The Circumforaneous Gibbs resurrected.

(Although this blog is now mostly about my family history, in addition I am also going to use it for our travels for the next 2 months. It does not seem worthwhile to set up a completely separate blog for such a short time. Many readers, I know, originally subscribed for the travel not the history!))

The Circumforaneous Gibbs are on the road again. Finally! This may be the swansong of our Jayco caravan “T5” with us, but hopefully not our own Swansong.

Leaving both Georgie (18 year old Burmese) and Tiki (6 year old foxie) in the care of homesitters five days ago, we headed north, spending one night in a newish camp at The Store, Kekerengu – right on the beach.

It was beautiful sunny weather with signs of autumn just appearing in the roadside poplars. The Wairarapa vineyards were still draped in netting, in contrast to further north where grape harvesting has finished. Which meant many heavily-laden trucks full of loose grapes. Which meant when negotiating a particularly tricky turn at the southern end of the Dashwood Pass, a truck overturned … grapes everywhere … and the highway was closed for over 6 hours. Cars were diverted down a narrow twisty road but we, together with hundreds of caravans, motorhomes, lorries, a horse float and sundry other large vehicles were parked in two orderly lines covering the road (that’s us with the red ute). Nobody seemed to be complaining and little pockets of friendship sprung up. Horses were unloaded and grazed by the roadside. The truckie next to us happily accepted the offer of a cup of tea.

Finally on our way we made good time to the Omaka aerodrome and the special parking area reserved for members of the NZ Motorhome and Caravan Association (NZMCA). By sheer good luck we were directed to a level site very close to the gate to the airfield road, and in addition a shuttle service could pick us up at that gate and take us to the entrance proper – very welcome as our large and very comfortable deck chairs are heavy. Those chairs by the way were a prize at a Motorhome and Caravan Show several years ago, plus various other goodies AND in addition I won a separate prize, $1,000 worth of diesel!

The air show was awesome. After being postponed twice due to Covid, organisation was superb and the programme varied. I’m not aircraft-mad but I do enjoy watching those fantastic old WW1 planes flitting about, and the amazing aerobatics of the speedy little Yaks, a lone Pitts Special 6 which did corkscrews, the precision parachuting by the Air Force, and of course the incredibly precise Harvards flying in formation – all nine of them – my late father in law Squadron Leader Bill Hoffmann flew Harvards and the distinctive noise they make is one of the very few which I can recognise.

The usual War scenarios were played out with lots of pops and bangs and dramatic ‘deaths’, and ‘officers’ in a variety of uniforms rushed around looking puzzled. Always entertaining! The old warplanes zoomed around overhead and a huge rocket was dramatically demolished (photo by Dave).

There were a few new events, particularly on the first evening when, at the end of a practice day, there was a twilight visit by two witches and rocket-man, who also appeared alone the next two days – superman in a golden helmet with two jetpacks on his back, whizzing around with effortless ease. Oh to be able to fly like him! But apparently his landing was not quite so easy (!).

That first day finished with a fantastic fireworks display. For once I was glad we did not have Tiki with us – the first day or so away I was missing her, it felt strange walking around without her and not having to stop our journey every now and then for her to read her pee-mail, to borrow a phrase from her Facebook friend Charlie Browne.

So now we are holed up at the Blenheim Racecourse in company with a huge number of other motorhomes and caravans. NZMCA members have use of the area except of course on race days when everyone has to leave. We are parked right next to the track – which satisfies my penchant for wide open spaces. The racecourse is a curious mix of old buildings and new, with signs on some warning they are not earthquake-proof (and therefore don’t park too close…).

We are booked on the Cook Straits ferry two days hence. Will we make it? Both ferry companies have been having innumerable difficulties recently – mechanical failures, rough seas, etc – indeed we met one couple at Kekerengu who were two of three vehicles away from loading when they were told the crossing had been cancelled due to rough seas and they would have to rebook – and there were no vacant slots for at least a week. This doesn’t seem particularly fair. Luckily we do not have any must-make-it dates in the next few weeks.

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