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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Work in the Village Continues

Installing Ultra Fast Broadband in our village has been a long drawn out affair.  The workmen come and work for a few hours, then go away again for a while.  Things have been slowly happening and the men are happy to tell us what they are doing.  The large connector box in our front lawn has finally been all wired up and put in place.  With the hot sun beating down, this bloke really needed the shelter of the large umbrella as he connected the fine strands of fibre one by one to individual plates.  One for each household, he told us.

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Then we heard tap, tap, tap one day and went out to find a couple of workmen tapping asphalt down covering the wires laid in the tiny narrow grooves.  Seemed a very slow process – and not a comfortable one but the look of it.

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Things really moved ahead this week and it was time for the larger areas cut out beside the road way to be repaired.  Right outside our home so I was out with the camera recording progress.  Just as well the workmen were a friendly bunch and happy to chat.  The contents of this little tanker are sprayed onto the bare dirt and gives the ashphalt a base to adhere to.

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Then a larger tanker trundled in, and the hot ashphalt was barrowed over to the hole.  Why use a barrow?  Much easier to control than putting the product in with a hose from the tanker on these small jobs, I was told.

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And how about this cute little roller?

This was soon completed, and they packed up and went on to another job.  The only thing needing doing now is repair the lawns and gardens and to bring in a concrete mixer in to repair several areas in  the concrete footpaths which have been cut and pieces removed to lay the fibre.  Hopefully these repairs won’t be too far away.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Family at the Farm

We took our trailer for a ride to Kiwitea on Sunday and donated it to son-in-law Robert.  With a much smaller section and a caretaker to attend to the lawns, there is no use for it where we now live, and nowhere to store it.  But it was extremely useful when we moved up here  about four years ago, (where has all the time gone!)  We took load after load of belongings to the storage lock-up before our new home was built.  And just as many loads to the rubbish dump, with one or two loads of donations going to the Hospice Shop.  Then, when we finally moved in, after living in the caravan for three months, the trailer had been parked up at Robin’s brother’s home, tucked behind his garage.  It was finally time to retrieve it and rather than try to sell it on-line, we gave to to Robert.  He was delighted to take it off our hands,  and already has plans for it’s use in his smallholders contracting business.

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Goodbye to our trailer

Daughter Nicky is very creative and showed me some climbing frames she had made for her garden out of bamboo.  And for lunch she had arranged a very tasty platter of all sorts of delights, including home made hummus.

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Nicky’s cottage garden and lunch platter

After lunch the plaintive cries of “Nana, come and look at Fire Dancer” led us outside to admire the horses.  Emma was feeding carrots to Sonata and her foal Fire Dancer.  Both horses have pink skinned noses and the covers over their noses protect them from sunburn.

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Sonata, Fire Dancer and Emma

Megan’s horse Levi is much taller, and was not well looked after by a previous owner.  But he now has a good life and receives the best of care from Megan.  Both girls and their Dad ride their horses in events and shows.

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Megan with Levi

Robert had some lambs to shear and being townies, we found this fascinating.  First, grab your lamb, sit it on it’s rump between your legs, and then start shearing, deftly flipping it over as you go.  It certainly looks back breaking work – we were tired just watching!  Meanwhile, the sheep are huddled up in the corner, wondering who will be the next one to be grabbed by that mad man with the clippers.

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Robert shearing the lambs

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Grand-daughter Megan was the “rousie” (Rouseabout) filling the wool bag

After all that excitement the sheep and lambs  were then moved to rest and recover amongst the lush grass in the orchard.  They won’t be there too long, as several of them will be travelling to the meat works the next day.

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Happy sheep once again

Later in the afternoon we said our goodbyes, and I was delighted to take home a bunch of freshly picked flowers from the garden.  We headed on our way, driving through the town of Feilding and past the imposing clock tower.  Originally part of the old Post Office which was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1942, the clock workings then remained in storage for 56 years.  It was finally restored as a Millennium project, the clock was unpacked and re-assembled, and construction began on the free standing heritage style tower.  With time ticking down the top section and copper coated dome was lifted into position on 4th December 1999. And the locals celebrated in the square as the clock struck midnight to welcome in the new century.

