Tag Archives: Dave

Te Awanga

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I had a really good day when I shot this video. A break in the weather allowed me to get out and about a bit.

I’d gone into Napier and had a look around there, and then I’d gone to the Library. The thing about Libraries is that local libraries keep material that has local relevance. I was looking for something particular and local… and it was there.

I was only in the Library a couple of hours before I had what I needed, and then I moved on to my main stop of the day. Otatara Pa.

otatara pa

Otatara Pa was already established and occupied by the time the Kurahaupo people arrived in Hawke’s Bay

The excitement for me here had been heightened by what I’d learned at the Library.

I’d picked the Pa site out from Google maps, and read up on it somewhat. I liked it because it overlooked the plains, but also had line of sight to Mahia and Ruapehu. That suited me perfectly. The Kurahaupo people came from Mahia, settled on the plains, and the person I was going to follow, Tumatakokiri, had left from there to go towards Ruapehu.

At the Library I learned that the Pa was already occupied by the time the Kurahaupo people arrived.

It was sensational walking around visualising what was happening on its tops, on its flanks, and on the plain below.

The ‘main man’ in the Kurahupo story at the moment is Whatonga. He had three sons that are important to the storyline; Tara, Tautoki (Rangitane’s father) and Tumatakokiri.

At the Library I had discovered that where I was camped was the beach that the Kurahaupo people had arrived on, and where they built their ‘kainga’, village.

Whatonga and his people had walked on the beach I was now parked on.

Lunar eclipse

Partial and full eclipse, seen from the beach at Haumoana

The eeriness of that discovery was heightened that evening by a clear sky and a total Lunar Eclipse.

The next two days were an outdoor write-off.

Bad weather was coming. I’d seen it on the forecasts and spent a morning fruitlessly looking for somewhere suitable to hunker down. The tail end of a cyclone was going over and for the next couple of days things were going to be a bit rough. I was looking for somewhere with shelter from wind, and height above rivers.

Scouting around the free sites in the area I didn’t find anywhere likely. They we right next to water, or open to the wind, or prone to falling trees closing the access. I gave up on the freedom camping locations and pulled onto Te Wanga campsite as the light began to fail. I liked the campsite immediately. It was just like Piha, a mix of permanent people and tourists… and the manager and residents were all easy and friendly too.

I also liked Te Awanga for another reason.

Te Awanga is where the Whatonga and Hotuwaipara lived when they had their first child.

The wind picked up and stayed up for 36 hours. Getting in and out of the van meant risking being thrown on the ground as the wind grabbed the door, and my doormats made a new home in a downwind hedge.

I was getting rocked around quite a bit in the van, but fared much better than a couple of French tourists. They had to chase their tent down the beach after it took off in a squall. The next day they spent drying everything, EVERYTHING they owned.

The second day was mostly just wind, not as bad as the previous day but still enough to eject me onto the grass if I opened the door carelessly.

The wind had peaked at over 80 kph and that had prevented me from putting my satellite dish up… otherwise, apart from being bounced around a bit I was fine. I’d done better than some I saw on the news… the car underwater on Tamaki Drive, and the Campervan on its side in Nelson.

Overnight, the wind blew itself through, and the skies cleared, and this morning I could see across the bay back to Mahia.

Goats

Te Awanga in the early morning light

As I walked down the beach and up the riverbank my mind was full of the details;

Whatonga paddled out of this lagoon to go fishing. This is where Hotuwaipara spiked her hand on a Rock Cod. This is where Whatonga and Hotuwaipara had their son, Tara-Ika.

As a boy, Tara would have played along the river bank I now walked on. Just over the hill at Waimarama is the Pa that he built, and his Marae is at at Maraetotara…

Extraordinary.

On to Heretaunga

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I always enjoy Mahia, but it was time to move on. The skies hard darkened again, so even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t film again for a few days… but I don’t need to.

There a few points I was bothered about, but on reviewing the video I’m sure that it’s all fixable in the editing. Here’s hoping. I now have a few more pre-shoot checks to make:

I need to check that my glasses aren’t on too crooked, that the lens hasn’t picked up some dust or spray, and that I’m evenly lit across my face .

