Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Busy Years

Wide horizon, eager life,
Busy years of honest strife,
Ever seeking, ever founding,
Never ending, ever rounding,
Guarding tenderly the old,
Taking of the new glad hold,
Pure in purpose, bright in heart —
Thus we gain — at least a start!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I remember during the busy years often wishing for a day to myself.  A day to wake up when I was ready, not when somebody else’s calendar of events said I had to; a day when I could do as I pleased without having to consider anybody else.

Well now I have those days.  And usually I can fill them with activities always of my choosing.  But just occasionally, on a wet Sunday afternoon, at home with my little dog companion, I really miss those busy years.

Those were the years when my late husband was making his way in the world and we didn’t know how long we would be in any one place or where the next transfer would take us.  They were also the years when the children were growing up and making friends wherever we found ourselves.

They were the years when I had to come to terms with leaving old friends and starting again in a new country.  And they were the years when I was surrounded by love and a loving family.

I clearly remember dinner time.  Dinner had always to be on time as somebody had another place to be – Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, gym, ballet, rugby practice, netball practice, squash et al.  And so dinner of necessity, was always something that I could produce easily and that I knew would be met without groans at something new.  Now I have time to try out the new recipes but don’t do this often as it is not much fun cooking a great dish for one.  So my friends become guinea pigs.   I always make dinner for myself each night but it is again, the easy things that I know and can produce easily.

I remember trying to juggle getting children to different places often at the same time.  Easy when Father was home; not so easy when he was away.  And then they got their driving licences and so could drive themselves.

I remember the hustle and bustle of mornings.  Getting young children up and ready for school.  Then as they were older, getting them out of their beds (have you tried this with teenagers?)  in time for breakfast before they left the house. This routine didn’t change much in any of the three continents in which we lived.

In Scotland, the children were at nursery school so they were only there in the mornings and came home for lunch.  In New Zealand children take packed lunches to school.  That was new to me and so much debate with myself over what to put in the lunchboxes.  So making lunches had to be factored into the morning rush.

In Canada they came home for lunch and then back to New Zealand for packed lunches again.  Once the children were in senior school they could buy their lunches.  That was a godsend for me because by then I was working.

I had a very busy job initially as a secretary/PA but within two months I was promoted and had my own secretary and the responsibility for all the female staff in four offices.  A huge jump considering that I hadn’t worked for 13 years.

These were the years when I returned to the workforce; sat and completed the Real Estate examinations; finished a diploma course at University and raised my children; ran the house and generally enjoyed myself.

During those years, I never stopped to think that they would end one day and what would I do then.

The not so busy years were when the children had left home to go their own way.  these were the years of the so-called ’empty nest’ but I was so busy starting my own business and caring for my husband that I really didn’t suffer the ’empty nest syndrome’.

And then my husband decided to retire early and we moved again to an idyllic spot far away from most of civilisation.  This move only lasted a very short time before we moved back.  These were fantastic years.  We had each other and could afford to do the things we wanted.  We travelled to other parts of the world and saw places we had always wanted to see.  Both children met and married their partners and in turn produced children of their own.  And I thought this time would go on and on.

But it was not to be.  And as I have said, one awful day I was left on my own. As Charles Aznavour  sings ‘Yesterday when I was young ….the thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned..”

So now my wish for a day to myself has been granted.  And as I have said, I am usually very happy with my lot but sometimes I really miss those busy years.

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.”  John Burroughs, 1837 – 1921
American naturalist and essayist













Wet Saturday in West Sussex

We have had constant rain here both on Saturday and Sunday and I was taken back to a time when I was living in West Sussex acting as companion to my elderly friend.  Each year in this small village they have a village fete.  And it is fun but as I reported to my family in New Zealand…

Country lane

It couldn’t happen anywhere else in the world.  Saturday was the day of the village fete. After several days of glorious sunshine, Friday afternoon brought the rain and Saturday brought torrential rain. Were we deterred? Not a bit of it. We donned our raincoats and while my very elderly companion sat in her wheelchair under an umbrella, I pushed her over a very bumpy, uneven field and got soaked.  Everyone else was just as wet.

