Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Why Am I Here?

No.  This is not a question relating to esoteric wondering about our existence on this planet.  It is simply about why I am here in New Zealand.  It is a question asked by several people arising out of my recent posts.

Catriona aged 4 (2005)
In 2005 (a very difficult time in my life) long-time friends Wendy and Martin who had moved to New Zealand some years previously had repeatedly invited me to visit.  On the spur of the moment one day I accepted the invitation and went on what I expected to be the holiday of my lifetime staying with The Family and touring New Zealand for 6 weeks.  [At that time my cancer was rearing it's head again].

In New Zealand when a child reaches his or her fifth birthday he (or she) graduates from Pre-School and starts attending Junior School on the day after the birthday. When I first visited The Family, Catriona was just four.  I promised to return for the ‘graduation’ on her fifth birthday. I’m not quite sure why but I decided on the spur of the moment when I was booking the plane that I would stay for six months: the whole of the UK's winter.  In September 2006 I set out for what was to be one of the most wonderful and life-changing things that I have ever done.  I have never regretted a single moment.

Now Catriona is a young lady and a weekly boarder at one of New Zealand's premier girls schools and loving every minute of it.  Not yet having any grandchildren it has been a wonderful privilege to watch the children in my adopted family grow from year to year and, in particular, to watch Catriona, to whom I made the original promise which brought me back here, blossom.

Of course it's not all about one person or even about The Family although without them I would not have come in the first place nor returned year after year.  I have made many dear and important friends here in New Zealand and also have the sport which has dominated my life more than any other sport since I gave up fencing and being a fencing coach.  In fact, truth be told, they are the only two sports that I have ever really enjoyed.

[The two recent photos of Catriona are taken from her Facebook page.]






30 comments:

  1. I know why you go back. I wish I could.
    It's a second start in a beautiful country. Good luck and keep having good luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Adrian. I can hardly believe that this is my ninth consecutive annual visit to New Zealand and my eighth for the full half year.

      Delete
  2. Can only congratulate you on your spur of the moment decisions opening the possibility of getting the best of two worlds :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Monica. It's funny how split second decisions can alter our lives for ever - sometimes for the better and sometimes not. I've been fortunate.

      Delete
  3. What a very pretty girl. Doesn't she look so like Wendy?
    I envy you N.Z. at the moment. It is grey, wet and cold here today.
    Enjoy the sunshine. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes there is a similarity Pat although I'm not, as you know, very good with these things. The weather here is still pre-Christmas changeable: one minute beautiful and warm and next cold and wet (although 'cold' is a relative term).

      Delete
  4. I like Monica's comment - 'best of two worlds'. And of course you may also have doubled the number of people in the world who consider you their friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've certainly been fortunate, Katherine, in meeting some wonderful people (yourself included!) in New Zealand including, with a certain irony, one of my close friends in Scotland.

      Delete
  5. Fencing! Now, that's an interesting aspect to you, Graham.
    By what I've read about Catriona so far on your blog, I believe she is a very lovely young lady and will no doubt turn into a wonderful woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Meike, it was, until I found croquet, the only sport I had ever enjoyed as a participant. I was once an amateur football linesman and did consider taking my refs ticket but my heart wasn't in it. I tried other sports but discovered that anything that involved a fast-moving ball and an implement with which to hit it was out of my sphere of competence because I only have one usable eye.

      Delete
  6. How wonderful for you! I have also wondered how you began living on both sides of the world!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So now, Lisa, you know. It's a little less adventurous than your lifestyle but I need roots.

      Delete
  7. Nice to hear how you came to move to New Zealand for half the year; great reasons!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think this is a very unique and great way to live in this world and I wish you all the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mersad. I appreciate that.

      Delete
  9. It is nice having family on both sides of the world ~ it makes the world seem a smaller place in someway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol the world is a very small place now and I think that it will probably get smaller as we migrate and emigrate more and more as a matter of course.

      Delete
  10. Catriona has blossomed, hasn't she? She can't help but be beautiful with that smile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pauline we are are both blessed with beautiful children around us.

      Delete
  11. That's lovely, GB. Can't think of a better or more fulfilling reason to go to NZ for 6 mos. of the year than to be an honourary Grandfather. Love to you, and Happy Christmas, xoxox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Carol. Your wishes are both appreciated and reciprocated.

      Delete
  12. Interesting story. You had the courage to follow your dream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be truthful Red I'm not sure how much was courage and how much just happened....and continues to happen.

      Delete
  13. Adopted families sometimes can be the best family to have.....and it's great that you get to spend time with them every year for six months.....lucky you GB!
    The closeness and love that you have shared on this blog had led me to believe that the family was indeed real family members, but like I mentioned above, adopted family can be the best sometimes...yes, I'm talking from experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my case, Virginia, I wouldn't say the best because my real family members are also very close and good friends. After all friends are the family you choose for yourself. The Family is, though, my family in all but blood. After all, as my Mum pointed out of my Dad, he was not a blood relation of hers. The only ones sharing their common blood are CJ and I.

      Delete
  14. I do think that your story is an amazing one, and it just goes to show that you should follow what you wish you could do. How gladI am for you that you didn't decide, "oh, really, I'd love to but -!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Jenny, how life can all hinge on one moment of whim. In my case it was one of the best whims I have ever had.

      Delete
  15. It was good to learn a bit more about you, GB. I think haaving two homes sounds wonderful, if you're easily transplanted (sadly, I'm not).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm only easily transplanted Frances because both places are now home. When I'm in one I miss the other or, to be more accurate, I miss the friends from the other place. Modern communications does reduce the physical distance. After all on a whim this morning I picked up my cellphone and had a long chat to Pat on Lewis to see how they were faring in the gales and sleet and snow. We might just as well have been across the valley on Lewis given the conversation.

      Delete