Finally back in Aotearoa.

A lot cooler than Cyprus and a bit of a shock to the system. While in Cyprus I had arranged to lease a place up in Parua, near Whangarai. The idea being that I could base myself and my cats there and do a bit of traveling up north of the island. Also it’s a bit warmer.

First Sunday back, Mel and the boys took me to see the place, more an exercise to get the lay of the land, so to speak. Still having stuff in storage meant I needed to ship everything 200 clicks north, so I hired a big van.(truck in this part of the world). Well the biggest one I could drive on my license. Storage is a funny thing. You bring all your stuff with you and coz it may come in handy then find you can live for a year without opening any of the boxes. When you do finally get round to moving in somewhere, you can’t remember what’s in which box or even whether you brought it at all.

Saturday morning 08:30 hours and pick up the van and a sack truck. The van had a tail-lift so the was going to be a great help. By the time the paper work was done I was at the storage by 9:30 and started loading. The crew that delivered the stuff back in February just unloaded their truck as quickly as possible with no sense of order, so I had a shed full of cardboard boxes all mixed together, some marked with the original rooms they had com out of, like kitchen, dinning room etc. but most just anonymous brown boxes. I tried as I loaded them to select the heavy ones for the bottom so I could lift the lighter ones and stack them, utilising as much van space as possible. By 11:45 we had a van full and set off on the 3 hour drive.

My idea was to try to unload the truck and what box I could identify I would put in to the relevant rooms in the new place. This of course would call for a bit of a judgment call as the house the stuff came from and the new house bear no relationship in size or layout but I thought I could at least get stuff in a general location.

Arrived and drove up the narrow steep gravel driveway and parked up outside my garage on a level hard standing. Only to be met by the landlord. “I’ll get another trolley and give you a hand”. This was fine and to be honest a great help time wise but that was the end of the ordered unloading in to relevant rooms. I now have one room full to bursting. So big drive back and stopped for Fush and Chups on the way home. Long hard day, not done that sort of physical work for a long time. More of the same tomorrow

Got an earlier start the next day and the stuff to load was a bit more, bitty so to speak. More odds and sods but still a full truck load. The books and the 5 sheets of marine ply wood were the most problematic. The books had all been packed in same size boxes and were just about liftable  but did not stack particularly well. The important thing, when loading a van, is not to get to you destination, with all the contents in a heap or falling out of the back when you open the door. So a little bit of thought had to go in to the process. The first load was not too bad as most of the voids where filled and the load was stable, the second load as I said was bitty, a couple of compressors tool boxes and ironing board don’t stack too well. I stood the ply wood up along the side of the van and used the books to hold them in place and then pack everything as tight as I could and set off. Bit more of a leisurely drive this time, I knew the way and I was a bit earlier so stopped for coffee. Nice little Italian bakery in the middle of nowhere. Never ceases to amaze me how the NZ economy works. There are café’s and boutiques and odd sort of shops up little country lanes or attached to farm buildings, no passing trade but they still seem to survive?? At the bakery the woman had been cleaning the front windows and a bird, a Goldfinch, had flown in to it a was laying stunned on the ground. Anyway I picked it up and it seemed to be alert enough but very confused so we put it in a quiet spot so it could hopefully recover. It was still there when I left. Hope its okay


This time I was on my own so unloading was hard especially when it came to the ply wood. But all good. Still got my boat and all the stuff that goes with that in storage so that’s another trip but the boat being 6.6 meters long is presenting a bit of a problem for the coming week, as I need to be out of the storage by end of the month.

A few pictures of the new place and the view from the kitchen window and down the drive to the beach.

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Home again home again jigity jig

Monday, 07 September 2015

The journey back to New Zealand was via UK so I could catch up with my two boys.  Mind you I will see them again at Christmas when they visit us Kiwis.  As I said it the last blog the air fare back to UK was ridicules but too late to do anything about it.  We (that’s the royal we) flew via Malta. The leg from Cyprus to Malta was Emirates and was fine.  Malta looks an interesting place so may be grab a few days there next year.  Malta to Manchester was Air Malta whose call sign is KM which stands for Knights of Malta.  Nice airport at Malta and they seem to sell Malta a lot better than Cyprus does so as I said think we might have a few days there next year.  Manchester was it usual scruffy self but at least it was not raining which must be a first.

