Monday, 31 October 2011

Crank up the Barbie

You know the warmer weather has come when it's time once again to clean and cook up on the BBQ.

The sunny weekend was topped off by a meal prepared by Jo and cooked by Alice of homemade meat patties, potatoes and fresh salad and bread. Much appreciated after the Old Dark beer at the Waterfront.

Alice showing off her cullinary skills

Tuck in everyone

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunny Sunday

Yes folks it's official, the sun has come to Kapiti. I think we have Kevin and Ruth to thank for that as they said they would send some from Mexico. Apparently they have an over abundance of it.

A hectic week of work and very little play has made me a rather dull boy.

However today has been one out of the box.

It started with a trip to Otaki for their annual triathlon. Alice our youngest won the race again this year outright in the women's section at the tender age of 15. A full report will be given when I can work on the computer without Alice around to forbid it happening.

I had a pleasant ride home with a gentle tail wind. After mending a few tyre tubes that I had neglected for a few weeks Jo and I decided to walk down to our local for a well needed drink.

Raumati Beach Village

Marine Gardens and Miniature Railway


Speights Old Dark went down a treat

Waterfront view over Kapiti Island

Walk home to Raumati South

A taste of Mexico

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Hazardous Sport

Who would have thought that running could be an activity thwart with danger?

Over the years I have had many close calls with cars when riding my bike and occasionally while running.
However the most bizarre encounters have been with non humans.

Both episodes occurred within a few kilometres of my home.

One morning as I was running in the fields that I had run in frequently I came across a herd of cows. Yes cows, not bulls as I had many times previously. On this occasion like many others the cows wouldn't let me pass and decided to run ahead of me. One by one they peeled off until there was one left. After several 100 metres the track narrowed and came to a gate. Aware of this I slowed down and waited for the cow to turn around and pass me from a safe distance. The cow had other ideas and immediately charged me. By a slim margin I frantically hurled my self out of it's way over the wire fence. An extremely lucky escape!

They look harmless enough

The other episode happened within close proximity of the cow confrontation. This time it involved bees!. Once again I was following well worn paths in familiar territories. I had never before concerned myself with the bee hives that I had passed on a nearly daily basis for several years. However this was not a typical day. As I passed by the hives I became aware that I was being followed. Before long I had bees swarming around my head. A frightening experience! I pulled my T Shirt over my head and picked up the pace. I would have looked a sight! They were relentless and continued to buzz wildly all around me. After about 1 km I managed to outrun them or maybe they lost interest. It took a while for me to settle down from the adrenalin rush of being chased by angry bees! Fortunately I escaped without a sting.

Not too close

Have you had any close encounters of the non human variety?

Friday, 28 October 2011

On my mind

I participate in this feature which I found here:

 This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.
This is on my mind:

In the photo above is one of my students, Bianca. In 2007 she was diagnosed with cancer. She's currently 2 years off treatment. Recently I visited Wellington Hospital with Bianca and her mum where we entertained some of the children.

On Sunday, November 20 I have the wonderful opportunity to be part of the Funrazor for the Child Cancer Foundation that has been organised by Lea. It is being held at Coastlands Mall in Paraparaumu. I will be there with my Picture Book You're Not Eating Me. I will be playing my guitar and singing songs from my C.D with support from some children from Room 1 of Waikanae School. From every sale I will give $5 to the Child Cancer Foundation.  I am really excited about being involved and I know Lea has put in a lot of work organising a fun event.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Scenic 5k

Please join me in a 5km run / walk from my house.

It is 400 metres to Raumati South Beach. When you get there have a look over to Kapiti Island.

Now we head south towards Paekakariki.

There's a short uphill leaving the beach to the Esplanade.

When we get to Queen Elizabeth Park we enter the park and turn left uphill.

We have a choice of 2 tracks but because we are on a short course today we will continue up to the left.

After that climb we now have a short downhill as we head home.

