All photos. Few words.

28 August 2019

Once again, a neighbouring unit kept me awake for an hour or so. D.C. got up at 3.00am to pop next door and when she came back, I became aware of the drone of an extractor fan. There are three switches in the bathroom on the same switch plate: light/extractor fan, light, heater. I didn’t think the drone was loud enough to be coming from our bathroom, but it was loud enough to be irritating. So I got up and checked.

It wasn’t ours.

This meant that, once I’d used the facilities, I couldn’t get back to sleep again until whoever had left their fan going had switched it off.

Then again, we’ve got the heater going at the moment and it’s droning. Maybe our neighbours got cold in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t have thought so. According to TV3 Newshub news, we’ve been having the same weather as Thames.

Today started with a shower. This is a very nice shower, with a large, but soothingly gentle, spray from the shower rose. The rose is detachable, which means that it’s easy to wash the soles of your feet. It’s also a walk-in shower (which is great!), with a curtain surround, and a fold down seat. (Not sure I’d want to put my bare bottom on a wooden seat where someone else has put their bare bottom…)

Anyway, as this is a walk-in shower, there is no shower tray, per se. Instead the entire floor of the room – beneath the shower head, around the toilet, next to the handbasin, from to door – slopes down to a central drainage hole. And it is slightly disconcerting to be standing on one leg washing the sole of your foot, and feeling the world tilt away from you.

Still, it is a very nice shower – with Rosemary, Melissa, Thyme shampoo/conditioner and shower gel.

We were sort of stuck for something to do today. There’s not a lot of touristy stuff in New Plymouth’s CBD to do. We did consider catching a bus out to Sentry Hill to see what remains of Uncle Fred’s houses, but the idea of catching a 40 minute(?) bus ride out to a truck stop, ohing and ahing over the outside of some buildings, and then riding a bus back didn’t really appeal. If we were going to be given a bit of a tour, then yes. But we haven’t contacted them, so we can’t expect that.

So we decided to do one of the heritage walks – tomorrow. You have to book 24 hours in advance, which must work well for the guides as they would be able to plan their days. So we, leaving the rain jacket part of our ski jackets behind, went back to the i-SITE (information centre) in Puke Ariki and booked tickets for 10am, and bought a $10 book.

Did I ever tell you about the time when I was on the committee of our local i-SITE? I came back from lunch one workday and my boss said: “The optometrist rang for you.”

Me: “Optometrist? For me? But I’ve never seen one and I’ve got no plans to.”

Charles: “She said something about eyesight.”

I cracked up.

Anyway, the day wasn’t cold, the skies were clear, but starting to cloud over, and we had several hours to fill – so we decided to do the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.

It was lovely. We started at the underpass by the Len Lye Wind Wand and then headed east-ish. (Apparently, the mythological Mt Taranaki is to the south, so I’m assuming we went east.) The walkway is wide enough to cater for couples walking and chatting, maybe with a myriad of dogs, or perhaps being overtaken by cyclists. Everyone was very friendly and accommodating. We did our best to stick to the left to give everyone else the chance to have plenty of room to overtake us.

We just took it slowly. There were seats dotted all the way along, so we’d walk a couple and then have a sit and admire the view, listen to the surf, and take photos. This meant that we covered 1.5 km in about two hours. That’s how far I walk to work and that takes me 14.5 minutes, so we were really sauntering.

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As it was, we walked the 2 km to the East End (so I guess we were walking east) Life Saving Club, used the public toilets there, then – as there was nowhere where you could purchase food – or anything, turned back for home.

I seem to remember doing the same thing last time.

We started walking about 10am and sat down for lunch at 1.45pm. We had just walked past Puke Ariki when my fitness tracker vibrated that I’d done my 10,000 steps for the day. Overall, I’ve done 13,401.

After being out in the fresh air, listening to the surf, watching the birds, dodging the (infrequent – and so light I didn’t really worry about my camera nor Kally getting wet), and sharing pleasantries with people and dogs, being inside a noisy, artificial, nature excluded shopping centre felt wrong.

But we wanted lunch.

After our pumpkin penne pasta (D.C.) and lemon chicken couscous (me) and carrot/apple/lemon/ginger drinks, we found Farmers and D.C. bought some handkerchiefs.

I discovered that the centre had a Merric. I once managed to score a couple of pair of nice slacks, in a style that I like, from the one at Sylvia Park, so I wondered if I would strike it lucky this time.

