Wheel alignment

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A lovely afternoon on the road

As regular readers will know, Jennie and I take turns to organise annual vacations to celebrate our wedding anniversary, keeping the destination a secret from each other for as long as possible - sometimes as late as the airport check-in desk which has led to the odd bit of merriment  for one party and consternation for the other!  Anyway, next year is our 40th anniversary, it's my turn and as procrastination is my middle name on these matters; I decided pull finger for a change and do a bit of early research on destinations.  Having got as far as possible without expert advice, it was time to visit the nearest travel agent some 40 minutes from home.

Going on the bike was a perfect way of stopping the CEO inviting herself along, so with a "Going out for a practice run Honey", I was off to Whitianga!  Actually, there was another errand I was keen to knock off too and it involved this:

Spare Street Triple key

Y'see, I'm down to my last Street Triple key.  Lord knows where they go, but I'm blaming the Automotive Key Elves which are cousins of the Spectacles Elves, both of which live just out of sight in our house and come out at night to wreak havoc when we're asleep. Their malign influence would warrant a tale on its own, but back to the present.....

For some unfathomable reason, the Triumph spare key is a stunted affair without a handle to get a decent grip on.  Trying to grip the ring through thick gloves to turn the ignition on whilst very bad words hang in the air is an everyday occurrence and my patience finally snapped last week.  My friendly Triumph dealer mailed me a Triumph blank to get cut locally.  In my humble opinion, it was outrageously expensive even with no security chip and I shudder to think what a Ducati or MV blank would have cost.  The phrase "Got you by the short and curlies" comes to mind.  There's no key-cutting service in our village that I know of so first stop was at a Mitre 10 hardware store which we've used before for house key spares.  My heart sank when the lady said "That's a double-edged left-hand double DNA helix whatchamacallit".  Actually, she didn't say that at all but it was something similar which meant that for some reason, she wasn't game to have a go despite their profiling machine looking pretty high tech.  She was, however, anxious to help out and told me about a "real" locksmith who had a business in the next block.

Pulling up outside, I just knew that I was going to love the place!  A converted home called Arlingham House with lavender bushes, a nice covered porch and glimpses of old clocks through the open door and windows - WOW, hints of an old-time craftsman!  Here we are:

Arlingham House, complete with 1954 Dodge outside

There was an elderly gentleman sitting in a cane chair on the porch.  He told me that the owner was away at lunch and he was just minding the place for him.  Would I like to join him and wait?  I would indeed and sat in the other cane chair to chew the fat with him.  Turns out that he was the owner of the beautifully-restored Dodge saloon outside and had a classic British Ford at home too, both of them getting regular use and I listened to great tales of his trips in them.  Now isn't that light years better than going to a modern hardware store and just doing the business?  Simply no comparison!

 View from outside down to the beautiful harbour

Lovely entrance to the premises

After 15 minutes or so, the business owner showed up and was only marginally younger than his "minder".  Another absolute delight who had a 20 year old mind trapped inside an older body.  It was certainly no effort for him to cut the blank in a matter of seconds.  I didn't actually see him cutting the key as I was too busy gawping at the treasure trove of stuff inside.  He graciously allowed me to take some photos which I'll share with you.....

Clocks and barometers of every shape and size
stuffed everywhere

Turns out that he sold clocks and barometers too and also did some restoration - what a joy to behold!  He also had photos hanging on the walls from the gold rush and kauri tree logging days from NZ's history in the 1800's.

A gallery of social history

When he'd cut my key (the insanely low price of NZ$3), he asked me whether I'd like another "decent" spare with a handle as he thought he had a blank somewhere from aeons ago which might do the job.  I simply couldn't resist taking the next photo as he grovelled among the thousands of boxes looking for it! Amazingly, he found it inside a minute and moments later, I had another key at 1/3 the price of the one with the Triumph logo on!

 "Now I remember seeing a suitable key about 30 years ago...."

I was really sorry to leave these 2 delightful gentlemen and sincerely thanked them for making my day (making my week more like...) - don't encounters like this lift the soul?

After that, it was round to the travel agent and what might be described as a very productive meeting but that's all I'm going to say for now.  Jennie doesn't read this blog but to spill the beans right now would be tempting fate!

Heading back on the coast road between Whitianga and Coromandel, some dark clouds due to afternoon heat build-up were forming and the chances were that I was going to get rained on at some stage.  No worries though as I was wearing Gore-Tex rather than leather.

Uh-oh...  a heavy dump coming this way!

