Special day, special memories

Wedding invitation2 1976-07-3137 years ago today, at 11.30am on Saturday 31 July 1976, in the garden of my parents’ home in Zimbabwe, I got married.  Bryan and I had flown in from New Zealand only four days beforehand.  We meant to arrive earlier than that, but there was a small hiccup on the way over, when we got offloaded in Bombay … 

Bombay???   I hear you say?  Yup:  Bombay.  We both worked for Air New Zealand at the time, you see, and were therefore eligible for staff travel discounts, but only on certain airlines, and the cheapest way for us to get to Zimbabwe from New Zealand was flying British Airways from NZ up to Bombay, then down to Johannesburg and then up to Salisbury (or Harare, as it is now known).

Only trouble was, the flight from Bombay to Jo’burg was full that day, and we sure as heck weren’t high enough up the staff travel pecking order to be eligible for consideration for seats in first class (should two seats have been available, which was information they certainly weren’t prepared to share with us):  so, offloaded we were.  I don’t recall for how many days, now – let’s just say it was enough to give my parents conniptions as they contemplated a wedding without the leading players – and how on earth were they going to explain Bombay to everyone??? Wedding invitation 1976-07-31

And I’m sure you can imagine how I added to my mother’s conniptions when we finally did arrive, with a mere four days to go, only for me to say, well, actually, no, I didn’t have a wedding gown tucked away in my suitcase, and I was sort of hoping she might be able to make me one …. 

I’m embarrassed now at my cavalier attitude:  not only had they made all the arrangements without any help at all from Bryan and me, but here I was expecting her to weave her usual tailoring magic (she was a superb seamstress, my mother) and whip me up a wedding dress in four days!!!  And bless her, she rose to the occasion splendidly, creating a beautifully simple dress with a little bit of lace to gussy it up a bit (I’ve never really been big on fussy …).  I remember her saying, I don’t care what colour you wear (smart cookie, my mother) as long as it’s LONG!

Anyway, the wedding was absolutely perfect.  Winter in Zimbabwe is a beautiful time of year, with no rain and weather mild enough to allow me to wear a short sleeved dress and the whole wedding ceremony and celebratory lunch to be held outside.  I actually don’t recall having had any input into the wedding guest list, but there were lots of family and old school friends, and friends of my parents whom I had known while growing up, and it all went like clockwork.  My younger sister did the honours as bridesmaid, my brother was best man, and three nieces and two nephews were part of the wedding party as well:  great to be part of a large family with plenty of people willing to play their part! 🙂   And it didn’t seem to phase Bryan at all that it was all about me and my family, bless him:  he just went with the flow and took it all in his stride.  It was such a joyful occasion, celebrated in a place and with people I loved and cared for deeply, with little pomp and fanfare, but lots of love and laughter and happiness, which provided many, many wonderful memories to sustain me in the years that followed.

Wedding day1No official photos for the occasion, 
just family photographers coming up
trumps with shots like this 🙂     Wedding day2-cropped 



I love this photo of Bryan:  although
I’ve never been quite sure whether
he was lost in admiration of the 
wedding cake or wondering what the heck
he’d got himself into!

Life has taken many a twist and turn since then, and has certainly thrown its share of curved balls along the way, so wonderful occasions such as this are to be cherished all the more.  Happy Days and Special Memories!!

In the spirit of watchfulness …

I was prompted by a post today by ordinarygoodness to have a wander around my own garden in a ‘watchful’ mood – I love this concept!  Here’s some of what I discovered on a beautifully mild winter’s afternoon …

I love that special golden light in the early morning and at the end of the day:  did you see how it made the reddish bark of the gum tree glow – isn’t it beautiful?  I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time to take many photos, so it was good to be able to get outside for a slow wander in the warmth of the late afternoon, with Henry Lee for company 🙂

Here’s another photo I took a few mornings ago of the moon setting just as I was leaving for work – I couldn’t believe how big it was!  It’s been very yellow when rising in the evenings, and quite beautiful, as has the night sky been on some of the lovely clear nights we’ve had recently.


