Saturday, 19 April 2014


On Saturday 8th March 2014, Len was killed at Hampton Downs Raceway racing his pride and joy - a 1961 T56 Cooper Formula Junior, racing number 92.The love of my life and best friend is no longer at my side but will remain forever in my heart and the hearts of his friends and family.
We gave him a bloody fine send off  on the 14th March at St Paul's Devonport - he would have been proud but would rather not have been there.

I'm sure he would have approved of the venue, an ex-church - after all when we moved to Auckland we bought an ex-church in Calliope Road, Devonport.

Here we made our home and had many happy times in a fine wooden structure of historical significance rather than a brick one.It was also here that we entertained new friends and treated lots of Christchurch friends to a little R and R - away from their damaged city and homes.

Len had not originally wanted to move to is foreign territory to those south of the Bombay Hills (an area on the southern fringe of Auckland ) but spurred on by the fact that we doubted that we would see Christchurch recover in our lifetime plus my own increasing discomfort living in the shaky city, he moved north .
He made that sacrifice more for me than for himself but that was the way he was ... mind you-  the proximity of two racing circuits helped....

Len quickly fitted into the new racing scene and once he got his car up and running was able race amongst (not 'against' as these are 'gentlemen' racers!) cars of the same type - Formula Junior - open wheel, single seated racing cars from the late 50's and early 60's. The best year of his racing life was last year when he competed in the FJ races in the South Island - The Southern Festival of Speed - without a single breakdown - it couldn't have been better. The people who worked on his car did a magic job and for once everything went according to plan.
Although he missed his beloved Ruapuna it was great to have like competition - even if Devonport was not the closest location to live in! 

Our life together was one of shared dreams and realised ambitions. We were a damn fine team . Our tastes were similar, in fact almost the same ( sometimes I had to do a bit of 'slight of hand' convincing... sometimes he just said 'NO' ) but I am sure that was because we matured together - I was ten days away from being 18 when we started going out  and we married three weeks shy of my 21st birthday. Had to get my father's permission......
We shared a chosen profession in Pharmacy and as we grew our tastes and values were formed. One day short of our 46th Wedding Anniversary that all ended. 

I have to count my blessings now and amongst them the most important are our children Rebecca and Andrew plus our wonderful son-in-law Pascal and our two grandchildren Calix and Jola.

I am progressing slowly - some good moments, some bad and some hideous. But that is to be expected - this grieving business is bloody hard work - and the price one has to pay for a long , happy and good marriage . Bec and Andy are also in that 'early days ' stage too but we are talking/Skyping almost daily and that helps us all . Jola and Calix - the gorgeous grandchildren are magic they don't understand grief as such - they are too little but they know that if they are sad then a kiss and cuddle makes them feel better and even when delivered by Skype they work little miracles.

Many of you were not able to be at Len's Funeral ( farewell 'do' actually - as we all toasted him with his favourite Sav.Blanc) but this is a movie clip compiled from family photos over his lifetime and shown during the service. Many thanks to ( Gina, John and Brian ) for their many hours of work. Play it more than once as you will sometimes recognise yourselves and it so reflects Len's love of family, friends and cars ( plus a surprising number of photos including the odd glass of wine or a cold beer - maybe one of coffee! ) It is minus music due to copyright issues but think Joni Mitchell, Phil Collins, Genesis, and Billy Joel.

When you watch this video do it with a glass of wine in hand and drink to Len ( and pray for a long life for me to spend the money! ). We had both pledged to belong to the SKI ( spending the kids' inheritance) CLUB but that responsibility has now fallen to me ... I will do my best.

There are so many people I need to thank for their kindness, cards, flowers, phone calls , unending support and love.

I have received so many cards and would love to reply individually but in my rather addled state of mind I kept all the envelopes separately from the cards which means I have addresses but no idea who they belong to and cards from people who live God knows where. I suppose I have an excuse but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Some amazing tributes have been paid to Len and this one in particular from Duncan Rabagliati was incredible, especially when you read about the Memorial Trophy..

