From the Editor - September 2011
|Sally wears a blue top from Browns of Remuera and a Cancer Society daffodil. The society’s Daffodil day flagship appeal is on Friday August 26. Photographed by Jane Ussher; hair by Michael Kent; make-up by Kaitlin Chapman
My husband, Nick, is one of a rare breed of New Zealanders: he has lived in the same place his entire life. Sixty-odd years ago – before the harbour bridge was built – his parents bought half an acre of land studded with giant elms on Auckland’s North Shore. Before we married, Nick took out a Housing Corp loan and built a modest wooden house under one of the trees. Three decades, two kids, a couple of mortgages and three extensions later, we are in the same house, under the same tree.
Statistics tell us that every two years around a quarter of New Zealanders up sticks, so it’s clear Nick is a remarkably stable chap. Sometimes we talk about moving, but it always comes back to the same thing: “I don’t think we’ll find something that suits us better,” he says. I agree and so we ditch the moving idea and draw up plans to add on more space for the kids or whatever. Nick knows the drainage plan without having to consult the council website.
Most of the time I like the connected feeling of staying put – the fact that we know the last elm leaves will drop by my birthday, for example. But lately I’ve been wondering if shifting would be good for Nick and me. I’ve been prompted by the news that three NZ House & Garden contributors are happily on the move to new homes: columnist Janice Marriott has bought a villa in Auckland to be near her new grandson; her country correspondent Virgina Pawsey is moving to a smaller farm. Our style editor Tracey Strange Watts is buzzing with so many ideas for her new 60s home that she is going to start a blog (more on that in a future issue). I’ve been getting upbeat emails from all of them, humming with fresh-start energy. “Change is good for the soul,” I told Nick last night. “We’re getting boring.”
Then, today, an email from Elizabeth Woods, our blogger in Christchurch (follow her on nzhouseandgarden.co.nz). She too is on the move. The cottage she moved into after the quake has been sold, so she’s found another rental. There was no excitment in Elizabeth’s email, just sadness. “When I moved into my house, I thought that would be it for the next 40 years and I would end up a funny old lady living in the midst of an overgrown lost garden,” she wrote.
She made that vanished prospect sound deeply satisfying. It was a reminder that staying put does have its charms and that change is not always good for the soul, particularly if it is foisted upon you.
Living in one home most of your life may not be the Kiwi way – it may even be boring, as I am fond of pointing out to Nick – but right now I suspect hundreds of homeless Cantabrians would love to have the choice of doing just that.PS:
I’ve mounted a campaign over recent months to find NZ House & Garden-worthy Christchurch homes to keep up the city’s presence in the magazine. This issue we’ve a couple of beauties and a garden. Welcome back, Christchurch.
Story: Sally Duggan