Tag Archives: Special events

Little Downham

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.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

The church at the end of the road

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.

The Church

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.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

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!!

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.

1,000,000 Hits

The last 100 k odd seemed like it was taking a lifetime but we made it. 1 Million Hits..

After 5 years or so we’ve made it!

The first post! August 2015

Now that we’re back in a house again, it has been a real struggle to keep up with the content and I’ve found myself doing trips just to get something to write about.  I’ve also just retired last month as a Commercial Photographer, so I will be taking things a bit more quietly from here so you will notice the posts only being made when there is something to publish.

One of our first posts.. Fiona and Rafe at Coromandel Motor camp

But this is the Milestone that matters… !!

Our first trip away in the South Island in our Caravan . wee Rafe.

Thanks again for checking in and thanks to everyone that made suggestions and offered help.

More to come…!!

At Simpsons Beach Coromandel

The 2021 Covi Motorhome Show

I always look forward to these mainly for the new gadgets which this year, was the Drones which you can take away and use them for fishing.

Click on any Image to enlarge it

Drones that can fish!

The Star of the show for me though was ACM’s Freedom Platinum Elite. The one in the show is customised for wheelchair access but it is HUGE inside. ACM is owned by a Boatbuilder Chris and the Elite just reeks of a quality build everywhere you look.

Click on the Galley below for a look at the Platinum Elite

The Vivaldi made by Tabbert was the first one of these I’ve seen new having seen one in Tokoroa at the Scottish Games event. Beautifully appointed and well made and really popular in Europe.

Kitchen Dining area in the Vivaldi

Its really nice to see them arriving here.

Click on the Gallery below for the beautiful Vivaldi 

Recently I helped some friends buy a Burstner Lyseo and it was my first opportunity to see one up close if you like.

The Burstner Lyseo

They have an amazing 850kg payload! Some of its competitors in its class, only have half that, and with the Police just getting ready with their in road weigh stations, I’m sure it’ll be a big seller.

Click on the Gallery below to see the Lyseo

It was great to see some of the travel destinations like Awakeri Rail there and also the Top 10 Holiday park team.

A happy man from the Top 10 organisation.
Awakeri Rail Trail

I was there on Friday and it was busy from 10am on and a couple of the dealers I spoke to seemed pretty happy with the way things were going.

Click on the Gallery below for Show Images

Another year another great show.

Plenty of white Motorhomes at Ellerslie Racecourse

 

A day out on the water

The Americas Cup was on and the stars all lined up for eldest son Drew  and Jenna to take us out on our old boat Rorqual. It was also Fiona’s birthday so it was a big day.

Click on an Image to see it enlarged

The good ship Rorqual

Other son Alex and wife Sarah, along with the grandsons Liam and Ayden were meeting us there too.

Alex and Ayden on the foredeck as we go under the bridge leaving Milford Creek.

We all boarded at Milford Marina and set off under the bridge down to the course off North Head.

Nice big boats from far off places.

After finding a hole amongst the huge spectator fleet and getting the anchor to settle we waited for the race to start.

Lots of people on boats with their flags.

There were boats everywhere and most had plenty of people on board too.

The Grandstand as far as the eye can see.

After a couple of start delays they were off. Its great being part of it but I’ve always thought from many years of covering these events from my old newspaper days, unless you’re on a boat following them down the course, you don’t tend to see very much of them as they’re usually so far away. As I say though, great to be part of it and nice to be out there soaking it all in.

Liam(with sausage), dad Alex behind and big brother Ayden.

There was one big boat behind us that were sitting out on their outside deck with the G&T’s watching it on a huge TV as well as seeing it from the boat.. the best of both worlds.

Click on the Gallery below to see a slideshow

Drew had set up his Ipad so we could get a reception on the boat and keep up with the play so that was really good too.

Spectator fleet

Lots of people were cooling off in the water off the back of their boats too. A real carnival atmosphere.

Cooling off

We had to catch the tide back at Milford and a restaurant in Milford was waiting for the birthday girl so we left early to head back but a great afternoon out soaking it all in.

