Wednesday, 30 November 2011


What is the route of this problem that is prevalent in and has infested our society?

It appears to me that we spend a lot of time criticizing and looking down on others and ultimately reject those who are perceived to be different.

I believe we are born innocent and it is only society's negativity and judging of others that breeds intolerance in our young people. They take on the values of the adult community that they grow up with and have close contact with.

As human beings we have a tendency to put down others for their beliefs, what they wear, what they look like and choices they make. I am sure that people who continually criticize others are unhappy individuals and uncomfortable in their own skin.

One of my fundamental roles as a teacher is to model acceptance of all children under my care and promote a healthy respect for others. All children are unique and special individuals. They all have the right to be heard and be valued. Society has a resposibility to show acceptance and tolerance towards others and celebrate the differences we all have.

Everyone has something special to offer. If we spend more time truly listening instead of pushing our opinions onto others the better our society will be.

Here is a song I wrote a few years ago that highlights some of our prejudices and intolerances.

Would appreciate any thoughts / reflections on the words in my song!

Have you been conscious recently of intolerance or been subjected to it?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

This Little Girl of Mine

This year I have had the pleasure of teaching Lea's daughter, Bianca. She is a bright and cheerful girl and has been an enthusiastic and capable student.
Bianca is all the more special because of what she has been through and how remarkably she has dealt with a major challenge in her life.

At the age of 4 she was diagnosed with leukemia. For 2 long years Bianca and her family battled with her cancer. Thankfully now she is a healthy young girl.

A short time ago Lea wrote a poem on her feelings about what the family had been through and posted the words on one of her blogs. I was touched by this especially with having such close contact with Bianca as her teacher.

Here are some of Lea's reflections on her writing of the poem:
''I wrote the poem the same day as it appeared on my blog (Friday 11 November) (  At the time I was busy going through Bianca's old photos (the thousands of photos we took during her treatment) to get some done for the photo display boards we had at the Funrazor and I thought to myself how far we've come with all of this.  I remember just after Bianca was diagnosed how it felt time stood completely still.  I remember it release it was simply going to be 2 and a third years.  And in the early days I often thought there was no way I could actually do all of this, but I had to.  And so I guess the poem for me summed up Bianca's journey from where she came to where she is now.  I guess it is for me a message of hope that even though it felt like time stood still, you do get to a point where you look back and realise how far you've come.  And that even though she lost a lot of the innocence at that age, she is now just a typical child doing typical things."

When Lea's Funrazor approached Sarah, a mutual friend e mailed me to ask whether I'd written a melody for Lea's poem. With only 4 days to the event I was spurred on to have a go to come up with something suitable. I am thrilled with the result. I feel my melody suits the words of Lea's poem well and I know she likes it. I was extremely proud to be able to perform our song at the Funrazor.

Here is the YouTube video that Lea has beautifully put together to match pictures with the words of 'This Little Girl of Mine'

Monday, 28 November 2011

Old Friends

We had our close neighbours Eddie and Jill over on Saturday afternoon for a pre-Xmas catch up. They are most entertaining people.

We have been in our current house for 15 years and during that time have had regular contact.

They are both heavily involved in their local church. Jill spends a lot of time visiting and helping others, including us as when we go away she keeps an eye on our cat. Eddie takes communion to those people who can't get to Mass. Eddie is keen on bowls and belongs to Raumati South Bowling Club. He can often be found serving his fellow bowlers at their Club Rooms. They both go along to a monthly bowl night and barbecue.

Eddie and Jill have been fantastic loyal friends and have taken great interest in Kate and Alice, buying Xmas presents and following their sporting successes.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

We Belong Together

On November 25 1989 my beloved and I tied the matrimonial knot.

Getting together in the first place was no easy task as we had lived quite independent lives until we met in 1987.

Jo and I had spent several years overseas prior to meeting up. Jo had nursed in Little Rock, Arkansas for 6 years and strangely I was living in the same place at the very same time but neither of us had any awareness of each other's existence. It took a few years later before we met in Dunedin. I had been in London for a few years after Little Rock and had eventually decided to go back home to Dunedin although what for I wasn't quite sure at the time.

After spending time together we slowly managed to adapt to having someone else to consider and finally realised that we had a lot in common. We also realised that life had a lot more meaning if you shared it with someone you cared about.

All these years later having had the great opportunity to be a parent to 2 lovely girls we now look to the future together without the children. I am sure that what had brought us together will keep us strong and committed to each other. I know we look forward to watching Kate and Alice live their own lives and make their own mark in the world. We are both extremely proud of the way our girls are growing up and the positive choices they are making.

Ten years ago Jo made an innocent suggestion that I should try writing songs. She didn't know what monster she had created.

Here is my original creation which obviously had to be a love song due to it's inspiration.

