My Life – Recollections

I turned 60 years old this year (2017) and feel like I’m moving into a more sedate, reflective stage of my life now as the body starts to slow down and the energy levels are not quite what they were. I will be a Granddad for the first time in October this year so I’m kinda sliding ever so gently into the ‘old slippers’ phase of my life.

I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do with the rest of my years but have also been thinking about what I have done with my life.
As a way of introducing myself, I thought it would be fun to search out some photos that reflect my recollections of my 60 year journey through my life so far.

So here we go …..

I went to Christchurch Boys’ High School. The first year there, I was the shortest boy in the whole school! That’s me in the middle of the front row of the class photo. I was there for three years and left when I was 15 years old to start work as an office boy at John Burns & Co.

I have two sisters, Jenny & Shelley and one brother, Andrew. Here is the four of us way back in the 1970’s and a more recent photo of me with Jenny & Shelley.

My happiest childhood memories are of time spent with my Grandma & Granddad Ching at their 10 acre property in Marshlands on the outskirts of Christchurch followed by time spent at our family bach at Purau Bay.

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first two humans on the Moon. I watched this event with my family on black and white TV as a 12 year old on July 20, 1969.

My first car, an 1957 Austin A30. Boy did I think I was cool. This is in 1972 when I was I was just 15 years old!

I have always loved Austin Sevens and for a a few years I owned my very own 1938 Austin Big 7. Loved cruising with the front window open on hot Canterbury summers days. That’s my sister, Shelley relaxing by the car on the wharf at Lyttelton.

1972 and my Saturday nights were spent with my friends at Templeton Speedway on the outskirts of Christchurch. Those were the days when top world champions solo riders like Ivan Mauger and Peter Collins spent their ‘northern hemisphere off season’ racing down under at Templeton. As well as the solos & super modifieds, there were also midgets, 3/4 midgets & the scary sidecars bikes. Such great memories of noise, dust, excitement, crashes and friendship when speedway was at its peak in New Zealand. (L – R) Peter Annan – super modified, the solo bikes racing and Roger Gleeson – super modified.

I have had lots of different kinds of jobs throughout my life ….. office boy for a large general merchandise store, working on a hanking machine in a carpet factory, various machines in a tyre retreading factory, a baker in a crumpets factory, dying yarn in a textiles factory, picking and packing strawberries, computer programming tutor, gardener on a Scottish estate, a week or so in a salmon processing factory, farm labourer, payroll processing, nightfill grocery shelf replenishing in a grocery store, eLearning instructional designer. Whew, must be time to retire after all that!

I crashed my car into a telephone pole at 30 mph (50kph) when I was in my twenties. Not sure how ….. driving around the riverside in Christchurch and must have just not been paying enough attention. Pretty traumatic experience doing 30mph one second and then zero mph the next. Even though I had a seatbelt on the impact was enough for my head to slam into the steering wheel and put my tooth through my upper lip. Got a ride in an ambulance to hospital where they stitched up my lip and sent me on my way.

In 1981 Debra & myself drove around & around the ring road that surrounds Paris, but got scared of all the traffic and so made a beeline for an exit and the countryside. We only got to see the Eiffel Tower from a distance and have never returned to visit Paris! On the bucket list though.

Debra and I lived off grid, free camping in a VW Kombi van for five months during 1980/81 in the UK, France & Spain.

Of all the jobs I have had my favourite one would have to be when I was working as a gardener for an English couple who owned a 19th century mansion house in the Borders of Scotland. For three years I looked after and helped in the restoration of their ten acres of ‘designed landscape’ along with mowing a lot of lawns.

We were living in Scotland in December 1988 when a terrorist bombing of a plane occurred above our heads. Pan American flight 103, a Boeing 747, took off from London, bound for New York City. At 7:00PM as it was climbing to 31,000 feet on its northerly flight path, a bomb detonated and the plane exploded over the town of Lockerbie in southwest Scotland. The trail of debris from the plane extended to just 18km from our cottage. A very scary and sobering night for us as events unfoldered.

The Hyde family originated from the small Cambridgeshire village of Buckden where the men worked as farm labourers. My Great grandfather, George immigrated out to New Zealand in 1867 when he was 19 years old. I visited Buckden in the late 1980’s with my father and eldest son, Samuel. Quite an emotional experience to see the place where the Hyde’s had lived, the parish church of St Mary’ where they would have been baptised and married in and the cemetery where they were laid to rest.

Dumbest thing I have ever done in my life is jumping out of tree and crushing my heel. 1991 and I was chainsawing a stand of macrocapa tress for firewood with my brother Andrew. Decided it would be a smart thing to stand up in the truck of a tree to cut a branch off. Cut the branch and it then started to swing back towards to me so I jumped the 4 metres to the ground (hanging onto a chainsaw that was still going). The impact crushed my right heel badly. Trip to hospital ensured and then weeks on crutches as it slowly healed. Giving me grief through the years and more trouble now as arthritis has set in.

