Despite our time spent reflecting on home and tragic events that have tested us in so many ways, we’ve still been quite busy here in New Zealand.
First, there was Hobbiton (or Matamata), a small town that happily hosts one of the most memorable movie sets from the Lord of the Rings cinematic trilogy and now, more recently, the three movies that make up The Hobbit. The movie set is gorgeous: lush foliage, bright sun, and sparkling water. Every detail is exact – there’s nothing out of place. With over forty ‘hobbit holes,’ large circular doorways in which Tolkein’s legendary ‘halflings’ famously lived, the estate is sprawling and the hills are distinctly dotted with chimneys and windows built into the meadow. We were able to tour the set, take more photos than I might usually endure, and let my nerd-spirit soar a bit. Hannah is a very patient partner.
After a drink of cider at the Green Dragon pub, replicated to scale, we headed off for our stay on a small sheep farm. Small, of course, being relative: the land runs across sixteen acres and has thirteen different animal enclosures.
Diane, our host, served up a delicious dinner of lamb shoulder and the sun set beautifully over the rolling pasture behind the house. The garden glowed in shades of pink and gold.
Around this time, I received a very painful phone call. Our night was a mixture of shock and distress. We both went to bed emotionally exhausted.
We woke up on Sunday morning (December 1st) and cleared our heads a bit by letting off some steam on the farm. We were bullied into a corner by a few courageous cows and Hannah made some wooly friends in the sheep pen, particularly one named Rosie – she followed Hannah everywhere. We packed our bags and headed out to Palmerston North. It would be a long drive, but we needed some time to think and be alone with each other.