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Saturday 12 December 2020

This 40 Years....

Last week, I received a complementary copy of this local magazine Living Hawke's Bay in the post.
What a lovely gesture, from the editor. As it turns out there's an article in there about us...well, not so much about Rob, but without him there's no me and Lucy..
But a rather lovely capture of the essence of An angel in the garden (aka Sunshine Vintage) thanks to Jan Daffern for the great story and Charlotte Anderson for the wonderful photos.
I love that the article has appeared in a thoroughly local magazine. Here I am with Lucy and our sweet simple life, bumping alongside an accountant we used to go to church with and Cliff that makes fabulous food at the Farmers' Market and has recently opened a little cafe called the Colab cafe just down the road.
It just so happened that in the same week that the magazine was published it was also our 40th wedding anniversary so we packed up a few lovely things and headed out to Havelock North to a fabulous and unique old barn, an airbnb called Tiger House. Our first stop was a visit to The Garden Market. Although that's not strictly true- our first stop was a brief visit to Farmers (a department store) in town- not something we get the opportunity to do very often. Rob came out of the shop incredulous that every shirt that he looked at had a price tag of $80. That little visit proved to be a retail therapy of an entirely different kind- we were both left feeling so very grateful for our resource-filled life and our abundance of interesting, economical op shopped clothes.  
I loved this old jug and bought it along with the flowers. I kept adding wildflowers to the mix as we went along.
Tiger House is an old converted barn described as "Rustic, wild, private and unique".
It's also cosy, welcoming and deeply restful.
I had a wonderful time reading these books.
There was a swahili feel about the interior that made us feel as if we'd been mysteriously transported somewhere else in the world, not just 10 minutes down the road.
There's quite a few reasons why Tiger House is not suitable for children- one of them being the presence of this prickly pear plant on the kitchen table! One of our favourite little tunes, just now, is also a song entitled "Prickly Pear" so....we introduced them.
The wonderful 110 year old barn lends itself perfectly to Woody's clever renovations.
Space enough to create a charming bathroom with old concrete tub 

and a luxurious dressing room.
"It's beautiful here
in this small room
in this small town
in this small country
at the edge
of the world".
In this place we rested deeply...
we also recognised that no renewing of vows or other witness was required to honour this milestone in our lives. 
We were befriended by a timid little recently re-homed family of Indian runner ducks. Fancy that- the exact same variety of duck that graces the cover of the magazine!
They were just adorable. They toddled off at night to their duck house and we shut them in to keep them safe. And in the morning....out they came again.
This is old family land with glorious Hawke's Bay vistas.
And a gone tree or two.
One of our favourite songs of this year is by Xavier Judd and it's called True Love. The words are deeply meaningful to us, but the funny thing is, that all these months we've heard the words as: 

"You and me under these old gone trees, hand and hand, forever we will be"

But of course they're actually not gone trees but gum trees. 

40 years is a long time. But you can't feel the longness of it. For 40 years we've carried the shame of the judgements, criticisms and vicious undermining of our marriage by both of our families and by various pastors. 

Several weeks ago I felt that we were to renounce the agreements that others had made to support and uphold our marriage way back in 1980, because they didn't mean it, and instead did everything they could to see us fail. So- we didn't get the words wrong- our message in this time is that we do indeed finally sit hand in hand under these old GONE trees.They are dead to us. Can you see the petrified creature in the middle of this tree? They gave our marriage 6 months and to this day, not one of them can say a good word about our love. 

So to Tiger House we came, on our own, to honour our own vows and celebrate the remarkable gift that we have been given.
Quirky and fun and a whole lot bohemian.

The bird life around Tiger House- rich and glorious.
Arapata homestead was built in 1910. She's, a grand old lady. You can read a little of the history of this land and the family who live here just here.
The retired pool
This iconic avenue of plane trees- timeless, sweeping grace.
A delight to walk down through the property to Birdwoods gallery just across the road.
And a long the way we were gently reminded to breathe and fully experience our adventure.
The unique Birdwoods Gallery is a special place...

"Opened in 2005 by Bruce and Louise Stobart, the Gallery's home is the original church hall from St Peter's in Waipawa built in 1894.

