Tag Archives: History

Trains past Baker Street

With the Covid Germ still out there still and it stifling our travel plans, I thought it would be a good time to revisit our month in  Europe in a  Motorhome  following friends Gary and Dianne a few years ago…  about 15 odd posts!

Enjoy

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The night we’ve been packing for finally rolled around and we were off to the airport for our almost midnight flight to Singapore from Auckland. We’d dropped the car off with daughter in law, Sarah earlier in the day and caught a shuttle to the airport.

What we didn’t know was that both of our sons, Drew, his girlfriend Jenna and Alex were on the same flight up from Wellington. We could have driven our car to the airport and they could have driven it home.. never mind. The shuttle was booked and paid for and it was too hard to undo.

At Singapore with our A380 about to take us to London

We left Auckland at 11:55 and about 2am, we both finally got some sleep. I find it really hard to sleep on a plane and dozy bouts is as good as it gets. I end up tired and grumpy at the other end and after a decent sleep, I’m right again:-)

Arriving at Changi at 6:30 odd, we had two hours before the next flight left at 9am. .. 13 hours !!

Both flights was pretty good though. I was watching the flight track and it was interesting to see that we flew over India and then up through Tajikistan and across to Moscow, out to the Baltic sea past Vilnius and then down to the English channel to Heathrow. .. well clear of the trouble spots!

The terminal transfer Train

Arriving at Heathrow was a doddle and what a massive airport. 5 Terminals all connected by trains in tunnels and you walk for miles between things.

Just to get our luggage was a hike through several buildings. I was expecting to get our bag and then go through Immigration. Not here.. you get in a queue, yep, they love their queues and once through Immigration, you get your bag. There wasn’t any customs that I could see.. we simply walked out, amazing. The immigration guy was a great guy and was more interested in having a chat about some of the strange photos he’d seen of people coming through than holding up a big queue 🙂 .. nice guy.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

We were both knackered and made our way straight to the airport Hilton (terminal 4) where we were booked for the night and crashed.

At Paddington with the amazing roof

The next morning, we were up early and caught a train to Terminal 3 where we caught an Express train into Paddington station.

People going for it at Paddington

Paddington is amazing with one of the big wired WW2 looking hanger structures over the whole platform area. Just like you see in all the old movies. Great for piccies so I took a few here. It was busy too with people everywhere.

We caught another train from here to Kings Cross and then changed again to catch our prepaid train to Ely. Kings Cross station is very like Paddington with the huge Hanger like look .. amazing.

A visitor from Hawkes Bay checking out the Baker street sign

On the way to Cambridge was the Baker Street stop. My immediate thought was  Sherlock. When we stopped, the double entrance doors perfectly lined up for the Baker Street signs and while I took a piccy a young girl wandered into the shot to photograph it herself.. all this without getting out of my seat ! My lucky day.

After lunch, we rocked into Ely.  A few trains, cabs and stuff but we’re here and its fantastic.

Great parking at the Coromandel Hotel

This is one of those real gems. We’ve stayed here a few times now and it although the facilities are a bit rustic, they’re clean, they work, its a reasonable price and they’re nice people.

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The parking out the back.. early morning

We checked in at the hotel and after parking Rafe, we were pleasantly surprised to see it was pretty dry given the rain the area had been getting. The secret was that there is a good layer of scoria under the grass where you park. There was a couple of ruts from earlier people but they were easily avoided and it was easy peasy.

After having a look at the Coromandel Mining Museum up the road a wee bit, we went for another walk into Coromandel town for a look around for an hour or so and then wandered back. The shops were open yippee! The Mining Museum is run by volunteers and it is well worth a look at it.. really interesting with a lot of images of early Coromandel. I even found a list of the rules of being a Teacher in the 1870’s… quite funny looking at it now but they were deadly serious.

Coromandel Hotel

After getting back to the Hotel, we went for a drink in the Hotel and later had a meal there.

The Ablutions

The food is something else.. We both had Pork Belly and it was amazing. I even sent a happy snap off my phone to a mate in Taupo and he agreed by long distance.

The Pork Belly Yummmm!

Great hospitality, the food is fantastic and its an easy walk to town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Coromandel Hotel – Armada GPS

Long Bay – Great walks and right beside the water.

This can only be Long Bay about 3 k’s north of Coromandel town and an easy walk.

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It is also part of the Camp Saver scheme and although I’ve been here before on my own, it was Fiona’s first time here.

After checking in with Leanne, the camp manager, she advised us that as they had huge amounts of rain, they still had some sites we could use but most of it was roped off due to mud and slush. This is normally a magnificent part of Coromandel and to see it like this was a real shame for them… its only water and will dry out but with the Covid thing and everything else, they needed that like a hole in the head.

I was given the option of two waterfront dryish sites to park on and we easily got in without skidding but the mud was out there 🙂

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Once we’d plugged in and settled Rafe, we set off for a walk around the headland towards Tucks Bay. You can also camp around there as well. Its an easy 15 minute walk each way and is well worth doing. There is also the Kauri grove as well up behind the camp which is well worth checking out too but we didn’t get to do that this time.

