It was meant to be a grand celebration with the family at a fancy restaurant but with the sudden Alert Level 3 lockdown being announced, Howick locals Eleanor and Bruce Robb celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a special roast dinner delivered by Ted Waters of The Apothecary.
“Both of us dressed up for dinner. And we had our poodle Rosie join us in the celebration. The table was set with flowers and bubbles that my daughter sent and we enjoyed the lovely dinner that was delivered at our doorstep. It was absolutely delightful,” says Eleanor, who was all of 17 when she met her future husband at a dance. They got engaged at 18 and married at 19.
Mother to Stewart, Debra and Fraser, Eleanor and Bruce have lived in Howick for 54 years.
While her first two children were born in Scotland, she says “Fraser is a Kiwi”.
“He was born in the old maternity home in Howick. I spent 10 lovely days there and was served very good food. Nowadays you are lucky if they offer you a cup of tea,” she says.
Ask her about the secret to a long and successful marriage, and she says, “Communication is the key. Keep talking about how you are feeling. Years have flown by so it must have been enjoyable,” she laughs giving due credit to her 83- year-old other half.
“My husband Bruce is a very patient and understanding man. I may lose my cool sometimes, but he doesn’t. And it’s not as if we have not weathered our storms, but we did last all this time together,” says the 79- year-old.
Going down memory lane, she talks of the time they first arrived in New Zealand from Edinburgh, Scotland in a boat called Rangitoto on May 7.
“My sister lived in Howick and I remember going to the Howick beach then and asking ‘where are all the people?’ ” she laughs.
“My sister reminded me that it wasn’t summering in New Zealand in the month of May.”
Eleanor got a job as a telephone operator in a building near the old Howick Post Office. It was great fun working with a manual board,” she recollects.
She loves living in Howick. “It’s got such a village feel and everyone is so friendly. Besides, we live so close to the library, supermarket, doctors and the dentist,” she says.
“Just this morning when we were walking the dog, a young man stopped by to say ‘what a beautiful dog you have’.”
As for the grand 60th wedding anniversary celebrations, the family will wait for an all-clear indication from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern before they get-together to raise a toast to Eleanor and Bruce’s 60 years together.