Britannia leading the race

A great day out with all the family.

Quad bikes to Poutu Lighthouse

Over the years there was a service run locally in Poutu by a chap called Jock who by all accounts was a real character and one of those really nice people who couldn’t do enough for you. Jocks operation used to run visitors along the 7 km beach to see the historic Lighthouse.

The lighthouse up the top

Sadly Jock passed away and the service stopped so the Poutu Marine Campground managers, John and Janine carried it on and it is not to be missed.

John popped over to Rafe the day before and had worked out the tides so we could get there and back with no issues along the beach the next day… wow we were fizzing..

Odd looking Dunes on the way

I was to drive one quad bike with Fiona on the back and John would lead on the other. I was given a brief driving lesson on the front lawn and we were off to the boat ramp down the road and off down the beach.

Parts of a shipwreck appearing.

The sun was shining but there was a good 20 knot westerly which we were driving into but it added to the fun. We stopped along the way to see a wreck which had just appeared out of sand dune.

Apparently every day is different when the wind is blowing where the beach completely changes and sand dunes appear and disappear. Its amazing.. This has the effect where all the historic wrecks along this coast do the same and when they’re uncovered, they’ll disappear just as quickly !

We moved on to see some really unusual sand dunes that had popped up and a ti tree grove that had been completely covered by sand. A bit further we veered off through the dunes to see a freedom camping spot with about 4 carloads of people enjoying a private little spot in the dunes. After a friendly wave, we carried on.

John about to head up to the Lighthouse

Up came some BIG sand dunes and it was time for another driving lesson to get familiar with the loose sand. These were massive and its huge amounts of fun.. Fiona stayed on the back so I think I passed the test 🙂

On a bit further and it was time to climb up the 80 odd metres to the famous Lighthouse. John was saying that DOC have just replaced the door broken by vandals and given it some paint but it needs much more. The lighthouse was built in the 1840’s as by then there had been nearly 100 shipwrecks with boats trying to cross the bar and sinking in the channel.

Fiona nd John with Lighthouse behind

At the top there is more evidence of attempts to plant some trees covered by sand. The sand up around the back of the lighthouse is all quite new.

The Quad with sand covered trees.

After a trip further around to another vantage point for a piccy, we set off back to the Poutu Camp.

A person we saw clamber up the sand dune to take a pic.

The whole trip took about 3 hours and was just fantastic.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

A day or so later in the afternoon, John popped over and offered to show us up the inner harbour which has a completely different look to it. That was great too and its amazing how much of the beach and cliffs have eroded up there. There was a pipe of a bore right at the water line where a village once stood but had to be abandoned.

Fiona nd John on the inside of the Harbour looking back to Poutu

Another great trip and well worth doing.

As far as we could go.. close to Kelly’s Bay

Big Motors, Big Sounds, Retro Caravans, Motorhomes at the Beach Hop!

One of those BIG events of the year which I reckon we should all do at least once. The 2020 Beach Hop was postponed from earlier in the year but it was just as popular as it always is.  Its a fun event and the fine people at Whangamata did well accommodating everyone as the place was literally jumping with people 🙂

One of our neighbours towed his Rolls Royce behind his Motorhome
Complete with a machine gun!

There were 1700 registered (for the show) vehicles plus they think about that again of unregistered owners of vehicles who turned up just to enjoy the fun.

Rafe in line

I parked on the Whangamata School footy field along with nearly 300 other Motorhomers and a whole lot of Retro Caravans. At $75 for three nights each van, it makes a great donation to the school of about $14k which replaces a lot of cake stalls 🙂

The Retro Caravans – Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I managed to get to see some old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. They’re both ex newspaper Photographers who have retired here now and love it.

Another neighbour with his Ford
Heading out

I met John who used to work at the Christchurch Press and Star, and his wife Cheryl at their favorite coffee shop in the centre of town. Very hard to hear anything with the big V8’s running past but it was really nice to see them. I also caught up with Paul who I used to work at the Herald with. We met at the Whangamata Club which is a neat place and just down the road from the school.. Paul is a Caravanner now so great to see him too.

