Sunday, March 22, 2015

ScooterBob goes train spotting!!

Following the last post about ScooterBob's history, his arrival in Coromandel and meeting our close friends, it was time for SB to go exploring.  Before our friends Peter and Jane Miller returned to the UK, we wanted to show them a local attraction, Driving Creek Railway .  Of course, it would be rude not to invite cherished guest SB along too.

The narrow gauge railway was built by a (very) eccentric potter, Barry Brickell; to collect both clay and firewood for the kilns from the hills on his property. An increasing overdraft saw his bank manager suggest that the railway might be used for fare-paying passengers as well.  You can read about Barry's incredible transformation of the railway by using the link above but it's an amazing construction winding through the hills.  It's not just a rail journey, the old and often bizarre equipment and kilns used to produce all sorts of pottery are an attraction in themselves.  It's not only pottery which is made there but glass objects, paintings and the occasional bit of ironwork too.  Pottery and glass objects are tucked into all sorts of nooks and crannies in the buildings and up the track waiting to delight the people who stumble on them.

ScooterBob arriving at Driving Creek Railway

Do we drive on the left or right??

Introducing himself to the train driver, Pete Sefton

All aboard!

As mentioned earlier, there are all sorts of treasures tucked into recesses and by the track on the way up into the hills.  Here are a few examples.

Gorgeous glassware made on site

Discarded glass vases in one of the workshops

Bizarre pottery along the track

Yet more pottery

Wonderful rustic workshop

As the train slowly worked its way up into the hills, we chatted with SB and he appeared to really enjoy all the sights.  There are several tunnels on the track and one with a decorative terracotta entrance, all made on site.

Terracotta entrance to the tunnel

One of the items on the tunnel entrance wall is a pottery plaque.  It's a poem by TS Eliot and is a moving reminder to take our opportunities while we can.

A reminder to us all....

At the top of the track, there is a viewing structure appropriately called the Eyefull Tower which gives magnificent views over Coromandel Harbour.  ScooterBob took time during the climb up the spiral staircase to catch his breath and look down on the train.

Climbing up the Eyefull Tower 

Taking in the great views

After returning to the station, it was time for SB to have a last look at the buildings and some garden pottery before a quick peek into the relatively recently-opened art gallery on site.

One last look....

SB in the pottery garden

A forged iron chandelier in the gallery lit with LED's

Part of a forged iron garden art structure

Scooterbob had a pretty full time of it and as we had to take Peter and Jane to the airport for the trip back to the UK, he elected to stay in Coromandel and recharge his battery whilst Peter, Jane, Jennie and I headed north to Auckland airport .

Saying goodbye to his new-found friends Peter and Jane

Next time: ScooterBob goes out on the Triumph Street Triple and other petrol-head adventures!

Friday, March 20, 2015

ScooterBob on the Coromandel Peninsula, NZ



International traveller ScooterBob arrived in Coromandel Town from Andrew further down the North Island of NZ.  We were having breakfast on the deck when SB arrived so it was an opportune time to remove him from his travelling home, let him have some sunlight and welcome him to our neck of the woods.  As Bob loved people and valued friendships, I thought it would only be right and proper to introduce ScooterBob to some of our great friends during his stay - more on that later.


Annie welcoming ScooterBob to our home

We didn't want to wear SB out on his first day so his first outing was close to sunset when I took him down to the town wharf to let him look at the fishing boats and meet a couple of the local commercial fishermen who were enjoying a cold beer after a day out at sea.


SB checking out the local fishing fleet at sunset


Local commercial fishing identities Bunsen and Pete exchanging yarns with SB

After meeting some locals on the wharf, it was off to the lookout near our house to enjoy sunset over the islands in the Hauraki Gulf.


Sunset over the Hauraki Gulf

Unfortunately, the best-laid plans to go a little further afield were curtailed by dire warnings from the NZ MetService about the fast-approaching Tropical Cyclone Pam.  Mercifully, it passed a little further to the east than expected so some torrential rain over 24 hours or so and some boisterous winds were all we encountered.  However, it gave us the opportunity to take a couple of shots in less than tropical weather!


Cyclone Pam approaches!

With the weather packing up fast, there was just time to nip down to the end of our road to show SB the building seas.  With his shiny coat of varnish, SB scoffed at the driving rain whilst I was getting rapidly soaked.  SB was far too gracious to call me a wimp, but I'm sure that's what he was thinking.


