We’re baaaaaack! After that last post I bet y’all were getting worried that I had driven us right off a cliff into the deep blue South Pacific! It is high time for a well-deserved and long-awaited update! My bad…I know, I know, I know!!! It’s terrible, isn’t it?! If I were a soldier waiting for a letter from my homegirl, I would have given up and moved on. For those who haven’t resigned from checking their mailboxes for blog updates, thank you for putting up with my inconsistent self. Since our last post, the beginnings of autumn have arrived in this corner of the earth, and so the summer flush of the rose season has begun to wind down. We exchanged a bittersweet goodbye with Zoe and Sue, those truly wonderful flower girls. They blessed me and taught me more than they know…and not just about flowers! I have a good feeling I will see them again one day. So for now, Zoe and Sue, slater! They would say that to me when I left the farm…short for, “see ya later!”.

So…where in the world are we, and what on earth are we doing??? To quote my man Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere, man.” We have been roaming with the millions of sheep who live here, traversing all over the North and South Islands. So, go take your bra off and slip into your favorite expandable pants and tatty t-shirt, and get all cozied up, cause we got STO-ries to tell.

Our first stop on the map after saying so long to my beloved Gizzy was the well-heeled, very English-influenced, seaside town of Napier. The whole town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, and tragically, 256 people lost their lives. Like any natural disaster, though, the resiliency of the human spirit rose out the rubble, and the citizens re-built a beautiful hamlet chock full of Art Deco buildings, as was the fashionable architecture of that era.

Righteo…so, I know I just told you to go put your “I-hope-to-God-I-don’t-run-into-someone-I-know-at-the-grocery-store” outfit on (you inevitably will run into someone, trust me), but it’s time to get up, slip into your favorite flapper dress, lace up those two-tone oxford heels, and fasten your très chic cloche hat onto your perfectly curled coiffe, cause we’re goin’ to Napier!

To be read in the most proper of English accents:

I don’t know about you, but I like places that transport me, that catapult me into my imagination…a place that you and I should allow ourselves to visit more often. I specifically like places that carry me to a bygone era, approximately between 1850-1950, and preferably somewhere in Europe or America. Napier did just that. It is a place where adults are never too old to play dress up and pretend…full grown adults play make believe every day, flitting about the lawn, sipping tea, polishing the hood of their vintage Packards, and checking the time on their pocket watches. If I were the mayor of the town, I would require all citizens and visitors to do the architecture justice and dress in 1930’s attire and drive only classic cars with this honking sound:

 

There is a reason why I’m not in government, though (#dictatormolly). I wish Clay and I had come prepared to follow Mayor Molly’s orders though, but unfortunately we looked like your typical silly tourists, muddying up what could be a perfectly kept time capsule. Even though we did not look the part, it didn’t keep me from going into full-blown character and annoying Clay the entire 48 hours we were there. Please enjoy my musings and Clay’s photos.

That’s right…every year Napier puts on an entire Art Deco Weekend! The whole town and lots of tourists show up in their 1930’s garb and partake in an extravaganza of fancy picnics, vintage car shows, and old war plane air shows. And oh yes, there is plenty of dancing the jitterbug late into the night to the likes of Benny Goodman tunes. I SO wish we had timed our trip so we could have been there for the 2017 festival, but alas, I didn’t do my trip research before we showed up to this country! We all may have missed this year’s weekend of frivolity, but hey, we can always jump into this post card Mary Poppins style and go there in our minds. I found this card at a gift shop, and it caused me to sing this song everywhere we went…
Of course, one cannot be in a town built in the 1930’s and not think about the great F. Scott Fitzgerald and life in the West Egg. American literature was by far my favorite year of high school English.
Napier also felt a bit like what Hollywood felt like as an infant…like a two street movie set. It made me want to roll out the red carpet and watch Katherine Hepburn gracefully strut down the aisle in front of all the photographers.
I may be touching on American literature and Hollywood, but you better still be reading in your English accent!
Napier made me want to talk like Cruella Deville. Cheerio! Cheerio Daaahling!
And of course, Napier threw me into a Downton Abbey tizzy. It really did remind me of the seaside town the staff visits in this happy episode. Forgive me if you are not into Downton, because, well, to say that I am “into it” is a bit of an understatement.
Ahhh, Mrs. Patmore enjoying a well-deserved break. I would love to work for her.
Napier will make you want to sit at a garden party, looking perfectly lovely while saying the cheekiest things. Mrs. Crawley: “Thank you, I take that as a compliment.” Violet: “I must have said it wrong.”
The street in this photo actually looks like Marine Parade, the main street that borders the ocean in Napier. Aside from that, these are my feelings for this photo: HOT.
My spirit animal, Lady Rose. She was probably planning how should could escape this fussy gathering, catch a ride into town, and dance the night away in a lively gin parlour.
“Sorry, what was that Lady Mary? I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you ask if I want to borrow your outfit? Why yes, yes I would! Can I keep the headband?”
“Lady Mary, what, may I ask, is this ghastly contraption?” “Oh I don’t know, Carson. Let’s give it a go and see what happens.”

