Here I am! Did you think I would never post again? I shan’t let SIXTEEN days go by without a single post again. It is unacceptable, and I just spanked myself for not being more disciplined. I do have reasons (okay, excuses) for my radio silence, but we’ll get into that another day. For now, more about Gisborne (for my American/Canadian friends, they pronounce it Geez-bun, with a hard g). However, we have adopted the name Kiwis call it: Gizzy.

I do not come straight outta Gizzy, but I think I could have been Gisborne and raised. I did not, however, feel that sentiment in the slightest upon arriving. When we rolled into town from the big city lights and late nights spent in the buzzy parts of Auckland, it was growing close to 8:30 PM on a Tuesday evening. It had been a beautiful, but loooong day of travel, and we had just been spit out of an enormous gorge where we lost cell service for hours. ‘Right,’ I thought to myself. ‘No problemo, I’ll have internet again as soon as we arrive in town, and we’ll just pull over and look up a few places. We’ll be cheersing to a lovely day of sightseeing in no time.’ As we tootled on down the main street of town, though, it became very clear to us that there was no time for restaurant research. It felt like an absolute ghost town. This sent me spiraling into a completely irrational state of panic, a tizzy, if you will, because we might have to do this THING, this thing I am terrible at doing: wing it. That’s right, adjust my plans, be spontaneous, go with the flow, be flexible. These concepts do not come “natural” to me. I mean, God forbid, I may end up having ONE sub-par meal. First world problems man, I’m tellin’ you what. We really didn’t have a choice, though, as only one place seemed to be open, so I had to get over myself or go to bed hangry. I chose the former, and it was fine. It didn’t live up to Mollymac’s standard of, “I will only eat homemade, hearty-but-decently-healthy, fairly priced food, served up by a friendly, knowledgeable waiter, in a timely fashion, in a convivial atmosphere with lovely lighting and fabulous tunes playing at the correct volume in the background (too soft or too loud, and everyone may hear me telling Clay the fascinating news of how I forgot to pluck my eyebrows earlier in the day). Oh, and the place better be clean. Whoever thought I wasn’t high maintenance (and didn’t know the extent of my OCD), well, secret’s out! So yeah, I went to bed with my panties in a wad thinking to myself, “Well. This town is plum sleepy and lame. And, and, and, there isn’t one good restaurant, coffee shop, or bar that stays open past 9 PM! Just kill me now!” Absurd, I am aware. I ask God for perspective all the dad-gum time.

However, I must admit, Gisborne has quite grown on me. I didn’t wake up the next morning and command myself to just, “Be positive Molly! Give it a chance.” The place simply just crept its way into my soul, where a great affinity for it now lies. It’s true, one cannot find a coffee shop open past 5:30 PM (most are 8 AM-3 PM), all the shops are pretty much closed on Saturday and Sunday, and you better get your arse to dinner before 8 PM if you plan to eat, but I have come to appreciate the time capsule that is Gisborne. People live a slower pace of life…a pace that understands a work-life balance and savors the good, real stuff of life. It’s very common to see families eating their fish and chips on the beach, enjoying an evening stroll on the boardwalk, going for a sunset swim, fishing off the sea wall, or (my favorite thing to sit and watch) jumping off the train track bridge into the river.

I see this understanding of knowing when to work and when to rest in Zoe and Sue. They work their fannies off, but they know when to stop and have a cuppa tea, or take a day of rest, and then get back out in the fields. This has been really good for me to witness, because my mind and body stay in this state:

It’s not a state I wish to remain in forever though, so we consciously made the decision to adopt (or at least try to adopt) the Gizzy way of life. Below are our attempts at savoring every afternoon and evening, post flower picking. Enjoy, and then go start living, if you’re not already, like those lovely “Gisborne and raised” folks.

