Escape • Explore • Enjoy

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Month: December 2015

Ki”WE” Conversations – Colin Clapp & Elly McGuinness

Our FB friends – Colin Clapp & Elly McGuinness


“To reduce your waistlines, throw out that processed food in your cupboards.  Over-consumption of the stuff will only make you fat.  Better nutrition will also improve bingo wings from flapping about.”

These are wise words from Elly who once enjoyed a university staple diet of beer, spaghetti bolognese and eating 22 pieces of pizza in a competition against the boys!  Furthermore, she is Mum to two year old Ayla and any signs of pregnancy expansion has long disappeared.

Elly prescribes to what is written in her book ‘The Natural Balance Guide to Burning Fat For Good’.  A reduced waistline, no processed foods in their cupboards, no bingo arms, no beer or spag bol; and the only competing done nowadays is to help others win the race for better nutritional eating and exercise habits.  Finding something to take for morning tea that is vegetarian and gluten free is a chore for us … we love a good sausage roll dipped in processed tomato sauce!

We just about have to take our own gumboot tea and processed milk around too when visiting!

And keeping the family answerable to their life style in other ways is Colin who coaches accountability.  He also helps business owners improve their thinking so that they can get the results that mean the most to them.  Our conversations always inter-link chat that shares knowledge, synergy and where possible, collaborations.

Elly and I were each other’s book accountability coach to keep each other on track with the publishing of our respective books.  Hers was more a ‘pat on the back’ as Elly published toward the end of 2014; for me, it was more a ‘kick up the bum’ eventually publishing November this year.

And with Colin, we are fellow Toastmasters at the same club – it has always been fun watching Colin eat breakfast after a meeting and wondering if what he was eating would be approved by Elly.  Claire wasn’t keeping him accountable neither as she sometimes stuffed in pretty much the same stuff as Colin was too, when she decided to order a breakfast!  I ain’t saying anything either; I have enough of my own lard to worry about, let alone someone else’s management.

Ayla has just turned two and although shy when we first arrived for this face book visit to give her a golden book present; she soon warmed to us and entertained with two year old speak, puzzles and habit of taking off nappy to run nude about the place.

We hold both Mum and Dad accountable.  Why not show off waistlines others would be jealous of  because of the organic foods they consume from their ‘Just Organic’ Food Business they own and operate.

Not us fatties though, sausage rolls are king eh BClaire?!

Ki”WE” Conversations – Ray Lindstrom

Our FB friend – Ray Lindstrom


This was a face book visit with a message that he was comfortable to share, with parting words “And don’t let life’s bastards beat you without giving them a fight!”

Ray’s expertise is franchising businesses.  Our paths crossed when we both joined a .com company that pioneered an on-line accounting system some 15 years ago, way ahead of the Xero product on today’s market.  Unfortunately the company went belly up through running out of venture capital and it wasn’t until BClaire and I had established our childcare business, that we engaged Ray to look at the feasibility of franchising Outaskool.

We always remember Ray questioning our marketing budget being $140 in our audited financial accounts.  To Ray, marketing any business is a key element to  every business’s longevity sustainability and growth.  His experience was telling him that we weren’t spending enough to market our brand!  However, our patronage numbers were at capacity and the reason we were investigating expansion options.  Our unique situation was founded on the good ole fashioned ‘word of mouth’ marketing strategy – it symbolized our point of differentiation to lead the industry we operated in.

We didn’t go down the franchise route to grow our business and it was the friendship between our daughters that re-connected the relationship some years later, albeit an ebb and tide one.

Crate day this month, and Little Claire (daughter) with Ray’s daughter (Brooke) rocked up our drive to borrow the picnic seats to use for their expected drunken participants.  Asking after Ray, Brooke shared the news that Ray’s health was deteriorating – it prompted a call to arrange to catch up, just to catch up.  Playing telephone tag, I was walking through a Mall car park to happen upon Ray and time was made to share an impromptu cuppa.  We picked up where we had left off as if it was yesterday.

The later stages of Parkinson Disease was evident.  When Ray was diagnosed, the will to crusade against the symptoms became a passionate energy.  He had entered into a boxing ring with his gloves firmly fixed determined to go as many rounds as he could, taking the blows but never getting knocked over.  He’s a little bruised, however, his opponent has been canvassed a number of times.  Sadly, not knocked out to stay down for the count to ten.  His attitude is one that has a belief that he still has some rounds in him left yet.

Riding a bike from Hanmer Springs to Christchurch is a goal entrenched as something he wants to tick off.  Suggesting we do it on a tandem wasn’t an option; his determination to keep his goal alive and complete the ride under his own steam was a reminder to keep your dreams alive no matter the circumstances.

His adversity is curling and crumbling his body.  However, his mind and heart with his desire, belief and will power to keep going has him still working with people to expand their empires as a franchise expert. It’s a poetic situation that as his life is becoming shorter, he is making the most of what he can, while he can, to continue to put others first.

We talked about life stuff.  We shared precious moments from our past life.  We shed a tear of what life would be like not being in life.  Ray inspired to get focusing on what matters most and bloody well get on living life.

