Last weekend, my pregnant belly and I traversed the Kaimais, wound past the wind-turbines to arrive in Raglan(d) to retreat to Solscape’s Ivy Cottage.
For those of you who don’t know, Solscape is an Eco Retreat and Progressive Learning Centre located ‘a comfortable’ 6 kms from Raglan. They describe themselves as providing a ‘diverse range of accommodation which has been consciously designed to fit within their primary goals of minimizing their ecological footprint and inspiring visitors with working models of sustainable living.’
For those of you who don’t know, Raglan is in New Zealand’s North Island (Te-Ika-a-Maui). It takes about 2hr30mins drive from Tauranga, about 3hrs from Auckland and about 50 mins from Hamilton.
Raglan sits on the west coast of Aotearoa on the lips of the Tasman Sea and holds wild and free secrets. Another west-is-best beach, KareKare, was an initiation for me as a young woman. A calling of potential. She held abundant parties in Nigel Horrocks’ home with the giant dark paned door that slid open to the manuka-ed fierce oceaned valley below. The parties housed music from paradisical dreams – string quartets, Cook Island drums and fire, Emma Paki raw vocals and the sounds of Finn voices. The men were memorable from this time. A revelation for a girl from the Bay. Their minds. Their stance. Men of the Metropolis. The poets, the musicians, the actors. And then there were the women. Real women. With voices and long un-tied hair and black lined flashing eyes. Late middays, after feasts of fresh fruit, chunks of dripping pineapple, heaped with yoghurt and toasted pumpkin seeds found my adolescent form cartwheeling hot hands and feet into the black-beach-sands. Pushing my body into the full ocean. Laughing back to the broccoli-ed cliffs behind us. Cliff Curtis and I with our long sea-dipped hair disorientating in the orange and pink waves of early evening. And now I weave my body, with her long hair, her woman, her belly back to a west coast beach with its questions and sometimes answers.
Solscape’s Putarangi (sky nest) or Ivy Cottage is a simple and nourishing space. I lugged my books, food, hottie, knitting, and thermos up the stairs to where a queen’s bed lay waiting in the sun, above a view of the Raglan sculpted coastline with her lines of waves coming to kiss the sands and a silhouette of piwakawaka flirting in the flashes of light. there I sat. there I lay. reading. writing. eating. weaving. drifting. sleeping. naked. woolied. duveted. pillowed. my mother, my self. myths to live by. the how of happiness. tao te ching. titles of the introspective hours. It was here I reflected for an afternoon, an evening, a night, a dawn, a morning until my midday Sunday departure.
Ready to be around others I circled up the hill to where the other dwellings lay. The Putarangi/Ivy Cottage is the place to stay if you’re wanting a hideaway as the other accommodation with oodles of personality such as the converted train carriage, the earth dome, the cabooses, sit in a communal space close to the outdoor pizza oven and the railway station which is a typical kiwi backpackers space with shared lounge, kitchen, computers and conversation.
Further up the path a bushed valley dips down through emerald ferns and canopies and sacred springs to the Tipi sites waiting until next summer to hum again.
I farewelled Solscape, drinking in the expanse of ocean and cabbage trees and satisfied manu calling, past the gardens where men from different lands were sharing growing wisdom, to drive down to sit above the Tasman. I feasted on Danish brie and walnut oat biscuits above a surfer’s paradise. Here sits stone carvings celebrating the north, the south, the west, the east and all their individual quality and power. A kingfisher as a circus act balancing on a flax flower, watched on.
The engine and I continued on our voyage, past the wind-turbines, the black and white hides and moos, the hills of the Kaimas with her woolied backed baas in the sun calling us home, to whanau, leaving the west coast willing and waiting for the next need for silence, retreat, rejuvenation. I time.