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Feilding clock tower

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Back over the Hill again

After enjoying a weekend “over the hill” in the Wairarapa, we returned again on Tuesday.  This time we went to Featherston to meet up with our SLG friends.  For this trip we took the southern option, driving down through Kapiti, over the Haywards Hill,  through Upper Hutt and over the Rimutaka Hill.  And we reflected on how much easier traveling would be with the construction of a road tunnel going straight through from Levin to the Wairarapa – not that that is likely to happen.

It’s the early colonial days, the Rimutaka Hill Road was a mere bullock cart track, and took a couple of days to negotiate.  These days of course, the road is not too bad, and there seems to be ongoing improvements to knock out some of the corners.  And for the faint hearted, it pays not to look down at the steep drop over the side, and watch out for all those large trucks which hurtle towards you.

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Lots of wiggly corners on this road

We arrived in Featherston and enjoyed a leisurely cuppa and a lot of chatter with our friends.  There is always plenty to talk about when we get together.  Les had arranged for us to go out to lunch at the Clareville Bakery.  That name sounded familiar – didn’t we pop in just a few days ago to buy some fresh  bread and pastries? There was a lovely display of flowers outside.  Pretty window boxes full of flowers and gorgeous yellow lilies in bloom.

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Once inside we were shown to our table and pondered  the menu.  Mmm, all sorts of yummy choices on offer, something for everyone.  It was interesting to read the history of this lovely old building, which started out like as a Chapel and Sunday School.

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As expected we all enjoyed our meals, with some (not us this time) going back for big squishy custard squares.   Clareville Bakery won the award for “Best Rural Café of the Year for 2017” – congratulations!!

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We’re all looking rather well fed

Who would expect to see a yurt tucked behind the Nirvana gift shop in Greytown?  That’s certainly not something you see every day.  The circular yurt is lined with silk, with an attached amenities block and will be available as a B&B, we were told.  Just a shame that we couldn’t have a peep inside.

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The Greytown Yurt

After another cuppa back at the home of Anne and Les, we said our goodbyes and headed for home.  The roadworks had finished for the day on the Rimutaka Hill, and the big machines had been taken down from their precarious position where they had been slicing away the corner, so there was no hold-up on our return journey.

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Road works on Rimutaka Hill

We retraced our journey over Haywards Hill, to rejoin the streams of traffic on SH1 at Plimmerton,  all returning home after work.  And yes, I did manage to take another quick photo of  Kapiti Island as we drove along the coast.  Isn’t it lovely!

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Kapiti Island

Another lovely day with our SLG friends.  We will be hosting the next one, in just a couple of week’s time, and it will be our pre-Christmas get-together.  So they will all have to journey up to our neck of the woods next time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

On the go at Clareville

With the hot sunny Clareville weather we experienced for the first day or two over the weekend we were seeking out shade for our 4zees.  The duck pond looked a picture and you can just see our vans peeping  through the trees.

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Over the next few days  it was quite a different story - we were all rugged up with jackets and jerseys to keep us warm as we sat outside.  Fortunately we had the use of an upstairs meeting room as well, which gave us good views of the horse events taking place on the show-grounds.  We watched how the riders took their steeds slowly around the various rings to warm up.  Later in the weekend a rider was whisked away in an ambulance when her horse failed to take the jump correctly.  Our two grand-daughters do this sport, so we know how often the riders get injured. 

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Daughter Nicky recommended the nearby Clareville bakery, so we popped in to have a look.  Just as well we weren’t after any lunch as all the tables were full, with even more customers arriving.  We bought some freshly baked bread and a couple of plum pastries and took them back to camp to enjoy in the caravan.

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Then on Saturday afternoon our Rally Family had arranged afternoon tea (at a different café), and a garden walk for those who would be interested.  Half of our group were keen gardeners so off they went to check out the garden, while the rest of us sat and chatted over our leisurely afternoon tea.  Also on offer was a look around the extensive Christmas Shop – much more to my liking.

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Robin provided the entertainment on Saturday evening with a slide show about our recent trips onboard the vintage rail cars in outback Australia - the Gulflander and the Savannahlander.  Hopefully our caravan club buddies enjoyed the evening – I know we certainly enjoyed reliving our trip.  Many thanks to Selwyn for the use of his projector.

