Most of Monday was spent with me acclimatising and finding out a bit more about the running of the house, checking details and learning how Judith likes things to be done. In the evening, they had invited the next door neighbours for dinner to introduce me so that I would then have someone I could call upon if anything major went wrong whilst I was housesitting.
For dinner, Judith cooked a swiss dish that required layers of cooked pasta, potato, fried onion and cubes of cheese, all of which was then covered with a thick cream sauce and baked in the oven. This was not a dish for the health conscious! It was extremely tasty though and comfort food at its best. For dessert, there was oranges and dried figs soaked in Cointreau. Judith is a very keen, knowledgeable and critical cook. Having grown up as the daughter of a Swiss patissier, who owned a restaurant and bakery, her entire childhood was centred around food and she is consequently very particular about what she eats and the quality of the ingredients.
Peter and Barb arrived around 7pm and duly admired the changes in the house, which previously had been let as a holiday house through Airbnb and therefore was not really a home. Peter was not your typical American, however. He is a potter, builder and seemingly Jack of all trades, as well as a fisherman and writer. Not surprisingly, he is also full of entertaining stories.
He travelled to N.Z. regularly for many years as he owned a home at the very end of the road at Golden Bay, which is over The Hill from Motueka at the top of the South Island and very remote. He acquired this inadvertently after running out of petrol on his motorbike outside it. Noticing it was for sale, he knocked on the door for help and over a couple of bottles of wine with the dear little old lady owner, who also happened to be a potter, negotiated a price. With no means of paying for it, he then somehow persuaded the bank manager in Takaka to lend him the money! This happened over 20 years ago and he has been going back as often as possible ever since. When he was not there, the place was unlocked and the neighbours kept an eye on it for him. He later found out that the nice little old lady he bought the place from was actually a heroin dealer!
He also got married there and, not knowing anyone in the area apart from his best man, put up a notice in Collingwood, inviting the community to the wedding. Apparently, 250 people turned up and he knew none of them. The wedding lasted three days and is still being talked about. He consequently has a lot of friends in Golden Bay! He is certainly very much more of a good Kiwi bloke than a typical American. Barb, his partner, is a nurse and I am sure I will see them both again before too long.
It was a very late night for all of us after a very enjoyable evening and my very snug and comfortable bed was, as usual, very welcome.