Deb Skelton is a patriotic Canadian who came to New Zealand as a tour guide, married a Blenheim boy, and works in the wine industry. She begins a holiday instalment of our Heart of Marlborough series, the column by people writing about what makes our region special for them.
If someone had told me, say 10 years ago, that I would be living in New Zealand, I never would have believed it.
However, here I am, a patriotic Canadian expat not only living in New Zealand but more specifically, Blenheim.
One of the "conditions" of me living here was to have a pet. More specifically, a dog. Dogs improve my quality of life and can make any place feel like home.
So we got a dog and I became a diligent dog walker. Almost instantly I found like-minded people; we had dogs and we all gathered at the Taylor River at what may seem like a ridiculous hour to most people every morning. Rain or shine, frost or fine.
At first I only knew the dogs' names, but it didn't take long to find out the people's names and, next thing, the friendships began. It really is quite a collection of folks and we all have something in common.
I can't say for certain that the dog parks and off-leash areas are my favourite parts of Marlborough, but they are definitely something that has become very special.
When my family came from Canada for my wedding, the dolphins along the Kaikoura coast and the orcas in the Sounds put on a show that we thought was just for us. An amazing experience that has provided memories that will stay with us forever.
I have also become part of a very special group of Thursday night recreational sailors and I cannot believe the incredible generosity of the skippers and the wonderful experiences we have out in the Sounds.
The people and the common interests are what make the place so special. I do miss winter (real winter) and I am not sure if I will ever think of Christmas in the summer as normal, but the collection of people I have met and call friends is for me, the Heart of Marlborough.
- The Marlborough Express