A little Post-Covid Lockdown Adventure

We offered to drive our now former neighbour Barbara’s eV, a Nissan Leaf similar to but a later model than ours, up to Tauranga while she drove her motorhome. With Covid restrictions now eased in New Zealand, and Tiki the dog and Georgie the cat established in their respective hotels, we set off well armed with masks, hand sanitiser and an awakened sense of adventure.

The weather approaching the four-hour ferry ‘cruise’ between the north and south islands did not look too promising … and a text message from Bluebridge Ferries warned us that our departure would be delayed.

On the way to Picton we stopped off at Ohau Point of course to admire the seals. The rough water offshore certainly didn’t seem to bother them.

The ferry departure was delayed for just over four hours. We filled in time in Picton at one of our favourite places – the Edwin Fox museum. Initially the wreck was to be restored but with costs soaring the decision was made to maintain only. There have been some changes since we were there last. The museum display has been changed, and the wreck itself is now much more accessible. The ship sailed around the world 34 times and carried troops to the Crimean War, Chinese labourers to the West Indies, convicts to Australia, Immigrants to New Zealand, Soldiers and beer to India and Tea and Wool to England.

That’s me having a go at steering. This is the upper deck, facing aft.
This is exactly the same type of anchor chain winch which we had on the Cornelius – the style barely changed over hundreds of years.

It was a rough crossing. Many people were seasick. I watched in amazement as one woman devoured fried fish and chips and then – still looking happy – started on a banana. By then the ship was starting to lurch violently and it didn’t take long for the inevitable to happen. I bet she will never look at a banana again the same way! Dave and I were both unaffacted. The Bluebridge staff were wonderful – unobtrusively moving around, offering iced water in cups, sick bags, and later moist facecloths – without being asked and often just before actually needed.

Quite a nice sunset – but the wind was blowing VERY hard. A dolphin surfaced momentarily…
Looking back towards Picton. Photo by Dave
Heading NE. Around the next headland is the open sea – with lots of whitecaps

We reached Wellington very late but still received a wonderful welcome from Barbara’s friend who runs a B&B.

Next morning we set off in convoy for Tauranga via the Desert Road. An uneventful trip – with a rather good early dinner at the Rustic Eating house in Waiouru – highly recommended. As I now require gluten-free food they were happy to alter a menu item for me. We spent the night in Barbara’s friends’ holiday house on the shores of Lake Taupo – playing a last game of “Frustration” with her before bedtime – we used to play regularly with her at home.

Next morning we drove on to Rotorua and another fun adventure with Rotorua Canopy Tours. <https://www.canopytours.co.nz/experiences/the-original-canopy-tour/ > We did the slightly longer Ultimate Canopy Tour two years ago as an early 80th birthday treat for me – very fortuitous as it turned out, just a month before NZ’s Covid Lockdown.

It was just as wild and wonderful as before – with slightly less forest trampling and stair climbing, which I appreciated. The company is very conservation-minded, maintains a large area virtually free of pests and there were lots of semi-tame robins and other birds which flew down to take worms from our hands.

Looking back down from the first platform and first zipline – one of seven.
Lovely long very narrow swing bridge. We were attached to the line above the bridge – so it didn’t matter when the bridge nearly twisted over with me on it. Wheeee!
Above are 2 pics of Dave arriving at the next platform…

The last three photos show the second-last arrival platform and the narrow bridge to the final platform where they took all the hands-off photos. Second photo: the final platform with, on the left, the usual steps to nowhere – for this last set we stepped off backwards and did a semi-somersault or two on the ride to the final stop. Third photo shows Dave the acrobat (he didn’t have time to take one of me – I went first!)

My ‘official’ photo taken by one of the two guides, showing the zipline on which we arrived at the second-last platform.

Rotorua town was very quiet, almost deserted, Covid restrictions in place, everyone masked and strict distancing observed. We had earlier booked into the nearby Rotorua Hideaway Lodge, which was happy to let us move in several hours before their usual time. Everything was contactless, not only at the Lodge but at the pizza parlour where Dave went to pick up a gluten-tree pizza that evening.

We decided to stay another night in the comfortable Lodge, and did a tiki tour around town the next day, visiting the amazing Rotorua Bath house, now Museum, which has been closed since the Kaikoura quakes.

Nearby was a rather unusual statue of Queen Victoria, guarded by a fierce Maori warrior:

Also nearby was an arresting sculpture – the description board said: “This bronze sculpture was unveiled in June 2001 to mark the new millennium …. “Waitukei” was created by Rotorua artist and master carver Lyonel Grant. His inspiration … was the people of this area and the rich melding of Maori and European cultures…”

We also paid a brief visit the giant Redwood Forest but did not bother to go on the tree walk – $35 each for just a walk – not after the excitement of ziplining!