The stalls set out around the field were selling everything imaginable.  Books by the hundreds, crockery and china, fruit and produce, home-made cakes and biscuits, jams and pickles were all available to buy.

Home made cakeThe cake stall very quickly sold out.  There are never enough home-made cakes for sale.

There were slides and greasy poles for the children and a merry-go-round had been set up for the children but although the children were keen to ride the parents were not so keen.

Merry go round

Through it all a jazz band valiantly played and the tea tent did a roaring trade.

We subsequently heard that some people were buying clothes from the clothes stall just to have something dry to wear.  I must say we wondered at the way some people were dressed.  Nothing matched.  Strange summery hats in the rain; long overcoats dragging on the ground; clothes either to large or a little too small.  But it added to the fun and jollity.

The local lads and their fathers joined in a tug of war.  It was hard to see which was the red team and which the blue.  They were all covered in mud.  But they seemed to enjoy themselves and the little children were in their element in the mud that was stirred up by the two teams.

The sea scouts gave a demonstration but to a very small audience.  They did some marching and then went to a tent to show off their skills with knots.

DonkeyThe donkeys looked thoroughly despondent.  They were wet through and there was no shelter for them anywhere.  Nobody wanted a ride.  Well maybe some of the children did but the parents weren’t too keen.  But donkeys are very surefooted little animals and I think the children would have been quite safe.

And the folly of all – there is a high church tower from which you can apparently see for miles. They open this to the public on the day of the fete and make a charge.  Do you believe some foolhardy folks were going up the very winding stone stairs that I am told are very dangerous when dry, risking life and limb? And when they got to the top, there would have been little to see – drowned fields and very little else.

The actress Virginia McKenna opened the proceedings.  She was unbelievably cheerful and good-natured in the face of such a downpour.  We waited beside the tea tent to be introduced to her.

My friend has a friend in common with Ms McKenna and we were told we must make contact.  Here I must say that as soon as we had spoken with her we hotfooted it (or should that be hot wheeled it) home. My elderly friend went to bed in her robe with the electric blanket on and a ‘nice cup of tea.’ while I stripped off everything and had a shower. I was absolutely wet through to the skin.
Well, it makes a good story and we were later told that they raised almost five thousand pounds – imagine how well they would have done in the sunshine.  Sunday of course, dawned brightly. I am told that it is the first time for 20 years that it has rained and everybody was so very cheerful.  Maybe the next year would revert to the usual sunshine for the day.

Oh dear – It could only happen in England.














New shoes, red and pink and blue shoes

Age shouldn’t affect you. It’s just like the size of your shoes – they don’t determine how you live your life! You’re either marvellous or you’re boring, regardless of your age.  Steven Morrissey, English singer and lyricist. 1959

When I read today’s post from Susan at Coming East I immediately was transported back in time to those far distant days when getting new summer sandals was a treat.


We had sandals rather than sneakers.  But we also had plimsolls.  These were canvas topped shoes on rubber soles and only came in white.  At our school, where the school colours were brown and yellow (really!) the plimsolls had to be dyed brown for PE.   I don’t remember how this feat was achieved, but I do know that Mother had to perform this miracle for all three of her daughters on a regular basis.

White plimsollIn addition to the brown plimsolls, we were required to have a white pair for tennis.  So six pairs of plimsolls were bought in our house on a fairly regular basis.

Plimsolls (or plimsoles) apparently were developed as beachwear in the 1830s by the Liverpool Rubber Company later to be known as Dunlop Rubber.

This then brought me to my party piece.  I have always had a penchant for performing (or showing off as my sisters used to say) and reciting poetry was my chosen form of showing off.  I also had the ability to remember long verses of poetry and many and often were our relatives bored (aka entranced and delighted) with my recitations.

So here now is my favourite, Choosing Shoes by Frida Wolfe :

Pink shoes

“New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me, what would you choose,
If they’d let us buy?

ShoesBuckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let’s have some to try.

Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy-dance-by-night shoes,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes,
Like some? So would I.

