It seems like so long ago since I wrote the last Chronicles – it was only December, but honestly the time is flying by so fast, I’m scared I’ll blink and it’ll be the end of March heading into April, and then winter will be here before you know it.

By the way, the summer weather has been non-existent until the last week or so. It has been so awful I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a snow dump or frost in late March this year, and that’ll get the vineyards around us scurrying around to protect their fruit.

Lots of fun at the UB40 concert in January, especially as the sun started to go down

We started off our New Year by spending hours getting the RnR (our motorhome) emptied, cleaned and tweaked to within an inch of its life. We rented it out again, and this time it’s out for 77 days. We thought it was all ready to go, but the day before our renters arrived from the Netherlands, we found the Webasto dual-top was still popping fuses every time it was turned on. We thought it had been repaired before Christmas; we had a service and lots of things fixed so the vehicle would be perfect – but no. Unfortunately, it ended up being a big problem that meant our new friends had no hot water for a few weeks until they made their way to Auckland, where it was fixed after a couple of days.

Eddie Low had the crowds up and dancing at the Country Music festival

The problem was the heater should have been wired direct to the battery with its own fuse, not joined up to the TV, satellite, toilet and entertainment centre electrics with multiple fuses. No wonder we had constant problems with it from the beginning. It has cost us hundreds over that time trying to fix the problem, and to finally get it sorted cost another $1500. Luckily our renters were yachties as well as RVers, cold showers and boiling water was not a problem for them.

A local Martinborough restaurant has opened, Lunar Vineyard, wow the food is really good. These tapas plates are only $16 each, and we ended up with too much food for us to eat - that makes a change!

After that drama, a bit of fun was in order so we went to the UB40 concert in early January, when they performed here in Martinborough. Most of the village went to enjoy the concert as well. When you live in a village and an international star comes to town to entertain, we all go along, even though I was never into their music back in the day. It was a great night – lots of dancing, singing and fun for all. We also discovered a new vineyard restaurant has opened at Lunar estate (it was Alana estate for many years). We ended up going for lunch with different visitors four times in a week; the food is really tasty and such good value at $16 for the tapas plates and $22 for mains. If you’re coming into Martinborough, this is one lunch place we absolutely recommend – it’s yum yum yummy.

Lynda kept the crowd involved and having fun

A week or so later, the Wairarapa country music festival was on at the Tauherenikau racecourse. I had thought we wouldn’t go this year because last year wasn’t that great, but on hearing the Topp Twins would be entertaining the crowds, we organised our butts and got down there on the Saturday night. Years ago when The Rock and I ran a small zoo in the Bombay Hills, we had a fundraising concert with the Topp Twins being the star act – they were so utterly brilliant that seeing them again became a ‘must do’ event for us. My goodness me, they are still so funny, great singers and total entertainers. Eddie Low played after the girls – he’s a classic Kiwi country star and was a hit with the crowd as well.

Left - Lynda and Jools Topp are a must-see if they come to your area

Then near the end of January, it was Cruise Martinborough again, the classic and hot rod five-day event that started up three years back. Not so many classic caravans this year, but the weather was kind and everyone had a great time.

The following weekend the Martinborough Fair was on, but no spend up for us this year. We thought there was too much rubbishy imported stuff, and nothing took our fancy.

Caspar loved lunch at the Anchor Restaurant and Bar in Nelson, and so did we – what a great spot and the meals were yummy and well priced at under $20. We highly recommend it

The golf safari event that’s covered later in this issue, saw my big brother Peter and wife Sue come to stay with us for a couple of days over the same weekend. They had joined the golf safari as one of their first RV rally events, complete with their second-hand caravan and mountain bikes. They had a great time travelling with the group of like-minded people, and playing wonderful country courses from Taranaki, across to Martinborough and ending up in Petone. They will be on the road often from now on, I’m sure.

Seafood platter at the Slip Inn Café at Havelock - way too much food for us, we definitely needed a couple more people to share it

Then it was time to get our heads down for a few weeks work, before heading south to Nelson for the NZMCA AGM rally event. We headed across Cook Strait early on the Sunday – taking a workday to travel was out of the question. We have a big project on right now with a specialist one-off centenary publication to celebrate 100 years of the Motor Trade Association in New Zealand. This will go to the printers this month and will be available in April, just in time for a huge motor show event to celebrate their centenary, called the MTA100. If you can get to Wellington for the last weekend of April, book it now because this’ll be three days of fascinating displays, with the latest concept cars from overseas coming in from the major manufacturers, along with parades and displays of new and classic vehicles that will make for a unique event.

‘70s was the theme for the NZMCA weekend, all the Tasman and West Coast members did a fabulous job

From the ferry, we elected to drive around Queen Charlotte Sound to Havelock instead of going through Blenheim to get to Nelson. We love this drive even though it’s windy and a bit narrow at times. At Havelock, we stopped for lunch at the Slip Inn Café on the boat ramp and marina. What a blessing this was – we had delicious food once again, and happily watched an older gentleman launch his pristine restored wooden coal-fired boat into the water. He wasn’t keen to chat at all, but we appreciated his wonderful wee vessel.