If the light is directly across me i.e. my face if half lit and half shaded, then the camera keeps adjusting the aperture according to what’s in the centre of the frame… and that makes the background keep going light and dark. I can either manually set the aperture, or stand in a more evenly lit position.

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. If I stand in an evenly lit position, then I may not have the right stuff behind me, or can’t point to the things I’m talking about. And fixing the aperture sounds easy, except, I have to be stood in the frame to set it… and if I’m stood in the frame then I can’t set it because I’m IN the frame… out of reach of the controls on the camera.

Anyway, it’s all more leaning on what to do and not do. At least I’m on top of the sound issues now. Now that I have my cables re-wired I can hear the sound in playback on the camera, which I never had before… I wouldn’t pick up any wind noise, or clothing rustle until I was back at the van editing… and by then it was too late.

So, all in all, Mahia worked out well. It took longer than I’d have liked, but then, I’m not in control of the weather.

Mahia to Napier

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I drove back to Wairoa, and topped up my fuel there, and then it was back over the top to Napier. I really wanted to get some pictures of the Napier to Gisborne railway line (now disused), it’s an engineering marvel. But getting good photo angles was tricky, and when I did see a nice shot I couldn’t stop or turn.

The railway picks a line through and across steep sided valleys until it drops back down by the Esk River, and it left me wondering just how the people from the Kurahaupo made it through here.

Goats

There really were wild goats all over the road for the next 2 hours

Their hard work would have started about where the sign said “Beware of Goats next 70 km”… and they were right about the goats.

The Kurahaupo people were, as far as I understand it, on foot, and there were no roads or tracks. They also had no pack animals or wheels, so they had to carry everything on their backs… and they had to cross at least five significant rivers; Nuhaka, Wairoa, Mohaka, Waikere, and Esk to get to where they were going. None of these can be avoided without a huge detour.

I am going to do some more research locally. The Kurahaupo people had a lot of stuff to move, so it would make a lot more sense if they had used the coast, and moved by boat. If I had the choice of carrying stuff, or paddling it in boats, I know which I would do. I would take the time to build canoes. I am also wondering if they managed to rescue one of the Kurahaupo hulls… Napier library tomorrow!

Lake Tutira

Lake Tutira

I’m sorry I’ve not captured some of that scenery between Mahia and Napier to show you, but finding good vantage positions was difficult. The photo’s I did get weren’t good. You’ll have to make do with this picture of Lake Tutira instead. It is a DOC campsite, so I thought I’d check it out as I was passing. It would be a wonderful place to stop in summer, and is duly noted.

It was getting dark by the time got through Napier. The Council here will fine you for ‘freedom camping’, but also provides free locations for people like me with vans that are ‘Self Contained’. From their list of campsites I’d picked out two likely looking ones.

I didn’t get past the first.

As soon as I pulled up I could see it had all five boxes ticked; stunning view, quiet, clear line of sight for the satellite dish, clear above for the solar panels, and flat. As I parked I found it had another wonderful attribute… live music.

In the fading light the lady in the bus next to me was stood outside playing her violin, and she was very good. I don’t know who you are Lady, but Bravo!, it was wonderful, thank you.

By mid-morning, most of the people had gone, including the violin lady. They had been parked on the turfed, grassy meadow part of the campsite, and it had rained well in the night. The field was turning to mud and they all moved on before bogged in became a liklihood. I am parked on the stones of the shore-meadow margin, and can’t sink in.

I am on the coast immediately to the South of Napier, parked 15 paces from the high tide mark (and a metre above it!). Facing out to sea I have Napier to my left, and Cape Kidnappers to my right. Each is about 7 km away.

The view here would be stunning but unfortunately, it can’t be seen through the drizzle, and it looks as though this is set in for a few days.

Tomorrow I’m going to ‘reccie’ the Otatara Pa to work out exactly where I want to stand to say which bits. But for filming I need a clear day as I need line of sight from the Pa back to the Mahia Peninsula and across to Mt Ruapehu. Both are visible from there… but only on a decent day… and I may not get that until Sunday.

We’ll see. As I said before, I’m not in charge of the weather.

