25 August 2013

Homage to home

I’ve had lots of homes in my life – in fact, a quick count reveals that my latest move brings the total to 27.

My first 17 years were spent in the bosom of my family, in the little town of Ngaruawahia, where I was born. The first few years were in a two-bedroom state house, then we moved to a larger state house in the next street soon after my brother was born. That was home for about 14 years and is where my many wonderful childhood memories are based.


Our family home in Ngaruawahia


Dorset St (the red cast is a result of
 using Kodak film in the 70s)
At 17, I went to Auckland for university, and lived a riotous life in a student hostel, before dropping out and heading off to Sydney with a friend for my first, rather short overseas adventure. There were two small, rather grotty flats in Sydney.

After that hot summer, I returned to New Zealand and a flat with 3 others in Kohimarama, followed by my first experience of living alone in half of an old house in Herne Bay. Next came a move with my job at TVNZ to Christchurch, where I lived in 4 different places in the 18 months I spent there. My first home there was in the heritage-listed Dorset Street Flats, which I see from googling suffered some damage in the 2011 earthquake; the others, in old wooden houses, appear to have survived intact.

The Ponsonby house in 2011 (image
from Ray White Realty)
Back in Auckland, I lived first on the waterfront in Kohimarama, in a flat owned by Sir Michael Fay, who lived next door and wasn’t then a ‘sir’. From there I had a few months in a little place in Mission Bay but on the wrong side of the hill, before purchasing my very first home of my own, a wonderful two-storey colonial house in Ponsonby, in the days before the developers moved in. I bought that house for about $27,000 and it’s probably now worth over a million! It was a very social house, the setting for many parties and Sundays ‘at home’. Next was a short interlude of just a couple of months in a concrete-block flat in Parnell, which was very cold but my bedroom had the most wonderful view of the museum and the greenery of The Domain.

And then my next journey to foreign shores got underway, with my first home a bedsit in the Edinburgh suburb of Stockbridge, in a Georgian terrace house that was built before New Zealand was settled – I loved that sense of history, and that marvellous city, particularly as I was footloose and fancy free during the time of the annual festival so roamed the streets enjoying daily doses of culture. But I craved the snow so headed north to the mountains, a job in a hotel and 6 months in their staff hostel. I loved that place too, the daily wilderness walks and the grandeur of those mountains … and the wild whisky-filled winter nights.

Stockbridge, Edinburgh (mine was one of those first floor windows) (image from an Edinburgh realtor)

It was in Aviemore that I met my future husband and my next move was in with him, much to his parents’ initial horror, in a bedsit in Glasgow’s Queens Park in a ‘blonde sandstone building of striking architecture c.1900'. That was mostly a cosy little place, though the bizzie-lizzies on the window seat froze solid one particularly freezing mid-winter night when the temperature descended to minus 17!

Queen's Park, Glasgow (ours were the two windows below ground level at the left) (image from a Glasgow realtor)

After a couple of years, by which time we were married, we set off on the longest possible honeymoon … nine months spent travelling back to New Zealand. I haven’t counted any of those places we stayed as homes, though we did get rather attached to a very cheap bedroom in an unfinished hotel run by a Greek named Giorgos on the island of Ios and lingered there a couple of months

In Papakura, I became something of a gardener

Arriving back in New Zealand rather broke, we dossed down with Mum and Dad in Ngaruawahia for a short time (I haven’t counted that either) before moving to Papakura, not by choice but because the ex had a specialised profession and that’s where the work was. We rented for perhaps 18 months, saving every possible penny, before buying our first home together.


The Titirangi house


After 13 years in Papakura, my second-longest abode, we bought our second home, in Auckland’s bush-filled suburb of Titirangi, where I lived for 5½ years, before leaving the marital home and moving into my bachelorette pad in the rather stylish Connaught apartment block in central Auckland city.

The bachelorette pad (images from my latest realtor)
After 5½ years my itchy feet got the better of me once again and my third overseas adventure led me to Peru, where I spent 18 months in a nice little place in Cusco, another physically cold abode but with the spiritual warmth of the friendly locals as compensation. From Peru, I travelled half way around the world to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where I hopped from one guesthouse to another and then one more in the 6 months I was there.

My last abode in Siem Reap


From there back to Auckland, to that dinky little bachelorette pad with its fabulous views over the inner city and down the sparkling Waitemata harbour. And though I returned to sell that place and become a vagabond, I found the opportunity instead to remain in the same building but downsize was too good to pass over, so my latest and current home is in the same building, with almost the same view but much less space. I’m still unpacking my books, settling in, getting cosy, putting my pictures up … but this new home has a really good feeling to it. It may be small but it’s perfectly formed!


My new home


* Please note that many of the photos shown here are not my own but were found seemingly freely available on the internet. I have added acknowledgements where known. If I have unknowingly used one of your photos and you'd like it removed or acknowledged, I apologise and ask that you contact me.