One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.
Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.
Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow
At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.
One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.
Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.
My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!
Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. “Oh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere 🙂 Good story anyway!!
Stacey enjoying herself.
Sarah having a giggle.
Kath. My grandfathers brother Stan’s daughter.
Roy and Fiona having a natter.
Stacey and Sarah, Jan’s daughters.
Roy. My grandfathers sister Elsie’s son.
Linda, Jans younger sister and my grandfathers sister Gwen’s daughter.
Margaret, My grandfather’s sister Glady’s daughter.
Fiona, Jan and Bryan
Sarah and her Auntie Linda
The whole family around the table
Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.
Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.
I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.
Wellington beckoned with some photographic work for some ads and a manual for a client I’ve worked with for nearly 20 years. The plan was to drive down in Rafe, take my gear and photograph some people in and around Wellington doing their thing.
Click on an Image to enlarge
So off we went checking in with our old friends Dianne and Gary along the way in Taupo, and the next day, checking in to the Wellington Top 10 in Petone.
They were doing an off season deal where if we stayed for more than 5 days, we’d get an extra two nights for free. That worked perfectly for us as the work was finished in 5 days and we’d get to catch up with some of Fiona’s cousins for the last days.
The client also arranged for a small rental car so I could get around to all their sites and get the piccies done which was magic.
Once the work was done, we had a half day where we could have a bit of a look around with the car to see my old school in Clifton Terrace in the city in Wellington. Its now called a model school. I’m not sure what that means but it was two classrooms and went from the primers all the way to standard 6. I was about standard 2 or thereabouts and occasionally used to catch the Cable Car to school 🙂
The house we lived in then has now gone and is roughly where the motorway is by the Aurora Tce bridge.
We checked our old house in Eastbourne and later, my grandparents old house in Melrose over the hill from the Zoo. The house was huge with a massive garden up the hill behind which was almost vertical.
I remember watching the old Bristol Freighters taking off from Wellington Airport across the other side of Lyall Bay. My bedroom when we stayed there (we were living in Christchurch then) was on the top floor and used to get the lighthouse flicking through the window every now and then on the wall… amazing.
He also had an amazing workshop and showed me how to make string puppets and a lot of other things. All sorts of things came out of that small workshop. He made some trolleys for us (younger brother and sisters) to play with on the terrace outside above the garages.
He was a really clever guy and I could never work out why my mothers nick name for him was foolie 🙂
A house with lots of memories.
After returning the rental car, we caught the bus into the city with the idea that we would visit Te Papa and see what had been updated but that was first day of lockdown and it was closed, so we settled for a nice lunch at Mac’s with a glass of wine.. very civilised !
We’ve stayed at the Top 10 before and it is really the only Motorcamp in Wellington for bigger vehicles. It is well equipped with everything and being quiet, we pretty much had a whole section of 6 parks to ourselves for the first part of the week.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
Wellington top 10 reception !
Amazing reception area!
The BBQ area at the top 10
One of the best games / entertainment spaces I’ve seen in a Holiday Park.
More of that amazing games room
Plenty of room
Fiona up on Mt Victoria
I had to get this.. everyone else has taken it 🙂
One of the old Cable car trams
Outside Te Papa
I had to photograph some people (formal business portraits) using a portable studio and they were very obliging in letting me use a corner of their conference room for an hour.
They are about to install a heated pool which sounds huge. That will be great as it is a little bit removed from anywhere but the bus stop to the city is only a 10 minute walk away.
They have the best TV / Games room I’ve ever seen in a campground and everything else is tip top. A nice park with everything you would expect from a Top 10 park.
Earlier in the week, we checked in with Fiona’s Cousins, Shona and Bruce and their partners in Plimmerton.
After stopping at their local supermarket which has the best parking for Motorhomes I’ve ever seen, we stayed in Fiona’s other cousin Malcolm and Michelle’s driveway before heading back up to Taupo.
It’s always nice to catch up with Dianne and Gary in Taupo. Their house is on the market so it might be our last night at their old house. We enjoyed a fun night with a glass of wine or two and lots of laughs.
