We were in St Heliers, in a two-storey house, and my wife was getting ill and didn't want to live in a house with stairs so we cruised around and looked at various places. She wanted somewhere in the hills up Howick way, with a view, and when we looked we found all these new houses going up, absolute monstrosities.
Then we happened to come past the Burswood area, where there was a show home advertised, so we had a look, liked the plan and that was 13 years ago.
They had only one section left, the last in the block, and we thought about it, went home and half an hour later called the agent and said "we'll have it", and so we built our home. One of the things we loved from the start is it's a cul de sac, so it's very quiet and peaceful. When we first moved in, it was just houses, no gardens and lawns, but it's very established now.
We're quite lucky where we are, as we're near Ti Rakau Drive, and it's only 10 minutes' walk to a little block of shops with a fruit shop, a bakery and a butcher. We're half way between Botany Town Centre and Pakuranga Town Centre, so just 2-3km max from a range of shops to our house.
I was brought up in Timaru and in 1959 I joined the navy and moved to Auckland. I wanted to see the world. We were in the Suez for the crisis, but when you're young you don't get scared.
I did quite a few trips and when I came out I got a job, first with Fisher and Paykel, then I bought a dairy in Manurewa. I was married at 23, having met my wife in Auckland. We used to go dancing a lot. After the dairy, I had a few other jobs, and at the age of 60 I got a regular job so I didn't have to work seven days a week, and I got paid to take holidays.
Now that I'm retired, I belong to the Howick RSA. We go up there for the dancing and the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club, and I belong to the Manurewa Bowling Club. I'm also a member of the Auckland Welsh Choir. I was on the committee of the Welsh Choir for a couple of years, but I try not to get too involved in committees anymore - there's too much computer stuff and I'm not all that savvy.
Aside from the Welsh Choir, I am also a member of the Young@Heart choir and have been since last year.
When we do concerts we do lots of modern stuff like Amy Winehouse's Rehab and Bruno Mars and U2. We're not used to singing these sorts of songs but once you get into them they're fascinating. We enjoy it and the grandchildren particularly like it.
Our house here backs on to a reserve and you can walk from one end of Burswood to the other. The Tamaki River comes through, just after you come in from Pakuranga to Burswood, and at that point the river starts and off come its tributaries. There are no set tracks, you just walk around the reserve, so it can get a bit soggy in winter. It's quite pleasant, with a lot of birds and trees and shrubs, and you can look across the mangroves. It's a nice view.
The Monterey Theatre in Howick is also lovely. They used to have the theatre in the township and about three or four years ago they built this little complex down a back road. There are two or three little theatres and they mainly show nice films and opera films - I love those.
We have our own little community watch group here, too, and we get together once or twice a year and have street parties. That way you get to know new people who've moved into the area. Demographically, there are quite a few young people, but there are a few of us oldies, too. It's just a nice quiet little suburb, nothing much goes on here.
• Monterey Theatre: 4/2 Fencible Drive, Howick, (09) 532 7034, montereycinemas.co.nz. Swish five-screen complex showing all the best films while providing a range of cinema-friendly snacks and beverages.
• Howick RSA: 25 Wellington St, Howick. (09) 534 9702. howickrsa.co.nz. Entertainment, great food, camaraderie and dancing.
• Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club: 6/10 Alfriston Rd, Manurewa, (09) 267 4341. manurewacc.org.nz. Dancing, eating, competitions and a beautiful building.
Ivan is a member of the Young@Heart Choir. Their concert, Forever Young, is on at Auckland Grammar School (55-85 Mountain Rd) today at 7:30pm and tomorrow at 3pm. Tickets: $15-25. nzyoungatheartchorus.org.nz.