This was a face book visit with a message that he was comfortable to share, with parting words “And don’t let life’s bastards beat you without giving them a fight!”

The Blue Feathered Angel

It’s been a long time since we were able to put up a Xmas tree due to living in the caravan.

DSC03533Opening up a box with some decorations resulted in a little juicing of the eyes! These are older than me as they were my Mum’s.

She’s been gone for some 26 years … however, I remember the Angel in it’s original form placed upon the tree when I was just a minor … some 45 years ago.

Speaking with my brother David Ruru about the decorations, he told me the diorama was one he gave to Mum when he was five years of age.

The beauty about treasures like these are that they remind us of those who aren’t here to share a day where the best present anyone could ever ask for, is to have them with us in their presence.

Accepting it’s not possible, just having the Angel back up in it’s rightful place some how makes it better. Gone, but not forgotten.

And next year bro, you will be able to place the scene on a shelf in your home.

I know it’s a little early, but, Merry Christmas Mum where ever you are.

Love Brent, BClaire, Cameron & LClaire

Ki”WE” Conversations – Joe Sour

Our FB friend – Joe Sour


Joe was on the Kaikoura Whale Watch Boat when the marriage proposal rang out over the intercom asking if BClaire would marry me.  Like BClaire, he too slumped in his seat as 70 pairs of eyes all turned to BClaire pending an answer – he was sitting beside her!

KC20-2A favourable response resulted in him witnessing our “we do” on a hillside at the Kaikoura Winery within the year, above the very ocean we shared with the whales on the boat.  It’s been thirteen years since.

Many a time has Joe rocked up and spent an evening sharing a meal or sleeping over.  He inspires us with conversational nomadic persona and grounded perspective of doing what matters most – especially if there is a wave to be surfed or a mountain bike track to be ridden.  Joe is also a master builder and with his apron strapped on, has provided numerous instances swinging his hammer to help our lack of expertise of home handyman-ship.

Once we visited Joe for Christmas when he resided on the Coromandel Peninsula.  He assured us that everything was in order except when we arrived, it wasn’t.  He had relocated to a new abode and didn’t tell the owner we were coming to stay.  And on Christmas morning, we had to locate a dairy to purchase something to eat for Christmas lunch – he had the ham and that was all that he had.  When the owner of the place arrived back unexpectedly during us eating Christmas lunch ham sandwiches, we found ourselves apologising for having made ourselves at home in his bedroom!

KC20-3However, these moments make for brilliant reflective conversations when we see Joe on our turf.  It goes hand in hand with the many times we have cycled the countryside, paddled the shores, or sailed the ocean. Catching up with him at his local coffee spot in Nelson recently, even the seagulls have been given pet names of ‘ya little shit’ and ‘bugger off nuisance’ as they scarpered in to steal the remnants of food from his Eggs Benedict not swallowed.

We missed connecting with his wife Kaye this FB visit who we believe deserves a medal.  It’s been a while since he started working on their house renovation that has been a drawn out work in progress.

We reckon we have easily surpassed the number of nails banged or screws turned with impromptu visits.


Ki”WE” Conversations – Sandy Smalley

Our FB friend – Sandy Smalley

KC19-1 - The Smalleys

“What would you like me to draw?” I asked.

“I’d like you to draw for me ‘Octimus Prime’ please.”  This is what Myles (9 years of age) asked me to draw as I sat down to get into rapport with one of Sandy’s children.

KC19-2“What the hell is it?” I asked.  And off Myles tooted to return with a toy Transformer!  And so for the next 40 minutes or so, I focused on square boxes and circles and triangles and rectangle of all sizes in-between conversational chat and jokes about Ansett parties and blow up sheep.  When done, Myles asked me to flip the page and draw OP as the truck – this was more in tune with what I was familiar with.  Once the last stroke of the pencil was lifted, his words, “I have never met an artist” humbled me.  Little did he know, I had never met ‘Octimus Prime’ before neither!  Myles had reminded us that when you put your mind to it, we can do it.

The connection with Sandy originated from BClaires past, as a work colleague from Ansett New Zealand days.

We once attended a wedding theme fancy dress party at The Sign of the Kiwi on top of the Port Hills, Christchurch organised by Sandy and then partner Warner.  BClaire dressed with a curtain rail attachment with a shower curtain dangling above her head (wedding shower); and I wearing deer antlers and artificial dog poo affixed to my chest (stag doo)!  To our surprise during the party and unbeknown to guests, it was their actual wedding.  How cool was that?!

A visit to Sandy during our trip to Nelson, we learnt that life has moved forward.  We were welcomed by Ellie (Sandy’s older daughter) and Myles and introduced to her new partner Simon.  It began an afternoon of catching up to share stories that bridged the absence of flesh to flesh time, it lasted until we turned off the lights in the second bedroom parked up the driveway to crash the night.

Ellie has Downes Syndrome and her ability to host total strangers was just beautiful.  Bringing out the ukulele got her imagination going and watching her strum and sing would have resulted in any ‘X Factor’ Judge standing to give an ovation, she had her audience being entertained.