Next day, back to Tauranga/Mt. Maunganui and two nights with Dave’s nephew and his wife in their beautiful home, with a lunch on the waterfront and a walk on the beach at the Mount. Next day we returned her car to Barbara and she drove us to the airport. It was not much fun wearing a mask the whole flight but we appreciated the precautions taken. Home at last, too late to collect the animals – but we were on the Country Paws’ doorstep at nine next morning and then to the cattery where Georgie had been fussed over as usual.

Waiting on the doorstep on our arrival home was my latest family history book, ‘Cochrane and Lyle’ – a preview can be seen at  https://au.blurb.com/b/11115249-cochrane-and-lyle. A fitting end to an adventurous week.

Another family history book published

‘Cochrane and Lyle – Scotland to Tasmania’ has now been published via Blurb. It covers my paternal grandfather’s line descended from Thomas Cochrane and Ann Kerr of Paisley, Scotland, who married on 16 April 1756. Several of their descendants settled in Tasmania.

Cochrane and Lyle

Photo book

Book Preview

The main family surnames are Johnston, Huxtable, Curtis and Baker. The early Johnstons will be getting their own family history book in due course.

Some sections of the Cochrane-Lyle book have already been published on this website – eg John Lyle of the 91st, the Tasmanian Pioneers, Sailor Boy and the Five Margarets.

Here is the introduction to the Cochrane-Lyle book:

When I started doing family history in about 1997, I knew very little about my Scottish antecedents, not even where they came from in Scotland. I thought the Johnstons would be a nice easy family to start work with, there didn’t seem to be many of them (!). I knew that my paternal grandfather had been born in Tasmania, so I started with the Tasmanian Archives and immediately struck trouble – I was fairly certain that granddad had a sister named Margaret and a brother named Charles, but the Tasmanian archives showed he had a brother named George, of whom I had never heard, and they did not have a record of a Charles! At first I thought George must have been renamed Charles …. but as this history will show, there was a Charles born in Scotland, and a George born soon after the family arrived in Tasmania; his tragic story must have been hushed up in the Edwardian manner as I’m reasonably certain my father never knew about his Uncle George.
From my childhood I’d been intrigued by my father’s middle name of Lyle. I knew granddad had a few very old books with the signature ‘T. Lyle’ but who was he? As the story gradually unfolded I began to regret more and more that my father had died before I could tell him of all my discoveries. How he would have loved them. He said more than once that his father had been a very private man and never talked about himself.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet I was eventually able to track down the family of Charles Johnston in Australia and to my great joy discovered they had a huge treasure box full of Thomas Lyle’s books, the Cochrane bible, and various other treasures including a series of letters which George Johnston wrote home from all over the world.
The internet also meant that one day out of the blue I received an email from Tina C. asking if my great grandma was her great grandma’s sister. Until that moment I had not considered that any other Lyles had emigrated to Tasmania. The family suddenly expanded! Since then I have “met” Tina’s sister Pippa on-line and we have exchanged much information. Even better, one of the Curtis relations had inherited two priceless miniatures of “a Glasgow surgeon and his wife” – surely Thomas and Margaret!
I’ve also met a number of Huxtable descendants, both in person and on-line, who have helped fill in some of the Johnston story.
Other descendants of our early Scottish Cochranes and Lyles have proved more elusive. A few such as the Hillhouses have been found by DNA matching. No relatives have been found in the USA so far.
As with many other families, early spelling of the surname varied. Relatively few people knew how to read and write and spelling was at the whim – and the ear – of the clerk or minister recording the details. Even Dr. Thomas Lyle used both Cochran and Cochrane. I have stayed with the generic Cochrane apart from the earliest entries.

Another book

I have not posted any blogs for some time but am keeping this going in the hope that we will once again be able to do some travelling when the Covid situation has sort of settled down (insofar as it ever will).

In the meantime I’ve been concentrating on family history. I’ve published another book…. on my Grandmother’s Irish line, the Wentworth Wades of Dublin.

https://au.blurb.com/b/10916345-wentworth-wade-of-dublin

Three Matrons in the Family

There were three nursing matrons in my related families, of different generations and widely different experiences. None married. They were:

1. Elizabeth HUNT  born 1820 in Pendock, Worcestershire and died in 1893 in Sydney, NSW.

2. Adela WADE born 1868 in Invercargill NZ and died in 1946 in Melbourne, Victoria.

3. Nancy Elizabeth “Betty” D’ARCHY born 1910 Toowoomba Qld and died in 1997 Sydney, NSW.

1. Elizabeth Hunt

Elizabeth was the eldest child of Thomas Hunt 1793-1848 and Nancy Welding 1786-1859. At the time of their marriage Thomas, a Cordwainer (shoemaker) was illiterate but Nancy, believed to have been a governess or lady’s maid, signed her name. They had five children of whom Elizabeth was the eldest and Edwin the youngest; all except Elizabeth were born in Reading, Berkshire. Elizabeth was born in Pendock in Worcestershire, very close to where her father was born in Redmarley d’Abitot. The name “Redmarley” was and still is being use by generations of descendants for their family homes.

