Saturday, 6 October 2007

Why New Zealand?

I don’t think that anyone wonders why I should want to spend time in New Zealand. It is, after all, a beautiful place with an equable climate and friendly, hospitable people. But there is more to it than that.

Friends, whom I have known for many years, emigrated to New Zealand a few years ago and love it. So much so that, in 2005, they eventually were successful in persuading me to go for a visit. I fell in love: with the place, the weather, the attitudes, the activities, the outdoor life but, above all, with the people and, in particular, with my host family.

In New Zealand I had no history, no memories, no ties and, indeed, nothing to prevent complete relaxation and contentment. I was accepted purely for who I was at face value then, not what I was because of my known past – because I had no known past.

In New Zealand when a child reaches his or her fifth birthday he (or she) graduates from Pre-School and starts attending Junior School on the day after the Birthday. When I first visited my friends, Catriona was just five. I promised to return for the ‘graduation’. I’m not quite sure why but I decided that if I was going out at all I would go out for six months – the longest period that one can stay. In September 2006 I set out for what was to be one of the most wonderful and life-changing things that I have ever done. And I have never regretted a single moment.

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