Archive for the ‘Family Stories’ Category

Purrfect Pair

Stephen needs new slippers, but sadly I could not persudae him to buy these ones even though they were his size.

Fluffy feet for men

You’d think he’d have been keen to have feet that matched Ziggy’s!

Ziggy’s fluffy feet

“He did not want his little piggies
to look exactly just like Ziggy’s.”

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Ruth preparing to abseil

Have you every done something that was out of the ordinary?  Some years ago I went abseiling.  I’m definitely not a sporty person, but I was attracted because the woman facilitator, Ali Watersong. was someone I knew and trusted.  She is also a psychodrama practitioner, and on the Friday evening we went to a preparatory session where we addressed the rock we were to climb, and worked through our fears.

The next morning we drove to Castle Rock in the Port Hills, and climbed up, complete with ropes, helmets, and other equipment.  It was my first experience of serious rock climbing, and it was daunting.  At the top I was overcome by emotion, remembering the rock climbing done by my father who died when I was very young.

I was gently encouraged to step off and abseil down, which I did with a tremendous feeling of achievement.  I didn’t want ever to do it again, but I’m pleased to know that I could overcome my fears and do something that took immense personal courage.

“To step off was the hardest thing
but that day I went abseiling.”

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A friend recommended this film as being funny and full of clever one-liners.  I found it excellent, more serious than I expected, but there were some very clever lines.  With a wonderful woman hero (Gemma Arterton) and Bill Nighy – what’s not to like?

Perhaps I found it serious because the air raid scenes reminded me strongly of my mother-in-law, who endured the London blitz while her husband was serving overseas.  Night after night she went down into the shelter carrying a small baby whose father never saw her until she was three years old.

The theme of the propaganda film within the film reminded me of a poem I learned years ago (maybe at Primary School?), ‘Dunkirk 1940’.  I’ve no idea who the poet was.  Do you know?

“The little ships, the little ships, rushed out across the sea
to save the luckless armies from death and slavery
from Tyne and Thames and Tamar, the Severn and the Clyde
the little ships, the little ships, went out in all their pride
and home they brought their warriors, weary and ragged and worn
back to the hills and the shires, and the towns where they were born
three hundred thousand warriors, from hell to home they came
in the little ships, the little ships, of everlasting fame.”

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My Mother

Mother and me with koala 1981

I am the child of a single parent who was the child of a single parent.  My father died when I was five.  My mother’s father died when she was two.  As a child I never met anyone else who didn’t have a father.  I never thought to question my mother as to how that had been for her, and while she sometimes talked about the things she and her mother had done together she never mentioned her lack of a father.

I’ve been listening to a radio programme where children of single parents talked about how the experience has shaped them.  Many became more resilient and independent.  Most talked about how hard their mothers worked to provide for them which was true for me too.  I think what I mostly learned from my mother was the importance of being good and kind.

I wonder how many other fatherless daughters are out there.  I’d love to hear from you.

“There was no-one else I knew
who didn’t have a father too.”



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The Women’s Centre has attractive new premises at 242 Ferry Road in Waltham.


This organisation is dear to my heart.  We bought our Cottage from one of the founders, and were intrigued to learn that this home had previously been used as a women’s refuge and been the venue for meetings held to establish the Women against Violence Centre which later became the Women’s Centre.  In 1993 when I was studying Community Skills at Polytech I joined the Centre as a volunteer Support Worker.  Later I became their paid Finance worker and Fundraiser and was a collective member.  At this time they were in the old Atlantis Building in Cathedral Square.  The Centre later moved to Greenwich/witch House and another premises in Manchester Street. Many of the workers were close friends, and I have continued an association with the organisation.

Forced to leave Manchester Street after the earthquakes, they had two other homes before moving at the end of last year to these new premises, and yesterday was their official opening, as well as a belated 30th birthday celebration.  It was a pleasure to be there among so many friends.  Some were wearing pink pussyhats, as seen at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st.


Mayor Lianne Dalziel (right) cut the birthday cake with Centre Manager Ardas Trebus.


“The Women’s Centre is a place
where women have their special space.”

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We drove up the Horotane Valley (by the end of Port Hills Rd) to get these luscious tree-ripened apricots.  They were $5 a kilo, and far superior to those offered in the supermarket.  The apricot shop will be open until the end of January, and they also have tomatoes and cucumbers.

When I was a child there was an enormous apricot tree in our back garden and we feasted on these every January.  My mother gave away boxes of them, filled dozens of preserving jars, and made apricot jam.  One year, when my brother was doing his compulsory military training, learning to fly Tiger Moths at Taieri Aerodrome, my mother, not wanting him to miss the annual harvest, sent a crate of apricots down by rail.  My brother later told me that while they were appreciated they were completely unnecessary as he was enjoying five course dinners in the officers’ mess.

“These Horotane apricots
remind me of my childhood – lots.”

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District Doctor


Does anyone remember Doctor Minty who lived in Manchester Street near Edgeware Road?  My family ran a convalescent home and Dr Minty treated our patients as well as our family.  The only memory I have of needing his care was when I contracted measles when I was seven.  Bed rest for two weeks was my prescription.  I wonder now whether that may have been partly to prevent my infecting others in the house.  My measles were not the common German rubella.  I had the more exclusive English measles morbilli.  I contracted them in December 1956, and remember having a large Christmas tree in my bedroom.  At New Year my mother left me in the care of my brother and a housekeeper while she went to the Theosophical Society Convention in Rotorua.  I was miffed that she had deserted my sickbed, but was consoled when she returned with the present of a Maori doll.

“Resenting summer days in bed
I probably just lay and read.”

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