< class="pagetitle">Archive for the “Books and poems” Category








I am not normally into those Chicken Soup type of books, sayings for the soul etc, but friend Jilly alerted me to the book "God doesn't blink" by Regina Brett, and it had this list, which when I look at it, reminded me that it is good to remember those things sometimes. With the situtaion we are in currently in Christchurch there are definitely some that resonate with me…


Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

  • Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  • Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

  • When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

  • It's OK to let your children see you cry.

  • Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

  • Everything can change in the blink of an eye. 

  • Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  • You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

  • A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

  • Overprepare, then go with the flow.

  • Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

  • The most important sex organ is the brain.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

  • Always choose life.

  • Forgive everyone everything.

  • What other people think of you is none of your business.

  • Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  • Believe in miracles.
  • Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

  • Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

  • Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

  • Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

  • Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

  • Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

  • If you don't ask, you don't get.
  • Yield.

  • Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift…
  • The best is yet to come……………..

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I have been saddened each day as I read Sue Wells’ blog and her tributes as she faces day after day of funerals for lost colleagues. As a family and as a company we have been so lucky that we have not lost members of our whanau. We know people that have died and grieve for them and their families, but we cannot imagine what they are going through at this time. Each post from Sue reminds us of that suffering. Today she posted this poem by M Josephon, that touches at the heart of what makes people important. Not the position, the wealth, the status but what makes you important as a person.

We need to think of this often, and work to live a life that matter. Thanks Sue for reminding me of that.

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.

So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemd so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.

Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?

How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you had bought, but what you had built; not what you had gotten, but what you had given.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is not what you had learned, but what you had taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident, nor is it a matter of circumstance.

Living a life that matters happens only by choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

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Yesterday (February 7 2011) marked the 20th birthday of the Books for Babies packs.

Christchurch City Libraries’ Books for Babies Programme began in 1990, which was International Literacy Year. Since that time over 50,000 packs have been delivered, including one to Thomas when he was 1 day old in Christchurch Women’s Hospital.

Each year the Council deliver about 5,000 Books for Babies packs to parents and babies through hospitals, midwives and the Homebirth Association. The pack contains a high-contrast black and white board book — perfect for very young babies up to about six months.

We used and used that book with Thomas, and it was the first of many, many books he has owned and helped shape his love for reading.

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People in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, have spent the week withdrawing their maximum allowance of books in protest against council plans to close it as part of budget cuts. And they said the plan had been a success, with all 16,000 books withdrawn from the library.

Friends of Stony Stratford Library (FOSSL) used Facebook to rally residents when Council budget cuts threatened the closure of their local library.

The Stony Stratford Council wrote to 6,000 townspeople in December, telling them that while the threat of closure was only a threat, it was time to prove how crucial the library was to the community. So then began the Facebook campaign to prove the point. Locals rallied behind the campaign and at the peak of the protest the group calculate  that books were being checked out at a rate of around 378 per hour.

According to the Guardian, the last few books lent out were self-help books and practical mechanics books. But all were checked out, and now all the library staff have to do is dust the shelves.

One of the locals summed up the value of a local library when he said, “The library is the one place where you find five-year-olds and 90-year-olds together, and it’s where young people learn to be proper citizens.”

Stony Stratford’s previous claim to fame is originating the expression “a cock and bull story, from the name of the local pub “The Cock & Bull”.  However it has been suggested that maybe now they can coin a new expression for community efforts. “Shelf clearing”? “The community got together for a shelf clearing to protest the closure of the local nature walk. Locals say that officials are giving them a cock and bull story about litter on the trail.” Maybe? Maybe not. But the sight of an empty library because it’s thriving rather than closing is pretty inspiring.

