Rotorua

Day 7 mid afternoon – for the first time we would be pitched up for two nights – music to my tired ears! Here at the top 10 holiday club we were spoilt for tip top washing facilities, spotlessly clean. As a bonus a launderette was on site – my first task before we made the most of two mineral pools a few short steps away.

Day 8 – Rotorua is mainly on the flat, cycling would be our mode of transport…..Well it would if we could unlock the bikes from the rack attached to Aromoana! After half hour of trying, the combination lock was not budging and steam was rising from the long-sufferings ears. Luckily a helpful site man with bolt cutters came to our rescue.

Disaster averted, we set off to buy a new lock. After days of hardly seeing another car, Rotorua was a sharp shock back to reality, all hustle bustle and cars coming from all directions as we toured the long straight streets that criss crossed grid like typically American filled with wall to wall shops.

Lock purchased, we could finally head for our destination Te Puia to marvel at the geothermal pools and geysers – we had a free taste of what was to come yesterday evening at the local park a three minute walk from our pitch. With all the geothermal activity going on in Rotorua there is no getting away from the rotten egg smell of the sulphur pervading the senses!

Mud pools – gloop gloop like a saucepan of boiling water within the cracked earth, or gloop gloop gloop the sound of a motorboat chugging through the sea. Fascinating to watch trying to predict where the gloop will surface next.

Pohutu Geyser – bubbling beneath the surface, steam rising, thicker and thicker, building, building, suddenly, boiling water spurting, slow at first then, pulsing higher, higher to its climax – up to 30 metres – and then slowly slowly it becomes just a gentle bubbling beneath the surface once more.

Early evening bike ride to Government House Gardens

And Gardeners cottage nearby

And so to bed … long drive tomorrow….

Lows & Highs

Day 7 – After two days of freedom camping we had to empty our toilet Cassette for only the second time – the first was a joint effort which resulted in the long-suffering being subjected to splash-back by my not so gentle efforts to turn on the hose to rinse said cassette out! This time he was taking no chances and took the necessary precautions!

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Cathedral Cove, East coast Coromandel. We were hoping to get here earlier to beat the crowds, the slow winding roads are putting a spanner in the long-sufferings calculation times, thankfully the full beard he now sports does much to bring out the laid back traveller in him!

The morning was thick cloud and unbeknown to us we had parked in the car park furthest away – the beach is only accessible on foot or boat/kayak – thinking we would not be long and in our haste to get going we forgot: hats, sun cream and changing the fridge over to gas.

The climb up to various lookouts along this beautiful coastline was steep in places and long – just over an hour. The beach when we arrived – half ten – was already very busy, walking out onto the sand and looking to our left we were at once reminded of Durdle Dor on the Dorset coast back in Britain as we looked through a huge stone arch, the only difference the imposing white rock on the other side.

The return back was uphill nearly all the way and sunny. Wearing a cardigan over my head and shoulders to protect them from burning sent the long suffering rushing on in embarrassment, that and the thought of his mini magnums defrosting inside the fridge.  Luckily for me on our return the fridge and contents were fine averting a full-scale fall out from L.S.

We continue on Rotorua next……..

 

 

 

‘The Beach’

Day 6 Coramandel – we left our first freedom camp stop ‘Rays Rest’ in thick fog we thought was left behind in Dorset! Heading for Whangapoua and our next freedom camp on the beach we drove through Thames – so well kept as to eerily remind us of the stepford wives. Each house with neat manicured front lawns and freshly painted picket fences.

We drove on hugging the coast road, often narrow, mainly winding and as we have come to expect up and down hill. Our destination reached we were lucky to park in one of only two bays set aside for self-contained motorhomes.

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We were yards from spectacular Whangapoura beach where we chilled for a short while before a chat with a ‘local’ revealed ‘the best beach in the world is just around the corner’ he then pointed to a v-shaped gap up through the rocky headland at the far end of our beach as the route to take but only at low tide. With waves crashing against a mass of black rocks for now it looked nothing short of treacherous madness!

However, early evening was a different story, with the tide low and calm we set out to re-enact what we hoped would be a Leonardo di Caprio moment from 2000 film ‘The Beach’!

Viewed from our starting point it was obvious this would be tough, the low tide revealed massive rock piles even from this distance they were big, imposing and no doubt slippery. I could feel my hip groan with the anticipation!

