Last year we had been invited by our friends John and Gaylene to join them and others for an informal get together known as the 5th Wheel Shuffle. A loose collection of people who have a common interest in playing or performing music. We didn’t make it last year as I had a really heavy cold. So when the invitation was again extended this year (prior to the second lockdown) we accepted hoping that I wouldn’t be unwell from the chemo this year. Making excuses two years in a row probably wouldn’t go down well.
Thankfully that dreaded feeling from the chemo had passed allowing us to escape Auckland and head south. We had spent Friday exploring Hobbiton not wanting to turn up at the venue too early. This year like last the event was being held at the Timber Museum in Putaruru. For those that don’t know it, it’s just out of town heading south on SH1.
Although it has the sign out the front as a Park Over Property it’s actually not in the NZMCA directory or on the App. You can stay here at $10 per night per van with plenty of space to stretch out on the large grassed area. Although we were a little concerned about becoming stuck as it had been very wet making the ground soft in places. That didn’t happen to us but one camper had to be helped out of a spot after they tried to maneuver through a dip in the ground. Seven or eight of us put our backs into it and pushed them out.
With 20 or so, other vans there for the weekend, most of whom had arrived earlier than us. We found ourselves a park overlooking the farm and gully below and hopefully far enough away from SH1 to sleep through the night. It’s another of those places that you have probably driven past many times thinking one day I must stop there and have a look.
After getting the motorhome settled we wandered to the hall to find our friends limbering up their vocal cords ahead of the festivities. Although we have stayed alongside them many times we haven’t ever heard them perform as they tend not to sing or play in a camp situation. Gaylene and John also have an extensive Karaoke set that they set up here, containing a massive songbook. They have in the past also been at many NZMCA events so you may even recognise them.
We set off for a wander around the museum grounds. At the rear of the buildings, they have a number of pieces of machinery that are sadly looking rather neglected. I realise that it must be difficult to house and maintain such large beasts as these. I wonder what can be done to stop them from just rusting away. You would imagine that even with a large injection of capital to provide buildings it would still need a dedicated team to try and restore these beasts.
The plan for both Friday and Saturday nights were very similar. Have those who want to play do so followed by Karaoke for those who had the voice. Or those who had drunk sufficient that they felt they could keep a tune. It was very pleasant sitting there being able to listen without the music being so loud that you had to shout at each other to be heard. It was good to see that a lady who had come along on her own, for the first time at an event like this was brave enough to bash out a few songs. The festivities finished around 11pm on Friday night not that we were still up.
Instead, I was trying to use my pillow to drown out the sounds coming from SH1 as what seemed like a never-ending stream of trucks thundered past the museum. To add to that the train line runs past on the other side of the road creating its own special rumble. To say that sleep was elusive would be a small understatement.
We woke the following morning (assuming I actually did get some sleep) to very heavy fog. The wonderful view that yesterday had stretched over the farmland below us had been swallowed up. They do say that a fine day follows the fog and so it was on this day. As it slowly lifted, campers started to appear from their motorhomes. Either socialising or wandering around the museum for a look. I took advantage of the power in the hall to write our blog about our visit to the Firth Tower in Matamata.
It also provided a quiet time for Sarah to check the mails at home and check up on the latest news. All this before the crowds started to wander back into the hall to warm up their vocal cords for the night ahead.
With the news caught up, it was time for another explore of the museum. Which offers all sorts of fascinating insights into the timber industry in New Zealand. We also managed to find the kitchen where that night’s meal was to be prepared. A Hangi that was steamed above ground, rather than buried as is traditional.
Mid-afternoon it was time for the gifting of the secret Santa presents. Each person attending had purchased a gift of no more than $10 in value. Gifts had to be labelled for either sex or gender non-specific. The two “present fairies” called everyone up to pick a number and then as your number was called, you could make your way to the table and select a present. I thought that this would all be over fairly quickly. What I didn’t know was the surprise element to the gift-giving. Once you had selected your present and unwrapped it in front of everyone you could then chose to keep it or swap it.
Swap it? You might ask. Well here is where it gets interesting you can choose to swap it for any other present that had already been unwrapped. Each person was required to keep their present on display on top of the table. Some more popular gifts, such as scorched almonds, a can of CRC, a box of chocolate liquors, and a couple of bottles of wine, were swapped multiple times. Others like the unfortunate person who ended up with a tin of baked beans (after a swap) had no chance of their present being claimed by someone else. Much hilarity ensued, and it was a great lead into the Hangi.
Not forgetting of, course that the main reason for the weekend was the music. A chance for a very informal group of musicians to get together and perform. Not even so much for a crowd, since there were only around 50 of us, but for themselves. So if you can see yourself getting in-front of a group of like-minded people and belting out a few numbers maybe check out the group’s Facebook page. Membership is open to all who have an interest in this.
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To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can then click the link to read the blog about that area.
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