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Sunday, February 27, 2022

Memorial Service

We drove up to Hawkes Bay to attend the Memorial Service for my elder sister Kathleen, who passed away last August when Covid rules made numbers attending funerals severely restricted.  Her family decided to wait a while and hold her memorial later when more people could attend.


The two of us were born 15 months apart, so we spent a lot of time together, particularly in those early years.  When I was making notes of what I wanted to say at the service, I realised that I would be the only one present who had known her as a young child.  (Our elder brother lives in Australia, and younger sister Karla was born when I was 11 years old).  What to talk about?  My first memory at three years old when we came in a big truck on a wet stormy day to arrive at our new home, unfurnished and bare floors, and the pair of us happily running around the empty house looking for our new bedroom.  Then the fun times we shared, going to the Saturday afternoon picture (movies) together, and going roller skating on our brand new strap over the shoes skates.  How I longed for a pair of those white boots with skates attached, but to tell the truth I was not much good at all at skating so they would have been wasted on me.  Kathleen however, was so much better at skating than I was.  I completed my memories with a quote I had found which said: “Sisters are different flowers from the same garden”, so true.


Remembering happy times together

At the conclusion of the service we all shared a  nice lunch, and chatted to the other guests.  I was amazed at several ladies who said my voice sounds so much like Kathleen’s did, I wasn’t aware of that.  And her grandson Adam asked if he could have a hug as I look so much like his Nana.  We certainly didn't look alike in younger years, but seemed to as we both got older.

The service was held in a theatre, which, as I found out, Kathleen used to sew costumes for in earlier years.  There was a pair of rather posh chairs against the wall, obviously props, and they looked just like a pair of thrones.  So we tried them out for size, trying to look suitably regal.


King and Queen of nowhere

Kathleen’s family and husband wanted to spend the rest of the day together, so we will catch up with them again before we go back home.  It was a typically hot Hawkes bay summer’s day, so there was nothing for it, we had to visit Silky Oak Chocolates and indulge in an Iced Chocolate each.  Don’t worry about the calories, we decided, just enjoy the day!

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Iced Chocolate at Silky Oak Café

Gemma is doing her impression of a ‘chilled out” caravan cat.  Who knows what she may see while looking out the window?  Birds perhaps, maybe a dog or two, hopefully an a lead as they should be at camps.


Plenty to see out this window

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Back at my Sewing Machine

As much as I enjoyed our three weeks away in the caravan, it’s always great to come home again.  I had some sewing to catch up on, stitching teal/aqua blocks for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) projects.  So let’s see what I’ve been up to over the last couple of days.  First up was to make a teal string block – these string blocks were carried over from last year, so I already have some of the colours stitched.  I must admit I rather like them made in shades of one colour, rather than using multiple colours in each block.  Then, you may remember, I have a bunch of boy’s themed 5 inch  squares and decided I would take my time with these and just frame them when the monthly colours are announced.  Last month I made a couple of these blocks using red.  Other bloggers call these Happy Blocks, and I rather like that name too.


String block and Happy block

Next up were some blocks using some of the butterfly fabric I was gifted when my neighbour went into care.  She was very fond of butterflies and had accumulated quite a collection in all sorts of colours.  I’m making these little blocks using up some strips of multi hued butterflies on a white background, adding the centre crosses in the nominated colour each month.


Two more of these

Then I started a new butterfly project, making Puss in the Corner blocks.  (I couldn't start these easy blocks last month as I had no red butterflies in the bag full of fabric).  I’m not too sure if I’ll use the very dark block, I’ll wait and see how it looks at the end of the year when I have stitched all the other colours.


Puss in the Corner blocks

I’m also cutting a 6 inch square from each of the butterfly fabrics and plan to make a raggy quilt sometime in the future -  just planning ahead.

Here’s Gemma relaxing in her tunnel, looks like she is happy to be home again too. 


