watched as the eels were unloaded from the truck and entered the tanks through large pipes.

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Here come the eels

The tanks appears to be boiling with writhing eels, but it is not the eels making all that disturbance.  The water is aerated which makes all the movement and the eels slowly move around the tanks.

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Tanks full of eels

There are two species of freshwater eels in New Zealand – the short fin eel  and the long fin eel  The longfin eel is native to New Zealand, whilst the short fin eel is also found in South Australia, Tasmania and New Caledonia.   New Zealand freshwater eels are managed through the New Zealand Quota Management System to ensure a sustainable future.  The nets are fitted out with escape vents for eels under 300g to remain in the water and larger eels over 4kg are returned to the water for breeding.  The eels only breed once in their lives and these larger eels can contain millions of eggs – we didn’t know that.

Mark explained that most of the catch is exported live (chilled) to markets throughout Asia, Europe and North America.  All frozen products are blast frozen at -30°C before being stored at -20°C.  The smoked eel fillets are manuka hot-smoked with brown sugar brine and salt.  This was what I was after and gladly purchased some to take home with me.  Plus a little smoked salmon too, I didn’t know they sold that as well.

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Yummy – smoked eel and salmon

Like most Kiwi boys, Robin has caught his share of eels as a lad.  Cooked and ate them too.  But those days are long gone and he wants nothing to do with our purchase of smoked eel.  What a shame – I’ll have to eat it all by myself!