About Valerie

I’ve had a fairly adventurous life, living through the Blitz- time in England – I watched and remember the Battle of Britain as a two-year old – had a stint in post-war Germany with my army family, living at Belsen, living in the Beast of Belsen’s  old apartment,  travelled to school in Malaya in an armoured convoy through bandit-infested jungle,  and later found myself trapped in the middle of the first Red Guard march in Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution in China.
In New Zealand, I once awoke to find a grey-suited man with a stocking over his head in our bedroom during my husband Pat Booth’s fight to free an innocent man wrongly jailed for a double murder (he was pardoned at the end of the eight-year battle). Then there was the time I found the wheels of my car had been tampered with to cause an accident when the Mr Asia drug ring – a world-wide drug ring my crusading journalist husband had exposed – had put a price on his head.
I grew up in an army family, joining the British army myself.  Living in Hong Kong with my army husband, I had to learn journalism on the run when the marriage broke up in order to support my two children. Eventually I came to New Zealand with the children aged five and six, knowing no-one, with no money, no job and no home, to start from scratch in a new country. We arrived with three suitcases, in two of which I’d packed sheets and cutlery to start a new home!

 I was Woman’s Editor of the South China Morning Post before leaving Hong Kong, In New Zealand I became a writer at the liberal paper the Auckland Star, where I wrote a column for twelve years, became Woman’s Editor, and at the same time wrote a column for families and children in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly for fourteen years. I stopped writing for magazines last year after fifty years of journalism, and have also written twenty=two books..

Now retired, I still write my blog, am writing several more books, and live in the middle of a protected forest miles from anywhere with my new partner.

Hobbies are gardening, grandchildren, reading, cooking, moving house and restoring and re-decorating old houses, friends, music, opera, pets and people watching ( there must be more).  I don’t have dogs any more, but over the years have had seventeen, mostly rescued, usually three at a time, including three afghans, two salukis, a borzoi, a labrador, six cavalier King Charles spaniels, a boxer, a mastiff-boxer cross, a mastiff, plus the lodgers – the dogs who came to spend the day with me while their owners were at work !

It isn’t just pets that I care about, I’m involved with several world –wide animal organisations both to save animals from being tortured and exploited (including bull-fighting and bear-baiting) – and to save wild animals whose habitats are being destroyed by hunting or clearing. And of course, like the rest of us, I worry about preserving our planet before it’s too late.

I write this blog because I love writing – about anything – but actually I write about the things that interest me , and they’re different every day.


214 responses to “About Valerie

  1. Hello Valerie… what a delightful and interesting blog you have created… I stumbled on you yesterday and today been back to read a little… I love Robinson’s story… and hearing about your full-backed life… Thankyou for visiting me too and enjoying a good read… IAM sure we are going to be good friends here on line enjoying each others journey into the unknown… take care, Barbara


  2. Hi Valerie 🙂 I just saw your name on another blog and wondered if it was you, and yes, you are you 🙂
    Many years ago, 35!, I was a teenage Mum of two little boys. I wrote a letter to you through the Woman’s Weekly and you wrote back and sent me a lovely book on recycling/making cheap ornaments etc for the home. It was such a kind act at a time I was feeling utterly miserable and I really appreciated you taking that time to do that. Several years ago I found a book on yours on your life and spiritual matters, Heaven is a Place on Earth. I share many of your experiences so thoroughly enjoyed it and reading more about you.
    I am pleased to see you here and you are still keeping well and happy and really wanted to share my appreciation for your kindness to a stanger way back then, no kind act is forgotten and I imagine there are many like me out there xx


    • What a lovely surprise to find your message when I opened up this morning… thank you so much…it was a real thrill to know that you remembered me from way back… I wonder what the book was ! Since you call yourself quarteracre life-style can I take it that everything has worked out for you, and life is as good as we all hope it will be?
      I suppose your children are almost into middle age like mine,. and maybe you are a grandmother too, which I find to be one of the deepest joys of my life…
      Again thank you so much for taking the trouble to write, I so appreciated it… it makes me feel that all those columns ( which I never kept) and all those letters were worth while!
      Warmest wishes to you, Valerie


      • Oh, you are most welcome, I was so pleased to see your name pop up 🙂

        The book, I remembered the name yesterday, Bright Ideas I think? I was chuffed with it and made so many things from it over the years. Life is just fine now thank you and I have two wonderful sons and a wee granddaughter.
        Those columns I am very certain were terribly worthwhile, I read them avidly and I am sure many others would have. Not many people would’ve have taken the time to write “all those letters” and I appreciated it very much at the time…gosh it seems a lifetime ago now! So nice to get a chance to say thanks 🙂
        Kindest regards


      • I join quateracrelifestyle in her sentiments and fondly remember your colum in womans weekly and how at times those timely reads got me thugh tough times bringing up four children on my own. On reading your blog I feel reconnected to another time. Youhave brightened my life yet again.
        Warmest wishes Denise


  3. I have enjoyed reading in your blog, an interesting life for sure. Like others I suppose, time makes choices for us and I will return to read more and comment more. I am a grand father and yes the joy of life is that. Stumbling through your blog door is a treat.


