By Published On: February 20, 2024Comments Off on New!

It’s been a great start to the year, with the word new being a recurring theme. How many times have you had a new experience so far this year?

Our eldest daughter lives in New Zealand. We visit her and the family every two or three years, usually, though there have been a few occasions when our visit has been annual. This year was one of them, having last travelled there February and March last year. Why go back so far, so soon? It’s due to age and finance, which are closely linked when it comes to travel, and especially long-haul. I used to take out an annual, 12 month travel insurance. Then, with increasing age, they refused an annual policy, and we have to take one out each trip. And now, with the years passing, it’s becoming expensive. Finally, with my 80th birthday in a few months, and the prospect of a further significant hike in the fee, we  decided to get there again pronto. 

We love being with family, and especially where family has a decent sized swimming pool, and it is summer (January, February), and they have a seaside holiday home, and love restaurants, and are partial to curry. We swam, we ate, we sunbathed, and walked the dog. Time with family is very special, and particularly in New Zealand during their summertime. I’m tapping this out in the lounge at Auckland airport, whilst making little attempt to resist the array of dishes and drinks available, having put on significant weight already. We’ll be home in a few days, and must start getting a diet organised.

The overall flight time from London to Auckland is around 24 hours. The journey needs to be broken into at least 2 legs, which gives opportunity to stop over in interesting places. Over the past 24 years, we have visited Indonesia to view orang-utans, explored fascinating countries, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Singapore, and others. We have also had restful beach holidays in the South Pacific – the Cook Islands and Fiji. In January this year, we stopped off for a week in Tahiti. This was new to us, and is part of French Polynesia. It was hot at around 30°C, sometimes more, and we either sat in the shade and read, or swam. And there were restaurants. But, it was more expensive than I’m used to!

New Zealand, and our new holiday destination, Tahiti, were exciting. No less, the imminent publication of my new book, TALES OF A COUNTRY BOY. Writing is a hobby, more than a business, and though my books have been stocked by various book shops over the years, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Waterstones, a huge chain of book shops, had my previous tome, BIG BLUE SKY, on their shelves. “It’s on display next to the men’s toilets”, said son-in-law Tim, on a mooch around Norwich just before Christmas! I’m grateful to Waterstones, who I notice are now offering 6 of my previous books on their website, for giving me more street cred, and to Bittern Books, the wholesaler who supplies them. It was the recognition they gave me with BIG BLUE SKY, that motivated me to write TALES OF A COUNTRY BOY. There are anecdotes concerning fascinating, rural Norfolk characters – wily countrymen who always seem to gain the upper hand over the authorities; there are childhood stories, demonstrating the Norfolk accent as it used to be; I look at Norfolk through the 4 seasons; and so much more.

I am currently reading through the book of psalms. It is probably my favourite book of the Bible, and I read it at least once every year. I can identify with the psalmist in all his various moods and situations. This morning I read psalm 149 (so there’s one to go!) and verse 2 exhorts us to ‘sing a new song to the Lord’. And that is not the only place where we are told to do that. A new song? Wendy and I start each morning with a short Bible reading and prayer, and every day we thank the Lord for the blessings of the previous day. Not quite a song, because we don’t sing our thanks, but essentially the same. A new song.

New Zealand, a new holiday destination, a new book and a new song. Routine can be good, and we need a degree of self-discipline in our lives, but we should also find new things to do, new places to visit, and maintain the freshness of creativity.

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Barrie Lawrence

Hi! I’m Barrie Lawrence, author, speaker, ex-dental surgeon and bookseller, Christian.

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