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Whilst I am now back at work I am still finishing off the pile of books which Howard bought me for Christmas. None are what you might call literary classics, but all are favourite authors whose books I have enjoyed over the years. In fact Christmas 2010 was the end of an era as Howard has bought me the latest Dick Francis novel every year for Christmas since we met in 1985 (there were a couple of years in the early 2000s when there as no book after Dick’s wife Mary died), but overall a pretty impressive record over 25 years. Anyway Dick Francis died in May last year and so CrossFire was the last book that had his name on it. His son Felix has been writing with him and I suspect that he will continue and we will start a new tradition for Christmas 2011. One of the things I like about Francis’ books and also John Francome’s is that they are boith ex jockeys from the same part of the UK as me, so they talk about places that I know well. When you live 12,000 miles away it is sometimes nice to have those personal connections. Old friend (and now fellow NZ resident Di) and I used to spend far too much time at Newbury Races and Dick Francis was a regular spectator there (in those days John Francome was in fact still riding).

So easy reading and happy memories, what more do you want from a book.

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A walk through Ecchinswell’s St Lawrence churchyard, with the smell of the yew trees reminded me of this poem-

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire’s return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share,

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour:-
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault
If Memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne’er unroll;
Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country’s blood.

Th’ applause of list’ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation’s eyes,

Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

Yet e’en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th’ unletter’d Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e’er resign’d,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E’en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who, mindful of th’ unhonour’d dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, —

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;

‘There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

‘Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross’d in hopeless love.

‘One morn I miss’d him on the custom’d hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

‘The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,-
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.’

The Epitaph

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melacholy marked him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven (’twas all he wish’d) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode
(There they alike in trembling hope repose),
The bosom of his Father and his God.

By Thomas Gray (1716-71).

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Stopped on way to Devon to show Derek one of the ancient sights of the South of England. I tried to find that pasasge from Tess of the D’Urbervilles, that so eloquently describes the mystique of Stonehenge, but could not find it so have made do with these more earthy comments from Bill Bryson.

“I know this goes without saying, but Stonehenge really was the most incredible accomplishment. It took five hundred men just to pull each sarsen, plus a hundred more to dash around positioning the rollers. Just think about it for a minute. Can you imagine trying to talk six hundred people into helping you drag a fifty-ton stone eighteen miles across the countryside and muscle it into an upright position, and then saying, ‘Right, lads! Another twenty like that, plus some lintels and maybe a couple of dozen nice bluestones from Wales, and we can party!’ Whoever was the person behind Stonehenge was one dickens of a motivator, I’ll tell you that.”
Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island)

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Friend Sonia reminded me of this poem by the wonderful author Maya Angelou

money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own,
even if she never wants to or needs to…

perfect to wear if the employer,
or date of her dreams
wants to see her in an hour…


a youth she’s content to leave behind….

a past juicy
enough that she’s looking forward to
retelling it in her
old age….

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…

one friend who
always makes her laugh.. and one who lets her cry…

a good piece
of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her

matching plates, wine glasses with stems,
and a recipe for
a meal,
that will make her guests feel honoured…

a feeling of
control over her destiny..

how to fall in love without losing herself..

how to quit
a job,
break up with a lover,
and confront a friend
ruining the friendship…


when to try harder… and WHEN TO WALK

that she can’t change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

that her
childhood may not have been perfect…but it’s over…..

what she
would and wouldn’t do for love or more…

how to live
alone… even if she doesn’t like it…

whom she can trust,
whom she can’t,
and why she shouldn’t take it personally…

where to
be it to her best friend’s kitchen table..
or a
charming Inn in the woods….
when her soul needs

What she can and can’t accomplish in a day…
month…and a year…

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One of the keynote speakers today was Tom Kelley, general manager of IDEO and author of the best-seller The Art of Innovation. IDEO have worked with Apple transferring a number of their ideas into products, such as the Apple mouse and Palm V,

The focus of his talk was on how to use innovation to transform a business’s (school’s) culture and strategic thinking. Tom has helped manage IDEO as it has grown from 20 designers to a staff of more than 350. During that time, he has been responsible for diverse areas such as business development, marketing, human resources, and operations.