Two different styles for $28 each is nothing to be sniffed out.

After that we returned to the unit to relax and go through 128 photos. Was that all?

6.30 I went back to the Café Turquoise (They know me now and greet me with a big smile and a wave) and bought a falafel salad between us, some Turkish bread garlic and cheese bread, two apple teas, and (when I remembered after the initial transaction) some more baklava. Everything but the baklava was $31, but the gentleman who served me settled on $30, since I paid cash.

Once again it was delicious. If you’re ever in New Plymouth, and want a reasonably priced, tasty, healthy meal – Café Turquoise.

I set my fitness tracker when I went there. I was able to walk at my usual speed going there, but had to be a bit more circumspect, especially with the teas, on the return journey. In total it was 802 steps, 0.51km, took me 24 minutes (including sitting down and waiting), and I burned 30kcal. My heartrate was 89bpm and I can not work out what the 48’00” average pace means. 48 minutes per hour? That doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, I did my full 802 step round trip and then we had our dinner. After that I set up my computer so D.C. could see my photos slide show.

Kally pics

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D.C. pic. Yes , I did take more…

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Photos for next Halloween?

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Looking back at New Plymouth

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Now, that would be the way to drive around Thames! (Electric, of course)

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I don’t think this would be as effective.

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If only…

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We did see one vehicle on the tracks – a light truck that had both tyred-wheels and bogies.

Just interesting…

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Unexpected discoveries

27 August 2019

Oh… Luxury. Who needs the Ritz when you’ve got an electric blanket.

I got woken up during the night, either by the unit above us or next to us, who was obviously making an early (5.00am?) runner. They were thumping about (probably making no more noise than usual) and had a shower. The drone from the shower would have been fine, but I think the gully trap must be outside our unit as I could hear running water. This had the obvious effect, so I had to get up at 6.15 to take care of things.

So I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked.

Today we decided that, as the weather should be fine, we’d go to Pukekura Park. Always a must see.

Of course, one of the problems with being a shutterbug, is that you’re likely to take 354 photos and one video, and then need to spend two hours that evening sorting them out.

We started this morning with our sachet porridge – apple and cinnamon flavoured – very tasty with yoghurt.

When we set off it was fine. The sun was reflecting off the Len Lye Centre and onto the White Hart Hotel, so we got some photos.

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We were then looking at the stairway inside, with Charles Butler’s turned balusters (which we always call, at Rangitoto anyway, “Grandpa’s bannisters”.) A gentleman walked past and said we were welcome to go in and look around. We went in and I was taking some photos, including up the stairs. When I saw that there was a public café up top, I told D.C. to come up and we went into the glassed in area of the verandah, to get a closer look at the turned wood.

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A gentleman was going to get past, and I apologised and got out of his way, explaining that my great-grandfather had turned the balusters. It turned out that he owned the building, and was interested in this information. He took us back to his office and wrote the information down. Then he introduced us to Archibald Pattimpaws Outred.

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Found within the building when it was being renovated.

Archibald’s “owner”  owned and lived in the house over the road. He’d sold it and the Len Lye Centre was built there, and he’d put the money towards the purchase and restoration of the White Hart Hotel. The accommodation block down Queen Street was unrecoverable, so they’d demolished that – keeping the original frontage – and knocked down an old kitchen lean-to at the back, and made that space into a covered in courtyard. The “pub” and other accommodation sections have been renovated to make offices and eateries.

D.C. then, cautiously, mentioned that we were relatives of Fred Butler.

“I knew Freddie!”

He then asked if, as he had an appointment, we’d be willing to come back in quarter of an hour to twenty minutes, so we could talk about Uncle Fred. This was fine with us, so we went over the road and got some photos, and the aforementioned video, of the clock tower. There are stairs that go up part the way, but they’ve been gated off so you can’t go past the first level.

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Having got our photos, and the video of the clock chiming the Westminster Chimes, and having seen the visitor leave the office and walk across the street, we returned to the White Hart Hotel. We learnt how Uncle Fred had outbid his mother for the sea chest and grandmother chair that his relative had carted all around New Zealand (21 guineas). When Uncle Fred was leaving New Plymouth, he offered it back to her for the price he paid.

During this his business partner came in and between the three of us we explained about Uncle Fred and Charles Butler.

Following this interesting and totally unexpected event, we returned to the unit (one block away) to make use of the facilities, and then set out for Pukekura Park. Naturally we turned down the wrong street a couple of times when D.C. thought we should be going one way and I was sure it was another.