There’s another reason I think that the Kurahaupo people might have moved by canoe and not walked… and it’s to do with the name they call the place they settle at; ‘Heretaunga’. But I’m going to leave you guessing about that one for a while.

Sunny Mahia

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I finally got a clear day… at least most of a day.

The weather came through exactly as forecast, mostly sunny until late afternoon, and I got through all the video that I wanted recorded.

Tonight I’ve download all the video from my 2 camera’s to my laptop, and done a quick sort on it. I sort it into 4 groups; what can I just drop (all the camera setup, checking that I’m in the frame, checking sound etc), good dialogue, cut-away shots (detail shots of all the features that I talk about), and stuff that’s going onto this Blog.

It takes a while, but it will make someone’s job a lot easier later.

I’ll be leaving Mahia tomorrow, but I’m in no screaming rush as I haven’t quite decided where I’m stopping tomorrow night.

My next block of filming happens about four hours to the South of here. The next place the Kurahaupo people go is the plains of ‘Heretaunga’… this is the fertile plains around Napier and Hastings. Today it is famous for its fruit, particularly grapes. Some of New Zealand’s best Red wines come from here.

The Kurahaupo people liked it because they could grow Kumara and Taro.

In particular I’m going to Otatara Pa. Just look at the extent of the earthworks on this hilltop and ridges!

I’m looking forward to this. I’ve never been to Napier or Hastings before.

On Nukutaurua beach

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Working at Nukutaurua

Working at Nukutaurua

The weather is still pretty bad here at Mahia, bad enough to not be able to film. So today I again went around to Nukutaurua and parked there on the side of the beach, overlooking where the Kurahaupo was wrecked.

I finished writing up the Nukutaurua post (now uploaded) and also the scripts I will use.

The forecast for tomorrow is that I will get a clear spell of weather until the evening. With a bit of luck (and sufficient preparation) I might get all my dialogue shot in one day.

Here’s hoping.

A break in the weather

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Today the rain eased and by lunchtime had brightened somewhat. I packed up the Heems and headed ‘round to where I am filming the sequence about the wreck of the Kurahaupo. It’s the beach that Nukutaurua Road runs along on the northern coast of the peninsula.

The gaps between showers didn’t let me get much done. In all I might have perhaps 15 seconds worth of final content… but, it’s progress.

I did get a lot of the peripheral shots done… all the ‘cut away’ shots I need; out to sea, rocks, along the beach, watercourses etc. So that was all good.

It was good to put the keyboard down for a while and get the camera’s out.

There are a few stars out tonight, and the forecast for tomorrow is looking sort of OK so with any luck I’ll have another go then.

Mahia

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Ngauruhoe

Mt Ngauruhoe in the early morning

5 Mile Bay on Lake Taupo was just a stopover on my way to Mahia. But parked up on the lakeside was still something else. Taupo has something for all sorts of visitors, active or sedentary. At one extreme there’s the Taupo bungee, at the other, the Prawn Farm… where you sit under an umbrella with a fishing net on a pole and scoop out prawns. There are coffee shops, restaurants, galleries and knick-knack shops and of course, the Lake with all the water based activities.

Ngauruhoe

I was a slow learner today. I did this twice.

I was parked on the lakeside, and after the spectacular sunset of the previous night I woke to a calm and pastel dawn. I really wanted to get a shot of Mt Ngauruhoe in the morning light, and as I stood by my tripod waiting for the cloud to reveal the peaks I managed to boil my coffee milk over twice.

Soon enough I was on my way to Mahia.

According to Google Maps the journey should take 3 hours and 20 mins, but I knew that this was impossibly optimistic. Even in a high performance car that would be optimistic, and I wasn’t in a high performance vehicle, I was in the Heems. There is not a single feature of the Heems that could be considered high performance, and I like it that way.


5 Mile Bay to Mahia. Click to open larger map

As the day progressed the rain grew steadier. I didn’t mind the rain at all; the farmers need it.

Dropping down into Eskdale I was suddenly surrounded by lush and level fields of vines, and I thought about the original settlers that turned the land here into fields instead of forest. They had come from England’s Lake District… here is its namesake .