Processed by: Helicon Filter;

BUT Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Stump-along-like-that shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes,
That’s the sort they’ll buy.”

Of course, the more I performed the more I added movement and voice changes/modulation to this poem.  And I still can be called upon to recite it in the company of good friends, when we have all had a couple of drinks.

And “Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world” Bette Midler

Red Shoes

“Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world” Bette Midler



“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.  Action has magic grace and power in it.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, German playwright poet, novelist and dramatist.

I have just discovered (or maybe rediscovered) an all-purpose wonder that has been lurking in my cupboard for a while.

Recently, a friend asked me to pick up 20 kgs of bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda) for her.  When asked what she was baking I was told it was for clearing the moss and algae off the driveway.  So I thought well I would give it a go.


Brushed on - now what?

Apparently all one does is brush it on the surface and then when it rains it does its magic.  Well it is supposed to rain tomorrow so I shall see if it works.

When I met my friend for lunch on Wednesday she reported that her driveway is now clear of moss and algae.

We then started to talk about all the other uses for this long forgotten miracle in the kitchen.  Did you know:

  • Cleaning Sinks Either place bicarbonate of soda directly onto a damp cloth or make up a paste of soda with a little water. Wipe around the sink & rinse well.
  • Blocked Drains Pour about 16 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda down the sink and then pour in about 120ml of white distilled vinegar. Put the plug in for a couple of minutes as the 2 chemicals will fizz. Rinse through with boiling water.
  • Oven Cleaner Dampen the floor of the oven, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda and dampen again. Leave the mixture overnight and then remove with a cloth. Rinse with hot water.
  • Fabric Conditioner To make your own fabric conditioner, mix equal quantities of water, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a storage bottle, take care as the vinegar & soda will fizz up. Add ¼ cup of conditioner to your wash.
  • Deodorizing  Drains  To freshen drains & help prevent blockages, pour a cup of bicarbonate of soda down the drain and then wash down with some boiling water.
  • Pet Odors To help freshen carpets, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on the carpet, leave for 10 minutes and then vacuum up.

And the list goes on.  I particularly liked the idea of a paste of bicarb to remove tea and coffee stains from cups.  As I drink both black tea and black coffee, my mugs regularly stain.  Until now I have used bleach to clean the stains away.  From now on I shall use my trusty new friend.


And I found out, again from the same friend, that it is good to brush bicarbonate of soda into a dog’s coat.  This apparently, removes all dead dander and makes the coat shine.  I haven’t managed to try this out yet.  Lotte has retired to bed after her walk and shows no interest in having her coat covered in white powder.

Having discovered this hidden wonder I then got out my very old and battered copy of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book.  This one was published in 1894 – wow 117 years ago!

Mrs Beeton's cookery book

1984 Edition - Cost One shilling

This little gem opens with:

“It is not given to us all to become famous, but in this busy world there are few who, metaphorically speaking ‘need waste their sweetness on the desert air’ or in less poetical language, lead a useless life.  Specially does this apply to women, whom though perhaps less gifted with brain power than the sterner sex, have yet a greater versatility of talent, and who, if they seek it, can always find a vocation.”

What do you have to say about that?

Then onto another gem.  “A Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium”.  This was published in 1957 and I remember purchasing this copy when somebody came around the office selling the book.  Mine looks as if it has had a hard life but I think that’s because when I was first married I didn’t know how to cook anything much more than an egg.

This little darling tells me:

“The money spent on food is the most important part of the household expenditure, and you will want to get the best possible value for your money.”  So what has changed in 54 years?  It goes on “It is obviously wise to deal with reliable tradespeople, so compare both quality and prices….bearing in mind that it is false economy to buy inferior goods to save a few pence.”

Then I picked up the book and it opened on page 393 – and the recipe was for stuffed mushrooms.  Well according to Shirley Conran author of Superwoman (among others) ‘Life’s too short to stuff mushrooms”  And if you are not old enough to know Shirley Conran she showed women of my generation that they didn’t have to be drudges (Dirt? Sweep it under the rug. Ironing? Hire someone to do it). Her book sales made her a millionaire. She survived a ‘humiliating’ marriage to design tycoon Sir Terence Conran  . And although Shirley Conran is, well, a bit dotty, she is still a force to be reckoned with.

