the house was sold and now was sold three times I think, even while Mother was still alive. And the last inhabitants sold it a few years ago to an Australian woman who moved it in ﬁve pieces – it was just a bungalow, but it was a big house – and went out on Highway 50, and it was dumped down and nothing happened to it for ages, but I think it looks as if somebody might be caring about it now. It had lovely outhouses – we had a washhouse which was separate, and then we had a strip, down the back path, of toolshed, an apple shed, a glass? shed, there might have been two or three little sheds – storerooms, that were all part of it, and then the garage that went in behind. And somebody had lived in the garage, called Gypsy Meg, that Geoff, I suppose, had made up and I wouldn’t ever go into the garage at night. Go and get something – go on Jane – No, I won’t – Gypsy Meg will be there. All those outhouses went – I think the washhouse is intact but I think… Oh, yes, the children know where it is – just beside the road really and two or three old houses were moved into that area… Just before you get to Taite? Road, just below the level of Highway 50, but you can see it and it still looks quite the same, but they spoilt it. It used to have a nice verandah that went round two sides of it, one of them looked out to sea, but they’ve ﬁlled in one end with glass and – well it’s a long story what they did inside the house – while it was still on the hill. But the nice story about Geoff – we had a dear old gardener, just known as G? – Mr. G., I suppose, and Geoff and he must have had a brush-up about something, cause Geoff used to go and potter around in the garden – this is before I can remember them. In due course Geoff went in to have his tonsils out and G came up to Dad and said “Mr Wood, I can’t ﬁnd my spade or rake or the hoe” and Dad said “Well I haven’t used them G. Well, perhaps Geoff knows where they are”, said G. So that night Dad went in to see Geoff in hospital, who could not speak because of the tonsils, so he said “G can’t ﬁnd his tools, Geoff, do you know where they are”. Oh, no, he didn’t know where they were, so Dad went again the following night to see his little son – Dad [in a hoarse whisper], I dreamed a dream last night – I think I saw G’s tools underneath the macrocarpa tree!
Mother’s cousin, the one who has just been staying with us, is an architect and she designed a very nice house [when we subdivided the section]. It wasn’t too small and it still left a bit of land round the old house
– yes enough for it still to be comfortable because they had quite a big back yard and this lovely sea View. This was before Dad died, before we were married in fact – 1953? 1952? and Mother lived there until she died. She spent the last two months with us at Patoka. Both our mothers died at Patoka, which was nice for them – your [Tom’s] mother ﬁrmly in her own house.
T – Yes, mother died in her own bed at home at Patoka and she was 84 – 83 – and had been driving herself up and down the road until within a few months. What a way to go.
– She’d driven to town the week before she died. She was going to the dentist and she said It felt a bit funny going upstairs – you had to go upstairs to the dentist – so I sat down on them for a while and then I was alright and I went on up.
T – Wonderful way to go.
– And my mother drove – she never had her own car again after the earthquake. Well, of course she did in the end, but they were never a two-car family again.
T – Things were pretty tough around the earthquake time, the middle of the Slump, and a professional people, a lot of them didn’t get their bills paid.
– Dad used to be paid very often in stock – a couple of quail or a pheasant, eggs – but country people were always very generous. They always gave them something at Christmas time anyway in the way of food. Not that we were hungry for food, but that was a present. Instead of giving money they would give produce.
H – I lived with a lawyer’s family in Italy in 1961 and he was often paid in kind – a rabbit, a live rabbit, a live chook. They always came live. Well, what did they die of? if they brought them dead, you see!
– New Zealand children of my age, our age, I think there were very few of them that didn’t get onto a farm for holidays.
T – There was always an aunty or someone around on a farm. And I think it was a great bond between the town and the country.
– Yes, I remember farms from my young days – not just the ones at Te Awanga where we’d go visiting, we used to go up to Wairoa quite often to friends, the Glendinnings. And darling Aunty Mabel Glendinning used to cure her own bacon, and it was absolutely terrible! Rancid, salt, awful – and Mother was always given her breakfast in bed and she used to wrap up the bacon in a bit of paper and hide it and get rid of it during the day somewhere! But apart from that it was – I can remember getting stuck in the cow bail in my