We're keeping good time so we can stop to greet some of the locals before heading out of the park.

There are some lovely blossoms out being early spring

and some lush greenery.

Now you are just about there...just one more km to go. Keep going!

You've made it safely back! Well done!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Our girls had a fantastic start in their educational life by attending Raumati South School, a mere 400 metres from our front gate. Both Kate and Alice had numerous opportunities to excel! I am extremely grateful to the teachers and the principal who made primary school for them a most positive learning experience.

These photos were taken on my run recently.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Rolling Hills 2

Continuing the theme of music in the Forster family during our growing up years! When I was 11 and my sister Margaret was 8 my mum made a decision that I am extremely thankful for! She thought it was important that she had a professional recording done of us for posterity sake. Now on listening to these recordings I have a real appreciation of the gift that Margaret and I had. I am really happy to be able to share these sound clips. Would love to have some feedback! I am personally in awe of how Margaret and I could at such a young age put difficult harmonies together in such a true fashion! The last sound clip is the only sound clip I have of my mum. It was done unofficially in the Mayfair Theatre and unfortunately the sound quality is not great!

Click here to listen to Paul and Margaret singing Dream Seller

Click here to listen to Paul singing Smugglers Song

Click here to listen to Paul singing Bonnie Wee Thing

Click here to listen to Paul singing Five Eyes

Click here to listen to our mum, Noeline singing Euridice

Monday, 24 October 2011

Beach Life

When our family moved up to the Kapiti Coast to be close to my work one of the biggest draw cards was being next to the ocean. Our home is situated 400 metres from the sea and since moving to Raumati South 15 years ago the beach has been prominent in our leisure activities.

Whether it is swimming in the summer or running along the sand and over the dunes we have enjoyed living on the coast. The sea smells and refreshing breeze invigourates the spirit.

Due to a lingering cold I decided to go for a walk with my camera and take some shots of the beach area.

Here is some of what I saw!

North towards Raumati Beach

Looking out to Kapiti Island

Looking South to Paekakariki

A grand looking mussel shell I'm told

Heading off the beach to the Raumati South Esplanade

Colourful Beach House

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Moment of Truth

It is the morning of the Big One! As Brucie would say in Strictly Come Dancing 'Now is the moment of Truth'. Are the Mighty All Blacks good enough to pull off a victory in the Rugby World Cup that the country have hoped for, expected and have demanded for a very long 24 years. There is no doubt in my mind and I'm sure in the eyes of most proud kiwis that they are good enough and have been by a long margin the best team in the competition. But it is in reality just one game, admittedly a most important game but in the long run just another game. Let's hope that no matter what the result kiwis will get behind their team and be proud of what all members of the team will have contributed. They will all have done their best on the day. New Zealanders need to be proud of all their sports representatives in all forms of sport because having been there myself I know they will give it their all. Check the You Tube clip below of Sing New Zealand. This is my version of John Denver's Sing Australia. I have singing with me Bianca who had about 10 minutes to practise it with me. Hope you like it!

Go the Mighty All Blacks!   The whole country is behind you!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Rolling Hills 1

I was born and brought up in Dunedin. A city that will always hold a special place in my heart!

From Left to Right [Catherine, Margaret, Bernard, Vincent, Paul]
 The oldest of 5 I often felt an over burdening responsibility as peacemaker in a troubled household. Our dad was the rock in a tumultuous relationship and sadly due to my mum's ill health was the brunt of verbal and at times physical attacks. Having said this though there are many happy memories and experiences I look back on during my growing years.

A fond early memory is when my sister and I got our first bikes and dad taught us how to ride them. We would often go out around the neighbourhood and at the local park to work on our riding skills.

I was most fortunate as a young lad to be given opportunities in music and speech that would ultimately shape my life. It was a regular school holiday event to be involved in local competitions for speech, singing and piano. I was extremely talented and hard working and won countless cups. There were so many that my parents finally gave up replacing them with miniature trophies on their yearly return. My sister and I were that good we invariably won everything we entered. We were especially good together singing duets that you will get to hear on another occasion.

