Well-known faces reminisce about their most memorable holiday romances.

Hayley Sproull

When I was in Turkey with my mum, we went to a small town called Kalkan. One day Mum and I were out shopping in the sun, when a beautiful man called us over to his shop. He had the most handsome face I've ever seen, and I can't confirm but I'm pretty sure he was a prince. He talked with me and Mum for a while, and it was totally because he was interested in us as people and not because he just wanted to sell us some bowls, and then he told my Mum that he thought I was very beautiful. HE THOUGHT I WAS BEAUTIFUL. Again, this was totally just because he thought I was beautiful and not just because he wanted our money. Then, as if from nowhere, he proposed. Well, okay . . . he kind of proposed. He offered my mum two camels for me. And you know what? My silly mother said no. To this handsome prince/shop assistant from Turkey. She declined his offer of two camels and said he couldn't have me. And now I'll never know what my life could have been like with the beautiful man from Kalkan. Thanks Mum.

- Hayley Sproull, comedian, co-host of The Great Kiwi Bake Off

Ginette McDonald

The specialist had told us conception would be unlikely, but we were free spirits, defying convention and gloom. In July '85 our darling Kate presented herself, fixing us with her wise and often amused gaze from the moment of arrival. Six weeks later, miracle baby strapped into her car seat, I set about producing a huge TV drama. Kate's father held down the fort, made nourishing Irish stews and filled in the Plunket book. I put up a feminist sticker "Girls can do Anything". He wrote underneath, "Yes, but not a lot of them want to be plumbers."

Actress Ginette McDonald. Photo / Supplied
Actress Ginette McDonald. Photo / Supplied

By summer we had all our ducks in a row. A family. Team Kate. Lovely loving afternoons by the pool we'd dug ourselves, other mums and dads, breastfeeding, water wings and the odd glass of champagne. The two cats and the dog guarding the kids. The sun would gently set on the surfers on the wild south coast below the house and we would talk of books and music and the baby. Where she would go and what wonderful things she would do. Student loans, affordable housing and the re-emergence of fascism had no place in our little world. That summer of '85. Our house is a very, very fine house with two cats in the yard, etc.

And baby makes three. True romance.
The house is sold, the animals gone to heaven long ago, the climate is buggered and Kate has cast off her water wings. Don't it always seem to go . . .

- Ginette McDonald, aka "Lyn of Tawa", appears in Joan by Tom Scott, February 7-23, ASB Waterfront Theatre, atc.co.nz

Miriama McDowell

I was in my late 20s on a remote beach on a Greek island with my boyfriend when we had a fight to end all fights. He ended up walking out of our little bach, up the hill, on to a ferry, on to a plane and back to the UK, where we were based at the time. I was heartbroken and abandoned but also, I was on a Greek Island. So I decided to stay and nurse my broken heart in the beautiful azure waters outside my window.

The thing about this house was it was at the end of a long dirt road, the last house at the end of a peninsula but although I was isolated, the house happened to be split into two, and the other half was populated by a large, rowdy, muti-generational Greek family that moved in from town during the summers. They spoke no English and I spoke no Greek.

Actress Miriama McDowell. Photo / Supplied
Actress Miriama McDowell. Photo / Supplied

After a few days the grandmothers must've figured out that I was on my own — it might have been the way I carried my forlorn carcass around the beach, or the sudden outbursts of tears, or the conspicuous and sudden lack of boyfriend swimming togs drying on the washing line. Anyway, in a very Greek, grandmotherly way they started to take me under their wings. They leaned over the concrete wall that divided our houses and said "Moni, Moni" gesturing for me to cross over to their patio. I climbed over to be greeted by a table full of Mediterranean food — octopus, feta cheese with oregano and olive oil, pastries filled with spinach and feta. They sat together watching me eat, elbowing each other and muttering "Moni, Moni" and pointing to me.

Well this Moni seemed to become my name, I'd be down at the beach swimming and the little Greek kids would run down, golden brown from the long summer, and yell out over the water "Moni, Moni", I'd come in from the sea and walk back to the house, surrounded by a family that wasn't my own but had taken me in. My acting skills came in really handy over those long lunches, we communicated in a sort of charades conversation, gesturing, acting things out, exaggerating our expressions to share our histories, our heartaches.

"Moni" they would say, shaking their heads with empathy and understanding.


One day on the island I caught a taxi from the supermarket, and when I discovered the driver spoke English I leaned forward, so excited by the fluency of the conversation: "What does this name mean, Moni?". I was thinking it probably meant "Exotic Princess".
"Oh, Moni, yeah, Moni. That's like 'All Alone' but it can also be translated as 'DEAD ALONE'."

- Miriama McDowell stars in Astroman, part of Auckland Arts Festival, at the ASB Waterfront Theatre on March 16, atc.co.nz

Dave Baxter

It was a summer way back in mid-late 90s in intermediate. I'd just been through a roller coaster of a relationship. We'd passed notes in class, I had a major crush on her, but she'd asked me out and broken up with me three times in as many days. When I refused the third time, she'd started a petition in class that we should go out again. People actually signed it. But I was through.

It was the next day on the field that my group of friends were taking turns telling each other their crushes. When it came to my turn I really had no answer. Looking around for inspiration I saw a cute girl I'd seen before, she had a ski jump nose and this smooth thick brown hair that parted in a swish, up and across her face, a great candidate for my new crush. Well, it turned out the girls in my group knew her and wasted no time in telling her about my new-found crush. Thinking about it now, the girls in my life back then were very proactive because she also wasted no time in dumping her current boyfriend to go out with me.

Dave Baxter.
Dave Baxter.

The girls came running back to me excitedly with the news, it was all happening very fast and I definitely hadn't asked for this but I could hardly say no. She'd dumped her boyfriend for me. Plus she was cute and I was on the rebound.

The girls told me all about her, but at no point did they mention how big her ex-boyfriend was.


It's amazing what adrenaline can do. You hear stories of people lifting cars to get at someone trapped inside and tearing doors off hinges to get out of burning buildings.

That lunch hour it kept me one step ahead of her ex as he chased me around the school for a surprisingly long time.

We went out for a little while, passed notes and even talked on the phone. It was a great summer romance while it lasted, but it was a bit of an arranged marriage and as the second week of our relationship came to a close so did my interest. I eventually broke up with her through a friend. I hid around the corner as he told her it was over. Summer love.

- Dave Baxter, Avalanche City. His new album My Babylon is coming soon.