We know that it has been quite some time since we've been in touch but, like communities and businesses the world over, we have been caught up in the events of a surreal 2020.
It is a year ago almost to the day that we left NZ for our beautiful 'bolt hole' in Vanuatu for a a quick 10 day visit to meet up with Zimbabwean friends. Covid global chaos was unfolding but we felt quite happy with the prospect of possibly being 'stranded' on Aore Island in our freshly renovated island home.
And then came Cyclone Harold, a category 5 storm that came straight over the top of Aore (yes, that's us right in the eye of the storm), seriously damaging our property while we took refuge in a concrete bunker for five hours. Thanks to the NZ Air Force we were airlifted back to New Zealand in a magnificent Hercules (hand luggage only) and were one of the first groups put into managed isolation on our return to NZ. In hindsight, that forced two week hiatus turned out to be a really good way for both of us to recover from our quite dramatic and traumatic island exit.
Arriving back to Birdwoods in late March for the last two weeks of the national lockdown was a bit like boarding the Marie Celeste - lawns overgrown, spoilt food in the chillers and an eerie stillness. That didn't last long - we painted the interior of the gallery, put a new wooden floor into our Sunroom and made ready for re-opening with renewed enthusiasm and cautious optimism. Hospitality is not for the faint of heart and in these unexpectedly challenging times, our staff have responded beautifully, supporting us all the way.
We have come through the busy summer months feeling grateful we have been able to survive, thrive and trade through all the different restrictions and uncertainty. And, as New Zealanders, we are all so aware of how fortunate we have been here in this particular corner of the world over the past year. >span