It is not known if Elizabeth had any formal nursing training – it is doubtful if any existed in those times. The 1841 English Census for Berkshire  shows an Elizabeth Hunt aged 20 employed by farmer Joseph Moore and his wife Anne on Noverton Farm, not as a servant, but as a nursemaid to their 2 week old baby and one year old daughter. It is very likely this was our Elizabeth, as she followed that occupation all her life. Further, after the death of her father in 1849, the family may have been in straitened circumstances; the 1851 Census for Reading shows her mother Ann Hunt in exactly the same occupation, nurse to a young baby. Elizabeth herself cannot be found in the 1851 Census, but the 1861 shows her still in Reading aged 40 and living with her unmarried brother Edwin aged 24, a ‘certificate schoolmaster’, as his housekeeper. 

 Meanwhile Elizabeth’s younger sister Mary Ann had married William Boshier in Reading in 1853 and had four children, all girls, within the next ten years, after which time William died. For unknown reasons Mary Ann decided to take the four little girls to Australia the following year, and Elizabeth accompanied them on the “Sultana” acting as the ship’s matron. She gave her age as 39 but was actually 43. The sailing ship “Sultana” of 1308 tons departed Queenstown, Liverpool on 12 April 1864 and arrived at Maryborough, Queensland on 29 July 1864. A certificate issued by the Queensland Government Emigration Office and signed by the Surgeon-Superintendent on 8th July 1864 stated that Miss Hunt had faithfully discharged her duties as Matron.

The ‘Sultana’ did not touch at any ports or meet any other vessels during her voyage, and was becalmed for 6 weeks in the Indian Ocean. On arrival the passengers presented a petition for proceedings against the owners, protesting against the poor provisioning of the ship. Despite that she had a clean bill of health. She carried 7 officers, 43 marines and 427 passengers. There were only two adult deaths, from consumption; 1 infant died from croup and another from enteritis; and there were 4 births. The surgeon Andrew Millen reported that many females suffered from dyspepsia and general debility, caused principally by the bread (there was no yeast). The ship leaked very much and was therefore wet and cold. “We had 80 single females on board under the charge of Miss Hunt who acted as Matron, assisted by 2 sub-matrons”. 

Unsubstantiated family legend says the sisters applied for a grant of land in Brisbane, but “… coming from a remote English village…”, they were frightened of the aboriginals and moved south to Sydney. No record of a Queensland land grant can be found.

Elizabeth bought a cottage at 75 Ocean Avenue, Double Bay, Sydney and named it Caversham Cottage “after their village near Reading”. Not long after their arrival Mary Ann remarried, but Elizabeth did not approve and the sisters were “not good friends afterwards”.  

Elizabeth was a strict Methodist. She brought up her two elder nieces Jessie and Annie Boshier “…and gave them a good education…”, sending them to the Wesley School in Surrey Hills. They stayed with her until their marriages, of which unfortunately Elizabeth also disapproved.

By profession Elizabeth was a nurse. The Sydney street directory of the 1880s has the entry ‘Mrs (sic) Elizabeth Hunt, Accoucheuse’. She nursed the Knox Family, originally also from Reading, at their residence “Fiona”, Darling Point (later to be part of Ascham School, which several of her brother Edwin’s descendants attended, including the author, and where her sister’s daughter Annie Elizabeth was for a time the French mistress). 

Elizabeth died in 1893. At that time she was living at ‘Boorooma’, St. Mark’s Road Randwick. In May of that year she wrote a letter to her sister Emma in England, which was found among her belongings after her death; it was never posted.

My dear Sister,

I wish while I am alive, to say that I am leaving you a few pounds in my brother’s charge, which I have directed him to send you in small instalments while it lasts. I think it best to make this arrangement, as if it was sent you in a lump sum, you would probably spend it and not get the amount of good from it which I wish and intend.

After smaller legacies to many of her nephews and nieces she directed that the residue of her Estate be given 2/3 to her brother Edwin and 1/3 to her niece Annie Elizabeth Boshier (Mrs Annie Elder). 

The Estate consisted of land at Double Bay, valued at 451 pounds in 1893, which was apparently “hard to sell”. Brother Edwin did not give Annie Elder anything, saying that expenses took everything. There was a “big family row” and Elizabeth and Mary Ann’s family did not see the Edwin Hunts again.

As sometimes happens, many of the attributes of a person may skip a generation and then turn up in a descendant or close relative. Elizabeth’s great niece, coincidentally named Nancy Elizabeth (d’Archy) but always known as Betty, was in many ways similar to Elizabeth Hunt – she too remained unmarried, was said to have had an unrequitted romance when a young girl, travelled to England several times as a nurse-companion, and at the height of her career was a hospital Matron. Her story is told later. She always retained the English values imbued in her by her mother Lily Hunt, Elizabeth’s niece. For example tea was always served in an ornate silver teapot with good china on a white lace or embroidered tablecloth. Sadly Betty probably never knew about her great aunt who died before she was born, because the two main branches of the family in Australia had by then severed contact. 

