It is such a rich experience to stay in a friends’ home, rather than in the anonymous blandness of a hotel. Friends delight in introducing you to the best of their world, the places that mean the most to them and the people who give meaning to their day to day lives.
We have just spent four nights with our friends Suzanne and Darryl in Puketurua, a tiny place in the middle of the North Island, New Zealand. I met Suzanne and Darryl when I was about 18 years old, with my ex-husband. Our relationship was full of the laughter, passion and intensity of two young couples in love and at the threshold of their lives. Over the last forty years we have only seen them a handful of times, nonetheless they have embraced Steven and when we catch up it’s as if we saw them yesterday.
Here are four of the diamonds from their lives that they shared with us:
The Table on the Deck: We ate all meals in this beautiful rural vista, fresh country food accompanied by the sound of cows lowing. These were joyous meals full of laughter and great conversation. Despite some tough times this couple has maintained a great passion for life, and each other. Suzanne and Darryl reckon that lethargy and joylessness kill you so you better get off your arse, do something and have fun while doing it. No space for complaints or whinging at this table.
The Blue Springs, Te Waihou: “We’ll do a bit of a walk” they said, “just an hour or so by a spring”. What an understatement. The Blue Springs were shockingly beautiful. Crystal clear blue waters with mesmerising vivid green plants that drift in the current. I understand Coca Cola holds 90% of the water rights, and the Spring supplies 70% of the countries bottled water.
The Mystery Tour: We’ll take you up to see our friends place, you’ll like it there. Their friends Phil and Karen have an idyllic spot which they call home. Previously a trout hatchery, they have their own private spring of crystal clear, icy cold water, so cold our feet hurt when we dangled them in. Breathtakingly beautiful.
The day was accompanied by two gorgeous Blue Healer, Border Collie cross dogs with stunning mottled coats and a ginger kitten who snuggled up to them, homemade shortbread biscuits, New Zealand wine, great company and a perfect summer’s day. Bliss.
We had a couple of trips to the Rhubarb Café in Arapuni for great coffee and more laughs with the owners Louise and Bryan. Delicious food delivered with down to earth New Zealand customer service, served on old fashioned Formica tables, just like mum used to have. An unexpected find.
After four days with Suzanne and Daryl my heart was warmed by the fire of this wonderful long burning friendship.