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Feels like coming home

For Barry and Velma Gordon, moving into Ryman’s new retirement village in Lynfield is like coming home.

The couple lived at 18 Tropicana Drive, right next door to the Tropicana estate, for nearly three decades and are thrilled they can now return.

“We both said it feels like we’re going back home,” says Velma with a smile.

The pair sold their Tropicana place and downsized to a smaller house in 2014 and were just considering another move when they saw the plans for the new village.

“We thought that way we have got security around us and at the press of a button we’ve got assistance.”

“While our health is very good at the moment, if I have a fall or kick the bucket before Velma it’s nice to know she won't have any gardens or lawns to do. And to have other company around is good too,” says Barry.

The couple, who have three children and six grandchildren, will be moving into the village in 2018, which is also the year of their 60th wedding anniversary.

The pair met through Velma’s brother, who had become mates with Barry at cadet military training in Papakura and invited him for dinner at the family house in Maioro Street.

“They had a little billiard table and I kept knocking her with my cue,” recalls Barry. “I kept apologising and she kept smiling, and it developed from there!”

The couple says their start in life as newlyweds was modest: “I had to borrow £20 from my father to pay for the honeymoon,” laughs Barry.

One of Barry’s first jobs was with the power board as a line construction engineer. He even worked with the team who installed the streetlights in Tropicana Drive when it was developed as a street full of show homes dubbed the Parade of Homes in 1968.

“We saw the prices and thought that’s a dream gone down the gurgler!” says Barry.

However, 20 years later, after many hours of hard work running the Superette on White Swan Road, the couple’s dream came true and they bought number 18 Tropicana Drive.

“It was the farm that impressed me,” says Barry. “That was the draw card.”

Barry would often be the first to alert estate owner Bill Subritzky’s son John if dogs got into the sheep’s paddock in the night.

After leaving the Superette, Barry left to work in the circulation department of News Media and Velma, a talented dressmaker, set up a bridalwear business first from home which later expanded to a shop on Dominion Road.

In 1989 they took a six-month sabbatical and went campervanning around Europe, sparking their passion for travel.

They have since visited Japan, Russia, Alaska, Poland, USA, Canada, Cambodia, Vietnam and China!

“Last year we spent three months in Australia to get out of the cold and next we’d love to visit Tasmania,” says Velma.

When they’re not planning their next trip, they keep fit – Barry goes to the gym and Velma enjoys Aquaerobics, and Barry volunteers at the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

And no, Velma doesn’t do any sewing in her spare time.

“It got to the point when I just hated the sight of my sewing machine,” she says.

“All I do now is any seams that come undone or buttons that need sewing on.

“I might have done a few little outfits if I’d had granddaughters but I have six grandsons! But there’s still a chance I’ll have great-granddaughters so I won’t get rid of it yet." she laughs.

What with all their travel, fitness and exciting new village activities to fit in, it'll be amazing if Velma's sewing machine sees the light of day again!

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