Saturday, 26 September 2020

Home away from home, Whakatane - Sept 2020


As it came time to leave Whanarua Bay, we were both feeling a little flat.  It is always so hard to leave this heaven on earth!  Stopping at the dairy in Tirohanga for one of their legendary ice creams softened the blow somewhat.

This was our first time back in town for a while and certainly since NZ jumped up to Level 2 Covid.  We had felt very safe from all things Covid up the bay.  But it was time to get out and about again and jump back into our housesitting lifestyle.  We would be stopping in Whakatane for 10 days to stay with our number one springer spaniel, Max ......

And his lovely sister, Ruby ....

We arrived in town a day earlier than planned as James had been offered a day out on a fishing charter.  Well, that was a no brainer!!

A bin full of terakihi

One of James' favourite fish to catch - a kingfish

James brought home 20 terakihi and some kingfish for the tummy and the freezer.  We also gave lots away to family and friends who we knew would appreciate it.  The thing about the freezer is that we have a communal freezer at Ollie and Snow's in Whakatane that all manner of wild food goes into by both us and them. We are always delighted to add our contributions to it.  This year alone = venison, wild pork, rabbit and hare and lots and lots of fish.

Some friends from Whanarua, who also have a house in Whakatane that they spend time at, prepared a fish head brawn out of a hapuka head James had supplied from his previous fishing trip to Ranfurly Banks.  It really was most delicious and something we haven't ever made before.

Whitebait season had started which added a new dimension to our walks with Max on the riverbank.  Never sick of fishing, James decided to take his rod on our walks and try to spin up some kahawai which we hoped would be chasing the whitebait up the river.  He only caught one, but Max was happy to have his walks stretched out to a half hour or so longer.  As a trained bird dog, Max was a little confused about his roll in this activity.  He couldn't quite figure out if he was supposed to be flushing the fish out or fetching them in if it was stupid enough to get caught!

A discussion about who should
do what if they catch one!

It was easier for Max to get distracted by the ducks .... which he at least is familiar with.

We were privileged to watch a seal playing in the river on two occasions.

We enjoyed a couple of play dates with Max's best girl, Luna.  She is always so much fun at the beach trying to find the biggest possible sticks for us to throw.

Throw this one!

Coastlands Beach, enjoyed by animal
and vehicle alike!

Meanwhile, back at the house, Ruby is thoroughly enjoying some unseasonably awesome winter weather.

At the end of the day, Max is so happy to have us around he's even happy to make himself available as a footrest.

And Ruby enjoyed helping with Clare's knitting.

Thanks Ruby ... NOT! ;-)

Monday, 24 August 2020

Fishing and sitting in the bay - Jul/Aug 2020

 Raukokore, East Cape

We spent a week in Whakatane so that James could tick off one of his fishing bucket list items ... a trip to Ranfurly Banks targeting Bluefin.  He was to be on the boat for four nights, five days.

It felt a bit counter-intuative to head to Whakatane just so he could head back to the East Cape by boat.  But that is where the trip was leaving from.  Plus, it meant Clare could spend the week catching up with friends in her hometown.

On happy chappy ... top left, clockwise: Hapuka; Albacore Tuna (big pic, big fish!);
some of the catch; Bluenose .... a Gemfish and some Kingfish were also caught (not pictured)

There were only six fisherman and two crew on the charter.  James didn't manage to land a Bluefin but played one in stormy weather, standing up for 1hr 20 and was secretly pleased when the hook eventually pulled.  Two Bluefin were landed. 

Another perk of being on the ocean

We have been enjoying the spoils for weeks now and were able to share tonnes of fish with friends also.  

A 'tasting plate' menu of fish enjoyed with friends

Our culinary preference in order from top to bottom .... bluenose, albacore, hapuka, bluefin, gemfish.

The day James arrived back on land we headed back to Whanarua Bay to housesit for our friends Moe and Christa.  We had met them whilst wintering down at the bach, walking their dog, Ina, down at the beach.  So it was a no brainer for us to housesit for them while they enjoyed a month long kiwi break.  They would normally be travelling in Europe, but Covid-19 has put the kaibosh on many peoples travel plans, ours included.

Best mates

Kokoro, Ina's feline brother

We had a fairly bad start at this housesit!  On our very first walk with Ina down at 'our' beach, she was attacked and mauled by a visiting dog at one of the other baches.  It just came belting down from their top deck and latched on to her. What the .....!  While the other dog's owner failed to call it off, James managed to wrestle it off Ina, who had not fought back at all.  Once we all calmed down, we wrapped Ina's leg, which appeared to be the only injured part, in a teatowel and took off for the vets in Opotiki, more than an hour away.  It didn't help that it was a Saturday, just before midday so we had arranged for the vet to be there after house.  Ina required 15 stitches in her front leg.  The young couple responsible for the other dog followed us into the vet and paid the bill.  Rightly so.  We took our wee girl home, still under anaesthetic, all three of us still traumatised, and nursed her back to health. 

The patient

She bounced back pretty quickly and was up on her feet the next day.  We were very careful with her for some weeks, especially when other dogs were around.  We couldn't help being hyper aware of her safety, even though we felt like there was nothing we could have done differently to prevent the incident.  She was such an awesome patient, not once bothering her bandaging.  After five days of antibiotics we took the bandaging off to allow some fresh air to the wound, but as she couldn't help but worry the stitches, now she could see them, Clare knitted a woolly sleeve for her.  It worked a treat.

After much thought and debate, we came to the decision not to tell Moe and Christa about the incident.  Ina was healing really well and there was nothing they could do .... except worry and ruin their holiday.  Had we needed to make any decisions regarding Ina's future wellbeing we would have contacted them immediately.

We never missed a days walk after that first few days.  One long and one shorter.  Ina loves her walks and there are so many awesome places to take a dog round here.

Te Kaha


Fortunately Ina likes to go surfcasting.  We do too!

Whakaari, White Island - blowing her stack, as usual

Kokoro kept us busy with his mischief also.  He liked to watch TV and help with Clare's knitting.

It is always such a pleasure when a cat and dog can live comfortably in each other's space.

As usual, we spent a lot of time behaving like cuddle rugs and photobombers.  And just relaxing together.  It was the middle of winter, after all.

Ina competing for attention with another of
James' love ... rugby

We even managed a day out on some friends' boat.  A bit of dejavu for James as we once again headed round Cape Runaway.

We caught three kingi, some snapper, terakihi and kahawai between the three of us.  The weather was outstanding, the ocean flat and a great time was had by all.  We each took a kingfish and gifted the biggest one to the Samoan guys who live at the campground next door.  They are here working in the kiwifruit orchards and have gotten caught out by Covid too.  We hope they enjoyed their fish.  We sure did.

Kingi coming aboard

It is not only the humans who enjoy a bit of fresh fish

Next up, we headed a couple of hundred meters up the road to short sit for Kuskus.   What a wee bundle of fun and joy this girl is.

Again, we had met Kuskus's Mum walking her on the beach.  We have enjoyed connecting with the locals here at Whanarua.  We are not often in one place long enough to really make these types of connections.  It has also been great to help with these sits, as since Covid struck we find the sits available NZ wide have not only reduced in number, but also reduced greatly in length.  It doesn't seem worth it to take a long journey just for a weekend sit, so we have been loath to venture too far, for more than one reason.

This sit was only four days, but was within walking distance from 'home'.

The house is a really interesting one too ....

The view

The house by night light

This little miss was such easy company.

Enjoying the afternoon sun

Drying off after a wet walk

We really enjoyed having a dog share the bed again.  We are always happy to continue the habits and routines our charges are used to!

Morning hair