But one thing about New Plymouth people. They are so nice and friendly. We were asked three times if we needed help. And they could teach Thamesites a thing or two about road rules, and indicating, and being courteous to pedestrians. Especially those who don’t get how New Plymouth roads work.

We eventually found the main gates, along with a map, and went for a wander.

It is a beautiful park, and totally man-made. Each water feature, lake, and green area has been created – some in Victorian times. (They did like their engineering projects, didn’t they?)

The fountain, and waterfall, are both operated by push button systems, and when we first saw the fountain in action, we had the sun behind us (at 42°) and there was a rainbow reflecting off the water.

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The waterfall can also start flowing on a whim.

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Lunch was at the Pukekura Park tearooms, where we had some round things with spinach, feta cheese, and cashews, a bowl of chips between us, and hot chocolates (with a slither of fudge) each.

We found the fernery, which no longer has native ferns, but exotics, and enjoyed there. I also had to get the obligatory photo of D.C. on the stairs. I had that one in 2007.

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The “Buggy” tour driver, was about to head off – possibly to finish for the day – but was quite happy to take us on the 45 minute tour around the park for $5 each. The “Buggy” is a small electric bus (about to be replaced with a better model) and I think the driver is probably a volunteer. The tour was very interesting with the only complaint being that we didn’t have time to stop and take photos.

Hasn’t stopped me taking heaps though.

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We went up as far as the Brooklands Bowl and around parts of the park where we hadn’t been before and parts where we had. The magnolias and rhododendrons are looking great this year.

After that ride we went for another walk, seeing lots of people eating ice cream. Of course, that made me want an ice cream, so we got one from the tea kiosk.

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Dinosaur foot? No 100-year-old wisteria trunk

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And the flowers are rhododendrons, not wisteria

Then we wandered back, stopping to talk to people with dogs and to other people about the amount of Tui in the Kowhai trees. (They’re just starting to come on stream here.)

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During the day there were three heavy showers. The first whilst we were inside the tearooms having lunch. The second whilst we were inside the Buggy and about to get out – so he took us on an extended ride so we didn’t have to. And the last as we wandered around the Fountain Lake – so we sheltered under the trees.

And we finished the day with some more otherworldly cats.

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We managed to find our way back to the White Hart Hotel, and D.C. went home to heat up her leftovers from the last two nights, and I went back to the Turquoise Café to buy a takeaway Turkish falafel burger. The staff remembered me from last night and we had a chat. They didn’t know where Thames was.

Then back to the unit for dinner and two hours of photo processing and one and a half hours of blog typing.

And I walked 11,317 steps today. My tracker buzzed me the 10,000th step as we were walking back from Pukekura Park.

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And I took these photos because they’re artistic. Not because I had the exposure too slow.

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Found us!

26 August 2019

Last night, as a treat, I thought I’d put on the motel’s electric blanket. So I switched it on to three, did other things whilst it warmed the bed, and then switched it off before getting between the sheets.

Electric blankets work a lot better if the power cable is plugged into the wall socket. They are also easier to plug in if the wall socket isn’t behind the head of the bed.

So tonight I pulled the bed out, plugged the wall socket in, switched the electric blanket onto three (eventually), was able to enjoy getting into a toasty bed. Having unplugged the plug from the wall and got the cable out of the way.

This morning after a good night’s sleep (comfortable beds), aside from when D.C. started coughing, we had our showers and then I asked reception where we could buy breakfast. There was Monica’s Eatery, where we had dinner last night, or else a café around the corner in Devon Street. We chose around the corner.

The café’s name was The Empire Café and the people in it were lovely – as was the look of the food on offer. We both decided to splash out – since we were planning on buying porridge for the rest of the week’s breakfasts. D.C. had garlic mushrooms on toast. (She ate all of it.) I had pancakes (no cream), with diced kiwifruit, orange, and banana. And the mint tea was very nice.

We sat in the window and watched the world go by… People pulling up outside, coming into the café for their coffee, or for containers of food, and the Bidfood delivery driver who managed to drop a bottle of something like sauce on the road – which split and started running underneath the truck.

Back to the unit to finish getting ready and dodge the cleaners as we headed out to Puke Ariki. It was fine when we were walking there. That was about the last time today.

resized_IMG_0923 (2)They had those chairs back in 2007. Only I was sitting in them in that photo.