From Eskdale the road mostly followed the old Napier-Gisbourne railway line, all the way to Mahia. The railway is an incredible engineering achievement, and I hope to bring you some pictures of it on my way back… unfortunately the rain didn’t allow it on the day.

Wairoa was the last town of any size before Mahia, and there was one thing I needed as a matter of some urgency… reggo’ for the van. I tried to follow the signs to the Post Shop, but kept ending up in the doorway of Hammer Hardware … so I asked there.

You know you’ve left the big smoke behind when the Post Office and Bank are on a counter at the back of the Hardware store.

It’s currently raining here at Mahia, and the forecast is that it will continue for over a week. That’s a bit of a problem for me as the main purpose of my visit is to film a sequence on the wreck of the Kurahaupo. We’ll have to see how things shape up… I haven’t written the script for that piece yet, or worked out precisely where I stand for each segment, so I have plenty to do even if it’s raining. Apart from anything else there are still over 80 other posts to write… so I won’t be twiddling my thumbs here.

For now, I’m going to progress Tasman’s voyage a little more… and see what the weather does.

5 Mile Bay, Taupo

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It’s important to know some things, and one of them is this. Plans aren’t like the Ten Commandments… plans can change. No stress, no bother, just different.

I checked with Google maps for the best time and route to Mahia, and it said going past Taupo was a full hour quicker than the route I had planned. I had intended to go through Rotorua and do my shopping there, but Taupo was just as good. I know my Pak ‘n’ Save’s… and there’s one in Taupo. I also needed a Dick Smith’s (that’s like Curry’s if you’re in the UK) and there’s one of them there too… so, via Taupo it was.

Dry

The dried landscape as I leave Wind in the Willows

As I pulled away from Wind in the Willows, the ‘Wingers’ (as in; ‘wing’, not ‘winge’… I’ll tell you all about ‘Wingers’ another day) all waved me off; three different groups of them. That was nice. I’ve no doubt I’ll meet some of them again someday somewhere.

I like the Wingers, (I’m one too by the way), they almost always give you a wave as you pass them on the road, and they are almost always thoughtful neighbours on a campsite. Elizabeth knows what ‘Wingers’ are, I introduced her to them while she was over with me.

It needs to be said that very few Wingers are Goons.

Anyway… driving away from Wind in the Willows I really noticed what these last few days of sun had done. The brown hills were browner and drier. True, many an Aussie farmer would be delighted to see the few green tufts among the brown, but this is New Zealand, not Australia, and the farmers around here need some rain, and soon.

Driving back towards habitation, signs began to spring up, like the South Waikato Young Farmers proudly announcing their Christmas parade, Dec 6th, High Street, Putaruru. But quite which Christmas they were referring to wasn’t immediately apparent.

Along the road a little was a sign to a shed selling sheepskins and possum skins, and just beyond that they had them all made up into nice little rugs and booties for the tourists. In front of the Possum skin slipper shop was a row of old soldiers… in their deck chairs, still in their uniforms, enjoying the midday sun. Honest! I had to look twice to realise they were mannequins. Nice one.

Taupo

On the lakeside in Taupo

Coming into Taupo is always a thrill. You come over the brow of a hill and suddenly the lake is right there, directly below and ahead and most of your field of vision. Lake Taupo is the source of the Waikato River, and big; 30km by 35km. As I looked at it I tried to conceive of the single event that formed it.

A huge hole was made by a single explosion about 26,000 years ago. It filled up with water and left behind the big puddle we call Lake Taupo. Now that’s quite a bang.

I like Taupo, it always has a good feel to it… and today it had the things I needed. I knew Pak ‘n’ Save would have everything on my list, and even a few extra’s. Today I treated myself to the ingredient that’s the essential complement to any vegetarian dish… (Christopher knows what’s coming next)… a chicken! That’s got meat sorted for the next 3 days.

At Dick Smith’s I was looking for something simple, but very important to me. For weeks I have battled with sound on my video’s.

When I use my wireless lapel mic’ it delivers a mono signal. That’s OK, I might speak French and German, but I don’t speak in stereo. The issue is that when I review and edit these clips, I also do so in mono, except it’s on the other of the two stereo tracks. I can hear nothing. Also, if I upload this footage as it comes from the camera, then anyone using a mono device, like a smartphone, can’t hear anything either.

