Posted by: Joan Spiller | July 7, 2013

Russell & Corinne Spiller – A senti-mental post


You all tolerate that CJ is a common theme in my blog – as I wax lyrical about what a cool person I made (grin) well there are others I’m extremely fond of .. for example: Corinne and Russ, my grandparents.

Well aware that having grandparents when you’re my age is not common.. that isn’t the only reason I love them .. they’re just such a huge part of my life any time I think back over the years.

Be it the long lazy Summer holidays at their beach house in Mahia, en famille. Or the annual Xmas dinner at #5 – a noisy, fun-family-filled event .. with the occasional random thrown in for good measure. The memories are all good..

Nana and Granddad are sociable and generous people. Their home in Napier is referred to as Grand central station, and as a kid it was so exciting – you’d go there and never know what to expect!

There might be a random relly from the other side of the world staying.  There would be animals – Binky, Toby, Whisky and others the names of which elude me. A selection of family members were always present even after the “kids” left home.

Then there is the immediate “what can I get you – a drink of something? Ice?” from either but usually that job falls to Granddad .. And if we are all there, Granddad would utter his world famous (in our household, anyway) line:

“It is good to be in the body of my family” as he would look around smiling benevolently at us all..

As you do – we’d all roll our eyes and just laugh at (his words) the ‘sentimental old fool’.. but we all secretly love it and cherish, the fact that we are indeed fortunate to be “in the body” of a loving, caring family.

Other memories I have of my grandparents include crayfish, walnuts, lemons, cameras and much much more ..

Granddad adores crayfish and would always be out with his craypots harvesting some dinner. As a child it was disturbing (to say the least) sitting in a dinghy (with my feet up around my neck to avoid the cross crays snapping around in the bottom of the boat!) but it was time with Granddad and like heck I was gonna miss out!

There was the annual Xmas shopping spree with Nana. A girls day out, she would collect me at 9.30am and we’d spend the day buying Xmas presents, having lunch and just hanging out together til we’d collapse home at the end of the day. One of my fondest memories is the time she bought me my first pair of jeans. Mother did not approve, Nana didn’t care: Joan got her jeans 😉

Nana and I would often spend time cooking at their place. Granddad – never able to sit still – would zip in and out through the course of a day offering cups of tea and bikkies. Or rum and coke, as we got older 😉

Lemons are always on offer, there’s some unwritten law that states one cannot leave #5 empty-handed. Occasionally you’d be lucky and score some sweet, freshly harvested walnuts from the ancient tree in their yard. And even better – a handful or jar of Nana’s spiced walnuts, hidden away in the depths of her pantry.

Then there is the camera – always the bloody camera. Granddad’s photo collection is an epic historical journey over the decades and NO trip to the house (or anywhere!) is allowed without a pic to mark the occasion. Its annoying at times, but then again: it’s very cool too – that to HIM a visit from his granddaughter is an occasion worthy of a photo to capture the moment.

So many memories are evoked simply by driving past their house in Napier. Not something I can do easily as stopping is a must.. Especially now I am not living as close as I was!

Whenever I do drop in, Nana complains that I spoil them. Bringing granddad a dozen bluff oysters, or baking Nana some tiny tasty tarts using my home made fruit mince that she adores so much .. hardly a big task but the pleasure and delight when given makes any effort worthwhile.

It is my enduring hope that when I am their age I have the zest for life of my grandfather (who rails against old age with great enthusiasm!) and Nana. When I think of the things they’ve witnessed in their combined 170 or so years on the planet, it’s quite mind boggling. And I love how they are interested and try to keep in touch with things ..

Below is a lovely picture of Granddad quite simply delighted at his dessert, made by the talented Kent of 1024. Not bad for 93 (or is it 94yrs old? I’m unsure actually ..  I think at 90 you just say “I’m pushing 100!”)

CJ, Tim and I took them both out to celebrate their birthdays and I loved how they enjoyed their meals for all it would have been like nothing they’d ever considered before courtesy of Kent’s amazing approach to cooking!

Blog Pic

So why the sudden sappy post about my grandparents?

Cos Granddad had a “turn” and is in hospital where they’ve discovered he has actually had several strokes. And the idea of him being unwell made me feel quite odd this morning … I’m off to see him in hospital this afternoon.

And then am going to make Nana dinner. I am taking a selection of cheeses, crackers and olives plus some home made soup and bread – and rum soaked sultana pear cake ala Kaye / Ruth – she will be well spoiled!

As well as a few single serve meals for her freezer, so she can have nutritious food easily over the coming days and weeks while things get sorted out @ the hospital.

I have often said that if anything happened to either of them I’d drop everything and run. And I know that they both know that I adore them but that in no way means I’m ready to not have grandparents so please spare a kind thought and send them our way.

Cos it surely can’t hurt – thanks.



  1. […] that aside, I have experienced so many good times in my capacity as the “#1 granddaughter” and am thankful I have so many memories to cherish, […]


  2. I agree with Kim above: this is a lovely post! It made me think of my still very active grandpa who turn the big 9-0 next week. Am sending you many kind thoughts, Joan!


    • Thank you! I should do an update cos he’s back home and doing really well!! Hope Grandpa had a fun birthday 🙂


      • He did! We are all recovering from partying too hard with gramps 🙂


      • hahah awesome!!


  3. Russell and Nana could not want a better granddaughter than you. Your description of events makes me homesick for the grand parents I had, but now I is one!

    under that tough exterior lies a sweet, compassionate lady that loves to love others and I am envious of the times you share with your grand parents. Lovely post! Give my regards to both of them and my thoughts(prayers) are coming your way. Thanks for this one.


  4. Hi Joan,
    This is me sending kind and loving thoughts to your grandparents. And to you. Many, many hugs,
    Lisa B. DuBois


    • Thanks Lisa, I appreciate it a lot 🙂


    • Thank you Lisa, I very much appreciated it and they clearly worked cos he is fine now 🙂 🙂


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