Treking to the end of the beach now revealed a raging river to cross. Walking shoes and socks around our necks we took the plunge and waded through successfully negotiating our first test.

The rocks our second and by far the worst test loomed ahead! We scrabbled and scrambled – the long-suffering leading the way and ever attentive – over rocks and boulders of all shapes and sizes made even more difficult by their slipperiness from the tidal wash of the sea. The going was slow with our foot placement constantly adjusting to the undulating terrain. Eventually half an hour later we came to the end – of the rocks at least!

Looking up, in front of us through the v of the land was test three JUNGLE!  Undeterred, with our goal ‘the best beach in the world’ hopefully to come soon we entered the forest.

We followed the feint track up and down to the sound of crashing waves on distant shores, using the exposed tree roots to stop our feet sliding away from us. After ten minutes little flashes of azure blue could be seen through the thick canopy and foliage on our right. The tension was now building, we pressed on, the end, nearer now, intense excitement, and then…….

Suddenly, we were out of the forest, into brilliant sunlight and spread out before us a wonderous sight. A perfect arc of soft white sand curving off into the distance. Waves crashing in from beautiful turquoise sea.

We stood our mouths gaping in unison at the scene before us, how long I do not know transfixed as we were, ten, fifteen, probably only minutes, time seemed to stand still with the unspoilt beauty before us……

It really was ‘The best beach in the world!’

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Photos by Richard Mower

Northland part 3

Day 4 continued – KariKari D.O.C. Camp, leisurely afternoon lazing on yet another beautiful sparsely populated beach. The sea beckoned me in even though it was freezing. Swimming the bay, it took awhile for the long-suffering to join me with much cajoling on my part. He did his usual routine two tentative steps forward followed by body contortions as he sideways ran away from the breaking waves to avoid getting wet, not really the point!

Day 5 – This was to be a long driving day to beat the bank holiday Monday traffic around Auckland. I was first designated driver to start us off – my driving all day yesterday getting the thumbs up – I had driven on the flat, up and down tight winding roads with sheer drops into forests below and long gravel roads creating a dust storm behind as Aramoana bumped along to the sound of jangling cutlery, pans and bottles.

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Heading south, back out on the gravel road, we were joined by a pack of dogs surrounding Aramoana, ferociously barking and snapping at her wheels. Worried I slowed even more – we were now crawling at snails pace! Long suffering was no help just laughing and shouting ‘drive on, drive on’! I did, and thankfully there were no fatalities as we left them and the gravel road behind for more open roads and photo opportunities.

View from another viewing platform looking down on a mountainous sand dune in Opononi, we just had to take another memorable photo!

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Waipoura Forest – Visit to the largest, oldest known Kauri Tree, Tane Mahuta, meaning ‘lord of the forest’ age not known but estimated to be 1250-2500 years old.

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A thirty minute drive on took us to Trounson Kauri Park and a walk through native bush filled with these huge imposing trees young and old – the oldest being 1200 years old.

Our time in the Northland was coming to an end, in only one day we have driven through spectacular pasture lands, rolling hills, huge forests and amazing seascapes. It was now only left for the long-suffering to take the helm and drive us safely through Auckland and on to the next stage of this amazing road trip……

The Coromandel Peninsular

Northland part 2

Day 3 continued…..Refreshed from our showers we set off for Russell in the bay of Islands far north. At Opua we took the ten minute vehicle ferry over to Russell. Our time was limited here, nevertheless, we strolled through the Main Street – busy with tourists like us – a blackboard ‘Best Steak Sandwich & Chips was enough to tempt the long-suffering especially after the mornings step workout! It really was the ‘best’ melt in the mouth steak and plenty of it.

We visited the oldest standing church circa 1836 in New Zealand looking remarkably pristine thanks to extensive restoration in 2000. The immaculately kept graveyard with inscriptions on headstones telling a story of many lives taken too soon. Even on the oldest stones words were still clearly legible a testament to the caretakers over the years family or otherwise.

Next up our stop for the night, Matauri Bay. A long gradual climb up allowed stunning views out across hills shrouded in thick sea mist, before the road dropped down steep and tight winding bends into the bay.

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The campsite was busy on account of the bank holiday weekend and we were lucky to get only one of a few pitches left. We did though have a partial view of the sea through the neighbours washing line!

