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skiddingtowardsretirement

semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

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Life span

New Life – Family Traditions

Mahurangi Regatta – a harbour full of boats, many of which are traditional and a day of old fashioned picnic fun with three legged races, sand castle contests, sack races, swimming races and …. for young and old

The Saturday of Anniversary Weekend means only one thing to the man and me – come hell or high water, the day will be spent at the Mahurangi Regatta.

And it’s been this way since our kids were littlies. It’s a family tradition, you see.

In the early days, more often than not, the two grandmothers would join us. Sadly, the years have passed and both Hilda and Dorothy are no longer with us.

But our family picnic group has not diminished in size, it has grown. Firstly, each of our three children introduced a partner to the mix; one brought with them our delightful step-grandson. Then, last year, our daughter and son in law introduced their three month old daughter to the tradition. This year our granddaughter was joined by her seven month old cousin. Our  picnic group now stands at 11, with, no doubt, a few more additions still to come.

The thing that the man and I find most gratifying about all this is that the children choose to come. They have continued the family tradition with no prompting from us. We, therefore, think it is here to stay.

Having said this, change is inevitable. Always.

The man is coming to terms with this at the moment. Let me explain. For those who don’t know, the man is a mad keen sea kayaker and has been since he discovered the sport as a 30 or so year old lad in the early nineties.

At the same time he discovered kayaking was the sport for him, he also found out that he was very competitive.  Go figure? Yes, the Stone family travelled up and down NZ so the man could take part in many a kayak race. And by the medals clanging around in his drawer, he was pretty successful – not in the league of MacDonald and Ferg*, of course, but successful all the same.

Now each year since about 1993 the man has taken part in the Mahurangi Regatta kayak race.  Most years the man has taken out first place. Except in 2015 and 2016, he didn’t. Those years he had to settle for second.

In 2018 this changed again. Yesterday he came third.  A close third, but third nonetheless.

So yes, third’s not bad. Except there were only three competitors.

The man, to put it mildly, was far from thrilled. I view it differently though: he should be pleased.  You see, the reality is my almost 62 year old partner can paddle way longer and faster than most of the general population.

So instead of him feeling disappointed with himself for being beaten by some younger bucks, which they were,  I have convinced him to continue competing.

Grant’s cedar Albatross sea kayak. This was designed and built by him. For those who don’t know we manufactured these in kevlar and fibreglass.

Why?  Well, the old bugger loves it. And hey, there is something to be said about not giving up, not to mention being the oldest competitor taking part each year.

So I have no doubt that as long as he is able to crawl into his lovely kayak, he will continue racing at the Mahurangi Regatta.

And  as long as he is racing, the kids, their kids and I will be standing there cheering him on!

*Ian and Paul paddled Olympic class kayaks in the K1s, K2s and K4s competitions – sea kayaks are quite different!

Carpe Diem

Muriwai Beach
Muriwai Beach

Muriwai is a wild beach with stunning and dramatic scenery on Auckland’s west coast. This rugged area is a favourite spot for the outdoorsy types, be they surfers, swimmers, fishermen, land yachties, or trampers, to name but a few.

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Muriwai Surf Club

Last weekend the man and I made a trip to this spot for a very different purpose. We were there to attend the wedding reception of our son and new daughter in law. The function was held at the local surf club, a spectacular structure situated just back from the beach. As befitting a joyous celebration, the sounds of  laughter and music filled the air late into the night.

A mere four weeks earlier, the noises that pierced the silence here were quite a different affair. Sadly, it was a cacophony of sirens, rotor blades and, no doubt, distressed and emotional people, which disturbed the quiet of the twilight back then.

You see Muriwai Beach, which is 60 kilometres long, is a designated road. On that Sunday afternoon, four young men from other parts of the world decided to make the most of the lovely weather and take a four wheel drive along the beach.

In conditions considered to be perfect for the outing, the vehicle rolled. Eye witnesses’ accounts said that the vehicle flipped multiple times, throwing all but one of the occupants out. Three of the men were reported to be deceased by the time the rescue teams arrived, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the fourth passed away at the scene shortly afterwards. The news that New Zealanders sat down to watch that night showed images of the surf club as this was the building the dead were airlifted to that fateful night.

As I walked through the expansive premises of this facility last week, I thought of the four young men whose day out having fun had ended so tragically for them. They were a similar age to our son. I also thought of their nearest and dearest. To them, Muriwai will always be remembered as the place where their beloved sons’ and brothers’ lives ended.  In contrast, the man and my memories’ of this beautiful west coast beach are ones of happiness.

It is neither appropriate or important for me to second guess why the accident occurred.  I hope, however, that despite the tragic ending, the families recognise and take solace in the fact that the young men were out there having fun and embracing life that day.

A death, particularly one that is unexpected, is always a salutary reminder that there are no guarantees in life. The only option we have is to make the most of each day we have on this earth and live our life to the full.

Carpe diem.

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