Celebrating my birthday was a perfect excuse for six sisters to get together.* Here are a few highlights from a perfect mystery sisterly long weekend. This is a story of happiness at 80.
First to the Banks Peninsula Spring Fair. Fun, fruit salad, fiddles and family at the Orton Bradley Park in Charteris Bay. It’s such a gorgeous location that even the toilet block has charm.
Next day, to Hinewai Reserve for a happy and significant event, the 75th birthday of the renowned botanist Hugh Wilson and his twin sister Hilary. This was my first visit to Hinewai, and it was a joy to walk in the atmospheric forest that has regenerated from gorse-covered paddocks over 30 years.
There we witnessed a personal best by our youngest sister. She swears she finds the very idea of walking in a forest ridiculous and pointless. But look, here she is, captured on film, doing the dreaded deed and—smiling. (She’s physically fit, by the way, playing fierce tennis four days a week.)
Next two nights were in a perfect 6-bedroom house in Akaroa (through BachCare): our final destination a mystery no more. As children we had lived in the Akaroa vicarage and it set a benchmark for all future homes. Close to a safe beach, a beautiful harbour, a big-enough vicarage and kind people. Where better for a nostalgia trip now that we’re all aged between 75 and 83?
We revisited the vicarage, walked (again!), swam, ate and drank extremely well, and this splendid reunion culminated in a re-enactment of a Brownie meeting in a fairy dell (or close to one). Here we are listening to a fairy tale, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, read by Tawny Owl. Afterwards, Brown Owl asked us very sweetly what we learned from the story. Imagine the answers…
Now here is the mandatory update on our favourite old photos of sisters in a row. This one has real steps and stairs, and sun too bright for flattery—and all is well. We may be all in blue but nobody’s blue: this too is happiness at 80.
At one point we were walking down a hill slope that I found irresistible, sheep poo notwithstanding.
These precious few days celebrated far more than one woman’s mere birthday. They were all about the blessing and sheer happiness of being sisters, having sisters. My heart nearly burst.
* Plus our dear indispensible Richard. Other partners couldn’t make it. We toasted the men in our lives, past and present.
PS Why is this video repeated? I will investigate. Twice viewed is overkill. Three times is … vanity?