Old charm captivates
Jane and Bill Teasdale live in a cute cottage close to town in Nelson. visited them at home.
JANE Teasdale met her husband Bill in Spain when she intervened in what looked to her like an innocent American being scammed by a naughty local.
Bill was getting his shoes ‘‘cleaned’’ in the old shoe-shine scam where the scammer paints one shoe and then charges extra to get them back to the same colour. Jane had a word with the miscreant, and says she’s been looking after Bill ever since.
Bill, a quiet American, originally from Connecticut, gently smiles and continues to read the paper. Theirs has been nearly half a century of marriage, and today they live in a petite old cottage in Nelson, far-removed from the cars, plane and large home of the US.
The cottage dates back to the 1860s, built by a soldier for his family of nine when he was dispatched to fight in the Taranaki wars and ever since it’s had owners who have stayed long and loved the cottage.
‘‘The cottage was saved by Sarah Smale,’’ Jane says about Ms Smale, a nurse who can’t stop herself looking after old homes.
‘‘She saved it from demolition, how good is that. We love it, it’s fantastic, tiny, two bedrooms, one double and one single so that means we have one guest at a time and that’s enough.’’
It seems the history is as colourful as the cottage itself, soft pastel pink, with crisp white picket fencing and an abundance of flowers that hide much of the cottage from street view.
In 1929, at the time of the Murchison earthquake, Nessie Scholfield, a former owner of the cottage, moved in with her mother and made it her home for the next 60 years, only leaving to move into care.
‘‘When I bought it, it had a dirt floor in the bathroom and piping along the top of the ground,’’ says Sarah. ‘‘Nessie had stuffed plastic bags in the holes of the walls and there were masses of holes.
‘‘I think when Nessie moved out seven bales of plastic bags and newspaper were removed.’’
It took Sarah a year to carefully restore the cottage to a standard approved by the Historic Places Trust, a labour of love with many a fraught moment and much brow rubbing when it seemed near impossible to find a solution to a dilemma. But the result is charming.
When Jane and Bill first saw the cottage, they were mesmerised.
‘‘We were driving down the road when I noticed this charming pink cottage, ‘‘ Jane says.
‘‘I thought ‘oh that’s lovely’, and then I noticed a real estate sign. I said ‘Bill, back up’.’’
The couple wanted to buy on the first visit, but the cottage was going to auction and immediate purchase wasn’t possible. Another couple bought at auction and the Teasdales moved on.
‘‘But I never really did forget about the cottage, so when I got an email from our son in Washington DC to say it was back on the market and on the internet I said ‘Bill, we’re getting in the car right now and going to Nelson’.’’
They bought, sold their own Diamond Harbour home in Banks Peninsula within a day, and moved to Nelson.
‘‘Well, Bill likes walking, he walks to town, I don’t know what he does down there, sits on a park bench, has a coffee, reads the paper maybe, while I help friends out.’’
Jane has some favourite domestic chores.
‘‘I’m one of those sorts who loves ironing, I love ironed pillow cases or a pressed shirt – I know it sounds a bit silly but that’s what I am.
‘‘And gardening, especially roses, wherever there’s a space in the garden I’ll plant a rose.’’
The couple raised their three kids in the United States around Bill’s hometown where he worked as a podiatrist with client cases ranging from simple maintenance to major surgery.
CONTINUES NEXT PAGE
Rambling roses: The 1860s cottage, tucked in behind a mass of roses and traditional picket fence.
Back in time: The lounge with original feature place and mirror above.
Glorious hue: Potted colour and ceramic treasures.