A Strange Sight In The Mangroves!

So, I am treading my way across the low tide beach, wary of mud holes, broken glass and any other hazards, I am wearing my crocs with those useless soft soles. I am looking for likely places to go flounder spearing. This is done at night in shallow water with a very bright light and a spear. Ideally done over sand and with calm water. I also know that flounder like crabs so I am checking out how far I can walk out in the dark and what parts of the beach are safe and which would not be so good to wander into in the dark. I am close to the mangroves but skirting around them.

As I am plodding along I see something. I stop then very carefully backtrack a few steps. My mind has kinda stopped dead as in stunned. This is what I saw

A tiny figure standing very still with green wings staring over the beach.

I bend down to get a closer look…….

Sure enough it is a mangrove angel. He hasn’t seen me yet so I very carefully turn around and get the fuck out of there!

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The Soda Spring at Kamo

So today Ali and I go out for a drive. We are heading for Matauri Bay up on the East Coast above Pahia and KeriKeri. We’ve been there before a year or so back. It has a Maori cemetery where once I saw two maori women tidying a grave while singing beautifully. On the same day we tried going down to the part o the beach that is on tribal land but that wasn’t going to happen, not in Matauri Bay. Everyone was super friendly, as in really! but it was obvious that for us the road stopped right where we were.

The beach is huge and sweeping and has plenty of room for everyone. To get to the bay you take a turn off right at the top of the hills overlooking the beautiful Bay of Islands. Once you have dropped down into the bay that’s as far as the road goes. At the end is the Matauri Bay Holiday Park which bills itself optimistically as “one of the most well-known holiday parks in New Zealand“.

Having said that, today we enquired about booking a cabin next Feb and they are pretty fully booked for that period right now.

This is where the Rainbow Warrior was laid to rest after the French blew it up in Auckland Harbour killing a photographer, the French bastards!

Grabbing an ice cream from the dairy/bar/pub/café/fish and chip shop/ at the top of the hill on the way home we watched the first of the rain come in as we pulled away.

Just before we hit Whangarei we drive through the outskirts of Kamo. I had read about the Soda Spring in old black and white newspapers on some antiquity site and thought it was long gone in the past. Then just a few weeks ago I was talking to someone who, in describing how to get to their house, said, “you can’t miss it we are right across the road from the Soda Spring”. Whoa, did you say the Soda Spring?

So today I stopped on the main highway and got out of the car ready to drop down into the creek to look for the Soda Spring. But instead I found it right there, not 4 feet from State Highway 1. There were some concrete steps and right there bubbling away was the spring itself. It looked a bit oily but I put my hand in and tasted it. It is just like sparkling soda water. IT even smelled like soda water (and a little bit sulphury).

It gushes bubbles sometimes in great bursts and other times as a small constant stream. God only knows where it comes from. You can see a very short video of it here  the loud roaring is the traffic just a few feet from the camera.

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Drug Deals

Furtive glances, cryptic text messages, dodgy meetings outside Briscoes, plastic packages passed surreptitiously and hastily stuffed in handbags, you all know the drill.

Except, instead of young people with bad haircuts and worse dress sense these are grey haired old folks, an ex-mayor, doctors, lawyers, professional photographer, golfers, some limping others kinda bent but not in the way that you know, I mean bent as in stooped. Average age around 65 years.

Enter Turmeric, the wonder drug for anyone with Arthiritis or stiff joints, anyone who has hit the Voltaren limit, some with IBS and myriad other complaints.

All legal and selling fast……see you outside Briscoes 

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Did you see the trip to Germany?


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Another New Bathroom

This one took a while but I’ve been beavering away for quite a long time now. The original bathroom upstairs was so pathetically small and everything just jammed in badly that nothing about it was redemptive. So we decided to eradicate it completely and started looking at how much space we had up there that we could use. There was this huge (badly) built in wardrobe so we decided to chop half of that away to increase the size we had to work with, we probably got another third again in floor space so it was well worth the effort of knocking down one half of the badly built wardrobe.

What complicated all that was having wiring running through the bit I wanted to remove and right behind the horrible ceiling lining is the roof so that made running the wires for new light a tad difficult. Then there was the plumbing, God, don’t get me started on that. Any sane person would have taken one look at what was involved in this job and moved house instead.

But slowly and surely we got there. To save more space Ali wanted a sliding door that went back into the wall instead of swinging in or out. I got there eventually and learned a lot in the process. If you are thinking of putting in a sliding door, take my advice and don’t!

The shower cabinet “just” fits in the corner. The waste pipes are underneath it and they are well buried in the wall so there is no chance of moving them. When they added the upstairs on this house they really never thought things through at all. But to their favour I guess having an ensuite bathroom must have been a real big deal in 1992, no matter that nothing about it really worked that well. You can clearly see the heated towel rail right in front there but it is higher than either of our heads.

This is the new space that we got back from the wardrobe, that entire corner used to hang clothes.

It never occurred to me that there was a right way to put on the mosaic tiles but it was obvious to Ali that there was and I didn’t get it right. My punishment was to stand there looking at it for 8 hours until I could see the error of my ways!

All I could see was a bloody good job!


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Ali and I are watching TV, well, looking at our iPads and laptop while the telly is on. It is a program about Kawhia, a small settlement on the Kaipara Harbour. It looks interesting so we decide to go there. I book a couple of nights in a motel in Hamilton and from there it is one just over an hour to Kawhia.