Here endeth another rambling post.

“My idea of superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors.”  ~Bette Midler

And just because I like it here is a shot of my favorite red shoes

Today really is the first day of the rest of your life

“Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it.”
– Leo Buscaglia, 1924 – 1998, author, speaker, professor.

A few years ago, I had this fabulous Life Coach, Cari Vollmer.  Cari lives in Minneapolis and we still occasionally share emails.  Often one or other of us is bemoaning the weather we  currently have to endure.  And I am subscribed to her newsletter –

This comes from a recent newsletter :

“Judith, share yourself, your life and your gifts. Get out there. Create an environment (environment = anything you surround yourself with including people, places and things) that SUPPORTS your dream. Stop doing the things that don’t and start doing the things that do.”

Isn’t this great advice?  And isn’t it something we should all do?

So starting today I am surrounding myself with only those things that support my dream.

  • I am breaking free of the tribe as per Anne Hartley author of “Love the Life You Live”.   I have the luxury of choosing with whom I want to spend time and I am no longer prepared to tolerate “toxic” people.
  • I am spending time with people I enjoy and whose ethics and morals align with mine.
  • I am surrounding myself with things of beauty that I love including Lotte the Tibetan Spaniel and of course, my grandsons.
  • I have now got rid of the ugly grass patch at the front of the house and replaced it with a patio.  Watch this space.  This will become a tranquil place in which to unwind.
  • I have de-cluttered my life and given away many things that no longer fit my lifestyle.
  • I am volunteering my time rather than just giving money.  This is really a ‘feel good’ thing.
  • I am spending more time writing and even less time on chores.  If you know me you are quite correct in asking the question “Can you spend any less time on chores?”

So what will you do to support your dream, starting today?

“Opportunities come in many shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common; you have to take them when they appear.  Today, if you want to grab a big one you’ll be required to take a deep breath and elbow your way into the middle of things.  This may not be your usual style but isn’t this what you have been waiting for?”  Judith Baxter, Blogger, friend, life coach 1938 – 

Bottle of Champagne

Now the work begins

Whenever I have anybody doing work around the house I think of this song.

Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call.  The gas tap wouldn’t turn – I wasn’t getting gas at all.  He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main  and I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.”  Flanders and Swann

For the rest of this comic song and to get an idea of their quirky show,  click here.

This will be very short today as there is really not much to report.

Concrete truck

The concrete cometh

The contractors laid the aggregate on Monday afternoon.


Stage 2

They returned yesterday to put a finish on it and now I have an exposed aggregate patio.


Waiting for weeding and decorating

All it needs is for me to get out there and weed and plant and sow.  You do remember that old children’s song.  And although I now don’t have to mow I can’t get this song out of my head.

“One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow, one man and his dog named Spot, went to mow a meadow.
Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow, two men, one man and his dog named Spot, went to mow a meadow……”

Now you will have that earworm with you all day.  Sorry about that.

And while I ramble on about such inconsequential things as my patio, the people in Christchurch are living through another round of earthquakes and huge aftershocks.  I really should be posting about them and how we feel for them in their upheaval and danger.  We are told there have been 49 earthquakes around the greater Canterbury region in the last 24 hours with the largest being 6.3 on the Richter scale.  See a video of the impact of the quakes here.

We are used to seeing shots of war-torn cities in Afghanistan, Turkey, Libya but never thought to see anything like this in our own land.  And this is not anything that man has caused; this is nature showing us mortals its strength.















My Mother always said

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm”. Colette, Novelist and performer, 1873-1954

My Mother always said – “God looks after fools and drunks” I wonder what she would have said about this drunk man caught on tape.  Click here to see video uploaded by the Sun Newspaper in  the UK.

One has to wonder whether he is really drunk.  Look at the way he falls down those stairs and gets up and continues.

If he was really drunk, I wonder how he felt once he found that this tape had been broadcast to the world.

