I feel as if I’ve had a month’s holiday! On Friday I drove up from my little rural paradise to the big smoke of Auckland. I had a very enjoyable lunch with my publisher, promotions and sales managers (HarperCollins) and a delightful gentleman from PaperPlus. *Caution: this blog will have a lot of food in it* We dined at Prego in Ponsonby and I had delicious Saltimbocca chicken and a glass of Pol Roger Rose. In addition, I found a copy of ‘The Keeper of Secrets’ in a classy second-hand bookshop on Ponsonby Road and had to buy it and I bought some handmade dog treats for my favourite canine, Broddie.
At 5pm I caught a very busy ferry to Waiheke Island and was met by my delightful host for the weekend Claire Lawford. We went to the Gala launch of the Festival, lots of nibbles and wine and a discussion with Roger Horrocks on his book about the late Len Lye.
Claire cooked me dinner that night, fresh fish, baby potatoes and asparagus and a bottle of Rose from Obsidian Winery. We discovered lots of things in common and it was a lovely evening.
To work the next day! After a breakfast of almond croissant and hot chocolate, I went to a couple of other writer’s sessions and had a wander down the main street of Oneroa. The sun sparkled on the sea and everyone looked so happy! Lunch at ‘Wai’ restaurant was a sumptuous plate of scrambled egg, avocado, hot smoked salmon on sourdough toast and a maple, cinnamon and banana smoothie. Yum!
My session was 2.15pm and it was fun. Lots of people and they asked really interesting questions. My second book was partially set on Waiheke Island and this fascinated them. I did a short reading from the beginning of ‘Rachel’s Legacy’ and signed some books. Loved the open air poetry readings going on in the quadrant and it was an opportunity to sit in the sun and soak up the atmosphere.
Saturday night Claire took me to a dinner party. I’d forgotten about these, I used to host them many moons ago but I haven’t been to one for ages. It was at a truly stunning house, a good friend of hers who was hosting the wonderful Stephanie Johnson and her husband. I won’t go on about sitting out in the evening air and eating prawns cooked on the BBQ and broad bean puree dip, while we sipped Sangria and set the world to rights. Or how we came inside to chicken cooked with mandarins followed by homemade ice-cream and talked till after midnight.
Sunday morning Stephanie, Anna Smaile and I read from our books to a very appreciative audience. I chose a part of “Blood, Wine and Chocolate” where Vinnie and Norman Lane clash at the Waiheke winery, guns are fired and someone drowns in a vat of wine. More signing and then off to the ferry across the sea to home.
It is an idyllic place and it mesmerises you. It makes you believe that one day you would like a little writer’s retreat beside a beach, on an island, where the food is pure and the wine flows. Once you wrestle yourself away and drive back to your rural paradise with trees, cows, a very affectionate cat and lots of rain…you realise that this is home. This is where you belong. With weetbix or toast instead of almond croissant or cinnamon brioche scroll and diet lemonade instead of banana smoothie. But it was a wonderful break and it does one no harm to be enchanted by Waiheke Island every now and again.