Monday, 17 March 2014

The precious stuff

Apologies for the disruption to blog services. We've been - and remain - seriously distracted by events taking place outside the main arena.

Lots to talk about with Pops

Freddy on the grill, Mike on the phone

Family lunch on the rooftop at Sam and Madi's place

Never a dull moment with Barb
Lunch on Ponsonby Road with Bridget

Family and Friends Inc. I used to think I had this part of life pretty well sorted, but one thing you should never forget about people, even people you've known forever, is that they're dynamic. And I'm not just talking about the young ones. Alex and I often ask ourselves how we managed to stay upright - emotionally, that is - before we took to the water. Perhaps we didn't. Or perhaps these things become way more difficult when you're out of practice.

Puds and her builder Greg consider the spaces at her new house

In New Zealand, we concentrated our attention on my mother who is counting down the days until she moves off the farm and into a smaller house on Orewa beach.  Her retirement home, so-called. It's a big step for her, but one of her choosing. That's the critical point when you start to see old age looming down on you, isn't it? Get out before something or someone takes you out.

Puds on her kitchen phone

Moving along some of the family crystal

Last lunch at the outside table

Nod comes to clear out Dad's workbench and tools

The final visit to Dad's grave under the kauri tree

The farm looked more beautiful than ever as we said our final goodbye. The olive trees are groaning - the harvest should be a bumper one; there's a cygnet on the dam which has survived the combined killing force of ferrets, stoats and hawks which perennially take all the swans' offspring; the hens are laying better than ever; around the house, the quince tree is laden and the old-fashioned roses are making a strong finish; down in the natives (as we call the gully which mum and dad planted 25 years ago with thousands of New Zealand native plants) there's a big rusty-orange stain all over the kaihikatea trees. Berries galore. Good tucker for the birds.

My parents brought this place into being in the time it took for my children to grow from babies to young adults. Different projects for different times of life, I guess, but what an achievement theirs has been.

The new owner Ross is a former dairy man from the Waikato region. His trucks and sundry farm machinery are already parked behind the barn. His time begins soon.

Ross's truck in waiting

In winter, it all turns to mud - you've got to like mud to be a farmer

Your head is bigger than mine, Kaspar

A long dry summer for birds and beasts

The swans' feeding station by the dam

Sole survivor of the nest of 2014

The path through the natives

Kaihikatea berries in abundance

Galactic on the hard in Whangarei
Our three plus weeks in New Zealand are already a blur. We left 24 hours before a tropical cyclone bore down the North Island Our friends on Galactic chose that particular weather window to re-launch after a long month in the boatyard. Only a tiny sub-set of sailors rub their hands with glee to be back in the water with a tropical cyclone on the radar. Galactic is hard-core. If you haven't been keeping up with their adventures, here's a reminder to do so. Mike and Alisa and their junior crew Elias and Eric are heading up to French Polynesia soon and from there to Patagonia. Enki doesn't do cold-climate sailing (or at least not by choice), so we caught up with them in Whangarei, and again at the beach. I imagine Elias will be talking about the big snapper he reeled in off the back of Andy's fizz boat for a quite a while.

Elias ready to go fishing with Andy

Alisa and Elias show off his fish to their best advantage

Elias discovers the taste of feijoas - his big fish is in foil
Eating someone else's fish - Galactic crew in Whangarei

In Sydney again, for better and, it now seems, perhaps for worse. News last night of a shocking cycling accident involving our friends Tony and Gillian. We are holding them in the front of our minds.

Gillian and Tony at our place on Friday 14 March

Whenever we're asked about our cruising plans for the next few years, we preface our reply with the phrase "given that our health holds up and everyone important to us keeps ticking along nicely with their lives..." It's a lot to ask, isn't it? Lives don't really tick along. They lurch and roll and get blown about by gales and you're very lucky if you get a run of idyllic conditions, such as we've enjoyed these past couple of years on Enki. You tell yourself, it can't last. But don't we all want to believe that it will?

Mike, Dave and Louis

Pops and Madi
Pauline and Louis

Birthday dinner with Sam, Pops and Fred
Look at these "kids" of ours. Fine specimens, all of them, in their physical prime. Life seems long when you're in your twenties and early thirties. I turned 57 yesterday. If I could go backwards, I'd start again at 27. Sam is that age now, just hitting his stride. Great to watch. But why not rewind to six weeks old and start all over with Louis?

He's a restless little chap, but yesterday he snuggled against his grandpa's chest for a solid hour or so. Seizing the moment, I guess. You can't start too early doing that.

Getting cosy

Hanging out with the boys


  1. Hi Diana,

    I still keep up with your adventures. I am glad to see all is well. I tried to call you, but the number no longer works.


  2. not "hard-core", just "low boredom threshold"?

    sorry to hear about Gillian and Tony...