Friday, 22 December 2017


It's been a while since I've written here. I guess I don't have too much more to say. I am well settled into my sober life and well settled into my lovely new home. Getting prepared for our first Christmas here and looking forward to a quiet and simple one without too much hype. I want to make Christmas far more about the connection and togetherness of family than about contributing to the endless unnessessary consumerism and waste that will mainly end up as landfill all over the world, contributing to the rapid destruction of our planet. My sister put on a lovely pre Christmas lunch for our other sister and one brother and me the other day, and it was so nice to spend that time together and eat special food and talk and laugh and share what's going on in our worlds. I loved that it wasn't about gifts. It is good that we have mostly let that part of it go. I'm looking forward to spending a relaxing Christmas day with my children and their partners. I haven't quite let the gift part of it go in their case, they'd probably shoot me!

I've been busy over here the last few months in the gardens, with help of course, creating a San Pedro cacti garden by transplanting many large ones from a little rental house I have in the city. They are in a big 33 metre planter at the base of the retaining wall, and I've planted a variety of interesting succulents at their base. The cacti seem to be thriving and have got new bits already sprouting forth all over the place and nearly all of them are budding up ready to flower, and it looks like those flowers will be blooming any day. I've been bordering other gardens with rocks, some from my garden in the city and some from the Duvauchelles quarry, and had a watering system installed which is a godsend. I have to be careful how much water I use as it is a restricted daily amount. I just realised how I sound like a boring old lady talking about her garden. Perhaps I am. I have never created one from scratch before. It was at first absolutely daunting and I completely doubted my ability to achieve it. But I am liking what I've created and I hope it will fulfil my vision of what it might look like in a few years. Simplicity is the key for me, gentle grasses billowing in the breeze, some flaxes, casual, easy, hopefully independent one day!

How I feel is mostly quite at peace. It's lovely. Being here has changed how I approach my life. It has made me appreciate my time more and use it more wisely. It has helped me to live in the moment more. If it is a beautiful still day outside, it is suddenly not urgent to be at my desk, that can wait, while I take a glass of cold water out onto the deck and sit a while appreciating the beauty of the nature around me, being truly grateful for what I have here, and for the courage I found to embark upon it, and for my son whom I couldn't have done it without, and for my daughter who lights me up with her visits. 

My business has got a new momentum of it's own too. It is going well. My dear friend Dave has left, he is nearly 76. I panicked, of course, and sold about five caravans as a knee jerk reaction and a fear that I could not do this without him. All that did was give me a pocket full of money with which to start my next project, without taking anything much away from my income as they are never all rented at once. By a chance conversation with Gloria, I have now got a fabulous new maintenance man, Nick, who is very experienced, honest, enthusiastic and capable, and loves his new job. So all is well there. However, I am very saddened to have news from Dave two days ago that he has had a heart attack and is in hospital. Then last night, news that my delivery man of many years, John, who left about 6 months ago, has had a stroke and is a bit laid up and wobbly with that. I am shocked, and not sure how to feel about it. Did they stay too long? or is that when they left things started packing up? I suspect the latter and have told them both when they are recovered they'd better come back to work! I’ve loved having these fabulous men in their seventies work for me the last 5 or 6 years, their knowledge and experience has been invaluable, and their humour has always brightened my days.

Early in the new year a new project begins, the total renovation of my humble but gorgeous wee home in Diamond Harbour, that is sadly cracked and broken still, from all the earthquakes. I got a fairly decent pay out to fix it up but it all got sucked up into this build, so I have to finance it myself now. I've got a good team on board and feel quite excited. It is all part of my master plan, and will probably be sold to help pay for this home.

I am still loving waking up each day feeling alive and happy and content and ready to achieve good things. I find continual clarity of mind the most under-rated human condition of all, I think. As when you don't have it you don't know what you are missing, or that you are missing anything at all, let alone something vital and wonderful. 

This week I passed the three and half year mark since I kicked the booze to the curb.

I can't say I have any regrets. I have just one life, one body, one heart, one mind, and one soul. 

I am going to treat my body, my heart, mind and soul as the precious gifts that they are.
I hope to do this always. 

Friday, 27 October 2017


It's been over four months now since I moved here. It's been great watching the seasons change from winter to spring and getting lots of salubrious and sultry days with the water like glass and the sun pelting down with not a breath of wind until later in the day. 

Growth in all ways is a beautiful thing, and there has certainly been some of that internally. However, growth in the garden remains a somewhat hideous challenge for me. The weeds are now bigger than the plants I planted and it all seems just too big, too steep and too daunting, and I am procrastinating badly. However, Rory came on Tuesday, bless him, and weed-eated around all of the plants and will come back next week and carefully spray wherever there are no plants. I have always consciously avoided spray, don't like poisons at all (apart from my previous passion for booze of course, and a few drugs). It is rather shameful what a turncoat I have instantly become when the alternative is to spend the rest of my days in the garden (which mainly consists of very steep tall banks) weeding my life away. Just not my thing I'm afraid. It's  enough for me just to keep up with the watering! I was a bit over zealous on that front last week and managed to run my tank dry! Progress has been made in the San Pedro cacti department. 36 tall ones have been cut off and the ends sharpened like pencils and are lying down at Rorys place drying out before being bought here for planting. The rest will be dug out, and they will go in the 33 metre long planter out the back and get full sun for the rest of their lives. I am so looking forward to that challenging enterprise being completed, but I'm dependent on others, so I must be patient, it will happen just when they can. I hope it is soon though, it's a long wait. I also hope the cacti don't die once planted, which is always a possibility I guess. I'll be an old hand at all this with a green thumb in a couple of years I hope, but in the meantime I feel a bit out of my depth. I like to have a man when I garden. I like to point and man dig. 

