At a more acceptable hour, we emerged from the covers and had breakfast. I wandered over to the toilets and congratulated the cleaner on his sterling work. He was a very amenable chap who gave me some useful tips on freedom camping. It seemed that having a fishing rod is useful. One would not then be camping but fishing. He informed me that one of their councillors was very strict on people sticking to the exact rules and spaces. Any infringement resulted in her own special warning - a 200 dollar fine. Ouch! I made sure we were in the white lines and moved before the moving time.
I have decided to go with the flow and call our Motorhome a camper over here. I was once offended when my sister-in-law called it that (apologies June). So at 9am we moved our camper ten metres to the opposite side of the car park. We would be allowed to move back later in the day. What a farce.
Once the camper was compliant, we set off to collect the iPod. The shop's safety door was just rising. I was in like a shot - and out not long after, minus the iPod. Only one file had been downloaded, so the assistant attempted another ploy on one of the super- duper new computers. Now I had another three hours to kill.
We were in no hurry, so we went to see what the local street market had on offer. Small stalls were erected on the pavement outside the shops. I could not resist the enormous cauliflower and carrots. Had there been room in my suitcase, I would have purchased the heart-shaped stone decorated with decoupage ( paper napkins had been glued on then varnished ). All manner of crafts and foodstuffs were for sale.
In the Op Shop, Hubby fell in love with a coat. He has never been interested in buying clothes and cannot bear to part with his old green jumper. This, it seemed, was progress. Having only packed one fleece, I doubled my winter wear and bought a large, kingfisher-blue top with plenty of room for growth.
At the electric shop we found a neat little device to plug into the cigarette lighter section of the Motorhome. This would be useful for our iPods. In the 2 dollar shop, we splashed out and bought a serving spoon and some Blu-tak. It was the Bakery Stall which had us mesmerised with all the different toes and flavours of bread. We decided that the Pizza Focaccia was well worth our attention and money. Our mouths were soon devouring chunks filled with ham and cheese. (Would you like some?) I did bow to healthy eating by setting up a side salad of tomatoes, cucumber and avocado.
My third and final visit to the Stationery shop was successful. Success at last and the assistant only wanted the cost of the memory stick, despite all her hard work.
As I walked back to the camper (it's also faster to type than Motorhome) I chatted to a group of mums with their schoolchildren. They were here for a competition. The school children had to sing, dance, recite and perform a Haka. For the princely sum of two dollars each, our hands were stamped and we joined the queue.
It was only possible to enter during the intervals, so as not to disrupt the performances. The doors opened and everyone moved forward. I spotted a couple of seats towards the back of the theatre. We had a good view of the stage.
It was a brilliant afternoon's entertainment. The youngsters were both confident and talented. Their singing of traditional Maori songs sent shivers down my spine. Sometimes the audience would erupt with loud cheers.
The loudest was for a young fellow who stepped forward. He was a skinny, little thing. From behind his back, he produced the poi balls and started twirling them. The audience went wild with enthusiasm as this was normally done by the girls. He was singled out and congratulated by the female presenter. She was an actress who had appeared in the 'Whale Rider' film. I spotted the Maori leader from the film in the audience too.
The hall only seated 500 people. Later in the afternoon, the presenter appealed for people to leave. This would allow parents who were waiting outside to watch their children perform. Heart strings pulled we reluctantly left. It had been an afternoon well-spent.
Later in the afternoon, one of the school buses pulled in next to our camper. I was able to get a shot of them in costume. I was invited to join their photoshoot and had my nose rubbed several times ( a traditional greeting). They had not won but were in great spirits. They had a long journey home and waved as they left.
By now, night was falling so we thought another night in Thames was our best option. I cooked a meal, using some of our new and tasty vegetables. The van is feeling like home now. Nighty night x