stf_9361A rather later departure than I at least had in mind. Both of us have had to cull the amount of clothes we are taking so we will plan on regular laundrettes.

Noon found us at Pirongia on the unofficial Hamilton bypass. A bakery pie was most welcome as were the Pirongia loos, always clean these.

Apart from having to make frequent stops for coffee, Neurofen and fuel the journey was happily uneventful, finally arriving in Palmerston North around 6:30.

Jasmines' Thai Restaurant has replaced the Rivers II cafe in Taramanui and is not an improvement. The coffee is now instant and the cake was stale. This is a problem as Taramanui has always been short on good cafes and a long way from anywhere else. We'll see what we can find on the way home but take a tip and bypass Jasmine.

img_9368Palmerston North's Arena motel is well appointed and mine host (Brett) very helpful. Not the cheapest place we've ever stayed but it's 10 minutes from the centre of town so it pushes all the buttons. Now all that has to happen is for the drummer out back to finish practicing and all will be well.

Clearly parts of Palmerston N have fallen on hard times and there are empty shops and other signs of depression. It's a work as the city has a reputation for rural affluence which may once have been deserved.

News from home is that it's raining in Pukekohe which is surprising as it's been a splendid day albeit a bit cool around the mountains.

Dinner at Bellas (www.bellas.co.nz) was exquisite, hard to recommend highly enough. Alistair has done a great job and the menu is short but excellent. We would recommend it without hesitation.

The room looks like a bomb hit it, how we'll ever get our kit back onto the bikes is beyond me.