The internal growth I spoke of is more like an exercise in patience and humility. In a new community, without children to connect you with others, without alcohol lubricating the way into a social life, without living right in amongst the community, and being 61 instead of 30, it is a little harder to integrate oneself and begin new friendships. I have been making an effort though. I had a good time during the French Festival. I volunteered and was put on the merchandising stall selling French berets, flags, posters and caberet tickets. The Friday night was a fun party in the street with a live band, lots of dancing and revelling, much local comeraderie, and the stall was very busy. On the Saturday it rained but still quite busy. They gave me a French beret and a ticket to the caberet in the big marquee. I ran into an old Akaroa primary school friend during the day who was attending on his own so we agreed to meet at the door and sit together, which was fun, and we laughed and chatted away with ease. During the evening I ran into Al Park and his girlfriend Mel who were geared up to sleep in their car up in the hills. It was pouring with rain so I invited them to stay. We left the caberet quite early and had a real nice time here around the fire talking and getting to know each other better, until about 2am. They insisted on taking me for breakfast in Akaroa the next morning. 

A couple of weekends later Al invited me to go to the Rhododendron Gardens in Little River, owned by an old hippie friend of his. The gardens were in full bloom and open to the public that day and Al was providing some ambient music on the veranda as a favour for his friend. So off I went, and had a lovely afternoon in the most beautiful setting and it turns out the owner, Bruce, is an old friend I knew back in the eighties and hadn't seen for 37 years! He even helped Mum and Dad move into Clearbrook Farm, as both my brothers were away I think. The music was mellow, the sun shined down, the gardens were gorgeous. I remembered I had seen Al Park play once at the Town Hall before Marianne Faithful came on, one of his more memorable gigs. I had a curry in the slow cooker for Al and Mel so invited Bruce as well and we all had a nice meal together and lots of chat and humour. Bruce left, Al, Mel and I stayed up quite late, then in the morning they took me on a big hike up to the Whakamate Waterfall in the Hinewai Reserve. It was a long uphill climb starting from Long Bay, quite a challenge for un-fit little me, but I managed it and felt great afterwards, and we had a picnic up at Akaroa's version of Stone Henge. So yeah, new connections are being made, slowly but surely, and even though none of these people live here, it is nice to be making some new friendships.

 I am doing okay. I am grateful every single day for the beauty of nature. How can one feel too alone when they have the company of the ever changing sea to look at every day, and the sunrises and sunsets which are so much more noticed here, and the hills with their jagged outlines meeting the sky. It is a beautiful, quiet, safe and tranquil little piece of paradise. I have been here four months, and that is a tiny space of time in the grand scheme of the rest of my life. 

I am lucky. And "No thank you, I don't drink". Don't even think about it all that much any more.

Sunday, 10 September 2017


It's 5.00am Monday morning and I've been awake for ages thinking about the amazing weekend I've had. I hosted a sober gathering for 14 friends from the Living Sober crew. I had some of them stay here and we hired my sisters and my nephews homes to house the rest of them. They all wanted to come and see my new home so it was a good excuse for a get together. Wow! It has been just perfect. It could not have been better in any way, there is nothing at all I would change. The warmth and kindness, the raw truth and honesty, the continuous humour, the stories and the laughter. The food, the bounty of huge sides of freshly caught Akaroa salmon supplied by my friend, the effortless flow of my new kitchen and the easy comfort of everyone helping. The resident barrista who bought her own coffee machine and kept everyone very happy with her continuous and generous supply. The quiet late night guitar and beautiful singing of our wonderful friend, and the powerfully sweet sound of all our voices quietly blending in singing Hallelujia and Here Comes the Sun. Hundreds of small conversations allowing us to know each other better, the feelings of closeness, trust and understanding. The safety of each other's company. The pride in Rory, who stayed for several hours the first day. Everyone just loving the home he has created for me and enjoying getting to know him after hearing so much about him for the last couple of years. 

There is a richness in my soul this morning as I look back and remember all the precious moments we have shared. The spirit of our laughter, the strength of our growing friendships, and the power of our connection has seeped into the walls and floors and ceilings of my home, making it warmer, richer, and filling it with memories of love and kindness and humour. I am so grateful to all who travelled so far to be here and share this weekend with me. I will never forget it.

A lovely long skype session with Mrs D who spoke to every one of us and then got me to take her on a virtual tour of the house, which I was hopeless at and she probably saw more ceilings and floor than anything else. A really nice wind down after most had left, with just three of us sitting by the fire and discussing the highlights, sharing some more food and feeling empowered by the experience we've had. And then just one staying a little longer, prolonging her drive home to Christchurch, and discovering we had a rainbow hovering above. A magic little moment to end a beautiful weeeknd. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


I'm sitting up in bed very early, with the curtains drawn back, waiting for the dawn. Just 5 or 6 lights shining a reflection into the water across the bay, and a very few scattered lights on the hillside. So different from a big cityscape of lights. Beautiful in its quiet smallness and simplicity. Soon I will have a bath, and from there I also have amazing views which give me such a feeling of richness within. Nature in all its glory, after city life for the last 12 years, is so very welcome back in my every day life.

