So here we are back again in the home of L&P, but this time parked up in the more formal RV Centre, a simple camp full of many shareholding permanents, with excellent though simple facilities, which supplements its income from storing motorhomes and offering overnight sites to the travelling public. We are here to ready our motorhome for its six months in storage and to ready ourselves for our departure tomorrow.
We did manage to escape a few days this last week, firstly on a day trip to Auckland to deliver our granddaughter to the “Spirit of Adventure”. Her mother lent us her car and we spent the whole day enjoying India’s company; given that she is now just seventeen, we realise such opportunities will become more rare and are to be cherished.
|Arriving at the Quay|
|A friend already|
Still with hours to fill we found our way to the Auckland Museum and wandered a little aimlessly until we spotted directions to the exhibition, titled “Let Me Be Myself – The Life Story of Anne Frank” on the top floor. India was quite absorbed by the display or at least made a good show of being so; both Chris and I were familiar with the subject matter but were no less interested. After that we continued on through several galleries relating to service in the various wars New Zealand has paid a part in, with emphasis on the two World Wars. I was disappointed that there was nothing here on the Maori Land wars or the Musket wars, but then these are possibly dealt with on the ground floor which is all about the people of Pacifica.
Soon it was time to find our way down to the waterfront, and with street closures this was not without its drama. Several times we found ourselves stopped across bus lanes or in the wrong lane, however no one died and we arrived in the Downtown car park without damage to Larissa’s car or ourselves.
We were early, as usual, but were able to stand above the vessel and admire her form, and tell India that tomorrow she would be scrubbing decks and climbing masts. This was all said in jest; however I do think it may have turned out to be reality. The young people taken on these ten day youth development voyages are not namby-pambied and our granddaughter will meet challenges as never before.
|An opportunity for a family photo|
Another would-be sailor was waiting near the door of the Trust office, having flown up from Dunedin with her mother. The older woman asked if we would keep her daughter company as she needed to catch a flight home, so young Sam joined us as we wandered about the Viaduct Basin, admiring the city skyline, the super-yachts and the restaurants and bars that offer hospitality to the city dwellers and visitors.
Back at the ship, the trainees had congegated, and the girls, now joined by another from Hokitika who was happy for the company, gathered their luggage and made their way on-board. Phones and other communication devices were confiscated at the gangway and the girls disappeared down into the bowels of the boat. So with that we headed home, leaving the centre of the city at about 4.30pm and arriving back in Paeroa two hours later; a surprisingly good trip.
The next day was our own, so we headed away up the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, overnighting in Whangamata at the RSA. We have been to Whangamata several times before, at least one trip reported earlier in this blog, however this lovely seaside town continues to impress us, and even more so on such a lovely sunshiny autumn day. We strolled about the shopping area and on down to the wharf, and drove about the wider area, settling into the Club carpark mid-afternoon. It’s a busy club, or at least on a Wednesday evening; the carparks were full for a few hours and I suspect there are some membrs who curse the large motorhomes and their occupants who are made so very welcome.
|The Spirits is an impressive vessel|
In Thames we dealt with several small matters, but still had time to drive a little north to Tararu for lunch on the shoreline. The view from our “dining” window was across the calm Firth of Thames to the Hunua Ranges and up toward the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, where no doubt our India will be sailing some time over this week.
Beyond Tararu, there was evidence of major roadworks, because it is here and further north in early January this year that a storm ripped up the Thames Coast Road. The road was pounded by waves, partly washed away, and left with chunks of asphalt on it after high winds and tides. The road from here to about twelve kilometres south of Coromandel was closed, and even now it does not invite travel, hence I was not interested to go on further.
We returned to Thames and settled into a little park over property, owned by a ninety five year old widow, a fellow NZMCA member, who has space on her front lawn for just one motorhome and offers electric hook up via a cable across the flower garden and up through her lounge window. The house was in the process of being painted, so we took great care to avoid the trestles and workman.
|Whangamata estuary scenes|
This morning arrived without the sunshine of the last few days, however remained fine enough for us to complete our chores without event. We had woken to the sound of guns; fortunately we remembered today was the first day of the duck shooting season. Later we observed flocks of refugees attempting to escape the range of the keen shotgun toting amateurs; alas no one had told then they were safer to stay on the ground.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning and polishing the van inside and out, and packing for our six month absence, a mammoth task for the likes of us who don’t travel light, and are suspicious of the lists we made of “stuff” left in the caravan in the UK. However, as of tonight, the bags weigh less than the allowed 30 kg, which is fine for the flight but not so great for the struggle via rail to our hotel in London. Still I am sure we will manage.
The Chief Cleaner has poured me a glass of wine, unusually the first of the week; my resolve has been broken. There is little left this evening but to eat an enormous dinner of bacon, potatoes, beans and eggs, which should just about clear the last of the perishable food, and to pack this laptop away until I pull it out again to restart my UK blog.