Come and  discover hidden treasures in our beautifully refreshed Gallery,  spoil yourself and loved ones indulge in a morning or afternoon tea.  Stay for lunch, enjoy a coffee, wander our gorgeous gardens, say hallo to the Grannies in the Sweet Shop,  feel good about life and yourself again and we will look after you safely." 

It's a very long time ago that we first watched the movie Out of Africa and the experience opened up something of the past for Rob- his memories of Nairobi and the seven years that he lived there with his family.

I love that this detail was dovetailed in to our adventure.

An unusual and generous gesture to open up gardens around a cafe- a perfect place to display garden sculpture, of various kinds.

We walked up Te Mata Peak, up Chamber's Walk and through the little Redwoods
and spotted a King Fisher on our journey.
A few months ago in chatting with a friend, he mentioned the little chapel in Tanner street. Even though I grew up in Havelock North I'd never heard of it before so we set about finding it.
And here it was, all this time, just down a driveway.
A certain mystery surrounds this little chapel...
although it's not surprising as Havelock North was founded on the quirky and fringe.

In fact, Where Ra another house of great mystery, can be found just up the road & round the corner.

"In Havelock North in 1908 a circle of prominent local personalities known as the Havelock Work was established. They published a monthly literary magazine called 'The Forerunner' and held regular cultural gatherings. Whare Ra was built on land donated by Mason Chambers, one of a group of these Havelock intellectuals who were searching for enlightenment through a Christian based, esoteric form of teaching. To aid their search Dr R W Felkin (1853-1926) and his family were brought out from England.
Felkin had been a missionary and explorer in Africa. He was the first European to visit all the Great Lakes of Central Africa and return alive and the first to measure the pygmies of the Congo. He became an expert on tropical diseases, writing several books and lecturing extensively on the subject. His wide interests tended toward the supernatural and included astrology, theosophy and Rosicrucianism. He had been the chief of the London temple of a secret spiritual society known as the Stella Matutina Hermetic Order and had come out to provide instruction in its beliefs and rituals, at first for a few months in 1913 and again in 1916 when he settled permanently.
The house was purpose built to both house the Felkin family and as a lodge which was to be the New Zealand Headquarters of the order. The lodge was named Smaragdum Thalasses and teaching was conducted in the basement temple. From the 1916 addition Dr Felkin also ran a successful practice as Havelock North's first medical doctor.
Although Dr Felkin died in 1926 his work in the order was carried on by his wife Harriot and daughter Ethelwyn who were also chiefs in Stella Matutina. They continued to live in the house until the death of Ethelwyn in 1962, Harriot having already died in 1959. The building was later administered as a Trust until the order was finally wound up in 1978."

So it is unsurprising that there should be a random little triangular chapel lurking in the bushes near by.
A tiny room. The door is always open
and was built here by a mysterious Chivalric Society
It wasn't until we'd lit our candles and replaced the flowers that we read the bit on the wall and found that you're supposed to sit in silence, but nobody seemed to mind.
A chair in each corner and a little alter in the other one.
We wandered up the road in the reserve before we visited and picked some wild flowers- honeysuckle, hedge woundwort, wild sweet peas, self heal and jasmine,

It was here in this unexpected place we found ourselves held- do you know that term "holding space", well that's what this little chapel does. Hand and hand together you and me.

People talk a great deal these days about healing and even growing. It's all good and necessary. Sometimes though I think we try too hard, set out disciplines and regimes attempting to beat ourselves in to new shapes. Quite often in the forcing, we fail. The more that we have allowed the plants to speak to us, to present themselves, the more that we know them and include them in our every day lives, the more that we find ourselves supported, strengthened, healed- in the gentlest of ways. Under the washing line at Tiger House I discovered yet another wild plant that I have never come across before. It smells like a dead nettle but it's not the dead nettle I know. Perhaps it's a message that goes with the Old Gone Trees.
Night, night little ducks.
No tv, just books and music and a fire to light
and a bath to soak in while listening to the Morepork (Ruru)- out there wide awake in a tree in the dark.
Or sojourn was a step out of time.
We could have happily sat here resting in this land some more- and that's always a good thing.

My angel love, the one I've waited for
Whispering to the depths of my soul
This is love
This is true love.....

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