Spring is officially here tomorrow but it's already started and it's wonderful to be having beautiful warm days lately, although it's raining just now. The boys laid the ready lawn last week and it is like putting the icing on the cake. I just love it and it looks amazing and really finishes the place off. Been doing some more planting too with the help of a lovely lady who Rory met at the dump and introduced me to.
The corten steel cladding is now finished and starting to rust and although it won't be to everyone's taste it is certainly floating my boat bigtime. Oh, and on my way home last night I picked up my beautiful copper sculpture after the exhibition ended at the Little River Gallery. It is an extravagence for sure, but one I will enjoy forever, and the money is justified by the fact that I could have drank and smoked the same amount in about 10 weeks.

Next weekend I'm having a gathering of some of our sober clan from Living Sober. There will be 16 of us if they all make it, and we are renting my sisters and my nephews houses to help accommodate them all. They are keen to check out the new house and it's a good excuse for a get together. It is quite an honour to have them all wanting to come, as they are coming from Auckland, Hamilton, Perth, Wellington, Blenheim, Dunedin and Christchurch. Most of them have witnessed me dreaming about building this house, pulling the pin for a while, then deciding to bite the bullet and get on with it, and the rest is history. They've been there, listening, sharing in the triumphs, and the pride I have in my son Rory the builder, the frustrations and anxiety sometimes, and the joy in seeing it all come together, so its awesome that they will be here now to occupy and share in it for the weekend. What I love about these new friendships is we are all like a bunch of licorice allsorts, so very different from one another but with a bond of trust and loyalty and honesty second to none. These people, my new sober friends, they really "get it". They understand what a big deal it is to be living a life with no booze ever. Mostly it is just fine and its my normal way of being now, it's not as if I think about it all the time or wish for my life to be different. But it is good to feel understood. It is good to be around people who have walked the same path and know the myriad of emotions involved in arriving at this place of inner freedom.....and staying here. 

The booze will always hold that lure for me. When I crave it I really crave it. I almost smell it and taste it, and I imagine that liquid honey sliding down my throat, and the feeling as it takes it's effect, and I long for it sometimes, still. But I don't ever long for all the crap that goes with it. I don't long to be less of myself because of it. I don't long to get loud and raucus and talk shit. I don't long to wake up and feel like going back to sleep because I don't want to face the day. I don't long to live with that nagging knowledge that I have a problem and I need to deal with it. 
I absolutely LOVE the freedom from all of that, and if it comes with the small cost of occasional cravings and a way smaller social life, I will live with that. I will also find the advantages in that. One is that it is way easier to make this transition to come and live here in beautiful Takamatua, where I have no friends, yet, and definately no social life, because I am already well used to my life being way smaller in the ways of social interaction. I am preferring quality over quantity. I am enjoying my own company too. I am getting things done. I still see my children as often as before and that is what matters. I am taking a leaf out of Charles Bukowski's poems and appreciating my solitude. I am okay. I am enough.

Thursday, 3 August 2017


I've woken this morning bright and early with an amusing little epiphany. I was reading an article last night which linked solitude to creativity, so I am hoping I may become inspired creatively at some stage. 

Then I thought in the meantime I shall just continue to write my blog, even if it isn't so much about alcohol or the lack of it any more. It is about my life as I go forward without it. Then that led me to think about my life now as being on an even keel. No big highs and no big lows. Then of course that led me to think about a life of drinking, my previous life in fact, as being quite similar in a sense to very rapid cycling bi polar. Sailing along on an even keel for a day or so, then getting on it and having a major high episode, talking loudly, getting over excited, doing and saying things we probably wouldn't normally, sometimes getting a bit out of control, lots of laughter, or sometimes hot headedness, impatience, or anger. Possibly saying hurtful things to someone close in the heat of the moment. Sometimes just having fun, dancing, laughing and feeling happy. Then bed. Then wake up. Feeling low. Feeling lots of feelings that go with feeling low. Physically under par, feelings of remorse, guilt, shame, nagging worry, regret, sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness, all leading to feeling a mini-depression for the day. We battle on through, then towards the end of the day we decide to make ourselves feel good again, and away we go on a new tangent. Often they are just mini tangents where there is no bad behaviour, no particular excess and it's quite mellow, but another little drinking tangent it is, and underlying nagging worry and guilt accompanies it, for me. Have a few more and that mostly goes away, until the morning, or more often the middle of the night! Having close links to someone with bi polar I am qualified to make this comparism. I don't mean in any way that is actually anything to do with being bi polar. I just woke with the similarity in my mind. Like a mini version of it. For someone like me. Bi polar is something a person is born with. Some argue that alcoholism is too. Whatever the truth is in that, with bi polar a person has no choice. With alcohol they do.

So all of that led me to look at my life now, three years down the track of being sober at all times.

Although it has been a very emotional and enlightening journey, facing everything that life dishes up to me, good or bad, with my feet planted firmly on the ground, never once altering my state to soften hurt feelings or bad news, or to lift my spirits (funny wee pun) in times of sadness or in celebration, or to ease feelings of pressure and stress after a hard day's work. Or to cut loose and join in with friends and family and enjoy the familiar loosening up and fun and camaraderie and communication created by sharing an evening of drinking together. The latter is what I miss the most, sometimes achingly so. I think it is very sad that I don't fit in to anyone's life much anymore. Just because I don't drink. It says more about them and about our culture and our society than it does about me, I think.