Later on I check the long range forecast and there is rain forecast for those days so I move the booking to the weekend when the weather will be clearer

The following weekend we are down in Hamilton and check into the motel in the pouring rain! So much for the long range forecast.

Next morning we get up and head off in the rain. A bit later we go past the huge Mormon temple as the rain fades away.

It is Sunday so there is not much traffic, it is easy driving. We stop here and there to take a few photos.

Looking back

Looking ahead

The further we get from Hamilton the better the weather becomes. We get to the junction where the Kawhia road breaks off from SH39 and we are feeling optimistic about the day.

The road to Kawhia is like so many road that lead to the Kaipara Harbour, windy, sporadic houses, the odd settlement, but all with that feeling that the road is really just passing through, thanks all the same. The whole time the skyline gets a little bigger as slowly you descend towards sea level.

There is still evidence of weather about though

Finally we get to the last turn off

We cruise into Kawhia and we are ready for  some breakfast. We find the only café with decent reviews (the only one open) and head inside. I get chatting with the woman behind the counter and behind her I can see a skinny old woman banging the pans in the kitchen. It is friendly enough. The music coming from the kitchen is all old 60’ and 70’s music and there is something about the old skinny woman so I ask the woman behind that counter, “Is she an old hippy girl?” nodding to the kitchen. “My mum?” she asks then laughs. “Yes”, she says, “she really was”.

Kawhia is old hippy settlement from wayback, which is surprising given that it is pretty much all farming thereabouts. She tells us that most of the hippies are long gone but some stayed on and had kids, kinda settled own a bit. You know how it goes. But I was thinking that no-one sees this now, all you can see are scrawny old women and haggard old men but one time they worked the land bare breasted, swam in the harbour naked as they was, showing their young beautiful bodies in that shameless way that was back then. Now, they laugh at the idea of hippies as they rush off to get breast enhancements and labiaplasty and put gel in their hair. I’m laughing at all this.

Breakfast was poached eggs about as near perfect as you can get. The doors were all open leaving a fair chill to blow through bit it was pleasant all the same.

We wander off along the waterline and follow a track that takes up much further along the harbour until we come to a small beach that has a small holding pond, all in the black sand that marks this side of the harbour.

There is a pakeha guy fishing and a maori woman and three lively kids and they have a very large mullet in the holding pond. We stop and chat. They are friendly as and we gabble away about fishing and life and kids, just like that, no introductions, weather talk just straight in. Good, friendly, open, people with free range kids.

We wandle back to the township as we want to go to the museum where they have a fibreglass replica of the largest ammonite ever found anywhere in the world and it was found here in Kawhia. It is only a small place as you can imagine.

But it is packed full of chatty people.

We have much still to see so we head off, but before we do I get a small container from the car and collect some of this unbelievably black sand. It is very heavy.

We grid drive the township seeing a house with “$90,000” painted large on the fence and many other houses for sale. Before we left we checked the prices and you can still get a 3 bed house down here for $250K to $350K, there are still bargains to be had here. BUT, there is nothing here but scenery, majesty and wonder in giant gollops, no work but.

We drive over to the hot water beach but the rain falls and it is so heavy I have to slow right down until we are just crawling through the deluge. We turn round and head back.

Bidding farewell to Kawhia we drive back to Hamilton, stopping for coffee on the Waikato Expressway services which is like a brief trip back to the 80’s on a wet day. But if you drive just over to the edge of the potholed and littered car park you will find yourself standing on the bank of the mighty Waikato river like an impossibly large brown snake gliding past.


When I get home I dry out the tin of black sand that I brought with me. It is very fine. I put it in a small bowl and hold a strong magnet underneath and swirl the sand around. It immediately sticks where the magnet is and after swirling as I gradually move the bowl upwards. All that is left free flowing are just a few specks of fine sand. I reckon that the the black sand is around 99% iron.

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The First Statement is an Obvious Distancing Lie

I’ve just seen this article:

In short, it is about a Belgian university that sent out an email asking that women wear low-cut tops to their graduation ceremony. It then details some of the outrage on social media. It ends with this statement from the faculty:

It goes without saying that the instructions related to the clothing of young graduates are contrary to the values of the ULB and this faculty,

We see statements like this all the time, here’s another from a Wellington school mired in a rape culture controversy:

As we have said consistently, what has happened is deplorable, appalling and not part of our school’s values

The other one yesterday about St Paul’s exclusive rich kids college in OZ :

St Paul’s College does not tolerate unacceptable or offensive behaviour and comments, and takes these matters very seriously

Here’s another:

A HOUSING New Zealand tenant, burgled twice in the space of a week, has been refused security doors and locks in his home because they are deemed a fire hazard. A Housing NZ spokesperson said it took the safety and security of tenants very seriously and would not install any housing component which could present a safety risk.

Do you remember the dog that was shot at Auckland Airport when it ran away from its handler and was on the runways?

“The safety of the dog and people on the ground and in the air were paramount in the decision-making”, an spokesperson for the airport added. Read those first five words, “The safety of the dog” everything after that makes sense but those five words?

It’s like when you are on the phone to Vodafone, 2 Degrees, Mercury Energy, IRD or any one of countless others and you are waiting for someone to answer your call and an annoying voice comes on the line that says something like:

we take customer satisfaction seriously and someone will take your call shortly” except it seldom is shortly or “we value your custom” but at those moments do you feel like your custom is valued or your satisfaction is being taken seriously or more likely that they are taking the piss?

I am curious about these statements that fly in the face of the facts. To me it seems like they are denying the event and distancing themselves when they are obviously responsible.

Do they have a name?

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