I am very sorry indeed not to have been able to be with you today, but Stephanie, Rebecca, Andrew and family and all our NZ Formula Junior drivers are in our thoughts and prayers.
The Formula Junior family has grown over the last  25 years, and expanded across the Globe – Len was a very important part of this but also a true friend when we met on and off the track in NZ and Europe; and corresponded over many years
We will miss Len, dearly,  and his quiet humour , but feel sure that he would wish the camaraderie and friendship of Formula Junior to continue; FJHRA will recognise his memory  in a tangible way for posterity with a new Len May Memorial Trophy, to be awarded annually.
I bring this message, not only from Mair , Sarah and I , but from all Formula Junior drivers and their families in UK, Europe , and around the World

...and another ...

"I was fiddling with the Elan earlier this evening as I am at Goodwood on Easter Monday and whilst polishing away with an old tea cloth I thought again of Len and how much my own garage looked like his with plastic boxes and old filing cabinets and homemade shelves.  He had a wonderful write-up by Duncan in the FJ e-letter.  I did not realise how well known you both were in the FJ scene in the UK."

...of course it was Len who was well known - not me - I was the 'her indoors' who generally disappeared for a bit of light retail therapy during the racing while Len hung out with the blokes... mind you I did get to know a few of the blokes too and even held a brolly over Duncan's head while he waited in the pouring rain in Pau!

There is a picture in the video clip of that awful wet day - Duncan & the blokes were oblivious and Len was right in his element!

The following are the most moving words from two our life long friends and they tell the story of our life in a way that is so special to me that I keep reading them over and over.....

"...this is a hard letter to write - words don't seem right. How can I express my sadness about Len? Someone we have known most of our adult life - now snuffed out and gone in a flash- terrible! However prepared one thinks it's impossible to imagine the finality of death. This is the man with whom you have shared your life, had children, enjoyed love of food, houses, business, your gardens and cars. I am sure this is the man who has comforted you over countless sorrows and who has remained patient with your outlandish schemes!! He is the companion with whom you have travelled, whose empathy you depended upon and from whom you are bracing yourself to be forever deprived.The contours of living have changed shape........ "

How can I ever begin to thank so many wonderful people who helped me and my family  over those dreadful early days - there are some who will never be forgotten by us - the family.
Peter and Kate Croft - Kate was with me when the Police rang to tell me - I was shopping for a wedding Anniversary Card. Peter was able to officially identify Len at the scene.Peter was Len's best friend.
Nigel Russell - who stayed with Len and was with him when he died
Those Members of the Waitemata Branch of the Vintage Car Club - who were at the scene and were deeply affected by what they saw.

Len was an organ donor and they were able to 'harvest' (their words - not mine) his eyes and areas of skin.
Two people have now had their sight restored with corneal grafts and the rest of his eyes and areas of skin will be used within the next few months. So a small part of Len lives on - that makes us as his family feel not all was lost. I urge you all to list yourselves as donors - regardless of your age you can still help especially with eyesight - it can be a wonderful life changing gift to be cherished by all.

On behalf of my family, thank you all so much once again for the respect you have shown Len and the support you have given us.
Thank you to all who helped make his 'farewell do' so memorable. 
The Rev.Peter Beck who gave a fine and moving send off to a 'born again agnostic'  called Len.
Those who gave the Eulogies - Peter Croft( Pharmacy days plus cars,cars,cars), Brian Hamill (school days), Dren Errington (MG days), Nigel Russell and Roger Herrick (FJ days).
Those who displayed their beautifully prepared FJ's on the day - they looked magnificent.
To those I should have thanked but who I will think of later (senior moment... again)
Thank you.


