DEVON..10 years on
Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the day we moved into our home "Devon". We had decided that it was time for Bernie to retire from active management of Fletcher Christian Apartments, and although we already had managers since February, the "new"house was not ready for us until May.
I have mentioned that Devon was built back in the early 1920's by Charlie Bailey for his sister Charlotte. It was typical of a New Zealand bungalow of the time, and even today when we travel around New Zealand, we often spy an old house and say: "Oh look...there's "Devon!"
Charlotte did not actually live in the house, but it was let to various people over the years, such as Burns Philp managers. During the war, it became headquarters for the New Zealand army, and was occupied by Colonel Barry and then Colonel Cockerell. At this time an army hut was built adjacent to the house, and at a later stage the two buildings were connected. There were tents encamped in what is now the woodland between us and the road, and the remnant foundations of the "mess", with drains and greasetraps, can still be seen at Devon Cottage next door. Water was actually pumped up from the spring in the valley behind the house to halfway up the mountain, where the Mini Golf and Agnes' Toyshop are now....about 3 km away. The water was then gravity fed back down to the various army encampments. The lawnmower recently shaved off enough dirt to reveal one of the old metal pipes out near our clothesline.
Bernie's parents went to Sydney in the war years, and when they returned to the island in the 1960's, Charlotte invited them to live in the house. George made considerable internal alterations and modern touches. It became very much the "family home."
After George and Dorothy passed away in 1991 and 1992, we let the house to various short term residents, and they all said they loved the place and that it had good vibes.
The alterations we made in 1995-6 were extensive, with several rooms being added on, including an open upstairs area. Of the four old bedrooms, one became a bathroom, one became a dining room, and one became a laundry, while the old bathroom formed the hallway that led through to the new section.
The day we moved was memorable. I had received word the day before that my mother was very ill. By that day, it was apparent that she was dying. My sister told me not to come, that I would be too late to see Mum alive, and to concentrate on the moving. However, Charles, who had been living with Mum, insisted I come. I travelled on the plane that evening, and was able to spend an hour or two with Mum before she passed away.
So although we moved on the 5th May, I did not actually get to sleep in our new home for another week.