Gemma snoozing in her tunnel

Friday, February 18, 2022

Last few Days of our Trip

Our holiday was coming to an end.  Driving on to Feilding we caught part of Cyclone Dovi as it was passing by.  It poured all the way down to our next stop, but luckily we missed the wind while traveling.  Always a worry when towing a caravan in high winds.  We stayed the next two nights at the Coach House Museum.  Even though we had been there recently, it certainly was worth another visit.  As we entered the museum, we experienced New Zealand as it used to be, when the settlers arrived.  Dense forests full of birdlife, which had to be cleared for the settlers to make a living.  It was a hard physical life indeed back in those days.


Back in the old days

I loved the look of the smaller dainty gigs, and could imagine the well-to-do going out to church on a Sunday.  Once all the weekday chores were done, of course.  Or maybe it was the early version of the gentry who had these small carriages, perhaps the workers had to make do with their lumbering carts.


A line up of gigs


Just look at these two dollies sitting up in their beautifully made wooden high chairs.

While we were in Feilding we called around to see the family, and all went out to dinner at nearby Kimbolton for wood fired pizzas.  So tasty and delicious, but we were so busy chatting I forgot to take any photos.  But I did get a snap of a sculpture of a  Haast Eagle, now extinct – this was rather special as it was constructed of horse shoes and old tools.  Very clever indeed.  Check out that tail, amazing!



Sculpture of Haast Eagle

Before we knew it, the last two days of the rally were here, and we drove down to Nga Manu Reserve to stay at the sanctuary. As we were traveling with our cat, we had to stay outside the sanctuary grounds because of the precious native birds inside – we were happy to follow the rules.  The other motor homes parked up inside the gates in the large car park.  Most of us walked through the sanctuary to see what we could see, some of the birds were rather shy and elusive.  But I managed to spot a tuatara sunning himself, this is our country’s own living fossil, and this species was around in the time of the dinosaurs.  They can live up to 120 years. 


Can you spot the tuatara in front of the rock?

I was keen to walk up to the lookout, and I’m pleased I managed to climb the stairs without too much trouble, just taking things slowly.   The view from the top of the lookout was amazing, all that wonderful preserved  forest in the sanctuary grounds, with suburbia not too far away.


Up on the lookout

We were all looking forward to the Farewell Dinner, catered by Relish of Waikanae.  As there were minimal kitchen facilities available in the hall, the caterers brought in all the prepared food from their restaurant.  And what a feast it was, hot ham, roast veggies, cold cuts and salads, followed by a selection of lovely desserts, no one went hungry, I’m sure.


Who doesn’t enjoy dessert?

Our three week rally has come to an end, and we made our way home.  What a time we had, staying at new to us places, all sorts of interesting excursions, lovely hot weather to start, cold stormy weather, then back to sunshine again.  My favourites of the trip was the visit to the Elvis Presley Museum, and our day out on the double decker bus.  It certainly was a fun trip.  Now we are back home, I can hear my sewing machine calling me “hurry up, I’ve missed you”.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Still Tripping Around

We're making the most of the sunshine, and what better way to do that than indulge in a huge raspberry snow freeze waffle cone ice-cream.  Made with fresh fruit grown at Windermere Gardens in Wanganui, and enjoyed while sitting in the café there.  I didn't manage to consume it all before it started melting and dripped down the front of my top, but that’s not an unusual occurrence for me.


Yummy ice-cream

So, what else have we been doing?  We had a great day out on a big red double decker bus the other day.  We don't see many of these in New Zealand.  First in, best seated, as the early birds climbed up the narrow stairs to the top deck.  Robin was tasked with ringing the bell at the rear of the bus, ding, ding, I’m sure he felt just like one of those characters on the long running series “On the Buses”.  But his most important job was to make sure no one from upstairs tripped and fell down the stairs and out the back entrance!  I kid you not, this bus did not have a back door so was open to the elements.


All aboard!