Monday, 14 January 2013


I simply can't believe we have been in Devonport for just over a year - or has someone snuck up on me and reduced the number of weeks in a year by half!
It has been an eventful year indeed - the first significant part for us was the sale of our land in Park Terrace and eventually our insurance company ( with a little persistent pressure ) paid up in fullish- well pretty close to it.
Compared with some of the trauma suffered by our friends at the hands of their insurance companies we are very lucky indeed. Many people have settled for indemnity ( which is zillions less than rebuild costs) and one couple we know were paid out less than 1/3rd of replacement ( which is downright evil) and have a court case pending. Grinding people down to the extent they believe they are lucky to get anything at all is appalling and no doubt some will be left with a debt burden because the payout was less than the mortgage while their land is languishing amongst vast tracts of other vacant plots.
To make matters sadder for some - this last week ChCh has had a heat wave, which resulted in scrub fires and the destruction of several homes - uninsured. Why? Because it is almost impossible to get insurance of any sort in ChCh post earthquake if you move house - I can understand why Insurers are reluctant when it comes to Earthquake cover - but fire? So you know why we are grateful that our insurance company was true to their word and consistent with their clients . The company is the Medical Assurance Society, which originally limited its membership to those involved with the Medical Profession (we were both Pharmacists in a previous life) - it will however now insure Member's families and other professions. This is not really a plug as MAS is a very small organization and not a store front operation, but compared with some of the big names out there they are gold. Insurance premiums throughout the country have gone through the roof and are now becoming capped at a level set by a registered valuer rather than a 'free fall' replacement  as in the past - but while I may not like the premium we now pay - I wouldn't touch the others with a barge pole - there are too many sad and bad stories out there.
So please don't forget the people of Christchurch. All have lost their City, many have lost their homes and many still are waiting for their homes to be repaired - while they live in conditions reminiscent of bomb sites, coming up to two years since the devastation of Feb 2011. For all those people worldwide who are living in disaster zones, I have a far greater understanding and sympathy and I wonder how they are faring in the years following when the news no longer features them.
Two very heartwarming occurrences happened during the last year .
We received a wonderful email from the man driving the bulldozer that demolished TWH . He had recovered photographs during the demolition ( ignored by the salvage people in spite of our requests ) and had saved them for us. He had given them to the demolition contractor to give to us - he hoped we had received them. I was so thankful as these were photos from my parents era and irreplaceable. His email expressed his distress as he demolished our wonderful home - his sympathy - coming from an unexpected source - was so moving and appreciated, as well as very humbling. There are some good people out there.
Secondly we received a wonderful email from a delightful American couple who stayed with us on their honeymoon - Jason and his gorgeous wife Jen were blessed with the arrival of Grace, whom they named Grace Weston - yes exactly that - what a wonderful living tribute to TWH. She is so beautiful and long may she continue to be so. Her gene pool is such of course, that she is already guaranteed those other necessities of wisdom and hopefully wealth.
There was also another heartwarming episode (in its outcome anyway). On 22 Feb 2011 - there was a car parked outside TWH which was destroyed by falling bricks.We were unaware that it had been occupied on the day - believing how lucky it was that no one was in it to be hurt . Little did we know what was to unfold - we received the following comment via our Blog
My name is Arun .......... and unfortunately my car (DNG...) was parked beside TWH on Peterborough street when the quake stuck on 28Feb. As the effect of the quake the chimney of the house fell on my car, at that time I was inside the car with my wife and 5 month old daughter. We were just lucky to survive but lost our car.
This was totally legit (even though the date was 22Feb not 28Feb - this could be forgiven under the circumstances). The Insurance company paid immediately. I don't know how I would have coped if a life had been lost - thank God none was. That makes it heartwarming.

Gosh but it has also been a good year - familywise (ok spell-check  says there is no such word - also not sure of its own existence).
Our daughter Rebecca married her partner Pascal in Bali in July . Guests traveled from all over the world - including our son Andy- who joined us from France. The grand children were at their magic best and Bali was a continuing delight - especially Ubud - which added another level to my shopping black belt!

Our son Andy features with Rebecca in the picture immediately above pictures of yours truly ( it's acknowledged by me and him-in-doors - that my arse looked far too big in the temple sarong to be published here - take my word for it!!!)
Andy stayed with us  for several weeks before he went south to stay with Bec, Pascal and the children while working as a builder in ChCh recovery. He is back in Auckland with us now with his lovely partner Kirsty before heading back to France for several months and an eventual return to NZ to continue building in ChCh. Lots of willing workers but the work is very slow to get under way...and we all know why!!
In September Rebecca (aka Bec) stayed with us for a few days with the children - they were sooo good and Granny/Grandad nearly kept them - except we had a date with Canada three days after they left - yes, the country - where we covered zillions of miles for six weeks.

