In 2006 we were looking for a house to buy. We'd seen a collection of smallish villas within our price range, but all of them suffered from one of Dunedin's real estate traps: shade, wind or the ravages of old age. On a whim Clemency dragged me off to see this place, substantially out of our budget. It had a large garden, laid out to the sun with a school on one side and a reserve on another. Macrocarpa and blue gums towered 80ft into the sky to the South, sheltering the wind but not taking away any sun. It had a view to the harbour. Inside the house was tired, but it was light and airy and warm and even though it was small it felt spacious. It had two bathrooms and wooden ceilings soaring, in places to 20 ft above the floor. Every room was on a different level. It felt right. We bought it. it's been a stretch but we will retire without a mortgage.
After renting it out for a few years we moved in 6 years ago. I built a study on one side which is my happy place. Clemency has the garden for hers. It is sheltered from every wind except the Nor' Easter, and on days when we see the city on the other side of the harbour shivering in wind and shadow, we are in stillness and sunshine with our French doors open onto the deck. The woodburner or the heat pump quickly heat it on the coldest days. I have a list of things which need attending to once April rolls around. It needs painting, and the kitchen needs a revamp, and the deck is a bit grey. But East West and all that, and it's the garden which is the real hospital for tired souls.
It has all been laid out well, and it has grown past its original formality into a kind of tangled wildness. There is greenery at eye level everywhere, but because it slopes gently away towards the sea it never feels enclosed. It is a place which invites presence
We toy with the idea of moving, but really, why would we do a crazy thing like that? We have every part of our lovely city within 10 minutes drive, and within 20 we can be standing on any one of 20 different beaches. Where would we find anything like this, anywhere else? We are happy to approach our codgerdom, reveling in our memories, right here. So, I'll leave it to another bunch of boring old farts to reach into their memory bag, and mine, to express it for me.