Stopping by Bridge Estate Winery on the way home from the flower farm. Some wineries feel too corporate, too much of a production, too snooty for my little knowledge of wine. Not this one. It’s a 5-6 acre slice of beauty, run pretty much by one man. He has the neighbor’s fourteen year old kid come do some of the back-breaking type of labor (How cool, right? That kid is gonna look back one day and realize how unique it was that his first job was on a vineyard.) Anyway, chock fulla charm, this place. As much as we enjoyed this experience and chatting away with the kid’s family who showed up to pick him up, we were NOT productive the rest of the evening. Think we started dozing off around 7PM.
Yes, please is right. Handsome.
Post rose pruning visit to Makarori Beach. I adore lonely beaches. I came upon an immense, hauntingly desolate one with thundering waves in Ireland on a jog one morning. I think I heard an angel sing in Gaelic to me. Left a piece of my soul there. I also made my family extremely late for the rest of the day’s plans because I lingered on this beach far too long. I got major “What the hell, Molly?” stares when I came back and they were all sitting in front of the fire in the lobby, all packed up and ready to go.
Now why did he have to show up and ruin my deserted beach? He probably thought the same about me.
Stopping at the Bushmere Arms one early evening…a very old inn/pub/garden not too far from the flower farm. I was SO excited, because I had in my mind we were going to be transported to The Grantham Arms in Downton Abbey. We were going to cozy up next to a table by a tiny, crackling fire, and enjoy an Irish coffee. These specific imaginings I have tend to better than the real deal. So we pulled up, and not one car was there (even though we had called the day before to be certain they would be open). We started wandering around the place looking for what might be the entrance, and a middle-aged man who looked like he had either A) just woken up from a coma, or B) had been sitting at the bar by himself since yesterday and really needed a meal and a shower, slowly opened up the door and shuffled out to us in his socks…looked us up and down, like, “Well…what you want?” To which we were like, “Ummmmm…we kinda came out here hoping to pretend we were a part of Downton Abbey and have a drink.” Ha, not really. Think we just scratched our heads, perplexed. He never really explained. He just kind of mumbled off and went back inside. The whole experience was bizarre. He did tell us we could wander the grounds though, which were lovely.
The grounds.
Lil’ slice of a formal English garden.
Hitting the beach after dinner one night for a sunset.
You can almost hear the gale force winds in this pic, eh?
This represents another new post-work tradition. PJ pants and writing while drinking tea or coffee from my Kelly-Wellies mug! My cousin’s wife, Kelly, loaned this to me for my time in New Zealand, because for some reason whenever she drinks coffee from it, the mug reminds her of me. I use it ALL the time, Kelly. And I smile and think of you.
Clay went out late one night after I was a goner and photographed the Milky Way (and his feelings for it) as it rose over the Pacific Ocean. This is atop Kaiti Hill, my favorite place to jog in Gizzy.

Rere Rock Slide

Another fun outing near Field of Roses. The Rere Rock Slide! Clay was very jealous we were not equipped with a blow-up mattress like these kids. However, if he had taken up the French gentleman’s offer (you’ll see him in the background of the video) to “change out of his underpants so he borrow his wetsuit and boogie board,” Clay could have partaken in the fun.

Oh ya know…just the typical view on the drive to and from Field of Roses. I love that house, nestled among the hills and the vines. Zoe laughed when I told her how beautiful I think Gisborne is. “Really?”, she said. All these Kiwis, I’m tellin’ ya man, they don’t know how pretty their little country is.
Clay loves these “tree walls” that protect the vineyards from the wind. The winds in New Zealand can be SO strong. They are no joke.
This pic and the next several are from our afternoon exploring Tolaga Bay, about 45 minutes north of Gizzy.
A nice lil’ driftwood tent.
Tolaga Bay is home to the longest pier/wharf in the Southern Hemisphere.
Creeping towards the edge. This photo does NOT do justice to how high up the edge was from the ocean.
Tired, happy, windblown. “Let’s go home now. Stop taking pictures of me.”
“Wait, not til you get a pic of me acting like I’m falling in to the ocean.”
On the drive back, the light got REALLY pretty. This is one of my favorite color combinations. Other favorite color combo in nature: dark grey sky against bright spring green.
Lookout over Makarori Beach. I’m wearing the same dress in ever pic, aren’t I? Well, I bought it in Gizzy for working on the flower farm, because it is SO comfy and breezy. So comfy, in fact, that I just never want to put anything else on. And yes, for those wondering, it was washed every day.
This photo tradition started in LA. I don’t know why. When we love a place, we take this photo. We have three copies…Will Rogers State Park in LA, Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and here, in Gisborne. Notice the different proportions of our heads here. Also, I look like a teenage boy here. I be rockin’ my Gizzy hat, given to me for free by Bryan, the man Clay introduced to you in an earlier post…the Kiwi who traveled the U.S. on a Greyhound bus next to a man with a box of ferrets. Anyway, Highway 35 is the road that runs along the Northeast Coast. If you come to NZ, please, take the extra time to take 35. Don’t go the nausea-inducing “fast” way through the gorge (where you WILL lose your internet connection, and let’s just hope you don’t break down, or you be screwed).
Surfers on Makarori Beach.