One of the most memorable successes was when I had the lead part of Hansel and the girl I had a crush on got the part of Gretel. They were happy but somewhat scary times on stage in front of hundreds in the old Mayfair Theatre. The gingerbread house with real lollies that Hansel and Gretel got to nibble on sticks out as a highlight of the show. Also cuddling up to Gretel in the song Evening Prayer has special significance. I mean to say I was a normal hot blooded young boy. Trying to hit the high note in Rice Blamange mostly unsuccessfully caused some worries and upsets and in the end it was decided to speak it instead.

Thanks to our mother us children had been given opportunities to perform and develop our musical talents. She instilled a passion that has remained with me all my life. Music is an essential part of who I am and has impacted in countless ways to shape decisions I've made and directions I've taken. To you mum I will be eternally grateful!

Click here to listen to Rolling Hills from my musical Seems Only Yesterday

Friday, 21 October 2011

Running Update

Yesterday I had intended to post Loving Heart but for some unknown reason it didn't save and therefore it was done today. Unfortunately that mishap has meant that for the first time since I started blogging I was missing a day's entry. The obsessive person I am needs to do 2 today to try and compensate!

Earlier in the year our local paper printed an article photo about my recent achievements. You can read all about them below:-

Since the article was written I did win my age group of the Vosseler Shield on Mt Victoria, gold centre team medal in the National Road Champs in Wellington, silver team medal in the National Road Relay Champs in Auckland and various medals in Wellington races. A most satisfying year!

Loving Heart

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


How often do you find yourself looking into the future and not living in the moment?

My wife has recently read about the importance of mindfulness or 'living in the moment'. I have been guilty in the past of either looking back to the past or looking to the future and not appreciating the here and now.

How often when travelling do you think about what you will do there but not enjoy the getting there?

I left Dunedin under heavy cloud in thick drizzle. On my flight I listened to John Denver on my i pod and appreciated having time to myself to enjoy the trip. Way above the clouds it was an awesome experience looking down over the fluffy pillow below and taking in the land and sea when the clouds dissipated.

I arrived to sunshine in Wellington and after a bus to the city enjoyed a pleasant train journey along the Kapiti Coast to my home in Raumati South.

I think for the future 'Mindfulness' will be my mantra where I will try and enjoy all of the journey and not just the getting to the destination. I know I have wasted too much time not being in the moment and not celebrating all of what life brings! Here is a poem / song I wrote that reflects 'living in the moment'.

Feel the Rhythm

Don't let those mean spirited get you down
There's beauty all around you...pleasures to be found
You have the power and the glory is yours
Challenges up ahead...set your course

Feel the rhythm let your body move
Dance and be happy what's there to lose

What reason could there possibly be
To be down hearted or unhappy
When there's a great big world ready to explore
Get out for more

Life is too short we all well know
Get yourself going don't be a no show
There's a break in the weather sun's peeking through
So much to see...lots to do

Monday, 17 October 2011

Last Days

My time in Dunedin is drawing to a close. It has been wonderful catching up with my dad, sister and her family and an old long time school friend.

Yesterday dad got his revenge at the pool table 2 - 1 in a close fought battle with changing fortunes. Could be compared to a Soap Opera the dramas that unfolded. I got one up on the pokies and made a sizable $2 profit after being down nearly $10.

Last night was the Rugby World Cup Semi-Final between the All Blacks and our Trans Tasman rivals Australia. The All Blacks were masterful in their victory which is dissected here. Now we look to France next weekend as we have an old score to settle.

Trying to shake off a developing cold so my exercise regime will be seriously hampered today. Spending some time updating blog lists, commenting on blogs and writing this post.