To overcome this I’ve been using a tedious process that strip’s off the soundtrack to a separate file. Then I use an audio editor copy the right track onto the left track. Then in a movie editor I add the new sound track back as ‘music’ accompanying the video. It sort of works, but it’s a real pain, and it takes a long time.

I’d had a bright idea. If I worked out which wire coming from the camera was which channel (left and right) then I could drop the silent channel, and connect the wire with the signal to both left AND right channels.

I just needed a couple of audio connectors… and Dick Smith would have something I could use to make this work. They did.

I also needed to renew my reggo’. At the nice little coffee shop I happened to find myself in I inquired where the Post office was. The lady didn’t tell me where it was… she just very patiently pointed out to me that it was Sunday.

I need to be careful where I park for a few days until I get this done.

5 mile bay

Where I am parked at 5 mile bay. Click to open the map

It was 3 o’clock by then, so going on to Mahia wasn’t so smart, and I opted for a local campsite instead.

From Taupo I followed the lake edge round to ‘5 Mile’ beach. Here, there’s a DOC campsite on the lakefront.

A kilometre back down the road, a room with a lake view will cost you $150 per night… mine is free.

So, I had a change of plan, and instead of another 4 hours of driving, I have an evening on the side of Lake Taupo.

I took the opportunity to solder up my new connectors and … whammo! My video’s now record with sound on both channels… so no more editing. What a great result for the day!

Oh… and I also had a magnificent sunset.

Ruapehu

Late evening light on Ruapehu

Raupehu

Sunset across Lake Taupo from the 5 Mile Bay campsite

I noticed that the Six o’clock news was playing as the sun set. Did I miss the clocks going back?

I guess Daylight Savings is for people with watches.

I’ve added a bunch of photo’s to my FB album, April 2014. https://www.facebook.com/dave.horry.5

Mahia tomorrow.

George and Mildred

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One Goon goes, another arrives. This evening it was the Goon with the chocks.

But before that, here’s a video.

I’d just shot this video, when a caravan pulled on. The ground here is deceptively uneven and despite first appearances there aren’t many places that are actually flat… and the best of those were already taken; I was on one of them.

I could hear the engine as they drove forwards and backwards on and off their chocks. Normally, this isn’t anything unusual. If you’re going to be parked up for anything more than a quick overnight stop, then it’s worth taking the trouble to get it as level as is possible; you always regret it if you don’t.

This time however it seemed to go on for a very long time. I topped up my coffee and took a seat outside for a proper look.

The husband (I’ll call him George) drove forwards and backwards onto his chocks. They did this again and again, directed by his wife (I’ll call her Mildred). Each time he reversed the result was the same. The caravan slowly lifted, then lurched, toppled and dropped. Each drop was accompanied by a clatter. George pulled the caravan forward again, got out and fiddled with something on the ground, and then the whole process was repeated.

The difficulty it seems was Mildred.

All she had to do was tell him how far to come back, so that the wheels rose exactly to the limit of the blocks…but she was getting it wrong; that much we could all hear, from one end of the campground to the other.

Wind in the Willows is an idyll, an oasis of calm, and George and Mildred were causing an unseemly disturbance. In a city this sort of thing might be easily overlooked, but here their activity stood out like a carnival, and everyone was watching.

I don’t want to mislead here. When I say ‘everyone’, I mean me, the lady from ‘Lady Largo’, and the couple at the far end who had showed me their really clever brackets to prevent the awning lifting in the wind; four people in total.

We were all on our feet looking on… along with all the other watchers.

Small birds had stopped their flitting and sat motionless on their perches. On the river, sixty swans had pivoted towards the action, and forty cows stood shoulder to shoulder along the fence line, all trying to figure out what on earth was happening.

While the action continued, no conclusion was reached; it just repeated relentlessly.

Rev, reverse, rise, lurch, clatter & drop… scratch head, rub jaw, and repeat.

