Wheel alignment

Thursday 28 July 2022

When life hands you lemons.....

Fate has a funny way of dealing the cards sometimes.   I've been really enjoying the new e-mountain bike.  Fresh air, getting fitter - what's not to like?  I haven't been on any demanding trails but felt quite comfortable on the ones I've tackled.  It's much closer to home where skill improvements are clearly required.

Coming home from a ride 3 weeks ago, I went to dismount right outside our garage and the elastic lace on one of my cycling shoes caught on one of the serrated pedals.  Time slowed down whilst I slowly toppled over and smacked into the garage door opening and felt a rib let go.  Pain and a lot of bad words!  It's not been as bad as expected, just a bit uncomfortable in bed, with sneezes and coughs to be avoided.  Under normal circumstances, I'd be chomping at the bit to get out again but for the last few weeks, the NZ winter has been horrendously wet so some enforced chilling hasn't been a big deal. 

A ride along the coast on the fateful day

As mentioned in a recent blog, Jennie and I are celebrating our Golden Wedding anniversary (actually tomorrow) and as part of those celebrations we invited our friends to lunch at a local restaurant last weekend.  It was a wonderful occasion, full of laughter and irreverence.  Not that we needed reminding, but we're genuinely blessed to have such great friends.

Mercifully short speeches

Cutting the cake, 50 years after the last one!

From that high point, things went downhill the next day with me testing positive for Covid.  Couldn't believe how quickly it came on.  Jennie tested positive shortly after.  Fortunately, the symptoms have been relatively mild with fatigue being the biggest issue.  Very sad that a number of our friends also became unwell although not seriously so.  It would appear that we became infected at a pub quiz earlier in the week but at least we won the quiz!  We've had to postpone a family gathering this weekend but not a big deal in the scheme of things as we'll get together again quite soon.

We had an email from friends in the UK who married a few weeks after us in 1972.  They attached a photo which we hadn't previously seen which was taken at their wedding.  It has Jennie standing with some mutual friends, Roberta and John; and it has special significance.  Roberta and Jennie were good friends at uni and John and I were mates at school.  They married the previous year and Roberta decided that Jennie and I would be good together.  We only found out later that Roberta pulled a number of devious tricks to make sure that it happened.  Pretty good judgment on Roberta's part!

Roberta, John and Jennie - 1970's fashion icons!

So there we are, a bit of serendipity to offset the curse of Covid!

And in a non-relevant moment yesterday, we were blessed with a flock of Royal Spoonbills feeding in the harbour at the front of our house.  That's the first time we've seen them since we bought the place in 2003.  Absolutely majestic birds.

Royal Spoonbills - Coromandel Harbour

Saturday 2 July 2022

Where did the time go?

Well, 2022 has been a year of different events so far including retiring from motorcycling and buying an e-mountain bike to explore the cycle trails, both in our area and in other scenic locations.  However, the most important event of all is celebrating our Golden Wedding anniversary at the end of this month.  Fifty years together without me being stabbed or disposed of in any other way is a minor miracle.  It speaks volumes about Jennie's tolerance!  Mind you, it's probably been a close-run thing as I recently said to Jennie that I don't know what she saw in me all those years ago and she said she didn't either.  That's me firmly put in my place then, sigh.....  She once said that it was like living with a 5 year old but I put that down to her being a primary school teacher and me doing "guy stuff" at the time.

With all the Covid lockdowns, one of the things we did to keep occupied was to scan and digitize about 2000-odd photos, 35mm slides and negatives which were scattered around the house in various boxes.  If only I could find the 1969 Isle of Man TT photos and 1970 Transatlantic Match Race Series which I took, but I digress.  We decided as part of our anniversary celebrations to select about 50 photos from 1972 to 2022 and have them printed as a coffee table book.  This has come out impressively well so I thought I'd share just a small selection of  them here.  My dress sense in the early days is a bit cringe-worthy but how come that Jennie always manages to look so elegant?  Maybe that's guys for you!

We met in 1971.  A mutual friend thought we'd be good together and as part of her cunning plan, she organised me to take Jennie to her upcoming wedding in Wales.  Here's Jennie in her "flower power" finery at the wedding.   The scheming to get us together didn't stop there and the rest is history....