My sister is bringing dad around for tea which I will be preparing. On the menu tonight is a modified recipe that I cooked in my flatting university days. It happens to be a favourite with our girls and extremely easy for a limited bloke like myself to prepare. Here are the ingredients I chuck together to make my version of a Meatloaf. Takes about 45 minutes at 200 Celsius. Lovely with mashed or baked potatoes. Enjoy!

Sausage / Mince Meat
Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce
Roasted Peanuts
Grated Cheese

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Spending Time

Since arriving in Dunedin I have spent some quality time with my dad.

Our first outing was down to one of our old haunts, the Normanby Tavern to play pool and have a beer. We played about 5 games and the honours were pretty even. There were a few tense moments as the competitive nature of the games and the players took its toll. Over the years I have enjoyed spending time with dad sharing common interests. Next to the pool table were one of dad's latest pursuits, the pokies. I put in $10 into one machine and as quickly as I lost it dad collected it out of his machine. We left with me feeling deflated and dad quite pleased with the world. I drove dad back to the Little Sisters before returning to my sister's place in Waldronville.

While down here I have been fortunate to have dad's Nissan Note to drive around. Waldronville is about 10km from the Little Sisters and it has been extremely convenient to be able to flit back and forth. The car was purchased a few weeks ago under a cloud of conjecture. Dad handed in his license 2 years ago when really sick. He has not yet managed to get it back yet and it may not happen. Dad was determined to have a car and in the meantime its with my sister and available for the family to use when down in Dunedin.

Yesterday was fairly full on. I was planning to meet up with dad for lunch at the Little Sisters at 12:00. I got a call about 10:00 that mass was on at 11:00 if I wanted to join him. With a bit of a rush I managed to get there on time. I'm glad I made the effort. It was a bit emotional for me as it brought back my early year's growing up in a religious environment and heightened the reality of recent years having been away from church and the Catholic faith. I was glad I could once again share with dad what has been of vital importance in his life.

After church we had a lovely lunch with the residents put on by the Little Sisters. On completion of lunch I had a chat about the last weeks of my mum's life as sadly I had not been around when she died. At the time I was in Huntly at a half marathon race and got the call at 4 a.m that mum had died. Not great preparation! I ran that race for mum and did really well. Click here for my result. Dad explained to me that mum and him had reconciliation in their last weeks together after many years of problems.

I have found the last 2 days with dad a special time. I have 2 days to go to once again show my domination on the pool table and spend some more time at the Little Sisters. Golf will not probably happen this visit as the previous outing was a bit too big a challenge for dad to walk around the course. We had at that time played 6 holes of golf resuming old rivalries at Chisholm Park.

It is extremely reassuring that dad is being looked after by the wonderful Little Sisters that caters for his religious beliefs. I am highly impressed by the caring nature of the staff and the opportunities available to the residents to have quality, meaning and respect in their later years.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Old Friends

Last night I met up with an old school friend that I first met at the age of 10. We have been friends ever since.

We had a beer together at the Baa bar in the University part of the city. We discussed our school days, in and out of friendships, sporting successes and failures, old girlfriends, what's happened to some of those we grew up with and our recent dentistry. This was all over shooting some pool in which I was luckily victorious and he was gracious in defeat. We talked about favourite teachers and not so favourite.

I believe we appreciate each other because of the length of time and commom experiences. It's reassuring that you can have a friendship that survives through quite seperate and different llives.

I wrote a song that expresses some of the situations that children go through during their school days. Click here to listen to a snippet of an original song called School Age Friendship.

Friday, 14 October 2011

My Dad

I'm posting from Dunedin, my home town. I flew down yesterday from Wellington. My sister drove dad out to meet me at the airport. She had managed to keep it a secret. It was lovely to see dad's joy and surprise when he discovered the reason for the trip out. I had only a week ago decided after a busy school term to make the trip.

