I generally disagree with being labelled a lucky guy but this is an exception for sure!
When I was in Rai Valley, WWOOF’ing, my hosts let me know that they were booked up for the next month or so. Despite this obvious warning that things were getting busy (which would reduce my chance of getting a host) I didn’t get around to e-mailing some farms until the last minute. I didn’t hold out much hope so I mailed 4 people at the same time. The next day I had four replies, two were happy to take me. One was a B&B by the coast and the other was a home in the countryside. The B&B could take me immediately and the house was busy until Monday (this was all discovered on a Thursday). For no reason other than ‘gut feeling’ I went with the house and milled around the area for the weekend. I spent some time at the beach.
I had definitely picked the right option, as you can see:
The second lounge

Well actually it’s a whole load better than that picture, I’m having a little play with you as I like to on occasion. The above picture is of the second lounge which I can use if I don’t like what’s on the TV in the evenings.
This is the main lounge:
The main lounge
As you can imagine when I was driving up the carriage way to the house I was genuinely a bit confused,
The front of the house
perhaps I had the wrong address. There was nothing in the WWOOF’ers green book to indicate that this was such an impressive house! I’ve been staying here as long as possible but unfortunately I have to leave tomorrow to get back to Auckland so I can sell my van and close my bank account and generally faff around to get myself sorted out before I go to Fiji.
Staying here has been fantastic and slightly surreal. Walking across the croquet lawn to have morning tea while classical music was playing from the outdoor speakers is an example of a surreal moment here.
The house is used as a venue for large events like weddings and birthdays etc so the food is fantastic. A lot of the time I feel like I’m in some kind of lesson in self restraint that I’m constantly failing. But in a very tasty way. Last weekend some guests even arrived by helicopter which they parked on the front lawn. If you get past the beautiful house (I haven’t, I still get the urge to giggle like an idiot sometimes when I’m walking about) the jobs I’ve been given have been varied and interesting.
I’ve cleared fallen branches on the slopes behind the house (first time ever using a chain-saw), helped water the new plants in the heat, done kitchen work to help out at the weekend when Diane was away so it was just myself and Peter cooking a meal for five, then tea for 27. I’ve helped with plumbing – both interior and exterior, put up and taken down scaffolding
20090206-1
and done a bit of painting.
It’s been a good time! I’ve really gotten a feeling for the New Zealand ‘can do’ attitude. I would say that it’s less of a ‘can do’ attitude and more of a ‘am doing’ attitude – the concept that they can or can’t do ‘this’ doesn’t seem to come up they just do it.
For example the scaffolding outside came about via the following story. Peter was looking out the window at some light much needed rain when he noticed that there seemed to be a dripping from an overflowing gutter. Initially we were going to just try to clean it out using a hooked hose attachment and leaning out of a window. But it became apparent that the downpipe was old and possibly blocked – causing the dripping.
So, up goes the scaffolding, down comes the old down pipe, the guttering is blasted clear of leaves and crap, a new downpipe is bought and fitted and the scaffolding is taken down and put away. Time from noticing the problem to it being completely sorted?
Two days and one morning. Literally no hanging around. It’s quite a refreshing way of working.
View from the croquet lawn
Main dining room
The Hallway
One of the dining rooms