  4. I have nominated you for the I’m Part of the WordPress Family Award. If you are interested here is the information http://ourgrowingpaynes.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/im-part-of-the-wordpress-family-award/


  5. Anonymous

    How wonderful to discover you, and thank you for visiting my blog. You have so many wonderful stories to tell…thank you for sharing them with the world!


  6. Your next book should be your own story. I’m sure it would be a page turner. Anyway pleased to make your acquaintance.


  7. Congratulations, Valerie!

    I have nominated your blog for the Shine On Award.

    More about this nomination is at



  8. First, Thank you.That now over, I read through your ‘About’ post and … I am exhausted….! You colorfully glided us through scenes like those in the recent 007-type movies. Thankfully VD comes through each scrape intact and ever ready to confront the next day. It’s early hear in Pittsburgh, USA, and after shoveling snow a short time ago, and dashing through your scrapes with you, I’m in need of a 2nd cup of coffee (½ reg/ ½ decaf, please).
    Enjoy what I’ve read so far, so, I pulled the ‘Following’ lever, and have no idea what or where it will take me….


    • Jeff,
      thank you for the most delicious comment yet!!! Hope you got your coffee safely – the only thing that really matters!
      And hope the Following button doesn’t disappoint you – best wishes, Valerie


  9. Valerie! We awarded you a nomination for the Sunshine Award!!! Congratulations!! Keep up the great work and thank you for all of your love!

    Check here: http://spiritbath.com/2014/01/15/spiritbath-has-been-nominated-twice-for-the-sunshine-award-and-once-for-blog-of-the-year/



  10. Hi Valerie! I have said before I I’m saying again that I find your blog fascinating. In addition to this blog though, you nurture a blogging community. That’s pretty amazing. You’ve been designated my top commenter for 2013. Thank you so much. You’re on my list on today’s post (http://bottledworder.com/2014/01/22/commenters-2013/) . Bottledworder


    • Hello Bottleworder – what a lovely surprise to find your lovely message. I’m so touched and honoured that you should see things the way you do – and amazed…never crossed my mind that you could see my blog and things that way- thank you so much… it feels really heartwarming, best wishes Valerie.


  11. Anonymous

    Hi Valerie,
    Heard you on my Kim Hill Radio NZ podcast and enjoyed your interview very much. I’ll be reading your blog from Jakarta so perhaps I’m your first expat Indonesian based reader!
    Kind regards


    • Hello Penny,
      Thank you so much for your lovely message on my blog. Many apologies for taking so long to get back to you, I’ve been over-run with feed-back after the radio thingie, and also with domestic crises.. hence my tardiness. How lovely to think that someone in Indonesia is reading the blog – do hope you enjoy it, warm wishes, Valerie


  12. Vanessa McLellan

    Hi Valerie
    A friend has just now told me how he had heard you on Kim Hill and was taken how our lives were similar in a way that i have never experienced in anyone I have met or heard of ever before.
    My father belonged to the First Royal Tank Regiment and was one of the first regiments into Belsen when WWII ended. Harrowing tales most of which our father spared us as small children. I was born in Hanover Hospital in 1950 and had the dubious honour of winning the Belsen Baby Show. A distraction designed to amuse army wives but in retrospect has a ghastly ring to the title.

    But the next coincidence is that aged 7 we moved to Hong Kong (dad still with the First Tanks) and we lived there for 4 years in Sekkong Village only 3 kms from what was known as The Red Border.

    One month from the age of 12 we moved to NZ where I have lived ever since with various visits and life back In England which I still think of as my Turangwaewae. Both mum and dad have passed away but we really did live the lives of Army Brats which as you would know was both rewarding and also at times quite unsettling.

    I doubt we will shall ever meet or talk but I take some comfort for the first time ever (apart from my sibs 3 of us born in Germany and the 1 in Hong Kong) that somewhere in NZ there is someone who lived a similar life and knows how strange (and yet wonderful) it all was.

    I send you my love and good wishes. I commend your courage in coming down to NZ as a solo mum. What an adventure that must have been!
    (My mother was also in the army serving in Germany as a WAAF which is how she came to meet Dad),

    Too many stories to tell and too short a space and time.