After 5 days at Lisa’s with the kids it was time to head back.  24 hours before my flight Emirates sent me a mail saying I could upgrade for 40,000 air miles or $1100.  Getting all excited as I had enough miles I clicked on the link in the e mail. “Sorry there are no seats in that class available, please try again later”.   So just for the hell of it I clicked on the link for the paid up grade, and guess what could have any seat I liked.  Mind you there was also a little box telling me that this upgrade would not entitle me to access to the lounge or the car. Why would I spend another grand just to sit in a bigger seat?  Half the fun of business class is the car and the lounge especially as I would have a 10 hour stopover in Dubai.  Needless to say I declined their generous offer.  Manchester Dubai leg on the Thursday morning  went very quickly as the couple sat next to me were quiet chatty and joined me in a couple of bottles of red and a few cognacs.  As I arrived in Dubai just after midnight I had no idea which terminal or gat the next leg was so I asked at the information desk.  They did not know but thought it would be terminal 3, the terminal I ad disembarked at.  So straight to the Marhaba lounge for some scran, a drink and a sleep.  My next flight was at 10:20 hours on the Friday.  Sleep is not really an option in reality. you don’t want to sleep too long and miss your flight and sleeping sitting up is not very comfortable.  Anyway we managed to get some rest and at least I was not in the main concourse with all the hustle and bustle that is associated with the vast Duty Free shopping area that is Dubai.  Eventually there is only a couple of hours to go so I abandoned the lounge for some retail therapy and to find a screen with the flight details and gate number.  Still nothing on the screen yet so had a further mooch, until eventually I got, gate opening in 75 minutes.  That seemed to be the longest 75 minutes I have ever known. Bang! Dubai to Auckland gate number C23.  Now that’s terminal 1.  I am in terminal 3.  So downstairs get the ten minuet rain ride to terminal 2, walk the two kilometre to terminal 1 and rock up at the gate  EK 412 to Auckland 10:20.  Mmm my flight is EK 434 at 10:25 strange..” Excuse me but is this the flight to Auckland”.  “Yes.”  “So why have I got a different flight number?”  “Oh, EK 434 goes from terminal 3 gate 20”.  Walk the two kilometre to terminal, get the train to terminal 3 and arrive just in time to board.  Note to oneself.  Read all the information displayed.

79C was my choice of seat. It’s about two thirds down the back of the 380 in economy. It’s an aisle seat so I can use the loo without disturbing my fellow passengers and you get to watch the trolley dollies wiggle up and down the aisle.  When I arrived at my seat there was a woman sat by the window and the middle seat of the set of three was empty.  Shortly a young Swiss girl arrived but seemed a bit confused but she took up the middle seat.  I was pleased with this as the other lady seemed a bit odd, (Johnny foreigner you know).

As usual I am asleep before we take off.  Not sure what it is about flying but I can remember the last time \I was awake for an actual take-off or landing.  Anyway once the seatbelt sign had been turned off, the lady by the window wants to get out to go to the bathroom.  No issues, unclip my belt but before I can get out of my seat she is stood up on the arm rest and climbing over me and the little Swiss girl,  This lady was not young and wore skin tight leather trousers with shear mesh panels down the outside of the legs.  Very strange.  Must admit I covered my nuts as I picture her socked foot slipping of the plastic armrest and landing on my plums

Meal time also cleared up why the little Swiss girl had been confused.  They serve the specially requested meals first by carrying the tray to the seat number rather than from a trolley.  A nice young Latvian turned up at our row and ask the little Swiss girl if she had ordered an Asian vegetarian meal, “no” she said she was then asked for her boarding card.  Turned out the funny woman was sat in the wrong seat.  Must be very difficult for the staff.  I noticed a large group of Greek or Turkish people traveling together. Of course beside the fact that they stood up in the aisle and chatted so no one could get past, they had also swapped seats with each other. Guess this was   so they could sit with their friends.  They too, had ordered special meals. The poor cabin crew were up and down the plane like a bride’s nightie trying to sort out the meals.  This of course delayed serving us, normal peoples food, by which time the vegies and vegan had finished and were blocking the aisle again or carrying there empty trays to the galley.  The food trolley and worse the drinks trolley kept getting enticingly close to my seat only to be pushed past me to allow people to pass

