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As a child, we spent our Christmas holidays at a remote coastal sheep farm in New Zealand. 

The car would be loaded up with camping gear and we would head off on the long drive to spend 2 weeks of fishing, mucking around in the shearing shed, hiking across the paddocks and exploring the rock pools at low tide.

Our Aunts and Uncles would already be there and our cousins would be smug that they had already scanned out the best places to build forts, swim and generally get into mischief.


The journey was always the same. The route to the farm took us over a long winding gravel road that circled its way from the coast to a peak and then would wind relentlessly down the other side to the small bay that was our destination. 

My brother suffered from terrible car sickness and I would invariably go out in sympathy. It got to the stage where Dad would pull over at the same spot each trip and my brother and I would get out of the car, throw up and then get back in and Dad would pull out and head off again. 

No one ever said anything. It was just part of the routine. 

At the base of the hills, the road would hug the coastline and we would turn left and wend our way down the access road to the farm.


Mum ( Redhead ) was no fan of camping so she would join us each day but head off to the farmer's house at night to sleep in a bed and have a shower under hot water.

We kids would gather around campfires and tell ghost stories while the adults met up at the old shearer's quarters and laugh and sing and while away the evenings planning what the next day would bring; whether it be rock fishing, gathering rock oysters and crayfish or a combination of all three. 

For us, our days stretched out in glorious unabated freedom to hike across the paddocks, muck around in the shearing shed, have a war, or probe the wonders that lived in the low tide rock pools. 

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It was a time of intense delight and endless hours of improvising what our next adventure might be. 

One favourite memory is of the potatoes that we would shove into a campfire and bake until they were charred and black on the outside. With the aid of a stick, the spud would be retrieved from the embers and broken open with burned fingers and then we would munch on the white flesh that lay inside the charred outer layer. 


I was 10 years old on the 24th of January 1965. 

Evening had come and Dad was with the others up in the old shearers shed. It was 6 o'clock in the evening and time to turn on the BBC news, as was his custom. I had grown bored of sitting around the fire down on the beach and had wandered up to see him and have a break from my cousins and their banter and chit chat. As I walked up the hill from the beach, I saw Dad sitting on the front steps of the shed. He was crying. 

It was the first time that I had seen him cry. I was confused and shocked and upset, not knowing what had happened to distress him so terribly. I soon learned that Sir Winston Churchill had passed away. 

I had heard Dad talk of this man and he was clearly someone my father held in high regard. I will never forget that moment, frozen like a snapshot in my mind like a photograph. 

I can still see him sitting there, on those steps, sobbing with an outpouring of grief that seemed so strange and out of place in such a happy setting that I had always associated with laughter and joy. 


Over the decades since that day in 1965, I have taken mental photographs of many such moments. The moon landing in July 1969, the Challenger disaster in January 1986, the horror of 9/11 to name a few. 

I have never really understood why such things trigger the " record " button in our brains. 

But trigger it they do and thank goodness for that wonder of the human memory. 

For, without our memories, we would lead lives that are meaningless and without joy, without sorrow and without purpose.

Anyway, that is my story for " I remember when... " I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed remembering it. 

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But before I go, we must remember. The joys of our childhoods. The treasure of memories. The delight of life lived. 

Can we please leave our little ones some semblance of the joy we cherish? 

Or are they on a hill throwing up because governments and media are making them so ill that they cannot enjoy childhood? 

I wonder. 

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