    Kindest regards

    Vanessa McLellan (nee Lenton)


    • Dear Vanessa,
      thank you so much for your long and fascinating message. Please forgive my tardiness in replying to you., I’ve been run over with responses to the radio thing, and had a domestic crisis at the same time… life is always eventful! I found your life story so intriguing… my father was in the Fifth Tanks at the time, though while we were at Belsen, he transferred to the cavalry. We were there in 47/48, and my half brother was born at Hanover like you.
      WE were in Malaya while you were in Hongkong, and I did Hongkong from 65 to 70 when I came here… yes, life with the army was a unique experience wasn’t it… waking to the sound of reveille echoing over in the barracks, and going to bed hearing the mournful sound of the Last post every night… they both move me deeply even now when I hear them…
      So lovely to hear from you Vanessa, and warmest best wishes to you, Valerie


  13. You’ve really captured all the essentials in this subject area, haven’t you?


  14. Hector Guthrie

    Hi Valerie,

    Hello again after all these years. I found your blog and thought I’d let you know I’m still teaching the courses you introduced me to in the early 80s in Auckland – for many years in Perth, then back here in Dunedin, with many adventures along the way. Thanks again for writing the article that got me interested,

    Hector Guthrie (and Merylei)


    • Dear Hector,’
      What a thrill to find you here – I meant to write you a long letter straight away, but got bogged down with the fairly trying situation of caregiver to Patrick at a frail 85,…
      Would love to hear from you through the private channels of e-mail ! and know more about the courses you’re teaching in Dunedin… how wonderful… Victoria’;s second son is at Uni in Dunedin, and studying psychology… maybe he’d feel like doing one of your courses… do let me know more about it all, and how you and Merylei are, and what you’ve been up to all these years… I remember fondly the fun we had, as well as some of the other stuff!!! merlincourtpress@gmail.com is my address…do hope to hear from you, love to you both, Valerie


  15. Anonymous

    Dear Valerie, trust all is well with you. We miss your timely notes on life and look forward to their return. 🙂 Much love Denise


  16. Pat

    I’m happy to meet you here, Valerie. You sure have had an adventurous life. I look forward to hearing more when you return from your hiatus.


  17. Thank you Pat, lovely that you’re here… at the moment the hiatus is horrendous!
    But 20015 is another year !


  18. Pingback: Writing (and reading) can be dangerous « Books Can Save A Life

  19. It’s lovely to ‘meet’ you, Valerie. I grew up in Hong Kong, and my novel, “The Orchid Tree”, is set there. 🙂


  20. Thank you for dropping by and following Malcolm’s Corner. Your ‘About’ page describes not one life but many lives. If, as I believe, experience etches our character, yours must be finely carved indeed.


    • Dear Malcolm, what a simply beautiful comment , thank you so much… I really value your words.- but they do not surprize me, as your writing, subject matter and wonderful range of thought and knowledge was what drew me to your blog.
      I saw your comment when reading old blogs of Kate Shrewsdy, and thought I must investigate the person who wrote that.. and loved your writing… will be reading much more of your back blogs, but we are having trouble with the internet at the moment… hence my dilatory reply to your wonderful comments
      I’ve actually just started another life – left my past behind, and settled in the middle of a remote forest, a conservation area, where my new partner and I have a mountain and forty acres of trees and stream all to ourselves.
      .But phone and internet are tricky… which doesn’t always matter !!!!
      So good to have found you, best wishes, Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Roberta Douglas

    Dear Valerie, have just found your blog via David Wilmot. We traveled on a similar road and no doubt crossed paths. My first memories are from Belsen, Germany I was 3 1/2 -5 years old. And, later the Cameron Highlands age about 11 years! Of both, I have a hazy memory, but I do know that they were traumatic.
    I am finally retired (age 71) and will begin reading your blog from the beginning. The winter is around the corner and I look forward to quiet time reading in front of the wood burning stove. I live in Connecticut, safely tucked away in the Berkshire foothills. I have fashioned a nest based on an English cottage, a kinder memory of my British past.
    Whatever, vision from those early days has fixed in my brain, I credit it,with a lifelong commitment to compassion for my fellow travelers.
    Thank you for this blog, I look forward to being a regular visitor.
    Roberta Sue Douglas (Bobby) Slim ’56


  22. Dear Roberta… or do you like to be called Bobby,
    thank you so much for your delightful comment, and the word picture you paint of your life… so sorry not to have replied earlier, but have had many hoops to jump through recently, which include not only own my trials and tribulations briefly described in my latest blog, now I’ve come to life, but two of my closest family members having bad accidents, one of whom is now a teenage quadraplegic with all the grief, readjustments etc etc that that entails…
    Long, long unpunctuated sentence that- but it gets my meaning across.. anyway, it was so good to hear from you,


  23. Thank you so much for your recent visit and comment on one of my posts as I have now found yours! You have had an interesting personal and writing life and I shall enjoy following yours. Your comments on the Manchester concert bombing and the London Bridge attack reflects the horror and shock of many. It does not seem like the London I visited years ago. May peace and love prevail!


  24. Thank you Jo, for finding me… looking forward to following you… and yes, indeed, may only love prevail, a mantra I taught my grandchildren many years ago…


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