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Country Calendar - Our New Life in Miranda

August 2014: Looks like Miranda will revert to its original Maori name of Pūkorokoro. A little of the history:

Miranda is a historical fort and small village in the Firth of Thames, New Zealand.

The Ngati Whanaunga village of Pukorokoro was renamed after the warship HMS Miranda, which brought 300 soldiers of the 70th Surrey Regiment to the area in 1863, together with 600 more men on other ships who were to build a fort supporting the British troops fighting in the Waikato region during the New Zealand Wars. Several redoubts were eventually built, one of them named after the ship leading the small troop flotilla. A local headland also carries the name, together ensuring that the name became fixed.

Introduction

If you've been following our adventures around New Zealand hunting for our 'dream location', you'll know that we've now found it. And you may even have been following Art's updates on planning for the new house we were going to build on the section we bought in the hills above Miranda - see Miranda / Maramarua, or living out in the Sticks.

And you may also know that we had one of our famous 'impulse buys' (the first one was when we bought our house in Bucklands Beach within 36 hours of landing in New Zealand and the last one was when we bought 'Plum', our MG sports car - see Motorcycle Diaries - Not!). This time we bought another house!

In fact, we bought it without me even seeing the inside of it. It went this way!

There we were at 'The Field', putting the final touches to the house plans before Art visited the builder to set things in motion. And a Real Estate agent came and put an 'open Home' sign up for further down the road. 'Let's look', says I. 'No', says Art, 'it's bad manners unless you intend buying, and we don't'. 'OK - let's just drive past' says I.

So we did. The house looked fantastic from the outside, and the views were amazing. 'It looks expensive' says Art. We drove home, and I hit www.realestate.co.nz and http://www.trademe.co.nz/property to see if I could find the house. Found! And on the market for a price we could afford. We should have looked!

I was off to Wellington for the week, but we didn't want to regret missing our ideal house, so I gave Art executive powers. Next day he telephoned the agent and arranged to visit the house on his own. By the end of the day we had agreed a purchase price (subject to Due Diligence).

The New House

So what did we buy?

It's a single storey house, built by Golden Homes, and sitting on top of a ridge with wonderful 360 degree views across the Hauraki Gulf to Thames at the front, and towards Waikato rolling countryside and the village of Maramarua to the back. The house itself is about 3 years old (and therefore built to newer building code specs, including insulation and double glazing). It only has 3 bedrooms - but these range from the smallest that takes a double bed through to a huge master bedroom that takes a King bed and still leaves enough room to hold a ballroom dance! The living area (lounge, dining area, kitchen) is open plan - and again huge! Probably not the best house for a family, but for a couple of old codgers like us, it's perfect.

Not a picture of the house, but of The Dunny

Outside, there's an attached quadruple garage (I kid not - it's 10m x 10m square!) and a separate double garage, complete with shower and laundry. (Apparently the people who had the house built lived in this garage for a year). Then a wood shed and longdrop/dunny (outside earth toilet). The grounds near the house are beautifully landscaped with NZ native plants, and it has a swimming pool!

Oh - and did I mention the 13 hectares (32 acres) of land that goes with it? We own two valleys! (I never thought I'd say that when I was living in London!) Most of it is NZ native bushland, with a covenant on it that means we can't graze stock there, but there's about 4 Ha (10 acres) of paddock too.

I'm still pinching myself - I can't quite believe we own such a beautiful place.

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