Boy it a long flight to Auckland woke up after what seemed like days to find there was another 7 hours before we got to Brisbane.  When we did hit the Ozzy coast we still had over 4 hours to Brisbane and we still had the get off and back on before we took off for Auckland.  Brisbane is a quaint little airport and much easier and nicer to transit than Melbourne were I think they must send all the socially dysfunctional security officers to.  Seriously hate Melbourne

Anyway arrived safe and sound to a rather cool Auckland.  Let the next part of the adventure begin.


thinking about going home

Nearly time to say Ta Tar to Cyprus for a bit. I have been here since May and seem to be losing track of time.  All the day just roll in to one.  It has been very hot, which was the whole idea of leaving New Zealand when I did as I did not think I could do a cold winter in my bus.

I had planned on doing a few jobs on the apartment in Pissouri while I was here but just don’t seem to been able to motivate myself.  Partly because there is “always tomorrow” and partly because it’s too hot.

Anyway booked my flight back to Aotearoa for the 3rd September with quick trip to UK on the 27th August.  In hind sight I should have either booked earlier or flown direct to NZ from Cyprus.  I had forgot the school holidays where still on and that the flights to UK would be expensive and boy what a shock, nothing under 300 quid one way.  It was 90 quid to get here.   Would be interesting to see what sort of profit margin is on that.  May be the off season flights are run at a loss to fill planes and they make it up during the school holidays, somehow I don’t think so.  Guess as my Dad would of said. “they used to call him Robin Hood now they call him Robin Sod”.  Ended up paying a bit more and go on a scheduled flight (Air Malta).  The arrival time is not silly o’clock and the luggage allowance is much better than the likes of EasyJet, Jet2 etc.

All done now so just have to start packing the place and getting it ready to be locked up and abandoned for 6 months.

My little scooter I bought second hand, maybe a bit more than second hand, started making funny noises a few weeks ago while I was on my way back from Paphos.  Turned out, the helical gear from the speedo drive on the front hub had come dislodged.  It’s an old bike and it has been cobbled together by previous owners.  Having striped it down could not find anything seemingly wrong so stuck it back together and Bang, first couple of meters it spits it out again.  I know what this is, Speedo head is seized up.  So after riding around for a couple of weeks trying to guess how fast I was going I decided to get up early and strip the clock out.  Not easy but we got there in the end and sure enough its solid.  I then had to strip the mechanism out of the clock to get at the drive and the gears and left it to soak in paraffin (Kerosene) over night.  The theory being that Paraffin is les viscos than the light oil I had and it is also slightly abrasive, so once I do free the thing up a quick few spins with an electric drill and it will lap the spindle in to the bearing.  Got it turning but very stiff and it just got hot when attached to the drill.  So another overnight soak.  No improvement.  This calls for a bit of a mod.  Get the Dremel out and grind a hole through the bearing housing until I can see the shaft then pump oil in to the hole and give it a spin with the drill.  Hey Presto!  All freed up, now just the job of putting it back together.  Bear in mind the weather so I only did a couple of hours in a morning and a couple of an evening so seems to have taken days.

Pissouri is a lovely spot but very quiet and it seems that all the permanent Ex Pats disappear in August so I have found myself pretty much on my own.  Guess I won’t stay as long next year.  I will try and get here earlier too. It won’t be as hot but I have all the NZ summer to plan the little jobs that need doing here next time.

New Zealand is the next adventure as I have rented a place in Parua, up near Whangari, right on the coast.  I am looking forward to collecting the bus, with the bigger engine, and setting of on some adventures but having a house to come back to where I can maybe work on the bus and alter the living space a bit and also maybe make a start on finishing my boat.