Tom’s book  The Ten Faces of Innovation (which we all got a copy of) reveals ten unique strategies for making sure that good ideas make it to market.

The Learning Personas

Individuals and organisations need to constantly gather new sources of information in order to expand their knowledge and grow, so the first three personas are learning roles. These personas are driven by the idea that no matter how successful a company currently is, no one can afford to be complacent.

The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is the person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at reframing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.

The Experimenter celebrates the process, not the tool, testing and retesting potential scenarios to make ideas tangible. A calculated risk-taker, this person models everything from products to services to proposals in order to efficiently reach a solution. To share the fun of discovery, the Experimenter invites others to collaborate, while making sure that the entire process is saving time and money.

The Cross-Pollinator draws associations and connections between seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts to break new ground. Armed with a wide set of interests, an avid curiosity, and an aptitude for learning and teaching, the Cross-Pollinator brings in big ideas from the outside world to enliven their organization. People in this role can often be identified by their open mindedness, diligent note-taking, tendency to think in metaphors, and ability to reap inspiration from constraints.

The Organising Personas

The next three personas are organizing roles, played by individuals who are savvy about the often counter-intuitive process of how organizations move ideas forward. Those who adopt these organizing roles don’t dismiss the process of budget and resource allocation as “politics” or “red tape.”

The Hurdler is a tireless problem-solver who gets a charge out of tackling something that’s never been done before. When confronted with a challenge, the Hurdler gracefully sidesteps the obstacle while maintaining a quiet, positive determination. This optimism and perseverance can help big ideas upend the status quo as well as turn setbacks into an organization’s greatest successes—despite doomsday forecasting by shortsighted experts.

The Collaborator is the rare person who truly values the team over the individual. In the interest of getting things done, the Collaborator coaxes people out of their work silos to form multidisciplinary teams. In doing so, the person in this role dissolves traditional boundaries within organizations and creates opportunities for team members to assume new roles. More of a coach than a boss, the Collaborator instills their team with the confidence and skills needed to complete the shared journey.

The Director has an acute understanding of the bigger picture, with a firm grasp on the pulse of their organisation. Subsequently, the Director is talented at setting the stage, targeting opportunities, bringing out the best in their players, and getting things done. Through empowerment and inspiration, the person in this role motivates those around them to take center stage and embrace the unexpected.

The Building Personas

The four remaining personas are building roles that apply insights from the learning roles and channel the empowerment from the organising roles to make innovation happen.

The Experience Architect is that person relentlessly focused on creating remarkable individual experiences. This person facilitates positive encounters with your organization through products, services, digital interactions, spaces, or events. Whether an architect or a sushi chef, the Experience Architect maps out how to turn something ordinary into something distinctive—even delightful—every chance they get.

The Set Designer looks at every day as a chance to liven up their workspace. They promote energetic, inspired cultures by creating work environments that celebrate the individual and stimulate creativity. To keep up with shifting needs and foster continuous innovation, the Set Designer makes adjustments to a physical space to balance private and collaborative work opportunities. In doing so, this person makes space itself one of an organization’s most versatile and powerful tools.

The Storyteller captures our imagination with compelling narratives of initiative, hard work, and innovation. This person goes beyond oral tradition to work in whatever medium best fits their skills and message: video, narrative, animation, even comic strips. By rooting their stories in authenticity, the Storyteller can spark emotion and action, transmit values and objectives, foster collaboration, create heroes, and lead people and organizations into the future.

The Caregiver is the foundation of human-powered innovation. Through empathy, they work to understand each individual customer and create a relationship. Whether a nurse in a hospital, a salesperson in a retail shop, or a teller at an international financial institution, the Caregiver guides the client through the process to provide them with a comfortable, human-centered experience.

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Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

Picked up a favourite poetry book tonight and came across an old favourite by WB Yeats. As parents and as educators this is something we need to be reminded off, but something it is easy to forget in the stress and strains of everday life.

