Southern Hospitality

My parents have the three older children in Auckland.

Grumpy, my mother in law and sir-smiles-alot James nipped down to the South Island to meet and greet local lines companies, EV community and council members.

Grumpy and MIL and baby James have flown home to the big smoke and I remain here till tomorrow morning.  The peace means I get a chance to blog and do some work, so it is an absolute treat to share some stories of our journeys over the past few days with you.

Willows on the banks of Lake Waihola

Willows on the banks of Lake Waihola

Clutha river

Clutha river

Rural view

Rural view

The road less travelled

The road less travelled



There is something about the South. It is simpler, softer, slower, and somehow a bit sweeter than the hustle and bustle of the big smoke up in Auckland. People are warm, welcoming, humble, and genuine. They also don’t have a lot of time for Auckland arrogance (perceived or real).  One gentleman said in all Earnest: “We aren’t in any rush to be inviting all you Auckland types to come down here to live thank you.”  A proud local, and after only a few short days here, I can see why people choose this place and these communities.

One of the stories I’ll share with you today was of a couple living in a huge and beautiful converted church. They run a gallery out of their home, and have a gallery full of beautiful hand painted glass jars and goblets. There is also a huge range of sweet and kitsch goodies. I bought my friend Ann a pig. She collects them and this particular pig caught my eye.

The husband was having his breakfast and we had a nappy emergency that we tended to in their shower room.

Once the baby was changed and Christine (the artist and wife) kindly disposed of the toxic waste for us, we had a chance to look around.

I gave them a copy of the magazine we are on the cover of, and told them a bit about our story. They reciprocated by telling me a bit about them and their large family. Christine took James to meet her birds, some parrots, a starling and my favourite was a beautiful and obviously smart magpie. I’ve always had some trouble with birds in cages, kind of an almost phobia I guess, but these gorgeous creatures were so loved and cared for, and their feathers were fluffy and they seemed very fond of their human mum.

We looked around a bit more while Christine held James with veteran arms.  You can tell she had held many toddlers before.  A beautiful woman with kind eyes and an eye for beautiful things.  You could tell her husband adored her and they had a very interesting story.  Their family, her glass painting and artistic talent, renovating the church.  They were a fascinating couple and I am so pleased we got to meet them, even though it was only briefly.

Please click here to see Mr. Flannery playing the piano for us and a also to see some of the beautiful church and gallery:

There is something about small Southern communities that breeds a kind of eccentric streak that I find absolutely enchanting.

James was bored in the back of the car and I had forgotten to pack little toys for him. We were scoping out potential sites in Balclutha for a fast charging station and we happened across a sign for “DollyWood” so we popped in briefly.

A gold coin donation and two $3.00 lucky dips for babies later, I got to meet a couple of warm and chatty locals who beam with pride for their collection of toys and dolls. This is not the kind of place you would happen across anwhere else on earth. The toys and dolls are not in glass casing. There are no velvet ropes. The couple live in the house and they dedicate a large part of it to welcoming strangers in to share their collection.

Please follow the link to see a short 40 second clip of Crystal and Ross form DollyWorld:

Sweet and unpretentious, I got a chance to chat with them and share our story as they also shared theirs with me. They were generous and warm and welcoming and it was a treat to get to meet them and see their vast collection of dolls and toys.


That’s only two of the dozens of stories of the South Island I have for you.

I do hope you will consider traveling around this beautiful country with your families. We live in an amazing and magical place and the more I get to see of it, the more blessed I feel to live here.

Thank you for reading!


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