A short walk of the site took us over to the north where the beach was rugged and rocky. An information board told the story of the Greenpeace ‘Rainbow Warrier’ scuttled out at sea in its final resting place at the Cavalli islands after years protecting the marine environment. I could not think of a more beautiful and fitting place.

 

Day 4. The roads out to our next destination – once out of the bay – were to start long, straight and quiet hence the long-sufferings decision to trust me behind the wheel, pulling over I’m sure I felt Aromoana shudder as we swapped places.

Mahinepua Bay – Although our up and downhill – more steps for long-suffering alias ‘sweating man’ – Peninsula walk was one way – there was a small loop at the end. Every time we walk a trail/track I think it can’t possibly get better, but oh my goodness it does! The 360° views were awe-inspiring and all the better for clear blue skies and quiet – we had the walk to ourselves.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to last. We were sat at a strategically placed seat silenced by the quiet beauty around us when gradually getting louder and louder ‘Eminem’ appeared in the form of a middle-aged lady with a ghetto blaster strapped to her back rendering us speechless!! We sat letting the racket drift off into the distance although it could still be heard two hills away……

 

Did I Say Rest?

Currently we are spending time with our Daughter, Son-in-law and Grandchildren out in Cyprus. There are four children in total three girls ages 12, 20 months, 3 months, and one boy of 6, a very bouncy 2 year old springer spaniel completes this exhausting line up!

Our days start with 19 month old toddler arriving in our bed any time from 5am onwards, our daughter – having first fed and settled baby – disappears (in secret) downstairs for a ‘workout’to something called insanity, surely at this ungodly hour insane it is!  Our son-in-law will – if he is lucky while we are here – be in bed on baby watch duty until the day job calls.  The eldest, 12 going on teen is normally still asleep or reading (the latter her favourite pastime) whilst 6 can be found building Lego, playing with action figures or zapping anything that moves or otherwise with his light sabre.

Between seven and eight on a non school day it is breakfast time. Unfortunately to reach the relative warmth of the dining room – if someone has switched the gas heaters on – we all have to brave arctic conditions immediately we step outside our  bedrooms.  Wearing excess layers to keep out the cold I now resemble a ‘bag lady’ in my mismatched layers.

Temperatures in Cyprus at this time of year can be minus overnight. In the day, the sun when it manages to break through the cloud feels warm, however most days after our arrival rain has lashed down creating rushing rivers in the deep gullies that line the roads.

Inside the icebox house of two halves – it was once two, three bedroom semis – cooling fans now sit silent on extra high ceilings, making the too few heaters work that much harder to heat the extra space in the rooms. The sun when it does put in an appearance seems not to penetrate through the windows and walls at all.  We draw straws to decide whose turn to make hot drinks/meals in the icy room that is the kitchen.  Call of nature runs are held off as long as possible, whilst Ice cold tiles underfoot – thank god we packed slippers – render naked toes immobile.

After breakfast, more layers go on for walking the mad springer spaniel.  We depart the house a motley crew on our various modes of transport – pram or hands free sling for baby, trike with added adult control for toddler, push-bike for 6 and scooter for 12.  The four walking adults are split between being pulled along by dog, pushing the pram/trike, racing a bike or scooter, intermittent snails pace walking due to toddler exiting trike along with carrying, picking up when fallen, providing shoulder rides and pooh picking.  Eventually once the slow stop start has tried all our patience we try to persuade the toddler she has tired legs, this rarely ends with a happy outcome, only a rigid, screaming uncomplying body as we try to manoeuvre her back into her trike.  This excursion gets repeated late afternoon too, remember this is the fit outdoorsy family!

We all love Christmas time with the exception of husband/dad/grandad (VM) even though he is in the house of children and all things Christmassy he continues his relentless, mostly tongue in cheek Bah Humbug routine. Frowning, mumbling throughout the day whenever things go off plan as often they do!  So far he has cut his lip on a bacon buttie, making more fuss than the youngest child – the pouting went on for the whole day! The toddler while having a tantrum at ungodly hour knocked tea all over his slippers causing another day of moaning about cold feet as said slippers slowly dried out elsewhere. Water knocked over by the man himself narrowly missed his myriad of tech gadgets laying on the floor below. On the rare occasion he does nappy duty the floor resembles a battlefield and we have to send out for more supplies of baby wipes. Keeping up with the fit family he has found himself a running partner and although secretly enjoying being pushed physically to greater distances, we are all on his return suffering the consequences ‘I need to rest, my calves/quads are aching’.