Christmas was beyond all expectations - it was the first time for years that we had all been together. Lovely Auckland summer's day - rainy, humid.... but it did clear in the Republic of Devonport for 2 hours so we could swelter in the sunshine and eventually get the BBQ working for typical Kiwi Christmas Dinner.

So here we are in 2013 - settled in Auckland...still having Wine O'clock - which is now  6.13pm - delivered by Len while I give you all too much information......
Many many thanks for all the cards and Christmas emails - it is so good to hear from you all....the nicest people ever - you have kept us going in good times and bad. God Bless you all.
A Happy and Prosperous 2013 and beyond...... Think of us while we travel ...while Len races his car (Southern Festival of Speed - here he comes)  and fly down to ChCh whenever the cheap flights are advertised - which is often.
Life is good and busy - we have space and friends who travel north to fill it - really lovely to see them.We head south - we stay with them.... and visit the two most important people in our lives - guess who?
Coming to NZ ... let us know...we have a secret....
Got to go...they (Andy and Len ) need feeding..
What exactly is retirement??????

Friday, 23 December 2011


Well, as some of you will already know, we decided to up-sticks and move from Christchurch and start again in the North Island ....and we chose Auckland.
Why? - I hear you all ask - South Islanders refer to Aucklanders as Jafas -(as in 'just another friendly Aucklander' - oh yes it is - they have never heard of that other 'f' word north of the Bombay Hills!)

After the demolition of TWH, our hearts were no longer in a city we had come to love over the previous 44 years - we could not see the recovery happening in our lifetime - especially when they announced an expected 85% of the buildings in the inner city area would have to be demolished. The Phoenix that rises in its place will be wonderful - but it will be a young persons' city - the likes of our age group need to see the sunshine sooner and I for one had felt that earthquakes were no longer on my bucket list!

We are fortunate that we can start over again and have chosen the suburb of Devonport in Auckland because we found a wonderful house ( a converted Gospel Hall - circa 1898).

There are other reasons too - Devonport has a wonderful village feel yet is only 15 mins from downtown Auckland by ferry ( free to over 65's ) - which is just a short walk away ( not far from a wonderful boutique wine shop - surprised??)
We can reach the airport in half an hour - great motorways - (we had been wondering where all the Road User Charges had been going over the years) and Len has two major motor racing circuits less than an hour away. All he needs is the car fully assembled and he will never be available to mow the lawn.
Must tell you though - we have downsized (NOT) - when they did the insurance valuation  we found that our new home is 20 sq.m larger than TWH - told you I wasn't ready to downsize - even though my collections were depleted somewhat - but I can rise to that challenge too.
However the garden is definitely smaller.. less lawn to mow... I sense a plot here (ok- bad pun!) .

Ultimately - we will build a little Weston House (still love the style) - but for the next couple of years we will wallow in all the extra room and have a life - do lunch - visit friends - and journey between the Islands (North & South) visiting friends and family and giving them respite from the continuing shakes.
Christchurch today was rocked by a further series of nasties - I almost wept for my friends and my other life - this last 15months have been cruel but we are the lucky ones and feel truly blessed by this - we are no more deserving than others.

We have also been overwhelmed by the attention received from all the friends we have made over the years through TWH - you have touched our hearts in the nicest possible way - we love you all - there were very few that were marked as 'not wanted on the rest of life's journey' and anyway they wouldn't read my blog, would they? Only nice people keep up....

We wish you all a very, very happy Christmas and I would write to you all individually (email that is) but my mailing lists were pretty scrambled by the Feb Quake. Even worse ... I have just bought a new computer - I must have been having a senior moment but I decided to change the technology - I bought an iMac.....Well it's like buying a great pair of shoes - these things are so damn stylish.
Our daughter Rebecca considers them the 'creme de la creme' of the computer world and 'intuitive'.
BUT they aren't PC's and they don't do the stuff I want yet and I can't find the 'intuitive' command either or the Spider Solitaire program.Crazy old woman brain is addling.....what is a comfort zone anyway???? So life's a journey.....

I will continue with my Blog ...there is always gossip...even if I have to resort to making some of it up.....

Here's to a Better and Brighter 2012 ...we all deserve it!

Best Wishes
Len & Stephanie