1971 - the days of Flower Power

We were married the following year.  I caught a stomach bug the day before the wedding and it was touch and go but everything worked out ok.

Cutting the cake

We honeymooned in Yugoslavia and Venice. This was at a time when Yugoslavia was ruled by a communist government, albeit with a very light hand.  The local airport was a dual civilian/military base with strictly no cameras in the vicinity.  Rows of MiG fighters parked on the taxiway.

At a Roman Amphitheatre in Yugoslavia

Piazza San Marco, Venice

We emigrated to NZ in 1975 and bought a bright orange Mk 1 Ford Escort which carried us reliably all round the north island. 

Geothermal area near Rotorua.  The era of flared trousers and sleeveless sweaters - ewww....

Sailing at the local yacht club became a passion and I switched to single handed yachts when we started to raise a family.  Haven't sailed for many years but still retain a strong interest in the Americas Cup.

Our first yacht in NZ - Frostply class

Raising a family and building a career were the priorities.  The next photo was taken at a friend's party in 1982.  Noteworthy only for my appalling taste in beer shirts and for Jennie condescending to be seen in public with me.

That shirt - oh dear......

Skipping forward to 1998 which was the year the first of our 3 children graduated.  The last of them completed her postgrad qualifications not that many years ago and I'd hate to total up how much their education cost.  Well worth it though to see highly motivated and caring young individuals succeeding and contributing back to society.

Proud Mum and Dad with the first of three to graduate

When the last of our kids headed off to varsity in the south island in 2001, we took a month off to tour down south in the first of Jennie's MX 5's.  One memorable activity was riding quads into the foothills of the Remarkables mountain range on 2 stroke Polaris "screamers".  Jennie took to it like a duck to water and left me for dead on a rock-strewn downhill section.  Massive pride in her giving me a riding lesson!

Riding quads near Queenstown in 2001

Jennie was a regular pillion on my bikes.  In 2003, I sold the BMW K100 RS and bought a Honda Blackbird.  A friend from the UK was visiting and the mate I sold the Beemer to loaned it back for the friend to use during his visit.  Here we are at Wairakei near Taupo.

With the K100RS and Blackbird in 2003

In 2012, we were driving past the Warbirds base just outside Auckland.  They were closed to the public on that particular day but we were invited in anyway which was great.  They were preparing a P51 Mustang for flight and we were allowed to park Jennie's limited edition MX5 alongside for a memorable photo!  

A great shot with a P51 on the tarmac

Retirement at 60 in 2008 gave us the opportunity to travel extensively and we had some fabulous trips through Australia and the Pacific islands, Canada, Alaska, Africa and much of Asia. As they were all so different and enjoyable, it's genuinely hard to pick a favourite which is as it should be.  Everywhere we went, people were really friendly and helpful, just wanting to get by.  I guess it shows that most of the world's troubles are largely caused by a tiny percentage of the population, not pointing the finger at politicians :-).  On our China trip, we were in Wuhan not long before Covid was first reported - a lucky let-off!

2016, standing either side of the Equator near the Rift Valley in Kenya

The Great Wall, China in 2019.  Temperatures in the high 30's C

In 2019 before the pandemic brought travels to a shuddering halt, we were travelling around the top of the south island of NZ and stopped off at a motor museum in Nelson.  They have an amazing range of vehicles but the one which meant the most to us was a Wolseley 6/110.  This is the car we did our "courting" in (such a quaint term).  Ahhhh.... happy days. The wheel had come full circle, so to speak.

Wolseley 6/110 - much merriment over the memories

As already mentioned, 2022 is the year that I hung up my motorcycle helmet.  Absolutely no regrets as I'd done everything I wanted to during a 58 year riding career and figured that it was better to stop on my terms than be forced to due to health or other reasons.  I suspect that Jennie is secretly relieved.  I still retain a strong interest in bikes though.  It is perhaps fitting that the KTM 790 made me laugh more than any other bike I've owned.

Yours truly and the KTM 790

With the bike gone, Jennie and I spend time together sea fishing from our boat and exploring the back roads in our 50 year old classic MGB GT -  a fitting way to celebrate 50 years of marriage.  May there be many more years of action-packed adventure.

Waitete Bay - Coromandel Peninsula