2. Adela Wade

Adela, the second eldest daughter of solicitor and barrister Frederick Wentworth Wade and Adela Macloskey, was born in Invercargill in 1868. She never married. Like her elder sister Annie Theresa she may have been taught at home initially, but then went to Southland Girls’ High. She left Invercargill in 1885 when she was only 17 to go to Melbourne, the same year as her brother Robert and approximately two years after her brother Frederick. Was this because the elder children didn’t get on with their father or stepmother, or was it simply because there were better nurse training facilities in Melbourne for Adela and she would have been surrounded there by her mother’ family the Macoskeys. Adela’s mother had been one of 15 children and her stepmother one of ten children.  

Adela graduated from the Alfred Hospital School of Nursing, Melbourne in 1891.

It is not known where Adela went after completing her nursing training, but in about 1910 she became the much-loved Matron of Manifold House at Geelong Grammar Boys’ School. She retired in 1932 aged 64, at which time she was presented with a silver teaset which is still in the author’s possession.

  Unfortunately, the school was such a masculine community in those days that Matrons didn’t appear in House photographs, nor were they listed in the school magazine. At the suggestion of the school archivist I wrote to some Old Boys who would have been at the school during her time. Almost all of them replied with wonderful tributes, including a 94-year old living in Kenya who wrote “she was one of the ‘old school’, whose loyalty and understanding of the boys was greatly appreciated.” Another said “She was always kind – a much appreciated quality in a boarding school in those days (where) life tended to be rugged – gentleness was not common.”   

They told me she had the nickname ‘Pie Crust’ or simply ‘Pie’, a term of endearment, and was in many ways the ideal Matron, firm but compassionate, helpful and comforting, ‘and a real institution’. One sent me a photo of four of her ‘boys’ and told me a delightful story, about how three of them took it in turns to play Auction Bridge with the Matron every Saturday evening in front of her cosy fire. The boys discovered that if they stacked her bridge hand so that she always won, she kept asking them back “with the suppers getting better and better as each Saturday passed” (personal communication, Dick Glass).  Another wrote that over the years he learned that under the ‘Piecrust’ image was the real person, kind, sympathetic, helpful and extremely observant and adroit. 

Adela died in East Malvern, Victoria in 1946, some years after her retirement, of carcinoma of the colon. Sadly, nothing is known of her last years, but she would certainly have been in contact with her younger sister Bertha who lived in Sydney, the author’s grandmother. 

3. Nancy Elizabeth “Betty” d’Archy.

Betty, the elder of the two children of Lily Hunt (the niece of Elizabeth Hunt) and Dick d’Archy, was born on 28 November 1910 at “Redmarley”, Toowoomba, South Queensland. At that time her father was managing ”Chatsworth”, a remote cattle station in NW Queensland and her grandmother was living in Toowoomba, a rather more salubrious location to have a baby. Betty must have been taken back to “Chatsworth’” at an early age judging from the photo. Her younger sister Vada was born 2½ years later at “Chatsworth” or possibly in the township of Cloncurry (then known as Friesland) during the ‘Wet’ season which probably precluded travel south.


Inscription on back of original photograph, taken by Kirkham’s Studios. Mossman St Charters Towers., probably in early 1911.
CHATSWORTH HOMESTEAD
With love to Grannie (Margaret Morgan Hunt)\
L to R: Dick d’Archy – Manager (Betty’s father), Lily d’Archy (Betty’s mother, holding Betty), Fanny Hunt (Lily’s eldest sister), 3 staff, and Kitty the housemaid is standing behind Mrs. D’Archy.

 Like so many other patriotic Australians, Betty and Vada’s father rushed to enlist in World War I.  Lily took the girls back to her mother in Toowoomba, then later they moved to a large home in Sydney which was shared with several uncles and aunts. Meanwhile Dick d’Archy, in the 13th Light Horse, was invalided out of the Army after injuring a knee during deck sports on the way to France. He was a countryman through and through never at ease in the city, and took to droving and station management so his family rarely saw him. 

Lily, Vada, Dick and Betty aged about 4

While still a schoolgirl Betty went overseas with her family, visiting England and the Continent, skiing in Switzerland, etc – which may have instilled a lifelong love of travel. 

 Betty trained at the Camperdown War Memorial Hospital in Sydney. After some years at Camperdown and possibly elsewhere, Betty set up a private nursing home in Beecroft, Sydney in a large old house named “Redmarley” after the Hunt family village in England. She ran it very successfully for some years. 

In 1955 she sold the business and sailed for England, initially as companion to a blind violinist. An entry in the UK Nursing Registers is dated 11 November 1955; she was also in the London electoral roll for 1957. In London she worked as a private nurse and/or companion. Returning to Australia in the early 1960s, she became Matron of the prestigious Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital on the Parramatta River in Concord, Sydney. The author remembers visiting her rather formidable-looking “Auntie Bet”, resplendent in starched white uniform and nursing veil and white lace-up shoes. Afternoon tea was a formal affair with a silver tea set and fine bone china. 

