Kindness of Strangers

It has been a very, very long time since I’ve written on this blog – all is very well, great really, at the House, business is growing and we’ve had some really amazing guests…but this year has been a very tough one personally for me and for Rod.

I will write about our losses and stresses, but for now, I’m focusing on the unbelievable community that we live in.  So many people here have reached out to us, stopped by, sent flowers, popped into the house for a cup of tea, baked us cakes, and just made sure that we knew they were thinking of us, and sharing in our time of sadness.  Just over 4 years of making this lovely seaside town our new home, and we’ve made a tremendous life here.  Our friends have become family and our relationships with our family and each other have grown because of it.

This blog by a fellow New Yorker captures the spirit of this amazing country.  “Marcel Proust said that, ‘The only true voyage of discovery is not to go to new places, but to have other eyes.’ It only took a week in New Zealand to see my need for new eyes.”  Welcome!

 

Taranaki Weddings – Industry Awards

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We are delighted to have been nominated in two categories in the upcoming Taranaki Weddings – Industry Awards.  These nominations mean so much to us, because they come directly from brides and grooms who have stayed at the House and given us the huge honor of hosting their wedding in our garden.

I get such joy out of hosting people during their wedding.  The House has a certain energy when we are hosting wedding parties.  I’ll never forget crying tears of joy when I saw our first bride getting ready at the House….we strive to help with every detail, making sure they are pampered, that the bridesmaids are taken care of, that the families have something to eat, that everyone is happy and ready for the gorgeous event that awaits them.

It is a huge feeling of emotion and accomplishment when the wedding cars leave…or the bride and groom check out.  I’ll never forget the weddings we’ve had here.  This House was built in the 1890’s and we are truly just caretakers of it for a brief time…but I am proud that for the time that we will own it, that we’ve been able to fill our garden with love and celebration.

I get to do this for a living…I am so very humbled by these nominations, and thank you if you could kindly vote for us.  We will break out the champagne to celebrate!

You can vote for us in the Accommodation category here:

http://www.taranakiweddings.com/awards/vote/?category=39

and in the Venue category here:

http://www.taranakiweddings.com/awards/vote/?category=11

 

 

Through a different lense….

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A talented local photographer, Biance Brons recently took some photos of our Taranaki Suite, and guest lounge.

I just love them, the light, the way she captures the combination of character and modern elements that we created, the warmth of the environment….it is so lovely to see the House through different eyes.

Merci

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We had the choice in school to choose the foreign language we wanted to study.  I think there were just two choices – French or Spanish.  My mom encouraged my brothers to take French so I just fell in line and chose it too.

We began our language studies when we were about 12-13 I think.  I remember my first French teacher vividly.  He was the first French person that I ever met – and he truly was the stereotypical definition of French to my teenage world.  Tall and wicked thin, thick accent like he just got off the plane wild curly hair, and I think he wore some sort of white shirt, black tie and jeans combo uniform.  He was just the right mixture of outspoken, tell-it -like-it-is communicator with a dash of inappropriateness.  His accent was amazingly thick and his stories grandiose.  I studied with him during my time in middle school and then went on to continue my French studies all through high school and college.  When I graduated from college, they found out I needed one more class to actually get my diploma – so French yet again.

I’ve never had a real ear for foreign languages.  I am a ‘big picture’ kind of person, and getting the accent marks right or really understanding the tenses just really never sparked my joy.  I loved hearing the language and dreaming of Paris…but always was and still am, very timid when I speak French.  (Actually one sentence I can say loudly and clearly when I speak French is just that “Je suis tres timide quand je parle en Francais!”)

When I moved to London, I began travelling quite often to France and was able to bust out my knowledge.  It’s not great, but I can order food, wine, ask for the check (l’addition si vous plait,) check into a hotel, explain who I am, where I come from, get about on public transportation and in cabs, and oddly, due to one missed bus when travelling with my mom, aunt and our friend….convince total strangers to give us a lift in their car.  I got to really know Paris and felt very proud that I could take visiting friends around that gorgeous city with ease.

Recently this small amount of language has been put to the test at the House….for some reason the start of 2016 has brought 3 different sets of French speaking guests to the House.  One funny man, when he found out I spoke French, would not speak to me in English….that check-in process took awhile.  The most recent couple were fabulous and I had fun translating between them and some Canadian guests that were in the breakfast lounge.  Put down your phone, no google translator needed!

Coming from that kooky French class when I was a teenager through to today – it’s amazing where life takes you, and what skills you may need when you get there.

Off to practice my past participles and dream of Paris once again….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words of wisdom

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We’ve been heads down with guests for the past two months.  The House has been full, filled with suitcases carried in and out, chairs, blankets and picnics being carried up into the park to listen to the bands and see the lights, and our mornings filled with eggs and coffees.  There have been so many interesting and delightful guests that we have been honored to meet.  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them and sharing our own stories.

After a year of running this House as my full time job, I am slowly settling into what people would tell me about this type of role, “it’s a lifestyle business.”  I do often joke that this is not a rock style life, but one of cleaning and scrambling eggs.  But truly and slowly I’ve realized that it is one of simple, daily pleasures.

Serving people a meal, and having the recipient say, ‘thank you’ and enjoy it

Seeing their smiles and hearing the ooohs and ahhhhs when guests see their room for the first time

Having the time every day to walk our dog on a black sand beach and walk until we are done

Picking flowers and vegetables from the garden

The joy of hard work and being able to relax and feel accomplished at the end of the day

The beauty of working for ourselves

I’ve started a new ritual that has greatly improved my enjoyment of cleaning the House.  I listen to podcasts while I clean.  One of my favorites is Fresh Air, with Terry Gross.  I recently read an article about her, and understand my connection to her….

‘‘I don’t know if it’s a function of age or temperament,’’ she said, ‘‘but I’m no longer seeking those major exclamatory notes of pleasure. I want a life that has pleasure contained within it.’’

Wise words – ones to create a life by.

Thankful

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This weekend the rooms are full, and we will host over 1,000 people at the House for an amazing fundraiser, Deck the Rooms for Taranaki Women’s Refuge where we will have a Christmas Market, followed by over 30 friends and family for a joint American Thanksgiving in the garden.

This week has been full of preparation, gardening, putting the sails up,  creating garland and shopping and to-do lists.

I woke early this morning and went for a run.  After my turnaround point I headed down to the beach to search for a shell and had the most wonderful realization.  I get to spend my days doing exactly what makes my soul happy… and this is how I make my living.

As I sit down on Sunday amongst local friends and family, and with all of those I love who live far away in my mind, I will say a very hearty Thanks and raise a glass to the joy that this House brings me and the energy and dedication that we both contribute to create it.

Outdoor Shower

We fell in love with outdoor showers during our past few trips to Fire Island.  There is just something quite simple, but quite relaxing about being able to look up at the stars.

We are starting to hit the events season this year, and we thought having outdoor facilities would be a great addition (beats hiring a port-a-loo =)  Plus Ms. Weston doesn’t like cold water, so every day when she gets back from her walk in the park, or swim at the beach, we have to fill buckets with warm water and wash her off.  So a warm water tap outside would basically make our dog happy.

So in typical Rodney style, his can-do attitude and amazing work ethic meant that this quaint and amazing outdoor sink, toilet and shower were created in after-work hours in just one week.  He put the final finishing touches on it about 1 hour before our first event.

Well done babe!  A great addition to the House.