So here I am, living in solitude a lot of the time, in the home I have designed, bespoke for me, with the help of an excellent and creative architect, and the tremendous effort, skill and passion of my adorable and generous son Rory, and many of his friends who've worked on it in their various professions. Now that this project nears completion I am hoping that soon some new creativity will enter my sphere and inspire me. 

In the meantime I am living my life on an even keel. I feel strong, good, quite alone not surprisingly, it's me that put me here where I know almost no one. It is beautiful here, kind of empowering, and I feel way more peaceful in these surroundings. I know I have set myself up for a fulfilled and purposeful life. I will be patient, grateful, and hopeful while that unfolds.

My rudder is steady.

Saturday, 22 July 2017


It's cold and raining this morning and the power has gone off. Last night the Takamatua beach road was flooded so I was stranded if I had of wished to get out, which I didn't, so that was fine. It is a pretty serious storm going on out there, a state of emergency has been called for Christchurch, Banks Peninsula, Timaru and Dunedin, much flooding and slips on some of the highways. At this point there doesn't seem much point in getting up, but when I do I will feel glad that I chose a gas cooker and have a gas fire as well as a heat pump. It will be interesting to see if I can light the fire without electricity as it stupidly runs with a remote that I think requires electricity to ignite. I shall find out soon.

I woke this morning with a strong sense of trusting my intuition. It was right out there in the forefront of my mind. Trust. You see I don't really know what I'm doing with my business, or my life and future right now. In fact I've been winging it in every way for so long now, with the goal being simply to build this home and make this move, which wasn't at all simple and has been all consuming for some time. Now that I'm here, and the purpose and goal has been achieved, it leaves me room to ponder what is next. I find it exciting to not have a particular plan, to be open to whatever feels right. I'm kind of over my caravan rental business, but after spending a good hour on the calculator yesterday, and even with the most optimisitc slant on the facts, it is clear to me that I can't afford to not continue it. I do not have a magic wand to wave (yet) that gives me a secure income, and the ability to live here with no money worries. That is the next goal I guess. The one thing I do know is that no matter what it has cost, coming here feels so good and so right, and although it will take time to adjust and to feel a part of a community, I am prepared for that, and I know deeply that I am in exactly the right place and at the right time of my life. This is very reinforcing, and a good feeling to wake up with today. And right this second the power has just come on. I am glad I used the time wisely by getting these thoughts down on my tablet from the comfort and warmth of my cosy bed, with the view to die for, even if it is all stormy and foggy and rugged out there, it's just another aspect of the ever changing character of the harbour.

Feeling lucky. Now to get up and sieze the day. I'll go for a wee drive and observe the damage around the area. I am probably still stranded I would imagine. Slips and road closures yesterday. Not much easing up overnight it would seem, and forecast to be relentless today. The house feels good and strong and safe.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Today it is 3 years since any alcohol has passed my lips and entered my bloodstream and played havoc with my brain. Today I am very proud of that fact. Today I can reflect back, with much relief and no regret, and see clearly the path I have walked these last three years.
Here I sit at my black granite and wrought iron table with my pot of organic lemon and ginger green tea, with Aunty Mary's beautiful bone china tea cup and saucer, looking out at the familiar beauty of the hills and sea and sky. As a child this outlook was all I'd ever known, so it didn't occur to me to be grateful for it every day. It certainly does now though. Every single morning when I wake I throw my curtains open and look with enormous gratitude at the few orange lights across the water as I slowly watch the dawn arrive. I vow never to take for granted the privilege it is to live here, to have built my home here, and to have taken alcohol out of my life, and discovered with wonderment, a life of happiness, contentment, fulfillment, clarity and peace.

At three years sober I am also grateful for the friends I have made who walk the same brave path, swimming against the tide of what our culture has taught us is the way to live. It wasn't an easy lifestyle to give up, and I can see why people remain stuck in their habits forever. It is easier to do what we have always done, to have what we have always had, than take away something central to our very being, our way of life, leaving an almighty gap filled with vulnerability, uncertainty, time to fill, self reflection, and social rejection, or at the very least non-inclusion. It's tough alright, and it takes a long time to battle the extreme emotions, and for me the aloneness, of living life real and raw. When you have a feeling you sit with it, look at it, feel it, understand it, accept it, it passes. All this is done very consciously, unlike the unconscious way we have used alcohol to dull or numb our it a stressful day, or something huge like a death or the end of a relationship. Or be it a happy occasion, a celebration, we have still used alcohol to dull our brains. That is what it does, it puts a carcinogenic poison into our bodies and bloodstreams and brains and changes our personalities and compromises our health. There can be no denying of that fact, even though it's fun at the time......and seems acceptable because everybody does it, and the very idea of it is rammed home to us on a daily and hourly basis with media hype, magazines, TV, movies, all forms of advertising, peer pressure and social media. Such is the drinking culture we have all grown up with. Not many choose to question it. I am pleased to be one that did.