Our first stop of the day was to the beautiful Putiki Anglican Church.  Although sporting a relatively plain and modest exterior, stepping inside is full of Maori carvings, woven panels, and painted kowhiwhai panels.  No photos were to be taken inside, but take my word for it, the interior was breathtaking.  The work was overseen by Apirana Ngata, who led the Maori Art and Crafts School in Rotorua.  He agreed to bring his team of tutors and student carvers to Wanganui over a two year period.  Four local women were sent to Wellington to learn how to weave the tukutuku panels, and shared their knowledge with other local weavers.  All the timber has been richly carved with only the pews left plain.  The people were told “We will carve you the most beautiful church you have ever seen”, and they certainly did.


Putiki Church in Wanganui

Back in the bus again and it slowly ground it’s way up Durie Hill, puffing diesel fumes onto the following cars.  But never mind, this bus in aa good age, after all. Some of us took the opportunity to ride the  Durie Hill Elevator,  built in 1919.  This is the only public transport elevator in the country and is still used daily by locals and visitors.  At $2.00  a ride it seemed a bargain and I followed a little later with Scotty.  The other passenger on board kindly took our photo, Scotty, me, and the young elevator operator.  After our ride down we walked through the long, rather ghostly tunnel to finally reach the street.


Going down.

We waited on the footpath at the bottom for the bus to drive back down the hill and collect us.  But……. it drove straight past, with the others on board waving out the windows.  Seems Neville had forgotten all about us, drove over the river, then had to do a U turn and make his way back to collect  the missing passengers!

We had a great lunch out at St John’s Club in town, my scallop wee delicious.  Then bus driver Neville took us on a tour around Wanganui, through the town centre, out to the beach, then back to camp.  I had climbed up the steep narrow stairs of the bus for the ride back to camp, and can attest that every little bump in the road is definitely magnified ten-fold upstairs!  What a great day, thoroughly enjoyed by all.


Scallops for my lunch

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

All Shook Up

These has been plenty of things planned for our ICA Rally while we have been touring around.  And today was one such outing that I have been so looking forward to.  A visit to K D’s Elvis Presley Museum in Hawera.  K D Wasley has been an avid collector of Elvis Presley records and memorabilia since the 1950s.  This was a real treat, and something I had been looking forward to with great anticipation.  I’ve been an Elvis fan ever since I heard him sing Love me Tender, when I was a young girl. 


We were warmly welcomed as we stepped inside, Elvis was singing on the TV and there were items to look at everywhere.  Such as a gold lame jacket, records, magazines, ornaments, toy pink Cadillac's, everywhere you looked there was something or other which screamed Elvis. The Music Room out the back was crammed full of records, pictures, and all sorts of memorabilia,  and we were intrigued by the replica gold records on display – 24ct  gold plated we were proudly told.


Plenty of gold on show

There was a picture showing the rustic little house where Elvis was born.  It was interesting seeing the difference between this, and the grandeur of Graceland's. I would have so loved to have a visit there, but I guess with Covid and the way of the world that’s not likely to happen now.


Beautiful poster of Gracelands

So there I was, surrounded by Elvis memorabilia, watching him on the TV screen as he performed his songs.  I was in seventh heaven!


My hero

Have you ever heard of the secret visit of Elvis to Rotorua in 1960?  And the stamp made to commemorate the visit?  I hadn't either.  It must be a hoax, we decided, especially since New Zealand didn't have decimal coinage back then.  Still, a great talking point in the museum.


Fake news

So what else has been happening?  Mt Taranaki (Egmont) was looking wonderful in the morning.  Peeping through the clouds at us, dark and brooding, without a spot of snow on the slopes.  There’s certainly something majestic about a mountain, isn't there.


Mt Taranaki in the morning

As for Gemma, in all honesty, I have to admit that she is not an Elvis fan.  As far as she is concerned, it’s all about her.  Here she is, all tucked up in the caravan, behind the bathroom curtain on the vanity unit.  No doubt she’s having a rest from looking out the window at the birds.


