On the right of this photograph is New Brighton Beach, Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. There in the distance is Banks Peninsula. Whenever I ever traveled the short distance from our home in Pages Road to the beach and as I walked out towards the beckoning sand and waves I always instinctively turned my head to the right to gaze towards this massive peninsula with its twin volcanic cones and its long and rugged coastline.
My eyes would scan the soft brown tussock covered hills and then look at the line where the sea met the peninsula. I was always hoping to see a little white triangle. To see such a shape was to know that out there was a little yacht having an adventure as she made her way around the bays and harbours of the peninsula. This was my fathers weekend yacht cruising and racing ground. Many, many a time I eagerly accompanied him. So to see a small white triangle of sail was to know, feel and envy what was happening on that horizon.
Sometimes on the weekend I would go for long walks to the south on New Brighton beach towards these old hills with my father. Although the distance and the route there and back on the beach might vary, one ritual always remained the same. We would, without fail, find on the beach long, straight, sturdy walking staffs. My father would cut them to length and trim the ends with his wooden handled pocket knife. Sometimes I would use his knife to strip off the bark from a likely looking staff. But the staffs I liked best were those that didn't require stripping. They came ready made by the action of salt, sea, sand and sun. They were bare, bleached and smooth to the hand. I just loved doing all this with my dad.
I still have that old pocket knife that belonged to my dear old Dad. I keep it on my yacht 'Mariner'. Sometimes I just take out the old knife and stare at it. And remember.