December 23, 2017

Memories of Bedales and a Happy Kiwi Christmas

Pohutukawa flowers-

Many years ago, while eating breakfast on holiday in Orewa, I was amazed to read an article in the paper written by a man called David Hill.  He didn't mention the school involved then, but I knew; it could only have been Bedales. The unique culture that I remembered so well shone out from the writing.  I wrote to him at the time as I was returning the following year for the Bedales Centenary and he was kind enough to reply.  He is now a successful children's author here in New Zealand.

The Bedales Centenary was wonderful - as well as catching up with old friends, two of my grandfather Leslie  Kent's paintings were hung at the school as he was an OB from the early 1900's, along with his sister Phyllis. He started the Bedales Chronicle which is still running today, and in the holidays, before we left for a new life in NZ,  it was always my pleasure to sit with him in his airy studio, with the special northern light windows, the gas fire and the smell of turps, and relive Bedales with him.
Grandpa at work in his studio, with Grannie 

Today, another article by David Hill, on much the same topic appeared again in the paper here.  It made me smile - it is still a lovely story and has a nice Christmas feel. I hope you go and read it in full. Here is a short extract...
Just before Christmas four decades back, I helped raise the literacy levels of the British royal family.
It was the winter of 1975-76. We were halfway through a UK working holiday, and I'd landed a job teaching for the pre-Christmas term at Bedales School in Hampshire.
Bedales was – still is – one of those places where the UK's wealthy arties send their kids for a liberal education.
In my 12 weeks there, I taught poet Ted Hughes' daughter, novelist Frederick Raphael's son, and the youngest son of an actor called Sir Laurence Olivier, whom you may have heard of? Lovely kids, all of them, even if they reckoned I pronounced Shakespeare's Danish tragedy as "Hemlut".

Today we are getting together to celebrate Mum's birthday - I see Facebook has her age as 57 which I am sure she will be thrilled about!  The holiday period will be particularly hard  - the first without Dad and her older sister, Morag, who also died this year.  It makes us appreciate being together more than anything else could - the gaps left are so hard to fill.

Frankly, I can't wait for 2017 to end as it hasn't been a great year - but there have been lots of good things as well so I can still feel happy and look forward to the next few months. We are having a lovely warm summer which helps!

At a recent and excellent talk put on by the Veterinary Association, Dr. Tony Fernando spoke on The Science of Happiness. He is a psychiatrist, sleep specialist, educator, and researcher, who talks about compassion in healthcare, happiness, mindfulness, enlightenment, his journey as a Buddhist monk, and a bunch of other stuff. He suggested we practice gratitude - keep a diary.

You could also play the Glad Game or do Thankful Thursday posts as suggested by Jaz and GB - see here for an example... 

I can say I am very very glad that Jaz had a positive report from her latest MRI and the "thing" has shrunk further - all due to positive thinking, resveratrol and turmeric I understand.

Dr Fernando suggests that instead of mindfulness, practice kindfulness -  as mindfulness is better that way - with compassion and morals.  If you have time, he is well worth watching..... and thanks to "youtube" you can......

He also developed the CALM website - Computer Assisted Learning for the Mind

Now I must go and finish the birthday cake!

Wishing everyone a very happy, kindful holiday season wherever you are.

December 12, 2017

Christchurch Cathedral - Six years on

I don't write much about the earthquakes, or the reshaping of the central city, which is remiss of me as there are many areas of the city that are worth writing about. Today, some interesting new footage of the state of the Cathedral has been released.....  taken by a rogue individual as the building is still far too dangerous to enter.  I feel anxious just watching it as we just never know when another quake might happen...

The eerie world inside one of Christchurch's most famous earthquake-ravaged buildings is showcased in new video footage from the Christ Church Cathedral.
As central and local government discuss altering legislation to allow the cathedral to be restored, an anonymous videographer has sneaked inside the wrecked central city building.
Under the name Gardxn City, the videographer posts videos and photos taken inside abandoned buildings and homes around the city on YouTube and Instagram. He and others accompanying him have visited the Anglican cathedral more than once.
His latest cathedral clip is called "Six Years On." Its only sounds are the flight of the pigeons as he arrives, then his shoes crunching through the deep, dried bird excrement, which covers many surfaces.

My father was passionate about the progress of the decision making that has happened over the Cathedral's fate... we always read the letters to the editor and the articles in the paper about it to him during his last few months, and he was not impressed over the decision to repair it instead of rebuilding it.  As an engineer, he knew the risks and felt a safer building, preferably made of wood would be more suitable in this earthquake-prone land. 

I will watch the outcome with interest.

