Taking on Nancy’s historic house
Reporter Carly Thomas details her chaotic journey since buying an old country house in rural Manawatu.
Most people would have checked the piles, many would have scratched their chin while looking at the ancient roof and the majority would have at least bargained the price down.
But me? Well I gushed over the heritage dahlias and scared the bejesus out of the real estate agent with my almost onthe-spot offer.
We bought a very old house, a very old and very big house in Kiwitea, north of Feilding. You could set sail on the many trade winds that blow through the gaps in the humungous sash windows and the walls tell a history that stopped at scrim.
But it is beautiful. You could frame any vista and call it a painting. It has a tennis court, so that makes me a lady, and the kids can get lost and found in their own back yard.
Built in 1884, it is known in the area as Nancy’s house, because, well it is. Her family owned Rahere for 68 years and at 90 years old it got too much for her. Heck, at 40 years old it’s too much for me.
I still think of it as Nancy’s house. I haven’t met her yet, but I am getting to know her through her vast garden.
I know she’s not shy. Her asters are a riot. The colours clash and shout and I know she has an artist’s eye. The garden holds a confidence of composition that respects the fall of light, shape and shadow.
And I’m pretty sure she liked a gin and tonic or two – there are citrus trees galore.
I’ve worn through three sets of gloves having a conversation with this unknown woman. It’s the index finger that always goes first. She knew this house and the dirt it stands on like the back of her hardworking hands and I picture her while I accidentally unearth a mass of bulbs.
I tuck them back into their beds and, apologising to Nancy in my head.
The giant backyard is perfect for losing children in.
The large windows are glorious, but not airtight.