So, today I am very happy that I took alcohol out of my life, and have made it to three years free of it.
I am happy with who I am, where I am, and how I spend my time. I am especially happy that as a direct result of me giving up drinking, my son Rory has given it up and stuck to it, and is now in his 19th month alcohol free. I am extremely proud of all he has achieved here building my home, his first build, and with his trademark "Passion for Perfection" the beautiful job he has done for his Mum. I am even more proud of his courage as a man, to choose to live a life so different to all of his friends and to walk that walk. He has no regrets. He is amazing. A legend!

Sent from Samsung tablet

Friday, 23 June 2017


Wow! the feeling of peace that I have here is amazing. I love it. I feel a warmth and contentment and a kind of knowing I'm where I belong, and it feels lovely.
It's been a huge week. Getting out of the old villa in the city and having all my belongings delivered here in a big truck, with my wee mini cooper all loaded up, and Brenda's car too, and then the mighty unload! Been unpacking boxes and bags for 3 days, and by the end of today we've pretty much nailed it and got everything in it's place, and it's great because there seems to be a place for everything. Yesterday was pouring with rain and Rory stayed all day with us working inside with his new lazer, helping us hang all the pictures and my big sunburst clock. Very high tech picture hanging, he went the extra mile and did an amazing job. Today I completed hanging the curtains which were unfortunately made incorrectly and needed some major alterations, but all good now. It felt so cozy and homely tonight sitting by the fire with Brenda and watching old Beatles and Elvis clips on YouTube for the whole evening, and talking and eating and laughing and drinking watermelon Hopt soda, and later licorice tea. Booze may have added a familiar false reality for a while, louder voices, talking nonsense eventually, a sense of fun I guess, but I didn't need to add anything at all to the feelings of contentment, genuine love and friendship shared, and our happiness with this home. 

I am so grateful to have had Brenda here to help me with the transition at both ends.....emotionally as well as with the practicalities, of which she is an expert. Last Saturday when I bought her over with her sister Kathe for the night, and she saw the house for the first time almost completed, and we walked through it up to my room, she got overwhelmed with emotion, that I really had done it, made my dream come true, and she had tears, which made me have tears and we stood in my room hugging and crying and laughing. It was a beautiful moment and one I will always remember with much love. I will miss her when she goes tomorrow.

My Georgia is coming over tomorrow and I'm so looking forward to getting all cosy with her here, and having lots of time to listen and talk and be together. I'm hoping Rory will come back over too, not to work, just to be here with us in the home he has created for us all. I have a very special gift which I am looking forward to giving to him, and tomorrow would be perfect. It is a saw, beautifully carved by an old man, which I found in an antique shop about a year ago. I have had a little brass plate engraved and put on it's handle....Rory, with enormous love and pride. Mum. June 2017. 

It's nearly 1.00am and hey to sleep I go in my lovely soft and cosy brand new bed, where I can look out the side windows from my pillows and see the orange light on the wharf and it's reflection in the water. I could see lots of lights at Duvauchelles and Ngaio Point if I wanted to, but I've drawn my gorgeous new curtains and I feel all cozy and safe. As soon as I wake in the morning, while it is still dark, I will draw them back and watch the dawn. Life is good, and I am grateful.

Sent from Samsung tablet

Monday, 12 June 2017


Wild horses couldn't drag me away yesterday from the peace and sunshine in Takamatua, so I'm still here, and what a glorious day it is too. The morning sun warmed my face while sitting at my breakfast bar at my cool new benchtop. By about 10am I had to change into a t-shirt and sat outside on the deck for a while doing some emails. I've discovered the reason I bought a swivel round armchair, even though I didn't think of it at the time. Instead of facing the fire I can just swivel it round a wee bit and catch all the sun pouring in through the big open double doors. The sky is blue, the sea is calm, and all is still and quiet. If I wanted a sun tan I could get one right here, right now. On an armchair in my lounge room. In the middle of June!

The afternoon is here now and Rory and Andy are working away outside, and the curtain people have arrived and are installing my curtains. I've come up to my room to get out of their way while they're working. I have the double doors open to the deck and the sun is warming my feet. Every room here is so light. It makes me realise how dark my old villa is, with it's not so very good lighting, and what a difference it makes to have all that winter sun and light coming into my rooms.

I have not properly moved in yet but I've been here since Friday and it feels amazing. I am so happy with what we have created here, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will never want for another home. This is it for me. I know there will be times when it will feel too quiet and I will feel too alone, but I also know those times won't last forever, so I will make the most of the freedom I have, to do exactly as I please, and I will wait for life to bring me what I need.

I trust absolutely that I am exactly where I am meant to be in my life at this moment.
I am very grateful.

Sent from Samsung tablet

Saturday, 3 June 2017


On Friday a truck took all the beds and some of the furniture over to the new house. It was the best day ever for me. I so loved it. To put my wrought iron day bed (that I designed and had made about 13 years ago) in the alcove designed specially for it was a real moment of my vision coming to fruition. I had a very good artist, Stephanie McEwan, paint a beautiful mural of white anemones amongst tree trunks, with some greenery and water on the two walls beside it. I love it. The main lounge wall was designed specially to house my 18th century round Chinese bookcase/shelves, and the feeling of setting it up and putting my lamp and art glass and other bits and pieces on it was the most satisfying fun I've had in such a long time. It really has been such a long time since I first started working with the architect to design this home, 4 years to be exact. It is difficult to describe what it feels like to be finally beginning to move in. 