And fools abound.

Baldwin Street

Baldwin Street, Dunedin

Baldwin Street in Dunedin (in the South Island of New Zealand) is considered to be the steepest street in the world.  In March 2001 a 19-year-old University of Otago student was killed when she and another student attempted to travel down the street inside a wheelie bin. The bin collided with a parked trailer, killing one of the occupants instantly, and causing serious head injuries to the second.

Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel via Wikipedia

And we all know of the antics of this fellow.  “The 433 broken bones he suffered during his career earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime.” according to our friend Wikipedia.

But were either of these fools looked after by a higher being?  I leave it to you to decide for yourself.

And I know that I have done several foolish things in my life – what’s that you say, only several?  But they have never bordered on the dangerous as the people above have, including the drunk man.

Have you been involved in something foolish that could also have been dangerous?  Please share with us if you dare.

“A fellow who is always declaring that he’s no fool, usually has his suspicions.Wilson Mizner, 1876 – 1933,  American playwright, raconteur, and entrepreneur. .

No change today

“Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.”Plato, classical Greek philosopher and mathematician

and  “Well begun is half done.” Aristotle, Greek philosopher and student of Plato.

Ready for the paving

The sun is shining, there is no wind, the area has been cleared but where are the contractors?  I was full of excitement this morning when I saw the sun shining after a weekend of almost constant rain and wind.  Surely the contractors would be here bright and early to finish what they started on Friday.

But no sign of them yet.  With the rain over the weekend, the area that was cleared is showing a great abundance of sprouting weeds.  But I guess the paving just goes over the top of that – hmm?

On Saturday, in a frenzy of excitement that while the patio was not finished, it was at least started, I went to the local Garden Center to buy plants for the gardens to be made around the patio.

Garden Centre

Lotte quite likes going there and she is a great favourite among the staff.  She wanders around on her lead, of course, checking out what is new since the last time we were there.  Well, I think that’s what she is doing, maybe she is just checking out which other dogs have been there before her.

The choice of plants is amazing.  I wanted several plants for different reasons


Something that didn’t mind having its feet wet for the jardiniere.  There are no drainage holes in the jardiniere and so it fills with water as can be seen here.  This shot is not helped by the fact that no weeding has been done here for weeks. I settled on a Heucherella ‘Brass Lantern’.  I am assured by my trusty friend in the garden centre that this will thrive in my concrete pot.


Something to fill in the spaces left when all the old plants have been removed.   I thought the Hebes would do well there and my friend at the GC agreed.  Here they are in the box just dumped there on Saturday in the pouring rain.

I have lots of pots from my living in apartments with only balconies instead of gardens, so I needed some more plants to fill a couple of these.

Australian Radermachera

Radermachera Summerscent

This is an Australian evergreen which I am reliably informed will do very well in a pot, is drought and sun hardy and tolerant of shade and cold.  And as a bonus, it has highly scented flowers.  A perfect plant for me!

Acacia Fettucini

Acacia Fettucini

and this Acacia Fettucini will also look good once planted as it will droop over the side of the pot.  There was a very large specimen at the Garden Center not for sale.  I am hoping mine will spread and droop in the same way.  And I love the name.


Then I saw these little pots of instant colour and decided that is just what I need to brighten a winter garden so I bought ten.  They will look good and welcoming in smaller green pots on the steps to the front door.

Camellias in pots

Camellias in waiting

And finally, some decision will have to be made about the four camellias I bought and then had no place to put them.  They have languished in pots at the front fence for months.  Finding a place for them in this very small garden will be a challenge.

So whether or not the contractors arrive this afternoon, I shall be busy and I shall start with my instant colour pots.  I do wish I could paint as they are the prettiest little darlings.  Blue tending towards purple with little yellow smiling centres.  This will be a lovely way to spend a cold, but sunny afternoon in Winter.

I found this quote from Abram L Urban in one of my books of quotations but cannot find anything about him.  Do you know of this writer?  I should be very pleased to have something to add to this quotation.