The family had got together in April to celebrate his 80th birthday. It was a special celebration made all the more memorable because only 2 years ago he'd had a life threatening heart problem and subsequent critical operation. It has been a long recuperation for him but he is now looking better than ever. Aware that time is precious triggered my decision to spend some time with my dad.

My dad and I have had a special relationship since I was little that evolved around our Catholic faith and sporting interests.

I was brought up as a Catholic and religion played a big part in my early life leading up to my entering the Seminary to train as a Catholic Priest. My mum and dad were extremely proud of their oldest boy pursuing this calling. Sadly for them I only lasted 2 years and branched out into the big bad world.

When I was growing up my dad and I did a lot together in the sporting arena with competition fierce. We both have a highly competitive streak which occasionally could get a bit nasty. My fondest memories are having dad see me score a try in rugby when I was about 10. We also for many years played regular squash games with honours pretty even.

The sporting activity that I remember best are the early morning golf outings. Through my College years dad would get me up at 5:30 once or twice a week and we would go to Chisholm Park, our favourite golf course and play 9 holes. Sadly no matter how often I played my performance never improved and dad always had the edge.

On leaving school the activity that dad and I have enjoyed most together is going to the local pub, having a beer and shooting some pool.

This now brings me back to the present. My dad now lives at the Little Sisters of the Poor as he is well looked after there. He runs the poor sisters ragged sometimes and he is the life and soul of the Home.

After my run this morning I will be driving up to the Home to take dad out once again to resume old rivalries. Although he has become a little more frail he is as sharp as a tack when he gets on the pool table. I know I will need to be on my best form to take him down. As dad and I often say May the Best Man Win and if he doesn't I'm sure he will come up with a hard luck story or equally good excuse.

What special activities do you do with your dad?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Future Star

I would like to introduce someone who I believe has great prospects for the future.

I got to know Tilly when I taught her last year as a year 3 student. She was a bright young girl who showed lots of promise academically and musically.

Last year Tilly was in my guitar group and singing group. I saw in her someone who shared a passion for music like myself but just needed to build up her self confidence. I recall a quiet shy girl singing and playing the guitar at the Waikanae School Junior Talent Show. She struggled at the time as it was a new experience to perform in front of an audience.

What a transformation this year! She once again joined my guitar group. As we played and sang during our Wednesday guitar lessons it became quickly apparent what a lovely sweet and true voice she had. So much so that I handed over the microphone to her to take the major vocals.

Over the last 2 months with my encouragement I have been seeing this reserved young talent blossom into a more confident and mature performer.

Last week she performed at our School Assembly and has just recorded 2 of my songs at school.

Please take the time to listen to Tilly performing 2 of my original songs which you can view here and here! I'm sure you will be impressed as I am!  Here is a little video clip you can watch:

I will have limited computer access over the next few days, but will be back in action next week!  Catch up soon!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Would like to share with you an article that was in this week's local paper. It reports on our girls', Kate and Alice successes in last week's Wellington College's Road Champs. We are most proud of them!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pirates and Fairies

Today Lea, Bianca and myself dressed up and visited Wellington Children's Hospital. Lea had us all organised in fairy and pirate costumes. I was the pirate in case you're wondering.

We visited Ward 18 armed with goodies and guitar and entertained some kids in the common area.  After playing You're Not Eating Me, my picture book song and several verses of Old McDonald we were asked to go to the paediatric oncology daystay area. There one of the little oncology patients was getting some of her treatment. The paediatric oncology daystay area is part of ward 18.

Bianca had a few years ago been in Ward 18 and was today wearing her beads of courage. The beads represented the many and varied treatments she'd had to fight her leukemia. I felt priveleged to be there to give some pleasure to the young children who were going through a lot of pain and discomfort.

Lea gave out some copies of my book and Bianca gave out stickers and balloons.

Here are some photos of our visit.