A week of fun in Wellington with a bit of work thrown in but lots of great memories and nice to catch up with people we haven’t seen for a while too.
Yay .. its the end of lockdown.. we’re away again.. almost ! Here’s a couple more posts from early 2017 until we get away again.
Saturday was a big day. Rob and Helen were off to collect their new Autotrail Tracker RB and they were beside themselves with excitement.
Click on the images for Hi Res
Their first Tracker RB had taken them and their daughter Chloe. all around NZ over the last 4 years or so.
The new Tracker is a different colour, has Automatic Transmission and has 180 horses. It has more room in the front lounge area, a separate Shower and Toilet area and lots of other little tweaks.
Having Rafe parked right behind, I was amazed with the changes in some of the vents, and other fittings which you see on Dethleffs and other makes. Even the tyres are different from the older models.. now Michelins.
We drove down to meet them at Athenree Holiday Park as a meeting point and to help celebrate their first night away in it.
We hadn’t long checked in when the first glasses of bubbly were consumed. A nice afternoon in the sun with a swim in the hotpools later as well.
Its a lovely Motorhome and they’re over the moon with it.
As the title says.. lots of bedtime reading manuals for Rob!
Having spent the last few days with our friends Rob and Helen and their 11yr old daughter Chloe, Rob was keen to show us a modification he has made to his fridge to make it more efficient. Now Rob is a clever guy and is very familiar with things electrical so to see it working as well as it does is fantastic.
Robs fridge is an under the bench style Dometic 3 way fridge. They imported their AutoTrail themselves from the Uk a few years ago and of course it came with a “Northern Hemisphere” fridge. The difference between those and the “tropical” fridge is that the NZ fridges apparently are setup to be able to deal with hotter climates.
The work around for Uk fridges in NZ is to fit a 12v fan in the cavity behind the fridge with a thermostat to expel the air from behind the fridge, outside.
The 12v fans use next to no power and are really reliable.
Rob says it has made a massive difference to its performance and both he and Helen are really pleased with the way it performs.
There is a link to an Aussie web site which details the technical which Rob found that makes it relatively easy. Here’s the technical link
This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!
What a great weekend! The weather was great and we had things to do.
After Fiona had finished work, we headed out to one of our favorite spots, the NZMCA park at Ardmore, a hop skip and a jump from Alex, Sarah and the Grandkids.
As always, remember to click on the images to see Hi Res.
Our friends, Rob & Helen and their daughter Chloe were heading off for a week or so to Napier and Gisborne so it was great we could pop in to Ardmore to see them off. When we arrived at about 7:30pm, they were off on a walk so they were a bit surprised to see us there when they returned as we hadn’t confirmed that we would be there.
Alex, Sarah and the boys came over after their tea and we all caught up in Rafe. Lots of fun.
The Ardmore NZMCA park is in an airfield precinct so a little noise comes with the territory, usually small planes and sometimes Helicopters.
That morning, things were different. At 8am, we heard the repetitive bark of a Sergeant Major type next door in the cadet parade ground teaching St John Juniors how to march. It was quite interesting to watch too as some didn’t know the left from the right so there were some interesting moves happening.
They were all togged up in their black uniforms and looked good, some even wearing their medals. There was one trainer who forgot his black clobber and was doing it all in his Red shorts.
As Fiona said, good on him for volunteering his time on a Saturday morning but it did sort of spoil the overall look.
About 9:30, we said goodbye to Rob, Helen and Chloe and they headed off to Taupo for their trip to Hawkes Bay and beyond. We left as well and went around to Alex, Sarahs and the Grandkids for the morning and around lunchtime, headed towards one of our other favorite places, Rays Rest at Miranda. We were catching up our friends Gary and Chris who were helping other friends Mark and Tina with their first trip out in their new, second hand Motorhome.
Rays Rest is a great spot and the weather was behaving as well.
