Thursday 11 December 2014

Mount Mixture

I hope I haven’t kept my regulars waiting too long for this post but as you can imagine it’s been a very busy time catching up with family & friends and seeing to all the various appointments we had arranged before we arrived in town. The time has flown by and we only have one more week here at the Mount before we head off to Napier & family for Christmas.

I’ve really enjoyed being back on the front row beside the boardwalk at the Mount campground. There’s always something interesting happening or someone interesting walking by. Mind you, I think we’re leaving at the right time, the campground is starting to pick up pace, the sites down here on the ocean side are nearly always full and there is a definite increase in the numbers of walkers passing by on the boardwalk. This is probably because there has been a cruise ship in port just about every day for the last week. When out on my walk, I’ve even taken to politely telling approaching walkers to “keep left, keep left, just like you’re driving” and looking silly by demonstrating steering a car in case they don’t understand English!

We have had some brilliant weather, hot and sunny days with very humid nights- which isn’t so pleasant.

There’s been a few overcast days with scattered showers, luckily most of the rain has fallen overnight. A good number of school groups have been spending time either in school camps at the Mount campground or visiting by bus. I felt sorry for this group; they disappeared up the stairway to the Base Track, happily chatting and excited only to come rushing back in a torrential downpour about 30 minutes later.

And then there have been those windy days, those days that most of the country have been experiencing on and off over the last few weeks. We even had our own Nor’west arch for a couple of days. And one morning when I was walking along Pilot Bay in a howling westerly, I spotted this yacht with a broken mooring rope & buoy beached.

I thought surely someone would have phoned the harbourmaster but then I thought perhaps not and if it was our boat I’d hope somebody would follow it up. So I ducked behind a car out of the wind and called the afterhours harbourmaster number. He hadn’t been called so then I had to go down to the yacht and find some identification for him & the number on the buoy. Luckily for the owner the tide was going out and the wind had actually flattened the waves quite a lot so it wasn’t going to get battered about in the surf. But it did look like the keel had been broken off as it hit the shallow water.

The constant parade of people past our kitchen window have included a hundred or so Santas on the Great KidsCan Santa Charity Fun Run.

And the first race of Tri NZ Tinman National Series.

And nearly every evening the surf club members are out, either training on the sand or paddling their boards or kayaks off the beach or around the Mount and back. Some at least 4-5 times! On the weekends the nippers come out to ‘play’.

I now know why the Main Beach looked so white that first time I saw it after we arrived back in the Bay. It gets groomed a couple times a week, before and after each weekend up until Christmas and then everyday over the holiday period. Which is great. Except if you are parked up on the front row of the campground. From about 2am I can hear the low rumble as the tractor pulling the groomer moves up and down the beach. That actually isn’t so bad. It’s the thousand & one spotlights he has across the top of the roll cage that shine in my bedroom window as he turns for his next run!

There’s no going back to sleep after that so it’s up at the crack of dawn and off on my walk marvelling at the early morning light and hundreds of rabbits scurrying about- the paddock in front of me is a moving mass of bobbing white tails. If I look out the van at night there are dark moving lumps in every direction, some take no notice when you walk by but stop, and they scatter in all directions. 

I have been watching these starling chicks grow in leaps and bounds over the last two weeks. Their nest is at eye level in an old rotten hollow right beside the Base Track. At first they stayed back down in bottom of the hole and all I could see was their fluffy heads and bright yellow bills. I was alerted to them by the squawking and a parent departing right across my face. They’ve now lost all their fluff and have moved up to the edge of the hollow, it won’t be long before they’re gone.

I just wish I had my camera back to catch some of the lovely sights I’ve seen on my walks, my camera phone doesn’t quite cut the mustard especially if I need to zoom in a little. My Nikon is not due until mid next w$$k!!

I also wanted my camera so I could catch up to date on my favourite street artist’s latest artworks- . Nelson Mandela has joined Johnny Cash and now adorns the wall across from OD’s (Owen Dippie) studio. There are also another couple of artworks in Tauranga city that I have yet to shoot. Sadly OD is moving to Auckland so there won’t be too many more done on the walls around the back lanes of the Bay’s industrial buildings. Here’s the blog post from last year with some of his other amazing artworks.

Last Friday evening we walked to Coronation Park at the other end of town for the first Gourmet Night Market of the season, this being the 2nd year that they've run. From December to February over 6000 locals & visitors head to the park every Friday night for an evening of fun, entertainment & delicious gourmet street food.

I can tell you, choosing dinner from over 50 food stalls set up around the perimetre of the park is extremely hard! We loved the family friendly atmosphere and the amazing choice of food. There’s also live music from a local band or musician playing each evening.

We were also very impressed with the custom designed waste stations set up for recycling along with willing helpers making sure waste made its way into the right bins.  Last year the market diverted 94% of its waste  away from the landfill, this year their target is 99%. I can see this market will become one of the ‘must dos’ when visiting the Bay of Plenty and a regular night out for the locals- we’ll certainly be going again this Friday.

For the last few days we have been enjoying the company of another Ultima. Judy & Craig from Otaki took delivery of their brand new Ultima Series II and have been parked here at the Mount while their Ranger had the fifth-wheel hitch fitted and they learnt the ropes before heading home. David has been able to give them some good tips and talk them through various things. I know how overwhelming it is when you first take possession, it all seems foreign and the van seems so HUGE. Eventually it all falls into place and it becomes second nature. There have been at least 3 other Ultimas parked up at the Mount at various times during our stay here; 2 other new vans and our friends Bruce & Barb from Kerikeri who came down to see us before we left.

And finally, a selection of our beautiful NZ Christmas tree. The pohutukawa are blooming all over the Mount now. The red is so intense up close, I wish I had my camera…….

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