Thursday, 8 February 2018

Nine Weeks in Napier- Part 1; Out & About

Catch-up (don't worry there aren't 9 parts!) 

I wondered how I was going to bring you our exploits from the last nine weeks parked up in suburbia, but actually, once I sorted the photos it's turned out to be rather easy! Helped by the fact that we haven't done too much in the exploring mode, more in the family, maintenance, and computer work modes. This is probably just as well, as despite the lack of activity, I still have three Napier blogs to post! Apologies if I jump about a bit though, it was never going to flow like a normal blog post, there are too many subjects!

Fishing as the sun goes down
We said goodbye to our Tauranga family, a little less sad this time as we'll be in the North for awhile and will see them again soon.  We breathed a huge sign of relief as we pulled out of the busy (and about to get even busier) Mount campground and headed south towards Napier. Next stop Glenfalls, one of our favourite DOC camps which is off the Napier-Taupo Road and beside the Mohaka River.

We'd allowed ourselves a couple of nights to rest and relax before the next round of family gatherings in Napier. And there's nothing more relaxing than a warm sunny day, the smell of freshly mown grass and the gentle burble of the water flowing past. Summer had well and truly arrived.

It didn't worry me when I opened the door to fog the next morning; I had no doubt that it would soon burn off.

Across the river the setting moon was just about to disappear below the ridge.

And as I predicted the fog soon lifted, the sun beat down and a steady stream of river visitors arrived; these guys are a little overdone in all their fishing garb (and probably overdone (cooking) on the inside too). 

They crossed the river at it's deepest point which created a few problems for them, one in particular didn't have his airtight belt on (it goes around your middle to keep the water out of your waders). He managed to turn around and head back to get it, just as the water started to pour in over the top. I'm not sure why the local lodge owner who brought them down (that's him and his best mate on the raft) hadn't pointed out a shallower crossing, in places it was only thigh deep. 

The day turned out to be one of the hottest we've experienced for a long while and we both ended up having several very refreshing dips in the river (perhaps we've just got used to Southland summers).

We had a chuckle when a number of vehicles and people arrived later in the morning and started setting up camp- was our tranquil camp about to be invaded? I thought it might have been a local family claiming their site for Christmas (still 2 weeks away) but when a busload of kids arrived not long after we realised it was another school camp! 

What an awesome bunch of kids and teachers they were, very polite and a credit to their school. They were from a Napier primary school and were so excited to be camping. The teacher told me that many had never been out of their suburb let along camping and rafting. The games, singing and happy laughter later confirming they were having a great time.

Refreshed and ready to take on the world....well OK, Napier, we left Glenfalls and headed off to our very own private POP (park over property) beside Mum & Dads' in Greenmeadows. Once family catch-ups, Christmas and New Year were out of the way, David got to work doing a whole lot of maintenance on the van.

It's been great to have some down time and family time but the one thing I do miss the most about being parked up in the suburbs is capturing the stunning Hawkes Bay sunrises and sunsets from wide open spaces.

The weather has been magnificent, 30-35 degrees for weeks on end, one day we had 37c outside the van. It's been hot and humid but thank God for the air-conditioning in the van....and a power supply courtesy of Mum and Dad. And while I'm at it, thank God for Mum's home cooked meals, a few of Dad's specialties too, shared happy hours and lots of laughs.

Of course after hot humid weather comes the thunder storms, and we had a real beauty one afternoon. I captured the brewing storm rolling in and had only just got back in the van when the loudest thunder clap I have ever heard, right over the top of us, shot me out of my seat in fright and then the lightning and torrential rain started. It lasted for 40 minutes or so and then it was gone. The sun and blue sky returned leaving a little surface flooding here and there to tell the tale.

And this is where I start to jump about a bit...

Dad has a regular special bread order with a local bakery; it used to be quite handy in nearby Onekawa but has sold and opened up in the old fire station at Whakatu (half way between Napier & Hastings). Whakatu was once known for it's freezing works which closed in 1986. 