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful”


Concrete truck

The concrete cometh

It’s now 12.30pm and just as I was about to stop for lunch, the contractors arrived followed shortly by the concrete man.  So the patio will be worked on this afternoon and I am told they will be back to put the finish on it tomorrow.

So watch this space.















SOLD to the young lady in the third row

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping”   Bo Derek, American actress and model, 1956 –

Would you like a Hermes handbag?  Preferably a Birkin crocodile or even a Grace Kelly crocodile bag?  Well, sorry ladies, Hermes has a waiting list of five years – yes five years.  So put your name down now if you want one.Birkin Crocodile Handbag

But there is a way to gain instant gratification.  Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s in London auctioned some of these designer must have pieces last year.

The Hermes Birkin has a unique history, as it was named for Jane Birkin. She is a British singer and actress who absolutely adored her version of the Hermes handbag, called the Kelly (named for Grace Kelly).  Apparently,  while on a flight from Paris to London, her bag opened, spilling the contents onto the floor of the plane. The then CEO of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas was on the same plane and talked with Jane Birkin about what she really wanted in a bag.  The designers got to work and Dumas presented Birkin with a trademark Hermes handbag that has become one of the most sought-after bags in the entire world.

So back to the auctions.  On May 24 this year, Vogue reported “Here’s a great opportunity to seize: if you dream about owning an Hermès Kelly or a Birkin but you don’t have the patience to wait in the list (it lasts for years…) of the French maison, here’s the solution. Tomorrow Christie’s in London will put up for auction a good 78 Hermès bags, among which are  Kellys and Birkins.

The prices start from about the 3-4 thousand pounds that it usually takes to buy the well-known bag made famous in the Fifties by Grace Kelly, to the around 30,000 pounds for a Birkin in crocodile. There are many colours offered, from red to caramel colour, to pink to emerald green, two or more shades. The same goes for the different kinds of leathers, from ostrich to crocodile; different qualities that you can admire closely at the Hermès website, even making the page your own screensaver.

Among the oldest bags to be sold tomorrow, there is a Kelly that dates back to the early Sixties. Created in brown using leather from the Alligator Mississippiensis, it’s put to auction at an estimated price of 7,000-8,000 pounds. From the same decade there is also one of the few bags that is neither a Birkin nor a Kelly. It’s a Sac Mallette in black crocodile with an inside pocket to carry jewels, covered in burgundy velvet, marked with the initials E.M., estimated at around 8,000-10,000 pounds.”

I later found an item in a London paper that reported the following sale:

And this little bit to titillate your green-eyed monster (perhaps)

“Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham, has over 100 Hermes bags. These bags are valued at over two million dollars. While many women don’t have quite this many, there are several other celebrities that have a dozen or so in their wardrobes. The Hermes handbag is so well-known that when Lindsay Lohan recently had hers stolen at an airport, it actually made the news.”

So get out your chequebooks there is a bag with your name on it out there.  But mine is more likely to come from Oroton.  But I do own a prized Louis Vuitton purse bought for me in Paris by the son of a friend.  He gave it to me as a thank you for being kind to his mother.

Louis Vuitton Purse
It is particularly prized because both he and his mother are now dead and this is a constant memory of them both.

I think this quote is apt on this subject.  It is of course, from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest:

Lady Bracknell: Mr. Worthing. I must confess that I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?

Leaving on a Jet Plane

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes.
A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.  And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.  ~
Richard Bach, American writer, 1936 –

When I read monicastangledweb today, for the first time I put myself in my parents’ shoes when first one daughter left for the United States and several years later their second daughter left for New Zealand.  Luckily they had one daughter who stayed in London with her family.

When my sister left for the States we had no idea when we would see her again.  This was way back in 1961 and people didn’t just jump on planes at the drop of a hat – the expense was no doubt the main reason for this.  Luckily my husband was given tickets for the inaugural flight by Pan American Airlines over the pole so my children and I did get to visit my sister once.  And of course, I have seen her many times since.

My dashing young Scotsman and I had moved to Scotland shortly after our daughter was born so my parents were used to us being away from them.  But we were only 400 miles away and easily reached by car or train – and very occasionally, when an emergency arose, by plane.  Then a second child, our son, was born and the visits continued.