After a while the difficulty became apparent. Like Lady Largo, and the bracket people, I have a pair of magnificent sturdy triangular wedges for this specific purpose, but George was trying to get his caravan wheels to rest on piles of wooden blocks.

People in the larger vehicles have these too, typically people in busses. Their weight is too much for wedges like ours, they simply get pressed into the ground, so these folk carry a set of solid blocks, wedges, planks and boards to both lift their wheels, and distribute the load.

George was trying to do the same, except with a few odd lengths of four by two and a couple of bits of old shelving.

The result was that each time he got the weight of the wheels to bear, the blocks shifted, rocked, slid, or turned, until one side or the other gave way and the caravan bounced down onto its suspension once more.

After about 20 minutes of forwards, and backwards, and in and out of the car, George gave up on Mildred and took charge of giving the directions himself.

This put Mildred in the driver’s seat, and pretty soon we all heard precisely how she was getting it wrong; she needed to get both wheels to hit the ramps at the same time, she was too fast, she was too slow, too timid, too aggressive, or not smooth enough.

He barked the instructions, and the caravan moved forwards, and backwards and occasionally up.

But every time the result was the same… rise, lurch, clatter, bounce.

Mildred was getting it all completely wrong, and George was getting wound up.

Having moved onto the prime spot on the riverbank, I wasn’t using my chocks, so I walked over with them. We ‘Wingers’ are helpful like that.

George was short for his weight, and all up an odd looking package. His singlet had seen good times, but these weren’t those times. It was stretched over a barrel of a chest with flabby but brawny arms that filled the huge openings. His shorts particularly caught my eye; not because of the fabric or the cut… but because of the overall shape. George was followed around by an arse the size and shape of which I had only hitherto seen behind overweight, black, American women.

At the other end, his fat round head sat abnormally close to his wide shoulders. It was as though he’d been born missing a couple of vertebrae.

All of this combined to give him the general appearance of a bulldog.

One of the things about Bulldogs is that you can’t imagine them smiling… that was George.

George and Mildred were contradictions. Unlike George’s robustness, Mildred was petite. She was lean, to the point of skinny, and had a slightly stooped bearing. She had the perished, scrubbed bare look of someone who’d had a hard life of domestic labour, and I spontaneously imagined her with her arms in a tub, or scrubbing a doorstep.

She looked like she bought her clothes from a women’s magazine; particularly the sort that you see in the Doctors’ waiting rooms. You know the ones “Women’s Weekly” or the like. You pick them up, because that’s what’s there, and find yourself learning the ten crucial things you need to do to slim down for summer. The advice all seems a little out of kilter until, you discover that you’re reading about the summer of 1964.

That’s where Mildred’s wardrobe came from.

I’d always found it odd that the ‘Women’s Weekly’ has 12 issues per year, but is still called a ‘Weekly’. Perhaps they don’t think ‘The Women’s Monthly’ will sell as well.

There was a hint of a ‘Royal’ in the way Mildred dressed, and I decided it was the frock; the last time I’d seen a floral pattern like that it was on the Queen Mother. Mildred didn’t have the hat or handbag to match though, but her glasses did have an aristocratic influence. Unfortunately the aristocrat in question was Dame Edna.

As I grew closer to them I began to see that I was making a mistake.

It was a sticky evening and the exertions were getting to George. He was flushed in the face, and sweat beaded on his forehead.

Mildred’s assistance had clearly taken its toll, and he had quite enough on his hands without somebody else sticking their beak in. It was hard enough getting this job done with ‘her’; the last thing he needed was more help.

It turned out that George was quite like me in some respects. Though totally different to look at, I recognised some familiar traits.

As a man, I am infinitely capable, I am never wrong, and I never fail to achieve something I have set out to do. That would be admitting defeat, and a real man is never beaten.

I could see that George was like this too. Like me, he would rather drive for a couple of hours longer than stop and ask for directions… And he was going to balance his caravan wheels on these blocks, even if it took all night to do so.

One of the downsides of being infinitely capable is that other people don’t necessarily recognise it, and sometimes they think that you need help. But when you are infinitely capable you never need help… ever! That’s the whole point isn’t it.

Being offered advice when you’re infinitely capable isn’t just annoying, it is extremely insulting.