There's a large industrial park, coolstores and a cycle trail in the area now, and with construction work started on an important arterial route nearby, the bakery/tuck shop is in an ideal position to service passing traffic and nearby workers. Dad now has to travel a little further but the bread, pastries and savouries they make are well worth the extra miles- Dad shouted us morning tea and I can highly recommend the doughnuts! 

Meet Izzy, the cutest little pug puppy ever! This 8 week old little bundle of energy was on the go for ages before she stopped still long enough for me to snap her. Izzy belongs to Mum's brother and his wife and is the last in the line of many pugs they have had over the years, including two older pugs that are ruing the day that this little squirt arrived in the house. Isn't she just gorgeous.

We visited the Hastings Farmers Market on a couple of the weekends, sampling the wares, filling our bags with lots of fresh produce and relaxing with a coffee for a short time while watching the world pass by. I did a blog post on the market a couple of years ago, click the link if you'd like to read more (I just read the weather was hot then too!).

Napier's Marine Parade has recently had a major revamp and it's fantastic, it's been very well done and will be a major asset to the city. The 'Reef Garden' include whalebone sculptures, a reflection pool, water features, a basketball court, skateboarding area and seating. We went for a stroll along the waterfront on another hot summer's day.

Jets of water play around the edge of the pond and are lit up in different colours at night. 

It was great to see all the wide open paths and spaces with enough room for everyone; cyclists, scooters, skate boarders and walkers.

Here's a photo that will perplex a few people. This two block section of Marine Parade near the Sound Shell has had a makeover too. It used to be two lanes heading south, now there's a single lane in both directions and the other side is now a parking/service lane. For someone Napier born and bred, I can tell you it feels very weird crossing here. Be very careful if you remember the old road layout, it's very easy to step out without looking both ways.

Some of you may remember the blog post I did when I was tour driver & parcel carrier for Mum and five of her girlfriends when they went on one of their regular jaunts around the local op shops. Well this time Mum and I organised a visit to Trelinnoe Gardens near Te Pohue, 30kms up the Napier- Taupo Road. 

I'd last visited the gardens about 25 years ago, obviously so much had changed in that time but I wasn't expecting to not recognise a thing from my last visit. There are 30 acres of gardens with large mature trees, shrubs and perennials. The walkways weave through and around the landscaped woodland gardens ending at several ponds at the bottom of a long, lazy slope, before heading back up the other side to complete the loop. 

We were very thankful for the shade on what turned out to be the hottest January day on record. We had a pleasant stroll around but decided it would have been better to have visited in early spring when the azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias were flowering, or in autumn when the deciduous trees turned colour. 

After our garden walk we intended to stop at an Eskdale Cafe for a late lunch on the way home. Unfortunately Mum's car had other ideas. After hearing a loud rattling noise over the top of the ladies' chatter, loosing power and watching the temperature gauge suddenly go sky high, we limped to stop inches clear of a very busy Napier-Taupo Road. 

With no sign of life and a very hot smell coming from under the bonnet, we weren't going anywhere fast. Our saving grace was that we had cell-phone reception (not readily available on the Napier-Taupo) and I was able to call David to get him and Dad to come and rescue us. 

So with the boot up, the hazard lights on, an umbrella helping to shield some of us from the hot sun and two outside seats for a couple of the ladies to sit on in the shade, we patiently waited for the men to arrive. Which was just as well as not one vehicle out of a hundred or so passing stopped to check if we were OK (we figured they would have though, had we started waving them down).  

Forty minutes later and our knights rode in on their trusty steads. We sent Mum and her friends off in Dad's car to complete their day, while Dad & I nursed Mum's car home. Of course it was Murphy's law that the car started fine for them and they wondered what all the fuss was about.

It wasn't long though before we had to stop again (and again) to wait for things to cool down before continuing on but our luck finally ran out, along with the car's power, on the busy Taradale Road roundabout with dozens of cars and trucks stacked up behind us. Thank God for the three generous young men who quickly pushed us across the traffic and around the corner. David then came again to tow us home. Where we were met by a gaggle of ladies enjoying a well earnt wine!

It turned out to be a problem with the water pump and Mum's wallet is now quite a lot lighter!

To be continued...Part 2

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