Home again

1 September 2019

I’m sitting here in the New Plymouth’s not-so international airport. It’s basically one building, that’s almost one room, but it does the job. The bad part is that it means that we’re about to leave New Plymouth. In about 2.5 hours. We got here early enough so that we didn’t have to panic and could have lunch in the café here. I wonder if Jim Hickey still owns it.

I got woken up at 3am with D.C. trying to find the light switch to the bathroom. I asked her if she was okay, but I don’t think she heard me. Next thing I heard was a bang. So I put my slippers on and went to see if she was okay. She was sitting on the floor of the shower. Being half asleep, coupled with not being able to find the lights, coupled with the slope oof the floor meant that she lost her balance. She was fine, but had bumped her head on the fold down seat, which had folded down when she fell. Once she was back on her feet, I left her to it.

And then had to use the facilities myself. And couldn’t really get back to sleep.

I woke up again at 6.30 and stayed in bed until 6.50 when I got up and had a shower, leaving D.C sitting up in bed, dozing. She was reading when I’d finished the shower. She then went and had a shower of her own, and I packed away my PJs. I then looked out the window, looking south.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. So I grabbed my camera, Kally, hat and gloves (it was warm enough to not worry about a jacket, but I thought it could be chilly on top of the hill), told D.C. that I was heading back up Marsland Hill, and took off.

It was warmer than yesterday, which I think must have been the coldest day we’d had so far, and I hardly saw anyone. Of course, I had to get photos of the White Hart Hotel…

Then I got to where you turn off Robe Street and take the path up Marsland Hill. Somewhere around here, if the clouds were willing, it was possible to get to see the first glimpse of Mt Taranaki. But I couldn’t see it for that roof in the way…

It wasn’t a roof.

It was something else conical shaped.

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So I pounded up the hill and emerged at the top of the path.

Not a cloud.

I’d told myself that I’d only take one photograph and then return to the motel…

Yeah. Right.

I was also only going to stay at the top of the hill, and not go behind the observatory again, but, obviously, I didn’t stick to that resolution either. But I didn’t take Kally out of her bear bag, so she had to enjoy the view from my belt.

I was going to walk back down, but decided to read about the Carillion. I then stopped the name Bernard Aris. Now Bernard Aris (we haven’t worked out how to pronounce his last name) was a painter and Uncle Fred has a painting of his. He also designed a book plate for Uncle Fred. I discovered, as I read, that he’d also been the patron of the New Plymouth Observatory, and that there was a seat dedicated to him.

I had to find that seat. It was the one that Kally had toppled over on yesterday. I haven’t downloaded today’s photos of the seat yet as the computer decided not to let me do it – possibly because it’s run out of hard drive space. I’m going to have to have a major clean out when I get home. Starting with all the photos of this trip.

I walked back down the hill, with a detour to get a photo of the grave of the bloke who’d been friends with Keats. The return journey (also with more photos of the White Hart) took me:

943 steps, 0.61km, 8 minutes, I burned 36 kcal, 12’45” average pace, and my heartrate was 199bpm.

I made it back just as D.C. had started her breakfast. She’s got a big red mark down her back, which she wasn’t aware of until I photographed it, that looks like it’s the result of last night’s mishap. She also managed to split her thumbnail about 5mm vertically.

We had breakfast (including some left over Turkish garlic bread and baklava) and finished packing up and checking everywhere.

With nothing else to do, and the shuttle (Scott’s Shuttle!) coming to pick us up just after 10, we checked in our key and the review of the motel. (Lower the cupboards and the microwave bay so that shorties can reach them and you’re not cooking your head; and have an extra towel rail in the bathroom, so that one towel isn’t hanging over the top of the other person’s.)

We then decided to go an sit in the sun. It was a chance to dry the toes of my shoes. They got wet walking through the grass on Marsland Hill. I had dried them with the hairdryer, but not totally. We had a chat with a gentleman who’d come out to enjoy a mandarin and then the shuttle arrived with Ian at the wheel again.

There was already a lady on board, sitting behind the driver’s seat, so I sat behind D.C. (who scored the front seat) for what was an easy trip to the airport. We’re still trying to work out why the sign at the end of the road, on the state highway, points to New Plymouth in one direction and Hamilton in the other.

We checked our suitcases in and got our boarding passes, and then read and wrote until 11.40. Then we had lunch – D.C. a beef and mushroom pie, me a roast vegetable and feta frittata. And, of course, we both had hot chocolates. We’ll have to stop this. The Chaos Café had an old set of scales in their ladies’ restroom so I got onto them. Fortunately, I didn’t need to use the penny hanging on my camera strap as a tripod unscrewer. Unfortunately, it told me that I was 8st 7lb. I had to put that into the converter on my tablet to work out what that was in metric. D.C. was 10 & a half stone. Of course, this was with our clothes on… and before having an Aztec hot chocolate and a Santé bar.

