|New Chums beach on the Coromandel peninsula (and below)|
|Where I learned to sail - Kawau Bay|
|My mother (right) and her sister Bevie (left) at Joy and Barrie's party|
It was another perfect summer day and we were on our way to a lunch party at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. My close and extended family would be there, plus old friends of my parents and their middle-aged children, people for whom I will always be Diana Mary, Michael and Audrey's daughter. I've been meeting this crowd pretty regularly over the past few years in churchyards and at wakes. This time, for a change, we were gathering to toast the living, those inveterate party animals Joy (mum's sister) and Barrie who were married 60 years ago. "She told me she married me for better or for worse, but not for lunch," quipped my uncle who, at 86, still goes to his law office every morning. Joy was wearing big new diamonds.
|Joy's new diamonds|
|How many dinners have I enjoyed at this table?|
New Zealanders are great wanderers of the world, but many of us who leave as young adults eventually come back, especially when children are born. "The best country in the world to raise kids" we were always told, and who am I to argue? My children were born in Australia, and I ended up staying there. Not by choice originally, but in time I adapted to living as an outsider. Now it seems to suit me, and it's only when I come back to Auckland that I am struck again by how tightly and intricately people's lives become knotted together when they take root and grow in undisturbed soil.
|Bridget, Robyn and me at Whangapoua|
|Digging for potatoes in mum's garden|
|My goddaughter Frances and Bridget|
|Chilled out barrister|
I love to make connections when I'm here, to join the dots, catch up on the village news. My oldest and dearest friends live in Auckland or nearby, so do my siblings and most of their children. I am known here in a way that's impossible anywhere else. But what's home? That's a difficult one, Mum. It always will be, I suspect.
|Alex in the hayshed|
|Nancy and Martin's thirsty hills|
February has been dry, very dry. We had a short spell of rain on arrival, but since then each week has been an uninterrupted chain of golden days. In New Zealand you're never far from the country, even if you live in town. Everyone knows the farmers are desperate for a good downpour. Because my mother lives on a farm (in their retirement, my parents shifted from the city to grow trees, a move as radical as going to sea for a few years, I reckon) for now we're more into precipitation than wind forecasts. That'll change once we are back on Enki (and I'm missing the people who know me).
Speaking of the sea, we've just learned that our friends Mike and Alisa, and their small boys Eric and Elias have crossed safely from Hobart to Bluff, at the very bottom of the South Island, in their steel yacht Galactic. Hooray! The Tasman is a notoriously horrible piece of water and the best place to see it, I've always thought, is from shore. Mike's blog Twice in a Lifetime might change my mind. He's such a fine writer, and even if you have no interest in ocean swells, I'm recommending you check it out.