You can READ MORE about the Cathedral Saga:
Majority against spending Christchurch ratepayers' money on Christ Church Cathedral restoration
Crumbling cathedral can now be symbol
Work could start on restoring Christ Church Cathedral before Christmas
Synod urged to restore cathedral

November 14, 2017

New Vases

People have been so generous in the past few weeks I had to buy some new vases - so I haunted Trade Me and the quirky local florist and got some lovely ones....   
Had to use my water jug to fit these beautiful flowers in from my friends - so it was where my hunting started

Our local florist had this tall green one which fitted the lovely flowers that my work kindly sent to me

No vase - Just Maddie getting into everything

This one from Canada came with its own vase - clever and very helpful :) 

And another new green one....waiting for the perfect bunch

Thhis one came in useful again this week  - such beautiful lilies from Kim and Paul  - must watch Maddie doesn't go near them on her travels! 

New tall clear vase.... and beautiful birthday peach roses from Mum

And we got other flowers... some were in boxes and baskets.
These came from my cousin in the UK for Mum

From my children this weekend for my birthday

Whatever the reason they were sent, when they arrived they made me feel a bit better after Dad passed away,  or this week for my birthday, just wonderful.  They have filled the house with heavenly scents and gladdened my soul.  Credit to the florists and a grateful thank you to all who sent them.
I may not get any flowers again now for a long time, but will still be filling these vases with roses and Sweet Peas from the garden this summer.

November 13, 2017

A weekend to remember

Dinner with friends Saturday night - Six decades....

Sunday lunch at Pegasus Winery, Waipara,  after a magical mystery tour

Perfection.....the boys all landed up dressed in blue :)

We didn't plan to dress in similar patterns.... 

Beautiful Gardens.  Many happy memories of visits here with Dad.

Almost all of us - Alex took the picture... the day had turned much colder.

Maddie with the lovely cards and flowers

I got to chat to some of my other family around the world and my brother and his wife in Vancouver, Work put on some afternoon tea today and then a final dinner tonight with has certainly been a wonderful birthday and very happy we get a short working week due to the day off next Friday for Canterbury Show Day, so I can recover then.... :). 

I will leave you with the photos my Mother says is her favourite photo of me.... Taken in Swanage - probably the summer of 1960. 

November 11, 2017

Great loss, a new decade and appreciation of friends and family in my life

David.  Jan 1926 - Oct 2017

I really haven't been able to write about Dad's death last month, and  it is still too hard to put more than this photo - but it has been a month now and it was so hard just looking through the pictures again today. So many I could choose, but I have always loved this picture and it reminds me of how long I have been privileged to have him in my life. Dad always had his nose in a book, but then usually so did I...  and I adored him.

Loss on this scale really does remind you of how important friends and family are in your life.  As we have dealt with Dad's gradual decline this year, and the grief of losing him, the family have pulled together to support each other.  My brother in Vancouver and my children here have been wonderful and supported my mother through this time as well.   My friends, many of whom have also lost parents this year, have been a great source of comfort,  Thank you everyone for all you have done.

On Monday,  I start another new decade.  At least I can genuinely celebrate how good it is to be alive and look forward to the future but the celebrations are small and focused. Some good friends are gathering and having me for dinner tonight and tomorrow the children have something planned with Mum... so far I don't know what it involves, but as long as they are all there I will be supremely happy.   Then another night out with some friends on the big day too.  Life is good :)

Yesterday one of our student classes had an end of year get together - and gave Poppy a present... read the fine print on the sign - totally appropriate and she is a source of ongoing joy in my life.

and of course - Maddie.  My friends, Kerry, and Heather, from At the Vets, made this possible and she is a lovely addition to the family. Love her wee fat paws...

Off for our regular Saturday walk at the river  ... Poppy's favourite activity.

September 10, 2017

Spring in the Christchurch Red Zone

Poppy and I walked along the river and through the "red zone" today.  This is the suburban area along the Avon River that has been cleared of housing due to land damage post quakes of 2010/11.
It was a lovely taste of spring before the bad weather hit this afternoon, which was expected as the three Alpine passes around us have been closed due to snow this weekend.

Walking in the red zone is bittersweet; so many lost houses, homes, lives, and plans. We enjoy the extensive park left behind,  but it still has a graveyard feeling, a lingering feeling of loss for those who have lost the right to call this beautiful place home... but the remaining plants and trees are still enjoyed by many people

South to the Port Hills

North towards my house

Note the cat feeding station under the trees for the "Red Zone Cats" - the abandoned, wild, lost pets. 

Loving the green on the trees

It has been a long winter - my father has not been well and I had some months off work.  Poppy has been a wonderful companion - often snuggled on Dad's knees.

and I have a new love... Maddie.  She is polydactyl so she has fat feet with thumbs... and has been a lively addition to the house.

Sorry I have been gone so long - I still read lots of your blogs and will try to pop back here more often! 



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