I had the day off on Friday, so have enjoyed a three-day weekend with great weather on all three days, and it’s not looking too shabby for the next few days either:  what a shame I have to be at work! 🙂

Would you like the good news or the bad news?

Well … the good news is that I played in another bridge tournament on Sunday, and we managed to come 2nd in the Junior section, which will add to our tally in the Canterbury Regional Bridge competition which I posted about here just over a couple of weeks ago.  And the other good news about our continuing success is that each time, the prize money we have won has covered our entry fees for the tournament, so we’ve had a whole day of fun which hasn’t cost us a dang thing!  I like that. 🙂

And the bad news?  Well … the bad news (for you, that is) is that our continuing success has merely fanned the flames of my competitive nature ever more strongly, so we’re off to Ashburton on Saturday 3 August for our next tournament. Just as well there isn’t one in the near vicinity this coming weekend, as my partner heads off tomorrow to the Sunshine Coast (north of Brisbane) for a week’s holiday, and I’d probably be frothing at the mouth were she to be away when there were tournament points on offer! 😉  This whole bridge competition thing is in danger of becoming seriously addictive for me, I have to say, but I am seriously enjoying it, so I am seriously going to continue, and you are seriously going to continue hearing all about it! 🙂

Recently a colleague introduced me to a Facebook website (Oxford Leadership Academy) which has had a number of postings on it which have intrigued and piqued me – here’s an example:

Share when you see the horse

Makes you realise that sometimes all that’s needed is a different point of view or perspective.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about Toby, the cat who lives next door to our office and regularly drops in to say hello – here are a couple of photos from his latest visit:

DSCF9170 cropped

Toby supervising the workers at Avice Hill …


… and expresses his displeasure at not being fed!

The weather has been very mild over the last couple of days, with temperatures much warmer than usual for this time of year, and suddenly I’m noticing new growth in the garden … anyone would think it was spring …

DSCF9184 cropped

An azalea peeks through the leaves …


… and fresh mint is sprouting in the planter.

My thoughts tonight are with all the good folk in Wellington and the area around Seddon at top of the South Island, who have been shaken (literally as well as figuratively) by a series of strong earthquakes over the last few days:  here in Canterbury we know just how unnerving an experience it is, so you have our sympathy.  Hang in there, and I trust things will settle down quickly without getting any worse.  Kia kaha!

Still on track …

Mentally drained, I am.  60 boards of bridge played today, six lots of 10 boards at a time, with about a 10 minute break in between each set while they calculated the results and redrew for the next set; 45 minutes for lunch, finally finished at about 5.30pm, having started at 9.30pm.  It was as challenging as we thought it would be, given that there were some very senior players – luckily, we didn’t get to meet too many of them! 🙂 

Swiss PairsBut I’m very happy to say that my partner and I managed to get first prize in the Junior section, which surprised us both, as we really didn’t think we’d had that good a day!  So we’re still in the race for the regional championship I mentioned in an earlier post, which is pretty exciting; although I’m not about to chuck in my day job … 😉


Woke up this morning to no electricity, which caused some consternation, given that if I don’t have power, I don’t have any water, which meant no shower and no hot cuppa to start the morning … 😦   My bridge partner came to the rescue and offered both shower and breakfast, so I gathered together my clothes, shower stuff, woolly hat and gloves (it was bitter outside), opened the door to leave – and the power came back on 🙂  A good day to be inside in the warm for sure – when we got back home again there was snow on the ground and a biting cold wind straight off the Southern Alps:  brrr!!

Just want to say congratulations to the Southland Sharks, who tonight won the final of the NZ National Basketball League in only their 4th year in the league:  they played an awesome semi-final against probably the best team in the league (Wellington Saints) yesterday, and tonight were equally good against the Nelson Giants – way to go, boys!  And now I’m just off to watch a little bit of the Ashes cricket test before hitting the sack:  g’night, everyone!

