Tuesday 29 October 2013


Security both for ourselves & our gear has been forefront in our preparations for living full time on the road & during the last month we have solved a couple of areas that have concerned us. We realise that we're never going to stop the person (or people) that is fully intent on breaking in to either the van or the vehicle but we've gone a long way in deterring them.

We're also not going to get paranoid about security but at least we know we've taken steps to protect ourselves & our possessions. We've looked at installing an alarm & we may well do that in time but for now our thinking is that an alarm would be of no help if the van is parked up in an isolated area. It may scare the intruder(s) off for a short time but they'd return when they realise that no one is around (assuming we are not there).

The windows on the fifth-wheeler are relatively small with a horizontal metal bar through the centre of each, they are also quite high off the ground. Some one determined on getting in would have to be small (a child?) & have something to climb on to get through them. The easiest point of  access would be busting through the door, but not now that we've had a 3 locking point security door installed. The mesh is powder coated stainless steel tough enough to withstand a sledgehammer as was demonstrated to us in the showroom of Tauranga branch of Home Plus who were extremely helpful in  making sure everything was designed & fitted perfectly to our unusual 'home'. An added bonus is we have a great insect screen & can have fresh air in the van during the long hot nights of summer (the screen on the 5th-wheeler door is not that large & can only wind open a few inches)

We have also had fitted to the ute well-side a Roll-N-Lock rigid cover supplied & fitted by Beaut Utes in Hamilton. The rolling cover can be stopped at several positions to cover part or all of the contents & is lockable.

Inside we have had installed a cargo manager which can be set at various positions too, although for us it will stay locked in place just in front of the hitch. The inflatable & outboard will be installed in this space in the not too distant future!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Girl With A Pearl Earring

Before leaving Tauranga I had one particular photo I wanted to shoot; Girl with a Pearl Earring, a two storey replica of the famous 17th century painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. This is the first of 15 murals to be completed around central Tauranga by the very talented artist Owen Dippie or OD as he prefers to be known.

I've been following the work of OD for a number of years & have taken many photos of his amazing street art. He is a regular visitor to New York, Melbourne & Auckland where his work adorns many buildings, both legitimately & not so. As is the case with a lot of street art or graffiti as it can sometimes be known, one day it's there, the next it's gone. The work below only lasted a matter of weeks before it was painted over.

My all time favourite piece of art by OD is a replica of the legendary portrait of Ina Te Papatahi, of Nga Puhi (tribe), painted by Charles Goldie in 1902. C F Goldie was a well-known New Zealand artist, famous for his portrayal of Maori dignitaries.

Here's a selection of some of OD's work located around Tauranga & Mt Maunganui-

Michael & Elvis

Notorious B.I.G. from OD's 'Respect for The Dead' series
Princess Di
Johnny Cash
Albert Einstein
"Justice League" after Alex Ross

The second of the 15 works of art that will grace Tauranga by the end of summer. I'm disappointed I won't be able to follow the progress but I'll be looking forward to visiting so I can catch up on the new art works.

Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam

Friday 25 October 2013

Glenfalls DOC Camp

Waking up early yesterday morning & opening the door to this view confirmed that it really was time to move on.

We made good time to Glenfalls which is beside the Mohaka River, 8kms from the Napier-Taupo Highway (SH5) & about 40 minutes from Napier. Looking down on Glenfalls from the top of the last hill we were thrilled to see that the reserve was deserted except for one lonely little white caravan; family from Napier by chance were staying at Glenfalls on Tuesday night & we were hoping they had managed to stay on an extra night so we could catch up & the men could do a spot of fishing.

The family looking really pleased to see us :)

Photo courtesy of Pamela

"Ok Gerald, what's the plan of attack here?"

"Follow me......& we shall catch some trout"
They caught four fish each but were unable to bring the good sized ones home for dinner. David was very disappointed as he managed to get a decent sized fish right to his boots before it managed to escape. Next time he will have his net handy. Pam was even more disappointed as she wanted to prepare for us her "camp special", trout cooked in newspaper, apparently a very tasty dish she picked up from Jamie Oliver. We still had a great evening with a tasty dinner, plenty of wine & quite a few laughs.

There are changes a-foot at Glenfalls. Glenfalls has long been a free DOC campsite, and a very popular one during public holidays & the summer months, but since our last visit a new information sign has gone up & a steel payment "iron maiden" located beside it (I bet the end goes a long way down & is embedded in a half tonne of concrete) The sign mentions fees but as yet doesn't say how much. I guess it'll happen before the busy season.

