Flowering Despite

A Christmas house in Dunedin

For me this year wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Sure there were cancelled events and lack of full freedoms, but it didn’t totally suck.

At the beginning of the year I surprised my sister on her birthday, flying from Dunedin to Wellington to visit her in Horowhenua. Her daughter and I managed to keep the secret right up until I knocked on her door mid-afternoon, knocking so loudly my sister thought it was the police.


I am guessing that this creeper draped over a tin fence that I saw today while on a walk, is clematis. This flower reminds me of a trip this year with my sisters (and a niece) down south through the Catlins, where flowering clematis (Clematis paniculata native to Aotearoa) could be seen scattered like clumps of stars among the trees.

I love the peppermint smell of a crushed geranium

Mid-February, we celebrated the Chinese New Year with friends at a restaurant, before walking from there to the Chinese Gardens where festivities and fireworks were on the programme.

While walking from the cafe along Dunedin’s George Street, a man stopped his very flash sports car and proceeded to nonchalantly stroll over to us, explaining to Robert that he happened to notice the jacket he was wearing as he was driving past. He asked if he could see the label. The jacket was originally Robert’s grandfather’s and we think it probably dates back to the 1960’s. I don’t know if Robert has ever taken the time to read the label.

Turned out it was an Anthony Squires*. The man, suitably (ahem) impressed, then went on his way. One could say that Robert’s humble, old jacket – admittedly of an attractive deep shade of burgundy and with a velvety appearance – had stopped traffic.

*Anthony Squires has been an Australian luxury men’s tailored clothing icon since 1948, with roots in the famed fashion houses of Europe and a direct line to the English tailoring traditions of London’s West End.

A Dunedin Teachers College reunion in March blew my mind. Where did those 50 (yes, you read that right, 50!) years go? What a blast (of reality?) to meet up with people I hadn’t seen in all that time. We all looked so old.

The reunion engendered memories of all that time ago, causing me to want to give my 17-year old self a good talking to while at the same time give her a high five for being so brave.

looking out over to St Kilda from Andersons Bay cemetery

Thank God those young years are behind me. All I can think is what a lucky escape I had from that callow time. However I did manage to take with me a resilience learned from the hard knocks; an inner strength that has stood me in good stead.

a mixed bouquet

And now that Robert and I are both retired, those young years seem so very far away. It’s a whole new era. For both of us. Robert’s jacket is now more likely to be a ‘swanny’ rather than a flash burgundy dinner jacket.

probably my favourite of all flowers, the lavender

Writing-wise through 2021, I have made a start on the first draft of my second novel. The working title is Quick Blue Fire and will be the second book of a trilogy. A friend who enjoyed my first book suggested I write a trilogy and I thought, why not?

Info. on my family tree is part of the research going into the book. One example, Aberdeen, Scotland, in the 1860’s, where some of my great-great grandparents lived.

a little wandering rose growing up the back of our place

My ancestors’ experience back then consisted of extremely poor living conditions in crowded apartments where the very air they breathed was rife and teeming with killer diseases, such as cholera and smallpox. Pause for thought? You bet.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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