I’ve lived in three counties during my life, New Zealand, Scotland (three years) & Spain (four months).

I’ve visited thirteen counties, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Rarotonga, Noumea, Singapore, Malaysia, England, Scotland, France, Spain, USA (Los Angeles).

I’ve owned (or maybe they have owned me) five special dogs. Three Spaniels, Gypsy, Dylan & Ruby. A Bichon/Poodle, Archie and a Miniature Schnauzer, Oskar.

I married my very first girlfriend. A sensible move as it turned out!

Purau Bay. I have been holidaying here since January, 1963. My Dad built a holiday bach (house) here for the family. A world away from the city of Christchurch on the ‘other side’ of the hills opposite. After six years, Dad sold the bach. I have continued to spend time their over the years with my wife, Debra and our own family, with numerous day trips and renting baches for our holidays. Such a peaceful and relaxing place to be.

I have four fabulous children. Here I am with our newborns. Samuel (March 1984), Thomas (October 1986), Oliver (March 1989) & Kelsey (August 1991).

And here they are as young adults on the beach at Kaiteriteri in January, 2017. From left to right is Thomas, Samuel, Kelsey & Oliver.

Like millions of other folk I really enjoyed following Princess Diana’s life from her wedding on the 29 July 1981 (just a couple of months before my own) through to her final day with us on the 31st August 1997. Probably the hugest shock in my life when she died and such a sad period leading up to her funeral and then watching the service that day.

I’ve sailed around the waters off the South Islands Abel Tasman park coastline in a 10 metre performance sport sailing catamaran.

Scariest moment in my life when our son Oliver nearly lost his life to meningitis in 2005. A full recovery thank goodness. Lucky young man!

My favourite TV show of all time is the 1975 – 1977 post-apocalyptic television series, Survivors.

My favourite film is the Before Trilogy: Sunrise (1995), Sunset (2004), Midnight (2013) starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

My favourite place to be is the tussock covered volcanic hills around Banks Peninsula, particularly around the Purau Bay to the Lyttelton harbour heads area.

I have visited Australia’s Great Natural Wonder, the Great Barrier Coral reefs. Awesome experience.

My favourite animal that I have viewed up close are the yellow-eyed penguins at Curio Bay in The Catlins at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. We visited at dusk which made it even more special. Awesome experience.

I have a model of Hogan Hero’s Sergeant Schultz that sits on my desk at work to remind me of my philosophy for long term job security, “I see nothing, I hear nothing, and I say NOTHING!!!”

I have watched the sun set on Aoraki / Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3,724 metres (12,218 feet).

On Tuesday 22 February 2011 we were living in Wellington when we felt an earthquake at lunchtime. As media reports started to come in, we were told that a magnitude 6.3 earthquake had occurred in the South Island at 12.51 p.m causing severe damage to my home city of Christchurch and the surrounding area. 185 people died and several thousand were injured. The majority of buildings that made up my life in Christchurch were destroyed, the church we were married in was levelled, both our parents houses were demolished, all of the CBD as we knew it was either destroyed at the time or subsequently levelled. Not a good day.

We were married here at St Stephens church in Christchurch ….. all gone now after the earthquake has done it dastardly deed.

The hottest outdoor temperature I have ‘enjoyed’ was in Perth on the 31st December, 2012. 45C at 3:15pm. This closely follows on from very hot day in Christchurch on the 7th February 1973 where 42°C was reached.

I have owned a couple of new motorbikes, both single bangers. A Yamaha SR500 road bike in my single days and a Suzuki DR400 off road bike while I was going out with Debra. We sold the Yamaha to help finance our Big OE.

I have spent nearly 20 years of my recent life holding onto whatever is handy in the windiest city in the world, Wellington, New Zealand. Gusts exceeding gale-force (75km/h) occur about 175 days every year at the airport with the highest gust of wind ever recorded in Wellington being a brezzy 248km/h.

In 2006 we subdivided the land of our Tawa property and had a 3 bedroom townhouse built on the new section during 2007. An interesting experience that took up a lot of our time and energy to see through to completion. We got there in the end it made a tidy wee profit.

We have owned two lifestyle/farmlet properties over the years. The first one was a 1 acre property at Oxford, North Canterbury. We had this property during 1987-88. We had a Jersey dairy cow that we milked. A couple of piglet, chooks and a few lambs. Grew lots of organic veges.

Our 2nd lifestyle property was a 1 1/2 acre property at Matarawa in the Wairarapa. We had this property for a few years. 2008 to 2015. We didn’t keep livestock here. We mainly grew orchard fruit and looked after a large garden of trees, shrubs, bulbs, roses and herbaceous flowers.

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