A helpful lady in the i-SITE let us use a locker. Much better then lugging our coats, woolly hats, scarf, gloves, sunglasses all around the place.

When we had our video interviews, the interview was done by Amber… someone. It was she that D.C. was communicating with until a short time ago. Then it became Lucy McFarlane. We tried to contact Lucy, but she wasn’t in the office. So we dumped out coats in the lockers and went and admired the 100 years of the museum display. It was here that D.C. accidently managed to find our video – which she listened to, to make sure that no one had made any unauthorised changes…

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A lot of these displays were of the “odd” things that people collect. “Transformers”, romance novels, royal memorabilia, salt and pepper shakers, computers…

I found the computers display interesting. He had his Sinclair ZX81 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. (I had one of those! For about a week until I bought a more useful Spectravideo.) And an Amiga 500 – which was Karen’s first computer and I was jealous of her as it had awesome graphics. Until I managed to overwrite one of her games and I had to buy her a replacement copy.

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They even gave you a chance to do a bit of programming a ZX81. I haven’t done that in decades, but managed to follow the prompts and get it to play a tune. (Difficult when using a modern QWERTY keyboard to mimic the old Sinclair. And as a matter of interest, my old Spectravideo had a game of pelmanism, where you could try to pair up things other than cards. One “card” was “QWERTY” and the other “UIOP”. We couldn’t work out what a qwerty and a uiop was… until one day I glanced at the keyboard. This was in the days before I was a touch typist – although I think I’d even struggle now. Touch typists use “finger memory” not conscious memory. If I ever take a keyboard apart to clean it, it’s a struggle to remember where each key goes when I’m putting it back together again.)

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Programming the tune “Frere Gustav”. I’ve got no idea what that sounds like, even having done it.

What’s so odd with collecting old computers? Or “Swanndris”

After we’d finished with this exhibition, we tried to find a place to eat. There was the expensive restaurant, but the waitress directed us to the café. In the library of all places. So we had our lunch, D.C. had a coughing fit, and we enjoyed a slide show of photos taken by Taranaki Daily Mail journalists.

We were about to head back across the skybridge to the museum side of the complex, where we found a display of photos that had originally been taken by one man in 1939. Sixty years later his grandson decided to take the same photos from the same spot to see how things had changed. And in some cases he not only had photos from 1999, but 2019.

Back to the museum proper where was checked out everything else. I found a display of moths – one of which was Austramathes purpurea discovered by Arthur Gardiner Butler. No idea if he’s a relation, but it would funny if he was the discoverer of “purpurea”.

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We found some badly stuffed Kakapo. One the taxidermist has twisted two of its toes so they were the standard bird configuration of three front, one behind for grasping. Kakapo, being parrots, have two front, two back.

I don’t think that New Plymouth has the water issues that Auckland has. The flush of the toilets in Puke Ariki seemed to be powerful enough that if you hadn’t moved away you’d be dragged down with it. And the gurgles at the end were probably the pitiful strokes of those who hadn’t made it trying to escape.

Off to the supermarket again – this time to buy the porridge and yoghurt for breakfast. Unfortunately, it was raining when we came out again. So we sheltered for a bit… and then made a dash for more shelter… and then attempted to cross Courtney Street/State Highway 46 during a “lull” in the rain… And then sheltered some more as the rain blew in.

We finally made it to a long run of verandahs and started hunting out places to eat. I was trying to remember what I’d read in Google last night that was good value and not too expensive. We’d crossed over to Bella Vista’s side of the road when I spied Café Turquoise. I think I remembered seeing that that was good value, so we crossed over again and went inside.

Mark Café Turquoise on your list of places to eat in New Plymouth. It was Turkish style meals and we each had chicken “skewer” (three) shish kebabs on a bed of salad, with homemade Turkish bread, dips of            cacik, hummus, tabouli, and spicy walnut), rice and a choice of two sauces. (I had garlic yoghurt and mint, and D.C. garlic yoghurt and avocado – and had to have a doggie back.) $16 each. I bought two $2 packs of two pieces of baklava for dessert – which we took away with us.

Back to the motel, cups of mint and matcha tea and a piece of baklava, and then to our toasty warm beds.

Only walked 5990 steps today. That’s about the same as a normal Monday – but a lot slower.

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Puddle Jumping

25 August 2019


We got up at 7.30, got washed and dressed and went down to the “restaurant” for breakfast.

