Tak­ing on Nancy’s his­toric house

Re­porter Carly Thomas de­tails her chaotic jour­ney since buy­ing an old coun­try house in ru­ral Manawatu.

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Your Health -

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.

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