I hope you like my song to Jo called 'We Belong Together'

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A blog award and 7 things about me

Blackhuff nominated me for a blog award.  Thank you so much. How it works is that you tell 7 things about yourself and then pass it on to 15 other bloggers.  Don't know if I'll quite make 15 bloggers, but here goes:

7 Things about me:

1. Taking Latin at High School was one of the best decisions I have made.
2. I enjoy Table Tennis and I'm quite good at it.
3. My all time favourite actor is Dustin Hoffman because of his versatility.
4. I'm always singing. A trait I picked up from my dad.
5. School was a struggle. Through hard work I completed my Bachelor of Education and became a teacher.
6. I haven't always been slim and fit. It has taken a lot of effort and determination.
7. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is the most powerful emotional movie I have seen. I first saw it with my mum who suffered depression.

I now nominate:

Latte Junkie
Our Wee Farm
Travel with Kevin and Ruth
Ellie's Place
Buttons Thoughts
Don't Unplug your Hub
Best of Fates
Everything In Between
Affection for Fitness
Run for your life

Friday, 25 November 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:

On Sunday I am officiating at a swim meet at our local swimming pool. Our family has been involved with Raumati Swimming Club for the last 10 years who are hosting the meet.

I have moved up the ranks from Time Keeper to Inspector of Turns to the now lofty heights of Starter. I'm really talking it up because it's not really too high powered but I do enjoy it.

The role of the starter is basically what it says to start the proceedings of each race after the Race Referee has given the signal. It does at times have it's pressures when there are false starts.

Raumati Swimming Club [Alice - middle front]

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Child Play

As a teacher and parent I have had the great fortune to spend a lot of time with children and have loved the opportunities I've had to enter into their world. If the truth be known it has allowed me to bring out the kid within me.

Through teaching I have enjoyed immensely being able to tap into their imaginations and ultimately help them express what it means for them to be a child. Often their creative side is brought out through sharing music with them.

In parenthood I really loved seeing them grow through play and being able to be part of those experiences. I enjoyed their journey of self discovery and during that process I discovered myself. I watched Barney and Postman Pat religiously with the girls. Playgrounds and outings to McDonalds featured regularly, dining on Happy Meals mainly to get the free toys.

I have found myself inspired to write music as a result of my personal experiences as a teacher and parent. It has brought me pleasure to be able to share my insights with children and see them appreciate singing my songs.

I have countless treasured memories. Following is a photo of Kate with some of her favourite toys. The teddy on the left deserves a blog of it's own as there are far too many stories to tell here.

As a song writer I have written a lot of children songs. The song below talks about some of my experiences with Kate and Alice.

Click here to listen to Vigour of Youth

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday

On Sunday I was fortunate to be involved in Lea's Funrazor at Coastlands.

I played my guitar and sang with Waikanae Primary School children as part of the entertainment. I was selling my picture book 'You're Not Eating Me' and gave the profits to Child Cancer Foundation.

The highlight for me was performing the song I had written from Lea's poem called 'This little girl of mine'. It had only been written 4 days previously so I needed my words in case I forgot them. It was a thrill to see the positive response from Lea as I am extremely proud of our song.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Motherly Love

As devoted as I am to our girls I know it can't compare to the special bond that Jo has with them.

Being a mother with it's strong biological connection cannot possibly be replicated by the father. When the girls are in times of need it is the mother that they naturally go to who understands them better than anyone. I know I'm making generalisations but typically a mother will put her children ahead of anyone else including themselves.

When the children were young I was very much a hands on dad. I regularly played with them, gave them piggy backs and looked out for notes for the tooth fairy. With the passing of time and the girls growing into young adults our roles as parents have greatly changed. Jo as the chief organiser is highly involved in managing their schooling and extra curricular activities.

The girls do know that I care for them deeply and I take a great interest in their sport and their boyfriends. I must say they have made fantastic choices in both areas. They know I am there if they need someone to talk to and their mother is busy :)

Here are some early photos of the motherly bond between Jo and Kate. Sorry Alice but your turn will come when I find some early photos of you.

Click here to have a listen to Innocent Creatures that I wrote about being a parent!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Running Mate's 50th

Having been there a couple of years ago myself I felt I should offer a running mate commiserations on having reached this less than honourable milestone.

Although getting older for most has rather negative connotations for the runner it takes on special significance. Every 5 years we are reborn into a new racing age category where we no longer have to worry about younger and faster runners. Our prime focus is beating those in our age group and it's an extra bonus if we manage to take out some younger runners in the process.

Liam Healey has been a stalwart for Wellington Harriers and indeed Wellington Province for several decades and actually began competing when he was a young fella. He has represented the province numerously and won regional and national medals. Liam has also competed admirably at an international level. I had the good fortune of running with him at the Mt Kinabalu Climbathon in the 90's which was a run that took us from 2000 metres [over 1 mile] altitude up to 4000 metres [2 and a half miles] and back down. A particularly gruelling event. Such is the competitive nature of Liam that he needed oxygen at the finish line having completely spent himself.