Paediatric Oncology day stay area - Ward 18

Monday, 10 October 2011

Safer Roads

What a beautiful day yesterday for my Sunday ride! A most enjoyable outing of 100km that took me from my home in Raumati south on SH1 through Paekakariki, Pukerua Bay and on to Eastern Porirua.

A slightly different route for me as I was taking a ride down memory lane. My first teaching job had been at Waitangirua Intermediate in Porirua. I rode by my old school and on to our first house in Whitby, where we lived when Kate was born on leaving Dunedin

Having passed down the familiar streets of Whitby I made my way to Pauatahanui to resume the more regular ride over the Paekakariki Hill to home.

Although an extremely pleasant ride it was marred by the number of crosses on the side of SH1 that brought me back to the reality of the dangers of what I love to do.

Everyday we venture on to the roads we are risking life and limb. We never know what dangers lie in wait for us. This is all too apparent to me when on my bike. Almost on a daily basis a motorist makes a poor choice or passes me too close. Unfortunately no matter how careful we are there are many out there who are not and are a menace on the road.

About 10 years ago my wife was coming home from a night shift at Wellington Hospital when an oncoming motorist crossed the centre line. The accident occurred just north of Pukerua Bay on SH1 before the median barriers were brought in. His car hit my wife's car head on. Remarkably Jo survived with merely a swollen ankle and glass in her face from the shattered windscreen.

As a result of my wife's potentially fatal accident I wrote a song called Money Taks which is on my Coming Home musical. Click here to have a listen. The song talks about the sorts of debating and arguments being tossed around at the time on the merits of putting in the barrier. My point of view would be that if they save only one life on an already identified dangerous road they surely should be put in.

Ultimately however no matter how much money is spent on making our roads safer the motorists need to be responsible to ensure the roads are as safe as possible. Motorists need to go more cautiously and defensively. They must assume that everyone else on the road might do the unthinkable at any time and be prepared to compensate for the poor decisions of others. I know as a cyclist everyday I am highly aware that motorists often don't even seem to see me at roundabouts and coming out of side roads, even with lights and reflective gear.

This blog has also been triggered by a teenager's death recently on SH1 between Otaihanga and Waikanae. Another motorist crossing the centre line on a dangerous busy road. The same debates have started up again as it did 10 years ago about the value of putting median barriers in. Can you put monetary value on people's lives? Why are we still debating?

What are your thoughts on putting in median barriers?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Is it a healthy obsession?

I was talking to a rugby league friend last night about the merits of rugby and league.

It would be true to say that we both are among a small minority who doesn't get too wound up in the success or God Forbid failure of the All Blacks.

I am a passionate sports follower and patriotic kiwi but I personally feel that the continual hype around the All Blacks is beyond a healthy addiction. Obviously I want them to win but my world won't fall apart if they don't.

New Zealand as a small nation punches well above it's weight in the sports arena and we have had and continue to have world class athletes in many and varied sports.

Along with following the Warriors in the NRL league competition I am passionate about the Black Caps cricket team and take it hard when our teams lose. I know that's sport and take the bad with the good. I know it gives kiwis a great sense of national pride when we do well but in reality it is merely sport and the results shouldn't be taken too seriously.

I would like to see New Zealanders and the media embrace other sports on a more equal basis. I would like to see us celebrate our successes in all sports. Particularly I would like to see women's sport promoted more in the media so there is a balance across the genders. We owe it to our women to value their involvement in sport. We need to use our successful sport's women as role models so that our country embraces the importance of sport for women in their participation for the health of the nation.

I've digressed! Back to more pressing and somewhat depressing matters! We've lost one of the world's best players. We're now at the knock out stage and can't afford any slip ups. For our well being let's hope and pray that the Mighty Blacks get their hands on the Rugby World Cup or the country will be in mourning for another four years.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Whew, what a relief!

The end of term! Two week's holiday! Yay! Had an enjoyable sociable wind down after school with the other teachers.

Feel quite drained from the hectic last few weeks with production and testing!