The track back to Long Bay from Tucks Bay
Tucks Bay

With the clouds blowing away later in the day, it was just amazing sitting on the side of the beach doing absolutely nothing but taking it all in.

Great sunset

A great destination with plenty to see and do… stick this one on your to do list.!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Long Bay – Armada GPS

Breaking the cabin fever – Coromandel

We’ve had a month or so of being housebound mostly due to Rafe’s Bumper project and also a full annual service. Getting it back meant we could escape !

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Rafe in the park with newly painted bumper!

Coromandel is somewhere we both thought would be great for a few days before Fiona had to return to work. We only had 4 days so we figured somewhere not too far and where we haven’t been for a while!

NZMCA park

The Thames Coromandel District Council are making some great improvements on the coast rd from Thames. Every time I come up here its different. This time they’ve widened the road north of Waiomu.. there are still plenty of narrow bits but I saw they’re dealing with some of those too.

Star and Garter pub

We arrived in Coromandel early in the afternoon on a Sunday so many of the shops were shut. The important ones like the bars and one of our favorite ones, the Star and Garter was open and they had a special on Gourmet pizza’s $10.. that was us for a late lunch!

After a walk around the town, we returned back to Rafe in the NZMCA park.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

You never get sick of Coromandel, the charm of the shops, even though most were shut as it was a Sunday, there were people wandering around and all of them very friendly. It has a great atmosphere with all the old buildings and everyone seems happy to have a bit of a natter.

We called in to an Metal Art shop which backed on to the NZMCA park and bought an amazing sculpture of leaves made using recycled parts of copper hot water cylinders. Clever use of old materials.

Where i was introduced to my first Husband Waiting chair 🙂

Later, it time to go down to get Fish and Chips for tea and we headed back to Rafe for the night.

A great Day in Coromandel town,  it never disappoints !

Rafe’s Tracker map to the NZMCA park – Armada GPS

Historic Greytown

Another one of those towns that we keep coming back to. The food and shopping is good, the real estate prices like everywhere else have skyrocketed but it is still a lovely little town.

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The Sun is out

We checked in at the local campground as we’ve stayed there a few times before and the manager Ken can’t do enough for you. It is also a Winter Campsaver site so that makes it very cost effective in the off season. Nice showers and toilets and nice flat sites with big high hedges to protect against the famous Wairarapa winds. There is also a swimming pool next door run by the council which you can use in the hot months.

Ken was very welcoming and basically is was park wherever you like. We settled Rafe and plugged in and went for a walk into town and started at the french Café for a coffee before moving on to the pub.

That night when we got back, we met our new neighbours Michelle and Patrick from Wanganui and other neighbours Karen and Ian who have recently sold their award winning Olive Grove. Juno Olives. Really nice people who we spent a lot of time with over the next few days.

Play Area

The next day, we took Rafe to Martinborough to have lunch at one of our favourite Vineyards, Margrains. The Chardonnay is fantastic as is the food.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We started in the main square at a Café in the corner and from there walked around the square to check out the shops. Fiona took a shine to a dress shop there and ended up buying a nice black dress and a wooden necklace to go with it which looks good. We then moved on to Margrains and the slow cooked Pork Belly they do has never tasted better. Nice to wash it down with a great Chardy!

The Pub in town

We headed back to the Greytown Campground to catch up with our neighbours.

On our last day in Greytown we were going to bike up a trail 10 k’s or so to a historic railway station just out of town but we got to the other end of Greytown and it started to pour with rain so a change to plan B. ..

We spent the rest of the day walking through the shops and later had a fantastic communal meal in Michelle and Patrick’s awning with our neat neighbours.

Our Farewell dinner
LtoR Our farewell dinner. Patrick, Michelle, Karen and Ian.

A nice farewell to some super nice people and a great little town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Greytown Campground – Armada GPS

Small town camping

One of the nice things I find about getting out is finding all the little out of the way places you can stay for not a lot…. in other words very good value. They may not be perfectly flat or lacking in something but they make up for it in spades with their charm and beauty.

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Ekatahuna is one of those camping grounds. Great showers, toilets and with power and a well equipped kitchen for those who want them, it is surrounded on three sides by river and is just a stunner.

There is a Heritage walk to the town which is only 5 minutes away.

We arrived in the mid afternoon and checked in and we simply just parked in the middle of the grass. Fiona and I settled opened up some vent, plugged in and we were off to check out the walk around the camp by the river.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The remains of one of the end supports of an old swing bridge that went across the river as a short cut to town is buried in the trees and can still be seen.

The River surrounding the park

There is a cabin there too which you can stay at and its all very casual and relaxed.