I slept my first night in my brand new bed with brand new bedding, aaah bliss! and it's one of those beds where I can press a button and it sits me up to better take in my view. It will have the added bonus that I'll be all ready when I become a geriatric!!

Actually, there's the thing that's difficult to describe...... it is the feeling of permanence, the feeling that this is it, I have achieved it, this is my end game, my home forever. It is also a feeling of coming home, back to my roots, back to the land I was given, where I feel the spirit and the memories of my parents, and my childhood, which looking back on was so protected and secure and happy. I have a feeling of profound gratefulness. For the land. For the wonderful home that Rory has built me. For the fact that it is my son who has built it, which will always give it special meaning and hold fond memories. I am grateful for the process itself, which has had its stresses like any build, but Rory and I have maintained an excellent, loving and respectful relationship throughout.

After he'd left to go back to his flat in Duvauchelles, he turned up again about half an hour later to clean the windows in my bedroom so I could fully appreciate the beauty when I woke up in the morning. What a guy! I'll never forget that. Nor will I ever forget waking up yesterday morning in my new home ready to watch the dawn, and finding the side windows placed absolutely perfectly to see the mouth of the bay from bed, and the big windows at the end of the bed giving me the gorgeous tranquil view of a calm and still morning on the harbour. I had a few tears of emotion, of happiness, and relief that this huge project is nearly over, and that my home is everything I've imagined it would be.

I'm not actually moved in yet and it‘s not finished, there's still all the corten decorative cladding, the driveway and the landscaping to finish, but it is otherwise pretty much ready, so I've started the process of transition. A very busy month ahead, after which I hope to be settled in at Takamatua, with my house in Christchurch rented.

Booze would have added nothing to this project. Well it would actually; it would have added stress, strained relationships, worry, fear, short tempers, frustration, impatience, time off, self-doubt, lack of clarity, hangovers, and more money!! 

I'm so pleased I've learned to appreciate friends and family, life, love and laughter - without any toxic carcinogenic shit entering my body, dulling my brain, and giving me false amusement for a few hours. 

“No thank you, I don’t drink”!  Yee Haa!

Friday, 14 April 2017


Yep, one thousand days of not touching a single drop of alcohol. Feeling proud today. 
I made a decision and I stuck to it. Not one slip. I am so glad. So much has changed for me in these thousand days. I feel so well and healthy and even a wee bit fit coz I've been walking and running most mornings for the last 3 months. Getting a bit trickier these last couple of weeks with all the rain and the colder weather. I never get tired of the clarity I feel at all times. I've had some very challenging curved balls thrown my way and faced each one of them without dulling down my senses and numbing my brain. 

It's been an interesting revelation to discover that outings and interactions with people, live music performances and theatre, art shows and parties, are all enhanced experiences by not putting alcohol in the mix. Who knew? It just seemed the normal thing to do, have a few drinks before, during and after just about everything. I don't need it. It adds nothing. It actually takes away the authenticity of my interactions, and it takes away from my appreciation of people and music and theatre and art. It has been a happy discovery for me to learn that I am enough, just as I am. I appreciate people and their stories and conversations and laughter. I give them my full attention and genuine interest. I am not distracted by any concern about my next drink. It is incredibly freeing not being addicted to anything. It makes me so self contained, and easy to be anywhere. I don't even drink coffee, never have. I do have one pot of organic lemon and ginger green tea every morning these days, for the first time in my life, and I add fresh lemon juice and sliced fresh ginger, so that's not going to harm me. Oh, I am a wee bit addicted to chocolate but I've given up eating it in bed! haha. I've been off the ciggies for 19 months now, I still crave them, probably always will. Particularly in times of stress, of which there have been many lately.

So life is not a bed of roses, it never was, shit still happens, alot. Lately I have had some terrible luck with my rental properties, right at a time when I desperately need financial stability. Suffice to say one has been seriously trashed, has cost thousands to clean up and repair, thousands in loss of rent, and is now finally rented but at a lower rate because of damage. The other one had a serious fire this week. Unbeknown to me, one of the two tenants was sleeping in the garage and managed to burn it down, along with the neighbours garage and the corner of the house. I don't know why he slept out there, the fire started in his bed. He is in a terrible state and has been flown to middlemore hospital with burns to 90% of his body. Very sad, and I feel sick that it has happened at my house. The other flatmate has disappeared and two guys who aren't on the lease are there, no one is paying rent, and the driveway is blocked by a mass of burned out belongings. Difficult to know how to approach this one. A house full of gear, no paying tenants, and a charred blackened mess. My landlord insurance is looking uncertain as I didn't have written references for my tenants. My stress levels are rather high.

The build is coming along beautifully. Never without it's ups and downs which can be challenging, but Rory is doing a marvellous job of keeping the show on the road. It's at a stage now where lots of progress is happening at once so it's quite exciting. My benches went on yesterday and I'll go and see them tomorrow. It's a rather common occurance for builds to cost way more than expected, and this one is no exception!! My business is very slow now for the winter, and once Easter is over it will grind to a halt I think. It is a challenge to remain calm. But I am, somehow. I have had a flatmate here at home for the last month, and I have a young English couple moving in next week as well. Not sure how I'll handle this, but my thinking is that it's only for a few months then I'll be in my new home, and between the 3 of them they are paying $550 per week which helps me pay the rent on the builder's apartment in Duvauchelles. It's a pretty good rent to collect when I'm still here myself, and I'll still have my room when I go, which will make it an easy transition for me, and give me somewhere to be, and work from several days a week when I'm in town.