But one terrible morning in 1968 the Matron, hurrying down the grand staircase, tripped and fell. A shattered hip meant the end of her nursing career. She never worked again but lived a further 30 years, finally passing away aged 86 in Sydney. She never forgot her nursing training nor lost her authoritative manner although it became considerably mellower with time. 

From the book “Sydney Architecture’ (Pesaro Publishing 2005), Text by Paul McGillick Photography by Patrick Bingham-Hall.

Adela Wade – a School Matron

Adela, the second eldest daughter of Frederick Wentworth Wade and Adela Macloskey, was born in Invercargill in 1868. She never married. Like her elder sister Annie Theresa she may have been taught at home initially, but then went to Southland Girls’ High. She left Invercargill in 1885 when she was only 17 to go to Melbourne, the same year as her brother Robert and approximately two years after her brother Frederick. Was this because the elder children didn’t get on with their father or stepmother, or was it simply because there were better nurse training facilities in Melbourne for Adela and she would have been surrounded there by her mother’s family the Macoskeys. Adela’s mother had  been one of 15 children and her stepmother (her mother’s niece) one of ten children. 

Adela graduated from the Alfred Hospital School of Nursing, Melbourne in 1891. Below are some photographs of nurses from the book by Helen Paterson ‘5.30 Nurse!’ The Story of the Alfred Nurses, History Books, 1996 Page 226. 

It is not known where Adela went after completing her nursing training, but in about 1910 she became the much-loved Matron of Manifold House at Geelong Grammar Boys’ School. She retired in 1932 aged 64, at which time she was presented with a silver teaset which is still in the author’s possession.

Unfortunately, the school was such a masculine community in those days that Matrons didn’t appear in House photographs, nor were they listed in the school magazine. At the suggestion of the school archivist I wrote to some Old Boys who would have been at the school during her time. Almost all of them replied with wonderful tributes, including a 94-year old living in Kenya who wrote “she was one of the ‘old school’, whose loyalty and understanding of the boys was greatly appreciated.” Another said “She was always kind – a much appreciated quality in a boarding school in those days (where) life tended to be rugged – gentleness was not common.”  

They told me she had the nickname ‘Pie Crust’ or simply ‘Pie’, a term of endearment, and was in many ways the ideal Matron, firm but compassionate, helpful and comforting, ‘and a real institution’. One sent me a photo of four of her ‘boys’ and told me a delightful story, about how three of them took it in turns to play Auction Bridge with the Matron every Saturday evening in front of her cosy fire. The boys discovered that if they stacked her bridge hand so that she always won, she kept asking them back “with the suppers getting better and better as each Saturday passed” (personal communication, Dick Glass).  Another wrote that over the years he learned that under the ‘Piecrust’ image was the real person, kind, sympathetic, helpful and extremely observant and adroit. 

Adela died in East Malvern, Victoria in 1946, some years after her retirement, of carcinoma of the colon. Sadly, nothing is known of her last years, but she would certainly have been in contact with her younger sister Bertha who lived in Sydney.  

Here are some of the letters from her “boys””

227. A Significant Birthday Adventure – Ziplining!

When i turned 50 I was a fairly new Brisbaneite, and some of my new friends organised a wonderful birthday dinner. When I turned 60 I was again in a new place, this time Christchurch NZ, and treated to another dinner with more new friends. When I turned 70, I decided dinners were all very well but I wanted to do SOMETHING, and as I’d already made a number of parachute jumps in my younger days, and done some gliding and flown in light aircraft, and because some friends and relatives from Australia were coming over to help celebrate, a balloon ride over the Canterbury Plains seemed a good idea (it was). But now I was turning 80. I wanted to do a wing walk or have a ride in an open cockpit Tiger Moth. Neither being available, Dave suggested I consider a zipline adventure in Rotorua on the way back from the wedding in Russell. We could also have a small family luncheon or dinner on the actual day.

Do have a look at the website. https://www.canopytours.co.nz/experiences/the-ultimate-canopy-tour/ 

We were in a small group of 6 people with two guides. The company is very safety-conscious. Gearing up took a while – it seemed very hot at first but we were going into rainforest and knew it would be much cooler there – and it was.

A short bus ride to the rainforest entrance and we were finally off. First a long walk through the forest. At one point the guide stopped and started whistling. and produced a worm from a small Tic-tac container… someone was invited to hold out their hand, and a few moments later the worm disappeared .. the culprit was too quick for me to photograph properly.

On we staggered through the bush, heavy metal clasps clinking and banging .. until we reached the magic door. Then all discomfort was forgotten.

Over the narrow swing bridge – I love swing bridges, the swingier the better, and I have no qualms about looking down and admiring the circular fern tops…

Up ahead we could see a platform round a tree trunk, and before I knew it we were up there and preparing for the first zipline rider to take off. Note all the safety gear.

