My Neck of the Woods: Chapter 15

422 Stanley Road, Stratford, Taranaki, New Zealand

November 2017 –

We had been looking for a home for some time. We had a list of necessary attributes a rental house must have. For example, allowing tenants to have a dog automatically cut out 95% of the houses. It must have space for a garden. It must have access to the internet. It wasn’t an impossible list, but it was impossible to find!

A house for rent came online. It was near a town called Waitara. It seemed to fit the bill. We expressed interest and drove the four hours to see it. Contrary to what the photographs conveyed, you had to turn sideways to squeeze past the dining table to reach the front door. And then the crunch came: of course the owners will be storing their furniture in the garage. Uh-oh! That was a warning sign. This would be a fleeting and temporary abode. We began the long journey home.

As we passed Mount Taranaki near a town called Stratford, Eric commented that in all the searching over the years for a place he had never once seen a house come up for rent from Stratford. Travel-weary, we decided to stay in Stratford for the night. The motel had a complimentary “Village Newspaper”. In it was an advertisement for a house to rent. We drove for a look. It was perfect. The next day we went to the rental agency. The woman who had responsibility for the house was away. We filled out an application form and left.

Not long after arriving home the phone rang. It was Maureen from the rental agency. The house we applied for had already been rented out, but she had another if we cared to come for a look. We arranged a meeting time and once again began the long journey in our old ute.

Maureen wasn’t there at the house. We hadn’t come all this way not to look so we went around the house ourselves. I remember commenting, “If they knew we were coming for a look you’d think they could have made the beds.” We went back to the ute and phoned Maureen. “Where are you?” she asked. “We’re here,” we said. Except – we were at someone else’s house on the wrong road!

Quickly we made it to the correct house and loved it. It filled all our conditions, except it didn’t come with any land for a cow. It had room for a garden. It was a fairly new house on a beef and cattle farm. It had a double garage, three bedrooms, and a spacious open sitting-room-kitchen-dining-room. It had a log burner. We said we’d take it, and would move in after the current tenants moved out in a month’s time.

So that is where we are today – four years later and the longest we have lived anywhere! Much has happened over that time. COVID19 struck and the business collapsed that Eric had spent years building up. Clients went from 112 down to 2, and those 2 didn’t pay. We were not an essential service. Friends helped – even blogging friends helped out. Yvonne from Australia for example sent a gigantic box of wine! What a wonderful thing to have done! We have survived! Linda and Barry, our wonderful landlord-farmers, said if things get tough forget the rent for a time and we’ll sort things out down the line. So far we have managed to pay each week if sometimes a little late!

I have never in my life had anything published and then out of the blue, resulting from the blog, two publishing companies – one in Britain and one in the States – asked for poems to go into anthologies. I am a published poet! Not many from New Zealand seem interested. In fact, as far as I know, the only person from New Zealand who follows my blog is Sylvie from Nelson – and Sylvie is French!

About two years ago our wonderful Springer Spaniel, Bubble, developed epilepsy. How terrifying to see such a lovely dog throw an uncontrollable fit. He went on medication which controlled the epilepsy. Then one Friday night he had a seizure. And another. And another. We phoned for an animal vet. Didn’t we know it was the weekend? Animals don’t take ill on Saturdays and Sundays. No vet was available. The next ten hours were the longest ten hours of my life as Bubble had over forty seizures. And then he died. We buried him in his favourite garden spot where he liked to sit and watch the farm animals pass by.

The farm is huge as is the neighbouring farm. During lockdowns we can wander maskless over hundreds of acres. There’s always something new and something different to see and do. There’s firewood to chop and gardens to weed and lawns to mow. There are preserves and jams and breads to make and new recipes to try. There are walks to take and TV and internet to watch. There’s a piano to play and books to read and blogs to maintain. There are poems and stories and music to write. There’s work to do – although sparser than we would hope.

What an adventure it has been! It is a ridiculous thing to ask “Who knows what the future holds?” But there has been a Providence directing these adventures in the past twenty years, and I have no reason to doubt that Providence has further adventures up its sleeve.

Out my window as I write

37 thoughts on “My Neck of the Woods: Chapter 15

  1. noelleg44

    At last, you guys had some luck, but what persistence and stick-to-it-ness to find a place to live.
    It’s a beautiful spot! I am so sorry to hear about Bubbles. What a handsome dog and a sad end!
    That’s the problem with having pets – we outlive them. And losing them is losing a bit of your heart!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. badfinger20 (Max)

    I remember Bubble passing and I knew it was coming but it didn’t make it any easier to read.

    What a great adventure you two have had… beautiful place Bruce! Great series!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. btrb

    Your home is lovely and the views are amazing! I’m sorry about your business and losing your dog. I hope things get better for you. Congratulations on getting your poetry published! 🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  4. araneus1

    I must say that I enjoyed this series very, very much. There is something special about being invited into someone’s journey. It was very kind of you to include us. I’m especially proud of you for being published. It is strange, that we are often not appreciated in our own country (I’m sure there is a famous quote about that). Most of my loyal readers are from countries far and wide. It seems that you have found a good place to hunker down and I hope it serves you well for many years to come. I’m surprised that the online business dried up — too good to be true, I guess. Such a unique talent should be rewarded. Hang in there (I know you will).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks so much, Terry. And I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed writing it. The only trouble with your wishing us to stay many years here is that I won’t be able to write any more chapters if I don’t move!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. umashankar

    I hope you don’t have to scramble for another house ever. It has been a wonderful journey and we have waited for the next instalment eagerly each time. The story had made us happy and sad in turns, and angry too, over the felonies of the unscrupulous landlords and neighbours, not to forget people like the nurse in Canada. However, the expansive range of characters we came to know down the adventurous trek has made the experience that much richer. I truly hope that you will feed and nourish the narrative further into a book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks Uma – and thanks for reading and commenting. New chapters could only be made possible (possibly) by moving again! I’m a bit of a nomad – but perhaps I’m getting too long in the tooth to move too often.


  6. John Looker

    Good evening and good morning Bruce from up here in Britain. I’m rather sorry to find I’ve come to the end of these instalments, and sad to learn about the business and Bubbles. On the other hand, very relieved that your last move worked out so well. You’ll have to write some more poetry now! The world is ready and waiting. Or further short stories. Or tips on gardening and keeping goats maybe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      John – thank you so much to you and Frances for being so supportive and encouraging in this series of houses. I really enjoyed writing them. I do want to get on with writing proper poetry… I think I might be inspired by “Shimmering Horizons” – the methodology in it – of taking a wider “theme” as a unifying element.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sylvie Ge

    This is a sad one. Sorry to hear about your pandemic problems and your dog. It doesn’t excuse vets not being available on weekends, but apparently they experience a high level of suicide. It’s a tough job. By the way, you are the only New Zealander to follow my blog too.

    Liked by 1 person


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