Barry Gibb at The Mission, Hawkes Bay Feburary 2013 image library
Coming to us in Taradale Hawkes Bay, via Redcliffe Queensland, was Barry Gibb, the one remaining brother of the BeeGees - Barry, Robin and Maurice. So, we felt very connected staying at the Redcliffe Homestead, owned by our welcoming and very interesting hosts, Sue and Brian Calcinai.
Redcliffe Homestead is prettily set amongst a few hectares of Taradale kiwifruit pergolas and a diverse home orchard and garden. The house is a spacious, charmingly restored 19th century return verandah villa, with no expense spared in quality fittings. Many pieces have been fashioned from salvaged original totara weatherboards. A little to do yet in one corner, but if you have ever owned a villa. as we have, it is a 'labour of love' and never completely done. We felt very spoilt being able to have the main room and adjoining ensuite for our first night, moving to a smaller room with its own bathroom just down the hall for our second night. The main room had been booked by other guests for the 2nd night months previously. It was very good of Sue to accommodate us like this with the associated linen changing and cleaning as the normal booking criteria is a 2 night stay, which we were doing, but in 2 different rooms. We did try not to leave too much evidence of our occupation. The main room has its own small private verandah which is a delight at any time of the day. Sue had just made a delicious chocolate slice and we enjoyed a few pieces with our afternoon coffee. Needless to say our sleep was deep in the very comfortable queen bed.
Sue and Brian serve a superior continental breakfast, with cooked just a few extra dollars. Fresh (from the property) fruit salad, various cereal if you want and toast with a selection of homemade jams suited me fine. Linda, who has a few food intolerances, enjoyed Sue's perfect poached eggs and there was plenty of freshly brewed coffee. We visited again recently, in November, staying in the Burgundy room for 3 nights. We had our pal Tammy with us this time who happily slept in the hall just outside our room. Sue and Brians' 2 pals (labradors), Sophie and Zara were a bit taken aback at Tammy's 6kg size but they all quickly made friends. The Redcliffe quality shone again making our 3 days an oasis away from Auckland life.
Our reason, if you need a 'reason' for visiting Hawkes Bay, on this occasion was to see and hear Barry Gibb at the Mission winery. Carol King was also an attraction. We had decided to reach the venue about 4pm, as Carol King was due on stage around 6pm. This left us most of the day to ourselves, so it was into Napier, visiting a couple of stores we knew well and enjoying a great coffee at the famous Ujazi. Napier's art deco CBD never fails to attract - it is just a great place. We noticed a massive cruise ship docked at Napier port producing a large increase in downtown tourist traffic, which should have resulted in some good business for local traders.
We had booked lunch at Clearview winery, Te Awanga which I think is one of the best lunch spots in Napier. And, thank goodness we had booked - busy, busy. Quite casual - even a little shabby actually, but this adds to its charm. Nothing shabby about the food though - good choices and delicious. A couple of glasses of their Des Trois pinot noir completed another perfect Clearview lunch. Another Clearview lunch in November - we love this place, sitting amongst the vines with Tammy, delicious food and wine all adding up to a very 'Provence' experience.
After coffee served amongst the vines, we set off for the concert venue at Mission Estate. After about a 3/4 hour drive and closing in on the Mission, crowds were thickening with street parking non existent. Paying a little extra we had reserved parking actually in the Mission grounds. At booking time this seemed an extravagance, but now we were very grateful. About a 10 minute walk on smooth dry grass saw us in the VIP picnic area where sun umbrellas and groups of sand chairs had been attractively set. About half full already, we settled ourselves in a shaded spot near a narrow walkway which led to the main stage and general admission space. Soon we were happily sipping our Mission Syrah and thinking about a small snack from the picnic food we had brought. Time passed quickly people watching and being watched, before we made our way to the stage area, located our prebooked seats and settled in. The seating was single chairs tied in 2s with cable ties, which everybody quickly snipped to allow more side to side movement. A perfect evening, with a gentle breeze cooling later, made us very happy we had brought warm jackets. The little group next to me was in a very happy mood, very much enjoying Carol King with Barry Gibb being the main event, as he was for most of us. Many timeless BeeGees songs formed the backbone of Barry's show with the audience singing and dancing along, but one of the great treats of the night was his niece, Samantha, Maurice's daughter - very professional, very talented. Listening to Barry the cold was not felt - we were totally warmed by the music. The ghostly appearance of Robin, Barry's brother, sadly recently deceased, brought a sense of nostalgia and fond remembrance. Around 10:30pm, after 2 encores and with our hands sore from clapping we joined the throngs making their way down the main drive. This was a slow shuffle with no escape - the great stampede came to mind, but luckily with our VIP parking we could break away to the left to wend our way back to the California. Once on board and underway we trundled slowly back towards the main road, carefully avoiding the hundreds of walkers, then immediately turned right instead of left and became thoroughly lost! Being quite flat, except for Napier's hospital hill, there were no landmarks to orient our direction so more by chance we found ourselves coming up to the Napier - Hastings expressway. Just before the onramp the road was blocked by a police check point, obviously set up to snare those who had enjoyed more than just the music at the concert. I did my count to 10, was declared fit to continue and within 15 minutes we were home at Redcliffe. Sue had given us with the kitchen door key which gave us quiet access through to our room.
As the house was full, a 2 sitting breakfast had been suggested, ideal for us to enjoy a relaxing start to the day. So around 9am, when the other guests headed out for the day, we joined Sue and Brian, finishing in perfect time for our planned mid-morning departure for Auckland. With Napier to Auckland taking around 5 hours, not counting stops or any other holdups, our deadline was to be at Pets in the city around 5 to collect our third family member, Tammy. We would have brought her along as she was welcome at Redcliffe but may not have been appreciated at the concert.
A stop for lunch at Taupo where Linda had discovered a new French cafe which proved excellent - both the food and staff, 'Francais veritable'. A definite must next time we are passing through Taupo, so in November we enjoyed the French Cafe twice, going and coming back. Our croque monsieur, tartine and Cotes du Rhone were perfect.
By 4:30pm we are exiting the Auckland southern motorway at Mt Wellington - in plenty of time to be reunited with Tammy.