That’s Dave in the distance, and here he is again just reaching the landing platform. The guide was controlling the speed.

And so it went on … and on … and on. According to the website there were 3 swing bridges and 1200 metres of ziplines, 6 in all, one of them a double (side by side) 400 metres (I beat Dave but he claims I launched myself too early), a 50 metre cliff walkway and an 18 metre controlled descent.

This is from the official website:

My only regret was that too often I swung around while zipping along, so I could not see where I was going and could not put my arms out and really fly as I wanted to – after all birds don’t fly backwards! We were cautioned on one line (only) to keep our arms in anyway as we went close to a tree. I’ve since learnt it was probably because the thick cord which linked my harness to the clip on the line was twisted. I will just have to go and do it again.

More photos: The last four were taken by one of the guides. The ‘controlled descent’ was straight down, you had to push yourself off into space. One of the others in our group, a young girl who confessed to being scared of heights, did really well up to that last descent – but the guide was soon able to soothe her. I wish I knew what he had said to her.

After a quick lunch we drove on south, around Lake Taupo to a small old-fashioned holiday park on the southern shore at Turangi. We walked (I staggered – I was SO tired) into the town and miraculously found a wonderful authentic Italian restaurant up a rather seedy staircase … the food and wine and indeed the whole service from a smiling Italian Mamma were all first rate but I was too tired to fully appreciate it.

Back to camp. As one reviewer wrote: “For fifty dollars a night one should not complain too much when supplied with four walls and roof over your head…” plus a double bed with a mattress but nothing else. We only had thin sleeping bags and the heater did not work for long, so we packed up very early and were on our way.

226. A Wedding in Russell; visits to Devonport and Mt. Maunganui

First – the Wedding. With a capital W. The most glorious affair in fabulous surroundings. It was admittedly a hot day – so the ushers thoughtfully handed our paper parasols as we all waited in the grounds of Pompadour House. Meanwhile the bride was descending the magnificent staircase at the ‘Duke of Marlborough and riding in style down the promenade in a vintage Austin. I know this because we all saw photos afterwards.

And the groom was standing waiting rather nervously with the celebrant. Then finally the bride made her entrance – and I’m sure there was a collective gasp, she looked so stunning in a vintage white lace figure-hugging dress with vintage baby blue shoes.

A lovely gesture at the ceremony was the individual blessing of the rings by everyone present – we all got to hold them for a few seconds. The bride and groom’s two dogs were ring bearers and her nieces helped pass the rings around.

All too soon the magic words were announced. (I should add at this juncture that I was very grateful to the bride for ensuring that I was provided with a copy of the ceremony – so I knew exactly what was being said – a vast improvement over almost all wedding ceremonies I have attended in the past, including my own – twice!).

Bride and groom elected to walk down the promenade back to the Duke where the wedding feast was to be held. A ride in the vintage Austin was offered to some of the older people, including Dave’s sister Alison.

Arriving at the ‘Duke’, everyone posed underneath the huge fig tree on the promenade, fortified by a glass or two of cooling wine … (that’s Dave in his kilt and me with the yellow bag, I should have hidden it).

Then we moved onto the front balcony and had a simply sumptuous feast, all sorts of wines and delicacies being offered, mostly mulltiple-choice. Only three of the nine people at our table loved oysters (Dave does, but they don’t love him) so we three enjoyed more than expected of the local produce, which is world-class. No time to take photos until dessert… In between various speeches were made, including one by Dave.

Some time in late afternoon a couple of us staggered down to the end of the jetty to see the iconic Tall Ship R Tucker Thompson depart with a gaggle of tourists.

Later still Dave, Alison and I promenaded around for a time admiring the sunset at the end of a prefect day. We all slept well that night!

Next day – a Recovery BBQ at the bride and groom’s home. No photos.

Next day – reluctantly we packed up and left the Duke, heading south for Auckland. First the ferry from Okiato to Opua. I spotted this house from the ferry, complete with private landing. Nice! Particularly if it had a private ‘ride’ up to the house (probably not).

We dropped Alison off at her friend’s then braved the Auckland traffic to Dave’s brother John’s beautiful home in Devonport, where we stayed for a few days. Willie the Russian Blue kept us entertained. Most certainly a cat with attitude!

We went for a long walk along the nearby Cheltenham Beach near Krarkin Point with its views of Rangitoto Island, Motuihe island in the distance, and Browns Island and St. Helier’s to the south-east (photo). Rangitoto shelters it from the main force of Hauraki Gulf weather but even so there was much evidence of erosion. Some houses on the cliff have already been abandoned. The beach is also lined with magnificent old mansions, but some of them are in danger of disappearing into the waves.

I didn’t realise seagull babies were so large – this mother seems rather henpecked or is that child-pecked.

We also visited the lovely little Navy Museum at Torpedo Bay – containing an incredible wealth of Naval history.