 

So there you have it. My daydreams as we explored Napier. While the town doesn’t completely resemble the post card above anymore, Clay did a lovely job capturing the spirit that still exists there. Enjoy the photos! The ones towards the end don’t quite fit in with the theme we’ve got going here, but hopefully you’ll take pleasure in them nonetheless.
View of the town from Bluff Hill Lookout. Simply mahhhhvelous, eh?!
What a grand year to be alive! Napier up and running post-earthquake.
Go away schlumpy tourists! You’re ruining the picture!!!
We stayed in the hotel these beautiful cars are parked next to…the Masonic Hotel. It was so lovely waking up to the sound of “Ahooooga!” horns. Let’s listen to it again.
Men, you look a million times more dapper when you wear a tweed cap, especially if it’s a Genuine McNutt Tweed, woven in Donegal, Ireland. Shout out to my McNutt ancestors!
Again, go away schlumpy tourists! You’re messing up the time capsule!
Love me a good cloche hat.
Close up of the Masonic Hotel.
The view from our floor!!!
Looking out from the balcony.

Queen Elizabeth II stayed at our hotel during her coronation tour of New Zealand. She was very, very young then. I am standing exactly where she stood. This pic took forever for us to take. I was quite agitated by the end of it actually. Clay gave me hand gestures to move a quarter of an inch left or right in order to get it just right. Slide the wee bar above to compare then and now!

All that said, who cares about Queen Elizabeth??? There is only one queen in my world… and her name is Mary Ann Martin. For some reason, God gave her to me as my grandmother. I can never re-pay him for that gift. Or the gift that is the man walking her down the aisle. Sorry for getting mushy, but it’s true.
We decided we actually like art deco art/prints/postcards more than art deco architecture. Bold colors and fonts, but still minimalist.
“And the Oscar goes to………um, er, um, er, LaLa Land!!!…………actually, there has been a mistake……”
Beautiful building. Schlumpy tourist!
The next several are Art Deco architectural tidbits…enjoy!
Parker’s Chambers
Another Chambers
Harston’s
F. Thorp & Co.
The Daily Telegraph
Public Trust Office
Shout out to my Auburn fam! Apparently y’all have relatives in Napier!
Probably me seeing the Bowman building and telling Clay to take a pic.
Here go the random pics that don’t fit in. We took a bike ride our second day here, and our goal was to make it to New Zealand’s first winery, which was founded by missionaries. There was a wedding going on and the tasting room was closed, but we made it!
Lovely, eh?
Who cares about the wine? I’ll take a glass of that handsome Scot. #thosesmileyeyes #genuinemcnutttweedcap
So New Zealand’s oldest winery is hosting The Dixie Chicks in less than a month! Taryn, we should get tickets!!! I mean, c’mon, how many times did we belt “Goodbye Earl” during volleyball tournament breaks in my parent’s Yukon XL? Other favorites I (still) love to belt are Wide Open Spaces and…yeah, Wide Open Spaces.
Hey! Lookathere! Our shipping container is being unloaded! Not really, it’s coming into Dunedin, but Clay can’t help but watch (and photograph) the workings of a port for a solid hour. My beloved Gizzy is way off in the distance there. And the water really is this vibrant of color blue, by the way.
Dad, don’t you think Aunt Sally and Grandma would love Napier? I came upon this person’s backyard on a run and brought Clay back later to photograph it. I can just see them sitting there with their wine and knick-knacks, talking about how “simply delightful” everything is.
I took this pic! I call these trees “Dr. Seuss” trees. Aren’t they so magical and whimsical?!
Because Clay loves donuts.