As I closed on him he became increasingly aggravated, it’s one of those ‘inversely proportional to the distance’ things you learn about in physics.

When I reached him I thought I could see the first whisps of steam rising, and I knew I had committed a grave error.

He had a face like thunder, and I recognised the expression immediately, I’ve worn it myself many times. It said:

“If I needed your bloody help I would have asked for it.”

When you are infinitely capable, all advice is un-needed advice, and offering help is no more, or less, than a direct accusation of incompetence.

The obvious thing for him to do was to accept the chocks gratefully, and then he and Mildred would both have a comfortable night. I wasn’t using the chocks. No-one was disadvantaged or put out in any way. It was a good solution.

But that couldn’t happen.

By approaching with the chocks I was assaulting his very manliness.

Women completely lack the capacity to understand the dynamics of this. All they see is grown men behaving like children.

Just in case I was confused, George explained things to me.

The eleven carefully selected pieces of wood he had brought were exactly what was required for the task at hand. He’d never needed fancy levelling wedges before, and he didn’t need them now… and if they were actually worth having, then he would have brought some with him.

That wasn’t quite what he said, but it’s close enough.

My exchange with George had been rather abrupt. I’d meant to let him know that where they were parking, their satellite dish would be shadowed by that big oak tree. But then, he probably already knew that anyway.

I retreated with my chocks, feigning as much grace as I could. I was like the beaten batsman returning to the pavilion. Lady Largo, the couple with the clever brackets, sixty swans, forty cows and a handful of birds in the bush, all witnessed my slow and humiliating walk back to the van.

Back under my awning, with my laptop, fresh coffee and a bowl of cake and cold custard, I settled down to watch the sunset across the river.

The birds that had been busy all day were now quiet and still, and the overwhelming hiss of the cicada’s had settled into an even rattle. The swans, now in groups of two’s, three’s and fours, were slowly drifting back downstream to re-gather as a flock before the onset of darkness. The river flowed steady and silent; the only sign of motion was the occasional branch carried by the current. Otherwise it was still as a mill pond, undisturbed except for a whispered splish as something unseen below fed on the surface bugs.

The sun went down, and the mozzies came out; that’s how things work on the riverbank.

Most of the cows had returned to their business. Just a last few remained, uncertain if the show was over or not.

With the fading light George had had to lower his expectations.

He had enough blocks to raise one side, but not both, and so the caravan was finally stationary with the driver’s side standing conspicuously higher than the passenger’s. It was a most unsatisfactory result, and it left him very grumpy indeed.

My chocks, still unwanted, sat on the ground beside my van.

After the caravan had finally stopped moving George had gone inside; to open the windows, to unfold everything that needed unfolding, and to connect everything up properly. This was obviously better accomplished by himself alone; and Mildred sat there in the car, waiting patiently for further instructions.

Eventually, the lights came on, the step was placed at the door, and Mildred gingerly stepped in with a box of groceries, no doubt praying that if the stack collapsed, it would be under his weight, not hers.
As she entered I heard her say… “it’s a pity we’re facing the field, not the river”.

“That was brave” I thought.

The last words fired at Mildred told me that the windows she’d failed to close were now letting in mozzies.

George stayed in his chair in front of the dark TV as Mildred moved around closing the windows.

So there they sat, in a van full of mozzies, with their backs to the view, a blank TV, and on a list that the Titanic would have been very pleased to sustain.

I had no doubt at all that it was all Mildred’s fault.

Soon their light was out and a calm finally returned to the campsite.

The more-pork’s coo-ed at the moon shining on the river. The air cooled and filled with dew, and the thinning cicada’s foretold the end of summer.

The sun was up by the time I walked out to enjoy the swan parade and my first coffee of the day, and George and Mildred’s caravan wasn’t there.

It had moved away from the oak tree, it had turned around… and George wasn’t talking to Mildred.

She was probably most pleased by the last bit.

The cows know best

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The Heems at Wind in the Willows

The Heems at ‘Wind in the Willows’

‘Convection showers my arse’ I said putting a reef in the awning.

That was the forecast, … “convection showers”.

