Ed’s letter: Bare necessities in the bach, or creature comforts?
No kitchen appliances. No carpet. No TV. No dishwasher or tablecloths or electric blankets. The vision for the little bach we built on Lake Taupō was ruthlessly pared back. We’ll have just the necessities, my husband Nick and I said to one another, envisaging motel-like cupboards with just one set of plates and a few pots. It should feel like camping, we said.
And it did, for a year or so.
The rot set in after a string of wet holidays. There are only so many drippy bush walks you can do with kids, and so we got a second-hand TV, a DVD player and a box set of Star Wars. Then another box set of Downton Abbey for me. And Country Calendar for Nick. Binge watching became part of the holiday tradition, and it seemed a pity not to rehouse my folks’ old La-Z-Boys to the bach so we could really get comfortable.
At the same time the bach cupboards were filling with uncamp-like luxuries. The food processor, breadmaker and large tin of smoked paprika were needit-now purchases for passing culinary enthusiasms. The pizza stone, scented candles and assorted serving platters were gifts from guests.
Like Nick and I, over two decades, the bach gradually lost its tautness and softened round the edges. It got comfortable with age. And after working on this January issue – in which variations of my bach story are repeated across several Kiwi homes – it seems to me that the slow addition of domestic comforts to our lives is just about as natural and inevitable as ageing.
Take Chic and Wayne Fifield’s home in Whangaumu, near Whangarei (page 58). For the first 13 years it was little more than a camping ground. These days there’s a beautiful home with squishy couches and a timber-and-copper aesthetic. They’re still cooking on the barbecue, but plans are afoot for a roof over the outdoor kitchen: “So we can cook more comfortably in the rain.”
It’s a similar story north of Kaikōura, where Mark Browne spent years on his lovely slice on land living in a caravan. Then a tepee. Then a yurt. Then an architect-designed bach with an excellent sound system (page 16)
There is, of course, a school of thought that says we should fight this natural accumulation of creature comforts. My kids – who are fans of tiny houses and small apartments – urge me to do a massive declutter and return the bach to its puritanical beginnings. “It’ll feel great,” they say.
I see their point. I still feel the allure of motel-like cupboards, and one day I might take myself to Taupō for a Marie Kondo session... but not this year.
Right now, holidays are looming, and I’m looking forward to a catch-up binge of Game of Thrones. Can’t wait.