Winter is coming

Its been a pretty uneventful summer. I should be thankful I guess, we were able to get out and enjoy our summer here in NZ. Many places around the world are still in various stages of Covid lockdown, while we are essentially free of the disease in the community and as such are not restricted in any way.

Ive been on annual leave for the last 6 weeks and while I haven’t been doing the usual long distance travel style holiday, its been great to wake up every morning and not have my day pre planned by someone else..
To me the ‘not working’ part of a holiday is the most important. It doesn’t matter if you stay at home and just mess around in the back yard, or catch up on little things you wanted to do. Not having to give the best part of you day to some corporate entity is so good..

I’ve done a little fishing over summer, not a great deal but it’s been a leisurely affair and I’ve enjoyed most of it. I’ve put a few fish on the table here and there, spent many hours on the beach just being there. I’m not a hard core fisherman. I don’t burn the candle at both ends trying to fill the bin, or gain competition points etc. Competition doesn’t interest me. I fish for enjoyment and the occasional feed of fresh Snapper or Gurnard.
I have friends for whom fishing is about catching the most and the biggest etc. They are amazingly skilled and driven to do the absolute best they can every time they go out.
Here in NZ the daily limit for Snapper is 9 fish (in this region). My total catch for the whole season is less than one daily allowance. I have tried to play that game before, but I’m just not skilled or driven enough to catch 9 fish in one 24hour period. Plus to me it becomes like work, not fun any more.

Years ago ( decades ago) I used to keep aquarium fish at home. Cold water fish, or tropicals when you could get them. A few months ago I decided to get a fish tank in the lounge to take place of the TV that we never use. (we never watch TV) I was amazed at the ease of fish-keeping these days. You can buy everything you need, and lots of stuff you didn’t know you needed….
Back in the day (1980’s) a fish tank was made of glass panels glued together with silicone. Rudimentary and somewhat ugly compared to the beautiful curved glass tanks available now. Heating and filtration systems built in. So easy.
I purchased a medium sized 125 litre tank and stand. I set it up for tropical fish and added an extra canister filter inside the cabinet. Its a pleasurable, soothing interlude to just sit and watch the fish for a few minutes each day.

Age is only a number..

Having turned 60 this year I must confess I’m starting to feel my age..
The mind is willing (sometimes) but the body says “you’ve got to be joking”..
Also one finds things don’t always work as they used to (but I won’t go into that here) and Doctors start recommending various tests as a matter of course..
I feel like an old car with faded paint and a few rust holes..

Speaking of rust, when I finally did manage to get to actually speak in person to a Doctor (well a nurse actually because Doctors seem to be off limits and you can only get to see one after you have been tele-diagnosed over the phone, deemed sick enough to actually visit the health centre, and finally been examined but a nurse.)
Anyway, after running the gauntlet of phone calls and questions I finally got an appointment with a nurse who took one look at the lump growing on my head and exclaimed “thats gotta come off”.
Having duly taken photos and typed out a message to the DOCTOR she then sent me home to await yet more phone calls.

A week or so later I get permission to see a Doctor and upon looking at the growth on my head he pretty much said the same thing as the nurse did a week earlier.
An appointment for surgery was made.

The offending skin cancer was duly removed but because of its position (between eye and ear) it was a long tedious 2 hour job.
So armed with various drugs, bandages and $800 (more than a weeks pay) lighter, I went home and now await the next phone call from a lab, to tell me just what the hell was that thing they cut off..

What to do during lockdown

So I had four weeks of holiday but had to spend it at home because of our covid lockdown. What do you do to keep busy? Make additions to the pond in the form of a cascade/waterfall.
The submersed pump in the pond supplies water to a bio/uv filter hidden in the top of the cascade. The cleaned water runs down the cascade and into the pond.

The “C” word…

I have plenty of time to write this, four weeks in fact.. Why? Because we here in New Zealand, are in lockdown like many other parts of the world.
Covid19 has caused mayhem and tragedy globally. As of this writing we have some 500 odd confirmed cases in NZ. There has been one death attributed to it. As I understand it, this unfortunate person already had severe health issues before contracting the virus. Some 50 or 60 people have recovered from it in this country of 4.5 million.

I work for the NZ postal service. We are considered an essential service so we are required to work through the lockdown, along with supermarkets, fire, police, ambulance, and numerous other must-have services.

