As we piled into the cars (dog and cat included!) for our first holiday weekend at the bach, I couldn’t help but think of all the things we had to do once we arrived. Although the bach is technically finished, with just a few bits and pieces to be tidied up, and thankfully no longer a building site, to me, it is still a project. I haven’t reached that point where I think of it as a relaxing home-away-from-home, instead I just see everything that needs to be finished. Granted, most of these aren’t ‘building’ things as such, rather ‘liveable’ things, however my to-do list is the longest it’s been in months! Essentially, we need to move in and get all the domestic stuff out of the way, then perhaps I can relax!

So that is what we do. We potter around, hanging the curtains, fixing heaters to walls and, importantly, deciding the best place to store the cheese board! As we burn the fire in, I sit with a beer in hand and really begin to enjoy the space.  We are so proud of what we have achieved and I am really looking forward to spending more time here. To my surprise, the girls also love it. They are already counting down the days until our next Hanmer holiday.

We have family over to visit on Saturday, almost like a soft-opening of a restaurant, we trial the bach to see if it can handle more than our family of four. And it holds up! Entertaining a group of 10 was comfortable and there didn’t seem to be any conflict with the architecture. Which automatically got us thinking, where is the limit? How many would be too many? And, how can we use it at Christmas?! I’m sure all of these questions will be answered soon enough, all we know at this stage is that the bach performed very well with a group of 10 on an extremely wet weekend in June!

Packing for the bach for our first weekend holiday actually reminded me a lot of when Grace was first born and the first ‘event’ we went to as a family. We ended up being really late because we had no idea what to take, we suddenly needed so much more ‘stuff’ and we weren’t used to it. It was much easier when there was just two of us! The bach is similar, although we want it to become like a second home, we still don’t really know what we need to take up there and what we leave behind in Christchurch. But I’m sure as we spend more and more time there it will become easier to pack for a weekend away!

Our next challenge is to figure out how we can get the best use of the bach. How we can balance the normal day-to-day activities of an average weekend and still spend a decent chunk of time at the bach. Arriving back in Christchurch from that first weekend away, we were welcomed with a bit of a shock. When we think of a normal weekend, we usually get through multiple loads of washing to prep for the week ahead and get the weekly groceries done. But being away in Hanmer all weekend meant that these things had not been done, and were waiting for us when we arrived back. We realise that we need to find a better balance, perhaps we take our washing to Hanmer? I certainly don’t want to be sleepily meandering the aisles of the supermarket at ten o’clock every Sunday night!

Interestingly, the aspects of the bach that are designed to challenge the way we live… are actually challenging! The things that we designed to quite deliberately disrupt or challenge the way we would normally live, have indeed caused us to make changes.

For example, we decided to put the microwave in Pod 2, in a separate pod from the kitchen, so that the girls had some cooking facilities in their pod. During dinner over the weekend, the girls decided it was far too much hassle to walk outside and across to Pod 2 to melt the cheese for their nachos. Even though it is probably the same distance as the couch to the kitchen in our Christchurch home, the fact they would have to go outside put them off! Obviously, cheese-less nachos aren’t a life changer, but it’s those little things we will adapt to.

With one holiday weekend under our belt, I can’t wait for the next one! Although our building journey has been full of ups and downs, a lot of stress and a few good lessons learned, it really has been an amazing experience. And now that all that stress is behind us, it almost feels like this is just the beginning of our Hanmer journey… Stay tuned for Chapter Two…. ?

Published on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017