Once more into the breach …

Tomorrow I’m picking up the bridge challenge again, competing in a Swiss Pairs competition at Christchurch Bridge Club.  I’ve never played in Swiss Pairs, and had no idea what they were, so I asked for an explanation and received the following:

“There is usually a random draw at the beginning and you play a number of boards against the same pair,  9-12 boards or thereabouts.  After the 1st round there is a 2nd draw based on the previous round results and you play a pair who had a similar result and play another 9-12 boards. This is repeated for 5-8 times depending on the number of entries. You end up playing against players at a similar playing level.”

Hmmm, sounds interesting!  We fully realise that we will be up against some top-notch players, and quite honestly we have no great expectations about what we’ll achieve, but decided we’ve got nothing to lose, so why not give it a go?  I’ll let you know tomorrow night how we got on, depending on how battered and bruised mentally I feel at the end of the day … 😉   Tomorrow’s weather forecast is for cold, showery weather with the possibility of some snow showers as well, so it could be a good day to be warm indoors with plenty to occupy my mind!

Caught a brief glimpse on the news tonight of Malala Youfsazi, the young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education for girls in Pakistan, as she addressed the United Nations Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday:  what a wonderful example and role model she is!  Loved her quote,”One child, one teacher, one and one pen can change the world” – very inspiring to watch.  It made me incredibly grateful for the freedom and education I enjoyed as a child.

Henry Lee is not talking to me at the moment, after I sat up in the Lazy Boy chair and inadvertently (and very briefly) trapped his leg as the footstool part folded in:  he was not amused!  I have put him outside to work off his hurt feelings – I’m sure once he realises how cold it is out there compared to the warmth of the lounge, where he slept virtually all day with the fire going, he will be bleating at the door to be let in!

Right, time for a hot drink and then an early night in preparation for tomorrow;  see you all then!

Turangawaewae: my story of home

If I may beg another little soupçon of indulgence from you, please? 🙂

At work at the moment we have a project under way to learn a little bit more about each other.

Knowing each other is important and knowing where you come from helps understand and connect with each other better.

Our special word for this month is Turangawaewae.

Literally tūranga means ‘standing place’, and waewae ‘the feet’, thus it is most commonly translated as ‘a place to stand’; however, it is a translation, like most translations across languages, that fails to capture its full meaning.  Not only is tūrangawaewae an acknowledgement of the place one is connected to through whakapapa – our foundation, place in the world, or home; it also signifies a place where one feels empowered or connected.

As part of the project we have each been invited to contribute to a display with a photo and/or story of our Turangawaewae:  here’s mine.

Go, Pa, Go!

          It was always the same after a good rainstorm.  As we’d round the last bend before the driveway up the hill, Father would slow down and change gear, and my stomach would begin to churn.  My sister Jane and I would look across at each other across the back seat.  Between us sat my aunt, who would grab my hand on one side and Jane’s on the other.  With our remaining free hand, Jane and I would each grip the armrest on our door.  In the front, Mother would hold on to the ceiling strap with her left hand, while her right was used to brace herself firmly against the dashboard.  It wasn’t that Father was a bad driver – just that we knew what was to come in the next sixty seconds or so …

          Father would straighten himself in the seat and lean forward over the steering wheel, hands gripping it firmly while his eyes quickly scanned the road ahead to make sure it was clear of other traffic.  A last minute adjustment to our speed – we daren’t let it drop too low – a quick flick of the wheel to the right as we turned off the road and onto the driveway, and then his foot would be flat to the floor and we’d be racing up the hill. 

                At least, that was the intention.  The red clay soil, sticky yet slippery after the rain, would throw us hither and thither as we bucked and crabbed our way up the steep slope.  The rear of the car would sometimes grip suddenly on one side and we’d lurch into the undergrowth while Father struggled to get us back on course.  Nobody would speak for the first few seconds – well, nothing intelligible anyway – while we judged how far we were going to get that day.  Then, if things looked promising, Mother would spur Father on:  “Come on, George, you can do it!”, while Jane and I would shout, “Go, Pa, go!”  My aunt would merely close her eyes, grip our hands even more tightly and mutter prayers under her breath.