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We celebrated the new year with SingStar at friends Juanita and Philip’s house. We tried Singstar Abba, 80s and Rock Legends, but to no avail we were pretty useless at all of them.. not helped by the fact that the Reddish famaily can all sing! Although I think it would be safe to say that the Hughes family will never be winning any talent competiton for our singing. Nevertheless a good time was had by all and a great way to celebrate the New Year. We even tried to sign Auld Lang Syne, but all forgot the words, so lots of umming- must relearn them as I used to know them.

… and Phil- that video needs to be destroyed!

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This book was written by fellow New Jerseyite and long-term Springsteen friend Robert Santelli and was written with the full co-operation of the band. The result is this fully illustrated informal biography combines rare photographs with 30 removable facsimiles of E Street memorabilia, including Bruce Springsteen’s first business card and hand-written set list, and even two great posters. Santelli follows the highs and lows of the band from the early days in Asbury Park, New Jersey, to the critical acclaim of Born to Run, the mania of Born in the U.S.A.(when the rest of the world discovered Springsteen), the international touring, and each member’s unique projects.

There were lots of memories for me of concerts attended over the years, many with good friend Di who was with me when we attended his best concert yet in Cardiff this year. We are heading up to stay with her next week and I will have to take this book so we can reminisce some more!

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It is almost Spring and flowers have started to appear everywhere- bright yellow daffodils, lovely pink blossom and little bluebells starting to show through in the park. It reminded me of this poem by Jessica Maness, so for all of you a flower…

I will give you the flower of song and dance
I will give you the flower of spirit and romance
I will give you the flower of love and lust
I will give you the flower of power and trust
I will give you the flower of life and air
although life can be complicated and unfair
I will give you the flower – will you accept?

lilies.jpg daisy.jpg daffodils.jpg juliasrose.jpg

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centrallibrary.jpgWe have just returned from the Christchurch city central library. Although we are lucky enough to have to suburban branches us near our house, we sometimes make the trip into the city centre if we are looking for something in particular. This afternoon it was books on Ireland for a school project that drew us into town. Free parking for the first hour next door to the library and the reduced traffic in the city at weekends makes it a very pleasant experience, and we often use the opportunity to explore parts of the city that I don’t have time to get to in the week, despite being close to the centre each day.

NZMusicMonth.gifAs usual the library was buzzing with activity May is NZ Music month and jazz singer Jennine Bailey was performing in the fiction section area, with lovely sounds floating all through the floors of the building.

MRhairyfront cover.jpgIn the children’s section we were reminded that 2008 is the 25th anniversary of the renowned Hairy Maclary. Author Lynley Dodd’s has been writing about Hairy, the scruffy little black dog and his friends including Bottomley Potts (all covered in spots), Bitzer Maloney (all skinny and boney) and Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town. There cannot be many parents in New Zealand who do not know at least one of her books off by heart!. I have atatched a video found on YouTube of the first of the books, Hairy Maclarey from Donaldson’s Diary.

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SCAN0007_edited.JPGRemember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land,
When you can no more hold me by the hand
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay
Remember me when no more day by day,
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Christina Rosetti

James Julian Weeks (5th August 1957-8th January 2004)

It is hard to believe that it was been 4 years since we lost our very good friend James. I remember the year had started so well, with the wedding of Thomas’ godparents Lee and Barry in Wanganui, followed by a short holiday in the Waikato with other old friends. We got back refreshed and ready to start the year, and 2 days later got the phone call that said that James had been viciously and inexplicably
. We met James when we first moved to Oxford, in NZ in 1996- and discovered he was also from Hampshire. It was wonderful having that shared past and reminiscing about places we both knew and even some mutual acquaintances.

4 years later, despite a conviction for the crime, we are no closer to understanding why this happened; however we know one thing, we will not forget James and although we miss him desperately and mourn for what he (and we) have missed, we give thanks for all the wonderful times that we had together and for our friendship.

We remember and we try not to grieve.

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