It’s really clouded over now, so I think I was lucky to see Mt Taranaki this morning. There were no clouds around it, just around the older extinct volcanoes.

One thing that I learnt at Puke Ariki, (that I had already seen on YouTube), is that Mt Taranaki is the latest in a range of volcanic eruptions (the Sugarloaf islands and Paritutu Rock are the remains of very early volcanic cones). The vent would erupt, form a mountain, and then collapse before, millennia later, the next eruption would occur. What I want to know is: how long did the collapses take – instantaneous, or over centuries? Also, why is everyone worried about Mt Taranaki erupting again (it’s overdue) and not collapsing? I must email Geonet and ask.

I’m sitting here in the window of the café in the New Plymouth airport at 12.25pm, and I think I’ve written everything I planned to. See you this evening…


… Right, so we’re now at Auckland Airport. It was a good flight, left about ten minutes late, but that’s nothing. The take off was point the nose at the sky and let rip, but the landing was smooth.

We spent part of the time in New Plymouth Airport talking to the lady we’d shared the shuttle with. She’s off to Oz to spend a month with her friend.

Opposite us in the airport and the aeroplane was a mother with her baby. We now know how they restrain babies. They have their own safety harness, with the same buckle arrangement as everyone else, but which has an attached loop that goes through mum’s safety harness. It was a very well behaved baby, as mum had sense to breast feed it throughout the flight – keeping it occupied and sucking to prevent pressure build up. It was probably a little unnerving for the man, a stranger, next to her, but better than a bawling baby in your ear.

We were the last ones off the aeroplane, which mean I was able to snap some quick photos of the craft – once I was off the tarmac.

Our bags were almost the first onto the conveyor belt, so I left D.C. minding our luggage and went and grabbed them both. Then we found another place to sit, somewhere a little less hectic, and sat and read (and wrote) for half an hour…


… In Denny’s in Auckland, waiting for something to eat before we head over the road to catch the bus at 6.00pm. This isn’t as flash as some of the places we’ve been eating, but it’s edible… Except that we just find something that we like, and they discontinue it.


… It was a good trip home. I listened to RNZ’s Kakapo Diaries podcasts about this year’s bumper breeding season of New Zealand’s “Owl Parrot”. I’m learning a lot of interesting stuff about Kakapo sex. As there were only 147 adults at the beginning of the season, clearly they weren’t getting enough. Now there are over 200 adults and I hope that number continues to grow.

We walked home from the bus stop at the i-SITE, and entered the house. The first thing I had to do was turn off the security alarm.

Do you think I could do this? I entered the code over and over again. I used the alarm key to turn it off over and over again. And it would not turn off. So we ended up that I kept the alarm key with me and wandered through the house, waving at all the sensors, until the alarm finally went off and I turned it off.

Highly effective, isn’t it?

It was while we were doing this wander that we realised that the door from the room that’s the entrance to the house through to the next was wide open. I had made a point of shutting it before we left last Saturday. Also my bedroom door was wide open – more open than I would open it if I were in there. And, last week, I’d also made a point of wandering through the house to ensure that every door was tightly closed.

We’ve often thought that we had a ghost, but “Humphry” tends to take red objects, not leave doors open.

Our house is old and wooden, so we always, not only close all doors as fire/smoke breaks, but unplug all electrical appliances and ensure that everything is turned off – including the powered fibre telephone/Internet connection.

Concerned about the doors, I plugged the phone back in and rang our neighbours. The security company had just been ringing them because they couldn’t get us. (Because the phone was unplugged.) They’d also been called by the security company last Sunday evening at 11pm. Right before the VOLUNTEER fire brigade was called out. Our neighbours, being rightly unwilling to wander through our house when there could be a fire or something else, let the fire brigade use our keys to check that all was well. (Unfortunately, they left the two doors open.)

So I’ve spent the evening writing an angry email to Chubb demanding that they attempt to fix this system AGAIN (they’ve been back several times); and that if they can’t, they do something that won’t cost us money. I should have been free to upload photographs instead.

And no, it wasn’t insect activity that had set off the smoke alarm. I’d dusted the entire area around the problematic sensor an hour before we left on the Saturday. Then I sprayed the duster with fly spray and dusted again. Then I carried a daddy-longlegs spider outside. There was no way that insect/spider activity should set the alarm off 36 hours after that.

Anyway, as a last point of interested. Today I travelled hundreds of kilometres… and only walked 7344 steps – most of those up a hill to see a mountain.

See you next time. Whenever that is.

When I upload the rest of the photos, I guess.



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