Mangapapa Church

We went to a local church one Sunday…Mangapapa Church. It had been FOREVER since we attended church. Felt really good to be back. This church felt so similar to our old church…shout out to our East Lake family! There was a warmth and acceptance of ALL there. And also that feeling that you never know what on earth may happen during the service. A moving of the spirit if you will…sometimes a very humorous moving of the spirit. There was a mentally ill man who sang and did the Lord’s prayer very loudly, and very ahead of everyone else. I would catch myself accidentally getting way off the beat or way ahead of the words listening to him. Clay would start cracking up when he would hear me, then laughing attacks proceeded. My laughing attacks ALWAYS happen in church. That’s one thing I really love about God, though. I really think this kind of thing is a more genuine moving of the spirit than anything else. Plus, it proves he loves for us to laugh and enjoy ourselves. Anyway, I may be a million miles away from Birmingham, but I love how I can be taken right back to a pew in Huffman, Alabama, around the age of 5 or 6, sitting next to my sister Kali, all of my cousins, aunts and uncles, parents, and grandparents, learning one of many hymns that always, somehow, despite my attempts to push God away and distance myself, come back to me. Mom and Mimi…I know y’all love this one…”Take It to the Lord in Prayer.”

Okay, so the very first meal I wrote about earlier, we were not in the know yet. I must admit, I stand SO corrected. Gizzy is a bit smaller than Huntsville, AL, but there are several truly stellar restaurants. Like, at least five restos I think my man Frank Stitt would give a thumbs up to. And that is saying A LOT.
Ussco. I honestly don’t know what that was in front of me, but it stands out in my tastebuds’ memory as one of the best things I have ever eaten.
Forget the pretty sunset here. To me, the pretty view here is that couple. Old love=the best love. They were just talking away. I love how even after what I imagine was 50-60 years of weathering the storms of life together, she is pointing her knife at him during convos.
You end up at this NZ chain resto, Lone Star, if you show up anywhere else after 8:30 PM, which happened to us one night. The menu is seriously hilarious. NZ’s take on Americano cuisine. However, I had the special, which was local lamb, and it was legit, y’all. Even the chain restaurants here are pretty dern good.
Typical Molly and Clay. Shuttin’ her down. The Dome Cinema Restaurant. They show documentaries and independent films in a theatre full of big bean bags, and they serve really, really good food. In case y’all were wondering, there is an ongoing “Food” post on its way, as well as a “Top NZ Restaurant Experiences” post coming. Eventually.
If anything sums up Gisborne to me, it’s the locals swimming and jumping into the beautiful, blue rivers that converge here at the railroad track and flow out into the Pacific Ocean.
So…last pic for Gizzy. View of the Gisborne valley from Grey’s Bush Scenic Preserve. It’s a lil bit of every ecosystem you can think of, smashed together, as is all of NZ’s landscape. A lil Tuscany/Bordeaux, a lil Greek Mediterranean, a lil tropical, a lil SoCal, and a lil Colorado birchwood. So, about this valley. We went one night to listen to a local band called The East Coast Breevas (the Maori way of pronouncing “Brothas”). They were so fun. Enjoy this song called “Party in the Vally”…referring to Gizzy’s valley. Time to get percolatin’ people.