semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living



The Garden plot

This morning the man and I dismantled what was left of our vegetable plot. With another summer season of virtually no rain, plus the possums, rabbits, rats and a variety of other pests destroying our plants at every opportunity, it was time to wave the white flag of surrender.

The garden will be converted back to grass and I will buy all my vegetables in this season. Fortunately, there is a local gardener who sells their surplus, and an amazing farmer’s market on a Saturday morning in Whangarei to buy from. I have no doubt these alternatives will be more cost effective too.

I haven’t given up completely on growing vegetables though. I do intend to twist the man’s arm and get him to build me a small raised vegetable garden closer to the house in autumn. This bijou garden will only have things that flourish and that we like to eat. I am over wasting my time, money, and precious water on plants that don’t meet this criteria!

I might have lost the war with vegetables this season, but it looks like I am winning the battle with a lemon tree. This citrus tree was planted about three years ago and became a pathetic, stick-like thing with one or two leaves.

About 8 weeks ago, I dug around it and threw in some worm farm compost and citrus fertiliser in a last ditch effort to save it; or, possibly, kill it. Once I had added the fertiliser, I put the soil back, and watered the tree well. I then put mulch around the base, and left it to its own devices. Today I am happy to report, my once sad lemon is looking healthy with a lovely lot of new growth on it.

Sometimes my gardening efforts pay dividends; other times, they simply don’t.

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!

Hello Summer!


Today summer looks like it is here. This is not the first time it has arrived: on several other occasions over the last month or so it has showed its face, only to retreat the very next day. This time, however, I am convinced it is here to stay. Why? There is no particular reason, rather I just feel that it should do the decent thing and hang around now until at least April. Yes, I know in this part of the world, summer isn’t officially expected until 1 December, but in this case turning up early will be definitely viewed by the general populace as a brilliant idea, I think. We are, after all, more than ready for something new!

So what’s so great about summer? Firstly, unlike spring which is notoriously fickle weather wise, we know where we stand. In the morning, we dress for one season only, rather than all four. And dress, we do, in lighter, brighter attire with our limbs on display and toes peeping shyly out of sandals or jandals.

Summer brings with it an upturn in people making the most of the wonderful weather to get into shape after a winter of seriously stodgy meals. Walkers and runners are seen pounding the streets with fancy gadgets measuring pulse rates strapped on,  the gyms are overflowing with people working hard to get back the body they last saw when they were young and taut, fake tan is being sold by the bucketful, and strange diets that often are both scientifically dubious and bordering on sadistic are adopted. There is logic at play here: we have to look good in that lighter, brighter attire! New hair style anyone?

Summer is also the time of the outdoor meals, be it firing up the barbeque in the backyard, heading to the local park for a picnic tea, or to the beach for a dinner of fish and chips. More often than not, friends will be invited along and a simple meal will morph into a relaxed social occasion with great food, a couple of drinks and excellent conversation.

Now there are all sorts of other amazing things about summer in this part of the world e.g. swimming, camping, Christmas and New Year, but it also brings with it nights that are too hot to sleep, mosquitos and sandflies that like dining on homo sapiens, sunburn and food poisoning, if a person is not careful, and other challenges. Like everything, there is no such thing as perfect, but despite this, I think  we are more than ready for the new season to arrive.

I also know that by Autumn, I, for one, will be looking forward to the cooler weather, the glorious colours of the autumnal trees, the heavier clothes, different food and the opportunity to curl up by the fire with a book. A change can be so refreshing!

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