15:00 hours so need to slip to the shops and get eggs and things for tomorrow and some cable ties to strap all the wiring back on the scooter.  Then it will be time for a shower and sundowners.  Another day in paradise


I’m mobile

Life has been pretty quiet since arriving in Cyprus and as I live at the top of a hill above Pissouri village, I have found walking to either of the two little general stores a bit of a bind. Going down is okay but coming back up the hill with to bags of groceries is a pain. The big supermarket down on the B6 is is about a 20 minute walk downhill but there is no way I could walk back up from there. This has lead to my diet to be fairly restricted and there is only so many eggs, bacon or chicken dishes you can create. My friend Brian to the rescue. He was going to take his car in for service to a local garage, to a man called George and suggested I tag along and see if George could find me some cheap wheels. George did just that. A 2001 MBK/Yamaha Skyliner, 125 scooter. 750 Euro and he would get it transferred and taxed in my name. Fair play, it’s a bit of an old nail but mechanically sound but I don’t think there is one body panel on it that is not broken and screwed together or fastened with bits of wire. A lot of empty bolt holes and screw holes which make me think that maybe it had been in someone’s garage in bit for years and was cobbled together for me.

As I said it runs well and apart from what I thought was a loose front wheel which turned out to be just getting the tyre pressure right and the fact that the suspension can bottom out if you hit a pothole, it’s all good. I can now get to the shops and the local café as and when I want. New found freedom!

Learning to ride it is a different matter. Unlike my Royal Enfield, this thing is automatic with one of those Variomatic belt drives [mvt/cvt] and a centrifugal clutch. There is no foot brake so what would normally be a clutch lever on the left is now the rear brake. With that said, riding/driving, requires a different technique. You have to get some revs on to engage the clutch and once engaged, the bike will move off. This can be a little too fast. Also going downhill, and there are lots of them in Cyprus, if you close the throttle the engine revs die and the clutch disengages, so there is no engine braking and you end up coasting. That can be a bit scary. The technique seems to be to use the rear brake lever as you would a clutch, rev up until you feel the bike pulling under you and then progressively release the brake. This way you have a constant drive and a much cleaner and stable get away. Going downhill you need to resist the temptation to close the throttle all the way and just keep enough revs to keep the clutch engaged and if necessary use the brakes [both of them] to regulate your speed.

Went to Paphos yesterday on it. Some of the hills are a bit steep but it did not drop below 60 km/hr and seemed to cruise at 80 just fine. So more adventures planned soon

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Head in the clouds

It has been a while since my last blog and I guess this is down to a few things. One, I have left New Zealand to escape their winter, two, I did not bring my computer with me and three, I found that the Samsung tablet I have got in Cyprus is all but useless.

My plan has been to miss the winter and follow the sun so I left NZ for Dubai, primarily because I had a return ticket. I spent 10 days with old friends but realised about the second day that I have no desire to return to the Middle East. The magic that kept me there for 35 years has gone. Much as I would recommend Dubai as a holiday destination and cannot fault the quality of service there, I have done it and need move on. This retirement thing is magic, don’t have to be anywhere or do anything and no stress.

Planned journey.  New Zealand to Dubai, Dubai Cyprus then UK for whit to see my boys then back to Cyprus.  Return to New Zealand end of August/early September.

While I was in UK I decided to go to PC world and get a new laptop, which I did. Nice little unit with a detachable screen so it can be used as a tablet to. Down side it is loaded with windows 8 and the format is like android but does not work that well. There are almost no useful apps to download or buy. But okay in desktop mode. However there is this “Cloud” thingy. My understanding is that you can now save stuff to this cloud and it can be accessed from any device anywhere in the world, well maybe not China and certainly not in the back woods of New Zealand. Vodafone coverage is shite.

My new computer does not seem to give me any option other than the cloud. I have forced it to save things to the hard drive, which is tiny but it is not the default. Now it would appear that I have encountered Microsoft cloud before because when I logged on my account already existed except it was in Arabic. Think this is why I abandoned it in Dubai. Of course I have a couple of Android devises too and guess what Google have a cloud. Not only that, the new laptop is an ASUS and ASUS have a cloud. Adobe now open and store any PDF files I receive in the ADOBE cloud. This is fantastic I now use very little actual memory and can store tonnes of stuff free, access it anywhere at any time [with the above exceptions]. This has thrown up a few issues, which cloud did I but the stuff in, what is the account name and password for that particular cloud and if I have no internet connection, how the hell do I access my stuff?