I never really knew where the Battle of Jutland occurred …


Pelorus Jack the bulldog first joined HMS New Zealand on 4 February 1913 as a puppy prior to the ship’s world cruise of that year; he was donated to the ship by a New Zealander, a Mr Pomeroy, who was living in England at the time. During the cruise he was presented with two silver dog collars (one is now in the Auckland Museum and the other is in our collection).
Pelorus Jack had an accident just after he joined the ship which broke a lot of his teeth whilst playing with a wooden deck block in which he got caught. Jack was present during two naval actions, in 1914 and 1915. He died, it is said, when he fell down the forward funnel and was burnt to death. His successor as Jack had requested in his will, was to be a “bull pup of honest parentage, clean habits and moral tendencies” also named Pelorus Jack. It was Jack’s wish that “no Dachshund or other dog of Teutonic extraction be permitted on board HMS New Zealand except as rations for his successor”.
 
Pelorus Jack II joined the Navy on 29 February 1916 and was present when the ship was at the Battle of Jutland and after this he was gun shy, bolting for his life every time the guns fired. When the ship visited New Zealand in 1919 Captain Leggett donated Jack to the people of New Zealand under the watchful eye of Mr and Mrs Pearson of Auckland. Jack was landed along with his possessions (silver dog collars etc) to quarantine for six months before being allowed to his new home. 

There were scale models of various famous Naval ships, including the German one (below) and a NZ one (I forgot to note their names).

the detail was absolutely incredible. The museum thoughtfully provided a torch ….

We had a beautiful meal at one of Devonport’s many restaurants. But too soon it was time to leave.

We headed for Tauranga, picking up Alison on the way. After spending the afternoon with Dave and Alison’s sister Bev and husband Bruce, we left Al there and headed for their son Paul’s place at Mt. Maunganui, our home for the next few days.

A morning walk on the beach ….another family cat (this one with a far more laid-back attitude, after all she is a ragdoll) … fish and chips on the beach while watching local Waka races … the days flew by.

Next morning we left at dawn, as we had to be in Rotorua by a certain time. For a rather special early birthday celebration for me.

225. Heading North with the eV

We were invited to a wedding in the Bay of Islands and rather than take the caravan we decided to do the whole trip in the eV Nissan Leaf, staying with friends/relatives/motels on the way. Our Leaf is one of the earlier models and can do about 175 km without needing recharging, if driven slowly and preferably downhill(!) For normal highway driving it was more like 145km max. For those who don’t know, fast charging an eV leads to an increase in battery temperature and we wanted to avoid that as far as possible, so we planned to make fairly frequent short charging stops (meaning coffee stops for us) rather than trying to eke out maximum distances. At night we slow-charged.  Anything more eV-related I will leave to Dave.

We left home in Christchurch at dawn … 

… charged up at Amberley and then Cheviot, and continued on the coast road with a short quick recharge at Kaikoura and then a stop at Ohau to see the seals. There is now a good viewing platform and plenty of parking space. Roadworks are still progressing, it has been a massive job and I am full of admiration for the roadworkers who have persisted through all sorts of weather. 

Another stop for a brief fast recharge at Ward, then straight on to catch the Picton-Wellington ferry. The ferry fee for the eV is considerably lower than for a caravan and tow vehicle! 

Powering up at Ward

We spent the night in a motel at Levin, where we were permitted to slow-recharge overnight. 

Continuing north next morning, Mt. Ruapehu soon came into view. We skirted it to finally come to the site of the Tangiwai rail disaster memorial, which I have not seen before. Dave’s Sister and Brother in law were supposed to have been on the ill-fated train but missed it – very fortuitously as it turned out. 

From  https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/the-tangiwai-railway-disaster

At 10.21 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1953 the Wellington–Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River at Tangiwai, 10 km west of Waiōuru in the central North Island. Of the 285 passengers and crew on board, 151 died in New Zealand’s worst railway accident.

It was, at the time, the world’s eighth-deadliest rail disaster and made headlines around the globe. The nation was stunned. With New Zealand’s population just over two million, many people had a direct relationship with someone involved in the tragedy.

The place name Tangiwai means ‘weeping waters’ in Māori. The timing of the accident added to the sense of tragedy. Most of those on the train were heading home for Christmas, armed with presents for friends and family. Those waiting to meet their loved ones at the various stations up the line had no sense of the tragedy unfolding on the Volcanic Plateau. Over the following days, searchers found many battered, mud-soaked presents, toys and teddy bears on the banks of the Whangaehu River.

The weather on Christmas Eve was fine and with little recent rain, no one suspected flooding in the Whangaehu River. When a goods train crossed the bridge around 7 p.m. the river appeared normal. What transformed the situation was the sudden release of approximately 2 million cubic metres of water from the crater lake of nearby Mt Ruapehu. A 6-metre-high wave containing water, ice, mud and rocks surged, tsunami-like, down the Whangaehu River. Sometime between 10.10 and 10.15 p.m. this lahar struck the concrete pylons of the Tangiwai railway bridge.

We continued on to National Park with a stop at the Makatote Viaduct for photos. 

