Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Rumble in the Jungle or Rush in the Bush

Awake, dressed and ready for the off.  I'd made a small, packed lunch and we had two lidded (and slightly leaky) mugs of water. All we didn't have we're clear directions but Hubby was the lead man.  What could go wrong?

Well, I've always said he was slightly colourblind .  Today just proved it. Very were supposed to follow the orange markers.  The lady warden had said it was a pleasant walk.  The first thousand or so yards were very good, on a well-mown, easily identifiable path.

We passed through a gate with a tricky lock and the path became quite stony, shaded by trees. 'There it is!' announced Hubby, following a pink marker.  Not wishing to disagree, as he was in his Bear Grylls mood, I plodded on.

Underfoot became quite tricky with roots and creepers to avoid.  Occasionally we came across possum and rat traps, marked with the same pink triangle. Are you getting the idea yet?  The paths became steeper.  Sometimes I had to stretch my foot up to hip height to cross an obstacle.

The path at times was narrow with a sheer drop.  Not exactly my image of a 'pleasant walk'.  This pleasant walk was becoming more of a treacherous adventure. 

Now the path took a turn downhill.  At the bottom was a stream where just one small stone poked through.  Fine for a nimble antelope.  Not so good for a plump lady approaching bus-pass age.  Oh - jump, wobble, wobble, grab Hubby's hand - LANDED!!  

Now, where did the path go?  One came to a dead end.  The second took us deeper into the bush.  By this time there were loads of pink triangles and traps but no definitive path.  Hubby noted my panic as I feared that a black creeper was a snake. I squealed out loud.

I voiced my opinion about the walk in a calm manner, considering.  I really did not think that DOC would have prepared such difficult paths for people. There had been no mention of hacking through undergrowth and jungle in their leaflet!  Hubby was inclined to agree.  

We made a joint decision. Reverse mode was put into action.  There was the stream.  Ah, there was the bush where my best 'Prada' sunglasses (bought for two dollars lady in Vietnam) had fallen from my pocket.  I noticed they had gone when we emerged into a rare patch of sunlight.  It had been too dark under the bush canopy to need them before.  

Oh look - the mown grass!!  Oh and look - the ORANGE sign!!!  No worries.  It had been fun in a perverse sort of way and I would have lost a few calories.  We would have to come back another year to try the correct trail.  

After a long, cool drink and a chat to some German tourists, we set off along the dusty road in our mobile home.  We deposited some rubbish in the skip.  Had my arms been longer, I could possibly have climbed in the skip to recycle some of the items deposited there.  Tents.  Chairs.  All manner of useful things and all just out of reach!

On we drove.  Realisation set in.  The dustbins were out.  That could only mean one thing - the dustbin lorry was on its. way.  Fingers crossed that we would meet it on a wide section of the road.  We saw the dust from an approaching vehicle way down the track.  That gave us plenty of warning to tuck into a little left-hand shelter.  So the dustbin lorry passed us by.  Phew!  

What we failed to spot was the Coromandel Postie in his large van.  That was a bit of a shock when he turned up around the next bend.  Speaking of bends, can anyone explain the significance of all the shoes, boots and trainers we see perched on fences by bends with a view??  Never a pair.  There must be an awful lot of people hopping around this island.

At the junction, we took the road towards Kennedy Bay.  We hoped the gravel would stop soon.  It did ......,and then it started again.  And so it continued until we had almost reached Coramandel.  Quiet, clean Tarmac followed by noisy, dusty gravel.

As we approached Coramandel, we noticed a large funeral procession.  We parked up and walked across to the DOC office.  I'd had a bit of a brainwave. Perhaps my DOC pass could be emailed through to here from NZMCA (New Zealand Motorhome and Caravan Association to the uninitiated). 

Slight problem.  A notice on the door  proclaimed that the office would be closed until 1pm as everyone was attending a funeral.  Ah, we must have passed them earlier.  Undeterred, we thought we should buy some much-needed water, a bucket and a bowl before lunch.

As we opened the Motorhome door, things looked different.  The shiny glass hob no longer shone.  It was covered in a layer of gravel dust.  On a not so close inspection, so was everything else!  Methodically we started to clear and clean our sad little home.  Carpets were taken up and out.  So were seat cushions.  They were beaten and brushed vigorously.  Next, everything that could not be moved, was carefully wiped, several times.  My supply of Jiffy cloths was halved in an instant.  Ah that looked better......until we opened the cupboards!

The gravel dust had entered every possible vent.  Over two hours later, the Motorhome was almost restored to its former glory.  Some of the outside would have to wait - but the DOC pass wouldn't .  Hubby left that to me while he rested after the exhaustions of housework.

This time, the office was open but this was not the DOC office.  I was directed around the back of the building and told to look for a door with a keypad.  Just knock and they will come out of hiding.  I did and she did.  The smiling, rhyming Trudie Moody.  

She was so helpful.  She loaned their phone so I could call NZMCA.  When I finally got through, I expected my request to be rejected.  'Hmmm,' said the official,'I've just completed your self-certification too.  Where do you want it sending?'  My mind went blank.  I didn't have my little, black book with all the important things like addresses.  I plucked up the name of the company who had converted our Motorhome.  We would be returning there.  Ah, she knew them and their address.  

