Retired Blenheim man Frank Cartwright continues a holiday instalment of Heart of Marlborough, the column about what makes our region special.
Living in a big city and keen to escape the rat-race, in 1993 my wife and I decided to retire and live somewhere smaller, provided it was in the South Island.
Having travelled extensively throughout the mainland, I was well acquainted with all its towns and despite the allure of places such as Queenstown, Wanaka, Rangiora or Nelson, Blenheim did seem to be ideal as it ticked all the right boxes. It had a great climate, clean rivers, incredibly beautiful Sounds, endless tramping opportunities and, best of all, friendly folk.
Blenheim always appeared neat, tidy and well run. It had good retail shopping, some light industry, agriculture, aquaculture and world renowned wines.
It boasted a good airport plus world-class aviation servicing, lay handy to Cook Strait ferries and had in Wairau Hospital a first class surgical facility.
After weighing up all the pros and cons, Blenheim got the nod.
We located a suitable home in Redwoodtown and a few weeks later moved in, grateful to the Marlborough District Council who had forwarded vital information on the region's attractions and facilities. Telecom chipped in with a choice of phone numbers. True.
We found neighbours incredibly friendly. Strangers smiled and in passing said "hello".
It was incredibly supportive while we adjusted to changes of pace and location. We joined various organisations and were accepted for who we were, not what we had been, which helped build sincere, lasting relationships.
The caring, community spirit right across Marlborough society was dramatically highlighted one Christmas when I was admitted for urgent surgery at Wairau Hospital. Wheeled into the prep room, I was panicking until a surgeon arrived wearing a Santa hat followed by theatre staff resplendent in reindeer headgear with carols playing. The tension broke and laughter filled the theatre.
To me, it exemplified just how caring the people of Marlborough can be and totally justified the decision of my wife and I way back in 1993 to become residents.
When I think of Marlborough, I recall the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways".
- The Marlborough Express