Friday, August 5, 2016

The Big Day

Well, Dad turned 80 years old alright, and it was a corker. The theme was "The Beach," natch. Had all the ingredients of a good Kiwi knees-up: ham on bone, marinated mussels and champers, followed by enthusiastic dancing to The Beatles (who are surprisingly perfect for that sort of thing), followed by a good old sing song--Ten Guitars and the like.

Dad (right) and his friend John Harwood on the Heafy Track. Like his beret!

Dad (left) with his friends from the bank. Like his cravat!

Dad and Mum at opening of Wellington Airport, 1959. Mum made her dress

Dad (middle) at age 17 with his siblings, Leo, Mary, Gabriel, Chris and Paula. 

All the Big Names from Down The Road were there: Hendy and Pam and loads of other people I've known since I was five. Living in a small town (we're talking 2000 people!) keeps you honest--and tolerant. (Living in a larger town, as I do, some people feel free to burn bridges and they are not called to account.)

My sister Sharon and Dad in the back yard
My brother Tony and I went as tourists off a cruise boat. Very fun costume to wear for dancing

Lead me to the buffet, baby!
Mum with grandkids, Leah and Finn. They wore t-shirts with pic of Dad roller blading 
Reece, Kerry and other sister Pietra came as Edwardian bathers.
Not sure what's going on here but involving speeches
Tallulah's letter

The day came good 

You know my technique by now: I stayed off the booze for a couple of hours, so as not to blow my arse.  Then tried to be vigilant about not being "over-served" by the bartender.

Not so with the tuis outside who kept sipping on the blooms from the Fire Tree: they get drunk on it and fall out of the tree!
Drunken Tuis outside celebrating Dad's 80th

Dad spent most of the winter months last year in the old toy room writing a book about the first years of his life. (He published 1000 copies for $1,000 through the local Whakatane Beacon newspaper, which I thought was jolly good value.) His family moved from Manchester, England to Bahrein and then to NZ. At age 16, he did not do well in his exams and his parents were very short of money, so he was sent to work on the Cobb Dam for a year. It was extremely hard yakka, as they say, but it sorted him out. He saved money and returned to school, determined to pass his exams.

The cover photo from when Dad's family was in Eqypt

Dad is pretty hale and hearty, still doing his walk over the hill bike rides, and golf I asked him what kept him so fit.
"Doing exercise every day."
He thought more.
"Not eating or drinking too much."
Thought some more.
"Cutting back on food and drink now and again."
And finally.
"Honestly, I think it's genes."

Next morning


  1. What a party! Love your costume. That's incredible that your Dad is 80!

  2. Oh this did make me smile this morning. Love your mum's white dress and your dad looking suave in a cravat. Cracking up at your costume - your family certainly know how to party. Happy birthday to your dad xxx

  3. I loved reading this post! How wonderful that so many family and dear old friends were able to celebrate with your Dad.

    Oh, and the costumes were the perfect touch.

    Himself says in his next life he'd like to be one of those birds.

  4. Read this with a big smile. Well done your dad for hitting a ripe age all hale and hearty, and throwing a bash to celebrate.

    Loved the photo of him and your mum and her fab home-made dress. Very swish.

  5. Great post! So is it just me or does your family have way more fun than most??? Loved your folks at the airport the t-shirts showing dad rollerblading...great idea!! So where can we we buy his book?

  6. Happy belated to your father. Looks like you guys had an amazing time and your outfit is hilarious!!! What an amazing journey not just back then but even now. But I agree with your dad - I think it is genes...

  7. Your family certainly know how to have fun :)
    There is something in the north west of England that makes people tough...that, and the good genes :)

  8. Wonderful pictorial story of your dad and your happy family. I like his adventurous spirit.

  9. Family reunions are great for us shall we say normal people! Its good your Dad is so healthy that is some journey from 1930's Manchester.I'm here in Cali at the moment with my rather frail mum doing pretty much the same thing and loving it all.

  10. Happy 80th to your Dad - my Dad (also from Manchester - Gorton area) turned 80 this week also. The party looks great - just wondering the big question - does your Dad follow City or United? Leigh


  12. Love your family they all seem like such characters!
    Happy Birthday to your Dad, those t-shirts with the picture of him rollerblading are excellent. xo

  13. My dad turned 75 yesterday! We took him out, fed him, gave him plenty to drink...I mean at what point do you just not give a shit! Looks like a fantastic party with friends and family and love galore.

  14. Your family make parties look extra fun! Loving the drama in your sister's speech(!) and Tallulah's letter… hope your Dad enjoyed it all. And lucky you, with those fabulous genes! x

  15. Lovely photos of your parents! How great that he is still fit and active at 80 - my Dad is 72 and looks pretty good for his age, but I'm encouraging him to exercise more so that he stays that way. Sounds like a great party.

  16. What a fun party! Happy birthday to your dad!


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