Ending–but Beginning again!

They say (whoever they are) that all good things come to an end! In some ways, that may be true–we have, after all, departed from “down under” for our usual haunts. But the connections, the companionship, the experiences–these will linger forever, and affect us forever.

[I am writing this from home in Alberta] because, somehow, on the last leg of the flights, I mis-located my i-Pad on which I had been writing this final chapter, and to date it has not re-surfaced…the i-Pad, that is! (Very big, deep sigh!) However, thanks to “cloud technology” and other stuff too advanced from this feeble brain, I am able to finish this segment of my blog.

I last wrote at the ending of our Hobbiton adventure, when we returned to our campground in Rotorua. There we spent a final, enjoyable evening conversing with friends newly-met in the adjoining sites.

2018 Extras

Sunrise the next morning found us winding up our camping portion of our sojourns and heading for Auckland, where we turned in the great beast and set forth for a night in a motel before the flight home–time to repack and repack and repack again until all fit into the suitcases within airline guidelines.

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So our last sights of New Zealand (at least ones we took photos of) are from the motel–the gardens, the driveway…all on the Friday morning.

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Eleven and a half hours later, LAX — no pictures from there! And then a wait until the 4 hour flight to Calgary…again, no pictures. (So, our departure from Auckland at 2:20 p.m., and arrival in Calgary at 4:10 p.m. on the same day–with 21 actual hours between departure and arrival–does this make up for our “lost” day on the way out?)

Then home to my sister’s house in Calgary where she had a wonderful meal waiting for us (Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs over Rice) and a warm, welcoming bed. It was/is great to be home.

Next morning, Saturday, we went out to do some shopping for essentials we had run out of, only to discover several things wrong in this next picture. See if you can identify them BEFORE reading the comments after the picture.

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What’s wrong? These three, at least, will do to remind us we are finally home!

  • cars parked on the wrong side of the road
  • steering wheel on wrong side of car
  • white stuff on the ground

Yes, we are glad to be home. And we are already scheming about trying to go “down under” again.

Thanks to all of you who have followed these adventure of ours. I will try and post a few more salient pictures in the days ahead without such wordy comments. But knowing you were reading what I wrote made the exercise worthwhile.

We seem to have entered a strange new world!

Today we set out for one last fling in New Zealand! But first, some housekeeping stuff. Our families back home want to know how we are faring, and in what are we doing such. So, here are the pictures of the great beast and the intrepid venturers!

These were taken just tonight, after we had finally figured out how to make the best use of this limited space. We are surviving quite well, except for a less-than-satisfactory mattress for our fold-down bed!

But, back to today’s adventures! We had some troubles (read disagreements) between the GPS and the Navigator! The navigator won, of course, since the GPS is a TomTom! (The boys in the band will understand that reference!) and so, following Sarah and her intrepid map, asking directions only once, we arrived here:

And what a day we had “in the Shire!” Hobbiton is the site of the filming of epic 🎥 The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy! We walk in the footsteps of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and all the Hobbits. We drank in the Green Dragon, and had a wonderful, sunny day. Here’s a few pictures from our journey.

So, filled with delight, we let TomTom lead us back to our campground in Rotorua for our last night. Tomorrow we return the “beast” and prepare for the flight home. [Does anyone know how to stuff memories and memorabilia into suitcases so as to conform to airline requirements?]

Good night to all!

“Rellies, rellies” everywhere!

We’ve arrived in Waipu, Northland, New Zealand!–as of yesterday! As we drove north from Auckland in our Toyota Camper van, we were amazed by the green-ness of this sub-tropical land. Rich stands of timber, verdant pastures, fat cattle and sheep–no wonder the ancestors didn’t want to ever leave this place.

We are on the journey to find my (Bob’s) relations from Nova Scotia and it seems like we have done so, in spades! Here’s a view of Bream Bay from the overlook as we careened down the road to Waipu.

We found the Museum in Waipu, a veritable treasure trove of information on theNova Scotia migration and the descendant of those hardy folks.

Our campground, in Waipu Cove, is very near the spot where young Alexander MacKay was “tossed” from the longboat in order to swim ashore and pull in the lead rope so they could enter this newfound land.