Now, one of the reasons why we always like staying at the EconoLodge is the quality of the breakfasts. Fresh melon slices, pineapple, grapes, cheese, fruit juices, freshly made pikelets, maple syrup, Weetbix, toast, yoghurt, kiwifruit, orange slices. It was always very fresh and yummy. They’ve gone to the pack, the last couple of times that we’ve stayed there. No melon, no Weetbix, the picklets were overcooked and soggy, the price had gone up (but there was the option for sausages, cooked tomatoes, bacon, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.) It wasn’t nearly as tasty nor appetising as in the past.

We finished that, went up to clean our teeth and finish packing our bags. I’d just finished zipping up my suitcase when I realised that I couldn’t find my V2 lock. This lock is pink and has been halfway around the world twice. It’s also got an easy to remember combination. I had other pink locks in my bag, so locking my suitcase wasn’t an issue, but I didn’t really want to lose the original. Oh, well. I’ll use one of the other locks and ask the cleaners to keep an eye out for the missing one. I reached into my camera bag to get a spare lock…


Guess I hadn’t lost it after all.

The Skybus left every ten minutes, halfway down the block from the EconoLodge, so – having paid up (I’m paying for food and travel, D.C.’s paying for accommodation) – we went to wait for the bus.

Now, if you know Wellesley Street in Auckland, it’s quite a steep street. I was waiting facing up the hill and looking into the window of a neighbouring shop, appeared to have a lean of about 5°. D.C., with her daypack on her back, kept on overbalancing.

The bus arrived and I tried to pay by credit card (so I can keep track). They can only accept cash or pre-booked tickets. I tried to buy one adult and one senior ticket – you can only buy senior at a kiosk or on-line. I asked for two return, (I had the cash) and looking at my $38 ticket now, I think he’s only charged us for one way. But at least we each had a ticket.

While I was undergoing this high-finance transaction, D.C. was trying to get our cases into the luggage racks. A nice young man picked them up and put them away for her.

For some reason – probably to aid manoeuvrability through a tight space and around a corner, the front seat on the passenger side is a ¾ sized seat. Easily big enough for one person, not so good for two. As I’d held them up with the payment, I left D.C. to it and claimed the front seat on the drivers side, which is behind a lot of luggage racks and with a high wall meaning it’s hard to see out the window. Especially if you’re only 5’1”. So when we got to the next bus stop, I went back to the front (only luggage racks and disability/wheelchair/emergency seats behind D.C.’s seat.) and squeezed in next to her.

Squeezed being the operative word. First corner that we went around to the left, I disappeared off the seat. The driver goes: “I think that’s only made for one person.”

“I think you’re right. I’ll go back at the next stop.”

But there were no further stops, aside from intersections, so we spent most of the 45 minutes with D.C. with her arm looped through mine, hanging on to me, and me sitting kind of side-saddle.

But we made it to the airport with no hiccups. Even though the wind and rain picked up as soon as we hit the motorway and caused the warped door to rattle and flex. Slightly disconcerting, more so because I was concerned what would happen to any vehicles following if it flew loose.

We were deposited at the domestic terminal and had a wander through, working out how and where we offloaded our suitcases. It’s not a totally logical layout at the moment, but there were people to help.

By this stage it was only about 10am and our plane wasn’t due to leave until 2.40, so we went for a wandering through the domestic terminal. We also weighed our cabin bags. According to the rules, they couldn’t be more than 7kg. My camera & laptop bag recorded 7.1kg… 7kg… 6.9kg.

Close enough.

Having completed that, we decided to check out the international terminal. There is a helpful green line painted between the two and it was easy to follow this (stopping off to photograph a Moa and a Kiwi) to the international airport.

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Moa hiding in the Pohutukawa

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Kiwi – having just been visited by a young boy, who’s mum called him back so I could get my photo.

We had a look around and decided to have lunch. Each having a Pita Pit pita. Which was quite yummy – I had falafel. D.C. only wanted a sandwich, but couldn’t find a place that sold plane, sorry, plain old simple sandwiches.

While we were eating, there was a family behind us of mum, dad, grandma, and two kids. Dad was trying to get photos of them all, so I offered to get some with him in. He was very pleased to let me – once he’d switched it over so it wasn’t the camera on the screen side taking the photo. Unfortunately, it was a tablet and not a proper camera. But I managed to get a couple. And then a couple more when they decided that the light behind was too annoying.