Not much nicer in the other direction either

I did indeed get rained on for a wee while but it didn't even come close to wiping the grin off my face.  An anniversary trip largely sorted, spare keys cut and what a wonderful way to get them made AND a genuine bit of practice for my next IAM test.  Unplanned events like these really don't get much better, do they?


  1. Geoff:

    amazing you would find a craftsman so close to you, and the same age too. he could be your 'brother from a different mother.'. I like the idea of a key without a handle as a spare. I mean how do you lose your keys at home ? don't you put them back in their usual place ?

    I love to look at old photos too. His store looks like a neat place, with so much stock, and obviously he knows where everything is.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  2. Bob, oh Bob.....

    Same age??? You sure know how to win friends ;-)

    I told you, it's the Key Elves - nothing to do with me!!! The remote key for the Toyota RAV is currently missing too. I'll have to leave out a box of chocolates as an offering.

    Yep, I'd love to go back and poke around his place some more.

  3. Great photos Geoff...looks like a great day out (and what day on a motorcycle isn't :) )

    I have Key Elves at my place too.....except they don't hide the keys in the house, they go and put them in the bike's ignition and leave them there overnight so that they are ready for me to go to work in the morning :) .....after tearing the place apart looking for them!

  4. Anthony:

    They're sneaky little suckers, aren't they? I am, however drawing some comfort that they're not just after me. The Spectacles Elves took my last set of specs on a permanent basis. $900 later....

  5. They always nick your specs first making the finding of your keys an impossibility!
    One of those two keys hanging outside his front door might be more suited to you.....

  6. What an awesome day. I am glad you got the ball rolling on the anniversary trip. It never hurts to do a little preplanning.

    And what a great find with the Arlingham House. I bet I know where you shall go directly the next time you need a key cut. It is amazing to think that in all those little boxes he knew exactly where to find a blank that would work. It made me smile and I wasn't even there.

  7. The missing keys are with the single socks that disappear from the pair and are never seen again.

    How cool to find treasure in unexpected places!

  8. Dylan:
    How true! I spend half my life looking for specs that simply teleport to another location. The fact that they're frameless doesn't help either!

  9. Trobairitz:
    I know what's good for me - have already been told that #40 can be considered "special", so there's a strong implication not to muck it up!

    I will indeed return to Arlingham house. Simply shooting the breeze there for a few minutes is reason enough!

    So you have Sock Elves too! My sock draw has multiple single socks but I'm of an age where I don't care if they don't match. Family and other people probably think I'm going ga-ga and they could well be right :-)

  10. Never mind the keys or the cute "back to the future" scene. I LOVE the anniversary trip arrangement you guys have!!! Gonna try it this year. Since I'm usually the one doing the planning, my honey's in for a bit of trouble - hehe.

    Btw, I did love the story. I like it when I run across unexpected bonuses like that.

  11. Geoff:

    I have mainly solved the sock elf problem. I buy a quantity of the same boring black socks at once. All the same, same brand, same style, same size, same . . . when any go missing, no problem, they all match.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  12. Hello again Irene!
    Many thanks. We've been doing it since our 10th anniversary. It was pretty modest when we first started when the kids were young and we had a mortgage - a nice hotel and dinner for a couple of nights not too far from home. The last trip was nearly 3 weeks in Thailand. You can do that when the kids are off your hands!!!

    Good luck with putting the hard word on hubby!

    I still have a stash of black socks from my business days and it doesn't really matter if the pattern is a bit out. However, the sock drawer doesn't get visited a lot these days what with retirement and generally pleasant temperatures for much of the year!

  13. Forty years eh? Many early congrats and good luck with finding somewhere suitable to go to. I had to laugh about you losing bike keys, as I did the same thing on my USA trip last year, when I lost two sets inside the first week. Loved the tale of the two gentlemen, the car and the key cutting - the world needs more people like them.

  14. Cheers Gary!

    I think my CEO will like where I have in mind. Jennie has always wanted to see one of the things I'm trying to tee up (a whale shark - now there's a partial clue!) She's also off on a Mediterranean cruise with a mate of hers next year as neither her mate's partner nor I wanted to go. The only thing is that the cruise starts in Barcelona and I would have loved to have seen Gaudi's architecture.

    Yes, isn't it lovely to meet those sorts of characters? The person I really want to meet is an elderly recluse in the south island who has some unrestored WW2 warplanes on his property in a massive shed, including a Mosquito, a P40 Warhawk and other rare stuff.

  15. So how do you pack a suitcase for a surprise trip? Do you follow the planner's lead by letting them pack first? As the planner, start off packing shorts and t-shirts then finish with sweaters, gloves and knit caps to keep the significant other guessing.