And the DOC pass?  Well, once paid for, it was soon emailed across, printed, signed and laminated, all thanks to Trudie Moody.  I left her in peace, while I strolled along the Main Street.  I called in at an Op Shop (charity shop to us).  Hubby found me there.  Evening was approaching and there were a few free places near the Police Station.   The French family beside us appeared to have noisy, young children. I am not sure what they had for tea but they were soon sound asleep.  Très bien mes petits.  Night fell and so did my eyelids.  Bon soir x


Being a wet, miserable day in Dunedin, I have the chance to bring a little sunshine into all those admirers out there who are waiting anxiously for my next blog (ha ha!)

Way back on 21st October, it was Hubby's decision to drive along the narrow, dusty, gravel track on the north-eastern side of the Coramandel Peninsula.  I make a point of saying His decision because, in the past, I have been accused of navigating him onto some terrible roads.  

Today's road was on a bus route.  It looked a little like a 'Roy Road' (named after my brother who is brave enough to go where others fear to tread in his quest for motorhome adventures.). Our track wound in and out, up and down along the coastline.  Mrs Satnav almost had a nervous breakdown.  At one point we appeared to be floating in space, with a large question mark above our vehicle.

Houses were few and far between.  Most had the steepest drives imaginable but their views must have been stunning.  

There was the occasional heart-stopping moment when the van decided to skid on a bad bend.  Nothing that Hubby couldn't handle.  Thankfully nothing was coming the other way.  Indeed nothing came the other way until we had almost reached a place called Port Charles.

In for a penny, in for a pound, we brave Trekkers drove ever onwards.  At last we dropped down to sea level, into an exquisite, little sandy bay called - what else?- Sandy Bay!!  The DOC (Department of Conservation) had a free site here.  We pulled in and had a good walk around. 

 A car drew alongside.  Three Spaniards and one Basque national (What? - More dreamboats!) pulled alongside.  They obviously thought we were locals now Hubby has such a good tan.  They wanted to know where to find the nearest petrol station.  I half-ran, so as not to further damage the dodgy Achilles, back to the van.  Mrs Satnav confirmed that they would have to return to Colville.  They decided they had enough to reach their destination, Stony Bay, with sufficient for the return journey. Ola.  Hasta la Vista and all that.

We checked out a little rackety bridge with a weight restriction of 75% of Class 1.  Not knowing the weight of Class 1, we walked onto the bridge together and thought that if it could hold our weights, it could hold anything.  

On our way back to the van, we met Allan Turner.  Not the character from Emmerdale Farm.  I believe he is deceased.  Well, the actor who played him died.  I am not sure what they did with his character.  He's probably in Spain with Annie Sugden, playing on her maraccas.  No, this Allan Turner was the local Environmental Health Officer.  His work had brought him out here.  We invited him in for a drink.  Oh, look at the time.  He might as well have lunch too.  While we ate, he gave us some tips on places to stay

He suggested we drove over to Stony Bay for the night.  As well as being beautiful, we would hear the Morepork there.  This bird is named after the noise it makes - More pork.  He gave us his card and offered us to 'look him up' if we were ever in town.  I put his card in a safe place, so safe that I cannot find it, so will never be able to 'look him up'.

So, on the recommendation of our new acquaintance, we stowed everything away and left the free, freedom site for the unknown Stony Bay.  As it turned out, that was an excellent decision.  Belonging to DOC, we had to pick up an envelope from the Honesty Box, fill out the details and pay our dues. Where else on Earth could you get a view like this for ten dollars?

We had a choice of sites.  Several years ago I visited a clairvoyant.  She was very good and many of her predictions have come true.  One hasn't.  She had been quite insisted we would live at number 42.  We looked at the spot we had chosen.  Halfway between 42 and 43.  We shuffled the van forward a few yards. Number 42, just for Laura-Sue.  

We checked out the facilities.  It had a 'long drop' toilet which looked like the shed Grandad used in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'.  This was slightly upmarket as it had an antiseptic foam hand wash and a twirly air vent.  Hubby was most disrespectful, saying that whilst passing wind, I had almost twirled the top off!!

He went for a walk on the beach, while ii went to 'Meet the Warden' (sounds like the name of a games show).  He was a jolly fellow, all the way from Croyden UK. His wife was from Oregon US of A.  She suggested I contacted DOC and ask them to forward my pass to an address where I could collect it.  

They loved their jobs but knew that Labour Day would be a test.  It was hard to imagine the hundreds of people who travell all that way on that gravel track.  

I returned to Hubby.  We considered a three hour trek to the next cove but thought it better to tackle that tomorrow. Instead, we sat back, watching little ducklings waddle by with their mother and father.  

We listened to the strange sounds of birds we had never heard before.  No sound of 'More Pork' though.  Hubby took out his treasured NZ bird book, a gift from his even more treasured daughter. In just one day, he had spotted a Paradise Shellduck, Fantails, Tui, Oyster Catchers, Pukeko, numerous Kingfisher, White-fronted Tern, NZ Pigeon, Whir and Black-Backed Msgpie, Little Egret, Heron, White Faced Heron and a Pied Shag (apologies for the last word.  It IS the name of a bird).

I wrote up more blogs, read aloud more adventures of Pirate Pete on Radio Hauraki and started to make the bed.  Hubby shouted for me to 'Come outside.  Come outside.  There's a lovely moon out there!'  (Remember that one ??). Not only was there a bright moon, but a brilliant Venus and a myriad of twinkling stars, galaxies and the Universe. One of those heart-stopping moments, made even better when you know you are loved by the person who shared it with you.  Later, we snuggled in bed, listening to the waves lapping against the shore and an owl hooting in the night.  Peace, perfect peace!!

(Typed up especially for Gordon to read on his UK birthday x)