All classes had to produce a panel that reflected who we are, where we're going and what school means to us.

We decided on a space theme as we travel on our voyage to the stars. On the way we travel past the planets of learning that help us reach our destination.

Hope you like our representation of that journey!

Friday, 7 October 2011

On my mind

I participate in this feature which I found here:

 This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.
This is on my mind:

Had great pleasure having my guitar group perform at Assembly yesterday. I was really proud of them because three of the children have only been playing for a few months.

Many teachers commented on how well the children did.

As a teacher I thrive on giving children new experiences and opportunities to express and find themselves.

As a young kid I was given those opportunities in music that have moulded and help shape my life.

I thank my mum for giving me that start in life. Click here for more about my teaching the guitar.

Here is a picture of me and one of my students, Tilly performing.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Time for Celebration

Though a tiring week and term I have had cause for celebration.

Recent reading testing has shown remarkable improvement in the children in my class. I am absolutely convinced that the outstanding and unbelievable improvement is in no small part down to my Glossary programme as described in my blog titled Word Power. Makes all the long hours, weekends and frustrations worth it. I'm so proud of my efforts with them and their achievements.

The other celebration is closer to home. Tonight the family proudly supported our youngest girl as she received from the Mayor, Jenny Rowan a Civic College Community Award at Southwards. Kapiti College nominated her for her services to College Sport in Triathlon, Swimming and Running. The older sister had also won the award two years earlier and she was there tonight to share in her sister's success.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Had our Junior School Production this morning and tonight. The children did great. They've rehearsed all term and sang and performed with vigour.

The parents loved seeing their children perform!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Living on the Kapiti Coast

Nearing the end of my final year of Teacher Training in Dunedin I applied for about 80 teaching positions. The only successful application was for an interview at a Porirua Intermediate School.

The school flew me up and I was fortunate to have an excellent interview. On arriving back in Dunedin later that day I received a call informing me I had won the position.

It was a challenging and rewarding time at the school and a complete culture shock. The roll consisted predominately of Samoan children. I loved the cutural flavour and the Powhiris welcoming visitors to the school.

After 3 years I decided to apply for teaching positions with younger children that resulted in getting offered a permanent teaching job at Waikanae School in a Year 5/6 class. The school was looking for a teacher with interest in music and thankfully I have had many opportunities to share my skills.

Since coming up north from Dunedin we had been living in Whitby. With starting at Waikanae School I found after 6 months the commuting in a car pool to be inconvenient. We decided that the Kapiti Coast could be a better place to live for a young family and happily we found a home for ourselves on the Kapiti Coast.

Raumati South became our place of choice reasonably close to the beach and the local Raumati Swimming Club down the road.

Raumati South School was within 400 metres and now the girls are at Kapiti College it is merely walking distance away.

We have found Raumati South a wonderful area to bring up the girls with it's relaxed life style and sporting opportunities.

Coming from Dunedin I appreciate the more temperate climate and living near the ocean is refreshing in the summer. Enjoying the outdoors as we do I can't imagine a better place to live a healthy contented life.

My strong bond with my new home is reflected in my song titled Kapiti.

Monday, 3 October 2011


We are social beings but sometimes we struggle to connect. What makes friemdships last and what is important in a friendship?

My best friends seem to be mainly those who I struck accord with in my early years. Having a history and going through similar experiences has definitely strengthened the bond I have with those closest to me.

Keeping friendships that don't have a history appears more difficult in my case. Even with common interests it is hard to maintain regular contact with busy lives and family commitments.

More recently those friendships I've made mainly exist around involvement in a similar interest, in my case running.

This might be a bloke thing because from my observations women seem to be able to communicate more deeply and have better skills in maintaining those friendships.

Supporting each other through the hard times and giving selflessly to those you care about seems fundamental in maintaining strong bonds.

