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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Rawson


Recently, one gloomy and wet day, I went on a house tour fund-raising event. I‘d been looking forward to it as the first house on the tour is one that I have coveted, from a distance as all you can see from the main road is the beautiful driveway, framed by tall and elegant cypress trees. The well-made stone wall that meanders with the road for about a kilometre at the property border was a giveaway that something beautiful was hiding behind it.

Listening to our tour guide standing on the front step, introducing our equally elegant host, I was itching to get inside. Everything outside oozed Italian charm and style and my imagination was running wild as to what we might see. Of course, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside but I managed to snap a couple on the terrace.

Crossing the rich, umber flagstone floor into the foyer, I was enveloped by the authentic Tuscan villa and our view through the open shutter doors and dining room, was long and wide taking in the rear lawn and the magnificent distant views. They even had their own little chapel on the property as well as a Manager’s cottage. It was a beautiful home and property and hard to believe it had only been built in 2005.

Our generous host had prepared coffee for everyone and standing on the terrace with cup in hand, I felt such a longing that had lain dormant for the past 18 months, to return to the heat and beauty and cicada song of Europe. It shook me really, just how much I missed it and the ability to be there so quickly and easily from London.

Everything in the villa was imported from Italy and re-created to replicate a home our hosts had loved and stayed in, during their month long sojourns. I loved it all and the tour for me, could have stopped right there.

Sadly, we had to move on. The other three houses were interesting in their history and design but my heart had been captivated already.

That visit made me determined that we would return to France, Italy and Europe - as soon as it was viable. However, with what is unfolding in the Ukraine, our flights will not be booked until last minute. It’s an utter travesty and heartbreaking to witness. None of us thought we’d be watching something like this unfold.


On a brighter note, we received a Christmas gift voucher from our Adelaide family for lunch at the stunning ‘The Farm’ restaurant at Cape Kidnappers - a luxury retreat here in Hawke’s Bay. What a lunch. The food and wine were superb and enjoyed immensely in such a stunning setting. You feel like royalty, being effusively greeted on the drive, one of the team escorting you into the venue while the other parks your car.

The interior is beautiful and the views outstanding over the lawn, the landscape and out to sea. It was an amazing treat and both of us loved it, stating we’d far rather spend the money on doing something like this once in a while rather than have dinner out more regularly and being disappointed by the food. The Farm team is outstanding and there was nothing to fault. Not that we were looking; we were too busy loving it all.

Steve outside; an inner courtyard and one of the dining areas.

Beautiful landscape, food and wine.

Inside the dining area. Cheers!

We’ve loved having friends and family come to stay over the summer but for the last four weeks we’ve been knee-deep in renovations and have had a fabulous team of electricians, builders, gasmen and painters coming and going, creating a false wall in our living room, putting in a gas fire and fabulous book cases either side.

I’m not supposed to fill it with books until next Thursday - so that the paint cures … I can’t wait that long! The carpet layer is due tomorrow evening to cut, stretch and tack down and the TV goes in Monday.

Our builder suggested battening the double-height roof and it looks as though it has been there forever but has given the house some character.

Shutters have been installed in the bedrooms and my blinds, squabs and drapes for the kitchen and living room went in yesterday and I love them. They won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as I love colour and deliberately steered away from the neutrals and monotones, which seem to be in vogue. Poor Steve didn’t even get a look-in but is very happy with the outcome. Happy wife; happy life ….

Our room decor - for now ….

One guest room. Love this duvet which came from Luxotic in Australia. Not everyone’s taste of course!

Second guest room - a lot more muted!

Sitting room with new drapes.

The blind in the kitchen.

There’s lots more to be done but you have to remember I live with ‘the handbrake’. I stupidly showed him what we’d spent to date and he’s put the veto on my ‘perfectly functioning kitchen’ in favour of getting the bathrooms done over the winter. Hmm. I’ll need to work on him … instill ideas that he thinks are his own!

In the meantime, we’ve booked to go and see ‘a little bit of trouble’ in Adelaide and I can’t wait to be there! It’s been too long and he‘s grown so much - walking when he feels like it and is so helpful emptying any drawer he can reach. Did I mention he’s adorable????

Caught in the act!

Stay safe; stay well.


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