A couple weeks ago, Sam and I were looking for hosts in Wellington rather unsuccessfully when an email appeared in my inbox inviting us to stay in Otaki, an hour north of Wellington. We decided to go, and we're so happy we did because we met a very nice, hospitable family! The Matlas have a small olive orchard, an appliance repair business, free range chickens and two very friendly dogs. We were pleasantly surprised to find our cottage behind the house has its own kitchen and bathroom. The family was so easy to get along with and we had a great time.
One of our HelpX projects was building and painting a new egg sign to sit on the road outside the house. Sam constructed it with a shelf to hold eggs and a money jar, while I handled the lettering. The sign itself is coated with blackboard paint, with space below for Sonja to add olive oil & other produce when she has it.
Sonja took me to a local heirloom rose garden full of amazing flowers. My favorite roses were the ones with the petals packed to bursting. I've never thought much about having roses in my future garden, but after seeing how Sonja has incorporated them into her garden I have changed my mind.
Some of the work hardly felt like work at all! I got to help Sonja pick elderflowers from a shrub down the road and make elderflower cordial. She sent us away with a bottle (as well as muffins and olive oil-too kind!), but I haven't tried it yet because it needs to sit for a week or two. I also got to bake two desserts for Tim's birthday, including sticky date pudding. I'm not a fan of dates, but sticky date pudding is delicious. Somehow I left without the recipe, but once I get it, I'll share it.
Aside from the dogs and chickens, the Matlas have a family of white doves whose hotel is outside the cottage. Sam built a dividing wall inside to separate the apartments and end some family feuds, as well as a set of steps for Sonja to reach the back door.
On our way south, we drove Jolene out on the beach (cars were allowed!) to see Kapiti Island. It was a chilly, windy day, with choppy water and only a few scattered birds enjoying the beach. Sam started doing donuts but I made him stop. Boys.