Little trip north

Well after the Easter rally I have sat on Mel’s path and it has been cold.  I have had the fire going most mornings and sometimes at night.  The bus does get cosy but I find the fire eats wood.  If you try to bank it up at night and close the flu and vents right down it will keep going for quite some time but I Have not managed to get it to go through night.  Think it is a timing thing.  If I went to bed later and banked it up, then maybe it would still be lit in the morning.  Have also discovered that if the wood is too big in section it tends to smoulder rather than burn with a bright flame.  Seems 50mm cross-section give the best fire and with that you can boil a kettle or cook on top of the stove.

Anyway it is slowly dawning on me that I have not much time left as I fly to Dubai on the 30th and then Cyprus and UK later in May.  There are things to do and stuff to be, put to bed.  The bus is almost self-sufficient, guess it is just dumping the grey water and taking on fresh water every 4 or 5 days.  Getting rid of rubbish is also a headache.  The Kiwi’s are big in to recycling, so there are bins everywhere marked up for cans, bottles, plastic and paper but nothing for general rubbish.  Each district council seems to have its own system so when you are traveling it is hard to get rid of stuff.  I have asked a few fellow travellers but they seem to avoid the subject or manoeuvre around it.

With this in mind I decided to take may last trip before I set of for the Mediterranean summer.  I decided to head north as it is supposed to be warmer up there.  We set off on Sunday morning around 11 with no particular place in mind.  I had roughed out a route taking the H1 and then the H12 this would take me through the Waipoua Forest, home to Tane Mahuta, a giant Kauri tree.  These trees used to make up large sections of the New Zealand bush but have been cut down almost to extinction.  This area is trying to save the few that do still exist.

With no plan in mind we drove until we were on H12 and then decided to look for somewhere to park for the night.  This ended up being at Ruawai on the mouth of the Waioa river.  A nice level spot right on the river’s edge with public toilets.  So all good there.  Guess it must have been 3 ish by the time we had parked, so took the cats for a walk and sat out for a bit with a coffee.  Later about 6 ish I thought I would take a walk in to town, maybe have a pint or two and a bag of chips (fries).  The place was closed so back to the bus for a fry up and an early night.  Cats are up early so we were walking around in the wet grass at 05:30 this morning.  The idea was I would then go back to bed for an hour or so, but first would light the fire.  This did not go to plan.  The matches I had bought were hopeless.  If you did not get them to strike first time then there was no way they would strike at all.  I had forgotten to buy fire lighters and had no kindling left.  So after a few failed attempts I decided to whittle some feathers and start again.  This worked but now I was wide awake, so kettle on and coffee made.  I am glad I did not go back to bed as I got the camera out and went for a stroll.  What a beautiful morning.

“Stormy petrel on a stick”
Full English

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Put the ground anchor in and fastened the cats to it.  This allowed me to have the door open and get in and out of the bus without worrying about them escaping.  BBQ set up on the drop down table outside and full English knocked up and eaten al fresco.

Decided today we would go and see Tane Mauta and set off with this in mind.  I had toyed with the idea of staying at Lake Iwi as there are a couple of camp sites there but we pushed on through heading for the forest.  Eventually we got to the Waipoua Forest camp site and booked in.  It was then I discovered that the big tree is another 12 kilometres away but too late to do much about that he will have to wait until tomorrow.

Bit of a disaster waiting for me.  Backing in to the parking bay I missed judged the space and backed in to a large cabbage tree.  This has broken the rear light, cracked the rear window and bent the back panel.  Not happy but my own fault.  Sooner I get the reversing camera installed the better.  There are still fragments of lens embedded in the tree.  Guess this will grow over and in thousands of years time, someone will discover, bits of a red plastic lens in the fossilised tree and make up some plausible assumption about the incident.

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Well the plan was to do steak on the BBQ last night.  It had been a lovely day, sunny and warm but around 5 it started to rain.  Nothing major at first just those big spots that miss you and that was so hard the gutters on the bus could not cope and the water was running straight down the windows.  Typical NZ weather though cleared up almost as quick but it was now dark so that was the steak out of the window.  Plan B, butter chicken and very nice it was too.