Just Cruising – Click on the Gallery below to enlarge

Without a doubt the Grand Parade was one of the big events of the weekend and it went forever width the sheer numbers of cars. Quite a few woman made the most of the occasion and were dressed up in their bebop skirts and looked amazing.

Grand Parade and later – Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Amongst the cars popped out a Morris 1000 with a half done paint job which got a few smiles. Most of us some where in our histories have had one of those or knew someone with one.

The Morris 1000

After enjoying a good lunch in a town café with an elevated deck for a view of the street, I wandered back and listened to one of the many bands playing.

There was one called Boom Boom Deluxe appropriately singing Rockabilly music and doing it really well. The female lead singer / double bass player, Hettie La Bomb, could really belt out the sound and looked the part too.

Hettie La Bomb on her Bass
Hettie La Bomb

One of the things I enjoyed this time was watching people reactions to the cars and the event.

Specialist French vintage Models, Dollykitten and Marion

A lot of fun and after several years of trying to get here but other things getting it the way, I’m pleased I came. Neat place, I met some nice people and lots of action.

The big picture – Rafe’s Tracker map to Whangamata – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to the school – Armada GPS

First night away in their restored Liteweight Caravan

After 3 years or so of restoring their 1963 Liteweight Silver Mist, Ross and Kay finally got to get their first night away in it.  What a WOW moment and huge sense of satisfaction that must be, when you’re lying there on the first night taking it all in. 😊

I’m sure there were anxious moments but it all worked out well and they looked really comfortable in it.

Click on an Image to enlarge

Kay and Ross with the Silver Mist

Over the course of a few years in between work commitments and building a house, they have finished what I thought was an absolute gem.

Plenty of room
Dinette / Bed

This is their first foray into older Caravans and  they have done a fabulous job of getting all the period door handles, power sockets and then decorated it with all the period fittings.

Looking really good guys,  a lovely Caravan, well done and nice to see you both again.

The 75th Anniversary of Liteweight Caravans at Cambridge

When I first found out about this, my first thought was to check in with friends Ross and Kay who I knew had just finished doing one of these beauties up to see if they were going to be there.

Ross and I both started as junior photographers at the NZ Herald in our early 20’s and its been a while since we last caught up.

Click on an Image to enlarge.

Love the yellow Jandals

I had a commercial job in town on the Friday morning, which didn’t finish until midday so we were late out of the starting blocks and didn’t get to Cambridge until about 4pm, but that didn’t matter as many others were still arriving.

Rafe at the Cambridge Top 10 with the Liteweight Caravans

After settling down Rafe and after having a nosey around the park at some of the old Caravans, we checked in with Ross and Kay to see their amazing Caravan ..more on this in another post coming soon!

Ross had found an Indian restaurant only a block away so that was tea sorted!  We had a great night catching up on all the news.

Don Jesson’s Caravans. Don’s family started Lightweight Caravans.

The next morning  after getting up late 🙂  we had a look around some of the beautiful Caravans that were arriving as the day went on and chatting to some of the people there.

A great turnout of Caravans and some Motorhomes.  It was a really well organised event with a slide show and BBQ too on the Saturday night so hats off to all those who organised the event. There were some great Caravans and not all of them Lightweights.

There was one there with a Penny Farthing strapped on towed by a nice old vintage Truck.

Complete with a Penny Farthing

The lengths some had gone to with their Caravans to be faithful to their origins was amazing.  There were also some really creative ways of restoring these Caravans with the absence of some hard to get parts. The good old Kiwi number 8 wire mentality shone brightly 🙂

Fiona was keen to do the shops in Cambridge and wanted a decent walk so she set off towards Cambridge’s main street which was about 3 k’s away.

Relaxing

The organisers of the event had arranged for a tour of the old liteweight factories  which are now a gift and furniture shop and a huge ITM store on the outskirts of Hamilton. I had no idea it was such a big operation but they apparently had two productions lines pumping out up to 10 Caravans a day. Really interesting.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

After this we had a quick look through Caravan and Motorhome World which was just across the road. The owner of this fine establishment is Dave McRobbie who started as an apprentice in the Liteweight factory and later went on to set up this business to service warranty claims and service any after market issues for the Liteweight product lines. That’s Dave’s red Caravan at the top of this post.

