Monthly Archives: December 2009

From France

This is my first Postcrossing card from France, although Rebecca the sender, is as German student currently studying in France. She sounds like a real language scholar!  The picture is perhaps from the small town of Septemes-les-Vallons, which is in Provence in the south of France. It seems to be just slightly north of Marseille  which is a major coastal city and the second most populated city in France.

The postcard is square which is rather unique, and has an interesting stamp of the Eiffel Tower .

 

On Rebecca’s postcard she tells me that ‘Guten Tag’ is the formal way to say hello in German, and Nouvelle-Zelande is French for New Zealand.

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A Small Caching Trip or Two.

 I said to someone just the other day that we don’t really have seasons here as such. We just have ‘raining’ or ‘not raining.’  Usually I really don’t mind the rain because when it’s not raining this really is the most beautiful part of the most beautiful country in the whole wide world (Hmmm …. I might just be  teensy bit biased though …..) and you don’t get rain forest without rain to make it grow.  Plus, I’m a little bit a weather freak who enjoys extreme weather. 

However, the ‘raining’ has gone on FAR TOO LONG, even for me, this year. Usually Spring is the main rainy season, but now we’ve had almost a month of official Summer. And it’s STILL raining. We’ve been getting one day of glorious sunshine – followed by three or four  or five days of rain. But not our usual rain  –  heavy rain that thunders on the roof, quickly floods the gutters and is over with, to clear quickly to  blue & yellow sunshiny days. No, we’ve been having damp, misty, claggy drizzle – sheets of it floating past the windows. The hills have disappeared, the trees have disappeared. In fact, the world has disappeared – apart from the hammering, sawing and swearing in the kitchen!!! 

Ruger in the Mist

Ruger & Neve in the Mist

So on Sunday, we went caching anyway. We just did the one cache on a small walk that goes along the edge of a local lagoon. And actually the mist added to the atmosphere. Part of the walk is boardwalk along the edge of the tidal lagoon, and then it loops back though a little patch of native bush.  We used to do this walk several times a week, and several times a week we used to amuse ourselves with the possibility of Neve falling off the board walk – which she has, several times.  She is such a busy body, that she is so interested in paying attention to everything else that is going on – except where she is walking!!  So now she stays on short leash – so at least we can fish her up again if she falls off. (And people say that heelers are a very intelligent dog ……… ) 

Yesterday – Monday – we had one beautiful clear sunny day, so we went on a small road trip to pick up a cache or three, and to check on some of our own ones.  We also got to have lunch out at one of our favourite cafes. 

We ‘found’ two caches at a little tourist village called Moana, which is on the edge of a lake about 30-40 minutes inland from where we live. It’s one of those little places that has a small resident population that  about trebles in the summer when the flashy holiday(vacation) homes that get lived in for two weeks a year are filled up.  We did notice that times must be hard at the moment as the pub/motel complex is up for mortgagee sale, the camping ground is for sale, and quite a number of the holiday homes have ‘ For Sale’ signs on them. I guess the recession is hitting those who used to have enough money for two homes. 

Lake Brunner & Te Kinga

Swingbridge over Arnold River

Arnold River lake outlet

I have to confess that we did not need to get the GPS out for the two caches here. Until recently we were co-owners of a large multi through Moana. We’d created it with some other local cachers for educational purposes when we were helping to run ‘Introduction to Geocaching’ days for various groups.  However, it was a pain in the butt to maintain – as you find with a 10 WP multi, parts kept going missing.  So its’ time had come! One of the other co-owners kept a couple of the WPs on as traditionals, and we went out to clear them off our list.  He had changed them a little, so I actually ended up taking a few minutes to find one of them, even though I knew the general location where it was hid very well.  And the other one was literally floating – we’ve had that much rain recently that the lake was the highest I’ve ever seen it. 

Near one of the caches

We stopped for a great lunch at a place called The Stationhouse Café in Moana. We stuck with routine and I had a venison burger while PB had his usual Cajian chicken version. 

Lunch with a view - PB's burger!

Our next stop was Iveagh Bay which is pretty much only occupied by holiday makers. Even more of the homes here were for sale, and there is some really expensive looking places around here!  We got a cache near here – which may or may not have been on this island.

Was it, or was it not, on the island?

 And failed to check on our own cache nearby as we didn’t come equipped with kayak or jet boat today – usually it is possible to walk along the shore to it. 

We drove around the lake to a place called Carew Falls to check on another cache of ours that doesn’t get found very often. And we haven’t actually been back since we placed it either. It’s just a 20 minute walk up to it, but a bit of a drive on gravel (unsealed) roads to get there. So that tends to put people off.  Fortunately it was all in good order, and had basically the same swaps in it that it had when we placed it. 

Carew Falls

The view looking down from the Falls

"Picnic anyone??"

Here are some views of this side of the lake!  There is a great cache called GCG00EBain Bay that we have walked around to from here previously – it’s about an hour around from this bay. We had a little wading to do when we found the cache, but today we’d have been swimming!!! The boardwalk going off to the left leads to a path around the shore to to Bain Bay and the cache. 

Park your truck…. or tie up your boat….

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cemetery Gates

To finish off the day we checked a couple of other caches including a short multi that starts at  a cemetery. It’s just a new  cache, but people seemed to be having trouble with it, though it should be quite straightforward. Everything was in place and as it should be, so perhaps it’s just a little more difficult than we think it is. Might have to add an extra half a star to the difficulty rating…..

 
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P.S. Getting the photos in the right places in this entry has just about driven me up the wall, so some of them still aren’t right, but I’m not fiddling with them aaaannnnnyyy more.  Helpful photo manangement hints from other WordPress bloggers most welcome.