Why am I sitting at home writing this then?
Well, at the postal service we need to book our holidays well in advance, I’m talking months in advance. So many months ago I booked four weeks of annual leave for April 2020.. So yes, I am on annual leave, stuck here at home unable to go anywhere or do anything.
My lovely wife also works for an essential service. She has a desk job so the government department she works for decided at the last minute to get its staff working from home.
It has been a giant fail. The remote logins/server-access etc are intermittent at best and just don’t work properly. They had plenty of time to sort this prior to lockdown, but they didn’t and now its a frustrating mess…. The people who need this service are not getting it.

Is then any upside to the covid situation? In a monetary or business sense, no. Billions of dollars have been spent by various governments to prop up economies and keep things running. Ultimately its you and I who are paying for this. Governments do not have any money of their own, they have taxpayer money which belongs to you and me.

There have been reports of gains in environmental situations. Waters in various places are running cleaner without human pollution being present. The air is better in big cities with no cars on the road.
Will this make any difference in the long term? No. The human race will assume business as usual when this pandemic is over.

Changing times

Ok so before I get into the current global mayhem, here’s a catchup on recent events.
There was a stone waterfall in our garden when we came here, made of cemented river rocks about two metres high. It was built in one layer like a brick wall. There was a trough at the foot of it containing a pump which sent the water to the top via a hidden pipe. Picture below.

Recently we noticed the rockwork was leaning on the fence and threatening to knock it over. We discovered that whoever had made it, had sat it on wooden planks which had since rotted away. The decision was made to dismantle it before it flattened our fence.
What then should we do with the empty space?
After much drinking of beers on the deck and gazing at the vacant space we decided a small pond might be the go.
Excavations commenced immediately..

The wife testing the depth..

Liner, rocks and test fill

Mostly finished. The water feature is made from big lumps of pumice which I found at a beach. They are glued together and a large hole drilled down through them. A large pump is submerged under the rocks and pumps water up the hole where is spills out and runs down the outside. The Gargoyle (Boris) sits on top and surveys his domain, no doubt eyeing up the goldfish..

Sometimes you just have one of those weekends….

It started with all good intentions. A trip away to east cape, catch a few fish.

I loaded the van on Friday and set off for Mohaka as a stepping stone to going further north.

In 38+ degree temps and no aircon I drove to Mohaka.
I got there and parked up in a likely spot.
First cast snapped off and birdnested the spool #$%^&&!!!!
I thought to myself “what a shit start to the day”
Nevermind.. Slipped on another reel and continued.
Got a nice hookup, a reasonable snapper by the feel of it. Suddenly, gone.. @##%%^!!
Nevermind, new baits deployed.
Another hookup, a little 34cm snap hits the beach, nice.
Nothing else until I hit the sack at 10pm
Up again at 4am baits in, but no further action.

Left Mohaka and headed up to Hicks Bay, HOT A.F all the way.
My mates weren’t due to arrive until late afternoon so I killed time fishing off the rocks beside the wharf for a few hours.
I wasn’t expecting much in the clear sunny midday heat, and that proved to be right, no bites at all.
I’d had enough of the heat so I parked up in the shade to wait for the boys to arrive.

When they arrived we headed out onto the sand and setup for the wade and cast fishing. Its something rare to me because most the beaches I normally fish are not suitable to wading.
The water was pleasantly warm to wade in, but I soon found that my freespool reels didn’t have enough line for this sort of carry on.
By the time you’ve waded to waist deep and hurled out your best cast, then waded back to the beach you’ve run out of line before getting back to the rod stand. #@&#%^!

The fish weren’t interested in coming 30m closer to eat my baits, and I couldn’t get a bait out to where they were. The other guys with fixed spool reels had plenty of line and could wade out further. They were into some nice fish.

I persevered until dark and decided to head back over the hill to TeAraroa for some dry-feet fishing as I’d had success there before.
It was pitch black when I got there so I couldn’t really see what or where I was fishing into. Lines went out anyway but baby Tope sharks was all I could catch..
My buddies over the hill sent me pics of all the lovely snapper they were catching…nice…
By this time I was feeling the effects of being awake for 19 hours and crawled into the van for some sleep.
At five in the morning the lines were back in but all Tangaroa would let me have was more baby Topes..
By 8am I’d had enough of the baby sharks and admitting defeat, decided to head south before the heat became unbearable.