After arriving early in the afternoon, we caught up for cups of tea and later a couple of drinks and then headed off in Gary’s van down to get the fish and chips for tea from the famous Kaiaua fish and chips shop. Gary wasn’t drinking so that worked well. It was nice to see how much progress Mark had made on his motorhome as when he got it, it leaked and had quite a lot of dampness in its linings. .. now all gone. More on this in another post soon.
We had a great night together and called it quits and hit the hay.
The next morning was nice in diffused sunshine with little wind. We sat on the foreshore watching people fish and just soaked up the atmosphere.
Gary, Chris, Tina and Mark were going to carry on to Thames and Coromandel so after lunch, we left them and headed home. A nice weekend.
Mark came back from a Turners Auction about 8 or so months ago and surprised us all when he arrived with a 1995 CI Travelhome on a Ford Trader chassis.
Mark & Tina are old boating mates and knowing that he has his hands full with a car restoration, a bike restoration and still has his boat to look after as well, I wondered where he would get the time from to work on what was a do up !
Click on the images to see Hi Res
The galley area
The sleeping accommodation. Completely relined and insulated as it leaked and was rotten.
Mark & Tina with their new Motorhome
Above the Califont the vent was leaking. Vent no longer leaks.
The Galley area
Wee fridge.. a little beauty
The Bathroom and Toilet
My first observation when I first saw it was rot, dampness and a whole lot of work but what a transformation when I saw it just recently.
All the leaks are fixed, the rot has been removed, leaky hatches have been replaced and all the sleeping accommodation has been completely relined. It looks fantastic.
The weekend we spent with Mark & Tina at Rays Rest was great and for their very first trip away, everything worked well.
Mechanically, it just plods away with the 3.5 l normally aspirated Ford Diesel and Mark tells me it flew through its first COF.
We sold our last house in October last year. Settled in February this year and since then, we’ve been in Rafe fulltime mostly staying at Takapuna Holiday Park for 3-4 days a week.
Click on any image to see Hi Res
Fiona has been able to walk to work from there in Takapuna and I’ve been able to do the odd commercial photographic job from there. We escaped in the weekends to where ever with a month off in the South Island as well. Its been fun but I’m very happy to be in a house again.
We did put in offers for a couple but were turned down and in hindsight, it was a good thing as what we have now is pretty bloody good! It also has a park for Rafe once we extend a concrete pad in the next few weeks.
The Kitchen needs doing and Fiona is already sizing up a new Oven.
Here are some images done by the real estate agency.
Click on the Gallery below to see Images of the House
Rafe’s parking pad to be extended
Kitchen needs doing
Lots of sun
Best of all its only 90 Square metres (we came from 240 sq m) with enough room for our friends and small enough to vacuum with the new Dyson in a few minutes.
It has a view out towards the North over the Waitemata Golf course in Devonport and is 5 minutes bike ride from about 4 beaches.
The week before we settled, I went to Adelaide to see my family with my two sons Andrew and Alex, as we haven’t seen any of them over there for quite a while. We were only there for 4 days and my sister Jayne went all out and organised a meal with the family and took us to see McClaren Vale and Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills which was great.
It was all a bit of a surprise for a few with my brother Tim coming over from Melbourne and neice flying in from Sydney too. Lots of fun and nice to see everyone.
Click on the gallery below for a Slideshow
Meeting my younger brother Tim and his daughter Emma at a hotel for breakfast. Alex and Andrew on the right
My sons Alex and Andrew in Handorf in the Adelaide Hills
Andrew and Alex on the plane
At the lockup heading for the house
Our stuff in the lockup
Loading our furniture
The next day after getting back, we settled on the house so it was all a bit hectic! It all went reasonably smoothly and we moved in a few days later.
Even though Rafe has steadies, its really nice to walk around and not have that little wobble under your feet.
Its always good fun to come here especially in the middle of winter. Nothing beats a soak in a Hot pool!
It was great to catch up with the crew and for me, its always great to see what Bruce has added to his Motorhome being identical to ours.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
Cabins are popular
People enjoying the pool
The fishing machine at Kaiaua
The neighbourhood watch at Kaiaua
Rafe and The Neismann
The new Cabins
Grant and Sharron arrived the next day from Hamilton in their Holiday Rambler. We caught up with them with their friends and their Ramblers at Tokerau a year or so ago.