  

Now you see it…

… now you don’t!

When we went out this morning on a little geocaching trip, this was what our east kitchen wall looked like:

That was the old pantry.

Now it looks like this:

That's our laundry - with everything jammed in one corner.

 Looking the other way from the laundry in to the kitchen – some progress is being made on new cupboards etc.

Looking toward the new kitchen.

Last Pic Taken Sunday

See Tracy’s Topics for more info about joining!

Unfurling fern frond

I’m lucky this week! It is a photo I actually took myself, while playing around with settings on the camera. We were out getting a local geocache.

 

 

A Bird in the Hand…

With four days of no mail, I’m wierdly beginning to suffer withdrawl!! This postcard is an official Postcrossing card which I got a wee while back, but I haven’t had a chance to find out more about it until now.

Nordseebad Insel Helgoland Basstopel am Lummenfelsen

 

Silke and her family visited the islands of Helgoland. It is in the North Sea, but it is German territory – after having previously belonged to Britain, and Denmark. It is the only part of Germany that is significantly offshore, taking about 3 hours to get there by ferry.  There are two islands in the group, with only the main island of Hauptinsel being permanently inhabited.

Helgoland has had a varied history, but now is mainly known as a tourist location. One important activity on the tourist schedule is bird watching as many species can be found here on the spectacular cliffs. Silke’s postcard shows the Basstolpel otherwise known as the Northern Gannet (Sula bassana). This is a migatory bird that breeds on both sides of the Atlantic, and can be found as far south as the Equator during the winter. Helgoland is one of its breeding spots. This website The Internet Bird Collection  has a great selection of video and photos of the Basstolpel . Well worth a look!

Gannet feed by diving into the water from quite a height to catch small fish. They may also be found scavenging around boats, or stealing from other birds. They range from close in to the shore to far out in the ocean for food. Gannets often partner for life and most commonly nest on island cliffs, and sometimes in steep, protected areas of the mainland. 

These gannets look very similar to the Australasian Gannets  we have nesting in New Zealand at Cape Kidnappers  in the Hawkes Bay. Some sources suggest that the two are not separate species, but just subspecies.  It is possible to do a tour  to view these  New Zealand gannets up close, which is something on my list of things to do the next time we are in the North Island!

Christmas Day

Finally I’ve got organised to download and sort a few photos from Christmas Day. As it turns out there’s nothing really spectacular – a few cute dog pics, but not too much else. It was actually a really busy day and not that restful at all!!!

At the start of the day PB and I try to get a bit of time to ourselves and have a nice quite breakfast – well as peaceful as you can with a canine audience:

MMmmmm ..... cheese

Mmmm ....... fruit

Then we were off to church at 9:30 to help with the Community Dinner. We had only around 140 guests – the biggest meal in New Zealand has over 2000! We helped with the audio and visual stuff, served food (the stuffing is our ‘job!’), and helped clear the tables and pack up at the end.

Santa visited of course:

We finally got home around 3:30 and had a little break before loading up the van with dogs and going over to PB’s Mum’s place.

Neve "On the way to Grandma's house."

Ruger " Are we there yet, Dad?"

Ruger "Why don’t we have a squeaky newspaper at home, Dad?"

Neve "Grandma has pretty flowers."

Our Cousin Diva

"Pose for a family photo – Mum, you have GOT to be kidding!!!!"

Neve "I’ll have my photo taken with Mum though."

Neve "I MIGHT play zoomies with Diva....."

A ‘lil bit more Christmas

These are some pics from a few more Christmas related things we’ve been doing recently.

Last weekend our church had a combined church service with the Afrikaans speaking church that meets once a month in our church building.  It was a combination Kiwi/South African event and some parts of the service were in Kiwi English and some in Afrikaans.  The Sunday School children from the Afrikaans congrgation did a particularly fantastic job of singing Silent night in English, Maori and Afrikaans.  And the whole congregation did some songs in English and some in Afrikaans.

Carols in Afrikaans

The Bible readings were in English with Afrikaans visuals (at the last minute I ended up doing one of the readings.) Next year I think we should alternate languages for the readings.

Yours truly somehow up the front!

Afterwards we had a ‘ pot-luck’ meal, with some Afrikaans food and some Kiwi favourites.  I tried two kinds of desserts: Koeksusters and Melktert and some other main course dishes that I’m not sure of the names of.  One of our Kiwi congrgation threatened to make lettuce and Vegemite sandwiches but I’m glad that she settled on pavlova in the end!!!

Last night we finally were able to wait until it got dark, and go for a little drive around town to look at the Christmas lights. There are really only a few house decorated, and not whole streets like we had a few years ago. We did not go to the house that won the local newspaper’s competion because it is a bit of a way out of town, but of the ones we saw I prefer that more subtlely decorated houses anyway. Some had just TOO many diffferent things flashing.

We liked how this one turned out with the people in front.

Today I spent the morning helping out with preparations for the Community Christmas Dinner. We don’t have homeless folk as such in our little town, but we have plenty of poor or elderly or ill people who would perhaps be sitting at home with nothing special happening on Christmas Day and no one visiting, and possibly not much to eat. So there are expected to be about 140 plus people to be fed down at the church. I think the cook is catering for up to 180, because she never knows until the day how many are going to turn up.  I was doing table arranging today, and tomorrow both PB and I will most likely be serving food, after doing a bit of last minute stuff with the tables – like putting the lolly (sweet/candy) baskets out.

Bring on Christmas Dinner!!!