                I think the entire driveway up to the house was only about 100 metres long, but I’m sure our see-saw progress meant we sometimes travelled twice that distance.  Not to mention the times we ended up sideways across the road, or sunk in a pothole, wheels spinning uselessly, in so deep that further upward progress was impossible.  Father wasn’t one to give up easily, though, because he knew if he didn’t get the car up the hill, then everything we had on board would have to be carried up by hand, and he didn’t fancy the role of pack-horse.  Jane and I didn’t mind that at all, because it meant we got to take off our shoes and squish through the sticky red mud in our bare feet, revelling in the rude squelching noises and seeing who could find the deepest pothole to splash through; meanwhile, Mother and my aunt would don gumboots and pick their way up the driveway as best they could without slipping or losing their footing.

                Finally, either in the car or on foot, we’d arrive at the top of the drive, and the first adventure of the day would be over.  The return journey at the end of the day was more often than not a downhill slalom in similar fashion, unless the driveway had really dried out during the day, in which case we would bounce from crest to crest of the troughs gouged out during our upward progress in the morning.

                Over the years it took us to build our house on the hill in Zimbabwe we must have made that journey up and down thousands of times.  In later years, when we finally laid two concrete strips up the driveway, our progress became a far more sedate affair, and much less exciting:  boring, even.  Somehow it all seemed rather tame to us children, conquering the concrete highway instead of slogging it up the slope:  boring, even.  I don’t think the adults saw it that way, though …

Traveller's Joy

Our house on the hill

Just a little skite … please?

Would you indulge me for a moment?  I wish to have a little – just a wee piccaninny one, I promise – skite.  I won’t go on at length, but I’m fair busting to tell you, so I’m going to, all right?

LogoI’ve mentioned in previous posts that I play bridge.  Rather a lot of bridge, actually.  Three nights most weeks, and some weekends as well.  So you’ll appreciate that I enjoy it, right?  And as seems to be the way with bridge – or maybe it’s just my bridge, I don’t know – there are peaks and troughs, and I haven’t been feeling that positive about the way I’ve been playing lately, but I keep going because, darn it, even a bad night at bridge is better than a good night doing … well, most other stuff. 

This year Canterbury Regional Bridge introduced a new (individual) competition for Intermediate and Junior ranked players, where you get points for competing in tournaments, and then more points depending on how many competitors there are and what your final placing is in each tournament.  The competition runs from 1 January to 30 November 2013, and there is a cup for the winner and prize money awarded to the first 8 players placed in each of the two grades.  When I became aware of this competition for the first time about six weeks ago, I was delighted to discover that my partner and I were ranked 4th equal at that time, on 16 points – not bad for someone who wasn’t even aware they were in the competition! 🙂 


Happy Dance!

We played in a tournament last Sunday and did reasonably well – 4th in both the morning and afternoon sessions,  ending up 8th overall out of 29 competing pairs – and we thought we might have picked up a few more points.   So you can imagine what a happy dance I did when I checked the regional competition placings earlier today and discovered that we’ve shot up the ladder and are now sitting 1st (me) and second (my partner), on 41 and 38 points respectively!  (I’ve gained an extra 3 points thanks to another tournament entry with a different partner.  Which opens up another level of competition between just the Two of Us, as well as between the Two of Us and The Rest of the Competitors! 🙂 )

But, wait a minute, now …  it’s only just early July, and the competition doesn’t close until 30 November … Yikes, that’s still a whole five months still to go …  suddenly my competitive – oh, so competitive – nature leaps into overdrive as I feverishly scan the schedule of 17 tournaments available over that period:  Christchurch – no problem … Ashburton – that’s only an hour’s drive, quite doable …  Timaru – hmm, that’s two hours’ drive, more of an effort but still doable; Geraldine – ditto; Waimate … hmmm, three hours plus away …  And there’s the two weeks I’m going to be away in Australia in October, so that knocks out one of the Christchurch options … I dunno, maybe I should just give away the whole idea … Like as heck I will!!!   So, good, patient, understanding people that you are, be warned:   you WILL hear more about my bridge exploits over the next five months! 🙂 🙂