But one day in 1967 my husband came home and asked if I would like to live in Auckland.  I had never heard of Auckland and seriously thought he meant Oakland which in turn meant I could see my sister more often.  She lived and still lives in Los Angeles.  These hopes were dashed when he explained that Auckland was in New Zealand and he was being transferred for 2 years to this far-flung part of the Commonwealth.  In fact, when my father heard that we were moving to New Zealand his response was “But darling, that’s the colonies”.  We were very proud of being English.

The date was set.  The dashing Scotsman took off for HO in New York and I was left to follow with two children, having first sold the house, car and boat and arranged for the furniture and the dog to be shipped to Auckland.  To be fair all these were in place before he left but the onus was on me to see that all was settled.

The children and I had a week or so in London with my parents and then the day arrived.  We all trooped out to Heathrow.  I had to contend with two children but only one passport as they travelled on mine.


The airport and air travel were very different to now.  There were only two terminals at Heathrow and no long queues to check in and certainly no security measures.

Full of excitement, the children and I boarded the plane with little thought of the feelings of those left behind.  We did promise that we would be back in 2 years and if the transfer was extended then we also were promised trips home every two years.

I cannot imagine what my parents’ thoughts and feelings were as they saw their second daughter fly off into the unknown.

Wild west town

Auckland in my imagination

New Zealand was a foreign country to us.  We didn’t learn about it at school although I now know that New Zealand children were taught about England at school.  I imagined that some of the 3million plus sheep would be wandering down the main street of Auckland to meet us, and in all, in spite of the literature given to us by New Zealand House in London, my impression was that we were going to a wild west type of life.

On arriving here we found it was not as wild as we had imagined.  No sheep wandering down Queen Street (the main thoroughfare in Auckland), the natives were friendly and what’s more, they spoke our language.

Queen Street, 1967

Queen Street, Auckland 1967

We did find some of the customs strange.  Late night shopping on Friday until 10pm and then absolutely everything shut down until Monday morning.  Bread could be purchased at the local store but no clothes or shoe shops, hairdressers or other shops were open.  All very strange to this newcomer.

Another thing that was very odd was that the licensing laws had every pub closing at 6pm.  Apparently, most men would leave their offices at 5pm to dash to the nearest pub to get a drink or two or three, before closing time.  This changed shortly after we arrived but it was apparently well established.

“1967 The end of the ‘six o’clock swill’

Six p.m. closing for pubs was introduced as a ‘temporary’ wartime measure in December 1917. It was made permanent the following year, ushering in what became know as the ‘six o’clock swill’, as patrons aimed to get their fill before closing time….

A mood for change began to emerge in the 1960s. The growing restaurant industry questioned laws that made it difficult to sell alcohol with meals. People socialising at the local sports club or RSA also sought a change to opening hours. As the number of tourists to New Zealand increased following the arrival of jet air travel, six o’clock closing was increasingly seen as an outdated concept. In 1966 the Licensing Control Commission stated that a uniform law for hours of sale in all places was ‘neither equitable, enforceable nor in the public interest’.

When a second national referendum was held in late September 1967, nearly 64% of voters supported a return to ten o’clock closing. The government wasted little time in acknowledging the result and the new hours were introduced on 9 October.”  From NZ History on Line.

The proximity of the beaches, easy, laid-back way of living and all being together made up for any strange things we had to put up with and we all thrived in this new land.

But while I was enjoying my new life, what were my parents thinking?  Did they think that though we promised otherwise, they might never see us again?  Did they think we would forget them?  I know they wished us well but I now wish, when it’s too late of course, that I had discussed this with them.  Missed opportunities..

And today June 11 is the 44th anniversary of the day the children and I first arrived in New Zealand.  We have left it for a time, as a family and the children separately and me for a time after Robert died, but we have all returned and claim New Zealand as home.

NZ flag

“If I should die think only this of me: that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.  There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed;  A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware; gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam.  A body of England’s, breathing English air, washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home” Rupert Brooke.