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Early on Friday afternoon 10 March my youngest son drove me down to Raglan to the Farmstay place the family had booked for the weekend. On Saturday I turned 67 and I was keen to treasure every moment of the birthday that this time last year I did not expect to make.

It also proved to be the best place to be as far as the weather was concerned. While parts of Auckland were deluged with rain, on Saturday morning the rain and clouds disappeared in Raglan and by lunch time we were all outside on the deck seated round the huge table enjoying a birthday lunch in the sun and admiring the wonderful view across the estuary to Mt Karioi. A glorious home-baked chocolate birthday cake with both my name and my son-in-law’s on it – my son-in-law’s birthday is the day before mine – completed the simple feast. As the afternoon wore on the clouds finally lifted from the peak of this ancient volcano.

While my eldest son took his son for a surfing lesson in the afternoon, the rest of us lazed in the sun, chatted, read, and/or took a nap. It was a totally unexpected bonus as we had come prepared to spend the forecast wet weekend inside playing board games. (There is no TV at the Farmstay but there is a fantastic sound system for the play lists that all my children appear to have). In the evening we headed off to the Orca restaurant for another wonderful meal. Of course, we all ate too much, including me, which is the added bonus of being two and half months’ post-chemotherapy and having regained both my appetite and a taste for food.

On Sunday the rain returned as we were packing up to leave. I could happily have stayed another day or two in this wonderful place. The view of the mountain from my bedroom window in the barn made my stay very special. The rest of the family stayed in the main house with its two bedrooms, two beautiful bathrooms, and one sunroom, in one of the other two separate dwellings, with my youngest son choosing to stay in one of the old caravans on the property.

It was a great weekend, made all the more special because it felt like such a bonus.