22 November 2019

Marlborough's Golden Touch

Driving to Blenheim recently it was awesome seeing beds of orange blooms transforming barren riverbeds into something spectacular. Californian Poppies were out en masse.

One evening Bernie and I walked the dogs beside the river so I could get a few sunset photos with the poppies. But who knew that Californian Poppies close their petals up at night! (well most of you probably did), but it was news to me. Haha - never too old to learn, huh.

The geekiness in me, googled "Why poppies close up at night?". And I learnt, they're not the only flowers that do this; tulips, hibiscus and crocuses do too. This behaviour is called nyctinasty and the most likely explanation is to protect their pollen. Insects that pollinate these flowers are active during the day, so when petals are closed at night the pollen is kept dry and safe.
Charles Darwin believed the plants that close up at night do so to reduce the risk of freezing.

I've seen these poppies lots of times but never known much about them other than they seem to be able to grow anywhere. Even the most infertile areas can be ideal for these plants to thrive.
A few things I have recently discovered are ...
* The Californian Poppy is the state flower of California. 
* It has medicinal properties and is known to promote relaxation and support sleep. It's good  for aches, nervous agitation, bed wetting in children and diseases of the bladder and liver.
* Petals can be used as a garnish or eaten as food in salads.

Before we ran short of light, the dogs went to the river to cool off.

Part of the attraction of watching a sunset is seeing which colours might appear. And that night was no exception. The sun was setting when we arrived, and everything to the east had an tangeriney tone. However behind us the sky was a pastel magenta, which explains why photographers often remind folk to look behind when capturing a sunset.

That night, nature put on a display of 'Shades of Orange'. It was the perfect way to end the day.

And when the sun disappeared, we did too.

That is until the next day. The weekend had come to an end and it was time to head back to Nelson. I couldn't resist one last visit to the river and the dogs were more than happy for an extra walk. The Californian Poppies had opened their petals and were out in full force. 

The river bed was smothered in a mass of golden blooms. Everything - except the odd cluster of creamy Californian Poppies, named 'White Linen".

16 November 2019

Wildflowers of Rarangi

I love Rarangi beach and even more so in November when the foreshore is carpeted in a rainbow of colourful flowers.

Shades of pink, purple, yellow, white and red are randomly splashed about.

So many shades of vibrant colours.

Bees were busy multi tasking, collecting nectar and pollinating plants.

Also searching for nectar were Monarch butterflies. It was hard to get a photo of one as they flitted about from flower to flower and never settled longer than a few seconds before moving on.

Oakly and Boo were oblivious to the beauty surrounding them. Their only thoughts were of 'rabbits'. And with their noses working overtime, they set off hoping to find one.

This guy was busy, collecting driftwood and stacking it onto his quad bike. I'm guessing he knew the beach well as the shingle is really soft and deep in many areas. There are signs advising people not to drive vehicles on the beach because of the risk of getting stuck.

Bunches of rusty gold blooms looked striking poking out of the dry grass.
These yellow beach flowers were growing among dainty little lilac flowers making an eye-catching arrangement.

After an hour or more of walking the dogs were ready for a swim.

And once back at the car, a cool, fresh drink was waiting.

9 November 2019

Your Motorhome Needs May Change - Ours Did.

As we all know, life continues to change and our motor homes can too. Ours have, we are now on our third motorhome. And they've all been different. Different sizes, different layouts, different shapes and each one suited our needs at the time. 

Camper # 1

Before I met Bernie, I was the proud owner of a L300 Mitsubishi camper van. It was a little over 5 metres of cuteness, which provided me with many happy adventures and memories.

Oakly (my furry child) enjoyed it as much as I did. Together, we tiki toured around the South Island and went on weekend get-aways.

Having never owned a camper before, there were a few first time experiences. Turning up at the dump station, was one that comes to mind. Luckily no-one was about, so I had all the time in the world to suss out what went where and I'm pleased to say it went without a hitch.
Another first, was never having travelled alone before, but lucky for me, I never felt completely by myself because Oakly, was always by my side (literally).
Oakly had most of front seat to stretch out (it was a bench seat), but he always sat right beside me, often resting his head on my arm.

Camper #2

A little while later, I met Bernie (now my husband). If you’ve met Bernie, you’ll agree the word 'slight'  isn't a word one would choose to describe him. Not personality wise nor physically. And so, my little camper van was no longer the ideal size. 