We wished them a good flight, and they reciprocated, before we started heading back to the domestic airport. We decided to make this journey a competition. D.C. would take the free bus that travels on a loop between the two terminals and I’d walk. Loser to buy dinner tonight.

The bus pulled up, D.C. got on board, and the driver looked at me. I said: “I’m walking. We’re going to have a race.”

As soon as the bus started moving, so did I.

And I would have done better if my shoelace hadn’t come undone. As it was, I was heading towards the final corner before the stretch of footpath where the buses park when a bus came towards me. The driver saw me and did a double take and smiled. I did a “Bother, I’m last” gesture and she laughed. It only took me 8 minutes to walk, which was probably only about minute slower than the bus. Unfortunately, my fitness tracker (a cheapy) doesn’t let you go back and see your results again, so I can’t remember much more than it was about .73 of a kilometre. I don’t know how many steps I took – but it was around about now that it vibrated to tell me that I’d done my 10,000 steps for the day.

But I was quite hot and thirsty after that walk, (I was wearing my 3-in-one “ski” jacket, my camera backpack, and Kally), so I bought us each a “Mango Zest” TANK drink, remembering – belatedly – to ask to have it without a straw.

“And without a lid?” they checked.

“Yes, please.”

The “paper” cup was probably plastic lined, but at least we didn’t put more plastic than necessary into the landfill.

We found a seat away from the main conglomeration of people waiting for their flight and sat, relaxed, and typed up this blog. 1.00pm we moved down to the more crowded seats, and I did more typing until it was time to board at 13:55 from gate 48 on flight NZ8041.

We sat on the tarmac for quite some time. (We’re now at the hotel and I’ve just found an email from Air New Zealand apologising because the flight was going to be twenty minutes late.) The captain came on the radio an apologised for the delay, saying that it was due to an administration issue. About ten minutes after that the flight attendant spoke to the passenger in the row before us, on the other side of the aisle, then then he had to collect his two(!) bags and leave the plane – leaving his phone behind. D.C. and the people behind us had to tell the flight attendant and she got someone to take it to the ex-passenger.

What I think happened, and this is what I overheard from a conversation between the flight attendant and a man two rows behind us – is that the plane was only allowed to carry fifty. The ex-passenger was allowed on, on the understanding that he’d have to get off and take the next flight, if passengers who had booked before him boarded. They did. So he caught the next flight, which landed almost instantly after we did in New Plymouth anyway.

The flight down was good, the weather relatively clear, an easy take off (not a “point up at the sky and go”), not too many bumps going into the cloud layer, and an easy landing.

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But still no view of the mythical mountain.

Our plane was a turbo-prop(? A name I learned when writing a Thunderbirds story. Also known as a puddle-jumper. But I could be totally wrong about this. I just know it was small and had two propellers.) and we had to walk across the tarmac to board it. And to leave it. And then we had to wait for the baggage train to bring all the bags into a “baggage claim” room, shut the door behind it, and then let us all in to grab our bags. No luggage carousels here!

We found the shuttle service and D.C. scored the front seat and I got the one behind but in the middle so I could see forward too. It was a good drive into town and we were the second drop off of the three stops.

Last time we were in New Plymouth we stayed at the Bella Vista Motel, and having no better ideas this time, we did the same. This time we were given room two, which we think might be directly below the one we had last time, which could have been room eleven.


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Having offloaded and decanted everything, we went on our obligatory hunt for a Warehouse. You can guarantee that every time we go somewhere, we have to find a Warehouse. This time D.C. wanted some warmer PJs. I think she’s ended up with a pair of men’s tracksuit pants and a woman’s skivvy. I had seen it at the top of the hill and was heading in that direction, when D.C. stopped and asked someone where it was. I was a trifle snappy when I informed her that it was there!

The Bella Vista recommended two eating establishments, so we went hunting for the one on Molesworth Street. I knew when we found this as I found the Bunnings’ hardware store that’s on that street. Having reached Bunnings we walked back in the direction of the motel, hoping to stumble across the restaurant.

The only thing we saw was a beautiful sunset highlighting Paritutu Rock and the smoke stack, but which had all but gone by the time I got over the road and to a good vantage point with my camera.

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We got back to the Bella Vista still not having found the restaurant. I’ve just checked and it was two blocks the other way past Bunnings.

