Our most recent house sitting assignment took us an hour north of Auckland to Matakana. A 5 hour drive that was well worth the trip. The art vibe hits you soon after leaving the small township of Warkworth, passing signs at the end of driveways advertising privately owned art galleries, pottery and organic produce for sale – my sort of place really! The picturesque region is a foodies haven – it was obvious there was much to be enjoyed.
My daughter, has chosen this delightful spot for her latest life adventure, so combining a house sitting venture with a chance to see her, was a great opportunity. We booked it in – a long weekend caring for Cosima a gentle natured German Shepherd -the polar opposite after the little white puff balls we’d looked after the week before.
As it turned out the week before we were due to head out, Cosima’s mums plans changed and we were not needed. However one thing we are learning with Trusted Housesitters members, they are a terrific bunch of people and rather than ruin the opportunity to see my daughter, Susanne suggested we still meet up in case she needed us in the future.The cutest cottage awaited us, bordered by an orchard overflowing with citrus just begging to be picked. Macadamia trees surrounded the house & a new planting of young Feijoa trees promised delicious fruit in seasons to come.
My daughter met us on arrival in the township and swooped us straight into an activity that fitted perfectly after the long drive- a wine tasting experience at The Vintry.
With over 30 boutique wineries, olive groves, restaurants and a fabulous locally grown food and produce market this place is nothing short of paradise.
Early the next morning, Gordon became better acquainted with Cosima, taking her for long walks around the property and attempting to get her to jump for frisbees – something Susanne assured us Cosima loved to do but for us failed to show any interest in. Go figure.
I took the opportunity to pop into town to visit the famous Matakana Market.A treasure trove of goods awaited me. I delighted in freshly made almond butter, organic honey & chocolate, handcrafted cheeses, smoked garlic and artisan baking. A few hours later I was still enjoying the atmosphere when Gordon caught up with me. Fortunately we’d taken our goose down puffer jackets as the temperature was close to zero but spotting a gentleman selling bottles of a Kentucky bourbon infused with local Puhoi honey, of course we were in for a tasting. Now we are not big drinkers at all, but sipping Batch10 neat was a definite treat. It was seriously delicious!
It happened to be the week three of our boys celebrated birthdays – it was an easy decision what to get them!
Later in the week one of the boys basted it over Roast Pork – divine! A quick learner, Gordon came home and drizzled it on chicken pieces before baking, – just the best! Boy were we thrilled to learn you can order it online – Gordon’s bottle is finished already. (Not big drinkers though)
I’m still trying to get an arty feel in my garden so when Gordon spotted some funky ceramic mushrooms and magical fairy doors I knew they were begging me to take them home. By now Gordon had had his fill of shopping (I’d been ignoring his groans as I found more stalls to peruse) and was looking for a good coffee. Amy suggested we head for a pretty cool boutique brewery just down the road, I’m not sure why, breweries serve beer don’t they? Way cool but no coffee. We then headed for the Country Park, where coincidentally I found another art gallery filled with the work of local artists – Gordon never did get his coffee that day!
Evenings found us chatting amicably around Susanne’s dining table sipping local wines, nibbling on her home grown macadamia nuts & swapping life stories into the early hours. Hers were far more interesting than ours, as we learned of her life growing up in Bavaria. Sterile hotel rooms have nothing on good wine & good conversation with a local – I’ll take that every time.
Since we were there & Cosima had happily accepted us, Susanne did take the opportunity for some time away, but we met up for breakfast together on our last day, consolidating our new friendship.
So we now have another successful house sitting assignment under our belt and can’t wait for the next. But for the moment it’s back to work……
Oh and a favourite recipe acquired from the trip – dates lightly smeared with almond butter and dipped in cacao nibs – seriously moreish!