(Slightly overcast, is this picture:)

Tonight we have spent the day at the Presbyterian Church in the morning, and with several relations all afternoon–more from that later. We are back in campground, preparing to batten down the hatches for a windy, rainy night from a quickly moving cyclone. So, to save WiFi and get supper ready, I will post this missive and get back to more interesting things–supper, etc. Bye for now, and love to all of you!

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Eleven hours on a train!

Sarah and I arrived at the train station to take the Northern Explorer to Auckland. It was a modern conveyance, behind a diesel-electric locomotive, with a baggage car, a cafe car, two coaches and an open observation car. Quite an entourage!The seats were comfortable, the food good, the staff great, and the earphone commentary on the history, geology, geography, candy points of interest was extraordinarily well done. Instead of lots of words, I will let the pictures speak.Awaiting departure:Scenes along the way:Now, we’re resting up in our Auckland hotel before picking up our camper van tomorrow for further adventures. There’s more to come, so keep following us.

Thursday—last day in Wellington

All too soon time has flown and we are nearing the end of our Wellington time. We headed out early to the Wellington Museum which was also within walking distance of our hotel. This features the history of the city, with lots of attention to the 1900’s in a uniquely e walk-around display featuring moments from the years up to 2000. It was quite informative.

There are also some static and operational displays –here’s one that caught my eye. It actually runs!!!

Then we watched the movie and examined the displays around the sinking of The Wahine ferry in the harbour. Then off for some food, which was a big part of our day. We also did some souvenir shopping–NO HINTS–and returned to make sure all fit into our suitcases.

Sarah and Cousin Margaret went out Thursday evening to the Wellington Quilters Guild meeting, while I stayed home for last minute laundry, etc. Then early to bed, because we need to meet the train at 7:15 a.m.

MUSEUM DAY—off to Te Papa Tongarewa

The National Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa) is an amazing facility, almost overwhelming in its content and diversity. We chose to take a guided tour of the whole museum for our first hour, which brought us a general overview of the various exhibits. Then we were free to explore each as deeply as we wished. We did just that!

An example of the Maori traditional history and culture…this one tells the story of slowing down the sun soon tree would be more time for planting, growing, harvesting! The whole place is overwhelming, and could take days. And all the museums are FREE!

Lunch at the museum, more poking around, and then home for a bit at the hotel to get ready to meet newly-found relatives who had invited us to supper.

Margaret Robinson and her husband, Edward, were delightful hosts. Margaret is, I believe, a fourth cousin in the MacKay side of the family. Here’s how I think I have it figured out:

  1. My great-great grandmother was Margaret MacKay (married to Malcolm MacCharles). She stayed in Nova Scotia when the rest of her family emigrated to New Zealand.
  2. Margaret’s great-great grandfather was Duncan (Donnach Ban) MacKay (married to Mary MacRae). He emigrated to Waipu in New Zealand.
  3. My great-great grandmother was her great-great grandfather’s baby sister.
  4. We thus share the same 3rd great grandparents, Donald (Ian Rauld) MacKay and his wife, Christina MacKenzie MacKay.

Isn’t that complicated? Anyhow, here’s a picture of Sarah and me with Margaret. And a very public THANK YOU to Cousin Margaret and her husband Edward for serving us such a wonderful meal and treating us royally!

The Robinson’s cat, Tibby!

TUESDAY—Domestic Duty Day!

Lack of sleep on Sunday and Monday caught up with us, as did a shortage of clean clothes.

Our hotel suite came equipped with a wee laundry as well as a kitchen, so it was laundry and grocery time. We took some naps, did some walking, and got caught up with ourselves.

While we were out walking (on Cuba Street–shades of the hippies days!)we came across a used book store that Stephen Warren could have been lost in for days!

Stephen, there were two more sections the same size or larger!

Supper out that night was at a different restaurant, with Bob having lamb and Sarah having baked fish. Then desserts for a change—peaches and ice cream and flan.

Sarah had the flan–yummy! Bob had the roaster peaches and ice cream!!!!