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The weather on Sunday was wet and drizzly, so everyone had wet awning to dry out when they returned home.  Some of us stayed on for lunch, we did the final packing and off we went.  It was a drizzly, dreary day on the Wairarapa side of the Tararura Ranges.

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But as often happens, the weather was completely different on the other side of the ranges.  We arrived back to Levin to brilliant sunshine, and hot temperatures.

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All in all - another great caravan weekend away, even better for taking an extra day and making it a three day weekend.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Weekend at Clareville

Home a mere week – and it’s time to hitch up the caravan and take to the road again.  We were off to a weekend caravan rally at Clareville, in the Wararapa.  As the crows fly, this doesn’t seem too far – but with the Tararua Ranges slap bang in the middle, it is a good two hour drive whether we drive south to cross over the Rimutaka Hill, or north and use the Pahiatua Track.  North it was, and off we went, deciding to leave a day early, on Thursday morning. 

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Driving over the Pahiatua Track

With the indefinite closure of the Manawatu Gorge, traffic is now much heavier on this narrow, winding road, and we had a couple of scary times with large trucks whizzing around the corners towards us.  But eventually we arrived at Clareville A & P Showgrounds to stay in the motor camp. 

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We were the first to arrive, and one by one, other happy campers from our club trickled in.  All with the same idea, to add an extra day onto our weekend.  And why not, that’s the beauty of being retired.

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Early bird campers on Thursday

The ducks from the nearby duck pond kept us entertained, and they wandered around happily quacking.  Perhaps they were hopeful of a hand out for a snack?

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Ducks in the camp grounds

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Pretty duck pond

With the hot Wairarapa sunshine beating down we gathered in the shade for 4zees, and caught up with everyone’s news.  Several decided to go to have an easy evening meal and went up town for fish and chips.  Robin got the Weber our and cooked our sausage patties on that – such lovely BBQ smells wafting in the early evening air.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Railcar Trip to Pahiatua

What a great way to spend a few hours on Sunday - taking a vintage railcar trip from Palmerston North to Pahiatua through the Manawatu Gorge.  This fun trip (one of many ran over the weekend) was full of our Probus Club members and we pooled cars and drove up to Palmerston North Railway Station.   And there it is, all ready and waiting for us.

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Waiting at Palmerston North Station

We soon boarded RM31, and sat down to enjoy the journey in the nice comfy seats.  Robin went up the front to check out the controls.  Before too long the carriage was full and we were on our way.

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The refurbished interior

Robin was wearing his “Savannahlander” cap and tee shirt and a couple of volunteers came to talk about this Aussie iconic railcar trip.  The railcar took us past farmland dotted with stock.  Horses, sheep, cattle, even some alpacas looked up from their grazing to watch the railcar whizz by.

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The rain was lashing down as we traveled through the Manawatu Gorge, looking over to the road which has been closed since April.  The Manawatu Gorge road is likely to be remain closed for some time due to fresh fears about another major slip.   The Transport Agency said a large area above the Kerry's Wall rock face was highly unstable, and it had since  removed all contractors from working there. 

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The slip in the Manawatu Gorge. Photo: NZTA

We arrived at Pahiatua and were given a tour through the workshops.  The Pahiatua Railcar Society (PRS) is  dedicated to the restoration of railcars and other locomotives and rolling stock formerly operated by the New Zealand Railways Department. It has the sole remaining examples of the RM class 88 seater and Wairarapa railcars.  We were told of the innumerable hours of work the volunteers undertake to restore these vintage treasures and the efforts to obtain funding.

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Then we were taken into another workshop and it was explained that the two units being worked on are two halves of a railcar.  We could appreciate how these restoration jobs take so many years as they are painstakingly rebuilt piece by piece. Such dedication from the members, and excursions like those held over the weekend put some extra funds into the coffers.

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There's our railcar waiting to take us back again.  We appreciated the request for passengers to swap sides,  as we would get a much better view of the gorge on the return journey – there were too many heads in the way to get good pictures previously.

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The railway tracks are on one side of the gorge, and we looked over at the road propped up on pillars. The road is eerily quiet with no traffic at all for the foreseeable future.

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Views of the Manawatu Gorge road

For whatever reason, the return journey always seems much quicker – I’m sure there is an explanation for that. We thanked the organizer, hopped into the car and drove back to Levin.   We had a great time – what can be better than riding the rails on a Sunday afternoon!

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