Will Harvie: Growing old at Sumner beach

18:39, Jun 25 2014

I'm picking up my wife and new girlfriend from the airport this morning. Hope they get along.

My wife has been travelling and working in Europe for 2 weeks. My girlfriend has been living in Hawke's Bay for 3 months. She's a cutie, temporarily named Pup.

She's a purebred border terrier, and one of the first places she'll get to know is Sumner beach. It's a few minutes drive from our home and as of today we have more reasons to visit this favourite place.

When the kids were very young we'd start and pretty much stay at the Scarborough playground and paddling pool. Now we've a puppy, but even she isn't allowed in these areas and we'll be reluctant to risk her in the rocky seas nearby.

But further along the Esplanade, about where my primary school-aged boys are learning to surf, I dream Pup will take to the water once old enough. Border terriers were bred to dig out foxes and rats, but we will train her to fetch. I dream of her racing endlessly into this surf to retrieve balls. Maybe she'll catch Frisbees on the fly too.

About Marriner St, the fantastic new sculpture by Hannah Lewthwaite, Chris Reddington and Tom Phillpotts must be seen. Shaped like a kowhai seed pod, it's 14m long and colourfully mosaicked. It invites the young and not-yet-old to walk it end to end. Pup, I suspect, will want to pee on it.


My boys would be just about old enough to explore Cave Rock if it was open. I fancy them clambering over and under this landmark with Pup, their parents claiming approaching middle age prevented us from joining in.

Out on the wide sands of Sumner beach, Pup will be allowed off the leash once she's old enough. Here too I can imagine my boys one day becoming lifeguards for their surf club.

These days, container art along Peacocks Gallop competes for attention with the houses crumbling off the cliffs above. I wonder if the Naked Lady mural will exist and provoke my sons in their 20s? Even in her advanced years, Pup will likely find a stick to chew.

The ruins of Shag Rock will always sadden, a reminder that nothing is permanent.

Dogs grow old, as do their owners, and this seems like a good place to stop.

But today I am blessed. A returning wife, two beautiful children, a puppy. Come, we must go to Sumner beach.

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