Bed & Breakfast bolthole. Sadly it's time to leave our heavenly hideaway.
"So, what do you think you've learnt from your being here?" asks Fiona on our last evening at the organic farm. The question sounds like something a benign headmaster might ask a pupil on their last day of school. But I know exactly what she means, because three weeks of alternate, back-to-nature lifestyle on remote South Island certainly have impacted our attitude to life ― almost like an epiphany.
"That homes don't have to be spotlessly clean and tidy", replies Bea, smiling. I'm glad she says this and not me, because I'm usually the one who leaves crumbs lying around on the floor or bits of toothpaste sticking stubbornly to the sink.
So what did we learn from our stay in organic paradise?
1) Learn to love the moment!
Each morning, as sun rises over the mountain, is a gift. That's not hard to notice on holiday. It's like you have all the time in the world to cherish the wonders of nature, of course. If only we could take time to savour this gift in everyday life too! Sometimes we are so focussed on our daily chores that we easily overlook the magic of every new day.
2) Care and share in the community
It's quite normal for neighbours to "pop in" unannounced, just to check up everything's OK. That's quite helpful when the nearest neighbour is often a few kilometres down the road, and the nearest shops much further of course. Not only that but kiwis seems much more willing to share their worldly goods, such as garden produce, than we Europeans. And so it happens that one day a neighbour suddenly turns up with the most ginormous melon I've seen in my whole life. What you see on this picture is only a small wedge of the fully-fledged fruit.
3) Don't tie yourself to material wealth!
Material possessions and keeping up with the latest fads 'n' fashion isn't everything it's cracked up to be. Happiest when running around barefoot, I've never been that much into fashionable footwear anyway. Still, I'm glad these ones aren't mine.
4) Time spent "doing nothing" with each other is prime time too!
Just being able to lie around, talk and play without clock-watching all the time ― like here on the beach ― is so good. I'm so happy we had this prime time together as a family.
And so we come to our very last day in Takaka. After a final swim in the Tasman Sea (oh how I wish it would last forever!), we pay our last respects to Dangerous Kitchen. We've been such regular customers there (thanks to their heavenly coffee & cakes and free WiFi) that the girl behind the cake counter instantly recognises us by the sound of our step. She even knows the name of all Matilda's cuddly toys. They haven't got my favourite dessert today ― the outrageously sweet and gooey caramel slice ― but there's a divine-looking slab of vanilla choc cheese cake instead. Who could honestly resist that?
So yes, we're going to miss the laid-back life of Golden Bay in many more ways than one. Isn't it funny though, how wherever you go in life the grass always seems greener on the other side? As we leave the little town of Takaka we pass a hitch-hiker holding a cardboard sign. It says "Anywhere".