Friday, March 8, 2013



We were fairly tired last night. John decided we needed to stop by Telecom in Thames to learn how to work our new cell phone. We were up early enough for me to have a soak in the bath before washing my hair. I'm still having problems with my scalp and a few other areas. My wheat free diet hasn't changed things much although I think there might be signs of slow improvement.

We left home at 8.15 and I don't think we forgot anything. Between us our luggage weighs less than 35 kg and that includes the laptop and other cabin bags. Our stop to learn how to adjust sounds on the phone was done in less than 15 minutes. We stopped at our new, since last December, favourite restaurant. The Stone kitchen is near the junction on the Paeroa and Maramarua Roads. I was only 10.30 am so we had a very leisurely cappuccino with a wheat free cake. Sadly the cakes were indifferent and a little dry but yoghurt on the side improved them no end.

We watched a farmer drive his land rover over the hill. A trail of dust followed. Some of these paddocks have been planted in maize. It looks wizened and yellow and I didn't see the fat cobs hanging down as you might expect on mature plants. Tough times for these farmers.

We arrived at Skyway Car Park 30 minutes earlier than planned and were immediately whipped off to the domestic terminal. I filled in the time reading Blogs so the wait went very fast. Had a lovely flight but my, how brown is the land! One thing commonly remarked on by travellers is the greenness of New Zealand as you come in on your flight. Not at present. Auckland Airport has beautifully kept lawns between runaways. They looked like freshly mown hay paddocks. All the way down the islands the hills are brown. Irrigated areas stood out unnatural and almost obscenely fertile. The patterns made by the large pivotal irrigation were intriguing. The circles could have diameters as large as 1.5 km with wedge shaped fencing dividing the green circles like a pizza. The circles were made up of many decreasing circles where the irrigator wheels made semi-permanent tracks as they move slowly across the paddocks day after day. All this irrigation is taking a toll on the rivers. I'm not sure how long before the dry weather becomes a very serious problem but we need rain. We need at least a week of rain starting gently and continuing to steady rainfall all over the country.

Amanda picked us up without any delays and then told us she is hoping she is not getting whooping cough. She has been exposed to it unwittingly, by neighbours over the last 5-6 weeks. She is on antibiotics as a precaution and had a nasal swab so will know for sure on Monday. I think both John and I have had whooping cough so hopefully we are immune.

No-one wanted to shop and Amanda was not feeling like getting a meal. We arrived at their house about 4 pm and needed to eat something sensible. Eventually I found my way around and grilled some chicken 'bacon' and cooked up a pot of cheese sauce like nothing I have ever made before. The aim was eggs benedict but I wanted to use whole eggs rather than yolks only in the sauce. I heated some milk, whipped some eggs with a spoon of cornflour, (not wheat free but not much per serving) and made a thin custard. I added in mustard and grated cheese. I also grated in a little nutmeg but I think it didn't work so well with the mustard. Amanda had some gluten free pancakes so I laid it out on our plates, covered with 'bacon' a couple of fried eggs and the cheese sauce. It went down well although I did not need the pancakes. Wayne came home from work tanned to a dark brown and a little sunburnt. He is traffic safety manager on a very busy main road site. The sewerage pipes are being replaced and it's planned to be a 12 month job with some pump stations being renewed and old, fragile asbestos pipes removed.

Traffic safety manager sounds so important and it is. It carries quite a degree of responsibility with far more senior people having to answer to him in certain matters. I think it's hilarious because as one drives down the road one looks at these guys and think Lollipop traffic controllers but it's far more complex. There are the people who stand and get told what to do but Wayne has to make layout plans and present safety scenarios, take responsibility for any traffic accidents in the vicinity and manage staff redirecting traffic.

More earthquake houses have been removed. There are extensive roadworks. Permanent repairs are now being made so the workers are on a road for long periods at a time. Amanda was disappointed that the final repairs to their drive were not quite complete. I think there's still a few hours finishing.
We are now getting ready to go to the Ellerslie Flower Show, I think it's going to be cloudy and I certainly hope so.


  1. I didn't realize the drought was this bad. I do hope you get those rains.

    Well, you're on your way... yay!

  2. I'm finally catching up on your blog! What an exciting adventure! So sad to see the hills of New Zealand I remember as so lush and green stricken by this drought. I'm praying for rain. Meanwhile, from my snow-covered hometown, I'm delighted to read about your tropical adventures. Thanks so much for sharing!


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