RAF fighter jet pilot, Otahuhu College boy, now slightly grumpy old man, from his armchair in the UK

Mount Maunganui was an exotic place in the mid-1960s for a 15 year-old Brit-born Otahuhu College pupil. As it is now, the surfing scene was a really big thing. What a discovery! Now I understood what the Beach Boys had been raving about endlessly – sun, sand, surf and beautiful tanned people with salt and sun-bleached hair. It was intoxicating, literally, and the memory is vivid today.

That first connection to the Bay of Plenty was a family holiday to Tauranga in 1965. Over 40 years later the connection is even stronger. I am proud to tell you, Dear Reader, that I am the father of Jenny Rudd the joint Publisher and Editor-In Chief of this terrific magazine.This gives me all the justification for regular visits to The Mount from my home in Lytham St Annes in UK. Having spent six years as a teenager in New Zealand, this is a double blessing and I absolutely love returning to the land of my youth and catching up with some very long-term buddies.

Under the previous ownership of UNO., Andy Martin’s late father Charles provided an excellent column which always started with “….and another thing…..” I won’t try and copy that because I couldn’t, but I would very much like to pay tribute to Charles’ tongue-in-cheek humour – I loved it and I’m sure many others did too.

That Kiwi style of humour is actually not too unlike the Lancashire humour in my current environment. There exists here an outfit grandly titled The Lytham Yacht Club. It’s understandable because Lytham is indeed a coastal town facing the Irish Sea and so the Club has been on the go for over 125 years. It has a commodore, a steward with a white jacket and gold braid in which to serve us gin and tonics, and of course a racing burgee. All that’s missing is ….. any boats all. In fact, ownership of a yacht or any other vessel is an automatic bar to membership. It is one of those places where the blokes get out of the hair of their families for an hour or two in the early evening to discuss matters of world importance like rugby, cricket and the incompetence of politicians. I have some priceless little accounts of Yacht Club happenings which if I don’t get sacked by the Editor will appear in future ramblings here.

In the meantime let me say for the record I am very proud and grateful for my New Zealand history and current connections. I like to think that the experiences I had as a youngster in this great country have helped me greatly to navigate through the challenges and thrills of my life to date. Whatever you do and wherever you are, it’s about the people that you share your life with that makes the most difference.

Looking forward to getting to know you all better in future editions.