One of only 5 of these left, only 50 were made.

He had two Caravans of a model where only 50 were made and they know of only 5 left… A really unusual but lovely looking Caravan. .. see above and below.. same caravan being restored.

One of the 5 left, the other end.

Here we saw some amazing early models of the Liteweights which Dave and his team has restored.

Looking at Dave McRobbies old collection of Caravans

On the way back from Hamilton, we liaised with Fiona and met up for lunch in an old converted church in Cambridge for  lunch.

A really interesting day and lots of images and really nice to see our old friends again.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Cambridge – Armada GPS

The NZMCA Show Park and Stay

Seeing 600 plus Motorhomes and Caravans as your first view coming into the top of Mystery Creek is always a nice experience. And the first person I see at the bottom helping with the parking was Noel who I met at Tokoroa a year ago.

Click on an Image to enlarge

What you see as you drive in.

When I was at last years Tokoroa Timber Town Romp last year and its coming up again this year at the end of this month, I helped with the parking. With Noel and a few others, we parked more than 400 vehicles and although it was a long day, it was a lot of fun.

The goings on in the parking area 🙂
Rafe in the park

Once I’d parked Rafe, who should come rocking past on his electric bike but Neal who was organising the parking both then and now.  He was saying that the team had parked nearly 800 vehicles in Hamilton so far.  Given  the  effect of people getting over lockdowns and everything else, that’s a great turnout and a job well done for the parking team.  This was just after lunch on Friday with two days to go!

Great show. Click on the image to enlarge.

They did a great job and everywhere you looked, just about completely surrounding the main Pavilion were Motorhomes and Caravans. A great sight. Nicely done Team Waikato !

Rafes Tracker map to Mystery Creek – Armada GPS

The 2020 NZMCA Motorhome Show

It is very rare for me to get Fiona interested in going to one of these so we both arrived early on the Friday afternoon. The show was well into its second day so there were plenty of people there and it looked great.

Click on any Image to enlarge

What you see as you drive in.

Coming down the Mystery Creek hill there was a glorious sea of white roofs for miles. The parkers looked like they had done another great job getting everyone in. Lots of happy faces and a good atmosphere.

After settling down Rafe, opening some vents and having a cup of tea, it was off to the show to see what was new.

As we walked in..

The show was considerably smaller due to the postponement and Covid but there was still plenty to see.

One of the first things we saw was the new Dethleffs Trend with the rear bathroom. Its amazing the difference it makes to the layout of the whole van as the usual cupboard like setup on the side completely disappears for a more open layout.

The Dethleffs Trend with the rear bathroom.

Click on the Gallery below to see the Trend

The next thing we came across was the small Baileys D4-3 Discovery Caravan with the Awning that covers two sides. The space that the caravan doesn’t use on a pitch is covered by an almost wrap around awning.. really unusual and neat to see a different way of getting space.

The Bailey with the BIG surrounding awning.

Click on the Gallery below to see more of the Bailey Caravan

We checked out the NZMCA stand and it was nice to see Ryan and the rest of the team there.

Ryan and the NZMCA team.

Click on the Gallery below to see larger images or a slideshow

After having a good look around, we headed outside to see the vintage caravans. I love what these guys do to these lovely cars and caravans, and the effort that is made to keep these in such good shape.

Alex with his Caravan

I was getting some piccies of one when suddenly in front of me a smiley face popped into the frame and it was the happy owner Alex. The 59 Chev which he used to tow it was a perfect match in colour and it was easily one of the best there.

Alex’s 59 Chev Impala
The back of the Impala

It was happy hour time so Fiona and I headed back to Rafe to meet our neighbours and enjoy something wet and cold 🙂

The show was definitely smaller than usual but the fact that it on at all was amazing.

Rafes Tracker map to Mystery Creek – Armada GPS