Leanne Day hasn’t been to the south of France but she has a 10-year-old folder of pictures gathered lovingly and now recreated in her stunning family home just out of Clevedon village. The property will be one of 13 open for a public tour to raise funds for Clevedon Primary School.
After living in the original house on the two-and-a-half acre property for 12 years, the Days moved into their four-bedroom Provencal style house in 2008.
“I took my book everywhere when we were planning the house,” Leanne says.
“The doors were specially made. I showed all the tradespeople the pictures of the beams, the fire places, the wrought iron curtain railings” — which they faithfully recreated.
Exterior and interior walls are built of solid concrete for coolness in the summer, while they insulate for warmth in the winter. Underfloor heating keeps the concrete floors cosy.
Sitting on a north-facing slope, the house looks out over paddocks of hay bales and in the distance, the masts of boats moored on the Wairoa River. It is designed for a rural indoor-outdoor lifestyle winter and summer.
A long timber table begging to be laden with fresh, colourful food and wine is a feature of the outdoor area, which is protected from the prevailing westerly winds and boasts a built-in fireplace for cooler days.
If it rains, the louvres in the ceiling close and if the wind blows from the north, the family moves to the courtyard on the other side of the house.
And, with its own warm microclimate, a carefully thought-out potager vegetable garden with fruit trees is on hand to provide the essence of the south of France, Kiwi style.
Clevedon School is 152 years old and the fourth oldest in New Zealand. Some of the houses in the area go back to the late 1800s.
With the area’s history and character in mind, the public tour is called “Beyond the Garden Gate”.
The event is sponsored by a company synonymous with foods of the Mediterranean, Delmaine Fine Foods. Its sales and marketing director Nicky Morton is also a Clevedon School parent.
“It [the tour] captures the Clevedon lifestyle — the family and rural lifestyles,” says the event’s organiser Rae Poole.
A veritable pot pourii of properties are on offer. And, being one of Auckland’s foremost equine areas, a trip to an equestrian centre and polo pony park, where children will be able to pat the ponies and go for rides, will be a feature.
And when afternoon tea time arrives, a tea and scones stopover will be on hand at the historic McNicol Homestead.
Founder of the popular Clevedon Village Farmers Market, Helen Dorrenstyne, is opening her home for people to experience “the good life”— herbs, vegetables, wood-fired pizza ovens fired up with the opportunity to sample the cheeses produced by the buffalo that roam the adjoining paddocks.
If romance is in the air, it can be found at another property offering a nature walk alongside a stream running under a romantic bridge, recreated from a famous Monet painting.
The tour showcases family rural homes, Rae says, “some with play houses, sand pits and swimming pools.
“Another garden is only three years old. It is a large formal garden in its infancy, so it is a chance to see what you can do in three years. It will inspire people.”
For the grassroots rural experience, a woolshed which has been cunningly converted to living accommodation will be on show.
But the icing on the cake is the fact that part of the building is still used as a working woolshed.
“You open the door and you get the wow factor,” Rae says.
“It has a wild west theme which is an inspiration, including a saloon bar in the kitchen.”
In keeping with the original layout of the woolshed, the portholes where the sheep were fed through after shearing remain and the pens behind the shearing board (platform where the sheep are shorn) have been converted into a bedroom.
But underneath the woolshed the original pens continue to be used for shearing and here people will have the opportunity to pick up the wool and feel the lanolin between their fingers.
• The Beyond the Garden Gate Clevedon garden tour will be held from 10am-3pm on Saturday. Tickets cost $30 and can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clevedongardentour.co.nz.