So, we went over the road to Monica’s Eatery. We both had macaroni cheese, which D.C. found to be too much of a good thing. They gave us some delicious, freshly cooked bread (focaccia?) as well – which was lovely aside from the buttery fingerprints we left on everything. I was planning on having dessert, but didn’t bother when they didn’t come back with the menu having given D.C. her leftovers doggie bag. Our drinks were carrot. apple. turmeric. & ginger (D.C. – very orange) and spinach, something, something, Egmont honey, and mint. (Me – very green)

After that we came “home” and got into bed.

We’d (I’d!) done 12.457 steps today!

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First night food

In case you don’t know what macaroni cheese and green and orange drinks look like.

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To the big smoke

24 August 2019

Today started off with pretty much a normal Saturday morning. I did make sure that I had a shower as Auckland’s running low on water and I didn’t want to waste any having a shower on Sunday.

Of course, today was bright and sunny. Yesterday, when we did our last loads of washing, so they’d all be clean when we got home, was dark, overcast, and raining, meaning that our solar panels were useless. Today would have been a wonderful day to use the washing machine and dryer (and we did charge FAB-e’s battery) but we didn’t have the time.

I had planned on wearing a merino, blouse, woolly jumper, topped with a 3-in-1 ski jacket that’s warm and waterproof. But it seemed so warm that I thought it was going to be overkill. So I didn’t put on the merino. Then I remembered that merino was supposed to be cooling and warming, so I put it on again. I’m glad I did.

Most of my bags were already packed and it was just a matter of getting Kally into her bear bag and getting everything to the door. AND cleaning down the problematic smoke detector. It shouldn’t go for no good reason now, as Chubb have been back to reduce its sensitivity, but I still made sure there were no spiders nor insects nearby. I used its (purposely purchased) duster to clean around the smoke detector, around the neighbouring door, up and down the stairwell, and then I sprayed the duster with insect repellent and did the whole area again. I was just putting the duster away in its corner when I saw a Daddy Longlegs walking along the base of the door. I took it outside.

This morning we went on our usual Saturday morning walk through the Thames Market and down the road. Usual, except that we were dragging our suitcases with us. But T3 (Transition Town Thames) were holding an eco-stall at the market (with EVs, and literature, and the programme for the “Festival of Living Solutions” that we’re holding from the 7th to the 22nd September.) It was actually quite funny. We had a meeting on the 7th August explaining what was going to be happening with the festival, and getting people to help. Lou wanted someone to make a programme/calendar that could be given out so people would know what was on and when. I said that I could probably do it, which she was grateful for as she wouldn’t have had the time.

So the weekend afterwards I settled down to work on it, with little information aside from a few of the stalls that had been confirmed for the main event on the 7th, and a couple of the workshops. So I designed my own background and fancy bits, and uploaded it to the cloud where all the information was being posted. During the following week other bits of information, such as the advertising poster and logo, and more stalls and events was posted, so I started working on it the following weekend from scratch. We didn’t even do our usual walk down the road last Saturday, as I worked on the programme all day and D.C. went out to paint the woodwork at the entrance to the Historic Kopu Bridge.

I posted that Sunday evening, and then Lou came into work Tuesday (or Wednesday) and admitted that she hadn’t seen it on the cloud site. She sent posted more information on the cloud on Wednesday and that night (breathing through only one nostril since I was stuffed up with a cold) I tweaked it until just after 11pm. There were more stalls and workshops confirmed on Thursday, so I stayed up until 11pm again getting that finalised. There’s heaps more that I could do, and I discovered the following day that where I had Katherine, and then discovered that it was spelt Kathryn in two other places in the cloud and so I changed it to that, that the original Katherine was probably correct. So that was frustrating. Plus they didn’t have a location for Katherine /Kathryn’s workshop, so I couldn’t fill that line in.

But anyway, Lou and Robyn, the two coordinators seemed happy. So did everyone else when we saw them at the stall. Happy and surprised. “Did you make that?! I didn’t know you could do that.”

“Well, I have done a course in desktop publishing. And I did make the pamphlets for the Thames Small Gauge Railway and museums. And I do make my own Christmas cards.”

But the eco-stall seemed to be going well.

D.C. won $10 on her weekly $2 Instant Kiwi. I got nothing for my $2, but at least she’s got some spending money for the coming week.

Lunch at the Sunburst was the same burger (no beetroot) for me and “homemade” pumpkin soup for D.C., plus two hot chocolates, that we have every week. I did consider having something less filling, as we were planning on a big meal this evening, but I couldn’t see anything else that tickled my taste buds.