I had just under half a tank of gas left having filled up in Gisborne on the way up.
I new I wouldn’t get back to Gizzy on what I had left, but figured maybe I’d get to Tologa. I wasn’t worried because I had a 20L can of spare gas on the back and could always chuck that in if I needed to.
Between Tokomaru and Tologa I could see I wasn’t going to make it, so I pulled over to siphon the spare gas into the tank.
What I failed to remember was that the full gas can on the rear wheel gate had been in the sun all weekend and as I popped the lid open it sprayed a good litre or so of petrol all over me. Shit..$#&%^!
I quickly stripped of my petrol soaked clothing and towelled of, thankful I wasn’t on a main highway..
I got some clean clothes on and finished transferring the fuel.
The petrol soaked clothes were put in a plastic bag and sealed up but now the inside of the van reeked of petrol all the way home.
I filled up again in Gizzy, enough to make it to Napier easily.
I got to Whakaki and decided to pull over and take a look at the sea.
It was stinking hot and there was no breeze. Deciding not to stay I went to carry on home.
The van wouldn’t start. The electric fuel pump was overheating and couldn’t get up enough fuel pressure.
I grabbed a bottle of cold water out of the fridge and emptied it over the fuel pump.
That was enough to cool the pump get things going again, I was off.
I got stuck behind a grandma going up the devils-elbow climb at 20kph and the fuel pump overheated again.
The van is now stuck next to the armco on a very tight winding road…#%%^*!!! FFS!🤬

Thankfully a young bloke in a ute stopped and offered me a tow to the top. (You Sir are a Top bloke!)
Out of immediate danger I crawled under the van and emptied another bottle of water over the fuel pump which was too hot to touch.
I few moments later if fired right up and I was on my way again.
So I got home eventually, exhausted, depressed, pissed off, {insert negative emotion here} with one small snapper to show for my 700km of weekend away.🤬

I opened the door and was greeted by my lovely wife handing me a cold beer 🙂


More mods to the van

I’ve not done any fishing for a few months, not because I don’t want to, but because my right arm is stuffed and I cannot cast the rod…
What we thought was tennis elbow, (see the post below) turned out to be a torn tendon.
So after lots of painful physio and not much improvement it was suggested that I get a scan done. This revealed the cause of my discomfort, and I was immediately given a cortisone injection, which has helped a lot.
In the meantime, I’ve been tinkering with the van, (code for spending more money on it).
New bigger tyres, caused a problem in that the sliding door wouldn’t open fully because it hit the tyre. This issue was solved with an extended door hinge arm imported from Australia.
Front brakes were improved with new disks and pads.
While I was in there I also fitted a set of manual front hubs so I can now disengage the front axles when touring. This should help both fuel economy and wear and tear on front cv’s and boots.
You can read all about the mods here

Same shit, different day..

Random thoughts, gripes and observances from my day job in mail/parcel delivery.
I won’t state the name of the company I work for because they disapprove of their employees discussing work online. I’m writing this with great difficulty, not because of any emotional/ethical issue but because I’m home off-work due to a recurring physical problem generated by the work I do.
RSI (repetitive strain injury) of the elbow, resulting in bursitis making it very painful to do anything with my right arm. It’s happened before and as such I could feel this one coming on a few weeks ago. It has now got to a stage where I cannot do my job and a doctor’s appointment and subsequent time of rest is required.
Typing this is a slow and laborious task using only my left hand..
Sorting mail is the culprit in my case. In my job you are required to sort anything up to 1000 letters, 300 magazines, and 100 parcels per day into delivery order before taking them out and delivering them. I do this delivery on a motorcycle.

The delivery side of my job is pretty good as a general rule. There are of course a few infuriating exceptions, as I assume there would be with most jobs.
So with that in mind, here’s a gripe list of sorts, and some reasoning as to why it is so..

Mail boxes:
First of all, NO MAILBOX, NO DELIVERY. Don’t expect the delivery person to take your mail to your door. Ain’t gonna happen. Your neighbours have all got mailboxes, You get a mailbox!
And while you’re at it, GET A DECENT SIZE ONE. Tiny little mailboxes are useless. It needs to be big enough to take an A4 size envelope without having to fold it. It needs to be big enough that we can get shoebox size parcel into it.
The mailbox on the left is too small, its crap. The one on the right as cavernous and good..

Also a mailbox is NOT a garden ornament! It needs to serve a purpose. No point on having an arty-farty mailbox with an entry slot that you cant fit any mail into…. Have a think before you buy!
DO NOT put your new mailbox in the middle of the lawn or surround it with gardens/flowers/roses/cacti… If you do, you can expect me to ride the motorcycle across said lawn/garden to get to it.. I’m not getting off the bike every day to deliver your mail..