All too soon it was time to leave & head off on the final leg of our trip to Napier where we'll be parked up beside my parents house for the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Busy, Busy

Our last day at the Mount & what a busy one, for us & the seaside town which is gearing up for an even busier Labour Weekend. There's a different vibe about, people are cheerful & friendly, they're obviously in holiday mode.  The camp ground is fully booked for the long weekend & turning away people already. We had hoped to have this final day free to relax, wind down & prepare the van before leaving for Napier in the morning but as has been the case for just about every day we've been here we've had a day full of appointments & errands to run.

But before we got the day underway we had one last breakfast at Slow Fish, our favourite café here at the Mount & were pleased to find another friend having a coffee there too. She was surprised as she'd thought we'd already left town so we were able to say another farewell to her.

Big Breakfast for him & Waffle & fruit salad with a side of bacon for me.
On the way back to the van we came across the mobile catering truck again, parked in the camp ground beside the boardwalk. It was there a few days ago & David had asked what they were up to. They run impromptu cook schools for passing pedestrians, they were also having some photography done on some of the dishes they were preparing. It's a pity the gulls flew in when they turned their backs!

The beach came alive this evening when the new season's business house beach volley ball competition started up.

And when we arrived back after our busy day out we found another Ultima parked up with new owners on board awaiting their ute which again was having the fifth-wheel fitted. This Ultima was the same size as ours but with a different inside configuration. It has a large rear window where two comfy chairs are located, it has a smaller kitchen with a large C shaped sofa in the slide-out. The entry is also towards the rear. The new owners came over to introduced themselves & to see if we had any helpful tips. We look forward to seeing them on the road sometime.

And while I was out taking photos of the new Ultima I took the opportunity of taking some of another one that arrived a few days ago. It was located up on the level behind us so we haven't had too much to do with the owners although we've said hello. This one is three years old & is a slightly smaller van than ours with a few differences. So now there's been four Ultimas including ours in camp while we've been here & all of them have been different models. Different strokes for different folks!

Something else that has been busy, busy in the camp are the rabbits, dozens & dozens of rabbits breeding like, well, rabbits! They are everywhere. Step outside your van at night and there are dozens of small dark shapes dotted around the grass. Clap your hands and they scatter in every direction.

There's a large family that have a rabbit warren inside the retaining blocks of the wall beside the stairs. They have to jump up three blocks to get inside but it must be a large home as there's a huge pile of dirt outside. It's been quite entertaining watching them spread out to feed during the day. They run flat stick from car to car, caravan to caravan cautiously checking out what's about before moving out to graze. There's about six babies that hide under the ramp up to the stairs, they aren't quite so scared & enjoy jumping about like spring bunnies doing flips & high kicks around each other.

David spoke to the camp manager about them & he said it's been a bonus season for breeding & they're having trouble keeping on top of these cute pests. We thought being in the city they would probably have to poison them but apparently they do get in a rabbit shooter every so often.

Well that's it for the Mount & Tauranga, we have had a wonderful if somewhat busy three weeks since selling the house. We've tied up all the loose ends, said our farewells to family & friends & even though we feel a little sad to be leaving the city that has been our home for the last 24 years we're keen to get this show on the road!

And just for those who are still keen to know numbers, what was the count this evening? The counter read 51,785! That means close to 40,000 people have passed by our humble abode in the last 13 days. It's a pity I missed the first week's count. And I promise I won't mention counter numbers again :)

Monday 21 October 2013

Weird, Wacky & Wonderful #2

This afternoon I heard the cruise ship, which was in port, blast its horn to announce its imminent departure so I thought I'd "race" around the Base Track from the opposite direction to catch the ship coming out through the entrance.

I made good time & waited patiently on a point half way round but with no sight of the ship after 15 minutes or so I thought it may have just been calling the passengers back to board instead. So I started to wander back to the van and got about two thirds of the way home when I heard three blasts on the horn. Bugger! The ship does this to say goodbye as it pulls out past Pilot Bay on the inner harbour side of the Mount. On a beautiful sunny day like it was today, Pilot Bay & the Base Track are usually lined with people waving goodbye. The Entrance is rather narrow and a huge cruise ship like the Sea Princess makes a spectacular sight as it sails through so close to land. I didn't quite make it back to the point when I spotted the bow through the trees that line the track.