Anyway back to the party. I felt priveleged to be invited to this auspicious occasion and celebrate his joining my age group. I know I will have to remain vigilant in my preparations for next year's harriers as I'm sure there will be even more friendly rivalry between us. Liam, welcome to the 50's club. Roll on the National Road Relays in Nelson 2012!

Here are some of the highlights of Saturday evening.

Birthday Boy

Super Characters

This food is sure good

This is doing nothing for my waist line

Time for some fireworks

Happy Birthday to you

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Becoming a Teacher

Who would have thought that this handsome young fellow would end up a teacher responsible for other young people's lives?

By the way I'm the one on the left

Well I know my parents certainly didn't. They had much loftier ideas that their oldest might become a priest. I don't know if that's quite a fair assumption on my part but I know they were extremely proud of me when I entered Holy Name Seminary in Christchurch.

Usual church group but not usual dress attire [that's me lying down]

When I left the Seminary I did a variety of jobs in Christchurch, Dunedin and overseas. I can now see Lea saying ''where is 'I wasn't always a teacher 3'?'' I'm sorry Lea, I know it's well overdue but the London excursion will have to wait a little longer as it's a biggy with lots of photos and stories.

So skipping 2 and a half years I arrived back in Dunedin with my XJS Jaguar.

Isn't she a beauty? It broke my heart to sell her!
  Sadly I had to sell it due to a cash flow crisis. After a year of unemployment I met Jo who promptly told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn't going to waste her time on someone with no future. To be fair what she actually said is unprintable!

Just the shake up I needed! Behind every good man is a good woman so I instantly obeyed and from a casual conversation with a teaching friend I entered Dunedin Teachers' College.

It took me a while to grow into the idea that this was what I was destined to do. It was only after a few years in the real teaching world that I realised I had a passion for my new career. I knew I had found the best possible job for me. On previous blogs I have talked about the pleasure I get from inspiring children and sharing in their worlds. As people who know me would probably agree I'm really just a big kid myself.

To be able to spend my days having fun working with the little ones I've been entrusted and learning along side them gives me a great sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Here are some photos of my official teacher registration presentation in Porirua while working at Waitangirua Intermediate.

Thankyou very much!

A proud moment indeed. Glad it's over!

Really I've got an itchy nose!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Young and the Wreckless

I must admit I haven't always been this sensible and together. Although there is probably quite a bit of debate out there whether I am either of the two.

Some of my colleagues have at times questioned my sanity as I race out in all weathers running or on my bike.

However in my past one of the most exhilerating and dangerous times were when I was out on my Honda 350 motorbike as mentioned in Men and their Motors.

As fun as it was owning a motorbike I count myself rather fortunate to be still here. Like many other bikers I probably took a few too many risks. I have skidded on wet and greasy roads, hit gravel on bends and found myself at the mercy of other motorists.

Along with the dangerous experiences I had a lot of fun riding my 350 in the summer months with a gentle breeze blowing on my face. I had a particularly enjoyable 3 days with my cousin, Gerard touring in the South Island when I was in my early 20's.

By the time I hit my 30's my motorbike days were behind me as I began to realise that I'd had a charmed life to this point and I wanted to continue that life a bit longer.

Apologies for the blurry photo but it's old and I had to get it on to my digital camera.

Gerard's bike on the left, mine on the right

Friday, 18 November 2011


Looking forward to Lea's Funrazor on Sunday!

I will have 13 children singing with me at Coastlands, Paraparaumu. I will be playing my guitar and we will sing songs that go with my You're Not Eating Me book. The book / c d price is $15 with $5 of every sale going to Child Cancer Foundation.

Lea has organised spot prizes and lots of fun activities. It is going to be a special day!

Tilly, one of my students from last year will be singing a few songs with me.

Tilly and myself at a recent school assembly

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Springing to Life

As spring's promising rays chase away winter blues I took the opportunity to take some shots of the flowers around our house. Jo has toiled away for many years to create a picturesque garden and I thought I should show off some of the fruits of her labour.

Start of the Plums on our Plum Tree below

Looking for a good crop this year

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday

The years have gone by so fast. Kate is doing her final exams and is off to Massey University, Palmerston North next year. Alice has just 2 more short years before she leaves the nest. Alice found this photo recently of their young days.
We often wonder 'where did the time go?'

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Being in a Club

Some of the most important decisions I've made in my life have been joining clubs.

When I was of high school years I didn't have a lot of friends and as a result spent a lot of time by myself and with my family.

I discovered an interest in playing chess during those years and due to a somewhat empty social calendar decided to join the Otago Chess Club who met on a Friday night. With math being one of my favourite subjects I found that I easily adapted to a game that required logical thinking and great reserves of patience.

