We met at Taieri High when we were 13 but didn't start talking till we were 14. Then we talked a bit. Some evenings on the phone, the old dial-style phones, plugged into the wall. His father or mine occasionally threatening death as the phone lines were blocked.
We were discussing serious things and the world.
David was another much-loved old friend from those days. And, occasionally, I took photographs of them on their bikes with that very first camera of mine. I remember the time Dave deliberately spilled tomato sauce over that shot of him landing badly after some kind of jump at the Brick and Sand quarry. We were in the midst of a post-motorcross pile of fish 'n chips at the time.
I still have those photographs in storage back home in New Zealand.
Paul arrived here in this Belgian world last weekend, fresh from his advanced para-gliding course in Doussard. That place where Gert and I had so enjoyed staying. Paul showed us the video footage of the stalls they had to practice ... heart-stopping moments where the 'chute' lost air and needed correcting.
Like us, he raved about the scenery, the mountains.
This last week has been a week where two old friends from smalltown New Zealand wandered in Europe. We visited The Somme, finding the grave of his great-great-grandfather.
I introduced him to Antwerp where he hunted down the wrought iron and he, perhaps without realising it, gifted me a new view on the city. We checked out coffee and wine places, I introduced to more than a few beers that were 'a bit malty'. I laugh as I write that ... I'm not the best beer advisor when an Aussie bloke knows what kind of beer he prefers.
He forgave me, I think.
I insisted he visit Flanders Fields where we were fortunate enough to catch up with both of my favourite Belgians down there in the Westhoek. Modest experts in their areas of knowledge. Steven found some more information on a WWI relative Paul had been curious about, and a book about the Otago Mounted Rifles. It seems that Paul's Alfred William Johnson was in the same battalion as my grandad, George Gidion Murray.
Locating the book seems to be another story and I've had to write off to the Westhoek to check that I have the right title. I do believe it's a book I'd quite like to read.
But enough, here's a photograph I took for both David and Fiona ... we wished them both here. Liz too. Remember those days ...