porcelain flower by ande – astrid’s second grandma
A few people have asked me why we came here, as in back to London. A few reasons really. One of the main reasons, in fact the very most main reason that was the one that overrode all the doubts that arose in the weeks before we left was the reason that I needed to get my UK passport and be back here before my visa ran out to apply for it. Something I had qualified for in 2001 and never actually got around to filling in all the bits on the form and sending it off. I’d always said it was ‘my degree’. Something I also never got. Yes, so maybe I spoke too soon about it being like my degree after all. The last time we came back I’d been advised I just had to stay a year and I could get my passport. However. Rules change. And it would appear the rules have changed. According to the letter I received today.
So now I need to be back three years. Well five actually now. Because I’m no longer married to the person I originally came here with and I’ve been out of the country too long. So yes marrying him was my degree. You learn a lot living on the North Peckham estates for three years you do. But I still haven’t learnt to grab the bull by the horns. Get things while I can. No, I still sail along, thinking things will always be there. Like a friend who sold 20 acres of waterfront land on Waiheke for a pittance twenty years ago thinking they could easily buy more later. But it doesn’t really matter. Life goes on. We’ve had fun here. It would certainly have saved us a bit of aggro if we’d stayed in New Zealand, but there are many good things here. A nice working holiday. A lot of good yarn. We’ll stay here a few more months. We did need to come here. We really did. We’ve done a lot of shedding which needed doing. But now the life plan is saying to move back to New Zealand.
The life plan that is taking the shape of a wonderful adventure. It’s always been a wonderful adventure. The life plan that will see us move not back to our old house, but to the place that is really in our hearts, our spiritual home, my childhood home â€“ a place we can stand and look out over the water, across clay cliffs to peninsulas, to the islands. A place to enjoy childhoods. Traditions and knowledge to be passed on to our children. Memories to be born. The special “New Zealandness” of growing up by the beach, of walking in the bush, of swimming in rivers, of barefoot adventures on hot asphalt, gingerly crossing prickle-filled summer lawns.
Cream horns in Opotiki. The jetty at Tolaga Bay. Windy sands at Ninety Mile Beach. Baches untouched since they were built in the 50s. Clambering around endless rocks along endless bays. Freshly dug pipis, but only one or two. A garden with fruit trees, hydrangeas and nerines. Fish and chips at Cheltenham looking out to Rangitoto at sunset, toes tucked into the cool sand. Poking little finger tips into anemones in rock pools. Gorse. Toi toi. Freezing cold swims on Christmas day. Jelly tips. Fru jus. Lemonade popsicles.
To the islands. To the islands it will be.