Local Heart, Global Soul

March 21, 2018

Little Bird, Little Bird…

Filed under: CHRISTCHURCH,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

We are waiting for the people from our rental car company to deliver the car we will be using this trip. Their office is very close to the airport so we don’t have to wait long. A little bird comes by and comes close by, I get some photographs of it as we wait…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 30, 2014

Our Very First Bash At Pitching Up With A Camper And Locals To The Rescue…

Filed under: Accomodation,Folkestone — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The camping park where we spent our first night in the UK  on our 2013 summer holiday was called “Little Satmar” and it’s located a short drive away from the top of the Dover cliff and hill behind Folkestone.

The signs can be a little hard to spot,  we had to look for a little lane off the main road first and once we’d found that we were fine finding the address.

There’s a large car parking area by Reception, a small shop for last minute essentials,  laundry facilities and friendly staff who get us checked in easily.

Our pitch is reasonably close to the toilet block, so easier for me to negotiate.

Our camper is so big it has an on-board toilet and shower but we quickly discover that just the toilet alone depletes the on-board water tank very quickly and lugging water to refill it is a tiresome job that lands squarely one Himself’s shoulders because of the weight of the buckets and the distance to the water supply. The toilet is has a small tank and would need emptying frequently if all four of us used it all the time.

I’m more than happy to take a morning shower in the toilet and shower block, and to walk to the toilet bloc during daylight hours: it’s the middle of the night stop for my water works that I’d prefer not to do around the camp-site in the dark on crutches. Therefore on the first night we decide to not bother using the shower in the camper at all, and that I would be the main user of the camper loo, and would restrict that to night-time necessities.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The kids could use it if they were desperate and couldn’t get to a toilet anywhere else, but otherwise they would have to use their legs so that Himself wasn’t on full time loo emptying duty as well as water replenishing duty.

Once again we realise that popping out for fish and chips is seriously impractical because Himself has set up the little tent outside, the large fold-out table, the bikes etc and the nearest fish and chip place is back in Folkestone so driving there would mean having to pack half of the stuff up again. For a while it looked like our fish and chip treat is off the menu but our Folkstone friends come to the rescue by suggesting that they pop out to visit us rather than via versa, and offered to fetch our fish and chips for us on their way out of town.

It was a perfect solution, we paid them for our meal when they arrived and  enjoyed our treat doubly because we were tired and hadn’t been looking forward to cooking. It was excellent to see our friends again, they  were getting busy to sell their big house and not everything was running smoothly, and added to this our terminally ill friend had had some ups and downs in his medical treatment progress so we had plenty to catch up on.

The camping ground isn’t only for tents, caravans and campers as I imagined, but there are also static caravans… actually they look more like little houses than caravans. It seems that people buy these and then pay a fee to park them here, (some are hired too) and return year after year to their little holiday homes. Some even have patios and beautiful flower gardens around them! It’s something I’ve never seen before and not something I expected in a “camping” place.

The camp is nice and quiet, our fellow campers are lovely, friendly and helpful: Kiwi Daughter rides a unicycle and the bolt that holds the peddles on broke, a fellow camper from the UK saw Himself rummaging though our very limited tools, overheard a disconsolate Kiwi Daughter being told that we didn’t have anything to fix it and offered to fix it for her.  She was delighted when these seasoned campers pulled out a serious tool kit and fixed it for her. It’s our very first stay (ever) at the camp site like this… lots of nationalities side by side and friendly. As holidays go, this is an excellent start.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

April 24, 2012

You Just Turn Me ‘Round, Turn Me, Turn Me ‘Round Baby…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch have just finished their very own individual train ride as semi-inaugural passengers on the Mamaku Railway.

We all express the hope  that next time we pass though Rotorua that we will have better luck with the weather and that the extended tour will also be available.

For the moment there is just one more question to answer…when you only have a single track how do the trains turn around?

After all, trains were never known for being able to make three-point turns.

The answer is one common to many train lines that face the same problem: they use a turntable.

The difference here is that the turntable  is a mini-version of the ones I’ve seen in my life so far, and the turn around almost couldn’t be more  simple or quicker…  in fact it’s so easy that when we were turned around at the other end of the line,  we didn’t even have to leave the comfort of the train.

With a  little help from RailCruiser staff, Himself bought us to a stop on the turntable and we were spun around within a minute or two.

