We have been away up in Takapau in the Hawkes Bay celebrating our Caravan Club’s 600th Rally. Robin and I were Rally Captains for this rally, so were in charge of organising the activities. And of course we had to order a 600th Rally Cake to share with all the members.
Our first outing of the weekend was at the grand old Oruawharo Homestead on Friday morning when for High Tea. This was served in the beautiful Vincent’s Church, moved from Takapau township in 2012. Used as a wedding venue, birthdays, anniversaries and High Teas, this church has been lovingly restored and the warm timber interior is a sight to behold. We were regaled with stories of the history of the property, and the trials and tribulations of dealing with council officers while endeavouring to restore the historic buildings. High Tea arrived and we enjoyed dainty savouries, sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, as well as sweet treats. There was a wide selection of teas to choose from, and coffee was also provided. According to Samuel Johnson, “Tea’s proper use is to amuse the idle, relax the studious and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise and will not use abstinence”.
High Tea at Vincent’s Church
After partaking this lovely spread, we were invited to walk through the lovely old homestead. Oruawharo was completed in 1879 for Sydney Johnston and his bride Sophia. Constructed of kauri, totara and matai, the homestead, stables, coach house and gardens are a Heritage New Zealand category 1 classification. In it’s heyday Oruawharo was the scene of lavish house parties, with tennis, croquet, picnics, horse racing and hunts to entertain the guests.
Over the years the fortunes waxed and waned, and home was eventually shut up and suffered damage. It was purchased by current owners Peter and Dianne Harris in 2000, just days before this lovely old although sadly neglected homestead was to be demolished. The homestead remains a residence but with commercial activities to help fund the maintenance and ongoing restoration. All the furniture had been removed, so every period piece had to be purchased and replaced.
We were permitted free range of the homestead, climbed up and down the three sets of stairs, and wandered in and out of the many bedrooms. How about this room with the fancy bath? Could well be the honeymoon suite, perhaps. All the beds had quilts, so I enjoyed myself checking them all out.
Lovely quilts on the beds
The following day we had fun of a different kind, when we took our group to visit Lex and Angela’s Private Museum. Lex gave us a talk in the Museum telling us about the hunting trophies on display. This was followed with morning tea and we all enjoyed Angela’s yummy cheese scones.
At the museum
Also in the museum were several old Singer sewing machines. Like most young girls, I started sewing on our Singer treadle machine.
Angela and I got talking quilts, and I was invited inside her home to see her latest creation, such a nice thing to do.
Angela’s new quilt
The highlight of the morning was the display of Lex’s war machines, all built by him. Trebuchets – also known as siege engines, made to fling large rocks at castle walls to break them down, and flaming projectiles were also fired up and over the walls. Such interesting machines of long ago. Gunpowder was lit, fiery arrows were hurled aloft – it was certainly an exciting exhibition of early warfare.
Earmuffs supplied for when things went “boom”
All the fees for museum visits collected by Lex and Angela are donated to the Fred Hollows Foundation to provide cataract surgery for patients facing blindness in the Pacific Islands. Such a good cause.