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President’s July 2017 Ramble

This time last year we had a relatively dry winter; not this one. I don’t know how your grounds are, but mine are sodden, and we live on well draining volcanic soils. Between the rain and I suspect less sunshine, the first of our daffodils were about three weeks late coming out. However moaning, talking or anything else about the weather, no matter how much of a tradition in being an icebreaker in conversation, is not what this ramble is going to be about.

We are rapidly approaching the Bastille Day lunch (after I have written this – prior to you reading it), I look forward to having seen some of you there, we are due to be presented the Tricoleur Trophy for the first time in my presidency, which now is some 7 years in the making, that we will have held it. How many of us even remember what it looks like?!?

More importantly we have the AGM coming up almost immediately after the Bastille Day luncheon, we will make a point of bringing the Tricoleur Trophy to the AGM so that you can view it and refresh your memories on what it looks like! More importantly it is fair to say that some in the committee are getting a bit long in the tooth, grey in the hair and slow off the starting line, at least compared to their youthful selves.

The committee could do with some new blood in it, even if to do not much more than turn up and give us some new ideas or food for thought during the almost monthly meetings (we take January off). Even used blood would be good, by that I mean it doesn’t have to be too youthful, it is not a high stress job to be in the committee of this club, except maybe for the secretary.
Also can I request that as many of you as possible that can make the AGM please turn up, for three major reasons;

a) Without numbers at the AGM the club ceases to exist, so be present to support the club.
b) With the exception of Soo Land and Steve Cornwall (who resides up North) I believe (I haven’t checked) if you look at the attendance record for events over the last year that the top attendees will be the committee members before any other individual is recorded on that list. We as a committee like to think we are working for more than our own self-gratification in organising events we want to attend. Let us see a sign of support for the job we do by coming to the AGM.
c) A major part of the club is and should be relationships with those who support us. Please come and support SOUTHERN AUTOS who have kindly offered part of their premises for our purposes, i.e. the AGM. Whilst you are there have a look at what Peugeots they have to offer.

So when is the AGM?

Saturday 29th July,
2.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.ish

Southern Autos –
1 Bakerfield Place – Manukau

Over the last month I have had a couple of Rambles in this wonderful country of ours. The first of which was the shed visit to Te Aroha kindly organised by Citroen (the other club). I went to this with John Grant and my youngest daughter Jessica. Originally it was going to be just her and I and I had told here how we would be able to travel with windows down and sunroof open, weather permitting, we both enjoy the open air experience. However things changed. We gained John and the rules of engagement were modified. As Jessica was going to lose the front seat, the windows would likely be higher up, if not up and the sunroof closed, I was told in no uncertain terms that the car radio was to be on her station. John was duly told this condition of his stewardship of the passenger seat when we picked him up and off the three of us went with ZM providing the soundtrack, a radio station I suspect John’s ears rarely if ever have to process, but one that I am finding I am increasingly exposed to.

The day was sunny and beautiful in Auckland, however we met a wall of fog at the top of the Bombay Hills; a very thick wall where seeing more than 50m in any direction was exceptionally good vision at times. We followed State Highway 1 to Ohinewai and took the road to Tahuna. Just after passing Te Hoe the fog disappeared, again as a wall, there was no thinning out. We passed a farm house in fog, then some 50ish metres down the road the next was in brilliant sunshine. Neighbours whom would have had totally different experiences of the day, yet so close together!

Jessica couldn’t wait to get to Te Aroha and requested somewhere to stop to get a bite. On the route we were taking, short of stopping at a stranger’s door and asking for food, options were few – well only one option actually, and that was the G.A.S. station in Tahuna. I stopped there to get her a pie with every intention to not do the same for me. They stocked the Oxford brand of pies, which I have seen a number of times in various petrol stations, supermarkets and the like when travelling through the Waikato and neighbouring regions. I had always thought they must be a business from Tirau, simply because the colonial ancestors some of us have, once named Tirau, Oxford (to nicely match Cambridge a little further north up State Highway 1), hence you get a few businesses and landmarks there such as the Oxford Buildings (1922), the Oxford Gallery, the Oxford Cafe and others. The name was changed in 1896 to Tirau – which is a Maori name referring to it being a place of many Cabbage Trees – hence you also get businesses there such as the Cabbage Tree Cafe and the fine corrugated steel artwork outside Tirau Primary School of cabbage trees.

However I have digressed, or should I say rambled, off topic. A little research, i.e. the Oxford Pies website has revealed it is actually a Hamilton based business that began in 1977 in Oxford Street, hence the name. It is no longer in Oxford Street but the name remains the same. Anyway I purchased for Jessica a mince and cheese pie, which she thoroughly loved, and no wonder as I have now found out that they frequently have been medal winners since 2008 in the wholesale/commercial bakery division of the pie awards – though only with that flavour. I however, despite best intentions, could not resist buying a pie for myself – I know – you are all gasping in surprise as you read this. In my defence it was a flavour I had never seen before -‘Magic Meatballs’, so purely for scientific reasons I felt compelled to purchase one and here are the very non-independent tasting results – they nailed it in flavour, but could have had a couple more meatballs. The sauce was straight out of Italy, exactly what you would expect with a top spaghetti and meatball dish.

