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19:20Meg Cowan

Clouds of dust swirl relentlessly around our little tin clad home. The newly contoured land is steadily coming under our hand. These days we are kings ruling our three acre kingdom. The hip high grass we took possession of, littered with old orchard paraphernalia and showing the signs of the previous owners neglect, is now bearing the marks of love.

I haven't had much time to stop and ponder these last few months but with the holiday season drawing to an end it seems the right time to reflect. Casting my mind back, our arrival home was shrouded in Auckland rain and a good dose of uncertainty. We came back to Mr Evans new family home and no longer had the familiarity of Ridge road to fall back on however the Clevedon home was full of beautiful character and the welcoming arms of Ma and Pa. Further down the Island Nana and Poppa waited, also beckoning to the kids to come quickly and be wrapped in all the cuddles they had stored from the last six months.

Within one week we had visited families and done a NZ trade show. By two weeks in we had recovered from the jet lag and the reality was hitting us that we had no idea what we were doing. Our original intention had been to return to Auckland, find a nice reasonably priced rental *insert hysterical laughing here* and Mr Evans would get back to contracting for a while as I reconnected with old friends and set the kids up in some kind of alternative schooling arrangement. It looked good on paper but in reality it all felt wrong. Every rental I looked at turned me off and we knew that if we were setting up this time we didn't want a purely functional home as the last auckland one had been. We needed a landing place and soul survival kind of space.
We didn't want the kids back in mainstream school but the un schooling co-op we looked at was a little too hippy for our liking and my grand plans looked to be rapidly unravelling.
My mum kept suggesting that we look around the Tauranga region and while in previous years we'd been sure that wasn't right for us, suddenly we didn't have a strong enough reason not too.
In fact, there was enough known community for us here that we didn't feel like it was a bad thing so the option began to play on our minds. We headed down to Nana and Poppas again for a few days so we could look at the options.

If you know my mum, you know that once she's got an idea it's all action, and we can credit her with getting the ball rolling. She contacted a friend of hers who may have had a place to rent but they informed her that actually, they would rather sell it. Buying wasn't in our game plan for another couple of years with our focusing being the business, but mum thought this might be a good deal for them, then we could rent it off them. That was all it took to get everyone thinking.

I'd been looking wishingly on Trade Me at sections of land and other properties to give us a point of reference for price and pointed one out to Dad as we were talking. 'Not bad love, lets have a look at it on the way'. We looked once and I saw the spark in Dads experienced eye as he sized things up.
Gently contoured land with some rough fencing and surrounding shelter belts. A five year old shed at the back end of the property, partially completed inside. An overgrown thicket of trees and ivy, perfect for kids to dream up adventures and a nice spot to add fruit trees. It was covered in junk, an old caravan and boat, posts, netting and tin. The grass was growing wilder by the day and there was plenty of work to be done.
We looked at the friends house and realised it wasn't our kind of project so the conversation swung back to the section. It was exciting particularly due to the top portion near the road being sub dividable. With a deadline listed for offers to be taken, we had only a few days to make up our minds.
There was a couple of days working through the ins and outs of subdivision, was the land suitable for building on? was the shed permitted? etc. The deadline was 12pm and we waited until 9am to put our offer on paper, knowing that there were others already received. We were confident in our offer but found out later that in the few hours after we placed ours, three more were received by the agent, bringing it to a total of six contenders.

We waited and waited.. 2pm rolled past, and then 3pm. Surely we had lost it. No one takes that long to make a decision. Finally at 4pm I rang the agent to check. 'Terribly sorry Meg, the vendor is having a hard time deciding and is reserving his right to sleep on it. I'll go back and see him tomorrow'. I could barely stand still with such a desperate waiting feeling. Surprisingly I had a sound sleep and woke the next morning confident that whatever the outcome we would be fine. Then I got a call to let me know the rental we had been accepted for, a beautiful big tauranga home, had to be given to someone else if we couldn't give them an answer that morning. With trepidation, I said no, we couldn't take it but please let us know if anything changed. Mr Evans was in Auckland and so there were phone calls back and forwards as I attempted to regain my even keel.

2pm rolled around and this time the agent rang me. 'Meg, the next offer is 30,000 more, so we need to know what your best offer is. We're not going back to anyone else but the vendors asked specifically for you. He wants you to have it. You're up against foreign investors and he wants a kiwi family in there.' I'm thinking that may have something to do with the nice covering letter and family photo we included with the offer. Nothing like two cute little blonde kids to twist an arm. But back to the negotiations, I'm breathing in a paper bag while making a flurry of phone calls. We bettered the other offer by one thousand dollars and 45 painstaking moments later, it was ours!.
Less than a month later we sat for the first time, outside our little tin shed unaware of the sheer volume of work that would happen in the next three months to come. Aside from planning for the big house which will come in the next year or two, we had to make the space we had liveable and tidy the land up.
There was tree felling with dad and the brothers, including specialist trunk carving for the kids from Poppa.
 There was lugging logs, restoring rusty old tractors, insulating and lining of the shed, an uncle on a digger,
and an uncle with plants,
choosing bathroom fittings,
laying pavers, digging holes, placing posts, and a composting toilet system,
prepping and painting, choosing and un choosing, caravans and camp showers, travel back and forwards, sleeping on the floor, gumboot buying and dirt sweeping, swings in trees, rats and traps, a cat, a dog and some chooks and so much more.

So many of these memories are threaded with the love and sacrifice of my parents. Here at 6.30am some mornings and leaving after night has fallen, building a dream.
Everything that's been created looks a whole lot like love to me. All of this wrapped in bone aching weariness and delirious happiness.
We are home.

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