Please clear your mailbox every day, Its bloody hard to get your mail into your crappy small mailbox when its full of papers and shit!

So you have a dog, that’s great, so do I.
If you have a dog on your property I WILL NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY to deliver any parcels or mail that don’t fit into your mailbox. You will get a card in your mailbox stating that you can come and get your parcel. I’m sure your dog as lovely and placid when you’re in control of it, but when you’re not home, rest assured it is a rabid snarly beast that hates everyone…
If your dog can get to the mailbox, I will go straight past and no mail will be delivered to you.
“But my dog won’t hurt you” – I’ve lost count of how many people have said that to me. I also have the bite scars to prove it..

If a parcel requires your signature I will come to the nearest door from the road or driveway and knock, or ring the bell if you have one. You have 30 seconds or so to answer the door or alert me that you are home. I haven’t got all day to wait while you finish your phone call/lunch/porn video etc. If I get no response to the knock/bell I will head back to the bike and start writing out a card. Writing out a collection card is a pain in the ass, I would much rather deliver the parcel so I don’t have to carry the damn thing around for the rest of the day.
If your doors/windows are open, I can hear the tv going, and I know someone is home, I’m still going to write out a card if you don’t come to the door.
I’m not going to walk around your house looking for you.
Answer the friggin door!

You put your recycling out every week. Good on you.
Put it somewhere away from your mailbox. How am i supposed to deliver your mail if I cannot get anywhere near your mailbox?
That hairy thing on top of your shoulders.. Use it…

Basically, spare a thought for those trying to deliver your stuff. If you have a decent sized mailbox, that we can get to, without being attacked, your stuff will be delivered as soon as we get it. We won’t have to roll or fold it to get it into your mailbox.
Life will be simple and pleasant… 🙂

Fishing stuff

As the last gasps of summer zoom by I realise I’ve had reasonable success with the rods this season..
Mohaka is now my new favourite beach.
I took a mate who’d never been there to see the beach. I warned him beforehand that it was purely an exploratory mission and not to expect anything spectacular. You see I’ve been going there for years, and while at times it has produced a few fish, there have also been many blank trips. The first trip was nothing special with both of us landing small Smoothhounds and not a lot else. Jase liked the look of the place so a return trip was planned for a few weeks later.
So we duly arrived again and set up camp, intending to do an over-nighter. The sea was ok, a bit murky with some chop on the surface. Sporadic rain. Not rough by any means, quite fishable but not flat calm and gin clear.
At this time of year (late autumn) the summer species like Snapper are normally starting to disappear. However if you do get a snapper in autumn, its likely to be a big one as the big fish tend to come close to shore in Spring and Autumn. During the mid summer they are usually smaller “shoalies” in the 30-40cm range.
As it turned out we got both. The small fish were still there and we landed a few but we also got couple of big ones as well.
The holy-grail of Snapper fishing is the 20lb fish. Thats about 9kg for you youngsters. Some go for a lifetime without catching a fish of that size. I’ve been fishing for over 50 years and I’m still waiting.
So it was an epic scene to see my mate jason catch his first 20 pounder and even better to get it on video. We’d got a couple of decent fish hours before that, with Jase landing a 3.5kg fish and me nabbing a 5.1kg model a short time later. We were already stoked to have those fish in the bin and considered anything else caught that trip would just be a bonus. But towards the end of the day Jase’s rod bent over nicely and the weight foretold of something special.
Watch the video!

Jason’s first 20lb Snapper

Other trips have gone better than expected as well. Earlier in the season I landed a couple of nice Moki. Another local trip yielded an 18lb Smoothhound. Numerous smaller Snapper and just last weekend a nice 4.6kg Snapper. So all in all its been a very successful season at Mohaka and other local beaches, long may it continue.
Check out this assortment of images.

Solar Power for the van

I’ve been experimenting to see what would be required in the way of power needs, to run my Vantage 82 litre fridge/freezer on solar power. The specs suggest that a 200w panel and a 20amp MPPT controller coupled with a 150ah deep cycle battery should do.
So now I have a 260w panel mounted on the roof tray. Its hinged on one side so that I can tilt it, or just lift it up to get underneath it for whatever reason.

This panel is feeding a Tracer AN Series 20amp MPPT Controller which feeds a pair of 85ah deep cycle batteries wired in parallel.

The setup seems to be holding its own against the 6amp consumption of the fridge-freezer at 14.1v. I’ve yet to try it on a cloudy day. Its hot and sunny this week.