A great place to stop over and quiet too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ekatahuna Campground – Armada GPS

Norsewood

Since we’ve done our DNA, I’ve taken a great interest in things Scandinavian as it turns out that I’m pretty much all Scandinavian through my fathers line with an emphasis on Danish!… even though his Dad was from the Fens in the UK… real Viking country 🙂 it is really interesting.

So we couldn’t go past Norsewood without popping for a look and having lunch at the Café there. The food is amazing as is the coffee.

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The Cafe – ex Bank
The Food!
The Cafe

Norsewood was settled by many Scandinavian family’s who arrived in Napier in 1872 and it grew from there. You can feel it everywhere you look and the area is predominantly still populated by descendants of these original families.

Gas Station / General Store

There is history everywhere you look. The Café used to be the original Bank of NZ and has been used as a Barbers shop, the local Doctors rooms, Music teacher and lastly a Café.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

There is also a Viking Longboat in a glass encased shelter down in the reserve on the corner.

The Viking Longboat

After a walk around the town and a stop at the Norsewear Clothing shop to buy some shirts we got under way again. One of things at the Norsewear shop is that if you spend more than $10 there, they’ll give you a pair of nice wooly bedsocks in either black or white adorned with either Caravans or Motorhomes. Fiona went for the white Motorhome socks and they look very cosy.

The “Wooly Socks” shop

A neat town and there is a camping ground there too if you want to stay.  A neat wee town just oozing character and history.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Norsewood – Armada GPS

The Ngongotaha Trail

Staying in the Rotorua Family Holiday park, we were very close to the trail into Rotorua..in fact it starts just behind the Ngongotaha shops but we got on from right over the road.

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Fiona on the Trail into town

We set the bikes up and we were off. The Trail starts down the side of a wide bike lane on a road and then turns into the sealed path through bush right next to an old disused Railway line.

On the trail into Rotorua

Eventually it comes out at Lake road which is the main road heading to downtown Rotorua and past Kuirau Park.

The view from the top. Biking into town

We were heading into town for lunch at Eat St. I’ve been here several times but never actually stopped here for a feed so after checking all the shops out, we decided on a shared Pizza from and Italian Restaurant which was fantastic.

Eat st

An hour or so later we rode around to Kuirau park and had a look at some of the Thermal areas there. Amazing to see boiling mud in the middle of a built up area like that.

Plenty of heat
Kuirau Park

After having a good look around here, we headed back down to the trial back to Rafe at the park.

Coming back to the camp

The round trip was about 16k’s according to the bike so not far at all and a good bit of exercise on a well setup and safe Trail.

Down the road from the camp

 

A Gentleman’s car made by Gentlemen

This is the description of the Packard car by the creator of his Packard Museum, Graeme Craw.

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Graeme started the Museum in one of his farm sheds in Anawhata in the 1950’s. Over the years his collection expanded to Engines, Motorbikes, Earth moving machinery and other interesting stuff.

Lots of Packards

He eventually moved the collection to Maungatepere where it is now. Now run by Graeme’s sons family, it is a not to be missed stop off on the way from Dargaville to Whangarei.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Its an amazing collection of cars, tractors, earth moving equipment, telephones, sewing machines and more. One of the stationery engines there even dates back to the 1860’s.

Phones

Army Indians

Not far from Kiwi North, it is about 5 k’s out from Whangarei and there is fantastic motorhome and caravan parking there too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Packard Museum – Armada GPS

Poutu Marine Hall Campground

This is a trip I’ve been looking forward to for several years but have been put off by the roughly 25k’s of unsealed road and I needn’t have worried as its better than most metal roads around NZ and it is being sealed as we speak.

Pouto Marine Hall Campground as its called is beautifully run by husband and wife volunteers John and Janine, who live opposite and is run for the community that own the campground.

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The campground

Its is a fantastic site set up on a hill looking out across the Kaipara eastwards towards Tapora and has easy access to two great beaches.

The hall (villa) was the original Custom House built in the early 1800’s and used to clear the vessels cargo as it came into the wharf that was just down off the beach. The wharf is being rebuilt along with the sealing of the road.

Rafe by the Historic Hall

The Hall houses the Kitchen, Shower and Toilet facilities that are provided for the Campground.

Tent town

The campground is also a participant in the NZMCA Campsaver scheme as well.

The front of the old Custom House

We were lucky to get a park right up next to the Hall plugged in.. lucky as the campground was chocker mostly with families in tents and with only 8 powered sites, it didn’t take much to fill !

The view from the Campground across the Kaipara

On our second night here, we were sitting in Rafe having a glass of something when walking alongside Rafe was an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. I jumped outside and called his name, he was as shocked as I was that we were both is such a small place and that we both knew someone 🙂

The Lounge inside

It turns out that they lived in a Bach they have had there for over 20 years and built themselves (with hand tools!) and were right opposite the camp ground. Our sons used to be at school together and were great mates.

Janine and John couldn’t have been more helpful and with John running a quad bike trip out to the historic lighthouse 7 k’s away, this was one of the reasons we were here.

A neat campground with super nice people in a great spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Poutu – Armada GPS