2021 – It was pretty good really

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Welcome to the last day of 2021. A year that has been getting a pretty bum wrap. Sure there was a global pandemic and the world we knew was once again turned upside down, self-isolated, wore a mask, and had a needle or two in its arm. The old life of international travel, seeing family and friends (especially in the UK) was all a forbidden fruit in 2021. But on balance and from my world view, it was a pretty good year really.


As with 2020, the absence of international travel meant that we’ve focused on exploring our own wee part of the planet a little more. And given that it’s Aotearoa New Zealand it’s pretty worth exploring! Katherine and I enjoyed several ‘mini-breaks’ in 2021. We started the year staying in our beloved Akaroa with Annie and Katie. Lots of walks and pottering about the sea-side village.

Katie’s ‘novice’ season of rowing was still underway so we joined her at the South Island champs at Lake Ruataniwha in January.

Molly relocated to Wellington in February so she and I enjoyed a road trip and ferry crossing with all her gear. It was a long weekend and we were able to get her settled in her new flat and still enjoy some exploring.

Katherine, Katie and I enjoyed our first ever visit to Rakiura Stewart Island with great friends in April. It was wonderful and I thoroughly recommend it to those who have yet to visit.

We visited Annie and Molly and had a lovely long weekend in Wellington in late April and enjoyed some unseasonably sunny weather. Wellington on a good day is (as the saying goes) unbeatable.

It was all work work work until October when Katherine, Katie and I had a trip to Rotorua, Whakatane (to stay with Katherine’s sister Louise and her husband Stefan on their fantastic wee farm) and Mount Maunganui. Katie got her first tastes of riding a motorbike and driving a car.

Upon returning from that trip I turned around and flew back to the North Island again. This time with school chums Alex and Robo to canoe the Wanganui River (the fourth amigo, Michael, has relocated to Edinburgh as the covid is better there apparently). We spent a magical four days on the river. It was another first and a totally brilliant experience (despite Alex’s organisational skills, which were a real gas).

Katie rejoined the Marian Rowing Squad in October so we’ve been back to Lake Ruataniwha once already.

And to finish the year we’ve just had a couple of nights on Banks Peninsula staying in a beautiful cottage above Purau.

So no complaints on the getting away and having a break department.


We’ve spent some time and money on home improvements, as one does. This year we finally made good on the “getting a spa pool” aspiration.

I can’t remember how long I’ve wanted one, but it’s been on the list for a very long time. We’ve hemmed and hawed about getting one at this house (we’re hoping to find a house on the hills above Sumner but have so far not been lucky enough to secure one). In the end, we just decided to get on with it. It involved a new deck area and the replacement of an existing deck.

It’s all turned out rather well (in my humble opinion). It’s bought life to a tired and messy part of the section and no one can claim it’s not getting used!

When New Zealand went into lockdown in August this year I spent most of my lockdown in the pool. I love reading in the spa and of course “spa gazing” my dad-joke reference to stargazing from the spa. We’ve become quite good at spotting Mr. Musk’s satellites.


Work has been really enjoyable in 2021. I miss the travel abroad but I’ve traveled to and from Auckland (the Mothership) a fair few times over the year and have had several trips to Wellington, the home of our largest New Zealand customer and my old Ministry. I even made a flying visit to Brisbane for two days (an important meeting). It was not very relaxing given I had yet to be vaccinated (I have since been fully vaccinated and feel that such a trip would be less of a worry).

It was my first experience of international travel during the pandemic and very different from the weekly commutes I made to Brisbane for 3 months in late 2019. The airport(s) were ghost towns, the travel involved being masked up from home to hotel and all points in between. Thankfully there were no covid tests or managed quarantine needed at any point. There was a Trans-Tasman travel bubble in place at the time.

I am still loving working from SaltWorks, the shared workspace I relocated to in 2020. I wasn’t enjoying working from home for 5 days a week. In the past it was tolerable, as I was invariably overseas somewhere for at least two weeks a month. Without that option I was going to go mad(der).