TRAVELING ON!—just us two!

Monday seems a blur—we flew overnight from Perth to Auckland and then on to Wellington. On paper it looks like a trip of twelve hours or so, but our thinking didn’t take into account the five hours of time zone skipping, which made the night shorter than we could imagine. Bu we survived!

And we arrived in the beautiful city of Wellington mid-morning. Checking our bags into storage at the hotel, we set out on foot to explore the downtown. Our hotel is situated in the heart of the city, within walking distance of most of the museums, shops, restaurants, and the cable car. So, we ate a breakfast, took the cable car, and enjoyed a sunny day. We got to view a portion of the botanical gardens, saw the dominion observatory, had a snack at the top of the terrace, and generally enjoyed ourselves. Supper that night was at the Jasmine Restaurant just around the corner from the hotel, then off to bed early!

The obligatory selfie at the end of the cable car climb!

By the way, they really grow LARGE mushrooms in that garden! There’s room for a family of fairies under that one!

It does seem strange to be without the rest of “the cup” and their partners…we had a difficult time making up our minds without all those other opinions. I hope all are resting from our labours like we are. Safe journeys, all!

The Tour Ends!

From Toodyay, we journeyed to Dalwallinu, our last scheduled stop. This town, into the wheat belt, holds lots of more familiar scenery; wide open spaces, fields of stubble stretching to the far tree lines, and isolated buildings. Unfortunately, the camera to iPad to blog connections are not working too well, so few pictures today!

We had a good feast in Dalwallinu’s modern town centre facility, both as a lunch before setting up and for supper. Our hosts joined us and we had lots of talk and laughter.

The Saturday night concert was well attended, and we enjoyed ourselves with these friendly people. Sunday saw us sharing in the World Day of Prayer service in the Anglican Church. After a light “tea,” it was time for the goodbyes, the obligatory group photo as we conclude out tour time together before heading off to Perth to catch planes to our various destinations.

It was sad to bring our time to an end, but the rest of our journey remains. Thanks to all who met us and hosted us and sang, laughed and played with us. This has been a marvelous tour, one never to be forgotten!

Off We Go… … to Toodyay!

Mandurah was wonderful…(I seem to be using that word a lot–probably because it fits!) our concert began with a fine introduction by Geoff, the chaplain who had helped Scott set up our tour. He spoke of the connections between Canada and Australia in the exploratory travels of Captain Vancouver. It set the stage for a well-attended and well-tuned concert, with strong audience participation.

After the concert, the Dean of the Cathedral spoke of the rich poetic theology in the music. The group appreciated the thoughtfulness of both speakers, as well as the spirit-filled audience.

Our accommodation in Mandurah (arranged be Scott and provided by the cathedral) was astonishing. [See the pictures in the last post!] it was unfortunate that we were there only one night!

March 1 arrived, and after a quick breakfast and loading out our gear, we set off for Toodyay! (For the non-Aussies, that is pronounced “tood-jay!”) It is a two+ hour drive into the countryside. Our arrival was greeted with the plans for a “barbie” with our host families at the rectory. We set up, and then ate and talked late into the night before heading home, for a two-night stay with our billet-hosts, Clive and Sheena Hesse. Sheena is Archivist for The Uniting Church in Western Australia, which only added fuel to our conversational fires!

March 2nd we rehearsed in the morning, then we’re taken, along with our hosts, to a family “farm” (that’s my Canadian term) where we were introduced to the making of wine the “old-fashioned” way! Picking grapes by hand, STOMPING them into juice, squeezing the juice, straining, and sampling the unfermented juice was a treat beyond words! Pictures are the only way to do that experience justice, so here’s a few.

1. Sheep – we have seen a lot of these animals, so I included only one picture!

2. A Laden Quince

3. Lloyd and Gordon crushing the grapes!

4. Sarah and Donna adding laughter and flavor!

5. From 8 five-gallon buckets, some 21 litres of juice (plus what we drank, of course!)

A Quince tree laden with fruit!

And, then that evening, after cleaning off the feet, a concert! And thus ended our stay in Toodyay.