The camp ground was in the forest and it was really nice to have a mooch through the trees and follow the trail to the river.  I could imagine when the land was covered in this thick forest and the early settlers came on the promise of free land, only to find the plots were in the middle of nowhere and had to be cleared before you could build or farm.  Must have been hard

New Zealand icon in the flesh

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I guess you don’t realise how much light pollution there is until you are in a forest and there is no ambient light.  It was dark last night, pitch black.  So much so, the cats slept in until 6:30 so walkies, was just as dawn was breaking.  This at least got me up early and full English on the BBQ before setting off to visit Tane Mauta.  It was a long 10 kilometres as it was up hill most of the way but a pretty impressive tree. Hard to imagine that there would have been a stand of similar sized trees when the settlers first started logging.

Tane Mauta

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So that done I had no plans for the rest of the day except head for H 1 and get somewhere pointing towards home.  Some nice spots on the way.  Could live here.

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Eventually ended up in  Whangarei right down on the riverside.  The council had obviously thought of us poor Movanners and had set up parking close to the river and the city centre.  Wish more councils would do that.

Te Matau a Pohe bridge
Town Basin

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Spent two nights in Whangarei and had a good Segway around.  Very good clock museum there and a art exhibition by Billy Apple.  Bit of a con artist me thinks.  I was stopped at the Strand shopping precinct and told that coz I had wheels I could not bring the Segway in, so locked it up at a bike rack.  Considering it is a pedestrian area and that there are lots of tourists with bikes I would have thought there would be many more places to lock your bike up.  I could only find one.  I managed to squeeze the Segway in between two bikes but when I cam back a third bike had appeared.  He must have lifted it in place as there was no way he could have pushed it in between my Segway and the rail.  I had to skull drag the Segway out.  Most inconsiderate.  Typical cyclist, bet he rides two abreast and wobbles all over the place when you are trying to pass him in a car. And he will have a helmet cam just so he can prove it was your fault.

Early doors this morning and back to Pukekohe for 11.  Now need to de commission the bus ready for me departure to Cyprus.


The NZMCA Easter Rally was held last weekend at Pukekohe A & P Showground.  Very well organised considering there was in excess of 620 vans, busses and caravans to park up and look after.

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I must admit I am not a rally type but made the effort to go.  I pay my dues so guess I should show willing and you do meet other likeminded souls.  Guess the happy hour from 4 to 6 was my sort of thing but the entertainment was all a bit country and western for a Tamla Motown man, so I did not attend the first night.  However I did meet up with the elusive “Free Wheelers” the following day at happy hour and did say I would meet them for that nights entertainment.  I got dressed up, shower and shaved, put my best Ben Sherman on and set off.  Got to the tent and there was obviously a hypnotist on stage.  Stuff of nightmares that is so headed home and took the cats for a long walk.  Leo discovered a few rabbit holes and stopping him disappearing was tricky.  He did look impressive in hunting mode though and I wonder how he would have reacted had he met a rabbit.

The rally was on from the 2nd to the 6th so a good while for me to test my self-containment capability and yes did well.  The composting toilet turned up trumps again so no black water to get rid of no cassette to hauled down to the dump station and the fresh water seemed to last even with two showers.

Met up with the free wheelers again at happy hour and got a bit more info on joining their ranks.  They are a group of NZMCA members who are single for one reason or another and hold their own rallies and safaris.  I found it very easy to get in to conversation with them all, which not being a couple I have struggled with on other occasions.

The last nights entertainment was an Irish band, the lead singer I had seen before and she was very good on the fiddle but this time it was just wrong. Apart from the little girls from the Irish Dance School of Hamilton no one got up on the floor.  Escaped as quickly as I could and took the cats for a walk.

Last day and closing ceremony said my good byes and promised to look the free wheelers up when I get back from Cyprus in September.  Then pack up and head home.  Think I was in Ed Street on the Kilkenny by 12:30

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Until next year in Wellington for the 60th Easter Rally