The upper decks were lined deep with passengers, the ship arrives early in the morning and most would have missed the approach to the Mount. I could hear loud happy music being blasted around the ship as it moved slowly through the water while the pilot clambered down the ladder & back on to the pilot boat. And then the ship sailed off into the sunset bound for Auckland by the direction it took.

On my way back to the van for the second time I spotted this black back gull landing on a picnic table & heard a bunch of girls shouting at it from where they were down amongst the rocks. "Hey, quick, the gull's getting our food" One of them rushed up waving her arms just as the gull lifted off with something in it's bill. "Hey!!" she screamed at it "you've got my hair tie!"  And it had, it flew a few metres & by then had decided it wasn't food & dropped it amongst the rocks further out.

Back at the van I saw a regular coming down the walkway, Mr "High Pants". Mr HP walks the boardwalk most afternoons in this getup, perhaps he can't have the sun on his skin but he sure looks like he'd be sweltering in there. Back & forward he strides, he must do at least six lengths of the boardwalk along the beach front, he turns around at the stairway by us & heads off back down again to return about 20 minutes later. An odd character for sure.

Sunday 20 October 2013

The Weird, the Wacky & the Wonderful

Sunday evening & our time at the Mount campground is coming to an end. Just two more days & we’ll be on the road, heading for the next two week stop, Napier for more farewells.
We’ve had an extremely busy time here & today was the first time in over two weeks that we’ve been able to relax a little & enjoy the sunny weather & all the activity going on around us.

 After my last blog post I know you’ll all be keen to hear that the total on the counter at 5pm this evening was 44,881. That’s forty four thousand, eight hundred & eighty one! That means that a small city of 32,435 has passed by our door over the last 10 days, 9880 people alone have pounded the boardwalk this weekend (or plodded, as the case may be) And from my seat at the table I have a good view of the passing traffic in all its various forms.

So many people doing so much exercise. I felt worn out watching them all.

Both these lots were doing extreme exercise! The paddlers would have paddled back & forth across the bay at least 20 times & the runners were up and down those steps a similar number of times.

The camp site has filled and emptied many times over since we’ve been here. After the storm blew through we had the place to ourselves for a few days, it was lovely;  peace & quiet.

I wonder who lost a hatch cover in the storm?

The last few evenings have brought a steady stream of hire sleepers & motorhomes of all shapes & sizes containing some interesting people. And this weekend the camp ground has filled up with caravans & families with plenty of children, some had come just for Saturday night.

These vans were either side of us for a couple of nights. I was in awe of the couple with the baby, so much gear was stacked in the van I'm surprised they managed to fit the baby in. As it was he sat outside in his plastic highchair in the cold wind whenever they had to do something inside (they wrapped him up & he was quite happy playing with his toys) I was more worried the wind was going to blow the chair over. And on our other side was a guy travelling alone but living like a king! He set up his table with all the gear for every meal. Very well organised he was.

At 6:30am this morning, while I was making a cup of tea, the young teenagers sleeping in the caravan awning next door to us decided they were going for a swim, two chickened out; one still has his sleeping bag wrapped around him. This is the brave one bellowing at the top of his voice as he came thundering up from the beach & straight through between the vans and on up to the shower block behind us. I think it was cold!

I can see life on the road is going to bring many interesting encounters & challengers especially for David. Here he is today being a mechanic & last night, a relationship counsellor. The German guys had just purchased their car & it wouldn't start this morning when they went to leave. The battery was flat or so it seemed but the jumper leads didn't help; David's & another guy that came by. So the car sat all day with a couple of sad looking travellers in it. They were going to wait until tomorrow before getting it to a workshop. But David came back from the lock up this afternoon with his battery charger & after a good charge the engine sprang into life. David has new best friends!

An Austrian couple were obviously experiencing a dose of cabin fever when they arrived in the afternoon. An argument in any language is easy to spot and after a couple of hours or so of heated discussion and much pacing & packing they had calmed down enough to engage in a conversation with David as he was passing later in the evening.

 And then just when we think we've seen it all along comes Tonto & the Lady Ranger. Don't ask...

Next, from around the point came some warriors in their waka.

The best (& the saddest) part of the weekend has been saying goodbye to friends & family that have been visiting us at the beach. After going out for lunch with the family we brought our darling grand-daughter Maddie back for one last play at the beach. We are going miss her & her brother Joel so very much when we leave but then we're looking forward to seeing our other two grandchildren, Ollie & Ruby very much too. We wish they were all in the same city.