I started off at SaltWorks as a lone representative for Foster Moore. I ended the year with 6 shiny new colleagues and our own studio within the Works community. It’s a wonderful environment, the people are interesting, caring and hilarious. It’s great to have a collection of clever people to interact with each day. And best of all it’s dog friendly so Bean can come in. In fact he loves it as much as me. He ‘works’ from SaltWorks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He’s at home with Katherine on the other days.

Bean is 4 in February 2022 and is very much a part of our family. He has a rather lovely temperament and is very loyal and loving.


A more recent purchase has been an eBike. I’ve been using it to get to and from work on those days I’m not required to deliver Katie to rowing (early morning starts). It’s great to be on a bike again. One of the great legacies of our awful earthquakes has been the construction of a network of dedicated cycleways. They’re great and allow for easy and (relatively) safe cycling in our (mainly) flat city.


I purchased a fancy scanner in the winter. It allows me to scan from colour-slides, film negatives and so on. I am the custodian of a lot (and I mean a lot) of my parent’s old photo collections. I also am looking after my Aunt Angela’s photos also. So when the mood takes me I can scan from negatives or dad’s old slides and try and preserve the family history. It’s been fun finding old negatives of our own and scanning those also.

Our crew

Annie, Molly and Katie continue to make us proud. They’ve each had amazing years.

Annie had quite a bad accident and broke her wrist in March. It required surgery and took some time to recover. She’s back on her (repaired) bike and training for the next triathlon or multisport event.

We were lucky to have all the family home for the lockdown in August and our house was a hive of fun and laughter (and people trying to find space for zoom calls, yoga or baking).

Molly is in the midst of her Master of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. She’s also a teacher aide working with children with autism so very busy.

Katie had a busy year 10. Rowing at the beginning and end of the year (the rowing season is in Summer of course). Our noticeboard has evidence of a good year’s academic study also. You’ll be surprised to learn that she’s taken one or two selfies and sent the occasional snapchat too.

We are very lucky to have these great humans in our life.

2021 ends

As I say, it’s been a pretty good year really. I’ve enjoyed lots of good books (The Thursday Murder Club is a must-read for all), seen some great movies (Dune was fantastic). Walked a lot, taken one or two photos of a beach. Drunk an inordinate number of cups of coffee at Joe’s, Black and White Coffee Cartel, SaltWorks or wherever there was a need (there’s ALWAYS a need). I’ve drunk some fantastic single malts (Caol Ila) and generally done all those things I do.

I’m blessed to have a family who love me (and I them), a dog who adores me (well in my mind it’s me, not the walks and never-ending treats). We have a beautiful home in a beautiful part of the world. More broadly we live in a country that has been spared the death and sorrow wrought by the pandemic. So I’m nothing but thankful.

The end is nigh (tonight in fact)

We’ve just had all the family home for Christmas.

Molly, Annie, Katie and Bean

Molly has now headed to the North Island to see in the New Year with her friends. Annie has just driven off in the fancy new Volvo (what lovely parents she has) and is heading to do some running and other outdoor activities with mates. She will see in the New Year at Arthur’s Pass and then head to Wanaka. Similarly, Katie has gone off to her friend’s to welcome 2022.

Katherine and I are heading to my sister Terri’s for a fondue (perhaps it’s 1971 instead of 2021?) and will then see off the year with an assortment of siblings.

I am looking forward to 2022.

I am hopeful that international travel will be a thing once more. I’m hoping to get to Phoenix and Toronto in May and then Sweden and the UK in June. We will have to see. In the mean-time we have more rowing regattas to attend, a wedding in Auckland, and a host of other domestic adventures ahead.

Who knows we may even get lucky and find that house on the hill.

Thanks for taking the time to read to this bit. I wish you all every best wish for 2022. May it bring you health, happiness and good digestion.

Peace to all.



  1. A great read, as usual. Thanks Justin.

    Wishing you all a very happy New Year. Please do visit us here at Pirihitia when you get the chance.

    Steve and Karen

    Steve Gibson Sent from my iPad Mobile: +64 21 085 49948


  2. Aww, what a nice post, and beautiful pics for me to experience your part of the world. I’ve always loved Dune, but this new movie seemed to drag on in what was a very small part of the story, and I couldn’t help feeling cheated somewhat, lol. Anyway, all the best for 2022, Justin!

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