For a better video than I managed to make, take a look at the RailCruising website:  http://www.railcruising.com/

Back at the station I made a short video clip of the trains being turned around… as usual the link to YouTube is there at the end but you’ll have to click it because the frame doesn’t seem to want to appear in this post automatically.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi’s Video Clip below…

RailCruising

April 23, 2012

Choo-Choo and Moo-Moo Magic…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, we have embarked on our own little train journey a.k.a. “RailCruising” on the Mamaku Railway.

Considering that the tail end of an Australian cyclone passing over the North Island at the moment, and that this might possibly be one of the wettest days of the year, it’s no surprise that  visibility is limited and therefore the stunning views that I know, are all in hiding behind the low cloud and driving rain.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter, we are still all having fun with a new experience and the kids are loving it.

Sure, a glorious day with amazing views and camera opportunities would  be preferable but who can control the weather?

The squalls come in various shades of heavy to ridiculously heavy but the clackity-clack of the rails exudes some sort of magic,  the kids imaginations run wild and there are even some shrieks of laughter when the local cattle line up on the other side of  a fence next to the track and start slowing following us down the fence line in their curiosity.

It wasn’t exactly a case of being chased by a herd of cows, more just a quiet  investigation of these bizarre intruders who are riding past the end of their paddock.  Himself starts making “mooing” noises which the kids are equally excited and worried about, as they aren’t certain if this will illicit a positive or negative response from the cattle.

All that happens in reality is that we get stared at intently by about 20 pairs of inquisitive eyes until the end of the paddock  breaks off the contact. (I do have photos, but Little Mr.was busy mugging for a camera  feigned “scared faces” etc.  so those photos stay in our private family album)

I did at one point wonder if we should have waited to do the train trip on another day with far better weather, but the kids loved it as much as we did, so no regrets there. In fact, once back in The Netherlands, friends and relatives asked our children what they liked best about visiting  New Zealand and this little train trip came up as Number One each time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Every now and again the rain obliterated all of the view…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Station in the distance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 22, 2012

We Are One of the World’s Very First RailCruiser’s!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On a day in this, our retroactive tour of New Zealand (made December 2011-January 2012) we face a dilemma…

…what do you do with your day when you want to get out and about and see things, but the tail end of a cyclone is bringing down driving  rain that shows no sign of abating any-time soon?

In our case the answer is, …. you take a little train journey and go “RailCruising”.

What on earth we ask, is “RailCruising” ?

The answer is that “RailCruising” is the brain child of Neil and Jane Oppatt who run Rail Riders Limited.

They tell us that it all started with the closure and slow deteriation of the Rotorua-Putaruru Branch Railway Line, now also known as the Rotorua Railway.

The track was originally made to bring tourists to Rotorua and had other uses but hadn’t been in use for some time…

Neil and Jane envisioned a way to use the line in a completely new and origonal way… one that would give people taking a ride the chance to have a “driver’s eye view” of their train journey.

But how would this be possible? A normal train has a driver  in the engine at the front and carriages attached behind, so unless you are lucky enough to visit the cab, getting a driver style view is never possible.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The solution came in a complete re-think of the train itself.

These tiny little individual cabin style trains allow the visitor to ‘self drive” on the rails, and thus achieve the driver’s eye view the whole way.

To be fair ‘self drive’ means in reality that you are in charge of an emergancy brake, since the entire trip is fairly well completely automated, and there is no actual steering needed in these petrol-electric hybrid V3000 RailCruisers.

The train trip is called the Mamaku Express and is a two hour excursion over 20 kms of track. Since it’s a single line at the moment and not (yet) a loop, this means getting about 10 kms down the line, then being turned around and making the return journey back down the same track.

We hear from Neil that they hope to extend the length of the journey in the near future to connect with Rotorua so who knows? Maybe on our next trip here we can ride the extended version! Our little train consists of a 4 seater cabin where two seats are low in the front and two seats are higher at the back.

The “driver” in charge of the emergancy brake i.e. an adult,  ( …Dream on Little Mr.!) sits in one of the back seats, so the Kiwidutch kids get the lower seats at the front, and after Himself has had a quick demo of the train’s workings, we set out from the station to the familiar clickty-clack of train wheels.

When we did this trip the line had only been open three weeks so we can truly say that we have been amongst the first group of people in the world to experience riding in one of these amazing little trains!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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