Our friend Steve is going downhill very quickly now, and is in the Hospice at Merivale. I went in yesterday and was shocked at how much more frail he is now compared to last weekend. His spirit is still very strong, and he's planning on doing a last gig next Saturday night. He wanted to go to the Folk Festival in Waipara today. I doubt the poor darling will make it to either, but it keeps him going  thinking about it I think. Marion is one very strong amazing kind and lovely lady. I am so grateful to have had some wonderful outings with Steve and Marion, the last big one was an afternoon at Takamatua a few weeks ago and with Gloria as well, and showing them the build, then dinner on the waterfront in Akaroa and then to a fabulous concert with Ben Waters, Bernard Fowler, Tim Ries, all musicians who sometimes play with the Stones, and also Chris Jagger, Mick's brother (but he was a bit of a dick compared to the others, unfortunately). Bernard Fowler was spectacular singing Wild Horses.

I am looking forward to the next few months passing quickly so I can soon get settled into my new home. There's so much I need to achieve here sorting and planning, it is daunting on my own, but I'll get there in the end. And it will be grand. And it will be the biggest thing I have ever accomplished in my life, and what I have worked towards for so very many years.

Bring on the next 1000 days, starting today!

Sent from Samsung tabletI've 

Saturday, 25 February 2017


It is a time of much turmoil for some in my world. Last night a lovely old friend had one of his fabulous House Parties that he's been putting on for about 25 years. He is a much respected musician here in Christchurch and he played and sang last night with some excellent and well renowned guys on piano, keyboards, horns and guitar. They came along as a tribute to play one last time with our friend Steve, who's cancer has ravaged his body with a fierce vengance, even after the most valiant fight, with many organic juices daily, seaweed extracts, THC extracts, cancer retreats and everything he could throw at it. Mainly a very brave, positive and heroic attitude, and a profound trust that he would beat it. In November another friend had a massive party in honour of Steve, out in the country in his purpose build "70's night club" where they re-formed three seventies Christchurch bands, including Steve's band Sentry, almost completely with it's original members. It was an amazing, memorable and beautiful night, as was last night. Although his voice was a bit ragged and scratchy, that just added another dimension and Steve's performance was outstanding. It was quieter, and deep and soulful, and had a realness and rawness to it that could only possibly have come from the dreadful news he has had earlier this week. From the knowledge that although he will play his guitar again, this was likely to be the last time he will do it for all of us, his friends and his beautiful and brave family, who still have so much to face. It was a poignant and beautiful evening and it was a priviledge to be there. It is humbling to witness the raw pain and the strength, simultaneously, of his wonderful wife and daughter, and of Steve himself. 

I am so glad I started going to his garden parties again when I first gave up alcohol. Daytime music events close to home, where I at least knew some people, seemed like just the ticket for me when newly single and also learning to socialise sober. As a result, it has rekindled a 45 year friendship with Steve, and allowed me to get to know his gorgeous wife Marion, and see and get to know more of his family and friends, making new friends in the process.

A few short years ago my brother had almost the exact same cancer diagnosed and experienced a ghastly year of extreme surgeries and some horrific chemo treatment. Miraculously he has survived it, and for this we are all overwhelmingly grateful.
In the recent Port Hills bush fires, just ten days ago, he and his family watched their beautiful home of 30 years burn to the ground at 7.30 in the morning, after being kept safe all night by over a hundred firemen fighting the blaze. How strange life is, that so much can be dished out so unevenly. That one family should bear such fear of loss of life, and hideous illness, survive it, only to have to suffer such a terrible shock and loss. I wonder if perhaps the very fact of what they went through just a couple of years ago, makes them the people who are strong enough to face this next big massive inconvenience and sadness. Their loss is enormous, they got almost nothing out, yet they know first hand that their loss could have been far greater. They are strong and stoic, all of them, even the grown up children, who have only known this one home for their whole lives. It really is an enormous blow and loss for them all.

The loss of alcohol from one's life is such a small thing when compared to real loss.
There are always gains to be had from loss. With alcohol it's a no-brainer. The gains so far outweigh the loss, I don't even need to go on about that, as I've done so many times in my previous blogs. I am grateful to be a person with the clarity of mind at all times to be able to communicate clearly and to give support if I can to those I love, and who are hurting.

Somewhere, and some how, there is always an opportunity in the crisis. Often it is just bringing people closer together. Sometimes it is more than that, and paths can change, a deeper purpose can emerge, and lives can be enriched by the very loss they are suffering. 

May my friends and my family navigate their sad and difficult paths with continued strength and bravery, and with the knowledge that they are loved, admired for their courage, and deeply respected.

Saturday, 11 February 2017


This weekend I've remembered the importance of self nurture and giving myself treats. In general in my life I am pretty good at it and always have been, I don't deprive myself of much. However, with so much on my plate for the last long while, I tend to forget to do the little things I love, like watching a movie on a Sunday afternoon, or driving somewhere beautiful and reading a book there. Or going shopping just for the sake of it. I think I've felt, and rightly so I guess, that in building my home I am giving myself the biggest treat possible so I should not indulge myself with the small stuff. Wrong! It isn't working! Yesterday I did something about it. I bought a lovely causal linen shirt on a half price sale that I will get heaps of wear out of, and I discovered Little Island Creamery chocolate and coconut ice-cream. It has sugar and fat and carbs and all the bad stuff but is dairy free, and it is to die for, it is beautiful and amazing and the best taste bud sensation I've had in ages. It is very hard to write about it without rushing to the freezer.

