Whew! What a whirlwind. Four weeks into lockdown and we are out the other side. Has it worked? Economics aside, seems to be yes… Certainly the two of us and pooches are well, thank you, and trust you are too, wherever you may be.
Marino Ridge went instantly from a situation where we were busy with happy guests to utter solitude, but for each other, Fabio and Libby! Our last guests made decisions to leave early to their country of origin or to stay in NZ way longer and self-isolate near a golf course. This latter was a great idea until the government pulled the plug on using golf courses by going straight to Level 4…!!!
The birds have stayed…! To look at the kereru, tui, fantails and kingfishers swooping past you’d swear nothing was wrong. They are really flourishing in the peace and quiet! At night in the calm of the evening we sometimes have a glass and dinner on the terrace. A native owl (Ruru) family has decided that we are worthy of their company, so they sit on the rooftop above the office to the right of the terrace and keep their eyes on us. We feel very privileged.
For us life has got busier than ever. Busier but different. The weather has put on a great show. It has been like the best of summer, so we have spent maximum time outside making good before the weather turns. We have debated long and sometimes loud over what we should do, when, and how we should do it. But it has truly been a pleasure being able to do things at a reasonable pace without the pressure of having to finish something fast to meet the call of the daily timetable and rituals. We both regret the loss of daylight saving!
A few days back we were out helping with a friend’s olive harvest (keeping in our lockdown bubble). We can see the grove we picked from here, high on the other side of the Bay. Truly satisfying to have had a hand in the harvest, and then, in due course to enjoy a bottle of two of the ensuing oil. And a beer or two right afterwards… Caroline went over again to harvest some eating varieties to preserve here for use next season.
In view of the pandemic we have made some key decisions about the way forward for Marino Ridge… This winter we plan to get the maintenance done and take the odd local holiday when the lockdown level allows, going to the places we remember many of you’ve talked about. We are thinking that unless a trans-Tasman ANZAC bubble is created there will be little pressure on bookings for quite a while - especially internationally - so we might as well enjoy living here as much as our guests do!!
And next season 20/21 in the time-honoured fashion we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. Optimists always…! We had decided way before the lockdown to work next season in our usual way and not try to make too much fuss of the Prada and America’s Cup Regattas, presuming they happen early next year in some form. Business more or less as usual; sticking to our knitting. Only change is we might focus a bit on longer term sole use bookings. The idea is that guests can have the whole place essentially to themselves and, especially if they need some downtime to meet visa requirements, where better than here?
These days, whilst walking Fabio and Libby, the beauty of the land and sea around us, the blue skies, the changing light, the extraordinary interaction between them captivates us. The dogs gallop and gambol happily about; they are looking in fabulous shape with Caroline having quickly re-instituted her dog grooming skills (after this pic was taken…).
The Covid-19 rampage overseas has of course marred the deep pleasure we might otherwise feel from anything we achieve here. We look at Africa, Asia, the Continent (Italy and Spain especially), Australia of course - envy their economic/health balance - the UK and Northern America, and Brazil most recently, and feel deeply saddened. The dissonance between the situation here on the island that we so enjoy and the situation in other places, here and around the world…it beggars belief. Awful. The two of us marvel constantly at how lucky we are. Our thoughts are with the less lucky…
For sure in the next year to 18 months we are not going to be as busy hosting new guests, so we’ve also decided we’ll do much of the outside work ourselves. We enjoy it and it will keep us fitter than otherwise. So…
…We have invested in a new ride-on mower and a shed for it. An average shed mind you; not your average ROM, however. This one can cope with the slopes we have here plus mow from 0-6inches. With it I should be able to do the upper and lower lawns myself, plus all the accessible areas of the wetlands in a small fraction of the current time. Plus we’re making a seat or two in the shady spots down there so our new guests can enjoy the stunning views through the trees and flaxes.
I’ve finished the bird covers for the herb gardens and for the vegetable potagers. There are some very angry blackbirds about right now! But we get to keep the worms, and the mess of flying mulch on the patio has not reappeared…
Caroline continues her quest for the menu insights we need to keep our world-famous breakfasts ever fresh and appealing. As always, I am the nett beneficiary of the delights that she creates during the hunt.
To keep the threat to my weight under control I’ve cleared the area behind the water tanks and readied it to receive the shed – in it we’ll store the ROM, its trailer, our generator, and various bits and pieces. Caroline has replanted vegetables in the potagers for the winter… When you come back you won’t recognise the area! And bees!!! We’ve bought our own hive and will get the bees in September. Their work will mean we’ll have our very own comb honey early in the New Year. I’ll worry about the stings another day…
After discussions with a truly knowledgeable landscaper guest earlier this year Caroline has decided we will reshape the upper lawn… Why? We’ve learned too late for many that some of you never knew to stroll up to the top lawn area and see how beautiful the area above the house and pool is, especially as a tranquil area to relax in and to take in the panoramic views. Our fault. It’s not obvious. We knew, but we never told you.
We’re now in the process of taking out and replanting some lomandra grasses and cycads sitting now at the top of the entrance path as you turn to approach the front door. We’ll re-lay the lawn slope and bring it down to the path, with steps up to the helipad straight off the path opposite the entrance to the library. By having the lawn start nearer the house it will be obvious to all that there is an area to be explored and it should hopefully draw you up there to sit together and share the sunsets, the city lights and sights, the Milky Way above…
So. That’s the Lockdown gossip. Easter’s gone, Anzac Day’s passed. And yesterday we exited Level 4 for Level 3. I think that means a few more people can go back to what work remains for them. Not yet for us.
These are the most difficult of times for those of us who have not yet lived through wars or similar pandemics. Some of you have and are having to do so again. Some of you we know are on the frontline of defence in New York, in other centres in the US, in UK and Europe too. We want to give you all our very warmest best wishes. We love that you’ve chosen to share some of your happy time here with us and we sincerely hope that you and yours can remain safe, well – and once this is over - successful and happy in your various futures… If you can, do come again!
Know we’re thinking of you all! Stay careful; stay put; stay well.
With our warmest regards,
Pete and Caroline, Fabio and Libby