Over to the post office to check the mail – but it was two begging letters for me (Red Cross, and Forest and Bird) so they’ve stayed there.

Then around to the mall to check out the range of Thunderbirds Are Go toys they’ve got on offer. We were about to leave when a young boy walked past carrying a newly purchased Thunderbird One. I said: “Good man. Excellent choice,” and gave him a thumbs up.

I’m not buying them, because they’re not the original series. But if they ever come down in price…

Back to the Thames i-SITE to wait for the bus to leave at 2.40pm, my step counter telling me that I’d done 4303 steps. Yeah. Right.

We were lucky as the driver is one who knows us by sight, and is an excellent cautious driver. We manged to score a front seat on the top deck and made sure that Kally had a good view.

resized_DSC_0003Taken with my music player (aka Sony smart phone). It would have taken too long to get a proper camera out.

It was a good trip up and the driver was pleased to report that we’d arrived on time for once.

We dragged our bags down to the EconoLodge and checked in, being given room 605.

Having offloaded most of our gear, we went to the local Countdown supermarket and bought some hairclips for D.C., and stuff to combats our coughs and sniffles, and a bar of Whittaker’s new, limited edition chocolate.

Countdown has gone totally self-service, so we were grumbling about having to work the machine by ourselves. And then couldn’t work out where to put our cash – Remember what that is?

We’ve been going to try the Mai Thai restaurant since it won the best restaurant award in 2007, but have never managed it. Either we haven’t had time or they haven’t been open. But we finally managed it tonight. Except that it was 5.15pm and it didn’t open until 6.00pm.

So we wandered up to the SkyTower and the i-SITE. I wanted to check out their tourist souvenirs as I have a bag that I use for going to Rangitoto. It folds up into itself, but when you open it out, it has a pocket on the side that you can slide over the pull-handle of your wheeled suitcase. Very handy for groceries – or coats if you go out overdressed. Except that last time I used it I put too much stress on the zip and the fastening came off one of the runners (or whatever the terminology is. Suffice to say, the zip was running along one side, but not willing to join up with the other.) Thinking that it would be good for carrying our jackets if we got too warm, I attempted to fix it this morning… And now the zip will never run along one side at all. So I would like to get a replacement – One that’s not a cheap Chinese effort bought online.

Anyway, going to the souvenir shop bag hunting was a way of killing time while we waited for Mai Thai to open. A futile way, but still a way.

Back to Mai Thai and they were opening the door just as we got there – about 5.50pm.

We both ended up having the same meals. Except that D.C. had seafood with her vegetables and cashews and I had pork. We both had a virgin mojito, and we both had caramelised crème brûlée for dessert. Our verdict. While it wasn’t bad, it’s not better than our Thai in Thames. The décor may be a tad more authentic, but it got just as noisy as people filed in. (It was popular.) D.C. found her mains a bit too spicy and I finished her vegetables off for her. (Go back a few decades and it was the other way around.) The mojito definitely wasn’t as minty as the one I had in Portsmouth. But we enjoyed the crème brûlée.

Having only had a mojito and a glass of water to drink, we decided to buy some tea from the )(&* Countdown and I bought a pack of Kurols. They definitely clear the nose!

Then it was back to the EconoLodge and into bed for reading and writing.

We’re catching an aeroplane tomorrow!

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Mountain hunting

We’re off to Taranaki (well at least New Plymouth) again. Will we see the mythical mountain this time? I tried to find a photo from last time to use as the blog header – and that was an epic fail. (As I think it may be this time, judging by the weather forcast. I’ll have to keep my camera at my hip for emergency shooting.)

That’s not really the reason why we’re going. It’s because Uncle Fred (and if you’ve read my 2007 blog, you’ll know about Uncle Fred) was a Taranaki Historian. We inherited what remained of his collection, and donated what we could to Puke Ariki – The Taranaki museum.

Earlier this year we were interviewed on camera by Puke Ariki (yes, TV stars again) as a part of their centennial exhibition about why people have donated to Puke Ariki. We were invited to the launch of the exhibition – about two days before it happened – so we reluctantly declined the invitation. But this coming week there are celebrations commemorating 100 years of Taranaki Museusm, so we thought we’d put our efforts into attending that. And so we’re going to Auckland tomorrow, New Plymouth Sunday, and spending a week there. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload my blog, and photos (of Mount Taranaki?) daily.


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