Apr 30

Thanks to our hapless guests

The farmer and I thank visiting family and friends for coping with cold showers, collapsing chairs and curious possums.

About a year ago we bought eight new deck chairs which, as three hapless guests have taught us, have a design fault.

Shags in a feeding frenzy

Happy shags in a feeding frenzy

So far three chairs have cracked in the same place taking three different guests with them. The farmer and I use the chairs daily but none has broken under us. In the interests of our guests, we have had some chairs replaced and are working to resolve the problem.

It was great to have a guest for company when, just minutes after the farmer had gone out, a possum wandered into the dining room.

The startled creature fled upstairs with me in pursuit, but I was too slow to see whether it had left via the terrace or was hiding in a bedroom.

It was, therefore, handy to get a report from the guest when I returned to the dining room. In my absence she’d heard a squeal and opened the back door – a cat streaked inside.

She figured it had been the cat that yowled, but as the back deck was coated in possum fur, we concluded otherwise, reasoning the possum had jumped from the terrace to the ground where it had been set upon by Kate the dog.

The guest, who also turned out to be a handy source of information, said possums can shed fur so they can escape attackers; we never did find a dead possum.

The longer you stay the more likely you are to experience more than one mishap, so this same guest also scored a cold shower.

When one gas bottle runs out, the supply is supposed to flow from the other bottle but, for a reason that’s beyond the farmer and me, this doesn’t happen.

It was jolly unfortunate that the gas ran out when the guest was showering at 11pm. It was also jolly decent of her to insist that I didn’t emerge from my cosy bed to turn on the full gas bottle.

It was also handy to have friends staying when a fisherman snagged a shag in his net. Rather than ask his family, which was nearby, to help, he slashed the net with a knife until the shag was cut free – but it was still entangled in a piece of net.

We watched the action with binoculars – and growing alarm – as the bird struggled to a small sand spit to ponder its fate. Without intervention, this would have been an early death.

A friend and I set off with a towel, scissors and the sort of environmental righteousness which excels in company. The bird tried to swim away, but had no show. I waded out and grabbed it in the towel.

We were settling down to snip it free when it stretched its elastic neck and pecked a chunk out of my forehead.

I was amazed! What was the bird thinking, attacking me when there was a perfectly good guest available?


About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.


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  1. Cally whitham

    Just bought a humble batch in Pahi. Read your book over the weekend. Loved it , such a great read. Made the chocolate cake which we have renamed Batley Cake and shall be making it most visits to Pahi. Very yummy.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Batley Cake – makes it sound very special. So very glad you loved the book – and that you’ve told me. And best for many happy times at Pahi, a special place. I have a pic of US friends on the wharf there on Fb and now an ex Sth African friend (in England) is saying: ‘I’ve been there too!’ Small world. Best wishes & thanks, Rae

  2. Aroha

    Hi Rae just looking up things on Batley when came across your blog. I am one of the Pihema family from Batley and love going to visit when we are back in NZ. I am doing a book for my uncle Len Phillips who turns 80 and have been picking up old photographs to add to the memories. I can remember at my grandmothers house an aerial photograph of the farm. Do you know if it is possible to track it down.
    Can you please tell me if the northern advocate have a library of old photgraphs taken in the 40’s.. of rugby rep teams etc,
    I have a few but they are well worn and some have damage i would appreciate any information you could give me. I am interested in your book so will go and look it up.

    Thanks Rae and all the best to Rex.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Aroha, Thanks for the message – I don’t know about the aerial pic – if you find out, I’d love to see it. The Kauri Museum has many old rugby pix and others. The book includes a great pic of Aperaniko
      from TKM, plus a pic of the church and the Lewis wedding. Can’t help re the Advocate, sorry, and I’ll pass on your ‘hi’ to Rex. Hope you enjoy the book, best, Rae

  3. Lynne Russell


    I really enjoyed your book. Mostly because my mother is the youngest child of Tiri and Fred Morgan so she grew up in Batley and I spent many happy summers there at grandma’s and down at the beach collecting pipi’s.

    Your book inspired me to finally return to Batley after 40 years away, and I will now be returning more often to what was always a special place. You gave me back my special place so thank you for that.

    However I think I would have enjoyed your book without my own connection to the area as your stories about your adventures at Batley in the book are great

    Job well done and thank you

    1. Rae Roadley

      Thanks for your kind words. Delighted you enjoyed the book, that it brought back memories and inspired you to visit again – yes, it’s a special place. And thank you for telling me so. Best wishes, Rae

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