KC19-4The following morning, Myles asked for my autograph on his pictures.  He said I should write a book and illustrate it.  So I showed him ‘Re-Kindle You’, the book I have authored and self illustrated.  The look on his face was priceless.  As we thumbed through the first chapter pages, Myles was introduced to the concept that life is simple; that we can go through life with a series of grins or a series of grimaces; which would be better; and that it’s our choice which series we choose.

An example of a grin and grimace was shared.

“If I roll over in the morning and see BClaire lying there with no make-up on and hair like a roaster – would that be a grin or a grimace?”

Myles hesitated and so I responded, “That would be a grimace Myles.”

“If BClaire got up and did her hair and put make up on, would that be a grin or a grimace?”

Myles  responded with grin and then I asked, “Which would be better.”

The grin.  He got it and continued to turn the pages some more.

The next words from Myles were that he wanted to buy the book to teach him how to make better choices growing up.  I reckon the look on our faces were just as he Myles had experienced earlier – priceless.

Sandy’s children are a reflection of the their mothers vivacious character – Octimus Primo!

And without a doubt, their own blow up sheep experiences are yet to come!

Ki”WE” Conversations – Russell O’Donnell & Mel Brereton

Our FB friends – Russell O’Donnell & Mel Brereton

KC18-2Joining other enthusiasts who took up a paddle, ‘Lincoln Loose Lincs’ was the name of a University dragon boat team we were once part of and where we met our friend Russell and his partner Mel.

A dragon boat consists of a person on the front screaming the timing; 20 paddlers being screamed at paddling to stay in unison; and a person on the back keeping the waka dead straight so as not to be screamed at if it should venture across into another lane and crash with another vessel.  Russell was strong and so always had bum parked in the engine room; BCLaire also paddled and I had sole responsibility for steering the thing.  I was also the coach.

As we chewed the fat, we reminisced about the kindred spirit the dragon boating environment effervesced and how the team was more about a social core – anything we did on the water was a bonus.

KC18-3 Dragon Boat PhotoWe pondered what some of the fellow ‘loose’ team mates might be doing nowadays  …  Toni, Cate, Justine, Sam I Am, Karen, Erik, Christina, Tony Burns, Sarah, Lisa, Baz, John, Peter, Bella, Penny, Jann, Julia, Mike, and the like.

I still hold them all responsible for a health incident I encountered that resulted in a haemorrhoidectomy!

With more sunshine hours than almost anywhere else in the country, Nelsons topography caters for many an outdoor adventurous type.  Creativity is also vibrant and was the birthplace of the World of WearableArt that has gone onto becoming a globally recognised icon.  It certainly is a ‘wow’ spot of paradise.

KC18-1For Russell and Mel, they have made their residence in sunny Nelson with two youngins’ – Eva and Zane.  They own and operate a business called ‘Baby on the Move’ specialising in rental and sales of baby products.  Soon conversations shifted back to fellow dragon boaters with chuckles at visualizing what some them would be like as parents.  And if what we saw in how Russell and Mel are as Dad and Mum – we believe in them wherever they were.

This visit reminded me of the time they left me at a country pub on a mystery bus trip that I had organised.  Hitch hiking dressed in the Grim Reaper fancy dress costume to the next location had its character building challenges.

KC18-4 Dragon Boat JournalThat’s okay though. It also reminded me of the Team Journal from the 1999 Wellington Dragon Boat Trip sitting on a bookshelf that depicts a team where together, everyone achieved more. But extremely loosely!

That story is for another FB Friend visit … with the last words, “never under estimate the Ru!”

Ki”WE” Conversations – Karen Vis

Our FB friend – Karen Vis

KC17-1Blenheim is the a place on South Island’s landscape where there is no sour grapes!  How can there be?  The Marlborough Wine Trail maps out forty two wineries.  The real dilemma is not in choosing which ones to visit neither.  It’s the discussion as to who should be the sober driver so as to keep within New Zealand’s drink driving law and not to become a state statistic.  That would be sour grapes!

It was also an opportunity to visit another Face Book friend – Karen Vis.  And just like a couple of grapes themselves, BClaire and Karen’s friendship originated and has matured from the Kaiapoi Rugby playing days over many a bottle corked and consumed.  Except this visit was coffee and cake – again  that sober driver debate repeating itself!

Seeing photo’s of their children all grown up makes them unrecognisable since having seen them in the flesh over ten years ago.  Karen still looked like the Chardonnay she did from then too … or more like a Sauvignon Blanc.  Certainly not brave enough to describe her as an old red, that’s for sure!

KC17-3The district is abundant with green crops and is silhouetted by the mighty Marlborough Sounds; a marine playground and ecological haven covering one-fifth of New Zealand’s coastline.  Home to secluded bays, historic sites, walking and cycling trails, marine reserves, island sanctuaries and native bush.

KC17-4Our attraction with Blenheim is historical – Forrest Grape Road Ride; Queen Charlotte Track by mountain bike; Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon; and sea kayaking.

Everything that requires thirst replenishment to do with the natural juices of a grape.

No hiccups though with this one visiting Karen!