Gemma is resting once again

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

More travels, and a museum visit

Here we are, still on our ICA (International Caravan Assoc) trip.  After a week or so of gloriously hot weather, we had days of torrential rain.  The weather forecast promised us rain and colder temperatures, and it wasn’t wrong.  Just a bit of a shock after all that really hot weather we had been enjoying.  Sunday morning was time to move on, and I must admit that some of our group with bigger motorhomes were rather worried, as we were parked up on rather sodden ground.  Only one motorhome needed help in the end, and Robin was happy and our 4WD, together with the blue recovery strop  into action to pull David and Pamela’s motorhome off the grass.   Our stop for the next three days was the Hawera A&P Showgrounds.

The rain had eased off the next morning and we all went to the Tawhiti Museum.  Widely acclaimed as the best private museum in the country, the museum uses life size exhibits and scale models in a series of realistic and engaging displays.  All these displays are designed and built on the premises by Nigel Ogle.  Firstly we started off looking through the Traders and Whalers exhibition.  We stepped into a boat which took us gently around, showing tableaus of  traders selling muskets for food and flax, life in Maori villages, and flash, bang, watch out!  We were caught up between warring parties as muskets nearly blew our heads off.  No photos were allowed to be taken on our boat ride.


Local Maori people trading with the sailors

Then we had a tasty lunch at Mr Badgers Café, and look, there his is, curled up on the fireplace, engrossed in reading his book.  A series of scale models in the café illustrate scenes from Wind in the Willows.


Mr Badger

The main part of the museum was full of displays of the Maori Wars, and early days of the settlers to New Zealand, tools and machinery.  Very interesting, to be sure, but as usual, I gravitated to those displays showing the life of women in those early times.


Mum in the kitchen


Drapers shop

We came across a small shed amongst the other displays..  “Have a look in that door”,  I told Nola, who was beside me, knowing full well what she would find.  Ooops, its a man sitting on the long drop toilet, by the look on his face he seemed to get as much as a surprise as Nola did!


Oh dear, it’s occupied!

We were at the Tawhiti Museum for several hours, but really, there was no way we could do it justice in that time.  But weary backs and knees were telling us it was time to head back to camp.  If you are ever up this way, take our word for it, this is a marvelous place to spend the day.  The rain had cleared, the ground was firm underfoot so we gathered together between a couple of motor-homes for Happy Hour after our time at the museum.


Happy Hour at Hawera

Friday, February 4, 2022

Back in the Old Days

It was all about nostalgia when we visited the Pioneer Village in Stratford.  Set in 10 acres of grounds, there are streets of relocated buildings, cottages, a forge, printing works, library, post office, dentist, doctor, and maybe even a candle-maker was tucked in there somewhere.  Various shops of all kinds and a church. It certainly was interesting seeing how people lived in earlier years.  I loved looking through the cute little cottages, seeing the old textiles, the rag rugs, the kitchen utensils, and how they tackled the laundry. Pretty little Goodwin Cottage was built about 1890.



Lovely old cottage

I trekked up the rise to see some more buildings and was thrilled to discover “Madame de Launay”.  Selling gowns, gloves, and all sorts of interesting haberdashery, it was such a delight to gaze at all those lovely items.



Treasures galore inside Madame de Launay’s shop



More old buildings

Most of us are big kids when it comes to train rides, and we personally are no exception.  Climbing aboard the dinky little train we squeezed into those rather hard seats, and were taken twice around the circuit.  This gave us a good overview of the village, all 10 acres of it.



We enjoyed our train ride

We drove down to Stratford along the aptly named Opunake-Stratford Road, one we hadn’t traveled along before.   It was certainly a little narrow in places, and those pesky wind gusts were a challenge at times.  This road took us up close and personal alongside by Mt Taranaki, also known as Mt Egmont to those of us with long memories.  No snow cap at this time of the year, this is a symmetrical brooding bare volcanic mountain looking down on us, majestic and strong.


Mt Taranaki

Our stay here in Stratford is at the Wharehuia Community Centre, formerly the Stanley Street School, which closed in 2004.  It is great to see these buildings and grounds put to good use, and bring in some cash to keep it funded.  There are magnificent trees in the grounds, native rimu and totara, as well as exotics such as oak and magnolia.  We have the use of the buildings to meet in during the evenings, or as required, if the days turn wet and cold.


Staying at the old school