I think treats for us sober warriors are under-rated and easy to forget about in the busy hustle of daily life. After all, we used to think we deserved hours of downtime to indulge in expensive alcohol on an almost daily basis. Every day that we don't drink we are saving a significant amount of money, and even though that is not what this is all about, it does mean that we can afford to, and should, indulge ourselves in many little things which keep us feeling cared for and happy. 

I have felt unable to express myself for a while, so that's why this is just a simple wee blog about nothing much at all. And now, on this lazy Sunday afternoon, I shall choose myself a good movie, hopefully a courtroom crime drama, and perhaps have some chocolate coconut ice-cream while watching it. It's the little things. They matter.

Friday, 6 January 2017


It’s now two and half years since I kicked the booze to the curb, and one year and three months since the ciggies went by the wayside too.
On reflection, it is interesting how much I have learned in this time, and even more interesting how much there still seems to be to learn.
It reminds me of what my Mother used to say to me after one of my endless questions when I was little. “Darling, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know”.

The 2016 year was quite a tough one in many ways, as far as life lessons go. I’ve struggled quite a bit with feelings of hurt, and abandonment by my friends. This is because they are not much in my day to day or week to week life any more, and don’t really keep in touch much at all unless there is something big to tell me or invite me to. I have even lost one lifetime friendship, dumped as it were, after a two week road trip together…..a bit strained and tense at times, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved with communication and forgiveness. I will never fully understand it, I trusted our friendship, and especially the longevity of it. At first it made me feel worthless, thrown out with the dishwater. Now I have come to terms with it. I do not need this friendship, if it is so willingly let go…..after 48 years…..bizarre!  This friendship does not support me at all. I think perhaps she preferred me pissed! I have tried to communicate. I can do no more. Life is long. It is sad, but not all friendships need to last forever.

I have learned to “hold my friends lightly”, which at first seemed abhorrent to me when suggested, as I think of myself as a fiercely loyal friend, but after some thought I realised this was exactly what I needed to learn. I need to let go of my need for their presence, which gives validation of our friendship. I need to let go of my need of them full-stop really, and to trust that deep down all is well. Love them, don’t need them. It is, after all, me that has changed, not them. They don’t know quite what to do with me anymore, and that is okay. They are still there. They are still my friends. They probably even admire and respect me for the changes I have made. They are just doing what they are doing, and social drinking takes up a lot of time, and then there’s work and families, and life. I just don’t fit so easily into their picture anymore, because much of the time spent was on the downtime, which involved relaxing, which involved drinking. The fact that I don’t drink alcohol and they do doesn’t bother me at all. I am still me, I can still have a laugh and enjoy their company, but it doesn’t occur to people to include me most of the time, and that’s okay.
I needed to learn to have confidence in who I am, and I am learning that. You change your life in this way, you need to change who you hang out with, to a degree. I am slowly forming new friendships and resurrecting some old ones too, where there’s already a long affinity and trust between us.

Navigating this sober goat track is not always easy and there are many obstacles as I come to terms with such a different way of life. I am still learning so much about myself and about other people too, and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes I unintentionally hurt others. I would much rather sit with these raw and painful feelings, until I can accept them and move on, without blunting the edges or distorting them with alcohol or any other substance. I love the clarity.

I have been giving a lot of thought just lately to who I can really count on in my life. Who can I count on completely for loyalty, honesty, trust and support? Who will absolutely always be there for me? The answer is Me.
I can be a lot of things for a lot of people, and I can give my honesty, loyalty, trust and support to my children, my family and my friends, and to a large degree I get the same in return. But if I really want to count on someone absolutely, it must be me. So, to this end, I strive to become stronger, wiser, and braver. What I aim for this year is to learn to love my aloneness. (I’m going to have to where I’m going)! Alone is self-sufficient, alone is resourceful, alone is dependable, alone is often good company.

I need to be able to give support and comfort to myself when I am misunderstood and bewildered.
I need to turn to myself for wisdom and guidance in all aspects of my life. And I need to dig deep every day for the courage I need to continue, and to succeed in all I’ve taken on, with the build, with my business, the move, decisions on how exactly to run things once I have left Christchurch.
2017 will be an interesting and very challenging year, as was 2016.

I’ve also been giving some thought as to boundaries. I have realised that as a consequence of no longer getting shitfaced on an almost daily basis, I no longer put up with shabby behaviour. Not in my personal life or my business life.
I can and do stand up for myself better than ever before, if treated unfairly and inconsiderately.
I told a customer the other day not to bother coming back to my company for his rental caravan next Christmas, that I don’t need negative, rude and pedantic whingers picking holes in anything and everything they can, instead of enjoying a fabulous camping holiday like everyone else. He was a right twit and it felt rather empowering, and I hope it makes him realise what a dick he is! Probably not the greatest thing I could do for my business reputation, but for each one of him there are 100 happy campers… who cares? Not me!

Wishing everyone a Happy, Hopeful, Humourous Humdinger of a New Year

We all need someone we can lean on, and if I want to....I can lean on  me!