Seas and rain building, but SB enjoying the bracing conditions

With normal weather returning, it was time to venture a little further afield and introduce SB to some close friends who live not far from us.  Paul and Julie are lovers of British classic vehicles.  Julie drives an immaculate MGB GT V8 which was in for a service when we visited.  Paul is a dedicated Norton enthusiast and Secretary of the NZ Norton Owners Club.  For everyday transport, he rides a 1951 ES2.  His ride for rallies and similar outings is a flawless Commando 750 fastback which he bought brand new when he was 19!  The other Norton is a Commando 850 racebike which owes very little to the original road-going 850 Commando and like most racing machinery, is a bottomless hole into which money is poured.  However, it is very, very fast, surprisingly reliable and Paul does extremely well in post-classic racing.


ScooterBob playing with his big English cousins


SB goes racing!

This summer has been really busy in terms of friends and relatives visiting us, both from NZ and overseas.  It was a great opportunity for ScooterBob from Canada to meet visiting English friends of ours who we hadn't seen for 42 years!  I've known Peter and Jane Miller since I was in my late teens.  Pete and I drag-raced bikes together in the UK, albeit in different capacity classes.  We moved to NZ  in the 1970's and Pete went on to enjoy ultimate accolades with an FIM-approved world record in the 500cc class over the standing start quarter mile with his supercharged, nitro-burning beast.  Pete and Jane are still motorcycle enthusiasts with a Triumph Thunderbird cruiser and a KTM trail bike in the stable.

As Bob really enjoyed his food, we thought that he would completely approve of ScooterBob being invited to a BBQ at home with Jennie, Paul and Julie and Pete and Jane.


Jennie, Jane, Julie, Pete and Paul with guest of honour, SB


SB enjoying convivial company

In the next instalment of ScooterBob in NZ, we venture further afield!


Monday, March 9, 2015

ScooterBob has left the building

Yes, he has finally packed his bags (or shoe-box) and is on his way to meet up with Geoff.

It's has been nice being able to take part in his around the world adventure and he also gave me an excuse to take in a few more sights when down South for the TT2000.  He gave me an excuse to revisit Jackson Bay and also to go for a lap around the Catlins on the TT.  And closer to home a trip on some great gravel was an opportunity to show him some pretty North Island country.

The below map is my GPS log of the travels I had with ScooterBob - just under 5,000km in all.


So, goodbye Bob and safe travels!

Nelson
All my ScooterBob blogs here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ScooterBob's Gravel Adventure

With my two weeks off rapidly coming to an end I had to make sure that ScooterBob got to see a bit more of the country.  This time around a short circuit involving some delicious gravel was called for and ScooterBob was carefully packed in the Vee's topbox for this new adventure.

We left Palmy at around 9 and after being held up by the world's longest train in Bunnythorpe (4 engines and probably at least a kilometre long) we made our way out across Vinegar Hill to Hunterville where we gave the Vee a wee drinky before hitting the gravel.  After taking in the sealed section of Ongo Road we hit the gravel when we turned onto Turakina Valley Road.

The GoPro even played ball for a while...
It'd been a while since I'd had a decent squirt on gravel so I took things fairly quietly and made sure that we had time for a few photo stops.





Turakina Valley Road has to rate as one of my favourite gravel roads - it's pretty easy riding and offers some great views.  Up at the Northern end the gravel was in superb condition and speeds were high.  The only delay I had was when I came across a farmer moving some cattle along the road.



A bit of cloud hiding Ruapehu

Eventually Turakina Valley Road petered out at Tangiwai and we carried on towards Ohakune where we stopped so ScooterBob could check out the big carrot.



From Ohakune we rode up to National Park where we caught up with Neil for lunch and discussed the route we were going to take home.  I decided we'd have to checkout another nice valley...

Leaving National Park we cruised down to Raetihi where the Vee was refueled (just in case) for the trip back.  South of Raetihi we turned East onto Oruakukuru Road which was to take us over to our next valley.






Oruakukuru Road eventually led us onto Whangaehu Valley Road and after riding the sealed section (and some road works) to Kakatahi, we turned left to continue down the Whangaehu Valley.




Nice shady spot

The ride down the valley was pretty special but somehow I forced myself to stop for more pictures for ScooterBob's scrapbook.




Hanging on for dear life...

Eventually the gravel ran out and we settled in for a quiet cruise home via Fordell and then boring old SH3 all the way back to Palmy.  The Vee was parked up just after four and 400 odd fun kms showing ScooterBob some of our local gravel.  I hope he enjoyed the adventure.


More pics here.