There is a fast charger at National Park township and we had a scrumptious lunch at a little cafe nearby. Then on towards Hamilton, taking photos of ridged hillocks and a cloud-monster. 

We paid a short visit to the Hamilton Museum, mainly to see the famed waka (canoe) Te Winika, a reproduction of the canoe which was used to transport War Parties on the Waikato River.  Beautifully  carved and adorned with tui throat feathers.

Dave also discovered a large scale map showing where he once lived in Hamilton …

We paid a visit to Dave’s nephew ‘Budgie’ who showed us around his workplace a large modern factory – everything very clean and tidy and dust-free, as Dave remarked a far cry from the factories of his youth. 

Another stop for fast charging and icecreams at Pokeno, where they have some innovative solar-powered rubbish bins which compact up to 600 litres of rubbish. 

Our destination for the day was Dave’s Sisters niece’s home at Ramarama south of Auckland where we were to collect his sister Alison. We were invited to stay the night and were able to slow-charge the leaf again overnight. I’d highly recommend “Harakeke Woodturning and Gifts” for mostly one-of-a-kind handcrafted goods.  

Next day, with Alison on board, we continued north, whizzing through Auckland and finally .stopping at Kaiwaka where we discovered FOUR Leafs at the charging station, with enthusiastic owners all ready to swop more stories. One of them was someone Dave has been corresponding with via the Leaf owners’ facebook page.

Our final stop before Russell was at Kawakawa with its famed Hundertwasser toilets, but we were more focussed on the charging station there – and then the railway station cafe. Here are former ‘railway children’ Dave and Alison waiting for their lunch. 

And so on to the Bay of Islands and the ferry at Opua and across to Russell. That evening we had a light meal then went for a walk along the seafront while enjoying the sunset.

Russell is a gorgeous little town, full of historical buildings, quirky shops and beautiful gardens. It was the site of the first English settlement in NZ.

We established where the wedding would be next day, in the garden at Pompellier House, with the reception at the “Duke of Marlborough’ where we were staying. 

224. Road Trip to Mt. Hutt

After gazing at the distant snow-capped mountains from our backyard all winter, we decided it was time to visit them. Hearing that our friends were going skiing for the day on Mt. Hutt , we thought we’d join them for lunch “up there” and give the powder blue EV (Nissan Leaf) a good workout. The wonderful thing about electric cars is that they can generate their own power on downhill runs. Mt. Hutt might be a good place to test this!

Technical stuff in this blog courtesy of Dave; photos by Nancy.

So we set off on a glorious early Spring day – the highway south of Christchurch lined with flowering acacia (wattle to Aussie me).

SOC was 89% and the GOM was estimating 140km. (SOC battery State Of Charge and GOM is the Guess O Meter which tries to work out how many Kilometres the battery can take us).

Drove at a steady 90kph.

At Rakaia (45 km) the SOC was 58% and the GOM said 86km so we carried on.

I love turning off at Rakaia – it’s like entering another world. The mountains start to come closer and closer…..

At the Methven charger SOC was 21 &, GOM estimates 28 km left, total distance travelled 82km. Plugged in and went for a coffee and a wander around the craft shop. 35 minutes later we were back at the car where the battery was at 98%

We then drove up to the skifield where we caught up with friends and had lunch and a drinks on the deck while watching the skiers and chatting.

Les than half way up and still climbing.

Just hitting the snow line.

Still a way to go.

Finally the Lodge, three lifts and part of the ski fields in sight

SOC on arrival at the car park 58% and the GOM said 50 km left. Travelled 27 km.

We had lunch with our friends then left them to ski some more.

The Beginners slope is in the middle of this photo. It was the FIRST TIME I (Nancy) had ever been on a working skifield! Although i have been to the top of Mt. Hutt during summer.

Before leaving we checked out the ski hire section. Everything is colour-coded.

Also had a look at the (now disused?) bungee jump area, and the views to the horizon. Note it is a wee bit curved – that’s how high up we were.

Here’s the start of the road back downhill.

We left the skifield about 2.30 and drove down to Highway 73 in B mode for hopefully maximum regeneration. Arrived at the highway 73 after travelling 17 km. SOC was 69% so regen gave us 11% back but the GOM said we could now travel 123 km.

On the way down we stopped to pay our respects to “Rocky”. I still have pages and pages of the absolutely hilarious dialogue carried on during his time on TradeMe. it was the perfect antidote to all the depression following the earthquakes. I wonder just how many people logged on to TradeMe – it must have been thousands.

Looking back where we had come from..

Still a way to go.

We elected to return home via Rakaia again putting the hammer down and travelling at 100kph and arriving there with 30% SOC and the GOM reporting 51 km which would have been a bit tight to get home so we charged again at Rakaia.

After a coffee we were happy with a SOC of 91% and the GOM saying 156km. (Methven to Rakaia is downhill so economy is good).

We arrived home with 57% SOC and the GOM saying 84km.

Total trip 225km.