After carrying on we got to Te Aroha, where we saw a few more of our members (as well as those of the other club) and an excellent collection of automobiles. Frankly it was one of the strangest collections of cars I have seen, and I say this in an admiring way, they had vehicles sourced from the USA, Japan, the U.K., Italy and France. They ranged in age from a 1936 Packard through to a 2010 Nissan 370Z. It is so unusual to come across a collection of vehicles that does not come under a theme, whether it be micro cars, country of origin, a specific brand or cars of a limited time period, yet this collection worked. From the small to average right through to the very large automobile. It was a wonderful collection that I think catered for all the automobile enthusiasts.

Other Rambles I have had include a rapid weekend away with my father, Tom, to watch the Lions vs All Blacks game at the Cake Tin (Westpac Stadium) in Wellington. I was fortunate enough to win tickets for us through a promotion in the New Zealand Herald in association with Jockey underwear. We chose to drive to the game, the main motivating factor being since we had won these tickets we wanted to make sure of making the game, especially with the amount of fogged in flights cancelled mornings there have been in both Auckland and Wellington over the last month. Another factor is that we are both road trip type of people – appropriate for car club members really – which was then sweetened by the fact it was cheaper to pay for fuel etc than for the both of us to fly. Naturally I also had an ulterior motive, that being that Kihikihi is on the route between Auckland and Wellington and therefore we would just have to stop at Viands bakery for a bite, but I will get back to that later.

Tom and I have been attending Eden Park together since I was 5 months old, we have also been to Pukekohe, Onewa Domain, Albany, Hamilton and Whangarei for games, some for the National team, others for The Blues and others still to support Auckland. We have both been to Wellington and the Cake Tin before, but never together, Tom going with my mother to the Wellington Sevens, whereas I had been for a Wellington Phoenix football game with my sister, my family and the in-laws. With all the years that I have attended large sporting events I had never been to a game with an atmosphere like it. In part it had to do with what the Lions fans bought with them, but it wasn’t all of it. I think the design of the stadium is simply brilliant for a more or less full crowd (the crowd was far from full when I attended the Phoenix game). I am guessing about 50% to 67% of the crowd has a tin roof over their heads, higher percentage than I imagine is available at any other stadium in New Zealand including the Forsyth Bar Stadium in Dunedin, which will have something other than tin above. Nothing amplifies like a tin roof, the crowd atmosphere was electric; simply has to be experienced to believe it.

Then last night I went to Eden Park for the final test, again unbelievable! The loudest I have ever had it there, louder than Wellington, I suspect however that was simply because both teams and both lots of supporters were putting it all on the line. I am sure that if it had been in Wellington it would have been something else again.

Now for the promised pie review, we left Auckland at 6.30 am, carefully planned to arrive in Kihikihi for breakfast. Now I haven’t been for breakfast before and somehow my normal pie choice of braised oxtail in red wine followed by a fruit pie to chase it down just didn’t seem right at 8.15 in the morning. I needed a breakfast pie. And I am pleased to report that the Viands Bakery creamy mushroom and bacon pie hit the spot perfectly, accompanied by a mochaccino to get that delicate coffee with chocolate flavour. Never, whether in a pie or as an accompaniment to a main dish in a restaurant have I tasted such beautifully creamed mushrooms, which in turn complimented the bacon exquisitely. I also purchased one of the famed dessert pies, which however travelled to Whanganui before it was consumed. I was one happy camper.

On the return trip we had a couple of things to do, including inspecting a property for an out of towner who was getting it renovated, so it was 9am before we left Wellington, without breakfast. Tom suggested we stop in Foxton and check out a stop he had used a few times in the 1980s when he had some deliveries to do for his work between Auckland and Wellington. I went with him on one of these trips in 1983, it was the first time I had been to Wellington, my parents were letting me have a couple of days off school and I had been looking forward to experiencing the wind, it was to be a real highlight. However it wasn’t to be. Wellington put on a still lifeless wind day for my first visit. The power of the wind however still made a huge impression as it was the first time that I recollect ever seeing so many trees all bent and wrapped the same way whilst there was no wind. I also remember clearly parts of the trip, the route that SH1 used to take near Taupo, enjoying Dad’s company and that we stopped at a diner and I was allowed a milkshake. I couldn’t have told you where it was other than north of Wellington but this must have been it. Dad reckons it was the spot he always stopped.

I don’t know if it is trading under the same name now as it was then, I suspect it isn’t. It is nothing flash to look at, but boy am I glad we stopped for breakfast there. It was more a late breakfast/early lunch experience, somewhere around 11am, so I was more than ready for food. The diner is now called Sam’s Bakery and Cafe, it is on the left hand side of the main road as you drive south through Foxton, big carpark for the size of the building which is painted in a hue of bright red. Anyway to get to the guts of the matter, I ordered a Lamb and Kumara pie, I have to say that although there wasn’t enough Kumara in it, I can say without a doubt in my mind it was the best gravy I had ever tasted in a less than $5 pie. Rich, dark and handsome, complimented the lamb magnificently.

Anyway, time for me to stop, I could mention some of the other things I have seen and done recently, but I know the editor wants the space and I think I have overdone it,

See you at the AGM.
Brent. 




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