    What great fun!

  16. Hi Troubadour!
    Well, we both lie our heads off to each other in the preceding months simply to stir each other up.

    A couple of weeks before the trip, all the planner tells the other party is "pack light" or "stick a few warmer things in" and that's it apart from the length of time away! We both figure that we can buy a few appropriate clothes at the other end if we stuff it up badly.

    One year, Jennie threatened to stick a pencil in my eye if I didn't give her more info, hehe. I think women are more concerned about their appearance than guys :-).

  17. Great stuff Geoff. That store front really does telegraph the pride the owner takes in his business.

    I'm having withdrawal symptoms from not being able to ride in recent weeks due to wet and blustery Spring weather, but I'm hoping to scratch that itch this weekend.

    Cheers Jules.

  18. Gidday Jules!
    Sure does and what a thrill to find both the place and those guys! Actually, I'm picking that the owner has no need to work at his age, it's just a labour of love for him. Old school artisan!

    Sympathise with you mate - yesterday was the first day since last weekend without significant rain for us! Good luck for the weekend.

    By the way, the reason I visited the travel agent yesterday was because I had a lovely, detailed set of notes from Ray the previous day which sealed the destination! Thanks again for the introduction!

  19. Geoff, The day you have just desribed are one of they joys of biking, often they can not be put into words but as always you have managed to do so exceptionally well.

    Well done on hitting forty years. no mean feet is this day and age. the love you have for jenny is obvious to all that know you. Bless you my friend and may you have atleast forty more.

  20. Rog:
    I think Gary got it right when he said that we needed more people like those two guys I met then we'd all smile a lot more! Might be doing part of the Loop tomorrow as Andy is apparently doing it with a couple of guys he knows with Multistradas.

    Thank you for the kind words. Jennie has a lot to put up with and I appreciate it! She wants a tee shirt with "My next husband is going to be normal" written on it!!! Well really.....

  21. Elves? Be real, man. You have to see a keyologist. If this desease goes untreated it will worsen, and soon you wouldn't find anything anymore ;-)
    The key-guy is one of the few left-overs surviving globalization. Good to hear those rare people still exist.
    The beach pictures are awesome, nice (but threatening looking) colours.

  22. Hi Sonja!

    Hahaha - this sounds like the treatment is going to be unpleasant, involving cold baths and castor oil!

    I reckon that there's a niche for people like the locksmith who go the extra mile for their customers and the world is indeed a better place for them being here.

  23. A lovely story, Dad, you'll have to take me to that locksmith when I'm up at Christmas.

    A hello to the rest of you that regularly follow the Father's blog. There may well be elves in our house (I'm thinking Annie might be playing tricks), but as I grew up with this dear man, I also know about the increasing number of "moments"... eh, Dad?

  24. Hey Sweetheart - what a lovely surprise... your first visit!

    Sigh... endearing as ever I see ;-). The "moments" you refer to, really are elves, honestly! They won't like your lack of belief one little bit!

    Good fellow bloggers and friends, this is our daughter Victoria who thinks she's been able to press all my buttons since she came into the world. We all know it's not true, don't we???

  25. Geoff:

    Victoria uses Canadian words just like a Canadian, right . . . eh, Dad ?

    and she doesn't have a strong accent like you. She is really doubting the existance of the key elf, and the sock elf, and the red shorts elf, isn't she ?

    Riding the Wet Coast

  26. Bob:
    Canadians and Kiwis have an awful lot in common!

    She's a psychologist by profession. She may very well believe in elves, but really enjoys messing with what's left of her father's mind :-)

  27. I love the grandfather clocks. What a cool little shop! Classic - love all the boxes and clutter...sign of a true artist :)

  28. Thanks Kari!
    And you know what? I still come over all warm and smiley thinking about that afternoon - a real tonic for anyone!

  29. You have key elves in NZ too? I suppose they would be Key Wee Elves *runs*.

  30. Sue:
    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!!! Hehehe - Sunday morning, very early for you. Got to be impressed with you girl - you must have avoided destroying too many brain cells last night. Maybe it's relief that end of term isn't too far off!

    Keep taking the tablets...... :-)

  31. I would be sick if I lost my keys. I only have one spare for the "R" bike. And my keys have the secret decoder in them. I'm expecting to pay $200 if I ever have to replace mine. Fingers crossed that never happens.

    I love the little shop. Those are my types of places.

  32. Lori:
    I really need a spare key for my RAV 4. The ordinary one with the chip in it is the same price as yours. The one the key elves made off with with the built in remote is apparently 4 times that price. Owwwwww........


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