I have decided my wrist will not be resting any time soon in Cyprus. How can I not pick up and cuddle our beautiful new baby Grandaughter who amongst all the hullabaloo that continually goes on around her is calm, serene and generally so good natured as to sometimes be forgotten.  Our animated, funny toddler loves to be picked up to sit on my lap and listen to her many storybooks or being bounced frantically up and down on my lap singing ‘half a pound of tuppenny rice’ and then disappearing between my knees as we ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ evoking chuckles galore.

With 12 and 6 there has been in the making a gingerbread house, seventy-two mince pies – including twenty-four special gluten-free for our daughter – and an elaborate lattice mince pie to use up the leftovers.  All the rubbing in, kneading, rolling and squeezing of thick icing through icing bags has, even with the excellent help taken its toll on my poor wrist.

The good news is although my wrist/hand is not improving my new hip parts are working particularly well with still not a clunk, click in sight!  Lots of walking with mad dog and without, along promenades by the sea.  Swimming in the local pool – a necessity just for the warm comfort of the changing rooms – floor workouts playing with the toddler and baby – toddler is well trained in providing a comfy cushion for  ‘Nannas’ accident battered knees and hip against the cold hard floors.  Climbing up and on or below and under a cabin bed to read 6 his bedtime story is a particular highlight, giving me hope that eventually mountains will be within my grasp.

To be able to do all these things and more fills me with so much joy.  I may never be able to run alongside holding hands or roly-poly with abandon down grassy slopes and hills, nevertheless the many things I can still do, thanks to technical advances and a skilful surgeon I will be forever grateful for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never give up!

A breakthrough at last!  Just when I (and my Physio) was thinking that after three major surgeries, extensive gluteal nerve and muscle damage in four years my abductor and gluts were as strong as they were ever likely to get, the last two days have proved me quite wrong.

August 4th this year I underwent surgery.  The last I hope, to replace the failed ceramic implants of my 2013 left hip replacement.  My bionic hip had always made a clonking, popping sound with every step I took feeling like it was shifting inside. Nothing had showed up on yearly x-rays in the 2 + years since and quite frankly to walk unaided virtually pain and limp free at last who was I to make a fuss!

Imagine my distress when on our holiday in mid June to Crete, walking became increasingly difficult again after dancing in the sand at a beach party.  At first we – my long suffering husband and I, presumed a less serious pulled muscle was to blame, especially as I still managed to climb to the top of Gramvousa, a 16th century Venetian fort built 137 meters above sea level.  The terrain was extremely difficult lots of deep steps and slopes baked hard  by the searing heat, the top surface loose and unstable beneath our feet making the ascent and more importantly the descent treacherous.

Back in England we kept reassuring each other ‘with rest the muscle would ease’.  We were kidding ourselves.  The discomfort became grinding pain and the noise was now audible enough to be embarrassing!  I was back to limping and lurching around and struggling to hide it while working.

An emergency meeting with my surgeon and subsequent X-ray revealed the devastating news my ceramic liner had catastrophically failed.  He assured me the dancing would not have caused this, rather that would have been the catalyst to tip an already failing implant over the edge I was just ‘unlucky’.  Nevertheless facing another major surgery all I could do was to blame myself.

Due to ceramic fragments floating about and causing more damage  I was within weeks back on the operating table.  The operation went well, in fact so well that my first walk with crutches the next day was a revelation.  The clonking and popping was miraculously gone.  Already my hip felt more stable than at any time over the last four years.

On my return home our lovely new abode resembled a care facility with mobility aids in almost every room.  I was back to square one with crutches, weak muscles, restricted movement, aids to dress with and basic exercises for six weeks.

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Six weeks later to my apprehensive question ‘Where do I go from here?’ My trusty surgeon replied and I quote ‘You must go and live your life’.

Fast forward fifteen weeks post op my gluts and abductors have finally started to wake up……..

 

After four years of intense targeted exercises, when I had almost felt like giving up, this morning in a side lying straight leg lift position – I attempt these morning noon and night,  my normally unresponsive leg raised up an inch!  Such a small thing but for me HUGE in terms of my continued recovery.  I will be driving to the gym and the pool with a increased sense of purpose this morning.  Walk on all you hipsters out there and NEVER GIVE UP!