My attention had been grabbed by the flapping of fabric as my awning got rattled by a sudden gust. Half the sky was blue, and half black. The wind came in sharp little gusts, and the temperature had dropped noticeably. I looked at the cows in the neighbouring paddock. They were gathered under the trees.

‘Convection showers my arse’ I repeated, rushing to move my laptop and radio inside before the imminent deluge. By the time I had shortened my awning to a metre, and was all powered up again inside, the thunder was rolling long and free. Three days of beautiful weather was going to take a break for a while.

A hour later the cows under the trees had moved on… and so had the thunder.

Cows are smarter than meteorologists.

It was a productive day, but sometimes things can get frustrating. Just as I was about to put up the latest post on the Kurahaupo’s progress I saw a problem. On my fifteenth re-read I realised that I’d said something several times that could cause problems…. “Aotearoa”

In the Kurahaupo voyage diary I’d repeatedly referred to New Zealand as “Aoteatoa”. Wrong. The people on the Kurahaupo could not possibly have referred to this place as “Aotearoa”, that didn’t come into use as a name for the country until much, much later. So I changed it, and then checked back through all the other posts to make sure I didn’t have the same mistake there.

It’s a constant issue, checking that the detail of everything is all correct. Just because I think I remember reading something somewhere doesn’t make it so… or true.

Still, all in all it’s been a good day.

‘George’ moved on with his menagerie, and indeed, he did have an interesting story to tell… ‘truck driving goat herder’ he called himself… he keeps a herd of goats in his back yard. The Council dropped by and mowed my lawn for me, we had some decent rain for the farmers, I had some advice on where to park-up at Castlepoint and I was even offered a glass of 30 year old port… but then you can’t have everything can you.

This evening I’m watching TV as I work. “Mr Selfridge” is on, and I like that, but I am getting more that a hint of ‘deja vue’ as I watch; these are the same episodes as I saw in England while I was over there.

I’ll watch the news later… but if I want to know what the weather’s going to do… I’ll ask the cows.

One final note: I’m sure the Goon with the generator is still disturbing the peace somewhere… he’s just not doing it here anymore.

Arrividerci Piha

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This is it

I took myself up to my favourite sunset spot this evening and shot this short video, and in the morning… I’ll be gone.

Last sunset Piha

My last Piha sunset for a while

After months of preparation and planning it’s time go.

Piha, and the people here have been very good to me, and it’s sad to leave. But then, it’s not forever… and it’s not as though I’m going to go anywhere bad… well at least, not for long. If I don’t like where I am, then I won’t stay longer than the time it takes to snap a couple of pics and split.

I only have a few final bits and pieces to do… my last load of washing is still on the line, and in the morning I’ll do the last of my dishes… and then one last good shower… that I’ll definitely miss.

Other people might rate campgrounds by their Kitchen facilities, child’s entertainment area… whatever. For me the criteria I remember above all others is the showers. Most campsites offer you a choice… either a dribble of hot water, or a lot of tepid water. Piha is among the very few I’ve stopped at that gives you a lot of hot water’… and I’ll definitely miss that. I’ll be looking forward to that on my return… along with seeing a couple of special smiling faces; Fiona and Kevin. Thanks for everything, and I’ll see you again soon.

Kevin, remember I’m coming back to help build a shed and a fence… don’t have all the fun without me!

I’m on my way South, to start following Abel Tasman’s course, but as I’m telling that story I want to simultaneously tell the Kurahaupo story. The two paths collide dramatically on December 18th 1642, and I want my accounts of the Voyage of the Kurahaupo, and the Voyage of Abel Tasman to coincide at that point too. This means I have to advance the Kurahaupo story quite quickly.

By the time I reach the South Island I need to have progressed the Kurahaupo from French Polynesia, through Rarotonga and the Kermadec’s to New Zealand. From there they went down the East Coast. I’ll join their journey at Mahia, where they abandoned the Kurahaupo, and follow their path onward from there.

My immediate task therefore is to get the Kurahaupo story up to where I will join it at Mahia, and I’ll do that on the Banks of the Waikato… at ’Wind in the Willows’.

So for now… that’s it. Arrivederci Piha… I’ll see you when I get back.