Woops, another big blank blog period. I seem to get caught up to date and then rest on my laurels. In this case, we upped our work rate as well and so things got busier and time slipped by.
The day I last caught up with this blog, Monday 18 May was another typical day, trying to get washing dry, getting supplies from the supermarket and working our evening shift from 3.30pm – with cleaning until after 10pm. And rain. The next day we managed to get our sheets washed and dry, and worked similar hours. And it rained, heavily in the evening. Wednesday 20th was more of the same, including getting a warrant of fitness for the car – no bother luckily. And worked, and some rain.
Thursday 21 May was CoF day – Certificate of Fitness for Suzi the truck. You cannot get these at the local garage these days – the brake tests are fairly technical. So it was off to the VTNZ testing station at Mt Maunganui – at least we knew how to find it easily. I dropped Wyn off at the Bayfair shopping mall and went back to the testing station where there wasn’t really a queue. Suzi flew through all her tests, and so she should, she is still almost brand new. The man testing her brakes just shook his head and laughed – I don’t think he sees many that pass so easily. Then it was back to collect Wyn who was through shopping, and back to home at the packhouse. It always takes a while to ready Suzi for the road, and then to unready her again when we park up. We worked our 3.30pm – 7.30pm shift, and after I managed to catch up with my daughter who was having her birthday the next day. I was sort of a day early – I’d got my days a bit mixed earlier in the week. Still it was a lucky mix up because it meant the present got there in plenty of time, and it wouldn’t have been convenient to talk to her on her actual birthday.
Friday we both worked all day – 7.30am – 7.30pm, our first full shift. Many of the others worked these sorts of hours regularly, somehow. I was stacking all day, Wyn was packing and grading. It was a cold day, and rained heavily in the afternoon. I managed to catch up with my daughter by text in the evening which was a good way to end the day.
Saturday I worked 7.30am – 5.30pm – stacking. Wyn went over to Mt Maunganui to watch her grandson play rugby, and went on to the Mount to check out the shops. She came back with some warmer work clothes from the op shops. The days are getting cooler, and some jobs like grading are freezing – graders end up stuck in one place for hours. As the weeks went by, the graders wore more and more warm clothing including jackets and hats and scarves. Meanwhile stackers tended to keep warm working, carrying and lifting tonnes of boxes per hour. I worked the entire season in shorts – even when packing. And when stacking did so mostly with just a short-sleeved top.
We both worked 7.30am – 5.30pm on the Sunday. Wyn got stuck on grading for most of the day. Luckily she had her new op shop jeans and wool jersey with polo neck, with sleeveless merino and black long-sleeved skivvy under, and a fleece vest on top! I worked the day in shorts and thin sleeveless top – stacking.
Monday 25th May I worked most of the day, starting at 7.30am. I had a break from 3.30pm-5.30pm, and passed Wyn as she started at 3.30pm. We both had a break at 7.30pm, and then cleaned until 11pm. I was mostly on packing, which was lucky because 3 days of stacking had just about worn my wee arms out. The notable thing about this day was that it didn’t rain. This was the first day in a long time with no rain. The rain had mucked the pickers around a lot, and delayed the harvest.
Tuesday we both worked 7.30am – 3.30pm and then 5.30pm until after 9.30pm by the time we finished the cleaning. We were both packing, mostly trays. Actually mostly wrapping – someone else was packing the trays and we were wrapping them and closing the boxes – such was the pace of the kiwifruit.
Wednesday we only worked our usual 3.30pm – 7.30pm shift, plus cleaning until 9.30pm. In the morning we took Suzi in to get the Dometic service agent check out the vacuum toilet which was playing up more and more. Bay Lifestyles are the service guys, and they did a very efficient job diagnosing the problem(s). Mostly it was a cracked base station, which was “flogging out” o-rings. A new one had to be ordered in but at least we got some new o-rings, and arranged to return the following week. Wyn found a bakehouse just along the road that sold bags of cake off-cuts, so we dined on bits of carrot cake and caramel square for the rest of the week. And had fish and chips in the sun back in Katikati before we started work. It was a lovely warm day.
Thursday was another lovely sunny morning. We didn’t do much at all, and worked just 3.30pm – 7.30pm. This seemed almost like a holiday.
Friday we worked 7.30am – 7.30pm, me stacking all day and Wyn doing bits of everything. Saturday was a day off, phew – we were ready for a day off. We had a very lazy day. It was Wyn’s grandson’s birthday and we went to the Lone Star restaurant in Tauranga for dinner with him and his Mum and grandparents. The drive in was during a bit of a rainstorm. It was a lovely evening.
Sunday was the last day of May, and we worked all day 7.30am – 5.30pm. I was stacking again, and Wyn was in Tray Preparation – where the trays and boxes are readied for packing and sent down chutes to the packers downstairs.
Monday was the first day of June and Queens Birthday holiday, so it was a day off for everyone. It was sunny but windy and cold all day. We mooched around all day, inside. We finally went out in the car for a change of scene, and watched the sun set over by the harbour.
The Tuesday we woke to a frost, so didn’t get up until it warmed up – it seemed a fair compromise. We worked our usual afternoon shift with cleaning after. Wednesday was a repeat, except the frost was colder. Thursday was another frosty morning. Once that melted, we headed into Mt Maunganui to get the vacuum toilet base station thing replaced. And to pay another visit to the Bake Shack along the road for off-cuts of raspberry slice this time. Bay Lifestyles did a great job with the toilet and it’s done what it is supposed to do ever since. With a few other errands while we were ‘in town’ we got back just in time to start our afternoon shift. With no cleaning duties it was good to finish at 7.30pm. Friday was a no-frost day. A wonderful man in the wine shop in Katikati helped me package up a bottle of stuff to send south for a birthday present. The business and service people in Katikati all seem so helpful and friendly – it is a lovely town.
Saturday 6th June I worked all day – stacking. It was pink-or-purple-or-colourful dress day, a fun idea to liven up the packhouse. I had managed to find a subdued pink sweatshirt in the op shop, which I wore all day because it was cold. We were back to rain again, with wind. Wyn went over to Te Aroha to catch-up with a friend from Thames for coffee and hot pools. And warm sunshine. After work finished we enjoyed drinks with a couple of our neighbouring motorhomers. Sunday we both worked all day, me stacking and Wyn packing. And then we did the cleaning until after 8pm. And this was the end of our longer days, as we started the final countdown to the end of packing later in the week. The weather was not very good for that final spell, cold and cloudy with frequent rain. We managed to get our sheets washed and dry on Monday, somehow. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were afternoon shifts, and cleaning afterwards. And when we finished cleaning on Wednesday that was it for us. The season was over. The final day was Thursday, but that was finishing at 2pm for the packhouse top-team games so there was no afternoon shift. I was in a team as a stacker – and petrified since I couldn’t lift the boxes two or three at a time like the others. Wyn was our team photographer. Our team did well in the packing race. For the specialised stacking and strapping competition, I had a cunning plan for the strapping strapper to do most of the heavy high stuff, and we did an efficient job and didn’t disgrace ourselves. Afterwards there was a lovely meal with the awards ceremony, and a digital jukebox and dancing. It was a great way to end the season at a good friendly packhouse with a lovely friendly workforce.
Friday 12th and we were ready to leave. There was a BBQ breakfast round at the motorhomers shelter, on another cold and wet morning. Then we headed off, after 3 months living at the packhouse – headed for Omokoroa beside Tauranga Harbour.
The photo above shows the Wairarapa coastline north of Castlepoint in the winter of 2013.
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