Our columnists are leaving their beloved homes for pastures and cities new.
Have you ever been theogled? No, don’t rush for your dictionary; theogled is a word I just made up to describe the feeling you get if you inadvertently step into the line of sight of a man peering into a theodolite. The dictionary says it is “a surveying instrument with a rotating telescope for measuring horizontal and vertical angles”. So you see you could be being ogled without knowing it, as I may have been last week when I met a man with a theodolite out on our farm track. He was surveying boundary fence lines in preparation for the sale of Double Tops.
Surveying costs a lot of money for little tangible result. Many years ago we were apprised of the fact that a paper road ran through the end bedroom of our house. We were advised to have the road moved as, theoretically, a person bearing a grudge would be entitled to drive a bulldozer through the bedroom. This seemed a fatuous notion but we took the advice and engaged the services of a surveying company, whose underlings spent long nights surveying with the aid of the moon and the stars. When the bill arrived for the survey work, it amounted to the equivalent of a kitchen makeover. Instead of this coveted
improvement, Harry presented me with a map detailing the resurveyed road. “Your bedroom is now safe,” he said. I was not amused.
You will be pleased to know that I have made provision for my old sheep dog Toby when we sell the farm. Toby would never understand why he had to leave his beloved home. He would be lost, confused and sad. So I asked our lawyer, a man of humour and compassion, to draft a special clause into the sale document. It’s listed under “Further Terms of Sale” and reads: “The sheep dog Toby, an aged blue beardie, forms part of the sale. He is to live the rest of his natural life at Double Tops.” If the buyers do not accept this further term of sale, the deal is off. Janice the cow is provided for too. She’s coming with us.
Virginia and her husband Harry are planning to develop a small farm 10km closer to town, with hens, pigs and a good paddock for Janice the cow.
Since GPS technology arrived, some residents of older suburbs have discovered that their ancient fences do not mark the exact boundary. An expansionist neighbour astonished me by telling me he was moving the fence about a foot over onto my place. As this would mean I couldn’t drive up my drive and down the side of my house, I decided to buy the land from him. It’s about two car-lengths long and 30cm wide at its widest – hardly big enough for a gated community of townhouses. But the council decided the sliver of land was a subdivision. It had to have “services” within it, they said. One day I discovered a plumber, two drainlayers, a man with a camera and another man with a clipboard, plus a surveyor and his assistant crowded onto the sliver. As the others watched, a drainlayer cut out three small squares of turf and peered into the soil. He was checking whether there was a water pipe in the “subdivision”.
I’ve lived in my Wellington cottage for 15 years. It would take more than a neighbourly stoush to make me want to sell. But then a great deal more did happen. Six months ago, my son Skyped me and there onscreen was his partner Mia, twirling around, showing me her bump. “What d’you think, Mum? Want to be part of it?”
I thought for one second and said, “Yes, I’ll be there to babysit”. They live in Auckland.
The estate agents told me my cottage would be “an emotional buy”. Someone would fall in love with the house, they said. Hmm, I thought, I’m falling in love with it all over again. It was a bad moment. I tried to be unemotional. How do you uproot yourself from a city you’ve lived in for most of your life, from all your friends and colleagues? Will I get emotional about Rangitoto the way I do about Somes Island? Can you get out of town in seven minutes in Auckland? No. Can you pick someone up at the airport and take them to a stylish cafe on a sandy surf beach three minutes’ drive away, as I can in Wellington? No.
I sold the house in five days. Just a few days ago Tane Boyd was born. I was there, with his other grandmother, to welcome him. I feel now that I have everything anyone could need. The only things I don’t have are a house and a garden.
But I’m looking. It will be an emotional buy.
Story: Janice Marriott & Virginia Pawsey