Well, I love living in Wairarapa, but I was born and brought up in central Hawke’s Bay so going back there is always emotional. We went to Havelock North for three nights, staying at the beautiful Black Barn, owned and developed by creative geniuses Andy Coltart and Kim Thorp. We were in luxurious Rush Cottage, typical of the architecture you see in that area by William Rush:
Andy Coltart was the first guy who ever asked me on a date. I was about 13 or 14. It was at the polo in Hastings, I was grooming for my brothers, all red-faced, gangly, hot and sweaty, and he was drop-dead gorgeous. I got such a fright when he was staring at me (I thought he was thinking, who’s that flat-chested skinny tomboy?) then came over and asked if I wanted to go to the pictures – that I asked if I could take my girlfriend too. He said yes, and so we went to the pictures. He had to ask my mother first. Good grief! My mother, who can make ‘Good Evening’ sound like a declaration of war.
I digress. The lovely thing about Rush Cottage is they haven’t gussied it up, as people with no taste would do. For instance, the bathroom sink is still the concrete laundry tub, with brass taps, and H and C etched into the wood. (Why don’t they still make concrete tubs?).
On our first night there I woke up to the sound of sobbing. It was strange. At first I didn’t identify it as sobbing; it was just a noise I couldn’t establish. I woke CCQC and asked if he could hear anything. I asked if he’d left the stereo on – no. I went back to sleep for a while but woke and could hear the same sobbing again. I went downstairs but couldn’t find anything. I’ve since found out it has something to do with William Rush, the architect, so there is history.
Anyway, I have allowed a selection of the many photos I took to describe the simple charm of this place. We had a wonderful time. Lunch at Black Barn Bistro was a delight. They’ve excavated a big area under the vines so you sit lower than the level of the trellises, and look along the rows. Above you are wooden horizontal venetian blinds supporting grapes. It’s the sort of ambience you don’t want to get up and leave, and the staff support that feeling. To hell with restaurant reviews which only rate the food (notwithstanding the delicious scallop dish we ate), Black Barn Bistro is the best restaurant in Hawke’s Bay. I’ve been twice now and it’s the only place worth visiting. Truly – for all round experience. Just bliss.