Several years ago I wrote a song in which I tried to reflect what I felt friendships were. Interestingly the children I teach have adopted the song as a reflection of their friendships. Often they embrace each other when we sing together in class which I think is real sweet. It brings me immense joy to see my music having such an emotional impact.

The song is called Best Friends Forever. Hope you like it as much as the kids do!

Would appreciate any comments about the importance of friendship.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sunday Ride

Today my planned 100km bike ride that was reported in Friday's blog On My Mind took on a new route.

When I arrived at Coastlands at 8:00 as I do most Sundays I found that the other cyclists had decided to do a hilly ride instead. The route was to be different but the distance the same. Was quite pleased to hear that news as I love the hills and I'm strong on them.

The ride set out from Coastlands south along SH1 to Paekakariki. From there we took a left turn and commenced our steady climb up Paekakariki Hill. This is where I pulled away from the other riders and continued over the hill and down past Battle Hill to Pauatahanui. After a short stop we rode over Moonshine Hill Road to Upper Hutt.

Now to my favourite part of the route over the Akatarawas. This section of the ride involves a steady 1 hour long climb to the Summit. The Akataras have been closed to traffic for 6 months due to the bridges being worked on. I had to dismount at one point and negotiate a short detour.

Having reached the Summit in one piece I enjoyed a quick descent watching carefully blind corners passing through Reikorangi to Waikanae.

I was now nearing the end of my ride. I put in a final burst along SH1 to Raumati South feeling extremely pleased with myself and knowing that I'd had an excellent ride. On arrival the home brewed coffee tasted real good. I sat down and relaxed as I prepared for the Warrior League Finals in the NRL competition knowing the lawns and vacuuming had been done the previous day.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

I wasn't always a teacher [Part 2]

When I left New Zealand in 1984 at the age of 24 I left with feelings of excitement but also uncertainty. I remember vividly the drive from Dunedin to the Airport with my grandmother in the back seat with me. We were both a bit upset because my grandmother was 80 and we were very close. There was a sense of maybe this being our last time together. As it turned out that was the case. On the plane I was somewhat anxious and was wondering what the future had in store.

I had a one way ticket to San Francisco with no onward journey. I had US$1500 and the plan was to travel across America finishing in New York from where I would fly to London. I took a 3 day excursion with the Green Tortoise Bus Company to Yosemite. We slept on the bus which was a new experience. Quite comfortable as the bus had fold out beds. An incredible place of remarkable beauty that I was fortunate enough to revisit with my family a few years ago.

During my time travelling in America I met some wonderful people who put me up and took me places.

I had some scary moments such as going for a run in Los Angeles having left all my valuables at a person's house I had only recently met. In horror after a 20 minute run I realised I was completely lost without an address. Thankfully after a while the lady I was staying with drove her car around the neighbourhood and rescued me.

I lived with a father and daughter in Atlanta for a short time. We were the only white people in the street which was quite weird for me coming from a place like Dunedin. I had had an extremely sheltered life to this point. Bus journeys into the city were interesting. I met a man who owned a red corvette who drove me around and introduced me to his family and running friends.

My longest stay was in Little Rock, Arkanas of all places. I met a couple who owned a health store called Beans, Grains and Things. We shared an interest in alternative music such as Joy Division. They were most friendly and kiwis were an unknown breed to them. In fact few knew where New Zealand was and some thought it was attached to Australia. Strangely my future wife, Jo was also living in Little Rock and shopped at Beans, Grains and Things though neither of us were aware of each other's presence there. How peculiar that we should meet up several years later at my dad's work. In Little Rock I was looked upon as a novelty item. The locals loved my accent and I always had a captive audience. I found I didn't have to pay for many drinks.

As much as I loved being in America all good things must come to an end. Also money was running out and I missed some basic things like watching cricket and eating Fish and Chips out of newspaper.

Just before leaving New York a rifle shot passed me into a shop window near Time Square. A frightening experience! Finally I got on the plane and headed for London. To be continued.