On leaving school I joined up with Caversham Harriers in Dunedin. My love for running was firmly cemented with being with other like minded people and the opportunities to test out whatever athletic prowess that had been awaiting release.

When I was on my big travelling excursion overseas I hooked up with a running group in Atlanta where I established contacts with the local runners. One of these guys was a black American who I have fond memories of driving around with in his red corvette and meeting his lovely family.

On arrival in London and not knowing anyone I made the best decision possible to contact a running club that I saw advertised on a community message board. That contact I made ended up with my getting a job and becoming a member of a fantastic running group called Thames Valley Harriers. What I loved about being in this club was that I got to meet a different social network than I would have if I had just remained a kiwi travelling overseas. A lot of kiwis and Australians often predominately hang out with others of their like. I found TVH an extremely friendly, supportive and encouraging club to be part of. I also was looked up to because I began to compete at a high level where I gained places in some races and actually won the prestigious Welwyn Garden City Half Marathon in 96 degree temperature.

In more recent times I have been a member of Olympic Harriers, Wellington when I first moved up north. On starting school at Waikanae I joined the Kapiti Harriers. Our local club was fantastic for our girls growing up as they got to meet up with other children and had opportunities to compete locally and regionally.

More recently and for quite a few years now I have been a member of Wellington Harriers. I joined this club because it has a strong masters running section and I have had a lot of success competing with them. They are also a great bunch of guys and contact with them has lifted my social calendar dramatically although distance sometimes hampers my involvement in their arranged activities. However they keep me informed and I try to get to as many gatherings as possible.

This Saturday one of the club's most successful runners, Liam Healey is celebrating his 50th birthday party. I am looking forward to catching up with him and other members of the Masters team there. We will be talking up past victories and watching some highlight packages of former glory days.

Apologies to those who have seen this photo before. It is a recent photo of the Wellington Harriers Masters group on a Saturday summer run along Waikanae Beach.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Ballet

A month ago Jo talked me in to going to the Russian Ballet.

Last night we drove in to Wellington to see an evening performance. As we passed the Railway Station Alice called out ''Oh my gosh! If you look over there to the right, it's a picture of me!'' She was referring to this Billboard.

When we could find a suitable place to turn around we headed back to the Station to have a closer look. The picture had been taken 2 years ago when Alice at the age of 13 had finished third woman behind Kate who was second, aged 16. Far too good an opportunity to let it go to waste. Thankfully I had my camera, as with this new blogging hobby of mine I have found myself taking it almost everywhere with me.

The Russian Ballet was at the St James Theatre.

A lovely old style concert hall that I unfortunately was not allowed to film in. It was a fabulous show with incredible dancers. I'm sure glad I was talked in to it and ventured out of my sceptical comfort zone.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday Ride - Aka Block

The Kapiti Cycling Club met as usual at Coastlands on a lovely spring morning. There were only six of us today with others involved in a race. It was decided that our group would take on the Aka 100k Block.

Our course involved lots of hills and today I had a new member of the club, Todd and a visitor from Wellington, Julian to work with on the hill climb sections of the Paekakariki Hills, the Haywoods and the Akatarawas.

This course is quite challenging in places. It is one of my favourite rides due to the hills, the scenery and the places it takes us. The ride goes through Paekakariki, Pauatahanui, Upper Hutt, Reikorangi, Waikanae and returning along SH1 to Paraparaumu.

I was most satisfied to get back home in good shape as I haven't done many long rides over the last 2 months.

Here are some pictures of how my cycle ride looked today.

Coastlands Start

Paekakariki Township

Paekakariki Road after reaching top

Blurry Kapiti Island


Top of Haywoods

Upper Hutt turn off to Akatarawas and Waikanae

Akatarawa Summit

Reikorangi Valley

Reikorangi Church

Ready for a short burst home along SH1

For those interested it took 3 hours 50 minutes to complete the ride. A more than respectable time but importantly a most enjoyable ride.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Long Saturday Hill Run 25km [15 miles]

I like to do a long run on Saturday mornings of about 2 hours.

It was a gloomy overcast day today. Certainly nothing new about that on the Kapiti Coast lately although yesterday was lovely. 

I like to include hills on my long runs as it is a great strengthening endurance workout. I headed for the Maungatukutuku Hills as is customary and after a 2km climb to the top enjoyed some gentle ups and downs along the ridge line before descending back down across SH1 and home. On the homeward journey there is some lush country farmland that the farmer has allowed me to use. I'm glad that I don't have to run home along the highway. I have included some farmland shots of the return trip. Due to the cloudy weather I decided I would wait for a better day to show off the beautiful tracks I run on and the magnificent views.

As you can see from the greeness of the grass we get more than our fair share of rain.