We travelled inland through the heartland of Hawke’s Bay knowing that a large house was awaiting us to rent. With the hideousness of the previous day (see Part One) still bugging me, I prayed that this place would suit our family’s needs. The scenery was uplifting, though the hills were their usual arid summer colour. It was hard to believe that there had been torrential rain and flooding a week or so back in nearby Napier. But this region bore no apparent scars.
The road wound above a river for a time and a part of me wished to stop and swim there, as river spots are a huge favourite of mine. But everyone was anxious to reach the new destination. We passed through Elsthorpe, and turned off onto Laurence Road. The drive to the house was long and inviting, and rose to a plateau where the house was sited. A swimming pool sat down a little on the grassed terrace, tennis courts to one side. Relief and delight swept through me. This, in contrast to the Haumoana property, was paradise.
Unfortunately I don’t have an image of the long veranda fronting the house, which was where we spent time out of the sun, catching up on reading, games, and for me – sketching. Taking a quiet moment or two when some offspring were competing at tennis, I took out my art gear, and turned to face a pond fringed with foliage.
I decide to use the 140lb rag watercolour paper I’d been given and only an ink pen. I was surprised at the ease of movement I achieved, as the paper was thick and textured. I became absorbed, just sketching, scribbling almost, as there was a good deal of foliage to draw. I sat back, put my pen down, sketch over. I was happy leaving it as was, without applying colour. But that was it. One sketch. But one was better than none.
We did venture away from this idyll and drove 30 minutes or so, to fabulous Mangakuri Beach. Although, there are so many beautiful beaches along this coast it’s a hard decision to choose which one to visit. However, the owner of the property we were in had said this was one of the top three for him. We weren’t disappointed.
The day was hot, the water pleasantly refreshing. After swimming we chomped on the super sandwiches Lucy had made, and lay back on our towels to rest. And although we were swathed in sunblock, wore hats and light clothing, we knew when we’d had too much of a good thing. Back to Laurence Road. Perfect timing for a dip in the pool, and back to relaxing all over again. The following day we took it easy once more, and stayed poolside mostly. Scrabble was the game for some, tennis for others, and what do you know, it was time for a pre-dinner drink, and a fantastic meal prepared by the best cooks – our adult children.
Morning and time to shift location – again. This time, luck was still on our side, when Ian, a second cousin of mine, had said ‘yes’ to us all staying two nights in his large home, in rural Hastings.