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Aug 03

Country Calendar crew is due

Two guys on the oyster farm - having a feed

Country Calendar sound recordist Don Anderson (standing) and cameraman Richard Williams wasted no time feasting on the oyster farm.

“I’ve got eagle eyes,” trilled the farmer in a most unfarmerly fashion while strolling down the hall and waving something small and shiny.

“My watch!” I’d spent ages scouring the gravel road several kilometres from home where I was sure I’d lost it months earlier while moving bulls.

Remarkably, it was in perfect condition which was odd after weeks of weathering rain and vehicles.

I was having this thought when I noticed the farmer’s sheepish smile. Turns out he’d found it in his ute which he was cleaning, an event as rare as the times he arrives home after a hard day on the farm and says, “Don’t move a muscle. I’ll cook dinner. White wine or red?”

His domesticity was inspired by the impending arrival of a crew from Country Calendar, the television show that’s central to our Kiwi culture. It’s the country’s longest-running TV series, and is probably only pipped as the world’s longest-running show by Coronation Street which started in 1960, six years before Country Calendar.

Anyway, we were all of a dither, mowing, weeding, dusting and cleaning. And when you’re going to be on television and you’re female, you realise you own no suitable clothing and, in my case, hats.

After rushing out and buying a merino top, two friends immediately said it didn’t suit me and I returned it. I know my hats didn’t pass muster because I was wearing my favourite when the farmer said, “You look dorky in that hat.”

Fair enough. I’d told him he looked dorky in a particular pair of shorts the day before. These frank exchanges surely stemmed from pre-Country Calendar angst.

Some months earlier Kerryanne Evans, a director and reporter for the show, visited and we’d had another frank exchange while enjoying the farmer’s oyster fritters, answering more curly and personal, but gently put, questions than anyone else had ever asked.

She’d become interested in life at Batley after reading Love at the End of the Road about life on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour with the aforementioned not-so-eagle-eyed farmer.

Kerryanne visited when the harbour was bleak and wind ruffled. The next day was so glorious I took photographs of the bright blue harbour reflecting puffy cottonwool clouds and surrounded by electric green hills.

Soon after the filming dates were confirmed, things fell magically into line. The Mangawhai Garden Club planned to visit and agreed to do so while the crew was here, an Ohope Beach oyster farmer serendipitously timed his arrival to coincide, and some Otamatea High School students were to have a shearing lesson at the Country Club where Rex often helps at shearing time.

We located accommodation for Kerryanne, a cameraman and a soundman who’d spend five days here, then got busy tidying and straightening the house, farm and ourselves as much as we could, which in some respects, wasn’t much at all.

When Kerryanne asked if the Kaipara Harbour was always so grey and windswept, I emailed my blue-sky photos and she was most heartened. Then the week of filming turned out to be grey and windswept, perfect moody Kaipara Harbour weather.

 

Country Calendar, Saturday 11 August, 7.00pm, TV1.

 

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'.

6 comments

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  1. JENNY DIGBY

    My husband Robin and I thoroughly enjoyed Country Calendar last night. We have happy memories eating oysters @ the waters edge with Rex’s uncle Ken. Ken and Hal were in my fathers battelion durning WW11, Maurice Chilton was his name, and he held both guy’s in the highest regard. All the best Jenny

    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Jenny, Delighted you enjoyed the show – so did we! It made us laugh, which was fun. I’ll pass on your kind words to everyone. Thanks for your warm wishes, Rae

  2. Marilyn Blakeney-Williams nee sterling

    I went to school with Rex and Sunday school! We lived at marohemo on our farm. My brother blenddyn will be remembered by the roadley family. Your book has been passed around our family and invoked many memories we had forgotten. I have loved reading it. Hours of pleasure . Looking forward to the programme tonight.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Marilyn, Thanks for the kind words and hope you enjoy Country Calendar. I’ll pass on your ‘hi’ to Rex. Delighted you’ve enjoyed the book – your comments make it all the more rewarding, thanks and best wishes, Rae

  3. Lynley

    I’m looking forward to watching your programme.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Thanks. We’re having friends and family for soup, smoked mullet pie and fattening winter puds.

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