Miranda Holiday Park has changed hands and as its a while since I’ve been here there have been some notable changes.
Bruce and Judy having dogs, had a fenced off area at the back which meant their two dogs could wander around their Motohome park without disappearing off around the camp. A fantastic addition for the camp for Dog lovers.
There is also a Volley Ball / Badminton net and some more cabins added at the back which were all booked out when we were there. Nice!
We had fun reminiscing with the first Dethleffs getother and the changes over the years.. that was nearly 5 years ago !
A fun weekend.
On the way home we stopped in at Kaiaua for our favourite Fish and Chips for lunch.
While we were at Fairlie, I met our neighbours Peter and Val who were heading to Amberley to see their daughter. She just happened to live near the Campground at Amberley Beach. This was to be our next destination too.
Click on an Image for Hi Res
After leaving Fairlie, we checked with old friends Ray and Margaret who have settled now in Geraldine. We met them at Peskis and they later showed us around Lake McGregor when we were with them at Tekapo. We had lots of fun together and it was neat to catch up with them again and see their house.
From here it was a quick stop at Christchurch to get some chemicals for the loo and then off to Amberley Beach.
We arrived there about 4pm and the shadows were already starting to get long. The camp is split into two bits. On the right is an area for Dogs and on the left is an area without Dogs. We went to the left and signed up and put our money in the “wooden maiden”. The cost is $5pp plus $5 for power.. very good value with some new loos nearby and the beach just through the sandhills.
We went for a walk down to the beach just for a look and it looks fantastic with Pines on the foreshore in the sandhills.
It reminded me of when I was growing up in Christchurch, we used to have family holidays somewhere up this coast and I remember the pine trees that you had to run through to get to the beach and there were lots of old Cribs.. ahh the good old days !
It looked a bit bleak this time but this was only because it was getting late.
In the morning we left there and headed through to Kaikoura. Coming down from Wellington poured with rain all the way so we didnt get to see much but this time it was brilliant sunshine.
Its amazing what has been done here by the roading and railway people fixing things up after the earthquake. We saw some of the brave abseiling workers fixing back wire barriers to stop rocks falling. Amazing
Arriving at Kaikoura for lunch, our first stop was to the Pier Hotel where we’ve eaten before. Looking across from there its amazing to see all the rocks that have been pushed up by the earthquake.
One of the things still noticeable is the state of the roads around the area but Kaikoura is looking great and its great to see the good folk of Kaikoura bouncing back after such massive damage.
The Netspeed Speedtest Amberley
Download : 42.05 mbps
Upload : 12.16 mbps
Ping : 50 ms
Moving from the Queenstown Holiday Park after my job was complete, we were looking forward to catching up with Rob and see Helen who had arrived in Lowburn from Auckland the day before.
Click on an Image for Hi Res
We were at Rob and Helen’s place for the weekend and Sunday was planned for a quick bike ride down to the lake by Lowburn Inlet.
Rob had some chores he wanted to deal with and was going to walk down later so we all set off.
Fantastic sunshiney day and warm as toast as long as you kept out of the shadows!
We ended up down by the inlet where we’ve stayed in Rafe right by the lake. Its interesting to see that the absolute lakeside has been fenced off but it is still a wonderful place to stay. I believe the loos have had a bit of a makeover too.
We didn’t stay long and we biked back up the Lowburn Valley to check out some of the newly built houses. The real estate scene down here is cruising along nicely and I’m not surprised looking at some of the fantastic homes being built here.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
By the Lowburn lake
A shot from up on the hill looking over the valley. Lake Dunstan on the right
Looking across the trees and stream at the back of Rob and Helen’s place
Fiona and Helen getting back
When we arrived back at the house in time for friends Ross and Karen afternoon drinks, Rob was just arriving back from a walk. He didn’t say where he’d been but Rob doesn’t do small walks 🙂