Hampton Downs raceway celebrated Ken Smith, an incredible gentleman who is over 70-years old and still wins championship races - hats off to you Ken

Without our motorhome, we had to book into a motel for the first time for years, and with Caspar as well, that made the whole Nelson trip a bit more unique. We were so pleased with Caspar – he behaved with great respect in his new home for the week. During the week, we popped out to the Port area and found the Anchor Restaurant and Bar on the marina. I hate to be repetitive, but the food here really impressed us as well. Fresh snapper for me, steak for The Rock, under $20 for the meals, so delicious and a lovely venue where Caspar was made welcome as well. We recommend it to readers if you’re in Nelson – it’s low key, casual and delicious.

Hot cars and classic caravans at the Cruise Martinborough event this year, held in late January

The weather was hot and humid for the week – so lucky for the organisers of the NZMCA rally. Nearly 600 vehicles attended the event, and the board meeting on the Saturday was held outside on a beautiful day. That evening the ‘70s-themed music and entertainment saw many dress up in outlandish wigs and ‘70s-themed clothing it was all great fun.

RV Leisure Centre in Nelson kindly lent us this 2011 model Auto Trail motorhome to work out of for the NZMCA AGM rally, so kind of them and the owner - thanks guys

We had heard there was a Speedway track down the road, and racing was on that evening. Drag racing, hot rods, TQ midgets and speedway events were very much part of my teenage years, and it was such fun to go with my Rock, and join Gary and Laura Smith and Chris Hodson from Apollo Vehicle sales on the benches at the track. The mud was flying, the crashes spectacular (no injuries) and the roar of the heavy throbbing V8s taking me straight back to the ‘70s.

Speedway on Saturday night in Richmond was great fun, took me back to my teenage years

Sunday afternoon saw us packing up ready to head for Picton. We had to get home that night so I could be up bright and early to write up all the reviews from the great new motorhomes and caravans that were at the rally. Some were hot off the boat from overseas and had only been on the ground for a few days – some of these are reviewed in these pages, and they’ll also join other new brands and models in Auckland for this month’s Covi Motorhome, Caravan and Outdoor SuperShow. We’ll be there as well of course.

Bruce and Caspar sitting back and chilling. This is Caspar’s new car booster seat and he loves it

Unfortunately we had a bit of a drama though, when the lovely couple that had that day purchased the Pilote A-class motorhome on display, popped over to the stand to see us. We gave them a subscription to the magazine to celebrate their purchase, and our car keys that were on our table accidentally made their way into a certain gentleman’s pocket when they walked away. It took a little bit of time to notice. When I asked The Rock “Have you got the car keys?” his reply of “No” got us a bit worried at first.

A quadruple search of everywhere imaginable, including the food rubbish bin in the café court, had me nearly in tears.

Laura from DeLuxe Group in Blenheim, busy running around between vehicles. There was a lot of interest from rally-goers and public visitors over the weekend

We have an older BMW with the spare key in Martinborough, so that was no help to us at the time. A call to the locksmith confirmed hundreds of dollars and quite a bit of time and hassle would be involved in trying to resolve the issue. Eventually the old brain cells kicked in and little Miss Control took over, I decided to start ringing all the people who had signed up that day. Thanks be to someone upstairs, the first phone call resulted in a certain gentleman searching his pockets and finding a bit more in there than he expected. Whew – the relief was huge! Good lesson learned – in future put keys in pockets, purses or on a lanyard, never on the table.

The weather was perfect for the weekend of the NZMCA AGM rally, picture perfect at times, with nearly 600 vehicles registered for the weekend

Within half an hour, we were packed down, loaded into the car and off – after all we wanted to finish our visit with another lunch at the Slip Inn. Trying their seafood platter was on our minds. We made it, ordered it, and tried to eat it all up – but it was just too much food for us (yes, even too much for The Rock). I love this place – it’s so picturesque, the staff so friendly and really great food. That makes three places we’ve had brilliant food this year – nearly a record. So many places are so ordinary.

A late sailing on the Ferry, with Steve from Generator Place as company, and the drive home saw us arrive in Martinborough just before midnight. Time to get these fingers flying over the keyboard and get this puppy to the printers Tuesday, a busy week but writing about the latest products just had to be done.

Steve Lane from the RV Supercentre in Auckland came down to work the weekend – this is a new model A-class motorhome from them, the Trailblazer

Thanks to all our readers and new subscribers we chatted to in Nelson. Meeting and talking with you guys is the highlight of these events for us, and we’re so humbled by your love of the magazine, the connection we all have together as we share stories, travel and all sorts of RV knowledge. It’s what our RV community is all about.

Now we look forward to seeing those of you who’ll be in Auckland for the Covi show. In the meantime, take care out there and safe travels.