Wind the clock forward a few years and we were both working stressful jobs. As they say, all work and no play. At the end of the day, we'd often wonder that there must be more to life than being stressed out and counting down the days to the weekend. And that was the catalyst that led us to consider a lifestyle change. 

Resign, rent out the house and hit the road.

We looked at various RV options - buses, caravans, camper vans etc. 
Bernie felt claustrophobic in many of the ones we viewed, that is, until he stepped into a fifth wheeler. The interior height and slide outs provided extra height and space, and a feeling of roominess, which suited Bernie.
Another factor, were our three dogs, Oakly, Paddy and Boo. They'd be sharing the new lifestyle with us and would need space too.

Bearing in mind, Paddy was the size of a small horse.

To cut a long story short, we imported a fifth wheeler from America, bought a tow vehicle, resigned from our jobs and rented out our house. Then hit the road. 
Six months later, Paddy our Irish Water Spaniel became terminally ill. To give Paddy the best chance at fighting the disease, we needed to stay in one place to be with the same vet. For us, there was no other option than to move back home. Which we did. We parked the fifth wheeler up and focused on Paddy.

Not long after we got home, Paddy became unable to travel, even short distances. So we sold the fifth wheeler. We'd invested too much money to have it sitting around unused.

And sadly, eight months later Paddy lost his fight - needless to say, we were devastated.

The truck and rig combined was 17 metres...three times bigger than camper #1. 

Camper #3

Next was a small bus. One we could use for weekends and one that could be driven on a car licence so I (Katrina) could drive it.  

As I'm writing this, we're planning to live on the road again. Currently Bernie is 2 months into working a 5 month contract with Fonterra. He's staying in the bus and commutes home on his days off. I'm home in Nelson, relief teaching, and close to my daughter who just had her first baby - my first grandchild.
In February, after Bernie's contract ends, we plan to explore the Catlins for 6 weeks. During that time we'll look for Camper #4. Something a little bigger for us to live full time in.

1 November 2019

12 Things About Motorhoming I Wasn't Expecting

We've been motor-homing for about 8 years. Some of that time was living full time but mostly it's been as weekend warriors. Like any new experience there were a few things to learn, and this gypsy lifestyle was no exception,
Here are some of the things we discovered when we first started out...

1). How important it is to save water. Turns out it's a precious asset ...not a never ending commodity. Fortunately there are a few simple things you can do, to make it go a little further.

2). Adjusting to using the bathroom in close proximity to someone. 

3). How essential storage is. There's no room to carry items that aren't of use.

4).  Something I wasn't expecting, was the interest I'd develop when staying in an area. Learning about a town's history, seeing spectacular scenery and discovering hidden gems. Before motor-homing I would have passed through towns without another thought. Now when we stay a few days in a place, it's always surprising what we discover. 

5). Sunlight - Not only is it nice being in a spot where the sun is shining, it's important for solar intake. The more sunshine hours the better.

6). You can move!
Don't like the view = move
Don't like the neighbours = move
Don't like the weather = find somewhere drier/warmer & move.

7). Housework is a breeze. In no time at all, you can have your home on wheels looking spotless. Being in a small area has it's pluses and less housework is right up there.

8). With no lawns to mow and no garden to maintain, you'll have extra hours to spend at your leisure.

9). COF time can be an anxious time. If you're sticking to a budget, you really don't need any unexpected financial outlays.

10). Spotting a rubbish bin becomes a skill and a bonus. It's a good time to stop if you see one, you may not find another bin for miles.
11). Check that cupboards are closed, the fridge is locked, vents are shut and everything is in a secure place before setting off. Check, check and check again. I know it may sound over the top, but being complacent could result in a disaster. We learnt this after a 20 litre container of water flipped upside down and saturated the carpet. On the positive side, the carpet got a good clean.
So, check, check and check again.

12). This nomadic lifestyle becomes addictive. 
There are times after a trip away, when we've returned home and have appreciated all the space, long showers and being settled on our own piece of dirt. 
I'm a real homebody, and love being in my wee sanctuary. But as contradictory as this may sound after being home for a while, I long for life on the road. I have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
The vagabond lifestyle provides adventure, places to discover and a sense of simplicity. Even when times have been challenging, and lets be honest, some days aren't always a bed of roses - I look back on it as part of the venture. Something that wouldn't have happened if I was back home, working 9 to 5.