Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Who brought a monkey to the meal?

Some of the fancy masks

Would you go out with a man like this?

Jeff, Jack and Esther


At the Race Course gates we were greeted as long lost friends; our parking attendant was an 80+ year old lovely man we had met at Waihi Beach a week ago. Resplendent in his shorts he was like a spring chick. We were soon on site, booked in, and meeting new friends.

This rally is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Waikato Area branch which has 1288 financial members at the present time. In the forward of the rally booklet the Chairman wrote, “We are all leaves on the branches of the big oak tree and as the leaves fall and the spring arrives the Waikato Area will continue to remember the past but look forward to the future”. What a nice sentiment.

In the memories section of the booklet it records that during one rally the rain fell leaving a depth of water in the rally field between 1 and 10 inches. On the morning of departure teams of 40 people pulled the vans out of the field. Another time a light aircraft made an emergency landing in low cloud. The pilot was put up for the night in one of the vans and took off the following morning. This good little booklet was sponsored by Kea Campers, Rentals and Sales. Good on you Kea.

The weather forecast for this weekend is very wet, including today which is Friday. At 4pm we all met in one of the large Racecourse rooms and became wet inside during ‘happy’ hour. We were pleased to renew acquaintance with our next door neighbour from the Waihi rally. After the evening meal we again met up, this time in the large room with a bar which wasn’t open, and dance floor which was. The arranged entertainment by ‘Dolly Barton’, (I would have liked to have seen her), didn’t happen as she had lost her voice. However Russell, a male guitarist with a nice singing voice and good repertoire filled in very well. Supper of tea, coffee or chocolate drink plus biscuits ended the night. Oh what a wild time we older ones sometimes have.

We were parked the wrong side of the fence from the main tarmac parking area, with a good field of vision to the club house. In the evening a 40 foot bus, (motorhome), arrived and parked right across us, and across the walk through gap in the fence. On Saturday morning we awoke to find our 80+ parking attendant insisting the bus should move to the back of our parking area. “But my wife is still in bed”, the driver replied. “That doesn’t stop you moving the bus”, he was told; and move it he did. This was an interesting start to our day.

The first thing on today’s addenda was morning tea followed by the club meeting. We had learned from Wensley and Rodger from Invercargill, (with whom we had spent Christmas), that Rodger’s Aunty Ester and Uncle Jack were at the rally, but as yet had not found them. This is our task for the afternoon.

When lunch was over we went in search for a new motorhome named ‘Unbelievable’. We found this three rows behind us and spent an hour chatting with Esther and Jack in their van before taking up an offer by Alasdair and his wife to join all of them for ‘happy hour’. Due to the large room being prepared for tonight’s special meal, happy hour has to be conducted in the vans. We took along our drinks and I took Squeaker, my monkey arm puppet with me. It’s surprising how many from last weeks rally had asked about Squeaker. Of course the monkey was a big hit, and I must remember to keep my promise to Alasdair on my return home and seek psychiatric help.

We were not aware that many of those attending the meal would be wearing masks and fancy dress, so did not have any. I compromised with my C U Jimmy hat and Squeaker. There was lots of good food on offer served buffet style with a carvery of beef and ham followed by puddings and a nice helping of the Waikato Branch Birthday Cake later in the evening. After the speeches and presentations we were entertained by a trio who each played several instruments and the dance floor was full until after 11pm.

One of the guests at the meal was a top man from the ‘motorhome and caravan club’ and he was sat quiet near to us. After the meal Sylvia soon had him nobbled. He admitted he had seen her e-mail and pictures of the supposed camp near East Cape and was soon regaled with a verbal picture of how things were. I bet something is done about that in the next yearly booklet. Sylvia also had a good conversation with the man sat next to her at the ‘dinner’. This man, who serves on the ‘executive committee’, was very impressed on learning of many of the roads we have travelled on. He said we should become honorary New Zealanders and that many of those present tonight would not drive their vans over the difficult roads.

Next morning, Sunday, we again met up for morning tea, bought raffle tickets and sat down for the meeting. Jack and Ester sought us out to sit with us; we have clearly made another two nice friends. Although we were unlucky with the raffle we had been lucky to spend a good weekend in very good company despite the poor weather; and there were not many who hadn’t met the two people who were travelling from Scotland.

Due to other racecourse commitments we had to leave the area before 12 noon. From 11.30am the 102 vans who had attended the birthday rally were dispersing down their various roads.

Our first stop was down in the city centre where we went in search of an Internet shop. The van was parked near the ‘Cheesecake Shop’ in which we had enjoyed our coffee and cake on our first visit to Hamilton, so just for old time sake we made a revisit.

We left Hamilton for the third time feeling we were now qualified to give guided tours. The journey north was along a variety of new roads but the navigator was up to it. The area was probably the flattest we have been on in the North Island but as we approached the coast we found ourselves again meandering through hills.

Tonight’s destination is Miranda Hot Springs which is almost directly above Hamilton on the map; about 62 miles away. Once their we had the opportunity to attend a Spa near by, or laze about in the 36 C temperature of the nice camp pool for free. After our evening meal we walked the 40 feet to the pool and spent from 8.45 to 10pm in the hot water.

During this time we had a very good conversation with two people from Auckland. The lady was a bit downcast as she was celebrating her 40th birthday. Obviously doesn’t know how lucky she is. The alternative doesn’t bare thinking about. The male, who was a ‘Pommy’ like me, has no intention of ever going back to live in England. Apart from his wife, the main attraction seems to be the higher temperature in New Zealand, and his opportunity to sail his boat round the many islands and enjoy fishing. Some people are easily pleased.

We will just have to settle for one year’s enjoyment of N Z and the chance to spend such good times as this weekend at the Hamilton Rally whilst meeting nice people in New Zealand; including our hot pool companions.

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